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Chapter 1: Dance a Decade Away
As soon as I parked Hugo's stroller by a bench, Rosie was off. She ran for the swings, one of which had just been vacated so recently it was still swaying. I shook my head and grinned, handing Hugo a rattle from the depths of my purse. He gurgled with delight and immediately chucked it to the ground. Sighing, I retrieved it and handed it back to him. I then dug again in my purse for a book.
It was a pocket guide to ancient runes, as I'd realized a few weeks ago that I was beginning to get rusty. The damn book was prone to shrinking itself down to something a lot smaller than pocket size, which didn't help either. I swore free time became more and more of a myth each day.
"Mummy," a tearful voice sniffed. I looked up to see Rosie drooping in front of me, in sharp contrast to the bubbly girl that skipped off less than a minute ago.
"Sweetie, what happened?" I clucked, pulling her up into my lap. She clung to me and buried her head under my chin, getting bits of fiery hair in my mouth. Ron's Weasley hair combined with my irrefutably bushy locks did not bode well for our daughter's future.
"That boy stole my swing!" she said, her voice muffled. I looked up to see a smirking little kid with white blond hair twisting in the seat, tangling up the chains.
"Did he push you off?"
"No, he ran in front of me and took it!" she mumbled against my neck.
"Well, why don't you go ask him if you can take turns," I sighed. I smoothed down her hair and set her back on the ground.
Being four, Rosie knew only as much about sharing as ten cousins and a brother had taught her: nothing. But it was a sunny day, and the shrieks and laughs of children mingled with the chattering of parents all around us. She shrugged and skipped off, all her worries melting into the warm summer air.
I inhaled deeply and sat back on my bench. As I picked Hugo's rattle up off the ground once more, I felt someone slide smoothly into place next to me. When I looked up, it was into the dark eyes of one Draco Malfoy. He grinned a little too sweetly.
"Morning, Granger. Or is is Weasley now?"
"It's Weasley," I said suspiciously, giving up on my runes book and stuffing it back in my purse.
"And that would be yours and Weasley's over there, I take it?" he asked, nodding over towards the swings where Rosie stood talking to the thief. I was halfway through nodding when my eyes narrowed. I turned back to him slowly.
"Is that your son?"
"Yes it is. Why do you ask?" he smirked, as if a son was something to be smug about.
"My daughter tells me he stole the swing from her," I said, searching his gaze.
"Oh please, they're what, four? If he asked for it and she gave it to him, she would still say he stole it."
"Don't talk about Rosie that way," I snapped. "That's entirely uncalled for."
"Whatever you want, Grang— Weasley. There's no need to get your panties in a twist over it. Don't look now, but they're actually sharing quite nicely."
I turned back to the swings and swallowed a curse. Rosie and the Malfoy kid were sharing all right: she sat on his lap as he struggled to pump his legs and move the extra weight.
"Ah, no need to break up the lovebirds," Malfoy said lightly, grabbing my wrist as I made to get up. I shook him off, but not before he'd guided me back down. "Mark my words, they'll be married one day."
"What?" I gasped. I was unable to take my eyes off him as I bent down and found Hugo's rattle one-handedly. "What makes you think that?"
"Opposites attract," Malfoy shrugged.
"If that were true, those would be our children playing together over there," I said, before I could stop myself.
"Well, in my family at least, blood takes precedence," Malfoy pointed out. "You and Weasley certainly went against the grain... Although his family was so cozy with Muggles, I suppose it didn't make much of a difference."
I was so furious my hands actually began trembling, and I crossed them to hide it. Malfoy chuckled at the look on my face.
"Crossed a line, have I?" he said. "My apologies. But are you honestly so convinced that a Weasley couldn't fall for the likes of a Malfoy?"
"I trust I'm going to raise my children better than that," I said through gritted teeth. I was half a second away from punching him. Third year had taught me that was an excellent way to dispose of my anger productively.
"Well, then let's make a bet. If our little angels tie the knot, you and I dance at their wedding."
"What?" I exclaimed. "Are you out of your bloody mind?"
"And if they don't," Malfoy continued cheerfully, "I'll buy you a drink. Although that would have to be significantly far in the future, after both are happily married and have produced a few grandchildren. Just so we can be sure."
When he grinned at me, I could see in his eyes he was yanking my chain. He wanted to mess with me, just like he'd done countless times back in school. I cursed Rosie for choosing this stupid playground, on this stupid day, this stupid morning.
"Come now," Malfoy said, raising an eyebrow. "Is it that Weasley'll be mad at you?"
"Furious," I snapped. "Merlin knows I already am."
"Darling—" Malfoy began.
"Don't call me that!" I hissed. He chuckled again.
"Fine then. Weasley, we're talking decades from now. Who knows? They may hate each other's guts, same as we do. I'm just saying, why not have a little fun until we're certain?"
"I'd hardly call this fun," I muttered.
"C'mon, lighten up," Malfoy cajoled. He held out a hand, pale as his smug little face, and waggled his eyebrows.
"I hope I don't see you until that drink at the Leaky Cauldron," I sighed, and we shook. He winked at me, then brushed invisible dust of his pants and stalked off. I handed Hugo his rattle yet again, and reached for my runes book.
"Oh, damn— Ron?" I said, turning to my husband. He leaned back in his chair, tugging at his tie and looking rather moody. He despised dancing and he loathed Malfoys. Like our hair, not a good combination.
"Hmm?" he replied, tearing his eyes away from where Hugo danced awkwardly with Scorpius's little sister, Pleione.
"I entirely forgot to tell you this," I said quickly, seeing Malfoy gliding towards us out of the corner of my eye, "but Malfoy and I made a bet."
"What?" Ron spluttered, letting his chair thunk back onto all fours. "What sort of bet?"
"It was years ago— no time to explain— but the gist of it was that if Rose and Scorpius married, we'd, er, dance at their wedding."
"No way," Ron said, slamming his fist on the table, making water jump in his glass. "If he thinks he can—"
"He's coming right now, and he's going to insist," I said desperately. "Could you please just refrain from hexing him, at least until after our children are safely off on their honeymoon?"
Ron's ears were pink and his face was going next. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it, but saw from his expression that we were out of time. I swiveled slowly in my seat, finding my terribly pinching shoes under the table with bare feet. I was just in time to see Malfoy arrive.
"May I steal you away?" he smirked, holding out a hand. His hair was thinner, his face a bit more lined, but it was essentially the same man that had bullied me into the bet so long ago. I heard Ron seething behind me, but over Malfoy's shoulder also caught a glimpse of flying, flaming hair. It was Rose, spinning around by Scorpius's hand, white silk swirling around her ankles. She tipped back her head and laughed, joy in every corner of her face. I sighed, reached down to properly put on my heels, then accepted Malfoy's hand. I shot Ron an apologetic look over my shoulder as we headed for the dance floor, and he grimaced back at me with barely controlled rage.
"Bastard," I muttered under my breath, as Malfoy put a hand on my hip and took my own in the other.
"A bet's a bet," he murmured. I had to turn sideways to see his face, but sure enough, he was grinning.
"And I suppose you're going to say you did it for the kids," I continued. Over his shoulder I could see Rose looking at me curiously, a thousand questions in her glance, but a touch of pride as well. Then Scorpius tipped her backward, and all her worries evaporated.
"I could say that," he replied, our feet mirroring each other's movements. He was a smooth dancer, moving perfectly with the music, melding with the guests all around us. "Or I could say that I just wanted to get under your skin."
"Well, it certainly worked," I said, but found no anger to inject in my voice. Instead there was just a deep weariness, at a feud that had begun the moment I chose a bespectacled stick and a red-headed loudmouth for my friends.
I felt his smile on my cheek, and moved my head away. Rose was still watching me across the room, and I didn't even want to know the state of Ron.
"Did all your anger melt away?" Malfoy said quietly in my ear. I pursed my lips.
"It's been a long time, Malfoy, but I'm sure I can dredge some up if you like."
"No, no, I rather like losing enemies."
"Well, you're not gaining a friend, I can tell you that now."
"That's fine," he shrugged. A pause, then, "Want to bet that Hugo'll marry Pleione?"
I opened my mouth, then slowly closed it. A dance a decade at the most wouldn't kill me. It would be good for Ron, too. He hadn't had to fight for me since sixth year. "You're on."
A/N: This is my Valentine's Day gift for firefly910. When I received her as part of the Ravenclaw Gift Exchange, I did a little snooping and found she was a Dramione fan. It was actually less like snooping and more like clicking on any post she'd ever made! Well, I wasn't one to back down from a challenge. Even if it was a little kind of really extraordinarily hard. On my third try, this was as close as I could get. And I honestly did end up enjoying writing it. Happy Valentine's Day, Callie!