So I had the idea for this story last night while I was trying to fall asleep. Let me know what you all think of the things I do not own.
The last will and testament of Pansy Parkinson was to be read in Conference Room B on the fifth floor of the Ministry of Magic. Hermione Granger raced through the Atrium to the lifts to be there on time. Though she had no idea why her presence was required, it seemed wrong to defy the wishes of the recently deceased. The gates were just closing when she squeezed into the already full lift, and in seconds she was closer to her destination.
Voices could be heard in Conference Room B as Hermione neared; her heart pounding from a combination of trepidation and running. The first set of eyes to land upon her when she entered were none other than the silvery-gray squinted eyes of Draco Malfoy. The reading was called to order shortly thereafter, and the only available seat was beside her childhood enemy.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered, keeping his eyes on Pansy's lawyer.
Hermione shrugged. "I received notice yesterday requesting my presence. I didn't even know Pansy had passed away. What happened?"
The conversation ended when the lawyer read off their names together. "To Mr. Draco Malfoy and Miss Hermione Granger, I ask that my only daughter, Gemma Parkinson, be placed in your care. A monthly stipend has been set aside for her..."
Hermione flushed. She felt faint. The lawyer's assistant handed her an envelope, but Hermione couldn't see straight enough to read it at the moment. The letter was gripped in one hand as her other braced itself against the armrest of her chair.
"What's it say?" Draco asked, sounding only half interested. Her hand shook as she handed it to him. One white-blonde eyebrow rose, but he accepted it nonetheless. She heard the rustle of the paper as spots seemed to dance before her eyes.
"What's it say?" she asked, her voice wavering. He was silent for a moment as he finished reading the letter. Then he handed it back to her. When she didn't take it, he dropped it into her lap. One shaking hand reached down and lifted the letter.
Dear Gra Hermione,
I'm sure you're wondering why I would ask that you and Draco take on the role of guardians for my daughter. I spent much of my adolescent life loving Draco more than anything. I also spent much of that time hating you. In the five years since we've left Hogwarts, I've grown up.
Leaving Gemma to Draco seemed like an obvious choice when I set about to make my will. He was the one I had envisioned being her father long before she was even here. There's a sense of longing within him to not be his father, and I hope Gemma will help him to see that he isn't Lucius.
You, on the other hand, were a hard choice. We were never friends, spoke only to insult, and reveled in one another's shortcomings. But you were always patient and kind and brilliant. I hope that in working together to raise my little girl you and Draco will be able to support one another and help to keep the past in the past, where it belongs.
I truly appreciate you taking on such a heavy responsibility, but I know you will do well.
Hermione read the letter twice more before folding it in three's and tucking it back inside the envelope.
"Pansy was insane," Draco declared. "Had to be to think we'd raise her kid together. This will never work." He stood and walked out of the meeting. Hermione blinked rapidly before making her exit.
"Wait, Malfoy, wait," she called out when she found him near the lifts. He had one foot in and his hand held the gate back. "We have to talk about this. Did you even know she had a child?"
Draco took his hand off the gate and beckoned her to join him. The ride down was quiet; too quiet for Hermione's liking. He strode through the Atrium, always a few paces ahead of her. It wasn't until they reached a small muggle pub on the corner that he spoke. "I did know about Gemma. She's only six months old. As for her father, I don't know who he is, just that he ran off when Pansy told him she was pregnant."
"That's awful," Hermione whispered.
"Pansy was never a nice person, but even she didn't deserve that," Draco replied. The bartender placed two glasses of whiskey in front of them and they drank quietly. "My mum said she heard it was some kind of cancer. It sure as hell worked pretty quickly." He downed the rest of his glass and turned it over on the bar.
Hermione watched the amber colored liquid swirl around in her glass before setting it down. "I guess we should work out some kind of arrangement. Like we trade off each week who has her."
"That will never work," Draco muttered. "She's six months old. We can't pass her back and forth like a quaffle."
"So what are you suggesting?" Hermione asked incredulously. "That you and I live together?"
He nodded and took her forgotten drinking, downing it in a gulp. "I think it's the only way. Besides, I have house elves to help me out. What do you have?" The usual Malfoy sneer contorted his face as he waved to the bartender for a refill.
A guffaw was her only response before she tried a different approach. "I, umm...we can't." Taking a deep breath, she started over. "Malfoy, I can't live at your manor."
Setting down his drink, Draco turned to look at the witch beside him. It had been five years since he'd seen her last. She had filled out a bit, and the hair that he once teased her for was seemingly under control. Then he thought about the last time he had seen her - in battle. And the time before that, she was being tortured by his deranged Aunt Bellatrix. It dawned on him in that moment what she was saying.
"We'll find someplace else," he assured her, swallowing the last bit of whiskey. "Sometimes it's just as hard for me to be there."
In response she merely nodded. Her finger traced through the condensation on the bar top as they slipped into silence. The weight of the day's events hung heavily over her head. How could Pansy Parkinson ever begin to think that having Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger raise her child would be a good idea?