Draco Malfoy may not have liked Dolores Umbridge, but he certainly liked being the leader of her Inquisitorial Squad. How could he not? He got to deduct House points from people he didn't like, wear a special badge (like, a real badge), and rub his power in Saint Potter's face. Draco knew perfectly well he was better than Boy Wonder, but now everyone else would have to acknowledge it, too.
Therefore, he wasn't complaining when he got put on Umbridge's Tuesday-Thursday night patrol. Sure, he wasn't over the moon about losing his beauty sleep, but he figured it was worth it to get a few underclassmen (the majority of whom would hopefully be Gryffindors) in trouble for being out late. Not to mention he and Pansy had gotten separate night duty schedules which meant she had less opportunities to ask him to have "sleepovers". He grimaced at the thought; he really did need to dump that bint…
Draco was making a turn around the east wing of the castle when he heard a sudden crash coming from the potions classroom. He immediately went on high alert and drew his wand, grinning. Probably a couple of fourth years feeling each other up in the dark. He stalked toward the classroom, paused for only a moment to listen—it was silent—then threw the door open.
"Freeze!" he shouted. "You've been caught!"
Except he didn't see a couple of half-dressed underclassmen. He didn't see anyone. After illuminating his wand with a quiet lumos, all he saw was a fallen cabinet with broken vials of each year's potions in progress leaking all over the floor. Oh, this was great—or it would be if he knew who was responsible.
"You better show yourself right now!" Draco demanded, pointing his wand around dangerously.
There was a pause of nothing but silence, along with some liquid sloshing as the ruined potions mixed together on the dungeon floor, and then—
"Daddy?" asked a soft, feminine voice.
Draco's eyebrows drew together in bewilderment. Before he could even try to formulate a response, the voice whispered a finite and…
All the breath left Draco's lungs.
Standing before him was a girl who couldn't be any older than he. She had an angelic, pale face with little freckles surrounding her nose, shining gray eyes, and long, wavy, pale blonde hair. She was tall and thin and beautiful. Around her neck was none other than a time-turner.
Draco probably would have remained in a daze had the girl not broken out into the purest grin he'd ever seen and ran toward him, paying no mind to the puddles of potions she splashed through in the process.
"Daddy!" she squealed, hugging him tight. He could feel wetness trickling onto his neck, so he could only assume she was crying.
Draco was frozen in place; his wand was still drawn and everything. The girl hugging him felt so soft and innocent. She smelled of vanilla and raspberries, and… was his daughter? It would make sense; this girl was easily the most beautiful female he'd ever seen in his life, but he wasn't attracted to her. Instead, she made this… this feeling form inside of him, a feeling he had never experienced in his life. Sentiment, like she was his pride and joy.
Slowly, he brought his arms around her in return. It wasn't until they were making contact with her warm back that he realized his limbs were shaking.
The girl—his daughter—pulled away and wiped her eyes. Despite her tears, she was still smiling like the happiest child in the world. With a sudden tug at his heart, Draco realized he hoped more than anything that she was.
"What's your name?" he asked in as clear a voice as he could muster.
"Cassiopeia," she told him, practically bouncing up and down with elation. "But everyone calls me Cassie."
He looked her over, astounded by her beauty. "Cassie…" he repeated softly.
Cassie suddenly squealed, and Draco realized she had been looking him over, as well. "Oh my gosh, you're so handsome!"
Somewhere in the far, far recesses of Draco's mind, he noted that was a muggle expression, oh my gosh. His consciousness had no time for wondering about that, though; it was far more preoccupied with something else Cassie had just said. Fighting to keep the panic out of his voice, he asked, "Is that surprising?"
She laughed and Draco was sure he heard the angels sing. "No, don't worry; you're just as good-looking and egotistical in the future as you are now." She gave him the same smirk he saw every day in the mirror, and he was overcome with the urge to hug her again. He refrained, however, as he was still trying to get his bearings.
Once he got them (or as much of them as he could salvage), Draco said, "Here, sit." He motioned to the nearest table and pulled out a stool for himself. Across from him, Cassie did the same.
Draco had been highly esteemed his entire life. At first it was by Crabbe and Goyle on playdates when his mother was having tea with their mothers. Then he was the leader of his group of Slytherin friends, reigning over the halls of Hogwarts and finding new ways to torment Potter. From second year onward, he was respected for his position on the Slytherin Quidditch team. As of third year, Pansy had been fawning all over him every chance she got. And most recently, he was revered for his positions of authority as both a Prefect and the leader of the I.S.
But never in his life had Draco been looked at with such pure admiration until he saw the way Cassie looked at him. Her gray eyes danced with happiness as they gazed upon him, as though he was her king; nothing in her features said she was afraid of him. For reasons Draco couldn't explain, the way this girl looked at him assured him they had a lot of good times together, that he had never once made her feel like she wasn't good enough.
Suddenly, a pang of relief and what could have only been love penetrated his heart. He didn't grow up to be his father.
While it certainly appeared Cassie would have been content to do nothing more than stare at him for the rest of her visit, Draco had so many questions, and he was unsure of how long this time-turner would allow his daughter to stay. He cleared his throat and did his best to get the ball rolling, his gift for charismatic speaking temporarily on holiday. "So… Cassie… What are you doing here?"
"Well," she began in a formal voice that reminded him of a professor, "Mum found her old time-turner from third year and said I wasn't allowed to use it." That devilish smirk lit up her lovely pale features again. "So I stole it while she was in the shower."
"Mum…" Dear Merlin, he hadn't even thought—he had a wife! "Who's your mum, Cassie?"
The blonde girl opened and closed her small mouth then shook her head.
"Y-You have to tell me!" Draco sputtered.
Cassie giggled. "Uh-uhhh," she sing-songed. "That would ruin the surprise."
The word "surprise" told him he did not marry Pansy. He internally exhaled with relief. "Well, do we… I mean…" Dammit, fatherhood was doing all sorts of things to his arrogant exterior! He suddenly found himself blushing—blushing!—over a simple question he found difficult to ask, but also desperately wanted to know the answer to. "Do your mother and I…"
"You love her," Cassie answered quietly, the hint of what Draco swore was a coy little smile playing at the corners of her lips. "And she loves you… somehow."
Draco's eyes went wide, causing Cassie to burst out laughing. "Somehow? W-What is that—?"
"Sorry, can't tell you." Back to the sing-song voice. Draco shook his head; she really was his child. And perfect.
"Don't worry," she said, her laughter fading away and being replaced with that aura of wholehearted admiration. "You two are very happy together."
Draco heard himself exhale aloud this time. "So…" He leaned into his stool and tried to release his nerves. This was his daughter he was speaking to, after all; no need to worry about being judged. "What are you like, Cassie? I mean, you seem lovely, but what are your interests?"
"Well, I'm the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team…"
YES! Draco's internal Slytherin jumped for joy. Of course, it didn't make sense for this girl to be in any House but Slytherin, but the knowledge that she was for sure in the family House filled him with peace.
"…and I'm the br—" Cassie's gray eyes widened for a fraction of a second before she quickly schooled her expression and finished, "I'm at the top of my class."
Draco knew she wasn't telling him something, but he couldn't bring himself to pry. His little girl got more and more perfect by the second.
"That's excellent! What's your best class?"
She smirked and asked, "You mean besides all of them? History of Magic, hands down."
Draco made a face. "Seriously? Did Binns get fired?"
Cassie laughed and the angels returned. "No, in fact, I got him to remember my name."
"How in Merlin's beard did you manage that?"
"Well, see, we got into an argument one day in third year. He didn't believe I could recite any passage from Hogwarts, A History on command, so I told him to quiz me. He spent the entire class period throwing page numbers at me, and I spent the entire class period quoting whole pages of text."
Draco shook his head in awe. "How did you memorize the entire book?"
"It wasn't a choice, really," she scoffed, "not when it's your bedtime story every night as a child."
His nose crinkled. He was about to ask why on earth he would read a history textbook to his daughter as a bedtime story when—
Every bone in Draco's body froze as realization sunk in. He wouldn't. No one would, except for…
Suddenly, all of Cassie's traits that didn't line up with his own popped out.
The adorable little freckles around her nose.
The wild, untamable quality of her hair.
The muggle phrase in her vocabulary.
The fact that she was biting her bloody lip the exact same way she did when she was nervous.
"There's no way…"
Suddenly, a voice from outside the classroom startled them both.
"Draco?" Crabbe called. "Draco, you in there?" Each word was louder than the last as the boy got closer and closer.
Draco turned around to see Cassie on her feet, hurriedly fiddling with the time-turner.
"No, wait!" he exclaimed desperately.
"He can't see me!" she hissed. "I've risked enough by letting you see me!"
"I love you, Daddy." She gave him a bittersweet smile, and as she evaporated into a blur of color, she added, "Be nice to Mum! You'll feel awfully guilty for everything in twenty years!"
And she was gone.
Crabbe stepped into the room a second later, and after a quick look around, his eyes turned to saucers. "Bloody hell, mate! Snape's going to Avada you when he sees—"
"I didn't do this, you moron!" Draco snapped, turning around to face his dimwitted companion. "I just…" But he couldn't finish that sentence. There was no possible way to finish that sentence.
"Hey, are you okay?" Crabbe asked as he walked closer.
Draco tried his best to pull himself back into the present and conceal his emotions. "Yeah, fine. Just got distracted is all. We'll tell Umbridge a couple of Hufflepuffs got into a fight in here."
"Okay…" Crabbe said a bit uncertainly. He got over it a moment later, though, as his small brain remembered why he was there in the first place. "Blaise is looking for you. He's in the west wing."
"Right," the Malfoy heir said shortly, slipping his wand back into his pocket. "I'll go find him."
He left as quickly as he could. The last thing he needed was for Crabbe to realize he was shaking and go all sensitive on him.
Granger. He was going to marry bloody Granger. He was going to raise a beautiful daughter with Granger. He was going to be an excellent husband to Granger. He was going to be in love with…
By the time Draco reached the west wing, he didn't have to think twice about the most unsettling part of this revelation: none of this bothered him. In fact, it inexplicably filled him to the brim with joy. And if that wasn't concerning, nothing was.