Chapter 4 : Chapter Three: A Deal With The Devil
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“Ron comes back tomorrow.”
Hermione looked at Harry as he deliberately avoided eye contact with her, sipping his coffee. “Can’t wait,” Hermione mumbled sarcastically.
Harry cleared his throat in an exceedingly awkward manner. Hermione cocked an eyebrow. “He’s coming back with that Italian woman.”
Hermione’s heart dropped into her stomach. She felt like she was going to be sick. “That’s good for him,” Hermione managed to say. “I hope he’s happy.”
Harry finally looked at Hermione. She wished he wouldn’t look so sorry for her. “Hermione, I know this is hard for you, but I have to tell you one thing. Do not tell him I told you this because I’m not trying to pick sides.” When Hermione nodded, he continued. “Ron thrives on knowing that you’re somewhere out there pining for him. This is like Lavender Brown all over again. I’m only telling you this because I’m pissed as hell at Ron for doing this to you. You deserve better, especially from our best friend.”
Hermione knew Harry was right. As long as she was sitting around moping, Ron could come and go as he pleased, walking all over what was left of her dignity. The tabloids had been plastering headlines like Hermione Granger Left in the Dirt as Ron woos Beautiful Model and Ron Weasley Considering Marriage as Hermione Granger Buys More Cats. Hermione glanced down at Crookshanks as she pawed through the kitchen. Maybe being a cat lady wasn’t so bad.
Harry seemed to pick up on where her mind was wandering to, so he decided to change the subject. “So Malfoy’s wedding is just around the corner, I hear.”
Hermione looked up at Harry. “Yeah, it seems that way.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “You’re telling me you didn’t get an invite after saving his father from years and years in Azkaban?”
Hermione ignored his tone. “I really don’t have a place in Malfoy’s wedding, Harry. Let’s be serious.”
Harry laughed. “Teddy had a bad fever the other day so we took him to St. Mungo’s. Malfoy treated him.”
Hermione looked at Harry with wide eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me! Draco Malfoy helped you out?”
Harry shrugged. “He was really professional about it, surprisingly. He even sat down and played games with Teddy for a little. It was kind of weird, come to think of it. By the end of the appointment, I had forgotten it was Malfoy I was talking to. Teddy actually has another appointment later today for a checkup.”
Hermione smiled, but her smile faltered. “Harry, do you think I did the right thing with Lucius Malfoy’s case?”
Harry thought for a long moment. “There is no doubt in my mind, Hermione. You did it because you knew it was the right thing to do. I read the file, too. I just couldn’t put my prejudice aside long enough to actually see the situation for what it really was.”
Hermione nodded, feeling more at ease. She had faced a lot of negative onslaught at work for the past week after the trial. But those who had read the file had stopped her afterword and commended her on her courage to do the right thing when so many of her peers wanted nothing short of vengeance.
A tap sounded on the kitchen window. Hermione put her plate of eggs in the sink and proceeded to let the brown owl in. Hermione untied the letter from its leg and pulled a biscuit out of a jar to give the little bird.
“Harry, it’s for you,” Hermione stated, turning the envelope over and handing it to her friend.
He opened the letter and his green eyes scanned the words quickly. “Damn it.”
“It was supposed to be my day off so that I could take Teddy to the doctor, but the department needs me. Some sort of raid or something…Hermione…”
Hermione laughed. “Say no more. I’ll pick Teddy up from daycare and take him to the doctor. What time is his appointment?”
“You’re a life saver, Hermione. If Ginny wasn’t at practice…”
“I know, it’s really not a problem. I miss the little guy anyway, so this will be a perfect reason to spend the day with him.”
Harry gave her the information she needed and apparated out of her flat. Hermione had a few hours to spare so she cleaned up her kitchen, showered and dressed. She apparated to Teddy’s daycare center to pick him up. She smiled at the back of his head as she watched him stack blocks up with another young boy. The woman in charge of the daycare crouched down next to Teddy and whispered something to him. He looked back at Hermione and squealed in excitement, jumping up and running to her. She picked him up and gave him kisses all over his face, leaning back to look at him she said, “Teddy, you have become such a big boy!”
“Because I eat my veggies!” he said. “Uncle Harry said I’ll be big like him if I eat my veggies!”
Hermione laughed. She valued his innocence so much. Although Teddy had lost his parents during the war, he was constantly surrounded by love and affection. She kissed his cheek once more and set him down. “Ready to go, baby?”
He made a face at the nickname she always called him but nodded. They took the long way to St. Mungo’s, and once they had gotten there, Teddy was dying to pee. Hermione lifted him into her arms and ran, looking for the toilets while Teddy kept shouting, “Pee! Pee! Pee! Pee!”
When she finally walked out of the toilets again, Teddy in hand, Draco Malfoy was leaning against the wall opposite her. He smirked. “Glad to see you made it before Teddy here peed all over you.”
“Malfoy!” Teddy screamed, clearly remembering Draco from his previous visit. “Can we play cars again?”
Hermione laughed. “I guess Harry’s use of your surname has stuck with Teddy over here.”
Draco smiled down at Teddy. “I’ve been waiting all day for you to get here so we can play,” Draco exclaimed, ruffling Teddy’s hair. He looked at Hermione. “Maybe I can get him to start calling Potter by his surname, as well.”
Hermione smiled. “Uncle Potter?”
Draco made a face, and Teddy said, “Who’s that?”
Draco and Hermione laughed, Hermione hyper-aware of the way Draco looked in his white healer’s coat. She grabbed Teddy’s hand and followed Draco down the hall and into one of the rooms. She lifted Teddy and placed him on the long cot. Teddy immediately began swinging his legs.
“So, how have you been feeling since you last saw me, Teddy?” Draco asked, holding a clipboard and quill.
Teddy shrugged. “Normal.”
Draco smirked. “That’s a good sign,” he said, looking at Hermione. She smiled.
Draco began with the checkup routine, waving his wand across Teddy’s chest and smiling at Teddy every time he got excited about the wand tip changing colors.
Hermione watched Draco as she sat in the chair against the wall. She couldn’t help but think that he would make an amazing father one day. Recklessly, she allowed her mind to wander, picturing herself married to Draco Malfoy while he played with their child.
Hermione startled. “I’m sorry, what?”
Draco cocked an eyebrow. “I said, Teddy looks good to go. He’s completely over his fever. His vitals are normal. There’s only one problem.”
Hermione stood up, worried. “What is it?”
“Oh, no. Does he have an ulcer? Is there anything we can do?”
Draco bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing aloud. “His stomach is growling. He’s hungry.”
Hermione narrowed her eyes into slits. “That was not funny, Malfoy!”
“Oh, it’s Malfoy again, eh?” he smirked.
Hermione’s wand hand itched to hex him, but Teddy distracted her by saying, “Malfoy, come get pizza with us! Please! Please! Please!”
Hermione looked at Draco with wide eyes. “Baby, I think Malfoy is busy today, aren’t you, Malfoy?”
“I really am, Teddy, maybe another time.”
Teddy pouted. “Then I don’t wanna eat!” His stomach gave another audible growl.
Hermione would be damned if she allowed a child to starve to death in her care. Draco seemed to realize that as he stood there smirking at her. She narrowed her eyes again and said, in a sickly sweet voice, “Mr. Malfoy, I would be honored if you would join us for lunch.”
“Yay!” Teddy exclaimed, jumping in his seat.
“Well, if you would be so honored, then I must accept your invitation.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smile at his sincerity. She picked up her purse from the floor as Draco lifted Teddy off of the cot.
“How about, we have lunch in my office? I like to stay in the building incase there’s an emergency with one of my patients,” Draco explained. “And we can play cars, too, Teddy.”
“Okay!” Teddy exclaimed. “Are you going to play cars with us Auntie?”
“Sure, baby,” Hermione said, smiling down at Teddy and smoothing down his hair as he walked hand in hand with Draco.
Draco glanced at her and couldn’t help his smile.
“Maybe when Uncle Ron comes back tomorrow we can all play cars together!” Teddy shouted.
Draco laughed loudly. “Yeah, Teddy, we’ll see.”
Hermione groaned. She had forgotten about tomorrow. The anxious feeling was back in the pit of her stomach. She had to practice acting like she was totally fine with the entire situation. She couldn’t let Ron know she was hurting. And, if she was honest with herself, waiting for him.
“Here’s my office,” Draco said, pushing the door open and letting Teddy and Hermione through. Hermione sat on the chair across from his desk and Teddy immediately found the basket of toys in the corner of the room and dropped onto the floor to play with them. “Food will be up in a few minutes,” Draco said, sitting down in his leather chair and checking on Teddy while he played. Hermione watched him.
“You’re going to be a great father someday,” Hermione found herself saying out loud. “Astoria’s a very lucky woman.”
Draco looked at Hermione in surprise. “Thank you,” he managed to say, “but Astoria and I are no longer together.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just the paper-
“You shouldn’t believe everything the media says,” Draco teased.
“Well, from my experience lately, it’s spot on,” Hermione muttered.
Draco’s face softened slightly. “I’m sorry. I read about Weasley and the model. Did you two break up recently, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Hermione couldn’t help the bitter smile that graced her face. “About a week before the Italian model’s first Daily Prophet appearance.”
Draco’s eyebrows shot up. “Really?” he asked. When Hermione nodded miserably, he found himself saying, “What an arse.”
“Yes, well, things like this happen, I suppose. You know, just the other day the Prophet was talking about your upcoming wedding. Did you two just break up?”
Draco sighed. “It’s been over a month now. Astoria isn’t telling anyone about the breakup. I don’t feel like bringing it up. I just figured people would begin to realize on their own. I also thought Astoria would get the hint.”
Just then, a knock sounded at the door. Matilda popped her head into the office with a scowl on her face. “The Mrs. is on her way up,” she sneered.
Draco groaned. “Is lunch almost here, too, by any chance?” Before Matilda could answer, three lunch trays with pizza appeared on his desk. “Excellent,” Draco said.
At that moment, Astoria barged through the doors, pushing Matilda inside. “People are beginning to ask questions, Draco,” she trilled before entering the room fully. “Oh, is this a consultation?” Astoria looked around at Hermione and Teddy. Hermione knew that Astoria recognized her at once, although she acted as though she didn’t.
“Consultation?” Draco repeated, looking around the room. Teddy was looking at Astoria, determining whether he should ask her if she wanted to play cars with him or not. “No, I’m having lunch with my girlfriend and her nephew. You really should have let me know you were coming, Astoria.”
Hermione gawked at Draco. Matilda straightened up and smirked.
“Excuse me?” Astoria said in a low, dangerous voice.
“Well, I’ve been seeing Hermione, here. We broke up ages ago, Astoria,” Draco replied, shrugging.
Hermione kept her attention straight ahead of her. She was in too much shock to react in any appropriate manner.
Astoria bristled. “I cannot believe this…if anyone hears about this,” she warned, turning to look at Matilda, “it will be the end of all of you.”
She barged out of the room and out of the hospital.
“What in the hell was that?” Hermione finally managed to say. She watched as Draco took a bite of his pizza. Teddy bounded to the desk and began eating his pizza, as well.
Draco chewed and swallowed. He took a sip of his water and sat back. “That was me getting Astoria off of my back. She’ll go make up some story about how she dumped me because I was an awful person and blah, blah, blah. She’ll never want anyone knowing I left her for another woman. She’s too proud.”
“But sir,” Matilda began, “Don’t you have to keep up the charade now?”
Draco shrugged. “No big deal. I’m too busy for a girlfriend as it is. As long as she sees me with Granger every once in a while, I should be off the hook.”
Matilda looked very pleased to have gotten rid of Astoria. She shook Hermione’s hand and bounced out of the office. Hermione was staring at Draco.
“Well, now I think you should return the favor, Malfoy,” she finally managed to say.
Draco put down his glass of water. “How so?”
“I need you to be my boyfriend for when Ron gets back tomorrow.”
Draco smirked. “This should be interesting.”
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