August 31st, 2012
Despite not being old enough to attend Hogwarts for another five and seven years respectively, Rose and Hugo loved going to Diagon Alley in the days before the train departed. There was so much hustle and bustle. It was good for the children to absorb the energy of it. For herself too, the more Hermione thought about it. This was the first pre-Hogwarts shopping she had done without Ron, and to her surprise she was feeling okay.
"Mum, can I please?"
"No," Hermione said for the umpteenth time. Hugo frowned and finally put the rat in its cage back on the shelf he had taken it from. Aside from the fact that rats made horrid pets, she could just never look at one the same ever since Third Year.
"Mummy, what about an owl?" Rose asked as she looked at one in a cage near the cashier's desk. "Can we get one?"
"We already have an owl."
"But that one's just for the post! It's different if we get one for a pet."
Hermione laughed at her daughter's logic while shaking her head. "We're not getting another owl. Now, you both may look at the animals in here, but we're not taking any of them home, okay?"
Both of them replied in gloomy unison, but then brightened up when the owner of the shop announced that he was going to take one of the owls out to broadcast its feathers. Hermione just knew she would succumb to buying a new pet from here someday soon, but not today. Between not having Ron anymore and Crookshanks himself passing through the veil some a couple of years ago, she missed the companionship.
Hermione turned to the small voice that, she wasn't quite sure, might have been directed at her. She had thought for a moment that it might be one of her nephews. Perhaps Teddy, since he also liked running through Diagon Alley during its busiest moments. Or maybe Fred if Angelina decided to pass by here before seeing George. Of all the innumerable possibilities, Hermione didn't once think that she would be looking at the miniature version of Malfoy.
The child in question could be no one else's but Malfoy's. The same blond hair. Those striking grey eyes. That smirk. Well, no… This child's smirk was more of a smile. A cute one at that.
"I know you!" The little one continued.
Hermione smiled at the boy. "You do?"
"Yeah! My dad has a picture of you."
Hermione's face crashed. Those words in a sentence together when she was the topic was unfathomable. Just...wrong in every way. Not to mention confusing. Before she could even attempt to make sense of what she had been told, the boy's father came into view. Malfoy looked, if she had to guess, uncomfortable to be around her. She very much felt the same.
"Mum! Mum!" Hugo ran up to her with Rose in tow. "Can we go to the joke shop and see Uncle George now?"
Scorpius' eyes widened at that, his jaw dropping shortly after that before turning to his father. "Dad! Can we go to the joke shop too? Please?"
Hermione immediately looked away from her children and to the blond pair. As Malfoy stared at his son it was obvious that he didn't want to go. However, what was also obvious was how much of a softy he was when it came to the child. The older Malfoy's face turned from reluctant, to defeated, to complacent, if not happy, at seeing how excited his son was.
Draco looked up to find Hermione staring. The children too, it seemed, as they had followed their mother's gaze. "If Ms. Weasley doesn't mind company," he said to Scorpius, "then yes, we can go."
Of course he would make it my decision, Hermione thought irately to herself. Naturally she was going to say yes, but before she could get the words out, her children had already extended the invitation.
"We'll lead the way!" Rose said with glee. She grabbed Scorpius by the hand and practically ran out of the shop.
"Wait for me!" Hugo shouted after her, running just the same. That left the two parents stuck on what to do. Follow the children was obvious, but how? Did they walk side by side? One in front of the other? If the latter, who went first?
"After you," Draco said as he gestured for her to exit the shop first.
Polite and gentlemanly… Where the hell was this Draco Malfoy two weeks ago?
Hermione headed outside first. Despite being eager, the children had waited for them. Once each respective parent was in view they took off running again for the joke shop that was just up ahead.
Hermione swallowed, fully aware of people eyeing them along the way. Draco was used to it, but he watched the witch from his periphery. A subtle scowl she shot someone's way had been both unexpected and impressive.
"How old are they?" Draco suddenly asked her. Hermione nearly tripped over herself.
Draco smirked. "Do you not know?"
"Six and four," Hermione huffed at him and crossed her arms. She then gestured with her head. "And your son?"
That was the end of the conversation as they headed into the crowded joke shop.
"Dad!" Scorpius came out of nowhere. "You have to see this!"
Malfoy was pulled along and Hermione couldn't help but smile. She walked in after them and was immediately bombarded by people and knickknacks. Hogwarts season or not, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes was always like this.
Hermione saw her children where Malfoy and his son were. She had determined to let them be until until Rose spotted her and beckoned her over.
"Look! It's the toy Uncle George made for us," Rose said happily. Hermione bent over and peered at the small round object that made all undesirable food disappear from your plate and into the trash. She was still giving George hell for introducing her kids to that. Ron had thought it hilarious.
"So, your uncle works here?" Scorpius asked.
Rose beamed at him. "He owns it."
"Really? So, you can come here all the time?"
"Yeah! And our Uncle George gives us toys to try before they get sold here."
Draco snorted and turned to Hermione. "You're okay with letting your children be guinea pigs?"
"George wouldn't do anything to hurt them," Hermione growled out. She turned away from him then so that she could survey the rest of the busy atmosphere. That's when she noticed the redhead they had just been talking about trying to get her attention.
"Oi, Hermione!" George whistled and gestured with his head for her to come over. Hermione didn't bother to tell Malfoy that she was leaving his side, nor did she think he would care. They didn't come here together although they did, technically speaking, come together.
"Hey," he then whispered and pulled her closer to his side. "Blink once if you're being held hostage."
Hermione laughed. "What?"
"I'm serious!" George hissed. "Malfoy returns to England after what, a decade or more? And he shows up here? With you?"
Hermione pursed her lips and looked through the sea of people. Rose and Hugo had gone off to look at something else. Malfoy had lifted Scorpius in his arms so that he could see something properly on a higher shelf. She smiled again.
"Funny how things turn out."
George nodded. "Funny, odd, scary... The whole lot. Honestly though, what's he doing with you? The idea is making my skin itch."
"He's not with me," Hermione corrected. "We bumped into each other at Owls, Cats, and Rats. His son heard Rose asking about coming here and he wanted to come too."
"Kids," he tutted. "Leading parents into traps for centuries."
Hermione smacked him on the arm and he laughed.
"Blond men too, apparently," George continued. "I'm amazed he found a woman to create a kid with. A good-looking one at that."
"There's someone for everyone, George," Hermione said. "Although, I do wonder about the one he managed to find."
"I'm not," he shivered. "It'll give me bloody nightmares."
Hermione shook her head at him and spotted Malfoy and Scorpius getting ready to leave. He caught her eye and gave her a nod. He also mouthed something else. Was it… Sorry?
He had already "apologized" for his remarks. What else was he sorry for?
"See you in October, Scorpius!" Rose called as the blond duo left. Hermione snapped her eyes to her.
"October? What's happening in October?"
"My chess tournament remember?" Rose explained. "I invited Scorpius to watch me play!"
Hermione felt her heart sink. So that's why Malfoy was sorry. Looked like George was right. Children definitely led parents into traps.
September 1st, 2012
"You're actually telling us that we have to sit with Malfoy during Rose's tournament?" Ginny asked, completely flabbergasted. Hermione nodded as she chewed, looking at Harry from her periphery who was in more a silent shock than his wife. The three of them had just come back from King's Cross Station to give Teddy and Victoire a ridiculously crowded goodbye as they went off for their Fourth and Third Year, respectively. Molly had offered (more accurately kidnapped) all of her grandchildren to spend the afternoon with her and Arthur. That left the parents child-free for the first time in Merlin knew how long.
"That's exactly what I'm saying."
"First food, now this?" Harry shook his head. "It's downright weird."
"The food, yes. The outing, not so much," Hermione shrugged. "The kids really hit it off."
"Can you imagine what it would be like if they kept at it?" Ginny said. "How often you'd have to interact with him?"
"It's a bit out of my imagination, to be frank," Hermione chuckled. "I mean, it's not like he's going to be calling me the 'M-word' while we're together."
Harry's face lit up with a huge grin. "If he does, it'll give me a reason to arrest him!"
Hermione laughed. "Keep your wand holstered, Auror Potter. I don't think you'll be arresting him anytime soon."
"A man can always dream."
"But back to the tournament," Ginny redirected the conversation. "How's Rose's training been going?"
Hermione sighed. "As well as can be expected, I suppose. Bill's been super helpful, but I think Rose misses playing wizard's chess with Ron."
"Of course she does," Harry commented. "You remember how many hours at night they'd play together."
"And then I'd quarrel with him for letting her stay up so late," Hermione remembered fondly. "Since she was four all Ron would say is that he'd let her play in a tournament one day. She finally gets accepted into one and now…"
"She'll still make him proud," Harry finished. "She'll make him proud no matter what."
September 7th, 2012
This was Draco's hell. Every first Friday of every month he was required to head to France and spend at minimum an half an hour at the French Ministry of Magic, Department of Marriages and Divorces. A one-year separation wasn't enough. He and Astoria had to see a marriage counselor every month to check on the status of their separation to determine if a reconciliation had happened or was on the verge of happening. Whether it was his wife, her family, or his, they had somehow ended up with a counselor who was older than Merlin himself, a pureblood, and therefore very pro pureblood marriages. That said, he was very determined to keep Draco and Astoria together.
And so, Draco arranged for a portkey (a hefty sum when it was on a monthly basis and for personal use), and went to Paris. He took his sweet time in making his way up to the ninth floor and down the extraordinarily long hallway, at the end of which held a receptionist and his prompt wife.
Madame Roche, a not-quite elderly woman and receptionist, was very sympathetic to Draco's predicament and reminded him very much of the type of grandmother he wished he had growing up. She spoke three languages aside from French, including English, but Astoria didn't know that last bit. It was a secret between the older woman and himself and it drove his wife batshit crazy that despite having lived in France for a decade, her proficiency in the language wasn't enough for her to adequately follow others.
"Elle est énervée aujourd'hui," Madame Roche told him. Draco looked over at Astoria and yes, with her jingling foot, tapping fingers, and lips pursed together, he would agree that she was quite irritated.
"Il n'y a pas d'une différence comparé aux autres jours."
Madame Roche chuckled. "Sois pas méchant."
Draco smirked and sat down next to his wife. She stared at him from her periphery and huffed.
He inclined his head to her. "Astoria,"
"Oh, is it my turn to get to talk to you?" She answered bitterly. "No more French chats with the door keeper?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "She was just asking me how I was. No need to be snippy."
Astoria narrowed her eyes. "Really? Is that what you were actually talking about?"
"Do you want the truth or should I lie?"
Draco laughed, turned his gaze to Madame Roche, and gestured to Astoria. "Ma petite belle rose. Et nos familles veulent que nous restions ensembles? Je n'ai pas un désir de mort."
Madame Roche hid her laugh behind her hand. Astoria had had enough and got up to knock on their counselor's door just as it opened of its own accord.
"Madame Malfoy, un plaisir-"
"He keeps speaking in French behind my back!"
Draco tutted where he sat and let his ankle cross over his knee. "Tattle-tale,"
Monsieur Durand gave an audible sigh before pleading before Draco. "What did we say about your actions the last time you were here?"
"Well, you said that they were childish. I said that they were my way to avoid throttling my wife. I'd prefer not to engage in the latter, wouldn't you?"
Another sigh left their counselor's lips before he gestured for them to follow him inside. Draco had succeeded in both annoying his wife and their counselor. And with the latter he hadn't even been trying on purpose! He grinned to himself, gave a hearty wave back to Madame Roche, and entered Satan's torture den.
September 10th, 2012
"Here's Rose's, just like the last time," Hermione said as she neatly set her daughter's note to her father aside. The one from her previous visit was old and withered already. Probably due to massive amounts of rain in the last two weeks. "And here's Hugo's. It says, 'Dad, I made a new friend. His name is Scorpius and he's really funny. Rose likes him too. We're going to watch her play chess in October.'"
Hermione set the letter down and sighed. "I know what you're thinking. 'Scorpius. Who in Merlin's name would name their kid Scorpius?'" She smiled at her imitation of her husband for a moment before adding, "The same person whose father named him 'Draco.'"
She paused for a moment. She imagined what it would be like having this conversation in person. She thought of large eyes, lips slightly parted, and this confused expression that screamed "How could this be?"
"They bonded over the toys in the joke shop, Malfoy's son and our kids. It just… It happened so fast. And I wouldn't change what happened either. Kids...shouldn't have to walk in their parents' shadows. From what I've seen of him, Scorpius is a lovely child. That should mean something about the people raising him, shouldn't it?
'Don't get me wrong. Malfoy's still a tremendous arse. Just…not in a mean way. On purpose, if that makes any sense. Regardless, I suppose that's a good thing. I don't think I could take the looks on our kids' faces if I told them they couldn't play with their new friend because I hate their father. I'm trying to stay on the positive side of things lately.
'You see, I… There are days when I'm good, you know? And others when I'm an utter mess. I want to remember you without feeling sad. Without feeling like the world is going to end. I'm afraid that I'll be a mess for years to come and I can't... I can't do that. I love you Ron, but I can't afford to lose myself when the children need me. So, I've decided that I'll try to do better. It may go well or, most likely, turn out absolutely horrific, but at least I'll try. Okay?"
Hermione let her hand settle on top of Ron's tombstone and a heavy weight settled in her chest. She sniffled and closed her eyes. 'Damn you for leaving me."
Author's note: First, a HUGE thanks to Virginie Cires for making sure I didn't butcher my French lol. You can take a language for nearly half your life, but that doesn't mean there won't be at least one mistake in there haha. As the conversion went, Madame Roche said Astoria looked annoyed. Draco said there was no difference than normal. He tells her after that he doesn't have a death wish although their families want them to stay together :)
Also for the next chapter I'll be travelling, so instead of making you wait, it'll be posted on Wednesday for you all :).
Replies to guests
Guest1: "I'm so excited to read..." Thank you! Going from "he's such a jerk!" to "I need him in my life" should be fun lol. It helps when you're a bit vulnerable. Both of them in this case with gradual insight into Draco's life.
Guest2: YES. Scorpius is wise in such an innocent way. There's another moment of him like that in a later chapter and it just melts your heart.
LittleTrooper99: Thank you! Sometimes it just takes some of the smallest voices to speak the loudest! Yey Scorpius! :)
Guest3: "love love love this." THANKS! I hope that you enjoyed today's update too!
Karlie: Scorpius is my dream child, honestly lol. And yes, Hermione is certainly going through it. I can't wait to show how her coping unfolds.
Guest: "enjoyed" Wahoo! I'm glad. Thank you :)