“Malfoy, I’m supposed to be the one who fell and hit her head, not you.” Hermione scoffed.
"I’m fully aware of what I’m saying.” Draco insisted.
“Then you’ve gone completely mental! Having a child with you being my only other option makes death sound extremely tempting.” Hermione scowled at him.
Draco grimaced at her response. So, she wasn’t his biggest fan, he knew that. But choosing death over staying with him was a slap to both his ego and his heart, one that he will take time to recover from.
“Do you really find my company worse than death?” He frowned at her.
“No, your company -although not really desirable- is something I can put up with. It’s having your child that’s absolutely absurd. Do you even realize what having a child with somebody means? It’s...it’s creating life! You’re not supposed to degrade such a thing by using it as a weapon! Children are supposed to grow up safe and loved. Do you really think that WE could spend a moment without being at each other’s throats? ” Hermione was frantic, she talked so fast that Draco had to use every ounce of his concentration to understand her words.
“Do you realize how messed up a child could be if raised between such parents?” Hermione sounded like she was thinking out loud.
Draco watched Hermione closely, waiting for her to go through the panic attack he had already expected. Her eyes were gleaming furiously.
“Honestly, I was really worried about that child to come, but hearing you talk about raising a child like that has eradicated my worries. You’re obviously passionate about being a mother.” Draco admitted.
“Yes Malfoy, I’d actually like to be one. But not to your child. Not with a man who can’t be a father.”
“What makes you think you know whether I could be a father or not?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s the fact that you’re a Death Eater? Maybe it’s because you’re one of the servants of the darkest wizard of all time? Maybe because you’re turning into your father?” Hermione fumed at him.
Draco was furious as Hermione’s last remark hit home. He strode over to Hermione and yanked her arm. “I am not anybody’s servant. I am nothing like my father. And I will not listen to anymore insults from you. Watch your language, Granger; you don’t exactly have the upper hand in this.” he hissed at her.
“See? Can you see this very moment? Now imagine a child standing by the door and witnessing that, and tell me that you are willing to do that to your own child. Because I think that even you can’t be that cruel.” Hermione challenged.
“It doesn’t have to be like this.” Draco sighed exasperatedly, letting go of Hermione’s arm.
“Yes!” Hermione nodded eagerly “It doesn’t have to be like this; it doesn’t have to be at all. Forget about me, do you really want to do this to yourself? When you start a family, don’t you want it to be with someone that you love? Someone you chose?” Hermione reasoned with him hopefully.
But that’s exactly what I’m doing, Draco thought. “I don’t happen to have a partner lately, and I haven’t had a serious relationship in a while. Love in not on my agenda, either. So it’s safe to say that I have other basis on which I choose how to start a family.” he replied as diplomatically as possible.
“What are those basis? What’s in it for you, Malfoy? Because I find it hard to believe that you’ve suddenly become concerned for my well-being. So tell me what do you gain out of this?” Hermione narrowed her eyes on him quizzically.
“You make the greatest gain out of this, Granger. Your life. But of course it has something for me too. For starters, I’ll be the man who caught Hermione Granger, one of the most wanted witches, this will definitely be a great boost to my position among the ranks of Death Eaters. Everything held against the Malfoy name will be disregarded. And I will do it without feeling the guilt of bringing you to your death.” Draco explained. “And then of course, there’s the fact that I get to be a father without going through the emotional hassle of marriage. Our marriage will be different, we will both expect very little from each other and that means less disappointment.”
“Our..marriage?” Hermione repeated slowly.
“Of course, no child of mine will be born out of wedlock.” Draco stated matter-of-factly “But we don’t have to worry about that yet; marriage will come later.” he added. “So, now that we both know what we gain and what we lose, what’s your choice?” he asked, holding Hermione’s gaze.
“No, my answer is definitely no. You said you’ll let me go without reporting that you have found me, so do it. I’ll put on my clothes and leave in a couple of minutes.” Hermione answered confidently, running back to the bathroom before Draco could say anything.
Hermione tarried in the bathroom; she wasn’t half as confident as she pretended to be. Malfoy’s offer was so absurd that it didn’t even deserve a second thought. He wanted a career boost and an improved social rank. He also wanted a family the easy way, which went further to prove that he didn’t even understand what a family meant. The idea of Malfoy wanting to be a father was intriguing, though. Would he be a good one? Or would he just raise another Death Eater? She didn’t know and she shouldn’t care. She was nearly defenseless and now there was no way he could find her a wand like he had said.
But so what? Hadn’t she survived worse circumstances? A lot worse, Hermione smiled bitterly. However, she was back in England now, closer to danger than ever. Death Eaters were roaming the streets and nobody would hesitate in handing her over to them, out of loyalty to Voldemort or in fear of him. Thanks to Malfoy she was now trapped in this place with no chance of escaping. Apparating had become hard for her ever since she became wandless, and thanks to those bloody regulations about cross-border apparitition she won’t be able to leave.
What were her chances of survival? Hermione brooded. Was Voldemort going to kill her the minute she got caught? No, he would probably torture her into insanity first. A shiver ran through her spine.
She had never been afraid of death...maybe a little. But what other options did she have? Live with a Death Eater and raise another one? No, definitely not, if Hermione was going to die, she would die fighting.
“Aren’t there rules that prevent you from apparating across countries?” Hermione asked as she walked out of the bathroom.
“To prevent you, not me. I’m a Death Eater.” Draco corrected.
“You don’t need to remind me of that.” Hermione shot him a look of contempt before walking out of the door and down the stairs.
“Wait! Hermione wait!” Draco called after her, she turned around and he was flying down the stairs. What did he just call her?
“Stay tonight, you can leave tomorrow.” He offered .
Hermione looked at the near window, it was almost dawn and she had never felt like she needed to sleep like she did now. And more than anything, she needed energy for the days that came ahead.
“Alright” she nodded slightly. He led her back to the bedroom.
“You can sleep here. I’ll sleep in another room.” he said and Hermione watched him as he walked to the far end of the corridor and enter on of the rooms.
The bed seemed so inviting, but then Hermione remembered that it was Malfoy’s bed. Why was he trying to be nice? What was he playing at? It could be that he was actually feeling guilty after everything that happened to her since they lost the war. After all, Malfoy had a tiny spot of good in him, that was something she believed in ever since he had refused to kill Dumbledore. It might have been just pure cowardice, though. During the battle of Hogwarts, she almost thought he was going to fight by their side, but he ended up running away like the coward that he was. It didn’t matter; he probably killed lots of other people to make up for those mistakes and that tiny spot was probably eradicated.
Now after all this, could she really trust him when he was being helpful? No! He would probably break through that door with a gang of fellow Death Eaters at any minute and she had to act fast. Hermione opened the door and tiptoed down the stairs. She was inches away from the manor’s door when a house elf popped up in front of her.
“Mistress cannot leave the house.” the elf shook her head strongly, she was fiddling with her hands nervously. Her huge eyes looking left and right then back at Hermione.
“Step away from the door, please.” Hermione frowned at the little creature in front of her.
"No. No. No." the elf insisted, punctuating every word with a stomp of her leg. “Idgy can not let Mistress out of the house.” she added sternly.
Idgy sure seemed edgy, Hermione mused. She looked nice, though; her eyes were kind despite all the sternness she was trying to put into them.
“Look edg...Idgy, I have to leave and please keep your voice down!” Hermione started getting edgy herself. Malfoy must have ordered Idgy to stop Hermione from leaving which only increased her suspicions about his intentions.
“Mistress will have to kill Idgy to go through the door.” Idgy crossed her arms over her chest and looked up at Hermione in challenge. Hermione gaped at the elf, she was horrified at the idea of what would happen if it was somebody else trying to leave the house, somebody more...lethal. An elf could actually walk into their own deaths with persistent steps just to follow their master’s orders, this was brutal!
Hermione heard footsteps behind her and she turned around to see Malfoy inches away from her. He got taller, she noted as he towered over her.
“You said you were staying.” he quirked an eyebrow at her.
“I couldn’t trust you, I expect a gang of Death Eaters to be here at any minute to take me away. And this_” she pointed at Idgy “_just confirmed my doubts.”
“I thought you would try to leave, and I didn’t want to go as far as charming the door and the windows so I decided a house elf was the perfect solution. I know you wouldn’t dare lay a finger on a house elf and eventually you would give up trying.” he explained. “She could be very persistent.” he nodded at Idgy’s direction then smirked at Hermione.
“Malfoy, you utter git!” Hermione swung her fist at Malfoy’s face but he ducked and avoided her punch by a few inches.
“Granger, listen_” Draco grabbed Hermione’s shoulders and pulled her closer “_I am not trying to set you up, this is not some sort of trap and nobody is coming here. I just want you to stay tonight because there’s something I want to talk to you about tomorrow and I couldn’t be sure if you’d still be there when I wake up. That’s why I told the house elf to make sure you never left the house, because I want to talk to you, not kill you!” he shook his head in frustration.
“What’s that something?” Hermione inquired.
“Not now, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.” Draco insisted.
“Fine, I’m leaving then.” Hermione lifted her chin up in defiance.
“Good luck with that.” he twisted his mouth sardonically at her.
“Idgy, Ms. Granger can only leave this house over your dead body. Stay by the door for the rest of the day.” he dictated and the elf just nodded meekly.
“What? That’s horrible! You can’t just keep her standing by the door all day long!” Hermione fumed at him.
“I can, but it all depends on you. If you go back to your room and stay there until I come for you tomorrow, then Idgy’s work here is done and I can send her back to the kitchen. But if you insist on leaving then I guess she’s going to have a tough day ahead.” Draco said.
“You manipulative slimeball!” Hermione hissed at him. He stood there impassively, looking at her. Hermione’s eyes kept travelling between Malfoy who gazed at her blankly and Idgy who seemed unaffected by her master’s recent orders, as if she was used to such rubbish from him.
“Fine, I’m staying.” Hermione huffed “But you’d better be quick, Malfoy because if by noon you didn’t say what is it that you want from me I’ll leave without a backward glance.” she warned. Draco nodded his head in acknowledgment and ordered Idgy to go back to the kitchen, to Hermione’s great relief.
Hermione slept like her life depended on it, and somehow it did. She woke up unaware of the time, only aware that every muscle in her body was eternally grateful for the choice she had made the previous night. Her stomach grumbled as she headed to the bathroom. When she came out of it after a while, something delicious teased her nostrils and Hermione thought hunger was making her imagine things. She wasn’t though, a tray of breakfast sat next to her bed and Hermione had her first decent meal in a long while. As she ate breakfast her thoughts drifted back to breakfast at the burrow, she smiled ruefully as one happy memory after the other made their way through her mind.
There was a barely audible knock at the door and Hermione thought it was one of the house elves. She opened the door to find Malfoy instead.
“Good morning” he smiled at her as he entered the room without waiting for permission. Of course it was his room but some little manners wouldn’t hurt, Hermione frowned.
“How did you like the room?” he asked.
“It was..I don’t know it didn’t seem really yours.” Hermione admitted.
“Not enough green?” he raised an eyebrow at her.
“Yes, that.” she replied.
“There’s a common misconception that Slytherins cover their world in every shade of green that ever existed. That’s not true, I happen to like other colors as well.” he said.
“Maybe, I just didn’t imagine your room to look like this.” Hermione replied nonchalantly.
“And you were imagining my room because?” Draco grinned mischievously at her.
“Malfoy, if you didn’t come here to tell me about whatever you were talking about last night then shut your conceited mouth up.” Hermione glared at him.
“Well, it’s not exactly me, but there’s somebody that wants to see you.” Draco announced “And no, it’s not the Dark Lord.” he added at the look of horror that flashed over her face.
“Who is it?” she eyed him suspiciously.
“Just come!” Draco grabbed her hand impatiently and urged her outside the room. She stood at the top of the stairs as she recognized who her guest was.
"Ginny!" Hermione squealed as she flew down the stairs.
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