A/N: Thank you to those who have read this and left such nice notes. I will post more because of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for breathing new life into this story.
“You know I had a hell of a time finding this place” Draco said wanting to change the subject to something less personal. His stomach was tied in knots suddenly and he couldn’t look Hermione directly in the eye.
“Yeah, that was the point” Hermione answered absentmindedly shifting her weight to the other side of the sofa suddenly noticing how close she was sitting next to him. An awkward laugh slipped to top off the moment and her discomfort.
Draco looked like he wanted to say something, but stayed silence with his head hanging his hands. Hermione felt like he was asking her without asking to fill the silence. Again, this wasn’t a normal occurrence for her to share any of her feeling to anyone especially Malfoy. With Harry and Ron she always held up a thick wall up to show them and the rest of the world that she; a muggle; and a girl could & would handle anything that the boys or any pureblood could do. Be so good that they couldn’t ignore her abilities.
Hermione knew the answers to his questions and wasn’t sure if she wanted to share them. They flashed in her head when she looked at him sitting with his head in hands as if he held the remote control to her head. She went to stand up, but Draco stopped her by grabbing her wrist. His touch was light, but very warm. The sudden contact shocked her; making Draco let go just as suddenly as he grabbed her. But it was the sensation that came with his touch is what got to her the most. It hit her in the inner most part of her gut; like a circuit finding it’s path. A moment of fear dripped down her spine, but then also there was a trill of his uncertainty to his touch that made it feel ok to share with him a little more than what she normally would.
“Sorry; you don’ have to tell me anything. I was just thinking out loud.” Draco said dropping her wrist almost as quickly as he grabbed it; embarrassed of his reaction to her getting up so suddenly. He raised his head catching her chocolate wide eyed stare. It was just in that moment he didn’t want her to go away; he didn’t want to be alone. The mere closeness of her body next to his was a comfort that he didn’t recognize till it wasn’t an option anymore. He sighed feeling like he was giving in to something.
Draco finally said what he was thinking; seeing Hermione’s inner battle floating just beyond the surface her stare; but also and from his remorse in making her uncomfortable. “Why though? He asked in flat tone. “ You were look at like royalty after the war. Why would you leave a world that loved you so much?”
Hermione lost herself in his stare for a nano-second before answering. “It was just for that reason I left.” She crossed her arms her chest looking towards the bedroom where Scorpio was sleeping.
“The world was in love with the war hero; the idea of a hero; the muggle born girl who aided Harry Potter to destroy the dark lord; they loved the persona of the brains behind the golden trio; not who I really am; who I was.” Hermione trailed off for a moment letting her words float in the air for a second collecting her thoughts before continuing.
“Everybody stopped seeing me; only saw what they wanted to see; and, then all of a sudden it was my fault that I didn’t live up to their expectations; I was the bad guy because I didn’t do what they thought I was supposed to. So, in the end, I was tired of putting on a show for them and bounced.” For a moment Hermione thought Draco would use her words to hurt her, flip them on her. She felt weak then mad at her self because she let herself be vulnerable in front of someone like Draco, but instead surprisingly the look sitting in Draco’s eyes said something else.
“Know the feeling well. A supposed role can get away from you pretty fast.”
Draco looked away for a second then words came out; again they had just slipped out; no thoughts beforehand; no filter; just blah, verbal vomit coming out of his mouth with no way to stop it. He had no idea why some of his true thoughts were slipping past his filters; normally this only happened late at night when he was talking to Astoria while under the covers after a long day; never once had he ever spoke this freely to someone other than her and now it Hermione who was added to this very short list. Astoria was the only person he had ever felt like it was ok to be not perfect around; the only person who he didn’t have to live up to any preconceived expectations or roles; and, for the first time in his life he had done this someone else; and who would have thought it would have been to mud-blood Granger. Draco shook his head writing it off as being over stressed from everything that had happened and not in his right mind and allowed himself the indulgence of the release of energy.
“Bet you do” Hermione answered not missing a beat.
Draco shook his thoughts out of his head and forced down a chortle after letting her words settle in. His little laugh soften his face “Forgot” he said, his eyebrows jumping up “I have to quick with you. Yeah, maybe we aren’t so different after all.” He smiled
“That’s not what you used to think” Hermione’s eyes darted from his when she said this; she knew her statement would be skating the line just a bit.
Draco’s eyes flashed, the smile vanishing. “I am only going to say this once; those were never my ideals.” his eyes narrowed, then he said with a bit of old school venom dripping from each of his words; “It’s just like what you said- people get mad at you when you don’t act like they expect you too; the difference between me and you though; is that I would have been killed if I acted out of place…. My family, my mother would be harmed if I didn’t live up to what ‘they’ thought was expected to me.” He went silent for a second, then continued
“In truth I never really had anything against you; well, besides that time when you broke my nose and you got higher marks then I did.”
The laugh barreled out of Hermione’s mouth before she could stop it “It broke; really?” Hermione asked not being able to help the smile replacing her pout a little too proudly and turned to face him from the window she was looking out from.
“Yeah it’s good thing that Pansy was vain as could be and used magic to fix it; otherwise I would have looked like former boxer for the rest of my life.”
A small smile found a home on Hermione’s face “Sorry about that; you were being a prat though”
“Yeah, I was being a bit awful. I needed a little sense knocked into me; maybe just not literally.” His word seemed to float off into the distance; suddenly it felt more important to say what he truly wanted to. “I am sorry that my family hurt you.” Draco eyes fell on Hermione’s left arm. She however was too quick and placed her hand over what was left of the scar on her forearm. “ I am sorry if I ever hurt you.”
“It’s ok. We all left the war scarred. Mine is no worse than yours. I bet” Hermione nodded saving the moment after some quick thinking.
They both shot smiles to each other feeling like what was said was true; what happened back then is just that; an old memory and now was a new time with new rules.
Hermione’s head clicked into gear as the moment evaporated away.
“How do you know what boxing is?”
Draco was taken aback; momentarily he forgot that Hermione was a muggle and knew what he was talking about. His face turned beat red. “You really want to know?” he asked awkwardly and keeping his eyes down and away from her wide eyed stare.
Hermione sat back down next to him, tucked her legs under her; and, nodded her head while she waited for him to start.
“Ok” Draco could feel his cheeks turning even redder “No one knows about this and I can’t believe I am telling you. ” He paused and then with an askance look, he check to see if he could trust Hermione enough by what he could read on her features.
“Astoria had a very hard pregnancy. She got very sick. The way we grew up; anything and everything could be considered a weakness; and, the heir to the Malfoy Empire to be endangered while in utero would definitely be considered a definite weakness. Around 24wks Astoria was put on bed rest and we kept it a secret from the whole family. Well, besides her from her father. We told everyone we were in the southern France for the sunlight; and, so during those months on bed rest we read to each other. Once our library was tapped out, I went to the local one. Hence, how I know about peter pan.” He threw a look at Hermione seeing if she was still with him. He smiled on the inside seeing her eyes glued to him. “Then after a while reading became a bore; I went out and bought a DVD player; then a new whole world opened up for us. Who would have thought those little silver disks were….” He paused looking up to the left “so cool, and had wonderful plays acted out on them, we had a ball. We watched everything that I could our hands on; classics like ‘Rocky’ ‘Casablanca’; then things like ‘Dogma’ for a little theoretical fun; ‘the little mermaid’; plus so many more that it would take me all night to give you the full list. You muggles really have a good thing going on with that TV idea; Got to give a hand to you’s about that one.” He shrugged.
Hermione saw real happiness on Draco’s face for the first time in her life. It seemed as if his skin was sparkling as he shared with her his happy memories. His eyes shined with happiness; it could be felt throughout the entire room vibrating out from him. Hermione was in awe; she now knew why so many girls would have sold their souls if he were to look at them like that; even if it was for only a moment. She wanted to say something to him, but her mind was a total blank and anything that would have come out of her mouth she felt would ruin the moment that they were having.
“Neat trick using your cat as a key.” Draco again spoke freely, this time because the cat jumped into his lap.
“Not so much a key; the little guy has a mind of his own; can’t make him do anything; what can I say” The cat who was working on a nice place to take a nap on Draco’s lap then looked up at her while she spoke. Hermione noticed that he momentarily stopped kneading to look at her.
“Yes, we are speaking about you.” she said to the cat taking her eyes off Draco’s for a second then tickling him under the chin.
Homer took his cue and leaped from Draco’s lap and landed right onto hers. “I had to do something the little guy kept being shocked and singed, and then be kicked back from the wards over and over. I was feeling bad and he wasn’t learning; not to mention almost bald. So, I made it so he could do what he wanted in or out of the wards. Anyway, he so rarely uses them I figured it’s not that big of a deal.”
“Ah, details- it’s still cool.” Draco said flatly rubbing his eyes. The day had gotten him at this point; his head felt heavy and he had to lean it against something.
Hermione seeing how tired he was decided to end the pleasant moment they were having. “It’s late” she said in a low voice.
Draco opened his unknown closed eyes. “Um yeah.” He answered while watching her get up and cross the room.
“You can sleep there if you want” she then pointed to a small door hidden in the corner “sheets and blankets are in there” Hermione smiled before leaving him by backing into her bedroom. She wasn’t tired in the slightest, but couldn’t be the reason why he was making himself stay up. Anyway she had plenty of things she could do while hiding away safely in her room.
“The guest-room has plenty of space if you wanted to crash with Scorpius, but please make yourself comfortable wherever. Me casa su casa” She gave him one more small smile, but before closing the door behind her.
Draco groggily watched her leave the room and returned her smile. He had no intentions on sleeping on the sofa when there was a beautifully comfy bed a room away, but suddenly everything just felt so comfortable. With a flick of his wrist he summoned a blanket from the closet and closed his eyes without another thought.
What felt like second later Draco found himself sitting on a white bench, in a white room, filled with white lights. Before he could figure out where he was, he saw something drifting towards him surrounded by a golden halo of light.
He saw her smile in the crook of her mouth before his eyes had a chance to focus on what was in front of him. Like an angel Astoria closed the distance between Draco and her-self; her long flaxen hair slightly blowing in an invisible breeze; her crystal blue eyes shining; and, that brilliant white smile warming him up from the inside out. He felt like he was in heaven. There was no fear in his heart; no sadness anymore; seeing her smile again was a better feeling than anything he knew of in the world. Suddenly everything that he was feeling went away, things made sense, and he was ok breathing normally for the first time if felt like in months.
“I’m not dead, am I?” Draco asked once realizing this wasn’t something that normally happened.
“No sweetie; just asleep.” A voice said echoing faintly.
Draco wanted with all of his heart to put his arms around her and just hold on to her for dear life, but somehow knew that would be against some unsaid rule. Her present started out as dream come true, but now seemed painful to be so close to her; yet not to be able to touch her. Even though he tried to look away; he couldn’t; the pain was worth it, he thought to himself.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I didn’t save you; that I couldn’t.” the words and tears dripped from his eyes like a faucet left on in the dead of night.
Astoria only smiled. “None of that matters; you saved our son. He’s the one who matters; not me. I had a good life; thanks to you.” her smile grew with each of her words.
Draco met her stare and matched her smile “I miss you” feeling like an unknown breath was let out and cleared the way for him to breathe normally.
“Of course; how can you not” Astoria shrugged jokingly pretending to look away.
“Was it you?” Draco asked when the memory of how he told their son about his mother suddenly flashed in his head.
Astoria didn’t need to answer; but, Draco took the smile that danced on her lips as the answer he wanted.
“Thank you; wasn’t sure on how to do that one.” He said blushing
Again, she didn’t say anything; just looked off into endless void of light around them, then sighed. “I like her. She’s nice, really good with Scorpie.”
“Huh; who?” Draco looked deeply into Astoria’s eyes “Hermione yeah” But Draco didn’t want to talk about that; he had a chance to find out some answers to have one more moment with his beloved.
Astoria saw the wheels turning in his head and stopped his thoughts dead in their track. “I can’t tell you anything. I am not allowed to help you. Anyway it’s all there is you look hard enough. Daddy did ask if you got his ring, though?”
Her words shocked Draco out of his lull in thoughts; he was trying to figure out a loop hole on this ‘no help’ thing and nodded his head up and down; and mumbled an ‘un, huh’ to her.
“Well, then you’ll have no problem.” her voice was airier that what it was just a moment ago. When Draco looked up she was starting to fade away. “But” he tried to call out to her.
“But; nothing. You only have ever done good for me; for us, our family. You know what to do; keep it up; in the end everything will be worked out….” He words seemed distance again. Her form started to dissipate. Astoria floated away, but stopped just before the blinding light engulfed her. “You know what? I like her; I really do. She is nothing like what I thought she would be like after what we knew of her in school. She can help you- let her.” The white light almost encasing her, Draco was again thrown off by Astoria talking about Hermione, but his chance was fleeting fast as Astoria faded into the background. “I love you” left his lips one more time before she was one with the background from where she came from. He couldn’t hear anything else besides a very soft and far out bells ringing, but he saw her lips move and could feel in his heart her words echoed loud enough to know what was.
The ‘I love you’ she sent from beyond the grave rolled around in his head until the moment when his eyes opened again the next morning and on to a familiar pair of blue eyes staring right back at him.
“Did you see mummy” came from a small voice sitting at his feet next to a black and white cat on the other end of the sofa.
“Yeah, I did. How did you know?” Draco asked sleepily to his bright eyed son who had just appeared.
Scorpius looked like his father was messing with him. “She came to me while I was sleeping; she told me to be a good boy for you and Miss Hermione; that she’s happy and loves me very much.” Scorpius answered very proudly
“Yeah, I saw mummy last night; she told me the same thing. Come here” Draco opened the blanket and let the little boy in. “It’s still early, the sun isn’t even up yet, a bit more sleepy; yeah.” Before either of them knew it, they were both asleep with Homer laying at their feet sharing in their slumber.
Hermione came into the room in the morning after not sleeping. She had to smile at the sight she saw. She couldn’t help it, but it was just so cute that she ran into kitchen and grabbed a camera from a drawer and snapped picture of father and son sleeping curled up on the sofa together; trying her best to not make sound and let father and son get some well-deserved sleep, before busying herself in the kitchen until they stirred for breakfast.
A/N: Hi everyone,
Here's the next installment, hope ya'll like it. Drop me a line and tell me what you think. Thanks again for choosing my fic. Things will start to move along now a lots of action on it's way. Lot's of Love. Thanks again! ~S