As Draco and Rose grew closer, Hermione knew that she had to ask him soon. She needed to trust him for her family’s sake as much as her own. Although they hadn’t actually discussed moving in together yet, in reality he practically lived at her place.
Draco was a great help with Rose… He taught her chess, answered her questions…. He also tried to get her into Quidditch…
Draco’s parents, however, didn’t like their son’s complete disappearance from his very own house…
“He needs to be here… with his mother!” Lucius complained to his wife. “What’s he doing there, in that stupid house….? With her… and, and that half-blood child of hers…”
“He feels welcome there…. Hermione… well, she isn’t quite at ease here… As for the daughter…” Narcissa replied hesitantly.
“She certainly isn’t welcome here…. Weasley spawn….” Lucius mumbled.
“That’s the problem, isn’t it…”
Narcissa missed her only son tremendously. He wanted to be with his lover and as she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, bring her daughter over….
“I’ve been meaning to visit them…”she continued. “Dromeda will be there as well… It’s been ages since I last spoke to her…”
“You will betray me as well?!” Lucius’s eyes narrowed. “Leave your noble family for some red-haired stupid child?”
“Don’t overreact…” she spat. “I want to see my son! If he hardly comes home, I’ll simply have to visit him…”
Lucius started a tirade, only to have his wife walk out on him again by simply leaving the room. How he hated the confines of his afterlife!
“And you don’t mind Draco’s mum coming ‘round too?” Hermione asked Narcissa’s sister. “You did have a bit of a falling out?”
“It’s fine…. Perhaps I was a bit harsh with her…” Andromeda looked at Rose and Teddy playing with an assortment of toy cars on the living room carpet.
“She hasn’t met Rose yet…” Hermione sighed. “I’m a bit worried….”
“She’s good with children, Cissy is… “ Dromeda soothed her. “It’s her first time meeting Teddy as well…”
“You didn’t bring him with you…?” Hermione asked.
“Not the best place for children, is it? Malfoy Manor…. Although we were raised in a similar fashion of course….”
“That’s why I’d like to protect Rose… But, on the other hand….” Hermione sighed. “Draco doesn’t talk about it, but I know he misses it…. Not just the house, also his parents….”
“Perhaps if she and Narcissa get along… things could change…” Andromeda was slightly hopeful. A grandchild might raise Cissy’s spirits, even if she was a Weasley girl…
Draco came in, carrying a large cake. “The best they had to offer…” he said, putting it unceremoniously on the table. “I’ll go and pick up mum now, yeah?”
He immediately left through the Floo, only to return two minutes later with Narcissa at his side.
“Welcome to Hermione’s humble….” He began, stopping abruptly when he intercepted her glare, swallowing the insulting, though admittedly alliterating, ‘hut’.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Narcissa said, nodding to her sister, “Dromeda…”
“I don’t believe you’ve met Teddy yet…” she replied, “nor Rose….” She addressed the children: “Teddy, Rose,” gesturing at Narcissa, “meet Draco’s mother who is also my sister….”
“Hello,” both kids mumbled before diverting their attention back to the toy cars. Narcissa fumbled with her bag, finding herself a seat, as Hermione cut the cake.
“Only a small piece, please,” she directed her.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you…” Dromeda said, “perhaps I shouldn’t have left like that…”
“It’s fine…” Narcissa responded eagerly. “It was a stupid thing to do…”
“What was?” Draco had never found out what his mother had been arguing about with her sister.
Narcissa sighed, gesturing him to be silent. “I’ll tell you some other time…”
“We had a bit of a falling out over the whole ‘what killed Voldemort’ debate….” Andromeda admitted, “though in all honesty, I don’t exactly know myself…”
“That makes most of us…” Draco said. His turn to glare at Hermione.
“I promised not to tell,” she simply repeated herself. “And so I won’t.”
“Honorable as always…” Draco grumbled.
“Which is why you love me…” Hermione said lightly, giving him his plate of cake. Nevertheless, she wondered if this would become another issue between them.
He smiled half-heartedly. “That’s true…”
A few hours later, everyone had left. Rose had gone to bed, Narcissa had left with Dromeda and Teddy.
“Dromeda was right… Your mum is good with children…”
After they’d talked and eaten their cake, Narcissa had joined Teddy and Rose in their game, driving cars around the room, grossly exceeding speed-limits, as well as Hermione’s expectations. Draco had caught her staring open-mouthed at his mother.
“Rose seemed to like her, didn’t she?” Draco was very relieved.
“Yes, very much so…. She said she reminded her a bit of you…. Or the other way around, I guess…”
“Another obstacle cleared…” Draco said, his eyes shining cheerfully…. “Just a few more to go…”
Hermione swallowed. Could this be the right time to mention…? It did occupy her mind far too much!
Draco didn’t notice as he was counting the remaining problems his on his fingers….
“My father, obviously, no explanation needed. Your stubborn refusal to take Rose to the manor… though today may have helped with that… Your refusal to tell me more about a certain someone’s demise…”
Hermione felt her temper rise. “You’re the one keeping secrets!” she blurted out. “Your father told me, and Harry too!”
Draco became paler than usual. “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” he stammered.
“Well, I don’t know, do I? Both Harry and your precious father have been dropping hints about you not being open with me…. Not telling me important stuff that I should know about… I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately….”
Hermione faltered. She was close to tears. She had been wondering about it. Their easy banter couldn’t put her mind at rest entirely, with these doubts hanging over her.
Draco didn’t reply. He wasn’t sure which secret they meant, though he had his suspicions. There were many things he hadn’t told her. He hadn’t confided all his sins to her… Draco was pretty sure if he would tell every bad thing he’d ever done to Hermione, she wouldn’t like him anymore…
“I’m not…” she continued. “I don’t need to know everything… that’s not what I mean. There seems to be something though…. Something specific? That both Harry and your dad know? It’s something…” she tried to explain further. “Something that for some reason makes your father hopeful that you will, in the future, find someone else instead. A pure-blood…..”
“How would? I don’t know why he’d say that….”
“You will tire of me, he said. Tire of trying to fix the Malfoy name and reputation, and continue in his footsteps instead….”
Draco moved a little closer, brushing away her tears. “Surely you don’t believe him?” he whispered.
“No, I don’t,” she replied, “but then he suggested that you keep secrets from me, and I wondered briefly if….” she sighed heavily, “if wanting to find out about Voldemort’s secret is one of the reasons you’re with me…”
“Of course not!” he said, repulsed. “It never crossed my mind to ask you, not until we talked about nightmares and stuff…. That’s when I thought…. Well, perhaps it could help me, that’s all…”
“So, there isn’t any secret?” Hermione asked, her eyes boring into his.
Draco winced, avoiding her gaze. “I wouldn’t say that….” he mumbled.
“Which means they are right! You don’t trust me enough….. and it gives your father hope… and perhaps Harry as well….”
Draco kept his eyes downcast. The topic seemed unavoidable now…