It's been a while since I've posted anything so I figure it's about time that I did so. Today is my first day off school for the holidays so I decided to take advantage and post this little story I've been working on off-and-on as a pre-Christmas gift to you/congratulations to myself!
This one's a little different from my other ones and I think once you read it you'll know what I mean. Enjoy!
Winning Over Rose
Capturing Hermione Granger-Weasley's heart was a walk in the park compared to winning over her teenage daughter, Rose.
Draco Malfoy's first encounter with his girlfriend's first-born is awkward to say the least. One minute he was following the delicious scent of French Toast smothered in maple syrup, wearing nothing but his favourite pair of emerald boxers and the next he was staring into the wide, blue eyes of one very shocked and confused looking Rose Weasley.
Obviously that's not exactly how it panned out. Realistically he'd had plenty of time to take his usual seat in the corner of the small kitchen made only for one, snatch his crazy-haired, freckled-nose witch around the waist, pull her into his lap and snog her senseless. He didn't even mind that she had morning breath.
His left hand had just loosened the fabric belt holding her silk housecoat around her otherwise naked body and his right hand had thoroughly cupped her arse when a loud POP echoed around the room. The distinct sound of apparation was immediately followed by a gasp as both Draco and Hermione scrambled to disentangle themselves.
And now here he is, moments later, standing awkwardly in the middle of the living room, his arms crossed over his newly clothed chest, staring wearily at the teenager before him. He has one of his own – a teenager, that is – and so one would think he'd know how to, well, communicate with one. But he's at a loss.
Second later a slightly flustered but all around presentable looking Hermione Granger – formerly Weasley – bounds into the room. She, like him, had gotten dressed in almost no time at all – it was just her hair that had taken forever to flatten and make look less...sex-ridden.
Draco can't help the sigh of relief that escapes his lungs as they exchange a quick glance.
Hermione clears her throat. "Rose, you remember Draco Malfoy?"
"Of course. How could I forget the bane of dad'sexistence?" The red headed teenager responds sarcastically.
If Draco wasn't mildly afraid of the young witch before him he might've smirked.
"How long have you been shagging?"
Hermione blinks, taken aback as she scrambles for a response. "Um, I don't think-"
"Perhaps Mr. Malfoycan answer me, then," the young one says, glaring in his direction. "How long have you been shagging my mother?"
Draco chokes on air.
"Rose Weasley, watch your mouth!" Hermione scolds her daughter as she moves to stand between him and the spitting image of herself.
Rose seems unaffected by her mother's tone. "It's a valid question, isn't it? Considering the position I found you in."
"That wasn't supposed to happen. I was under the impression that you would be spending this weekend with your father."
"I am. I just came over to get some clothes."
The tension in the air is so thick that Draco feels like he might suffocate. He watches as mother and daughter stare at one another, as if daring the other to speak.
Hermione breaks the silence, sighing loudly. "You weren't supposed to find out like this."
"We were going to tell everyone next weekend at Grandma Molly's-"
"Every – you mean nobody else knows?" Rose wonders incredulously.
Hermione shakes her head.
"How long has this been going?"
"Is it serious?"
"Brilliant," the teenager mutters, running a tired hand through her hair.
"Look, Rose... I realize that it's is very sudden for you and you shouldn't have had to find out this way, but-"
"No matter which way I found out, the result would be the same: you've been in a six-month-long relationship less than a year after you divorced Dad. Not to mention the little fact that, you know, Dad hates the man you've decided to rub in his face," snaps the young Weasley. "And what about you? I thought you couldn't stand the 'spoiled, selfish prat'."
Draco smirks. She has a temper like her father, he decides then.
"Nobody's rubbing anything in anyone's face," Hermione clarifies. "And things have changed, Rose. We've gotten to know each other better and-"
"Ew, no, I don't want to know," Rose mutters, making a face.
Hermione sighs, "Look, please just give it a chance, darling. And please don't say anything to anyone until I've spoken with your father."
Rose rolls her eyes, shaking her head. "Fine, whatever. I have to go anyway."
Moments later, after Rose has apparated back to her father's flat and Hermione's shoulders have relaxed slightly, Draco reaches for her waist and pulls her flush against him. "That wasn't so bad," he murmurs, burying his face into his neck.
"That was horrible. I told you she would hate it – the glue that holds her to her father has only hardened since we got divorced," she mutters glumly.
"Just give her some time, she'll come around," he replies encouragingly. Although he, himself, isn't quite sure how long that will take.
The fourth time he sees Miss Rose Weasley is three weeks later.
Both Rose and Hugo will be spending the next week with Hermione and the latter has insisted that they all have dinner together. Needless to say that despite his calm, cool and collected exterior, he's a nervous wreck on the inside. Rose hasn't even tried to warm up to him – instead she just flat out ignores him whenever he's been around, but Hugo seems to like him well enough. In fact the first time he met the 14 year-old wizard they talked about Quidditch for three hours straight. Rose still has yet to say anything more to him than: "How long have you been shagging my mother?"
He's sitting in the living room having been told by his lovely, paranoid girlfriend to wait for her children while she takes a "quick" shower so they can avoid another awkward situation. The second Rose appears in front of him he begins to wonder if he would rather sit here and endure her scornful glares or risk being caught half naked yet again.
"So you arestill around," she says, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I am," he confirms with a solid nod. He doesn't know why, but he stands – probably to be polite, not that a teenager would notice that.
"Where's my mother?"
"She's in the shower. She should be done soon. Where's Hugo?"
"He couldn't decide which Quidditch jersey he wanted to wear in your presence," she mutters, walking past him and disappearing into the kitchen.
He smirks to himself, feeling rather proud of the positive influence he's already seemed to have had on Granger's son. He reckons this is probably how she felt when his own son Scorpius welcomed her with open arms.
Hermione walks into the living room shortly after wearing her favourite pair of skinny jeans and a floral tank top. She towel-dries her damp, curly hair as she walks towards him, giving him a weird look.
"What?" He asks innocently.
"Why are you just standing here?"
He grins, grabbing her jeans by the belt loops as he pulls her towards him and captures her lips in his. "So I can do this," he whispers seductively as he pulls back. "And because Rose is in the kitchen."
The twinkle that shines in her eyes at the sound of her daughter's name tugs at his heart strings. "Where's Hugo?"
"He's coming, he's just behind."
"I suppose I'll go start dinner now then," she replies, pushing herself onto the tips of her toes to make herself taller. "Care to help?"
He gives her a pointed look. "I'm trying to get your daughter to like me, Granger, not think I'm trying to kill her with my awful culinary skills."
"Good point," she giggles, kissing him.
"Oh, Godric," Rose moans from the kitchen doorway. "If I'm going to have dinner with bothof you in the same room could you at least keep the PDA to a minimum? And by minimum I mean none. It's disgusting."
Hermione rolls her eyes, pulling away from him as she turns to face her daughter. "Want to help me make dinner?"
Rose shrugs, trying to look indifferent but he can see the smallest of small smiles tugging at her lips. "Fine."
The first time Rose willingly speaks with him she confronts him.
Mrs. Weasley is hosting yet another family dinner and like the good boyfriend he is, he tags along. He also brings Scorpius, who seems to get along really well with Potter's kid Albus.
After dinner everyone goes onto the field to play a friendly game of pick-up Quidditch – children and adults alike. Draco faces off against Potter as Seekers, reliving their rival years – but it's Rose who looks particularly smug when Potter snatches the snitch before him. When the game ends he offers to put everything back into the shed – "as the loser should." When he turns around to walk back into the Burrow, Rose is behind him, standing with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Nice game, Rose," he congratulates casually.
"What are your intentions with my mother?"
He looks confused, his eyebrows stitching together. "W-what?"
"You're intentions. With my mother. What are they?"
"I care very deeply for your mother, Rose."
He considers her for a moment, recognizing the fierce protectiveness and worry in her bright blue eyes. "Deeper than I've ever felt for anyone that isn't my son or my mother," he reveals.
She blinks. "So you love her."
"Yes," he nods.
She nods as well, but it seems like it's more to herself than to him – like she's trying to convince herself to trust him. She turns to leave him without another word but thinks better of it. "Don't hurt her, Mr. Malfoy. She deserves to be happy."
Before he can respond, she leaves. And when Hermione asks him what they talked about, he tells her that she shouldn't be so hard on Rose, nor should she take into consideration the way the stubborn Weasley sometimes interacts with her – like a snotty, selfish teenager who will always be bitter that her mother loves someone that isn't her father. And he leaves it at that.
"You're what?" Rose Weasley demands, glaring hard at her mother.
Draco watches silently from the sidelines, the interaction between mother and daughter. He's been sort of, well, regretting this part. The coward in him wants to leave and come back once the (inevitable) argument has passed, but he forces himself to stay – all the while staying quiet, seeing as it isn't his place to speak.
"I'm moving in with Draco," Hermione repeats firmly.
The redhead blinks. "You're joking."
"No. I've sold my lease on this place and I'm moving out at the end of the week."
Rose raises her eyebrows in disbelief. She opens her mouth to respond hastily before closing it and pushing her hands through her hair. "This is unbelievable. I can't believe – I... Don't you think it's a bit soon? I mean you've only been dating for, what, like eight months? That's hardly enough time to just move in together-"
"Does dad know? Does Hugo? And what about us? Where will our stuff go when we're bouncing between hisplace and dad's place? Will there even be room – or is this just a way to push us even further away?"
"Oh – I know! This is all his idea!" She yells, pointing an accusing finger at him as she glares at him with cold eyes. "This is yourway of pushing us away because you want her for yourself!"
"Rosalyn Weasley!" Hermione snaps before he can respond. "Apologize. Now."
"Why should I?" The girl in question wonders, sounding defeated. She looks at her mother, eyes glistening with angry, unshed tears as she shakes her head.
"Because you're being extremely rude and unfair," Hermione tells her calmly.
"I'mbeing unfair? Why don't you both take a look in the mirror and then tell me who's being unfair."
Hermione blinks, looking like she's just been slapped in the face. "What's that supposed to mean? How are we being unfair?"
"Because you expect me to just be okay with it!" Rose screams, startling both of them. "Because you keep secrets and act as if it's all okay – 'oh, by the way, Rose, your father and I are getting a divorce.' 'Oh, by the way, Rose, I'm dating your father's least favourite person in the entire world.' 'Oh, by the way, Rose, I'm moving in with my new boyfriend and I don't care what you think about it,'" Rose mimics.
Hermione stays silent, watching her daughter with baited breath.
"It's always been about you – about what you want, about what youneed. What about me? What about Hugo? Don't we get a say?"
"O-of course you do, sweetie-"
"Doesn't seem like it to me," the teenager mutters, turning herself away from the two pairs of eyes watching her.
"You've never spoken to me about any of it, Rose. So here's your chance," Hermione offers. "Tell us how you feel."
Draco's eyes widen as he looks from mother to daughter. It's taken all his concentration just to keep up with this argument thus far. Should he really be here for this?
"Fine," Rose snaps, spinning back around to glare at the both of them. "I think you're mad. I think you're both mad. I hate you for lying to me for so long about your relationship with dad because it feels like I was blindsided and I hate how I can't even hate you for divorcing him because you're both so happy now – but I hate that you're both happy without each other. I hate that you kept the fact that you started dating from me – like I'm a child who wouldn't have understood – and I hate that you chose him because it makes you look like a hypocrite. I hate that you're packing up and moving in with him so soon because it's dangerous and it's irresponsible and it means that Hugo and I have to do the same whether we like it or not - which I don't. And I hate that the two of you are like some sort of freaking package deal – where one goes the other follows like a lost puppy. 'Draco and I are doing this,' 'Draco and I are doing that,' 'You can talk to Draco and I, Rose, it's okay.'But it's not okay because he isn't my father, he never will be my father and I don't want or need another father figure in my life!" She finishes loudly, gasping for breath.
Draco blinks, taken aback by the young girl's outburst. He looks carefully at Hermione, whose hands are covering her mouth as she clearly struggles to hold back tears. He steps forward cautiously, out of the shadows of the setting sun through the kitchen window. "Rose," he starts, stopping to clear his throat. She ignores him but he knows she hears him because she wraps her arms around herself and turns away from him. "Rose, I'm not trying to replace your father. And I'm not trying to take your mother away from you-"
"Then what do you want? Honestly, what do you want from me?" She snaps at him, turning only her head to look at him.
He sighs, leaning back against the counter with his arms across his chest to look at her. "The only thing I want from you is to give me a chance, that's all I ask. A chance to make your mother happy. She deserves it, right?"
Recognition flashes in her blue eyes. She blinks and he can see them soften – but only for a moment, before she shakes it off and grabs her purse off the counter next to him. "I have to go, so just do whatever you have to do," she says, swinging the strap over her shoulder as she turns to her mother. "Let me know when you're moving in and Hugo and I will help move our stuff."
"Okay," Hermione whispers, nodding her head.
Once Rose is gone Draco crosses the room and pulls his quietly crying girlfriend into his arms. He kisses the side of her head. "I think that's as close to a blessing as I'm going to get," he chuckles.
After the move, things seem to get better – if only slightly. His relationship with Hermione continues to grow and strengthen. His friendship with Hugo grows stronger – he takes both Hugo and Scorpius to a few Quidditch games over the course of the summer, which earns him brownie points. And his situation with Rose, well...at least it doesn't get any worse, it just doesn't get any better either.
Like her mother, Rose is stubborn and hardheaded; she will never admit to being wrong, even if she is, and if she doesn't want to do something she won't do it. And, like her father, she has a short temper and a fiery passion when she gets angry. And she gets angry quite easily – especially at him.
The thing with him and Rose Weasley is this: 95 per cent of the time she ignores him. She stays away from him and, for the most part – not to mention by default, he stays away from her. And it works...95 per cent of the time.
He's walking by the kitchen, where Rose is baking with her friend Allison Longbottom, when he hears his name. Normally he would ignore whatever the gossip of the day includes, but considering the gossip is being done in his own house... He settles himself silently against the wall to listen.
"I still can't believe your mum is with Draco Malfoy," Allison gushes. "Draco Freaking Malfoy."
"I know," Rose mutters.
"He is so hot!"
Rose makes what sounds like a choking, sputtering sound. "What? Ew, Allison!"
"Well he is! Tall, handsome, magnetic grey eyes, chiseled jaw, perfect hair-"
"Allison! That's disgusting, he's dating my mother."
"C'mon, don't tell me you've never wondered. You must, especially since you live under the same roof now," Allison giggles.
"No, I've never wondered," Rose denies.
"Well I most certainly have-"
"That's because you're a twisted individual," the redhead laughs. The sound is identical to her mother's, he notes.
"Perhaps. Seriously though, you're so lucky."
"I don't even really like him."
"That's just the product-of-divorce-child talking because you're parents aren't together anymore."
"Oh? And how would you know, Miss. Parents-with-the-perfect-marriage?"
"'Cause that's how it always is! The children always hate the new boyfriend or girlfriend – it's like...an unwritten rule of divorce or something."
"Hugo likes him," Rose tells her. "Adores him, actually."
"Hugo like anybody who likes Quidditch as much as he does."
"Scorpius like mum."
"With a mother like Astoria Greengrass, of course he does!"
Rose snorts and Draco can imagine her shaking her head.
"Do you even have a reason as to why you don't like Draco?"
"Please don't call him that, it's weird. And of course I do, I have plenty."
"Tell me then."
"He's arrogant, egotistical, cocky, manipulative, big headed, harsh, cold – should I continue?"
"Kind of sounds like someone else I know..."
"I am not!" Rose squeals.
"What about Scorpius?"
"What about him?"
"What's it like living with him, since you've never actually had a proper conversation?"
"He stays out of my way, I stay out of his."
"You lead a lonely life, Miss. Weasley."
"You're the cold, lonely old cat lady of our generation."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with cats," Rose giggles.
Draco knows exactly what Rose is thinking when she finds him in his office with his secretary; he sees the icy glare in the redhead's eyes as she watches them from the doorway. He dismisses the raven-haired woman, telling her they'll finish their discussion after he's had a moment alone to speak with Rose and closes the door behind her.
"Hello, Rose," he greets her kindly. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Who was that?"
He grins knowingly. "That was my secretary, Melissa."
"I suppose," he nods.
"Are you shagging her?"
He snorts, shaking his head as he leans back against his desk to face her. "You're bold. I respect that."
She shrugs, folding her arms over her chest. "It's a valid question, isn't it? You're her boss, she's your secretary – it's a classic."
"I think your mother lets you watch too many muggle films," he chuckles.
"Are you?" She presses.
"No, I'm not shagging my secretary or anybody else that isn't your mother."
She makes a face. "Why should I believe you?"
"Why shouldn't you?"
She looks at him for a moment, like he has a point.
"Look, Rose... You're clearly very protective of your mother – either that or just reallydon't like me. Probably a bit of both, right?"
She shrugs again.
"And I get it – I'm the stray your mother has brought home who eats all your food and takes over the house and just doesn't belong in the life you've always envisioned. In fact, I probably wouldn't like me either if I was in your position."
She smirks and it almost looks like a smile.
"And I think we both know that you know I'm not shagging other women – but you're kind of hoping, right?"
She shrugs for a third time.
He smirks, satisfied. "So, to the real matter at hand: to what do I owe this pleasure?"
She pulls a brown envelope out of her purse and he knows exactly what it is as she hands it to him. "You left it at the manor and mum didn't have time to drop by this morning to drop it off so she asked me."
"I've been looking everywhere for this, Rose. Thank you."
Shrugging a fourth time, she nods. "You're welcome." She turns to leave, but stops in the doorway to face him briefly. "Can you not tell her that I accused you of having an affair?"
"I don't even know what you're talking about."
Yes, Rose Weasley actually smiles at something he's said.
Two weeks later Rose, Hugo and Scorpius all leave for Howarts and within two days of their departure he starts to miss them – even Rose. He's become quite accustomed to having a full house at all times in the last month and he almost doesn't know what to do without the constant noise – Scorpius' and Hugo's – and, occasionally, a few selected members of the rest of the Weasley/Potter clan – cheers, grunts and groans as they played Quidditch in the field and Rose's loud, muggle music.
However it doesn't take very long to fall back into the kid-less routine of his relationship with a certain Hermione Granger. And, in fact, he sort of likes being able to walk around in his boxer shorts again.
Rose is going through a difficult breakup with her boyfriend of the last two years when the kids come back for the Christmas Holidays – but nobody is allowed to talk about it. Rose certainly doesn't. In fact she throws herself into the holiday spirit.
On the first day back, not even two hours into it, she suggests that they decorate the entire house from top to bottom. So they do – and although it looks like Santa Claus threw up Christmas all over his manor, he doesn't really mind it. She even laughs when Hermione gushes about green [him] and red [her] being perfect for each other – that is, before she looks like she's about to murder someone as she leaves the room to "read."
A couple days later the phone – the stupid muggle device Hermione insisted they have – rings in the middle of the night and he crawls out of bed to answer it. It's Rose. "I'll get your mum, hang on," he tells her.
"No! No, please don't," she whispers, panicked. She sounds drunk too. "I...can you just...come get me?"
"Where are you?" he asks without hesitation.
Twenty minutes later their sitting in a small, deserted cafe in Muggle London just three blocks from where he found her outside a nightclub. They're both nursing a coffee – his: to keep him awake, and hers: to sober her up.
"Care to tell me what the hell you were thinking?" He asks sharply. He doesn't mean to come off sounding like he's angry – except that he is.
She shakes her head.
"I don't know what I was thinking," she groans, shrinking in her seat. "I was just...upset."
"That doesn't condone your actions, Rose. You could've been hurt – or worse-"
"You don't think I know that?" She snaps.
"I dunno, do you?"
She doesn't answer.
"Rose, you're underage. And what you did – sneaking out of the house, sneaking into a club – it's dangerous and it's stupid."
"I'm sorry," she whispers.
"I just wanted to have fun...and this thing with Lysander is..." She trails off, biting her lip.
He frowns. "Look, I don't know what's going with that...but I know that there had to be a reason, right?"
"He cheated on me."
He blinks, adjusting his position in the chair. "Then he doesn't love you because if he did, he wouldn't have cheated on you in the first place."
She nods silently, glancing past his shoulder out the window.
"Are you ready to go home?"
She nods, pushing herself to her feet. And when she loses her footing, he steadies her. "You're good for her, you know," she says suddenly. "For my mum."
He smirks. "Don't worry, I won't hold your drunken confessions against you."
"But I amgoing to have to tell your mother about the club. And the alcohol. Mostly because if I don't, she'd murder me."
"I know," she sighs.
Christmas morning comes quickly. The Weasley/Potter/Malfoy clan gathers at the Burrow on Christmas Day for breakfast, gift exchanges and other holiday festivities. And he must admit, it's a thousand times better than the Christmases he ever spent with Astoria or his parents – who aren't even the least bit pleased with his decision to spend the holiday with another family.
As expected, Molly Weasley cooks a feast for breakfast brunch while at the same preparing the fixings for their dinner later. While breakfast is cooking the kids – Scorpius included, which pleases them both – run outside into the snow to play a friendly game of Quidditch while the adults stay indoors to talk. He's managed to get along with Potter fairly well over the years, but ever since he started seeing Granger they'd become sort of like...friends. Weasley isn't so bad either – he's even come around to the fact that his ex-wife is now dating his ex-enemy. And the rest of the clan, well, treats him like he's family – especially Molly.
After breakfast everyone sits down in the enlarged living room around the Christmas tree to exchange and open gifts – which takes ten times longer than it has ever taken at his own family Christmas. Near the end of the exchange is when Draco hands her a gift wrapped in gold and silver paper.
She looks at him oddly and then looks at her mother, who shrugs and also looks at him oddly.
He shrugs back, smirking slightly as he tells the young redhead to open it.
So she does, ripping the paper off and not caring where it lands. Her eyes widen and twinkly and the corners of her lips stretch into a bright smile as she stares down the brand new book in her small hands. She looks at him, surprised. "How did you – this isn't even on the shelves yet, how did you get this?"
"I pulled some strings. Turns out the publisher used to great friends with my mother," he replies.
"This is..." She trails off, speechless as she gazes down fondly at her new book. "This is amazing, thank you."
He nods as she looks up at him again from the floor and smiles. He smiles back, shoving his hands into his pockets.
Granger thanks him a few minutes later as well – under the mistletoe. And Rose doesn't even try to protest as she's so wrapped up in the pages of her book.
The rest of the school year flies by and it seems that in almost no time at all, the kids are back for the summer. Scorpius spends most of his time with Albus Potter at the latter's household and Hugo and Rose decide to split their time between their mother and father and their friends – although Draco's pretty sure both of them spend more time with their friends than with either of their parents. Whenever they are around, Hugo spends a lot of time showing Draco his muggle video games Hermione's parents bought him for Christmas and he brings him and Scorpius to a Quidditch game every other week. Whereas Rose spends a vast majority of her time reading, sunbathing and with her mother for "mother-daughter days." Every now and then she'll make small talk with him and once in a while she'll even laugh at his jokes – and then, of course, she pretends she wasn't laughing because she "still doesn't like him."
No, Rose Weasley only tolerates him. Tolerates him because he's her mother's boyfriend. Still-doesn't-like-him because he's her mother's boyfriend – and not her father.
This is their relationship.
She approaches him one Saturday morning in his study, which surprises him because she never steps foot into his study. Ever.
He takes a break from his paper work, leaning back in his chair to look at her "Morning."
He cocks his head at her sudden shyness. "Is something wrong?"
That's when she pulls the small velvet box out of her purse and sets it on the desk between where she's standing and where he's sitting. He drops his gaze, staring at it for a moment before lifting his head to make eye contact with her.
"I was putting my sweater in the closet and your jacket slipped off the hanger," she explains. "When I went to pick it up, that fell out of the pocket."
"I see," he nods.
"You shouldn't leave it around, someone might find it," she mutters, turning to leave.
"Rose," he calls after her. She stops short at the sound of his voice, but doesn't look at him. "Come here."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Yes you do."
She sighs, turning back to face him. He nods his head as if telling her to sit down, so she does.
"Well? Let me have it, then."
She scowls, making to push herself out of the chair but his gaze stops her.
"It's what we do, isn't it? I somehow manage to piss you off, you lash out at me, we argue and then we go about our separate ways. So c'mon, let me have it," he urges.
She stares at him for a moment, a crossing her arms over her chest. "It's too soon – you've only been dating for a year and half."
He nods. "That's fair."
"Are you serious about this? I mean, is this real?"
"How long have you been planning this?"
"That depends," he smirks.
"I've wanted to marry her for ages, but I only bought the ring last week."
"And you really think this is a good idea? I mean, you were both married before and you both failed," she points out.
He shrugs, chuckling softly. "Well then if we fail again, at least we'll know what to do," he jokes. The hard, angry glare on her face sets him back. He clears his throat awkwardly. "Look, Rose, I'm well aware that I failed the first time. But this is different."
"How do you know? You can't truly know that this is different, that's impossible – and even if it was possible, how do you know?"
"Sometimes you just know."
He looks thoughtful, leaning forward with his elbows on the desk. "Sometimes something happens – inside – and you just know. The first time I felt Scorpius kick in Astoria's belly. The first time I heard him cry, laugh. The first time he called me 'daddy.' You just know that this is where you're supposed to be, who you're supposed to be; who you're supposed to be with."
For a minute she looks interested, even taken aback. "Did you feel that way with Astoria?"
"No. Not even once – and that is my own error."
She blinks, looking down at her hands as she plays with her fingers in her lap. "My mother loved my dad."
"I don't doubt it. I loved Astoria."
She looks at him and the poor girl looks torn - eyes shining with unshed, unsure tears, bottom lip quivering. She blinks, shaking her head as she pushes herself to her feet. "I don't...I don't know..."
He pushes himself to his feet as well, walks around his desk to the end and leans against, watching her. "You don't know that you want your mother to marry me because that would mean that she's giving up on your father entirely."
She nods, eyes wide with surprise. "How did you-"
"Scorpius and I had the same conversation."
"H-he knows? And the little weasel didn't say anything?"
He chuckles softly. "I only told him yesterday," he explains. "And I only told him because he asked me when I was going to pluck up the courage to ask her."
She blinks. "And?"
"And I'm in the midst of figuring that out."
"How are you gonna do it?"
"Well, that's where I'm struggling," he admits – and she looks interested again. "I'm a fan of the grand gestures and your mother is not-"
"No. No grand gestures," Rose replies sternly. "If you're going to do this, make it small and keep it intimate. It'll mean more to her than shouting things from a stupid roof top. Surprise her, but don't go out of your way."
He smirks at her. "Any other advice, oh-wise-one?"
"Yeah. Don't screw it up."
"You screwed it up."
He startles, whipping around to face the redhead sitting behind him in one the chairs on the front porch. She's dressed in a pair of old, ripped pyjama pants and a light long-sleeved shirt and she's sucking on a cigarette.
Draco and Hermione have just had their most explosive fight yet, which sent her marching straight to bed and him out the front door for some air. Apparently Rose was also looking for some late night air.
He scowls at her. "I didn't screw it up."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
"The right time."
"What if the right time never comes?"
"You're just a barrel of sunshine, aren't you?" He snaps, annoyed.
"Says the one who just walked out on my mother."
He sighs, lowering himself into the wood chair beside her. "I didn't walk out on her. We had a fight, she went to bed and I just needed some air. It's what we do."
"I know. I hear it all the time."
He peers across the space between them. "Sorry."
She shrugs, taking another drag of her cigarette.
He frowns. "Those will kill you."
"Why do you do it?" She asks suddenly.
"Stay together," she replies. "You guys fight all the time – like you still hate each other."
"Because even when we hate each other we love each other."
"How is that even possible?"
He shrugs, chuckling softly. "Been trying to figure that one out for ages."
"Sometimes I wonder if my parents had even had half the amount of passionate arguments as you guys do, if they could've worked it out," she admits. "But I guess since every relationship is different, I don't think it would've made a difference."
"Probably not," he agrees.
"So why haven't you asked her yet?"
"I told you – I'm waiting for the right time."
"If you wait too long you might miss your chance – she might fall in love with some other bloke," she says seriously, with a hint of utter sarcasm.
"Not a chance."
Silence falls over them in which she smokes and he thinks.
"I'll do it tomorrow. Over breakfast," he says, breaking the silence.
She shrugs indifferently.
He reaches across the gap between them and plucks the cigarette out from between her lips, ignoring her protests as he tosses it onto the ground to put it out before disposing off the butt entirely by magic. "Those things will kill you, stop it. And go to bed, it's late," he tells her.
True to his word, Draco proposes to Hermione over breakfast by sliding the velvet box across the kitchen table with a shy smile on his tired face. She knows immediately what it is and without even opening the box she crawls into his lap and seals her acceptance with a kiss.
And when she shows Rose the diamond ring – who pretends she's never seen it before – he swears he sees the young Weasley smile at him from across the room.
Much like the time before this, the sound of his name stops him as he's about to enter the kitchen. He halts mid-step and leans against the wall, out of site from his fiancé and her daughter to listen. Again, he knows it's wrong to eavesdrop, but he's curious. And besides, they're obviously talking about him anyway.
"Do you think I'm doing the right thing, Rose?"
"What do you mean?"
His heart skips several beats before jumping into his throat and blocking his airways. Is she having cold feet?
"Are you having cold feet?"
"N-no, I mean I don't think so. I mean, I want to marry him – more than anything – but I just wonder about the timing," Hermione admits.
"I think... Mum, I think that if it feels right then timing doesn't matter," Rose tells her calmly. "I think that if it's something you plan on doing anyway, then why not? Why wait if it's just inevitable? Why put it on hold if it's already happening."
He can hear his fiancé smile. "I would've thought you'd be completely against this."
"I know you love him. And I know he loves you. It doesn't matter what I think."
"What doyou think?"
"I think you deserve to be happy. And he makes you happy, so..."
"He cares for you too, you know - you and Hugo. Very much."
"Really? Cause sometimes I get the feeling he can't stand me."
Hermione laughs. "My point, dear, is that he isn't just marrying me – he's marrying you guys too. He's committing himself to us, as a family. Not just to me. And I know that you have a father – a very wonderful father – and Draco isn't trying to take that away from you but I hope that someday you can give him a piece of your heart too."
"Can I tell you something?"
"He's kind of growing on me."
Finally, Draco thinks. He's finally making progress. He's finally winning her over.
He's trying to tie his tie – his stomach tied in knots, his hands shaking from the nerves racking entire his body, his palms sweating – when Rose marches into the groom's room. He sees her reflection in the mirror first, adorning a pale green bridesmaid dress that makes her unruly red hair stand out and her bright blue eyes pop. She has the Weasley traits, of course, but Merlin does she ever look like her mother.
"Mum's freaking out, you need to go fix her," she tells him urgently. "But don't actually seeher, because that's bad luck – and the last thing either of you need is more bad luck."
He stops with his tie then, turning to look at her properly with wide, worried eyes. "What do you mean she's freaking out? Freaking out how?"
"Oh – no, nothing like that," she replies quickly. "Just, you know mum. She's a thinker, she over analyzes everything."
He smirks, relief flooding over him. "Yeah, she does."
She crosses the room and without any sort of acknowledgment she starts to adjust his tie. "First it was the flowers – she was worried they were all wrong for the center pieces and then she started wondering if they were the right colour and the right shade of colour."
He laughs. "She would."
"And then it was the table cloths – are they long enough? Short enough? Should she have gone with cream instead of white – perhaps off-white? Should she have used lace like your mother suggested?"
"The table cloths are fine the way they are."
"That's what I said," Rose confirms, stepping back from to admire her handy work. She then starts to adjust his jacket. "Then she got really crazy and started questioning her choice in her wedding dress – is the length okay? Should she have gone with the other style? Is it too fancy? Does it show too much skin - or not enough? And what about her veil, should she have one? Does it match the dress or does it look funny?"
He sighs adoringly, rolling his eyes as she brushes off the shoulders of his jacket.
"You're marrying a madwoman, you know that right?" She asks, looking up at him with a serious look.
"Yes," he grins. "I'm well aware that your mother is bonkers."
"That's putting it mildly. It's like she's never been married before. I mean, you're not freaking out – why aren't you freaking out?"
He blinks, staring at her as she stares back intently. "Can I tell you a secret? One you can't tell anyone."
"I'm definitely freaking out, I'm just a little less...obvious."
"Oh, right, you're a Malfoy. You're all calm-cool-and-collected," she teases.
"Exactly," he chuckles. He turns then to grab his cuff links on the table next to the mirror to put them on.
"So," she starts awkwardly, sitting in a chair next to the table. "I know I've asked you plenty of times already but...you really love her?"
"I really love her," he confirms. She softens visibly. "I love her, very much. Even when I hate her, I love her. Even when she's being a crazy, stubborn, pain in the arse I love her and I want to make her happy. And I want to make youhappy – you and Hugo." He pauses, taking a minute to grab another chair and place it directly in front of her. He sits down, leaning forward on her elbows so that he's at eye-level with her. "I'm so lucky to have managed to convince her to marry me and I think I'm equally as lucky to have you in my life as well. I know we don't always get along but I'm very proud think of you as my would-be stepdaughter in every sense of the word – and I'll treasure the second you decide to think of me as your stepfather – if ever – for the rest of my life," he says honestly.
She smiles softly and for a moment he isn't sure if she's going to laugh or cry. "Okay," she whispers.
"'Okay' what?" He wonders.
"You can have her. I hand her over to you to love and take care of," she says, blinking back tears of joy. "You guys are sickenly perfect for each other and who am I to stand in the way?"
He smiles. "Thank you, Rose."
She nods, swiping a fallen tear from her cheek. "Now go fix my mother," she demands, pushing herself to her feet. "Save her from herself."
Just as he turns to leave he feels her hand wraps around his wrist and when he turns back to face her she throws herself at him, hugging him with her arms around his torso and her face buried into his suit jacket. "Thank you," she whispers. "And...I'm also really proud to call you my stepfather."