Thanks again for all your comments. They mean the world to me.
Without further ado, Part II...
Worriedly biting her lip, June tapped the letter against her desk. The same desk now littered with opened and read letters, messages, memos; all organized into many piles of important, ASAP, Still Time, junk, and more in order to move things more quickly and decrease the backload.
"Sorry, do you really need my input for-"
"Of course Minister, it your birthday and we are going to use it to raise money for the endangered giants!" The man said excitedly, still pushing themes before Hermione.
"Please," Hermione slightly recoiled. "I just really, really…" Hermione sighed before perking up. "Just let me be surprised." Hermione tried.
"Surprise… why, of course! Of course Minister!" The planner exclaimed happily, missing Hermione sigh of relief. "I must start on that now! I promise this will be the best birthday ever!" He whirled back around to face Hermione who plastered a smile on her face.
"Can't wait," Hermione half heartedly responded. "Let me walk you out," Hermione said, walking quickly in her patented heels to the end of her office. "Thank you and good luck with the planning." Hermione smile once more, letting him pass before her. Closing the door quickly behind her, Hermione let out an exasperated breath. "June," She sighed. "Please tell the rest of the gala organizers that they do not need my opinion on anything, to just surprise me. I really do not want to deal with them anymore. Please," She practically pleaded.
"You may regret it later but of course," June tried not to smile at the helplessness in the normally very businesslike Hermione Granger. However looking down at her hand, June's humor vanished. "Minister Granger," She began worriedly.
"June?" Hermione asked, walking towards her.
"With all the mess with your birthday coming up and the gala," June was almost near tears. "The mail and messages have been back loaded for almost a month now, and," She swallowed the tears threatening to flow.
"I'm so sorry," She said giving Hermione the opened letter, delicately put back in its envelope.
Hermione hesitantly took the letter as she looked at June worriedly.
"I'm so sorry," She repeated, tears bubbling at the corners.
Taking the letter, Hermione closed her office door behind her. Kicking off her heels, Hermione gently took the letter out, smiling at the childish scrawl. However…
Dear Ms. Granger
Sirgiry didn't work. The Healer says my blood is poysoning me still. Don't tell Daddy this. I was spying on them. I think it must be bad because my favorite nurse was crying and asking to do anything and I asked her to deliver this letter as soon as possible. Because, can I ask you for a wish as Minister?
If it isn't too much, can you help my daddy be happy after I join grandmere in the sky?
Hermione hadn't realized that she had started crying, that was until a tear fell on the letter. The single tear falling on Ro's name, morphing the font size.
"Oh my god," Hermione rose rapidly out of her seat, knocking her seat over. Running to the door, Hermione swung it wide open. "June!" She yelled, already getting her heels halfheartedly on and her arm in one blazer sleeve.
"I'm so sorry Hermione," June swallowed her tears as she handed Hermione the copy of the death certificate of one Rosalind Narcissa Malfoy, age seven. It had taken a lot of asking and researching but June had managed to get the St. Mungo's records only to procure what she had been dreading in the pit of her stomach at reading the letter.
Her knees giving way, Hermione collapsed on the lush midnight colored rug in front of June's desk. She could say nothing as she read the certificate over and over again until she could no longer read as tears blurred her vision. Regret began to fill her to the core, regret that she would have to live with herself, that despite all the courage and warmth Ro had given her, she hadn't even been able to muster a little bit of time to find her, to meet her, to tell her how much she meant to Hermione, how she gave her strength through her unconditional support. And now she would never have the chance to meet Ro in this lifetime.
Standing before a tombstone, Hermione swallowed the tears she was fighting.
"Hi Ro," She said as one tear streaked down her cheek. "Rosalind Malfoy," Hermione said with a humorless laugh. "I should have known, you were Malfoy's daughter. All the signs kept point at it but my prejudice of your father's past, kept me blinded. But it was like the fates were throwing me hints here and there, Guggenmater, Germany, meeting your father in Germany, at Alois Dallmayr. I'm so sorry Ro." Hermione closed her eyes. "I don't know for sure how I can fulfill your wish but I promise I will try my best." Hermione solemnly said, placing a fresh bouquet of two dozen white roses on Ro's tombstone, picking up the old ones that had dried and were beginning to weather. Doing so, Hermione was finally able to read the small cursive inscription on the grey slate tombstone.
Tracing her finger delicately across the words, "I'll see you when roses bloom again… till then I'll meet you in a field of dreams." Hermione read before the floodgates flooded and Hermione Granger once again found herself breaking down in front of Ro's tombstone.
"Hermione, you have to go," Ginny tried to cajole her but Hermione seemed to be playing little attention to her as she stared far out, at the setting sun. She really wished that her husband was here, or even Ron but both had last minute business to attend to, the help the endangered Giants foundation, so it was just her.
However it was like as if Hermione had shut herself down while becoming a living breathing machine that just worked until exhaustion every night. And Ginny didn't know how to get through.
"I know Gin." Hermione stared sadly out her window where the light London rain was just beginning to fade as night covered them.
"And maybe not look so sad, depressed, somber, and maybe try to smile here and there." Ginny said exasperated. She didn't know why Hermione was acting like she was but Ginny didn't want to press unless Hermione offered. She had learned her lesson long ago about how much Hermione liked her privacy.
"Of course," Hermione whispered as her finger tips lightly traced the figures of the children that had come out to play in the sprinkling rain. It was two boys and a small girl, all wearing various shades of raincoats and boots, yet all having fun as they laughed and splashed. Watching them, a deep sadness washed over her. "Ro…" She whispered to the rain, letting the rain carry Ro's name away to a sweet place, a place that only the pure of heart, like her Ro would go.
"It's not like as if it's your execution, it's just your birthday Hermione," Ginny sighed dramatically, simply thankful she had done what she had come for. Now all she had left was to get Hermione to wear that damn dress, French designer Dugard Lupiere had specially made for her. "Okay, if we're going to get you into that gorgeous dress-"
"Ginny you don't have to be here, I know what my duties are," Hermione interjected with a glance at the pale blue, so pale it was almost silver, ball gown with the lightest and stitched lavender detailing. It was beautiful, almost gorgeous enough to make Hermione wince. She didn't want to wear it, didn't want to stand out, and didn't want to celebrate something as feeble as her birthday when her heart was still broken and a part of her wanting to mourn. Mourn the loss of the pure soul she hadn't even had the time to meet because of politics and parties. Just the thought made her sick. But she still had her part to play. "Gin, it's okay, I'll be ready in time, you go ahead and get ready too." Hermione finally stood up and looked back over at Ginny to give her a small smile. "I promise," She assured once more when Ginny gave her a worried look.
Her birthday was going exactly as Hermione had imagined. It was a grandiose affair, a lot of people she knew but not necessarily friends with. Many important persons including politicians, spokespersons, heads of departments, were all trying to make conversation with her. Most trying to flatter her before proposing an idea of some kind, ranging from practical to ridiculous.
Hermione looked up cautiously, thinking it might be an overly friendly Head of something or another that had gone to school with her so they thought, by using informal titles, they could warm her up more. But thankfully it was Harry with a sleepy babe in his arms.
"For the count," Harry nodded. "It's pretty early… for the party that is but I think we're going to call it a night. We can properly celebrate your birthday tomorrow at brunch." He smiled before pushing the nose of his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
"I understand and it sounds great," Hermione hugged him.
"Happy birthday Hermione," Harry kissed the top of her head before leaving with his sleeping godson in his arms. "Oh and," Harry turned back just in time. "Hermione," He paused briefly. "I saw Malfoy just entering for a few seconds before he disappeared, when I went to go get Ginny's coat." He said looking at her, being the only one Hermione had told about Ro, and Hermione only told him so, after Harry found her curled up in her seat, looking blankly out of her office.
A part of Hermione was embarrassed that she could tell no one about her regrets. How many times did Ron and Harry tell her she put work first too much, that she needed to slow down and maybe take some time for herself. Hang out with them, now that she no longer had to save their butts every weekend, as she did when they were younger.
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked, her voice slightly hitching.
"Very, I would recognize that head of hair anywhere."
"I," Hermione said but stopped as she looked back at Harry, a torn expression coloring her face.
"Go on, find him Hermione. The past is the past. None of us are the same kids we once were. War and loss made sure of that." Harry shook his head.
With that, Hermione picked up her skirts and began to walk as quickly as she could, her gaze scouring every face for the one she was looking for. "Mal-" Hermione began to say seeing a head of blonde hair but as she got closer, Hermione nearly ducked as she tried to avoid that person's gaze. The person she had thought was Malfoy had actually been a woman with cropped blonde hair.
However not even five minutes later, she was swept into an unwilling dance by some French politician that did not understand no thanks, still meant no.
"I am so sorry but I'm trying to find someone," Hermione tried to pull her arm away from his grasp.
"But mademoiselle, do you not like to dance?"
Not really, Hermione internally thought but knew she wasn't in the position to say so. Unable to give a true excuse Hermione found herself swept into yet another dance. Then another change of partners and another dance. Before Hermione knew it, she had danced enough that her feet were protesting in her well broken in heels.
Pained but thankful, as the current Japanese ambassador was about to ask her for a dance, she was able to decline, her feet her excuse, accompanied with a true pained expression that gained her sympathy enough that she was let off the hook.
"Dear Merlin," Hermione sighed in relief upon reaching the balcony. Taking a deep breath, Hermione flung her arms out in frustration. "Why is it so hard to find someone when you're actually looking for them!" Hermione groaned just thinking that something had to be wrong. When she hadn't been looking for Malfoy, he would just crop up out of nowhere and now that she had been looking for him, none of them were able to track him down, not even Harry's Aurors.
A figure that had already been hiding out on the balcony wasn't sure to take pity on the young minister or not. His red rimmed grey eyes took in the glamorous version of Hermione Granger in her princess like ball gown with a pained heart. How Ro would have gushed as she cut out the picture of Hermione Granger in her ball gown from the magazine to keep and cherish. But tomorrow when he woke, there would be no little girl, knocking on his door impatiently to get her the magazine. "Just who are you looking for?"
Hermione whirled to face the voice, her eyes widening in recognition. "Mal, Malfoy!" She took a step back, into the marble balcony.
Draco said nothing, just stared at Hermione.
Instead of backing down though, Hermione swallowed and stood her ground before slowly approaching the figure that was half hidden in the shadows. His figure cloaked by a shadow, a looming shadow so dark it would've scared most people off but Hermione felt no fear, just a deep profound sadness upon seeing him.
This time it was Draco's turn to nearly take a step back, his eyes widening in surprise by how close Hermione Granger was to him.
Standing right in front of Draco, Hermione gulped. "Ro, Ro was your daughter. For some reason a part of me was starting to think so after we met in Germany but I just couldn't see you as the father of my Ro. But she was…" Hermione bit her lip as Draco stared even more shocked.
"What, what do you mean… wait did she really send you those letters?" He asked, his voice finally peaked with some emotion at the thought of his daughter.
"Was she not supposed to?" Hermione asked because Draco was sounding and looking quite shocked.
"I mean, I thought she was humoring me when she said she got responses back, she wouldn't let me see any of the letters, so I wasn't sure and I just. It's pretty notoriously known just how busy you have been. Everyone, everyone seems to want a piece of you, to revel in your presence. But… you really did respond back." Draco said in wonder. "Thank you," He added, grateful that Hermione Granger really had ended up being just as he had told Ro, who didn't want to hear about princesses or royals, she wanted more.
"So will you tell me about her?" She whispered, looking up at him, shocking him because so many people had told him their apologies yet Granger still hadn't, instead she wanted to know what his daughter did truly like... not just pitying him. He didn't know what happened, whether it was reflex or shock but he leant over and softly placed his lips on hers for saying or asking was more accurate, the perfect words. Words he had been dying to hear, just hadn't known.
Their lips melded together softly like a small content sigh. The world didn't seem to move as Draco pressed on, his hand now on her back, leaning further still into her, into their kiss. Softly pulling away, feeling regret for his brash actions, Draco was about to apologize or run, he wasn't sure yet, just as he wasn't sure why he thought he could just kiss Hermione Granger, his bloody minister of magic. Before doing so, he was stopped by the placing of two soft hands on his chest, one lying near his heart the other lightly pulling on his tie. Looking down he found that Granger's eyes were on him, unwavering. "Let's get out of here," she said, her voice firm as her gaze.
Thank you so much everyone for all your comments and reviews, they mean so much to me. Its a lot sadder and possibly a bit anticlimatic than what I normally write but I wanted to try a more subtle story with just a dash of romance...
I hope that you guys enjoyed this short story as much as I did writing it.
Once again Happy Holidays everyone and hopefully for gifts this year, I can upload a few times before break is over! Fingers crossed!