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Let There Be No More Curse

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Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to Jk Rowling, I do not make any profit in writing this story what so ever, I am just having some fun.

Summary: 100 years ago, The Malfoy Heirs were cursed by only enabling them to provide just one heir for each generation after. That is until two people fool around, after having consumed too much alcohol. Drama, Romance, EWE

Warnings:
Adult Language
Explicit Sex (fingering, oral)
Marriage Law

Pairings:

Draco/Hermione(main)

Lucius/Narcissa(often mentioned)

Harry/Ginny(often mentioned)

Ron/Susan Bones(not mentioned much)

Note: This is a work in progress. Things may change without my meaning to. It happens a lot as a writer. This is also my official first 'Dramione' fanfic, so please be kind- thank you!


Whispers on her skin sent her hair to rise, she did not even remember the words that were said, only that the feel of his breath against her ignited a need. A hot, building fire of desire for something more.

His lips kissed down her body, his tongue leaving behind a light, moist trail, making her shudder as the cool air touched it. Hands skillfully grazed along her, leading his mouth to his destination. She cried out, pulling at his hair as light waves of pleasure jolted through her. His tongue flicked at her playfully, causing her muscles to tighten up at her quick release, sending her into a series of panting and twitching.

Ron had never been so talented. Not enough to make her cry out in complete bliss.

"Am I better?" The man asked. Not to reassure himself, since he knew better, but he wanted to hear her say it. "Am I better than Weasley?" He dipped two fingers into her dripping hole, making her whole body jump with anticipation.

"Y-Yes!" She gasped, thrusting her hips to his movement. "Please, don't stop!" She begged.

He continued to fuck her with his fingers until she hurled herself up to kiss his nipple, hoping it would arouse him further. It instantly hardened once she had encased it into her mouth. She gave it a bit of a sucking, and heard him groan. She watched him lean back his head, closing his eyes.

"Mione..." he moaned. "May I call you that?" He asked rhetorically, leaning over the top of her before devouring her mouth with his. They fought fiercely for dominance, flaring up their insides even more.

Hermione reached down between them, grabbing his dick. He hissed as her hand wrapped snugly around him, his cock hardening more to her touch.

"Fuck me," she whispered, stroking him gently, guiding the tip of him to her wet pool. She smiled in delight. He felt nice against her.

He chuckled amusingly. "It would be my pleasure." He lifted himself a bit to snatch her hand out the way, placing it, and her other, around his waist. "You'll want to hold on tight."

Her screams echoed throughout the room as he greedily dove into her, pounding against her, increasing her wails. She wrapped her legs around him, thrusting up, matching his movements, wanting to take him all.

* / *

"Sorry!" Hermione gasped, holding an arm up from her bent over position.

"Are you alright?" Ginny asked worriedly from the bathroom doorway.

Hermione hurled into the toilet, groaning from the stomach and throat pains, the weakness of her retching muscles, and the sudden headache that was approaching.

Not to mention the embarrassment of puking on the gift that she had bought for Susan Weasley's baby shower. A cute, little, blue pajama outfit with a duckling with the words, 'Aren't I Ducklin' Cute?!', under it.

"I-" she hurled again, unable to answer Ginny.

"Oh, Mione..." Ginny said softly, pulling her friend's hair back from the bowl of the toilet. "Here." She touched Hermione's wrist with a potion. The cool glass vial relieved Hermione just a bit from the hot flash of her stomach ache.

"No..." Hermione said hoarsely, followed by another horrid sound of her throwing up whatever she had eaten that morning.

"It'll make you feel better," Ginny said coaxingly.

"It's n-not s-safe," she said, struggling through a cough. She needed to wet her throat. Hermione stood up, feeling a bit dizzy. Ginny helped her get her balance. Her friend flushed the toilet, and put the seat down, so Hermione could sit at it. "Drink," Hermione said, motioning to her dry throat.

Ginny understood, conjuring up a cup and filling it at the sink. She watched as Hermione took careful gulps to ensure her entire throat got washed away from the vile that she had just heaved up. Other than her throbbing headache, she felt much better.

"Why isn't the potion safe?" Ginny asked confusingly. "Ron didn't make it, you know."

Hermione laughed a bit at the joke, wincing at the irritation that the vibrating gesture caused to her head. "Ginny... It's not safe for the baby. I'm pregnant."

"What?!" Ginny gasped out in excitement. "How?! Who?! When?!"

That was the problem. Hermione cursed herself for not knowing who the father of the baby was. She knew when it had happened; on that careless night of drinking. The same night that Ron had announced to her that he and Susan where going to have a baby, and were getting married because of it. It had been a shock to Hermione. Her first steady boyfriend had moved on after their breakup two years ago

She loved Ron still, but she couldn't blame him. The breakup was her fault, really. She had pushed him too far, upset that he had wanted to play Professional Quidditch instead of completing his Auror training, quitting it after it had gotten too hard for him.

Finally Ron just had enough of her nitpicking, and took off to do what he wanted, leaving her behind.

They were still friends, but their broken relationship had somewhat tempered with the special thing they had before they had started dating. Hermione vowed to never again date one of her friends. It just wasn't worth losing something so important.

"I..." Hermione's eyes filled with tears, upset to admit that she didn't know who she had had sex with that night. That she had done something so foolish and reckless!

"What's wrong?" Ginny stroked Hermione's hair. "Tell me!"

"I don't know who the father is!" Hermione cried out quickly.

"Really?" Ginny was puzzled by this. "How-"

"I was drunk..." Hermione explained. "I was trying to get over the news of Ron's engagement. I faintly remember having sex with a man that night-" Hermione inhaled deeply. "Great sex, mind you," she said breathlessly. Ginny laughed at this. "When I woke up later, the bed was empty besides myself. I guess no anti-pregnancy spells were cast..." she didn't believe in taking the potions that were consumed AFTER sex, since babies could be concieved in as little as half an hour after conception. "I was hoping that I had been smart enough to cast one before hand- evidently not..."

"It'll be okay, Hermione." Ginny assured her. "Single parents raise children every day."

Hermione shook her head. "I think I'm going to put the baby up for adoption. It deserves both a mother and a father."

Her friend frowned a bit, but nodded. "It's your choice, Mione," she said softly.

* / *

Draco hummed quietly to himself, stirring his potion that would stop someone's nose from running. He added a bit of wasp's stinger to it, and turned the heat down on low to simmer.

"It is unnatural to watch a Malfoy do such work willingly," the portrait, that had been recently hung in the old dungeon of the Malfoy Manor, spoke softly. "You don't have to do anything to make a living."

"I enjoy it," Draco told Severus Snape's portrait. He squished a few lizard egg yolks with his hand, letting it ooze out from between his fingers.

"I'm sure your father is pleased by this," the reply was sarcastic.

Draco tilted his head in thought. "He keeps pestering me about it. Says I spend too much time down here. He insists that I get out more and meet a woman and produce the next heir. Breathing down my neck isn't going to make me do the task any quicker." He understood his father completely though. If he didn't marry and produce a heir by the time his life was through, their assets would go to their closest remaining family. Unfortunately, that was the Weasleys, by some cousin twice removed.

"Don't you want a family?" Severus asked curiously.

Draco grunted. "Not really. I like my bachelor life. I live freely now. Something I didn't get to do in my youth."

Severus nodded in understanding.

"Besides that, I am not limited to one woman. I can fuck whoever I want this way." Draco stirred the yolks into the potion. It went from white, to blue, and finally to clear before he was able to remove it from the fire and let it cool.
He shrugged. "I'm in no hurry to get married, the perfect woman will come when I'm ready. There's just little point in settling down when I have already got all I want."

"It is something I envied of your father; the close companionship. A friend all entirely."

"Friend?!" Draco laughed. "You should hear what Blaise says about his 'friend'. They actually hit each other!" Draco grimaced. "What kind of friendship is that?!"

"If the right two people are joined, then that would never happen. You are lucky, you have the choice. It was only three generations ago that your Grandfather did not."

"Yes, times have changed. Thank Merlin for that!"

"And now, because of the new laws, you do not have to go through what your ancestors did."

"It was not the men that were treated like cattle, Professor," Draco pointed out.

"What do you think would have happened if the men refused? Long ago, they were murdered for it," Severus told him in a whisper. "It is one reason why the Purebloods went down in numbers."

Draco cleared his throat uncomfortably. "It is amazing anyone of us are left- not that that matters anymore since Purebloods are forbidden to marry other Purebloods now- thanks to the war."

"And how do you feel about that, Draco?" Severus asked carefully.

Draco chewed the inside of his cheek some. "I've matured quite a bit since my childhood. I really see no difference between a muggleborn and a pureblood. Well..." he cocked a grin. "The muggleborn girls seem more... shall I say, spread open, than the pureblood ones," he giggled at this, making the man in the portrait roll his eyes.

* / *

"It's a boy." Hermione announced to Ginny, rubbing her tiny baby bump tenderly.

"What's wrong with that?" Ginny asked, noticing the woman biting her lip.

"Less couples want boys... Everyone wants little girls."

"I can see that, actually. The wizard world has an abundance of male babies. Kind of weird. Now that I think about it..."

Hermione sighed. "It's like the magic wants to support the whole heir thing."

"Heirs are not a bad thing-" Ginny started,

"A woman can handle family assets!" Hermione snapped.

Ginny rolled her eyes. "I know, but it is the male that carries on the family name."

"Why though? Why can't a female do it too?"

"I don't know, Mione." Ginny sighed in exasperation. "That has nothing to do with magic though. Even the Muggle world does that."

Hermione scowled and pulled a sheet up to her chin, turning onto her side. She was laying on the sofa in her apartment, feeling more tired than normal. "Well, I guess it shouldn't matter to me anyway," she said dismissing the argument. "I just have to make sure he goes to a good, loving family."

Ginny stood from the chair that she had been sitting in, and conjured Hermione a cup of herbal tea. "And you'll do a good job of it," she said.

* / *

"The Brightest Witch of our era, none other than Miss Hermione Granger, is now expecting a child of her own! What fabulous news! The 25 year old witch is the last of The Golden Trio to make this big leap in life. For the past three months, Miss Granger has been in isolation, suffering from symptoms of morning sickness and other pregnancy blues. With Ronald Weasley now married off to the former Susan Bones, we can only wonder who the father of the baby is. Who is the lucky fella? And will we be hearing wedding bells along with the cries of a baby in the near future? We'll be keeping you posted!"

Father chuckled, as he folded the The Daily Prophet into thirds. "Granger has been a bit busy, hasn't she?" He clicked his tongue before dropping two lumps of sugar into his tea and stirring it.

"I heard she's pregnant," Draco said, sitting down at the breakfast table across from his mother, having had just walked in as his Father made the comment. "She doesn't make the news often. This must be driving her mad." He snickered, thinking of her being in such a state.

"I was under the impression that she was single." Mother said, often fascinated with the Muggleborn witch who fought for what she thought was right.

"Maybe she got drunk again." Draco nonchalantly took a quiet sip of his tea. He remembered how upset she was that night in Dimple's Pub. He had been surprised to see her, as it was a pretty expensive place to get a drink at, but there she had been, sitting on a stool at the bar.

The pub was open at all hours of the day, and he had woken up in the early AM from a nightmare of the war. Visions of his friend, Vincent Crabbe's wide, frightened eyes as he fell into the blazing fire lingered in Draco's mind. He never was able to go to sleep after having that nightmare.

Granger was the only one there on Draco's arrival besides Kent Dimple himself. Dimple glanced at her every so often while he cleaned up things that really didn't need to be washed.

Draco hesitantly sat next to Granger, ordering several drinks, speaking only to Dimple. Potter and all his friends didn't really talk to much of the Slytherins from their school days. At least the ones like himself, who had been really rotten to students besides the ones from their own house. Many of the Slytherins had apologized, and had since turned over new leaves, Draco included. But there was still a bitterness between them all. Especially between Draco and Ron Weasley. But that was a feud that had always existed between their two families, so Draco didn't much fret over it.

Granger stared off at the wall. Her face was red from what Draco had guessed was crying. He hadn't known her to cry much, or, at least not in public. He supposed she thought it was safe here, since the place was nearly deserted at the moment.

"Malfoy," she greeted hoarsely, having had noticed him finally, only when Dimple deposited what Draco had ordered.

"Granger," he acknowledged simply, watching her tap her glass with her wand, refilling it. He raised his brows. It cost an awful lot of Galleons to be allowed an infinite refill in Dimple's pub. Heroine of the War or not.

His action went unnoticed as she downed the drink in one swallow. He watched her lick her lips, ensuring that every drop didn't go to waste. Draco knew Granger wasn't a heavy drinker. Something rarely upset her so much as to drink herself into a stupor.

He grunted as the thought came to him, remembering what Mother had said earlier that day.

"That upset over the Weasel's news, huh?"

Her plump lips pursed out, and Granger's eyebrows narrowed into a glare at the wall. She did not turn her head to look at him though. "Get lost!" She snarled.

He swiveled the stool around in a complete circle like a little child would. "Thanks to you, it's a free country," he told her with a smirk. "Did you really want to spend your life with him?" Draco asked curiously, wondering why on earth anyone would be interested in the Weasel.

Granger refilled her glass again, looking down at the sweet, amber liquid. "He was my childhood sweetheart."

Draco snorted. "You two fought more than you loved, from what I saw, and anyway, you deserve better than him."

Granger didn't say anything for a long while. It was almost as if she had forgotten he was there. She refilled her glass several times more until she was unable to cast the spell. At first, she cursed herself for it, frustrated that she couldn't cast the spell any longer, but then she started giggling, and that turned into down right laughter. She leaned back in her amusement, losing her balance from where she sat.

Draco caught her just before she could hit the floor beneath them. She sighed, wrapping her arms around his neck, whispering, "My hero."

"You've drunken too much, Little Miss Know-It-All," he had drank a bit too much also, realizing it, as he lifted her into his arms, feeling a rush of dizziness clog his head. There was no way he'd be apparating in this condition.

"We'll take a room, Dimple," he announced, staggering to the place where Dimple rented out rooms to stay the night in.

"Together?" Dimple asked, slightly in shock.

Draco nodded. "We're too bloody fucked up to leave now."

He managed to get Granger to a room without dropping her. He went to set her on the bed, but she didn't let go, instead she kissed his neck.

"Granger, you're drunk," Draco said firmly. No way would she kiss him in a sober state of mind.

He tried prying her arms from him, but when her innocent kissing turned into something that sent his pulse into a throb of arousal, he instantly ceased, wondering what he should do about it. He wasn't one to refuse a girl's attention- if they were willing. But this was GRANGER.

"I wish you had been nicer to me," Granger whispered into his ear, pulling his tucked shirt out from his pants, and touching his bare skin with the tips of her fingers. "I would have liked to have been friends."

Shivers coursed through Draco's body at her wandering hands and exploring mouth. She certainly knew what she was doing. Was it from talent or experience? Draco wanted to know.

"If you weren't such an arrogant prick, I'd have dated you."

Draco couldn't help but to snicker. He was the man of many girls' fantasies. He had never thought Granger to be the one to 'go with the flow' though. He couldn't help to wonder why she didn't go after Potter. Or why Potter hadn't gone after her. She was actually a decent witch. Pretty, in a unique way, and, obviously, very smart. Not some damsel in distress. Something Potter had valued in women. He had settled on Ginny Weasley though. Draco scowled. Not that it mattered to him, but Potter could had done much better. He probably could have had Granger...

Draco groaned as his cock grew bigger to her touch. He had to stop her now, before it was too late. Draco grabbed Granger's wrists and reluctantly removed her hands from his chest. He guided her to lay on the bed and released her. "Hands to yourself, Granger," he said firmly, but she snatched a hold of the collar of his shirt and tugged him down onto her, pressing her lips to his, forcing them open, and plunging her tongue into his mouth.

Well, if she wanted him THAT bad, who was he to deny her? And now that she had made him so bloody horny, there was no way he would stop her. She was going to finish what she started, he'd make damn sure of it!

Draco smirked, lost in the remembrance of Granger's naked body beneath his only four months ago. He closed his eyes, refraining from groaning. He couldn't remember a better time in bed with any other woman.

"She got drunk?" His mother's words penetrated into his mind, interrupting his thoughts of fucking Granger senseless. Mother had sounded surprised and disappointed. "I don't remember reading that."

Draco shrugged slightly. "I paid Dimple a fair amount to keep his mouth shut. Didn't need rumors flying about."

Father paused his eating, spoon held in midair. A pale, blond eyebrow flew up in question. He said nothing to Draco, waiting to see if he would explain.

Draco took a long drink of his now cooled tea. "She came onto me," he said a bit uncomfortably, having to clear his throat to keep it from shutting.

"She did?!" Mother asked. "Wow... I'd have never thought..."

"And did you take her offer, son?" Father asked, after consuming his bite of grapefruit in thoughtful silence.

Draco eyed his parents for a moment, then finished off his tea. He smirked. "She was very... persuasive. Wouldn't take no for an answer. I don't blame her really."

"Draco," Mother started slowly. "Could it be... that she..." her eyes glanced at Father, as if wishing for him to continue the question.

Father gave her a simple nod in understanding. "I am sure Draco has made all the precautions in avoiding impregnating a woman, dear."

Draco nodded. "Of course I have, Father. I take a potion every morning," and, as if that was a reminder, he called upon a house elf to fetch him one.

* / *

Hermione sighed. She had been so busy interviewing couples lately that she had forgotten to pick up the ingredients she needed for her prenatal potions. Her brewing time had been limited since the pregnancy. She didn't want to expose herself nor the baby to such work, and so she only allowed herself to brew simple mixtures.

She flooed to Diagon Alley, needing to shop at the Apothecary store. Floo was safe for her to do, surprisingly, but the baby didn't feel all too happy about it, kicking at her as soon as she had stepped out of the Flooing station.

"There, there, you're fine," she said, speaking softly, patting her bulging belly where a limb protruded out.

She stuffed an abundance of vitamins into her bag for purchasing, thinking about the latest couple she had just met who were interested in adopting the baby. She had actually gotten quite a few responses, but Hermione knew that that was mostly just because of who she was. Adopting Hermione Granger's baby would be something to brag about. Hermione refused to put the baby through something like that.

The newest couple, though, was a good choice, coming with several recommendations. They had been searching forever for a baby just to call their own. Both of them were female; a lesbian couple. Hermione wasn't against that. They seemed like lovely people. Jane Ruppert was a halfblood witch from America, and Francine Perry was an understanding, very kind Muggle from Canada. They had moved to London after getting together.

Hermione went up to the counter to pay for her supplies.

"Good afternoon, Miss Granger," the shop keep said warmly.

"Hello," she replied back politely.

"Granger," a drawling, familiar voice greeted her. She hadn't noticed Draco Malfoy standing there. Actually, he was leaning against the counter, with his arms crossed, slightly smirking at her. Something not abnormal when it came to him.

"Malfoy," she said, surprising herself on how nice her tone was. The days of their childhood were over; she needed to remember that. He was still arrogant, but he had changed, along with many others from his house.

"Packing a good load there," he said, speaking about her pregnancy. His lips spread out wider, amused by his comment.

"Yes, it's what happens when women get pregnant; they get fat," she told him stiffly, and tossed her bag over her back, marching out of the shop.

"Where is he, Granger?" Draco's voice called out to her.

Hermione didn't pause to talk to him. If he wanted to talk with her, he could catch up with her. "Who?"

"The Father of course." Hermione could just hear the roll of his eyes in the tone he had used. "The tabloids have yet to announce who he is, which obviously means you haven't supplied the information." Draco had caught up with her brisk walking. He had no problem keeping up with her at this point.

"It's not the world's business."

"It won't be long," he said warningly, "before rumors start."

"Rumors?"

Draco reached out, grabbing her arm to stop her. She tugged her arm free, glaring at him. "Don't touch me!"

"Granger... did he run off? Did he not want to take responsibility for his... actions?"

"It concerns you none!" She snapped and began her walking again.

"No one has seen you with a guy!" He called after her. "And there's no other reason why you would be putting the kid up for adoption!"

She didn't even look at him before stepping into the floo. Typical Malfoy! Always snooping into other people's lives, thinking he knew everything!

But he was sort of right. She wouldn't be putting the child up for adoption if she knew who the father was. Hermione suddenly had a guilty feeling. Maybe the father of this baby would want him if he knew that he had a son coming.

Tears flooded her eyes. She collapsed onto her bed in exhaustion, breathing hard from her heated walk.

If only she could remember who she had had sex with...

* / *

"What are you going to do now?" Harry asked, washing the face of his two old son, James, from the ice cream cone he had just finished eating.

Hermione shrugged. "Jane and Francine were pretty much the perfect couple, my baby just wasn't born fast enough." The lesbian couple was able to adopt a boy just three days ago and had excitedly informed Hermione. It was good news- for them. And Hermione felt happy- for them.

"Maybe it's a sign," Ginny said thoughtfully, patting her and Harry's second son, Albus, on the back when he started coughing. "Children are really wonderful to have, Mione."

"Yeah, if you have someone to share them with." Hermione was depressed. It wasn't that she wanted a man to spend her life with, she just wanted what was best for the baby. And, now, because of Draco's statement, she was made aware that it was the right of the baby's father to know about his upcoming son.

"Maybe you can get your kid tested somehow," Harry suggested. "Muggles have DNA testing. Don't we wizards have something similar?"

Hermione's eyes lit up. "Perhaps we do, Harry! That's a terrific idea!" She shot up from the chair, leaning back from the weight of the baby she was carrying. She was now as big as a whale at nearly eight months pregnant.

"Whoa, slow down there, Hermione!" Harry hurried to her, helping her to the floo. "Do you want me to go with you?"

"I'll manage," she assured him.

"Let us know what you find out," Ginny said, kissing Albus' forehead, making the baby giggle.

Nearly three weeks later, Hermione let out a disgruntle huff, snapping the thick book shut that she had borrowed from the library. No test could be made unless she had a DNA sample from the father. There was no test that would find the father of the baby when his existence wasn't even known.

"Mione..." Harry said softly, when she had grumpily informed her friends of her dilemma. "Ginny and I spoke about it-"

"If you wouldn't mind, we could adopt the baby." Ginny cut Harry off in a rush.

"Oh, you guys...!" Hermione burst out into tears. "That's a nice offer, but I don't want to burden you with my problem!"

"Well, this way, you can see him..." Harry told her. "And another child is not going to burden us at all- I love my boys." He affectionately kissed Albus on his cheek.

"Papa!" The baby screeched with a laugh, pressing his father's cheeks together with a huge smile.

"Your boys are precious, Harry," Hermione said with a tiny laugh.

"What do you say, Mione?" Ginny asked.

Hermione sighed helplessly, looking at the happy boy that Harry held in his arms. Harry was a terrific father, and Ginny, a loving mother. She'd be crazy to say no.

Still... Lately she had been having second thoughts about the whole adoption thing. Ginny could be right. Perhaps Jane and Francine's adoption fall out had been for a reason.

Folding her hands onto her belly, she said, "I really appreciate your offer. You are the most greatest friends EVER, but I think you're right, Ginny. Maybe fate is trying to tell me to keep the baby. I never doubted that I could raise him on my own, I just wanted to give him the best." She rested her head against the cushion of the sofa she was sitting. "Who knows, maybe one day I'll find out who his father is. Perhaps fate will help me out there too, hmm?"

"That's the way to think it!" Harry said cheerfully. "You'll love parenthood, Hermione, just you wait and see!"

* / *

The beginning of motherhood was awful! Hermione felt like her son was shredding her apart from the inside out! The Healers had offered her pain relievers, but Hermione knew it was safer for her son if she did this the natural way, so she had refused them. Now she was having second thoughts. This was worse than being under the Crucio Curse!

"One more push, Miss. Granger, and he'll be out." Hermione's Healer said coaxingly. "You can do it."

"Come on, Mione," Ginny added. "Get him out, and then you can hold your little boy."

By this time, Hermione was exhausted, and carrying the little bugger for nine months had been a wreck, she wanted him out, and so, with a wail of pain, she pushed with all her might.

There was a light smacking sound, and then the cry of a very unhappy baby.

"Oh my!" Ginny squealed.

"Your son is here, Miss Granger," her Healer informed, a layer of tears clouding her eyes.

"He's so beautiful!" Ginny told her, taking Hermione's hands, as they watched Healer Gophertail wave her wand over the screeching baby. Hermione could only see a little of the boy, but she burst into tears when she saw his nearly white, blonde hair. He was so tiny. As tiny as Albus had been.

"Here he is, Mummy." And finally, Hermione got to hold her little boy, who had no trouble latching onto her to feed. Her tears fell onto him, but he didn't seem to mind, eagerly feasting on his first meal. His eyes were closed, as if he was in relief. Hermione could relate. She was exhausted. She had been in labour for twelve hours.

"Did you see his eye colour?" Ginny asked, when she had returned from informing Harry the news.

"Grey." Hermione answered sleepily. "Not from my side of the family, that's for sure. Neither is the blond hair."

"Grey eyed and blond hair." Ginny mused. Then she shrugged. "He's really cute, though!"

"He's the most beautiful boy in the world."

Ginny laughed. "He's up there with my two!"

"Yes." Hermione nodded. "Yes, he is."

"Decide a name yet?"

Hermione looked away in embarrassment. "You might think it's dumb..."

"No, I won't..."

"Well, Scorpius just suddenly popped into my head."

Ginny burst into giggles. "Sounds like something a Slytherin would name their kid."

"It's a very good name for a boy, I think." Hermione defended her decision.

"I didn't say it was bad, in fact, I agree with you. He looks like the perfect Scorpius."

"Do you want to hold your godson?"

Ginny gasped out in shock. "You don't mean that?!"

"I do. And bring him to Harry, he ought to meet him too, being he is Scorpius' godfather."

"Oh, Mione!" Ginny whispered, squeezing her friend's hand. "I'd hug you, but I don't want to squish the baby!"

* / *

"Your amulet is acting strange." Severus' portrait informed Draco, making the man turn to where the painting was looking at. The amulet he was speaking about was one of the Malfoys family heirlooms. It hung on the wall, with plenty of other magical trinkets. This one was strung on a silver chain, carved from emerald and shaped into a scorpion. It was glowing with a green light. Draco curiously wandered over to it, his wand held out- just in case! He could feel the heat radiating off it. He brought his hand up to the amulet, not touching it, but just an inch away. It wasn't hot to the touch.

"Do you think it's dangerous?" Draco asked Severus.

"I don't sense anything Dark about it," was the answer.

Draco decided it was best to take it up to his father. He carefully removed the amulet from the peg it hung on and apparated to Father's study.

"Draco!" Father gasped out when his eyes lay onto the glowing gem. "The spell-" he whispered in astonishment. "It's broken!"

"Spell? What spell?!" Draco demanded. Father took the treasure from him and ran his fingers along it in adoration. Then his eyes widened. "Son! You-You... have fathered a son!"

Draco laughed in derision. "I have not, Father!"

Father held up the amulet to his face. "This would only glow to a new Malfoy heir," he said seriously. "The only ones that exist are you and myself, and it is impossible for me to father another son."

Draco shook his head, unwilling to believe it. "No, it can't be, Father! I've haven't even had sex in-" Draco shut himself up as a thought came across his mind. Eight months, wasn't it? He had only slept with one other girl (Maria Cobblestone) since Granger, and, he had to admit, he was disappointed with the sex. He didn't seem to want anyone else besides Granger. The witch invaded his dreams now, turning most of them into wet ones, forcing himself to jack off to rid his irritating hard ons.

Draco knew Cobblestone hadn't been pregnant. He'd just seen the woman two weeks ago, flat as a flapjack.

He began to panic, breathing hard. The father of Granger's baby wasn't around because the father was HIM. He, Draco Malfoy, was Granger's baby daddy.

"Calm down, Draco," Father said, forcing a calming drought down his throat.

"I don't understand... I-I took the precautions...!" How in the bloody hell did this happen?!

Father put a hand on his shoulder. "I guess this was meant to be. It is truly time that we move on."

"What was the spell?" Draco asked.

"I'll tell you later. Right now, you need to get to your son! And thank Merlin he wasn't adopted out!"

Draco gulped at that thought. Father was right! His son almost got adopted by two women! Oh, God!

"Breathe, son, it'll be okay."

In...
Out...
In...
Out...

Thank Merlin Father was here with him, Draco was a nervous wreck! He followed Father down to the maternity ward of St Mungos after Father had apparated them there.

"Malfoy?" Harry Potter was shocked to see him. "Hello, Mr. Malfoy," he greeted Father.

"Mr. Potter," Father returned formerly. "Miss Granger had her baby, I hear."

Potter grinned. "A boy," he announced sheepishly. "I've been named the godfather."

Father nodded, looking around anxiously, not all too interested in hearing Potter's 'rambling'.

"What room is she in?" Draco asked.

Potter eyed him suspiciously. "Why do you want to know?"

Draco scoffed. "I don't-"

"Because that boy is my grandson, and also the Heir to the Malfoy name." Father explained, interrupting Draco. "And because he is the sole heir to the next generation, the one born, breaking the line of future sole heirs, he is to be raised as a Malfoy."

Potter laughed. "You're joking, right?"

"Do I look it?" Father sneered.

"What colour are his eyes, Potter?" Draco asked. "His hair? Grey and pale blond, right?"

Harry's eyes widened. "How would you even know that?!"

Father lifted the amulet from his chest. He had put it around his neck, claiming they would likely need it to make their story believable. It was still glowing.

"Tell us where our Heir is, and then I'll explain." Father bargained reasonably.

Potter sighed. "Hermione isn't going to like this..."

Chapter Text

AN: Hello to all fans of this story! I can not believe the amount of attention I have gotten from this! Happy reading, and thanks for your time!


Hermione smiled down at her sleeping baby, already completely in love with the tiny child that she was holding. It was such a surreal feeling, to love something (someone) so strong. Was this how her parents had felt when she had been born? Did all loving mothers and fathers feel this way? The love was so strong, that it nearly hurt at the thought of anything happening to little Scorpius.

She pressed the baby tighter to her body, trying to throw such thoughts from her head. The world was pretty safe now, she didn't have much to worry about, so long as she took very good care of him. She only hoped she wouldn't mess that all up. It was going to be extremely difficult to do this on her own, but she had Harry and Ginny for help, both already pretty knowledgeable to babies. And then there was Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who had raised an abundance of children, they would help her too.

Hermione had enough support to do this. There was no turning back now. Plus, she had read plenty of parenting books (even when she had opted to put the baby up for adoption, as her curious mind had wandered far on the subject).

Now that the Healers had deemed both Hermione and Scorpius healthy and safe, they encouraged her to get some rest. It was customary to stay for the day to ensure no problems occurred.

Hermione turned her head from the door, closing her eyes. She would need sleep, as, since she was a celebrity, it wouldn't be long before there would be people pestering her to see the baby.

Poor Scorpius. He hadn't asked for this type of life. Funny thing how that works. You're stuck with what you've got. It wasn't like she didn't try though. This was probably just how it was supposed to go.

It wasn't even five minutes before she woke up with a start to a shouting crowd. Several Healers were trying to calm them down, to no avail.

"You can't just barge in here like you own the place!"

"My son is here somewhere, and it is my right to see him!"

Hermione recognized Draco Malfoy's arrogant, sneering voice right off the bat. She snorted, he'd been single a while. There were rumors of him shagging any girl he could get his hands on, but to hear that he was a father was shocking. She didn't think that would ever happen (out of wedlock at least), as he was pretty prepared to avoid such... mistakes (as he would call it). Next to her, he had been the most planned ahead student in all of Hogwarts- when it suited him at least.

"Just please, Malfoy, Hermione needs her rest," that was from Ginny, and judging by the tone of her voice, she was pretty shaken up.

Hermione bolted up into a sitting position. Her head was a little drowsy from lack of rest, but when did anything like that ever stop her? She secured Scorpius into her arms, and got out of the bed, making her way to the door. The crowd was right outside it, arguing aggressively. So many voices were talking that Hermione couldn't grasp onto what they were all squabbling about.

Not until...

"I want to see my son!" Draco growled warningly. "I want to see Scorpius!" Hermione, had drew in a breath, her eyes fell to the blond haired baby resting in her arms.

Nearly white, blond hair...

Smokey grey eyes...

She stumbled over to a chair as the memory came rushing back. The sensational memory that had been playing in her mind practically every day since that moment had happened. It had all been very fuzzy prior to the statement Malfoy had just mad. The Dark Mark on the forearm of a very pale arm became vivid. All this time she had thought it had been some ordinary tattoo that her mind just couldn't make out.

Oh, God... She about hurled right there on the spot! She shook her head, unwilling to believe it. No... No... NO! Not Malfoy!

She put a trembling hand to her face, pinching her cheek, seeing if perhaps this was some sort of nightmare.

No, he couldn't be...

But he was... He was Scorpius' father. It all made too much sense. Who else could it be...?

Oh, my God!

She stood up and began pacing anxiously. She had had sex with Malfoy! He'd seen her naked! Kissed her in places where only Ron had previously been! Malfoy, the boy that had made her life a bloody living hell in school, was her- was her... sex fantasy!

How could she ever allow this to happen?! And how in Mother's fucking green Earth could she had enjoyed his touch?! Hermione shuddered at the thought of his fingers grazing the most sensitive zones of her body. Her pulse then skipped in excitement, her body, a traitor to her mind, not caring who the man was that had made her feel so great.

"No!" She shrieked, unable to hold in her disgust anymore. What in the bloody fuck was wrong with her?!

And she... and she... she had given birth to his baby!

Her eyes flew wide as the thought was sinking deeper into realization. Hermione didn't just have Malfoy's son; she had had his heir! Scorpius was the first son born to Draco Malfoy. And wasn't there some kind of tradition with them or something? Jinx? Curse? Whatever it was, there were rumors that each Malfoy heir were only able to produce one son.

What had she done?! How could she live with herself?!

She hugged her baby close; protectively. She couldn't let Scorpius grow up in such a manner. He'd never have a normal life then. People still accused the Malfoys of being Death Eaters, even though the elder had found the errors in his ways, and served his time, Mrs. Malfoy had really no say in the first place, and Draco had taken the Dark Mark before he was even 17, thus he was a minor, and had gotten off with House Arrest. But Voldemort had also intended for him to die, he had pretty much sent the underage teenager to walk the plank. And this had drastically changed the young Malfoy. Even Ron would admit that (though, only to his family and close friends, never directly to Malfoy's face).

What would happen if Scorpius grew up under the house of former Death Eaters? Hermione knew they had changed, but the tabloids still would poke a finger at them when things got too dull. Would they also attack Scorpius? Call him the Heir of Death Eaters?

Feverishly, her eyes scanned the room, not knowing what to do. They set onto her wand. Shifting from the door, to the wand, and back again. She sprinted to the table where her wand lay. She picked it up, rolling it between her fingers.

'It'd be safe now,' she thought, 'so long as the baby is secure...'

It would be such a Slytherin thing to do... But if the war had taught her one thing, everyone has a bit of every house inside them. And so she did a very Slytherin thing...

She took flight.

* / *

"Put the wand away, Malfoy!" Harry ordered, his own wand drawn at Draco.

Draco knew Potter too well. He was no killer, he had nothing to fear. His eyes set onto the door of Hermione's room. "I just- I just want to see my son," he told Potter.

"Draco, put it away. We'll get to see him." Father drawled, almost amusingly. He had not drawn his wand, only watched to see what would happen next. "They have no choice but to let us," he added smugly.

"Yes, just put it down," a Healer said, coaxingly. "And th-then we can talk with Miss Granger."

"There'll be no talking!" Draco snapped. "That is my kid in there!" He felt Father's hand set onto his shoulder, a stiff squeeze made him take a deep breath. Merlin, he just wanted to meet his son! Why wouldn't they let him?!

"There's not even proof that he is yours," a male Healer sneered. Draco knew him from Hufflepuff, who had been a year ahead of him in Hogwarts.

"Let's just calm down," the Weasley (shite, it's Potter now) witch said, raising her hands to promote a calmness. "I'll go in and talk to Hermione. She's been eager to find the father's identity anyway."

"Find out?" the male Healer from Hufflepuff asked in question. "You mean she doesn't even know?" He accusingly looked at Draco. "What'd you do to her, drug her?!"

"What?!" Draco snarled. What the fuck had that man just accused him of?! Date raping? Wasn't that what Muggles called it? That bloody puffer! Draco hurled forward, jabbing his wand into the puffer's neck "I didn't even fucking know that that kid was mine until just today!"

Draco's wand flew out of his hand, landing into his Father's free hand. "Control yourself, Draco," Father said patronizingly. "We needn't to cause anymore attention to ourselves and thicken the articles more than they're already going to be when this hits the papers."

Draco stiffened, embarrassed to have his father scold him right in the middle of people, like he was in second year again. He lifted his chin, hiding his humiliation behind a scowl.

"Malfoy, I think Ginny is right. Let the girls talk and ease Hermione into it. This will-" Potter paused, frowning. "Well, if this was back in fourth year, how would you have taken such news? Fathering a half-blood?" He then looked at Father, "How would you have reacted- not well at all, I'd say."

Draco's eyes shifted to his father who's lips curled up in disgust. Father nodded. "I see your point, Mr. Potter."

Draco knew his look would have matched Father's if this were Fourth Year. Of course he would have never fucked a muggleborn then, but he understood what Potter was saying.

He took a few steps back, giving Potter's wife a single nod. "I've changed," he told her, almost pleadingly. "I'm not that racist bastard you all hated back in school. Just-" he closed his eyes, not believing the words he was about to spit out, "please remind her of that..."

Potter's wife, who had also appeared to have changed somewhat herself, gave him a faint smile. He had never had someone from the Weasley bloodline do that before- not in a friendly, almost caring manner, anyway.

"I'll do my best, Malfoy," she said, and Draco sensed truth in her words. She disappeared into the room only to come right back out. The freckles that were painted across her face stood out more as the colour drained from her skin. "She's-She's gone!" She shrieked. "Mione's gone!"

* / *

"Shh, Scorpius, baby," Hermione talked soothingly. "Mumma's sorry." Her son had immediately burst into wails during his first disapparation. He was shaken, but unharmed. Still, his cries were deafening, and, if she wasn't a witch, able to cast a noise blocking spell, she'd fear her neighbors would be knocking on the door, yelling at her. "You're okay."

Hermione had apparated into her safe home in London. Only her closest friends knew of this place, she had bought it for when she needed to 'escape' the Wizard World. She came here more often than not, as she didn't really like that she was always pestered by the popperozi. They had had a field day when she had gotten pregnant, begging her to tell her who the father of Scorpius was.

God! She just wanted to die right now! She was so humiliated, and the story hadn't even hit The Daily Prophet yet (or it likely hadn't anyway).

She changed her son's nappy, after noticing an awful smell coming from him. Scorpius was still whimpering after that, and so she told him a story, just so he could hear her calm voice (well, she tried to speak calm words). When that didn't work, she sat down in a rocking chair, to see if he was hungry- he was.

"There," she whispered with a smile, watching him feed from her. "That's all it was, huh? Just wanted some milk." He made cute little baby grunts, as if expressing himself to her.

Hermione placed a hand down to his, he gripped her thumb as soon as he felt her touch. His hands worked endlessly as he ate, squeezing her ever so lightly, and releasing quickly. In just a few short minutes, he let out a large sigh in comfort, and Scorpius' eyes closed, drifting off to sleep.

"You're so wonderful," Hermione told her son, giving the finger that he held onto a gentle shake. It wasn't enough to wake him.

Hermione had managed to make him happy for the time being, and she was a bit proud of herself for that.

* / *

Draco heaved himself into a chair, setting his head into hands, pulling at his hair in frustration. He felt sick to his stomach. The thought of not seeing his son made him nearly want to puke. He didn't blame Granger for her disappearance, and probably would have done the same, if the roles were reversed. He had been so awful to Granger, and now because of it, his family's Heir was gone.

He swallowed down the bile that was slowly creeping up into his throat. What have I done?! If only I had been nice to her... Merlin...! His family's name-

Draco covered his mouthed, gagging. He closed his eyes, inhaling, telling himself to cool down.

"Hey," a quiet voice said next to him. It was Potter.

"I-I can't t-talk-" Blast! Now he was stuttering like Longbottom used to do!

"It's alright," Potter told him gently. "Ginny will find her- they're best friends. I've known Hermione for a long time- over half of my life. She'll come to her senses soon enough. It's just-" he paused, letting out a whoosh of air. "It's just a bit of a shock, you know. We would have never had thought..." he trailed off.

Draco nodded, looking at the ground between his feet. It was a huge shock, and he hated himself right now. Hated himself so bloody fucking much! He soiled the greatest witch in their time, and then, had been so smug about her pregnancy, laughing to himself, amused by her condition. Only to find out that he had done it to her.

And he hadn't even been there to help her through it. To help his unborn son, and take responsibility for his actions.

Scorpius... How had he known she had named him that? The name had just came to him, like some physic channeling or something. It had been so strange.

Draco swallowed another oncoming threat to puke his guts up. He hadn't even gotten to hold his son before she had taken him away.

"So what's with the amulet?" Potter asked, pretending to be casual, but Draco sensed a bit of curiosity in the man's voice.

Draco shrugged, watching his feet anxiously wiggle beneath him. "Some c-curse. Fath-er hasn't given me the d-details. He says that my-" Merlin, it was so hard to grasp onto the idea that he was a father now! "-that Sc-Scorpius has broken it, I don't know how th-though..." Potter didn't seem to notice his stuttering. Or rather not care about it. Draco was relieved by that. He'd hate to have to hex the Magical World's all time hero right now. He wasn't really in the mood.

Father came up then, as if he had known that he was being spoken about. "Your friend must know how serious the situation is, Mr. Potter."

"Yes, Mr. Malfoy," Potter addressed simply. "Ginny is looking for her now."

"As an Auror, I'd have expected you to be looking for her too," Father sneered.

"Auror?" Potter questioned, sounding a bit dumb. "Why would my professional career have anything to do with this at all?"

Draco heard Father inhale. He tilted his head up to see Father standing stiff. "Because, she has kidnapped my grandson, of course!"

Potter let out a laugh of disbelief. "Scorpius is her son, Mr Malfoy, Hermione has committed no crime."

"Au Contraire, Mr. Potter." Father drawled amusingly, and Draco suddenly had a sick feeling that his Father was about to drop a dung bomb right into Harry Potter's lap. "You see, Mr. Potter, since Draco and Miss Granger are not married, not legally bond by magic, the custody of the boy belongs to his Father's family. More so, since both Scorpius and his father are first born heirs to the name."

Draco took a peek at Potter to see his reaction to this news. Yep, just as he thought he would be- stupified.

Damn, liberated half-bloods.

* / *

Hermione snapped her head up from the faint cracking noise of an apparation. Her heart thudded heavily, but it instantly slowed when she saw Ginny.

"God, you scared me!" Hermione gasped.

"Well, you scared us!" Ginny shrieked hotly. "There's a lot of people looking for you!"

"Let them look for me then," Hermione grumbled.

"Hermione..." Ginny's tone softened, and she stepped up to her friend. "I figure you've heard-"

"Malfoy..." Hermione mumbled. "The father is Malfoy..." She was near tears then.

"I know..." Ginny whispered sympathetically. "He's not so bad anymore, remember?" She forced herself to be cheerful.

"I just can't bloody believe how careless I was!" Hermione shrieked hysterically, causing Scorpius' eyes to snap open. He scrunched his face up, and started bawling. Hermione sighed, lifting him up to her shoulder, and tapped him on the back.

"Hermione," Ginny started carefully. "Malfoy really wants to talk to you, and well..." she chewed the bottom of her lip a little. "You said so yourself that the father deserves the right to his son- even if it is... Malfoy..."

Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose. "How on Earth am I suppose to handle this?! I mean," she scoffed, "We have never even had a normal conversation in our entire lives; how can we even raise a child together?!"

Ginny shrugged. "But you had the best sex in your lifetime, that should say something," she cracked a grin, and held her arms out to take Scorpius from her, cooing at the baby.

Hermione shuddered. "I can't believe that I shagged Malfoy!"

Ginny took a seat on the sofa, cradling the baby, and touching a finger to his nose, making him open his mouth. She and Hermione giggled. "Albus did the same thing."

"I know," Hermione said, smiling.

"We both know that you're going to let Malfoy seeto his son, it would be horrible not to."

Hermione nodded. "Yeah..."

"But you're acting like a hippogriff just the same," Ginny teased.

Hermione snorted. "What would you do if you just had the Malfoy's heir without even knowing it?"

"Yeah, I'd probably leave the country," Ginny admitted. "But, I also have like a million brothers that would kick my arse if I had done something so reckless- Gryffindor or not."

* / *

"That is bloody ridiculous!" Potter spat out. "What about Hermione, and the baby? A mother should be with her child!"

"When it comes to keeping the blood flowing, that all doesn't really matter. Hardly anyone is so careless to have a first born child out of wedlock anyway."

"Careless?!" Potter snapped. "What about Draco?! It sort of takes two to have a child, you know!"

Draco pursed his lips, looking around. Father and Potter had drawn attention to themselves, and Draco was the topic. He got up to leave, neither of the men noticing his departure.

"Draco!" His mother rushed up to him, hugging him. "Pippsy just told me!" She gasped breathlessly. "Where is he?!"

"Gone..." Draco answered hoarsely.

Mother pulled from him. "What do you mean?!" Her eyes widened. "He didn't di-"

"No!" Draco burst out and Mother clutched her chest in relief. She then noticed the hollering that Potter and Father were doing, and several Healers ran passed them to address the issue.

"Oh, dear..." Mother said, frowning. "Your Father's managed to peeve off Potter again."

"I swear it's a daily goal, Mother."

Mother chuckled, "That I wouldn't doubt. So, where is Granger?" She asked, keeping her eyes on her husband, in case she needed to step in and stop him.

"She took him," Draco announced sorrowfully. "She's ashamed of my name..."

Mother briefly looked at him, before returning back to watching Father. "Give her time, my boy," she said softly. "Understand when I say that a lot is going on with her right now. Alright?"

Draco nodded, swallowing slowly. "I didn't even get to see him..."

Mother nodded. "You will, just hang tight. Granger supports what is right, she'll see your side of this soon enough. Now, if you'll excuse me, your father and I need a harsh talk."

Draco watched his mother lift up her dress so she could speedily walk to Father. Judging by her stride, Father was in deep shite.

* / *

Harry apparated to Hermione's house two hours after Ginny had, a grim look on his face. Both Hermione and Ginny rose from their seats in alert.

"What's wrong?!" Ginny demanded, handing Scorpius off to Hermione.

He clenched his fists. "Malfoy!" He spat. "Lucius Malfoy to be exact!"

"Look, I've already decided that I'm going to let Malfoy see Scorpius."

Harry's jaw tightened, and his eyes narrowed. His lips pressed together, paling from the pressure.

"Harry, what is it?!" Ginny asked desperately.

Harry looked at Hermione, his eyes blazing with anger and frustration. Hermione had hardly ever seen him this angry.

She did not like that look.

"Harry!" Ginny shrieked impatiently, smacking him in the shoulder to snag his attention. "Tell us, would you?!"

Harry looked at his wife, his stance did not soften. "If Scorpius is not given to the Malfoys by midnight, she will be changed with kidnapping."

"That's absurd!" Ginny snarled.

"But..." Hermione was speechless. She held Scorpius tightly, unwilling to let him go. "He's my son..."

"It's..." Harry sighed. "According to the Minster, it's a valid law..." He cleared his throat. "Since Draco was the sole heir, and Scorpius is his first born... There's nothing anyone can do about it..."

"Wait..." Hermione was confused by what he was saying. "So... I don't get to see my son then?"

Harry raked a hand through his hair. "Not unless they permit it. It's that or marry him."

"MARRY MALFOY?!" Ginny screeched.

Hermione's had head screamed the same. There was no way she'd marry him!

Harry gravely nodded. "Since he's unmarried and you bore his first Heir, if you... chose to marry him, he'd have to accept it."

"So... it's marry Malfoy or give up my son?" Hermione whispered, horrified by the news. As if things weren't bad already.

"Pretty much," Harry answered in a mutter. "Unless you trust him to share Scorpius fairly, but all he has to do is marry another witch, and then he could just send you to the gutter- You'd be fucked six ways from sideways."

Hermione sunk into the rocking chair. Her was mouth ajar, and her mind was blank, numb from the shock.

She had royally screwed herself over.

Chapter Text

Draco harshly set the glass bottle that he had just emptied onto the dining table. At the moment, he was sitting alone in the unnecessarily large room that his family ate practically every meal at. Off in the far distance, he could faintly hear his Mother's lashing words, and, if he at all cared, he'd be picturing his Father standing stiff, with the most terrifying scowl he could ever muster up.

But that scared Mother none. Father wouldn't hurt his wife. Especially when she was peeved off with him. There were a lot of things that Narcissa Malfoy could over look when it came to her husband, but there were some things that she strongly stuck by. The Golden Trio (and well, the rest of the War Heroes really), were just a few examples. Without their testimonies (even bloody Ron Weasel's), the whole Malfoy family would be rotting their lives away in Azkaban.

Father, in his own way, was thankful too, but the man just had his standards, and when it came to the family (its continuance to keep on going, specifically), he didn't honestly care who he pissed off.

Unless it was his raging wife, who hardly ever raised her voice; particularly to him. When she was angry- really angry- she could put her deceased sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, to shame with how high and crazy she sounded. And, if Draco wasn't in his current mood of hollowness, he'd be witnessing (in amusement, of course) his Mother jabbing her wand against a very silent Lucius Malfoy, while he (ever so warily, mind you) waited for her outburst to simmer down. He had already had a certain member of himself shrivel up into nothing because he had dared to make a snarky comment to her in the past. That happened long ago, when Draco was five years old. He had had a rather awkward visit to Saint Mungo's to fix that problem. So, yes, Father knew that it was much better for him (or at the very least, for a very special part of him) to say nothing at all when his wife was a screeching time bomb.

"NOW, YOU WILL LEAVE THAT POOR GIRL ALONE," Mother's voice blasted through the walls. "OR, SO HELP ME, LUCIUS, YOU MAY NOT EVEN COME OUT OF MUNGO'S IN ONE PIECE NEXT TIME!"

"Toogy learns from Pippsy that Master has son just todays?" A squeaky voice asked softly. Draco's personal house elf, Toogy, climbed onto a chair next to him, and reached over to gather up the empty bottles of Butterbeer that Draco had accumulated.

Draco removed the lid off a new bottle with his wand. He'd rather be drinking Firewhiskey, but he was hoping that Granger would come by with Scorpius -with Father's scare tactic in place and all. He didn't want to be drunk when he first laid eyes onto his son.

"That's correct," he answered. "The mother is withholding him from me though." Throughout the corner of his eyes, he saw his servant's ears lower, as if in sympathy.

"Toogy feels for Master. Toogy did not get to mother own baby when daughter was born."

"What happened to your daughter?" Draco asked curiously. She had never mentioned bearing young before now.

"Toogy's old Master takes daughter away, sir. Toogy's old Master sold baby before baby was even named, sir."

"That's tragic..." Draco said meaningfully.

"It is house elf way, Master," Toogy sadly shrugged it off.

"No, it's not Toogy. Not all breeders are like that. You just came from a horrible one."

"But old Master found Toogy nice new one. Toogy is grateful!" She smiled wide, wiggling her ears happily.

"Well, you're a decent elf, Toogs," Draco said approvingly. She was tons better than that one that Potter freed in their second year. Although, that elf did save Potter, dying in the act- Draco had to give the elf credit, Dobby hadn't been as useless as his Father had had always ranted about.

Of course Draco learned early on (by observation), that some house elves were much more functional if you treated them with just a bit of decency. And it wasn't like Draco grew up with many friends (before Hogwarts).

Actually, now that he thought about it, he didn't have many friends even now. After Crabbe died, he didn't hear much from Goyle. The two had been like brothers, and Crabbe's death had taken a rough toll on Goyle. Draco spoke to Blaise only when the father of three young girls had the time. And Pansy, well... he couldn't really stand her much anymore. She had mildly annoyed him in their Hogwarts days, but she had been willing to do anything for his attention. Anything for his attention. Now, though, Pansy was just shy of being a whore, and Draco was being nice about using the words 'just shy'.

Anymore, Draco spent more time talking to his Godfather's portrait and to the house elf than anyone.

Shite, maybe Father was right. Maybe he did need to get out more. Scorpius would need a proper family. He'd have to find a woman to marry now.

Ah, fuck...! What was he thinking?! He wasn't ready for marriage! Hell, he wasn't even ready for fatherhood...!

Draco sunk his head to the table, forehead resting on the surface of it. He couldn't think of himself anymore. Now that he was a father, his top priority was that boy.

The boy he had yet to even meet!

Draco angrily slammed his fist against the table, creating a loud THUD!

Why in the bloody hell did he have to fuck Hermione Granger and knock her up?! This wasn't his plan! He never planned on having children without first a wife. And a long honeymoon period. He didn't know much about kids. Only that they were whiny, sniveling small people who needed a loving family to turn even remotely decent.

Well, they should have a nice family anyway... Potter had no great family, and he turned out alright. But the Dark Lord didn't have a family, and He had not turn out okay at all!

Draco was going to do everything he could to give his son the best. Malfoys always had the best. Scorpius would be no different.

By his second case of Butterbeer, Draco had had his fill, and had vowed never to drink another bottle again. He had drank so much, that the flavour was nearly nauseating to even think about. And it hadn't made him feel any better. Firewhiskey would normally do the trick. Or one of his special brews, but Draco didn't drink one of those very often, as they had some risky side effects. He drank one only when he was having difficulties trying to forget much of his tormented youth. Specifically, the memories after he had taken the Mark.

Draco was still seated in the Dining room hours after Mother had finished her 'scolding' to Father. He stared at a lifeless portrait of his ancestor, Perseus, who had been a grand Healer during the time that he had lived. Draco absently rubbed the tattoo that marked him as evil. It was faded now, but it was still evidently clear of what it was.

Obviously, the entire Wizard society knew of what he had once been, but he was ashamed of what he used to be now. Once, he may had thought it had been an excellent 'choice' he had made, but he had learned quickly that being a Death Eater was not all fun and games - not like Father and Aunt Bellatrix had raved on about. When he was ordered to kill the Headmaster, Draco discovered, then and there, just how serious the situation was. It was no longer some harmless Mudblood bullying. It was worse. Much worse. People were going to die. He was going to be forced to kill people; torture them.

Merlin...! He was no killer!

After Snape had done the job for him, preventing Draco from doing something he had wished not to have to do, he had often been accused of being a coward because he had 'froze' up. Even his own Father had accused him of it. Father had been angry at him for failing The Dark Lord's order. Draco knew why that was though, and he had understood his Father's anger. Their lives had depended on Draco. And, now that he looked back at it, maybe that was why Father had bellowed his disappointment at him years ago, nearly making his sixteen year old self blubber disgracefully, like a preteen, little girl. They had all learned that night, that Draco couldn't even sacrifice his soul, or the life of a bloody old man, just to save his own skin; to save his entire family. He choose to spare the life of a person he didn't even like instead of his own. Instead of the people he loved. What Slytherin sorted person would ever do that?!

Then, when he had the moment to gain his family's position and trust back with the Dark Lord nearly a year later, Draco had almost outed Potter, thinking about himself and his family again, but a twitch of guilt had prevented him from it (a feeling that he now often thanked himself for). It was just one tiny twitch. He knew Potter would be tortured to death if the Death Eaters recognized him. It wasn't like he cared much about Potter, but, if roles had been reversed, Potter wouldn't have outed him, somehow Draco had realized that, and it had poked his chest a little at that exact moment several years back.

Draco remembered thinking at the time, The Dark Lord has seemed so... anxious to get Potter. Like his life depends on it. Why worry about useless Potter? Unless he isn't as useless as everyone keeps saying he is...? The Dark Lord wouldn't waste his time on a "boy", if he truly has no meaning. Of course revenge was sweet, I understand that, but Potter is Public Enemy Number One. So much energy is being wasted on a 'talentless', 'arrogant', 'Gryffindor'. Maybe there is more to the story than what's being told. After all, what happened that night in 1981 was an extraordinary thing. An infant, blocking a death curse...? Potter is the only one known to remain living after such an attack. There has to be much more to this whole thing.

And there was. Later, Potter had been able to stop The Dark Lord's second death curse aimed at him.

To this day, Draco still could not thank Potter enough. Not that he was humble; Slytherins aren't humble, that's something for the Puffers to express; they show no boundaries with their emotions. But reluctantly, Potter knew of Draco's gratitude, and so did the Weasel and Granger. Without them (and several people), Draco wasn't even sure if his family would be alive to this day.

"Draco?"

The sudden sound of his Mother's voice made him jump and flail up his hands from where they had been setting atop of the dining table. The gesture tipped over a new bunch of empty bottles that Draco had accumulated after dismissing Toogy for the night. Two rolled off the table, falling with a crash.

"Shit!" Draco muttered, standing up, and hurrying around the other side to clean the broken glass up.

In frustration, he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger. He was exhausted, but he wouldn't let himself sleep. Couldn't really.

"Are you okay?" Mother asked softly. "You look..." she didn't finish, instead, she frowned and cast a spell.

"Merlin, Mother!" Draco grunted, feeling the tingling spell of a diagnostic spell rush over him. "I'm fine!" He growled.

"You've had a case too many Butterbeers," she said sympathetically.

"I'd have Firewhiskey if I knew for sure that I wouldn't be seeing my son anytime soon!"

"It's after midnight, sweety," Mother announced in a whisper. "I don't think she's coming tonight..."

Draco swallowed the threat of a sob. He nodded. "I assume that Father is not going to be pressing charges against her?" Draco had over heard some of Mother's displeasure with Father before he had gotten lost in his petty thoughts.

Surprisingly, Mother smiled a bit, and it somewhat turned into a smirk. "Your Father is a bit... disgruntled about all that, but, no, he will not. Lucius can not actually press those matters anyway."

"No?" Draco asked in confusion. "Why not?"

Mother walked up to Draco and took him into a hug, kissing his cheek. "Because, my sweet boy, Scorpius is your son. your heir. Your Father has no control over him."

"So... only I can press charges against Granger?" Draco asked slowly, his mind rolling over the words quickly.

"Unless you are no longer able to - yes."

Draco grinned, hugging his very informative mother. "Thank you, Mother!" He pecked her cheek, and released her, taking off out of the room.

"Where are you going?" Mother asked.

"To send an owl," he answered a bit happily.

* / *

"What did Malfoy say to this all?" Hermione asked Harry. "Draco, I mean."

Harry shrugged in annoyance. "I don't know- he was gone by the time Mrs. Malfoy came strolling up!"

"What did she do?" Ginny asked, eyes lighting up to hear the answer, loving the way she would 'handled' her arse of a husband when need to be.

Harry finally smiled for the first time since his arrival. He let out a hearty laugh. "You would have died seeing it! She started with a simple finger shaking-" Harry demonstrated this, "-then she screeched, 'Lucius Malfoy!'" Of course Harry had to imitate this too, "'I ought to smack you!'" Harry was in hysterics now, gasping for air. He had trouble saying the last bit, "Sh t'k im by the e and dis-apar-ated!"

"Huh?!" Ginny giggled at Harry who was laughing so hard, a barely audible wheeze was coming out of him as he tried to catch his breath.

"Oh, it was so funny!" He said clutching his gut.

"What-"

"By the ear-" Harry pinched his ear, pulling it dramatically. He was still laughing.

"Oh!" Ginny's laughter increased, and, soon, she and Harry were in it together, hardly able to breathe.

Hermione looked at them strangely, having no idea what they were laughing at. She was having one of the worst times in her life, and her friends were having a laugh off!

Five minutes later, Harry was able to explain that Narcissa Malfoy had hauled her husband away by his ear, like he was some misbehaving student in Hogwarts, and apparated him away. Which was amusing to think about, Hermione admitted. Lucius Malfoy needed a bit of embarrassment for a change.

Finally, Hermione was able to steer her friends back into seriousness again. "Do you still have your law books that I could borrow?" She asked Harry.

"They don't have that law in it, Hermione. I'd have remembered it."

Hermione sighed. "What's the punishment for kidnapping then?"

Harry thought with a hum. "It depends on the degree. You see, it's actually hard to kidnap a child born into the magical world-"

"You can track them by their magic, I know, Harry!" Hermione cut him off impatiently, leaning back into the rocking chair and closing her eyes. She had had very little sleep in the past 24 hours. Child labour, and the stressing matter at her hands were taking a toll on her tired body.

"Well, if I remember right, a parent 'stealing' a child is not an extreme offense unless that parent is some dangerous criminal. A fine is likely all you'll get. Although, repeating the offense can land you in Azkaban for a duration of up to a week."

Hermione nodded in thought. She'd obviously avoid the Azkaban charges, but as far as the offense being repeatable, that couldn't happen if she didn't get the first offense to begin with.

"What are you thinking?" Ginny asked her warily.

"Well..." Hermione started slowly, unsure if this was really what she wanted to do. "I'll just stay here then. With Scorpius, I mean."

"The Daily Prophet is going to release an article about this whole mess in the morning," Harry warned. "You'll be known as a kidnapper."

Hermione tilted her head, only half listening to him. "In order to 'steal' something, the real owner(s) would had to have had some sort of possession of the stolen 'item' to begin with; right?"

Harry went to say something, but clamped his mouth shut, narrowing his eyes.

"It's not going to work that way, Mione..." Ginny told her softly.

Hermione gripped the arms of the chair she rocked in. "Well, until I see every word of this ignorant, unfair law, I'm not going back! And they can look for me all they want, but they aren't going to find me! You both know it!"

Harry nodded grimly in acknowledgement. "I'll see about getting a copy of the book that the law is written up in."

"And the first offense can't be charged until I am caught," Hermione added. "So I can stay here as long as I need to."

"And what about Malfoy?" Ginny asked.

Hermione shrugged. " He'll have to wait I guess. I'm not going to do anything until I see the law for myself, I don't need anything to increase my chances of having my son taken away from me. I took care of that baby the past nine months, I gave birth to him for God's sake, I have sweat and tears into it. I should have the right to him!" At this point, tears of fear, anger, and frustration slipped out of her eyes. "Who could agree to such a thing! Take a child from his mother?!"

Her friends said nothing, knowing it was the best thing to do at the time. Harry announced that he was leaving to fetch the book for her before he disapparated, and Ginny offered to stay the night.

"No... You have kids to take care of." Hermione said after a sniff.

"Mum's watching them for the night," Ginny said. "They love the boys- you know it. And by now, everyone's asleep anyway. No point in disturbing them."

Hermione nodded at her truth, and both Ginny and Harry stayed with her throughout the night. No one had gotten any sleep though, Scorpius kept them up with his crying. Every time Hermione got him back to bed, he'd wake up five minutes later with a new problem. Her friends offered to help, but Hermione was determined to get through the first night without any help.

"Mione, you need your rest, girl," Ginny said.

"Yeah, we won't drop him or anything," Harry joked, getting a dirty look from Hermione.

At around three in the morning, the baby went to sleep for a lengthy few hours, waking up three very tired adults at 6:15 AM.

Hermione scrambled out of bed, entangling herself in the process, tripping herself. She grunted, rubbing her knee just a bit before unwrapping the wad of blankets from around her ankles. "I'm coming, Scorpy!" Hermione called to her baby who was screaming from the next room.

She hurried to the crib that he lay in, taking him into her arms. "Shoosh, it's okay, Mumma's here now."

"Everything alright?" Harry asked through a yawn. He stood at the doorway, with heavy bags under his eyes.

"God, did you guys get any sleep?" Hermione asked, placing the unhappy Scorpius in the changing table.

Harry chuckled. "Not really." He stretched, looking down at his godson. "Strange how identical he looks to a Malfoy."

"Even more so that we didn't notice it."

Scorpius kicked wildly in his tantrum making Hermione work extra hard to get his nappy changed.

"I hope that he's doing that just because he's hungry," Ginny's voice popped up, joining Harry's side, giving him a good morning kiss on his bare shoulder.

"He's had no time to become a spoiled mess yet," Hermione pointed out. "And Mumma's not gonna let him act like a little prince either!" She took Scorpius foot and gave it a gentle shake. His wails got louder.

"He didn't like that," Harry told her teasingly.

"I bet he's just hungry!" Ginny said. "Once Mumma feeds him, he'll be all better!"

But Scorpius didn't want to be fed. He didn't want anything it seemed. And by eight o'clock, Hermione was puzzled and moody because Scorpius had been crying for nearly two hours. None of them could figure out his problem.

"Nothing seems to be wrong with him," Harry noted after each of them had repeatedly checked him for any sort of illness.

"Not even colic..." Hermione bit her lip, near tears, feeling horrible and helpless that she couldn't settle her baby down.

"Sometimes... they just cry, Mione..." Ginny tried to assure Hermione.

"Yes, James always cried, remember?" Harry added.

Hermione rolled her eyes, rubbing her son's back at an attempt to sooth him. "James just wanted to be held all the time, Harry. Scorpius doesn't even let up when I pick him up!" She adjusted the baby, laying him into her arms to look at him. "What's wrong, Scorpius? Why won't you eat?"

She sighed when the baby made no implication that he was going to let up his crying. She tried burping him, changing him, feeding him, washing him down, singing to him, talking to him, rocking him, holding him, and putting on music. Nothing made him stop. Each of the adults even took turns holding him, seeing if perhaps that would work. But it didn't.

"Well... there's nothing you can do." Hermione finally said to her friends at nine. "Why don't you go spend time with your own family." Harry and Ginny both give her looks of uncertainty. "We'll be fine," she assured them. "If he doesn't start eating soon-" she paused, sighing. "I'll take him back to St. Mungo's to see if they can figure out his what his problem is."

"Are you sure?" Ginny asked slowly.

"Maybe you should go now, Hermione," Harry said seriously. "It's been nearly three hours."

"We already know by the diagnostic tests that it's nothing life threatening," Hermione told him reasonably. "Scorpius is just... unhappy, I guess."

"You both need your rest though," Ginny pointed out.

Hermione nodded. "I'll give it another hour." She put Scorpius in his bassinet and ran a hand through the baby's soft her. "Please be quiet now," she pleaded in a whisper.

"Hermione, there's an owl at your window," Harry announced, opening up a window so a long whiskered owl could fly in and deposit its delivery.

"Wow, what a pretty owl!" Ginny breathed in admiration.

"And it's so tiny!" Hermione exclaimed, as she, Harry and Ginny gathered around it. It chirped happily, standing proud, and lifting up its foot for a treat. Hermione summoned up a piece of dried pork from her kitchen and held it out for the bird.

"It doesn't seem to want it..." Harry noted when the owl turned its head in refusal.

The witches frowned in thought, never having had come across an owl that refused pork jerky before.

"What's it want then?" Ginny asked.

Harry shrugged. "Bacon?" He tried that, conjuring up a slice, but nothing.

Hermione took the letter that Harry had set onto the table that they were all surrounded at. The letter was addressed to her in black ink. The sender's scrawl was neat, clean, precise, and pretty much perfect. Hermione hardly read letters this neat unless it was some sort of official paperwork.

'Take all the time you need. All I want is to see my son. I deserve that and you know this. He is mine, just as he is yours. No charges will be pressed- so long as I get to see him. We can worry about all the details later.

I know you have never expected something so horrifying as procreating with a wizard such as myself. I never thought it would happen either, but there's nothing we can do about it now. We must face reality and not run from our problems. We're both adults now, not a couple of immature, little children. We can handle this. We've survived a war, after all. A kid has got to be a bit easier than that; just a bit, wouldn't you think?

I'll be waiting for your reply.

- Draco Malfoy
P.S. Scorpius is a brilliant name, by the way.'

"So what are you going to do?" Ginny asked, after Hermione read the letter to them.

"I'm going to read the books that Harry brought over first. Just in case Draco is trying to set a trap to get me arrested."

"Yeah, you can't ever trust a Slytherin!" Ginny added.

Harry snorted. "Not one with the surname as Malfoy anyway!"

Chapter Text

Hermione let out a screech of irritation. She couldn't concentrate with the wails of Scorpius perforating into her mind, preventing her ability to absorb the material in the book that she was trying to read. She encased her aching head into her hands tightly, hoping that that would ease the throbbing pain of it.

Gritting her teeth, she abruptly stood up from her desk and went to her bedroom to change her clothes. It was time to take her son to a Healer and see if someone could pinpoint his problem. If he didn't stop crying, she was sure she was going to go mad. She was short of casting a spell onto Scorpius to mute him, and she couldn't do that. Most spells were very unsafe to cast onto infants. Evidently, there were no silencing spells that had no risk involved. It wasn't all too much of a good idea anyway. What if she fell asleep for several hours? Her baby would need her, and she'd not hear him!

Not to mention she was too worn out to safely cast any spell right now. Even a simple Lumos spell would probably somehow backfire.

The new mother rushed through a quick clean up process, so at least she wouldn't horrify people with her smell of sweat, and other odors that she may had gathered from her mothering chores and lack of sleep.

"Hermione?" Ron's call made her jump a mile. She clutched her beating chest, taking a couple breaths to relax herself.

Either Ron had perfected his apparation spell, or Scorpius' cries had covered up the normal cracking sound that accompanied the spell.

"Coming!" Hermione announced when her pulse returned to back normal.

In the living room, Ron stood by Scorpius' bassinet, peering down at the crying infant. His nose was wrinkled in annoyance, but he lifted his head at Hermione's approach and smiled.

"So... I guess it's true," he said slowly, uneasily.

"I assume you're talking about the identity of my son's father?" Hermione asked for clarity, picking up Scorpius to attempt to see if he would feed again.

Ron cleared his throat uncomfortably, looking away, and scratching at the back of his head. "Well... erm, yes. There's no-" he glanced at the fussy baby. "-doubt..."

"No," Hermione agreed. "I remember everything now. Malfoy is his father."

"How?" Ron demanded, nearly sounding hurt. "How could you-" he shuddered, twisting his mouth up like he had just tasted something awful.

Hermione sighed. She didn't want to talk about this right now, not since they had to practically shout at each other to talk over Scorpius. "We'll have to do this later, Ron!" she told him impatiently, and began to change Scorpius' nappy. "I'm sorry!"

"Okay," he nodded absently, still disturbed over the thought of her sleeping with Malfoy. "Is he okay?" He asked, suddenly realizing that the baby hadn't paused at all in his crying.

"That's what I'm going to go see about," Hermione said, shrugging into a set of robes.

"Can I help with anything?" Ron offered.

She shook her head, throwing floo powder into the fire. "Wait..." she stopped, giving him a second thought. "Could I borrow Pig?"

"Sure."

Hermione gave Ron a letter, and frowned when his jaw clenched at the name that had been written onto the envelope. She sighed and set a hand onto his shoulder. "Ron, it's going to be okay..."

"But-"

"I'll be fine. You know I can take care of myself."

He pursed his lips and his eyes settled onto Malfoy's full name. He nodded. "If you need anything, let me know..."

"Of course." Hermione smiled, and kissed him on his cheek before returning back to the Floo.

"Hope your son is okay, Mione. I know what you're going through. Edgar had a cold last week. He got real sick and all. Susan and I were so worried. But he's fine now. We took him to the branch in Japan, to avoid the, um, media, you know. Maybe you could do that... Harry told me that you were avoiding Malfoy and all..."

Hermione's eyes widened up at his idea. "Thanks, Ronald! You're brilliant!" She hardly had anytime to see the blush of the embarrassment masking his freckly face, before she flooed to the hospital in Japan.

Two nail biting hours later, Healer Yokamato handed her crying son back to her. "Your baby is perfectly healthy, ma'am."

"Then why is he crying?!" She asked desperately. "He's been doing it since six this morning! I don't know what to do! He won't do anything by cry. He hasn't even eaten in the past seven hours!"

He looked at her in sympathy. "There's nothing preventing him from eating- he has no issues with the stomach, throat, mouth, or anything of the like." He shook his head. "I would think he'd be hoarse by now. He has an excellent set of lungs." He chuckled to lighten the mood, but Hermione saw no humour in this and the Healer took note of that quickly. "Might I suggested a baby sitter? Take her to your Mother's-"

"I don't have a mother!" Hermione hissed angrily. "Never mind!" She huffed. "I'll figure it out myself!"

"My apologies, ma'am," Healer Yokamato said apologetically. "How about a few potions for yourself?"

"No thank you, sir!" She snapped, and turned on her heel, walking out with Scorpius in her arms.

When she got home, she sat on the sofa, tears of frustration and helplessness fell from her face. She held Scorpius in her arms, crying along with him. She silently prayed for help. Prayed for anything to make him stop. She had no idea what to do. All she wanted was to sleep. She just needed a break. Just a tiny break...

"Hermione!"

Hermione bolted up in confusion, wincing at the sharp pain in her neck. She must had pinched a nerve when she had finally passed out from exhaustion. Her sudden movement had startled a sleeping Scorpius awake, and he started his crying all over again.

Hermione groaned, putting a hand up to her head. It was killing her, and with each thud of her pulse, she felt a painful jabbing pain.

"What'd the Healer say?"

Sitting back down, Hermione closed her eyes, noticing that the pain was less when her eyes didn't move around to focus on anything. "Scorpius is healthy," she answered Ron.

"Oh, Hermione," Susan said. "Can I hold him?"

"It won't shut him up, but sure," Hermione muttered. She slitted her eyes to see Edgar tucked away in Ron's arms, peacefully looking around. Why couldn't Scorpius do that?! She thought bitterly. What in the bloody hell am I doing wrong?!

Susan tried soothing the baby, and gently introduced him to his 'future Hogwarts mate', making Ron roll his eyes in amusement. "A Weasley befriending a Malfoy?" He slightly scoffed, but he didn't appear to dismiss the idea completely. "Hey, Malfoy would love that, huh?" He asked Hermione with a smirk.

Hermione didn't get a chance to answer, Scorpius wails turned into down and out screams.

"Just like a Malfoy, really!" Ron spoke over the baby, as Susan quickly handed Scorpius back to Hermione with a frown.

Hermione whimpered, tucking her face into Scorpius' body. "He hasn't eaten since three this morning!"

The married couple exchanged worried glances. "That's not good, Hermione..." Ron told her gently.

"I'm too weak..." Hermione announced. She was sick of yelling, it was taking what little energy she had left.

"Have you eaten anything recently?" Susan asked.

Hermione shook her head, unable to remember when she had last eaten. "I don't remember eating anything today..."

She heard Susan gasp in horror. "Hermione!" She shrieked. "You can't not eat! Merlin!" Susan's voice faded as she disappeared into the kitchen.

"No wonder you look a wreck!" Ron exclaimed.

"Thank you very much!" Hermione spat irritably.

"Sorry," he mumbled, which she didn't hear. He sat down next to her, making his own son fuss. "Now don't you start," Ron scolded Edgar, setting a finger to the boy's mouth. "See, you're fine," he said when Edgar eagerly began sucking on Ron's finger.

"Wow, you're like some miracle father," Hermione said, looking down at the three month old baby who's hair was as red as Ron's.

Ron smiled proudly. "He likes his papa, don't you?" He gently jiggled his son's belly, making the baby smile. "That's my little guy!"

"Doesn't he just look so much like your dad?"

"Aye, but he has Mum's nose," Ron commented. "It's showing more and more every day." He was right. Edgar did have Molly's short, plump nose.

Hermione looked at her own son. She swallowed a forming lump in her throat. Her son looked nothing like her own parents. There was nothing in any of his features that would remind her of the family that she had lost.

With a loss of control, the tears flowed like a river after a flooding rain. Her family was lost forever. The Obliviation spell she had cast was irreversible. She had done it with the intention that she was never going to survive the war. At the time, it had seemed like such a far fetched thought with how strong Voldemort's side had been. And she knew her parents would have been targeted. She did what was right. She had done it to her uncle and his family too- just to be safe. It was always better to be safe than sorry.

But, at times, she had almost wished that she hadn't survived the war. Sometimes, it felt like she was living for nothing. Especially after she and Ron had broke things up. Life without love was lonely.

"Here, Hermione," Susan held a plate of food up to Hermione's nose.

Her stomach growled at the delicious aroma. "Thanks, Susan." She forced a smile, taking the plate of roasted chicken and healthy sides, and looking away uncomfortably when she noticed Susan's wary look.

"Are you okay, Hermione?" The witch asked worriedly. Susan eyed Scorpius who had mellowed down into whimpers, no longer actually crying or screaming.

Hermione nodded quickly and devoured her meal. They sat in silence, Ron and Susan watching her eat.

Ron held out his finger to Scorpius to see if he would grab a hold of it. He did, but it only upset Scorpius more. He kicked his feet, jabbing Hermione in the arm. His face was all scrunched up and red.

"At least now we know it runs in the blood," Ron said, focusing his attention back to Edgar.

Finally, after practically placing her nipple in the infant's mouth, Scorpius relaxed a little and ate. But he was still unhappy. He whimpered nonstop. His eyes were shut, squeezing out tears.

"Hermione," Ron took her hand into his, squeezing it softly.

Hermione wiped away her tears in haste. "Hmm?"

"It'll be alright," he whispered. "You're already a great mother, I can see it. He's just..." Ron trailed off, glancing down at Scorpius. "He's a Malfoy. Aren't they always difficult to handle?" He slightly smiled. "Take a moment to breathe, and don't blame yourself."

When she nodded and didn't say anything, he stood up. "See if that bloke will come and help you with his... responsibility."

"I want to check the law first. I need to see if there's a way out..."

"A way out? You're going to forbid him his child? Have you read the paper this morning?!" Ron actually looked upset by this. "Hermione-"

"I only want to make sure that I get my rights too," her voice was quiet.

Ron nodded. "Alright, but-" he looked away, purposely busying himself with Edgar. He cleared his throat. "Malfoys care a lot about family, Mione... and well, they are really wanting to see him. You better find a way fast," he said warningly. "Malfoy's father was a bit... well, upset would be putting it mildly, and Malfoy- Draco... he refused to say much. Said he'd like to talk to his son's mother before he was going to give any comment on the announcement of his heir. Malfoy was very..." Ron shrugged, trailing off, as if embarrassed on what he was about to say.

"See for yourself..." Susan spoke up, conjuring up her copy of that day's Daily Prophet and holding the front page of it. Hermione couldn't take her eyes off the picture. Draco looked as terrible as she felt. It was like he had been the one that had been up all night with a fussy baby, and hadn't had much time to eat, sleep, or do anything at all. His usual, fluffy, styled hair was a mess; not at all different from what Harry's always looked like. His eyes were dark and baggy, and he sported the most depressing look she had ever seen him do. Even worse than the one he had had at Crabbe's or Professor Snape's funeral (yes, she attended their funerals. She and her friends had attended every war victim's funeral).

"I'm not saying to trust him," Ron said reasonably. "But you know Malfoy... Does that look fake?"

"And look at Lucius," Susan pointed a finger to a different photo. Like, Draco, Mr. Malfoy was a complete mess, but more in a frenzy. He kept glancing at his wife who was linked around his arm, which she patted in an effort to calm him.

"Get that out of my face before I beat you with it!" he snarled at a particular reporter who had the camera up too close.

"We hope to hear from Miss Granger soon. That is all you'll hear from us today," Narcissa Malfoy said stiffly, before leading her husband to the apparation spot in Diagon Alley.

Hermione swallowed hard. Ron was right. This wasn't fake. The Malfoys were stressing just as bad as she. And, even if it were for different reasons, their tension could be eased simply.

Or so she believed.

* / *

"Master needs to eat."

"I told you, I'm. Not. Bloody. Hungry." Draco covered his head with a blanket, trying to block the morning light from piercing his eyes. His gut was torn up. If he ate anything, he was sure it'd reject it in a heartbeat as soon as the food hit his stomach.

It had been a full day now since he sent his owl to deliver the letter to Granger. He had received her reply by that day's evening. Her words had made him more upset- if that were at all possible. It sounded like she was blaming him for this whole thing. It was not his fault that the wizards supported keeping the wizard family names alive. Besides, he thought he was being decent about the whole scenario. If he had been his Father, the boy would be in his possession already.

And Father made sure to express it enough to him.

Draco took his Mother's words to heart though. This was his thing to handle. All Father could literally do was bitch about it. And it was driving the man mad. For once, there was a family issue that he had no control of.

And, for the sake of his child's mother, Draco wasn't about to go the route his Father wanted him to go. "Press charges, son," Father sneered the previous night before bed. "You need to show her that you're in control- not her. She can't take away our heir like that! She has no legal right to him!"

But Granger had moral right to Scorpius. And Mother agreed, scolding Father for trying to get Draco to do what he wanted.

"This is Draco's thing to handle," Mother told him gently. "He did not ask for your advice, as rotten as it is," she muttered the last bit.

"That baby is a Malfoy!" Father spat, shaking his cane in anger. "And he should be here- with his real family!"

Draco remained silent, biting back a spitting of his own. Granger was Scorpius' family too. Why didn't Father see that?

He had exited the room then, fearing he would start a fight with Father. He learned early in life not to argue with Father. To be honest, if Father hadn't gotten himself reined up with the Dark Lord, Draco may have taking his rubbish advice on this problem, but now he knew that his Father's choices weren't always the best. He'd rather take his Mother's peaceful advice and try to work with Granger on this shitty situation they were in, rather than wands a-swinging, like his Father was more interested in doing.

The world saw him as an arsehole, he was really wanting to prove that he wasn't. He may have the legal right to charge Granger with a crime, but it wasn't the correct way to handle this.

Still... Her response to his letter had been disappointing...

'Malfoy-
You'll have to forgive me for not wanting to put my faith into your words. Before I wave a white flag at all in your direction, I plan on researching this barbaric, idiotic, completely ludicrous law that deems it okay to take a child from his mother! I will not be made into a victim, and I will find a way to have proper custody of my child without having to marry you - because that's never going to happen. Ever.
-Granger'

Who said anything about him marrying her? Now that the Pureblood nonsense was out of the way, he could marry for love. He could marry whoever he wanted. Granger may be the best in bed, but that did not mean he loved her, or that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

That's when Mother filled him in on the full details of the law. It was no wonder Granger had been disturbed with the thought. He practically shuddered himself. As of right now, she could force him to marry her.

They were both in charge of each others fate now.

"At least eat some toast," Mother's said coaxingly, walking into his bedroom.

"I'm too sick," Draco moaned. Not meaning to sound as pathetic as it came out to being. He just felt like rubbish.

"Did you write her back?" Mother asked, sitting at the end of his bed, tapping his moving legs. He had not noticed that he had been wagging them until she had touched him.

"How do I reply to something like that?!" He sneered. "I can't even fathom how we're going to be able to do this." Draco folded his hands behind his head. "She thinks I'm out to destroy her. Merlin, I knew it was a mistake that night." He closed his eyes. It was the best mistake he had made, though. That's what he body told him every morning.

He grit his teeth in annoyance and shifted his weight, turning his back on his mother. He'd be embarrassed if his Mother noticed his sudden growth.

"Oh, Draco," Mother breathed. "It pains me to see you this way..."

"I'm fine," he grumbled.

"Respond back to her, son," Mother ordered him softly. "Show the girl that you have changed."

Draco grunted. "She won't believe me!"

"Then show her."

"I don't know where she is."

"But Preetea does," Mother said a bit mischievously.

"Yes, so?"

"A great potioneer as yourself has never used a locator potion?"

"Locat-" Draco flew out of bed. "By Gods, Mother! You're a genius!"

Mother smirked. "I know. Good luck." She left the room then, her work done.

Down in the dungeons, Draco had busied himself over a potion that Severus had helped him start up.

"I doubt it's going to work with Granger, Draco," Severus had warned him when Draco had explained what he was going to do with it. "Congratulations, by the way," he had added carefully in his hushed voice.

"I swear I didn't plan it," Draco grumbled.

"Your son will be brilliant- if he has even half the wits that his parents have."

That made Draco smile. "He will, won't he," He said proudly.

"One hell of a Know-It-All..." the portrait drawled in amusement. "I'm with your mother on this though," he said seriously. "Lucius is smart - until it comes to his family, then... his senses seem to go out the window. Granger is not the type of girl to sit around and let someone dictate her life."

"And she's also one that finds her way out of every bloody problem she has..."

"Exactly. I'd suggest not pushing her at all..."

"Do you think I could convince her to allow our son to be raised as he should be?"

Severus' left eyebrow rose up. "After all that she has been through, regarding your family, you'll have to do some severe convincing. Begging more like."

"Begging...?!" Draco was repulsed by the word.

Severus scoffed. "Figures you've never had to beg before."

"You have?!"

"Every man has at least once in their life time."

"Well, not me!"

"Have a happy life being alone then, boy. I tell you, speaking from experience, it's awfully lousy..." Severus walked out of his portrait then.

Draco rolled his eyes. "Begging... heh... Not a chance..."

Five minutes later, he swirled one of Preetea's feathers into his locator brew, turning it from yellow to white.

"I heard that you were going to find Granger," his Father inquired, stepping up beside him. "That potion isn't going to work."

"I'm going to make an effort. The worse that can happen is that it'll turn up blank."

Father hummed to himself in thought. "If you do happen to get this to work-"

Draco sighed in annoyance. "Do you honestly think that works? Must you insult my skills every chance that you get?!"

Father smirked. "If you do happen to get this to work," he began again, as if he had never been interrupted. "Then you should bring this along." He took off the amulet from around his neck (that was still glowing with a warm heat). "Put it around the boy's neck if you see him."

Draco held out his hand to receive it. "Does this mean you're going to tell me about the curse?" He looked at it, wondering why it was so important.

Father eyed at him warily. "I'm not sure if you are ready to hear the specifics..."

"Merlin, Father, I'm almost 26 bloody years old! I think I'm mature enough to hear about some bloody curse!"

Father straightened up, and took a deep breath. "Are you sure? Your life is about to drastically change, son..."

Draco shook his head in confusion. "Can you not speak in riddles?! You're not Dumbledore!"

"I suppose you ought to know... but, if I tell you, you should know that this is unavoidable, alright? This is going to save our bloodline. No longer will we have to stress about our name dying. It will flourish like the grass and weeds in the month of May. Do you understand how meaningful this is to us?"

Draco nodded eagerly, more curious then ever about the subject. He set aside his potion, and sat down, gesturing his father to actually start his story.

"Long ago, we were obviously much more prejudice against the muggleborns than we are now. There was this muggleborn girl, Anne Marie Green, she fell in love with Septimos Malfoy. He was your Great Grandfather. He found out about this, and publicly humiliated her for it," Father paused, a sour look came to his face.

Draco stirred in his seat, waiting for him to continue, not daring to say something. Whatever had happened must have been horrid.

Father pursed his lips and went on, "He stripped her of her clothes, sneering 'Do you honestly expect me to love a filthy body like yours?! I'd not even touch you in such away if you were the last filth on Earth, witch.' He then..." Father closed his eyes. "He disfigured her... So not even another muggleborn would even find her attractive enough to breed with."

Draco swallowed down a lump of vile. "That's disgusting..." He'd had never done that to anyone; not even to a muggle.

"Anne Marie Green did not get over that episode- who could? She went down a dark road after that, learning all sorts of Dark magic, presumably looking for one that would devastate Septimos. When he had gotten married to the finest looking witch of that era, children came by the bundles, each one dying at birth... After the sixth child, Anne Marie Green approached him one day-

'How do you feel now? What is it like to be unable to produce the heir that you so rightfully must, else you'll lose everything?'

'You did this?!' Septimos was outraged. How dare a muggleborn curse him! He had meant to kill her, but she apparated away quickly, laughing very much like your Aunt Bellatrix used to.

One day, several years later, Anne Marie Green came back again to Septimos, disarming him before he could even curse her.

'I am sorry to hear about your wife-'

'You did this to her!' He had shouted. 'This is why! This is why we hate you!' You steal our magic- and - and torture us with it! She would not have killed herself if just one of those babies had lived!'

'Perhaps you speak the truth. Your wife was not a bad person, Septimos. I have wronged her, and I will never forgive myself for that, but I can never forgive you neither.'

Anne Marie Green had planned to end the Malfoy bloodline with Septimos by not allowing a single of his offspring to live. When his kind wife had died though, she did not think it was fair that she had gone through all that suffering, and wanted to make up for it. She told Septimos that if he wanted his name to carry on, he would have to remarry and he'd have a son, allowing him to live."

"Why didn't she just lift the curse?" Draco asked.

"She couldn't, but she told him that all he had to do was marry her and the curse would be lifted once she bore his son, but he refused- his pureblood was too important to him.

This, of course, didn't make her happy, and she spoke the following words,

'My only crime was loving you
I did not deserve the pain you gave me
All you did was act like a shrew
One day you will learn, maybe

That we are not all filthy
And even though you think differently
I still can't help my love for you Septi
It is not because you are wealthy

Or for your blood of pure
I don't know why I love you so
I only wish you'd have called me dear
But now I have to let you go

I can not lift the curse
Perhaps one day your blood will see
And maybe it will disperse
Half and Half, Fifty, Fifty

When only a son decides on his own
That we are not as nasty as you say
Once the child has fully grown
Lots of sons and daughters, on your way

Take this amulet, watch it glow
The curse will be lifted, congratulations
On that day then you will know
My spell is gone, salutations.' "

Draco and Father took their time, soaking in on the words. "How is this going to effect my life?"

"Before Anne Marie Green departed, she told him that the Mother and Father of the half-blood heir would be brought together by the help of the amulet and the child."

"So Granger and I-" Draco thumbed the silver chain that the amulet was strung on. "We'll be... bonded?"

"You likely already are..."

"How would you know for sure?"

Father cocked up an eyebrow. "Have you been with any other witch?"

Draco shook his head. "Well, one, but, I tell you, Father, it wasn't a grand time..."

Father nodded, a blank look on his face. He sighed then. "There's no avoiding it, son. When a magic bond happens- you're out of control..."

Draco snorted. "I know that!"

"Good," he said approvingly.

"Father, why must Scorpius have the amulet?"

"It belongs to him. Anne Marie Green gave Septimos her most treasured item. It was a replica of her animungus form- or so that's what was speculated. It was also rumored that the name of the boy would be-"

"Scorpius..." Draco whispered. "Because of the shape..."

"Yes..."

"So Granger really didn't choose his name- it was the bond."

"Precisely, which is how you knew his name."

"Extraordinary..." Draco whispered astonishingly. Even being born into the magical word, it still fascinated him on how powerful magic could be, and how it really worked on its own.

Chapter Text

His fingertips skimmed across her naked body, the delicate touch slightly tickled her. She laughed, and took his hands with hers to stop him. He grinned, looking down at her pimply skin he had caused, then he kissed her, capturing her upper lip between both of his.

She moaned into his mouth, opening hers more so their tongues could meet. She redirected his hands to each of her breasts, and he deepened his kiss with growing lust-fulness, massaging her. He playfully pinched a nipple, making her break off the kiss to cry out. He took this opportunity to attack her neck, relishing the tender flesh with his mouth.

"Oh, God!" She gasped, gripping his forearms for support. She shut her eyes, breathing hard.

He continued to torment her, gently rolling the nipple between his fingers, flicking it with his thumb. Licking his lips, he inched down to take the hardened bud into his mouth to suck on. She arched her back, quietly moaning out his name. He rewarded her by switching to her other nipple, tapping it with the tip of his tongue.

"Draco!" A shriek erupted from her breathlessly. She thrust her hips up at him, feeling his erection through his silky, black boxers.

He groaned when he felt her connect with him. "Mione," he whispered. "I need you. I need you now."

Digging her nails into his arms, she drew in a breath and nodded. "I need you too..."

He kissed the valley between her breasts. "I... want... you... Mione," he said, pausing to kiss between each word. "I want you so fucking bad. And I know you want me."

She nodded again, surrendering to the ecstasy his mouth was doing to her.

"Why do you refuse to admit it then?"

Hermione opened her eyes. Her pulse beat wildly; effects from both her body's arousal, and the shock of her sudden wake. She glanced around, sitting up abruptly in confusion. She wasn't in her room. In fact, she wasn't in her home at all. Why was she here?

Scorpius lay next to her with a clothed fist in his mouth, sleeping away. A body of a man stirred on the other side of the baby. Hermione yelped, snatching up her sleeping baby, and leaping out of the bed. Scorpius burst out in wails from the movement.

Malfoy, who was still in bed, laying on his stomach, lifted his head, and narrowed his eyes. "What in the bloody hell?!" He grumbled sleepily.

"Well, it's about time you two woke up!" Harry exclaimed, sending his friend a look of relief.

"What's going on?!" Hermione demanded. "Why am I at St. Mungo's?! Why is he here?! What happened?!"

Malfoy scrambled out of the bed, piecing together the scenario. His usual fashionably grey suit was covered in wrinkles. He patted at his clothing, looking down at it in disgust. "What the-" he glanced around, straightening up stiffly, noticing the small audience that was present to witness his predicament. Malfoy's eyes wandered to the crying baby in Hermione's arms, and his face softened. "Scorpius..." his voice cracked.

And everything before that didn't no longer matter to him.

* / *

The day before...

"Mr. Potter, there's just one thing we can try for the baby, but we need parental consent before we can perform the spell, and, with Miss Granger unconscious, we can't proceed."

Harry took Scorpius from the Healer and softly bounced him. He didn't know why he had bothered; nothing eased his godson's crying. He looked at the sleeping Hermione worriedly. He had found her in her living room the previous morning, unresponsive to him. After a quick diagnostic spell, he had discovered that she was severely dehydrated.

Scorpius had been screaming unhappily at the time, but otherwise had appeared healthy. Harry took the baby to Ginny and returned back to Hermione's home to apparate her to the hospital for help.

Pumping fluids was not helping Hermione though. After twenty-four hours, her status still hadn't changed, and, even though the Healers didn't say anything to confirm it, he could tell that they were beginning to worry.

"What about Draco Malfoy?" Harry asked. "You have heard he is the father by now, I can assume?"

The Healer cleared her throat. "He's... also unable to provide the permission."

"Really?" Harry found that odd. It would be the perfect opportunity to see Scorpius, and Harry couldn't forbid it; Malfoy was Scorpius' legal parent by law.

The Healer's eyes glanced at the door before murmuring, "He's having the same issue. We're wondering if it's some sort of new virus, or something..."

Harry couldn't agree with her. Hermione and Draco were the first ones heard of to have such an 'illness' and they hadn't even been exposed to each other. This was something different.

Ginny entered the room then. She looked as pale as Hermione did, anxiously worrying over Hermione. She silently walked to Hermione, tapping a bare spot on the bed near her shoulder. "Mione," she whispered tearfully. "Please stay strong..." Ginny sniffed, turning to Harry, looking at him in grief.

Harry went to his wife to comfort her. He was also sick with worry and needed the feeling of his wife's arms around him. They spoke nothing as they held each other with Scorpius between them.

"Oh, you silly boy!" Ginny huffed after a few seconds, taking the crying baby from Harry. "If you'd only be quiet for a while, you'd feel so much better!" She sat down, cradling Scorpius in her arms.

"Oh, Harry," she started absently, absorbed in trying to calm the baby down. "I bumped into the Malfoys just before I came in here. Mrs. Malfoy wanted me to ask if you would speak with her. She said it concerned Hermione and Scorpius. I told her the most important thing right now is to get Hermione better; she's persistent though."

Harry sighed, eying Hermione. He knew he'd be confronted by this eventually. And, unfortunately, since she was sick, Hermione wasn't going to have the time to research the law like she had wanted to. Harry personally had found no way around it; if she didn't want to marry Malfoy, the Slytherin pretty much had complete control over Scorpius. There was nothing she could do about it.

And Harry could stall no longer. He refused to be the one to enforce this retched law on Hermione, but there were others who would forcibly take Scorpius away from his mother.

If only he could keep the peace long enough until Hermione got her say.

But Malfoy had yet to not press any charges, and, unless he did, Hermione was not a criminal- so there was a tiny light. Dim as it was.

"I'll go talk to her. I'm sure that she just wants to see her grandson..."

Ginny shrugged. "Malfoy would have pressed charges if he was going to already. He's had four days to do it."

Harry nodded. "I think so too."

Narcissa Malfoy was five doors down, sitting on a bench outside the room that was presumably her son's. Her hand was placed up to her mouth, and Harry could see tears trailing down her face.

He cleared his throat, announcing his presence, and the older woman instantly stiffened, quickly wiping her face dry. "Mr. Potter," she greeted, forcing a very faint smile.

"Ginny said you wanted to talk with me."

Mrs. Malfoy patted the empty spot on the bench next to her. "Please, sit down."

Harry obliged and waited for her to start. She explained to him about the curse that he had faintly remembered Mr. Malfoy mentioning the day that Scorpius was born.

"Was Anne Marie Green a seer then?" He asked when she was finished with the story. "I can see someone casting a curse, but how would she know about the bond and Scorpius' future?"

"She was a very powerful witch. It was speculated that she could create destiny, but I'm more inclined to believe your guess- she was probably a very reliable seer, or had made a 'lucky' presumption."

"What's this going to do to Hermione?" Harry asked her slowly. "You said she and your son are bonded; what's that exactly mean for them?"

"There are many different bonds, Mr. Potter. As you should know by now, magic can create itself, all we can do is try to manage it. Even the best wizards can have difficulties doing that though." She dabbed her eyes with a tissue, looking across the hallway at the closed door of another room. "I don't exactly know what type of bond they have, but I know that if Miss Granger and my son don't somehow get together, something bad will happen to them. As it is, they are both sick with the same symptoms, the Healers think it's some sort of virus. Lucius doesn't agree, but they won't listen to him."

Harry shifted in his seat, uncomfortable that he and Lucius Malfoy had come up with similar thoughts on the subject. "And what does Mr. Malfoy think it is?"

"Scorpius and the amulet are supposed to link the family together; he's suggesting that their illness may be some sort of calling out to them."

Harry thought about it. He hadn't seen much of the amulet yet, but the crying that Scorpius was doing since the day after he was born would make sense if the story was true. But was it really true? He couldn't be so sure. The amulet had glowed when Mr. Malfoy had shown it to him; just like Anne Marie Green had said it would in the story. If that story was true and if Harry could help Hermione, he'd try anything. Perhaps The Malfoys had some suggestions to help their son, and, in turn, it would help Hermione also.

"Do you have an idea on what we should do to help them?"

Mrs. Malfoy uneasily glanced away, and folded her hands into her lap, twirling her thumbs around one another. "My husband seems to believe that they need to... bond..."

Harry crossed his arms over his chest, leaning back up against the wall. "I don't much like what you are implying..."

"It doesn't have to be all the way or anything!" She said quickly. "Just... close contact. It's been nine months since they've touched each other-"

"All they have to do is touch each other?"

Mrs. Malfoy nodded.

"Nothing even remotely intimate?" Harry asked warily.

"Skin to skin; but hand and hand should be efficient enough."

Harry took a deep breath. "And this will make them better? Close contact will heal whatever that's going on with them?" He wanted to be sure before he did something that he knew would upset his friend.

"Lucius believes so. He understands Anne Marie Green's curse and her bond better than anyone."

"Alright, bring Draco into Hermione's room then," Harry decided and pointed to the room's door. "R4."

"Thank you, Mr. Potter!" She said in pure gratitude, and stood up from the bench in haste.

"I don't want Mr. Malfoy in there though," Harry said firmly. "I'll watch over them myself."

"I understand." Mrs. Malfoy then shut herself into Malfoy's room to make the preparations for his transfer.

"You've got to be kidding!" Ginny gasped when Harry had returned to the room and told her everything that Mrs. Malfoy had said to him.

"I'm willing to see if it works. Hermione would also do it- if she knew what was going on."

Ginny bit her lip, looking down at Hermione. An occasional moan could be heard from the sleeping witch. She looked so worn out even though she had been sleeping for over a day.

"What about Scorpius?" Ginny suddenly asked.

Harry lifted a shoulder in helplessness. "He'll barely eat. No one can figure out his problem. The Healers want to cast a sleeping spell onto him to calm him down, but neither his parents are able to provide the consent to do it."

"Then isn't that was godparents are for?" Ginny asked carefully.

Harry sighed, dragging a hand through his hair. "Usually, yes, but Malfoy is technically Scorpius' legal guardian, and since he is unconscious at the moment, the guardianship is passed off to Lucius Malfoy..."

Ginny's eyes grew wide. "Does that mean he can press charges against Hermione...?!"

Harry grimly swallowed and gave a single nod. "It also means that he can take Scorpius away..."

"No! He can't!" Ginny hugged their godson to her chest. "Oh, Merlin! Hermione is going to be devastated!"

"Let's just hope Malfoy wakes up before the papers are filed..."

There was a knock on the door then and Harry opened it, permitting Mrs. Malfoy access into the room. She lead two healers who were levitating a very limp and sick looking Draco Malfoy. His eyes were closed, and his mouth was hung open, slightly snoring. His hair looked like it needed be washed ten times over, and it looked like he had been wearing his clothes for about a week.

Mrs. Malfoy conjured a bed for her son to lay on and butted it up against Hermione's, then directed the Healers to put him onto it. She carefully linked Hermione's and Malfoy's hands together. At that exact moment, both murmured words that could not be understood by anyone in the coherent world, but each one's lips spread into a smile.

Mrs. Malfoy sighed happily. "I think it's working!" Her eyes lit up hopefully.

Scorpius wails got louder and more demanding. Mrs. Malfoy turned her head toward her grandson and her eyes instantly welled. "May I?" She whispered to Ginny, who was trying to calm him down.

Ginny looked toward Harry, unsure of what she should do. "Of course Mrs. Malfoy," Harry offered, remembering how Molly had reacted to seeing James for the first time. It would be inhuman to forbid a grandmother from holding her grandchild.

Mrs. Malfoy reacted no different than Molly had. The witch took her son's baby gently into her arms. With tears in her eyes, she lightly sobbed, speaking soft words to him. She brought her lips onto Scorpius' forehead. "You're so precious, Scorpius..."

Ginny couldn't help snorting at that statement. "He's been fussy for three days now! He refuses to calm down!"

Mrs. Malfoy tilted her head at Scorpius whose eyes were shut throughout his fit. His hands were balled into fists that were slightly shaking, and his mouth was open as wide as he could manage, wailing away.

Mrs. Malfoy walked over to the bed and leaned across her sleeping son, setting Scorpius above his parents' clasping hands. Very carefully, she readjusted their hands to lay on the baby's stomach. He cries instantly ceased. The room was oddly silent.

"Wow," Harry mused. "I wonder how long that will last for."

Mrs. Malfoy straightened back up, smiling down at the tiny family. "They look so sweet together," she whispered. "Don't they?"

Ginny and Harry exchanged glances, unsure of what to make of this. This only proved to Harry that the story he had been told had some truth in it.

Scorpius was now in a deep sleep like his parents were, sucking on his hand.

Mrs. Malfoy took out something from the front of her robes, revealing the amulet. It was no longer glowing. "Lucius said that Scorpius needs this," she informed Harry.

"Needs it?" Harry questioned. "For what?"

The older woman smiled. "To... sooth him."

Harry had an idea that she selected those words specifically. He placed his hands on his hips. "What's it going to do?"

"He needs the amulet to help him, remember the story? It'll take both Scorpius and the amulet to bring them together."

"Must they be together?" Ginny was biting her nails stressfully.

"If we want happiness for them."

Harry doubted anything could make those two feel happy about being forced together. Bond or no bloody bond.

"It will sooth Scorpius," Mrs. Malfoy said. "Like a dummy does, but much more powerful. It's safe magic and it belongs to him."

"Alright," Harry finally caved. "But what are you going to do? You can't put it around his neck- he could strangle himself!"

"Let's see how it interacts with him first," she suggested, and slipped the chain over Scorpius' head, placing the amulet on his chest. It flashed several times and a green magical wave ran down Scorpius' body, traveling to Hermione and Malfoy's hands, up their arms, and covering all their bodies with the green glow. The sleeping family was encased with the green hue until it slowly retracted back to the gem on the amulet where it had came from. The gem flashed again before the light went out. Then amulet disappeared altogether.

"Where it'd go?!" Harry demanded, more amazed than anything.

"I-I don't know..." Mrs. Malfoy was dumbstruck.

*/ *

Malfoy circled around the bed, making his way toward Hermione. His eyes did not stray from Scorpius as he took in the sight of his son. He stopped next to her, lifting his hand to touch the baby's own hand. Scorpius screams ceased instantly, as if Malfoy had just put a dummy into his mouth. The baby's eyes found his father's matching ones, and the two stared at each other for a long few, quiet moments before Scorpius began whimpering and grunting.

"Here, Malfoy," Hermione held out their son up to him. He drove his eyes up from Scorpius to look at her questionably. "I think he wants you to hold him."

Malfoy backed away suddenly, lifting his hands up. "I've never-"

"It's okay," Hermione insisted, backing him up to the bed where he plopped down onto it with wide eyes.

"I'll drop him- No!"

"Draco..." Mrs Malfoy swept quickly up to them. "I'll show you how," she offered quietly. "You must hold him though, the bond will force you to."

"Bond?" Hermione's ears perk up. She looked around to the room, seeing Harry and Ginny looking at her with strange looks.

Pity.

"What's going on?" She asked, hardly noticing Mrs. Malfoy taking the baby from her arms to help her son get acquainted with Scorpius.

"We-we're bonded, G-Granger," Malfoy informed her uneasily, slightly distracted by his Mother shoving the baby into his arms. "Mother!" He gasped, holding onto the infant with his dear life, truly afraid that he was going to drop Scorpius.

"Bonded?" Hermione asked confusingly. She and Malfoy were bonded? How? To what extent? And what type of bond? There were so many different bonds, it could be anything.

Hermione backed up, bumping into the wall behind her, breathing hard at the thought of a particular bond. She slid down the wall in her panic. She prayed to Merlin that it wasn't some type of slave bond! That would be incredibly humiliating!

"It's alright," Mrs. Malfoy coaxed her son softly, adjusting his arms to properly house Scorpius comfortably in his arms.

Malfoy's lips were pressed together tightly, and he sat stiffly, unmoving. "What-what do I do-do now?" He asked uncertainly.

"What kind of bond are we talking about?" Hermione asked.

Harry and Ginny helped her up to her feet. "Let's go get something to eat," Harry suggested. "Then we can explain."

Hermione glanced down at Malfoy who was now uneasily murmuring words to Scorpius. "He'll be fine," Harry assured her. "He's a fast learner," he whispered so Malfoy couldn't hear him, and Hermione reluctantly followed him out of the room with Ginny behind her.

Harry found a quiet corner in the lunch room of the Hospital for them to sit at. Hermione had forced herself to nibble at the meal that he had gotten for her, after hearing that she had not eaten much in the last couple of days.

"It's a family bond, but it could also be a love bond," Harry explained when Hermione asked the questions that had formed into her mind.

"So, I'm not some sort of slave then." She heaved out a sigh of relief.

"No, but it sounds like you and Malfoy are going to become close. Whether you like it or not."

Hermione nodded. She didn't like it. Not a bit. But it was a bond and bonds were extremely powerful.

Powerful enough to protect someone from a killing curse...

Unstoppable. Unavoidable.

"So the bond happened when Scorpius was conceived..." Hermione said when Harry told her the story of Anne Marie Green.

"It appears so."

"That would explain those dreams..." Ginny mumbled, hiding a grin.

Hermione blushed, covering her face with her hands. "Please, don't remind me," she groaned.

Harry snorted in disbelief. "You've been fantasying about Malfoy?!"

"Harry!" Hermione hissed in embarrassment, but she looked down at her unfinished plate of food and gave a small nod.

"It's just the bond's work," Harry reasoned. "It's trying to force you together."

Hermione pushed away her plate. She had no appetite now. If she ate another bite, she'd likely puke. The thought of being forced together with Draco Malfoy made her stomach churn.

"Mrs Malfoy said all you had to do was touch each other," Harry whispered. "Nothing sexual or anything. All you did was sleep next to him and you both began to heal."

"The bond was making us sick," Hermione summarized. "Because we weren't... 'enjoying' each others company."

Ginny leaned back, slightly smiling. "I've never heard Scorpius so quiet either..."

"You're right, Ginny..." The story was true then, Scorpius was going to push her and Malfoy together with the help of the bond that he had formed upon his conception.

Hermione tilted her head in thought. According to Malfoy, and, if what he said was true, he was more than willing to work with her. He couldn't do much to her since they were bonded. And the bond also wouldn't allow him to marry another witch, so he couldn't drive her out of Scorpius' life that way if he would later decid to get a stick up his arse.

She didn't much have to like it, but her friends were right; she had no choice in the matter. Besides, the bond seemed to make Scorpius happy, and she wanted her son to be the happiest baby on Earth.

Even if it meant that she and Draco Malfoy were united by some force of magic.

* / *

Draco chuckled uneasily and wiggled his finger. Scorpius had a tight hold of it, as if he feared he'd never get to hold onto it again if he were to let it go. He drank from the bottle that Draco held in place for him. It had been difficult to get the baby to drink from it at first, Mother had said it was likely because Granger had breastfed him, but as soon as he had tasted a single drop of milk, Scorpius latched on eagerly.

Draco repeated all the instructions that his Mother had given him over and over inside his head. He didn't want to mess anything up. Scorpius was special. Scorpius was his son. Nothing else mattered anymore to him.

He removed the nipple when Scorpius let out a cough. "Alright, alright..." Draco whispered, lifting his son up to his shoulder to pat his back making Scorpius burp.

Mother's fading footsteps made Draco look up. He bolted from the bed. "Mother!" He shrieked, noticing that she was trying to sneak out of the room. "Where are you going?!"

Scorpius began to fuss over Draco's change in tone. He gently rocked the baby like Mother had showed him how to do. "No, no, don't cry!" He pleaded helplessly, softening his voice, and sending his Mother a 'help me!" look.

"You'll be alright. I'm going to talk to your father. Miss Granger should be back shortly. You two will need to talk."

Draco clenched his jaw at the awkward feeling that flooded through him. Suddenly it dawned on him that he'd actually have to speak with Granger. They'd never had a conversation before that didn't end with name calling, screaming, hexing, or one of them turning their back on the other to hurry away (usually she did that to him).

How in Merlin's beard had they ever managed to have sex together?!

'Because she was fucking hot,' his inner mind told him. Draco shook head his. That was just the bond talking. At least he now had a reason (an excuse more like) for his erotic thoughts that involved Hermione Granger though.

He looked down at his son whose wide eyes were staring at him, as if trying to read his thoughts. "What are you thinking?" He asked his son, lowering his face down to the boy's hand that still gripped him tightly.

Scorpius answered with a sigh. His eyes fluttered closed then flew open again to look up at Draco. He was fighting to stay awake.

"I'll be right here when you wake," Draco promised his son. "I'm never letting you go." That seemed to be enough to ensure the baby, and he went to sleep.

Chapter Text

Hermione stopped at the door to the room that had been assigned to her in St. Mungo's. Her hand was paused at the doorknob, ready to turn it and enter the room, but the sight through the window had caught her eye. Malfoy was on the bed, laying on his side with his head propped up in his hand. His other hand was set onto the stomach of little Scorpius, rubbing it gently. She had never thought he could do something so sensitive. She watched his lips move, as if he was talking to the baby, which he probably was.

"Do not think for a second that you can separate a Malfoy from his son," a cold, drawling voice said behind her.

Hermione turned around to address the man it belonged to. "As if this is any of your business at all." She glared at the tall man before her.

Lucius Malfoy smirked. "You think that you are in control here, how cute." His eyes shifted to watch his son bonding with the baby. "Oh, but how wrong you are; just you wait and see."

"Come to fight Draco's battles for him again? He's likes it when you do that, doesn't he? He's not capable of doing it on his own. My son will be different though, Mr. Malfoy, and that much I can promise you!"

Mr. Malfoy chuckled slightly, easily amused, just like his son was. "You might be just a bit too late for that, Miss. Granger. Now-" he pressed his cane against her chest, gesturing her to move out his way, "-if you'll excuse me, I need a word with my son."

Hermione didn't budge from the spot in front of the door. She grasped onto the cane and narrowed her eyes. "That is my room, sir, and you have been forbidden access to it."

Mr. Malfoy yanked his cane from her grip, curling his lip up into a sneer. "Watch me," he snarled threatening.

"Lucius!" A woman shrieked, followed by a loud pair of shoes clunking against the floor toward them.

Lucius' smug look disappeared as his wife approached him. "Hello, dear," he greeted her with a purr, pretending as if he hadn't just been acting like the jackass that he was.

"I can't leave you alone for a minute!" She back handed his arm, making him wince.

"I was only-"

"I told you to leave them alone!" Mrs. Malfoy pointed up the hallway. "Move it!" She then swatted him a good one on his rear end. He stiffened and looked ahead. His pale face reddened up, and it took all Hermione could not to burst out laughing. Mr. Malfoy began walking with his wife at his heel, who was scolding him. They dissapeared around the corner to where Hermione couldn't see them.

Hermione snorted in laughter, now wishing she had seen Mrs. Malfoy take her arse of a husband by the ear, like Harry had witnessed the week before.

The door clicked behind her. "What's going on?"

Hermione spun around to see Malfoy standing just inside the room. Scorpius was tucked away in his arms, with his tongue poking out the side of it, as if he was concentrating on something.

"Your mum just corralled your dad like he was a herd of sheep!" She said, stuck in a series of giggles.

Malfoy stuck his head out to look down the path that his parents had vanished from. "What did my father do this time?"

"Nothing at all unusual for him," she was still slightly laughing.

"I am so positively happy that my family can amuse-" he stopped short, sniffing the air and wrinkling his nose. "Granger, did you just let one loose?" He gasped in horror.

"What?!" She snapped. "Of course not!"

Malfoy sniffed the air again, trying to locate where the odor was coming from. "Ugh!" He shrieked in disgust. "What is that?"

"It's Scorpius," Hermione informed him, catching the look on the face of the baby.

Malfoy lunged forward and thrust Scorpius into her arms. "Clean him then!" He ordered. "Merlin, he smells horrid!"

"I've cleaned him enough, Malfoy, it's your turn, Mr. Daddy!" she went to give him back their son, but he quickly backed up, hands raised in refusal.

"I am not touching-"

"Oh, just shut it, you big sissy!" Hermione grumbled, pushing Malfoy out of her way, and walking into the room, placing Scorpius onto the changing table. She removed his nappy, sending the smell into overdrive.

She heard Malfoy gag and looked up to see him removing his wand. "I'll take care of the mess," he told her, pinching his nose, and pointing his wand at Scorpius.

"No!" Hermione screamed, putting herself between his wand and her baby.

"What the fuck, Granger?!" Malfoy demanded. "Get out of the way!"

"Are you crazy?! You can't cast spells on infants!"

He lowered his wand instantly. "You can't?"

"No! Put that away!" He obliged, and she explained to him what she had read, "If he's magical, and, I don't doubt that he is, Scorpius' magical core has a high chance of getting damaged when a spell is cast on him. It'll be a while before his magical core can handle the impaction of spells."

Malfoy then pointed his finger at Scorpius, alerting Hermione that he had somehow gotten his heel smeared with his foul mess he had made.

Hermione groaned, grimacing in disgust. "He'll need a bath," she announced, summoning up a box of wipes.

"You don't say?" Was Malfoy's sarcastic reply. He watched Hermione add water to a shallow, tiny tub with her wand, and set Scorpius into it.

"Come here and help me," she ordered. After Malfoy had inched his way to her, she tossed her head toward a sponge. "Grab that, squeeze it until most of the water is out, and start cleaning him. Try and avoid his umbilical cord."

Malfoy's face scrunched up in disgust at the piece of tubing made out of flesh. "What happened to the other-" he stopped himself off short, shaking his head. "Never mind, I don't want to know."

"He's never this calm when I bathe him," Hermione noted, smiling down at Scorpius who was sucking on his hand. An occasional happy hum would come from him.

"You must do it wrong then," Malfoy told her bluntly.

"I do not!" She hissed, indignant of his 'comment'. She removed Scorpius' hand from his mouth so Malfoy could clean it. The baby fussed a little at this, and threw his free arm into the water during his fit, splashing Malfoy.

"Good going, Granger," he grumbled, taking a moment to shake the droplets off his suit.

"Well, it wasn't like I planned that!"

"Whatever," he muttered.

"And, besides, your suit is a mess anyway!"

He sent her a dark look before saying, "Scorpius needs to come out now. He's clean, the water is getting cool, and I don't want my son catching a chill."

Hermione instructed Malfoy to get a towel, and when Scorpius was tucked up against her chest again, Malfoy circled the room, casting deodorizing spells.

"Much better," he said, breathing in deeply, sighing with relief.

"I think he's hungry," Hermione hinted to Malfoy to give her some privacy. She sat on the edge of the bed, watching her son yawn.

"He's eaten not that long ago."

"When?" She asked. "I didn't feed him."

"No, but I did."

Hermione looked up at him in shock. "How?"

Malfoy scoffed. "From my breast, Granger- how else?" He rolled his eyes, muttering incoherent words under his breath.

"God, you're such an arse, Malfoy!"

"Mother showed me a few things while you were away, socializing with your friends. Some of us feel our children are much more important than visiting our friends."

"I was not socializing!" Hermione shrieked out in irritation. "And Scorpius is the most important person in my life."

"Anyway," he carelessly waved her outburst off. "The Healers informed me that Scorpius hasn't been eating much lately. They're surprised that he hasn't lost any weight. All he has been doing is crying these last couple of days. At least until he saw me." He grinned. "He just wanted his father. He knew that I'd make sure everything is done properly for him."

Hermione grit her teeth at his arrogant statement. "Listen, here, you insufferable-"

"Thank you," Malfoy interrupted her.

Hermione was taken back by those words. Her mouth opened up in a gap, astonished to hear those words directed at her from him. She quickly shut it back up. It occurred to her that he could just be messing with her.

"Before this could have escalated into anything further, that was what I wanted to say."

"For?" She seethed, still not allowing herself to believe him.

"For having my son," Malfoy said sincerely. His shifted his eyes down to Scorpius, slightly frowning. "You could have aborted him early on. And, later, he nearly got adopted out."

Hermione nodded, swallowing down the ball of vile at the thought of that. She had to have been insane to even think about that. She loved her little boy, and, thanks to the Gods above, that option had fallen through.

"You're welcome," was all she said. She didn't know what else to say to his gratitude.

There was an awkward moment of silence before Malfoy cleared his throat, and scratched the back of his head. "So, what do we do now, Granger?"

Hermione sighed. "I don't know," she confessed.

"Where have you been staying lately? I tried going to your house, but you weren't there."

"I'll come back to it shortly," Hermione told him, refusing to tell him about her safe house.

"With Scorpius?"

"He's my son, so, yes, that was my plan," she answered, glancing at Malfoy to see him nodding in thought, biting his lip. "Are you going to try to take him from me?" She asked him in a quiet voice.

Malfoy's eyes met hers, and they stared at each other until he walked to Hermione, leaning up against the wall in front of her to face her. He silently eyed her over.

"What?" Hermione asked warily.

"I'm thinking..."

"About what though?"

"About the..." Malfoy tilted his head up, pressing the back of it to the wall, looking up at the ceiling. Hermione guessed that he was avoiding her eyes. He sighed. "About the bloody bond."

Oh, that. How could she ever get used to a magical force that would make her interested in Malfoy? She allowed her eyes to graze the sight of him. She was not attracted to him. She would swear it. But her dreams of him begged to differ. The Malfoy in her dreams was different than the one in reality though. He had to be. How else could she have feelings for that Malfoy, and not this one?

She heard him chuckle. "What makes you sport such a goofy look on your face, Granger?" He asked.

"Nothing," she answered quickly, ducking her head, thankful that, for once in her lifetime, her hair could serve a purpose and hide her blush. If Malfoy knew what she had been thinking, she'd die right on the spot, and HE would never let her forget it either. She was sure of that.

"We need to find out how long we can be separated before the bond forces us back together," she said suddenly.

"You best get used to the idea of having me around, because you're stuck with me. You know it, I know it, and anyone who has any sort of knowledge with bonds knows it."

"Well, that doesn't mean I have to like it!" Hermione huffed.

Malfoy laughed lightly. "You won't at the moment, but you will eventually."

"Aren't you upset at all by this?!" She demanded hotly.

He shrugged. "I am not going to say that I am completely happy with the arrangement, but there's not a thing that I can do to stop it, so what is the point in sniveling about it?"

He had a point. And she hated him for it.

"What are you going to do, Granger?"

"About what?"

"About your newly created family."

Hermione bit the inside of her cheek. It had been eight years since she had a person she could call her family. All of her friends were married now, and she felt lonely watching them with their own families. She was always welcome at their places, she knew that, but she always felt out of place, and didn't want to seem like she was imposing on anyone.

Malfoy waited patiently for her reply, still propped up against the wall, giving her a pointed look.

She sighed. That old saying came to her mind then; You can choose your friends, but you don't get to pick your family.

* / *

Granger was sexy when she was annoyed, Draco had discovered. He had not been able to stop himself from poking at her a little so he could hear her entertaining huff of irritation. He liked the way her eyebrows pressed closer together when she glared at him.

He couldn't have her too angry with him though, else she'd never come to a compromise. That's why he had thanked her. Not that he hadn't meant what he had said, but he had known it would catch her off guard, cooling her down.

He silently groaned to himself, and stopped himself from clenching his fists. It had been forever since he had bed a woman, and with Granger sitting right before him, looking as fine as ever (even though she was as much as a wreck as he currently was, neither having had bathed in the last couple of days), his mind wandered further than he would prefer it to at that moment.

Draco excused himself quickly, explaining that he needed to speak with his parents. "Maybe Scorpius will allow you to feed him while I'm gone, I doubt it though," he added before slipping out of the room. He smirked to himself, knowing that the comment had probably irked her a bit.

He made his way to the bathroom, shutting himself up in it, and casting some spells for privacy. He had a problem to take care of and it wasn't one to go away on its own.

Minutes later, he cleaned himself up, and fixed the wrinkles in his suit. He was thinking that it would be great to fuck a woman again. He was tired of using his hand. It wasn't the same as the wet, tight hole of a woman beneath him. He wanted to feel the bare skin of another body against his own. He was beginning to miss the sexual companionship that he used to have.

But it would be a while before he had that again. Draco knew that, because the only woman he'd ever get to fuck again was Granger, and it'd take a while for her to come to terms with the bond. He would have to find a way to quicken this though. He wanted her. He needed her. She may not be the woman he thought he'd end up with, but she wasn't a terrible one. There was definitely a long list of worse witches that he could have ended up with.

He shuddered at the thought, exiting the bathroom, looking like the Malfoy he had been born and raised as. He felt much better now. Respectfully clean, and tantalizing, smelling fresh.

"Good evening, son," his father drawled, meeting him at a corner.

"Father." He grinned. "You should see him," he said, speaking about Scorpius. "Merlin, he's amazing."

Father nodded, matching the grin. He set a hand onto Draco's shoulder, showing a bit of pride. "Excellent. When can we take him home?"

"Erm, we haven't gotten that far really," Draco told him quietly.

The hand dropped from Draco's shoulder and Father scowled. "He belongs to us, Draco, if she don't want to be part of the Malfoy family, that's her problem, but that boy is ours. And she will turn him into a bloody Gryffindor if we don't get him!" He hissed out the last bit, glancing around, as if afraid someone may have heard him.

"Father!" Draco gasped. "No Malfoy blood has ever been sorted outside of Slytherin! You are worrying over nothing."

"I am not! The odds of a Gryffindor raising a Slytherin are practically null! Especially a female one."

"I'll handle it." Draco sighed. "I want to be in my son's life, and I'll do anything to make that happen, but that's not going to happen if his mother thinks I'm some bloated, insensitive toad."

Father sneered down at him. "Just take the boy away from her already! She'll come crawling after him, having no choice but to, and then you'll have the both of them with little effort involved!"

"What then? We marry and she hates me for the rest of our lives because I forced her into it? Is that really the correct way, Father?" Draco lowered his voice. "I'd like to have a decent lifelong relationship, if you know what I mean. I am bound to Granger; it's not like I am able to go out I find relief elsewhere."

Father stiffened. He said nothing, an indication that he found validity in Draco's reasoning. He'd never openly admit it though, but Draco knew otherwise. Father never gave him compliments personally. The only praising that Draco ever received from the man was when he was bragging about his accomplishments to other people, trying to impress them.

"If I want to be happy, Granger must first be happy," Draco summarized.

"This is going to come and back fire on you, Draco."

Draco pinched the bridge of his nose. "I really have no choice in the matter. I'd like to make the best of this bloody event. And, if you butt in much more, Mother is going to castrate you," he whispered the last bit.

Father licked his lips nervously, giving that a thought over. He let out a scoff. "Your ruddy mother," he grumbled. "She doesn't know what's best for you! Not like I do!"

Draco stood up straighter, inhaling deeply. "F-Father, I'd like to try it my way f-first. Then, if it doesn't work, I can... try it your way..."

His father's eyes shifted from him, pursing his lips in frustration. "How long are you going to give her?" He asked without looking at him.

Draco lifted up a shoulder. "A year? Perhaps two? If I show her how much I've changed, maybe I can persuade her into-" Draco paused, pressing his palm to his forehead. He shook his head. What was he thinking? Granger would never commit herself into any sort of relationship with him...

Merlin, he was never going to have sex again...!

"If you really care about all that cozy rubbish, just allow the bond to lead your way," Father suggested in a low voice. "I only ask that you don't allow her to take over everything that you have, Draco. There are somethings that a man should have control of."

"Like the decisions of his family's issues?" Draco asked snarkily.

"Precisely," he answered, ignoring Draco's tone. "It is a man's job as the head of the household."

"Granger is not the type of woman to allow such a thing..."

Father quirked up an eyebrow. "Then she should not have tangled with a Malfoy, hmm?"

Draco chuckled. "Have you given Mother this speech?"

He sniffed coldly. "Course not! I don't think I'd make it to the next day..."

Draco smirked. "Father, Granger is a Gryffindor, they may not stew on retaliation, but they do pack a punch when they attack. I am not sure I'd want to poke her enough to where she'd hex me. Her spells are awfully strong. I know her much better than you do."

Father sighed in defeat. "I suppose you're right."

"And acting like a complete arse has had it's repercussions, hasn't it, Father? You have yet to have been allowed to see Scorpius."

"You could have changed that, Draco," was the dark accusation.

"Sorry, Father, but it is your responsibility to create decent ties with people that will benefit you. I have a woman to try to keep happy now."

Father gave him a scandalized look. "She is more important to you than I am?"

"Granger is eventually going to be my wife one day. Since the creation of our son, she's been an important part of me, even if I didn't realize it at first. Right now, she and Scorpius are my top priority. You can handle yourself just fine, but I have a family now, and it is my responsibility to make sure that they are cared for."

His father tilted his head, giving him a strange look. "You've... become a man," he whispered in shock.

Draco nodded, giving it a thought. "In more ways than one."

Father cleared his throat uncomfortably. "What am I going to do, now that you..." he stopped to sniff, his eyes reddening with emotion. "... don't need me...?"

"I'll always need you," Draco assured him. "You're my father. There are still somethings that I can't go to Mother about. Every man needs his father."

Father set a hand onto Draco's shoulder again, giving it a squeeze. They exchanged smiles, before bursting out into awkward chuckles.

Draco went back to Granger's room shortly after. She was sleeping in the bed with Scorpius tucked in the crook of her arm,

Draco tucked his hands into his pockets, leaning up against the closed door, watching her sleep peacefully.

"I'm not asleep," she informed him, breaking the silence. Her eyes remained shut.

"Were you able to get him to eat?" Draco didn't move from where he stood at.

Granger giggled softly. "Yes, he ate like he was some starving ape."

"He might do that for a while," Draco warned her. "From his recent lack of eating."

"I figured as much. I don't care, though, I like seeing him eat."

"I think it's time that my father met his grandson." Draco blurted out suddenly.

Granger eyes met his, her brow furrowed. The action made Draco's lips twitch, thinking of thoughts he shouldn't have been. "Have you two come up with some scheme to kidnap him?" She asked carefully.

Draco crossed his arms over his chest and grunted, insulted by her accusation. "I've talked to him about that already. I would prefer not put my son through such unnecessary measures. We're adults, I'm sure we can work this all out."

"Then you have no problem with me taking him home tonight when I am omitted?"

"As long as you don't keep Scorpius from his rightful family," he said simply. "Which includes my father."

Granger closed her eyes again and nodded. "Alright..." she said very slowly. "I can't really argue with that."

"Great," Draco smiled in relief. He wasn't sure how much longer his father could stay sane from having Scorpius withheld from him. He walked to the opposite side of the bed that Granger was lounging on. "Would it be alright if I did that now? Father has been waiting around a while to see him."

"Yeah, that's fine." She sat up in the bed, stretching, and looking down at their sleeping son. "It's odd how quiet he's been."

"He's happy now." Draco carefully picked up Scorpius, still fearful that he was going to drop him. "I'll try to be back in an hour," he told her.

"Take your time. I'm going to clean up." Draco watched her eyes scan his attire. She said nothing, and he couldn't tell what she was thinking until that silly look come upon her face a second time that day.

If he was lucky, he wouldn't have to wait much longer for her to catch up with him on his explicit thoughts. Draco was sure she was having some of her own.

"Now what have I done?" She asked when she had noticed that he was grinning.

"Nothing," Draco quickly shrugged her off and made a hasty escape.

She was so naive. She wouldn't figure it out until it was much too late.

Father was eagerly waiting outside the room. He smiled widely when he seen Scorpius for the first time. "You can not deny that he's a Malfoy," he said as Draco handed the baby to him.

"Isn't he precious, dear?" Mother gushed, peeping over Father's arms to smile at Scorpius.

"Perfect..." he whispered, kissing the tiny forehead. "Absolutely perfect." Father pecked a quick kiss on Mother's cheek. He then looked at Draco, tilting his head appreciatively. "Well done, my son."

"Thank you, Father," Draco said, and he matched the smiles that both of his parents were making.

Chapter Text

"I'm ready to go home now."

Malfoy sidestepped away from Hermione as she went to take Scorpius from him.

She narrowed her eyes, "Malfoy!" she hissed, trying to ignore the photographers. The reporters were only allowed to take pictures quietly inside the hospital, anything more had to be done on the outside of it. Healers couldn't concentrate if there was any sort of chaos happening.

"I want to carry him out," he told her gently, staring down at his sleeping son. "It'll help fix my image."

"Fix?"

"Haven't you heard, Granger?" He scowled. "According to the tabloids, I'm the deadbeat dad of the year. More so because of who I am. They are trying to make it seem like I am some wealthy prick hole who doesn't care diddly about his child."

"Obviously, that's all squash," she said in his defense.

"Yes, but I must set them straight. If I had known you were carrying my son-"

Hermione groaned. "'I didn't even know it! If it wasn't for that amulet, neither of us would know..."

Malfoy nodded. He stepped closer to her, whispering into her ear, "I apologize for not being there for you. I want you to know that I would have been there throughout the entire time if I had known you were carrying my son. I would have definitely acted much differently, Granger."

Hermione looked up at him, surprised to find how soft his tone was. His eyes were serious. He must had been telling her the truth.

"It's okay," she assured him. "Like I said, I didn't even know that was you, so I'm not going to blame you for what you couldn't have helped."

"Meet me at my Manor. You can pick Scorpius up after we disapparate."

"Alright," she agreed.

Malfoy went to join his parents then, who were waiting for him to finish saying goodbye to his son for the night.

The nasty reporters eagerly followed the family out of the hospital, and Hermione hung behind them, bracing herself. They'd come after her too, after the Malfoys disappeared.

"We are so happy to finally meet the new addition to the Malfoy family," Mrs. Malfoy was saying. The three adults wore huge smiles, and they even posed for pictures.

"Excuse me, Mr. Draco Malfoy," one reporter said above the others. "What do you plan to do now? Are you going to do the rightful thing, and marry Miss Granger? Or is this all just something new and interesting for you, and, when the excitement wears off, are you going to toss them out into the gutter?"

Mr. Malfoy looked peeved by this question. His lips curled and he growled, blocking the reporter from his son.

Draco stepped back out into the open, forcing a sweet smile, though Hermione could tell it was fake. "Miss Granger and I still have lots to discuss. Marriage is not in our near future, but I am going to do everything that I can for my son to ensure that he is happy and healthy. Thank you so very much for your concern, but my son is ready for bed now. We should get back to the Manor. Good day to you all." Malfoy tipped his head and the abundance of camera flashes momentarily blinded him, making him blink rapidly. He kept on his fake smile though and pushed his way through the crowd, leading his family away. The reporters separated when they all disappeared into one of the nearby safe houses that would allow them to disapparate secretly out of the eyes of any onlooking muggles.

Just as she had thought would happen, Hermione was instantly surrounded by the cluster. Microphones were tossed into her face, cameras snapping with both light and noise.

"Miss Granger!" Several were shouting for her attention, hoping for a response from her.

"Are you and Draco Malfoy secret lovers?"

"Are you going to marry Draco Malfoy?"

"Even after he practically ignored your pregnancy status?"

"How could you have fallen in love with an ex Death Eater?"

"Please!" Hermione desperately called out to them. "Draco Malfoy and I are not lovers. And, no, I am not going to marry him. He has shown that he is a terrific father though, and we're going to work on this together. Our son's happiness and well being is the most important thing to us."

"I heard that you were bound together- is that true?"

Hermione swallowed hard, feeling herself freeze up. "I- uh.."

"So, it's true?"

"You're bound to Draco Malfoy?" Another reported gasped. "What kind of bond is it?"

"Is Draco Malfoy your servant now, Miss Granger?"

"What sort of things are you going to make him do?"

Hermione stiffened. An anger was building up inside of her. "That's enough for now," she said as calmly as she could. "I have just gotten out of the hospital, I am very tired, and I'd like to go home. Please move out the way..."

Some of the reporters did as she asked, pulling others with them who refused to grant her wish.

"Thank you for your time, Miss Granger," several of them echoed behind her as she walked into the same safe house that the Malfoys had just previously done.

She shut the door behind her, leaning up against it, breathing heavily. It was bad enough to be bound to Malfoy, but it was worse that the entire world had to know about it. Balling up her fists, she pushed herself from the door and took out her wand, apparating to Malfoy Manor.

Malfoy was waiting for her on the outside of the iron gates of his estate.

"You just had to go around boasting about it! You couldn't stop yourself, could you?!" Hermione demanded as soon as she had seen him.

He looked taken back, mildly shocked at her sudden attack. "What are you talking about?"

"That stupid, ridiculous, bloody bond!" She shrieked. "They know! Thanks to you, the entire world knows!" She had tears in her eyes. "I can't believe you! How could you do this?! Never mind, I know how!" She took her son from Malfoy, avoiding his eyes so he wouldn't see that she was about to cry. "You're a pathetic worm!" She snapped.

"Granger, I've-"

"Don't!" She backed from up when he made a move to touch her.

"Wait-"

She didn't hear what else he had to say, choosing to apparate away as quickly as she could. She gently landed inside her home, sobbing. He was still the ferret she had known him to be. Hermione had known he couldn't have changed that much. She was in the public's good eye, while he wasn't. Obviously being bound to her was a good thing for him, and he had gloated about. He was going to use this to get his name back.

This was bad for her though. Hermione didn't care much about her reputation, even though hers was fairly decent, but now, every time she stepped out into public, instead of them asking her simple things, like what her day plans were going to be, they were going to ask questions similar to what had just been asked a few minutes ago.

Hermione made an effort to calm her son down. Scorpius did not like apparating very much. She didn't really blame him. When he finally settled into quiet whimpering, she placed him into his bassinet so she could make her dinner.

Hermione occasionally sniffed noisily while she cooked, still upset by what she had learned. By the time she was through, Scorpius was asleep again. She ate her meal slowly, not at all hungry, but Hermione knew that she needed to eat so she could keep her energy up for her son.

Before bed, Scorpius was ready to eat. She fell asleep in a chair, with the baby latched on her. Sometime in the night, Scorpius woke up, needing a nappy change. Hermione then brought his bassinet into the bedroom, setting it next to her bed.

"Night, my sweet boy," she whispered to him and kissed his cheek. Scorpius grunted in his sleep, but did not wake when she put him into the bassinet.

Crawling into bed, she smiled. Malfoy may still be a prick, but he did give her a son. Someone to call her family. Someone to fill a hole that she had been missing for a while. She fell asleep on her side, facing Scorpius' bassinet, sighing happily.

She ignored the Daily Prophet the next morning. She was not in the mood to read what they thought of her and Malfoy's bond.

While she ate her breakfast, Hermione noticed something; Scorpius was actually being peaceful. The baby seemed content. He had hardly made any fuss as she cared for him after they had gotten up. Seeing Malfoy must had relaxed him. She choked on her tea then, the reality of how forcible the bond could be was setting in. She closed her eyes in disturbance.

How in the ruddy hell was she going to be able to cope with this? Hermione didn't know how often she and Malfoy would have to see each other. Or touch each other.

She stood up suddenly, shuddering. In the abrupt movement, the chair that she had been sitting in was knocked over. It startled both her and Scorpius, she let out a screech. Her son's wide eyes searched the room and he whimpered when he couldn't see her.

Hermione walked up to the bassinet. "Here, I am, Scorpius," she told him, picking him up. He quieted down, tucking his face against her chest for comfort. "Mumma didn't mean to startle you."

Hermione decided then that she would avoid Malfoy as much as possible, but neither of them had any idea how long they could be separated. Hopefully, it could be a while. She was upset with him, and did not think she could face him without sending a hex his way.

She bitterly collected some personal items of hers and Scorpius', readying them for a travel back to the home that everyone knew of. It was time she stopped hiding. Everyone knew of her situation now and Malfoy said he wouldn't press charges on her (although, she couldn't help doubting on how true his words were).

"Mumma's sorry," she murmured to Scorpius, kissing the top of his head. "But, you're not going to like this," she warned him, stepping into the Floo.

She was right, he didn't. She stepped into her home that stood in a wizard community. Scorpius was screaming like he was getting murdered. "You're fine," Hermione told him gently. She glanced around, eyes widening at the scene. Her living room was packed with stuff. Mostly baby equipment. Clothes, toys, gadgets, and accessories. Everything was in blue, green, or black.

"Welcome home, Miss Granger," a squeaky voice greeted. Hermione gasped, jumping back in surprise. A house elf stood by the doorway that lead down the hallway to the bedrooms and bathroom. She wore a pink pillow case, holding a miniature mop, custom fit to her size.

"What's going on?!" Hermione demanded "Who are you? Why are you here?"

"Kippy is here, miss, to work for Miss Granger." The house elf approached Hermione, lifting her arms up. "Kippy is here to help with the Heir, miss. Kippy will put the young master to bed."

"Malfoy sent you here?!" Hermione asked, narrowing her eyes.

Kippy nodded, still poised to take the baby from her.

Hermione stood up straighter, huffing in a sudden anger. "I do not need a house elf to wait on me ! And you can tell that to him! You will not work in my home, Kippy!"

Kippy's ears flattened down to the side of her head, her big round eyes moistened up, and her lips trembled. "Yes, miss." Kippy sniffed.

"And you tell him that if you are punished because I refused your labour, I will be sure to hex him to the moon and back whenever we are forced to be into each others company again!

Kippy sniffed again, wiping away a tear. "Yes, miss, Kippy will." She turned, and walked to the front door.

"Kippy, wait," Hermione stopped her, scanning her eyes across all the brand new baby stuff. "Is this all from Malfoy?"

Kippy nodded. "Yes, miss."

"I don't want it," Hermione told her, waving her wand and packing everything up into a package, shrinking it down into something small for Kippy to take with her. "My son has all that he needs."

Kippy caught the hovering package, nodding sadly. "Kippy will tell Master, miss."

"Thank you, Kippy."

Kippy's ears raised up a little at Hermione's kind words. "Miss Granger is welcome."

Hermione grit her teeth. How dare Malfoy think she hadn't provided Scorpius with his needs! What's the first thing that he did when he had the chance- flaunt his riches like he did every other bloody time! She had already made sure she had gotten everything both she and Scorpius would have to have before Scorpius had been born.

She set Scorpius on a blanket in the living room so he could practice holding his head up. Hermione massaged her temples. Her head was beginning to ache from all her tension. She summoned up things to make herself a cup of tea and poured a headache reducing potion into it. She sat down on the floor next to her son, sighing as the tea soothed her pain.

"You, my son, will not have some house elf slaving on you. Mumma will make sure of that! You'll have two hands capable of working, especially after you learn magic spells." Hermione stroked his back tenderly, making him squeal with happiness. "Girls don't like pampered men. Pampered men are ninnies, and Grangers are not ninnies."

* / *

"Miss Granger has returned, Master," Kippy informed Draco.

Draco emerged from the bush that he had spent the night hiding behind. He groaned, rubbing his sore neck. "Miss Granger rejects the gifts." Kippy held out a small package.

"Our gifts to Scorpius?" Draco was a little stunned. Who would refuse such grand items?

Hermione Granger, that's who!

He sighed. Out of all the witches in the bloody world, he had to get her. He clenched his jaw in frustration and removed the evidence that he had slept under a hideously, filthy lawn bush. Draco stalked up the path to Granger's back door and knocked.

"Give me the package, Kippy, and go back to Father." Draco had warned Father that Granger wouldn't accept the work of a house elf, but Father rarely actually listened to him.

Kippy let out a squeak of fright, knowing Father wouldn't be happy with her early return.

"Oh, wait here then, Kippy!" Draco grumbled. Damn his father! Why did he always have to butt in?!

"Yes, Master, thank you!" Kippy sounded heavily relieved.

Granger finally opened the door. She stood in a nightdress that sadly revealed nothing to him, looking more like something an old woman would wear than a 26 year old 'single' one.

She narrowed her eyes at Draco. "I don't want to talk to you right now!" She snapped, then her eyes fell on Kippy who was standing off to the side behind him. "And I don't support the slavery of house elves! I'd have expected you to know that too!" The door was then slammed, shut right in his face.

Draco muttered curses under his breath. There were many reasons he hated Gryffindors. This was one of them. Jumping right into conclusions before allowing anyone to voice their own opinion, automatically assuming they knew every bloody detail.

He equipped himself with his wand, hiding it up the sleeve of his wrist so Granger wouldn't notice, and knocked on the door again. Hopefully, she'd answer a second time.

"Go away!" He heard her shout.

"I've got something to say, dammit!"

"Then say it!"

"I really don't want to say it to the bloody door!"

Draco heard the door click, and, as soon as the door opened enough to see her full body, he pointed his wand, wordlessly casting a spell. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out.

Granger made to shut the door again, but Draco stepped up against it, keeping it from swinging. They wrestled with it until he won, and entered the home closing the door up behind him.

Granger turned to run, likely to get her wand. Draco froze her in place, and walked around her, glancing around the home. "Nice place you have here," he complimented, and about winced when he finally looked at her dagger throwing, angry eyes.

Maybe this was a bad idea. Granger was sure to hex him when he released her.

"You're probably wondering why I'm here," he drawled, hiding his sudden anxiety. He needed to clear his throat. Nervousness had unnecessarily made him think his throat was shutting. It wasn't. He just needed to remember that. He couldn't show weakness to the Gryffindor. He satisfied the urge with an uneasy swallow. Granger did not seem to notice this.

"Like I said," he continued, "I have something to say. I apologize for having to silence your vocal cords, but, after last night, I just had this mere feeling that you wouldn't let me speak." He picked Granger up from her feet then, lifting her into his arms. Her body tensed, and she would have probably been kicking and screaming if she weren't under his spells. He couldn't help admiring the scent that permeated his nose. He guessed it was from her laundry soap. It smelled like jasmine and vanilla.

He found the living room easily, and set her onto the sofa. Her eyes fell down to Scorpius, a look of terror had set on her face.

Draco shook his head in mild disbelief. "I'm not here for him, although, he could be considered a bonus." He magically stuck Granger to the sofa so she couldn't move from it, and removed the spell he had cast earlier so she could move her limbs and neck. He kept the silencer spell activated though. Draco had already learned that she wasn't going to allow him to speak when she was spitting mad.

He then picked up his son who let out a gleeful screech at the touch of him. "How's my little scorpion?" He murmured to the baby, and sat down on the floor where the baby had been laying at. Scorpius took no time to cling onto his finger. Draco smiled at him. He really was adorable.

Granger stomped her feet then to grab his attention.

"Right, sorry." Draco looked at Granger, and stopped himself from smirking.

Her glare had softened some, perhaps because of the sight of him with Scorpius. Women loved that. They found men bonding with their children sexy (although, it could sometimes work the other way around). She was really sexy now, with her anger simmering down, but her frustration still present. Draco could hint a bit of curiosity in the look she was giving him.

"You didn't allow me to explain last night. Like a true Gryffindor you went straight to the offensive. If you had asked me about the topic, I would have told you that I had not spoken to anyone about the bond who had not known about it already. I would have been telling the truth too. The bond not only affects you, Granger, but it also affects me too. And my family. It may not seem like it to you, but I assure you, this is no freaking game of Quidditch for any of us involved."

Her shoulders slumped, and now she looked sort of pathetic. Guilty and relieved. She opened her mouth to talk, tapping a finger to her lips.

"Will you talk without screaming at me?" He asked. "I'd prefer you use your words and not your emotions to speak with me. It's much more progressive that way."

Granger nodded, and Draco removed the spell. "I'm sorry, Malfoy," she mumbled.

"In all fairness, you have a right to assume such things," he told her, playing with Scorpius' bare foot. Scorpius' toes wiggled. "I was an absolute prick in school. They say that your past tends to come back and haunt you. With me, it's more often than not, for more reasons than one."

"I know you've changed. It's just..." she sighed helplessly. "Hard to grasp, I guess. I've only known you as the ferr-" Granger clamped her mouth shut.

Draco nodded. "I've already apologized for my wrongful actions, but I want to personally say it to you, Granger. You didn't deserve what I did to you- not that anyone really did. Most of what I said toward you was jealousy though. You were some geeky, obnoxious, little muggleborn, that, for some reason, the most famous boy alive befriended. I simply couldn't wrap my mind around it." He didn't tell her that his Father had also ridiculed him for coming in second to a 'mudblood' and female one at that. A double hit to the gut. That hadn't helped his anger any.

"What do you think now though?" Granger's small voice entered his mind.

That you are the most talented, sexiest, witch alive, he wanted to say to her. Instead, he shrugged lightly. "You helped save the world, what can I say to that? You're a great witch, Granger, especially for not coming from a set of magical parents. How you managed top grades and fix every one of Potter's problems year after year, I'll never know. I can only hope that our son will have half the focus on his studies as you had had. I know he'll be great, I know he'll be the smartest boy alive. With my ambition and your hard work, I can see him becoming something big. Something grand."

That speech had earned him a smile from her. Granger had never smiled at him before. Well, besides the time when he touched her in her most private of places. He actually felt a bit warm from that simple gesture. He liked knowing that he could make her smile.

"Is that really the truth?" Granger asked him, a bit of hope hung in her voice.

"Granger, you know me, I don't tend to tell people how great they are. That is, unless they are actually great and I want them to know it."

"Thank you, Malfoy," she said. "That means a lot, coming from you."

Draco narrowed his eyes, slightly confused by what she said. "Why should it mean anything coming from me?"

"Well... If we have to make this bond thing work, it'll work better knowing that you didn't hate me completely when this all started."

He quirked up an eyebrow. "I slept with you, didn't I?"

That made her duck her head. She had done it once already, the day before then. Draco hadn't realized she had a shy side. He wondered what her face looked like when she blushed. Perhaps he'd get to see it one day.

He stood up. "It seems Kippy has mistaken what you said to her," he said, taking the package from the pocket of his slacks and setting it onto the floor where he had been sitting at. He enlarged the package, and the gifts he and his parents had bought for Scorpius sprang out across the living room.

"I don't need-"

"Granger, these gifts are for our Heir. You have no choice in this matter. They are not yours to decline."

Granger pursed her lips. "I don't really have the room for it all."

Draco scoffed. "You're really funny sometimes, do you realize this?"

She looked insulted. "I am not!"

Draco sat next to her, and removed the spell from her so she could get up from the sofa if she wanted.

"Yes, you are," he drawled in amusement. "You're a witch, silly! Just shrink the things he won't use at the current time. Simple."

Granger sighed. "Fine," she muttered. "But, I am not keeping a house elf!"

"That was my Father's doing. He's not used to having to think much of how Gryffindors do things. While usually lazy, Gryffindors don't tend to use house elves. Most of them anyway."

"Not all Gryffindors are lazy..."

"No, but most of the cleaning and cooking spells that exist were created by Gryffindors."

"Because the Slytherins didn't need them, since most had slaves?" She shot out at him, expecting her remark to burn some.

Draco chuckled. "Likely so."

"So Slytherins are more lazy, if you think about it. Early on, Gryffindors had house elves too, but instead of using house elves, they created spells to replace them."

Draco busied himself with Scorpius, unwilling to admit that he had found truth in her words.

He heard her laugh. "Checkmate then, Malfoy?"

"Anyway," he made to change the subject, and pulled out something from inside his suit. "This is for you," he said, handing her a clothed pouch.

Granger tilted her head in surprise that he would give her anything. She slowly took it, more curious than accepting. She pulled the string that held the pouch shut and gasped out, "There must be at least 500 Galleons in here!"

"534, to be exact," Draco informed blandly.

"I'm not accepting this!" She set the pouch on his leg.

"Yes, you are," he said bluntly, flicking it off him. The bag landed between them.

"No, I am not. I do not need your money, Malfoy!"

Draco rolled his eyes. "It's my half of caring for Scorpius. Call it a retribution. Besides, we both know you could use it."

Granger gasped, insulted. "I am not some poor, single woman, thank you!" She stood up, crossing her arms over her chest, towering above him. "My parents paid for my Hogwarts tuition in full." Draco raised his eyebrows in shock, and she scoffed when she saw this. "They were dentists, you creep! Healers for teeth!"

"Healers don't get paid much, Granger..."

"No, but, in the muggle world, 'Healers' make bucket loads of income. And since each of my parents were one, we were well off!"

Well, that certainly explained her snobbish attitude in their first year.

"I may not have my parents anymore, but when I turned 17, they gave me a hefty amount of money to start whatever career I wanted. After the war though, I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I invested some muggle money into a company-" she urgently stopped herself, dropping her hands to her side, as if they were made of lead.

"I can just assume you didn't lose your investment?"

Granger smiled, or, rather, she smirked. "My parents were the best dentists in Britain. People actually traveled to them. When I oblivated myself from their lives, they moved to Australia. After the war, I learned that they were struggling to make ends meet. They almost moved back to London to reopen their offices, but I stopped them, knowing how happy they could be if they could complete their dream there. By the next year, they were making five times more than they had in London. I own 5% of their company, and I also have a 2% royalty."

Draco chuckled. He found it amusing that Granger had used her own parents' money to jump start them. "Why didn't you just give it to them?"

"They are proud. They would not accept 'charity'. Even if they knew I was their daughter, they still would not have taken it."

"So, that's where you get your stubbornness."

"Yes, I suppose so." She stepped up closer to him. "Scorpius is hungry," Granger told him.

Draco looked down at the baby, who's mouth was poised wide open. Scorpius then shut his mouth and opened it back up. "Alright, chomper," he said to his son, and handed him off to Granger.

Granger collected a blanket for privacy, and sat in a rocking chair across the way.

"Just the same, Granger, you'll accept my money, because Scorpius is my son, and he's my responsibility too."

Granger looked around the room at the piles of gifts. "Haven't you already?"

Draco laughed. "Granger, he's a Malfoy and he'll be treated like one! There's no point in having all that money if you can't spend it! I can see you that don't really know what that's like though..." Her home was well kept and clean, but for someone as rich as she claimed to be, a two bedroom home with one bathroom, a tiny kitchen, and living room was not suffice enough.

It was not good enough for her, and it was not good enough for Scorpius either.

Draco outstretched his arms across the back of the sofa and rested an ankle on top of his knee. "If you accept being the mother of a Malfoy, Granger, you're definitely going to have to make some changes to your lifestyle."

Chapter Text

AN: People have moved into my house. It's made writing pretty difficult... So, sorry for the late update. I have not forgotten this story or my others, it's just hard to get in the zone when you're spoken to every twenty minutes...

Hope you like this chapter!


"Malfoy, I don't know if I want to move..."

Malfoy looked around. His nose flared a little, but, other than that, his look changed none. "You want to raise Scorpius here?"

"And what is wrong with my house?!" Hermione snapped. "It wasn't all that long ago that you told me that it was nice!"

"Yes, well, it is nice, but my son will need better. I can assume by how rustic the living room is that Scorpius' room is quite as cozy?"

Hermione glared at Malfoy. He was 'charmingly' making fun of her simple house.

"Now don't get your knickers all twisted, Granger. I'm only thinking about Scorpius. He has a status to keep up with, and it is my duty to ensure he has it. He won't be able to have it living here - no offense or anything. This is just too plain for a Malfoy to be raised in."

"I refuse to allow him to grow up as some spoiled, snobby, rich kid, Malfoy. I put my foot down there."

Malfoy looked away, appearing to be in thought. "You mean that you don't think it's possible for a set of rich parents to raise a decent, well behaved child then?" He asked absent-mindedly. "Didn't you say your family was well off? How would you have graded your parents in raising you?"

"I-" His question had stunned her. She wasn't sure how she could answer that. Perhaps, now that he had brought it up to her attention, they had spoiled her. She had had the best opportunities available to her, given the circumstances. She had chosen not to be a snub though, quickly learning that people detested it. Hermione could have grown up very similar to Malfoy.

Only her parents hadn't start off with money like his had. Both had worked for what they now had, but they had still spoiled her, and had given her practically whatever she had wanted. Well... almost everything...

"Checkmate then, Granger?" Malfoy mocked her earlier tease that she had directed at him.

She pressed her lips together, suppressing her annoyance. "I will not buy my son's love."

"That is something we can agree on then. I think I have learned from my Father's mistakes, and, unlike him, I have no desire in becoming a member of the Ministry. I've had enough politics for a lifetime. I'd like to spend life with my son; my family." He looked pointedly at her, causing her eyes to drive from his gaze.

She swallowed hard. It was strange how accepting he was of the situation. He was a wizard who could easily "go with the flow" (or at least had the ability to pretend that it was easy). Was that a Slytherin thing?

"And, so, I accept the challenge," Malfoy spoke up.

"Challenge?" She asked confused. "What challenge?"

He nodded and smiled a bit. It was an odd, but pleasant thing to see him do. Hermione couldn't deny that she'd rather see him do that than scowl or sneer. She could not think of a time before then that he had ever given her a smile.

"I am determined to raise my son into a decent man. Are you willing to do the same?"

Hermione nodded an answer, giving him her own smile.

"Good, then we'll meet at the middle. That's fair. Wouldn't you think, Granger?"

"I suppose..." she agreed uncertainly. The way he was addressing the issue implied that he had already thought everything all through. Was it possible that he had a plan before she did?

"I know of this place that's up for rent, I think it would be perfect for you..."

* / *

Hermione couldn't believe what she was doing! How had she let Malfoy talk her into this?! She took a deep breath to settle her anxiety. She was trying to be fair, that's all. Trying to compromise; to come to mutual agreements with her son's father. She had always been someone who stood up for what was fair.

She just wasn't sure how this could be considered 'fair'.

She circled around the large furnished sitting room. It was the size of her home. A sitting room, just a mere place to have tea and talk in, was as big as her entire home in the magical community! There was a fireplace on each end, and both were decorated identically; two gold sofas, and three maroon chairs surrounding the fireplaces, with an end table between them and matching antique foot rests stationed at each seat.

She shook her head, placing a hand up to it. There's no way Malfoy had gotten the numbers right on this home.

"Malfoy said this was affordable?" Ginny gasped, echoing Hermione's thoughts. Hermione had invited her to tag along, wanting her friend's opinion on it. "He must have been bluffing." Ginny sunk into one of the chairs and closed her eyes. "Merlin, but if wasn't..." She sighed in comfort. "How much did he say this would cost to rent?"

"One hundred every month," Hermione answered, wandering to the archway that led out of the room.

"Are all the rooms decorated like the Gryffindor common room?"

"I am not sure," Hermione said thoughtfully. "He said I'd like the house-" Ginny snorted at this, making Hermione sigh. It was no house, it was a mansion! "He said that it would remind me of my time at Hogwarts. Malfoy didn't say much more than that. So it could be that most of it is decorated in red and gold."

"One hundred Galleons seems awfully little," Ginny said, following Hermione back into the foyer. "Especially when this house would cost about 4,500,000 Galleons to buy."

"4.5 million?" Hermione gaped. "That much?! How do you know for certain?"

Ginny shrugged. "I used to look in the list of homes for sale. We all did it- my brothers and I, I mean. We were poor kids. Poor kids do that sort of thing." Ginny grinned, not even remotely embarrassed with her claim.

In the foyer were two staircases that led up to a second floor. Underneath them was a dark hallway. Hermione made an assumption that it led down to some cellar.

"Let's see what's on the second floor," Hermione suggested, leading the way.

They found several rooms. There was another sitting room, which was smaller, having only one fireplace, but it was decorated the same as the one the floor below. There were eight bedrooms, four of them had their own bathrooms (the master bathroom had a tub the size of one in the Prefects' bathroom at Hogwarts!) and enormous walk in closets. The other four bedrooms were presumed to be guests rooms. They were split off into pairs that were conjoined with lesser extravagant bathrooms (but were still considered luxurious to Hermione and Ginny).

"Holy Merlin, Hermione!" Ginny squealed, eying the soaking tub in one of the bathrooms. "Do you think I can talk Harry into buying one of these?!"

Hermione laughed and rolled her eyes. "I don't think so, but you could try."

When they were through with the second floor, the third one appeared to be more of a place for business. Half of it was taken up by a room with seven long tables and a good thirty swiveling desk chairs. The other half had several private office looking rooms.

They then went back down to the first floor and admired the gigantic kitchen. It had red and gold counters with ancient magical appliances that worked with just a flick of a wand. There was an icebox that had an everlasting cooling charm on it, which immensely fascinated Hermione.

"Someone very talented casted that," she noted.

They explored the lowest floor, in which Hermione had earlier thought was a cellar. She had been wrong. It was really a place for entertainment and hosting more leisure parties. It was mostly one big room, which took up nearly the entire floor plan of the mansion. There was a bar, and gaming tables for games like pool, cards, chess, and tennis. In the far back of the of it, there was a door that lead to a storage room with lots of magical items and supplies. Hermione had guessed that the stuff in there had been long forgotten. There was a knife that looked several hundred years old. There were even old wizard chess sets. And Ginny pointed out a broom, "It's a Levi edition!" Which Hermione quickly learned was one of the first magical brooms ever produced to be sent to market for profit. According to Ginny, Levi brooms were nearly extinct. There were only three (now four) known to be in existence.

"Are you really going to move there?" Ginny asked after they had flooed (Hermione was too worn out to apparate just yet) to Diagon Alley and settled themselves inside a cafe for lunch. They had the day free, as both Harry and Malfoy had offered to watch each of their children, allowing the witches a day away from home.

Hermione shrugged. "I don't know. I told Malfoy that I would check out the house and see about it. It's too much, to be honest. I love the decor though. I just can't picture myself living in something so grand."

"Well, why not?" Ginny asked after a thoughtful sip her butterbeer. "It's magnificent, and if Malfoy is really going to pay half of the rent, it's a bargain to live in."

Hermione groaned. "And what about cleaning? Even with magic, I'll be exhausted if I had to clean that everyday. I've barely had time to clean the little house that I DO have. I've been so tired after caring for Scorpius. One little spell is so tiring for me recently. I know that will change later, when we can get on a better sleep schedule, and when Scorpius doesn't need something every forty five minutes or so, but until then..." She trailed off, just thinking about it make her sleepy.

Ginny nodded in understanding. "I know, I've been through it twice. Harry's very helpful though."

Hermione chewed a bit a bite the salad that she was having for lunch. "Malfoy is too," she admitted, finding it weird to say. She paused in her chewing, narrowing her eyes at Ginny's grin. "What?"

Ginny laughed. "Nothing," she said not so innocently.

"Then, why are you smiling like that."

"It's just hard picturing Malfoy in such a role," Ginny finally said after a moment.

"You should be there and witness it then. Who would have thought he could be so soft."

"Harry told me that he had been a bit edgy the day Scorpius was born. He actually found it amusing to see him in such a way. I mean, besides being actually scared for his life."

"Yeah..." Hermione shoved her food around on her plate, thinking of Malfoy's past and how terrible he looked during their sixth and seventh year. He had gained much of his lost weight back since then, and she noticed he seemed much more cheerful now - not that they had really conversed much in the past seven years anyway, but it was nice to see him smile. He had a good looking smile.

Not that she was admiring it.

Or was she?

God, she wasn't...! Was she?!

Merlin, she hoped not...!

"Are you alright?" Ginny suddenly asked, breaking Hermione from her thoughts on Malfoy's charming smile.

Hermione clenched her jaw and leaned against the back of the booth she sat in. "I don't know." She sighed. "My thoughts are all mixed up..."

"About Malfoy?"

Hermione bit her lip and nodded.

Ginny set her hand on Hermione's own that was resting on the table top, and tapped it comfortingly. "Hermione, the past is the past. You said so yourself, and well," Ginny tilted her head, giving Hermione a small smile. "If Draco Malfoy makes you all gooey-"

"He doesn't!" Hermione hissed. She looked around in embarrassment and ducked her head down low. Oh, God! If the world thought Malfoy made her insides turn into jelly she'd die right there on the spot!

And Malfoy did not make her feel all gooey anyway!

Ginny shrugged, looking as if she didn't believe her. "Alright then, be blind to it, just don't deny it too much. You know the quote, The lady doth protests-"

"Okay, whatever!" Hermione huffed. "Can we change the subject? Please?" She did not want to think much about Malfoy. Not unless it was about caring for Scorpius, and what was best for the baby.

"Sure. I'm pregnant," Ginny announced simply.

"Really?!" Hermione whispered, refraining from squealing. That certainly explained why Ginny had been eating like her brother lately.

"Yup," Ginny took a bite off a piece of bread.

"That's great, Gin!" Hermione exclaimed. "Congratulations!"

"We're hoping for a girl," Ginny continued to eat.

"Naturally, I would too. So, is Harry excited then?"

"Oh, Harry's just ecstatic!" Ginny's eyes lit up, finally showing some excitement. "He loves kids! He wants to have as many as my mum and dad had. I told him that he should have to carry half of them then." Ginny chuckled. "He didn't really like that idea."

"Well, of course not!" Hermione joined her friend in laughter.

"I just hope I don't have six boys before getting a girl," Ginny said. "Bill keeps warning me that it's the beginning of a jinx." Ginny rolled her eyes. "He's such a nut!"

* / *

"Did he get any of Granger's features?" Severus' portrait asked Draco in curiosity. He looked down at the sleeping bundle stationed near enough for Draco to assist the baby if he needed to, but far enough away from his work area. Draco had also cast a few protective spells around his son, so even if he did end up making a mistake, causing the potion to explode or something (which was unlikely), Scorpius was well protected.

Draco grunted in amusement. "He has her thumbs."

"Does he really?"

"They are hypermobile; they can make a 90 degree angle." Draco took a moment to show Severus what he had meant, bending his own thumb backwards. "Mine are straight as a pencil, but not his."

"So Miss Granger's thumbs can shape backwards?" One of Severus' eyebrows lifted up in question. "You know this for certain?"

Draco shrugged. "Don't judge me. I'm bond to her now, so it's my job to know such things about her. Besides, I noticed it on Scorpius the other day, and since he didn't get it from my genetics, it had sparked a bit of interest in me."

Severus said nothing more on the subject, switching his focus to instructing Draco with a new potion recipe. "Remember to roll the shudderleaf before crushing it."

"Yep, I've got it," Draco ensured him. "Thanks though."

Fifteen minutes later, Scorpius woke up crying.

"Perfect timing," Severus complimented, as Draco made the last stir he'd need before he would have to let the potion sit for six hours to ferment.

Draco smiled. "He really is a good boy, aren't you, chomper?" He picked up Scorpius to comfort him and explained the nickname to Severus who had given him a questioning look.

"I ought to excuse myself," Draco told Severus after an unsuccessful attempt in calming the crying baby. "I think he's hungry."

Severus smirked. "Or it could be that his nappy is dirty." He burst into chuckles at Draco's panic stricken face. "Granger hasn't made you change his nappy yet?"

"Thankfully, no." Draco shuddered. He lifted the baby's bottom up to his face and sniffed it carefully. "It doesn't really smell; he could just be wet." He then took Scorpius up to the nursery room that had been specifically made for the baby. It was located in Draco's wing of the Manor, next to his own bedroom, equipped with everything imaginable for caring for a baby.

Draco set Scorpius down onto the changing table. "Alright," he said uneasily, bracing himself for the task. He opened the nappy, hesitantly peering inside. He sighed in relief. Nothing solid and nothing smelly. Good! "You can save all those nasty ones for your Mother." Draco told Scorpius. He cleaned the baby up, doing what he thought was a swell job, but when he went to put a fresh nappy one, Scorpius kicked at him, wailing a storm.

"Now, you stop that," Draco scolded gently. "You can't lounge around all naked." He grimaced at the thought of the mess that Scorpius would make then. "Disgusting," he muttered, wrestling with his son's flailing feet. Draco let out a frustrated huff. How in the world did Granger do this several times a day?! It would drive him mad! Not to mention how exhausting it was trying to fight with a baby and not hurt him at the same time!

Draco lifted Scorpius' rump up into the air to slide the back of the nappy under it. He let out a yelp then, releasing his hold from the baby.

What happened? He asked himself, wiping his irritated eye. Then it occurred him. He screamed in horror. "MOTHER!" It didn't matter to him at the time on how high pitched his voice was. He was traumatized. With his eyes closed, Draco frantically began feeling for the stack of wipes that had been placed near the baby, whimpering all the while. "Merlin!" He squeaked, wiping his entire face down.

"What hap-"

Draco looked up, giving his mother a pathetic look. Father must had heard his distressful scream too, he was standing beside Mother, both of them were analyzing the scene. Father then burst out laughing and swept to Scorpius, picking him up.

"It's not funny!" Draco shrieked out indignantly. "How horribly disgusting!"

"Did you hose your father down?" Father asked Scorpius. The only reply he had gotten was a wail.

Draco gagged then. "I think it went in my mouth a little..." He ran to the sink near by, running water into both his mouth and eyes. "Ugh...! How awful!"

Now mother was giggling, adding to Draco's embarrassment. "I can't believe he would do that!" He exclaimed.

"Oh, Draco," Mother said soothingly, holding out a towel for him. "All little boys do it. You've done it to your own father."

"Did I?" Draco glanced at Father for verification. He received a very short nod. "It's still revolting!" He shivered. "I need a shower!"

"We'll watch the baby," Mother quickly offered.

"Thank you. I think he's hungry. I haven't had the chance to feed him." Draco then called for Toogy to get his stuff ready so he could wash up.

"What's wrong with him?" Draco asked when he had returned a few minutes later. Scorpius was still bawling.

"He is unhappy." Mother pat the baby's back, and said a couple soothing words.

"Well, that much I could tell!" Draco rolled his eyes and took Scorpius into his arms.

"I couldn't get him to eat at all." She frowned worriedly, tapping the baby's leg. "Shh, now, you're getting yourself all upset for nothing!" Scorpius cries only got louder, and Mother retracted her hand, looking a bit hurt.

"Oh, Mother, it's nothing personal," Draco tried reassuring her. "Don't you think that for a minute!"

Father had been standing back this whole time, watching in silence. He appeared to be absorbed in thought. Draco asked him what he was thinking, but all that moved was the wizard's eyebrows- the tiniest of a twitch.

"Father?" Draco raised his eyebrows, prompting him to say something.

Father cleared his throat and looked from Scorpius to Draco and back again. Draco couldn't make out what he was thinking. The look his Father was giving him lacked any emotion; he was doing that on purpose. Damn his father and his skill of masking his emotions!

"Lucius?" Mother asked, sounding concerned.

Father shifted his eyes toward Mother before quickly looking at the floor. "Draco," he spoke very slowly. "Have you and Miss Granger had any physical contact recently...?"

"Sure, I picked her up yesterday morning and set her onto the sofa."

"Into your arms?" Mother asked, slightly surprised.

"Yes, after I binded her from moving, I carried her to the sofa." Draco got a disapproving look from his mother. "Well, she deserved it," he defended his actions. "At first, she was fuming, but Miss Granger cooled down quickly."

Mother smiled, pleased by that. "Then, that is progress. She should have hexed you though."

"Oh, she would have, if I had not prevented her from doing it!"

"Did your skin touch hers, son?" Father interrupted.

"I'm not sure..." Draco answered slowly. He couldn't remember either way. "I would say not, though. She was wearing a tent. The sleeping dress she wore had to have been four sizes too big."

Father then turned abruptly and exited the room, his robes billowing behind him.

"What did I do?" Draco asked his mother, puzzled by Father's response.

Mother shrugged. "I'll go find out."

Draco went to follow her, but Toogy stopped him by appearing with a crack. "Master, Miss Granger has arrived, sir. Miss Granger is in the flooing room."

Oh, good, maybe she knew what was wrong with Scorpius! "Thanks, Toog." Draco secured the baby and apparated down to the flooing room. Granger stood just outside of the fireplace, looking around.

She sighed when she caught sight of Scorpius, hearing his crying. "Did he do that all day?" Granger asked hopelessly.

Draco allowed her to take him. "He slept for most of it actually. Long enough for me to brew a potion, so I am not going to complain. We couldn't get him to eat though." This announcement earned another sigh from Granger.

"Scorpi," she kissed his cheek, tenderly. "Why aren't you eating, you silly boy?!"

"The little prat also whizzed on me," Draco informed her, narrowing his eyes.

Granger gasped. "Did he really?"

Draco nodded grimly. "It was positively disgusting!"

"I learned from Ginny that you have to cover that area very quickly if you want to avoid such an event." She laughed softly.

"He has never done that to you then?"

Granger shook her head. "I've never given him the chance."

"Draco," Father's voice drawled from the doorway. "Are you going to invite Miss Granger for tea?"

Draco eyed his father over. The older man smiled charmingly. He was up to something. Father hadn't really said much of his opinion on Granger and the bond that Draco had with her. But even he had changed since the Dark Lord's fall. More than likely, Draco figured, he didn't care who Granger was anymore; she contributed to breaking off a curse that had made it easy for the Malfoy name to potentially disintegrate. Father may never admit it, but he was probably thankful for Granger's assistance in that- even if she hadn't intentionally done it.

"Um, sure." Draco gestured for Granger to sit down. "Would you join us for tea?"

"I really must feed Scorpius," she insisted.

"Well, it'll be a bit before it's ready... You'll have time to feed him- If he'll even eat."

"Do you have a blanket that I could use? For privacy?"

Draco summoned up one from Scorpius' nursery, at this, he noticed Father slipping from where he had been standing, disappearing from sight. "Will this work?" Draco held out the solid black fabric.

Granger smiled. "It's perfect, thank you." She tucked the fussy Scorpius underneath it, and fumbled with the front of her shirt. Draco assumed Scorpius must have latched on, because the baby went quiet instantly.

"I looked at the..." Granger paused to find the right word she wanted to use before sighing in exasperation. "Oh, really, Malfoy, can you actually see me living in such a place?"

Draco grinned, putting his hands behind his back. "I could," he said honestly. "If you would allow yourself the time to adjust to it."

She scrunched up her face. "It is quite lovely, I'll admit that, and Ginny was in love with the swimming pools that you call bathtubs-" Draco had to chuckle at that statement. "And I can't really argue with the rental cost."

"So try it out for a month and see how it feels," Draco suggested. "If anything, you can call it a vacation."

Granger chewed the inside of her lip. "I am worried about keeping it clean, I'm too tired to do much of anything lately..."

"Don't worry about that, a house elf will be there with you."

She glared at him. "I've already-"

"Just hear me out, Granger, before you get all offensive on me."

Granger adjusted herself in the chair she sat in. Her lips pursed. "Fine, Malfoy," she muttered. "How are you going to convince me to accept the help of a slave?"

"Toogy," Draco called out, summoning up his house elf.

"Master," Toogy smiled, bowing. "You wishes for something?"

"Bring me the package that arrive this morning please."

"Yes, Master, sir!" Toogy said cheerily.

"That was your house elf?" Granger asked when Toogy popped away.

"I have had her since I received my letter to Hogwarts. It's a Malfoy tradition." He looked at her, daring her to forbid Scorpius from his own house elf. When she didn't say anything, Draco smirked."You thought my house elf would quiver in my presence, didn't you?"

"Well, after what happened with Dobby-"

"Not all of us treat our elves unfairly, Granger." Draco said dryly. "Mother and I treat our elves very nicely. Only some of us have yet to realize the pros to respecting 'the help'."

"So, you don't abuse your elf?" She asked cautiously.

"Toogy is a very well behaved elf, and I have never swung at her. We have more of a... friendship than a master/slave relationship."

"But you still own her?"

"Yes, she's bound to me. By blood."

"Blood?" Granger squeaked.

"It was part of the ceremony that was done when she was given to me." Toogy appeared then, along with another elf who was younger looking.

"Hello, Mr. Draco Malfoy, sir," the strange elf greeted.

"Weston, this is Miss Granger," Draco introduced.

"It is nice to meet you, Miss Granger." Weston walked up to Granger and lifted his hand for her to shake.

"Like wise, Weston," Granger politely returned, giving the elf a smile, shaking his hand. To Draco, she asked, "And what are your intentions, Malfoy?"

"Weston is one of the first house elves to be born free," he explained. "He was looking for work and so I hired him to work for you."

Granger's jaw dropped at his announcement, obviously surprised that he would do such a thing. "You... are paying a house elf to work?" She adjusted her shirt back to normal under the blanket and removed the blanket, placing it on her knees. Scorpius was sleeping now. Draco could hear an occasional grunt escape from the sleeping baby's mouth.

Draco sat down, gesturing the elves to do the same. "Granger," he started softly. "I have noticed how exhausted you have been these last couple days. One day with Scorpius had tuckered me out. A baby is tiring work. You need help, and, unfortunately, I can't be there around the clock to assist you right now, and, since you refuse the help from my own elves, I thought this would be the best solution."

Granger laughed lightly in disbelief. "You... did this for me?"

"And for Scorpius." Draco nodded.

She smiled. "Thank you, Malfoy," she said meaningfully. "This is all incredibly nice of you."

He returned the smile." It's my pleasure, Miss Granger."

Father's elf came in with the tea then and served them. Draco's parents entered the room soon after and were also served. The elves left after that.

"How are you feeling, Miss Granger?" Mother asked kindly.

"I'm fine, thank you," Granger answered.

"You two are going to need to touch very soon," Father informed. "Every three days or so, it appears."

"So, we just... touch hands?" Draco asked him.

Father looked away and took a quiet sip of his tea. "I am not entirely sure that is enough," he said.

"And what is enough, Mr. Malfoy?"

Father cleared his throat. "The last time you two were together in such a way, you spent three hours touching each other. Unless you wish to go watch some muggle film, or something of the like, constantly holding hands, you'll have to do something more intimate. Doing so every three days would be extremely time consuming."

Draco made a quick glance to Granger. She was blushing, and she must not had realized it, or perhaps had forgotten to hide her face this time. Her slight pinkish cheeks were a beautiful shade. He admired them but had to force himself to look away. He wouldn't allow himself to look too long.

Granger said nothing. Draco could tell that she was thinking. He was awaiting for her to respond. He hoped she wouldn't be too upset with Father's news. He felt a bit guilty for not minding the situation. In fact, he felt rather excited. It had been a while since he had had any action.

"I... don't know if I'm r-ready for th-that just yet..." she admitted hoarsely.

"That's understandable, Miss Granger," Mother said gently.

"I'm not ready either," Draco quickly added, not wanting to seem like a sex crazed animal to Granger.

Father was nodding, he was avoiding eye contact with anyone. He was definitely uncomfortable with the conversation. "I was thinking more of a..." he paused to take a drink of his tea. "You could try a... kiss," his voice got a bit high at the suggestion.

'A kiss would definitely send me over the edge,' Draco thought, remembering the last time he had kissed her.

"Oh, God!" Granger shrieked. "No, I'm not ready for that either!" She looked at Draco, frowning. "I'm sorry, Malfoy-"

"It's alright," Draco raised a hand to stop her from explaining herself. "Surely there's another way..."

Father stood up and straightened out his robes. "If you find one, do let me know," he said stiffly, and walked to the doorway, stopping at it and turning around. "Enjoy your tea," he said, looking directly at Granger. He left then.

Mother and Draco exchanged confused looks. There was no doubt now; Father was up to something.

As if the two had spoken into each others minds, Mother rushed out after Father, and Draco took his wand out, removing Granger's tea cup from her hand.

* / *

"What have you done now?!" Narcissa hissed, chasing after her husband.

"I have no idea what you are talking about," Lucius answered simply.

"You've done something to her tea!" she accused.

"Oh, that."

"Yes, that! Of course that! Now spill it, Luci! What have you done?!"

Lucius ceased his steps, staring up at the staircase that led to the room he had just left. "I just gave them a little push."

"Push?!" Narcissa shrieked. "I told you to leave them alone!"

"They are too stubborn to do this on their own. Especially her! Haven't you noticed our son today? How pale he's been? Did you see Scorpius? He's the same!"

Narcissa shut her mouth tightly, having nothing to argue with over that. She had noticed. "That still gives you no right to drug her!" She scolded in a whisper.

Lucius turned his back and began walking again. "It does if it concerns my family's health."

Narcissa growled in frustration. She hoped Miss Granger wouldn't get too upset over this. "So, what have you drugged her with?!" She demanded, hurrying after her incorrigible husband.


Chapter Text

AN: Thank you to all those reading! You keep me going *hearts*


Draco sniffed at Granger's tea to see if there was a distinctive scent to it. All the while, he was eying her over, expecting her to suddenly act strange. She appeared fine, other than the confused look she was giving him. Her tea smelled of many herbs. The list of what Father could had used was practically endless, since most potions smelled like a mixture of herbs.

"You think your father drugged me?" She asked slowly, giving it a thought over.

"I'm sure of it," Draco told her. "How do you feel? Weak? Strong? You don't have any sudden feelings for me, do you?"

Granger snorted in derision. "No!"

Draco clenched his jaw, refraining from scowling. She acted like he was the most unattractive man alive! And that he was not! She herself had reacted very well to his touch! Too well. And, by what she had told him that one early morning when Scorpius was conceived, she did find him good looking! Her sober mind must not agree with her deepest of thoughts. That, or she refused to admit that she was actually attracted to him.

More than likely, it was the latter.

"Did it taste odd?" He asked her, reverting the subject back to the tea.

Granger shook her head. "Not really. I only had a couple of sips though. It was very thoughtful of the elf to supply me with an herbal decaffeinated blend."

"Maybe you hadn't had a chance to drink enough for it to take effect," Draco said in thought. "And since Father was trying to drug you, of course he would order his elf to serve a type of tea safe enough for you to drink. It would easily hide the substance, while also ensuring you would actually drink it and not use the excuse that you're breastfeeding and thus unable to drink a normal brew."

"Well, I feel fine," Granger said in reassurance. "Maybe your dad was just trying to be nice to me."

Draco sent her a doubtful look. Not that his father wasn't capable of being nice, but he was a cunning snake, and had been sorted into Slytherin for many reasons. "I know my father, Granger, he is up to something."

Granger focused her attention on Scorpius, who still slept, snuggled up in her arms. Draco thought she was a terrific mother. She spent a lot of her time making sure everything was perfect for their son. But, then again, she had always been a perfectionist.

"Maybe he's right," she said absentmindedly a few moments later.

"Who? My father?" Draco asked, slightly confused. "About what?"

She didn't answer him. Her smile widened as she continued to stare down at their son. Draco crossed his arms, patiently waiting to see if she would actually answer him.

"Merlin, he's adorable, isn't he?" Granger whispered.

Draco bit his tongue and stopped himself from saying that it was because he looked just like his father, who was also adorable. This wasn't the time for that.

"Granger," he spoke firmly. "What was my father right about?"

She glanced at him momentarily before looking away. Obviously, she was thinking of something that she was uncomfortable with saying.

And then he came into realization on what she had meant...

But which exactly was she agreeing with Father on? The kiss? Or was it the other activity...?

Draco studied Granger's facial expression, but all she did was smile dreamily at the baby.

What WAS it that Father had put in her tea?! At first, Draco had thought it had been some potion that would accelerate Granger's sex drive. Unfortunately for Draco, that didn't seem to be the case.

"Malfoy..." Granger was biting her lip now. She was worrying over something.

"What is it?" Draco asked.

"When we were at St. Mungo's, we slept together for three hours, according to your dad; all we did was hold hands."

"Yes, but, as Father has just said, having to do that every three days would be very time consuming."

"Well, he's right. I'm too busy with Scorpius, and, most of the free time that I do have, I spend it sleeping."

Draco nodded in acknowledgment. "That makes perfect sense."

"But, we could do that," she suggested slowly, considering her thoughts. "And then we wouldn't have to do anything extreme that neither of us would want to do."

"Do what?"

She said nothing for a moment. Her lips were slightly parted, poised to talk. Granger then mumbled something that Draco couldn't understand.

"I can't understand you when you do that," he informed her bluntly. "Speak clearly, would you?"

Draco was beginning to notice that she was using Scorpius as a way to divert her attention from him. She took the baby's hand, admiring it, saying nothing to elaborate what she had attempted to say to Draco.

Draco rolled his eyes in annoyance. What in the fuck was wrong with her?! She was acting so silly!

He stepped up toward Granger, taking his son from her.

"Hey!" She exclaimed.

"Shh!" Draco scolded her quietly, cradling Scorpius into his arms. "You don't want to wake him."

"Give him back!" She demanded in a whisper.

"I will," he said gently and kissed his son's cheek. "Just as soon as you tell me what you were suggestion that we should do. I'd like to know what you're thinking."

She looked at the baby, avoiding his face.

"Look at me, Granger," Draco ordered softly. "Don't act like a ninny, we both know that you're not. Now spit it out."

She did as he said, narrowing her eyes in what he read as determination. She took a deep breath. "You're not going to like it," she warned him quietly. "But, I don't really see any other way- given our current thoughts on each other."

"How about you let me be the judge of that?"

* / *

Narcissa smelled the vial that Lucius had handed her. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her husband waiting anxiously for her reaction on what he had done. "You could have done much worse," she finally said disapprovingly, after letting him squirm a bit longer.

"Yes, I could have given her something that would have had her begging for Draco's touch, but what good would that have done? For the time being, they would have had their fix, but both would have been immensely humiliated, and I would have been accused of being the bad guy- not that that is abnormal for me; I do tend to be guilty of it."

"And you just thought of this this afternoon?" Narcissa asked, surprised at how quick he had come up with the idea.

Lucius scoffed. "I don't know why you're so shocked, my love, I've always been extremely brilliant."

Narcissa nodded, accustomed to his arrogance. It was one of the reasons that she was attracted to him. Besides he, she was the only one that knew that The Sorting Hat had tried to place him in Ravenclaw, but Malfoys don't get sorted into none other than Slytherin.

She shook up the potion, slightly admiring her husband for his work, but she did not show this to him. He deserved no reward for his deceitfulness toward their son. "They are going to be upset with you for this, Lucius." She told him disapprovingly. "You need to begin to trust Draco. He's a grown man now. You despised your own father for trying to control your life. I would like to hope that you can learn from your father's mistakes?"

He shifted his eyes away from her stern look. "It is difficult to stand by and do nothing," he said quietly.

"Yes, I know, dear. I'm his mother, I know this better than you can ever imagine, but you can't smother him any longer. By doing that, you'll just drive him away, like your father had done to you," she lay in on the guilt thickly, knowing that Lucius' father had died before the two could make up on a ridiculous squabble that had had them parting their ways.

Her husband said nothing, but she saw him uneasily swallow at the reality of her truth. He had loved his father dearly, even if the man hadn't wanted to accept that Lucius was capable of making his own decisions.

"I trust Draco will do just fine," Narcissa spoke again, when she had allowed her husband to dwell on his past. "He's been successfully persuading Miss Granger into moving into a more proper home; The Gordin Manor. Toogy told me that she was heavily thinking of trying it out."

"The Gordin Manor?" Lucius raised his eyebrows.

Narcissa grinned. "It's close to here. I think that is why he choose that specific building."

Lucius frowned. "What about here at the Manor? I had always pictured Draco-"

Narcissa put a hand up to his cheek, stopping his speech. "I know, Luci," she said tenderly. "But you need to remember that things are changing now, and it is out of our control. It's for the best of the bloodline. You said so yourself."

Lucius rose his hand to take hers and kissed it. He sighed in exhaustion. "Why did this have to be sprung on me?"

Narcissa pecked his lips softly with hers. "Perhaps it is because you are capable of changing too," she said against his lips.

He took her hands, lacing their fingers together, boring his grey eyes into hers. He smiled. "What would I do without you, Narci?" He whispered before laying a kiss onto her neck.

She laughed softly. "You'd be an absolute wreck!"

* / *

Draco was sitting on the sofa with his head in his heads, repeating in his mind what Granger had said to him. He wasn't upset by the suggestion persa, he was more concerned on how he would be able to cope with it.

A faint crack caused him to look up. Toogy was looking around carefully. "It is safe for Mistress Malfoy to enter, sir?"

Draco straightened up, and inhaled deeply. He looked across the room at Granger, who was avoiding his eyes. He sighed. He felt awful for the situation she was in. This was certainly not how he had wanted things to go between them, but there wasn't much else that they could do. Neither of them wanted to go back to St. Mungos, nor put their son in any sort of danger.

"Yes," Draco forced himself to say. "Mother may come in."

A moment after Toogy popped away, Mother apparated in with a vial in her hands. "This is what he put in her tea." She held out it to him.

Draco narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Only just?"

Mother nodded.

Granger was eying the vial with interest. She stood up carefully, to ensure Scorpius remained sleeping. "What is it?" She asked as she stepped up to them. Draco handed it off to her so she could read the label. She burst out laughing."The Racjonalna potion? That's what he drugged me with?! Why, that's not a drug!"

Draco rolled his eyes. "I know Granger." He looked at his mother. "Why would Father even use that on Granger?"

Mother gave Granger a look over before she answered, "Your father thought that Miss Granger was lacking her normal logical thought process, and so he took it into his own hands to give her a little boost."

"I've been all out of sorts," Granger said apologetically. "This whole thing is strange to me, and not exactly something I had ever wanted, nor was it in my playbook," she paused, narrowing her eyes. "Not that anything in my life has ever gone to plan," she muttered.

"I want to apologize for my husband's actions," Mother said to Granger, giving her a look to match the words. "I'd like to hope that he won't try this again, but it seems Lucius doesn't know when to step aside..." She pressed her lips together in annoyance.

"He was only trying to help." Granger didn't appear upset at all.

"That's just the potion talking," Draco pointed out. "We'll see if you're so understanding when it wears off."

"I don't think I drank enough for it to even have taken effect... I'm not upset. He's worried about his son," Granger tightened her hold on Scorpius. "I'd be worried too..."

Draco exchanged glances with his mother.

"Definitely the potion talking," Mother said.

"Oh, most definitely," he agreed, plucking the potion from Granger's hand and giving it back to his mother.

* / *

"Miss Granger-"

"Westen, please call me Hermione."

The house elf wiggled his ears and nodded eagerly. "Yes, ma'am- er, Hermione. There's a man at your floo, he says his name is Ron and he is requesting entrance."

"Oh, yes, let him in!" Hermione tilted her head, finding it strange that Ron hadn't just came in to begin with. She shrugged it off, and went back to her packing.

"Since when do you have a house elf?!" Ron's disgruntled voice came only a few seconds later.

"He's a free elf," Hermione informed him proudly. "Malfoy hired him for me."

"Yes... about Malfoy..."

Hermione briefly looked at Ron to see him staring at Scorpius. She braced herself, taking a short breath. "What is it, Ron?"

Ron directed his eyes to her. He almost looked like he felt sympathetic for her. "Are you really bound to him?" He asked slowly.

Hermione busied herself with folding up a night shirt. She closed her eyes and nodded.

She heard him sigh. "How did that even happen, Hermione?"

"The night you told me that you got Susan pregnant, and you two had decided that it was best to get married, I went to Dimple's Pub-"

"You went to a pub?!" He asked in disbelief. Apparently, Ginny hadn't had filled Ron in on the specifics. Hermione loved that woman. Confidentiality was a strong point for her. Perhaps that was why she and Harry got along so well.

"Yes," Hermione answered, sending him a look of irritation. Sometimes he could really annoy her with his habit of interrupting people when they were trying to talk.

He took note of her face and mumbled a quick "Sorry."

"I got drunk - yes, I know! That's abnormal for me!" She laughed at Ron's gaping mouth.

"Well, that explains how you could have...slept with him..." He shuddered. "Just the thought makes me want to hurl!"

"Anyway," she sighed, returning to her explanation. "I guess I had forgotten to make the precautions and then he happened." She pointed to Scorpius. The baby was watching Hermione with fascinated, wide eyes.

"And it led to the grandest thing in your life," Ron summarized.

She smiled faintly, relieved that he understood how she felt about Scorpius. "Yes, it did."

"So, what are you doing now?" He asked, eyeing the pile of neatly folded clothing on her bed. "It looks like you're packing; are you already tired of the negative publicity that's been brought up by this whole scenario?"

Hermione went to Scorpius and picked him up (child seat and all) to carry him into the nursery. She needed to pack for him too.

"Naturally Malfoy doesn't think this house is suited for Scorpius," she told Ron as he followed her into the room.

"Nothing is really good enough in his eyes," he grumbled.

"He's found an exquisite place. It's a great deal, and he's offered to pay for half of the rent, because of Scorpius and all."

"Yeah, Ginny mentioned something about that; I'm surprised you're interested in something so great, but if Malfoy is going to front half the cost, I wouldn't argue either. Is that why you're packing?" Ron began helping her gather up baby supplies. "You're moving already?"

"This is just for overnight. I'll come back here tomorrow."

"In that case..." Ron reached in the nappy cabinet and pulled out a stack of freshly clean nappies. "Make sure you get extra. You'll need it."

She slightly laughed. "That might be one thing you know about more than I do."

"You mean besides Quidditch, trading cards, and pretty much anything that's fun?" He teased, smiling.

"Yes, besides all that!" She giggled, rolling her eyes.

"You're not going to marry him, are you?" Ron suddenly asked seriously. "I just can't really picture you with him, but, well..." he trailed off, muttering a curse under his breath. "A bond is very powerful, Hermione..." There was that sympathetic look again. He ran a hand across his face. "Shit, you don't deserve this!"

"Ron," Hermione started softly. "It'll be alright. Malfoy's been acting real decent. We'll get through this."

"So, it's not a love bond then?"

Hermione heaved out a breath. "It's a union one..."

Ron's eyes widened, and his face pale. "Bloody hell, Mione!" He gasped. "That's worse!"

Hermione nodded. "I know."

"Wait," he said slowly in thought. "Is that why you were at St Mungo's?"

"That was exactly why. Scorpius is also part of it..."

"Which explains why he had been crying so much," Ron said, piecing everything together. "So you found out what you had to do to keep the bond satisfied. What is it?"

Hermione looked away, not wanting to answer that straightforwardly. "Um... I would had thought that Ginny would have told you..."

"I've not been able to spend as much time with my family as I'd like. I've been busy. I have only spoken with her for about two minutes in the last few days."

"We have to touch."

"You and Malfoy?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Merlin, that's rotten, Mione." Ron approached her from behind and placed a hand onto her shoulder, squeezing it. "Unity bonds are horrible enough without a Malfoy involved, but if the tabloids are even ten percent accurate, he seems to be handling fatherhood alright."

Hermione turned around to face her friend. "He's a really good dad, Ron. Too be fair, he's been handling this whole thing better than I have."

Ron's lips spread out into a grin. "Why shouldn't he be?! He's bound to you. And you have every right to be reluctant with the situation. If I had been bounded with someone like Pansy Parkinson, I'd have pitched a fit!"

"That's just it though, Ronald, eventually, you'd have to be sensible about it, because the bond will attack you if you don't do what it wants you to do."

"I know, Mione. It's just awful that this had to have had happened to you. You, of all people, deserve happiness."

"Don't worry about me, Ron. Scorpius has brought me enough joy to last me a lifetime."

He nodded. "I know the feeling. If you need anything, I'm just a floo away, okay?"

"Yes, thank you."

Ron laughed and shook his head. "I still can't believe you have a house elf!"

After Ron had left, Hermione gathered all hers and Scorpius' things for their overnight trip and asked Westen to deliver it to the big "house" that she would stay the night in.

Scorpius, as always, began screaming after she had floo them over. She quieted him down with a nursery song that her mother had sang to her when she was a young girl.

I'm happy all the time
I'm happy all the time
I'm happy all the time

I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.
Since Mumma's here singin', and always smilin'
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time

I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.
Since Papa's here grinnin', and always jokin'
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time

Papa brings me joy, each and every day
Mumma gives me love, it never goes away
I'll always have them, because I'm a gem
Together we'll be, forever happy

I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.
I'm inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time.

I'm happy all the time
I'm happy all the time
I'm happy all the time

"Is there not a thing you can't do?" Malfoy's voice made her jump a mile, having not expected him there already. He stood, leaning up against the doorway of the flooing room, holding a tea cup. He took a sip of his drink, looking at the now calm baby.

Scorpius' attention went to his dad, and he made small grunts at the sight of him.

"Are you complimenting my singing?" Hermione asked, meeting Malfoy up in the middle of the room so he could take Scorpius.

Malfoy set his tea cup on a near by table to free his hands. He shrugged. "All this time I had thought I had something on you."

"You sing?" Hermione was shocked by this news.

Malfoy grimaced. "Not if I can help it. They say I'm good, but I hate to do it. Mother has made me do it every Christmas since I was four."

Hermione found herself curious, wondering how he would sound like, and if he really was good or not. She must have shown this interest on her face because Malfoy shook his head vigorously. "Don't even think about it! Only my mother can get me to do it!"

She laughed. "It's hard to imagine, that's all."

"And that is the very reason why I don't like doing it. Mother was immensely disappointed I did not sign up for the Frog Choir in school."

"I have always loved choirs, and, even though I am not entirely shy, I couldn't get on stage and be the centre of attention when I was little."

"Yet, you had no problem when it came to school work..." Malfoy rolled his eyes. "I had Toogy start on dinner. Weston joined her just a bit ago." He changed the subject.

"What's she making?"

"Burgers and chips. I wasn't entirely sure what you were up for. I figured you can't go wrong with them."

Hermione nodded approvingly. "That sounds good."

"It's probably nearly done." Malfoy adjusted Scorpius snug into the crook of his right arm and picked his cup of tea back up. "There's tea already made if you'd like some. I brought over a mint raspberry one that I think you'll like."

"Thank you, that sounds quite lovely, actually." She followed him to the extravagant kitchen, where the elves were working cheerily.

"Miss Granger would like a cup of tea, Weston," Malfoy informed, pulling a chair from the table that sat off at the side of the room, and sitting in it.

"Oh, I can get it myself," Hermione said gently. "He's already busy."

"No, no!" Weston snapped his fingers, transporting the tea kettle to the table. A tea cup, sugar, milk, and utensils immediately followed. "Hermione needs to sit and rest now," the elf told her, taking her hand and escorting her to the seat across the table from Malfoy.

Hermione smiled at the sweet gesture. "Thank you, Weston."

"How do you normally eat, now that you have Scorpius?" Malfoy asked when the elf returned to his cooking.

Hermione readied her tea for drinking, adding milk to it fifty fifty, for the extra calcium. She sipped it, needing no sugar. "I put him in his infant seat or bassinet near me."

"You don't hold him?"

Hermione shook her head. "But I talk to him, if he's not sleeping. I always feed him before I eat myself. He just ate before we left though. In fact, he should be sleeping now, but the flooing had disturbed him." She sighed, rubbing her forehead. "I should have instead fed him after I flooed."

"He'll sleep as soon as he's ready, won't you, Chomper?" Malfoy held out his finger to the boy. Scorpius took no time at all to latch onto it with his fist. Malfoy leaned down to kiss the tiny hand.

"He really has a thing for you," Hermione noted as Weston set down their plates of prepared food. "Thank you," she said to the happy elf before she began eating."

"That's a genetic thing, I think," Malfoy told her. "I was the same way with my own father. That's what my parents said anyway. Malfoys have always been close with their fathers. Sometimes, I can tell what mine is thinking. Not always though, as he's incredible at hiding his thoughts. And, I can't help to feel what my son is thinking or feeling." Malfoy was having difficulties eating with just one hand, trying to cut his burger with his fork. "It probably sounds silly to you-"

"It doesn't," Hermione assured him. In truth, she had found it cute. And, if he was really able to sense what Scorpius was thinking, she couldn't help but to envy him.

He was suddenly grinning. Perhaps it was more of a smirk, as his eyes seemed to glitter too. Hermione raised her eyebrows. "What?"

"I just realized..." he drawled, purposely trailing off before taking a drink of his glass of water. "That this is sort of like a date; our first one."

Hermione felt her cheeks heat up. She tipped her head down, knowing full well that they were reddening. She didn't wish for Malfoy to see that he had made her blush. She cleared her throat. "It's not really a date," she said, keeping her eyes at the plate of her food. "There's no candles or wine."

"I don't think you have to have those for it to be a date-"

"Oh, yes, you do," Hermione insisted. Otherwise this could be considered a date. And that was not what she wanted to think about. She didn't need anything of the sort planted into her head.

Especially since they were here for another reason. One that involved them to be in physical contact of each other. And that was bad enough...

Malfoy took over the baby duties after they were finished eating, allowing Hermione time to shower. When she came out of the master bathroom, Malfoy was standing over their sleeping son.

"Are you going to shower also?" Hermione whispered after Malfoy had wordlessly warned to her to be quiet and not disturb Scorpius.

"I did this morning," he informed.

Hermione nodded and took a deep breath, knowing what was going to have to happen next. She glanced down at her tank top, feeling over exposed to Malfoy, but everything was 'in' where it should be. She normally didn't dress this exposed, even to bed, but this was what they had agreed on.

"I take it that you're ready to go to sleep?" His voice broke her anxious thoughts of what was soon to occur.

She heaved a sigh. "I'm tired and I know that there's no way around this-"

"But you're still disturbed by the thought." He frowned.

She had made him feel bad. That's not what she had intended to. Hermione scratched at a non existing itch.

"Are you going to wear that to bed also?" He pointed to the cloth arm cuff that Hermione wore around her forearm.

She absentmindedly touched the golden coloured material. "Yes," she said firmly, narrowing her eyebrows at the look he was giving her.

"Okay..." he said slowly, not willing to argue with her. He took out his wand and gave it a flick. His fancy black suit transfigured into a pair of silky black boxers and a matching cotton tank top. Hermione's mind began to wander, flashing back to the intimate moments that she had had with him.

She had to look away. Quickly. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly through her mouth. Her pulse was starting to speed up. Hermione closed her eyes, embarrassed that she was finding herself feeling a bit excited with anticipation.

'It's only the stupid bond!' Her sensible self scolded her other half.

"Ladies first, Granger," Malfoy was looking at her seriously, with his arms crossed over his chest. "Show me the Gryffindor side of you," and even though he sounded like he was teasing her, he did not smile.

Clearly, he did not want to be the first one to get into the bed.


AN: If you're confused: The potion Lucius put in Hermione's tea was an attempt to make her think more reasonably, over looking her feelings for Draco. Since she only consumed so little, she was able to still feel uncomfortable around him, but it allowed her to think sensibly.

The song Hermione sang was actually adapted from a Christian school song that I really like. I changed the lyrics around a little, to fit the story better (and not turn this into some religious thing).

Chapter Text

"Ready?"

Hermione had settled herself into the bed and covered herself with more layers of blankets than necessary. She was avoiding from looking at him,  her eyes fixed up at the ceiling. She inhaled deeply and nodded, letting the air seep out her lungs slowly. The side of the bed sank down next to her as he slipped in. In the silence between the two, she noted that his breathing was slow and even. Not a reaction from someone who was nervous.

Well, of course he wasn't! How many women had he bed in his adulthood so far? Not to mention the possibility of a large number in his adolescent years. This wasn't abnormal for him at all.

Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione watched Malfoy positioned himself onto his back, tucking a hand behind his head. He was completely composed while she was as rigid as a piece of wood.

"Would you relax?" He finally broke their tense quietness.

"I've..." She closed her eyes and swallowed hard. "I've never shared a bed with someone before."

Malfoy shifted his weight onto his side, propping himself up on his elbow. She glanced at him to see that he studying her curiously. Hermione's eyes returned to the gold coloured ceiling.

"Not even with the Weasel-" he cut himself off short, realizing that he had used his insult for her friend/ex-lover.

"No, not even with Ron," Hermione answered, choosing to ignore his slip up.

"But you've had sex with him..." Malfoy inquired. "Are you telling me that you have never slept in the same bed as your sex partner?"

"No! I haven't!" She huffed indignantly. "Not all of us are as comfortable with the opposite sex as you are, so, can you shut up about it, please?!" She rolled onto her stomach, facing her head to the wall, away from him.

"Oh, I see," he drawled banteringly, "Now I know why you're so close to his sister..." It took Hermione a second to realize what he had met by that. She turned her head with a snap to glare at him. He chuckled lightly. "I was only joking with you, Granger! You have got to loosen up some! But, you know... I wouldn't ever mind a threesome-"

"Go to sleep," she growled, not in the mood for his teasing. Friendly or not.

Malfoy took the hint, mumbling a few things under his breath before readjusting himself back into his previous position. "You've been through worse, you know. And it's not like you're bound to Goyle or Flint. I'd fully understand your reluctance then."

"Oh my God!" Hermione shrieked, shuddering at the thought of one of those creeps in the place of Malfoy. "Now I'll never get to sleep!"

This made Malfoy burst out into actual laughter. "You really are too easy!" He exclaimed.

Herrmione closed her eyes, determined to get some sleep before Scorpius would wake her up for an early morning feeding. "Keep that up and you'll wake the baby, then you'll know what it's like to stay up all night with him fussing."

"You speak wise words," he said in a wary whisper after he had contemplated her threat.

Hermione felt his hand hesitantly touch hers before he took it entirely with his own. With difficulty, she willed herself from pulling away, reminding herself that this was what they had agreed on; sleep next to each other, all the while, holding hands.

A warm and fuzzy sensation ran through her body, starting at the tips of her toes and fingers and finishing in the pit of her stomach. "Did you feel that?" She asked Malfoy.

"Feel what?" His voice was thick with sleepiness.

"That ting-" Hermione clamped her mouth shut. Maybe he shouldn't know that she might have just felt a bit of pleasure when he had touched her. He had already teased her enough this evening. "Never mind," she said through a yawn and drifted into a sudden sleep.

Sometime later, Hermione woke up with a start after dreaming that she had been swimming. She touched her shirt and groaned. The front of it was soaking wet with milk. Her son was faintly whimpering just feet away from her in his bassinet.

"I'm coming!" She whispered hectically to Scorpius, scrambling out of bed to reach him before he managed to get impatient with her and start any actual crying. "There we go," she said softly as she lifted him into her arms. She kissed his forehead, thankful that he hadn't gotten too upset, but his whimpers did get louder in his anticipation for his meal.

"Oh, don't start that now," Hermione told the baby, cradling him to her and stealing a glance toward Malfoy. He looked like a dark shadow because he was buried under his pitch black blanket (he had brought it with him, having had claimed that he only used his own bedding from home). All that she saw of him was his head, his blond hair stood out in the dim room. "Daddy wouldn't want to know that his heir is already acting like a lion." Hermione said as she took Scorpius into the next room to feed him. "Strictly unheard of for a Malfoy to be a Gryffindor!" She said in mockery. She did smile at the thought though.

She rocked both her and her son to sleep, before waking up once again with a crick in her neck. "Time to go back to bed," she told the sleeping boy, rubbing at the ache in her neck.

When Hermione returned to the Master bedroom, she heard a faint moan from the bed and saw that Malfoy's legs were shaking back and forth in a frenzy. "No!" He moaned hoarsely. "I didn't mean-!"

Hermione put the baby back in his bassinet and cautiously inched her way to the bed, frowning at the man. She absentmindedly touched the cuff wrapped around her arm, deep in thought.

"Stop!" Malfoy cried out in desperation. "Please...!"

"Malfoy," Hermione whispered. "Wake up! You're having a nightmare!" He was thrashing now, sobbing loudly. "Malfoy!" Hermione hurriedly climbed into bed and shook at him. "Wake up!" She raised her voice.

His head turned, his face facing hers, but she could see that he was still sleeping. Tears slipped from the corners of his eyes and slid down his cheeks, wetting the pillow beneath him. "I'm sor-ry...!" He sputtered out.

Hermione found his hand, squeezing it gently, wishing for whatever was tormenting him to go away. "Come on, Malfoy," she said coaxingly. "Wake up..."

Malfoy suddenly went limp and his breathing slowed. His legs no longer shook in terror. A moment later, he made a deep sigh, one that Hermione took as contentious. His nightmare was gone, and she hoped it was replaced with something much more pleasant than whatever he had just dreamed of.

Without unlinking their hands, she covered herself up with her own blanket and lay down close next to him, studying his now blank face. "You're alright," she said in reassurance. She swallowed down the threat of an oncoming sob. "Nothing can hurt us anymore..."

The bed was empty next to Hermione when she had woken up a final time that morning. Malfoy's blanket and pillow were no longer there either.  Sunlight peeked through the sheer crimson lace curtains. She could faintly hear a murmur of voices from below. She guessed that they were coming from the kitchen. A quick glance at the empty bassinet and Hermione assumed Malfoy had taken over the parenting role once again.

She tossed on a bathrobe and ventured down to the kitchen, meeting the lovely smell of bacon and eggs.

"I took the liberty in having Toogy make us some omelets," Malfoy said as soon as she stepped foot inside the room. He had Scorpius tucked into an arm, and had already mastered at eating with one hand. "Weston's off scrubbing the master bathroom; Scorpius had a bit of an accident when I bathed him."

"You dressed him in black." She wrinkled her nose at Malfoy's choice in clothing colour for their son.

"He's my own little Mini Me!" Malfoy said with a pleased grin.

"Mini Me? Are you saying-"

"Muggles have some interesting entertainment devices," Malfoy complimented. "Even Father thinks so!" He laughed. "He has one of them DVD players, although, he finds the American Western movies much more entertaining than my own selection of adult comedies."

Hermione gaped at him in disbelief. "I'd never would have thought that you, of all people, would give muggle television a try."

"It was Goyle's doing. He married that..." Malfoy trailed off in thought, not finishing the sentence he had started. Hermione figured he probably wouldn't. It had surprised her and all her friends when they had learned that Gregory Goyle had met a muggle woman and married her. Many people had really changed since the war.

She sat down at the tiny table and Toogy instantly set a plate of breakfast down in front of her. "Thank you. It was very nice of you to think of me," she said to both Malfoy and Toogy.

"Toogy is very happy to serve the heir's mother!" Toogy said as she bowed low.

"Toogy, Miss Granger does not want to be bowed at," Malfoy dryly informed his elf.

"It is bad habit, sir," the elf said apologetically before returning to her work.

"Did you have a good sleep?" Hermione asked Malfoy, taking a bite off her strip of bacon.

He stirred in his seat ever so slightly. Unfortunate for him, it was not quick enough for Hermione to not notice. "Yes, I slept quite decently for most of the night."

A truthful answer, Hermione noted. "Me too. Do you think it was enough to satisfy the bond?"

He shrugged. "I guess we'll see in a few days."

Hermione took that moment to look down at her breakfast. She shrieked out in horror and pushed her plate away.

"What's wrong?!" Malfoy demanded in alarm.

"It has mushrooms in it..."

"Yes, so?"

"I'm...allergic..." Hermione announced quietly. "Sorry... I just... I mean, they will literally kill me..."

"No, it's okay, Granger... I didn't know, I'm sorry." He then sighed. "We're going to have to do something about this..."

"About the breakfast?" She asked in confusion. "I'm sure one of the elves will eat-"

"No, I mean..." He looked at her with all seriousness in his eyes. "We don't really know much about each other..."

"Oh..." She looked away, wringing her hands under the table. "Yes, you're right."

"How about I come over a little earlier next time. We can go to my favourite place and have dinner. My parents will watch Scorpius for us."

Hermione eyed Malfoy carefully. "Are you asking me on an official date?" She asked very slowly.

He took his time thinking before he simply nodded his answer.

"Alright..." Hermione agreed.

"But just as friends!" He added quickly.

Hermione smiled. Never in her life would she had thought Malfoy would have spoke about her and the word 'friend' in the same conversation.

Malfoy scoffed. "Don't expect me to kiss you goodnight or anything!"

Hermione's smile faded. She shrugged and took a sip of her tea. "Well, if that's going to be the terms, then I would be delighted."

**

"You're going to wear that?!"

Hermione found Ginny's reflection in the body sized mirror that she was standing in front of. Her friend sat on the bed, giving her dress a look of scrutiny.

"What's wrong with it?" Hermione asked, adjusting the shoulder strap of the red dress she was wearing.

"It's too casual," Ginny said and went to Hermione's closet. "Knowing Draco Malfoy, you're going somewhere off the charts, you'll need a dress fit for a spectacular place..."

"I just had a baby, Ginny! I am not going to look spectacular in anything!"

"Nonsense!" Ginny searched through the closet, scraping hangers against the rod that they hung on. She gasped in awe. "This!" Ginny squealed, extracting a black batwinged sleeved dress. "These and your red hooped earrings will probably make his eyes bulge! Maybe even other body parts, if you know what I mean." Ginny winked and made a popping sound with her mouth.

Hermione rolled her eyes as she shimmied out of the first dress to change into the one that Ginny was holding out for her. "I am not interested in impressing Malfoy. We're just going on an outing to um... talk and stuff."

Ginny nodded. "And stuff." She giggled at the glare Hermione sent to her. "I do think it's rather admirable how much he's changed though," she switch the subject quickly.

"You did not just say that!" Hermione shrieked.

"Come on, Mione!" Ginny shot back. "Are you seriously going to keep pretending that you have no feelings for him whatsoever? He's supposedly the 'best sex you've ever had', yet, you have no feelings for him? Who do you think you're fooling here?!"

"Even if I did have feelings for him-" Hermione made Ginny snort in derision at this. "-he's not exactly giddy with the thought of having me around."

"Ugh! Mione!" Ginny tossed her hands helplessly up into the air. "You can't possibly mean that?!"

Hermione straightened the black dress, finding it a bit too extravagant for her taste, which could have been why it was way in the back of her closet.

"I do," she replied after a moment. "I know his reputation. He was a single bachelor before Scorpius was conceived. A new girl was wrapped around his arm every couple of weeks. And now... he's just... well, I don't know. He hasn't exactly made a serious move on me. He's joked about things, but that's pretty much it."

Ginny sighed. "You're hopeless, I'll tell you that!"

"I am not hopeless," Hermione argued.

"Fine, you're just blind when it comes to guys."

"And you think you're the walking encyclopedia when it comes to them."

"Well, I am," Ginny grinned. "I did grow up withsix very different brothers, after all!"

"And none of them are Slytherins," Hermione pointed out firmly. "Who are, in case you have not noticed, very hard to read."

"Exactly, Hermione," Ginny smirked. "That's exactly what I have been saying this whole time!"

Malfoy arrived promptly at 8:00pm the following evening. He wore a typical black suit with a light grey shirt underneath. He also wore a tie which stood out against the darker colours. Hermione raise her eyebrows when she first seen it. He adjusted it, giving her a bit of a smile. "I thought I'd be a bit different tonight."

"Different it certainly is." She had to bite her lip to keep herself from giggling. She wasn't sure if he had purposely chosen Gryffindor red, or if it had been purely accidental. None the less, it was odd seeing him with a red material and not the Slytherin green. But now that she thought about it, Hermione could not remember when he had stopped wearing the Slytherin green, having had adopted his Father's sense in attire years ago. It must had been during the war.

"My Father gave me that same look when he saw this tie," Malfoy grunted. "Perhaps it was a bad idea. I'll just go change it." He turned to go back into the Floo.

"No, wait." Hermione stepped closer to him. "It's fine," she tried ensuring him. "It's just a change to see you in something other than colours in the same section as black on the colour pallete."

"Funny you say that since that's exactly what you have chosen to wear tonight." His eyes quickly scanned over her dress.

"I had... help." Hermione wasn't about to take credit for this dress, not liking that it revealed more than she was accustomed to.

"I've noticed Potter's wife has excellent fashion sense," Malfoy nodded approvingly. "You may wish to take lessons one day."

She laughed. "No thanks."

Malfoy then looked a his watch, and beckoned her to join him at his side. "We have an hour to get Fukuda's. I've got reservations there."

"And Scorpius?" She asked looking at the sleeping infant who was snuggled in his muggle child's seat.

"Toogy will bring him to Mother as soon as we leave. He'll be fine."

"Alright," Hermione said and leaned down to give her son a kiss good bye. "Mumma loves you so much," she whispered to the boy. "Don't give your grandparents too rough of a time."

"See you tonight, little chomper," Malfoy said to Scorpius. "Ready?" He asked Hermione and began apparating them away after she had nodded.

The restaurant was surprising small and quiet, but it made up its tiny size with decor, and it was no wonder that it was a favourite of Malfoy's; the twenty booths that random sprawled throughout the dining area were jet black with specks of silver ("That's real silver, Granger," he had whispered to her, and grinned at her astonished look that had followed his statement). The floors were white, and the tables were made of clear glass.

"Interesting..." Hermione thought out loud. She felt oddly bare. Malfoy would be able to see everything that she would do. No wringing of her hands tonight. Not if she didn't want to appear like an anxious chicken, at least.

Malfoy ordered a sample platter from the Japanese menu, Hermione soon discovered that she loved the Yakitori with a side of Onigiri. She practically ate every bit of it.

"Sorry," she mumbled, noticing that Malfoy hadn't gotten even a bite of it.

"Don't be, I never much cared for the Yakitori anyway." He then smartly suggested that they each ask a question in turn so they could learn more about each other. Hermione learned that Malfoy's favourite fruit was the apple, but only the green ones, as they provided just enough tartness for his taste buds. He hardly ate many sweets, preferring more healthy foods than non.

"You won't ever see me eat a turnip though," he scrunched up his face. "Bloody disgusting things!"

"They are good!" Hermione defended the vegetable. "Especially roasted just right and baked with the perfect amount of butter."

"You can have all the turnips that you wish!"

Hermione told Malfoy about the time that she was sent to the hospital over the mushroom incident when she was five. "The doctors were surprised that I had survived. I was blue in the face by the time they had gotten to me."

Malfoy sipped his water. "I don't think anything can kill you. You're one hell of a fighter, Granger."

Hermione gazed down at her plate of food and chewed the inside of her mouth. "I suppose so..."

"How about we have a dance?" He suggested.

"Dance?" Hermione glanced around and began fingering one of her hooped earrings. "I don't know..."

"I know you know how to dance. In our fourth year, Krum made all the other guys awfully envious. Even Zabini slipped out a comment about your WOMANLY FIGURE."

"He did?" This really shocked her.

Malfoy chuckled and stood up, placing his serviette next to his plate. "It was the first and only time that he wished he wasn't Pure." He set his hand out for her to take.

Hermione stared at his awaiting hand. "And what did you say when he had made that comment?"

Mlfoy's fingers twitched upon hearing her question. Nothing was said between them for several moments. The murmur of other diners could be heard, and the overhead Japanese music filled Hermione's ears with a much needed sound.

She didn't know why she had asked that question. It sort of just came out.  "I'm sorry," she told him truthfully, placing her hand into his still poised palm. She couldn't look at his face, afraid she would see hurt. "I didn't-" She was stopped short as Malfoy pulled her up to her feet. They were extremely close to each other. Hermione took a moment to glance at his face, more in curiosity than anything. His eyebrows were knitted together, but not from annoyance, or even hurt.

"At the Yule Ball, when my friends were secretly gawking at you, I had scolded them for it, reminding them of what you were. That you were..." His eyes fell down to her neck in shame, he then closed them and inhaled the word, "Feculent." He reopened his eyes, returning back to the look of concern he had given her before his confession. "You are nothing like the obscenities I had used in my youth to describe you," he said, leading her to a nearby location that was marked off for dancing in. "In fact, you are the exact opposite."

"You've already apologized for the disgraceful acts of your youth," she told him. "I suppose I was just curious to know how you had reacted to your friends' moment of weakness... I wasn't expecting you to apologize once again..." 

"I know," Malfoy said softly. "I was only giving you what you had requested." He set his hand at her left ribcage, very close to her breast. This action of his created an exhilarating sensation that prickled throughout her body. It sent her pulse racing. Visions of his wandering hands came to her immediate mind, along with a memory of her screaming out his name. His first name.

Hermione swallowed uneasily, oblivious to the fact that Malfoy had already begun gracefully leading her around in the foxtrot.

"Are you alright?" His slow question brought her to the present.

"Yes," she said breathlessly.

He frowned, bringing them to a halt. "Are you not enjoying yourself?"

"I guess I'm just a bit dizzy..."

Malfoy looked like he didn't believe her, but he accepted the answer just the same. "Let's call it a night then. You're probably tired."

Overwhelmed with emotions, more like, she thought to herself.

They brought Scorpius back to the large house that Malfoy was still in the process of trying to coerce her into moving in.

She still wasn't used to sharing a bed with Malfoy, even if it was only for three nights a week. But she'd adapt, Hermione knew that.

* / *

Draco quickly gulped down a potion before Granger would come knocking on the bathroom door to use the loo. After three weeks of their bed sharing agreement, they had gotten into a routine now, and usually she came pounding on the door just as he stepped out of the shower. The first time she had done that made him practically jump out of his skin, having not expected it.

The potion sought out his jitters, and calmed him completely just as Granger's frantic knocking started. He took a deep breath before announcing that he was on his way out, tucking his wand in the chest of his shirt.

Even though this wasn't the only bathroom, she insisted on using this one alone. "Why put Weston through the extra work?" Granger had answered when he had asked why it was so important to use this bathroom alone. He had rolled his eyes.

This arrangement had been driving him a bit nutty. He had to take three different potions every morning after he spent the night over in the Manor that Granger still refused to move into. Draco swore that two of the potions were nearly worthless, but Severus insisted on them anyway. "Even if the effect only works about one percent, it is one less percent you have to fight against. The side effects are minimal."

Draco pressed his lips together as Granger flew past him, his shakes instantly returned as soon as her arm brushed against him.

Fuck!

He tossed a hand through his damp hair after she had shut the door, inhaling slow deep breaths. She was driving him nutty. Nothing else. And each day it was getting worse, his hunger growing stronger. He wasn't sure how much longer he could last for. His masturbating wasn't working anymore, and the hard ache in his groin was becoming unbearable. All this time, Draco had been waiting for her to make the first move since he feared he would scare her off if he made the first move. Both Father and Severus had agreed that his decision was a wise one, but when would she finally admit that she was fucking attracted to him?!

"You're supposed to be helping me," Draco scolded his son teasingly. Scorpius stared up with his wide eyes, sucking on the toes of one of his feet. He blinked innocently. "You prat," Draco picked up his son and gently bounced him, earning a tiny squeal before Scorpius began happily humming in baby language. "You're still cute though, so all is forgiven."

A scream from the bathroom made Draco jump a mile. "Granger? Are you alright?" She didn't answer. Draco replaced Scorpius back into his bassinet and called out her name again. He set his hand onto the doorknob. "I'm coming in if you don't answer me," he warned her. He received an answer this time, but it wasn't from her. Someone cackled joyously.

The hairs on Draco's skin stood on end. How in the bloody fuck?!

He unlocked the door quickly with a spell and swung the door open, and  began trembling at the sight before him. Granger was hunched up in the corner whimpering. "Please," she whispered, "Don't hurt my baby...!"

"You're dead...!" Draco whispered to the woman who stood above Granger, her wand poised in attack.

"Filthy mudblood," the woman snarled, paying Draco no attention. "What did you do to make him sleep with you?! You wanted to have his baby didn't you! Tricked him, I'd wager!"

"Aunt Bellatrix..." Draco's lips trembled. He frantically backed away and lost his balance, tumbling to the ground. "No...!" He whispered. "No, it can't be...!"

"I'll kill him!" Aunt Bellatrix screeched, bending down to Granger's level. "No Malfoy will have mudblood flowing through him! My nephew will understand once he creates a new heir!"

"No!" Granger wailed, hauling herself up to her knees, snatching a hold of Aunt Bellatrix's dress. "Please, no!"

"SILENCE!" screamed Aunt Bellatrix and Granger's mouth clamped shut, tears flowed from her face. "How dare you touch me, you filth!" Aunt Bellatrix spat before twisting her lips into an evil grin. She twirled the tip of her wand in a circle, giggling gleefully. Scorpius appeared in her arms then. He started crying louder than Draco had ever heard him cry before.

"Scorpius...!" Draco scrambled to his feet, withdrawing his wand. "Aunt Bellatrix, no!" He roared when Aunt Bellatrix raised her knife above his son. Draco cast a spell to knock the knife out her hand, but the spell went right through her.

Draco paused in confusion. "Aunt B-B-Bellatrix...?" He whispered shakily. She made no notion that she had heard him, and it was at that moment that he began adding the pieces together.

Draco slipped between the two women, and his dead aunt's figure shortened slightly but grew out far and wide.

"You!"

Draco's wand shook in his hand, forgetting to cast the spell to make the young man disappear.

"It's your fault!" The figured accused.

"I didn't mean it...!" Draco said. "You h-have to believe me! You were one of my best fr-friends!"

"Yet, I would have never known it! You treated Gregory and I like fobberworms! And I'd still be alive if you hadn't been so obsessed with Perfect Potter!" Crabbe snarled. "You killed me, Malfoy! It's all your fault!"

"REDDIKULUS!" Crabbe shrunk into little Scorpius who let out a tiny giggle as he wizzed a stream of wee with no care in the world. Then he disappeared altogether. A loud snap of a cabinet door shutting followed his disappearance.

Draco felt arms loop around him, and, for once in his life, he did not care who saw him crying. He let the tears roll out, stuck in a series of sobs. "I did-didn't mean i-it!" He sobbed frantically. "I n-never w-wanted-"

"I know," she whispered, her hold on him got tighter. "I know." Granger's face pressed against his chest. "It's alright...  Let it out, Draco," her soft voice, warm penetrating into his mind. "It's alright..."

Draco set his head onto her shoulder, relaxing a little as her calming voice eased his pain away. He raised his hand to touch the back of her head, running his fingers through her snarly hair. "Don't let go, Mione," he pleaded softly. "I need you."

 


 

AN: Forgive me for making such a short section in Draco's POV in the chapter. I apologize...

Chapter Text

"It isn't your fault," Granger said for the tenth time that day.

"Yes," Draco said firmly. "Yes, it is my fault. If I hadn't been so determined in seeking the attention from people who didn't entirely deserve it, Crabbe would still be here."

"You didn't force Crabbe to set fire to the Room of Requirement."

"No, I just led him down a deadly path, one that he was incapable of handling. I had never bothered to help my friends with their spells either, and I should had." Using his fingers, he unconsciously tapped the top of the table that they were sitting at, deep in thought of his regrets. "Maybe if I had focused more on them, he wouldn't had cast a spell that he was unable to stop. I didn't deserve Crabbe or Goyle as my friends. I didn't deserve any of the friends that I did have. They were loyal to me, and I... was not to them..." Draco leaned back in his chair, staring at nothing in particular. "Goyle doesn't talk with me much anymore. It's no wonder, really. I hadn't really supported his marriage to the muggle woman. I was okay with them being friends, but I wasn't ready to accept interbreeding between them and we." He summoned up a firewhiskey with his wand and took a few chugs from it. He closed his eyes, letting the liquid numb his body. "He sort of just avoids me now." The bottle then left his hands abruptly. Draco's eyes shot open just in time to see Granger sending the bottle away using a spell.

He pursed his lips out. "I can just conjure another," he told her bluntly, but before he actually could, Granger leaned over from her position next to him and snatched his wand out of his hand.

"Now you can't," she told him simply. "You're not going to drink this away, Draco, it only momentarily makes you think the pain's gone, but it always comes back."

"It's a moment of solitude, at the very least."

"But it's only temporary, and then it all has to come back. It's also a very bad habit to get into. My grandfather was an alcoholic, he spent money on his spirits and not on his children. They had very little food on the table, and because of that, my father grew up malnourished."

Draco scoffed. "Yes, well, I have enough Galleons for several generations of alcoholism! There will always be food on the Malfoy's table, Granger."

She crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him. "Malfoy-"

"It's Draco," he corrected grimly, scowling at his teacup, wishing for it to turn into the liquor that his mouth craved.

She shook her head. "No, I'm not going to call you that."

"You already have," Draco pointed out to her. He forced himself to swallow the tea and grimaced. It was definitely missing the bite that he wanted.

"Yes, but when you're acting like a prat, I'm going to call you one."

He lifted an eyebrow. "So the surname 'Malfoy' is under the same meaning as prat now?"

Granger smiled faintly. "Yes, we call all the prats in the world Malfoy," she said jokingly. "It's the new slang word of the century."

"And what about you?"

"What about me?" She asked, sporting a puzzled look to his serious tone.

"What that cuff covers is only temporary relief." He tossed his head toward her arm, and took another sip of his tea, awaiting for her response. From the moment he had laid eyes on that gold coloured material, he had known exactly what it was for.

Granger's eyes fell to her arm, rubbing the sleeve of the shirt she wore. She didn't answer him.

"None of your friends have ever noticed that you never wear short sleeved clothing?"

"Of course they have," she mumbled. "But it's nothing."

Draco grunted. "Yeah, nothing. And after seeing you at Dimples, I would wager that you know first hand that alcohol just covers the pain for a short while."

Granger stiffened. "Don't concern yourself with me! I'm fine."

"Take off the cuff then," he challenged.

Her lip quivered. "No..." She whispered. "I'm not going to do that."

"How long was it before you decided that it wasn't going to go away?"

"Shut up!" She shrieked and stood up from the table. Draco stood with her, and snatched her arm. "Let go!" She demanded pleadingly with a tug. It dawned on Draco then; this was the same arm that he had caught when she was pregnant and had snapped at him. Back then, she had been angry with him for touching her, but this time, her eyes were glazed over with a sudden terror. She was scared.

"Does it hurt, Hermione?" He asked softly, pulling her shirt sleeve up.

"Stop it!" She slapped at his hand, and pulled herself free. She fumbled with removing her wand from its place up her sleeve and pointed it at him. "Don't touch me, Malfoy!" She took a few steps from him, putting space between them. "Just don't fucking touch me!"

He raised his hands up in the air, letting her know that he had no intentions in coming near her. "Put the wand down, Granger," he said coolly. "I wasn't trying to hurt you. I'm also unarmed," he reminded her. "So, your attack would be quite unjustified."

She dropped her wand, making it clatter to the ground, and wrapped her arms around herself. She backed away until she hit a wall and slid down it, breaking out into tears. "I just want it to go away!" Granger cried.

Granger's strange behavior perplexed Malfoy. He did not know how he should react to the woman that he grew up knowing to be a strong individual, seemingly needing no help, and could had easily been a loner, much like himself, if it wasn't for her friendship with the famous Harry Potter. This little breakdown of hers reminded him of himself. Could Granger be an expert at hiding her emotions and feelings until she just could no longer hold it back? Had she actually been traumatized all these years without anyone elwr realizing it?  And, if so, how had she been able to hide it all this time? The reporters were able to dig down pretty deep, never taking into consideration of the people they wrote about. They had been all over Potter and Weasley's mental breakdowns that each of them had experienced. During that time, Draco had just thought that Granger had a miraculously strong mind, able to shut out the horrors of the war, unlike many of the survivors (she had survived Aunt Bellatrix's crutio torture session after all). Saint Mungo's mental ward was still quite full of people who had yet recovered from it, and likely never would.

Those that hadn't completely gone mad had been assigned an Analyst; a type of Healer who could help people out of their trauma through sessions of mental therapy. Most of the war victims were given a number of potions to help with the terrifying memories. Some of the luckier ones had their war memories successfully erased by the use of the Obliviate spell. But for most of the population who survived the war, the nightmares never did go away.

There was one absolute temporary cure though, but it had such risky side effects that it was unappealing to drink unless you were just that desperate. And sometimes, Draco was that desperate...

"Hermione," Draco spoke up gently and picked up her fallen wand. He had finally decided to try and comfort her. He had never been one to comfort people, so this was going to be a new thing for him, and it made him feel a bit uncomfortable doing it. But she had helped him when he had broken down earlier that morning. It was only fair to return the favour. Besides, he couldn't stand to see her in this state. It just wasn't the Hermione Granger he knew.

Draco inched slowly to her, trying not to spook the crying woman. He stopped when he was two feet from her. She hadn't noticed that he had approached her. "Mione..." He was starting to really like the sound of her nickname rolling off the tip of his tongue.

Hermione lifted her head, and came into realization on what she had been doing. She quickly wiped her eyes and sniffed the wetness from her nose before taking the wand that Draco held out for her. "Thanks," she said quietly.

Draco noted her embarrassment. He had felt the same way earlier when he had snapped out of his own mental breakdown. "May I sit down?" He asked, pointing to the spot next to her.

She rolled her wand between the fingers of her hands, looking down at it. "Yes," she whispered, nodding.

He carefully stepped next to her and delicately settled himself close to her, their thighs touching. "I didn't want to upset you," Draco told her softly.

She nodded again. "I know."

He extended his hand out. "Can I see your mark?"

Hermione clenched up in defense. "No."

"You said you wanted it to go away."

"I do."

Draco set his hand onto her knee, gently squeezing it. "I think I can help..."

"I've tried everything. There's nothing you can do," Hermione said hopelessly, shaking her head feverishly. "It's there to torment me forever!" She choked on a sob. "Every time I see it, the memory returns! And the pain... It's there every bloody time I relive the memory!" She covered her mouth with a hand. Her eyes shut tightly, pushing several tears out. "I can't find any information on the curse anywhere," she told him after a moment. "I am sure she created it so that her victims would endure the entire event every time that they lay their eyes onto the marking. Which was probably why she didn't have me killed."

"It is very similar to the Dark Mark." Draco then showed her his faded tattoo. "Mine used to cause me excruciating pain too; once the Dark Lord had fallen... That was one of the reasons how the Death Eaters knew he hadn't died the first time."

Hermione looked at it thoughtfully. "But yours is hardly noticeable anymore at a quick glance."

"Courtesy of Severus Snape," Draco informed. "His portrait, that is."

"How?" She asked enviously, taking that moment to run her fingers along the Mark on his forearm in admiration of the dead Potion Master's work. A shiver ran throughout his body from her touch. She retracted her hand quickly. "Sorry! Briefly forgot..." She gave him a shy smile, knowing what happened when they touched skin to skin.

"Don't be," Draco said, taking her hand and placing it back to where it had been. "It's fine." He then went on to answer her question, "With Severus' expert knowledge in Potion inventing, he greatly helped me produce a potion that would dull curse marks and their effects. It takes time to make it fade though, and it may not ever go away completely. It's still in the testing phase, but obviously, it's doing well."

"C-Can that be done for a-all curse marks?" She asked, a bit of hope shining in her eyes. She looked desperate, something Draco had never thought he would see coming from her. "And does that mean the pain will dull also?"

Draco wrapped an arm around her, pulling her to him. "Yes, Mione," he told her, running the back of his fingers along her unmarked arm. "Most of the pain does weaken, but it won't go away altogether; the marks severely damage your nerves."

Hermione sighed in comfort once the rush of the bond circulated through her from his caressing of her arm. She closed her eyes and lay her head on his shoulder. "Good," she murmured in a daze. "Would you make me some as soon as you can? I'll pay you for them."

"Of course I'll make you a batch, and there's no need to pay; anything you want Mione, and it's yours." He buried his face into her hair. He became slightly dizzy from her sweet smell, his hormones kicking in even more. He let out a soundless moan. Merlin, he really needed to make love to her. Badly.

"Are you alright?" Hermione asked, lifting her head up to look at him.

"Yes," Draco answered, his voice a few notches higher than normal. He refrained from squirming; the bulge between his legs throbbed with an intense need.

She eyed him warily. "You look like you're in pain..."

"Perhaps just a little," he admitted and stood up. It was time for another dose of them potions.

Hermione did the same, climbing up to her feet. "What's wrong?" She slipped her hand into his.

"Granger, we don't have to hold hands for another three days," Draco pulled his hand from hers and slightly shook it to send away the tingling. If she touched him for much longer, he'd had some serious issues. Not that he already wasn't experiencing anything serious, but it could very much get worse.

"I just..." Hermione sighed helplessly. "It makes me feel at ease when I... touch you..."

"Like all your worries are suddenly cleansed away?" He asked.

Hermione nodded slowly, a smile crept to her face. "Yeah. Precisely that."

"I know exactly how that feels."

"Do you object to having such feelings?" Her upper lip slipped into her mouth and her teeth nibbled at it in nervousness. Her eyes fell to the ground at her feet.

"No," he answered smoothly, taking back her hand. "In fact..." Draco didn't finish his sentence, afraid to admit his feelings for her. He rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. His throat was trying to shut on him from his sudden feeling of uneasiness.

"Yes?" Hermione's unblinking brown eyes bored into him, waiting for him to finish what he had been about to say.

"Never mind," he mumbled, chickening out.

Hermione closed the gap between them. "Would you mind if I hugged you?"

The question made Draco clear his throat, knowing he wouldn't be able to speak clearly without doing so. Maybe she was finally going to initiate the first move. That would be a bloody relief to him.

"Not at all." Draco wrapped her arms around him, before doing the same with his own arms to her frame. She pressed her face to his chest and Draco felt her inhale deeply, breathing in his scent. He faintly heard her moan under her breath, and her grip around him tightened.

She was about to crack...!

Draco wouldn't have to wait much longer then. His pulse sped up with anticipation. Thank Merlin, it won't much longer!

*/ *

"Sir, we did not find a Boggart anywhere in the building," Weston announced to Draco that evening. "It may have moved on."

"I am curious as to how it even got in here," Hermione wondered. She was redressing Scorpius since he had spit up all over his fancy black suit that Draco had put him in that morning. Now the baby was going to wear some disgustingly cute brown and green outfit with teddy bear patterns on it. Draco wanted to puke, but Scorpius didn't seem to mind, not that Scorpius cared what he was dressed in as long as it wasn't a hat. The boy hated hats. Just like Draco did.

"The place had been sitting empty for years before we started staying it in," Draco informed. "We should just be thankful that it didn't come with a ghost or a even poltergeist."

"And an additional long list of critters that inhabits deserted places," Hermione added. "Grimauld's Place was a nightmare to clean."

"I can imagine." Draco took the baby from her and made a goofy face. Scorpius' mouth opened wide, apparently in awe that Draco could cross his eyes. He stuck his little tongue out, and squeezed his eyes shut. Draco laughed. "Nice try, chomper," he hugged the baby close to him. "It'll be a while before you can master any of my faces."

"We don't want him crossing his eyes anyway!" Hermione scolded. "He'll get his eyes stuck!"

"Oh, pish posh, Hermione! That's all a myth!"

Scorpius sneezed then, sounding much like a small animal, with his tiny nose.

"Awe, he's so cute when he sneezes," Hermione cooed.

"You also think he's cute when he pisses on me," Draco grumbled. Scorpius laughed then and stuck a hand into his mouth to suck on it. Draco gave his son a stern look. "I know you do it on purpose! You don't fool me!" The baby's smile grew wider.

Hermione sighed. "Draco, he's a baby, he doesn't know any better."

"He's never pissed on you. And, when he does it to me, he laughs like it's the time of his life!"

She shrugged.  "He's probably just happy to relieve himself."

Draco snorted. "No, he's a little prat!" He took his son's free hand and kissed it. "But I still love you," he murmured softly to Scorpius. "Even if you are determined to make me smell like baby urine for the rest of my life."

Scorpius kicked up his legs in happiness and squealed in delight. He replied back with a "Mmma!"

"He's kissing me back," Draco told Hermione. "He loves his father," he said with a proud smile.

"Yes, he does," she said, kissing Scorpius' head. "He loves his Mumma too."

"Only he loves me more," Draco teased. "Don't you, Scorpius?" He nuzzled his nose to the baby's.

Scorpius removed his hand from his mouth to touch the bigger nose, his saliva covered fist coated the tip of Draco's nose with wetness. By now, Draco was used to his son's bodily functions, especially the spit, so he no longer cringed at the touch of baby drool.

"Let's play a game, son," Draco suggested, taking out his wand and lighting it up. "Let Father know what colour you like best," he told the baby, sitting down on the sofa. Hermione joined him to watch the activity. Scorpius' eyes followed Draco's twirling wand, but when the light faded from yellow to blue, he's eyes widened in astonishment. He flapped his arms a couple times before they grew tired.

"You like blue, huh?" Draco gently tapped the wand's tip to Scorpius's nose who automatically sensed it as food and opened his mouth up wide. When Draco retracted the wand and put it away, Scorpius began smacking his lips.

"He's hungry now," Hermione announced. "He'll start fussing here shortly."

"Do you want the boob, chomper?"

Scorpius replied back with a whimper, he lifted his head slightly and shook his arms unhappily. The baby then started to wail.

"I think he wants the boob, Mione," Draco set Scorpius into Hermione's lap.

"You're such a genius!" Hermione rolled her eyes, and allowed Scorpius to feed, no longer hiding the act from Draco, who she had gotten used to being around during the task after a month of his constant presence.

"Are those tender?" Draco asked worriedly, noticing how swollen her nipples were.

"Just a bit... But I have a salve that soothes the pain. It's safe for Scorpius too."

Draco nodded and stood up. "Well, I've spent enough time here, I suppose." He stretched, not taking his eyes off his feeding son. He got to see him every day, but it just didn't seem enough having to go home every night. He really enjoyed the times that he stayed at the Manor with Hermione, because he could spend as much time as he wanted with Scorpius. Giving him baths, and holding him, dressing him, playing with him, and even changing his nappies (he still had been fortunate enough avoid the smelly ones).

"See you tomorrow, Scorpius," he said simply. The baby was slowly drifting off into a slumber. Draco turned to leave. He got to the doorway before Hermione called out his name. "Yes?" He asked, turning around to face her.

"I was thinking..." she said slowly, quietly. "I was going to stay another night here, and I was wondering... if you want that is.... if you would stay too?"

"Why?" He asked lazily. Inside, he was hoping it was for a specific reason.

Hermione tilted her head a little. "I just..." she trailed off, biting her lip. She heaved a sigh as if she was about to confess her most dying secrets. Draco balled up his fists, an action to keep him from approaching her and doing very naughty things to her. Hermione slightly groaned.  "I need you with me, Draco," she said in a rush. "I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight if we're apart."

Draco nodded in understanding. He often had difficulties sleeping when he was back at Malfoy Manor in his room that was free of Hermione Granger. He normally had to catch up on his sleep when he came back here to be with Hermione. He slept much better with her next to him, and the nightmares didn't invade his mind as often either.

It was probably the same for Hermione.

"Are you sure?" He reluctantly asked, praying she wouldn't back out.

"Very sure," she confirmed shakily.

He sent her a smile, relief flooding through him. "Then if that's what you want, Mione, of course I'll stay."

**

Hermione set the tray of potions that she had been secretly taking back under the sink in the bathroom before casting the concealing spell on them. She felt this was the last place Draco would find such potions, and she certainly didn't want him knowing that she had to take a potion twice a day to keep her raging hormones under control. They weren't working anymore though, and she knew why. The bond was fighting, simply because they were fighting it. Hermione wasn't sure if Draco knew it or not, but if they continued to fight the ruddy bond, they may not like the consequences.

She hadn't had wanted to approach Draco with her desires, mostly because she hadn't been one hundred percent sure if it was her wants or the bond's wants. Another reason, though, was that she couldn't grasp onto the idea of Draco Malfoy willingly doing anything sexual with her, other than for a 'good time', she didn't want to be known as Draco's mistress or anything, the thought made her cringe.

This morning had changed her sight on him though. She had seen a softer side to him, and later that day, he had even comforted her, giving her the idea that she could possibly end up being more than just a warm body to play with in the heat of the night.

And those visions of him naked just wouldn't go away. They drove her insane every night that she had to see him in his attractive underwear. She was thankful every time for the extra padding she put in her own underwear, else her dampness would leak right though and show him what he did to her. Then he would have had a good laugh.

It will be different now, Hermione told herself, now that she knew that she wasn't the only one whose hormones were driving her nutty. No, she saw his hardness when they were in the kitchen after he had comforted her. She had felt it. And, God, did it send her over the edge. She had escaped to the bathroom shortly after to get a potion. If she hadn't had, she was sure to have started humping his bloody leg.

Hermione groaned at the embarrassing thought. She did not like thinking like a horny animal. She was much more in control than that. But, unless they did something, and did it soon, that control would fly right out the window, and then they would do something they regretted, likely ending up on the floor in a public bathroom, or maybe in the beloved Fukuda's restaurant, in front of people.

She certainly didn't want to provide that sort of entertainment, and so that was why she putt the case of potions away, deciding that it was just better to get their need out of the way before they did something incredibly stupid and humiliating.

After a deep breath, she emerged from the bathroom, and focused her thoughts on the Draco Malfoy that she had been spending time with in the last month. He was not like the bully he had been in school. She understood that perfectly now. And maybe after tonight, she might be able to tell him about her growing lust for him.

Maybe.

Draco was saying good night to Scorpius, speaking to him softly from his position above the bassinet. "Mumma's ready for bed, chomper," he whispered to the boy, once he saw her slip into bed.

Hermione was trying all that she could to not hyperventilate. This was worse than their first night with having to sleep next to each other. "I need to talk to you," she told him. She sat up against the headboard, looking down at her hands, avoiding from looking at the sexy man that was now standing at the side of the bed.

"Those words are never good to hear," he said thoughtfully, and got into the bed next her. The fragrance of his shampoo entered her nose, making her stomach flip in excitement. Hermione wasn't sure if she'd able to speak the next words or not.

"The b-bond is getting stronger," she told him. "At least it is for me."

Draco scooted up closer to her, taking her chin into his hand. She pressed her lips together, trying to fight the urge to just attack him (a friendly attack, though, she only wanted to taste every bit of him). His grey eyes scanned over her face and she couldn't tell what he was thinking with that blank face of his.

Finally, he spoke, "Just stop thinking about it, Hermione," he said huskily. "For once, shut your mind down, and lose control. This is something that you just can't control."

"How?" She asked in desperation. She had never been capable of just letting things happen. And, if she did do that right now, what would the repercussions be in the next morning?

"Listen to your gut, not your mind," Draco supplied. "What does your gut say to do?"

Hermione licked her lips anxiously, knowing exactly what her gut wanted. She saw Draco's own lips twitch. She didn't know what to take that as, but he had told her to do what her gut wanted and so, she that was what she was going to do. She hoped he wouldn't mind too much...

Summoning up her Gryffindor courage, she quickly leaned forward (so as to not back out at the last moment) and closed her eyes, pressing her lips to his. To her complete relief, he welcomed her motion, and instantly parted his lips, accepting the taste of her. Her stomach lit up like a firework, eager for more, and, as their tongues met to deepen the kiss, her desire flared up even stronger. Draco cupped her face into his hands, softly moaning, creating a relishing vibration in her mouth. Hermione mimicked his noise, devouring the decedent taste of him.

Draco broke the kiss off, panting. "You're not just teasing me, are you?" He asked her through his heavy breathing. "You know where this is going to lead to, don't you?"

Hermione tugged at the blanket that separated their bodies from each other, removing it. She then reached for the hem of his shirt and pulled it up. He watched her intently as she fully removed it, and threw it across the room. She gave him a devilish smile. Her nervousness had been replaced with a hot, burning need, and she no longer cared that she would soon be naked once again in his presence.

"That's all the answer I need!" He exclaimed, and begun to do the same to her own shirt. He climbed on top of her and attacked her neck with his mouth, all the while letting his hands tickle down the side of her body, making her gasp out.

Hermione reached between their bodies and slipped a hand into his boxers. He groaned in seduction as she gripped his solid cock. "You're so hard," she whispered.

"No thanks to you," he muttered, thrusting against her hand. "You may want to stop that, I know for certain that the first time is going to be bloody fucking quick!"

"Let me fix it," she pleaded, sitting up, and slightly frowning.

"What are you going to do?" He asked suspiciously, removing himself off her to allow her to move.

Hermione pushed him onto his back, and straddled his stomach. "Hopefully make you scream my name," she said wickedly before leaning down to start another kissing match.

Draco began messaging her breasts and Hermione felt herself growing wet. She needed a release soon. With one last flick of the tongue, she forced their lips to separate and started pecking his shoulder. She then move down to his chest to tease each of his hardened nipples.

"Fuck!" He gasped. "You're torturing me here!" He grabbed the edge of the headboard for leverage. "Mione..." he murmured when she ventured lower, trailing her tongue past his belly button, and pulling down the front of his silky black boxers to release his aching member. "You don't ha-ave- AH!" He shrieked out in delight when she encased his stiff cock into her mouth. "Merlin! Please don't stop doing that!" He begged. "That feels so bloody good!" She enjoyed the taste of him. And Draco had been so hard with need, that she could feel the veins pulsing against her lips and tongue.

In no time, Draco was panting her name. He went still with a long dramatic groan, and Hermione felt his hot release hit the back of her throat. Draco's cock was twitching, and, while it was ready for another go, when Hermione lifted her head after cleaning it, the poor man looked exhausted. He was sprawled back, his hair was an absolute mess, damp with sweat, and his normally pale cheeks were red with arousal. His chest heaved up amd down as he tried catch his breath.

He smiled weakly. "Just give me a minute... That took a lot out of me; been holding it back for a while now."

Hermione lay herself next to him, running her hand lightly against his chest, creating a wave of goosebumps across his body. "I completely understand."

"Okay, I'm ready," he said with one last breath, and grabbed his wand from the nightstand next to them bed. With a quick flick of it, her panties vanished. He replaced his wand, grinning. Draco took her arm and motioned her to straddle him again. She dangled her breasts in his face and he marked them with several hickeys before she positioned him at her dripping opening.

"Slowly," he requested. "I want to make this last as long as possible, it's been so long!"

She closed her eyes, and arched her back as she pushed him deep into her. "Draco!" She whispered. "I forgot just how great you feel inside me!" And it took only three thrusts before her juices soaked his entire shaft. They sped their movement up a little, but neither wanted this to end. It was several minutes before Hermione collapsed on top of him in tiredness, their laboured breathing in sequence to each other.

"Thank you," he said in pure gratitude. "Thank you so much, Mione."

Hermione lifted her head to kiss him one last time before her eyelids grew heavy and they shut. She tucked her arms around his body, in complete blissfulness.

Who would had thought that Draco Malfoy would have the ability to make her happy?

Chapter Text

AN: Blah... It's been a rough week. My dad had to go into the hospital, and I just couldn't think enough to write much of anything. Sorry all. But here it is finally, and I hope you enjoy it! I love all my fans! **virtual hugs to all!**


 

Scorpius woke Hermione up sometime early the following morning, and, even though it was still dark out, she felt completely rested. The act that she and Draco had done the night before must had fixed whatever need she had craved. She sat at the edge of the bed for a few moments, reminiscing it over. The sex had been just as good as when they had first done it. Perhaps even better. Hermione smiled. She was glad to have done it and regretted nothing. The next time would be much easier, and she couldn't help anticipating it, wondering how soon in the future that would be.

She then got up to tend to her babbling son. He was a bit on the cheery side, matching her mood. Scorpius greeted her with a toothless grin. "Muh!" He screeched, kicking his feet up happily.

"Shh," she said quietly. "You'll wake up Daddy." Hermione took him into the adjoining room, noticing his nappy was a little on the heavy side. "Nothing is going to ruin your spirit today, is it, darling?" she cooed at the boy, who continued to speak in his baby talk. "Good boy," she said, picking him up from the changing table and kissing his forehead. "Are you hungry, sweet thing?" she asked, settling him at her chest. Scorpius answered with an anxious grunt and once she was exposed, he easily latched on to feed. "Mumma loves you," Hermione told the baby. Scorpius watched her closely as she hummed a tune to him, something that she had learned that he liked.

After Scorpius had fallen back to sleep, Hermione replaced him back into his bassinet. It was almost six in the morning, so she gathered a set of clothes and went to the bathroom to shower. As she was dressing, something caught her eye in the mirror. Something green. A mark. She leaned forward for a better look and twisted sideways. She ran her fingers over it, feeling the smooth skin of her shoulder.

A knock sounded on the door, She jumped a bit, startled by the noise.

Draco spoke up, the sound of sleep still in his voice. "Hermione?"

Hermione went to the door to let him in. Draco's hair was ruffled and his eyes were still puffy from sleep. He was wearing his usual bed clothes, having had put them on after he had gotten out of bed, since Hermione knew he had still been in the nude when she had gotten up earlier.

He smiled as his eyes went wandering down her body. Her naked body. "Is this another invitation?" He purred, stepping forward.

Hermione backed away quickly before he could touch her. "I'm marked," she announced in a whisper.

"Marked?" He asked, looking at the location she was pointing at.

"The bond, it's marked me..." She swallowed hard and continued, looking at the mark in the mirror, studying it, "I think it's because of what we did last night..."

Draco pulled his shirt up over his head, and cocked his neck to look at his own shoulder. He snorted. "I'm marked too. With the same exact thing."

Hermione stepped up to him, able to get a good look at the marking that was on him, over the reflection of her own. It was shaped like a scorpion and bright green. She slowly lifted her hand and touched it; Draco's skin was just as smooth as hers. Other than the sight of it, there was no indication that it was even there. Much like a real tattoo.

"It kind of looks like the amulet." Draco mused. "Mother said disappeared when she put it on Scorpius." He brushed his thumb along her own mark. "Wonder what it means..."

Hermione dropped her hand to her side at his thought. "Union bonds often leave marks behind when the bond is satisfied by the actions of those intended to be unionized. It's a… notification that we're acting properly..." She looked away sheepishly.

"So, by having sex, we made the bond happy." Draco summarized. His lips stretched out into a smile, likely thinking of the night before. "I can handle that."

"This is serious now, Draco," Hermione told him firmly. "I mean..." She bit her lip in a sudden worry. "This is... irreversible. We may as well be..." She crossed her arms over her chest from a sudden chill. "We may as well be married. This is much stronger than any type of marriage contract. These marks are like wedding rings, except the 'Until Death Do Us Part' is actually real."

"We both knew we'd be stuck with each other," Draco pointed out.

"I am only stressing about how severe this is," she said quietly. She brushed a hand through her hair. "There's no possibility of a separation, Draco. Only death will break the bond."

He nodded. "I know that. And it doesn't matter to me, Hermione."

"So you are completely okay with me being the only woman you'll ever be allowed to have in your bed for the rest of your life?"

"Come here," Draco said softly, holding out his hand for her to take. Hermione looked at it for a second and hesitantly took it. He pulled her to him, and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her to him. Draco kissed the mark on her shoulder. "I'd want no other in my life," he whispered into her ear. "The only woman that I can even think about anymore is you, Mione."

Hermione relaxed against him, relieved to hear those words. "I feel the same way about you."

"Hey, I'm no woman!" He chuckled jokingly.

Hermione pulled away, rolling her eyes. "You know what I mean, Draco Malfoy!"

"That I do," Draco said and leaned down, capturing her lips with his. She invited him to deepen his kiss, slightly parting her lips. Draco moaned, tightening his arms around her body. A building desire made Hermione's gut do a flip flop. She ran her hands up his bare back, feeling his soft skin on the palms of them. Now it was her turn to moan.

"Draco," she breathed when they took a moment to catch their breath.

Both of Draco's eyebrows stood on end. "Trip to the bed?" He suggested simply.

Hermione answered by hopping into his arms, curling her legs around his waist, and began nipping his neck. He chuckled at her reaction and carried her back into the bedroom. Draco set her down onto the bed, but when he went to get up, she clung onto his neck, taking his lips in for another kiss. He settled himself above her, indulging in on her wants, plunging his tongue into her mouth to meet her own. He teased her flesh, brushing the back of his hand down the side of her body, and grinned when he felt her nipples harden against his chest. Draco broke off their kiss so he could encase one into his mouth.

"Oh, God!" She whispered, arching her back to his playful tongue.

Draco's wandering hand found her sex and grazed over it ever so softly, heightening her excitement. "Please," she begged under her breath.

"Yes?" he asked, pausing his play long enough to look at her.

"Touch me!"

Draco slowly circled his fingers around her throbbing bud. "Are you going to scream my name like when I did this the last time?" he asked Hermione, taunting her, purposely pausing every stroke to her clit to prolong her release.

Hermione closed her eyes, and moaned. She tossed her head to the side, scrunching up her face in frustration. "Don't stop, Draco!" she pleaded.

"Scream my name?" he repeated in a purr.

"Yes!" she gasped. "Just make me cum already!" She thrust her hips, moving them against his hand for a much needed friction.

Draco sped up fingers, getting more excited by Hermione's shrieks of pleasure. "Yes, oh, just like that!" she moaned. Her body clenched up before it went into spasms over her orgasm. She screamed his name just as she promised to do, and he muffled her with his mouth, devouring her. Tasting her.

Hermione pulled from him, feeling his hardness pressing against her thigh. To know that he was good and ready, nearly sent her over the edge. He had a lot of self control, she had to admit. "Fuck me," she ordered desperately, anticipating his cock buried deep into her eager hole. "Please!" She added quickly, running her palms over his nipples, having had learned quickly that that was a trigger for him.

He inhaled deeply, and shut his eyes. "Merlin," his voice was all husky. "No other woman has turned me on by her mere touch to my chest," he confessed.

Hermione rose up, flicking the tip of her tongue seductively against his nipple, looking at him pointedly.

Draco dove for her neck to gently suck on in. "Oh, Draco," she groaned in delight. He hadn't paused his soft marking of her neck as he slipped into her. Hermione cried out in a bliss, and they worked in unison. She went still after her second orgasm, her muscles twitching in pure exhaustion. It wasn't long before he grunted, pausing deep inside her, making his own release.

"Fuck!" he exclaimed breathlessly, and kissed her clammy forehead. "Holy fuck...!"

"Are you okay?" she asked after a few moments of their heavy breathing.

"I feel like I've just ran a marathon," he managed to say through his breathing. "You are seriously the best sex I've ever had," Draco complimented. He had still yet to remove himself from her.

Hermione tilted her head in doubt. "That can't be true," she insisted.

"It is."

"It must be the bond's work then," she told him, propping herself up on her elbows, making him finally remove himself from her.

"When we first did it, you were the best then. We weren't bound at that time."

"Well, I can honestly say the same about you. My list of previous lovers is much shorter though." Hermione then sighed. "I'll need another shower," she announced, noticing their discarding juices seeping from her.

Draco eyed her mischievously. "Shower you say?" he drawled seductively. "I can most definitely assist you with that." He winked.

Hermione rolled her eyes and got out of the bed. "If we do that again, we'll never get out of this room."

He shrugged. "I don't see why that's a problem."

"You have potions to make, remember?" she reluctantly reminded him.

"Ah, shit," he grumbled. "You're right." He sighed. "But there's always tonight."

Hermione laughed. "Alright, it's a date then."

"Really?" he sounded surprised by that.

"Yes, really, Draco." She gave him a tiny, flaunting smile before shutting herself up into the bathroom. She sighed in comfort. Maybe the bond wasn't so bad after all. They should have listened to it long before now.

* / *

"So, I have been trying to figure out why you spent the extra night in that luxurious home last night." Ginny set down a plateful of biscuits between them. "Or rather why it took you a month to do it." She laughed at Albus who was reaching for the plate with both his hands and gave him one of the treats. Ginny then put him in his highchair to free her hands.

Hermione blushed uncontrollably, feeling the heat rise up to her cheeks. She hadn't yet told Ginny why she really had spent that extra night there.

Ginny's mouth slowly opened in a gap. "Oh, no you didn't!" she gasped in amazement. "Did Malfoy stay behind too?!"

"Well-"

"Oh, yes you did!" Ginny squealed, pointing a finger at her friend. "Don't you dare deny it, Mione!"

Hermione tossed her hands up. "Okay, so we did do it!" she admitted in a hiss of embarrassment. She shrugged it off. "It's not like we've never done it before. I mean, Scorpius certainly proves that."

Ginny smiled widely in amusement. "Well, you were the one making a big deal out of it all this time," she said, stirring a tablespoon of honey into her tea. Her eyes lit up. "Oh, you have got to tell me everything; was it just as good as the first time?!"

"Ginny!" Hermione gasped, looking into her teacup, avoiding the red head's excited eyes.

"Come on, Hermione, you've told me all about the first time! I want details on this one too!"

Hermione softly giggled. "We did it more than once," she confessed quietly.

"Really?! Boy, he must be good then!"

"Oh, Gin," Hermione sighed, cupping her tea cup between her hands. "You honestly have no idea."

* / *

"Draco Malfoy, are you whistling?" Severus asked, having had just stepped back into his portrait.

Draco instantly halted what he had been doing, including the chopping of the daisy roots set before him. "Erm," he stumbled, somewhat embarrassed, watching his godfather's eyebrow lift ever so slightly. He stiffened and nodded. "So I was," he admitted. "What of it?"

"What has made you so cheerful? That is all I would like to know."

Draco resumed to chopping up the daisy roots, giving a small shrug. "I'm expressing my current emotion; in privacy, might I add."

"Not entirely, you're with a portrait," Severus pointed out.

"Yes, but that's all you are. And to be fair, you were absent when I started, I know because I checked first."

"Your stay with Miss Granger ended that nicely, I can assume?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "How do you even do that?!" he demanded.

Severus mimicked Draco's eye roll. "Years of observing the body language of humans. There was a reason that I was a favourite." He exchanged a look with Draco before moving on. "What happened during your visit with Granger?"

Draco paused his work long enough to think back on his intimate moments with Hermione. It was so relieving to have her finally open up to him and no longer act like he was some creep toad. He liked that she didn't pull away when he kissed her. And, oh, her lips... Her mouth... Her tongue! The thought of devouring her all over again made him awfully anxious.

And with the invitation she made that morning, he'd get to do it all over again that night. He could hardly wait, having had thought of nothing besides kissing Hermione (and much more) since the moment he watched her floo off to the Potters' to talk with her red headed friend.

"Never mind," Severus spoke up. "Your foolish smile tells me exactly what went on."

Draco cleared his throat uncomfortably and dumped the chopped daisy roots into a cauldron of water. He started up the flame to begin the boiling process, saying nothing.

"I am deeply surprised that you are not boasting about your success," the quiet voice drawled with no such tone as being 'surprised'. "I had to hear it multiple times over again the first time."

"Well," Draco started slowly. "This time is different," he said firmly.

Severus studied him for a few moments before he asked, "How different?"

Draco sucked in a breath and then let it out very slowly. "Last time, she was just a good shag, but this time..." he trailed off as his eyes went out of focus. "We're friends now..." he said, thinking of her and their situation. "Perhaps even more..." He forced himself to blink. "Or not," he quickly added with a shrug and busied himself with preparing for the next step of his brewing.

Severus lightly scoffed.

"What?" Draco asked when Severus had said nothing to elaborate his thoughts.

"You got that look."

Draco wrinkled his nose in confusion. "What look?"

"The look," Severus emphasized. "The same one your father had when he discovered that he had feelings for your mother. That was the moment that he promised himself that he would prove himself to her; come Hell or high water."

Draco burst out into giggles. "Nonsense!"

"Oh, completely," was the sarcastic, drawling reply.

* / *

"What's that?" Lucius asked after he had approached Narcissa in their sitting room, interupring her soft voice as she read to their grandson. His wife was sitting with Scorpius tucked away in one arm, and holding a book open with the other (which was the item that had caught his attention).

"This was in his nappy bag," Narcissa explained the presence of the muggle children's book. "I am assuming that Miss Granger had packed it, and a few others for Scorpius. He just loves The Little Critter books, don't you, sweetie?"

Scorpius stared wide eyed at his grandmother, he then made a tiny grunt and yawned.

Narcissa tapped the baby's thigh with tenderness. "You don't even know how adorable you are," she cooed.

Lucius made a slight scoff, voicing his doubtfulness. "Don't you think that for a second, Narci. If he has no idea now, he will soon enough. He is a Malfoy, after all, and we learn extremely quick." He sat down next to her, taking the book from her to look over the cover. "Just Go To Bed," he read the title out loud. "Wonder if the boy would care for the bunny pajamas this poor critter is dressed in," Lucius commented with a quiet chuckle.

Narcissa smiled. "It would make an excellent blackmail photo."

"Now, dear," Lucius playfully scolded, "We're the grandparents, we aren't allowed blackmail Scorpius. We are strictly here to spoil him down to the core. But..." He paused in thought, developing a glinting look in his eyes. "I do remember doing something similar to that with Draco."

Narcissa's own eyes lit up at the mentioning. "That's right! And wouldn't you say it would amuse one certain Miss Hermione Granger to see our little Draco dressed up in a peacock costume?"

Lucius laughed. "I'm so glad to have you here with me, love." He leaned over to quickly peck her lips. Scorpius let out a gurgle, and the boy's feet squirmed against Lucius' ribs. "My apologies, young man." He tipped his head in mock politeness, earning a huge grin from the baby. "Oh, I understand now." Lucius gave Scorpius a knowing wink. "Did you want one too?" He kissed the baby right at the top of his head. Scorpius let out a content hum. "Good man," Lucius nodded approvingly, making Narcissa giggle.

"They are doing a splendid job with him, aren't they?" she asked, speaking about their son and Miss Granger.

"Yes," Lucius said after a thoughtful look at the Malfoy heir. "He's always happy, and well fed." He rubbed the tiny tummy of the boy's as if to prove his statement. "But that's Granger's doing, of course. I wouldn't doubt that she has Scorpius here on a bladder release schedule by now." They both laughed at his joke, but that may not have been far from the truth.

"Do you think there is a reason that they're leaving him here for the night?"

Lucius' mouth spread out into an enormous grin. "Oh, most definitely. Draco isn't humming around for no reason."

"You're not saying-" Narcissa gasped out in surprise, placing a hand up to her mouth. "Are you sure, Luce?"

Lucius draped his arm around the shoulders of his wife, fingering a bit of her hair. "I am absolutely positive."

"Well, it's about time!" she said happily, snuggling up against him. "I was hoping they would be smart enough to give in to the bond before it sent them back to St. Mungo's!"

"Indeed," he agreed.

"Now," Narcissa thought aloud to herself. "I wonder when we should expect the wedding..."

Lucius eyed his wife, and sighed with a roll of his eyes. She was already processing the event. He suddenly pitied his son. And perhaps even Miss Granger also. Narcissa would be sure to hen peck the both of them throughout the entire time. If his son caught news that his mother was going to plan his wedding, Draco would surely end up eloping with Miss Granger, and Lucius wouldn't blame the man a single bit. That's if they even had feelings for each other, or if they would ever be willing to admit that they had feelings for one another.

Ah, but that was not something that he was going to bother to get into. He was trying his best to let his son handle his life, who was proving to be doing an acceptably fine job at taking care of himself and his family.

Although, with that brainstorming look that Narcissa was sporting, Lucius was beginning to wonder if he might just have to pull the reins on her.

Time would tell, he supposed.

* / *

Draco had been able to finish that day's work early enough to stress about what he was going to wear when he seen Hermione again in just a couple hours of time. He knew he was going to wear his signature colours, as was just him, and he really liked them. What he was trying to decide on was either to dress in a formal suit, or if he should go the more laid back, muggle look. He didn't know which she really preferred, and yes, that mattered to him. He wanted to please Hermione as much as he could. They were growing closer everyday, and he wanted it to continue as she had been precisely right that morning: now they truly were stuck together. If he couldn't get her to like him, then he'd end up being one lonely man. And that he did not want. He had been lonely since the end of the war, which was partially why he still was living with his parents. He may not have been able to stay so sane if he had been living on his own. Some of those nightmares were just too real.

Well, they really had happened after all.

No, as much as Draco tried pretending nothing was wrong with him to the outside world, deep within, he couldn't stand the thought of being alone. His parents weren't going to be around forever... Until this bond came upon him, he had had an occasional thought that he was going to die alone, but now... he had a dim little light of hope, and he was going to strengthen that little light. If he had any power at all, that light was going to be as bright as the sun when he was done, because he wanted it. He bloody needed it.

"You look so handsome!" his mother breathed when she seen him hovering at the doorway. Her eyes were moist, but to his gratitude she did not shed one tear. Thank merlin for that. Women were much too emotional for his taste.

"Er, thanks..." Draco acknowledged uncomfortably, namely to not hurt Mother's feelings. He stole a look at Father. The corners of the older wizard's mouth were slightly upturned into a smile; a proud one. Draco straightened up stiffly, returning the tiny smile. Inside, his pulse beat with an extreme amount of joy from the rare look his Father gave him. The two exchanged nods before Draco focused his attention on his son, who was feeding from a bottle that Mother was holding up for him.

"Alright, little chomper," Draco spoke softly to the baby once he had made his way across the room to him. "Father must say goodbye for the night," he announced a bit sadly. Leaving Scorpius behind was always a difficult task. He never loved someone as much as that baby before.

Scorpius seemed to understand perfectly well, he popped the bottle's nipple from his mouth and scrunched up his face. He was going to pitch a fit.

"No, no" Draco quickly said gently, reaching down to pick him up. "You'll be alright," he whispered, rubbing the baby's back soothingly. "Mumma and I will come pick you up first thing in the morning." He heard his son hiccup and then Scorpius screeched out happily. Draco pressed his cheek against his son. "That's a good boy," he praised and handed him back to Mother.

Something dribbled off of Draco's shoulder. Father lightly chuckled. Draco cringed. The baby's white, chunky spit up stood out all too well against his black vest. He groaned in disgust, looking down at his son who was drooling and smiling as if he was having the time of his life.

"I get your point, you prat," Draco growled at his son.

"Draco!" Mother shrieked, cradling the boy defensively.

"He does this to me all the time!" Draco defended himself quickly, not liking his mother's glare.

"Not on purpose! Gosh! Your father was the same way with you! What is with you Malfoy men?! Babies just do these things!"

Draco and Father exchanged looks. Father tilted his head, giving his son a helpless look. Draco sighed and knelt down, giving Scorpius a kiss on his cheek. "Grandmother and Grandfather will take swell care of you, chomper. And besides, you're supposed to be helping your mother and I, bond, so be good."

Scorpius lifted his hand up, touching Draco's nose. "Mmma!"

"Yes, you're cute," Draco told the baby. "Which is the only reason you get away with anything," he added with a chuckle.

Scorpius snatched his father's thumb, squeezing it, Draco shook it lightly, and smiled down at him. He watched his son closely for a few moments, spending as much as he could with the boy before he had to go.

"Well, he should be fine, I'd say," he decided finally, once he noticed that Scorpius wasn't going to fuss at him any longer.

His mother scoffed. "He will be just fine, I'll have you know," she corrected him. "He's in capable hands." She nodded firmly.

Draco rolled his eyes at her taking offense over his words. He pecked her a goodbye, murmuring a quick thanks for taking care of Scorpius for the night.

"Not at all, darling." She tapped his cheek with a smile. "Love you."

"Love you too, Mother." He waved to his father before exiting to the flooing room.

When he flooed to the home he and Hermione were sharing, he was greeted by her presence. She stood at the doorway that led off to a hallway, as if she had been waiting for him. They stared at each other for many moments in silence until Draco held up a bottle. "Brought wine," he informed. "I remember you saying that it couldn't be a real date without one."

Her eyes merely glanced at the bottle before they met his again. She crossed the room to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissed him (quite aggressively, he noted, as if she had been waiting all day to do it).

Perhaps she had...

His lips twitched into a grin. He pulled away, raising his eyebrows up, allowing her to see that he found her actions a bit too shocking. "I take it that you missed me?"

Chapter Text

“Now what are you doing?” Draco asked when he entered the kitchen to see a very busy Hermione, who was magically stirring several bowls of assorted food.

Scorpius began squealing excitedly at the sight of his father. He sat in his highchair, wearing a green and red festive bib that Hermione must have recently bought him for the upcoming holiday. He smacked the tray with his hands.  “Derbla!” the baby repeated over and over until Draco picked him up and kissed him hello.

“How’s my little chomper?” he asked.

“Mmma!” he replied and pressed his face against his father’s to kiss him back.

Hermione smiled at the father and son before elegantly flicking the tip of her wand, sending numerous of plastic bowls to the table which was now triple in size to fit the prepared food.

Draco wrinkled his nose at the unappetizing looking mush in the bowls. “What is all this?” he asked. “It looks like you’ve collected the waste from Scorpius’ nappies.”

The baby giggled at his name's mentioning and smeared a wet finger across Draco’s cheek.

“Thanks, son,” Draco said in friendly sarcasm. “But I assure you, baby drool is not some new top of the line beauty product!”

“Dahs!” Scorpius pointed to the colourful bowls, showing him he liked them.

“Since Scorpius is nearly six months now, I thought we could start introducing him to solid foods.”

Draco gave a slight nod in understanding. “And you have refused Weston’s work? He could have prepared all of this for you.”

“I sent Weston off to help Ginny while Harry is working on a case. With two little ones, she’s getting worn out easily. Hope you don’t mind.” She sent him a smile that told him he was to not argue with her decision.

Draco cleared his throat. “Course not.” He quickly changed the subject, “So, you really think Scorpius is ready for real food?”

“Oh, yes, he was extremely cranky this morning after you left, I discovered it’s because he’s teething!”

“He is?” Draco looked at his son who was gumming on three of his fingers, staring at the bowls.

“Yes.” Hermione came up to Draco and removed their son’s fingers from his mouth, inserting one of her own. “If you run your finger along his gums, you’ll feel a couple of lumps. They are causing him pain. But it’s nothing to worry about, his frozen teething toys soothe it away.”

Draco ran his thumb along Scorpius gums like Hermione had done, feeling for the bumps she had informed him about. Scorpius clamped his jaw down onto it and began sucking it.

“Do you mean like a dog's chew toy?” Draco asked in a sudden feeling of his son being compared to an animal.

“No,” Hermione said slowly, but Draco hinted that she may have been lying. “It’s helping him,” she told him firmly. “So don’t get all defensive about it.”

“Fine.” Draco let it go. She had to be right, Scorpius didn’t appear to be in any pain right now. She knew more about caring for babies than he did anyway.

“Do you want to see what foods our son might like?”

“Sure.” Draco pulled out a chair and sat in it, setting up Scorpius comfortably in his arms into a sitting position.

Hermione placed her chair in front of Draco and the baby. She chose a blue bowl with orange mush in it. Scorpius hummed happily at the sight of his favourite color.

“Gahg!” He pointed to the bowl and looked up at Draco.

“Yes, it’s blue,” Draco told his son. “And...” he paused peering down at the orange mush. “Is the orange gunky stuff carrots?” he asked Hermione after a quick sniff.

“Daddy knows his veggies,” Hermione applauded, stirring the mashed carrots with a baby sized spoon. “Want to try some, sweety?” She held up the messy spoon to Scorpius, who went and grabbed at it, dirtying up his fist.

Draco chuckled. “You haven’t even had a bite and you’ve already created a mess, chomper.”

“Aaah!” Scorpius answered, reaching for the spoon again.

Draco stopped him this time by snatching his hands. “Let your mother show you how,” he instructed gently. “Show him, Hermione; take a bite.”

“Scorpi,” Hermione spoke to get the baby’s attention. “Watch Mumma.” She slowly brought the spoon up to her lips, taking a bite. “Mmm, yum,” she emphasized. “Yummy carrots.”

Scorpius screeched happily and threw his back against Draco. “Gahs!” he flapped his arms. “Gahs! Gahs!”

“Alright, baby, if you calm down, Mumma will let you try,” Hermione said and opened up her mouth to get the baby to mimic her.

Scorpius followed suit perfectly. “Gahg!”

“He’s ready,” Draco announced, rubbing his son’s belly.

“Okay, here it comes.” She slipped the spoon into the tiny mouth and both parents watched him, anticipating his reaction. Scorpius scrunched up his face from the strange texture, not used to anything besides liquids. Draco smiled, finding the disgusted face amusing.

“I can’t tell if he hates it or if the texture is just too odd for him,” Hermione said.

Scorpius’ tongue poked out of his mouth and slopped out some of the carrot mush. His eyebrows furrowed and he looked up at Draco. “Derbla?”

“No?” Draco asked. “You don’t like yummy carrots?”

Scorpius pointed to the bowl. “Gahg!”

“Try again, Mione.”

Hermione made to give Scorpius another spoonful but he turned his head and whimpered with closed eyes. “Derbla!” he wailed.

“Nope,” Hermione set the bowl of carrot mush aside.

“No carrots for the chomper.” Draco tickled the baby’s foot to stop his whimpers before they could turn into cries. Scorpius’ frown instantly disappeared and he giggled. “Try a fruit,” Draco suggested to Hermione. “Did you blend any apples?”

“Yes, I did,” she said with a grin, finding a yellow bowl with the requested applesauce. “I knew you’d go for that.”

“Look what Mumma has, Scorpius,” Draco said with dramatic excitement. He gasped out. “What’s that?!”

“Gahg!”

“It’s apple. Remember apple starts with an A,” Hermione lectured softly.

Draco refrained from rolling his eyes. She never missed an opportunity.

Scorpius wasn’t interested in tasting the applesauce after having the carrots. “Dah!” he wailed when his mother brought the spoon anywhere near his mouth. He swatted at it.

Hermione bit her lip. “I suppose I should have started with a fruit.”

“Let me try.” Draco snatched the spoon from Hermione without giving her the time to hand it over.

“Chomper,” Draco addressed his son coaxingly. “I’ve got something great that you ought to try.” He licked the bottom of the spoon. “You didn’t use green ones,” he told Hermione in disappointment, noticing the all too sweet flavour.

Hermione shrugged. “You ate them all.”

“He might prefer the sweeter apple right now anyway.” Scorpius was now lifting himself up to claim control of the spoon that he found so fascinating. Draco raised it above his head. “Does Scorpius want the spoon of applesauce?” Scorpius blew a raspberry, splattering Draco’s face with specks of carrot mush. Draco pursed his lips. “Thanks, chomper,” he said grimly, taking the towel that Hermione held out to him.

“It’s on the arm of your shirt too,” she pointed out and cleaned it off with a loose corner of the towel. “Orange is the new black,” she giggled.

“No colour can replace black,” he said seriously and reverted his attention back to Scorpius, cleaning the outer part of the baby’s mouth with the disliked carrots. “Now, this is better,” he told Scorpius, speaking  about the applesauce. “Go ‘ah’, Scorpius. Ah.”

Scorpius copied Draco, opening his mouth. “Dah!”

“Smart boy.” But just as Draco went to put the spoon in the open mouth, Scorpius blocked his mouth with his hands.

“Dah!” Scorpius rubbed at an eye.

Draco saw the opportunity and quickly smeared the applesauce on his son’s lips. Instinctively, Scorpius’ tongue stuck out. The baby made a face and a second later he smiled.

“He likes it!” Hermione exclaimed.

“Yes, he does!”

“Derbla!” Scorpius squealed, clutching onto the spoon. Draco allowed him to have it and the handle immediately was put into his mouth to taste.

“Do you like applesauce, Scorpius?” Hermione asked, conjuring up a new spoon. “Want another bite?”

“Bah!”

After his first bite of applesauce, Scorpius was eager to eat. Hermione let him have two more bites before moving on to the mushy sweet potatoes, which Scorpius wanted nothing to do with.

“Dah!” he screeched after her third attempt to get him to eat it.

“Ho!” Draco burst out in realization. “It’s the colour, Hermione!”

She lowered the spoon in thought. “He thinks it’s the carrots...” Hermione smiled. “It’s not carrots, baby. This is better!” Then she did what Draco had done with the applesauce and dabbed a bit of it onto his lips.

It was then discovered that Scopius also liked sweet potatoes.

*/*

Draco was beginning to notice that Severus’ portrait was sitting empty more often than not. He found this strange since he couldn’t see him wanting to spend much time at Hogwarts, so something must have caught Severus’ interest. Whatever it was, Draco hadn’t read or heard about it yet. Hogwarts news had been a bit dull since the end of the war.

Draco shrugged it off and exited his potions lab, going up to his room at the Manor to change his clothes from a long day of brewing. He put a pouch into his fresh dress robes and began making his way to the flooing room.

“When are you going to bring Scorpius back here?” His mother’s harsh question made him jump, having had not expected her to even be home, since she had not confronted him at all that day.

He cautiously cocked his head to look at her, planting a smile on his face. “I have been thinking that you did not have the time currently,” he smoothly said. “With Christmas coming up an all.”

“It’s been two weeks,” Mother told him coldly, ignoring his excuse.

“Has it been that long?” he asked in surprise.

“Yes,” she answered stiffly. “Do you not want me to see my grandson, Draco?”

“Of course not, Mother! Don’t be ridiculous! We’ve been busy!”

“Doing?”

“Well, I’ve been working on a potion... and she’s... been exercising his mind with an abundance of lessons. She keeps saying he’s going to be the Albert Einstein of the magical world, who was some exceptionally brilliant Muggle. She’s obsessed! Hermione literally recites the alphabet to Scorpius while she breastfeeds him!” Draco rolled his eyes. “I often have to save him from it all just to give the boy a bit of a break! I thought Father was bad with his constant lecturing, but she takes the cake!”

Mother’s mouth slowly curved into a smile as he spoke.

“What?”

“I would not have expected any different with that girl.”

“Yes, well Scorpius needs a break from time to time. I was just on my way to save him now.” He gestured down the staircase from his place at the top of it.

She nodded, permitting his leave. “But I want to see him soon, Draco,” she said. “Very soon.”

“Yes, Mother,” he instantly acknowledged, noting the tone of her warning. “I will speak with Hermione about bringing him here soon again,” he promised.

“Wonderful!” Excitement filled her voice.

He hurried down to the flooing room, exhaling a breath. Yes, he’d have to bring Scorpius here soon. Mother would not stand for that much longer. How could he have gotten so busy to have not realized this? He normally brought Scorpius over several times a week.

After a deep thought, he knew why it had slipped his mind.

His new life.

The potion Hermione needed was a complicated brew and when he was finished working on it for the day, all he ever thought about was returning to them. Nothing else was on his mind after that. Especially how heavy his chest was with happiness lately. In the past few months, the three of them had created a tight family. One that he would never allow to dissolve. He liked this new life a lot. He could even admit that he loved it.

She still wouldn’t fully move into the old Gordin manor though, leaving some of her belongings at her other place. She was just being too stubborn to admit that they were now living together and had been for the last three months.

Bloody damn Gryffindors...

*/*

“He won’t go for this.” Hermione shook her head.

“I figured as much,” Harry said with a shrug. “But the offer remains on the table.” He wiggled a stuffed black cat at Scorpius who was in his arms. Scorpius grabbed the cat and stuck its entire head into his mouth.

“And how does everyone else feel about this?”

“It was Gin’s idea and everyone knows not to argue with a pregnant witch,” Harry joked as he wrestled the toy back from Scorpius.

She bit her lip uneasily. “I don’t know, Harry...” she said slowly. “I don’t think he’s ready for this.”

“And do you think he’d ever be?”

She forced a laugh. “Likely not!”

“Well, he’s your boyfriend and

Hermione’s eyes widened at that, cutting him off.

“Was I not suppose to know this?” Harry asked cautiously. “You’re certainly not hiding it well.”

“No, it’s just... I have never actually called him that. We’ve been doing what dating couples do, but I just never actually thought of him that way...”

Harry nodded. “You’ve considered him more as the father of your son who you have been forced to be civil with.”

“No,” she corrected him with a smile. “Well, maybe at first when the magic was forcing us together, but I’m glad it did, Harry. He’s so special to me now. He’s brilliant and, you won’t believe this, but he’s actually thoughtful of others.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Draco Malfoy, thoughtful? That is hard to believe.”

“Even you’ve said he’s changed,” she pointed out.

“I did,” he agreed. “But I still thought of him as a spoiled, rich kid, who just happened to know exactly when to act decent, and don’t ever tell him this, or he’ll hold it over my head, but he saved me that day when the Snatchers caught us. He never would say why, and I’ll probably never know, but he did do it.” Harry sighed. “I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand how a Slytherin thinks.”

Hermione smiled, thinking of Draco. “Me neither.”

“See what you can do,” Harry told her. “Gin is becoming a fan of his, she thinks what you two have is the most interesting thing in the world.” He shook his head, grinning. “She has nothing better to do than watch other people. She refuses to go back to Quidditch with the kids around. I feel sort of bad for her, but Ginny says she’s alright. She loves being a mother.”

Hermione nodded. “It’s the best job in the world.”

“Well, so long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters, Hermione.”

“I am,” Hermione ensured her best friend.

Harry playfully bounced Scorpius in his arms before handing him back to Hermione. “He’s getting big,” he commented.

“Yes, he is. I feel my arm is going to fell off after holding him a while.”

“Bah!” Scorpius waved at Harry with a huge smile.

Harry laughed. “Is he saying bye to me?”

“I think so,” Hermione also laughed.

“Derbla!” The baby’s face got serious then and he tried squirming out of Hermione’s arms, making her set him down on the floor so he could crawl around. “Derbla!”

“We’ve decided that that’s what he calls Draco,” Hermione informed Harry, watching her son attempt to stand up on his two feet without her help.

“Oh.” Harry then chuckled. “That’s kinda cute actually.”

“Don’t you have your own family to gawk over, Potter?”

Harry and Hermione turned their heads to see Draco leaning on the doorjamb with his arms crossed over his chest, wearing a blank look.

“I was just seeing if Hermi

“Hermione is in capable of hands,” Draco interrupted coolly.

“Draco, don’t,” Hermione said softly. “He’s my friend

“Whose wife would love to know that he stopped by our place before going to his own home and family.”

Hermione pursed her lips at the jealous tone Draco held. She stole a glance at Harry and saw his jaw clench, likely in an effort to stop himself from making a retort.

“I was actually passing on a message from Ginny,” Harry defended himself. “Not that it is any of your business.”

Draco chuckled cruelly. “Are you your wife’s messenger now, Potter? Her little owl? My, you must have an interesting time in the bedroom with that sort of role-play. No wonder you’re already on your third child.”

“Draco!” Hermione shrieked harshly. “Stop it! Stop it, now!”

Draco pushed himself off the doorjamb and sent her an ugly scowl. He bent down to pick up Scorpius who had crawled to his feet and untied the laces of his dress shoes. “Go back to your own family, Potter. Leave mine alone,” he growled and stalked out of the room.

“Sorry,” Hermione’s voice was hardly above a whisper. “Obviously he’s jealous...” She uncomfortably rubbed her forearm.

Harry frowned. “I suppose it does look bad to him... And it must bother him to know that I am his son’s godfather.” His lips spread out into a faint smile. “I’d be a bit upset too if he was one of my kids’ godfather.”

“He would choose none other,” Hermione told Harry quickly. “Even if he would never admit it...”

“Don’t lie, Hermione,” Harry scolded. “Seriously, it’s bad for your character.”

“I’m not! He’s never even brought up the subject, nor suggested a different person. I suppose if Professor Snape were still alive it’d be different, but as you know...” She glanced toward the doorway, looking to see if Draco was eavesdropping. “He has no friends...” she whispered after finding that it was safe to say.

Harry gave a nod. “Then he really is just jealous of me.”

“Hasn’t he always been?” She grinned knowingly.

“But he’s not a child anymore,” Harry said with a roll of his eyes. “And I do love my wife.”

“Yes, I know, and he probably does too, deep down.”

“Okay,” he sighed. “Just make sure he knows that you and I would never happen.”

She laughed. “He knows that already. The bond wouldn’t even let you and I do anything. He’s just being a nincompoop!”

Harry massaged the back of his neck. “Guess I should get back home to Ginny then... Malfoy can still come. If you can even convince him to. Let him know he’ll have to suppress himself a little. There will be kids around.”

“Don’t count on his arrival,” Hermione warned him.

Harry smiled. “If anyone can get him to reason, it would be you, Mione.” He winked and then had to leave for home. “See you later.”

After Harry left, Hermione set out to search for Draco, finding him in a room that he had put together for Scorpius to play in. He was laying on the floor with his chin propped up on his folded arms, watching Scorpius play with a magical toy spider that dangled above the baby’s head, tickling him.

“Is that spider messing with your hair?” Draco teased Scorpius.

Scorpius reached above his head and giggled when the spider crawled up its string of silk to get out of the baby’s reach. “Sah!” Scorpius said to Draco.

“It isn’t going to let you get it; you’ll drool all over it!”

“Gah?”

“No, it won’t.”

“Sahdah!” Scorpius pointed to the spider all the while looking at Draco in question.

“No, it’s pronounced ‘spider’,” he corrected.

Scorpius narrowed his eyes. “Sahdah!” he insisted.

“There are no A sounds at all in ‘spider’.”

“Sahdah!”

“What about... father?” Draco suggested. “Can you say that?”

Hermione couldn’t help smiling. Draco always said that she worked with Scorpius too hard, but he didn’t do anything different than she did when he was home. She learned a while ago it was just an excuse to play with the boy.

Scorpius gave Draco a drooling grin. “Derbla!” He clapped exuberantly, thoroughly pleased with himself.

Fah-ther.”

“Derbla!” Scorpius then found another toy to play with. It was a hippogriff one that Harry had gotten for him.

Fah,” Draco patiently tried again. “Say ‘fah’, chomper.”

“Dah!”

“No, fah.”

Scorpius’ attention went solely on the hippogriff toy as he took an interest in adjusting the legs and neck of it.

“Scorpius...?” Draco reached out, tapping the infant’s foot. "I know you can do it. If you make a decent effort."

With a scrunched up face, Scorpius looked at Draco. “F-Fah?”

“That’s it!” Draco exclaimed, and Hermione had to cover her mouth to keep from doing the same. “Now ‘ther’.”

Scorpius’ eyes went back to the toy. “Fah!”

Ther.”

“Blah!” the little boy then puckered out his lip and he let out a whine. “Derblah!” he wailed.

Draco sat up and held out his arms to Scorpius. “It’s alright,” he told the baby softly. “You’ll get it.”

Scorpius crawled into his father’s arms, whimpering softly. “Derblah!” he cried again as Draco pulled him close to his chest, kissing the top of his head.

“I know,” Draco whispered. “It’s hard.”

“Hahd!” Scorpius agreed tearfully.

Hermione wiped her misty eyes and left the two alone to console each other. She was grateful for the bond that her son and Draco had. She hadn’t even seen Harry as attentive to his boys as Draco was to Scorpius. They understood each other without even having to speak the same language. Which made her wonder how close they would be once Scorpius started talking with complete words that she and Draco could understand. They were already inseparable as it was now.

“My mother wants us to spend Christmas at the Manor,” Draco announced a while later, interrupting Hermione’s reading.

“And what does your father say to this?” she asked without taking her eyes off the book, skimming them over the rest of the paragraph that she had been reading before willing herself to close it up.

Draco shrugged. “He didn’t say either way.”

“Was that because he wasn’t permitted to?”

“Hermione, my father has had no choice to accept you. He’s not going to cause us any problems.”

She tilted her head, finding his words valid. “I suppose you’re right.” She grinned. “He did slip something into my drink to get me to reason with the situation, after all. I know your mother is accepting, but I haven’t heard him voice his opinion about much of anything since that day in Saint Mungo’s.”

“When I first met Scorpius?”

She nodded.

“What did he say?"

Hermione ducked her head, hiding her face. She hadn’t brought this up to Draco before. “It’s no big deal.”

She felt him squeeze into the arm chair next to her. He brushed back her hair, tucking it behind an ear. “Did he threaten you?” Draco asked quietly.

“Not exactly.” She snorted. “I’ve seen him in war, he doesn't really scare me. Basically, he just said that I couldn’t take Scorpius from you.”

Draco hugged her tightly. “He won’t do anything to stop us,” he told her. “You have nothing to worry about. He knows there’s nothing he can do.”

“I haven’t been in Malfoy Manor except the flooing room since...” she paused and lifted up her arm with the curse.

“It’s different now,” he said and kissed her wrist. “It's unrecognizable, I promise.”

Hermione wrapped her arms around Draco, burying her face into his chest, inhaling his musky scent. “Harry invited us all for New Year’s,” she informed him softly.

Draco’s hold on her stiffened. “Was that the message he was speaking about? From his wife?”

She nodded and lifted her head. “There’s really no reason to be jealous of him, Draco. It isn’t him I’m kissing in the dark of the night,” she pecked her lips against his jawbone. “It wasn’t his baby that I had. Nor is it him that I think about for half the time.”

“What’s on your mind the other half of the time?” he asked suspiciously.

She smiled. “How I enjoy the sight of my boyfriend and his son playing together.”

His grey eyes twinkled at her words as he processed them. Draco then kissed her on the lips, running a hand through her wild her. “Mione?” he whispered, after breaking off the kiss.

“Hmm?”

“Did you just admit out loud that you're my girlfriend?”

She grinned and nodded. “Are you okay with being my boyfriend?”

“I’m perfectly okay with the title.” Draco settled himself next to her, taking a teacup off the table stand next to the chair they were in.

“That’s my tea,” she said.

“We share spit, Hermione, surely we can share tea.” He took a sip and made a face. “It’s cold,” he grumbled. Hermione smugly heated up the beverage with her wand for him. “I could have done that, you know.”

“Then why didn’t you?” she asked, replacing the wand on the table.

He rolled his eyes. “Because I knew you’d do it. Why waste the energy?”

Hermione giggled. “You always were a terrible liar.”

“I’ll go to Potter’s party, if you go to my Mother’s,” he bargained abruptly.

“Really?” Hermione was shocked that he had even considered it.

He nonchalantly lifted a shoulder up. “I’m feeling a little bold.”

“Don’t worry, Draco.” Hermione cracked a smirk. “I’ll protect you from all the Gryffindors.”

He scoffed and shook his head at her. “It’s a deal then?” he pressed.

“It is. Seal it with a kiss?” she asked, unbuttoning his shirt to gain access to his skin.

“We need to make deals like this more often, girlfriend of mine,” he said with an aroused growl and buried his face into her neck.

Chapter Text

"Ready?"

Hermione took a deep breath. She nodded determinedly.

Draco gently pulled her sleeve up to her elbow. "Aren't you going to close your eyes?"

She swallowed and gave another nod, shutting out the sight of the golden arm cuff that he had exposed. Draco resumed to unearthing her scar, removing the material with graceful fingers. His thumb softly traced the length of the mark. Hermione was sure he was thinking about what she would be if she gave the scar a mere glance. She forced her eyes to stay shut, not willing herself to peek at his face.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, needing to at least hear his voice.

Hermione heard a loud pop that made her jump a little. She relaxed immediately realizing that it was the cork to the potion popping off. With her other senses heightened due to her closed eyes, it sounded louder than it would have been if her eyes were open.

He didn't answer her question.

"Draco...?"

"Yes?" He sounded distant. Blank. Lost. He mildly reminded Hermione of Luna, only without the humming, sweet voice that Luna had.

"What's wrong?"

She heard him inhale and then a soft sound came from him. A groan...? A whimper...? She couldn't really tell.

"Okay, that's enough," she said, yanking down her sleeve so she could safely open her eyes. She watched him blink. Dark circles had formed around his eyes, surprising her. Hermione knew what they were, but did not know that stress circles could appear so fast.

"What are you doing?" he demanded in his normal voice.

"We're not ready," she explained flatly.

"Yes, we are!" Draco insisted.

"You didn't do this to me but you're blaming yourself for it."

He scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous !" he snapped, sounding much like his old self. He noticed his tone just as soon as he finished with it and pursed his lips. Draco stood up from the sofa they were sitting in, keeping his back to her. He raked a hand through his hair, exhaling a breath. An uneasy laugh came from him, one that Hermione could tell was fake. "I'm not blaming myself for what my aunt did."

"You're lying," she accused and saw him straighten his posture to her words, becoming as stiff as a metal pole.

" I am not ," he growled darkly.

Hermione was shocked by his coldness. She had never heard something so terrifying come from him. It sent a slight shiver through her body. Not a good one either. "Fine," she spoke gently, trying to understand him. "I believe you. Tell me what's wrong then."

He moved none. Said nothing. All Draco did was stand in his rigid stance. Hermione let a full minute pass before she stood up.

"I'll just get someone else to apply it," she said, keeping her voice gentle, and made to exit the room to give him some much needed space.

His hand shot out at her, grasping her shoulder, stopping her from passing him. "No," he said tenaciously. "I'm going to do it. You're my..." he trailed off, eyeing the ground at his feet.

"You really don't have to it," Hermione told him.

"You're my responsibility now," he said seriously.

She laughed. "Now, Draco, this is the 21st century– "

"A date in time doesn't stop me from my role, Hermione," he cut her off. "I'm a Malfoy. It's what we do. We are family men, and we do anything we can for our family. Anything ."

She grit her teeth and narrowed her eyes, brushing his hand off her shoulder. "I don't need you to take care of me!" Hermione hissed indignantly.

"I know that," he said quickly, realizing he may have said something wrong. "It's my job though."

"Then get a new one!" She huffed and walked away.

"Hermione– "

She turned on him, letting out a squeak at how close he was to her. She hadn't expected him to follow closely behind her, ending up just two steps from her.

She snatched the unused potion from his hand, and accio'ed the cork to it. "I'll can do it myself, thank you!"

"No! Hermione, you can't– "

"Yes." She sent him a nasty look. "Yes, I can. I don't need you to bloody hold my hand, Draco!"

"You don't under– "

Hermione didn't give him the chance to finish his sentence, she apparated away to her home in the Muggle world. She was breathing heavy from anger, tears stinging her eyes.

Why couldn't Draco understand that she did not need a man to take care of her? She was Hermione Granger: The Brightest Witch of the Magical World. She was an independent Gryffindor! She wasn't some helpless Slytherin woman, who was raised to follow the rules of a man's laws!

Tears of frustration slipped from her eyes. She hastily wiped them away with the back of her hand.

She didn't need him to coddle her! And she'd prove it to him!

With her teeth, she removed the cork to the potion and, after taking a huge breath, Hermione yanked the sleeve of her shirt up. With a clenched fist, she doused her entire forearm with the thick, black potion.

She heard fizzing, and a sudden burning pain occurred, as if she just poured a pot of boiling water on her skin. She screamed out and couldn't stop herself from looking down at her arm to see what was happening. The scar pierced into mind, sending her mind back to the moment when she had been cursed with the it.

The level of pain she was experiencing intensified. A sharp, cold blade of a knife dug into her arm. The woman's laugh echoed throughout her head.

Hermione crumbled to the ground, scrunching herself up in pain and terror. "Stop it!" she cried. "Leave me alone!"

*/*

"I buggered up!" Draco gasped out when he found Father in his telly room.

He must have looked terrible, because Father immediately turned off the telly with a spell and stood up. "How?" Father asked, taking the crying Scorpius from Draco, whose body was fiercely trembling.

"I..." He sighed helplessly. "I don't know... One m-moment we were getting ready to administrate the potion to her scar, and I..." Draco gulped, squeezing his eyes shut. The image invading his mind just didn't want to leave. The sounds of it weren't helping him either.

"What happened?" his father asked slowly, noting something strange about him.

Draco began pacing the room. "I froze up," he admitted. "I just... I can't get it out of my head..."

"Get what out of your head?"

Draco smacked the palm of his hand against his forehead in disturbance. He repeated the action over and over again; each hit getting harder. He could hear her screaming off in the distance of his mind.

"No, I didn't–"

"Liar!" Aunt Bellatrix screeches and casts her favourite spell.

Hermione screams.

"Son...?"

"I'll teach you not to lie, Mudblood!" Aunt Bellatrix says over the shrill of Hermione's scream.

'Please stop,' he wants to cry out. But he can't. There's not a thing that he can do to help her. He wants to cry. But he can't do that either. Death Eaters aren't allowed to cry.

'Stop hurting her!' He wants to protect her. But he can't. He's forbidden from helping Mudbloods.

His grey eyes meet hazel ones. Hers are moist; she's also trying not to cry. Draco can't look at her anymore. He looks away, swallowing a sob. He can't help her. Else he'll end up right next to her– begging for his life. That'll do neither of them any good.

He tries to shut her screaming from his mind. But he can't.

Someone save her... She doesn't deserve this...

Please...

Save her.

"Draco...?"

Draco refocused himself into reality upon hearing his name being called. Father was staring at him blankly, masking his facial expression. Draco knew why.

"I-I'm... losing my mind," he whispered quiveringly, sitting into a chair before his weak knees could give out on him. "I'm going all nutty!"

*/*

Thirty-three minutes.

That's how long it lasted for. That's how long it took for Bellatrix Lestrange to carve into her arm and mark her for life, causing physical and mental destruction every time Hermione's eyes set on it.

Shakily, Hermione stood herself up. Her breathing was shallow. Her arm was excruciatingly burning and stinging. Her stomach ached. She hurried to the bathroom, just managing to get to the sink in time before wrenching up into it.

With a sob, she blindly washed the dripping blood off her arm. It hurt. It hurt a lot. She bit her lip so hard that she could taste blood in her mouth from her teeth cutting into it.

She then splashed cold water on her red face and swollen eyes to shock them. When they appeared to be returning back to their normal appearances, Hermione hastily summoned up an arm cuff identical to the one she left at the other place. She slipped it on and cast a spell, tightening it around her. She could feel the material cutting off some of her circulation.

There is no way it could slip off this way.

She covered her face with her hands, not wishing to see the afflicted look on it in the reflection of the mirror.

She could cry here. No one would know.

And so that's what she did.

*/*

"I've got to find her," Draco said.

He felt a little better now that Father had given him an ultra strength anti-traumatic potion. It was enough to allow him to think of how serious Hermione's predicament was at least.

"That potion requires more than some simple application. She's going to go through all that pain for nothing... And that's just the minor side effects of it..."

"Have you checked her home in Kinderville?" Mother asked.

Draco nodded. "I sent Kippy there since she has access to it. Kippy informed me that she was not there. I also sent Kippy to her home in Muggle London, but she couldn't break through the wards."

"She has a home in London?" Mother was interested to hear more details about it.

"Not now, Mother," Draco muttered. "I am concerned about my girlfriend at the moment."

His parents exchanged looks, hearing him say that for the first time in front of them.

"Yes, it's a shocking thing for me to say!" he snapped impatiently. "Something you can react over later! Can you help me or not?!"

"Perhaps," Father said slowly. "Show me her home in Muggle London. If we're lucky, her wards aren't too advanced."

Mother let out a soft snort of doubt and pursed her lips when Father sent her an unamused look. "I'll look after Scorpius," she offered to Draco.

Draco sighed tiredly. "Thank you, Mother."

"It led me here last time," Draco told his father after they arrived at the location of Hermione's home in Muggle London. They were standing outside a fair looking brick home set in a busy Muggle neighborhood. The house seemed to be in decent shape: clean, earthy coloured bricks, with a light tan roof. "I tried knocking, but there was no answer. Tried entering with both physical and magical force, but I was unable..."

Father tilted his head in thought. "I would say your potion did work properly then. Miss Granger just has some remarkable spells in activation. If I had to guess, you can only gain access from the inside alone."

"I was thinking that too," Draco said. "I just know this is where she is... I can feel it."

"Good day, sirs!" someone greeted behind them.

Father raised an eyebrow, and they turned around to see a teenage Muggle. "What do you want?" he asked.

"If you're looking to buy that old home, I would think twice about it." The kid tossed his head toward Hermione's house. "I hear it's haunted."

"Thanks for the advice," Draco said before his father could make some nasty comment.

"Good day to you then, gentlemen!" And the Muggle went on, whistling some God awful tune.

Father rolled his eyes, muttering something under his breath.

"How do you suppose I can get inside?" Draco asked, pulling Father back to their current task.

With a thoughtful look at the house, he said, "I have no doubt that one of her little friends has unlimited access to it."

Draco groaned. "I'll have to talk with the Potters then ."

"Or the Weasleys." Father then laughed at the sick look he received with that suggestion.

An hour later, Draco scribbled a note and attached it to Preetee's foot. "Give this to Potter's wife," he told his companion, stroking the tiny owl's silky feathers a couple of times before Preetee clicked his beak and flew up to one of 12 Grimmauld Place's windows – where the Potters lived.

Preetee hovered patiently at the window, tapping it every so seconds to get someone's attention. After several attempts, the window finally opened, and Draco watched his owl swoop in to deliver the note. A few moments later, a flash of red hair came up to the window. Potter's wife searched curiously for Draco. She smiled when she saw him and give a bit of a wave. He put his hand up, mildly returning the greeting.

Potter's wife opened the window, sticking her head out of it. "Come up to the door! I'll let you in!"

Draco gave a single nod and walked up the path. He had to stand there for a few seconds before she finally opened it, heaving out a breathless sigh. "Sorry," she said tapping her bulging belly. "Bit slow these days!"

Did she always have to be so cheerful? Every time Draco had seen her, be it in person or the papers, she was always giddy. How could someone be this way all the time?

"Well, come in then!" Potter's wife gestured him inside when he said nothing. "You must be cold!"

"Not really," he told her blandly and stepped inside the warm home. The house looked the complete opposite of what he would have pictured Potter to live in. It was very Mugglely. Much like Goyle's girlfriend had going on in her home when Draco had been coaxed to go over there (because Goyle had been so eager to get Draco to change his mind about the Muggles).

The house was plain. It was quite boring.

Somethings did stand out though, hinting that there actually was a family of magical people living there. Such as the newest line of brooms set up right next to the coat hanger in the corner by the door. There appeared to be one for each member of the family. Two were miniature in size, indicating that those belonged to Potter's sons.

"Hi," Potter's eldest son greeted, appearing into the foyer, giving Draco a look of interest.

"Did you finish picking up your room?" Potter's wife immediately asked the boy.

"I cannot," he said innocently, placing his hands behind his back. "It's way too heavy to pick up!" He then laughed at his joke.

His mother was not impressed. She crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him. "You know exactly what I mean, James Sirius!"

His eyes widened and he took off. "I'm doing it, Mummy!"

When he was gone, Potter's wife let out a whoosh of air, spreading a smile across her face. "He's a little cocky, but hilarious just the same. How about some tea?" Potter's wife left the foyer, leaving Draco standing alone. He shifted his feet uncomfortably, not entirely sure what he was supposed to do.

"Weas– "

Er...

"Mrs. Potter, I am here to request something of you," he called from his place at the door, having not moved from it. He hoped she could hear him.

She came in a moment later with a tray of tea and snacks. "And that is?" she asked, placing the tray down onto a table.

Draco avoided eye contact with Potter's wife. "Hermione is... hiding."

"Hiding?" She sounded surprised. "From what?"

He sighed. "Me..."

"Oh, Merlin, what'd you do now?" Potter's wife's question was slow and cautious.

Draco rubbed his forehead uneasily with the tips of his fingers. "I don't have time to explain. Nor do I care to. Knowing the gossip that you women love twittering about, I'm sure she'll tell you all about it soon enough. Right now, she could be at a serious health risk, and I need to tend to her..."

Potter's wife's face paled. She nodded. "Alright..." she said, forcing herself to remain calm, wringing her hands together. "I probably know where she is then."

"I do too, only I don't have access..."

"You came here for access..." She thought out loud.

"I was hoping– "

"I can't," Potter's wife said with a frown. "Only Hermione can grant access, and Hermione alone. I'll send Westen to check up on her." She then called the House-elf that Draco was paying to wait on the Potters hand and foot.

And they waited an agonizing five minutes until the House-elf returned with a very pale looking Hermione who was limp in unconsciousness. Her was arm dripping with a black substance.

Poison.

As his heart began hammering against his chest, Draco hurried to his girlfriend. "Mione..." he whispered, holding back forming tears. "Oh, Mione..." He looked at her arm, inspecting it. It was raw with burns and sticky with the poison.

This was his fault...

Why did he always have to fuck everything up?

Potter's wife had become hysterical. "What's wrong with her?! Malfoy?! You didn't do this, did you?!" She had a hand over her mouth, her eyes were wide with terror.

"Auntie Hermy?" a small voice was heard behind Draco.

"She's fine!" Draco whispered shakily. "She's fine," he repeated to reassure himself. He put his hand into a pocket, fumbling for a potion. "Incorrect potion application," he explained with trembling hands. The potion shook in his grasp. "Wes-Westen, help me..." he pleaded.

"What can I do?" the House-elf responded immediately, eager to do whatever he could to help.

"Tilt her head back as far as you can and pinch her nose."

Westen did as he was instructed to do. Draco slowly, sip by sip, gave her the entire potion, forcing her to swallow each time with a spell. He then asked Potter's wife for bandages, cutting away the blackened arm cuff which had soaked up the poison that was still seeping from her cursed scar with each slow pulse of her heartbeat. He wrapped the magical bandage around her arm to stop the flow.

"She'll be better in a couple of hours," Draco told the audience of the two boys, woman, and House-elf. "We... had a fight..." He held her hand, squeezing it gently. "She got angry and took the potion with her, not realizing how complicated it is to administrate."

"What potion?" Potter's wife asked. "I thought she would know them all. She's like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to them."

"One that I have helped develope... It... removes curse marks." He then exposed his arm to her showing his faded Dark Mark. "Unfortunately, the potion is just about as dark as the curses it removes. If not applied in precisely the correct way, it'll poison you, eventually leading to a slow and painful death if not treated immediately..."

Potter's wife said nothing, staring at her friend with tears in her eyes. "I apologize for earlier," she said after helping Draco get Hermione comfortably set up onto the Potters' sofa. "I really didn't think you hurt her. I was just worried about her, and you looked so... troubled and guilty, I thought–"

"It's fine," Draco stopped her. "I'm used to it. No big deal." He shrugged.

"No, it's not fine. You did nothing wrong..."

Draco leaned over the arm of the sofa where he sat at Hermione's head. "I do not want to talk about this," he said grimly, swiping a carrot stick off the tray of snacks that she had brought out. He bit it in half, crunching on it with slow, thoughtful chews. He gently placed Hermione's head into his lap and brushed the hair from her face.

"Alright then." It sounded like she wanted to say something more, but to Draco's relief, the witch knew when to take a bloody hint. "You can stay as long as you need. It'd be best for her health to not move her until she wakes."

He nodded in agreement. "Your hospitality is appreciated, Mrs. Potter."

She smiled. "You may just as well call me Ginny."

"It's better than Potter's wife," he said dryly, taking another bite off the carrot stick.

*/*

"No, not like that!" James scolded in his tiny voice. "Alby, you're doing it all wrong!"

"Not!" spat the toddler. "Not! Not!"

"If you know of a better way, why don't show your brother it," Hermione heard Draco suggest.

"He's too little."

"Not! Not!"

Hermione opened her eyes to the faint sound of an annoyed groan coming from Draco. "Merlin," she heard him mutter under his breath.

"Watch me, Mista Malfoy!" Hermione shifted her eyes to little James who was blowing a bubble with a magical bubble wand.

"Maltoy!" Albus giggled, spinning around in circles. His own bubble wand that he held firmly in his hand was blurring a yellow ring around him. "Maltoy, wat!"

"What did I say?!" Ginny's sudden snapping voice sent everyone in the room jumping from their skins. "I told you to leave Mr. Malfoy alone!"

"He don' mind, Mummy!" James argued innocently.

"Out!" Ginny pointed to the doorway out of the living room. With that, the two boys took off quickly..

"I just want to show him bubbles!" James shouted when he was well out of her reach. "S'not fair!"

"Not Tair!" Albus agreed in the same amount of volume.

"Shut it!" James yelled at his brother. "Don't copy me!"

Albus screamed then, sending Ginny off to go check on them.

"Oh, God," Hermione moaned. "How long have we been here, and why haven't you slit your wrists yet?"

"Mione...!" Draco smiled down at her in relief, cupping her face into his hands. "You're awake!"

She winced. "My arm hurts... I-I looked at it earlier..." She closed her eyes. "And then... I woke up and it was worse– bleeding. Last thing I remember is hurling my guts out..."

"Instead of attacking your mark, the potion attacked you," he told her.

"So... am I allergic or something?" she asked in confusion.

"No." He looked away. "You didn't give me the chance to explain that there is a certain process that needs to be done for it to work." He smiled faintly, staring at the telly in which was on some children's network. "You're too bloody stubborn," he whispered. "But, I am happy that you're alright." Draco brought her hand up to his lips. "I'm sorry to have upset you, Mione."

Hermione sighed at the soft touch of his kiss. "It's alright," she told him. "I guess I had overreacted. And maybe– " She placed her hand up to his cheek, turning his head so she could look him in the eye. "Maybe I do need you to care for me." Her statement made him lift up an eyebrow, likely surprised that she would say such a thing. "If only just a little bit," she added quickly and softly laughed.

"Hermione!" Ginny gasped. "You're awake!" She leaned over the back of the sofa, grinning widely. "How you feeling? Need anything?"

"I'm fine, Ginny, go sit down. You look exhausted."

Ginny huffed and stood up. "I am," she admitted before sitting in a chair. "You two should stay for dinner," she invited. "Harry will be here any minute, and Westen is about finished with making the meal."

"No thanks," Draco quickly declined, shifting uncomfortably.

"Why not? Don't think you and Harry can make it through thirty minutes in the same room without hexing each other?" Ginny asked jokingly.

"I'm already going to have enough of a time keeping my wand in its place on New Years– "

"You're coming?!" Ginny shrieked. "You're actually coming?!" She eyed Hermione for confirmation and squealed when she got a nod. "Wow! How did she manage that?" she asked Draco.

"A week at the Manor with my parents," Draco informed her blankly. "A fair trade, wouldn't you say?"

Ginny's smile instantly washed away. Her mouth clamped closed and she sent Hermione a look of pity, knowing exactly what had happened at that place. "Oh," she whispered hollowly.

Draco stood up. "I'll be leaving now," he announced. "Kippy's at our place," he said to Hermione. "She'll let me know when you've return." He then made a quick exit without so much as a look back.


AN: Check out the story I wrote about Anne Marie Green and get a very very small glimpse of Scorpius in the future! Look for the story named "The Curse of Anne Marie Green"!

Chapter Text

"Look at this, Scorpius!" Narcissa booped a blue owl puppet to his nose in an effort to distract him. Scorpius paused his high pitched crying just long enough to see what his grandmother was trying to show him. It was not what he wanted though so he went back to his crying.

Narcissa scrunched up her lips. "Are you hungry?" she asked in a sweet tone. "Does Scorpius want some milk?" She conjured up a bottle from the ice box and with a spell, she heated it up to the perfect temperature for him to drink.

"Dah!" he shrieked when she touched it to his lips. He screamed and slapped it away. "Dah!" He shook his arms in his fit.

"What is it, baby?" Narcissa picked him up from the highchair and set him at her hip. "Why is Scorpius so upset?" She actually had a feeling why and hoped everything would sort out soon.

"Still blubbering, hmm?" Lucius asked as he came into the kitchen, checking up on them.

"Yes," Narcissa frowned, straightening the baby's shirt back down that had bunched up under his armpits during his fit. She fought to keep a hold of Scorpius as he threw himself around in her arms, all the while voicing his unhappiness. "He's not normally so fussy," she told Lucius above his screeching. "Did you get to talk with Draco?"

Lucius' face went blank and he gave her a simple shake of his head. "Not at all. He's completely tight-mouthed. I don't doubt he is blaming himself on what happened to Miss Granger this afternoon. He wouldn't acknowledged any of my words." Lucius was now wearing a troubled look. The whole time he spoke, he had kept his eyes on the crying Scorpius. "I am not sure what to do. I gave him another potion, but I doubt it's going to work with this."

"And where's Miss Granger?"

Lucius shrugged and crossed the room to take Scorpius from her. "Perhaps still at the Potters'."

Narcissa frowned. "I can't stand to see him this way. It pains me so."

"I know, dear," he said softly. "It pains me too."

"I thought he was over all that. I thought the bond-"

"It takes time, Narci." He tapped her arm gently. "He's strong though and he's made it this far."

She nodded and kissed the baby on his head. "I just hope she can fix him."

Lucius stood in silence for a moment, lost in his thoughts before he began striding out of the kitchen.

"Where are you going?" Narcissa asked, trying to keep up.

"Floo the Potters! See if she's still there, if she is, tell her to get over here!"

"Scorpius can't be with him right now, Lucius!" she shrieked, hurrying behind Lucius to stop him. "Draco is-"

"They will help him!" he growled in a tone that told her he was in no mood to be argued with. "If you care about our son, you will do what I say!"

Narcissa skipped to a halt, watching her husband continue his way to Draco's part of the Manor. She hadn't heard him use that tone in years. And that meant that whatever he was thinking about was serious.

Her boy was in trouble.

Pursing her lips, she rushed to catch up with him and called up Toogy.

*/*

Hermione was itching to get home. Her friends were asking her far too many questions that she just wasn't up to explaining right now. They didn't know a lot of things about her, as they had had their own problems to deal with after the war ended, and she had not wanted to add to their lists at the time. She could very much enlighten them on the terrors she often experienced, but she had survived this long without having to, why worry them now? They worried about her enough as it was.

"Is it bugging you that much?" Harry asked. "I thought you were pretty accepting of the mark now. Like I am of mine." He brushed his fingers over his scarred hand.

"I just... When I saw that Draco's Dark Mark was faded, I asked him for help," she explained truthfully.

Ginny's brows furrowed. "That's understandable. But the whole process sounds incredibly painful."

"It is. The potion poisons the cursed skin cells, one layer at a time."

"Why would you want to go through that?" Harry asked incredulously.

"I-" Gosh, she really didn't want to tell him the honest truth only to increase their concern for her. They didn't need to know why she really wanted to treat her scar. "The potion is in experimental phase. I was interested in assisting with testing it."

Harry folded his arms across his chest, exhaling slowly. "And what if it backfires, Hermione?"

"It's... safe," she mumbled, setting her eyes down at the hands in her lap.

"It nearly poisoned you to death today!" Ginny pointed out in a shriek. "Not safe at all!"

"Only because I wasn't thinking! I shouldn't have done what I did!"

"And he should have explained every detail to you before even popping the stopper," Harry snarled under his breath.

"Oh, Harry," she scolded hurtfully. "Don't blame this on Draco, please. He's only been trying to help-"

"But you're testing his potion," Ginny interrupted. "So how is he helping you?"

"Yeah," Harry quickly caught on to his wife's point. "How is that helping you?"

Hermione stood up, not wanting this to continue any further. "I can't do this now, guys. I'm tired. I just want to go home and see my kid. Please?"

Harry stared at her, measuring her words before Ginny sighed and said, "Alright, Mione." She gave Hermione a hug. "We're here though if you need us."

"Yeah," Harry added. Hermione did not miss the wary look he gave her, but she nodded.

"Hello? Mr. and Mrs. Potter?" The flames at the floo flashed blue, and they saw it shape into a House-elf's head.

"Toogy?" Hermione recognized Draco's personal elf.

"Oh, Miss! You're here, good!" Toogy sounded relieved. "Please, Miss, would you come to Master's manor?"

"Malfoy Manor?"

"Yes, Miss. Please?"

Hermione made her way to the flames, bending down to talk with Toogy. "Is everything alright?"

Toogy blinked uneasily. "It is nothing that Toogy does not think Miss Granger can't handle," she said carefully.

"I'll be right there."

"Oh, thank you, Miss!" Toogy's face then disapparated from the flames.

Hermione stood back up to her feet, taking a handful of flooing power from the pot on the mantle. "I should go see what is wrong," she told her friends who agreed. "I'll be fine," she assured them with a smile. "Draco's really great to me." She then stepped into the floo. "Malfoy Manor!"

Hermione landed inside the Malfoy's flooing room. "Toogy?" she asked, searching her eyes for the elf.

Someone appeared right in front of her, making Hermione jump back a little. She clutched her chest, breathing hard.

"Miss Granger," she was greeted sullenly .

"Mrs. Malfoy!" Hermione gasped. "You gave me a fright!"

Mrs. Malfoy frowned slightly. "I do apologize. The matter at hand is a bit urgent."

"What's wrong? Is it Scorpius?!" A sudden sickness flooded over her.

"It's Draco," she informed distantly.

"What about him?" Hermione asked. The information didn't cause her pulse to slow. "Is he okay?!"

Mrs. Malfoy's eyes saddened. She shook her head. "Come, please, Miss Granger and you shall see."

Hermione followed Draco's mother through the Manor that must have been half the size of Hogwarts. All the while, her mind wandered nervously on what could be wrong with Draco. She was finding that it was hard to breathe and her stomach was started to bubble with worry.

Finally, Mrs. Malfoy stopped at a closed solid black door with a grey handle and opened it with a wandless spell casting. The door swung inward, revealing a large bedroom decorated in light grey and black accents. Everything was rather plain and solid, with no patterns whatsoever.

By a large bay window, a black chair faced out into the dark night. Draco was slouched into it, unmoving. Mr. Malfoy stood next to him with a screaming Scorpius in his arms.

"What happened?!" Hermione hurried across the room and took her baby from older wizard. "It's okay, Scorpy," she whispered. "Mumma's here." She faced Draco, hitching her breath at his sight.

He honestly looked like he had some sort of illness. His cheeks were sunken in and his eyes were baggy. He stared off in space and took a drink from a bottle that Hermione had first failed to notice due to her being stunned by his condition.

"He's been like that since he came here a couple hours ago," Mr. Malfoy informed. His voice cracked a little.

"Please help him," Mrs. Malfoy pleaded. "Lucius thinks you can."

"I don't know how-"

"Because of the bond, you have the power to help him," Lucius told her coolly. "And you best do whatever it takes."

Hermione took a breath. "Alright..." she whispered shakily, not sure what exactly she was frightened of - Mr. Malfoy's dark order or Draco's current state of health.

In the next moment, she watched Draco's father approach his wife at the door and then she was left alone with the troubled Draco and her crying baby.

The first thing Hermione did was get rid of the bottle of whatever he had chosen to drink. She didn't recognize it, but whatever it was, he certainly didn't need another sip.

Draco didn't appear to notice when she had gotten rid of the drink. "Draco...?"

He swallowed and blinked, but otherwise did nothing to make Hermione believe that he knew she was there. She sat Scorpius in his lap. Her son's wails quieted some and he clutched onto his father's shirt, pulling himself up to stand.

Hermione knelt in front Draco, between his spread out legs and grasped onto the arms of the chair. "Draco...?" she tried again. "It's me, Mione," she whispered.

"Derbla...?" Scorpius asked in a sniveling voice. He touched Draco's cheeks with his tiny hands.

Hermione lifted the baby up into her arms and climbed in Draco's lap, linking an arm around his neck. He set his hand on her back, and she smiled as he rubbed it.

"What's wrong," she asked against his lips as his bitter breath clouded her face. He didn't answer. Nothing moved besides his caressing hand. "Come on," she begged gently. "Tell me." Then she kissed his cheek, hoping to arise something out of him.

His eyes focused on hers, searching. For what, Hermione didn't know, but his expression remained in stone. Blank.

"Derbla!" Scorpius wailed and crashed his forehead into Draco's chest.

Hermione patted Scorpius' back. "He's okay," she lied to her son. "Please, tell me, Draco..." she whispered. "Draco, talk to me," she murmured into his ear.

Draco's chest heaved as if he was emerging from a long dip into a pool of water, taking a much needed breath. "Make it stop," he begged desperately, as if he was begging for someone to spare his life.

"Make what stop?"

He whimpered and set his chin on her shoulder. He choked back a sob. "Just stop screaming..." he whispered. "Please, stop screaming, Hermione..."

"I'm not-"

His arms wrapped snugly around her and Scorpius in a group hug. "Stop screaming," he repeated through a sob. "I just can't take it anymore!" Hermione was then shoved back so suddenly that she let out a yelp from the abrupt movement. She tumbled from his lap and landed on her backside. Scorpius, who was safe in her arms went completely quiet and watched Draco with his wide baby eyes.

Draco pulled himself up to hurl over the side of the chair and he threw up. His head fell onto the arm and he shook it, painfully moaning the whole time. "Make it stop!" he bellowed angrily. "Stop screaming, damn it!"

Wobbily, Hermione stood up to her feet. "What'd you do, Draco?" she asked in horror.

He didn't acknowledge her, too absorbed in his loud sobbing.

"T-Toogy," Hermione called, and instantly the elf responded.

"Miss?"

"I need to know what he took. What was in that bottle?"

Toogy glanced warily over at Draco. "Master hasn't experienced such torment in a while, but when he is in a great deal of pain, Master uses a very bad bandage for his relief."

"And that is...?"

"Master calls the potion, 'Mundabis'. Master says it cleans his mind..."

"More like wipes it!" Hermione gasped. So, that's why he hadn't been respondent to anyone...

At least until we had touched him...

She eyed her silent son who seemed to be studying his father.

And that meant... they had caused him his current state. He was reliving his guilt... It didn't matter how much she assured him that she forgave him, he'd never believe it...

"How long does it take for the potion to wear off usually?"

"Six hours, Miss."

"He would have been lost in his mind for another four hours?" she asked in shocked.

Toogy nodded slowly. "You have to fix him, Miss. The bond-"

"I brought him out of the daze due to the bond," Hermione explained. "I don't know how to help him now, my touch wasn't helping him before he pushed me away..." She watched Draco continue to sprew up a blackish vomit, whimpering the whole time.

"Get his father," Hermione said suddenly. "He might know more about what's going on. That potion is Dark- and I don't know much about it; maybe he will."

*/*

"Derbla!"

'Scorpius shouldn't be here,' he thought. It didn't make sense. Scorpius hadn't even been around during this time.

Draco scanned his eyes across the dark room. In his search, he found Hermione's body, convulsing to his aunt's torturing curse. Hermione's screams echoed off the walls.

'Oh, God.'

He choked on a sob and looked away, telling himself to keep his eyes still and focused on the floor beneath him. His stomach wrenched up a flood of bile in which he swallowed immediately, grimacing at the after flavour of it.

Draco couldn't even hear the joyous cackling of his aunt - somehow able to have tuned that out. Which made no sense either, because Aunt Bellatrix's laugh was one that could keep him from sleeping at night. Though, not nearly as shuddering as the memory of the Dark Lord's arm draped around his shoulders, with his mocking proud smile, pretending that Draco was his most faithful youth follower, all in hopes that whatever friends Draco had would follow his suit.

But Aunt Bellatrix's laugh was still haunting enough. And he had remembered hearing it that frightful day.

What scared him the most lately was her screaming. Hermione's screaming that is. Draco had a feeling why that was; he didn't like causing torture and he didn't like watching it either. It had been a while since he had stewed about what had happened to Hermione that day in his home. His Analyzer had been able to help him through the events that had happened at the Manor when the Dark Lord reigned. But when he had touched Hermione's mark that morning, it triggered something. Something strong. Something that he just couldn't shake loose no matter how much he tried.

It made him angry and sick to his stomach. It was an odd combination for him. Never before had he had the threat of throwing up while he was also angry.

But the visions just wouldn't go away. Not until he had drank some of his Mundabis potion in order to numb his mind.

But the white cloud of nothing vanished when he heard his son crying. And, at that exact same moment, the screaming had came back, invading his mind. He was stuck in the torment of this memory. It had only taken him a few seconds to realize that Scorpius wasn't really there. Not in this memory anyway.

Thank Merlin for that.

It was like he was half sleeping. It felt like a dream but at the same time, it felt like Draco was also awake. He could hear Hermione speaking to him, begging him to talk and explain what was wrong with him. She also screamed (or rather, his memory of her did), stationed at his aunt's feet thrashing around like a person with epilepsy having a seizure.

All he could see was the dark room of the Manor. But it wasn't the room he had last remembered being in. No, he wasn't in his childhood bedroom where he had settled himself into his favourite thinking chair and consumed the risky potion that he had been so desperate enough to take. Instead, he was standing in the room off the one his family used for dining in. The very same room where the Dark Lord had claimed as his own when he had taken over Draco's home.

Deep within his mind, Draco knew what was going on: he was being forced to relive that horrifying moment in his life. The one memory he knew haunted Hermione about every day. Today, it was haunting him too. He was experiencing a new fear. One that he had never had before.

That bloody Mark. If she hadn't been cursed with it, he doubted he'd even be experiencing this right now. But that wasn't something he couldn't stop from happening.

Then again... maybe he actually could... If anything, perhaps he could stop and end her horror. If he was lucky, maybe he could end his guilt too, killing two birds with one stone. He didn't do this to her, that he knew. But he had not helped her either. Not that he would had been able to. But he hadn't even tried to help her. He was ashamed of himself for acting so cowardly.

He clutched his aching stomach with a hand and pointed his wand at his aunt. It shook in his hand at his nervousness. Even in his mind, Draco had trouble being brave and sacrificing himself. But he'd changed since that day. His feelings had changed too. And now he'd do anything for her. Even if it meant that he'd flop like a fish out of water, gasping for air - because he had this sudden horrific thought that he wouldn't be able to go on if something happened to her.

He was sure, with all his tortured heart, that he loved her.

He loved Hermione Granger.

"Leave her alone," he whispered in his effort to be brave. He had intended for his voice to sound much stronger than that - it had failed him miserably. "I won't let you hurt her anymore! I won't let anyone hurt her!" he squeaked fearfully.

Aunt Bellatrix's lips curled up in an amused sneer and she ceased the torture that she was doing to Hermione. Draco wet his lips uneasily. He was no match for her, but if he could save Hermione, it'd be worth it.

"Anything for the Mudblood, Draco?" the evil witch asked cruely.

"Anything," he confirmed seriously, and she burst out into mock laughter.

"Even death?!" she screeched madly.

Draco's eyes narrowed determinedly and then all he saw was a blinding, green light. He closed his eyes from the brightness and, not even a full second later, Aunt Bellatrix's high pitched cackling abruptly stopped.

"You're not allowed to hurt her anymore," he commanded to the lifeless body. "She's mine now."

The next moment, he opened his eyes, finding himself half naked in bed, surrounded by watchful people. Hermione lay next to him, biting her lip, unsure what to make of him. His parents stood at the foot of the bed, eying him hopefully, and Scorpius sat on his chest with a tear stained face, smiling down at him. A blanket draped over his and Hermione's bodies, and he felt the warm, welcoming heat of her bare arm against his.

"Derbla!" the boy cheered, bouncing in excitement.

Draco placed his hand up to Scorpius' sticky face and brushed aside a straying tear with his thumb. "I'm alright," he assured the boy before Scorpius collapsed down to hug him, chest to chest.

"Mmma!" Scorpius shrieked happily.

"He's fine!" Mother breathed out in relief. "Your idea worked, Luci!"

"Indeed," Father's voice drawled, hiding his own relief.

Draco felt a sharp slap hit his naked shoulder. He turned to his left, seeing Hermione's eyes glowing with anger. "Ouch!" he hollered, gaping his mouth in disbelief.

"You take that potion again, Draco Malfoy, and that'll be the least of your worries!" she snapped. "You had us all worried to death!"

He swallowed hard, catching the nods of his agreeing parents. "I'm sorry," he sputtered quickly. "I just-"

"Do you really love me?" she asked with a softer tone, startling him.

His eyes widened. How in the bloody fuck did she know?!

"Would you really face death for me?"

Draco set Scorpius between them and slipped out of bed, staring at her. "How did-"

"Well, would you?!" she pressed for an answer, crossing her arms over her chest.

Draco's lip quivered. Would it really matter if he did? She didn't match his feelings and never would, so why was this even important to her?

He raised a hand to his shirtless chest, rubbing it absentmindedly and stiffened himself with an inhale of a breath. "How dare you," he told her coolly. "How dare you invade my mind!"

"Draco," his mother started.

"What difference does it make?!" he hissed. "The only reason she's nice to me is because I knocked her up! No other reason at all! I was an absolute prick to her! Even if I changed, I don't deserve her! There are people who treated Hermione decent throughout their entire time of knowing her who don't have the mere chance to be with her, and yet, because of how horrible an ancestor of mine was to someone like her- no different than I had treated her, I am rewarded?! Where is the fairness in that?! What's that teaching our children?!" His chest huffed up and down from his outburst. He pursed out his lips when no one made a motion to disagree with him. "Or maybe... this is a punishment," he said, glancing at the near-naked Hermione for a mere second and quickly looking away as shame coursed through his entire body. "Perhaps I'll never really have you," he whispered.

"Draco-"

"Just spare me the pity!" he snarled at her. "I don't want it! I know that you could never love me!" And, before anyone else could say anything, he disapparated away, too embarrassed to face her now that she knew how he felt about her.

He screamed out in pain as tears squeezed from his closed eyes. He fell to his knees, puffing for air. Draco clutched onto his wrist and whimpered when he realized his hand was bleeding.

"You idiot!" He heard someone hiss as he fell all the way down to the ground in a heap. "Essence of Dittany, Draco," the same voice said hurriedly. "Do it now, boy!"

Draco was getting weaker by the pump of each pulse. He grit his teeth, gathering up all his strength to crawl to the drawer where the brew was stored in. He only got a couple of feet before his arms gave out beneath him.

"Do it or die, Draco! Draco...! Draco?!"

The voice faded from his coherence as his eyelids fluttered close. The pain was lessening. It was a welcoming sensation. His breathing became laboured as he found it difficult to inhale. He shut his eyes, embracing the weight lifting up from his chest.

"You idiot!" The words were repeated into Draco's head a second time that night. It wasn't from the same person as last time though.

Potter...?

Pressure was applied to his palm and the pain made him fly his eyes open, bringing him out of his weak, cloudy daze. He howled from the agony. "Fuck!"

"I thought you were smarter than that; self preservation, isn't that a Slytherin quality?"

"Stop!" Draco moaned and tried wiggling away from his childhood enemy. Potter was dabbing his hand with a cloth.

"Hold still, Malfoy!" he ordered. "Or I'll be forced to bind you!"

"You're hurting me!" Draco whimpered.

"Well, you're the one who apparated without a wand!"

"I've done it-" Draco paused to hiss as Potter pressed into his splinched wound again. "-before..."

"Have you?" Potter asked with a bit of surprise layering his question.

Draco blinked back tears of pain and swallowed a sob. He nodded. "Though, only in p-practice and with a very cl-clear mind."

Potter released his hold and leaned back from where he had been kneeling over Draco. "Why did you do it this time? I am assuming that today wasn't the best of days to perform such a practice, right?"

Draco turned his head from the serious look Potter gave him. He stared up at the ceiling and closed his eyes in shame for a second. "No," he agreed, finding his actions of that day incredibly stupid and childish. "Definitely not one of my best decisions. Though, probably not my worst either," he said half-jokingly.

He heard Potter chuckle. "We all have a bit of every house in us, don't we?" Potter then stood up to his feet, sighing. "You should be fine now. I'm no Healer, but I've cured a few splinch wounds before. It shouldn't scar. Use your wand next time you're in distress, alright?"

Draco nodded, dumbfounded over how friendly Potter was acting toward him. "Wait a minute..." Draco said slowly. "How'd you even get here?" He was suddenly aware Potter was in his Potions lab.

A large grin crept across Potter's face. "Wouldn't you like to know," he said cockily before taking his wand from the sleeve of his Muggle sweater and disapparating away.


AN: I know everyone has been eager for the parties to start, but this scene came to me, and I felt it was best to show just how strong Draco is feeling about Hermione now. :) So, sorry about that, but I hope you enjoyed this chapter just the same.

Chapter Text

"You embarrassed him," Mr. Malfoy growled at Hermione.

"Apparently so..." she said, chewing on her lip in worry. She rubbed Scorpius' back to comfort him since he had started whimpering as soon as Draco had disapparated.

"Even Scorpius thinks so," Mr. Malfoy added vindictively.

"Lucius," Mrs. Malfoy scolded him warningly. "Don't add salt to the wound."

"You do agree though? He was fine until she confronted him with a personal question that he was obviously not comfortable answering quite yet." Mr. Malfoy curled up his lip, sneering at Hermione. "For someone so insanely smart, you surely know how to overlook body language."

"Excuse me, sir, but I was stunned!" Hermione shrieked. Scorpius' whimpers turned into wails, upset by the raise of her voice.

"Lovely," Mr. Malfoy muttered. "Another thing that you're incapable of handl-"

"Enough, Lucius," Mrs. Malfoy spoke up as she walked around the bed.

"You know I'm right-"

"I mean it," Mrs. Malfoy told him with a no nonsense tone to her voice, making him gape at her. "You're not helping matters any," she added gently.

Mr. Malfoy grumbled and balled up his fists in annoyance.

"Let us handle Scorpius for the night." Mrs. Malfoy said to Hermione. "Draco and you certainly need a good, long talk."

Hermione sighed and pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. A headache was quickly forming from all the events of that day. She wasn't quite sure what had happened with Draco between the time he had left Ginny's to the time she had seen him in that chair in a daze. He was perfectly okay at Ginny's...

Until he left...

He was upset then. Could there have been a trigger? What were they talking about at the time? The parties, wasn't it? And then Ginny asked Draco how Hermione had talked him into going to their New Year's party. He informed Ginny of the deal then. Ginny was shocked that she had accepted such a deal after what happened at Malfoy Manor...

That was it. That must have been it. Ginny's look of shock followed by pity must have sent him running off.

"What do I do?" Hermione had asked Mr. Malfoy in desperation after telling him about the potion that she had no experience with. He hadn't known anything about the potion either, so he wasn't sure of the cure for its consumption, or if there even was a cure.

"He must have created it himself," he had mused aloud. "It surely explains his behavior in the past."

Mr. Malfoy then told Hermione that she and Draco needed to lay next to each other, skin to skin, as their bond was able to heal him from practically death.

So, Mr. Malfoy set Draco into his bed, and he and his wife stripped Draco down to just his boxer shorts. Then they left momentarily for Hermione to remove most of her own layers of clothing. She called them back in when she was safely under the covers. There, they all waited in bated breaths to see if anything would change with Draco.

"Treat the bond like it is the Room of Requirement," Mr. Malfoy had suggested to her, in which she had nodded, letting him know she had understood what he had meant.

Hermione held onto Draco's hand, speaking to him, coaxing him back out of his tormented mind. She wanted so desperately to relieve his pain. He had suffered so much. He really didn't need to anymore. All she wanted was to ease him; make him happy. She'd do anything if his guilt would just go away. What happened to her was not his fault.

It was at that moment that she had been pulled into his mind, as if she was experiencing memories that he had placed into a pensieve for safe keeping. She could hear his every thought. She could feel what he did. She ached with him, cried with him, and fought his guilt with him.

'It's alright,' she had whispered next to him in the memory. 'I don't blame you. No one blames you for this, Draco.'

'I love her,' he had thought, his statement entering into her own mind. 'I love Hermione Granger.' After that, she felt his anger increase into a rage as he pointed his wand at his aunt. "I won't let you hurt her!"

"Oh, God, Draco!" she had screamed. He didn't seem to hear her. "No! She'll kill you!" Hermione tried stopping him by placing her hand on his forearm but it went through his limb, as if she was just a ghost. Which in a way, she kind of was, now that she had time to think about it.

She had wept into her hands as the green light flooded the dark room. "No!"

"Miss Granger?"

She nodded to Mrs Malfoy, acknowledging the woman. "You're right," she croaked, wiping tears from her eyes. "I do need to talk to Draco." She handed the crying Scorpius off to Mrs. Malfoy, who called upon her husband to take the baby down to his telly room and calm him down.

With one last cold, accusing look at Hermione, he left the room on foot, speaking softly to Scorpius.

"He's always going to hate me, isn't he?" Hermione asked, staring at the closed door he had shut behind him.

"Lucius?" Mrs. Malfoy asked thoughtfully, sitting down on the bed at Hermione's feet. "Well, Lucius doesn't like much of anyone." She chuckled. "He is right though," she said carefully. "That was such a personal question to ask Draco. My son is not one to voice his feelings." She smiled faintly. "It's a Slytherin thing," Mrs. Malfoy added as if that was the only explanation that was needed.

"I think it's just a guy thing," Hermione said with a shrug.

"That too," the older witch said simply. "Nonetheless, your question was incredibly redundant-"

"I wanted to hear him say it..."

"You don't see it in his actions?" Mrs. Malfoy lifted a brow up in doubt. "Once you had disapparated off with that potion, he didn't stop his search until he found you. He went to his father for help, and also the Potters. Then he sat in their house for two hours until you were finally safe to move."

"I know..."

"Then what difference does it make if he can't tell you with his voice?" Mrs. Malfoy asked a bit harshly. "I always thought actions spoke louder than words. My son has changed his life for you. He was raised to consider your blood status no more than an animal's. That alone should say a whole lot about him, Miss Granger." Mrs. Malfoy's eyes filled with tears. She looked away. "He'll say it when you show him that you match his feelings, because he's not going run on false hope. And, Miss Granger, we both know that you match his feelings." Mrs. Malfoy took a moment to tap Hermione's covered leg. "Maybe you should tell him first... He would probably appreciate that very much."

"Do you think so?" Hermione asked uncertainly.

"I know so," Mrs. Malfoy assured her.

Hermione looked away, sighing. "I don't even know where he went..."

"He doesn't have many hiding places, dear. I wouldn't doubt that he's in his Potions lab. He spends a lot of time there."

"Would you show me where that is, please?" Hermione asked, sliding out of bed and dressing herself.

"I sure will."

"Thanks..." Hermione then grabbed her wand and followed Draco's mother down to the dungeons. Draco had been right about it looking different than when she was here during the war. Until today, besides the flooing room, she hadn't been in any area of the Manor other than the Dungeons and the room that Bellatrix had tortured her in. The Manor was a beautiful place though- when evil wasn't living in it, influencing its atmosphere.

Currently, it was brightly lit with a Christmas theme. Warm decorations in all sorts of colours were everywhere. The majority of the colours were silver and green, no doubt chosen strictly by the Malfoys' Hogwarts sorting.

"The elves are terrific decorators," Mrs. Malfoy informed Hermione when she seen her looking at a wreath made from natural organic materials. "There's a couple of Christmas trees that I don't let them trim though as I enjoy decorating a little myself."

"It's beautiful," Hermione said, speaking about nothing in particular. It all reminded her of the overly festive decorated homes that she saw in the Christmas films on the telly.

"Thank you. I spend plenty of time planning it. I change somethings every year, but I always keep certain things. Like the wreaths, I just love them."

"The green ribbons on those seem... unusual," Hermione said. Red ribbons would be much more prettier against the fresh evergreen branches of the wreaths, matching the occasional bunch of holly berries that were tucked into them.

Mrs. Malfoy laughed, but made no comment to that. She stopped at a door that matched the one to Draco's bedroom. "This is it. He designed it himself, so no blaming anything in there on me," Mrs. Malfoy said teasingly.

"I won't," Hermione promised. "Has he always been a fan of black?" She wrinkled her nose at the black door.

The older witch frowned and then she stiffened; all friendliness suddenly vanished. "Not until he took the Mark..."

Hermione swallowed an uneasy feeling that had crept up into her throat when she heard that sentence.

"The Dark Lord may be gone, but the memories of him still linger. Some of us will never forget what his presence did to our innerselves. We may have deflected but we also believe our souls are unrepairable..."

"Oh, Mrs. Malfoy, that's not tru-"

"You aren't going to change our minds," she interrupted Hermione's attempt in comforting her. "So, save your breath." Her tone was soft and gentle, but serious just the same. "Just worry about my boy, alright?"

Hermione nodded. "Okay," she said quietly and then watched the woman walk back up the way they had came from.

When Mrs. Malfoy was no longer in sight, Hermione turned to the door, taking a deep breath and lifting a hand up to knock on the door. No noise came from the other side of the door. She hoped he was even in there. She'd not know where else to look if he wasn't.

She tried again. "Draco? Are you in there?" She felt incredibly stupid; talking to the door. This must have been what Draco was experiencing that one time when she had refused to talk to him after she accused him of telling the world about their bond.

She still didn't hear anything to let her know that he was behind the door. Hermione took out her wand and cast the Alohomora spell. The door budged a bit, but remained shut. Draco had a stronger spell in activation. She'd have to use a better unlocking spell. Hermione searched her brain for one.

She tilted her head, considering one that popped into her mind with no memory of ever hearing of it before now. She tapped the door three times, 'Am Loper,' she thought, casting it wordlessly.

The door slowly creaked open and Hermione stepped inside a massive sized room that would have probably made Professor Snape physically drool if he were still alive. It kind of made her a little envious as her eyes absorbed the many shelves of endless supplies of Potion ingredients. Some she didn't even recognize. It reminded her of a library, except instead of there being rows and rows of books, there were rows and rows of sealed jars.

If Draco was here, it was no wonder he didn't answer her knocking, he probably hadn't heard it. The room was so huge.

"Draco?"

She heard a 'tink' of glass follow her calling of his name. "Go away," he spoke gruffly. He sounded pretty far away.

Naturally, Hermione didn't turn and leave. Instead, she walked the direction in which his voice had traveled from. Finally, the shelves opened up revealing a spacious working area with six long tables all with different projects in the making.

He pretended to not notice her presence, standing behind a table, aggressively grinding up something in a mortar and pestle. He was still only wearing his boxers.

She paused in the center of the open area, unsure if she should go any closer to him. "We should talk," she told him.

"I said to go away," he said, not bothering to look up at her.

She slumped her shoulders, tears welling up in her eyes. "I didn't mean to embarrass you..."

He stopped his grinding just long enough to inhale a breath of air. "I'm not listening," he said rather childishly.

She gasped. "What happened to your hand?!" Hermione hurried to him to inspect the deep gash she just had a glimpse of.

He quickly hid his injured hand behind his back and stepped away from her. "Nothing that warrants you to fuss over me," he muttered. "I'm fine!"

"Oh, gosh! Did you cut yourself on purpose?! I didn't mean to make you-"

"What?!" Draco looked appalled that she would even ask him that. "No, I did not," he snarled and grumbled something under his breath.

"Then what happened?"

Draco heaved a sigh. "Splinched..." he admitted sullenly. "I've been such an idiot today..."

"That makes two of us..."

"Your friend helped me though," he told her, wiggling his fingers and looking down at the wound.

"Friend?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Potter the Hero. I doubt any other of your friends would take the time out of their lives to save a sorry bloke like myself!"

"Oh..." She was slightly confused with the story. "How did he come across you?"

He scratched his head. "Actually, I woke up to him applying EoD to my wound. I don't even know how he got in here."

"No one announced his arrival," Hermione mused. The house elves would have alerted one of the Malfoys if he had flooed over.

"I think he somehow apparated in as he disapparated out when he left. And he was pretty cocky about doing it... I'm only trying to figure out how he got through the wards. They're all still intaçt."

"Harry's not exactly great at breaking through wards..."

Draco shrugged. "My family has the most updated ones out there. Some of them I have even created. Maybe he's recently mastered the skill. Who knows what all goes on in those exclusive Auror meetings."

Hermione hummed doubtfully. Harry was no ward breaker. There was someone on his Auror team that usually did such things. "It's something else, Draco, but we'll have to address that all later. I didn't come down here to talk about Harry's talents."

Draco slunk around to the other side of the table without saying a word. Hermione crossed her arms over her chest in her frustration of him trying to avoid from proceeding with the topic that they needed to discuss. Seeing him reach for it, she snatched the mortar and pestle before he could even gain possession of it.

"I have an order to fill," he informed her persistently.

"Order?"

His shoulders drooped and his eyes fell to the surface of the table. "Someone has to make Saint Mungo's potions..."

"You do that?" She was surprised to hear of this. Not that he wasn't capable, but she had always thought his potion making was purely a hobby, spending most of it coming up with new brews.

He scoffed. "It's hard to imagine anyone with Malfoy blood doing something good, isn't it- I mean, without them getting something out of it in return, right?" He looked at her as if expecting her to agree with his statement.

"Actually, I was surprised because... well, you don't have to work..."

"If I don't, what the heck am I supposed to do with my idle time? If I hadn't done something I probably wouldn't be here to this day. I needed something to take my mind off things. It doesn't always work but anything is better than nothing."

"How did you get hired? Wouldn't they have blacklisted you because of your past?"

He nodded and started picking out the dirt that had accumulated under his nails. "At first they rejected my offer, even after I had said that I wanted to do it without pay..."

"You offered to do it for free? With no catch?"

"None whatsoever," he answered. "They didn't want anything to do with a Malfoy though. But a fellow Potion brewer had overheard my offer and thought they were being a bit foolish for declining my offer. He said that if I made the Potions he would donate them to St Mungo's under his own name. Of course he didn't trust me much either and checked every case over for any sort of contamination, but each one passed his tests. I wasn't trying to poison anyone... I... only wanted help the war victims..." Draco's voice fell down into a whisper at the last thing he said. He pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment before taking a quiet sniff.

"That's really decent of you, Draco," Hermione said, purposely overlooking his moment of escaped emotion. "Especially since you haven't sought any sort of public attention for it."

Draco grunted. "My parents don't even know. You're the only one I've told..."

She leaned across the table to take one of his fumbling hands and squeezed it. "There are things that you know about me that my friends of fifteen years don't even know, Draco."

He lifted his head up, narrowing his eyes in curiosity at her. She gently smiled. "There are many things we're going to have to talk about. I think the bond wants us to... I was sent into your mind. I'm no Legilimens. Never liked the idea of raping; mind raping included."

He hung his head, slightly shaking it. "I don't want to talk about what I can never have..."

Hermione released his hand from hers and stood up straight. "That potion's wiped your sense clean, hasn't it?!" Hermione said harshly, making his head snap up so he could gawk at her for the tone she had used. "Since the day you found fatherhood, all you've stressed to me was how much you've changed. It seems it's not me that you're trying to convince anymore."

He shifted his feet and focused his eyes up at the ceiling to avoid her pointed look.

"Am I correct to assume this?" she asked, demanding an answer.

She watched him swallow and close his eyes. "Perhaps," he managed to say with a shaky voice.

"You have to stop holding everything in, Draco," Hermione said softly. "We trust each other. We care for each other. We're adults and we have to address our issues in order to move forward with our life together."

Draco shook his head stubbornly. "No," he whimpered. "I can't..."

Hermione pursed her lips together in an effort to suppress from strangling him. "Do it for our son then."

"Don't do that," he pleaded. "That's cruel. Don't use Scorpius as a bargaining tool."

"We've been too careless to notice how our ignorant actions have been affecting Scorpius. He's been crying all day today, Draco, because of the way we've been treating each other and the stress we're causing."

"He has?" A look of worry flushed across his pale face.

She nodded grimly. "And it's our fault... He's been completely happy and healthy up until today."

Draco stepped back, leaning onto the table, hanging his head down and breathing hard. His body jerked as he broke down into sobs. "I- can't believe h-how stupid I've b-been!"

Hermione rounded the table and approached him from behind, wrapping her arms around his waist. "It's alright now," she said, kissing his bare skin. They stood like that for several minutes and finally separated when Draco stiffened and made a move to turn around to face her.

"How pathetic am I?" He hastily wiped the tears from his face, scowling. "Crying like a bloody school girl!"

She linked her arms around him once again, touching her nose to his chest, breathing in his manly scent. "You're perfect just the way you are, Draco."

Draco snorted in doubtfulness, but he returned her hug, resting his forehead on her shoulder. A sigh escaped him. "I have no idea what I've done to deserve you, Mione," he whispered as his voice was lost.

"You've done everything you could for me these past few months, Draco. I'd say that's quite deserving," she said, a smile tugging at her lips."And I do love you, by the way," she told him, tightening her hold on him. "So, that's one thing you can stop worrying about."

*/*

Draco went still upon hearing the words, absorbing them into his head and filing them away for safe keeping. Even if he had hallucinated her saying them, he certainly didn't want to forget them.

Had she really said those words? And if she had, were they even true? Or was she taking pity on him? Merlin, if that was the case, he'd rather die. He didn't want Hermione saying that because she felt sorry for him. He wanted her to say it because she really loved him, and for much more than the relationship they've been having.

He pushed her away, holding her at his arm's length, searching her eyes for any sort of doubt she could have in those precious words that he so truly fantasized her saying to him. How long had he been wanting to hear those sweet words come from her? Three weeks? Three months? Longer? He wasn't entirely sure at this point. He had been literally dreaming of this moment for a while, not realizing until just today what it actually meant.

And was it the bond or did it come from true feelings? His feelings for her felt solid and real, but what about hers?

"What are you thinking?" Hermione asked quietly. Her head tilted warily.

Draco clamped his teeth together. He was afraid to speak, fearing his voice would fail him again. It wasn't a very reliable part of his body.

His arms fell to his sides. She couldn't love a weak man... She was a Gryffindor. She needed someone as strong as her. Someone who could put her strength into check.

And he had fucked it all up by sleeping with her and impregnating her with Scorpius, creating the bond. He not only ruined her life, he cursed her.

He turned from her, putting several feet between them. He roared furiously, grabbing a jar off the nearest table and throwing it, shattering it against a stone wall. Pink, thick slime oozed down the wall and pooled up at the floor, covering up the glass shards.

Rancid Pixie Blood: an ingredient used in a potion that managed angry outbursts.

Draco laughed hysterically. 'How ironic,' he thought as he sank to his knees, pulling at his messy, dirty hair in frustration. 'How bloody ironic!'

Soft hands removed his own from his head. Arms then circled around him. "Calm down," her angelic voice whispered, making him ease up a bit at the sound of it. Her lips touched a sore spot of his head, eliminating the pain from his recent abuse to it. She repeated the phrase twice more before Draco allowed her magic to sooth all his pain. Inside and out.

He knew it then. He wasn't sure how. Wasn't sure why. But somehow... someway he knew.

He buried his head into her neck and tears of relief slipped from his eyes. "I love you too, Mione," he choked out, gripping her tightly, not wanting this moment to end. "Merlin, you have no idea how much."

Never in his life had he felt so warm. So nice. So... loved... He'd make damn sure she'd feel this euphoria with him. He wanted her to experience it with him. She needed it.

His Hermione deserved all the love that he could possibly give her.

And so much more than that.

"You look exhausted," Hermione said after they had sat there in silence for a while, embracing each others magical force. She brushed his hair back with her fingers, eyeing him over worriedly.

He suddenly realized how tired he felt. "Long day," Draco muttered, closing his eyes.

"Shall we go to bed then?"

He nodded. "I want to check and see how Scorpius is fairing first though."

"Me too."

With the help of Kippy, they learned that Draco's father was still in his telly room. "But, be very quiet, Master, because he's sleeping," Kippy warned in a whisper, for no actual reason, since they were two floors below where Father was at.

"Thank you," Hermione politely addressed the elf. She slipped her hand into Draco's, smiling. She looked worn out too. They both needed a good sleep.

"Merlin!" Draco practically gasped after stealing a look at his watch for the time. "It's after midnight!"

Hermione shrugged it off. "We'll just sleep in then. We will all need the extra rest after the day we just had."

He nodded at her words and led her up to Father's den. Hermione was having difficulties keeping herself from yawning at this point, sending Draco into a series of his own yawns. "Stop that!" he struggled through a yawn and walked into Father's telly room. The scene caused him to halt his steps, staring across the way.

"Oh my," Hermione whispered, leaning her head against Draco's arm. "How adorable is that?"

"Absolutely," he replied. He lifted up his hand, wishing he had his wand with him. He closed his eyes, thinking of the object he wanted and smiled when he felt a cool hard piece of metal touch his open hand.

"Is that a ClickCap?" she asked in shock, likely surprised he'd own such a device, given who its developer was.

"It certainly is," he answered, pressing the top of the item, causing a click. It looked like a fancy modernized Muggle ballpoint pen, but it wasn't used for writing with. This was a magical object that could capture special events, taking photos (both still and moving) of precious moments like right now.

A holographic arch appeared above the top of the ClickCap, capturing the image of Draco's father and son sprawled out on the sofa in a deep sleep. Scorpius was snuggled in the crook his grandfather's arm, safely resting against the back of the sofa, and Father was slightly snoring, with his head cocked toward the baby, as if Scorpius was the last thing he had seen before he closed his eyes.

"Let's not disturb them," Hermione suggested once the moment was successfully recorded in the ClickCap.

Draco backed out of the room with a tiny grin on his face. He chuckled quietly, closing the door behind them. Everyone thought of his Father being a heartless bastard, but when it came to family, Lucius Malfoy was a sorry sap. Especially when it came to Scorpius.

He felt Hermione place an arm around his waist. She yawned again.

"We'll sleep here tonight," he told her and began the walk to his part of the Manor.

"Oh, please not your dark, depressing room," She wrinkled her eyebrows. "Do you have a more cheery place to sleep in?"

He leaned down to kiss her forehead. "The whole west side of the Manor is mine, I'm sure there's something there that'll suit you, my love."

Hermione smiled, pleased to hear those words. "Thank you."

"Anything for you, Hermione," he said seriously. "Just tell me and it's done."

*/*

A few days passed, letting things go back to normal with the small family. Draco was much happier lately and he could sense the same for his son and girlfriend.

Now he just had to help Hermione survive the Christmas holiday with his parents.

"Okay, you really need to relax," Draco said from his place in the rocking chair. Scorpius sat in his lap, sucking on one of the chew toys Hermione had bought him. They had been watching Hermione skitter around in a nervous spree, repeating things under her breath as she packed things she thought they would need for their week long stay at Malfoy Manor. "If you by any chance forget anything, it's not going to be a big deal to floo over here and get it."

"I'll forget nothing," she said determinedly.

Items were flying everywhere, arranging themselves into a suitcase that she had charmed with an endless bottom. Scorpius hummed in delight. "Pah!" he screeched and threw his chew toy at a passing pair of his shoes, knocking them to the ground.

Hermione set her hands to her hips. "That wasn't funny!" she snapped at Draco when she noticed them on the floor.

Draco laughed in disbelief, caught off guard by her accusation. "It wasn't me! That was Scorpius."

"Sure it was." She rolled her eyes and went back to work.

"Nice aim," Draco complimented his son, tickling his foot. "Who taught you that, chomper?"

Scorpius giggled and squirmed from the tickling. "Gah!" He pointed to his chew toy.

"Ah, you want me to get that so you can make your Mumma mad at me again?"

Scorpius grinned mischievously. "Gah!"

"Forget it. I make your mother mad enough without you butting in!"

Scorpius puckered out his bottom lip and turned his head to Hermione. "Ah!" he cried pathetically. "Ah! Ah!"

Hermione paused her packing to see what he was crying about. "What is it, Scorpy?" she asked hurriedly. "Mumma's really busy!" Her eyes darted around the room before they went back to Scorpius who was pointing to his chew toy. Hermione huffed. "Draco, you said you would look after Scorpius while I packed!" She levitated Scorpius' requested item back to him. The baby cheered happily, snatching it out of the air and sticking the edge of it into his mouth.

"He's just going to throw it again," Draco warned her simply. She hadn't heard him, having gone back to her task. Sure enough, not even three minutes later, Scorpius flung his toy at a floating nasal aspirator, smacking it out of his mother's magical spell. It flung onto the bed.

"Unfortunately, that must go," Draco told his son and pulled his wand out his shirt.

"Bah!" Scorpius protested and went to grab at Draco's wand to stop him.

Draco saw it coming and held his wand out of the baby's reach. "No, Scorpius," Draco scolded him. "This is mine." He then flicked the wand, sending the nasal aspirator into Hermione's suitcase.

Scorpius scrunched up his face unhappily. "Mah!"

"Oh, you're fine," Draco said dryly.

"Mah!" Scorpius repeated at the top of his lungs making Draco wince.

"Good lord!" Hermione gasped, staring at Scorpius, who burst into tears and held out his arms, gesturing her to come pick him up. "What's wrong with him?!" she asked, hurrying over and doing exactly what he wanted.

Draco grunted in amusement as his son 'miraculously' quieted down when Hermione hugged him to her, comforting him. "He was trying to keep the nasal aspirator from being packed up. He got upset when I interjected."

Hermione gave Draco an odd look.

"What?"

"You must have misunderstood," she said, setting Scorpius at her hip. "Or you're just messing with me, to which I am in no mood for right now, Draco."

"Misunderstood?" Draco was dumbfounded. "I didn't misunderstand Scorpius for a second, Hermione."

"For him to sabotage my packing? Scorpius is not capable of doing something like that just yet." She had found Scorpius' chew toy and gave it back to him then went back to her packing.

"I don't know why you think he can't." Draco crossed his arms over his chest with his wand in one hand. He leaned back into the chair, watching his drooling son closely observe the objects that Hermione sent back to packing.

"I'm being realistic, Draco!" She huffed. "Magical kids aren't capable of doing such things until about ten months."

"Scorpius may just be a tad bit advanced then," Draco advised as Scorpius threw his toy for a third time. This time at a winter hat.

Scorpius hated shoes. He hated nasal aspirators. But most of all, Scorpius couldn't stand wearing hats.

If what he was doing wasn't sabotage, Draco didn't know what was.

Chapter Text

"Well, this is it." Draco set the suitcase on the floor of the Malfoy Manor's flooing room. "Nervous?"

Hermione inhaled a breath and let it out slowly. "I'll manage," she said, jiggling Scorpius to soothe his cries from the flooing. He was getting better about it lately, slowly adjusting to the feeling of having his air sucked out of his lungs.

"Best to hold your breath next time," Draco informed his son, squeezing his tiny shoulder. He thought Scorpius was now smart enough to understand what that meant.

"Derbla!" Scorpius wailed. He took his hand out of his mouth and touched an eye with a wet finger.

"Oh, there's Grandmother's little baby!" Draco's mother said in excitement. She made a silly face at the baby, making him grin.

"He's a bit cranky today," Hermione warned Mother as she handed off Scorpius to her.

"Does Scorpy need some sleepy time?" Mother asked, gently bopping Scorpius' nose with her index finger.

"Dah!" was his reply. He put his entire fist into his mouth and began to whine.

"Oh, dear," Hermione said and snatched up the suitcase that sat at Draco's feet. She flung it up and set it onto a table to rummage through. "He just had his teething ring right before we left!" She dug through the suitcase, looking for another, creating a racket as she shoved an abundance of items around.

"He's started this new game," Draco explained to his mother and filled her in on the details of Scorpius' sabotaging stunt. Mother tilted her head questionably at Scorpius, who sucked on his hand, looking completely innocent.

"He was not sabotaging my packing," Hermione told Draco firmly. She smiled in triumph and pulled out a blue chew toy that looked similar to a tooth brush. "It's not his biscuit shaped one, but hopefully he won't mind." She then cast a cooling charm on it and gave it to Scorpius who immediately started gnawing on it.

"Ah!" he wailed out in pain. His lips curled up in disgust as if he had just tasted something awful. His eyebrows wrinkled. "Bah!"

"He's cutting a tooth," Mother said sympathetically, sticking a finger into his mouth to feel along his gums. "It's a sharp one, I can feel a bit of the tip of it."

Scorpius screeched in pain and turned his head, swinging his arms out at his grandmother. "Ah!" he screamed.

"Chew on your toy, Scorpius," Draco instructed him. "It'll make it feel better."

Scorpius shook his head violently. "Bah!"

"Oh," Hermione moaned, frowning at Scorpius. "He wants his other one. It must work better. My poor little baby."

"You could try transfiguring this one," Mother suggested, conjuring up a cloth and dabbing at the drool that drooped out of Scorpius' mouth. He tossed and turned in her arms, grunting in agony. With his free hand, he tugged at his hair.

"Wonder where he gets that from." Hermione glanced at Draco a moment before doing what Mother had suggested.

Draco sighed guiltily and removed his son's hand from his head. "Don't do that, son," he spoke softly and kissed the tiny hand.

Hermione held out the transfigured device to Scorpius and earned a strange look from him. "Doohah?" he questioned tearfully, eyeing the item.

"It's just like the other one," Hermione said coaxingly, wiggling it for him to take.

Scorpius shook his head wildly and he swatted at it. "Bah!"

Hermione exasperatedly blew a stray strand of hair from her face. "He knows it's not the real deal."

Scorpius wailed and dove his head into Mother's chest. "There, there, little one." Mother rubbed his back.

"Alright, I'll just apply the Omileoil then. That'll soothe his aches."

Draco snorted. Scorpius didn't like the taste of the oral numbing agent and he knew the boy heard Hermione because Scorpius clenched Mother so hard that she gave out a small yelp.

"Scorpy, sweety," Mother murmured painfully and tried to pry his hands loose from her chest.

Someone tutted from across the room. Father was shaking his head at his place in the doorway. "Grandfather has come to fix everything for you, Scorpius," he said, sweeping into the room, slightly grinning.

Scorpius lifted his head up to his grandfather's voice. "Ah!" he whimpered, biting his finger, showing the man his pain.

"Yes, I know," Father told him, petting Scorpius' soft pale hair. "Grandfather knows exactly what takes care of Scorpius' pain, doesn't he?"

Scorpius nodded. "Gah!"

"Oh, but your parents would disapprove," he said, turning his head from the boy and looking out the corners of his eyes at him.

"Bah!" Scorpius then grunted eagerly.

"What is it, Father? What will soothe his pain?"

"Yes, at this point, we'll do anything to ease his pain," Hermione said in desperation.

Father nodded, smirking a bit. "Of course you would." He took out his wand from his grey dress robes. With an elegant wave, something appeared in thin air and hovered in front of Scorpius who now wore a huge, happy smile.

"An ice cream cone?" Mother said.

Father tilted his head. "That's what it appears to be," he said craftily, watching the baby suck the top off it.

"What is it really?" Hermione asked in curiosity.

"Let's not ruin the fun," Draco advised, tossing his head to their happy son. If Scorpius knew it wasn't really ice cream, who knew how he would react. Besides, knowing Father, it was probably a healthy alternative; like frozen yogurt or something. "It doesn't matter right now, does it?"

"Hmm, I guess not," she distantly agreed. Draco could tell that she was eager to know what her son was really consuming though.

"You may as well get yourselves settled in, Draco. Your mother's been positively ecstatic for this week since the moment you accepted the invitation." Father's eyes shifted to Hermione who stiffened but stared up at him, letting him know she didn't find him at all intimidating. "You know where to find me if you have anymore problems that need addressed," Father said and made his exit.

"Your grandfather is so smart!" Mother whispered to Scorpius, kissing him on his temple.

"Gah!" Scorpius agreed with a mouthful of his treat. His eyes blinked tiredly. He was ready for a nap but he was determined to finish his entire snack before doing so.

"Will he be alright with you for a while?" Draco asked his mother.

"Of course he will." Narcissa kissed Scorpius again. He was now gumming at the waffle cone, softening it up enough to consume. "I'll get him all cleaned up and then read to him until he falls asleep."

"Thank you. I'm going to show Hermione our room then."

"And hopefully I'll remember the way to and from it," Hermione spoke up, laughing lightly.

"Oh, you'll have no problems," Draco said. "I'm sure."

Toogy popped in then, taking the suitcase off the table. "Everything is now ready, Master," she said a bit breathlessly. "Just as you wished, sir."

Draco tried ignoring the irritated roll of Hermione's eyes and nodded. "Thanks, Toogs."

"Toogy would be pleased if Master would let her know when he wants something again," Toogy said and cracked away with the suitcase.

"You didn't need to put that poor creature to work just because of me!" Hermione scolded Draco, crossing her arms over her chest.

Mother began humming not so innocently and gave her son an amused smile. She shifted Scorpius in her arms. The baby yawned in his tiredness. He didn't seem to pay any notice his mother's outburst, which Draco was grateful for.

"Let's get you cleaned up." Mother then slipped out of the room with Scorpius, leaving Draco and Hermione time to themselves.

"Well, let's hear the excuse," Hermione prompted.

"Toogy... offered?" Draco explained uncertainly.

Hermione's eyebrows flew up to her hairline. "Did she?" she asked doubtfully.

Draco sighed. The purpose of this week long stay was to show Hermione that the Manor is not some evil place. His intentions had been for her to fall absolutely in love with it so that maybe one day he could coax her into living here. Everything had to be perfect for her, and since Toogy was a perfectionist, she was ideal for the job.

The Gordin Manor was just so... primitive compared to here, and frankly, Draco was tired of having to get all dressed up just to go to his Potions lab to do a quick brewing. Often he'd get an idea in the middle of the night and it was too much trouble to deal with it at his current residence.

Besides, everything here was a hundred times better.

"I've been neglecting her—"

"Neglecting?!" Hermione shrieked.

"Yes," he said, narrowing his eyes. "As much as you'd like to think you know everything about House-elves, you don't."

"They're slaves!"

"They are beings who strive to please their masters. The more work they do, the more happier they are. It's insane to think about it from our point of view, but some creatures are strange like that. Look at dogs, they are incredibly loyal and eager to please. Some breeds need a job, otherwise, they'll get bored and unhappy. House-elves are very similar to them. You've insisted that I do everything myself, and because of that, Toogy's been feeling sad lately. She's supposed to be a part of my life and has been feeling like I've abandoned her," he paused as Hermione's face softened, considering his words. "How do you feel when you feed Scorpius and care for him?"

"Good. It makes me happy to tend to his needs, and I feel nice when he smiles at me after I do something that he likes."

Draco nodded. "House-elves are no different. Except the feeling that you get is much more greater for them."

"Oh, come on!" She scoffed. "That's hardly the same! I'm not my son's slave!"

Draco lifted an eyebrow. "You tend to his every need and desire."

"Not his every desire," Hermione argued.

Draco wanted to laugh. She didn't realize it, but she actually did do whatever Scorpius wanted. She was completely blind to the boy's attempts for her attention and demands. Every time Draco pointed it out to her though, she'd claim Scorpius wasn't able to do such things just yet.

'He is just a baby with needs.'

"I have to give Toogy a job," Draco insisted. "It's my duty. If you'd study them more you'd understand their nature better. Toogy's been my House-elf for years, we're more friends than anything."

"Why don't you set her free then and pay her for her work?"

"She's bound to me. I can't—"

"Dobby said you just have to give them a piece of clothing."

"Dobby wasn't a bound elf, Hermione. Not by blood, anyway. Elves bound by blood are different. I'm a part of her; my blood circulates through hers. She feels me. She's able to know when I'm sick, dying, angry, happy— all that. It's sort of like the bond you and I have. Such elves are special, and if treated decently, they'll be loyal to you forever— without even having to threaten them into doing it. House-elves with masters consider themselves lucky, but blood bound House-elves are considered even more luckier, especially if they have a decent master."

Hermione looked at an old portrait on the wall, giving that a thought over. "Well... when you put it that way..."

Draco grinned in both relief and success.

"But, that doesn't mean they should have to punish themselves if they don't follow one of your—"

His smile quickly disappeared. "Have you ever seen an elf iron their hands in my presence?!" he demanded, slightly insulted. "I've never abused one! Never! All the House-elves here know that they don't have to punish themselves around me! The only reason elves do that is because their Master has ordered it of them!"

Hermione met her eyes with his. He saw them tear up. "They do that because of a master's order?!" she squeaked in disbelief.

He nodded grimly. "Too lazy to do it themselves. That, or they get off on watching a creature mutilate itself!"

"That's just... barbaric!" Hermione's fists clenched. A single tear slipped from her eyes. "Why doesn't the Ministry do something about it?! They protect the dragons and unicorns, but—"

"Because most of their sponsors own House-elves," Draco cut her off before she had the chance to blow up. "They aren't going to pass a law that'll piss off the richest donors. Most of us may have gotten over the Muggleborn thing, but that doesn't mean we're willing to live our lives without House-elves."

"I have to do something!" Hermione told him, pursing her lips. "It's one thing to own them but to order those poor dears to hurt themselves?! Strictly for the entertainment?! If they don't want to do something, they shouldn't have to! And they shouldn't have to endear pain because of it! They may be eager to please and enjoy pleasing, but they do not enjoy inflicting pain on to themselves!" Her face was red now, and she was huffing from her anger.

"I agree," Draco told her quietly, afraid of speaking much louder. He'd been on the receiving side of her anger before. If she didn't calm down soon, Draco was sure she'd be flooing to the Ministry any moment now.

She stared him down, silent for a few moments, deep in thought. "You do?" Her question was slow and unsure.

He nodded. "It's possible to have a House-elf and not abuse them. Not all of us treat them like animals. They also tend to listen better when they're not terrified of you. They can think much more clearly when they are relaxed."

"Yes," Hermione agreed, appearing to calm down with his reasoning.

"You should start an organization to help them," he suggested.

Her eyes lit up. "Yes, I can bring back S.P.E.W.—"

"No," Draco said firmly. "Not SPEW."

"It's called S.P.E.W.!"

"It spells SPEW, Hermione," he told her bluntly. "People thought it was a joke in school, and their opinions won't change now either. It has to be a name that can be taken seriously. I'll help if you want."

"You really would help?" she asked in surprise.

"I think together we can make a difference for them. They'll still want masters— like I said earlier, they aren't much different than dogs, but we can at least get them some rights and stop the abuse on them."

Hermione's head ducked low. "Your father—"

"Has been trying," he added quickly. After Dobby's sacrifice in saving Potter, Father's eyes opened a little when it came to how he should be handling his House-elves. Mother had warned him many years that he should have treated them better, but he had refused to take her word for it. Father didn't treat his elves as good as Draco or his mother did, but he was much more lenient than he was to be (which didn't mean much).

"Does he still think of me as being dirty?" she asked in a whisper, avoiding Draco's eyes.

Draco stepped up to her, putting a hand onto her shoulder. "Mione, he admires you."

She shook her head. "He doesn't!"

"He's just... not going to let you believe it. It took him years to show how proud he was of me, and I'm his son." Draco kissed the top of her head. "He's a real hard man to please, so don't worry about what he thinks of you. He's grateful of you and your friends. I'm happy to have you as the mother of my son, Hermione, and he may never admit it, but I think he is too. He was always one to value intellect more than anything. I'm sure if you had been a pureblood, he would have tried setting us up when we were children."

She lifted her head up, smiling. "You think so?"

He nodded. "I know so."

Hermione's smile widened, and she leaned against Draco, hugging him. "You sure know how to make me feel better, Draco."

He laughed lightly. "I'm happy I can do it. Shall I show you where we'll sleep now?" He felt her nodded against his chest, and they pulled apart to walk. Their hands found each other, and Draco led his girlfriend to the room he had Toogy set up for her.

Hermione looked around with a confused expression on her face. "Did you have your door recoloured?" she asked him, not completely sure if she was thinking right or not.

He chuckled, amused that she had noticed. Draco didn't answer her, instead, he twisted the doorknob to open the freshly painted white door that it was attached to. He smiled, hearing her gasp as she took in the sight of the newly decorated bedroom. With her mouth at a slight gap of shock, her wide eyes flipped this way and that, admiring the new look of his bedroom. He had eliminated all the dreary colours, exchanging the black and greys for a pinkish tan and white scheme, knowing Hermione would appreciate the warm feminine look.

"It's... beautiful," she whispered, fingering the light rose coloured drapes that were tied back with white curtain ties, which exposed the glass doors that led out to the balcony. "Gosh, Draco," she breathed under her breath. "You didn't have to redo your room. We could have used another..." She looked a little guilty, nibbling at her bottom lip with her teeth.

"This one has the best view," he added quickly. "I don't mind, really. Do you like it?" he asked, knowing that she did, he just wanted to hear her say it.

She nodded, her eyes lit up with delight. "It's much better than the black," she said with a tiny smile.

His stomach flipped a little, pleased with himself for making her gleam at him like that. "Good. Come check out the bathroom then." He gestured her to follow him to the right side of the room where a white door stood, closing off the bathroom.

"Wow...!" She stepped in after him, eyeing the cat structures that the faucets were made out of. Each faucet was a chrome cat standing up on its hind legs. The front legs were extended out, poised in an effort to keep its balance from an over-sized hat on its head. A flower stuck out of the hat which elegantly curled out into the sink. This was where the water came out of when one of the cat's front limbs were adjusted 'off' and 'on' accordingly.

"Were the faucets always like that?" she asked with a tilt of her head.

"Nope. You had a cat, didn't you? I thought you did, anyway, so I took you for a cat person."

Her smile turned sad at the mention of the cat.

"Oh..." Maybe the cat faucets were a bad idea... "I'm sorry... I didn't mean—"

"It's okay," she said quickly. "My mother really liked Crookshanks, so I told him to stay with her during the war." She shifted her feet uncomfortably. "I didn't honestly think I'd be coming back and I knew Mum would take well care of him."

He didn't know what to say, upset with himself for bringing up her sore memories. He sighed. Could he ever do anything right?!

"They are lovely," she assured him, looking at one of the statues. "And it was really thoughtful of you."

He nodded. "I'm glad you like it." He showed her the fancy toilet that had an automatic warming charm on it which kept the tush warm when you sat on it. "It also automatically flushes," he told her.

She laughed. "Some Muggle toilets do that now."

"I know. I wonder if some Muggleborn stole our idea." He winked jokingly before continuing the tour of the large bathroom.

"Draco, your bathroom is as big as your bedroom!"

They were walking down a short stone grey pathway now. The walls and floor had actual emeralds encased into the wall, giving it a little bit of a sparkling twinkle. "Wait until you see the tub then," he said, squeezing her hand.

"Holy..." She sucked in a breath of air when they reach the end of the walk path. "It's like an... old caldarium..."

"And once was used as one..." Draco informed, letting go of her hand so she could circle the tub that was probably the biggest she would ever see in her lifetime. "Many generations ago, an entire Malfoy family bathed in this."

"I can't get over the size," she said in astonishment, her voice echoing off the walls. She had only made it a quarter of the way around the semi oval shaped tub. "It must be sixty feet across!"

"Seventy-seven one way and sixty-eight the other."

"Where's the shower?" She searched for a possible area that could be hiding one.

He smirked. "There isn't one."

"You expect me to bathe in here?" she asked, pointing to the enormous tub.

"If you want to keep clean." Draco laughed at her face of disbelief following his statement.

"Do you have a smaller one?"

"Nope." Alright, that was a bit of a lie. There was actually one about the third of this one's size, but in truth, Draco wanted her to bathe here. He wanted her to experience luxury. He was sure she'd love it.

Hermione sighed in defeat, realizing she'd have no other choice but to use it. "Alright then, I guess it'll do."

*/*

The next day, she sunk into the tub, letting the warm, tranquilizing water touch her chin. She let out a deep sigh, unable to think of another bath that was more perfect than this.

"Dah," Scorpius' request of her attention made her eyes open. He safely floated near her in a swim float. Hermione was going to begin swimming lessons with him soon and had recently started introducing him to deeper water so he could get used to it.

"What, baby?" She took some baby shampoo and lathered his hair. He closed his eyes, knowing what was going to come next.

"Mmbah!" he screeched, spitting out water as she rinsed his hair from the suds. His hand went into his mouth then.

"I'll feed you when I'm through," she told him, checking his hair over closely to make sure all the suds were gone. "We have to get all clean for your Grandmother's party."

Scorpius cooed happily and kicked his feet, sending his swim float to drift away a little.

"I bet you're ready to try some real swimming, huh, Scorpy?"

"Gah!"

Hermione took her wand from the ledge of the tub and magically drove her son back to her. "That'll have to wait for another day." She then finished scrubbing him down while he chewed on a toy duck that used to belong to her when she was a baby herself.

"Having fun?" Draco cheerfully asked, making her jump a mile.

"Merlin!" she gasped. "You give may a fright!"

He chuckled and slipped off his shiny shoes. He leaned over to the side some, hooked a finger at the hem of his sock and pulled it off, then did the same with the other one.

"What are you doing?" she asked in alarm as he reached for his belt.

"Taking a bath," he replied nonchalantly.

She stood up, staring at him. "But I'm not done!"

Scorpius gurgled happily in the background. Draco's eyes set on the boy, and he smiled. "How do you like that thing, chomper?" he asked about the swim float.

Scorpius flapped his arms, slapping at the surface of the water. "Derbla!"

Draco glance at Hermione, giving her a quick devilish look before loosening up his belt. His pants fell to his ankles where he kicked them off.

"Draco, I'm not finished!" she hissed.

"Don't stop on the account of me, love." He carefully unbuttoned his shirt. "I have to make sure I smell all fresh too." He gave her a cocky grin, shrugging out of the shirt. He was now in just his t-shirt and boxers.

Hermione's insides leaped in anticipation of what he was going to have to remove next. There was never a time in which he had been naked where she could resist the temptation of touching and tasting him.

He surprised her by setting himself at the ledge of the tub, dunking his feet and most of his legs into the water. "Relax," he told her, beckoning her to him. "We've little time for such activities."

She nodded in agreement, and sat down beneath him when he motioned for to sit. Draco rested each of his legs onto her shoulders. He ran his hands through her mess of a hair, massaging her scalp. She moaned in delight at the tingling feeling his fingers sent to the area they fixated on.

What an incredibly amazing feeling...

She heard a light snap and cocked her head up to see him applying something creamy and yellow to his palm. "What's that?" It smelled absolutely divine. Sweet and milky.

Draco rubbed a good amount of it between his hands, then, gently, started gathering up her hair into them, smearing it into her hair. "This will help manage your hair tonight. It'll temporarily straighten it." She felt a tickle at the top of her head as he poured a generous amount of the product on it. "I think we'll need a lot though," he added simply.

Hermione sat back, letting her neck nest into him. "Will this bother you?" she asked, suddenly aware of where exactly her neck was resting at. She felt the familiar bulge of him all too well— his thin, silky layer of boxer shorts was the only barrier between them.

"Not at all," he said huskily. "In fact, I'm quite enjoying it."

"Not in front of Scorpius," she scolded him, eyeing the grinning baby carefully. "Why is he smiling like that?"

Draco pulled aside her hair, and brushed his lips up against the side of her neck. "Maybe he wants his father to get lucky?"

She playfully smacked a leg. "Not!"

He laughed. "Alright, time to rinse," he announced. "Close your eyes."

She did. "Ready." Draco doused her with a warm shower of water ejected from his wand.

"Uh oh, it's magic!" he said in mock disbelief.

Scorpius giggled. He liked that song and would dance to it (or really just attempted to, as he couldn't stand on his feet without help yet) whenever he heard it playing. "Derblah!" he squealed, clapping his hands. "Hassah!"

"No, I'm not singing that song," Draco grumbled.

"Oh, I think you should," Hermione agreed with her son.

"Watch it now, Mione." He tugged on her hair gently. "You're very vulnerable right now."

"I've got my wand still," she pointed out, holding it up.

"Expelliarmus?" he teased her, raking his hands through her hair.

"How's my hair?" Hermione asked, afraid of the answer.

"Extraordinarily lovely," he murmured, burying his nose into a bunch of it and inhaling the sweet scent. "It's much straighter than normal. You'll be able to dress it nicely."

"Oh, good," she sighed. "I'd hate to look a mess tonight. I'm sure there will be lots of fashionably dressed people here."

"You'll be the most ravishing one in the room tonight," he said, conjuring up a hair brush and running it through her hair in slow, delicate strokes. "I promise you that."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm sure," she replied sarcastically.

"We'll just have to wait and see, hmm?" Draco swung a leg over her head and slipped in the water next to her. He kissed her bare shoulder, sending her nipples to stiffen.

"Erm... Draco...?" She closed her eyes, groaning as his tongue circled around the mark of their bond.

His lips found the corner of her mouth. "Yes?" he addressed innocently.

"There's no time...!" Hermione struggled to say. She jumped a little as his hand slid down to the heat between her legs "Oh...!"

Why did that have to feel so good?

"How right you are," he drawled, whispering against her ear, lightly nibbling on the lobe of it. "Unfortunately." With a seductive flick of his tongue, he separated from her and conjured up a bottle of body wash. "But there's always another time, babe. I'm a patient man." He wiggled his eyebrows before squeezing a bit of his spicy body wash on a bathing sponge.

*/*

Hermione shook her sweaty hands. She was nervous. Other than the Yule Ball, she had never been to such a fancy event, and Ginny had been so encouraging (not) when she had to point out the Yule Ball was probably nothing in comparison to a Malfoy party.

"Your dress is fine," Draco assured her for the tenth time in just twenty minutes. He tightened his tie to his dress robes. Tonight he wore light grey with a darker grey shirt underneath.

Hermione was wearing a green backless dress with white lace that wrapped around her waist and the dress's hems. Its sheer sleeves ran past her wrist, narrowing to its end at the beginning of her ring fingers.

Draco approached her from behind, eyeing her reflection in the body sized mirror. "Your neck's bare," he told her. He reached in the pocket of the pants to his dress robes, pulling out a fancy tin box. "This would look lovely around it."

"Oh, Draco... I can't accept—"

"A gift from your boyfriend?" he cut in and took her hand, setting the box into her palm. "You can't refuse jewelry, Mione, that would just be... unwomanly."

She smiled. "Thank you."

"You haven't even opened it." His eyes briefly fell to down to her hand. "Don't thank me until you know you like it."

"Is it green?" she asked half-jokingly.

"Open it and see."

Hermione lifted the top back. Inside was a round ruby pendant. She took it out, discovering that it was hung on a silver necklace. "It's wonderful! I love it!" She clutched it into her hand and hugged him. "Thank you!"

"You're welcome. I didn't feel it was right getting you anything with green in it, but I couldn't pass on the silver," he said apologetically. "It looks better with red than gold does."

She nodded and stepped back. "Definitely. Would you put it on for me, please?"

Draco took the necklace and draped it around her. Their eyes connected in the mirror and locked as he blindly fastened the clasp. He then broke their gaze, kissing the back of her neck, sending his hot breath tickling her skin. Goosebumps formed and she shivered. He chuckled, running his thumb along her skin.

"We should go down," she announced regrettably.

"Yes, we should," he reluctantly agreed.

"Isn't he just adorable?!" Mother chirped, speaking about Scorpius, who was dressed in identical dress robes to Draco's, when they had ventured down to the ballroom.

"He doesn't like the shoes, Mother," Draco informed, sliding them off his son's feet and pocketing them. "When it comes to picture time, we'll put them back on," he hastily reasoned with her when she sent him a pouting look. "You know he'll just kick them off and lose them."

"Hmm, excellent point," she said.

"Draco, someone's at the floo," Father announced from his spot at the bar, having just been informed by his House-elf.

"Alright, I'll take care of them then." Draco apparated to the flooing room to greet the guest. He didn't have time to see who it was because a large fist flung out at the precise moment of his apparition, popping Draco in the face. He stumbled back, holding his face in pain. Blood seeped from his nose. "What in the bloody hell?!"

"You're a fucking hypocrite, Malfoy!" a voice snarled.

"Nice of you to make it, mate," Draco muttered, wincing in pain.

Chapter Text

Grunting, Draco wiggled his nose with a hand. "I think you've broken it."

"It's a well deserved break," Gregory muttered. He removed his wand from the blue dress robes he was wearing. "Move your hand," he said, stepping up to Draco. "I'll fix it."

Draco turned his body from him. "Like hell!" he snapped. "I remember the last time you tried fixing a bone break!"

Gregory lowered his wand slightly. "I'll have you know that I've a degree in healing now; bones being my specialty."

"You don't say?" Draco eyed him in surprise. "Impressive."

Gregory tipped his head forward. "I bet it is..."

A flash of blue from the floo made both men look toward the fireplace. Blaise Zabini and his wife, Marietta, had just arrived. Their arms were linked, and both were analyzing the scene of Draco holding his nose and Gregory with his wand out.

"Hmm." Blaise's eyebrows rose up in his amusement. "I told you it would be a horrible idea to invite him." He chuckled and removed his arm from the woman next to him. "Shall I assist?" he asked his friends.

"I'm fine," Draco grumbled.

"I can see that," Blaise said dryly. "Well deserved too, if I must say." Gregory nodded an agreement to the statement.

"Alright, Blaise," Draco hissed. "We all know you came here for the drinks, would you mind leaving us to hash this out on our own? Your jokes are not funny right now."

Blaise smirked. "As you wish." He glanced at Marietta for a split moment. "Come." The tone in his voice had changed dramatically into something cold. He then began walking before even waiting for a response from her.

Marietta glared at the back of Blaise's head. Her lips pursed out for a split second before she relaxed them, and made to catch up with him. She did not speak a word to Gregory or Draco, but that wasn't unusual for her either because she hardly spoke at all.

"Why don't they just separate already?" Gregory said, eyeing the empty doorway where Marietta had disappeared from.

"Beats me. They completely hate each other, and I'm sure such a relationship is not helping their daughters any."

Gregory's eyes widened a little. "Do you think it's because of that? All the daughters and no sons? Is Blaise bitter over not having an heir?"

Draco sighed, thinking about the piss poor relationship of his friend and his wife. "If so, he hasn't said anything to me about it. But it's not like I talk to him much either..."

He then removed his hand from his nose, wincing. "Alright fine," he said decisively, clenching his fists and taking a breath to prepare himself. "Fix the break. I have a party to return to. You know my mother will not allow me to miss it."

Gregory gaped at him. "You mean it? You actually trust my skills?"

"You never were much of a liar... so if you say you have a degree in healing, I believe you. Now, hurry with it, before my mother comes to fetch me and sees me bleeding!" He suddenly gasped and smacked his forehead at the thought that Blaise may have already told the occupants of the ballroom about the incident.

"Oh!" he shrieked out in pain from the vibration of his hit. That wasn't such a wise move...

"Okay," Gregory approached him slowly. "Just... hold very still."

"I know, I know!" Draco said impatiently. "This isn't my first bone break, Gregory, you know it! Now hurry and fix it, would you?!"

Gregory made a complicated swish with his wand. His lips moved, mouthing the incantation of a bone mending spell, but no words were heard. Draco felt a warm, tingling sensation which followed with the pull of his bones reconstructing back together. The pain was still there, though not as severe. He took a breath through his nose, finding that breathing from it didn't hurt. He nodded an approval to his friend.

"Nicely done, Gregory," he complimented after Gregory had cleaned the blood with another spell.

Gregory smiled sheepishly. "Thanks. I'm sorry for earlier— I just... I needed to get it out..."

"Yes, well..." Draco trailed off and looked across the room at a portrait. "I deserved it. I'm sorry for being a prick about Janine- how is she anyway?"

Gregory's face split in half with the wide grin he displayed. "I told her about me being a wizard..."

"I take it that she didn't mind...?"

"She's fascinated with our world— well, who could blame her? And she's pregnant! With my baby! I'm gonna be a papa!"

"Well, that's news!" Draco exclaimed. "Well done, mate!" He clapped a hand to Gregory's shoulder.

"You're the first I've told," Gregory told him quietly.

"Really? Even after all I did?"

He nodded. "You may be a hypocrite, but I still..." He didn't finish his sentence and eyed Draco, expecting him to know what he meant by that.

"I understand." Draco squeezed Gregory's shoulder. "I've missed you too, mate."

Gregory laughed softly. "I figured as much by the invitation. So... where's Scorpius? I'd like to see the little chap!"

Draco grinned. "Right this way."

*/*

"Are you alright?" Hermione asked worriedly, staring at a couple of dark spots on the front of Draco's dress robes.

"Of course," he answered, taking Scorpius from her. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You have blood on your robes..." She pointed it out to him. "If your mother—"

"Hush!" He hissed, pressing Scorpius against his chest to cover up the mess. He forced a smile, making Hermione turn around to see Mrs. Malfoy walking up to them.

"It's so nice that you made up with Gregory," Draco's mother said happily. "I sure missed having him around."

"Yes, everything's fine now, Mother, and if you'll excuse me, he'd like to meet Scorpius."

"Dahnk!" Scorpius babbled at his name's mentioning.

"Want to see Uncle Greg, chomper?" With that, Draco made a hasty getaway.

Mrs. Malfoy tilted her head questionably. "Oh, he's certainly hiding something," she said out loud, more to herself than anyone.

Hermione laughed. "Slytherins are always hiding something, aren't they?"

"That's very true." Mrs. Malfoy gently patted Hermione's back and joined her husband at the bar.

Hermione watched as Blaise Zabini went to Draco and Goyle, also interested in being introduced to the Malfoy heir. That left Marietta sitting alone at a long empty table, sipping at a drink.

"Hi," Hermione said, after crossing the room and sitting down across from her. She could see the faint letters spelling 'SNEAK' along the woman's forehead. It made Hermione think about her own scar. She swallowed uncomfortably.

"I don't even think about that anymore," Marietta spoke up without returning the greeting. "But I'd rather you not stare at it."

"Sorry..."

"Don't be." Her reply was short and snippy.

"How are your children?" Hermione asked, changing the subject. "You have three, right?"

Marietta's face softened a little. She took a thoughtful drink of what looked to be punch but the smell made Hermione believe that it was heavily spiked with alcohol. "They are precious and just little angels." Her blue eyes looked across the room, stopping at the men circled around Scorpius. Zabini was playfully jiggling him at his hip, laughing as Scorpius screeched out happily from the attention he was getting.

Hermione studied the look on Marietta's face. She couldn't tell what the woman was thinking. Could Marietta be envious over her son? Did she want a son? Was Zabini giving her a hard time over it?

"Is everything alright?" Hermione asked.

Marietta inhaled a deep breath. She took another drink of her punch. "I don't deserve your pity, Hermione," she said. "So, don't bother yourself with me. You and I don't have some rare, magical bond between us, thus you can't help me. Save your time and leave me be."

"Why did you come here then, if you do not wish to socialize with anyone?"

Marietta's eyes glazed over hollowly. She blinked back tears, taking another sip of her beverage. "I'm not going to spill my soul to you. Please... just go away."

With a frown, Hermione stood up. "Alright then, but—" She leaned across the table, tapping the woman's hand. "If you ever need someone to talk to, send me an owl and I'll be right over."

Marietta's jaw clenched. She pulled her hand out from under Hermione's and tucked it into her lap. "I'll keep that in mind," she whispered vacuously. "Thanks."

Hermione left Marietta alone after that, wandering over to a different table. At this moment, she wished she had brought a book, feeling a bit bored, having no one to talk to, but soon, more guests started piling in with Mrs. Malfoy and a few different House-elves formally announcing their arrival. Hermione recognized some from school as former classmates. Most of these joined Draco to check out Scorpius. Women cooed over the baby, while the men congratulated Draco on his heir. A lot of guests were older too, being friends or acquaintances of Draco's parents.

It was so strange being surrounded by people who once thought hermione didn't deserve to breathe the same air as them. Sometimes, even she had a difficult time in understanding it.

Of course it wasn't like a lot of these people were given much of a choice, but they had made new lives for themselves. Although, for all Hermione knew, these very same people could likely be hating her in secret. Hopefully, that wasn't the case. Most things were fair for everyone now. Less crime, riots, and bogus news. Hermione kept her fingers crossed that it remained that way.

"Watcha doin' over here?" someone asked behind Hermione.

Hermione spun around in her seat, seeing Tracy Davis standing with her hands on her hips. "Sitting," she answered her.

"Are you telling me that no one has come to bother the brightest witch of our time? No one besides myself, that is?" Tracy took a seat next to Hermione.

Hermione grunted. "They're too busy with my son."

"And just look at Draco Malfoy." Tracy clicked her tongue. "He's soaking all that attention right up, isn't he?"

"He's proud of Scorpius. I've never seen him so dedicated to something before."

Tracy laughed. "You weren't down in the Slytherin dungeons, having to witness his hatred for you and your friends. I tell you, Granger, he had some serious issues when it came to you Gryffindors."

"Yes," Hermione agreed. "But he's all over that. We are over that."

"That's a good thing, too. Unity bonds can get mighty ugly if not taken seriously. Fascinating form of magic, but incredibly powerful. I'd never manage under such stress, but he—" She tossed her head toward Draco. "And you are different. When I heard about your bond, I knew you two would be able to work it out. Even with your ugly history."

"Really? How did you know that?"

"You are both strong and intelligent people. He understands things more than anyone ever gives him credit for, and you, well... you're just you. You just don't see the world like many of us do. I'm sure you've heard this before, but it amazes me that you weren't sorted into Ravenclaw."

"I wanted Gryffindor. I wanted to... stand out. I knew I'd be overlooked in Ravenclaw," Hermione explained. She had not realized this when she had been sitting on the stool that day, but several years later, she realized why the Sorting Hat had placed her where it did.

She didn't believe in fate and destiny, everything had to have a logical side to it.

Tracy laughed. "You'll never believe this," she said quietly, leaning in closer to Hermione so there was no chance of being overheard. "But I had actually hoped a little that I could have been sorted as a Hufflepuff."

Hermione looked at her in awe. "Wow." She had never heard a Slytherin say that. Slytherins didn't give Hufflepuffs much value, claiming that they were over friendly, untalented, sensitive people (which was not always the case, Hermione had learned).

"Yeah..." Tracy's voice faded off. She sighed. "Slytherin wasn't so bad, but I do regret it a little. I think I would have been better off with the badgers."

"Why?"

Tracy propped her head into her hand. "I had a Hufflepuff friend, Eloise Winder— ever met her?" Hermione shook her head. "She was the most... carefree girl I had ever met..." A smile formed on Tracy's lips. It froze in place as Tracy's eyes fell down to the fancy pale green table cloth that covered the table they sat at.

"I don't... recall her name... And we went to every funeral of the war... Even..." Hermione pursed her lips together. "Voldemort's..."

Tracy snorted. "I remember that! I could not believe you even bothered creating such an event!"

"Me neither..." Hermione muttered. "But we did it for Harry, who thinks that no one should have died, especially because of him. He's grown into a fine man, if only a bit strange, but a lot of us are strange, so..."

"Eloise wasn't a war casualty," Tracy informed. "She was a Muggleborn, and moved away in fourth year before the war even officially started."

"What happened to her?" Curiousity tugged at Hermione, finding it weird that she had never met the girl, since most Muggleborns had saught her out during their school years for help on understanding the magical world better.

"Her father got an excellent job offer in China. The Muggle airplane that she and her family were on for their travel had crashed... No survivors. I found out from her eldest brother, who knew of me and how close the two of us were..."

"That's tragic, I'm sorry..."

"Well, better that than becoming a war victim, I suppose." Tracy shrugged. "But anyway, I would have loved to be as open as Eloise was. Sometimes, I even had wished that I had been born as a Muggleborn..."

"You're joking?!" Hermione gasped out noisily, earning a few looks from a handful of people in the room.

"Well, sure... If you have any lick of sense, you'd be able to understand both worlds by the time you're of age. The Muggle world is a bit interesting. Many magical people agree with me on this."

Hermione nodded, thinking about the group of Purebloods and Wizard-raised Half-bloods that traveled around the Muggle world, writing about their experiences in it. It was a popular new magazine for Wizards, and the last Hermione knew, the writers were getting rich off their articles as more and more people grew interested in Muggles everyday.

"How are you coping here, anyway? Is Mr. Malfoy giving you any trouble?"

"I'm doing alright. It could be worse. And Mr. Malfoy has his moments, but I'm grateful for him in being around. He's been very helpful with assisting with the bond, and for that, I try to hold my tongue when it comes to his patronizing insults. Mr. Malfoy is extremely intelligent. I'm making an effort to get along with him, for Scorpius and Draco's sake."

"It's strange seeing him act human around Muggleborns," Tracy said thoughtfully.

"He doesn't have a choice," Hermione grumbled. "It's act human or spend the rest of his life in Azkaban, and I think his first time there is a good enough reminder of how awful it is there."

"Indeed," Tracy agreed, shuddering. "Although, the Muggle services he and several Pureblood bigots had to complete was a brilliant idea, maybe it helped a little."

"That was Ron's idea," Hermione said proudly. Ron had come up with the idea that made Wizards on the losing side of the war do some civic duty involving Muggles. Aurors helped ensure the safety of the Muggles during this time. Mr. Malfoy had been assigned to a group that helped rebuild several Muggle communities that had been destroyed during the Death Eaters' rampage that had involved torching houses to the ground. He spent two years in the program.

"Another man that gets little credit," Tracy said, speaking about Ron.

"Yeah, I didn't help that a bit though, outshining any brilliance he had with mine."

"And Potter's," Tracy added.

Hermione smiled a little. "And Harry's..."

"Well, I'm just relieved to be able to live in peace now."

Slow, classical music started playing then, and Tracy stood up. "The dancing will start soon," she informed Hermione who nodded. "I'm going to see if Greg will be my partner."

"You didn't bring a date?"

Tracy snorted. "All the good men are taken, Granger. I have bets on how long I can make it without getting married. So far, I'm winning." She gave her a wink and walked off.

Hermione watched Tracy excuse herself with the crowd of people who Goyle was with, and soon, a grinning Draco emerged from it. Scorpius was propped up in one of his arms, chewing on a teething toy.

"Enjoying yourself?" Hermione asked when he approached her. The droplets of blood on his dress robes were no longer there.

"Sure am," he said cheerily. "And you?"

Hermione shrugged. "It's been okay. Bit boring though," she admitted in a whisper.

"Didn't appear so with the way you and Tracy looked a bit ago. And you got Marietta to talk—"

"Not really," Hermione grumbled, stealing a glance at the moody woman. Zabini had returned to her side. They weren't speaking to each other, both just sipping at the drinks that the House-elves had deposited in front of them. "She pretty much just told me to shove off."

"Yeah," Draco frowned. "That's Marietta for you..." He cleared his throat. "The hosts of the party always begin the dancing," he told her.

"Wouldn't that be your parents then?" Hermione questioned.

He shifted Scorpius to his hip. "Yes, but we're supposed to join them very shortly after they start— it's tradition."

Hermione sighed. "I suppose dancing is better than staring at people in boredom..."

"That's the spirit!" Draco said, chuckling. "Just let me put Scorpius in his little pen." He then nodded to his father, letting him know that they were ready to start.

Hermione got up from her chair and waited for Draco to set their son in his play area in a corner of the room. Scorpius clutched the ledge of the pen, using it to support himself, watching Draco walk away. He sat down and his attention shifted from one thing to the next, unable to focus on just one thing, with all the activity going on.

The song changed then, and Mr. Malfoy led Mrs. Malfoy into the cleared section of the ballroom for the dance. They didn't appear to pay attention to anyone else in the room, heavily focused on only each other.

"My gosh," Hermione whispered in admiration, as they moved in a smooth motion. "They really take this seriously..."

"No, my dear," Draco said, looping his arm around hers. "That is their passion." He lowered his face down to her ear. "It's their... foreplay..." he whispered with a slight hint of amusement.

"No!" Hermione gasped out in shock, surprised he would know such a personal thing. Even if it was about his parents.

Draco gently pulled her from the table's side, laughing. "I'm pretty sure I'm right. I am fairly experienced in all forms of foreplay."

"Ah, that's very true," Hermione murmured, thinking of their own private moments in the bedroom (and other rooms in which they had happened to be in at the time of their building of arousal).

Draco swept her into the dancing area, elegantly adjusting their pace to follow his father's steps to the waltz. He looked deep into Hermione's eyes, wearing a look that could easy match Mr. Malfoy's gaze at his wife.

Hermione tilted her head. "Is this a Malfoy thing too?"

"What?" he asked, slightly caught off guard with her question.

"Seducing a lady with your etiquette dancing."

He laughed softly and sent her into a slow twirl. "Perhaps it is..." he whispered into her ear, after pulling her close to him. "Merlin, you are beautiful," he murmured a moment later.

Hermione blushed at the change in his voice, knowing that tone all too well. "You're not so bad looking yourself."

Draco pulled her even closer to him, touching his body to hers, and dipping her backward. His eyes searched her face while he held her in place. He then pulled her upright.

"You're really good at this," she told him. "Were you this good in school too?"

"I was. Alas, you were much too absorbed in Krum's charm to notice anyone else that night."

Hermione giggled, half embarrassed. "Ah, yes, Viktor..."

Draco's eyes narrowed. "Excuse me! You best not be thinking about that bloke while you're in my arms!"

Hermione smiled. Without messing up Draco's lead in their dancing, she kissed him. As their lips touched, heat flared into her belly, lighting it up like a firecracker. Her mind momentarily went blank, forgetting where they were.

"What... happened...?" she asked in a daze, fighting off the urge to rip his fancy clothes off.

"Mmm." He tucked his nose into her neck, breathing in her scent. "No idea... Only that I want to... make love to you until you are hoarse from screaming my name."

"The party..." she whispered dizzily. Somehow, Draco had still been able to continue dancing, and had, unfortunately, spun them in a circle too quickly.

"The party," he repeated her words, as if he was trying to grasp the reality of it. "I'm not sure I care about that right now." His fingers dug into her back where his hand was placed. Hermione nearly moaned from the action. His eyes closed and he sucked in a huge breath.

"Erm... I am not sure if we—"

Draco abruptly pulled apart from her. Without removing his eyes from hers, he took her hand and escorted her out of the ballroom.

"What are you doing?" Hermione asked in sudden alarm, which briefly suppressed her lusting for Draco's naked body against her own.

Draco smirked mischievously and backed up against a door across from the ballroom's entrance. He twisted the doorknob and pulled her into the room with him, shutting the door behind her. "Lock," he commanded and a click followed. He pushed Hermione up against the door, pinning her to it with his body.

"Draco—"

He muffled her words with his mouth, pressing his pelvis to hers, teasing her with his hardness. She lost all sense after that, wrapping her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss with a fiery need.

Draco separated from her a minute later, and began removing his tie. "Merlin, we should have done this earlier today!" he grumbled. Hermione started unbuttoning the front of his robes. He grabbed her hands to stop her. "Let's not waste time," he said hastily, and fumbled to remove his wand from his sleeve. With a delicate flick of it, all of their clothing vanished from their bodies and fluttered to the ground at their feet. "Much better," he muttered and attacked her mouth to taste it once more. Hermione moaned as his hand slipped between her legs and delicately rubbed her sensitive bud.

She threw her head back. "Draco," she gasped, spreading her legs at his stroking of her. "I'm already wet, just fuck me already!"

Draco did as she wished, pressing her to the door with his chest and lifting her legs up to his waist. She clung unto him while he guided himself into her slick hole and pushed further into her with a savage grunt.

"Yes!" Hermione screamed in delight, driving him deeper into her. "Oh, God, Draco! Harder!"

They built up a sweat from their fast, eager movement. Hermione came first, soaking him with her hot fluids, and he quickly joined her, slowing his thrusting down, breathing hard and deep. He let out a long groan of pleasure at his release, and kissed her clammy forehead. "That was fucking great," he told her through his panting.

"Yes, it was."

"I guess dancing is our new foreplay," he announced before chuckling and pulling apart from her.

Hermione bent down, retrieving her shedded clothing to redress herself. "You think it was the dancing?"

"No." Draco laughed. "That was just a joke. It was definitely your kiss though. We've been in need of sex all day, having no time to feed our sexual desire of each other. I should have known. The signs were all there. I grew hard at just the mere thought of you— not that you don't do that to me already, but it was bloody painful today, I tell you!"

"Oh, my!" Hermione shrieked out in realization. "Thank god you got us out of that room in time!"

"No kidding! If I hadn't—"

She groaned, hiding her face into her hands. "Please, don't make me imagine what could have happened if you hadn't!"

*/*

Lucius ended their fourth dance with a simple bow to his wife, and kissed the top of her hand. "A pleasure as always, Narci," he murmured. He would have gone on for another song, but he was growing tired. Age was catching up with him, and it was for his wife too.

Narcissa laughed softly. "Quite the pleasure, love." They sat down to rest, as their feet had grown sore."Where's Draco?" she asked when she noticed his absence.

"Miss Granger's missing too." Lucius also noted after a quick sweep of his eyes.

Narcissa frowned in thought. "Scorpius is still here." They had chosen a table to sit at that was not too far from their grandson, but far enough away to give Draco space from his own table and friends.

The baby was now sleeping, sucking on his fist. Lucius made a guess that the calming music must have allured him into a slumber.

"I do not know what went on, dear," Lucius told her, currently not caring what his son and Miss Granger were doing. Draco was not needed at the moment, as everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves. "I was too busy admiring your sweet, luscious eyes and was unable to have kept an eye on our twenty-six-year-old son." And it wasn't like Draco couldn't suddenly take care of himself. It was unnecessary to keep such tabs on him anymore. There wasn't much trouble he could get into if Miss Granger was occupying him.

"That you were." Narcissa squeezed his hand, sending him her enchanting smile.

It was several minutes later before Donald and Margaret Greengrass came by, seating themselves at Lucius and Narcissa's table.

"Lovely dance." Margaret said with a sigh. "Just as lovely as always."

"A shame your daughters couldn't come," Narcissa brought up with a hint of disappointment. She adored the both of them.

"I know why one of them didn't," Donald said, as his eyes settled to the door of the ballroom where Draco and Miss Granger had reentered into the room. "I think she's... a tad upset."

Margret's lips scrunched to one side. "Poor Tori..."

The four of them watched as Draco and Miss Granger made their way to the buffet of food.

"What is wrong with Astoria?" Narcissa asked, once she deemed that Draco was safe and unharmed. Lucius briefly shut his eyes, hiding the rolling of them, knowing that, if his wife seen him do it, he'd get a kick to his shin.

Donald leaned in forward, ducking his head a little. "She asked your son out, didn't you know?"

"Did she now?" Lucius found it strange that he hadn't heard of that bit of news from his own son, who had constantly boasted about his achievements when it came to women.

"Yes..." Margaret seemed upset with the topic. "He wasn't interested in her. It tore Tori's heart apart, especially when he was in and out of relationships— of many blood types, if you know what I mean."

Donald cleared his throat uneasily. "Not that we're against it—"

Narcissa sniffed loudly, letting them know that she didn't like where this was leading to. "If it wasn't for quite a few Muggleborns, who knows where this world would be now."

"Tori thinks Granger is brilliant— who doesn't?" Margret added quickly.

Lucius shifted his eyes to his son, seeing that the couple had wandered over to Scorpius, and were watching the baby as they nibbled on their gathered snacks. Draco set his plate down to snap pictures of Scorpius with his ClickCap. Lucius vividly remembered the day he caught Draco with that Weasley product, and had scolded him for it, but his son didn't care what Lucius had thought about him purchasing items from the Weasley men.

"It's an amazing item, Father," Draco had said with a smirk and a glitter to his eye. "If I must say so myself. Took them long enough to produce it though. Three years." He had rolled his eyes. "I could have done it in sixth months!" Then Draco had scowled bitterly and stalked off, muttering words under his breath, leaving Lucius to face his perplexity on his own.

"Though, Granger is indeed one of a kind, there are also other Muggleborns who rank quite high on the intellect meter," Lucius said to Margaret, pulling himself from the thoughts on his son, without taking his eyes off him.

"And, let's not bring up the fact that there are a large amount of Purebloods who are as dense as the piece of wood that they wave around," Narcissa said. "I've had the misfortune of meeting a few of them, barely escaping harm from their idiotic spell castings."

Donald nodded in agreement.

"I suppose you're right," Margret said doubtfully. "I only wonder why Draco rejected her..."

"It was a polite decline, hon," Donald gently pointed out. "Not a reject."

"Tell that to Tori," his wife replied a bit harshly.

"Whatever it was, I had nothing to do with it, and if I had known, I'd have given my son a good verbal lashing for his ignorance," Lucius quickly said, making sure there was not any way he could be blamed for Draco not dating Astoria Greengrass (who Lucius wouldn't have minded as a daughter-in-law, as she had come from a good set of parents and was a smart woman. He also got along well with Astoria; which wasn't something he could say about Miss Granger).

"We weren't pinning this on you, Lucius," Donald assured him.

"I take no chances, Donald, you know that. I had to make it clear."

*/*

"They're still at it," Goyle announced to Draco, speaking about Zabini and Marietta and their dancing. Everyone else had already stopped from either tiredness or hunger, and were now divided around the room socializing. Zabini and Marietta didn't appear to want to stop anytime soon though. Both were enjoying themselves.

"No surprise there," Draco said and popped a grape into his mouth, watching the couple move flawlessly. "This is one of the reasons I invited them."

"What's the story behind them anyway?" Hermione asked.

Draco and Goyle shrugged. "They don't speak much about their private life," Draco informed.

"They fight like bloody tom cats though," Goyle said.

The grip on Draco's plate got tighter. His lips pursed in disturbance. "I've seen bruises on the both of them..."

Hermione's gut twisted into a knot. Suddenly, she wasn't so hungry anymore. "Then why don't they separate...?"

Draco sighed. "Hell if I know..." He took her plate from her, sensing she was finished eating. "Maybe they get off on it!" he snapped out in sarcasm. Obviously, he matched Hermione's strong opinions against domestic violence.

"You know... if they did that every night, they may not have the problems that they do," Goyle pointed out to the dancing couple. Zabini was now lifting Marietta up into his arms, spinning her around, and she was laughing. This was a different Marietta from the one Hermione had talked to earlier. She couldn't believe her eyes. The two of them looked completely happy and in love.

"They look like they are in complete bliss!" Hermione was in complete bafflement. "I don't understand..."

"I've given up on trying to make sense of those two," Draco muttered and went to deposit their plates on a trolley next to the buffet table.

"You bring out the best in him," Goyle commented, once Draco was out of earshot.

"Do I?" Hermione couldn't believe that. "From what I learned, you got him socializing with Muggles, so I'd say maybe it was you who brought out the best in him..."

"I stuck it out with Draco until he told me I couldn't marry my wife." A scowl appeared on his face. "He was a real jerk about it too. I'm not going to repeat what he said. You've been on the receiving end of his ignorant, flapping tongue, so you know how much of an arse he can be. I actually had thought about cutting his tongue out that day when he insulted me and the idea of me marrying the love of my life. He couldn't grasp onto the idea that I was in love with a Muggle. Said that she'd never understand our world, and would try killing me in my sleep if she ever found out about it. She didn't hurt me at all! She's just fine with my magic, and she loves the idea of it! Besides, Janine would never hurt a fly. She's... more than I'd ever deserve..."

"You've grown into a good man, Goyle, and I think it's great that you found someone who accepts you for who you are. That's all anyone could ever ask for."

A faint smile stretched out on Goyle's face. "Thanks," he said. "He's lucky to have you, but Granger, he's a decent man and a loyal friend, even if he has some rough edges. In all reality, he was only worried that she would hurt me…"

Hermione chuckled. "Yes, Goyle, I'm lucky to have him too."

"Sad that it took a bond to bring you together though." Goyle frowned.

"I wouldn't have done it if there wasn't one," Hermione told him honestly.

"That goes the same for Draco. I'm sure he would have married a Pureblood if it hadn't been for your bond."

"You think so?" Hermione wasn't sure that would have been true. Draco hadn't been just dating Purebloods before that reckless night with her.

Goyle lifted his shoulders up in a shrug. "It's impossible to know now, I guess."

Chapter Text

"And... they're back to hating each other again," Goyle announced as Zabini and Marietta finally returned to the table that they had been sitting at before the dancing had started (after thirteen dances that Hermione had physically counted).

"Yep," Draco muttered, merely to acknowledge his friend's statement.

How do they do that? Hermione wondered, watching the two, in turn, each order up a few drinks. She just couldn't wrap their sudden mood changes around her head. "It can't be the drinking," she spoke out loud. They both had drank a fair share before they joined in on the dancing, and they had danced amazingly well for the amount of liquor they had consumed too. "It's like... they have a high tolerance of alcohol..."

"With as much as they drink, they probably do," Goyle reasoned.

"Not quite," Draco said. "They order plenty of Sober-Up potions."

"The pains of being an alcoholic." Goyle shook his head. "I know the feelings all too well, took a good many of those potions myself."

Draco sipped his drink. "Aye, same here," he admitted grimly.

"Who didn't?" Hermione grunted. The two wizards nodded their agreement.

Zabini and Marietta made their way to where Goyle, Draco and Hermione were standing after finishing their drinks.

"I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, Draco," Zabini told him. He sent Draco a smile before turning his attention to Hermione. "The eye candy you provided is just exquisite. How beautiful you look tonight, Miss Granger. As radiant as ever." His smile grew wide at Hermione's stunned look. She couldn't believe he'd say such a thing to her. All the while, with his own wife standing right next to him!

"Don't be jealous of me now, Blaise," Draco teased.

Zabini's smile immediately fell from his face. His eyes shifted from Hermione to Draco and back again. "Yes, some of the less deserving folks have all the luck, don't they?" he said, cocking his head at Draco. "How do you do it, mate?"

"You've had too much to drink, dear," Marietta hissed under her breath, looking a bit uncomfortable with Zabini's behavior.

"Like your opinion matters at all," Zabini snarled at her.

"I'll agree with her," Hermione said quickly, sending him a dirty look for the tone he had used to address Marietta.

"And I didn't ask you for your opinion," Zabini retorted bluntly. "So why don't you hush your pretty little mouth."

Hermione fists clenched angrily. How dare he talk to her like that! "Excuse me, you slimy, good for noth—"

"Blaise," Draco cut in warningly, and stepped between she and Zabini before a fight could break out, even though he looked about ready to rip Zabini's head off.

Hermione had to give Draco a great deal of credit for keeping his cool. She took a step back to give them space, allowing him to handle his rude guest.

"Perhaps you have had a bit too many drinks," Draco said firmly, with a no nonsense tone to his voice.

Zabini straightened himself with a sniff, insulted. "I've not," he said arrogantly. "I still see quite well. I've enough when my vision is blurry."

"Yet, in a sober state of mind, you'd never speak to a girlfriend of Draco's like you've just done," Goyle pointed out. "Nonetheless, a Gryffindor one; Miss Granger, specifically. We all know the strength of her spells. Pretty bold move, if you ask me."

"As thick as it was," Draco sneered, curling his lip up darkly. And, even if she could take care of herself without his help, Hermione felt good that Draco was standing up for her. She knew from having been pulled into his memories that he would do all he could to keep her from harm's way, but seeing it in reality (though, she'd admit she wasn't in any real danger) put it into perspective. She had felt the same way when Ron and Harry had defended her throughout the years of their friendship. Having Draco do it just brought tears to her eyes. Tears she hastily had to blink away in order to see what was going to happen next.

"Oh, please don't fight," she whispered to the men. She glanced around the room, noticing that everyone had stopped what they were previously doing to watch them.

Zabini looked at each of his friends, thinking over their words. He nodded after a moment. "Yes, I suppose you're right..." he agreed distantly. "My apologies, Draco. And you too, Miss Granger." He tipped his head meaningfully at her. "I think it would be wise if I took my wife home now before I say anything else that I may not mean."

"Swell idea, Blaise." Draco relaxed his posture some, letting out a breath of relief. "Thank you for coming."

Zabini smirked. "Anytime, mate. Good night to you all— Marietta, we're leaving now," he announced as if she hadn't been standing there, witnessing the whole episode.

"I know that already," she grumbled.

"I wasn't too sure— You often ignore half of what I say."

"Well, if half of what you said was actually relevant, then I'd find that listening to you wouldn't be a waste of my ruddy time!"

A few more horrid exchanges were made before the two were out of hearing range from Hermione. She felt awful for them. Their relationship was an utter mess. She did not see the point in a couple being together if they were so miserable in each others company. Their presence alone depressed her, and she found herself grateful that they were no longer around— selfish as she was for feeling that way.

"You alright?" Draco asked, touching her arm.

She nodded, biting her lip. "I just feel... privileged."

"Why?"

"Because I know we'll never be like that."

He smiled, taking her hand. "If I ever talk to you like that, I permit you to hex some sense back into me, but I am sure you're right. I love you too much, and I promise never to treat you in such a way ever again."

Hermione crashed into him, hugging him tightly. A tear slipped from her eye, both happy and sad. Happy that she had Draco to go to for comfort now, and sad because of Zabini and Marietta's poor life.

Everyone should be able to live a life full of love.

The day before Christmas was two days later. Hermione thought things were going better than she had originally expected. Even Mr. Malfoy didn't seem as bad as he usually was. Maybe it was the holiday season. Or it could have been because she was avoiding him, not wanting to start a childish squabble with him in front of her son. Sometimes it was just best to ignore things. Lucius Malfoy spent most of his time in his telly room anyway. Hermione thought he was better off in there.

On this day, Draco and his father were engrossed in an extremely close match of Muggle hockey, setting them on the edges of their seats, cheering when their chosen team scored, and cursing obscenities when their team was losing.

Hermione wasn't interested in many sports (especially contact ones), so she went searching for Mrs. Malfoy to see what she was currently up to.

Draco's mother was constantly doing something. Hermione wasn't sure if she was having a midlife crisis or just liked to keep busy. In the past few weeks, she had learned that Mrs. Malfoy liked to try new things, seemingly going through a list to find something she enjoyed doing. Perhaps all done in search for a new hobby. Hermione had suggested knitting, as she enjoyed doing that a little bit here and there herself, but Mrs. Malfoy had told her she tried that already (along with quilting, crocheting, etc).

"I'm just not artistic enough for anything like that."

Hermione found Mrs. Malfoy in the oversized dining room that the Malfoys ate most their meals in. Staying here at the Malfoy Manor felt like living in a royal palace. She knew the Malfoys were rich, but they didn't even use ninety percent of their "home". She didn't understand the point in living in a place that would take you a week to walk to every room, floor, and wing. As it was, the place she and Draco lived in was too big for her taste, but it was a medium ground for them— a compromise.

Mrs. Malfoy was slightly leaning over the long dining table, busy stuffing an abundance of different items into a cloth bag. A House-elf was helping her on the opposite side of the table, also filling her own bag with things. Lots of things were scattered around the table in large, neat piles that were stacked high above Mrs. Malfoy's head. There were assorted kinds of foods, including salted meats, fresh produce, and canned goods. Among the foods, there was also a long list of non-edible things, like winter socks, gloves, scarves, and hats, stuffed toys, and muggle batteries (this puzzled Hermione the most).

A pile of bags had been stacked in the corner the room, all sealed closed with a string.

"Hello, Miss Granger," Mrs. Malfoy greeted when she noticed Hermione standing at the entrance, observing the scene in interest, trying to figure out what she was doing.

"Ma'am," Hermione returned, stepping in hesitantly, not wishing to bother the woman.

"Rahrun!" Scorpius burst out, waving at one of the House-elves. Pippsy was the elf's name. She was Mrs. Malfoy's personal one, and Hermione had discovered that the two were very close. Like Draco was with Toogy.

"Oh, Little One!" Pippsy squealed from her spot, pausing just long enough to wave back to the baby, making Scorpius gurgle happily.

"Time for a break!" Mrs. Malfoy announced, turning toward Scorpius. "Grandmother needs her kisses!" She held out her arms to take Scorpius from Hermione. Scorpius leaned into his grandmother's arms and burst out into a squealing laughter while Mrs. Malfoy loudly kissed his cheeks repeatedly. "You sweet, sweet little baby!" she said, hugging the boy. "Grandmother loves Scorpius so much, doesn't she?!"

"Gah!" Scorpius replied and gave her a kiss back.

Hermione beamed at the scene, finding it absolutely adorable. If only she had Draco's ClickCap with her. She should really buy one of those devices, now that she had Scorpius.

Mrs. Malfoy sighed. "Well, back to work then. Sorry, baby." She gave the baby a pout before handing him off to a smiling Hermione.

"So, what are you doing anyway, Mrs. Malfoy?" Hermione asked quietly. She felt incredibly out of place, even if she had spent the last four days here. Everything had such an awkward feeling to it. Obviously, she didn't belong in the Malfoy Manor. The castle sized home, the over rich food, and priceless objects just didn't fit in with her lifestyle.

"Oh, yes, this," Mrs. Malfoy said, as if she just realized that Hermione had discovered a big secret of hers. She put a hand up to her mouth, covering it up. "I've been so distracted lately to say anything to you about it." The elder witch went back to bagging up the items, frowning slightly. "I do this every year," she explained. "Well, for the past five years anyway. It's for the unfortunate Muggles; the ones with very little money."

So Draco wasn't the only one doing charity. Well, this explained his twist of philanthropy. It made perfect sense. He must have gotten the idea from someone, and for many reasons, Hermione didn't think his father did very many good deeds, if any at all.

"That's really nice of you, Mrs. Malfoy." Hermione shifted Scorpius to her other hip. He was getting heavier and heavier everyday, and holding him for extended periods of time was getting shorter. "Would you like some help?"

"I would very much like that— grab a bag."

Hermione set Scorpius on the floor so he could crawl around. Before she started helping with the packing of the charity bags, she blocked a few things to keep Scorpius from them. Like the pile of ready to be shipped bags, and the doorways, so he couldn't wander out of the room.

Keeping an eye on her son, Hermione listened to Mrs. Malfoy as she instructed her on what to do. "And what are these for?" Hermione asked, holding up a packet of batteries.

"Don't Muggles use them for their own magic? To make things move and work on their own?"

"Yes, for devices such as remote controllers and flashlights."

"That's what I thought. I've added them in for the little children. A lot of toys need those things, and they cost money."

"Right." Hermione laughed at her thoughtlessness. "I should have remembered that. I hated it when I was little. Nothing came with batteries! And many times my parents didn't realize this."

"I've bought a massive amount," Mrs. Malfoy assured her proudly. "There's going to be a thousand happy little ones tomorrow morning." She was shining with happiness.

"It's a brilliant idea, Mrs. Malfoy," Hermione complimented. "I think it's nice of you. What does your husband think about it though?"

Mrs. Malfoy grinned faintly. "He doesn't know."

"You're hiding it from him?" Hermione asked in surprise.

"I'd rather not hear him cavil about it," she said stiffly.

"But why not just... you know, tell him off, like you've done before?"

"Do you think I like speaking to my husband like that? I love him, with all my heart. I hate it when I have to scream and threaten him. I only do it when I find it necessary. And this is definitely not a necessity."

"Oh..." Hermione could relate. She hated it when she fought with her friends, and had learned to button her mouth, keeping her opinions to herself when it truly didn't matter. "Does Draco know?"

"Yes, he does. I have him help me when he wants to. He helped pick out a few things from this lot."

"How have you kept this all a secret from Mr. Malfoy?"

"Oh, you've seen him," Mrs. Malfoy said nonchalantly, waving it off. "Set him down in front of that Muggle contraption and he's glued to his seat for several hours. Lazy bum he's become." She chuckled in amusement. "But enough about me; when are you and my son going to get married?"

"Married?!" Hermione choked out. "What in the world brought that up?!"

"You are going to do it, aren't you?" Mrs. Malfoy's eyebrows raised up as she asked the question.

Hermione dropped her eyes to her working hands. "I... well... I haven't given it much thought..." She had barely adjusted to the idea of Draco being her boyfriend, and now his mother was asking about marriage? Gosh, she didn't want to rush things... Hermione felt that she and Draco still had a lot of things to sort out. They argued over many things. The most important one being what to spend money on (both had very different ideas on what they needed).

"The bond has sealed your fate with him already," Mrs. Malfoy said candidly. "May as well make it official."

"He hasn't even... asked me..."

The older witch scoffed. "That boy will be fifty before he actually does it! I say, it's a new era, my dear, maybe you should ask him. I'm sure that he'll accept."

Hermione chewed the inside of her lip. Mrs. Malfoy was right about the bond. Magically, they were a married couple, but she just didn't think they were ready to make it official quite yet...

"I'll think about it..."

*/*

"You and Granger have been smooth sailing these last few days," Father spoke up when a commercial break came on.

"Yes," Draco said, waiting for him to make his point. Father didn't usually bring up Granger in a conversation unless it was to fish for information.

"I think you're failing horribly in converting her lifestyle."

Or if he felt like he wanted to poke at Draco.

What was it with this man? Draco never met his father's parents, but they must not have praised him enough. "She loves the caldarium," Draco informed, choosing to ignore his father's jab. "Adores it. She won't admit it though. I think she's afraid of enjoying the luxuries in life."

Father's mouth quirked to the side a bit. He summoned up his House-elf, and ordered up a case of beer and some pretzels. "Are you two on common ground with Scorpius?"

Draco leaned back into his chair that sat next to his father's. He looked up at the ceiling, admiring the sage green colour of it. "For the most part," he answered. "She can't seem to grasp that Scorpius is not the average baby..."

Father's refreshments arrived then, and he instantly shooed off Slinky, not wanting his House-elf in the room while he spoke with Draco. Draco leaned forward to take a handful of the tiny bread snacks from the coffee table that sat between their chairs.

Father took a thoughtful sip of his beverage before he asked quite curiously, "When are you going to ask for her hand?"

Draco gasped for air suddenly. His father's question caused him to swallow too soon and his airway clogged up. He coughed deeply, covering his mouth. When he was able to breathe again, he saw his father was smirking delightfully, clearly enjoying the reaction Draco had given him.

"Merlin!" Draco hissed. "Why would you ask me such a question?! Why would it matter to you at all? You already got the heir you wanted!"

Father's attention went back to the telly. "A man can wonder, can he not? Have you confessed your love to her yet? They don't tend to refuse your offer after doing so."

"You're pathetic!" Draco rolled his eyes and opened himself up a bottle of beer. "You think I don't understand the relationship you have with Mother?" he asked. He quickly chugged a few gulps of the drink, allowing it to wash the left over chunks of pretzel from his throat. "As much as you like to pretend that you have a leash on your wife, you don't, so stop expecting me to have the same!"

Father turned his head to briefly look at him. His eyes flickered back to the screen an in effort to not miss out on anything important with the hockey game they were watching. "I'm only expressing how you spoke about women before you got yourself tangled up in the bond," he said innocently. He pursed his lips. "You bloody idiot!" he hissed to the telly. "Tranelly was right there! Learn to pass, you imbecile!"

"Hermione is different than those other woman!" Draco insisted.

"Very much so," Father agreed. He sighed. "You kids these days do everything so arse backwards! Sex first, have the baby, get a house together, then date, confess your love, and marry last?! It's ludicrous! First comes love, then comes marriage, and the rest comes after all that." He shook his head in disapproval. "And that is all thanks to the Muggles. I can prove it to you! In my day, we were much more sensible."

Draco snorted. "Speak for yourself, Father. You're just a prude, and you know it. We've been having sex before marriage for decades—"

"And we took precautions! Or at least... we used to!"

"I did take that bloody potion! The bond interfered with it!" Draco practically shouted in his defense. How could his father think that he had been that foolish? Sleeping with Hermione had been stupid, but he knew better than to not take precautions. He wanted to have children with someone he deemed worthy, not with some one night stand.

"I know..." Father softened. "I was speaking about people your age in general..."

Draco set his half finished bottle of beer on the table. "Blaise, right?" Obviously, the other night had gotten many people to think about his friend's marriage. He couldn't help regretting sending them an invitation.

Father gave a single nod. "I took him to be a much smarter man."

"They would have been better off if they had not married..."

"But that's not the case with you and Miss Granger," Father said, keeping his eyes on the hockey game.

"Father..." Draco addressed slowly. "Are you saying that you would approve if I married her?"

Father said nothing as he leaned forward into his seat, watching the telly intently. His eyes narrowed in excitement. "Yes!" he grunted under his breath as the team he supported scored a goal.

"Father...?"

"Quiet, Draco," he scolded gently. "I don't want to miss this."

Later that night, they all joined together in one room to decorate the tree that Mother had instructed the House-elves to leave bare. It was a family tradition to trim the tree on Christmas Eve. They had all sorts of Christmas decorations to decorate with, including some antique ones that had been in the family for centuries.

After showing Scorpius how to hang an ornament, Draco held him up in the air so the baby could help. "Slip the branch through the loop of thread, chomper," he said encouragingly, lifting up the boy a bit higher so he had a better reach.

Scorpius paused to watch Hermione work next to him. She sought out a perfect place for the icicle she had been given to hang. He wrinkled his forehead in concentration and made to copy his mother. "Gahney!" he shrieked out happily, letting Draco know he was finished.

"You got it, Scorpius?" Draco peaked around his son's body, seeing that thread was barely on the branch. He placed Scorpius at his hip and pushed the thread further on. "There we go. We got it now."

"Ah!" Scorpius cheered and clapped. "Derbla!"

"Want to do it again?" Draco asked.

"Gah!" Scorpius turned his head to his Grandfather, who was untangling decorations and passing them out. It was a job that Father liked doing most of all. Which was fine by everyone else, since they'd rather not bother themselves with the frustration of it.

"Here's the one you got for your first Christmas." Father handed the trinket to Draco.

"Oh, let me see!" Hermione rushed to Draco's side. She wrinkled her nose after she got her look of it. "Charming," she said politely, thoroughly unamused with it.

Draco laughed. The trinket was a plastic green and silver striped, ghoulish looking snake with a blond infant saddled on it, riding the serpent as if it were a horse.

"Severus got him that," Mother informed Hermione with a sad smile. "Lucius made the mistake in offering the job to him. Oh, but he was so excited to be a godfather though, wasn't he? Took it seriously, he did."

Father nodded a reply, putting on a blank face, no doubt, remembering the loss of his best friend.

"Professor Snape, excited?" Hermione's eyes widened in doubt. "I wouldn't have thought that would ever be possible."

"I know, right?" Draco chuckled and handed the item to Scorpius. "Careful, son, that's a priceless item now."

Scorpius clung it to his chest until Draco approached the tree. "Ah?" He pointed high above his head, stretching his arm out near the star that Father had previously placed at the tip of the tree.

"Right under the star?" Draco asked to confirm Scorpius's suggestion.

"Gah," Scorpius said, nodding. He then held the ornament in front of Draco's face for him to take.

"Thank you," Draco whispered to the boy and took the item with his free hand. He kissed the Scorpius's cheek before standing on his tiptoes to place the treasured decoration in the spot Scorpius had chosen for it.

Scorpius beamed proudly, and giggled when Draco wiggled a finger under his chin. "Bah!" he shrieked between his giggles.

"Mumma's baby." Hermione came up behind them, smiling at Scorpius. "You're so cute!" She held up Draco's ClickCap for a picture of Scorpius who was looking over his father's shoulder. "Big smile for Mumma, Scorpy!" Hermione said.

Scorpius cooed at his mother's attention and Draco heard the device click, capturing the moment.

"Alright, one of me too, Mumma!" Draco exclaimed, swinging a laughing Scorpius up to the back of his neck for a ride. He turned around, smiling so wide, it was too goofy and made Hermione laugh. She managed to take a picture though.

"Now with Grandmother!" Mother said, gesturing Draco to give her the child. Mother hugged Scorpius as tight as she could without hurting him, and Hermione captured an image of her kissing the baby. "And Grandfather too!"

"No, Narci," Father hastily said. "Not right now, I'm busy with this." He held up a chain of tangled Christmas baubles. An eyebrow of his rose up as he assessed the mess, clearly not knowing where to start.

Mother didn't care though; she plopped Scorpius onto the sofa, right next to Father. She then asked Hermione for the ClickCap and took a few photos. "Go and give Grandfather a great big kiss, Scorpius!" she told Scorpius.

Father sighed. "Dear," he spoke softly as Scorpius climbed up to his feet. "I can't— AH!" His eyes widened as the baby gripped a fistful of the man's long, silky hair to pull himself up higher so he could reach his grandfather's cheek. "Scorpius!" he hissed out in pain. Mother burst out into laughter and rapidly took pictures of Father's discomfort.

"Someone get him off!" Father pleaded as if he was being attacked by some vicious monster.

Hermione snickered next to Draco as his father tried to pry the boy's hand from his hair. Draco laughed himself before he went to help the man out.

"Merlin, that boy has an iron grip!" Father said, rubbing his sore head. "Leave my hair alone, boy!" he scolded Scorpius, shaking a finger at him. "Never touch Grandfather's hair! Never!"

Scorpius hid his face into Draco's shoulder. "Derbla..." he sniveled.

Draco rubbed his back. "How did you expect him to react?" he asked Scorpius, murmuring into his ear. "One's hair is very sensitive. Or rather their head is, really..."

He then went to a round tin container for some blue tinsel. "Want to try something fun?" He took a handful of the shiny material and shook it in front of Scorpius's face. "Ooh, is that pretty," Draco drawled, watching his son's mouth form an 'O' shape at the sparkling shreds. "This is easy. You just stand in front of the tree and give it a good toss." He demonstrated the movement, and Scorpius twitched around in his arms with excitement.

"Gah! Gah!"

Draco then allowed him to grab his own handful to throw at the tree. "Great job!" Draco said when the pieces clung to the tree. Not a one fell to the floor. "Keep that up and you may just be the next Lavin McCardin."

"And who's that?" Hermione asked, over hearing Draco.

"The best Chaser in the league right now," he announced with a grin.

"Draco has a man crush on him," Father spoke up without taking his eyes off his task of unsnarling the decorations, having had returned to it after Scorpius had been removed from him.

"I do not!"

Father took a second to raise his eyes up to Hermione. "Really, it's worse than the one he used to have on Harry Potter."

"Lucius!" Mother scolded. "That's not nice!"

Father smirked. "Oh, he knows I'm only joking!"

"Although, you were pretty obsessed," Hermione teased Draco gently, bopping him on his nose with a finger and giggling when he chomped his teeth playfully at her.

"Yeah, whatever," Draco said, rolling his eyes. That was a part of his life that he didn't really want to think about anymore.

Even if it was in a joking matter.

"What Christmas traditions did you use to do with your parents, Mione?" Draco questioned hours later. She was snuggled next to him while Scorpius sat in his lap, skimming through a book called "The Polar Express".

Hermione's eyes glazed over with a hollow sadness, looking at the litten tree the family had finished decorating that evening. He felt her press closer against him for comfort. "We didn't do much," she said, sniffing a moment later. "They were very busy people, but they tried making time for me. And on Christmas Eve, every year, we would camp out in our sleeping clothes for the entire night, reading to each other until we just fell asleep."

Draco reached around her, and tucked an arm under the blanket that was draped over her. "That's a real lovely way to celebrate the holiday, love," he said, leaning down to plant a kiss in her nest of sweet, smelling hair. "We should do that. Tonight. Right here."

Hermione sat up to look at him. "Really?"

"Well, only if you want... I wouldn't want to bring back sad memories for you..."

"I want to!" she gasped out emotionally, and leaned toward Draco, hugging him. "Thank you," she whispered, near tears. "You have no idea how much I miss them...

"I can only imagine..." His lips twitched in his sadness for her loss of parents. His strong Gryffindor... How she had managed to go on after everything she had been through, he would never know.

Together, they made beds on the floor, near the base of the tree where some wrapped gifts had been placed at. They lay down with Scorpius between them, taking turns reading to their son, and when Scorpius had finally dozed off, they read to each other until neither one of them could keep an eye open for a moment longer.

Chapter Text

Early, in the following morning, before the sun was even set to rise, Scorpius squinted his eyes in his wake, and lifted his head up to look around. His vision was quite distort, as his eyes were still adjusting from having slept a while. He rubbed them clear and yawned. Then, he looked at his parents.

First at his daddy. He slept on his tummy, and had his arm bridged over Scorpius's small body where it was set atop of Mumma's hip, who was on her side, facing both Scorpius and Daddy. Daddy was breathing softly, sleeping peacefully; something he got to do a lot of recently, since Mumma and Daddy slept together side by side every night now.

Mumma had her hands tucked under her cheek to act as a pillow. She was snoring slightly, even though her mouth was tightly shut. Mumma was smiling. Scorpius sensed she was dreaming of nice things. Happy memories maybe.

Scorpius looked up at the Christmas tree that he had fun decorating with his family many hours ago. He smiled, thinking about it, pleased that everyone had participated without too much of an argument. It was progress, he thought.

Carefully, Scorpius rolled over onto his limbs. His back grazed his Daddy's arm in the movement, but he knew Daddy was in a heavy slumber and wouldn't wake from the touch. He crawled out from between his parents, all the while focusing on a blue tinted Christmas bauble, admiring how the glare of the multicoloured lights flickered off it.

Why was it this colour? he asked himself. Out of all the colours in the entire world, what was it about blue that fascinates me so much?

He sat just at the edge of the tree, and reached up to tug on a branch, exploring the prickling feeling of the needles.

Mumma's favourite colour isn't blue, he thought. It wasn't even red, as much as Daddy liked to think it was (obviously, Mumma hadn't told Daddy what colour she really liked). Scorpius was beginning to learn that many people thought you liked a certain colour because of the Hogwarts house you were sorted into, but that wasn't actually a fact. How could a sorting determine what colours you like? And it would be pointless to be sorted into a house based off your favourite color.

And Daddy's most favourite colour is...

Scorpius looked at his father, wrinkling his eyebrows in concentration. Daddy's favourite colour wasn't green, though he quite liked it. It wasn't grey or black either, as some people would think it was because of the chosen colours he always wore. It was... Scorpius' lips twitched slightly in frustration. He wasn't quite sure what Daddy's favourite colour was. That disturbed him a little. He knew so much about Daddy (and also about his mumma—how could he not, he was bound to them, afterall), but not knowing this tiny detail about Daddy bothered Scorpius. And he couldn't understand why.

Why should this matter to him? It's only a colour preference.

He twisted around, settling his eyes on something, suddenly remembering it. He wanted to touch it, but Mumma hadn't understood Scorpius when he had been pointing the object out to her earlier. He could check it out now, though, since he had the chance to.

With a determined look on his face, he began crawling to the display shelf. His eyes widened as he got closer to the item. It was so shiny; so pretty. Though it wasn't blue, it was still an object he would like to hold and play with— if he were careful with it. He certainly didn't want to break the precious thing.

*/*

Hermione stirred awake and opened her eyes a moment later. Draco was snuggled up next to her with an arm wrapped around her. She felt secure in his embrace. Protected and safe. She leaned forward, enclosing the tiny gap between their heads and kissed the tip of his nose, making it wiggle from her touch.

It was time to feed Scorpius. Gently, so she wouldn't wake him, she removed Draco's arm from her. She sat up, looking between their bodies for her son, but he wasn't there. She flipped off the blanket that covered her, thinking he may have somehow gotten underneath it.

That wasn't the case though. Her heart frantically began to pace. Malfoy Manor was enormous, and Scorpius was a fast mover. How long ago had he gotten away? She swallowed hard at the thought of him getting lost.

She tugged the blanket off of Draco, hissing, "Draco, wake up!"

He groaned, grasping the blanket and pulling it back to him.

"Draco!" She thumped him on his rear end.

"No," he moaned. "I'm too sleepy!" He then buried his head under the blanket.

"Scorpius is gone!" she shrieked, rolling from their makeshift bed and standing up.

That got Draco's attention. He bolted up from his laying position and tilted his head in confusion. "Gone?" he asked, searching the bed with his squinting eyes.

"He's crawled away!" Hermione retrieved her wand from the end table where she had placed it on the night before. Her eyes widened in terror. "He may have crawled down a flight of stairs and crack his head!" She ran out of the room then, frantically calling for the baby.

"Hermione!" Draco was sprinting up behind her. "Don't panic," he warned her, then called upon Toogy.

Hermione didn't pay him any attention as she ducked her head into every room she passed, calling out for Scorpius.

"Oh, Little One is with your father, sir," the House-elf answered after Draco asked where Scorpius was.

Hermione snapped around with a sigh of relief. "Where?!" she demanded.

"Master's telly room, miss!" Toogy responded, happily rocking on the balls of her feet.

"Thank you," Draco and Hermione both said in unison before Hermione dashed off to the room.

Draco hurried after her. "That was a bit of an overreaction," he told her seriously. "The Manor isn't as dangerous as you think. I grew up here," he added firmly.

"Sorry," she said breathlessly. "I just... he could get lost easily here. I know I could."

"There are five House-elves here who know pretty much everything that goes on. They know where every person in the Manor is located at in any given time. As you know, their magic is special. They also know when someone is physically harmed while under this roof..." He frowned a split second later and shook his head. "If Scorpius was hurt, we would have been notified of it immediately."

"Sorry," she repeated. "I wasn't thinking. I was just so scared, and I didn't know that the elves would know that..." she said shamefully.

"There's a lot about House-elves you don't seem to know. I would have thought with all the knowledge you have about everything, House-elves would have been one of the subjects you'd have read about more."

Hermione scoffed. "One thing I learned when reading books: many authors have biased opinions. With the lack of care that those poor creatures get, any book about them was considered rubbish to me!"

"And how many books about them have you read?"

She ducked her head at his narrowing eyes. "None... just a brief chapter in a book, explaining their slavery and devotion to their rotten masters. I found it utterly repulsive."

"And you based all your opinions about those who write about House-elves on a measly chapter in one book?" Draco asked, quirking up an eyebrow.

Hermione shrugged. "Most books I discovered about them weren't much different— according to the summaries I read. I wasn't interested in reading about their abuse. That 'measly' chapter was enough to make my skin crawl. It was pretty graphic."

He nodded. "You're right that most books about them cover the horrors many of them go through, and the abuse they are put through because a lot of people believe that the House-elves actually enjoy it and think they deserve it, but there are a few rare treasures that cover their side of their enslavement and their opinions about it."

"In favour of them?" she asked hopefully. "How they truthfully feel about their predicament?"

"Yes, and I so happen to have a few of them," Draco informed proudly. "I'll show them to you later, alright?"

Hermione smiled at him with a nod. "I would like to read them."

He returned her smile, looping an arm around her waist. "I know," he said, planting a simple kiss to her cheek. "That is why I brought it up. You'll need to read them before we start campaigning for their rights. If you want to be taken seriously, you should know every angle of the subject first."

Hermione agreed with him. People would take her much more seriously if she knew everything she could about them. Which meant she'd have to force herself to read those graphic stories on House-elves.

Draco patted her side with the hand that was rested against her waist. "It'll be alright," he said softly, noticing her gruesome look. "I'll be right here to help you."

"Nahdee!" Scorpius cheered from his place on his grandfather's knee when Draco and Hermione stepped into Mr. Malfoy's telly room.

"Ah, you're awake," Mr. Malfoy announced, standing up from the sofa. "Have a good sleepover?" he asked and let out a quiet snicker.

"It's our new Christmas tradition, Father," Draco informed smugly. His lips spread out into a grin as Mr. Malfoy raised his eyebrows to the announcement.

"What a strange tradition," Draco's father drawled in thought. "Might I ask why so?"

"My parents and I used to do it every Christmas," Hermione explained, taking an anxious Scorpius from Mr. Malfoy. "And I'm going to do it with Scorpius, because he's my son too." She gave the elder Wizard a pointed look, daring him to argue or perhaps forbid her from doing it.

"We are going to do it," Draco emphasized. "I'm her family now, just as she is mine."

Mr. Malfoy's eyes briefly flickered to his son. He stiffened a little. "If that is what you wish to do," he said with a tone that matched his stance. His upper lip twitched a little as he looked Hermione in the eye. "Best to keep a better eye on the boy, Draco." His eyes narrowed at Hermione. "Found him playing with your mother's snowglobe— you know, the special one."

Both Mr. Malfoy and Hermione looked over at Draco upon hearing him clear his throat. His eyes widened a little as he looked at his father for a lengthy few moments before they fell to Scorpius who began fussing, eager to nurse on Hermione. He nodded and tilted his head forward. "Yes, Father," he acknowledged.

"Oh!" Hermione huffed, and struggled with the baby as he started pulling down the neck of her night shirt in an effort to expose her breasts to him so he could feed. "Nahdee!" he screeched hungrily. "Dah!"

"Go and feed him, Mione," Draco told her. "Before he shreds your clothing into pieces." He chuckled slightly at that.

Hermione sent him a look before glancing embarrassingly at Mr. Malfoy.

"Breakfast will be ready in twenty-three minutes, Draco. Unless, of course you want to change that part of your Christmas tradition too?" Mr. Malfoy asked, all the while staring at Hermione, seemingly not noticing the struggle between his grandson and her.

She pursed her lips, hugging Scorpius close to her to slow his progress. "We'll be there," she informed him with as much patience as she could muster up. Then she hurried out of the room to find a private area to feed her son at.

Twenty minutes later, after putting a sleeping Scorpius down for a nap (since he had fallen asleep during his feeding), and dressing quickly so she wasn't in a complete mess, Hermione joined Draco and his parents in the dining room for Christmas breakfast.

When she was growing up, before the war, she used to cook Christmas breakfast with her mother. They had always made the same thing every year, another tradition that she missed; Cinnamon-raisin rolls, made from a dough Mum had prepared the night before.

Maybe she'd do that with Scorpius when he was older and make that into a tradition too. She had a short afterthought that Mr. Malfoy would likely disapprove his grandson cooking in the kitchen, but she tossed that aside. She didn't care if he would like the idea or not. Scorpius was her son; he had gotten to raise his own already. If she wasn't sad over the absence of her parents, she'd actually smile at the thought of Mr. Malfoy's scowl upon seeing his small look-alike spreading a layer of cinnamon and sugar on a sour-smelling dough.

"Are you alright?" Draco leaned toward her from next to her and asked.

She nodded tearfully, missing the time she had spent with her parents. "Yes," she managed to answer, but it came out in a whisper. "There is just so much food!" she said, forcing a smile. And really there was a lot of food. Five different pancakes, three types of french toast and toppings, eggs in just about every style you can think of, rainbows of fruit, bacon, ham, sausages, and even fish. Breakfast rolls, scones, and toast. There was also fresh yogurt and cereals. Hogwarts wasn't the only place that could put on a massive feast.

"Didn't think anyone could beat Hogwarts when it came to a food buffet, huh?" Draco said, dishing himself up some fruit.

His parents had already began filling their plates too. "Well, dig in dear," Mrs. Malfoy said from across the table when Hermione hadn't made a move to eat. "Don't let it get cold now. The House-elves worked very hard to prepare this for us. You wouldn't want their work to go to waste, would you?" she craftily said with a wink.

Hermione gave a faint smile to the woman who she had discovered recently could be very kind when she wanted to be. "Um... Happy Christmas, everyone," she said, folding her hands together and glancing around the table as the Malfoys all realized they hadn't said it to each other yet. They paused their chewing, looking at each other guiltily.

"Happy Christmas, Miss Granger." Mr. Malfoy was the first one to come to his senses. He inclined his head. "Happy Christmas to all of you."

"Indeed," Draco spoke up, lifting his fancy glass that contained milk in it. "Thank you, Hermione, for joining us on this fine Christmas morning."

Mr. Malfoy rolled his eyes at Draco's sappiness, but Mrs. Malfoy voiced a verbal agreement and lifted up a glass that matched Draco's, only she had chosen grape juice to drink. "Yes, thank you for being here with us today, Miss Granger." She gave her husband a pointed look who looked to have given a defeated sigh.

"Thank you, Miss Granger," he drawled as he, too, lifted his glass, giving her a toast.

Hermione held up her empty glass (she hadn't filled it with anything yet). "Thank you for having me," she said, smiling. "It has honestly been a very lovely time, and I appreciate all your hospitality."

After breakfast, owls started to arrive with many Christmas wishes and gifts for the Malfoys and Hermione. As always, Hermione received books as gifts, enough to nearly fill an entire book shelf. This meant that when she got home, she'd have to transfigure a new shelf and then rearrange her collection of books(even though she had already done it a few months ago when she had gotten books for her birthday). She noticed that she had received a few copies that she had already owned (this happened to her more often than not). She was just going to donate them to the Hogwarts library, as she did any other time.

As everyone else was opening their own gifts from their friends, Hermione immediately wrote out thank you notes, and after asking Draco if she could borrow little Preetea (his owl), she sent them off to be delivered.

*/*

By nine AM, Scorpius was ready to have his first Christmas. They had all chosen to wait until he woke back up before they opened the gifts they had gotten each other.

Hermione brought Scorpius down to "The Christmas Room" (as she called it), and she and Draco sat down by the tree, with their little son near them.

Magically, they divided the gift boxes and bags into separate piles, each belonging to a different person. Now it was time to teach Scorpius how this all worked.

"Let him open ours first!" Mother said with bright, excited eyes.

"Alright, alright, let's open up Grandfather and Grandmother's first then," Draco said to his son. He and Hermione showed Scorpius how to rip the wrapping paper.

"Das!" Scorpius laughed at the sound of the ripping paper, giggling uncontrollably. Mother hovered above, recording the whole thing with Draco's ClickCap.

Mother and Father had gotten Scorpius a pile of reading books for magical children. Scorpius squealed in delight, and Hermione curiously look over the ones she never even know existed, pointing out pictures to the baby. Scorpius slapped at the books excitedly.

Then it was time for Hermione's gift to Scorpius. She had gotten him a disgusting set of lion pajamas (complete with a tail and mane). Draco thought it was atrocious, but Scorpius was thrilled by it and fingered the silky mane with interest.

Draco got his son some building toys that magically changed their shape every so often, to make things more challenging for him. They were normally for toddlers a bit more older than Scorpius was, but Draco knew his son was a brilliant kid, and he would need the added exercise for his ever developing mind.

Scorpius also got lots more new clothes and toys from his parents and grandparents. His godparents sent him over something too, in which Draco couldn't help mocking at. It was a blue painted wooden box, nearly big enough for Draco to climb into. According to the note Potter had left for Hermione to read after the box had enlarged itself upon opening the gift, it was something that both Albus and James loved playing in. Father doubted this was going to entertain Scorpius as much as Draco did, but Scorpius had to prove them wrong by crawling into it and expressing his love for it by smacking at the sides of the box, screeching out in glee.

The last gift for Scorpius was what both Draco and Hermione gotten for the three of them. They had picked out the gift together. It was an ornament to go on the Christmas tree for many years to come. They had had it custom made, whittled out of wood and hand painted.

Mother thought it was breathtaking as she studied the ornament that was a replicate of Draco, Hermione, and Scorpius having a sleigh ride in the snow. Engraved on the side of the sleigh was the mark of their bond. The green marking of it stood out well against the red painted sleigh.

"It's beautiful," Mother whispered. "And has incredible meaning."

"We thought it was perfect too," Draco said, and helped Scorpius hang it on the tree.

Then the adults exchanged their presents. Draco had gotten his father a few DVDs to add to his collection. He had gotten Mother a few specially made candle waxes for a hobby that she had mentioned a couple weeks ago that she had wanted to try.

For Hermione, Draco had given her three different books about House-elves, books that he had thought she had been needing to read for a while, and now with her wanting to campaign for their rights, this just gave him an excuse to have her read them. He also got her something more personal, even though he knew she would like the books more. He held up the silvery otter (the form of her patronus) hair barrette.

"Oh, it's just so beautiful!" she gasped out, taking it from him so she could look at it. It had been dipped in silver glitter and two spinel gems made up the eyes, twinkling red when the light hit it just right. "I love it," she said, smiling and handing it back so he could put it in her hair.

Gracefully, he clipped it on. It acted more as a decoration than anything, since Hermione already had her hair tied up behind her head, but it was a nice accessory to have in her hair.

"Thank you." She lightly pecked his cheek with a kiss.

"You're welcome," Draco said, squeezing her hand.

Hermione had gotten him some books he had never heard of before. She told him that they were from the Muggle world. Some of them he wasn't quite sure of, but there was one book that did pique his interest a little. Apparently, Muggles were creating new species of plants using science. It fascinated him that they were taking an apple tree and a peach tree and 'infusing' them together, making a different tree all together. Some Herbologists had tried doing something similar, but only a very few had been successful, but reading that the Muggles were trying to do the same thing definitely interested him.

Draco's parents had given him an endless amount of gifts, including clothing, books, DVDs, and sweets. They had gotten Hermione her very own ClickCap which she happily informed that she had been thinking of getting one herself, and was relieved to have waited before she bought one.

Lastly, was the gift that Draco and Hermione had put together for his parents. It had been Hermione's idea, and Draco had loved it. He just hoped it was good enough for them.

He cleared his throat uneasily, handing the wrapped package to his mother. "This was Hermione's idea," he murmured quickly to Mother, tossing his girlfriend a wary look, who crossed her arms after over-hearing him, knowing he was implying blame to her if they didn't like it.

Mother smiled just the same. "Then, I'm sure it's a thoughtful gift indeed."

Draco nodded in agreement. Thoughtful it was, but definitely not pricy... It didn't cost them hardly anything, and that's what he was worried about.

Mother unearthed a green and blue swirl coloured book and curiously opened it. "Oh my," she whispered. Her lips stretched out across her face. "This is amazing! Look Luci!" But Father was already leaning over her shoulder in his own curiosity of it.

"What is that?!" Father demanded suddenly, pointing to a specific area on the page. Hermione let out a weak chuckle. "Draco did that," she tattled.

"You took a picture of me while I was sleeping?" Father narrowed his eyes at Draco, looking as if he had just blabbed out his deepest, darkest secret.

Draco laughed. "I couldn't help it! You and Scorpius looked so cute together!"

"Look!" Mother gasped in excitement. "There's me trying to feed Scorpius!"

"Trying being the key word," Father drawled playfully, already having had forgotten what Draco had done. "I remember that," he chuckled. "I think he wanted to have a food fight more than anything!"

"And here's a picture of Draco's reaction to Scorpius spitting up on him!" Mother laughed.

"There's also one of Draco's horrid face after getting peed on," Hermione supplied. "Page fifteen!"

Draco groaned. "I told you that I only wanted pictures involving Scorpius in the photo album, Hermione!"

"She knew what we'd want. Right Luci," Mother said cheerfully.

Father chuckled again. "It is a pretty humorous photo, Draco. Thank you, you two. This is a wonderful gift."

"You're welcome!" Hermione said, pleased with herself in having Father say such a thing to her (even if it involved Draco in the mix).

Draco let out a sigh of relief. They liked the photo album with pictures of Scorpius with his parents and grandparents. He was grateful for that. Draco certainly didn't want to disappoint his parents on Christmas.

"Happy Christmas," he said happily. "Thank you all for being a part of my life."

His wish was echoed around the room, and Hermione and Draco went around to the back of the sofa to reminisce over the first six months of Scorpius's life while the baby played by himself with his mountain of new toys.

"Oh, you just must sing, Draco!" Mother pleaded with shining eyes.

Draco groaned. "Must I?" he asked childishly. Why did she always have to embarrass him? And he really didn't like singing. He sounded like such a girl!

"Oh, I would love to hear you sing," Hermione chimed, wearing a teasing smirk.

Draco pointed a finger at her. "No," he growled.

"Please, Draco?" Mother asked.

Draco shut his eyes to avoid his Mother's puppy-dog face she would do when she wanted him to do something that he flat out refused.

"It's tradition, son." Father's voice weaseled into his head.

"Oh, you wouldn't want to break such a lovely tradition!" Mother added excitedly.

"Fine," Draco seethed. "But one song! Then you all have to sing with me! Including you!" he said to Hermione, who blushed shyly.

"Oh, I don't—"

"If I have to, you do too!"

"Sounds like a swell rule," Mother said, getting up from the sofa. "This way." She gestured to everyone to follow her. Draco went over to pick up his son, grabbing up a stuffed bat that he was currently having a conversation with.

"Derbla!" Scorpius said before his attention went back to the toy.

"Where are we going?" Hermione asked when they had all filed out into the hallway.

"To the piano," Draco answered in a matter-of-fact. "Father's going to play it while we sing."

"He is?" Hermione was shocked.

"I am," Father simply spoke up behind them.

After a lengthy walk, they entered into a large room with a piano, fluffy furniture to sit in, and a fireplace with a crackling, roaring fire. They all circled around the piano as Father sat on the bench and wiggled his fingers in preparation.

"Song choice?" he asked Draco.

" 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' " Draco said after a quick thought, and his father gave a nod before he began playing. Then Draco sang the bloody song to make his mother happy. When he was finished, he announced that they all sing We Three Kings, saying he'd sing the first verse, father could join him on the second, then Mother and Hermione could join them in the chorus.

Scorpius even sang with them, though he spoke no real words, but he had fun just the same. They sang a few more songs, as Draco was enjoying himself when Scorpius had started singing, finding that incredibly priceless.

After seven songs, Father declared that his fingers were cramping, and so they stopped. It was tea time anyway, as Pipsy had been kindly waiting for them to finish their last song so she could serve it.

*/*

"You sing really well," Hermione complimented when they had returned to the Gordin Manor. They had survived their week stay at Draco's parents, and Draco thought it had been fairly pleasant, considering.

"Yes," he agreed, taking the suitcase that contained all of their things that she had packed for them to their bedroom.

"You should do it more often. I'd love to hear you sing more!"

"Gah!" Scorpius added his opinion.

Draco snorted. "No," he said firmly. "I only sing for my mother, and only on Christmas, and maybe her birthday— sometimes."

"But why?" Hermione asked. "You have a very nice voice."

"I sound like a bloody school girl!" Draco grumbled. He set the suitcase on their bed and took his wand out of his suit to snap the suitcase open with a spell, which sent the items levitating into the air and then flying into all different directions. Scorpius, who Hermione had set on the floor to crawl around, squealed in delight, watching the items put themselves away.

"You sound so lovely though!" Hermione argued.

Draco gave her a look. "Oh, That's just what every man wants to hear!" He rolled his eyes. "How lovely their voice sounds when they sing!"

She sighed and sat on the bed, watching Scorpius busy himself with peering under the bed. "So... what was so special about your mother's snowglobe?" She changed the subject, as if the thought had just entered her mind.

Draco cleared his throat and looked away. Suddenly, his shirt felt like it was strangling him. He loosened his tie and pulled at the collar of his shirt. "It's... not something I'm ready to discuss..." he said uneasily, avoiding her eyes.

"Okay..." Her response was unsure and quite curious, but she respected his answer and didn't ask about it again. He was relieved. The snowglobe was a special thing. Something he didn't want to spoil for her.

The next morning, Preetea delivered a letter to Draco in the middle of breakfast. Hermione's spoon clattered down to her bowl as Draco held out a slice of an apple to his companion.

"So, that's what he eats!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, so?" Draco wasn't sure why she was making such a big deal out of it.

"I've tried all sorts of meats, and he never takes them! I've never seen an owl refuse a piece of bacon before!"

Draco chuckled. "Preetea is a vegetarian," he informed, petting his owl's silky feathers.

"Really?" She was in absolute shock by the announcement. "You mean, she doesn't even hunt?"

"Oh, she hunts, but she doesn't eat what she catches."

"But then... what does she do with her killings? Surely she doesn't just let them die for nothing?"

Draco focused his sole attention on the letter he had received. Noticing who the addressee was, he hugged the envelope to his chest and stood up. He shrugged. "I don't know what she does with her catches. I've never given it much thought."

"Where are you going?" Her voice came from behind him as he left his unfinished breakfast to exit the room, wanting to read his letter in private.

"Nowhere," he said distantly, ripping open the envelope with a mild eagerness.

Dear Flamethrower,

Your latest idea is extremely brilliant! After thorough testing and variations, we've come up with a few prototypes that we plan to put on the shelves after the New Year's. We believe we'll make buckets of Galleons with this epic creation of yours. We have even contacted the company that partners with Bertie Botts for his jelly bean flavourings, hoping for a partnership of our own. This will broaden the product beyond what we can even imagine!

We'll let you know either way! Keep your eyes crossed!

George Weasley

P.S. We're going to launch the product in a new brand name called "The Flamethrower"! Let us know what you think about that. We feel we owe it to you, plus it's just a pretty wicked name, don't you think?!

Draco smirked to himself and cast a spell on the letter so only his eyes could read it. It was too great to rip it up and throw it away. He didn't want anyone else to know who the true identity behind "The Flamethrower" was. No one knew besides him (and Preetea, obviously) anyway.

And he liked it that way. At least for now. Once "The Flamethrower" was a popular brand, then maybe he'd reveal himself.

Maybe.

For now, he'd just be happy with admiring his brilliant, anonymous ideas being made into reality.

Chapter Text

Draco jiggled his son, speaking softly to the crying baby. Scorpius had been cranky for the past three hours. Nothing seemed to soothe him. Draco held him close to his chest, frustrated that he was unable to help Scorpius with his teething pain.

Hermione paced the floor near him, matching his feelings of helplessness. She stopped suddenly, her face lighting up. "What about the ice cream cone?" she suggested. "The one your father gives him?"

Draco nodded slowly, considering her idea. When they were at the Manor, Father gave Scorpius one anytime he got really bad tantrums, and every time, it had turned his mood around.

Hermione tilted her head in thought. "We'll have to ask him how it's made and what it's made of, then I can make up some for Scorpius myself."

"Alright," Draco agreed, shifting his thrashing son to his other arm. He called up Toogy to ask his father for the recipe. She returned shortly to inform Draco that his father was going to floo over. Draco found that odd. Why didn't father just write down the ingredients on some parchment and have Toogy deliver it?

The small family went down to the room where the floo was at, and before long, a swirl of green flames lit up the room. Father elegantly stepped through, wearing a blank expression.

Draco glanced at Hermione, seeing that she wore a puzzled look on her face. He, too, was mildly confused. Father didn't tend to mask his emotions so strongly unless he was hiding something.

Father swept to Scorpius and patted the small boy's head. He broke his mask of emotion, frowning slightly at his grandson, obviously feeling a bit of sympathy for him. With a dramatic wave of his hand, he wandlessly conjured up an ice cream cone for Scorpius.

"Here you are, Scorpius," he spoke softly and took the baby from Draco.

Scorpius's wailing ceased immediately at the sight of the treat. "Gah!" he tearfully squealed in relief, and sunk his sore gums into the pure white, creamy confection.

"So, what's in it?" Hermione asked, walking to a desk and pulling open a drawer to take out a Muggle pen and a piece of paper.

Father said nothing. Instead, he stared at Scorpius. He plucked a piece of lint off the boy's shirt and flicked it into the air, watching it slowly flutter down to the floor.

Hermione tapped her foot in impatience. "We can't certainly call you every time he needs a relief from his pain!"

Father wouldn't look at either Draco or Hermione. Draco knew him quite well. If he wasn't willing to make eye contact, he was either experiencing fear or guilt. And Draco was sure it was the latter.

"Father?" Draco prompted. "What have you done?" He braced himself, stiffening up. He knew Father wouldn't do anything to hurt Scorpius. He absolutely adored that baby (probably more than he had when Draco was a baby), but he surely did something that he obviously thought either he or Hermione would disapprove of.

"It's no big deal," Father said with a shrug— an attempt to brush his guilt off.

"What is no big deal?" Hermione's eyes were narrowed up at the man, trying to figure him out. She crossed her arms.

Father's eyes shifted to her for just a split second, and just as quickly, he looked back at Scorpius, who was now humming delightfully as he made a mess of himself with his ice cream.

Father licked his lips. This caused Draco to also cross his arms in front of his chest. "Out with it," he ordered with a sigh. "We already know you've done something to the ice cream."

Hermione bit her lip. "I don't know what it could be that you'd think we'd disapprove of..." she wondered out loud, speaking to Father, mimicking Draco's thoughts. "I'm quite curious to know what you've done though."

An uneasy throat clearing came from Draco's father. He stroked Scorpius' hair affectionately. "The ice cream is primarily made of bananas, coconut, and cultured milk."

"And...?" Draco pressed. One of his eyebrows rose up, waiting for him to finish with his confession.

"It's safe," Father assured firmly.

"What is safe?!" Hermione huffed. "Mr. Malfoy, as that boy's mother, I have the right to know what he's consuming!"

Father paused the stroking of Scorpius's hair with her irritated tone. He nodded and resumed to the movement. "It was all my doing," he said, looking at Draco. "Draco had nothing to do with it, Miss Granger."

"Mr. Malfoy," Hermione seethed, losing her cool. "Just spit it out already, would you?"

"Along with numbing and pain relieving ingredients, it has a mild sedative." Scorpius, now finished with his ice cream, rested his head against his grandfather's chest and heaved out a sigh of comfort. His sticky hand went up to his mouth, where he inserted two of his fingers into it suck on. His eyes were growing heavy with sleep.

"That's it?" Hermione's arms fell to her side, looking confused, all frustration gone from her tone.

"I've been... drugging your baby, Miss Granger," Father confessed, tilting his head up from Scorpius to look her in the eye. "You should be furious."

"Father, there's nothing wrong with a sedative," Draco said gently.

"No, but to the... Muggles it is—"

Hermione burst out laughing. "Muggles have sleeping agents in their pain relieving products too, Mr. Malfoy! Some even have lotions that you put on babies in which claim to make them sleepy!"

Father curled his lip at her, not liking that she was laughing at him. "Excuse my ignorance then, Miss Granger," he snarled. "Some of us only grew up in one world."

Her smile vanished, replaced with a thoughtful frown. "I apologize for offending you, sir. You have nothing to worry about though. It's fine for Scorpius to have something to aid with his sleep. We all know that some days it's just too painful for him to do it on his own."

Father grunted. "I wasn't worried about anything," he said unconvincingly. He rubbed the back of the sleeping Scorpius and kissed the top of his head. Draco watched his lips move as he whispered something to the baby before he stepped back up to Draco so he could take him from him.

"I'll write down the recipe for you then, Miss Granger. Draco can have his elf make it for you."

Hermione's face scrunched up. "I can do it myself."

"She's an excellent cook," Draco added quickly, earning a questioning look from his father, who rolled his eyes a moment later.

"No Hogwarts graduate should be caught in the kitchen cooking," he said in complete disgust.

"I enjoy it," Hermione told him with a wide smile.

Draco took that as she found it enjoyable to annoy him. He decided it was wise to not say anything in this conversation. He agreed with both his father and girlfriend on this subject. It was most definitely best to stay out of this one.

"You would," Father retorted with a patronizing drawl. He eyed the pen she held out for him. "What in great heavens is that?!"

"You have a DVD player, but don't know what a pen is?"

He carefully took the Muggle writing tool from her, wrinkling his nose at it. "I know what a pen is, I've just never seen one before," he informed her in his superior tone. "They have quite a few items, there's not enough time in a day to learn and experience them all," he said, walking to the desk for a hard surface to write on.

"Not if you sit in front of the telly all day," Hermione muttered under her breath.

"Don't think I didn't hear that, Miss Granger," Father said dryly without looking up from his task. "I find Muggle sports much more interesting than their... pens." He eyed the pen over before setting it onto the desk.

He folded the piece of paper she had given him to write on and held it out for her to approach him and take it. She did, but he didn't let go of it right away. The two had an eerie, silent staring match that seemed to last several minutes.

Draco cleared his throat, making his father loosen his hold on the paper, and Hermione tugged on it with an unnecessary force. As soon as she had possession it, she unfolded it, and scanned her eyes over the words.

"Well, you have what you need then," Father announced simply.

Hermione nodded. "Thank you, sir," she said with a tiny smile. "I'd never thought to put ginger in ice cream." She let out a small giggle and pocketed the recipe.

"It is the season when we come down with contagious illnesses. Preventative measures is much more easier than dealing with an ill baby. You don't want that, trust me." He paused at that statement, looking away. "Not that you have any reason to trust me," Father added in a low voice. He then abruptly walked around her and went to the floo. "You know where I'll be if you need anymore of my expertise," he said stiffly, taking a handful of floo powder from the cup that sat on the mantle.

"Thank you, Father," Draco spoke up.

"Yes, thank you," Hermione echoed.

The elder man just nodded and stepped into the fireplace. He spoke the words slowly and tossed the powder to his feet. The flames circled around him and then he was gone.

Hermione took the paper back out of her pocket, giving it a thorough reading. "Holy Merlin!" she gasped after a few moments."He's brilliant!" Her eyes lit up and she whirled around in her spot, hurrying out of the room. "I knew he wasn't a thick man, but until now, I didn't realize how smart he was." She was speaking more to herself at this point, having forgotten Draco altogether. Living with her all these months, and studying her nature, Draco had learned a lot about his girlfriend and her reactions.

Though, he already knew how smart his father was, something had snagged her attention, and Draco was just a little curious on what made her come into realization that his father was an intelligent man. He followed Hermione, who was absorbed in her thoughts, talking to herself in a rush of words that were coming out so fast, he couldn't make sense of them. If he didn't know better, he'd say she was under some sort of hysteria.

She ended her walk at the kitchen, and Draco sat in a chair, watching her intently. She anxiously bustled around the kitchen, gathering up utensils and ingredients.

Draco wrinkled his nose at what all she had pulled out. With as many herbs and vegetables that was in the recipe, he wondered how his son was even able to eat the ice cream without hurling it up.

"Cayenne peppers?" He raised his eyebrows. The cayenne pepper was a spicy food, and Scorpius didn't really have a taste for that yet, and may never acquire it.

And it wasn't that Draco didn't know the preventative and healing properties of these ingredients, but he also knew that throwing them all together would taste like shite. It's one thing to drink a healing potion with these things in it— you expect it to taste horrid— but to eat it as a snack, a treat— to eat it willingly, made him wonder.

Draco's thoughts swirled around in his mind. He didn't speak out loud to himself while he was processing, like Hermione did. Most Slytherins knew better than that. People could steal your ideas, or find out your motives if you did that. He sat silently, rolling over the abundance of ingredients in his head, trying to decide what his father must had covered up the horrid taste with.

Of course, he could have just looked at the paper in Hermione's hand, but he enjoyed a little challenge every once in awhile.

Father wouldn't use sugar. There was enough sugar content in the fruit, and giving a child an abundance of sugar was counterproductive when it came to a sleeping agent. Not to mention, garlic flavoured sugar wasn't too appetizing.

As he mentally went through of a long list of stuff that was used in potions, Hermione carefully did exactly what the recipe said to do. If Draco had been paying much attention to her, he would have rolled his eyes. Only certain potions and ingredients required such carefulness. A lot of mixtures you could experiment with— that is, if you knew what you were doing.

Half an hour later, Scorpius stirred in Draco's arms, pulling him from his thoughts. That's when he noticed Hermione wasn't even in the kitchen any longer. He narrowed his eyes. Where had she gone to?

He stood up gently as to not wake up his son. Draco took Scorpius to their room and set him on the changing table to clean up his sticky face and hands. Then he placed him into his cot, tucking him in. "Sleep well, chomper," he whispered to the sleeping baby.

When he left the room, closing the door behind him, he called out for Hermione.

"The kitchen!" she called out distractedly.

So Draco returned to the kitchen. Hermione was measuring a clear, thick liquid from a tiny, unlabeled bottle. She put two teaspoons in the brown muck that she was working on and stirred it. They watched it turn pure white, looking like a soft form of Scorpius's favourite treat.

Hermione dipped her finger into the creation and put it into her mouth. She smiled. "Amazing!"

"What covered the taste up?" he asked, curiosity winning over his strive for a challenge.

"Eliminated it," she corrected. "Faiyah Syrup!"

"Faiyah Syrup...?" A concoction made from the happy tears of fairies. "What does that—"

"George uses it to make some of his joke products!" Her eyes widened right after she said that. "Oh... I don't think I was supposed to say that..."

Draco tilted his head in confusion, making a mental note of the information she just gave him. "Faiyah Syrup is used to thicken some potions," he said. "I've never seen it change colour of anything... until now..."

"Not with potions with a water base, no," she said. "This is a milk base though, it reacts differently to milk— that's what fairies drink as their sole nutrient—"

"I know that already," Draco impatiently interrupted. "Faiyah Syrup didn't thicken this product either, though."

"It won't with a milk base, but it does cancel out all the flavours," Hermione explained. "Try it!"

With interest, Draco took the spoon Hermione had used to stir the mixture with and tasted it. She was right. It had no flavour. "So how do you get an infant to eat something with absolutely no taste?" he asked himself.

Hermione snatched a banana off the table, peeled it, and placed it into the bowl. Without her assistance, the mixture swallowed the banana with a "glub". It swirled, mixing the banana into itself. When it stopped, Hermione took her wand from the table where she had placed it.

"Duratus."

The mixture hardened and froze up stiff, now looking like the ice cream that Father often gave Scorpius.

She took a package of empty ice cream cones and magically spooned a scoop of 'ice cream' into one, holding it for Draco.

He took it, giving it another taste. He was impressed. It tasted like a fresh banana. That meant that the Faiyah Syrup canceled out any flavour, except whatever was added after it. "Oh, that is brilliant..." he drawled.

Why hadn't father said anything to him about it? Maybe he didn't think it was necessary, since most potions weren't made from a milk base, and potions was what Draco focused mostly on.

"Extremely," she said, and licked her own ice cream cone. Her eyes lit up. "I can make a healthy chocolate dessert!"

Draco set his ice cream on the table, sensing that his was body relaxing. He remembered then that there was a sleeping agent in this concoction. "My father should think about taking this idea to the market. He'd make buckets!"

Hermione laughed. "It's always about money with you, isn't it?"

Draco gave a curt nod. "It is my responsibility to ensure the future of the many generations to come with my family."

She quietly licked her ice cream, saying nothing to that. Money was a sore subject with them. Draco knew she really didn't like arguing with him, and often would drop the subject of money before it could escalate into a fight.

One day, she'd have to realize that Scorpius would be doing the same thing. If the Malfoys got lazy, they'd grow poor, and eventually have to fight to survive. That was not going to happen though. Money was power, and that was something he wasn't going to let her talk him from.

There was nothing wrong with working and being rich from it (or in his case, remaining rich).

Draco then wondered why his Father hadn't taken his creation into production. He'd certainly have to ask him later about it.

* / *

Hermione sunk into the tub, letting out a deep sigh of comfort. The water wasn't as good as the tub at Malfoy Manor, in which the tub there had magical properties that was mixed into the water upon its fill-up, but this one still felt nice. Much more relaxing than a shower, for sure.

Ordinarily. she wouldn't use the tubs here (they were just so enormous), but she was teaching her son to swim, and what was better than having something the size of a swimming pool to do it in? A perfectly heated one at that?

She knew it was just an excuse to use the tub, but Draco seemed to believe her story. She was relieved by that. He'd never let her forget it if he found out the true reasoning behind her wanting to use the tub.

She liked it. She liked a lot. Probably even loved it.

And Scorpius did need to learn to swim— so no big deal.

"What in the world are those?" Draco asked behind her, making her jump a mile.

"I thought you had potions to brew?!" she shrieked, slightly angry at him for startling her. "You're supposed to be at your parents'!"

His lips formed a grin. "Couldn't concentrate..." he said, and began removing his layer of clothes. "The thought of you in this tub—" He let out a low, seductive growl, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

Hermione rolled her eyes and leaned back against the wall of the tub, watching her son splash in the water near her. "I'm not here for that," she huffed.

Draco let out a doubtful hum. "Sure you are,"

"And, anyway," she hissed as he stepped into the tub, sinking down next to her, completely in the nude. "We can't do anything with Scorpius watching us." She eyed the boy closely, who was looking at them with interest, wearing a grin that seemingly matched his father's.

"Dankah!" Scorpius slapped at the surface of the water, sending a few droplets their way.

Draco chuckled and gently splashed him back. "So what are those things around his arms?" he repeated his earlier inquiry, to Hermione's relief. His closeness was not helping her though. Or rather, his nakedness.

She pursed her lips, trying to close out the thought of wanting to kiss him.

And other things. Things that they should not do while their son was present and in the wake.

"Floatation devices," she answered.

"I know that, but why? Why not just use magic?"

"It's how I learned to swim," Hermione told him. "I'm not sure how a magical child can learn to swim if magic is protecting them the whole time."

"Yet, using a Muggle device is different?" One of his eyebrows lifted up with the question. He separated from her to go to their son.

Hermione rubbed her tingling arm that had been touching his. "Why did you do that?!" she asked in frustration.

Draco was in the process of removing the floaties from Scorpius. "He needs to learn how to swim without all this rubbish," Draco told her, as if it the most simplest of things to know.

"Not that, Draco!" she huffed. "Why did you have to remove your clothes and sit next to me?!" she demanded. "Practically on me," she added in a mutter.

Draco smiled wickedly. "I know you can't refuse my naked touch," he said cockily, tossing the air filled Muggle devices out of the water, balancing Scorpius on the palm of his hand.

"You are such a creep!" she shrieked, and sat up at the edge of the tub. She wore a one piece bathing suit, and caught Draco's eyes scanning her body. When their eyes met, he gave her a wink and she grunted, crossing her legs. The heat between them was growing with need at the sight of his body. "What do you suppose we do now?" she demanded.

Draco laughed and shook his head, coaching their son through the water without having to speak any words of instruction to him. "What do you think, love?" he asked without taking his focus off the baby, who was doing an excellent job floating along the water without any help.

"There you go, son!" Draco applauded. "You're doing great!"

"You're so smart, Scorpius!" Hermione cheered excitedly, momentarily forgetting about Draco's hot, luscious body sitting before her.

"Dankah!" Scorpius madly flapped his arms and grabbed ahold of his father's nearby hand. He pulled himself up to Draco, who wrapped an arm around him and waded through the water on his knees back to Hermione.

Scorpius slapped Draco's bare chest, giggling. "Dankah, Derblah, dankah!"

"He's proud of himself," Draco said, tweaking the baby's nose teasingly, who responded by trying to shake his head from Draco's grip.

"Yes, he is," Hermione said.

Her face flushed as Draco settled himself beneath her, next to her thigh. He set his cheek against her skin and took his free hand, brushing it up her leg in a delicate, teasing stroke.

"Draco!" she smacked the back of his head.

"What?!" He ducked his head guiltily.

"The baby!"

"He doesn't mind!"

"We're not doing such a thing while he's around! He's so impressionable right now. It's wrong!"

"Yet, you believe he's not old enough to absorb such things," he argued with a grunt.

"This is different!"

"Fine, I'll agree with you." Draco stood up, pointing a finger at her. "But we are going to do it in here."

Hermione bit her lip at the sight of Draco's bouncing, erect member as he stepped out the tub. It was just inches from her face, she could literally take it with her hand and—

Hermione closed her eyes and took in a breath, holding it. She listed book titles in her head to take her mind off her need that was just within her reach.

"Alright," she whispered, all the while trying to block out his manly scent that made her belly flop with excitement. "We'll need to get our sexual tension out the way before Harry's party anyway," she said. She definitely didn't want to accidentally activate the bond like what had happened at Mrs. Malfoy's Christmas party.

There was no way she'd have sex in Harry and Ginny's house, full of kids and other people, who were all her friends.

Draco leaned down to plant a simple kiss atop of her head. "Terrific," he purred, before his footsteps could be heard, fading away. "I'll be back in ten minutes then," his voice echoed off the solid walls of the bathroom.

Hermione ran a hand down her face, sucking in several breaths. Curse that man! He did that all on purpose! He knew what his naked body did to her!

In mild frustration, she hopped off the edge of the tub and back into the water. The image of his body and his glowing eyes of passion made her squirm with need.

And hell if she was going to wait for him to return! Ten minutes?! She was already in enough torture!

Well, she could pacify her need for the time being...

She relaxed and closed her eyes, setting her hand between her legs, feeding into her desire to be touched.

"Oh, so you started without me?" Draco returned a bit later, amused at what he had came back to.

She smiled, pausing her pleasure-filled rubbing as he sat himself next to her once again, and pulled the shoulder strap of her bathing suit down and off her shoulder to kiss it. The touch of his soft lips sent a shiver to course throughout her body.

Hermione's fingers resumed to their movement as Draco slid down half of the bathing suit, exposing a breast. He gently kneaded it with a hand, and left a trail of kisses from her shoulder, up to her ear.

"Don't stop," he whispered to her when she pulled her hand up to slip her other arm through its strap of the bathing suit.

"I'm not going to." She kissed his neck while he guided her arm free and out of the strap. He moaned softly to the image of her bare chest and took a nipple into his mouth to suck on. He guided her hand and replaced it back between her legs, encouraging her to resume to her rubbing.

Hermione closed her eyes, lost in a moment of passion as she stroked her swollen bud. Draco heightened her arousal with the attention his mouth was giving her nipple. He grazed the pad of his thumb over her other nipple, perking it up.

Hermione let out a moan. "Draco!" She gasped, opening up her eyes to find his stormy, grey ones staring at her with an intense need. He lifted his head up from her chest and pressed his body to hers. "Don't stop!" he ordered, brushing his lips against her own. "Cum for me, Mione." He lay a kiss to her open lips. "I want to taste you," he told her pleadingly. "Let me taste your sweet orgasm, love."

Hermione sped up her movement, bringing herself closer to what Draco wanted. Her legs began to shake, her breathing quickened. Her hand grew tired, cramping from the excessive pressure she applied to her pussy, but she didn't care. Draco wanted to taste her. She wanted him to taste her. She wanted him to devour her. She wanted him claim her.

"Yes, that's it, darling," Draco groaned against her lips. "Rub it. Rub it harder, rub it faster." He took her mouth with his, forcing Hermione to breathe through her nose. Their tongues eagerly met and tangled into one another, like they were two lovers who hadn't seen each other since forever.

She pulled from him, separating their mouths so she could scream as she hit her release, shuddering with each pulse.

"Merlin," Draco said, lifting her out of the water, and sitting her on the ledge. He removed her bathing suit completely, tossing it behind him in the water, and he spread her legs wide apart, admiring her wet pussy.

Hermione laid onto her back. "Do it," she panted. "Finger me, Draco!"

He did as she ordered, inserting two fingers into her, fucking her with them. She groaned. "Oh, God, yes!" She thrust up and he added a third finger, coating his fingers with her fluid.

"Can I taste you now, Mione?" he asked huskily.

"Please," she gasped out, anticipating his mouth's pleasurable kissing.

He got himself comfortable between her legs and begin by nipping at her inner thighs, taking turns with them, sucking on little bits of skin. He moved inward, tickling her outer lips with the tip of his tongue, driving her insane.

"Draco!" She arched her back, tossing her hips at him. "Stop teasing me!"

"You're so impatient," he said. He blew at her unprotected flesh, making her smile. She set her hips back down.

"You just like to toy with me!" She scrunched up her face, trying to remain in control as his mouth neared its destination.

"It makes it so much more enjoyable, doesn't it though?" And with that, he finally touched his tongue to her throbbing clit, exciting it.

"Oh, my... God!" Hermione lifted her hips up off of the floor again and wrapped her legs around his neck, pushing her to him, wanting as much contact with his mouth as she could get.

He then encased her nub into his mouth and sucked on it. She moaned, and in turn, it made him moan. The vibration of his voice sent her over the edge. With a shriek, she felt her built-up tension flush away. She sprawled out, feeling spent, breathing heavily.

Draco held her to his face, plunging his tongue into her flowing pool, exploring every inch that he could reach with it. His nose pressed against her sensitive, over-used clit. Hermione whimpered, not thinking she could go for another round of that.

"Draco!" she gasped out. "I don't think I can—"

He cut her off, by abruptly standing up and pulling her closer to the ledge of the tub. "Shall I fuck you now?" he asked, gripping his dick and stroking it in preparation.

She nodded vigorously. "Please!"

Draco positioned himself just inside her wanting hole and leaned over her. He pushed in slowly until he could no more, pausing there. Hermione felt him twitch inside of her and she sat up, kissing that one nipple of his that always sent him into a rage of arousal.

He closed his eyes, softly groaning, pulling out from her, just as slow as he had when he pushed into her, and repeated the movement. A satisfied smile spread across his face.

Supporting his weight on one arm, he took his hand to tilt her head up to his so they could kiss. A tender, passionate one, filled with a never ending love. It heated up not before long, matching his increased speed of thrusting; to the point that they had to detach their ravaging mouths in order to breathe.

Upon Hermione's pleas, he moved faster and harder, slamming against her, making her wail out his name and a number of obscenities along with it.

Then he stopped all together, filling her with his hot seed. Draco lay on top of her, catching his breath, his head to her chest. "Merlin," he said. "We have the most wicked sex out of everyone, you know?"

Hermione laughed warmly, threading her fingers through his silky hair. "I bet we do," she agreed with a tired, but happy sigh.

* / *

"You're going to wear that?" Draco asked Hermione, wrinkling his nose up at her pink, loose-fitting sweater and plain jeans.

"Yes," she said, pinching a bit of her sweater. "We're going to a party hosted by Harry and Ginny," she told him with a roll of her eyes. "Gryffindors," Hermione added. "We know how to actually have fun."

Draco snorted, suddenly feeling he was over dressed. If he cared at all, he'd rush to the nearest store to buy a set of more informal wear, but he was a Malfoy, and Malfoys didn't dress so... unfashionably...

"Slytherins know how to have fun," he said, slightly insulted. "More fun than Gryffindors."

Hermione laughed at him. "You've never even been to a party hosted by one, how would you even know?"

"Because Gryffindorks have nothing on us with their inferior ways!"

"Draco!" she scolded. "We are not dorks!"

"Okay, maybe you're right. Not all of you are dorks."

"Thank you," she said, pleased with his take back.

"Most of you are though," he added teasingly, and helped her into a jacket.

"Including me?"

"Of course not! You're one of the special ones!"

She smiled and picked up a passing, crawling Scorpius, who Draco had just previously dressed for the outing.

"Tell me why we can't floo over instead?" Draco asked, taking out his wand and looping his arm around Hermione's.

"Because Ginny likes to open the door and greet people," Hermione answered with slight amusement.

"Whatever floats the pregnant woman's boat," Draco muttered, making Hermione chuckle.

"You have no idea about pregnant women, Draco. No idea."

He tilted his head, considering her words. "You're right," he agreed with a somewhat guilty look.

Hermione set her head against his shoulder. "It's alright."

"I know." Draco quickly tossed aside the thought of not being around during Hermione's pregnancy. Now was no time to feel guilty. He was going to try and pretend to have fun with Hermione's dorky friends, because he owed it to her. She had done it for him. Now it was his turn.

"Deep breath," he said mostly for Scorpius's benefit and apparated to the Potters'.

"Ack!" Scorpius shrieked unhappily, but it was the first time traveling that he didn't shed a single tear.

"Oh, do you see, Draco?!" Hermione squealed out. "Scorpius is finally adjusting to traveling!"

"Yes, I saw," he said simply, tapping his son's covered head. "Let's get him inside so he don't catch a chill." He gestured Hermione to lead the way, feeling it was best, since this was her friends' home.

She lead the way, and they didn't even make to the steps before a very pregnant Ginny threw the door open in excitement, greeting them more cheerily than Draco would even expect an elf to do if you had given it a birthday celebration.

This was going to be one long night.

Chapter Text

Upon their arrival, Hermione instantly had been surrounded by her friends, Potter, Ginny, Ron Weasley and his wife, Susan.

Draco, just as quickly as people appeared near him, made a hasty getaway, not missing the scrutinizing look that Weasley had tossed his way. He returned a nasty look of his own, but was easily reminded of the promise he had silently made to Hermione when her laughter filled his ears.

With a hesitant glance her way, Draco decided it was best that he just slip out of the way of her and her friends, as they goggled at how big his son was getting since the last time their eyes had set on him (pointless comments made by the Potters, since they had just seen him last week).

Draco stood at one of the tables that Ginny had pointed out to them on their arrival. 'The snack tables', she had called them. He had ventured over to the one that had the healthier food choices, grateful that either Potter or his wife had considered fruits and vegetables a part of the snack group. Many people did not. It wasn't that Draco didn't like sweets, but he certainly didn't use them them as an everyday meal as some people did.

He watched the scene that involved Hermione, popping grape after grape into his mouth, finding this activity oddly familiar. How many times had he done this same thing in his school days; standing back in the shadows, hardly noticed by anyone as he grimly stewed over (in jealousy, as he realized now) how much love the Gryffindors showed and received?

Too many to count.

He wasn't really jealous now, that much he knew. Even if Weasley could make her laugh, or if Potter touched a hand to her shoulder— although, when this had happened, he had paused his chewing to gaze at his girlfriend's face, awaiting to see an expression that shouldn't be displayed on a girl bounded by a union bond.

She did nothing out of the ordinary...

Good. It was just a friendly gesture made by a close friend. Ginny wasn't even upset over it, and she, of all people, would have the most reason to feel jealousy, what with her swollen, bulging belly that stuck out well past her feet and all. Draco knew she was due to bear the child at any moment- Hermione had been constantly rambling about it. She seemed to think he was interested in knowing when the next spawn of Potter's was going to breathe its first gasp of air.

But he hadn't corrected her on it. Draco didn't want Hermione to think she couldn't talk to him, so he pretended to be interested in the topic.

The Potters were going to have a daughter, and already had a name picked out for the little precious darling. Draco bet his life that she'd have red hair. He just couldn't picture a girl with Potter's unruly dark hair. Ginny's hair was much more fitting for a girl.

Not that he had ever given Ginny's hair much of a thought... Hermione was the one that brought his train of thought into that station, stating that both her friends wanted a red-headed little girl, since their sons had inherited more of Potter's genes.

"Maltoy!" a young voice suddenly screeched beneath him, followed by a faint tugging of his pant leg.

The youngest Potter heir looked up at Draco with a wide smile and bright eyes of green that were all too like his father's; completely identical, actually.

Draco quirked up an eyebrow at the young boy, wondering what on Earth was wrong with the Potter boys. Surely, Potter must have told them about how awful of a person he had been in his past?

"What?" he asked, trying to sound even toned, succeeding at it. Albus was a small boy, after all, and he had nothing personal against the boy, but Draco also didn't want to appear overly friendly; the boy was already under the illusion that Draco liked him.

For some unknown reason...

Kids are incredibly weird. It's a good thing Scorpius isn't so strange.

He stole a glance at his son at that thought. Draco felt his chest constrict. Potter was holding his son, bouncing him at his hip. And Scorpius— that traitor— was full of smiles.

Draco's mind, deep within, told him it was nothing. Harry Potter was his son's godfather— hardly any different than a paternal uncle— like what Severus had been to him when he was alive. Draco had looked up to Severus countless of times. Usually, it had been for academic reasons, but he had been fairly close to the man until his 6th year, when everything had turned completely upside-down.

Still... Draco couldn't help that little, sick sting of pain that was slicing into his chest. He pressed his lips together after feeling them twitch as his thoughts turned insanely bitter. How dare his childhood enemy make his son laugh like that! What could he have possibly said to him? What could he have possibly done to Scorpius in order to make him laugh so joyously? Did Scorpius think Potter was a better father? Was Potter more fun? Charming?

Draco clenched his fists, his chest pain increasing. He was about to stalk over to Potter and yank his son away from him, but there was another tug at his pant leg.

"Mista Maltoy!"

He looked down at the small boy who was still demanding of his attention. He softened his furrowed brow. "It's Malfoy," he corrected after taking a huge breath to calm himself.

I mustn't make a scene.

He must keep his cool for Hermione. She'd get too embarrassed if he went over there and took his son away from that creep Potter. And then Hermione would be furious with him. Draco couldn't have that...

"And why are you bugging me?" he asked the boy gently, suppressing his annoyance, purposely keeping his eyes off his laughing son.

"Mummy's busy," his brother answered the question, having had come up on the other side of Draco. He was standing on his tip toes, reaching at a plate of apple slices which were neatly arranged in a circle. He swiped one off it and shoved the whole slice into his mouth. "Whir not poss'd oo bodder grow ups en dey are sea."

Draco didn't understand a word that the elder boy said as he spoke with his mouth crammed full of food. The smaller one tapped at his leg softly, yet persistently, making Draco turn from James to Albus.

Albus pointed to a plate on the table behind Draco. "I want tat preach, pwease! 'An you git it soar me?"

"Preach?" Draco questioned.

Oh.

He understood when he saw the reddish golden fruits that the boy was pointing at. "Peach," he said out loud and picked up one.

"No!" Albus cried. "Not tat un!"

Draco wrinkled his eyebrows, sighing in mild frustration, reminding himself that Albus was a small child and he needed to be patient with him. "Not this one?"

Albus wildly shook his head and pointed again.

Draco placed the peach back and set a single finger onto the one next to it. "This one?"

Albus sighed exasperatedly. "No!" He retracted his arm and re-pointed with emphasis. "Tat un!"

"Look here," Draco started firmly, finally having enough of this pathetic game. "There are other people that would probably like to eat one of these peaches without my fingerprints all over them, so eat this one or have none!" He held out the peach that Albus had last pointed out to him.

Albus looked at it for a second and stuck out his lower lip; it trembled slightly.

"Uhoh..." James murmured behind Draco. "He's gonna cry!"

Uhoh! Draco's mind echoed James's. Potter's kid is going to cry! And it'll be all my fault!

He couldn't make The-Boy-Who-Lived's heir upset! That was probably close to a crime! He might get arrested! Or at the very least, Potter and all his friends might demand retribution, using their fists and his face! Or worse, their wands and his face!

"Wait, wait!" Draco hastily said. "This is a magic peach!" he said the first thing that came to his mind.

The teary-eyed boy tilted his head doubtfully at him, but just the same, he asked in a whiny voice, "Really?"

"Sure!" Relief flooded over Draco, knowing he had directed Albus's attention. He tossed the peach from one hand to the next, giving himself some time to come up with some fabricated story that would take the child's mind off his previous scolding of him. "Has your father ever told you about the story of the boy who was invited into the flesh of a magical, flying giant peach?"

"A giant peach?!" James shrieked out. "I want to go on a giant peach too! Tell me the story, Mista Malfoy! Tell me!" He hopped around Draco in eagerness. "What's the story called?" The boy's brown eyes lit up with anticipation.

"James and the Giant Peach," a voice supplied near them.

Draco looked up to see Neville Longbottom on the other side of the table, giving Draco a curious look. He brought up a stalk of celery to his mouth and snapped off a piece, chewing it over in thought. The man had slimmed down quite a bit since his youth, and had turned out to be a very good looking man. Age did him well.

"A story about a boy with my name?" Young James was momentarily astonished.

"I've read it before," Longbottom explained to Draco who raised his eyebrows in surprise, as it was a Muggle children's story. He then turned to Albus and James. "James Trotter was a little orphaned boy. He had two mean, awful aunts, and one day, he was given the chance of his lifetime to escape them by taking a flight on a flying peach!"

Albus's eyes grew with interest. "Oh!" he squealed excitedly. "Tell me shory, pwease!"

Draco tossed the peach to Longbottom, allowing him to take over. Longbottom was a much better storyteller than he. He wasn't here to entertain a couple of toddlers anyway. He'd rather tell stories to his own son.

Tuning out Longbottom's storytelling, Draco grabbed himself a handful of thinly sliced apple slices and then took a seat on a bench nearby.

Hermione was now sitting on the sofa. Scorpius had been placed on the floor and was sitting at her feet, fiddling with the straps of her shoes as she spoke with Ginny and Luna Lovegood.

"Harry!" someone called out, making Draco's eyes shift to Potter, who was being ushered over to the entrance of the kitchen by George Weasley. "Got a minute?" George asked when Potter and Ron had approached him.

"Sure." Potter shrugged after a mere glance at his wife.

"Get to try that product?"

Ron rolled his eyes. "I really don't want to be around for this conversation—"

"Then don't be," his brother said, brushing him off.

"Doesn't the thought of Ginny—"

"I don't let my mind wander that far on the subject," George interrupted Ron quickly. Draco swore he saw the elder brother give a small shudder. "Anyway, Harry?" he prompted with an eager smile.

"Erm..." Draco saw the blush crept onto Potter's face. He scratched the back of his head. "George, my wife is about to have a baby, when do you suppose I've had the chance to use such a product?"

George nodded, seeing Potter's reasoning. "Guess, you're right, mate. I'm just excited to see what you think of it."

"I'm sure it's as great as you've raved about. Definitely sounds like something that would be a success."

"He has a lot of brilliant ideas, the Flamethrower does," Ron chimed in. "This new potion is going to bring in loads of wealth to all those involved."

At the mention of his alias, Draco leaned toward them ever so slightly in order to not miss a single word.

"How do even you know he's a he?" Potter asked. "I thought the identity of this 'Flamethrower' was anonymous?"

"He writes like a man," Ron said. "And is completely full of himself. How many women do you know who are full of themselves?"

"But the Flamethrower does have such pretty handwriting," George countered. Draco pursed his lips at this 'comment'. It wasn't his fault that his mother had insisted on perfecting his penmanship! And Severus had been just as bad, making him rewrite several papers over when Draco had rushed too fast with his work!

Much as people thought, Slytherins were never allowed to actually slack off. They were too proud to slack off and had a strict Head of House to boot.

"He could be a pureblood then," Ron muttered.

George laughed. "You haven't seen your handwriting lately then! But hey, we're Weasleys! What can we say? We've always been the exception!"

"Lately?" Harry teased. "Ron's handwriting has always been retched!"

"Aye, that's true!" George agreed.

"Oh, shut up, you two!" Ron snapped playfully, lightly socking Potter in the shoulder, making the dark haired man rub it with a wince.

"Seamus likes the product," George informed Potter, returning back to the previous topic.

"Neville still refuses to use it," Ron said, looking at the man who was still telling stories. Some other kids had joined the Potter boys, so Longbottom now had a small group of children surrounding him as he spoke animately to them.

"I'm sure it's really Luna who refuses," George speculated.

"I still don't understand her reasoning." Ron shook his head.

Potter shrugged. "It's Luna, why even try understanding her?"

"Oi, Harry!" Dennis Creevey greeted excitedly, holding a broom in his hand and a camera in another.

"Hey, Dennis."

"Brought my broom," Dennis announced without necessity.

"I told you that you didn't have to. I've plenty of the newest models for people to use."

"I know, but I'm used to mine."

"Alright, I can understand that then," Potter said nodding.

"So when do we play?"

Potter glanced around, seemingly doing a quick head count. "When everyone gets here, we'll see who wants to play then."

"Can't wait!" Dennis said. Potter directed him to a closet where his broom could be stored in the time being, and then Dennis went around the room to take pictures.

So there is going to be a game of Quidditch tonight. Draco pressed his lips together. This was news to him. His lips thinned as he stared at Hermione, wondering how it could have slipped her mind.

Draco stood up. If there was going to be a Quidditch game, he was going to play in it, but like Dennis, he'd want to use his own broom. He approached Hermione, setting a hand onto her shoulder, squeezing it gently.

She looked up and sent him a smile, but that quickly faded into a frown and she stood up. "Something wrong?" Her eyes darted around the room, looking for trouble.

"Only that you forgot to inform me that I'd need my broom tonight," he said evenly, noticing that both Luna and Ginny were watching him as he spoke.

"Oh!" Hermione gasped. "I'm so sorry! I forgot! Harry has a few brooms though—"

"No thank you," he cut her off gently. "I'd rather ride my own."

Hermione nodded. "Alright..."

"I'm going to go get it then," Draco told her awkwardly. People were watching them, much too intently for his likely. He leaned forward, murmuring, "What's wrong with your friends?"

Hermione uneasily glanced away from his eyes. "Oh, nothing really." Her bottom lip tucked between her teeth.

Obviously, she was lying.

Draco couldn't prevent a scowl from etching onto his face. "You think I'm soft or something?!" he hissed quietly.

Hermione stiffened. "Of course not!" she whispered.

"You think I can't handle the truth? Well, I can!" The next sentence he spoke up louder, raising his voice from the whisper. "I know exactly why everyone is watching me like I'm some kind of criminal." He allowed the entire crowd to see his disgusted look, and was happy to see many of their eyes shift away from his accusation.

Guilt.

Good, they should feel that by now!

"Draco, it's not like that..." Hermione went to start.

Draco face softened, hinting the hurt tone that hung in her voice. He turned his head back to her and kissed her cheek. "Don't lie, love," he said. "And don't make excuses for them. Or me."

He bent down to pick up Scorpius. He hadn't noticed until that moment that his son had been using one of his legs to boost himself up to his feet, clinging onto it for stability.

"Derbla!" Scorpius giggled out as Draco held him to his chest. He kissed Draco on his cheek. "Mmma!"

"I know it's hard to believe a big, bad ex-Death Eater can love," Draco went on, speaking out loud so everyone could hear him. He hugged Scorpius to him, needing a sudden bit of comfort to ease his pain. "I know because I've experienced it single-handedly." He handed off Scorpius to Hermione, who was giving him an odd, pitiful look. "I'll be back in a few minutes to face the music," he told her quietly. "I'm just going home to grab my broom." He gave her another kiss— a simple peck to her lips. This one was done for strict effect, knowing he had an audience.

Draco forced a mischievous grin and directed it at Hermione. Finally, he turned and walked to the door. Potter called after him, but he ignored him and exited the house. As soon as the door was shut behind him, he apparated to the Gordin Manor to fetch his broom.

Draco sucked in a few breaths when he landed, and clenched his fists. He didn't deserve to be treated like that. Not anymore. He'd paid his dues. And he'd changed. But, because of his bloody past, no one was going to believe it, and he was tired of them judging his every move. He was tired of kissing ass. It wasn't doing him any good. They still considered him Draco-Fucking-Malfoy, the Boy-Death Eater.

Draco stomach tightened up with an oncoming sickness. He swallowed down the bile that was creeping up into his throat.

Damn... Why can't they just see that I've changed?

Because you're not a precious, golden-boy Gryffindor. You're a bloody Snake. Slytherins are never good. Not according to them. And Slytherins don't deserve second chances.

Draco grit his teeth at the thought. Before he could tell his mind to stop tormenting him, he let out a loud roar full of immense frustration. He gripped the edge of the table that stood nearest to him and lifted it up, tossing it over onto its side. It made a loud crash as it hit the floor and rolled a few feet away from him.

Draco grunted in mild satisfaction and stalked out of the room.

*/*

"He's not bad anymore," Hermione insisted to the silent room. She shut back tears in her eyes, feeling horrid for the way people saw Draco. "Draco's changed!"

"You're bound to him, you're obviously going to see things differently," Dean Thomas pointed out.

"Which is why we should take her word for it," Luna reasoned. "She's able to sense things that the rest of us won't be able to."

"You know what," Harry spoke up furiously. "I've invited Malfoy here, he's Hermione's boyfriend now, and while Ginny and I may not like Malfoy all too much, Hermione does, and Hermione's our friend. We support her. Now, I've told you that he was going to be here, I gave you all plenty of notice, so if you can't suppress your emotions just for one night, then maybe you shouldn't even be here!"

Hermione gave Harry a tiny smile that he returned, even though his eyes expressed heavy annoyance.

"And Hermione's right," Ginny added. "He has changed. You can't deny it. I'm sure some of you noticed how he treated my boys tonight?" A few people nodded. "That's not the first time he's shown them patience. We all know if he was the same person he was ten years ago, he'd have bullied them just because he has Weasley blood in them."

"Seven years is a long time," Ron spoke up so quietly that Hermione had to strain to hear him. He scoffed lightly. "Even I've changed since school..." He looked at his son, Edgar, holding up a chewing toy in place for the drooling, wide-eyed baby in his arms.

Susan wrapped an arm around Ron. "We've all changed a little."

"But he's a Slytherin! He's Malfoy!" someone argued.

"If Ron and I can manage to remain human in Malfoy's presence, we all can. If Hermione sees good in him, there must be good in him. We, of all the people, were the ones who constantly had to deal with him during our school days."

"And me," Neville said sheepishly.

"And Neville," Harry added.

"And I say, anyone who is willing to stop a child from crying is good in my book," Neville said seriously.

"We're in a new era now," Harry continued. "We have the power to change history even further than we already have. And that starts with our children. We can no longer judge people based on their house sorting. That was a mistake many of our parents made before us. We know that a lot of us acted the way we did because of how we were told to view people. I, myself, even admit to being bigoted to certain people in my youth. The people who are free now have paid their debt to society. Their slates are clean, and we need to remember that— even if these people were once followers of Voldemort."

There was a quiet murmur when Harry's speech came to a pause as he waited for them to sink in. Some people still had their doubts.

"I agree with Harry," Luna said, standing up with a smile to address the crowd. "He's never steered us wrong."

"Just please," Hermione said to the crowd. "Give him a chance at least. We love each other, and he's a great father. He's trying really hard to make our lives as pleasant as they can be with our given circumstances. He's even going to help me start up an organization to give House Elves some civil rights. That's something, isn't it? Coming from him?"

That got people buzzing with surprise. Several gasps of shock were heard, and many people started speaking all at once.

"So, once again," Harry firmly spoke up above the voices. "The door is there if you still think he hasn't earned his chance to be treated as one of us— a free wizard, who just wants to ensure a safe and healthy life for he and his family."

No one moved toward the door Harry had gestured at. "Good," he said, heaving a breath of relief. "Let's get back to the party then!"

* / *

The wind whistled in his ears, tossing his hair far behind his face. He felt free for the time being. All the weight was lifted off him as he zipped and zagged through the sky. It had been months since he had gone out for a broom ride, and the crisp snap of the freezing temperature somehow set his mind at ease.

When he saw the roof of Potter's home, Draco took a sharp nosedive and timely hopped off his broom, tucking it under his arm.

I still have it! he thought, smiling to himself. After all these ruddy years.

Draco had almost talked himself out of returning to the party, but he had made a deal; a promise. He had to go back to the Potters for Hermione. If it had been for anyone else, he would have probably remained at home. But he wasn't able to break promises to Hermione. He just couldn't.

He really needed to put more thought when it came to such agreements with his girlfriend.

Draco raked his hand through his wind-conditioned hair and stepped up to the stoop of the Potters' home. With hesitance, he knocked on the door and forced a tiny smile for whoever would open the door for him.

"Ah, there you are," Potter greeted warmly. Draco could tell he wasn't the only one 'forcing' himself to be civil tonight. "Hermione was beginning to worry."

And, as if that was her cue, Hermione pushed passed Potter, practically jumping into Draco's arms and hugging him. "What took you so long?!" she demanded furiously and pulled apart from Draco to give him a scolding look. "You said you would be right back! And what happened to your hair?!" she gasped out and reached up to flatten it down.

Draco shoved her hands away. "I'm alright. I just needed some air. It's been awhile since I've been for a broom ride. Got a bit... carried away." He looked at his watch. "Besides, it's only been forty minutes!" He rolled his eyes at her. "You act like I've been gone for hours!"

"Well, when people say they are going to be right back, it usually implies they'll be gone for just a few minutes!" she huffed.

"Can you continue this inside?" Potter eased in gently. "All the lovely heat is seeping out into the winter evening."

"Right." Draco inclined his head and stepped inside.

Ron joined them a second later. "Well, I'll admit that I'm faintly surprised you came back," he said to Draco.

"You and me both," Draco muttered.

Potter held out his hand to Draco. "I want to call a truce— if only for tonight. I'd like to set an example for the kids."

Draco's eyes fell down to Potter's outstretched hand. It looked roughed up from years of whatever his job required. He saw a glimpse of a faded marking and, upon squinting his eyes, he made it out to be a scar. A scar made from a curse.

"Draco?" Hermione asked, prompting him to take Potter's hand.

Setting his jaw, Draco give a firm nod, agreeing with Potter's reasoning for this brief truce. "Doesn't mean we're friends though," he said to Potter after they shook hands with one lengthy motion.

Potter snorted. "As if that could ever happen!"

Ron cleared his throat near by, holding his own hand out. "I'll truce too," he said awkwardly. "Just for tonight," he added quickly.

With no words, Draco hesitantly took Ron's hand, and was immediately yanked forward. Ron was a great deal bigger than Draco and he momentarily struggled against the sudden assault until he heard Ron whispering into his ear. "You best treat her well, Malfoy. If you ever hurt her, I'll make sure your death will be a slow and agonizing one. Am I clear?"

Draco had never heard Ron sound so dark and threatening. He refrained from shuddering, knowing the Weasel was speaking the truth.

"As glass," Draco muttered coldly. "Now let me go before I curse all your fingers off!"

Ron tapped Draco's shoulder with false affection, and after a couple shakes of his hand, he released Draco's hand.

Clenching his jaw, Draco let out a chuckle, glancing at Hermione who was trying to figure out what just happened. "I guess we can act like the mature adults we are." Locking his eyes with Ron's, he took Hermione's arm and pulled her close to him. "Sorry I worried you," he told her sincerely and kissed her cheek.

The smirk that appeared on Draco's face was real as he watched Weasley's eyes narrow in fury.

Oh, well, Draco thought. The ginger haired Weasel already had his chance with Hermione, and he blew it. But Draco had his own regrets to live with without sparing Weasel-Bee any pity for throwing away the best witch to ever set foot on Earth.

Chapter Text

Things went rather smoothly after Draco's return. Hermione made to keep herself close to him so he wouldn't feel left out. He didn't partake in many conversations as he probably felt out of place with the people that were once considered his enemies, but he appeared happy enough with holding Hermione's hand just the same. She'd give him a faint smile whenever he squeezed it. Hermione wasn't sure if Draco did it because he was in comfort or needed the comfort— either way, she hadn't been able to tell.

There were a few times when she would try to ease Draco into a conversation here and there, but it deadpanned quickly. The whole 'trust Draco Malfoy' thing was something that would need a bit of work. It wasn't something that could be done hastily. Hermione knew this herself. It had taken her a week to even talk to him, and many more weeks after that to realize that he had changed for the better. He had changed enough to fall in love with, and that was a huge deal. Maybe her friends would eventually see what she did. She hoped they would.

Hermione hadn't been the only one to make an effort to include Draco in the party. Harry also made several attempts, but everything just ended up in an awkward silence, with a lot of uneasy scratching and throat clearing.

"Well, you could discuss your favourite Quidditch teams," she had finally suggested in a matter-of-fact. Secretly, she congratulated herself on her brilliance. Quidditch was always a conversation starter. It never failed.

Of course then it lead into a 'friendly' argument on whose favourite player was better, and even Neville (who was not one to get heated over a pointless thing) had joined in.

Thankfully, George took note when it was time for a subject change and intervened with the topic of a new product of his.

"Aye, Malfoy, I got something for you to try!" he cut in with over-excitement, waving his wand and summoning a couple case of potions. "If you end up liking it, you can spread the word to your mates. You'll want to drink these just before you settle down with your other half," he explained, sending a grin at Hermione, and she immediately began wondering what the potions was.

"Why are you giving me one?" Draco asked uncertainly when George held it out for him.

"You are a guest of this party," George replied with a wink. "Everyone here is getting one. You'll love it, you can trust me on this, Malfoy!"

"And just what is it?" Draco took the potion in obvious politeness but he remained skeptical.

Ron shifted in his place near Hermione. "Erm, George, I'm not sure if Malfoy would like—"

"I think Malfoy should be the judge of what he would like and wouldn't like, little brother," George said, brushing Ron off and smirking slightly.

"So, what does it do?" Hermione asked curiously. Draco had popped the cork off already and was sniffing it. He offered it to her when she leaned in to do the same. It smelled a bit like apple juice.

"Don't drink it now!" George reminded Draco hastily. "When you're home and relaxed. Only then."

"It's great," Seamus said with a wide grin. "You definitely need a second person though — if you know what I mean?" He elbowed Dean next to him who gave a sheepish grin.

"It's some adult thing, isn't it?" Anthony Goldstein asked (he was a Ravenclaw that had fought in the war and had become close friends with Neville since then).There was a moment of silence as a few of the guys shifted eyes with each other, unwilling to make a verbal affirmative. "Okay, you just have to tell me what it does!" Anthony insisted at the same time Hermione hissed, "There are children here!"

"It does seem a bit inappropriate..." Draco mildly agreed with her. He tapped the vial with a finger, watching a bubble form in the clear liquid and float to the top of it. "I must admit I am quite curious what is going to happen if I drink this though," he said with his eyes heavily focused on the potion. "I don't have to worry about a certain member of my body increasing in size, do I?" At this, he looked at George for an answer. "Because if so, I'm quite equipped, I can assure you that. I have no issues getting the job done. Scorpius being proof, of course."

Hermione felt her face heat up with embarrassment. How Draco was able to say such a thing with a straight face, Merlin only knew.

"It's nothing like that," Seamus assured. "Just give it a try when you're ready."

Draco gave a small shrug and pocketed the potion into his fancy vest.

"Has anyone told you how out of place you look?" Neville gently asked Draco when the crowd had dispersed into smaller groups. "Here, the rest of us are all casual, and you're... dressed up like some Muggle film star at the Red Carpet event."

Draco lightly scoffed. "Just how much Muggle television do you watch, Longbottom?"

"Loads... Luna and her father are quite fascinated with it. I had to ask for assistance from Daniel to help me purchase one for them. Good news for me is that they have programs on gardening, and I've discovered a few techniques that prove to be promising on some magical plants."

Draco nodded. "I've read about a few myself."

"Yeah, Hermione got me a book or two on plants. I've not had the chance to read through them yet, but I plan to soon."

Draco smirked. "Mine's almost half read," he boasted. "And I have a kid."

Neville, noting Draco's bragging, tilted his head and called out to Dean and walked off to start a new conversation with him. Hermione knew Draco had unknowingly chased him off.

"Must you always brag?" she asked Draco quietly.

"How else will they accept me into their little den?" he asked with a bit of sarcasm. "This whole thing's a joke. They don't like me and I'm not going to lie and say I like them— so what's the point in this?"

"I went to your mother's party, it's only fair you stick it out through Harry's," she pointed out.

Draco scrunched up his face and crossed his arms over his chest with a grunt. "You enjoyed my mother's party much more than I am enjoying this one."

"Only once after we started dancing," she reminded.

His eyebrows raised up teasingly. "We could dance here— if that's what you want."

Hermione rolled her eyes and laughed. "There's another reason though," she said, grabbing one of his arms and looping hers around it. "You can prove to these people how much you have changed."

His eyes shifted down to hers before they quickly darted away. He chuckled. "You've been spending too much time with me, Mione, don't you think for a minute that I didn't hint your cunning tone."

Hermione smiled and let her head rest against his shoulder. "I've learned that I can be very persuasive when need to be."

Draco kissed the top of her head. "Good," he whispered to her. "I like it when you let the Slytherin side of you out. In fact, I love it."

"Are you going to show my friends the lion side of you?" Hermione asked seriously.

He let out a snort. "Yes, my soul is as ferocious as a lion!" he muttered in sarcasm.

"Your heart is nearly all lion," she told him gently. "You just don't know it yet."

The look he gave her told her that he doubted what she had said, but by the way he tugged her snug to him let her know that he appreciated the words.

"When do you want to try George's potion?"

"You actually want to do it?" Draco asked warily. "I mean, we're talking about a Weasley product here. We don't know what it is capable of."

Hermione shrugged. "I figure if it was anything outrageous I'd have heard of it by now. Secrets are hard to be kept with George's inventions."

"From what I hear, he didn't invent it," Draco informed. "Some anonymous person he and his brother call, 'The Flamethrower' invented it."

"Oh, I have heard the name mentioned here and there."

"He came up with the idea of the ClickCap."

"Yes, an amazing product." Hermione nodded. How many times had she used her own? Nearly everyday since it have been given to her. "Took George a while to produce it though. I remember Ron grumbling about how uptight George was during the last few weeks of development. Ron even had doubts he'd be able to produce it."

Draco grunted. Hermione looked up at him, trying to read what he was thinking. "What?" she finally asked, unable to make out his emotion.

"Nothing," he shrugged nonchalantly. "Only that it took them three years. It makes me wonder why the Flamethrower guy didn't just go to a different manufacturer." He put his hands in his pockets and set his eyes to the ground at his feet.

"It's a complicated product," Hermione defended her friends' invention abilities.

Her boyfriend burst out laughing— almost mockingly. "Complicated!" he gasped out. "I would have figured with their 'experience' it would have taken about six months! Maybe a year."

"Draco!" Hermione scolded, eyeing those who had looked their way at his laughing.

"I apologize!" he said through his laughter. It was almost hysterical now. "But three years, Hermione! Three years!"

"Is he alright?" Ron called out across the room.

"Yes..." Hermione said, although she was uncertain of her answer.

"Oh, yes! I'm fine!" Draco said with a giggle. "Just terrific!" He took a deep breath and his amusement ceased completely.

"What was that all about?" Harry directed at Hermione.

She shook her head in confusion. "I... don't know."

"Don't look at me like that!" Draco demanded indignantly, tugging down at his vest. "A man can laugh, can he not? Or are Slytherins denied to do that too?" he challenged Harry.

Harry's eyes narrowed a little before he nodded. "I encourage everyone to laugh, which is why I'd love to ask you to share the joke with us. If it made you laugh so hard, maybe it'd make the rest of us too?"

Draco's lips pressed together. His eyes scanned the room, once again the center of attention. "It's... too dirty for the little ones." A smug smile spread across his face, knowing he had pulled a fast one.

Harry accepted that, but Hermione was sure that he didn't believe Draco.

"What was the laughing about?" she asked Draco quietly.

Draco's smile faded and his lips scrunched up into an ugly sneer. "Nothing," he muttered.

Hermione reached up and covered his mouth with her hand.

"What—" he muffled a protest and swiped her hand away. "Don't do that!"

"If they see that look on your face they will never believe you've changed," she huffed.

He nodded in understanding and relaxed his face. "I don't even know why I'm bothering with this rubbish of a party."

"For me," Hermione said. "And your son." She pointed across the way to see Scorpius crawling around after Teddy who was playing with him and Ron's son with a red and yellow ball.

"Eight years old or not, how he can have purple hair is beyond me!" Draco said, speaking about little Teddy's very short, grape purple-tinted hair.

"His mother's favourite was pink," Hermione told him, remembering Tonks's pink hair.

"It's so... artificial!"

"I think it's magical," Hermione argued. "And unique."

Draco rolled his eyes. "And the Ravenclaw comes out. It's where all the strange ones go, Hermione; Ravenclaw." His comment made her giggle, finding a bit of validity in it.

A baby's wail cut through the crowd and everyone stopped what they were doing to see what had happened. Hermione and Draco knew instantly that it belonged to Scorpius and had started pushing through the people, following the sound of their son's cries of agony.

Draco got to him first, lifting the baby into his arms. Scorpius was clutching his head with a hand. "What happened?!" he demanded to no one in particular.

Scorpius answered with an ear piercing scream, "Mina! Mina!" He dove into his mother's chest to seek comfort. Scorpius was now halfway in each of his parents' arms, and people were gathering around him in curious worry.

"I got him," Hermione told Draco, and he let her take over.

"Well?!" he demanded again, his breathing picked up. "What happened to my son?!" His eyes fell onto Teddy as he was the last one to be with Scorpius.

"Erm..." Teddy squirmed and looked away. His purple hair faded into a light blue colour.

"Draco, please don't jump to conclusions," Hermione warned him.

"Do you know what happened, Teddy?" Harry asked gently.

"It was an accident," the boy mumbled.

"What was?" Draco pressed above Scorpius' wails.

"I didn't mean it!" a tiny voice spoke up. "It wasn't Teddy, Daddy!" James inched his way into the scene, his shoulders were sunken down.

"What did you do?" Harry's jaw was set firmly, looking down at his son.

"You were doing something you're not supposed to, weren't you?!" Ginny scolded. "I know that look very well, Harry," she hissed.

Harry nodded in agreement. "Me too."

"I only meant to kick the ball!" James shrieked. "I... missed..." He hung his head down. "I didn't mean to hurt Scorpy!"

"You kicked my son in the head?!"

"Draco, don't." Hermione held out an arm to keep Draco from lunging at the young boy. "You heard him, he didn't mean it."

"I'll handle it," Ginny said, giving her son a narrowed look. "You are in serious trouble, mister!"

"Gin—"

"He needs to be careful around the babies!" Ginny interrupted Harry. "We'll be having another baby very soon, one much younger than Scorpius! He could snap her neck!"

Harry winced at the thought she put into his head. Hermione noticed Draco's face pale a little, as he, too, gave that a thought over.

"We are going to have a little talk!" Ginny snatched James's hand and led him out of the room down a hallway.

"I'm sorry," Harry said to both Draco and Hermione. "Let's make sure there's no lasting injuries," he said grimly, eyeing his godson.

Scorpius had settled down in Hermione's arms and was noticing the sudden attention he was getting. "Daghah!" he said and laughed.

"All is forgotten in his little world," Draco summarized with a chuckle.

"Is he okay, Uncle Harry?" Teddy asked after several diagnostic spells were cast on Scorpius.

"He's fine," Hermione assured the boy, kissing the gurgling Scorpius on his cheek.

"Good." Teddy sighed in relief. He then ran off to play with Albus.

"James knows he's not allowed to kick the ball around the house— for that very reason," Harry said. "Unfortunately, that wasn't his first time accidentally kicking someone."

Draco scrunched up his upper lip. "Kids do... unexpected things," he muttered reluctantly.

"I'm just making sure you're not going to hold this over my son's head for the rest of his life," Harry told him rather bluntly and waited for a response to that.

Draco looked at his happy son. His scratched the back of his head a bit before replying. "Scorpius seems to have put it in the past, I may as well too."

Hermione smiled, proud that Draco was able to do such a thing. "See?" she said to her friends. "I told you he's not a prat anymore!"

Everyone laughed. Even Draco got a tickle of amusement from her comment.

*/*

Everything appeared to be fine to Draco. People weren't looking at him like he was going to curse them if they turned their back on him. This was quite relieving to Draco, and actually a bit hopeful to him. With little time, maybe he would be able to convince these war heroes that he wasn't some criminal anymore.

Right now, those who wanted to play Quidditch were lined up outside in Potter's Quidditch Pitch, mounted on their brooms. Potter was going to captain one team, and Ron Weasley the other. They only had to pick their teammates before the game started.

Well, all were lined up except for Draco. He wondered how this was going to work. There were so many people that wanted to play that there was enough for practically four different teams. Some people wouldn't get to play once the captains would pick the players they wanted on their team. Then what? Everyone else would have to sit out? Watching the game in envy because they weren't picked to play?

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked, coming up to him after noticing he was still on the ground. "Why aren't you up there with the rest of them?"

Draco looked up toward the near thirty men, women, and children who hovered high up in the sky, waiting patiently as Potter and Weasley privately discussed who was going to be on their team.

"Do you really think they are going to pick me to play— when they can just pick one of their best mates instead?" he asked. He was trying to hide how he really felt, which was a feeling of being left out (it had been ages since he played Quidditch. Since school, really, and he had been looking forward to this). By the frown on his girlfriend's face though, Draco could tell that he hadn't applied much effort in hiding his emotions from her.

Merlin, am I just getting that soft?!

"You're a good player," she told him. "Of course they'll pick you!"

Draco sighed. "There are 29 people up there, Hermione... None of which are my friends or family... A Quidditch game only needs 14. I can do math. 15 people won't get to play..."

Hermione giggled making him scowl. "How is that funny?!" he snapped.

She grabbed onto the arm of his robes and started pulling him toward the Pitch. "I did warn you about Gryffindors, Draco Malfoy."

Draco let her lead him, wondering what she meant by that. "They won't let me play," he insisted quietly to her, looking straight above him, squinting his eyes from the bright lights that lit up the Pitch, since it was now nighttime.

"Get on your broom, Draco." She rolled her eyes when he refused to. "Just get up there and see what happens, will you?! Stop automatically assuming the worst!" With that, she playfully smacked him a good one on his rump.

His jaw dropped, scandalize. "What was that for?!"

She laughed. "I learned it from your mother! And if you don't get up there, you'll get another!" She stomped her foot as a warning.

"I'm going! Merlin!" He quickly mounted his broom, praying that the guys above him hadn't seen what she had just done. Thankfully, no one was laughing or snickering his way. They were too busy with their friends.

Hermione gave him one last taunting look before he kicked off in fear that she may just do exactly what she had threatened. He didn't want her doing that in private, much less in public.

"Have fun, Draco!" she called up to him in a series of giggles.

Yeah, right...

"Thought ya chickened out," Finnigan said when Draco stopped next to him.

Draco chose to say nothing and waited with the rest of them.

"Are ya done yet? The New Year will ring in soon if you don't hurry it up!" Finnigan called out. An echo of agreement followed.

"Alright, alright!" Weasley waved them off without even a glance their way. He and Potter were still turned away from the line up.

"Come on!" George shouted, eagerly spinning his broom in circles. "Getting dizzy here!"

"We're done!" Harry announced as he and Ron approached them. "Everyone here knows the rules. Be gentle around the younger players—" he nodded to a few teenagers and Teddy. "To be fair, we've given them the Beater positions—"

"So we don't even get to pick what we get to be?" Draco interrupted. "What's the fun in that?"

"You'll want to take my word on this, Malfoy, it's safer this way."

Draco kept his opinion to himself. It was Potter's game after all. And as long as he was Seeker, he didn't care who was what.

Everyone was called to a team then. Draco was surprised when he was told that he'd be on Potter's team. He was still confused though, since there was still the matter that there were too many players for the game.

"I suppose I'm just here in case you get knocked from your broom by the tiny beaters?" he asked Potter when he was informed that he would be the Seeker.

"Coming to conclusions again, Malfoy?" Potter asked him cockily. "Come here, and I'll explain it to you, alright?"

So Draco joined his team of Quidditch players. Many of them he didn't even know. Perhaps they were people who Potter and his friends had met after the war. Some were even older than he was; middle aged men and women. Besides Potter, Teddy and Percy Weasley were the only ones Draco physically knew of. He didn't even know Percy Weasley could play Quidditch, but Percy had been a know-it-all in school, and his siblings had all been players at one time or another, so he probably had played some in his youth.

Potter explained how things went with this Quidditch match, mainly for Draco's sake, because he'd never played at a Potter-Weasley Quidditch game. It was actually easy, and Draco was surprised he hadn't thought of it in the beginning.

Team positions were just doubled-up. Simple.

Yes, simple it was, but also extremely chaotic, and he learned why Hermione had teased him earlier, and why she had said that Gryffindors knew how to party. They really had no self-control or organization. As Draco observed his fellow players, he learned that they played more for fun than anything else. The Pitch was so busy with activity and movement, Draco doubted that anyone really knew what was going on (there wasn't even a real referee). He watched kids mindlessly chase each other around with bludgers. A wrestling match happened between six Chasers over the Quaffle, looking more like an American football match than Quidditch. The Keepers at each end were bellowing out to the Chasers to get a grip.

Ron Weasley's wife flew past Draco, catching his attention and pulling it from the wild game. She was an opposing Seeker, and her quick pace told him that she had spotted the Snitch. Potter was breaking up a fight between two fighting teenagers, which left the 'seeking' up to Draco.

Draco whipped his broom around to chase after the woman, his eyes flew this way and that, looking for that golden little flutter of wings. Blindly, he followed her around the Pitch until he was neck to neck with her.

Where is it? he asked himself, intent on finding it. He dodged the Quaffle that flew just inches from his ear. He was now half a broomstick ahead of the other Seeker, but still hadn't seen a single glimpse of the Snitch.

"Game's over! Anthony's caught the Snitch!" George hollered out in triumph.

"We won!" Ron cheered.

How?

Draco was puzzled. Anthony was on the other side of the Pitch. Surely the Snitch didn't make it over there that fast? Besides, Susan hadn't even been looking that way.

"Congratulations!" Harry said. "Thomas and Brad decided to have a punching match." He tossed his head down to the previously fighting teenagers who were sitting on separate benches in an obvious time-out.

"Yes, good game..." Draco said, still absorbed in how his team had lost.

"Have fun?" Hermione asked when he had lowered back down to solid ground.

"It was okay," he admitted.

"You're not upset that Susan tricked you, are you?" She bit her lip in worry, hiding a grin.

"What?" Draco stole a glance at Susan who was grinning ear-to-ear, hugging her husband. "She faked me out?"

She finally exposed the grin she had been biting back. "With Harry busy, that only left you. She and Anthony are quite a pair of Seekers."

"I can't believe I was tricked by a Hufflepuff!" Draco gasped out in shock.

"There's a reason they and the Ravenclaws had a serious competition between the two houses. The Claws knew better than to underestimate the Hufflepuffs, and the Puffs knew that they knew that!"

"But they still always lost," Draco added with a shrug.

"And you never noticed why that was?"

"Never actually cared..."

"That's really sad, Draco," Hermione told him with a frown.

"Why? What really matters why a team loses? A loss is a loss. No excuses."

"Hufflepuffs lost a lot of games due to them caring more about players than the game. Didn't you ever notice that in the games? When you, or Flint, or Harry was hurt during your game against them? When anyone was hurt?"

Draco tried thinking back to his games of Quidditch at Hogwarts. All he could remember was his snide moments with Potter though.

Merlin, he had been obsessed with Potter!

"My mind was on other things," he confessed evenly.

"It makes it easy to score when your opponent is more worried about the players' health than the game. I'm honestly surprised you Slytherins didn't pick this up. It would have been an easy way to gain points."

"As I said, we didn't consider Hufflepuffs a threat to the game. So we didn't need to pay them any attention. We won against them without even trying."

"Well, if they hadn't been so caring and kind, you would have thought a lot differently about their playing strategy," she told him. "By far."

"Probably," he admitted carelessly. It wasn't his fault Hufflepuffs didn't take the game as serious as every other house did.

*/*

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

The noise of the fireworks was too much for Draco. The flashes weren't all too great either. Potter had warned the party guests that if they had an issues with loud sudden noises and flashing lights that the house had charms on it to block the outside noise. So five minutes into the celebration, Draco told Hermione that he was going inside. The loud, cracking sounds were making his head pound in agony.

The good news was that Scorpius seemed to enjoy all the different coloured lights, and had a lot of fun with the child safe firework toys that the Weasleys had designed. All Scorpius had to do was pull a string and give the pouch of paper a toss. When it was safely away (George had assured all the parents of the kids who were still awake to experience the event that it wouldn't activate until it was ten feet away from any human and animal), the paper unfolded and released two quick snaps before shooting off multi-coloured balls of fire straight up into the sky where it went on and on until the naked eye could see it no more.

"You alright?"

Draco nodded. "Just fine," he answered Hermione.

"Do you want to go home?"

"No, you finish up. Enjoy yourselves."

He sighed in instant comfort as soon as he closed the door. Potter was right about the house blocking out the noise of the firework display outside.

"Are the fireworks bringing back too many memories?" a soothing voice asked.

Luna Lovegood stared at him in her odd, usual way. She looked at everyone this way, so Draco wasn't going to think much of it.

"No," he simply said and grabbed himself a bottle of Butterbeer from the drink table. "What about you?" he asked conversationally.

Her eyes shifted to the door where they stayed while she spoke, "A person can only handle so much."

She didn't elaborate and Draco wasn't going to push it, but even with her blank, hollow look, he could sense something different with her. Not that Lovegood wasn't already different from other people to begin with, but with the cheering and the laughter he saw tonight at the mostly-Gryffindor party, he had thought anyone who were friends with Potter would be the happiest people of them all.

"Why have you come in?"

"If you really must know, I've a headache."

"Would you like to join the rest of us?" she offered. Her smile was small. Draco wondered if it was forced.

"Do you want me to or are you just trying to be polite and forgiving?" He was rather blunt about it, but he was sick of the pussy-footing and he knew that she wouldn't take offense of it.

Her eyes widened a little and she took a few moments before she answered. "Both." She gestured for him to follow her. "Let's join the others."

"Others?"

"We're not the only ones sitting out," her dreamy voice said.

He reluctantly followed her up a staircase of steps and stopped at the first door on the left. They stepped inside a sitting room with soft music playing. There were eight adults there, two guys (one was Longbottom), the rest were women, and there were also four children. Susan was there with the baby Edgar. Draco remembered that Weasley's son didn't like the fireworks one bit and Susan had hurried the boy inside to soothe his cries.

Some of the parents were here just because of that: their kids weren't ready for the abrupt, scary noises, but Draco learned that Longbottom had a problem with flashing lights, and that was why he was here. It was only after Longbottom explained his reasoning that Lovegood said that the fireworks brought back the sad memories of all those who were lost in the war, and sometimes, she wasn't strong enough to handle the weight of it all.

A couple of the people, who Draco didn't know, had the same reason as he did. They just couldn't stand the noise or the flashing, bright lights. They didn't say if it was linked to the war or not. Draco didn't think his was. He was just tired and wanted to go home soon. It had been a long day.

Draco sat at the end of an ancient looking sofa (likely a Black family heirloom), and silently listened to the small crowd take turns telling each other what was going on in their lives. Lovegood and Longbottom were getting married soon. Susan vowed that Edgar was going to be her only child, as he was a bucket load of energy and mischief. And a guy named Albert Paneedle was looking to get promoted in the Ministry.

"What about you, Malfoy?" a woman asked. Draco didn't even know who she was. He readjusted into his seat as the entire room's eyes looked to him.

"Yes, what do you and Hermione have set for the future?"

"Are you going to get married?" Longbottom asked a bit too eagerly.

"I'm not interested in discussing my life goals. I don't even know most of you."

"You two are very private people," Albert said. "I'd say you have a chance for happiness."

"They are bonded, Berty, of course they have a chance."

"Yeah, the magic wouldn't have sealed them together if they weren't compatible."

Thankfully, Potter entered the room before Draco lost his cool and told these people to stop gossiping about he and his girlfriend— all the while in front of him! "Malfoy," he called from the doorway. "I want to talk to you."

Draco sent the room a cold look, letting them know how he felt about their choice in topic before he stood up and met up with Potter.

He waited anxiously to hear what Potter had to say to him. Maybe he was going to praise him for keeping his cool with his pathetic friends.

Draco stopped himself from rolling his eyes at his private thoughts. As if Potter would ever congratulate me on anything.

Potter lead him up yet another staircase of steps and down a hallway to a door on the very end. "It's time you learned," Potter said, twisting the knob, and swinging the door inward.

The room was furnished old-fashionably, looking almost like a normal room in Malfoy Manor. It was large (in comparison to the rest of the house anyway), with countless of still portraits. Most were of the Black family ancestors, but some were of recent times, like Professor Lupin and his wife, Sirius Black, and many others who had died.

Several moved too, and some grumpily voiced their opinion of being awakened at an 'ungodly' hour. Draco saw Professor Dumbledore's portrait and quickly looked away when he met his twinkling, knowing eyes.

"Why am I here?" he asked Potter after an uneasy clearing of his throat.

"Fulfilling a request," Potter said with a careless shrug.

"Of whose? Dumbledore's?" Draco swallowed hard. He didn't want to speak to the dead headmaster that he had been ordered to murder.

"No," a dry voice spoke up. "Mine."

Draco's mind stalled. His eyes flew up to the spot next to Dumbledore's portrait to see an exact copy of his own portrait of his godfather's. Black, glittering eyes looked back down at him, shining in amusement at Draco's gaping mouth.

"And now you know." Professor Snape tipped his head forward to his godson. Without waiting for Draco's reaction, he wrapped his cloak around him and disappeared from the portrait, leaving behind a hazy cloud of magical smoke.

Chapter Text

"Why wasn't I told about this before?!"

"Malfoy—"

"Take it outside, we're trying to sleep here!"

"Yes! You inconsiderate, little bastards—"

"We're going!" Potter practically shouted to the group of griping portraits, gritting his teeth. He stalked to the exit and stopped there, looking expectedly at Draco.

Draco looked at Severus's empty portrait one last time before joining Potter into the hall where he shut the door muttering, "I hate going in there in the night time. Snape knows it too."

Even after he was long gone, his godfather was still making Potter's life hell. Draco couldn't help letting a smirk spread across his lips.

"Why do you have a portrait of my godfather, Potter? You can't possibly want it?!" Draco asked, his fury returning. "And why am I just now finding out about this?! How long have you had it?"

"You act like Snape was your house elf, and that you owned him," Potter said bitterly and went across the hall to a door. "We'll talk in here," he said. "So we don't disturb the portraits anymore than we have already."

It was a small office with a desk and two chairs. They sat, and Potter began to explain. "I don't know why Snape was even wanting to suddenly bother us with this. Maybe it's his sick way in getting us to talk— I don't know, nor care, but he asked me to bring you by tonight and show you his portrait. I didn't know he was just going to take off like that though."

"But why do you even have it? I thought only two existed: mine and the one at Hogwarts."

"The one at Hogwarts is just a still. He wanted it that way, after I insisted that he deserved a spot there."

"I know, I remember the fight to get his spot. I signed the petition for it."

Potter nodded. "I was surprised on how many who did."

Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm not. People will follow you over a cliff if you said it was the right thing to do."

Potter narrowed his eyes, slightly insulted. "Anyway," he proceeded. "After the war was over, I was presented with Snape's will—"

"He had a will?"

"Yes, he left me his vault, in it were several things. One was a copy of his portrait— obviously a plan orchestrated to guide me through the task of defeating Vold—"

"Don't," Draco groaned. Hearing the name still made his entire body shudder.

Potter inhaled a deep breath. "Among a portrait of himself, there was also one of my mum." His green eyes lit up. "It's not as advanced as Dumbledore's or Snape's though. Snape guesses that she worked on it a little while she was in hiding, but he wanted his portrait to be next to hers. She sits between him and my dad's."

Draco hadn't had the time to notice Potter's mother's portrait before noticing Snape's. "Why?" he asked, confused by his godfather's request.

Potter faintly smiled. "You'd never believe it, but they were best friends in their earlier years of Hogwarts."

Draco's eyebrows lifted up to his hairline. "You don't say? She was a Gryffindor and he—"

"It was rare— friends between our houses— but not impossible."

Severus's betrayal to the Dark Lord was beginning to make much more sense now...

"You're not saying that Severus wants us to be friends?!" Draco cringed at the thought. "A plan to unite our houses?"

Potter snorted. "I'm sure he thinks you and I are a lost cause— if he's even given it a thought. It's hard talking with him though. Ginny is better at getting him to talk than I am. She thinks he's just feeling guilty that I received an inheritance from him and you didn't, but I'm not quite sure that's it either."

Draco shrugged carelessly. "I don't know why I should care at all. I've got my own fortune. And I have the things he gave me while he was alive. And a portrait of my own— wait a second!" Draco pointed a finger at Potter in realization. "That's how you knew I was splinched! The portraits!"

"Took you long enough." Potter chuckled. "I kept telling Snape you'd figure it out."

"He must had told you how to get through the wards of the Manor..."

"I'd have not entered your home if it wasn't life or death," Potter assured him. "We all know how serious splinch wounds are. And if you had seen the look on Snape's face..." he trailed off, looking away. "If I hadn't known any better, I had thought that you were his own son, Malfoy. He looked terrified at the thought of you laying there, bleeding near to death."

"Our family considered him as our own," Draco explained. "He was welcome in our home anytime, even to live there. He refused to do that, of course. He never wanted to impose on us. He never even stayed overnight for the Holidays."

Potter said nothing, appearing to be thinking in deep thoughts; grim ones. "Anyway," he finally said hoarsely, standing up. "I did what I was supposed to do. He did warn me that he wasn't going to be used for spying between the two of us though," he said with a smile to lighten the mood. "He said he's through with all that."

"I don't blame him a bit!"

* / *

"You knew about it?"

Hermione yawned. "I asked Harry about it after you told me that he had somehow gotten through the wards," she said sleepily. "I had remembered his portrait of Professor Snape soon after and inquired about it. Harry is one of my best friends, we tell each other almost everything. Harry said that James heard Professor Snape calling for help, who then informed Harry that one of the portraits needed help. He told me not to tell anyone about having the portrait though, as that was Professor Snape's wish."

Draco pursed his lips. "You could have told me, Mione, I'm your lover."

Hermione smiled and closed her eyes. "Professor Snape's portrait would have told you himself if he wanted you to know."

"But he didn't," Draco pointed out. "He had Potter tell me."

"You knew the man more than I did, Draco," she said through a yawn and turned from him, settling on her side comfortably.

"So?"

"So, was he ever one to talk about his feelings?"

Draco pulled his blanket up to his chin. "No," he answered quietly. "Not even with my parents..."

"Then it is likely his portrait wouldn't either," Hermione murmured with sleep in her voice.

The next morning, Draco got up early, despite the late night he had had before. Scorpius and Hermione were still sleeping, so he left her a note and flooed to the Manor to see if Severus was in his portrait or not.

He quietly slipped into his potions lab, careful not to make any noise just in case Severus was there (he didn't want him to disappear before having the chance to confront him). Draco slowly let out the breath he had been holding upon the sight of his godfather's figure standing erect in the portrait.

"You're up early," the portrait said. "I'd have thought you would have spent the day in bed."

"I wanted to catch you before you went to sleep."

Severus nodded. "In truth, I've been expecting you."

"You gave Potter access through our wards," Draco said with no accusation to his tone. "If my father knew—"

"I'd never hear the end of it," Severus finished. "He might have even burned this portrait, even though it saved your tiny, airheaded arse."

Draco laughed softly. "He's always taken the wards seriously. Why did you want me to know now though?"

Severus broke eye contact with Draco. "I felt it was time. Everyone knows Potter doesn't use brute force. You would have pieced it together eventually, and I'd rather you find out this way."

"But you ran off last night."

"Yes, I did..." Severus admitted. "I had enough conflict in my living life, Draco, I really don't wish to put up with it any longer. You and Potter are mature and adult enough to handle your problems without me being in the middle of it anymore."

"But it was really the other portraits that chased you away, wasn't it?" Draco asked jokingly, remembering how much of a fuss they had made when the room had been disturbed.

"What would ever give you that idea?" his godfather replied sarcastically.

"That's why you come here early in the mornings— when all the other portraits wake."

"A portrait must have his peace too," he said dryly.

"I don't think I'm going to work on a portrait," Draco decided. "A still one is fine enough to be remembered by."

"Excellent choice, son," Severus approved with a tiny smile.

"Thanks for helping save my life, Uncle Severus. Again..."

Severus bowed his head. "It is what godfathers do for their godchildren, Draco."

"I shouldn't really complain of who's my son's godfather is then, huh?"

"Potter will set another record soon," Severus joked in his monotone voice. "By being the person with the most godchildren."

"At least from separate parents," Draco added. When Severus said nothing, Draco said, "Who better than the world's hero? I must admit, my son's a lucky bugger."

"There are many brave men in the world, Draco. Potter's just the one most recognized. Do not forget that he would not have made it as far as he did without the help of many." He paused to give Draco a serious stare. "Including yourself."

"I had doubt," Draco brushed the statement off. "And a tiny bit of hope. That's all. I wasn't a hero, nor will I ever be."

"The choice you made that day was a courageous and selfless one. It doesn't matter what the reason."

"Selfless?! My father was desperate to get back in on the Dark Lord's good side back then, because he thought the Dark Lord was the winning side, but with all the resources the Dark Lord spent on Potter, I just had this sudden thought that there was more to the story than what was being told. And if Potter survived so far, I figured he could have a great chance against the Dark Lord. Father wasn't able to see that during his distress, but I could. Perhaps it was because of the time I spent with Potter— he practically succeeded at everything he set his mind to. Maybe, deep down, I knew Potter was going to stop the reign of terror. So, selfless? No, because I wanted him to win, and take that leather-faced monster down for good." Draco clenched his jaw to the memories of the dark times of those two horrible years that would haunt him for the rest of his life. "I 'saved' him for selfish reasons," he emphasized. "I knew what was going to come if Potter lost..."

"It is pointless to worry about what it would have been if the Dark Lord had won," Severus said after several moments of silence. "Focus on what is happening now, Draco. Do not torment yourself. Nonetheless, even if you can't see the strengths you possess, the people around you do. I did when I was still among the breathing. Your parents do, specifically your mother. Miss Granger does, and Potter too." Severus lightly scoffed. "I hear even the Potter spawns sense something good about you."

"What is it with them?" Draco asked. "You'd think they'd hate the man who used to cruelly tease their father."

"Potter's aged faster than anyone I've known," Severus explained. "I've not heard him say anything negative about a single person, that is, since I've been placed into his home. He's become one of those 'forgive and forget' kind of men."

So, Potter was going to allow his children to make their own opinions about people, and since the Potter boys were lively little kids, who absolutely loved people, they had instantly approved of Draco as they had no reason to suspect him of anything.

Were children the beginning of everything in this era? Scorpius with the bond, and the Potter boys with seeing a good side to Draco? Could the prejudice against Slytherins be ceasing? When Scorpius goes to Hogwarts will they see a fun, spirited Slytherin? Not someone who quests for world domination and hates those who are considered lesser valued to society?

Draco thought it was possible. With Hermione's blood flowing through him, and Draco's change of heart, there was no bloody way that Scorpius would become some evil, obsessed-with-torture wizard. Scorpius was going to be a respectable Slytherin, and he was going to make it where every kid would want to be sorted into Slytherin. People were going to idolize Slytherin and they were going to idolize Scorpius.

The world didn't know it yet, but Scorpius was going to make history. Draco could sense it in his blood, his bones, and his soul. His son was going to do good, better than Draco ever did and better than Draco ever would. Maybe Scorpius was going to be the greatest wizard of his era. Perhaps of all time!

"Is that a smile I see?"

"Course not!" Draco fibbed as it grew bigger.

* / *

While Draco spent the day over at the Manor, Hermione decided to go shopping to restock up on somethings. She carried Scorpius at her hip. He was happy to come along with her.

"Scorpius, let go of Mumma's hair!" Mumma scolded and gently loosened his fingers from a bunch of her hair that he had clutched.

Scorpius didn't understand why no one wanted him to touch their hair. He liked the feeling of it; how it was different from his own hair, which was incredibly soft, in a different way than Grandfather's (whose was also very soft). He sought comfort in touching their hairs though, studying the feeling of how everyone's was different from each others.

He stuck the fist into his mouth, not caring that a strand had tangled itself around a couple of his fingers. He liked going to Diagon Alley. There were always lots of interesting people there. He could never focus on just one for long though, because someone more interesting would come by.

Like the man with hair so long that it went down past his waist and his shoes. It trailed behind him for many feet. But it wasn't just the length that caught his attention, Scorpius realized. It was the colour. It was the most vibrant blue Scorpius had ever seen. The man wasn't a Teddy though, and Scorpius knew the colour wasn't fake either. He frowned, watching the man scratch at the scalp of his head as he passed them.

"Fumpah, Mina!" Scorpius said to Mumma and pointed the man out.

"Yes, just look at his hair! What a pretty blue!" Mumma said, semi-distracted with her list of things to buy.

"Fumpah!" Scorpius repeated urgently. He struggled with the word, frustrated that she didn't understand him. He wailed out, missing his father, who could understand him better.

"Oh, Scorpy," Mumma cooed. "It's okay, sweetie! The goblin may look scary, but he's relatively harmless!"

He screeched out, tears filling his eyes, and then he kicked his feet against her. The man with the itchy head was disappearing into a crowd now.

"Stop it, Scorpius! Mumma's not putting you down!"

He whined pathetically and tried telling Mumma what the problem was again. "Fumpah! Dadinkah, fumpah, Mina!"

It was no use... Mumma didn't understand his words. His face scrunched up as wished he could talk the same words that the adults did.

He wouldn't be able to for a while though.

He sadly looked at the crowd that had swallowed up the man who Scorpius wanted to speak to. One day, he'd be able to walk and talk. He couldn't wait for that. Being a helpless baby was becoming quite hindering to him.

He bit down on his hand and cried.

* / *

For a while, Hermione struggled with calming Scorpius down. She didn't understand his problem today. He was usually a bucket load of smiles when she took him shopping with her. She was about to take him back home and finish up later when she heard an angry voice approaching her.

"Well, if you would actually do your job—"

"My job?!"

Blaise Zabini and Marietta were making their way toward Hermione, bickering the whole time.

"Yes, your job! I work, therefore, you are supposed to watch the girls—"

"How dare you!"

"Oh, just shut your hole already! No one wants to hear how unfair your life is!"

"I suppose you're just happy she's gone missing, aren't you?!" Marietta sneered.

Zabini whipped around to face her. "How can you say such a thing?!" he demanded in utter disbelief.

Marietta straightened her stance with a small huff. "I've seen the way you look at her. I know you blame me for her problem—"

"You don't help the situation, that's for bloody sure!" Zabini shook his head and turned back around.

"You're not denying that you think it's my fault!"

"You're such an idiot, Etty!"

Marietta swung her large purse into the back of his head. "I am NOT!" she snapped as he yelped in surprise and held his head, looking at her. "You're just pathetic!" she shrieked. "You've no real job, I know what you do all day! And it's certainly not work! You don't want to be with your family! You hate them! You hate your children!"

It was at this moment that Hermione saw a tiny body fidget behind Marietta. A young girl of maybe seven or eight took a step back, pulling a smaller girl with her.

Marietta's daughters...

And a strangled scream drew Hermione's attention back to the fighting couple. Marietta had smacked Zabini across the cheek. The man narrowed his eyes in a dangerous glare and then snatched her throat easily with a hand.

"STOP!" Hermione shouted and ran up to them. "STOP IT!"

Zabini didn't even look her way. He appeared to not have heard her.

"Blaise—" Marietta choked.

Hermione grabbed a hold of Zabini's arm and shook at it. "Zabini! Let her go!"

The little girls and Scorpius were crying from what was taking place now and people were coming by to see what all the ruckus was about.

"Someone help me!" Hermione pleaded as she one-handedly tried wrestling Zabini from Marietta.

"Get them out of here!" Hermione heard Ron say nearby, and she instantly felt relieved when she saw that he and Verity Shellson (a woman who was employed at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes) were coming to assist.

Verity escorted the upset Zabini girls from the scene.

"Get off her!" Ron snarled at Zabini, pushing Hermione out of the way and wrapping his arms around Zabini from behind him. All at once, Zabini released his grip on Marietta who fell to the ground, gasping for air. "What the hell, man?!" Ron demanded to Zabini. "What's wrong with you?!"

Hermione bent down and set Scorpius on the ground to help Marietta. "Are you okay?"

Marietta was coughing, but she managed a nod.

"She attacked me first," Zabini growled, answering Ron's question. He remained still in Ron's arms, who didn't feel comfortable with letting him go.

"So you're going to kill her over it?!"

Zabini's eyes suddenly widened. "Cara!" he gasped.

"What?"

"Our d-daughter," Marietta struggled to say, rubbing her sore neck.

"She's missing, and my wife blames me for it," Zabini said bitterly.

"I know you deny she's yours!" Marietta spat.

"You know nothing, bitch!" Zabini retorted with just as much hate as she had tossed to him.

"Alright, that's enough!" Ron ordered. He looked at Hermione. "Would you call the Aurors, please?" He finally let go of Zabini, but instantly pulled out his wand and pointed it at him.

"I've committed no crime!" Zabini challenged, raising his hands up in defense.

"Attempted murder?" Ron questioned mockingly. "Since when is that not a crime?"

The group walked to the Weasleys joke shop, as that's what Ron suggested to do. During the walk, Hermione called upon the Aurors who came soon enough to sort everything out.

The middle Zabini girl had wandered off (and was found shortly after a locator spell had been cast), but Marietta and Zabini had been too busy bickering to give their child much thought at all.

"Next time, just call the Aurors," Ron instructed. "There are spells to cast to find your child. You may want to spend more time learning them than bitching about whose fault it is."

"Daneekah!" Scorpius seemed to agree, waving at little Cara, who was currently in the arms of her father. She slowly waved back and rested her head against Zabini's chest.

"Thank you for your help," Zabini said respectively.

"And consult someone about your marriage problems," Harry said firmly.

"You both have a serious problem," Hermione added. She swallowed slowly, noticing the red markings around Marietta's neck. Hermione couldn't believe that Marietta was not going to press charges against him.

"Next time, we'll have to arrest the both of you," Neville warned.

Marietta nodded. "Will do." She gave a weak smile before lifting their youngest daughter in her arms and called out to the eldest one to follow her out. Zabini hesitantly trailed behind her with four-year-old Cara in his arms.

"That is one sick, sad couple," Neville muttered once they were out of the shop and headed home.

"You're telling me!" Ron grunted. "You should have seen the look on his face..." He shuddered. "Pretty chilling."

Harry frowned and looked out the shop's window, saying nothing.

"I've heard they do this all the time," Hermione told them. "We need to make laws against this..."

"There are laws," Neville said. "But if she's not going to report that he's harmed her, there's nothing we can do about it."

"They are putting their children in too much danger..." Ron said slowly.

Harry then informed that he and Neville had to get back to the Ministry to fill out some papers on the case.

* / *

Draco came home to Hermione sitting at a desk, hovering over a pile of papers with a thoughtful frown. At the floor of the chair was a bag of things that made Draco believe she had gone out that day, since she took it with her anytime she went shopping. He curiously took a peek in the bag. Finding nothing of interest at the top of it, Draco asked her what she was reading.

Hermione sighed and shuffled the papers into a tidy pile. "Harry sent me these just a bit ago..." she started slowly. "I had to call Aurors today while I was out."

"For what?" Draco was on the alert now. "Are you alright?" he asked, eyeing her over closely, looking for any sign of injury.

"Yes..." Her eyes fell down to the quill next to the stack of papers.

Draco placed a hand on her shoulder. "What happened?"

"It was Zabini..." she told him bitterly. "He and Marietta got in a fight, and he ended up choking her..."

The hand at her shoulder tensed up, enough to cause her to make a sound of discomfort. "Sorry," Draco murmured, removing his hand.

"I just got finished with signing these, and I think it would be good for you to do it too," she said without looking at him, as if she was afraid to.

Draco leaned over her to take the papers she was referring to. "No," he said firmly after he had read what they were. He set his jaw in disturbance. "I'm not signing these."

"But Draco—"

"It'll crush him, Mione. Blaise is my friend. I'm not going to do that to him."

"It's for the best!" she insisted. "You weren't there, Draco! Those little girls were scared that he was going to kill their mother!"

"I stand by my friend," he said, turning from her.

Draco heard her chair scrape across the floor as she scooted it out from the desk to stand up. "You care more about him than three innocent girls?!" she shrieked.

Keeping his back turned, he replied, "There only needs to be five signatures. Between you, Potter, Weasley, and Longbottom, you only need one more. It should be easy enough to get."

He walked to the room's exit and stopped when he heard her again. "What if it were Scorpius?! You'd never want him to see something as terrible as those little girls have, would you?! I surely wouldn't!"

Draco saw her point, and it wasn't that he had disagreed with her before, but he didn't want Blaise to know that he supported the movement to take his daughters away. Even if it was for a good enough reason.

"I'd try her mother if you really want that last signature," he suggested a moment later. It was most likely Mrs. Edgecombe would be the next to know about what went on in her daughter's home.

Chapter Text

"Master...?"

Draco looked away from the window he had been staring out of. That morning he had flooed straight to Malfoy Manor and spent the past hour in his bedroom there. Just staring and thinking.

For nearly two days now, he and Hermione hadn't been talking much to each other. She had been upset with him because he wouldn't sign those bloody papers, and he had been annoyed at her for not supporting his reasoning for not doing it.

She didn't understand his position on this. Zabini loved his daughters, and Draco could somewhat relate to what Zabini was going to go through if his children got taken away.

"What is it, Toogs?"

"Mr. Potter says to tell yous that your friend, Zabini, has been arrested. Mr. Potter feels you should hurry and help him. He knows not anyone else to help him, sir."

Draco's stomach began churning. What in Merlin's name had Blaise done?

"Thanks, Toogy," Draco muttered. He stood up from his chair and hurried to the floo.

At the Department of Ministries, Draco went straight to the Holding Station (a place where wizards were held as they awaited a trial)."No wands past this point," a man said. "You have to check it in right here."

"I just want to see—"

"No wands past this point," the man repeated persistently.

Draco sighed and set his wand on the counter. He signed his name on a piece of parchment and watched the man place his precious belonging into a white box and store it into a file cabinet with a large black "M" drawn on it.

"Zabini. I'm here to see Blaise Zabini," he said to the man.

"Malfoy," Potter's voice came up from down a hall. "I'll take you to him. He's a bit upset."

"As he should be," Draco told him with a cold tone, joining Potter. "If you hadn't had stuck your bloody nose—"

"I didn't ask you to come here to start a fight with me," Potter harshly interrupted, leading the way, passing several white doors. "I called you here, wondering of you could calm him down."

"When's his trial?"

"He's not here for a trial."

"Then why is he here at all?" Draco asked, becoming confused.

Potter stopped at a door and turned to face Draco while he explained what happened, "He wasn't home when we arrived to relocate the girls. Marietta called him as soon as we told her why we were there. So, we waited for him to apparate in, thinking it was only fair that he knew what was going on. Marietta started screeching at him the instant she saw him, and then he told us that we had no right to take his kids away. We tried telling him why, and what they would need to do for the girls to come back, but at that point, neither Zabini or his wife wanted to let up. The two began fighting. The kids started crying—" Potter stopped here, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. "Zabini got violent then, threatening us. We had to stupefy him. We then took him here. All we want to do is talk to him, but he won't listen to us. We've even tried a calming draught, but that didn't work."

"Well, that's strange… Why wouldn't the potion work?"

"I don't know. I'm only hoping you can get him to reason. Otherwise, he'll need to spend a few days in here until he cools down."

Draco grimly nodded. "I'll see what I can do." He clenched his jaw after Potter opened the door to a tiny room with two wooden benches. Blaise was sitting on a bench with a chain connected to each of his feet and hands.

"Get me out of here!" Blaise bellowed out in a worn out, hoarse voice. "I've done nothing wrong! Nothing!"

"You don't really need to chain him down, do you?!" Draco demanded.

Potter's eyebrows lifted up. "Until he settles down, yes."

"Draco! You've got to get me out of here!"

"Leave us be then," Draco told Potter, looking at his desperate friend. "We'll be fine," he added when Potter appeared hesitant over the request.

"I'll stand right outside this door. Yell if you need me."

When Potter left, Draco sat at the bench across from Blaise. "I'd say you need to stop the drinking, Blaise, it's obviously doing you no good," Draco told him sternly.

Blaise tugged at his chains. "They are treating me like a criminal! Can't you see?!"

"You're not acting sane, that's why. You're a danger to everyone at the moment."

"They've taken my girls away!" Blaise whispered in terror. "I can't believe—" He hung his head. "How can they do this to me?! To them?! I've d-done nothing wr-wrong," he said shakily.

Draco stared at the man before him. He had not seen Blaise so scared in his life. "They are doing it to help you and the girls."

"Where will they g-go?" Blaise lifted his head to look Draco in the eye. "Their godfather's dead. Cho is their godmother, but she's not going to stop her Quidditch career for them." He shook his head and dropped it into his hands. A sob escaped his throat. "It's my fault, isn't it?"

"Well, not exact—"

"Etty's right. This is all my bloody fault!" He then gasped out. "Cara!" Blaise whispered and made to stand up, but he was unable to, being confined to the bench. He yanked at the chains, growling at them in anger. "Get me out of here!" He tried yelling, but his throat was too hoarse. He pounded the stone wall next to him with a fist.

Something was wrong with him. He was not acting normal. Usually, Blaise was a fairly quiet man, and he didn't tend to make himself noticeable. He wasn't an attention whore.

"Merlin, Blaise! Calm down!"

"I've got to get her," Blaise said. "They won't be able to take care of her!"

"I'm sure someone good will look after Elenore, Cara, and Cinzia for the time being. You just need to concentrate on calming down."

"No!" Blaise said. "They can't take care of her! You don't understand!" His eyes were wide with fear.

"Alright, Blaise, then make me understand. What is going on with you?"

"I want to see them. I want to see Cara." Blaise didn't seem to hear Draco. He tugged at the chains again, not registering that he couldn't break free. "Please don't do this to her! Please!"

This behavior was starting to really freak Draco out. "Who are you talking about, Blaise?"

"Cara!" Blaise answered in frustration, as if Draco should already know the answer. "You can't do this to her!"

"I've done nothing to no one," Draco told him. "But Cara's safe, mate. So is Cinzia and Elenore."

Blaise shook his head wildly. "No! She's not! She's not!"

Draco stood up and walked the couple steps to stand before his friend. "Are you currently seeing an Analyst, Blaise?" he asked. "If not, I think it'll be good for you to talk with one."

Blaise shook his head. "No, I don't want that," he said distractedly.

"He'll only talk with you. Nothing more."

"I won't see anyone besides Healer Scatto."

Draco never heard of that name before. He asked Blaise how Healer Scatto could be contacted and made a mental note of the information Blaise gave him. "We'll get this all sorted out, alright? You just need to relax." Draco made to walk to the door so he could go notify Healer Scatto immediately about what was going on.

"Draco?" the voice was quiet, almost hesitant.

"Yes?"

Blaise was looking at the wall ahead of him, not even at Draco. "Can you make sure Cara is alright?"

"I'm sure she is, Blaise," he assured the concerned man.

"Healer Satto will need to see Cara too..." Blaise informed very slowly, regrettably. His fingernails dug into his thighs, and Draco heard him hiss out in pain. "It's all my bloody fault!" he muttered. He leaned down onto his side to lay on the bench, wrapping his arms around his stomach.

"Don't entirely blame yourself, Blaise," Draco said. "It's not all your fault."

"Please check on her for me, Draco. It is all I ask..." Blaise's voice croaked. "They won't let me do it myself. They think I'll hurt her..."

"Fine, I'll do it," Draco promised, wondering why Blaise wasn't worried about the other girls. "And what about Elenore and Cinzia?"

Blaise tilted his head up to look at the dim light that lit the dank room, giving it a thought over. He nodded after a few moments. "I'm sure they are fine," he said. "They are not like Cara."

"But you don't think they will be scared right now?"

"No."

"Why not?"

Blaise's arms wrapped tighter to his body. A tiny smile formed at his lips. "Because they are not like me," he said and closed his eyes. "I want to see my Healer before seeing anyone else— unless they allow me to visit with my girls, but I'm not counting on that."

Draco gave a nod and left the room. He heard the man burst into sobs right before he shut the door behind him.

"Well?" Potter practically pounced on him as soon as he exited.

"He wants to see his Healer. Scatto— ever heard of him?" Potter answered with a simple shake of his head. "I suggested to him that he see an Analyst," Draco continued. "He's completely out of his mind right now. He said he would see only Healer Scatto. He's not going to talk to anyone until he gets the help he needs."

"It sounds like he's calmed down," Potter said, listening for any sign of an outcry on the other side of the door.

Draco pursed his lips out. "If you call crying 'settling down'."

Potter's eyes flashed with surprise.

"Nice going, hero," Draco muttered and turned on his heel to leave so he could send the needed message to Healer Scatto.

"I had no choice, Malfoy," Potter called out. "You know it! Even you agreed with it!"

Draco frustratingly gritted his teeth at Potter's words. He knew they were true, but there must have been a better way to handle Blaise's situation. He would have gone about it a different way personally, if he had had time to think more about it. He would have instead chosen mandatory family counseling, or something along those lines.

Surprisingly, Draco had no issues with being granted permission to see little Cara. Maybe the Aurors figured it was because Draco was friends with Blaise. Draco wasn't sure why, but he didn't care either, so long as he got to fulfill the promise he made to his friend.

As soon as the guard led Draco to the children's holding area and to Cara's room, he had found out that Cara had been separated from her sisters. Cara was sitting alone in a cheery painted room with plenty of toys that would interest most children in any other situation besides one where they had just been yanked from their entire family.

The toys were trashed around though. Most were even broken in several pieces. Paper was shredded. Crayons were snapped in half or quarters. Chairs were also upturned, having been carelessly placed (or tossed).

The only chair that wasn't tipped over was the one tucked up against the table that Cara was sitting at. Her head was bent down.

She was crying.

Shit... Draco didn't know how to comfort a small girl.

"Hello..." he announced his presence uneasily.

Cara's head snapped up to look at him. "Dracko!" she literally cheered and uprooted from the chair, running to him. He was surprised the girl even remembered him. It had been a while since he had last seen her. She stopped in front of him. "Can I see my papa now?" Her innocent brown eyes filled with hope.

"He has to see a Healer first," Draco said, shifting his eyes around at the mess surrounding them. "Did you do all this?" he asked in disbelief.

Cara shifted her feet in sudden nervousness. "I think so..." she said, seemingly unsure if she actually did it or not.

"Why?"

"I was sad... and mad..." She bent down and picked up a torn off head to a stuffed crow. "I'll make it better though!" She then started filling her arms with the items that were littered around the room.

"Do you often see a Healer, Cara?" Draco decided to see if he could fish some information from the girl. He joined her in cleaning up the mess, finding a tipped over rubbish can to use for most of it.

"I and Papa floo to Healer lots of times," the girl said, distracting herself with sorting the pieces that belonged to each other into piles. "You cast spell now, Dracko? To fix the breaks?" She was speaking about the toys she broke.

"I can't," he told her. "They took my wand from me."

Cara's eyes widened in shock. "You do something bad then, Dracko?!"

"No," Draco chuckled, slightly amused by her facial expression. "They do that to most of the people who come here. I'll get it back when I go home."

"Will you take me back home?"

"Not right now, no."

Cara was still sorting things together. She took her time, careful to make sure that she didn't foul up her work. "Nora and Cinny gots to go home... but nots me."

"No. Elenore and Cinzia are in their own playroom, Cara."

"The lady says to me I can't play with them until I be nice again," Cara said sadly. "Papa has my pozione. I want to see Papa..." Her eyes swelled with tears. "I want my pozione. It makes me feel good." She then sat down on the floor between two piles of rubbish and crossed her legs. "I don't like it here," she said tearfully.

"I know." Draco wasn't sure what he could tell her to make her feel better.

"Why can't I go home?" she asked quietly, sniffing.

"Your parents need some time alone. So they can talk about things."

Cara wiped her dripping nose on the sleeve of the yellow dress she was wearing. "Talk?" she asked warily.

"Yes."

Cara began shaking her head. "No, that's no good. No..."

"It is good to talk to the people you love, Cara," Draco assured her.

"IT IS NOT GOOD!" she screamed out, making Draco jump at the sudden rise of her voice.

He stepped back to allow her to know that he was not intending to harm her. "You don't think your mother and father should talk?"

Cara's lips pursed out uglily. She leaned over to her right, grabbing a broken piece of a toy. "No!" she screamed at him, throwing it at him. "I want to see Papa!" she demanded as it clunked Draco in the arm.

Draco gaped at her, rubbing the sore spot on his arm. "No throwing," he said sternly. "That's not nice!"

"PAPA!" she screeched, painfully piercing Draco's eardrums. She went to pick up another piece of rubbish.

"No," Draco said, pointing his finger at her. "No throwing toys."

She didn't listen and conked him in the head this time. Draco made a beeline for the exit, pressing a hand to his head.

What is that girl's problem?!

Maybe it was just better for her to have some time to herself.

To be thorough, Draco went to the next room over to see how the youngest and eldest Zabini girls were doing. At that given time, Elenore (who was barely even three, if Draco remembered correctly) was sitting next to Cinzia at a child-sized table. They were both heavily engrossed in colouring, working on the same book and even on the same page.

"What colour should her vestito be, Nora?" the elder sister asked, pausing to look at their work.

Elenore stopped her colouring and eyed over a pile of crayons that was sprawled up above the colouring book. "Not dink!" She scrunched up her face when Cincia picked up a pink crayon.

Cinzia laughed and replaced the pink crayon. "But I like pink!"

"All dwincesses vestito are dink!"

"Yellow then?" Cinzia reasoned, holding up the crayon that matched her suggested colour.

"No! Nero!"

"Black?! But all the bad princesses wear black! It's bad!"

Elenore tilted her head and began scribbling with the black crayon. "Our dwincess is diff'went, Cinny. See wears a nero vestito and see's a good wady!"

"Can her shoes be pink then?" Cinzia requested patiently.

Elenore heaved out an exasperated sigh. "Fine, Cinny!"

The whole time, the girls hadn't noticed Draco watching them. Blaise seemed to be right about these two; they were oddly content for the time being. He found it strange after what they had been through.

Draco popped his head back in on Cara a bit later. She had been waiting by the door, her face streaming with tears.

"Don't leave me again!" she cried. "Please, Dracko! Stay with me! I'm sorry I hurt you! Just don't leave me alone!"

He no more than stepped inside before she crashed into him, wiping her blubbering face on one of his pant legs.

"Don't cry, Cara," Draco said, the only thing he could think of it. He gathered her up into his arms. Draco wanted to help her feel better, and he soon learned that he couldn't do much for that. He carried her to the sofa and sat down, where she lay in his arms and cried herself to sleep.

For a while, he didn't move, fearing he would wake her, but when he heard a soft snoring sound come from her throat, he figured she was sleeping heavily enough at that point, and gently set her onto the cushion next to him.

But he didn't get up.

For some reason, he didn't want her to wake up and feel alone all over again. He knew what that felt like, and he certainly didn't think it was right for a child to feel that way. At the same time, he felt she should be with her sisters— or with someone she at least knew of— and he wanted to talk with someone who could permit that.

Thankfully, he didn't have to make that ultimatum. Potter entered the room, followed by Blaise, who was no longer shackled like a prisoner. Blaise smiled wide at the sight of his daughter and picked her up into his arms as soon as he approached her. He hugged her tight to him, whispering something in Italian.

"Bambina," Blaise whispered softly into Cara's ear to wake her.

She soon awoke, shrieking out in happiness, "Papa!" And hugged him. "The lady said I couldn't play with Cinny and Nora," Cara whimpered. "I had no one here and I was so scared!"

"I know, Cara, but it's okay now, I've your pozione."

"Oh, good!" Cara squirmed in Blaise's arms until he set her on solid ground and fished out a potion from a pocket of his shirt.

Draco watched in heavy interest and wonder while Cara made no hesitation in drinking the potion. When she was done, she proudly smiled. "Now, we all go home, Papa?! Can we?!"

"First, your Mama and I have some things to do."

"Oh, no, Papa!" Cara gasped out in horror. "No, please!"

"It'll be alright, Bambina."

Cara shook her head in denial. She grabbed her father's hand and pulled at it. "Let's just go home, si, Papa?" She gave him a heart warming smile in which he returned and bent down to kiss the top of her head.

"Not just yet, Cara," he murmured against the strands of her brunette hair.

Cara wrapped her arms around his neck. "Don't make me stay here!"

"You're not going to stay here," Blaise said softly. "You, Cinny, and Nora are going to spend a few nights at some nice peoples' home."

"Like a sleepover party?" Cara innocently asked.

"Exactly, my little gumdrop."

Cara giggled happily. "Will I gets to play with Nora and Cinny there?"

"Of course."

"What about my pozione?" she asked worriedly. "How will I get it if I'm there?"

"I'll pack you enough to last. Don't you worry about that."

Cara nodded, seemingly content with his answer.

"You'll say goodbye to your mama now. She's in with your sisters."

Cara glanced at the door before turning back to her father. "Okay," she whispered hollowly.

"I'll take her," Potter offered, holding out his hand for her to take.

Cara silently confirmed this with Blaise. He nodded in approval with a small smile. The girl hugged her father one last time before Potter took her to see her mother. "Ciao, Papa! Ti amo!"

"Ti amo, Cara," Blaise returned, giving her a tiny wave. "We need to talk," he then announced to Draco tiredly, pulling Draco's eyes from the shutting door.

* / *

Pacing.

That's what Hermione had been doing for the past hour, waiting for Draco to return home. She had gone to Malfoy Manor to talk to him, but Mr. Malfoy had informed her that he wasn't there. He had surprised her by asking if everything was alright, but Hermione knew he was only asking for Draco's sake, in which she nodded a simple answer.

"Would you mind if I left Scorpius here for the afternoon?" she had asked the older man slowly, not quite comfortable asking a favour of him, but she had an idea that she and Draco might end up in some cruel shouting match and didn't want Scorpius to be around it.

He inclined his head forward, accepting the request. "I'm sure my wife would love to look after Scorpius," he said while Hermione handed over Scorpius.

"Dankee!" Scorpius cheered, engrossed in some object across the room that had caught his eye. "Balookah!"

"Just keep an eye on him, he's been very adventurous lately," Hermione warned Mr. Malfoy.

"He'll be fine," he told her, patting the baby's back.

"Thanks, Mr. Malfoy. If Draco arrives here, would you please tell him to come home?"

He gave a single nod. "I will."

"Thanks," she repeated.

"Not at all."

Their exchanges were getting a little better, Hermione noted. A bit less... rigid. If that was at all possible to do when speaking with Draco's father.

She needed to relax, but her heavy pulse made that near impossible. She tried many things to soothe her nerves, like reading, drinking tea, and even watching the Muggle telly, but none of that had calmed her down. She had a valid reason to be this way, though, with what she had just discovered today. Someway or another, she'd have to settle things with Draco. She didn't need the extra stress, and believed Draco would agree with her thoughts on this.

The only thing that concerned Hermione was if Draco would still feel bitter with their earlier argument. If he would, then it may take him longer to come to her level of an understanding in letting things go as they were; agreeing to disagree. Not every couple was able to agree on everything.

She'd have to tell him that.

Hermione hung around in the flooing room, so she'd be able to immediately pounce on Draco at the first glimpse of him. That plan failed though, because he had brought others with him.

"Wipe your feet," he said as soon as he and the three smaller bodies landed on the threshold of the fireplace. Hermione wrinkled her forehead in confusion, wondering why the Zabini girls were with him.

Gosh, she and Draco really needed to talk. In private. "Draco?" she questioned for an explanation.

"Just give me a minute," he responded with suppressed annoyance. "Hang your robes up here," he instructed softly, leading the girls to a polished, black coat rack.

Hermione stood patiently and silently watching him help each of the girls hang up their outer wear. He avoided contact with her eyes, ignoring her presence altogether.

Irritated by his lack of explanation of what was going on inside her home, she followed the group to the kitchen where Draco summoned up Toogy, ordering her to make the girls a meal. She wondered when Draco was actually going to explain what was happening, but refrained from demanding it, given their sudden guests. Hermione stood by the door, tapping her foot, knowing he'd have to acknowledge her eventually.

"Stay here, alright?" Draco spoke to the girls. "Toogy will make you whatever you want."

"Even cake and ice cream?" Cara asked, slightly excited by the thought.

"No, Cara!" Cinzia scolded with a roll of her eyes. "You can't have cake and ice cream for dinner!"

"He said we can have anything!" Cara retorted.

"Yes, you can have cake of ice cream," Draco confirmed quickly. "But only if you stay here. And if you be nice to each other," Draco added the last bit firmly when the middle girl spat her tongue out at her elder sister.

"We'll stay. We pwomise!" Elenore said, squirming in her seat.

"And I'll be nice," Cara quickly straightened up in her chair, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to have cake and ice cream.

"We need to talk," Hermione muttered to Draco when he stepped up to her and finally looked her in the eye.

"The bloody quote of my day," he grumbled under his breath and gestured for her to lead the way, casting a noise-blocker charm on the kitchen so the girls could eat in peace.

 


 

AN: I've had such a horrid week. My grandfather died on the 17th, last Tuesday, so yeah... Hope this chapter came out okay. It's been rough.

Bless you all.

 

Chapter Text

In their study room, Hermione watched Draco, who stood at the oversized window. Outside, the day was coming to an end as the sun slowly made its descend from the sky. He stared out of it with his eyes locked on who knew what. He was leaning forward against the ledge of the window, his frame slumped. It was a major shift in mood from the irritated one only moments ago during their walk to this very room. Almost like he had reached his limit of energy that he had been using to hide this emotion of fear.

Hermione only needed a small moment of time to decide that what she had needed to discuss with him would have to wait. She set a hand onto his shoulder and felt that his body was faintly shaking, something she hadn't been able to make out due to the lack of lighting. "What's wrong, Draco?"

Her hushed voice must have amplified what he had been feeling, because the shaking increased in speed. He lifted up his hand and set it on hers, caressing it with his fingers. "I apologize for not asking you first," he started. Much to his body's movement, his voice was rather steady. "But I was really given no choice..."

"About what?"

The hand he was stroking her with left hers and pointed to the door. "Blaise... just made me their... godfather..." he announced very slowly. "He, with the insistence of your bloody hero friend, wants me to provide care for them until everything's better between he and Marietta..."

"Oh." A smile tugged at the corners of Hermione's lips, touched by Draco's reaction of his new status (and by the fact that he had agreed to do it). "You're acting like that's a terrible thing— being a godparent."

Draco scoffed and held out his trembling hand up for her to see. "Look at me! I'm losing my mind over the thought of it! You'd think I was just told that I was going to have a daughter of my own!"

Hermione momentarily looked away and licked her lips anxiously. "Why would having a daughter scare you, Draco?"

"I know nothing about little girls!" he burst out helplessly. "Nothing! I've barely had a enough time to adjust to the idea of fatherhood period— to a son, though! This is so much more different! I don't know how to comfort a little girl! I don't even know exactly what they need!"

"They are no different than little boys, Draco," Hermione assured him. "Children are children. They all need structure, guidance, and love."

"Well, perhaps in a typical case," he agreed quietly after he thought over her words. "But these girls... I'm not sure they're... normal..."

"Do you expect them to be with how their parents act around them? Besides, from what I saw in the kitchen, they seem more normal than you're giving them credit for."

Draco sighed and pushed himself off of the window's ledge. He turned to face her, looking her in the eye. "Cara has a medical issue..." he told her as if it was the biggest secret in the world, and if someone had found out he had said it, he'd be Avada Kedavra'ed right there on the spot. "Blaise told me not to tell anyone, but Hermione... she'll be staying here... with our son, and with you... It's only right for you to know what to expect of her." He looked away, full of guilt. "If this gets out, it will ruin him, Hermione. His name, his family— everything. I'm trusting you with this."

"How can a medical condition— something Blaise has no control of— ruin him?"

"He blames himself, and society will blame him, possibly point fingers at him, perhaps even shun him..." he told her. "Just please try to understand how serious this is... No one must know. Not even his wife knows."

Hermione gasped out. "She doesn't know her daughter has a medical issue?!"

"It's complicated, alright?" he said through a sigh. "He wouldn't tell me much more on that subject. And to be honest, that's their issue, not mine. I'm asking for your help because I'm going to need it. Cara is going to need the both of us. I can't do this on my own."

Hermione's mind went into spinning, wondering what she could do to help. "What am I to expect of her? What does she have? Is there a cure? Is it fatal—"

"Mione!" Draco placed a finger to her mouth to stop her ramble of questions. "If you would shush for a moment, I'll tell you everything I know."

*/*

Scorpius didn't understand why these girls were in his home. He was sitting on the floor in his playroom, watching them go through his toys like they were their own. He didn't really care that they were doing it. Or that was the case until Kippah was brought into play (his stuffed bat that Grandfather had gotten him for Christmas).

He made to crawl toward Elenore, who was dancing around the toy chest with Kippah. Scorpius had been trying to learn walk a lot lately, but he wasn't stable enough and he didn't like falling. It hurt to fall. It made him cry when he lost his balance.

"Aagah!" he said when he got to the toy chest, using it to pull himself to his feet. He reached out for Kippah, letting Elenore know that he wanted it.

"I'm pwaying wiff it," she told him simply and hugged it to her. She looked in the large toy chest and picked out a wooden rattle, then gave it a vigorous shake in front of his face. "You can pway wiff diss!"

"Ah!" Scorpius declined unhappily, but Elenore ignored his protest and skipped away from him to join Cinzia for a game of tea party. Scorpius plopped onto the ground, sticking his bottom lip out. His eyes clouded over with tears and he threw his head back, screaming.

Mumma quickly came by and picked him up to soothe him, but she was mistaking his crying for tiredness. "Did your grandpa and grandma spoil you today during your visit? You had a long day, didn't you, baby?"

That wasn't why he was crying though, and Mumma failed to notice that he was pointing out his Kippah.

"Doesn't Scorpius have any dolls?" Cinzia asked over the crying.

"No," his Derbla answered, creasing his eyebrows at the question.

"How come not?" Cara was curious.

"Boys don't play with dolls."

"They do so, Draco," Mumma said and rolled her eyes before kissing Scorpius on the cheek. His cries were quieting as he found their talking of him interesting.

He didn't know what a doll was, but he thought it must be fun, since these girls liked playing with his toys, and his toys were lots of fun. "Acktah!" he said, telling Mumma that he wanted a doll to play with.

"I think he wants a doll!" Cara exclaimed. "We can go to my home and bring him some of ours!"

"No!" Derbla said instantly. "He does not want to play with a doll!"

"Dah!" Scorpius argued. But he had a slight feeling that if his father didn't want him to play with a doll, maybe it was a bad thing to do...

"It won't hurt him," Mumma told Derbla. "If he likes it, he likes it. If he doesn't, he doesn't."

Derbla didn't look happy. He crossed his arms over his chest, grunting. "It'll turn him into a poof!"

"It will not!" Mumma shrieked out, giving him a stern, dirty look.

"What's a poof?" Elenore asked instantly.

"It's when a boy does girly things," Cinzia supplied as she served up make-believe tea and cupcakes.

"And it's a very bad word, so don't say it!" Hermione warned them, glaring at Draco.

"What is it called when a girl does boyly things?" Cara looked worried. "Am I bad for liking sport balls?!"

"No!" Derbla and Mumma both said at once. Each looked at the other and sighed.

"Nahdu!" Scorpius said. He didn't want them mad at each other. Maybe he should avoid the dolls if it would make them upset.

"I'll put Scorpius to bed," Mumma announced to Derbla. "You work on winding them down." She gestured to the girls.

"How?!

Mumma shrugged. "A gentler activity?" she suggested and began carrying Scorpius off. The baby caught sight of his father's nervous frown.

Mumma took Scorpius to their room, and changed him before laying him in the crib. She kissed him goodnight and left.

He waited in the dark for Derbla to come, but he didn't. What was going on? Why didn't Derbla kiss him for bed like he did most every other night? What had Scorpius done wrong?

Scorpius ended up falling asleep in sadness.

*/*

Draco raked a hand through his hair. Becoming a godfather had been a shock. He had at first hastily declined Blaise's 'offer', but Blaise had insisted that Draco was the only one that could give the girls the care they would need without it affecting their everyday life (too much, anyway).

"And Miss Granger can help you. I'm sure she'd do it. She's a good person. You can't deny that."

"I don't know anything about them..." Draco had told his friend very quietly earlier that day. "I'm barely managing my own kid, Blaise..."

"Oh, that's hogwash, Draco, and you know it!" his friend had sternly snapped at him. "If you were 'barely managing', the tabloids wouldn't have headlines with, 'Draco Malfoy; proof that becoming a father can change a man', and 'Look at the Malfoy heir! He is one of the happiest babies in the wizard world!' " Blaise smiled to himself. "It'll be interesting to see how he turns out, won't it? Gryffindor maybe?"

Draco snorted. "If my wand hadn't been confiscated, you'd have boils on your face for that comment!"

Blaise tilted his head in thoughtfulness. "I don't know Draco... I have three daughters, and I don't think any of them will go to Slytherin," he advised.

"My son will be a Slytherin," Draco said with finality as the door opened to the room.

Potter stepped in and smirked a little. "It's a little early to be declaring that, isn't it? Scorpius is not even a year old!"

"And you haven't had this conversation about your own children?" Blaise asked lightly.

Potter chuckled. "I try to avoid it, to be honest. Obviously, everyone expects them to be Gryffindors. We'll just have to see." He shrugged. "Anyway, about the girls—"

"Draco is their Godfather now, so I'd like him to home them for the time being."

Potter nodded. "That's an excellent idea—"

"I've not said I was going to take them! That'll be four children in my home! Four!"

"They're all toilet trained," Blaise pointed out with a huge grin forming, knowing how Draco felt about human manure. "You don't have to worry about dirty butts! Promise!"

Potter burst out laughing. "After all this time? You still whine about that?!"

Draco lifted up his chin smugly. "I've still managed not to clean a single messy one."

Potter's eyebrows rose up. "House elves then?"

Draco's eyes shifted away. He gave a tiny nod, lying with his answer. In truth, he had been able to get his mother and Hermione to do it so far, as they felt sorry for his gagging at the smell of Scorpius's dirty nappies— and by the thought that his hands were going to be that close to baby shat!

Ew.

The thought of that made his stomach queasy...

"Well," Potter started with a clear of his throat. "You should both know that we've been having difficulties finding a place for the girls to stay— together." He looked at the floor in mild disturbance, narrowing his eyes. "Given your past..." Potter trailed off before letting out a deep sigh. "Mr. Zabini, I would take them, but I wouldn't be able to give them everything they would need. Ginny's about to have our third—"

"They won't take Blaise's kids because he was sorted into Slytherin," Draco interrupted, cluing in on what Potter had failed to make clear. "But... their only half..." he pointed out. "Their mother—"

"—was a traitor to Dumbledore's Army."

"But it was I who made her—"

"A traitor is far worse than an enemy, Malfoy," Potter cut him off simply.

"But we were kids, Potter! That's not right! That's not right for those girls!"

"Draco—"

"No, it's okay, Zabini," Potter assured Blaise gently. "Malfoy is right. It isn't fair that your children are being denied a place to live because of who their parents are. Especially since such action was taken for the safety of them."

"So, all these people have signed a paper to pry them from their home, and none of them will take them in?!" Draco was pissed now. This was absurd! He wanted to punch something! He wanted to punch someone!

He inhaled deeply, painfully digging his fingernails into the palms of his hands.

He must keep calm... He could not lose his cool.

"You're their godfather, Draco," Blaise noted calmy. "You can't say you don't have the time, the money, nor the place. All those other people you speak of have busy jobs, smaller homes, and much less money than you do..."

A satisfied sound erupted from Potter's throat. "A valid point, Mr. Zabini." He gave Draco a taunting look, challenging him to say differently.

"Fine," Draco grumbled in defeat. "I guess... I can take them..."

"I'll need to talk to you first, Draco." Blaise looked briefly at Potter. "Alone, if you wouldn't mind, Mr. Potter?"

Draco now stood near the playing Elenore and Cinzia, staring at Blaise's middle child, noticing that Cara hadn't joined her sisters for their pretend tea party. Cara was laying on her stomach on a foam pad of many colours, spinning a magical toy top, intrigued by the colours, as her legs swayed back and forth to the rhythm of her humming. Draco faintly recognized the tune from one of Scorpius's musical toys. A singing bear, if he remembered correctly.

The youngest and eldest sisters got along perfectly well (too well; sickening well), but Draco had mildly noticed that Cara and Cinzia constantly butted heads when they acknowledged the other. It might just as well be a sibling thing though, as the Potter boys bickered often too. Neither he nor Hermione had siblings, so they were a little lost on what to expect. Hermione less than he. She had informed Draco that siblings often battled each other for attention. Or so that was what she had learned from the few years she had been around children. They also annoyed each other to the point of insanity— "It's a sign of their affection," she had told him.

Thankfully, Scorpius was their only child, and would remain that way, especially after just two hours with these girls (well, Potter's boys had somewhat to do with Draco's decision of that too).

"Party time's over," Draco announced gently.

"No!" Elenore shrieked. "I want to still pway pardy!"

Draco tapped his watch. "Tea time is done now. It's time to do something else."

"Can we cowour?" Elenore said with shining brown eyes.

"Sure—"

"No!" Cara gasped out, tossing the top she had been playing with into the toy chest. "Let's read a story! I can read! Did you know it, Drakko?!"

"His name is Draco, not Drakko," Cinzia corrected with a roll of her eyes.

"No, it's alright," Draco quickly said when he seen Cara's lip tremble, a sign that she may burst out crying. He did not need her to start that. "She can call me that."

Cara smiled widely. She then hurried to the area where the shelves of books were. Scorpius had mountains of books so she took her time picking.

Cinzia joined her with Elenore following closely behind her. "I can read too," Cinzia muttered.

"I know, Cinny," Cara said, thumbing through a picture book. "But yous been reading for years. It's nothing special for you. I just learnt how."

"I read too!" Elenore exclaimed, taking a random book from the bottom shelf and attempting to read it, even though it was upside down. "Yook!" she said to Cinzia, pointing out a mouse with a giant biscuit.

"Oh, I've never read this story." Cinzia took the book and looked over the cover. "Come on, Nora, I'll read this to you."

"But, Cinny!" Cara wailed. "I was going to read Nora this!" She held up a blue Dr. Seuss book.

"You're not as good as me, Cara. She likes my reading better." Cinzia then led their little sister away by the hand.

"I'm a better singer than you!" Cara shouted, throwing the book at her, missing.

"Missed me!" Cinzia sneered in delight, laughing.

Cara screamed in frustration and stomped her foot. She made to approach Cinzia but Draco caught her arm as she passed. "I know a good book," he said to distract her. "Scorpius loves it. How about you read it to me?"

"What's it called?" Cara asked instantly, looking around Draco to scowl at her elder sister. Cinzia didn't notice. She was already engrossed with reading.

"Just Me and My Dad." Draco summoned it up with his wand. "It's Scorpius's favourite book."

Cara's lip trembled again. "I miss my papa..." She sniffed.

Draco swallowed hard. Maybe that was a bad choice in title...

"Does yous has my pozione?" she asked him suddenly, rubbing a teary eye.

"Yes, and your father said to give it to you before bed."

"Can I sees it?" She seemed to doubt that he even had it.

"Sure." Draco fished it out of the inner pocket of his robes. He popped the cork, allowing her to sniff it.

Cara sighed in immense relief. "Good. I can read now."

She struggled on certain words, but most of the three letter words she had done well. Cara really enjoyed reading, and had even tucked herself up next to Draco on the sofa, growing tired as it neared her bedtime.

"Can you read me one now?" she asked after she had read two Little Critter books.

"You want me to read to you?"

She nodded and yawned. "Papa always reads to me before I falls asleep."

And so Draco read one last book, finishing it just as Hermione came in to announce that it was bed time.

"My pozione!" Cara needlessly reminded Draco as the other two girls put up a small fuss about having to go to bed. "Where will we sleep?" she curiously asked, when she had downed her potion.

"In one of the spare bedrooms for tonight," Hermione explained. "Tomorrow, we'll give you your own rooms though."

"But I want to sweep wiff Cinny!" Elenore wailed.

"Si, Nora always sleeps with me," Cinzia added proudly. "Or she doesn't sleep at all." Elenore confirmed this with a nod.

"Then you two can share a room," Draco told them, not caring what exactly they wanted room-wise. There was enough for them to have two or three a piece— if that's what they so desired.

"What about you, Cara?" Hermione asked, bending down to address her. "What would you like?"

Cara shrunk back behind Draco, wrapping her arms around one of his legs. She squeaked. Hermione gave Draco a funny look by her reaction.

"You don't need to be shy around Hermione, Cara," Draco said, prying her from his leg and guiding her back out into the open.

"No, Draco," Hermione said, frowning slightly and standing back up. "Let her adjust to me on her own."

"She sleeps all by herself anyway," Cinzia answered Hermione's earlier question. "In her room all by herself."

"Dat's why Cara has all dems incooby," Elenore whispered. "I don't gets no incooby when I sweeps with Cinny." At this, she stuck her thumb into her mouth to suck on.

"It's her fault though," Cinzia said with a patronizing sigh. "The monsters love when we sleep by ourselves."

"Stai zitto, Cinny!" Cara spat.

"Alright, enough of that," Draco jumped in immediately, nipping that in the bud before it got out of control.

"Be nice. You love your sister," Hermione said forcing herself to be cheery and set off to escort them to their room for the night.

After several bathroom trips, addition story readings, and even a song sung by Hermione (requested by Cinzia), the two adults had finally gotten the girls to quiet down and close their eyes.

Elenore and Cinzia were in the same bed which had been magically enlarged to accommodate them, and Cara, not far from them, was in her own bed, facing the wall, hugging one of Scorpius's stuffed toy cats that Draco had loaned her because she was missing her pet cat from home.

"She always sleeps with me," the little girl had emphasized when Draco informed her that "Kitty Kat Whiskers" would not be sleeping over that night. He was brilliant enough to charm the toy to feel like a real cat though. "But it's not Kitty Kat Whiskers," Cara had pouted when he had done it, but other than that, she made no more fuss about it, and cuddled it to her chest before she lay down.

Draco stood by the door after closing them in, and pressed a finger to his lips when Hermione looked at him funny for doing so. He cast a sound enhancing charm to see if the girls were going to say anything after they had left.

Elenore immediately began expressing her opinion on how nice Draco and Hermione were being to them. And Cinzia agreed, though she didn't add much to what was being said besides, "I did like having ice cream for dinner."

"You lied," Cara spoke up, interrupting her sisters' conversation. "Lying is bad, Cinny."

"Si," Elenore agreed. "Why yous tell dems dat Mama sings to us every night?"

"You didn't correct me, Cara," Cinzia pointed out. "Why didn't you tell on me?"

Cara was silent for many moments. Draco almost thought that she had fallen asleep.

"Tell me!" Cinzia practically shouted, making both Draco and Hermione jump to the sudden harsh sound. "Tell me why you didn't tattle on me?! You always do! You always get me in trouble!"

"Don't!" Draco whispered, stopping Hermione from opening the door.

"She shouldn't be shouting at her like that!" Hermione hissed.

Draco pointed to the door as Cara's tiny voice finally spoke up. "Because... I wanted Hermione to sing too..." she said softly. "Because... I was wishing it were true..." she finished in a whisper.

"I wished too," Elenore chimed. "I wish it true."

"Wishes are for stories only, Nora," Cinzia said. "They never come true."

"They can so!" Cara argued. "Don't be mean, Cinzia! Don't say that!"

"Well, you don't be stupid, Cara!" Cinzia snapped.

"I'm not stupid!" Cara cried. "Don't call me stupid! I'm not!"

"Okay, Cara, I'm sorry!" Cinzia said quickly. "Don't cry, Cara, please! You're not stupid! I didn't mean it!" The eldest sister was near tears, making her words believable.

"It's okay, Cinny," Cara told her. "I forgive you, and I'm sorry for being mean too." There were haste footsteps padding across the room, and when they stopped Cara said, "Ti amo, Cinny."

"I love you, Cara," Cinzia echoed.

"Hug me too!" Elenore pleaded. "Ti amo! Ti amo!"

It was when the girls began giggling that Draco canceled his hearing charm and gestured Hermione to leave them be.

"Those poor little girls," Hermione said with tears in her eyes. "They are so precious. I hope Zabini and Marietta can work their issues out."

"Me too," Draco agreed.

Merlin help them. Help them all.

"Would you really be scared with having a daughter?" Hermione asked when they had settled themselves in their own bed a couple hours later.

"Yes!" Draco scoffed. "I'm very grateful for having just Scorpius. Especially after tonight." She didn't want to meet his eyes after that, puzzling him a little. "I'm just going to guess that I answered that question wrong."

"I think having a daughter would be wonderful." Hermione could barely be heard. She had said it so quietly it had made Draco wonder if she may have been afraid to say it.

Of course, for him, the word 'daughter' made his insides cringe. How Blaise handled three was beyond him.

But of course, Blaise couldn't handle three daughters. Wasn't that why the girls were here to begin with? Or least his relationship with his wife was not fitting for them anyway.

Draco watched Hermione turn over on her side. She sighed sadly. He wrinkled his forehead, trying to figure out what was wrong with her. "You alright?"

"Yeah." Her tone told him differently though.

"You don't sound it," he said coaxingly. He really didn't need her upset right now. He had enough on his plate.

"No, I'm alright, Draco. Don't worry about it."

He didn't want to press her too hard, and to be frank, he was much too tried to have to wrestle it from her. Maybe she'd get over it. Perhaps she was on the rag and just in one of those moods women get during that time of month.

Clenching his jaw to suppress his mild annoyance with her, he pulled the covers up to his chin and closed his eyes, reminiscing over the day he just had.

'It's only for temporary,' he told himself. 'Life will go back to normal soon.'

He was sure of it.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke up early in the morning, dying of thirst. Everything was still dark, with no sign of dawn approaching yet. It was only 3:30.

So it was going to be one of them mornings, she thought to herself as she tossed aside the quilt she had been using and got up.

Restlessness.

That's what she's been suffering from on and off throughout the last week now. She would often wake up thirsty and with a mind that didn't want to sleep. There was no particular topic that it would set on though, her brain was just determined to annoy her. That could have been why she was cross with Draco recently. Or perhaps it was the other condition that she was currently going through.

She stopped at the doorway of the bedroom to look over at the lump in the bed that was Draco. He snored ever so softly, appearing to be sleeping rather peacefully, given the day he had just had. She knew he had had a rough one.

Hermione sighed. She did hope he would change his mind about having a daughter. His earlier concerns were awfully foolish, as he had handled the girls relatively well.

Except for the 'have anything you wish for dinner' thing. It had taken the pair of them to settle those little children down after that.

But they were extremely adorable, those little girls.

Hermione smiled to herself as she made her way to the kitchen for a drink of water. Draco was a sure sucker for kids, that's for damn sure.

She sipped her drink, sitting at the kitchen table with one sole light on so she could see. She thought about what the future had lined up for them. For she and Draco, their kids, and then the Zabini girls, wishing them all a bright future.

A solid thud brought her from her thoughts and made her look up from the table that she had been subconsciously staring at.

"Draco?" she loudly whispered. He often got up in the night if she was missing from the room, simply to check up on her before going back to bed.

He didn't answer though, so Hermione got up to investigate. She cringed at the idea of having some sort of pest running amuck, and with the thought of that, she equipped herself with her wand. After the Bogart, she was taking no chances.

She walked along the hallway toward where she thought the thud had come from, and soon heard soft music, recognizing it to be Scorpius's magical toy piano. It played a popular classic tune and then the music paused a few seconds before it picked up again. The slight offkey playing informed Hermione that it was being played with.

When she came across the playroom, where the noise was coming from, she saw the light from the tiny piano, providing enough to show that it was Cara who was the one playing. The child was heavily concentrating on the sound being played back for her to mimic.

Hermione stood in the shadows, watching Cara. The girl pressed ten keys at once with each finger, frustrated from her difficulties in playing the song correctly. She stared at it with glaring eyes as the piano blared an obnoxious multi-keyed tone, then, one at a time, she lifted up each finger. Her face softened. She began humming. A tune that Hermione could not decide if it was a happy or sad one.

The girl stopped humming and played each key on the piano one by one, searching for a specific note. She began humming again, but very slowly, matching her humming to the keys on the piano. And then she sang a verse,

"The wind, it howls through the treetops

A sound that I wish would forever stop

Because I want to play in the apple tree

But they say it is not safe for me"

And as she sang each word, she played a note on the piano. Her voice was beautiful, and while Hermione had never heard the song before, she was sure that the girl sang in tune. Hermione believed that Cara was that good.

Cara repeated the verse over and over, played each piano key over and over, memorizing how to play the song on it. The girl must had played it twenty times before she stopped abruptly in the middle of it and pushed the piano away harshly. She curled up into a ball and whimpered.

Hermione stepped into the room, and flicked on the overhead light with her wand, scaring Cara, and causing her to yelp out in surprise. She sat up and backed away toward the sofa, looking at first terrified, then in immense guilt.

"I'm sorry," Hermione said apologetically. "Are you okay, honey?" she asked. "You sounded so sad."

"I am sad," Cara said, her chin trembled. "The pozione didn't work!" she wailed. "It didn't work! And I want my Papa!"

Hermione went to Cara and sat down on the floor next to her. Cara climbed into her lap. "He can't come right now," Hermione told Cara softly. "I'm sorry."

Cara buried her head into Hermione's chest and sobbed noisily. An occasional, "It didn't work. I don't know why," could be heard from her as Hermione rocked her back and forth to soothe her.

"It'll be okay," Hermione said gently, rubbing her back.

"Can you sing to me, Hermione?" Cara's tiny voice asked. She sniffed wetly and then wiped her nose on Hermione's night shirt. Hermione didn't even flinch at the mucus.

"I sure can, sweety." Hermione brushed Cara's loose hair from her face and wiped her tears from it. She sang some Muggle songs, assuming that the girl hadn't heard any of them before.

"Sing the sun one again," Cara requested. "I like that one."

"Oh, Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

Please shine down on me

Oh, Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

Hiding behind the tree

Oh these little children are asking you

To please come out so they can play with you

Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun,

Please shine down on me!

Oh shine, shine, shine, shine your light on me

Hey, hey now! Shine, shine, shine

Oh, you make me so happy!

Oh, Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

Please shine down on me!"

With a tired voice, Cara joined in on the last verse. She yawned. "Thank you," she said under her breath. She smiled and her eyes fluttered close.

Hermione continued to sing to her, rocking her gently to sleep.

"What happened?" Draco's voice cut into her singing a while later.

Hermione lifted her head up from where it had been set on Cara's. He was nearing them with Scorpius in his arms. Neither had been dressed, making Hermione note that it still was an ungodly hour of the day.

She looked down at the sleeping Cara and smiled a little. "I think she had a nightmare. She kept saying that the potion didn't work. She asked for Zabini. I found her here playing with the piano—" Hermione gently tossed her head toward the toy. "—trying to learn how to play a song on it. She did incredibly well. I may even classify her a genius at it."

Draco studied Cara for a moment with a blank expression before he bent down and tapped the miniature piano with his wand, turning it off. He then sat next to Hermione and adjusted Scorpius into a comfortable sitting position. "I woke up to this little chomper sniveling," he informed, taking the baby's hand and shaking it. "Seems like she's not the only one having a rough night. The other two are soundless though." He shook his head. "Amazing those two," he murmured. "I now understand Blaise's mild lack of concern for them."

"They seem very close," Hermione said, speaking about Elenore and Cinzia. "But did you notice they often leave Cara out of their playing?"

"I'm sure Elenore is not doing it on purpose, she's so young, she might not realize it's happening. She and Cara do get along okay." Draco defended. He frowned. "My mother had two sisters, I wonder if she can help me..."

"It was Mrs. Tonks that was the middle child and was often left out. Maybe it is she who could relate to Cara better."

"Hmm," Draco mused. "Good point. You better talk to her."

"And why me?"

"Because you're in contact with her," he told her bluntly. "I've not even met the woman."

"She's your aunt though—"

"I'm not going to do it," Draco said, his tone unchanging.

"Not even to help your sweet, innocent goddaughter who needs your help?" Hermione poked out her bottom lip in a pathetic pout and hugged Cara close to her, putting on the most sickening sad face she could come up with.

Draco sighed. "You're a mess, Hermione, and you have no limits." He leaned over to kiss her cheek. "Nonetheless—" He sighed again, this time heavily. "If it'll help little Cara here—"

"Great!" Hermione whispered to keep her voice down, not wanting to wake up Cara.

"Noktah!" Scorpius said and patted at Cara's arm.

Draco took Scorpius's hand, removing it from Cara. "Yes, she's sleeping, so no touching. Let her rest."

Scorpius closed his eyes and threw himself back against his father's chest, tucking up into Draco's arms. He yawned. "Noktah," he said sleepily.

"I thought he was hungry and so I went looking for you," Draco told Hermione. "Now I just think he wanted me to carry him around." He chuckled.

"Maybe he feels a little left out," Hermione guessed, and set a free hand to the back of her now sleeping son. "Things have changed over night for him. He's used to our undivided attention."

Draco carefully tossed back his head, looking up at the ceiling helplessly. "How am I supposed to manage all these kids at once?!"

"Mrs. Weasley succeeded well," she said, giving him a grin. "You aren't going to let a Weasley out do you, are you?"

He snorted. "How did you become so manipulative?"

She shrugged. "From observation, I guess..."

"You've turned into a warm-blooded snake," he teased wickedly. "I like that."

"Warm-blooded? But snakes aren't—"

"You're too lovely to be a cold-blooded one," Draco said dryly, carefully getting up as to not disturb Scorpius. "Shall we trade? I'll carry Cara back up to her bed."

They struggled a little with the exchange, but eventually, Draco held Cara in his arms, and Scorpius was in Hermione's; both of little ones were still asleep.

"Let's go back to bed," Draco said through a yawn, and noxed out the light without a using a wand.

In their bed, after Scorpius and Cara were set back in their own, Draco settled himself close to Hermione, tugging the sleeve of her night shirt off her shoulder, and kissing the bare skin. "You are so lovely," he murmured against her.

Hermione didn't know if he was trying to get frisky, but she wasn't in the mood for that at the moment, so she took his arms and linked them at her waist. "Go to sleep, Draco. We'll need it."

He pressed his nose into her mess of hair, breathing in her scent. "You're right, love. I was only expressing how wonderful you are." And it wasn't long before they both drifted to back to sleep, each with a smile on their face.

"Why doesn't you have a house-elf to cook?" Cara asked when she had entered the kitchen to Hermione finishing up making breakfast a few hours later.

"House-elves are not our slaves, Cara," Hermione answered firmly. One day, she imagined, she wouldn't have to constantly explain this to people. That was her goal anyway.

"And people say you're weird," Hermione heard Cinzia whisper to her sister.

"I'm diff'rent!" Cara wailed. "Not weird! Papa says so!"

"Mama says Papa's weird," Cinzia countered.

"He is not! You only say that 'cause you hate him!"

"I do not!" Cinzia spat back. "I love him more than you!"

"NO!" Cara screamed.

"Stop it, you two," Hermione ordered. "No more of that!"

"Are you girls at it again?" Draco came into the kitchen with Scorpius at his hip. Hermione noted with a smile that the two males were dress in the same outfit again. She laughed quietly to herself, picturing herself buying a set of lion pajamas and somehow conning Draco into wearing them so she could watch father and son crawl around on the ground roaring at each other.

She might be able to get Draco to do it. Maybe— if he possessed the ClickCap first, so she had no way of recording the event.

"Would you act this way at home?" Draco asked the girls, depositing Scorpius into his baby chair.

"No, Mama wouldn't wet us," Elenore confessed, causing her elder sisters to become very quiet.

Hermione sent platefuls of food to the table. Eggs, bacon, toast, fruits, yogurt, and more.

"What's this?" Cara held up a piece of bacon, giving it a look of disgust. She cautiously sniffed at it.

"That's bacon," Hermione told her, sitting down between Elenore and Scorpius, to feed the latter his breakfast. This morning he was having apple and cherry puree.

Cara dropped it dramatically back onto her plate and wiped her hand delicately with her napkin to rid her fingers of the residue from the meat.

"It's good!" Elenore said happily with her mouth full of a bite of it.

"Mama says it's bad," Cinzia reminded her in a hushed tone, as if she were going to get punished just for saying it. Elenore stopped her chewing and spat it out on top of her eggs.

"Bacon is bad?" Draco had been spreading jelly onto a piece of wheat toast, only to have paused to ask the question. He sent Cinzia a look of disbelief. "That's nonsense!"

"It isn't! Mama said so!" Cinzia argued.

Hermione cleared her throat, sending Draco a look. He didn't need to be saying things like that about their mother. Draco mocked her by clearing his own throat and rolling his eyes.

"Why does your mama say it's bad?" Hermione asked, ignoring Draco's childish behavior.

"Bacon makes you fat," Cara answered in a matter of fact.

"I don't remember you having any regrets from the ice cream you had for dinner last night," Draco spoke up, purposely not looking at any of them, focusing more on his breakfast. "I'm sure she would be against that too."

But that was Hermione's least concern. To have your children worry about gaining weight was quite absurd!

Elenore had gasped and was looking around wide eyed.

"Ice cream is good for you," Cinzia said to relax her sister. She sprinkled a handful of almonds on her yogurt, then added a blob of jam to it and mixed it all together. "It has lots of milk in it."

Draco shrugged, obviously agreeing with her. "Still high in fat, though."

"And sugar," Hermione added, wiping at Scorpius's face with the spoon. He tried grabbing at it, but Hermione knew if he was given it, he would just want to suck on it, rather than eat.

"Tadee!" Scorpius wailed in frustration. "Mina!" He then smacked the tray to his chair in protest.

"Scorpius, behave," Draco scolded. "You're not getting the spoon."

The baby then wailed unhappily, pushing away the spoon that Hermione held out to him to eat off of.

"You're going to be a grumpy poo today, aren't you?" Hermione cooed at him.

"Dah!" He pointed to Cara's scrambled eggs.

"Aren't you going to eat, Cara?" Hermione asked after noticing that she hadn't even taken a bite from anything off her plate.

"I'm not hungry," she muttered.

"I'll have your yogurt then!" Cinzia reached over Cara's plate, snatched up the cup of yogurt, and set it on her own plate.

"Hey!" Cara shrieked. "That's mine, Cinny!"

"You said you weren't hungry," Cinzia said, without a care in the world, quickly adding it to her own yogurt.

"There's more anyway," Draco informed simply, dipping his toast in his yogurt. "It's not like there's a sudden shortage of it."

"Do you want some then?" Hermione asked Cara.

"No..." The girl bent her head down and crossed her arms. "I'm not hungry. I don't want anything."

"Is it because your mother is coming over today?"

Draco had announced earlier that Marietta would be coming over to visit with the girls. Elenore and Cinzia had expressed excitement. Cara hadn't said much about it though, puzzling Hermione. But Draco had warned her that Cara would act quite strange in comparison to the average child her age, so she had shrugged the lack of reaction off.

"I just don't feel good," Cara whined softly. "Can I go back to bed?" she pleaded.

"If that's what you want..." Draco said slowly. The corners of his mouth sank down to a frown. "Why don't you take a banana with you, alright? Maybe you'll get hungry later." He handed her one as she passed. "Perhaps she's coming down with something," Draco figured out loud when the girl had left the room. "It's that time of year, afterall."

"Maybe," Hermione mildly agreed. There was a tiny, quiet voice in her head that was telling her differently though.

*/*

"Oh, you should take Scorpius with you," Hermione suggested as Draco was readying himself to Floo so he could talk to his aunt. "Teddy should be there today. He and Scorpius get along very well. Teddy loves the little children."

"Are you sure you'll be okay?" He had been asking the question over and over in deep concern, since he felt bad about leaving her alone with the girls. He absently took Scorpius who she held out for him, and waited for her to answer.

"I will!" she promised him, kissing his unsmiling lips. "Do something with Scorpius when you finish at Mrs. Tonks, alright? Show him that these girls won't take his derbla away." She gave Scorpius a gentle head rub and then kissed his cheek.

"Soddah, Mina!" the baby shrieked out happily, waving his hand at her.

"Love you both."

Draco's face didn't relax. His eyes darted to the door that lead out of the flooing room and into the hall. One of the girls was shouting. "I don't think I should go—"

Hermione pushed him to the fireplace. "You're underestimating my child caring skills!"

She finally earned a smile from him. "I suppose you're right." He leaned toward her and pressed his lips to hers, giving her a timely kiss. "I'll miss you while I'm out," he said quietly when he was finished. He traced her lips with his thumb, looking her in the eye with pure passion.

She closed her eyes, relishing his touch. "I'll miss you too, Draco. Be safe."

He grunted amusingly. "I always am." He glanced back toward the sound of the girls' fighting. "Enjoy." He gave her a teasing smirk before ducking into the floo.

"You owe me." She pointed a finger at him, scolding him playfully.

"I really do," Draco agreed with a wide grin, and with a flash of blue, he was gone.

By the time Hermione had gotten to the girls to break up their fighting, Cara was crying and dramatically stomping around the bedroom that the girls had been given to share. She was dragging a dress around the room as she "walked".

"What's wrong now?" Hermione asked exasperatedly. She wouldn't bet that these girls could be ten minutes together without a fight breaking loose.

"Cinzia threw my dress it the dirty hamper!"

"It was on the floor— dirty clothing goes in the dirty hamper!"

"But it was not dirty!"

"Was so!"

"NO!" Cara screamed and threw herself onto the floor, kicking her feet. "It wasn't! It wasn't!"

"Cinzia, why don't you take Elenore to the playroom? In a few minutes, maybe we can all have a tea party."

"You'll pway wiff us?" Elenore asked surprised.

"I might be able to, yes. But first I want to talk with Cara, alright?"

"Otay!" Elenore followed Cinzia out of the room.

"Cara, I will have your dress washed today—"

"I wanted to wear it today!" Cara stressed, clutching the dress to her chest.

"Sweety," Hermione addressed her softly, and lowered herself to the floor so she could walk on her knees to Cara. "You wore that yesterday, remember? It needs to be washed now, otherwise you'll not smell very good."

Cara took a sniff at it. "It smells okay," she insisted.

"But it's still dirty, how about we find something else for you to wear while I have it washed."

Cara looked at her dress longingly. Finally, she held it out for Hermione, and took in a deep breath. "Okay..." she reluctantly agreed. "But I don't like waiting!" she added with narrow eyes.

"Yes, waiting is for the pits!" Hermione agreed. "Sometimes, we have to though."

Cara nodded. "Yeah, sometimes we have to."

Hermione sent the dress down to the wash room where she knew Toogy would get an announcement that there was something to clean. There were some things she'd let Draco's house-elf do. And since she couldn't leave the girls alone for a moment, she thought it would be okay for Toogy to clean the dress. She would just have to remember to thank her when Toogy would next come up to her.

Hermione cast a quick cleaning spell on their hands and then helped Cara find something to dress in, selecting a yellow skirt, and a blue turtle-neck shirt. "Now we can play tea party with your sisters," Hermione told her happily.

"Okay!" Cara was excited for that.

The party went alright. It could have gone better. Hermione had served up real tea and biscuits to make it more realistic. There were a few issues, like Cinzia rudely pointing out to Cara that she was holding the teacup incorrectly. This had made Cara mad, and she slammed her cup into the plate holding her biscuits. Tea had slopped over, making her treats soggy and gross. Cara demanded for new ones to which Cinzia had called her a little baby for it.

By lunch time, Hermione was ready to rip her hair out. They literally fought about everything, often putting their younger sister into the mix, and most of the time, that didn't end well for Cara. Draco was right, Elenore didn't seem to exclude Cara on purpose, Cinzia was just better at getting the toddler to side with her.

Not always though, to Hermione's relief.

"Cara, we're trying to work on a puzzle," Cinzia said with annoyance, throwing down the piece she had been trying to fit in a spot. "Stop playing that piano! It's bothering me!"

Cara spat her tongue out, pausing her playing just long enough to do it. "Go tell Mama on me then!"

"She's not here! Remember?"

"Wells, Hermione doesn't mind me playing. So tough for you, Cinzia! Ha!"

"Hermione!" Cinzia whined out. "Tell her to stop!"

Hermione rubbed her aching head. She was beginning to understand why Zabini and Marietta drank themselves into a stupor. As wrong as it was, she was craving for a drink herself.

"She's doing nothing bad, Cinzia." Hermione didn't mind the music as much as Cinzia did.

"But she's bad! A very bad player!"

"No, honey, Cara plays beautifully," Hermione corrected her firmly. Cara gave Hermione a smile of gratitude.

"Yes!" Elenore chimed. "I wikes Cara's music pwaying too! Pweety!"

Cinzia rolled her eyes and went back to the puzzle she and Elenore were working on.

"Listen, Hermione!" Cara said, drawing Hermione's attention to her. She played the verse that Hermione had heard her playing very early that morning about the apple tree.

"Very good, Cara." Hermione clapped.

"I gots more to the song! Want to hear?!"

"I would like that very much."

"That's Papa's song," Cinzia said. "Not yours."

"But I'm playing it on the piano, Cinny, so stai zitto!"

"No you, stai zitto!"

"Be nice," Hermione cut in. "Cara has been working very hard to play the song on the piano. It's a lovely song, and I'd like to hear it."

"We sing it!" Elenore stood up from the area on the floor where the puzzle was, abandoning it.

"Yeah!" Cara said. "We can sing it to Hermione! Come on, Cinny. You can too!"

"I don't want to!" Cinny crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at the piano.

"Fine. Nora and I will sing it then."

"The wind, it howls through the treetops

A sound that I wish would forever stop

Because I want to play in the apple tree

But they say it is not safe for me

The highest branch is far too high

It is enough to make me want to cry

Because I want to play in the apple tree

But they say it is not safe for me

Under the tree I must sit

Reading a book, unable to forget

That I want to play in the apple tree

But they say it is not safe for me

I will learn one day later in my life

One year, two, three, or even five

That they said it was not safe for me to play in the apple tree

But the apple that fell onto my head ... That was lots of agony!"

The singing girls ended the song in giggles, and Hermione laughed with them. Cinzia had returned to the puzzle, not paying them any attention, unaffected by the lyrics.

"That's a very cute song."

"It's Papa's song," Elenore informed.

"He says he came up with it when he was a little boy!" Cara said.

Zabini, a song writer. Hermione was amused by the information. "Does he have any more songs?"

"He has wotts!" Elenora exclaimed.

"But he doesn't sing them to us very much..." Cara said quietly.

Hermione noticed the sudden change in mood with the girls. Elenore silently returned to Cinzia at the puzzle. "Why not?" Hermione asked in mild interest.

"'Cause Mama doesn't wike it," Elenore explained.

Cara busied herself back at the piano, tapping at keys. It was eerily quiet after that, except for Cara's piano playing, disturbing Hermione down to the core.

Hermione didn't understand. From what she saw, Zabini didn't care what his wife liked or disliked. Why would that stop him from singing to his little girls? Hermione's opinion certainly wouldn't stop Draco if he wanted to do something that she didn't care for.

"Miss Hermione." Toogy cracked in, stopping herself from bowing.

"Oh, hello, Toogy. Have you noticed the laundry?"

"Oh, yes, Miss, and little Cara's dress is completely washed, but that is not why I have come here, Miss."

"Thank you so much, Toogy; what is it you wish to say?"

"Mrs. Zabini is here, Miss. Master has said to Toogy to expect her."

"Yay, Mama!" Elenore hopped up from the floor and ran out of the room. Cinzia hurried after her.

"Thank you, Toogy. I got it from here."

"Thank you, Miss Hermione." The elf was itching to bow, but she knew Hermione disapproved of it. She smiled kindly up at the witch before popping away.

"Your Mama is here!" Hermione told Cara, who hadn't followed her sisters.

"Yes. Do you has my pozione?" Cara stood anxiously in front of Hermione.

Hermione checked her watch, noticing that Cara was on the dot, asking for the potion. "I do," she said, handing it to her.

Cara sipped it slowly, an unusual thing for her to do. She then took Hermione's hand and they went to the Flooing room where Marietta was kneeling down at Elenore and Cinzia, hugging them. "Are you behaving yourselves?" she was asking. "You're not causing Draco any problems, are you?"

"Si, Mama," Cinzia said automatically.

"We is good, Mama!" Elenore assured her.

"Good," Marietta said approvingly, and kissed them each on the top of their heads.

Hermione released Cara so she could run to her mother. Marietta hugged her tightly, groaning happily. "I missed you, Cara, my darling."

"Anch'io, Mama," Cara murmured, sniffing.

"You are being good, bambina?"

"I try, Mama," Cara answered honestly. "It is hard."

"Have you been colouring in the books Mama packed for you?"

Cara pulled away and gave a quick nod.

"We've been having fun with Scorpius's toys, Mama," Cinzia said. "He has lots of fun toys."

"And books!" Elenore added.

"Mama brought over some more things for you. Draco mentioned that you wanted to play with your dolls." One by one, Marietta pulled out three dolls, one for each of them.

"Thank you, Mama," the girls said in unison, taking them from her.

"And I also brought you some more books."

"I'll put those away, Mama," Cara offered, giving Hermione her doll so she could take the stack of books from Marietta.

"You're such a good girl, Cara. Thank you," her mother proudly cooed.

"I suppose we can all go back down to the playroom," Hermione said after Cara had exited the room with the books.

"Do you want to colour in your new books?" Marietta asked with a smile.

"Yes! Mama, will you cowour wiff us?" Elenore asked hopefully.

"That's what I came here to do, Nora." Marietta fingered Elenore's braid that Hermione had done earlier. "And Mama will properly redo your hair, too." she announced.

"Mine too, Mama?" Cinzia practically pleaded. To Hermione's gratitude, Cinzia left out that she had complained a little when Hermione hadn't done as good as her mother could do.

Marietta nodded an answer. "And Cara's too." She looked at Hermione, flashing her a cold smile. "Don't worry, I completely understand. I was horrible at first too. I've had plenty of practice though." She looked back down at her daughters. "Obviously," Marietta added in the tiniest bit of smugness to her voice.

"Yes, obviously so," Hermione echoed, forcing herself to remain friendly. Marietta was here to see the children, and Hermione was only here as a supervisor— judging by the way Marietta was acting toward Hermione, she not happy about it.

That wasn't Hermione's problem though. These girls wouldn't of had to be here if Marietta had done the right thing before action had to be taken for the safety of the girls.

Hermione sat in the back of the playroom, out of the way, while Marietta dressed Cinzia and Elenore's hair up perfectly. Hermione suppressed her bitterness over the scene,constantly being reminded that she was a horrible hairdresser. How cruel of Marietta to have pointed out Hermione's faults. Especially in front of the children.

They all went to colouring after their hair was done. Hermione had been so absorbed in her angered thoughts, that it was a while before she noticed Cara had yet to join her sisters and mother. By then, Marietta was announcing that she had to leave.

"Hmm, where did Cara go?" Marietta said, after she had kissed her two present daughters a goodbye.

"Maybe she went to da baffroom!"

"Ah, yes, that's probably it," Marietta said absently. "Call up Draco's house elf to alert Cara of my leaving, would you?" she directed at Hermione.

"I do not order Toogy around, Marietta," Hermione told her irritably. "She is not my elf."

"Oh that's right, you're the one that refuses the elves' work." Marietta shook her head. "It's no wonder you have problems."

Hermione raised her eyebrows, shocked by the comment. "Problems? What do you mean by that?"

"You look a mess! You should have kept that elf around. I'll have to talk to Draco about it."

"Excuse me?" Could this woman shock Hermione any furthermore?

Marietta studied her for a moment. She bent down and grabbed her bag that had been placed at her feet while she was colouring. "If you want to try the whole housewife mess with your family, that's your thing, but while you have my daughters, I would prefer you devote your time to them over housework duties."

Hermione's lips thinned. "Toogy?" she called out. A split second later, Draco's loyal elf appeared.

"Oh, Miss has called for Toogy!" the elf squeaked happily. "What can Toogy doos for Miss?"

"Please let Cara know that her mother is leaving, and that she needs to say goodbye." She had major difficulty with keeping her cool as she spoke.

"Toogy will, Miss Hermione."

"Thank you very much."

Marietta's nose scrunched up. "Strange elf."

"Not all elves like barking-mad masters," Hermione calmly lectured.

"So," Marietta said cheerily, turning back to her quiet daughters. "I love you so much! Mama is going to miss you!"

"Ti amo, Mama!" Cinzia said, squeezing her mother tightly in a hug. Elenore copied her sister.

"Remember to behave," Marietta said sternly. "Stay out of trouble, okay?"

"Okay."

"Mama?" Cara called quietly from the door, and ran to her when Marietta opened her arms to her.

"Ti amo, Cara."

"Ti amo." Cara whispered into her mother's chest.

"Hold on, let me fix your hair. It looks hideous."

"It looks okay, Mama," Cara told her.

"Nonsense, darling. Pretty girls need pretty hair." Marietta summoned up the hairbrush from her bag and expertly 'fixed' Cara's hair. She ignored Hermione the whole time and then went on her way, with the girls and Hermione following her to the floo.

"Stay safe," Hermione wished Marietta when she had ducked into the floo. Deep down, she wanted to throttle the woman for what she had implied of Hermione.

Marietta gave her a curt nod. A moment later, the blue flames engulfed her, and took her away.

Something was becoming clear to Hermione every time she had the 'pleasure' in seeing Marietta Zabini.

She is an extremely bitter and spiteful woman.

Chapter Text

Draco needed a moment to remember that the woman who just greeted him was not the same crazy, Death Eater woman that would give him nightmares from time to time.

Andromeda Tonks, the aunt that he had been raised to only acknowledge as a blood traitor, looked so eerily like Aunt Bellatrix. There was no denying that they came from the same gene pool. They could have nearly been twins— on a first glance.

On the second one though, Draco's heartbeat slowed with a flush of relief. Andromeda's eyes were much softer and friendlier. He instantly regretted not knowing her all this time. He didn't know many people who had such kind eyes like hers. All the more, since she was looking at him so kindly. Her own sister had shunned her, practically wished death on her for marrying a Muggleborn, and Andromeda gave him no look of judgement for it. She was looking at him like she had known him since the day he was born, and not as some Born-to-be-Death Eater, but perhaps instead, if Draco wasn't mistaking this, as a member of her family.

He hadn't expected this.

They said a quick hello and then she gestured Draco inside the home. She used an exterior door to enter her home like the Potters did for most of their guests. Draco guessed it was done because her former husband had been a Muggleborn; those born as magical children used magical entries to go into a building.

The tiny home was house-elf clean. Draco saw not a speck of dust in sight. He didn't think Andromeda had a house-elf. She had not inherited anything from her family, and by the size of the home, Ted Tonks had been no bread winner.

He was afraid to put Scorpius down on the clean carpet, where the infant would easily create a mess.

"He can crawl around," Andromeda said about the squirming Scorpius. "No sense in keeping his energy all bottled up. I'm sure he'd be dreadful by dinner time if that were allowed."

"May I play with Scorpius, Gram?" Teddy had joined them, waiting patiently, all the while smiling at the baby. He had what looked to be a Muggle toy automobile in his hands. A metal wire stuck straight out of it. Draco knew this to be an antenna.

"I'm sure Scorpius would love that. Let them play, Draco. Teddy plays nicely with the little ones. You have no need to worry about him."

"Actually," Draco said slowly. "I'm more concerned of the mess my son will do to your spotless home." He didn't add his thought of, 'Since you have no house-elf to clean up after him.'

Andromeda laughed. "Is that all? I've had a whole house full of children in the past! There isn't a stain that I have had any trouble lifting! Well, except for a Dilitter's stains," she added after a thought, "but I've never had one in my home— thankfully!"

Draco set Scorpius down at his feet. His son began following the friendly Teddy, as the latter boy promised to show him all sorts of neat toys that he probably had never seen before.

"Me neither," Draco spoke about the Dilitter (a fluffy ball of a creature that went to one home after another, "vacuuming" up litter. If touched though, they would spray you with a foul smelling ink). "Are the stains as bad as I hear?"

"Oh, worse. Much worse." Andromeda summoned up a tea tray and offered him a cup. "And the smell is indescribable", she said, crinkling up her nose.

"Thank you," he said politely, taking the cup. He added a dash of milk in it— the only ingredient he ever used in his tea.

"So," she prompted him to start the explanation of Blaise's girls. She already knew some of the troubles Blaise and Marietta were going through, as it had been briefly mentioned in the news (since everything else had been so dull lately).

Draco explained in detail each girl's personality, and what they fought over. That it was really the two eldest girls who fought, and it didn't matter what it was over, they just fought. A lot. "They would probably fight over a dirty napkin, if they had nothing else to fight over. We're at a loss. Especially with Cara. We don't want her feeling left out, but we also don't want the others thinking we favour her. Did you ever feel this way when you were young— before your family disowned you?"

"My sisters and I got along as well as any group of siblings do. We loved each other, looked out for each other, and sometimes, we would even lie to our Mother and Father to avoid getting the others in trouble. There were times, as with any family, that things were unfair though. Narcissa was the youngest, so Bellatrix and I were often at fault when she got herself into trouble. Narcissa could absolutely do no wrong. Bellatrix, being the eldest, was such a bossy sister, and often bullied us into things. Once, she conned me out of my beautiful yellow, glittery dress—" Andromeda sighed at the thought of it. "I wanted it back shortly after, because Bellatrix had an issue with returning things that weren't hers, but since everyone thought she wore it better, Mother told me to just let her have it. 'You obviously did not mind her having it before, why bother with it now,' Mother had told me. I did get a better dress after that, but that was besides the point, she got her way. Bellatrix was a suck up, earning her status of being everyone's favourite. If she wanted something, she always got it. As for myself, I had always been the odd one. I don't remember feeling that I had to try to be different for the added attention. Being different than the norm had just came easily for me. I could almost swear that my parents knew I was going to disappoint them though. Each day that got nearer to my betrayal, we grew further apart. Maybe I changed as I hit my teens. I didn't notice it though, and after I became friends with Ted, I didn't care what happened. He treated me better than anyone had at that point."

"As far as I know, Blaise's daughters don't have to worry about being disowned from the family. This parenting thing is new to me, very new. Scorpius is my only child. Now I've just been given three girls to look after, and somehow keep them from killing each other."

"If I were in your shoes, Draco, I would set a time of day where you do something fun with all three of them— Scorpius too, we don't want him feeling left out either— and anytime one insults the other, correct it, with a positive note about the sister that is being attacked. Children learn by example, if you and Hermione set that example, they will adhere to it. And whatever you do, do not have any cross conversations with Hermione in front of them. We will probably agree that it was their home life that influenced their fighting of each other. By this, I mean their cruel fighting. I've seen siblings of parents who get along very well fight. It is nothing like you've described to me. Your goddaughters' fighting is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.."

Draco agreed. "It's awful, and I'm sure I haven't seen the worst."

"You likely haven't."

Draco spent another hour visiting his with aunt. He found he enjoyed her company, and was somewhat disappointed with himself that he had not made an effort to meet her before. He made note to invite her over for dinner sometime.

And perhaps he could get his mother to make up with Andromeda. Now that the Pureblood nonsense was nipped in the bud, he saw no reason for the sisters to not talk to each other. Mother would probably enjoy talking with her once sister.

"I really liked talking with you, Draco. You have grown up to be a terrific young man."

"Thank you," he said standing up from the chair he had been sitting in. "I enjoyed it myself. We should do this again."

She nodded. "We should." She then called on Teddy, letting him know that it was time for Scorpius to go.

Teddy came into the room, short purple hair and all, carrying Scorpius at the front of him, struggling all the way, with his tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth.

"He likes the RC monster truck, Mr. Malfoy. Can he have mine?"

"Oh, Teddy, you need to stop giving your toys away!" Andromeda scolded.

Draco laughed and picked his son up into his arms. "Teddy, I'll buy Scorpius his own, then the next time you see each other, you can play with them together."

"That sounds great!" Teddy cheered. His hair faded to a bright yellow. "Thanks, Mr. Malfoy!"

"You should just call me Draco, Teddy. It'll make things easier. On both of us."

"Okay!"

Andromeda beamed at Draco. Tears prickled her eyes. Draco gave her an uncomfortable smile. He hadn't meant to turn the woman into a sap by his comment.

Women were much too emotional for him.

"Let me hug you, young man!" Andromeda said hastily, pulling at Draco's arm, giving him no choice in the matter. He went stiff, but his son laughed happily. Probably from Draco's reaction. Scorpius was evil like that, easily entertained by his father's uneasiness.

"Don't be a stranger, alright?" She then quickly pecked his cheek, making him clear his throat. The only time his other aunt had shown him such affection was when she was trying to get him to do something terrible(or after he had done something terrible).

Like the Dark Lord had done.

He shuddered, snagging Andromeda's attention. "Keep warm," she instructed, confusing his shudder with being cold. "You must remain healthy to care for all those darling little children."

Draco gave her a weak smile. Four kids. Four. How he managed yesterday and this morning, he'd never know. Hermione had been such a great help though. She was a terrific mother.

"Thank you again," he told Andromeda and they said their goodbyes.

"Well, Chomper," Draco said, adjusting him at his hip when the door to her home had shut them out. "We have the rest of the day to ourselves, what should we do first?"

"Mina!" Scorpius answered.

"Exactly my thought too." Draco was proud of his son of nearly seven months. He was a lucky man. A very lucky man. When it came to his family, at least.

"Ah, Mr. Malfoy," Mr. Tallistail greeted him when he came into the shop. He quickly forgot about the couple who he had just been lingering over, and went to help Draco instead. No doubt because of Draco's well known pockets of wealth.

"No," Draco said to him. "You finish with them first. I want to look at your ruby collection."

He went straight to the showcase, scanning his eyes over the abundance of jewelry that would look perfect against Hermione's fair skin. "Well, what do you think, son?" he asked Scorpius and held the boy over the case so he could look. Hermione would love to know that Scorpius helped to pick out this piece of jewelry. "Which one do you think Mumma would like?"

Scorpius took his time admiring the pretty pieces of gems. "Gahk!" He finally pointed to a silver ring with pink gems encrusted around the band in the case next to them.

"Hmm. That's a pretty cheap piece of work," Draco advised his son. "Those are not even real pearls."

"Gahk, Derblah!" Scorpius insisted.

"But it's fake, son," Draco argued gently.

Scorpius's eyebrows wrinkled. "Mina, gahk! Mina, gahk!"

Draco eyed the ring over in mild disgust. He shook his head, almost laughing. He should know better with Hermione. When it came to her, it didn't matter what he got for her, as long as there was thought put into it.

. . .

It would look good against her feminine, sleek finger. He pictured himself sensually kissing her hand after putting it on her. She then would hug him, breathlessly tell him it was beautiful, and that she loved it. She would kiss him, which could ultimately lead to a more physical touch.

She would like this ring much more than the necklace he had gotten her. Even if it was 1543 Galleons cheaper.

Hermione was so simple. Draco was beginning to love that about her. He had little trouble pleasing her. Unlike the other girlfriends he had had in the past who had been so hard to make content— not that he had cared if they were happy. They had been only his girlfriends for one reason only. Nothing like Hermione was to him. She was so much different than the others. Hermione didn't ask much of him. She only wanted his support. And obviously not a financial one. Moral support was all she needed of him. Someone to be there for her and for their son.

"Scorpius," Draco murmured to his son. "You're absolutely right. She would really love this. You are the most brilliant son a man can ever have!"

"Dahs!" Scorpius concurred, excitedly bouncing in his father's arms. "Hadoowah!"

After buying the ring, and safely storing it in a pocket of his robes, Draco decided that it was time to get Scorpius something too. He knew where he could go to get it, and had to change into the appropriate wear so he wouldn't get any strange looks from the Muggles. He transfigured his robes into a fancy suit that looked as Muggle as he could picture. Something he had seen the rich movie star actors wear during their talk show interviews. The suit should be suffice enough, he thought, even if he'd look a bit too abnormal in comparison to poorer people. But he was a Malfoy, he was not going to wear anything that would say he was average..

Draco just wasn't quite sure what a 'monster' truck was. He had an idea, but didn't want to goof this up. Thankfully, the 'sales associate' at the Muggle toy store he went to was very helpful.

"A monster truck, huh? For the babe?"

"Aye, his cousin introduced him to it, and now I think it would be swell for him to have one also."

"You've come to the right place, chap!" The short blonde haired woman was a bubbly one, chewing obnoxiously on a piece of bubble gum, cracking it in her mouth every so often as they walked to the middle aisles of the enormous toy store.

"Here we are!" She spread her arms out toward the shelf of big wheeled trucks. "Any particular brand you looking for?"

Draco scratched his head. There were hoards of different kinds. Small ones. Big ones. Monstrous ones. "Um." He stopped to think. "I'm looking for one with an antennae."

"Oh, a RC one! Gotcha!" She immediately turned on her heel, and Draco had to rush after her as she took off quickly back out of the aisle. "These shall do it!" she said when she rounded the corner to an end cap.

"Which is the best?" Draco doubted she would be honest, but he sincerely had no clue. Maybe he should had done this differently. He should had asked to see if Teddy could come along to help. Kids knew best when it came to these things.

"Well, Traxxas is the best we have, but they are fairly pricy—"

"The cost is not a concern, I can assure you that."

The woman smiled, realizing how much money she would be making with this customer. "Then I suggest the Stampede." She bent down a little and removed one of the trucks off the shelf. "This is Traxxas's newest model of it."

Draco clicked his tongue undecidedly. "You wouldn't have a blue painted one, would you?"

"Hmm." The woman frowned in thought, glancing over the products. "How about I go look in back. Maybe there's one back there."

"That would be great."

"Dassah!" Scorpius patted Draco's shoulder for his attention.

"Are you hungry?"

Scorpius shook his head, dismissing the question. "Boogah!" He pointed high up behind Draco.

Draco looked to where he was pointing, and his mouth went at a gap. "Wicked," he said under his breath, walking toward the sight. Up on a stand was a monster truck fit for a small child to ride in (or drive, Draco wasn't sure which). The wheels looked like it would spit mud everywhere. Draco hadn't been a fan of Muggle trucks before now, but suddenly— and this could have been because of Scorpius's interest in the 'beast'— Draco found it to be fascinating. He wanted to get that miniature monster truck for his son to play in.

Then he got an idea. A great one. An idea that made him smile. His brilliance never failed him.

"I'll take two of those too," he announced, tossing his head up at the monster truck when the woman had returned joyously with the blue Traxxas one he had requested.

"Anything else?" she asked with a raise of her eyebrows, obviously assessing over the cost of these items. In Galleons, his list already made up to over 700. Of course he couldn't use Galleons here, but he had Muggle money too, learning the conversation rates a few years ago when he had been exploring the Muggle world.

"Sure," Draco said after a quick thought. "Get me an assortment of those Traxxas monster trucks. I have a feeling I'll regret it if I only get one."

"All blue?"

"No, not on the others. Maybe a green and a yellow. And pink if you have that, but I doubt you—"

"We do," she cut him off with a wide grin, holding it up to show him.

"Excellent."

"Now, do note that your wife can't come back and demand a refund, sir," the sales associate said teasingly as she rang up everything at the register.

"I'm not married." Draco laughed. "And I'm not about to tell my girlfriend where I got these either! I've already broke through the spending budget she insists we keep. Oh, but she's silly! We don't need to budget!"

The woman nodded politely, and spoke a few cooing words to Scorpius. "Your daddy spoils you, doesn't he?"

"Dah!" Scorpius shyly hid his face in his father's shoulder.

"He's really cute. Looks just like you, mister."

"I'm told that a lot. Thank you," Draco told her, pocketing the change into his Muggle transfigured slacks. "Any chance that you deliver? I came here on foot."

"We sure do. If you're local, we can have it delivered tomorrow. It's too late in the day for it to be done today."

"That's quite alright," Draco said, pulling out a small paper card from his pocket. "Just send it here. A man named Belroe will take it for me, and he'll know what to do from there." It had the address to Belroe's Space, which was a business that wizards used to transport stuff to and from the Muggle world.

"How about a bite to eat?" Draco asked his son when they were finished with the toy store, making his way to the nearest "safe house" to use for apparating out of the eyes of the Muggles.

"Poat! Poat!"

Draco chuckled in amusement. "Mashed potatoes? Would you like any gravy with that?"

"Dahs!"

Draco apparated them to Dimple's Pub for an early dinner. He held his son in his lap and ordered up a meal with turkey, potatoes, and peas. They sipped a bottle of butterbeer through a straw that Draco had ordered while the food was being prepared.

He grunted and looked at the stool at the bar that Hermione had fallen out of that one night when they first slept together.

"Can't say I met your mother here," Draco told his son, as the memory replayed in his mind like it were yesterday. "I can say that our relationship started here though. The good one, I mean."

Scorpius licked his lips from the butterbeer, intently listening to his father speak.

"Oh, I thought she was great then too, as undeserving as I was of her. I'm different now from that day. Or at least your mother swears it." Draco shrugged.

"Doknah," Scorpius told him.

Draco hugged the baby close to him. "It's hard to remember how much things have changed since then and now. I used to be a terrible person in my youth. Now... well, even some of the war heroes are starting to think different of me."

His son sighed against him. "Blandee, Derblah."

"I know." Scorpius, in his own little language, was trying to make Draco feel better. His son considered him to be the best father out there. "I thank you, chomper." He kissed his head. "You've really saved me. I don't want you ever not believing any differently."

Scorpius hummed in delight, and then their meal was served. Draco smooshed the peas with his fork, making them edible for his son, then alternated between bites of food from Scorpius's mouth and his own. "You're still a messy eater though," Draco told his son, wiping off a bit of gravy from Scorpius's nose.

"Nasdah!" Scorpius wanted the fork.

"Nope, I'm still eating."

The baby whimpered with an unhappy protest.

"How about this then?" Draco fished Scorpius's chew toy from his pocket. "Good?" he asked when Scorpius eagerly took it into his mouth. Scorpius answered with a content smile in which Draco returned to him. Those smiles from his son really made his day. "You got a bit of drool there, son." Draco mopped at Scorpius's chin with a napkin.

Someone pulled out a chair across from Draco and sat down in it. "How are my daughters?" Blaise asked urgently. His eyes were baggy and bloodshot. His skin was paler than usual.

"Merlin," Draco muttered. "You look like you've been under the Cruciatus Curse for hours."

Blaise leaned forward, and set his elbows on the table, grasping fistfuls of his hair on either side of his head. "I feel like I've been," he grumbled. "Are they doing okay?" he asked about his daughters again.

"Yes, I suppose so, but good God, Blaise, I didn't know children could fight so much!"

"Fight?" Blaise lifted his head up to look at Draco in the eye. "They're fighting?" It didn't look like he believed it.

"They don't fight at home?"

"A little. Not enough to complain about it. I just thought all sisters fought some. That's what Tracy has told me anyway, she has one. What are they fighting about?"

"Everything. And I literally mean everything."

"Merlin... I'm sure they're just upset over what's happening. I don't blame them for a minute."

Dimple came by at that moment, setting a pitcher and a glass down for Blaise. "Thanks," Blaise acknowledged, and immediately started pouring himself a drink.

"A pleasure, Mr. Zabini."

"I'm sure he just clicks his heels when I walk in here," Blaise muttered jokingly after Dimple had returned to the bar. He took a long drink of the strong smelling, silvery liquid.

"Blaise, why are you drinking? Why aren't you at home, fixing things up with Marietta?"

Blaise's jaw tightened at his wife's name. "Is Cara taking her potion alright?"

"Don't avoid the subject, mate."

"You never asked how it's like..."

"How what's like?" Draco was somewhat confused, still thinking that Blaise should be home instead of here.

Blaise looked around the pub uneasily. They were in a relatively private space, as everyone preferred the seating nearest to the bar. Glasses were refilled the quickest there.

"To have this type of disorder," he answered Draco, once he deemed it safe enough to talk about it. "You also didn't ask exactly what the potion is. I would have figured, with you being a brewer, that you would be highly interested about it."

"I am," Draco admitted with a lift of his shoulder. "But I assumed you would explain when you were ready. You told me what to expect of Cara. I didn't need to know anything else, as long as she got what she needed."

Blaise leaned back into his chair, staring at his glass, and tapping the side of it with a finger. "Have you ever had a quick thought about doing something, only to decide just as quickly that it was a bad idea?"

Draco looked at his friend, puzzled with the question. "Perhaps? I'm sure we all have."

"As you're working on your Potion brewing, when it comes down to cutting something, or pouring something that just came off the fire, have you ever reminded yourself to be careful, as what you are doing is dangerous and could lead to something terrible to happen?"

"Like cuts and burns?"

Blaise gave a single nod.

"All the time," Draco told him. "Better to be safe."

"Ever thought of doing something to purposely harm yourself or others?"

Draco's teeth clamped together, his stomach turned sour, threatening to toss of the dinner he had just consumed. "I'm sure you know that I have. Why are you asking all this?"

Staring inexpressibly past Draco at the wall behind him, Blaise took a long drink of his liquor. "Picture what it would be like if you thought of those things and had absolutely no control in stopping yourself from doing any of it. And instead of protecting yourself, when it came to telling yourself to be careful, you did the exact opposite of what you should be doing, because the thought of harm is much more overpowering than preventing it."

The hair on the back of Draco's neck rose up. Blaise still wasn't looking at him. This was the second time in Draco's life that Blaise was freaking him out. This condition he had was a serious one. But why hadn't Draco noticed this before with Blaise? He had hung out with him plenty of times back in their school days, and Blaise had never been like this. Had the war mentally messed him up even further than his disorder could?

"Wait... what?" he asked for clarification.

"That's what it's like for us everyday, Draco," Blaise summed it up for him. "We have to fight with our minds— an actual battle with ourselves to not do the first exact thought that comes in our head. Without the help— without the potions, and the drinks—" He held up his glass, indicating it. "—we would do the first thing on our mind, acting one-hundred percent on impulse alone. Nothing more. It's almost like you're under the Imperius curse. The potion we take does allow us to process most of our thoughts before acting. But only on normal days, when we are not put through an abundance of stress. The potion isn't a miracle cure. Neither is the drinking, but it's a decent aid against the disorder."

Blaise stood up, stretching. "It is because of my disorder that I know Cara's mine."

Draco raised his eyebrows. "Why wouldn't she be yours?"

Blaise grunted, annoyed by the subject, even though he was the one to bring it up. "Why would any man think a child is not theirs?" he asked in a hushed voice.

"You think she cheated on you?"

Blaise's lips pressed together. "I don't think it, mate. I know it. I caught her with another man. With a Muggle," he whispered the last word like it were a vulgar one. "I denied Cara was mine at first. Then I noticed her strange behavior. It was then that I desperately wished the child wasn't mine..." He looked at the ground, putting his hand up to his mouth, covering it. He shook his head in disturbance. "She tested positive," he said through his hand. "It is supposed to be a rare disorder. Very rare. Once-in-a-lifetime kind of rare. I don't know why... don't know how she was able to get it... but the day after she was diagnosed, I made an appointment to prevent that from ever happening again. I didn't want any more children after that. Not if they would have such a chance of getting what I have."

"You got yourself neutered?" Draco mouthed silently in awe. "Like what they do to animals?" he asked in a dull whisper.

Blaise momentarily closed his eyes. "Yes," he whispered back.

"But only after Elenore was conceived?"

Draco watched Blaise's jaw clench. The man standing before him inhaled deeply. "When it comes to blood, Elenore isn't even mine..."

Draco went rigid at the news. "Are you sure—"

"Definitely. I'm constantly reminded about it, trust me. Every. Day."

"I don't understand... why don't you just leave your wife?"

"Ah, the million Galleon question." Blaise folded his arms across his chest. "I'm not willing to take the chance of not getting to see my children if we separated. She'll dangle them in front of me like a worm on a fishhook. She'll mess with us all. They don't need to go through that. And, to be frank, I don't want to be put through that. I'm a good father, and I am not going to be removed from their lives."

"Why doesn't she leave you then? She obviously hates you."

Blaise heaved a sigh. "The money," he emphasized. "I'm wealthy. And when my mother passes on, I'll have even more."

"She keeps you around just for the money?"

"Why are you so surprised? Most of the hens you shagged were doing it for the nice things you could buy them."

"Hermione's not like that."

"No, but most women are."

"Most women we meet are, because everyone knows we're rich. But it's not like we hide it. So it's our own fault."

"True enough," Blaise agreed bitterly. "Sometimes... I hate it. I hate the money," he seethed.

Draco laughed. "Money is great, don't be thick."

"It's different for you, Draco. You have a woman who cares so little about material possessions. When you live with someone who is the opposite of that, you begin to wonder if it's even worth it. And I'm going to say that it's not."

Draco couldn't agree with him on that. If he were Blaise, he would find a way to leave the bitch, take the kids with him, and still keep all his money.

"I don't know what to tell you, Blaise. I'd say you're in deep shite though."

Blaise sighed. "I just have to wait for her to do something incredibly stupid in front of Hip Stir."

"Hip Stir?"

"Oh, you don't know... We were assigned a house-elf to supervise us and take notes. Basically, he'll be the one deciding when we can have the kids back."

Draco chuckled. "Interesting. I would have loved to have been there when that was announced." Blaise and Marietta both considered house-elves servants, and only servants.

"Can't say I'm enthused over it, but it annoys her even more, so I'm actually becoming quite fond of the arrangement." He grinned viciously.

"Way to patch things up, Blaise," Draco said sarcastically.

Blaise's eyes clouded over with pure hatred. "There will be no patching with her," he said firmly. "I'm just going to wait it out, and let her dig her own bloody hole. Maybe if they see that she is not willing to follow the guidelines given to us, they will give me sole custody of the girls and be done with it all."

"And Elenore? What about her? Being how she is not yours?"

"I've been acting as her father. She'll more than likely be a witch. I'm sure her blood father is a Muggle. So, unless they can find him, and I bid them good luck in doing so, there's not much that can be done about it."

"Do you think Marietta is capable of doing something that would make the Ministry want to pull the kids from her permanently?"

"She most definitely is," Blaise said with certainty in his voice. "Unfortunately, two-year-old scars are not enough to make it happen. She'll have to do it under the provided supervision. And I know she's capable of cracking, even with someone there to witness it. It's only a matter of time."

Draco swallowed hard, not liking the way Blaise said that. "Don't go and do something stupid Blaise," he scolded him. "That's all I need; a dead friend and his imprisoned widow. I don't wish to become these girls' father."

"I'll be fine," his friend assured him. "I only want to start over and have a new life. That's all I want. Happiness for them. Happiness for me."

Chapter Text

Peace.

Surprising enough, that was what it was like the rest of the afternoon for Hermione. After Marietta left, she had to take a good breather to keep herself from blowing up, and possibly slipping out a few curse words (something that she did not think was right to do in front of impressionable, little children).

When she returned from her breather (a few minutes locked away in the bathroom, reciting potion ingredients under her breath), she found all three girls in the playroom, being peaceful. Cinzia and Elenore were colouring, and Cara was hovering over them while they planned out their 'masterpiece'.

Were these the same little girls from this morning? As much as Marietta pissed her off with her snooty behavior, Hermione thought that maybe she had done the girls a bit of good. Perhaps seeing their mother was all that was needed for them.

She suggested that they go pick out their rooms to use for the remainder of their stay, in which the girls delightfully agreed to do. Cinzia and Elenore were still wanting to share a room, and chose a room with pink and blue decor.

"And what room do you want, Cara?" Hermione asked while the other girls went to go get their belongings and bring them to the new room.

Cara looked around the room her sisters had picked out. "I don't know," she said distantly. "I don't care."

"You don't?" Hermione frowned. "Why not, sweetie?"

"If it has a bed, a place for my clothes, my toys, and my books, what else does it need for me?"

Hermione looked at the little girl before her, wondering what was really going on inside her head. A five year old possessing such a practical mind was unheard of. "Wouldn't you want one that is prettily decorated— like this one?" She outstretched her arms and slowly spun in a circle. "Well, what's your favourite colour?" Hermione asked when Cara said nothing in reply.

Cara put a finger up to her chin in thought. "I don't have a favourite," she answered after a moment, sounding somewhat disappointed by it.

"No?" Well, that was strange. Little children always had a favourite colour.

"No colour is more better than the other." Cara made one single, pointed nod, as if her opinion of it was the only one that made sense.

So Hermione knew what she could do for Cara then, hoping the girl would like it. "Do you want a room near your sisters?" They entered the hall, and Hermione gestured to a door that was next to Cinzia and Elenore's room.

Cara didn't respond to the question. She walked down the hallway and trailed a hand along the wall, peeking into each of the rooms that had their doors open as she passed. She walked into one, stopping in the middle of it, and gave it a thorough look over, checking the drawers, the closet, under the bed, and behind the curtains.

"Can I have this one?" she finally spoke after she was through with her inspection.

"You sure can." Hermione then took out her wand and started casting charms, giving the room a new look to it. Rainbows of many different colours were now everywhere. Some were the normal ones with the typical seven colours. Others were more unique shades of colours, supporting Cara's belief that no colour was better than the other.

Cara stared in awe at the changes. Everything had been recoloured. The walls, the ceiling, the carpet, the dresser, the doors, the curtains, and even the bed and the rest of the furniture.

"Do you like it, Cara? Or shall I change it into something different?"

The girl smiled, shaking her head. "It's pretty! I like it a lot, Hermione!" She ran over to Hermione and hugged her. "Thanks!"

"You're welcome, sweetie."

*/*

Draco announced his home arrival, calling out for Hermione. He removed Scorpius's winter wear and set the baby on the floor to crawl around, then shrugged out of his own robes.

He tilted his head, noticing the silence. No fighting? Hmm. Perhaps one of the eldest girls were napping.

Hermione met him at the doorway out of the flooing room, where he pulled her into his arms to kiss her. "How was your day?" he murmured into her ear.

She kissed his cheek. "It had a rough start, but it's turning out fairly decent now."

"And Marietta's visit?" he asked as she pulled from him, picking up Scorpius to hug him.

Hermione let out a snort. "That woman is horrid."

Draco nodded. "I know..."

"She had the audacity to tell me that she was going to talk to you about how I treat elves, and thinks that I am not a decent mother because I don't use them to pick up after my family hand and foot!"

Draco raised his eyebrows. "And she's still alive after that?"

Hermione huffed. "It took all I had not to backhand her."

"If I had said that, my nose would have been broken in seven places."

She crossed her arms over her chest. "Yes, well... if we have been alone, it would have been a different story, I assure you that!" She took in a deep breath. "How was your day?" Hermione asked sweetly, tossing aside the subject of Marietta. "Did your visit with Andromeda go okay?"

"It was alright. Andromeda is a lovely person. I'd like to invite her over sometime."

"We can arrange that," she agreed with a nod.

"So," he lowered his voice into a cautious whisper. "Why are the girls so quiet?"

Hermione grinned, tucking her bottom lip between her teeth. "After Marietta left, they've been just darlings. Not a fight one. They must just miss their parents."

"That's great then. We ought to have a good couple days. I met up with Blaise when I went to Dimples for a bite to eat, he said he'll be over soon for his own visit."

She nodded with approval.

"I also brought you and the girls dinner," he told her, turning to retrieve the bag of food he had earlier set on a table to free his hands up. "Sub sandwiches," he informed as she peeked into the bag. "No bacon, since they think it's the devil's food."

She laughed at his joke. "Thank you, hon."

"No problem at all. I'll just take Scorpius into the playroom while you eat. Unless, you need my help?"

She shook her head. "I've managed so far, but thank you."

"Call if you need me then."

Draco read to Scorpius until the baby fell asleep, who was exhausted from his day out. After he was snuggled into his crib, Draco found that the others had finished their meal and were gathered in the playroom. He saw Hermione knelt down beside Cara, murmuring to the child. Cara was leaning against a bare wall with her legs stretched out in front of her. Her hands were set at her sides at the floor, and she was staring at her sisters, who were laying on the floor in the middle of the room, occupied with their colouring books. She shook her head to what Hermione had said to her, not saying anything.

Hermione stood up, letting out a sigh. "You just want to sit there until bedtime?" she asked as Draco approached them. "You don't want to read or nothing? Not even play on the piano?"

Cara brought her legs to her body, folding them together. "No," she answered dolefully.

"I'm sure they'll let you colour with them," Draco told her as she continued to watch her sisters with their activity.

"I don't want to colour!" she said with a sudden snap to her voice. "Stop bothering me! Leave me alone!" When her eyes filled with tears, Hermione got back down next to her.

"Cara, we're not meaning to make you cry, sweetie."

Cara wiped her eyes dry and held out her hand, gesturing to her sisters. "Tell them to stop!" she said helplessly. "Please!"

"Stop what?" Draco asked. He wondered if she was noticing that they were leaving her out of their playing.

The girl let out a frustrated groan. She took a stray building block and threw at the other girls.

"No!" Hermione scolded Cara as the block landed in the pile of colouring crayons, causing some of the crayons to fly up into the air and spread out into several directions.

Cinzia picked up the building block and set it off to the side of them. She looked at Cara with a puzzled frown. "Aren't you going to colour too, Cara?"

"Si, Cara," Elenora added cheerfully. "Cowour wiff us! It's fun!"

Hermione and Draco exchanged looks. If this had been last night, Cinzia would have probably made some cruel remark at Cara for what she had done. They were not used to this behavior.

"NO, I DO NOT WANT TO COLOUR!" Cara screamed. She hauled herself up to her feet and ran out of the room. There was a loud slam of a door that soon followed.

Draco winced when he heard Scorpius wail out, waking up from the harsh noise. "Damn," he muttered. "Has she had her potion this evening?"

Hermione frowned in disturbance. "It's not due for another hour..."

Draco sighed. "I'll go settle chomper back down. Leave Cara be. She needs to be alone for a bit, I think..."

Hermione nodded. "We all need a moment to ourselves from time to time. She's had a pretty busy day."

"Indeed."

*/*

Draco came back shortly, with the crying Scorpius, letting Hermione know that it was she that the baby wanted to see.

"Mina! Mina!" Scorpius wailed out repeatedly until she took him in her arms and began shushing him to quiet down. He wouldn't go back to sleep until she sang to him.

Scorpius slept soundlessly as she changed his nappy (to which Draco had pathetically pointed out that it was a filthy, messy one that she had to clean up). She considered his reaction to dirty nappies a bit childish, but his face always did look green at the sight of the messier nappies. She always took pity on him. She really couldn't help it. But, in truth, Hermione could get the task done faster anyway, knowing Draco would fuss over it for ten minutes if he had to do it himself.

"Okay," she whispered to Draco when she was through with the changing. "You think you can handle putting him back to bed?"

He grinned. "No problem. Easy." He took Scorpius and nudged his nose up against the baby's cheek.

"Nappy changing is just as simple," Hermione huffed.

Dram hummed playfully in doubt. "Whatever you say, Mione."

An hour after Cara had shut herself in her room, she came back out, requesting for her potion, acting as if what she had done had never happened. Hermione promptly gave it to her.

"Don't you want to play with us?" Hermione asked gently, trying to stop the girl from going back to her room.

"I'm sleepy now," she replied simply.

Draco stood up from the sofa that he had been lounging on from where he had been talking with Hermione about his visit with Andromeda. "Shall I read you a story?"

"No. I'm okay. Night!" Cara ran to Hermione, giving her a hug, then to Draco, doing the same with him.

Hermione watched him pat her back gently, yet uneasily. "Goodnight, Cara," he said.

"I noticed something just now..." Draco drawled later that night, after all the little ones were tucked in the beds, sleeping.

"Hmm?" Hermione voiced tiredly with her eyes closed. She felt the weight of him suddenly on her, the air of his nose puffing into her face. She smiled as he brushed his lips across hers.

"That we haven't made love in a week."

Her eyes shot open at his comment. He didn't notice her reaction as his kissing trailed down to her neck. Oh, Merlin! He was right! And she knew why too!

"Draco..." she said softly, grasping onto his shoulders.

"Mione..." he moaned in arousal, mistaking her calling out his name for something else. He eagerly pressed his lips to hers, grinding his pelvis into hers, igniting the urge for him to continue.

She pressed her eyes closed, fighting off her building excitement. She tried saying something, but she was muffled by his playful mouth.

God, this feels so nice, she thought in bliss. But she had to tell him! She shook her head free. "Draco," she gasped when their lips parted. "I need to tell you something."

His eyes were hooded with desire. Desire to fuck her. She knew it. "What?" he groaned. With a grin, he adjusted his weight, grinding against her even harder.

"Oh, Merlin," she moaned, trying to hold on to her sanity. "You have to stop that," She had meant that to come out more firm, but her voice sounded as brittle as a biscuit crumb.

"Why?" he devilishly asked. "Can't resist my touch?"

He practically speaks the truth, she thought, panting as she grew wet with the friction he was causing. They weren't even naked. They weren't even under the same covers. Oh, but he had no difficulties getting her in the mood.

She was starting to shudder now, near her climax. He had parted her night dress at the chest, and was sucking on her nipples, not pausing his play at all, introducing his tongue into the mix, while his thumb taunted the skin of her neck with light strokes.

"I feel you near it," he teased in a whisper, making her whimper in reply, bucking up at him for more.

He flung off her then, hastily removing his shirt, as she helped him under her blanket so his was no longer a barrier. She squeaked as his hand slipped up and under her night dress, finding her seeping, excited flesh. His mouth devoured hers, muffling the scream that nearly escaped into the otherwise quiet night.

"Drakko?"

The tiny voice ceased all of their play as if someone had just flicked on a light switch. Cara stood at the side of the bed, looking at them. Thankfully, there was hardly any lighting in the room, only enough to see shadows.

"What—" Draco cleared his throat, trying to rid his voice of its highness, slightly caught in a vulnerable state of mind. "What is it, Cara?" he asked gruffly.

"I'm scared," she whispered. "I had a bad dream..."

Hermione nudged at Draco, indicating for him to move off her. He didn't budge, groaning under his breath, wanting to go back to their previous activity.

"Can I sleep with you and Hermione?" the tiny girl asked. The sound of tears were easily notable in her voice.

"Oh, of course, sweetie!" Hermione crooned, turning on her side, rolling Draco off her. She heard him sigh in annoyance.

"I guess we can continue this talk another time," he hinted to Hermione, making room in the bed for the girl to sleep between them.

"Obviously so," Hermione said in forced cheerfulness, tucking the girl in with her blanket. "Good?" she asked Cara.

"Yes! Your bed is very comfy and warm!"

Draco grunted, turning his back to them and adjusted his pillow grumpily.

Hermione began to hum softly for Cara's benefit, aiding the child into a slumber. Her last thought of the night was how much she enjoyed having a little girl around, even if they had the chance to interrupt your love making.

A smile spread across her face.

The next morning was absolutely dreadful. Scorpius was in a screaming fit. Nothing seemed to tame his cries. Hermione couldn't get him to breastfeed, and if he skipped his morning feeding, he was sure to be a grumpy baby for the rest of the day.

He was down to three breastfeedings a day now. His developing tastebuds were in full swing these last few weeks, and he wanted nothing more than to eat 'delectable, adult food' (as his grandmother would say).

If Hermione didn't know any better, she'd guess her son was weaning himself off her. He was much too young for that though, and many books explained that it was the mother who had to initiate such a change. Especially for a baby so young.

She put a nipple into his mouth, pleading him to eat his breakfast. "You'll feel better," she told him reasonably, but he didn't agree with her. His tiny legs kicked at her arm in protest.

"What's his problem?" Draco asked, scratching his bare chest. His hair was standing on end, and his eyes were hardly open.

"Oh!" Hermione moaned in frustration. "He just won't feed!"

Draco leaned over Scorpius. "Good morning, you little screamer," he greeted sleepily. "Why are you giving your mina trouble?"

"Fumrah!" Scorpius shrieked through his crying.

Draco made an odd face, as if he was thinking about what Scorpius had just said. "Mina's milk is just fine, you silly goon. I know for sure."

Hermione blushed. Draco knew alright. He had had a taste of it himself the night before.

"Dankah!" Scorpius argued, shaking his fists in his fit.

"Would you see if he'll take a bottle?" Hermione asked desperately. "I've got to get the girls ready, and still make us all breakfast!" She didn't wait for Draco to respond, thrusting the baby into his arms.

"This is why you should utilize a house-elf," he said with a patronizing sigh behind her. "Breakfast would be ready already."

Hermione stiffened, glaring at him. "No."

He shrugged. "I'll be down in the kitchen then; hungry and starving." He exited the room, jiggling their fussing son.

"Maybe you could make breakfast!" she called out to him in impatience. He replied with a deep laugh.

"To hell with that!"

Ah, it was for the best. He'd probably poison them by not cooking the meat long enough. Or something like that.

Hermione got the girls ready in a surprising record of time. They had already been dressed by the time she entered their rooms, and were waiting for her to fix their hair up. Elenore liked her hair in two braids, tied off with blue ribbons. Cara didn't have a preference, and was happy with whatever Hermione was comfortable doing. Cinzia wanted hers in a fancy bun, to which Hermione struggled with and couldn't get right. Not even remotely. This morning though, the eldest Zabini girl didn't insult her for her lack of skills. Cinzia actually thanked her for doing her hair, stating that it was pretty.

Hermione and the girls entered the kitchen one by one, where Draco stood swaying back and forth as he held Scorpius. The baby held his own bottle up to his mouth, sucking away. "He's doing okay with the milk you stored in the freezer," he informed Hermione who gave him a smile of relief with the news.

"Thanks," she said meaningfully. She rewarded him with a simple kiss to the lips, giggling at the look she got from him. Obviously, he was wanting more than that. "Be patient," Hermione gently scolded him, bopping his nose with a finger.

Draco rolled his eyes. He looked down at his son, checking to see if he was still holding the bottle up to his mouth. With one hand, he began helping the girls settle down for breakfast, pouring them juice or milk, and filling their bowls up with a handful of cereal to tide them over until Hermione was finished with her cooking.

He was a great help, and dealt with multitasking really well, all the while, patient with the girls, yet firm when he needed to be. He was a natural father, as if it ran in his blood. His blunt honestly amazed Hermione. Even when it came to children, he wasn't going to sugar coat anything. None of the girls hated him for it either, and if that had been so, Hermione would of had a long talk with him about it. But they admired him. And so did their son.

Their own daughter would too, Hermione thought with a warm smile, watching Draco show them step by step on how one would magically fill up a glass with their choice of liquid after Elenore had asked him to.

"It's just one simple tap to the glass," he was explaining to them. He was a decent demonstrator, often doing the same with Scorpius, even though it would be years before their son would be able to perform such magic.

Obviously, the girls didn't have a wand yet, and grew up around magic, but they were all still eager to watch as their godfather showed them how to do it. Hermione made an assumption that at home their parents may not spend enough time with them and not show them how to do things.

She teared up at the thought, loudly sniffing.

"What's wrong?" Draco immediately abandoned his lesson, seeing her wipe her eyes dry with her fingers.

Damn hormones, she cursed herself. "Nothing." Hermione shrugged his question off, scrambling the eggs.

"No one ever cries for nothing," Cara said, shaking her head.

"Why is she sad?" Elenore asked no one in particular.

A hollow clanging sound erupted throughout the room as Scorpius's bottle hit the floor and went rolling across it.

"I'll get it!" Cara offered, quickly jumping out of her chair and fetching it.

"Fumrah!" Scorpius screeched. He was no longer crying, but he wasn't all smiles either.

"You're just a mess today," Draco told him and arranged him to assist him with his burping. "Mina's milk is just fine."

"Nahk!"

"He'll cheer up when the packages arrive today," Draco assured the frowning Hermione.

"Packages?" Hermione asked skeptically. "What packages?" She about groaned inside when his eyes guiltily shifted from hers. She should have known he would go out and buy things, refusing to put a budget on his spending. "What did you buy this time?" she asked, tapping her foot.

"Fun stuff." Draco stared into his bowl, stirring the now soggy cereal.

"How much did you spend, Draco?"

He winced, smiling sheepishly. Hermione had to bite back a smile. While she insisted that he cut back on his frivolous purchases, she really adored that smile. Their son could mimic a lot of Draco's facial expressions, it was too cute.

"Less than before you started butting into my financial spending, but more than the limit you insist that I keep..." His smile faded, and Hermione let out a sigh. It was progress, she'd admit.

"And what did you buy?"

The girls were watching the exchange intently, spooning in bites of food every few seconds or so. Hermione hovered a plate of eggs to the table for them where Draco busied himself and served each girl a small amount.

"Stuff for Scorpius. And..." he paused, grinning.

"And...?" she prompted, mixing up the waffle batter.

"It's a surprise," he told her with a loud whisper, poking at her building curiosity.

"A surprise? For me?"

He nodded, his lips spreading wider as her thoughts twirled around in her head, all in wonder of what it could be.

"You didn't have to get me anything," she told him. It was so sweet of him to do that. She didn't even know what he had gotten her, but her heart was clenching up at the thought of him thinking of her while he was out with Scorpius. More tears flooded from her eyes. And then she let out a sob, unable to hold it all in.

She felt his arms wrapped around her and was pulled into a hug. He whispered softly into her ear. Hermione couldn't make out the words, Her crying had drowned them out, but she felt comfort just the same, and snuggled into his chest.

"Well, I didn't mean to make you cry. Merlin..." he gently teased Hermione when she regained her control. He kissed her forehead.

"You're just so sweet!" she told Draco. "You're the best!"

"The best," he said, smirking. "Yes, I am."

"So, what is it?" Hermione asked, when she was done making breakfast and helping Draco fill the girls' plates with the prepared food.

"You'll just have to wait and see," he told her mysteriously.

"Humph! You know this is going to torture me!"

"Yes, I do," Draco said smugly. "And I just love it!"

All that day, Scorpius just refused to breastfeed, getting upset anytime Hermione attempted to do it. He ate from a bottle just fine, which frustrated her. The mother and child completely mirrored each others' mood to a T, Hermione having quickly forgotten about Draco's surprise gift he had bought her due to the struggles of pleasing her son.

"He's just being so difficult today!"

"It's your milk," Draco said, wrinkling his nose up in confusion. "That's what he's been telling me. Isn't it, son?" He was currently holding the whimpering baby.

"Mina, dabob!"

Draco chuckled. "No, Scorpius, Mina is not a baby."

"Nahk, Derblah!" Scorpius screeched irritably.

Draco inhaled deeply. Hermione could tell that he was starting to lose his cool too.

"Here, just let me have him." Hermione stretched out her arms to take Scorpius. "I'll try singing to him, maybe he'll settle down then. You can check on the girls."

Draco was relieved to do that, making a quick exit for a much needed break. He hated the helpless feeling when he couldn't stop his son from crying. Not that Hermione felt any better when she couldn't keep her son happy either.

"You really need to breastfeed," she whispered to the baby, touching her nipple to his lips. "I can tell by the way you're crying."

Scorpius's eyes shut tightly, his mouth was wide open now, wailing away.

"Hush little baby, don't you cry..." Hermione started singing, rocking back and forth, hoping to soothe him into quietness. It took a few songs, but his cries turned into soft unhappy grunts until he slowly drifted to sleep.

"Mumma loves you so much," she murmured against the baby's cheek. Gently, she rested back into the corner of the sofa where she sat in the sitting room, closing her eyes for her own nap, exhausted from fighting with him for the past few hours.

"Derblah!" Scorpius screeched out a while later, waking Hermione from her sleep with a start. "Derblah!" He sounded a whole lot happier than before his nap, all full of smiles.

"Hello, baby!" Hermione said, sitting up and hugging him to her chest. "Are you all happy now?"

"Baby."

"What...?!" Draco gasped at the doorway, mouth set at a gap, matching the same stunned look Hermione wore.

"Did he just say—"

"He did!" Draco cut her off, smiling wide in excitement. "He did say it. Didn't he?!" he demanded, hurrying across the room, kneeling down to Scorpius's level. "You did say it, right, chomper?!"

Scorpius bounced in Hermione's lap, cooing at his father. He stuffed a fist into his mouth and laughed.

Hermione tickled the baby's tummy. "Can you say it again, Scorpy?"

Scorpius looked up at her and removed his fist from his mouth. He raised his arms up, flapping them out as if he was a bird with wings. "Dabob!"

"No, not in baby talk." Draco took one of Scorpius's hands and held it with his own hand. "In English, chomper. We know you said it!"

Scorpius leaned forward to touch Draco's hand with his mouth and encased a bit of his father's finger with it, sucking on it.

"I know he said it!" Hermione shrieked excitedly, rubbing Scorpius's back.

Draco took the baby into his arms, holding him out at arm's length to look him in the eye. "Scorpius," he said gently, but firmly. "Say it, son. We're not hallucinating, you said 'baby'."

"Dabob," Scorpius gurgled. He blew a raspberry.

"No, not dabob. Baby," Draco said it slowly, emphasizing both syllables to the word.

Scorpius's eyebrows wrinkled in concentration. It almost looked like he was dirtying his nappy, as his face turned tomato red. His dangling legs lifted up to stomach. "Bayah," he finally sputtered out. He then began fussing again.

"Shoosh," Draco said, hugging him, tapping his back. "You're okay."

"Mina," Scorpius whimpered. "Mina, bay! Mina, bay!"

Hermione rose up from the sofa, suddenly realizing what Scorpius was trying to say.

It all made sense now. How did he know though? He was so little... So young... There was no explanation! It couldn't just be a coincidence though, could it?!

"He's..." she started, staring at her little baby. His stormy grey eyes met hers, and his whimpers ceased then. Hermione tilted her head in interest. She reached out to pet back his silky, fluffy hair. "You do know, don't you…?"

"Know what?" Draco asked, looking from his girlfriend to his son, each staring into the others' eyes.

Scorpius arched his back, breaking eye contact with Hermione. He let out a giggle, before squealing out, "Baby!"

"That's right." Hermione could manage nothing more than a whisper, stuck in astonishment over her son's intelligence. This explained why he had been drinking her milk less and less everyday, and suddenly why he refused to do it at all today. She never thought of it until just a few minutes ago that the flavour of her milk was no longer accepting to his taste buds. Her hormones lately have been changing, she had been noticing it herself recently (mostly because of her mood changes happening at the flip of a coin).

"You're right, baby," Hermione said, kissing the boy, her eyes once again flooding up with tears, proud of her little boy. "Mumma's going to have a baby."


 AN: Hope you all having a great Holiday season! :) A very Happy New Year to all my fans!

Chapter Text

'You're right, baby, Mummy's going to have a baby.'

Draco's mind was momentarily frozen in time, stuck in a time loop as Hermione's words repeated over and over in his head.

'Mummy's going to have a baby.'

'...have... a... baby...'

Had he heard her right? He hoped not. He sincerely hoped not. For Merlin's sake, please let it be a mistake on his ears!

"Are you okay?" Draco faintly heard Hermione ask. "Here, let me take the baby, before you drop him."

With his hands now free, Draco set them to the top of his head and turned from her, moaning with dread. She couldn't be serious. He had been taking the potion regularly— every morning with breakfast. How could this have happened?!

It happened with Scorpius, a voice in his mind pointed out.

But Scorpius had been conceived through a bond, one that Draco had learned to accept that had been capable of canceling out the effects of the contraceptive potion. This new baby— if Hermione was really going to have a one— was not. There was no possibility that it could happen twice. He and Hermione were already bonded. They couldn't be bonded twice.

How could his swimmers survive through such an ordeal? No one had ever once complained about that specific potion failing them. And before Hermione, it had worked with Draco. It had worked for several years, on who knew how many women he had shagged in his past. He had been with too many for him to had even kept count.

It had to be the bloody bond. It just had to be.

He was pacing the room now, losing his mind. If she wasn't trying to toy with him, if what she had said was a fact, that she was really going to have a baby, it was going to be a girl.

He was going to have a daughter.

He about fainted at the thought. Bending over, he grabbed the arm of the sofa to keep him from plummeting to the ground. His knees grew weak, and his chest was cramping up, pinching his lungs with every quick, panicked breath he took.

Oh, dear Merlin! Please let this be some sick, disgusting joke!

"Draco!" Hermione cried, grabbing his arm and helping him into the sofa to sit. Her hand cupped his cheek, turning his head to face her, where she had placed herself next to him. "Are you okay?" she asked with heavy concern. "Answer me!"

"This... This is a j-joke, r-right?" Draco finally asked out loud, desperate for her to admit that she was only messing around with him. Though, he knew she wasn't. Hermione wasn't one to prank. "You're n-not really—" Draco couldn't bring himself to finish the question. His eyes involuntarily fell down to look at her stomach. Her flat stomach.

Okay, so maybe, just maybe, she was actually fucking with him. It would be a cruel thing to do, but it definitely would be better than—

"I am for real," she said softly, taking his hand and kissing it. She set it to her stomach, pressing it to her. "We're going to have another baby, Draco," Hermione told him gently.

He shook his head in denial. "No, it can't be! How?! Oh, Merlin! Please! Hermione, if you're messing with me, please tell me now!" His pulse raced even faster, fearing it was all true, knowing it was the truth, but unwilling to believe it. "Please!" he begged, setting his hands firmly onto her shoulders. His eyes searched hers for any sort of twinkle that could suggest that she was lying to him.

"I'm not playing around, Draco," Hermione insisted seriously. "I really am pregnant..." Her voice had turned hollow with disappointment.

"Why, Cara?!" Cinzia suddenly wailed at the top of her lungs. "Why did you do that, Cara?!"

"Why are you so mean?!" Elenore joined in on her sister's outcry.

"Because!" Cara yelled back. "It's bad! Bad! Listen to me! Listen, Cinny!"

"No! You ruined it! You wrecked our work!"

"We worked hard, Cara!"

Draco pushed himself up to stand and ran a hand down his face. "Merlin, I can't deal with this right now," he muttered, stalking to the room's exit.

"Where are you going?!" Hermione demanded, hurrying after him.

"To get a drink!" he roughly replied, heading toward the flooing room.

"Wait, Draco! Please, wait!"

Draco stopped walking when she had caught up to him and touched his arm. He forced his breathing to slow, trying to keep calm.

"Don't be angry..." she whispered.

"I'm not!"

"You sound like you are."

"I just..." He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply in an effort to relax his nerves. "I just need a moment to adjust to the news. You've had time to accept this. Now I need mine." He slipped from her hand and proceeded to get that much needed alcoholic beverage.

All those little girls were crying, upset with each other over whatever had just happened between them.

Not now, he told himself. I can't help them right now. I have my own problems to handle.

"Oh, please don't come back plastered!" Hermione said. "Not in front of the children!"

He didn't reply, but made a mental note to himself that if he did drink too much, he wouldn't return until he had sobered up. The kids (the girls especially) didn't need to be around it.

He and Hermione split off in different directions of the home, he to escape so he could think without all the surrounding chaos, and she to tame down the girls.

He almost turned around to help. The sound of their cries were wiggling into his pathetic soul, but he trudged forward, knowing that it was not the right time for him to be refereeing sniveling, overdramatic children.

No, he was not in the proper state of mind to address their petty issues at this moment in time.

At Dimple's Pub, he quickly downed two bottles of Firewhiskey, not even noticing the burn it left behind in his throat. He was too numb to feel it. Stunned. Shocked. He was actually sweating at the thought of having a daughter. Especially after he had so vowed recently not to have one. Although, Hermione had probably been already pregnant when he had made that vow to himself.

He let out a chuckle, unable to help himself, though not necessarily amused by the thought.

Chugging the last bit of his third drink, he walked over to Dimple's floo and stepped into it, calling out an address.

He'd make sure this wouldn't happen a third time!

Blaise lived in a timber framed home with lots of windows, providing a grand amount of light. The three story home was as big as the one Draco was living in with Hermione. It had over a dozen bedrooms, and a gigantic indoor swimming pool. Blaise had often bragged about it having its own sauna too, but Draco had never seen it personally, not caring much about Blaise's assets. His own always trumped everyone he knew.

Draco stood at the floo and raised his eyebrows at the noise that was going on above him.

Moaning. Groaning.

Intimate moaning and groaning.

Draco shook his head in disbelief and turned to leave.

Blaise was an idiot, but perhaps the married couple had been able to come to some sort of agreement. Draco would have been happy for his friend if he hadn't just been told how much of a bitch Marietta was to Blaise. He had seemed so sure that he would dump Marietta too.

Maybe Blaise was using her. Maybe the sex was just that good.

Draco cringed. He'd not fuck a woman like Marietta. Not after all she'd done.

He no sooner stepped into the floo, and said half the address to Malfoy Manor, before someone called out.

"Oi! Leaving so soon?"

Draco poked his head out, lifting up a brow. His eyes shifted up to the polished wood ceiling of the large room. The moans had turned into downright screams.

Draco cleared his throat, stepping out. He'd swore one of those had sounded like Marietta.

Blaise, who was wearing nothing but a dark green bathrobe(so dark, it was almost black), stared up at the ceiling himself where the noise was coming from. He brought a drink glass to his lips, sipping softly, without removing his eyes from up above. "That is no Muggle film, mate," he said. He then looked at Draco, frowning. "You look terrible."

"What's going on?" Draco asked.

Blaise grunted. "I asked you first." He summoned up his house-elf and ordered up a drink for Draco.

"No, you did not," Draco pointed out. "In technicality, all you did was make a note on how I appeared."

Blaise settled himself into an enormous wingback chair. He smirked and pointed upward, "She's been inviting her little loveslug into my home, groping him— all the while in my presence."

Draco raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "Wow..."

"She's charmed the entire place with a sound enhancing charm that I can't cancel out. Which explains why you can hear her little pleasure session two floors down from the actual place it's happening in."

"Merlin, she's horrid..." Draco shook his head in disgust.

Blaise shrugged. "I don't honestly care anymore," he said truthfully. "At first, I was pissed on how blunt she was, but now I see no pointing in giving a warts arse about it. I'm done with her. She can shag whomever she wants— so what's wrong with you?" he asked casually as Draco sat across from him with his own drink.

Draco stared into the liquid. He wanted to return home that night, so he held back from taking a drink from it. "Who did you go to when you got yourself—" He looked up at his friend, serious as ever. He cleared his throat and gestured to his crotch.

Blaise leaned forward. "Are you telling me that you want to get—" He held up his fore and middle fingers, bringing them together.

Draco nodded.

"Ho, Merlin's beard, Draco!" his friend gasped. "That's a serious thing to do! Why the fuck would you—"

"Two's enough, wouldn't you think?! I don't want to become like the Weasleys! There's a reason they're poor— they've no self control, like rabbits! And all but one would be girls! I'd go crazy! Crazy!"

Blaise burst out laughing at Draco's rushed sentence. "I'm not telling you who did that to me! Obviously, you're thinking a bit irrational right now." After he said that, Draco's words fully set in. "Two?"

Draco set his glass on the coffee table between them. He placed his head into his hands. He nodded slowly. "It's a girl... The curse was lifted with Scorpius, but I'm still unable to have multiple sons..."

"Congratulations, mate! Take a drink!" With a spell, Blaise pushed Draco's drink closer to him.

"A girl!" Draco emphasized to ensure that his friend had heard him correctly.

Blaise chuckled. "You think you're going to get me to freak out over you having a daughter? Draco, I have three, they aren't inferi or anything."

"I know, and yours' are keeping me on my feet!"

"I'll be honest with you. It'll be scary at first, and the desire to protect her will never cease to end, but mate, the first time she says 'Papa' and hugs you close to her, you will think your heart has gone to absolute mush from it pooling up into a puddle. Because, Draco it will melt, and she'll do this to you all the time— even after you think you've built up a defense for it. And when she cries, it'll feel like someone is torturing you. You'll do anything to stop it, including dressing up in a ruddy pink tutu and dancing around with her. When she laughs, you'll smile, sometimes even laugh along with her. She'll make you mad— just like anyone else close to you has the habit of doing— but one thing you need to know, Draco, is that once you have her, you'll want to keep her forever. You'll love her like none other. The bond you'll have with your daughter will be a great one, should you accept her love, and we both know that you will."

Draco snatched the drink glass and downed half of it. "I don't know anything about little girls. I wouldn't know how to make her happy, and I'd want her to be happy."

Blaise laughed. "Oh, Draco, just don't think much about it! If I could do it, managing three, you can do it with one. Girls do everything that boys do, plus more. I promise you, you will have no regrets on this little, upcoming bundle of sweetness. Heck, she may even end up playing Quidditch at Hogwarts."

"Quidditch?! Oh, no!" Draco groaned, remembering his days playing as a Seeker. "They'll kill her up there! She can't play that!"

Blaise grinned. He brought his glass up to his mouth. It was empty, but as soon as it touched his lips it refilled itself. "Chill down, Draco," he said when he finished his drink. "You're going to make the perfect father for your baby girl. Go home, kiss your woman, and tell her that you love her. Beg Granger for your forgiveness for running out like you did, and you best make sure she knows that what you did was not her fault. You've got a rough few months ahead of you, and you don't need her upset with you. Trust me on this."

Draco took a deep breath and nodded. He was still nervous, but his friend's words helped him a little. Just a little.

Now he had to go back and do what Blaise told him to do, because he was sure Hermione's feelings had been hurt."I'm a real jackass," Draco muttered, standing up.

"Yes, you are," Blaise agreed, chuckling. "But I'm sure she'll understand."

Before Draco would go home, he wanted to do something first. He said goodbye to his friend, thanking him for his help and went off on his way.

*/*

Exhausted, Hermione arched her back, letting the hot water spray down the front of her body. It had been a terribly long day, the fighting with her son, the worry of how Draco was managing the news of their upcoming baby, and then the many hours she spent trying to calm each of the girls after Cara had, for some reason which Hermione was still puzzled by, ripped up all of Cinzia and Elenore's colouring books and broken their crayons.

"They're bad!" Cara explained when Hermione had asked her (with suppressed annoyance) why she had done it.

"They are not!" Cinzia snapped in tears. "You're just mean! You hate us!"

"I do not!" Cara cried. "Colouring is bad! Cinny! Listen to me!"

"Colouring is not bad," Hermione chastised her. "Maybe you should go sit in your room and think a little about how much you hurt your sisters' feelings. Your sisters worked hard on those."

Cara tearfully looked at her sisters, looking helpless, but she got no pity from either of them, both upset at her for ruining their art. She left without another word, sniffing every so few steps she took.

Hermione had cleaned up the mess and had asked Toogy if she would go and buy them another book. Naturally, the elf had been overly excited to do so and returned no more than ten minutes later with a new box of colouring crayons and a colouring book.

Hermione rolled her eyes when she saw the the book's theme: none other than she, Ron, and Harry. They were all blank cartoons, mostly drawn in outrageous poses that they probably hadn't ever made in their life. Some were pictures of them battling Death Eaters, but others were of more realistic pictures in their younger years: Harry catching his first snitch, Ron trying out for Quidditch, and Hermione engrossed in a book at the Hogwarts library. Least they got the book right. Her favourite, Hogwarts, A History.

"Diss wooks wike you, Hermione," Elenore smartly noticed.

"That is her," Cinzia told her. "And this is Harry Potter, and that is Ron Weasley!"

"Where's Draco?"

Cinzia shrugged. "He's not a hero, so he don't belong in here."

"This book only shows Harry, Ron, and I," Hermione informed Elenore. "But there are lots more heroes than us three."

"But you is the important ones." Cinzia took the book from her and set it on the table, opening it up to a page of Hermione shouldering an over stuffed bag of books.

"No, Cinzia," Hermione said sternly. "I am not more important than any other person out there."

"I want to be in cowour book one day!"

"You have to be famous to do have that," her sister told her.

"Den I be famous one day!" Elenore said positively. "I'll sing! Like Papa!"

Cinzia shook her head, looking over the crayons that she had dumped from the box, picking out a brown one. "Papa is not famous, Nora."

"He will be! Papa will sing, and people will watch him, and dey'll cheer him, and he'll be happy!"

"But Mama won't let him sing, Nora."

Elenore bent her head down, slumping her shoulders. "Papa is good singer," she said and plucked up an orange crayon to colour the tie of Hermione's uniform in the picture.

"Her tie is red and gold, Nora!" Cinzia gasped, stopping her. "She's a Gryffindor. Remember?"

"In this picture, Gryffindors wear orange," Elenore simply said with a serious look.

"But they can't—"

"Who says Gryffindors can't wear orange?" Hermione asked, cutting off the older girl. "Orange is good. Mix it with blue, and you have a vibrant clash of colours!"

After she had made them dinner, had all the children bathed (Cinzia had demanded a bit of freedom, not allowing Hermione to help her), and wrestled them into bed, she 'treated' herself to a shower. She would have taken a bath, but was tired, so she skipped the bath and opted for the quick clean up. Only when she had stepped in the shower, turning it on, she realized how great the hot water felt against her worn out body. She stayed in it longer than she had intended to.

"Mione..." Draco's soft voice called out to her at the doorway of the bathroom. She dropped the scrub brush she'd been using to massage her back, slightly startled.

Hermione threw the shower door open to see him standing there across the way, dressed in his outing wear, wearing a pathetic, apologetic look— though, he was trying his best to hide it. "You okay?" she whispered, fearing the worst. She knew how he felt about children, even though he was so patient and kind to them, and they in turn loved him for it. She and Draco each understood that they could only have one son because of the curse, so she knew he had quickly added two and two that afternoon. He had been so scared at the thought of having a daughter, and Hermione had felt incredibly bad for it but also disappointed that he was so unsure of himself. She didn't want him avoiding their daughter all because of his low self-esteem involving tiny, little children with dresses and pigtails.

Draco sighed. "I'm terrified," he confessed. "But there's nothing I can do, right? You plan on keeping it?"

Hermione stiffened, narrowing her eyes. "Yes," she said firmly. "I do plan on keeping her."

"Good," he breathed out in relief. "I just wanted to be sure— I didn't know what you had planned. It's your body and all..." He took off his outer robes and hung them over his forearm, digging through a pocket of them. He removed something that was folded. He cleared his throat. "I thought... well..." He didn't finished, instead, he held the piece of material up to his chest, showing her what it was. "It took me two hours to find a suitable one for my taste…"

Hermione inhaled a gasp, and stepped out of the shower, naked and wet, not even thinking about getting a towel to dry and cover herself. Her eyes were glued to the tiny, pink bodysuit that he outstretched for her to see. There was a blue dragon in the center of it, breathing fire. Above the dragon had the words in white writing, "Daddy's my dragon," and beneath it was, "I'm his little princess." Draco flipped the bodysuit around so Hermione could see the back. In bold, blue lettering, it read, "And he guards me well."

Tears blurred her vision as she walked to him, touching the bodysuit. "Oh, Draco," she breathed, taking it from him and grazing her hands over the stitching, smiling at him.

"So, you like it?" he asked seriously. "I was hoping it wasn't too corny—"

Hermione crashed into him, hugging him. "It's perfect," she cried, sniffing.

"I have got to stop making you cry," Draco said helplessly, wrapping his arms around her body to comfort her.

"It's just the hormones, love," Hermione assured him and pulled back to look at him. "You are alright then? With having a daughter?"

He pressed his lips together. "I'll learn to cope." Then, he smiled faintly. "It's a Slytherin ability, after all." He leaned down, kissing her softly. "You'll have to help me through it though," Draco insisted in a whisper, his lips brushing lightly against hers.

"You know I will." Hermione opened her mouth a bit, taking control of his, kissing him deeper and slipping her tongue into his mouth.

"Wait." Draco hastily released her, narrowing his eyes in excessive worry. He stepped back from her, looking her over. "If we have sex, it's not going to... damage anything is it? Her little head isn't going to get jabbed with my—"

"Oh, my god, Draco!" Hermione snorted out in laughed. "No, silly!" She rolled her eyes, and snatched his solid grey tie, pulling at it. "It's safe for us to have sex. You can't hurt her."

He sighed, loosening up his tie. "Well, that's a relief then." He tossed his tie to the side. "Having you standing in front of me, all naked and wet..." He shook his head, clicking his tongue, slitting his eyes in arousal. He pulled his black sweater vest up and over his head, revealing the light grey button up shirt beneath it.

Hermione grinned and started unbuttoning his shirt, feeling the need to touch his raw skin. After he shrugged out of it, he propped her atop the bathroom counter, positioning himself between her legs. "You're beautiful," he purred, leaning forward to kiss the nape of her neck. He groaned as her hands explored his bare back. "Our daughter is going to be such a beautiful little witch."

"I just hope she has your hair," Hermione giggled.

Draco grunted. "Me too." He brought his hands to the front of him, unbuckling his belt, reaching into his slacks and pulling out his hard cock, and letting it smack against her thigh. Hermione grabbed it, wrapping her fingers around it tightly. He hissed. "Ah, Merlin, you're so fucking good at that," he complimented, rocking his hips to her now-stroking movement. If it was at all possible, his cock felt like it grew harder in her hand. She looked at him, licking her lips, taunting him.

He leaned forward, pressing her further back onto the counter. "You are a wicked little witch, aren't you," he growled playfully. Hermione answered with a harsh yank of his member.

He groaned loudly and crashed his lips to hers, snatching her hand from his cock and relocating it to his hip, then skillfully, with no help of his hands, he plowed his dick into her pussy. He smirked against her lips, delighted with her shriek of pleasure.

"You like that, love?" he asked through a grunt, grinding into her.

Hermione's head fell back as he buried himself into her, slow and deep. "Harder," she demanded with a squeak, gripping her hands at his hips tighter. She clenched up her face as he did what she order. "Yes, there! Faster!" She bucked with his movements, creating more friction against her clit. "Oh..." Her legs spread out wider, giving them all the room they would need.

They were panting now, and the edge of the counter was starting to cut her circulation off, but she didn't care, she pushed him deeper and deeper into her. His face was above hers, his stormy eyes were misted over with pure desire, passion, and possessiveness. Their entire bodies were coated in a thin layer of sweat. His forehead was dripping with it, and a drop slid down his face and off of it, landing on her cheek, where it continued its journey down the side of her face and stopping at her neck.

"Scream my name," he muttered, feeling her began to shudder under him. "Do it, Mione!"

She shook, nearing her orgasm. "Ohhhh," she moaned as his hand found her nipple, pinching it gently. "Draco," she gasped. "I'm going to cum."

He paused his pumping to slide a hand between them, touching her swollen flesh, rubbing it quickly. His cock twitched inside her as she screamed her out release.

"That's it, love," he purred above her, without pausing his play. He sucked on her neck, marking her with his mouth, nibbling at her skin with his teeth. He moaned as her juices soaked his cock. "How slick you are. So wet…! How wet we are!"

She couldn't speak, her mouth was too dry from panting, she wrapped her legs around him as he picked up his previous movement, readying to send himself into his own orgasm. "I love you," he said through his laboured breathing. With a strangled cry he paused deep inside and Hermione felt his load blast out, filling her completely. He slowly fucked her, milking the last of him into her, feeding on the pleasure, not willing it to end, wanting it to continue for as long as he possibly could.

Neither wanted to move, too worn out and sore from their workout. They stayed like that for several minutes, smiling at each other, with their clammy foreheads touching together. When Hermione winced because the pain at her legs had increased to an unmanageable pain, Draco pulled out of her, and helped her off the counter, holding her to him for balance, knowing her legs were asleep.

"Let's take a bath," he suggested, lifting her up into his arms, kissing her. "I'll get you all cleaned up."

Hermione looped an arm around his neck as he bent down to fish his wand out of his discarded clothing. "I would very much like that."

"And a massage?"

"Oh, yes, Draco," she moaned, taking his earlobe into her mouth and between her teeth, all while fiddling with that one nipple that sent him over the edge, and teasing it with her thumb.

"Just give me a second to safely apparate us before you start jerking that thing!" Draco hastily protested. He smiled at her, capturing her upper lip into his mouth, casting the spell easily. He took them to the best bathroom they had, where Hermione had the idea that he was going to engage her into a second round of what they had just done.


 

A/N: So, have any baby names in mind?

Chapter Text

AN:

R.I.P Alan Rickman, the man who played one of our favourite professors. He died today January 14th, 2016. Cancer took him from us. *weeps*

 

**For those who hate the whole Zabini plot, just skip down to the bottom (or wait until the next update).** You've been warned, hehe.


 

"You forgot to get batteries." Hermione frowned, watching Draco remove the Monster trucks from their plastic packaging. With a cutting spell, he made a cut on each side, splitting the packaging apart.

"I've got something better than lame Muggle energy components." Draco disposed of the sharp packaging quickly, seeing Scorpius's eyes fixate on it with an interested look.

"Nahdah?" his son questioned in confusion.

"The toy is inside. Remember Teddy's Monster truck?"

"What's a Monster truck?" Cara asked, watching from a distance at her usual place on the floor, up against a wall. "It sounds scary," she added, whispering in mild fear.

"It's not something to be afraid of."

Scorpius laughed when Draco set the blue monster truck on the floor, readying it for playing. "Doohah, Derblah!" He crawled closer to his father, and gripped one of its wheels. It was twice the size of his hand. The monster truck was half his body size. He could almost ride on it.

"I need to charm it first, chomper. Else it will just be a hunk of pretty rubbish." Draco set the toy in his lap where he sat on the floor, and swished his wand around it and its controller. He did the same with the other three. "Now, we play! Ready?" he asked the room. Cara tilted her head warily, still thinking that they were scary monsters. Scorpius screeched out in excitement. Hermione nodded, also eager to see what Draco had done to the Muggle toys. The other girls only somewhat acknowledged Draco, stealing glances here and there. They thought that colouring was much more interesting.

"No, no, Scorpius, watch me first." Scorpius was using all his might to pull the blue one toward him. Draco stood up, hauling Scorpius up with him, holding the controller in his other hand. He pushed a stick forward and the Monster truck reared up on its back tires then sped forward.

Even though the toy was not going in her direction, Cara screamed, getting up from the floor and diving onto the sofa, bunching herself up. Hermione went over and sat next to her.

"It's just a toy," she said soothingly.

Cara set her head into Hermione's lap, closely watching the toy zip around the room.

"Gawk!" Scorpius pointed at his Monster truck, his eyes grew wide with happiness. "Gawk!" He reached out to claim control of the controller Draco had.

"Just a second." Draco lifted it out of reach. "Let me show you how to use it first!"

Scorpius scrunched up his face. "Nahd! Wah, wah!"

"You won't know how until Father shows you," Draco told him firmly.

"Ahk!" Scorpius protested. His hand was raised, aimed at the controller, opening and closing. He bounced determinedly in his father's arm.

Draco set Scorpius on the ground and got down on his knees behind him. He took each of the baby's hands with his own, and set them on the sticks that made the Monster truck move when pushed or pulled. "Okay, now watch, chomper," he murmured to his son and made the Monster truck spin in circles. "This makes it turn this way, and when you press the stick the other way, it turns around. And these sticks over here make it go forward and back!"

"Nawkdah!" Scorpius told his father. He was allowed to play with now. He giggled as it sped across the room.

"Watch out for that—"

CRASH!

Scorpius laughed. His truck had smacked into a leg of a chair.

"Let me show you a trick," Draco offered, taking the controller away.

"Nahd!" Scorpius whined. His lip puckered out and shut his eyes, ready to cry.

"No, don't pitch a fit! Watch me, you'll like it!"

Scorpius mewed, unhappy that he was not able to play with the controller, but he did watch his father. "Dahnah!" he demanded for it back.

"In just a second, son," Draco said, engrossed in building the Monster truck's speed up, lapping it around the room. "Alright, here it comes, chomper, watch!" He pushed both sticks forward and spun them around in rapid circles. It flew up into the air, its rear end above the front, sailing over an unused sofa, making several flips while in the air, before it landed, zipping under the table that Cinzia and Elenore were colouring at, and coming out from between their feet.

"No!" Cara bolted up from the sofa, chasing after it. "Leave my sisters alone!"

"Cara, honey!" Hermione, who had quickly followed her, pulled Cara back just as she was about to kick at the Monster truck which had stopped in front of Scorpius.

"It's not going to hurt anyone, it's just a toy."

"That toy is boring," Cinzia said from her place at the table. "You should colour with us. Come colour, Draco. Come on, Hermione."

"'Corpius can cowour too!" Elenore added, smiling. She held out a crayon in Scorpius's direction. "You want to cowour, 'Corpius?"

"Nawk!" Scorpius shook his head wildly. He took the controller from an absent minded Draco who was trying to think of a way to show Cara that the Monster truck was not dangerous.

"Draco can show you," Hermione said into the girl's ear, hugging Cara to her. "It's not going to hurt anyone, alright?"

"I'm scared..." Cara whispered.

"And I'll show you that there's no reason to be scared of it. See, Scorpius is playing with it, and he's not scared. Has it attacked him?" Cara shook her head. "This was bought in a Muggle toy shop," Draco informed her. "Muggles would never have dangerous toys in their shops. And my little cousin, Teddy— he's eight— his grandmother let's him play with one. She wouldn't let him if it were harmful. And I wouldn't get you one if it were going to hurt you, Cara."

Cara looked up at Draco with her mouth at a slight gap. "Yous... got me one to play with, Drakko?"

Draco nodded. He smiled. "I sure did. And your sisters got one each too." He cocked his head to look at them, narrowing his eyes. "I don't think they much want to play with one though."

Cara nodded sadly. "They only wants to colour..."

"Well... if that's what they want to do, more fun for us!"

"It's bad..." Cara told him seriously, staring at her sisters.

"You could colour with them," Hermione suggested.

"No!" Cara shrieked.

"Alright, no need to raise your voice to an irritating level." Draco sighed. "Play with the wicked Muggle toy truck then?"

Cara gave the pink Monster truck a look over, and Draco actually thought she was going to play with it, but instead, she looked away sadly and shook her head. "No," she said. "I can't play. I watch over Cinny and Nora. I want to try and get them to stop colouring."

"Why?"

"I tells you already!" Cara shrieked again, nearing tears. "It's bad!"

"It's not bad," Hermione argued.

"You no listen!" Cara pushed from Hermione and crossed her arms over her chest. "They don't listen!" She gestured to her sisters. "No one listens!" Cara burst out crying. "No one!"

"We are listening!" Hermione hugged her. "Why is coloring bad?"

"Just look!" Cara demanded helplessly, pointing at her sisters. "Look!"

Draco and Hermione watched the two other girls. They sat there, discussing what colour a bat should be. Elenore wanted to color the bat red, but Cinzia insisted that bats only come in one colour— black.

"Some bats are white," Elenore pointed out. "I seen one bafore."

"But they're never red, Nora."

"Dis one is wed." And Elenore coloured the bat with the red crayon that she had had in her hand.

"I see nothing wrong..." Hermione announced, nibbling her lip, giving Cara a concerned look.

The girl sighed. "Just tell them to stop!"

"No, Cara," Draco scolded her gently. "They are doing nothing wrong—"

"Yes, they are!" Cara shouted angrily, stomping her foot. "They are, you're just not knowing! You're not listening!"

"Stop shouting at me. I am listening—"

"You aren't!" She then kicked him in the shin.

"Ow! Don't kick me!"

"You don't listen!" She kicked him again. "I'll kick you 'til you do!"

"Alright, then, Cara," Draco started, lifting her up into his arms. "You will go sit in your room until you calm down!" He took the kicking and screaming girl to her room and set her at the door, just inside it.

"No, Drakko, please!" Cara wailed as he went to shut the door. "I don't want to!"

Draco pursed his lips. The pathetic look on her face nearly made him cave, but she had kicked him, and while he wasn't personally harmed from it, she may eventually do it to one of the other kids. "We'll see how you feel in fifteen minutes," he told her sternly, shutting her in the bedroom.

Pounding immediately followed behind him. "Drakko!" she cried. "Please, don't leave me here alone! I'll be nice!"

He chose to ignore her. The girl just needed to calm down and be by herself for a while. This was what Blaise had told him to do when she would get out of hand.

"Cara's very independent, doing most things without requiring the help of Marietta or I, but she has this thing about being alone— which is strange, since she doesn't want to share a bedroom. We've learned that when she has one of her tantrums, we just send her to her room for a few minutes to be alone. She tends to calm down quickly, as she knows that's the only way she'll get to come back out. It helps me too— to have time to myself and clear my mind to think, but often, I'm not given such an option unless I just leave the home for a few hours."

And now that Draco knew more about his friend's failing marriage, he understood what Blaise had meant when he had said that.

Sure enough, after retrieving Cara fifteen minutes later, her mood was a little better. She still didn't want to play though. Not with the Monster trucks, not the little piano, and she didn't want to colour either.

Hermione and Draco exchanged looks as the girl silently sat down on the sofa, tucking her feet underneath her. She wouldn't do anything but watch her sisters, and occasionally, the Monster truck that Scorpius kept crashing into things with.

Maybe she would feel better when Blaise came over. The two were close. Rightfully so; having the same condition could do that people. Draco would see when Blaise could come over and visit his daughters.

As it turned out, when Draco explained the situation soon after, Blaise came over relatively quick. His daughters had all shrieked when it was announced that he was here. They all ran to the flooing room where Blaise was just coming out of it. He saw them coming, likely heard them coming, and got down on one knee just in time for the three girls to plow into him. They all spoke at once, and no one could make sense of what they were saying. Blaise repeatedly kissed them all on their cheeks and heads, speaking in Italian.

"Mi sei mancato," he was whispering with his eyes closed, squeezing them all.

Cara then started sobbing. "Papa!"

"I know, my little gumdrop, I know... Shush now, no crying. You'll not cry when you see what I have brought for you."

"What'd you bring, Papa?!" Cinzia asked, pulling from him, and searching around him. She caught sight of his bag behind him at his feet.

"Not yet." Blaise stopped her from grabbing it. "I'll get it out. Alright, stand before me, I want to get a good look at my beautiful, little angels," he said, pushing himself up to his feet. He took out a cloth from his pants pocket and wiped his sniffing nose. He smiled down at them as they fidgeted eagerly, excited to learn what he had brought for them. "Be very careful with it." He reached his hand into the bag and when he removed it, there was a black and white cat with yellow eyes attached to his arm.

"Kitty Kat Whiskers!" Cara exclaimed and reached up to pet the cat. The cat meowed and rubbed its face against the girl's hand as she went to pet it. "Thank you, Papa! I've been wanting to see her!"

"Me too!" chimed Elenore, petting the cat that Cara had taken from her father and cradled to her chest.

"Want to know a secret?" Blaise whispered to his daughters. He looked around in pretend caution, seeing Draco and Hermione watching from down the hall. "Only Draco and Miss Granger can know, okay?"

"Okay!" The girls nodded.

"Kitty Kat Whiskers is going to be a mama!" he announced gleefully.

"Babies?!" Elenore squeaked.

"Kittens!" Cara cheered.

"Can we keep them, Papa?!" Cinzia asked pleadingly.

Blaise scrunched up his face, thinking about it. "We'll have to see first. Perhaps you can keep one."

"Yay!"

"But we'll have to see!" he reminded them firmly.

"Kitty Kat can cowour wiff us!" Elenore said, racing back to the playroom. "Come, Papa!" she called behind her. "We all cowour!"

"No, we don't want to colour!" Cara shouted. "Papa doesn't want to do that! He can plays with me. Right, Papa?" She looked up at him, smiling. "You can sing to us."

"He can sing to us while we colour!" Cinzia reasoned, and took Blaise's hand, leading him away.

"No!"

"We take turns, bambina, remember?" Blaise told her gently, holding out his hand for her to take.

"It's bad though, Papa..." Cara said softly, touching her hand to his, looking down at her feet.

"How is it bad, Cara?" Blaise asked seriously.

Cara's face wrinkled. She closed her eyes and groaned. "It just is!"

"We'll all colour," Hermione spoke up, nudging Draco as Blaise and the girls passed them.

'What?' Draco mouthed.

"Let's show her that there's nothing wrong with activity."

"I don't really want to colour," he muttered as they followed Blaise, who was being escorted by his two eldest daughters to the playroom. "That's something ninnies do."

"You'll be doing it with your own daughter one day. She'll want her daddy to do everything with her."

Draco sighed, thinking about all the things he would be forced to do with his daughter. He rubbed his forehead. He'd make damn sure she wasn't going to want to be a ballerina. He refused to picture himself in tights and pink dancing outfits.

He looked at Blaise. The man had practically admitted to doing it for his own daughters. He was fully devoted to those little girls. Would Draco end up being the same way? He had already bought his unborn daughter a piece of pink clothing (something he had never thought he'd ever buy), and he was already starting to dictate what she could and couldn't do.

He about groaned out loud as Hermione pushed him toward the table where the colouring took place at. He would try his hardest not to become that type of father. He didn't want to embarrass himself! His little girl would just have to understand that men had reputations and a dignity to keep!

He was already finding it hard though. The way Blaise's girls look up at their father was awfully good. Complete trust and admiration. Draco was finding that he wanted that too.

Hermione set a crayon into Draco's hand and coaxed him to colour.

"Papa! Please don't do this!" Cara pleaded.

"Everything is alright, Cara." Blaise pulled his middle child into his lap. "Settle down, gumdrop."

Draco reluctantly brought the crayon down onto the piece of paper that had been ripped out of the colour book for him. He was supposed to colour in Hermione's old cat. Crooksyanks. No, that wasn't it. He shook his head, slightly annoyed that he couldn't remember the bloody cat's name. Not like it really mattered anymore. He did remember that it was orange though, which so happened to be the colour that Hermione had given him to colour with.

He pressed the crayon to the paper, scribbling at it, starting with straight lines, then switching into circles. His head went a little fuzzy. Cara's upset voice seemed to... Well, he wasn't sure exactly what was happening. He could still hear her, but only just a little. It was like she had been muffled. Or... were his ears plugged...?

He stuck his finger in his ear, wiggling it.

He looked across the table at Cinzia, whose voice easily overrode Cara's. "I'm going to give Ronald Weasley a yellow shirt this time!"

Draco blinked in confusion. He was trying to make sense of this, but his brain was wandering, unable to focus on much.

Besides... colouring that was.

What should I use for the colour of the cat's stripes?

He smacked a palm to his forehead. It didn't help to clear his mind whatsoever.

What in Merlin's fuck was going on with him?! If he didn't know any better, he'd swear someone had just given him a potion of confuzzlement.

"Draco?" He could hear Hermione fine.

"The stripes," he spoke up, when he tried explaining his problem to her. "I don't know what colour they should be." Draco closed his eyes and tried to say something different. His tongue seemed tired. His mind was tired..

"White," Hermione answered. She had busied herself with her own paper. He stole a peek at her picture. She was colouring Potter and his owl.

"Drakko!" Cara pushed at Draco's back and Blaise scolded her for it.

"You don't do that to people, Cara!"

"It's okay, Cara," Draco found himself saying, struggling against his mind. He was starting to realize that he had no power over his actions and words. "Come colour with me."

Shit...

I must be drugged, he decided.

The spell was much too strong to fight, but he continued attempting to get back control of his body and mind. Draco fought against himself as he held up the orange crayon that Elenore asked for. He felt it leave his fingers and before he knew it, he had involuntarily filled his empty fingers with a black one.

"I need..."

HELP!

"...yellow," Draco said, as he was forced to concentrate on the cat's eyes. Cinzia gave him a yellow crayon.

Crayon exchanging and colouring went on until someone took Draco's crayon from him. "Stop it!" Cara shrieked out.

"If you wanted to colour, Cara, you could have just said so," Hermione told her. "Here." She ripped out a picture for the girl.

"Oh, that's a nice one," Blaise said encouragingly. "That's with Hagrid's hut!"

Cara pressed between Hermione and Draco and began gathering up all the crayons, hysterically mumbling things under her breath.

Deep within, Draco was cheering her, and trying to tell her to get every single one, because something was up with them. She had been trying to tell them all along that something was wrong with them, and they hadn't understood.

"Stop that, Cara," Blaise was scolding her gently. "You don't need to ruin everyone's fun just because you don't want to participate." He took her away from the table then. His voice was hushed now. Draco couldn't hear him. The spell he was under wouldn't let him hear much.

Although, when it came down to the subject of the colouring, he heard everything perfectly clear.

"Where's the red one?" Cinzia asked.

"I think Cara took it," Hermione immediately informed. Draco watched as she struggled with her hand movement. She was fighting the spell too.

"Mina!"

Scorpius...!

Draco could hear him better than he could hear Blaise, but he guessed that that was because he was nearer.

His son was smart and they were bonded, maybe he could help! Draco tried with all his might to talk to Scorpius, but his lips wouldn't move to say the words he wanted to say.

"Dawcadah?"

'Yes, son, help us!' Draco thought over and over, hoping that he could send some message telepathically. 'We've been charmed— or something!'

"Derblah!" the baby wailed. Draco felt his son grab a hold of his pants and stand himself up. "Mina?" he questioned, tapping Hermione's leg with a hand.

A small grunt came from Hermione, no doubt a reaction to her resisting whatever spell they were under.

"Cara, they aren't spelled." Blaise's voice approached. "They're just colouring."

"Yes, Papa! They are! They won't do nothing but colour now!"

"Dahs!" Scorpius chimed. "Mina! Derblah!" he cried.

Something thunked Draco in the side of the head. It didn't hurt, but he felt it, and it echoed throughout his head.

"Oi, Draco, you alright?"

'No! I'm not alright! Help me break this spell!'

"Sure, Blaise, have a seat and colour with us."

"Si, Papa!" Elenore said. "Wook at my picture!"

"That's very pretty, sweety— Draco are you under some sort of spell?"

"Course... not..." Draco struggled with the words. He had almost managed to bust out of the spell.

"He's lying!"

"Cara! That's not a nice thing to say!"

"Papa, listen! Listen to me!"

"Bahdon." Scorpius was trying to tell Blaise about the bond. Unfortunately, Blaise didn't speak baby talk. "Bahdon!"

"Oh, Scorpy, my little baby. See what I've done to Hedwig."

"Bahdon," Scorpius continued to say. Then Draco felt Scorpius loop his arms around his arm and hang from it, knocking it down from the table. "Mina! Mina!"

Draco's head cleared then. He pushed himself from the table. Tossing the crayon across the room, he picked his son up and kissed him. "Thank you, chomper," he said in heavy relief. Hermione wrapped her arms around Draco and Scorpius, panting.

"What happened?!" she demanded.

"Oh, Merlin...!" Blaise slapped his forehead. "You were under a spell!"

"I told you!" Cara snapped. "And theys got Nora and Cinny too!" She waved her hand at her sisters. The adults made a mad dash to the girls when she said that.

"What kind of spell is this?" Blaise asked, gently shaking Elenore. "Come on, honey."

"Papa! Don't! I'm cowouring!"

"You're messing her page up, Papa!"

Hermione snatched the colouring pages from under the girls' hands and ripped them. They started screeching unhappily,

"It's the crayons!" Draco started plucking them all off the table. "Get all the crayons!"

"No! Papa! Don't!"

"Why are you doing that?! Our work!"

Hermione let the shredded paper flutter to the floor and took her wand out. She pointed it first at Elenore. A pinkish light emerged from the end of the wand, and clouded around her head. Then it faded. Elenore blinked and looked around. She whimpered when she saw Blaise and raised his arms up to him, her way of telling him to pick her up.

"You're alright now, Nora," he murmured softly.

"I don't ever want to cowour again!" the little girl sobbed.

Cinzia reacted much like Draco had when she was released from the spell. She backed up from the table, eyeing the chair, saying nothing.

"You okay, Cinzia?" Hermione asked, walking to her and setting a hand to her shoulder.

Cinzia let out one sob and shrugged from Hermione's hand. She ran to Cara and hugged her. "You knew...! How did you know?! Why didn't you get spelled?!"

"I don't know... I don't know!" Cara replied helplessly.

"Who would do this?" Blaise asked.

Hermione bit one of her fingernails. "I had Toogy buy some new crayons yesterday, but they didn't seem strange to me..."

Draco shook his head. "No, Cara had been trying to tell us before yesterday."

"That's right... The day after—" Hermione's eyes went wide. Then she softened them. "I don't know how it was possible. The crayons and colouring books had been replaced when Cara tore them all apart."

"Some not!" Cara explained. "You stopped me! I didn't break all the crayons! They mixed with the other ones..."

"Still doesn't explain who did it." Blaise sighed, setting his hands on his hips in thought.

"Mama did it, Papa..." Cara mumbled.

Blaise snorted. "Cara, your mama wouldn't—"

"The girls were fine until she came over," Hermione interrupted.

"Well, they screamed at each other before her visit," Draco added. "Then miraculously they were little, golden angels. And the day that they were at the Ministry, they were colouring then too. Heavily absorbed, I may add. Just like they've been these last couple days."

Blaise shook his head in disbelief. "She loves those girls... why would she..." he trailed off as his eyes went out of focus.

Cara wrapped her arms around one of her father's legs. "She don't, Papa," Cara informed him hollowly. "Mama don't like us very much, she says we take too much of her time away. She just pretends. It's all pretend!"

"It can't be true..." Blaise brought Cara into his arms and kissed her tear streaked cheek.

"I heard her say it!" Cara cried. "To... to... Xandor!"

Blaise's face then turned sour, he lowered the girl to the floor and took his wand out. He stalked across the room to the exit.

Oh, shite. Draco didn't like that face. "Blaise!"

"Zabini!" Hermione raced after the two wizards.

"Don't do it, Blaise!"

"All this time...!" Blaise bellowed. "I knew she was just pretending her love for me! But... to... say you don't love your daughters? To put a charm on them so they are not a bother?! This is unacceptable! I will not let her get away with it!"

"There's no proof, mate!" Draco said hastily. "She'll pin it on you!"

"Not if I kill her first!"

"No, Zabini, you can't do that— think of the girls' future! You'll never see them again!"

"Blaise!" Draco stopped him from going into the floo with a spell. "Please, think about what you're about to do! Your kids will hate you, you'll be in Azkaban for life. Your life will be ruined!"

"If we caught her in the act, we could send her to Azkaban!" Hermione added.

"That's right!" Draco smirked. "Then if that happens, you're free! You get to keep the girls and everything, all without her!"

Blaise's face softened, his shoulders relaxed. "Okay," he muttered slowly. "How do I get rid of the bitch once and for all?"

*/*

The ClickCaps were an amazing product, not only could they capture beautiful moments in life, but also really ugly ones, providing live action evidence that could send someone to prison for many years.

Marietta was a smart witch, but she was nothing against Hermione or Draco, and when the two got together, molding their minds, she went down fast and hard.

It was simple really. Hermione had collected all the crayons and between all the adults, they were able to tell which of the crayons had been charmed with the hypnotic spell. Blaise was able to explain why he and Cara weren't affected by the spell, claiming that most potions or spells that affected the mind (be it good or bad) wouldn't work on them. And yes, he had claimed that also counted with more powerful ones, such as the imperius curse.

"Unless perhaps it was done someone really powerful, like Merlin himself."

To catch Marietta in the act, they hired a few house-elves to station near by unseen, each with a ClickCap. Hermione sent a simple, sweet letter informing Marietta that the girls would love to see her again. From here, they took a gamble, because last time she had brought over crayons, so they had hoped she would do it again.

And she did. Draco wasted no time comparing the crayons with the ones she sent over before, and normal ones that they had all bought that day (all this was being recorded on numerous ClickCaps).

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Marietta denied the accusation immediately.

"Where did you get those crayons?" Harry asked, stepping into the room. They had all thought it would help if the Boy-Who-Lived was involved.

Marietta began twisting her hands together. "I bought them..."

Harry inspected the crayons. "Did you charm these crayons at all? In anyway?"

She shook her head.

"Then you wouldn't mind taking a sip of Veritaserum?"

"Okay, I'll do it." She pulled a chair from the colouring table and sat. A determined look on her face. The rest of her body shook.

"We'll only ask questions pertaining to your family life," Harry explained, "So, you have nothing to worry about— since you're innocent." He handed her the potion and her eyes scanned the room to the different people that were there. Marietta took a deep breath and then a very small sip.

"Did you ever care about me?" Blaise instantly asked. "Or was your love a hoax from the get go?"

"Mr. Zabini, let me ask the questions."

"I purposely got pregnant with Cinzia, knowing you'd do the proper thing and marry me. It was for money, yes," Marietta answered without a pause.

"Did you charm your daughters, Mrs. Zabini?"

Blaise scoffed. "She'll not be a Zabini after all this!" he muttered.

"Merlin, be quiet, Blaise," Draco warned, catching notice of Harry's narrowing eyes.

Marietta was tilting her head, struggling with answering this one. "N-No," she gasped out finally.

"Did you charm the crayons?"

Her lips pursed, and her eyes clenched close. She shook her head. "No...! Yes! Yes! I did do it! But, oh, they were such monsters! Fighting over the littlest things! Saying how much nicer their papa is and how mean I am because I wouldn't sing or read them stories. But, oh, Papa, who drinks himself into a stupor every night was the best! So I wanted that too! Is that so bad?! I wanted them to like me too! Because, yes, it made me look like a horrid mother. They wouldn't mind a word I said, running around, getting into everything! I wanted respect! I am their mother, they should listen to me!"

"Mrs. Zabini," Harry started slowly. "Do you love your daughters?"

It took her a moment before she replied. "Not as much as I probably should."

"And have you once been unfaithful to your husband?"

"Several times," she answered automatically with a sneering smile. "Blaise just doesn't have the ability to please me anymore. And I wouldn't doubt that he wouldn't be able to please any woman. Unless, you just want to dance with him. He's good then, but after you get past the dry humping, he's dull."

"Are we done?" Blaise snapped, balling up his fists, glowing red with humiliation.

Harry gave Marietta a potion to cancel the Veritaserum. "We're finished. Do you want to press for charges on your wife, Mr. Zabini?"

"I'll give you the choice, my darling wife." Blaise crossed his arms over his chest, setting his jaw. "The first one is that you can go to Azkaban, spend fifteen years there, rotting in a cell for mistreating your children and your husband—" He nodded to the house-elf who had been assigned to watch the two of them during this whole ordeal. "—or, you can sign a divorce parchment, which will include forfeiting your rights to any and all my money, and the children that you could care less about. This way, you have the option to spend your life with that Muggle Xandor, in whom you thought would make a better husband than I was ever capable of, and I'll never have to see your skanky arse again! So, what will it be, Etty?"

*/*

"Are you excited to go home?" Hermione was helping Cara pack her things two days later.

Cara nodded. "Papa says we can keeps all of Kitty Kat Whiskers' kittens when they are born! And I just thinks we will all be happy now. Papa too! Cinny and Nora even says that I can come and live in their bedroom!"

"Do you want to do that?"

Cara shrugged. "I think I'll be better now. I still has pozione to take, but if I'm happier, I won't hurt no ones."

"Well, we're going to miss you so much!" Hermione hugged the little girl.

"I'll come back to play. Papa said so! And maybe Cinny and Nora and me can plays with the Monster trucks all together with you, Draco, and Scorpius!"

"We sure can."

"And you can do our hair cause Mama won't be around to do its. Papa is worse than yous at it," she whispered the last, grinning.

Hermione laughed. "I'd like to do that." She definitely needed practice for her little girl.

"Do you hear that?" Draco asked later that night. They were snuggled against each other on the sofa, sipping wine. He put an arm around Hermione, digging his nose into her mane of hair. "Silence. Things are going to be normal again. Well, minus this..." He set his hand to her stomach and rubbed it. "I'm going to be here for you this time, Hermione," he told her seriously. "Whatever you need, I'm going to be right here. That is a promise."

She smiled. "We'll just have to see. Wait until I get bitchy."

"I can hardly wait," he whispered, kissing the corner of her mouth.

"Excuses me, Master," Toogy politely interrupted them. "But Mr. Potter is at the floo."

Draco groaned. "What now?!"

"Oh, he says that his wife is in labour now, and he wants Miss. Hermione to come to St. Mungo's."

"Ginny's in labour?!" Hermione shrieked excitedly and ran to the floo.

Chapter Text

AN: Haven't gotten to write much these last couple weeks. My grandma is finally out of the nursing home which had been neglecting her. She's in poor health, was starved nearly to death, and requires a TON of care right now. I am having to help her around the clock, because she's so weak that she can barely walk. I'm hardly getting sleep because of it, and constantly cooking and cleaning because she has to eat SO many times a day right now. Today was good though, so I got to write almost 2,000 words. Enough to finally post an update.

 

Hope ya enjoy, and thanks for reading. You guys are awesome!


 

Like her mother, Ginny was fortunate enough to have speedy deliveries. Hermione was envious of her red-headed friend who had succumbed only four hours of labour before little Lily Luna Potter came into the world, loudly screaming her displeasure of leaving the comfort of her mother's womb.

Luna, Hermione, and Molly hovered over Ginny, and all four of them goggled over the newborn. Lily was wide awake, staring at the face of her mother.

"Oh, she's so precious!" Molly squealed. She bent down to kiss her daughter's clammy forehead. "You and Harry make such beautiful babies! Look at that red hair!" She started tearing up then, pressing a tissue to her eyes. "My little girl has a little girl now. I'm so blessed!"

"Okay, let's let Harry and the others come in, Mum," Ginny suggested awkwardly. She hated seeing people cry.

Harry learned when James was born that he couldn't handle being in the same room as Ginny when she was in labour. The sight of the crowning baby head had made him so queasy, he had thrown up right in the room.

Hermione called the anxious people in to meet the new addition of the Potter family. It was late, so Albus and James had been left with Percy who happily volunteered to watch over them for the night, but Harry, Neville, Arthur, and the rest of Ginny's brothers were there.

Pictures were taken as Harry held the baby first (by Ginny's request: she felt the father should always be the second to hold the baby, and no one disagreed with her). Harry's smile was ginormous, but he nervously chuckled while he held Lily, especially so when George made jokes about what a little hellraizer Harry was to expect of her. "We Weasleys never go light, Harry."

Harry laughed. "I know."

"The girls especially," Molly added. "Good thing we stopped at one."

"Oh, I wasn't that bad, Mum!"

"Only cause you were smart enough not to get caught!" Ron joked.

"Lily will be too," Hermione said. "Unless she takes after Harry."

Harry groaned. "God have mercy on me please!"

"You'll be alright, Harry!" Arthur told him, patting Harry's shoulder. "You've done well so far."

"She's very cute, Gin," Luna commented once she had gotten to hold the tiny Lily, wiping a tear from her eye. "I hope I can be the best godmother. Thank you for giving me the opportunity."

"You'll do just fine," Ginny assured her, grinning.

Luna eyed Lily in awe, in immense disbelief that she had been truly made the girl's godmother AND that the baby was named after her. She actually cried, but they were happy tears. "Nev and I can't wait to have our own little babies!" She hugged Lily close to her. "I hope they are as pretty and as well behaved as yours are."

Ginny snorted. "Don't curse yourself, Luna."

"I'll second that!" Harry added, laughing.

*/*

"Another set of godparents?" Draco asked when Hermione came back early in the morning. He had waited up for her, even though he knew it could take hours for a woman to have a baby. "What's going to happen if something does happen to them? Surely the Potter children won't be separated?"

"Of course not, Draco." Though Hermione found his concern for Harry's children quite amusing, she refrained from laughing. "If it happened, and God forbid it does, I'm sure Ron, Luna, Neville, and I could work something out where all the kids— Teddy included, could stay together."

Draco nodded absently. "I guess we should start the discussion of choosing our own the godparents for our little girl..."

"Do you have a suggestion?" She was a little skeptical since Draco didn't have many friends, and hardly any she'd deem worthy enough to look over her children.

He nodded slowly, carefully eyeing her. "For a godfather of course. I don't know many women, and not any who's close enough to assign my child's life to."

"Okay...?" she prompted him to say the name.

Draco drew in a breath. "I was thinking of Gregory."

"Goyle?"

"Yes, he's grown up a lot. I believe he's responsible enough."

Hermione raised her eyebrows. She had expected him to call out Zabini's name, but now that she thought about it, her boyfriend may had thought that the Italian man probably had too much on his plate at this given time. So, who else would Draco suggest besides Zabini and Goyle? He wasn't very close to anyone. He likely only helped Zabini because of the whole Slytherin thing. They didn't appear to be best of friends or anything.

"Listen," Draco started when she had made no verbal response over his suggestion. "He's a bone Healer now—"

"He is?" Hermione was impressed by this.

"I know. It's hard to believe. I should have been a better friend. He wasn't entirely stupid. He did make it to fifth year potions."

"We kind of just thought that that was because Professor Snape was your Head of House."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Hermione, Snape played favourites, but he wouldn't put anyone into Advanced Potions if they couldn't handle it. That's risking a whole lot of lives, his included. Gregory and Vincent were relatively book smart, without needing many study sessions for tests. They could have done much better if they applied themselves more though. Unfortunately, food was most important to them."

"But can Goyle handle a child? Does he have the patience to do it? The love?"

"He's going to have his own daughter soon, and he stuck by his Muggle wife, choosing her over me when I was being a prick hole. So yes, I believe he would make a decent godfather for our daughter. A typical Slytherin puts those who he loves first. Gregory has shown he can do that."

Hermione bit her lip. She wanted to include Draco on this choice since he wasn't involved when it came to choosing Scorpius's godfather and godmother, but she was still undecided.

"You don't have to agree today," Draco told her gently, likely thinking that she'd reject the idea too quickly. "We can still think on it. But I beg of you, let's not burden Potter with anymore children. He has three of his own fulltime, Teddy most of the time, and Merlin knows how many more godchildren he has or will have."

She gave a nod in thought, agreeing with his reasoning. "And Ron is out of the question?" she asked with a tiny, knowing grin.

Draco snorted. "To put it nicely: No-fucking-thank-you!"

*/*

Scorpius played with a blue plastic ring on his baby walker, spinning it around really fast, making it blur. He studied the colour while listening to his parents talk about what they wanted to name his upcoming little sister. He giggled out loud when Derbla expressed his opinion on one name that Mina had just suggested.

"And what's wrong with Jane?!"

"It's much too Muggle for a Malfoy."

"Well, I certainly don't want to call her Cassiopeia! The name's a mouthful! Worse than mine is!"

"We could call her Cassie."

"Cassie?! No, we can't! There was a girl in primary school named Cassie who constantly made fun of me. No, we're not going to name her that!"

Derbla sighed. "I want to follow my mother's family theme tradition. The baby would be completely out of place if she's not named after a star."

"I always wanted to name my daughter Diana Jane." Mina folded her arms across her chest and looked sternly at Derbla, daring him to argue.

"Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the father of your child would hate that name? Besides, you named Scorpius—"

"I did not!" Mina barked. "The bond did that! I wasn't sure what to call him, since I went through nearly the entire pregnancy thinking he wasn't going to be mine!"

"Which all the more means that the children I sire should be named with my family's naming tradition; even the bond knew that," Derbla pointed out with a smirk.

"You're being arrogant again," Mina said warningly.

Derbla put a hand up to his forehead. "Maybe we can find a name that suits what we both want."

Mina huffed. "I doubt it. Most of the names that you're picking are so old fashioned."

"They're unique!"

"And her peers will tease her for such a ridiculous name! Do you know what it's like to be teased?! You don't! Not day in and day out!"

Derbla stiffened and took a slow drink of his tea. Scorpius watched them closely in silence. This conversation wasn't going all too well. He'd have to do something if they didn't reel back a little.

"Well, that was a bit of a low blow, Hermione," Derbla muttered coldly a few moments later.

Mina suddenly looked ashamed. Her face reddened a little. "I'm sorry," she mumbled quickly. "I wasn't exactly meaning you—"

"Who else would you mean? It was I who had constantly made fun of you."

Mina lifted her shoulder up. "It wasn't just you... I mean, I could write a novel on how rotten you used to be, but the girls in my dorm room were awful too. They found me incredibly annoying. The Ravenclaw girls in our year were jealous of me and my grades, so they nicked at me any chance they got. If it wasn't for the adventures Harry, Ron, and I went on, I would have had a terrible childhood, lacking any friends. I was sorted into Gryffindor for a reason. The hat saw it. I needed to 'get out' more. Books are great, but they don't make decent friends to socialize with."

Derbla placed his arm around Mina and pulled her to him. He kissed the top of her head. Scorpius was relieved to see this. His parents were getting better at talking through their problems instead of going straight to fighting. Although, each of them still had a habit of getting offended over the tiniest statement the other said.

"Things are different now. No one is going to tease you anymore," Derbla told her. "You're a heroine. An idol. And your children will be too— even if we pick a dumb ordinary name like Rose to name our daughter."

Mina's eyes lit up. "Oh! Rose! I like—"

"No, I didn't say that for an actual suggestion!" Derbla groaned. "My daughter is not going to have a name that a Weasley would choose!"

"Idah!" Scorpius squealed from his place near them. He slapped the tray of his walker excitedly, gaining his parents' attention.

Derbla slid off the sofa and approached him on his hands and knees. "You want to help name your baby sister?" There was a lever on Scorpius's walker and he flipped it to play a musical tune. Scorpius laughed at it and mimicked his father's move.

"Dahs!" Scorpius answered. "Idah!"

"How can he help?" Mina asked with interest.

Scorpius pinched of bit of his hair and pulled at it gently. "Haffs!"

"Haffs?" Derbla questioned, not understanding him thoroughly.

"Dahs! Haffs!" He pointed across the way to a set of drawers. "Haffs!"

Mina got up to look inside the drawer. "Third one down," Derbla supplied.

"That's where all his hats are," she informed.

"Hat?" Derbla asked Scorpius.

Scorpius nodded, smiling wide. "Haffs!"

"We're not calling your sister 'hat'." Derblah laughed.

"No..." Mina said, fingering a crocheted red hat that she insisted Scorpius wear every time he went outside. "But maybe..." Her eyes widened. "I have an idea!" she gasped excitedly and hurried over to them. "What if we let Scorpius pick one of our names out of a hat, and who ever he picks gets to choose the first name, and the other gets to pick the middle."

"Dahs!" Scorpius threw himself back in his seat. Mina was starting to understand him more lately. This was a good thing. Mina was not a baby whisperer like Derbla was.

Derbla thought it over. He nodded slowly. "That sounds fair enough, that way, we each get to choose a name."

"And it involves our little Scorpy in the whole deal!"

Derbla and Mina gave Scorpius kisses on his cheeks then, making him laugh.

Scorpius was going to be a good brother to his little sister. That much he promised to himself and to his Derbla and Mina.

A week later, Scorpius eyed the baby Lily Luna Potter over. Mina had brought him with her while she visited her friends. All Albus and James wanted to do was show their baby sister off. Scorpius figured he will probably do the same thing with his own sister once she was out of Mina's tummy.

Scorpius only hoped that his sister wouldn't cry as much as Lily did though. Lily didn't like being left alone, so anytime she couldn't see someone in her eyesight, she'd scream. Albus and James would eagerly run to her, often showing up before their parents could, and they would then make silly faces at her. She'd stop crying after that, and she would try to laugh, but Lily was too young to laugh just yet.

Scorpius tried copying the older boys. He was thinking that he may need to learn how to act and look silly for his sister for when she would become unhappy and needed attention. Albus and James laughed at him because his attempts to mimic them were not very good ones, but he was determined to get it right. He was going to help Mina and Derbla with his sister, because that's what big brothers do. Albus and James were good big brothers. Scorpius was going to learn lots from them.

"Peeus is so funny!" Albus giggled.

"Ew, he drools like you, Al!"

"No, he does not!"

"Does so!"

"No!"

"Okay, who started it this time?!" Their mother came in with her hands on her hips. Both Albus and James pointed at each other, their eyes glaring daggers.

Scorpius returned to his task, sticking his fingers into the corners of his mouth, trying to stretch it out wide like James had done. Lily's chin dropped in awe, and her eyes grew, wondering how he was able to do that.

It was good enough for now, Scorpius decided. His sister would likely do the same thing as Lily when he showed her what he could do to make her happy. Lily made for good practice for when his sister would come.

*/*

"How did your friends react to your news?" Draco asked as he attempted to feed Scorpius a bowl of stewed beef that Hermione had ground up for him.

Hermione took a bite from her meal, looking a bit on the meek side. "I didn't tell them."

Draco's eyebrows raised up. "I thought that was the point of your visit with them?"

"Yes, well, I decided against it." She stabbed a slice of baked potato with a fork and swirled it around her plate, covering it with the juice from the beef she had cooked for dinner.

Her answer confused Draco. Once he had adapted to the thought of having a daughter, she had been fairly excited about the upcoming baby. They had even gone shopping for a few things. A few very girly things. Their home was going to burst with the colour of the Stomach Settler potion (which was obviously pink) by the time the baby was born.

"And why did you change your mind? It's quite exciting news for you to share, Mione."

She popped the piece of potato into her mouth, chewing it thoroughly before replying. "I was just thinking that..." Hermione looked down at her plate. "Maybe your parents should know about our baby before everyone else."

Draco lowered the spoon that had been posed in front of Scorpius's awaiting mouth. He stared at her a moment and only took his eyes off her when his son wailed out anxiously, wanting to eat. He allowed Scorpius to take control of the spoon who sloppily tried feeding himself— with little success.

Draco got up from his seat and stood behind Hermione, grasping onto her shoulders, squeezing them gently. "Is that so?" he asked, bending down and nuzzling his face into her mane of hair.

"Family should come first..." she murmured, closing her eyes as he massaged her tight muscles.

He chuckled at her comment. It was such a sweet thing to say, and do— holding off from telling her famous Harry Potter friend that she was expecting another child, all so his parents could be told about it first. How nice of her to do that.

But then Draco frowned. It was a sweet gesture, but it was also just a bit sad. "I thought you considered your friends... family though?"

Hermione gave a small shrug. "It's not the same..." She leaned her head forward and she started to sob.

She missed them. Her own parents. Her own family.

Draco didn't know what to say to make her feel better, so he didn't say much besides, "It's okay." and "Shh." He wrapped his arms around her body and kissed her. There wasn't anything else he could do to help her. She had to let herself go once in awhile.

He was sure her pregnancy hormones had something to do with this breakdown too.

Draco felt horrible. How she had survived this long without her parents, he didn't know. She was so strong. He would not have lasted long if he didn't have his own mother and father around.

"My poor sweet, Mione," he whispered to her. "It'll be okay, love."

"And just what is this?" Father pointed to a mushy looking side dish. He and Mother had been invited over the next night for dinner, and he was a little reluctant to eat after discovering that Hermione had been the one to cook the meal and not a house-elf.

"Polenta," Draco answered, serving himself a spoonful of it. "Hermione's mother used to make it for her when she was little."

Father's lip curled up, disgusted by the sight of it.

"Mum's recipe was made with chickpeas though," Hermione informed, taking the serving dish from Draco and spooning Scorpius some. "This one was made with cornmeal, and Scorpius loves it. Don't you, my baby?"

"Dahs!" Scorpius stuck a finger into the mess and then brought it into his mouth to suck on. "Mina, noom!"

Draco laughed. "Noom means yum," he translated for his parents, who smiled at the cuteness being displayed by their grandson.

"Oh, just let me feed my little, sweet grandbaby!" Mother cooed, scooting her chair closer to Scorpius and taking his tiny baby spoon to begin the process.

"Nan!" Scorpius cheered.

"You do realize there is room at the Manor for you, Draco?" Father spoke up, passing on the Polenta mush when Hermione held it out to him, and setting the dish back on the table— far away from him.

"Hermione likes it here." Draco avoided his girlfriend's look, busying himself with his food. He would love if she'd agree to move into Malfoy Manor, but he doubted she'd ever do it.

"And what about you?" Father addressed. "Doesn't any of your interests count too?"

"Lucius," Mother warned without even taking her eyes off Scorpius. "It is not your business." She cleaned up Scorpius's face with the spoon from the polenta that had slopped out of his mouth.

"We've learned to compromise," Hermione said quietly. "It's working for us."

To Draco's relief, Father ate a few bites of food quietly, making no comment. He was still a little leery about eating the food Hermione had made. He did a lot of shuffling it around on his plate, eyeing it over cautiously.

"You know, I've been cooking these last few months for both your son and grandson, Mr. Malfoy, I assure you that the food on your plate is perfectly safe to eat."

"Well, it tastes very lovely, Miss Granger," Mother complimented politely and took a bite from her own plate of food. "I especially like this—" She poked her fork to a side dish of sauteed Swiss chards. "Just lovely."

"Thank you, Mrs. Malfoy." Hermione tossed her a tiny smile.

"It's really not too bad," Father added after getting a dirty look from his wife. "Since a house-elf didn't prepare it, I expected it to taste much worse than this."

"It's terrific," Draco said. "Sometimes Hermione's food is better than a house-elf's."

"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that—" Father stopped himself when Mother cleared her throat with a warning.

"Noom!" Scorpius screeched, slamming his hand down on the tray to his high chair.

"It's right here, sweet pea!" Mother gave the baby another spoonful. Scorpius smiled and in the process, a mess of food squeezed out from between his lips. This made everyone laugh, which in turn made Scorpius laugh. He loved the attention he was getting. Hermione sprung up from her chair to clean his face.

"You're a messy eater," Father playfully scolded. "Just like your father used to be."

"He'll be fine in a few years," Draco assured him. "Hermione cleans up after him quickly."

"As if you don't?" Hermione tossed at him.

"Not as bad as you do, but I understand that a bit of dirt isn't going to harm him."

Scorpius fussed a little as Hermione excessively wiped his face clean before moving on to his hands.

Father leaned toward Draco. "I see what you mean," he muttered softly.

Draco grunted. "Mione, let chomper finish his meal before you start bathing him!"

"He'll get gunk all over your mother's dress!"

"Oh, he's just fine!" Mother assured her.

"And it's not like she can't have it cleaned." Father added, shaking his head. His eyes were shining with amusement though.

"You'd think after seven months, she'd learn," Draco joked.

"She's not dumb, son, just stubborn."

Hermione stood up straight, crumbling the wet wipe in her hand that she had been using to clean the baby up. She tilted her head, looking Father over, slightly surprised by his statement. She laughed. "You're absolutely right!" She sat down and took a drink of her water, a small smile frozen to her face. "My dad used to say that all the time to my mother," Hermione said a moment later. Her eyes were a bit misty with emotion.

Draco watched her uncomfortably, hoping she wouldn't cry now. Not in front of his parents. He'd feel so silly and helpless if she did— not something he wanted them to witness. "You alright, love?" he asked in concern.

Hermione nodded and wiped her eyes with a napkin. She laughed uneasily, embarrassed. "These damn hormones have gotten me all messed up."

Draco cleared his throat. They hadn't told his parents yet, and they weren't stupid. They were very smart, and had quickly understood what that meant.

"Hormones?" Mother asked. Her attention was off Scorpius now, eyes switching from Hermione to Draco and back again, seeking for an answer.

"Dabob!" Scorpius shrieked. "Mina, dabob!"

Hermione hid her face in her hands. "Oh, God!" she wailed. "I'm so sorry, Draco!"

Draco got up as fast as he could when she started crying and hurried to Hermione to comfort her. "Don't cry!" he pleaded, tapping her back. He swallowed hard and turned red, noticing his mother and father were staring at them.

"I didn't mean to let the cat out! I just—!"

"You're fine, Mione. Relax."

"Draco, what's going on, dear?" Mother asked. She attempted to look like she wasn't all too interested, but there was something about the way her eyebrows twitched that told Draco she was faking it.

"Hermione's pregnant."

"Is she?!" Mother squealed. "Oh, my stars!" Her voice got so high, it made Father jump. "Does that mean—?!" She stood up, smiling so widely. "It means so, right?! Lucius?!" Mother demanded for an answer.

Father shook his head. "Breathe, Narci," he instructed, delicately placing a forkful of food into his mouth. "Finish what you're trying to say, and stop speaking half-sentences."

"It's a girl?! Am I right?! I'm going to have a granddaughter?! Aren't I?!" Draco had never seen his mother react to something in such a way before. It nearly frightened him. She might have a heart attack right there on the spot.

"Yes," Draco answered. He winced as Mother screamed and fanned herself with a hand. "Oh, this is so wonderful!" She sprinted around the table, and took both Draco and Hermione into a hug. "Thank you! Oh, thank you! I always wanted a daughter, it just was never possible— I couldn't have anymore children after Draco, you see."

"Um..." Draco tapped his mother's hand. She was crying, happily crying, but still... "You're... welcome...?"

His father smirked, amused by the sight of their group hug and Mother's reaction. He wandlessly conjured up a ClickClap. "Alright, everyone smile and say, 'baby girl!'"

Mother's hug got tighter. She squealed excitedly, and screeched, "Baby girl!" Draco smiled softly, hearing Hermione's voice being drowned out by his mother's.

He took a deep breath. Well, this is going to be an interesting experience...

Chapter Text

AN: Grandma's doing better. Sleeping in the bed, getting in and out of it without any help. Eating well. Still has a ways to go, but the sky's blue, unlike it was before!

Thanks for caring and reading. Hope ye like!


 

"Relax, Draco." Hermione rolled her eyes, buttoning up Scorpius's tiny jacket. "We do this every three months. He'll be fine, just like the last time."

"Then what's the point in doing this in the first place?" He picked up Scorpius just as she finished snapping the last button to his jacket.

"It's a simple check-up," she said exasperatedly. "Just to be sure."

"Nokdah!" The baby touched a finger to his father's upper lip, fascinated by the thin layer of fuzz of hair that Hermione had requested he leave there (she had found it sexy, so he obliged to the request, given the 'rewards' that followed it).

"Quit that," Draco gently scolded, removing Scorpius's hand from his face. "That tickles, you!" He wiggled his own finger under Scorpius's chin, making the baby burst into a laughing fit. "Annoying, isn't it?!"

Scorpius answered with a squeal. He leaned back to escape Draco's teasing tickles, so far back that Draco had to adjust the way he held the baby so he wouldn't drop him. His heart thumped a little at the close call. He hugged his son close to him, grateful of his quick reflexes. He took a deep breath, steadying himself.

Thankfully, Hermione had had her back turned when that occurred. He'd never hear the end of it if she had seen that.

She was busy gathering the things she thought they needed for Scorpius's visit to the Healer who specialized in baby health. The carry bag she was loading up was stuffed full. She huffed in annoyance, having difficulties fitting a bottle of milk into the bag.

"Hermione, the Healer is going to spend twenty minutes with him, why do we need all that stuff? We won't be gone long."

"You never know!" she unintentionally snapped at him, irritated with the zipper that didn't want to cooperate. She took out Scorpius's chew toy and walked it over to them for Draco to take off her hands. "Success!" she cheered after the bottle was stuffed into the bag and it was zipped up tight.

"Let's get this out of the way then," Draco grumbled, stepping into the floo. She squeezed in next to him and threw the Floo powder at their feet, sucking them into the Floo Network.

"He's doing just wonderful," Healer Newton, a middle-aged witch, informed them almost an hour later. "He's at his proper weight for his age. And he's just a happy little one, aren't you, you little pot of giggle toads?" She took one of Scorpius's hand and gave it a playful shake.

Scorpius giggled. He then looked across the room and pointed at a dish full of coloured sweets. "Swooah!"

"Oh, you couldn't possibly want a lolly?!" Healer Newton gasped, teasingly.

"Dahs! Swooah!"

The Healer chuckled joyously and levitated a blue lollipop to the baby. She was smart enough to get sweets that were baby safe; the sticks charmed to never enter the baby's mouth, the hard candy instantly turning to a liquid if the children were to pop the sweet off the stick, it'd be nothing they could choke on.

"Baby Lickers," she had supplied the brand when Draco curiously asked who made them.

"He is the happiest baby I have ever met," Healer Newton gushed. "And so well behaved— he never cries like most of the other babies I see."

"We're blessed," Hermione said in honesty, leaning against Draco who set a hand to her shoulder. He nodded in agreement.

"I can just tell he's going to be the perfect big brother."

"That's our plan," Draco added, picking his son up off the examination table, and setting him at the floor of his feet so he could stand. Scorpius clung onto his father and took a couple steps around him, loudly slurping on his treat that had been given to him.

"But she'll not need him to defend her," Hermione insisted firmly. "She'll be able take care of herself."

Draco pecked his girlfriend on the cheek with his lips, smirking to himself. "Let's go, love, we've bothered the Healer enough today."

Hermione picked up Scorpius, and set him at her hip. "Thank you, Healer Newton, it's been a pleasure."

"As always." The Healer tilted her head. "See you in three months then."

Very early the next morning, Hermione stirred next to Draco. She let out a groan, fluffing her pillow irritably.

"You alright, hon?" Draco asked, placing a hand to her back.

"Yes," she muttered, then sat up abruptly.

Draco sat up with her, kissing her bare shoulder. "Happy Valentine's Day," he whispered, trailing kisses to her neck.

She sighed. "You too, my love." She stood up hastily.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm thirsty. I'll be right back."

Draco lay back down in the warm bed, folding his hands behind his head. "Don't take too long," he growled seductively. "I'll come looking for you if you do."

She let out an uncertain laugh. "I'll be quick," Hermione promised.

"You sure you're alright?" Draco asked warily, not missing the lack of humour in her laugh.

"Yes, I'm fine. I'm just going to go get a drink of water, and I'll be back for whatever sort of play you have concocted in that filthy, perverted, male mind of yours."

He grunted in satisfaction, anticipating her return. "I'll be waiting then, my little Valentine."

While she was gone, he shoved all but one of the blankets to the end of the bed so they weren't in their way of their love making. He envisioned Hermione's legs wrapped around him as she moaned in delight while he kissed her and toyed with the most sensitive areas on her body. The thought made him groan with need.

So far this whole pregnancy was turning out to be one big sex fest for the two of them. In the past month, they had such difficulties keeping their hands off each other. When they did touch, it was an instant turn on. For the both of them. They had done it in just about every room of their home.

When he heard the apparition CRACK! of a house elf, he had already removed every piece of his clothing to welcome her with his nude body.

"Sorry, sir," Toogy gasped, near tears. "But Hermione! She is sick!"

Draco shot up out of bed. "Sick?! She was just fine! Where is she?!"

"The bathroom, sir. The one off the kitchen!"

Draco snatched his wand from the nightstand behind him and apparated down to the bathroom on the first floor. His love, his girlfriend— his future wife was caught hugging the toilet bowl, hurling into it. Sounds of sickness and sobbing filled the room.

"Oh, love..." Draco moaned in sympathy, kneeling down beside her and rubbing her back. "Why didn't you tell me you were feeling sick?"

She lifted her head out of the bowl to answer only to immediately convulse forward for another round of puking. By the time Draco thought she was through, she was shaking with weakness. Hermione wailed and crashed into his arms, crying loudly. She said something to which he couldn't understand through her fit.

"You need to calm down before you can talk," he told her gently. "I can't understand you otherwise, alright?" He planted a kiss to her head. She nodded against his chest, and hugged him tightly, continuing to weep, wetting his bare chest with tears and...

Well, Draco wasn't going to think about the nasal mucus that Hermione was smearing all over him as she repeatedly wiped her nose against him.

Else he'd be sick too.

Draco took her into his arms and spelled them back to their room to tuck her into bed. He passed her a tissue before calling Toogy in to fetch him a bucket in case Hermione needed it.

"I'm sorry," Hermione spoke quietly as he got into bed next to her, pulling a blanket over the top of them.

"For not telling me that you're sick?" Draco asked to verify the reasoning of her apology. He took one of her hands and brought it up to his lips, kissing it tenderly.

"I just didn't want to worry you... Especially on a holiday..."

He leaned closer to her, touching their foreheads together. "I worry about you everyday. I love you, and the thought of you suffering is upsetting. I made a promise to you, Mione. Anything you need, and I'll do it, but I need to know what's wrong before I am able to help you, alright?"

She nodded, rubbing their noses together. It made her softly laugh.

"You will tell me whenever you're feeling sick then?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"It's from your pregnancy? Morning sickness?"

"Yes, it is."

"I'll handle the chores today then," Draco offered. "I'll make sure breakfast is fixed, and feed Scorpius, get him dressed, and drop him off at my parents'. Just as we had already planned to do today."

"I don't feel like going anywhere today," Hermione whimpered. "Please don't be mad. I know you've probably have so much planned— with it being our first Valentine's— Oh, God, I had something planned for you too! I was going to—"

"Shush," Draco said, pressing a finger to her lips to silence her. "We'll just postpone our date. We can stay here, and you can have a lovely day of just lounging around."

"But what about you? I've ruined our holiday!"

He gently pulled her closer to him, pressing her body to his. "I'll enjoy myself with you just being in my presence."

"With no chance of sex?" she asked doubtfully.

Draco chuckled. "I've had plenty of sex recently to last me a while, love, what matters is your comfort. You and the baby's. You're both important. Very much so."

"Thank you," she said after a sigh of relief, snuggling into his embrace. "You really are great, you know."

"Yes, love, I know."

That night, they sipped sparkling grape juice in front of the fireplace, talking in soothing voices. Draco had done what he had promised, even if he had a little help from Toogy with making breakfast.

Well, okay, it was a lot of help. Toogy made the entire thing. Malfoy men do not belong in the kitchen. Hell, traditionally, Malfoy women didn't belong in the kitchen, but he knew he'd never talk Hermione out of cooking. If he was honest with himself, he wouldn't want her to stop cooking. He loved that she cooked for he and Scorpius. A lot of the things she had prepared for them to eat were absolutely delish.

Not that he preferred her cooking over the house-elves, or the other way around. He liked both styles of cooking, and he didn't disagree with switching it up from time to time.

Besides, if he had attempted to cook, nothing would have gotten done at all. He wouldn't know where to begin, and then he wouldn't have been able to finish the other duties that he had said he would do.

Of course his girlfriend chewed him out for using Toogy to make them all breakfast, almost immediately wiping the wide smile off her beautiful face after he had delivered the wonderfully made breakfast, serving her in bed.

"You couldn't even make toast?!" she had shrieked at him.

"I do apologize, Mione," he eased slowly, rolling excuses around his head. He knew 'I just didn't want to cook,' wouldn't work with her. "I've never done it before, and I wouldn't know where to even begin."

She accepted his honest answer with a roll of her eyes before sprinkling a bit of sugar onto a grapefruit half.

He had bent down to kiss her cheek before he said he had to get their son ready for his visit at Malfoy Manor.

"Lyra is a cute name," Hermione complimented Draco's name suggestion for their baby girl.

"I don't mind Gemma either," he admitted. "For a middle name."

Hermione smiled and swirled her wine glass around. "We may just get our daughter named after all."

"We just might." He took a hold of her hand, squeezing it.

The bucket sat at their feet, since Hermione had been queasy for about the entire day. They made the best of what was given to them though.

"I love you, Mione."

Hermione lay her head against his shoulder, staring at the mesmerizing flames of the fire. "I love you so much, Draco," she returned in a murmur, caught in a moment of bliss.

*/*

Hermione's morning sickness lasted nearly a month. By mid-March, she had been growing restless, bored from being stuck at home and eating bland food because most anything else came back up quickly. She had been too tired and weak to do much of anything but sleep, and had not played with her son very much because of it.

Draco was such a trooper though. With the help of Toogy, he ran things rather smoothly, and made sure she and Scorpius were well taken care of.

When her appetite returned, along with her strength, she was ready to return to her role as the woman of the house, so she got annoyed with Draco one morning when he had made the bed, not giving her a chance to do it herself, having done it when she was in the shower.

"You don't have to do that anymore! I'm fine now!"

"Well, excuse me for not knowing that!" he grumbled.

She stripped the bed then to redo it.

"What'd you do that for?!

"You did it all wrong!"

He spat his tongue at her before exiting out of the room.

"Oh, that's real mature!" she shot at him.

"You should take a potion for your mood, Hermione, it's a real drag!"

"You're a real drag!" she shouted back. She groaned in frustration. She was better now! She could make the bed herself! She wasn't sick and helpless anymore!

At breakfast, she fixed them a meal for the first time in a while. She and Draco didn't talk much. Draco announced that he was going over to Malfoy Manor to brew some potions for the hospital. She was happy for that, not wanting him around to make her feel useless with the house work.

"Take Toogy with you. I don't need any help today, I'm feeling fine."

"As you wish," he muttered, wiping his mouth with a napkin.

Hermione knew that he was cranky at her for snapping at him but she didn't care. He didn't understand that he made her feel worthless when he did things that she could do herself.

"Shall I take the baby too?"

"No, Draco." Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Do you think I'm incapable of tending to our son while you're away? I'm not!"

Draco sighed and put a hand up to his forehead. "I don't, Mione," he said. "It was just an offer."

Hermione readjusted her fork, fisting it. She stabbed a link of sausage. "One that I decline— thank you!"

He eyed her link of sausage, gulping. "I'll be leaving now," Draco announced, standing up. He lifted Scorpius up to his face, kissing the baby on his belly before placing him in his walker. He went to kiss Hermione too, but she stopped him, disgusted by the scent of his breath from breakfast.

"Don't kiss me until you brush your teeth!"

Draco scowled. He rolled his eyes and stalked out of the kitchen, speaking incoherent words under his breath.

"Dashnah!" Scorpius spoke up, bouncing in his walker. He wanted to get out and walk with her.

"Not now, baby," Hermione told him. "After I clean up the mess from breakfast."

An hour later, Scorpius started fussing, his way of demanding that Hermione let him walk. She wanted to encourage the baby to walk on his own two feet, so she took him out of his walking chair and held him by the hand, walking him from room to room.

"Mumma's tired, sweety," she said after a while, sitting down in an arm chair.

Scorpius tapped her legs, stationed between them. "Dashnah!" he cried out, smiling at her hopefully. He lay his head in her lap, looking up at her with his beautiful, grey eyes.

"Let Mumma rest," Hermione moaned, closing her eyes in tiredness. "You exhausted me out, Scorpius." She hadn't even gotten half of the chores done, having spent all her energy on the soon-to-be-walking-on-his-own toddler.

Hermione woke up later. Apparently she had needed a nap. She hadn't planned on napping, but all she had needed to do was close her eyes for it to happen. She gasped at the sight near her in utter shock. Her son had somehow gotten into the stationary drawer and everything that had been in it was scattered around him at the floor of the desk. He had ink smudges all over him. Stamps were stuck to him. Quills and paper were here and there. Scorpius was completely happy with himself though, pinching a small bit of his hair and pulling it straight up into the air, laughing because it didn't flutter down right away due to the sticky residue.

"Doohah?" He said when he noticed that she was gaping at him.

"Scorpius!" she shrieked in a scolding voice. "You naughty boy!"

Draco was going to be so upset when he saw the ink stains in the baby's blonde hair! He usually made such a fuss about Scorpius's hair! She groaned, sticking her face into her hands. She noticed then that her hands were black with ink. And likely now her face was too, since she touched it with them.

She began crying.

When Draco came home later, his eyes widened at the sight of Scorpius's hair; streaks of black in the nearly white hair. "Dear Merlin!" he gasped, running a hand through the damaged hair. "What happened?! Trying to make him look like Cruella De Vil?! You failed! Miserably!"

Hermione handed the baby off to Draco and collapsed onto the sofa. "I've had such an exhausting day!" she whined. "I closed my eyes for a rest and fell asleep. I woke up to a mess in the sitting room— stationery supplies all over the place! Scorpius had gotten into the drawer where the supplies were all stored in."

"I'll take Scorpius with me tomorrow then," Draco offered.

Her eyes flew open. "You really think that I can't handle my son!" she snapped. "I can, you know!"

"I didn't say that, Hermione!" he retorted. "I'm trying to give you a break! You certainly need one!"

"Because you think I can't handle anything!"

"No, because you're pregnant, and carrying around two people now. It must be hard to do, if it's tiring you out so easily!"

"So you do think I'm fat! You said I wasn't fat!"

"God, Mione!" Draco groaned. "You're not fat, for the last time. You're five months pregnant! But even if you were actually fat, I'd still want to rip your clothes off and fuck you. I love you, alright?! Get over it, will you!"

"You get over it!" Hermione responded childishly.

"Here," Draco conjured a paper sack in front of her, setting it into her lap. "I brought you home dinner. I know what it's like to handle the home, and I use the assistance of a house-elf. It's tiring, and I don't know how you manage it, but I appreciate all that you do. I hope you know that."

"I can cook just fine!" She said indignantly, ignoring half of what he had even said. She did open the bag of food in curiosity though, finding a serving of rice with chicken and veggies from the local Asian restaurant. The smell crept into her nose, letting her know how hungry she was. She hadn't eaten much that day. She hadn't thought of doing it, having been too busy with kitchen cleaning, walking Scorpius around, and then cleaning up after the mess he had made in the sitting room.

"It's not what you were wanting?" Draco asked when she had said nothing about it.

"The thought was lovely, Draco." Hermione conjured up a fork to begin eating, not even willing to wait to go down to the kitchen to eat. "Thank you. Is there dessert?"

"Was I supposed to bring dessert back?" he asked dumbly.

"The baby is feeling like eating a corndog."

Draco gave her a look of puzzlement. "What in the bloody hell is a corndog?"

"Mmm." Hermione licked her lips. "Seen it in an American film a couple years ago. I did a little research, and I discovered this wonderful tasting snack where they dip a hotdog in a cornmeal batter and deep fry it. Tastes almost like Yorkshire pudding with hot dogs in it."

"Sound incredibly disgusting!"

"It's good!" she assured him. "And I want one. Would you get me one?"

Draco sighed in defeat. "Where do I find such a thing around here?"

"Doreen's World Cuisine in Snapton. She'll get just about everything you ask there. It's a bit pricy, but I was able to get some real Mexican food when I was pregnant with Scorpius."

"Alright then, I'll go get one for you. I forgot to bring something back from the Manor anyway."

"Thank you," she said with a sweet smile.

"It's the least I can do."

"It is."

Draco shook his head in disbelief at her words, and gathered up Scorpius into his arms. "I'll handle Scorpius for the rest of the night. Get some rest if you can."

"I plan to." Hermione leaned back into the back of the sofa and enjoyed her dinner, anticipating the corndog with a watery mouth.

*/*

"Why didn't you warn me?!" Draco demanded. His parents were busy in a game of cards.

"About what?" his mother asked, merely glancing up from the hovering cards that faced her. She gave the hand of cards a calculated look before touching the Nine of Hearts with the tip of her index finger, sending it to the discard pile.

"That Hermione would be a totally different person while she is pregnant!" Draco tugged at his hair. "I don't know what to do!"

"You little, snake!" Mother shrieked as Father picked up her discarded card. "That was mine!"

Father gave her a smirk. "You thought it to be junk, but I do not." He placed a card down, momentarily causing Mother's eyes to light up in the smallest amount of hope. Her face flushed with disappointment once she realized that she couldn't do anything with the card he had thrown away.

"Prat!" she muttered playfully, drawing up a new card.

Father chuckled. "Such a terrible loser you are, my love."

"You've not won yet!"

"Excuse me! You're son is asking for help here!" Draco cut in impatiently. "It doesn't matter what I do, I can't make her happy!"

Father laughed deeply. "Welcome to the life of having a pregnant woman around! Teach you to fool around so much, hmm?"

"Just think what she's going through. You're only experiencing half what she's willing to show you," Mother added.

"It's a good thing I wasn't around during Scorpius's time in the womb then!" Draco scoffed. "I'd not be having a daughter then. There would be no way I'd let her get pregnant a second time!"

"Let?!" Mother sent him an ugly look. "You do not let your girlfriend or wife get pregnant. It is not just your decision, son of mine!"

Father leaned back into his chair, sending Draco his own look. His eyes rolled up to the ceiling, pausing there for a moment. He placed one hand to his forehead, and the other waved over his hand of cards, sending them and the rest to pile up into one stack. He knew his wife wouldn't be interested in playing after hearing that comment.

Draco backed up quickly when his mother 'launched out of her chair, spitting words out in such a rush. "You have no idea the pain we go through, the thoughts that run through our heads while we're carrying your children. You men just sit around and joke about or whine because we're not being fair. Well, it's certainly not fair to have to carry your ruddy heirs that you so demand that we must do as a duty to being your woman. I hate to break it to you, little Draco, but it is your duty to care for her during this stressful moment of her life, because it is your fault that she is going through it. If you had kept your snake in your pants, she would be same woman you have grown to love these past few months. Next time, I suggest a little self-control!"

"But it wasn't just—"

Her finger pointing silenced him. His lips quivered. Draco knew better than to go on any further than he had managed.

What did he say that upset her so?!

"I want to thank you for volunteering me to sleep in a guest room tonight," his father told him dryly after his mother had left, muttering a series of words under her breath about insensitive men.

"She's not mad at you."

"Oh, she'll find someway to blame this on me." He called upon a house-elf to go shop for some chocolate and a bouquet of her favourite flowers for her.

"I just don't know what to do."

"Anything she says to. It's nothing that requires much thought. And hang in there. You have, what, four more months?"

Draco nodded. "I guess I ought to go," he spoke quietly, ashamed that he had upset his mother. "Hermione wants me to fetch her a corndog."

"A what?"

Draco explained what it was. His father thought it sounded interesting. "Get two."

"She didn't say to—"

"It doesn't matter. Trust me on this."

"Alright... I'll be back by tomorrow. With Scorpius, if I can snag him fast enough. I'll tell you later what he did today. She definitely needs to have some workload lifted off her— course she's determined to do everything she could before she went bat-shit-crazy."

"She's restless," his father said. "Give it time, and just lay down low. Do what you can. And remember, she's going to be upset with you no matter what you do. It's not really her that's talking. She'll say she hates you, act like she hates you, but she doesn't." Father lowered his voice then. "It's like she's possessed by some creature or something. Which, in a roundabout way, is a bit truthful."

"Okay," Draco took his father's advice at heart and took a deep breath. "Thanks, Father."

"Not at all, son. I'm proud of you. Just watch your tongue a little next time, alright? Especially around your mother."

"I will."

Draco got the two corndogs as his father had suggested to do. They smelled hideous, but if that's what Hermione wanted, then that's what Hermione would get.

"You got two?" she demanded when she fished one out of the bag and unwrapped it quickly like it was a Christmas gift.

"Well, yes, in case you wanted to have one later."

"Draco!" She stuffed half the dog into her mouth and chewed quickly. "I can't have two! Are you trying to get me to gain too much weight?! I'll be fat forever if I did that!"

"Then just throw away the other one..."

"And waste food?! There's starving children out there, Draco, I'm not going to just waste food like that! Put it in the icebox, you can eat it later."

"But I don't want it, Hermione, I got them for you."

"I don't care, we're not going throw away food!"

"Fine, fine!" He magically sent the leftover corndog into the icebox. "There." He'd just throw it out later, when she wasn't around.

Draco woke up in the middle of the night, feeling his girlfriend's side of the bed was empty and cold. He frowned, hoping she wasn't sick again. He got up to look for her and found her in the telly room. The light was off, but the Telly was on. She was laughing at some animated character Draco didn't recognize; eating the corndog, and many other snacks.

Cravings.

He made it to the cravings stage. That was good, right?

Draco sincerely hoped it was uphill from here. He wasn't sure how much more of this 'monster' he could handle.

 

Chapter Text

Draco stopped Hermione from going and checking on Scorpius who had awaken them up with his crying. She lay awake, listening for the baby's wails to tone down while Draco spoke softly in the next room over. The cries didn't cease. He was in pain. She could tell.

Hermione went to get up, but stopped when she heard the cries getting louder and nearer. Scorpius was traveling.

She met Draco at the doorway, taking Scorpius from him, giving her son a kiss.

"Sorry," Draco whispered apologetically, patting Scorpius's head. "He wanted his Mumma."

"Mina!" Scorpius cried. He smashed his face into Hermione's shoulder, biting her. A sharp pain pierced her.

"Ouch!" Hermione shrieked in both surprise and agony.

"What?! What's wrong?!"

Hermione adjusted the baby to her hip. He was still crying, stuffing a fist into his mouth. She took him to the bed where she sat him on it and grabbed her wand from the drawer of the nightstand, turning on the overhead light with it.

"He's finally cut his tooth through! He bit me and it hurt!" She fought with Scorpius to remove his hand from his mouth, and pulled down his bottom lip to see his first visible tooth. Shiny, new, and tiny. Sharp.

Draco wandlessly conjured up his ClickCap to record the event. "Poor, little chomper," he said, also conjuring up the baby his favoured chew toy. Scorpius bit down on it, whimpering. "There you go, son."

Scorpius crawled to his mother and clutched onto her nightshirt, calling her name through his gnawing on his toy. Hermione gathered him into her arms and gently swayed him to relax him. "It's alright, baby," she said, kissing the side of his head. "Only thirty-one more teeth to go."

"And then you get to lose those teeth and start all over again!" Draco said jokingly, earning a dirty look from his girlfriend. He uneasily scratched at the back of his head. "So, I'll just go back to bed then." He got into the bed, covering up his entire body, including his head.

Hermione sighed and looked at Scorpius. He was calming down, feeling better now that he had his mumma close. He pointed at his father with a confused look on his face.

"He's being silly," Hermione explained Draco's odd behavior. Her son smiled, which was catching, as she too smiled. "I love you, Scorpius."

"Mmmah!" He gave her a big smooch.

Hermione hugged him tightly. "Such a sweet, sweet boy you are." She noxed out the light and set the baby back on the bed. Scorpius crawled up to his father, lifting up the edge of the blanket Draco was under.

"Hello, you," Draco greeted gruffly. He snatched the baby in a quick move and pulled him under the cover, setting him on his belly. Scorpius squealed in laughter.

"We're going back to sleep, boys," Hermione sternly spoke to them, settling herself into the bed.

"Mumma says it's sleepy time," Draco whispered. "And I'll side with her here. We're tired, aren't we?"

Scorpius responded by falling forward, slamming his head into Draco's chest. "Oof!" He rubbed Scorpius's back with a hand, and uncovered half his body so the baby would be able to breathe easier. Then he carefully turned onto his side so Scorpius could sleep between he and Hermione.

"Night, love," Draco kissed her cheek.

"Night," Hermione kissed both her boys, and then shut her eyes, sighing happily.

"What are you eating?" Draco asked a couple days later, eyeing Hermione's sandwich with great interest.

"A soured cream and cucumber sandwich." His eyebrows raised at her, finding the concoction a bit odd. "It's incredible! Try it!" She held out a half for him.

Draco hesitantly took it from her and took a bite. His eyes widened. He hastily found a napkin and spit out the bite into it. "What is that horrible flavour?!" he demanded, going to the refrigerator for a glass of milk. He shuddered, magically pouring the milk into a glass.

"What horrible flavour?" she asked cluelessly.

"I don't know..." He swished the milk around his mouth, giving it a thought over. "Rich, salty, and...nutty?"

"Oh!" She finished off her sandwich, taking her time, smiling in thoughtfulness. "You mean the Satay sauce!" Hermione's eyes fluttered closed as she hummed in delight. "It's such a lovely addition to the sandwich."

"Blech!" Draco expressed his opinion. "Should have known," he grumbled, shaking his head.

Her strange eating habits continued on. Draco caught her eating right out of a soured cream cup once, which became a staple food of hers for nearly an entire week.

"I just can't get enough of it," Hermione had told him when he questioned her about it.

But that wasn't as weird as finding her in the sitting room with piles and piles of envelopes stacked up at the stationary desk she sat at, licking one envelope after another, appearing to be in immense bliss after finishing each one.

"The hell, Hermione?! What is wrong with you?!"

"The glue!" she responded quickly. Oddly, she took no offense with his outburst. "I can't help but to indulge myself!"

"Is that even safe for the baby?!" Draco demanded as he hastily cleaned up the mess she had made, taking the envelopes away from her.

Her eyes glazed over. A faint smiled spread across her face. She giggled sheepishly. "Gosh, I don't know. Probably not though? Right?"

Draco sighed deeply. She'd have to be watched more closely if she was going to do odd things like this. "No more. This—" He shook the huge stack of soiled envelopes in his hands in front of her face, frowning as her eyes closely followed them during the movement. "—is unhealthy! Please tell me you were not this strange with Scorpius?!"

Hermione blinked, forcing herself to look away from the envelopes that had the tasty glue on them. She gave his inquiry a thorough thought, shaking her head a moment later. "No. I was incredibly emotional, and ate as much spicy food as I could get down my throat, but I don't recall doing anything too weird while I was pregnant with him."

Draco had a sick feeling about this and urged his girlfriend to go see a Healer.

"No, it's alright, Draco," Hermione assured him. "Lots of women get strange cravings when they are pregnant. Just be happy I'm not licking the walls. Or—" She burst out laughing. "—the bottom of your shoes!"

Draco gave her a look of disgust, not finding her even remotely funny.

Merlin, she was so messed up lately.

But at least she wasn't yelling at him and blaming all her problems on him. That, in itself, was a relief.

*/*

"Have you decided a name for her yet?" Ginny asked. She propped her feet up on the coffee table in front of her family's sofa, enjoying a rare moment while all three of her children napped.

"It's not set in stone. And we're both hesitant with allowing Scorpius to draw up one of our names."

"Because both of you want your name drawn."

"Precisely. If Draco's name is drawn, our daughter's going to be named something like Ophelia or Celeste, which sounds so... out of place in this era."

"Well, you don't want to be like everyone else. And given Draco's heritage, I can understand his reasoning. There were very few people he was close to. I was happy enough with Harry's suggestions. They fit well with my family's children naming— So what do you want to name her?"

"I'm drawn to Rose, but lately I've been leaning toward Diane."

"And he gets to choose a middle name to one of those?" Hermione nodded to Ginny's question. Ginny hummed, thinking. "Well, maybe he'll pick a name like Carina. Rose Carina..." She wrinkled her nose. "That doesn't sound good enough."

"Carina Rose sounds better." Hermione nibbled on her lip.

"Yes, it does," her friend agreed. "Or Norma. That's not so out-of-date."

"Pyxis wouldn't be so bad either."

"Oh, you could call her Pixie! How cute would that be?"

"I have this feeling Draco wouldn't go for that. He's not all into that cute stuff."

"Nonsense! He went and bought that bodysuit! It was pink and cute!"

"Yes, but he was apologizing for doing something dumb. You've seen what he gets for Scorpius, and my son loves the things we get him, but the outfits that Draco buys are not exactly baby themed things. They're pretty mature, and have nothing to do with cuteness. We've gotten all sorts of girly stuff for the new baby, but I have had to put my foot down when it comes to his arguments against buying them. I've had to scare him into allowing me to buy girl stuff. If I let him buy things for her, they'd be all formal and black, or Slytherin green— he's expecting her to be a Slytherin too."

Ginny cocked her head to the side. She smirked. "That's something all parents who went to Hogwarts fight over, especially if they are from two different houses. I wish Harry would fight with me on it. It's so fun to watch others do it. But he pretends he doesn't care. He does of course. We all do. We all want our kids sorted into the house we were sorted into ourselves. It gives us this false sense of proof that they really are our kids. Anyway, Draco will be change when that baby is born," she said, pointing to Hermione's belly. "Just you wait and see. He'll cave as soon as he sees her, and want to dress her into all those frilly, girly things you forced him to accept, and she'll probably hate you both for it." Ginny smiled, knowingly.

Hermione would like to believe her. She couldn't wait to see her little girl in all those pretty dresses they had bought for her, but Draco didn't sugar coat things, and she didn't think he'd do that with Carina Rose either (or whatever the name of their little daughter was going to be).

When Hermione got back home, she felt a nudge in her belly. She touched her stomach, growing excited. "Draco?!" she called out. She knew by four o'clock he was home, as he wanted to be back by dinner to spend time with Scorpius and her. "Draco! Come quick!"

"What?!" he shouted. His footsteps approached quickly. "What is it?!" He was breathless, hurrying to her where she had sat on a chair in the flooing room.

Hermione grabbed his wrist, setting his hand to her tummy. "Be still," she told him.

"What are we doing?" he asked impatiently.

"Wait for it," she whispered, grinning.

They sat in silence for a few seconds before Draco sighed. "This is stup—" He was cut off as a limb of their daughter poked his hand. His eyes widened. "Is that the baby?!" he asked in disbelief.

Hermione nodded. "She just started doing that! Just now!" The two parents spent the rest of the hour with both their hands on Hermione's stomach, eager to feel each and every kick of their baby.

*/*

Hermione and Draco were finally able to have their postponed Valentine's Day date. Hermione had dressed in a rosy pink blouse and shirt, complaining the whole time about how hideous she looked in it.

"You're beautiful," Draco told her, wrapping his arms around her, stomach and all, and kissing the back of her head.

"Well, it's only you I have to please— so long as you like this..." She looked at him through the reflection of the mirror they stood in front of.

"Mmm," he purred in her ear, drifting his hands down to her hips, gripping them firmly. "I love this skirt."

Draco's parents offered to have Scorpius for an overnight stay so that they could have plenty of alone time together.

"They really are great, Draco," Hermione told him, pressing a tissue to a tear in her eye after the elder Malfoys had left with their baby.

"Don't ruin your make-up now. We've a long night ahead of us."

"Where are you taking me? Somewhere nice, I expect?"

Draco just smiled, keeping the secret to himself. They stepped into the floo, holding hands, and Draco said the location. The pull of the Floo didn't allow Hermione to gasp out in adoration, delaying her reaction to where they were going.

When they were released from the spell, she hugged him, hiding her face into his chest, sniffing. He cleared his throat uncomfortably, nodding to a passerby who looked at Hermione with a frown.

"The place where we had our first date!" she shrieked out happily, blowing her nose. "You are so sweet!"

"You don't mind eating Japanese tonight, I hope?"

She shook her head, face still against his chest. Draco pulled her from him, grimacing at her streaking make-up. "Erm..." He magically removed the mess from her face. "You look wonderful without all that junk on your face."

She grabbed a hold of his dress robes and kissed him. Passionately. With need. With want.

"Hermione...!" Draco gasped, breaking the kiss off.

Hermione was stuck in a daze for a moment. "Sorry... It's just been a while..."

"Don't I know it, but Fukuda is expecting us. He'll ban us if we don't show up after reserving a table. He's strict about that."

She nodded, and took a deep breath, regaining her posture. "You're right, and his food is too good to get banned from the restaurant."

"Exactly." Draco looped her arm into his and lead her down the cement walk path to the entrance of their favourite restaurant.

"I've got something for you," he announced once they had ordered their food.

"What is it?" she asked, looking through the clear glass table top as he leaned back to take something out of his pocket.

"I wanted to get you something better than this." He didn't let her see it yet, hiding it in his hand. "Scorpius insisted that you would like this best of all," he added doubtfully. "So, if you hate it, don't blame me."

Hermione's pulse picked up. She covered her mouth with both hands, squealing out as he exposed a tiny box, lifting the top of it. "Oh, Draco!"

"So?"

She looked from the ring to him and back again, tearing up. "Yes!" She shrieked out excitedly. Hermione jumped up from her seat, and rounded the table to hug him. "Oh, Draco...! Of course I'll marry you!" She snatched the ring from his hand, missing the fact that his jaw had dropped, stunned by her words.

*/*

No.

That's not what he had meant. And he had been stupid enough to tell her that that wasn't why he had gotten the cheap, junky ring. Draco winced as he heard the door to their bedroom slam shut. She was still shouting at the top of her lungs.

"HOW COULD YOU EMBARRASS ME LIKE THAT?!"

He stood outside the door, clueless of what he could say to make her feel better. The door flew open, but his hope of talking with her was demolished as a pillow and his blanket was tossed into his face.

"WHAT'S A WOMAN TO THINK WHEN HER BOYFRIEND PULLS OUT A RING ON A DATE, SAYING THEIR SON HELPED PICK IT OUT?! HOW AM I NOT SUPPOSED TO THINK IT'S AN ENGAGEMENT RING?!"

Draco run a hand down his face. He wondered if he should have just went along with it now, sick to his stomach that he had made her think such a thing. But he wasn't ready for that yet. He tried telling her, but she just wouldn't listen.

"I'M TIRED OF WAITING, YOU KNOW!" she shouted through the door. "I WAS EVEN PLANNING ON ASKING YOU! I WANT A NORMAL LIFE! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?! TO BE MARRIED WITH CHILDREN?!"

"I didn't know...!" he told her, touching his hand to the doorknob to turn it. It shocked him with a bolt of energy. She had hexed the door to do that.

"NO, YOU WILL NOT COME IN HERE! I'M ANGRY! ANGRY! DO YOU HEAR ME?!"

Draco tucked the pillow under his arm, sighing heavily. The damage was done. He just hoped she'd get over it.

"You're an idiot," his father told him when Draco went over to the Manor, needing to talk to somebody about his screw up. "Of course she's been waiting for you to ask her that particular question. Don't you know women at all? They plan this for almost the entirety of their lives."

"She could have just told me that's what she wanted."

"Most girls expect you to know what they want."

Draco held his head in his hands. "I feel so awful."

"You should feel bad. You misled her. Whether you meant to or not, you did. And I bid you good luck in patching this hole up." Father chuckled. "It'll all work out though. With time, and a lot of sucking up. You may as well marry the girl, Draco, you're practically there already. She's having your children, handling the home, and sharing your bed. Make it official. Reward her, and just give her your name already."

Draco closed his eyes, clamping his teeth together.

He was not ready to fully commit to that yet.

*/*

Hermione wept in her hands, upset for her foolish thinking. She should had known he wasn't really asking her to marry him. She didn't understand him. They were bonded. Their second child was on the way. They had the hots for each other, and were living together, yet he could not wrap his head around marriage?!

What was he afraid of?

She flung the beautiful ring that he had bought for her across the room, wailing out in sadness and frustration. It clanked against the wall and fell on the floor. She stared at it, tears blurring her vision. Hermione hurled herself onto the bed, crying into the pillow.

They loved each other! They should be married! Like a real couple!

Hermione didn't want to pretend anymore.

"Are you still awake?" Draco asked her quietly. He must had removed her hex off the doorknob, or maybe he apparated into the room, as he stood at the side of the bed, looking down at her with a pathetic look.

"I don't want to talk," she said through a stuffy nose. "You don't want to marry me, so go away."

"I never said that!" Draco sat on the bed, touching her back and rubbing it.

Hermione rolled over onto her side, glaring at him. "Then why haven't you asked me?!" she snapped. "Why not?"

His eyes fell down to his hands, shrugging slightly. "I want that moment to be special, and... memorial. I want it to be perfect. I assume you want to be swept off your feet when it happens?"

"Tonight would have been incredible!" she argued.

"I didn't even think about tonight..."

Hermione turned away from him, huffing. "You don't even think about it at all!"

"I do!" Draco insisted. "I think about us all the time. Getting married, watching our kids grow, sending them off to Hogwarts, going to their own weddings, watching them present us with grandchildren, and I picture us growing old together..." He lay next to her, hesitantly setting a hand to her side. "You deserve the best, Mione. I want everything we have and everything we do to be the best for you. And when I feel it's the right time, I'll do it, because I want to see that lovely face of yours light up when I ask you, when I'm well and ready to be the perfect husband that you so deserve."

Hermione sobbed. "You just want to torment me!"

"No, I want to treat you like my queen, because you're my everything."

She turned her head to look at him. Draco gave her an apologetic smile. "I love you. I really do," he told her.

Hermione scoffed. "Okay, fine," she said rolling her eyes. She flipped on her back, clutching the collar of his shirt and pulled him down to her to kiss him. It was fierce and quick.

She then got out of bed to fetch the ring, slipping it on her finger, eyeing it over. "It's a lovely ring, Draco. Your son has excellent taste in jewelry."

Draco remained at the bed, folding his hands at his chest. "Well, normally I do too, for women who have more expensive taste than you, but so long as you like it—"

"I love it! Thank you!"

"I'm glad that you do. You're welcome. So, do you forgive me for being stupid?" he asked carefully.

He looked so cute, waiting in anticipation for her answer. Hermione knew then that he hadn't meant any harm that night. She touched a hand to her neck, smiling softly. "Yes," she finally answered. "I do." She suddenly sprinted to the bathroom then. "Stay there!"

"What are you doing?" Draco called from his place at the bed.

"Just stay!" Hermione ordered. "I mean it! I'll hex you if you come in here!" She tossed off her clothing and shimmied into the piece of fabric she had bought a few weeks ago.

"What do you think?" She emerged from the bathroom, posing for him in a sexy, red see-through lingerie set that she had bought for their special night on Valentine's Day to surprise him.

"Ho!" Draco breathed out. His eyes instantly turned hungry as they scanned her body. Hermione elegantly walked to back to the bed, swaying her hips, stretching her arms above her head, arching her back. He rose up to his knees, embracing the sight of her. "Oh, Merlin, Mione," he growled, setting his hands to her waist. He pressed his face to her breasts, kissing her. "You're so fucking hot in that!"

"I figured you'd like it," she said smugly, running her hands through Draco's hair as his hands wandered her body. His kissing turned into something intense, as he began to include the use of his teeth.

Things went pretty smoothly after that night. Hermione somewhat had gotten over her extensive hormonal imbalances (she would still get upset over the most random of things, but Draco wasn't so much as the blame or the cause of her outbreaks).

Draco found envelopes that she wasn't interested in licking, but she still ate a container of soured cream every other day. And corndogs. And anything else she could eat that wouldn't bite her back.

He took Scorpius with him often while he brewed potions at the Manor, giving both she and him and break from each other so they wouldn't get too annoyed with the other. Hermione found things to do while he was gone. She started cooking again, storing a lot of it into the freezer for later use when the baby came, knowing she'd be too exhausted to cook for her family once the baby was born. She took up knitting again, focusing on a project of making blankets for both her children.

One day in May, Hermione had told Draco that Scorpius could stay behind, as she wanted to try and teach him a few new flash cards. She would find time between the cooking, knitting, and her other work, but it had been a few days since she had helped her growing son, and she didn't want him to forget what he was learning. He was a fairly smart baby, and he learned things quickly.

"This is cat," she pointed to the flash card with the image of a black cat on it. "C-A-T."

"Cah!" Scorpius reaching for it, no doubt to put it into his mouth.

"Nope!" She rose it out of his reach. "We don't chew on this."

"Cah! Bubadah!"

"C-A-T," Hermione repeated. If all went well, Scorpius would be reading by the time he was five. She had been reading since before she was four, but she had been exceptional. She wouldn't want to put too much stress on her son just because of how smart she was.

"This is a drum, Scorpius. Can you say drum?"

"Drahck!"

"D-R-U-M." She kissed the top of his head. "Mumma loves you."

"Mmma!" He blew her a kiss, using his hand.

"So cute!" she squealed, hugging him close to her.

She put him down for a nap later, and decided to relax and read a book. She didn't get far into it, hearing a crash from the baby's room. She ran to the room to see a small dragon figurine at Scorpius feet; he was poised to climb a shelf.

"What are you doing?!" Hermione shrieked.

Scorpius lifted a foot to set it on the first shelf up to climb it like it were a ladder. "Dookah!" he exclaimed, pointed up above him. Somehow, his stuffed bat had ended up on the fourth shelf up.

"Don't you take another step, Scorpius!" Hermione scolded, rushing to him.

"Dookah!" He didn't listen to her, pulling himself up, hanging off it. The shelf started tipping, causing Hermione to scream out in fear. She made it to Scorpius just in time to prevent it from smashing onto him. Things slipped from the shelves, clammering to the floor. Hermione cried out as a book crashed down onto her head. The shelf fell on her, making her lose her balancing. Her head hit the floor first.

Scorpius burst out into tears right before her eyes closed in unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

"Malfoy, come on, get up."

Draco stroked his thumb along Hermione's hand, firmly holding onto it. He and Scorpius lay next to her, her bed having been enlarged to accommodate them.

It had been a fight at first to be allowed to stay in the room at all, and if it hadn't been for the bond, Draco and Scorpius wouldn't have been permitted to spend so much time with Hermione.

"You need a break," Potter kept on coaxing him out of the bed. "Some fresh air will do you good."

"I'm not leaving until she wakes," Draco repeated what he had told the Healers. No doubt, they had sent Potter in to see if he could reason with him. Potter could try, but it wouldn't work. Draco didn't want to leave Hermione alone ever again. Not after what had happened.

He rested his head against Hermione's shoulder. Breathing in her scent, he swallowed hard. It had been four days since he had found her lying in a pool of her own blood. He about freaked at the sight of her there, sprawled out. Draco had thought she was dead. She wasn't, thank Merlin, but it didn't mean that she was doing well. He had managed to get her to St. Mungo's, leaving Scorpius with a house elf for momentarily.

She had a concussion, the Healers had informed Draco. She had also lost quite a bit of blood, though, they weren't so concerned with that any longer, as a blood replenisher had quickly fixed that problem.

It took quite a bit of arguing to be allowed to stay with her around the clock though. Draco insisted that the bond they shared could heal her, and even after pointing out that they had cured each other from the 'virus' that they had been diagnosed with several months ago, they told Draco that he had to leave after visiting hours were over, since he wasn't related to Hermione in anyway.

Apparently, being her boyfriend of nine months was clearly not enough, nor was being the father of her child. It was only after Potter pulled some strings (and Draco was sure more was involved than simple 'string pulling', Potter likely used his status as the Boy-Who-Lived to help move things along), was he given the green light to stay by her side.

Some Healers had a fit when they had found him lying next to her with Scorpius between them. One bitch even reported him to the Head Healer of that department, but that Healer did nothing to stop Draco, and even promised Draco that he would have no problem with her again after he threatened to see that her license was pulled if he saw her again.

Draco would just sue her, and if he went to the trouble in doing that, he'd made sure that she would lose everything.

He hadn't seen her even in the halls when he made the few much needed bathroom stops. It was good for the both of them. Draco would likely hex her if he had his wand— which he didn't have, though, he could do so without it, if she so deeply deserved it.

Not having his wand was part of the agreement to be permitted to stay with Hermione; he had to leave his wand with the hospital's security, after prior issues of his wand-waving tactics that he shouldn't have used at St. Mungo's.

Honestly, Draco was surprised that they didn't make that rule for everyone.

"Scorpius can't stay in this room hours-on-end, Malfoy," Potter continued. "Hermione wouldn't want that."

"Go away, Potter." Draco pulled his son close to his chest. Scorpius hadn't said much in those last couple days. He spent most of his time either crying, chewing on his fingers, or staring at his mother. Draco knew the baby was scared. Draco was too.

"Not unless you come with me."

"I'd expect you to be worried for your friend, Potter!" Draco snarled.

"I am, but I've seen what your bond can do. I also know that you could use a break. You're a ruddy mess. And my godson could use some stretching time. Hermione wouldn't want him cooped up in a small room. It's not healthy for him."

Draco rolled his eyes. "You don't know what's good for my son, Potter."

Potter sighed exasperatedly. "I could just send a message to your mother, then you'd have to argue with her."

"That's a cold move, Potter."

"She could look after Scorpius for a day or so."

"He's staying here with me! You may be his godfather, but I'm his father, and you have no actual authority over him! Worry about your own bloody family!"

Hermione let out a soft moan then, causing both men to look her way. Draco gently tapped her hand. "I'm here, Mione." She didn't answer, still unconscious, but she didn't make another moan.

"I'll watch her," Potter offered.

"She's my girlfriend; my bondmate. I'm watching her. I'm never letting her out of my sight again."

"Oh, really, Malfoy, you don't actually blame yourself for this, do you?"

Draco met Potter's eyes. "I shouldn't have left her alone. Not this late in the pregnancy. And now..." He swallowed hard, unable to finish his sentence.

"It's not your fault—"

"If you don't leave me be, Potter, I'm going to hex both your eyes out!"

"You've no wand," Potter cheekily pointed out.

Draco narrowed his eyes darkly. "I can apparate without a wand, Potter, do you honestly think I couldn't hex you without one?"

Potter pursed his lips. "Think about what I said about Scorpius, would you? At the very least?"

"At the very least," Draco promised half-heartedly. "But only if you leave. Now."

Potter was happy enough with that. He left after a short nod and a worried look sent toward Hermione.

"I'm sorry," Draco whispered to Hermione, bringing her hand up to his lips to kiss it. He then tucked it under his cheek and closed his eyes, wishing her well. "I cannot manage without you, love. Please wake up."

*/*

"Oi, Harry," Neville greeted just as Harry exited the department Hermione was admitted in. "How's Hermione?"

"They really aren't worried about her at the moment. She, herself, is doing all right, besides the unconsciousness, that is. What has the Healers concerned is the baby."

Neville nodded slowly, taking in the news. "What's wrong with the baby?"

"Hars!" Scorpius said through a mouthful of his hand.

Harry had finally convinced Draco to allow Scorpius some fresh air two days later, though the Slytherin still refused to leave the bedside of his girlfriend.

"If you so wish, Potter, take him down to the lunch room and get him something to eat— his nappy needs changed too!"

By the look Malfoy had made at those last few words, Harry assumed that he had never changed a smelly nappy in his life.

After four little ones, Harry was used to nappy changing though, and indeed, Scorpius was dirty.

"All better?" he asked his godson after changing him.

"Mina!" Scorpius replied. Harry was aware that that was what he called his mother.

"She'll be fine." Harry was worried for Hermione, but he had seen the bond work between his friend and her boyfriend. In truth, like the Healers, he was more concerned about the baby. The heartbeat of Hermione's baby daughter was racing to a speed that had the Healers stressing to calm it down, and no one was quite sure if the healing properties of the bond that Hermione and Malfoy shared could extend to the baby or not.

"The baby's heartbeat is racing. They're trying to calm her down now. Malfoy asked me to take Scorpius for a walk, to spare him the stress."

"Hope all goes well..."

"Me too..."

"I'm off to see my mum and dad, you can come with me if you want. Mum loves babies, I'm sure she'd like seeing Scorpius."

"Sure, I'm just waiting for Ginny anyway. She's dropping the kids off at her mother's to see Hermione for a little while before the visiting hours close."

Neville was right about Alice Longbottom loving babies. When she saw little Scorpius, she set the piece of gum that Neville had brought her down on the table beside her bed, and walked over to the baby. Her eyes were wide and bright, a smile was spread across her lips. She held her arms out, wordlessly asking to hold Scorpius. Her eyes didn't leave Scorpius.

"Of course, Alice." Harry was told to call her by her first name, as it was easier for her to recognize and respond to.

Scorpius had no arguments of the exchange, he didn't mind the stranger a bit, but Hermione did once tell Harry that there wasn't a soul she could think of who he had a problem with.

He kept an eye on Scorpius and Alice while Neville spoke a few words to his dad, who seemed to love Neville's stories as an Auror.

"You?!" Frank exclaimed when Neville had told him about trying to catch a loose rabid ape that had escaped a cage at a circus.

Neville blushed, still unaccustomed to people thinking he did brave things, especially his own father (who still didn't comprehend Neville's relation to him).

"Yes," Neville answered in a mumble. "I was scared, but it was going to rip a man to shreds. I had to save him."

"Yes," Frank agreed. "Me too!"

"Your baby?" Alice spoke up next to Harry.

"Dooge," Scorpius said, mesmerized by Alice's necklace, fingering it. It was a red outline of a cow.

"My necklace," she told the baby, explaining its presence around her neck.

"Dahs," the baby whispered, staring at it.

"Can't have," Alice said sternly. "Mine."

Scorpius scrunched up his face, making Harry think he was going to cry, but the only sound that came out of the baby's mouth was a grunt. "Dooge," he repeated the 'word' he had said moments earlier.

"Shall I take him back, Alice?" Harry persuaded her with his hands out. She nodded, giving Scorpius back to Harry.

"Cute baby!" she complimented. She stared at Scorpius, clutching her necklace possessively in a fist. "My necklace," she said hollowly.

"Yes, that's yours."

"He cannot have."

"Hahs." Scorpius made to copy the word she used.

"Mine."

"He was simply admiring your beautiful necklace, Mum," Neville cut in, smiling gently at her.

She returned the smile, nodding vigorously. "My necklace. Beautiful necklace!"

"Very beautiful," Harry agreed.

Harry took Scorpius up for lunch after that. His godson wouldn't eat much though, even with a little coaxing from Harry. Harry attempted to get him to eat for an hour before deciding that maybe it was just best to take him back up to his mum and dad.

Ginny was there when Harry returned to Hermione's room. She stood up from her chair where she had been trying to talk to a depressed Draco Malfoy, and cooed over Scorpius.

"Mina," Scorpius pointed at his mother. "Baby hars."

"Yup, Mama's going to have a baby, Scorpius. Are you ready to be a big brother?" Ginny asked him. Her eyes were a little blotchy from stressing over her friend. Scorpius noticed this and touched her face with his hand.

"Baby."

"Go talk to your daddy," she whispered in Scorpius ear, before setting him down at the foot of Hermione's bed.

"Derblah," Scorpius called, immediately turning his attention to his dad, crawling up between his parents' bodies.

"Chomper," Draco acknowledged him, pulling his gaze from Hermione. "Did you have a good lunch?"

"Dooge," the baby answered quietly.

Draco narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Dooge?"

Scorpius touched a finger to his chest. "Dooge, Derblah!"

Draco shook his head and sighed, not up for deciphering his son's language today. He pulled Scorpius up into his lap and kissed the top of his head.

"No, he didn't eat much, Malfoy," Harry informed him. "You, yourself, may have to see if you can get him to eat, because he wouldn't for me."

Ginny nibbled on her lip. "Should a Healer look over him?"

"I don't think anything's wrong with him, besides worry, that is," Draco assured them. "But I'll see if I can get him to eat. Thanks, Potter," he added the last quietly.

"It was nothing." And it wasn't. Scorpius was simple to handle compared to what awaited him at home every night— not that Harry didn't like coming home to his ever-growing family, but three little ones, with an occasional fourth because of Teddy, could wear anyone out after a day of work.

*/*

Scorpius wanted to help. He wanted to help his godfather's friend with his parents, and he wanted to help Mina and Derblah with the baby. He just didn't know how he could. He was only a baby himself, after all. He knew he had the potential; he understood that he was part of a bond that his parents started, and that he was special being, but Scorpius wasn't sure how to begin the whole process.

His baby sister wouldn't settle down in Mina's tummy— that much he heard from the Healers. They were afraid of what would happen if she wouldn't stop thrashing around. No one could explain why she was so hyper. Scorpius didn't know either, but he knew what they were saying as Mina's tummy moved around a lot from his sister's hands, feet, arms, or/and legs.

Maybe that was why Mina moaned a lot while she slept. That constant movement must have been very uncomfortable.

Alice's necklace wouldn't get out of Scorpius's mind either. She had thought that he had wanted it. He hadn't. It just intrigued him, reminding him of something he couldn't quite place. It was important, he knew, and it frustrated him that he couldn't come up with the reason why it was necessary to keep thinking about it.

And Derblah wasn't a help. He didn't feel like doing anything while Mina was stuck in her sleep. Scorpius was worried about her, sure, but Derblah wasn't functioning. Maybe that was one of the bad things about the bond his parents shared.

He lay tucked in his father's arms, watching his father just stare at Mina. It was not healthy to do that, Scorpius knew. Derblah was literally sick with worry.

Scorpius reached up to touch the mound of his mother's breast. If she would wake up, maybe Derblah could go back to normal. Then he might be able to understand Scorpius and help him with his thoughts.

In the corner of his eye, he saw something move. It was Mina's stomach. His baby sister. Scorpius pulled himself up onto his bottom for a better look; his father barely noticed that he had moved. He climbed up to his knees, watching his sister kick around.

She was unhappy, he could tell. She kicked and kicked. If she was out, she may have even been screaming too.

Scorpius pressed his face to his mother's tummy, patting it with a hand. "Okay," he told the baby.

He felt Derblah's hand pet down his hair. It was long now, since it hadn't been cut yet, coming down to just below his neck. Derbla said nothing as he stroked his head.

"Okay, baby," Scorpius said to his sister.

Maybe, if his sister relaxed, his mother would wake up.

*/*

She groaned, placing both hands to her head. It hurt so horribly bad! It was tender to the touch, so she dropped her hands as to not irritate it further. She grunted, pulling the blankets from her body, needing a potion to rid her of this headache.

"Hermione!" Draco gasped, sounding shocked and relieved.

"What?" She winced, opening her eyes, before instantly shutting them close. "Merlin, why is it so bright in here?!" she demanded. Instantly, the room darkened.

"How are you feeling?" He was at her side a split-second later, eagerly asking her an abundance of questions. Hermione didn't have the chance to answer one before the next was asked. She now realized how annoying it must be when she did it to everyone else around her.

"Just get me a potion to soothe my headache! And my stomach!" She groaned. "My gosh, it's like something is trying to claw out of it!"

"It's the baby," Draco explained cautiously while Hermione stood up, taking in her surroundings.

"What happened...?" she asked slowly. She wasn't at home. Something must have happened. She sat back down to recollect her thoughts. The last she remembered was sitting down to read a book.

"There was an accident," Draco told her. "You got a pretty good cut on your head— the shelf in Scorpius's room fell on you. Do you remember?"

Hermione shook her head, wrapping her arms around her stomach. The pain was increasing there. Her breathing picked up.

"Is she okay?!" Hermione asked, cutting him off. He had continued to explain what was going on, filling her in on what was happening to the baby.

"I don't know," Draco admitted quietly. "Now that you're awake, the Healers should look you over again. The baby has been flipping out all this time."

"It really hurts down there..." Hermione crawling back into bed, not wanting to upset the baby further. "I do hope she's okay, Draco." She clamped her hand around his forearm, giving him a serious look.

He nodded, swallowing hard. "She'll be fine, Mione. Let me go get a Healer, all right?"

Hermione inhaled a deep breath, stifling a moan from the pain. "Okay. Please hurry!"

Ron came by a few minutes after had Draco disappeared. "I overheard Malfoy say that you're awake. How you doing? Is the baby okay, do you know?"

"I'm so scared," she gasped, gritting her teeth. "I'm so scared that something's wrong, why else would her heart beat so fast?"

"There's been faster fetal heart beats, Hermione, try not to worry too much."

"How can I not; after what happened? We both could have died!"

"But you didn't, and at least she has a heart beat, a slower beating heart is something to concern yourself more with, and that's not the case with your baby. She'll be fine, especially now that you're awake. I'm sure the Healers will give you a few instructions to go home with, and then they'll release you. Just you wait and see."

"Yeah..." She thought on Ron's words. The ache in her stomach didn't add up to all he had said though. She could only hope he was right, but deep down, she had this awful feeling that something was wrong with her little daughter.

They observed Hermione for three more days, keeping close watch on the baby, having to give something to Hermione for pain. The baby never did settle down though.

The Head Healer finally came in, equipped with Hermione's chart and his wand. "There's been no change, Miss Granger," he started, flipping through the papers. "If your daughter continues this, it can lead to damage to both you and the baby."

Hermione felt Draco's hand tighten around her. His head ducked down low, looking at their conjoined hands.

"Why is she acting this way, Healer SpruceBee? It is my fault— the accident—, right?"

"It's my fault," Draco firmly told her, kissing her hand. "I should never have left you alone."

"No, it's not your fault, Draco!" Hermione cried. "I must have done something stupid! I wish I could remember what happened!"

"This condition was not brought on by the accident," Healer SpruceBee told them. "It's rare, but your baby has Restless Fetal Syndrome, nothing you've done had any affect on her. She was going to get it with or without the occurrence of your accident, Miss Granger. In most cases, babies with RFS will thrash around about once every three days or so after the thirtieth week of the pregnancy, but sometimes they don't stop at all."

"You mean she will be like this for another nine weeks?" Hermione asked in disbelief.

"No." Was the answer she received. "If your baby continued this up, she'd not make it the full term."

"I'm not liking where this is going, Healer..." Draco spoke up. He pursed his lips until they turned white. "What's going to happen to our daughter?"

The Healer frowned in thought, and Hermione crashed her head against Draco's chest. "No, Healer SpruceBee, please don't tell me—"

"There's a procedure we can do," he quickly said before she completed her dreaded sentence. "We can pull her out early. She'll be small, and need to be watched very closely, but your daughter will have a much bigger chance in survival than if you were to just wait to see what she would do. RFS babies tend to choke themselves off before their delivery date, getting the umbilical wrapped around their necks.

"If she's born too early, won't she be severely under developed? Isn't this the time when she develops her lungs and brain? What quality of life is she going to have at this point in time? And how's this to affect her magical core?"

"Mr. Malfoy, twelve percent of the babies born here are born before the thirty-sixth week. They are usually healthy."

"But we're not talking thirty-six weeks here, we're talking thirty-one. That's five weeks earlier than the healthy early births."

"How much bigger is the chance of survival if I have her now?"

"Ninety-five percent if you had her now. If you waited until she was born naturally, her chance in surviving is only nine percent..."

Hermione hugged Draco tightly, hiding her face, sniffing. Draco stiffened to the news. He brought their hands to the squirming baby in her stomach. "What of her brain, lungs, and magic?" he asked. "What kind of life will she have if she's born now?"

"With proper care and exercises, she may function just fine."

"And if she doesn't?"

"It will have to be something that you can only wait and see what happens."

"What if we wait a week?" Draco asked in desperation. "That would give her some extra time. What would be the chances then?"

"Each week, as she grows more in size, the risk of her fatally harming herself and her mother increases. I do not advise waiting much longer— though the decision is Miss Granger's. It is her body, after all. Her life is at risk here too."

He left then, so they could talk.

Draco felt along his girlfriend's stomach, feeling his daughter poke at him. "There's not really a choice here, is there?"

Hermione shook her head against his chest, as it was still buried in it. "We don't even have a name for her..." She let out a fake laugh, failing at lightening up the mood.

He chuckled and kissed her head."We best have my Mother and Father bring Scorpius here so he can finally draw up one of our names, our little princess is going to need a name."

*/*

He insisted on being around for the delivery of his daughter. Potter had warned him that it was a gory sight, but he was going to be there for Hermione. He promised her.

"Just stay up here," Ginny advised him at one side of Hermione's, near her shoulder. He did as she instructed, not wanting to scar his mind any more than it was already going to be after today.

The Healers had to give Hermione a very special potion to start her labour. It took hours for it to happen though. Ginny and Draco helped Hermione walk around to keep her from falling, as the pain made her nearly double over.

Draco felt so awful when she started screaming in pain, pleading for help. He was helpless, unable to do anything besides stand there for moral support. "I know, love, I'm sorry...!" He'd never have sex with her again after this! His poor Hermione...! "You can do this, you can...!"

He'd not be able to use his left hand after today either!

*/*

She was born on May 22nd, weighing at only three pounds, eleven ounces, less than half the size that Scorpius was. She didn't cry. Not even after Healer SpruceBee swatted her bottom to encourage it, but with several diagnostic spells, they learned that there was nothing wrong with her— at least for her size and time of her premature birth.

After cleaning her up, they gave her several potions, including one that would help to develop her lungs, injecting them into her mouth slowly with a syringe.

The tiny baby, who had soft, fluffy brown hair was first handed off to Draco, who was told to pass her along to Hermione. He couldn't help but to pause in his steps though, staring at the tiny, little thing he had helped make. She was the smallest baby he had ever seen. Draco could not believe how light she was; lighter than a sack of flour. They were going to have to shrink everything they had bought for her, just so she could fit into them.

But he didn't care. Instantly, he was in love with her. One look was all it took.

"Draco?" Hermione prompted.

He looked up. His eyes were blurred from the tears that had clouded them. He laughed softly, embarrassed by the sudden emotion flooding throughout him. He finally set her down on Hermione's chest, where his girlfriend immediately started gushing tears. "She has my hair!"

Draco bent down to kiss Hermione's forehead. "Marry me, Hermione. Let's finally make our family whole."

Chapter Text

Hermione stared up at her smiling boyfriend, dumbfounded by his unexpected question. She had gotten used to the idea that the man would never commit to an actual marriage, confusing her all the while, since they may as well had been married to begin with.

Her eyes watered. She couldn't say anything, her throat was shut tightly from emotion, both from the recent birth of her daughter and that Draco had finally decided that he wanted to marry her! She burst out in happy sobs, barely managing an, "Oh, Draco!"

He was kneeling down before her— not in a stance of a man proposing, but instead, he was stroking the sweaty hair at Hermione's forehead, patiently waiting for her to give him her official answer.

"It's the perfect day," he whispered encouragingly when she said nothing, blinking back a tear of his own. Quickly, he wiped it away and sniffed. "There's no better one, Mione," he continued. "The day of our little girl's birth—" He stopped abruptly and turned his head to the baby. Their tiny daughter had gone to sleep sometime during Draco's 'popping' the question and now, sleeping almost soundlessly.

"I know what her name's going to be," he said suddenly, decisively.

Hermione refrained from sitting up straighter in the bed, puzzled by his words. She didn't want to disturb the sleeping baby.

"Aurora, I thought? Right?"

He had been the lucky one: Scorpius had drawn up Draco's name, and her boyfriend had whooped in pure excitement, "Thank Merlin! I couldn't live with having to call her Rose all the time!" This had earned an annoyed huff from Hermione. He immediately chose Aurora, which the name had grown on Hermione, and she had thought it was okay, but claimed that she'd call the baby Rora— it was close to Rose. She could accept that.

"No, not that." He shook his head, taking their daughter's small hand and setting it onto the palm on his own. Draco's hand was incredibly large in comparison to hers. "Talitha," he announced.

"Talitha?" Hermione scrunched up her nose. She had really liked the idea of calling her Rora.

"It means 'little girl', Hermione," Draco explained. "The Healer told us she'll be small— even when she'll attend Hogwarts. It's perfect for her. Our little princess, our little star, Talitha— Talli. We'll call her Talli." Draco leaned forward, gently kissing the little hand. "How's that sound?" he asked the sleeping baby.

"Talli Jane..." Hermione thought out loud, adding the middle name that she had chosen herself. Jane still sounded fine with the new name. Better than with Aurora, she decided. And Talli wasn't too 'out there'; a unique, yet, normal sounding name. She wouldn't be made fun of for it anyway. Hermione nodded. Yes, it was a good, fitting name for their daughter.

She smiled. Talitha was part of Ursa Major. Hermione adored the idea that Draco had named their daughter after a star in the Great Bear constellation.

"Okay," she agreed. "Talitha Jane Granger-Malfoy she shall be named."

"And shall you be called Hermione Malfoy?"

"Hermione Granger-Malfoy," she firmly corrected him, grinning at his eye roll.

"Alright, fine, if you insist! So?"

Hermione laughed at his need for a direct answer. She nodded, happily biting down on her bottom lip. "Yes!" she squealed, bursting out into giggles. "Of course, I'll marry you, Draco!"

*/*

"Oh, my precious!" Mrs. Malfoy squealed in a high enough pitch to make visibly Draco wince. Her excitement when she found out she would have a granddaughter was nothing compared to when she saw Talli for the first time. She started blubbering just at the sight of her and needed no coaxing from Draco to take Talli from him. She took the baby into her arms, crying her eyes out, unable to remove them from the now wide awake infant.

Talli started grunting and wiggling, upset from being stirred awake by Mrs. Malfoy's reaction to the sight of her.

"She's so pretty, so sweet! My little darling." The grandma kissed her newest grandchild on her forehead. "She looks just like you, Hermione!" she exclaimed through a giggle. "Only with the Malfoy eyes!"

"She's quite tiny..." Mr. Malfoy scrutinized in concern.

"Oh, Draco was born early too!" His wife shrugged it off. "Talitha will be just fine, won't you, baby girl?!"

Talli responded by stretching her neck and letting out a grunt.

"Has she been nursed?" Mrs. Malfoy suddenly asked.

"Narci, I'm sure—"

"I actually won't be able to nurse her, Mrs. Malfoy," Hermione informed from her location on the bed. She was sitting on it, nibbling slowly on her breakfast, watching the scene. "Talli is unable to get a good latching, so we'll have to feed her by bottle that will have to have an easy feed nipple."

"But yes, Mother," Draco added, "of course, she's been fed. This isn't our first child, if you can recall."

"Just making sure," Mrs. Malfoy said absently, making a silly face at the newborn infant. She hugged her close to her, swaying gently. "Grandmother loves you!" Then the woman laughed. "She just hiccuped! Oh, she sounded so cute!"

Draco snorted. "So is that baby vomit on your expensive dress! Yick!" Mrs. Malfoy didn't mind a bit, but Hermione cast a quick cleansing spell just the same.

Nothing could bring the woman down that day.

*/*

So this was his sister, Scorpius mused, eying her closely over. Derbla had decided to name her Talitha, and Mina chose Jane for her middle name. He figured that it would be a while before he could say her name right; the 'th' sound was difficult to say, often coming out as 'der'. He hated that. It was good that Derbla said it'd be okay to call her Talli, that would be much easier to learn to say.

Talli slept a lot, Scorpius noted, but with the way she had been thrashing around in Mina's tummy, he assumed s