Chapter 12 : Second Chances
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I could hear movement through the door, and then the progression of footsteps towards us. Within moments, the door had swung open and I was face to face with my dad.
“Hi Daddy,” I said with a smile as he wrapped his arms around me. I took in his warm, homely scent. He looked good; his dark brown hair had a familiar dusting of grey framing his face, and his light brown eyes always had a certain sparkle to them, though I could tell that he was tired. After we parted, he kissed me on the forehead and looked over at Draco.
“You must be Draco,” he said with a warm smile, extending his hand. Draco took it and shook it with confidence. "What was your last name, again? I'm not sure that Hermione mentioned it."
"Malfoy," Draco added, after swallowing.
"Draco Malfoy," my dad responded, pondering. "It sure does sound familiar. Maybe Hermione has mentioned you before!" I smiled uncomfortably.
“Perhaps, Sir. It’s very nice to meet you,” he said, though he smiled crookedly in slight discomfort. I grinned at him, so happy that he was with me.
“Well, why don’t you all get out of the cold and come on in? I was just about to start making dinner,” my dad said, ushering us inside the doors. I grabbed onto my luggage and pulled it through the doorway, placing it beside the staircase leading up to my room. Draco followed me in after and did the same.
“So, Dad, how is Collin?” I asked him eagerly once we made it to the kitchen area.
“He is doing so well, Hermione. Absolutely splendid. You are going to love him. I reckon he is going to start smiling soon,” he said, smiling widely just at the thought of his son. I knew my father always wanted a son, and even though it had been a while since my parents decided to try again, it was worth the wait for all of us.
“I can’t wait to meet him!” I responded happily, in absolute bliss about my current situation with my family and Draco. We sat down at the dining table, which the kitchen overlooked clearly from the stove and facing countertops. My father worked about the kitchen, preparing our meals as he conversed with us.
“So, Draco, what house are you in?” my dad asked, I smiled at his attempt to make conversation about the magic world.
“I’m in Slytherin,” he said very formally to my father.
“I see,” my dad responded, as if he had recalled all of the foul things I had said about Slytherin in the past. Draco’s mouth contorted slightly in hearing his response.
I decided to interject on the moderate awkwardness. “Dad, where’s Mum and Collin?” I asked. I could feel Draco’s eyes on me.
“She went upstairs to feed your brother about ten minutes ago. She should be down any moment now,” he said with a small smile.
Before I could respond, and almost as if on cue, my mother emerged from the doorway and came into the kitchen, “I told you that he was tired, he finally fell asleep-” my mom said to my dad, not noticing that we had arrived. When she turned to see us, a smile immediately spread across her face.
My mother had just had a baby just weeks prior, and I was thrilled to see how wonderful she was looking after her pregnancy. Her stomach and girth was almost completely back to normal, and her eyes were tired and dark, yet she still had that new-mother glow about her.
I stood up immediately upon seeing her, and I could tell that Draco had stood up as well beside me. “Oh, Hermione, my love,” she started, embracing my firmly, “I hadn’t noticed you two had arrived,” she said excitedly. After drawing away from me, she squeezed my arms with her hands in her happiness.
When she turned to Draco, I could see the two of them stiffen just at the sight of one another. Although I was terrified my mom would remember who he was, I was happy to see that Draco had immediately relaxed and stayed calm.
“Draco, it’s a pleasure,” my mother said wearily, extending her hand. She was smiling, but I could tell that she recognized him, yet couldn’t put her finger exactly on when or where she had seen him before.
“Thank you so much for letting me stay with you,” he said, taking her hand and shaking it with a small smile.
“Oh, of course,” she said warmly. She placed her hands on her hips and looked between the two of us, obviously curious about how we came to be. She seemed to silence her interest, which was bound to cause a lot of questions, and instead proposed to give Draco a tour of the house.
She pointed things out in the kitchen, telling him that he was welcome to anything whenever he needed it, though I was sure that Draco did not understand the use of the many Muggle items that were lying around in our house. She brought him to the lounge, where we had comfortable couches and an average television pushed into the corner. Draco continued to behave very well, nodding and smiling at her whenever she directly addressed him. When she had finished with the first floor, she urged us to bring our items upstairs and settle in. I noticed that my mum continued to throw questioning and curious glances at Draco periodically over the next twenty minutes, and I worried that it was making Draco extremely uncomfortable.
When we reached the top floor, my mum began to whisper, “This is mine and my husband’s room,” she said, pointing to the door on her left. “Collin is going to be sleeping in there with us for the next few months. Hermione, he is asleep, but would you like to see him?” she turned to me happily. I nodded with an enormous smile as my mother slowly opened the door of her bedroom to poke her head in. I turned to Draco, who nodded towards the door, wordlessly telling me that he would wait outside.
I followed my mom through the door into the familiar room, which was in shambles; it was scattered with bottles and bibs and a variety of recently opened boxes of baby items. Beside my parent’s bed was a small crib, and from the doorway I could already see the silhouette of a little baby. I walked up to the crib and leaned over the edge of it, looking down at my new baby brother. I took in the small wisps of brown hair that were beginning to frame his face, his small nose and the way his lips pouted as he drew in small breaths.
“Mum, he is beautiful,” I said to her with sincere pride. She looked at me, her eyes sparkling.
“Isn’t he just darling? Sometimes I look at him and I can barely believe that he his here with us,” she said with a smile. We leaned over the crib together, watching him sleep peacefully with smiles plastered across our faces. She patted me on the back, “Let’s get back to Draco, okay?” she said to me, leaning her head towards the door where Draco was patiently waiting for the two of us. I nodded at her and we turned and went through the door. Draco looked up at us and smiled.
“Thanks for waiting Draco. Well, bathroom you two can share is a little bit further down this way,” she said while walking down the hall a little and directing our attention to a white door on her right. “And down here is, of course, Hermione’s bedroom,” she said, opening the door to my room at the end of the hall.
Almost directly across from my room was our guest bedroom, and I assumed that it would be Collin’s room in the future, but I could tell as my mother opened the door that it was still the same as when I had left it in September.
“Draco, this will be your room. Feel free to use the space however you like,” she assured him, commenting on the empty dresser and closet that she urged him to take advantage of. The walls of our guest room were a simple eggshell color, and the bedspread and accents were a navy blue.
“Okay. Thank you again,” he said rolling his luggage into the room and propping it against the opposite wall.
“Great. I am going to go help your father with dinner. You two get settled, and I will call you down when we are ready to eat, all right?”
“Yes, mum. Thanks,” I smiled at her. She kissed me quickly on the forehead, smiled at Draco warmly, and turned to walk down the hall and to the main floor. As soon as she was all the way down the stairs, I turned to Draco and measured the look on his face, leaning against the doorway of the guest bedroom.
He exhaled deeply relieved that the first introductions were over. “Your parents are nice,” he said to me. I simply grinned at his relief, yet I could somehow tell that he was still a little nervous. Before I could suggest anything, he asked me if he could see my room.
“Sure,” I said quietly, and then I turned and opened the door more fully so we could both enter. My parents had let me redecorate it to my liking the previous summer. I decided to paint the walls a dark lilac color. The bedspread was white and grey, and the furniture had been stained chocolate brown. In the evenings I always enjoyed dimming the lights and curling up on my bed with a spell book.
Draco walked along the perimeter of my room as I watched him from the doorway with my arms folded across my chest. He started at my bedside table, running his fingers along a picture of Harry, Ron and I laughing outside the Great Hall. He touched the carved edge of my desk, observing all of the extra books and parchment I had accumulated over the years from trips to Flourish and Blotts. Placed on top of it was another picture of Harry, Ron and I. The three of us had been placed in several areas of my room at a variety of ages since first starting Hogwarts. As Draco moved on to my massive bookshelf, which took up nearly half of the wall adjacent to my bed, my eyes fell upon a picture that I prayed he wouldn’t see.
Draco looked slightly shocked as his eyes fell on the hundred or so books that were stuffed within the old bookshelf. I had both Muggle and magic books there, so it was quite an interesting sight to be seen.
“You truly are the biggest bookworm I have ever met in my life,” he said in awe. I laughed, but it was a nervous laugh as I could see Draco move closer to the picture.
Tucked at the edge of a shelf a little higher than eye level was a photograph of Ron and I. It was taken just before the previous summer had begun, when our relationship was at its peak. Colin Creevey, who was still camera obsessed, had snapped the candid of the two of us mere hours before we parted for the summer. I thought about that moment he had preserved of the two of us. We were happy; Ron had his hands on my face, and my arms were wrapped around his back, holding him tightly to me. I couldn’t remember what he had been saying, but I knew that whatever it was, it was funny. We were laughing hysterically together. After so much sadness that year, it had felt so good to laugh. I watched the picture as Ron leaned forward to kiss me.
When Draco saw it, he froze. Even though he had is back to me, I could picture what his face looked like. He picked it up and held it in his hands, watching intently as the scene replayed in front of him. Slowly, he turned to me.
Before he spoke, we made eye contact, and I was not surprised to see that his eyes were wide and that his lips were pressed into a tight line. “Could we ever be this happy?” he asked me bitterly, holding the picture up so I could see Ron kissing me again. I could tell why Draco felt that way; I was radiating with happiness.
I cocked my head to the side and looked at him. “I don’t know Draco, you tell me,” I said, taking a step towards him and sliding my hands into my back pockets. I walked slowly around my bed so I could be closer to him.
“I don’t think I can make you happy,” he admitted sadly as I frowned at him. “Not like this,” he said, pointing at my face as if I needed proof.
“Don’t talk like that,” I responded to him seriously, trying to keep my gaze away from the picture.
“Talk like what?” he said sourly.
“Talk like we shouldn’t be together,” I said, taking a step closer to him, “besides, that picture is irrelevant. Ron and I aren’t even together anymore,” I was trying to deter him from the obvious, but he wasn’t buying it.
“What’s your point?” he asked me with sorrow.
“What’s your point?” I fired back at him. “If you are going to keep dwelling on stuff like this, what do you expect, Draco? How could you expect us to ever be happy? Honestly…” I said in a frustrated tone while taking the picture out of his hand. He didn’t say a word as I opened up the table beside my bed and placed it inside before sliding the drawer shut again. After thinking for a few moments, he looked at me and then softened.
“You’re right,” he returned apologetically. “I’m sorry."
“You better be,” I said, smiling at him despite myself. He moved closer to me, and my heart began to race.
“Come here,” he whispered, bringing his lips to mine and kissing me softly. I ran my fingers through his hair and held his face close to mine as we embraced. I pushed against him until he fell back on the bed, and I was lying on top of him, straddling him at the hips while he smiled up at me.
“Now,” I started at him, pulling my lips away from his and holding his face in my hands, “you have to promise me that you won’t do stuff like that anymore, okay?” I asked him, my lips only centimeters from his. My hair fell down around my face like a cocoon, so all I could see was his face and mine. He slid his hands up my back and nodded at me, expectantly waiting for my next kiss. I drank in the closeness of his face and the smooth texture of his skin beneath my fingers. He slid his hands to my cheeks and starting at my cupids bow, traced a line slowly down the center of my lips. I couldn’t help but smile.
“I promise,” he whispered, and pulled me down towards him to kiss me.
“Hermione! Draco! Dinner’s ready!” My head snapped up before he had the chance to press his lips to mine again, much to his obvious dismay as I leaped off of him out of fear that my mother would walk in at any moment. After realizing my slight overreaction, I smiled at him as he slowly got off of the bed. He exhaled deeply and ran his fingers through his hair in his own form of relaxation that he performed whenever he was stressed out. I quickly patted the heavy comforter of the bed in order to remove any evidence of our short tryst.
“Let’s go,” I said breathlessly, extending my hand to him. He took it and walked down the hall with me until we reached the bottom of the stairs. We parted slightly upon entering the dining room and sat next to each other. My parents took seats opposite of us and smiled.
“I hope you are all settled in up there,” my father said as he set plates in front of us. He had prepared a meal of roast chicken, potatoes and carrots for us. I looked up at him gratefully, absolutely famished after the trip from Hogsmeade.
“Thank you, Mr. Granger. This looks delicious,” Draco said, picking up his fork and popping a small potato chunk into his mouth.
“So, Draco, how long have you known our Hermione here?” my father said after chewing a piece of chicken.
“Well, we have known each other for years, sir, but we haven’t really been friends until this year,” he said calmly. I chewed the chicken vigorously in my mouth, hoping that it would keep my parents from getting me involved in the interview that was unfolding in front of us.
“How long have you two been together?” my father asked curiously amidst chewing. The fact that we didn’t have a good reason for being together made it almost impossible not to squirm where I sat while we were interrogated.
“Well…” I started, turning to Draco, not really sure when we official considered ourselves together, “I would say we have been together for a few months now.” Draco took a long drink of water beside me. My mother seemed to be studying Draco again in her own subtle manner that only I could truly notice.
“Really? And you two just hit it off after all that time? How interesting,” my mom said with a smile, though it was a reserved smile.
“Yes, Mrs. Granger, if you could put it that way,” he said. “We saw each other all the time. You know, in classes, at meals, and even on the train,” he turned to me and smiled, though his eyes were screaming for help. I swallowed hard and opened my mouth to add something, but my mother beat me to it, her eyes narrowing and then going wide.
“The train…” she trailed off and then looked at me harshly while placing her utensils down slowly onto the table. Around me, the clatter of forks and knives came to a halt as everyone froze in place to watch my mother. When I realized that she had figured it out, I could barely breathe. She looked back and forth between us for a few moments, as if confirming her realization before talking to me again. “Hermione, can I have a word with you, please?” she said, getting out of her chair and slinging her napkin onto the table. My father eyed me suspiciously, but I played it off as if I didn’t know what was happening.
I found my mother in the hall with her hands across her chest, tapping her foot anxiously as I approached.
“Hermione, is that who I think it is?” she asked, taking a step closer to me.
I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off again in her fury.
“Is that the boy from the train station? The boy who was rude, foul, cruel…” she trailed off, unable to believe what she was seeing.
“You don’t…” I started, trying to explain, although I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about doing it.
“Tell me the truth, Hermione. Is that him?” she said, and then she was silent, waiting for me to respond. I looked at her completely helplessly, and she already knew the answer.
“Yes,” I said, ducking my head and crossing my arms.
She stared at me in shock, but then she found her voice again. “Unbelievable. Absolutely bloody unbelievable!” she said, still trying to whisper although she was reaching new levels of hysteria. “I remember all of those horrible stories you have told me about him over the years, and then I got to witness just how terrible he really was with my own eyes. And now you are dating him as if none of it ever happened?”
We stared at each other as she huffed in anger, and I was at a complete loss for words. I didn’t know how to approach the situation or make her understand. “Mum, I need you to trust me…” I started helplessly.
“Trust you?” she asked with wide eyes.
“Yes,” I said, giving her a pleading look, “you have to.”
“Hermione, what could possibly make me think highly of him after all he has done to you?” she asked me, narrowing her eyes.
I opened my mouth to speak, but shut it again quickly. When I knew what I was going to say back, I couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across my face. “Because I love him,” I responded to her while grinning sincerely.
Her eyes widened when she saw the look on my face; she looked absolutely dumbstruck before being able to speak again. “Hermione, I don’t understand,” she said after swallowing hard.
“Mum, I have trouble understanding, too. But we belong together, and that is enough to keep us close. Please give him a chance,” I tried to explain gently to her, though I wasn’t sure if I was making any sense. The entire time, I was smiling to myself as I realized the importance of what I had just said to her. Draco and I belonged together and we loved each other. That had to be enough, right?
She stared at me for a few moments, as if I was going to burst out laughing and admit that it was all a joke. When I did no such thing, she sighed deeply and said, “Okay, Hermione. I believe you. I’ll give him a chance.”
I whispered my gratitude and thanks to her as we turned back towards the dining room table, where I could hear Draco and my father talking and laughing casually about random topics that I was unaware of. As my mother and I emerged from the hall, Draco looked up in fear and worry, but when he saw the smile on my face, I could tell that he relaxed almost instantly. As I sat down beside him and looked around, I could only think about two things: the first was how happy I was that the four of us could sit and talk over our first meal together, even after my mothers doubts, and the second was that I couldn’t seem to wipe off of my face just how madly in love I was with the boy sitting beside me.
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