Chapter 9 : 9- The Catalyst
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The witch didn't know what to do. She wanted to soothe him off his nightmare, but she didn't want to complicate things farther for them. They had their issues far worse, and knowing about his nightmares would degrade his dignity. It was counterproductive on what she hoped to achieve. She wanted friendship once more. Still, the overwhelming urge to help him won. Hermione found herself rousing from her bed and taking the small distance to his.
"Shh, shh. Draco, you're fine." She whispered in a motherly voice she often used to calm her daughter after being roused unexpectedly. "No! Don't hurt her! Please," the man on the bed whimpered in pain, tossed in his bed, not once acknowledging Hermione's presence.
She rubbed his back in soothing circles and hugged him to her chest, all the while whispering soothing nonsense to him. She didn't understand his nightmares, but she had a vague feeling she knew what it was. Slowly, his breath calmed, his muscles relaxed, and Hermione gently laid his head back to his pillow. Before she stood up from his bed, a cold hand stopped her. It gripped her wrist as if afraid to let go.
Hermione looked back to him, found him with eyes open wide and a mix of gratefulness and fear. She smiled to him and shook her head 'no'. She won't tell that to anybody. That was the first time it happened, and even if it happened many times, she would still not tell anybody. It wasn't her right to do so. It wasn't her story to tell. Draco released a sigh of relief, and returned her small smile of his own. "Thank you," he breathed almost inaudbly. But in the silence of their room, with only Cassie's breathing humming lullaby to them both, Hermione heard. She cocked her head to the side, and smiled wider. "You're welcome," she replied in the same breathy voice. And soon both of them feel in deep lumber for four more hours in their own beds, only to awaken by the giggles of their daughter, bubbly and happy girl she was.
The night they shared was a catalyst. The morning found them together, not a slight tension between them as Hermione fed Cassie while Draco took his turn to prepare himself for the day. The witch had taken care of herself first while Draco dressed their daughter, and it was now her turn.
"Come on, sweetie, its a beautiful day outside, we want to play out, don't we?" She cooed, as she pushed the small spoon gently in the little girl's mouth, which earned her a giggle and in turn Hermione smiled fondly. Cassie was such a good girl. It was with regret she remembered her childish bout of anger which caused her to ruin her daughter's birthday.
The door to their room opened, and Draco came in. Hermione sat straight and put the bowl of mased potatoes down on the side table and picked up Cassie from her crib as she stood. She looked at Draco with a blank expression waiting for the worse yet to arrive.
"Relax Granger, I'm not going to bite your head off. It was wrong of me to hold on a grudge to you on something you've already apologized for." He drawled, taking Cassie in his arms. Shocked, Hermione fought the urge to drop her jaw. She didn't know that he saw her saying sorry to their kid. But she was extremely ecstatic. She knew they were heading to the right direction.
"Right, thank you, I guess. And I'm still sorry. You were right, I was acting more of a child that Cassie."
"The world must be coming to an end. I just heard Hermione Granger admit that she was wrong and I, Draco Malfoy was right," he teased, a small chuckle escaped from his lips as he grabbed his cloak on his way. It was Hogsmeade weekend after all.
"Git," Hermione retorted, a roll on her eyes and light chuckle in return. She found that she liked Draco's laugh very much. It was such an honest sound. She wouldn't mind it hearing anytime.
"Tut tut, Granger. Little ears," the wizard's voice rang from the common room. A nice chuckle came next. Hermione shook her head, a small sincere smile on her face as she took one last look at the mirror at the vanity and took her own cloak. She heard the portrait door clicked shut, and the witch gave a slightly disappointed sigh. Despite their truce back in place, Draco hadn't waited for her. She headed out of the common and on her way to the portrait door when a piece of parchment appeared out of thin air and hovered in front of Hermione.
She gasped in shock and slowly reached out to read the parchment. A small frown made its way to her face as she read- why of all weekends, Professor Merrywood asked her to meet her on a Hogsmeade weekend? Hermione folded the letter with its plain cursive handwriting of the professor in tact. She was told to meet the woman in the Room of Requirement about her grades. That alone gave her a fright and some unknown feeling. But being quite opposed to Divination, the witch ignored it and made her way to the Seventh floor instead of the original plan to go to the Great Hall. Draco and Cassie surely could wait for a few minutes.
Draco strutted down the stairs and ultimately to the Great Hall with an almost two year old Cassie in his arms. The enormous double doors of the hall was open and a constant rush of students coming in and out for breakfast was present. Finally arriving at the Great Hall, Cassie began to struggle out of Draco's arms. As the girl had been practicing her walk, which was a lot better compared at her birthday, the wizard slowly put her down. "Don't run, Cassie. Don't run." He warned, as he released the girl's hand, doubtful that the girl understood her. The small blonde girl was after all focused on James Potter, who was now at the Gryffindor table with his parents, throwing food at his cousin, Hugo Weasley. They didn't look as if they heard every sermon that came out from their mothers.
Draco groaned as instantly, Cassie broke into a run- more like a waddle- and he knew he'd be spending breakfast at the Gryffindor table. Lucky for Blaise, he was at the Ravenclaw table. That one was not likely to eat him alive. Unlike him, Draco was sure he'd be eaten as soon as he went at the lion's den. "Jamie!" Cassie yelled, attracting the attention of everyone around them.
The entire population of Hogwarts had gotten used to the kids now, especially since they've learned how to talk. The small number of seventh years, only rounding to approximately 10 pairs with their children wasn't a distraction, as much as they were the source of amusement from the student body. Another groan was released by Draco as he followed closely, hunched down, hands stretched out in front of him ready to catch his daughter if she tripped.
Luckily, his daughter has quite his affinity as an athlete, because in record time, she was at the Gryffindor table, holding onto the bench with James Potter smiling brightly to her. "Cash!" James yelled in return. Hugo piped in with a muffled ''Ash' as his mother, Padma Patil gently pushed a spoonful of baby food on him. Cassie tugged James' sleeve happily, causing Ginny to instantly move and catch her son before he fell. "Jamie, up!" Cassie said, as soon as Draco arrived.
"Good morning Malfoy," Padma greeted him quite happily as she once again pushed another spoon of food in her son's mouth. Her partner, Ron Weasley, grunted in greeting half maliciously and half not. He was trying, Draco could tell, but he knew that once he cornered him alone, there's bound to be an explosion. The Potters greeted him with a rather cheery 'Morning', which roused up a suspicion from him. Nonetheless, he ignored it as he felt a tug on his cloak. "Dada, UP!" Cassie said, tapping the bench with her free arm.
"Morning," he replied before he bent down and sat Cassie on the bench beside James and he too sat beside his daughter. If only Granger was her. Speaking of the witch, he was sure she should be here by now. "Where's Hermione, Malfoy?" Harry Potter asked voicing Draco's own question in mind.
He looked back at the door as if expecting to see the witch in question arrive, but no bushy brown haired witch came in. "She was in the room, following us, I'm sure." He spoke trying to be certain. But if she was following him, where was she?
Before he could think of another reason, a hoot of an owl interrupted them as a tawny barn owl swooped in and dropped a small parchment on his empty part of the table. He looked sideways down on Cassie, thankful that she was rather busy babbling away on her new best friend James and Hugo. The kids had their own small world with their own language. The people around him, namely Harry Potter, Ginny and Ron Weasley, and Padma Patil looked at him curiously and on the parchment. The other Gryffindors at the table were too busy among each other. Perhaps because they were younger than the group.
"Read it Malfoy," Patil said squinting as if recognizing the penmanship on the parchment. "From Professor Merrywood," she said confidently and indeed she was right. He was instructed to go to the Room of Requirement for a bit of counseling about his grades. Did she know about his row with Granger? Did she? Draco was far too focused contemplating behind his indifferent mask to notice the Ginny and Harry's hand squeeze, and the girl Weasley's wink at the eccentric blonde on the Ravenclaw table.
"I have to go. Potter, Merrywood said to leave Cassie with you. Any harm, Potter, any harm, and you'll face the end of my wand." he warned, kissing his daughter's forehead who was ignorant of what's happening because James and Hugo were keeping her busy.
"You--" Ron stood almost offended and Malfor became amused. Seriously? Just a threat on Potter and the Weasel was ready to launch? "Relax Weasel, this is my daughter I'm talking about, I'm sure Potter understands." He said chuckling mirthlessly. Padma tugged Ron back as his face looked ready to burst in its redness. "Yeah, yeah, Malfoy. Consider it heard." Harry replied shooting a warning glance towards the redhead.
Draco took one more kiss on his daughter and turned around to leave, grabbing two green apples just in case. He failed to see the warning glance of Harry to his mate, the wink Ginny gave to Luna, the amuse look of Padma who had caught on what's happening through keen observation, the far from amused glare of Blaise who stared at his best mate as he strode out of the Great Hall and the exaggerated twinkle in the eyes of Professor Merrywood of whom Ginny and Luna had asked for cooperation as she entered the hall the moment Draco stepped out.
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