A/N: Ok first off let me say I'm sorry. This chapter was supposed to be the very, very last one. But it just got so long (yeah I know my chapters aren't novel length), but I was trying to fit too much into what I thought should be two chapters, and as I kept getting pleas for the next chapter, I thought OK FINE! I will split the last part into two chapters and swear on my life that the next chapter will be the final chapter, except of course for the epilogue.
I originally had a lot more to say here, but I will save that for the final chapter. Sorry for the wait. Forgive me for all that needs forgiving. And sorry to those who asked me to e-mail them and I didn't. I couldn't because either I didn't get your full address, or my e-mails never got through. I do try.
Lullaby and Goodnight
"Ron?" Surprised, Hermione flung her arms around her old school friend's neck. "What in Merlin's name are you doing here, what about Hogw…"
Dropping his bags, Ron wrapped his arms around Hermione's frail trembling body. He could feel her shaking beneath his embrace. She began to cry into his chest, gulping for air.
Lately any attempt at sympathy would set Hermione off. She was on the tip of every emotion, all which seemed to have swelled to capacity inside her. Ron didn't need to say anything to her; the fact he was there, supporting her, meant everything, and said all that needed to be said.
The two school friends stood embraced in Hermione's sorrow and pain. The door way remained blocked. Ron's bags lay sprawled on the doorstep, uncared for.
"Severus told me it was okay to take a leave of absence and come and see you," Ron said, answering Hermione's unfinished question.
Pulling away, Hermione's blood shot eyes scanned Ron's freckled face, "Severus is it now?" She smiled and gave a half laugh, a few tears sliding off her face.
Affectionately, Ron ruffled her hair, "As a fellow professor, I have the right to call him by his first name."
With a quick scan of the viewable hallway, Ron lowered his voice. "How's Draco?"
As if on cue, Draco appeared in the hallway. "I'm fine," he lied dryly. Draco was pale, more so than usual. Snow could not compare to the white that infected him. A man who had once been so strong, stood before the two friends now looking as low and weak as could ever be dreamed.
His clothes seemed to struggle to remain secure on his thin body. Draco had always been one to wear dark colours, black and greys, but the shades of grey he dawned now made him look old, his blonde hair looked whiter, now that its old gleam had matted over.
"Thank you for coming, professor, let me take your bags." Draco's voice was too foreign for comfort; Ron scowled at him as he observed the droopy effect Draco's monotone voice and lifeless features had upon him as he reached down to pick up Ron's luggage.
Hermione avoided contact with Draco, both eye and physical. And Draco did the same. Even though they still lived in the same house, shared the same bed, Hermione and Draco could barely be in the same space as one another. The air between them might as well have been a brick wall.
Since Professor Snape's visit, they had barely said two words to each other. Hermione was living in fear for her son's life. Draco was blaming himself. And somewhere inside Hermione's heart, she was blaming herself and him too.
"Whatever happened to Weasley?" Ron demanded, his voice full of humour, sinking into the tense fog of emotion that filled the hallway.
"Thank you for coming," Draco repeated dryly. "I really appreciate it."
Suddenly Ron's freckled hand gripped Draco's skeletal arm. Looking up, both men stared into each others faces. In Hogwarts Ron would have liked nothing more than to have snapped his enemy's arm in two, but now he was the father of his best mate's son and as much as he hated to admit it, Draco was also becoming a friend.
Draco's eyes were a lost mist of grey, hurt and drowned in silent, invisible tears.
"What happened to Weasley?" Ron demanded again, his voice harder, all humour lost.
Draco didn't even try and remove himself from Ron's grip. His hand still remained outstretched towards the redhead's luggage. "Professor, my son and your niece have been attacked, I would think this isn't the time for…."
"Screw it, Malfoy!" Ron yelled, his grip on Draco's arm tightening. "Get over yourself! This isn't you. You are not some stupid worm who sits back and feels miserable for himself- you're the prince of fucking Slytherin, for Merlin's sake! Draco Malfoy, show off, big head, rich pansy little Daddy's boy!"
Suddenly Draco was free of Ron's grip and Ron was on his back. Draco's fist was clenched into a ball. Draco was furious, the first signs of real emotion coming through his skin. Blotches of red blazed behind his grey sunken eyes.
"I am none of those things Weasley, I am nothing! Nothing, you hear me!" Striding straight over Ron and past Hermione and out the door, Draco left the house and vanished out of sight.
"Draco!" Hermione yelled after him, but he didn't turn around.
Ron sat up, rubbing his cheek where Draco had landed one hell of a blow. Hermione turned to look at him. "I'm so sorry. Ro….Why are you smiling? Doesn't that hurt?" Hermione knelt besides him, her face full of worry and concern for her friend.
Ron smiled. "Yeah, it does." Hermione jumped to her feet.
"I'll go get some ice…" And off she dashed in a frenzy. Ron got to his feet. Turning, he looked off in the direction Draco had stormed off in.
It was a start!
"Ow, ow, ow! But I thought they already searched the manor?"
Hermione nodded. "They have, from top to bottom. Twice! But they haven't found anything…" Hermione's hands trembled as she took a seat opposite Ron, who was nursing his cheek with a bag of frozen peas. He hadn't mentioned to her that a simple freezing or healing charm would sort him out.
Hermione was trying her best to remain tear-free. She clasped her trembling hands together, tighter with each word. This effort was all she could do to stop herself from losing it completely.
Ron's eyes surveyed her deeply. He had never been that good with helping those in trouble; that had been Harry's field. But his position of Gryffindor's head of house had forced him to learn, to deal with and help those in need, or seeking guidance.
He sat opposite his second best friend, searching for the best words to help her while nursing the peas against his raw and numb cheek.
"They think he might be apparating between the Mal...Malfoy family homes, so he can remain untracked. But there's no evidence he's been at any of the Malfoy homes, country, town or manor…" Hermione seemed to be choking on her own words.
As Ron watched her hands forcibly stopping the blood flow to one another, her raw red eyes burning with tears, he realised what Hermione needed was not someone giving her comforting words, or wisdom… she needed an outlet!
Slowly, placing the frozen pea bag on the coffee table, he slid off his chair and knelt before her. "Hermione?"
"Hmmmm?" She hiccupped, and a tear fell down her already sore cheeks. Ron pulled her into an embrace, vaguely hearing the sound of the front door opening and closing but paying it no heed. Wrapping his strong freckled arms tightly around her small body, she burrowed her face into his torso.
"Let it out, 'Mione." He murmured, feeling her sorrows wash onto him. Her tears began to swell in his eyes, as he began to share her pain. She began to shake violently against him. Her pain was bursting through her body at the seams, as though she was one of Eli's old toys.
share her pain. e burrowed her fae into his torso.
"Go on cry, yell, scream, just let it out, 'Mione!"
"I… I… I HATE HIM!" Hermione yelled, not emerging from Ron's chest, so the full pain of her words hit him hard in the heart. "Ron I hate him! I hate Draco so damn much! It's his fault, it's all his fault! He should have just left us alone! Why did he have to come back and ruin my life again, and Eli's? Why couldn't he have just stayed away! Lucius is doing this to punish Draco, so why do Eli and I have to suffer? Draco wanted nothing to do with us and he left us alone and now…Eli doesn't even want Draco as his father, he wants Victor- Draco is just some stupid blonde band boy from the television, he's nothing to Eli…."
As Hermione took a gulp of air, the stairs in the hall way creaked, unnoticed, as though someone had got to their feet and taken up the stairs.
Pulling back, Ron cupped Hermione's face in his hands, wiping away her tears with his thumbs. "Ok...so do you want me to tell Draco to move out?"
"No!" Hermione suddenly looked even more scared, "No!"
"But you hate him? So does Eli right?" Ron raised his ginger eyebrow in mock confusion. Hermione, suddenly began to look more terrified, "He can't Ron, if Draco left then…."
"…Draco is just some stupid blonde band boy from the television, he's nothing to Eli…"
Draco stood up slowly. His entire body had gone oddly numb! Hermione hated him? But….
He hardly noticed his body carry its self up the stairs, in defeat of everything.
What had happened to him? The once great and powerful Slytherin prince. It was like someone had taken the story of his life and re-written it into a cruel and twisted fairy tale. He had lost everything. His heart had died, yet he still walked the streets.
"I… I… I HATE HIM!"
The house was eerily quite. Ron had left early evening to go stay at his sister's house, to console and comfort the second of his best friends.
There was no sound anywhere to be heard. The house was eerily quiet, there was not a sound anywhere to be heard, the taps didn't drip water in their usually annoying fashion, and even the electrical muggle items seem to forget to give off their usual irritating low buzz. And most importantly of all; Eli's midnight cries where missing from the night's air.
As Draco rolled over on to his side, unable to sleep, he would have given the world to even hear his son cry out Krum's name.
Reluctantly he opened his eyes to a flood of moonlight, seeping in through a crack in the curtains. It seemed alien to have such a beautiful forgiving entity in a room stained by ugly and misshapen affections.
Hermione lay asleep beside her fiancé. Body turned away from him, eyes brought defensively to her chest. Her hair curled protectively across her shoulders. Draco watched her breath soundlessly. Her chest rising and falling, in a perfect rhythm.
"I hate him, I hate Draco!"
Carefully, so as not to wake up the sleeping beauty, Draco laid his hand upon Hermione's bare shoulder. She was warm to the touch, but the reaction through Draco's vain was as though ice poured through each atom of blood, freezing him at the heart. She didn't wake.
Slowly and carefully, Draco edged towards her, wrapping his arms around her frame, and with the greatest of care, rolled her over on to her side so that her sleeping eyes faced him in the moonlight.
He released her.
For a while, he just lay staring at her. Nothing connecting them together, nothing holding them. But he wanted to hold her. He wanted to take her up in his arms and take away the pain that he inflicted upon her.
Slowly, once more, he shifted across into her side of the bed, invading her space, to be close to his hearts pain.
He laid one arm above her head, and embraced her lovingly with the second.
"I love you, Hermione." He whispered softly. His words breathed across her sleeping face, targeting her dreams. Her lips twitched, unnoticed.
"I'm sorry I've let you down again," he continued, "you're right, this is all my fault. Lucius is out to get me. I betrayed him and the family blood. I stopped being the perfect pureblood son he wanted me to be after Mother died. I don't think I ever really wanted to be his idea of pureblood, I just wanted to have fun, you know. To be powerful, and respected yes, but to have fun. But I guess power and respect took over, and Lucius wrapped me inside his world.
Then I met Potter. I was really jealous of him, still am for that matter, everyone loved and worshipped him. Before Hogwarts, Mother and the house elves used to be the only ones who loved me at all in any way. And then in Hogwarts I had no one. Just my cronies." He laughed at the memory, "You remember those two blundering dunderheads, and Pansy, Zabini, all of those Neanderthals I called friends. I don't think I can even remember when we all changed from school friends, to business associates. But we were so trapped in the world our parents had strikingly laid out before us."
Hermione didn't move, even as Draco twirled her hair between his finger and thumb. He knew Hermione couldn't hear him and was lost in her dreams, it was okay. He wouldn't have been able to confess all this to her waking self. And after tonight, would probably never have the chance to confess anything to her ever again.
"Drinking that stupid love potion was the best mistake I've ever made. I never thought I could love anyone, in the way I love you. You know you were always the lowest of scum to me. A mudblood thinking she could rise to the level of us purebloods, always thinking you were better than us. When in truth, that was fact. You were, are better than all of us. You're kind, smart and funny. I don't know why Weasley or Potter didn't snatch you up straight away. And I can't believe they let me have you. Merlin knows I don't deserve you.
I'm sorry I made you fall in love with me. I'm sorry I had to lead you on so many times. I'm sorry I ruined your life over and over again. You would really have been so much better off without me; I ruined your last year of Hogwarts, your reputation, your career plans, job prospects, and your marriage to the duck man. I'm sorry I took your life away."
Kissing her forehead tenderly, Draco finally released his grip on Hermione's. Softly she let out a moan, and shifted further into the bed sheets. "But now I'm going to get you our son back, and then you'll never have to see me again. I'll walk out of your life forever and I promise you, that you will never have to see, hear, or in anyway sense me ever, ever again."
Hermione opened her eyes.
Softly he slid from under the covers and stood in the ray of moonlight let in by the curtains. Unknown to him Hermione gazed up at him, her eyes hidden by a slight shadow.
Draco was no longer looking at her. He had said his goodbye. If he didn't go for this now, he would never be able to leave her, and would forever cause her pain that she did not deserve from him.
He dressed, with his back to her, unaware of her brown eyes watching him, a tear falling to the pillow adding to the stain of grief the pillow had already endured.
She followed his movements painfully.
With each movement he made, no matter how trivial, Draco made sure not to look back at Hermione. He dressed quickly and gracefully, careful not to make a sound. His wand lay at his bedside. Once retrieved; he gave it a small flick, and all his clothes disappeared from Hermione's wardrobe.
Beneath the sheets Hermione clutched the mattress to stop the pain.
Breathing deep, Draco took his steps to wards the door. Each step caused him great pain.
"I HATE HIM!"
He kept moving. Once out the door he moved faster, faster before he changed his mind and ruined the rest! He couldn't risk apparating just yet; the noise would undoubtedly wake Hermione.
The window in Eli's bedroom was open. A soft breeze circled around searching for forgotten joy to rekindle the room's heart with. As it curved across Eli's birthday presents and old toys, blowing away the dusk in its path it came across an item of immense love and happiness.
As Draco started to descend the stairs he remembered Hermione's engagement to him. He couldn't let her marry him now. He had failed her, and she deserved better. With the slightest of glances back up the stairs, Draco sighed inwardly.
"Accio ring." Hermione cried softly as the engagement ring from her finger, slid gently from her possession, and flew gracefully out through a crack in the door down to the open hand of her lost love.
With a sharp turn Draco found himself, staring back up the stairs. What was that sound?
It was coming from Eli's room. His heart jumped inside him. "ELI!" quick as a snitch Draco raced back up the stairs and flew into his youngling's room. He searched wildly and frantically for the source of the sound, not taking in fully what it was.
Eli's bears watched Draco with involuntary concentration, as he took strides around the room circling closer and closer to Eli's crib, desperately seeking out the noise.
"It's not Eli!" Draco looked up Hermione was stood in the door frame. His plan had been foiled. She had caught him.
"Hermione go back to bed…"
"So what," she glared, "so you can sneak out without me noticing, so you can run away again, and leave me broken!"
"I'll break you more if I stay."
"I'll kill you!"
Hermione stared bewildered, "Is that a threat?"
"It's a Malfoy guarantee." He lowered his gaze, "Hermione if I stay with you, I'm putting you in danger, I'm the son of evil remember, the spawn of bad magic itself. I've done nothing but ruin your life since day one! You would have been better off if I had just joined the death eaters and been killed in the war!"
Anger rose inside him, smothering his fear and replacing his love with hate.
"Why didn't you just send me away? Why were you so stupid as to let me destroy everything that is good in your life? Why Hermione? Answer me, woman why? Why? Why where you so fucking foolish?"
In one movement Draco found his anger subsiding, as pain took him in the cheek. Hermione was no longer in his vision. His gaze had been forcibly moved to the left. Eli's crib engulfed his swollen vision.
Hermione lowered her hand, "because despite what everything, despite what you were, have been and have the potential to be, I love you."
"SHUT UP AND FUCKING LISTEN TO ME!" Hermione yelled with such force the room shook. "When I'm talking to you Draco Malfoy, you will bloody listen. I am not finished with you just yet, and you will hear me out, even if I have to forcibly make you, do I make myself clear?"
Draco nodded slowly.
"Right," she continued, her figure frightfully forceful, despite the few inches of height Draco held over her, "You have not ruined my life. I don't care what you think. You gave me Eli! And I love him. I have never regretted having him. He is our son, and I love him so much. Just as I loved and still love you. I don't care anymore, how he came about, how young I was, how young you, we WERE. I don't even care that you left for three years.
I care that you came back Draco. You came back to us, to me. You stole my heart once again, saved me from evil, and loved me. And you love Eli. I don't care about the stupid Slytherin who picked on me and made me miserable. Accio ring!"
Her engagement ring flew from Draco's grip and back to her. She held it out before him, "I care about the man who I'm going to marry, when we get our son home safe and sound."
As Hermione's thunder subsided; the room was left still once more. Draco stood staring admirably at a heavily fire-breathing Hermione, who still stood with the engagement finger resting on her palm before the two of them.
As the chaos died, Draco could hear the wind's tune playing. The noise had been the mobile lullaby above Eli's crib. A present Draco had made, in memory of Eli's grandmother. The tune was that of a lullaby Narcissa would sing or hum softly to Draco, when his father had forced them; scared and afraid into hiding or just plain fear. It was tune of comfort and warmth that Draco wanted to pass down to his son, honouring the grandmother he would never know.
"Hermione….I…." He shook his head. "You know you deserve better?"
"I don't want better," Stepping forwards she placed the ring back on herself, "I want you!"
A wave of relief spread over them both. Even in this darkness they both sensed their future, and no matter how slim it may be, no matter how dim, they both understood, together there was a chance.
"Hermione I lo…. THE LULLABY!"
Hermione blinked, "Pardon?" Draco was suddenly frantic again. A manic smile had spread across his face. And he was wild!
"The lullaby, the lullaby, of course, the lullaby, where else would he go…Oh of course." He was dancing gleefully around the room, with such renewed energy that Hermione would have to dodge his every other step, "The lullaby of course!"
"Draco what's going on? What about the lullaby?"
Suddenly Draco stopped. Turning to Hermione he grasped her firmly by the shoulders, "I know where our son is!"
A/N: Oh Gods you have no idea how good I feel at 10:42pm Sunday night to have just finished this chapter. So many people have to be thanked for this. Everyone who still reviewed me, those of you who stayed awake for 4 hours reading the other 32 chapters and reminding me that I had a story to finish!
To be honest I nearly gave up. My writing style has evolved so much from the start of chapter one.
I wanted this to be the last chapter, but then again I wanted 20 chapters back to be the last chapter. I'm never going to get over how much people seem to like this story.
Special thanks to Jackie for constantly pestering me to keep writing. And to Kili for promoting me and bugging me every time I was on MSN.
Sorry for keeping you waiting, you're going to still have to wait for chapter 34, but I promise that's the last chapter before the epilogue, no matter what 34 is THE END.
If you wish to e-mail me or talk to me, my e-mail address will be publicly displayed on my F.F user profile, so just send me an e-mail; I will try and reply to all of you!
Love you all plenty. Miss Blacki Niwa xxx
Love you all plenty.
Miss Blacki Niwa