A/N:

Muggles,

Madea wishes me to express deepest affection (she's quite given up trying to get me to say 'love'. Clever girl) for the people who take time to respond. She is not sure, but feels almost certain, she says, that the final line was inspired by a line from a novel called 'Restoration', which she says is highly recommended. Or it might be from a fantasy novel, she can't recall the name.

Do leave a note, won't you? Madea has caught a catarrh in her chest, and she says messages would be better medicine than the potions Madam Malfoy has been feeding her.

Regards,

Lucius Malfoy

Post-scriptum: I am still the more reasonable parent.

Sunday night:

Draco thought he was alone. He would never have done it otherwise, but he'd assumed no one could see or hear him and decided to indulge a little. He wasn't as good as Father, but neither was he as bad as, say, Crabbe, whose attempts could be liked to being repeatedly stabbed in the ear with a rusty spoon.

Still, he'd rather Granger didn't hear, at least not this. Giving one final look around, he started. Softly, gently. He'd do it for Teddy, next time he saw the little chap. He really was a precious baby. Draco especially enjoyed seeing Granger cuddling Teddy, or playing with him. It made him feel warm and tingly and as grossly sentimental as a Hufflepuff, not that what he was doing now was any better.

A sound from the door made him stand, whirling, and draw his wand. Hermione immediately put her hands up and said "Draco, it's me." Dropping his wand, Draco stepped forward with a sigh of relief and embraced his little girl. "You scared the bloody life out of me!"

"Sorry about that. Was that a children's song you were singing?"

Draco gave his haughtiest look and stood taller. "Yes, and what of it?"

"What's it called?"

"Herby the Happy House elf'". Hermione grinned and, looking around, pecked his cheek. "That's sweet, Draco."

Blessed salvation came in the form of Lemmy, saving Draco from the need to respond. "Madam is wanting Miss. It is being important."

Hermione pulled a face but stood to go. "I'll be there directly, Lemmy."

Draco smiled and popped her on the bum as she turned. "Go on, my girl, before I hurry you along with a stinging arse." She grinned again and made her way up the stairs.

The incident wouldn't leave her mind, strangely. "Tibby' she finally said to the elf, who was unpinning her hair at the time 'I wonder if you could help me."

"Yes, Miss! Anything, anything at all! What can Tibby be doing?"

"There's a song, a children's song…"

Thursday evening:

On the third day of Draco's worst migraine in years, Hermione decided to do something about the whole situation. She'd never had a migraine but her Mum did sometimes, and so she was slightly confused as to why this was a problem of such magnitude. Mum always took some medicine and then felt better after.

Lucius shook his head when she asked. "Normally, yes, but he's refusing the stuff that will help the migraine. It's not like him at all." Hermione secretly thought Draco was a bit of a baby about pain sometimes, so the news was shocking enough to keep her out of things for a day or so.

The whole house was in uproar. A sick family member in Pureblood culture requires constant care and tending, the expectation the whole family will be available almost constantly. As a result, meal times were spotty and sleep interrupted, not that anyone would have enjoyed either with Draco brought so low.

Even his parents were having scant effect. Narcissa tried gentle persuasion, manipulation, and even crying a little, but stopped once it became clear that Draco was getting upset without gaining the desired result.

Lucius declared finally that Draco would obey or face serious consequences, and with a view to that, he'd gone into the boy's room and closed the door behind him. And came out fifteen minutes later, looking bemused.

"Hermione, my dear, perhaps you would care to attempt to convince my son?"

"Of course I'll try. Draco does have a way of getting what he wants, though."

Lucius nodded sourly. "I rather noticed. A Black trait, if you ask me."

Narcissa set down her tea cup. "Why Lucius, you know that's not so. Besides, I'm sure Hermione will agree this refusal is really a very Malfoy kind of thing."

Hermione looked away. "Shall I go now?"

They both laughed, and Narcissa caught her wrist. "Do try to get him to eat something, would you?" Hermione nodded and squaring her shoulders, set off.

"I give her five minutes."

"Seven and a half. Winner gets the last of those sweets you made off with from the muggle house."

Lucius sniffed. "I did not 'make off' with anything. It was my right as head of this family to--"

Narcissa leant over and gave her husband a quick peck on the lips. "You're just sulking because you know I'm right."

"Hmmph' he said, and kissed her again.

Meanwhile, Hermione sent for a bowl of porridge and tiptoed into the room. The curtains were drawn, the air cooled by charms. Somewhere nearby, Tibby was weeping softly.

"Draco? Sweet, are you awake?"

He half rolled, face violently white, eyes ringed in sooty shadows. "Granger?"

"Can you eat something? I've brought some porridge."

Draco's stomach roiled, and the spike that some vengeful giant had been pounding into his left eye socket for nearly four days dug a little deeper. He struggled into a sitting position and then slumped against his pillow again, retching.

Hermione held out the basin but he forced his gorge down. He would not vomit in front of Granger; it would upset her and make her think he was weak. Resolutely, he pushed it away and made himself focus his attention on her.

"…eaten?"

"Pardon?"

"Said, have you eaten?"

Hermione looked away. "Not quite yet."

"Need to eat. Had nap?"

Hermione sat carefully on the bed, not wanting to jar him. " No. Would you rather broth? I could ask Lirry--"

Draco put out a hand and took her wrist. "Granger."

Hermione sat back on her heels and kissed the knuckles on his hand, prompting a small smile that was immediately swallowed by a rictus of agony. "Ahh, God…"

"Draco, shhh. Shhh. Tibby, get him some pain potion, please."

Draco shook his head weakly. "Nightmares. Told Father. Rather the pain."

"You won't have a nightmare."

Draco half opened one eye. "Will. Every time I take—Merlin, ow— strong pain potion, it—ahh!"

Hermione scooted closer. "Do it for me?"

Draco thought. "You…eat first. Then we'll both…lie down."

Hermione blinked. "Draco, are you blackmailing me at a time like this?"

The eye opened the whole way. "Ugly word, Granger. I'll take my… potions if…" The scant light felt like needles, and he squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath.

"Fine, fine." She took the bowl of porridge and ate a few bites as Tibby reappeared with the phial of purplish black potion. She uncorked it and held the phial to his lips, but Draco held firm. "Whole bowl, Granger."

Hermione huffed, exasperated, and swallowed most of the rest of the porridge. She handed the bowl to Tibby, who started to take it away when Draco's voice, weak but still stroppy, said "Tibby? She finished it?"

Tibby sighed. "There is being a little left, young Master."

"Bad…girl. Granger. Clean…plate." Hermione gulped the rest and then watched with satisfaction as Draco downed his potion, relief palpable as he relaxed, limbs unlocking. She touched his arms and felt lemon sized knots where he'd been tense for so long.

"Lie down. You promised."

Hermione felt a little guilty, knowing she wasn't supposed to do a thing like that, knowing she'd likely get punished. It was worth it to her, if her presence would ease him. And she'd only be in the bed until he was sleeping, after all. Then she'd slid out and get in the chair.

Hermione lay on her side and Draco immediately pulled her closer. His migraine wasn't gone but it had definitely lessened, and he felt almost human again. He'd get his darling to sleep and then go and see his parents. And have a shower, for Merlin's sake. Cleansing spells and sponge baths just aren't the same as proper soap and shampoo.

Her hair smelled clean and sweet, he thought, and she'd put a little talc on her neck. Draco tightened his hold on Hermione and murmured, wanting her settled before he left. The bed was so warm, though…perhaps he'd close his eyes a moment and…

When Hermione hadn't returned in an hour, the Malfoys, through some unspoken parental telepathy, rose as one and went to check on the children. "Do you expect he broke her resolve?"

"I shouldn't think so. I think Tibby's snapped and hexed them both into immobility." They shared a laugh before sliding the door open. Neither could quite believe what they were seeing. "Tibby, what--"

The elf rubbed her teary little eyes. "Miss is asking young Master to eat, and he is saying she is eating, and then he is only taking his potion if Miss is lying down beside him."

"I see." The adults stared at the two children, confounded.

"I ought to give them both the hiding of their lives."

"Mmm' agreed Narcissa as she gently slid Hermione's shoes off and set them under the bed. She brushed hair out of her sweet baby's eyes and flicked her wand to cover the sleepers with the duvet.

"Narcissa, I am sensing a lack of moral outrage on your part."

"By rights, we ought to be furious, I agree, but…really, I'm rather proud."

"Proud?"

"Hermione was to see he took pain potion, and she did. Draco is to see she's well cared for, and he did. They're both clothed, Tibby's indicated nothing immoral went on, and supper is in an hour anyway, so I suppose it would be silly to wake them for so small a time."

Lucius sighed. "And here I thinking that I was the reasonable parent."

"Shall we come back in an hour?"

"I'll wait a bit."

Narcissa smiled and left, mentally tallying the things that needed to be done. The children needed their supper sent up on trays, she'd want the bedding in Draco's room changed…her mind spinning, she went to start in on her list.

Draco stirred, hearing voices, and without thinking about it, Lucius stroked his hair and hushed him. "Love, shhh, it's I. Back to sleep."

"Father?"

"Yes, Draco."

Draco gently moved Hermione over a bit, tucking the duvet under her chin. "What time is it?"

"Nearly time for supper."

Draco yawned. "I feel better."

"No doubt."

Draco suddenly realised what had happened and he sat up. "Oh! I didn't mean--"

"To be caught?" Lucius' voice sounded amused, and Draco felt small again. "No, sir. I didn't mean to fall asleep. I was coming to find you."

"You seem to have got sidetracked."

"I, ah, rather talked Granger into lying down with me."

"I see that." Draco hated it when Father did this. The only thing to do was to keep talking, digging oneself in deeper, and knowing it, and being unable to stop. He looked away, ears flaming red, and said something so softly that Lucius had to ask him to repeat himself.

"I said…punish me?"

Lucius blinked. "Have you done something to deserve it?"

"No. I don't think so, anyway, but if you were planning on punishing Granger and I, it was my fault."

Lucius smiled. "Mother and I have decided to let it go, this once, but I shall file what you said away for future reference."

Draco smiled back, loving the sensation of being gently teased. "Ought to have said it was Granger, then. Usually is."

"As though I wouldn't know which of you it was? Draco, you underestimate me."

"Hope springs eternal, Father."

"Now, if our house elves suddenly develop radical notions, then I shall know it was she."

Hermione shifted and Draco leant over to cup her cheek. "No, precious, back to sleep."

Lucius decided this was a good time to slip out. Giving his children a last fond look, he shut the door behind himself.

Draco, understanding how incredibly indulgent his parents had been, was determined to enjoy every single second. He cradled Granger closer and started humming.

He was still humming when she woke up. To his surprise, she began humming too. Draco nuzzled her neck and said "But I thought muggles don't have house elves."

"They don't."

"Then how do you know it?"

"Tibby taught me."

"You learnt it for me?"

She nodded. "Of course."

He made himself stop with a single kiss. "Teach me one of yours, then."

Hermione crinkled her nose. "Hmmm, what's a good one?" She looked adorable like that, and only the certain knowledge of the blistering of his life prevented Draco from saying to hell with it and making love to her.

"Oh, I know.' Granger snuggled closer and started, very softly. Then, abruptly, she stopped. Draco started to say something and thought better of it. He just put his arms around her and held her.

"Your parents?"

"Yes."

"Shhh. How did it go, precious? 'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…don't remember the rest, but the sentiment is there, all right?"

Hermione laughed even as a few tears trickled down her cheeks. "Thank you."

"It's only the truth. Lie back now, like a good girl."

They lay together in the dimmed room and held one another, and neither called for a candle, for, shrouded in darkness, it was as though the sun was shining, and only for them.