A/N: This chapter was revamped. I would also like to thank my beta for doing the job of editing my chapters. She also beta-ed my first to third chapters. Thanks Miles @HPFF forums----
He was late. Damn that intimidating witch and their brat for pulling an all-nighter on him. Hair disheveled, circles under his eyes, Draco Malfoy ran along the halls of Hogwarts towards the FLCD classroom. The younger students were looking at him with a mixture of confusion and fear given the wizard was muttering a few choice curse words with the name Hermione Granger mixed in as he moved along. The first years weren’t sure if they should be walking with him or stopping in the hallway as he passed by. Draco Malfoy was literally steaming mad.
How dare she! That bloody heavy sleeper of a woman had the decency to shake me awake when the tot had her huge lungs working! ME! DRACO –bloody- MALFOY! And then to wake me up five minutes before class how dare she! She’ll see what she’s---
His thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and a petite woman greeted him warmly. He hadn’t expected the room to be quite, should he say,homey. It was nothing like theirother classrooms. It looked more like a nursery to Draco except that their children were with Madame Pomphrey having their first medical check ups. There was not a blackboard in sight,the people inside were sitting on large colored cushions. The walls were not the brownish hue that most of the castle rooms had, instead painted with a beige background and a mural of fairies, dragons and magical creatures that the children would love. There was a play pen in the corner with numerous toys and the floor was a type ofrubber matting.
“Mr. Malfoy, come in, come in. We’re just having our introductions.” Professor Merrywood said warmly, like the hostess she was and guided him to the brown haired witch he was partnered with. “Sorry Professor for being late, I had a late night with Cassie,” He said apologetically to the older witch which made Hermione look at him. “Oh don’t worry, my dear. You’re not late, the lesson has not yet started.” The older lady smiled at him, which made Draco look confused. “Now, who’s turn is it again?” She turned back to the group.
“Mine.” Hermione said returning her gaze to the group. “I’m Hermione Granger, muggle-born witch; I like Transfiguration and Potions best. My parents are dentists and I’m an only child.” She continued. “Miss Granger, can I call you Hermione?” When the younger witch nodded, the Professor continued. “Hermione, what are your hobbies? And what do you do during your free time?”
The brunette answered and the flow of conversation started. Though their roommates were close with her, there were still a lot of things they didn’t know. It was a bother first to Draco when he saw Blaise actually having a conversation with the brunette witch about telephones.
It wasn’t long before a nudge brought him back to his senses. Hermione was raising her eyebrow at him and he saw Professor Merrywood smiling at him, again. “So introduce yourself, young man.” He nodded slightly and forced his voice out of his throat.
“I’m Draco. Draco Malfoy.” He winced slightly when an image of a younger him in the same position years before came to mind.
“Well, Draco, what are your views about the foundations of a family?” Professor Merrywood asked, deliberately changing the topic that Draco hadn’t heard. He furrowed his brows a little and looked at Blaise who shrugged.
All of the people on the table were looking at him expectantly- okay not all, majority that didn’t include Granger and Weasley. He looked at the professor again before he started digging his brains for views. Foundations of a family. Hmm, is this woman trying to trickme or something? By the look on her face, she’s not. Oh well…
“Well professor, I think financial, emotional, and physical stability is important in a family. Pureblood marriages are arranged according to the financial status of both families and the advantages of the marriage to them.” He said giving emphasis to pureblood marriages. It was quite honest to his knowledge since he had been about to be betrothed to some pureblood princess before the war.
“Yes, that’s quite true, Draco.” She nodded then looked at the students around. “Well, in this lesson, we’ll learn about understanding, and trust. It is true that a family should be financially stable, emotionally too. However, that stability cannot be achieved by simple physical methods. It is rooted more deeply, thus the reason why understanding, and trust are important.”
“Professor, are you trying to say that we need to develop our trust in our partners before we handle our baby?” Her voice was full of curiosity and confusion, a healthy mix of both was enough for Draco to picture her face that was normally thirsty for knowledge.
“Yes, that is quite right, Hermione. I expect that through this task I am giving to you, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of both partner'sbehaviors. We cannot risk the lives of your babies now, can we?” The petite woman said raising her eyebrows at the confused students, the exceptions being Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley.
“Now pick a corner for your pair and I am giving you half an hour to talk to each other, get to know each other as I know most of you don’t have good history together. Then afterwards, we’ll have a little game, finally, for the last minutes of our class, we’ll do something about your trust.” Amelia Merrywood beamed at the class comprising of four Gryffindors, two Ravenclaws and two Slytherins. The students grumbled but moved from their cushions, gathering their seats and turning towards the corners of the room, leaving Draco and Hermione where they were.
The two remained seated with their tea half-full and cookies barely eaten. They had different facial expressions, both on the extreme ends of emotion. Hermione was glaring at another student on the other side of the room. It was clear that whoever that student was, he or she was returning the glare. All the while, Draco kept an emotionless demeanor that he normally used in Hogwarts.
The round table the three- Hermione, Draco and Amelia- were at was large enough to hold conversations without eavesdropping tendencies as the pair were at the other side of the table, when they spoke in hushed tones. Professor Merrywood grabbed her wand silently and discreetly from her pocket and pointed it at them under the table. She whispered a silent charm that would let her hear their conversation from afar. It used the same principle with the Weasley Twins’ Extendable Ears. You see, she disagreed immensely on Filch’s views about the Weasley inventions for she found it quite useful.
She tuned in to the starting conversation with her two students. She had heard from the headmistress that they had a really, really, really bad history and among the histories of history, theirs was the worst of them all. It’ll be the perfect test of her activity if they actually held a civil conversation for half an hour.
“So…” Hermione started, Draco frowned. “Is that the only thing you can say, Granger? So? And here I heard you’re supposedly the brightest witch?” He clicked his tongue and shook his head.
“Shut it, you ferret.” She turned her glare to him from Ron Weasley who had been equally fuming a few minutes ago before Padma Patil had snapped at him. Amelia glanced briefly at them because she was curious, you see.
“Really ferret? Really? Can’t you come up with new insults?” His frown deepened.
“I said shut it, Malfoy. Can’t you just zip your fat mouth even for a second?”
“We’re supposed to be talking so why should I shut my mouth? And for your information, its not fat, thank you very much. It is quite proportional to my face.”
“Oh really? It looked quite swollen to me! Had a long and hot snogging session with your sluts? Is that why you were late for first day of classes? Or didsomebody actually have the brain to slap it time and time again every time you swore?”
“How dare---! For your information, Granger, I do not snog sluts. And no one in their right mind would slap me, especially on my lips. I’m late because of you actually. Can't you remember that your child was wailing at the top of her lungs last night and I had to rock her to sleep when you bloody slept like a baby?”
“It’s your problem, not mine.” She shrugged.
An awkward silence passed between them, both faced not necessary opposite directions and fumed. Amelia watched them from the other side of the table, silently sipping her tea and biting into her cookie. A few minutes later, Hermione recovered and grabbed a cookie from the table. It seemed that after she swallowed the pastry, she realized that they were not moving towards the goal. Draco, however, seemed to recover soon as well.
“Look, Granger.” Both started, looking at each other (actually glaring) before Hermione sighed.
“Malfoy, I’m tired of this arguing on our part and if we continue this I have a huge suspicion that it will affect our grades.”
“Trust Granger to think of her grades as the top priority.”
“Shut it Malfoy.”
“Fine. I’m tired too. So what should we do then?”
“How about we start from the beginning?” She suggested, sipping her tea and biting into another cookie.
“Fine then. I’m Draco, Draco Malfoy.”
“Hello, Draco. I’m Hermione, Hermione Granger.”
The two shook hands and Amelia’s lips twitched to the side upwards but were hidden from their view because of the cup of tea on her lips.
Half an hour later, Hermione and Draco were laughing like old friends and the whole room fell silent, watching the pair with raised eyebrows (except for Ron who was still glaring, apparently he wasn’t tired of it yet. And Amelia’s smiling eyes)
“What’s so funny, Hermione?” Harry interrupted the couple from his seat near the playpen. Hermione controlled herself and held her laughter before turning to Harry.
“Nothing, Harry, nothing. Draco just commented about something and it’s quite funny.” Harry shrugged but still looked at them with confusion until Ginny caught his attention again.
Hermione laughed her heart out when Draco mimicked Umbridge when the woman- more like toad- was chased by the dragon fireworks of the Weasley twins. He had an exact, or exaggeratedly frightened face, Hermione couldn't figure out which one was truly true, and his comment about her shriek being more like a frog's croak simply topped it off.
She couldn’t help but wonder how in the world they had come to this. One moment they were fighting like there’s no tomorrow, then the next they were laughing as if it was the last moment of their lives. They hadn’t had a heart-to-heart conversation but she now knew more about Draco Malfoy than she had half-an hour ago.
She now knew that his favorite colors were not exactly green and silver but black and blue, that he would love to be a professional Quidditch player rather than managing the tangled web of the Malfoy accounts, that he loved potions, but not for the reason she thought - which was Snape- instead because he found relaxation within the precise art of making them.
Hermione was interrupted by the small woman’s motherly voice. She actually admired this woman for creating this mood between enemies. She knew it was magic that made this whole thing possible for them to talk, maybe it was merely her logic? She didn’t know, but Hermione still admired her.
“As we are lacking time for the game and enough for the trust exercise, I would like to ask you to just come up with a schedule. I need you to come up with a schedule of your shifts with your babies. You see, children of their age, a month or so old don’t have good sleeping schedules yet and surely they will mess with your sleep cycle. As you try to give them their sleep patterns, you and your partner have to sacrifice night schedules to care for the child. To be fair, you need to make a schedule shifts. Good luck. Remember, understanding is the key, compromises will be the result.” She ended with a wink before she got up from her cushion and excused herself to go to Madame Pomphrey.
Hermione turned to Draco and conjured a parchment, quill and ink. “So we need to have a schedule.”
“I know, Hermione. Not deaf you know.”
“Yeah sorry. Anyway, I’m a pretty heavy sleeper so I think if it’s my turn, I should take a nap after classes so I will stay awake at night.” She said and started writing a chart for their schedule.
“I know. I was awake last night while Cassie was crying and you would sleep through it, even if she could wake the whole castle).” He shrugged and she glared, albeit playfully.
“Oh and you snore.” He added with a smirk.
“I do not snore.” She said with conviction and a death glare.
“Yes you do.” He countered. She grabbed a nearby pillow and hit him on the head, repetitively.
“That’s enough, woman. Don’t get your knickers in a twist, and there's certainly no need to get violent. I’m just joking.” He said defending himself from her attacks with his arms crossed above his head. “Let’s just start."
Fifteen minutes later, Professor Merrywood arrived back with the school nurse and four babies- two with each witch. Both witches were wearing their most motherly joyful smiles. The eight students smiled, even if it was small with Draco and Blaise and almost a grimace with Ron.
“So class, I trust you have your schedules ready?” When they all nodded, she continued. “Well, for our parting activity, we’ll do something muggles called ‘A Trust Fall’. Hermione, could you please explain to us what it is?”
Hermione nodded and proceeded to tell her classmates what exactly A Trust Fall was, in her best matter-of-fact voice. She then glanced at Draco and asked herself, if she was ready to trust the boy-turned-man that she had loathed for the past seven years and had became her sort-of-friend only an hour before. Memories of him calling her a mudblood, cursing her teeth to grow past her chin, and watching, unceremoniously, while she was being tortured came to mind.
A long time hadn't passed since the memories had taken place and they were still fresh, causing her to suddenly remember why she had hated him. She was sure she didn’t trust him yet, but the way he handled his situation with Ron and him caring for their child told her to try. She didn’t know him so who was she to judge him.
He nudged her away from himself and looked at her with his gray eyes. She furrowed her brows because she knew something was different to him then.
“Its your turn.” He said softly, a very different tone from his old cold drawl. She climbed up onto the high table the Professor had transfigured from the round table. Closing her eyes, Hermione decided. Long gone were the cold hard glares, replaced by something akin to soft stares. Maybe she did trust him, even just a little, and soon she was sure she could do so fully. She felt herself freely falling from the five feet high table, only to be caught by the strong arms that were the fruit of years of playing Quidditch. She opened her eyes and she saw the new set of gray eyes- the ones she knew she would be able to trust in the near future. And for the first time in her life, Hermione Granger thanked Draco Malfoy.