Chapter 3 : Epiphany
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Author's Note: Thank you again for all the reviews. I think a few of you might like this chapter, especially since it's about our favourite blonde Slytherin :)
Again, if you find any mistakes please tell me so I can edit them out. I'm only human so I do tend to miss things.
.: Chapter Three – Epiphany :.
Friday, April 26, 2002
It wasn’t that he was completely unhappy with his life; he just wasn’t very satisfied with where it was going. As a child he’d dreamt of perhaps playing professional Quidditch for a living, but that in itself was an unattainable and foolhardy dream. It was naïve of him to think that he had any say in his life, especially when it had been planned out so meticulously for him. His father had entered the family business as had his before him, so it was only customary that he do the same. He’d never really had a chance, not when family tradition stood in the way. His career had been chosen for him as had many other aspects of his life, but there was no use in complaining now. His life was the way that it was and he’d known what to expect even as a boy. It was no secret that his father had controlled nearly every aspect of his life like a puppeteer would his puppet. But Draco could hardly hate him for it, especially after everything the man had sacrificed. He may not have hated his father but that didn’t mean he wasn’t above resenting some of the man’s more questionable decisions.
The war had taken its toll on his family in more ways than one. It would be easy to rest all the blame on his father’s shoulders considering the situations he’d gotten them into. But then that wouldn’t be entirely fair. He may have been forced to grow up before his time, but that didn’t mean Draco was past holding grudges. It hadn’t been his father who’d started this madness but his grandfather, Abraxas Malfoy. Lucius had been raised with what Draco could only describe as a psychopathic lunatic. From what his mother had told him, his grandfather had had a tendency towards violence. The man had apparently been a sadistic bastard. It was easy to understand why his father was the way he was if even half of what his mother said was true. In many ways he blamed his grandfather for their predicament. It had after all been he who’d been seduced into the dark twisted world of the dark arts, not his father. Lucius had been born into that world and he was sure that if it hadn’t of been for his mother’s calming influence, he too would have been swayed far more easily then he had.
Regardless of whether his father was to blame or not, Draco did have at least one thing he could truly hate the man for, his mother included. Daphne Greengrass was, in his opinion, the epitome of evil. If it came dressed in heels with overpriced accessories that could make even Patricia Parkinson cringe, then it was in some way connected to his wife. After the war his parents had thought it prudent he marry, giving him three years of freedom before being chained into what he could only describe as a demonic prison born from hell itself. By no means was his wife unattractive, she was just a harpy disguised as something elegant and poised.
His parents had given him a choice between Pansy Parkinson and Astoria, or Daphne Greengrass. He would have chosen Astoria had it not been for a chance meeting with a business investor whose brother happened to be madly in love with her. It wasn’t so much the man’s love for her, but the fact she in turn loved him which solidified his decision. He wouldn’t force her into a marriage when she was in love with another man. It would have been too cruel even for him. So he’d chosen Daphne instead, and quite frankly he’d thought he’d chosen the lesser of two evils, but now he wasn’t so sure. Pansy and Daphne were best friends, something which was an evil in itself, and he could never be sure what was going on in those twisted minds. Be it their latest catty scheme or something more sinister, he didn’t know and he wasn’t sure he wanted to either.
They’d been married for two years now and he could honestly say that it had been the worst two years of his life. His mother’s interest in the girl had waned considerably and his father seemed to hate her just as much as he did. But it was the lesser of two evils considering he’d probably of done himself in by now if he’d been forced to marry Parkinson instead. Daphne was a means to an end, or at least that’s what his father called it. As long as they produced a healthy pureblood heir, it didn’t matter whether he liked her or not, the continuance of the family bloodline was all that mattered.
It was becoming increasingly harder for pureblood families to reproduce an heir, which was why the need for hast was in the foremost of his parents' minds. The number of miscarriages in pureblood women had increased tenfold and his mother was more than concerned as she herself had endured three before giving birth to him. The birth rate of squibs had also increased, and though he would never openly say anything, he thought it might have something to do with the families’ intermarriages.
In the two years of their marriage they had been trying to conceive, Daphne had even gone to the extremes of taking a fertility potion. But it hadn’t done any good because no matter what they did, she simply wouldn’t fall pregnant. His father had reasoned that the sooner he got her pregnant the sooner he could focus on more important things like the family business, but he’d had no such luck. Daphne had insisted that it must have been his fault, so they went to a healer but she’d given them the all clear. Apparently there wasn’t any given reason why Daphne shouldn’t have fallen pregnant, especially if she’d been taking the fertility potions. Draco was at his wits end. His mother and father were adamant that he have a child within the next year or so, and Daphne was beginning to become more demanding of what she wanted each day. He didn’t know what to do.
With a scowl, he shrugged off his coat, chucking it at the tiny creature to his left. It was beyond him why his mother still chose to employ house elves for the upkeep of the manor, because employ was exactly what she had to do. It all came down to Hermione bloody Granger – well, it was Weasley now, wasn’t it? Ever since she’d been accepted into that new Department of Regulations at the ministry, the amount of laws that had been passed in the past few years were unimaginable. He didn’t hate her, just resented her for it. Of course she’d make something of her life, do something she actually wanted to do. She even had a kid to that idiot husband of hers, and yet here he was, unable to even conceive a child with his wife for no apparent reason. Life just had to be mocking him.
Draco sighed, rubbing his temples in an attempt to ease the headache that had been building all afternoon. “Mother!” he called out, standing in the middle of the entrance hall, tapping his foot impatiently against the marbled floor.
When he got no reply, Draco opened his mouth to yell out once more, but stopped when he felt a tug on his arm. He looked down at the little house elf, an unamused expression on his face as he waited for it to speak.
“Mipsy is sorrys young master, but the master and mistress is being in the studys and Mipsy is instructed to takes you there,” the tiny creature bumbled, its large brown eyes staring up at him feebly.
He felt a touch of disdain upon looking at the pathetic little creature but was careful not to let it show. Merlin knows why, but he actually felt sorry for the thing. It was true that Granger’s law had some fine points, yet he couldn’t help but think she hadn’t really accomplished that much by passing it. Sure the elves were treated better, paid a reasonable wage and given a uniform or a suitable set of clothing to wear. But they were still treated like shit, even if it was only verbally. He couldn’t remember this house elf in particular, she looked fairly young which meant she had to have been new. It was a pity she had to serve under his father. Though he’d never admit it, he was at least trying to see it from Granger’s point of view. The bint may have been insufferable but he’d at least come to respect her a bit over the past few years. After all, one didn’t become England’s finest female lawyer without working her arse off. He hadn’t even talked to her in five years, but for some reason he felt compelled to follow where she took her life. He liked reading about what she’d done – maybe it was because his life seemed so crappy in comparison. Draco didn’t really know and nor did he care to find out why.
“Well come on then,” he snapped at the little creature, stalking up the stairs in his impatience.
He wasn’t particularly looking forward to this, especially when he had to tell them that Daphne was yet again, not pregnant. His father would give him the whole family bloodline speech and his mother, Merlin forbid she try and tell him how to conceive a child again, especially when she went into such specifics. It was times like these that he really hated having a family library. His mother had probably read every single bloody book on child conception there was known to man. If only he could hole himself up somewhere far away from his parents, demonic wife and the whole world, he would be a happy man…or at least one that didn’t have to deal with any of this.
Upon reaching the study door, sounds of muffled voices seeping through the wood, he didn’t bother knocking and just walked inside. Draco barely spared his parents a look before making his way over to his father’s alcohol cabinet, pouring himself a generous glass of brandy. It registered in his mind that neither his mother nor father were talking, and while he had his back to them that was perfectly fine. If he could prolong the inevitable even if it was only for a minute, then he would.
“She’s not pregnant, is she?” his mother’s voice snapped, cutting through the silent room. He couldn’t help but wince; so much for delaying the inevitable.
Draco sighed, turning around to look at the sour expression on his mother’s face. “No, mother, she’s not,” it was hard to keep the irritation from his voice, but he schooled his emotions well.
Her nostrils flared. “Draco, how many times do I have to tell you the importance of conceiv –” her voice was shrill causing both he and his father to wince.
“Well it’s not my fucking fault!” he yelled, effectively cutting her off. He was really starting to get tired of having this conversation, especially when he was doing everything he bloody well could to please them.
“Language, Draco,” his father chided nonchalantly, leaning back in the leather chair behind his desk as if there was nothing wrong.
He couldn’t help but snort derisively at his father’s comment; the man was a bloody hypocrite. “Yes, father,” Draco replied sarcastically, downing the amber liquid in one go, wincing as it burned its way down his throat.
“There is no need for sarcasm,” his mother snapped haughtily, standing up from her seat opposite his father to walk toward him. “I understand your frustration, darling, but you have to at least try to understand ours,” she said more calmly, her light grey eyes softening at the expression on his face.
“I do understand, mother. There just isn’t anything I can do about it. We’ve gotten the opinions of five different healers and each say the same thing; there is no reason why Daphne isn’t pregnant. It’s not my fault and it’s not hers. Sure she may be a demonic bitch but she’s trying just as hard as I am, for her own reasons of course. We’ve even gone to the extremes of her taking a fertility potion for the past six months. We don’t know what to do next and we certainly don’t have any idea what the problem is,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair in frustration.
It was bad enough that he had to deal with the she-devil when he got home, but now he’d have his parents on his back as well. He’d never actually told them in great detail why Daphne wasn’t pregnant because it would have caused a large amount of unnecessary questions and worry. His mother would be mortified, thinking immediately that he was sterile and he really didn’t want to have the conversation about how his ‘parts’ were working perfectly fine. There was also the humiliation and shame of not being able to get ones wife pregnant. He didn’t know how his father would react, but he supposed he would find out soon enough.
“They really said that there was no reason why?” she asked, features scrunched up in confusion and contemplation.
He swallowed hard, grabbing the bottle of brandy to pour himself another glass. “Yeah, that’s pretty much what they said,” if only he could get completely sloshed and forget about the witch he had to return home to, maybe then he’d be able to escape.
“I don’t understand it, if there’s no reason why Daphne isn’t pregnant then how co –”
“There may be a reason,” his father cut in sombrely, eyes lowered to inspect his own glass of brandy. “But it is not one that will serve us well,”
Draco frowned in confusion. If what his father said was true and there actually was a reason why he and Daphne couldn’t conceive, then he was sure that it wouldn’t be good. Over the years he had come to expect the worst when it came to his family, not necessarily his mother and father, but his ancestors. His grandfather had been a right bastard and even though he’d never actually met him, Draco knew that the man had been deranged. If his grandfather was anything like his aunt Bellatrix, then what had his father been like and so on. It was his ancestors that worried him and what exactly it was they might have done to put him in this situation.
“Lucius?” his mother stared imploringly at his father, her eyes wide in what he assumed was fear. It was interesting that his mother seemed to have come to the same conclusion he had, but the question remained to be answered. What did they do?
“The reason, as I said before, is not one that will serve us well and I believ –”
“Honestly father, can you cut it with all the bullshit and actually tell us what this elusive reason may be?” he snapped in irritation, glancing at his mother to see her nodding her head in approval. His father barely showed any emotion at his outburst, the slight twitch of his left hand being the only indication that he was in anyway affected.
“Since you asked so eloquently,” the older man snapped in annoyance, taking a sip of his brandy before clearing his throat. “You understand that there are certain enchantments on this family, either caused by or cast by our ancestors?” he asked slowly, choosing his words with deliberate care.
“Of course,” he answered nonplussed. “Our hair is the product of great-grandfather Synan pissing off the wrong witch,”
“Such an articulate son I have,” his father mused sarcastically, the scowl on his face showing that he was far from amused. “But what you have said is true, and the same can be said for other aspects of our life,”
“Other aspects?” Draco heard his mother ask and he had to suppress the urge to look over his shoulder to see the expression she wore.
Lucius gulped. “Well, there are certain precautions taken against the men in this family,”
“Precautions?” he wasn’t sure he liked where this was going.
His father nodded. “Yes Draco, precautions,” the man looked like he was going to be physically sick. “You see, a long time ago one of our ancestors was unfortunate enough to have an affair and actually get caught. The reason he was caught was not so much his wife finding out, but the other woman’s family realising that she was with child. Of course the question rose as to who the father was, and since she wasn’t married or betrothed at the time, it became quite the scandal. When Marcellus realised that he had been named as the father by his mistress, the Malfoy name was at stake and his wife as you can imagine, was far from happy. The child in question was adopted by Marcellus and his wife, with the mother, shall we say, conveniently disappearing. Lucretia, Marcellus’ wife, couldn’t have any children, so the child was happily accepted into the family. But Lucretia saw the need to further ensure that future generations wouldn’t be posed with the same situation she was, and cast a charm on the men of the family. This spell ensured that if the Malfoy men were to stray, no child would be born from their adultery,”
“What exactly are you trying to say father?” he asked slowly, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Lucius sighed. “What I’m trying to say is that there is a very large chance that the reason you cannot conceive a child with your wife is because – is because you already have a child out there with another woman,” his father finished in a rush, the air expelling from his lungs as he let out a deep breath.
He stood there speechless, unable to mask the utter surprise on his face at his father’s words. It was lucky that his mother didn’t find herself as voiceless as he, or else he wouldn’t have broken from the strange trance he found himself in.
“If what you are saying is true, Lucius,” the woman hissed angrily. “Then there is in fact no reason as to why the Greengrass girl isn’t pregnant. What I’ve gathered from that little story of yours, is that there is no possible way for any woman to conceive a child with a Malfoy besides his wife, if he is in fact married at the time,”
“Precisely, Cissa! That is the point I’m trying to make, there are always loopholes. While it is true that the spell ensures a Malfoy cannot conceive a child with any woman other than his wife once they marry, it does not prevent him from doing so before he is married,” Lucius spat angrily, massaging his temples in frustration. “What I am trying to say is not something that is easily explained. There is a large possibility that the reason our son and his wife are unable to conceive a child is because the spell has already been activated,” Draco could see his father was struggling to put his thoughts into words, an action that never alluded to anything good.
He frowned. “I don’t understand,” what his father was saying wasn’t that hard to grasp. But the full meaning of his words was, to put it quite plainly, impossible to comprehend.
“The spell only recognises the mother of the child, not when it was conceived or under what circumstances,” Lucius sighed, a headache evident from his pained expression. “Once a child is born, you could say that the spell kind of latches onto the woman who gave birth, recognising her and only her as the mother of the Malfoy heir’s children,” he paused, cocking his head to the side, eyes trained on his wife as she gasped, finally comprehending the full enormity of his words. “What I’m trying to say, Draco, is that the reason you and your wife are unable to conceive a child is because maybe, and just maybe, you have already conceived a child with another woman and the spell recognises her as the mother of your children and not Daphne,”
There was no way – he couldn’t have – no, it was impossible. He would know if he had a child, wouldn’t he? Draco wasn’t stupid, the first time his father hinted at such a thing he’d understood. But to comprehend it in its entirety was something else entirely. There was no way he had a child out there somewhere, he would have known. Its mother would have told him, wouldn’t she? The doubt was there, embedded deep inside his bones, but he wouldn’t believe it…he couldn’t.
“I would know if I had a child, father,” he snapped indignantly, but it was evident to all in the room that there was an uncertainty in his eyes.
His father raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes,” there was doubt in his voice. “All the women I’ve been with have been in our social circle and none of them have children,”
“Was there a-anyone else?” the expression on his mother’s face made him wince. She was mortified, aghast at the mere idea. But the thing that really cut him was the disbelieving disappointment in her voice.
“Of course no…” but there was – just one.
It was impossible of course, there was no way she would have had his child. It had been a single moment stolen over five years ago and neither had spoken about it, or to each other since. She’d landed almost directly in the enemy camp and while he may have hated her, he wasn’t about to let her die. They were enemies, but even so, he wasn’t going to standby and do nothing. He may have fought on the opposite side, but it wasn’t by choice and for some reason she seemed to understand that. His conscience had led him to save her, to drag her inside that damp cave, hand clamped over her mouth so she couldn’t scream. It was true, she had been the one to make the first move but he held no delusions about it being out of affection. They were both scared shitless, that much was obvious and for just a moment, they weren’t enemies, just two people trying to grasp at the hope of there being something more to the world then death and destruction.
There was no way it was she his father alluded to, the idea alone was preposterous. She was married to Weasley with a kid; it was ridiculous to think that it was her. But was it really that laughable? Her child, a daughter, was about four years-old, almost five. Almost five.
“No,” his voice was barely audible. “No,” he said slightly louder, eyes wide in horror.
It was impossible – she wouldn’t have – there was no possible way – the child wasn’t his, it just couldn’t be. He tried to remember what she looked like, surely she’d have red hair and then all this would just go away. She was Weasley’s kid, she had to be. There was no way Granger would lie like that, she was too much the Gryffindor. He’d seen them together one time, a couple of months ago actually. They’d been at the park and Granger was pushing the little girl on the swing and her blonde curls were whipping around her face. Blonde curls. No, it wasn’t possible. Blonde not red. Maybe someone in Granger’s family had blonde hair. That could explain it, couldn’t it?
“Draco?” he heard his mother’s voice but barely registered anything above the pounding of his heart.
He didn’t want to believe it but the evidence was all there. The child was around the right age, she had blonde hair instead of the Weasley red and Granger had nearly had a fit when she saw him that day. Why would she react like that unless she had something to hide? The child was his. He didn’t want to admit it, but she was. Sweet Merlin! He had a daughter!
“Draco, son, what is it?” he winced, swallowing the bile that had risen in his throat. His father was going to kill him.
“I...” Draco swallowed hard, blinking rapidly to try and clear the fog that had wrapped around his brain. He had a kid...with Granger. “I need a drink,”
“Was there anyone else?” his mother asked timidly, her eyes fearful of his answer.
He couldn’t get out of this, not when his reaction had spoken volumes on its own. “Yeah,” his voice was raspy, pained to match the expression on his face.
Draco heard his father sigh in resignation, his mother gasp in horror. They were definitely going to kill him when they realised who the ‘someone else’ was.
“Who?” and there was the question he had been dreading. Why did his mother have to be so god damn to the point?!
He swallowed hard; to lie would get him nowhere. His father would kill him, disown him maybe and his mother, Merlin forbid she react as badly as his father. It was better to get this over and done with. There was no point in delaying the inevitable, unless of course the inevitable was him being beaten to death by his father’s cane. That he could delay. But maybe to die wouldn’t be so bad; he wouldn’t have to face the she-devil’s wrath if he did. His wife really was vindictive, she was likely to castrate him in the most painful way possible, not that the mere idea wasn’t painful. She would go after Granger, or worse, his daughter. The word sounded strange, even in his head. He hoped to Merlin this wouldn’t start another war.
Wincing, he prepared himself for the inevitable. “Hermione Granger,” he said quietly, voice shaky as he avoided looking at either of his parents.
The silence was deafening.
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