A/N: Mwahahahaha! I mean...ahem.
Also, trigger warnings for miscarriage and suicidal ideation in this chapter. Jeepers! And for... you know... wrenching out your hearts... a bit...
*Dashes out of the room in search of chocolate*
Tip of My Tongue
When she wasn't drifting in and out of fitful sleep riddled with nightmares, Astoria Greengrass was faced with her mother and the seemingly never-ending pile of Daily Prophet copies. The woman seemed intent on forcing every newspaper from before and during Astoria's mishap under her nose, beginning with the article Astoria had supposedly interviewed for - though she had no memory of doing so - and ending with the most recent copy of the day's Prophet, that reported Draco had returned to work, and the Granger woman had been released from the hospital.
Astoria didn't care.
Or… well… she didn't want to care. She didn't want to think… She didn't want to be alive. She was just so tired. They'd told her she'd lost the baby and Astoria didn't know if she was relieved or saddened. She'd been excited at the thought of having another child – Adrian's child. The prospect of meeting the perfect angel the two of them could only have created had filled her with joy when she'd first found out she was pregnant. After the initial panic, anyway. After rushing to seduce Draco, lest he hear of her affair and seek to do something terrible to her in punishment for her infidelity, of course. And hadn't that just worked out so well for her, she thought bitterly.
Astoria was heartbroken when the Healers had so calmly and clinically, yet compassionately explained that due to the nature of her injuries, she had lost her baby.
Like it was of no more worth than a hairpin or a knut. Like it was something one could simply misplace, the way she might misplace a jacket at a friend's house. How did one manage to lose something inside of them? But the baby was gone. The heaviness pressing on her bladder in recent months was missing. The flutters of life as the baby had begun moving inside of her were no more.
It was gone.
Her baby was gone. Astoria's breath caught on a sob as she stared at the ceiling of her hospital suite long after her mother and sisters had been sent home when visiting hours had ended. She was alone. Mother said Adrian hadn't tried to contact them; not even once. He hadn't stopped by to visit her. Hadn't written. Hadn't done a single thing to indicate that he cared one iota about Astoria.
Of course not.
That wouldn't be in keeping with hiding their affair from his precious wife, now, would it?
Bitterly, Astoria wiped at the tears that leaked from the corners of her eyes. She didn't want to keep living. Not like this. Not when she'd lost everything. They were all gone. Adrian was gone… he wouldn't risk the disgrace of a divorce from someone as glamourous and beautiful as Magdalena. Her baby was gone… though, after all that she'd endured, Astoria supposed it was a mercy that the baby hadn't survived. The types of torture she'd endured, and the curses Dolohov had placed upon her would not have been conducive with having her bring a happy, healthy child into the world. Astoria wished she had died with him.
A boy, her mother had said.
Another sob escaped her, the shuddering breath she drew wracking her emaciated frame with agony. Gods, she was so tired of the pain.
Even Draco was gone, her mother said. She'd asked for him; even pleaded with Narcissa to send for him, but he hadn't come. Not today. Mother said there were divorce papers; that she'd supposedly signed them. The woman had ranted for nigh on an hour about her stupidity to ever sign such a document without consulting them; consulting a lawyer; consulting anyone.
Astoria didn't remember signing them.
She didn't remember giving an interview to Rita Skeeter, either, but according to the newspaper that Mother had forced under her nose, she'd gone on record claiming she'd known about Granger's son; about Draco's affair during their engagement; about Narcissa's frequent visits with the boy; about the money transfer. She couldn't remember any of that. The last thing Astoria could remember from before Dolohov had taken her was feeling like rubbish and lying in a hospital just like this one.
Mother said that had been months ago. She said the Fairy Virus was well on its way to being cured, thanks in large part to Hermione Granger. Mother said that Scorpius had Dragon Pox; that he'd got it during the numerous days and nights he'd spent in close contact with Aurelian Granger. Mother said that while Draco had recuperated in hospital after rescuing her and while Lucius and Narcissa had been interrogated over her plight, it had been Hermione Granger who'd taken care of Astoria's son.
That it'd been Hermione Granger who also came down with Dragon Pox alongside their sons. That it was Hermione Granger, the precious saint, who'd played Mother Teresa to Astoria's baby while she and Draco fought for their lives.
Merlin, Astoria hated her.
Was there anything the wretched woman couldn't do? Hadn't already done, and a hundred times better than anyone else could possibly do it? Hermione Granger perfectly juggled motherhood and a career. Hermione Granger had mastered magizoology and had become a barrister in her free time, despite having a baby so young. Hermione Granger was a Potions Mistress and studying to become a Healer in her off-hours. Hermione Granger was a good mother to her son, even though she hid his father's identity. Hermione Granger cured the Fairy Virus. Hermione Granger cared for children she had no business raising. Hermione fucking Granger and her Merlin cursed fucking sainthood!
Astoria choked on more sobs, her rage palpable but utterly useless while she remained in her hospital bed, barely alive, wishing for death.
She wanted Scorpius, but of course, he was still contagious, and she couldn't even see him. She wanted Adrian, but maybe he didn't love her like he'd claimed to, since there had been no sign of him; no word. She wanted her father, but he was standoffish at best and he was facing financial concerns, Mother claimed, and thus irritated with her for signing divorce papers she didn't even remember existed without consulting him.
She wanted Draco…
Draco had come for her in that wretched place. Draco had fought for her. Draco had been willing to die for her.
Gods, hadn't that been all she'd ever wanted from him? Love? Some sign of affection? Friendship? Something more than a shared son and a shared bed and yet such separate lives?
But he had come.
When she'd been taken, he had come for her.
He'd come even though he knew about Adrian and the affair. He'd come even knowing the baby she carried wasn't his; knowing she'd lied to him about it being his. He'd come even when his Father, surely, would've been insistent that it was best she just disappeared. Draco had come for her when she'd given him a million reasons to leave her to her fate. He'd come for her even when she'd cheated, and she'd lied, and she hurt him. She knew she'd hurt him. She hadn't spent all these years married to the man and watching him like a hawk from some sign – any sign – that he might care for her more than he seemed to without learning his tells and his ticks and how to read his face.
And yet… he had come. He had defied his father and all logic to rescue her.
Surely that had to count for something? Surely, he must love her, after all? Surely… maybe… maybe they could make it work. Maybe they could find their way back to each other. Maybe the divorce mess could be set aside, given her lack of memory and her unwillingness to part with him when he'd done all he could to show her he cared. Hadn't he? Hadn't he come for her? Hadn't he begged her not to die? Hadn't he protected her?
Didn't that count for something?
Had her disappearance left him craving her? Worried him? Sent him hunting with those skills she knew he'd learned at the knee of the very man who'd taught her? It must have. Why else would he have come?
She wouldn't have come for him if their roles and been reversed. When she'd found out about Aurelian and the visits Narcissa made to Granger's place and the money she was sending them, Astoria had never been so angry. Her son's future was threatened by this other woman's bastard boy. Of fucking course it was Hermione fucking Granger who'd had Draco's baby first. Of course, it was. And wasn't she just doing a fine job at being a better mother than Astoria could ever be? With her fancy job, and her poise and her willingness to do whatever it took to protect her son from the world.
That she'd carried Draco's child and not asked for financial restitution just made her that much better, didn't it? Certainly, Narcissa was transferring money to them, but Granger didn't seem to realise. It was clear she only allowed Narcissa into their lives at all at Narcissa's insistence. Wasn't she just so graceful that way?
Astoria sneered at the ceiling.
Her thoughts never ventured from Granger for long, any more. Not since she'd woken up. Not since she'd read the papers and seen that while Astoria fought for her life, Granger soldiered on, fighting two bouts of different magical illness, curing one of them, surviving both and raising Astoria son as though she was already cold in her grave.
Astoria wished she could've been.
She'd tried to end it already since waking.
The Healers had the room enchanted to prevent it. Astoria hadn't forgiven them for that yet. Wretched bastards. Couldn't she have just been allowed to die in peace? Hadn't she suffered enough? Did the universe have to mock her further by reminding her that Hermione Granger was still a better witch than her, despite her filthy muggle blood?
More tears seeped from the corner of her eyes. She wished Draco hadn't saved her. Sure, she didn't have to suffer at Dolohov's cruel hand anymore, but this was almost worse.
Merlin, she wished she could see Draco.
He'd come for her. He's saved her. Protected her. Brought her to safety. He'd almost died for her. Didn't that mean something? Would he forgive her for the affair? Was he ready to start the next chapter of their lives as husband and wife? He must be. He'd saved her when he had every reason to simply leave her to her fate. It couldn't have only been for Scorpius's sake.
That must be it.
Maybe he loved her after all? Maybe he actually cared? Maybe he was cold to her not because he hated her, but simply because she didn't make enough of an effort to show him she loved him too. Maybe she'd let her bitterness over missing Adrian drive a wedge between them. Maybe they could turn things around.
Maybe… maybe… maybe…
Hermione's eyes snapped open in the middle of the night and she frowned groggily, trying to pinpoint what had woken her. Was there someone in the house? Was Aurey out of bed and asking for a glass of water? Did her baby need her?
Sitting up quickly, Hermione squinted into the dark of her bedroom, looking for any sign of her son.
"Granger?" a familiar voice asked, husky with sleep.
A hand smoothed over her left shoulder and Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin, turning quickly and cringing away from the touch instinctively before her mind caught up with her eyes.
"Malfoy?" she asked hoarsely, eyeing the man lying beside her in bed, shirtless and mussed in the moonlight.
"Mmm," he mumbled sleepily. "What's wrong?"
Hermione sighed heavily, putting her head in her hands and rubbing her knuckles into her eye sockets viciously.
"Thought I heard something," she admitted. "Thought it was Aurey, looking for a glass of water."
Malfoy reached for her shoulder again, squeezing it gently.
"Aurey's still in the hospital, love," he reminded her quietly.
Tears welled in Hermione's eyes at the reminder, her heart clenching painfully in her chest, her soul sick with missing her precious boy.
"I just want him to come home," she breathed raggedly.
Malfoy squeezed her shoulder again before he sat up, his arm encircling her shoulders as a sob escaped her.
"Shhhh, Granger," he murmured into her hair, curling her into his bare chest comfortingly. "He's on the mend. I'm sure of it. Both boys will be healthy and safe before you know it. They'll be back here and wreaking havoc in no time, you'll see."
"It's been weeks," she cried into his chest. "Weeks and weeks and they're not getting any better. God, Malfoy, what if they never get better? What it…. What if…?"
She couldn't say it. She couldn't dare give voice to her demons. Not now. Despair clutched at her with greedy fingers, luring her into a crushing embrace that made her throat ache, pressing down on her and making it hard to breathe.
"You can't think like that," Malfoy murmured to her. "You can't. They'll be okay. They're young. They're strong. Fighters, both of them. You know they're both too stubborn to…."
He couldn't say it either and Hermione cried harder, her arms snaking around his ribs and squeezing him. She clung to him; her only life-raft in this sea of fear and agony and despair.
"I can't lose him, Malfoy," she sobbed. "I can't. I won't!"
He squeezed her tighter in return, holding her together, the only thing keeping her from drowning.
"We won't lose them, love," he whispered. "We'll find a damn cure ourselves if we have to. Cured the Fairy Virus, didn't you? You can cure this too."
"No one's… found a… cure… for Dragon…Dragon Pox… in… thousands of years," Hermione hiccupped raggedly, beginning to hyperventilate at the thought of her precious boy succumbing to the illness.
"Ssshhhhh," Draco soothed. "I think you might be overtired. Come on. They'll be okay. You know they will. Why don't we lie back down and try and get some sleep, hmmm? Everything's going to be alright, darling. I promise."
"What if they're not alright? What if…. Gods, Draco, what if they die?" Hermione wailed, burrowing her face into the crook of his neck and struggling to keep from screaming, her whole body aching with missing her son.
"They won't," he promised, and Merlin help her but he sounded so certain. He sounded like he would walk into hell itself and fight whatever demons might try and take their sons.
"I want to hold my baby," Hermione whispered brokenly, heartsore and despairing.
Malfoy only held her tighter, crushing her to him and slowly lying back, bringing her with him, trying his best to soothe her while she cried until she eventually, she cried herself back to sleep.
Draco woke up with a pounding headache and bright morning sunshine beaming directly onto his face.
"Urgh," he grumbled in complaint, attempting to roll over to avoid the vicious ultraviolet rays burning into his retinas right through his eyelids. He grunted again when his attempts to roll over were thwarted by a heavy presence that grizzled unhappily at his efforts.
"Huh?" he frowned, twisting his head as far from the sunlight as he could without cricking his neck before cracking one eye open, squinting into a cloud of brown frizz.
"Nooooo," the thing on his chest protested.
"Granger?" he asked, his throat dry, his mouth parched.
"Sleeeep," she whined, burrowing into his sore shoulder, nuzzling him like she belonged right there pressed against him.
"Urgh," Draco grumbled again. "What time is it?"
"More sleep," she insisted, sounding none too thrilled about being awake.
Draco lifted his head, squinting against the sunlight and spying her alarm clock on her bedside table.
"Shit," he groaned. "I'm going to be late."
She grizzled again.
"Late for what?" she complained when he started to stir, unfurling his arms from around her and beginning to shift beneath her, his hands urging her off him.
"Work," he reminded her. "I went back to work."
"Urgh," she protested.
"It was that or sit around the house and go completely insane," he told her. "Fuck. Why is it so bright in here?"
"Left the curtains open," she pointed out, rolling away onto her back and picking up a pillow, dropping it on top of her head to hide from the bright sunshine bathing the room.
"Thank you for point out the sodding obvious," Draco snarked, his head pounding dully.
Water. He needed water.
"When did you go back to work?" she asked, her voice muffled under the pillow.
"I dunno," he muttered, sitting up and clutching his head, still squinting and trying to make his brain stop thumping. "Lost track of the days. It's all blurring together. Hospital. Home. Hospital. Work. Maybe yesterday? Last week? Who knows?"
"Are you alright?" she asked, lifting the pillow to frown at him.
"Headache," he sighed, leaning his elbows on his knees and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Not enough sleep," she diagnosed.
"Probably," Draco grunted. "Fuck. I'm going to be so late. Need water."
"Bathroom," she suggested, pointing as though he didn't know the way after sharing the shower with her last night.
"You're a right little helper in the mornings," he told her sarcastically.
She blew a raspberry at him from under the pillow.
"Go, if you're going," she said.
"You're not coming?"
"I just got out of the hospital."
"So what?" he said, rising to his feet and stretching impatiently, his back cracking in several places and one of his shoulders giving a dull crunch. "Healthy now, aren't you? Probably do you some good to get back in the office and think about something other than the hospital for a while."
"Don't remind me," she complained, flinging the pillow off herself and pedalling her legs in the blankets, fighting her way free as Draco headed for the bathroom for a glass of water to wash his mouth out and try and drown the headache.
"Helped me. A bit."
"Yeah, that's why you nearly got yourself eaten by a bloody dragon," she scoffed, and Draco heard her feet hit the floor before she groaned, the sound growing in pitch to a little squeal as she stretched fiercely. "Your mind was totally on the hunt and not on the boys. Completely. Dragons are just so tiny, and all. Really difficult to spot. They can sneak right up on a guy when he's stalking through the woods, hunting dragons."
Draco narrowed his eyes at his own reflection, swooshing water around in his mouth to get rid of the nasty taste there before he returned to the bedroom, finding her ferreting around in the wardrobe, still insulting him.
"Oh, what's that? Nothing, just a guy looking for a dragon. Say, Mr giant, fire-breathing lizard, do you think you could hold off on eating me to tell me if you've seen any dragons around here?" she was sneering as she pulled her shirt off over her head, standing with her back to him in just her knickers.
"Granger," he warned, his eyes drinking in the lines of her body and noting the way her vertebrae showed through the skin after the weight she'd lost fighting the illness.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing trying to eat me?" she was still sneering. "I thought you were a rock!"
"Right, that's it!" Draco mutter, striding across the room.
He scooped his arms around her middle, lifting her off her feet.
"Are you mocking me, witch?"
"Oh, don't mind me, I'm just a hungry dragon going to roast you alive. You probably didn't see me," she sneered.
Draco carried her across the room and threw her down on the bed, noting the way she rolled quickly to her back, smirking at him.
"Thought you were going to be late," she challenged, bare-breasted and eyeing him wickedly.
"Oh, I am," he nodded. "But obviously I'm going to have to teach you a little respect, you snarky little wench."
She laughed doubtfully.
"I'm so scared," she taunted, kicking at him playfully when he grabbed at her ankles, meaning to pin her down and ravish her for her cheek.
"You should he," he said, wrestling her into submission when she smacked at him, trying to evade capture.
He pinned her with ease, his headache forgotten when his dick hardened watching her breasts jiggle as she laughed.
"Pffft, scared of Draco Malfoy?" she scoffed. "That'll be the day? What's next? Terrified of my bunny slippers?"
"You're a real piece of work, you know that?" he growled, though he couldn't keep from laughing.
She stuck her tongue out at him as he pinned her wrists above her head, slotting himself between her thighs and leaning over her. Draco laughed, pouncing on the muscle. She was too quick, but that didn't stop him snogging her hungrily, leaning into her warmth and plundering her mouth. She moaned into his kiss, her legs curling around his waist, obviously having gotten him right where she wanted him.
He was going to be incredibly late, but fuck it. He had a point to make. And he would make it. Repeatedly. Until she remembered to respect him instead of sassing him.
When he kissed his way down her neck and over her chest, pausing only long enough to lavish each nipple with tender affection before continuing south and wrestling the trembling witch out of her knickers, Draco rather thought he made his point quite thoroughly.