Rating: it's still tame (might change next chapter)
AN: It's been ages since I had French and I can't remember if there's a term of affection for 'grandmother'. If there is, please let me know.
Not beta-ed, so if there are any mistakes or not enough synonyms, it's my fault... so I'm looking for a beta. If you're willing to help me out, please let me know. You should be 18 tho and not averse to smut. ;o)
Anyway, thanks for stopping by again. It is much appreciated.
Part 2 - The Present
Time moves too fast, Draco Malfoy mused, standing on platform 9 3/4 and watching his children hugging their aunt – not by blood or any familial bond, but friendship and love. Soon it would be his turn to get his goodbye hug. The longer it took, the better. He didn’t want them to leave. They were only ten.
But a letter from Hogwarts had arrived, inviting them to their first year of magical education among peers. He had not been surprised by the invitation. His twins were exceptionally bright. And it was not his arrogance talking, neither his parental pride. Still they were his and he was worried.
It had taken four Zabinis – Blaise, his wife Estrella and their two sons – and his mother as well as his own children to change his mind. He was still reluctant to have them leave his care so young, but he would let them go. He had promised after all. He just wished it was easier.
Getting down on one knee, he hugged his daughter first and then his son. Merlin, he already missed them. Maybe it couldn’t, wouldn’t hurt to remind them one more time. “If you don’t like it, if it becomes too much, let me know. I’ll come and get you.”
Picking up on the seriousness of the situation, the twins replied simultaniously, solemly. “We promise.”
But Rose – of course – had to add something. “I’ll miss you, too, papa. Don’t be sad. I’ll write to you every day.” She hugged him again, tighter this time as though to assure him.
Draco smiled into her silver-blond curls, his heart swelling with love and pride for his children.
“I won’t write as much.” Scorpius declared, emphasizing the fact that he was male and therefore not as emotional; hence he wouldn’t need to unleash his feelings on paper, especially not every day.
Malfoy senior merely gave him a knowing smirk.
Realizing he was too transparent for his father, the boy amended his earlier words. “Damian and Fer promised me lots of Quidditch practise, so I can play next year.”
A valid excuse and Draco treated it as such, acknowledging it with a nod of understanding, barely resisting the urge to ruffle his son’s hair in affection because Scorpius didn’t like it. As far as the boy was concerned it was curse enough to have curls – he always spelled them straight because of it – and he didn’t need anybody else messing with it. His sister was the only exception to that rule.
“Where are my devils anyway?” Estrella exclaimed, looking around.
“Here, mama.” Ferrante – her youngest – answered as they appearred next to her.
“Luggage’s all stored.” Damian finished, then turned to the Malfoy twins. “Ready to experience a whole new world?”
“Almost. We still want to say goodbye to grandmere.” Rose explained and immediately turned to Narcissa Malfoy for hugs and kisses. Scorpius kept the exchange shorter and less exuberant, but he still put his whole heart into it.
Once they were all done, the Zabini brothers led the twins into the train and the compartment they had secured. And not long after the Hogwarts Express started its journey with children looking out of the windows, waving their familes goodbye.
When the train was out of sight, Draco adressed the two women beside him. “Is it always so hard?”
His mother answered, an understanding smile gracing her cool features. “Always. Just remember, they are not alone. They have each other, the boys, their pets and Blaise.”
“They’ll all take good care of them.” Estrella assured him. “Don’t worry.”
Not worrying was not an easy task Blaise Zabini – DADA professor and head of Slytherin – soon found out. The sorting ceremony had just started, but he felt like he had already been sitting here for hours. He groaned quietly in dismay and misery.
But his friend and colleague still heard it.
“Are you alright, Blaise?” Hermione Granger – Potions Mistress and Hogwarts Professor - inquired concerned.
“No. I’ve just realized I hate this.” He made a sweeping motion, indicating the sorting taking place.
Her mouth fell open in disbelief.
It was true the new sorting ceremony had been her idea – all pupils were resorted each year, giving them the opportunity to explore different traits of their character as well as make new friends, but most of all to stop the blind rivalry between the houses - she had experienced during most fo her time at Hogwarts - and promote unity. But Blaise had been inflamed by her ideas and become her most staunch supporter in this endeavour, and together they had been able to convince the rest of the staff.
Why this sudden change of mind when it had worked better than even they had expected? When they had put so much time and effort into it?
“What?!” she barely managed to tone her hiss down, but packed as much disdain and disappointment into her next words. “Are you daft?!”
“Not yet, but soon.” he mumbled. “This is torture.”
“You’re not the one being sorted.” she reminded him. “Why are you so worried?”
Headmistress McGonagall had already informed them that Malfoy’s children would join the first years, even though they were younger than requested. Still they had appeared in this year’s registry much to McGonagall’s surprise. Thinking it a mistake, she had notified the School Board – where Malfoy (Draco that is) held no seat – and the Department for School Regulations.
After a thorough investigation of this unprecedented case, they had deemed the Malfoy twins exceptionally intelligent and gifted – the reason they had been registered a year early – and concluded that it was their father’s decision whether he wanted to send them to school or wait one more year.
Needless to say, Malfoy had enrolled them and the headmistress had asked all the staff members to keep an eye on them, even though she knew how close Professor Zabini was with them. Still there were some things teachers could not do or be, and Hermione understood all too well what troubled Blaise.
“I know they are really young and Hogwarts can be overwhelming, but they have people here who love them.”
“But if they get sorted into a house neither of my sons is in?” Blaise argued.
“Then they still have each other. Twins have a deeper bond than other siblings…”
The DADA Professor wanted to object, but she just continued. “I know there are some people who still hold a grudge against Malfoy. On both sides. But you swore they were better behaved than him.” She grinned at that. “I’m sure they’ll soon make new friends.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” he said, calmed down for now, but when Rose finally approached the Sorting Hat, Blaise’s heart plummeted to the ground in dread.
“What’s taking the damned hat so long!” he hissed under his breath, almost flushing in anger. Then, assuming the worst, he paled.
The curly-haired witch laid her hand comfortingly on his arm. “I’m sure it has to carefully consider because she is so young.”
But what if it wasn’t? What if it revealed…
“Slytherin!” the hat suddenly announced, followed by clapping.
Rose slid off the chair, her blond curls bouncing rhythmically as she stepped aside and let her brother take his place.
Zabini sighed in relief and relaxed a little, but was anxiously awaiting where Scorpius would be placed.
Fortunately, this time it didn’t take so long.
“Where one goes the other shall follow.” the hat said to the boy alone, then loudly exclaimed, “Slytherin!”
Blaise finally relaxed completely as the twins joined their house and sat down between his sons who - contrary to years prior - were in the same house again. And just in case they had thought ahead and saved their little friends seats.
“What did it tell you?” Scorpius whispered into his sister’s ear.
“Clever like your parents, sly like your father, with a big heart full of courage like your mother. You seek many answers, but you are best provided for now where your friends are.” She repeated the exact words the hat had imparted.
“Strange.” her brother summarized.
“Do you think it can look into the future, too? Did it see who our mother will be?”
“Don’t know… Maybe.” He shrugged, not sure they actually needed one anymore. Judging from his observations, grandmere did all those motherly things he had seen and heard his aunt do, so he was satisfied.
Rose, on the other hand, did not dare hope her father would find someone to look at like uncle Blaise looked at aunt Estrella. But they couldn’t do anything about it now anyway, so they turned their attention back to the sorting.
Professor Granger quickly concluded her Potions class and hurried down to the hospital wing to see how her accident- prone pupil – a son of the infamous Neville Longbottom - fared. To her surprise the medi-witch was already coming towards her.
“No need to worry, Professor.” Madame Merriwald greeted her. “He’s already healed and I sent him on his way.” She grinned and winked at her. “Your son is a real trouble-seeker.”
No, she would never have one.
Hermione winced, then schooled her features into confusion. “But I don’t have a son.” she corrected, wishing that Madame Pomfrey were still at Hogwarts. She would not have made this mistake, but alas Pomfrey had transferred to France to be closer to her husband and Merriwald had been employed.
She was a medically very competent witch, but she often kept confusing people, things and facts due to a spell sustained during the war against Voldemort and no one was aware of it.
“Your ex-husband must be a right bastard to make you renounce your children.”
Children?! Now they were at plural? More than one child that was supossedly hers?
“… just because he’s got full custody.” the witch continiued, shaking her head in disgust. “Stupid, medieval wizards!”
“But I…” But Hermione didn’t get to finish her objection.
“No buts, dear.” Merriwald stopped what she thought were Granger’s excuses for mistakes that couldn’t be laid at her door.
In the wizarding world children of divorced couples – there were only a few cases – always went to live with the father. There was no easy, inexpensive way around it.
“The boy’s clearly missing a mother’s touch. No wonder he gets into fights so often. And since your ex actually sent them straight into your arms, you might as well take advantage of it, because clearly he’s trying to get your attention.”
He who? Her non-existent son? Or her ex-husband? Merlin, did she actually mean Ron and his temperamental brood?
But that was years ago! And obviously, his sons were not hers.
Mistaking Hermione’s shocked expression for worry for her children, the medi-witch quickly cotinued. “Don’t worry, your girl hasn’t been her because of a fight…”
A girl? Ron didn’t have any daughters! Who by Morganna’s hair was she talking about?!
“She only accompanies her brother. A right dear she is and so adorable, very mature for her age. You can be proud of her.”
But Hermione merely gaped and once she got over the shock, she explained. “Madame Merriwald. You are mistaken. I don’t have children.”
“Oh dear! Did he actually obliviate you?”
“What? No one obliviated me.” the Potions Professor assured, not lacking any confidence.
“Merlin’s beard! It’s worse than I thought.” Merriwald grabbed Granger’s hands and muttered the strongest anti-obliviation charm ever invented.
The Potions mistress carefully extracted her hands. There was only one way to convince the other witch. “I don’t have any children because I can’t have them.” She cringed in regret, then pointed her wand at her abdomen, reciting a revelation spell that indicated the scars of the Dark Spell that had left her barren. “It happened before the war.”
Merriwald gulped in deep breaths of air. “Morganna help me! What have I done! I am so sorry. I was so sure. They have your eyes, but you can’t… I made you remember… made it worse… I am so sorry. I… I…” She broke into sobs and Hermione’s exasperation vanished in an instant.
She only felt sorry for the other woman. She guided her to the closest bed and made her sit down before handing her a handkershief and taking a seat beside her. She laid a hand on the older witch’es shoulder, comforting her with that small touch, assuring her that everything was all right, that she knew she hadn’t meant any harm, that she only wanted to help.
Hermione didn’t know how much time had passed, or what she’d said exactly, her mind was too occupied with the idea that they were children here at school who had eyes like hers. A fact Merriwald had revealed even after she knew they couldn’t be hers.
Hermione bit her lower lip in thought. She didn’t know of any other witches or wizards in her family, but she couldn’t really rule out the possibility. Maybe there was someone out there, far removed from her branch of the family tree, who had inherited the same eyes. It was only speculation at this point, but the thought just wouldn’t leave her alone.
And when the medi-witch had finally clamed down, Hermione pounced, desperate to have her curiousity quenched.
“The children you thought were mine… who did you actually refer to?”
“The Malfoy twins of course.”
November 12, 2009
Author's comment: Told you there's a cliffie. *evil laughter* Seriously, please don't kill me. I'm already writing the next chapter. I also realize that the first part is mostly in present tense and this part isn't. It was done on purpose. Tho I still might change that.
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