Astoria and Adoption
Draco was up early. He slept surprisingly well, and wanted to get a head start before Granger disturbed his peace. This morning he was fully clothed to deter his mother from bringing up Astoria again. Once he has positioned himself in his favorite chair in the library, he picked up the last book he had been scanning through last night, and went back to skimming the boring text. He must have been reading for over three hours before soft humming broke his focus. When he looked up to undoubtedly ask Granger how she got in the library and then scold her for interrupting him with her off tune melody, he was met with a completely different woman. The woman he saw had her chocolate hair tied up in a perfect bun at the base of her neck, that allowed the large pearls around her neck to be the center of focus. Her robes were a pale blue in a flattering fit that showed off her slim waist that her hands were currently waiting on. Her complexion was fair and usually classically beautiful face was marred with anger.
“Astoria?” Draco greeted, puzzled. “How did you get in here? And why are you here?” He knew he sounded rude, but she interrupted him from important research.
“Not happy to see me? Or were you expecting Hermione Granger?” she growled. In truth Draco had never seen her so upset, and was both intrigued and a bit scared as to how this encounter would play out.
“I was not expecting Granger,” he lied fluidly, “and it is not my happiness that should be questioned, but rather my focus. I was merely a bit displeased that my attention was broken from an important matter.” Draco motioned for Astoria to take a seat across from him, and continued, “I’m sorry for my rudeness, now, is there something troubling you?”
Draco knew how to talk to irate women, it was almost a specialty. Like any wise man, he knew to apologize for nearly anything he could think may be the problem, and act concerned. In truth, he was still annoyed that she interrupted his research. At least Granger would either have valuable information to give or a good comeback.
Astoria huffed as she lowered herself gracefully into the armchair, “your mother has informed me about your dealings with Hermione Granger and I am not happy with the amount of time you have been spending with her. I am your girlfriend. I understand that you’re on some little job-” Draco opened his mouth to tell her how very important this “little job” was, but she cut him off with a finger. “I know you well enough to know that this is important to you, but putting everything or everyone else off to the side is not okay.” She paused to recompose her face into a stern mask as it had slipped into a loo of almost sadness. “Now, we need to discuss your being nearly naked with her yesterday,” she said and her eyes bore into Draco’s.
He sighed. This is going to be a long discussion then. “Do you know about the past Granger and I share?” he asked, and received a look that said ‘Draco, everyone in the world knows about your petty childhood rivalry.’ “Don’t give me that look,” he stopped her, “it’s more complicated than just me calling her a Mudblood and her hitting me. We have always and will always do anything to get under each other’s skin. I don’t know why we do this and bicker constantly, but she always has the most entertaining reactions, and I’m sure she just loves showing me up. This has been going on since we were 11. It’s not some underlying sexual tension, but rather a long winded rivalry. I guarantee she doesn’t get anything out of seeing me shirtless besides jabs at me being ‘pale as shining moonlight.’” Draco did a rather good impersonation of Granger at the end there and was too busy mentally congratulating himself to notice her actually enter the library until Astoria spoke.
“You must be Hermione Granger. Pleasure,” Astoria said in a nauseatingly saccharine tone while getting up and offering her dainty manicured hand to a surprised Granger.
“Pleasure. You must be Astoria. I’ve heard a lot about you from Malfoy. He seems rather taken with you,” Granger said, returning the sickly sweet gesture with a smile that looked genuine to anyone that did not know her.
Draco was stunned that Granger just lied out her teeth for him, but quickly recovered so that Astoria did not realize deception. “Granger, we have work to do. I don’t need you telling Astoria any embarrassing childhood stories she hasn’t heard yet. I’d like to keep some pride,” he grimaced, more at the potential truth than the lie.
Astoria knew when she was being politely dismissed, and marked it down as something else that her and Draco needed to work on later. But, for the time being she settled for asserting her dominance, and giving Draco a rather lengthy kiss before sauntering away. It was not normally in her character to show affection so publicly, but she felt very threatened by Hermione’s place in Draco’s life at the moment. How was she suppose to compete with a woman that was the brains behind defeating the Dark Lord? Astoria knew that her boyfriend valued intelligence more than he let on, and who can stand a chance next to ‘the brightest witch of her age’? Needless to say, Astoria Greengrass was not delighted as she sashayed out of the Malfoy library. The little bit of satisfaction that came from kissing Draco faded as she meandered back to the sitting room in the South wing of the manor where she would complain Narcissa, again.
Upon apparating home the previous night, Hermione Granger was greeted by a strange owl and an empty apartment. Choosing to address the official-looking barn owl first, she untied a rather thick parchment from its leg, fed it a treat, and plopped down onto the old couch in the front room. She sighed as she read:
The department has not been able to learn the parents of the young girl, Rosalinda, that you turned in the other day. We are not able to use truth serum on children, as the side affects could be dangerous, but we were able to learn that she is 6 years old, born December 7th, 1997. A maternal and paternal lineage test can be preformed, but only with consent of the legal guardian, and currently she does not have one known.
We would like to inform you that you have the option of temporary legal guardianship, if you so choose. Otherwise, Rosalinda will be held in a ministry orphanage until her legal guardian claims her.
If you have any questions, you can send them with the owl that delivered this message, or you can stop by any time at the department on the 5th floor, 3rd hallway on the left.
Department of Child Services”
After five minutes of just staring at the letter, the front door slamming brought Hermione out of her trance. “Ron,” she croaked, summoning a very worried fiancé into the living room. “I don’t know what to do,” she moaned and buried her head in her hands, on the verge of tears.
Ron knew how to deal with this Hermione. He sat down beside her and wrapped his arms around her, drawing small circles on her back, and whispering calming words. He knew it must be something pretty worrisome if this was her reaction from a letter. After a few minutes of mumbling comfort into her ear, he softly asked, “can you tell me what’s wrong?”
By far the best moment of his week so far was the look on his soon-to-be wife’s face when she peered up at him with glassy eyes and a small smile. She trusted and loved him. Putting aside his elation, he listened as she explained, “the Department of Child Services wants me to be the temporary guardian of a little girl I found in Diagon Alley. She was in the bookstore, but she ran when I asked her who her parents were. For some reason she wouldn’t tell anyone. It’s either me or an orphanage until her parents come. I can’t let a kid be put in an orphanage knowing I’m the other option.”
The news hit him like a sack of galleons. Was he ready to be a parent, even temporarily? What happened to the calm life he had for the past four years? How would life change with a kid? She was looking up at him with a hopeful expression. She knew his temper, and he made a promise to himself after Harry left that he would reign his anger. He had to. He took a deep breath and said, “can we just think on this for the rest of the night? I don’t know if I’m ready to be a parent, even temporarily.”
When she agreed, he wanted to slump over and sigh in relief. But he knew it would be a long night. A parent, a parent, a parent kept ringing through his head. Oh Merlin.
Ron’s panic was palpable. Hermione understood. This was a lot to ask of a person. Even she did know if she could be a parent, but what choice was there? How could she tell them no? It wasn’t even an option.
So, Ron and Hermione stayed like that all night. Holding each other, and quietly freaking out about what tomorrow will bring. Where would the kid sleep?
After Astoria left the library, Hermione and Malfoy stared at each other with smirks on their faces, but Hermione’s grew larger when she asked, “trouble in paradise?” At first, Malfoy seemed a bit afraid, then his evil little grin came out, and he replied, “how is it going with Britain’s favorite Weasel?”
Deciding they were at a stalemate, Hermione went back to what she was actually here for, “I actually wouldn’t be staying if you want to go run after your girlfriend.” This drew a sneer from Malfoy, but before he could interrupt with a snide comment about her relationship, she trudged on, “I have something important that came up, so I might be taking leave for two days. But I do have a question for you. Why do you care so much about breaking this law?”
“I have my reasons,” Malfoy dismissed, looking away from her, and picking up a book. Hermione had him right where she wanted him. She continued, “do you have a sibling?”
First confusion, then terror flashed over Malfoy’s face before his stony exterior was put back up, but this was all Hermione needed, “I found a little girl in Diagon Alley. She refuses to tell me her parent’s names, and looks eerily like you.” Malfoy’s face was still hard, but his eyes showed his fear even through his derisive comment, “sounds like kidnapping Granger. I thought you were above that. And I have no siblings.”
“Well,” Hermione started, enjoying every second of backing Malfoy into a corner, “I will soon have custody of Rosalinda, thanks to Child Services, and then I can legally order a paternity test.”
It didn’t take a second for Malfoy to be no more than a couple centimeters from her face with anger flaring, “you have no right,” he began, but she cut him off. “Yes I do as her legal guardian. Now tell me what your secret is Malfoy. This little girl deserves a family,” Hermione said with all the determination she felt, but faltered a bit at the end, “please, Malfoy.”
Oh Merlin, she found her. Rosalinda.