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He had been waiting for that moment since dawn. Nobody had payed any attention to the dark cloaked figure almost lying in ambush near the school gates. It was the first Hogsmeade weekend of the school year. The students had passed by him without raising an alarm. They had probably been too busy thinking about the sweets they would buy at Honeydukes and the items they would find in that damn new shop, Weasley Wizard Wheeze, to notice his presence.

He sneered, then he made a disgusted face. He had seen the traitor leave the castle. So the rumors were true. He was teaching at Hogwarts again… Maybe he would take care of him too. The curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts job had been lifted by Voldemort’s death, but it didn’t mean it was safe. He would make sure of that.

At last, he saw her walking towards the gates, her precious daughter in her arms, and fury almost overwhelmed him. She had been his obsession for months now. He had imagined so many ways to make her suffer, and to kill her. His source had not lied – she was a teacher at Hogwarts. He sneered again, but this time, there was a maniacal glint in his eyes. She had been the best student in her year, maybe in her generation, and she taught potions.

His spy had been keeping an eye on her for months. No one had noticed him – there were far too many strangers in and out of Hogsmeade. After her baby was born, she had shared an apartment not even as big as his own room at home with Charlie Weasley. He smiled contemptuously. If that girl really wanted to ever be accepted by the wizarding community as a true witch, she needed to get over her fondness for bloodtraitors. After the sidekick, the dragon handler. But some might consider that slightly better. And maybe the older brother would have the good idea to get himself killed too. Dragons were nasty creatures. Plus accidents happened a lot around Saint Potter and the Mudblood Granger.

He looked at the baby girl. Of course, she had red hair. All the accursed Weasleys had red hair. But if he had his say, she wouldn’t live long enough to become a bloodtraitor like her father. She was going to pay for her mother’s actions.
He stepped out of the shadow when she passed by him. His left arm darted forward to snake around her throat and he pressed the tip of his wand against the baby’s temple. "Do. Not. Utter. A. Sound!" he growled.

~

Hermione could have sworn her heart almost stop beating. Fear shot through her, making it hard to think. "W-what do you want?" she stammered.

"I want you to suffer, Mudblood," he hissed in her ear.

That voice… and the way he had just called her…

"Malfoy?"

"Don’t even think about pulling out your wand!" he growled. "If you make a move, I’ll kill her."

Hermione could hear that he wasn’t bluffing. And even if he were, she could take no risks. She kept very still.

"Please, you’re no killer. Dumbledore knew it. I’ll go with you, I’ll do anything you want, but don’t hurt my baby!" she implored.

She noticed that silent tears were running down her cheeks. Sensing her mother’s fear and anxiety, Damia started to wail.

"You got it all wrong, Mudblood. Like I said, I want you to suffer as much as I’ve been suffering since you murdered my father."

"I didn’t murder your father, Draco. I cast a spell in self-defense…"

"And you think your life was worth it?" he spat. "He was a pureblood wizard and you’re nothing but a freak… and your kid is a freak too."

Hermione was breathing hard. "I’ll do everything you want, but don’t…"

"I’m here for her, Mudblood."

"No!" Why had she told Charlie she would meet him at the Three Broomsticks? Why had she not let him come and pick her and Damia up, like he had always done?

"Will you still be able to sleep not knowing whether she’s dead or alive?" When she whimpered and tightened her hold on Damia, he let out a maniacal bark of laughter. "And you’re going to give her to me, or I’ll kill her here and now."

"No, please, Draco…" She hated pleading with him, but what she wouldn’t do for herself, she would do for her baby.

"Don’t be stupid, Mudblood…"

~

"Didn’t your father tell you that you had to respect women?" Charlie tutted. His voice was cold, and dripping with sarcasm – and some loathing too.

"And here comes the dragon keeper," Draco drawled. He took Damia from Hermione’s arms by force, and she let go for fear of hurting her daughter. "You won’t save her, you know. Neither of them, in fact."

And he turned on the spot to disapparate, but nothing happened.

"Ah, yes, I forgot to tell you," Charlie added in a dangerous tone. "Dragon handlers know Anti-disapparition spells… and a few others, to help them taking care of their charges." He saw Hermione slightly nod her head from the corner of his eye. "Expelliarmus!" he said.

And at the same time, Hermione cried out, pointing her wand at her daughter, "Wingardium Leviosa!"

Draco just had the time to utter the first syllable of the Disarming Spell before hitting the ground, victim of Charlie’s second spell, a Full Body-Bind Curse.

"And we learn to be very fast – faster than dragons," Charlie continued, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. He walked towards Malfoy. "Of course, we’re not allowed to use our spells on people." He turned to Hermione, who was holding tight to a crying Damia, trying to soothe her. "Are you two alright?"

"Yes," she nodded.

Despite his cool demeanor, Charlie had never been so angry in his whole life. He had been very tempted to use one of his dragon handler’s spells on Draco Malfoy – but he would not lower himself that way.

"What are we going to do with him?" Hermione asked.

She had wiped her tears and she was quite composed again. Charlie had never been so proud of her.

"We’ll take care of him," Minerva McGonagall’s voice answered. "Charlie, take Hermione and Damia away, please."

She was reaching the school gates with Severus Snape and Filius Flitwick.

Charlie hesitated before lowering his wand. But Minerva was right. He had to think first of Hermione and Damia. "Come on, let’s go to the Burrow."

She nodded, then she asked him in a small voice, "Can you side-apparate with Damia?"

"Sure," he responded, knowing that she was still too upset to take the risk to side-apparate with Damia herself.

Not long after, the three of them were on the road leading to the Burrow. Hermione threw herself in Charlie’s arms, and he held them tight.

"Thank you," she sobbed into his chest. "Thank you for having been there for us again!"

"I’ll always be there for you. Always."

~

Ginny and Harry apparated farther up the road and saw Hermione and Charlie in each other’s arms.

"Glad to see those two finally came to their senses," Harry muttered.

Ginny’s head whipped towards him, her eyes huge. "You knew?"

He gave her a lopsided grin. "I’m far more observant than you credit me for, Ginevra Weasley." He sighed theatrically, then he grew serious. "I wouldn’t make a very good Auror if I were not, don’t you think?"

They walked slowly towards the couple and realized then that Hermione was crying and clinging to Charlie as though the world would stop turning if she let go.

"What’s wrong?" Ginny asked.

"What happened?" Harry added, alarmed.

Charlie looked at them in turn and replied, "Let’s all go inside."

When they were all settled in the kitchen of the Burrow, Charlie told them what had happened as Hermione was leaving Hogwarts.

"I should have been there earlier," he concluded, pacing.

"Malfoy," Harry spat, furious, as if the name itself were a curse.

Molly glared at him – she was trying to rock Damia to sleep. Harry looked contrite for a second, then his face hardened again.

Hermione was nursing the cup of strong tea Molly had made her. Her hands had finally stopped shaking. "He was so mad because I k-killed his father during the Final Battle."

"If you had not, you would be dead!" Ginny protested indignantly.

"But according to him the life of a Mud… Muggleborn is not worth the life of a pureblood wizard," the brunette said through gritted teeth.

At first, they were all shocked by the statement, but they were all very aware of the bigotry of some pureblood families like the Malfoys.

"Damn stupid arsehole," Charlie growled.

"I won’t let you swear in front of my granddaughter, Charlie Weasley!" Molly declared, scowling at him.

Hermione caught Charlie’s hand as he was passing behind her and pulled him beside her. "Please, sit down." Their eyes met. He obeyed, and she seemed not to notice she was still holding his hand – almost clinging to it. "I don’t know what I would have done, had you not been there. You saved Damia. And thanks to you, Draco Malfoy is no threat anymore." She took a deep calming breath and continued, "Now could we change the subject, please?"

She had been looking forward to spending the day with her daughter… and Charlie. They saw each other every weekend, either at the Burrow or in Hogsmeade – because of Damia, of course, or at least that was what Hermione told herself. Charlie loved his niece and she had promised him he would still see her any time he wanted to. And it had turned out to be every Saturday or Sunday – sometimes both. As long as the weather had permitted them to, Charlie and Hermione had picnicked and gone for long walks in the hills around the small wizarding town. Then… well, there was always something to do on weekends, if you were searching for a good excuse to see someone.

And Hermione had done so almost as often as Charlie.

She might pretend otherwise, that she was doing this because of her daughter, but the truth was, Hermione loved every minute she spent with Charlie. She had pushed aside, in a dark corner of her mind, what had happened during her last night in his apartment. The attraction, the yearning… she had blamed them on the moment, on the wine and on the dance. She had not allowed herself to think about how he had made her feel anymore…

… until now. All of a sudden, she was very aware of his presence. And if her heart was beating a bit faster, it wasn’t in fear anylonger. Of course, she knew Charlie was a gentle man, but not a soft man. He was strong and brave – she knew that, but she had never seen him like he had been during the attack, and it had been an eye-opener. She was still very impressed…

"Sure." Charlie nodded his head. When she gave him that kind of look, he would do anything to make her happy.

He didn’t tell her when an owl arrived an hour later with a note from Minerva McGonagall. Draco Malfoy wouldn’t be a threat for some time.




A/N: Well, another little twist... I hope you liked it. If you did, you know what to do. If you didn't... well, you know what to do (you can tell me)!

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