This is quite an unusual one, but I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you guys will enjoy reading it just as much. :)
As before, this story is complete. I'll update every few days. Hopefully FFN won't have a bitch fit and postpone updates longer than need be!
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Despite the fact that he loved his daughter more than anything in the world, Draco was not terribly excited to bring her to Hogwarts for his 'make-up' seventh year. Regardless of the added responsibilities, he was sure there would be plenty of ridicule and whispering. He just hoped no one would attempt to hurt Carina; if they did, he wasn't sure he'd be able to keep from resorting to drastic measures.
Carina had been a well-kept secret for two years. Not a soul in the Wizarding world, save the parents' families, knew of the Malfoy child. It had been during the Christmas holidays of his fifth year that Draco had knocked up a pretty French girl during a family trip. The girl, Emilie, had informed him of her condition two and a half months later. In September of his sixth year, their daughter had been born. She'd stayed with her mother in France, visiting the Manor every once in a while to see her father and paternal grandparents. The prospect of a daughter had been a great weight on Draco's shoulders along with his mission from the Dark Lord.
Two weeks after Carina's first birthday, Emilie had died of cancer. It was a shock for Draco, but he didn't know quite how to feel about it. He hadn't loved her. He'd been in the middle of a War.
Emilie's parents had (resentfully) taken care of Carina for the remainder of the War.
Afterward, Draco had been freed from conviction due to Potter's appeals in court. He'd not done the same for Lucius, who had then been transferred to Azkaban. Narcissa had perished only a few days after the imprisonment of her husband due to what the Healers called "Severe Post-Traumatic Stress," but Draco thought it had mostly to do with his father.
Carina went to live with her father in Wiltshire near the middle of July once all charges had officially been cleared. Draco had planned to send her back to her grandparents in France in September when school began again, but was met with outrage and loathing. They'd been unwilling to care for the daughter of the man who had ruined their daughter's life. They blamed her death on him.
He was left with a nearly-three-year-old daughter, an upcoming school year, no parental figures, and no one to care for her.
He'd done the only thing he could possibly do: he'd spoken to Professor McGonagall, the Headmistress, to work something out. He'd owled the woman and been allowed to come to the school to talk.
She'd been reluctant at first; shocked to find Draco Malfoy holding a little girl in his arms, quite clearly his daughter when taking into account the platinum blonde hair and fair skin. She had her mother's eyes, though: deep brown.
But when Carina had asked McGonagall how she made her hair so nice, the old woman had broken into a grin and not been capable of turning them away (Draco had later bought her all the ice cream she could possibly want). McGonagall had given Draco permission to house his daughter at the school, given that she be kept under control. If so much as one accident occurred, they would both be out.
So on September first Draco pushed the cart carrying their trunks and Carina's new kitten in one hand and held his daughter's in the other as they passed through the gateway to Platform 9¾. Never before had he done so without his own parents.
No one seemed to spot the odd couple immediately. Draco let out a relieved sigh and led his daughter over to the smoking steam engine, packing Carina's small trunk snugly inside his own and loading them before helping Carina on board.
"Careful with Emilie!" Carina shouted, her light French accent coming out. She grabbed at the kitten that Draco held in his arms.
"I'll be very careful. You can hold her when we get to a cabin, alright, love?" Carina smiled and grabbed her daddy's finger with her hand, following at his side as he dragged the trunk along behind them.
He knew they'd get stares on the train, but it was still discomfiting. They'd gotten on board early; Draco had made sure of that so they could get a compartment alone. But there were still people on board, almost all of them younger than himself, and they all looked on curiously.
They settled down in one of the very back compartments and Carina played with her kitty as Draco heaved the trunk onto a shelf. "Emilie is very excited," she said when he'd finally sat down across from her. "She wants to go to school."
"Is that so?" Draco laughed. "What does she want to learn?" Carina seemed to ponder the question for a few moments before answering enthusiastically.
"She wants to learn magic!"
Draco chuckled. "Well, it's a good thing we're going to Hogwarts, then, isn't it?" Carina nodded fervently.
"Yes. I think Emilie will like Professor Migonall, don't you, Papa?"
"I think the two will get along quite well," Draco agreed with a smile. "Professor McGonagall likes cats very much."
"She does?" The best thing, Draco thought, about little kids, was that everything was so very exciting. At the news that Professor McGonagall liked cats, Carina looked as though she'd won a year's supply of chocolate frogs.
"Indeed." He smiled. "Carina, your bow's falling out, love." The girl's hand flew up to the top of her head where a pretty red bow sat atop her blonde hair. "Let me fix it." Draco leaned over and refastened the bow, running his hands through her hair more than necessary just because he enjoyed the feeling of it so much. It reminded him of his mother, of the times she would pet his hair when he was a little boy.
Over the next half hour the train began filling up, and in no time at all they started moving.
"Papa?" Draco looked away from the window to his daughter, who was standing in front of him with her hands on his knees. As soon as their eyes met she lifted her arms, silently asking to be picked up. Draco smiled lightly and pulled her onto his lap where she buried her face in his chest.
"Everything okay, sweetheart?"
"Tell me stories about when you were little," she said into his shirt. He watched as she brought her hand up and stuck her thumb in her mouth. It was a habit Narcissa had constantly tried and failed to break. Draco didn't have the heart to stop her; he remembered being reprimanded for the same thing. On the opposite side of the compartment the black cat was curled up in a ball sleeping. Draco sighed and kissed the top of Carina's head.
"What kind of stories, darling?" There was a small pop as the thumb was pulled from her mouth.
"Good stories. When you were little like me." The thumb entered her mouth once more and Draco could feel the faint motion of her jaw on his chest as she sucked lightly on the digit.
"I don't remember very much from that age, but I can tell you stories from when I was a little bit older. Is that okay?" She nodded this time instead of talking. "Hmm... Well, one of my favorite memories with Grandma is when I was about eight or nine. She took me out to Diagon Alley on a Sunday afternoon without your Grandpa, and we spent the whole day shopping and eating ice cream. We both used to adore the kind with little pieces of Chocolate Frogs, though Grandpa never allowed it. Grandma and I indulged ourselves that day." Draco smiled at the memory. Outings with his mother had been a rare treat. She never had much time. Lucius always monopolized most of it. That afternoon had been carefree and wonderful with his mother. He pulled himself out of his daydream and looked down at his daughter, whose breathing had become shallow with sleep.
If the train had been uncomfortable, it was nothing to the Great Hall.
Draco could have counted on one hand the amount of people who were not gawking at them without shame.
"Papa, why's everyone looking?" Carina whispered as the two made their way over to the Slytherin table.
"Because they can't believe how cute you are." Carina giggled and allowed Draco to pull her onto his lap. They were alone near the end of the Slytherin table. The younger students sat huddled together at the other end, talking animatedly, only occasionally glancing over now at the anomaly that was Draco and Carina. The older students that had returned (Blaise, Pansy, Theodore Nott, and Daphne Greengrass) sat together a bit farther down from him, though still separated from the other students. Draco couldn't see them talking—he doubted they had much to say to each other. Not one of them spared him a glance save for Pansy, who only looked over once.
Carina busied herself with ogling the empty golden plates that littered the table, gleaming prettily in the light of the candles floating above them.
"Papa?" Carina whispered, pulling Draco from his mindless scan of the Gryffindor table where the boy hero himself sat surrounded by admirers. He was smiling brightly, not a care in the world plaguing his perfect head. Draco sighed.
"Where's the ceiling?" Draco looked up to see stars twinkling down at him mockingly. He felt a tightness in his chest as he remembered first walking into the Great Hall as a new student eight years ago. How things had changed.
"It's charmed," he explained, looking back down at his daughter. Her eyes shined excitedly. "The ceiling in this room always looks like the sky outside." Carina's little mouth opened wide in amazement.
Draco laughed. "Really. You'll see in the morning, it'll be sunny!"
"Wow," she whispered, and again Draco was taken by the sheer enormity of her innocence.
The Hall became suddenly quiet when Professor McGonagall stood up at the Head Table and welcomed all students back, especially the returning eighth years who'd chosen to make up the schooling they'd lost due to the War. Predictably, she recognized Harry Potter, whose cheeks flashed red like the humble hero that he was, even while applause broke out around the Hall.
And then, almost as though everything had returned to normal, save the horrible feeling left in the absence of one Albus Dumbledore (Draco clenched his teeth harshly), McGonagall asked the new Deputy Headmaster, Professor Flitwick, to open the doors to the entrance hall and lead the Sorting Ceremony.
As the students were sorted into their respectful Houses, Draco couldn't decide whether he was more disgusted by the enthusiasm of every new Gryffindor or the horrified looks that plagued every last new Slytherin. Draco clapped all the same and, in turn, Carina clapped as well, though she hadn't the slightest inkling as to what she was applauding. At one point during the ceremony Draco had the misfortune of catching Potter's eye and recoiled at the look of contemplation on the boy's face. Surely he'd seen Carina; who hadn't? But for some reason (which Draco thought he could figure out if he thought about it hard enough) having Potter see his daughter and inevitably judge him was worse than absolutely anyone else.
The remainder of the ceremony passed rather uneventfully with the exception of numerous covert glances at him and his daughter. Draco dutifully ignored them, confident that Carina was none the wiser, so absorbed with watching the Sorting Hat, McGonagall, the ceiling, and the golden plates was she.
When the food appeared he made her a small plate of chicken, potatoes, and green beans to work through, which she just managed to do, provided Draco repeatedly refocus her attention. Carina was a true wonder when it came to dessert, though, as Draco well knew already: the child had about as much interest in the innumerable sweets to choose from as she did in the regular food. He tried only once to offer her a treacle tart, but ended up picking at it himself while she incessantly bombarded him with questions.
When the food finally disappeared and McGonagall sent everyone off to bed Draco held Carina's hand all the way down into the dungeon and through the maze of hallways that led to the wall behind which lay the Slytherin dorms. He helped Carina through after the first years had scrambled inside, making certain she remembered the password ("Unity"), though he explicitly told her she should not be out wandering by herself under any circumstances.
Draco was delighted to note that the few eighth years were given their own rooms down a separate hallway. He smiled appreciatively when he saw two beds in his designated room: a larger four-poster for himself and a smaller one just a few feet away for Carina. McGonagall certainly had made sure to accommodate him. He made a mental note to thank her later.
"Is that my bed?" Carina exclaimed as soon as she set eyes on the smaller bed with her trunk resting at the end.
"It certainly is," Draco chuckled. He watched as Carina raced over and opened the curtains, squealing in delight when she found Emilie resting contentedly on one of the pillows. The bed was certainly smaller than her bed at home, but he imagined it was bigger than most children her age could claim to possess.
"Alright, why don't we find your pajamas and toothbrush and get you washed up," Draco said, coming over to help her do so. They dug out a pink nightgown depicting a picture of Babbity Rabbity and matching pink socks, along with a sparkly pink toothbrush. Draco swore he would never own anything pink again as long as he lived.
He helped Carina brush her teeth and comb her hair in the connected bathroom and then change into her pajamas and climb into bed. He found her stuffed elephant as well and sat down on the side of her bed as she wiggled around until she was comfortable. Emilie hopped off the bed, disturbed by the movement, and slunk out through the small crack in the door and into the hallway. Carina didn't notice, only yawned and shuffled further under the quilt.
"I like Hogwarts," she said, very clearly working to keep her eyes open. Draco smiled fondly and kissed her on the forehead.
"I'm glad. Get some sleep, love. We have to be up early to get Daddy's classes at breakfast tomorrow."
"Are classes fun?"
Draco laughed. "They're interesting," he said with a wink. Carina giggled.
"What will we learn?"
"Oh, lots of things. Too many to count!"
Carina seemed astounded by this number.
"Wow," she whispered. She thought for a moment, then, before asking, "Will Professor Migonall be our teacher?"
"I'm not sure," he admitted with a smile. "Professor McGonagall used to teach Transfiguration, back before she was the Headmistress. But I'm not sure if she'll still teach now."
"She wasn't always Headmistress?" Carina asked, full of wonder. Draco refrained from biting his lip.
"No, sweetheart. In fact, just last year she was still a teacher."
"Who was the Headmistress before?"
Draco sighed. "Do you remember the picture of a man with black hair in Daddy's room at home?" he asked weakly. Carina nodded. "He was the Headmaster last year. His name was Professor Snape. But he was only there for one year. Before that it was Professor D—" Draco stopped and cleared his throat, "Professor Dumbledore. He was Headmaster all the way up until my sixth year here."
Carina wiggled around a bit, enthralled by the story. "Why did he stop being Headmaster?" she whispered, her eyes wide.
Because of your daddy, Draco thought. Because Severus killed him. He shook his head and refocused on his daughter, the very picture of innocence, and kissed her forehead once more.
"That's a story for another night, darling. You need to get to sleep."
He tucked the blanket around her and kissed both cheeks before drawing the curtains around her bed. He changed into pajamas himself and closed the door before washing up and sliding into bed for a fitful night's sleep.