When I wake on Saturday morning, I once again place a concealment charm on my stomach before getting out of bed. I try my best not to think of what happened last night, but I find it an impossible task. And even though I know Draco's fine, I can't help but wonder; what if? What if Draco hadn't been okay? What if he'd… Merlin forbid… died? Would I have been able to cope with knowing that I'd never told him how I truly felt? Never told him about the baby?
These thoughts plague my mind all day long, and by dinner time I decide I've got to do something about it. I decide that I have to tell Draco everything… tomorrow. Though I find it ironic that the day I've chosen to reveal my secrets is in fact, Valentine's Day, I can't allow myself to get my hopes up. I'm telling Draco the truth and I don't expect anything in return, I tell myself. Besides, he's got a girlfriend. I just want him to know how I feel… and I have to at least inform him of the child's existence. I'll be as gentle as I can and hope for the best. I know there's no chance of us ending up together, but I've got to get this off my chest.
I find it a bit funny how much my perspective on things has changed since I saw the image of the baby a couple of weeks ago; I've matured greatly in a very short amount of time. I spend the rest of the day on Saturday trying to find the right words to say, trying to think of the perfect time to tell Draco what's going on. I lay awake for most of the night, extremely nervous but positive that I'm doing the right thing. I decide that the first time I see Draco tomorrow, even if he's with his friends, I'll tell him that we need to talk and spill my guts right then and there.
I somehow manage to fall asleep, but not for very long. I wake several times throughout the night, and when I wake for the final time on Sunday morning, I decide to take my pregnancy book out onto the grounds for a bit of early-morning reading; I'm too nervous to eat right now. I re-conceal my belly before making my way to the common room and out of the portrait hole, and I'm just about to head down the first flight of stairs when I see Draco and his cronies walking upstairs, towards the seventh floor corridor. I'm immediately curious as to what they're up to, but it looks like they're headed for the Room of Requirement.
I'm very shocked; I hadn't planned on seeing Draco this early in the morning. But, nevertheless, a promise is a promise… and if you can't keep a promise to yourself, what good are you? So, nervously and reluctantly, I tuck my pregnancy book safely underneath my left arm, pressing it against my body. I walk off in the same direction that Draco and his friends just went. I follow them up the staircase and through the door, into the hallway. When they round a corner, I do the same. I mimic their every move, and catch up to them just as they're around the corner from the Room of Requirement.
Realizing that I need to stop him before he enters, I call out to Malfoy, who turns on the spot quickly. He gives me a puzzled look, as do his friends, and as I approach I say quietly, "We need to talk."
"What's the matter, Newsome?" he calls back menacingly, "Want me to shag you again?"
Whatever I had been expecting, it wasn't that. I stop dead in my tracks and gasp loudly, unable to believe that he just said that. Though there's nobody else in the corridors, it's bad enough that he's said it in front of all of his friends. More embarrassed than I've ever been in my life, I stare into Draco's eyes for a moment, completely horror-stricken. Suddenly giving up on my mission, I walk quickly past the group of boys and around the corner. Just before I get out of ear-shot, I hear one of Draco's cronies say, "I think you went a bit too far there, mate."
I run past the Room of Requirement once before turning around and running past it a second time, and then again a third time, thinking I just need to get away. I burst through the doors frantically once they appear, and into the Room of Requirement. Immediately in tears once I've reached the seclusion of the room, I drop the pregnancy book I was carrying and fall to my knees, covering my eyes with my hands and sobbing into them uncontrollably and inconsolably.
I sob for several moments before hearing the door open, but I don't particularly care who's entering right now; my feelings have been hurt beyond repair. "Newsome?" Draco's voice calls apprehensively; I ignore him and continue weeping. I hear him close the door behind himself, and the sound of his footsteps approaches slowly. "Look, Newsome," he begins apologetically with a heavy sigh, "I'm sorry, all right? What I said back there was totally out of line. Please, don't cry."
"I'm fine, Malfoy," I reply through tears without even bothering to look up at him. Though still sobbing, I lower my hands, get to my feet blindly and turn to walk back towards the doors, trying to get out of the Room of Requirement and away from him as soon as possible. Draco speaks again, however; stopping me.
"Um…Newsome?" he says quietly.
"Yes?" I respond, still not looking at him as I wipe away the tears that are still steadily flowing from my eyes.
"Wasn't there something you needed to tell me?" he asks. Merlin, in my embarrassment I'd forgotten all about that. Come to think of it, now would be a goodtime to tell Malfoy my secret; we're alone in a private place where nobody else can hear our conversation. But of course, now that it comes to it, I'm really nervous and suddenly don't want to tell him anymore; not after what he just said to me.
"Um… no, Malfoy," I reply frantically.
"But you said you needed to tell me something," he says, clearly not intending to give up until I've told him my secret.
"No, I didn't," I reply, hoping it'll throw him off long enough for me to escape the Room of Requirement.
"You know, you're not a very good liar," he says sarcastically.
"Shove off!" I snap in return, before marching out of the Room of Requirement, allowing the door to slam loudly behind me.
I find Draco's friends standing just outside the door, and they look at me curiously as I walk past them; I just ignore them. I march off determinedly, mentally cancelling my plans to go down to the grounds and read, and I've gotten nearly half-way back to the common room when I realize I've made a horrible mistake; I left my pregnancy book laying on the floor in the Room of Requirement right beside where I was crying… Draco will know it's mine! Of course, the cover is still transfigured to look like a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages, but if for any reason Draco opened the book, he'd know my secret.
I turn on my heel and run straight back to the room, flinging the doors open, earning myself more strange looks from Draco's friends, who I simply ignore again. Once I'm inside the room, however, I realize with terror that it's too late… Draco's already leaned down and picked up the book. He's got it in his hands, examining the page that it opened to when I dropped it. I immediately freeze mid-step, wide-eyed with fear.
He looks up at me, eyeing me with such intensity that I think I might explode. "During the first trimester of pregnancy?" he reads from the page incredulously. "What are you doing with a pregnancy book?"
"N… nothing!" I lie, trying to regain my composure. "I want to be a Healer when I finish at Hogwarts; I was just doing some research."
Though Draco doesn't seem convinced, I walk over to him and snatch the book out of his hands, turning to walk out of the room once more. "Newsome…" he calls quietly.
"Leave me alone!" I snap in response.
"Just as soon as you tell me what you're hiding from me!" he snaps in return.
Without thinking, I place my hand on my stomach at his words and yell back, "It's none of your business what I'm concealing!" Freudian slip, anyone? I instantly freeze in my spot with my back facing him, hoping he didn't pick up on my little mishap. But, of course, he did.
"Concealing? You're using a concealment charm against me? Why?" he asks. Then, piecing two and two together, he asks another question, only it sounds more like an accusation. "Bloody hell…" he says, "You're pregnant… aren't you?"
"No, I'm not!" I reply frantically, finally lowering my hand from my stomach and turning to face him in an effort to convince him I'm telling the truth. "Look, I meant to say 'hiding', all right?"
"Yeah… okay," he says angrily.
"Look, I've got to go, Malfoy," I reply. "I have to get to class." I wonder to myself if he realized I was looking for an excuse to get out of that conversation as I turn around and start walking towards the double doors again. He speaks again just as I extend my hand to open them.
"That's funny," he says quietly, "because there are no classes today; it's Sunday." I immediately freeze; I'm caught. I turn around and put on my most convincing face, hoping I can persuade him to leave me alone.
"I've got a private lesson with Professor Snape today," I reply weakly.
"No, you don't," he says calmly, "I happen to know your classes with him are only on Thursdays."
"Not this week," I reply. "This week we're having lessons Sunday and Thursday." Malfoy eyes me curiously for a moment after I say this but eventually nods his head in agreement.
"Okay, sorry," he says sarcastically. I flash him a reassuring smile before turning to walk away, thankful to have dodged that bullet. As I'm turning, however, he speaks again. "You've forgotten, haven't you?" he asks. Wanting to leave the room but too curious to ignore his question, I turn around to face him again.
"Forgotten what?" I ask impatiently, placing my right hand on my hip. Draco abandons the pregnancy book on a nearby table and takes a few steps forward, closing the distance between us.
"That I know your body," he says meaningfully, surveying me with his eyes. He takes a few more steps closer, coming to stand directly in front of me. Wondering what he means and feeling slightly flustered by the statement he's just made, I look down to avoid his piercing gaze. Draco leans down and whispers quietly in my ear, "I remember what you feel like." The warmth of his breath on my skin gives me goose bumps, and I can't help but wonder why what he remembers has anything to do with what we were discussing. Draco stands up straight again and places his hand on my chin, gently lifting my face and bringing my eyes up to meet his.
Noticing something I haven't, he speaks again, his eyebrows furrowing. "Our skin," he says matter-of-factly. "It's not tingling. You're… you're not resisting me anymore?" This last statement actually sounds more like a question, and it makes me realize that he's absolutely right. Amazed, Draco stares down into my eyes for a moment before slowly leaning down and lowering his lips towards mine. I know full well what's about to happen, but I don't care; I want him to kiss me.
I don't even hesitate; as soon as his lips reach mine I close my eyes and start kissing him gently. Within a matter of mere seconds, we're both gasping for air as we snog passionately, our lips and tongues intertwining seamlessly. Draco places his hands on my hips as we continue to kiss, pulling me closer to him and pressing my body against his. A few moments later, he stops kissing me, causing me to open my eyes and look up at him. He's smiling down at me, and I smile up at him in response, wondering what he's thinking.
I feel him move his left hand to the edge of my shirt, and I assume he's going to touch my stomach to see if he can tell if I'm pregnant. So this is what he meant when he said he remembers how I feel, I think to myself. I personally don't mind him touching my stomach, however, because I know he won't be able to see my baby bump because it's still concealed. I allow him to slide my shirt upwards slightly, and I tremble when I feel his hand on my bare skin, still smiling up at him the whole while. I soon realize that I should have never allowed this to happen, however, because I was unaware of what's in Draco's right hand: his wand.
Suddenly looking very serious, Draco quickly says, "Absconditus Revelio!" and flicks his wand in the direction of my stomach, quickly glancing down at the bare skin of my belly.
Bloody hell! I think to myself. Who taught him how to remove a concealment charm? I gasp and lean down, completely horrified as I try to re-cover my stomach with my shirt, but it's too late; Draco's already revealed my bump. And, though it's admittedly small, it's enough of a difference to be noticed; the fact that it wasn't there before and suddenly is now that he's removed the concealment charm tells Draco everything he needs to know.
Startled and completely gob-smacked, Draco jerks his hands away from my abdomen and simply continues to stare down at it through the fabric of my shirt as he exclaims, "Merlin! You are pregnant!"
I turn away from him, crying, and sink to the floor in a distraught and very hurt heap. He tricked me! I think to myself, And now he knows! This thought is followed by a long and very uncomfortable silence, filled only by the sounds of my continued sobs.
Finally pulling himself together, Draco speaks. "You, um… you should probably try to calm down," he says. "You know… because of the… bloody hell!" he finishes, finally giving up on comforting me. I hear the sound of his feet walking away heavily; he's clearly trying to make sense of what's just happened.
He walks over to where I'm sitting a few moments later, standing directly in front of me. "Come on, let me help you up," he says quietly, extending his hand for me to take. I shake my head in refusal, but he won't have any of it. "I'm not just going to let you keep sitting there on the floor like that," he says kindly. "Take my hand."
Realizing he's not giving in any time soon, I slowly lift my right hand and place it in his open palm. Draco gently pulls me to my feet, standing almost nose-to-nose with him. I immediately release his hand and am unable to look him in the eyes; I stare down at the floor instead. Draco stares at me in silence for a moment before speaking. "I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this," he begins, "but I need to hear you say it. Is it… mine?"
I continue to stare at the floor, but my eyes widen at Draco's question. I think I see a way out of this, I tell myself. "N… No, Draco, it's not," I lie as my stomach twists into a thousand knots.
There's an awkward silence between us for a moment, after which Draco says, "Like I said… you're not a good liar. It's no matter, though, because I will find out the truth. Hmm… I wonder if there's anything about paternity in your little pregnancy book."
I freeze immediately as Draco walks back across the room and picks the book up off the table he'd abandoned it on earlier; I'd completely forgotten about the book. And unfortunately, there is a chapter on paternity; it even provides a spell which will identify the child's father. I continue to stare down at the floor and don't say anything, silently hoping that Draco won't notice that chapter on the table of contents. No such luck. "Ah, here it is!" he says a moment later.
I turn around and stare at him in response and immediately start begging him; "No Draco, please!" I urge him.
"I'm sorry," he replies, "but you've left me no choice." Draco flips to the page with the paternity spell on it and skims the page briefly before aiming his wand at me. Feeling like a sitting duck but knowing that I might as well let the whole truth come out at the same time, I decide not to run from the spell and simply let fate take its course; I've been avoiding this for long enough. I begin to shake nervously as Draco performs a few quick movements with his wand and loudly says the incantation. "Paternum Revelio!"
Immediately, my skin begins to glow gold once more, just as it did when I took the pregnancy potion over Christmas break. But that's not all; I risk a sideways glance and discover that Draco's skin is also glowing. I'm somewhat used to the sensation and am therefore not fazed by it; Draco, on the other hand, stares down at his skin in wonder before glancing back up at me, muttering "Bloody hell" under his breath. Tears streaming down my face, I look deep into Draco's eyes for a moment before looking away; I can't bear to look at him anymore because I'm so ashamed of myself for lying… and I'm wary of what his reaction will be.
"I'm not exactly sure how all this works," he says quietly a few moments later, "but… exactly how pregnant are you?" he asks.
"Fourteen weeks," I reply with resign, barely louder than a whisper.
"Fourteen weeks?!" he asks incredulously, causing me to look back up at him once more. I find that he's staring at me in an accusatory way, and I've got a feeling I know what's coming. "And exactly when were you going to tell me?" he asks angrily, confirming my suspicions.
"I found out over Christmas break! I tried to tell you on the way back to Hogwarts that day on the train," I insist, "but…"
"Pansy," Draco interrupts. "She walked up and ruined that. Merlin; I've been so stupid!" Draco grimaces as he makes this statement and turns around in anguish, facing away from me for a moment and placing his hand on his temple. I'm not sure what he means when he says he's been stupid, so I don't say anything at all, and a few moments later he turns back around and continues, suddenly angry at me instead of himself.
"Still though," he says, "you shouldn't have given up so easily! Do you even realize what you've done?"
"What I've done?" I ask incredulously, glaring at him. I assume he's implying that the pregnancy is entirely my fault.
"Yes, what you've done!"he exclaims, pointing an accusatory finger at me. "Because of you, I've missed the first three and a half months of my child's life! That's three and a half months that I can't get back, Jayde! If I'd only known, I'd have done something… I'd have been there for you, every step of the way! I'd have been there with you when you found out you were pregnant! But you didn't even give me a chance!"
My eyes widen in shock and my face softens at Draco's statement. He's upset, not because I'm pregnant, but because he hasn't been there for me? Because he's missed the first three months of my pregnancy? I don't have time to verbally respond before he continues.
"Because of you, I feel like a horrible person now! A horrible father!" he exclaims. Then, he softens his voice and a sad expression crosses his face. "No, I am a horrible father," he says quietly, staring down at the floor. "Bloody hell!" he continues, "I'm going to be a father? Now? I've been giving you hell all this time, and you're carrying my child. I was just trying to convince you to be with me, but all I've done is make things worse. Your friends told you all those terrible things about me, and you believed them. I wanted to show you I'm not like that… but all I've done is prove them right. Even after everything I've seen, I've still been acting like an arse towards you."
Though I wonder what he means when he says 'everything I've seen', my heart breaks at Draco's statement, and I immediately feel sorry for him. "Look, Malfoy," I begin, but he quickly interrupts me.
" Dammit! Don't call me Malfoy anymore!" he yells, clearly frustrated. "I think we're past that now, don't you? We passed that ten minutes ago with the whole 'you're having my baby' scene!"
"Well you call me Newsome!" I accuse, feeling like I'm being attacked.
"Not anymore… Jayde," he says softly.
"Okay, fine," I reply. "Look, Draco, you shouldn't feel guilty… it's not your fault that you didn't know… it's mine. I was just too afraid to tell you, and you can't be a bad father if you didn't know. I'm only telling you now because I promised my guardian I would; she said you needed to know. But you don't have anything to worry about… I don't… expect anything from you; I'm going to handle it."
"What the hell do you mean you're going to handle it?" he asks suspiciously.
"Well, I've been considering my options," I begin. "And to me it seems that it's best if I don't keep the baby…"
I don't get to finish my sentence because Draco interrupts. "Options?" he yells incredulously, "I don't know what kind of options you think you have, but you killing my child isn't one of them!"
"I'm not killing it!" I yell, "What kind of person do you think I am? I'm giving it up for adoption!"
"Like hell you are!" he snaps, seeming slightly relieved but still very angry, "That child is just as much Malfoy as it is Newsome; you can't make that kind of decision without me!"
"Excuse me?" I ask sarcastically, stunned by Draco's cockiness. "I'm carrying it without you!"
"Only because you're so damned stubborn and didn't tell me!" he replies, "All this time we could have been together… you, me, and… Merlin… our child… but no! You had to avoid me for over a month back before Christmas; when if you had just talked to me we could have worked things out. And now you tell me you're giving our child up for adoption? I don't think so!"
"Draco this isn't some… game, or… competition to see who has the most say-so. This is a baby," I respond.
"I know that!" he snaps in response.
"Well are you ready to be a parent then?" I ask.
"No, not yet!" he replies, clearly taken aback by this question, "But I will be by the time it gets here!" Draco grabs my arm as he says this, trying to emphasize how important this is to him.
"Okay, but what am I supposed to do? I'm not ready to be a mother, Draco! It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice and… money… to raise a child. I can't do this alone!" I reply.
"Who said you were going to do anything alone?" he asks meaningfully.
I shake my head in response to his statement and roll my eyes. "And how well do you think your girlfriend would like it if you and I were raising a child together?" I ask bitterly.
"Pansy's not my girlfriend," Draco says quietly.
"Well you might want to tell her that! I'm sure she's pretty confused by the way you're holding her hand every day, and the way you used to snog her!" I reply.
"I stopped snogging her when I realized what it was doing to you!" he exclaims. "And besides, she already knows we're not together… we never were… I only pretended to be dating Pansy… to make you jealous."
Now I'm completely floored. "You… you were pretending to date Pansy to make me jealous?" I ask incredulously.
"Y… yes," he replies, looking down at the floor as he does so. "I know; I'm a bloody hypocrite… yelling at you for lying when I've done the same thing."
"But… why?" I ask.
I was so… mad at you…for running from me," he begins. "Well, I wasn't really mad at you," he continues, "I was mad because I wanted you and I couldn't have you; I'm man enough to admit that much. I… I don't handle rejection very well, apparently. And I don't know how to express any emotion besides anger very well, either. I wanted to find a way to make you realize we should be together; to show you how wrong you were for running from me. And Pansy, she likes Blaise a lot, but he won't give her the time of day. One day over Christmas break we got to talking and Pansy came up with the solution to all our problems; she said if we pretended to be dating it'd make both you and Blaise jealous at the same time, and we'd both get what we wanted out of it."
Though my heart gives an involuntary leap inside my chest, Draco's story is too far-fetched to believe. I stare at Draco suspiciously with my eyebrows furrowed for a moment. Knowing what's going through my mind, he defends himself.
"I'm telling the truth!" he says seriously.
"Yeah, okay… I believe you," I say sarcastically. "I suppose you and Pansy were just shagging to make Blaise and I jealous as well, then," I continue.
Draco rolls his eyes and sighs deeply. "That was a lie," he says, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. "That was the stupidest thing I've done so far," he continues. "It killed me to see how much I hurt you when I said that, but Pansy told me I had to make myself seem unavailable; that you'd come running back once you thought I was with her. Hell, that's why I didn't go see you in the hospital that day you fainted. I wanted to, so badly, but Pansy told me to stay away and give it some time. I was… I was really worried about you. And now, I find out that you fainted because you're having my baby."
I suddenly feel very light-hearted and care-free; I have to try hard to disguise my happiness at the thought that this bit of news might actually be true. "Pansy told you that if you seemed unavailable I'd want you more?" I ask, not waiting for a response before continuing. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!" I laugh.
"Well it's not like I had a lot of other options," Draco retorts. "I don't know anything about how girls' minds work. And besides; it worked. You were jealous; you can deny it all you want, but I know. Hell, jealousy's the only reason you got drunk and wound up sleeping with me in the first place."
I know that no response is required on my part, and I blush and look away from him. A moment later, I feel Draco's hand on my chin once more, pulling my face towards his. "Draco… what are you doing?" I ask as I look up into his eyes.
"What I should have been doing all this time," he responds. Then, without another word, he leans down and presses his lips against mine gently. I close my eyes and respond to his kisses hungrily, and he pulls away from my lips a few moments later to speak.
"Promise me that you won't give our child away," he says meaningfully.
"Draco, I've already decided," I say firmly as I try to ignore the involuntary lurch my heart and stomach make. "I'm not ready to be a mother; it's what's best for the child. And you kissing me isn't going to change my mind."
"I know that," he says, "just… hear me out. I know this is going to sound crazy, but Jayde… I know we're meant for each other… and not just because of the 'electricity' thing. This isn't just some accident or… mistake; this is a sign! I think this is someone or… something… trying to give us a nudge in the right direction." I furrow my eyebrows in response, but Draco continues. "I know… I told you it would sound crazy," he begins, "but just think about it for a moment! Imagine for just a moment that you believe as I believe… that we're supposed to be together. We're going to be married someday, Jayde, I know it! I've seen it! I've seen the baby; I just didn't know it was already on the way! We're going to be a family! What does that do to your opinion of what's best for our baby?"
Completely taken aback but secretly pleased when he says we'll be married one day, the only response I can come up with is, "You're a Seer?"
"No… not exactly," he replies, "but there were Seers in my family. And they were real Seers, not wannabes like Sybil Trelawney. I didn't inherit the gift, but I've had dreams all my life. And what happens in my dreams always winds up happening in real life." I consider this for a moment and stare down at the floor, puzzled. "What do you think is best for our baby now?" Draco asks again. I don't respond, and he keeps pushing. "You can't answer me, can you?" he asks, "Because the thought that we'll be a family one day makes our child too invaluable to you… it makes it harder for you to think about giving it away."
Again, I don't respond, but I can't help but internally agree with everything Draco's just said. I was already beginning to feel a connection with the child when I saw it a couple of weeks ago, and Draco's statement has just made that even worse. "Think about something else," Draco continues. "What if you give the baby away, and we do end up married one day? I know I'll want a child, and I'm sure you will too... but if we give this one away, we can't get it back. What if we try to have another child, and can't for some reason? What if… Jayde, what if this is our only chance? How would you feel, knowing you gave our child away?"
Tears immediately start flowing from my eyes, and I feel like the most horrible person on the planet. I can't help but think that Draco is taking the news much better than I thought he would. He's being very mature about it; but then again, he claims to have seen this already. This is much too hard to decide at seventeen years old; I don't know for sure what my future holds, but I know someday I will want a husband and child. After all, that's every girl's dream. And knowing my feelings for Draco, I hope somewhere deep down that he will be my husband one day. But, being so young, I find it hard to imagine how my point of view will change when I get older. What if Draco's right? Will I regret giving the baby away? I think like this for a moment and find myself absent-mindedly placing my hand on my stomach. "Our… baby," I whisper through tears. "I… I can't give it away!"
"That's right," Draco says quietly. Then he places his hand on my chin and turns my face towards his, gently wiping the tears off my cheeks. "Look, there's something I want to ask you," he says tenderly. "I know we've gotten off to a rocky start, and I know I don't deserve another chance… but I would love it if we could just start over where we left off that night that you agreed to date me. And no running or hiding… let's just admit we care for each other and… be together."
Though I'm touched by Draco's tender words, a suspicion creeps into my mind. I consider my words very carefully before saying them. "That sounds really nice," I begin, "but Draco, how do I know you're not just doing this because of the baby?"
"Well… because I already got you this," he replies, pulling a small box from his right pocket and holding it up for me to see. It's not just any box, however; it's a ring box. I stare down at the box in awe.
"Wh… what is that?" I ask incredulously.
"It's your engagement ring," he replies matter-of-factly.
"But that can't be for me… you must have bought it for Pansy!" I reply breathlessly.
"No, I told you," Draco replies, "Pansy and I were never together. I know this is a bit of a shock, but just look at the ring if you don't believe me." With that, he reaches his left hand over and opens the box slowly, revealing a simple but beautiful white gold ring with a single heart-shaped diamond in the center. Upon further examination of the ring, I notice that a hand rests on either side of the heart, above which rests a crown. I gasp, for now I know this ring was indeed intended for me.
"Oh, Draco! It's… it's a claddagh ring!"I say in an awed voice.
"Exactly," Draco replies. "And why on earth would I get Pansy an Irish ring?"
"But… but you already had it," I half-state, half-ask as I look up into his eyes.
"Yes," he replies, smiling slightly. "I told you, I know we're meant to be together; I've known it since the first time I saw you. And then I had a dream over Christmas break that only confirmed it. So I bought you the ring the next day. I knew I'd want to use it someday, I just didn't know that day would be so soon. I've been carrying it around with me ever since I bought it, in my pocket. I know it sounds stupid, but it reminds me of you and of that dream, of what I know will happen one day."
Still in complete shock, I don't answer Draco and simply stare at him. Blushing slightly, he continues. "Merlin," he says quietly, "I'm going about this all wrong, aren't I? I wanted the day I proposed to be romantic. I should be down on one knee, begging for your hand." With that, Draco stoops down, coming to rest on his left knee. He smiles up at me sweetly, but I simply stare down at him with my mouth agape.
"I'm… I'm so confused!" I finally manage.
"What are you confused about, dear?"Draco asks.
"Not even an hour ago, you insulted me in front of your friends!" I exclaim, "And now you're asking me to… marry you? And I'm not supposed to think that it's just because of the baby?" A very sad expression crosses Draco's face immediately after I finish speaking. He takes a moment togather his words before responding.
"I… I know I've been horrible to you, and I'm sorry. I guess it's just a maturity thing; I knew we'd be married and have a child one day, and I should have started acting more like a husband and father instead of continuing to act like a childish, spoiled prat. But I swear to you Jayde, I will never behave that way towards you again. The only reason I did it in the first place is because I want you so badly, and I couldn't have you. I told you; I don't know how to express any emotion besides anger very well. I only did those things because I care for you; because I love you."
My whole world seems to stop spinning at the sound of those three little words coming out of Draco's mouth. He loves me? My heart feels as though it's about to explode, and I suddenly find it hard to breathe. Sure, he's said those words to me before, but we were both drunk when he said them; now they actually have meaning behind them that's not just 'I'm drunk and my hormones are going wild'.
"I know it's kind of scary to think about starting a relationship and being engaged, and even becoming parents," Draco continues. "We're only seventeen and I've never been in a real relationship, and I don't think you have either… but I know we can do this… together. And there's no… pressure… or anything; we don't have to rush. You accepting this ring doesn't mean we have to be married within a certain amount of time. We'll take everything one day at a time, one step at a time. We'll work on the whole ‘relationship’ bit first, until the baby gets here. We'll get that down pat, and then we'll talk about marriage. I just… I want to give you this ring now; I want to hear you say that you'll be my wife someday… even if that day is still far away. All I'm asking is for you to think about the possibility that we were meant for each other; I know you care for me, too… so all I need from you now is one little word… Yes."
"What… what did you just say?" I ask Draco breathlessly, placing my hand on my chest.
Looking a bit taken aback, Draco starts repeating everything. "I said, 'We'll take it one day at a time…'"
"No, not that," I interrupt, "what did you say just before that bit?" I ask.
Thinking back for a moment, Draco realizes what I'm talking about. Softening his facial expression, Draco stares me directly in the eyes and repeats his statement. "I said, I love you, Jayde," he replies. I start hyperventilating almost immediately.
"I… I can't breathe!" I exclaim. Immediately concerned, Draco quickly gets to his feet and places his hands on my arms.
"What's wrong?" he asks worriedly. Unable to answer him, I focus on trying to control my rapid breathing. "I'm… I'm sorry!" he exclaims, "I shouldn't have sprung so much on you at one time… it's too much! Please, calm down!" Realizing that I've made Draco feel guilty without meaning to, I try to think of a way to appease the situation. After all, I'm not hyperventilating over the whole "marriage" thing, I'm hyperventilating because he just told me he loves me! I stare into Draco's concerned eyes for a moment, and finally think of a solution. I quickly fling myself into his arms and wrap my hands around his neck, closing my eyes and pressing my lips against his.
He's a bit taken aback at first; he just stands there stiff as a board, but then he gathers his wits and places his hands on my hips, beginning to return my kisses passionately. We enjoy a snog-fest for a few moments, but I eventually pull away and stare into his eyes, thinking. Do I love him in return? I ask myself.
Of course you do, my inner voice tells me, you wouldn't have almost had a heart attack when he said that if you didn't.
Well then, shouldn't I tell him that? I ask myself again.
Draco interrupts my thought process, saving me from arguing with myself any longer. "What was that for?" he asks with a smile.
"I… I love you too, Draco," I reply.
At this, a huge smile spreads across Draco's face, and he closes his eyes for a second, as if trying to savor the moment. "I can't tell you how good it feels to finally hear you say that… without being drunk, that is," he says sweetly. I take a deep breath in before continuing, wanting to express all my concerns to Draco before this conversation goes any further.
"I really want to be with you," I finally admit, "but I don't know how to be a girlfriend, or… fiancé… or mother. I just don't know how."
"I completely understand," Draco says sympathetically, "I'm a little nervous myself. I don't know what I'm doing either; all I know is how I feel. I want to be around you as much as possible. I feel… protective over you – I don't want anything to happen to you. I want to hug you and kiss you and be with you and take care of you every day for the rest of my life. And that feeling lets me know that everything will be all right. So what do you say, darling? Will you marry me?"
I smile up at Draco in response and think for a moment, feeling more ecstatic than I ever have. Somehow, though, my subconscious worries manage to sneak up on me at this most unwelcome of times. I suddenly find myself reliving all the memories I have of people being mean to me, as though they're playing on a movie screen in my head. The memories nearly draw me into them; I no longer see Draco in front of me, only the horrid details of my past.
I watch as Gloria once again starts beating me up on the playground, and as Corey lies to Ms. Fitzpatrick about me. I hear Draco call my name and ask me what's wrong, but he seems very far away and his voice does nothing to stop the memories. Then I hear him whisper in my ear, "I'm sorry, but I have to know what you're thinking right now," just before he quietly says "Legilimens."
Though I haven't realized up until this point exactly what Draco was doing, it's now evident; he appears in my memories standing right beside me as I watch the bad points of my past unfold; he just entered my thoughts. I immediately start trying to force him from my mind, but I find that task to be an impossible one. Draco watches as Corey picks on me at school one day, and as Aaron picks on me that day at Dunamase, and then again the next year. Finally, he watches as he himself makes fun of Harry and I on the castle grounds, and then watches himself repeat the horrible phrase he said to me outside the Room of Requirement. Here, my chain of memories stops, and both Draco's mind and mine return to the present.
I don't even have time to gather my composure, though, Draco immediately questions me. "That's why you avoided me?" he asks. "People have been horrible to you your whole life, and so was I. This whole time I thought you avoided me because you thought you were too good for me… and all this time, you were just scared… scared I'd start treating you just as badly as those other children did." I don't answer Draco because I know there's no need; he knows he's right. "I am so sorry," he continues, taking my hand, "you've got to believe me. I never meant to hurt you, and I swear I'll never do it again, but I know that after my actions, none of my words will convince you I'm telling the truth. Instead, let me show you something."
At this, Draco releases my hand and extends his wand for me to take. "I'm going to remember that dream I had, and then I want you to enter my mind,"he says, "I want you to see it for yourself."
"Draco, I don't think that's a good idea," I say slowly.
"Please," Draco pleads.
"Oh… okay," I say quietly with a nod of my head. Already knowing the incantation, I watch as Draco begins to relive his dream and then immediately say "Legilimens." Instantly, I find myself in Draco's memory, standing right beside the "real" Draco. We're standing in Madam Malkins' shop, in Diagon Alley, watching the memory unfold.
I watch in awe as "dream" Draco walks into the shop, wearing a business suit. He looks around for a moment before greeting Madam Malkin, who's currently helping another customer. "Excuse me, Madam Malkin," he says, "but have you seen my wife?" I feel my eyes bulge at this question, and even more so when the shopkeeper replies.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy," she says with a smile, "she's just there." Madam Malkin extends her right hand and points to an area just a short distance away, down one of the aisles in the shop. I immediately look off in the direction she's indicated and watch with amazement as "dream" Draco heads off in that same direction, towards a girl about my size who has her back towards us. Further examination of the girl lets me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's me.
"Dream" Draco walks up behind "dream" me and places his hands on my shoulders, whispering something in my ear. My dream-self immediately turns around, smiling from ear to ear. And that's not all; I'm holding an infant in my arms. The child can't be more than a few months old, and Draco and I don't appear to have aged much, either. I find it hard to breathe as I continue to watch the scene before me, especially when I look at the child in my arms; I feel my stomach and heart give involuntary lurches once more.
Apparently knowing what I'm feeling, the "real" Draco, who's standing right beside me, takes my hand into his own. I look down at his fingers intertwined with mine, and then look up to the left to see his face. I find an enormous smile there, and he nods his head forwards, indicating that I should watch the rest of his memory of this dream. I immediately return my gaze to the projections of Draco, myself, and our child. "Hello, little one!""dream" Draco says, "Come to Daddy!"
He immediately extends his arms and takes the child from me before giving me a light kiss. "Are you ready to go home, love?" he asks. My dream-self nods in agreement and begins making her way out of Madam Malkins' shop right beside "dream" Draco, who's still carrying the child. I watch as our dream-selves walk past our real selves, and as I examine my dream-self I notice there are two rings on my left hand… one of which is the claddagh engagement ring Draco just showed to me less than twenty minutes ago.
I gasp at the realization, and just as "dream" Draco and I exit the store, I feel my mind being dragged out of Draco's memory and back to the present. Once back focused on the current situation, Draco takes a step forward, closing the distance between us.
"That was beautiful, wasn't it?" he asks, to which I nod my head in response. "Now that you've seen that, what do you say, love?" he asks. Not even needing a moment to consider it, I nod my head as tears start pouring from my eyes.
"Yes, Draco," I say quietly, "I will marry you."
Author's Note: So Draco and Jayde are finally together! What did you think? Please let me know in a review! By the way, please let me know if you see any spacing issues; my computer has been acting really strangely lately. Also, I'd like to give a HUGE thanks to the people on the forums who helped me with ideas for this chapter, especially TojoursPadfoot. Your help is greatly appreciated!