Balaur

BY : T-W-O
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female > Draco/Hermione
Dragon prints: 23165
Disclaimer: I own nothing of HP nor do I profit in any way from these missives. I almost own the laptop I'm writing this fanfic on, tho'.

Descending the steps to the Burrow before first light required stealth. Her magic, always an anchor when life got dicey and dangerous, betrayed her now and she knew better than to apparate in the crooked building lest she re-materialize in a wall — or worse, in the room Ron and Harry shared these past three months. The Weasleys took solace in her insistence on returning to Hogwarts to complete her education. When the Order rescued her, that had been her intent. But wars never end neatly; at their end one discovers that some friends are friends, some friends are cowards, some enemies are arch enemies while other enemies…

 

Her signature planning skills still worked, logic kindly not abandoning her after her capture and ordeal, and her ability to shove warehouse loads of book and belongings into small purses meant she’d not have to impose on Minerva McGonagall for access to her trunks. All this she gave silent thanks for as her foot touched down solidly on the main floor of a place that could’ve been home but for the war and Voldemort. Her plan, because Hermione Granger always had a plan, returned her to England in ten years or so. The trials should be over by then — legal and emotional — and the pressure to disgorge her life for others to pick through would be gone… hopefully. Her focus on those thoughts distracted her enough to miss the sympathetic gaze aimed her way from the no-longer elongated dining table.

 

“I wanted to say goodbye before you left.”

 

Molly Weasley closed the small distance between them to warmly embrace her adopted daughter.

 

“I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You’re leaving before the others start knocking about. Haven’t eaten a morning meal in two weeks. I understand, dear.”

“How did you know?” the startled and shamed Gryffindor asked tearfully as she allowed herself to be steered to the more comfortable sofa near the front door.

“Come now, Hermione. I’m a mother seven times. I’m guessing it’s not Ronald’s child. No…,” Molly whispered not unkindly, “you’d not feel compelled to leave if Ron were the father. Were you raped, child?”

 

The brains of the trio considered this — was taking her unwilling body, each time Greyback threatened to rape her, mercy? Did his restraint — never taking unless Greyback or another Death Eater approached her first — prove he’d done what he could to protect her, fully accepting what was happening to her at his doing? Did keeping his parents alive balance out the grievous impact he’d made on her life?

 

“N-N-No…,” she shuddered at the nightmare images in her mind, “if not for him, Greyback would have gladly defiled me.”

“He was your first?”

 

Staring at her hands, Hermione plotted how to apparate away from that question, from the reality that no man would have her unblemished and she’d never give a husband her first child.

 

“You should tell Ronald, dear. I know he can be a bit of a hothead but deep down he loves you and would accept the child.”

“Not this one. He will look like his father and Ron will hate him. And me.”

 

The experienced mother considered this as she rubbed tight, soothing circles into the young mother-to-be’s tension stiffened back.

 

“Give him time. Keep your plans open for a return. I have something for you,” Molly called out as she rose and made her way to that impossible ancient cupboard that held the Weasley’s only dishes. A drawer slid open with less noise than its age justified and a small burlap bag met Molly halfway to her destination. She returned to the sofa to place the bag in Hermione’s shaking hands.

“Wh-Wh-What’s this?”

 

The bag clinked lightly upon settling.

 

“The twins ‘borrowed’ 1000 galleons from Harry to open the shop — which Harry would never allow them to repay. This is…”

 

The hitch in Molly’s voiced stayed her words. Not two moths had passed since Fred’s death in the war and since the realization hit that George’s very existence would always remind Molly of who was missing.

 

“I told George that I would make sure Fred’s half of the money went to good use.”

“You didn’t tell him!?”

 

A comforting smile accompanied the pats of Hermione’s shaking hands.

 

“No, dear. I won’t speak of it until you do. Take this —”

 

Hermione twice tried to force the bag back onto Molly’s lap, ashamed that she’d become a charity case to a family with so little themselves.

 

“Take this, Hermione. It will be some time before you find work without your NEWTs and you’ll need more time away to care for that child after its birth. 500 galleons [£2500] will keep you both from poverty and keep my silence.”

 

Finally able to look at her surrogate mother, Hermione bathed in the accepting smile she found.

 

“One last thing —” and with a flourish Molly waved her wand across Hermione’s wrists and in front of her flat belly. On the wall of the kitchen two new names appeared on the clock that announced every hour the welfare of everyone Molly and Arthur cared for: “Hermione” and “Balaur”, the latter’s name disillusioned from anyone without knowledge of Hermione’s war wound.

 

Neither woman — for, indeed, the war made Hermione a woman well before she’d expected to be one — noted the shimmer on the stairs, indicating an observer hidden under the remaining useful Hallows of the Peverell brothers.

 


 

The letters lay adjacent to the plates after Molly set the table. One for herself and Arthur, one each for her sons and daughter. One for Harry and one for Ron. The last were the thickest.

 

Before stepping into muggle London for what might be the last time, Hermione detoured to Gringotts to withdraw half her meager savings and to rent owls to deliver her last two missives: one to Headmistress McGonagall and one to her child’s father. 

 

Thanks to Molly’s misleading promise, Hermione need not have explained her withdrawal to her favorite teacher; Molly and Minerva feared this outcome when she’d been captured and prepared accordingly. A fortnight after Hermione’s rescue, Molly went straight to Dumbledore’s portrait with her suspicions. Thus the 100 galleons Hermione’s passbook indicated as a balance grew to 25000 galleons [£125,000] within 3 weeks of her safe return, a gift and an apology from the portrait of Albus Dumbledore for stealing her childhood year after year. The stunned Gryffindor would have protested longer but muggle transportation in Britain waited for no one and she, as the cliche went, had a plane to catch. The goblins held no love for the only vault thief to ever make it into and out of their institution alive — not to mention stealing a fully-trained watch-dragon. Griphook (the only teller who would service her transaction) grunted and snarled his way through her transfer of funds to the bank branch in her new locale; her account balance qualified her for her own vault.

 

The more important owl winged its way to Wiltshire carrying an explanation, a release and a gift. The theft of her childhood in steady doses since she’d helped Harry break the law by helping Sirius, prepared Hermione to move through her current situation with less angst than most not-yet 18 years olds would. Voldemort caused many wars to be fought simultaneously — wars between ethnic groups, wars between classes, wars between magicals and non-magicals and wars within families. Sitting in Heathrow with her nausea-taming salt biscuits, Hermione considered the trade of her innocence for the lives of a family. Did they deserve to die out when a solution lay at hand? Did his actions, given her unwillingness to betray the Order, save her life? As she boarded a plane, not for the States but for a small town on the eastern side of the continent, the pragmatic war victim reinforced her pretense that it was all behind her.

 

Back at the Burrow, shock and frustration worked its way round the rectangular table.

 

“Molly — do you know anything about this?” Arthur Weasley asked in an apprehensive timber as he waved his personal letter at her.

 

Hermione’s demeanor as the days after the war moved on could not be mistaken for “getting over it” and Arthur knew it. 

 

“Luv, leave it for now. She’s been with Harry at every step. She’s muggle-born —”

“What’s that got to do with it!?” Ron shouted at his mother.

“Don’t take that tone with me, Ronald Bilius Weasley, or you’ll vomit slugs until you find yourself in N.E.W.T. classes at Hogwarts. She’s had no preparation for the ways of the magical world. The first magical fairy tale Hermione read turned out to be real and deadly. She needs time away to get her bearings. Leave her be; she’s on the clock now — you can see to her that way. And the same goes for you, Harry James Potter. Tuck that hero’s cape of yours in your trunk and leave her alone. She’ll contact us all, I’m sure, in her own time.”

 

Levitating plates of sausages and eggs to the table, Mother Weasley pretended not to see the angry expressions or the sadness. Nor did she acknowledge Harry’s tears or Ginny’s lack of surprise at the news of Hermione’s disappearance.

 

In the dining hall at Malfoy Manor, three uneasy wizards picked at their gourmet meals, unaware of the bomb winging its way to them on vellum soft enough to diaper a baby. Having spent the summer thus far under house arrest or in court, the tenuous hold on civility and decorum each feigned required maximal effort to sustain. 

 

Lucius Malfoy awaited trial. The “worst” of Voldemort’s followers would be tried last. Lucius accepted this inevitability with style and trepidation: hosting the worst evil ever known to Britain probably qualified him for such treatment.

 

Three week ago Narcissa escaped Azkaban’s clutches with six months supervised probation when Harry Potter testified (at Hermione’s urgings) that Lady Malfoy (née Black) had lied to the strongest Legillimens known to the wizarding world and saved his life. The transcript of the Savior’s testimony, printed word for word in the Quibbler and the Prophet, flipped public sentiment almost instantly. Instead of the haughty, pure-blood supremacist, Britain’s magical citizens saw a mother desperate to save her family yet unwilling to sacrifice the Chosen One to do so. 

 

Turning the tide of sentiment saved Draco’s life; the public held little sympathy for junior Death Eaters — not after a 19-year-old Marcus Flint declared himself “Toujour Pur” while standing atop the defendant’s table in the Wizengamot and set himself on fire when his verdict was handed down. In a closed trial (because he’d been underaged during the war), classified testimony — kept secret to protect the witnesses — filled in the gaps about “What Draco did during the war”. In the end, Draco’s complete absence of arrogance and apparently genuine remorse earned him three years probation supervised by the first of the Ministry’s new hires — house elves with no families to work for or who were emancipated during the war by Order members. To Draco’s right, at a small table for his use, Kreacher — formerly a possession of the Black family and Harry Potter — ate his lunch; his partner Peepers slept in Draco’s suite until his own shift came due in seven hours. At no time since the trial had Draco been truly alone; close to 36 months lay ahead before he could be.

 

As was his responsibility, Kreacher intercepted the owl that rocketed towards Draco and retrieved the letter. Tasting a small piece of each page, Draco’s probation officer confirmed that no poisons had been used. By the last page, he knew he needn’t have bothered. Kreacher lived with Hermione Granger for months during the war; she’d never harm someone indirectly. The Black family’s former house elf’s attempts to rid her from his beloved Grimmauld Place failed to provoke unkindness from her. In the end he’d grudgingly respected her as someone of special breeding (if not quite the quality of a pure-blood). Whatever the letter said (and he hadn’t read it as he tasted it) would upset the Malfoy household again. Tumult seemed to be scheduled daily.

 

“For you, young sir,” the little elf announced formally despite their relative positions; Kreacher controlled Draco now, not the reverse.

“Thank you,” the young man spoke absently while he unfolded a very long letter written in shaky script.

“Draco?…” his mother enquired.

 

Flipping impatiently to the last page, Draco confirmed his worst fears.

 

“It’s from Hermione Granger.”

 

Twisting out of his chair the Malfoy heir apparated to his suite to read the correspondence privately, Kreacher on his heels.

 

Stretching out on the divan adjacent to his bedroom fireplace, Draco unfolded the sheets again and began…

 

Dear Draco,

I’ve composed this letter many times in my head and yet I find myself shaking as I write. The war is not yet over for me as you’ll understand shortly. I’m leaving Britain, possibly for good, but I wanted to clear the air between us. I owe you my life, a debt I can never repay, and I wanted to let you know that I see the “other” Draco within you and hope you’ll get to know him better.

First, thank you for not identifying me when we were captured with Griphook and for not letting Greyback violate me. The Order forced Veritaserum on Dolohov to get information on my whereabouts and he revealed Voldemort’s intent to have that horrid werewolf turn me. He also said you “volunteered” — I believe his words were “never seen a young’un so grim about puttin’ it to a nice piece of ass like Granger”. You didn’t want to do it. Despite the location and the audience, you were very gentle. I avoided most of the injuries found on rape victims but you didn’t escape them — make no mistake, Draco; you were raped by Voldemort just as I was. You were forced to have sex with me. That’s what I testified to at your trial.

You’re not supposed to know this, but your father fought to keep you from taking the mark — until they threatened to turn your mother into a pure-blood Death Eater breeding factory. Voldemort had Snape investigating muggle infertility treatments to increase the chances of twins or triplets in pure-blood families after the war. There’s no doubt, according to Dumbledore’s portrait, that Molly and Ginny would’ve met the same fate as me had the Dark Lord won. When your father didn’t immediately present you, your aunt Imperious’d you both and you were initiated. That’s why you have no clear memory of your branding; it only comes out in your nightmares.

I dread telling you this but I dread you finding out and confronting me when I’m least prepared. I’m pregnant; a bit beyond two months by the time you get this letter. 

I struggled for weeks with what to do until I saw you in court. You’re as much a casualty of the war as I am. I decided this baby doesn’t deserve to die because it was conceived without the consent of either parent. I’m well aware you’d never have consented to having a child with me so I’m taking the baby somewhere far from the Malfoy name and influence. When you marry and have an heir, you need not worry that our “dirty little bastard” will pop up to ruin your new start in life. I would never hurt you in that manner. This letter formally releases you from all parental and financial responsibility. There’s no need for communications between us except in the most extreme situations. In the event of my death you will be notified of the child’s location and key details of our life; it’s your choice whether to do anything with that knowledge. Molly and Arthur Weasley have been named godparents and will have custody if I die.

I want you to know I harbor no ill will against you, Draco. What happened between — and to — us is part of war. I will always be grateful that you chose to protect me despite our differences — not that it’s necessary, but I forgive you and I insist you forgive yourself. I heard you screaming on those nights when you fell asleep next to me. Your life these last few years has held far more danger than mine. This child is not so awful an outcome that I would hate you for it. It’s a reminder that I’m still human and still alive, thanks to you. When you awake in terror, please know that there is someone who forgives and thanks you for being your better self when it mattered.

I wish you well as your life moves on. I hope your family finds peace and healing in the new wizarding world.

Hermione Granger

 

Three attempts to hurl this latest disaster into his fireplace failed because his magic wouldn’t allow it. A stare at his own palm told him Hermione carried a son — the magical birthmark indicating an heir had been conceived added one more scar to a body he glamoured every day. The slight “M” near the junction of his thumb would soon broadcast to his parents that the Malfoys no longer remained “Toujour Pur”.

 



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