Chapter 1 : The New Beginning
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A little boy of five sat on a plush couch with his short legs dangling over the edge. His brown hair flopped into his eyes and he fidgeted in his seat, playing absentmindedly with the buttons on his trousers. He watched intently as his mother raced around their tiny flat packing up the last of their things. They were moving today, and were already an hour behind schedule.
“Mummy?” He asked as she sped past him.
“Yes?” She didn’t stop her hurried packing.
“Why don’t you use magic?” He asked curiously.
“Because we mustn’t be lazy, it is not good to rely on it for everything.” She answered.
“Mummy?” He asked again.
“Yes sweetie?” She continued stacking boxes in front of the fireplace.
“Where are we going?”
“England.” She said simply.
“But why?” He persisted.
“Because it’s time to go home.” She told him, knowing he might not fully understand the heaviness of her decision to return to England.
“Mummy?” He whined.
“What?” She finally stopped what she was doing and looked back at her son.
“I’m hungry.” He said, patting his stomach. She walked over to the couch and kneeled in front of him.
“Pumpkin, I need you to wait a tiny bit longer, okay? Mummy is in a big hurry and she is a little bit nervous so if you could just-”
“Why are you scared mummy?” He looked up at her with big honey brown eyes. She sighed and sat down next to him on the couch. He climbed into her lap and she wrapped her arms around his small body.
“Well,” She brushed the hair out of his eyes. “Mummy hasn’t been home in a very long time, and she is a little bit nervous to see the people she hasn’t seen in since before you were born.” His mouth formed a small O in what she hopped was understanding. “So, my Nicky, I need you to keep yourself occupied while I finish packing up alright?” He nodded and gave her a silly smile. She laughed and kissed him on the forehead. He moved off her lap, allowing her to get back up, and he continued to watch her hurriedly gather belongings.
Hermione Granger had not been home to England in almost five years. After her first year in Cairo, she met a man named Conner in her Magical Development class. The two had hit it off immediately, but there was a part of Hermione that still held out hope that Draco would be waiting for her when she finished school, so she held off on making any romantic advances. That same year, Hermione went home for Christmas with her friends and family. While she was meeting Harry and Ron for drinks at some bar that Ron had picked out, she saw Draco for the first time since graduation. With another girl on his arm. It broke her heart, but she did what any girl who saw her first love lost in a bar with another girl after no communication for a year would do, and got totally pissed. By the end of the evening, it took both Harry and Ron to get her onto the couch at the Burrow safely, due to her intoxicated state. The following morning, Hermione was due back at school, so after a strong hangover potion and a firm “It’s time to move on” lecture from Ginny, she left once again. That was the last time she had seen them.
When she returned to school, she started spending more time than ever with Connor, and they started dating that January. They slept together for the first time on Valentine’s Day. Without protection. Three weeks later Hermione found out that she was expecting. It ate her up inside. How could she have been so irresponsible? How was Connor going to react? Well the answer to the last question was, he didn’t. He didn’t do anything, he just ran. He left Cairo, Hermione, and what would soon become baby Nicolas.
Hermione was at a loss as to what she should do. There was no way she could go back now, not with a baby on the way. She did the only thing she thought she could do, stay in school as long as possible, and then opt out when the baby was born. She had to face the consequences of her actions, and she would not give up her child. Always the determined one, she was convinced that she could do it alone. Her professors were sad to see her go, however, for she held the highest average in her class, not a surprise to anyone that knew her. The constantly crafty Hermione even used the pregnancy to her advantage. When she had a rough night and couldn’t sleep, she would study.
Nine months later, Hermione was sitting in an outdoor café in the early morning on Halloween when her water broke and she was rushed to the nearest hospital. Another painful eleven hours later Nicolas D. Granger was born. He was a beautiful baby boy, perfectly healthy with ten fingers, and ten toes. He looked just like his mother, except that his hair was straight like his father’s. However one of the nurses said that a child’s hair often curls after the first few years. And smart too, boy was he a smart little one. Hermione felt her heart burst with pride when he said his first word: book.
Despite the fact that she had dropped out of Cairo, she had no difficulty finding a job, and with her education, it was easy for her to arrange hours that would be convenient since she had a child now.
Every summer and every winter, she got letters from Molly and her own mother asking her to come home for the holidays, but every time she turned them down. That’s the way it stayed for five years. But now Nicky was going to turn six if a few months and Hermione decided that it was finally time for him to meet his grandparents, aunt, and uncles. She bought a flat in Surrey over the phone. It was in a nice muggle neighborhood but it was only a short walk to a nearby magical community. She even signed Nicky up for the pee wee Quidditch team that played during the summer. She thought it would be a great way for him to make some new friends since he would be new to the area.
She sent the last box off to the new flat, and then turned to Nicky. “Are you all ready to go?” She asked him. He nodded and hopped off the couch. Their new place was furbished, so there was no need to take the old couch. “Where’s your book bag?”
“Here.” Nicky turned around and showed her that he was wearing it.
“And your broom?” She asked, referring to his small toy broom that doesn’t go higher than eight feet in the air.
“You packed it already.”
“Oh, right. Well then, we’re off.” She picked him up. “Merlin I can’t believe how big you’re getting. Soon I won’t be able to carry you.” She said. “Okay Nicolas, can I trust you with the floo powder?”
“Okay, then go ahead and take some.” He held the fine powder in his small fist, and then tossed it in to the flames. The fire roared and turned green. Hermione stepped in, with Nicky in her arms. “Mellowood Flats, Surrey, room 4B!” She said, taking her last look at her old flat. They whizzed past hundreds of fireplaces before they finally stopped at the correct one. Getting out of the fireplace and convincing Nicky to release his death grip on her (he still was a little frightened by traveling by floo) Hermione gave her new home a good looking at.
It was nice. The clean walls painted a pleasant shade of light blue, with a very soft yellow hue in the kitchen, and crisp white in the bathroom and two bedrooms. Nicky dropped his bag and ran down the hall and in to the little room at the end of it.
“My room! My room! My room!” He ran and jumped onto his twin sized bed.
“Nicolas be careful please!” Hermione called after him. She could hear him laughing so she took it as a sign he was fine. I think I may be able to use magic just a little. She thought. It really does take so long to unpack… just a little wave should do it. With a flick of her wand all of their belongings jumped out of their boxes and bags and in to their proper places. Hermione went into the kitchen and began making some dinner for Nicky and herself, but she couldn’t help but wonder, What is Draco doing right now?
A small girl of about five stood watching her father at his desk, bent over a messy stack of papers. She played with her wavy blond hair between her fingertips and was rocking back and forth on her heels.
“Daddy?” She asked tapping him on the shoulder.
“Now is not a good time Issy.” He said not looking up from his work.
“Daddy?” She tugged on his shirt sleeve.
“Daddy is busy Isabelle.” He said, still trying to concentrate on the papers in front of him.
“Daddy?” She persisted.
“What is it Isabelle?” He asked, giving up and looking down at his daughter.
“Will you play with me?” She pouted. He sighed, pulling her up and on to his lap.
“Daddy is extremely busy right now honey. If I don’t get this work done by tomorrow then I will get in trouble with my boss. You don’t want me to get in trouble do you?”
“Mum would have played with me.” She said stubbornly. He groaned inwardly. Not again with the mother stuff
“Issy, I know you miss your mum, but she isn’t here right now. She left, and she probably isn’t coming back. It is just you and me now kid, and we need to make this work. So can you please just go play by yourself for tonight, and I will come in to tuck you into bed later okay?” He stated his question as more of a statement but Isabelle seemed to understand and hopped off his lap to go play in her room.
A very tired twenty four year old Draco Malfoy rested his elbows on his desk and massaged his temples. For the past week every night had been the same. “Daddy play with me” “Daddy look at me” “Daddy I’m hungry” “Daddy where did mummy go?” “Daddy, daddy, daddy…”
He had met Maddison Clark through his job at the Ministry, and a coworker set them up on a blind date. She was attractive for sure, with perfectly straight blond hair to her elbows and striking features. She didn’t have a bad personality either, although she was not quite as intelligent as he would have expected from someone who worked at the Ministry. He wrote her off as nice, but not his type, however he found himself going on a second date with her the following week. They dated for five months, and the shags were great, until Draco had found out that she didn’t take her contraceptive vial one month and she had gotten pregnant. They were happy together, and Draco kept telling himself that he was in love with her, so he acted on that decision and proposed. The wedding was anything but extravagant, and it basically involved the two of them and a court house with a witness. To him it felt more like a business deal that a wedding. Maddison didn’t care about the simplicity of the ceremony, all she worried about was making sure that her parents didn’t find out she was expecting until everything was legal. They got along fine during the months of pregnancy, mostly just staying out of each other’s way, until little Isabelle was born.
After a standard birth with no complications, Maddison filed for divorce, and wanted to share custody. She told Draco that she couldn’t stand the thought of bringing Isabelle up in a loveless home, and that it was for the best. Not surprisingly, Draco found that he wasn’t upset about the proposed separation, but only for his daughter’s well being. After all, she looked just like him, and had the attitude to match. She was certainly a feisty one. They agreed that Maddison would have her weekdays, and Draco would have weekends, and they would split holidays according to where ever Isabelle wanted to be.
But then, one day, after five years of their back-and-forth routine, Maddison didn’t come pick up Issy like she was supposed to. It killed Draco to watch Issy sit in front of the window all day and night, waiting for her mother to come collect her when it was obvious to anyone else that she wasn’t coming back. It had been two weeks since that day, and Issy and Draco were still getting used to each other. The weekends they spent together were often awkward, and Draco didn’t know what she liked, what she didn’t like, or what she did for fun. He would take her for ice cream, or to the park. Sometimes he would buy her games that she could play by herself, but she was a social butterfly, and she needed to be entertained all the time. He finally understood this now, but he also knew that it would take time before he really got to know his daughter like he would like to.
Getting up from his chair, he stretched out his sore muscles and walked in to his little girl’s room. It was actually his old office, but he cleared it out when it looked like she would be putting up a permanent residence. He had put in a real bed today, and tomorrow he planed to paint it pink, but for now it would just have to do. She was sitting cross-legged on her bed playing with a stuffed animal. A cat named Meow. He sat down at the foot of her bed and she stopped playing and looked up at him. They stared at each other for a little while, just taking the other in. It scared him how much she resembled him. His striking blue eyes, his white-blond hair, his trademark Malfoy smirk.
“It’s time for bed Issy.” He said finally. She nodded and got up off her bed. Draco pulled back the covers as she crawled in, and then tucked them in all around her once she was settled. He handed her the stuffed cat, and kissed her on the forehead. “Good night Issy. I love you.”
“I love you too daddy.” She turned over on her side and closed her eyes. He turned out the light and just as he was about to close the door he heard a small voice say, “Daddy?” He stuck his head back in the room.
“Mummy isn’t coming back is she?” She asked. Draco sighed.
“No honey, I don’t think she is.” He answered truthfully.
“Good night.” He closed the door and went in to his own room. Undressing and climbing into his own bed, he let his mind wander off to the thoughts of Hermione that he kept locked up during the day. It was at night when he thought about her, and wondered how she was doing, or if she had moved on from him. Sometimes he wished she was there to help him, like right now when he had no idea how to raise a child. He was curious to know if she ever came back to England after she finished that Advanced Magic school, or if she did then where was she living, or with who?
Hermione sat on the edge of her little boy’s bed, tucking him in and wishing him sweet dreams.
“Mummy, tell me a story.” Nicky requested. Hermione gave a weak smile.
“You want to hear a story?” He nodded. “Okay.” She took a deep breath.
“Once upon a time, there was a little witch, and she was very smart. Just like you.” She lightly tweaked his nose and he giggled. “This little witch had two very good friends that she spent a lot of time with, and together they went on all kinds of exciting adventures. One of her good friends even saved the world, twice. Well, as in all stories, there is a villain, and in this story, it was a little wizard that the witch went to school with. He would tease her, and called her bad names, sometimes making fun of her friends too. But she never cried, because she knew that she couldn’t let him get to her. As the little witch grew up, she started to get along with the mean wizard, and soon she came to find that he really wasn’t evil at all. The starting to spend more time together, and some days they would spend all afternoon just dancing the time away. Well, the little witch and wizard fell deeply in love, and they were very happy together. They were very happy, until one day, the witch got a letter from a far away land, asking her to come live there. The witch had wanted to go there her whole life, but she didn’t know if she could leave the wizard she loved so much. She knew she had to make a choice between the two, but either way her heart would break. In the end, she decided to leave the wizard and go to the far away land alone. The little witch never saw the little wizard again, and even though it was hard for her, she moved on with her life, and she even met someone new that she thought she loved. This new person gave her the best gift in the entire world; a little child of her own. The end.” Nicky was already fast asleep by the time she was finished. His mouth opened and closed in a cute little yawn, and he rolled over onto his stomach.
She gently brushed his hair off his face and kissed him on the forehead. “Good night my angel. Sweet dreams.” She stood up and quietly shut the door behind her. Hermione leaned against the closed door, hugging herself. I am too young to be a mother. She thought. I wouldn’t trade Nicky for the world, but this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She crossed the hallway to her own room. Changing into her pajamas and folding back the covers, she slid in to bed. Better get some sleep Hermione, She told herself. Tomorrow is the big day. She turned out the light and let herself drift into uneasy sleep.
*Bounce*Merlin what is that? *Bounce* Could it be an earthquake? *Bounce* Okay that’s it… Hermione sat up in her bed and looked around. Nicky was bouncing up and down on her bed, obviously trying to get her up.
“Nicolas, what are you doing? Mummy was sleeping.” She said groggily.
“I’m hungry.” He said innocently. Hermione rubbed her eyes and pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail with a hair tie from her nightstand. “Nicky, you know where the cereal is, why couldn’t you get it for yourself?” She asked, sliding her feet in to some slippers and throwing on her dressing gown.
“We don’t have any milk.” He said.
“What are you talking about? There was a full carton in there last night.” She turned in to the hallway and headed toward their small kitchen.
“I spilt some on accident.” He said, starting to look worried the closer his mother got to the kitchen.
As soon as she saw the kitchen, she stopped dead in her tracks. “Oh for the love of Merlin. Nicolas!” Milk flooded the kitchen floor and speckled the cabinets. Cereal littered the counter and the box was knocked over and hanging over the edge, spilling onto the floor and into the puddles of milk.
“I sorry Mummy.”
“You mean ‘I am sorry Mummy’, you… oh Nicky how many times do I need to tell you to be careful when handling the milk? And you know better about the cereal. You have done it so well before, what happened?” She asked stepping around the milk puddles and grabbing the sponge from the sink and started mopping up the milk.
“I’m sorry.” He said softly, staring down at his feet.
“It’s alright, I’m not mad, but I just need to get this cleaned up. Why don’t you do Mummy a favor and go put on the clothes I left on your chair on, okay?” She said, pushing up a milk-soaked sleeve. He ran off down the hall and shut his door.
“Ugh, enough of this.” She grabbed her wand from her bathrobe pocket. “Scourgify!” The kitchen immediately sparked with cleanliness and the cereal box stood upright. Nodding in satisfaction, she opened the cabinet and pulled out a package of instant porridge for Nicky, and a granola bar for herself. Putting on a pot of water for porridge and tea, she ate her breakfast bar while waiting for the water to boil. Quickly preparing his breakfast and putting it on the table with a small child’s spoon and a little cup of pumpkin juice, she called him to the table.
“Nicky, come and eat please!” He skipped down the hallway and plopped himself into the chair. She looked him over. “My, my, my, somebody is looking handsome this morning!” She said with a hand on her hip and an impressed smile on her face. He gave her a wry grin and ate a big scoop of his porridge. “I’m getting in the shower. Be good please.” She pointed her finger at him. “No milk.” He laughed and nodded. Ruffling his hair as she past, she rushed in to the shower. Becoming a mother had turned her into the fastest shower taker ever, since there was no one to keep an eye on Nicolas. Using a drying spell on herself and putting on the outfit she had chosen the night before, she grabbed her purse and shoes and headed in to the common room. Nicky was sitting on the couch reading a book while she slipped on her heels and applied a small amount of makeup in the hall mirror.
“Nicky do you have shoes on?” She asked, trying to keep herself calm.
“Yes.” He stuck up a foot with a small sneaker attached to prove it to her.
“Okay good. Do you have everything you need? Do you need to go potty before we leave?” She asked double checking everything. He shook his head. She held her hand out to him and he took it. She grabbed her purse with her free hand and slung it over her shoulder. “Nicky, we are going to apparate so I want you to keep a strong hold on my hand, and stay close to me, understand?”
“Alright, here we go.” *POP*
Hermione felt her feet come in contact with the lawn in front of the Burrow, and she looked to her right and saw Nicky with his eyes squeezed shut and a tight grip on her hand. She bent down to his eye level. “You can look now darling, we’re here.” Tentatively he opened one eye, then the other. She watched his unsure expression disappear when he saw the house. His eyes widened and his little mouth hung open in awe. She laughed softly and gave a gentle tug on his hand. He started walking but kept staring at his surroundings. Hermione stood on the doorstep of the Burrow, trying to bring herself to lift the knocker.
Inside, Ginny Weasley looked up from her journal she was writing in. Looking through the front window she could have sworn she heard some one apparate into the front yard. Seeing no one, she shook her head and told herself that she was hearing things.
Deep breaths Hermione. You need to do this, for Nicky. He should know his family. They will forgive you, they love you…Right? Hermione lifted a shaky hand and gave three short knocks. Nicky’s grip tightened on her hand and he scuttled behind her. He always was a little shy when meeting new people. After a moment, the door opened to reveal Molly with an expression of pure shock on her face.
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