Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
A/N: I am so, so sorry that this is late. Please forgive me. It's my first really late update for this story, so you can forgive me, right? :)
Boxing Day again. This time it's at my house. Ron and I are on the couch nursing our tumblers of firewhiskeys and generally trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. It's difficult because Ron, on the suggestion of Padma of course, insists that we watch some old Hindi movie. Like a sponge, that man. On one hand, it's a genius idea. The movie is three hours long and I made Ginny promise that she wouldn't disturb us until after the movie was finished. I just bought us three hours of peace from nagging. I was lucky with that negotiation, but unfortunately I used up every bit of luck I would ever posses and now I am stuck here withering away in front of the television. If they break into song and dance one more time…
"You know Ron, what really bugs me is that you're not even with Padma."
"Ah, Harry, Harry, Harry," He responds shaking his head in sage-like amusement, "You have to realize that if the person that you're interested in likes Hindi movies then you should make the effort to like what that person likes. Compromise and effort are key qualities to a successful relationship."
Who is this person? I shake my head in amusement and hold back a laugh. It's men like Ron who get upset when women say that men will do anything to get a leg over.
"You think I'm joking. It's good to be divorced, Harry. Not that I'm saying you should divorce Ginny," he amends quickly, "but now that I'm divorced, all the things that I learnt I can apply to a new relationship."
He makes a bit of sense. I suppose it's better to look at divorce not as something that you lost, but rather the lessons gained.
"So, things are moving ahead for the two of you?"
"We're still friends, but I think we're heading in the right direction. I mean, she agreed to come to the Boxing Day lunch. That's usually a good sign if Hermione and Malfoy are anything to go by. For all we know, he probably fancied her from long ago and now look, they're married with children."
"Yeah, a man calls a woman a Mudblood and bam! Twenty-five years later she falls for him. You're onto something there, Ron. Any year now Padma will come round."
He nods in agreement, but then catches my sarcasm and he spins to hit me a glare. It doesn't last long and we chuckle lightly. I'm just glad that he can now make jokes about Hermione and Draco. Two years ago he could barely look her in the eye. No matter what jokes I make about Padma, I know that she has been instrumental in helping Ron move on from the divorce and for that I'll be ever grateful.
"But you're happy?" I ask him.
"I think so, I don't know. I'm happy Mione's happy, even if it's with him. And though it was rough, at least now we have a chance at being happy. At the time it was hurtful, but now I can see that it was for the best – well, not being with him is the best, rather us being with people that we can genuinely be with because we want to be with them, not because it's the right thing to do. Know what I mean?"
He's giving me a pointed look and I take a sip of my firewhiskey to ease the tension. Since when did he get so insightful?
Just then Luna sticks her head into the living room and I inwardly groan. Talk about timing. Ron gives me another pointed look that I ignore. "Lunch is ready. Also, heads up. Hermione's here…and guess who actually came along this year?"
Ron and I exchange looks. Ron looks shell shocked and makes me wonder if his little speech just now was pure bravado.
"Malfoy's here? He actually came?"
I'm actually not too surprised. Hermione's on her seventh month and though it's unlikely, I know Malfoy wouldn't want to risk a repeat of what happened to Astoria when she was seven months pregnant. It's understandable that he'd stick to Hermione like a wet shower curtain. Luna leaves and I get up to follow her. I stop at the door and look back at Ron who still hasn't moved from the sofa.
"You alright, mate?"
"Yeah, yeah, you know. It's just…I haven't actually seen her with him. I mean, we see each other and talk all the time, but it's like through the Floo or with Owls or with the kids are around. She's a good and sensitive witch. She never brings up him in any of our conversation. I can't even remember the last time I've seen him. I even sorta forgot that she was pregnant with his demon spawn. It's easy to…to pretend, you know."
"Look, if you want we can duck out and sit it out here all afternoon."
"No, no. I'm fine. Padma and I were talking about this, actually. I fucked up my marriage, Harry. I should've tried harder to save it and now I gotta face the consequences. Mione's happy and I have the chance to be happy and that's all that matters, right?"
"Is she happy?"
"She is. She really is happy with him. She doesn't have to say it. He makes her happy." His face darkens a bit at this, but he quickly shakes away the depression. "I guess at the end of the day that's all the matters, right?" He says as he gets up and we walk out to the backyard.
Hermione didn't come to the last Boxing Day lunch because apparently Narcissa extended the olive branch and invited her to France for the Christmas with the Malfoys. After the storm Ron created calmed down, we all agreed that if Narcissa could make the effort, so could we. Thus, when Hermione bounces in with the children and Malfoy in tow, we plaster on our smiles and try our best to be gracious…within reason of course.
I'm glad that they're here for the lunch. I see Hermione all the time, but Malfoy has made it his business to avoid me during the last two years, so I never get the chance to see him interact with his new family. Ron and I stand near the backdoor and silently observe the scene. No one notices us as yet. Malfoy pulls out a chair for Hermione and generally fusses over her until she gives him an I'm-not-an-invalid-but-if-you-don't-stop-being-a-mother-hen-I'll-make-you-an-invalid look. He backs off and takes a seat next to Rose. The children are in the middle of a useless argument.
"Every year it's the same argument. You girls always want Scorpius on your team." Hugo says.
"But he's the best and if you have girls against the boys teams, the boys get an automatic advantage." Rose counters.
"You don't even play Quidditch." Hugo argues.
"That's not the point."
"What's the matter?" Hermione asks.
"The girls want Scorpius to play for their team." Malfoy answers her.
"I thought we already established that Scorpius is playing for the other side." Rose answers with a cheeky grin at Scorpius and Al. Al face flushes as if we all don't already know that he and Scorpius aren't 'just really good mates.'
"I see what you did there. Not funny, Froggy!" Scorpius mock sneers at her and absently rubs Al's shoulder in sympathy. Al looks like he wants to faint, but eventually calms down when Scorpius whispers something to him. It's a rare public display on Scorpius' part and I honestly think he didn't even realize he did it until he sees his father staring at him. Scorpius quickly pulls back his hand from Al's shoulder, but seems to change his mind mid-movement. Jerkily and daringly he takes Al hand in his own, looking at his father the entire time.
Now this is interesting. Al told me recently that Malfoy said he'll treat him like he's part of the family. Apparently, Scorpius is just as doubtful about that declaration as I am.
"Maybe you should just not play any Quidditch this year." Hermione says seemingly oblivious to this game of wills going on at the side of her.
Malfoy speaks up, his eyes still trained on his son and Al. "Well, are the odds really that stacked? Scorpius is the best seeker and Albus is the best chaser. The two of you are…well matched, no matter the team you're on."
Scorpius breaks into an even rarer big grin, and so too does Hermione, at Malfoy's double meaning words, so I guess she was only playing dumb to the silent interaction going on beside her.
"So then what would we do? It's tradition. What do you want us to do? Play Gobstones or something? Only an idiot would play Gobstones instead of Quidditch." Hugo says.
"Scorpius, but didn't you ask me to get you that book on Gobstones moves?" Hermione teases him.
That one word has both she and Malfoy speechless. I'm betting it's the first time he's ever called her that and I'm also betting that he did it as his own way of saying thanks to his father and step-mother for being supportive.
"Oh, so you're an idiot?" Hugo asks and the table dissolves into more ruthless teasing going back and forth between the children and the adults.
They look like a perfectly normal and loving family and I can tell that it hurts Ron to the core, so much so that he has to leave the scene for a while.
When Ron comes back out to the backyard and says hello to everyone there's a brief moment of awkward where it feels like all sound was momentarily sucked out. Hermione and Malfoy stare up at him, unsure of their next move. But then, Padma steps out from the kitchen and she reads the play quickly. She takes Ron's hand in hers and Ron runs through all the reds on a colour chart. Malfoy suppresses a snarky remark. Instead, he focuses entirely on Hermione, on Rose, Hugo, Scorpius and Al. He doesn't acknowledge any of the other Weasleys or Potters, but I never expected him to. They serve no purpose in his life and he's already doing more than enough by being in their presence. His complete focus in on his family and that's good enough for him. Ron and I might as well be invisible.
On one hand I'm slightly annoyed by that, but on the other hand I'm glad to know where he draws the line. He's already proven to me that he'll do anything for his mother and father. Now, that circle has increased to include Hermione, their children and whoever Scorpius chooses to date. Malfoy would do anything to ensure the safety and happiness of the ones he loved. That's why I whole-heartedly believe he killed his first wife.
When lunch is over I excuse myself from the table and head into the study. I sit behind the desk and take out the package that I had hidden in a drawer with a false bottom. Everything is as it was since I first received the box almost one year ago. I re-read the letter for probably the thousandth time.
Dear Mr. Potter,
I hope that you will find this very useful if you can fix it. I know it will bring closure to certain events. I've deliberated and deliberated, but I decided to take the decision to betray a family member out of my hands. I don't know anymore what the right thing to do is. However, if you think the right thing should be done, then do with this what you will.
I look down at the broken wand with the mother-of-pearl handle still smeared with Draco Malfoy's dried blood – I had it tested. I know that this is Astoria Malfoy's wand. If I fix this I could prove that Malfoy killed his wife. I know I can or else the mysterious sender of the wand would never have given it to me.
To do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing and what I want to do don't always overlap.
"Aren't you coming to watch the game?"
Startled, I look up to see Hermione. She's staring at me intensely. She looks down at the broken pieces of wand in the simple cushioned, pine box. She looks back up at me again. She does not look the least bit surprised and I know she knows. She knows he killed his wife and still, still she chose to be with him. She reaches over and closes the box with her right hand.
"He's going to hurt you. It's…it's bound to happen. You know this. Why, why are you with him?"
We stare at each other for a while. It would be so easy. I can take away what she has with Malfoy so easily. But she's my best friend and I would never hurt her, even if I know that eventually Malfoy will.
She takes up the box and walks over to the fireplace. Stupidly, I allow her. With a flick of her wand a fire roars to life.
"Why? Because he's so much better than we know."
She throws the evidence of what Malfoy used to be into the flames. She turns her back on it and leaves the room. I still sit and watch the flames with a mixture of resignation and relief.
A/N: And that's it, folks! Yay me! Another finished fic. What did you all think? I would like to thank my reviewers and all the people that supported me, especially my guest reviewers. I couldn't reply to you, so…THANK YOU! I also want to thank the people that alerted and favourite me, like Blue Luver5000, FemAguila, romeondjuliet4-ever, v0lpe, onebaddesire and Fallen Emo Angel. There are others and I want to say thanks to all of you! So, review please and let me know what you thought!