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a tiny star by Isha_Rose

Format: Short story
Chapters: 1
Word Count: 5,577
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, AU, Young Adult
Characters: Draco, Scorpius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings:

First Published: 01/23/2008
Last Chapter: 01/29/2008
Last Updated: 01/30/2008

Summary:


Draco and Astoria Malfoy have been married for less than three months when their son is born. He is a beautiful, bursting little bundle of a boy, but he is not perfect. In fact, he has a rare condition known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder, and his future looks about as stable as a village built on sand. The family is torn apart, and Astoria immediately heads for the door. But where does this leave Draco, and the son he's never wanted?


Chapter 1: A brand new morn.
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A/N: This fic is intended as a prequel to my series 'Walking Barefoot all summer' but can most certainly be read as a standalone also.













I  want to tell you about my son, because he is the bravest person that I have ever known. When I look at him, I see a smile that is present through will and strength alone. I see eyes which are bright, and I see a vigorous hunger for life. He wants to live, and it is because of this that he and I will always keep on fighting.

   And it’s funny in a way, because, for a long time I thought that I was incapable of loving anything beyond the realms of my own reflection. But to look at him now is enough to make me realise just how wrong I’ve been. I love him, and I won’t let anything take him away from me.

   He is a miracle, no matter what they say.

 

*

 

   “You’re pregnant?” Draco Malfoy asked the defiant girl in front of him with a nasty curl to his lip. “Are you sure?” he persisted, “Because you’d be a fool for thinking that I haven’t heard that line before.”

   Astoria Greengrass jutted out her chin with irritation. “Quite sure.” She told him in a sharp voice, one of her small, elegant hands landing on the evident bulge of her tummy. “Six months gone.”

   “Merlin.” Draco spat, wrenching his eyes away from her horrific figure, “Too late to have the blasted thing taken out then. Couldn’t you have been a bit more careful?”

   “Me? Oh no,” Astoria growled, shaking her head angrily. “You are not leaving me alone in this, Draco Malfoy. This is just as much your mess as it is mine.”

   “What do you want me to say?” Draco snapped, throwing his arms above his head with outrage. “You want me to marry you? Is that it?” he watched her closely for a moment or two, then closed his eyes in exasperation. “Of course that’s it.” He muttered darkly.

   “Oh, don’t flatter yourself Draco.” Astoria snapped, “We both know that neither of us were in this relationship for the long haul. A little bit of cold comfort here and there, sure, but you can rest assured that I had absolutely no interest in trapping your worthless little heart.” She glared at him, her furious eyes as sour as two slices of lemon. “But now you’ve gone and left me in the lurch, and I don’t very much fancy taking up the role of the young unwedded mother.”

   “I don’t love you.”

   Astoria narrowed her eyes. “You take me to be some kind of fool.” She said, her tone low and dark. “But I know you Draco Malfoy. You don’t love anyone, so if you expect to hurt me by professing your sincere lack of love, then you are very sadly mistaken about me. I don’t need to be loved, Draco. I need social security. I need a wedded name, and a husband of pure blood and status. I don’t care what you want, because that doesn’t matter to anyone anymore. You will marry me before this brat is born, I can substantiate that.”

   Draco sneered. “I’ll marry you,” he conceded, though his voice was laced with malice, unlike any wedding proposal ever voiced before, “But rest assured Astoria, you will not enjoy being my wife.”

   “I daresay I would not enjoy being anybody’s wife, let alone yours.” Astoria retorted, her vicious pride flaring up in an instant. “If there were any choice in the matter then I would not be marrying you, but soon enough I will be bulging out in all manner of places, and people are bound to talk.”

   “Indeed.” Draco said, his tone becoming derisive as he glanced back down at her growing belly. “A child.” He muttered, shaking his head with fast disdain. “I swore I’d never have one, but it seems you’ve left me with no choice.”

 

*

 

   The wedding was an inexplicably cold and heartless affair, conducted less than a week later at the end of a long, sweltering August afternoon. Draco’s parents attended, though they sneered at the very concept of a wedding. Of course, they could both understand and appreciate the validity of a marriage for necessity (after all, they greatly contested the thought of a little Malfoy child running around outside of wedlock), but they had no kind words or advice to offer their only son. Just sour grapes, and a bitter farewell.

   Draco was fast realising that he was about to be hit in the face by reality. He first understood it fully, in fact, the very moment he saw Astoria heading down the aisle towards him, cool as ice despite her heated summer surroundings. She was beautiful, of course, because he’d hardly consort with anyone less than breathtaking, but she was as cold as he was, and she didn’t smile as she glided towards him.

   Her long blonde hair was pulled back from her flawless face, giving her a sharp, severe look which reminded him undeniably of the old Gryffindor head of house, McGonagall. Her skin was pale as milk, so pale in fact, that it was almost impossible to tell where the ivory dress ended and the ivory flesh began. She held a bouquet of white roses, speckled with enchanted diamonds which matched the one upon her finger almost perfectly. Her dress was long and fitted, emphasising the natural swell of her pregnant body, without making her look lumpy or unattractive. Without hiding the fact that she was having his child (they’d fought long and hard over whether or not to conceal this fact, but eventually came to the mutual agreement that it would all come out in the end anyway, so they might as well bite the bullet and get the animosity over and done with).

   But it was when she came to stand at his side, and he was permitted to raise her pure white veil, that he really understood what he was getting himself into. And it scared the Hell out of him.

   There was a baby growing inside of her, and it was his. Actually, it was theirs. Something which they were always going to have, to share, and to bring up in a dismal mirror image of themselves. Draco could practically shudder at the idea of a child, being the terrible mix of both Astoria and himself. Neither of them were particularly benevolent characters, and he couldn’t help but imagine the growing foetus to be some kind of horrendous monster, ready to burst from Astoria's midsection and ruin their lives with vomit and selfish rage.

   He was dreading the birth, and he was dreading the life that he knew would follow. But he knew that there was nothing either of them could do about it now, so he took her cold hand into his own, and he smiled a dark, loveless smile.

   “I, Draco Lucius Malfoy.”

 

*

 

   The boy was born on the twentieth of November, 2005. It was a bitterly cold day, with rain lashing against the hospital windows, making Draco’s sour wife unnecessarily livid as he supported her through to the hospital reception. He recognised the faces of the hospital staff around him as old members of rival houses, back from his Hogwarts days. In fact, from the numerous glares he was receiving, Draco found it was safe to assume that they remembered him too.

   No one seemed to want to help the hideously bitter Malfoy couple, and eventually they were left under the care of a pretty young nurse who looked just as frightened of them, as a puppy faced with a dinosaur.

 Astoria's labour was long and arduous, and for the most part, Draco found himself standing against the wall, holding his breath. It was almost as if he could keep time from progressing, if he did not permit his lungs to work. If he didn’t breathe, neither would the rest of the world. And then maybe all of this insanity would stop. The baby would go back to where it came from, Astoria's wedding ring would vanish, Draco’s face would be clean-shaven once more, and all of this would be okay again.

   “Okay, I need you to push for me now Mrs Malfoy.” The blonde was saying. Her confidence had grown, and Draco had realised that she had been a Hufflepuff, back in his day. “Mr Malfoy, would you like to come and hold your wife’s hand?”

   “No!” Astoria choked out, and she shot a resentful glare in Draco’s direction. “I don’t need him. I-“

   “Okay, okay. It’s alright Mrs Malfoy. Just breathe.”

   “I am breathing, you stupid girl!” Astoria bellowed, her voice pounding off of the walls. The blonde didn’t react though, just persisted in her eloquent soothing.

   “Alright, you’re almost there now. Just one more big push. One more big push.” She smiled, sitting forwards. “I can see the crown of your baby’s head. Mr Malfoy, would you like to come ’round and see?”

   Draco glanced at his wife, before taking a hesitant step towards the scene. He wasn’t so sure that he did want to see, but thought that perhaps he ought to at least feign interest.

   As it happens, he cast a disinterested glance towards his arriving son, and felt nothing. Not anticipation, not fear, not adoration, not disgust. He, quite simply, felt nothing.

   “Okay, another push.” The Nurse was saying, though he could barely hear her. The nothingness was all-compounding, like a silence that drowns, rather than comforts. “Just one more, Astoria.” Numbness settled over his limbs, and no matter how desperately he longed to run away, he couldn’t move a muscle.

   Suddenly, with a burst of Technicolor, Draco’s astonishing silence was shattered. A wailing baby was suddenly lying in the Nurse’s arms, and Astoria was crying, and he was rushing (though he didn’t know where he was rushing to), and the Nurse was putting the baby in his arms, and he was bending down to let Astoria touch his face, and Astoria was gasping and crying and stroking the baby’s cheek, and Draco was aware of his trembling knees more than the almost non-existent weight of his son, (his son) in his arms.

   “A boy, a boy.” Astoria choked out, touching his face in wonderment. “Oh Draco, look. He’s so perfect. He’s such a perfect little boy.”

   Draco was immediately alarmed by her uncharacteristic gushing, but he didn’t dare disagree with her. She wouldn’t have noticed anyway. She seemed entranced as she gazed upon the little boy’s face, tracing his miniature expressions as if they were made of the most exquisite fabrics. Touching him the way she might have previously touched expensive jewellery or the clothes she liked to spend a fortune on.

   It was in that moment, however, as Draco stared down at his wife staring at their son, that he realised they might actually be okay.

   But then, nothing was ever that simple.

   All of a sudden, the Nurse was dashing over and scooping the little boy out of Draco’s arms, and Astoria was crying once more, begging the woman not to take her baby away.

 

*

 

   “Mr Malfoy, I suggest you sit down.”

   Draco glanced between the Nurse, and his wife who was lying inanimately in her bed, staring up at the ceiling. He looked to the Nurse again, and she gave him a small nod. He sat down on the edge of Astoria's bed, and gently took her hand into his. It was difficult to be gentle with her, since they’d never really ever been anything other than harsh, before now.

   “Where did you take my baby?” Astoria asked blankly, her eyes still fixed upon the ceiling.

   “It’s okay, Mrs Malfoy.” The Nurse replied, trying her best to sound reassuring. “Your son is alright. We have him on an isolated ward and-“

   “Why?”

   The Nurse blinked, hesitating. “Your son... He’s,” she glanced at Draco, as if he might offer her some kind of support, but he merely stared blankly back at her. “He’s not well.” She finally admitted.

   Astoria didn’t speak, didn’t even shift her gaze. Draco dropped his eyes to the floor, forcing himself to look anguished, but still feeling as numb as ice inside. The Nurse seemed to be waiting for one of them to speak, so Draco raked fingers through his hair, then glanced up.

   “What’s wrong with him?”

   “Your son is suffering from a condition called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder, which means, in straightforward terms, that he has been born without a basic immune system.”

    “Without a-?”

   Draco stared at the Nurse, who was gazing back at him with an expression of sympathy. “That’s why he has to be kept in isolation for now, because the smallest virus or infection could prove fatal. He-” she paused again, looking somewhat hesitant before she spoke, “He’s a beautiful boy,” she finally whispered, with a slight, unprofessional sniff, “But he will be much more work than a baby born without his condition. I just... I don’t want you to give up on him.”

   Draco couldn’t feel his heart beating anymore. He turned slowly to look at his wife, and her empty expression frightened him. He didn’t want this... This responsibility, and this ending to his easy, carefree life. He didn’t want a disabled son, and he didn’t want all of these sudden difficulties.

   And this, of course, was all about him after all.

   “I’m sorry.” He said, standing abruptly. “I... I need to think. I can’t do this right now.”

   The young Nurse blanched as he grabbed his coat, and hastily stalked past her. “Mr Malfoy-” she said in a hesitant voice, rising to her feet and reaching out in an attempt to halt him, “Please, don’t walk away from this-”

   He shook her off easily. “Told you.” He snapped, forgetting to be pleasant. “I need to think.”

   For a moment, he glanced back at Astoria again, and her blank eyes scared him. He couldn’t do this at all- let alone with her being such a state.

   She’d snap out of it, of course, because she was that... Thing’s mother, and it was up to her to love him. To make sure it was alright.

   But for some reason, Draco didn’t feel a similar obligation. Just a sharp assumption that Astoria would fulfil the role he had no interest in taking up. He would support her of course, because he had vowed to. But that was as far as it went. The word ‘Malfoy’ entailed perfection, and that thing, ‘born without an immune system’, was the antithesis of perfection. A blight on the Malfoy line.

   “Draco...” Astoria whimpered, but he looked away.

   “It’ll be alright.” He replied quietly. But he was talking about himself. Not their child.

 

*

 

   Draco walked into the ward the next day with a steaming coffee in each hand, heading straight towards Astoria’s room. It was a sense of duty which compelled his footsteps, and though his head was exhausted, he’d decided to do the right thing. He supposed it was the wedding ring on his finger which instilled the sense of duty within him, though the thought of his ‘son’ made him feel physically sick- both with nerves, and with horror. He didn’t want to think about that tiny, helpless creature, trapped inside its sterile incubator, and somehow being a little part of him.

   It was easier to imagine the baby as a thing, and not think about what it could mean to him.

   “Astoria?” he knocked gently on the door to her room, and then pushed it open, heading inside.

   He stopped abruptly, however, when he saw the nurse folding his wife’s bed sheets away and cleaning up the remnants of her hospital supplies. He dropped the coffees he’d been holding, and they made a loud splat! sound as they hit the clean, hospital floor. The nurse looked up with a start, but her expression softened considerably when she saw Draco standing in the doorway.

   “Oh,” she said gently, “Mr Malfoy.”

   “What’s going on?” He instantly demanded, “Where on earth is my wife?”

   The nurse seemed to stiffen with fear, and her eyes flew wildly to his face, searching deep into his expression, as if hoping to find some indication of whether or not to tell him the full truth.

   “I...” she started cautiously, but then she shook her head firmly, “I’m very, very sorry Mr Malfoy, but your wife... She just... She left.”

   Draco felt his mouth fall open in shock. Of all the words he had been dreading to hear, this was not at all what he had expected. “She... Left?” he repeated, utterly utterly astounded.

   “I’m afraid so.” The Nurse confirmed. “I’m very sorry to say that the explanation of your son’s... Disability was altogether too much for her. I tried to talk her into staying, of course I did, but she really was quite adamant. She apparated out of here this morning, and we’ve heard nothing from her since.”

   “You mean to tell me that you let her leave.”

   “Mr Malfoy,” the Nurse said stiffly, “I assure you, she had no interest in my opinion whatsoever. I tried to stop her, but her mind was made up.”

   Draco gritted his teeth in frustration, then pressed his forehead against his shaking hand. “Where... Where did she go?”

   The Nurse shook her head. “I don’t know.” She replied. “She wouldn’t tell me anything, Draco.”

   “Don’t call me Draco.” He snapped angrily. “And don’t mess me around Nurse...” He glared down at her name card. “Nurse Abbott.

   “Hannah, please.” She said in a very soft voice, but he ignored her indignantly.

   “I’ve gotta get out of here.” He said, shaking his head and looking away from her. “I can’t stand these places.”

   “Let me take you to your s-”

   “No.” Draco interrupted, as soon as he realised how she intended to end her sentence. “No, I don’t want to see the boy.”

   “Mr Malfoy,” She tried again, “Your son is not well.” She emphasised, looking slightly more annoyed now as she regarded him. “He needs you.”

   “No.” Draco shook his head. “This-” he indicated everything around him, “This isn’t me, Nurse Abbott. This is too much, and I don’t want it. I don’t want any of this.”

   Hannah frowned, her face creasing against her usual smile lines. “Fatherhood isn’t a choice, Mr-”

   “Please,” he interrupted, holding up one of his strong hands like a barrier between himself and her insistent words, “The last thing I need right now is a lecture, from you.”

   “Well, at least-”

   “No, I don’t want to see him!” Draco yelled, his temper flaring up as he backed away from her. “I never asked for any of this you know. I didn’t want a son before, and I certainly don’t want one now.”

   “Mr Mal-”

   “Didn’t you hear me, you stupid girl? I don’t want a son.”

   “Well!” she protested, suddenly looking flustered and angry, “I’m afraid you have one Mr Malfoy. A son who needs you: a son who needs a father, not a twenty six year old spoilt brat with an attitude problem. I suggest you bloody well grow up and accept your responsibilities before you find yourself twenty years down the line, with no one and nothing to show for your life.”

   Draco looked thunderstruck at this outburst, and he raised his chin indignantly, making sure she knew just how far beneath him he considered her to be. “I don’t have to assume responsibility for that boy.” He said, his tone stern and clear. “He needs me about as much as he needs a pair of wings.”

   “Draco-“

   “Don’t presume to know me, Nurse Abbot.” Draco snapped nastily, spinning abruptly on his heel and heading straight towards the door. “The child can be placed up for adoption, or he can be drowned in the nearest river for all I care. It really makes no difference to me.”

   And with that cruel statement, he was gone.

 

*

 

   The phone rang in the middle of the night.

   Draco rolled over in his empty bed, one paw-like hand creeping over the space that Astoria had been occupying, then reaching upwards in a dreary motion in an attempt to reach the phone before it rang off. “Hello?” Draco asked, squinting at his clock through the darkness. Half past three. “Who’s there?”

   “Hello Mr Malfoy,” said an overly cheerful voice on the other end of the line, “This is Nurse Abbot.”

   “Nurse-”

   “Yes, the midwife.”

   Draco frowned, sitting up slowly and bringing the phone onto his lap. “What d’you want?” He asked, his voice coming out in a tired drawl.

   “Well,” she said, “I’m sure you remember your poorly son, and I was just calling to-”

   “Is he alright?” Draco asked impulsively, and he instantly regretted it as the woman on the other end of the line went quiet. He wasn’t supposed to care, and he didn’t care. It’d just seemed like the right thing to ask.

   “Actually,” Nurse Abbot said slowly, “He’s... He’s not doing too well at all. But that isn’t why I called.” She paused for a moment, and Draco scratched his head, wondering how he was supposed to feel. “I... Uhm, that is to say, you... You need to come to the hospital to collect the necessary papers for putting your little boy up for adoption.”

   Draco frowned. Her request seemed obscure to him, and he squinted over at the clock again. “At three thirty in the morning?”

   “Certainly.” The Nurse replied. “That’s when all the paperwork is filed.”

   Draco shook his head. “Seems like a bit of a dodgy system to me.” He frowned. “Why are you really calling? What d’you expect me to say? I told you that I don’t-”

   “Please,” She interrupted, and he could imagine the shaking of her head. “Don’t dismiss your boy. I... I know it’s hard. Trust me, I know. But he’s a beautiful boy. I just want you to...”

   “To what?” Draco snapped, suddenly feeling very awake, “To come to St Mungos at silly-o’clock in the morning. To see the kid all tucked up in his incubator? Do you really think that I’m going to change my mind?”

   There was a long pause.

   “I know you will.”

   “No.” Draco said, shaking his head angrily. “You don’t know me at all, Nurse-”

   “Hannah.” She said softly, and Draco felt his jaw clench.

   “I don’t want this boy.” He spit out adamantly, his fingers tightening around the phone cord. “Told you. I didn’t want him before, and I certainly don’t want him now. I don’t need any of this- do you hear me? I just want to be left alone.”

   “Fine.” Hannah said, her voice soft but edged with strength. “Then prove it. Come and get your papers now. Look at your son, and walk away. You think you can do that, Draco?”

   “I know I can do that.” He growled, throwing the duvet off of him and pushing himself towards the edge of the bed. “And don’t ever call me Draco.”

   He slammed the phone down.

 

*

 

   She was waiting for him in the foyer when he finally arrived, not even an hour later. The dark November night was fierce and chilly outside, and Draco Malfoy shook his wet jacket off with a sneer as Hannah Abbot scurried over to meet him.

   “Let’s get this over with then.” He snarled, pushing his jacket into her arms. “I haven’t got all day.”

   Hannah looked extremely annoyed by this assertion, but she kept a hold of his coat all the same. “Fine.” She said, nodding towards the sign that pointed to the maternity ward. “Come on then, Mr Malfoy. Right this way.”

   She started towards the corridor that his son waited at the end of, but she stopped again when she noticed that the man wasn’t following her. “What?” She asked as she turned around to face him once more. “Scared?”

   His lip curled. “No.” He snapped, trying to pin her with his most derisive glare. “Just... I want to see these documents before I let you take me anywhere else. You’ve already messed me around enough, Nurse Abbot.”

   Hannah looked as if she wanted to say something, but she held her tongue.

   “Fine.” She said, her voice catching slightly. “Right this way.”

   She led him in the opposite direction, coming to stop outside an ominous looking office, then knocking curtly. When she received no reply, she pushed the door open and stepped inside, beckoning Draco after her. “Come on in.” She said, “There’s no one about at this time in the morning.”

   Draco sneered, muttering, “I thought all the paperwork was done at this time.” But he followed her all the same.

   She was rustling around with some papers on the other side of the room, looking sour, but Draco just ignored her expression. Who cares what she thinks. He thought to himself bitterly. Who the Hell is she to judge me?

   “Here we are.” She said in an overly bright voice, sweeping out a set of documents and landing them on the desk in front of him with a flourish. “The papers to sever your poor, unwell son from the only chance he’s got at a real family.” She smiled boldly, pointing. “You sign here.”

   Draco just glared at her, reaching for a pen, but she looked suddenly astonished, and she pulled the papers away again, abruptly shaking her head.

   “No,” She said, and for the first time she looked a little bit worried. Perhaps she hadn’t realised that, yes, he really was serious about this. “Okay,” She said, “Sign the papers if that’s... What you feel that you have to do. But not before seeing your son. Just once, Draco, that’s all I’m asking you for.”

   Draco Malfoy hesitated, the pen still in his hand, and his hand still poised over the place where the papers had previously lain. He struggled with the desire to snap at her for her constantly annoying demands, but then he sighed, resigning himself.

   “Fine.” He said, “And you do what you feel you have to, but I’m telling you now, my mind’s already made up.”

   Hannah smiled, as if she’d won something. “Good.” She said softly. “Follow me.”

   This time she did lead him down the corridor to the maternity ward, and Draco felt his stomach clenching up with something unrecognisable as they moved together, Hannah walking one step ahead of him at all times. He felt sick, and he knew that, more than anything, he didn’t want to see the boy. Not today, nor any day.

   “There.” Hannah Abbot said, pointing to a window, with a chair positioned before it. “He’ll be sleeping now, and obviously you can’t hold him without putting on a sterile jumpsuit, but you... You can see him.” She hesitated, noticing that Draco wasn’t really paying attention to her anyway. Then she gave him a little push on the small of his back, “Go on.” She said, propelling him forwards, whilst remaining resolutely where she stood.

   Draco stumbled slightly, but he tried to hide his nerves as he righted himself smartly, then strode towards the glass window which his son was sleeping behind. The chair was an ugly prospect, as it represented prolonged viewing of the boy, so he didn’t sit down. He came to a halt outside the window, and he looked at the glass.

   It was thick, double glazed glass, and it was smeary with finger marks. He followed the patterns of another person’s fingers, wondering what they’d seen to point at, and wondering what it all meant. He felt his breath coming out in faster and faster puffs, and then all of a sudden, the figure behind the prints came into a deep, sharp focus.

   One tiny, tiny person, lying asleep on his back with his head tilted towards his father, and one arm thrown up like a flag. A white flag, flickering for mercy.

   His tiny features were even smaller and more delicate in sleep. Two closed eyes, like marginal creases in a soft, smooth fruit. Draco felt his jaw falling open, and he did nothing to stop it, as he stared, and stared, and stared.

   The boy was unclothed, wrapped up in a sterile white blanket which was tucked all the way up to his chin, rising and falling with every tired, habitual breath. Why is he bothering? Draco wondered absently as he watched the boy’s chest hypnotically rise and fall. If it was me, I’m sure I’d give up. What does he think he’s holding on for?

   As if the child could sense that his father had finally come, one eye cracked open and gazed blearily up at the glass. Impossibly blue eyes met impossibly blue eyes for the first time, and Draco staggered back into the chair, legs folding beneath him.

   The tiny creature lay within his plastic manger, staring out at his reluctant father with helpless, half-opened watery blue eyes. Eyes which seemed to be saying “I dare you to love me.”

   “I dare you to care.”

   Draco could see his own breath frosting up the glass which separated father and son, and he fought the urge to wipe the obscuring mist away. He didn’t need to see the child. He was perfectly content with just sitting there. He ignored the thoughts coursing through his mind, but found that, no matter how hard he tried, he actually couldn’t look away.

   “He’s beautiful, isn’t he.” Hannah said, and Draco felt her hand close around the top of the chair which he was now occupying. She’d stated fact, not asked his opinion. “Like a little angel, too precious to touch skin to skin. But you can hold him, if you’d like?”

   “No.” Draco said instantly, and all too suddenly he was standing again. He looked away from the beautiful, imperfect child, and he looked at Hannah instead. The smile lines on her face creasing down again into a frown. “Give me back those papers. I don’t want this.”

   Her lip wobbled, and he felt her eyes move over his shoulder as she sought comfort in the little boy’s presence once more. “I...” She hesitated, as if finally lost for words. “Won’t you just-“

   “No.” Said Draco, sternly, and with pronounced finality. “And I don’t appreciate the trauma that you’ve put me through, Nurse Abbot. I have the right to walk away from this, and I fully intend to exercise that right, without, if you don’t mind, having to answer for myself in front of you.”

   Hannah’s eyes were still on the little boy, but she effected a small nod. She handed him the papers without tearing her eyes away, and she didn’t bid him farewell as he strode off into the sunrise.










A/N: I originally intended this to be a one-shot, but there is just so much for me to explore and get my teeth into that it ended up being far too many words, and I didn't want to lose readers because of that. The good news is that that means the whole story is already written, and just waiting to be validated.

Another quick note to remind everyone that this is intended as a prequel to 'Walking Barefoot'. Thanks for all the support!
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