Chapter 1 : The Future
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Chapter One: The Future
She couldn’t believe they were fighting over Santa Claus. It wasn’t as if she still believed in Santa but she wasn’t about to tell her six year old daughter Juliette that. The child had enough to deal with as it was but to steal away her last moments of innocence before it was time was more than Hermione could bear. How dare he walk into her house and accuse her of lying to her own daughter! The nerve of him!
Hermione cinched her bathrobe angrily as she twisted on the silver faucet, determined not to let another fight with him ruin her evening. It had been weeks since she’d had any time to herself and her plans of a scented bubble bath, a glass of wine and a good book were not about to be forgotten just because of his arrogant “I know best” attitude. She slipped her fingers under the warm water, letting it slid through her hands. Her eyes rested momentarily on the third finger of her left hand, wondering what it might look like with a gold band around it.
Shrugging off the thought, she eased out of her robe and into the mound of bubbles filling the oversized claw foot tub. She had been lucky to find this room…Grimmauld was a maze of mysterious passageways and dark tunnels but, with its golden dragon feet and pristine white ceramic glaze, she could almost believe the house was the grand palace it had been when the Black family owned it. Laying her head back against the edge, she closed her eyes and let the scent of warm vanilla and peppermint wash over her. Her thoughts muddled slowly, her tension drifting slowly from the muscles in her neck. A rush of chilly air made her eyes open and turn towards the doorway.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, trying to force the irritation out of her voice.
“I’m not here to fight, Hermione,” Draco whispered softly as he sank down beside her at the tub. He lifted a glass of red wine her direction and she grudgingly accepted it. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay before I took off.”
“What possessed you to think you know what’s right for my child? Juliette is none of your concern and neither am I,” she hissed.
“That’s not true and you know it. Since Ron and Harry’s death—"
“No.” Hermione raised her hand to silence him. “I won’t go through this with you again. I won’t.
“You’re being an obstinate twit.” Although the words were biting, he said them softly to take the edge off. “You won’t explain to her about magic and yet you’ll have her believe in Santa?” He shook his head. “Sometimes your stupidity surprises even me.”
“She does know about magic,” she countered, ignoring his attempt to recommence the fight. “I just have chosen not to use it. Draco, I lived half my life without magic. It’s not as if one can’t survive without it, you know. Besides,” Hermione bit her lower lip to contain her emotions, “you, Remus and Tonks have pretty much made up for anything I had wanted to keep from her.”
“I don’t know—" he tried but the stiffness in his back spoke volumes.
“I’m not a fool. I know all of you are teaching her magic behind my back and I don’t hold that against any of you. She deserves to learn it and practice it.” Hermione’s voice softened and she covered Draco’s hand with her own. “But you have to respect my decision. I’ve chosen not to do magic. It destroyed my life, Draco. Can’t you understand?”
Draco caressed her cheek tenderly, unwilling to continue arguing as the tears began to forming her eyes. He knew things had been difficult for her…even though they had all lost something; her losses seemed much deeper than the others. He hadn’t been there for the worst of it, his childish loyalty to purebloods keeping him at Voldemort’s side. He, of course, knew about her and Ron. They were mere weeks away from marriage, waiting only for Harry’s return from his latest mission to become husband and wife. Tonks had been kind enough to tell him how Hermione had begged and pleaded with Ron not to go after Voldemort to avenge Ginny. She had tried to convince him to wait on Harry or Remus but, Ron had never been one to think level-headedly. He rushed off in a drunken rage and had never come home. Harry had been the one to find his body or, at least, the remnants of what had remained after the Death Eaters were done with him.
He wasn’t exactly sure what had happened to Hermione after that...she never talked about it. He knew that Harry had taken more control then, become more powerful, and Voldemort’s growing fascination with Harry had taken its toll on the Death Eaters. It was sometime during this that Draco began to vacillate…to wonder if he’d made the right choice. He took a chance by going to Harry, finding him alone one night in Godric’s Hollow. They fought, Harry won, and Draco succumbed to the truth. Voldemort was not going to win.
In the darkened streets of Godric’s Hollow with Harry’s wand touching the fringes of his throat, his fear had been the only thing to make him come clean. He admitted his deeds, admitted his role with Ginny, and admitted to helping destroy the Weasley family one by one. He expected to be struck down, his breath had even hesitated with the resignation of his own fate but, Harry never did the expected. In an act that reminded him of Dumbledore’s last words at Hogwarts so many years before, Harry had forgiven him.
He took him in, offered him the protection of the Order and, surprisingly enough to Draco, never told anyone of his misdeeds. Harry insisted that they were no one else’s business and, if he trusted Draco that should be enough. He had come to Grimmauld with nothing and had been offered the safety and security of a family. Hermione and Tonks fussed over him, Remus had grilled him nightly for information and Harry had hidden himself away from almost everyone. It was sometime in that year before Harry’s death that Juliette had been born. With her dark brown hair, vivid green eyes and unruly temper, Draco had immediately fallen in love. He’d never known a child that could be so carefree and, unlike with the others where he often felt as if they were pretending to accept him for Harry’s sake, little Juliette knew nothing about his previous life. In her, Draco saw his chance to start over.
“Ron was raised with his magic, Hermione,” he tried to reason. “Would he want his daughter to have a muggle upbringing?”
“We aren’t talking about Juliette, we’re talking about me. I caught the little hellion doing spells on the cat yesterday.” She laughed as the vision of her daughter chasing down the cat and launching spells that puffed up its tail crossed her mind. “I’m just not going to do it.”
Draco fought to control the rage that welled within him. How was it possible for anyone to be so stubborn?
He let his eyes roam her body. Although hidden under the bubbles, he could still envision the curves he had learned so well over the past few years. He shook his head to clear his mind. She hadn’t, after all, let him near her in ages. Amidst a fight was definitely not the time to try and rekindle that.
“Are you telling me no, Hermione?” he asked finally, the scent of her bath beginning to turn his stomach.
“I don’t know,” she whispered, Draco’s flash of annoyance making her want to scream “NO!” at him. But, she refrained…she had other things to think about now. Draco wasn’t a bad man; he was good looking, stable, rich and loved Juliette with every ounce of his being. “We have such a history, Draco.”
“No, I’m not arguing. I’m just saying I need time.” She offered him a tiny smile. “That’s good enough for now, isn’t it?”
“As if you are leaving me any choice in the matter,” Draco murmured. He forced a smile and held out his hand. “Then keep it until you to decide. Deal?”
Hermione hesitated. She glanced at the clinched fist he held out before her, but she was unable to force herself to move. He took her hand gently in his and dropped the golden colored band in her hand. He tightened her fist around it then kissed her hand tenderly.
“Forget the past, Hermione. It’s over and done with. I am your future. Yours and Juliette’s,” he whispered then kissed her gently on the lips, their kiss lingering longer than either had intended.
“I’ll see you soon.”
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