A/N: I'm so sorry for the delay in update. It hurts me to leave things off like that. I'm also sorry for the somewhat shortness of this chapter. I know it's not as long as the others, but I had to throw you guys a bone. :) The original chapter was supposed to be 3,000 words longer than this, and that portion was no where ready to be posted.
Thank you readers, reviewers, followers, and those who have favored this fic.
Thank you for the reviews: HallowRain8587, The Darkest wizard, Angelus Draco, CORN, hkmac, Guest, Anjali K, Kou Shunu', BeWhoYouAre99, Aya Diefair, Guest, kitcatscratch, Cordee, Team Dramione, and Guest.
To BeWhoYouAre99: Yes, I do know how I'm going to end the story. I just don't know when.
To kitcatscratch: I like your observations of Blaise, and I really like how you may have thought Draco wasn't always faithful. ;)
I know many of my readers were disappointed in Hermione and may have been upset on how I made her do a complete 180. It does sound out of character for J.K.'s Hermione. However, I feel that I added more characteristics to this Hermione. I've let my audience know that she makes faulty decisions when she drinks around men. We know that she slept with Mr. Li while inebriated and that she kissed Blaise, too. So it's OOC, yes, but not OOC for JJ's adaptation.
Warning: I'd like to remind or tell those who weren't aware that what Hermione and Draco had wasn't healthy. In this chapter, you will see some more of that toxicity.
It's time for the next chapter! I apologize for any errors. I'll do a clean-sweep in the near future.
I dedicate this to the many who lost their lives in the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and the resulting Indonesian Tsunami.
Hermione tucked her chin closer to her chest and wished Dennis would cover himself up with more than just a strategically placed hand-cloth. She had a towel over her torso long enough to cover the tops of her crossed legs and another towel covering her folded arms. The majority of her skin was covered, but it wasn't enough. It wouldn't ever be enough at that moment.
"No, thank you," she replied hoarsely. She was sitting with her back against the tub, and Dennis sat across from her with his back against the cupboards beneath the sinks. The air was mildly foggy and fragrant from their shower, and honestly for her, that's all it was. Between the time of…readying him and the nearly hot shower, the alcoholic haze lifted some. Enough for her to realize what she was doing was WRONG! In all her twenty-five years, she had never done anything this bad. Sure, she did plenty of stupid things in her late teens and early twenties. None of those scratched what she had almost done.
Purposefully, she spent more time readying Dennis for lovemaking than necessary, and the moment ended. He'd been grateful for the release, sluggish from the four beers, but clear-minded enough in wanting to reciprocate.
"You didn't get yours, though," he reminded tiredly, digging his fingers into his eyelids with a yawn. "I can go again now or if you want something else…"
If Hermione didn't want to throw up and light herself on fire, the offer would've tempted her. She did like 'something else' very much, but she didn't deserve it. "I'm fine. I think the wine got to me." In more ways than one. "I'm not feeling up to it. I'm sorry. You should…um…probably go."
"Hermione," he groaned and raked a hand down his face. "This wasn't right, was it? I shouldn't have done what I did. I shouldn't have come back to your room. It was foolish."
She tried to smile at his attempt at humility but couldn't. It hurt her face. "I didn't stop you."
He nodded and looked away and swallowed. "You love this guy, right?"
She resisted the urge to curl up on the tiled floor and weep. Instead, she solemnly nodded. "Yes. He gave me Alex. He gave me…" So much more than that, and I repaid him by obliterating his trust. "Happiness when I thought I couldn't have that anymore. Sometimes I still think I can't."
Minutes ticked by until Dennis broke the silence. "I don't want to leave again. I don't want to see more of my friends die. I don't want to die. When I saw you at the beach, I thought to myself 'Now, there's a girl I wouldn't mind coming home to if I…if I lived. You're not like other girls, Granger. There's something about you that's just…different. Does he know that? This guy you're with? Does he know how special you are?"
Hermione chuckled softly but miserably. They weren't so different from each other. She understood the emotional scarring of losing friends. Like her, he probably witnessed many gruesome deaths. She remembered Fred's body lying motionless on the rubble as George fell to his knees and howled in anguish. She remembered Molly on the other side of her fallen son, clutching the fabric of her robes above her chest and screaming.
Turning her head to the side, she saw her discarded flower hairclip beside her. Clearing her throat, she picked it up and ripped the blossom away from the plastic claws and said, "I'm not special, Dennis, but you are. You deserve someone better to come home to." She leaned over and offered it to him. "Keep this."
His Adam's apple bobbed as he accepted the flower and smiled painfully. "I don't have anything to give you."
Hermione said nothing but brought her knees to her chin and waited for him to leave. A few minutes later, he got up and stole one of the robes the room offered and slipped it on. He retrieved his wet clothes from the shower and his shoes from the bedroom and left. The moment she heard the door click, it triggered the dam to burst. She cried for hours, only moving to go lay on the bed where sleep evaded her.
She would never know he treasured that flower, and that the moment he entered his hotel room, he slipped the flower into a novel he was reading and then later into his Psych 101 textbook. He used it as a bookmark while studying on base. On March 13th of 2005, he and twelve other soldiers would be gunned down in their chopper. His belongings would be sent home, and his mother would find the smashed, dried flower in the crevice of the book. Sorrowfully, she'd slip it into an empty plastic casing and use it to keep her place in every book she'd read from then on. Mrs. Walton would never know where he got the flower or why he had it inside his textbook. All she knew was that it had been his, and that he must've cherished it enough to take it with him to Iraq.
Hermione twisted her hair into a braid and then washed her face again with cold water, trying to get the puffy pinkness out of her cheeks and eyes. It was no use. Every time she thought the last tear was shed, she'd start again.
After wiping her face dry, she sniffed and stared at herself in utter disgust. Despite having not actually slept with Dennis, the guilt was overwhelming enough as if she had. They had kissed and touched each other, and that qualified as cheating in Hermione's book. It was going to in Draco's, as well.
She'd have to tell him. There was no way she could keep this from him.
A knock on the door stirred her out of her thoughts. She ordered room service for breakfast for Alex who was sat on the edge of the bed watching cartoons. He was only in a diaper still because she hadn't decided what they were going to do today. She knew what she wanted to do and that was not leave the room. Nothing sounded alluring. Besides, rain was pouring outside which was just as well. It fit her mood perfectly.
Rubbing her nose to erase all traces of snot, she then opened the door and gasped. Her hands flew to her mouth and she screamed into them. There stood Draco outside her door looking awful. His usually immaculate hair was in disarray, and he wore disheveled winter clothes suited for a walk in England…or Salem. And his eyes, they were bloodshot and sleepless like hers. His nose was also looking a tad swollen. Had he been crying?
Her hands dropped from her mouth. "Draco, what are you doing here?" He should not be here. He can't be here. This was all too much. Why was he here? How did he get here?
"You weren't home," he blubbered and stumbled into the doorway and enveloped her into a hug. Stiffly, she returned it and he sagged in her arms. She bristled when feeling wet drops on her neck.
"What's wrong?" she asked and tried to pull away to look at him. "Are you all right? Come in." She guided him into the room and let the door close. He managed to let go of her enough so that he was only holding onto her waist and staring down at her. His leaned down and touched his forehead to hers, not breaking eye-contact. She heard him swallow and saw his tongue poke out and wet his lips.
"I made a terrible mistake," he whispered. "One, I fear, you won't forgive me for, regardless of my desperate pleas."
"Wh-what did you do?" she stuttered, leaning back to study his features. His eyes were soft and full of anguish and regret. Yet, his stare was firmly on hers, like he wouldn't dare lower himself any further by looking elsewhere when confessing his transgression.
"I slept with someone," he admitted and allowed himself to bow his head in shame before sinking to his knees and pressing his face into her stomach. Though muffled, he begged, "Please! Please don't hate me! I can't live you with you hating me! I love you. I swear I do. She was a mistake. I drank too much. I got your letters. All of them, but I was too frightened to reply. I knew if I wrote back, I'd tell you everything. I was afraid you'd tell me not to come for Christmas and to stay out of the baby's life."
His arms encircled her waist tightly and she could feel the wetness seep through her shirt. Tears of her own fell, and she sank to the floor with him, and he clung to her, cupping her face and brushing butterfly kisses everywhere, muttering apologies. "I'm sorry. She meant nothing. I was upset and drank too much. I'll never do it again. I swear. I swear on anything you want me to, just don't tell me to leave. Tell me to stay. Tell me you love me."
"I love you," she whispered without hesitation, without thought. It was like her tongue released the words on their own accord, bypassing permission from her brain. They fell out of her like her body knew before her mind that she loved him.
His soft kisses stopped. "You do?" he asked skeptically.
Violent sobs racked her tired frame. She nodded and lunged at him, pulling him into a hug, resting her chin on his shoulder. "I love you so much. I'm sorry."
"No." His palm came up to cradle the back of her skull. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Hermione."
"You don't understand. I…" She squeezed him tighter before pulling away to stare at him. "I invited a man over last night. Draco, I'm so sorry. The wine flowed, and you hadn't responded to my letters. A part of me thought we were over, and the other part was lonely. But there's no excuse good enough for what I did."
"Hermione, no." He visibly shook, unfathomable hurt darkening his eyes. To her, it was like watching him have a nightmare come to life. She realized this was his greatest fear—losing her to another man.
"Please, Draco. Please forgive me, too. I promise I'll only be yours if you pay me the same respect."
Draco had arrived at her flat in Salem a little before six in the morning, only to find it empty. He found a folded piece of parchment on the kitchen counter with his name on it. Inside, he discovered that his girlfriend and child were spending the holidays in Kauai at the Hyatt. Unless he used Muggle technology, there wasn't anyway he'd be able to contact her. Instead of doing the sane thing and simply picking up a payphone in Muggle Salem, he returned to the UPA and purchased a portkey to San Francisco where he spent his two-hour layover. From there, he went to Oahu where he learned he'd have to take a Muggle flight to his destination. He pulled out his seldom-used Muggle credit card and Muggle identification and was led to a door that linked directly to the Muggle Airport. He waited three hours before he was able to get a flight. It hadn't been his first Muggle flight but felt like his longest, though that was far from true.
The moment he arrived in Kauai, he had to immediately hand over his wand before getting a spot on a shuttle to the hotel. At the hotel, it took a bit of charm and possibly illegal wandless magic in getting the clerk to give him Hermione's room number.
Draco told her all of this as Hermione's back rested against the headboard of the bed as his face lay buried in her stomach. She combed her fingers through his locks and tilted her head to see if he was all right. Yes, he was but lethargic and puffy-eyed.
With all her heart, she forgave him for straying. Reciprocating that pardon may take longer for him, and Hermione wasn't going to dwell on the unfairness. Not from the haunted expression she'd seen when confessing her sin. Shooting a Cruciatus at his manhood would have been less painful than what she did. The worse part for her was not knowing how to fix his mood. She'd rather die than instigate sex at the moment, but if it made him feel better in the slightest, she'd suffer in silence.
"I love you, Draco," she crooned and tried to put a smile in her tone. She dug her short nails into the crook of skull and scratched. He purred like kitten, so she continued, "See that little boy over there by your feet? The one watching the telly? You gave him to me, remember? You gave me the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. He makes me so happy, and you're the one who helped. No one else can claim such a feat."
Their son's bare back was inches from his father's foot. Sweetly, Draco gently rubbed his sock-clad foot at the base of Alex's spine, right above his diaper. The boy turned around and giggled, swatting at the appendage. "No tickle, Daddy!" He scooted in a way that he was leaning against his father's shins, that way he could keep a close eye on the feet.
"I want to marry you," Draco said.
His tone was that of a wanting child disallowed dessert after a sadly incompetent dinner. She sucked in her lips and exhaled softly through her nose. "We can't."
Her reply had little to do with the other excuses she tossed at him previously. This wasn't about not wanting to return to England or merging into the Malfoy family. She denied him because of what happened. So quickly they tossed their promises to the side after having an ugly dispute. They were in no way ready for such a commitment or inviolability.
"I know," he responded miserably, "but one day I will ask again."
"Can we pretend this never happened?"
"Sweetheart, I don't think that's possible. We hurt each other too much."
"I know and I want to put it behind us."
"No, you want us to go about like it never happened, and we can't do that. It's too big, even for us."
"Please. I'll never mention it again. I won't even ask who the bloke was, where you met, and why you chose him. I'll overlook it all if you can."
"Of course I can, Draco, but it's not healthy. Ignoring it won't fix anything."
She glimpsed at the room service tray on the bedside table. Alex ate the toast and some of the pineapple but didn't care for oatmeal that morning. Nicking one of the small squares of pineapple, she brought it to Draco's mouth. His mouth enclosed around her fingers and sucked the juices off of them. They repeated this until the rest of the fruit was gone. Hermione then tried the same tactic with the oatmeal, this time with a spoon. At first he was hesitant, not being overtly fond of the cereal, but ate it anyway. The angle was awkward and dribbles of oatmeal often dropped on the comforter, but that didn't stop him from consuming the entire dish.
"When was the last time you ate?" she asked. He shrugged and Hermione suspected he hadn't a meal since Christmas dinner in England. With the time differences and his hurry to get here, he hadn't eaten in about a day. "Are you still hungry? I can order more food," she suggested and eyed the window and the downpour outside. Tropical storms weren't all bad. Despite loathing the thought of leaving the hotel room, going out with Draco and Alex might be nice.
Hermione was about to voice the option to Draco and Alex when her son made a whining noise. He pointed at the television that once had some ridiculous, child program but now was now displayed a news alert.
"Go back!" her son exclaimed.
"What's wrong?" Draco shifted on Hermione's lap, but she wiggled to get him off of her and crawled towards the edge of the bed.
"As you can see the damage is catastrophic. Estimations of deaths are up to 100,000 so far," the newscaster stated as bird's-eye footage of watery-wrecked landmasses of buildings and roads were shown. Horrified, Hermione cupped her mouth and read the strip of words flying across the bottom of the screen.
"What…What did they just say? I don't understand," Draco said.
"The tsunami is believed to be triggered by the Indian and Burma Plate in the Indian Ocean, setting off several devastating waves to the surrounding, populated areas. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, and Thailand were all affected. The death toll is increasing by the second and hospitals are being swarmed. Humanitarian organizations from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and many others are doing what they can to enter the areas as soon as possible, but any immediate relief is looking grim."
"Oh, gods, Draco," Hermione whispered, her heart reaching out to all the victims and their families. Already emotional and sensitive from her mistakes and Draco's company, tears blurred her vision. Sniffling, she turned to face him and frowned at his blanched features. "It's awful, I know, but-"
"I have to leave." He got up from the bed and started scouring the room for his shoes.
"Leave? You…you just got here." She climbed off the mattress and followed him around the room. "What's the matter?"
He found his shoes and shoved his feet into them and started running fingers through his mussed hair. "Everything. I have to get back to England right away."
"Why? Draco, there's no way you can get a portkey from here to England. I'm sure they've all been cancelled until after the New Year. I doubt you can even get a direct Muggle flight this short of notice and with everything going on…"
"Then I'll just have to go back the way I came. I'll catch a flight to Oahu. From there, a portkey to Salem…"
"Hold on just a minute," Hermione pleaded and put herself between him and the door, his hand already on the handle. "You got here not even an hour ago, and now you have to leave. Tell me what's wrong."
"My father and I have business in Sri Lanka and India which all have likely collapsed in less than a day. Our employees, our assets are…" His voice wavered and he cleared his throat. "Please let me go."
Hermione furrowed her brow but didn't budge from her spot. She shook her head. "You're not going over there."
"My father and I will have to assess the damage."
"Send someone else."
"I can't send somebody else! Not from here! We are cut off from our world!" He turned the handle but she kept her weight on the door and dug her heels into the carpet.
"What if you got hurt? You could..." She threw herself at him, jumping up and clinging to his neck and burying her face into his throat. This was mad! All of it was! The devastation happened on the other side of the world. It saddened her but shouldn't be affecting her in this way.
"You don't understand." He returned the hug, resting his chin on her head. "These people, my employees and assets, they're friends and insured through my father's company. Hermione, I have to leave."
Her hold tightened and his lips lowered to her ears. "My parents think I'm there, Hermione. I told them I was going there for business before I left for Salem, and they haven't heard from me since."
Hermione woke with a gasp and sat up on the bed and placed a hand over her racing heart. She whipped her head around and searched for the perpetrator who whispered in her ear. When concluding that it was no one and was indeed from her dream, she relaxed and sighed bodily, loose and fluid tears slipping down her cheeks. Sleeping Draught always gave her vivid and unsettling dreams, sometimes good but mostly bad and from real memories.
Sniffing, she wiped her face and pushed the knitted blanket off of her. Blaise must've drugged her tea and put her back in the spare bedroom. Bastard, she thought and ran her tongue against the roof of her mouth and grimaced. She was thirsty and wouldn't pass up a bowl of some type of creamy soup with some buttered bread.
She stumbled out of the room and down the hall and found Alex asleep on the sofa in front of the fireplace. She went to go wake him and tell them they were leaving when a hand grabbed her shoulder. Blaise's palm covered her mouth to keep her from screaming to loudly. Glaring at him, she shirked his hand. "Don't scare me like that, and don't ever drug me again." She punched him in the stomach at the word 'ever'. He winced at the assault and stepped away.
"You look..." he surveyed her speculatively, "more rested than you did before. Were you crying?"
"No," she lied, "but spiking that tea was a smarmy thing to do, Blaise. I'm disappointed." She was too weary to give him a thorough tongue-lashing when all she'd accomplish is making him slightly miffed. Instead, she chose to discipline in a less trying way. Soft, disquieted tones were always a go-to strategy for parents. "You can't go around drugging people, even when you think it's for the best. Do you understand?"
"No," he sputtered and stared at her like she'd gone insane.
That went swimmingly. How on earth did he make it through childhood without a primary discipliner? She had difficulty picturing his mother, a woman she never met, being firm with her son. The lifestyle she garnished herself with seemed too bloodthirsty and vain to ever properly give Blaise a good-talking to when needed.
"Just please don't tell me you gave some to Alex."
"Of course not. After his breakfast, he settled down with an old book of mine from Hogwarts and eventually fell asleep around noon. You slept for hours, Hermione. It's nearly two o' clock. Are you thirsty? Hungry?"
She nodded, her pride lowering from the offer of much needed nourishment and assumed Blaise wouldn't dine her like the Malfoys did, with cold, questionable looking soup.
"Let's get you some juice from the kitchen. I'll even let you pick out and pour your own. As for some food, I hope you can wait at least a couple of hours. When we get there, I'll insure dinner is ready at five."
"When we get where? Blaise…" Hermione folded her arms and sucked in sharply. "Please. I beg. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't even want to be here."
"You'll like the villa. I promise. No Malfoys, no reporters, and it's not as cold." His arm snuck around her shoulder and she pathetically slumped against him. "You'll love the heated pool and the Jacuzzi in your room. I'll schedule an appointment with Isabella, and she'll work out those kinks you've let yourself accumulate over the years. She may even be able to massage that stick right out of your arse. Hmmm? What say, you?"
"I hate you."
"And lucky for you, I have a direct Floo-line, so we won't have to worry about that visa rubbish. By the way, I sent a Howler to Theodore on your behalf. He hasn't responded which is just as well. I just don't know about him, Granger. He was relatively normal before you showed up. Now he's jumping into half-frozen rivers and taking up thievery. I swear, woman, do you make all men looney?"
"I…I'm beginning to think so," she miserably muttered and pulled away from him and rubbed the back of her neck. It was a bit sore and achy. She turned back towards Blaise and eyed him distrustfully. "You said my room has a Jacuzzi?"
Behind the enlarged photograph, a puff of smoke emerged. Phil heard an approving hum, and the picture was placed on the desk. His employer stole another drag from her cigarette before smirking. He heard her expensive heels tapping against the immaculately stained, wooden flooring. She puffed her habit until the stick was nearly done and smashed it into her ashtray. While grinding it, she said, "Your dedication is inspiring."
That wasn't the type of thank you he was aiming for, but he'd take it over getting sacked any day.
"It paid off, didn't it?"
She picked up the photograph of Scorpius Malfoy and turned it towards him. The young lad blinked uncomfortably at the flashing light of the camera and scowled. "I would have preferred him smiling. We'll definitely have to edit that frown."
"It's not like I could have bloody walked up to Miss Granger and asked for a bit of cameo with her son, now could I?"
Penelope stroked her chin and looked at the photo again. "He's a cutie. Like his father. Not a lot of his mum which is just as well. Didn't get pretty until later, that one." She discarded Scorpius' picture in favor of Hermione's. "Hmmm. She looked better before she disappeared. I'll be kind and send this to Touch-Ups. Erase those duffle-bags underneath those eyes and brighten up that mane of hers. I want these pictures running with another article on the affair tomorrow morning."
"I got nothing more on the affair, Pen," said Phil with a shrug. "The best I can do is recycle the old article."
"Spruce it up. Make it seem new. Make the public start asking new questions."
"They haven't even got answers to some of the old ones."
"That's not my problem. You're the reporter, Jacobson. You got lucky once in Diagon Alley. Maybe you'll get lucky again. I want you and Creevey on the full look out for anyone associated with the Malfoys."
"Creevey isn't going to do this. Not when it's involving Granger."
"He'll do it if he wants to keep that cushy new office of his and get his Christmas Bonus. Remind him he's merely an overpaid photographer and will go back to his meager internship earnings and first-floor cubicle if he doesn't comply with the assignment." Penelope pointed to her door. "I know at least a dozen reporters that'd gladly risk Azkaban for his position." She proceeded to scribble something down on a piece of parchment and sloppily folded it into a gliding-structure. "I'll alert him immediately while you get us some tea and those delicious little cakes from the cafeteria. Chocolate, please. No mistakes."
Lucius rubbed the pinched skin between his brows with a gentle finger and watched tears stream down his wife's face. Every ten or so seconds, she patted her cheeks with a handkerchief but made no real effort in stopping the flow. He supposed he wasn't making a real effort either in persuading her to cease. He, too, felt inwardly distraught, but he had already mourned.
The entire situation wasn't that surprising if he thought about. Lucius and his wife both knew of their son's thoughts on the matter but ignored them out of selfishness.
"'Cissa," he started softly and leaned back in his chair, glancing at the portrait above the mantle, "are you truly alarmed?"
"You aren't?" She wiped her nose and shook her head.
An hour ago, Mippy told Narcissa to come quickly to her husband's office. When she arrived, her husband sat in the sofa in front of the fireplace drinking. Her initial thought was that he was speaking to their son. However, Draco stillness behind his frames froze her insides. It honestly felt like someone injected ice into her veins. He hadn't…No!
Her husband sighed. "No. We went against his wishes and made a portrait. It was unexpected, yes, but I'm not surprised. It's a rather dry existence, I imagine, watching life and never participating. Only we would give him company. I believe he'd have preferred someone else in keeping things interesting."
Narcissa rested her elbow on his desk and cupped her mouth. She closed her eyes and asked, "How could he have loved her, Lucius? She was here for months and I saw…I saw nothing. Now I can't even ask him. I won't ever know."
"You're most likely correct."
"There were things that I wanted to know but not entirely clear on when or how to ask."
At this, it was like his wife deflated, and she rested her arms and head on his desk. He frowned at her behavior. "Was there something even of greater importance that you wanted to know?"
"Lucius." She gathered herself into an upright position but her hands remained flat against wood. Sorrow, despair, and hurt tainted her blue eyes. "Lucius, I know something. Something Miss Granger and our son didn't see fit to inform us."
He arched a brow. "And?"
His wife hugged herself and rubbed her hands along the sleeves of her robe. "Remembered when Pansy sent that letter saying that she knew of Draco's relationship with Miss Granger and later we had tea. She told me some very upsetting information."
"This Pansy we're talking about, darling. It may have not been true or perhaps even exaggerated."
"She wouldn't lie about this. This wasn't frivolous gossiping. She was disturbingly honest, and she said…" She hesitated, unsure of how her husband was going to react. "She said that our son and Miss Granger…were going to have another baby."
Lucius stayed eerily silent, so she chanced a glance at him as he stood up from his chair. He straightened his robes and began pacing. A few moments past, and he inquired, "Foolish of them to try for such a thing before marrying. You'd think our son was trying to light fire to everything our families worked for so dedicatedly. I thought tradition meant something to that boy, but-"
"They didn't try. Lucius, they succeeded."
He halted his pacing and pinned her with a penetrating stare. "I don't gather. Where is this other half-blood child that Pansy spoke of?"
His wife shook her head grimly. "From what Pansy told me, Miss Granger was quite a bit along when she lost the baby. There was some irresponsible handling in her medicine that ultimately led to a miscarriage. Pansy was vague on certain bits, but I believe that's when our son and Miss Granger stopped seeing each other romantically."
Lucius appeared deeply troubled. His hands were clasped behind his back and his focus seemed downward. Finally, he whispered, "Such fools."
"The apothecary or Miss Granger and our son."
He turned away from her and stared at the wall. "We cannot go without blame. We have grossly underestimated our son's feelings."
"Of Miss Granger?"
"No, of us. Here, I thought our son harbored shame for falling in love and having a child with a Muggle-Born, thus, why he didn't tell us. It was not shame, though." He whirled around and rested against the back of his chair. "It was fear." In a softer, melancholy tone, he added, "He feared us."
"We don't kn-"
"We do. He…Gods! He failed taking precautions in preventing another child from being conceived. We are aware he made a mistake once. Draco would only repeat such a thing on purpose. That is not what one does if ashamed. A person usually hides mistakes, not adds to them." Lucius said nothing for a few moments, his forehead wrinkled. He sighed and stared at his wife squarely. "This…upsets me. I assume our son and Miss Granger took necessary actions against the apothecary."
"Yes," Narcissa replied quietly. "According to Pansy, she saw a side of Draco that we didn't. I can't believe we didn't notice. How could we have not, Lucius?"
"When did this all occur? Did Pansy tell you?"
"A few years ago. She would've been two, almost three."
"She?" His eyes narrowed and he cupped his chin. "Well, that explains everything."
"Don't you even think for one second-"
"…not one in centuries…"
"…at least not born…"
"Your skepticism does not change generations' worth of evidence. Malfoys cannot produce female offspring. The curse finds a way. I find it tragic our son had to experience it firsthand."
Narcissa gazed at her lap. She didn't believe in the Curse of Anthonine. That disgrace of a girl was nothing more than a Squib, and a Squib cannot cast a curse. Yes, the Malfoy line undeniably favored males, but accidents happened. Foolishness happened.
She coughed lightly and carefully said, "I think Alex would've liked having a younger sibling. His mother smothers him in too much affection. Not good for the boy."
"Like you were so much better with Draco," her husband ruefully commented with a smile, tapping his lips. "I think our son would've liked another child. He did try, at least. Can you imagine if there had been two?"
Tears stung Narcissa's eyes, and she pinched the bridge of her nose in embarrassment. "I think I would have liked that. She would've still been small and…darling, most likely. Alex is wonderful, but he's not a baby. Oh, Lucius, I could've bought her little dresses and shoes and-"
"It was never meant to be," he said gently and sat down in his chair. "It does us no good dwelling on what could've been."
"I'm angry. I feel robbed."
"We both were but not just of this. You're right. Alexander is not an infant anymore, and those years are particularly more appealing of a young one's life. We'll never get to experience those, so we have to make do. I suspect we will be seeing our grandson again shortly, and you did coerce Miss Granger in getting those baby pictures."
"I suppose." The pictures were not going to fill the void inside her chest, but she knew nothing would with the exception of spending more time with her grandson. If only Miss Granger wasn't so unbearable.
To be continued...