A/N: What? It's only been eighteen months since the last update, shut up! *throws the chapter at you and scrambles behind the couch*
Give Unto Me
Chapter 12: Hotel Hostilities
By the time they checked into a hotel that night, Hermione didn't even care about the funny looks that the clerk gave them. She was tired and her cramps had kicked in again, her stomach aching dully.
"Where are we, again?" she asked of Draco when he pulled her by the hand into an elevator and pushed the button to take them to the room he'd booked for them.
"Germany," he replied, also sounding tired. It had been a long time since breakfast that morning and Hermione couldn't even count how many countries they'd seen.
"It's lucky you bought that camera," she told him, not even thinking about it as she turned into him and rested her forehead against the middle of his chest, closing her eyes and trying to think straight. "I'm losing track of the number of countries we've seen so far."
"Thirteen," he replied and Hermione felt him drop an absent-minded kiss to the top of her unruly curls. "You're going to need another bracelet at this rate."
Hermione smiled, her fingers fiddling with the many charms hanging from the bracelet he'd purchased for her.
"Are you having fun, at least?" she asked him quietly.
"I am, actually. And you?"
Hermione nodded without lifting her head from his chest.
"Where did you even think of all these things to do? I've wanted to travel the world since I was a girl, but even I hadn't planned anything so inclusive."
"I had a lot of free time as a child," Malfoy answered. "I was allowed to go anywhere I liked, as long as there was a five star hotel where Mother and Father could stay and where they could be seen visiting. I had to learn to distinguish between what was and was not an acceptable holiday destination."
"And you've been taking me to all the ones you didn't get to see as a boy?" Hermione asked, smiling a little without lifting her head.
"Most of them," he drawled back. "A few of them are things I've done before, but I thought you'd enjoy."
Hermione was touched by the sentiment, surprised to find he was actually thinking about her wants and needs. If she was being honest, she'd had a wonderful day with him. He was surprisingly easy to travel with. Whether it was because he had the money to get them the best views, or because he was actually decent company, she couldn't be sure. She'd never imagined she'd enjoy his company, but throughout the day, it'd begun to feel like he was actually her friend. To think that just last week she'd have pitched herself from the Astronomy Tower rather than considering ever jumping into bed with him amused her immensely and Hermione frowned against his chest as she recalled that all too soon she was literally going to have to spread her legs and let him get as close as any two people could.
"Thank you, Draco," Hermione said quietly. She lifted her head from his chest, noticing that his eyes were a little bloodshot, giving away his exhaustion. "You're… making this entire situation a lot less awkward and a lot easier to deal with."
"The perks of being rich, Granger," he grinned.
"Maybe," she nodded, biting her bottom lip. "I just… I was really worried that this would be awkward and you'd be terribly rude and petty and childish like you were in our younger years and so… thank you."
"I was only ever rude and petty and childish because I had a reputation to maintain," he frowned at her in return. "Do you remember when we first arrived at Hogwarts and I introduced myself to Potter?"
"How could I forget?" Hermione raised her eyebrows. "You were horrible to Ron about his tatty clothes and thought Harry would immediately turn on the only friend he'd ever been able to make."
"He refused to shake my hand and didn't want to be my friend," Draco nodded. "Father had given me express instructions to befriend Potter and to try and sway him into being sorted into Slytherin. He thought that a boy who'd managed to defeat the Dark Lord as a tiny baby would be all-powerful and he'd daydreamed about the power we would wield when Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, came to the Manor every Christmas. I was punished for failing. I was punished all the time because of you three, actually.
"Father loathed that a muggleborn like you could consistently outdo someone of my magical pedigree in the classroom. He loathed that Potter and Weasley so often got the best of me, Crabbe and Goyle. He loathed that I had failed to bring him the power and prestige he'd imagined he would get raising Potter as a pseudo son alongside me. And when Potter kept defeating the Dark Lord in his attempts to return every other year, it only compounded on my father's belief that he must be very powerful, and that made him all the angrier with me.
"And so I was rotten to the three of you to make myself look better, and to make myself feel better. You have no idea how often I plotted your demise when you'd outdo me with your grades in class and I'd have to go home and face Father while he clucked his tongue and lectured me on how I was letting down the family and a pathetic excuse for a wizard."
"You were only ever a percentile of a grade behind me," Hermione frowned at him.
"And I heard about it constantly," Draco sighed. "Mine was not a thrilling adolescence, Granger."
Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "I'd apologise, but I'm not sorry," she said. "I liked doing well, and you were a wretched little sod."
"Yeah, well this wretched little sod is going to be your lifeline while you're homicidal and carrying my son or daughter to term. Forgive me for trying to mend bridges and forge a relationship with you that might penetrate your pregnancy induced rage should I fail to bring you pickles in a timely manner just long enough to keep you from murdering me and rendering our child fatherless."
"It won't be that bad," she rolled her eyes.
"You better hope it is," he muttered. "I might not be barmy enough to suggest termination if it's not, but I guarantee that you don't want the shame or the heartache of raising a Squib, Granger."
"There's nothing wrong with Squibs," Hermione narrowed her eyes on him. "They're me, in reverse. My parents would've preferred a perfectly normal, non-magic child, but they got me. And if they hadn't the world might look very different right now."
"It might," he conceded. "But being muggleborn and being a Squib are very different. For you, it was a life of secrets and thrilling adventures. You were the girl who got to go to a school no one else in your family had heard of. You got to see unicorns and mermaids and dragons. It was all something out of a muggle fairtytale, yeah? And if you'd decided you didn't like the magical world, you'd have had the choice to return to the muggle world and seamlessly blend into that side of your heritage."
Hermione nodded in agreement, knowing that was true.
"Being a Squib isn't like that, Granger. Being a squib is being born into a world where you know both the magical and muggle worlds exist, where you're exposed to all the same elements, but you can only ever be a part of the boring one. A squib is someone cursed with having no access to magic of their own, but born to a family who is magical. Imagine, for a minute, if the Weasley's had birthed a squib," he said quietly. "Think of everything you know about Weasley and his ineptitude with the muggle world, and you tell me if a child born to his family wouldn't have suffered, knowing that his siblings were all magical and didn't know how to use a telephone or the Tube. That is the life they're relegated to. Slipping through the cracks of both worlds because they're born to one they can't belong in, and most often left to try and fend for themselves in one they don't understand and have never grasped. A Squib child isn't just left on the doorstep of the muggle orphanages. Most children begin expressing signs of magic early, but some don't until they're eight on even ten. Until that time they'd be raised in the magical world, promised that they'd go to Hogwarts, promised it would all be okay, raised with the knowledge that Floo was the only type of call they'd ever make. Most magical households don't even have electricity, Granger. Squibs suffer because they don't learn until their teenage years how to navigate the muggle world, and even then, they do it poorly."
"Some manage," Hermione frowned, thinking of Mrs Figg and Mr Filch.
"Filch?" he guessed. "Yeah, because he isn't basically slaving away in a position that someone magical could do in a quarter of the time with a flick of his wand. He puts up with rude little brats stuffing gum in the locks and traipsing mud on his freshly mopped floor. That job is the most patronising form of labour for any Squib. Forced into a school where ungrateful shits like Potter and Weasley can't be bothered to do their homework and learn the right spells while he's forced to watch, aching for the chance to be magical and to learn, too, but instead forced to clean up after those same ungrateful shits."
"Not all of them live that way. Mrs Figg doesn't. She lives in the muggle world. She breeds Kneazles, mostly, but she fits in alright."
"She's a crazy-cat lady by muggle standards," Draco corrected.
"Well it's not like there's some solution," Hermione argued with him as the elevator reached their floor – the penthouse suite, apparently. "We can't just…"
"Yeah, actually, we can, and we do," Draco said grimly. "It's considered an embarrassment to birth a Squib, Granger. Most of the families I know were raised with the belief that you don't suffer a Squib to live. Parents who birth one quietly have the problem handled. How they do it is up to them. Some abandon them. Some kill them. More than a few of the purebloods I grew up with had a sibling that 'mysteriously disappeared' when no magic had manifested itself by age ten. It happens more than you'd think. Now, in families like yours, or Potter's, it's no big deal. If the kid has no magic you pass them off to a non-magic relative and they still learn how to be people in their muggle world. But families like mine? Granger, I don't even know anyone who's a muggle. What would I do with a non-magic kid?"
"Make an effort?" Hermione suggested. "The muggle world isn't that complicated. My parents made an effort to understand the magical world when I got my letter. Why don't magical families do the same? Learn to understand the currency, and the Tube system, and electricity, and telephones. Learn about the world the person you've created must inhabit. Surely some do?"
Draco's mouth twisted. "Some do," he agreed quietly. "Just… not anyone I know. People tend to resent it, actually. It's a double-edged blade. On the one hand you keep your Squib kid happy and keep them in your life, but if they've got magical siblings, they might resent the extra effort a parent would go to for the Squib – someone who can't even do magic."
Hermione supposed that could be true, too.
"So the answer is murder?"
"It has been so far," Draco shrugged, setting down their things and picking up the room service menu.
"I won't let you abandon our kid if it comes out a Squib, Malfoy."
"I know," he answered, his eyes lifting from the menu to meet her gaze. "In the unlikely event that such a thing happened and we conceived one, we'd learn to live with it. But that's mostly because you have a grasp of the muggle world. Imagine me stuck with someone like Pansy or Daphne. None of us would even know where to begin to teach that kid about a world we've never set foot in."
"Why aren't there procedures in place for this kind of thing?" Hermione frowned, putting her hands on her hips. "Surely someone would've thought before now that, hey, maybe if we set up an education system to help normalise squibs and magical folk to the muggle world, it wouldn't be such a terrible occurrence for anyone involved if a child is born without magic. There should be a school where squibs learn muggle subjects and those magical ones that they can put to use. There should be a way for them to fit into both worlds – to have the best of either worlds rather than being shunted out of one and into another, or suffering in one they're too scared to leave."
"Why do I suddenly have the feeling that you're going to make it your life's mission to fix that oversight?" Draco asked, frowning at her.
"Because I am."
"This is the House Elf thing all over again, Granger. Some people can't be helped. Some people don't want to be helped."
"You're saying people would prefer to murder their children than help them grow up with a well-rounded education and a family that loves them?" Hermione demanded, putting her hands on her hips.
"I'm saying that families like mine consider it the height of embarrassment for a magical bloodline to produce a non-magical child. It's shameful and scorned over and we're a society that very much cares for the opinions of our peers. Even if you built such a school, you'd never help purebloods from prejudice families. They would still prefer to quietly do away with their mistake than let it be known they'd produced something so shameful."
"It's not shameful."
"It is," Draco sighed, running a hand through his hair and looking away from her fierce expression. "It's shameful, Granger. In an instant where, say, you and I produced one, it's be scorned over quietly by a few, but most families would make an allowance for it because you're muggleborn and the muggle gene is more readily available in your DNA to be passed on. In pureblood matches it means that someone's lying about their heritage and their purity, or it means that as a couple that pair are not magically connected. Marriages have been dissolved over Squibs, Granger. It's a huge deal to some people and nothing you do will ever change that. It might improve things for thousands of kids and their families, but there will still be some who will not take the help you offer. And there will be some who'll resent you for it."
"Your Mother and Father among them, no doubt," Hermione said bitterly.
"Potentially," Draco nodded. "Father, especially, would not take kindly to anyone willingly associating with Squibs. Of course, when he was last lucid he also disdained those who'd ever even interacted with muggles, so while he's fine example, it's probably radical to base the opinions of the many on my Father, alone."
"But he and your mother would not approve the mother of your child willingly associating with squibs."
Draco shook his head. "They might learn to tolerate you, and might even begrudgingly accept that your parents, should their memories be restored, can be a part of the child's life. But they will not like the idea of pushing those limits much further."
"You realise I plan to send our child to both the magical and muggle elementary schools, yes?" Hermione asked him.
Draco sighed. "I suspected you might suggest it. I had a lot of time to contemplate the types of changes I'd be forced to make when you woke and we had to get on with producing an heir for the sake of upholding our contracts."
"Do you object?" Hermione asked.
He shrugged. "Send the kid wherever you want, Granger. If he's as bright as you, you'll end up home-schooling when he outshines the ordinary educational systems in place to teach him."
"And if he or she is as dim-witted as a troll?" Hermione challenged.
"I grew up with Crabbe and Goyle, Granger," he smirked at her. "I know how to use small words. Do you want the pasta or the fish and chips?"
"How can you be thinking about food during a discussion like this?" she demanded.
"How can you not?" he raised his eyebrows. "We barely had anything since that sushi this afternoon. Actually, I wonder if they do sushi here."
Hermione shook her head as he moved over the fireplace and placed a Floo call to the Room Service staff to find out if he could have sushi.
"I'm going to wash," she sighed, realising he had no futher intentions of continuing their discussion this evening.
"Get the water hot, I'll join you," he called over his shoulder absently.
"You'll do no such thing," Hermione scoffed, stopping in her tracks and turning back to glare at him, finding him humming happily to know that though it wasn't on the menu, the chef would be making him sushi for dinner.
"When are you going to remember that four days from now I'll be shooting you full or my spawn, witch?" he raised his eyebrows. "I'll be an awfully awkward sexathalon if you're still blushing over the idea that I might see your bum."
"You're never going to say the word sexathalon to me again, Malfoy," Hermione commanded.
"You can't tell me what to do, Granger. If I want to refer to the notion of shagging you silly for a week straight as a sexathalon, then I bloody well will."
"You won't if you actually hope to be in the bed with me at the time of conception," Hermione huffed.
"Just admit that you want to shag me right now and stop huffing about it, witch," he rolled his eyes. "Are we showering, or not?"
"I'm showering. You can stay here and wait for your thrice cursed sushi to arrive."
"They'll take ages. They have to go to the market for the right ingredients. There's plenty of time for me to seduce you in the shower."
"I'm not showering with you."
"Have you always been a prude?" he wanted to know.
Hermione huffed at him again. "I'm not a prude. I'm a realist. And in the real world people don't just climb into the shower together when they barely know each other."
"Of course they do. It's called a one night stand. Complete strangers shag like bunnies without even getting each other's names. They take their jollies and never speak or see each other again."
"You and I aren't strangers," Hermione pointed out.
"All the more reason," he shrugged.
"You want to show with me?"
"For such a bright witch, you seem to be having real trouble grasping the notion that in four days your body will be receptive to pregnancy. I plan to fuck a kid into you, Granger. And the minute I do, your body is going to change. You'll get fat. You'll get emotional, you'll have puffy ankles and a hairy snatch because your belly will get so big with the kid that you won't be able to see your feet, let alone manoeuver your wand around down there to maintain any kind of grooming ritual. You'll be a right stroppy cow all the time, rather than just most of the time like you are now, and I'll be the one bearing the brunt of it all, suffering your bad moods and your homicidal tendencies and the explosions of random magic and explosions of tears and seeing to the cravings that might literally kill you if I let you have them, and might kill me if I don't. Excuse me if I'd like to enjoy the sight of your body as you are now, before all that mess, so that I'll have something decent to fantasize about when I want to wring your scrawny neck."
Hermione blinked in shock at his diatribe, folding her arms over her chest defensively and not at all liking the sound of any of those things.
"You're an arse," she informed him, unable to think of anything else to say.
"You'll get used to me," he promised, smirking that wretched bloody smirk of his that so irked her. "Now, about that shower…."
Hermione made a noise of frustration at his apparently one track mind before throwing up her hands and stomping into the bathroom without looking back to see whether or not he dared to follow her.