Draco rounded on Hermione. He faltered for a second before spitting out, "Why should I care?"
"Draco... He's your father." Hermione said softly, feeling Aaron shift closer to her.
"He's nothing to me! You had no right to bring him here in front of me", He pointed his index finger at her threateningly. "You're lucky I've come to care for you and you're damn lucky that I have enough self control right now. You had NO right!"
"He's here to apologize..." Hermione choked out.
Draco turned to Lucius and smiled humorlessly. "Apologize? So basically after more than twenty years of my life- twenty years of beating me and hurting me- you're here to apologize? You can stuff your apologies where the sun doesn't shine, Lucius. Because I was done with you a long, long time ago."
"Draco, Miss Granger here-"
"Oh! So she's Miss Granger now, huh? What happened to mudblood? Got old for you?" Draco laughed mirthlessly. His face turned into a sneer and he said, "Get out of my house, Lucius. I don't ever want to see your face again. Im so glad I won't have to after you're dead and gone."
Hermione and Narcissa both gasped and exclaimed, "Draco!"
He turned to face the two ladies again. "Don't. Don't "Draco" me! If you thought bringing him here and telling me he was dying was going to make a difference, you were sorely mistaken. I would've paid to see him rot in Azkaban." With that, he spun on his heel and strode up the staircase and into his room.
Hermione looked to Narcissa. "I tried..."
"Please don't give up." The older lady shook her head, tears in her eyes.
"Only if he doesn't." Hermione nodded towards Lucius. Just because he was dying, it didn't mean she pitied him. She was only doing this for Narcissa, Aaron and Draco. She was only doing this for her family. She flicked her wand in a particular motion and the next second, Aurors were in the living room, ready to take Lucius back to his house. He left, followed by Narcissa who hugged Hermione tightly and kissed her on the cheek. She then looked down at Aaron, who was standing there, trying to blink away tears. She crouched down to his level.
"Please don't cry, honey." She said, feeling her heart break.
"Dad was so angry..."
"He had the right to be. What we placed on him wasn't easy and nor was it right in his opinion."
"Will he be okay?" Aaron asked.
"It'll take time, love. Everything takes time."
She pulled her son into a tight embrace and held him there for a some time before lifting him up and going upstairs to tuck him into bed. It was late and Draco had not come out of his room yet. She didn't think he would either.
She retreated to her own room, sitting against her headboard and feeling her throat constrict. She knew what she had done was dangerous. She hadn't even liked the idea of it because of the pain it would inflict on Draco. But what else could she have done? When she got that letter... telling her that Lucius had been hospitalized for the afternoon and had been diagnosed with a deathly disease- she knew she had to do something. She had gone to Narcissa. They had together decided that they would try to speak with Lucius. And Hermione did just that. Spoke with him. Convinced him. And succeeded.
She knew she had one the battle against him the second she told him about Aaron.
"You know nothing about us, Mudblood! Don't act like you do! Don't act like you're doing us a favor!" Lucius snarled, slamming his palms against the table. She didn't even flinch.
"Do you know what Aaron's middle name is?" She asked calmly. He sneered.
"What's that got to do with anything?!"
"You don't have the right to say my name!"
"I wasn't. I was simply telling you what my son's middle name is." To say she was surprised when she, herself, had found out would have been an understatement. She was shocked and disgusted. But then she learnt of the story behind it from Ginny.
And she saw Lucius hesitate. Falter. Lose his mask of indifference and anger.
"What?" Was all he managed.
"Draco was adamant. He didn't want to name his son after you. He hated the idea of it. And frankly, so did I. But I know for a fact that it's Malfoy tradition to name your son after his grandfather. And though you didn't play that role very well, I wasn't ready to break Malfoy traditions. Despite being a... 'mudblood', I happen to respect pureblood traditions such as this one. So I convinced Draco. He is barely ever called Aaron Lucius Malfoy but the fact remains that it is his middle name."
Lucius didn't even say anything for some time. When he did, it was, "Why are you here? You came yesterday and now you're here again. And you've rambled aimlessly on about Draco's family and Merlin knows what else."
"You were hospitalized in St.Mungo's yesterday." Hermione stated. He raised an eyebrow. "You're dying."
Again- Falter. Hesitation. Shock.
And then the indifference was up again. "How do you know that?"
"I got a letter stating so."
"Who else knows?"
"Me and Narcissa."
"It doesn't explain why you're here."
"Do you know what youve been diagnosed with?"
"Never heard of it."
"Its a muggle disease."
His eyes widened with utter disbelief. "You're lying!" He growled, looking absolutely livid.
"Why would I?" She withdrew a letter from her purse and pushed it across to him. "It says right here." Lucius read it and grit his teeth together. "Ironic, isn't it, Lucius? How someone as.... pureblooded as you would be defeated by something so muggle."
"Get out of my house."
"It's the Ministry's house." She corrected. "You don't have much time to live. They caught it in what they call the last stage. You're going to die very soon." She said bluntly. "You can still fix your errors."
"I don't have any to fix."
"Who're you lying to?" Hermione asked. "I happen to belong to your family now, no matter how much you deny it. I happen to know everything that you ever did to your son and wife. They happened to tell me and I happened to believe them."
"Dont interfere with matters that aren't your own."
"But you see, thats where you're wrong. It happens to be related to the people I love. Im not just going to sit quiet about it. You don't have much time. Id suggest you start thinking of ways to apologize or fix things."
She stood up and stared down at him. He stared right back, anger but a hint of something else in his eyes.
"I know you're going to think about it. I shall return tomorrow morning."
And with that, she was gone.
And return the next morning, she did. She went back and for once, he spoke to her without insulting her more than twice- an achievement on it's own. As she had predicted, he had thought about it. And she was right. He felt the need to fix at least a little bit. When she had left that afternoon, he had called her "Miss Granger." She had left with a triumphant smirk.
And now she was here. Wondering if Draco would forgive her for this stunt of her's. She didn't mean any harm. She just wanted him to at least hear an apology. He deserved that much. But he wasn't even willing to listen.
Ten minutes of pondering later, she found herself hesitating outside Draco's door, contemplating whether she should enter or not. Without allowing herself to think further, she mustered up some of her Gryffindor courage and pushed the door open. She secretly prayed that he would be asleep and she could prolong the conversation but she saw him lying on his side, his face illuminated by the light of the bedside table, his eyes open and staring at the wall across him.
"Draco..." She tested quietly. He didn't even turn to look at her. Didn't even bat an eyelid.
"What do you want?" His voice was cold. Angry. Guarded.
"I came to apologize."
"Just like he did?"
"And I don't care."
"He's your father..."
He moved. His head tilted slightly towards her as he looked at her. "He used the Cruciatus on me when I was five, Hermione. It was only once that year. But as I grew older, the frequency of being hit by that damned curse increased. You wouldnt even be able to fathom how much it hurt. What you went through that day in the manor- I went through that about four times..." She opened her mouth but he stopped her, finished his sentence, "...a month." Her hand flew to her mouth as she relieved the pain from Bellatrix' curse. He was right. She couldn't possible fathom how much it hurt.
"It's like your mother. Imagine her hitting you with curse after curse. Locking you in the dark just so you'd get over your fears. Slapping you hard if you said even a word out of line. It was madness."
"He's... He's your father."
"No, he isn't. You wouldnt understand because you're... you're brilliant. You have a huge heart. I don't. I hate him."
"But he's dying!"
"Dammit, Hermione!" He snapped, sitting up. "For the last time, I don't care if his soul is being sucked out by a dementor! He means nothing to me! You hear that? NOTHING! So stop harping on about how I need to forgive him because I CANT! I will never be able to forgive him for what he did to me or my mother! And you need to GET THAT! You need to UNDERSTAND that! You can't always play hero, Granger! You can't always save the situation! You can't always fix things! And you sure as hell can't do it this time. You shouldn't have done what you did- it was a BIG mistake!" He pointed his finger at her, anger burning in his eyes. It scared her. "And I meant what I said earlier. You're damn lucky that Ive learnt self control. You're damn lucky that I care too much about you to hurt you or you wouldnt be standing here right now. But clearly you didn't take into account my emotions when you went and decided to bring daddy death eater home."
"Just... get out. Please. I really don't want to see your face right now." He said, closing his eyes and taking deep breathes, trying to calm down.
Hermione swallowed hard, blinking away tears. "Im so sorry..." She whispered before turning away to return to her room.
* * *
Draco lay back down. He didn't mean to be harsh on her. He just... it was all to difficult to take in. How was he supposed to react? He knew she meant no harm, he knew that. But it was just too much. Everytime he tried to feel pity for the dying man, all that flashed through his mind were all those days, all those months, those years of physical and emotional hurt...
But he shouldn't have lashed out at Hermione. She really didn't mean any harm. She just genuinely wanted to fix things. But this time she would be disappointed. Because nothing would get fixed.
It was christmas night. And the day that had been going so brilliantly had been ruined. He needed to fix at least what he could.
He sighed and pushed away the covers and went towards Hermione's room. He pushed open the door and looked inside. She lay with her back facing him but she wasn't asleep. Her shoulders were shaking and from the sniffling, it was obvious she was crying silently.
He moved forward and hesitantly reached his arm out to touch her shoulder. She moved at such speed that he stumbled back a few steps. Her wand was pointed at his face in an instant.
"Its just me!" He said, his hands in the air, palms facing her. She lowered her wand and placed it back under her pillow, muttering an apology.
And then they were staring at each other for a few long seconds. Her face was streaked with tears. He felt absolutely horrible.
"I didn't do this to hurt anyone," She said, shaking her head and looking down at her lap.
He stepped forward and she unconsciously moved back on the bed a bit. He had really scared her earlier...
"I won't hurt you..." He said in a strangled voice. Did she really think he would?
She looked up at him through her wet eyelashes and they locked eyes. She nodded.
"I know you won't."
He sat down. Not too far, not too near.
"I know you didn't mean any harm." He said. "Im sorry I lashed out at you, I really am. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"If anything, I hurt you." She said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Please... stop crying..." He said, looking at her. He reached out and left his hand hovering over her's for a moment, allowing her time to pull away if she wanted to. When she didn't, he held her hand. "You didn't hurt me."
"Okay, you hurt me a little. But unintentionally. I understand that."
"Its just me who lacks the understanding."
"That isn't true. It was just one time. You understand me better than ninety nine percent of the Wizarding world, Granger. And I didn't think that- this-" He gestured between them, "-was even possible. But it is. Don't beat yourself up over this. You tried. And I appreciate that."
She nodded. "Im sorry."
"I am too. This is just too difficult for me."
"I know... I just didn't realize how difficult."
"And that isn't your fault."
He moved to get up after a few seconds of comfortable silence but she tightened her grip on his hand.
She moved behind on the bed, still holding his hand and got under the covers. He followed her, lying down beside her. And then a thought struck him as he looked up at the ceiling.
"The room doesn't have a light on..." He said. He turned his head to see her staring at him. "Im not as afraid as I was... when Im with you..." He looked at her, his expression serious. And slowly, she smiled at him, shifted closer to him and didn't once let go of his hand.
He had indeed allowed her to be his light in the darkness.
* * *
"Listen here, I know more about you than you think," She said, leaning over the Healer's desk. The lady was dressed in a tight yellow dress that accented her tall figure and high heels that helped her tower over the young healer.
"Who are you and what do you want?" The healer asked, standing up.
"No, its not who I am and what I want- it's what you need."
"You need money don't you?"
"I- Who are you?"
"I know you do. I can offer you two thousand galleons or more."
"I dont n-need your money!"
"Oh, but you do! After all, raising three children with your wife with barely an intern's salary can't possibly be very easy." She pouted.
"How do you know that?! Listen here, get out before I call security!" The healer said, gripping his wand.
"I can offer you all the money you want. You just need to do one simple thing. One very simple thing." The lady smirked. "I know you need the money." She slipped a piece of paper across the desk. "When you're ready, give me a call."
She walked away, her hips swaying, knowing that she had offered him something he couldn't possible say no to. Ritch Mcenzee would get what she wanted.
* * *
(27th December, Wednesday)
Draco entered the room and saw Hermione lying on the bed. His eyes widened in shock as he realized that she was shivering uncontrollably.
He ran up to her and grabbed her shoulders, flinching because they were so cold. He shook her, "Granger! Get up!" She sat up suddenly after a few attempts at waking her.
"I-i-it's c-c-cold", She stammered.
"No, it's not actually", Draco said, puzzled, "It's actually warmer than what it was in the morning," He reached out and placed his palm on her forehead. A shiver ran down his arm. She was freezing cold to touch.
"Lie down", He said and she did. He pulled the covers over her and placed a few extra blankets over her after conjuring them.
"I-i-It's to-o- c-c-cold", She stammered, shaking.
He tried a warming charm and other charms but nothing worked. He placed her palm against her neck and she tilted her head to the side it was placed. He realized that his warmth was giving her comfort.
"Oh, what the hell", He mumbled, removing his hand. She immediately whimpered and her teeth began chattering.
He went around to the other side of the bed and climbed under the covers next to her. He pulled her close and pressed her against him. She buried her face into the crook of his neck and immediately felt warmth spread through her face. The teeth chattering stopped but she was still immensely cold and shaking. She felt like she was freezing up, she was becoming numb and couldn't feel much on the inside any longer. She suddenly felt a warm hand on the small of her back below her shirt and she gasped.
"Sorry", Draco said quickly, removing his hand immediately, "I thought it was warming you. I didn't mean to...I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's-it's ok-k-kay", She said quietly, "You can."
He slowly placed his hand on her back beneath her top. She moved closer to him as his warm hand slowly pressed against her back,sending warm waves through her. She buried her hands in his chest between them to get all the warmth she could. She felt his legs brush against hers and she tensed. She could now feel nothing but the warmth, so technically she could feel nothing but him.
"Sorry... Again", Draco said. She nodded against his shoulder and he sighed.
"Listen, Granger", he said, softly because his mouth was extremely near to her ear. Now coming to think of it, they hand never been so close before-touching so much. He swallowed hard and continued, "I'd never... do anything wrong to you.... I wouldn't take advantage of you in your weakest situation... I'm sorry I startled you but...I just need you to know that I didn't mean any harm and I never will."
She didn't respond for many seconds and Draco was beginning to think that she had either fallen asleep or had ignored his words. Considering she was still shaking with the cold, he decided it was the latter. But just then, her legs pressed against his and she snuggled closer to him.
"I trust you", She choked out. He nodded and enveloped her legs with his own. She relaxed a little and then she thought of something.
"W-what c-colour was th-the b-bottle th-the healer g-g-gave you?" She said.
"Uh...the one I gave you was purple, I think", Draco said, trying to remember correctly.
"That's wrong..." She said, removing her head from the crook of his neck and looking up at him.
"What do you mean?" Draco asked, confused.
"A p-potion meant for pregnancy is usually green-even th-the strongest ones. I-I'm sure the one the healer g-gave you was g-green." Hermione said, her voice not shaking as much anymore.
"How's that possible? I gave you a potion that was definitely not green", Draco said.
"I think the one you gave me is f-freezing my body-someone exchanged the p-potions", She said, growing worried.
"Freezing your body? Your... your inside?" Draco said, his eyes flying to her stomach.
"Oh no..." Hermione gasped, her hands moving to her stomach.
"You-you could be wrong", Draco said quickly.
"What if it freezes inside?" Hermione said, her palms pressing against her stomach.
"We don't know anything for sure!" Draco said, trying to calm her.
"I don't c-care if my h-heart stops beating I don't care!" Hermione shook her head frantically, "I can't let anything happen to this baby... I just c-can't!" Uncontrollable tears began spilling out of her eyes and he began panicking.
"Oh god... oh god! O-Oh god!" She began hyperventilating.
"There will be no good if you panic! You have to just remain calm, okay? Relax... just relax..." Draco said, rubbing her back soothingly.
"What if something h-happens to h-her?" Hermione sobbed.
"Sssshh... just relax..." Draco said. He had absolutely no idea how to handle this situation!
"I c-can't relax...my baby..." She said, tears falling down her cheeks.
Draco had to think fast. He took her hands in his and placed them on her stomach below her t-shirt.
"Can you feel her moving?" He asked, "Just calm down and try and feel her."
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated. She gave an exasperated sigh and opened her eyes, "I can't f-feel anything! I'm completely numb. If the baby IS k-kicking, I won't be able to feel it- I'm totally frozen."
She removed her hands and let his hands float right above the bump.
"Can I?" He asked, taking permission before doing anything in case she panicked again. He needed to know if the baby was still... breathing.
She nodded hurriedly and held on to the fabric of his t-shirt while he placed his hands on her belly.
"Can you f-feel anything?" Hermione asked, breathlessly, her grip on the fabric tightening.
Draco concentrated. Anything! Any movement at all! Come on! Then he felt a small flutter below his fingers. It was a very very very weak kick from their little baby.
"Say s-something..." Hermione urged him, shaking the fabric within her hands.
"I felt a light flutter", He said, "I'm going to go call a healer... I'm not apparating us to St.Mungos."
"But you felt something- w-what're you h-hiding from me?" Hermione said, tears spilling out again.
"She's weak", He said, about to remove his hands but she caught them and placed them back where they were.
"Don't...it-it keeps the baby warm. I know it", Hermione said.
He left one hand on her stomach and let the other one snake around her waist and on her back,pulling her closer to him. Without thinking, her left arm went around his neck and she held on to him,burying her head into his chest.
He felt her body rack with sobs and he rubbed her back comfortingly.
"I need to call the healer", He whispered to her but she shook her head weakly.
"Don't leave me..." She sobbed, holding tighter to him and he let her.
He nodded and said, "Never". He felt her body shake for a few minutes before her grip around his neck loosened and she went limp in his arms. It was a very intimate position they were in, he thought, but pushed it away immideately. This wasn't the time.
He removed his hand from around her back and withdrew his wand from his back pocket.
"Accio mobile", He said and in a few seconds his mobile reached him from his room. He punched in a number and held the phone to his ear while it rang.
"Hello?" A woman's sleepy voice said.
"Mom?" Draco said.
"Draco? What is it? Why are you calling at such an ungodly hour?" Narcissa said. "It's twelve thirty in the morning."
"Mum-I need you to get a healer to our apartment immideately", He said.
"What? Why? Is everything okay? Is Hermione alright? The baby?" Narcissa's panicked voice sounded from the other line.
"It's Hermione and the baby- just call one NOW! I'll explain later- hurry mother!"
"Of course, dear- just hold on to her", Narcissa said and hung up.
Draco put away the phone and looked at Hermione's figure. She felt fragile in his arms and he made sure he was holding her gently. He rubbed the bulge on her stomach that was their baby with his hand soothingly.
"Please be alright", he whispered, "Dont do this to your mother...don't do this to me. Please."
He pulled Hermione closer, if that was even possible and kissed her head. She shifted her head a little and she was breathing against his neck. With a chilling worry he realized that even her breathe was icy cold.
And that's done! Wow. Lucius returns. Ritch returns. Emotions emotions. Okay just to clarify, Lucius didn't just suddenly turn over a new leaf or anything! He still dislikes Hermione but something inside him changed after he found out he was dying and after he found out about Aaron's middle name- take it as a Malfoy thing. So it isn't just a sudden unnatural change yeah? Anddd next chapter will explain what happened at the end of this one ^
A few people weren't too happy with my previous chapter so Im sorry you guys! I hope this one was alright for you? I haven't been updating in a while, Im so sorry but things have been real busy with me. Im writing when I can and again, sorry TRTL people! I haven't been getting a chance to update your story but Im working full on when I can on THIS one because its going to come to an end soon and I want it to be really perfect :) But after that Im quite sure all my attention will be on TRTL okay? We have about 4-5 chapters left in TOR before it ends!
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