“I…. I….” he stammered. “Harry does know something that you don’t….” he said, latching onto her last words.
“Looks like he lied to me as well then….” Hermione was in half a mind to pick up the telephone and scold him too!
“It’s about the case…. To do with the case…” Draco said.
Hermione suddenly remembered. There had been details that Harry didn’t want to divulge. Protecting the privacy of his witnesses.
She didn’t understand. “How can something regarding the case…?” she asked, puzzled, “have anything to do with you and me? Unless….. Unless, it’s about Ron?” Hermione inquired tentatively.
Draco snorted involuntary. No, it wasn’t about bloody Ron!
“It’s…. it’s about me…. About what happened when I met her during the war…”
He nodded. “Yes, about what she did…”
“She cast an ancient spell that….” Hermione vaguely recalled, “that somehow hurt you, made you sick… but you’ve never been really clear on the details…”
“I had a very good reason for that…” he whispered, “I didn’t really want to tell you…”
Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “You better tell me now..” she threatened, “or I can think of a spell or two to loosen your tongue…”
Draco’s brow furrowed. “The Cruciatus curse?” he said, his eyebrows rising. The gloves were off it seemed….
Hermione shifted uncomfortable on her feet. “Of course not,” she replied, “I wish I had some Veritaserum though….”
“There’s no need,” he said. “I’ll tell you….”
Draco sat on the couch, burying his face in his hands as he recounted the story. “And so I’ll never have any children,” he ended his tale, “not unless she performs a counter-curse…. and what are the odds of that? She’d probably kill herself before undoing the damage…”
“I’m so sorry, Draco,” Hermione said, as she sat next to him. “I don’t know what to say…”
He clutched her hands. At least, she didn’t despise him, he thought, that was something…
“Are you sure…?” he began carefully, formulating the question he dreaded the answer to.
“Could you?” he swallowed hard. “Won’t you mind being with someone who can’t…? Who never might?”
“You seem to forget, Draco,” she whispered in his ear, “that I already have a child. I am a mum already…”
“You don’t want me to go? Be with someone…. better?”
“You’re more than good enough for me…” Hermione said. Both she and Draco didn’t have any brothers or sisters…. Perhaps not always ideal, but certainly not a problem as far as she was concerned.
“My whole life,” he said hoarsely, “it has always been about the family name, the line…. Continuing the path of my forefathers…”
“Your parents do know then?” she wondered.
“They’re heartbroken, especially father…. It was the one thing I was supposed to do… That’s why… He thinks I just like you because you’re a mum and you do have a child and that once we’ll find a solution to the curse, I could still get together with…. someone else…” he blurted out.
“Some pure-blood,” Hermione gathered. “I see. So, you told all this to Harry when…”
“When I met him at the Auror office, when I’d realized the damage couldn’t be undone unless she was found…”
Hermione looked at him. “That must have been hard…” she whispered, “confiding in Harry about something like this…”
Draco nodded sadly. “It was horrible,” he agreed, “I wanted to be anywhere else in the world the entire time… To his credit, he didn’t gloat…”
“Harry has grown up too, you know…” she said, slightly affronted. “We’re none of us who we were at Hogwarts, which, come to think of it, is probably for the best…”
Draco grinned. “Can’t argue with that…”
“Imagine if we’d gotten together at school…” Hermione giggled. “That would have surprised a fair few…”
“Like that isn’t the case at the moment?” he asked mockingly in return. “Everyone being sooo pleased about us being together….” He snorted with laughter.
She slapped his arm, “shush, you’ll wake Rose….”
Hermione woke up oddly cheerful the next day. Draco’s news had been a shock, but it was no more a secret at least.
She longed to figure out a way to help him, find out all she could about it… Perhaps there was another solution that hadn’t been found yet…. Hermione’s faith in books wasn’t easily destroyed.
Draco had murmured that he’d done so much research already, but she was eager to try. It was something tangible she could do in aiding the investigation once more.
With the secret of his chest, Draco felt far better as well. She hadn’t ridiculed him, or, which would have been ever worse, pitied him. Hermione had simply accepted the situation and him. It couldn’t have gone any better….
He whistled going into work that morning. Perhaps everything would turn out for the best!
Hermione intended to confront Harry that same day. After work, she slipped into the Auror office, meeting Elphaba on her way to Harry’s desk.
“Have you seen Harry by any chance?” she wondered.
“He left early…. Keeps on having these headaches… I suppose he should have it checked out, but he’s far too stubborn…”
“Ever since…?” Hermione wanted to know.
“Yes, since that day. He did pass out…. Perhaps there was more damage than they first assumed.“
“I suppose I could ask you as well….” Hermione said thoughtfully. “Though I need to see Harry too… You see, Draco just told me about this spell that had hit him…. The one you’ve all kept me in the dark about…”
Elphaba blinked nervously at Hermione’s accusatory gaze.
“He didn’t want anyone to know…” she said consolatory. “It wasn’t our secret to tell…”
“I want to look into it…. I couldn’t take a peek at the file, could I?” Hermione begged. She would use Ron’s death to guilt Elphaba into it if necessary... but fortunately she didn’t need to.
“It’s a good thing Harry isn’t here…” Elphaba remarked. “He’d have my head for this…”
“I won’t tell him,” Hermione promised.