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Concerned and Conceited A Victorian Romance by drcjsnider

Category: Harry Potter Genre: Humor, Romance Language: English Characters: Draco M., Hermione G. Status: Completed Published: 2011-05-24 Updated: 2011-05-24 Packaged: 2013-01-26 19:06:27 Rating: M Chapters: 1 Words: 10,072 Publisher: Summary: When Hermione brings Rose

to London for her first season, she did not expect to spend most of her time trying to prevent her daughter from getting engaged to the wrong man. Draco/Hermione, Scorpius/Rose

Concerned and Conceited A Victorian Romance

Title: Concerned and Conceited, a Victorian Romance Rating: R Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Scorpius/Rose Disclaimer: Almost everything belongs to J.K. Rowling, what doesn't belong to her could easily belong to Jane Austen, and there is at least one thing that belongs to William Shakespeare. I have made no money from this endeavor. Word Count: 9543 Warning(s): Sex, language that might make you blush if you lived in Victorian England.

Author/Artist Note(s): Written for Christiana in the final dmhgficexchange on livejournal. Christina wanted 'postHogwarts, slow progression of relationship, happy ending'. I have the slow progression and the happy ending but whether or not this is post-Hogwarts can be debated. Some might be inclined to argue that it is WAY WAY WAY before Hogwarts but I see no reason to quibble about it. I hope you enjoy reading it. I had a lot of fun writing it. A big hearty thanks to my beta the ever-talented and giving: queenb23more . I mucked around with the story after she read it, however, so any mistakes are my own. Summary: When Hermione brings Rose to London for her first season, she did not expect to spend most of her time trying to

prevent her daughter from getting engaged to the wrong man. When Hermione Weasley informed her footman she'd receive visitors on the morning of April 23, 1840, she'd never expected Lord Malfoy to present his card. Their acquaintance was trifling and their few interactions over twenty years ago had been vitriolic in nature. Indeed, Hermione's late husband had never had a kind word to say about Malfoy, even before news of his shocking pro-French stance during the Napoleonic Wars became public. She turned his card over in her hand several times, trying unsuccessfully to determine through deduction and reason

the nature of his visit. "Should I show him in, Mrs. Weasley?" Hermione looked into the expressionless face of her footman and nodded slowly. There was no point in idle speculation about the purpose of Malfoy's visit when the man with the answers to her questions stood outside the door waiting to speak with her. Not being of a delicate constitution, Hermione boldly met Lord Malfoy's gaze as he entered the drawing room. He had changed little since she'd last seen him. His features were still sharp, his eyes narrow and cunning, and his complexion fair. He was perhaps not quite as slim as

he'd once been, and the lines on his face were etched deeper, but there was no mistaking him for another man. "Lord Malfoy," she murmured as he stood before her. "Mrs. Weasley," he replied with a slight bow. "I appreciate your willingness to receive me." She inclined her head in acknowledgment his words. "Please have a seat." Once he'd arranged himself in a chair across from her, Hermione wasted no time making small talk. "I must admit that your visit is quite unexpected." "Is it?" he replied with an arch of one

eyebrow. Hermione pursed her lips. Was he actually questioning her sincerity? "There is nothing from our previous interactions that would have led me to believe you'd ever desire a deeper acquaintance." "Desire it?" Draco shook his head. "No, I don't suppose I do. However, events often place us into situations in which we have no choice but respond. Current circumstances have brought me to your doorstep." Hermione had no idea to what possible circumstances he was referring. Men did not, as a rule, seek advice or aid from women with whom they were only slightly

acquainted. They especially did not approach women who had low opinions of them, which he undoubtedly realized she held in abundance. Most men sought out women of quality only because they were interested in a liaison of some sort. Her eyes narrowed at the thought. It was preposterous to believe that he was approaching her for that reason. The two of them had not laid eyes on each other for years. She knew his wife had passed away almost a decade ago, but there had never been any indication in the papers that he was hanging out for another bride. If he believed he could somehow lure her innocent Rose into marriage in some desperate effort to wash away his past actions, she'd disabuse him of that notion

faster than he could smooth out the nonexistence wrinkles in his waistcoat. "Exactly what circumstances are those, my lord?" "The friendship between your daughter and my son." Hermione blinked in confusion. Lord Malfoy's statement made no sense. Until just this moment, she'd completely forgotten that he had a son. Moreover, it was difficult to imagine how Rose could know the younger Malfoy, let alone have a friendship with him. The Weasleys had been in London for less than a fortnight and had yet to accept any invitations into society. "I wasn't aware my daughter had been introduced to your son."

He looked at her as if she must be the worst mother in the world. "I believe they became acquainted while both were staying at Grimmauld Place last summer." She gave a jerky nod in response. Rose and Hugo had stayed with the Potter family for two months the previous year, while Hermione tried to work through the pain of her husband's unexpected death. "I did not realize your son was on intimate terms with my brother-in-law and his family." "Scorpius became friends with Albus Potter when they were both at Cambridge. Apparently, the boys were in London when your children descended for an extended visit. I'm not sure if they

exchanged correspondence over the winter, but it is my belief that they've renewed their acquaintance since your daughter has returned to London," Hermione's tight smile revealed that she'd finally realized the motivation behind Malfoy's morning visit. He was concerned that his son was infatuated with Rose. He probably thought his heir was too precious to be allowed to form an alliance with the granddaughter of a tradesman. Pushing aside her inclination to screech like a fishwife at his presumption, Hermione decided to inform Malfoy in the clearest terms possible that the Weasley family could aim for a much higher connection than the son of a man who might as well have been a traitor in the last war. "My

daughter has never mentioned your son, therefore, I daresay that their association been exaggerated. Moreover, since I have high expectations for Rose's season, I'm certain if any inclination did exist between the pair, it would soon be moderated by her contact with more advantageous situations." Hermione sat back and watched with pleasure as her criticism of Lord Malfoy's progeny stiffened his facial muscles. As she waited for his emotional outburst, she felt only moderately guilty about overstating Rose's marital expectations. There was little chance that Rose was going to be a diamond of the first water. She was too tall, too thin, too red-headed, and too old to become one of society's

most touted young misses. Moreover, as the daughter of the sixth son of a gentleman of limited means and the granddaughter of a tradesman, no peer of the realm would be interested in allying himself to her without additional inducements. While Rose's dowry was generous, it was not large enough to tempt a man in need of a fortune. Hermione knew her daughter's best chance to marry well was either marrying the child of one of her husband's former combatants-inarms or accepting a proposal from one of her cousins. Much to Hermione's surprise, the expected outburst from Malfoy never came. Instead, he gathered his wits about him and addressed her dispassionately. "While I

applaud your optimism that my concerns will come to naught, I believe it would be much better to address this issue in a straightforward manner before there are unsavory consequences. Waiting even a week might allow Scorpius and your daughter's relationship to progress to a point where it is no longer easy to dispatch. Given your desire for Miss Weasley to marry well and my belief that Scorpius is much too young to get involved in a serious liaison, it behooves us to intervene now rather than when it's too late." Although Hermione recognized the sense of Malfoy's judgment, she doubted that his sole motivation for avoiding a possible alliance between his family and the

Weasleys was his son's age. Still, the wisdom of his words was compelling. Although Hermione tried not to be an overindulgent parent, since Ron's death a year ago, she had hesitated to unnecessarily interfere with her children's potential happiness. If Rose did fall in love with Malfoy's son, it would be difficult, if not cruel, to separate them, no matter how unfortunate the alliance. Therefore, it was better to part them now before their affections became too warm. Hermione glanced at Lord Malfoy and braced herself to work with him. No matter how repugnant she found the idea, cooperating with Malfoy would be the best way to protect her daughter's heart from a misalliance. Still, she didn't have

to be pleasant about the situation. "What do you suggest we do?" she asked haughtily. "Lock them in their rooms? Forbid them to associate with each other?" "Actually," Malfoy replied, looking uneasy for the first time, "I was hoping that you might consider removing Rose from London temporarily." "Impossible," Hermione said, her eyes flashing. "Rose has already missed three seasons due to accidents, illness, and her father's death. If she misses another one, she'll she'll be" "She'll be officially a spinster?"

"Hardly that," Hermione sniffed. "However, it could be disastrous if she missed another season. You know as well as I that a girl only has a few years to make an eligible match before her options dwindle significantly. Your son operates under no such disadvantage. Why don't you just remove him from London?" Something flashed in Malfoy's grey eyes, but his face was unreadable. "Unfortunately, my wife left Scorpius with a large enough inheritance that I cannot command his obedience. It is only through fatherly fidelity that I can hope to sway his judgment." "So why don't you commence swaying?" Hermione asked, trying not to smile at

Malfoy's situation. It had to be galling for him to have so little influence over his son. "I've already suggested that he and Albus Potter go hunting in Wiltshire or travel to Paris this spring, but he refuses to leave town." "Is it his obstinacy in this matter alone that leads you to suspect his partiality to my daughter?" Malfoy shook his head. "No. There have been other indications her name has been mentioned in several conversations, Scorpius has exhibited a recent desire to have his aunt secure him a voucher to Almack's, and his purchase two days ago

of a lady's mount." Hermione bit her bottom lip as she pondered Malfoy's words. All of his evidence was circumstantial. It could point to many things that had nothing to do with her daughter. Yet, at the same time, it was very strong evidence of his interest in some eligible woman. Short of catching Rose locked in Scorpius' embrace, she might not have another clue of their possibility affection for each other until it was too late. "Perhaps I should just ask her about it? There is no point worrying if they are just acquaintances." Malfoy was saved from replying because of that very moment, Rose, Scorpius, and Albus stumbled into the Weasley drawing

room, laughing uproariously and covered from head to toe in mud. He watched as Hermione sprang to her feet, looking as horrified as he felt. "Rose?" "Oh, lud, Mum! You won't believe what happened!" "I take full responsibility for the mess, Aunt Hermione. I had no idea that the river banks were so water-logged." "Albus?" Hermione said, still in shock at the filthy appearance of her daughter and nephew. Scorpius Malfoy cleared his throat, a sheepish grin on his face. He then poked

Albus in the side with his elbow. "Where are my manners!" Rose exclaimed. "Mum, this is Scorpius Malfoy. He and Al attended Cambridge together. He went riding with us this morning. In fact, he was the only one who managed to keep his head when Albus' mount got stuck in a hole next to the river." "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Weasley," Scorpius said as he gave a deep bow that was formal in spite of the water dripping from his jacket. "I suspect that your pleasure might have better waited until you were properly attired," Malfoy spoke sternly as he made his presence in the room known. Four

heads swung toward him, three in surprise and one in relief. "Father?" Scorpius voice cracked, as his back straightened and he squared his shoulders. "Sir!" Albus gave a slight bow of recognition. Rose's mouth fell open in surprise and her gaze flitted back and forth between Scorpius and his father. If Hermione wasn't still in upset by the appearance of her daughter and her beautiful Persian rug wasn't becoming more and more water-logged by the second, she might have been amused by

the reactions of the young people to Malfoy's presence. As it was, however, her sole desire was to rid her drawing room of everyone wearing trousers so that she could clean up and question Rose. With this goal in mind, she shot Malfoy a beseeching look and then spoke firmly, "Lord Malfoy, I don't believe you've been introduced to my daughter, Rose." Malfoy inclined his head slightly. "Miss Weasley, you remind me very much of your father." Hermione eyes narrowed at what, given their history, was probably an insult both to her late husband and daughter. "Oh, lud," Rose murmured sinking in a

low curtsey that her wet riding habit made impossible to manage with any semblance of grace or style. Malfoy gave Hermione an enigmatic smile. "Mrs. Weasley, I can see you must be desirous of some privacy. I'll take my leave and can I perhaps be of some assistance in removing Scorpius and Mr. Potter from the premises?" "Thank you, Lord Malfoy; that would be very kind." She turned toward her nephew and his friend. "Albus, Mr. Malfoy, you must both return some afternoon for tea." "But Aunt Hermione" "Mum!"

"Not now, Rose," Hermione stated in a chilly tone. She then directed a speaking glance at her nephew. "Albus, make sure to give my best to your parents and please let them know I'll call on them soon." With that warning hanging in the air, Malfoy was able to usher Scorpius and Albus from the Weasley drawing room with no further delays. 0-0-0 Hermione placed her hand gently on Rose's skirt to keep her from bouncing her knee up and down repeatedly. "Darling, please." "Sorry, Mum. I'm just anxious for Albus to

arrive." As she glanced around the room, Hermione could understand her daughter being a bit nervous. After all, it wasn't everyday that a girl made her debut at Almack's Assembly Rooms. Heaven knew that Hermione had never had the opportunity. Her father's lack of social status had made it impossible for her to even contemplate such an occasion. By all means, Rose should have been barred from attendance, too. Luckily, however, one of the Patronesses was married to Neville Longbottom, an officer who had served with Ron in France. This fortunate circumstance, alongside the fact that Rose was the niece of Captain Harry Potter, the hero of Waterloo, had secured them

entrance into the hallowed hall. "He's here," Rose squeaked, jumping to her feet. Hermione grabbed her arm before she could rush off. "Sit down, dear. He'll come to you soon enough." Giving a deep sigh, Rose reluctantly returned to her seat. A gentle smile curved Hermione's lips at her daughter's enthusiasm. As she scanned the recent arrivals to the assembly rooms, however, her amusement quickly faded at the sight of Lord Malfoy and Scorpius standing with Albus and his parents. If there was one person who'd have a more

difficult time obtaining admission to Almack's than Hermione, it was Draco Malfoy. Clenching her teeth together she watched as he was pulled into what appeared to be an animated conversation by his former sister-in-law, Daphne Macmillan. Hermione's attention was eventually drawn away from Lord Malfoy's surprise appearance by Albus and Scorpius bowing a greeting to Rose. She watched as they both requested to sign her dance card. "No more than two dances with each, darling." "Mum!"

"I did not create society's conventions, Rose. I am just here to remind you of them." "Don't worry Mrs. Weasley," Scorpius said, a charming smile flashing across his countenance. "Al and I will make sure she doesn't step out of bounds." "Indeed," Hermione replied icily, determined to firmly depress any pretentions the boy might have toward her daughter. "The way you did when she went riding with you the other morning?" Scorpius flushed. "Aunt Hermione!" Albus guiltily exclaimed. "That was an accident. I assure

you we were behaving with the greatest propriety until my horse got stuck." "My dear nephew, you cannot imagine how much your reassurance does not provide me comfort." Before Albus could protest further, Captain Harry Potter and his wife, Ginevra, joined the group. "Al, take your cousin off to get some punch. I want to talk to your aunt." "Yes, sir," Albus replied with a slight bow before he, Scorpius, and Rose hurried toward the refreshment table. As soon as the young people were gone, Harry turned to Hermione and pointed a

finger at her face. "You owe me." Hermione's back stiffened at his comment. Despite the fact that Harry was her brother-in-law and one of her dearest friends, she did not appreciate his imperious attitude. "For what, pray tell? "For forcing me to share a coach with that craven blight on the peerage, Draco Malfoy." "I forced you do no such thing. Frankly, I was shocked to see him entering the Assembly Rooms with you." "As well you should be," Harry proclaimed. "While in France, Ron and I vowed never to do Malfoy a good turn if it

could be avoided." "I would have thought your abhorrence of Lord Malfoy went much deeper than that," Ginevra commented wryly. "We were feeling particularly magnanimous after having trussed up Napoleon and shipped him off to the isle of Saint Helena," Harry explained. "And your nobleness was doubtlessly encouraged by a half dozen bottles of fine French wine," Hermione added. "That does not, however, explain why you believed me desirous of Lord Malfoy's attendance tonight." Harry frowned. "Albus came home the

other day nattering on about you entertaining Lord Malfoy to promote a match between Scorpius and Rose. He seemed to think I would be doing you a great favor if I helped pave the way for the union." "Your son was completely off the mark. Although Lord Malfoy did call on me, the two of us were trying to insure that a misalliance would not occur between our children. I was initially inclined to believe he overstated the warmth of their affections, but if Albus is promoting the two." Hermione sighed, "It is not what I want for her, Harry." "I should think not. I mean, Scorpius is well enough, although perhaps too young

for Rose. But for her to forever be connected to the Malfoy family makes my innards ache. Draco's a notable coward, an endless liar, an hourly prose-breaker, and the owner of not one good quality." Ginevra elbowed her husband in the ribs. "He's standing behind me, isn't he?" Harry commented his face flushing. "Perceptive," Malfoy intoned dryly. He turned his attention to Hermione and bowed slightly. "Mrs. Weasley, I've come to claim a dance." She started to make an excuse but noticed Scorpius and Rose headed toward the dance floor. If she was serious about

thwarting the younger pair's budding romance, it was a good idea to get a closer and unobstructed view of their interaction. So Hermione extended her hand and allowed Malfoy to assist her to her feet. "Thank you, I'd be delighted." Hermione moved easily into Lord Malfoy's arms as they joined the other dancers. She was struck immediately by how different it felt to dance with him rather than Ron. Ron had towered over her, making it impossible for them to demonstrate anything close to proper form. Malfoy, however, was only three or four inches taller than she, so it felt comfortable to place her fingers on his shoulder and he didn't have to stretch to get his hand on her waist. He was also

very graceful and didn't trod on her slippers once. It was the most she'd enjoyed dancing since before her marriage. "So what do you think?" "It's heavenly," Hermione smiled widely. Malfoy frowned disapprovingly. "What? Have you changed your opinion about the acceptability of the match then?" Hermione blinked rapidly, her cheeks coloring when she realized he'd been talking about Rose and Scorpius. "Oh, noof course not." She looked toward her daughter, who was just then laughing at something Scorpius had whispered in

her ear. "However, they are an attractive pair." Lord Malfoy surprised Hermione by nodding in response. "The Malfoy men have been singularly fortunate over the last two centuries in attracting beautiful women." Probably because Malfoy men are singularly attractive themselves, Hermione thought before mentally chastising herself for such inappropriate contemplations. She turned the conversation back to him. "Why have there been only two centuries of goodlooking women?" "Before that, there was a decided lack of

fortune that kept the fair of face and form at arm's length. Luckily, one of my forbearers made a temporary alliance with Cromwell in the mid-seventeenth century that filled the family coffers." "You have a superior understanding of your family's past circumstances, Lord Malfoy." "You can thank my tutor's vicious disposition and twitchy caning arm for my ability to recall historical minutia. That was one family tradition I refused to pass on to my son. Scorpius is frightfully ignorant when it comes to family history." "Which is probably why he considers Rose acceptable marriage material,"

Hermione stated forthrightly. Malfoy stared down at her, a deep frown creasing his features. "I know that given our past encounters and my family's reputation as being inordinately concerned with lineage, you are more than justified in your comments. However, I assure you that the only concern I have about an alliance between Scorpius and Rose is my son's age." Hermione felt the heat spread across her face. She wanted to challenge his pronouncement since it went against everything she knew to be true, but it would be ungenerous to disbelieve him. She glanced across the floor at Rose and Scorpius and saw her daughter looking at

her. Rose raised an eyebrow and grinned. Hermione shook her head silently in reply. "I'm afraid our dancing together is not having a depressing affect on our children's pleasure in each other company." Malfoy swung her around so that he could watch the pair. "Are you sure you can't remove her from London?" "Positive," Hermione replied coldly. "Then I believe a three-pronged attack is in order." "We just can't order them to stay apart?" "If you want to spur them into an elopement," he warned. "I believe we

must be much more cunning about this." For the first time since Hermione had found out about this situation, she was grateful that Lord Malfoy shared her goal. If she alone was intent on undermining a potential alliance between Rose and Scorpius, she would have been beset by doubts, indecision, and uncertainty. Having Malfoy's support, however, gave her the confidence necessary to tackle what would undoubtedly be unsavory and disagreeable tasks. "What is the first prong of your strategy?" "We must introduce your daughter to someone who is more charming, attractive, and eligible than Scorpius."

"Do you plan on commencing a search for just such a Paragon or do you already have someone in mind?" "I believe you are acquainted with my cousin, Theodore Lupin. He's of an age and disposition to be highly attractive to a girl like Miss Weasley." Hermione was inclined to agree. Mr. Lupin was a very well established and a highly regarded young man. He was also Harry's godson, so Hermione could arrange several meetings between he and Rose even without Malfoy's assistance. "He would be acceptable. What is the second part of your strategy?" "We become crass, domineering, and

haughty parents, at least in front of their favored attachments." "So when Rose is out of the room, I should question your son about all those qualities that he lacks and the circumstances that make him an ineligible match for my daughter?" Malfoy smiled, obviously happy that Hermione was embracing his plans so readily. "Exactly! I will do with same with Rose. Hopefully, the prospect of dealing with an overbearing in-law for the next two or three decades will give even the most ardent of lovers a pause." "What if it fails to prove effective?"

"Then we must use my third idea. I'm you'll find it the most disagreeable." Hermione raise both her eyebrows and waited expectantly. "We'll get engaged. If the idea of marrying their future step-brother or step-sister doesn't drive Rose and Scorpius apart, then we'll stage an elaborate breakup. That will allow each of us to claim extreme duress at thought of any continued connection to the child of our former paramour." Malfoy was right to suspect that Hermione would find his third strategy most disturbing. If she pretended to be engaged to Malfoy, her friends and Ron's family

would be shocked. She would also be limiting her access to London society, perhaps forever, since there were still several households who would never reopen their doors to the Malfoys or those who allied with them. However, if she was serious about insuring that a permanent relationship between Scorpius and Rose never occurred, it was this strategy that might prove the most successful. Rose was a tender-hearted girl and would hesitate to pain her mother by becoming engaged to the son of a man who had ruined her mother's happiness. Hermione finally nodded as the dance came to an end. "I can agree to a fake engagement and break-up as a last option to drive Rose and Scorpius apart."

"Excellent!" Malfoy grinned, looking eager to launch their strategy. Tucking Hermione's hand into the crook of his arm, he walked her back to her chair, bowed, and with a barely noticeable wink, left her with the Potters and Rose. Hermione blushed as everyone in the vicinity seemed to staring at her. "So are the rules that govern acceptable behavior in society different for you and Lord Malfoy than for Scorpius and me?" Rose chirped, unable to conceal a mischievous glint in her eye. "Of course not! Why in the world would you even ask that?"

"Maybe," Harry interrupted, looking more annoyed than amused, "because you just partnered with Malfoy for three dances in a row." "I did not," Hermione replied, glancing at Ginevra for confirmation. "Did I?" When she received a nod and sympathetic smile in return, it was all Hermione could do to stop herself from plopping down in the nearest chair and covering her face with her hands. Instead, conscious of her audience, she gave a tiny shrug, grabbed Rose's dance card, and preceded to double check it so that her daughter didn't make a similar mistake. 0-0-0

The next three weeks were some of the most active in Hermione's life. Even if she hadn't been working with Lord Malfoy to undermine any potential romantic relationship between Rose and Scorpius, she would have been exhausted. Ushering Rose to dinner parties, balls, luncheons, the theater, viewings at the Royal Academy, and carriage rides in Hyde Park came to dominate her every waking minute. And while Hermione had been correct in her assessment that Rose was not going to become the toast of the London season, the girl had done remarkably well in attracting several eligible suitors in addition to Scorpius Malfoy. Unfortunately, she showed a preference

for none of them. Despite Hermione's hints and nudges about how comforting it would be to marry a man who had some experience in the world, Rose only shook her head and replied that she was determined to marry a man who she respected and loved, no matter what his age. Hermione would have undoubtedly driven herself mad wondering whether Rose's words were an indication of her feelings for Scorpius had Lord Malfoy not removed his son from town for a fortnight. Narcissa Malfoy, the dowager viscountess, had fallen ill and a return to Wiltshire was deemed imperative. Hermione had used the younger Malfoy's

absence as an opportunity to throw Rose into the company of Theodore Lupin as much as possible. The handsome and charming young man had been a faithful escort to two balls, the theater, and an evening at Almack's. Moreover, he and Rose appeared to have much in common. They were both slightly bookish, took an interested in public affairs and social reforms, and could hold long, tedious discussions about the current political maneuverings in Parliament. Although it was too soon to hope that Theodore was besotted by her daughter, Hermione could reasonably hope that if the pair remained in close contact for another two weeks, a marriage offer would be the outcome. Determined to pursue this course of

action, Hermione sat down at the desk in her library and began composing a letter to Lord Malfoy instructing him not to allow Scorpius to return to London under any circumstances. Before she could finish the greeting, however, a knock at the library door broke her concentration. "Enter," she called out, not bothering to look up from her missive until she heard someone clearing his throat. "Lord Malfoy!" she gasped in surprising, dropping her pen and splattering ink in the middle of her letter. "You cannot be here." He arched an eyebrow. "Obviously, I can be here. In fact, I am here." She released a deep sigh. "I suppose it

would be too much to hope that you left your son back in Wiltshire?" "Entirely too much to hope. My mother has fully recovered and rather suffer a setback by being forced to gaze upon Scorpius' mooncalf-like countenance, she demanded that he remove himself from her vicinity until he could leave off pouting like a three-year who had lost his favorite toy." "This really is most inconvenient. I am close to bringing about a match between Rose and Theodore, but if Scorpius reenters the picture, I'm afraid all my work will be for naught." "I apologize for disrupting your efforts, but if you haven't managed to convince

your daughter to transfer her affections from Scorpius to Lupin yet, it probably isn't going to happen." "It's only been two weeks! It is much too early for him to declare himself, but in another month if Scorpius stayed away Rose might be prepared to accept a proposal." "Might be prepared? Lupin has all the qualities that any young girl could reasonably expect in a spouse. Surely if no other offers of marriage materialized, she'd eagerly accept him." Hermione shrugged. "Perhaps, but it isn't that simple. Rose is determined to marry for love."

Malfoy raised his nose in the air slightly, making him look even haughtier than usual. "And who put the idiotic notion that love was a requirement for a successful marriage in her head?" "I suppose I did, but I assure you it was unintentional. Ron and I were deeply in love from almost the moment we met until the day he passed away. I could not have hoped for a more affectionate union. I never suspected that it might promote unreasonably high marital expectations in my daughter." "I should have known that you were to blame for Miss Weasley's embrace of sentimental claptrap. You've never been skilled concealing your emotions. You're

dislike of me has been evident since the first time we met." "I am quite certain that any dislike toward you I ever evidenced was richly deserved." "Thank you for proving my point." Taking a deep breath, Hermione stood, moved to the front of the desk, and crossed her arms over her chest. It was apparent that Malfoy was being offensive to obscure his own responsibility for this situation. "What about Scorpius?" "What about him?" "Where does he get his sentimental side?"

Malfoy blinked rapidly, obviously unnerved by her turning the tables. "He isn't." "Really? So if I go into the drawing room, I won't find a bouquet of lilies he's left for Rose?" Lord Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "Why would you suspect that?" "Because he wrote me and asked about her favorite flowers." His jaw clenched. "And you just had to tell him? I thought we were supposed to be allied in disrupting any match between them. I can't believe you are promoting his courtship!"

"We are allied," Hermione told him with a satisfied grin, delighted to have penetrated his cool demeanor. "Rose hates lilies. But you haven't answered my question. Where does Scorpius get his romantic side?" "His grandmother." "Really?" "Yes, really! Why is that so hard to believe? Do you suspect all Malfoys incapable of deeper human feelings?" "Of course not. It's just unusual for a boy to choose to make his grandmother his emotional role-model." "Well, um" Draco cleared his throat, visibly uncomfortable. "Like you and your

husband, my wife and I had a very agreeable and lovingly demonstrative relationship. It is possible that he might have assumed that all married couples are as affectionate." Hermione smiled in sympathy. "It isn't a bad thing. It's a bit inconvenient now that Rose and Scorpius are mistaking their infatuation with each other for love. But in the future, I'm certain life will be much more agreeable for both of them, if they end up settling down with spouses they admire and love." "Perhaps you right. It does not, however, address our current dilemma. Since you have not yet been able to bring Lupin up to scratch, I suggest we move on to the next

phase in our plan." "The criticisms?" "And the insults." "Your specialty," Hermione teased, blushing slightly as she realized she was flirting with Malfoy over the quality she most despised about him. He bowed slightly in acknowledgement of accuracy of her statement, the hint of a grin ghosting his lips. "It almost sounds like you admire me, Mrs. Weasley." "A momentarily lapse of judgment I'm sure." Malfoy chuckled. "Undoubtedly."

0-0-0 When Hermione entered the Opera House, she knew something was wrong. Although Theodore Lupin had again agreed to be her and Rose's escort of the evening, as soon as they took their seats he had excused himself. Hermione watched as he moved to a nearby box in which sat Molly and Lucy Weasley and their parents. "I think he's in love." "What?" Hermione asked distractedly. "Teddy," Rose replied. "I think he's in love with Lucy." "Whatever makes you say that?" Hermione said, frowning deeply.

Rose shrugged. "I can't think of any other reason he would escort us everywhere. Since Uncle Percy doesn't let Lucy out of his sight, agreeing to accompany us on outings gives Teddy immediate access to her." Frowning, Hermione looked back at her brother-in-law's box. It did look like Theodore was enthralled with the petite and shy Lucy Weasley. "I'm so sorry, darling. Were you very much attached to him?" Rose laughed. "Not at all. He's very smart and kind, but I never thought of him as someone I might choose as a marriage partner."

Hermione wanted to question her on exactly what she did want in a spouse, but the house lights came down and time for serious talk ended. During intermission, Rose strolled along the gallery with Scorpius and Albus while Draco cornered Hermione in her box. "How did it go?" he asked quietly, looking around making sure they weren't overheard. Hermione's brows drew together. "How did what go?" "You being a shrew to Scorpius," he hissed in exasperation. "I swear, Mrs. Weasley, your lack of attention to detail makes me question my past assessment of

you as one of the most intelligent women in England." He paused and his eyes narrowed ominously. "Or perhaps you've decided that a match between our children is desirable after all." She shrugged. If she was honest, Hermione would have to acknowledge that the idea of Scorpius and Rose forming a permanent attachment did not fill her with the same dread it had a mere month ago. Still, the younger Malfoy wasn't her first or even second choice for her daughter. "I have not changed my mind. However, I have not been able to engage in a campaign of criticism against your son. Not only does it go against my personality to needlessly harass young men half my age, but Scorpius appears to

have a number admirable qualities. I could not find anything to admonish him about besides his unfortunate choice of a father." Malfoy snorted. "Not all is lost; I'm certain you've must have found ample opportunity to insult my daughter." He looked uncomfortable. "Well" "Lord Malfoy!" Hermione exclaimed much louder than she'd intended. She lowered her voice when she noticed the faces in the gallery turned toward them. "This was your one contribution to our plan. How could you fail?"

"I didn't fail, not exactly." He sighed. "I just found it much harder to be cruel to an innocent than I would have thought." "I don't remember you finding it difficult to be cruel to Ron, Harry, or I twenty-five years ago," Hermione reminded him. "Apparently some of us do eventually grow up and mature." Hermione laughed. "Who would have ever thought I could resent that?" She leaned forward and grasped his hand to give it a slight squeeze. His eyes opened wide in surprise and he squeezed back. "Father?"

Hermione and Malfoy both jerked, dropped each other's hands, and turned around to see Scorpius, Rose, and Albus standing in the entry to the box, staring at them in surprise. "What's going on?" Rose asked in a soft voice. Hermione stood frozen in shock. What could they say that might explain their physical contact and familiarity? She looked at Lord Malfoy an unspoken plea in her eyes for him to solve their predicament. Malfoy cleared his throat and she sensed him straightening his shoulders. "Wish me happy. Mrs. Weasley has consented to be

my bride." 0-0-0 "I can't believe you announced we were engaged," Hermione muttered past the fake smile she'd had plastered to her face for the last twenty-four hours. Malfoy flicked whip and guided his phaeton and pair around a slow moving delivery coach. "What in the world did you expect me to do? You had placed us both in a compromising position. Was I just supposed to denounce you as a loose woman?" Hermione exhaled slowly through her nose to keep from screeching at him. "It is

1840, Lord Malfoy. I believe that society would not shun a woman for simply touching the hand of a man she wasn't related to." Malfoy harrumphed in the mode of men everywhere who felt themselves put upon to explain the ways of the world to a woman. "Perhaps, if both of us had spotless backgrounds, we might have been able to weather any scandal that might have emerged from the incident at the opera. However, given my reputation and your upbringing" "And just what was wrong with my upbringing?" Hermione interjected, her tone of outrage inadequately concealed.

Malfoy ground his teeth together. "Once we are wed you will, of course, stop interrupting me." His attitude now caused Hermione to ground her teeth together. "We are not going to be married!" "Calling off the engagement already? For shame, Mrs. Weasley, everyone will suspect that you are a brazen flirt." "Lord Malfoy, would you please be serious." "My dear, I am serious. We can not call off our phony engagement until at least after the season ends. Otherwise, we will be doing irreparable damage to our

reputations. Besides, pretending to be in a relationship was the next phase of our plan to separate Rose and Scorpius. I don't see why you are being so difficult." "It was just unexpected. I am not good at dealing with sudden changes." Malfoy smiled at her. "I am sympathetic. I also do not respond well to new situations. However, I will do my best to not make your life difficult and perhaps, if we are very clever, we can find your daughter a husband who isn't my son while maintaining our good characters in the eyes of society." "Yes, but if we are going to successfully pull this off, we will need to spend more

time in each other's company." "Hardly a hardship." Hermione smiled a real smile for the first time since Malfoy announced their 'engagement.' "You are very kind. I am coming to believe that it might be enjoyable being temporarily engaged to you, Lord Malfoy." "Certainly it will be. I can be a very entertaining companion when I set my mind on it. There is one thing I'm going to insist on, however. You must call me Draco. I can not have my intended addressing me the same way as the chamber maids."

Hermione giggled. "Of course, but then you must also call me by Christian name." "Hermione," he stated softly. "Yes, I can do that." 0-0-0 News of Lord Malfoy's engagement to Mrs. Hermione Weasley spread rapidly throughout London society. Several of Ron's brothers were initially outraged. Harry was astounded and Ginerva was upset. Rose and Scorpius, however, took the news calmly. They both offered their best wishes and promised to help with the required preparations for the wedding. Rather than driving the two of them apart, their parents' engagement seemed to bring

them into even closer contact. "This is a disaster," Hermione complained one afternoon to Draco. The tension caused by Ron's family's disapproval, Rose's continuing favoritism of Scorpius, and Hermione's own growing fondness for Malfoy were getting to her. "I admit it hasn't gone at all according to my plans." "I don't know why I ever agreed to follow your foolish plans," Hermione grumbled. "It wasn't like they were great successes during the Napoleonic Wars. Why they would be any better now is beyond me." Draco glared at her. "Has anyone ever

informed you that continually bringing up the past is not only extremely annoying but also rude and uncouth?" Hermione pursed her lips and glared right back at him. "I don't need an etiquette lesson from someone who barely escaped imprisonment as a traitor to the crown." "Faith and damnation, Hermione! Are you sure your husband didn't kill himself to get away from your nagging?" "How dare you!" Hermione gasped. She stalked across the drawing room until she was standing directly in front of Malfoy. "Ron and I were deliriously happy. Unlike you, he appreciated my observations and opinions. It is only a weak and insecure

man who can't stand a little honest reflection on his abilities or lack thereof." Draco grabbed her wrist and pulled her flush against him. "Perhaps he was receiving some form of physical compensation that made listening to your sharp tongue bearable." Hermione's knees went weak as Malfoy's gaze swept from her face to her bosom. "Draco" she whispered. She needed to demand he release her immediately, but for someone reason, she couldn't catch her breath. Malfoy bent his head over her and pressed a ruthless kiss on her lips. Held in his hard embrace, Hermione gave a little cry,

half in protest and half in gladness. A knock at the door caused them both to freeze. Draco slowly released her and Hermione stepped away from him, straightening her gown as she called out, "Enter." Her stone-faced footman walked into the room carrying a sliver tray with a note upon it. "A letter just arrived for Lord Malfoy." "Thank you," Malfoy replied as he retrieved his letter. Hermione marveled at how steady and calm his voice sounded. She dismissed the servant and watched the expression on Draco's face harden as he read the missive.

"I must go." "Why? Is something wrong?" Draco looked uncertain. Finally, he squared his shoulders and nodded. "It's Scorpius, he's eloped." "No!" Hermione gasped. She felt her eyes fill with tears, unable to believe that Rose would do something so rash. Malfoy crossed to her quickly and took both her hands in his. "I'll go get them and bring them home. There will be no scandal. We'll keep it quiet and have the banns read immediately. I'll make it clear to them that we won't stand in the way of their relationship."

"I want to come with you." "What? No! You stay here in case they change their minds and return." Hermione shook her head. "I need to go. It will be much easier to avoid a scandal if I am with you. I'll pack an over-night bag while you go get your carriage." "Hermione" he started to protest. "Please, Draco. I won't nag or be a bother. I just need to be there for Rose." She saw him draw in a deep breath. "Fine, get ready. I'll be back with my carriage in thirty minutes." 0-0-0

As Hermione swayed with the carriage, she still couldn't believe that Rose had eloped. It was so extreme, especially from her level-headed daughter. Although she and Draco had been actively trying to prevent Rose and Scorpius from making a match, it had been done in a very circuitous manner. She had never let Rose suspect that she didn't look favorably on the younger Malfoy. "This makes no sense. Why would they take this step? Did you say anything?" Draco shook his head. "No, I've deliberately kept silent about his interest in Rose. I didn't want any disapproval on part to push him into something like this." "Why didn't they come to us? Are we that

irreproachable?" "Perhaps they believed us too diverted by our own engagement." Hermione took a deep breath, trying to stave off the tears that were threatening to fall. "Would it have been possible for us to make a bigger mess out of this entire situation if we'd been attempting to?" "My dear, please don't get upset. While this event is unpleasant in the extreme, it isn't hopeless. Indeed, even should the worst happen and we not reach them in time, it won't be a disaster. We can keep it quiet, put them in Wiltshire the rest of the season, and maybe take them to Paris. When they return London next year as a

married couple, any talk about a possible elopement will have died down." Hermione gave him a questioning glance. "You seem to have a lot of information on how elopements can be concealed." A flush stole over Draco's face. "I eloped with my first wife." Hermione's eyes grew wide with wonder. "I never heard." "The families hushed it up," Draco informed her. "Everyone was quite eager to avoid any gossip." "But why was an elopement necessary in the first place?" Hermione asked.

"The Greengrasses weren't thrilled with the idea of their youngest daughter marrying a traitor. Unfortunately for them, nothing could stand in the way of two young people convinced that they'd just discovered true love." He paused and a look containing a mixture of anger and sadness marred his features. "Unfortunately for my wife, the Greengrasses never got over their disapproval." "Did they make things difficult for you?" Draco shrugged. "I think the worry about her parents' unhappiness wore on Astoria. I believe it weakened her to the extent that she never fully recovered after giving birth to Scorpius. She only conceived

once after that but miscarried early in the pregnancy. She died soon afterwards in 1831." Hermione felt a stab of pain for Draco. "Is that the other reason?" "What?" "Is that the other reason why you didn't want Rose and Scorpius to form an attachment, because you were worried that her family would never accept him? I've suspected for a while that your concern about a marriage couldn't solely be for his age." Draco's mouth tightened. "It undoubtedly sounds foolish, but I knew that the

Weasley family would not be overjoyed or even welcoming to my son. I wanted to spare him the disappointment and sorrow that his mother and I experienced." "You're a good father, Draco." She was silent for several seconds, her mind seemingly far away, but her eyes locked on his. When her face cleared, it portrayed acceptance and another deeper emotion. "In fact, you are a good man. You've changed since we were younger, become more thoughtful and considerate. Neither your son nor yourself should be forever judged because of your mistakes and illconsidered opinions from over two decades ago." "Thank you, Hermione," he replied, a

trace of smile on his lips. "Your good opinion means the world to me." He picked her hand up from where it lay on the seat next to him and pressed a kiss into her palm. Hermione's breath hitched as she reached up to trail her free hand along his jaw. Malfoy muttered an oath under his breath and before Hermione realized what was happening, she was in his arms and he was lowering his mouth to hers. The kiss began soft and sweet, but they were so desperate for each other that it quickly changed. His finger tangled in her hair, while she wrapped her arms around his neck and opened her lips to his probing tongue.

The kiss set them ablaze. Draco pulled her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her waist. His kiss moved from her mouth to her neck while his hands caressed her back. Within seconds, the two of them were hot, wet, and ready to forget that their engagement was phony. Hermione managed to shift her body until she was straddling him, her skirts bunched up around her middle. Draco braced his legs against the opposite seat and was moving against her warmth, even as he struggled with the buttons of his trousers. Hermione untied the strings of her drawers and gave a deep moan of satisfaction when her flesh came into contact with Draco's. Within moments, he was hot inside her, moving fast and hard.

It was awkward, uncomfortable, and absolutely the best thing that she had experienced. Although she could hear Draco murmuring soft words, their meaning didn't penetrate the fog of passion she was wrapped in. She pressed herself tightly against him, dug her hands into his hips, and cried out. They came, seconds apart, spilling into each other in noisy abandonment. By the time they had caught their breaths, moved off each other, and were righting their clothing, the coach began to slow. Draco opened the window and stuck his head out of the carriage to confer with the driver. When he pulled his head back in, the sight of his wind-blown hair and his

flushed cheeks made Hermione want to climb upon him all over again. "There is an inn about two miles up the road. It is one of the most frequented stops been London and Scotland. We should be able to find out from the innkeeper whether or not Rose and Scopius have passed this way recently." She nodded her head slowly but did say anything, afraid her voice would betray her continued state of arousal. "Hermione, about what just happened, I want you to know that is, I'd like to make it clear" Draco fell silent and Hermione's stomach

clenched in pain. She didn't think she could bear listening him to apologize for having made love to her. She wanted to interrupt him and tell him he didn't need to say anything, but her throat had closed up. "It's just that I want it to happen again. I don't want our engagement to end once the situation between Rose and Scorpius is settled. I want it to be real." "Oh, Draco" "Will you at least think about it? I don't need an answer immediately." Hermione shook her head and saw the lines around his mouth tighten. "I don't need to think about it. I want to marry you,

too." "Oh, my darling," he whispered, pulling her into his embrace. "I am overjoyed." Before they could seal their understanding with a kiss, the carriage pulled to halt in the inn's yard. Draco alighted from the carriage and then turned to assist Hermione. They were greeted by the innkeeper, who immediately began apologizing for having already rented the only private parlor available. Draco nodded. "Did you by any chance rent to a man of about my height and coloring who was accompanied by a redheaded girl?"

The innkeeper nodded. "Oh, that I did! Are you familiar with or perhaps related to the young Mr. Malfoy?" Hermione squeezed Draco's arm in excitement. "I am his father. If you would be so kind as to take us to the parlor, I'd love to surprise him with my presence." The innkeeper nodded and led Draco and Hermione through the establishment. He knocked on the door to the parlor and then slowly opened it revealing the occupants inside. "Aunt Hermione!" "Father?"

"Oh, lud, Mum?" Draco shook his head at Scorpius, Rose, Albus, and another young woman, who looked familiar but whose name he couldn't recall. As they quieted down, he gave a guinea to innkeeper and requested refreshments be brought for himself and Hermione. Once the door was again shut, he turned toward his son and demanded an explanation. "It's just like my note said," Scorpius replied, standing straight. "I'm involved in an elopement." "But whatever for?" Hermione asked, glancing between him and Rose. "We wouldn't have prevented the two of you

from getting engaged." "Oh, no, Mum! It isn't Scorpius and I who are eloping," Rose hurried to explain. "We were waiting for all the commotion over your engagement with Lord Malfoy to die down before we spoke to you about our marriage plans." "Then who?" "Me!" Albus proclaimed, moving to stand next to the fair-haired girl who had not yet uttered a word. "I'm in love with Charlotte Goyle and I don't care what her father did in the Napoleonic Wars or that she's working as a governess. I am determined to marry her!"

"My goodness," Hermione stated as calmly as possible. "Your father and mother disapprove?" Albus nodded. "They keep uttering some rubbish about me being too young to marry, but I know the real reason is their dislike of Mr. Goyle and their snobbish attitudes about Charlotte's lack of a proper dowry." Hermione turned toward Rose. "Why are you here?" "When Scorpius told me what Al had planned, I insisted on coming along and trying to talk them out of taking this step. If they could just wait a little while longer, Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginerva would

have to agree to the match. Once they knew that Albus and Charlotte were serious, they would have to eventually put away their objections. They won't want a permanent breech with him." "I'm so glad that learn that you inherited your mother's level-headedness, Rose. I haven't heard any truer words spoken since I entered the parlor. Now, I think we should all sit down to supper and then return to London before Charlotte's father or her employers raise an alarm." "Lord Malfoy, you don't understand!" Albus exclaimed, his face flushed in dismay. "I understand better than you realize, Mr.

Potter. I eloped with Scorpius' mother and remember the anxiety and pangs of disappointment quiet well. My experience, however, also taught me that there is almost always a better means to achieve one's desire than to flaunt societal strictures. Therefore, during our return journey to London, I will help you develop a three pronged plan to win over your parents' agreement to a union between yourself and Miss Goyle." 0-0-0 Hermione felt someone shaking her shoulder. She tried to open her eyes, but her head was pounding. "Hermione! Hermione, wake up!"

She lifted her head off the table upon which it had been resting. "Draco?" "Yes. When you didn't show up for our date, I came to check on you, found the room filled with fumes, and you passed out. I've opened a window, but perhaps I should take you to St. Mungo's just to make sure you're alright." Hermione's head was beginning to clear. "No, I'm fine. I was working on a potion as a gift for Rose and Scorpius to take on their honeymoon. I was reading while waiting for it to boil and must have forgotten about the need for proper ventilation." He shook his head at her

absentmindedness but then perked up. "A honeymoon potion? Is it anything that needs testing?" he asked with a leer. Hermione chuckled. "It's not that kind of potion, you pervert. It's an extra strong sun-block. Both of them have such fair skin that I didn't want sunburns to ruin their trip." "Boring but thoughtful," Draco said before he picked up the book she'd been reading. "Sense and Sensibility, what's this about?" "It's just a nineteenth century romance about two sisters' attempts to find true love."

"Would I like it?" "There are no naughty parts, if that is what you are asking," Hermione informed him. Draco dropped the book back on the table, a tiny pout on his face. "Too bad." "However," Hermione teased, standing up to wrap her arms around his neck, "it did inspire a rather wicked dream that I wouldn't mind acting out." Draco's face lit up. "Really? Does it involve props? You might recall my fondness for them." Hermione nodded. She definitely remembered his prop fetish. She even had a box of them stashed under the bed to

surprise him with some evening. "Unfortunately, these props might be too difficult for even you to acquire." He scoffed at her words. "Don't underestimate my abilities. Tell me what you need and I'll return with it in under an hour." She grinned at his confidence. "All right, I'm going to need a corset, a hoop skirt, and a carriage." Draco eyes grew wide and his mouth dropped open. "If you don't think you can do it" Hermione's voice trailed off. "No, no! I can," he grinned. "I'm just going

to need two hours instead of one." Then with a wink and pop of Apparation, he was gone. The End