“It’s simple, Granger.” Draco held Hermione’s gaze, “I could let you walk out of the Manor, I won’t report finding you, but you’ll be on your own without the minimum protection of a wand. Or you can have my child, that will provide you with all the protection you could possibly need, and I’m willing to give you that. Choice is yours.” he offered, his eyes burning into hers.
Adelaide was a beautiful city, Draco thought as he walked down the street. It was the second time for him to be sent on a mission in Australia but last time he hardly had time to catch his breath. This time was different, though. It was a false alarm, they received news from one of their Australian informers that Neville Longbottom was seen around.
He headed there with a covey of Death Eaters, some of Voldemort’s best men. He never knew why Voldemort expressed such interest in Longbottom out of all the other insurgents. Other men speculated that the reason behind such interest was the fact that Longbottom was considered one of the agitators. Draco remembered the speech the boy had made that day during the battle of Hogwarts. Yes, he’d probably make a good agitator, he thought.
Six years have passed since the battle of Hogwarts and irrevocable changes have happened to the Wizarding community. He didn’t dare hide his mark or look at it with disgust anymore. In a society where being a Death Eater was the highest rank one could possibly reach, he should have considered himself one of the lucky few.
A few months after the war, his father was sent on a mission to punish a herd of Centaurs who refused to ally with Voldemort during the war. A mission that appeared out to be nothing but a death trap for Lucius. He never came back and the only survivor among the large group of men who accompanied him said the Centaurs were too vicious that very little of them men’s bodies’ were left. It wasn’t the Centaurs Voldemort was trying to punish, it was the Malfoys. But considering the new status quo, Voldemort couldn’t afford killing off the patriarch of one of the most deep-rooted, pure-blood families in the wizarding world. It would have alarmed the rest of the pure bloods who reveled in the mix of security and superiority the new regime had given them. So he made Lucius walk to death with his own legs.
Draco’s mother was never the same after his father’s death. She seemed to lose interest in life gradually. When his death was reported eventually, she didn’t blink at the news. When people expressed their condolences to her she was as poised as ever, causing rumors to spread about her relationship with her late husband. Then it seemed like she stopped living. She ate, she drank, she attended social events when necessary and even held ones of her own when Voldemort ordered her to. She made polite conversations with people and was her normal hospitable self. But all that evaporated the minute people were gone. She talked very little to Draco, nothing he did seemed to bring her back to her normal state. He even tried provoking her, picking up fights for trivial reasons but she just looked at him with silent indifference in return, refusing to fight back. But Draco was becoming used to it, she might not be the same and maybe they shared very few words lately, but he was grateful for her mere presence.
What Draco saw in front of him snapped him out of his deep thoughts. A middle-aged couple were walking towards him but what caught his attention was the woman. She had wavy brown hair that went a few inches past her shoulder, a tan that didn’t seem to suit her features and a pair of dark brown eyes that looked way too familiar for Draco. They reminded him of a certain brunette that occupied his thoughts for too long.
Every time news came to their headquarters about one of the insurgents he was the most eager in investigating the matter. While he let other people interpreted this as hard work and eagerness to please Voldemort and repent for his family’s mistake, he knew this wasn’t the reason. With every raid, he was hoping that he could find her. Nobody knew where she was and most of them speculated that she was dead. His gut feeling told him otherwise though, and he kept on hopping from one country to the other hoping that in one of those houses they kept targeting, he would find her. Or that, as a worst case scenario, he could have her death confirmed.
He lost track of the number of people he had interrogated about her. He had interrogated Ginevra Weasley alone over five times about her and she gave him absolutely no useful information. Almost six months ago, somebody reported seeing her and he had never been more willing to go on a raid before. Then all his eagerness turned into fury when he realized it was some other girl that looked like her, he almost killed their informer but he refrained at the last minute.
Did they have to be born on opposite sides of the spectrum? Draco mused ruefully. Had he been born to a different family, a family that wasn’t so prejudiced against her, his whole life could’ve been turned upside down. What if his parents never passed on their ideologies to him? What if he had the nerve to throw these ideologies behind his back when he finally had the chance to make a choice for himself? He could’ve stayed at Hogwarts and fought and for once they would have been on the same side. Yes, he was most probably going to end up dead. But wasn’t dying better than living with the consequences of a series of wrong choices? No. Draco shook his head with a frown. He had made the right choice; family came first, that was the one code he would never be able to live against. It didn’t matter whether he made the right choice or the wrong one; he made the Malfoy choice.
Draco was so consumed by the thought of finding her that he didn’t even care what would happen next. Chances are she would try to kill him the minute she caught a glimpse of him. And even if he was able to persuade her to listen to him, did he really have anything to say to defend himself? If she was still alive and hiding then she would probably be one of the insurgents if not their leader. Draco realized he was trying to make parallel lines meet.
The insurgents were weak, they were scattered allover different countries with little to no means of communication. So they avoided confrontation at all costs. He was looking for a woman who was doing her best to stay away from people like him. But hadn’t she always stayed away from people like him? Draco sighed in frustration; with all the power that now lay at the tip of his finger, he still wasn’t able to find the one thing he was looking for. And even if he did find her, there was the dilemma of keeping her with him. By force, he could definitely secure her to his side for as long as he pleased, but that would be an ill-gotten gain. He wanted a real chance with her, one where he would get to reveal his true colors. Where she would listen to him, understand and eventually accept him and...dared he say, love him?. Of course there was zero to none chance that she would let him do that, but it was worth trying; Hermione Granger was worth trying for.
Unable to stop himself, he went after the couple who have passed by him. They were holding hands and chatting animatedly as if they were teenagers.
“Excuse me.” he called after them and the couple turned around.
“Hello, I’m Draco, Draco Malfoy.” he extended his hand and the couple shook it respectively, looking at him with a puzzled smile.
“I’m afraid this will sound odd but you look a lot like a friend of mine and I couldn’t help but wonder if you’re related to her.” he explained in the most friendly
manner he could muster, directing his words to the woman . “Does the family name ‘Granger’ ring a bell?” he asked.
“Well, aside from the fact that we live in Grange road, I’m afraid not.” said the man, laughing at what he seemed to think of as a joke, and the woman apparently shared his opinion as she chuckled at him. Draco did his best not to grimace at the couple.
“I’m Monica Wilkins and this is Wendell Wilkins, my husband.” the woman introduced “I’m sorry we’re not familiar with that name, but I hope you find your friend soon.” she smiled at him pleasantly.
“It’s alright, I’m sorry for the disturbance.” Draco nodded curtly at them, plastering a smile to his face before he swiftly obliviated the two of them.
Draco turned on his heel and walked away from the Wilkins, the flame of hope that was starting to rise in him, instantly extinguished.