"Malfoy, do you mind checking on Cassie? She's supposed to wake up from her nap." She asked the Slytherin while she flitted at the kitchenette of their "flat". He glanced at her form and shrugged. He did, however, followed her instruction for the command was actually in a better wording than that of what he got during the first hours of the day. Yes, cranky and panicked Granger was not what he wanted to deal with.
He opened their door and strutted to the crib. It was different to the older crib they had a month ago. This one had lower base for Cassiopeia Granger-Malfoy had learned how to stand on her own and walked with a guide. They certainly didn't need an injury every few minutes.
"Hello, Cassie. I see you're awake." He said in a very calm manner. He refused to baby talk to her, and his partner refusing to do it as well. Their daughter, as weird as it sounded, had the perfect mix of their genes it seemed. The kid could recognize everyone she came into contact to even after the first time of being around them. She did better than most kids in the program. Add to the fact that Cassie could form more syllables than her almost 'cousins'. He still cringed to the thought of his kid being related to a Weasley and/or a Potter.
"Ready for the big day, my little star?" He lifted her off from her crib and smoothed down the wrinkles on her dress. Why Granger think it'll be better if she had Cassie dressed up before she take her nap was beyond him. He used his wand to straighten out her dress.
He settled her down on Hermione's vanity and he tried his best to fix the green ribbon on her hair. Cassie let out a sweet chuckle as Draco groaned in frustration when another strand escaped his ministrations. He glared teasingly at his daughter, but a soft upward tug of his lips gave him away. How Cassie managed to do it was another mystery to the young man. He gave up the attempt to fix her ribbon, and instead, he opted to just brush the blonde strands out of tangles. It seemed however that the kid an idea with the brush as Cassie tried her best to wrestle the thing from her father. "Cassie," he admonished but the girl paid no heed. She only gave her a dazzling smile and said, "Da." It was enough to pull a string in his heart- something he wouldn't admit unless under Veritaserum. He watched Cassie closely through the mirror and slowly, his lips curled up in a full smile.
It was rare, but Draco paid no mind. There wasn't any witness except for Cassie. And speaking of the girl, she turned to look at him curiously through the same mirror for a few seconds before she returned his smile with her own version and let out another, "Da."
"Draco! They're here!" Granger's voice rang from the common room. With one swift kiss on her forehead, he swept the now one-year-old girl to his arms. "Happy birthday my dear little star," Draco whispered to her ear, blowing off air in it as she squirmed and laughed until they opened the door to the common room.
Hermione smoothed down her skirt turning around to look one last time at the decorations that adorned their little flat in the castle. They had asked their flat mates to seek their refuge in the other places while the small family readied for the star's first ever birthday.
Hermione had never felt so much anticipation and nervousness on other occasions apart from the previous OWLs, and the upcoming NEWTs. Who knew preparing in a little less than a month for the first birthday of your daughter would be that hard.
It was a true luck that Malfoy had been cooperative, insisting that he would take care of Cassie if she relived him of his job in planning. She weighed it of course, and if it meant that she could have a good night's sleep everyday despite the trouble of finding charms to change the decors and contacting all necessary people for the party, Hermione agreed. It wasn't for the reason that she didn't love her daughter enough, she was still wary of the little girl. Cassie never beamed at her as much as she did with Draco. It gave Hermione a small rush of sorrow.
She shook her head away of those thoughts. Today was not the time to dwell on those things, Hermione decided. She loved Cassiopeia as much as she loved herself, and today was her daughter's day. She pasted a smile on her face, nodding in agreement at the correct pink and purple colors that had lined the earthy hues of the common room for the day, and the strategic balloons hanging on the wall.
Hermione walked to the portrait and with a soft smile to the father and daughter that had come from their shared room, the Gryffindor opened the portrait. Their flat mates entered with their respective children. The teen-parents put down their kids in the rather large play pen that replaced the coffee table at the center of the room. The girls, Alice Longbottom and Dawn Thomas quickly grabbed the pink balloons, squealing and babbling. The boys however, grabbed the blocks and threw it to one another. "Sweet Circe! Thank goodness those were plastic." Ginny exclaimed as James threw a rather large orange block on Ron's son, Hugo.
"Welcome, I hope you don't mind our little celebration of Cassie's birthday!" Hermione, who the opportunity to walk towards her partner and daughter as the guests entered, said.
"Nonsense, Hermione. This place is incredibly perfect for our star." Padma exchanged schoolgirl-ish giggles with Ginny who immediately agreed.
"Perfectly done, Hermione and Draco. I couldn't see the Fraggles in the room that had once occupied it before you did all this. Did you have some ginger ale spread in the room?" Luna asked rather dreamily. Knowing full well that it was the best everyone would receive from the eccentric Ravenclaw, Hermione could only nod and blush.
"Thank you for attending." Draco smoothly countered as he put down Cassie down on the play pen with the other kids, realizing that Granger was still on the process of composing herself. He couldn't understand though how she would be embarrassed or whatever she felt right now. She indeed made a magnificent job for the common room was unrecognizable anymore. It had the girlish feeling yet classy all the same.
Clearing her throat, Hermione tried her best not to blush anymore at the compliments. She was still very unfamiliar with compliments and she felt as if she wouldn't ever be used to it outside of the classroom. "Right, why don't you take a sit first, while I finish up the table? I really hope you don't mind for it'll be a simple dinner for everyone." She quickly excused herself to go to the kitchenette especially extended for this occasion by Professor McGonagall herself. She had allowed the couple to invite two pairs more apart from the other three pairs co-habiting the place with them.
She flitted at the kitchen, righting the cake, and the silverwares on the table. Too busy to care for the guests at the common room, Hermione didn't notice the heated argument between the Slytherins and the Gryffindors about Quidditch. Clearly it had been the Slytherins who were on the bottom of the spectrum. Only Neville, who wasn't a die-hard fan of the sport like Ron and Ginny, was the one who wasn't part of the argument. Instead he was engaged in a particular talk of nature with Luna and Padma. The teens hadn't noticed that the blond girl from the playpen had already escaped it confines and had walked to the kitchen to follow her mother.
Hermione, having been too focused correcting the last strawberry on the cake, failed to notice too the arrival of her daughter. Cassie waddled towards Hermione, intent on getting her attention. She could have shouted for "Ma" or "Da" and say in her little words what she wanted, but the one-year-old was rather bold and decided to get Hermione's attention by walking to her.
Cold, chubby hands touched Hermione's bare leg causing sharp tingles spread to her body, shocking her out of her concentration. This left the Gryffindor barely time to react for the next moment she knew, she was on the table with the vanilla coated chocolate cake smashed with strawberries sticking on her hair. The instant shock she received had been enough to get her out of focus and be jumpy causing her to knock the cake she spent three hours to make. A loud giggle echoed in the room, pulling Hermione to the reality.
People quickly gathered in the kitchen only to be greeted with the sight of Hermione's dirtied figure and the overall sticky aura emitted by the smashed cake. Cassie laughed heartily at her place beside Hermione's leg, and the Gryffindor felt too embarrassed.
"Why did you do that?" Hermione shrieked at the blonde girl on the spur of the moment. She tried to wipe the sticking chocolate from her blouse but instead spread it more. She shrieked again in frustration and crouched down glaring at the girl.
For a brief moment, Hermione forgot that she was the mother of the girl. She forgot that Cassie was a year old kid, and as much as the girl's milestones were too far from her "mates", the blonde couldn't understand her. "You shouldn't have done that!" She raised her voice. In that moment, everybody had entered the kitchenette, leaving only Dean and Parvati to watch the other kids.
Cassie began to cry which Hermione found more annoying than ever. She clenched her fists to her sides trying to at least keep herself from hurting the girl. But as the seconds passed, she couldn't help it. She shouted 'Stop it!' repeatedly and paced around, consequently leaving trails of dirt on her path. Hermione, completely unaware of her surrounding, knew that Cassie could understand her ever for a very concise manner. She had taught her well, she decided. But instead of stopping from her wails, Cassie only continued to cry, leveling her whimper to Hermione's shrieks.
Then the older girl made a sharp turn in front of the girl. She was fed up. She raised her hand, intent on covering Cassie's mouth, but someone stopped her. "What do you think you're doing Granger?" Draco hissed as he tightened his grip on her risk.
"Nothing," she replied sarcastically. Of course, she planned on doing something, but that didn't mean she planned on hurting Cassie. She might be mad, but still enough to know that the blonde girl was still a child.
"Right nothing, then tell me why are you acting like a kid." he started; a dark chuckle escaped his lips. "No, tell me why are you acting MORE of a kid than Cass?" He asked glaring. Hermione returned his gaze, as powerful as he had sent.
"I planned on shutting her up, not hurting her more. Is that to your liking, Malfoy?" She asked sweetly and awkwardly as a strawberry fell from her hair and dropped to their feet. She pried her wrist from his and brushed past him.
"You wouldn't understand, because you weren't the one who did these preparations anyway." She muttered darkly only for his ears. She walked past him, ignored Harry's call of her name, Ginny's looks of pity, Blaise's indifference, Luna's dreamy looks, Padma's sympathetic gaze, and Ron's glare. Nothing mattered as she strutted to her room, leaving a messy trail after her. As soon as the door clicked shut, tears freely fell from her eyes.
Everybody had left the three other pairs back to the rooms, Neville and Hannah to their flat near the Gryffindor tower, and Dean and Parvati near the dungeons. Malfoy was out though. He didn't care for curfew and Hermione couldn't care less.
She had feigned sleep when the blond man entered and tucked the now calm Cassiopeia to her sleep. She waited with baited breath until she heard the door clicked shut before she turned from her side position to lying on her back. She turned her head slightly to the side and looked at the peaceful face of her daughter as she sleep.
Guilt covered Hermione's heart as she remembered how much of a kid she acted that night. It certainly wasn't worth a temper tantrum especially to a one-year-old. She ruined her preparations herself. Cassie was not to blame, she was. Hermione knew she was at fault.
She stood beside Cassie's crib, listening to her soft breathing. A warm glow instantly crept to Hermione's heart, replacing the guilt. She recognized it as love. She hated herself for being a bad mother to her kid and making Cassie cry over a thing she didn't understand fully. She loved her daughter, and she regretted her actions. Hermione wiped a lone tear from her eye.
Cassie stirred from her sleep and her eyes fluttered open. She looked at Hermione curiously, and the Gryffindor made a move to pick her up. She cuddled her to her chest and rocked her back and forth. Cassie began to shut her eyes slowly, but never fully. Every time Hermione stopped rocking, she would open her eyes and whimper.
Hermione spied the rocking chair at the corner and made a move to sit there. She hummed a lullaby her mother used to sing to her as she rocked. Cassie's whimper lessened. "Shh, shh, my sweet, Mommy's sorry. She didn't mean to be mad at you. She was just shocked, is all. She promised not to do it again." She whispered after she hummed the last not.
She shut her eyes closed and continued to rock. She placed a firm kiss on Cassie's forehead as they drifted to sleep.
The image that had greeted Draco when he arrived was that of Hermione cuddling Cassie to her chest on the rocking chair at the corner. He couldn't describe the feeling that rushed to him for it was unfamiliar. Really unfamiliar.