"Blake, honey... come on! We have to meet Granna, I've told you a hundred..." she started, taking his hand again, but Blake shook his head.
"No, Mummy, ders some 'tin back there," he said, pointing, and Hermione lifted an eyebrow, tightening the grip on his hand. "I think it's a kitty!" Blake exclaimed, face lit up at the thought as he tried to pull his hand away. Hermione felt a small foreboding sensation in her stomach and pulled him back.
"No, Blakey," she said, bending to lift him onto her hip.
"But Mum! The kitty!" Hermione ignored her son, backing out of the alley slowly, as if something were back there that wouldn't see her if she weren't rash. "Mum!"
"Let's just leave the kitty alone, alright, baby? What if it's sleeping? We don't want to make it grouchy, do we?" she asked him playfully as they stepped safely back onto the lighted street. Blake looked confused.
"Growl-chee?" he asked, trying to sound it out, and Hermione laughed.
"Yep... like Grampy gets when they rain out the ball game," she explained, which in turn gained a giggle from the boy. He furrowed his eyebrows.
"Curs you Zuz,
"Blake, don't worry about the kitty, alright? It'll be fine; we have to go..." she started, but a beep from her watch interrupted her and she groaned, reaching into her pocket for her phone. Finding this difficult, Hermione again placed her son on the ground. "Stay here, love, I've gotta call Granna and tell her we'll be a little late... where is that...?" As his mother groped in every pocket she had and double-checked her briefcase, Blake slowly inched his way back toward the alley. Just as he turned the corner, however, Hermione stopped him. "Blake, do you have my... Blake! I told you to stay put!" she scolded as she chased after, a scowl on her face. The little blonde looked up with innocent eyes and she sighed. "Do you have Mummy's phone, baby?"
"Not anymore..." he said, shaking his head, and she groaned.
"Beautiful... perfect... we're late, and I've lost my phone. What next?"
The familiar ring of the theme from 'Bewitched' suddenly echoed through the alley, accompanied by a startled scream. Hermione's face fell. In most cases, she would have grabbed her son and fled... but there was something about that voice... it was almost certainly female and... childlike?
"Blake... Blakey, stay here, alright? Promise me," she said, eyes trained on the darkness ahead, and her son nodded. "I'll be right back, love..." Slowly and carefully, Hermione inched her way down the alley, following the unmistakable ring of her cell. As she grew closer to the sound and further from her son, the distinct sound of quiet sobbing caused her ears to perk. She was sure now that it was a child... Subconsciously, Hermione felt in her pocket for her car keys and twisted the end of the tiny flashlight that hung there, shedding light on the wall in front of her. She moved the beam slowly down and gasped at the sight that she saw. A little girl, who couldn't have been more than four or five years old, was huddled in the corner. Surprisingly, she didn't seem dirty at all; her bright blonde curls were fastened at the top of her head in a bow matching her pressed red dress and shoes; a few spots of dark stain was the only thing at all unclean about her and, being a mother herself, Hermione instantly placed them under the grape juice, ect. category.
The little girl looked terrified to see a grown woman hovering over her and quickly held out the ringing phone, which she had been holding protectively. Hermione, slightly in shock, took the device from the tiny hands and flipped it open, speaking to the caller, although her eyes remained trained on the girl.
"Hello? Mum... yes, I know I'm late... listen, can I call you back?" she stated and closed the phone before her mother could even attempt to reply. "Hi," she stated softly to the girl, who looked scared, but at the same time relieved.
"H-Hi," she whispered, voice shaky, and Hermione smiled slightly.
"I'm not going to hurt you, okay? I promise. Can you tell me your name?" The little girl sniffled.
"Air-Lynn," she said, a fraction louder than her hello. Hermione kept her warm smile.
"My name is Hermione," she said, gaining a smile from the girl. "Erilyn, honey, where are your parents?" As quickly as it came, the smile disappeared and the girls lip started to quiver.
"I-I no know," she sobbed, and Hermione took a tentative step closer, not wanting to alarm the girl, and crouched down. Erilyn seemed unfazed and, to Hermione's surprise, pitched forward and wrapped her arms around her neck. Her mother's intuition taking over, Hermione embraced the tiny girl and softly shushed her.
"Shh... you're okay now, I'm going to help you, alright? Is it okay with you if I take you with me?" Erilyn nodded into Hermione's shoulder, sniffling as her face was continuously dampened with tears. "Okay, Erilyn... shh..." Assured that the child would not be frightened, Hermione lifted her onto the same hip her son had moments before been seated upon and tucked her keys and phone back into her pocket, starting back down the alley. Blake looked up with wide eyes as his mother came back into view, carrying something that was definitely much bigger than a kitty.
"Mum?" he asked, and Erilyn gasped, surprised to hear another voice. Hermione made quick to comfort her.
"Shh... he won't hurt you either, alright?" she whispered softly, and the girl relaxed slightly in her arms, trying to see this mysterious boy. Blake was as intrigued as, if not more so than, Erilyn. "This is Blake. Honey, can you say hi to Erilyn?" Dazed with wonder, Blake lifted a hand to wave, gaining himself a smile from their newfound friend.
"Hi," he said shortly, and she returned it with much less hesitation than she had Hermione's hello. Erilyn felt safe in this woman's arms... Hermione smiled at the exchange.
"Blakey, baby... could you carry Mummy's suitcase for her?" He nodded obediently, eyes still on the girl as he took the object from his mother. "Don't leave it anywhere, okay?" she asked, and was again answered by a nod and subzero eye contact. Hermione shook her head as she lifted Erilyn a bit higher, then held out her hand for her son to take.
The newly made trio stepped back into the sunshine a moment later, blinking their eyes at the difference from the dark. Hermione, to Blake's confusion, started back the way they'd been walking.
"Mum? Where we goin? What bout Granna?" Hermione smiled.
"I've changed my mind, Blakey... we're going to see Harry instead." Blake's eyes lit up.
"Really?" Hermione nodded and he turned back ahead, an eager and satisfied grin on his face. There were no more stops for stray kitties as Hermione took the children toward the ministry entrance, which was conveniently only a few blocks away. She did her best to ignore the penetrating stares of almost every one she met... it was bad enough to walk around with Blake... yes, he had been a mistake... but perhaps the best mistake of her life. She didn't really see what was so disgraceful about such a thing, anyway; nineteen wasn't that young to become a mother. Of course, it didn't help that she looked at least five years younger than she was... according to her coworkers. Now, with one toddler in arm and another in hand, the stares increased and bilingual chatter became more common. Evidently, they didn't know she could fluently speak fifteen languages.
As they walked, Blake continuously tugged on his mother's hand, a sign that he wanted to o faster, but Erilyn simply remained quietly curled in her arms. Hermione took a breath as she stepped up to the glass-encased manikin. She had a feeling she may not be doing the right thing.
When Harry's receptionist told them they were welcome to enter his office, Blake bolted toward the door. Hermione shook her head, smiling in spite of what was about to take place, and slowly followed him.
"Hey, Squirt!" Harry called, laughing as Blake burst through the door and lunged at him. Hermione followed seconds later, smiling at her best friend, who, although on his knees, beat her son in height by at least five inches. Although her presence was known, it was obvious Harry had not spared her a glance as of yet, as he said nothing about the blonde girl in her arms. Hermione slowly and quietly closed the door behind her as she watched the two boys on the floor, acting out their secret handshake. Once mandatory initiation was completed, Harry stood, hoisting Blake onto his shoulder like a bag of potatoes. "What brings you... oh," he said, finally taking notice of Hermione. "And who might you be?" Harry asked, assuming things much less serious than the truth. Erilyn said nothing, but her grip on Hermione tightened. He frowned. "Oh..." he said, "and why does such a pretty girl look so sad?" Again, Erilyn refused to speak to Harry. She did, however, whisper something in Hermione's ear, which caused her to laugh. "What? Harry asked, grinning and ignoring the protests of a red-faced Blake, who was laughing as the blood rushed toward the ground and to his head.
"She said she doesn't like you," Hermione admitted, and Harry laughed.
"And who IS she?" he asked again, his question still directed to the girl, but Hermione answered.
"Her name is Erilyn. As for further information... that's kind of why I'm here." Harry looked confused. "Could you maybe put my son down? That's a little redder than I like his face to be." Harry immediately snapped back to reality, realizing that, although Blake's giggles hadn't stopped, he did seem to resemble a tomato. He laughed as he set the boy down.
"Sorry, Squirt." Blake took a moment to regain his balance, then looked up at Harry.
"Do it again!"
"Blake," Hermione warned. "Why don't you go find Harry's secret box of crayons? I bet Erilyn would like to color with you," she suggested, and Blake grinned, dashing off. Erilyn, however, tightened her grip, but Hermione ignored it. It was only moments before Blake triumphantly came out from underneath Harry's desk, holding a box of crayons.
"It's not a secret if ya hide em in da same place, Mr. Ford," he complained, but sat happily on the floor and pulled a big box of paper, all of which was printed on one side, from under another table. Harry laughed.
"Who?" Hermione sighed.
"Harrison Ford... he's been watching Indiana Jones. Curse
"H...Mynee, I no like him," she said, eyes on Harry, and Hermione smiled.
"Yeah..." Blake agreed distractedly, coloring in a large green blob, which was supposed to resemble a dragon.
"See?" Hermione prodded, "Who do you live with, honey?" Erilyn leaned in to whisper.
"My daddy," she said, and Hermione smiled, in turn whispering.
"Why don't you draw me a picture of him, so I know who to help you look for?" Erilyn seemed to think this was a wonderful idea and she nodded exaggeratedly, plopping down beside Blake.
"Here," he said politely, handing her a stack of the unusable paper. Erilyn smiled at him, but said not a word, picking up a black crayon and starting in on her picture. With a smile, Hermione stood and left the children, walking toward Harry and pulling him even farther away.
"Who is she?" he asked, a bit more seriously, as he sat down at his desk and Hermione took the seat in front of it.
"That's just it, Harry..." she said, leaning in. "I don't know." Harry looked confused.
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"My mother is coming back from holiday today, and Blake and I were going to meet her... he seemed to think there was a cat down an alleyway, and was adamant about making sure it was alright... although, I wouldn't let him go. Then I lost my cell phone, Mother called, and... long story short, Erilyn is the cat." Harry looked understandably shocked.
"You mean... you just found her in an alley?" Hermione nodded.
"But look at her, Harry... we came straight here... that's how she was dressed; I'm pretty sure she's not homeless," she added, and Harry looked to the girl, who sat on her calves as she colored vigorously. He nodded.
"But Hermione... why did you bring her here? What if she's a muggle? Do you KNOW how much trouble I'D be in?"
"I know, Harry... I know... that's why I didn't go directly to Public Safety... and you know how much I hate the muggle law enforcement... I don't know, Harry. There's something about her... something familiar, maybe? I'm not going to rest well until I know she's back with her family... I was hoping you could help me," she explained, and Harry sighed.
"Alright... but I don't know what I can really do, Hermione... we have to call it in to the Wizarding Public Safety Department... she needs to be set up in a foster until we find them... even if it's just for tonight. They'll have to know." At this, Hermione shook her head.
"I was thinking about that... Harry, my name used to be on the foster list, remember? You made me take it off when I had Blake." Harry raised an eyebrow.
"Yes... I remember. Where is this going?"
"Well..." Hermione said, "Just... you know; put it back on. Nothing about me has changed... I still live in the same place with the same job, and the same name..." Harry sighed.
"I know it's not technically the right thing... but it's not technically illegal, either. They paperwork is done and filed... all you have to do is pencil me in. Please Harry? When have I ever asked you for anything?" Harry laughed.
"Well... let's see... last Saturday..." Hermione punched him across the desk. "Alright, alright... if it means that much to you... I'll do it. But if I get caught, so help me Merlin..."
"You won't get caught, Harry... just be on the look out for a claim filed in her description. I'll do all the looking myself."
"I don't know how many rules this is breaking, but..."
"Hogwarts hasn't left you yet, Harry. You're the best..." Hermione squealed, and kissed his cheek. He smirked.
"I should be illegal more often..." Hermione shook her head at him and stood from her chair, returning to Erilyn's side. The girl looked up in alarm, but smiled when she saw Hermione.
"This morning..." Erilyn said softly, eyes on Harry. Hermione felt slightly relieved... it hadn't been as long as she'd thought.
"And what were you doing this morning?" At this question, Erilyn took her eyes from Harry and turned them back onto the only other woman in the room.
"We had breakfast at our house..." she said, a smile warming her lips. Hermione joined her, and nodded.
"What did you have?"
"Grid-cakes," Erilyn said, smiling at the thought.
"What happened after that?" Hermione asked and the girl tilted her head, looking down at her picture of a blonde man in a black suit.
"Daddy said we cud go ta the peztore so I cud see the hammysters..." Erilyn said, but trailed off, frowning.
"Then what?" Hermione asked softly, placing a hand on the girl's back.
"We stoppeded someplace else first... and I was following Daddy, but then he started talking ta somebody and I went to sit in a chair cause it was taken a long time... when I went back, Daddy wasn't there no more..." she said, her voice a dead whisper as she finished. Hermione frowned.
"What did you do?"
"I lookeded all around, but I didn't see him... so I though he mighta went to the peztore without me... and I thought I knowed how to get there, so I went outside and tried to find it... but I gotted lost," Erilyn finished, her lip quivering. Hermione pulled the girl into her arms, letting her once again cry on her shoulder.
"It's okay... can you tell me about your Daddy? Is he nice to you?" Erilyn nodded, sniffling.
"Daddy takes care a me... I no have a Mum."
"What does he look like, Erilyn?" She pointed to the picture she'd drawn.
"Daddy's hair is the same color as mine..." she said. "An he always wears clothes like..." Her voice dropped. "Like his." Erilyn pointed to Harry, who was, unlike most businessmen, wearing jeans and a black sweater. Hermione nodded.
"His name is Daddy..." she said, as if Hermione should have known, and she laughed.
"What about you, then? Can you tell me your whole name?" Erilyn nodded.
"Air-Lynn May McCoy," she stated proudly, and Hermione smiled.
"That's a very pretty name."
"Daddy says that my mum nameded me." Hermione lifted an eyebrow.
"I thought you didn't have a Mum?" Erilyn shook her head.
"Ever-body gets a Mum... I just don't gots mine no more." Hermione smiled warmly at the girl and flipped her wrist to look at her watch. It was already nearing ... and by the way she talked, Erilyn hadn't eaten since breakfast.
"I think that's enough questions for today... are you hungry?" Although she looked as if she wanted to remain polite and say no, Erilyn couldn't help but nod her head. Hermione smiled. "What about you, Blakey?" He looked up sharply.
"Wha?" Hermione laughed.
"Are you hungry, baby?"
"Whadda ya think, Mum?" Again, she laughed.
"Say goodbye to Harry and we'll go get some dinner, okay?" Blake nodded in an exaggerated and childish way, standing and running to meet Harry. Hermione gently pushed Erilyn in a more upright position and began collecting the spread of papers into one pile. Seeing that her help could be appreciated, Erilyn immediately began placing all the crayons back in their box. Hermione smiled at her as she carefully closed it, holding them as if they were made of glass. She handed the box to Hermione after a moment of inspection and she placed it in the box of paper. "Ready?" Erilyn nodded.
Hermione stood and lifted the small girl onto her hip then turned around to see Harry holding Blake in a familiar position. Erilyn giggled at the red- faced six-year-old, and Hermione gave Harry a look of warning. He sighed.
"Sorry; it wasn't my idea."
"Oh, I wouldn't doubt that it wasn't. Come on, Blakey." Reluctantly, Blake flipped himself over, letting his feet hit the ground.
"Bye Harry," he said, and flew through the door.
"Bye Squirt!" Harry called after him, but it didn't seem like Blake had heard him. "Excitable, isn't he?" Hermione laughed.
"Isn't he always?" she asked and sighed. "Harry, I can't thank you enough for this..." He shook his head.
"What're friends for, hm?" Hermione smiled and kissed his cheek. "But, do you really think you should be just walking around with her?"
"I don't see why not... it's not like I haven't reported her, right? And, if we're lucky, we'll find someone she knows." Harry sighed.
"Whatever you want, Mione... I'm just saying... someone could think the wrong thing and overreact. You don't know who her father is, what if..." Hermione cut him off.
"Harry," she hissed, noticing the glare Erilyn was giving her friend.
"Forget I said anything. Bye Erilyn." Of course, the girl said nothing.
"What do you mean you can't do anything? Are you head of the Missing Persons department, Abbott, or is it Halloween?" Draco Malfoy shouted at his fireplace, where a pretty redhead wearing thin glasses and her hair in a bun was trying her best not to be screamed at.
"Mr. Malfoy, you don't know how sorry I am... if your daughter hasn't been reported found, you have to wait until tomorrow morning. I've checked the reports three times..."
"Well do it again, Hannah! You've got a son... how would you feel?" She sighed.
"Draco, really... I'm doing everything I can! I don't like the system any more than you do..."
"Fuck the system, I want my daughter back!" Hannah groaned in exasperation.
"Honestly, count your blessings, alright? If-"
"My blessings?" Draco interrupted, a cold laugh in his voice. "Count my fucking blessings?"
"If she were three years older, you'd have to wait forty eight hours, so yes, count your fucking blessings!" Hannah was steaming, and Draco found himself shocked. He'd never heard her so much as raise her voice in all the years he'd known her.
"Hannah..." he said softly, his shock evident, and the girl took a calming breath, adjusting her glasses.
"Sorry... I'm worried, too, Draco. I don't want to see
"No!" Draco shouted suddenly, his anger overriding the shock. "I don't even want Potter to know about this!"
"No, Hannah! Why? So he can laugh in my face and put the claim as far back in the list as possible? I'd never see her again," he yelled, but his last sentence broke in the middle with a deep note of hurt.
"Harry wouldn't do that, Draco... I know him better than you do, he'd..."
"Hannah, I said no," Draco repeated, his voice still sporting that twinge of hurt, as if he'd just realized the truth behind his words. Hannah looked sympathetic.
"It's your call... but, just in my opinion, I think you should let me call him. I wouldn't let him touch your claim."
"Thanks, Hannah... I appreciate your help; I do... I just don't want Potter to have any part in this." She sighed, nodding.
"I understand that, Draco... but if you change your mind, I'm working graveyard tonight... I'd go over to his house if I had to." Draco suffered himself a small smile.
"You'll call me?" Hannah gave an exaggerated nod.
"If I see anything with even a remote possibility." He sighed.
"Thanks, Hannah. I owe you; tremendously." She smiled and shrugged a shoulder.
"That's my job." In a flash, she was gone, and again, Draco was alone with his thoughts. He hadn't been alone with his thoughts since... at least Hogwarts. First there was Graduation... Post-Term Job Market Prep courses... then he'd married Erilyn's mother, and, although she could be a bit of a bother at times, he really had loved her... then Erilyn was born... and her mother had died. For the first time, Draco found himself really thinking about his late wife. When she'd died, he'd had
"So," Hermione asked, spooning a tiny bit of her ice cream sundae into her mouth. "How old are you?" Erilyn smiled, holding up three fingers.
"Four," she said, and Hermione laughed.
"Do you go to preschool?" She shook her head. "Daycare?" Again, she shook her head. "Does your Daddy go to work?" She continued, causing Hermione to laugh.
"Daddy stays home with me... but I have a Nanny. He says he'd like for us to be able to spend all day playing, but he gotsta pay da bills. He has this little black book with no pages... and he opens it up side-sway and it stays like that... one side glows, and da other side has little buttons with letters on them. He reads that book all day... and sometimes he writes in it with the keys." Hermione smiled. So, her father worked from home... on a laptop computer. Being the clever, Ravenclaw material that she was, Hermione decided to try a little child psychology.
"Do you know where your Mum met your Daddy?" she asked, and Erilyn made a face of deep thought.
"It waza school... but I can't member the name..." At this point, Blake decided to enter the conversation.
"Mummy went ta Piggypimples." Hermione laughed out loud.
"Hogwarts, love," she corrected softly, trying not to be overheard. Erilyn's face lit up.
"That's it! Daddy went there too!" Hermione, internally, sighed in relief. At least the girl wasn't a muggle... and, better yet... Hermione knew exactly where she kept her Hogwarts yearbook. As long as her father didn't happen to be forty or so... she might be able to pick him out. Hermione never recalled a boy with the last name of McCoy... but if he were in seventh year while she was in first... or perhaps Erilyn carried her mother's name. Anything was possible. "Mynee?" Erilyn asked, breaking Hermione of her thoughts. "Do I gotsta eat all of this?" she asked, eyeing her half-eaten sundae with a slightly ill look.
"Not if you don't want it,
For some reason, both children found this completely hilarious and giggled for a good long time. Hermione smiled as she watched them, but the moment was interrupted by a digitalized version of the 'Bewitched' theme song.
"Gimme a sec, okay Blakey?
"Hey Blake..." Erilyn said in an undertone, watching as her new friend polished off her sundae. He looked up, slightly surprised. She hadn't said more than one word to him since they'd met. "Werz yer Daddy?" Blake shrugged a shoulder.
"I don't gots one."
"Yes you do... ever-body does... plus your Mum just said so," Erilyn pointed out, and Blake nodded.
"Yah, but I never meted him. Kinda like yer Mum," he said through a mouth full of chocolate fudge and Erilyn opened her mouth in an 'o' of understanding.
"Yes Mum... I'll call you... I will... no, I promise... love you too... bye now." Hermione hung up her phone and gave a heavy sigh. "Your grandmother is a PAIN," she said, and the children laughed again. She smiled as Blake licked his spoon clean and tossed it back into his sundae cup. "Want mine too, Blakey?" He smiled and started to agree, but then the mix between Harry's head rushes and Erilyn's sundae caught up with him; Blake placed a hand to his head, shaking it slowly. Hermione laughed and set out a five note before sliding off her chair.
Hermione stopped her car at a red light and flicked open her phone, pulling the antenna out with her teeth. The children sat in the back together, playing repeated games of rock-paper-scissors and seeing who could spot the funniest looking people. Hermione pressed a button on her speed dial and placed the phone to her ear just as the light changed.
"Harry, it's me."
"Hey, Mione. Any luck with the girl?" Hermione smiled to herself.
"Tons. Her father went to Hogwarts."
"Well, that's a start. What year?" Hermione laughed.
"Harry, if she doesn't know his name, do you think she'll know what year he graduated?" Harry chuckled as well.
"You never know. Where are you?"
"You're in the car, aren't you? Mione, I've told you a thousand times not to call me from the car. It's dangerous and you know it." She gave a surprised 'ha!'.
"It's no more distracting than Blakey... what am I supposed to do, let HIM drive?" she asked, then added "No," to Blake, who looked up excitedly at the idea.
"Well, hurry up and tell me what you want to tell me before you lot end up at the body farm, will you?"
"You're great at painting mental pictures, Harry. I've been thinking... even if her father's sent in a claim, it won't be lighted until morning, because of her age, which means I'm taking her home tonight. I just wanted to remind you of this... and I might call Hannah if I were you; she's head of that department. I'm just afraid the father might have claimed and we didn't report it to Public Safety, after all..."
"I'll try, Mione, but I've got so many people here... you wouldn't believe. Three hours full waiting outside my door. My next client is in, oh... thirty seconds." Hermione laughed.
"I suppose it's not THAT important, Harry. It IS just a lost child after all. So trivial compared to barking mailboxes."
"Ha, ha... but it's a safe and well child, compared to an armless old man, being treated at St. Mungo's after his two year old granddaughter got hold of his wand..."
"Alright, alright, Harry. Just try, okay? I'd hate to leave the poor man worried for any longer than necessary."
"I know, neither do
"What If I'm sitting cross-legged?"
"Anything?" Draco asked frantically as Hannah's head appeared in his fireplace. The cheery smile she donned when answering the phone faded.
"I said I'd call, Draco... no, there's nothing."
"Not even with the most insignificant chance?"
"Draco, I've only had four blondes reported in the entire country... two were men, one was a deceased middle aged woman, and the other was 94," she said sadly, shaking her head. Draco's face dropped.
"Well... what if whoever took her died her hair? You can't go by things like that..."
"You know as well as I do that we do identity charms on ever single person we find... I wish I could do more, Draco... Do you want me to come and wait with you? I could get someone else to fill in for me."
"No," he shook his head automatically. "No, Hannah, I'm fine. I need you there; I don't trust anyone else." She gave half a smile and Draco sighed. "I just hate this... waiting. What do I do? Tell me what to do."
"Get some sleep. I know it's hard, but I promise you, we WILL find her. The second that claim comes through I will be in the field with the rest of them."
"I'd come through there and hug you, Hannah, but that might look odd to your co-workers." Hannah gave a soft laugh. "I don't think I'll be sleeping though..."
"Just try, okay?
"Thanks for everything, Hannah."
"Love you too, Malfoy," she finished with a wink and once again disappeared. Draco stood from the floor and shuffled into the kitchen, pouring a cup of the coffee he'd made that morning and drinking the whole thing without a breath, never realizing it had gone cold.
It was painful just to sit like that... everywhere he looked, reminders... pictures on the fridge, breakfast plates in the sink... the counter which had aided in the loss of her first tooth... He couldn't help it. Draco slammed the glass down on the counter with a bang and walked quickly down another hall as if he'd heard a scream. The pounding of his shoes on the floorboards didn't waver until he stepped in front of her room.
He tentatively reached a hand toward the knob, praying with all in him that she might just be behind the door, although he knew she wouldn't be. Not only had he checked the entire apartment when he'd returned home, but
The only thing in the room that even suggested it belonged to a four-year- old, save the primitive pictures and mundane children's toys, was her unmade bed. Inside the upturned and mussed sheets was Hank, her favorite teddy bear, and it made Draco smile sadly. He couldn't help but wonder... what if he really didn't get to see her again? Or, just as bad, what if the next time he did... she were dead? Deciding he couldn't stay in her room any longer than necessary, Draco turned around and left only minutes after he'd entered, leaving everything but the bit of carpet in front of the door untouched.
Hermione walked up the stairs to her apartment with a child to each side and her briefcase in Blake's other hand. Erilyn looked around in wonder, but Blake simply walked along side, dreaming of the living room television. When they entered, he dropped his luggage by the door and ran directly for it, sliding along the carpet as he clicked the 'play' button on the VCR. Hermione shook her head at him.
"Blakey, why don't you get ready for bed before you get into that?" she suggested and her son sighed, unable to get through the beginning credits before she spoke.
"Okay, Mum..." he mumbled, pressing the pause button and standing, starting toward the bathroom. Hermione smiled after him, then turned back to Erilyn, who was rubbing sleepily at one eye with her cheek resting against her temporary foster mother's collarbone as if her head were too heavy to support. Hermione smiled.
"As for you; let's see what's in my closet, hm?" The small girl smiled, nodding, and didn't protest as Hermione brought her down the hall and to the master bedroom.
An hour or so later, Erilyn was napping peacefully on the couch, resting her head on Hermione's lap, while Blake sat on the floor, forcing his eyes to stay open as he watched Indiana Jones jump over canyons and save fair maidens. Hermione, herself, was quite bored with the movie, as she'd seen it a hundred times, and was quietly sipping from a teacup while softly stroking
"Mum," he said. "I'm sleepy." Hermione smiled softly.
"Go ahead, baby, I'll come and tuck you in in a minute," she said and her son nodded, turning off the television and shuffling down the hall. Hermione sighed and set her cup on the table beside her, then carefully lifted the sleeping girl into her arms.
"Daddy?" she mumbled, burying her head in the crook of Hermione's neck, and she smiled sadly, placing a light kiss in Erilyn's golden curls. She brought her back to the master bedroom and placed her in the queen-sized bed before turning around to keep her promise to Blake. Once he was tightly wrapped in blankets and minutes away from sleep, Hermione left his side again to return to her houseguest. With a smile at the innocent little face sleeping in her bed, she crawled in beside the girl and lent herself to the sandman.
Draco Malfoy lied awake in bed, simply staring at the ceiling. When he'd told Hannah he wouldn't be sleeping, Draco hadn't been kidding. After hours of mindlessly watching the darkness, he sighed and pulled himself out of bed, returning to his daughter's room. Again, he stepped back out within minutes, but this time carried a little keepsake. As he climbed back into bed, Draco buried his nose in the stomach of a tattered teddy bear and fought the emotion churning in his stomach.
"I'm worried, too... Hank."
Harry knelt in front of his in-office fireplace. In seconds, the annoyed face of Hannah Abbott swirled in front of him.
"Look, I already told you Dra..." she started, but stopped as she noticed it wasn't whom she thought it was. "Oh, I'm sorry Minister, I thought you were someone else." Harry laughed.
"I told you not to call me that, Hannah... it sounds so weird coming from you." She smiled slightly and Harry smirked. "So who's bothering you? Man troubles?" Hannah seemed outraged.
"Harry! I'm getting married!" He laughed.
"Yes, I'm well aware of that." She scowled slightly and scrunched up her nose.
"Worried parent 's all. I know him personally and he seems to think I have magical powers," she informed, speaking the last few words sarcastically. Harry laughed.
"Don't you?" Again, Hannah scowled.
"Stuff it, Harry, that's not what I meant and you know it..."
"Now, now, Hannah. Is that any way to talk to the minister of magic?" She rolled her eyes.
"I knew this job would go to your head. Please, Harry, why did you call me? I'm actually quite busy, and I'm sure you are too."
"You wouldn't believe. I'm calling in favors. Have any children been reported missing as of yesterday?" Hannah, feeling a tad nervous, lifted an eyebrow.
"May I inquire why you wish to know?" she asked, not sure if she should tell him about Erilyn. Draco had specifically requested she not tell Harry... but what if the child he'd found was her? Certainly that would be more important.
"Oh... I got a call from an elderly woman who reported a baby that had been crying for several hours. I have someone over there now, but I'd like the reports when he calls back with information," Harry lied. What Harry and Hermione were doing wasn't exactly legal, and he couldn't risk it slipping. It'd taken him the full ten minutes before the call to think up that story. Hannah nodded, relieved. If it was a baby, it couldn't be Erilyn.
"A boy in Surry, aged 9, black hair, brown eyes... a girl in Hackney, 6, red hair, green eyes... and..." she hesitated. "That's all from yesterday. No babies; it might have been an abandonment." Harry gave a nod.
"Of course, Minister," she said, smirking slightly as her face disappeared. Harry sighed. Erilyn hadn't been reported... or at least, not at the ministry. Perhaps her father had used the muggle police after all. Leave it to Hermione to be an old-fashioned witch, despite her non-magical upbringing.
"He uses it when he can't fix stuff," she said and Hermione nodded, smiling.
"Okay," she said, and sent a spell toward her closet. The doors opened and spit out a tiny pair of jeans and a black sweater, which once fit Hermione, but now were shrunken to a size more appropriate for Erilyn. She squealed.
"Do something else, Mynee!" she pleaded, and Hermione smiled, looking around the room for inspiration. A smirk crossed her lips as she sent a stream of green sparks toward her cabinet, which was full to capacity with miniature dragons and black cats. They immediately sprang to life, the dragons shooting fire at the cats, which hissed and arched their backs. Erilyn found this most enjoyable.
"One more?" Hermione suggested and, of course, the little girl was overjoyed. Hermione worked on impulse and shot another spell at the miniaturized clothing, which immediately wrapped itself around Erilyn as her nightshirt was slipped over her head. When the giggles subsided and Hermione had her wand put away, Erilyn tilted her head.
"Are we gonna go back an see that... guy again?" she asked, face hopeful of a no answer.
"Harry?" Hermione laughed. "Maybe... it depends." She didn't look at all pleased.
"Well..." Hermione said, again taking out her wand. "Accio." Instantly, a leather bound book flew into her hands; her yearbook. The cover was divided into four colors; red, green, yellow, and blue, and each bore the corresponding house crest. "It depends on this." Erilyn looked confused, but Hermione didn't explain, she simply stepped toward the girl and sat cross-legged on the bed. Erilyn turned to face her, sitting that way as well. "Do you recognize any of these pictures?" she asked, hoping that perhaps the man had enough house pride to have some sort of Hogwarts memento, but Lynn shook her head. Hermione sighed and opened the book; all the pages were blank. "All men and women carrying the surname of McCoy," she stated and the book glowed for a moment, but still no pictures appeared. Hermione lifted an eyebrow and tried again; this time searching for all blonde men. As the book only covered students who were in Hogwarts at the same time as she, the list wasn't as long as one might expect. Hermione then handed the book over to
"Whata I do?" she asked and Hermione smiled.
"Look for your Daddy." At this suggestion, Erilyn perked up, beginning to flip through the pages. Hermione watched as she intently stared at some pictures, and simply glanced over others. It was nearly half an hour before she said anything at all, but as the book covered fourteen years, it was understandable that she hadn't found him yet.
"Are you sure he's in here?" she asked, looking up, and Hermione smiled sadly, shaking her head.
"No... but I'm hoping he is. Just keep looking, alright?" Erilyn nodded and bent her head again. Hermione sighed as the pictures neared her year. If the girl's father was much younger than she, it was entirely possible she'd been purposely abandoned... but somehow, Hermione doubted it. She couldn't logically accept that anyone would give up such a precious little girl... if they had, however, Hermione knew she wouldn't be able to do the same thing. Especially if
There weren't many blonde men in her year, Hermione mused as the pages grew closer and closer. She tried to count... but really couldn't think of anyone... none that she could remember off the top of her head, anyway. She could think of a couple of blonde women... but most were potion blonde, anyway. As the page turned to her year, Hermione smiled at the small list of faces. She remembered all of them; some with content, and others distain. Erilyn, however, also recognized one of them. She gasped and shrieked.
"There! That's Daddy, right there!" she said, giggling, and Hermione's face became a bit surprised. She took the book back.
"Which one, honey?"
"That one!" Erilyn squealed, pointing distinctly to the sneering face of the one picture Hermione would rather not have seen. Draco Malfoy. It made perfect sense, however. McCoy... Malfoy... it was a wonder she didn't think of it before... but then again, Draco Malfoy wasn't someone most would think of off the top of their head. Then, a thought crossed her mind, canceling out the excited relief in her stomach; she HAD found the father, after all...
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked, looking up. Erilyn said she lived with her father... and had no mother. How could the spawn of the devil have created something so wonderful... and raised her to be so kind? Hermione could visually see Draco at that age... stuffing a filibuster firework into the mouth of a body-binded squirrel. Erilyn, however, seemed absolutely sure, nodding like crazy. Hermione smiled. Perhaps he'd changed since she'd known him. It had been almost seven years since she'd even laid eyes on the man, after all. "Well, then... yes,
"Can I jump on 'im?" Hermione laughed.
"If you want to."
"Harry? It's Hermione," Hermione said as they were all packed in the car again, on their way to Harry's office. "You'll never guess who Erilyn's father is."
"You're in the car, aren't you?" Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Shut up and guess."
"Hm... went to Hogwarts? I need another clue."
"He's in our year, and he's blonde," she said automatically, and Harry took a moment to think.
"There weren't many blondes, were there? Now that I think about it... Let's see... Morag MacDougal?"
"I can't think of anymore blondes."
"He was a total arse? Slytherin? Lynn said her name was McCoy....?"
"No..." Harry said in disbelief and Hermione smirked.
"How do you know?" Harry asked, intrigued.
"I gave her my yearbook, and she picked him out. What a coincidence, huh? I'd have never guessed... she's so polite and well behaved."
"Perhaps... but she shares his hatred of me." Hermione laughed.
"She likes me well enough, that's a start. I'm on my way, Harry. It IS Malfoy, after all... and that scares me a bit. If I remember correctly, he had a bit of a temper; I'd like you to be there," she said, feeling stupid herself for sounding such a child. Harry agreed.
"I wouldn't have suggested you do it alone. We'll call him from here; I'll look up his file."
Draco sat in his living room chair, which he had turned to face the fireplace, and was sitting with his head bowed, still holding Hank loosely in his hands. He looked a mess; hair disheveled, clothing wrinkled, eyes baggy. Then, the phone rang. Draco practically jumped out of his skin. He certainly wasn't expecting that.
"Hello?" he asked without much enthusiasm; Hannah would use the fireplace.
"Hello," came a female voice on the other end. "May I please speak with Draco Malfoy?" Draco sat up a little straighter.
"Speaking..." he stated and the female voice gave a small sigh.
"This is Hermione Granger... I don't know if you remember me, but..."
"Yes, go on," he said, slouching again. Of all the times and all the people.
"Yes, well... this is going to sound a bit strange, but... I have your daughter," she said, timidly and Draco shot up from his chair, standing.
"You WHAT?" he shouted and, on the other end, Hermione flinched.
"A miss Erilyn May? She is yours, right?" Draco felt his face growing hot.
"I swear on my mother's grave, Granger, if you so much as TOUCHED her..." Hermione interrupted.
"No, you misunderstand me, Malfoy... I didn't take her; I FOUND her." Draco stopped ranting.
"What? Where is she? How much do you want, I'll give you anything..." Hermione smirked.
"She's in the Minister's office, Draco. All I want you to do is come pick her up." Draco took a breath and began another rant, but Hermione had already hung up. Slamming the phone back on it's cradle, Draco grabbed his jacket and dashed from his apartment, not even bothering to stop his coffee pot or turn off the lights. In fact, he even left the door wide open.
Hermione hung up the phone and gave a small sigh. Erilyn tugged at her pant leg.
"Is Daddy coming?" Hermione nodded, kneeling down.
"Daddy said he'd be here as fast as he could, Lynn." Erilyn grinned.
"Mynee... can I come visit you?" Hermione smiled sadly.
"Lynn, I would love nothing more than for you to come visit me... but I'm not sure how your Daddy's going to react. I think he may be mad at me." Lynn looked saddened and confused.
"Why?" Hermione tilted her head, keeping her morose look.
"I'm not sure, honey. I'll tell you what," she said, picking up a nearby piece of drawing paper. "I'll give YOU my address... and my phone number... and, if Daddy says it's alright, you can come. Okay?" Erilyn nodded, watching as Hermione scribbled words she didn't know on a corner of the paper, then folded it and handed it to her. Lynn took it thankfully and slid it carefully into her pocket.
"Thank you." Hermione smiled a genuine smile.
"No problem. Why don't you say goodbye to Blake? I doubt you'll have a chance once Daddy gets here." Erilyn grinned and nodded, dashing over to her coloring playmate. Hermione stood up and turned to Harry.
"I can NOT believe she's a Malfoy... she looks so... angelic," he said and Hermione laughed.
"I was a bit shocked myself. I just hope he believes me... I really would like to see her again, even if it means conversation with Malfoy." Harry casually draped an arm over Hermione's shoulders.
"I wouldn't get your hopes up. Especially if he's still into that Pureblood over Muggle-born thing." Hermione sighed and leaned her head against Harry's shoulder. It was nice to still have such a friend. A digital beep was heard from Harry's telecom only moments later.
"Minister," called the voice of his secretary over indistinct, but human inflicted, background noises. "There's a Mr. Malfoy here to see you. If you want my advice, I'd let him in. In the mood he seems, I wouldn't be surprised if he broke down the door." Harry chuckled and tightened his arm around Hermione.
"Let him in, Laura." In a matter of seconds, the door flew open with a loud bang, revealing a red faced and raw angry blonde man, still wearing the wrinkled clothes from the day before. As he saw his daughter, completely unharmed and content, though surprised, his features softened.
"Daddy!" Erilyn squealed, abandoning her crayons and dashing toward him. Draco fell to his knees, momentarily forgetting about the other occupants of the room as he embraced his daughter.
"Oh, Lynn," he whispered to her, holding her as if he hadn't seen her in years. "Please don't ever scare me like that again," he pleaded, still holding her tight. Although happy to be back in her father's embrace, Erilyn soon became uncomfortable and squirmed a bit. Draco chuckled, pulling away. "What happened?" he asked, holding her face in his hands and creasing his brow. Erilyn began her explanation in a way she would soon find out was not the correct one.
"Well, Mynee, she..." Lynn began, but Draco didn't hear her farther. At the name, he was reminded of the others standing around him and passed a cold glare around the room, even as his eyes landed on Blake, who sat innocently with his crayons. Seeing this, Hermione felt immediately concerned for her young and stepped out of Harry's grasp and toward Blake, picking him up and holding him protectively.
"Mum?" he asked, but she ignored it.
"Daddy?" Erilyn asked. "Daddy?" Draco didn't seem to hear her.
"We're leaving, Lynn. Right now. Come on," he said, standing and picking her up.
"Malfoy, I think..." Harry started, stepping toward Hermione, but Draco cut him off.
"I have no business with you, Potter. And as for you, Granger, I fear of my actions were I to speak with you." With one last glare, Draco turned and left, despite his daughter's pleas.
"Daddy... wait... Mynee!"
Back in Harry's office, Blake waved, the saddest and most serene smile on his face. He mouthed the word 'bye', and then, she was gone.
"Well," Harry started. "At least he didn't break anything." Hermione closed her eyes and pressed her face into Blake's hair.
"Except his daughter's heart."
Once back in the parking lot, Draco placed Erilyn on the trunk of the car, immediately asking questions and making sure she wasn't harmed.
"I'm not talking to you," she stated simply, as stubborn as her father.
"Dear lord, they've turned you against me. Why,
"Cause you were mean to Mynee. She said you'd be mad... I didn't believe her. Daddy, why are you mad?" Draco shook his head.
"I'm not mad at you, Lynn... I'm not mad at you," he promised, hugging her again, but Erilyn didn't uncross her arms.
"I know dat, Daddy... you're mad ah Mynee. Why?" Draco pulled back again, keeping his hands rooted at his daughter's shoulders.
"She... she took you from me, baby..." She shook her head. "Erilyn..."
"All she did was try an help me find you, Daddy. And you're mad..." Erilyn looked as if someone had placed a bug under her nose, shaking her head. She shrugged off Draco's hands and jumped down from the car, stalking to the backseat door and getting in as if she owned it. Draco frowned. She'd scared him half to death... and now that he'd found her again, she wouldn't speak to him. With a sad sigh, he made his way to the driver's seat, closing the door.
"Seatbelt?" he asked, giving her a half-hearted smile in the windshield mirror. Erilyn just scowled, pretending that he'd said nothing, although she did have her seat belt on. With a sigh, Draco started the car and directed them home, comforted with the assurance that she would get over whatever she was under, as all children do.
Erilyn, however, kept to her vow. She didn't say a single word to Draco for the next four days. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get her to say anything. She was even unresponsive to his attack of tickles. It was looking hopeless. She didn't ask for anything; if he didn't bring her food, she simply didn't eat. If he asked her anything, she would blatantly ignore him. Draco even tried stepping in front of the screen as she watched TV... but Erilyn simply continued to stare as if he weren't there. Finally, after four days of silence or one-way conversations, Draco gave up. Perhaps he had overreacted? Granger had said that she had found
Draco picked up his daughter, who didn't protest in the slightest. That would be breaking the vow. She quietly buckled her seatbelt as she was placed in the car. A feud with her father wasn't worth a flight through the windshield. Draco smiled slightly as he started toward his destination. He was confident this would work; it simply had to.
Erilyn stared blankly out the window until the car came to a stop. Assuming she might as well find out where she'd been taken, Lynn turned her head to see a very familiar apartment complex. A grin spread across her face and she said her first words in four days.
"I wuv you, Daddy," she stated, her tone suggesting she'd wished to say that the entire time. Draco felt a wash of relief.
"I love you too, Erilyn. Are you coming?" he asked, and she nodded furiously as she popped the door and got out, running toward the building. Draco chuckled as he caught up to her. Erilyn took his hand as they walked down the hall and he squeezed it, grinning. After a bit of walking, she stopped in front of a door.
"This one," she said, and Draco lifted an eyebrow.
"Are you sure?" he asked, and Erilyn bit her lip, looking around. After a moment, she turned back to her father, nodding.
"Alright..." Draco lifted a hand to knock on the door, but paused and looked down at his daughter. "You're sure?" he teased, and she nodded. "Well, let's find out." Covering the peephole with one hand, Draco knocked on the door. A moment later, a slightly confused Hermione Granger appeared behind the plywood slab. Her eyebrows rose at the sight of the couple, but she had little time to contemplate their presence, as Erilyn jumped at her.
"Mynee!" she squealed, and Hermione laughed as she gave the girl a hug. After a brief bonding session, throughout which Hermione kept one eye on Draco, Erilyn pulled back. "Where Blake?" Hermione smiled warmly.
"In the living room, love." Erilyn made a face.
"Is he watchin that icky movie again?" Hermione laughed, shaking her head.
"We were playing cards... but you're welcome to take mine." Erilyn turned to face her father.
"Daddy? Can I go play?" Draco gave her half a smile.
"Of course you can, Lynn," he said and she grinned, running off toward the living room. Hermione slowly made it to her feet, looking at Draco and waiting patiently for him to break the awkward silence. "This is the part where you say 'I told you so' and the death eaters jump out of the closet and kill me." Hermione laughed.
"Sorry to disappoint you." Draco gave half a shrug. Hermione smiled slightly. "Well, no need to stand around," she said, and led Draco into the living room, where they could watch the children play go-fish. It was Hermione who spoke first. "You know; I'm proud of you, Malfoy. I honestly didn't expect to see either of you again," she admitted and Draco looked toward the floor.
"Well... I honestly wasn't planning on it."
"So?" Hermione prodded. "What changed your mind?" Draco laughed.
"Lynn. She stopped talking to me." Hermione lifted an eyebrow. "Hasn't said a word since we left."
"That's... incredibly odd."
"I know. And hair-splitting. First she goes missing... and then she won't talk... talk about a guilt trip," he said, and Hermione smiled, watching as Erilyn triumphantly set down a pair of twos. "What really happened?" Draco asked, and it took Hermione off guard. He sounded desperate.
"I... well, like I said, I found her; as simple as that." Draco gave a nod.
"She was in an... alley?" Hermione frowned; he sounded so hurt... like he felt guilty. Hermione couldn't bear to see him like that... even if he was Malfoy.
"It's really not your fault, Draco. She told me that you were talking with someone, and it bored her, so she went to find a place to sit down. I'm assuming you went looking the moment you realized she was missing, which would explain why she couldn't find you again. Then she went outside to... look for the... pet store." Draco closed his eyes as if in pain. He'd promised to take her... he still hadn't lived up to that promise. He took a shaky breath.
"Thank you," he said, incredibly sincerely, and Hermione gave a nod. "No, I mean it... if it were someone else..." They shuddered in unison. "And I want to apologize," Draco continued. "I was completely out of line." Hermione shook her head.
"It's not me you should apologize to. I expected as much, but Erilyn thinks you're everything. I told her you probably wouldn't be too friendly with me, but she didn't believe me... I'd imagine that you let her down quite a bit," Hermione said attempting to speak gently. Draco nodded.
"Don't I know..." This comment was followed by another awkward silence.
"You know," Hermione said, smiling as she broke it. "If I'd been asked to describe the future child of Draco Malfoy... I'd have been dead wrong." Draco smiled.
"I know... I think her mother was a good influence on me," he said. Hermione smiled a devious little smile.
"Guess." Without even thinking, Hermione spouted, "Pansy Parkinson." Draco made a face.
"Of course not... you've just insulted Erilyn." Hermione turned her head toward the little blonde girl. She laughed.
"I was thinking your wife, not her mother. But you're right... I apologize. I think I'm going to need another clue; I thought Pansy was the only one you ever dated in school."
"She was. I never said I dated her... I just said I met her there. And, she's not a Slytherin."
"Hm... I would have to assume Ravenclaw, then." Draco gave a nod.
"Astute." Hermione shrugged.
"It's wasn't that difficult; Gryffindor would be a sacrilege and Hufflepuff a disgrace," she said, but her voice was somewhat sarcastic. Draco frowned.
"I happen to now be friends with quite a few Hufflepuff, mind you."
"Moving on... another guess?" Hermione tilted her head, looking to Erilyn.
"I didn't get to know many Ravenclaw... hm..." There was a good few minutes where Hermione simply stared at Draco's daughter... running through every Ravenclaw face she could muster. Suddenly, she straightened.
"Do you know?" She turned to him.
"No, I have absolutely no idea." Draco laughed.
"Mandy Brocklehurst." Hermione lifted her eyebrows, turning back to Erilyn. It was obvious now.
"How on earth did I miss that..."
"To be fair, I must inform that it was actually in Post Term Prep that we really met. I didn't even know her name until then." Hermione smiled, nodding.
"She was a nice girl. We took the Medi-wizardry Prep together." Draco nodded, smiling sadly.
"She always wanted to be in medicine... idolized Madam Pomfrey." Hermione turned to him.
"May I ask...?"
"She died. Having
"I'm sorry," she said softly, placing a hand on his arm. Draco smiled.
"You know what I now find cruel, because of that? Flowers." Hermione lifted an eyebrow. "When she died... I can't even tell you how many different flower baskets I received... and you know what happened? I set them out, and watched them die. I would take care of them, do everything I was suppose to... and yet... they all just... died," Draco said, eyes locked on
"It's fine. I can see your point in that, really." Draco, now smiling, decided to change the subject; remaining gentlemanly.
"So, is it Drake?" Hermione smiled, turning to lay eyes on her son.
"Blake," she said with a nod. Knowing Draco's next question, she sighed. "I wish I had as romantic a story to tell. His father's name is Dustin Broadrick. He was a wizard... but he went to an American school. I thought I loved him. We got engaged... but, then I got pregnant... and he left. Without a goodbye, I just woke up one morning... all his stuff was there, but he was gone, and so was my engagement ring."
"I'm sorry..." Hermione laughed.
"Don't be. I'm glad, now. Blake saved me from making a potentially serious mistake. I don't even want to think about what would have happened, had I married him." She shook her head. "And I wouldn't trade Blake for anything."
"He seems like a good kid," Draco said and Hermione smiled.
"It was Blake who found Erilyn... he thought she was cat," she stated, semi- awkwardly, and Draco laughed softly. There was a brief silence, which was much less awkward than the previous few. "Do you ever have people talk about you... when you're out with her, or just walking around?" Draco chuckled.
"No. Do you?" She nodded.
"In multiple languages. There was a Spanish woman who blatantly called me 'as easy as a spicy cocker spaniel' the other day when I had both of them with me."
"Can't say I've ever been insulted quite so creatively, with or without
"Consider yourself lucky."
"Do you ever wonder... what you're going to do when they get older? I mean... she'll be into boys and clothes... I'll be so lost and confused," he said, laughing. Hermione nodded.
"I do. But I'm sure I would be anyway," she pointed out and they shared a smile. "I've still got Harry, though... if I really get desperate." Draco nodded.
"Hannah Abbott. She was good friends with Mandy... she's been like
"Really?" Draco nodded. "Well, if I'd known that..."
"What do you mean?"
"Well... when I found
"I told her not to tell him." Hermione lifted an eyebrow. "I was raving mad... and incredibly stupid."
"Had you not have done that, or I not have done THAT... you'd have had her back that evening," she mused, watching the children play. Draco tilted his head toward her, smirking.
"In a twisted sense... I think it might be better this way." Hermione lifted an eyebrow. "Lynn loves you..." he explained. "And I don't much mind you either." Hermione smiled, blushing slightly and turning away.
"I think I could say the same of you."
A/N: I do not own Harry Potter.