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Chapter 29 : Apologize
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“Draco, I think you might need to sit down,” Hermione said quietly as they stood in the Burrow’s kitchen.
“I’m fine Hermione. I just want to get Ella, and then go home.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure you can wait sitting down, Draco.”
“If I sit down, I won’t get back up.” Before Hermione could even think of a response, Molly Weasley walked into the room, holding Ariella in her arms, followed closely by several different bags.
“Here the sweet little thing is,” she said with a smile. Draco immediately held his arms out for his little girl, and smiled brightly when she extended her arms out to him.
“Dada,” came a voice that had only mumbled indistinct sounds before. Draco and Hermione looked at each other, happiness streaming across their faces. Ariella, noticing that she had not been placed into her father’s arms said, “Dada!” and then began crying.
“Oh sweetheart, Daddy’s sorry,” Draco said as Molly placed Ariella in his arms. He smiled down at his little girl and had to restrain himself from jumping with joy.
“–for everything Molly. We really appreciate it.” Draco only caught the end of Hermione’s sentence as he had only just realized that she was speaking.
“It’s my pleasure, dearies. The house is so quiet with all my children grown up and gone; it’s nice to have kids back here.”
“Yes, well, thanks again, Molly. We really ought to be going now,” Hermione said, giving Draco a concerned look. She hugged the older woman, reached for the bags, and stepped into the fireplace, followed closely by Draco.
“Malfoy Manor,” she stated clearly, and, within a moment, they were stepping into the living room. Hermione set the bags on the floor next to her and turned back to Draco, who was blinking rapidly.
“Draco?” she asked, worried. He held out Ariella and Hermione took her into her arms without a moments hesitation. He moved quickly to the couch, and very nearly collapsed into it.
“Draco, should I call for a healer?” He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head.
“Are you certain?” she questioned again, as Ariella cried out again, “Dada!” and reached her arms out to him.
“Sweetie, Daddy’s not feeling well,” she said at the same time as he reached out his arms for her. Sighing, she stepped closer and gently handed her daughter back to him. She saw the pain in his eyes as he struggled not to fall over.
“Draco, I really think I should call for a healer. And will you please lie down?” She helped him lay down on the couch, while he continued holding on to Ariella, hoping not to upset her again.
“If it’s like this in the morning, Hermione. Then, and only then, call you call for a healer.”
She nodded, knowing that was the best she was going to get. With a few flicks of her wand, all three were in their nightwear and the couch had grown larger. With a painful smile, he watched as she slid in next to him, and conjured pillows and a blanket. She set her wand on the coffee table and turned back towards him.
She laughed softly as she realized he was already sleeping, their little girl laying peacefully on his chest.
The next morning brought with it only the aches and pains a night on the couch can bring. Draco shook his head, as he did every morning, in an attempt to shake away the sleepiness. Not to mention, he was a bit confused to be sleeping on the couch, and there was something heavy on his chest.
“Good morning, Ella,” he said with a smile. He felt something stirring next to him, and was somewhat confused that Hermione was laying next to him on the couch. The memories of last night came back in a rush. He grinned, “She called me ‘Dada.’ She knows who I am,” he whispered to himself. Hermione started to stretch out beside him as she woke up. She blinked a few times in confusion before she, too, smiled at the memory of the night before.
“Dada. Her first word was Dada. I can’t wait to add that to her baby book!”
“–Baby book?” he questioned after a moments pause.
“Yes, of course. Right now there’s her birth certificate, pictures of the birth, and a few from the last few months. She’ll be three months old soon. Can you believe that? Three months.” Her eyes were wide with fascination.
“Yes, the time certainly has gone by fast. It doesn’t even feel like I’ve been able to spend that much time with her.”
“Well, you did spend the last two weeks laid out in bed,” she said with a sad smile.
“I suppose so,” he paused for a moment, and then questioned, “Hermione?”
“Isn’t she a little young to have said her first words?” This caught Hermione off guard. After a few minutes, she said, “I don’t know about witched and wizards. For Muggles, I don’t think that babies start to speak until they’re at least ten months old. I could ask Molly though. She would know. Or…”
“Accio Development book!” she stated, waving her wand. A moment later, a book titled The Development of Your Child: Everything a New Parent Needs to Know (Wizard’s Edition) came zooming into the room. She flipped quickly to the index, and turned to a page near the beginning. She scanned the page before reading out loud to him, “A normal wizarding child will begin to speak between four to six months of age. By twelve months, you’re baby should be able form ten to fifteen words. However, not all children grow at the same rate, and do not fret if yours is not speaking… blah, blah, blah. Ah, here we go, Your child may even begin speaking before six months. While this is statistically rare, it is possible. It also tends to indicate a high intelligence. Well there we have it. Ariella is a highly intelligent child.” She smiled brightly at him.
He only laughed and said, “With you as her mother, not even Weasley’s lack of intelligence would have rendered her anything but.”
“I can’t tell if that’s a compliment to me or an insult to Ronald,” she laughed.
“Both.” He spoke without hesitation and she could not help but laugh at that.
“Personally, I would have preferred it be simply an insult to Ronald.” She smiled as she felt his body rumble with his deep laughter. He only stopped when he realized Ariella was waking. Both parents watched the little wake with happy smiles encompassing their features. Once Draco was sitting up, holding her in his arms, Hermione decided to go make breakfast before and prepare a bottle for her daughter. Just as she was leaving the room, he called out, “Hey Granger?”
She stiffened before responding, “Yes?”
“You were wrong, you know.”
“When you said that I hadn’t called you Hermione since the accident. I distinctly remember calling you Hermione when I woke up. Even when Zabini was talking to us. And a few times after that.”
Confused, she said, “I thought that you didn’t remember much after you first woke up.”
“Ah, well, a good night’s sleep after my memories got fixed, and I remember everything. I still like that story you came up with. Perhaps we should call Lavender and get her to print that story?” Laughing, she responded, “I’ll see what I can do. And Draco?”
“Are you feeling better?”
Ariella was sitting in Draco’s lap, after having been fed, when the doorbell rang.
“Who the bloody hell would be ringing the bell?”
“Draco! Language. Do you want her next words to be ‘bloody hell?’”
“Language, Hermione,” he smirked. She playfully glared at him, and went to answer the front door.
“Ronald? What are you doing here?” she asked, too surprised to be angry.
“Hermione, I just want to talk to you. I just, I want you to listen to what I have to say.”
“Who is it?” they heard Draco call from further in. Hermione hesitated before she replied honestly. Within ten seconds, he was standing at the door, Ariella curled against his chest.
“What do you want now, Weasley? Come to hurt Hermione now? Or Ariella? Maybe try and burn down our home?”
“Draco!” Hermione said, effectively stopping him from continuing. He continued to glare at the redhead as Hermione said, “What is it, then, Ronald? What is so important for you to say?” he glanced cautiously at Draco, and mumbled an answer.
“Didn’t catch that.”
“Can we speak privately?” He waited out the silence. She needed to hear what he had to say, and he needed to say it. Finally, she nodded once and stepped back to allow him to enter the Manor. Draco scowled and returned to the living room.
“We can talk in the parlor, Ronald. Let’s make this quick.” He followed her in silence, and did not speak until she had closed the door behind them.
“Hermione, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“About what, exactly? Never giving me a chance to explain? Assuming I cheated on you? Leaving me when I needed you the most? Trying to destroy what Ari and I have here? Trying to kill Draco? What? What are you sorry about Ronald? Hmm?”
“Everything. I’m sorry about everything. Mostly just for hurting you. I never, ever, wanted to hurt you. Never. You were the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The woman that I loved more than anything in the world. Still do.”
“Ronald. Don’t.” He nodded as he took a deep breath.
“Right. Ok.” She waited, expecting him to say something more. After a few minutes, he did.
“When you told me you were pregnant, I was happier than I had ever been in my life. Certainly, I had never expected to be a father so soon, but that didn’t matter. I was going to be a dad. Everyday that passed just made me happier. I was excited. The idea of raising our children, of being with you for the rest of my life was something I had dreamed about since our sixth year. I never wanted to loose you.
“Then we went to the doctor, to find out… and it was obvious she wasn’t mine. I had never felt more betrayed in my life–please, Hermione, let me finish. You need to know this. You aren’t going to forgive me, but I hope that this will make you understand. I need you to understand.” She nodded and closed her mouth.
“Thank you. So, finding out that your baby wasn’t mine was the worst moment of my life. I hadn’t known, then. You never said anything, so I immediately eliminated that option, leaving only artificial insemination or cheating. I knew that you would never have done the former, or the latter. But one of them had to be true, in my mind. I believed that you cheated on me because you had never said anything about wanting children so soon, not to mention we were in the middle of a war when she was conceived. So, in my mind, the only plausible conclusion was that you cheated on me. It destroyed me to think that, but I convinced myself that it was the only possibility.
“The Muggle part made sense because you would've been able to convince one of them that you were single. No wizard would've slept with you because either you were the enemy, or they knew that you and I loved each other. I didn’t want you to explain, not that day. I thought you were only going to make excuses for yourself. So I left. I felt like my heart had just been shredded, and being around you was only going to make it worse.
“It took me a few days to calm down, and then I went to talk to you. I wanted you to explain everything to me. I wanted to understand how you could do something like that to me. When you told me you were moving in with Malfoy, I went mad. Knowing that you had gone to Malfoy, when there were so many other people that cared about you…. I guess I just couldn’t handle the idea.
“In my mind, the only way to get back at you for the pain the you caused me, was to cause you that same pain. I did everything I could to hurt you as much as I had been hurt, but it never felt like enough. Especially after Malfoy had punched me, with my brother’s help.” He sighed, and she knew how much he hated himself for everything he had done, but she still found it difficult to find forgiveness.
“After the party, when Ginny told me the truth, I realized how much damage I had done, and how you had never deserved it. You didn’t deserve any of it. So it tried to make up for it, I tried to fix it. But then Harry explained to me your deal with him and I knew that I probably caused more damage. I didn’t know how to fix it. So I came here to apologize, to tell you all of this. But when Malfoy came out instead of you, I was furious. We were arguing and then you started defending him, and then I just… I let my anger get the best of me. I didn’t think anything was going to happen, except him having a bit of a headache. But he hit the table, and there was all that blood, and –”
“And then Zabini came and made everything worse. I know that Ronald. And unless you were somehow controlling Zabini, I know that wasn’t your fault. But I know you helped Harry only to get back in my good graces. You couldn’t have cared less whether or not he died. So while I appreciate your apology, you were correct in assuming that you wouldn’t be forgiven. Fitz will escort you out.” The elf appeared the moment his name had been spoken. With one glance back at the woman he had thought to be the love of his life, Ronald Weasley followed the house elf out of her home.
Author's Note: School will be starting soon, and I know that my updates have been lacking lately, so I regret to inform you that they will continue to be so. However, this story will NOT be abandoned, nor will the remaining chapters be too short. Thus, I hope that all anticipation for the new chapters will be sated by their length. All my love (espceially to those wonderful reveiwers wink wink), byebye
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