Important notice: This chapter wouldn't even have been here right now if it weren't for my friend Sara (volition112). She's helped me a lot, esp with the part of Draco's flashback... So thanks Sara - me loves you!
The flashback part begins when it looks like this: ----------~~--------- and ends with another one of those ----------~~-------- lines... Wouldn't want to confuse you all! =)
Chapter 41 – One Sweet Day
Draco woke up with a start after only two hours of sleep, he looked to the right and at the clock beside the bed, it was only 5 AM. Then he looked to his left where Hermione was sleeping peacefully. His body was covered in cold sweat and his body was wrapped into his blanket. Quietly he climbed out of the bed and walked across the floor and in through the bathroom door. He splashed some water on his face and looked at himself in the huge mirror on the wall.
I have to do this, he thought.
He stepped back into the bedroom. Hermione was still asleep; she had a satisfied and quite happy look as she lay there. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw her. He took his wand and with a simple flick, the door to his closet opened and a backpack flew out and landed on the floor in front of him. As quietly as he possibly could, he packed the most important things he’d need.
It can’t possibly take me more then a couple of days to find that old witch, he thought and closed the backpack. Then he put on some clean and not at all sweaty clothes that he could travel in, after that he took the backpack and left the bedroom.
He slowly walked down the stairs thinking, what if it’s the last time I walk down these stairs? What if I don’t survive? I know I have to do this, but if I never come back, Hermione will be left alone… again… Am I ready to take that risk?
He stepped into his office and sat down in front of the desk; he put a piece of parchment in front of him and took a quill in his hand.
He wrote, but couldn’t think of how to continue. He couldn’t think of how to explain what he was going to do and why he was doing it. He looked out of the window; it wasn’t very dark outside because the sun was just about to rise in the horizon. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful summer morning and day as there weren’t any clouds in the sky and the birds were already singing in their trees.
At least I’ll know she’ll be safe; she’ll have Ginny, her parents... Potter... and now Mike is gone; he’ll never bother her again, he thought. Just as he thought of Mike, the memories of the night he was caught flooded into his mind. Only a week after he had disappeared, Draco had received a letter from him...
Meet me in the Shrieking Shack at dusk. I have an offer you shouldn’t refuse.
Draco read it once again, before the parchment caught fire; he dropped it on the floor and watched it burn to ashes and disappear. As he watched the paper burn, he knew that he wanted nothing to do with Mike, but he still was interested to find out what the offer was all about. What else could he possibly want?
Later that evening, around dusk, he told Hermione that he had to go to the Daily Prophet; that they had some sort of crisis that he needed to solve. He Disapparated as soon as he shut the front door of his house.
When Draco reappeared in Hogsmeade, he casually looked around. The High Street was buzzing with shoppers; the shop windows were glowing with light, casting odd shadows on the ground. He heard hearty laughter coming from the Three Broomsticks, as someone opened the door and entered. He looked around once more to see if anyone had noticed him; luckily, it seemed no one had. He then moved himself to the deserted street that would take him up to the Shrieking Shack. As he ascended the hill, he kept looking back to see if he was being watched or followed; once again he saw nothing suspicious.
When he reached what was supposed to be the front door, he wondered how he would get in, seeing how every window and door was boarded up. Maybe it’s password protected... Draco theorized. Not having the patience or the password, he grew irritated. A sudden blast of blazing blue light erupted from his wand, blowing the door to pieces.
As he clandestinely entered the newly made door, he held his wand with a firm grip, getting ready for whatever was waiting for him inside. He quietly padded through the downstairs searching for Mike; the dust-covered floor absorbed the sound of his feet on the rickety old floorboards. Seeing no sign of him, he edged up the stairs almost soundlessly.
Draco eased down the narrow hallway, his wand out in front of him, begging to curse anything that moved. At the end of the hallway, a door stood slightly ajar. He slinked back against the wall, and peered cautiously into the room, seeing Mike standing in the middle of the floor, looking at his watch.
Draco kicked the door open, making the hinges scream ominously, catching Mike off guard.
"What took you so long?" Mike snarled, ignoring the wand pointed at his chest. "I said dusk."
"Tell me about the offer," Draco snapped while squeezing the wand tightly in his hands.
"I knew you’d be interested," Mike laughed, walking up closer to Draco. He looked very thin and tired, as if he hadn’t eaten anything in the week he’d been on the run. "But let’s not jump into business just yet. Would you like some tea?" he said in an uncharacteristically calm voice.
"No I wouldn't," Draco said rudely but Mike ignored him;, he took an already made cup of tea and handed it roughly to Draco, also taking another cup for himself.
It's probably poisoned, so that I'll do whatever he wants...
"Tell me what I'm doing here!" Draco roared, throwing his cup of tea against the wall where the china shattered. Its contents splashed the wall and rushed to meet the dust-covered floor, making a nasty paste with the dust bunnies, and soaking into the rotting baseboards.
Mike just gave him a cruel smirk, and said coldly, "I see you won’t be distracted."
Draco just glared at him stone-faced.
Mike placed his cup back down where he had gotten it; his movements were sluggish. Draco thought that he would never hurry up.
"I can offer you power, Malfoy," Mike said slowly, wanting every word he said to sink in and have an effect. And it did; every word, every syllable, that Mike spoke seemed to roll fog into Draco’s mind, making it hard for Draco to concentrate.
He’s poisoned me, he’s poisoned me! Draco thought as panic started to rise in him. I can’t remember drinking anything though...
"I know you’re a brilliant wizard... You entered my summerhouse without a problem and your family is highly accepted by dark wizards." Mike’s words were hypnotizing. He took a step toward Draco, walking in circles around him. "I want you to work for me... you’ll be my right hand; together we could rule the world." Mike put a hand on Draco’s shoulder pushing him down on his knees. Draco just stared out in front of him unaware that he was on the floor.
Come on Draco, focus! he screamed at himself.
"A-and what’s the catch?" Draco slurred his words, barely able to control his speech. The fog in his head made him want to sleep, but Draco fought it.
"I want Hermione; I want to kill her," Mike sneered. "And I want you to bring her to me."
His thoughts went to Hermione and immediately his head cleared partially. "Never," he spat harshly, trying to muster up all of the venom he could.
"If you don’t bring her to me, then you won’t leave this house alive," Mike said angrily. Draco could hear footsteps from about five men behind him, but he didn’t turn around and see who they were.
Mike stopped circling him and stood directly in front of Draco so that their eyes meet in a cold stare-off.
Knowing that the fog cleared a little bit when he thought of his sanctuary, Hermione; he tried to picture her in his head. Her curly brown hair that met her shoulders in silky soft swirls, her amazing hazel eyes that melted his heart, the curves of her hips and the way they swung when she walked, drove him mad with lust. Seeing her clearly in his mind, it was as if all of the fog was gone... "I’d rather die, than work for you!" he roared, hating Mike with every fiber of his being.
Anger shone in Mike’s eyes as he stepped forward and wrapped his dirty hands around Draco’s neck; Draco still refused to say another word. There was no way in Hell that Draco would go back to the dark side... no way at all. Just as Draco was about to lose his breath, Mike let go of his neck and pushed him so that he fell backward. "Torture him," he said.
As Draco laid there with his back on the floor, he looked up at the faces of four men, one of them, he recognized as his former friend and Slytherin companion, Vincent Crabbe. He spotted his wand a few feet away from him on the floor.
"Not so cocky now Malfoy, eh?" a man named Patrick, who was two years older than Draco, said. He was a former Ravenclaw student with top grades.
"Allow me the pleasure," Crabbe sneered slowly; even as an adult his speech never improved. He pointed his wand at Draco’s chest with a hint of fear in his eyes, but he performed an unforgivable curse anyway. "Crucio!"
Draco writhed around in pain while the six men stood above him staring down at him mercilessly. Draco’s entire body felt like it was on fire as he convulsed.
Draco had really no idea what happened next, he was in a world that brought him only pain. It was so unbearable, that he did not notice that Neville Longbottom, along with eight aurors, Harry Potter included, entered the room.
As they rushed in, Crabbe ended the curse and started to fight with two aurors instead. Draco barely noticed Neville grab Mike’s ankle before they both Disapparated out of sight.
Harry came rushing to his side, "Malfoy, are you alright?" he hollered over the noise of curses and hexes being yelled at other people. Draco could only nod as he caught his breath; it felt like he had just run a marathon. He did nothing but lay there as he caught his breath. When he could breathe steadily again, he crawled over to his wand and stood up from the floor. He felt weak and shaky on his legs, but helped the aurors fight Patrick, Crabbe and the two other men anyway. With eight aurors and Draco against them, they really had no chance. Acknowledging this, they surrendered and were all taken to the ministry.
Draco and two other aurors stayed behind to search the Shrieking Shack for Neville and Mike. After about thirty minutes of searching, Harry showed up again, along with ten other aurors; they all started to search the grounds around the Shrieking Shack and eventually found a badly wounded Neville sitting with his back against a tree.
"Are you okay, Neville?" Harry exclaimed.
"I’m fine; it’s just some scratches—"
"And a broken nose," Harry supplied, examining Neville’s bleeding nose.
"Where’s Walls?" Draco demanded, getting ready to fight again, expecting curses to start flying at him.
"Right there," Neville said pointing at the unconscious body of Mike Walls lying a few meters away from them in the shadows of a huge oak. "I saw him getting ready to Disapparate, so I dove and grabbed his ankle. He wasn’t expecting the extra weight so we ended up out here." Neville informed.
"That was very gutsy Neville! You could have Splinched!" Harry cried.
"What are you Potter? His wife?" Draco commented as he reached his hand out to help Neville up to his feet. "How did you know he was here?"
"I saw you leave the High Street and make your way up here. I knew that whatever you were up to could not be good if it involved the Shrieking Shack. And besides, you are always around trouble, or you are the trouble, so I called for backup, and we all followed you up here."
The same morning, but a few hours later, Neville Longbottom entered the kitchen of his new house. There was his wife Luna, breastfeeding their five month old daughter, and Kylie who’d soon turn three was sitting with them, happily eating her breakfast.
"Morning daddy," Kylie said happily.
"Good morning honey," Neville replied and messed up her already messy blond hair. Luna just smiled at him and he smiled back at her. They were the happiest family right now; yes, they’d always been very happy together but ever since Neville caught Mike, they’d become even happier, because when Neville had caught him, he’d received a bravery award and a quite big amount of galleons from the ministry.
They’d always been very poor, living in a small apartment with two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. They hardly ever invited anyone to their home back then, sometimes not even their closest friends… Because most of their friends had quite a lot money and they were ashamed that they lived in a rat hole compared to all their friends.
But now, they had a new house, in Godric’s Hollow not very far away from where Draco and Hermione, or Ginny and Harry lived. They had a view over the same lake as Hermione and Draco and they had a big garden where their kids could play.
"Neville, I’m going over to Hermione’s house later today. I’ll take Keira, but Kylie said she’d rather stay at home with you… You’re not working today, are you?" Luna said as she was finished feeding her youngest daughter, Keira.
"Nope, I’m not, but I was thinking maybe you and I could do something…"
"Well you could fix a romantic dinner for two--" She paused and looked at Kylie. "No, on the other hand, you could fix a romantic dinner for four while I’m at Hermione’s", Luna said with a smile on her lips as she got up from her chair with Keira still in her arms.
"You’d love that wouldn’t you?"
"I might just do that…" Neville replied and kissed his wife, then he leaned closer to whisper in her ear, "…and a romantic dessert for two."
Luna giggled as his breath tickled the skin of her neck, "Sounds perfect."
"What’s that smell?"
"That is your daughter, who wants her father to change her diaper," Luna said and handed Keira to Neville, who took the little girl in his arms.
"That’s funny, whenever she’s happy she’s your daughter… and whenever she smells or cries she’s mine."
Luna laughed, with the same strange laughter she had back at Hogwarts, that made people actually turn around and look to see where that weird sound was coming from. "Exactly; am I right Kylie?"
"Yeah, mummy’s right… and Keira smells really bad. I think you have to change that diaper now daddy," Kylie said with her mouth full of cornflakes. Luna burst out laughing and Neville just rolled his eyes; but with a smile on his lips, before he left the kitchen with Keira.
"I love you Neville," she called after him. He backed back into the kitchen, up to Luna and kissed her again. "I love you too," he said.
At the same time, but two blocks away, Ginny was running around in panic all over the house, trying to pack everything she and Harry would need for their second honeymoon. Of course they’d already packed everything they needed, but she just wanted to make sure that they really hadn’t forgotten anything.
"Ginny, we’re waiting," Harry called as he was standing by the fireplace with Mrs. Weasley, James and the twins.
"Mummy is a little worried about leaving me, Paige and Riley for eight days…" James exclaimed to his grandmother, whose hand he was holding.
"I see; but she has nothing to be worried about, right?" Molly said and gave James a wink.
"Ginny!" Harry called again. "I’ll go see what she’s doing," he said after a while without a reply from Ginny. He left the living room and walked upstairs where he knew she was. He found her in the twins’ bedroom, sitting on a rocking chair just staring blankly in front of her.
"Harry, I can’t leave them," she said without looking at him.
"Of course you can Gin, they’re in good hands."
"I know, I know. My mother’s a brilliant baby sitter… but do you think she, alone, can handle the three of them for eight days?"
Harry walked over to her and got down on his knees in front of her, "I think she can; they’re not that bad…" he said. "And if she needs help she knows where we are."
She turned her head down to look at him, "You’re right… I’m worrying too much, but it’s just that… we’ve never really been away from James or the twins for more then a day and…"
"They’ll be fine," Harry said and smiled at her. "And we’ll be fine as well; this vacation will do us good."
"You’re right, you’re right…"
"Take a deep breath," Harry said and had to bite his lower lip not to break out laughing.
Ginny, who of course noticed her husband’s attempt to not break out laughing, slapped him playfully on the cheek. "Shut up, I know that I panic over the smallest things but it’s just who I am."
"I know, and I just want you to know that I love you just the way you are," Harry said and got up to his feet, pulling Ginny up with him.
"Good for yo--" she was interrupted by Harry pressing his lips against hers.
"Eight days of this," he whispered and kissed her again.
"It’ll be really good for us," Ginny said and gave him a peck on the cheek before they pulled away from each other.
"Yes, it will. I’m glad to finally hear you say it; let’s go downstairs. They’re waiting."
"But I have to say good bye to Hermione!"
They started walking towards the stairs and Harry sighed, "She knows you’re leaving and you can send her letters once we’re there… Let’s just get away now or something will come up and we won’t be able to go!"
"But I have to say good by, and believe me Harry, we are definitely going to Jamaica; nothing can stop us!" Ginny said and took his hand as they were now on the first floor. "Go with mum and the kids to the burrow; I’ll say a quick goodbye to Hermione--"
"Let’s do it this way, we can both go to the burrow and then we can both go to say good bye to Hermione," Harry said as they entered the hall where Molly, James and the twins were waiting patiently. Well, not all of them were patient; James was rather impatient as he was currently jumping up and down trying to grab hold of a lamp hanging on the wall.
"Yes; perfect plan. I love you Harry."
Hermione woke up to find that she was all alone in the bed; she turned her head to the right to look at the clock beside her bed. It was only 8 AM. She wondered why on earth Draco was up so early on a day he wasn’t working. Maybe he’s just downstairs making breakfast for Becky and me, she thought and smiled. Then she got up from the bed, put on her morning robe and started to walk toward the stairs. As she walked past Becky’s room, she saw that her little girl was sitting in the middle of the floor, playing with her dolls.
"Good morning sunshine."
"Hi mum; come in, I want to show you something," Becky said and her mother did as she was told. "Look, I cut off her hair," she said and held up her doll for Hermione to see.
"No, Becky, why did you do that?"
"Because she’s a pirate now, like me," Becky replied. "Mummy, can I cut my hair off?"
"You can't, but we can go to a hairdresser if you want," Hermione said and stroked one hand over Becky's soft red hair. "But I love the length you've got now, it's so beautiful."
"I think so too; can I cut your hair mummy?"
"No honey, you can't," Hermione laughed. "Have you seen Draco today by the way?"
"Yes, he was here; he was weird..."
"Yeah, he hugged me forever, kissed me, and then he told me to take care of you.."
Hermione stumbled backwards as if the words had hit her hard straight on the nose. He's left me; he left to find that witch... He left me even though he promised me he would stay until our child was born, Hermione thought and had to remind herself to breathe, as her memory took her back to the day Ron died. The day she was left alone. All alone, carrying a baby that she would have to raise without a father...
"Mummy, are you okay?"
"D-did Draco say anything else?"
"No, then he left..."
"He didn't tell you where he was going?"
"Don't worry mum; he said he would come back soon," Becky said and continued to play with her doll.
Something inside of Hermione told her that Draco was still close; maybe he hadn't left yet? She hurried out from Becky's room and down the stairs. She could barely feel her own heart beat and she didn't even notice that she held her breath. She found him and she felt relieved...
He was sitting on the couch staring into the fire he’d lit in the fireplace; she immediately knew that something was wrong. As he heard her walk inside the room, he stood up and began to walk towards her.
"What are you doing up so early?" she asked and prayed for him to wipe that sad look away from his face and then smile.
"Here, I wrote you something…" he replied and handed over a piece of parchment to Hermione. She took it and read the two words that he’d scribbled down at the top of the paper, Dear Hermione… "I had a very hard time finding the words for what I wanted to tell you," he continued and took her hands in his.
Hermione swallowed hard.
"…and I figured it would be easier to say this straight to your face."
"You’re leaving me? Aren’t you?" she asked with a shaky voice.
"You know I have to."
Hermione pushed his hands away from hers and backed away few steps away from him, "Why Draco?"
"You know why…" he replied at the same time that he was trying to get eye contact with her; but she was very good with avoiding his eyes. "I’m a danger to you… to Becky, to everyone around me. You saw me yesterday, who says that I won’t lose my mind completely the next time it happens?"
"But… we can work it out… I know we can," Hermione said and finally looked into his eyes again.
"Hermione, I wanted to hit you!" Draco exclaimed. "I felt the anger burn inside of me and then I had this urge to just slam you against the wall and--"
Draco stopped when in the middle of his sentence as he saw a tear slowly make its way down Hermione’s cheek. She looked terrified; but he did not blame her after what he just said.
"Do you understand now how dangerous I am?"
She shook are head slowly, "We can figure something out, Draco, please… I don’t want to be alone."
"You won’t be alone… You have Harry, Ginny, Luna, Neville, your parents, my mother."
"They’re not you," she sobbed as he took a few steps toward her again. "Y-you promised t-to stay until we had the baby. Y-you promised yesterday."
Draco cupped her face with his hands and dried a couple of tears away from her cheeks.
"Draco, honestly, I can’t do this alone once again! I’ve already raised one kid alone, I can’t do it again."
"You’re saying that like you think I’ll never come back."
She removed his hands from her face, the sadness she felt just seconds ago turned into anger. What was he thinking? How could he be so damn stupid? "Come on! You said yourself that only a few people have survived getting their dark mark removed."
"One person… One person survived," Draco corrected.
"See! Then why the hell do you want to do it? Stay here with me and our family; I mean the pain can’t be that bad and there must be some sort of medicine or pill that can ease the worst pain and--"
"Well, that is absolutely awesome that you’ve made that decision all alone, brilliant, just bloody damn brilliant. I see that you’ve packed a bag as well! Awesome, go ahead, leave!" Hermione exclaimed angrily and brushed his hands away from her face.
"I’m doing this for you!" he shouted at her. When he realized that he’d raised his voice so much he immediately felt regret, "I only want what’s best for you."
"If you want what’s best for me you’ll stay right here… I need you!"
"Hermione, I love you. I love you more than my life but I have to do this, and you know it," he whispered and took her hands in his. "You--"
She cut him off short, "I know... b-but you promised me that you would wait."
"Yes, I promised you that I would stay but... I was-- I mean, I am afraid that if I do stay until we have our son, I think that I won't be able to leave," Draco replied and looked deep into Hermione's hazel eyes. "I've been thinking about this a lot and I know for sure that once I've seen our little boy, I'd never be able to leave him. That’s why I have to do this now... It's now or never Hermione, you have to understand that."
"I understand," Hermione whispered, even though she didn't quite understand why he couldn't keep his promise... Or why he had to leave at all? She was sure that they could work everything out.
"I can see that you're sad--"
"What the hell do you think Draco? You're going to leave me when I need you the most.... I'm going to lose you just like I lost Ron!" Hermione snapped and shook her hands, wanting Draco to let go of her, but he held on.
"I'm not going to die!"
She was crying a lot now, and sobbing loudly, she tried her best to break free from Draco's grip and eventually, as he let her go, she placed both her hands on his chest and pushed him forcefully away from her.
I knew it'd be like this; I should've finished the letter... Damn! Draco thought as he watched Hermione walk away across the room. "Hermione..." he tried, but without reply. I don't want to leave her like this, but I guess I don't have any choice. She won't do anything stupid; she has Becky to think about and she's got her family and friends. They will take good care of her, and by the way, I won't be gone for long... he thought. He was really trying to convince himself that leaving was the only right thing.
As she'd almost reached the door to the kitchen Draco, turned around, picked up his bag and took two steps into the fireplace. He sighed deeply and had a guilty feeling inside for leaving. This is what I have to do, his own voice echoed in his mind, still trying to convince him. He reached out his hand to grab some floo-powder, when he heard footsteps coming towards him. As he looked up, he saw Hermione running across the floor, toward him. She threw her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his. "Don't go."
Draco kissed her again before he said, "I won't be gone for long... and when I come back you and I are going to throw the wedding of the century, and we're going to be the happiest family ever."
"I don't know; but one sweet day when you least expect it, I will be back... and I expect you to already have a wedding dress picked out when I come home."
They kissed again, this time with as much passion as they could really show each other in one kiss. They kissed as if if it were the last time they would ever see each other. And as their breathtaking kiss was over, their faces still lingered close to each other, so close that their lips were almost colliding. Draco stroked one hand over her cheek and whispered, "I love you."
Hermione pulled away and stepped out from the fireplace. Even though she didn't want him to leave, she knew that nothing she said or did would make him change his mind.
He grabbed some floo-powder in his right hand and said, "One sweet day Hermione, one sweet day."
With tears running down her face, Hermione watched her love disappear in green flames. She fell to her knees in front of the fireplace and reached out her hand to touch the ashes. Her heart was aching more than ever before and she found it hard to breathe between the sobs. The ashes was still warm from the fire that had been lit earlier this morning, but Hermione didn't care. She touched it as if it were Draco. She touched it like she wished she would've touched him before he left. Then she dried some tears away from one of her cheeks, which made her face look dirty because of the ashes on her fingers. A bad feeling spread inside of her; a feeling that told her that this wasn't right at all. A feeling that said that she should've done more to stop Draco from leaving.
Hermione spun around quickly and saw her daughter standing in the door, "Becky, how long have you been standing there?"
"He said he'd be back mum... don't be sad..." the little girl said with a scared voice and with a special look in her eyes; a look of sorrow and weakness. She hated to see her mother cry. Yes, she'd seen it so many times before, but every time it was as if a piece of her heart was taken away. Every time, it made little Becky feel extremely powerless, as if she could do nothing to ever make her mother happy again. "This is not like when dad died; this time Draco will come back. He said so..." Becky continued and walked over to her mother who was still sitting on her knees in front of the fireplace.
Seeing the hope in her little girl’s eyes broke her heart into a million pieces. She'd stopped crying by now; she had no more tears left to cry. Becky reached out one of her small hands to dry a remaining tear away from Hermione's cheek. "It'll be okay mum...you have me."
Hermione didn't say anything, she just took Becky in her arms and embraced her. Maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to wait patiently for that sweet day to come. With a little help from Becky, the light of her life, she might be able to pull through.
My heart may be broken, but at least it still beats....
A/N: You guys should know by now how I love my cliffhangers... ;) They're like my babies! Of course I had to end the story with one.
Wow, this feels weird, this is my last Author's Note on my last chapter for One Sweet Day. It's sad, but at the same time I am happy to have written a story as long as this one and been able to finish it.
And I want to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you who've sent me reviews... Good or bad, I respect what you think and both your nice and less nice opinions have made me a stronger and better writer. So thanks to all of you who've reviewed, without you there'd be no 'One Sweet Day'...
Special thanks to Sara (who's the Queen of all Dorks) and her mother Debbie (who's my editor)... =)
To all of you who've been with me and been reading this story since the very beginning (April 2005): I really appreciate all your support and kind words, and you guys have no idea what it means for me that you've been 'with me' for such a long time. If I could send hugs over the internet I'd send you all a bunch of hugs right now.
The sequel - Poisoned is out now ;) So go ahead... read it. What are you waiting for? :P