“So this weekend?” Draco was happily surprised that Hermione had agreed to his meeting Rose. It seemed as if their relationship was really taking of now… provided everything went well…
“Do I…? Should I buy her something?” he wondered aloud, staring at one of Rose’s pictures on the wall of her bedroom. Hermione was arranging Rose’s toys in a neat row on a shelf.
“You don’t have to… Maybe something small if you must…” Hermione wasn’t too keen on the Malfoy way of buying someone’s love or allegiance. “It’s about quality time, not gifts, after all…”
“You’re right.” Draco swallowed hard. Could he win her daughter over? He didn’t know much about kids…
“Just be yourself and it will be fine…” she said soothingly, turning around. “She is pretty smart for her age, so as long as you don’t talk down to her, you should be all right.”
“I always hated that myself….” Draco remembered, “ fortunately, that’s one thing my parents never did…”
“Neither did mine… Looks like we have something new in common..” Hermione smiled, and Draco pulled her into a firm embrace.
Perhaps their similarities did outweigh their differences…
Hermione had opted for a day at the beach. It was too cold to swim but they could walk and talk and there was a playground nearby. All the ingredients for a good time….
Draco met them at the pier and Rose recognized him from afar. “Mum,” she said, tugging Hermione’s sleeve, “that’s that man that watched me outside school… do you remember?”
Hermione smiled. “Yes, I do. The sad and happy man, right?”
Rose looked up at her. “Do you know him long? How do I address him?”
Hermione wasn’t sure… “Why don’t you ask him that yourself?” she said, wondering just as curiously what his reply would be.
“Draco is fine with me,” he said. Hermione was surprised. Mr. Malfoy was perhaps a bit formal, but Draco had always appeared to be somewhat on the formal side of things, much like herself.
“Are you sure?” she said. “Isn’t it too familiar?”
“Not at all,” he smiled at Rose, before he addressed Hermione’s question. “I don’t care much for uncle or something like that…” Draco explained, “and Mr. is really far too much. I’m not one of her teachers…”
“Very well. Whatever suits you best.” Hermione smiled. Thinking it over, she found that she was glad with it. Perhaps he would be less stiff than his father in this kind of thing…. That would be a pleasant surprise.
“So you and mum were at school together?” she heard her daughter say. Hermione sighed. Maybe she had been too hopeful too soon…
“Yes, we were, but in different houses so we didn’t interact all that much…” Draco replied. “In fact, there was a bit of rivalry going on there…”
“Then you must also know my uncle Harry and aunt Ginny…. And my dad….” Rose understood.
Draco scraped his throat. “Er… yes, that’s right. We were all more or less in the same year…” His desperate eyes met Hermione’s, but she wasn’t going to rescue him.
“Mum said you were in different sides of the war…” Rose continued with another controversial subject, not noticing the trouble she was causing.
“I’m sad to say that we were,” Draco replied calmly. “I was sad and scared, and I did have some doubts about being on the side I was. Yet I was also desperate to follow in my father’s footsteps….”
“So he could be proud of you…” Rose mumbled. “I hope my dad is proud of me…”
“Sure he is…” Hermione began, as Draco said, “why ever shouldn’t he?”
Rose’s face darkened and her lip began to tremble. She bit back a reply, but started to cry when Hermione insisted on an answer.
“I broke his King….” she whispered.
“King?” Hermione wondered, but Draco understood.
“Chess set?” he asked.
“It’s real crystal…” she continued, “I just wanted to play with it and then it slipped out of my hand…. Do you think he is angry?”
“It’s all right, my dear.” Hermione hugged her little girl. “We will find a way to fix it… I’m sure he’s not angry…. But you should play with the wooden set, like I told you.” She looked a bit stern.
“I promise,” Rose said, a small smile appearing again.
Rose explained to Draco how she couldn’t play chess yet, and her mum was rubbish at it, but that she did play soldiers with them.
Hermione made disapproving sounds but Draco laughed heartily. “Sometimes I let them dance together too…” she confided in him. “Like at a ball….”
They had a lovely day together. Draco and Rose had enjoyed it thoroughly, for Hermione it had been bitter-sweet. She was very thrilled they got along so well, but it had hurt her too. Ron would never get to spend time with his daughter anymore…
In the evening, she had voiced some of that to Draco.
“Moments like that make me wish I was more…. Evil…” she said softly.
“Surely you don’t really mean that… Would you kill, given the chance?” he asked.
“I don’t know… maybe…” she whispered. “If I’d found them…. If I had been there, the moment it happened…. Maybe…”
“It’s not easy… Far harder than you may think….” He said gloomily. Draco didn’t like to be reminded of the hardest time of his life.
“Have you…” she wondered. “During the war, I mean….?”
“Merlin’s beard, of course not!” Draco looked genuinely shocked. “I couldn’t even give you and your friends up to the Dark Lord, could I? No, I …. I faltered every time…. Felt hopelessly incompetent at the time, of course, but now I’m glad I never did…”
“Perhaps your heart wasn’t truly in it…” she said.
“It wasn’t… Not really. Like I told Rose, I just wanted my parents to be proud of me… so I tried to follow in their footsteps….”
“But they have… “ Hermione said hesitantly. “How do you… live with that….? How do they?”
Draco coughed to get more time to consider his answer. He finally answered, sounding defeated.
“I don’t know how they feel about it themselves… It was a war… I can understand killing in a war, I suppose…. But they did join him voluntarily….”
“Can you see how it might be hard for me to… trust your parents? Especially trusting them with Rose…? Your father was always keen to put people in their place and to subject my child, a Weasley, to such treatment…”
“It worries me too,” Draco agreed. “They are not even that keen on me at the moment….”