A/N: I want to give a big thanks to all my reviewers! Sorry for the long wait – finals were killer! This is a pretty rough draft of this chapter…and it's gonna get revised, but I just wanted to post it already because it's been so long since I've posted a chapter. I'm going to go through during winter break and revise/edit the other chapters as well because I read through them and decided they were really bad, lol. With that said, please enjoy!

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- Chapter Four -

Persuasion

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Hermione gaped open-jawed at him, out of shock or bewilderment or plain horror it was unclear, but as she did so, her grip on the knife inadvertently loosened. Draco used this opportunity to slip the knife deftly out of her hand before she could react. She responded with a startled intake of breath when she realized what he had done, and her eyes darted quickly to the knife that was in his hand now, and then back toward him again. He held her brown eyes, the fear in them unmistakable, with his own, and said, enunciating carefully, "I'm not here to hurt you –" and slowly lowered the knife onto the sink counter behind her in an act of reconciliation.

His actions left her dumbfounded for a few seconds, but she quickly blinked out of her momentary daze, and her expression of surprise morphed into one of utter loathing. "What is this – some sort of sick game of yours?" she spewed contemptuously, disgust etched in her face.

He brushed her reaction aside. "I want you to leave this country," he pressed assertively, without regard to anything she had said. There was a steely look of determination in his grey eyes, the expression of a man who had never been denied a request in his life.

"Leave this country?" she nearly shrieked, scoffing with molten anger and disbelief. She could hardly believe he was here – in her home – let alone demanding such things of her. "You're drunk – you're completely deranged." Her eyes swept his haggard appearance and continued, "Who do you think you are – coming here like this and making these – these completely ridiculous demands -," she threw her arms in the air, "What are you doing in my flat? Get out!"

His mouth twitched, and it was clear he was vexed. He had nearly forgotten how annoying her mere presence was back in the days of Hogwarts. "Look, Granger, I can't tell you what's going on – but you have to leave here – tonight. Take – " and here he paused as if he wasn't sure how to craft his words to her liking, "- take the boy – and leave. Go to France – I have contacts there – you can stay there until everything blows over –"

"Are you out of your mind?" she exclaimed, waving away everything he had just said. "Good god – not all of us can be privy to vacations whenever the sudden urge arises –" she said heatedly, wringing her hands. "I can't believe we're even having this conversation," she mumbled, directed more to herself than to him, "this is completely absurd…" She raised her eyes to meet his. "Get out. Just go. I've put up with this for long enough. This is over. I never want to see you again."

"Don't be such a poor sport -"

"Have I not made myself clear?" she cut in resentfully. "You're trespassing in my home...you vile – " she wrinkled her face and bit back all the expletives she would have liked to use in all manner of civility, and continued with a noticeable quiver, "I never want to see you again."

As if to respect her wishes, he backed away from her, giving her some much needed personal space, and turned away in contemplation. When he gathered his thoughts, he spun around to face her again, beginning calmly, "I'm doing you a favor, Granger," realizing that she was sufficiently calmer, he continued, "and maybe you'll realize that if you took a moment just to consider everything I've just said." She made a move to protest, but he silenced her with a look. "Just take a moment to consider it…please." The last part was spoken with great difficulty.

She looked away from him and took several deep breaths. "Just leave," she enunciated as carefully as possible, fighting to maintain some emblem of civility, turning her head away to avoid his gaze. A strand of chestnut curls fell from the messy bun at the back of her head. "I-I can't even look at you any longer…I hate you." Her words were impassioned, and she bit her lips, as if it was an expression she was loathe to use on anyone. "Just go before I do something that's going to get me tossed in Azkaban." Her knuckles were white as she clenched her fists, trembling with fury. "I hate you, Malfoy, I hate you."

"Well now, hate's a bit strong of a word -" he began, reverting back to that familiar drawl that had so characterized him in his Hogwarts days.

"Not nearly strong enough," she fired back, blinking fiercely, and then returned to the habit of avoiding his eyes, looking around the room – everywhere except at him. "What do you want?" she demanded. "You're the last person I ever wanted to see. What did you think you could just walk in here and we'd chat each other up like old friends? Trust me, you don't want to hear anything I have to say about you."

"Flatter me," he offered arrogantly, in all sincerity, "then maybe afterwards you won't be so much of a stubborn, blithering idiot, and some of what I'm saying will go through that thick skull of yours." He set his hands on the kitchen counter on either side of her, effectively trapping her. "Have a go."

Hermione leaned back, trying to escape his touch and shut her eyes, breathing deeply to contain a wretched hiccup of a sob. When she opened them again, they were over-bright and her lips were trembling. "There's so much I want to say to you, Malfoy," she said, her voice shaking, nearly choking over the words, blinking fervently to keep her tears at bay. She balled her hand into a fist and brought it to her lips, trying to contain an inevitable sob. "I just can't get it out."

Despite how hard she tried to blink back her tears, a solitary bead formed at the corner of her eye and slid down her cheek.

"Don't – don't cry," he said, exasperated and annoyed, but oddly sympathetic. He cupped her face in his hand, and wiped the tear with his thumb, at the same time brushing a lock of curls to the side of her face.

"Please –" she winced and recoiled from his touch, overwhelmed by a frightening feeling of déjà vu that incapacitated her, "- just don't talk –," she said as she squeezed her eyes shut again, shrinking away from him. "I don't want to hear your voice."

"I came here to warn you, Granger – to save your life," he urged, his impatience getting the better of him. "The least you can do is be a little more gracious –"

"I don't want to hear anything you have to say, Malfoy."

"Something…something awful is going to happen to you if you don't leave here, tonight."

"Worse than this?" she snorted. "I don't want to talk to you anymore, Malfoy. Why on God's earth are you here? What, do you get some sort of odd satisfaction from making me miserable? I don't want to see you again. I don't know how to make this any more clear. You lead your life, and I'll lead mine. You've done enough – I never want to see you again."

"Granger, there's going to be –," he began hurriedly, but cut himself off, running his thumb and forefinger down his jaw-line, torn and conflicted as he turned and shifted on the spot. The tightening of his jaw muscles clearly indicated that he was fighting an internal struggle – whether to divulge the secret and tell her the truth or to keep her blind to what was going on. Finally, he gripped himself and said with all intention of staying calm, "I-I just wanted to warn you."

"Consider me warned," she snapped. "You did what you came for, now you can go." She indicated him toward the front door.

He studied her for a brief moment, his gaze unsettling her, and stepped back incredulously as if he just realized something extraordinary. "You don't believe me, do you?" Her silence reaffirmed his conclusion, and he shook his head disbelievingly. Capturing her eyes, he held a hand up, like he was about to swear an oath, and said, "I give you my word."

"Your word doesn't exactly have a great track record, now does it?" she spat.

He paused, studying the look of disgust in her eyes, and his lips tightened as if there was a lot more he wanted to say, but knew he shouldn't. "All right, I'll leave – " he said huffily, as if she'd insulted his honor. "But once I'm out that door, don't expect anything from me."

If he thought that his threat would mean anything to her, he was wrong, and she stood steely and resolute, indicating toward the door with her eyes.

With a final affronted look, he made for the front door. He pulled it open halfway, ready to exit, and for a moment, she thought that perhaps this would be the end – there would be no more of this absolute ridiculousness any longer. The feeling of relief was short-lived however, when he paused and cocked his head slightly toward her again, and she could tell there was a battle waging inside him.

How dare she? How dare she dismiss him so carelessly? Draco Malfoy was not one to be insulted, especially when there was so much at stake. She watched as the knuckles on his hand gripping the knob turned deathly white and the muscles of his jaw tightened dangerously. Without warning, he slammed the door shut and turned his heel, heading toward her with a dangerous expression etched on his face.

"God-damn you," he said, "I'm taking my son."

She stared back at him like he was a patient who just escaped from St. Mungo's Mental Ward."You – y-your? Your?" she spluttered in disbelief, shocked and angry at the same time, as if it was the most absurd thing she'd ever heard. "Yours?"

"I'm not going to let my son die because of some age-old grudge you hold against me."

"Don't be presumptuous," she retorted, flabbergasted. "What makes you think –"

"Now, is this the point where you're going to claim immaculate conception, Granger?" he drawled, jesting her. He placed his hands in his pockets, as if he'd just stopped by for a friendly chat. "Go ahead, humor me."

A blush crept into her checks, and she folded her arms over her chest defensively. "What makes you think – Ron and I – well, what do you know –" she stammered, her words staccatoed and hardly comprehensible.

"Yes, because the red hair and the freckles are just so obvious," he inserted jeeringly. "Now we can waste the next ten minutes arguing about this, in which you're going to name off every single one of your male acquaintances like a moron in an attempt to convince me to the contrary, or - " He sighed and withdrew a folded piece of parchment from his back pocket, and thrust it into her unwilling hands, "- I can save us both the trouble." He indicated for her to open it, and she looked hesitantly at the document, before cautiously opening the top flap, which revealed the letterhead.

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Injuries and Maladies

DNA Laboratory Facilities

"How dare you?" she said seethingly, tossing the parchment onto the counter as if it seared her hands, without unfolding it any further.

"You're not going to read the rest of it? Don't you want to know what it says?" he prodded slyly, enjoying her reaction. "Or does this mean you already know what's in it?"

She didn't trust herself to speak.

He saw the way she clenched her teeth at his words, and the way her delicate hands balled into fists, and he continued with a sigh. "You can hate me as much as you want, Granger, make your excuses, but at the end of the day, it's still my blood running through his veins." His eyes swept the small flat. "Now where is he?"

He made for the nearest door, but she scrambled ahead of him and planted herself in front of it, hands outstretched behind her, gripping the frame and sealing the entrance.

"Don't you dare."

He placed his hands on the doorframe, on either side of the door, and lowered his face toward hers, so that they were barely inches apart, and he could feel her heavy breaths on his skin as she glared into his eyes with a ferocity he had not expected. There was something impressive about her that he'd never really had the chance to notice before – something in the fierce spark in her eye that indicated a spirit that could never be subdued, something that the events of so long ago had not quenched. "I'm not going to hurt him."

She shook her head passionately. "Leave him out of this, Malfoy…please," she begged, her voice trembling, "- your quarrel is with me."

"He's my son, he's Malfoy blood."

"After what you did to me? You don't have any right to him."

"I have every right to him - I'm his father."

"No!" she said shrilly. "No, you're not. Who gives a damn about blood – none of it matters," she repeated Ginny's earlier sentiments. "He doesn't know who you are – he doesn't need to – and it's going to stay that way. You – are – not – his – father."

He snorted derisively. "What did you tell him then, Granger – that his father was some sort of a noble war hero who died fighting to the death?" he said sarcastically, but after taking a good look at her reaction, which told him it was exactly what she had done, his expression faded into annoyed disbelief. "Christ..."

"What should I have told him, then?" she retorted. "That his father's some slimy, vile git – a vicious criminal – an elitist, cold-hearted murderer – a brute, a supporter of mass genocide – who wouldn't think twice about killing people – children – just like him – in order to rid the world of people just like him? Or that he's the very product of…of…" She closed her eyes to steady herself. "I hate you…all of you."

Not quite angered, but only slightly vexed, he said, "Don't be so fucking self-righteous, Granger. How do you think the Ministry got all that information about us, then, to win the war? By asking nicely? Ever give a thought to what they did to Rosier or Greengrass when they were captured? It's a war for Merlin's sake – don't pretend for a second that you wouldn't have done anything to win." He lowered his voice. "As for the boy – " he reached for the piece of parchment on the counter, unfolded it and shoved it in her face roughly, "- he's only half yours."

"Malfoy…" her voice ebbed off, "let it go…please, just let it go."

"I want to protect him."

"Can you protect him from yourself?" she breathed.

Something in his eyes flickered. His face softened, and the intensity in his eyes faded. She was barely inches from his face, and for the first time, she noticed the lines on his otherwise finely chiseled face that spoke of just how worn and destitute he looked, and of the toll the last few days had taken on him. His lips parted slowly just a bit, and he said, with great austerity, "I just want to see my son."

She squeezed her eyes shut, and a tear rolled down the side of her cheek. "Please…don't..." Her eyes were glassy when she opened them again, and she looked pleadingly into his eyes. "I don't want him to know…he deserves to grow up knowing his father is a good man."

The brutal honestly of her words, the fact that she regarded him as anything but a good man, cut him deeper than either of them could have ever imagined. For a brief moment, his cold façade faded, and she could swear she caught a glimpse of something human inside him after all. The momentary lapse in his control was barely perceptible and quickly remedied when he reinstated his usual demeanor, but he found himself pulling back from her, to her relief, giving himself space to think.

She clearly wasn't about to budge.

When he made his final decision, he averted his eyes, and began - "The Death Eaters are going to mount a massive offensive attack." He didn't have to look at her to know the horrified expression she would have on her face. "The Ministry is going to fall before sunrise."

Horror faded into disbelief, and then denial. "Why should I believe you?"

"You already do," he said, reading the fear in her eyes.

She steadied herself as her face paled, holding onto the doorpost, the impact of his revelation sending her mind reeling. The Ministry…fall…before the night was over. "How strong are your forces?" she asked finally, in a strangled voice.

"Strong enough to take down the entire Ministry," he said. "This has been seven years in the making – ever since Potter overthrew the regime." Seeing the look of surprise on her face, he snorted, "What, did you think we were actually going to sit back and let all of you run this country?"

His last words were lost to her, and she relived the memories of the last war, and casualties, the suffering, the pain. "God…"

"They're going to stop at nothing to destroy the Ministry, and they'll kill everyone who stands in their way," he continued. "Our men are strong and capable…I trained them...I made sure of that." The pride in his voice was tinged with bitter irony.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because by God, Granger, I'm not going to lose two sons in one week."

She was too shocked by the news to tell him that under no circumstances would Ethan ever be his son. "I have to…I have to tell Harry," she stammered in a flurry. "I don't have the Floo, and Apparition doesn't work here… but there must be something I could do…Harry has to know…"

"It's too late," Draco said. "The Ministry is going to fall, Granger. Everything's been set in motion. Nothing you do can change that."

"Ginny – and the kids – they have to know!" she pleaded.

"There's nothing you can do for them at this point. But there is something you can do for your son." He fished in the inside pocket of his coat, and retrieved a stack of papers. "Here's tickets –" he said, handing them over to her, "- to Paris – tonight. Everything's booked – there'll be someone to pick you up when you arrive – I've taken care of it all, covered all the expenses – and once you're there, you'll be safe."

Hermione shook her head slowly as she studied the tickets. "It's for tonight – 11:50 – that's- that's in less than an hour – I'll have to pack – we'll never make it on time –"

"There's a cab waiting outside, Granger – leave your belongings – you'll have the Malfoy account at your disposal in France to purchase whatever you wish – right now, all you need to do is to get on this airplane."

After a moment's hesitation, she said, "All right, we'll go – but you have to promise – promise me that you won't say anything to him…please."

"Fine," he said hastily, and whether or not it was a lie he himself wasn't even sure. What mattered right now was that she followed his plan, and he was willing to say anything to get her to agree.

Hermione nodded and grasped the door knob behind her, now understanding the full urgency of the situation. If she wanted her son to live, she would have to get to him to the airport, and there was no time to spare. She turned the knob and swung it open behind her, ready to wake her son from his slumber.

Instead she came face to face with him. And the sight of him nearly scared her out of her wits.

Ethan offered a feeble, sheepish smile, the kind he usually gave when he had done something particularly naughty and didn't want his mother to be too angry.

"I wasn't eavesdropping, I swear," he offered hastily, frozen guiltily and wide-eyed at his mother, but the looks of it told her that eavesdropping was exactly what he was doing. She was too shocked and panic-stricken to respond to him. What had he heard?

"What did you hear?" she demanded, too frightened to be angry.

"Nothing, mummy, I swear!" he said, looking up innocently at her panicked, but disbelieving expression. Then he winced and said, "something about Paris?"

The tone of his voice told her that he wasn't lying – he hadn't heard anything important, she was sure of it. After all, she had raised him for the last six years, she knew his mannerisms, and she could always tell whether he was being truthful or not.

As Ethan's eyes went curiously from his mother to the stranger in the room, she was hit with the sudden reality of the situation and stood dumbfounded, without a clue as to what exactly what she should do. She glanced from Draco to Ethan, painfully aware of the distinct similarities between them that glared back ruthlessly at her.

"Now, don't be rude, Granger, are you going to just stand there, or are you going to introduce us?" His gaze was leveled at the boy, whom he studied closely this time, noting the minute details of his face, the Malfoy eyes, the aristocratic nose, the oddly familiar curve of his jaw.

Hermione threw him a scathing look and made a move to shield her son. "Alright then," she said, finally. "Malfoy, this is my son Ethan." She looked down and stroked his halo of blond hair. "Ethan, this is – " the vilest, foulest creature who ever had the audacity to crawl out from under his slimy little rock," – Draco Malfoy."

"Well, now, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Draco bent down so that he was level with the young boy, and offered his hand. "Hello, Ethan, it's good to finally meet you."

Ethan glanced from Draco Malfoy's hand to his mother, tacitly asking whether or not he should accept this man's hand – this man whom, from what he could tell, his mother abhorred. She looked away, neither giving consent nor denying it. Ethan decided not to be rude, reached out, and shook the man's hand.

Draco was surprised at how such small hands could produce such a strong and firm handshake. "Ever seen the Eiffel Tower, Ethan? You and your mother are going to France."

"But Mummy," he said, looking up to Hermione, "I thought you said we didn't have enough money to –"

"Ethan!" Hermione scolded, her face flushing. The last thing she wanted was to for Draco Malfoy to know the details of her financial troubles.

"Tell you what, Ethan," Draco said kindly, "you get dressed, and I'll take care of the rest of it. You and your mum will never be short of money again, I promise."

"Does that mean I can go back to school –"

"Don't listen to him, Ethan," Hermione reprimanded, and then threw Draco a dirty look. "Keep your money. I'll pay you back for everything later, I'm not going to owe you anything." Turning back to her son, she said, "Get dressed, Ethan, we're leaving now."

"Now? Mum, it's like night, aren't you supposed to tell me to go back to bed?"

"Sweetheart, we have to go," she said, more sympathetically this time. "I know it's awful, but please, go to your room and get dressed."

Ethan agreed hesitantly but bounded into his room without another word, leaving Draco and Hermione alone again.

"Charming boy," Draco commented. "Takes after me, really."

"Once this is all over, you'll leave us alone. If I see you come near my son ever again, you'll have hell to pay."

"Yes, but until that time, you had better do as you're told – why don't you start with getting dressed so we can leave this damn mold-infested place you call home?"

"Don't touch anything!" Hermione hissed, as she headed for the other bedroom.

He watched as she disappeared behind the bedroom door and re-emerged a few moments later donned in a pair of jeans and a simple, short-sleeved shirt. At the same time, Ethan stumbled out of his room, carrying the latest book she had purchased for him open on his arm, reading it.

"Ethan! You're hardly dressed!" she exclaimed, eyeing him from head to toe. He had already pulled on his khaki pants, but was still wrapped in his nightshirt.

"What's the hurry?" he said, absorbed in his book. "I'm almost done with this chapter, can't it wait?"

"I told you – " she paused, stopping herself from launching into another tirade – it was not the time or place for one. What mattered most was that they got out of there as quickly as humanly possible. She wrenched the book out of his hands, grabbed his shirt, and peeled it off.

"Ow! Omph! Mum!"

She disregarded his complaints and proceeded to pull a navy blue polo quickly over his head, before he could object.

As she finished dressing her son, he surveyed the photographs sitting in neat frames that decorated the wall next to the bookshelf. There was Ethan – with the fair hair and the piercing grey eyes – in various ages from one picture to the next – a baby crawling on the ground staring up with big grey eyes, a toddler strapped in a high-chair with a face full of red sauce, playing with a half-eaten bowl of spaghetti. A fresh pang of guilt assaulted him as he was vaguely reminded of everything in Scorpius's life he had missed – and now this. He saw Hermione scowl at him out of the pictures as he observed them, ducking out of the frame and pulling the boy with her.

His sight settled on a final picture – this one unmoving, so that both of them smiled out from the grassy background – it must have been a muggle portrait, he reasoned, or they would have dodged out of sight from him like in the other photographs. It looked fairly recent – the boy seemed about the same age Draco had seen him at his school barely two weeks before. Hermione's arms were wrapped affectionately around the little boy, as if she'd just captured him in her embrace in a game of tag, and her head was pressed against his, both of them with goofy expressions, laughing candidly into the lens. He removed the small frame from the hook on the wall and took it into his hand, glad that it was a muggle photo, because they couldn't do anything but smile back at him, genuinely so, and somehow that offered him a measure of comfort. He traced his finger down the contours of the boy's face. Glancing to make sure she was still turned away from him, kneeling on the ground, busy tying Ethan's shoe laces, he slipped the photograph out of its frame. Reaching into his pocket, he fished out his wallet and tucked the photograph safely into its folds.

He replaced the frame on the wall, and turned to face them.

"You ready?"

"Yes," Hermione mumbled, grabbing a tan colored coat off the hook on the wall and throwing it around her shoulders.

The three of them exited the flat without another word, and Hermione locked it behind her. They continued silently down the hallway to the stairwell, and descended, finally arriving at the front of the establishment, where a car was waiting.

"Took you long enough," the stout cabbie said, as he dropped his cigarette on the ground and smothered it with his heel. He opened the side door, and Draco ushered them in, Hermione first, who pulled Ethan in behind her. Much to her dismay, Draco stepped in after the two of them.

"Heathrow Airport," he said, as he shut the car door.

"There's plenty of room up in the front," Hermione snapped.

Draco turned to her complacently. "Ah, yes, you're free to change your seat if you wish."

Hermione scowled and pulled Ethan protectively to her, as if Draco was a dangerous leper. Although normally Ethan would have reacted to such a gesture, he was too tired to complain as it was much past his bedtime and the novelty of the situation had worn off. He could hardly keep his eyes open, much less protest. Hermione held his tiny body against hers and pressed her head against the window, looking out onto the brightly lit street.

"How long will it take?" Draco asked, as the cabbie pulled into the street.

"Oh, not too long. I'd say thirty minutes or so, from the looks of the traffic right now," the bearded man answered. He viewed them from the rear view mirror. "That's a fine young boy you got there. You must be a proud father."

"No!" Hermione said, looking horrified, pulling Ethan closer to her. "He's my son."

"Well, there you have it," Draco said coolly to the cabbie. It was hardly the place or time for an argument.

The rest of the ride passed in awkward silence. The air around them was tense, and even the cabbie knew not to attempt conversation. When he finally pulled to the curb at the international airport, Hermione breathed a sigh of relief.

Hermione shook Ethan to wake him, and scrambled out of the car, pulling his sleepy form out behind her. Draco emerged from the other side and deposited a thick wad of money into the driver's hands.

The three of them rushed in, beyond the sliding doors, heading for the check-in counter. The airport was empty, except for a few stragglers here and there, and Hermione hoped that they were not too late.

"We have reservations on the 11:35 flight to Paris," Hermione said breathlessly, as Draco retrieved the tickets from his coat and thrust it onto the counter.

The agent took the papers into her hands and studied them for a second.

"I'm sorry, check-in is closed. The flight's boarding."

"Just print the damn boarding passes," Draco demanded impatiently.

"You'll never make it to the gate in time," the ticketing agent argued.

"Please," Hermione pleaded. "We really need to get on this flight – if there's any way – please – the monitor says that the flight's delayed." She pointed to the screen on the wall, where all the departing flights were listed.

"Yes, ma'am, there was a very short delay, but as you can see, it's 11:45, and they are currently boarding right now, and you won't get to the gate in time to board."

"Can you just do it?" Hermione asked. "We'll run."

The ticketing agent shook her head sympathetically.

"Print them!" Draco, who had let Hermione do the talking, was finally too impatient and vexed to hold back any longer. His tone was authoritative, and the expression on his face was dangerous.

The young agent looked fearfully at him, as if expecting him to pull out a gun any moment. When he did not relinquish his glare, she nodded in fright. "All right, sir," she said weakly, and she started typing on her keyboard. A few moments later, the machine at her side produced the tickets, and she offered it to them.

Draco grabbed them out of her hand without any acknowledgement and continued toward security, and it was Hermione who had the decently to turn to her and say a quick but appreciative "Thank you," before turning and running toward the security check, with Ethan following at her side.

As none of them had any belongings, they breezed through the security check-in, and hurried down the maze of gates, searching for number Gate 24. When they finally arrived, winded and breathless, the gate was completely empty except for one uniformed agent who was promptly shutting the inner door.

"We have to get on that flight," Draco said, pointing to the airplane through the glass window.

The man shook his head resolutely. "I'm sorry, sir, we're done boarding. The flight is closed."

"Please, we're really in a hurry," Hermione said.

"It's too late, I'm really terribly sorry."

"We need to get on that flight," Hermione demanded, fiercely this time, her brown eyes glowering in a way that was uncharacteristic of her.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, that's impossible," he said. "If you would like, I can book you tickets on the next available flight tomorrow morning -"

"No, that won't do," Draco cut in coldly. "Open the damn door."

"Sir –"

"I can see the damn airplane from here – you haven't even retracted the jetway!"

"Sir, the plane is pulling away from the gate."

"Is there any way you could –" Hermione began, before Draco silenced her.

He pointed to the black device the man was holding in his hand. "You have a radio – call them back."

"Sir, it's out of my hands."

Draco pulled his wallet out of his pocket, and pulled a wad of money out, counting the sheets silently, and then offered it to the agent. "Here's a thousand pounds." The agent shook his head resolutely, and Draco pulled out several more bills. "Not enough? Two thousand then? Name your price."

"I'm sorry, sir."

Draco grabbed him by the cuff of his collar. "Sorry?"

"Leave him alone, Malfoy," Hermione warned, stepping up.

"I'm going to call security," the attendant threatened, sweat licking his brow.

"No, you're not," Hermione snapped commandingly, and then she turned to Draco. "We're leaving."

"I'm not done here."

She blinked. "All right, then, you keep haggling him," she said. "Ethan, let's go." She turned her heel and began heading down the terminal with her son in tow.

Draco Malfoy glanced at the agent and then at Hermione's retreating figure, knowing that he had no choice in the matter. He let go of the man, although clearly unsatisfied, threw him a dirty look, and ran to catch up with Hermione and Ethan.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Home," she said simply.

"Home?"

"Well then what do you suggest we do?" she said impatiently. "We'll just catch the next flight in the morning, or maybe the rail."

"There won't be any flights in the morning – not for the next week, month, or even year, Granger, don't you understand? The Death Eaters are coming – you think they're gonna leave this place intact?"

"Well, that's not my doing, is it?" she retorted viciously.

"You're coming with me."

"No, I'm not."

"Then I'm taking him."

"Over my dead body."

"Look, I can fix this, Granger," he said, stepping in front of her to halt her.

"You're disgusting," she said, ducking out of the way and heading for the exit, "and I can't stand to be around you any longer."

"Don't be cross, we were just getting along fine."

"Stop deceiving yourself, Malfoy," she replied coldly. "We're never going to get along. We were merely united in a common effort."

She waved for the nearest taxi, and then spun on her heel to face him. "Two tickets – there were two tickets. One for Ethan, one for me. What about you?"

His expression was blank and then a smirk emerged. "What, you want me to come with you?" he said coyly. "Afraid you were going to miss me, Granger?"

"Don't be disgusting," she said, the thought of it nauseating her. "You were going to stay here, weren't you? Hide us away like some dirty little secret and rejoin the Death Eaters to take sport in murdering people just like us. You make me sick."

"I have certain responsibilities, I won't deny that."

"I hate you."

"I'd rather you hate me than have him die – "

" – at the hand of one of your own minions?" She sighed as the cab pulled up along the curb in front of them. "When it comes down to this, you're still a chauvinistic pig, Malfoy. You want to save Ethan? What about the millions of other children out there who are going to die? Who's going to save them?"

She led her sleepy son into the back of the cab and climbed in after him. Before she could speak to the driver, Draco had opened the front door and seated himself in the front passenger's seat.

"Start driving," he ordered the driver, "Go!"

The cabbie did so, pulling away from the curb so that Hermione didn't have a chance to open the door to exit.

"What are you doing?" she shrieked.

Draco said something to the driver that Hermione didn't catch, and her complaints were largely ignored. A few minutes later, they had pulled up at the well-lit entrance to a popular hotel.

"What are we doing here?" she said, stepping out.

"Plan B," he said. "You didn't think I'd be unprepared, did you?"

"Brilliant," she said sarcastically, "what's this all about?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

"Mum, look at this place, it's amazing!" Ethan said with awe as he stepped inside the large, brightly lit reception area, turning his eyes upward to examine the crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceilings.

They made their way inside, Draco leading the pack with Ethan a few steps behind, throwing backward glances at Hermione who lagging quite a ways back with a scowl on her face.

"Really, Malfoy, this is ridiculous! Ethan, we're going home – now!"

Suddenly, an attendant with a luggage trolley crossed between them, separating Hermione from the rest of them, and obscured her view.

Draco did not let this opportunity slip away – he grabbed Ethan before the boy could react, and threw him over his shoulder like a rucksack, so that his arms pinned down the boy's legs and his upper body dangled down Draco's backside. Ethan put up a good fight, kicking and hitting Draco in every way he could, although to no avail. Draco turned the corner where there was a row of lifts, and luckily, one of them had just enough room that he was able to duck inside quickly.

Hermione appeared around the corner, a frantic expression on her face as she tried desperately to spot them. When she saw them standing in the lift, she rushed forward, just as the doors began to close, willing the space in between them to disappear faster. Ten meters, nine, eight, seven, six…

"Room 717," he shouted as the doors closed between them.

"Argh! Let me go! Let me go!" Ethan shouted, as he pounded his fists on Draco's back and kicked his legs against him. "Let me go, you stupid old hag!"

The other passengers looked at them, horrified.

"Watch your language, Ethan," Draco said simply, holding Ethan's legs pinned to his chest with his strong arm as the little boy, dangling down his back, continued to bat away at him. He threw an apologetic glance toward the other passengers in the lift, who were looking at them suspiciously, obviously taken aback at Ethan's behavior. "An unruly little tyke, I know," Draco offered with a calm smile. "His mother's fault, really."

"What have you done with my mum? Let me go! Where are you taking me?" Ethan said, in a renewed struggle. "Don't let him take me! He's kidnapped me!"

"Now, honestly, Ethan, that's going a bit too far," Draco said, feigning insult. "Is this the way you speak to your father?"

"He's lying," Ethan pleaded toward the other passengers. "He's not my dad! He's gone and kidnapped me, I swear!"

"I see you've had way too much sugar," he said, pretending to be worried at the prospect. "I'll have to speak to your mother about that." He turned to the others in the lift and added, "I apologize for his behavior, his mother and I are going through a terrible divorce, and our counselor said he's having trouble coming to terms with it."

"Liar!" Ethan shouted. "I hate you, and so – does – my – mum!"

Draco watched with odd satisfaction as the passengers studied him and then the boy, noting their strange similarities. The fact that they didn't act or try to stop him gave him invigorated him with a sense of fatherhood, and confirmed his rights to the boy. As they scrutinized the blond hair and the identical facial features, they came to their own conclusions that it was a family matter they should not dapple in.

An old man in the corner waved his cane at Draco and said, "If he were my son, I'd give him a right little spanking or two."

"Did you hear the nice old man, Ethan?"

To the passengers' relief, the elevator arrived at the seventh floor, and they thanked the heavens as they watched the pair of them exit the lift, the boy still beating away disrespectfully at the man who was obviously his father. As the doors closed, they felt oddly grateful that none of their children were anywhere as ill-behaved as that little boy, and soon the incident was all forgotten.

Draco hurried down the hallway as Ethan kicked and fought against him, and quickly arrived at room number 717. He slipped a key card out of his back pocket, inserted it in the door, and when moments later it blinked green, he turned the knob and pushed his way in.

Although the room was beautifully furnished – it was a very upscale hotel, of course – it was a small with only one bed, hardly fit for anyone of Draco Malfoy's status. However, it didn't matter, because they weren't going to be here for long, and all they really needed was a private place, and this would do. Draco Malfoy tossed the Ethan effortlessly onto the bed.

There was a well-dressed man standing at the balcony, facing away from them.

"I was afraid you were going to show up," Blaise said as he turned away from the balcony and approached them on the other side of the room. He noticed Ethan, who had up-righted himself on the bed and was glaring at both of them with murder in his eyes. "Ah, and you must be Ethan," he said with a bemused smile.

Ethan scowled, and looked like he was ready to pounce and fight to the death. Then his eyes wandered to the telephone by the lamp on the nightstand with an odd expression on his face, as if he was about to grab it and use it as some sort of weapon.

"Stay put," Draco warned authoritatively toward the boy, and then he turned to Blaise. "Are they safe?"

"I sent Lavender and the children to Italy – my aunt will take care of them in their villa," he said. "From the looks of it, you haven't had such luck."

Draco didn't speak, but merely looked at him with fierce determination in his eyes.

"Are you sure you want to go through with this?" Blaise said.

"It's not exactly my first choice, is it?" Draco sneered, "…but under the circumstances, do you see any other options?"

"Now if I recall correctly, you told me, mere hours ago, that you'd rather die than –"

"Things are different now," he snapped.

"And so they are," Blaise agreed but the tone of his voice hinted at his concern. "I just don't want you to get yourself into something you'll regret, Draco, that's all. I mean, really, she is a mud –" he paused uncomfortably as he eyed the young boy, who was scowling, sitting on the bed and listening to every word they were saying, "- M-U-D-B-L-O-O-D for crying out loud!

"What's a 'mudblood'?" Ethan piped. Blaise threw him an annoyed look of disbelief, clearly vexed that his spelling strategy, which Lavender had taught him to use on their children, didn't work. "I'm six," he declared as-a-matter-of-factly, "I can spell."

"Precocious brat," Blaise muttered. "At least he's got her brains."

At that moment, they were interrupted by a fierce knock at the door, which could only mean one thing. Draco headed toward the door and when he swung it open, a very upset Hermione Granger stormed in.

"Where is he?" she demanded breathlessly, glancing around the room, as Draco shut the door behind her and locked it.

"Mum!" Ethan shouted as he bounced off the bed and ran in his mother's arms.

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief as she held her son in a tight embrace, glad that he was safe from harm. Then she attacked him with a plethora of questions. "Are you all right? Did they do anything to you? Did they hurt you? Oh, sweetheart, I was so worried!"

She was so engrossed in tending to her son that she hadn't even noticed Blaise's presence, and was even less aware that he and Draco were engaged in a hasty, whispered conversation as they scrutinized her. After she made sure that Ethan was indeed just fine, she turned to Draco and said, "Now are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?" Her eyes swept the room and was shocked to see Blaise Zabini, whom she regarded as one of the most talented and yet despicable attorneys, standing next to Draco. "What's he doing here?" she said, eyeing the Slytherin with particular disdain.

Blaise's jaw dropped. "You haven't told her?"

"Told me what?" She glanced suspiciously from Blaise to Draco, feeling more uncomfortable by the second as the former steered his eyes away from her to avoid her gaze, and the latter's mouth curled mischievously.

Her uneasy look of uncertainty only emboldened Draco, and whatever ill-ease he had for the plan at head evaporated instantly. He threw a possessive arm around her and lassoed her stiffly and unwillingly to him, clearly enjoying the reaction he evoked. A smirk of smug satisfaction tugged at the corners of his mouth in anticipation of her reaction.

"You see, Granger," Draco began charmingly, "he's going to perform our marriage."

-x-x-x-

Author's Note: Sorry for all the mistakes and weird parts, they will get edited and fleshed out, but I just wanted to post it cuz it's been so long since I've updated! Please leave a review!