The healer had never shown up… Hermione had been waiting in the lunchroom he had mentioned for ages, but nobody had approached her. She had been very disappointed, and on top of that Draco Malfoy had made an appearance… Malfoy of all people! She wished the ground had swallowed her right there and then.
He had sneered at her, asking if she hadn't read enough books by now, as he peered at the title.
"Jane Austen? Who's she? Can't be any good if you're reading it…" he had said.
"There's a couple of snobs in there that remind me of you…" she'd retorted, not knowing he'd hidden his own copy in the briefcase he was carrying with him.
Seeing her sitting there with a copy of Pride and Prejudice as he peered through the window just moments ago, and realizing with a jolt that he'd been corresponding with Hermione all this time, had been one of the biggest shocks of his life. Not as worse as having Voldemort return, or live in their mansion killing teachers, but close enough…
It messed with his mind… This could not be happening… He could not have begun to like someone he'd hated for so long. He wasn't attracted to her! Look at her! Still having the same unruly curls, still being so very bookish and dull…. And… he couldn't think of enough negative words to describe his distaste. This could not be happening!
Quickly, he had put away his own copy of Pride and Prejudice. It had been the first Muggle book he'd ever started reading. It was old-fashioned and slow, too girly for his taste, although quite humorous at the same time. Thank Merlin, he had brought a briefcase to hide it in! He put on his most mocking face and entered the lunchroom….
Now that she had insulted him, he had to finish the book. Stupid Muggle book! He wanted to know which character she meant… Darcy, Bingley's sisters, or perhaps even Lady Catherine de Bourgh! It couldn't be Mr. Collins that was for sure….
Draco wished he didn't care so much. Who cared what Granger (actually Weasly, but he preferred to conveniently forget that little detail) thought anyway?!
Yet it seemed he did…. Their correspondence had been very nice. It had felt that the unknown woman understood him when he spoke of grief and disappointment. When he described the emptiness inside that he'd had felt ever since the war. Not really belonging anywhere anymore…
She could relate to that. Losing her husband had worn her out, even more so than the war itself. She had never felt so empty or alone, suddenly alone with a child… friends and family were simply not the same…
To think that it had been her all that time! Draco found it mindboggling. He had felt very close to this woman, but now…
He couldn't care about what she thought… he certainly never had.
Perhaps they both had changed… Perhaps he had never really known her at all, or the other way around.
Since Draco had realized the woman he had felt so connected to was Granger, he had responded to some of the other women who had sent him letters. However, it seemed most of them were no longer interested. Only one of them had been honest enough to tell him why: Lucius' star had fallen. The young women might still be interested in Draco and his money, but their parents most certainly were not and strongly advised them against it.
His father had become an outcast; disliked by both his former enemies and his former friends. His change of alliance at the last possible moment (again) had not helped his popularity one bit…
Draco had closed his eyes to this fact… Working all hours, he hadn't really noticed that his parents no longer received guests or hosted parties. The house was empty and cold…. A large manor such as theirs should be filled with people and voices, but the loudest voices of all came from the paintings these days: generations of Malfoys lamenting their fate….
When Draco first laid eyes on the child, there was no mistaking who its parents were…. The sight of her stopped him in his tracks. Draco was aimlessly strolling around, desperately needing some fresh air after receiving the most horrible news. The girl had Weasly-red hair but Hermione's untamed amount of it… curly and wild, it flung about the girl's face. She was hopping in some sort of pattern outside of her school… as he looked closer, he saw numbers written on the pavement… It appeared to be some kind of game.
Resentment welled up inside him as he remembered the conversation he'd just had with his healer, yet he couldn't make himself take it out on the child by sneering at her. Draco's worst fears had been confirmed. He now possessed a secret that his father must never, ever find out, preferably his mother neither. Draco would never have children of his own….
During the Second Wizarding War he had been hit with a spell. Nothing had happened at the time but he couldn't entirely forget it had happened. A woman had made a speech about pureblooded wizards needing to be wiped out, all of them, and then she'd hit him with this rare spell. He had laughed very loudly as nothing appeared to happen except for a warm breeze that hit him and so he had remarked on Mudbloods not even knowing their spells properly.
Yet she had not been upset but had smirked at him in return. "You wait and see," she had replied.
And now, in the throes of dating worries, he had wanted to confirm… and the worst had happened. The healer knew of nothing he could do to prevent it and biologically everything seemed to function properly except for a missing life force. Without life, new life could not be created. Draco had been thoroughly ashamed upon hearing and had fled his healer's office.
Finding himself here instead. He chuckled without joy: life dealt some strange blows. It was funny how fate worked…. Weasly had fathered a child but wasn't given the chance to see it grow and blossom… and he, for who an heir was the most important of all, would not be able to provide one…
Draco knew there was only one option. As his father grew sicker and sicker, he had to stall any romantic liaison, provided he would find someone interested in him to begin with, as long as he could. Not marry at all or marry on his father's deathbed so he would never find out that the Malfoy family name would be no more…
There was but one other possible solution and that was to find a counter curse. Draco remembered the curse precisely as it echoed in his mind… Extinctio. It did precisely what it said… rather than killing him on the spot; it had killed his line forever.
He turned abruptly away as he could no longer watch this display of innocence and happiness. Draco needed to find out all he could about the spell and the woman who had casted it. Perhaps the library had books on this sort of thing… Draco didn't feel like contacting the Aurors, although they might have more information as well…