Chapter 5 : 5- The Dilemma
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Hermione sat on the wicker chair in their room. Cassie cried on her arms and Hermione just didn’t know what to do. Draco was out on the Quidditch pitch for some practice with the new Slytherin team. So much had changed since that first lesson.
Hermione and Draco still fought but more banter less killing- yes, sometimes it still involved hexing each other though most of those time involved having Ron as the source of fight. They agreed in a sort of schedule for Cassie and set her on a sleeping cycle. They agreed on alternating each day who to feed, bathe and all things she needed. And so far it’s been working.
All day, Cassiopeia cried since she woke up from her afternoon nap, half an hour after Draco left for Quidditch. It was Hermione’s turn for the day so she grabbed Cassie from her bassinet, rocked her softly, hummed a song to her, feed her, and read to her and all things she could imagine. She couldn’t go to Ginny and Harry because James, their baby, was in the Great Hall with Ron and Padma’s child, Hugo. Blaise was with Draco so Luna and their babies, Lorcan and Lysander, were there too. Hermione had the whole common room to herself- oh and Cassie’s.
It was a good thing she remembered to conjure the little girl warmer clothes because the air was crisp chilly for Hermione. How much more for Cassie? She exited the castle doors and started walking on the lush green grass of Hogwarts. The sky was still on various hues of red, orange, purple and pink as the sun gradually traveled its path down giving way for the moon. It was enticing sight but Hermione was pulled by Cassie’s sobs on her shoulder.
She continued her way towards the pitch to where she saw seven hovering students clad in their green and silver uniforms. She squinted for the platinum blond hair of her partner and she was fortunate to find him. As soon as she entered the pitch, Luna saw her and waved to her, as much as she could with two babies on her hands. She waved back but didn’t climb the stands. She gathered her voice from the rest and shouted his name as loud as she could.
The entire practice stopped, everyone’s eyes were on her. She turned red but kept her face up. Draco dismounted his broom a few moments after the silence that ensued. His face full of concern and Hermione’s heart fluttered a bit. But it quickly dissipated because she knew that the concern wasn’t for her.
“She doesn’t stop crying and I tried all I know to stop her from doing so, but nothing worked. All the books I’ve read didn’t help me with her and I just don’t know what to do.” Hermione’s voice quivered. All the shame she had when she shouted for his name gone replaced with worry and panic for her daughter’s situation.
She could feel her eyes pricked by the tears that threatened to fall but before it did, she wiped them harshly with her free hand and turned the sobbing Cassie to Draco. He gladly got her from Hermione even if he was sweating furiously. “Let me wash up and let’s bring her to Madame Pomfrey.” He said calmly, patting her shoulders awkwardly and leading her to the changing rooms.
He turned to the rest of the team then as he walked towards the room. “Dismissed. We’ll have practice next Tuesday.” He yelled, and the frozen Slytherins nodded and pulled back to reality. They flew to the changing room without any word said as all of them were still stunned by the show.
Blaise Zabini stopped beside Hermione and Cassie with Luna on his heels as she waited for Draco to finish changing. He had showered and silently got Lorcan from Luna’s hand as the partners sat beside her.
“Are you okay Hermione?” Luna’s dreamy and calm voice startled Hermione’s musings. She couldn’t quite think straight because of her worries to the still crying Cassie who kept struggling in her mother’s arm.
Hermione nodded absentmindedly until she felt a cold hand on her shoulder. She turned her head to see Draco changed and smiling softly to her. “Shall we?” He asked, and she nodded, standing up and walking beside him.
“I’m sure she’ll get well soon mate.” She heard Blaise yelled to them as they neared the door to the castle. “She just has too many Nargles around her. I’ll prepare my charm for her later to fend the offending creatures away, Hermione.” Luna’s voice followed.
“What’s wrong with her Madame Pomfrey?” Draco asked calmly as he held in his arms a sobbing Hermione as the mediwitch bustled over their baby. He may look calm but inside he burned in anticipation and worry. Their little girl was crying all afternoon and by the time they arrived in the hospital wing, Hermione couldn’t hold her anymore because her temperature had risen up and she was too hot.
“Just a standard flu, Mr. Malfoy. I had given her a potion to lower her body temperature and pepper up potion just to prevent the cold she would likely to have. She’s fine now, but I would like to keep her overnight for observations.” She tucked in the almost six-month girl in a crib they had conjured as part of this project.
“Can… can we stay here with her tonight?” Hermione asked as she calmed herself down after finally bursting into tears on their way to the hospital. The matron looked at her and Draco closely, weighing her choices.
“I’m sorry Miss Granger, but I can’t allow you. You look like you need rest yourself.”
“But I want to be with my daughter, Madame. Please. It’s killing me to know that she’s sick and I’m not by her side to care for her.”
That night, Hermione couldn’t sleep. She was on the right side of Cassie’s crib under the white blanket of her cot. She lay on her side facing Cassie and Draco. She could just see Draco’s outline above the crib, but it wasn’t enough for her to know if he was sleeping. Her baby was now sleeping soundly than before and she couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. She was worried to death when the girl won’t stop crying that she cried herself when they arrived at the hospital wing. She now felt how it was when her mom would be frantic to keep fending for her when she’s sick. She and Cassie just had the connection. She wondered whether Draco felt that too.
The thoughts of the man on the other side of the crib filled Hermione’s mind. She relished the warmth and comfort he brought when he looped his arm on her shoulders almost protectively when she burst into tears. She remembered how right she felt. And it amazed her. Just almost a month ago, she would be adamant into letting him touch her but now she just felt right. She was grateful he comforted her. But something just bothered her mind, what if he’ll turn back to being the arrogant bigot ass he was? What would she do?
She was now used to having the quiet and loving father he became with Cassie and a good listener and friend with her. She almost couldn’t remember the time when he had called her mudblood when she watched him interact with their baby. The only reminder she got was Ron’s glares and the people’s gossips around Hogwarts when Draco passed them by. It was like they were inside another world with Cassie and Hermione was lost outside it.
“You should sleep, Granger.” He didn’t stop calling her Granger though. He reasoned that old habits die hard and for him she’ll always be Granger. She won’t admit it but she liked the way he called her Granger. It was like an endearment, complete irony to what she felt a year ago.
“I couldn’t. My mind just can’t stop thinking.” He chuckled. She liked hearing it. It was a rare moment to hear him laugh and the last time she could remember hearing that sound was at FLCD class, when they started over again.
“Why am I not shocked with that?” He said jokingly. He turned to his side so he was facing her. They could see each other between the railings of Cassie’s crib.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be either.” She said with a shrug and a soft smile playing on her lips.
“I was worried death about her. I thought I did something wrong and hurt her.” Hermione murmured, only loud enough for him to hear, but was sure it wouldn’t be heard farther. She looked at the blond girl in the crib, sucking her thumb while Hermione guessed that she dreamed. Her eyes filled love and worry quite overwhelmed with it in fact.
“I know.” He responded. He was looking at her with concern in his eyes when Hermione stole a glance at him. “It’s not your fault though. It happens normally.” He continued.
“But I still felt it is. Now I know how my mom feels when I’m sick. Quite disturbing really,” she said remembering the look of her mother when she was younger and she had a flu.
“I was worried too. I wonder if my parents felt that same worry when I’m sick.” His voice came as a soft murmur that it was almost impossible for anyone to hear. Fortunately though the room was quite deserted and Hermione heard. She felt sad and pity him for not having the same loving childhood she had with doting parents. She didn’t know the details of his childhood but from what she could imagine having meeting the older Malfoys, she won’t wish having them as parents, ever.
“No need to be sorry, Hermione.” She almost gasped when he said her name. It was rare thing and she held on it deeply. “I think this project is helping me realize I’m not my father after all.”
“No, you’re not. You’re Draco, not Lucius.” Both of them knew the meanings of that statement. They may look the same but inside both men had unique characteristics and Draco was a man on his own.
A comfortable silence surrounded them, only Cassie’s soft snores were heard. It was like music to their ears, hearing their baby’s soft sound meaning she’s safe. It was nothing like her hysterical cries that night. And both students felt contented.
“Thank you, Draco.” Hermione had taken a habit of calling his first name as both were reminded so much of the older Malfoy man in Azkaban with his surname, much to Ron’s chagrin.
“You stayed calm and comforted me tonight.”
“One should have stayed or else hell will break loose.” He shrugged; both of them now lying on their backs, gaze upon the blank ceiling of Hospital wing.
“Quite right, but thanks still. You know, for holding me while I cried.” Hermione’s face reddened and was grateful that the room was dark.
“You’re welcome then. Just don’t get used to it. I don’t have many experiences with crying women.” He joked, glancing at her a bit but turning his gaze back on the ceiling.
“Sorry then.” She huffed playfully.
“Oh, but you know, I like it a bit.”
“Weird thing to say, Mr. Malfoy. Liking to hold hysterical women in your arms is not something a normal man would say.” She teased.
“Didn’t say I would want it to be a habit. I just like it because it’s you.” The last statement though came as a soft whisper, but Hermione could hear his sincerity. Her face reddened more, and she didn’t reply. For once, she was speechless. She feigned her sleep with her eyes close and even breathing.
The next morning came as the sunrays entered the slits in the translucent curtains of the hospital wing. Draco stirred from his sleep and groggily adjusted his eyes at the intruding light. Disoriented he was as to why he was at the hospital wing but soon as his mind wore off the remnants of sleep, memories of the event last night rushed to him.
He swung his leg on the side of the bed, consequently hopping down the cot towards the stirring baby Cassie. The curly blond haired girl looked like she was dreaming and in her dreams were some kind of fly or butterfly that she was catching. Then he heard a soft ruffle of sheets on the other side of the crib, only to see the brown-haired woman, the mother of his child- it felt weird saying that- stirred too. However, she remained sleeping after.
Draco cooped up Cassie in his arms, taking a small test of her warmth. He was quite relieved when he learned that she is in normal body temperature now. Her small eyes started to flutter and soon her gray-brown orbs looked at him with curiosity as if she was trying to figure out whom he was. He smiled at the girl and cooed her when she giggled upon realization that he was familiar- he was her father.
“Shh, shh, sweet pea, you gave us quite a fright baby. Mommy had been worried sick and cried all night. Don’t do that again.” He said in a soft comforting tone as he rocked her slightly on his arms. The girl giggled and reached up to play with his blond locks that fell on his head upon looking down on her. She made slurping and cooing sounds. Both father and daughter chuckled when she tugged him hard.
Hermione woke up to see father and child happily playing with each other on the other side of the crib. She remained silently watching as Draco talked to their child. Her heart fluttered with the concern he showed not only to Cassie but also to her. She couldn’t quite make her cut their moment so she remained on her bed, looking at them. She realized that Draco resembled his father less as time went by. Because she knew, Lucius was not a doting father but Draco is.
Her presence was announced when Madame Pomfrey entered and addressed her. “Miss Granger, I suggest you take this another dose of calming draught just to make sure. Mister Malfoy, please bring down Miss Malfoy so I could make last minute examinations on her.” He obliged quickly but gentle and he walked to the side where Hermione was.
“How long have you been awake?” He asked quietly, his gaze focused on the matron who bustled around the surprisingly active baby on the crib.
“A while.” She replied, sipping her potion from the goblet with her gaze settled to where his were.
“How are you feeling?” His voice contained more concern that she expected which made her brow raise a little. But on the back of her mind said that was because they’re friends.
“I’m fine. A little worried still but better than last night.” She said with a shrug as she put down the goblet on the bedside table.
“Good. I’m thinking we should have a family time today. Just to celebrate Cassie’s recovery.”
“I think that’s a good idea. Let’s head out after lunch. I want to finish my essay in Transfiguration first.” She said as the mediwitch grabbed Cassie and brought her in her arms.
“Feeling good today, baby?” The young girl giggled to Hermione and the brunette smiled warmly to her. Together, the odd family unit exited the wing and continued their way to their room.
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