August 10th, 2012
Hermione took a deep breath, finally ready to get on with this portion of her visit. She unfolded the letter, gathered her bearings, and began to read.
"'Dear dad, I did accidental magic. I made my food fly across the room because I didn't like the vegetables that mum gave me. Mum was both mad and happy. She said that when I'm old enough I'll get to go to a magic school for little kids before they get to Hogwarts. Just like Rose. It will help me so I can control my magic. I hope you're proud of me.'"
Hermione smiled at it a bit and sniffled before folding it back. "Obviously I took a bit of liberty while recounting what Hugo said. He's only been four for a short time after all."
She set the letter aside and pulled out another. "Rose has gotten a bit private as of late," Hermione frowned. "She doesn't want me to read her letter so...I guess I'll just leave it here for you."
Hermione bent over and laid the envelope amidst flowers and against the still somewhat fresh tombstone. She sat back on her heels and stared at it. The expensive marble, because nothing was too good for her husband, her best friend. The engravings that included his name, a memoriam, his date of birth, and his...date of death.
It had been six months since Ron's death, and she'd been coming to his grave on his death day for the past five months. She knew what her family and friends thought. They thought that it wasn't healthy. To hold onto someone that couldn't be held would only deepen her depression and turn her into a useless mess. In a way Hermione agreed, but for right now she needed this. Besides, if she analyzed her actions she would say that she was doing well. Before she would spend hours here, some five or six. Most often than not Harry would have to come bring her home for the sake of her sanity and because Rose and Hugo were wondering where she was. But these last two months she only spent three hours. Over time she hoped that it would dwindle to briefer visits. Ones that would be filled with happiness at a reflection of old times, not sadness.
"Until next month, Ron," Hermione said softly. She gently patted the ground before getting up and disapparating. She landed on her doorstep and stood there for a good fifteen minutes. When she felt like she was fine, she opened the door and, to her surprise, found the house silent.
"I sent them upstairs to play," Harry said as he came out of the kitchen. He gestured to the front door. "I heard you apparate."
"Thanks," Hermione replied humbly. Last month Rose and Hugo had been a witness to the aftermath of a terrible sobbing session. She never wanted to let them see her like that again. "Were they alright?"
"Rowdy siblings as always," Harry grinned. "Not unlike my own."
Hermione could do nothing but agree. James was eight, Albus six like Rose, and Lily three. She didn't know how he and Ginny managed, but they did it. Her and Ron were always running around doing something with both children or just one of them. Now it was just her. With two children aged six and four.
She blinked. "What?"
Harry frowned. "I asked if you and the kids wanted to spend the night."
"Oh… No, no it's okay. I'm fine. We'll be okay."
Harry nodded. "Alright. Well, you know where to find us."
Hermione smiled. "One Floo or apparation away. Got it."
Hermione showed Harry to the fireplace although he didn't need the escort. When he was gone she sighed and headed upstairs to greet the dynamic duo who would be responsible for her getting grey hairs early. She found them in Rose's room, surprisingly getting along. They were playing wizard's chess which still baffled her because of their ages. Ron had started them off early, playing them both in turn and teaching them strategies. By now they were both little geniuses. Rose would be playing in her first tournament for it in October. Ron had been looking forward to watching her play…
"Did Uncle Harry go?" Hugo asked without taking his eyes off of the chess board.
"He did," Hermione replied. "Who's winning?"
"I am," Rose grinned as she watched a chess piece move forward and destroyed one of her brother's.
Hugo frowned. "Cheater."
"No cheating here. All skill!"
Hermione had nothing to say. Instead she pulled up a chair and decided to watch the rest of the game. Her children were happy and being near them always made her dull ache go away.
"He calls me his petit bonhomme," Scorpius said with a turned up nose. He was with his father by the lake behind their house and feeding ducks. It was something that they liked to do when they were home and made sure to do it often when the weather was nice. "I don't like it."
"Me neither," Draco said as he tossed some bread onto the water. "Besides," he added with a smile. "If anyone's going to be calling you their petit bonhomme it's me."
Draco tried his best not to grimace. "Yes, mum too."
They were quiet for a while, just throwing bits of bread and watching the ducks hungrily gobble it up. Scorpius eventually broke the quiet with a question he had been expecting a lot sooner than this.
"Are you, mum, and me going to live the same house again?"
The same house… Draco quite missed that house and more than the witch that still lived in it. He had spent nine years in that house along La Garonne in France, four years before it in a modest, yet still lavish apartment until marriage. And now he was back in England after thirteen years with his son who visited him on the weekends as he and his mother went through, what Draco considered, an unnecessary step in the divorce process.
"Do you want us to live in the same house again?"
Scorpius paused and thought. "Yes and no."
Draco furrowed his brow. "Why no?"
The little boy looked up at his father and grinned. "I don't get two bedrooms if we live in the same house."
Draco laughed. He dropped the rest of his bread on the ground next to him and dropped down to one knee to pull him into his arms. "I love you, you know that?"
"Dad…" Scorpius choked out. "I can't breathe."
Draco let go a little and smiled. "Sorry,"
August 15th, 2012
"You've been living here for a month and you still haven't filled this house yet?" Theo fretted as he walked around Draco's lounge. As of now it only held a billiards table, a muggle thing that his friend had grown to like during his early years in France.
"I have priorities, Theo," Draco said as he picked up two pool sticks and handed one to him. "Scorpius' room needed to be fully outfitted first."
Theo cocked a brow. "And it took you, a man with inexhaustible expenses, a month to do that?"
"It had to be perfect," he said simply. He then motioned to the billiards table with a grin. "And I also got this."
"Oh yes, because reprising your gambling problem is a necessity versus a place to lay your head."
"It wasn't a problem. It was a well-controlled habit," Draco contradicted and used his wand to line up the billiards balls in the way they were supposed to go. "And for your information I have an inflatable bed."
Theo clicked his tongue. "Inflatable bed… When you returned to England I expected a more hoity-toity version of yourself, not a muggle artifact lover. Not that anything is wrong with muggles," he added quickly. Draco smiled and lined up for his first shot.
"It's alright you know. Franny's not here to hear you."
"Bridling the tongue now saves from mistakes later."
Draco nodded. "Touché." The balls scattered beautifully and even landed two in. "Damn, I've missed this. If you want the definition of 'hoity-toity' then go find Astoria. She had promptly destroyed the billiards table I had brought into the house. It didn't read 'proper etiquette' for a social elite home."
"Oh, I bet," Theo snickered as he aimed his pool stick at the cue ball. "How many months until the trial separation is over?"
"Eleven…bloody…months," Draco grumbled. "The French Ministry is the absolute biggest pain in my arse. Had I known that was their take on marriage I would've pushed for having the ceremony here."
"It's not much better here, mate. You have to wait eight."
"Still shorter than a year."
Theo inclined his head. "Very true. Well, try not to think about it in the meantime. You and Astoria both have separate lives now. Maybe time will fly a little faster by not seeing her every day."
"By Merlin I hope so," Draco sighed.
The two of them managed to play two rounds before hunger called them from the house. They decided to head into London, and although they had been walking around for nearly a half an hour, neither could come to an agreement on where to actually go.
"Buggering hell," Theo grumbled. "No wonder Astoria used to just pull you into any restaurant without your input."
"You're misconstruing things," Draco said as he stood outside of a restaurant and read the menu on a stand. "She simply didn't care about my opinion. It had nothing to do with my selectiveness."
"'Selectiveness' is just a fancy way of saying picky."
Draco shrugged as he frowned at the menu. "If you say so," he said and then peered down the street.
"Oh no," Theo shook his head. "My stomach is about to recede on itself. We're eating here. End of discussion. Draco? Did you hear me?"
"Well, would you look at that," Draco motioned with his head and a slight smirk. "And here I thought I had a handful with just one."
Theo followed Draco's line of sight and saw what he was looking at. Well, more like who. It was Hermione Weasley, née Granger heading down the street with two children beside her.
"That's nothing," Theo commented. "I heard Potter's got three. Anyway, I'm heading inside to get a table."
Theo turned before Draco could follow him. The blond became distracted when a ball came bouncing, and then rolling, down the sidewalk. He bent down and picked it up. When he was finally upright a boy, who looked like a mini version of Weasley in every way, was standing in front of him with his hands out.
"Sorry, Mister," Hugo said with a grin. "Can I have my ball, please?"
"Hugo, that's precisely why I said not to play with it down the street," Hermione scolded once she caught up to him. She then turned her head to the man who was giving her son his ball back. "I'm really sorry about-" she stopped. And then she blinked. Draco smirked.
"Something in your eye, Granger?"
That snapped Hermione back to reality in a heartbeat. She knew better than to let her children see her in a verbal spat, and so she sent them three storefront windows down where they were meeting Ginny and Lily.
"Malfoy," Hermione curtly greeted. "Last I heard you were off gallivanting about the rest of Europe."
"Not gallivanting. Settling," Draco corrected. "In France, to be precise. And I see you've done your fair share of settling."
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Draco chuckled and placed his hands at the rim of his pants' pockets. "If you're asking me then I think you know," he gestured with his head behind him. "Freckles. Red hair. Obviously you married Weasley. If you did nothing else with your future I thought you would've traded up."
While not necessarily polite, Draco had fallen back on what he knew. This, quips and insults, was what he used to with this woman and her lot. It was nothing new. And he had been fully expecting the brunette to grow red in the face, perhaps call him a child and defend the classless, red-headed nuisance, and then head off to her children.
She did get red. That much was certain. However, the acerbic reply Draco had been looking for didn't come. Instead her eyes went wide. They looked a tad watery too. She had taken a deep breath, pursed her lips, and closed her eyes once as though trying to compose herself. When they opened back they were angry, but not an angry angry. A sad type of angry that Draco had no idea how to interpret.
"Almost fifteen years out of Hogwarts," she said with a quaking voice, "and you're still a horrible person."
Hermione stormed away from him and left Draco completely flabbergasted. He scratched his head once before heading into the restaurant and having the maître d' show him where Theo was. The brown-haired man was already chowing down on an appetizer. At least he had been gracious enough to push half off to the side for him.
"You look confused," Theo commented after swallowing. "What happened?"
"Granger's lost her touch, that's what happened." Draco replied as he sat down. "We spoke-"
"Meaning that you argued. Go on."
"Yeah, well, I said something about that oaf she married and she barely reacted. It was the most uneventful encounter I've ever had."
Theo's fork fell from his hand with a clatter as his eyes widened much like Hermione's had. "You made a wisecrack about her husband?"
"Of course," Draco shrugged. "What of it?"
"You arse, Draco. Merlin, how much of an insensitive prick are you?"
"Insensitive? When did you get so sensitive?" The blond shot back. "You used to make fun of him too."
"Key words: used to," Theo snapped. "Aside from the fact that we're adults, I wouldn't stoop so low as to make fun of someone's dead husband."
Draco's mouth flopped open. "Weasley's dead?"
Theo furrowed his brow. "You didn't know? It was all over the Daily Prophet."
Draco scoffed and anxiously began to prod at his appetizer with a fork. "You know that I stopped reading the Daily Prophet and every media outlet like it."
Theo bit back his tongue. Yes, he knew. For good reason too. "Someone tried to rob the joke shop he ran with his brother. A fight happened, destroyed the bloody place, and well you've seen it before. There's a lot of stuff in there, you know? Bloke got buried under a bunch of it and couldn't get out while the other guy hauled it. Weasley suffocated under everything."
Draco couldn't help the look of horror on his face. No, he was no fan of Weasley's, but to die like that? That wasn't the way to go. And to leave a wife and two young kids behind? He suddenly thought of Scorpius and what it would be like if the boy had suddenly lost him.
"Damn it," Draco groaned as he lolled his head back. "I wouldn't have said what I did if I had known. How long has he been dead?"
"Somewhere around January or February, if I remember right. It was cold as hell weather wise, so it's got to be then."
January? February? The man was only dead for half a year. Now Draco felt worse. Furthermore he had completely lost his appetite for eating.
"One month back in England and I'm already mucking things up," Draco brooded. "The last thing I need is to get on her bad side. Anyone's really."
Theo frowned. "…I never did ask. How are things for you now that you've returned?"
"Not bad, surprisingly," Draco mused. "But then again I don't go out much unless it's to eat so…take that as you will."
Author's note: Hello! Welcome to another brainchild of mine lol. If you're in a Dramione Facebook group or follow my Tumblr or my author page, you've probably seen random snippets of this over the past couple of months. I've been writing it for almost a full year and didn't want to post until I had a substantial amount written. SO! I've got 16 chapters down and this story probably won't be any longer than 20 chapters total. Saturdays will be the day that I update (I'm on the US, east coast, just so you know for time difference sake lol).
As for this chapter, the bit with Rose and Hugo's letters I have to give kudos to the movie Forrest Gump. In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it totally, but as vaguely as possible I'll say that it was a beautiful touch. Also, I wanted to address something/add a tiny disclaimer. One of the first snippets I had shared last summer was Draco and Theo's scene about the acknowledgement of Ron's death. It was brought to my attention that it seemed a bit similar to a scene in MrBenzedrine's How to Train Your Auror. Please know that I didn't have that story in mind when writing and any similarities within this chapter are purely accidental. If I'm inspired by someones's work I'll mention it first thing like I did for Happily Divorced (Giminia Wow's Cassie Zabini fyi!).
Now that's out of the way, I hope that you liked the beginning and that you enjoy the rest! :)