Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Hermione Granger put her hot coffee on the coaster on her coffee table and settled herself into her favourite armchair. Opening the newly delivered copy of that day's Daily Prophet, she scanned the front page. Finding nothing particularly interesting, she turned the page. After a few seconds an article caught her eye. It wasn’t a big piece, just two paragraphs, announcing the death in childbirth of the wife of Draco Malfoy. His daughter had survived although the little baby was very ill.
In the six years since the end of the war Draco had been rehabilitated into Wizarding society. It had been a long process to gain any sort of reasonable reputation. His parents were both dead, his father dying in Azkaban. His mother became a recluse, never leaving her room at Malfoy Manor, she passed away a year later ostensibly of a broken heart. Draco had cleaned up his father’s business empire and gone completely legitimate, and repudiating what he now called ‘pureblood nonsense’, owned several muggle companies.
He and Hermione had met a couple of times at ministry functions, and while she could not consider him a friend, she no longer thought of him as an enemy. It seemed that only Ron could not make that distinction. Only he could not let go of the past. Draco had married Amanda two years ago. She came from France although her mother was English. The Prophet had called it ‘The pureblood wedding of the decade.’ Draco had written the editor a scathing letter publicly disavowing the ‘pureblood’ tag.
Without really understanding why, Hermione reached for some parchment and a quill and began to write.
I think you will be as surprised to get this letter as I am to find myself writing it. Our time and history at Hogwarts notwithstanding, I wish to offer my sincere condolences for the sad loss of your wife. I will not use words to try to beguile you from the grief you must be feeling, but there is a little girl who is going to need her father more than ever. I pray for her recovery, she will need you to be strong. Have you chosen a name for your daughter yet?
I will not trouble you further now as I’m sure you must have a million and one things on your mind, but if I can be of any assistance, no matter how trivial, please do not hesitate to ask.
Regards and best wishes,
In her small garden shed she attached the parchment to the leg of her owl, Cyclops. The bird had been easy to name having lost an eye sometime before Hermione bought him. The owl hopped onto her arm and she walked out into her small garden and sent him on his way.
Two days later, as Hermione was finishing her breakfast, a small tawny owl glided through the open back door and landed gracefully on the table. Hermione placed a small bowl of owl treats in front of the bird and took the parchment from its leg. She pushed the bowl closer “Help yourself, sweetie.” The bird gave a soft hoot and hopped to Hermione’s plate and began to peck at her piece of toast. “Don’t like owl treats, I assume.” Said Hermione sardonically.
Hermione glanced at the clock on the wall, deciding she had time before leaving for work at the Ministry’s Reference library; she opened the parchment and began to read.
You were right, (but then, when were you not?) I was surprised by your letter.
Thank you so much for your kind condolences. As you may imagine I have received many such letters. For some reason yours seemed to strike a particular chord, perhaps because of our past history. I have not yet decided on a name for my child who, by the way, is now recovering and out of danger, although it will be some time before she can come home.
It will be a hard time for me but Amanda will expect me to cope, so I will. It’s still very difficult to accept that Amanda is gone and that I will never see her again. You never met her but she really was a remarkable person, I think you and she would have got on well. Her father is French and her mother is English. She did her education at Beauxbatons. You were alike in so many ways, highly intelligent, she loved books and learning. I think you would have enjoyed each other’s company. I cannot put into words how much I will miss her.
Thank you again for your condolences and for your kind offer of assistance which I very much appreciate. I will let you know when I decide on a name for my daughter.
I cannot put into words how much I will miss her. Hermione felt a stab of anguish as she read that sentence. He didn’t deserve this, whatever his history, she thought and his child certainly did not deserve to grow up without her mother.
The following weekend Hermione made her monthly visit to the Burrow, she was still welcome there despite her acrimonious break up with Ron a couple of years previously. Harry and Ginny; now married for almost two years and living at the Burrow would always be pleased to see her. As would Molly and Arthur. Normally Ron would stay away when Hermione visited but this weekend, to her dismay, he was at home.
She endured dinner that evening, sitting opposite Ron and watching him fill his mouth to overflowing and talking with his mouth full. All in all it was a disgusting sight that only confirmed the correctness of her decision to dump him. The thought of looking at that sight for the rest of her life made her cringe. In the intervening period she had not had a regular boyfriend although she had gone on a few casual dates. During the meal the subject of Malfoy had arisen. Everybody except Ron had agreed that it was an immense personal tragedy for him. Ron thought they should not be concerning themselves with the ferrets problems. He was aghast when Hermione had mentioned her letter of condolence.
“Bloody hell Hermione, have you really got such a short memory, don’t you remember our schooldays and what he was like?”
“Yes Ron, I do remember. Only too well but that was then and this is now. Get over it for goodness sake. I have!” her tone was sharper than she had intended and she was relieved when Harry and Ginny had agreed with her, mentioning that they had also written to Draco. Molly and Arthur had also concurred. The rest of the day had passed peacefully especially as Ron had departed shortly after dinner for a night on the town with some of his mates.
Two weeks later Hermione arrived home from work to find a very impatient tawny owl on her doorstep. She let them both in and removed the letter from the owl’s leg. Giving the bird some treats she opened the letter.
I promised to let you know when I had decided on a name for my daughter. This is to let you know that I have given her the name Grace. With your permission I would like to give her the second name Hermione. I hope you don’t mind and will have no objections. Grace is now well enough to be coming home in the next few days. I worry that her being here will only bring Amanda’s absence into a sharper focus that will be difficult for me, but that’s the way it is and I will have to deal with it.
I would also like to ask a favour of you. Would you please consider being Grace’s Godmother? She will need a female role model as she grows up and I can think of nobody so eminently qualified. Highly intelligent and morally incorruptible. Whatever you decide I wish to invite you to attend her naming ceremony two weeks from Saturday.
Hermione was astounded. Me a role model? A Godmother? It would be a huge responsibility, she knew. But perhaps, she reasoned, it was about time she assumed some responsibility in her life. She had her job in the Education department of the Ministry; her cottage, known as Lea Cottage, on the edge of the Forest of Dean; was a post war gift from the Wizengamot. Being what she considered comfortably set she was leaning towards accepting Draco’s proposition. She would not rush into an answer; she would take her time and try to consider all the angles.
It was two days later when she felt ready to reply to Draco. Anybody who knew her would recognise the scene instantly. Hermione was sitting at her table; quill in hand, staring intently at the parchment and softly chewing her bottom lip, a dead giveaway that she was concentrating fiercely.
Thank you for your letter. I think you have chosen a beautiful name for your daughter. As to her second name yes, my name is Hermione; but I do not own the name so you are perfectly at liberty to use it if you wish. I have given the next matter a great deal of thought and I would consider it a great honour to stand as Grace’s Godmother. Thank you for asking me, it is a huge responsibility and I hope I will prove worthy of your trust.
I’m delighted that Grace is able to come home and I agree it will be difficult for you. I wish you all the best and don’t forget my offer of assistance which, of course, still stands. I will also be very happy to attend her ceremony, please let me know where and what time and I will be there. My flue connection is ‘Lea Cottage.’
Thank you once again,
Sending Cyclops on his way she relaxed in front of the TV for the rest of the evening and was considering going to bed, so she was surprised when her owl returned with a reply. She wondered briefly, why she was so eager to read it.
Thank you for agreeing to be Grace’s Godmother. It really means a lot to me. I will be bringing her home on Saturday, the day after tomorrow.
As much as it will be great to have her at home I am so scared that I will screw up somehow. I know so little about being a father, my own father not being the ideal role model. I suppose I would have learned from him what NOT to do. The Nurses at the hospital have taught me to feed and change her so I won’t be entirely helpless. I guess I’m just a bit daunted by the enormity of it all.
She could understand his feeling of being daunted, I would be too she thought. It was an enormous task raising a child, especially alone. She really felt for him and genuinely wished him well.
On Saturday morning when Hermione awoke her first thought was of Draco and what the day held for him. She set about doing her housework and having finished her bedroom and living room walked back into her kitchen to make a cup of coffee when her fireplace flared green and Draco’s head appeared.
“Morning Hermione, I need your help. I don’t think I can get through today on my own. Sorry to sound like a wimp but the responsibility for Grace is scaring me half to death. Please come to St. Mungo’s with me today to collect her. If you agree please meet me there in an hour. I will meet you at the hospital apparition point.”
“I offered to help, Draco, so of course I’ll be there, I just need to shower and change and I’ll see you there.”
“Thanks Hermione, see you shortly.” The flames died. Without further ado Hermione ran upstairs, showered and changed into a fresh white long-sleeved blouse, to hide the Mudblood scar, the handiwork of Bellatrix Lestrange, on her left forearm, and clean blue jeans. Coming back downstairs she drank a quick cup of coffee and prepared to leave for St. Mungo’s. It was a warm summers day so she would not need a coat just a light jacket. Landing at the apparition point she found a smiling Draco waiting as he had promised.
“Hello Hermione, thank you so much for coming. You look very nice this morning.” They shook hands
“Thank you Draco, good to see you too, how are you?” she smiled back at him.
“Well I don’t know about changing Grace’s nappy, I might need someone to change mine.” Hermione laughed,
“I hope you don’t mind if I don’t volunteer for that task.” Draco laughed out loud. Hermione thought she had never seen him look so genuinely happy.
“Come on, Hermione, let’s go, I want you to meet Grace.” They climbed the stairs to the second floor and turned left to the children’s ward. The ward was light and decorated with pictures of animals painted on the walls. There were also pictures of the same animals drawn by children. Seven of the ten beds were occupied. The senior nurse seemed to Hermione to be a little surprised to see them.
“Mr Malfoy, good to see you again. What can we do for you?”
“Thank you Sister Absalom, this is my friend Miss Hermione Granger, we’ve come to take Grace home.” The nurse looked as though Draco had just slapped her face.
“Collect… but she’s already gone. The woman came about an hour ago with your letter of authority.”
“Letter, what letter, I haven’t written any letter regarding the discharge of my daughter. Where is she?”
“She’s not here sir, the woman took her about an hour ago.”
“Are you telling me my daughter has been kidnapped? Draco’s face darkened and his eyes became hard and cold and his fists clenched.
“I’m sorry sir but the letter seemed authentic, so we didn’t suspect anything untoward.” Draco’s shoulders dropped and his composure broke as he turned to Hermione.
“Someone’s got my baby Hermione… someone’s taken Grace… who… I mean why…” He started to sob. Hermione reacted swiftly.
“We have to get help Draco, I’ll go and fire-call… someone.” Someone? Who was she kidding? There was only one person too call. Harry was a senior Auror. He was the obvious choice. She went to the doctors room and threw some powder into the fireplace. “The Burrow” she said and thrust her head into the green flames. “Harry, Ginny, Molly is there anyone there?”
She was relieved when Molly answered, “Hermione, what’s the matter darling?”
“I need to speak to Harry urgently Molly, as quick as you can get him please. Please hurry!” Molly left the room at a run. Even so it seemed like an age before Harry appeared. “Harry there you are, thank goodness. I need you to come to St. Mungo’s right away. Draco Malfoy’s baby has been kidnapped! Please Harry get here as quick as you can, I’ll see you in the children’s ward.”
“On my way Hermione. See you in five minutes.”
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