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Her Number One Fan

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On the outside looking in, Hermione Granger had graduated from Hogwarts at the top of her class, she was Head Girl and lauded as the Brightest Witch of the Age. But on the inside, Hermione Granger was slowly withering away. The war had taken her parents from her, as she hadn’t been able to reverse the memory charm she’d placed on them.

They were firmly ensconced in Australia, blissfully unaware they’d ever had a daughter.

Hermione’s relationship with Ronald Weasley had fizzled out before ever really getting started. When Ron and Harry had decided to forego returning to Hogwarts to finish their education, leaving Hermione on her own. Ron had soon discovered that being a War Hero had some obvious perks, one of them was having witches throwing themselves at his feet. He had told Hermione in a letter, that he didn’t want to be tied down and needed to explore his options which had devastated her completely and left her crying for days in the Head Girls dormitory.

Harry hadn’t sided with her. He had tried as always, to make excuses for Ron’s poor behavior and lack of good judgement. Hermione was at first shocked, then hurt—then angry at Harry. She had stood by him through everything and because he didn’t want to offend his surrogate family, Hermione was once again, on the outside looking in.

When school ended, Hermione had talked to the Minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt and turned down his generous offer to join the Ministry. She didn’t want to be anywhere near Harry or Ron. So with bags packed and her Gringotts account closed and the proceeds from her Order of Merlin First Class as well as the substantial trust fund her parents had set up for her, Hermione Jean Granger left Wizarding Britain for parts unknown.

The press had a field day when word got out that Hermione had disappeared...and no one...friend nor foe, seemed to know what had happened to her. Harry had realized much too late that he’d hurt his best friend one time too many and now she was gone...possibly for good. Ron didn’t understand what the big fuss was about as it wasn’t like he and Harry weren’t still around for the Daily Prophet to fawn over.

Hermione had decided to travel to Italy and found herself in Verona, where she bought a small little bookstore that catered to Muggle tourists, and had a small magical population. In her spare time, Hermione had decided try her hand at being an author. She had a wealth of stories to choose from, and so began the Tales of Imogene. Children’s stories based on a young girl who comes into an inheritance and discovers she’s an empath who can converse with animals.

Utilizing some of her own personal experiences from school—like turning into a cat from taking Polyjuice Potion in second year—Hermione’s first novel become an instant international best seller with both Magical and Muggles alike, under the pseudonym Astrid Jean Devereaux. After a couple years, and three best sellers later, her publisher begged Hermione to embark on a book tour, which would necessitate her returning to England at some point.

After pondering the possibilities, Hermione decided to create a long term glamour over herself. She tried several variations, but in the end chose one that she felt suited her best. Gone were her bushy curls and in its place, long straight strawberry blonde locks fell down to her waist. She didn’t change much about her figure as she’d filled out quite nicely since she’d left England. Gone was the sickly, stick thin figure and in its place, voluptuous curves that she’d noticed many of her patrons over the years, ogling. Taking a colovaria potion for her eyes as well as her hair, Hermione’s eyes were now a striking iced green color with subtle gold flecks. All in all, she had to admit, her transformation was stunning. Brimming with new found confidence, Hermione told her publisher that she’d be happy to do a book tour....as long as no one knew that Astrid Devereaux was in reality, Hermione Jean Granger.

Her first stop on her book tour was in Wizarding Paris at a bookstore on the Rue de Magique. The place was packed with Wizards and Witches hoping to get to meet the famous and reclusive author. Hermione spent the entire day signing books for her fans, young and old alike. Most of the children were eager to meet here, and the French Wizarding Press reported the entire event, her latest novel becoming an overnight sensation.

From France, Hermione traveled to Barcelona, New York, Sydney, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Venice. Everywhere she went she was followed by the Press, asking her questions about her personal life, if she was dating anyone and where she received the inspirations for her stories. Hermione was always polite, but never gave too much away. She valued her privacy and knew if it was revealed that Astrid Devereaux was really Hermione Granger, she’d never have a moments peace again.

Her last stop on her book tour nearly a year later was in London. She’d done a few stops in some prominent Muggle bookshops, and was slated to do a book signing a Flourish and Blotts the following afternoon. She’d been away from England for over three years, and found she really didn’t miss it all that much.

Hermione’s glamour had been perfected with a simple charm that she’d imbued in a necklace that she always wore when she was touring. It was easier than applying a charm everyday, and this way, no random ‘finites’ could cause her glamour to drop unexpectedly. When she walked into Diagon Alley, she passed by Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and decided to drop in to see if George was there. As luck would have it, he was working behind the counter. When he saw her walk in as Astrid Devereaux, he quickly made his way over and introduced himself.

Hermione had smiled warmly and perused through the aisles, asking questions about products that she’d helped develop. George had always been faithful in depositing a small amount each quarter into her dummy account at Gringotts, where the Goblins kept the money under an assumed name. George never tried to contact her directly, and it was probably just as well as he was Ron’s brother and loyal to his family.

When it was time, Hermione made her way to Flourish and Blotts and was overwhelmed by how many witches and wizards were lined up for the book signing. Sitting down with a quill in hand, she happily signed and chatted with each patron as they came into the store. After an hour, a small little boy with pale blond locks placed her newest book on the table. He was simply adorable, pale grey eyes and white blonde hair. Hermione smiled and took the boom from the tyke.

”And whom should I make this out to?”

The boy smiled widely and whispered loudly, “Scrpius Mawfoy.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she looked at the cute little boy, whose eyes and hair were just like Malfoy’s.

Looking around the room she saw Draco standing there, looking at his son fondly, while the boy just waved at his daddy.

Hermione reached for the book and smiled softly at the boy.

“Is there anything special you’d like me to write, Scorpius?”

Shaking his head, the boy ran over to his daddy and buried his face in Draco’s trousers, causing him to pick up his son and give him a cuddle.

“Come on, Champ.  Are you sure you don’t want Miss Devereaux to sign something special just for you?”

Scorpius shook his head and smiled shyly, causing Hermione’s eyes to soften at how gentle Draco seemed to be with his son. She had no idea Draco had gotten married, much less had a son.

“How old are you, Scorpius?”

Holding his hand out, Scorpius put up two fingers and grinned. “I two years old.”

“You’re a big boy then. Well, here you go, Scorpius. Thank you for coming to see me today.”

“Yours welcome, Miss Devraux.”

Hermione’s laughter filtered through the air, and Draco gave her a strange look, but accepted the book graciously.

“Thank you for taking the time with Scorpius, Miss Devereaux. He is your biggest fan.”

Green eyes sparkled as she looked at the young boy, who was watching her closely.

“Is that so? Are you my biggest fan, Scorpius?”

The young boy nodded enthusiastically, causing Hermione to laugh again.

“Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret then. I’m writing a new book, and it should be coming out in a few months. If you like, I can send you a special copy before anyone else gets one. Would you like that?”

Scorpius nodded again and jumped down from his father’s arms, running over and giving Hermione a fierce hug.

“Tank, you Miss Devraux.”

“You’re very welcome, Scorpius.”

Draco, who’d been watching the entire scene with interest, nodded politely and thanked her again. Returning the gesture, Hermione was soon caught up with her other customers, although she couldn’t forget about the sweet little boy with bright grey eyes and a happy smile.

A few months later, good to her word....her newest novel: Imogene meets a Hippogriff! was packaged and owled to a very special fan—the dedication of the book read: To Scorpius, my #1 fan...Best Wishes and Happiness...Astrid Devereaux.

Chapter Text

It had been an interesting afternoon for Draco the day he’d taken Scorpius to Flourish and Blotts to meet the esteemed author Astrid Devereaux. Scorpius had fallen in love with her books and for the past month, he’d carried her newest edition around with him everywhere. Even his parents thought the gift had been thoughtful, and had been surprised when they’d read the dedication in the book, as had Draco.

Scorpius had been thrilled, and every night as Draco read the story of Imogene meets a Hippogriff, Scorpius pointed out that the book was his, because his name was inside on the front page. Draco had smiled at his son’s enthusiasm, his child not having much to smile about since his birth.

Draco had been betrothed to Astoria Greengrass from his fifth year at Hogwarts and her third. He’d rarely paid the younger witch much thought until the war had ended. Foregoing his last year, he’d left England after the trials were done for a bit. He and his mother had been acquitted and his father had faced house arrest for a year following the war. Draco had left for Paris and had stayed in the Malfoy property there. The magical community a bit less hostile to his family than they were in England, where he couldn’t go out into public without being ridiculed and scorned for his previous choices...Hah! As if he’d had a choice after all, but no one cared about such things.

Not even when the Savior of the Wizarding World stands up and testifies on your behalf!

The staunch Pureblood supporters of Voldemort who’d gotten away with their misdeeds, had shunned him and his parents. Draco had only two friends that had stayed loyal after the war: Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson. Pansy, was even more despised than he was, despite not taking the mark, due to her actions before the final battle in offering up the Chosen One to old snake face. She had left England and went to Italy with Blaise, where the two of them remained currently.

Whilst in Paris, Draco had run into Astoria and her older sister Daphne who had been in his year. Their parents leaving England during the height of the war, which Draco applauded. He and Astoria had spent an afternoon just talking at a cafe on the Rue de Magique and from there, a tentative friendship was born.

It wasn’t too long after that, Draco had discovered the truth about the real reason Astoria was in Paris that summer. She was afflicted with a rare family blood curse and the healers in England didn’t seem to have a clue how to treat it. Apparently this information hadn’t been disclosed by her family when the betrothal contracts had been negotiated and signed by her father, and when Lucius found out he was livid! The likelihood of Astoria producing an Heir was highly unlikely as she wouldn’t survive much beyond her eighteenth birthday.

Afraid they’d lose most of their fortune, the Greengrass’s offered up Daphne as a substitute, despite her betrothal to Theodore Nott, but Draco had refused. He and Daphne had never gotten along and the thought of being bound to her made him cringe. So it had been decided that on Astoria’s seventeenth birthday, she and Draco would marry and as luck would have it...almost nine months later...Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy was born—his mother dying to bring him into the world and thereby, fulfilling her family’s contract to the Malfoy’s.

Draco had been heartbroken as he’d come to truly care for Astoria. He’d taken gentle care of her during her pregnancy, and when word had gotten out about their marriage and the circumstances surrounding it, public perception changed slightly. Oh, not enough that most people didn’t glare and say hateful things when he walked by—but at least the threats of violence against him had stopped.

The first time Draco had taken Scorpius out into Diagon Alley to visit the Apothecary for a teething salve, the owner of the shoppe had given him a hard look, but serviced him as he could see and hear Scorpius’ discomfort. The small infant crying into his daddy’s shoulder as he whimpered and sucked on his fingers in pain, softened even the hardest of hearts that day.

A few patrons had been in the shop, including Molly Weasley who had come over and said hello, giving him some friendly tips on how to help Scorpius which Draco had been grateful for. Surprisingly, the Weasley Matriarch had offered to help if he should ever have need of it, saddened as she was to hear about Astoria’s death and felt strongly that every child needed their mother.

Draco, had graciously thanked her for her kindness. He would’ve never expected such consideration from any of the Weasley’s. It was well known that the family had run into a bit of a public relations nightmare of their own when Granger had disappeared from England after graduating from Hogwarts only a few months prior. Everyone, including himself, had expected the brains of the Golden Trio to enter the Ministry and take it by storm but that hadn’t happened. No one knew where she’d gone or what had happened to her. Potter had been devastated, but the Weasel had acted as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

It hadn’t taken long for the real story to come out however. Rita Skeeter had broken the exclusive a month after Granger had left. Apparently, Ronald Weasley had decided he’d rather liked the fame and attention that had come with being a War Hero and had dumped Granger unceremoniously in a letter—leaving the former Head Girl devastated. Potter hadn’t sided with Granger, most likely due to his place within the Weasley family at the time.

If Skeeter had thought she was damaging Granger’s reputation, (the hatred between the two witches was legendary) the outing of the news along with Granger’s disappearance had the exact opposite effect, with many of those within the Magical Community.

It was widely believed that although Potter was the Chosen One, he’d have never survived without the brains of their little triad, and everyone knew it. Whilst she may have been a Muggle-born, Hermione Granger was indeed lauded as the Brightest Witch of the Age. She’d withstood torture, lied during it, had stayed with Potter during their year on the run, never abandoning the idiot despite Weasley’s defection early on. She had obliviated her parents to keep them safe, sent them to hide and had been unable to reverse the memory charm. She had sacrificed everything to help Potter win the war and had been left behind by her closest friends as a result.

It was truly deplorable, thought Draco sadly.

When the entire story had been reported, the backlash had been tremendous and the Minister of Magic himself had to come out and call a press conference. He had assured the magical community that Hermione Granger was still alive, but no longer living within the British communities and had no immediate plans to return. Ever. Draco had been shocked by that more than anything else that had come before. After all she’d suffered and sacrificed, it would seem that even Hermione Granger had a breaking point.

Even Lucius, who despised Muggle-born’s, had tutted over the news as he’d owed the witch a debt. She’d testified for he and his family. Not personally, but in a letter she’d sent via the Minister stating she didn’t blame them for her torture at Malfoy Manor and could see the family was clearly under duress. She’d commended Draco for not identifying Harry, and said if it hadn’t been for that, they would’ve never been able to escape.

It was far kinder than he or his family had deserved, but had been appreciated nonetheless.

Now he was a single father, and Scorpius was all he really had in the world. He cared for his parents, loved them it was true— but after everything they’d seen and witnessed they still believed staunchly in blood superiority and Draco just couldn’t abide by that line of thinking anymore.

Not after everything.

So it had been a bit of a surprise that day in Diagon Alley when he’d met the noted Astrid Devereaux and seen her kindness towards his son. She had been sweet and thoughtful and Scorpius, who never took much to anyone, had gone to her without a second thought only to be caught up in a loving embrace. There was no judgement in the witch’s beautiful green eyes, just calm acceptance.

It was unexpected but refreshing to know that not everyone looked down upon he and his son.

When Ms. Devereaux had laughed at one point, Draco had been taken aback. He could’ve sworn he’d heard that laugh before, but couldn’t place it at that time. When he and Scorpius returned to their home just outside of London (he refused to live at Malfoy Manor and raise his son there despite his Father’s protests), that laugh had haunted him for weeks.

Scorpius however, talked non-stop about his favorite author and his favorite book and his happiness was contagious. Draco had sent an owl thanking Ms. Devereaux for her kindness but had never received an reply which he’d thought odd. As he sat down outside in the backyard of his home, watching Scorpius playing in his sandbox, Draco couldn’t help but let his mind drift back to that fateful day in Diagon Alley.

He was sure there was something he was missing when it came to Astrid Devereaux. He just couldn’t for the life of him, pinpoint what that something was.

Chapter Text

When Hermione had returned back to Verona, where she had left her little bookshop in the care of an older Italian woman she’d met her first month in Italy, she was just glad to be home. The woman Maria, was a Muggle. In fact, Hermione was fairly certain that there weren’t any magical stores or enclaves anywhere near Verona and it was the main reason she’d chosen to settle here after leaving London.

After she’d gotten home, Hermione had spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about her time in London, particularly the fact that her former classmate and childhood bully, Draco Malfoy, was now a father of an adorable two-year-old son. Scorpius had been like a breath of fresh air. His sweet disposition and genuinely friendly nature made it almost improbable to believe that he was Draco’s child. If it hadn’t been for the striking resemblance, Hermione would’ve never believed a child as sweet as Scorpius could have been raised by someone as hateful as Draco Malfoy.

Shaking her head in exasperation, Hermione had decided when she’d sent Scorpius the promised book that she’d forget about London and everything there but her mind kept coming around to the same questions over and over again. Who was Scorpius’ mother? And how in Godric’s name could anyone stand to be married to Draco sodding Malfoy?

After what Harry and Ron had done and how much they’d hurt her. Hermione was loathe to admit it, but she really had very little in the way of fond memories of England and had no desire to ever return there.

Looking out the window of her flat, she smiled at how beautiful the day was. The blue shutters on her window were opened to the balcony below, which had a French door that led out onto a small patio that housed a tiny table and one chair. Her two bedroom flat was above her bookshop, and she had bought the building a little over a year ago from Maria’s elderly Aunt, who was more than happy to sell it for a reasonable price.

Maria had lost her husband several years ago and she’d never had any children, so she had kinda adopted Hermione when she’d first moved to Verona. It had taken Hermione about six months to become fluent in Italian as she’d already spoken French quite well, being born in Paris and having French grandparents on her Mother’s side. Hermione had shared about the loss of her parents in general terms and the fact that she had no family to speak of. When she’d lost Harry to Ronald all remaining family ties to England had been severed so for all intents and purposes—Hermione Granger was alone in the world.

Maria had been a godsend and had taken it upon herself to include Hermione in her family celebrations. Though childless, Maria had six siblings and a dozen nieces and nephews. The Graziano family was full of warmth and love and Hermione had fallen in love with them from the beginning.

The fact that Verona didn’t have any magical enclaves-the closest one located in Milan, which was a couple hours drive away made Hermione feel secure in the knowledge that the likelihood of anyone from the magical world finding her here was highly unlikely.

Getting ready to open the bookstore for the day, Hermione decided to run to the bakery around the corner for a coffee and pastry and was on her way back to the shop when she ran into Maria.

“Buongiorno, Hermione,” Maria waved from across the street, “Sei pronto per la giornata?”

(Good morning Hermione, are you ready for the day?)

“Si, sto solo facendo colazione.”

(Yes, just getting breakfast)

“Bene bene, ci vediamo dopo cena?” 

(Good good, will I see you for dinner later?)

“Stasera vado a scrivere un po’, che ne dici di domani?”

(I’m going to do some writing tonight, how about tomorrow?)

“Bene bene domani va bene. Fino ad allora!”

(Good good tomorrow is fine. Until then!)

Unlocking the door to her bookstore, Hermione set her coffee and pastry behind the counter before checking to make sure she had everything in order for the day. When she was reasonably assured that everything was ready, Hermione opened the door and went to grab a book.

It was mid-summer and her store was reasonably busy during the height of the tourist season. She had many travel guides and sightseeing brochures for vacationers as well as historical literature on Verona and some of closer surrounding cities like Padua. There was an extensive Shakespeare collection of literature as well a smattering of Muggle camera film, batteries, pens, pencils, papers, journals and Collectibles for tourists to peruse through. Her own books under her pen name were prominently displayed in the window and she had an extensive collection of children’s literature for all ages.

The day passed by swiftly and it was near closing when the doorbell chimed signaling a customer had walked into her establishment. When Hermione looked up, her eyes went wide and then her face paled in recognition of the patron.

Dark eyes stared back at her in surprise, as the gentleman’s face betrayed his shock before his expression cleared and he bowed politely in greeting.

“Quindi questo e dove ti sei nascosto?”

(So this is where you’ve been hiding?)

Hermione’s gaze narrowed briefly as she gripped her wand that was stashed away inside her pocket before she answered.

“Cosa ci fai qui, Zabini?”

(What are you doing here, Zabini?)

Blaise, noticing the Gryffindor’s defensive stance, put his hands up placatingly, showing that he meant no harm.

“I’m here on vacation, Granger.” Zabini said, switching back to English.

Hermione considered him before she relaxed her stance and nodded. “Can I help you find something?”

Blaise chuckled but shook his head. “I think I just found something.”

Hermione grimaced but chose not to respond to the comment. Blaise grinned as he sat down on a stool near the counter, his dark eyes taking in her appearance.

“How long have you been here in Verona?”

“A few years.” Hermione offered, hoping that the wizard would just leave, but knowing that his Slytherin nature would never allow him to do so without an interrogation first.

“No one knows where you are,” Blaise stated unequivocally, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve managed to find a place to hide in plain sight. You always were good at hiding when you needed to.”

Hermione glared at the Slytherin, who just smirked back in challenge. “I would appreciate it if you could just forget you ever saw me Zabini. I rather like my privacy such as it is, and I have no intentions of returning to the Wizarding World. So if you wouldn’t mind.”

Hermione gestured outside the door and Zabini sighed as he could see the clear tension in the witch’s body.

“Potter and Weasley really fucked up, didn’t they?”

Hermione’s face darkened at the mention of her two former best friends.

“I’d rather not discuss either of them if that’s alright.”

Blaise nodded. “Sure.”

He moved off the stool and perused through the store until he came to a display at the window and picked up one of her books with a small smile.

“My godson loves these books. The Author apparently dedicated her last one to him. It’s all he’s been able to talk about for the last several months. He carries it with him everywhere.”

Hermione just managed to keep the surprise off her face as she turned around to grab her coffee that she’d taken to reheating discreetly throughout the day and taking a small sip to settle her nerves before replying, “You have a godson?”

Blaise chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. Cute kid. Scorpius.”

“Scorpius?”

“Oh sorry, you wouldn’t know,” Blaise came back over and sat down on the same stool with her latest book in his hand, “Draco’s kid.”

Hermione couldn’t help it, but her face scrunched up in disgust at the mention of Malfoy’s name. This caused Blaise to grin knowingly.

“Don’t look like that. Scorpius is an amazing kid, nothing like his dad. Although Draco has changed quite a bit from the prejudiced git you knew at Hogwarts.”

“I didn’t realize Draco had gotten married.”

Blaise nodded but his expression held a twinge of sadness. “Astoria Greengrass. She and Draco were betrothed. She died giving birth to Scorpius.”

Hermione’s gasp of shock as she placed her hand on her chest, caused Blaise to act a bit surprised by her show of sympathy.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, Granger,” Blaise said softly, “Astoria was afflicted with a rare blood curse and both she and Draco knew that it was unlikely she’d live through the birth.”

“Then why did she get pregnant in the first place?”

Blaise sighed at Granger’s look of outraged shock and he couldn’t help but shake his head at how uninformed she still was about certain Wizarding customs, despite being the Brightest Witch of the Age.

“Short version—in the betrothal contract the Greengrass Family never disclosed the fact that their family was afflicted with this curse and that Astoria might have it. When it was discovered, Lucius Malfoy lovely man that he is, threatened to cancel the contract immediately. In Pureblood circles when such an occurrence takes place, the offending family would lose a substantial portion of their inheritance. The Greengrass family offered Daphne as a substitute but Draco and Daphne...well suffice it to say they loathe each other greatly and she was already promised to Theodore Nott.”

“I see. So Astoria agreed to go through with the marriage so her family could save face and gave Draco the promised Pureblood Heir, sacrificing herself in the process.”

Blaise nodded, not surprised that Granger’s astute deduction.

“Got it in one. Draco wasn’t happy, but not for the reasons you might imagine. He came to care deeply for Astoria and took very good care of her right until the end. He moved out of the Manor after Astoria died and hasn’t really spoken to either one of his parents since. Although he loves Narcissa, he rather hates Lucius. He won’t allow Scorpius to set foot in Malfoy Manor. Says it’s corrupted and he won’t have his son anywhere near the place where Voldemort ruined his family. He’s actually a pretty amazing dad and Scorpius adores him.”

Hermione nodded, well remembering just how sweet and gentle Draco was with his son when she’d seen them both in Diagon Alley a few months ago.

“Well, I’m sorry for his loss.”

Blaise nodded. “You’ve lost more than anyone, Granger.”

Hermione’s amber eyes widened as she stared hard at Blaise, who’s own expression was soft and open.

“Doesn’t matter,” Hermione said stoically, “I was just a pawn in the grander scheme of everything. It’s not as if I’m missed.”

“Do you really think that?”

Shrugging, Hermione closed off her expression as she moved back around the counter and started straightening the books, getting ready to close the shop for the day. She didn’t bother answering Blaise’s question however, and from the look on his face...he realized she wasn’t going to respond.

“Well, for what’s it’s worth, Granger?  I think you’re wrong. Potter, well...he’s not been the same since you left. He and the Weasel aren’t really friends anymore.”

Hermione’s head whipped around at that confession and Blaise nodded once to let her know he was completely serious.

“That’s surprising. Is Harry still with Ginny?”

Blaise shook his head. “The Weaselette plays for the Holyhead Harpies and is happily dating Adrian Pucey for the last year or so. Potter is actually dating Luna Lovegood now.”

Hermione sat down in shock. Harry and Ron weren’t friends anymore? Harry and Ginny weren’t together anymore?

“Color me surprised.” Hermione snarked out a bit sarcastically and Blaise chuckled at this new side of the bushy haired swot who’s hair wasn’t so bushy anymore.

Hermione Granger had filled out rather nicely he had to admit. Her hair was much tamer now and fell to her mid back in long lustrous waves of cocoa and sun-kissed blonde. Her figure was simply to die for, with proper curves and long killer legs and her arse was a teenaged boys wet dream. She was simply stunning.

Smirking in solidarity, Blaise couldn’t help but inquire, “You dating anyone?”

Hermione scoffed but shook her head in the negative. “Not interested, thanks, Zabini.”

This got a full belly laugh from Blaise. “No, not like that. Merlin! I’m engaged to Pansy Parkinson. She is Scorpius’ Godmother.”

“Oh!”

Hermione’s expression was perplexed as she continued on with her busy work trying to process that factoid.

“Oh indeed, but we work and I love the witch.”

“Then I’m happy for you.”

“Don’t lie, Granger.  We both know you have no love for my fiancée.”

Hermione smirked but didn’t deny the statement, which caused Blaise to chuckle again.

“She’s changed you know, left England after the war. She’s a veritable social pariah because of trying to give up Potter in her desperation. The Press hasn’t ever let it go, not really. She moved here to Italy and stayed with me for a bit then she traveled for a while before coming back. She currently works in Milan at one of the Muggle fashion houses there. She’s a budding designer.”

Hermione’s mouth dropped open in horror. Pansy Parkinson working at a Muggle?

Shaking her head clear, Hermione just kept at her task, not sure how to process that piece of information.

Blaise seeing her struggling, decided to throw Granger a lifeline.

“She’s really changed. For the better too. I’d think you’d actually like the person she is today.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” Hermione was eager to end this line of conversation.

“Well, I won’t take up anymore of your busy day. It was good to see you, Granger.”

Hermione sighed softly, as she gave Blaise a wary look.

“Please don’t tell anyone you’ve found me.”

“I’ll have to tell Pansy if she asks what I did today. I don’t keep secrets from my witch but I can promise she won’t tell anyone.”

Hermione nodded, realizing that was the best compromise she could hope for.

“I understand. Take care of yourself, Zabini.”

“You too, Granger.”

And just like that, the reminders of her past life walked out the door, leaving Hermione feeling terribly unsettled.

Chapter Text

Blaise had returned back to his apartment in Milan, that he shared with Pansy a few days later and as luck would have it his witch was currently sitting by the window in their living room going over some design swatches for a new line of clothing she was creating for her job. Blaise had been surprised when Pansy had barreled her way back into his life a year ago after traveling for over a year but what had shocked him even more was her changed attitude. Somehow, Pansy had found herself during her travels and had spent some time in Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai and had fallen in love with the eastern culture. In Tokyo, Pansy had met a witch who had introduced her to eastern fashion. Miyaki was a Muggle-born who worked for a national Muggle fashion magazine and Pansy, who had always loved high fashion, found a kindred spirit in the eclectic Miyaki-so much so, that the two witches started working together when Pansy took an intern position on Miyaki’s recommendation and a well placed confundus.

Pansy had parlayed her experience into a junior level position within a noted Italian Muggle design house a year ago and had worked her way up quickly, helping the fledgling designer revamp his style with a more eastern flair. Despite being ostracized from British Pureblood social circles after the war, Pansy had managed to ingratiate herself with some of the more noted Pureblood families here in Italy who were a bit more opened minded when it came to blood purity.

When she looked up and smiled, Blaise grinned back and went to place a kiss on her lips in greeting.

“Hello,” Pansy purred, “How was Verona?”

Blaise sat down and shrugged, trying to appear indifferent.

“It was fine.”

“Fine?” Pansy snorted as she lifted up a swatch of fabric and gave it a critical eye before setting it down with a shake of her head. “You spent four days in Verona and all you have to say is, it was fine?”

“There were a lot of tourists and I did some walking and shopping. I brought you back something too.”

“Nice deflection, darling.” Pansy set down several other swatches before giving her wizard her undivided attention, “Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind?”

Blaise just chuckled. “How do you do that?”

“Do what, darling?”

“Know when something is bothering me?”

Pansy gave her wizard an incredulous look of disbelief.

“Blaise, this is me you’re talking to. Of course I know when something is on your mind. So why don’t you share with me what that is.”

Blaise sighed heavily as he took Pansy’s hand within his and gave it an affectionate squeeze before he spoke.

“I ran into someone unexpected in Verona.”

“And who might that have been?”

“Granger.”

Pansy’s eyes widened as she sat there in complete shock.

“Granger? As in Hermione Granger? Noted War Heroine and the Muggle-born bane of our school existence? That Hermione Granger?”

“Yes, love, that Hermione Granger.”

“Perhaps you need to start from the beginning because I’m going to require some context for this conversation. How in Salazar’s name did you run into Hermione Granger of all people?”

“I was walking around the city, doing a bit of sightseeing and I went into a bookstore and there she was. Apparently she owns the place. She asked me not to tell anyone I’d seen her but I did explain about us and that I wouldn’t keep it from you.”

Pansy nodded absently as she considered this new piece of information. After a couple minutes she sighed softly and spoke.

“Pretty clever of her to disappear to a town that is primarily Muggle. No one would ever think of looking for her there. From what Daphne has shared with me, Potter’s still trying to track her down.”

“How would Daphne know?”

“Theo actually is working at the Ministry now and he sees Potter from time to time. He overheard Potter talking with Seamus Finnigan about it not too long ago.”

“I did promise Granger that we wouldn’t out her location to anyone.”

Pansy shrugged indifferently, but Blaise could figuratively see the cogs turning over inside her mind as she contemplated something.

“Draco and Scorpius are coming tomorrow to visit for a few days. You do know if he finds out later on that we knew where Granger was and didn’t tell him, he’s going to be quite put out.”

“Is he still fixated on that insane idea?”

“You mean the one where he’s convinced that Astrid Devereaux is really Granger?”

“Yes, that one. I can’t believe where he came up with that idea?”

Blaise shook his head and watched as Pansy stood up to make her way into the kitchen to see if their house elf could get dinner started.

“I think it’s a combination of wishful thinking and guilt on Draco’s part,” Pansy admitted knowingly, “you know what Draco was like in school and how he taunted Granger, Weasley and Potter. But even with all that, I don’t think Draco ever thought that Granger would walk away from the Wizarding World she’d helped save. I think he feels a measure of misplaced guilt over it.”

“You know, I’d often wondered if our dear Draco didn’t harbor a secret crush for Gryffindor’s Golden Girl.”

Pansy scoffed. “Blaise, you and I both remember what Draco was like in school. Sure, the war changed him, it changed all of us but the Draco Malfoy before the war would’ve never given Hermione Granger the time of day.”

Blaise chuckled deeply and shook his head. “Oh my dear, sweet witch, you really have no idea do you? Sometimes the one thing we want the most is the one thing we’re forbidden from wanting. Draco may have been a bigoted prat, but he wasn’t as indifferent to Granger as he’d wanted everyone to believe.”

“You’re wrong, darling.”

“Hmmm. I suppose you’ll have to take my word for it, love. So you think we should tell him?”

“Merlin, no! At least not directly.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just trust me darling and follow my lead, come tomorrow we will see just how interested Draco really is in finding Hermione Granger.”

“You do know that Granger is going to kill me right?”

Pansy smirked. “Don’t be so overly dramatic, darling.”

“You’re going to be the death of me, witch,” Blaise groused out unhappily, “if I didn’t know better I’d swear you were trying to get rid of me.”

Pansy just smiled in that placid way of her’s as she gave their house elf directions for dinner before taking his hand and walking back into the living room to gather up her work supplies.

“I have no intention of getting rid of you, darling. Besides, whom else would put up with me?”

“Well, I suppose you do make an excellent point.”

“I often do.” Pansy admitted smugly. “And 20 galleons says you’re wrong about Draco’s interest in Granger being anything other than a guilty conscience.”

Blaise grinned and took his witch’s proferred hand, placing a small kiss on the back of it before replying out with a predatory gleam in his eye, “I’ll take that bet.”

Chapter Text

The next morning, Draco was dealing with a very excitable Scorpius who was babbling incessantly about going and visiting his Awntie Pawsey and his Uncwl Bwaise. Draco had smirked the first time Scorpius had managed to speak out his godparents names in something remotely resembling their actual names. Pansy was initially Pzee and Blaise was simply Bee. As Scorpius had grown, his words had become a bit more cognizant, but Draco still loved the way he mutilated his best friend’s names.

Scorpius also loved their house elf Zeppo, who had been with Blaise since he was a toddler. Apparently when Blaise was younger his favorite treat had been Zeppole, a deep fried doughy ball filled with a honey-butter mixture. So when he’d gotten a house elf as a young boy, he’d called him Zeppo, and Scorpius loved him. Zeppo always had fresh baked cannoli’s, bombolone’s and sfogliatella’s for Scorpius whenever they’d visit.

When they were finally ready, Draco went to his floo with Scorpius in one arm and called out ‘Blaise Zabini’s Villa’ and they were instantly whisked away.

When the floo flashed green and Draco settled out into a large white marbled sitting area, Scorpius screeched at the little elf who was staring up at them with big blue eyes.

“Mastrs Scorpius is heres!”

Scorpius clapped his hands happily and squirmed until his father set him down, and Draco chuckled as his son waddled over, then plopped down in front of the elf with a huge smile on his face.

“Zeppo! Daddy says yous mwakes yummies for me!”

Zeppo nodded and then took the young Master’s hand, leading Scorpius up and into the kitchen were the goodies were sure to be. Draco chuckled deeply, following his son and the elf as Scorpius chattered on about this and that. When they got the kitchen, Scorpius screeched put ‘Uncwl Bwaise!’

Draco smiled as Blaise came over and scooped up his son into his arms, tossing him up over his head and laughed when Scorpius giggled out ‘gain ‘gain’ several times until Zeppo placed the pastries onto the counter and then Scorpius leant over and tried to grab a cannoli.

“Hey, bud,” Blaise grinned, “let’s get you situated into your chair before you start feeding you face.”

Nodding happily, Scorpius allowed himself to be placed into his high chair and then once he had a plate full of sugar, Blaise grabbed a cappuccino and offered one to Draco who nodded in thanks.

Draco watched his son stuffing his face and making a mess with a grin before he reverted his attention back to his best mate.

“Where’s Pansy?”

“She’s around here somewhere,” Blaise shrugged before taking a sip of his coffee, “she’s been fairly busy with this new fashion line lately.”

Draco shook his head and grinned. “I still have a hard time believing that Pansy is working for a Muggle design fashion house.”

“She’s really good at it, Drake, and they adore her. She’s always had a head for fashion, and Muggle fashion is far more interesting than Wizarding fashion. Even you have to acknowledge that.”

“Well, I do have a fondness for certain Muggle fashions, yes.”

“Like those Muggle Jeans Granger used to favor?”

Draco’s gaze darkened but he didn’t deny the taunt, he just took a sip of his coffee and gave his friend a measured look. Blaise just chuckled at his friend’s discomfort before deciding to press a little more.

“Speaking of Granger, any word on her these days? Potter still trying to find her?”

Draco sighed as he set down his cappuccino then leant over to wipe Scorpius’ face off.

“According to Theo, Potter hasn’t found any new leads.”

“Did you ever share with Theo your theory about Granger?”

“What? That’s she’s really Astrid Devereaux?”

Blaise nodded and smirked at the intense expression on Draco’s face.

“No, I haven’t shared anything with anyone but you, you git. Besides, if it’s true then Granger really doesn’t want to be found. She’s gone through the trouble of starting a whole different life so who knows where she is. She could be married with a kid for all we know.”

“You know if you’re right about your little theory, wouldn’t it stand to reason that she wouldn’t want to risk getting involved with anyone seriously? I don’t see Granger leading a bloke on as Astrid Devereaux and it’s not like she can have an open relationship as Hermione Granger, right?”

Draco gave his friend a critical eye before he spoke. “You’ve given this some thought, why is that?”

Blaise shrugged nonchalantly, trying to appear unaffected. “Pansy and I discussed your theory yesterday.”

“And what insights did Pansy offer?”

“She thinks it’s a combination of wishful thinking and guilt on your part.”

“I’m glad my motivations are amusing to you both, but you didn’t see Astrid Devereaux in the book store that day. You didn’t hear her laugh.”

“Mate, I think that’s a coincidence. I know how you used to watch Granger in school, but aren’t you stretching it a bit?”

“Honestly, I don’t think so.” Draco’s expression was adamant. “The thing is, I’ve tried to send several thank you missives to Astrid for the book she sent Scorpius, not to mention the dedication and my owl returns every time with the letter unopened. It’s almost as if Astrid Devereaux doesn’t exist.”

“Have you tried to send a letter to Hermione Granger?”

“No,” Draco scoffed, “how exactly would I ever explain that? Hey Granger?  Remember me, the bully who tormented you for the better part of six years and watched you being tortured in my ancestral home? How’s it going? So, I have this wild theory that you’re really a world famous children’s book author? Any truth to that? Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone? You did dedicate a book to my son after all!”

Blaise chuckled at the put upon expression on his friend’s face.

“Well, when you put it like that I suppose it does seem kind of ridiculous. But let’s play devils advocate for a moment. If Astrid Devereaux is really Hermione Granger, why in Salazar would she have dedicated a book to your son? I mean come on, mate?  That doesn’t make a lick of sense?”

Draco shrugged his gaze focused on his son who was happily eating a pastry with honey butter smudged all over his face.

It was too frickin adorable.

“I’ve wondered that too, Blaise. A lot. I can’t come up with an answer that makes sense but I do know that despite everything, Hermione Granger was one of the kindest witches I’d ever known. Loyal, brave and kind. She testified for my family, which I’ve never understood why. If it hadn’t been for her testimony in particular, I’d probably be in Azkaban and would’ve never had Scorpius.”

“So you feel obligated to find her? Is it guilt mate?”

Draco sighed. “I’ve though about it a bit, I’d be lying if I didn’t. You know how people look at Scorp and me when we go out into public, but that day in Diagon Alley when Scorpius met Astrid, she looked at him like she recognized him and when her eyes settled upon me there was that almost recognition. Not Death Eater revulsion, but true recognition. She was so sweet with Scorpius, and treated him with such care and Scorpius was so taken with her.”

“Bloody Hell, Drake!!  Do you have a crush on the witch?”

Draco’s cheeks pinked a bit but his glare was irritated. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure, mate.”

Sighing in irritation, Draco grabbed a cannoli from the counter and set it on a plate before speaking again.

“Look Blaise, I don’t know what this is but I do know that I’m right. Astrid Devereaux is Hermione Granger. I just need to know if I’m right.”

“Right about what, Drake?”

Pansy’s voice filtered into the room and Scorpius squealed and waved his hand at his godmother, who came over and placed a kiss on the top of the little sprite’s blonde hair that was just like his father’s.

“Astrid Devereaux being Hermione Granger.” Blaise offered and Draco huffed at his friend in annoyance.

“Ah, that.” Pansy nodded as she went to make herself an espresso. Both Blaise and Draco smirked as they watched Pansy methodically make her own cup of coffee. When she was done, she sat down and rolled her eyes at her fellow Slytherins. “I don’t need House elves to do everything for me.”

“Of course not, dear.” Blaise smiled fondly at his witch while Draco just cleared his throat with a cough.

“Anyway, you still haven’t given up on that ridiculous theory?”

“No I haven’t,” Draco admitted haughtily, “I know I’m right, I just haven’t figured out a way to prove it.”

“Hmmm,” Pansy took a sip of her espresso and plated a pastry for herself, giving Scorpius a tap on the nose and watched as he happily destroyed a cannoli between his small fingers, more of the pastry on his face than in his tummy, “I think this little bugger is going to be wired pretty soon if he keeps eating all the pastries.”

“Like father, like son.” Draco smirked proudly as his champ who was grinning with a mouth full of yummy goodness.

“True enough,” Pansy agreed easily, before continuing on their previous conversation, “Have you tried to contact Astrid Devereaux’s publisher?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “What do you take me for Pansy, a rank amateur? Of course I’ve tried that.”

“And?”

Draco grinned. “I mentioned to her publisher that my son was a huge fan and had met her during her book signing in London. When he’d asked my name and I told him, he got very flustered, almost as if he knew whom I was, which means the man is likely a squib. The publishing house has both a Magical and Muggle side to it. Apparently it’s the only publishing house of its kind in the world that caters to both. Astrid Devereaux’s books are published in the Muggle World too, but what’s interesting is she did a book tour concurrently in both Wizarding and Muggle locations. So that rules out her being a Pureblood.”

“How you figure, Drake?” Blaise asked, intrigued at Draco’s investigative skills.

“Because most Pureblood witches and wizards wouldn’t likely know that was an option. There are three solely Wizarding publishing houses and my family owns the largest one. I checked with the chief editors of the other houses and compared their retinue of authors, and my hunch was right. No Muggleborn authors. In fact, when I delved a bit deeper into Astrid Devereaux’s publishing company, there are only six noted authors that write for both the Magical and Muggle world and all are Muggleborns. That isn’t a coincidence.”

Blaise nodded thoughtfully for a second before he spoke. “Still doesn’t mean anything.”

Draco’s grin widened. “I checked with some trusted contacts and Astrid Devereaux never went to Beauxbatons, nor Drumstrang. She has a British accent, so that means she was educated most likely at Hogwarts. On her biography, it states she is our age, so where was she educated?”

Blaise rubbed his hands down his face as he stared at his friend.

“She could’ve been home schooled, mate?”

“Then there’s her stories. It didn’t fall into place at first, but the last one Imogene meets a Hippogriff? The main character in the story has a run in with a childhood bully from her school. Do you remember the kids name from the book?”

Blaise shook his head, so Draco pulled out Scorpius’ book and gave it to Blaise. He knew the minute his friend had found it because the word ‘shit’ fell from his lips as he handed the book to Pansy who looked at the illustration on the page.

The young boy in the story had pale blonde hair and blue eyes, and his name was Drake.

“Holy shit!” Pansy said louder than she’d intended, and Scorpius squealed again and piped up ‘shwit’ causing all three adults to stare at the little boy horrified. Draco’s subsequent glare had Pansy tilting her head down in shame, before she stared back at the page in the book, shaking her head.

“How is it no one picked up on this before?”

“Because no one was looking obviously. I went back and checked her other books. In one of her first books Imogene Talks to a Cat?  The cat looked an awful lot like that mangy mutt that used to follow her around third year. If I remember correctly from a fight she had with the Weasel that year?  Granger’s cat was named Crookshanks and was part kneazle. The cat in her first book is called Kneazle, so that’s not a coincidence either.”

Both Blaise and Pansy stared at each other completely horrified and realized that Draco was most likely spot on.

“What are you going to do? If you go public with your suspicions, you’re going to likely have one raging witch coming after you.”

“I know,” Draco admitted, “and as much as I’d enjoyed riling up Granger when we were kids, I’d rather not go that route.”

Blaise nodded as he gave his fiancé a knowing look.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, mate.”

Draco nodded, a smug look on his face. “I fully intend to.”

Chapter Text

It had been a bit over a week since Blaise Zabini had wandered into her shop and she had hoped and prayed to the Gods and Magic that he’d never darken her doorstep again, yet here he was perusing through her books while she was helping a family of French tourists looking for some sightseeing books on Verona and Padua.

“Ces livres donnent un bon aperçu de plusieurs des sites les plus remarquables de Shakespeare.”

Her voice was reasonable calm and pleasant as she handed a few of the books to the tourist family who nodded and proceeded to pay for all three items before leaving the store. When they were gone, Blaise sauntered over with an impressed grin.

“You’re French is excellent and your fluent in Italian too? Any other hidden talents I should know about?”

Deciding to ignore the question, Hermione glared at the Italian wizard sharply which only caused his grin to widen.

“I thought I was fairly clear the last time you were here that I didn’t want any contact. So explain why you’re here, Zabini, because you obviously have a reason.”

Deciding not it to beat around the bush, as Blaise remembered Granger’s infamous temper from school and he’d rather not be hexed within an inch of his life, he spoke up.

“I had an interesting visit with Draco earlier this week. Apparently he has this not so crazy idea that Astrid Devereaux is you.”

Hermione’s face paled, and Blaise had to give it to his best mate.  

He was right.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Zabini.”

Blaise went over and found the book he was looking for. When he brought it back over to Hermione, he opened it to the page in question.

“Draco figured it out, Granger.”

Blaise pointed to the page and Hermione’s eyes widened before she whispered the word ‘shit’ in horror.

Blaise chuckled and nodded. “That was Pansy’s and mine reaction too, when he showed us. Apparently Draco remembered your cat from third year was part kneazle, named Crookshanks and looked like an orange menace. He put it together when he went back and read through your first book, Imogene meets a Kneazle and the cats name was Kneazle.”

Hermione’s expression was gobsmacked as she stared at Blaise. Malfoy remembered Crookshanks? How was that even possible? Her face fell as she remembered what had happened to Crookshanks after the war. Her cat had died just weeks before she left England. It had been the last straw for her.

Blaise watched Granger’s expression fall as she moved over and put the book back where it belonged before settling herself back behind the counter, trying to put some distance between them.

“Did you tell Malfoy you’d found me?”

“No, I told Pansy but he’s not going to let this go. Once Draco sets his mind upon something he’s like a Niffler smelling gold.”

“Lovely.” Hermione deadpanned unhappily.

“He’s not the same git he was in school, Granger. How about a compromise?”

The look she gave him was wary. “What kind of compromise are we talking about?”

“Come to Milan and have dinner with Pansy and I. We will invite Draco and Scorpius and once he’s satiated his curiosity and smugness at being proven right, you can go back to your life here with no one back home the wiser.”

“And why should I trust you?”

“I’m here, aren’t I? I could have told Draco where to find you but I’d promised you I wouldn’t tell anyone other than my fiancée. He will find you eventually.”

Hermione shook her head. “I don’t get it, Zabini?  Why would Malfoy even care? We weren’t exactly friends in school, in fact I think it’s fairly correct in stating he hated me quite a lot.”

Blaise sighed and shook his head.

Leave it to him to have to play matchmaker for his idiotic best friend.

“I’m not sure that’s my story to tell, Granger. Look, dinner this Friday at seven. Your store closes at five, it should give you enough time to get to Milan via apparition or do you have floo access?”

Hermione nodded so Blaise handed her a piece of parchment with his address on it.

“Floo over by seven. Don’t be late or you’ll never hear the end of it from my witch. She’s changed in many ways but is still a right menace when it comes to staying on time.”

“It would seem I don’t have much choice in the matter.”

Blaise gave her a pitying look before he followed up with, “Probably not. But at least you’ll get to meet in a neutral location instead of Draco popping up somewhere unexpected.”

Hermione stared at the parchment before she sighed in resignation. “Fine, I’ll be there.”

“Excellent. If you have a preferred wine feel free to bring it. We will be having spicy Rigatoni alla Carbone.”

“Sounds fine. I’ll see you Friday, Zabini.”

“Ciao, Bella!” Blaise waved as he sauntered out of the book shoppe leaving Hermione staring after him with a knotted feeling growing in the pit of her stomach.

Why couldn’t her past just leave her be?

When Blaise returned home from his little excursion, he was quick to share with his fiancée that they would be hosting a small dinner party that Friday. Pansy had just rolled her eyes and left the details to him, telling him she didn’t want anything to do with the farce and when it blew up spectacularly in his face, she got to tell him ‘I told you so’ with distinction.

Blaise wasn’t too worried about Draco or Scorpius, but Granger was a wild card. Her animosity towards Draco during their Hogwarts years had been legendary, as was the right hook she’d given him third year that had broke his nose and had started his infatuation with the bushy-haired Muggleborn witch. Draco would deny it until he was blue in the face, but Blaise wasn’t an idiot. He’d spent the better part of his childhood and teen years watching his mother charm unsuspecting wizard’s with her feminine wiles. The laws of attraction weren’t as mysterious as people wanted to believe.

Boys usually become aware of girls around the age of twelve, but Blaise noticed in Hogwarts that third year seemed to be when hormones started settling in for many of his classmates. They didn’t want their interest to be too obvious and so oftentimes if one of his friends had a crush on a female classmate they’d try to act cool, or indifferent but in some cases depending on the level of attraction and the suitability of that attractant, some of his friends could be downright mean to the girls they liked. Vincent was brutal with Millicent in school, even though he’d had a crush on her since fourth year. He’d seen the same behavior with Goyle and Pansy, even though Pansy had a thing for Draco during their younger years. But no one...and I mean no one was as cruel and mean as Draco was to Granger. It had started in second year with the broom incident when Draco had made the Quidditch team and Granger had taunted him about Lucius buying his way onto said team. It had been untrue, Draco had actually earned his spot but he’d started noticing Granger second year...how smart she was and how she hung out all the time with Potter and Weasley. Her blood status didn’t stop his interest, as Draco had known how his Father would’ve reacted...not to mention everyone else, so the taunting had started in earnest. In fourth year when it had gotten around that Krum was courting Granger, Draco had even gone so far as to try and warn the other wizard off. Blaise hadn’t been fooled at all, especially during the Yule Ball when all Draco had done was pout and stare at Granger and Krum the entire evening.

Fifth year had been a right mess, and somewhere during sixth year Draco had stopped using the word mudblood altogether. It was ironic that the war had been the force of change for his best mate; but watching the girl you’ve secretly fancied deep down, being tortured in your home will irrevocably change a person. Especially if that same girl testifies for you, even though you probably didn’t deserve it at all.

So Friday night was going to be very interesting, and Blaise could only hope his best mate didn’t want to avada him when it was all over.

Chapter Text

The week flew by until Friday evening came and it wasn’t too long before Draco and Scorpius made their way through the floo and Blaise checked the time, it was quarter to seven which meant that Granger was cutting it awfully close. He led his godson into the kitchen where Zeppo was just finishing up the touches on their dinner. Draco followed them in and Blaise handed him a glass of wine, trying to act as normal as possible.

When Pansy came in a few moments later, she did a quick view through the kitchen and then gave him a questioning look, which Draco noticed immediately.

“Are we waiting for someone else to join us?”

Blaise hummed in the affirmative while Pansy went to get her own glass of wine, figuring she’d need it soon enough. Taking a small sip, she then leant down and gave Scorpius a kiss on the top of his head before addressing Zeppo.

“Zeppo, can you take Scorpius into his room and stay with him until we call you for dinner?”

“Ofs course, Miss Pansy.”

All three adults watched Zeppo leading Scorpius out of the kitchen, smiling at the young wizard babbling to the house elf as they disappeared. When they were gone, Draco turned to his best friend’s and raised an eyebrow as he took a small sip of his wine, his stare meant to get them off balance.

Just as Blaise was going to speak, the floo in the other room went off and Draco could see the relief in Blaise’s face and body as his shoulders relaxed, before he walked out to meet whomever this mystery guest was.

“Do I want to know whom you’ve invited to dinner, Pans?”

Pansy’s stoic expression wasn’t fooling him one bit and it wasn’t even a couple minutes later when Blaise walked back into the kitchen with someone directly behind him.

It only took a few seconds for Draco’s brain to catch up to whom he was seeing standing there in the doorway of the kitchen, looking wary and clearly not wanting to be there.

Her hair had gotten longer, lighter but still as wild and lustrous as it had always been. His grey eyes raked down Granger’s body to which the years had been very, very good to. She was curvier, but still toned and tempting. When his eyes caught her’s, he could see the distrust and thinly veiled panic behind her gaze.

Then it hit him, that his best friend’s somehow had known where Granger had been hiding.

Known, and hadn’t told him.

The immediate question was how long they’d known and why they didn’t feel the need to tell him?

Thinking back on their dinner earlier in the week, Draco expression darkened as he realized that Blaise had known where Granger was then...he’d had to have known.

As Draco’s focus shifted to his friend, Blaise could see the cogs turning behind the grey eyes until Draco finally spoke, his voice angry.

“We need to have a talk, mate...now.”

Blaise swallowed and nodded, before following Draco out of the kitchen...neither one paying attention to the dismayed expression on the face of their guest of honor.

When they were gone, Hermione sighed and stared at Pansy who was openly smirking at her with a smug intensity she couldn’t say made her feel all warm and fuzzy.

Realizing this had been a huge mistake, Hermione nodded her head at the other witch and then said, “Your home is lovely, but you’ll have to excuse me.”

Turning around before Pansy could stop her, Hermione quickly made her way back to the floo room and had almost reached the fireplace when a soft voice stopped her cold.

“Who you?”

Hermione turned around and then looked down at the cherubic face of Scorpius Malfoy, who was staring up at her with his little lips pursed and his brow furrowed.

Hermione couldn’t help but smile at how adorable Draco’s son was. Seeing that he was waiting for an answer, she lowered herself to his level and addressed him calmly, “I’m Hermione.”

Scorpius’ face scrunched even more as he mulled over her name before he giggled and then waddled over with a grin.

“Dats a swilly name.”

Hermione chuckled in agreement. “It’s a mouthful.”

“Whers you gwoin?”

Gesturing to the floo, Hermione said softly, “I was just leaving.”

“Why?”

Taken aback by the question for a second, Hermione then realized she couldn’t exactly tell Draco’s son she was running away because of his Father. She didn’t get a chance to answer however as Scorpius tapped her on the arm and smiled widely.

“Do your lwike to wread?”

This got a genuine laugh and a nod. “I do, very much. Do you?”

“Jes, Is wread with my daddy.” Scorpius then handed her a book she hadn’t noticed in his hand, and her heart softened at the gesture. “Wous you wread to me?”

Hermione was shocked by the request, but she didn’t have it in her heart to say no, so she nodded and stood up before heading over to the small couch and watched in amusement as Scorpius climbed up onto the seat next to her and handed her the book. Opening up the cover, Scorpius clapped and pointed to the page inside.

“Swee, dats me.”

He pointed to the dedication and Hermione nodded.

“I see that.”

Tucking the young boy into her side, Hermione started reading the book and couldn’t help but smile as Scorpius snuggled closer to her then eventually situated himself on her lap as she continued on with the story.

Elsewhere in the home Draco and Blaise were having a discussion of their own.

How long?” Draco snarled as he turned on his mate, who just seemed to be amused.

“Not long. I ran into her when I was in Verona. She owns a bookstore there.”

“Verona? She’s been here in Italy this entire time?”

“Apparently.”

“Why didn’t you say something at dinner the other night?”

“Because I’d promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone where I’d found her.”

Draco scoffed. “You told Pansy.”

“Who is my fiancée and I told Granger, I would have to share that information with her.”

“But you couldn’t tell me?”

“Come on, Drake?   As soon as we had our little talk, I went back to Verona and basically blackmailed her into coming tonight. You’re welcome, by the way.”

“And what exactly am I supposed to be thanking you for?”

This caused Blaise to shake his head at his oldest friend. “Get off it, mate.  You can’t tell me you weren’t ecstatic to see her here tonight?”

Draco’s expression closed off.

“Don’t know what you mean.”

Blaise just rolled his eyes at his best mate and was going to comment on Draco’s denial when Pansy came into the room.

“Hey, Love?  Why aren’t you entertaining our guest?”

“Because she made a mad dash for the floo and said goodbye?”

“What?!?!”

Both wizard’s yelled, though one was clearly panicked as he dashed out of the room and headed straight towards the floo room.

Blaise then smirked at his witch. “Still think he’s not harboring some unrequited feelings?”

Pansy just scoffed but didn’t respond, as they both followed Draco.

Draco was nearly to the floo room when he heard the giggling of his son followed by the tinkling laugh of Granger. He slowed his steps and peered around the corner into the receiving room where his son was currently sitting on Granger’s lap and she was reading to him. His body released the tension and adrenaline he had been feeling as he silently watched their interaction. When he heard Blaise and Pansy coming, he waved his wand and silenced their approach, placing a finger to his mouth before going back and watching the scene in the other room.

When they got to the part in story where Imogene calls the bully Drake an ‘evil bug’ Scorpius’ giggle was infectious, and Draco couldn’t help but chuckle along with his two friends.

“Dats nwot nwice ting to say.”

Scorpius giggled again and Draco could see the smile blooming on Granger’s face, even if her cheeks were pinked from an embarrassed blush.

“Probably not, but it’s funny don’t you think?”

“Jes, fwunny!”

The story continued to where Imogene saves the Hippogriff from a man who is trying to harm it and then they fly off together into the sunset.

When the story was done, Scorpius let out a happy sigh and cuddled into Granger’s body, yawning like he was ready for a nap.

Draco watched as Granger set the book down and then seemed to have a moment of indecision as she gazed down and noticed that the child in her lap was nearly asleep.

She gently enveloped Scorpius into her arms and stood up slowly before placing him back down on the sofa, his soft whimper causing her to smile as she situated him carefully and then placed a blanket over him, before setting up a cushioning charm on the floor just in case. Draco’s breath caught when he saw her gently palm back Scorpius hair back before she stood again and made her way over to the floo.

Deciding he needed to make his presence known before Granger escaped, he cancelled the silencing charm and gently cleared his throat.

He couldn’t help the smirk that made his way onto his lips when Granger turned around at the sound with her wand pointed towards him. Draco rolled his eyes and gestured towards his sleeping son as if to say ‘really?’

Her whispered scoff caused both Blaise and Pansy to chuckle before Draco lifted en eyebrow and then said softly, “Don’t you know it’s rude to up and disappear when you’ve been invited to someone’s home as a guest of honor, Granger?”

This did get a real scoff, but he was pleased to see that he had at least for the moment, stopped the witch from bolting.

“Do Slytherin’s make it a habit to blackmail their guests of honor into attending said dinner parties, because Merlin only knows that I’m not what one would consider a proper guest, right Malfoy?”

Draco sighed before he gestured for Hermione to follow them back into the kitchen, then softly called for Zeppo who took Scorpius back to his room.

Draco’s smirk deepened as he noticed Granger’s ire at not having her question answered, but he simply refused to rise to the bait, even though a part of him was sorely tempted to. He’d forgotten just how much he’d loved bantering with the insufferable witch who’d been the bane of his academic existence in school.

Once they’d made their way back into the kitchen, Blaise offered Granger a glass of wine which she accepted graciously. She then reached into her beaded bag and pulled out a bottle of wine, handing it to Pansy with a nod.

“I hope you like it, it’s a personal favorite.”

Pansy glanced at the bottle clearly expecting it to be some inferior wine when her eyes shot up in shock as she read the label.

“This is a very good vintage.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Don’t act surprised, Parkinson.  I do happen to know a thing or two about wines. This was actually my grand-mère‘s favorite.”

“Your Grandmother was French?” Blaise inquired, “Is that where you leaned to speak it so fluently?”

At the questioning looks from his fiancé and best friend, Blaise shared how he’d come into Granger’s store and heard her speaking French to some of her customers.

Hermione nodded. “My grand-mère on my mother’s side was French, and grew up in Paris. I used to visit in the summers when I was a child up until she passed away at the end of my Fourth year of school.”

Blaise nodded as Pansy went to put the bottle into the wine rack for later.

“What did your grandmother do in France?”

Hermione blushed but decided it wouldn’t be bragging necessarily with this group.

“Uhm, her family had a home there and another in the south of France. Her name was Genevieve Duvernay, and she was the Comtesse de’Avernay.”

Three sets of eyes widened at the admission but it was Draco who responded first. “Your family holds Muggle titles?”

“Shocking, isn’t it?”

Draco bowed his head at the hit before muttering ‘not really’ which caused the other people in the kitchen to stare at him...two in amusement, the third in disbelief.

Deciding to ignore the comment for the moment, Hermione went on. “My Mother chose to forego the title and when she passed, it was given to me in her will along with some lands in France and the home in Paris.”

Blaise couldn’t help but ask, “Then why didn’t you just disappear there?”

“Because it was too obvious. Harry knew of my family background and not that I’d expected him to come looking for me, but just in case he ever decided to assuage his guilty conscience?  I wasn’t going to make it easy for him to find me.”

“Very Slytherin.” Pansy quipped with a raise of her wineglass.

“I’m sorry about your parents, Granger,” Draco said solemnly, “the Prophet reported you had obliviated them prior to the start of the war.”

“You mean Skeeter reported on it?”

Everyone but Hermione chuckled, but Blaise nodded. “She did. I think the entire article was meant to make you look unfavorable, but it had exactly the opposite effect.”

“Well, that’s unexpected,” Hermione bit back, “but you did mention something of the sort when I first saw you.”

“You couldn’t reverse the memory charm?”

“No.” Was all Hermione said, as she then took a sip of her wine effectively ending that line of questioning.

The three Slytherins were noticeably uncomfortable before Pansy decided to break the ice.

“So, you’re Astrid Devereaux?”

“Obviously.”

Hermione’s even drawl had the desired effect as everyone chuckled at the inference.

“What made you decide write books?”

Hermione’s expression was amused at Pansy’s question, but instead of answering it she countered with, “What made you decide to go into fashion?”

“Oh, you’re going to be fun after all.” Pansy smirked in glee, while the other two men just watched on completely bemused by the new and improved Hermione Granger. “Well, to answer that question it’s fairly simple really. I love fashion and have a good eye for it, so it wasn’t too difficult a transition.”

“And I think you’ve just answered your own question.” Hermione winked as she took another sip of her wine. “But Muggle fashion?”

Shocking, isn’t it?”

This got a genuine laugh from the former Gryffindor as she nodded in Pansy’s direction.

“Pretty much. Which Fashion House?”

When Pansy stated the name, Hermione’s eyebrows rose with interest.

“Impressive. I think I have one of their dresses from last season.”

“From the ready to wear collection?”

Pansy’s inherent bitchiness couldn’t be helped as she asked the question, but the knowing glint in the other witch’s eyes was indulgent.

No.”

Pansy was now intrigued, as most of the current couture gowns were fairly pricey even by Wizarding standards.

“Which one?”

“The Black embellished, strapless gown.”

Pansy whistled in appreciation. “That’s a nice choice. Do you mind if I inquire what you wore it for? I didn’t realize Hermione Granger would need something like that working in a book shoppe in Verona.”

“Perhaps not, but Astrid Devereaux most definitely would for a charity gala hosted by her Publisher.”

“Ah, well that would make more sense.”

“I do have some of the pret a porter pieces as well.”

“Look at you Granger, if I had known you were this cool in school...”

“You’d have still called me terrible names and wished me dead. Let’s not delude ourselves, Parkinson. You all would have, and even did on several occasions.”

Hermione’s expression was completely placid as she took another sip of her wine, enjoying the shocked looks of contrition, apology and despair on the faces of her hosts.

“Were you always such a bitch?” Pansy snarked.

Probably,” Hermione shrugged, “however, when you spend seven years trying to keep your prat of a best friend alive, inherent bitchiness tends to take a back seat to survival. No offense.”

“None taken.” Pansy nodded, offering Hermione some more wine which she accepted graciously.

“So, Blaise?” Hermione turned her attention to the wizard who forced her hand into attending tonight, “What do you do for a living? Pansy has a respectable job and we all know Malfoy here is the quintessential trust fund kid, do you work? Or do your talents solely lie in stalking and blackmail?”

Pansy’s giggles filled the kitchen while Blaise appeared amused and Draco seemed to be offended, but with his patented Malfoy sneer firmly plastered on his face it was always hard to tell what he was thinking.

“Didn’t you know, Granger? I was taught at my Mother’s knee. Blackmail, stalking, killing husbands for their fortunes was all in a day’s work in my family.”

“Charming.” Hermione deadpanned. “Must be the Italian.”

“My Mother is Moroccan and French actually, my Father was Italian.”

“And where is your Mother these days?”

“Currently on husband number eight I believe.”

“Merlin! Seriously?”

Blaise winked and nodded, and Hermione couldn’t help but laugh at his completely unapologetic expression.

“Good for her.” Hermione’s smile was playful, but she could see Malfoy giving her a considering look. After a minute of silence she turned to Draco and said, “So I understand you were the one to figure out my alternate identity? I don’t know if I should be concerned or flattered.”

“What’s your first instinct?”

“To run, you?”

Draco couldn’t help but grin at this new version of Hermione. She was beyond intriguing.

“Eh, that wouldn’t work you know?”

“Why’s that?”

“I’d catch up with you eventually.”

“Seems stalking is either a Slytherin trait or a Pureblood trait.”

“Aren’t they synonymous?”

“Are they?” Hermione countered with a sly grin.

“Probably.” Draco admitted. “But perhaps I just wanted to be proven right.”

“For once.” Blaise quipped, causing Draco to glare at him.

“We should probably sit down and start dinner.” Pansy interrupted.

Draco nodded. “Let me go check on Scorpius, make sure he’s still asleep.”

Draco left the kitchen while Hermione followed Blaise and Pansy out to the stunning veranda overlooking the streets of the Moscova district. Their apartment was on the top floor, which was about seven stories up and completely private from this part of the city.

“It’s lovely here.”

Hermione went out to the edge to the patio, her silk chemise dress flowing in the gentle breeze.

Pansy walked over and stood next to her.

“It is, and I’ve come to love it here. Milan is full of life and joy, not like London these days.”

Hermione nodded. “It’s odd, but I don’t miss London.”

“So you’ll never go back.”

“I never say never, but I have no plans to return. There’s nothing left for me there.”

“What about Potter.”

Hermione sighed as she took in the lights of the street below.

“Harry has a good heart but he never thinks about the consequences of things. His first instinct was to always side with Ron, even when we were kids. I can’t tell you how many times Ron left us, let us both down. Even with all that, I forgave him and tried to make it work, but in the end Ron was too selfish and self-absorbed and Harry couldn’t let go of the Weasley’s. They were his family, I wasn’t. Even after everything, I knew deep down he’d never choose me over them. That’s why I left, I suppose. It was easier because this way there are no constant reminders of everything I’ve sacrificed for Harry and the Wizarding World. The sad thing is, I’d do it all again if it meant that Voldemort was killed, because the alternative would’ve seen me at best dead, and at worst a slave. This is better, even if I’m alone...I’m alive and free.”

Blaise listened to the conversation and looked over his shoulder noticing his best mate standing there eavesdropping as well with a contemplative look on his face.

“From what Daphne has told me the few times I’ve talked to her, the majority of those in England were rather put out when you’d disappeared. The Minister himself had to hold a press conference explaining that you were still alive and not returning.”

“I’ve kept in touch with Kings, but that does come as a surprise.”

“Kings?”

“Kingsley Shacklebolt. He’d insisted when I left Britain, that I keep in touch with him. Told me if he didn’t hear from me at least once a month he’d send out Harry to come find me. So I write to him like clockwork. I know it’s because he cares, but he’s been my only contact for the last few years.”

Blaise gave Draco an incredulous look, and Draco seemed stunned as well.

The Minister of Magic was blackmailing Granger?

The man just rose several points in Draco’s estimation.

“Well, for what it’s worth,” Pansy continued, “I’m persona non grata in England.”

“Because of what happened at the Final Battle?”

Pansy nodded and Hermione turned to face the witch.

“Do you regret it?”

Pansy sighed and thought for a moment before she spoke. “The right answer would be to say ‘yes’ but I’m not sure that’s what I regret. It saddens me that for my entire life I was raised to believe that the Muggle World and all those in it were beneath me and deserved no consideration. What this whole debacle has taught me is that while I’m proud to be a Pureblood witch, it’s no reason to hurt people who aren’t. I wouldn’t say I’m humble or any other such rubbish, but I suppose I’m a bit more accepting of the world around me.”

“Well, that’s a start I suppose.”

“I’m a work in progress.”

“Aren’t we all?”

“I don’t know,” Blaise interrupted with a cheeky grin, “I’m fairly perfect just the way I am.”

Hermione turned around and noticed both Zabini and Malfoy staring at she and Pansy. Making her way back over to the table she was surprised when Malfoy sauntered over and pulled out her seat for her. With a light ‘thank you’ she took her place and watched bemused as the rest of them sat down.

Of course, darling.”

Pansy smiled up at her wizard who winked at her before grabbing the wine and filling everyone’s glasses. With a snap of his fingers the food was served.

Hermione then turned to Malfoy and inquired gently, “Scorpius sleeping?”

Draco nodded. “Out like a light.”

The food was plated and conversation seemed to flow a bit more easily. They talked about banal topics mostly, purposefully staying away from triggers that might become uncomfortable. Towards the end of the meal, Draco turned to Hermione and said with feeling, “I don’t know if you’ve ever received my owl, but I wanted to thank you personally for dedicating your book to Scorpius.  He was thrilled.”

“Yes, he told me and you’re welcome. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for both of your losses.”

Draco nodded regally. “Astoria was a wonderful woman and a good friend. I have no doubt she’d have been an amazing mother.”

“You seemed to have done a wonderful job with Scorpius so far.”

“Shocking, isn’t it?” Draco quipped with a wink and Hermione couldn’t help it, her laughter was infectious and more heartfelt than she could ever remember it being for a very long time.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t too long after that comment that Draco’s wand started to vibrate and he sighed, before standing up and heading back into the house. Not even five minutes later he came out with his arms wrapped around Scorpius who was quietly sucking his thumb, with his small blond head laying on Draco’s shoulder still looking like he hadn’t woken up completely.

Draco sat back down at the table and Scorpius, who’s head was facing her, smiled widely at Hermione with his thumb still firmly planted inside his mouth.

He was just too cute for words.

“Did you sleep well?” Hermione whispered, and Scorpius nodded.

“Floo travel seems to tire him out.” Draco admitted as he conjured a high chair for his son. “You hungry, champ?”

Scorpius nodded again, and Hermione watched in amusement as Draco stood up and then placed Scorpius into his chair. He then transfigured a sippy cup for Scorpius to drink out of and plated a small bit of the pasta and vegetables, carefully cutting them up for his son to eat. Hermione couldn’t help but be impressed with how attentive Draco was.

It was obvious he was a very hands on father, and didn’t push Scorpius off onto the elves to take care of him.

Draco fed Scorpius the first few bites and then the young boy grabbed the tiny fork and said pompously, “Is do myswelf.”

Draco chuckled and handed his son the fork, while everyone grinned at how adorable Scorpius was. After he was situated, Draco turned his attention back to the group.

“Sorry about that.”

“No worries, mate.  I’m sure my godson just wanted to be with everyone tonight, isn’t that right, bud?”

Scorpius grinned through his messy pasta which was unsurprisingly, smeared all over his face and hair.

Hermione was a bit confused. “Why the apology, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Pansy grinned while Blaise and Draco grimaced, but it was Draco who answered.

“It’s considered gauche and poor manners to allow children at the adult table during a dinner party. Normally, children eat with the nanny elves and other children.”

Hermione nodded in understanding, having been regulated to such when she was younger during her parent’s dinner parties.

“Ah, that makes sense.”

Pansy’s eyes widened. “It does?”

Rolling her eyes at the other witch, Hermione just nodded. “Yes, you didn’t think that was just some antiquated Pureblood custom, did you? Upper Muggle society handles young children in much the same way. Not seen, not heard until a certain age. I spent many a dinner party regulated with other children and my nanny.” She then turned and smiled genuinely at Draco. “For what it’s worth?  I think it’s commendable that you are so hands on with Scorpius. I never did learn to appreciate that particular tradition growing up.”

Draco nodded, his surprise clearly evident on his face before he spoke. “Thank you. I suppose there’s a lot of things both societies have in common?”

“Probably, although my Mother generally abhorred high society as a rule. She used to say it was because she’d been force fed it as a child by her own mother. But some things carried over to me and that was one of them.”

Pansy looked intrigued. “What other things, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Hermione took a sip of water and thought for a few moments. “Well, the basics really. Table etiquette, serving tea, conversational as well as correspondence protocols. What colors you wear to certain occasions, clothing as such. Of course, there were certain traditions I eschewed completely.”

“Like wearing those Muggle jeans?” Blaise quipped and noticed Draco giving him a hard glare.

Hermione giggled and nodded. “My grand-mère hated those things, but my mother didn’t seem to mind them so I wore them, especially at school because when I went to Paris in the summer it was all dresses, hats and gloves.”

“I didn’t know you were such a rebel, Granger?” Draco bit out with a smirk, and Hermione just grinned.

“You don’t know the half of it, Malfoy.”

Everyone laughed and Scorpius giggled at the happy noise, his face now covered in pasta sauce.

Draco grabbed a napkin and silently cast an aguamenti cleaning up his son gently while Scorpius just squirmed unhappily at being washed.

“What traditions would you keep?” Pansy asked quietly.

Hermione thought about this for a moment before she answered honestly. “That’s a really good question and one I’ve never really given much thought to. When I got to Hogwarts the first few months, most of my own classmates didn’t like me at all. I know shocking, right?”

Hermione’s laugh was a bit forced and the three Slytherins found themselves all alight with curiosity at where this conversation had gone.

“Yes, I was a know it all, but I was also very much surprised at how many of my classmates lacked in the social graces I was raised upon. So naturally, I felt a bit out of my element. It was a very confusing time for me because I wasn’t sure how to fit in. Being a Muggleborn witch, I was automatically sneered at by some,” Hermione’s expression let them all know just whom she was talking about, “but I was raised with many of the same etiquette demands that all you were. What is that saying about Pride before the Fall? Once I became friends with Harry and Ron, it was just easier to bury much of my upbringing and leave it behind. What purpose did it serve me really? So I guess to answer your question, Pansy?  Is that I don’t know, because I have no desire to ever return to either life. I’m not sure where I belong anymore.”

The table was quiet and Draco couldn’t help but notice the same horrified expressions on Blaise and Pansy that he was sure was on his own face. If he hadn’t felt like a first class git before, it was insignificant to how horrible he felt at this moment. He’d never even thought that he’d misjudged Granger so egregiously, and yet here they were.

Luckily it was Blaise who spoke up, because Draco was pretty sure he couldn’t get a word out right about now.

“For what it’s worth, Hermione?  We are truly sorry for how we treated you in school. I just wish it hadn’t taken a war and losing so many people to realize what utter rubbish this whole blood purity rhetoric was and is.”

Hermione shrugged. “Thank you for that, Blaise.  But the truth is, people do still believe in it. It’s just a fact of life that I’ve come to accept as truth. I just don’t care anymore. Besides, it’s easier this way.”

“How?” Draco queried, clearly unhappy with where this conversation was going. “Merlin, Granger!  You’re the Brightest Witch of the Age! You were born to do magic! How can you be alright with giving up such a big part of yourself?”

Hermione’s head turned and she openly stared at Draco with incredulity.

Clearly she was hallucinating, because she could’ve sworn Draco Malfoy just paid her a compliment of the highest order.

“You didn’t always think that way, Malfoy. In fact, for pretty much the entire six years we went to school together you made it your life’s mission to remind me of my place...which if I recall correctly, was beneath you.”

Blaise couldn’t help but snicker at the reference, earning two heated stares for his ill-timed outburst.

“Sorry.” Blaise offered a bit uncomfortably before he pressed on. “Look, Granger?  We were all prats in school, and none of us can offer an excuse you’ll understand. But if I do know one thing, is that Draco is right. You belong in the Magical World, you’ve earned that right more than anyone, even Potter.”

Hermione shook her head. “I may not be on speaking terms with Harry, but I’m sure many would take offense to that opinion.”

“Maybe, but there are many who know that if it hadn’t been for your brains and cleverness, Potter would’ve likely been killed by the Dark Lord back during school. I just think you might want to consider the option and not to dismiss it out of hand. I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how much things and people have changed for the better.”

Hermione gave Blaise a considering look. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Zeppo popped out just then to clear the plates and serve dessert which generated a happy squeal from Scorpius and just like that the tension was diffused. Hermione smiled widely as Draco handed Scorpius a doughy ball and the little boy munched on it happily, making another mess in the process.

“Aren’t you going to try one, Granger?” Draco gestured to the pastry plate and Hermione sighed, before nodding.

“I’ll try a cannoli—thank you, Malfoy.”

Draco plated the pastry and handed it to her, his fingers gently grazing hers purposefully and he inwardly smirked when her eyes widened at the unexpected touch. But she didn’t flinch or give any sign she was repulsed so Draco took that as a positive sign.

Zeppo brought some coffee and the foursome plus Scorpius ate in silence for a few moments more.

“These are heavenly.” Hermione sighed happily as she took another small bite of her pastry.

“Zeppo is rather brilliant when it comes to making pastries and Scorpius loves them.” Pansy admitted with a smile at her godson, who grinned back with a toothy smile.

“Zweppo mwakes yummies.” Scorpius chimed in happily.

“That he does, champ.” Draco grinned as Scorpius took another bite of his dessert and half of it fell back onto the high chair table.

Hermione couldn’t help but giggle at how cute Scorpius looked all messy and innocent. She had a hard time believing that Malfoy was once just like this. Young, innocent and happy. What had changed all that? Had it been strictly the indoctrination by his parents or was it something more than that.

“I can hear your mind going from here, Granger.” Draco smirked knowingly.

“I’m sure you can, Malfoy.”

“Mind sharing with the rest of us what’s put that expression on your face?”

“And what expression would that be?”

“Curious disbelief, I believe. Maybe a tinge of sadness too. It’s an interesting look and one I’m not sure I’ve ever seen cross your face before.”

“I didn’t know you spent time cataloging my facial expressions, Malfoy?”

“Research, Granger—which I’m sure you can appreciate. Know thy enemy as thyself.”

“So, you admit that I was your enemy?”

Draco sighed in resignation. “Everyone was for a while, Granger. Even those within my own House. Sadly, the last part was true but I commend you for the excellent deflection. Truly impressive.”

“Pity you weren’t fooled then.”

“I’m too Slytherin for such tactics, Granger.”

“So it would seem.”

“And?”

Hermione just gave Draco an indignant look, but he seemed completely unfazed. Maybe he was more like a cockroach than she’d ever given him credit for.

The thought put a wicked smirk upon her face.

“Just wondering at what point in your life you went from a cute child to a spoiled, bigoted git?”

“Ah, I see where you’re going with this.” Draco admitted with a smirk of his own. “My parents aren’t what anyone would ever term affectionate, but they paled in comparison to my grandfather, who was a right...piece of work.”

“Why do I feel you were planning on saying something else?”

“Cause you’re the Brightest Witch of the Age?”

Hermione giggled at Draco’s expression, which was clearly uncomfortable even if he did try and hide it behind all of his Slytherin bravado.

“So they say. But truly, Scorpius seems so sweet and genuine.”

“And nothing like his father?”

“I don’t know you well enough to answer that question, Malfoy.”

“That’s likely true. You know what I allowed you to see, what I allowed everyone to see. It was what was expected of me but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there was a time that I truly believed the things I was taught.”

“And you don’t anymore?”

“Not especially. My Father, the man that he was and is, forced a marriage on my deceased wife all so he could have his precious Pureblood Heir. I didn’t want to do that to Astoria, but she pleaded with me to agree to the marriage and to spare her family the shame her condition would likely bring them. If I hadn’t been disillusioned with my parents prior to that time, trust me when I share with you that’s when the final nail was buried. I have my son, and Lucius has his Pureblood grandson heir to carry on the Malfoy name. My obligation to my family’s legacy is done and Scorpius’ inheritance assured, and I simply don’t care about the rest of it. My parents, once deceased will take all that hateful rhetoric with them. I will never allow them to ruin Scorpius, the way they ruined me. Does that answer your question?”

Hermione sat back in quiet contemplation as she mulled over Draco’s words and at last she nodded and smiled at him sympathetically.

“I’m sorry.”

“You don’t ever need to apologize to me, Granger. If we’d lived to be a hundred, I’m fairly certain I could apologize to you every day and it still wouldn’t be enough for all the wrong I’ve done, especially to you. I am truly sorry, for what it’s worth.”

“It’s worth quite a bit, Malfoy.”

Draco nodded and then turned his attention back to Scorpius who was ready to be let out of his high chair.

Once he was free, Scorpius came right up to her and lifted his arms saying ‘up up’ and Hermione couldn’t help herself, she picked up the cute toddler and grinned when he placed both his chubby hands on her cheeks, while he proceeded to give her the most intense stare ever.

After a few minutes the little tyke chuckled and said, “why youz wook diffwent?”

“Huh?”

Hermione gave Draco a confused look and he just shrugged like he didn’t know what his son was doing.

“What do you mean, Scorpius?”

“U Missy Devraux?”

Hermione face paled as she gasped at the little boy in shock and seeing the looks on everyone’s faces, they seemed to be surprised too.

Swallowing uncomfortably, Hermione nodded and then silently waved her hand at her necklace and her appearance changed right before everyone’s eyes. Gone went the long brown curly locks and in its place was blonde straight hair. Brown amber eyes were replaced with iced green and Scorpius clapped in glee at the site in front of him. Hermione then turned towards Draco, who had a small smug smirk on his face, which caused her to roll her eyes in exasperation before she silently reversed the charm and went back to her original form.

Once she was back, Scorpius looked at her with such intensity before he smiled that toothy grin and giggled again, then saying with such conviction, “Dats Bwetter!”

Hermione couldn’t help but giggle and then she sighed when he cuddled into her and placed his head onto her shoulder. It took every ounce of her control not to break down into tears at the sweet gesture and based upon everyone else’s reaction, they were all having a moment or two themselves.

“You are just the cleverest little boy, aren’t you, Scorpius Malfoy?” Hermione whispered into blonde locks as the little tyke hummed and after a while, fell back asleep cuddled into her warm embrace.

Chapter Text

Draco was literally beside himself at the moment.

His son was currently fast asleep in Granger’s arms, his head resting on her bosom and he couldn’t help but be both proud and somewhat jealous of his little guy. The contented expression on his face as he slept filled Draco’s heart to bursting. There were times, not many but some, where he missed Astoria and wondered what their life might have become had she not died. Scorpius was fairly discerning when it came to people and as such rarely accepted or sought out anyone’s affection but his. Even with Pansy and Blaise, Scorpius adored them, but had never cuddled up on them like he was currently doing with Granger.

She didn’t seem to mind. Her hand cradled the back of his head gently as she rocked him slightly back and forth. It was clear she was a natural when it came to motherly instincts, which really shouldn’t have been a surprise after her spending seven years mothering Pothead and Weaslebee.

When he gazed over at his two best mates, they both were openly staring at Granger and Scorpius. Pansy’s expression was contemplative, but Blaise seemed rather smug.

Draco just shook his head at the knowing grin his friend kept shooting his way, deciding to ignore that for the moment.

He finally decided that it might be a good idea to put Scorpius back down to bed for the night, so he stood up and went to take him, but when Granger looked up with her big amber eyes, he didn’t have the heart to take his son so he quietly asked her to follow him into the house so they could put Scorpius into his bedroom.

Hermione nodded and she followed him quietly, every so often caressing Scorpius absentmindedly as if it was instinctive for her to do so. When they got to his room, Draco opened the door and gestured for Granger to place Scorpius in his day crib, which she did. Draco then waved his wand and transfigured Scorpius’ clothes into jammies and then warded the crib in case he woke up. When he was reasonably sure his son wouldn’t stir again, he made his way out of the room, with Granger following closely behind.

As they were walking back outside, Draco figured he should probably speak up.

“You’re really good with him.”

Hermione’s expression was stunned but she rallied quickly as she smiled. “He makes it easy.”

Draco nodded. “Well, thank you for being so kind to him.”

“He’s an innocent child, Malfoy. There’s simply no reason to be cruel. It’s not Scorpius’ fault his father was a bully to me in school.”

Draco turned around quickly at the reprimand, only to find Granger smirking at him playfully. He just chuckled and bit out, “Minx.” Before shaking his finger at her in return. “I may have been a bully, but you broke my nose.”

Hermione just grinned before she sighed softly. “I’d rather not play this game, Malfoy.”

This caused Draco to stop in the hallway as he gave Granger his undivided attention.

“And what game would that be?”

“Tit for tat? Because if we’re going to keep score, I’m pretty sure you’d come out the winner...or loser, I’m not sure how that would work.”

Draco chuckled as he leant up against the wall. “Can’t win for losing or some other such rubbish?”

Her giggle was music to Draco’s ears and he couldn’t help but realize how gorgeous Granger had gotten over these past few years. He stared down at her necklace and then came over, gently lifting it and making sure his fingers just barely grazed her neck.

Her intake of breath had him smirking inwardly.

“So this is how you’ve done it, eh?”

“What, Malfoy, trying to uncover all my secrets?”

“And if I told you yes, would you still want to run?”

Amber eyes stared into his for a few moments as Draco held the amulet in his fingers, refusing to break eye contact. The soft blush that started to make its way onto Granger’s cheeks and down her neck was rather enticing.

She cleared her throat and stepped back slightly before she answered, “Would it do me any good?”

Draco’s smirk was confident before he shook his head and said huskily, “Not a chance.”

“Pity.” She quipped back with a half grin before moving past him and making her way back onto the veranda where Blaise and Pansy were sitting in a large lounger staring up at the stars.

The candlelight’s were nearly all extinguished and there was soft music playing in the background from somewhere below.

Hermione went to grab her beaded bag and prepared to say goodbye when she felt Draco’s hand slide easily into hers. His questioning look had her heart beating wildly and butterflies erupting from somewhere deep in the pit of her stomach. She was so shocked, she didn’t resist him as he pulled her towards one of the loungers and guided her into it before taking the one right next to her.

The music was actually quite pleasant and there was just this comfortable silence for a while as she gazed up towards the heavens, the stars were out and she could just make out a few constellations.

“Scorpius loves the stars.” Draco whispered from next to her, and she turned her head to see him staring up into the heavens.

“Really?”

Draco nodded, his gaze still fixed above. “Every night weather permitting, we sit outside and he begs me to show him where he is and where I am. I even had a star named for Astoria, so as he gets older he will always be able to look to the heavens and see his mother and know she loved him.”

Hermione didn’t know what to say. That had to be the sweetest thing she’d ever heard in her life. The fact that it came from the mouth of Draco Malfoy was causing her to wonder if she’d been placed under a confundus charm.

Draco turned towards her at that moment and grinned at her knowingly.

“No, you haven’t by the way.”

“Haven’t what?”

“Been confunded.”

Her face must’ve given away her shock because Draco just chuckled.

“Too easy, Granger.”

“Stuff it, ferret.”

“It’s your face. It’s still as expressive as it was in school. You always were so easy to read, it made riling you up good sport.”

Hermione’s expression closed off as she turned back towards the sky, and Draco’s brows furrowed at the sudden change. After a few moments he sighed heavily.

“I did apologize.”

“I know, but it’s just an uncomfortable reminder that you used to enjoy hurting me.”

Draco seemed surprised. “Did I? I mean, I’d never thought you’d cared much about what I thought or said. You’d get angry, but you always gave as good as you got.”

“Just because I didn’t run off crying where you could see me doesn’t mean I didn’t, Malfoy. But, it would’ve been a cold day in hell before I ever let you see me broken. Having you watch me being tortured, was the single most humiliating moment of my life.”

Draco turned to face her fully, and he immediately noticed that Pansy and Blaise had left them at some point. He silenced the veranda and then spoke.

“Granger, you have to know that I never wanted that to happen to you. My aunt was mad, insane....but she would’ve killed anyone who tried to stop her. My biggest regret was not being strong enough to stop her.”

“I would’ve thought Astoria dying would’ve been your biggest regret?” Hermione’s expression was pained, but there was confusion too.

“Second, actually. Third would’ve been not going to Dumbledore before everything that happened at the end of sixth year. Fourth would’ve been not trusting in my godfather more.”

“And the fifth?”

Draco blushed but he didn’t look away at all for a moment, before he took her hand and placed a small kiss on the back of it which nearly had her falling out of her chair in shock.

“Do you really want me to honestly answer that, Granger? Because if I do, it can’t be taken back. And if you run, trust me when I tell you I’ll find you. I’ll always find you, Granger.

Hermione had done just that, she’d bolted up and disapparated with a crack back to her apartment where she’d collapsed onto her couch, her breath heaving in shock and her hand burning from where Draco’s lips had kissed it.

What the actual heck?

She didn’t, couldn’t stay and listen to his confession because as much as she was intrigued....and Gods was she ever....she wasn’t sure she had it in her to take that risk.  Not with Malfoy.

Not after everything.

So she’d bolted, yep...she’d left without even saying goodbye to her host and hostess. Merlin, if her grand-mere were alive right now, she’d be so disappointed in her lack of proper manners. And as she sat there on the floor, she couldn’t help but feel despondent over the fact that she wouldn’t in all likelihood see little Scorpius again, and that made her heart hurt more than anything.

Merlin, what was happening to her?

Chapter Text

Draco sat there in shock at the sound of disapparition before he stood up and quickly made his way back inside. After checking on Scorpius, he called for Zeppo and told the little elf to keep an eye on his son until he returned.

He then found Blaise and Pansy in the kitchen.

“Where’s Hermione, mate?”

“She left.”

“Why?”

“Blaise, I don’t have time to talk to you, I need you to apparate me to wherever she is right now.”

“Drake...”

“Don’t you dare Drake me! Now, Blaise! I’m not going to ask again.”

Blaise sighed and looked over at Pansy who just put her hands up in defeat.

“I’ll keep an eye on Scorpius.  Take loverboy here to Verona, and let Granger know I had no part in this debacle.”

Blaise snickered and placed a gentle kiss on his witch’s lips before he grabbed Draco’s arm and in a flash they were gone.

When they reappeared in a deserted alleyway in Verona, Blaise led Draco to Hermione’s small book shoppe and then left him at the front door.

“You do know what you’re doing, right?”

“Yes and no, but if I don’t do this, she’s going to disappear again and I can’t let that happen, mate.”

Blaise nodded and setting up a silencing charm, ‘popped’ back home Milan.

Draco took a deep breath and then knocked on the door several times. When that didn’t get the desired result he cast a ‘alomahora’ and the door popped open. Wandering inside he cast a ‘lumos’ and walked around the small book shoppe and smiled widely at everything.

It was quaint and clean and very much Granger.

When he heard footsteps and then light flooded the room, he squinted his eyes and then noticed a very angry witch staring at him with her wand pointed at his heart.

“You just couldn’t leave it alone, could you, Malfoy?”

Draco lifted his hands and moved forward. “No, I couldn’t. Put the wand down witch and allow me to at least talk to you.”

“Why should I do that, Malfoy? Why should I believe anything you have to say to me?”

Draco sighed as he tilted his head down and ran an agitated hand through his pale blonde locks. When he lifted his gaze to hers again, he could clearly see the indecision and wariness on her face.

“Can we please just talk? You have my word, if you don’t like what I have to say I’ll leave and you won’t have to see me again.”

Hermione slowly lowered her wand. “You’d take a Wizard’s Oath to that effect?”

Draco did just that, no hesitation as he kept eye contact with her the entire time. When he was done, Hermione watched as he placed his wand into the pocket of his robes and then sat down on the stool that Blaise had commandeered earlier in the week.

Shaking her head, she gestured for Malfoy to follow her upstairs to her flat, which he did. Once inside she watched as Draco looked around with interest, his eyes taking in every detail of the apartment until they settled back on her.

“It’s very you, Granger.”

“How so?”

“Well, it’s warm and inviting without being ostentatious. The colors are bright and cheerful and everything has its place. Even the bookshelves.”

Hermione’s blush couldn’t be helped as she asked if he wanted some tea. Draco shook his head and then with more courage than he’d ever felt, sauntered over until he was standing right in front of her. He then reached for her hand and entwined his fingers through hers, leading her over to the couch and situating them both more comfortably. He then decided to try something he’d never done in all his years, complete honesty. It was either going to go really well, or...not. He shook his head hoping that this witch, whom he’d been so horrible to and whom he’d carried a torch for for nearly as long, would have the capacity in that large heart of hers to give him a chance to prove he wasn’t the hateful boy she’d grown up knowing.

Clearing his throat nervously, Draco’s gaze landed back on Granger’s before he spoke.

“I know our history isn’t a good one. I know I’ve done a lot of things in my life I wish I could take back. But I can’t. I can’t offer excuses, at least none you’d understand. I can’t explain what my life was like in a way that wouldn’t have you looking at me with anything other than pity or revulsion. I suppose the only thing I can tell you with absolute certainty was that when you hit me third year, it fundamentally shifted something in me that I’d never questioned up until that point. I didn’t know what to do with it, and I didn’t handle it properly at all. By fourth year, I was pretty much convinced that my situation was a hopeless one. I’d never get to choose my own life or be free from my family’s expectations. Then fifth year happened, and well...what you saw that year was my lashing out at the world, not just you. Although you often took the brunt of my anger. I was just so angry, Granger. I hated my life. The only thing I had worth anything was my mother, and when she was threatened the summer before sixth year, by my aunt of all people?  I knew I didn’t have any choices and I fully expected to die that year. I never expected to live to see my seventeenth birthday. Do you understand? Can you?”

Hermione stared into the desperate face of Draco Malfoy and she did, she completely understood what he was feeling. She could see the pain and anguish in his eyes as he bared his soul. It was disconcerting, but humbling in a way as she was fairly certain he’d never shown this side of himself to anyone.

“I can try.” Was all she could get out and Draco nodded, it was enough for the moment.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t die. Snape did everything in his power to keep me alive.”

“He took an unbreakable vow.” Hermione interrupted softly and Draco’s eyes widened comically.

“How?”

“Did I know that?”

Draco nodded.

“Harry overheard you both the night of Slughorn’s Christmas Party after you’d been taken out by Snape.”

Draco scoffed. “Of course he did.”

Hermione’s couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped through her lips and Draco just gave her a smirk in return.

“How much do you know?”

“Enough to know you lowered your wand in the Astronomy Tower. Enough to know you couldn’t kill anyone, Malfoy.”

Draco nodded. “I didn’t, and I couldn’t. Apparently, I was a huge disappointment to my Father. My Mother well, she loves me in her own way but that love doesn’t necessarily extend to allowing me the freedom to choose my own life, bride or anything else that doesn’t fit into their Pureblood world. The night you were brought into my home, and I refused to identify Potter?  My parents knew. My mother, actually figured out the real reason why I’d refused to do so. In the end it didn’t matter, as you were tortured, and I had to watch it.”

“Draco, I never blamed you for that night. Yes, it was humiliating for me in so many ways, but even I could see how terrified you were.”

“That’s the story of my life, did you know? Living in Fear. Wishing I was anyone other than Draco sodding Malfoy. Astoria understood me and even with everything, she supported me through the worst time in my life. I had given up hope, and I suppose it’s fair to say that I had given up on ever having what I truly wanted in life.”

“Which was?”

“To be free to choose.”

“And if you’d had that freedom?”

Draco swallowed and said bravely, “I’d have chosen you.”

Hermione’s breath caught in shock as she stared into grey eyes and saw the truth of Draco’s words. For a moment she was stunned silent, but then her blasted curiosity won out.

“What about Astoria?”

Draco shrugged. “It’s ironic, you know? If I hadn’t been forced into marrying Astoria, I would’ve never had Scorpius and Merlin help me—he’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Draco bent his head and swallowed, trying to hold back the tears from falling but when he felt Hermione’s hand cup his chin and lift his face so she could see his expression, a lone tear made its way down his cheek and he was shocked when she smiled softly and gently wiped it with her thumb before pulling back.

“He’s an amazing, clever little boy.”

“He really is. I still can’t believe he saw through you.”

Hermione giggled. “Like father, like son.”

This got a warm chuckle from Draco as his grey eyes lit up with fondness. “Yeah, again he’s truly the only good thing I’ve ever done.”

“That’s not true. Blaise told me you took excellent care of Astoria before she passed.”

Draco nodded. “She deserved nothing less. She was so brave, even though she knew her time was limited. She never even got to hold Scorpius. After she died, I took my son and vowed to never step foot in my ancestral home again. I told my Father I was done playing by his rules, and once I’d secured Scorpius’ inheritance, that was that.”

“Do you still see your parents?”

“Occasionally. Christmas, Scorpius’ birthday. They travel quite a bit. Apparently after the war, the Pureblood families decided that my parents were persona non grata and my mother decided she couldn’t stay there. We went to Paris initially after the war, and that’s where I met Astoria again. From there they’ve been living in our Malfoy property in France. I bought a home outside Surrey. It has a big backyard and is no where near the size of Malfoy Manor, but it’s nice and Scorpius loves it.”

“Fatherhood really has changed you, hasn’t it?”

Draco nodded. “When I saw you that day as Astrid Devereaux in Diagon Alley and heard you laugh, I thought I was losing my mind and it haunted me for weeks. When you initially disappeared, I looked for you.  Astoria thought I was in denial, and she laughed at me several times. I told her it was to assuage the guilt I’d felt. You left that August and Scorpius was born the following January.”

Hermione’s breath hitched.

Astoria knew about Draco’s feelings?

“Astoria knew?

Draco smirked and nodded. “Of course she did. She thought it was both humorous and sad.”

“Why?”

“Because of everything that had happened. She told me once that ‘Irony is wasted on the stupid’ and she was right.”

Hermione couldn’t help it, she bowled over in rich laughter as she held her stomach and then saw that Draco was just continuing to smirk at her as if he was enjoying her laughter at his expense. When she’d calmed sufficiently, Hermione shook her head and murmured.

“Oscar Wilde.”

This caused Draco to chuckle again as he shook his head fondly at her, his voice filled with warmth and tenderness.

“Such an adorable know it all.”

Hermione blushed deeply and Draco couldn’t help it, he ran his finger down her cheek, his eyes becoming heated as they took in her delicate blush. When their gazes locked again, he noticed Hermione’s lips part on a soft gasp and he just couldn’t stop the words from coming out.

“I want to kiss you, Granger. I’ve wanted to kiss you for years now, just to know...” his voice fell away, unsure, but Hermione’s damn curiosity won out again.

“Know what?”

Draco swallowed before he said huskily, his grey eyes now filled with longing, “If you’d kiss me back. Would you kiss me back, Granger?”

Hermione couldn’t speak, but her stomach was doing pole vaulting somersaults as she nodded dumbly in response. Apparently, that was all the invitation Draco needed as his lips descended upon hers and Hermione could’ve sworn the earth had literally just moved off its axis.

The kiss was sweet and gentle and nothing like she’d expected it to be. When Draco eventually pulled away, his eyes were nearly black with desire, his hands cupping her cheeks as he held her there.

Her eyes were wide as she stared back into endless slate, until he whispered the words, “Sin from my lips? Oh, trespass sweetly urged! Please fair Hermione, give me my sin again.”

Holy Godric!

She was certain a whimper had escaped from her lips, but without thinking about it and just going with what this amazing feeling was, she gripped her hands into Draco’s soft blonde hair and kissed him back for all she was worth, feeling and hearing his answering groan and then they were utterly lost to each other.

Chapter Text

Hermione had no idea how long she’d been snogging Draco Malfoy, but at the moment she couldn’t really say that was her most pressing thought.

The most pressing issue was currently heavy against the side of her thigh as Draco nearly hovered over her, owning her mouth with his. For a few seconds he’d release her lips to allow for a quick intake of breath, before he plundered her mouth again and again.

It wasn’t until she felt something vibrate against her, that she finally felt him pull away with an unhappy groan—and when she was finally able to open her eyes, it was to the darkest slate staring back at her, causing her to visibly shudder from its overwhelming intensity.

Draco gently dropped his forehead against her’s for a moment, before pulling them both up into a sitting position, his eyes never leaving her face for a second. As he perused her stained cheeks and swollen lips, that infamous Malfoy smirk made an appearance briefly before he sighed, and visibly tried to get a bit more control over himself.

“I have to go.” He growled out huskily, before leaning over and placing another swift kiss on her lips. “Scorpius is awake, and I need to get back.”

Hermione just nodded dumbly, her addled brain not catching up to the rest of her body, which was a first for her.

She then watched bemused as Draco stood up and pulled her with him, his hands entwining with hers as he moved over by the fireplace.

“Can I floo from here?”

Hermione nodded again, not sure what to say about the past twenty or so minutes.

By the narrowing of Draco’s eyes, he could see her struggling to process.

And when did he become Draco in her mind?

It wasn’t until he enveloped her back into his embrace and tilted her head up to his so that they were looking at each other, that Hermione got a grip on herself.

“Of course, you need to get back.”

Draco nodded and then his arm tightened around her waist for a split second before he said, “Tomorrow? Can Scorpius and I come and see you tomorrow?”

Hermione sighed, her mind trying to come up with a good reason to say ‘no’ and clearly not finding one that made any sense at this precise moment. Draco apparently sensed her indecision, because he lowered his mouth demandingly back upon hers for another minute, until his wand vibrated again.

Tomorrow?” He reiterate deeply, as he pulled away and Hermione could only nod in answer, which caused him to smile slightly.

“Do you have to work in your shoppe tomorrow?”

“I don’t have to, but I can see if my friend can work the afternoon for me.”

“Good. So eleven okay?”

“Eleven is fine.”

Draco gave her one last kiss before he stepped back into the floo. Before he flashed away, he said seriously, “Don’t overthink this, Granger and don’t run. I’ll just track you down.”

Hermione couldn’t help but chuckle at Draco’s audacity.

“You need to go, Malfoy. I’ll see you tomorrow. Give Scorpius a hug from me.”

Draco winked and in a flash of green flame he was gone back to Blaise and Pansy’s.

Hermione just stared at the floo while placing her fingertips on her swollen lips that were tingling from Malfoy’s onslaught.

Who knew the ferret could kiss?

Was this some alternate reality and if so, did she really want to go back to her original timeline?

She snickered loudly at that ridiculous notion before her prodigious brain finally caught up with the fact that she’d just spent the last twenty minutes snogging Draco Malfoy. Had her brain short-circuited, or was she mentally repeating herself? Would he regret it once his brain caught up with his actions?

As Hermione sat down on her sofa, these thoughts and more kept playing on an endless loop throughout her mind, so she had no idea how much time had passed before there was a light tapping sound at her window. Moving over and opening it, she was a bit surprised at the pretty tawny owl that hooted at her and she quickly let it into her living room where it perched itself onto the back of a chair as it held out its leg.

Reaching for and taking the parchment, the owl hooted and then took off back into the night, clearly not waiting for a response. With shaking hands, she gently opened the letter and then her eyes widened a bit at who it was from. Had she really been spaced out for that long?

 

 

Granger-

I can hear your beautiful brain over-thinking things from here. Yes, that did just happen and no, I don’t regret a second of it. Scorpius is sitting here on my lap as I’m writing this and apparently, he asked for you when I got back. Something along the lines of, ‘where she go?’ When I reiterated your given name, Hermione (which he thinks is funny for some reason), he made up an adorable replacement for it, which I will let him share with you tomorrow. Eleven o’clock sharp. I put a back trace on your floo, so as long as you don’t prevent me from coming over, I should be popping in on time.

Just so you’re aware, and in case it wasn’t clear enough...best snog of my life, ever. Now don’t be getting all smug about it, but hopefully you might be feeling the same way?

Guess that’s something we can discuss tomorrow.

Yours,
Draco

 

 

Hermione broke out into peals of laughter as she re-read through the letter several times, before she placed it inside her desk drawer and headed into her room to take a cold shower.

Back in Milan, Draco was sitting on the veranda with a sleepy Scorpius waiting for Blaise’s owl to return and with so many thoughts running through his head, it was hard to pinpoint a single one. Never in his wildest dreams would he have ever imagined he’d get to snog Granger. It was even better than any fantasy he’d ever had from third year on. If there had been one thing he’d thanked his insane bitch of an aunt for, it was that she’d taught him Occlumency before sixth year. He was a natural at it apparently, which had been good because he’d had good reason to keep his innermost thoughts safe.

If Bellatrix had known of his attraction to Granger....Draco shuddered thinking about what might’ve happened.

What had happened still gave him nightmares.

He didn’t think he’d ever get over the sounds of Granger’s screams.

Scorpius was cuddled into his lap, quietly sucking his thumb as Draco gently stroked the back of his head. He couldn’t help but grin at Scorpius’ reaction when he got back, asking about Granger.

It was obvious his son had already bonded with the curly-haired witch.

As they sat there quietly, Draco didn’t immediately notice Blaise coming back out onto the veranda until his friend sat down next to him.

“Hey, mate, you okay?”

Draco nodded with a smug smirk. “I’m fine.”

Blaise’s chuckle was deep as he grinned knowingly at his friend.

“I’d say you’re a bit better than fine, if the disheveled way you came through the floo was any indication.”

Draco’s glare was instantaneous. “Be careful, mate.”

Blaise however, wasn’t deterred by his friend in the least.

“Come on, Drake?  Anyone with eyes, could see how thoroughly snogged you appeared. I must commend you though. You sure don’t waste any time, do you?”

Draco sighed with a bit of irritation but instinctively knew his best mate wasn’t going to let this go. When he didn’t immediately respond, Blaise’s voice dropped a bit more seriously.

“Did you at least tell her?”

Draco’s grey eyes turned to his friend and he nodded.

“I told her enough.”

“She obviously didn’t throw you out?”

Draco’s smirk deepened and Blaise couldn’t help but be impressed at his mate, who wasn’t going to allow Granger to get away this time.

“Drake, what about your parents?”

That apparently, wasn’t the right thing to ask because Draco’s expression darkened ominously, so Blaise felt the need to clarify.

“You know they’re not going to approve of whatever this is between you and Granger. If this is just some school boy fantasy that you’re playing out, then leave the witch alone. She’s already been through enough, and something tells me she will disappear forever if you screw her over.”

“You honestly think that’s all this is for me?”

Blaise shrugged. “I’d like to think this isn’t just some way to thumb your nose at Lucius and Narcissa, or just using her to fill some need for your son. Scorpius has already bonded with her, and it’s clear she adores him too. So I’m going to put it out there and if you want to hex me, feel free. What do you want from the witch?”

Draco stared out into the night as he pondered over Blaise’s question, and he couldn’t help but feel a bit put on the spot, but had to admit his friend made a good point.

His parents would never accept Hermione, never.

They couldn’t disown him, and it wasn’t like he truly cared what his father thought anymore. His mother however, that was a bit more complicated. He loved his mother, would always love her no matter how bigoted she was.

Could he give up his relationship with his mother for a chance with Hermione, at real happiness?

Would he be forced to make that choice?

And then there was his little man, his Scorpius—who clearly needed a mother figure in his life and if he was completely honest?  There was no one in this world with a kinder heart than Hermione Granger.

But all this was secondary to his own heart, which had been buried for so long.

He’d been a cruel child, a bully because that was what his father expected him to be. He’d never understood why it was wrong, not really...not until that punch in third year. It hadn’t stopped him from being a hateful prick, but his motives were a bit less ambiguous after that.

He’d fancied a Muggle-born witch, something simply verboten within his social circles. If anyone had known...anyone...he’d have been beaten even worse than he was by his grandfather and Granger would have been killed. There was no doubt in his mind that his grandfather and possibly father, would’ve had her removed from his life.

That thought alone had dictated much of his actions from fourth year on.

After a while, he’d buried his attraction so deeply and completely, that he’d become caustic and apathetic to everyone and everything. It wasn’t until he’d met Astoria again, that the layers of his soul had been peeled away. Perhaps he’d been selfish, but because he had known her life was forfeit, he’d never hidden anything from her...except his heart.

That was because he’d already given that part of himself away and it had been so sorely beaten down, that he’d never believed it would find expression in his lifetime.

When Granger had disappeared, something in him had woken up and Astoria had seen it. She’d even teased him about mercilessly the morning of Scorpius’ birth. She’d extracted a promise from him that day, that he would follow his heart and stop trying to do what others expected of him. That he’d take care of their son and find a good woman to help raise him.

Astoria hadn’t needed to use her name. Draco had known exactly whom she was referring to.

So he’d promised, and told Astoria that he would always make sure that Scorpius knew that his mother had loved him more than anything in the world. He would tell their son what a brave and courageous woman she was and how she had irrevocably changed him from a hateful jerk to a man with a soul. Astoria had smiled, cupped his cheek and spoken her final words before the labor had taken her life when she’d said, ‘forgive yourself Draco, and never be afraid to ask for forgiveness. You deserve forgiveness and to be truly happy. Be happy.’

A lone tear fell down his cheek as he stared down at his son, who was back asleep in his arms. Looking over at Blaise, he could see that his friend was still waiting for a response.

“Astoria told me before she died that I deserved forgiveness and to be happy. I’m not sure I believed I was deserving of it, nor thought I’d ever receive it from the one person who truly mattered.”

“And?”

“What do you think, Mate? She’s too good for me, always has been and always will be...Muggle-born or not. You want to know what I want? I want a future with her, and for it to be okay. I want to spare her the judgement that would certainly come from being with me, because we both know I’m still fairly hated in England. I can’t shirk my duty to the Malfoy name for Scorpius’ sake, but the rest of it? Lucius would be no great loss, but my mother would be another issue entirely.”

Blaise nodded. “Drake, as much as I care for your mum, she never stopped your Grandfather from hurting you.”

Draco shrugged. “Did you know in the Malfoy marriage contract, that it expressly forbids a Malfoy bride from going against the patriarch of the family when it comes to dealing with direct heirs?”

Blaise’s expression blanched, as he shook his head in the negative.

“So she couldn’t do anything?”

“Not directly, no. But mum was a Black and a Slytherin. So she did what she could indirectly. She’d send her house elf to heal my wounds with magic, but left the bruises so it looked like I hadn’t been healed. She eventually figured a way around the marriage contract when she decided to take my grandfather out of the picture.”

Blaise whistled in appreciation. “Seriously?”

“Yes, she found an old Black Family curse that mimicked dragon pox. Apparently, my Black ancestors used it to eliminate political foes over the centuries. However, she couldn’t cast it herself, so she had someone else do it for her.”

“Who?”

“Severus.”

“Salazar’s balls!”

Draco nodded sadly.

He had only found out that particular truth after his godfather had passed. It had made him feel tremendously guilty for how much he’d doubted Severus during sixth year.

“So, you’re worried about how she’s going to take the news that her baby boy is in a relationship with the Gryffindor Golden Girl?”

“Granger and I aren’t in a relationship yet...but yes, that’s what I want.”

Blaise nodded. “And your mum?”

Draco sighed, but realized that Astoria was right. He deserved to be happy. Tonight, was the happiest he’d been in his whole life except for the day he’d found out Astoria was pregnant. The day of Scorpius’ birth was bittersweet obviously, but he loved his son more than his own life and he would do anything for him.

“I just have to hope that Mother’s love for me outweighs her prejudice, in this one instance.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Then I’ve made my choice.”

“And that is?”

“What I want. And you and I both know what that has always been.”

“You’re not gong to let her get away again, are you?”

“No. If I have anything to say about it, I’m never letting her disappear again.”

Blaise nodded and then he patted Draco gently on his shoulder as he stood up to go back inside to his witch.

“For what it’s worth, Drake...you have Pansy’s and my support. No matter what, we will be here for you and Scorpius.”

Draco gave a quick nod of thanks in return, knowing that in this moment both he and Blaise understood each other perfectly. Just as Blaise was about to head indoors, he stopped and said, “Was it everything you’d imagined?”

Draco gazed over his shoulder with a telling grin. “And then some.”

Blaise chuckled as he walked inside, leaving his best mate and godson to themselves.

He could only hope that somehow, Draco wouldn’t have to sacrifice his relationship with his mother to have what his heart truly desired.

Chapter Text

The next day simply couldn’t get here fast enough for Draco.

He’d tossed and turned all night replaying the previous evenings scene on a constant loop within his mind. Every time he’d close his eyes, he would swear to Merlin himself, that he could still feel the burning touch of her hands in his hair and her feverish kisses on his lips. He would touch them every so often, believing without reservation that he could still feel the imprint of her mouth upon his. Still taste her sweetness, like a bloody ripened succulent peach...his manhood standing to attention at the lascivious thoughts running though his mind of all the things he wanted to do to her. All the ways he’d imagined over the years, of having Granger come undone under him, over him...it really didn’t matter.

He was an equal opportunity pervert when it came to his fantasies regarding a certain bushy-haired know it all.

He always had been.

The fact that he’d gotten to kiss Granger and she’d kissed him back still mystified him. After all the evil and hateful things he’d done, especially to her...she’d not only listened to him but had offered a semblance of absolution for his sins. Never in a million years did Draco think that Hermione Granger would ever willingly allow him the liberties she’d allowed this night.

And Scorpius adored her already. That was another thing that truly astonished him. Scorpius had already bonded with Granger and she with him. Draco could see it in the way her face and eyes had softened when he’d told her he had to go back to Milan and why. Most Pureblood women would’ve taken exception to Draco leaving, wondering why he couldn’t just have left Scorpius in the care of a House Elf or his godparents. But that wasn’t Draco’s way. His son was precious to him and he could never pawn off those responsibilities onto anyone else. Draco at one point, had thought about trying to work, maybe making potions or working with his Father. But when Astoria had died, and he was left to take care of Scorpius, Draco had made a conscious choice that he wasn’t going to leave his son in the care of anyone else. These precious years could never be replaced and Draco was both mother and father for his son. It wasn’t like he needed the money, and he did make some anonymous charitable donations from time to time...but he didn’t have the heart to leave his son. Not now.

Of course his Father had been scandalized and his Mother hadn’t been far behind. It was unseemly for a man, and a Malfoy at that to be so completely hands on with child rearing. Draco remembered quite clearly the conversation he’d had with his parents not even a month after Astoria had passed. His mother had pleaded with him to utilize more help, but he’d refused. Perhaps it was the memory of Granger, and her Elf Rights debacle fifth year...but whatever it was, Draco didn’t regret putting Scorpius first.

He’d never regret that.

There were times...some, not many when he’d wondered what his life might’ve looked like had there been no Voldemort, no bloody war. Would he have been so entrenched in his prejudiced beliefs that he’d still be that same hateful boy he was at Hogwarts? Entitled, bigoted, angry and arrogant? What would his life have been without the war and everything that had happened? Would he be the same man as he was today? A bit kinder, softer around the hard edges and more tolerant of the world around him? It was an intriguing, albeit somewhat disturbing notion to be sure. Hence, why he didn’t dwell upon it too much.

Draco didn’t know how much time had passed as he stared at the ceiling in his room at Blaise and Pansy’s, but it wasn’t until the first vestiges of light flickered through the silk curtained window that Draco realized he’d been awake pretty much the entire night.

It wasn’t too long after that his wand vibrated, signaling that his son was awake and clearly as excited about today as he was. Draco had told Scorpius before he’d settled him down for the night, that they would be seeing Hermione today at her home. His son had clapped his hands together and smiled his toothy grin, apparently pleased with this new development.

As Draco made his way into Scorpius’ room, he smiled softly at his little pipsqueak who was standing up, gripping the rails of his day crib tightly as he bounced up and down on his chubby little legs.

“Daddy!” Scorpius squealed with happy excitement, “Up, up!”

“Okay, champ, okay.” Draco grinned with warm affection as he lifted Scorpius from his bed and gave his son a soft kiss upon the crown of his head. “Let’s go potty.  I think you’re still dry this morning.”

Scorpius nodded and allowed Draco to take him into the en suite. A few minutes later, all cleaned up and teeth brushed, Draco put Scorpius down and his son ran outside the room and down the hallway, calling loudly for Zeppo.

When Draco finally reached the kitchen, Scorpius was sitting down on the tiled floor, babbling to Zeppo about this and that. The elf was putting the finishing touches on breakfast, so Draco picked Scorpius up, placing him into his high chair and plated him some cut up fresh fruit and pastries.

It wasn’t too much later that they were joined by Pansy and Blaise, who had a smug smile on his face.

“You’re both up early this morning? Big plans?”

Draco smirked at his friend while simultaneously handing Scorpius his juice cup.

“As a matter of fact, we do have plans a bit later this morning.”

“I still can’t believe you managed to get Granger to agree to see you again.”

“What can I say, mate?  I’m charmingly irresistible, when I want to be.”

“That’s stretching it a bit, Drake,” Pansy quipped as she plated some fruit for herself, “but I will admit I’m impressed all the same.”

“So what’s the plan?” Blaise asked.

“Scorp and I are flooing over at eleven this morning. Granger said that she had a friend who might be able to watch over the shoppe this afternoon. I’ve never been to Verona, so I thought I’d suggest she take Scorpius and I sightseeing.”

“Putting your well-being into her hands?”

“Well, they are spectacular hands, mate.”

Blaise chuckled while Pansy rolled her eyes at her best friend.

“I will admit, the witch has changed and it’s all for the better. Her fashion sense alone has improved leaps and bounds since we were in school.”

Blaise shook his head playfully at his fiancée. “She definitely can keep up with you, love.”

“Humpff.” Pansy decided to leave that comment be as she continued to eat her breakfast. It was a few minutes before she spoke up again.

“Blaise told me about your conversation last night when you got back home. I just have to ask, Drake?  Are you really sure you want to pursue this?”

The answering glare she received wasn’t entirely unexpected but Pansy refused to be deterred as she valiantly carried on.

“You know your parents as well as I do, Drake. Narcissa may love you, but we both know that her tolerance only extends so far. She hasn’t even tried to make amends with her sister Andromeda, which should give you some indication of where her mindset is. Lucius on the other hand?  Don’t you think he just might try to do something untoward?”

“What?  Like having Granger, eliminated?”

Pansy’s expression indicated that was exactly what she’d been suggesting. When Draco turned to Blaise, he had the same worried look upon his face.

“Lucius is many things, but he’s a self-preservationist first and foremost. If he were to do anything to Granger, especially once it becomes known we are seeing each other?  He’d be signing his own ticket back to Azkaban, and I’ll be the one championing it.”

“You’d really want to see your own Father back in that wretched place?” Pansy asked quietly.

“My Father, even after everything?  Is still the same bigoted elitist that he always was. He’s learned nothing from the war and his failed beliefs. He followed a half-blood megalomaniac for Merlin’s sake!” Draco shook his head in disgust.

Blaise sat back thoughtfully. “Have you ever noticed that the most powerful wizard’s are half-bloods? Dumbledore, the Dark Lord, Potter? Think that’s a coincidence?”

Draco thought about that for a few moments before he shrugged.

“Maybe? But look at Granger? Muggle-born, and she’s as smart as Dumbledore, crafty and cunning as the Dark Lord was and as powerful as Potter is.”

“Yet she’s still Muggle-born, Drake. Blaise and I don’t care, we just want you to be happy. But your parents are going to care, very much. We just don’t want anything to happen to you or Scorpius. Our godson needs a mother figure, it’s true...but I just don’t want to see him become attached and then something happen.”

“Perhaps there’s a way around that?”

“How so, Blaise?”

“Family protection spells.”

Blaise gave his best friend a knowing look. Blaise has done the same thing for Pansy when he’d gifted her betrothal jewelry. Zabini Family spells, as well as those from his mother’s side were quite potent.

“I don’t think Granger is going to take jewelry from me at this stage, mate.”

“Not from you.” Blaise winked and Draco grinned.

“That’s an elegant work around.”

“It would have to be fairly simple though.” Pansy offered thoughtfully.

Draco nodded in agreement. He knew Granger would never accept something like betrothal jewelry from him. At least not yet but Blaise did make a good point. His Mother wouldn’t be so reactionary as to hurt Granger directly. Narcissa was more about cutting words and insults. Lucius however, he couldn’t be trusted to play nice and Draco had little doubt his Father would react first before the logical side of his brain kicked in.

“Perhaps I’ll have Scorpius pick something out during our day in Verona. Knowing Granger, she’d be hard pressed not to accept the item.”

“Nice, using your son already to manipulate the witch.” Blaise grinned.

“Nonsense,” Draco quipped back, “I’m doing this to protect her. Hopefully she won’t need it but you can never be too careful where my Father is concerned.”

Both Pansy and Blaise hummed in agreement as they finished their breakfast and Draco took Scorpius back into the bathroom to give him a bath and get ready for their outing today.

Once Scorpius was bathed, Draco left his son with Zeppo while he got himself ready and took great care in picking out an appropriate outfit for the day. His grey trousers were a bit less formal than he normally wore, but Pansy had assured him that they were completely appropriate. His shirt was a pale blue button down with long sleeves that were cuffed at the ends and rolled slightly for comfort. He wore no tie, and his shoes were Muggle, from an Italian Designer named Salvatore Ferragamo. Pansy had actually taken it upon herself to add several pieces of Muggle clothing to both his and Blaise’s wardrobe and Draco had never been more thankful for Pansy’s meddling than he was right now.

Checking the time, it was nearly eleven, so he grabbed Scorpius and headed for the floo.

When he emerged into Granger’s living room, he was surprised to see that she wasn’t there waiting for them so he went downstairs into her shoppe where he’d figured she was likely still working.

When he entered her bookstore, he immediately noticed it was rather crowded and their were several patrons browsing the shelves and a few more waiting at the counter to purchase their wares. When Granger noticed them, she smiled and waved them over.

“Hey, sorry I wasn’t upstairs to greet you but I’ve been really busy this morning.”

“I can see that.” Draco grinned as he took immediate notice of another woman standing behind the counter.

“Hello, Scorpius.”

Hermione smiled genuinely at the little boy who immediately held out his arms for her. One look at Draco told her he was completely comfortable with her taking his son, so Hermione gathered Scorpius into her arms and gave him a gentle squeeze hello.

Scorpius’ big grey eyes took in the shoppe as Hermione walked back over behind the counter to help another customer. It was only a minute later when her friend moved over and smiled widely at the little boy in Hermione’s arms.

“Who have we here?” Maria said kindly, smiling when Scorpius cuddled more firmly into Hermione’s embrace.

“This is Scorpius.”

“Hello, Scorpius.” Maria said softly, before her gaze fixated on the tall blonde man standing over by the stairway to Hermione’s apartment. Her eyes widened in appreciation momentarily, before she winked at her friend.

“Ah, il padre è bello come il figlio.”

(Ah, the Father is as handsome as the son)

Hermione just shook her head playfully at her friend as she heard Draco’s chuckle.

“Grazie per il bel complimento mia signora.”

(Thank you for the lovely compliment, my lady)

Maria’s face split open in a wide smile, not embarrassed in the least that she’d been ogling the younger man.

“How do you know our Hermione?” Maria asked with a fairly obvious Italian accent.

“I’ve known Hermione since we were eleven. We went to boarding school in Scotland together. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Draco Malfoy, and that is my son Scorpius.”

Hermione blushed in further embarrassment at forgetting her manners yet again.

What was it with Malfoy?

She lost all sense of propriety and decorum around the wizard.

“Sorry.” She grimaced. “But yes. Draco, this is my good friend, Maria Angelina Graziano Midici.”

Draco moved over and bowed over the woman’s knuckles as he gently took her hand in a proper greeting, causing the woman to gasp all a flustered at the display of chivalry.

“Oh, what a fine gentleman you are, signore.”

“Grazie, Hermione mi ha detto che buona amica le sei stata negli ultimi anni.“

(Thank you, Hermione has told me what a good friend you’ve been to her these past years)

“She makes it very easy.” Maria smiled warmly. “Now I understand you have a day planned? So go enjoy the beautiful day and do not worry about the shop.”

Hermione sighed but nodded as she moved over by Draco with Scorpius still firmly within her embrace. He was quietly sucking on his thumb, but his eyes were taking in everything.

“I have my pager, if you need to get ahold of me.”

“Yes, yes. Go!”

Hermione moved over to a back room and grabbed her beaded bag before she gestured for Draco to follow her outside. Now that they were away from the hubbub of the store, Draco was able to take in Granger’s outfit choice for the afternoon and he had to admit, he approved greatly.

It was a fitted sundress that had small straps holding up the corset like top and a flirty A-line skirt that fell to the knees. The material was embellished with blue and yellow flowers on the skirt and her shoes were matching blue wedged sandals that highlighted her lean, tan legs. Her hair was pulled back from her face and fell down her back in ringlets, and her lips were stained with a light pink gloss. She had no other makeup on, just her natural beauty that was all Hermione.

Draco couldn’t help but smile in appreciation.

“You look beautiful.”

His grin widened at her natural blush that moved from her cheeks down her throat and towards her décolletage. Draco had a sudden urge to run his finger along that tempting sight just to see how far that blush went.

When he heard Hermione clear her throat, he realized that he was openly staring and his expression probably didn’t hide where his lascivious thoughts had taken him because her blush deepened even more.

“Granger, if you keep blushing like that we aren’t going to make it past this walkway.”

“And why is that?”

“Because I’m going to be unable to control my thoughts for much longer and I’d rather wait until we’re alone to show you just how much you affect me.”

Hermione’s eyes widened, darkened and she bit her lip as she desperately tried to not react to Draco’s provocative words, but based on his low growl she must’ve failed miserably.

Draco turned away for a couple moments to get himself under control, before he sauntered over and scooped his son back into his arms, purposefully placing a child-size barrier between himself and the delectable witch standing next to him.

“Show us Verona, Granger.”

Hermione was completely stunned for a moment before she nodded and said, “Okay...yes...Verona.”

Draco’s chuckle caused her to shiver as he offered the hand not holding his son for her to take.

After a second, Hermione slid her hand into his as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and with a shy smile and a pleased smirk, they began their day of sightseeing together.

Chapter Text

Their small little group made their way down the alleyway and into the Piazza delle Erbe, in the heart of Verona. As they walked along, Hermione pointed out a few of the historic landmarks including the town hall on the north side of the square with its impressive Torre dei Lamberti. The fresco style buildings of the Mazzanti houses, the Palazzo Maffei done in the old Baroque style, led them eventually to the oldest part of the square where the fountain was located. Hermione pointed out the statue of the Madonna Verona and explained that it actually dated back to Roman rule.

Not too far from the Piazza delle Erbe, Hermione led Draco and Scorpius to what was arguably the most touristy spot in all of Verona: Juliet’s Balcony.

When Draco saw the famed spot, he couldn’t help but smirk wickedly at Granger, and was pleased by the tell-tale signs of her delectable blush as he knew she was remembering his words from last night.

“I noticed you have quite a few books on Shakespeare in your shoppe.”

“Yes I do,” Hermione admitted, “he’s probably the most famous playwright of all time.”

Draco chuckled deeply. “He was a squib, did you know?”

Hermione’s head whipped up to his with such an astonished, disbelieving expression Draco couldn’t help but smile genuinely at her.

“He was?”

“Mmhmm.” Draco nodded, bringing Scorpius up on his shoulders and holding him firmly by the hands, while Granger just stared at him with wonder, as if she still couldn’t believe in what she was seeing.

“Yes. In the Muggle World it is believed that the story of Romeo and Juliet was based upon the political rivalry between the Montecchi and the Capuleti, and that is true to a certain extent.”

“I’m not sure I understand?”

Draco gestured for Hermione to follow him over to the Casa di Giulietta museum, which she did after a moment. He then kept his voice low, so that she could only hear him.

“Well, the Montecchi and the Capuleti were both very powerful Pureblood families in the early fourteenth century. The eldest son of the Montecchi Family, Enzo was betrothed to the only daughter of the Capuleti Family and her name was Giulia. But, she fell in madly love with the younger Montecchi brother, Raffaele. Giulia’s beauty was believed to even rival that of Helen of Troy herself and the bride price for her hand had been simply astronomical. Enzo, it was said, was a vain and cruel man only concerned with gaining more status and wealth. Raffaele however, was a poet and a hopeless romantic. He spent much of his time writing poems and sonnets espousing Giulia’s beauty and his great love for her.”

Draco looked down into Hermione’s face and her eyes were glistening with unbridled interest at learning something new, as they always did at school. He realized in that moment why he had fallen so hard for her all those years ago. She’d never loved fancy or frivolous things like so many other witches of his acquaintance. It was her love of learning that had been unparalleled, and she truly shone with beauty when her face was alight with the same curious, yearning expression as it was at this exact moment.

Draco felt his heart swell with warm affection.

“What happened?”

“Enzo discovered his intended’s duplicity and his brother’s betrayal. Furious that her innocence had been usurped by Raffaele, Enzo had Giulia poisoned by the hand of his own house elf. Raffaele had overheard his brother’s plan and raced to save his beloved, but he was too late. Before he took his own life, he told Giulia’s father Marco, that she’d been poisoned and who was responsible. He then pleaded with Marco to seek revenge for his daughter’s death. However it was revealed after Raffaele’s suicide that Enzo had poisoned Giulia with the Draught of Living Death. Enzo had confessed to Marco after Giulia had been successfully revived by utilizing Wiggenweld Potion. When she found out about Raffaele’s death and what Enzo had done, in her grief she took her own life. From her death the blood feud was borne, and eventually both families succumbed to the brutal onslaught which lasted for well over a century.”

“Merlin! I had no idea!” Hermione breathed out in wonder.

“The diaries of both families were passed on, and then eventually secreted away by a member of Italian Ministry once both family’s had perished. The original diaries were then sold at auction in the late fifteenth century. No one knows where they went, but copies were made and stored in the Italian Ministry archives, where they remain to this very day. Shakespeare’s Father was a noted member of the British Ministry of Magic and he worked in the magical archives there.”

“So it’s not too far of a stretch that somehow, that’s how Shakespeare got his information for Romeo and Juliet?”

Draco shrugged. “No one really knows for sure, but it’s quite the coincidence, don’t you think?”

“That’s too incredible to be a coincidence.”

“I’ve always thought so.”

As they walked out of the museum and continued along their path, Scorpius started to fidget a bit so Draco scooped him back into his embrace, but his son had a different idea as he held out his arms for Hermione. Draco chuckled and handed his son over without a second thought, silently watching the two interact as Hermione pointed out several things to his son, who was watching everything with curious eyes.

They eventually made their way to the Centro Storico along the Via Mazzini and perused the shop windows like a small family of tourists. When they walked a bit further afield, Draco noticed a small artisan shoppe out of the corner of his eye. It had some small pendants and one was shaped like a scorpion.

It was perfect.

“Granger, do you mind if we go in here for a minute?”

Hermione looked over her shoulder from where she had been pointing at a shoppe window with Scorpius that had masks lined along a display and she nodded.

When they entered the store, Hermione’s expression seemed a bit surprised. The store was modest with different Knick-knacks to attract a wide variety of tourists. Draco walked over to the man behind the counter and started speaking to him in Italian, and the man nodded and smiled before moving over to the window and grabbing the pendant.

Luckily, Draco had asked Blaise and Pansy for some Muggle currency before leaving that morning, so he was able to buy the small trinket with no problem. He then placed the purchase in his pocket and tried his best to ignore Granger’s questioning look.

The remainder of the afternoon was filled with good conversation and a stop for some gelato (which Scorpius had been a huge fan of), before making their way back to Hermione’s book shoppe.

When they got back, it was nearly four in the afternoon and Scorpius was definitely getting hungry.

“Would you like to stay for dinner?” Hermione inquired softly.

“Will you be cooking?” Draco quipped playfully, earning him an eye roll and a smirk.

“I was thinking about it, but if you’d prefer to not subject yourself and Scorpius to my cooking we can always eat out.”

“No, no...I think I very much like the idea of you slaving over a stove to cook something for us. What do you say, champ? You want to have dinner with Hermione?”

Scorpius scrunched his face and said, “Jes, eat with Mimi.”

Hermione bubbled over in laughter as she cuddled Scorpius to her. “Mimi?”

“Jes, Mimi.”

When she gazed up at Malfoy, he had a very pleased expression upon his face.

“So this is his name for me?”

“It would appear so.”

“Hmm, I suppose I rather like it. Beats Mione, that’s for sure.”

Draco chuckled, remembering the hated nickname that the Weasel had given to Granger back in school.

“Scorpius has excellent taste.”

“Bragging much?”

“Not if it’s the truth.”

Hermione walked upstairs into her apartment and set Scorpius down.

“You always were an arrogant sod, Malfoy.”

“Probably.”

Hermione’s giggle was infectious as Scorpius laughed along with her. She then moved into the kitchen and Draco watched as his son waddled after her, babbling about all the things he’d seen today.

“Do you need any help?” He offered, but she just shook her head in the negative.

“I’m just going to make a light pasta dish with vegetables, if that’s alright? Is Scorpius allergic to anything or has an aversion to any kinds of foods I need to know about?”

“No, he’s an equal opportunity eater. He prefers sweets like his father though, just in case your taking notes for future reference.”

“And what kind of sweets does he prefer?”

“Zeppo’s pastries obviously, but he’s a huge fan of chocolate.”

“And you?”

Draco grinned wickedly for a moment, a predatory gleam in his eye as he said, “Whatever you’ll allow me to eat off you, Granger. I’m not picky either.”

Hermione inhaled on a sharp intake of breath as her face deepened into a bright scarlet blush. She heard Draco chuckling behind her as she turned away from him and tried to keep herself busy making dinner and not focusing on that particular thought as unbidden images started playing through her mind.

Damn! Her knickers were now completely drenched.

Stupid ferret!

Too easy, Granger.”

His husky voice was drowned out by the happy squeal of his son as Scorpius found a drawer that had several small toys. Draco walked over and stared down into the find, and his eyebrow lifted in curiosity.

“Uhm, Granger...why do you have toys in here?”

Hermione looked over her shoulder towards what Draco was looking down at.

“Oh, those belong to Maria’s great-niece, Annabella. I’ve babysat her from time to time.”

“Oh?” Draco looked up with a serious expression. “How old is she?”

“Four.”

“So that’s how you’re such a natural with Scorpius?”

“Maria comes from a large family. She was never able to have children of her own but she dotes on her nieces and nephews and their children. I’ve actually watched a few of them over the past few years. They are a lovely family and kinda adopted me into their brood. It’s made things a bit less lonely.”

“Do you regret leaving England?”

Hermione thought about the question for a moment as she chopped up the zucchini, squash and tomatoes before throwing them into a bowl.

“I miss certain things.”

“Like?”

Glancing back over her shoulder, she saw Scorpius sitting on Draco’s lap as he happily played with a small stuffed bunny.

“That’s complicated, Malfoy.”

“Because of Potter and Weasley, or because of your Parents?”

Hermione shook her head as she bit on her lip, nearly breaking the skin trying to keep her emotions in check at the thought of her mum and dad.

“Did you know that Halloween our first year, I had decided to owl my parents and beg them to let me come home?”

At Draco’s sharp intake of breath, she knew he was surprised by her admission but she valiantly carried on.

“I was completely adrift those first few months of school. I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere and as bad as the tormenting was in Muggle primary school, it was nothing compared to the hate and bigotry I dealt with at Hogwarts.”

Taking a quick glance over her shoulder, she noticed Draco had his head down, his jaws was visibly clenching as he tried to process her words. She didn’t bother stopping at this point, as it made very little difference to her anymore.

“Then the Troll happened and everything that came after. Everyone thought I had done everything I did to help Harry, but the truth was I knew if I didn’t help Harry, there would be no place for me within the Magical World. The joke was on me however, as it turned out. Even with helping Harry, there’s still no place for me there. I lost my parents, sacrificed my relationship with them to save them, but it was to save myself too. I arrogantly thought I could bring them back to me when all was said and done, but the memory charm couldn’t be reversed. Not safely. But the sad part was, that I was afraid.”

“Afraid of what?” Draco’s voice was strained as he asked the question.

“That they would reject me too, if it did work. That they’d be so angry at me for upending their lives that they’d disown me and then I’d be left alone again. This way, I know they’re happy...truly happy. They deserved to have a better daughter than me.”

Draco stared at Granger’s back as he listened to her sauté the vegetables and stir the pasta noodles. He felt his gut clench in guilt and anger. Guilt for how he’d treated her and angry for what she’d suffered because of his failed beliefs.

“Your parents loved you, Granger. Even I could remember how proud they seemed of you that day in Diagon Alley before second year started.”

He saw Hermione nod absently as she continued cooking in silence for a few moments before she spoke again.

“I know they loved me, Malfoy, but it doesn’t change the truth.”

“And what truth have you decided upon in that brilliant mind of yours?”

“That the truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

“Are we going to be quoting Wilde all night long?”

His expression relaxed for a second when he heard Hermione softly huff at him in humor before she said, “Fine Malfoy. Then I have another quote for you.”

“Which is?”

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

“Ouch! I think your guilt might be strangling you a bit more than mine is at the moment, Granger.”

“Well, I always was an over-achieving know it all swot.”

Draco chuckled as he watched Hermione take the pasta and drain it thoroughly before turning on a skillet and placing some fresh garlic and sautéing it up then placing the pasta in the pan with the vegetables and some parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

The aroma smelled delicious.

When she plated the food and brought it over to the table, she then grabbed some flatwear and a bottle of white wine that was chilled from a small wine rack inside a smaller version of the large icebox she had.

Hermione handed him the bottle to open, which he did seamlessly and then poured them both generous portions of the wine before he settled Scorpius with his plated food.

“This smells delicious, Granger.”

“Hopefully it will taste as good as it smells.” Hermione bit back with a fond smile as she watched Scorpius hum happily, taking the noodles in his hands before Draco handed him a small transfigured fork to use.

Draco took a bite and his eyes widened at the explosion of simple flavors on his tongue. He nodded in approval. “As I said, delicious.”

“So glad you approve.”

“Scorpius seems to be enjoying his too? Aren’t you, champ?”

“Yummmmm....” Scorpius babbled as he continued to put more noodles into his mouth with his hands than the fork.

“I’m glad you like it, Scorpius.”

The little boy nodded as he reached for his sippy cup; another keen bit of Transfiguration.

“I don’t remember you being quite this good at Transfiguration back in school, Malfoy.”

“When you have children, you need to learn flexibility. Transfiguration comes in quite handy.”

“I can see that.”

“So, Granger?  Are you working on a new book?”

Hermione’s surprise was evident on her face at the change of topic, but she nodded slowly as she took a careful sip of her wine.

“I am.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“Don’t play games, witch,” Draco admonished playfully, “what’s the new book about?”

Hermione sighed as she took a quick glance at Scorpius who was watching her with those big grey eyes.

Imogene meets a Dragon.”

Draco sputtered a bit, but managed to not inhale the sip of wine he’d been taking as he stared at Granger as a pleased grin made its way onto his face.

“Really?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes, really!” Shaking her finger at him, she continued on, “And don’t get so smug, ferret! I had the idea long before I ran into you again. So there will be no taking any credit for my literary prowess.”

“You’re no fun.” Draco pouted.

“I’m sure you weren’t telling that to Blaise last night when you got back to Milan?”

Draco eyes widened as he took in Granger’s pleased little smirk.

“Oh, you’re so going to pay for that witch.”

“Promises, promises, Malfoy.”

Draco leant forward slightly as his gaze heated up in warning. “Ah, Granger my delectable witch. I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

He watched as Granger’s cheeks blushed that enticing shade of red that made him imagine doing all sorts of scandalous, wicked things to her.

“Is this going to be a recurring contest, Malfoy?”

“I thought you liked Oscar Wilde?”

“I do.”

“He was a Wizard, did you know?”

By the widening of her large amber eyes and the increase of the pulse along her slender neck, Draco was fairly certain she’d had absolutely no idea of that little factoid. Too bad he wasn’t planning on keeping score, because if he was today; it would be Malfoy 2, Granger 0.

Chapter Text

Dinner ended with the three of them making their way around the block for a nightly stroll as they listened to music wafting from the distance. Scorpius was cradled into Draco’s chest, and by the time they got back to Granger’s apartment, he was ready to go to sleep. Draco asked if there was a place he could settle Scorpius in, and was further surprised when he was led into a small guest bedroom that had a beautiful antique day crib and some plushies, with a rocking chair by the window.

Hermione excused herself and left Draco, but not before giving Scorpius a gentle kiss on the tip of his head, wishing him ‘sweet dreams.

Draco took his son to the ensuite and cleaned him up before transfiguring his clothes into a set of jammies. He then settled him down and took a small hair from Scorpius’ head, setting it aside and once his son was asleep, he added one of his own as well. Draco then cut into his finger with a diffindo, placing a small drop of blood onto the pendant with the two pieces of hair. Muttering several spells over the glowing scorpion as he waved his wand in an intricate pattern, Draco watched as the pendant absorbed the hairs and blood, flashing green as the spell ended.

Draco picked up the pendant and felt the magic imbued within it. The protective charms had worked, now all he had to do was present it to his witch.

When he left the room he set up a warding spell to let him know if Scorpius woke up, before he sauntered back into the living room where Granger was sitting on the couch by the open balcony with a glass of wine in her hand.

“Is he asleep?”

Draco nodded. “Out like a light.”

“He’s had a very busy day.”

Draco chuckled as he sat down on the couch next to his witch and pulled her flush against him, glad when she didn’t protest.

Hermione’s head tilted onto Draco’s shoulder as she sighed in contentment, and felt his lips kiss her temple in response.

“Thank you for spending time with us today.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Malfoy.  I enjoyed myself too. Scorpius is wonderful.”

Draco moved Hermione’s face up so he could see her expression when he teased, “So only Scorpius is wonderful?”

“Eh, you’ll do in a pinch, I suppose.”

Draco grinned before he lowered his lips forcefully onto hers and wasted no time opening her mouth to his onslaught. Her moan of submission and the way her hands gripped into his hair let him know that his witch very much approved of his attentions.

It didn’t take too long before he lifted her up and pulled her onto him so that she was straddling his waist, his hands seeking purchase onto her arse...which was simply perfect, if he did say so himself. Apparently the rest of him thought so too, as he was already rock hard and aching.

His lips traveled down Granger’s neck as he kneaded her backside, before pushing her more firmly atop his arousal...his deep groan letting her know just how affected he was by her.

Hermione was stunned at first by Draco’s dominance, but then those pesky sparks of wanton heat enveloped her body and the next thing she knew, he was hot and heavy between her thighs as she ground down on him trying to relieve the ache between her legs.

Draco pulled his mouth away from her neck as he bit onto her ear before whispering deeply, “If we don’t stop this soon, I’m going to have you right here on this couch, Witch.”

Hermione pulled her head back and gasped at how dark Draco’s eyes looked, all blown with desire as his cheeks were flushed with arousal and his lips were red from her kisses. She pushed her hips down instinctively onto him and felt the rumble of his chest as his hands gripped her still, breathing heavily through his nose.

She smirked and said saucily, “I didn’t ask you to stop, Malfoy.”

Draco’s eyes widened before he lunged at her, grabbing the back of her hair in a vice-like grip as he ravaged her mouth again while his other hand bunched up her skirt and tore the silk scrap of material from her body.

“Are you on the potion?”

Hermione shook her head and grabbed her wand, casting the contraceptive charm. When she was done, Draco unbuttoned his trousers and pulled himself out while he watched mesmerized as Hermione took him into her small hand and started to lower herself onto him.

His breath caught at how obscenely wet she was, but what he wasn’t expecting was how tight she felt. She seemed to be struggling a bit as her breath caught and her face was scrunched up in pain for a split second. His eyes widened as he came to a startling realization.

“Granger...” he growled out in warning, but she shook her head at him and mouthed, ‘I’m okay...it’s okay.’

He nodded as he forced himself to slow down and let her dictate the pace and that’s when he felt her resistance.

“We should be doing this in a bed.” He groaned, as he felt her try to relax her muscles.

She kissed him deeply as she moved up against him before she pushed herself down fully, breaking through that last barrier. His whole body shook at how exquisitely perfect she felt around him and he could see her eyes closed as she bit her lip in concentration, her brow furrowed as she started to swivel her hips against him tentatively after a few moments. Her muscles clenched and he couldn’t help it, he threw back his head and growled out in pleasure.

“Bloody hell, Granger!  What are you doing to me?”

Her eyes were glowing as she finally adjusted to his size and he felt her moving her hips in earnest. He ground his hands against her as he started to move his body in time with hers. He pulled her head back down and continued to kiss her as they panted out in mutual desire, her mewls and whimpers of pleasure were something he knew at this moment, he’d never get tired of.

And as sure as Salazar, he would never allow another wizard to see her like this!

As their mutual pleasure built, Draco moved his left hand down between them until he found that spot that was guaranteed to drive her over the edge. Her moans got louder and then right before she came, she whispered his given name like a prayer and kissed him deeply before her whole body convulsed and sucked his own completion out of him with a strangled groan of her name.

When he opened his eyes, it was to the sight of warm amber eyes that were staring into his with happiness, but there was a bit of hesitation and fear there too. Draco pulled her back to him and kissed her breathless before he gripped her head gently between his hands and smiled at her with genuine affection.

“You’re incredible.”

Her blush was charming as he pulled her hair back from her face.

“Really?”

“Do I need to spell it out? Best shag of my life so far, but as I intend on many repeat performances I’m sure we can find room for improvement. What do you think?”

Hermione giggled at his playful expression before she sobered up a bit. They were still conjoined, and neither one seemed to want to move away from their intimate embrace.

“You’re not mad I didn’t tell you?”

Draco shook his head. “No, I’m not upset, silly witch. If I had known I would’ve tried to make it...”

“What? More memorable? I think it was pretty fantastic as is, Malfoy.”

“Draco.”

“What?”

“Witch, we just rocked each other’s world’s. I think you should call me Draco. Malfoy sounds too impersonal after that, don’t you think?”

“Does that mean you’re going to start calling me Hermione?”

Draco grinned but didn’t answer immediately as he lifted Hermione up into his embrace and he groaned as he slid from her warm body. Taking his wand, he cast several cleansing charms before he asked her which way to her bathroom. She pointed down to the right, so he kept her cradled to him as he waved his wand and vanished their clothes to the bathroom he used with Scorpius. Now both fully naked, Draco sauntered down the hall and found the room he was searching for. He didn’t have time to take in the decor of her bedroom before he made their way into the adjoining en suite. Setting her down, he turned on the faucet to fill the bathtub and then gestured to her to add whatever she wanted into the tub, which she did after a second.

Once the water was filled, Draco settled them both inside the copper claw foot tub as he took a hand towel and proceeded to gently wash his witch thoroughly, paying particular care to her breasts (which he would be enjoying later) and in between her legs.

“Hermione sounds like such a mouthful,” he quipped after a while, “and it seems Scorpius already has the corner lot on Mimi. We know you hate the nickname Mione, so that doesn’t leave me with very many options.”

Hermione laughed at how cute Draco looked when he pouted.

When in Godric’s name did Draco Malfoy get cute?

“So what would you suggest?”

Draco gave her a gentle kiss on her shoulder before he whispered into her ear. “Mine.”

The deep husky way he said the word sent shivers down Hermione’s body. Frankly, she should be offended at his word choice, as it made her sound more like property; but the way in which Draco whispered it made it seem as if she was a cherished possession and one he clearly intended on keeping.

“You make it sound as if you plan on keeping me?” Hermione’s voice was soft, but clear as she spoke the words.

“I do.” He didn’t hesitate to answer. “Do you doubt it?”

Hermione gazed back over her shoulder for a moment as amber held grey in its grip.

“I just have to wonder what your parents might think about this? About us?”

Draco sighed heavily, knowing he couldn’t lie to her about this.

“My parents aren’t going to be happy, but I don’t care.”

With that he lifted Hermione up and turned her so that they were now facing each other before he grabbed his wand and accio’d the necklace he’d purchased. When it slapped into his hand, he opened his palm and showed it to her.

“I know it’s a bit early for betrothal jewelry and Merlin only knows that I would never give you something that you didn’t like. But this I purchased today. It has Malfoy protection charms on it, both from Scorpius and myself. I would be honored if you would wear it for us.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she took the piece of jewelry and felt the magic radiating from it as it hummed happily in her hands and throughout her body. Draco’s eyes widened as he felt the magic too. If it hadn’t been made clear to him before this moment, he knew now beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hermione belonged with he and Scorpius.

She finally nodded and said shyly, “Will you put it on me?”

Draco grinned and kissed her before he placed the necklace on her, and his smile softened as he saw the scorpion nestled between her breasts. His grey eyes then met hers, and she looked more peaceful than he could ever remember her being in all the years they’d known each other. He knew it, because he’d felt it too.

“It’s perfect.”

“Thank you.”

“You don’t ever have to thank me. Your mine and I’m yours. I told you I’d have chosen you if I’d been given the choice. That choice is now mine to make, and I will always choose you and Scorpius. You belong with us, Mine.”

Hermione felt her heart bursting as she kissed Draco and felt him respond immediately. The rest of the night was spent in each other’s arms, learning about and giving to each other. And for the first time in both their lives, they knew what true happiness felt like and vowed to never let it go.

Chapter Text

The rest of the night was better than Draco had ever imagined it could be. Even his fantasies of Granger didn’t do the witch justice. She was fearless in everything she did.

How in Salazar could he have expected this to be any different?

She was as eager to learn about sex as she had been in her studies at school, and Draco was the lucky wizard who got to spend the entire night teaching her about how amazing sex could be. He didn’t think they’d slept much beyond a kip here and there, as every time he woke up, he was desperate to have her again and it was clear his witch felt the same insatiable need.

Draco hadn’t been with many witches: Pansy, Astoria and a French witch Claudette from Beauxbatons. But even so, he’d always subconsciously compared every witch to Hermione, and had found them all lacking in some way.

As he laid there with his arms firmly wrapped around his Mine, spooning her from behind he could feel his morning erection coming to life at the thought of having his witch again. He was about to do just that, when his wand started to vibrate, letting him know that Scorpius was awake. He cast a wandless tempus and was surprised that it was past six in the morning, and his son had slept through the night in a new place.

That had never happened before.

Draco groaned as he went to get up, realizing his body was more sore than he’d anticipated. He gazed down at his sleeping beauty and figured that she would likely be sore as well this morning. He leant down and kissed her, until her eyes fluttered open and she sleepily smiled at him in greeting.

“Hey.” She mumbled.

“Hi.” His voice was gentle as he cupped her cheek with his hand. “Scorpius is awake. How are you feeling this morning?”

Hermione stretched her body and when her arms moved up over her head, the sheet slipped down revealing her bare chest to Draco’s hungry stare. He didn’t waste the opportunity to hover over her and attach his mouth to her right breast, smirking as she arched into his touch.

When his wand vibrated again, Draco groaned unhappily as he pulled back.

“Are you sore this morning?”

Hermione nodded. “A bit, but I’m not going to complain. Last night was amazing.”

“It was.” Draco agreed before he stood up and left the room, coming back a few minutes later dressed in his clothes from last night with a sleepy Scorpius bundled into his arms. Hermione smiled at the little tyke who reached out for her. She motioned for Draco to turn around as she grabbed a T-shirt and some sleep shorts before giving the all clear.

Draco then handed Scorpius to her and he cuddled into her embrace as she kissed him on the top of the head.

“Hey there, my little man...did you sleep okay last night?”

Scorpius nodded as he continued to suck his thumb and cling to her. Draco sat down and placed his hand on the back of his son’s head as he petted his soft hair, his pleased smile was hard to miss.

“Do you have a pain potion here?”

Hermione shook her head. “Just Muggle pain relievers.”

Draco nodded. “Okay. I’m going to floo back home and get some for us both. I’ll be back in a jif, alright? You’ll be okay with Scorpius?”

“We will be fine, Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco leant over and brushed her lips with his in a tender kiss.

“You’re better than fine, Mine. You’re perfect.”

He smirked as Hermione’s cheeks blushed beautifully and he chuckled happily as he made his way to the floo, calling out Blaise’s address as the green flames whisked him away.

When he got to Blaise’s apartment, Draco called for Zeppo who appeared immediately.

“Mister Draco, whats can Zeppo do’s for you?”

“Are the Master and Mistress home?”

“The Mistress is out, but’s Master is in his study.”

Draco nodded and thanked the house elf before making his way to where Blaise was.

When he entered, his best mate lifted his head from some paperwork he was reading through, his eyes widened for a fraction of a second before his face broke out into a devious grin.

“I don’t need to ask what you got up to last night.”

Draco glared and said frostily, “I didn’t come here to gloat, prick.  I need some pain potion. Do you have any?”

Blaise chuckled deeply. “What did you do mate? Shag the witch within an inch of her life?”

Draco moved over and slammed his hands on the desk, causing his friend to wince with shock as he stared up into his friend’s angry grey eyes.

Blaise sat back with his hands up in the universal sign of peace and said, “Sorry. I don’t have any.”

Draco sighed and nodded before rubbing his hands down his face as images of the previous night flashed through his mind. He looked down at his friend with a grimace and said, “Look, I’m sorry too.”

When he fell into the seat across from Blaise, the wizard knew something was up.

“Uhm, is everything alright?” Blaise asked lowly.

Draco nodded again. “Last night was perfect. She’s perfect.” Draco then shook his head before he whispered out, “She was untouched, mate. She didn’t tell me until it was too late.”

Shite.” Blaise sat back wide-eyed, now understanding why his friend was being an overprotective arse. “I know you, mate—and I know how long you’ve hoped for this. But to know you’re her first? You’re never going to let her go now, are you?”

Draco shook his head again. “No, I’m not. I gave her a necklace with protective charms on it from both Scorpius and I. I used both our hair and my blood. The magic when she put it on, I can’t explain it, mate. It was joyous...I could feel it as if it was my own magic. She was always meant to be mine.”

Blaise nodded, well understanding his friend’s comment because the same thing had happened when he’d given Pansy her betrothal gift.

“You’re screwed.”

Draco grinned. “Yes I am, and I couldn’t be happier about it.” He stood up and made his way back towards the floo with his friend following him. “I’m going to head home, I have some pain potion there. I’ll be back through here in a few. Can you floo Granger and let her know where I went? She’s taking care of Scorpius until I get back.”

“Sure.”

Draco stepped into the floo and called out his address back in Surrey before the flames whisked him away. Blaise then put his head into the floo and called out for Hermione Granger’s flat in Verona and was surprised when a few seconds later he saw the witch walking to the hearth with Scorpius attached firmly within her embrace.

“Blaise?”

“Hey, Hermione.”

“Is everything alright?”

“Uncwl Bwaise!” Scorpius chirped happily.

“Hey, kiddo. Uhm, yeah. Draco just needed to go back home to grab some clothes for he and Scorpius. Told me to let you know he will be back soon.”

Hermione’s expression seemed relieved and Blaise noticed that his godson was extremely comfortable with the witch, which made him smile.

“Okay. When he comes back through just let him know I’m going to start breakfast and feed this little guy.”

Blaise chuckled. “I’ll do that. Enjoy your Sunday, Hermione.”

“Thanks, Blaise. And thank you for inviting me to your home Friday.”

“Not a problem. You’re welcome anytime.”

The connection ended and Hermione lifted Scorpius into her embrace and blew raspberry’s on his tummy, giggling as his infectious laugh.

“Let’s get you fed, little man.”

“Tay.” He nodded as they made their way into the kitchen.

Back in Surrey, Draco grabbed a overnight bag and started putting a few items into it when he heard his floo go off downstairs. Placing the last items of his and Scorp’s into the bag, he grabbed two pain potions from his cabinet before heading downstairs. His gut clenched as the only people who had access to his floo were Blaise, Pansy and his parents.

Sure enough, when he walked into his sitting room his parents were standing there siphoning the soot off their robes.

Narcissa was the first to see her son as she smiled widely and came over with a kiss for him on the cheek.

“Mother, Father...what are you both doing here?”

“We came to see our grandson.” Lucius stated imperiously, as he looked around and then his grey eyes settled on the overnight bag in his son’s hand. “Going somewhere?”

Draco set the bag down momentarily, dreading this conversation but unwilling to hide his new relationship with Hermione.

“As a matter of fact I am. I’m heading to Blaise’s.”

“Oh, how are Blaise and Pansy doing?” Narcissa asked with feigned interest. She’d never cared much for Pansy but had liked Blaise well enough.

“They are well.”

“Where is Scorpius?”

“He’s with the witch that I’m seeing romantically.”

Both his parents stared at him, but his father was the first to recover.

“And just whom is this witch that you feel comfortable enough to leave our grandson with her?”

Draco smirked at his father and said firmly, “Hermione Granger.”

His Father hissed out at the name in shock, but his Mother’s expression was clearly calculating as she inquired, “And just how long have you been involved with Miss Granger?”

“It’s a recent development, but before you both ask the inevitable questions and make this situation worse, know this now...I have no intention of walking away from her. Not now, not ever. Scorpius has already bonded with her, and I have given her jewelry with Malfoy protection charms. It accepted her, and she is mine and Scorpius’. If either of you interfere, or harm her in any way I will never forgive you. Am I clear?”

As both his parents stared at his clearly resolved expression, his Mother was contemplative but his Father was livid.

“How dare you, boy! Giving a mudblood family protection?!!”

Draco moved into his Father’s space and growled out lowly, “Watch yourself, old man. I may have allowed you to ruin my life, but you will not ruin your grandson’s. Did you hear what I said? Scorpius has bonded with Hermione. Whatever your issues with her blood status are insignificant compared to my son’s needs and mine. I allowed you to dictate my childhood. I allowed you to force me into a marriage with a good witch who was dying that I didn’t love, all for family honor. Where was your honor, Dad? When you allowed a half-blood megalomaniac to usurp our family home and take your wand? When you allowed my mother to be threatened? Don’t talk to me about family honor!”

“Draco!”

Narcissa came over and separated her two wizard’s. Lucius was pale and shaking at his son’s harsh words, never expecting his own child to speak to him in such a way.

“Watch your mouth, boy.”

“I’m done allowing what I want to come in second to your wishes and demands. News flash!  I’ve been in love with that Muggle-born, War Heroine since third year. And after everything, she’s forgiven me and wants to be with Scorpius and I.”

“And how do you know she isn’t after your money?” Lucius sneered, but was surprised when his son just laughed at him.

“Because she has enough of it on her own.” Draco smirked. “Does the name Astrid Devereaux, ring any bells?”

Narcissa gasped as she immediately put the pieces together. The book that the author had dedicated to her grandson! She had always wondered why a complete stranger would have done such a wonderful, selfless gesture?

Now she knew.

“Miss Granger is Astrid Devereaux?” Narcissa inquired kindly.

“Got it in one, Mother.”

Narcissa came over and whacked her son upside the head. “Don’t get cheeky with me, My Dragon.”

Draco rubbed his head sheepishly. “Sorry, Mum.”

“Hmm.”

Narcissa’s blue eyes held her son’s and she could see his pleading expression as he silently begged for her understanding. She didn’t like this at all, but she had to admit that Hermione Granger was an exceptionally bright and powerful witch. Her disappearance was still reported on extensively and she was still regarded as highly as Mr. Potter. Perhaps, if she looked at this as a Slytherin and a mother, it wasn’t an entirely unfortunate set of circumstances, despite the girl’s less than stellar pedigree.

“You love her?”

“I do.” Draco said firmly but Lucius just scoffed.

“Cissy, you can’t seriously be considering allowing a mud....”

Narcissa’s cold blue eyes stared down her husband, who backed away slightly at his wife’s harsh look. She then turned back to her son and gently smoothed his hair down his head as she felt the tension in his body abate somewhat. He was a good son, had done everything she and Lucius had asked of him. They had their Pureblood Heir in Scorpius. Draco had done his duty to the Malfoy line.

So was it wrong of him to want a measure of happiness for himself?

“You should get back, yes?”

Draco smiled at his mother and then kissed her cheek in gratitude before he whispered into her ear softly, “I love you, Mum.”

“And I you, My Dragon.”

Draco gave his Father one last sneer before he grabbed his bag and headed back to Blaise’s through the floo.

When Draco was gone, Narcissa then turned to her husband, who was glaring at her angrily and she pointed to the floo.

“We need to have a frank discussion, dearest. And you will listen and heed what I tell you, are we clear?”

Lucius grimaced, but nodded as he made his way back through the floo and home to Malfoy Manor.

Chapter Text

When Draco made his way back to Verona, he could hear the sounds of laughter coming from the kitchen. When he walked into the room, his face split into the widest grin as he saw Scorpius’ face covered in flour as his son sat upon the countertop, using a spoon to mix something in a bowl. Hermione was helping him, her hair and face also a bit worse for wear as there was flour all over her too.

“What are you two doing?”

Hermione looked over her shoulder while Scorpius grinned and said, “Hi Daddy! We’s mwaking bweakfast.”

“And just what are you two making?” He asked, as he sauntered over and kissed his witch on her shoulder.

“We’re making pancakes.” Hermione answered with a smile.

“What are pancakes?”

“Really, you’ve never had pancakes?”

Draco shook his head. “Can’t say that I’ve had the honor.” He eyed the mixture in the bowl with a grimace. “Do you need any help?”

“Not really. The batter is almost mixed. Perhaps you could take Scorpius and get him cleaned up a bit while I finish in here?”

Draco nodded and picked up his son, who had clearly enjoyed his foray into baking.

“I can do that. Is it okay if we use your shower?”

Hermione eyed the bag that Draco had left by the doorway.

“Of course it is. You were gone for a while, is everything alright?”

Draco went into his bag and grabbed a pain potion for himself and one for Hermione, handing it to her. He waited until she took it before he answered her question.

“I had some unexpected visitors when I returned back home to Surrey.”

“Oh, I see.” Hermione nodded thoughtfully, her eyes darkening a bit. “And how did that go?”

“About what I expected, actually.” Draco admitted with a shrug. “My Father is a git and my Mother, while not thrilled, is willing to reserve judgment because she knows this is what I want.”

Hermione’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“So you told your parents?”

“That we are involved romantically and I have no intention of walking away nor allowing them to interfere.” Draco stated firmly and Hermione was very surprised by this new and improved Draco Malfoy.

The truth was, she was floored by how much he’d changed.

“And you think that will be the end of it?”

“No, so do me a favor?”

“Which is?”

“Don’t ever take that necklace off. It will protect you from my Father if he decides to do something untoward.”

“Do you think that’s likely?”

Draco wrapped his arm around his witch and kissed her temple in reassurance.

“I don’t know, Mine. I would hope my Father would’ve learned his lesson by now, but I can’t say for certain. I just ask that you don’t walk away from us because of him.”

Hermione sighed as she turned fully into Draco’s embrace and wrapped her arms around he and Scorpius.

“Draco Malfoy, I can handle your Father. I’m not scared of Lucius Malfoy. So as long as you promise that it’s you, Scorpius and me, then I can give you my word that you’re both stuck with me.”

Draco dipped his head down and kissed Hermione deeply before he pulled away slightly, leaving them both panting and wanting more.

“I can promise you that.”

“Then we have an accord.”

Draco chuckled as he nipped at her neck briefly before moving with Scorpius out of the kitchen.

“We will be back soon, love. After last night, I’m simply ravenous.”

He grinned as he watched his witch blush.

“Go take a shower and get cleaned up.”

“Only if you’ll promise me that I can get you dirty again later?”

Hermione’s laughter was infectious as Scorpius giggled with her, unsure of why but enjoying the happy moment nonetheless.

“I promise nothing, Mr. Malfoy. You have to earn those favors.”

Draco waggled his eyebrows suggestively as he grinned. “Oh, Mine!  I fully intend to earn all your favors.”

“We shall see.”

Draco winked and turned around chuckling as he cuddled his son closer to him.

“Yes we will, Witch.” He bellowed, as he made his way towards the bathroom, hearing Hermione’s musical laughter following him down the hallway.

It wasn’t too much later that he and Scorpius were showered and dressed. When he got outside the loo, he was amazed by the delicious smells wafting throughout the apartment.

When he headed back into the kitchen, he noticed that the table was set up, a high chair transfigured for Scorpius with a sippy cup. There was fresh fruit, juice and a platter of what he could only assume were these pancakes that Hermione had mentioned.

“Something smells delicious. You keep spoiling us like this, Mine, you’ll never get rid of us.”

Hermione turned around and grinned as she came over and took Scorpius from him, settling him into his chair and giving him a plate of tiny pancakes that were the size of a large galleon.

“Kid sized pancakes.”

Scorpius clapped his hands and went to grab one, placing it into his mouth and taking a bite.

“Yumm....” he cooed happily before taking another bite.

Hermione gave him a small dish with what looked like a kind of syrup.

“This is maple syrup, Scorpius. You can dip your pancake into it or you can put some on top of the cake if you want to use your fork?”

Hermione showed them both by plating a couple pancakes for herself, putting some fruit on top and then pouring a generous amount of syrup on top of them. Draco was intrigued, so he followed suit while his son was just happy to dip the cake into the liquid and make a mess that way.

Draco’s eyes widened when he took the first bite.

“These are good. Much different than crepes. Denser, but really good.”

Hermione hummed in agreement. “My parents took me to the States when I was eight. This is considered traditional breakfast fare there. Where we went they had pancakes shaped like a mouse.”

“Huh?”

“Disneyworld. It’s a Muggle theme park with rides for children. I’ll show you some other time.”

Draco took another bite of his breakfast and nodded in appreciation. After a few minutes of eating, he spoke up.

“Do you have to work today?”

“No. Sunday the store is closed if I choose to spend the day writing. Sometimes Maria will work for me if I ask her to.”

“How often are you open?”

“It varies. The bookstore as you’re likely aware, isn’t my main source of income. I do own this building. I bought it from Maria’s family a while ago. It gave me something to do and forced me to not live as a shut in. During high tourist season, I’m fairly busy and in the winter months I usually do a bit of traveling or do a book tour as I did not too long ago. Maria kept the bookstore afloat while I was gone.”

“Does she know your pseudonym?”

Hermione shook her head. “No one other than my publisher knew, until recently.”

Draco tipped his head down in embarrassment as he coughed a bit before he confessed, “Uhm, about that. I might’ve said something to my parents about that.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she stared at Draco, her mind trying to process how that secret might’ve been relayed. After a few minutes she sighed in resignation.

“Let me guess?   Lucius assumed that I was after the Malfoy money and you decided to disabuse him of that notion by outing my alternate identity?”

Draco grinned in admiration.

“Still the Brightest Witch of the Age.” He reached for her hand and felt his shoulders relax when she easily allowed the intimate gesture. “How upset are you?”

“I’m not upset, Draco. I just don’t like the idea of coming between you and your parents. Realistically, I knew on some level that they would never accept me in your and Scorpius’ life, but I know what it’s like to lose your parents and I don’t want that for you, regardless of how I feel about the situation.”

“Mine, you have to know that there is no contest here. My first priority will always be Scorpius and now you. Can you honestly tell me you’d walk away from us because of my parent’s bigotry?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. As fast as this is, I can’t deny that it feels right being with you both. But I’m not sure what that means going forward.”

“In what way?” Draco replied, taking another bite of his pancakes.

“Well, your life with Scorpius is in Surrey. That’s where your home is. My home is here in Verona.”

“Is that a deal breaker?”

Hermione thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what to expect if I go back to England. I left that life behind, and I’m not sure there’s a place there for me anymore.”

“And if I told you that your place is with Scorpius and me?”

“Draco, you know how much prejudice there still is back home. Merlin, even Pansy can’t go back because of everything.”

“True, it’s that way now. But, Mine?  Scorpius...I want him to be able to go to Hogwarts when he turns eleven. If I don’t try and make things better for him now, it’s going to be so much harder when he gets older.”

Hermione sighed as she turned her attention to the sweet blonde boy who was humming happily as he ate his pancakes. She couldn’t help but run her hand gently through his soft blonde locks, so much like his father’s.

“Are we really going to talk about a future so soon?” She said evenly and was surprised when Draco smirked at her.

“I gave you a necklace with Malfoy protection charms, witch. I told my parents in no uncertain terms that if they made me choose, I’d choose you.”

Hermione gasped in surprise as her eyes widened in shock.

“Are you sure about this?”

“I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life, outside of this little pipsqueak here. I know Astoria was his mother and I promised her that I would always make sure that Scorpius remembered her sacrifice and love for him...but, Mine?  Tell me that this what we have here right now, doesn’t feel fated? I know you abhor Divination, but even you have to admit we belong together? All three of us.”

Hermione turned back to Scorpius again, who was watching her with his big grey eyes and he smiled widely, mumbling ‘Mimi’ happily and she couldn’t help but laugh at how adorable he was. When her eyes locked with Draco’s, his expression was completely open as if he didn’t want to hide any of what he was thinking or feeling from her.

“Who are you, and what have you done with Draco Malfoy?”

Draco chuckled deeply before he said firmly, “This is me now. I’m not saying this was always me, but this was the me I’d hoped to be someday if given the chance. We both have scars, ugly reminders of our shared past that was contentious and unkind. Mostly on my end, it’s true. I’m not asking you to forget the past, that’s not a realistic expectation. I suppose what I am asking is for you to trust in who I am now, and the future we could have together.”

“And why should I trust you now?”

Draco sighed heavily, knowing that it was a valid question but not wanting to answer it completely because he didn’t want to scare Hermione away. By the expression on her face however, he knew that anything less than brutal honesty was not going to be acceptable to her.

“I’m afraid if I tell you the truth, your first instinct will be to run.”

Hermione reached for Draco hand, and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“You won’t know until you tell me?”

“Fair enough.” He agreed. “And if I told you I’ve been in love with you since our third year?”

Hermione’s face paled at the admission as she gaped openly at Draco’s words. By the sincere look on his face, she knew he was telling the truth.

“How is that possible? Draco, you were so...”

“Hateful? Bigoted? Prejudiced?”

Hermione just nodded.

“And if I told you there was a reason behind everything I did?”

Hermione thought about that for a few moments, and she recalled Draco saying something along those lines when they’d discussed this before.

“Then I would ask whether this reason had to do with something or someone?”

Draco smirked at how intelligent his witch was.

“Someone.”

“Who’s no longer alive?”

Draco nodded.

Hermione looked over at Scorpius and he was watching her too, almost as if he could sense the importance of their conversation.

“Is that why you refused to allow Scorpius to live at Malfoy Manor? To be raised there? Is there some antiquated Malfoy Pureblood custom that could force Scorpius into a similar situation?”

Draco sat back stunned at how clever his Mine was. How did she figure that out so quickly? All he could do was nod and he saw her expression darken in pained understanding as her gaze locked onto Scorpius and her breathing started to become labored.

“You promise me he’s not going to have to endure that? What you went through?”

Draco nodded solemnly. “Mine, I would never allow my own Father to do to Scorpius, what my Father allowed my Grandfather to do to me. You have to believe me.”

He watched a tear fall down Hermione’s cheek and she valiantly wiped it away as she desperately tried to get her breathing under control. Scorpius sensing her distress, reached for her immediately.

“Mimi! Up, up!”

Hermione wasted no time taking Scorpius into her embrace, wiping his sticky hands and face off as she sensed Draco watching her. When Scorpius was cleaned, she cuddled him into her chest and her amber eyes locked onto deep grey ones that were staring at her with adoration and love.

“I can forgive our past Draco, but I swear on my magic, if you ever allow your father to harm this innocent child I will hex you within an inch of your life and I will destroy Lucius Malfoy.”

Draco smiled genuinely and nodded in understanding.

“You have my magical vow, Mine. I won’t ever allow Scorpius to be harmed by my Father.”

Hermione nodded as she kissed Scorpius on the crown of his head, as he clung to her tightly.

“And for what it’s worth, my cunning witch...when the time comes that we have children of our own, I will protect them just as fiercely and love them just as much as I do you and our son here.”

Hermione hiccoughed on a broken sob, realizing just what Draco was promising her. She didn’t even hesitate for a second as she nodded in response. Whatever was happening between them, it couldn’t be denied and the truth was, she didn’t want to. Perhaps she should be more concerned over the fact that the logical side of her brain seemed to be out on a permanent holiday over the past few days. But as she held Scorpius to her, Hermione couldn’t imagine not having him in her life and as she gazed into Draco’s eyes, she saw her own emotions mirrored back at her.

Their household was now alight with dignity and hope in fair Verona indeed.

Chapter Text

In Wiltshire, Lucius Malfoy was sitting in his study while his wife was currently staring at him from across the room. When they’d gotten home, she’d shaken her head in disgust and led them both to Lucius’ study where she’d paced the length of the room several times while he just sat there nursing a firewhiskey. He wasn’t sure what his wife had been thinking, but it seemed that she was finally resolved in whatever it was that had been playing through her mind for the past thirty minutes.

He took another small sip of his drink, feeling it burn down his throat in much the same way his lovely Cissy’s eyes were burning through him at this very moment.

“Please say something, my love. I know you well enough to know that you can’t be pleased with the fact that our son is openly courting a mudblood.”

Narcissa hissed at the word, but her expression didn’t change as she glared angrily at her husband. After a few more moments, she sat down regally on the settee and called for Flixy to bring her a glass of elf-made wine, which the elf did immediately.

Lucius watched as his wife took a measured sip of the deep liquid, her eyes closing in bliss for a second before they locked onto his again.

“Of course I’m not happy with the situation, Lucius, but what would you have me do? Draco has done everything we’ve asked of him. We have Scorpius and if I’m being honest, his assignation with Miss Granger might actually serve to elevate our standing in society once Draco’s relationship with her becomes public knowledge.”

Lucius sat back and considered his wife’s words, and while they had merit he simply couldn’t allow his son and Heir to consort with a mudblood.

Even one as well connected as Miss Granger was.

“Cissy, you know this cannot be allowed to continue, regardless of whom he’s consorting with? Her heritage being what it is, how can you even consider such a thing for our son and grandson?”

“Because Draco’s made it clear we will lose both he and Scorpius if we don’t support his choice. I have never seen our son as he was today, have you? Do you doubt that he will walk away from us and take Scorpius with him if we do not capitulate in this one instance?”

Lucius took another sip of his drink and pondered his options. Draco had refused to allow Scorpius to be raised in the Manor, and Lucius wasn’t an idiot, he knew why that was. It was doubtful that Narcissa would sit idly by and allow harm to come to Scorpius, as it had to their son by his own Father’s hand. Lucius had of course, not agreed with how his Father had punished Draco, but his hands were tied until Abraxas had died. Oh, Lucius knew on some level his diabolical wife had found a way around the Malfoy Marriage Contract and had his father eliminated. He had no doubt she’d do the same to him if he went against her in this regard.

“So you suggest we welcome the little chit into our family?”

Narcissa sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose in resignation.

“I suggest we don’t have a choice if we wish to keep our son and grandson. Perhaps this is just a passing fancy on Draco’s part? Every child goes through a phase of rebellion, perhaps this is nothing more than that?”

Lucius sighed as he set his glass down on his desk.

“You don’t believe that anymore than I do, my love. Our son has gifted the witch betrothal jewelry and for all intents and purposes he means to bring her into the fold, as it were. So I will ask you this again...are you going to welcome that witch into our family?”

Narcissa eyed her husband with a moue of distaste as she considered all her options. As much as she was loathe to do so, it would seem that Draco was determined to bind himself to the witch and therefore, her hands were tied. She would not ruin her only son’s happiness, not again.

“We will support this union, Lucius. We will utilize this for our own gain and at least on the surface will do all we can to parlay this into our advantage.”

“And if it becomes a hindrance?”

Narcissa sighed as she considered this before she spoke out firmly, “It won’t be. The winds of change are upon us, dearest, and if we have any hope of reinstating the Malfoy name to its former glory, then we’ll need to utilize this boon to our advantage. You will support me in this, my husband, because if I discover any duplicity on your part?  I will be quite unforgiving in how I enact my own form of retribution. Am I clear?”

Lucius swallowed and nodded once, knowing without a shadow of a doubt his lovely wife would see him six feet under if he were to openly defy her. He loved her endlessly for her Slytherin nature. If it hadn’t been for her timely lie, he and his son would’ve likely ended up in Azkaban. He owed his wife everything, so he could play along for now.

Back in Verona, Draco and Hermione’s Sunday had flown by and when the evening came, Hermione was saddened with the fact that Draco had chosen to leave and return to England. Scorpius had an appointment with his Pediatric Healer the next day and Draco thought it would be better if Scorpius slept in his own bed, but he promised to return on Tuesday with the reminder for her to wear her necklace and contact him if anything out of the ordinary occurred.

She had promised, and then kissed Scorpius goodbye. The little tyke clinging to her and not wanting to leave. Hermione had been so close to just saying ‘screw it’ and returning to Surrey with Draco, but he hadn’t invited her and she didn’t want to assume anything despite what had occurred last night and earlier that day.

Draco had kissed her thoroughly, his eyes alight with so many emotions before his mask came back down as he moved back through the floo and called out Blaise’s address. Hermione stood there, staring into the floo and felt her heart drop into her stomach as she took a deep breath, trying to get her emotions under control.

She turned around and started to walk back into the kitchen when her floo went off suddenly, startling her. She turned back around to see Draco coming back through the fireplace, and straight towards her. He lifted her up into his embrace and kissed her with purpose, and all she could do was hold him to her and respond back with equal ardor.

After a few moments he broke away and said emotively, “Come home with me. With us.”

“Where’s Scorpius?”

Draco grinned. “With Pansy and Blaise. Now answer the question, witch.”

Hermione stared into Draco’s slate grey eyes that were bound and determined to get his way and she realized in this moment that she didn’t have it in her to fight this, whatever this was.

“Okay.”

“Good, pack some clothes and let Maria know you’re going to be out of town for a while.”

“You’re very bossy, Malfoy.”

“And?”

“Just stating the facts. Give me twenty minutes to get a few things packed, call Maria and I’ll meet you at Blaise’s.”

Draco nodded. “Twenty minutes, Mine. Not a minute longer.”

She couldn’t help but giggle at how playful Draco’s expression was, but she just kissed him and then pushed him back towards the floo.

“The sooner you get back, Malfoy, the faster I get packed. Now go!”

“Yes, witch. I’ll see you soon.”

With a wink, Draco was gone and Hermione felt her face splitting into the widest grin of her life.

She was finally going home.

Chapter Text

When Draco returned to Blaise’s, he paced the entire time in the floo room while his best friend watched in amusement. Pansy had taken Scorpius into the kitchen so Zeppo could give him some dessert.

Exactly twenty minutes on the dot, Blaise’s floo lit up and out walked his witch with a small beaded bag in her hands and nothing else. Draco’s brow lifted as he walked over and reached for the small bag.

“I thought you were going to pack a few things?”

Hermione grinned. “I did.”

Draco stared down at her bag with a disbelieving look. “Granger, do I need to go back to your apartment and pack for you?”

Hermione opened her bag and put her hand all the way inside it before she pulled out a few items and then put them back inside, not missing the looks of appreciation from both Draco and Blaise.

“Undetectable Extension Charm.”

“Aren’t those illegal?”

“Are they?” She quipped with a smirk and Draco couldn’t help the pleased chuckle from escaping his lips.

“How in the world were you not sorted into Slytherin, witch?”

“Muggle-born.” She said, pointing to herself.

“Yes, you are.” Draco grinned, as he pulled her flush with himself and went to lower his lips to hers while Blaise cleared his throat.

“Perhaps one of you might want to get Scorpius?”

Hermione blushed, while Draco just rolled his eyes at his best mate. “Fine. I’ll be right back.”

When Draco left, Blaise just smirked at the curly haired witch. “You look happy.”

“I suppose I am.”

“He told you about his parents?”

“Yes. I’m not scared of Lucius Malfoy.”

“Lucius isn’t the one you’ll need to watch out for.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in understanding. “Does her love for Draco outweigh her bigoted nature?”

Blaise thought about it for a second before he said, “I honestly don’t know. I’d like to say ‘yes’ but one never truly knows with Narcissa. Remember, she lied to the Dark Lord’s face and she didn’t bat an eye in doing so, all to get back to her son. She will be the one you’ll need to win over. Draco holds no love for his Father, but his Mother is another issue entirely.”

Hermione sighed softly, grateful for Blaise’s willingness to share information.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Good. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Drake this happy.”

“That’s good to know.”

At that moment, Draco walked back into the room with Scorpius, who instantly held his arms out for Hermione when he noticed her.

Mimi.” The little boy said insistently, and Hermione could see the remnants of tear stains streaked down his cheeks.

“Was he crying?” She whispered to Draco, who sighed and nodded.

“He didn’t want to leave you. We both didn’t.”

His expression softened as he cupped his son’s head that was laying on Hermione’s shoulder whilst he sucked his thumb. Hermione’s gaze moved over to Blaise and Pansy, who had joined them.

“Thank you both for inviting me into your home. I do apologize for leaving here so abruptly Friday evening, without saying a proper goodbye.”

“That’s alright, Granger,” Pansy quipped, “dear Draco has that affect on some people.”

Draco glared at his friend, who just blew him a kiss while Hermione giggled softly before placing a gentle kiss on Scorpius’ head.

“We should get Scorpius home.” Draco said imperiously, leading both his son and his witch back towards the floo. He explained to Hermione how to access his home and then called out his address. After a moment, Hermione moved into the floo, but she was stopped by Pansy.

“He’s crazy about you, Granger. He always has been. Don’t hurt him.”

Hermione was a bit taken aback by Pansy’s forthrightness, but she nodded in an unspoken understanding before she called out Draco’s address and was whisked away back to England and her old life.

When she entered Draco’s home, she was surprised with how cozy it seemed upon first inspection. The floo room looked more like a small sitting room with leather couches and tapestries kissed with warm rich colors of browns, dark greens and cream. Draco enveloped her into his embrace and kissed her deeply before leading her with his hand at the small of her back through his home.

He pointed out several rooms on the main floor. A formal dining room, a solarium, a small library which he promised to show her later, the kitchen and a living room. When he moved them towards the staircase, he led her down the hall to the right which housed a bathroom, a guest bedroom and a playroom filled with toys and bookshelves for Scorpius. When he opened the last door on the right, Hermione’s face broke out into a wide grin as she took in the large bedroom that was obviously Scorpius’. It had a beautiful day crib with a canopy, a rocking chair, a changing table, several dressers as well as a large bay window with a seat for two. There were some plushies as well as a few books. Upon closer inspection she smiled to note that they were all her books and it seemed that they were truly Scorp’s favorites.

Another door led into a well appointed bathroom and Draco immediately filled the tub with warm water and soapy bubbles before he reached out for his son to get him cleaned up, but Scorpius wasn’t quite happy with the idea. Hermione went to leave, but Scorpius called for her and told her, ‘Mimi tay!’

Draco had laughed at how imperious his son sounded in his demand, while Hermione knelt down to the little boy’s level and said kindly, “Can you say please?”

Scorpius scrunched his nose, while Draco tried to hide his laughter behind his hand. Scorpius seemed to be contemplating the request before he said, “Mimi tay, pwease.”

“I’d be happy to stay, Scorpius.”

That seemed to do the trick because there were no more struggling to get Scorpius into his bath. Both Draco and Hermione took turns washing Scorpius, and after doing some magic with the bubbles which the youngster thought amazing, judging by his happy squeals of excitement and chirps of ‘more, more’ it was finally time to dry off and get ready for bed.

Hermione grabbed a towel and Draco dried off his boy, then went into his room to get a set of jammies for bedtime. Once Scorpius was settled, Hermione rocked him while she read his favorite book. She was half way through it when she looked down and saw that Scorpius was fast asleep. Draco came over and lifted him up and gently placed him into his crib, warding the immediate area to let him know when Scorpius woke up.

They moved out of the room together and down the hall to Draco’s room at the other end. When they entered, Hermione gasped at how large and beautiful Draco’s room was.

The colors were neutral and showed no house preference, which she thought interesting. The bed was the largest king size bed she’d ever seen in her entire life. There was a desk by the window, a beautiful Edwardian chaise lounge near the book shelf and a fireplace for warmth, that had a fur rug of some kind in front of it.

When she turned around, her gaze caught Draco’s and he was watching her closely.

“So what do you think?”

“It’s not what I expected.”

“What, were you expecting everything to be in green and silver?”

“Something like that.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Mine.”

Hermione moved over into Draco’s space and gazed up into his grey eyes that were heated with desire.

“You definitely don’t disappoint, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Oh really?”

Moving her hands up his broad chest, Hermione gripped her hands into Draco’s hair as she molded her body with his. She could feel the stirrings of his arousal pressed against her belly.

“Yes, really.”

Draco’s arm moved around her body and then lifted her up into his embrace as he moved with purpose over to the bed.

“Are you still sore?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Hmmmm,” Draco hummed as he started removing her clothes piece by piece until she was bared before him in just her knickers and nothing else. His gaze was blazing as he moved over her and ran his hands down her body slowly, before pulling his wand out and casting the contraceptive charm, “Perhaps we should start out slowly tonight.”

“What did you have in mind?”

Draco’s body moved down the bed as he gently kissed and nibbled down her neck, to her chest before taking a nipple into his mouth and swirling it with his tongue. He smirked when he felt Hermione grip onto his hair and hold him to her chest while he took his time indulging.

As he slowly worked his way down towards her knickers, licking and biting a bit more earnestly, he felt her breath hitch as he slowly pulled her knickers down her legs before spreading her open to his hungry gaze.

“Draco, what are you doing?”

“Something I didn’t get to do last night.”

His grin was sinful before he used his fingers and then his tongue was there, and Hermione felt like her body was going to burst into flames as he continued to torment her with his attentions. She had never done this before, and as she gripped Draco’s head and felt him groan against her, she whimpered and pleaded for him to make her come.

Draco was in heaven. He hadn’t gotten around to doing this last night, more interested in other carnal pursuits than taking his time and enjoying the ride. But tonight, he fully intended to lavish as much attention on his witch as she could handle. She smelled and tasted divine and Draco realized he could die a very happy wizard buried between her thighs. Her sighs, moans, squeals and screams were music to his ears. It was a good thing his room had a semi-permanent silencing charm in place lest Scorpius be woken up to the sounds of Hermione’s voice calling out Draco’s name as she came again and again.

After her third orgasm, Draco moved up the bed and kissed his witch, pleased that she didn’t shy away from her own essence on his tongue and lips. He gently pushed into her, and felt her muscles clench at first, before her body relaxed and allowed him inside.

Salazar!

But she was perfect.

When his gaze locked with bright amber eyes staring up at him with such trust, Draco felt his heart literally stop for a split second before he got himself under control and began to move in earnest. He continued to kiss her breathless until he felt her body tense up preparing itself for one final release. When her orgasm was imminent, he whispered huskily, “Come for me, Mine...let me feel you.”

Hermione arched her body, her nails digging into Draco’s back as she moaned out his name as she let go, and Draco’s release followed immediately, unable to hold back. He collapsed into her waiting arms and he couldn’t help the smile that overtook his face as he breathed his Mine in and felt her soothing strokes through his hair and down his back.

After a few moments, he moved up slightly and grinned down at warm amber eyes that were alight with happiness.

“You’re amazing.” He whispered truthfully.

“So are you.”

“Would you like to take a bath?”

Hermione smirked playfully as she nodded once.

“Only if you promise to get me dirty again later.”

Draco couldn’t help the deep chuckle that fell from his lips before he said, “Oh, I plan on it, Mine. Don’t you worry about that. You’ll be filthy by the time I’m done with you tonight.”

Hermione’s giggles were balms to his soul as he lifted her up bridal style and took her into his ensuite. Hopefully this night would be the start of many more nights to come just like this.

Draco had to admit he was very, very pleased with that thought.

Chapter Text

When dawn broke through his window, Draco slowly awakened to the feel of a soft body pressed against him and he smiled in contentment. Last night had been even more perfect than the night before and he had fallen asleep for the first time ever completely at peace, knowing he’d finally obtained everything his heart desired. He had his witch in his bed, something he’d never thought would happen in a million years...yet here she was, breathing softly and spooned up against him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

He had Scorpius, who clearly wasn’t shy about letting his feelings be known where Hermione was concerned. He had been demanding, but rather cute about it and Draco knew on some level that it was because of his son that Hermione’s heart had softened towards him.

Today would be interesting. Draco knew that Scorpius would insist that his Mimi come with them to the Healer, and Draco had to admit, as much as he wanted to shout from the rooftops about his relationship with Hermione, he knew that she might not be fully ready to face her past. He also knew his little witch wasn’t scared of anyone or anything, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be the center of attention. There was no doubt if she attended this appointment with he and Scorp that word would get out quickly of her returned status to London. He wasn’t exactly sure how to broach the subject with her.

He gripped her a bit more snugly into his embrace and heard her hum of approval, causing him to grin slightly before placing soft kisses onto her neck and shoulder. Other parts of him were awake as well as he grounded his erection into his witch’s backside, letting her feel just how much she affected him.

“Good morning.” He whispered into her ear.

“It is.”

Hermione stretched and arched her body into the hardened one behind her, feeling Draco’s arms tighten even more before he started kissing her neck in earnest.

“How do you feel?”

Reaching her hand behind her and into Draco’s hair, Hermione hummed in pleasure.

Needy.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Well, we cant have that now, can we?”

Hermione shook her head and then gasped as she felt Draco’s fingers move down her body until they reached exactly where she wanted them. He groaned at how ready she was and wasted no time lifting her outer leg and joining them together.

Morning sex had always been Draco’s secret pleasure and with his Mine, he knew he’d become addicted to seeing her like this every morning. It didn’t take either of them very long to find their mutual completion and then Draco grabbed his wand to cast another contraceptive charm.

“I could get very used to this every morning.” He murmured deeply into her ear.

Hermione pulled away slightly, moaning a bit as their bodies separated before rolling over and cuddling into Draco’s side. She placed her chin on his chest as she stared up into Draco’s face which was completely open and free.

“You don’t think this is too sudden?”

Draco’s grey eyes met hers as he shook his head. “No. I suppose some might view it that way, but tell me this doesn’t feel right?”

Hermione thought for a moment before she sighed in defeat.

“I know. I’m usually far more logical and pragmatic than to allow my emotions to rule my decision making process, but with you it seems to have taken a permanent holiday.”

“And is that a bad thing?”

“No. Just unexpected.” Hermione laid her head back on Draco’s chest as she caressed his chest a bit absentmindedly before speaking again. “How are we going to go about this?”

“You mean officially?”

Hermione nodded, not looking up as she was still somewhat uncertain.

Draco however, wasn’t going to allow her to have this conversation without him seeing her expression. He sat both of them up in bed and turned to face her.

“How would you like to do this?”

“I don’t understand.”

Draco sighed. “Mine, we both know that once word gets out you’ve returned to England, the Wizarding Press is going to have a field day trying to get their story. I have no issue being seen on your arm, and I couldn’t care less what the public at large thinks of our union only inasmuch as I’m concerned about you. I know how you feel about the press and your privacy. Merlin, witch! You created your own charm to hide your identity from the rest of the world.”

“I know and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“And now?”

“I don’t want you to regret this.”

Draco shook his head in disgust that his witch could ever think something so ludicrous.

“If anything, you may come to regret having me by your side. I’m still fairly hated by most of the Wizarding World. Many of the Purebloods who supported the Dark Lord, but didn’t do it openly now see my family as blood traitors. My Mother had several death threats made against her right after the war. But many people still fear the Malfoy’s and the Black’s, so they’ve left my parents alone. I’ve been out with Scorpius a few times in public, and when Astoria died there was some initial sympathy but it didn’t last very long. People have long memories and can be quite cruel.”

“To Scorpius? He’s just a baby!”

“Yes, but he’s a Malfoy and my son. There are some stains that can’t be undone.”

Hermione shook her head in anger.

“You were a teenager, Draco.”

“True, but that doesn’t matter to many people and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. I made the choice, the only one I thought available to me but I did it anyway. Do I regret it? Much of it I do, but my Mother survived and that was all I wanted in the end. Now, all I want is for you, Scorpius and I to be a family and for it to be okay. No matter what happens, I’m not going anywhere.”

“Neither am I,” Hermione admitted softly, “I can’t explain this, and I’m not sure there’s even a reason to. But I do know that this here with you and Scorpius is the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I won’t allow people’s prejudices and their pettiness to ruin this. Don’t ever think for a second that I’ll regret choosing this and don’t try and walk away to protect me.”

Draco smirked at how clever his little witch was.

“I promise.”

At that moment Draco’s wand vibrated and they both smiled to each other.

“Get dressed, and I’ll take care of Scorpius. Do you want to go with us today to the Healer?”

“Do you think Scorpius is going to make a fuss if I don’t?”

Draco smirked and nodded, knowing his son well enough to know he’d likely do that very thing.

“Well, then I guess I’m coming with you both.”

Draco leant over and kissed his Mine, before pulling back and getting out of bed to grab some clothes. When he looked over his shoulder, he smirked at the lustful expression on Hermione’s face as she openly stared as him.

“If you keep looking at me like that, witch!  We are never going to leave this bedroom.”

She blushed, but her eyes were sparkling with mischievousness as she considered him before moving out of their bed and sauntering over, inwardly pleased when she saw Draco’s gaze roam down her body greedily.

When she reached him, she pulled him down for a quick kiss and then whispered into his ear, “You know,” her hand gripped his member through his trousers and felt it stiffen immediately, “I haven’t had the pleasure of ever enjoying the act of fellatio. Perhaps that might be something we can try soon?”

Draco groaned as he gripped her head and kissed her fiercely before pulling back with an unhappy sound when his wand vibrated again.

“Minx,” He growled, “go get showered and dressed now.”

“Yes, Sir.” She grinned with a wink and Draco watched as his witch moved sinuously into their ensuite, and it took every ounce of control for him not to follow her. He finished buttoning his shirt before moving down the hall to greet his son for the day.

When he walked into Scorp’s room, his little munchkin was standing up in his day crib with a happy grin.

“Daddy!”

He bounced up and down impatiently, and Draco chuckled as he gathered his son into his embrace and checked to see if he was still dry, which he was thankfully.

“Come on, champ, lets get you ready for today.”

“Tay.” He chirped happily while Draco headed into Scorpius’ ensuite to help his son get ready for the morning.

When they were settled, Draco set Scorpius down and laughed as his little boy ran down the hall with a happy squeal, calling out for his ‘Mimi.’

Hermione walked out of Draco’s room with a big grin, and scooped Scorpius up into her embrace, showering him with kisses while the little tyke just giggled and said, ‘gain, ‘gain!’

She then lifted him up and blew rasberries on his belly, eliciting a happy squeal before she settled him into her embrace.

“Hungry?”

“Jes!”

“Well, let’s see what we can make for you this morning.”

“Tay.”

Draco followed his witch and son down to the kitchen and then took Scorpius while Hermione familiarized herself with where everything was. It wasn’t too long before she had made a simple breakfast of eggs, toast, rashers and fresh fruit.

As they sat down to eat, Hermione decided to inquire about something that she was curious about.

“You don’t have a House Elf?”

Draco grinned before he took a bite of his toast, and then washed it down with a sip of Earl Grey.

“I do actually. Her name is Mippy and she’s around here somewhere.”

There was a sudden ‘pop’ and then a tiny house elf with big ears and blue eyes wearing a pink pillow case said, “Youz called Master?”

“Hello, Mippy. I’d like to introduce you to Miss Hermione Granger.”

The elf’s large bulbous eyes fixated on Hermione, who smiled kindly at the little elf.

“Hello, Mippy.”

“Youz be the new Mistress?”

Hermione’s face blushed and Draco chuckled as he said softly, “That’s the plan, Mippy.”

Mippy’s ears flapped a bit as she nodded. “Do youz need me forz anything else, Master?”

“No, Mippy.  We are leaving soon to take Scorpius to the Healer. I know today is your day off so enjoy.”

“Yes, Master.” And then Mippy popped away, and Hermione turned to Draco and gave him a questioning look.

“Day off?”

“Mmmhmm,” Draco admitted with a playful smirk, “Mippy is a paid house elf and gets four galleons a week plus a day off of her choosing every week.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in shock as she stared at Draco, wondering what in the name of Merlin was happening.

“You pay your House Elf?”

“Yes, Mine, I do. Apparently, there was this witch in school who decided to start a club our fifth year. I think it was called SPEW....anyway, after Dobby was killed, I decided that my views on House Elves could do with a bit of updating. They aren’t inclined to receive pay, or days off but I was able to figure out a way for Mippy to accept it. She’s rather happy to be here and Scorpius loves her as much as he loves Zeppo.”

“Mwppy is my elf.” Scorpius said proudly and Hermione could only smile in understanding. When her gaze moved to Draco, he was watching her with a pleased grin on his face.

“You were just waiting for this moment, weren’t you?”

Draco laughed which was followed by Scorpius, who was just enjoying the moment for what it was.

“Can you blame me?”

“No, I suppose not.”

Hermione stood up and brought the dishes to the sink, feeling a tinge of embarrassment which Draco sensed as he moved behind her and enveloped her into his embrace, nipping playfully on her neck.

“Don’t be upset.” He whispered coaxingly into her ear.

“I’m not,” she admitted, “it’s just you keep disarming me with how much you’ve changed. It’s going to take me some time to come to terms with it all.”

“That’s understandable, but we should probably get going. Scorpius’ appointment is soon and I need to take a quick shower.”

Hermione turned and placed a kiss on Draco’s lips, which he deepened instantly before pulling away with a sigh.

“Go take a shower, Draco and I’ll watch Scorpius and clean up in here.”

“You’re sure you’re ready for this?”

“I’m sure, I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t.”

Draco nodded before he moved out of the kitchen and headed back upstairs to get ready for the day. He just hoped that whatever came their way, he and Hermione would find a way to work through it together.

Chapter Text

As they made their way into the main floo area of St. Mungo’s, Draco was relieved when he noted that the reception area was empty. The only person working the counter was an elderly witch he’d seen before who’s eyesight wasn’t terribly accurate, so he’d figured they’d be fine for the moment. He checked Scorpius in and they made their way to the Pediatric wing and so far hadn’t seen anyone yet.

While they were sitting in the waiting area, Scorpius was happily sitting in Hermione’s lap while she quietly read his favorite book to him. It wasn’t too long before they were called back to the Healer’s office, but that was when their luck ran out. The Medi-witch who called out Scorpius’ name was none other than Cho Chang.

Draco didn’t remember seeing her here before.

Cho’s expression was stunned as she noticed who was holding Scorpius, but apparently her professionalism was sufficient enough for her not to comment on it until they moved into a private room.

“Hello, Mr. Malfoy. I have a few forms that Healer Urquart wanted me to ask you to fill out, just basic information since the last time you were here.”

Draco nodded and took the forms, looking them over as he answered the questions quickly, noticing Cho staring at Granger, while his witch was more interested in attending to Scorpius. He had to give his Mine credit; she wasn’t giving the other witch an opening to even so much as ask a question, and it would be considered unprofessional for Chang to insinuate anything at this point.

When he was done, he handed the paperwork back to the Medi-witch and then Chang asked if she could take some measurements on Scorpius, who didn’t seem all that interested in being cooperative.

“I don’t wanna!”

“Scorpius,” Hermione whispered soothingly into his ear, “Miss Chang is just going to get your weight and height. Once we get this done, we can go do something fun, okay?”

“Wike what?” Scorpius whispered, as he glared at the other witch.

“Well, what would you like to do?”

Scorpius thought for a minute and then said, “We go to park?”

Hermione’s gaze met with Draco’s, and he smiled and nodded.

“That’s a very good idea.” Hermione said kindly. “So, do you think you can be a big boy and let Miss Chang do her job?”

Scorpius scrunched his face in that way that Hermione was beginning to realize was his thinking face before he nodded and allowed Hermione to maneuver him to where Cho needed him to go. After a few moments, Cho finished her scans and then went to get the Healer, clearly dying to say something but one look from Draco had her scurrying from the room.

A few moments later, Healer Urquart walked into the room and his eyes widened too, as he noticed Hermione sitting there holding Scorpius in her lap.

“Mr. Malfoy and Scorpius. How are we doing today?”

“He’s doing very well, Healer Urquart.” Draco stated firmly and the Healer nodded as he did his very best to remain professional.

“So it looks like Scorpius is growing well and his weight is right where it should be. Has he been having any more issues with ear infections?”

“No, not in the past six months.”

“That’s good. Sometimes children outgrow them.”

Draco nodded as the Healer came over and Hermione sat Scorpius down on the exam table, stepping aside but Scorpius didn’t seem to like that at all as he said loudly, “Mimi, tay!”

Hermione shook her head at the young boy and said firmly, “What did we talk about saying please?”

Scorpius’ lower lip wobbled but he managed to remember his manners as he said in a more conciliatory voice, “Pwease.”

“I’m not going anywhere. But the Healer needs to check you too, okay?”

“Tay.” He pouted and Draco ruffled his son’s hair.

“We will be done soon, Champ.”

It didn’t take long for the Healer to check Scorpius over and pronounce him in perfect health. He told Draco that Scorpius would be due back in six months, and to schedule an appointment with his secretary on the way out. Before he left the office, the Healer turned to Hermione and said, “It’s good to see you back home, Miss Granger.”

Hermione’s expression was placid as she nodded and thanked the man kindly before picking Scorpius back up into her embrace and following Draco out of the office.

As they made their way over to the secretary, the young woman whom Draco didn’t recognize, made Scorpius’ next appointment and was also looking between him and Hermione as if she couldn’t believe her eyes. Draco took the appointment parchment with a nod of thanks before he moved back to Hermione’s side, placing his hand at the small of her back and leading his family back outside towards the floo’s.

When they were in the main hallway, Draco noticed it was much busier than before and now people were openly staring at the three of them. Most in shock, some in awe but there were a few expressions of outrage and disgust too. He glanced down at his Mine, who was stoically ignoring all the increased stares as she pulled Scorpius against her a bit more firmly.

They had almost made it to the floo, when a panicked voice called out Hermione’s name.

Draco felt her stiffen in clear recognition of the person who was calling for her, but she didn’t stop her progress as she looked up at him and shook her head slightly, letting him know she had no intention of stopping. He nodded once and then they were in the floo together, and as they flashed away, Draco caught sight of startled green eyes that were desperate as the wizard in question called out Hermione’s name one final time.

When they got back home, Draco locked down his floo and reset his wards, before he gently took Scorpius from Hermione’s shaking arms and set him down on the rug, then enveloped his witch into his embrace. He could feel her tremors of adrenaline, as she’d not anticipated running into Harry Potter on her first foray back into London.

“Mine, are you alright?”

After a couple deep breaths she tilted her head up and then ran a hand through his hair, clearly sensing his own anxiety.

“I’m fine, but I need to send a message to Kingsley and let him know I’m back before the press gets wind of this.”

Draco nodded and moved away, picking up Scorpius who was watching them both with a serious expression.

“Can Kings come here?”

Draco just nodded dumbly, more at the fact that Hermione was so intimately familiar with the Minister of Magic.

She waved her wand silently and her patronus burst forth swarming around he and Scorpius, causing his son to giggle and clap his hands as the otter touching noses before moving back to Hermione and settling on her shoulder.

“Kingsley, I am here in England at Draco Malfoy’s home outside Surrey. Please come as soon as you’re able, we need to talk.”

The otter swarmed away and Draco didn’t have long to wait until a lynx patronus burst into his home and the deep voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt filled the room.

“Open the Floo, I’ll be there immediately.”

Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped through the floo not even a minute later, dressed in colorful Wizarding robes, looking every inch the Minister of Magic except for the wide smile that split over his face as he took in the young witch who was beaming at him with a similar expression.

“Hermione! It is good to see you.”

Hermione went over and allowed herself to be enveloped into a bear hug by the Minister, and Draco just stood there completely dumbfounded at how informal and genuine the affection was between the two.

“It’s good to see you too, Kings.”

“When did you get back?”

“Yesterday actually.” Hermione then gestured to Draco. “I’m sure you remember, Draco Malfoy.”

Kingsley’s expression darkened momentarily before he nodded once.

“I do. Might I ask why you’re with, Mr. Malfoy?”

It was right then that Scorpius walked over and pulled on Hermione’s dress robes and said loudly, “Mimi, up up!”

Hermione giggled and lifted Scorpius into her embrace, while the little tyke clung onto her as he stared at the large black man who was trying very hard not to grin at the picture in front of him.

Who dat?” Scorpius asked in his best impression of Lucius Malfoy, and Kingsley just chuckled at the small boy.

“I’m Kingsley Shacklebolt, young man. And who are you?”

“I’s Scrpius.”

Hermione smiled at Scorpius trying to say his name and her eyes twinkled with mirth.

“Yes, this is Scorpius Malfoy. He’s Draco’s son, as I’m sure you’ve guessed.”

Kingsley nodded as he watched the young boy cling to the curly-haired witch, but what was even more surprising was the openly besotted way the Malfoy Heir was staring at Hermione. It was clear that the two of them were on more than just friendly terms.

“I received word about an hour ago that you’d been spotted at St. Mungo’s. Harry was in my office with me when the owl came through and I’m afraid I wasn’t able to stop him from tracking you down. I’m assuming he found you?”

“More or less, but we didn’t speak. I didn’t think having a conversation in the middle of St. Mungo’s was a good idea, especially with Scorpius there.”

“Probably wise,” Kingsley admitted before his gaze moved back to the tall blonde wizard. “Might I inquire as to the nature of your relationship with Miss Granger, Mr. Malfoy?”

Hermione nodded at Draco and he smiled back at her genuinely before answering.

“Hermione and I are romantically involved. I met her again in Italy, and she agreed to come back here with Scorpius and myself. We both understand that there will be questions about our relationship, but I have no intentions of walking away and neither does she.”

“And your parents?”

“They know.”

Kingsley’s eyes widened as he nodded thoughtfully.

“And their reaction?”

“Undetermined. Hermione is wearing a necklace with Malfoy protection charms that I gave to her recently.”

Kingsley coughed out in shock, as he stared at the young witch who seemed completely calm and accepting of this situation.

“You’re betrothed?”

“Not as such, but yes...that is where this is headed.” Draco answered for them both.

“Hermione?” Kingsley asked with concern, “Are you sure about this?”

Holding Scorpius to her tightly, she nodded. “I am. Draco and I have discussed this and we are aware people will have their opinions. I do have an idea on how to handle this, but I’ll need your permission to allow me to do so however I deem appropriate.”

Kingsley stared at the witch and then groaned out unhappily.

“Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this plan?”

“Because you know me and what I’m capable of?”

“You’re not going to blackmail, curse or permanently maim anyone, are you?”

“I make no promises.” Hermione admitted with a playful grin before she added, “I could always disappear again?”

“No! No, that’s not necessary. Merlin, just don’t tell me, alright?”

“Plausible deniability?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“You’ll take care of Harry and Ron?”

Kingsley sighed and then nodded reluctantly. “I’ll see what I can do about Ron and the Weasley’s. You’re on your own with Harry.”

“Fine, I suppose we have a deal?”

“Yes. I will talk to you soon.” Kingsley then held out his hand to Draco who shook it firmly, not quite understanding what just happened but smart enough to recognized a parlay for what it was. “I wish you the very best in handling your witch, Mr. Malfoy. Just know if you step out of line, I’ll look the other way as she buries you with a smile upon my face.”

Draco chuckled deeply. “Does that go for my Father as well?”

Kingsley lifted an eyebrow and smirked. “I just might help her under those circumstances.”

“Good to know, I’ll probably join you both.”

Kingsley chuckled and clasped Draco on the shoulder in solidarity, before giving Hermione another hug goodbye.

Their floo flashed, and the Minister of Magic was gone.

Hermione turned to Draco, who was smirking wickedly at her. “Why is the Minister of Magic willing to look the other way as you blackmail, curse or maim?”

“Because he adores me?” Hermione replied innocently and Draco just chuckled as he came over and wrapped his arm around her waist.

“Hmmm, I can understand that sentiment.”

“Really?”

“Definitely.” Draco replied cheekily. “But we did promise this little one we’d take him to the park.”

“Muggle Park?”

“Probably a good idea.”

Hermione leant up and kissed Draco sweetly, and he deepened it instantly before Scorpius giggled at them, patting Draco’s face and trying to push him away.

“Mimi, mine!”

Both Draco and Hermione laughed at the pouty look upon Scorpius’ face. Draco tapped his son’s nose and shook his head.

“You need to share Mimi with Daddy, Scorpius.”

Why?”

“Because she belongs to both of us.” Draco said firmly and noticed Hermione biting her lip trying not to laugh out loud.

Scorpius turned his big grey eyes on her and said in a shaky voice, “Reawy?”

“Yes, really.” Hermione gave him a gentle kiss on his forehead. “Is it okay if you share me with Daddy?”

His face scrunched for a moment before he sighed and said, “Tay.”

“Thanks, champ.” Draco said as he grabbed his son and started to tickle him, chuckling as Scorpius said, “Daddy, top!”

“Not a chance buddy. You ready to go to the park?”

“Jes! Park!”

“Is there a particular area you’ve taken Scorpius to before?”

Draco nodded as he moved into the kitchen and pulled out a small picnic basket from under the counter. He filled it will some fresh fruit, bread, cheese and a thermos of juice as well as a bottle of wine.

“There’s a regional park not too far from here, about a ten minute walk. Do you want to change into something a bit more comfortable?”

“That’s probably not a bad idea.” Hermione waved her wand and transfigured her clothes into something a bit more casual. The sundress she was now sporting fell to just above her knees with ballet flats and a simple cardigan that had Draco smiling in appreciation.

“You look beautiful, Mine.”

“Thank you, Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco went to take Scorpius toddler pram out of the closet and placed the picnic basket on the bottom of the pram before putting Scorpius into his seat and buckling him in. They then headed outside for the park, enjoying the sunny day and discussing what to expect come tomorrow.

Chapter Text

While they were enjoying a quiet afternoon together, elsewhere the proverbial shit was hitting the fan as word spread like wildfire throughout the magical community that Muggleborn Hermione Granger, Gryffindor’s Golden Girl had been spotted at St. Mungo’s with none other than former Slytherin Death Eater and Pureblood, Draco Malfoy. Harry had been disbelieving at first when he’d heard that Hermione had returned, but when he’d seen her with Malfoy, he simply couldn’t believe his eyes.

It was clear that Hermione had heard him calling out her name, but she hadn’t stopped nor given any indication that she was going to as she floo’d away with Malfoy, holding his son tightly in her arms. Harry was stunned still as he watched the small group disappear, wondering just how in the name of Godric, Draco Malfoy not only found his best friend, but managed to get her to forgive him for all the years of torment he’d put her through.

When he’d turned around in the hallway, Harry noticed many people staring at him and all their faces registered the same shock and confusion he knew his must’ve been showing. Of all the ways he’d imagined finding Hermione and seeing her again, this scenario hadn’t even registered as a possibility. Was she imperiused? Harry shook his head clear of that thought. Draco Malfoy was many things, but he did have a son now and as much as Harry loathed the wizard, he had heard enough to know that Malfoy was a good father to his son, despite raising him alone.

Did Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy know that their only son and Heir was consorting with a Muggleborn witch? And just how long ago had this thing with Malfoy started? Based on what he’d seen this morning, Malfoy’s son was very comfortable with Hermione and she had been fiercely protective of the tot, not stopping at all when he’d called for her.

And where had she been all this time?

All these thoughts and more raged through his mind on an endless loop as he made his way back through the Ministry and into the Auror Department where he was greeted by Seamus and Dean, who were both sitting by his office waiting for him to return.

“Was it Mione?” Seamus asked with interest, noticing how stressed Harry looked.

“It was her, and she was with Malfoy.”

“Blimey, mate! How in Godric’s name did that happen?”

“Don’t know. I called after her when I saw her and she didn’t stop. She was holding Malfoy’s kid and they made it to the floo before I could reach them.”

“You don’t think she’s with Malfoy, do you?” Dean asked with a shake of his head.

“Dunno,” Harry admitted unhappily, “but if I had to take a guess, I’d say they’re together.”

“Shite!” Seamus growled. “Makes no sense. How in Merlin’s name did Mione end up with that tosser? She’d never choose to be with Malfoy after everything he did to her at Hogwarts.”

“You wouldn’t think so, but we haven’t seen Hermione in over three years. A lot can change in three years.” Harry offered with a grimace.

He definitely didn’t know what to think about this new information.

“What do you think Ron’s gonna do when he finds out?” Dean wondered as he eyed the rest of the Aurors who were in the bullpen, and they were all whispering to themselves.

Word traveled fast in the Ministry.

Merlin!

By the morning it’d be all over the Prophet too.

Harry groaned as he pulled his hands through his hair.

“He’s going to lose it.”

Seamus nodded. “Especially since it’s Malfoy.”

“I just don’t get why Ron would care,” Dean admitted with a shrug, “He dumped Mione rather brutally.”

“And the shit storm that followed made him look like a jilt.” Harry finished with a snarl. “Which he was. Fucking tosser.”

It was common knowledge that Harry still hadn’t forgiven Ron for what had happened, especially after Hermione had disappeared. Harry had blamed himself just as much as he’d blamed Ron, but that didn’t mean he planned on forgiving his former best mate anytime soon.

“Do you think someone should tell him before it hits the paper tomorrow morning.”

“What do you mean tomorrow morning?” Harry scowled. “There will likely be an evening edition later with all the gory details, dredging up the past exploits of the war and all our parts in it. If I know Rita Skeeter, she’s going to be particularly vicious about Hermione being with Malfoy. Either calling her a gold digger, or worse....a Death Eater’s whore.”

“You don’t think Skeeter would really call Mione that, do you Harry?”

“I don’t know, Dean, but I know there’s a lot of bad blood between Hermione and Skeeter, so I wouldn’t put it past the reporter to smear Hermione.”

“Well, she tried that once and it backfired on her. Maybe she learnt her lesson and won’t try it again?”

“Doubtful.” Harry said as he moved into his office with his two friends following him. “Besides, it’s not like Malfoy is exactly popular within the magical community these days.”

“For good reason.” Seamus piped in with a scoff. “But even I feel sorry for the wizard after losing his wife the way he did.”

Harry just shook his head in disgust.

“Everyone knows the story behind that situation and how Malfoy’s father practically forced the marriage because of Astoria’s illness. Why would Malfoy have agreed to something like that if he still wasn’t the same selfish git he always was?”

“Who knows, Harry, but I really don’t think Mione would be involved with Malfoy if he was still the same bigoted prat he was in school. Blimey, the Malfoy from Hogwarts never would’ve given Mione the time of day.”

Harry nodded and sat back in his chair. “That’s my point exactly, Seamus.  Why in the world would Draco Malfoy, all of a sudden, do a complete turn around? He was a bigoted git, we all saw and heard the hateful things he said to Hermione. So why is he with her? What is he hoping to gain from it? Is he using her?”

Both wizards shrugged in uncertainty, clearly unsure how to respond.

“Do we know where Malfoy lives these days?”

“No, but Nott might know.” Dean offered helpfully and Harry nodded in agreement before standing back up and heading out of his office in search of Theodore Nott.

“Keep me appraised of what is going on. I’m going to locate Nott and see if I can get some information from him.”

Both Dean and Seamus promised to held down the fort and Harry headed down to where Theodore Nott’s office was located.

Luckily, it didn’t take him long to find the reclusive wizard, who just happened to be in his office with his fiancée, Daphne Greengrass. Harry knocked on the doorframe and Nott’s eyes widened when he noticed him standing there.

“Potter, what do we owe the pleasure of this unexpected visit.”

“I need to know if either of you know where Draco Malfoy is living currently.”

Theo leveled the Chosen One with a suspicious glare.

“And why would you need to know that?”

Harry’s gaze moved from Nott’s to Daphne Greengrass, who was considering him with a critical expression.

“It’s personal, Nott.”

“You don’t have personal business with Draco, Potter. You’re not his friend, and I don’t believe you’ve spoken to him in years. Want to try telling me the truth now.”

Harry scowled but it was Daphne who spoke up. Her voice was firm, but cold. “There’s no reason for us to help you, Harry.”

“Then you’re not aware that Malfoy was at St. Mungo’s this morning with his son and my missing best friend?”

Their identical expressions of shock made it clear to Harry that they didn’t know that Malfoy and Hermione were an item.

“I’m sorry, Potter?  Are you trying to insinuate that Draco Malfoy, Pureblood Heir—is romantically involved with your former best friend, Muggleborn War Heroine and Brightest Witch of the Age?” Theo’s voice was caustic as he stared at the Boy Who Lived.

“I don’t know what their relationship is,” Harry admitted wapishly, “That’s why I need to find Malfoy.”

Theo chuckled sarcastically. “You think he has Granger under some kind of curse? Or a love potion? Seriously?”

Harry’s cheeks reddened and Daphne just shook her head in disgust.

“I think you need to leave, Potter. I may not have been a fan of Draco’s growing up, but he was a good husband to my sister in the time she had left and if there is one thing I do know about Draco, it is he’d never utilize a love potion on anyone. If Granger is with him, she’s there because she wants to be.”

“You can’t tell me that either one of you are thrilled with the idea of your Pureblood bigoted friend dating a Muggleborn witch.” Harry replied snidely.

“Whatever Draco decides to do, Theo and I have very little to do with it. Perhaps you should be asking these questions to Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy.”

“Yeah right, like I’m going to do that.” Harry groused out unhappily while Theo just smirked.

“Then I guess you’re out of luck, Potter. Close the door on your way out if you’d be so kind, and next time send an owl before you drop by.”

Harry gave Nott a scathing look, and slammed the door for good measure as he headed back up to the Auror department.

After he left, Theo warded the room and gave his fiancée a devious grin.

“What do you think about that, love?”

“I think that I need to owl Pansy. If anyone knows if this gossip is true, it would be Blaise and Pansy.”

“And if it is? How do you feel about that?”

Daphne scowled as she considered her betrothed.

“Draco is a good father to Scorpius and he loves him more than anything in this world. If he is seeing Granger, then there’s more to this than we know, but it doesn’t change the fact that his Father was responsible for my sister dying before her time.”

Theo nodded in agreement. “Do you think he’s using her?”

“Don’t you?”

Theo sat back and steepled his hands in contemplation, thinking back to what he remembered about Draco during their Hogwarts years. His old classmate had been scathing in his treatment of Hermione Granger back at Hogwarts, had called her mudblood every chance he’d got. Watched her being tortured in his ancestral home by all accounts. A home he no longer lived in since his son was born, that was true. But if Lucius and Narcissa knew of Draco’s new relationship status, Theo knew they would not be overjoyed with the news, regardless of Granger’s status as a War Heroine. But Draco would’ve never taken Granger into public with his son if his parents hadn’t been informed already. Draco was many things, but stupid wasn’t one of them.

“I’m unsure. What I am confident of is: Lucius and Narcissa know. Which means either Draco is very serious about Granger and fully intends to bring her into the family regardless of his parents wishes, or they are all conspiring together to use Granger to undo their tarnished image and help the Malfoy family regain standing. What do you say we contact Skeeter and let her know what’s going on?”

Daphne smiled evilly and nodded. “I think that’s an excellent idea, love. One can never be too careful when it comes to the press and we really should make sure that Granger is properly welcomed home, don’t you think?”

“Have I told you today how much I love your Slytherin side?”

“Not today, darling. But not to worry, after tonight’s Daily Prophet article, I’ll allow you to remind me when we get home.”

Chapter Text

When they’d returned from their walk and playtime with Scorpius, the little tyke was fast asleep having worn himself out running around the park and playing on the slides. Hermione had chased him up and down the jungle gym and Draco had watched everything with a happy smile on his face. It was clear that Granger was a natural when it came to children as many of the other kids in the park had come over and wanted to join in the fun with her and Scorpius.

As they walked into the door, Hermione leant over and placed a soft kiss on Scorpius’ head as Draco pulled him gently out of his pram, still fast asleep.

“Are you going to put him down for a nap?”

“Yes, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to see what you have here for dinner. Are you hungry for anything special?”

Draco grinned as his gaze heated instantly. “You.”

“Draco!” Hermione whispered on a laugh, “Go put Scorpius down.”

“Fine, but I’ll be back to find you so don’t get too distracted.”

Hermione’s soft laughter filtered behind him as he moved up the stairs and towards his son’s bedroom. Once Draco was reassured his son was sleeping peacefully and the wards were set around the crib, he headed back downstairs and found his witch in the kitchen looking through the pantry.

“Do you like Cassoulet? You have all the ingredients here for the most part. I just would need to grab a couple things from my place?”

“Such as?”

“Fennel and fresh thyme as well as some white beans. I also have a very good wine to pair with the meal.”

Draco grinned as he quickly enveloped his witch into his arms and placed a deep kiss on her lips. After a few moments of snogging, he pulled away with a groan.

“How long will it take you to make the dish?”

“About thirty minutes to prepare with magic and then two hours to cook properly.”

“Well, it’s two o’clock now and Scorpius is going to be asleep for a least an hour. I was thinking we might indulge a bit before he wakes up, what do you think?”

Hermione’s giggle was infectious as Draco chuckled deeply. “You’re insatiable, Malfoy.”

“It’s Draco, love, and yes...I am. I’ve been wondering all afternoon what sort of knickers you’re wearing under that sundress.”

“Oh, have you? And what brilliant conclusions did you come to?”

“That it didn’t matter as long as I got you out of them quickly.”

Her laughter filled the kitchen and Draco didn’t waste anytime lifting her up into his embrace as he led the both of them upstairs and into his bedroom.

When they got to Draco’s room, he threw Granger on his bed and pounced on her. Clothes were discarded at a frantic pace then nails were digging, fingers bruising, lips and teeth sucking and biting and flesh slapping together until their mutual cries of completion filtered throughout the large bedroom.

As they both laid there sweaty and spent in the afters and breathing heavily, Draco couldn’t help the self-satisfied grin that swept over his features.

“You look way too smug.” Hermione admonished as she cast the contraceptive charm, giving her wizard a playful shove.

“Do I?”

“Yes, stop it! I’m not used to seeing you so happy. Usually you’re sneering, or smirking like you’re the only one in on a private joke at everyone else’s expense. It’s a bit unnerving to be honest.”

Draco rolled over and faced Hermione, who was eyeing him with a pleased smirk herself. “You look like the cat who got the cream.”

“Do I?”

He chucked and nodded. “You do. It’s just as unnerving.”

“We’re a right pair.”

Draco leant over and kissed her before he replied, “We are. Perhaps this is just the new normal?”

“Shagging each other silly?”

“That too.”

“Well, I’m not complaining.”

Draco preened proudly and Hermione couldn’t help but snicker at how utterly puffed up he looked.

“I always knew you couldn’t resist my charms, Mine.”

“Sure, because you were such a charmer back when we were in school together.”

“Of course I was. A charming git, prat and all around snake.”

“True. Why is it cute now? It definitely wasn’t then?”

“Because I’m such a brilliant shag. Who else could have you coming undone like that?”

“I wouldn’t know Draco, since I haven’t been with anyone else like this.”

“Damn right, witch! And I fully intend to keep it that way!”

“Then how am I supposed to have a basis of comparison for research?”

Draco growled as he leant down and kissed her viciously before working his way down her body, tasting and nipping at every inch of flesh offered to him until he reached his desired spot. He relentlessly teased and tormented his witch for an indeterminate amount of time until he had her promising him that the only research she’d be doing like this would be with him. Once the promise was made, only then did he gave his witch exactly what she needed.

When she came down from her orgasmic high, she lifted her head and stared down at the smirking blonde who was eyeing her from between her thighs.

“Manipulative git.”

“And?”

“Just stating facts.”

“As long as we’re on the same page, Mine.”

“And what page of what book would that be?”

“Sixty-nine?”

Hermione’s face registered shock before she threw her head back in laughter while Draco just grinned maniacally at her in glee.

“I don’t even know how to do a thirty-four and a half yet?”

“Huh?”

At her lifted eyebrow, Draco’s expression cleared as he chuckled and nodded.

“We could work on that you know? I’m happy to allow you to research on me to your heart’s content.”

“I’ll bet you are.”

“No time like the present?”

“Eager much?”

“Would you hold it against me if I told you I’d fantasized about that often whilst we were at Hogwarts?”

Hermione sat up and gave him a measured look.

“How often?”

“Quite often.”

“Where?”

“You mean where did I imagine it the most?”

At her nod, he grinned and said, “Library. Restricted Section.”

“Seriously?”

“Mmhmm,” Draco admitted with a wink, “Surprised?”

“Frankly, yes.”

“Didn’t you ever fantasize about me in school?”

At her deepening blush, Draco’s grin became feral as he scooted up the bed and took his witch into his arms.

When?”

Hermione sighed as she eyed her wizard with amusement. He looked far too eager for the information.

“I’m not sure I should tell you. I mean, that’s valuable information to just give it away for free?”

“Why you little Slytherin witch? Are you really bartering with me?”

“Depends on how much you want to know?”

Draco’s gaze narrowed as he considered her for a moment before he smirked in that wicked way of his and started to tickle her in earnest.

“Draco!” She shrieked out between gales of laughter, “Stop it!”

“No can do, my lovely witch. Not until you tell me what I want to know!”

Her laughter continued on for a few moments while he tickled her relentlessly before she pleaded with him to stop.

“You’ll tell me?”

“Fine! Manipulative git!” Her breathing was heavy but her eyes were alight with happiness.

“I’m waiting.”

“Humph!”

She pushed away and sat back up as she bit her lip, trying not to smile at his earnest expression.

“If you must know, it was Yule Ball fourth year. During the French waltz and we were paired, you’d touched my hand and when I caught your gaze, the look you gave me was completely unexpected. It was only for a second, before your mask settled over your features once again and I’d thought I had imagined it...” her voice fell away and she was surprised to see Draco’s expression soften as he gathered her back into his embrace and kissed her soundly.

After a minute, he pulled back and laid his forehead against hers before he spoke up a bit haltingly.

“I was mesmerized by you that night. I desperately wanted to dance with you, so when the French Waltz came on, I made sure I was placed where I’d get the chance. It was the only time I knew I’d be allowed to touch you without scrutiny. You were so beautiful and I remember thinking how unfair it was that fate had made it impossible for me to be with you. But yes, for that one moment what you likely saw was me being unguarded. It was probably the last time, until after the war that I allowed my mask to slip.”

They just sat there for a few moments, taking in each other and reminiscing about their shared confessions before Hermione spoke up.

“When I returned to Gryffindor Tower after the Ball, I dreamt about you that night. When I woke up...well, it was surprising because there were tears running down my cheeks. I don’t really remember the dream persay, just the general feelings associated with it. But it almost felt as if I’d lost something precious, that I couldn’t ever get back. A few days later you’d said something hateful to me, and I put those thoughts far from my mind. It was a wishful fantasy, but never more than that, or so I’d thought.”

“I’m sorry.”

Hermione shook her head. “Draco, you don’t need to say your sorry every time we discuss our shared past. Yes, a lot of it was awful and hurtful but it’s in the past. We can’t change it. All we can do is learn from it and promise to do better. This right here, I wouldn’t change for all the galleons in Gringotts. This is the happiest I’ve ever been. Who would’ve thought that Draco Malfoy would ever be the one to make me feel this way?”

“Minx.” He grinned playfully as he nipped her shoulder. “But you’re right, Mine. We can’t change the past. You and Scorpius are my future. Whatever happens going forward, you need to know that this here is what I want. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”

“Then let’s focus on that, alright?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Draco waved his wand and checked the time. It was a bit after three, so they decided to take a quick shower together, which didn’t turn out so quick before making their way back downstairs to get dinner started. Hermione floo’d back to Verona to grab a few things and when she returned, Scorpius was awake and babbling happily in Draco’s arms.

Hermione smiled and walked over, placing a gentle kiss on Scorp’s head before pulling all the items from her bag. When that was done she pulled out other items from the ice box and began to prepare dinner.

“Why don’t you both go outside and play for awhile. It’s going to take me a bit to get the Cassoulet prepared before it simmers.”

“Fine, we will make ourselves scarce while you cook away, love.”

Draco took Scorpius outside and together they spent the late afternoon playing in the sandbox and chasing each other around the lawn while Hermione watched from the kitchen window, smiling at how much Draco had changed.

He really was an amazing father.

Once dinner was simmering in the casserole dish, Hermione moved around the kitchen familiarizing herself with where everything was and making a mental catalogue of what kinds of things Draco and Scorpius appeared to like. She decided to make a shopping list and placed it on the counter as she set the table for dinner.

After about an hour, she went outside to the backyard to check on her boys and smiled when she saw Draco sitting in the sandbox with Scorpius. They were making a sand castle and her wizard was clearly cheating, using magic.

“That’s a nice looking sand castle.”

Draco grinned up over his shoulder, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

“Magic.”

“Hmm, I can see that.”

“Mimi! Come pway!”

“Alright.” She smiled as she moved over into the sandbox that was about as big as her bedroom back in Verona.

“Where did you get all this sand?”

Draco shrugged. “A Contractor who is a squib. He actually built the play set, sandbox and treehouse over behind you in the large oak.”

Hermione squinted into the waning sunlight and noticed a rather good sized treehouse nestled amongst the branches. It was about twenty feet off the ground and she gave Draco an incredulous look as she shook her head in amusement.

“Please tell me it’s warded.”

He just rolled his eyes. “Of course it is, Mine. What kind of father do you take me for?  Besides, it’s quite cosy inside, has a great view of the nighttime sky for star watching.”

“Oh!” She said in sudden understanding.

“Oh, indeed.”

He winked back while simultaneously waving his wand and adding another parapet to his castle.

The three played in companionable silence until Hermione’s wand vibrated letting her know that the Cassoulet was nearly done.

“I’m going to head inside.”

“We should all go inside. Come on, champ, let’s get you cleaned up for dinner okay?”

“Tay.” Scorpius chirped happily, allowing Draco to shake the sand off his clothes before being scooped up into his daddy’s embrace. When they got inside, Draco disappeared for a bit and Hermione cleaned up too before putting the final touches on their dinner.

Once Scorpius was seated in his high chair, Hermione served up a slightly cooled bowl for him with cut up pieces of carrots, sausage and duck with some white beans. She then dished up hers and Draco’s, the latter smiling widely as he smelled the delicious aroma.

“Definitely spoiling us.”

“Are you complaining?”

“Nope.” He smiled as Hermione handed him the wine she’d brought and he eyed the label curiously before pouring the wine into both their glasses.

“This is the same wine you brought to Blaise and Pansy.”

Hermione nodded. “It is.”

“It’s very good.”

Hermione smirked and went to say something when Draco’s floo went off. He stood up immediately with his wand drawn, until Blaise and Pansy walked into the kitchen.

“Something smells delicious.” Blaise smirked.

“Why are you here, mate? Everything alright?”

Pansy shared an unreadable look with Blaise before she handed over what looked like a letter, to Draco. He gestured to invite them to eat, which they did. Hermione went and grabbed two other bowls and some wine glasses, waiting to see what was putting that scowl on Draco’s face.

When he set the letter down, his grey eyes bored into his best mate.

“She’s fishing. Why is she coming to you two with these questions?”

“Don’t know, mate. Something doesn’t add up, but clearly she knows that you and Hermione are an item. You know what a tosser Theo can be and Daphne has never gotten over her sister’s death.”

Draco sighed as he ran his hand down his face before handing the letter to Hermione, who read it quickly with an incredulous look.

“Seriously? Why would she even care?”

“Don’t know.” Pansy piped in. “But with Daphne, you never know. I obviously haven’t written her back and have no intention to. Drake, what do you want us to do?”

“Leave her and Theo to me. If they are looking to cause trouble, they’ve found it. I will have no problem taking care of this myself.”

Draco,” Hermione admonished quietly, “Are you sure that’s such a good idea. There are better ways to handle this.”

Draco smirked evilly. “Would blackmail, maiming or cursing have anything to do with it, love?”

Hermione bit her lip and tried not to grin at the very heated look Draco was giving her. All she could do was respond with, “Maybe?”

There was genuine mirth shared around the table, when Draco heard his floo flash again and he groaned in despair instantly knowing exactly who it was who’d let themselves into his home. He met Hermione’s questioning gaze and mouthed, ‘Sorry, love’ before Lucius and Narcissa walked regally into the room.

Narcissa’s eyebrows rose in surprise, but Lucius just sneered at the cozy little dinner party.

Draco stood up to greet his Mother; years of ingrained etiquette serving him well at the moment. He placed a gentle kiss on his Mother’s cheek and nodded stiffly to his Father.

He turned around and noticed Hermione, Pansy and Blaise were standing as well. Pansy and Blaise clearly seemed uncomfortable but his Mine looked rather unaffected as she waited to be addressed.

“Mother, Father...you both remember Blaise and Pansy.”

“Yes.”

Narcissa’s voice was even as she nodded to the couple before her blue eyes settled on the witch who had captured her son’s heart. Narcissa had to give it to the witch, she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by the unexpected house call. Her eyes were clear and fixed with a determination that would’ve been impressive under any other circumstance.

“And I’m sure you remember, Hermione Granger?”

“Ah yes, Miss Granger. Draco did mention he’d been reintroduced to you recently.”

“Lady Malfoy.” Hermione tilted her head in acknowledgment. “I do apologize that you’ve caught us sharing a meal. You are both welcome to join us if you haven’t already eaten or don’t have any previous engagements to attend to this evening?”

Pansy and Blaise eyed each other, while Draco just smirked at his witch. Scorpius piped in and said, “Sit Gamma an Papa. Mimi mwkes yummies.”

Lucius sneered while Narcissa’s lips pursed for a moment before she responded with, “We wouldn’t wish to intrude.”

“There’s more than enough, I assure you—but if you’d rather not, we’d completely understand.”

Narcissa couldn’t help but inwardly smirk at the subtle challenge from the young witch. She was being unfailingly polite and her manners were unexpected to be sure, but Narcissa didn’t miss her husband’s stiffening at the veiled dare, nor her son’s impish smirk as he stared down his father with a provocative look.

“Then we would be delighted to join you, wouldn’t we, Lucius?”

Lucius to his credit, didn’t say anything but just nodded once in acquiescence, before they watched the young witch quickly gather the proper dining accoutrements for them with the corresponding wine glasses. She reached into her beaded bag and pulled out another bottle of wine, handing it to Draco to open and allow to sufficiently breathe.

Lucius sneered at the wine when it was offered to him and looked down at the meal with another look of abject disgust.

“What are we having?” He inquired imperiously.

“Cassoulet. It was my grand-mère’s recipe.”

“Your Grandmother was French?” Narcissa asked as she took a gentle sip of the wine and her eyebrows lifted as she gazed down at the rich red liquid. “This is excellent wine.”

“Yes, Lady Malfoy...my grand-mère was french. She had a home in Paris and another in the Southern region of France.”

Pansy smirked while Blaise just gave Draco a knowing look. Draco then piped in and said, “Hermione is being modest, Mother. Her Grand-mère was French nobility. Comtesse d’Avernay, I believe?”

Hermione’s expression was placid as she nodded. “Yes. The wine for this evening is from the family winery in Bordeaux.”

Lucius coughed as he stared at his wife, who was giving the Muggleborn witch an appraising look. Draco, Pansy and Blaise were all staring at her as well while Scorpius was just happily eating his dinner.

“You didn’t tell me that, Hermione.” Draco admonished with a playful smirk.

“You didn’t ask, darling. Do you expect me to divulge all my secrets just because you happen to be pleasant to look at?”

Blaise chuckled while Pansy just grinned. Even Narcissa smirked at the gobsmacked expression on her son’s face while Lucius was stunned silent.

Not necessarily a bad thing in Hermione’s humble opinion.

“Not nice, love.”

Hermione smirked as she took a gentle sip of the wine. “I don’t think we’ve ever defined that I am always required to be ‘nice.”

The moue of disgust was palatable on the last word, and everyone just stared at her as if they didn’t quite believe what they were hearing.

“I thought all Gryffindor’s strived to be of the upstanding sententious sort.” Lucius said, as he took a bite of his dinner, his eyebrows rising at the delicious flavors of the meal.

“I’m sure they do as a general rule. Unfortunately the sorting hat seemed to have other ideas as to where I belonged, and needed to be firmly persuaded otherwise.”

Now everyone was staring at her as she smiled at Scorpius and helped clean him up a bit before handing him his sippy cup. Narcissa’s eyes softened at the clear affection the witch was showing towards her grandson.

“And just where did the sorting hat decide was the best initial placement for you?” Lucius asked, his pompous voice was both equal parts disdainful and intrigued.

“Slytherin actually. It nearly insisted that it would be the best house suited for my...how did the hat put it?” She placed a finger to her lip in faux thought before she grinned evilly, “My malleable moral tendencies.”

Draco dropped his spoon, while Pansy just gasped. Blaise snickered and even Lucius smirked, while Narcissa leant forward slightly. “And just how would a Gryffindor have such Slytherin traits?”

“Oh, you know? This and that. I’m afraid my reputation in certain circles proceeds me a bit.”

At this Draco laughed. “So that was why the Minister all but begged to be kept out of the loop as you, and I quote...blackmail, curse or maim?”

Hermione’s smile was pure innocence but her eyes were the picture of deviousness as she elegantly shrugged, clearly not intending to answer said question. Draco’s gaze was blistering while everyone else seemed unsure of what to say.

“Please forgive, Draco. He’s easily amused.” Hermione winked at her wizard, who just shook his head at her, his eyes promising retribution later. “But, it does make me wonder as to what we owe the honor of your presence here this evening, Lady Malfoy?”

Hermione’s gaze was again fixated upon Narcissa, who tilted her head at the direct hit. “I must say, Miss Granger, I am pleasantly surprised to find that perhaps my earlier concerns about certain...shall we say...heritage issues are perhaps a bit unfounded. Nonetheless, yes...there is a reason we decided to make our presence known this evening.”

She nodded to Lucius, who handed Draco that evenings edition of the Daily Prophet. When he was done reading the article, he handed it to Hermione who skimmed the headline and chuckled.

 

War Heroine or Death Eater Sympathizer?

 

She didn’t need to read the article, it would seem that Rita Skeeter needed a fresh reminder of just whom she was dealing with.

Chapter Text

After Hermione sat the article down with an eye roll, not even bothering to peruse the contents, Draco realized in that moment that perhaps he’d severely underestimated his witch. Oh, he’d known she was brilliant and leagues smarter than anyone he’d ever known. She was bossy, fierce, brave and recklessly loyal to those she cared about. He’d seen enough over the years to know that if it hadn’t been for his witch, Harry Potter would’ve died a long time ago.

“You don’t seem too terribly stressed, love.  Why is that?”

“Hmmm?” Hermione’s amber eyes were wide as she stared up at him after cleaning Scorpius off and then getting him some dessert. “Oh, was I supposed to be upset and worried over Rita Skeeter’s more than questionable journalistic tendencies?”

“Aren’t you, Miss Granger?” Lucius queried with a raised eyebrow.

Hermione noticed Blaise and Pansy reading the article and she just shook her head subtly.

“Not as such. Clearly someone felt the need to go to Rita and break the happy news of the circumstances surrounding my return. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that was.”

Draco’s gaze met hers and he lifted a questioning eyebrow in response. Hermione just smiled before she continued.

“Really, a room full of Slytherins and not one of you can take an educated guess as to the likely instigator behind that article.”

Everyone looked at each other before five sets of eyes fixated back on her.

Really, were they all this obtuse?

“Draco, dear?  Who went fishing today for information? And what better way to catch a fish than to set a trap with bait?” Hermione reached for the article and waved it in the air. “Bait.”

Draco chuckled while Pansy and Blaise frowned simultaneously.

“You’re brilliant.” Draco cooed out seductively, earning a harsh glare from both his mother and his witch.

“Not now, darling.”

“Yes, love.”

Narcissa was aghast at how utterly devious the young witch appeared to be.

Was this the same witch that had been tortured in her home?

“This is just the real me, Lady Malfoy,” Hermione admitted with a small smile, “I think Pansy might’ve asked a similar question at dinner the other night.”

Blue eyes met the other young witch, who nodded at the admission.

“Are you saying that Daphne and Theo are behind this article?” Blaise asked, clearly unamused by the thought.

“It makes the most sense. The tone of the article suggests that whomever Rita spoke to has a personal axe to grind. Well, beyond the one that Rita has for me.”

“And why would Miss Skeeter have such a personal grudge against you, Miss Granger?”

The question was from Lucius and Hermione just stared down the wizard before she replied in her sweetest voice, “Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that I might have kidnapped, trapped and held Miss Skeeter against her will for several weeks at the end of my fourth year?”

The room went dead silent expect for Scorpius, who was humming happily as he ate his ice cream.

“Excuse me? You did what? How?”

Hermione’s gaze landed on Draco and her eyes narrowed as she smirked at him. “Don’t tell me you didn’t know that dear Rita Skeeter is an animagus, love?”

Draco blushed, but nodded warily at the feral gleam in his witch’s eye.

“I did know that.”

“Of course you did. Both you and Pansy here, fed Miss Skeeter those lovely articles during our shared fourth year. Unfortunately for Miss Skeeter, she’s an unregistered animagus. Shame really, as it’s quite illegal but I did manage to trap her in an unbreakable mason jar for a few weeks until she agreed to my terms. Why do you think she didn’t write for the Prophet all of our fifth year? You didn’t think it was a voluntary sabbatical, did you?”

Hermione t’sked like she was disappointed that anyone could ever think such a thing, but clearly enjoying the looks of shock, awe, surprise and appreciation from everyone in the room.

“That was your doing?” Narcissa asked with a hint of pride in her voice and Hermione nodded once.

“It was. I should admit it was nothing compared to what I did to Delores Umbridge, but clearly Miss Skeeter needs a refresher on the finer points of our little agreement. Do you have some parchment and an owl I can borrow, love?”

“Of course.” Draco grinned as he stood up to grab said items.

“Do you plan on a repeat offense, Miss Granger?” Lucius asked with interest, clearly realizing he’d severely underestimated this witch.

“Oh no, Lord Malfoy! Nothing so prosaic. I’m afraid blackmail alone holds little sway with Miss Skeeter anymore, so she’s really left me very few choices. Did you know that under my pseudonym as Astrid Devereaux, I’ve made several charitable donations to different organizations? The Muggles have a Department of Entomology at Oxford that is quite prestigious. The Director is a personal friend. I think he’d be thrilled to be introduced to a new species of bug for his research. Don’t you agree?”

Lucius smirked as he gave his wife an amused look, while Draco returned with the parchment.

“If you all wish to remain here this evening, I’m sure you would like to be privy to a bit of fun...yes?”

“What are you going to do, love?”

“Well, dear Rita has made several overtures throughout these past couple years for an exclusive interview with Astrid Devereaux. I’m going to agree to that exclusive and invite her to visit this evening if that is alright with you?”

Draco smirked and nodded. “You think she’ll come?”

“Of course.” Hermione said sweetly. “It will be an invitation she’ll be unable to refuse. Trust me.”

“Why do I get the feeling that you’re actually enjoying this a little too much?”

“Nonsense, darling. I’m a lion after all. We love to toy with our prey before we eat it.”

With that, Hermione grabbed the parchment and politely excused herself for a few moments. When she left, Draco sat down and gave his parents a triumphant grin.

“Still think that witch isn’t good enough to be a Malfoy?”

Narcissa tutted while Lucius just glared at his son.

“If her plan works, I might be motivated to reevaluate my position.” Lucius stated reluctantly whilst everyone stared in disbelief at the pompous Pureblood Aristocrat. “I will admit I’m intrigued, and we will leave it at that for the time being.”

“Well said, dearest.” Narcissa nodded in agreement before she turned her shrewd gaze on her son. “What did Miss Granger mean about Delores Umbridge?”

Draco grinned. “Oh, that!?”

“Yes, that...so please regale us with what you know, My Dragon.”

So Draco told his parents about how Granger had lied to Umbridge when she’d caught Potter and his lot and Hermione had indicated that Dumbledore had some hidden secret weapon in the Forbidden Forest.

“But she led her out to the centaurs instead, who captured Umbridge and raped her from what I was led to understand. I don’t believe my witch ever showed any remorse over those actions either, come to think of it.”

“Moral ambiguity indeed.” Lucius sat back with a contemplative look on his face.

If all this was true, Miss Granger just became infinitely more interesting and formidable.

It wasn’t too long before Hermione returned with a satisfied sigh.

“I sent the owl, now we’ll just need to wait for the reply.”

“And if she agrees?” Lucius inquired.

“Then the games begin.” Hermione grinned smugly. “Would any of you care for some more wine?”

Lucius lifted up his glass at the invitation. “I do believe I will have another glass. That is an excellent vintage. Please tell me a bit more about it.”

Draco’s gaze met his Mother’s, who was trying her very best to remain stoic. Her lifted eyebrow was the only dead giveaway that she was intrigued.

“Of course, Lord Malfoy.” Hermione nodded at the bottle. “The winery has been in my family for nearly a century. In the Muggle World there are varied vintages of both red and white wine based on the region, the soil it grows in and the year its bottled. The one we’re drinking was one of our better years. We are a relatively small winery, and as such our wine is highly sought after. Muggle wine can fetch different prices dependent on quality and desirability.”

Lucius nodded. “So what would an average bottle of wine of this variety sell for?”

“Ah, that depends on the wine. But a relatively decent bottle of wine such as this Bordeaux would probably market somewhere around 300 galleons.”

Lucius raised an eyebrow as he reached for the bottle and read the vintage.

“And your label?”

Hermione couldn’t keep the smug smirk off her face. “That bottle there retails for about 1000 galleons at market value.”

Lucius nearly dropped the bottle as everyone stared at her in shock. Well, everyone except Pansy, who had tried the wine previously and knew how exclusive it was. She just hadn’t known Granger owned the winery.

“Hermione is correct.” Pansy offered with a nod. “Some of the previous years are quite exclusive. I do believe certain bottles at auction have sold upwards of 3000 galleons a bottle, isn’t that correct?”

Narcissa and Lucius turned towards the Muggleborn witch as she nodded in agreement.

“Yes. Some of the vintages of the early eighties were highly sought after. The soil content as well as the conditions had been stellar for a few years and the wine fermenting was quite favorable. I’ve kept apprised of the winery through my head vintner and made some subtle suggestions to keep the aggregates optimal and so far, it’s looking to be a rather promising harvest for the next few years. Perhaps even better than our best year, which was in 1983.”

“I didn’t know you were such a wine snob, love.” Draco lifted his glass in salute to her and Hermione smiled at him adoringly.

“I’m no sommelier, darling, but I do know what I like.”

“I didn’t realize Muggle wines were quite so exclusive.” Lucius offered thoughtfully.

“It’s big business in the Muggle World. When my Grand-mere passed and I inherited her estate in my sixth year at Hogwarts, I was besieged by many larger wine labels inquiring if I would be willing to sell. I politely refused, as I would hope to pass this legacy down to my children someday. If I’m being honest, my family winery is rated amongst the top three in the world. Only one other is more exclusive. It’s a matter of familial pride at this point.”

Narcissa nodded. “That I can understand. Traditions are very important and shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Hermione felt like that comment carried a double edged sword as she considered Draco’s mother for a moment. The older witch had clearly meant the inference if the look in her eye was any indication.

“I would normally agree that tradition is valued inasmuch as it seeks to bring nobility and honor to one’s house. Whilst we may have different definitions of what that constitutes as such, Lady Malfoy, I was raised in many of the same traditions as your son. I was formally educated in languages, dance, fine art, etiquette, speech, dress and correspondence. I spent every summer until the end of my fourth year in Paris under the tutelage of my Grand-mere. Whilst I may not be of a Pureblood Magical lineage, my magic is just as formidable as any Pureblood and I’d like to think I have an above average intellect too. I’m not asking for either yourself nor Lord Malfoy to grant your acceptance today, I just ask that you allow me the opportunity to show you who I am and what I’m capable of.”

Narcissa considered the young witch with a critical eye. It was clear that Hermione Granger was well educated and if tonight was any indication, she clearly adored her son and grandson. Even Lucius, for all his pomposity seemed to be somewhat impressed by Miss Granger’s Slytherin nature.

“I will make you a deal, Miss Granger.”

“And that is?”

“If you are able to rein in Miss Skeeter and prove that you are capable of turning this situation to your advantage without the possibility of reprisal, you will have my blessing.”

Hermione’s face broke out into a smirk as she gazed at Draco, who was clearly affected by his Mother’s words.

“Does that blessing encompass Lord Malfoy as well?”

Lucius eyed his wife, who’s blue gaze was boring through him quite firmly. He swallowed and then nodded reluctantly. “I will support Narcissa in this, only because I’m unconvinced that you’re capable of such manipulation.”

“Well then, I hope I don’t disappoint you both.” Hermione lifted her glass to the table. “Here’s to the game of manipulation. I’ve always considered myself to be an outcome engineer.”

Everyone chuckled as they raised their glasses and Scorpius who was done with his ice cream, just giggled happily.

At that moment an owl tapped against the window and Draco went to let it in. He handed the letter to Hermione who read it and grinned in triumph.

“Rita Skeeter will be here within the hour.”

Chapter Text

Rita Skeeter had been pleasantly surprised by the lovely missive she’d received from the noted author, Astrid Devereaux. She had been trying for several years to get an exclusive with the reclusive author and as luck would have it, Miss Devereaux was currently visiting London and had read her article in that evenings Daily Prophet. Apparently the author had been impressed by her recent journalistic piece and had stated in her letter that she felt that someone who seemed to be so passionate about exposing unpopular truth’s would be more than suitable for an exclusive.

Rita had been touched by the kind words of the author. Miss Devereaux had sent a necklace portkey, explaining it was a one-way portkey to her home and that it couldn’t be duplicated nor traced. She had also stressed that due to her intensely private nature, she would prefer if Miss Skeeter didn’t inform anyone of her exclusive until the article was published. Rita could well understand such constraints and the need for privacy and she grinned as she put the lovely necklace on. She’d checked it for curses and hexes, but there was nothing on it save the anti-tracking and anti-duplication charms.

It would seem that Astrid Devereaux wanted to make sure that her private life stayed that way.

Rita had been thrilled as well, when she’d received the note from Daphne Greengrass earlier that afternoon. Word had gotten back to her that little miss mudblood had returned to London with none other than Draco Malfoy and his son. Rita hadn’t believed it, only because she’d remembered how much the Malfoy Heir had despised Hermione Granger when they were in school together and despite the Malfoy family’s fall from grace, one didn’t talk out of turn without tangible proof.

The article she’d written thanks to Miss Greengrass, had been speculative about the Malfoy’s possible motives for welcoming a Muggleborn into their ranks, but her supposition of Hermione Granger’s motives were less ambiguous. While not completely scathing, it did leave the door open for people to draw their own biased conclusions, especially since Miss Greengrass had inferred that Harry Potter himself had questioned both herself and Mr. Nott about their knowledge of the new relationship.

It would seem that no one who knew the couple was on board with it.

Rita was still bitter about being forced into a semi retirement for a year by that little hussy, who had bested her. She hadn’t been sad to see the chit disappear, although her scathing report at the time hadn’t had the deleterious effects she’d hoped.

But it had been no matter, since the witch was gone and according to the Minister himself...Hermione Granger had no plans to return to London, ever.

Now it would seem, that wasn’t the case at all.

As she checked the time, Rita noted that it was nearly time for her portkey to activate. Grabbing her Quick Quill and notepad, she gave herself a final once over before the device activated and she was on her way to meet the famed Astrid Devereaux.

When she reappeared, it was in a lavish sitting room with well appointed furniture, antique furnishings and a large hearth that clearly housed a floo.

A small house elf was there to greet her.

“Miss Skeeter, welcomes. Miss Devereaux has asks that I welcome you and to take a seat. She will be withs you’s in a minute.”

Rita nodded at the elf, who ‘popped’ out of the room. Soon, footfalls were heard outside the room and then her hostess arrived.

Rita had seen pictures of Astrid Devereaux, but the witch in person was simply stunning. Long blonde hair and ice green eyes observed her with reserved caution as the witch smiled and walked forward.

“Miss Skeeter, thank you for coming on such short notice.”

Hermione’s pendant as such, not only charmed her appearance, but her voice to a small extent. Draco had mentioned to her that if it hadn’t been for her laugh that day, he might’ve never known it was her all those months ago.

“It’s not a problem, Miss Devereaux. I was thrilled to receive your invitation.”

Astrid gestured to the sitting couch. “Please, have a seat. Would you care for some tea?”

“Tea would be lovely.”

Astrid smiled and called for the elf, who ‘popped’ back in with an heirloom tea set. When it was settled on the tea table, the elf left with a bow for her mistress.

“How do you take your tea, Miss Skeeter.”

“Oh, please call me Rita,” The reporter’s cat-like grin blossomed disingenuously, “And two sugars with a splash of milk, please.”

“Of course.”

Rita watched avidly as Astrid Devereaux served the tea with all the style and grace of a Pureblood witch. She took the tea with a nod of thanks and after a few moments, set the cup down in the saucer; her expression expectant.

“Do you mind if I use my quick quill notepad?”

Astrid’s smile was hesitant before she replied, “I don’t see any reason why not. I am not quite familiar with this type of note taking?”

“It just helps me keep my thoughts in order.”

“I see.” Astrid set her cup and saucer on the tea table with fluid grace before she sat back and observed the woman across from her. “I must admit, when I received your request for an interview some time ago, I was hesitant to meet with you. I’m not one for speculation into my private life, but my publisher mentioned it might be a wise idea to meet with some of the noted press and I was impressed with your recent article.”

Astrid gestured to the Daily Prophet that was sitting on the side table next to her seat. She lifted up the magazine and flipped to the article in question.

“Thank you,” Rita preened smugly, “which part of the article did you find most to your liking?”

Rita watched as Astrid perused the article before a small smile came to her face. Her green eyes lit up in amusement as she said, “I do believe it was how you questioned the motivations of certain people. Where was that sentence?” Rita’s gaze closely observed the author until she obviously found the quote in question. “Ah, here it is....

While it has been some years since Miss Granger has made her presence known within the British Magical Community; one has to wonder what her current motivation is in returning at this time and in such a manner? Is she simply using this situation to further her advantage and regain the questionable standing that she abdicated so many years ago? Is she hoping to use her assignation with the Malfoy Heir; widower and his son to her advantage as she did with Mr. Potter and Mr. Krum?

Miss Granger has always been a simple girl with no measurable talent and has used her connections to more famous wizards to further her own agenda. While the Malfoy family has lost much of its former glory due to their questionable affiliations during the war and after, one can’t help but wonder why a noted War Heroine would suddenly find herself in the company of a former Death Eater, who’s home she was tortured in.’

“Harsh words.” Astrid finished as she set the paper down.

“Perhaps.” Rita said primly. “But true words, nonetheless.”

“Well, it was the main reason I agreed to this interview.”

“What about you, Miss Devereaux? Are you involved with any particular wizard?”

Astrid’s expression softened imperceptibly. “My personal life is rather sacred to me, I’m sure you can understand that. But I would be happy to answer any questions you have in regards to my books?”

Rita’s expression soured for just a second, as she clearly didn’t wish to be thwarted from the more juicy aspects of the interview. But never one to back down from a challenge, she ventured on.

“What made you choose the topics for your stories?”

“They all come from a place of real life experiences.”

Really? How interesting!” Rita’s quick quill notes jotted down then information as she pointed at it. “And where did you attend school?”

“Hogwarts.”

Rita’s gaze narrowed at the young witch. “Really, and what year did you graduate?”

“I finished in 1999.”

“So you were there after the war? What house were you sorted into?”

Astrid smirked, “Gryffindor.”

Rita’s quill scribbled down the information while the reporter eyed the witch with a narrowed gaze. Her green eyes were placid, and there didn’t seem to be any recognition behind her gaze.

“I don’t recall ever hearing the name Devereaux at Hogwarts.”

“Really?” Astrid’s eyes widened in mock innocence. “That is strange. But I would imagine with the war and everything that happened during and it’s aftermath; your focus was understandably elsewhere, yes?”

Rita nodded, as she felt a cold warning shiver along her spine but the witch across from her seemed unfailingly polite, asking her if she would like some more tea. Rita shook her head ‘no’ and then asked, “Did you know Mr. Potter or Miss Granger at Hogwarts?”

“Of course I did. They were both sorted into Gryffindor.”

“Were you in the same class as them?” Rita’s voice was now laced with a tinge of anxiety, as her quill was scratching on the parchment almost frantically.

“As a matter of fact, I was.”

Rita swallowed heavily as she stared into the iced green eyes of the witch across from her.

“Were you on friendly terms with your housemates?”

Astrid smiled widely as she tilted her head at the reporter. “Aren’t all Gryffindor’s on friendly terms with each other?”

The warning in the back of her head was now full on blaring as Rita went to reach for her wand. Astrid smiled and waved her hand in the air, like she was swatting at a bug and Rita paled as she felt the necklace around her neck tighten uncomfortably. She grabbed her wand and instantly felt it leave her hand and fly into the palm of the witch across from her. With another wave of her hand, the glamour dropped and Rita paled as she stared into the angry eyes of Hermione Granger.

“Hello bug. It’s been awhile.”

Rita gripped at the necklace but she couldn’t speak.

“That necklace is of my own creation. Do you like it? I know I’m a simple girl with no measurable talent, but really Rita? You should know by now not to cross me.”

Rita’s eyes widened as Hermione Granger transfigured a vase next to her into a mason jar. Her voice squeaked out in horror as the witch set the jar on the table between the two of them.

“We had a deal, bug. You would refrain from writing salacious articles about myself and I would allow your dubious alternate identity to remain a secret. Do you remember? Nod yes, if you do?”

Rita nodded and then watched in horror as the younger witch pointed her wand and sent out a silent spell, incinerating her quick quill and notepad into smithereens.

“Now, we are going to have a little conversation. You will nod for yes and shake your head for no. If you lie the necklace around your neck will tighten with each little fib until it cuts off your breathing entirely. If you don’t wish to play this game, there is always the jar? So jar?” Hermione picked up the jar and waved it teasingly.

Rita emphatically shook her head ‘no’ so Hermione continued on. “Excellent choice. Now, did Daphne Greengrass contact you today and was she behind this little article?”

Rita nodded once as she gripped the necklace on her neck.

“Good, did Harry Potter go to her and ask where to find me?”

Rita shook her head and Hermione’s gaze narrowed slightly until she countered with, “Was Harry Potter looking for Draco Malfoy?”

Rita nodded.

“Hmmm.” Hermione sat back and considered the reporter across from her. “We seem to have a bit of a conundrum here. I can’t trust you to keep your word, however you could prove useful to me if I could trust you to do my bidding. So, what will it be bug? Unbreakable vow or mason jar?”

Rita’s gaze narrowed and Hermione could see her breathing through her nose heavily as she eyed the jar with distaste.

Hermione evilly grinned as she added, “Just for the record, if you choose the jar I will be donating you to the Oxford Department of Entomology. They study bugs. Dissect them really. Pin them and display them in enclosed cases for Muggles to gawk at in museums. You could finally be a star, Rita! Just imagine! An eternity in your animagus form, frozen...helpless...are you feeling me?”

Rita paled in terror, her bug eyes twitching as she realized too late the mistake she’d made in making this witch her enemy.

“If you were willing to work with me however, and use your questionable journalistic tendencies for my benefit...well, I’m sure we could figure out a scenario that works to both our benefits? The choice is yours. You have one minute to decide. If you don’t, I will make the decision for you.”

Hermione sat back and waved her wand as a tempus charm showed the time and both witches watched with differing feelings of horror and elation simultaneously until the minute was up.

Hermione then waved her wand again and said, “Your choice?”

Rita glared hatefully as she spat, “I’ll take the vow.”

Of course you will.”

Hermione smiled as she dropped a disillusionment charm and watched in satisfaction as all the color drained from Rita’s face as she eyed the Malfoy’s, who were all glaring at her angrily.

“You will understand one final time, bug...if you ever write a single, solitary derogatory word about myself or my family again; I will take great pleasure in fulfilling my earlier promise. That lovely necklace is charmed to you now. Call it another insurance policy, if you will.”

“You can’t do this.” Rita ground out and Hermione laughed in glee.

“You’ll find I can and I am.”

Hermione’s gaze moved over her shoulder as she smiled at her boyfriend, who was watching her with a very heated expression that promised all sorts of wicked delights later on. Pansy and Blaise were both with Scorpius in his suite of rooms, while Lucius and Narcissa seemed rather pleased at the moment.

“Lord Malfoy, would you do the honor of being the bonder for our little vow?”

Lucius bowed his head and smirked. “It would be my great honor, Miss Granger.”

“Lovely.”

She then pulled out a piece of parchment from her robes and handed it to the Malfoy Lord. He read the script and actually smiled genuinely, his eyes sparkling in admiration.

“I do believe I’ve severely underestimated you, Miss Granger.”

“Most people do. It’s not a mistake they tend to make twice, as Rita here is learning the hard way.”

Lucius bowed his head and gave his son an approving nod. Draco’s expression was clearly proud as he considered his witch, who looked far too smug for her own good.

“If I didn’t know better, love?  I’d think you’re enjoying this.”

“That’s because you do know better.”

“So this is blackmail, cursing and maiming all at once?”

“Something like that.” She quipped. “Disappointed?”

“On the contrary.  I’m finding myself going over several ways in which to show my unequivocal appreciation.”

“Later, darling.”

Hermione then went over and stood in front of the bug and held her right hand out.

“Let’s get this over with, shall we. Then I have a wonderful article for you to write for tomorrow’s Prophet. We will be working very closely together from now on, bug. You’ll find that my happiness and contentment will now directly be entwined with your’s going forward.”

Lucius and Draco chuckled while Narcissa just stood back and observed proudly. If she had any doubts of Miss Granger’s suitability for her son, they were sufficiently obliterated.

The witch was not to be underestimated.

Once the vow was finalized and the markings embedded on both Hermione’s and Rita’s wrists, the young witch waved her wand one last time and the necklace shimmered, and the vow markings disappeared.

Lucius lifted an intrigued eyebrow.

“Clever. Now no one will suspect that her compliance has anything to do with a vow.”

“Correct. And since she has absolutely no way to inform anyone of our mutual agreement; everyone will assume that her articles and her words from now on, are her own.”

“You’re sure about that, missy?” Rita spat out hatefully.

“Oh Rita, people will be curious at first as they always are. But over time, no one will second guess it. Give me some credit bug, subtlety was never your strong suit after all. The parchment for tomorrow’s story is charmed to you alone, and will not show for anyone else, so don’t try and modify it nor discuss it with anyone else. Your vow makes it quite impossible and the necklace will prevent you from doing so. If anyone else picks it up accidentally, it’s charmed to look like gibberish.”

“You’ve just thought of everything, haven’t you?” Rita sneered hatefully and Hermione nodded.

“I usually do. In any case, I’ll be checking in with you frequently. I think it might even be a good idea for you to do a lovely exclusive of myself and Draco when the timing is right. Showing how reformed the Malfoy family is and how welcoming they’ve been to me.”

Hermione’s gaze locked with Narcissa and the witch bowed her head at the direct hit. Again, Miss Granger was proving to be quite formidable.

“You may leave now, bug.” Hermione grinned. “And don’t forget to inform me should Miss Greengrass or Mr. Nott contact you again?”

“Of course.” Rita snarled, before she disapparated away.

Once she was gone, Draco came over and enveloped Hermione into a deep kiss...his eyes alight with passion.

“You’re amazing, love.”

“I have my moments.” She replied happily before her gaze met the icy blue eyes of the Malfoy Matriarch.

Narcissa walked over and moved her arm into her husband’s, his grey eyes smoldering in their intensity as he watched his wife’s reaction closely, clearly deferring to her.

“I must say, Miss Granger, I clearly had my reservations about your relationship with my son and grandson. However, it seems that perhaps I was mistaken in that regard. I am curious in how you plan to deal with Miss Greengrass and Mr. Nott?”

“Oh, I would imagine that both of them likely feel quite secure at the moment. I’d also imagine that might change after tomorrow’s article. However, I’m inclined to follow Draco’s lead on this one. He knows them both far better than I do, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. It’s never a good idea to move against someone without all your bases covered.”

“No it isn’t. I would very much like you to join me for tea sometime soon, Miss Granger. I do believe we have much to discuss.”

“I would be honored, Lady Malfoy.”

“Do you have an aversion to joining me at the Manor?”

Hermione’s expression was unruffled as she clearly expected this, knowing the Malfoy’s as she did. She did however, feel Draco stiffen against her as his gaze narrowed towards his parents.

“Mother, that is quite unnecessary.”

Hermione squeezed his arm reassuringly. “I have no concerns over attending tea there, Lady Malfoy.” Hermione’s gaze then landed on the elder Malfoy as she continued, “I would have to insist that Draco and Scorpius remain here. I’m sure you both understand.”

Narcissa understood all too well. It was clear that the young witch was drawing boundaries where Scorpius was concerned and it was also clear that Draco had shared more with the young witch than Narcissa originally suspected.

Lucius stiffened at the innuendo, but the Muggleborn’s expression didn’t waver.

“If we are going to forge new ground, and that is my hope here, then I would have your word that Scorpius will never be subjected to anything but your fervent love and devotion to his well-being. I know this might not seem like an appropriate time to discuss this, but it’s the one thing I won’t compromise on. I will protect him with my life if needed. That goes for your son as well.”

Narcissa smiled genuinely at the fierce expression on the other witch’s face.

Draco was right.  Miss Granger would make a fine Lady Malfoy when the time came.

“You have my word, Miss Granger. Mine and my husband’s.”

Brown eyes locked with grey and Lucius Malfoy nodded stoically. “It would appear as if I have little choice in the matter. However,” he was quick to continue as he noticed his son’s scowling expression, “I have no interest in bringing harm to my grandson.”

“Does the Malfoy family traditions allow you to make that concession?”

Lucius chuckled deeply, as he considered the young witch with admiration. “You truly are a force to be reckoned with.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then?”

“The Lord of the Manor has many duties as well as powers at his disposal. I suppose it might be wise to have a closer look into some of my family’s more questionable traditions.”

“I would be happy to offer any assistance should you require it, Lord Malfoy.” Hermione’s voice was placid, but her eyes were not.

“Do I have a choice?”

“Of course. Life is full of choices, I’m told.”

Lucius chuckled again as he nodded to both his son and his son’s paramour.

“I think it’s time for your Mother and I to return home Draco. Do keep us in the loop.”

“Of course, Father.”

“It was lovely to have you both here this evening, Lord and Lady Malfoy.” Hermione offered politely.

“It’s been a very educational evening, Miss Granger. Expect my owl, soon.”

“Of course.”

And with that, Draco’s parents floo’d back to the Manor; leaving a certain wizard grinning victoriously at his witch.

“Merlin witch, I adore you.”

“That’s good to know darling. But for the record, I’m rather fond of you as well. Let’s go get Scorpius.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Chapter Text

When Lucius and Narcissa entered the Manor, Lucius escorted his wife back to his study. She was awfully quiet and Lucius knew his wife well enough to know that she was processing what had just occurred.

He sat her down and went to gather two glasses of firewhiskey, knowing at this point she’d prefer something stronger than her usual elf wine.

After a delicate sip, his wife’s cold blue gaze met his as she fiddled with her glass.

“It would seem that we severely underestimated that witch.”

Lucius nodded, wondering where his wife was going with this. Luckily he didn’t have long to ponder his own thoughts as she spoke up again.

“I know this situation is less than ideal. The girl may be of Muggle Aristocracy, but she’s still a Muggleborn.”

“Yes she is,” Lucius took another sip of his firewhiskey, feeling it burn down his throat, “you did give our consent though. I see that you’re regretting it already.”

“Yes and no,” Narcissa admitted, “she is very different from the young witch I remember from the papers from after the war. Dowdy, mousy and altogether forgettable in every way. That witch we saw tonight, was none of those things.”

“Perhaps she was careful to keep her true self hidden.”

“Why? She was a noted War Heroine? Best friend of the Chosen One. Why pretend to be something you’re not?”

“Or the other way around?”

Narcissa hummed thoughtfully. “Their relationship is rather quick, don’t you think?”

“I do, but I’m not convinced it’s not genuine. At least on Draco’s end.”

“Do you think she is looking for revenge after all this time?”

Lucius lifted an eyebrow as he considered all the possibilities. “I would tend to think so, if it wasn’t for Scorpius. It is clear that Miss Granger holds our grandson deeply in her affections. I don’t doubt that those feelings are genuine enough.”

“I still feel like there’s something I’m not seeing.”

Lucius nodded again as he continued to sip on his firewhiskey.

“You truly intend to invite that witch into our home and break bread with her?”

Narcissa’s lips thinned, but she nodded in return.

“Until I can figure out what has me on edge with all of this, I’m inclined to keep the witch close. If I do find that she is using our son and grandson for some nefarious purpose, I will have no compunction in destroying her.”

“Of that I have no doubt, my love.”

Elsewhere in Surrey, Draco had just watched Pansy and Blaise leave and was walking back towards Scorpius’ bedroom. He heard his son’s giggles and then Mine’s gentle laugh as she continued to read him his favorite story.

He walked into the room with a genuine smile upon his face. Scorpius called out for him and he sauntered over, sitting down next to them both and listening in as Mine finished the story. When it was done, he took his son and got him ready for bed. They both tucked him in and Draco set the wards before leaving the room.

When they got to his bedroom, he enveloped his witch into a passionate kiss. After a few seconds she pulled away and took his hand, leading him over to the edge of the bed.

“Everything okay?”

Hermione shrugged as she took a deep cleansing breath. “I’m alright. I’m actually glad that’s over with. I was terrified it wasn’t going to work.”

Draco lifted her gaze to meet his. “You were scared? I didn’t get that at all.

Hermione smiled wanly. “It’s not as if I enjoy hurting other people, Draco. Even those who deserve it like Skeeter. Perhaps that is why I’d would’ve never made a good Slytherin because much of the scheming and cunning required of being in your former house, doesn’t come innately to me despite what you saw tonight. I was just so angry that after all this time that nothing had changed.”

Draco enveloped her into his side and kissed her forehead tenderly.

“A lot has changed. Look at us?”

“Yes, but we barely know each other and I’m not convinced that once you know everything, you’ll want to stay with me.”

Draco’s expression was confused as he pulled back and turned towards her, his face questioning.

“I don’t understand.”

Hermione sighed heavily and pulled back, before she sat up on the bed making sure to keep a bit of distance between them.

“You never asked me why I left all those years ago? You’d assumed as most people did, but the real reasons were far more painful.”

“I’m not sure I’m following. You had a fall out with Potter and Weasley?”

Hermione nodded once, her hands twisting in her lap as she considered the best way to go about this.

“Ron and I dated as you know, after the war. I had asked Kingsley to find my parents, so I could restore their memories.”

“And you weren’t able to.”

Hermione sighed again, this time almost in pain. “According to the Memory Healer experts, the effects of the charm couldn’t be undone without some memory scarring. It was likely that if my parents did remember, they might not remember everything and there was a larger part of me that was terrified if they did, they’d be so angry at me for taking their choice they’d never forgive me. It was cowardly of me to not even try and make the attempt, but the risks outweighed the benefits, so I let it be.”

“Okay, that’s completely understandable.”

“There’s more.”

Draco sat back warily, feeling a sense of foreboding fill his gut.

“Alright, whatever it is we can deal with it together.”

Hermione laughed, a harsh sound that set Draco on edge.

“That’s what Ron said too. He didn’t mean it though.”

“What does Weasley have to do with any of this?”

Hermione’s eyes met his and they were pained and haunted. Draco’s breath caught as he went to reach for her hand, but she refused to give it to him.

“Directly after the war and before I returned to Hogwarts, I went to see a Healer. Your Aunt Andromeda actually. I was having some issues and wanted to get checked out. Ron and I were official and he was already talking marriage and a family. I wanted to finish school, but we had agreed that after I was done at Hogwarts, we’d get married.”

Draco didn’t know what to say to that so he asked, “What happened? Obviously something happened to make you run?”

“When I left for school that September everything had been wonderful. Things with Ron were good and he understood that I wanted to wait to consummate our relationship until after we were married. He was so sweet and understanding and I loved him desperately for it. About a month after school started, I began to have some issues. Nothing drastic, but enough to let me know something was wrong. I went to Madam Pomfrey, and she contacted Andromeda at St. Mungo’s. I floo’d directly there and after a series of tests, it was discovered that I can’t have children of my own.”

Draco face paled completely as he gasped out in shocked horror.

How?”

“Prolonged repeated exposure to Dark Magic.” She said softly, her gaze wary as she took in his expression.

Draco stood up and began to pace frantically thinking about what that meant.

She’d been cursed by Dolohov and his Aunt.

Fuck!

He’d watched her being tortured in his own home!

His grey eyes met hers and they were filled with questions. “Why didn’t you tell me this when I’d mentioned wanting a family before?”

“That’s not fair, Draco! We had just started seeing each other and yes, it was fast but it felt right. I was going to tell you; but I’d figured with this coming out now it was likely that Ron, once he found out would throw it back into my face and yours.”

Draco nodded at that assertion. Weasley was a prick and he’d do just that if it meant hurting him and Hermione.

“Did Potter know? Is that why Weasley cheated?”

Hermione nodded to both. “I told Harry after I found out about Ron cheating. I had gone to the Burrow and told Ron right after I found out the test results. Ron had seemed understanding at first, but then I started hearing rumors at school. When I got the letter breaking it off, I told Harry everything. I still don’t know if Ron truly left me because of my not being able to have children, or if he just enjoyed the obvious perks of being a War Hero and having witches throwing themselves in his general direction. He’d always felt inferior to his brother’s and Harry. I’m sure it was flattering for him.”

“And even with all that, Potter still sided with Weasley?”

“He tried to make excuses for Ron. How important having a big family was to Ron. That it wasn’t fair of me to expect Ron to give up that dream after everything that had happened.”

“After everything that had happened!?” Draco’s voice elevated on each word. “You mean, after you were tortured to save those ungrateful pricks and I stood by and watched it happen? You mean that everything!?”

Hermione flinched but didn’t respond at all. Draco sighed and sat down in a chair across from the bed, eyeing the small witch who was bracing herself for more pain.

“You think I’m going to leave you because of this, don’t you?”

Hermione shrugged but didn’t say anything.

“Do you really think so little of me that I’d do that?” Draco’s voice was laced with hurt as he considered his witch.

“Your parent’s, while appeased momentarily...once they find out about this they aren’t going to be happy. Or maybe they will, since I won’t be sullying the Malfoy line by bringing a half-blood into the equation.”

“That’s uncalled for.”

“No, it’s not, Draco and you know it. What I did tonight was in a way to prove to them that I’m not to be trifled with. I won’t allow your parents to intimidate me and I won’t fall victim to them ever again.”

“And me? Do you see me like you see my parents?”

“Draco! I would’ve never slept with you and given myself to you if I thought those things about you anymore.”

Draco huffed but he didn’t respond as he stared over her shoulder. Hermione could see he clearly didn’t believe her entirely; and she sighed standing up, making to move out of Draco’s bedroom.

“Where are you going?” He asked with a tinge of panic to his voice.

“I’m heading home to Verona. I think you need time to process all this. I should’ve told you sooner and for that I’m sorry. If you decide this isn’t right for you and Scorpius, I will understand.”

Draco stood up quickly and pushed the door closed when Hermione went to open it. He melded his body flush with hers.

You’d leave?”

“I wouldn’t want you to make a decision based on anything but calm reflection.”

“I’m not Weasley, Mine. I’m not going to turn away from you when you need me the most. I can’t imagine what you’ve been feeling all these years and I finally understand why you left. But I don’t want you to leave. You’re mine and I’m yours.”

Hermione’s body sagged as her forehead hit the door with a quiet thud.

“You mean that, don’t you?”

“I do,” he whispered deeply into her ear. “I had wondered why you’d attached yourself so quickly to Scorpius. But it makes so much more sense now.”

Hermione turned around and Draco could see the silent tears flowing down her cheeks. He gently wiped them away as he waited for her to decide.

“It’s why I decided to become an author, you know?”

He shook his head and she grinned tremulously in response. “Catharsis. My stories were my way of putting it all behind me. Each book has represented a different part of my relationship with Harry and Ron. It was my way of letting it go and moving on.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, oh.”

“And then I barreled my way into your life.”

“Well, you and Scorpius. I’m terrified of screwing this up and not being a good mother to Scorpius. I’m scared that no one will accept us together and you’ll come to resent me because of it. I’m frightened that someday in the future, you’ll look at me and decide I’m not enough because I can’t give you more children. Sometimes I wonder if it is better to be alone. That way I don’t have to feel this way.”

Draco swallowed heavily and his heart broke for his witch who was clearly deeply scarred.

But fucking Salazar, she was good at hiding it!

“I’m not going anywhere. You have my word, Mine. I know this is all sudden but it feels right?”

“It does, strange as that is to admit. You know it’s going to get ugly? Especially when Ron and his family find out.”

Draco nodded. “And Potter?”

Hermione turned her face away as she bit her lip hard in contemplation. “Harry was never good at admitting when he was wrong.”

Draco chuckled and had to silently agree with that assessment as well.

“He came after you as soon as he heard?”

“Are you defending Harry to me?”

This got a full on belly laugh as Draco shook his head fiercely. “Merlin, no! I’ve never liked the tosser, you know that. But, you loved him like a brother and sacrificed everything for him, Mine. A bond like that doesn’t just disappear no matter how hard we wish it would.”

“You think I need to face him?”

“I think you need to do it on your terms. Like you did with Skeeter. You’re much more effective when you’re in control, you always have been.”

Hermione smiled softly as she ran a loving hand through Draco’s hair. His hum of pleasure made her heart feel a bit better.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For staying. For wanting me, broken and all.”

Draco smiled and then kissed her tenderly. The action full of promise and love.

“We’re all broken in some way, Mine. Some scars heal; others don’t. But you have to know that I’ll do whatever you need me to do to help you deal with yours.”

“And I plan on returning that favor.”

“Good, now if it’s alright with you...I’d like to take you to bed and make love to you all night long.”

Wrapping her arms around her wizard’s shoulders, Hermione’s smile was blinding as she whispered out, “Please do.”

Chapter Text

When the morning finally came, Draco found himself once again draped firmly around his witch. He’d spent the better part of last night worshipping every inch of his Mine’s delectable body and he lost count how many times he’d made her come. They’d both fallen asleep sometime in the wee hours of the early morning, but Draco couldn’t lament the loss of sleep.

It had been well worth it.

His heart was still tender after what had been shared the previous evening. Of all the things he’d imagined for his life, he’d never believed that he’d have this chance with Hermione. But to discover that after everything she’d been through—due to his inaction, it didn’t matter—the guilt and sorrow he felt were worse than when he’d lost Astoria.

How would he ever be able to make it up to her?

And how could have Weasel and Potter been so cruel as to hurt his Mine in such a way?

Draco could well understand her need to leave England, but sadly it also explained so much more.

It was still a bit unfathomable that Mine had chosen to forgive him after everything that had happened from their shared past. She had looked beyond the hateful boy he’d been and seen the man he’d desperately strived to become. In school, he’d always thought she’d been recklessly brave but he’d never realized just how courageous she was until last night. If he hadn’t seen her fall apart after she’d summarily destroyed Rita Skeeter and secured a tentative truce from his parents, he might’ve just dismissed her actions as nothing more than cunning and cleverness. But now, he knew better.

It was inherent self-preservation that had guided her actions last night.

If Draco really thought about it, he would have to admit that most of her actions during and after Hogwarts could be attributed to that. She had stayed by Potter’s side because she’d loved him like family, but also because instinctively she’d known that had Potter lost the war—she’d lose everything too. She’d lost her parents, her best mates, her home—but apparently the fates had decided that wasn’t enough as she’d also lost the ability to have a family of her very own. It was no wonder she hadn’t wanted to be surrounded by constant reminders of all she’d lost.

He had meant it when he’d encouraged her to try and resolve her issues with Potter. Whatever the git’s faults were; and Draco was sure there were many...Hermione needed to heal and move on with her life. And she couldn’t do that without getting some kind of closure with her former best friend.

He sighed and felt his witch instinctively respond as her body melted into his embrace. Draco couldn’t help but smile softly at how at peace she appeared. He knew at this moment, he could easily spend the rest of his life staring down into his witch’s angelic face every morning. All would be right in his world if each day started this way.

It was simply put—a dream come true.

“You’re staring.” The words were whispered on a breathy sigh.

“I can’t help it,” Draco admitted playfully, biting down on her shoulder with a forceful nip. “You’re so beautiful when you’re asleep.”

A lazy smile found its way onto her lips as amber eyes fluttered open.

“Only when I’m asleep?”

Draco chuckled deeply, his chest rumbling with amusement.

“Minx.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“Was it meant to be one?”

Hermione opened her eyes completely and looked up over her shoulder into warm grey eyes that were filled with happiness.

“Of course it was.”

“Hmm, I think you’re just fishing for compliments.”

“Absolutely not,” she grinned at their banter.

“You’re sure about that, Mine?”

“Quite.”

“That’s good to know,” Draco smirked as he rolled her underneath him, “because I usually limit my compliments to one per day.”

“Only one? I suppose I must reluctantly, make do then. However, if we’re going by past precedent? I should feel flattered and lucky that I get even that from you.”

Draco’s gaze darkened as his mouth pulled into a bit of a frown.

“I thought we weren’t going to drag out the past?”

Hermione laughed at her wizard’s pouting face. “Did we? I don’t remember agreeing to those terms. Did we have a contractual agreement of some sort I’m unaware of?”

“You’re in a playful mood this morning.”

“Nice way to change the subject.”

“I was doing no such thing.”

“Sure.”

Draco pressed his lips against hers in a demanding kiss and their banter was momentarily forgotten in a haze of mutual desire. After a while, Hermione broke the kiss and beamed up at her wizard.

“Is that how you intend to win all our discussions?”

“Probably.”

“That’s cheating!”

“Semantics.”

She couldn’t help the joyous giggle that erupted from her at Draco’s wicked wit. She truly enjoyed sparring with him but unlike when they were children and the barbs had been pointed and brutal; now it was filled with warmth and fun.

“Are we talking formal semantics, lexical semantics or conceptual semantics?”

The shocked look on Draco’s face was priceless, before he broke out into rich laughter. Hermione really couldn’t help the swarm of butterflies that had taken permanent residence in her stomach at how handsome her wizard was when he was like this.

“You’re such a know it all swot. I secretly found it both annoying and endearing in school, but now I just think you’re exquisite.”

“Careful Draco—that’s two compliments already today.”

Draco kissed her again and then pinched her side causing her to squeal as she tried to move away from his tickling fingers.

His laughter was infectious though and soon both of them were rolling around the bed trying to find the ticklish spots on each other until Hermione was straddling his waist. Her hair was in complete disarray, cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling—Draco thought she’d never looked lovelier than at this moment.

“Is it too soon to tell you that I’m completely enamoured of you?”

Hermione’s breath caught as she stared wide-eyed down at Draco, who’s expression was completely open and serious.

“No, I don’t think it is. I’m quite taken with you too.”

“Good.” Draco grabbed his wand and checked the time, groaning when he realized that Scorpius would probably be awake shortly. “You hungry?”

“After last night? I’m starving.”

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Are you offering to cook?”

“Nope. I was thinking about asking Mippy to cook us something this morning.”

There was a sudden ‘pop’ and then Mippy was there.

“Did’s Master call for Mippy?”

Hermione screeched in embarrassment and dove back under the covers with a startled yelp.

“No, Mippy, but now that you’re here?  Could you start on breakfast?”

“Of’s course, Master.”

Another ‘pop’ signaled the dismissal of the elf, and Hermione peered out from under the blanket with a sour expression on her face.

“Not cool.”

Draco just chuckled. “Sorry, love.”

“What do you want to do today?”

“Well, I’m very interested in seeing this morning’s Prophet, and then I suppose we should discuss how to handle the Potter situation.”

“Do we have to?” Hermione moaned out unhappily as she pouted up at the ceiling.

Draco rolled onto his side and stared down indulgently, before taking his finger and tracing her bottom lip.

“Yes, we have to.”

“Fine! But just for the record, I think this is a horrible idea.”

“Duly noted. I’m fairly certain the Minister’s moral ambivalence doesn’t extend to the Boy Who Lived?”

“Probably safe to assume, yes.”

“Pity.” Draco mumbled with a slight smirk. “Because I would’ve paid good galleons to see you blackmail the git.”

Hermione laughed and then smiled widely as Draco’s wand vibrated, signaling that Scorpius was awake.

“Poor, baby. No blackmail for you today.”

“You can make it up to me in other ways, love. I’m sure I can think of something suitable.”

“Prat.”

“Of course. I’m going to go get Scorpius and you should get ready for the day. How about an afternoon excursion to Diagon Alley?”

Hermione’s gaze was knowing as she bit her lip and shook her head at her wizard.

“You’re trouble.”

“You can handle trouble, my love. In fact, you handled it quite well last night.”

Her giggles made him grin as he stood from the bed and grabbed his trousers and a pull over shirt.

“Are you sure you’re ready for the fall-out, Draco?”

Draco’s grey eyes were measured and resolved as he nodded. “Better to get this over with. Once the initial interest dies down, we can go about our lives normally.”

Hermione watched her wizard saunter out of their room with a worried frown. She wasn’t convinced that things would be so smooth sailing, but Draco was right. She wouldn’t hide their relationship and she wasn’t going anywhere. Not anymore.

Not ever again.

After she took her shower and got dressed, Hermione made her way into the kitchen where Draco was cutting up Scorpius’ fruit and her little man was humming happily as he ate his scrambled eggs.

“Mimi!” Scorpius cooed happily and Hermione couldn’t help but smile widely at how adorably cute her little man was.

“Good morning. Did you have good sleep last night?”

“Jes!” He grinned with a mouth full of egg.

“I’m happy to hear that.” Hermione sat down next to Scorpius and took the cut up banana that Draco handed to her, setting it down on Scorpius’ tray.

“You like bananas?”

“Jes! Yummy.”

Hermione giggled and looked up at Draco who winked playfully at her.

“They are his favorite.”

“I always liked them with Nutella when I was younger.”

Draco scrunched his face in confusion. “What’s Nutella?”

“It’s Muggle. A Hazelnut spread that you can put on toast, or dip bananas in.”

“How do you spread Hazelnut on toast?”

Hermione laughed and Scorpius giggled too, while Draco just sat down with an intrigued look on his face.

“We can go to the market and get some. I think you’ll both love it.”

Draco hummed thoughtfully but didn’t comment otherwise, while Hermione took a sip of the tea Draco had left for her under a stasis spell.

“There are many interesting Muggle inventions that you might enjoy?”

“Such as?”

“Well, Muggles have a wide variety of sweets that are quite different than Wizarding sweets. Candies, cookies, cakes...all unique to different parts of the world.”

“Like pancakes?”

“Exactly. Soda pop, alcohol...drinks vary from culture to culture.”

“Soda pop?”

“Yes. We can get a few things when we go out and you can judge for yourself. Muggles also have a wide variety of shops too. Clothing, shoes, lingerie...” Hermione’s voice fell away purposefully and Draco grinned at the insinuation.

“Now that is interesting and something I could definitely learn more about.”

“I’m sure you could. I am surprised that Pansy hasn’t educated you a bit more since she works in Muggle fashion?”

Draco shrugged, taking a bite of his eggs. He chewed thoughtfully for a moment and then swallowed.

“Pansy has gifted me with a few things, but honestly I wouldn’t have any reason to wear some of the stuff she’s given me.”

“Oh really?”

“Well, perhaps now I would...”

“You’ll have to show me.”

“I think that’s doable.” Draco grinned. “So today?”

Hermione went to respond when Draco’s floo activated and she lifted an eyebrow in challenge.

“Do people just come and go as they please?”

“Only Blaise, Pansy and my parents.”

“Hmmm.” She replied taking another sip of her tea. She wasn’t surprised when Narcissa came walking into the kitchen with a copy of the Prophet in her hand.

“Good morning, darlings.”

“Hello, Mother.” Draco stood up and kissed his mother’s cheek, before pulling out a seat for her at the table. “Would you like some tea? Have you eaten yet?”

Narcissa nodded regally. “Your Father and I already had our morning meal, but a cup of tea would not go remiss.”

“Mippy.”

The elf ‘popped’ into the kitchen and promptly served Narcissa a cuppa.

When the elf left, Narcissa handed the paper to her son’s paramour while Draco busied himself preparing his Mother’s tea exactly as she preferred.

Hermione opened the paper and smirked, reading the headline:

 

 

War Heroine Returns to Wizarding World

 

By: Rita Skeeter

 

Dear Readers,

Upon learning of the return of our very own War Heroine, I made it a priority to confirm the truth of Miss Granger’s return and subsequent impetus in doing so. What I discovered, while shocking to some, served to soften even this weathered reporter’s mind and views.

After helping the Boy Who Vanquished defeat the most evil wizard the Wizarding World has ever known, Miss Granger decided to fade into obscurity. Her goal: to lead a normal life away from the prying eyes of the public and to follow her passion. Her love of knowledge has always been at the forefront of her desire to learn more about magic but her passion for literature fueled her endeavor to take on the unexpected. It was therefore, surprising when this reporter learned exactly what Miss Granger has been up to these past several years.

Under a powerful self-made glamour, Hermione Granger is in fact: Astrid Devereaux, noted children’s author and world-wide best seller of the Imogene series. Last evening I met with Miss Devereaux and was given an exclusive to end all exclusives. When the glamour dropped, I was left speechless. It would seem that the Imogene series of books are based on real life experiences of Miss Granger’s from her time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. These beloved books—that have sold millions of copies worldwide—were simply a means to help our very own War Heroine heal from the trauma’s she suffered during wartime and to move on to a more positive future.

Therefore it was little surprise to note that her last book entitled Imogene meets a Hippogriff, was dedicated to her Number One Fan: a young boy she’d met during her Flourish and Blotts signing— Scorpius Malfoy.

Miss Granger’s heart went out that day towards the young lad, and that meeting bore unexpected fruit as several months later she was reintroduced to the young tot and his Father in Italy, where she currently resides and owns her own bookstore in Verona.

If I had not witnessed the disarming and genuine affection between our War Heroine and the Malfoy Heir, I might’ve not believed it myself. But it serves to remind us readers, that whilst the scars of the War remain ever present in our minds—change comes in the unlikeliest of places.

It is unknown how the former members of the Golden Trio will look upon Miss Granger’s new relationship with their former Slytherin Classmate. Will they allow old prejudices to rule, or will cooler heads prevail? Only time will tell.

We will keep you appraised of all the developing drama as the story continues to unfold...

 

 

Hermione set the paper down and gave Narcissa a satisfied smirk.

Lady Malfoy took a measured sip of her tea, her ice blue eyes calculating the young witch before her.

“Well, at least Rita’s article was exactly as I’d written it.”

“Hmm, it was quite the story. Very sympathetic, but based in fact. No one could dare refute the veracity of the story either. Very well played, Miss Granger.”

Hermione bowed her head in thanks at the veiled compliment. “I’m afraid it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better though.”

“In what way?” Narcissa’s gaze narrowed and Draco sighed, reaching for his witch’s hand with a questioning look. She nodded to him and allowed him to take point.

“Hermione shared with me last night why she really left Britain and what the real story was behind her break-up with Weasley.”

“Which was?”

Draco looked to his witch one last time, silently asking for permission. Hermione nodded again and Draco smiled lovingly at his witch before he pressed on...

“Apparently, after the War...Hermione discovered that due to the traumas that she suffered from Dolohov’s curse at the end of our fifth year and the torture she’d endured in our ancestral home—she is unable to bear children. When Weasley was told, instead of supporting her through it he chose to cheat on Hermione. Potter didn’t take Hermione’s side after everything, so she chose to leave Britain indefinitely.”

Narcissa paled as her gaze locked onto the stoic one of the witch sitting across from her. It was several minutes before she could form the words to speak.

“Who confirmed this to you?”

“A Healer at St. Mungo’s. Andromeda Tonks.”

Narcissa swallowed heavily as she nodded in understanding. Whilst she may not have spoken to her sister in over twenty years, Andromeda was a gifted healer. Her blue eyes met the grey of her son and grandson, who were both watching her with the same expression on their faces.

“And you believe that Mr. Weasley, now that your relationship with Draco is confirmed, fully intends to use this information to disparage yourself and your relationship with my son?”

Hermione nodded. “Knowing Ron as I do, and his prejudiced views in regards to your son...he will most likely do exactly that.”

“And how do you feel about this?”

“I can’t change it, but I can mitigate the damage. Hence why I chose to go after Rita first. By reigning her in, its unlikely Ron will find a sympathetic ear to smear myself or Draco.”

“Very Slytherin, Miss Granger.” Narcissa nodded slowly. “I would tend to think that someone in your position might hold a great deal of animosity towards those who watched you suffer?”

Hermione’s gaze narrowed while Draco just scoffed at his mother.

“It’s a fair question, My Dragon. I’m sure the thought passed through your mind, even if it was fleeting?”

Draco didn’t answer and Hermione sighed as she squeezed his hand.

“No, it’s a fair question. What happened can’t be changed. Your questionably sane sister, for all her prowess in Dark Magic’s, couldn’t break my spirit even if she broke my body. I have no illusions to think that both yourself and Lord Malfoy wouldn’t be certainly relieved by this news—even if you do bear at least some peripheral responsibility. However, your timely lie saved Harry and as a result, saved us all from a lifetime of servitude to a despotic madman. I don’t expect we will ever be anything more than tolerant of each other. Mutual respect has been borne from less I suppose, and whatever you may think of my reasons for attaching myself to your son and grandson—I have no doubt should you even suspect a whiff of duplicity on my part, your questionable moral compass wouldn’t hesitate in seeking to end my existence. Correct?”

Narcissa genuinely smiled as she nodded once.

She truly had underestimated this witch.

It was unfortunate that her heritage was such as it was, but perhaps it was time to re-evaluate certain long held beliefs. Times were changing and perhaps she needed to adapt to those changes with greater aplomb and grace.

“What is it you’re after, Miss Granger? Whilst I have no doubt your affection for my son and grandson is genuine—that article was the foundation of something more.”

“You’re right, Lady Malfoy. It was.”

“And that would be?”

Hermione turned her gaze on Draco, who’s own curious expression was tinged with fond amusement. It was almost as if he knew exactly what she was about to say.

“And if I told you that I fully intend on seeing myself ensconced within the office of the Minister for Magic within a decade?”

Narcissa smirked and noticed the pleased grin forming on her son’s face. “Then I would have only one question?”

“Why?”

“Yes, Miss Granger.”

Hermione’s gaze moved to Scorpius and she gently ran a hand through his soft blonde locks and Narcissa immediately understood the larger picture. All this, was to assure Scorpius’ future. Not as an outcast from a disgraced family, but as the son of the most powerful witch in the Wizarding World. No one would dare touch the Malfoy family with one of its members in such a strategic position of influence and power.

“And you think this is possible?”

“I’d already spoken to Kingsley about this before I left the first time. He fully intended on having me succeed him when his time as Minister came to a close. He promised to offer his full support.”

Draco chuckled fondly while Narcissa just considered what this meant. “And why would the Minister for Magic be so accommodating?”

“Because he’s a very smart man.” Draco interrupted, causing Hermione to smile at him adoringly.

Chapter Text

When the early afternoon came, (and Narcissa had finally returned back to Malfoy Manor but not before extracting a date for tea from Hermione), the small family finally made their way to Diagon Alley.

This would be the first test. The response they would receive today, especially after Rita’s article— would be telling. There were several witches and wizards that had been perplexed and downright confused by Rita’s complete change of tenor—everybody except Harry Potter, who had read the Prophet that morning as he was having breakfast with Luna.

He’d handed his girlfriend the article and Luna in her simple yet knowing way, had hummed thoughtfully and said, “It would seem that Hermione has finally put that nasty infestation of Nargles behind her.”

Harry had smiled fondly at Luna, but he hadn’t been fooled. Hermione had somehow managed to blackmail Rita again into backing off. He didn’t know whether to be proud or disgusted by her actions. Luna had called him out on his hypocrisy though. Stating that it wasn’t fair of him to hold something against Hermione that he’d benefitted from once upon a time. He’d been properly chastened, even if it had been a tough pill to swallow.

Over at the Weasley household, it was another matter entirely as Ron was fuming at the article while Bill, Percy and George just sat there and rolled their eyes at their brother’s histrionics all the while Molly tutted and shook her head in exasperation.

“I always knew that girl was nothing but trouble.” Molly offered in a condescending voice.

“Yeah,” George chimed in unhelpfully, “If it hadn’t been for Hermione—Harry and Ronnikins here would’ve never passed school much less stayed alive for seven years.”

Ron glared heatedly at his older brother, while Molly slapped George with her dish towel.

“That’s enough, George.”

“But it’s not, Mum. I don’t know why you always coddle Ron from his poor choices?” Percy spoke up in his normally droll tone, but his expression clearly showed his exasperation with his youngest brother. “And besides, I thought you loved those books, Mum? You read them enough to Victoire.”

Bill grinned and nodded, amused by his Mother’s gasp of outrage. “Percy’s right, Mum. I never did understand why you were so hard on Hermione. Ron broke up with her, not the other way around? In fact, if memory serves?  He blindsided her while she was still at school.”

“I do believe you’re right about that, brother dear.” George piped in with a menacing smile towards his youngest brother. “So I don’t understand why either one of you feel it’s necessary to feel as though Ron’s the wronged party in all this. Is it because she’s with Malfoy?”

“He’s a slimy Death Eater!” Ron bellowed, his face splotchy and red.

Standing up, George just gave his brother a look of utter loathing.

“I’m leaving. I’m not listening to this rubbish.”

“That right, George! Take her side! Don’t think I don’t know that you still deposit money every month into an account for Mione since she left!”

Molly turned and gaped at her elder son, who just scoffed in disgust at his idiotic sibling.

“Of course I do. She invented several of my best sellers, you daft dimbo! Why wouldn’t I make good on that?”

“George Fabian Weasley! You don’t need to talk to your brother so harshly!”

“Of course I do! He’s a blithering fool, Mum. Just look at him! He’s going to go out and cause trouble all because he’s a jealous prat. You didn’t want Hermione, Ron...or have you forgotten how you brutally dumped her?”

“I didn’t dump her!”

“Then what would you call it? Just taking a bit of break for three years while you decided to shag everything in a skirt?”

Ron’s face reddened even further (if such a thing was possible) while Molly just screeched at her children to stop acting out.

“You don’t understand, George! You don’t know what happened!”

George’s expression darkened even further as he gave his younger brother his most scathing glare.

“You’d be wrong in that assumption. You might’ve not told Mum and Da the real reason you broke it off with Hermione, but Harry was more than happy to share the truth with me, and you should be ashamed of yourself!”

Both Bill and Percy seemed confused, while Molly just waved her hand off like George was being ridiculous.

“We all know why Ronald ended things with Hermione, George. He wanted to get married and start and family and she didn’t.”

George scoffed loudly, shaking his head in exasperation. “You’re really a right piece of work, brother.” George then turned and face his Mother, who clearly didn’t want to hear anything more on the subject. “For the record, Mum? Ron left Hermione because she found out due to being cursed during the war by Dolohov and then Bellatrix, that she couldn’t have children. When she told dear Ronnikins...he dumped her.”

The expressions on everyone’s faces were priceless. George looked victorious and vindicated, Bill was stunned while Percy just sneered in contempt. Ron’s face had now paled several shades and Molly just kept shaking her head ‘no’ as she tutted that Ron would never do such a thing.

“He did, Mum. Take your blinders off.”

George clasped Bill’s shoulder as his eldest brother just scoffed in disgust and was shaking his head like he couldn’t stand to even look at his youngest brother.

“I think it’s time I left, Mum.” Bill stood up and called for Victorie, who came running with Teddy from outside. “I promised Meda I’d bring Teddy home today.” He then turned to his brother and said, “I tend to believe George on this one, Ron. I suggest you leave Hermione alone. I think you’ve done enough damage to the poor girl.”

“She’s not poor if what the Prophet said is true.” Percy pointed out, as he stood up to follow his siblings. “I’d always thought she could do better for herself than to be the sidekick of you and Harry and if Malfoy is who she wants to be with?” Percy left the statement open-ended as he nodded goodbye to his mother and left through the floo, back to the Ministry.

Ron watched his brother’s leave and sat down at the table, grabbing a muffin and chewing on it angrily. Who were they to judge him? He was a War Hero and part of the Golden Trio! He couldn’t believe Harry had outed him! It wasn’t like they were still best mates, but Harry had taken his side over Mione...at least at first.

“Your brother’s will come around, Dearie.” Molly patted his shoulder and bustled about in the kitchen cleaning the dishes after breakfast.

“You know I’d never do something think that, right Mum?”

“Of course not, Ronald. And even if it was true, that’s no excuse for Hermione attaching herself to that family after everything that happened during the war.”

Ron nodded firmly, feeling a bit more vindicated by his Mother’s words.

Back at the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione emerged from the floo first and took a quick glance around before her eyes landed on a familiar face. Neville stood up and grinned and her, holding his arms out in welcome.

She smiled in relief and went over to give her old friend and quick hug as the floo flashed behind her and she could hear Scorpius calling for her. Neville’s gaze lifted over her head and Hermione could feel his posture stiffening as he considered the wizard behind her. Looking over her shoulder, she smiled in welcome and held out her hand for both Draco and Scorpius.

“Mimi!” The young blonde boy held out his arms for her and she immediately scooped him into her embrace while Draco and Neville stared each other down.

“Please behave, the both of you.” Hermione whispered softly as she gave Scorpius a cuddle.

“I’m very well behaved, love.” Draco smirked and Neville just coughed out at that comment.

His gaze landed back on Hermione, who was holding Malfoy’s son and the tot clearly looked like he belonged there.

“You sure about this, Mione?”

“Yes, Neville.”

Neville nodded in resignation, before he held his right hand out for the other wizard to shake. Draco looked down at the proffered peace offering before clasping Longbottom’s hand firmly within his grasp.

“You’re a good wizard and friend, Longbottom.”

“Don’t make me regret it, Malfoy.”

Draco nodded and Hermione beamed brightly between the two. She then heard her name being called and she gazed back over her shoulder and noticed Hannah Abbott smiling widely at her.

“I almost didn’t believe the paper this morning but now that I’ve seen you? My questions have been put to rest.” The witch came over and gave Hermione a welcome peck on the cheek.

“It’s good to see you too, Hannah. What are you doing here?”

Hannah moved over to Neville and the wizard pulled her into his side.

“I own the Leaky now. Well, Neville and I do. During the school year he’s at Hogwarts. Took over for Professor Sprout about a year ago.”

Hermione offered her heartfelt congratulations to the pair. “That’s brilliant. For the both of you.”

“We are getting married next month. You must come.” Hannah offered and Hermione smiled graciously and nodded.

“We will definitely be happy to come.”

“Good.” Hannah’s attention turned to Scorpius, who was silently sucking his thumb but his big grey eyes were clearly taking everything in. “Who is this cutie pie?”

“This is Scorpius.”

“Hello, Scorpius.” Hannah said softly and the young boy just grinned slightly though he kept his thumb in his mouth. “Are you all heading into Diagon?”

Hermione nodded. “We are.”

Hannah gave Neville a quick nod and the wizard sighed but moved towards the back wall.

“Mind some company?”

Hermione looked between Hannah and Neville with a curious expression. “Do we need the extra protection?”

Neville shrugged. “Don’t know. Most of the patrons this morning have been rather quiet on the subject, but since this is your first time back, it might be wise to have another friendly face along for the ride.”

Hermione glanced at Draco, who nodded once.

“Okay. Thank you, Neville.”

Together the trio plus Scorpius moved into Diagon Alley and Hermione’s heart clenched at the sight. She hadn’t been here as herself in a very long time. As if sensing her distress, Draco moved over and wrapped his arm around her waist in support. He then nodded to Neville and they moved out into the Alley proper.

As they walked down the street, their group was greeted with several stares. Some were of shock, but others seemed to be in awe. There were a few of disgust and Draco just sneered haughtily back at those small minded fools, many whom he recognized.

Neville thankfully, kept up a small chattering of conversation casually pointing out a few changes here and there. When they got to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Hermione paused instinctively for a moment before deciding to move along, but a voice stopped her progress.

“Are you not going to come inside and say ‘hello?’

Hermione turned and noticed Luna standing there, dressed as always in something that looked to be a mesh of whimsy and eclectic.

“Hello Luna. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m doing well. Your aura seems much more settled, and you no longer have that infestation of Nargles.”

Hermione smiled softly, while Draco just appeared flummoxed and Neville chuckled.

“That’s good to know, Luna.”

“So? Are you going inside to hello?”

“And just whom do I have to say hello to, Luna?”

Luna’s smile was dreamy as she walked over and stared at Scorpius, who was smiling toothily at her.

“Hello, Scorpius Malfoy. Aren’t you the sweetest?”

“Hi.”

Draco’s expression was clearly surprised but Hermione just nodded at her old friend.

“I’m Luna.”

“I’s Scrpus.”

“Yes, I know. You look just like your Daddy; except brighter.”

Hermione chuckled at Draco’s look, which was an interesting mix of pride and confusion. Then she saw Draco’s gaze fall over her shoulder and he visibly tensed as his arm pulled her into his side.

“What?” Her confusion gave way to understanding as she heard her name choked out from behind her.

“Hermione?”

Gazing back, Hermione’s eyes widened as she swallowed uncomfortably, and it took her a few tries before she could get the words out...

“Hello, Harry.”

Chapter Text

Harry Potter stared at his former best friend and then noticed the small child cocooned within her embrace. The miniature version of Draco Malfoy was staring at him with wide grey eyes as he clung to Hermione. Harry’s heart went out to his best friend, as she returned the young boy’s affections.

It was clear to him now why she’d bonded with Malfoy.

The silence was awkward and Harry couldn’t help but bristle at the almost smug look plastered on Malfoy’s face. It was crystal clear that the wizard knew the personal details of the falling out Hermione and he’d had over Ron’s mistreatment of her. It was a choice he’d come to regret greatly over the past three years.

“Perhaps we should venture inside, love?” Draco’s voice drawled out in that infuriating aristocratic way of his. “People are starting to take notice.”

Hermione turned her head and smiled gently at her wizard, nodding in acquiescence. Harry went into the shop first, followed by Luna and then Neville. Malfoy and Hermione came in last and when they were through, Harry gestured towards the back where George’s office was. The wizard had gone home to the Burrow for lunch to try and mitigate the almost certain fall-out from that morning’s Prophet article, and he’d not returned yet.

Harry nodded to Lee Jordan and Verity, who were working the counter together and both of them tried very hard not to openly gape at Malfoy and Hermione as they passed them by. Hermione politely nodded, whilst Malfoy just sneered in that infuriating was of his. When they’d reached the office, Harry allowed them entrance and then locked and warded the room.

When his gaze met Hermione’s, she didn’t flinch or give any outward sign of what she was thinking or feeling. She did however, turn to Malfoy and silently hand over Scorpius to him. The ferret’s lifted eyebrow was the only indication that he was curious as to what she had planned but he took the boy, curling him protectively within his embrace. Harry then watched warily as Hermione moved over until she was standing right in front of him, her face a placid mask of feigned disinterest.

He went to open his mouth to speak, completely unprepared for the left hook that landed smack into his nose, crumpling him to the ground with a shout.

He felt the blood before he tasted it, his glasses lying in a broken heap on the ground while Hermione was visibly shaking out her hand. Malfoy was chuckling while his son squealed and clapped happily. Neville and Luna both appeared shocked, although Luna’s expression wasn’t quite as surprised as it should’ve been. He narrowed his gaze at his girlfriend, who just shrugged as she smiled in that dreamy way of hers.

Harry flinched, cupping his nose in his hands, trying to stem the flow of blood. Luna tsked at him and waved her wand, murmuring an episky and then a scourgify. He yelped again, earning him another round of mirth from Malfoy who looked entirely too pleased with himself.

“Now that’s what I call karma.”

“Stuff it, ferret.” Harry groused out unhappily as he stood back up and faced his former friend who was trying very hard not to laugh. “Feel better?”

“Not even close.”

Harry sighed. “I deserved that.”

“Yes you did!” Hermione said heatedly as she walked over and poked his chest, emphasizing each word with a more determined point. “I will never understand how you could’ve take Ron’s side after everything.”

“I’m sorry. I really am for what it’s worth. I suppose I thought that it was a phase Ron had to work through. He’d leave...come back and you’d forgive him like you always do.”

Hermione did flinch at that more than accurate assessment. She had set a rather painful precedent in the past where Ron was concerned. The last time when he’d abandoned them in the Forest of Dean.

“It’s no excuse, Harry. It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t give Ron the family he wanted. I didn’t ask to be cursed by Dolohov or Bellatrix. I didn’t ask to be a broken shell of my former self.”

Harry coughed out in discomfort as he felt his own eyes well with tears that were mirrored in his best friend’s eyes. He shook his head in exasperation at his own foolishness.

“I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”

“Oh for Salazar’s sake!”

“Shut it, Malfoy!”

“Don’t, Harry. He’s right. You can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened during the war. You weren’t Voldemort’s endgame. You were just the obstacle he needed to overcome to reach his goals. I told you that after Sirius died and again after Remus and Tonks were killed. Fred too. I don’t know why you insist on punishing yourself, but I finally realized after I left why you took Ron’s side.”

“And why was that?”

“Because you didn’t want to feel guilty for what happened to me. You’ve always tried to sweep things away by not dealing with them. Hoping that either I’ll fix it, get over it or it will take care of itself. I couldn’t fix this because I was the one who was broken and you didn’t want to deal. Too bad for me though.”

“Hermione...”

“What? It’s the truth, isn’t it?” She demanded harshly. “I can only imagine what you must’ve thought about today’s Prophet? Did you censure my choices?”

This time her gaze fell to Luna, who smiled knowingly and Hermione sighed in defeat.

“To his credit, when I reminded Harry how those questionable tendencies benefitted him once upon a time, he had a chance to reflect a bit.”

“I’ll bet he did.” Draco grumbled, earning him another blistering glare from the Chosen One.

“How did you convince her you’re suddenly a good guy, Malfoy? Use your kid as bait?”

Draco’s face darkened, but the slap that echoed within the room stunned everyone. Harry took in the now tear-stained cheeks of his former best friend and sighed again.

“I’m an idiot.” He rubbed his cheek with a wince.

You think?!”

Luna shook her head while Neville just coughed in agreement.

“Are you going to hit me again, Hermione?”

“Are you going to stop being an utter prat and keep your mouth shut? If Ron shows up and does what we both know he’s going to do by making a compete and utter arse out of himself...are you going to take his side again and defend his stupidity?”

“No. That I can promise you isn’t going to happen. Ron and I are barely on speaking terms. I told George everything when he demanded to know what had happened and why you’d left. He nearly hexed me within an inch of my life for being such a dunderhead...as he put it.”

Hermione giggled at that, as she could well imagine George reacting in such a way.

“So what now?” Neville asked quietly.

Hermione turned back to Draco who just shrugged. “It’s your call, love. I’ll support whatever you decide. If you want to make all nice and amicable with Scar-head here, I’ll plaster on a happy face and try my best not to sneer in his general direction.”

“Draco.”

The word was admonishing but the glint in his witch’s eyes was clearly amused.

Harry groaned. “It’s going to take me some time to get used to this.” He waved between the two of them, and Hermione just scoffed soundly.

“You don’t get a vote. Not anymore. You want my forgiveness? You’ll put on a smile and play nice or so help me Godric, I’ll make what I did to Rita look like child’s play when I’m through with you, Harry Potter.”

“So you did blackmail her?”

Hermione folded her arms in protest. “Do you really think I’d do something so sneaky and underhanded?”

Yes.”

Everyone chimed in including Draco, who’s smile was rather wicked.

“How offensive.” She deadpanned.

“Just realistic, Mione.” Neville grinned. “We’ve all seen what you’re capable of. I for one don’t plan on getting on your bad side.”

Hermione smiled at Neville in adoration. “You could never be on my bad side, Neville.”

“Hey!”

This came from both Draco and Harry, and her lifted eyebrow was enough to shut them both up.

“I do believe we’ve been back here long enough.”

She waved her wand at Harry’s face and instantly healed him of the signs of her displeasure.

When Harry unwarded and unlocked the door, Draco went to open it and his eyes widened at the maniacal grinning Wizard on the other side.

“Did you kill him? Maim him properly?”

Hermione moved over and allowed herself to be enveloped into George’s embrace. The red-headed wizard eyeing Malfoy and his son for a moment before his gaze landed on Harry.

“He looks intact? Shame.”

Hermione’s laughter bubbled out of her and she smiled widely at her friend.

“I’ve missed you, George.”

“Ditto.” He pulled her out into the shop, clearly ignoring all the interested stares from his patrons. “I was at the Burrow earlier. I’m afraid my thick-headed baby brother is going to be a bit of a problem.”

Hermione sighed in exasperation. “And your Mum?”

“Just as delusional, I’m afraid. On a brighter note...Percy and Bill now know everything and have decided to let Ronnikins stew in his own stupidity. It should make for good theatre.”

“You’re kind of scary, Weasley.” Draco drawled and a quick wink over the red-headed wizard’s shoulder let Malfoy know that George would have no compunctions about ending him if he hurt Hermione going forward.

Gryffindors and their lack of subtlety! What had he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

Draco was a bit out of his element in a room full of Gryffindors, but that was to be expected. Potter looked like a lost puppy, or rather...that someone had kicked said puppy as his Mine, spent the entire hour in Weasley’s shop with the surviving twin, while he showed her all his newest gadgets and gizmos.

Scorpius eyed everything with interest and even pointed to a few items squealing ‘what dat?’ happily.

Lovegood walked next to him and every so often Draco could feel her weighted stare on both he and his son. She didn’t speak, but quietly observed everything around them. That was probably the most disconcerting. Her blue eyes seemed to catalog hidden depths and every so often she would hum in that dreamy way of hers and nod to herself—as if she was either pleased or coming to some sort of conclusion. She was an odd girl.

Longbottom had matured quite a bit since their days at Hogwarts. He walked with Potter and their conversation was a bit stilted. It had been made clear to Draco in the Leaky that Neville and his fiancée were still quite loyal to Hermione. Longbottom had been a natural leader at Hogwarts when Potter, Weaselbee and Granger had gone on the run that final year of school. He’d never cowered to the Carrows and had openly defied them towards the end.

Whatever hero worship he’d had towards the Chosen One, didn’t seem so evident anymore.

The distrustful looks Potter kept sending his way however, were to be expected. Most people who saw Draco had the same expressions on their faces. Distrust mingled with disgust. Draco had always found it rather...what was the word? Hypocritical? Someone who conveniently forgets their own faults only to point out someone else’s?

Yeah, that would work.

Draco had faced much of that mindset since the end of the war. But even being in Slytherin, he’d faced it for years in school. Within his house and outside it. People who weren’t sorted into the house of the snake couldn’t comprehend what it was like for those that were. His first week at Hogwarts his first year, had been an eye opener. The Professor’s, save Snape, looked down upon Slytherin’s in general. Even Dumbledore and his ever righteous self, had held prejudices against Slytherin’s. It wasn’t until the Dark Lord returned that Draco had understood where the Headmaster’s hatred of Slytherin’s had come from. Draco could understand it, even if he didn’t think it was fair.

Draco had isolated himself in school too, by virtue of being a Malfoy and his own arrogance...he’d not made friends persay. Goyle and Crabbe, rest his soul...were both blind followers. They always had been. Being of less than stellar intelligence had singled them both out early on at Hogwarts. Many people thought Draco used them as lackeys and he did after a fashion but he’d protected them too. Just by virtue of being associated with him had saved both his classmates from being held victim to the whims of some of his older housemates who were sick fucks. But no one would dare touch a Malfoy, or those under his protection. Back when his name meant something, Draco hadn’t been as selfish as those around him had liked to believe.

But what had irrevocably changed him had been Astoria. She’d seen through his barriers and had demolished them in a matter of weeks. She admonished his self-pity and reminded him constantly that it was his job to raise their son and to make the world a better place for him. He’d remembered that conversation as if it were yesterday...

 

Flashback

 

They had come back from the Healer’s office. Astoria’s eighth month pregnancy check up, the Healer had given them both concerning news. Her body was weakening much faster than the best Healers had indicated and it was becoming glaringly obvious that she wouldn’t survive the birth of their child. Draco had spent the better part of that afternoon railing at his Father and by extension his Mother for forcing both he and Astoria into this mess.

His Father hadn’t been swayed. Lucius had reiterated several times during that argument that it was Astoria’s duty to the Malfoy family and the betrothal contract, to produce an heir. Draco had almost avada’d his Father on the spot.

“Are you so heartless, Father—that you can’t see this is going to kill her?”

Lucius just sat back impassively in his chair, as he sneered at his son. “This is the reality of the situation, Draco. Is it my fault that the Greengrass family refused to disclose Astoria’s condition?”

“They didn’t know!”

“But they knew it was a possibility. This curse has afflicted their line for hundreds of years. If I had known, I would’ve sought a different choice for your bride but there was nothing for it.”

“And Merlin forbid you don’t get your precious Pureblood Heir? Right, Father?”

“Draco,” his mother interjected, “this is not your Father’s fault.”

Don’t you defend him, Mum!” Draco’s voice raised to a near shout. “You’ve always defended his less than stellar choices! But it’s me, who ends up paying the price for his lack of good judgement!”

Lucius stared down his son while Draco paced around his Father’s study, running his hands in frustration through his hair which was completely in disarray.

“I did what needed to be done to assure this family’s survival.”

“And to Hell with Muggles and Muggle-borns too? Right?”

Lucius’ gaze narrowed. “I fail to understand what my distaste for such creatures has to do with this conversation?”

“No, you wouldn’t.” Draco fumed as he glared down at his Father. “Know this now...both of you. When my son is born, we will never step foot in this home again. I will not raise my child here. I will not allow you to have any sway in how I raise him. He will not grow up to be a hateful, prejudiced, cowardly...”

“Watch your tongue, boy.”

“No!!” Draco screamed. “You took all my choices away from me! All of them! But no more! This ends today...right here and now. You can’t disinherit me, Dad...I have fulfilled my duty to this family and now I’m done. I’ve found a place and Astoria and I are moving there together. I won’t have her spend one more night under this roof.”

Draco...” his Mother’s voice was pleading and for a moment he faltered as he stared down into her blue eyes, but he shook his head in quiet resolve.

“I love you, Mum—but I can’t trust you to not allow this one...” Draco pointed to his Father, “to ruin my son’s life the way he ruined mine. The world is changing and you both need to either learn to adapt, or spend the rest of your lives wallowing in your outdated beliefs, alone.”

And with those words, Draco took his wife and left Malfoy Manor....

When they’d found their way to the new home Draco had purchased, Astoria had smiled in that knowing way of her’s as Draco showed her every room and talked excitedly about how happy their son would be growing up there.

“It’s lovely, Draco.” She finally said with a tired sigh, and Draco lifted her up into his embrace...walking them both to a large couch by a picturesque window overlooking the outer gardens.

“I’m glad you approve.”

“I do. I’m so proud of you for finally standing up for yourself and our son. I know it’s never been an easy thing for you to go against your parents wishes.”

“I don’t want Scorpius to suffer, Tori. I just want him to be happy and free.”

Astoria looked up into saddened grey eyes that were filled with fear. “You will be a wonderful Father, Draco. No child will ever be as loved as our son will be.”

“But he won’t have you to teach him.” Draco buried his head into his wife’s neck and felt her arms come around him in comfort. “What are we going to do without you, Tori?”

“You’ll find happiness, Draco. It’s out there waiting for you if you’re brave enough to reach for it.”

Draco chuckled into his wife’s neck and nipped down on her skin lightly, causing her to erupt in happy giggles. “I’m going to miss that.”

“I know.” She sighed, before pulling Draco’s head back so she could meet his eyes. “But we both know your heart belongs to another. It always has.”

Draco’s expression was a mixture of confusion and wariness. “What do you mean?”

Silly man. Did you think I didn’t know that you spent months searching for a missing Muggle-born witch when she disappeared not too long ago. You’re not as sneaky as your Slytherin nature should proclaim you to be.”

“Tori...” Draco’s voice held a warning edge to it, but she just shook him off with a causal wave of her hand.

“Don’t Tori me, husband. You feel guilty. I’m sure that has something to do with it, but it’s not all.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh dear,” she smiled as she fondly ran a hand through Draco’s hair. “Irony is wasted on the stupid, isn’t it?”

Draco blanched at that. “I’m sorry?”

“As you should be.” Her smile was indulgent, but Draco heard the edge of steel in his wife’s voice. “You’ve made some very bad choices, love. You’ve spent the better part of your life wallowing in hate for others and feeling sorry for yourself as a consequence. When are you going to finally admit that you were wrong?”

Draco just stared down at his wife and felt his heart beating out of control. How had his wife seen so much of what he’d tried to keep hidden?

“I’ve always known I was wrong.” Draco admitted at last. “It doesn’t change the facts though. I’m hated by nearly everyone Tori, for the choices I’ve made. How is that going to affect our son? Will he be hated too just because he’s unlucky enough to bear the name Malfoy? Will the sins of the Father be levied upon our son until his spirit is as broken as mine?”

Draco, your spirit is damaged...not broken. You have one thing that your parents have never been able to destroy completely.”

“Which is?”

“The ability to love. Fiercely and powerfully. I’ve seen it. Moments of it really, but it’s there. You just need to give yourself permission to let go and believe in its healing power.”

Draco’s face fell as tears came to his eyes. “You’ll be gone soon, Tori, and I’ll be alone with our son. Who is ever going to look at me in such a way after all the mistakes I’ve made?”

“I think we both know who you wish it to be...deep down. Just promise me that you’ll consider what I’ve said and be open to giving yourself a chance at happiness. And when that day comes, you’ll fight for it with everything you have.”

“I promise.”

Astoria smiled and then gasped in pain as she clutched her stomach and her eyes widened in fear. Draco looked down, and felt dampness around his waist. Astoria’s water had broke.

“It would seem that our son will not wait to make his entrance into the world.”

Draco nodded and lifted his wife up into his embrace, heading for the floo and calling out for St. Mungo’s. Many hours later he held his son as he stared down at his beautiful wife who’d died giving birth...and he knew he would move heaven and earth to honor his promises to her.

 

End Flashback

 

Now, years later walking in the Weasley’s joke shop and staring at his witch, Draco’s heart swelled with gratitude for the wise words of his deceased wife who’d understood him even better than he’d understood himself. Tori had known, and hadn’t held it against him. If anything, she’d loved him even more for what she’d instinctively known his choice would ultimately end up being—if he’d be lucky enough to be given that choice.

That choice was currently smiling at him and he couldn’t help but respond in kind. Whatever walls and barriers he’d placed over the years, had fallen in spectacular fashion with just one glance at his witch. He couldn’t hold anything back from her, because the alternative meant losing her and he couldn’t...wouldn’t ever allow that to happen.

“Mimi!”

Scorpius smiled and held out his arms for the witch in question and Hermione walked over and scooped him up into her arms, showering him with gentle kisses as she moved back over to George who patted the toddler on the head fondly and then continued pointing out several new gadgets he’d just invented. Draco was so absorbed in the sight before him he didn’t notice Potter moving alongside him until the wizard spoke up.

“What are you after, Malfoy?”

The question was whispered lowly, and Draco couldn’t help but smirk at how uncomfortable Scar-head appeared.

“What do you think I’m after, Potter?”

“I think you’re using my best friend’s kind heart to your advantage.”

Draco chuckled. “I think that was your modus operandi, Potter. You used Granger’s kind heart and abnormally brilliant mind to help you survive for seven years and when it didn’t provide an advantage any longer? You dropped her like a bad habit. I may have been an idiot and a bigoted prat in school, but I’d never had the power to break her heart because she would’ve never trusted me in that way back then. She did you, and look where that got her? You want to hate me, fine...I deserve it. But don’t ever insult the intelligence of my witch into believing she isn’t smart enough to see right through me. She always has been.”

“And you’re not using you son...”

“I’d stop right there if I were you.” Draco growled lowly in warning. “Whatever my faults are...and they’re many...I love my son with everything I am and would never bring anyone into his life whom I thought might be harmful. Scorpius loves Hermione and she, him. You just need to set aside your righteous Gryffindor tendencies and realize that the world has moved on, even if you refuse to do so.”

“And your parents?”

“Know about Hermione and have reluctantly accepted her as a part of mine and Scorpius’ life. And for the record, I don’t live at the Manor and haven’t since my wife died. I won’t allow my own Father to use my son against me. If you can’t respect that, then I don’t know what to tell you, Potter.”

Harry gave him a confused look. “You are asking me to believe that you’ve changed that much, Malfoy?”

“I’m not asking you to believe anything, Potter. Because unlike you, I’m not stupid enough to think you’ll take my word for anything. But if you want to have Hermione back in your life? You’re just going to have to get used to seeing me on a regular basis, because I’m not going anywhere.”

“I guess time will tell, Malfoy.”

“Yes it will.” Draco sneered haughtily. “But I think you have far more to atone for than I ever did. Your inaction caused her to disappear for three years. You might want to have a think on that before you start whatever campaign against me forming in that paranoid mind of yours.”

“You were a Death Eater sixth year,” Harry bit back, “I was right about that.”

“Bully for you then.” Draco snarked out lowly. “Give the wizard a chocolate frog. You might have been correct about that, so why did you testify for myself and my mother, Potter? If you thought I was just a hateful, evil git? Why go to the trouble?”

Harry didn’t respond and Draco’s smirk widened.

“Harry just needs to realize that Hermione isn’t his to protect anymore.” Luna piped in from behind them and both wizards stopped and stared at the blonde witch who was watching them closely.

“Luna..”

“Oh, Harry...you need to find a way to let those feelings go. The Nargles do tend to swarm around you when you act this way.”

Harry sighed while Draco just lifted an amused eyebrow. “Nargles?”

The look shared amongst the three wizards was telling, and Draco couldn’t help but shake his head. How had this become his life? He smiled, realizing he wouldn’t change it for the world.

“Are you four done talking?”

Draco turned around and saw his witch smiling knowingly at him. He sauntered over and wrapped a possessive arm around her waist, gently kissing her temple. “Apparently, Potter has Nargles.”

Hermione’s laughter bubbled out as she gave Luna an indulgent smile. “I always wondered if he wasn’t infested with those things. Good to know much hasn’t changed in that regard.”

Luna returned the smile in her dreamy way. “I do what I can, but Harry doesn’t make it easy.”

“I’m right here.” The Chosen One snarked.

“Yes, Harry, we know.” Luna deadpanned, in that way of her’s.

“Perhaps we should get Scorpius home?”

Draco nodded and held out his hand for George, who immediately shook it with a wicked gleam in his eye.

“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to take care of Mione and make sure she’s safe.”

“No, I’m good on that, Weasley.”

George nodded and then clasped Harry on the shoulder, hard.

“Let it go, mate. Don’t be a git and trust in Mione to know what’s best for her.”

Harry sighed but nodded in response, his eyes pleading with his former best friend.

Hermione tilted her head in consideration before she spoke. “You make it very hard for me to forgive you Harry, when you act the way you do. You’ve had to spend years trusting in your instincts to survive, I do understand that. But as good as your instincts are, your people skills are abysmal. You might want to work on that a bit.”

Harry scowled, but felt Luna’s hand take his and he sighed in defeat.

“So you haven’t forgiven me yet?”

Hermione smirked, but didn’t answer as she nodded to her other friends, promising to keep in touch before she and Draco took Scorpius back out into Diagon Alley. As they made their way towards the Leaky Cauldron, Draco chuckled deeply.

“I don’t think I’ve ever realized just how Slytherin you can be, my love.”

“Only when properly motivated.” Hermione’s voice was playful, but the hardened glint in her eyes betrayed her in that moment.

“Should I be worried?”

“I thought we were a team?”

“We are.” Draco replied easily. “You, Me and Scorpius.”

“Then worry for everyone else if you must, but I’m fairly certain you’ll be fine.”

“Good to know.”

As they made their way together as a unit into the Leaky, Draco couldn’t help but notice all the witches and wizards watching them with varying expressions but he knew this was the first of many outings just like this, and he smirked inwardly. This was just the beginning. Today had gone better than he’d imagined and as they said their goodbye’s to Hannah before returning back home, Draco felt real and powerful hope in the future for the first time in his life.

Chapter Text

In a day full of surprises, the most shocked one had to be the looks on Daphne Greengrass and Theodore Nott’s faces when they read that morning’s edition of the Daily Prophet. Daphne had stared down at the article in anger, while Theo seemed almost amused by it.

How did she do this?” Daphne waved the paper at her fiancé, who just shrugged.

“I think the more important question you need to ask yourself, darling?  Is what is she after? Because it’s clear that Hermione Granger holds some kind of sway over Rita Skeeter.”

Daphne scoffed loudly. “This has Lucius Malfoy written all over it.”

That assumption caused Theo to chuckle deeply. “No, love. Lucius wouldn’t do this, especially not for a mudblood witch who is clearly involved with his son. Lucius Malfoy is many things—but he’d never willingly accept Draco’s relationship with Hermione Granger.”

The quirked eyebrow his fiancée sent his way, made Theo feel like he was being silently chastised.

“Oh, dear. You really don’t understand the dynamics in that family, do you, darling? Narcissa holds sway over her husband in all things. And one thing I do know about that woman, is she loves Draco. Perhaps not as much as she loves blood purity, but if Draco were adamant about courting Hermione Granger, I do think Narcissa would get behind it eventually.”

Theo sat back and considered this for a moment before he spoke up. “So you think Narcissa is behind this article?”

“Whomever it is, apparently has some juicy blackmail material on our resident journalist to have her spouting...almost glowing praise on the Gryffindor Princess. Did you ever hear back from Pansy or Blaise?”

Theo shook his head and Daphne hummed in irritation. “They warned Draco.”

“You think so?” Theo inquired softly.

“I do.” Daphne nodded and then sighed unhappily. “I also think Draco knows who was behind that little article yesterday.”

Theo paled a bit and swallowed uncomfortably at that thought. Whilst he and Draco had never been close at Hogwarts, Theo knew enough about his former housemate that Draco could be rather vindictive when properly motivated.

He was like his Mother in that regard.

“So what do we do?”

Daphne tapped her fingers down on top of the paper as she considered all her options, liking each one less than the last. “I think we will be hearing from Draco sooner, rather than later.”

Theo just nodded in agreement as he took a measured sip of his Earl Grey. When he set his cup down, he reached for Daphne’s hand to get her attention.

“Maybe it’s time to move on, Daph? I know you’re still broken up about Astoria, but she wouldn’t want you to hold this kind of grudge against Draco. You haven’t seen Scorpius since just after he was born. Don’t you want to know your nephew?”

Blue eyes met his and Theo could see the pain and hurt there.

“Don’t you think I haven’t thought about that, Theodore? Don’t you think I don’t wish everyday that I could get past this and move on? My baby sister is dead because of the Malfoy’s. How am I supposed to be alright with that?”

Theo sighed, realizing that even after all this time—Daphne still wasn’t ready to let the past go. He’d supported her because he loved her and had seen first hand the toll Astoria’s illness and death had taken on her. She’d been inconsolable for weeks and had lashed out, breaking everything in his old study in her grief and anger.

“I don’t think you have to be alright with any of it. But I do think your anger at Draco is a bit misplaced. He didn’t have a choice either...not really. I do remember how good he was to Astoria and I do believe he loved her in his own way.”

“Because she was pregnant with his Heir!”

Theo shook his head at that assertion. “You know that wasn’t the main reason. It was one, but not all of it. Draco hasn’t been back to the Manor since Scorpius was born and from what I’ve been able to gather, he has no intentions of letting Lucius ruin his son’s life the way his was. Maybe you should sit down and talk with Draco? You’ve never done that?”

“No,” she admitted quietly, “I haven’t. I’m not sure it would make a difference at this point, Theo.”

“You don’t know that until you try.” He coaxed easily. “Merlin knows I’m not a fan of Draco’s, never have been. He was a craven bully in school with too much ego and not enough common sense. You’d think he should’ve been sorted into Gryffindor with the lack of self control he’d exhibited throughout school.” At this, Daphne smiled and nodded in agreement. “But he’s not an idiot, at least not lately. And if we keep pressing this issue, there’s no telling how it might backfire on us.”

“But what about Lucius Malfoy? Am I supposed to let that go, too?”

Theo shrugged as he took another sip of his tea, which had gone cold. Casting a wandless warming charm, he nodded at the temperature before setting it back down on the saucer.

“I think as long as Hermione Granger and Draco are an item, it’s going to be difficult to combat both of them. Granger is too well connected and if scuttlebutt is to be believed, she has the Minister firmly on her side. She was to be his undersecretary before she disappeared three years ago. My guess? That job is just waiting for her if she decides she wants it.”

Daphne gasped and paled. “You’re serious?”

“Yes I am.” Theo nodded firmly. “She’s going to be a force within the Ministry, if she decides to go that route. And if I had to guess at the subtext of that article? That’s exactly what she’s preparing to do.”

Daphne sat back and pondered this. It was well known amongst everyone at Hogwarts that Hermione Granger was a brilliant witch. Rumors had been rampant over the years that she had a vindictive streak. Daphne had heard of two such possible incidents...one with Marietta Edgecombe and another with Delores Umbridge. The first rumor of Granger permanently hexing Marietta? Daphne believed it, as she’d seen the witch in question who simply wore too much makeup and bangs over her forehead. It was clear she was hiding something.

The second rumor? That was a bit harder to believe, as she hadn’t been part of the Inquisitorial Squad fifth year and neither had Theo. But from all accounts, Granger had led Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest where she’d been taken by centaurs. The details were sketchy, but Daphne had a hard time believing that goody-two-shoes, Hermione Granger could’ve done something so inherently Slytherin. Now? She was having to reevaluate those beliefs as she stared back down at the article from that morning.

“What do you think we should do, Theo?”

“I think we wait and see what happens and stay out of the way.”

“But we’ve already played our hand and if you’re right, Draco is going to seek out revenge on behalf of his new pet.”

Theo scowled. “Whether or not we agree with Draco sullying himself with the likes of Granger, that kind of thinking isn’t going to help us going forward. We need to play nice.”

“I can fake it, Theodore!” Daphne huffed. “It’s not as if I wasn’t sorted into Slytherin, after all.”

“I know, love, but this isn’t going to be easy for you. You detest the Malfoy’s and you’re not a fan of Granger either.”

“No I’m not, but I can play nice if I have to. And if you’re right, the witch is going to be a Ministry darling before too long.”

“With the Malfoy’s backing her, if I’m not mistaken. Lucius is many things, but an opportunist is at the forefront. If he believes for a second that this alliance of Draco’s will regain standing for the Malfoy name? He will do whatever necessary to make sure that Hermione Granger is eventually ensconced within the office of Minister.”

“Merlin forbid!” Daphne sighed out in disgust.

“I do have that little project I’ve been working on as a back up?”

“And how is it going?”

“Not bad. The item in question should be ready in about four to six weeks.”

“I still can’t believe that Lucius Malfoy came to you.”

“Neither can I, but it’s rather fortuitous he did, don’t you agree?”

“I do, my love. You’ve always been rather brilliant and cunning.” Daphne grinned wickedly.

“It’s why you agreed to marry me.”

“We had a contract darling, but regardless...I would have agreed wholeheartedly.

Theo smiled contentedly at his diabolical witch, whom he adored with everything he was. He would make sure that Lucius Malfoy paid for what happened to Astoria. It would only be a matter of time.

Yes, Theo thought with a sly grin...time was definitely on their side.

Chapter Text

Every day for what remained of that week, Rita Skeeter’s articles were the talk of the Wizarding World. Usually her articles were salacious, but for the past four days her writings lacked the particular bite she’d always been known for. Ron hadn’t picked up on it immediately as he’d been too busy fending off the rude comments of his brother’s, but the article that had come out that morning had him fuming.

There, on the front page was a picture of Mione holding Malfoy’s brat, her face filled with genuine affection for the spawn. The article was another ridiculous blurb about finding redemption in the face of adversity, or some other such rubbish...but what it amounted to, was fairly easy to discern even for someone as emotionally stunted as he was.

Mione and Malfoy were really a couple, and she had forgiven the prat for all the evil things he’d done before and during the war.

She had also found a way to silence Skeeter’s poisoned quill.

And there was only one way that could’ve happened.

Blackmail...

So it begged the question...just what had Mione threatened the reporter with...well, other than being an unregistered animagus?

Ron figured it was time to pay the reporter a personal visit and remind the public of a few interesting facts.

When he’d gone to the offices of the Daily Prophet however, he’d been summarily dismissed from speaking with Rita Skeeter as well as several of the other journalists.

It would seem that his name alone was no longer sufficient to gain the kind of attention he’d come to expect being a noted War Hero.

That simply wouldn’t do.

Ron Weasley had been a darling of the Wizarding press when the war had ended. Both he, Harry and Mione had been the stars of every article in every paper in the Wizarding World for nearly a year after Voldemort was vanquished. The fame that had come with being part of the Golden Trio had been something that Ron had never imagined.

And he’d relished in it.

At first, he and Mione had been a couple. For the few months after the war, they’d dated and made plans for the future. She’d wanted to finish her NEWTS and he’d had a direct in to the Auror Academy along with Harry. He didn’t need his NEWTS and frankly, he was done with school, but he understood why she’d wanted to go back and finish.

She had also wanted to wait until they’d married to have sex, and he’d reluctantly agreed as it was only a year.

And then everything imploded.

Everyone of his friends and family members knew Ron Weasley wanted a family. He had never made any secret of his desire to have a large brood, but Mione had been adamant that she’d only wanted a couple kids at the most. He’d loved her so as always, he’d capitulated to her whims. Then when he’d found out she couldn’t have children, those dreams had been cruelly dashed.

He hadn’t meant to cheat at first. He’d been so devastated when she’d come home from school one weekend to share the news with him, he’d been a bit flummoxed and clearly didn’t know what to say. He’d mumbled something like they’d figure it out, when all he wanted to do was go run and hide somewhere. Logically, he knew it wasn’t Mione’s fault that she couldn’t have kids. She’d been cursed and tortured...and having the emotional range of a teaspoon, he didn’t know how to deal with any of it.

So he hadn’t.

He’d gotten drunk, shagged some random bint with a flattering case of hero worship and big tits and after several weekends of repeated trysts with different witches, he’d figured it was easier to end things with Mione before it became public knowledge that he was cheating on her.

That hadn’t worked either.

Harry had taken his side...at first. When he’d confided to his best mate how devastated he was about Mione, Harry had listened and hadn’t judged. When he’d broken it off, Harry again had taken his side—even going so far as to try and get Mione to see how unfair it was of her to expect him to stand by her if she couldn’t have kids.

He’d felt a bit guilty at first, but months of shagging random witches had cured him of any useless lingering thoughts, and that was that.

Until it wasn’t.

When Mione had disappeared, telling no one but the Minister where she’d gone—everything had imploded again and Ron of course, was painted as the bad guy. He didn’t understand it. It wasn’t like he’d cursed Mione. Was it wrong of him to want a family of his own? His mum didn’t think too badly of him for breaking it off the way he did but everyone else?

That was a bit more difficult.

Now she was back and with Malfoy, of all people. The wanker had somehow used his worthless sprog to convince Mione that he was somehow a good guy. Pah! As if Death Eater Malfoy could ever be a good person!

He was a bloody, hateful, prejudiced, arse!

And somehow Ron knew he needed to make sure everyone saw just how much of a git Malfoy really was.

There was no way this could be allowed to go on.

So that was how Ron found his way to George’s shop, having left the Auror Department about a year ago...he’d helped George for a bit before deciding to try his hand as a professional Quidditch Player. Currently he was the reserve Keeper for the Chudley Cannons, who were currently sitting at the bottom of the League.

When he walked into the store, he immediately noticed Verity who was standing near a fixture of extendable ears, restocking the shelves. Her gaze locked with his and she nodded briefly before going back to her task. As Ron moved towards George’s office, the few patrons that were in the store all tried very hard not to openly stare at him. In the past, the looks he’d get would often be a source of puffed up pride as everyone wanted to meet a War Hero, but lately the looks weren’t all that complimentary.

Some were even downright rude.

He blamed Malfoy for that too.

Not bothering to announce his presence, Ron opened the door to George’s office and was surprised to find his brother talking to Harry. George rolled his eyes at the unwelcome intrusion, but Harry just nodded at the elder Weasley, promising he’d be back another day.

As Harry made to leave, Ron just scoffed.

“So that’s it then? You’re not even gonna acknowledge me anymore?”

Harry lifted his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose—a nervous habit he’d never been able to shake, like rubbing his scar.

“What’s there to say, Ron?”

“Oh, I don’t know? How about Mione is hangin’ out with an evil ferret and you don’t seem too upset about it?”

Harry groaned while George just grinned in that uncomfortable way of his, almost as if he was enjoying their discomfort.

Git probably was, Ron thought angrily.

“Whom Hermione spends her time with is none of our concern, Ron. Perhaps you might’ve thought about that before you brutally dumped her, eh?”

“Oi!” Ron bellowed as his face started to turn red, “You know why, and you’d agreed that I did what I needed to!”

Harry rubbed his scar as he desperately tried to get ahold of his own emotions, which were already precariously close to bubbling over with a nasty hex.

“But you didn’t tell me all of it—did you, mate?”

The last word was said with just the right amount of vitriol that Ron actually looked shame-faced for a split second before his anger took over again.

“You’re trying to make it sound as if it was all my fault!”

Because it was, you dolt!” Harry was yelling at this point, clearly done with trying to maintain a stiff upper lip. “You cheated on Hermione not once...but many times! Then you dumped her because she couldn’t have children. I honestly thought it was your usual stupidity, did you know? That you’d realize what an utter prick you’d been to our best friend, and beg her to take you back. I tried to play peacemaker, like I’ve always done where the two of you were concerned. You’d be a selfish, utter git and Hermione would eventually forgive you and all would be right again except THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN!”

George just tsked and shook his head in disgust at both of them.

“You both are utter tossers. It’s a wonder Hermione put up with either of you for as long as she did.” George watched his brother’s face deepen an even uglier shade of red while Harry’s expression was filled with utter remorse. “What did you both think was going to happen, eh? That Hermione would be alright with you (pointing to Ron) cheating on her with anything wearing a skirt and you (pointing to Harry) trying to wave it off like it was no big deal? Neither one of you deserve Hermione’s forgiveness and I’m warning you both. Leave her alone. Let her be happy with Malfoy or I swear on Fred’s memory, I will hex you both within an inch of your sorry arses.”

George gave each of them a pointed finger of disgust before he slammed out of his office, leaving two very stunned wizards staring morosely at each other.

After a few moments Harry sighed dejectedly. “He’s right, Ron. Leave Hermione alone. Whatever you have planned in what passes for a brain, we both know this is Hermione you’ll be going after. Do I need to remind you what she does to people who cross her?”

Ron’s expression paled as he leaned back on the door, realizing that Harry was right.

“And you’re just okay with her and Malfoy? You’ve read Skeeter’s articles? You know something ain’t right there.”

Harry shrugged. “As if Skeeter doesn’t deserve every horrible thing that comes her way, but you’re speculating, Ron. I won’t say it again. George is right. Leave Hermione alone or you won’t have to worry about your brother, because I’ll come for you.”

“You’d take her side over mine?”

Harry stared hard at his former friend and nodded. “I’m going to do what I should’ve done three years ago.”

“And what’s that?”

Harry moved closer and then with a speed of a seeker, he decked Ron hard—causing the larger wizard to fall to the floor with a bloody nose. Harry shook out his hand and smirked.

“Hermione already punched me for being an utter git. I’m just returning the favor.”

And with that, Harry moved out of George’s office and headed back to the Ministry...missing Ron’s looks of utter fury as he cradled his nose and winced.

Harry was barmy thinking he’d let this go.

Chapter Text

Nearly a week had passed since Hermione and Draco’s visit to Diagon Alley, and currently the couple with Scorpius we’re back in Verona as Hermione had to go check in on her shop and see how Maria was doing. Draco and Scorpius were upstairs—getting ready for dinner while Hermione was about to close the shop when the door dinged. Looking up, her face broke out into a pleased smile when she saw Blaise and Pansy walk in.

“Hello strangers, what brings you both to Verona?”

“Draco floo’d and asked us to come for dinner.” Blaise lifted a bottle of elf made wine.

“He’s upstairs with Scorpius if you want to go up? The back door there leads up to the second level.”

Blaise nodded and then nudged his fiancée, who just shook her head and waved her hand in a shooing motion—effectively dismissing him so the women could talk.

When Blaise was gone, Pansy moved over to the counter and turned around...giving the shoppe a critical once over.

“It’s very you...Granger.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, Parkinson.”

“You should.” The dark haired brunette witch said haughtily before facing her with a playful grin. “Well done by the way. The articles this past week have truly been inspired.”

“Hmmm...thanks.” Hermione moved over to place several books back on their appropriate shelves. “I was thinking about something, and I was hoping you might agree with me.”

“What?” Pansy’s voice was intrigued, even if her body language was wary.

“Well, I was wondering how you might feel about opening up a shoppe in Diagon Alley...bringing Muggle fashion to the Wizarding World?”

Pansy sat down on the stool across from the curly-haired witch and fixed her with a disbelieving glare.

“You do know Granger, that many of the Wizarding elite go to Paris for their fashions.”

“Yes, the Rue de Magique, which typically as you’re well aware, is years behind current Muggle fashion. You’ll need an ‘in’ back into London and this is the best way to show everyone how you’ve changed. You’re working for a Muggle couture fashion house, Pansy...who’s going to accuse you of prejudice under those circumstances?”

Pansy sat back in contemplation and had to admit, Granger was pretty spot on. It was true that Fashion trends for Witches were leagues behind their Muggle counterparts. It had taken her over a year in Japan to realIze just how woefully out of touch the Magical World was when it came to couture and here was Hermione Granger of all the witches...giving her advice on how to ingratiate herself back into Wizarding Society.

“You really think it’ll work?”

“I do.” Hermione admitted with ease. “We just need to think of some kind of catchy name for your boutique. We can model it after your Muggle fashion house. At first, we can bring sample sizes or even certain luxury brands to Diagon Alley. Eventually, you will design for your own label and then we open up satellite boutiques in Paris, Milan and New York.”

“What makes you think that the Wizarding World is going to be willing to shop at any place I open? I’m still fairly hated.”

“I’ll admit, you might have had a bit of a Public Relations issue, but I think we can work around it by generating good press for you now. I’ll bring you in as my personal stylist, no one will question it since I’m publicly linked with Draco and your Scorpius Godmother. I’ll have Rita write a piece about all the work you’ve done here in Milan as well as Japan. I’m assuming you did make some contacts internationally?”

Pansy smirked and nodded. “Several in Japan actually. Both Magical and Muggle.”

“Good. Then when the time comes we can use that too.”

Pansy just shook her head in wonder. “How is it that none of us at school saw this side of you?”

Hermione shrugged, as she locked up the bookstore and then led Pansy upstairs to her apartment.

“I was fairly looked down upon at school by most within Slytherin. Oh, I think you all saw me as a swotty know-it-all, but I don’t think any of you really took the time to look past my intellect as being other than books and cleverness. And honestly? I didn’t show my other, shall we say...more dubious personality traits to anyone other than a handful of trusted people.”

“Harry and Ron.”

“Yes, and you’ve seen where that got me.”

The two witches walked into the kitchen, where Blaise and Draco were chatting and Scorpius was in his high chair drawing in the Muggle coloring books he’d grown to adore.

Hermione walked over to her wizard, who enveloped her into his side as he placed a sweet kiss on her lips.

“Did you two have a good talk?”

“We did.” Hermione admitted with an indulgent smile.

Draco glanced over at his friend’s, and Pansy nodded in reply to the unspoken question. “It’s a good plan.”

“I thought so too.” Draco agreed easily. “It would require you both moving back to London at some point.”

“Maybe.” Pansy replied thoughtfully. “But it might be easier if we stay here in Italy. That way, it won’t look like I’m trying too hard or at least not trying to capitalize on your new relationship with Granger, here.”

“I think that’s probably smart.” Hermione offered kindly, as she took a glass of wine from Blaise. “We can revisit it later on. For now, we have another issue that needs to be addressed.”

“Which is?” Draco drawled out, his voice had an edge to it and Hermione was quick to smooth his ruffled feathers.

“It would seem that dear, delusional Ronald demanded to see Rita earlier this week at the Prophet. He was fairly livid when he couldn’t get an audience with any of the reporters there. He then went to George’s and ran into Harry. Apparently, from what George shared with me...dear Ronald and Harry got into a disagreement. Then Harry punched him.”

The gobsmacked looks had Hermione giggling.

“Let me get this straight,” Blaise was the first to recover, “Potter decked the Weasel? Did the git fight back?”

“No,” Hermione took another sip of her wine before continuing, “Harry left and George found Ron on the floor of his office, bleeding and livid.”

Everyone laughed loudly and Scorpius joined in, clearly not understanding what was happening but happy to join in everyone’s mirth.

Hermione moved over and placed a gentle kiss on top of his head, pointing to something he’d drawn and then sitting down next to the toddler as she picked up a marker and started coloring with him. Draco just gave her a look that was so open and tender—Blaise and Pansy were just shaking their heads in disbelief.

“What?” Draco shot his best friend’s a measured look.

“Nothing.” Blaise was quick to reassure. “You just look happy, mate. It’s good it see.”

Draco smirked, but didn’t deny it as his grey eyes fell back to amber and Hermione winked at him playfully.

“Dinner should be ready soon.” Draco changed the subject, and started reaching for the plates to set the table. “Hermione made Lasagna and there’s a salad in the ice box.”

Pansy moved over to help while Blaise just sat back and enjoyed the easy camaraderie between his friends. Things were finally falling into place.

“When are you two heading back to London?” He asked curiously.

“Tomorrow.” Hermione answered, but didn’t look in his direction as she was absorbed with Scorpius. “I’m shutting the book store down temporarily until I can figure out what to do with it. Maria doesn’t mind keeping it up and running, and that may be an option but for at least the next two weeks, I’m going to keep it closed.”

“Will you miss it here?”

Hermione’s gaze lifted and she smiled wistfully. “I love Verona, and we can always come back. But if this is going to be my life now? Then London is where I need to be.”

Draco came and stood behind her, dropping a possessive kiss on her shoulder. “London is definitely where you belong, Granger.”

She tilted her head back and smiled widely at the gorgeous blonde wizard who hovered over her and kissed the tip of her nose with a devious smirk.

The oven dinged at that moment, causing Hermione to stand up and check on their dinner. Nodding to herself, she grabbed some hot pads and took the casserole dish out of the oven—the delicious aromas filtering throughout the room.

“Smells delicious, Granger.”

“Hopefully it will taste just as good, Blaise.”

It did. As they all sat and ate—conversation flowed easily until the subject of Daphne and Theo came up.

“I don’t know what Daphne was thinking.” Pasty sighed unhappily, but Draco just shook his head.

“She’s still angry, Pans, about Astoria—about everything. You and I both know she never liked me even in school. With good reason, but still? I’d thought we’d moved past that after Tori and I married.”

“Theo isn’t much better, mate.” Blaise spoke up with a shrug. “He’s always been a bit of a loner but he adores Daphne. I don’t mean to change the subject but there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about for a while. I just didn’t know how to bring it up.”

Draco’s expression was bracing as he nodded. “That sounds ominous.”

Blaise gazed over at his fiancée for a moment before turning back to his best mate. “Theo as you know, is quite intelligent. When we were in school that final year, he’d mentioned wanting to get a job in the Department of Mysteries. He was always obsessed with what they did there. Anyway, after what happened with Pius Thicknese, there was no way any child of a former Death Eater was going to be allowed to work in that Department. Thicknese is still the Department Head, as far as I know. Theo has applied several times, and has been shot down repeatedly.”

Draco sat back with a frown. “How do you know this?”

Blaise’s gaze moved instinctively to Pansy and she nodded in support.

“I have an ‘in’ if you will. A former classmate works in the Administration area and shared with me that Theo has applied once per year since we’ve gotten out of school. He’s been rejected every time.”

“Who’s the source, Blaise?”

“Padma Patil.” Blaise replied lowly and Hermione’s expression was understandably questioning as she turned towards Draco, who nodded slowly.

“That would do it.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. How do you know Padma?”

Pansy reached for Blaise’s hand and took it into hers, while Hermione just gave Draco a chin tilt in his friend’s direction as if to silently ask, ‘what am I missing?’

Draco cleared his throat and sighed. “It’s okay, mate. I can tell Granger.”

Blaise nodded, so Draco continued on.

“During school, Blaise and Padma had an on-off thing since end of fifth year. During our seventh year—while you, Potter and Weasley were gone—Blaise and Padma’s relationship was rather complicated. She was clearly involved with Longbottom’s rebellions and the Carrow’s were rather vicious to anyone who wouldn’t go along with their twisted ideas regarding their lesson plans.”

“I heard a bit about this from Neville, when he let us into the castle the night of the battle.”

Draco cleared his throat and nodded. “It was miserable at school. But those of us in Slytherin, weren’t trusted by the other Houses, with good reason. But Blaise here, he’d often sneak healing potions and the like to Padma to pass out to other students. By that time, their relationship was over but he felt the need to try and do what he could. Anyway, during one Defense class the Carrow’s tried to get Blaise to use an unforgivable on Padma—I don’t think I need to tell you which one?”

Hermione shook her head, looking over at Blaise who’s head was down. He wouldn’t make eye contact with her at all. “Did you do it?” She whispered and Blaise shrugged.

“He lifted his wand,” Pansy interrupted lowly, “but both Draco and I could see him struggling. So we did the only thing we could think of.”

Hermione sighed and nodded in understanding. “Which one of you?”

“Me.” Draco said, looking away shame-faced. “I was already marked. What did it matter? Alecto cursed me for interfering, which I knew she would. Amycus just laughed. Everyone else in the class did too, except for Blaise and Pansy.”

Hermione reached for Draco’s arm and waited until he turned towards her, his eyes filled with regret.

“How can you stand to be with me?”

Hermione immediately moved over and sat on Draco’s lap, placing a reassuring kiss on his lips as she held his head within her grasp—forcing him to keep eye contact with her so he could see the sincerity of her expression.

“Draco, I forgave you and somehow, you need to forgive yourself. I’ve seen your heart and I know you didn’t want to do any of the things you were forced to do. I wish I had seen you sooner, but back then I don’t think either one of us would’ve ever been able to let the past go and just be. It took us fighting on opposites sides of a War to overcome our own deeply held prejudices about each other. I see the man you are now—not the frightened boy you once were. I’m rather enamoured with the Draco Malfoy before me. He’s simply amazing in every way.”

Draco’s head fell into her bosom and she held him to her, allowing him the comfort he so desperately needed. Her eyes lifted towards his two best friend’s and Blaise was smiling softly at her while Pansy actually wiped a tear from her eye.

Draco eventually pulled back and lifted his face up towards hers. She responded to the plea in his eyes and kissed him again before moving off his lap and back over next to Scorpius, who was murmuring, “Daddy”...his big grey eyes watching Draco worriedly.

“I’m alright, champ. You like your lasagna?”

“Yummy.”

Another bite missed Scorpius mouth, mostly—and ended up on the high chair table causing everyone to smile with affection at the cute little sprite.

“So Padma?”

Blaise cleared his throat and nodded. “She keeps me appraised of what’s going on within the Ministry. Her sister Pavarti works in the same Department Theo does, and she sees Daphne coming and going quite a bit. But he’s also had a few other visitors too.”

“Who?” Draco asked, intrigued.

“Your Father.”

“Excuse me?”

Blaise nodded, and Draco just shook his head. “Why would my Father be visiting Theo at the Ministry?”

“I take it he’s not said anything about it?”

“No, but it’s not like we talk much about anything that isn’t related to the estate or Scorpius.”

Hermione sat back and pondered a few scenarios.

“Did you ever find out which area within the Department of Mysteries Theo was most interested in?”

Blaise shook his head. “Not exactly. He met once with Bricker and then again with Davies.”

Hermione didn’t recognize the first name, but the second she did.

“Roger Davies? Fleur’s date from the Yule Ball?”

Blaise nodded. “The very one.”

“And if I remember correctly, no one really knows who works in what department there, correct?”

“Bang on in one. So there really isn’t a way to know what exactly Theo might be after.”

“Well, from what I remember during my little jaunt into the Ministry end of fifth year, there were several rooms that I happened to wander into.”

“Which were?” Pansy asked, now clearly interested in this new piece of gossip.

“Space, love, time, prophecy and Death.”

“Huh, that would actually make a bit of sense. Things that can’t exactly be measured...at least not quantifiably.” Draco mused and Hermione smiled at how intelligent he was.

“So if we are going to surmise that this is something to do with your Father...which of any of the aforementioned areas, would Lucius Malfoy be interested in?”

Draco thought for a moment, then paled in realization. “Shite.” He whispered and Scorpius giggled and mimicked ‘scwite.’

Hermione’s glare had him mouthing ‘sorry, love’ and he then shook his head at his precocious boy, who was smiling at him with a mouth full of lasagna.

“Chew with your mouth closed, Scorp.”

“Jes, Daddy!”

“So?” Blaise interrupted and Draco sighed, giving a side eye to his witch who was looking at him expectantly.

“What I’m about to share goes no further than this room...agreed?”

Everyone nodded so Draco continued. “My Grandfather Abraxas, was a right piece of work but he had enough galleons to buy, blackmail and finance many things. One such thing was an actual time turner.”

Draco wasn’t surprised by the hissing and gasps that followed, but Hermione was just staring at him thoughtfully.

“I have some experience with Time Turners.”

Draco grinned and shook his head in wonder. “Of course you do. Mind sharing how?”

“I will when you finish your story, love.”

“Fine, witch.” The pout was purely for affect as Draco went on with his tale. “The rumor was that my Grandfather commissioned someone to make a time turner for him. But this wasn’t like any other time turner. This one could allow the user to go back in time, indefinitely.”

Hermione’s face paled and she gasped, breathing out—“That’s not possible!”

“Don’t know. It was only a rumor and one I’d only heard once in passing when I was a boy. My Father and Grandfather we’re discussing it just prior to my second year at Hogwarts.”

“Before the diary incident?”

Draco nodded and both Blaise and Pansy had the good sense to look ashamed.

“They know?”

“Yes, not everything but enough to know what happened that year.”

Hermione bit her lip and sighed in pained remembrance of what had transpired that fateful year. Being petrified, the first time someone had used the word ‘mudblood’ in her general direction. It didn’t make it easier that the family behind both of those incidents was the one she was currently not a part of.

She felt a tender hand on hers and she looked over at Draco who’s face was saddened with remorse.

“I wish I could go back and make a different choice, love. A better choice.”

She shrugged. “You can’t. We can’t. We just have to learn from those choices and vow to do and be better.”

“For the record,” Blaise interrupted lowly, “If your Father had something like that, why wouldn’t he have used it?”

“To undo the past?”

Blaise nodded and Draco honestly didn’t have an answer that made sense. It was no secret his Father had fallen out of favor with the Dark Lord at the end. But there was a time that Lucius had been a staunch supporter of Voldemort. His Grandfather definitely had been.

“What if that is what Theo is doing?” Hermione piped in.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“What if Theo is actually either fixing said time turner, or perfecting it? Maybe whomever built the thing for your Grandfather never got it to work properly and handed over the unfinished product. What if Lucius has finally found someone who can do just that?”

Everyone at the table sat there, ruminating on that possibility until Draco finally spoke. “If that is true, and the Ministry finds out? My Father is headed back to Azkaban and Theo won’t be far behind.”

“So how do we find out?” Blaise’s gaze moved around the room, silently asking the question to each of them.

“Daphne would know.” Pansy said at last. “In fact, Daphne may be behind this entire thing. She’s wanted to ruin Lucius since Astoria was forced to marry Draco. What if this entire thing has been at her behest?”

Running his hands down his face, Draco groaned realizing Pansy was probably right.

“Then in all likelihood? My family is screwed.”

Chapter Text

The following week had been rather peaceful for Draco, Hermione and Scorpius. Hermione had taken tea at Malfoy Manor, and had spent a rather interesting afternoon discussing several topics with Draco’s mother. Narcissa was rather a deep well of information on those within the Wizarding Aristocracy and those without. Blaise hadn’t been wrong when he’d told her that Narcissa was the one she’d need to keep an eye on.

Hermione had met with Kingsley as well, and as predicted—he’d offered her the position of his Undersecretary provided she spend a year each doing concurrent internships within the Department of Regulation Care for Magical Creatures, as well as the Department of International Cooperation and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Hermione had readily agreed and plans were already being put in place for her to start in the DRCMC, the following week.

Draco had been thrilled with the news, while Scorpius had been a bit subdued. It was clear to both she and Draco that their little guy would rather have his ‘Mimi’ around full time, but she’d compromised with Kingsley. Her schedule was four days a week, 8-hour days depending upon what was going on. Her mission? To go over all current legislation within each department, offering suggestions on updating existing laws and doing away with outdated ones—and if she could financially streamline each department to run more efficiently, that would be helpful too.

The Prophet had run the article as predicted on her new appointment to the Undersecretary post. Hermione had made sure that she’d been complimentary of each of the department Head’s, while putting forth the narrative on how eager she was to learn from those within each part of the Ministry. It wouldn’t do well to alienate anyone by announcing she was coming in wands blazing, to make changes. Her reports would have to be well researched to get past the Wizengamot, but she wasn’t too worried. She did have an ace up her sleeve if needed.

When she made her way back home through the floo after her afternoon meeting with the Minister and the Wizarding Press, for the follow-up announcement and subsequent placement assignment for her new position as his Undersecretary—Draco was waiting with a huge bouquet of fresh flowers.

“Hi, love.” His grin was bright as he sauntered over and handed her the fragrant blossoms.

“Hello. These are lovely.”

“Scorp helped me pick them out for you.”

“He did?” Hermione closed her eyes and inhaled the aroma with a pleased hum. “How very thoughtful. Where is he?”

“He’s in with Mippy coloring in those books you gave him. It seems to be his new favorite thing.”

Hermione walked into the kitchen with her flowers, looking for a vase so she could put them in some water. Draco accio’d a rather pretty crystal one, and set it down on the counter next to her.

“How did the press conference go?”

“Fine. It was closed to the General Ministry. Only Kingsley, myself, reporter’s from the Prophet, Witch Weekly and the Quibbler were in attendance.”

“How do you think the reactions come tomorrow are going to be?”

She shrugged before taking the vase with the flowers and placing it on the table near the window.

“I’m being cautiously optimistic. I’m sure there will be those who will have their feelings on the situation, but I’d imagine no one is going to say anything directly. What I am wondering is how much do you know about the Department Heads within the Ministry?”

Draco sat down and thought for a moment, idly rubbing his hand on the table as he considered the question.

“Honestly?”

Hermione nodded, noticing the pensive expression on his face.

“Not as well as my Father. Lucius knows where all the skeletons are buried and who might seek to be a problem moving forward. But I know you don’t trust my Father, with good reason.”

“What about your Mum?”

“My Mother knows more about people’s social indiscretions than political ones. It’s been a few years since my parents have been allowed into Pureblood circles with other families who didn’t suffer the same censure after the war.”

“The Parkinson’s?”

Draco grimaced. “Posy Parkinson and her husband Edmund, they all but disinherited Pansy after the war. Pansy’s younger sister Poppy, well—she’s the favorite now. She graduates from Hogwarts next year and is already betrothed to Marius Flint.”

Hermione scoffed and shook her head in disgust. “That’s deplorable, Draco! How can they do that to their own daughter? Weren’t they just as prejudiced?”

“Yes, more so actually. But it wouldn’t do for them to admit to their own prejudices in lieu of the new political climate.”

“At least not admit it openly?”

“Hmm.” Hermione moved over and Draco pulled her into his lap, nuzzling her neck with soft kisses that had her squirming. “Draco—you need to stop that!”

Hermione felt his answering chuckle as he bit softly into her skin where her neck met her shoulder. The needy moan that left her lips couldn’t be helped, nor the drenching of her knickers.

“I’ve missed you, Mine. You’ve been busy all week.”

She pulled back and cupped his cheek in her hand, placing a reassuring kiss on his lips.

“I told you this was going to take time and energy. Should I stop? Because if this is going to be an issue, I can end it now?”

Draco’s gaze darkened as he pulled her tightly into his lap.

“You’d end this?”

Hermione’s expression registered her confusion for a split second before she shook her head on a huff.

“Silly wizard!” She admonished lightly. “I meant, end this thing with Kingsley and the Ministry.”

“Oh!” Draco blushed slightly and Hermione just smiled indulgently and mimicked his ‘oh’ with one of her own.

“If you think this is going to be too much for you and Scorpius, then I don’t have to pursue this position. I just think it will help in the long run.”

Draco shook his head. “We will be fine. You’re meant to do this, Mine. The Ministry won’t know what’s hit them. It’s time someone got in there and shook things up. Scorpius and I will be here for you. We are a family now, and families love and support each other.”

“You really mean that, don’t you?”

“With all my heart.” Draco admitted with a firm nod. “I’m not going to let you get away again. Besides, I’m rather looking forward to being the kept man of the most powerful witch in the Wizarding World.”

Hermione couldn’t help but laugh at Draco’s playful expression. He was simply incorrigible sometimes.

“There is a Ministry function next week on Saturday. Kingsley thinks I should attend.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s a ball for several of the Ministry delegations that will be visiting over the course of the next few weeks. Russia, Bulgaria, Italy and France. Some kind of trade conference.”

“Sounds boring.”

“So I can’t bribe you into coming with me as my plus one?”

Draco lifted an eyebrow haughtily in response. “I’m your plus one?”

Hermione kissed the put upon look right off her wizard’s face.

“What should I call you then, darling?”

“Hmm, now that’s a loaded question love. What would feel comfortable to you? Boyfriend, lover, paramour, fuck-buddy...”

The last one was followed by a wicked smirk and Hermione responded by smacking him lightly on his chest, before she sighed and shrugged.

“I’m not sure what the protocol for something like this would be in the Wizarding World. In the Muggle World—boyfriend and girlfriend is a common enough term, although it does seem a bit simplistic especially when we take Scorpius into consideration.”

“Yes, and you are wearing Malfoy jewelry after a fashion. Anyone who is Pureblood seeing your necklace will likely infer that we are betrothed. How do you feel about that, love?”

“You mean, how do I feel if someone makes that assumption?”

Draco nodded his head, but didn’t reply as he wanted to see how his witch would respond. She didn’t disappoint as it only took her a couple minutes before she spoke up.

“I don’t take issue with it. We’ve already decided together that this relationship is a permanent situation. However we determine that is no one’s business, but me going into the Ministry—I’m not naive enough to think that people won’t have their opinions. I’m sure it won’t look especially positive if I’m seen eschewing certain Wizarding traditions and I don’t think your parents would appreciate it either. With you being a widower, does it make expectations different than if you hadn’t been married and had an Heir already?”

“Somewhat. But Pureblood courtship is rather specific in all regards. Betrothal jewelry, courtship, engagement and marriage.”

Hermione’s face turned away from his in discomfort, but Draco wasn’t going to allow her to hide from him as he gently tilted her head back to his so he could see her expression. It was clear she wasn’t sure what to say about his confession.

“I know it’s a lot to take in, Mine. We’ve only been together a short time, and if you want to table this we can?”

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea either, Draco.”

“Okay, then what can I do to make this easier for you?”

She smiled softly and ran a gentle hand through his hair. “You’ve made this whole situation so much better than I’d ever imagined it could be. The fact that I can’t imagine my future without you and Scorpius scares me, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just don’t want you to think you need to feel obligated...”

Draco shushed her and shook his head in admonishment. “Stop right there, love. There is absolutely nothing obligatory about this. I want to be with you. I want to go to sleep next to you every night and wake up making love to you every morning. I want to be the wizard on your arm and more, so—I’m proud you’ve chosen me to be that for you. I would ask for your hand tomorrow if I thought I could get away with it, but I know you’re not ready for that yet. I’m sure as time goes by we will figure out how to do this together but for now, I’m happy to allow you to take the lead here. If you need something, all you have to do is ask. Okay?”

Hermione smiled softly, her eyes welling with tears as she stared into the sincere expression of the wizard she’d gown up loathing like no other, but now couldn’t imagine living without.

How ironic was that?

“Okay. I can do that.”

“Good, now lets go get Scorpius and would you like to go out for dinner, or eat here?”

“Going out sounds lovely. Where would you like to go?”

“Well, there’s always the Leaky. I’m sure Hannah would love to see you.”

“That sounds good. Why don’t you get Scorpius ready and I’ll change into something a bit less formal.”

Draco gave her a kiss in agreement and then watched his witch leave the kitchen. He admired how well she had been handling all of these sudden changes since she’d returned home. So far things had been better than he could’ve hoped for.

When they made their way through the floo into the Leaky, it was relatively busy for a midweek evening but Hannah noticed them right away and escorted them to a table near the back corner that was relatively private. Hermione sat down with Scorpius in her lap, while Draco transfigured a chair into a proper high table for Scorpius and then situated his Son into the seat. Hermione took out his sippy cup and a few simple snacks while they looked through the menu.

It didn’t take too long for the patrons within the restaurant to notice the couple sitting there. A few of the witches and wizards openly stared while others could be heard whispering to themselves. When Hannah came over to take their orders, she smiled apologetically, but Hermione just whispered that it was fine and left it at that.

When their food was served, Hermione carefully dished out Scorpius’ Shepard’s pie, while Draco dug into his fish and chips. Hermione had ordered the split pea soup with crusty bread and was just about to tuck in when she heard the one voice she’d hoped she’d never have to hear again.

“Well, well—look what we have here? I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Prophet, Mione—slummin’ it with the ferret and his spawn. Fraternizing with the enemy.”

Hermione gazed up into the blue eyes of Ronald Weasley, noticing Draco stiffening across from her as he reached for his wand. She gently shook her head as she gestured for Draco to take Scorpius out of his chair. When she didn’t immediately respond to Ronald, she could see his face turning that ugly shade of purple that it always did when he was about to lose it.

When his hand came down on the back of Scorpius’ high chair as Draco reached for his Son, the chair swerved and Draco caught him just in time as Scorpius cried out in alarm. Hermione immediately stood up and put herself between her family and Ron, who looked completely unapologetic.

“What is wrong with you?” Hermione hissed out lowly in anger, her hair sparking with magic as she glared at her former boyfriend. “He’s just a little boy and you could have hurt him!”

Ron scoffed as he glowered at both Malfoy’s, his face twisted and ugly. Hermione then noticed Hannah out of the corner of her eye and she waved her off with a nod, which Hannah returned.

“He’s a Death Eater spawn! Have you lost you mind?”

“You’re drunk, Ronald.” Hermione’s face pulled back into a grimace as she could smell the stench of alcohol on his breath.

“Not drunk enough to see that the ferret has you imperiused! You’d never chosen to be with him! Or is it the kid?”

Hermione’s face paled, and her hands were visibly shaking as she put her hand out at Draco—who was trying very hard to remain calm.

“I’m sorry to inform you, Ronald, but I’m not under any kind of spell nor potion. I’m with Draco of my own free will. As for the rest of it, you’d do well to remember that if you choose to go down this path, you’re not going to look very favorable at all.”

“Is that a threat?”

“It’s a fact.”

The floo behind her flashed and she saw Harry walk out of the fireplace, where Hannah pointed over to them. Hermione’s eyes caught Harry’s and he shook his head in disgust.

“That’s enough, Ron.”

Ron turned around and sneered at his former best friend. “I shoulda known you’d take her side.”

Harry sighed. “You’ve been drinking, Ron. You should go home.”

Harry tried to reach for Ron’s arm, but the red-headed wizard swung back and pushed Harry off him.

“Leave me alone! How can you be okay with Mione fucking the ferret, Harry?”

Several voices gasped but it was the yelp and scream that came after that had everyone staring in shock. Harry shook out his hand as Ron was once again, sitting on the floor with a bloody nose.

“Fucking bollocks, Harry!”

Ron reached for his wand, only to find it taken when it landed in Hermione’s outstretched palm. She then waved her wand and silenced Ron from saying anything else.

“You are pathetic, Ronald Weasley. You left me because I couldn’t have children. Because I’d been cursed during the war!” Several more startled gasps were heard behind the trio. “You cheated on me! And somehow this is all my fault? You listen to me, and listen well—I’ve put up with your idiocy over the years, but no more. You come after my family again, you hurt my child again and I will hex you good and proper. I think you know exactly what I’m capable of, Ronald Weasley. This is your only warning. Stay away from me and my family!”

And with that, she took Scorpius from Draco and with a nod to Harry and an apology to Hannah, she moved quickly towards the floo, leaving Draco standing there with her former friend’s.

“You really are a mess, Weasley.” Draco sneered hatefully. “And Hermione’s right. Stay away from our family. You might not have been wizard enough to stand by her, but make no mistake...she’s my witch and I will have no problem ending you if you so much as come near her or our son again.”

And with that, and one final nod to Potter—Draco ignored the interested stares and whispers from everyone in the Leaky as he headed back home to his family.

Chapter Text

When Draco got through the floo, it was to the sight of his witch and son clinging to each other. Scorpius was sniffling and Hermione’s eyes were bright with unshed tears as she stared at him over Scorpius’ head.

His heart tore at how broken she looked.

“Mine.” He whispered emotively as he enveloped both of them within his embrace.

“I’m so sorry.” She sobbed pitifully and Draco just shook his head as he pulled her in tightly to him.

“You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Weasley being a git is not of your doing. I’m just sorry that you and Scorpius had to be subjected to that.”

Glistening amber eyes held his and Draco gently took Scorpius from Hermione, lifting him a bit more firmly against him as Hermione turned her head into his shoulder and just sobbed quietly. Scorpius kept chanting ‘Mimi’ sadly as if he felt her pain too. When he placed his tiny hand on Hermione’s hair and petted her in a soothing fashion, Draco smiled and he chuckled as he felt Hermione’s body shake with her own mirth.

When she finally lifted her head, she was smiling adoringly at Scorpius, then she took her finger and softly poked at his tummy in a tickling motion, causing him to giggle.

“You’re the sweetest, aren’t you, my little man?”

“I’d thought I was the sweetest?” Draco smirked playfully, causing Hermione to scoff at him. She even rolled her eyes at him before allowing herself to be led into the kitchen. Draco sat Scorpius down on Hermione’s lap and went over to the ice box to find something to make for dinner.

He pulled out some vegetables, steaks and proceeded to chop up the peppers, zucchini and mushrooms quickly. He then seasoned the vegetables and meat. Placing the steaks on a grill plate, he placed them in the broiler and then sautéed up the veggies until his wand vibrated. Turning the steaks, he finished the vegetables just in time as the steaks finished cooking. Taking them out and letting them finish cooking for a few moments, he then cut up Scorpius’ portion into very small bites and plated his, before following suit with Mine’s plate and his. During this time, Hermione had just watched him, her expression filled with several emotions. But the one that made Draco’s heart skip was the love he saw there. She hadn’t actually said the words to him yet...but he knew she felt something akin to the emotion.

She had referred to he and Scorpius as her family tonight.

In public, no less.

The thought caused a smug smirk to steal over his features.

“You look very pleased with yourself, Mr. Malfoy?”

Draco’s grey eyes caught amber ones that were amused and he smirked even wider.

“Do I?”

“Mmhmm.”

They were finally seated as Draco grabbed a bottle of Pinot, and opened it to allow it to breathe for a bit. He poured some water into Scorpius’ sippy cup and then the meal commenced.

“We should’ve just eaten in.” Hermione said quietly as she took a small bite of her steak and hummed in appreciation.

“We can’t avoid the public forever, Mine. It’s not realistic and as much as I loathe going out, people need to see us together if they’re going to get used to the idea of us as a family.”

Hermione offered her wine glass to Draco, and he filled it after taking a small sip to make sure it was acceptable.

“I know.” She finally admitted with a small shrug. “But Ronald could’ve hurt Scorpius.”

“He’s fine, love. But I have to wonder if our little jaunt needs to be reported on tomorrow? If Skeeter doesn’t at least mention it, it might raise suspicions.”

Hermione nodded reluctantly, taking another sip of her wine.

“I suppose you’re right. She knows enough that if anything comes her way about us she is to spin it favorably. It wouldn’t look right if I owled her every time something like this happens. Someone might get suspicious.”

“By someone, you mean Theo and Daphne? Or Weasley?”

“Ron is a bit more clever than most people have ever given him credit for. He’s a brilliant chess player because he can anticipate strategy fairly far ahead. He suspects I’ve silenced Skeeter, but has no way to prove it. Which means he might start looking for anything out of the ordinary.”

“Like correspondence.”

“Yes. Rita, by virtue of the vow, can’t print anything scathing or defamatory about us. So given that, she will tend to use her questionable journalistic tendencies on other unsuspecting targets. You can’t take the sting out of the bug completely, but you can direct which way the venom is projected.”

Draco chuckled as he shook his head fondly at his little witch. “Have I ever told you, my love, that your cunning streak is quite the turn on?”

The blush that stole over her cheeks and down her chest had Draco licking his lips in anticipation of later.

“I’m glad to be of service.”

“Oh, you most definitely will be later, Mine.”

Her blush deepened and Draco’s eyes darkened as his gaze turned a bit predatory. When Hermione’s eyes finally lifted and met his, he could see her own emotions so clearly, and for once he was glad of her Gryffindor nature and inability to hide herself from him.

It made it so he didn’t want to hide from her either.

“I love you, Mine.”

Hermione’s breath caught as she stared at him in wonder. He’d said it cursorily, had admitted as much to his parents. But he hadn’t come out and said it so succinctly, and her expression told him immediately that he’d done the right thing.

“I love you, too.” Her smile was brilliant as tears welled in her eyes and he reached for her hand, placing a soft kiss on her knuckles in gratitude.

Luv, Mimi!” Scorpius piped in perfectly and both adults laughed and smiled widely at the little boy.

And then something amazing happened.

The flowers that Draco had given her earlier that day that were sitting near the window erupted in a shower of petals that rained down on them. Scorpius clapped his hands happily while Draco and Hermione sat there completely stunned. They turned to face their little tyke simultaneously and saw him bouncing up and down as the flowers floated around them in the air.

“Wook, Daddy! Mwagic!”

Draco threw his head back and laughed and Hermione reached for their son, lifting him into her arms and blowing kisses on his tummy, giggling at his screeching laughter.

His first bout of accidental magic.

As she cuddled him to her chest, she looked up at Draco and his expression was filled with love and pride...but there was a hint of wistful sadness behind those grey eyes.

Hermione understood immediately why.

“Astoria should’ve been here for this.” She said softly. “But I can’t say I’m sorry that I got to be the one to share this with the both of you.”

Draco smiled in absolute devotion at his witch, who was more tender-hearted and simply good—than anyone he’d ever known.

“I think she always knew it would be like this. You, me and Scorpius. If she was here right now, she’d just smile in that infuriating way of hers and say, ‘I told you so Draco’ and she’d be right.”

Hermione nodded, kissing Scorpius’ head. “She sounds like an amazing woman.”

“She was.” Draco admitted with a nod. “Amazing enough to see through me and to accept me in spite of all the mistakes I’ve made. Just like someone else I know.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance.”

The look on Draco’s face said that he wasn’t quite sure that was true, but he nodded anyway.

“I’m just grateful you gave me one, Mine. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I’m not daft enough to screw it up.”

Her smile was indulgent and he could see the wheels turning in that prodigious mind of hers.

“What?” He finally asked after a few moments of silence.

“I was just thinking that in all the years I’ve known you, Draco Malfoy—I don’t ever think I’ve seen you as open as you are right now. And I’ll admit, I feel honored that I get to see it. That you trust me enough to show me this part of you.”

Draco blushed a bit, his throat closing off with emotion and he had to clear it a couple times to get his damn feelings under control.

“You deserve nothing less from me, my witch. Our family is the most important thing in the world to me. It always will be.”

“I know it. I promise no matter what happens, this here is what I want. There is nothing more precious to me than you and Scorpius.”

Draco nodded in reply, too emotional to speak lest he cry like a fucking baby. His heart was so full of goodness and light...but that was what Mine brought to he and Scorpius’ life.

Hope.

Chapter Text

Lucius Malfoy wasn’t the kind of man who appreciated being summoned by anyone, but when he asked Theodore Nott to help him with his little project, he hadn’t expected it to take quite this long.

Moving through the Ministry, he headed into the Department of International Cooperation and straight for Theodore’s office. Much of the positions after the war had been off limits to Death Eater family members. Thoros had died in Azkaban shortly after the Final Battle, and though his only child and Heir had never taken the Dark Mark...the guilt by association had been enough to deny Theodore the one position within the one Department he’d coveted.

The Department of Mysteries.

Plus Thicknese, having been imperiused by Corban Yaxley—after the war had ended and he’d returned to his original post as the Head of the DoM, had simply gotten rid of every Pureblood that had any remote ties to Death Eaters. As far as Lucius knew, Theodore had applied once a year since the war had ended and each time his request had been denied.

Lucius couldn’t say he hadn’t used that little factoid for his own benefit. Getting the young Nott Heir to help him with his little time turner project had really been a stroke of genius.

As he got to Theodore’s office, Lucius ignored several stares from the plebes who worked in the area and knocked on the office door.

“Come in.”

Lucius entered the smallish office and noticed right away that Theodore wasn’t alone. His fiancé Daphne Greengrass was sitting in a chair across from him, her posture perfect as she stared at him blankly.

“I do apologize, Theodore.  I can return another time if now isn’t possible.”

“Nonsense, Lord Malfoy. Please have a seat.”

Lucius sat down regally and tried to ignore the sense of foreboding within his chest.

Something wasn’t right with this scenario.

“Perhaps we might have this discussion another time?”

“No. Now is good.”

Theo opened his desk drawer and took out the green box that Lucius knew held the time turner. He tried not to bristle at the fact that Theodore had shared their little venture with Miss Greengrass and his son’s paramours words came back to his mind.

“I suspect that you have shared this with Miss Greengrass?”

Theo smirked and nodded. “I don’t keep secrets from my future wife. But the reason she’s here today is we are both quite interested in how Hermione Granger has managed to clip Rita Skeeter’s wings?”

Only years of Pureblood training and having the Dark Lord living in his home kept Lucius’ expression calm and bored.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you could mean, Theodore.”

“Nonsense.” Daphne interjected. “There is no way that Draco didn’t inform you of his new relationship with the mudblood witch. The fact that Skeeter made the Malfoy family seem quite sympathetic after everything you’ve done, reeks of blackmail. Theo and I just wanted to know how she did it.”

Lucius chuckled and shook his head as he did a quick wave of his hand and accio’d the box back to him—placing it into his robes before either one of his hosts could react.

Theodore’s gaze darkened but Daphne just chuckled.

“Predictable. What makes you think Theodore didn’t make a copy?”

“If young Theodore did do such a thing, then he has put himself in equal jeopardy, Miss Greengrass. I am going to assume that this little blackmail attempt was to help secure Theodore a position in a department that has eluded him, whilst offering the added incentive to knock me down a peg or two due to my insistence that your sister marry my son and produce an Heir before her untimely death?”

Daphne’s gaze narrowed, while Theo just sat back and waited to see what his fiancée would do.

“I almost feel sorry for Draco,” Daphne said coldly after a moment, “to have you for a Father.”

Lucius scoffed. “And what of your own parents, Miss Greengrass? Did you not discuss your misguided anger to them when the contract was meted out?”

Daphne’s face registered uncertainty, so Lucius forged on. “Your Father, knew that Astoria was afflicted prior to the signing of the contract. He took Malfoy galleons willfully knowing what fate awaited your sister. Since Draco’s betrothal was sighed before yours to Theodore, it was within my right to insist that you be given to my son in recompense for the slight. But my son refused. Apparently, he knew your heart was set on Theodore, and he refused to stand in the way of your happiness. He adored Astoria and took excellent care of her during her final days. She would’ve died, regardless. How she died, was an honor to your family and to mine. You seek to undermine her sacrifice. So whom is the injured party here?”

Daphne’s expression morphed through several emotions, but the final one was disgust.

“You have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

Lucius stood up and looked down his aristocratic nose at the blonde witch.

“You will find that the truth needs no defense. However, whatever your plans to undermine my son’s happiness and that of my grandson? Be warned, Miss Greengrass. I might’ve fallen out of favor during the dark days, but I was still firmly ensconced within the Dark Lord’s inner circle. A wizard doesn’t get to that position without having certain contingencies in place.”

And without another word, Lucius Malfoy turned around—robes billowing and sauntered out of Theodore’s office, heading back home to the Manor.

Daphne turned to her fiancé, his expression pained.

“I told you this wasn’t going to work, love. Maybe it’s time for you to let this go now?”

“Is that what you want, Theodore Nott? For me to just forget about my sister!”

Theo walked over and kneeled in front of his witch, who’s eyes were filled with angry tears.

“I think Lucius Malfoy is not someone we want as an enemy. What are you angry with really? The fact that your sister died happy? That Draco cared enough to love her and spare you and me a fate that neither of us wanted? Or are you just upset that he’s moved on with the mudblood?”

Daphne folded her arms and sat back in her chair, her body language closed off.

“I don’t know.”

Theo nodded as he stood up and headed back around his desk. “Maybe you need to figure it out before you so something in your rage we can’t take back. Word is out here in the Ministry. Granger is coming soon and she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. Every department head has been prepped and her first assignment will likely be in the Magical Creatures area. But beyond that, Shacklebolt is grooming her to succeed him. Everyone knows it.”

“And how do you feel about having a mudblood getting such a position, when you can’t even work in the Department you wish?”

“Poetic justice, maybe? But, one thing I do know about Granger, is she’s inherently fair-minded.”

Daphne just sighed in resignation as even she couldn’t argue with that fact. Granger had always been a goody-two-shoes, bleeding heart in school.

“I don’t know how to let this go.”

Theo sat down and leant his elbows on his desk, staring sadly at his witch who clearly was still tormented by the loss of her sister.

“I think you need to talk to your parents. See if what Lord Malfoy said is true. Confronting him directly wasn’t the best Slytherin tactic, love.”

Daphne nodded as she stood, walked around the table and kissed Theo on the cheek.

“Do you have the copy secreted away?”

Theo sighed and nodded. “I do. But before you even consider this Daphne, you need to be sure. Because if we do this, there’s no telling what might happen.”

“I will consider all the options, Theodore. Don’t you worry yourself about that.”

Theo watched his witch leave his office with a heavy heart. He wasn’t sure if what he’d done was the right thing to do, but he could never say no to Daphne. Even as children, he’d followed her around with a singular purpose.

He’d always loved her.

He’d watched his vibrant, happy witch turn into a shadow of her former self with the loss of Astoria. Lucius Malfoy did make several good points, but Daphne was so biased against the Malfoy’s (with good reason) that she couldn’t see the truth. He was just afraid if she didn’t end this vendetta, he would end up losing everything that mattered to him.

And he didn’t know what to do about it.

Chapter Text

In the weeks that followed, Ron Weasley had been effectively ostracized by most of his own family as well as the Wizarding public. The confrontation that had occurred that day in the Leaky Cauldron had been front page news for days...

And he’d been left without a pot to piss in.

The only person willing to defend him was his Mum, even though his siblings had been adamant that what the Prophet had said about the confrontation, as well as Mione’s accusations had been true.

Even his own Da wasn’t speaking to him.

Ginny had come home from her Quidditch tournament and had taken one look at the paper, shook her head and left. No one knew where she’d gone, but the likely answer had been to her boyfriend’s home. Ever since she’d started dating that ponce Pucey, Ginny had gotten a large head and had been rather distant with her own family.

It was almost as if she was embarrassed to be linked with any of them!

Ron had decided to investigate on his own. The problem with that was he was too well known and his red hair outed him whenever he was out in public. He’d tried following Hermione at the Ministry once, but had been summarily kicked out on orders from Shacklebolt himself and since he didn’t work there...he’d technically had no reason to be there.

So he’d taken to checking in on Skeeter and seeing if she ever met with Mione or the ferret, but oddly she hadn’t. There was no in person meetings that he’d been able to discover and what was even weirder, was Skeeter didn’t once receive post from the Ministry. The Ministry owls were designated as such and easily recognizable. So it begged the question as to how Mione was controlling Skeeter, because Ron was positive she was.

His relationship with Harry, that had been tenuous at best, was now non-existent. Harry had returned every owl he’d sent to him in the last few weeks. Even Luna, who was normally friendly if a bit barmy—avoided him like he had Dragon Pox.

But the topper to his downfall had come in that morning’s Daily Prophet. It was an article by Skeeter on Muggle fashion and bringing it to the Wizarding World. There was a picture of Mione with the ferret and his spawn, along with Zabini and that bint Parkinson. They were all together eating at a restaurant in Diagon Alley, and the little group seemed cozy. In the main photo, there was a picture of Mione and Pansy walking out of the restaurant arm in arm, while Malfoy followed holding his kid and laughing at something Zabini was saying. Mione was wearing some kind of tacky Muggle outfit, and the article speculated that Parkinson was the one responsible for her ‘new look.’

Ron scoffed loudly. This was just further evidence that his ex was somehow manipulating Skeeter.

As he continued to stare at the page, his scowl turned into a wicked grin. What better way to ruin Mione’s plans that to out Skeeter himself? He’d be exposing Mione’s duplicity and be the hero in the process.

It was perfect!

Nodding to himself, Ron decided to do a bit of research on his own. While he’d never liked school much, he did know how to figure stuff out. All he had to do was find the spell that forced an animagus back into their animal form. He could do that during some big public event!

He’d seen the ferret with Mione at some Ministry shin-dig a week ago. It was in all the papers. Speculation on Mione’s new position within the Ministry and what her future there might be. Ron had been sickened by the article but Skeeter had been at the soirée. And as luck would have it there was another Ministry Ball coming up in a month.

The War Remembrance Ball.

Which was perfect because he’d be expected to attend and everyone would be there!

It was too perfect!

Chuckling to himself, he missed a voice clearing and when he looked up—it was George who was staring down at him with a wary expression.

“What has you all happy this morning Ronnikins?”

“Shove off, George! I don’t need you giving me a bad time today.”

George eyed the paper and smirked. “Good photo. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised by Hermione spending time with Parkinson, but from what she tells me the witch has changed quite a bit.”

Ron scoffed again, but didn’t rise to the bait.

“What’s a matter, Ron? Still trying to figure out a way to keep ruining Hermione’s happiness? Haven’t you already done enough damage?”

Ron’s ears turned beet red, and George inwardly smirked at how easy his little brother was to rile up.

“She’s blissfully happy with Malfoy, you know. Good bloke. Seems to be as crazy about her as she is about him.”

Ron bit his lip hard, desperately trying to hold onto his temper.

“According to Luna, who had them over for dinner with Harry the other night—they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. I think she even said they ended up leaving early and she was convinced they were begging off to go shag each other’s brains out.”

Ron slammed his hands down on the kitchen table and glared at his older brother, who looked too pleased with himself.

“Fuck off, George! I don’t need to hear about how great Mione’s sex life is with the ferret, thank you! He’s a slimy snake as is his whole Death Eater Family! How you could take her side over your own flesh and blood is beyond me! Fraternizing with the enemy, you are!”

“Enemy! Do you even hear yourself, little brother? How utterly mad you sound! You’re just upset that no one other than Mum buys your bullshite any longer. Everyone knows what a spineless git you were and no one wants to be associated with some who is a cheat and a liar!”

Ron stood up, his whole body bracing for a fight. “That’s rich! Or did you forget how Fred died!? He was killed by Death Eaters! And Mione’s involved with one of ‘em!”

George’s expression closed off as he sneered at his younger brother.

“How dare you talk to me about how Fred died! No one knows better than I do about Fred’s death! And if I can learn a bit of forgiveness then I don’t know what the fuck your problem is!”

Ron paled, seeing his older brother shaking with emotion.

He realized too late he’d stepped over the line.

“I’m sorry, George.”

But his older brother just shook his head at him in disgust.

“You’re always sorry, Ron. Sorry when you turned on Hermione third year, sorry when you turned on Harry fourth year, sorry when you abandoned both of your best friends on the Horcrux hunt...sorry when you cheated on Mione...Oh! Wait a moment! You never were sorry for that, were you? You broke her heart and you acted as if it was nothing! She was tortured! Crucio’d over and over again by that mad witch! Her skin carved into and she lied to spare you and Harry, and how do you repay that? You use your sorry cock on anything that will spread their legs for you! This is my last warning, Ron...you do what I know your planning in that pea sized thing you call a brain to hurt her, and I will end you...brother or not!”

George turned around to leave and spotted his mother in the doorway...her face ashen at the harsh words from her son. He then pointed at her and said sadly, “This is just as much your fault for not seeing what a selfish git your youngest son is. Stop coddling him, Mum, or I swear to Merlin your going to lose what’s left of this family. No one is going to stand by him when whatever he’s planning ends up blowing up in his ruddy face!”

Molly watched stunned speechless as George slammed out of the Burrow, leaving both she and Ron stunned silent.

After a few moments, Molly shook her head.

“What happened, Ronald?”

“Nothing, Mum. I just said something I shouldn’t about Fred, and George lost the plot.”

“Oh!” Molly nodded as if that explained everything. “Well, you really should be more sensitive about that, dear. You know how your brother is about that.”

Ron nodded. “I know, Mum. I didn’t mean it.”

Molly waddled over and patted Ron on the cheek. “Of course not, dearie. You hungry?”

Ron smiled and nodded. “I could do with something to eat.”

Molly tutted and set him down at the table while she fussed through the kitchen, making brunch. Ron stared down at the paper again and scowled.

Fuck George! He’d be eating crow soon enough!

They all would....

Chapter Text

Hermione found herself sitting in the ladies parlour at Malfoy Manor for the second time in as many weeks. She had floo’d directly to Narcissa’s sitting room, as she didn’t want to spend any more time in Draco’s ancestral home than she had to.

The first time she’d visited, it had been stilted and awkward. Narcissa had been on her best behavior, but Hermione could tell that the witch wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of welcoming her into the family.

Truth be told, she wasn’t thrilled with the idea either.

Oh, she loved Draco and Scorpius immensely and had missed them both when she started her new position at the Ministry. When she’d mentioned to Narcissa about how her meetings had gone with some of the Department Heads, the older witch had smirked and then made some ambiguous statements in regards to “Not everyone who supported the Dark Lord was as open about it.”

It had given Hermione food for thought as she considered the fact that despite winning a war, prejudice in the Magical community would always be a living, breathing presence.

Narcissa had then gone on to inform her that sometimes it was a matter of finding what that person you were dealing with needed the most...sometimes manipulation didn’t need to be overt, but subtlety was an art form unto itself and as a consequence, very much needed when dealing with the pontificated bureaucrats of the Wizarding Ministry.

It was another thing that Hermione had pondered the entire week after she’d left.

Now as she sat down to tea again with Narcissa, the older witch hummed as she watched with a critical eye as Hermione poured and served tea for both of them.

As Narcissa took her cuppa with a refined nod of thanks, her gentle sip was mitigated by the shrewd gaze over the rim of the fine china cup.

“So, have you given any thought to what we discussed last week?”

“Some,” Hermione demurred as she took a gentle sip from her own cup and then placed it silently onto the saucer in her other hand. “Robards is fairly straight forward for a Pureblood. No innate prejudices that I can detect, although he’s rather demanding and stern in how he deals with his people.”

“An admirable and necessary trait when dealing with the Wizengamot, as well as the public.”

Hermione nodded perfunctorily, but forged on ahead. “Dagmoor Broadhead in Magical Creatures seems to be a micromanager. He’s got his nose in everyone’s business within his department. It’s almost as if he’s paranoid.”

Narcissa smirked, silently surprised at how well Miss Granger appeared to understand some of her quarry’s traits.

“And?”

“His views are outdated, in my humble opinion. He has no love for Magical Creatures and sees them as a nuisance the Ministry is required to deal with. He’s not concerned for their welfare, nor how their lives might be improved. It’s all in how he has to deal with the fallout when something untoward happens.”

“Very good. What do you know of his family connections?”

Hermione thought for a moment as she took another dainty sip of her tea.

“His wife is a Ravenclaw, he was a Slytherin. So he’s not opposed to going out of his own comfort zone. Either that, or his wife holds more sway with him than meets the eye.”

Narcissa smirked almost proudly at the young witch.

“Maryanne Broadhead née Rosier. The youngest daughter of a second son. Therefore, her name is what matters to her. Her husband’s family whilst Pureblood, aren’t within the Aristocracy and whilst being somewhat respected and having some wealth to their name, can you guess as to why that marriage might’ve been allowed?”

Hermione pondered this for a moment before her eyes narrowed and then she said, “One of two scenario’s actually. The first would be both Maryanne and Dagmoor were looking for a political alliance that would seek to improve his social standing by ingratiating himself into his wife’s family circles. As far as I know, he’s the only son so he’d inherit the bulk of his family’s wealth. I would imagine, he received some kind of dowry for her hand, but nothing substantial as it might’ve been had she been part of the main family line or an older sister?”

“Go on.” Narcissa took another sip of her tea and watched the way the young witch’s mind worked. It was to be admired, and not for the first time Narcissa silently lamented the fact that this witch was a mudblood.

War Heroine non-withstanding...it was truly a waste.

“Since her social connections were likely worth more than his—at least intrinsically, she carried the weight in the marriage as do her political beliefs and alliances. He defers to his wife out of preservation, being a Slytherin. It wouldn’t be good form to upset the proverbial apple cart, now would it?”

Narcissa’s facial expression didn’t falter as she asked, “And your second supposition?”

“He got her pregnant out of wedlock and they rushed into marriage to save her reputation and good name. Which would’ve been the only thing she brought into the union, according to some.”

Narcissa raised her cup and saluted the young witch.

“If you had to surmise which of the two salient points were the actual one?”

Hermione thought for a moment before she plastered her own smirk on her face.

“The second one. The way in which he comports himself tells me that he’s not necessarily a happy wizard at home. His wife holds the cards, and he married her out of obligation and guilt. He resents her and the situation and while he benefits from the increased connections from his marriage, she wasn’t his first choice. Something tells me that she may have somehow coerced him into a compromising situation and then orchestrated things to her benefit, hence why he’s paranoid.”

Narcissa put down her tea cup and clapped in delight at how spot on the young witch was.

“Truly impressive, Miss Granger.”

Hermione blushed at the compliment, not expecting that kind of reaction from Draco’s mother.

“Now knowing this bit of information, how would you seek to deal with Mr. Broadhead going forward?”

“Well, he comes across as entirely apathetic. So if I had to hazard a guess?”

Narcissa nodded and waved her hand elegantly as if to infer, ‘go on.’

“He hates his position within the Ministry. While being a Department Head gives him some power and social connections, it wasn’t likely his first choice either. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume his wife’s connections were what elevated him to his level within the Department. He’s been there the majority of his Ministry career, which means that her name has exhausted any other possibilities of upward mobility for him. He’s stuck.

Narcissa’s tinkling laugh shocked Hermione, as the older witch looked utterly pleased with herself. When her blue eyes settled back on her, Hermione swallowed at the look on the other witch’s face.

It was almost proud.

“Excellent!” Narcissa nodded. “So knowing this, how are you going to push your agenda going forward? He’s not going to be swayed into helping Creatures he cares little for. He has no incentive to do so?”

Hermione smirked wickedly. “Not as such. But forging an alliance with me and my good will might motivate him to make changes if he felt he would be getting something out of it.”

“And he would be beholden to you for that opportunity as well.” Narcissa added with another smirk.

“Yes. So I would need to approach him as if by doing what I want, it’s in his best interests, too. It will elevate his standing within the Ministry and perhaps give him some leverage within his marriage as well. If he feels he can usurp his wife’s hold on him, he’d be daft not to follow through.”

“Well done.” Narcissa sat her cup and saucer down on the tea tray. “Seek his counsel, make him feel validated in your endeavors. Compliment him sincerely, but remain staunch in your position. Do not seek to undermine him, and you will have an ally.”

Hermione smiled and nodded as she went to set her tea cup and saucer down next to Narcissa’s and they heard a floo activate somewhere within the Manor. A few minutes later, Lucius walked into the parlour. His expression was aloof as he stared her down.

“I didn’t realize you were having company today, my Dear.”

“Miss Granger and I have been meeting weekly to chat about certain issues in regard to her new position within the Ministry. We were just having a lively discussion about the Head of Magical Creatures and his wife.”

Lucius lips tilted upwards at the corner, intrigued as always with the discussion of politics.

“And what conclusions did you draw?”

Narcissa’s attention turned back to the young witch, who sat there demurely—not at all bothered by the sudden intrusion.

“Lady Malfoy was asking me my opinion of Dagmoor Broadhead and his current policies within his department. I surmised that his lack of concern towards his underlings likely stems from a sense of emasculation on the home front. I’m sure the wizard might be more willing to be agreeable if he could make some inroads amongst his colleagues and superiors on his own merits. Wouldn’t you agree, Lord Malfoy?”

Lucius actually chuckled, his eyes alight with mirth as he considered Draco’s paramour. One quick glance at his wife let him know that the young witch had indeed, come to the right conclusions on her own.

He nodded to his wife as she casually offered him a seat next to her. Hermione silently asked if he wanted some tea to which he nodded again once. He then watched the young witch prepare the tea with all the style and grace of a Pureblood.

It was disconcerting, if he was honest.

Lucius took the proffered cuppa with a hum of thanks and upon his first sip, his eyes widened at the sweet, milky flavor. She had prepared it exactly to his liking.

“You are quite the observant witch, are you not, Miss Granger?”

“I’d like to think so.” Her voice was calm as she continued, “Did you have an enjoyable morning, Lord Malfoy?”

Lucius eyed her and then bowed his head. “I had a meeting at the Ministry.”

Hermione’s gaze lifted briefly to his, before she hummed noncommittally.

“I will need to get back there soon myself.”

“Are you crafting your own hours?” Lucius asked plainly.

“Sort of.” She responded with an easy smile. “Kingsley is allowing me to wade in slowly. I think he doesn’t want to spook me off.”

“I can’t imagine that would do well, considering all the positive press you’ve garnered as of late.”

Lucius took another sip, his gaze clearly assessing her every move, mannerisms and responses.

“Kingsley knows I’d never back down from something once I’ve committed to a cause,” Hermione’s gaze locked onto the elder Malfoy wizard and she saw his lips twitch briefly at the double entendre and she paused for effect before she said coldly, “How was Theodore Nott doing today? I have yet to make his acquaintance formally since I’ve returned home.”

Lucius blanched and then his own gaze narrowed as he tried to stare her down.

“I’m unsure of what you could mean, Miss Granger.”

“Oh come now, Lord Malfoy? Let’s not prevaricate with each other. It was my understanding that you were having Theodore Nott working on a little project for you.”

Narcissa glanced at her husband with a questioning look, while Lucius gaze remained fixated on the young witch. His hand flexed towards his wand, but the cold smile from Hermione let him know that might not be his wisest course of action.

“What do you want, Miss Granger?”

Hermione sat back and unfolded her crossed ankles demurely and then sat a bit more in an offensive posturing before she said, “I can understand the desire to change things to our liking. So I have a question for you?”

Lucius nodded and noticed his wife gazing back and forth between the two of them, clearly confused and not happy with the fact.

“If you could change one event in your past? What would it be? Would it be never taking the Dark Mark? And how would your future have looked had you not done as I’m sure your own Father required of you? Would you have not put that diary in Ginny Weasley’s cauldron? Or perhaps made a different tactical choice during the battle at the Department of Mysteries? You might not have fallen out of favor with Voldemort...(she saw both of Draco’s parents flinch at the name and it took all her control not to snort and roll her eyes at how ridiculous they were still acting over a fucking name)...but who’s to say you might not have displeased old snake face some other way? He was rather unhinged. Would you have allowed your own Son to be marked?” She paused with a smirk, “Do you see where I’m going with this?”

“And you have such experience in these matters, Miss Granger?” Lucius sneered when Hermione actually chuckled at him.

“How do you think Buckbeak and Sirius escaped punishment my third year?”

Lucius eyes widened and Narcissa hissed out a shocked gasp, as she now had both of their undivided attention.

“I was given a Ministry approved Time Turner to use my third year. I wanted to take all the classes Hogwarts had to offer and Dumbledore approved my request. Circumstances being what they were that year with Sirius on the run, the day in question was quite an eventful one. Needless to say, Harry and I used said time turner, went back in time and saved Buckbeak as well as Sirius from the Dementor’s Kiss. But there was one valuable lesson I learned from that experience.”

“Which was?” Lucius inquired, painfully intrigued.

“Changing the past never works out quite the way we envision it to. So, I am curious? Are you more unhappy with the fact that Voldemort lost the war? Or the loss of your family’s status? Or the fact that a mudblood now sits in your ancestral home, taking tea with your wife and is romantically involved with your son, and is a mother figure to your only grandson and Heir?”

Lucius sat back and smirked at how well played Miss Granger had made her point. He could very well concede that he wasn’t sorry to see the Dark Lord dead and while it rankled him that his Son was involved with a mudblood, he was more upset at the loss of his family’s status.

“I think you know that answer to that question as well, Miss Granger.”

The young witch sighed and nodded sadly. “I do. If you wish to regain that which is most precious to you, I do believe your choice is fairly straightforward. Your wife and son are alive and well. You have an amazing grandson, who has already expressed his first bout of accidental magic.”

Both Malfoy’s eyes widened and Narcissa choked on a sob as her hand flew to her chest in proud astonishment.

“If you seek to undo the changes and chances you’ve been given, you may not like the end result. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. You might want to think on that, Lord Malfoy.”

Lucius didn’t say anything in response, he simply bowed his head in agreement.

Hermione then smiled genuinely at Narcissa. “Thank you for inviting me here for tea today, Lady Malfoy.”

Narcissa stood with the young witch and nodded. “Of course. Same time, next week?”

“Yes, that would be lovely.” Hermione turned to Draco’s father and smirked. “Please keep in mind what I’ve said. And if I may?”

“Would I be able to stop you?”

Hermione smiled and shook her head. “If you entrusted Theodore Nott with what I think you did, then you might want to think of how Daphne Greengrass might seek to use said item once he perfects it. I’m assuming he hasn’t...but I’m sure he tried to force your hand today and I’m sure as any good Slytherin would do...he made another as a template.”

Lucius swallowed and paled slightly, as he stood fully.

“I will take all you’ve said to heart, Miss Granger.”

“Please do.” She replied firmly, “I love both Draco and Scorpius deeply and I will not allow anyone to bring them to harm. Not even you.”

With one last curtsy, Hermione moved gracefully into the floo and called out for the Ministry of Magic.

Leaving two very stunned people staring after her in shock.

Chapter Text

When Hermione returned home that night, it was to the sounds of Draco chasing Scorpius around the house and her little munchkin giggling like mad as they ran from room to room. She hadn’t even gotten a full three steps into the floo room when she heard the screaming of ‘Mimi home!

And then the pattering of little feet as they scampered into the room and straight for her.

She picked him up with both her hands underneath his armpits, lifting him and blowing raspberries on his tummy—his infectious giggles interspersed with ‘gain Mimi, ‘gain!’

Draco sauntered in with a pleased smirk, as he came over and grabbed their little monster under his arm and twirled him around once before settling him comfortably within his embrace and kissing her with a happy hum of welcome.

“You’re home a bit later than usual, Mine. How was your day? Didn’t you have tea with Mother today?”

Hermione’s expression faltered for a split second, but enough that Draco noticed...if his raised eyebrow was any indication.

“Did something happen?”

Hermione eyed Scorpius and then mouthed, ‘later.’

Draco nodded unhappily and gestured for her to follow them both into the kitchen where dinner was waiting for them under a stasis charm.

Scorpius was cleaned up before Draco placed him into his high chair and then Mippy popped into the kitchen to remove the stasis spells and make sure everything was at the proper temperature before they ate in earnest.

The stuffed Cornish game hens were one of her specialties.

Draco poured some wine and then sat back and Hermione could tell he very much wanted to ask her what had happened. She was amused at how very like the Draco from Hogwarts he still was, in some respects.

Impatient and demanding until he got his way.

“Go ahead, snake,” Hermione just shook her head at him, “I know you’re just chomping at the bit.”

“Humph,” Draco pouted, “that seems a bit harsh.”

“But true.”

“Whatever, witch.”

A few bites later and Hermione’s stare was still fixated on him until he caved completely.

“Fine! What happened?”

Hermione’s light laughter caused Scorpius to giggle too, and Draco couldn’t help but smile fondly at both his witch and their son.

“You’re adorable when you pout.”

Draco just rolled his eyes, but didn’t deny the assertion, so she decided to cut him some slack.

“Your Mother and I actually had what amounted to a very good exchange. I think I even managed to impress her.”

Draco’s eyebrow lifted, this time in disbelief, so Hermione shared with him the entire conversation and at the end—he was smiling and chuckling to himself.

“Leave it to you, Mine, to actually impress my notoriously difficult Mother.”

Hermione grinned but then her face fell as she was loathe to share the rest of it with her wizard.

“Your Father came home as we were finishing up. He’d just returned from the Ministry.”

Draco stiffened as his expression hardened. “Theo?”

“Mmm, it would seem so. I confronted him about the Time Turner in a round about way.”

You did what?!?

Hermione huffed, but Draco was apoplectic as he stared her down.

“You confronted my Father about his involvement with Theo?”

“Didn’t I just infer that?”

Sitting back in his chair, Draco folded his arms over his chest and scowled angrily at her.

“Do you realize that was probably not the smartest move you’ve ever made?”

Hermione shrugged, completely unrepentant. “Oh, I don’t know about that. He actually didn’t deny it and I gave him some food for thought before I left. I also warned him, that I wasn’t going to stand by and allow anyone to harm you or Scorpius, not even him. I don’t think your Mother knew what he’d been up to as she seemed rather confused about the entire exchange. I don’t imagine he’s going to have an easy time explaining himself to her.”

“And Theo?”

Hermione sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. “That part I’m unsure of. I did speculate to Lucius that I’m convinced that Theo likely made a copy, probably at Daphne’s insistence. I can only imagine what her motivation might be.”

They both looked over at Scorpius simultaneously, and Draco didn’t need to be a mind reader to know what his witch was thinking.

“You really think she’d go back in time to try and do what? Make sure her sister doesn’t marry me?”

“I don’t know, Draco. There are so many ways she could alter the past to achieve the same end result. Making sure both you and Lucius end up in Azkaban would be the most likely scenario. That way, he couldn’t insist on the betrothal contract and you wouldn’t be available to fulfill it. Astoria would essentially be free.”

“But she’d still be cursed.”

“I didn’t say it made sense. At least not to us, but I don’t think Daphne is thinking rationally. She hates your Father and by extension you aren’t her favorite wizard regardless of how good you were to Astoria during the year you both were married. She’s angry, hurt and vengeful. That’s never a good combination.”

Draco nodded sadly. He remembered with perfect clarity Daphne’s reaction when he and Astoria had married. And then months later when they’d announced the pregnancy. She’d been inconsolable, knowing her sister was basically conferring a death sentence upon herself.

“What do we do?”

“I’m unsure as of right now.” Hermione paused and took a fortifying sip of her wine. “Tell me about Theo.”

Draco seemed surprised by the segue, but eventually answered.

“Theo’s a smart bloke. I was only a few points ahead of him at school. He’s a Runes and Arithmancy buff, but liked Charms well enough too. He’s always been in love with Daphne, since they were kids. He’d followed her around from the time we were all in nappies. I don’t think there’s anything he wouldn’t do for the witch.”

“Including creating a time turner for her?”

Draco nodded.

“If I call the Aurors in on this, even Harry—it’s going to raise some uncomfortable questions.”

Draco sighed and nodded. He agreed with that and he was pretty sure his Father would adamantly deny that said object was ever in his possession.

“So what do we do?”

Hermione eyed him over the table for a few moments, and then she said, “Would Theo likely admit to you that he’d made a copy?”

Draco shook his head. “Nope. Don’t think he’d admit to much of anything.”

Hermione sighed heavily. “That’s what I thought as well. So really, this is about getting Daphne to back off.”

Draco nodded and watched his witch think over all the possibilities before she sighed in defeat.

“I might have an idea.”

Draco’s eyebrow lifted again and he said, “Do I want to know what you’re thinking?”

“Not especially.” She admitted reluctantly. “But I will need to go and talk to Harry, so I just wanted to warn you.”

“So Potter saves the day again?” Draco bit out sarcastically.

“Draco, stop it!”

He rolled his eyes and she couldn’t help but smile at how ridiculous he was being.

“How is it that all the ways in which you annoyed me when we were younger, I just find kind of endearing now?”

“Because you can finally now admit you’ve always had a thing for me, Mine.”

She scoffed. “No, I really don’t think that’s it at all.”

“Wait a minute,” Draco began, “how are you going to get Potter involved without outing the reason why?”

“Harry owes me, so that alone should keep him from asking too many questions.”

Draco eyed her critically, his expression obviously not pleased as he asked, “What am I missing?”

Hermione sighed and bit her lip in contemplation. She wanted to be honest with Draco, but this was something that she’d never discussed with anyone outside of Harry and Ron. No one had ever known the real reason Harry had defeated Voldemort all those years ago.

“I promise I will tell you soon. I just need to check it out to make sure it’s even a possibility.”

Hermione watched carefully as Draco mulled over her words, before he nodded reluctantly. “Fine, whatever you need.”

She took his hand within hers and gave it a loving squeeze. “Thank you.”

Draco’s face morphed into a pleased smirk. “Oh, you’ll be thanking me later, witch. I’ll expect something in return for my concession.”

She laughed and said, “Now there’s the Slytherin prat I fell in love with.”

The wide, genuine smile that graced Draco’s features at her admission filled her heart with tenderness. She was still often amazed at the fact that she was now romantically involved and in a relationship with Draco Malfoy. Her gaze moved to Scorpius, who was smiling widely at her too, and she couldn’t help but respond in kind.

“What do we say that we go sit in the treehouse later and gaze up at the stars? It’s supposed to be a clear night tonight?”

“Jes! ‘Tars!” Scorpius patted his hands on his high chair table in excitement.

“I think that’s an excellent idea. I’ll have Mippy get it ready with some blankets and hot chocolate.”

“Sounds perfect. Let me just go take care of this and I’ll meet you both up there?”

At Draco’s reluctant nod, Hermione excused herself and made her way to the floo, calling out for Grimmauld Place. Hopefully, Harry hadn’t changed the wards prevention her access. A few seconds later she heard his voice.

“Mione?”

“Yes Harry, it’s me. Can I come through for a moment?”

“Sure.”

As the green flames flashed, Hermione found herself back in the main room at Grimmauld Place and she stared around in surprise. The home was no longer dark, dank and dusty but filled with color and light.

It was a strange.

“Harry, thanks for seeing me.” She said kindly. “Looks like you’ve done a lot with the place?”

Harry nodded and held out his hand, and showed her to the kitchen—which was updated with new appliances and well as painted a pretty yellow.

“Luna?”

“Yeah, she likes bright colors. I didn’t have the heart to tell her no.”

Hermione smiled. “How did that happen?”

Harry went over to the stove to make them both some tea. “Do you still like English Breakfast?”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

He hummed as he placed the tea kettle on the stove and then said over his shoulder as he grabbed the tea mugs from their usual spot.

“After you disappeared, things were really tough for a while. Luna was never one to defer to my status as the Chosen One. She just told it to me like it really was, and I’d realized not too long after Ginny and I ended things—that the only two people who’d ever given that to me were you and her. From there, we just started spending time together and eventually fell in love.”

“But she still doesn’t let you get away with your own shite?”

Harry’s eyes widened comically at Hermione’s use of profanity, before he chuckled and nodded. “You mean when you decked me?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Yeah, well...I deserved it. I do tend to be my own worst enemy.”

Hermione watched Harry pour the water into the tea mugs and then set one in front of her with a bowl of sugar and cream.

“So what can I do for you?”

Hermione’s amber haze lifted and locked onto Harry’s in shock, but he was just smirking at her fondly.

“What? I’m not an idiot...well, at least not all the time. I do know that you’d never have come here unless you desperately needed something from me. We haven’t exactly patched things up the way I’d hoped.”

“You do understand why, correct?”

Harry nodded solemnly. “I do. Maybe in time that will change.”

Hermione took a measured sip of her tea and then said, “Maybe. But you’re right, I do need a favor. I can’t tell you why I need it, but I am hoping you might help me.”

Harry considered his former best friend over the rim of his own tea mug. He could see the tension in her body, and he knew that whatever this favor was...it was important. Nothing short of a dire need would’ve caused Hermione to be sitting here with him right now.

His own response was given accordingly. He owed everything to his best friend. He wouldn’t turn her away.

“Whatever you need.” He said at last, earning him his first genuine smile from Hermione in over three years.

“Just remember you said that, Harry Potter.”

And then taking a fortifying breath, she asked her favor and instead of appearing shocked and angry, Harry just sat back and gazed at her with a blank expression upon his face. Of all the things he’d expected her to come to him with...this had not been it.

“I think I can help with that. Give me a couple days and I will send you my patronus when I have it.”

“Thank you, Harry.” Looking at the time, Hermione sighed. “I should be getting home. Draco and Scorpius are waiting for me.”

Harry grimaced slightly, but nodded all the same. As he led her to the floo, Harry reached for her arm gently to stop her progress from leaving.

“Are you planning on telling Malfoy?”

“I think you know the answer to that.”

Harry nodded in resignation before he asked quietly, “You happy?”

Hermione seemed stunned, but she smiled softly and nodded.

“More than I ever thought I could be. I know our shared history with Draco wasn’t what anyone would consider good...but he’s not that same, scared wizard he was when we were kids. I don’t think I ever really took the time to understand what it meant to be him. For better or worse, you’ve always known your path Harry. Your own morality was based on your upbringing, but we both know that Dumbledore for all his pontification about the ‘greater good’—used all of us to achieve what he couldn’t on his own. I don’t blame him. Merlin knows there was a lot of stuff back then that looking at it now, it’s a wonder we all survived. But Draco suffered too. More than you’ll ever know.”

Harry’s features scrunched in confusion. “I’m not sure I understand.”

Hermione sighed heavily. “It’s not my place to say—really. But one thing I will tell you is that sometimes looking into a mirror shows us not only the reflection of what we are seeing, but the harsh realities of what we’ve had to face. Just because Draco grew up with his parents, didn’t mean he was safe.”

Harry’s face twisted and then fell as he stared back at her morosely. She could tell he was trying to process and figure out what she could’ve meant by her words.

“Let me know if you find what I need. It was good to see you, Harry.”

The Boy Who Lived nodded and smiled. “You too, Mione. I’ve missed you, for what it’s worth.”

“I know, Harry.” She paused and then said, “Tell Luna hello for me?”

“Sure.”

And then Harry Potter watched with sad eyes as his best friend flashed through green flames back home, and he was left standing there wondering if he would ever be able to make it right, what he’d mucked up all those years ago. Hermione seemed genuinely happy and not for the first time, he wondered how that could’ve happened with someone like Malfoy.

Perhaps there was more to Draco Malfoy than met the eye.

Chapter Text

When Hermione returned home, she quickly went to change and then made her way outside to the treehouse, where she could hear Scorpius and Draco playing together. She climbed up the ladder and poked her head through the trap door with a grin.

“What are you two doing?”

Scorpius squealed happily, “Mimi, home!”

“Yes, little man, I’m back. Are we ready to watch the stars?”

“Jes! ‘Tars!”

Hermione crawled over and cuddled herself next to Scorpius, with Draco situated comfortably on his other side. When she had laid down and pulled her little tyke into her side, she sighed happily and felt Draco’s hand and it curled possessively into hers.

“Everything go okay at Potter’s?”

“I hope so.”

Draco moved over onto his side, propping his head up in his hand as he stared down at his little family. “Why doesn’t that make me feel any better?”

Hermione stared up into deep grey eyes that were filled with worry and she sighed. “Harry will come through. He owes me. It’s just hard, you know? When I look at him now, I don’t see my best friend anymore. The wizard who was like a brother...whom I did everything with...fought a war with...”

“What do you see?”

Draco asked after a few moments of silence, as he could tell his Mine was clearly struggling with her emotions.

“I see a sadness in Harry. Deep down, I know he feels guilt and remorse for what happened with Ron and how he dealt with it. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised by all of it as it wasn’t the first time Harry had taken Ron’s side over mine. But after Ron’s abandonment during our time on the run, I mistakenly assumed that it had irrevocably changed the power dynamic in our little trio. I was wrong.”

Draco nodded thoughtfully, well remembering many of the times that they witless duo had ostracized Hermione when something didn’t go their way.

“You know,” Draco began hesitantly, “sometimes we just react in that knee jerk way when something happens and then we don’t realize what we’ve done until much later. Hindsight is great for that, but Potter has always been a react first, think later kind of wizard. I think he’d figured that you and Weasley would work it out as always and he’d be spared from having to choose a side.”

Hermione cuddled Scorpius to her as she nodded and sighed softly.

“Harry all but admitted as much.”

“What a wanker.” Draco grumbled lowly, and Hermione silently agreed with that assessment. She was done defending Harry from his own shortsightedness and stupidity.

Rolling to his back on the large feather bed, Draco waved his wand and the top of the tree house vanished but what had taken its place was something akin to a telescope except it was the size of the small roof, and Hermione couldn’t help the gasp that fell from her mouth as she gazed upwards towards the heavens.

It was a brilliant piece of magic.

“Pwetty ‘tars!” Scorpius pointed his tiny finger upwards, and Hermione found herself smiling at how inquisitive he was.

Draco took his time, pointing out various stars and constellations to them both, and Hermione, who had adored Astronomy but hadn’t taken it as a NEWT level class—listened with rapt attention as Draco educated her on several facts of various stars she didn’t know about.

He was very sexy when he allowed his intellect to come out and play.

By the smug smirk on his face as he watched her watching him, let Hermione know he knew it too and planned to utilize it at some point to his advantage.

“Do you know where Daddy is, little man?”

Scorpius squinted as he looked up into the sky, while Draco and Hermione grinned at each other over his head.

“Dere!” He pointed to a star just over their heads.

“Good job!” She applauded with a clap. Scorpius had pointed to the zenith spot where Etamin was located and Hermione could see Draco’s proud smirk out of the corner of her eye as he fondled Scorpius hair with affection.

“Can we see Scorpius tonight, champ?” Draco asked.

The tyke squished his face tightly, as he stared out at the night sky—searching for something until he sighed.

“I don’ see it.”

“That’s right, because it’s not visible yet. It will be in a couple months.”

“Tay.” His voice was small, but then Scorpius pointed to another star near to Etamin—

“Dats Toria. Mommy.”

Draco swallowed hard and Hermione gazed up where Scorpius was pointing and nodded, raising her finger alongside his. She glanced over at Draco and he bowed his head in acknowledgment, his eyes filling with several emotions but for a moment, she could’ve sworn that worry and fear had flashed through them.

She smiled reassuringly and mouthed, ‘it’s okay’ and she saw his whole body sag with relief.

“Good job, little man.” Hermione whispered into Scorpius ear. Big grey eyes turned to her and then reached for her hand again as he said bossily, “Where u dat?”

“Hmm?” Hermione’s expression registered her confusion, but she heard Draco’s chuckling and when her gaze locked again with his, he just tilted his head up towards the heavens and Hermione mouthed, ‘oh’ like an idiot.

“I don’t have a star.” Hermione explained to Scorpius softly.

“Why not?”

The question was a simple one for Scorpius, Hermione realized. His father, mother and him all had names based on stars (after a fashion) so he probably couldn’t understand why she didn’t have one too.

“My name is not based on a star and I don’t have a star named after me either.”

Scorpius little lower lip wobbled unhappily as he stared up into the sky and then he turned to his father said demandingly, “Mimi needs ‘tar, Daddy!”

Draco laughed at how stern his little guy’s expression was. He could well imagine he’d had the same superior, haughty look when he was a child demanding something or another from his own parents.

“Would you like that, champ? Get Mimi her own star?”

“Jes! Mimi ‘tar too!”

“Well, I guess that’s settled, isn’t it.” Draco drawled and Hermione just giggled and nodded. She rather liked the idea of having a star named for her. It wasn’t something she’d ever considered for herself, but she’d be lying if she didn’t admit that it felt right.

“I suppose so.” Was all she could get out, her voice clogging with emotion. Scorpius cuddled into her further, and started sucking his thumb as he continued to watch the heavens. Eventually, the quiet of the evening lulled them all and after a while Scorpius fell asleep—nestled between his two parents.

Draco’s heart was filled to bursting as he watched his son and his witch nestled together as if they’d always been that way. He’d often wondered if Astoria could see him and Scorpius and what she’d think of his Mine taking care of their son. He’d known that it was Astoria’s wish that he find happiness and a Mother for Scorpius—and she’d even gone so far as to suggest just whom she wanted that person to be—but Draco had thought at that time—it was simply a wishful fantasy on both their parts.

But now?

He had to wonder if perhaps there was more to it than he’d originally thought.

Had Astoria seen what was to come?

Draco hated Divination it was true, but even he knew that there was such a thing as true seers and foresight. It was hard to imagine that Astoria’s words before her death had been nothing more than just words taken at face value—but now, he wasn’t so sure.

When he gazed back over at his family, he noticed warm amber eyes assessing him questioningly.

“You okay?” She whispered.

“More than.” He replied easily, his eyes filled with warmth and love.

“Thank you.”

“For what, love?”

“For giving me a family. For following me that night and not allowing me to disappear again.”

Draco’s mouth quirked playfully. “I did tell you that I wouldn’t let you get away from me again.”

“I know.” Hermione sighed sleepily as she pulled Scorpius closer to her and reached for a blanket to snuggle down underneath. Draco helped them get situated and soon they were all warm and toasty under the blanket—the only light coming into the small treehouse were the stars twinkling above them.

He then leant over and kissed Scorpius cheek and then placed a feather light kiss on her lips.

“I love you, Mine.”

“As I love you.”

Chapter Text

The seedy bar wasn’t his normal hangout but over the last several weeks, Ron Weasley—One Third of the Golden Trio and War Hero couldn’t find a place to go where someone wasn’t openly sneering his way or refusing him service. His brother’s had all but abandoned him and the only member of his family who was speaking to him currently was his Mum.

Even his Da was barely acknowledging his presence these days.

Downing another shot of firewhiskey, Ron didn’t know what to do. His confrontation with Mione, the ferret and the ferret’s spawn had been all over the Daily Prophet and for some reason he couldn’t explain—Skeeter was actually sympathetic towards his ex and her current whatever the fuck he was.

Ron had been convinced that Mione was blackmailing Skeeter, and he’d taken to using his former Auror skills by following the pesky reporter and going so far as to trace all her incoming mail. It was a useful spell he’d learned at the Auror office, and highly illegal but no one would suspect him of tracking Skeeter’s movements.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any correspondence between Mione and the reporter.

None at all.

Ron had a few contacts at the Prophet and he’d asked discreetly if Mione had been seen around their offices—or any of the Malfoy’s. There were thankfully still some witches who thought that Ron Weasley was an alright bloke and were willing to do him a solid.

But again, nothing had turned up.

However Mione was controlling Skeeter it didn’t involve her needing to keep in constant contact with the witch.

Blackmail alone wouldn’t be enough. Mione has tried that and after Rita’s sabbatical fifth year, the reporter had returned to her scathing articles and criticism of the Brightest Witch of the Age.

So it begged the question, how would have Mione forced Rita to voluntarily work with her? Because blackmail would be the only way to force the issue? Right?

Ron’s brain was beginning to ache after his sixth shot of firewhiskey, so he didn’t immediately notice the blonde-haired witch who took residence in the stool next to him.

“You look pathetic, Weasley.”

Ron turned bleary-eyed and gaped at the witch sitting next to him with a smug smirk on her face.

“Piss off, Greengrass. Don’t you have your little junior Death Eater back home.”

Daphne just chuckled as she grabbed the bottle of liquor and grimaced at the label.

“Geez, Weasley? What’s the matter? Couldn’t afford the good stuff that you had to drink this gut rot?”

Ron slammed down his shot glass and glared at the snooty bint.

“I don’t remember asking you to join me, Greengrass—so why are you here?”

“I’m here for the same reason your drowning your pathetic sorrows in the bottom of that shot glass. You’re upset that your erstwhile ex is currently shagging my former brother-in-law. We both know that somehow your ex has curtailed Rita Skeeter, and I’m guessing you know how?”

Ron shook his head and mumbled ‘fucking Slytherin’ under his breath, which only seemed to amuse the witch next to him even more.

“Come on, Weasley? You were a fairly good strategist back in school by all accounts. You mean to tell me you don’t know how your former ex-girlfriend is managing to control Skeeter?”

Ron shook his head, before he tossed back another shot.

“No. Mione blackmailed Skeeter back in school, but that didn’t work for long. She hasn’t been in touch with the reporter at all since their initial interview.”

Daphne sat back with a wicked grin. “And just what would Hermione Granger have to blackmail Rita Skeeter with?”

Ron returned the grin, before he sneered hatefully—“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“I believe I would.”

Ron leant over, and watched with amusement as Greengrass moved back from his advance.

“Why do you care? Isn’t Malfoy’s son your nephew? Don’t you care that by trying to ruin Mione you’d be hurting your own blood?”

This caused Daphne to scoff. “My familial concerns are none of your business and my reasons are my own. I just thought we could come to some sort of tentative detente for mutually beneficial purposes.”

“And that would be?”

“Ruining the Malfoy’s?”

“And what? Mione is just collateral damage?”

Daphne just shrugged. “She’s a mudblood and has no business being anywhere near my nephew.”

Ron’s face blanched and then he snarled out angrily, “I may hate Malfoy and I’m definitely not on good terms with my ex—but one thing I do know is that whatever my feelings are on their relationship—calling Mione that name isn’t going to encourage me to help you with whatever little scheme you have hatching in what passes off for a brain.”

Daphne sneered haughtily as she bit back, “You’re hardly one to sit on your high moral ground, Weasley.” With that she stood and eyed the wizard with a pitying look. “If you change your mind, the Ministry is hosting a little shindig for your former flame and a little birdie told me that she’s taking Draco as her plus one. If you’re willing to help me—perhaps we could kill two birds with one stone?”

Ron gave her a critical snort. “What’s in it for me?”

“Well, as I see it your reputation could do with a bit of good press right now. If somehow, it was leaked out that Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy’s relationship wasn’t on the up and up? That the Malfoy’s were using her for their own gain, or she was using them to elevate her standing into Pureblood circles? Do you think there’s anyone who would care to associate with them if we could prove just how Granger is controlling Skeeter?”

“And if you can’t?”

Daphne just chuckled ominously. “There is always more than one way to skin a cat, Weasley. Do let me know if you come to your senses and change your mind.”

With that, Ron watched the witch flounce out of the bar, her head held high. As he stared after her he had a sinking feeling in his gut that he didn’t know what to do with.

What exactly had Daphne Greengrass meant by that last statement?

Pulling out a few galleons and placing them down on the bar, Ron moved out into Knockturn Alley and started to head towards the Leaky Cauldron—wishing for the first time in a while that he had someone he could confide into. He’d burned his bridges with all his friends, and he wasn’t sure Harry would listen to a word he had to say—but his gut was telling him that something wasn’t right with that Greengrass chit and as much as he hated Malfoy, and detested seeing the blighter with his former girlfriend—he didn’t want Mione to end up getting hurt by whatever evil plan that witch was hatching.

Shaking his head clear, Ron decided to go to the apothecary and get a sober up potion. He had a lot of thinking to do. This day had turned itself on its head and he wasn’t sure what his next move was.

Elsewhere Theo was heading through the Ministry and back towards his office, when he noticed Hermione Granger talking to Padma Patil—the two witches smiling and chatting like they were old friends. Theo’s gaze narrowed as he walked by the witches and bowed his head politely at Patil—ignoring Granger until he heard her call his name.

“Mr. Nott—would you have a moment to speak with me?”

Theo turned around and stared warily at the curly-haired witch who gave one final nod to her friend and then moved gracefully over to him with a placid expression on her face.

“What can I do for you, Miss Granger?”

“I was wondering if I might beg a minute of your time?”

“Because?”

Theo was intrigued as the witch didn’t seem to be all that put out by his obvious reluctance.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, my new position here in the Ministry has me working with various departments and evaluating some of their personnel. I just wished to speak with you about your position here and perhaps gain a bit of insight as to the parameters of your job.”

Theo just lifted an eyebrow but noticing they were being watched, he waved his arm towards his office and followed the War Heroine into his private domain where he politely offered her a seat and some refreshment—which she refused.

Once he was comfortable, he waved his wand and warded the room getting a smirk for his troubles.

“Perhaps you might tell me why you’re really here?” Theo sat back and folded his arms with a smirk of his own.

He watched Granger chuckle as she sat back leisurely and crossed her legs at the ankle—sitting ramrod straight with all the grace of a Pureblood witch.

Interesting.

“Not so Slytherin after all, I see—mores the pity, I suppose.” The witch quipped easily and Theo had to bite back the grimace from falling over his features.

“I just don’t like to have my time wasted,” he replied blithely, “I do have a job to do.”

“But not the one you want, is it?”

Theo’s gaze narrowed as he leant forward—his entire attention now focused on the conversation at hand.

“And that is supposed to mean?”

He watched in silent horror as the witch’s expression across from him morphed into something almost sinister.

“It was my understanding, and please—correct me if I’m wrong—but you’ve applied to the Department of Mysteries every year since graduation from Hogwarts. Always with the same result. That must be rather disappointing for a wizard of your acumen and talents.”

The hairs on the back of Theo’s neck lifted in warning, as amber eyes regarded him coldly.

“That’s not exactly news, Granger—and it’s not a well-kept secret that Thicknese isn’t exactly fond of former Death Eaters nor their children.”

Hermione nodded. “I’m sure he feels he has good reason.”

“And you don’t?”

The witch’s smile now bloomed into something playful as she tutted, “Come now, Nott,” the inflection of his name held an edge that made Theo nervous, “we both know who I’m currently involved with. So if I had any issues with former Death Eaters or their offspring, I sincerely doubt I’d be romantically involved with one—now would I?”

Theo swallowed and sat back as he pondered how best to respond—but it seemed the witch wasn’t quite done yet.

“But that is neither here nor there,” she continued on easily, “I’m more curious as to what kind of talents you might think yourself capable of bringing to the Department of Mysteries? After all, there are so many interesting areas of study to choose from.”

“And you’d know that how?”

This generated a genuine laugh which made Theo feel even more on edge.

“Harry, Ron and myself along with Neville, Luna and Ginny all broke into the DoM end of my fifth year. I almost died when Dolohov hit me with one of his special curses after I silenced the git—hence why I’m probably still amongst the land of the living and not dead six feet under somewhere. But enough of that! So, what area interests you? Space, Love, Death—Time?”

Theo couldn’t help it, he noticeably flinched and watched the genuine smile on the witch’s face morph again into that rather unsettling look.

“Interesting. Well, I’m sure if you were to rethink your application again—I might be persuaded to help you.”

“Why?” Theo blurted out, clearly unsettled as he eyed the witch warily.

He watched Hermione Granger stand elegantly and smooth down her robes as she sighed and when their gazes locked, Theo was certain he saw a flash of warning in her eyes.

“Call it professional courtesy, Nott. The War is over, and it would be such a shame to hold onto old prejudices and hurts. Things like that could ruin a promising career and as you know, I’ve always been a champion of the underdog. I have a family now to think about and both Draco and Lucius have told me so many interesting things about your talents. It would be a shame to waste such promise, don’t you think?”

Theo just stared at the witch as she smiled one last time and he shivered at how much she looked like Narcissa Malfoy in that moment. Before she left his office, she turned around once final time and said icily, “Do let me know soon? Perhaps an act of good faith on your part might seek to smooth the process considerably?”

And with that, Theo watched in shock as Hermione Granger sauntered out of his office, leaving him completely flummoxed and unnervingly despondent over the fact that she knew everything.

Chapter Text

Upon returning home that evening, Hermione was accosted by a bundle of energy as her little man ran directly into her legs squealing her name.

“Mimi ‘ome!”

Hermione picked up her munchkin and cuddled him into her chest just as Draco sauntered into the floo room with a pleased smile upon his face.

“He has been missing you all day today.”

“Really?” Hermione grinned and then settled Scorpius onto her hip with one arm as she tapped his nose with her other hand. “Did you miss me today?”

“Jes!” Scorpius piped up pompously. “Daddy said you buzy and he pomised we go to park when you got home.”

“Ah, I see.” Hermione nuzzled her little guy and blew kisses on his cheek and neck, earning a plethora of happy giggles for her efforts. “I suppose we could go to the park after we’ve had dinner.”

“Tay.”

Hermione moved over to her wizard who was smirking in that deliciously provocative was of his.

“How did it go today?”

“You mean, how did my little tête-à-tête with Theodore Nott go?”

Draco chuckled and nodded.

“It was interesting.”

Hermione walked out of the floo room with Scorpius still attached to her hip, while Draco followed, his expression openly curious.

“Did you get a sense of whether or not your supposition was correct about Theo making a duplicate?”

Draco watched the devious smirk appear on his witch’s face, and he felt his trousers tighten pleasurably at how utterly Slytherin his little witch could be when properly motivated.

“Oh, he did it—alright. There’s no question in my mind that Theodore Nott made a copy of your Father’s time turner and what’s even more intriguing is it would seem that he’s not exactly comfortable with it. If I had to take an educated guess? I would tend to think that he made another at the urging of Daphne, and he regrets doing so.”

Draco sat down on a stool behind the kitchen counter as he watched his witch get Scorpius cleaned up a bit before placing him in his high chair and pulling out a few coloring books before she started getting dinner ready. He had to admit, his Mine was most likely right about Theo and his motives. Draco had known Theo all of his life and the Heir to the Nott family had been in love with Daphne for almost as long. When they were children Theo would follow Daphne around like a lost puppy. It only progressed from there as once they’d entered Hogwarts together, Theo had made no secret of his abiding devotion to the blonde witch. It had taken Daphne a few years before she seemingly returned Theo’s overtures and by their fifth year the two had become betrothed.

Draco had to wonder if Theo was really on board with whatever Daphne’s plan was.

“Theo has always been in love with her,” Draco offered with a sneer, “but I’d like to think Theo wouldn’t be okay with Daphne possibly attempting to mess with the existing timeline because she’s angry at my Father.”

“Grief is a strange emotion, love, and people will often do questionable things in their grief.”

Draco eyed his witch with concern as he saw her bite her lip and worry it.

“Love?”

Amber eyes locked with his questioningly and Draco couldn’t help but wonder what his witch was thinking in that exact moment.

“Whatever Daphne’s reasons, it doesn’t change the facts. Astoria’s illness was terminal and as much as I’d wished better for her—Tori was adamant that she didn’t want her family to suffer because of her situation. I didn’t agree with Father’s insistence to force the contract but I respected Tori enough to allow her to choose for herself. Daphne has always been overprotective of her baby sister and I think it’s not so much her grief—but her own guilt over her sister’s choices.”

Hermione pondered Draco’s words for a few moments before she inquired, “Do you think Daphne could be made to see reason?”

“I don’t know, love,” Draco admitted with a resigned sigh. “The only person who could get through to Daphne would probably be Tori...but that’s not possible.”

Hermione bit her lip harder as she turned around and started cutting up some vegetables...not sure about telling Draco her idea until she’d heard back from Harry.

Unfortunately, her wizard—who had always been more observant that most, chose that moment to move around the counter and come stand next to her—gently talking the knife from her hand. She watched him set it down before she felt his cool fingers tilt her head up so he could see her expression.

“What is it?” She felt his thumb gently caress her cheek. “There’s something you’re not telling me?”

She reluctantly nodded. “Please understand that until I hear back from Harry, I can’t explain yet.”

Draco moved back and folded his arms over his chest defensively. “This has something to do with why you went and talked to him. You mentioned he owes you a favor?”

She nodded. “He owes me many favors...but should he come through with what I asked of him I suppose it will wipe our slate clean.”

The shocked look on her wizard’s face was to be expected.

“Seriously?” He bit out, “This favor is that monumental?”

Hermione just sighed and nodded. “Yes. Once I have confirmation that he has what I asked him to get, then I can tell you.”

“Why can’t you tell me now?”

Hermione reached for Draco’s hand and placed a reassuring kiss on the back of his knuckles.

“Because I made a promise to Harry right when the War ended that we would never share with another soul certain things that happened that year we were out on the run. Regardless of my issues with both Harry and Ronald—to my knowledge, this one thing has never been spoken of nor shared with anyone outside the three of us.”

Draco’s expression blanched. “It’s bigger than the horcruxes?”

Hermione nodded and Draco whistled in awe.

“Just how is Potter going to react when you tell him you plan on sharing the details of whatever this is with me?”

“I told him in not so many words that it was my intention.”

“And his reaction?”

Hermione scoffed. “Harry Potter doesn’t have the moral high ground here, love. He owes me—plain and simple.”

Draco chuckled and pulled her flush with him before giving her a heated kiss, causing Scorpius to squeal and chant...”Mimi mine!”

Both adults laughed but Hermione went over to her little man and gave him a kiss on his cheek before saying kindly, “What did we say about sharing, Scorp?”

The little tyke pouted before he said shakily, “Mimi bewongs wif bot Daddy an me.”

“Yes, little love. I belong to both of you. You need to be okay with sharing me with Daddy because we both love you and Daddy loves both you and me too. Okay?”

“Tay.”

Draco grinned and said in a side-whisper, “He doesn’t sound convinced.”

“That’s because Malfoy men don’t like to share.” She quipped back playfully, earning a smug smirk for her comment...but she also noticed Draco didn’t deny it either.

The rest of the evening was spent making dinner and taking a walk in the park down the way so by the time they got Scorpius back home, bathed and ready for bed—the little tyke was out like a light within fifteen minutes.

Draco then pulled his witch into their bedroom and was in the process of undressing her slowly when a patronus burst into their room. Draco rolled his eyes at the majestic stag and scoffed when the voice of Harry Potter came out of the things mouth.

“Mione, I have the item.”

Draco watched his Mine’s expression morph from shocked to relieved to downright pleased.

She grabbed her wand and waved it, conjuring her otter and sent it back to Scarhead with the missive, “I’ll be at Grimmauld in fifteen.”

Watching his witch get her clothes back on, Draco huffed unhappily but she just kissed him deeply and promised him she’d be back quickly.

So he sat on their bed and watched her leave and stared at the clock in his room for what seemed an interminable amount of time (but in reality wasn’t more than thirty minutes)—when he heard the floo go off and then waited with baited breath for his witch.

When Hermione walked into the room, her smile was bright as she sat down next to him and grabbed his palm. Looking at her in confusion he was about to speak when he noticed she’d placed a small black stone in his hand.

“What is this?”

Her smile was victorious as she said simply, “That right there, my love—is our ace in the hole.”

“I don’t understand.”

Hermione closed his hand around the stone and said lowly, “Do you know the tale of the Three Brother’s?”

“From the Tales Of Beedle the Bard?”

“The very same.”

Draco nodded as he just stared at his witch like she’d lost the plot.

“What in Salazar’s name does a children’s fairytale have to do with this stone?”

Hermione giggled as she shook her head at Draco’s expression. “Love, do you know that the story of the Three Brother’s is more than just a children’s fairytale?”

Draco shook his head. “My Mum used to read it to me, but I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite of the lot.”

Hermione gasped at her wizard in shock.

This was a surprise!

For all his Pureblood upbringing the fact that Draco may not ever have been told about the Hallows was something she hadn’t expected.

“Do you know of the Elder Wand?”

Draco nodded. “The Deathstick. The most powerful wand in the world—but it’s a myth, love.”

“And if I told you it wasn’t?”

Draco sat back stunned before he opened his palm and dropped the stone on the bed between them.

“Okay?” He said after a minute. “The Elder Wand is real?”

“Yes.” Hermione sighed and then took the stone and set it on the bedside table before sitting cross-legged on the bed and encouraging Draco to follow—which he did reluctantly after a minute.

“The Elder Wand is the most powerful wand in the world. Voldemort was obsessed with obtaining it for himself and did eventually find it.”

Draco paled and swallowed heavily as he shook his head in confusion. “If that’s true, Mine, he would’ve been unstoppable.”

“Not if the wands allegiance didn’t belong to him.”

The expression on her wizard’s face was both comical and horrified as he processed her words and it took him a moment before he blurted out, “And who in Salazar’s name did the Elder Wand owe its allegiance to?”

Hermione grinned manically as she responded with a wink, “You.”

Chapter Text

He must’ve heard her incorrectly, because there was simply no way in Merlin’s saggy balls that he had been the Master of the Elder Wand! His gaze narrowed at the smug look on his witch’s face and he simply couldn’t help the sneer that spread over his countenance as he stood up and paced throughout his room—trying to fucking comprehend just how something like that might’ve actually happened.

Hermione, for her part, just sat there watching Draco in amusement as she saw the emotions flitter across his face. There was shock of course...then disbelief, anger, resentment...more disbelief...contemplation...denial and then finally curiosity as he glared at her with lifted eyebrows and his patented Malfoy sneer.

Explain.”

The word came out a bit harsher than he’d intended, but to his witch’s credit she didn’t take offense...she just patted the comforter on the bed where he’d been sitting five minutes ago with an expectant look.

Draco couldn’t help it—he rolled his eyes skyward but complied with the silent request and once he was situated comfortably, his witch grabbed his hands and brought them to her mouth in succession—trying to soothe his prickly disposition.

“It’s a bit of a story?”

Draco nodded. “That’s fine. If I have questions I’ll maybe wait until your done explaining—fair deal?”

“Sure.” Her smile was soft and loving and Draco felt the tension in his body abate somewhat as he waited for her to speak.

“So, the Elder Wand?” He nodded, so she forged on...”As you probably know now—the Myth of the Elder Wand is very much real. Harry and I were able to determine that the wand originally belonged at one time to Gregorovitch—the wandmaker. It was stolen by Grindelwald and then Dumbledore won it from Grindelwald in 1945 when they dueled and Dumbledore defeated him. That night, on the Astronomy Tower...when you disarmed Dumbledore...”

Hermione saw the change the second Draco realized the truth as his breath pulled in sharply and his face paled.

“I disarmed him.”

“You did.” Hermione agreed with a sad look. “You didn’t know what you’d done nor that the most powerful wand in the world now owed its allegiance to you. During the war, Harry’s mind was linked with Voldemort’s and I’ll explain why that was in a bit...” Draco nodded...”but when Ollivander was taken hostage, it was because Voldemort was looking for the Elder Wand and wanted to know who had it.”

Draco shook his head in the negative and Hermione stopped speaking—confusion marring her features.

“You might be a bit misinformed about that, Mine.”

“In what way?”

Hermione watched as Draco flexed his hands several times, and she could see the underlying tension radiating from him which worried her—but she patiently waited until he was ready to explain—which he did after a few moments.

“Just before Potter turned seventeen...there was a meeting at the Manor with all the Death Eaters and He announced to all of us that he and Potter’s Wands had twin cores. Something about they could maim but not kill each other because the wands wouldn’t allow it.”

“That’s interesting.” Hermione offered lowly. “Priori Incantatem.”

Draco shrugged. “Well, whether that is true or not—He took my Father’s Wand before he went after Potter. Apparently my Father’s wand was destroyed, hence why he was wandless for most of that year.”

Hermione just shook her head at how shortsighted Voldemort had been. For all his knowledge of magic, he was too arrogant to realize that wands were sentient unto themselves.

“Harry and Voldemort shared a connection, Draco, and that was the biggest reason he couldn’t kill Harry. Harry was a horcrux and when Voldemort ‘killed’ him that night in the forbidden forest there were several things at play. The first was Voldemort killed the piece of his own soul that was tied to Harry—the second was Harry was the Master of the Elder Wand because he’d disarmed you at Malfoy Manor and as such the wands allegiance shifted to him.”

Draco’s expression darkened minutely as he pondered that factoid...but after a moment sighed in resignation.

“Then it’s good he disarmed me because no one wanted Him dead more than myself after what happened to you in my home, Mine.”

She smiled and nodded, knowing that that night had been difficult for both of them for entirely different reasons. She had come to terms with that night a long time ago though.

“Draco, if we had never been captured by the snatchers...Harry could’ve never disarmed you and things would’ve likely been very different.”

“Maybe, but I still don’t like to think about it.”

“I know.” Hermione glanced over to the stone and picked it back up before placing it on the bed between them. “Voldemort thought Snape was the wands Master, that was why he killed him. We saw it happen but couldn’t stop it or heal him. He didn’t know that wand belonged to you—but Harry realized it I think at that moment, which brings me back to the third reason Harry didn’t die that night. Draco, do you know anything about the Deathly Hallows?”

The look of confusion on her wizard’s face let Hermione know he indeed, didn’t know what she was asking about.

“No. I’ve never heard of that term.”

“What about the Peverell brother’s?”

“That name I do know. The Peverell Family was a famous Pureblood Family that died out a couple hundred years ago.”

Hermione nodded and then opened her beaded bag and pulled out the copy of Beedle the Bard that Dumbledore had bequeathed to her all those years ago. Draco’s eyes widened in awe as the book came into view.

“Merlin! You have an original copy?”

“Yes.” She handed it over to her wizard, who took it with reverence. It was one of the many things she loved about him—his love of literature that matched her own. “Dumbledore left this to me after he died. Open it up where the page is marked.”

So Draco did, and he noticed immediately the strange runic symbol at the top of the page.

“What is this?”

“That, love, is the sign of the Deathly Hallows. The Cloak Of Invisibility denoted with the triangle—conferred to Ignotus by Death himself if the story is to be believed.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he stared at her in wonder. “The Peverell brothers?”

“Yes.” She admitted with a slight smile. “Antioch was the original owner of the Elder Wand. Ignotus had the cloak and he was an ancestor of the Potter family, hence why Harry had the Cloak of Invisibility.” She chuckled when Draco scowled before finishing with... “Cadmus was apparently, given the Resurrection Stone by Death.”

She wasn’t surprised when Draco’s face fell and paled—his eyes staring in horror at the little black stone between them.

“That is?”

“It is.”

“So it can bring back?”

“It can.”

“Fuck!” Draco whispered brokenly as he ran both hands down his face...trying to get ahold of his emotions.

“There is more.”

“Seriously?”

Hermione nodded. “These three items, when held by a single individual makes one Master of Death. It’s how Harry was able to survive the killing curse a second time. He saw Dumbledore in the afterlife, but the choice to return was his alone.”

“You’re shitting me?”

“No.” Hermione chuckled again as she didn’t think she’d ever seen Draco looking so...flabbergasted in all the years she’d known him.

“So Potter is the Master of Death?”

“He was.” She looked down and shook her head at how ridiculous she’d thought this all was—once upon a time. But things weren’t always straightforward and Magic was mysterious and beautiful. Deadly too. “After the final battle and Voldemort’s fall—Harry destroyed the Elder Wand. He’d meant to return it to Dumbledore’s tomb but felt that by removing the temptation—no one would try and seek it out. Without the wand the other items are simply Hallows...this one of course being what it is, it’s important that you knew the entire story behind it.”

Draco swallowed heavily and bowed his head for a bit before he gazed back up at her—his eyes filled with reluctant pain.

“So you plan to use this to summon Tori?”

“Only if we need to.” She admitted unhappily. “You know Daphne better than me. Tell me, love? Will we need to go that far to get her to back down? Do you really think she’d harm Scorpius by potentially trying to remove him from existence altogether?”

Draco couldn’t lie, not about this. He knew exactly what Daphne was capable of.

“Yes. To get her sister back...Daphne won’t care who she has to ruin to achieve that.”

Hermione thought that was highly likely too, although she really hadn’t wanted to admit it. It would be just her luck that she’d finally find happiness, peace and a family to call her own and some raving Pureblood lunatic witch would try and take it away from her.

She’d be damned if that was going to happen.

She wouldn’t let anyone take her family from her.

“I was afraid you were going to say that.”

“So what do we do?”

Putting the stone back into her bag, Hermione just shrugged. “If Daphne were going to do something untoward? Would she do it discreetly or make as big of a spectacle as she could?”

Draco smirked, his gaze heated as he admired not for the first time—his witch’s strategic cunning.

“She’d want everyone to know and since she’d be undoing time likely concurrently, no one would be the wiser but her.”

“So the gala?”

“Yes.” Draco agreed readily. “Assuming Theo has the prototype completed.”

“Then I suppose we will just have to figure out how to mitigate this from becoming a disaster.”

“And how do we do that?”

“That’s what I need to figure out.”

Chapter Text

A couple days had passed since Ron’s run in with Daphne Greengrass and now he’d found himself sitting in his brother’s office waiting for him to return from wherever the fuck he’d gone off to.

He had thought long and hard the past two days about how he’d wanted to handle this situation and the only thing he could come to terms with was no matter how angry he was at Mione shagging the ferret—he wouldn’t stand by and let some slimy Slytherin bring her to harm. He may have been a selfish git, but Ron knew that he wouldn’t—couldn’t stand by and do nothing either.

Hence why he was waiting for his older brother to return from whatever errand Lee said he’d gone on. Ron figured the only person who would give him the time of day was George. As angry as his older brother was with him—George cared about Mione more and wouldn’t want to see her hurt either.

He was also wicked with the planning and strategy too.

Plus he could convince Harry to listen if need be.

So that was where he was when George came walking into his office about an hour later, an incredulous sneer plastered on his face as he moved around his desk and sat down in his favorite chair—openly staring at him.

“Do I want to know why you’re here?” He finally bit out with a tinge of sarcasm.

“Yeah, I think you just might.” Ron’s voice was harsh and not altogether conciliatory but it was hard for him to admit that he’d fractured his relationships with his own siblings due to his selfishness.

“Then spit it out, Ronnikens, as I have work to do.”

Ron scoffed, but he sat back in his chair and fiddled with the edge of his jumper as he pondered how best to tell George his issue.

“Look, I know you’re mad at me cause the way I treated Mione but I think she might be in danger.”

George’s eyes narrowed as he leant forward, placing his elbows on his desk as he stared down his younger brother who was clearly nervous.

But George knew Ron too.

And he wasn’t lying.

“In what way?” He said at last.

“Daphne Greengrass came to me a few days ago. Wanted me to join forces with her to exact some kinda revenge on the Malfoy’s but she didn’t particularly care if Mione got hurt in the crossfire. She called her a mudblood—(George hissed at this)—and said that she shouldn’t be taking care of Malfoy’s kid. She also wanted to know how Mione was reigning in Skeeter.”

George’s expression was calculating as he continued to stare at his idiot younger brother.

“And what did you tell her?”

“Nothing much. I mean, I might’ve mentioned Mione blackmailed Skeeter back in school, but I didn’t give no particulars about any of what happened.”

Ron watched his older brother scoff at him, as he shook his head in exasperation.

“Were you drinking, Ron?”

Rubbing his hand along the back of his neck sheepishly, Ron nodded and his expression pinched at the dark look his brother was giving him.

“You’re a bloomin’ knucklehead, little brother. Why in Merlin’s name would you admit to something like that to anyone, much less someone who’s made it no secret of her hatred for the Malfoy’s? Or did that little tidbit only serve to make you believe that you could actually go up against Mione and win?”

Ron’s face turned beet red as he glowered angrily at his brother. “What do you wan’ me to say, George? That I fucked everything up? That I made the wrong choice?”

George just scoffed. “Come on, Ron! We both know the only reason you’re admitting this now is because after that little stunt you pulled in the Leaky and Skeeter’s blistering article condemning your drunken stupidity—you belatedly realize that you don’t have a pot to piss in!”

FINE!” Ron bellowed out, spittle coming from his mouth which he wiped always hastily. “I fucked it up! All of it! But it doesn’t change the fact that somethin’ ain’t right with this whole thing!”

George just sat back and eyed his brother with disdain—unsure what to believe.

But pretty sure he couldn’t afford not to.

“What do you want from me?”

Ron ran both hands down his face in frustration before he spoke. “I need to talk to Harry and he won’t meet me if I ask him to.”

George lifted both eyebrows in shock. “You seriously expect me to advocate on your behalf with Harry after everything? Merlin’s saggy balls, Ron! If this ends up being some elaborate scheme of yours and I end up dragging Harry unwittingly into this? And Mione gets hurt? He’s never going to forgive me and Mione will hex me good and proper!”

“I know, George—but you need to believe me! There is something fishy going on and we need to figure it out before Mione gets hurt.”

The elder Weasley just sat back and didn’t say anything for several minutes before he sighed in defeat and sent out his patronus to Harry. It wasn’t ten minutes later that there was a sound of apparition outside in the alleyway and the back door to George’s office opened, welcoming the Boy Who Lived—who’s own expression was at first curious—then wary when he noticed who was with George .

“What’s going on, mate?”

“Ron apparently needs our help. He thinks Daphne Greengrass may be after the Malfoy’s and Mione by extension.”

“And how would Ron know this?” Bright green eyes settled upon his former best friend, and Ron flinched at how dark Harry’s expression was.

“Greengrass approached me a few days ago at a bar in Knockturn Alley. She was fishin’ for information and wanted me to partner up with her to bring down Malfoy and his family. I don’t think she’s after Mione, but she didn’t seem too upset at the idea of Mione being collateral damage. She called her a mudblood and mentioned that she didn’t care much for the fact that Mione was being a mom figure to Malfoy’s spawn.”

Harry’s expression soured even further at the use of the hated slur.

“You know, Ron, if you’d just manned up and stood by Mione throughout all of this, she wouldn’t be with Malfoy right now.”

George just chuckled and shook his head at Harry’s assertion.

“Don’t kid yourself, Harry. My thick-headed baby brother would’ve screwed it up eventually.”

“Thanks, George.” Ron groused out petulantly, but the older Weasley just grinned.

“Just stating the facts,” his gaze moved from his younger sibling to Harry and he lifted a condescending eyebrow. “As for Malfoy, he’s head over arse for Mione—and she’s just as smitten with him. Whatever both of your hang-ups about Malfoy are—if you want to be a part of Mione’s life, you’re both going to have to accept that Malfoy’s not going anywhere.”

“Don’t remind me.” Harry bit out unhappily while Ron just sat back and scowled, arms folded across his chest.

“You both are such idiots.” George murmured with feeling.

“Whatever.” Ron replied shortly, “But the one thing Greengrass said when I basically told her to piss off was that there was more than one way to skin a cat. I’ve racked my brain for days tryin’ to figure out what she coulda meant by that.”

Harry’s expression was perplexed and even George shook his head, clearly dumbfounded.

“Maybe we should go to Mione and talk with her?” Harry offered at last. “Something tells me she’ll know what’s going on.”

“Do you really honestly think she’s going to trust either one of you with whatever this is?” George quipped. “You both haven’t exactly proved trustworthy in the recent past.”

“Fuck off, George!” Ron bit back, incensed but Harry just rubbed his hands down his face in agitation.

“He’s right, Ron. We’ve both treated Mione abysmally and she has every right to be distrustful of the both of us. I have to admit, I’m surprised to see you here. I would’ve thought you’d take any chance to hurt her and Malfoy.”

Ron just glared at his former best mate. “Well, surprised you din’ I? Look, I may have been a right twit, but I don’t want some stuck up Slytherin bitch to hurt Mione any more than you do. I might hate Malfoy, and with good reason—but if Mione insists on staying with the blighter, then she’s going to be a target. We all know that the Malfoy’s aren’t good people and they’re still fairly hated by a lot of people. Even with the good recent press—which we all know is cause Mione has somehow found a way to blackmail Skeeter into helping her—there’s a lot of bad blood there. So yeah, I’m not gonna sit by and let some bigoted bitch hurt Mione.”

“No, you’ve already got that covered—right brother?”

“Oh, fuck off, George!”

George just laughed to himself, enjoying his brother’s put out expression. He enjoyed riling Ronnikens up!

“So we go and talk to Mione?”

Both Harry and Ron looked over at George who just sighed in defeat.

“I’ll talk to her, yeah. But you both better be sure about this cause if this comes back on us—I’m placing the blame squarely on both of you.”

“Nice.” Harry deadpanned.

“Jerk.” Ron grumbled at the exact same time.

“Just smart.” George replied with a wink.

Chapter Text

Have you decided what you’re going to wear for the Ministry gala, dear?”

Narcissa watched as the young witch poured their afternoon tea with all the grace and aplomb of a proper Pureblood witch and not for the first time, Narcissa wondered if the Muggle Aristocracy was more in keeping with the magical one as far as certain traditions went.

It was definitely food for thought.

“I haven’t.” Hermione lamented with a small frown. “I’ve been rather busy with my job at the Ministry and taking care of things at home—that I haven’t had the chance to go out shopping. Pansy did mention though, in our last correspondence, that Draco had asked her to put a few pieces together and she will be here tomorrow.”

“I must admit,” Narcissa began hesitantly, “that my knowledge of Muggle fashion is rather limited. Draco mentioned a few times that Miss Parkinson works for an Italian Muggle fashion house. Perhaps it’s time that I see for myself just what these fashions have to offer.”

Hermione smiled inwardly at the curious gleam in Narcissa’s gaze.

There was nothing like fashion to bridge the gap of certain deep seeded prejudices.

“There are many couture fashion houses in the Muggle World. Here in London yes...but Paris, Milan, New York...each designer has their own style, if you will?  Some design for both casual and evening wear but others are strictly high fashion. The more exclusive a label, the more expensive it is and the higher quality of said items.”

“Hmm,” Narcissa thought for a moment as she took a delicate sip of her tea and nodded her thanks to her guest, “Do you have a favorite?”

Hermione shook her head. “Not especially. My Grand-mere always told me that style is something that is innate in all of us, but the trick is finding it and then having the confidence to own it. I think my problem for years was I didn’t have the confidence to just be myself and own who I was. I was always trying to please those around me, or worse...trying to blend in so I wouldn’t be noticed for standing out. This world didn’t exactly make it easy for me to be myself.”

“And yet you not only succeeded, dear, you did so in spite of the ridicule you faced. I must take ownership of my own shortcomings not only in how I looked upon you, but how I allowed my son to torment you in school. I had my suspicions where Draco’s affections we’re back during your fourth year, but I’m afraid Lucius and I were rather uncompromising on certain aspects of Draco’s life.”

“And I’m the exception, not the rule...yes?”

Narcissa smiled genuinely at how clever this young witch was. It was easier each day to see why her Dragon had fallen in love with the Gryffindor.

“That is true,” Narcissa admitted, “and I commend you for how well you’ve handled the adversity you’ve faced. I’m afraid there will always be those who will still look down upon your heritage despite your status as a War Heroine. It is difficult to change centuries of indoctrination, Miss Granger. Perhaps in time, and with the changing of the old guard—Scorpius generation might find some balance in their way of thinking.”

“That is why I’m doing what I can, Lady Malfoy. I just want Scorpius to be happy and accepted for who he is—not because of his last name.”

“Commendable, my dear—if a bit sanguine.”

“Well, I’m notoriously stubborn and strong-willed.”

“Draco has mentioned it a time or two.” Narcissa chuckled before taking another measured sip of her tea. “I don’t suppose you have given any consideration to whether or not Draco will be attending this soirée on your arm?”

“I have and he has expressed interest in doing so. Unfortunately there is the issue of Scorpius and I’m afraid Draco isn’t keen on leaving him with Mippy for the evening, nor am I.”

“I would be happy to take him for the evening.”

Hermione’s gaze narrowed at the older witch before she sighed in resignation. She knew that it was mostly due to Draco refusing to allow Scorpius to set foot in Malfoy Manor that he’d never once asked his parents to watch their grandson.

She also wasn’t ignorant of the olive branch currently being offered and Scorpius did need his grandparents too.

As loathe as she was to admit to such a thing.

“You would be willing to watch him in Draco’s home?”

Narcissa’s smirk fell easily onto her face as she nodded regally. “I would. And before you insist I take some ridiculous vow to protect my grandson, you need to know that what happened to Draco under this roof was not of my own choosing nor desire. A Malfoy bride that is magically bonded to her husband cannot directly interfere in the direct line of succession and as such—my hands were literally tied in stopping Abraxas from enacting punishments as he saw fit. I did eventually find a way around the marriage spells intent and as such—when the first opportunity presented itself, I had Draco’s grandfather removed permanently.”

Hermione’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “I thought Draco’s grandfather died of Dragon Pox.”

“That was the official story, yes.”

The young witch nodded as she thought about all the variables before she returned the elder witch’s smirk with one of her own.

“Black family spell?”

Hermione was stunned as Draco’s mother threw her head back and laughed gaily, her eyes sparkling with mirth as she considered the young witch with an almost fond look.

“And please regale me, Miss Granger? If I couldn’t have intervened directly, who might I have asked to do so on my son’s behalf.”

Ah, this one was too easy...Hermione thought with satisfaction.

“I don’t imagine Professor Snape would’ve had a problem taking care of any problem you might’ve requested of him, including this one. The man did take an unbreakable vow to protect Draco sixth year at your request?”

Hermione relished to look of shock that stole over the older witch’s face for the briefest of seconds before her expression once again—became a placid mask of feigned politeness.

“You truly are rather clever.” Narcissa hummed with a firm pleased nod. “But yes, Severus was many things, but loyal was foremost amongst them. I wasn’t unaware where his true allegiance laid, but even so—he was Draco’s godfather and as much as I’d wished things could’ve been different for Severus—I don’t think it was ever his intention of surviving after all was said and done.”

“He was in love with Harry’s mum.”

“Yes. Lily Evans was quite intelligent like you and Severus loved her from the time they were children. He was devastated when she’d been killed and anyone who truly knew Severus, would’ve known that his own fate and allegiance was sealed that day.”

“You don’t condemn his choices.”

“No, because in the end he spared my son and for that alone, I will always be grateful to Severus.”

“There were a lot of bad choices to go around, I suppose.”

Narcissa chuckled but couldn’t help and agree. “Unfortunately, you are correct. When one is fighting for ones survival or that of those they care for—it is easy to want to second guess those decisions.”

“Did you?”

Narcissa thought about this for a few moments as she sipped her tea thoughtfully and pondered what other options might’ve wrought for her and her family but in the end...her answer was simple.

“No. I did what I had to do, to protect my Son. I’d do it again, I’m afraid. Does that mean I’m not capable of regret? Only inasmuch as I wished better for Draco and now Scorpius. I don’t expect you to understand my choices, Miss Granger—and I will not seek to explain myself to you. I will only say that everything I’ve done from the time Draco was born until now has been to protect my Son from the choices of his Grandfather and Father. As much as I love Lucius, I am not blind to his shortcomings. I would imagine you understand Draco in much the same way, yes?”

Hermione smiled softly and nodded in response. “Draco as a child was rather unpleasant, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that much of his bullying was due to his jealousy of Harry and his overwhelming need to prove himself. The man he’s become...the Father that he is to Scorpius, is the Draco I think he’d always wished he could be—but didn’t believe he had the freedom to be. I love him, so I can look past those contentious years and choose to focus on the man he is now. I’m rather fond of the man he’s become.”

Narcissa’s face softened immediately and she sighed softly. As much as certain things were difficult to get past, in this one instance she could make the exception because the young witch across from her had earned that right. She loved her Dragon, had forgiven him and chosen to see the good man he was and always had been—if given the choice to be. Draco loved her desperately —Scorpius adored her too, and as such—Narcissa found herself actually beginning to like the Muggleborn witch.

“I’m glad to hear you speak thusly, Miss Granger. I know you will need to discuss it with my Son, but know that I would be happy to take care of Scorpius at Draco’s home while you both take the Ministry by storm. I’m sure he will want his own reassurances too, and that is fine.”

“I will let him know, and I thank you for the offer no matter what Draco decides.”

“Good.”

Narcissa called for her house elf to bring a fresh pot of tea and the conversation moved onto Ministry issues and the Lady of the Manor had to admit—she was growing more and more used to the idea with each passing day—that this young witch would soon be a member of her family.

Her ancestors would be writhing in their graves, but perhaps that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some of the Black’s were downright vile and could do with a bit of everlasting torment—if she did say so herself.

The thought brought a pleased smile to her face.

Chapter Text

The next day found Hermione and Pansy going over several dress selections for the Ministry gala that was set to take place that weekend. Hermione had discussed Narcissa’s offer with Draco the previous evening when she returned home and her wizard had been rather shocked, but then decided to have his Mother come visit with Scorpius for lunch today so Hermione had floo’d to Pansy’s villa and together they were looking over the beautiful gowns.

“These are all exquisite, Pansy,” Hermione admitted with a sigh. “Did you help design these?”

“Some. This beaded embellished gown was worn by some Muggle film star to one of their ridiculous award shows not too long ago. Apparently, it’s fairly common for designers to loan out specific pieces to these people.”

Pansy’s look of disgust told Hermione exactly how she felt about that.

“You don’t agree?”

“No, I don’t. From what I’ve come to understand these people get stuff for free all the time, just because they’re famous. In Pureblood society, we would never expect a designer to gift us a gown to wear without purchasing it. I find it offensive that these people, who make more money than most other Muggle’s—have such a sense of entitlement that they expect these things for free.”

Hermione chuckled, but didn’t exactly disagree with Pansy’s line of thinking.

“Maybe designers do it for the free publicity?”

“Whatever.” The other witch waved her hand flippantly. “I still think it’s an outrage. This gown here took three seamstresses over 500 hours to make, has 14 karat gold thread interwoven in handmade gold chiffon silk. So forgive me if I’m not duly impressed with some second rate actress who can’t afford to pay for her own dress!”

Hermione burst out in laughter. She couldn’t help it! It was clear this was a huge pet peeve for dear Pansy.

“Well, it’s a beautiful dress. How much would it normally cost?”

When Pansy gave her the amount, Hermione’s eyebrows shot up in surprise but she tried the gown on anyway and was amazed at how beautiful it looked on her. Even Pansy whistled when she walked out of her dressing room.

“You look much better in that, than whomever that Muggle was.”

“Thanks, Pansy.”

“Sure.” The Slytherin witch grinned. “It’s gold too. Very Gryffindor. You could even wear rubies with it and it wouldn’t be too much.”

Hermione nodded, as she bit her lip in contemplation. It was a stunning dress and while she wasn’t thrilled with the fact that it had been worn prior—she couldn’t help but be impressed by the level of workmanship it must’ve taken to make something like this.

It was truly a work of art.

“Well, since this is couture—I’d imagine this is a one of a kind?”

Pansy nodded.

“I’ll give the designer the price you quoted less five percent for the fact it’s been worn prior. I’m not inclined to pay more for it, but it is stunning and I think Draco will love it!”

“That’s true,” Pansy winked before picking up a few other choices. “Any of these catch your fancy?”

Hermione eyed the rest of the gowns critically before pointing to a blush corseted silk piece that was fitted to the hips and had an embellished full skirt in tulle, organza and silk of the same color.

“That one is very pretty.”

Pansy nodded, pleased as it was one she helped design. “That one is from our new couture line next fall. If you want it, I can let the designer know it’s spoken for. The cost is a bit less than the other gown, but not much.”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll take them both.”

“Excellent.”

Hermione smiled at Pansy and said, “Thank you for doing this Pansy. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help with all this.”

Pansy sat down and stared at the other witch and just shrugged. “It’s me who should be thanking you, Hermione. I’m a bit nervous to be attending this shindig with you and Draco. Blaise keeps telling me it will get better and I suppose I can only hope he’s right. My parents aren’t speaking to me much anymore—not that it’s any great loss, mind you. But there’s a part of me that misses home and wants to go back if only so when Blaise and I have children of our own—they’ll be able to attend Hogwarts and not feel like outcasts.”

Hermione nodded in sad understanding.

She’d often felt like an outcast at school.

“I think Blaise is right,” Hermione admitted with an encouraging expression, “if for no other reason than it can’t get any worse. The press has been favorable, and hopefully by the end of the year we can see about formally announcing that venture we discussed. Once everyone in the Wizarding World gets an eyeful of the gowns you’ve chosen for me, I have no doubt you’ll be the most sought after designer in the Wizarding World.”

“It would be nice,” Pansy quipped with a predatory grin. “And I can stick it to my parents too. I’m so tired of being the family outcast, it will be nice to feel like I have a bit more control over that part of my life. I know it sounds petty...”

“It doesn’t,” Hermione interrupted with a firm voice, “I think a lot of Draco’s issues growing up had to do with him desperately wanting his Father’s questionable approval. Sometimes, we think by giving our parents what they think they want—it somehow, will make us feel better about ourselves. I don’t think that’s always the case, though. Draco was miserable and it wasn’t until he distanced himself from his parents, that he finally found himself. I do think Scorpius was the impetus he needed to make the changes he wanted to be for himself.”

Pansy silently had to agree with Hermione’s assessment of Draco’s character. He’d always been desperate for Lucius approval when they were younger, almost to the point of obsession. She’d been just as eager towards her own parents and had often wondered after the war was over, how things might’ve been different if she hadn’t cared quite so much about what her family thought of her.

Being raised in the Sacred 28 came with a lot of inherent pressures that Pansy had never much cared for—even when she’d been too young and naive to know any different. It just seemed that it was easier to bully half-bloods and Muggleborns because it was expected of her.

For the past several years she’d been regulated to said Muggle World due to her own poor choices but the irony was—she’d never been happier. For the first time in her life she was judged not on who she was, but what she could do and what she had to offer.

And it was as equally refreshing as it was disconcerting.

“All I know is Draco is much happier now than he’s ever been, and that is because of you, Hermione. I don’t think he ever believed that he could find real happiness after losing Astoria.”

“Did he love her?” Hermione whispered, and Pansy just nodded.

“He did. He wasn’t in love with her though. What they shared was a deep respect and understanding. I do believe Astoria truly fell in love with Draco towards the end, but there was always something holding him back. Maybe it was because he knew she was going to die and he didn’t want to be left so devastated that he couldn’t take care of Scorpius properly afterwards. But Blaise believes, and I tend to agree with him now that I’ve seen you both together, that Draco held a part of himself back, because that part belonged to you...or the hope of you. If you hadn’t appeared in his life like you did, Draco would’ve remained alone indefinitely. I have no doubt of that.”

Hermione’s face dropped in despair, and tears started to form in the corner of her eyes. Seeing her distress, Pansy quickly came over and took her hand—leading them both to a large settee bench where they sat down side by side.

“Don’t feel bad, Hermione—Draco is who he is. I can’t explain what life was really like for him growing up, but the boy you saw was not the same boy behind closed doors. Draco rarely allowed anyone in and Astoria was probably the first person who took the time to break down his barriers. I’ve often wondered just how intuitive she was about certain things.”

“I think Draco’s mentioned it a time or two as well.”

The two witches smiled in commiseration briefly before Pansy helped her out of the gown and Hermione quickly redressed in her casual wear. The Slytherin witch was just hanging up the gowns and placing them back into their garment bags, when a large patronus burst into the room.

“Mione, I need to speak with you. Can you come to Grimmauld Place as soon as you can?”

The majestic stag disappeared and Hermione sighed, then smirked at the gobsmacked look on Pansy’s face.

“Potter?”

“Yes.” Hermione admitted unhappily. “I need to go see what he wants. Can you let Draco know where I’ve gone?”

Pansy nodded, her expression tense and wary. “Is Draco going to be alright with you going there?”

“It should be fine, but I’ll send my patronus if I need him to come run interference.”

“Sounds good.”

Pansy watched Hermione disapparate, before she floo’d over to Draco’s home—calling out for him when she arrived.

It wasn’t a few seconds later Draco came walking in, with Scorpius and Narcissa trailing after him.

“Pansy?” Draco’s expression was understandably confused, “What are you doing here? I thought you were with Hermione?”

“I was, but Potter sent his patronus and asked her to meet him at his home immediately. She asked me to come and let you know.”

Draco’s expression morphed quickly to one of irritation as he looked over his shoulder at his Mother, who was holding Scorpius. Narcissa gently shook her head at her son, sensing that he wanted to follow Miss Granger and knowing that the young witch was more than capable of dealing with Mr. Potter on her own.

“She will be fine, Draco.” His Mother admonished quietly, “I’m sure if she needs you, she will let you know.”

Draco sighed heavily and nodded slowly in agreement. He knew that his Mine was more than up to the challenge of dealing with Potter but the question remained was why did Potter need to see her in the first place? He was sure it wasn’t good news and that worried him.

“Fine,” Draco pouted unhappily, “I will refrain from interrupting her, but I don’t have the best feeling about this either.”

Deciding to let it go for now, Draco invited Pansy to stay for tea and Mippy was called to get everything together so their little quartet could take tea in the backyard under the gazebo.

Elsewhere, Hermione had apparated to Grimmauld Place and was admitted entrance by Kreacher who told her that the Master was waiting in the library for her to join him.

Hermione made her way to her former haven, and feeling of nostalgia washing over her as she walked through the old Black Manor—surprised when she passed the wall where Walburga’s portrait used to be and seeing nothing but a blank wall staring back at her.

When she walked through the door, she stopped immediately in shock.

What in Merlin’s name was Ronald doing here?

“Harry?” Her voice was harsher than she’d intended, and by the looks on Harry, Ron’s and George’s faces they were all bracing themselves for the inevitable hex being sent in their direction.

“Mione, I know this is unexpected but...”

Yes! This is!”

Harry put his hands up placatingly, and even George coughed and mumbled, “I knew this was a bad idea.”

Her gaze fixated on the elder Weasley and she scowled. “Am I going to regret listening to this?”

George just shrugged. “Dunno, but I do think you need to hear Ronnikens out before you hex him...which I applaud by the way.”

“Hey!” Ron bit out, but Harry seemed amused if the quick upturn of his lips were any indication.

Hermione folded her arms across her chest as she stared down her former ex, who just grimaced at her sheepishly—pulling his hair away from his face before wiping his hand over the back of his neck in nervousness.

“He’s right, Mione.”  Harry interjected, “I think you need to listen to Ron in this one instance.”

Hermione just gave her former best friend a look of utter incredulity, but seeing George nodding too...gave her pause.

She finally sighed and said waspishly, “Fine!”

So listen she did as Ronald informed her of his surprise encounter with Daphne Greengrass several days ago and his decision to go to his brother and then Harry with what transpired. After he was done, Hermione just shook her head in disgust.

“Well, that’s just peachy,” she quipped sarcastically, “and you’re telling me this out of what? The goodness of your heart?”

Ron bit back a retort that threatened to spill as his brother hissed in warning at him. George had told him...repeatedly...that Mione wouldn’t instantly take him at his word and he was right.

Bloody blighter!

“Look Mione,” at her scathing scoff, Ron felt his cheeks flame harder. She always hated that nickname, especially from him. “Look! I know you’re angry at me and you have every reason to be. I hurt you and I can’t take it back and maybe I should’ve handled it better...”

Maybe?” Her voice was calm, but frigid as ice as she glared at him in utter loathing.

“Okay! I should’ve treated you with more respect. I was devastated when you’d told me about not being able to have children and I didn’t handle it well at all! I panicked, then drank in my depression cause I didn’t know how to fix it. I blamed myself!”

Hermione blanched at that admission for a second before her eyes narrowed.

“You blamed yourself? I’m really supposed to believe that? So what? That gave you leave to abandon me, turn our mutual best friend against me and make me feel even more utterly worthless than I already did after everything that happened? Am I really supposed to forgive you?”

“No.” Ron replied morosely, shaking his head slowly. “I don’t expect it and I know I have no right to ask it, but blimey Mione! Somehow you forgave Malfoy for all the vile things he did to you!”

Hermione’s expression darkened noticeably and George muttered, “Oh, shite” while Harry just shook his head at what an utter wanker Ron could still be, after all this time.

“The difference between Draco and you, Ronald Bilius Weasley, is that I wasn’t in love with Draco! I didn’t trust him above everyone else in my life! I spent years waiting for you to notice me and give me a chance! I watched you repeatedly throw Lavender Brown in my face, I forgave you for abandoning Harry and I on the Horcrux Hunt...” her voice broke on a sob, and everyone there watched her clenching her hands, trying to reign in her emotions, “But the hardest part was you didn’t even have the decency to make it a clean break. You had to make your Mum, who was the only thing I had left of a mother figure...think I didn’t want a family and that was why you ended it with me! You knew I’d lost my parents! And yet you were still so selfish enough to not care that after everything, I’d end up losing your family and Harry too. I was left all alone!”

Tears were now streaming down Hermione’s cheeks, and Ron just sat there pale and speechless. George was staring daggers at his younger brother while Harry took off his glasses, nervously wiping at his eyes discreetly—and not having much success with it.

The room was now silent save for Hermione’s soft sobbing, and all three wizard’s felt their hearts go out to the little witch who’d always been stronger, braver and far more resilient than anyone they’d ever known.

“Hermione,” Harry began hesitantly, “you have every right to be angry at both Ron and me indefinitely, if that’s your decision. But...it doesn’t change the fact that something is going on with Greengrass and we want to help. Something tells me you know more about this than we do, and while I know you have no reason to trust us...Ron and I want to help.”

Hermione conjured and handkerchief and wiped at her eyes before staring at her former best friend’s with a heavy dose of skepticism.

“You’re right Harry, I do have more information but unfortunately it’s not just mine to share.”

“What do you mean?”

“You mean Malfoy, don’t you?”

Both Harry and Ron spoke simultaneously, but it was Harry’s comment that took her aback and she nodded once after a few seconds.

“I need to discuss this with Draco. Give me until tomorrow and be prepared that he may require a vow of some kind from the both of you.”

Harry’s expression immediately closed off, and Ron just scoffed but Hermione pointed an accusing finger at each of them in turn before hissing out in warning, “You will agree to Draco’s terms, whatever they may be or so help me Godric, I’ll make you both regret it. You both owe me, and you both know that I’ll collect on that debt one way or the other. So think long and hard about how you want this to play out because if you force my hand and make me choose—I’ll choose Draco and you both won’t have a pot to piss in. I promise you that!”

And with an exasperated huff, Hermione turned around and flounced out of the library leaving three stunned wizard’s in her wake.

Two were visibly unhappy but the third just chuckled evilly.

“I’d listen to her warning and take it seriously, if I were you both. I wouldn’t want to be on Mione’s shite list? Do you?”

By the paling of both their faces, George figured neither of the dim-witted duo wanted to take that chance either.

Chapter Text

When Hermione returned home, the sound of her apparition must’ve alerted Draco to her because he came running through the house from wherever he’d been.

When he saw the evidence of her emotional distress clearly wrought upon her face, his own expression darkened ominously but he didn’t waste any time moving over and enveloping her into his warm embrace.

“Mine, what happened?”

Her sniffles and intermittent sobs, broke his heart as he held her a bit tighter and gently placed soothing kisses onto the crown of her head.

After a few moments he felt her sigh in relief as she gripped him around his waist and held him to her just as fiercely.

“Harry invited me to his home. Ronald was there.”

“What?” His voice was whispered in such deadly undertones, Hermione shivered.

“I know. I wasn’t happy either but apparently Daphne Greengrass went on another fishing expedition, only this time she tried to get Ron involved in whatever her scheme is.”

Draco pulled back and gently cupped her face into his hands, his expression thunderous.

“Daphne propositioned the Weasel? Why would she have bothered?”

“She wanted to know how I got Skeeter to back off, and Ron all but admitted I had blackmailed Rita back in school but didn’t offer up any other details. Not that it would make any difference as Rita can’t go against our vow, but it does make me wonder what Daphne’s motives are with all this.” Hermione paused as her face scrunched up in disgust. “She did refer to me as a mudblood, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

What?!?” Draco’s voice was venomous, his expression back in his former Malfoy sneer of utter contempt—and Hermione shook her head at how much like his former self he looked like in that moment.

He must’ve noticed her unease, because his face softened and he said, “I’m sorry, Mine. She has no right to say that about you!”

“Draco—you and I both know that there are still plenty of witches and wizards who think exactly the same thing. They may not say it to my face, but they are thinking it nonetheless.”

From Draco’s pinched look, Hermione knew he understood the truth of her words—even if he hated it.

“So why did they come to you?”

“Harry knows or suspects that Daphne is up to something but they don’t know what that is. I didn’t tell them about the time turner as I told them I’d have to discuss this with you. If you don’t want their help I get it and I won’t say a word against it...”

“But no one would suspect Weasley of helping us...not after that little scene he made in the Leaky?”

Hermione nodded, and not for the first time felt herself reacting at how intelligent her wizard was.

The git’s pleased smirk told her he knew it too.

“So, do we want their help?”

“I don’t know.” Hermione replied honestly. “I don’t think Daphne would ever admit to Ron about the time turner, even if he did agree to help her. However, I’m thinking that we might have an opening...”

“In what way?”

“Well, Theo suspects I know about the time turner although I’ve yet to hear from him about it. Perhaps it might be to our benefit to have Ron set up a meeting with Daphne and we crash that meeting. We can have you simultaneously arrange a tête-à-tête with Theo at the same place...last minute of course. Once Ron is there, he can stall Daphne until you show up with Theo. I’ll bring Harry under the cloak, and I’ll bring the stone as a backup. Ron already knows about the existence of the Hallows and if this works...we can get an unbreakable vow from both Theo and Daphne too.”

“Do you honestly think Daphne is going to meet up with Weasley?”

“If Ron makes it seem like he’s willing to give up information, she just might. In fact, I think I just might have a way to ensure that happens.”

Draco grinned. “Minx.” His expression sobered suddenly and he sighed. “If I agree to this I’m going to want both Potter and Weasley to take an unbreakable vow. I won’t have either of those dunderheads trying to ruin our family with their thoughtlessness. Especially the Weasel, who drinks more than he thinks and can’t be counted on to keep his trap shut.”

“I think that sounds more than fair.” Hermione agreed with a soft smile, before she leant up and placed a heated kiss on her wizard...who returned her affections with enthusiasm before groaning and pulling back unhappily.

“Mum and Pansy are outside having tea with Scorp—So playtime is going to have to be put on hold for now.”

“Spoilsport.” Hermione bit back fondly as she allowed Draco to pull her outside with him towards the gazebo where she could hear Scorpius laughter.

When her little man saw her, he chimed happily, “Mimi ‘ome!

“Yes, sweetie, I’m home. Are you having a good time with Nana and Pansy?”

Hermione placed a soft kiss on the crown of Scorpius head before sitting down in the seat that Draco offered. Pansy poured her a cuppa, her expression concerned.

“You okay? You look terrible.”

“Thanks, Pansy.” Hermione shook her head at her friend. “And yes, I’m fine...mostly.”

Narcissa sat back and watched the young witch, who was unusually subdued and more in line with the witch she’d remembered from years prior.

“It’s never an easy thing to face one’s past,” Narcissa offered sagely, “but perhaps a necessary evil if we seek to move on and not allow it to affect our present and future in unfortunate ways.”

Hermione glanced over at Draco’s mother and gave her a small nod of agreement.

“There was a time I didn’t think I’d ever come back to Britain, and I was fine with that choice. I didn’t see a future for me here and at first it filled me with a huge sadness that left a gaping hole in my heart, but now I’ve come to realize that perhaps that hole just needed to be filled by something infinitely better.”

Amber eyes fell to Scorpius, who was smiling happily as he munched on a chocolate biscuit and she felt Draco’s hand grasp her’s in solidarity.

“I don’t imagine this was a scenario your younger self ever saw as a possibility.” Narcissa said evenly, before taking a gentle sip of her oolong tea.

“No,” Hermione smiled cheekily, “it definitely wasn’t something I’d ever imagined at all, but I can say I’m beyond happy it did. Life sometimes gives us something truly unexpected, but the caveat is we must have the courage to embrace that gift. The Hermione of three years ago definitely wouldn’t have been able to.”

“And why is that do you suppose?” Narcissa asked curiously, but Hermione suspected she knew the answer.

“My trust was so badly damaged, there would’ve been no possibility of me believing that Draco was anything more than what I’d seen from school. Or that Pansy, underneath her tough exterior, had a kind heart—even though she’d deny it stringently. Or that you would be capable of welcoming me into your family Narcissa, despite everything that has happened. Perhaps time is the greatest healer, but I think that my leaving and what happened after forged a path that led to the here and now. Without those experiences—who’s to say where we’d be right now? Merlin forbid, I’d be married to Ronald Weasley.”

Draco growled unhappily while Pansy just scoffed and muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘fate worse than death.’ Scorpius just mumbled her name over and over again as she handed him another biscuit with a soft smile and Narcissa seemed to be contemplative as she considered the young witch’s profound words.

“I have no desire to suffer twice—“

“In reality and then in retrospect.” Hermione finished with a firm nod and Narcissa returned the gesture, more than impressed that the younger witch knew the famous quote.

Although she probably shouldn’t have been.

“I should take my leave,” Narcissa went to stand and Draco was quick to his feet to help his mother up. Her soft expression conveyed to all there, how much she adored her son and he—her. “I will see you both Saturday evening. Please let me know if you require anything, Miss Granger. Pansy tells me you picked out a stunning gown for the event but left the details mum—as I’m sure you’d like it to be a surprise, yes?”

Hermione chuckled softly, at Draco’s pouting face.

“Yes, Lady Malfoy. I was hoping to surprise Draco...if he can wait that long without sulking.”

“Hey!” He bit out playfully, “I can be patient when required.”

“Of course you can, My Dragon.” Narcissa patted her son’s cheek fondly before heading to the house and the floo room. Draco followed, leaving Hermione and Pansy alone with Scorpius.

When they were finally out of hearing range, Pansy turned to her and said, “Please tell me this wasn’t about Daphne?”

Hermione’s shocked look, let Pansy know her guess was correct and the Slytherin witch shook her head in disgust before taking a fortifying sip of her tea.

She grimaced when she realized too late it was lukewarm.

Casting a warming charm, Pansy sighed. “What can Blaise and I do?”

“Nothing yet,” Hermione admitted, “Draco and I are still trying to decide how best to handle this.”

Hermione grabbed a napkin and started to clean off Scorpius messy face, which was covered in chocolate and cream.

He wasn’t thrilled, but finally allowed himself to be attended to before Hermione helped him down from his high chair and watched with a loving expression as he ran towards his sandbox before plopping down with his toys.

“You’re going to be the best mom.” Pansy offered easily and Hermione’s head whipped towards her’s in shock, before her eyes glassed over and she swallowed uncomfortably.

“Thank you, Pansy. That means a lot coming from you. I know you’ve been the only mother figure Scorpius has had since Astoria died.”

The other witch just shrugged. “He makes it easy. I never saw myself as particularly maternal, but that little munchkin just has this way about him that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. The fact that Draco’s been such an amazing Father was the biggest surprise, but looking back on it now—it shouldn’t have been. Draco’s always wanted someone to just love him for him, and Scorpius gave him that and now you.”

At that precise moment Draco walked back out of the house, and the two witches clammed up as he moved into the gazebo with a calculating look.

“Talking about me?”

“Why, love?  We’re your ears burning?”

Draco touched his ears in confusion, causing both Pansy and Hermione to laugh out loud at his expression.

“Muggle saying?”

“Yes.” Hermione bit back, as she bit her lip at how adorable her wizard could be sometimes.

“I should head on out too. Blaise should be home soon. He was visiting his mum today, and I’m sure he’ll be in one of his moods.”

“Good luck with that.” Draco’s face pulled back into a grimace.

“Yeah, well we both know what dear old Elora thinks about me marrying her baby boy.” Pansy’s face fell a bit before she smirked at Hermione. “Maybe you could help me with that, Hermione. You’ve managed to win over Narcissa in record time, a feat I’d never thought would happen in a million years. Elora should be child’s play in comparison.”

“Isn’t she a black widow?”

“Ah...” Pansy grinned and Draco coughed uncomfortably, but the look they shared was telling. “I’ll let you judge it for yourself. Once this fiasco is over with, I’ll invite you both for dinner and you can meet Blaise’s Mum for yourself.”

“Oh...joy...” Hermione bit out and Pansy just smiled manically before nodding in parting to her oldest friend. She went over to the sandbox and kissed Scorpius goodbye and headed inside.

When she was gone, Draco stared at his witch for a few moments before saying, “So...”

“Yes, dear?”

“Shall we parlay with Potthead and Weaselbee?”

Hermione rolled her eyes but couldn’t help the smile that was threatening to break through as she quipped back, “Sounds like a plan, my love.”

Chapter Text

Lucius Malfoy wasn’t the kind of wizard who allowed others to take advantage of him yet since the day the Dark Lord took over his home and had relieved him of his wand, it seemed as if he was in a never ending loop of trying to undo certain, shall we say, questionable choices.

Many people would automatically believe that he’d chosen to follow the Dark Lord, and there was a time he’d had but that was when his Father was alive and Lord of the Manor. Just as he’d known that his diabolical and clever wife had found a way around the Malfoy Marriage contract and had his father killed, he’d known that he couldn’t save his own son from his Father’s choices.

And the largest of those choices had been following the Dark Lord.

Lucius had been branded and as a consequence when he’d failed his mission to retrieve the Prophecy—his only Son and Heir had been tasked to redeem the family name. Lucius had been a shadow of his former self when he’d gotten out of Azkaban after being there for nearly a year. He’d seen what that place had done to the likes of Dolohov, the Lestrange’s and Bellatrix. One did not emerge from that place unscathed.

Again his cunning wife had found a way to save their family from utter ruin and Lucius knew that he would always be beholden to her for saving them from further punishment.

When he’d found the time turner amongst his Father’s possessions he hadn’t even considered why he wanted it fixed.

Only that it might be prudent to have it as a back up of sorts...should the need ever arise.

As he stared down at the unfinished prototype—Lucius felt sick to his stomach.

How in the world was he going to ensure that Theodore Nott wouldn’t allow his questionably sane fiancée to ruin his family, due to his shortsightedness?

He could have the witch killed, but it would raise too many questions. If he removed both Theodore and Daphne it might be more feasible, but since he’d been seen at the Ministry going into Theo’s office, the likelihood of him being questioned was a given.

His wand was still being monitored as well.

Lucius placed the device back into the family safe for the time being, before walking over and pouring himself a stiff shot of firewhiskey. As he went to knock it back, his floo activated and out walked his wife looking elegant as always.

She siphoned off the soot and then came over to greet him with a small peck of welcome.

“Lucius, isn’t it a bit early in the day for that?”

Her finger pointing to his glass as well as the stern look of rebuke just had the Lord of the Manor smirking at his gorgeous bride.

“It’s never too early somedays for a stiff drink, my love. How was your visit with Draco and Scorpius?”

“It was fine. Pansy joined us after a bit as Miss Granger was called away to Mr. Potter’s. Apparently, it wasn’t the most positive of visits as she returned home looking a bit worse for wear.”

The look of abject disgust on her husband’s face at the mention of the Potter Boy was to be expected.

“Did she mention what transpired?”

“No, she didn’t but if I had to hazard a guess—I do believe that Miss Greengrass may have approached one of her former friend’s looking for damning information. The fact that they chose to contact her speaks to the fact that despite their fall-out...there’s still some loyalty that remains.”

Gryffindors.” Lucius said disdainfully before his mouth quirked up at a thought. “Or perhaps they know what might happen should they seek to go after Miss Granger, thus getting on her bad side?”

Narcissa smiled and nodded. “I am sure the thought probably crossed their minds.”

“I must say, my dear, that the young witch has turned out to be more formidable than I’d ever imagined. The press the past few weeks has been nothing short of complimentary, and after that debacle at the Leaky Cauldron with the youngest Weasley boy...the Malfoy’s stock as it is—has started to rise once again.”

“This is true.” Narcissa sighed as her husband helped her out of her outer robes and then offered her a seat next to him. “Our last meeting was rather unexpected. She shared with me the inroads she’s made with old Dagmoor. Apparently the wizard was initially dismissive of her overtures until she managed to find, in her research...and don’t ask me how she figured it out...”

Narcissa shook her head in wonder and now Lucius was quite intrigued.

“Found out what?”

“Who Dagmoor’s old flame was. I never gave her that information. Did you know, husband of mine—that the witch in question and Dagmoor have been carrying on an illicit affair for nearly the entirety of both their marriages?”

Lucius sat back and chuckled deeply, astonished that he hadn’t known this piece of juicy gossip.

“Are you sure?”

“Quite. Miss Granger had lunch with Minerva and Horace Slughorn some days prior and something tells me both of them led her in the proper direction.”

“So, who was it? I don’t believe you’ve ever shared your suspicions with me.”

Narcissa grinned evilly as her eyes sparkled with mirth. “Posy Parkinson.”

“Shite!” Lucius murmured out before he could stop himself and his lovely wife was clearly not impressed with the profanity if the censured look she was giving him was any indication.

“Sorry, my love.”

Narcissa delicately cleared her throat but then continued on as if her husband hadn’t interrupted her.

“Posy was a couple years younger than Dagmoor and I had heard through the rumor mill that they were quite involved in school, but her family had betrothed her to Edmund despite him being considerably older than she was. But I hadn’t heard a whiff of the fact that they were still involved.”

“Then how exactly did Miss Granger figure it out?”

Narcissa’s face bloomed into a devious smile. “She had surmised from our previous conversation that Dagmoor’s relationship with his wife was not his initial choice. From there, I do believe she might’ve somehow gotten the information from Minerva and Horace, who never missed much of the goings on at Hogwarts especially within Slytherin House. She went to Dagmoor with the idea of putting on a fundraiser of sorts for his Department and casually suggested working with Posy Parkinson, as she’d gotten to know Pansy very well. Dagmoor’s reaction was very telling, from what Miss Granger shared. Enough that she believes he’s still involved with Lady Parkinson.”

“Do you think Edmund knows?”

Narcissa shrugged. “Can you imagine that wizard being alright with his wife carrying on an affair for the past twenty five years?”

Lucius chuckled deeply and shook his head in the negative before his expression took on a contemplative look.

“How sure are we that Pansy and her sister are actually Edmunds?”

Narcissa tapped her finger against her lip thoughtfully as she stared over her husband’s shoulder at the smaller version of the Malfoy Family tree on the wall behind him.

“The Parkinson Family has their own tree, that being said—I’d imagine there might be some way to magically alter it? If a family member can be blasted off a tree, I suppose one could be modified if necessary?”

“Pansy or Poppy?”

“I’d tend to think Pansy—given the way her mother all but dismissed her after her unfortunate outburst prior to the final battle. If she truly was Dagmoor’s child, I surmise that Posy would’ve never distanced herself so casually from her eldest daughter. Which means that Poppy, being the favored child now—may or may not be Edmund’s blood. Edmund, as much as he espouses certain ideals, wouldn’t have wanted his reputation in tatters regardless of sentiment and since there is Poppy, he probably didn’t fight his wife on it either.”

“This is speculation.”

“Yes. But based on the evidence—I tend to think it’s correct.”

“What do you wish to do about it?”

“Nothing quite yet.” Narcissa tilted her head thoughtfully. “Pansy has been a loyal friend to Draco and a wonderful Godmother to Scorpius. Whatever her shortcomings, she has always been loyal to House Malfoy and we would be remiss in our obligations if we didn’t acknowledge that fact and intervene if necessary on her behalf. She will be attending the gala this Saturday with Blaise, Draco and Miss Granger. I do believe her parents will also be in attendance, as well as Dagmoor. It’s a shame we aren’t invited, but I’m sure I can finagle a memory or two from Draco afterwards. If onto to satiate my curiosity.”

Lucius grinned as he picked up his wife and pulled her into his lap, cupping her face lovingly. Her grey eyes sparkled with mirth and affection, and not for the first time Lucius lamented his luck in winning his witch’s favor. She had been chased by many a wizard during their years at school, but eventually chose him.

He was a lucky wizard and knew it.

“Everyday I give thanks that you are mine, dear wife. If I ever forget to remind you how utterly besotted I am with you now and always—you may remind me at your pleasure.”

Narcissa hummed happily, before placing a chaste kiss on her husband’s lips.

“I adore you as well. Despite everything that has happened?  I am grateful we are still here. That our son is alive, happy and well. That our grandson is thriving. But mostly, I’m grateful we have been given a second chance to undo the wrongs we’ve perpetuated, Lucius. I know this future wasn’t one we would’ve sought out for our son and grandson—but the more time I spend with Miss Granger—the more I’ve come to understand that perhaps our prior line of thinking is due for an upgrade.”

Lucius sighed heavily but after several minutes nodded, his gaze shrewd and knowing.

“You wish to try and make amends with your sister?”

Narcissa’s eyes glistened and she nodded. “I do not know if Andromeda will give me the opportunity, but I do believe with Miss Granger’s good will, the possibility is not hopeless.”

Lucius knew that his wife had missed her sister over these past twenty five years. They had all been especially close with each other. Bellatrix had forced Narcissa’s hand when Andromeda had run off with Ted Tonks and there was no going back after that. When she’d gone to Azkaban, Narcissa had pondered for weeks about trying to get in contact but his Father would’ve not taken too kindly to any such overtures and the decision had been made.

Now, Narcissa was finally free to follow her heart.

He wouldn’t stand in the way of that. He owed too much to his lovely bride to do so.

“I will support whatever you wish to do, love. It’s the least I can do after all you’ve done for me and our family.”

Narcissa kissed her husband again, this time a bit more heatedly before pulling back and smiling widely.

“Thank you, Luc.”

Chapter Text

Saturday Morning’s Daily Prophet had another article about the fall-out of the Golden Trio. It was a scathing piece on how Ron Weasley had abandoned his two best friend’s when things were at their lowest. How his jealousy of the Chosen One, had caused him to (under the influence of one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes) accuse his two best friends of carrying on a relationship behind his back.

Daphne read the article with glee and even Theo seemed amused by Rita’s vivisection of the former Gryffindor.

It wasn’t but a few moments later that an owl that neither of them recognized, started tapping on their window.

Theo moved out of his chair to let the bird inside—which dropped off its missive and flew away—clearly not expecting a reply.

He looked down at the scroll and saw it was addressed to Daphne.

“Love, it’s for you.”

Daphne held out an elegant hand with a look of curiosity and opened the scroll, her eyes widening then her face fell into a wicked smirk that had Theo chuckling.

“Weasley?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. He wants to meet me before the gala tonight. Claims he has some damning information I might be able to use.”

Theo laughed. “And where does he wish to meet.”

“His brother’s joke shop. Apparently there is an apartment upstairs and the shop has direct floo access. He says he will give me access at noon today for a ten minute window.”

“You going to go?”

“Why not? I’m intrigued as to what he has to offer. We both know he knows Granger’s dirty little secrets. It’s obvious as well, that the witch holds some sway over Skeeter. I want to know what that is and if I can use it to our advantage.”

“Just be careful, love. We both know how unpredictable Weasley can be.”

“Of course, darling.”

Daphne finished her tea before she tapped her finger on the table thoughtfully.

“Is the item finished.”

“Yes.” Theo looked at his witch warily. “Daph, love...are you really sure this is what you want to do? Do you really want to undo the choice your sister made? Have you even discussed this with your parents like we talked about?”

Blue eyes just stared at him emotionlessly. “Theodore...I’m not an imbecile. I know my sister would’ve died regardless, but she might’ve had a few more years. Time that she didn’t get to have because of Lucius Malfoy!”

“And your parents!” Theo replied in exasperation. “This isn’t all Lucius Malfoy’s fault. And what about Scorpius? If you do what you’re planning...you are going to wipe out that little boy from existence? Do you honestly think your sister would want that?”

Daphne’s face turned thunderous as she slammed her palm down on the table.

“Don’t you dare think to tell me what my sister would’ve wanted! She didn’t get the choice! I just want her to have the choice...why can’t you understand that?”

“And what if she did make her choice, love—and she was at peace with it?”

“We can’t know that, Theodore, and I refuse to live my life with what if’s.” Theo watched his witch stand up and glare at him demandingly. “I would like the item now, Theo. It’s clear that I should keep ahold of it for the time being. It seems as if you might be having second thoughts.”

“Daph...”

“Don’t placate me, darling. Just give me what I want. You promised me.”

Theo sighed as he stared morosely at his witch, whom he loved more than anything and nodded in defeat. He left the dining room and headed for his study, Daphne following closely behind. Once they reached his sanctuary, he moved over to his safe...used his wand to cut his finger and opened the safe using his blood. Cleaning himself and healing said cut, he reached in and grabbed the box—handing it to his witch.

He then watched as she took out the necklace and placed it around her neck with a nod of thanks.

“I will see you this evening, Theodore.”

Theo watched with a heavy heart as Daphne left his office, knowing he’d made the wrong choice but unable to do anything about it.

He’d given his vow to help her...

She’d used it against him and instead of being angry, he just felt defeated.

He grabbed a bottle of firewhiskey and proceeded to get himself drunk.

It was sometime later he heard his floo go off—and one of his House Elf’s—Bebe...came in to tell him that a Master Blaise was calling and would it be alright for him to come through.

Theo just nodded and a few moments later his Italian friend walked into his study...took one look at him and the half empty bottle of firewhiskey and said flippantly, “Bad time?”

“Nope. Want a glass?”

“I’ll pass...thanks. I just came to see if you wanted to go to lunch, but it looks like you’ve already drank said lunch. Coffee?”

Theo groaned and noticed it was quarter to noon. Daphne would be going to Diagon Alley soon.

“I think I fucked up, mate.”

Blaise just tilted his head and said, “In what way?”

“Well, Lucius Malfoy came to me to fix a family heirloom and instead of fixing it...I made a copy of it. Now my witch wants to use this heirloom to fix something that would be better off left alone.”

Blaise to his credit, remained impassive as he stared at his friend...who had no idea that he knew what was going on.

“So this heirloom? Care to explain just what it could be that has you drinking like the Giant Squid before noon?”

“Prat.”

“Just being honest, mate.”

“Unfortunately, I really can’t say much more.”

Blaise shook his head and sat back, eyeing his friend with trepidation.

He decided to take a calculated risk...if it didn’t work, Draco would kill him later.

“Well, Padma mentioned to me that you’ve been trying to get a position in the DoM for a while. I also heard a rumor from Drake years ago about his Grandfather having a certain item that they might work on there...theoretically of course. If this is said item and you’ve managed to either fix it for Lucius or make another...you’re going to be in a heap of trouble, mate. And your witch will be going to Azkaban.”

Theo paled before downing another shot...his hands shaking.

“Granger came to me a bit ago. She inferred that she knew what I’d done. Warned me to give it over and she’d help me get an in with Pius. That’s not going to happen now.”

“Might still. Where is the lovely Daphne today?”

“She’s meeting the Weasel at his brother’s joke shop at noonish.”

Blaise nodded. “If I floo Drake, he’s going to tell Granger. Are you sure you want to do this? Daphne might never forgive you.”

Theo rubbed his hands down his face and Blaise thought for a second the wizard might actually start to cry but to his credit, he just nodded.

“Do it. I can’t sit back and watch Daphne ruin her life and everyone else’s too. Astoria is gone. Even I know it’s not entirely the Malfoy’s fault that she died.”

Blaise stood up and patted Theo on the back. “You’re a good wizard, mate. You gonna stay here or come with?”

Theo sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I should go and try to mitigate the damage. There’s no telling how Daphne is going to take this.”

Blaise nodded and together they made their way to the floo. Blaise called out for Draco’s address and Narcissa answered.

“Blaise dear, what can I do for you?”

“Is Draco there?”

“No, I believe he went to Gringotts to fetch a bauble for Miss Granger for this evening. You might catch him as he just left a bit ago.”

“Thank you.”

“Of course, dear.”

The floo deactivated, and Blaise gave his hand to Theo.

“Gonna be okay doing side along?”

Theo grunted. “Don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

“Nope.” Blaise grinned as he took his friend’s arm and with a crack...they were gone.

When they reappeared, Blaise had managed to get them successfully to the entrance near Knockturn Alley and together they headed for the Weasley’s joke shop. Blaise knew that Draco was likely already lurking there and Hermione was standing by with Potter...

“Do you think Daphne is going to do something stupid?” Blaise inquired quietly as both he and Theo walked towards the back alley behind the joke shop.

“I don’t know.” Theo admitted in resignation.

He really didn’t.

Inside Weasley Wizarding Wheezes and upstairs in George’s apartment that he once shared with his twin, Ron was pacing while the Greengrass chit was watching him with a malicious smirk on her face.

“Come on, Weasley?  You asked me to come here for a reason. Are you willing to help me or not?”

“What exactly is your plan, Greengrass? If you want my help you need to give me something. I’m not going to go after my former best friend unless I know whatever your plan is has a decent chance of working.”

“What? Don’t trust me?”

Ron just glared at the witch. “Not in a million years. But I don’ need to trust ya. I just need to know what the plan is and what you need from me.”

Daphne just sat back and stared at the red-headed wizard, who looked barely sober. His rise and fall from grace had been documented rather embarrassingly over the past weeks in the Prophet, but this morning had been truly delicious.

It was no wonder he wanted to see his former ex suffer.

“You need to give me something. An act of good faith, if you will.”

Weasley just stared at her like she’d lost the plot and then he laughed.

“You’re barking!” He quipped heatedly. “I’m supposed to give you ammunition to use without a fallback? What kind of wizard do you take me for, Greengrass?”

“One with no more good options? One who’s burned through every bridge and lost every friend because of his own selfishness and poor judgement.”

Ron scowled and snarled hatefully. “You’re a right piece of work.” Then he shook his head, deciding to take a calculated risk. “You know what? I don’t think you have what it takes to go after Malfoy or Mione. If you did, you wouldn’t be comin’ to me for help.”

He went to leave, but Daphne stood up and stopped him.

“Fine, but I want a Wizard’s Oath, Weasley. You give that to me I’ll tell you my secret...”

Ron just sneered but after a few moments he sighed and nodded.

“Fine.”

He took out his wand and made the oath and when he was done, he watched with feigned surprise when Daphne pulled out the time turner from under her blouse.

“Do you know what this is?”

Ron nodded. “Yeah, but how did you get one?”

Daphne’s expression registered surprise, and then curiosity as she asked, “How?”

“Do I know what that is?”

She nodded and Ron’s expression was beyond smug at this point.

“Mione was given a Ministry approved Time Turner our third year so she could take all the classes. Thing went back about five hours and she had some strange rules she had to follow to use it.”

Daphne’s eyes shot up in shock.

Dumbledore had allowed Granger to use a time turner at Hogwarts?

When she was only fourteen?

“Well, this one is a bit different in that it allows the user to go back years.”

Ron just scoffed like he didn’t believe her.

“That’s not possible! Besides...all the time turners were destroyed the end of my fifth year when we broke into the Department of Mysteries and dueled your buddies.”

“My buddies?” Daphne glowered hatefully.

“Whatever, Greengrass. I still don’t see how you got a time turner. How do I even know that thing is legit?”

“Because the original belonged to Lucius Malfoy. He gave the prototype to Theo, and my brilliant fiancé made a copy. I intend to ruin Lucius Malfoy and by extension his entire family and your little mudblood friend.”

Ron moved into her space and pointed a finger in her face.

“What did I say about using that word, Greengrass. I may dislike my ex, but I hate that word more.”

Daphne waved her hand and murmured, “Fine.” Her blue eyes eyed him critically before she asked, “You in or out?”

Ron moved back over behind his brother’s desk before he heard a knock on the door downstairs from George’s office to the back alleyway.

He turned to Greengrass and demanded, “You expecting anyone?”

Her look of confusion was genuine. “No. But it might be Theo. He tends to be a bit overprotective, and I did tell him I’d be here today.”

Ron sighed and headed downstairs, and surprisingly when he opened the door it was Theo with Blaise. He nodded to them both and let them in...walking past Malfoy...who was disillusioned. Mione and Harry were under his cloak upstairs waiting.

Ron gestured for the two wizards to follow him back to George’s apartment and then felt Malfoy tap his shoulder as the blonde settled somewhere in the room.

When Ron closed the door, he turned to face his newest guests.

“Surprise. Is anyone else coming too.”

“Piss off, Weasley.” Theo grated out and then everyone turned when a deep voice drawled from the corner of the room.

“Nice.”

The disillusionment spell dropped and Daphne gasped, but before she could get her wand out...she was petrified.

When Harry removed his cloak, Theo’s eyes widened at the very angry face of Hermione Granger, who’s wand was pointed at his heart.

“Ron, get the time turner please.”

Theo had his wand out in a flash and snarled, “Touch my witch and I’ll avada you, Weasley.”

“You sure that’s a wise idea, mate.” Blaise tried to be the voice of reason but his friend just glared at him distrustfully.

“Did you set me up?”

“No.” Blaise said sadly. “Well, not exactly. I was worried about you, as was Drake. This idea, Theo...you know it’s not right and Daphne is going to end up doing something in her anger that she can’t take back. Do you really want to lose her that way?”

Theo just kept his wand trained on the Weasel, but Granger just shook her head.

“He’s right. There are five of us here, Nott. If I’d wanted to, I could’ve taken you out with you none the wiser but I didn’t. Now, why do you suppose I did that?”

Theo just sneered. “Save it, Granger. You may have Draco convinced your blood status doesn’t matter, but I know better.”

That apparently, was the wrong thing to say because Draco tackled him and his fist landed with Theo’s jaw and then the two started brawling in earnest.

Both Harry and Ron were stunned, as they stared at the two wizards but Hermione just scoffed and waved her wand sending both Slytherin’s on opposite sides of the room. She then walked over and picked up Theo’s wand...handing it to Harry while Ron took the time turner from Daphne.

He then gave it to her, and Hermione placed it into her beaded bag with a nod of thanks.

She revived the blonde witch, who—when she realized her precious item had been taken—cast a curse at the other witch instantaneously.

Hermione, rolled her eyes as she deflected it effortlessly and sent back a conjunctivo at the other witch in succession with a jelly legs jinx and an expelliarmus.

“You bitch!” Daphne screamed and Hermione just chuckled, handing Harry the witch’s wand.

“Probably, but you’re rather unhinged, Greengrass—so I’m pretty sure you’re not standing on any sort of high ground here. You have in your possession, an illegal time turner. By rights, I could have Harry take you into custody immediately for sedition and plotting to undo the fabric of time. You’d be in Azkaban for at least a good fifteen years easy.”

That shut the other witch up long enough for Hermione to attend to Draco and heal his bleeding knuckles and cut lip.

Theo was groaning, as he stood up and glared viciously at everyone in the room. When he made to move over to his fiancée...Harry just tutted and shook his head in the negative.

“Not a good idea, Nott.”

“I don’t think you are in charge here, Potter.” Theo bit back waspishly. “You see, dear Draco’s Father has the prototype to that time turner in his possession and if we go down...so does he and the rest of the Malfoy’s.”

Draco just shook his head sadly at both Theo and his sister-in-law.

“What have I done to make you both hate me so much? Don’t you think it kills me to know that Astoria isn’t here to see Scorpius grow up? That I couldn’t change her mind when she begged me to go through with the betrothal and marriage, because she didn’t want her parents to lose their fortune!”

“You’re lying!” Daphne hissed. “Tori would have never sacrificed herself like that. Your family forced her!”

“I DID NOT!” Draco bellowed, his hands gripping his hair as he screamed out in rage, causing everyone to flinch back at the raw pain in his voice.

Hermione’s expression was devastated.

Thankfully George had a permanent silencing charm on the room.

“I begged my Father to let it be and when he refused, Astoria begged me to go through with the marriage. Your parents didn’t put up any fight, Daph...none at all. They allowed your sister to sacrifice herself to save their skins and your precious inheritance. They even tried to barter you off on me since my betrothal contract with Astoria took precedence over your’s with Theo. But I refused, because I couldn’t do that to Theo nor you, despite what you might think of me.”

Theo’s face paled and one look at Blaise, who nodded solemnly in response let Theo know that what Draco was saying...was the truth.

“Astoria loved Scorpius from the moment we knew she was pregnant with him. She’d read to him every night...talked and sang to him. She made me promise to give him a good home...a safe home with a loving family, and I swear on my magic...if I ever hear either one of you call Hermione that name again...I will destroy you both. Tori or not. Promise or not.”

Theo looked over at his witch, who’s face was completely stoic and disbelieving and he sighed.

“Daph...love...”

“Don’t you ‘love’ me, Theodore Nott!”

Theo’s face pinched at the rebuke and Hermione just scoffed at how utterly emasculated the poor wizard was.

“I think that’s enough. I’m afraid your options are limited. I’m quite good with the memory charms, so I could obliviate you both...” This caused Daphne to hiss and Theo to snarl in anger...”or you both could take an unbreakable vow...”

“Not gonna happen.” Theo bit out and Daphne nodded in agreement.

“You could both go to Azkaban, too. Trust me when I tell you that if you try and implicate Lucius Malfoy, he is willing to testify that you came to him and offered to try and fix the time turner so he could donate it to the DoM as their inventory was rather depleted during the war. I do believe the Minister himself was quite thrilled with the fact that Lucius Malfoy had offered something so generous, considering everything.”

Theo just gaped at her, while Daphne grinned.

“And since you have the press in your pocket...”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Greengrass. But I must warn you, if you continue on in this vein you will leave me no choice but to sue you for slander. I won’t have my good name and reputation smeared by someone who’s sole motivation was and is, revenge.”

“Once we’re placed under Veritaserum, the whole truth will come out, Granger.” Daphne smirked triumphantly, which changed to confusion as the other witch laughed.

“Well, that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Assuming you’ll be able to remember enough details to testify properly.”

“You can’t do that!”

“I can and I have. I obliviated my own parents and removed all their memories of me to save them. To protect them from people like you who use blood purity as a weapon. Now, dear, Daphne—what do you think I might do to you and Theo under the imminent threat of Scorpius family being taken away from him? His father, grandparents...me? Do you think I’m going to stand idly by and not destroy you both for thinking you could harm that sweet innocent boy?”

Hermione waved her wand and silently cast the countercurse, so the witch could clearly see the resolve on her face.

“I may be a Gryffindor—but I set Professor Snape’s robes on fire first year, broke into his storage closet and appropriated ingredients to brew Polyjuice second year...successfully too I might add. Third year, I used a Ministry approved time turner and saved Sirius Black from the Dementor’s Kiss, fought off a werewolf and rescued a Hippogriff...(at Draco’s cough she just looked over her shoulder and winked). I started a clandestine defense club in school, cursed a fellow student and scarred her permanently for life and lured Delores Umbridge out into the Forbidden Forest where the centaurs...well...I think you remember those lovely Prophet articles, yes?”

Daphne’s eyes widened and Theo swallowed heavily. He’d heard rumors of Granger’s vindictive streak in school but seeing her now...he had no doubt all those things he’d heard were true.

And then some.

“I helped Harry break into the Department of Mysteries, dueled Antonin Dolohov, nearly died, sent a flock of canaries at Ron here sixth year...dueled and bested Dolohov a year later and oblivated both him and Thorfinn Rowle...wore a Horcrux that held the soul of Voldemort for months...broke into the Ministry a second time...broke into Gringotts and broke out on a dragon...” Hermione’s body language at this point was smug, steely and resolved. “Do you think for a single second, Daphne Greengrass...that if I could do all those things before the age of nineteen that ruining you and Theo would be difficult for me to accomplish if I set my prodigious mind to it? Please, dear...give me a little credit here. I will decimate you both, smile and drink to your good health as you’re both rotting your miserable lives away in Azkaban.”

Everyone in the room went deathly silent and Draco couldn’t help but feel both aroused and terrified of his witch...whom he had no doubt would and could make good on that threat...promise?

Blackmail, maim and curse indeed...

Fuck if he knew!

She was brilliant!

He was taking her home after this and shagging her until she couldn’t walk properly!

“Or...you and Theo take the vow and if you do? I will do you a most generous favor in return.”

“And that would be?” Daphne asked warily and Hermione reached into her robes and pulled out a stone into her hand.

“Do you both know the tale of the Three Brother’s?”

Theo nodded first. “Yes. It’s my favorite.”

“Then you know the three items from that story and what they represent?”

Theo nodded.

Hermione gestured to Harry who lifted up his invisibility cloak and placed it over his body—disappearing instantly and when he reappeared Theo stared at the item in disbelief.

“So you have an invisibility cloak...they’re rare, but not that unusual.”

“True.” Hermione offered. “This was handed down through the Potter line and once belonged to Ignotus Peverell.”

Theo gasped and even Daphne’s eyes widened.

“Voldemort during the war was obsessed with the Elder Wand. The Deathstick, which belonged to Dumbledore. Voldemort stole it from his grave, but by the time the final battle occurred—Harry was the master of the Elder Wand.”

“That’s not possible.” Theo bit out but from the looks on the faces of the former Golden Trio—it was.

The Nott Heir then looked to the small stone lying in the other witch’s palm and said shakily...

“That’s the resurrection stone?”

“Yes.” Hermione’s voice was calm and clear and then she addressed the blonde witch with a smirk. “Take the vow and I will call forth your sister. You can ask her yourself what her wishes were and are. It may give you the peace you’re looking for.”

Daphne’s eyes stared in wondered horror at the black stone, her heart beating hard at the thought of seeing her beloved sister one last time.

She glanced over at Theo and he sighed, but nodded—and Daphne’s heart filled at the realization that no matter what—Theo had always loved her and put her desires first.

And she had taken advantage of that and him far more than she’d cared to admit.

Gazing back at the small object, Daphne swallowed and nodded once.

“We will take the vow.”

To her credit, Granger didn’t act all smug and self-righteous...she just took out a piece of parchment and had Daphne link hands with Draco and as she read the words and the magic swirled around her wrist—Daphne looked into the grey eyes of her brother-in-law and saw nothing but sad understanding reflected back at her.

Theo was next and once his vow was done...Daphne watched Granger place the stone in Draco’s hand and saw the wizard close his hand around the object...

And then she gasped, clutching her hand to her heart as her baby sister stared back at her lovingly.

“Hello, Daphne.”

Tori.”

“I’d ask how you are, but I think I already know.”

Daphne choked on a sob and felt Theo steadying hand on her lower back as they both stared at a healthy version of Astoria Greengrass who was smiling at both of them with love.

Even as she shook her head reprovingly.

“Sister, what were you thinking? Did my wishes mean so little to you that you would harm my Son?”

“You should’ve never been placed in that position, Tori! Surely you know that!”

Astoria just scoffed at her sister’s ridiculousness.

“I made the choice and sacrificed myself for something infinitely perfect. Scorpius was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I live on through him and if you love me like you claim—you would’ve gotten over your anger to get to know that last remaining part of me.”

Daphne dropped her head in shame.

Then she looked over at Draco, who was staring at her sister with love radiating from his gaze.

When she glanced at Granger—the witch’s expression was completely devoid of any emotion.

“And you’re okay with Draco replacing you with her?”

Daphne was impressed that the other witch didn’t even flinch or give any indication her words hit their mark.

Draco on the other hand, just scowled unhappily.

“I can’t think of a better witch to watch over Scorpius than Hermione Granger. I knew that Draco had always carried a torch for her, and I encouraged him to have the courage to follow his heart should he be presented the opportunity to do so. If you love me, Daphne...please love my son and support Draco and Hermione. Make sure Scorpius has a good life...can you do that for me. Both you and Theo?”

Daphne felt Theo squeeze her waist as he wrapped an arm around it and she sighed.

Then nodded.

“I can do that.”

“Witches honor?”

Daphne chuckled at how Slytherin her sister was even in death.

“Witches honor.”

The two siblings smiled at each other before Astoria’s gaze landed on her husband’s and she smiled lovingly at him.

Hermione couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy.

“Hello, love.”

“Tori. You’re looking well.”

“As are you.” Her eyes fell to Hermione and her smile got even brighter. “I see that irony isn’t wasted on you any longer.”

Hermione smiled and Draco chuckled and nodded.

“I took your advice to heart. Scorpius is amazing and Hermione and I let him know everyday just how much his Mother loved him. Still loves him.”

“Thank you, love. I’m happy for the both of you. Take good care of our son and Miss Granger?   Thank you for giving my boys a chance at happiness and love. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for them.”

“Your have my solemn magical vow that I will do all within my power to protect them, love them and keep them happy and safe. So mote it be.”

The force of the vow was felt by everyone in that room, and Astoria nodded proudly and then smiled impishly.

“Then my work here is done.”

And like a wisp of light...Astoria Greengrass returned to the afterlife.

When she was gone, Draco handed the stone back to his witch and she gave it to Harry mouthing ‘thank you’ to both he and Ron.

Harry bowed his head and Ron just shrugged, causing Hermione to roll her eyes at them both.

They may never get back to where they had been, but today had shown her that when it really mattered—their friendship stood the test of time.

“We good?” Draco’s voice got her attention as he was focused on both Daphne and Theo. The Nott Heir looked down at his witch and waited to see what she’d do before he committed himself—but when she just stared up at him pleadingly—he realized that perhaps they’d finally turned a corner too.

Looking back at Draco, he held his hand out and the two wizards shook in commiseration and hope for a better future and as they watched Daphne leave with Theo and then Potter, Weasley and Blaise head back downstairs—Draco enveloped his witch into his arms and kissed her with all the love he could muster.

After several minutes and lack of oxygen they pulled away just enough to touch their foreheads and breathe each other in.

“You alright?” He whispered, concerned.

“I’m fine, love. I’m just glad that’s over with. Now all we have to do is get through tonight.”

Draco groaned unhappily at the reminder that he couldn’t take his witch home and ravish her properly.

“Just letting you know now, my sweet love...once this shindig is done tonight and Scorpius is out for the night—I’m going to worship you all night long.”

Hermione smirked and said saucily. “I still need to practice my oral skills, love. Perhaps that is something we can look forward to for later.”

Draco groaned as he followed Hermione downstairs, pleading...

“Any chance we could just skip the gala?”

Her amused chuckle let him know that wasn’t an option.

Bugger!

Chapter Text

Pansy and Blaise had decided to come over early and get ready at Draco’s home for the gala that evening. Even Narcissa was getting in on the fun as she helped Hermione with her hair and at Pansy’s suggestion during their tea earlier in the week—Narcissa decided to bring a small token herself for her son’s paramour’s coming out back into society.

It wouldn’t do well for Miss Granger to be seen in anything less than the Malfoy’s finest frippery.

“I must say, Miss Granger—that dress is truly a stunning piece of artwork. I had no idea Muggle fashions were of this quality. We might need to go with dear Pansy here to that fashion week she was raving about.”

Hermione ran her hands down her gown and smiled in the mirror as she gazed at her reflection.

“I wouldn’t mind that. I actually do appreciate fashion, but have never been a slave to it.”

“That was obvious back in school.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and looked back over her shoulder at Pansy who was grinning at her.

“Shut it, you.”

Narcissa chuckled as she reached into her robes and handed Hermione a blue box.

The look of confusion on the young witch’s face was endearing, if not wholly unexpected.

“This is for you, dear. Pansy suggested that something of this quality might go well with your dress this evening and whilst Slytherin’s have never been known to wear Gryffindor colors—these belonged to my great-great Grandmother who attended Beauxbatons, and didn’t suffer such ill feelings in regards to House loyalty.”

Hermione took the box warily before she sat down on the small loveseat near the hearth, her own heart racing as she opened the box and gasped at what was nestled inside.

A stunning ruby and goblin gold necklace with matching earrings.

“I couldn’t possibly...”

Wide amber eyes met the amused grey-blue of Draco’s mother.

“Nonsense, dear. After this afternoons shenanigans, I must say I’m quite looking forward to hearing how this evening will play out. Nonetheless, you are a Malfoy now in sentiment and if I know my Son, in name soon enough—and you will need to look the part. They’re not cursed, dear.”

Hermione laughed and Pansy smirked as the Gryffindor witch lifted an eyebrow and then took her wand and ran several diagnostic spells...noticing Draco’s mom genuinely smiling at her.

“One can never be too careful in a room full of snakes.” Hermione quipped easily and Narcissa just replied, “Touché” as if she wasn’t the least bit offended by the need of assurance.

When Hermione stood and allowed Draco’s Mother to place the jewels around her neck in front of the mirror—Hermione gasped at how perfect the necklace and earrings complimented her gown. She could still see her Scorpion pendant nestled between her breasts and her expression softened.

“It is simply stunning,” Hermione whispered in awe. “Thank you, Lady Malfoy.”

The older witch nodded regally before she sighed in resolve.

“I think it’s time we dispense with the formalities dear. Please call me, Narcissa.”

Hermione swallowed and nodded in turn. “Then I would be honored if you would refer to me as, Hermione.”

“Then it’s done.” Was all Draco’s Mother needed to say, and Hermione’s answering smile was both parts grateful and relieved.

Then blue eyes landed on Pansy and she said, “Would you give us a moment, dear?”

“Of course, Narcissa. I’ll just check in on the boys and make sure they’re almost ready.”

“Thank you, Pansy...for everything.”

“Not a problem, Hermione. What are friends for, right?”

The other witch nodded and watched with fondness as her once mortal enemy, left the room she shared with Draco and headed towards wherever the boys were getting ready at.

When Pansy was gone, Hermione turned to Narcissa expectantly.

Thankfully she didn’t have long to wonder what the other witch wanted.

“Do you remember our conversation from the other day?”

Hermione thought back and then nodded. “You mean about my suspicions about Dagmoor and Posy?”

“Yes, the very same. I have reasons to suspect that dear Pansy may have been dismissed out of hand by her Mother due to the fact that she is Edmund’s child.”

Hermione smirked knowingly. “And you believe that Poppy is Dagmoor’s.”

It wasn’t a question and Narcissa was again surprised at how cunning and clever this young Muggleborn witch was. Her handling earlier today of the sordid affair with Daphne and Theodore had proved that much.

“I have reason to suspect that very thing.” Narcissa lamented with a twinkle in her eye. “I also did a bit of digging and it would seem that Pansy’s younger sister and her betrothed will be making their formal announcement of their status this summer. The contracts have been written and all they are waiting on is Poppy to turn seventeen...which she does this summer.”

Hermione thought about the possibilities of this new information and then collated it into the fabric of everything else she’d learned about Pansy and her family recently.

“Can I asked a question?”

“Of course, my dear.”

“Pansy told me about how the media here in London went after her because of what she’d said that fateful day...was that the primary reason her parent’s distanced themselves from her? Have they formally disowned her?”

“Not as such, but I’m sure you can appreciate that in Pureblood circles, usually a dowry of substantial size would be offered upon the marriage of a witch of Pansy’s heritage to her betrothed.”

“Ah, now I understand.”

“And that is?”

“Draco told me that Elora Zabini doesn’t care for Pansy at all. This is why, I’m assuming? No bride price, means no official status and that woman is all about money and status having gone through seven husbands. Under normal circumstances...Pansy being the eldest would’ve fetched a hefty amount, but if you’re right and now I’m thinking it’s highly likely...Posy Parkinson used Pansy’s moment of weakness to make sure that the bulk of the money stayed with her and Dagmoor’s child. Tell me, Narcissa?  Once Poppy marries Marius Flint and the dowry is transferred...what happens to that money?”

Narcissa chuckled with pride. “You truly are everything Draco has ever said about you, Hermione. I think you know exactly what kind of stipulations might be made in a betrothal contract. Once Poppy is set and married...Pansy essentially will be left out in the cold. If she and Blaise marry without a formal contract and a dowry—it would be as if she was acquiescing her rightful place within her family to her younger sister.”

Hermione shook her head in disgust.

How could things like this still exist?

It was barbaric!

“I’d imagine your Gryffindor sensibilities find this distasteful, but it has always been this way. However, knowing what you do now...how would you seek to use this to your benefit?”

Hermione thought about it for a few moments and her mind kept coming back to one question.

“I don’t understand how Posy Parkinson might’ve gotten past the enchantments on a family tree. I’ve seen the one at Grimmauld Place. How would something like that even be possible?”

Narcissa’s tinkling laugh surprised Hermione momentarily, but then the other witch held out a small piece of parchment. Looking down at it, Hermione grinned and chuckled.

“I see. Well, this explains how. I’m assuming each family would have their own spells, or could this be modified accordingly?”

“I think someone of your talents and skills could figure out a way to insure that it does.”

Hermione nodded and slipped the treasure into her beaded bag—that she’d smartly transfigured to a gold clutch for this evening.

“Thank you. I think I just might be able to help Pansy after all.”

“I had no doubt you would, my dear. Now let’s get you downstairs before my Son comes up here demanding I relinquish you to him. He’s been so looking forward to this evening.”

“I have too, oddly enough. I’ve never much cared for events such as this...but I find I don’t mind it so much with Draco by my side.”

“Well, this will be the first of many. If what you are planning comes to fruition...you will be doing this quite a bit in the ensuing years.”

Hermione just nodded and allowed Narcissa to lead her downstairs where sure enough, her wizard was waiting. As she watched him for a few seconds pacing in front of the floo, she could see how nervous he was and it made her heart swell with affection for him. Blaise and Pansy were grinning at their friend while Scorpius was sitting on the floor playing with Mippy.

When Draco finally sensed her presence, he looked up and his eyes widened at first—then darkened lustfully as his heated gaze greedily took her in.

She couldn’t help the blush that stained her cheeks at how utterly sinful he looked in his formal dress robes.

“Mimi!”

Scorpius came running, but his grandmother intercepted him and picked him up firmly within her embrace.

“Scorpius, love. What did Nana say about climbing all over Mimi in her new dress?”

Scorpius pouted and Hermione went over and cupped his face and gave him kisses on his cheeks, nose and forehead. He giggled and puckered up his lips for a quick peck, which she happily obliged.

“You be good for Nana tonight. Daddy and I will be home hopefully before bedtime, but if not...maybe you can show Nana that new story we’ve been reading.”

Narcissa’s expression was intrigued.

“One of yours?”

“Yes. I’m sending it off to my publisher next week, but I had a special edition bound for Scorpius only. Imogene meets a Dragon.”

Narcissa chuckled at the puffed up proud look on her son’s face, while Scorpius clapped his hands in glee.

“Jes, Nana! It’s my new bwook! Mimi made jwust for me!”

“That is lovely, Dearest—and we will definitely read it later. Give your Father a kiss goodbye too, and let the adults go play.”

“Awright.”

Draco gave his boy a quick cuddle and a kiss on the head. “Be home soon, champ. Be good for Nana, okay?”

“Tay.”

Draco then came over and enveloped Hermione into his embrace, leaning down and whispering into her ear seductively, “Wicked witch. I’m going to make you scream when we get home later. You are perfect.”

Hermione’s eyes glistened as she gazed up lovingly at her wizard, who looked beyond smug and proud to be on her arm.

Who’d have thought that she...Hermione Granger would be going to a Ministry gala with Draco Malfoy on her arm.

Somewhere the fates were having a laugh—she was sure of it.

“You look very handsome, love.”

“Good enough to eat?”

“Possibly.”

Narcissa cleared her throat to gain her son’s attention. Draco blushed slightly, but otherwise looked entirely unapologetic as he grinned at his Mum.

“You don’t want to be late, dears. Enjoy the evening and don’t worry about a thing here. We will be fine.”

“Thanks, Mum.”

Narcissa shoo’d them accordingly and one by one they went through the floo.

When they were finally gone...she gazed down at her grandson, who’s large grey eyes stared up at her just as his father’s had once upon a time and she smiled proudly.

“Let’s go get some dinner, darling. What would you like Mippy to make you?”

“Pie!”

“Shepard’s Pie it is.”

As Narcissa carried her grandson into the kitchen, she couldn’t help but wish that she could see the looks on everyone’s faces this evening.

Especially Posy Parkinson.

In the Ministry, the floo atriums went off and out stepped Blaise first, then Pansy—followed by Draco and finally—Hermione.

When the War Heroine appeared and vanished the repelling charm she’d placed over her body to make sure she stayed looking pristine, Draco went to offer his arm and then it was utter pandemonium.

The flashes from all the reporters from all over the Wizarding World went off simultaneously, as did the shouts of questions being barraged at them in rapid fire succession.

When they were within striking distance, Hermione held her hand up and the reporters quieted en masse.

“Good evening.” She spoke regally, her voice cool and confident. “I suppose it is too much to ask that you might allow us a chance to sneak by you without comment, correct?”

The reporters chuckled and Draco smirked proudly at his witch’s deft handling of the nosy nuisances.

“Miss Granger?” A reporter in blue witch’s robes shouted and Hermione turned politely to the woman.

“Please ask your question...but I will only take a few. I do need to make an appearance at some point this evening as the Minister is expecting us.”

The voices of those there murmured unhappily, but Hermione ignored it as she tilted her head at the witch who’d addressed her.

“Speculation has been rampant about your relationship with Draco Malfoy and your relationship with the Malfoy family—especially due to their past affiliations during the war. What would you say to those who feel that you’re being traitorous to those who lost their lives?”

Hermione knew this would be a question at some point and her expression became subdued and sympathetic.

“I would seek to remind all those who might wonder about such a thing to look into their own hearts and ask themselves what their choices might’ve been, had they’d been forced to have Voldemort living in their home...threatening their family. The war was hard on us all. Most of those on either side never wished to be caught up in the whims of a despotic megalomaniac with sanity issues,” (Most of the reporters nodded and chuckled at that, and Draco smirked and nodded too) “but alas, the past can’t be changed. I fought with Harry for my right to be a part of this world I love so much. I left after the war because the losses became too much to bear for a time. I’ve learned forgiveness, but I’ve also learned that had I continued wading in my own prejudices, anger and fear—then I would’ve missed out on something truly wonderful. Draco Malfoy is not the same wizard I went to school with but I’m not sure I ever took the time to really see him beyond our contentious rivalry. Not that he made it easy mind you.” (more laughter followed and Draco piped in ‘true enough’) “But, we’ve fought a war and come out the other side. I would hope that we as a society could make the commitment to do better, think better and be better. Not just for ourselves, but for our children.”

Another reporter raised his hand and Hermione smiled and nodded.

“I notice you’re here with Miss Parkinson and her fiancé...Mr. Zabini. Could you please tell us the nature of your relationship with Miss Parkinson and how Mr. Potter feels about this new development?”

Hermione’s tinkling laughter and shake of her head had everyone standing there staring at her utterly gobsmacked.

“Harry and I are doing our best to try and patch up our friendship. Despite today’s article in the Prophet, which Ms. Skeeter so eloquently indicated...much has happened between the three of us and I have managed to put that aside and offer my forgiveness for past hurts. None of us are perfect, but I have always strived to live my life with charity in my heart. Pansy and I have become quite close and she has suffered too. The loss of friends and family is something we commiserate on daily. She has taken the time to learn about the Muggle world and has carved a rather productive place there—which we hope to bring a bit of that home soon. This dress that I’m wearing is a prime example of current Muggle couture and Pansy has been a godsend helping me find a style that blends the finest of both worlds. Now, one last question if you all don’t mind—as I’d like to show off my dress.”

More laughter followed, but it was the final reporter’s question that had Hermione laughing inwardly.

Leave it to Rita to try and control the narrative.

“Miss Granger, it’s been noted that in the past your relationship with Miss Skeeter has been contentious and at times...hostile. Lately however, it would seem that her articles have been nothing short of effusive...glowing even. How is it that you’ve managed to turn that situation into your advantage?”

Hermione smiled at the reporter, and watched her swallow nervously as the glint in the young witch’s eyes, wasn’t fooled in the least.

Clever bug.

“Miss Skeeter and I have a bit of history, it’s true. She’s always been a journalist who has lived to sensationalize the more cognizant points of journalistic integrity when it’s suited her.” (Uproarious laughter followed, as many of the other reporters nodded, while the one who asked the question narrowed her eyes) “But even someone of Miss Skeeter’s caliber can be made to see common sense when faced with the reality of the greater good. The time for petty grievances and old hurts needs to be left behind if we are going to forge a brave new world for the betterment of our great society both here at home, and across the world. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my sole purpose is to see our great society be just that...great again. Harmonious, prosperous and free. Fortunately, I was able to share my vision with Miss Skeeter and as luck would have it—she made the gracious commitment that day, to share and promote that vision with me.”

Hermione felt Draco’s silent laughter as his body tried desperately to contain his mirth at all the double entendres in her eloquent speech.

“Now please, enjoy the rest of your evening.”

And with a flourish, her wizard offered his arm and together they made their way into the main ballroom where the rest of tonight’s festivities awaited them.

When they were out of earshot from the reporters, Draco leant down and whispered deeply, “You’re magnificent, love. You do know that last reporter was Skeeter under polyjuice, yes?”

“Of course I did. Interesting idea, and one I have to say I hadn’t anticipated. Not that it does her any good. She can’t go against the vow and I think she was trying to catch me off guard. Silly bug.”

“You going to squash her?”

“Nonsense, my love...I’m going to use her and then squash her when her usefulness expires. Most things do have an expiration date after all.”

“Would I be included in that?” He growled and Hermione tilted her head up and smiled adoringly at him.

“Never. I intend to keep you, Draco Malfoy. I love you too much to let you go now.”

His pleased smirk was sinful and his eyes promised delights for later as he pulled her a bit more firmly into his side. “Good to know. And here I was worried that my secret plan to whisk you off and propose wasn’t such a good idea after all.”

Hermione’s eyes widened and then she shook her head at her incorrigible wizard.

“Is that seriously your idea of a marriage proposal, ferret?”

“And if it was?”

She just hummed for a second and then sighed. She had never been a witch for romantic prose and something told her that Draco’s sense of self-preservation had its uses. This was his way of putting his heart out there without having to make himself even more vulnerable than he already was to her.

She couldn’t fault him for it, even if it exasperated her.

“Then I’d tell you that my answer would be the same—whether it’s today, tomorrow or some random date in the future.”

“And that would be?”

She just winked at him and nodded and watched as his face broke out into a blinding grin, but all he said was, “That’s good to know, my sweet love.”

“I’d thought you’d be alright with it.” She quipped back.

Pansy and Blaise watched the exchange with knowing smiles and happy hearts. Their friend was finally going to get his happy ending after all.

Then a grating voice had to ruin the perfect moment.

“Pansy darling, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

Pansy’s expression morphed into one of disdain as she eyed her mother and father with abject disgust.

“Surprise, Mummy Dearest. The bitch is back.”

Chapter Text

Hermione stood there calmly as she took in the woman who was Posy Parkinson. She was a fairly older version of her daughter with the same black hair and pug nose...although Pansy must’ve had her nose fixed at some point the past few years—as it didn’t look quite as ostentatious and repulsive as her Mother’s.

When Posy Parkinson’s gaze landed on Hermione’s, her lips curled into a sneer that almost looked like she’d smelled something foul.

What a charming woman.

“Really, Pansy, such foul language. And here I’d thought we’d raised you better than that, but it must be the new influences in your life. Common trash will tend to rub off in the most conspicuous ways.”

“Nonsense, Mummy Dearest.” Pansy bit back spitefully. “The only trash here is you. That dress alone makes you look like Great-Grandmother’s handmaiden. That style went out ages ago.”

Hermione’s expression remained calm, but Draco couldn’t help but cough at how utterly bitchy his best friend could be when properly motivated.

This was the old Pansy he hadn’t seen since their school days.

“That’s enough.” Edmund bristled in warning. “You both need to remember where you are and your place here this evening. And your Mother is correct, Pansy. I’m surprised to see you associating with certain people.”

“If your trying to infer something about Hermione Granger, Daddy dearest, I’d stop right there if I were you. She and Draco are together, and we’ve become rather close. She obviously has the ability to let past mistakes go, even when my own parents can’t seemed to be bothered to do so. Wouldn’t look good to have the family pariah in your not so polite social circles now...would it?”

Edmund’s lips pursed and his expression darkened, but Posy just tutted condescendingly.

“Draco, darling? What would poor Lucius and Narcissa think if they could see you now?”

“Well, you’d have to ask my parents—but since you don’t associate with them anymore? I’m afraid you’ll just have to keep wondering.”

“Darling, your mother did give me this lovely necklace to wear this evening.”

Hermione’s eyes sparkled as she smiled up mischievously at her wizard, who smirked down in return.

“That she did and I must say, it looks perfect on you.”

When they both turned back to the older couple, their matched expressions of disgust weren’t hard to miss—but Hermione decided to forge ahead.

“Pansy, would you be a love and see if you could find Dagmoor Broadhead and his wife for me?” Hermione noticed Posy flinch subtly from the corner of her eye and she smirked inwardly. “I wished to speak with him this evening and since your Mother is here—now might be the perfect time.”

Pansy nodded and took Blaise’s arm as they moved off together to find the Department Head for Magical Creatures.

“You know, Dagmoor?” Posy inquired haughtily, but Hermione could see her unease and she smiled widely and nodded.

“Why yes, we’ve become acquainted recently. I am so looking forward to working with him...in fact—I suggested we do a fundraiser of sorts to gain some much needed support for his department and I immediately thought of you. You both went to school together, correct? Professor Slughorn had mentioned it to me not too long ago when I had tea with him and Minerva McGonagall.”

She watched as Posy’s face paled slightly, and as Hermione suspected—Edmund’s face was completely passive and nonplussed. The wizard was either unusually good at hiding his emotions, didn’t care one iota about what his wife got up to or was pathetically clueless.

Hermione figured it was the last supposition that was the most likely scenario.

“And why would I help you?” Posy asked haughtily.

“Oh, I’m sorry? I thought your sort lived for that kind of thing? Planning charity events, balls, celebrations. I would think something of this nature would be right up your alley, and I’m sure Dagmoor would be thrilled to have your help in planning an event of this magnitude.”

As Posy stared her down, Pansy returned with Dagmoor and his wife Maryanne.

The look the two exchanged didn’t get by Hermione, although she was fairly certain no one but Draco noticed it either.

“Lord and Lady Parkinson. What an unexpected pleasure to see you both this evening.”

Dagmoor bowed respectfully, while Maryanne gave the most minimal of curtsies to the other couple. When Dagmoor’s gaze locked with Hermione’s, he nodded politely.

“Miss Granger. You look lovely this evening. Might I introduce, my Wife...Maryanne Broadhead, née Rosier.”

Hermione tilted her head in acknowledgment of the other woman, who just looked down her pointed nose at her.

“Pleasure.”

The other woman murmured something, and Hermione felt Draco’s arm around her tighten subtly.

“I was just discussing with Pansy’s mother (she refused to call the woman Lady Parkinson—which wasn’t missed by anyone...including Maryanne, who’s own expression changed from annoyed to slightly amused) about what we’d discussed recently. I was hoping that perhaps we could all sit down sometime soon and see what we might do to plan a fundraiser for your department, Dagmoor. I understand that Pansy’s mother is quite proficient at all things charitable.”

Pansy coughed on a chuckle, and even Blaise grinned. Draco just sneered haughtily at everyone, his former demeanor firmly in place for the night.

“How generous of you, Miss Granger.” Dagmoor stuttered a bit. “But I’m sure Lady Parkinson has much more important endeavors to attend to.”

“Nonsense, Dagmoor,” a deep voice said from behind the man, and everyone turned and bowed to the Minister for Magic—who’s dark eyes were filled with mirth. “Hermione has shared with me her ideas in this regard and I think it’s inspired. I’m sure Posy would be more than happy to help. Isn’t that right, my dear?”

Posy simpered while Edmund puffed out his chest in pride at being addressed this boon for his House.

“Of course, Minister. I will make it a priority.”

“Excellent. Perhaps I might borrow your husband and Dagmoor too...I wish to introduce you both to the new Bulgarian Minister.”

“Of course, Minister,” Edmund said pompously, “come along, Dagmoor and let’s see if we can do some good for our Minister.”

Kingsley smiled and then said, “Hermione, come see me tomorrow. The Russian Minister would like to have tea around four.”

“Of course, Minister.”

Hermione watched her friend walk away, before she looked over at Maryanne and smiled. “Mrs. Broadhead, would you be so kind as to do me a favor?”

“And that would be?”

“I promised the Head of MACUSA, President Quahog—that I would introduce him to my wizard here. Apparently the gentleman was an acquaintance of Professor Snape when he was alive, and wanted to meet his Godson. Honestly, I think the man just wants to discuss potions.”

Maryanne smiled and chuckled. “I see.”

“It’s my understanding from talking with Professor Slughorn, that you were a dab hand at potions yourself, in school. He was most eager to share so many interesting stories when I visited with him not too long ago. Perhaps Pansy and Blaise could go with you too. It will give me a chance to discuss a few things with Pansy’s mother.”

Dagmoor’s wife eyed the other woman with a smug smirk and then nodded. “It would be my pleasure.”

Draco moved forward and offered the older woman his arm, like a good Pureblood would. Maryanne took it with alacrity and they headed for the head of MACUSA as they discussed potions and alchemy.

Hermione couldn’t help but smile fondly at what a good actor her wizard was.

When they were out of earshot, she turned the full force of her stare at Pansy’s mother and smirked at the other woman.

Then she wandlessly cast a muffliato along with a notice me not.

“There—now we should have a few moments of privacy. I wanted to ask a favor of you too, Posy.”

“I didn’t give you leave to use my name, child.”

“No you didn’t, but I refuse to call someone who has spent the better part of twenty five years cheating on their spouse, purposefully using their own daughter’s moment of weakness as a bargaining chip and then positioning her illegitimate daughter in her not-so-rightful place...not exactly worthy of such a lofty title. Wouldn’t you agree?”

The older witch went to draw her wand and found herself disarmed just as quickly.

“Now, now, dear. Let’s be friends, shall we? After all...we will be working closely together. You see, I have the means to undo the little enchantment you placed on your family tree...thereby outing your indiscretion to your husband and daughter’s—as well as the Flint’s and the rest of the Wizarding World. Clever though. You don’t seem like the kind of witch to have the proper acumen for such Magic’s.”

Posy laughed nervously. “You’re bluffing and while I find your surmising interesting—it’s simply put—a gross fabrication.”

“Is it?” Hermione grinned. “Shall we play a little game?”

“And what game would you like to play with me, child?”

“It’s a Muggle game called chicken. You see, two people would stand in front of an oncoming train and whomever was the first to flinch or dive off the tracks—loses. Except in this instance, I’m the train and after what you’ve done to your eldest daughter...who is now a dear friend...I’m afraid you have the choice to either jump or get plowed down under. I’m really hoping you choose option two. I do so love a good scandal.”

Posy watched the young mudblood witch eye her like a predator would it’s prey.

She’d heard unsubstantiated rumors of this witch’s exploits when her eldest had been at Hogwarts and during the war.

But she’d never believed them.

Until now.

She swallowed uneasily and narrowed her gaze.

“What do you want?”

Hermione made a moue of disappointment as she tilted her head at the other woman.

“You will contact Narcissa Malfoy first thing in the morning and ask for her help with this charitable endeavor. Then, you will become her sponsor as you help her ingratiate herself back into that deplorable society you all seem to love so much. You will convince your idiotic husband to offer a substantial dowry to Elora Zabini post haste, before your illegitimate daughter is formally betrothed this summer. And lastly, you will take a witch’s oath to abide these terms or your secret is exposed and you will lose everything. And you won’t seek out retaliation personally or have anyone do it for you and you won’t speak of this to anyone else either. Gossip is so overdone and frankly, trite and unnecessary. My good will is to your boon. Are you feeling me?”

Posy tried her very best to remain unaffected, but the hard glint from the other witch’s eyes left her in little doubt that Hermione Granger would and could make good on her threats.

“Every rumor I’ve heard about you is true, isn’t it?”

And then some. Take the vow Pansy’s mother, and enjoy the rest of your night. And look on the bright side...you can keep your tawdry affair a secret for a little while longer.”

“You’re a bitch.”

“I am. Pansy was correct in what she said, except she forgot to mention that the bitch is me. And I am back. Just so you’re aware, I will destroy anyone who comes between me and mine so remember that Pansy’s mother—and you just might find yourself a useful ally.”

Hermione handed the witch back her wand and once the vow was made, she wandlessly cancelled the charms and smiled widely.

“Thank you so much for your cooperation, Lady Parkinson. I’m so looking forward to working with you on this project. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Hermione swept from her place with a gracious smile and spent the next twenty minutes chatting with various people—all of whom were excited to meet the War Heroine and welcome her back home.

When she finally found Draco—he was laughing jovially with President Quahog while Maryanne was regaling them with some kind of story.

“There you are.” She grinned and sighed happily as Draco enveloped her into his side.

“Miss Granger, your beau here is quite the potions prodigy. He’s been working on a few ideas to upgrade some of Professor Snape’s recipes and I for one am intrigued.” He then smiled genuinely at Maryanne, who blushed at the frank admiration. “And this lovely lady! Wherever did you find her? She was just sharing how she brewed a modified hair growing potion that was tasteless in school.”

Hermione’s eyes brightened in awe. “Truly? That’s impressive.”

The older witch’s blush deepened. “Well, there were a few girls in my House that were rather unkind. So I added it to their morning pumpkin juice fifth year and by lunch time, their hair was down to the floor.”

Hermione threw her head back and laughed joyously. “Oh, that’s a good one! I hexed a secret parchment once fifth year for Dumbledore’s Army and sent a flock of canaries at my best friend sixth year, but your prank is inspired. I should put you in touch with George Weasley. I bet he would love to patent your potion and it would be a huge moneymaker too. Some of the things I’ve invented for him have earned me a tidy sum over the years.”

She winked at the other witch, who’s own expression was calculating at the thought of earning some of her own galleons.

“I do believe I will take you up on that, Miss Granger.”

“Oh, please do call me, Hermione. Anyone who can pull off a prank like that, is a kindred spirit.”

Maryanne chuckled, as did Draco and President Quahog. “Then please call me, Maryanne.”

“Of course. President Quahog, our Minister invited me to tea tomorrow at four with the Russian Minister. Please feel free to join us, if you don’t have other plans.”

“I would love to, Miss Granger.”

“Lovely. I’m going to take my wizard and schmooze a bit more. Our little one is at home with his grandmother and this is the first time we’ve left him so we are a bit anxious to get back soon.”

Maryanne’s face softened and she smiled genuinely, placing a commiserate hand on the other witch’s arm.

“I remember those days quite well and I think it’s admirable that you’ve taken that sweet boy under your wing, Hermione.”

“He makes it very easy to do so.”

The look the two women shared was something only mother’s would understand and once promises were made of a tea date the following week, Draco led his witch through the room to meet and mingle.

A while later, as they said their goodbyes and headed home—he kissed her temple and whispered proudly, “You were magnificent tonight. I’m so proud of you and proud to be on your arm.”

“As am I, my love. Let’s go home and see our son. Then I have a promise to fulfill.”

Hermione laughed as Draco dragged her through the floo and soon—they were back home and Hermione made good on that promise.

The next morning the Wizarding publications were filled with her quotes from the night before. Right on the front page of the Daily Prophet there was a picture of she and Draco arm and arm with the caption ‘A BRAVE NEW WORLD’ and the article was everything she knew it would be.

As she was preparing breakfast, Scorpius and Draco were getting dressed when their floo went off and in walked Narcissa and Lucius—who had every morning edition of every Wizarding publication in his greedy little hands.

“Good morning!” Hermione said brightly. “Have you both eaten, or can I add two more place settings?”

“What is on the menu this morning, dear?” Narcissa nodded to her husband in thanks, as she took a seat at the table.

“I’m making crepes. There is fresh cream and homemade raspberry compote or I can do fresh strawberries if that is your preference.”

“No, this sounds perfect.” Narcissa demurred then smiled softly as her son and grandson came into view.

“Nana! Gampa!”

“Hello, my little angel. Did you sleep well?”

“Jes! I’s hungwry.”

Draco chuckled and placed Scorpius in his high chair, before grabbing some tea for his parents.

“What brings you both here this morning?”

Lucius set the papers down on the table and placed a thoughtful hand over them.

“I must say, if I hadn’t read these stories this morning and had some kind of context?  I would think you‘d imperiused the entire press corps of the Wizarding World, Miss Granger.”

“Not my style, Lord Malfoy.”

“No, I don’t suppose it is.” He admitted with a grin and gave his wife a smug look, which she ignored as she sipped her tea daintily.

“I did receive a lovely owl from Posy Parkinson this morning, however.”

“Really?” Hermione replied, feigning surprise. “How interesting. And what did Pansy’s mother want?”

“To invite me to plan a charity gala for the Department of Magical Creatures. She felt that someone with my style and connections would be perfectly suited to help her plan the event of the season.”

“Hmm,” Hermione prevaricated, “fancy that. Have you responded?”

“Not yet.” Narcissa admitted evenly with a tone that was born of ease and grace. “I wanted to talk with you first.”

Me?”

Narcissa chuckled and even Lucius was amused. “Dearest, don’t play games with me. I’ve been doing it for far longer and I can smell a rat with the best of them.”

“I am not a rat!” Hermione pouted, and the laughter that filled the large kitchen was warm and genuine. “I’m not! I just reminded Posy what an advantageous resource you were for all matters charitable and inferred that it might be to her benefit to bring you on board.”

“And you blackmailed her too.” Draco quipped with a pleased grin...he’d gotten the truth out of his diabolical witch sometimes after her fourth orgasm last night.

“Prat.”

“Yes, love.”

Hermione dished up everyone’s breakfast and then sat down to cut up Scorpius portion, adding a bit of cream and lots of raspberry compote.

“This is excellent.” Lucius hummed as he took a pleased bite.

“Thank you.” Hermione nodded and then turned her attention back to Draco’s Mother, who was looking at her proudly.

“Might I encroach upon your sensibilities long enough to see that conversation with Posy.”

“You brought a pensieve?”

Lucius pulled out a small item from his robes and enlarged it easily. Hermione chuckled and nodded, pulling the memory out and placing it into the basin.

It was a testament to Draco’s parents Slytherin nature’s that they didn’t even wait for breakfast to end as they each took turns looking at the memory.

When Narcissa came out, her face was bright and pleased—causing Draco to stare at his mother dumbfounded—as he’d never seen her look so open and happy.

But when his Father emerged a few minutes later, the hysterical guffaws had all of them joining in.

When Lucius was done, he stared at Hermione thoughtfully for several moments before he awkwardly cleared his throat and then spoke.

Hermione didn’t think that she’d ever...in all the years she’d known Draco’s Father...hear him sound so...genuine.

“I must say, when Draco first told me of his relationship with you, I handled it poorly. I allowed my old prejudices to sway my opinion and for that—I apologize, Miss Granger. I have spent the better part of the past ten years underestimating you at every turn. I’ve faced you in battle, seen your will and strength first hand and yet I still doubted. I don’t think I’ve ever been more pleased to be proven wrong than I am on this day.”

He raised his glass to her, while Hermione just stared at Lucius gobsmacked.

She never thought in a million years, that Lucius Malfoy—Pureblood...would ever be saying to her the sentiments that were now coming out of his mouth.

When she glanced at Draco, he was grinning madly and he finally looked at peace.

“Welcome to our family, Hermione.”

The young witch cleared her throat of the emotion threatening to spill over and raised her own glass in response. The four glasses clinked and she smiled in gratitude.

“Thank you, Lord Malfoy.”

“It’s Lucius, my dear. Since we are to be family...first names would be appropriate...don’t you think?”

“I do. Although perhaps you might have a talk with your son—who thinks it’s a good idea to propose in the middle of the atrium right before a gala.” She then turned to her love and winked. “That was a proposal, wasn’t it, darling.”

Draco laughed and nodded. “You’re a Minx but yes...it was.”

Narcissa clapped happily. “Excellent! We have a wedding to plan. I hear Muggle Paris is a good place to search for a trousseau as well as a wedding gown.”

“I’m sure it is, dear.” Lucius quipped with a conspiratorial smirk.

Hermione chuffed and shook her head.

She was marrying into a pit of snakes and oddly, she was more than okay with that fact.

Chapter Text

September 1st, 2011 was an emotional day for the Malfoy family as they found themselves at 10:42 am in the morning walking onto Platform Nine and Three-Quarters to see their son off to Hogwarts for his first year of school.

Draco was stoic but Hermione had been an emotional mess all morning long. In fact, for the past several days she’d been unlike her normal self...crying at the drop of a hat and a bit too easily riled.

She’d even hexed her husband when he’d mentioned it to her yesterday morning at breakfast.

Scorpius was excited for school. He’d read Hogwarts a History cover to cover so many times—he’d had it memorized by now. But at this very second, he was being fussed over by his grandmother and parents. His grandfather looked bored, but Scorpius had seen his grandpa’s moods enough to know that he was just as excited as the rest of his family.

A hand fussed with his robes and he sighed in exasperation.

“Mum, I look fine! You need to stop worrying yourself. I’m going to be okay. I’ll make friends and stay out of trouble. Besides, you know all the professors and Headmistress personally. What sort of trouble am I possibly going to get into?”

Hermione sniffed, but her eyes were glassy as she looked at her baby boy with unmitigated pride and love.

“I’m just going to miss you. I can’t believe my son is old enough to be leaving for Hogwarts. Do you have everything you need?”

“Darling, let our son be. He has everything. You triple checked it this morning, remember?”

Hermione nodded and smoothed her son’s robes down one last time and then watched as Scorpius said his goodbyes to his grandparents. When he got to Draco, the two clapped each other on the back and when Scorpius stood in front of Hermione, he shuffled his feet nervously and swallowed.

Then he pulled her into a fierce hug.

“I love you, Mum.”

“Oh, Scorp...I love you too. Don’t forget to send an owl and let us know what House you’re in.”

“He will be in Slytherin, love.”

Hermione huffed but didn’t reply as she was tired of the same argument.

When her son pulled back, she ran a loving hand through his hair and smiled.

“We are so proud of you, Scorpius. If you need anything, let Minerva know and she will floo your Dad and I.”

“I will, Mum. Promise.”

Hermione nodded and felt Draco pull her back into his side as he gave his son a final nod in parting and watched with a heavy heart as his baby boy took his first steps into adulthood.

Scorpius found an empty compartment and stood at the window, waving to his parents and grandparents until the compartment door opened and someone cleared their throat.

“Hey Scorpius, are these seats taken?”

Scorpius turned around and saw a pretty girl with blue eyes and long blonde hair and a older boy with blue hair and bright gold eyes.

“Hey Victorie, Teddy. Come on in.”

His two friends quickly entered and waved to the departing Malfoy family as the train left the station. Once his parents were out of sight, Scorpius sat down and sighed.

“Nervous?” Teddy asked with a grin and Scorpius shrugged.

“A little. Mum seems to think she needs to make sure I’m going to be okay and Dad just humors her. But truth is, I’m going to miss them both.”

“Your Mum will be busy though with her new position.”

Scorpius smiled and nodded. He was so proud of his Mum. She’d just been elected Minister for Magic three months ago. His Dad was rather chuffed about it too.

So was his grandfather, who seemed to be at their house more than the Manor these days—talking politics with his Mum.

“Yeah. It’s great you know, but I just don’t want her overworking herself. Especially now.”

His friends smiled and nodded, then Teddy pulled out a deck of exploding snap and they played several games until the trolley came around.

Back in London, Draco was busy escorting his emotional wife back home. She’d taken the day free from work so they could see their son off to boarding school. When they got through their floo and into the large living room, Draco sat them both down on the couch and snuggled his wife next to him. They cuddled for a bit, Draco’s hand splayed over his wife’s expanding belly and he smiled when he felt the nudges, kicks and rolls underneath his palm.

When he and Hermione married the late fall after he’d proposed, Draco had been thrilled and happier than he could ever remember being in his life. His witch and mother had successfully put together a wedding that combined the intimacy that Hermione wished for with the pomp that his parents expected. Among the throng of guests were several Ministers from various foreign ministries, most of the Hogwarts staff, most of Hermione’s friend’s from Dumbledore’s Army, a few Weasleys, a singular Potter and the British Minister for Magic—who officiated their marriage ceremony.

Pansy was Hermione’s Maid of Honor and Blaise was his Best Man.

Even Daphne and Theo had attended.

But the bright spot had been their little champ, waddling down the wedding aisle in his formal dress robes with the wedding bands magically sealed onto the antique pillow that had been used in his parents own wedding, years prior.

Skeeter had been given the exclusive for the day and she’d done her due diligence and written up a complimentary article with quotes from many of the guests. The fallout of that article had been seen a month later at the charity ball that his Mother co-chaired with Posy Parkinson.

It had been an unequivocal success and had supplanted his Mother back into her former social standing.

Posy Parkinson had managed to convince her husband to send a betrothal contract and a dowry to Elora Zabini one week prior to the announcement of Poppy’s betrothal to Marius Flint. Both Blaise and Pansy had been shocked when Blaise’s mother had shown up in Milan unannounced  while Draco and Hermione had been visiting with Scorpius. Elora had tossed the sheet of parchment down on the table and demanded to know how this had happened.

Everyone had turned to Hermione and she had smiled in welcome to the other woman—who scowled at her, insulted her and then demanded that if Blaise was serious about marrying ‘that girl’ then he needed to sign the contract post haste and send it back.

After Elora had left, Pansy reached for the contract and read it—tears converging into the corners of her eyes as she stared at her friend and asked ‘How did you do this?’

Hermione had hoped Pansy wouldn’t ask, but she wasn’t going to lie. At least not to her friend, so she told Pansy of her suspicions and the confrontation she’d had with her Mother the night of the gala. Both Pansy and Blaise listened completely stunned and then Pansy threw her head back, laughed uproariously and claimed in a smug voice that ‘You really should’ve been sorted into Slytherin, Hermione’ and that had been that.

At least for a few years, until Edmund had finally gotten his head out of his arse and had discovered his wife’s secret affair. He’d been furious, and although divorce wasn’t common in the Wizarding World—he’d sent his dear wife away to distant relatives in Germany for a few years. To everyone else, and Rita Skeeter—Lady Parkinson was taking a sabbatical for stress.

Poppy’s heritage still remained a secret.

Dagmoor Broadhead had finally managed to get himself out of the Department for Magical Creatures and was currently working as the Deputy Head in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. His wife had become a good friend to Hermione over the years. As promised, Hermione had introduced Maryanne to George and the two had patented her potion and it had been one of Weasley Wizarding Wheezes biggest sellers. The royalties from that alone, had given the witch a bit of autonomy in her marriage and a bit more respect within her own family.

But the biggest change had to be the relationship between Draco and Daphne.

After the wedding ceremony and during the reception, Daphne had finally made the overture to her nephew. Scorpius was cautious at first and it took a while for him to open up to his aunt but now they were rather close. When Theo and Daphne married—they’d invited Draco, Hermione and Scorpius to their wedding. It was about a year later that Hermione had come to Theo one day in his office with a letter from Pius Thicknese requesting a meeting. Theo had been stunned, had thanked her graciously and a few months later left his job and found a new one.

No one knew what he did in the DoM.

Well, no one except Hermione.

Now it was ten years later and as Draco found himself thinking back on the past decade, he realized that he’d never been happier in his life. He had his wife, son and now...

He smiled down at his wife, who was fast asleep at his side.

She was tiring out more easily these days.

As he cupped her belly again, he couldn’t help but be grateful to his Aunt Andromeda for her help.

Once his mother had finally convinced her sister to meet, the last of the old hurts from the War and prior—had fallen in spectacular fashion. The two sisters had spent several days locked away in a room at Malfoy Manor while Teddy stayed with Harry and Luna. No one knew what was said or what happened but when they’d finally emerged the afternoon on the third day—both sister’s were arm in arm and smiling.

Lucius had been pleased that his beloved wife finally had a measure of her family returned to her.

When Draco had suggested that his wife talk with Andromeda again about her condition...Hermione was reluctant to pursue anything but eventually complied.

His aunt had suggested going to a Muggle healer who specialized in infertility and Draco had been stunned.

Muggle’s had specialists for this sort of thing?

Hermione hadn’t been surprised. Her own Mother had difficulty getting pregnant with her, but beyond that she didn’t know any particulars.

When they’d researched it a bit, Hermione found the name of her Mother’s doctor and made an appointment.

And that was when things finally fell into place.

The infertility that the Healers at St. Mungo’s had diagnosed was in actuality a case of endometriosis that was in Stage 3. The scarring of her Fallopian tubes had led to the diagnosis of infertility, but as the Magical World had no understanding what endometriosis was—they’d given Hermione the worst case scenario and left it at that.

Whether or not her condition had been exacerbated by the Dark Magic she’d suffered during the war—no one knew for sure.

But in the Muggle World, endometriosis was highly treatable and Draco had spared no expense finding the best Healers in the world to treat his wife’s condition. They’d found them in America at a Muggle hospital called John’s Hopkins. Hermione’s surgery had been a resounding success and with the help of a procedure called IVF—they’d finally gotten pregnant.

And she was due to give birth to twin girls any day now.

Scorpius had been thrilled for his parents, and had spent time talking to his Mother’s belly. He’d even taken to naming his siblings when he spoken to them. Alula and Gemini—which were both twin constellations.

Both Draco and Hermione had secretly loved the names and had decided to keep them.

Even Narcissa had thought them very appropriate.

He gazed down on his wife’s sleeping face yet again and felt his heart brimming to bursting with the overwhelming love he felt for his witch. She’d forgiven him, loved him and loved their son with everything she had to give. Her kindness was boundless, her cunning was beyond arousing and her intellect was staggering.

It all came together into the perfect package that was simply...her.

He leant down to place a soft kiss on her forehead, when her eyes flew open and she gasped in pain...clutching her bulge in shock. Draco knelt down in front of her and took her hands and mimicked the breathing exercises they’d learned from that Muggle Lamaze class they’d gone to last month.

Once the contraction stopped, Hermione smiled lovingly at her husband. They’d been coming sporadically for the past day and they hadn’t wanted to worry Scorpius as she was still technically three weeks out from her due date, but Andromeda had told her that the twins would likely arrive early.

“You okay?” Draco whispered and Hermione nodded.

“Yeah. I just wish they had decided to make their appearance before Scorp left for school.”

“I know, but he will understand. I’m sure Minerva can be convinced to allow Scorp to make a quick visit through her floo to the hospital. I’ll put Mother on it if need be. You know how close they’ve become in recent years.”

It was true. Since Narcissa’s return to society, the witch had been a force of nature. She’d set up several charities for War Orphans, Hogwarts and St. Mungo’s. Pansy’s new line of boutiques had been a rousing success too, and together they’d hosted a fashion show in Magical Paris that was attended by every witch that had galleons to spend.

That night raised over three million galleons for various charities, and was now the annual event of the year.

“True.” Hermione grimaced as another contraction hit. Her eyes widened as she looked at the time and frowned. “That was only about seven minutes apart, right?”

Draco nodded and cast a tempus...waiting for the next one to hit which it did like clockwork.

“It’s time, love. I’m going to grab your bag and let Mother and Father know.”

“Alright.”

It wasn’t but fifteen minutes later the new Minister for Magic was being led into her private area at the hospital to give birth. Draco had joked that she was the first Minister that he was aware of, to give birth while in office.

She’d sent a stinging jinx to his arse and he’d yelped, scowled and then wagged his finger at her in warning.

“No magic, love.”

“Sorry.” She pouted, but he just kissed her and went to get himself dressed in his hospital gown for the birth.

It wasn’t but a couple hours and a C-section later that Alula and Gemini were born into the world on September 1st, 2011 at 4:47 in the late afternoon.

Draco had floo’d Minerva with the good news, and she promised to let Scorpius know once the sorting feast was done.

Lucius and Narcissa were thrilled as they each held one of their granddaughters, while Draco helped Hermione get adjusted on her clean bed...her incision from the surgery already starting to heal with the dittany that had been applied.

It was about nine that night when there was a soft knock on their door, and Draco opened it to see his son smiling up at him.

“Hey, champ.”

“Hi, Dad. So Mum couldn’t have decided to do this yesterday, huh?”

“Nope, I think she missed you too much and was just looking for an excuse to get you back home for a bit.”

“Stop it, both of you.” Hermione groused as she held Alula to her while Gemini was being rocked to sleep in her Grandfather’s arms.

“Wow!”

Scorpius moved forward and stared down at his baby sister who was looking back at him with eyes that were just a bit brighter than his own.

“This is Alula darling, and your Grandfather is holding Gemini.”

Scorpius swallowed and nodded, secretly pleased his parents had decided to use the names he’d chosen for his siblings.

“They’re beautiful, Mum. Just like you.”

“Oh, sweetheart...you’re a charmer. Just like your father.”

Draco scoffed but didn’t deny it. When Alula was done feeding, Hermione handed the twin to Draco who burped her and then gestured to their son to sit next to his grandfather so he could be properly introduced to his sister.

All eyes were on Scorpius and Alula as he hummed and cooed softly at his baby sister, who seemed to be as interested in his voice and he was in her.

“I think she recognizes my voice, Mum.”

“It’s possible.” Hermione grinned up happily at her husband, who was beaming in pride at his family and wondering how he’d gotten so blessed.

“So?” Draco drawled and Scorpius looked up and smirked. He could see both his grandparents out of the corner of his eye patiently waiting for the announcement to come.

“Slytherin, Dad.”

Draco raised a fist in the air like he’d won the Quidditch World Cup all on his own, causing everyone to laugh at how utterly ridiculous he looked.

“What?” He pouted unconvincingly. “Can’t I be proud of my Son.”

“Our Son darling, and yes...you can be proud of him.”

Draco gazed down lovingly into his wife’s amber eyes and nodded.

“Yes, our son. Have I ever told you thank you for loving me and giving me a chance to love you in return?”

Hermione cupped her husband’s cheek and sighed in adoration. “You might’ve mentioned it a time or two. Thank you for giving me a family, my love. Along with your love, it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received.”

Hermione turned her head and smiled radiantly at their son and daughters. She then nodded at her in-laws and felt her heart bursting with happiness when they returned the sentiment with pride shining from their eyes.

Yes...their family was everything.