Has anyone upgraded to the new Apple software? I'm debating whether or not to do it.
She couldn't do it. Sitting in Draco's living room, Hermione realized she couldn't arrest him. Wringing her hands, she studied the muggle photograph that sat on the end table. A younger Draco held a little boy whose lips were smeared with blue frosting and a smile. Draco looked happy holding his son, and Hermione was sure she had never seen the former Slytherin wear a genuine smile.
"That's from his first birthday," Draco told her, interrupting the silence that had descended. Startled, she nearly dropped the frame as she attempted to put it down. "It was an ocean theme. He's always been a little obsessed with the ocean. I have no idea why. It's not like he's ever been there."
"I think you should take him," she said. "You know, instead of going back with me."
Draco stared at her, mouth hanging open. It had to be a joke. Hermione Granger was a stickler for the rules, and there was no way she would look the other way. "Are you...are you serious?" he asked, dumbfounded.
She nodded. "I am," she confirmed. "It's like you said, they don't know you're doing real magic. No one's getting hurt. Just promise me it'll stop. It's easier to say I couldn't find you if it doesn't happen again."
Sinking into the nearest chair, he continued to stare at her. "Why?"
Hermione shrugged as a gentle smile touched her lips. "Honestly? I don't know why," she remarked. "I didn't know you had a son."
"No one does," he replied. "At least no one from our world does. And he knows nothing of that world."
"So, he has no idea that you're a wizard?" she asked. "Has he shown signs of having magic?"
"Ironically, I have wards in place to block magic from happening here," he informed her. "I don't want him to know. There are a lot of things I don't want him to know."
She caught him glancing down at his left arm. The Dark Mark, the symbol Lord Voldemort branded on the arms of his followers, was hidden beneath his shirt sleeve. She hadn't noticed it at the club, but assumed magic was used to conceal it. He had never been proud of the mark, nor had he seemed anything but reluctant to be in the madman's service.
"What will you do when his Hogwarts letter comes?" she asked. "Will you let him go?"
Draco shrugged. "Honestly, I'd rather he think he's a muggle than know he's a wizard," he replied. "In my experience all magic does is get you in trouble. Case in point." He gestured to Hermione and frowned.
"You're not in trouble," she assured him. "At least you won't be so long as you leave Disapparating out of your act. I could get in far more trouble for keeping this from my superiors. Please don't make me regret it."
Hermione got to her feet, ready to leave, and Draco followed suit. "I'll stop," he promised. "Could you promise me something? I know I don't really deserve to ask for a favor, but humor me."
She nodded. "Go ahead."
"Don't tell anyone you saw me," he requested. "There might still be people who'd like to see me behind bars or dead in an alley or something. I'm a muggle now, and I'd really like to keep it that way."
Opening the door, she turned back and smiled softly. "You have my word," she told him before leaving. Returning to her flat, Hermione sat down in the dark living room. Her career was over. If the Ministry ever learned that she had the suspect and let him go, she would be fired. And why had she let him go? Because he had a little boy who needed a father. After losing her parents during the war, she knew the pain of such a separation. It wasn't something she wished on a six year-old boy whose family seemed to consist of one person.
Lying down, she stared at the dark ceiling as she contemplated her next move. It was entirely conceivable that Harry and Kingsley would believe that she hadn't found the wizard, but there was no telling how long she could keep that story going. If Draco ceased with the use of magic, the case would be over; a dead end. If he lied to her, Hermione was sure she would have no choice but to arrest him.
The next morning, she awoke with a terrible pain in her neck and the sun in her eyes. Groaning, she got off the sofa, showered as a fresh pot of coffee brewed, and dressed for work. Travel cup in hand, Hermione stepped into her fireplace and arrived seconds later in the Ministry Atrium. Harry was waiting by her desk when she arrived, and waited for her to settle in before asking about the previous night.
"I have nothing," she told him. "There were no signs that magic was being used so I went home."
Frowning, Harry shrugged. "Maybe it'll happen tonight," he suggested. "Want to investigate?"
Shaking her head, Hermione sipped her coffee. "I have a lot of paperwork to get done," she excused. "Let's give it another night. Who knows, maybe a Saturday night might be more productive."
Smiling, Harry agreed that a busier night would help the wizard blend in. While more people around meant their chances of catching their suspect were slimmer, it also meant that he might be more willing to use magic in an area where he was more heavily concealed. In Harry's mind, the case would be closed by Sunday.
Nervously, Hermione agreed. She busily worked through the morning, and when noon rolled around, she found herself in muggle London. Passing the Pink Panther, she continued on until she reached Draco's flat. Scanning the doorbells, she quickly found the one labeled "Malfoy" and was surprised to be buzzed in. She took the stairs to his flat on the third floor, knocked, and waited for Draco to let her in.
"Um, hi," he greeted her, surprised to find her standing in the hallway. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm, um, not going to arrest you or anything," she promised, biting the corner of her lip. "It's just...what we talked about last night. Harry's planning on doing some investigating tomorrow night. It might behoove you to lay off the magic."
He beckoned her inside. "I'm not working tomorrow night," he informed her. "I get every other Saturday night off. I was going to take Oliver to the movies."
Nodding, Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay, good," she murmured.
Taking a seat on the sofa, he studied her for a moment. "Why do you care?" he asked, watching her nervously fiddle with a curl that had come loose from her bun. "I mean, why bother coming all the way over here to warn me not to use magic at the club? Besides, I promised you I'd stop doing it in front of muggles. Did you just not believe me?"
"No, Draco, it's not that at all," she replied, moving to sit down across from him. "I just...I wanted you to know that I don't want anything bad to happen to you. It seems like you've built this life here for yourself and your son, and I don't want some Ministry investigation to ruin it."
Standing, he walked over to the door and opened it. "Thanks for your concern, Granger, but we'll be fine," he stated. "You can leave now."