Red Tartan Shirt

Author: Merry1978
Beta-reading: unbetaed. If you notice any mistakes, please don't hesitate to mention them in a review.
Rating: Gen
Paring: Hermione Granger and...
Genre: General
Disclaimer: HARRY POTTER, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. © 2001.
Summary: ICQ can be very useful sometimes. Are you always sure you know whom you are talking to?
Warnings: AU (canon 1-4), a bit OOC

O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give.

W. Shakespeare, Sonnet XIII

x x x

One very sad Hermione Granger was sitting in her bedroom in a small flat in the outskirts of muggle London. She was looking at two children, boy and girl of about eight years old, sleeping in her bed. She would spend the night on the sofa in the sitting room and tomorrow... well, she would think of it tomorrow.

She left the bedroom and softly closed the door, then automatically went to her desk and turned on her notebook. She just sat there looking absently at the screen, then stood up again and went to the kitchen to pour herself some brandy.

When she returned to the computer an orange ICQ window was already cheerfully winking at her.

"Oh, Luc. Dear old Luc," she thought.

Luc (9:03 PM): Hi.

Mione (9:03 PM): Hi.

Luc (9:04 PM): You haven't been here for a week. Did something happen?

Mione (9:04 PM): It did. Ginny is dead.

Luc (9:04 PM): Oh, Merlin. Sorry, I didn't know. I usually don't keep an eye on your news. My condolences.

Mione (9:05 PM): There was an explosion in the laboratory where she had been working...

Luc (9:05 PM): Damn. Let me guess. Some DE that your aurors can't still catch are to blame.

Mione (9:05 PM): Strangely, but no. It seems to be an accident. At least it's what they say.

Luc (9:06 PM): And what is going to happen now?

Mione (9:06 PM): Nothing. I've taken the twins. They are sleeping in my bed and I'm drinking brandy and whining and grumbling to you.

Luc (9:07 PM): You are always welcome. I just don't understand why it has to be you. Ginny was not alone, was she? And I thought she had quite a big family.

Mione (9:10 PM): Ginny was single. She went out with Colin for some time but it ended soon. As to her brothers... That git Percy stopped talking to her eight years ago. It has been three years since Bill went to India. Charlie and his wife are both in China. Besides, they've got too much kids of their own and not nearly enough money. Fred and George are just the same. I wouldn't let them keep a kitten, not only a child! And Ron... Ron is always ready to help but... he just doesn't like them. Nobody wants Malfoy's kids, don't you see?

Luc (9:11 PM): No, I don't.

Mione (9:15 PM): Sorry. I keep forgetting you are not British. When we went to school that blond piece of shit was the most rotten person from all four Hogwarts Houses. Unfortunately he was also one of the most handsome boys. Gin was crazy with her crush on him but everyone else hated him. They dated for a while, then he dumped her... and a month later poor Gin understood that she was pregnant. If he and his dear mummy were not killed in the Final Battle I would kill the bastard with my own hands!

Luc (9:17 PM): Well, I don't understand it anyway. They are just children. Why should it matter who was their father? Damned Weasleys.

Mione (9:20 PM): Yes, they are just kids who more and more resemble their father as they grow up. They've got Weasley hair but their eyes, frames and gestures are astonishingly Malfoy. Peter looks like Draco if you forget red hair.

Luc (9:21 PM): You don't seem to mind though.

Mione (9:22 PM): Damn my maternal instincts. I adopted them and that's it.

Luc (9:23 PM): My congratulations. Now you are a single mother with two foster children. And what had happened to their grandfather, by the way?

Mione (9:26 PM): Malfoy Senior disappeared twelve years ago and the most part of his family fortune vanished with him. It was exactly after the reborn of Voldemort. There was even a popular joke: Ministry of Magic rewarded Lucius Malfoy with the Order Of Merlin First class for depriving the Dark Lord of financial support.

Luc (9:26 PM): Very funny...

Mione (9:27 PM): Look, could you give me a piece of advice? You are a man of experience - maybe you could think of something...

Luc (9:28 PM): Of course I could. That is why I am always here for you, after all.

Mione (9:28 PM): I really don't know what to do...

Luc (9:29 PM): Fabulous! Hermione Granger doesn't know what to do. I should make a note to memorize the day.

Mione (9:29 PM): Thanks a lot for help!

Luc (9:30 PM): You are welcome. I am still listening though.

Mione (9:35 PM): I've got two big problems. First one you do already know. In this bloody country nobody is going to forget that the twins are Malfoy's children. They are eight and should go to school in three years. I'm afraid to imagine what an illegitimate Malfoy would have to bear in Hogwarts. The second problem is money. I'm not rich enough to hire a babysitter. Well, the kids are old enough to stay at home while I am at work but I would be constantly afraid... is that silly?

Luc (9:36 PM): I guess it is quite natural.

Mione (9:36 PM): What should I do?

Luc (9:37 PM): Find a new job. Listen, I have an idea but you might think I am insane.

Mione (9:37 PM): What idea?

Luc (9:38 PM): Take the children and move here.

Mione (9:39 PM): To the United States, you mean? And what I am going to do there?

Luc (9:40 PM): You could teach Arithmancy. I own a small private wizarding school and I am short of an Arithmancy teacher right now.

Mione (9:40 PM): Are you joking?

Luc (9:42 PM): I am absolutely serious. I will help you to settle here. And the twins need a parental figure... or taking into account my age, a grandfather.

Mione (9:43 PM): What is it, a proposal?

Luc (9:45 PM): It is for you to decide, I suppose. Just don't forget that I am twice your age. And, well... if I help you maybe it will help me to atone for an old mistake that had cost me my son.

Mione (9:46 PM): You didn't tell me you have a son.

Luc (9:47 PM): I had a son. He got involved with a bad company and came to a bad end. And before you ask: yes, I was married. But that is all in the past.

Mione (9:48 PM): Sorry. I didn't mean to pry into your private life.

Luc (9:48 PM): No problem. Especially considering I invite you to have a part in it.

Mione (9:49 PM): Thanks, Luc. I hope you wouldn't mind if I take some time to consider it all?

Luc (9:50 PM): I am going to insist on it. ;-)

Mione (9:51 PM): Goodnight then.

Luc (9:51 PM): Goodnight.

x x x

The next month was a nightmare.

Hermione was in a haze while packing, selling her flat, transferring her money (both muggle and wizarding) into American banks and so on.

There were hundreds of questions and a lot of fussing. Her parents were devastated: "Where are you going? It's madness! You don't even really know him..."

There was subtle, almost invisible relief in Ron's eyes. He swore he would visit her. Thank Merlin for portkeys and apparating.

Harry just shook his head before running away to his next coaching. "If something happens you always know where to find me. And please don't disappear, okay?" was all he said.

While boarding the airplane with Peter and Joanna Hermione was recollecting her last conversation with Luc.

x x x

Mione (11:12 PM): How will I find you there? How will I know it's you?

Luc (11:14 PM): Do you really think I haven't seen any photos of the War heroes? I suppose I am able to recognize the famous Hermione Granger with two redheaded children.

Mione (11:15 PM): It's not fair! You know me and I don't know you.

Luc (11:18 PM): Life is not fair. I will wait you near the muggle bus station. If you want you can look for a tall slender blond just in a prime of life, my darling. I will wear jeans and a red tartan shirt.

Mione (11:19 PM): Oh my God... Well, see you then.

Luc (11:19 PM): Good bye!

x x x

Hermione tiredly sat down on a bench near the local bus station of a small American town. Peter and Joanna bought themselves some ice-cream and began wandering around while Hermione despondently examined little cracks on the pavement near her feet and wondered what she would do if Luc didn't come.

Suddenly she heard the sound of a car stopping, then the steps, and a suspiciously familiar voice said: "I apologize for tardiness, I was delayed."

Getting chilled, Hermione slowly looked up at the tall blond man wearing blue jeans and the aforementioned red tartan shirt.

"Lucius..."

Malfoy Senior smiled.

"Just Luc," he said and took her trunk.

The End