A/N: I've been on a bit of a Dramione kick lately, and this has been saved on my computer forever, waiting to be completed before sharing, but I decided 'fuck it'. I'm sharing. I hope you like it.
Tip of My Tongue
Narcissa Malfoy was a sensible woman. She liked things to make sense and she liked them to be straightforward. She hadn't always been that way, but in the three years since the end of the war, she had discovered she liked things in her life to be uncomplicated.
And so, as she sat at her dining table having a spot of breakfast with her husband and her son before both men would leave for work, she was anticipating a sensible and uncomplicated day. Much like those that had come before it. She most certainly was not expecting the arrival of an unfamiliar screech owl with a small and celebratory bundle of blue balloons.
"Something you need to tell me, dear?" Lucius drawled at her lazily, eyeing the arrival the balloons with some trepidation glittering in his grey eyes.
Narcissa refrained from answering as she plucked the card attached to the bundle from its perch. The front of it read "It's A Boy!" in gaudy and brightly coloured lettering of a truly unfortunate font. She ignored that, however, to open the folded card.
Some time ago you approached me with a request to contact you in the event that a certain circumstance should come to my attention. As you know, it is my job to ensure the proper record keeping of all magical births within the Wizarding world. Many years ago you asked me to notify you if your son, Draco, was ever listed as having fathered a child. As I hope is evident by my parcel, such an occurrence has come to fruition.
My humblest congratulations to you and your family during this special time.
Magical Births Registry and Trace Records Office
Ministry for Magic.
"Narcissa?" Lucius asked again as Narcissa's eyes widened in horror. She crumpled the card quickly, refraining from staring aghast at her son. This was the very last thing they needed. Draco's betrothal to Astoria Greengrass had finally been agreed upon and already the plans for the wedding were well under way.
"Sent here by mistake, I believe," Narcissa lied to her husband smoothly, denying any knowledge of having a grandson. This couldn't get out. They would be ruined. Draco's betrothal; the Malfoys' ticket back in the good graces of pureblood society; all of it could be dashed should this little fact come to light. Drastic measures were in order.
"Oh?" Lucius asked, clearly sensing her tension.
"Zippet?" Narcissa called sharply and a little house elf popped into the room. "Remove these ghastly things from my sight and destroy them."
The elf nodded seriously, taking the balloons and disapparating with a crack.
"Now," Narcissa pasted a smile on her face and hoped her husband wouldn't notice it was less than sincere. Her son – the current cause of her horror – was glancing between the pair of his parents curiously. "Tell me about the day you both have planned?"
She worked hard to change the subject.
"The usual for me, Mother," Draco shrugged his shoulders. "Hopefully there will be some exciting report of some creature sighting that needs to be dealt with or some new species discovered that I'll need to capture samples for to give to the Lab."
Narcissa eyed her son carefully. Since the war, he'd completed his NEWTs and entered into a Ministry position in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures office. Narcissa hadn't been overly surprised by the choice of career for her son. Since his third year at Hogwarts when he'd been savaged by that Hippogriff, Draco had learned a good many things about magical creatures and how best to avoid antagonising them.
The only surprise she'd had to deal with was the fact that it seemed her son and Miss Granger shared an interest in magical creatures, though for wildly different reasons.
"By 'the lab', I assume you mean Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood, along with their band of study-minded drones?" Lucius drawled from the other end of the table.
"Not this week," Draco shook his head. "Lovegood's away on an extended study venture in the Americas and Granger's been on maternity leave for the past month."
"Maternity leave?" Narcissa asked sharply. "I don't recall you ever mentioning that Miss Granger was with child?"
"No one knew," Draco nodded. "She strolled into a work a month ago and requested maternity leave. We all had no clue she was even pregnant. She's been the same as ever, could barely even tell she had a bun in the oven, what with those frumpy clothes she tends to wear. Eight months pregnant and she merely looked like she'd pushed a flattened Quaffle up her shirt. It was like she just popped out to being pregnant overnight. I didn't believe her. Made her actually show me that it was her pregnant stomach and not some charm. That little sprog inside her kicked my hand when I touched her to confirm it wasn't a glamour, the bastard."
Narcissa felt dread pooling in her stomach and her heart had begun to race. No. Surely not. This couldn't be. Her suspicions must surely be false. Surely?
"Did she mention who the father was?" Lucius asked curiously, ever on the lookout for information he might use to later blackmail someone. "I was under the impression from the papers that she and Weasley went their separate ways almost a year ago."
"Yeah, they did," Draco nodded, "But she wouldn't tell me who was bonkers enough to climb into bed with all that hair. Don't think she rightly knows who the father is, to be honest. Or if she does, she's certainly not sharing it with the likes of me."
"Are you suggesting she's a trollop?" Narcissa asked, eyeing her son in the hopes that he would confirm the notion. That he would dash all ideas that she had coincidentally learned of the birth of her grandson and of Hermione Granger's pregnancy on the very same morning.
"Never known her to be," Draco shrugged again. "But someone had to shoot that quaffle through her hoop."
Lucius began to laugh at his crudeness.
"Must you be so crass, Draco?" Narcissa asked.
"Sorry, Mother," her son apologised, though his smirk suggested he was far from sincere.
"What about you, my dear?" Lucius asked her. "What do you have planned for your day?"
"I'm feeling the need to have my nails done," Narcissa answered smoothly, rather enjoying the sly smile her husband and her son shared. They knew she was curious about Miss Granger's pregnancy and believed she would be seeking gossip on the topic. Which she would. But it certainly would not have anything to do with simpering fools who liked to pass on titbits of information over a French manicure.
"I'm sure that will be lovely, darling," Lucius purred at her, getting to his feet as he finished his breakfast. "Do let us know all about it this evening, won't you? Draco, my boy, we'd best be going or we'll be late."
Draco nodded and Narcissa rose as well, kissing her son's cheek before kissing her husband's lips and bidding them both a lovely day. As soon as they left the house, Narcissa Malfoy flew into a frenzy. Dressing hurriedly, she was on her way to St Mungo's hospital within the hour. She had not returned to the maternity ward of the hospital since she'd delivered Draco more than twenty years ago, but Narcissa remembered the way.
She scanned the hall quickly, her eyes coming to rest on Room 14, where the name Granger was spellotaped to the chart outside the room. Narcissa listened cautiously before entering, ascertaining that there was no one inside who might hear her questioning the new mother. Stepping carefully into the room, Narcissa locked and warded the door, silencing the room to keep from being overheard.
Hermione Granger lay in the bed with her newborn babe cradled in her arms. Narcissa's eyes leapt to the baby, a boy, barely registering that Miss Granger was in the process of coaxing the child to breastfeed.
"I'll be with you in just a moment…." Miss Granger called cheerfully, clearly not at all concerned by the interruption or fearful of being caught with her breast exposed for the purpose of feeding her son. Begrudgingly, Narcissa rather admired her courage.
When the new mother managed to get her little tyke to latch onto her breast and begin to suckle she looked up with a welcoming smile that died instantly at the sight of her visitor. What little colour she had in her cheeks drained away and Narcissa felt a sense of dread begin to pool in her stomach.
"Miss Granger," Narcissa nodded her head in greeting, standing tall and stalking a few paces closer.
"Mrs Malfoy?" the new mother asked, looking fearful. The sudden blush in her cheeks told Narcissa everything she needed to know. "Not meaning to be rude, madam, but what are you doing here?"
"I was rather hoping to hear the story about how you came to be nursing my grandson, Miss Granger," Narcissa replied evenly and the girl looked faint.
"You… how do you… I mean, I never told…" she stammered nervously. She looked a frightful mess. Her hair all in a tangle of curls and her eyes slightly sunken from the strains of pregnancy and birth
"You confirm then, that Draco is your son's father?" Narcissa asked, straightforward and in no mood for nonsense. This was not turning out to be at all like the simple and uncomplicated day she'd planned on that morning from the warmth of her featherbed.
"Please don't tell anyone," the girl begged, her eyes wide and horrified. "I've not told a soul the truth."
"You don't wish to make some claim to the Malfoy fortune?" Narcissa asked, frowning now.
"No," the girl shook her head vehemently. "I don't want any trouble, Mrs Malfoy. I know Draco's betrothed to Astoria and the last thing any of you wants is some interloper with his spawn showing up and destroying things. I don't want anyone to know Draco is Aurelian's father. I've not told a soul. Not even Draco knows."
"Do tell how you came to be pregnant with my son's child without his knowledge?" Narcissa asked, a small sense of relief coursing through her at the girl's panic and her obvious fear of having anyone learn her child was Draco's son. Narcissa – while insulted on her son's behalf – understood the girl's concern. The types of people she associated with would not be welcoming of the son of Draco Malfoy.
"Well, there was that charity do at the Ministry nine months ago," Miss Granger replied, blushing crimson. "And you see, I'd broken up with Ron three months prior, and we'd not seen much of each other. He turned up that evening with a new woman on his arm and I'm afraid I took it rather badly. I had a little too much champagne and well… Draco and I work together, as I'm sure you know, and naturally he was in attendance as well. He was rather upset about his impending nuptials to Astoria, actually. He had a few too many as well and… I don't know how it happened, really."
The girl blushed crimson to be having such a discussion with her and Narcissa sighed. She recalled Draco had been rather put out over having to marry around that many months ago. He wasn't thrilled with the prospect of an arranged marriage and though he had since settled somewhat about it, Narcissa knew he'd been devastated by the idea of an arranged betrothal. She suspected he'd hoped to find a loving marriage like the one she shared with Lucius.
"Anyway, I woke up in his townhouse in London early the next morning and I panicked," Hermione went on with her story. "I knew he'd had too many to remember what we'd done, so I just grabbed my things and ran. I saw him at work the following day – mortified as I was – and he showed no signs of recollection so I breathed a sigh of relief. And then two months later I discovered I was pregnant. Having not been with anyone but Draco since I'd broken things off with Ron, it wasn't hard to work out who Aurelian's father must be."
Narcissa sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration. This was not at all how she'd planned to spend her day and most certainly not how she'd hoped to learn of the conception and birth of her first grandchild.
"You have no intention of telling Draco?" Narcissa asked bluntly.
"No," Granger shook her head vehemently. "I mean no offence, Mrs Malfoy, but no one can know who his father is. Aurelian will have enough trouble having only a single mother, but he will be even less accepted by my lot if they know Draco is his father. I know your family has been working to put things to rights, since the war and all, but well…"
"Indeed," Narcissa agreed, needing no further explanation that the likes of the Weasley clan were hardly going to be thrilled with the girl for having broken up with their son and promptly gotten herself pregnant at all, let alone pregnant with the next Malfoy heir.
"There is also the betrothal between Draco and Astoria to consider. He might've been put out about it months ago, but I don't want to upset things and my understanding is that he's come to accept the arrangement. And I've met Astoria – she's a lovely woman, albeit a little cold… I'd hate to upset anyone over this. I considered, you know, handling the problem, but the idea has never sat well with me. When I didn't miscarry I… well, I took it as a sign," Granger told her, frowning with concern. "You're not going to tell Draco, are you?"
"No, Miss Granger, I have no intention of informing my son that he is unknowingly a father. I came here intent on confirming my suspicions and on buying your silence."
"Oh, that won't be necessary," she shook her head. "But how did you know?"
"Many years ago, a contact of mine in the Births Registry office was paid off to ensure no such surprises would escape my notice," Narcissa waved her fingers at the frivolous details. "She wrote to me this morning congratulating me on the birth of my grandson."
"Oh no! I forgot about the Trace registry," Granger despaired, her eyes going wide with fear. "Oh, how am I to keep the truth from my friends if they can access the registry? They're public record, anyone can view them."
"Leave that to me," Narcissa smiled tightly. "In the meantime, what are we to do about this?"
Narcissa found her eyes straying to the little boy in Granger's arm. He already had a head of thick, curly blond hair in the brightest shade of white. So bright in fact that he appeared almost to glow beneath the hospital lights.
"Oh, I suppose I ought to introduce you," Granger blushed. "He is your grandson, after all. Narcissa Malfoy meet Aurelian Nicholas Granger."
"Aurelian?" Narcissa asked recognising the name of a star and shrewdly watching the girl. Anyone with half a brain knew that those belonging to the Black line named many their children after constellations and historical figures and deities. And Miss Granger certainly had more than half a brain. While the name didn't relate to a constellation, it was a name with historical significance.
"I know," Granger shrugged. "It's a little unorthodox, but I've always liked the name."
"Indeed," Narcissa said again, privately approving the idea of her first born grandson bearing a name befitting his bloodline – even if he was just a half-blood. "I have your word then, that this will not get out? You will not come seeking anything of my son and foiling his betrothal? You will not demand he be a part of Aurelian's life?"
"Mrs Malfoy, if I have my way, I will take this secret to the grave," Miss Granger informed her sternly. "As it is, I would very much appreciate you keeping it to yourself."
"I'm particularly good at secrets, Miss Granger," Narcissa smiled slyly then. "In any case, I will handle the mess at the Registry. It has been magically inputted that Aurelian is the son of Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy. I will appropriate those records for safe-keeping and modify the memory of my contact there. You will take these and raise my grandson properly."
"I can't accept your money, Mrs Malfoy," the girl protested, eyeing the bag of Galleons with distaste and Narcissa knew then that the girl was indeed going to be true to her word. She would not seek out money or recognition from Draco for Aurelian. The idea insulted her.
"Very well," Narcissa answered, privately planning to stop by Gringotts and ensure that money was deposited into Miss Granger's vault for her silence and for the purpose of properly raising Narcissa's grandson.
"Oh, bugger!" the girl suddenly exclaimed, lurching out of the bed and Narcissa, who'd been about to make her exit, turned back to her, concerned.
"Could you hold him for just a minute?" the girl was babbling. "The birth wasn't conducive to my bladder at all."
Before Narcissa could protest she found her arms cradling her tiny grandson while his mother rushed to the bathroom. Narcissa looked down into the sleeping face of the small boy, and she was loathe to admit that her heart melted as it hadn't since she'd first held Draco. Narrowing her eyes in the direction of the bathroom over the sly move, Narcissa realised now that she had no choice.
She would be in her grandson's life. Even if he was the illegitimate son of Hermione Granger and her Draco. Even if he was a half-blood. Even if he might never be properly recognised as a Malfoy heir. Narcissa lifted the tiny bundle higher, breathing in the scent of newborn babies and feeling her heart wrap around the child completely.