Chapter 13: His Halfblood Heir

Disclaimer: The copyright to Harry Potter characters belong to J. K. Rowling. Any other characters are purely work of fiction and any resemblance is co-incidental. No money or profit is being earned from this writing.

Chapter 12: His Half-Blood Heir

What would be Hermione Granger’s answer if someone asked what was the best moment of her life so far?

The day she, Harry and Ron, with the helps and sacrifices of many others, finally succeeded in defeating Lord Voldemort and saved the Wizarding world from submitting to a tyrant?

The night all her sacrifices paid off and she became a mother?

When Adrian, with his teeny-tiny hands touched Hermione’s face and in a slightly muffled voice, called her ‘mama’ for the first time?

Or the day the toddler first stood up, holding Hermione’s index finger and took a few tottering steps beside his overjoyed mother?

If the question was asked before tonight, Hermione would have opted for the second one: the day Adrian was born and she became a mother from a woman. But after tonight, when the announcement, ‘And winner is Adrian Thomas Granger! Son of Mademoiselle Granger!’ echoed across the Ball Room, the answer would inevitable be, this moment, the moment her son, her five and half year old son won the grand prize of the ‘Drawing for Charity’ competition.

The Ball Room of the Palace Hotel was full of children, their parents, press and media even before it was seven o’clock. Fearing that Adrian might get stampeded by the bigger folks, Edmound had ridden him on his shoulders, keeping him way above the normal visual field. Hermione, after her special treatment of unruly curls and donning her lilac robes that Adrian so much favoured, had arrived at the Ball Room with Adrian and the rest of her company, at ten minutes to seven o’clock. She wasn’t expecting her son might win or that it mattered if he didn’t win. Adrian had participated in that competition purely for the love of drawing, not for the love of fame, glory or prize money. Hermione, therefore, stationed themselves, with extreme difficulty in the furthest end of the Ball Room, with a good view of the dais and the judges, looking forward to enjoy the Prize Giving Ceremony and nothing else. But when the announcement came, the Hall, she and everyone around her, became very quiet.

‘Adrian Thomas Granger? Son of Mademoiselle Granger?’ Hermione frowned, trying hard to comprehend what those words meant. Was Sir Thomas talking about her son ‘Adrian’? And was Mademoiselle Granger actually she, ‘Hermione Granger’? Or was it some other Granger who had a son by the name of Adrian? But that would be too much of a co-incidence if that happened, wouldn’t it?

“Mama, look! The boy who won has my name. Adrian!” Hermione’s Adrian commented happily; for a being so young and innocent, he was unable to comprehend the full magnitude of what that announcement meant. He too was here to draw, help the orphans and make his Mama proud.

Hermione, obviously, couldn’t remark. It seemed that in those ten seconds of her life, the Brightest Witch of her Age has somehow become the biggest moron.

It was Edmound who recovered the shock of the weird announcement first.

“No, Adrian!” he exclaimed suddenly and startled those who were around him. “The boy doesn’t have your name! The boy is you, Adrian! The boy is YOU! Adrian Thomas Granger!” he cried and clapped hard.

His words caused mixed reactions from the ladies. Both Eva and Gabrielle clapped over their mouths, their features showing no less shock than Hermione’s did. But when the crowd around them, following Edmound’s enthusiastic and rhythmic claps, started putting their hands together, Hermione was brought to her senses: her son, Adrian, indeed, has won the competition. There was no other Granger in this Ball Room with a son named Adrian. Sir Thomas was referring to her son, Adrian.

“Adrian and Jean Granger, please come up on the stage to collect your prize.” The second announcement by Sir Thomas put an end to all their confusions and taking Adrian in her shaking arms, with a heart full of emotions that she didn’t know herself, Hermione made her way through the throng of crowd for the raised dais, amid the blinding flashes of cameras and thundering applause.

“Mama, did I win?” Adrian piped, still in a state of disbelief. His eyes were round and full of innocent curiosity.

“Yes, little rabbit, you won.” Hermione’s own voice sounded shaky and foreign to her ears when she replied with a smile. The distance between their seats and the dais wasn’t long. But in such state, when the entire room was craning their necks, leaving their seats to have a better view of the winner of ten thousand galleons and reporters were barring their way to take as many photos of the winner as possible, the walk seemed too long, almost never ending. Hermione shielded her son’s delicate eyes from the light of flashguns and after what seemed like ages they reached the stage. With the confidence of a Gryffindor, she climbed up the few steps and walked past the row of judges, to the man who stood on the forefront, Sir Thomas Cooper.

The winning drawing has been propped on an easel and magnified for the better view of the audiences. People were already admiring the subtle artwork of a five year old boy. Hermione stood before it with Adrian, finally able to see how he had drawn them from his imagination. What she saw, made her speechless for a very long time.

Even the biggest enemy Hermione had could never blame her of being an avid critic of art. Paris with its numerous museums and art galleries didn’t hold more value to her than an old book shop or Flourish and Blotts. It was books that talked to her, not paintings. Brush strokes, colours, pallets, and canvases never held more appeal to her than a thick tome of good book, with its old and yellowed pages and the musty smell it emanated.

But tonight was different. Tonight, her son, her five and a half year old son, has won a Drawing competition and Hermione, though she didn’t understand the ‘A’ of art, upon seeing Adrian’s winner drawing of two rabbits, the larger one protecting the smaller who snuggled against it, realized what he had meant when he said that he has drawn them from his imagination.

In a way, Adrian has drawn them together: mother rabbit protecting her little rabbit. He got the idea from her addressing of him as little rabbit during their breakfast that morning.

Hermione didn’t know how to express her mixed feelings. When she smiled, it was of joy, joy that her son has won such a prestigious competition. But she cried too, tears blinding her vision momentarily, for she missed her parents terribly; Mr. and Mrs. Granger surely would have clapped the hardest on their grandson’s success had they been here tonight. But above everything, Hermione felt grateful, that she was granted this little piece of happiness in the name of Adrian. She kissed him again and again and again, her vision blur from tears of happiness and misery, just to make sure that he was there and it was all real. Adrian, too, sensed his mother’s need of him and clung to her. The little boy was happy to make his mother proud, as he had wanted.

“This is my little rabbit, Adrian!” Hermione cried, pointing at the little rabbit in the drawing. All around them, flushes were clicking relentlessly, making the dais as bright as the daylight. “And this is his mother, this is me!” her voice failed her, “Jean Granger.”

Hermione, her heart tender from love and affection for Adrian, hugged him protectively, making them look just like the drawing depicted them as. They were here, together and Adrian has won. Could life be more beautiful? She wanted this moment to last forever and ever and ever.

“Mademoiselle Granger,” Hermione heard one of judges approaching their crying and smiling pair with caution. It was Sir Thomas Cooper, the English judge who shared names with Hermione’s father and son. “Please don’t keep the boy all to yourself. We are waiting.” He chided, showing her the long line of judges waiting patiently for their winner.

“Yes, allow us a minute too.” Sir Anton, the Belgian judge, supported his colleague. The old man was very lively and seemed having the time of his life here. “We will return him safely to your well protected arms once we are done.” He added with a playful wink and the crowd laughed. Hermione nodded and wiping her tears, set her son on the ground. Somehow, she was grateful that no one enquired where the boy’s father was or why she was Mademoiselle Granger instead of Madame Granger.

“Behave like a gentleman, just as I have taught you.” She instructed Adrian, “Shake hands, little rabbit, be polite and address them as ‘Sir’. Okay?”

“Okay.” The little boy, his innocent eyes still round and watering from the bright light of camera flashes, nodded and after Hermione, smiling approvingly, smoothed his robes and silvery-blonde curls and nudged him to the waiting judges, he gave her one last nervous smile before approaching them.

•••••

How Jacob Jordeans aka Polyjuiced Draco Malfoy came to stand beside Pieter Bruegel he didn’t know. Following the revelation of Adrian’s mother – Jean’s true identity, he was in such a state that he couldn’t recollect which pair of legs carried his body to its current position.

He watched as Hermione Granger, his most favourite Mudblood and Adrian, the boy he has hunted down for days and nights, came upon the stage and walked past him to Sir Thomas. There they saw the winning and meaningful painting and the woman kissed her son like a dying woman’s last resort. Draco was standing with the other judges who waited patiently for the winner to be freed from his mother’s protective embrace and receive his prize. He watched the pair as Hermione finally released Adrian, smoothed his robes and hair before allowing him to approach the judges.

Sir Thomas was the first on their row followed by Sir Anton, Pieter, himself, his aunt Audré and Henri Matisse. Adrian tottered a few steps forwards, as cautious as a timid little rabbit would, unaware of what to expect from his elders. His innocent grey eyes were wide in curiosity and fear; he gulped once as he reached Sir Anton, a man four times his size, and faced him as boldly as he could. Draco couldn’t help himself admire Adrian’s nervous bravery.

Sir Thomas bent down and sporting a wide and kind smile, shook hands with Adrian. He praised the boy’s work and asked him where he had learned it. Draco couldn’t hear what the little boy whispered into the veteran judge’s ears but Sir Thomas seemed satisfied with the answer. He then, to a hall full of thundering tumult of applause and blinding flashes of cameras, handed Adrian a gold trophy. It was shaped like a rabbit holding a brush under its front paw, the real time symbol of the winner. Adrian received it with a tiny nod of thanks, looked at his mother who nodded approvingly, and approached the next judge on line, Sir Anton.

The crowd laughed when Anton lifted the boy on his shoulders and together with Pieter, the man standing next to him, posed for the cameras, proudly. Adrian yelped, startled, but somehow recovered the shock when his mother assured him that it was okay. When he was put down on the ground and patted amply on the back, the little boy, with a pitiful tender sight, balanced the rabbit trophy on one hand and with the other, smoothed his hair and robe.

Draco held his breath. He was next.

In less than two steps his son came to stand before him and Draco, his moment of glory finally achieved and the darkness of past somehow forgotten, knelt down to level himself with Adrian.

Time stopped, noise faded, people disappeared from his sight as Draco finally sat before Adrian. This boy, this extremely gifted little boy, who looked exactly like his father, was his son mothered by Hermione Granger. His son with Granger, with the woman he had spent hating better part of his life? Merlin! Who would believe that? Draco couldn’t believe his eyes, his ears, his senses, even his heart which was beating so fast. But there was no denying that Adrian was his son, that in those veins ran a blood that was purer than the purest, the Malfoy Blood. Surely it would counteract the presence of a lesser blood, the Mudblood’s blood, the Granger’s blood.

That being settled, there were so many things Draco wanted to do with Adrian: hug him, kiss him, talk to him, laugh with him, play with him and make him feel protected in his embrace just like Granger did; but he could do none. Instead he stared at him, transfixed and finally extended a trembling hand to shake hands with him.

“Merci, Sir.” Adrian piped in a dignified voice and took his bigger hand into his smaller one.

His voice was tender, lively and as innocent as his eyes, Draco noted. His warm hand felt like a small soft cushion and Draco feared that his masculine rough hand might hurt it just by mere touch. Careful not to cause any pain, he held Adrian’s hand delicately and asked him how he felt about winning the prize, simply to hear his sweet little voice again.

“I am happy that I could help the children of the orphanage.” Adrian replied, smiling broadly and the last thread of Draco’s restraint broke. He pulled the boy into a tight embrace and inhaled deeply in his enchanting scent.

He was so small, so fragile, so soft yet so alive for such a tiny being. Draco wanted to merge him with his body, feel his innocent soul and touch his tiny heart beating against his firm chest. Adrian was his son and he was lost in him. The boy has finally quenched the thirst of a father’s heart for a son.

With extreme difficulty Draco released Adrian after a moment and gestured him towards the other judges, feeling resentful. He stood up and gave his attention to the boy’s mother, Hermione Granger. So this was Jean Granger?

Jean was wearing a lilac coloured dress robe with pale golden trimming around the edges of cuffs and collar. She did not look like the bushy, brown, know-it-all she used to on her school days at Hogwarts. Instead, Draco noted, she looked mature and strong, as a woman would, with motherhood bestowing its gift upon her. Her brown eyes shone in pride and joy as she watched Adrian met the judges one by one and Draco could not help but feel extremely jealous, as he always did when that Mudblood beat him in every subject, be it exams or homeworks.

It was Hermione’s turn to shake hands with the judges and leave the stage behind her son. With a last glance at the winning drawing, she started shaking hands with the judges, first Sir Thomas, then Sir Anton, one by one, smiling and made her way across the stage. Within a minute she was standing before him.

Draco, in all honesty, didn’t feel like shaking hands with a Mudblood, most importantly the Mudblood he had raped. That was a past he has, with extreme difficulty, been able to bury deep inside his heart. Besides, the only emotion apart from jealously that Hermione Granger has always been able to produce in him was: anger.  Oh how he hated this woman! How she always made him angry and jealous! Draco controlled his temper with extreme difficulty. He was Jacob Jordeans here, not Draco Malfoy and if he didn’t shake hands with her, it would look very rude.

Draco, his features as somber as possible in such a situation, and his heart beating in his throat, offered Hermione his right hand. He fixed his glare directly with her brown pairs, trying so dominate her by it.

He knew that he did not look like Draco, but something in his attitude must have warned Hermione because the light in her laughing brown eyes faded. She looked down at Draco’s extended hand and looked up at him. Then with a small smile and an almost inaudible ‘thank you’ she moved to meet his aunt Audré without caring to shake his hand.

Draco fisted the unaccepted hand and returned it to his pocket, trying to appear as disdainful as possible. By offering her his hand, a Malfoy like him jeopardized his supremacy and the Mudblood, just like their last time, didn’t do well by not accepting it. Hermione Granger! That woman was still full of pride that didn’t suit her and needed to be shown her proper place.

•••••

Hermione always trusted instincts and the way famous painter and one of the judges of the competition, Jacob Jordeans, glared at her, it sent a cold shiver down her spine. She has already seen him hugging her son like a dying man’s last embrace to his beloved and certainly did not like it. Her son was way too good looking and attracted unwanted attention everywhere she took him. The boy might be oblivious to his charm, but his mother was not. Hermione knew well enough about the ‘Evil Eye’ and did not want her son to be on the receiving end of such a malevolent glare. Her suspicions on the painter’s motive solidified as she faced him confidently and looked straight to his eyes. They were intense and burning – trying to reach for her soul.

There was something else there; something that she could not identify but guessed might be a deep sense jealousy and anger. For a split second she wondered why the painter would be jealous of Hermione. Was it because she was Adrian’s mother? Or was it something else? Trying hard not to frown or arch an authoritative eyebrow, Hermione looked down at his hands and the odd way he was offering it to her – like the tentacle of a Devil’s Snare and thought better to avoid it. Instead she thanked him coldly before moving to the next person on the row.

Once the pleasantries were over, Hermione took Adrian in her arms. She hid Adrian’s face in her bosom, left the stage and walked briskly to the company she had brought earlier, wishing to put as much distance as possible between them and the painter.

“This means celebration!” Edmound whistled and shouldered his way through the crowd. He, Eva and Gabrielle were trying to protect Hermione and Adrian, from onslaught of people who were trying to ask the little boy questions about his drawing.

Mademoiselle Granger! Mademoiselle Granger!” one female reporter in bright acid green robes and peacock feather adorned witch’s hat squeaked, trying hard to catch Hermione’s attention. “Can you please tell us why the boy’s father isn’t present with you tonight?”

“Yes! Let’s go and celebrate.” Hermione did not trouble to reply the reporter’s query about Adrian’s father’s absence. She could feel the painter’s sharp eyes boring holes at her back even across the vast Ball Room and with the help of a group of Aurors who shoved the eager reporters away she made her away to the door, hastily.

•••••

“What are you going to do to Jean once you find the boy, Draco?”

“I don’t know.”

“You sure you don’t know anyone by the name of Jean?”

“Yes, aunt, I am sure. We didn’t have anyone by that name in entire Hogwarts. I am not the kind who’d get drunk and bang any woman in that state. I never cheated on Astoria, I swear on my dead sons and wife. Besides, Adrian is five or six. That means he was conceived during or after the War. My father was alive at that time and you know what a great French lover he is, aunt. Do you think he would pat me on my back and say ‘son, you did well’ if I slept with a Frenchwoman?”

“I just don’t know how that blasted woman did it without my knowledge! It’s impossible! How can she take my seed, impregnate herself and I, the father of the baby, didn’t catch an air all this year? What is she planning to do with my son? Is it a conspiracy against the Malfoys? Does she want to claim our money using Adrian? Or ask for a compensation? Or defame me?”

“And winner is…Adrian Thomas Granger! Son of Mademoiselle Granger!”

“This is my little rabbit, Adrian! And this is his mother, this is me, Jean Granger!”

When Draco followed Hermione and Adrian out the Ball Room, as if on trance, these words were ringing inside his head like the bells of a mental asylum. He saw the man, a brunette with strong muscular arms and kind features that somehow resembled Eva’s, to take Adrian from Hermione’s arms and leave the hotel carrying him on his shoulders, as a father, as he would have in this situation. The Aurors made sure they were not followed by reporters and press and after their group disappeared into the darkness of night, Draco, not even caring to bid farewell to the other judges, left for his suite.

How his legs carried him back to his suite, Draco didn’t know. Neither did he notice when his aunt had followed him inside.

“Draco, give me Jacob’s robe.” He heard a woman’s voice from his right. Perplexed, Draco followed it and found Audré standing beside him, looking very calm.

“Who is Jacob?” He asked her.

“Never you mind, Draco.” Audré held out her hand, looking patient, “Just take off the robe you are wearing.”

Not feeling like arguing, Draco complied and handed the robe to Audré, who immediately left for his bedroom. He, alone with his turbulent thoughts, slumped on the nearest seat and hid his face in his hands.

His thoughts? He rubbed his forehead wearily. What were his thoughts exactly?

What was his thought when he saw Hermione aka ‘Jean’ Granger?

What was his thought when he realized that she was Adrian’s mother?

What was his thought when he realized how Adrian was conceived?

And what was he left to deal with now?

In all honesty, as Draco has already admitted before his aunt, he had no answer. During the ceremony he was distracted by Adrian’s constant presence, keeping him from properly thinking about the magnitude of seriousness of the issue. Now that he was alone, all those thoughts broke loose and engulfed him.

It couldn’t be true! This was not happening to him!

That boy was born from violence?

And mothered by Hermione Granger, of all the people?

Her? Her!

Potter’s sidekick?

A Mudblood?

Draco shook his head in horror and leaned against the chair he was occupying. Mudblood or not he was never in favour of rape as a torture. But that Mudblood was an exceptional case. She had tried to kill his Pureblood mother with her own wand. She had taken her hostage and threatened to kill her. Draco still shuddered at the thought of what might have occurred had he not attacked her from behind and subdued her. He was filled with so much rage that he did not think twice before beating her mercilessly and violating her.

Granger deserved to be learned her place as a Mudblood – he had thought later. There was no need to justify his actions: he was uncontrollably angry with her and she was a Mudblood – two very basic reasons behind his actions.

But every action had a reaction and today the reaction of his past action had fallen on him: Adrian.

That innocent boy who looked just like Draco!

That boy for whom he had searched desperately, using his time, money, power, using everything he still had.

What was he supposed to do now? Take him or leave him?

“Well the answer is simple, Draco. Don’t you know?” a cold drawl asked and Draco looked up at its direction, startled.

“Father?” he whispered, breathless.

Lucius Malfoy, the ever proud man with flowing silvery blonde hair, was occupying the seat across him, looking cold and arrogant. Draco blinked. His father was dead. Then how come he was here?

“I came to help you Draco.” Lucius replied calmly, his grey eyes boring on Draco’s grey pair, who didn’t know when the last vestige of the Polyjuice Potion has left him.

“What help?” Draco asked, perplexed.

“I have noticed, for some time now, that you are wasting your precious time in the company of unworthy people.” Lucius crossed his long legs, looking very disappointed. “I am very displeased with your mother, Draco. Out of all the people in this world, she chose that French courtesan to visit for summer?” he shook his head in evident disbelief, “And you? First that French tramp and now this bastard? How dare you spend ten thousand galleons on that piece of shit?”

Draco left his seat, shaking from head to toe in fury. “Father, this is my money and I’ll spend it the way I please!” He bellowed at Lucius, “Aunt Audré is not a tramp! Not a courtesan! And Adrian is not a bastard and certainly not a piece of shit!”

“Pray tell me then, my dear son who inherited my money, what are they?” Lucius challenged.

Draco fisted his hands. “Aunt Audré is an honourable woman and Adrian is my son.” He replied, seething.

“Indeed! An honourable tramp and a bastard son?” Lucius gave a mirthless laugh, “What a nice company for a Malfoy such as yourself!”

“He’s not a bastard, father! ADRIAN IS NOT A BASTARD!” Draco screamed in agony. Who was he trying to make believe that an illegitimate child was not a bastard? Him or his father?

“Then what is he considering what you did to his mother?” Lucius asked, looking highly amused and authoritative.

Draco faltered under his direct enquiry but regained his confidence immediately. “He has my blood in his veins. He is my heir.” He declared firmly. “Adrian. Is. My. Heir.”

“Are you out of your bloody mind, Draco?” Lucius snarled, “That bastard piece of shit is a Half-Blood. And a rape child. Twice contaminated.” He looked extremely disgusted at the idea, as if he would vomit on the rug. “If you are so desperate for an heir, Draco, I suggest that you marry a Pureblood witch and procreate a pureblood heir. Don’t even think about polluting our noble blood line. We have preserved its purity for a thousand years and you have no rights to defile it by the kinds of that bastard rape child. Leave him and let that Mudblood to raise him.”

But Draco was not listening. He has made up his mind finally. He drew himself to his full height and faced his father defiantly.

“You’ll leave this instant, Lucius Malfoy.” he pointed at the door, firmly. “And will never return again in my thoughts. I want Adrian. I need Adrian. And I’ll go to any end, take any measure to get him and make him mine.” he said determinedly. “He’s my heir and I won’t let your ridiculous ideas to get on my way.”

Lucius smiled at Draco, looking extremely entertained, “You’ll not succeed.” He announced, not caring to leave his seat.

Draco looked down at those cold grey eyes. “Don’t challenge my abilities, father. You have very little idea of what I am capable of when desperate.” he replied boldly.

Lucius arched an eyebrow and when Draco opened his eyes after a second-long blink, he was gone, neither in his thoughts nor in his suite anymore.

Draco let out a sigh of great relief. The battle between father and son or the battle between his two inner selves was over. He has won, at least for the time being.

He left the sitting room and came to the balcony. Looking down, he saw the last groups of the children and their parents leaving the Palace Hotel at last. A few reporters were still scattered on the hotel premises, stealthily waiting for the winner to return and have his interview. A sound of conversation came from behind; Audré was talking to Jacob Jordeans who looked convinced and confident that he has attended the Drawing Competition and not Draco. Jacob left and Audré after a moment long pensive stare at Draco left behind him. Now he was all alone.

Draco wondered what he would do now that he was determined to have Adrian at all costs. Should he talk to his mother, Hermione Granger?

He discarded the idea immediately. If that woman didn’t shake hands with him when he wasn’t looking like Draco Malfoy, would she welcome him with open arms if he turned up before her, looking like his own self? Certainly, not.

He could ask for Audré’s help. She has already helped him and Draco was starting to rely on her sharp intelligence and observation power. She was a lawyer too and could help him on the legal matters. But there was a problem to it; he would have to explain or better say tell her the truth behind Adrian’s conception and if Draco was guessing it right, it would tarnish him image before Audré. Who would help a rapist to have the son he never cared for?

Draco wondered if he should consult a lawyer and sue Granger. But doing that would create another problem. If Hermione let out that Draco raped her and the boy was born from that act, the press and media would take the opportunity to throw insults after insults on the name of Malfoys. It would reach England eventually and Draco, who still bore the Dark Mark in his left forearm, wasn’t keen to make things worse. Besides, Adrian would hate him once he grew up and realize the truth. It would spoil everything.

That left Draco with the fourth and last option: observing Hermione Granger’s every movement. In a way, it was mandatory because he knew almost nothing about her. The last time he saw her was on the Room of Requirements, during the Battle of Hogwarts when she didn’t tell Potter that Malfoy raped her. Draco certainly didn’t have any complaints on that; most rape victims chose to never disclose that shameful fact for the fear of social stigma and Hermione Granger, no matter how big a Gryffindor she was, couldn’t be an exception. After the war, Draco got married to Astoria and it never occurred to him to enquire or show any kind of curiosity towards that Mudblood until tonight when Adrian, his last living heir, was in her hands.

Draco frowned. The idea that his son was being raised by a Mudblood was abhorring and completely against the Malfoy norms. Besides, who was that man who was carrying Adrian on his shoulders as if he was his son? Granger’s new boyfriend? Husband? Who? Was she sleeping with him before Adrian? Pathetic! Was that woman so much in need of quenching her thirst for physical pleasures? Wasn’t her encounter with Draco enough?

Draco sighed. He had so many questions and it would be foolish to act before he received all his answers. Malfoys were always Slytherins and their emblem being a serpent, they always knew when and how to slither in.

•••••

The posh Muggle restaurant Edmound took the champion, his mother and aunts for a celebration dinner was playing a pleasant music in the background of low buzzing of conversations. The light was ambient and casting a golden glow over everything. Adrian and her friends were happy, the food was delicious and Hermione, after her son unexpectedly won the competition, honestly couldn’t ask for more. Everything was better than she could ever dream.

But there was a cloud, a dark one that was slowly spreading over the sky of her mind. That cloud was Draco Malfoy.

She played with her food, not able to participate on the excited conversation that was going beside her. Adrian was cuddling his rabbit award as if it was a real rabbit and not a gold one; Edmound was asking the waiter to give all the diners a free dessert to celebrate the occasion; Eva and Gabrielle were praising Adrian’s intelligent idea for drawing and how the almond milk allegedly helped it. Hermione sat still, her face blank; that Jacob Jordean’s eyes have stirred something inside her.

Eyes! What did those tell her actually? Hermione rubbed her forehead wearily. For a split moment, when Jacob offered Hermione his hand, she thought it was actually Draco Malfoy and not Jacob Jordeans. Something in her had stopped her from accepting it; as if if she did, she would be sucked by a quicksand.

Hermione had of course shaken off that possibility the next moment. They were in Belgium now and there was no way Draco Malfoy could follow them here. In fact, he didn’t even know that she lived in France with her son that was conceived from an act of extreme violence. He had his pureblood wife and Malfoy life and must have paid a visit to his aunt’s family to see if he could gain something from them. Malfoys were like sharks; they followed the smell of money like sharks followed the trail of blood.

“Jean, you are not eating!” Edmound’s soft chide brought Hermione back to reality and looking down she saw that the lasagna she was eating has turned cold and soggy.

“Mama always tells me to eat. But she doesn’t eat.” Adrian, following his uncle Edmound’s words checked his mother’s plate and complained, pouting his pink lips.

Hermione slapped herself mentally. Why was she ruining her son’s special moment? Why was she always pondering over Draco Malfoy, Draco Malfoy and Draco Malfoy? Couldn’t she give the matter some rest? That monster was her past, not her present. She has left him behind. Just because he was in Gringotts or was visiting his aunt’s place didn’t mean that he was back in Hermione’s life? Then why was she allowing him to haunt her everywhere she went? Why was she mentally torturing herself? Wouldn’t it be a defeat on her part, if she let him to rule her, intimidate her?

“Mama is little rabbit’s mother, Adrian. She is supposed to behave like her son sometimes.” Hermione cheered herself up and smiled broadly. In two minutes, she finished the lasagna and looked expectantly at Edmound.

“Dessert?” she demanded bossily and everyone roared in laughter.

•••••

Ever since he discovered that Adrian had been in the same hotel with him, the only unsolved issue probing Draco’s mind was finding his room. His last attempt was unsuccessful but he didn’t mind. No time was too late for a Malfoy and it was high time for him to take drastic actions to retrieve that particular piece of information from the employees of the Palace Hotel.

Armed with this resolution, Draco visited the manager’s office and was pleased to see that his unsuspecting prey was still there, instructing some of the employees on how to clean the Ball Room properly.

“Monsieur Malfoy! You came at last!” Leopold exclaimed, looking gratified by his presence. “We missed you so much!” he nodded curtly at the men who understood that they were dismissed and left.

Draco watched the hotel workers leave and didn’t comment. He certainly wasn’t going to tell the manager the truth; that he was actually present in the competition, as Jacob Jordeans.

“I am sorry that I couldn’t be present.” He said calmly and took a seat before the manager’s spacious desk. “One of my relatives suddenly fell ill and I had to go to England.”

Leopold tsk’ed in sympathy, “I hope your relative is fine now.” he said, offering Draco a goblet of sparkling champagne, which he waved away. Tonight, he didn’t have time to indulge in such delicacies.

“It was a shame that the benevolent host himself couldn’t be present for the competition he worked so ardently for.” Leopold poured himself with a goblet of champagne, “But I must tell you, Monsieur. It was such an honour to host the competition in our hotel. I am sure it will be on the front pages of every single newspaper tomorrow!” he clapped in delight, as if enthralled by the prospect of more publicity of his hotel. Draco nodded, trying to play along with the manager. He was in his full element tonight. Adrian has given him a purpose to live and now he only needed to act on his plan.

“Aunt told me that the winner couldn’t receive his prize money because I wasn’t present at the ceremony.” Draco said, trying to appear appalled that such blunders could happen in an event arranged by the esteemed Malfoys. “I left in a hurry; so I couldn’t hand it over to her. But for Malfoys nothing is a problem.” He said confidently and retrieved a box from the inside pocket of his robe. He opened the lid purposely and showed its content to Leopold. There were two rectangular gold bars in it, placed perfectly side by side and the manager’s eyes glinted. “These gold bars weigh Seven Thousand Six Hundred and Forty Eight grams, exactly as ten thousand galleons would. “ He stated airily, “I want you to deliver it to the winner first thing tomorrow morning.”

Leopold eyed the gold bars with slight confusion. “Surely Monsieur can…” he started but Draco cut in.

“I believe you remember what my aunt said.” He warned the manager, “We, the Malfoys, believe in silent charity. That was the reason our name was not used for publicity of the competition.”

“Of course, of course, Monsieur.” Leopold nodded vigorously and accepted the box with an air of great care. He closed its lid and left his seat presumably to safe keep the gold bars when Draco executed the second stage of his plan.

“I believe you have strong security around your safe, Monsieur Leopold.” He commented, took out his wand and started twirling it casually. The manager didn’t seem to care that his esteemed guest was suddenly playing with his wand.

“Of course, Monsieur!” Leopold looked slightly astonished that Draco could suggest such a thing. “The Palace Hotel is especially guarded by Aurors from the Ministry of Magic. We serve only the most honorable guests, Heads of States, Ministers of Magic, celebrities, and Quidditch superstars. It’s the most secured building in entire Belgium, after Gringotts.” He stated proudly.

“I see!” Draco commented, “Surely there is no way anyone can break in here through the door or the Floo?”

“Of course not!” Leopold, it seemed was disheartened that his esteemed guest was having difficulty in trusting them with the gold bars. “The doors and fireplaces are highly protected. Even the Room Services are allowed once their identity is checked and passed. We ensure complete safety of our guests. The safe that I keep valuable belongings of the hotel guests is goblin made and is in a room which is under Fidelius Charm. I am its Secret Keeper.” He said with an air of extreme importance, “Rest assured, Monsieur, that these gold bars are safe here.” Leopold reassured Draco.

Draco nodded and looking around the office, noticed open windows. “What about those, Monsieur?” He drew the manager’s attention to the open windows. “What if someone flew in through those?”

“Well the Aurors would spot him right away, won’t they?”Leopold replied, looking confident. “The Quidditch pitch is on the other side of the hotel. Excuse me for a moment.” He bowed and as soon as his back was turned Draco struck like a prying snake.

‘Imperio!’ With a flick of his wand he cast the Unforgivable, non-verbally. It was one of those curses he was pretty good at, having used it on Madam Rosemerta for an entire year. Now he was comfortable with the usual peculiar sensation that flowed out from his hand as if invisible strings. It found the target and acted instantly.

“Turn to me and sit.” Draco commanded and Leopold turned to him like a puppet, his face blank, and reoccupied his seat behind the desk.

“Slap yourself.” Draco said, testing the strength of his spells though he had no doubt that the Imperius was cast perfectly. Leopold complied immediately, slapping himself hard on his right cheek, reddening the place.

“Very Good.” Draco smirked, satisfied with his handiwork. Leopold was completely under his control and would have no recollections of what happened once he was done with him. “Now take out the file of the guests staying here and look for Jean Granger.” He commanded the manager.

Leopold, his face expressionless, took out a keychain and with it, opened a drawer on the right side of his desk. He removed a large leather bound book, opened it, flipped through the pages and stopped at last on an entry.

“Give it here.” Draco held out his hand. Leopold passed the book to him and Draco checked the entry.

There it was! A name and an entry beside what looked like a miniature map of the floor it was in. Draco scanned the page and read:

Mademoiselle Jean Granger and company

Suite number 1452 and 1455;

Thirteenth floor,

The East Wing.

His eyes next roved down the miniature map. There was a red dot over a suite of rooms, indicating its position in the thirteenth floor. Draco counted it: third window from the right corner. So that was where Granger was staying with Adrian! He wondered why never saw them during an entire week’s stay in the same hotel. It could be due to the fact that his own suite was on the seventh floor, on the opposite side of the Palace Hotel, the West Wing and they used separate entrances and Floos.

‘Gemenio!’ Draco thought, pointing his wand at the page and an exact copy was made. He folded the piece of paper and shoved it inside his robe, looking confident and done. He, then, passed the entry book to Leopold who sat like a statue. “Return the book to its place. Then stand up and turn your back on me.” His job done, Draco leaned back on his seat and crossed his legs.

Like a puppet on strings, Leopold did as he was told and Draco, after making sure that everything was fine, lifted the Imperius Curse. The aftereffect was immediate.

“What…was…I…” Leopold rubbed his head wearily, staring down at the box of gold bars like a stupid bull.

“Is anything wrong, Monsieur?” Draco asked innocently, feigning concern.

“No…” Leopold replied vaguely, though his features said otherwise, “I just… felt dizzy suddenly.”

“Oh! Well Monsieur, I think I should leave now. It’s been a long day for all of us.” Draco said and left the manager’s office. Perhaps it was time to test whether his Seeker’s reflexes were still intact.

He made his way to the reception and gave the receptionist lady a charming smile. He always knew when to use his physical charms.

“Bonsoir, Monsieur.” (Good evening, sir) The witch greeted him, blushing slightly.

“Bonsoir.” Draco greeted back, “I require a broom. Can you tell me where can I find one?”

“Brooms, Monsieur?” the witch looked genuinely interested. “You can find one in the Broom shed on our private Quidditch pitch. We have the finest quality products collected from around the globe.” she replied with a bright smile, “Do you play, Monsieur?” she asked slyly.

Draco raised an eyebrow, “Only when I am the Seeker.” He stated and started for the mentioned Broom shed.

The Palace Hotel was not just any hotel. Being the only five star hotel for the upper echelon Wizarding population of Belgium, it housed its own swimming pool, aquarium, a small zoo for kids and a private Quidditch pitch where children and adult guests spent their afternoon, playing Quidditch.

The broom shed was actually a large broom museum with hundreds of broomsticks perched and displayed on the wall. Draco checked for the Nimbus series, which was his first broom but after spotting a shining Thunderbolt Ultra from England discarded the Nimbus. There were foreign brooms too but he preferred using something from his native land.

Draco left the Broom shed and examined the night sky. It was clear ensuring no visibility problem. He mounted his broom, cast a Disillusionment Charm upon himself and the broom and kicked off the ground. He directed his broom at what he guessed could be the East Wing of the Palace Hotel. Counting floors and windows, he soon reached an open window that he suspected might be the third window from right corner on the thirteenth floor. The room inside was dimly lit with candles. It looked like a sitting room. Smug and extremely proud that he hoodwinked the stupid manager of Palace Hotel, he flew in through the window and landed on the floor silently.

Suite 1452 was a royal quality suite with elegant furniture and curtains, better than the one Draco was staying, Draco noted with slight irritation, wondering where Granger got the money to pay for it. On the upside, he was glad that his son wasn’t staying in one of those flea bitten, down-market, cheap hotels of Laan Grote Markt. The suite, currently, it was empty. Surely its occupant Hermione Granger was celebrating Adrian’s outstanding accomplishment in some place of her choice. Draco walked around the place silently, inspecting everything with care.

He entered the larger of the two bedrooms that the suite housed and found Adrian’s red tie lying on the bed. So this was where he lived with his mother? He looked around and found some of his other belongings – a small sock crumpled under a table, a small yellow T-shirt with black stripes, some children’s books on a window sill and a brand new box of colouring pencils. He recognized it as the one Adrian used that morning at the competition. He touched everything carefully – not moving them but trying to feel his son’s presence there.

He opened the closet next. It was full of ladies’ clothes – surely belonging to Granger, in upper two shelves and Adrian’s ones in lower two. Draco took out a red pajama top and smelled it – Peach and Honeysuckle. The smell was so Adrian – innocent, lively and fresh! He separated a small white shirt and shrunk it before pocketing it – a small relic of his innocent existence.

He was about to inspect their bathroom more fully when the Entrance Door of the Suite swung open and loud sounds of laughter filled in the place. Draco moved to a shadowed corner as Hermione entered her bedroom with Adrian in tow, looking tired but otherwise happy. The little boy immediately ran for the bed.

“Adrian, remove your shoes before getting on the bed.” Hermione told her son from her stand before the vanity. She was undoing her braid. Draco frowned. Why was this woman commanding his son?

“I can’t remove them, Mama.” Adrian stated innocently, standing at the foot of the bed.

Draco smiled and shook his head. This boy was so much like his father! He too could not undo his shoelaces until he was seven. Elves would do it for him and receive kicks as a reward.

Hermione let out a breath and walked to the boy. She set him on the bed and after untying the knots of the shoelace, removed them from his little feet.

Draco looked at his son’s feet. They were just like his was except for that they belonged to a five year old body. He watched as Hermione removed Adrian’s clothes and soon there was nothing left except for the small blue boxers that he was wearing underneath.

He examined his body carefully. It was well nourished; the muscles looked strong for his age. His skin was flawless just as his one was. He felt as if he was looking at himself as a boy.

“Adrian, why are you always littering the floor?” his trance broke when Hermione collected the crumpled socks and T-shirt and folding neatly, put them back on the closet he had plundered earlier.

So what? He is a boy. He can do as he likes.’ Draco snapped. What an irritating woman as a mother! His own mother never admonished him for littering his room. It was his room and he could do as he pleased. He was a boy and being untidy was considered a part of masculine charm.

“Sorry, Mama. I forgot.” Adrian piped with a persuasive smile.

Do not apologize to a Mudblood!’ Draco almost screamed in his thoughts. ‘Merlin! This boy is in desperate need of some good pureblood training.’

“It’s okay little rabbit. Take care next time.” Hermione accepted the charming apology. She opened their closet, took out the red pajama Draco had taken out earlier and gestured the almost naked boy towards the bathroom.

“Come. Let Mama give you a bath.” she said and Adrian with a loud ‘yay!’ jumped from the bed, and ran into the bathroom. Hermione, after twisting her hair and fixing them firmly in a French Twist, followed him in. Draco, like a silent ghost, walked to and stood at threshold of the bathroom, its door open.

Like the rest of the royal suite, he noted, the bathroom was spacious with marble floor, bathtub and finest quality toiletries. As Hermione drew him a bath, Adrian danced beside her and when it was done he jumped into it, splashing his mother with soap water. She screamed and tried to control her overexcited son but failed miserably. Adrian, Draco presumed, liked to play with water and was too good for his mother. He watched them in wonder as Hermione, after threatening the boy to never talk to him should he continued drenching her with soap water, finally succeeded in giving him a bath. She scrubbed his little body gently and Adrian, despite Hermione’s impending threat sprayed his mother with soap water several times. Draco was impressed by Adrian’s playfulness.

The bath being over Hermione dressed him in his red pajama and Draco just could not admire the view more. His son looked so adorable in that red pajama! His eyes followed Adrian as he zoomed around the suite, squeaking “Aunt Gaby! Aunt Gaby!” and the young woman with long silvery hair, whom Draco saw earlier that day, walked out from the second bedroom.

“What’s it, Adrian?” She asked the happy boy.

“Where’s my rabbit?” Adrian ran to her and asked.

“It is in my bag. Come and take it.” Aunt Gaby replied and ushered him to her room. Adrian ran inside and Draco followed their pair silently.

“Are you writing letters?” The little boy asked his aunt Gaby as she gave him the trophy. Her room, Draco noticed had the same grandeur of a royal suite with painted ceiling, chandelier, a four poster bed, moving portraits and rich velvet upholstered furniture. The woman seemed busy writing letters as several rolls of parchments were lying open on her writing table with a quill dipped in the ink. Draco rubbed his head, trying hard to remember where he had seen her before.

“Yes, I am.” Aunt Gaby nodded, sitting down to finish the letters. “To Bill and Fleur.”

And then it landed on Draco.

‘Fleur! Fleur Delacour! The champion from Beauxbaton for Triwizard Tournament!’ He gaped at the young woman, finally remembering who she was. ‘She is Fleur’s sister!’ He had seen her when they brought her for the second task. She was the one placed under the lake water along with Granger and Weasley. But what were Hermione and Adrian doing with her? Or with her family?

“Adrian? Where is my little rabbit?” Draco heard Hermione’s voice from his right. Looking sideways, he saw her standing just beside him on a blue nightdress and drying her hair. “You are not disturbing Aunt Gabrielle?” she asked the happy little boy.

“Not at all, Jean.” Gabrielle protested, continuing writing her letters. “I am just writing to Bill and Fleur. You can Floo maman, papa and Alexis in the morning.”

“Oh, Gabrielle! I can’t wait to share the news with them!” Hermione beamed at her, “Now Adrian, it’s been a long day and we all need to go to bed.” She threw her arms open and Adrian, with soppy goodnight kiss on Gabrielle’s cheek, lunged from her bed and crush landed in her arms.

“Adrian! Mama told you not to jump like that! What if you get hurt?” Hermione admonished and wrapped her arms securely around her son. Draco fisted his hands in jealousy. He wanted his son to crush into his arms, not in Granger’s. The boy, however, laughed as if him crash landing and getting hurt was an amusing joke.

“I know you’ll catch me, Mama.” he piped, looking confident at this mother’s ability.

Hermione didn’t remark and carried him to their bedroom. She placed Adrian’s trophy on the mantelpiece, tucked him in their bed and turned off the lights before climbing in beside him. Adrian moved close and snuggled against her bosom. Draco took his stand at the foot of the bed and leaned against the bedpost to observe them. He was relieved that the brunette muscular guy wasn’t on the same bed as Hermione or Adrian. That meant she wasn’t married though it didn’t rule out the possibilities that she sleeping with him, secretly.

“You are the best thing that ever happened to me, my little rabbity babitty boo.” Draco’s stream of thoughts broke and Hermione cooed to her son. “I never expected to have you. But when I realized that your life was in danger I prayed that I don’t lose you.”

Adrian’s life was in danger? When? How? Why? Draco frowned and strained his ears to listen the quiet conversation.

“My life was in danger?” Adrian asked Draco’s question on his behalf, “When?”

“The night you were born.” Hermione replied.

“Really?” Adrian exclaimed excitedly as if being in danger the night he was born was an exciting idea. “Who saved me?” He asked his mother.

Hermione remained quiet for long moment. Draco’s heart beat quickened and he cursed her for not telling what happened the night Adrian was born. Then the sound of a heavy sigh followed, it was Hermione’s.

“Let me tell you a story, little rabbit.” She said and even in the dimly lit bedroom Draco could see Adrian’s eyes shining on the prospect of hearing a new story. “Once upon a time in a distant land called France, there was a young lady named Jean. She lived with a family who loved her very much. They were called the Delacours.” she started.

“You mean Grandpa and Grandma?” Adrian asked.

“Yes. Grandpa, Grandma and their family.” Hermione smiled kindly, “The loved Jean and took good care of her. She studied in a school named Beauxbaton. There she had two friends. Eva and Edmound. They loved her very much.”

So that muscular guy was Edmound and he was Hermione’s friend from Beauxbatons? Draco snorted. Friend or boy friend? Why wasn’t she telling his son the truth? Was she afraid? Draco curled his lips.

“I know, I know why they loved her!” Adrian interrupted, looking excited as if it was Professor Sprout’s Herbology class and he, like his mother, was jumping up and down to answer every question, asked or unasked. “Because my Mama is very special.”

“No, Adrian, your Mama is an ordinary woman.” Hermione smiled and shook her head, “They loved her because Jean had a very special person inside her. She was going to have a baby, a little rabbit it was.”

“Me!” Adrian proclaimed happily.

“Yes, you.” Hermione kissed Adrian’s forehead, “Now, Jean loved her baby a lot and was waiting for him to arrive sound and healthy. But there was a problem. An evil witch once cursed her badly and the effects of that curse were causing Jean a lot of pain. She feared that her baby may be harmed too.”

Evil witch? Curse? Effects? Draco was perplexed. How dare that evil witch laid her hands on pregnant Granger and endangered Adrian’s life? Draco fisted his hands. If Granger’s tale was true, he was going to deal with that bitch as soon as this story was over. No matter how evil she was, he was going to make sure that she licked the floor he saw his reflections, once he was done with her.

“Why did the evil witch curse Jean?” Adrian enquired, looking appalled that someone could curse a special woman who was going to have a baby.

Hermione sighed. “Because Jean was Muggleborn and the evil witch was Pureblood who hated Muggleborns. So she cursed Jean badly.”

Bellatrix! Draco gritted through his teeth. That blasted woman used Cruciatus on Granger the day he raped her. But that was beside the point. He raped her because he had his own reasons. But Bellatrix? She was a maniac and loved using Cruciatus even on elves, something Draco, no matter how much he ill treated those poor creatures, couldn’t support.

“What was the name of the evil witch, Mama?” Adrian asked breathlessly.

Hermione bit her lip, “She had no name. She was very evil, so everyone called her ‘The Evil Witch’.” she replied resolutely “So as I was saying before, Jean feared for the life of the little rabbit she carried inside her. What if the poor thing was affected? Then the day came when the little rabbit was about to be born. It was 4th January 1999.” She reminisced.

“That’s my birthday!” Adrian commented forgetting the danger his unborn self was going through.

“Yes. It’s your birthday, dear.” Hermione stroked Adrian’s curls fondly, “On that day Jean was having a lot of pain because the evil witch’s curse was running through her veins. The Delacours took her to hospital and Healers examined her. When they found out that she has been cursed, they told her family that the little rabbit’s life was in danger. The curse was going to kill him.”

Draco never noticed that he was holding his breath, waiting anxiously for the rest of the story to follow. If Cruciatus was going to kill his Adrian then how come he survived?

Hermione spoke again to her silent audiences, oblivious that they were two and not one.

“Jean was horrified. She loved her little rabbit and wanted him to be with her. But there was nothing the Healers could do. Then mother Apolline came forward like an angel of life. She gave Jean a Muggle tea made from the dried leaves of Raspberry. She said it would ease her pain. The Healers laughed at her. What could a Muggle tea do when the magic has failed? But mother Apolline insisted and Jean took her advice. She drank the tea mother Apolline gave her and noticed that it worked even better than the Healer’s magic. Her pain subsided and she was saved. Then the little rabbit was born. He was a cute one and thankfully of good health.” Hermione smiled and kissed her son.

Draco let out the breath he was holding. Of course Adrian was a cute little and healthy boy. His marriage with Astoria had been unsuccessful to provide the Malfoys with that, fact that he had to admit with resentment.

“So grandma saved me before I was born?” Adrian asked his mother, looking excited.

“Yes. She did.” Hermione doted on her son, “That’s why little rabbit’s mother decided to name her son after grandma’s brother ‘Adrian’.”

“Why?” the little Adrian piped, curious.

“That’s a story for another day, little rabbit.” Somehow Hermione’s voice sounded thoughtful and grave to Draco’s ears. “But know this that grandma’s brother Adrian was a great man. He was a brave Auror and defeated many dark wizards.”

“And Thomas?” Adrian asked about his middle name. “Who is he?

Hermione sighed again, “Well, he’s your real Grandpa, little rabbit, Thomas Granger. He and Grandma Adeline live in Australia.”

“What is Australia?” Adrian asked, “Why do they live there? Why don’t they live with us?”

“Because…” Hermione’s voice broke and she cleared her throat, “…because the evil witch who cursed Jean, wanted to curse them too. So she sent them to Australia. Australia is a country very far from England and France. The evil witch wouldn’t be able to reach them there. Grandpa and grandma would be safe.”

Adrian remained silent for a while as if pondering on the problem at hand. “When I grow up, Mama, I’ll fight that evil witch and kill her. Then I’ll go and find Grandpa and Grandma. I’ll bring them to France.”  He declared firmly.

Draco meanwhile was judging the truth behind that statement that Hermione sent her parents to Australia to save them. That must be before she started hunting the Dark Lord’s soul pieces with Potter. But how did she do it? Made them leave their daughter alone? Didn’t they protest, even for once? His own mother, Narcissa Malfoy, would have died but not left her son in peril. These bloody emotionless Muggles! Why do they take the trouble of having kids when they didn’t know how to take care of them?

Hermione smiled weakly. Her heart bled at any mention of her parents. “There is no need for that, little rabbit. The Evil Witch is dead. A good and brave witch named Molly finished her. Besides my little rabbit will never kill or torture.” she declared firmly.

“But she hurt you!” Adrian protested, “What if she tried to kill me?”

“If some tries to kill you, defend yourself, little rabbit. Fight hard, try to injure them but never kill a living being.” Hermione replied somberly, “My grandma once told me, ‘It’s a great sin to kill somebody’.”

“Your grandma?” Adrian repeated but Hermione stopped him.

“No more talk little rabbit. Now go to sleep.” she stroked his curls and with a heavy sigh, started to sing softly.

“Hush my baby, sweetly sleep…
Do not cry!
I will sing a lullaby….

Feel my arms that keep you warm
Snuggling around your tiny form…
Precious baby, sweetly sleep…
Sleep in comfort, slumber deep…

I will rock you, rock you, rock you…
I will rock you, rock you, rock you…

I will rock you, rock you, rock you…
I will rock you, rock you, rock you…

Draco listened, enchanted, as Hermione finished the lullaby. It was the same one his aunt used to put him to sleep. It seemed like every mother’s favourite lullaby. He almost dozed off, fell on floor and came to his senses when the song came no more. He noticed that Adrian and his mother have fallen asleep. They looked so peaceful that he envied their comfort.

Very carefully, he approached Adrian whose small forehead was visible and planted a kiss delicately on it.

“Good Night and sweet dreams, son.” he whispered softly and left them to slumber peacefully.

Now, he had some serious issues to attend to.

•••••

Working as a public prosecutor in French Wizengamot for nearly half her life has gained Audré some special abilities: good power of observation and obtaining a true confession from her clients. She also was married to a Malfoy, one of the most complicated minds she has ever come across, for twenty years. Thus she knew well when to question in order to receive an honest reply.

That reason had refrained Audré from bombarding Draco with questions about Adrian and his mother after the ceremony was over. She noticed him carefully during the Prize Giving Ceremony and his reactions were of pure shock when he saw the boy’s mother. Draco had clapped his hand to his mouth and shook his head vigorously – two unmistakable signs that one displays upon recognizing an unexpected person. Clearly in Draco’s eyes, the woman named Jean Granger was the last person on earth to bear him a child. She has also, from the corner of her eyes, noticed how that Jean Granger didn’t shake hands with her nephew and moved to her. Audré had wondered what could be the reason behind such a conduct. It was not that Draco looked like Draco during the ceremony. He was impersonating Jacob Jordeans. Then why did Jean avoid him? Did she sense something fishy in the entire affair or was it Draco, who air didn’t seem right and convincing?

Adrian was Draco’s son – Audré was certain of it now, and not his brother from Lucius’s secret mistress. Their resemblances were uncanny except for the curly pattern of hair which he inherited from his mother; Audré did notice the woman’s brown curls when they shook hands. How Jean Granger came to bear Draco’s child was, however, the ultimate mystery. Audré had some very unpleasant suspicions about it but preferred not to launch them on Draco. Her nephew, it was clear, knew nothing of the entire business of mysterious art of baby-making without the father’s physical involvement. Audré knew about the Malfoys. They were masters of Dark Arts; they loved practicing it.

Besides, Draco has just started to rely on her and she preferred to keep it that way. He has been unfortunate enough to be brought up by Lucius and Narcissa, the flagships of nonsense pureblood supremacy and was already leading a miserable life as a widower. The moment Audré saw him, his eyes agonized, she decided to help him out of his self-imposed solitude and depression.

Audré noticed Draco’s agitation after the Prize Giving Ceremony was over, how he followed Jean Granger and Adrian out of the Ball Room. She had wanted to calm him. But sometimes quelling the source of agitation was the best way to deal with it. So she allowed him to leave her to deal with Jacob Jordeans.

Audré was certain that Draco went after Adrian when she left his suite. She was also certain that if she waited patiently for a few days she would surely receive a true answer regarding Adrian’s mother and their past relationship.

There was a knock on the door. It was past midnight and there was only one person who could approach her at such hours, Draco.

Audré rubbed her eyes wearily and left for the door. A disheveled looking Draco was standing on the threshold. She moved aside, letting him enter. They took their usual seats by the fireplace and Audré looked at her nephew.

Draco was staring down at his feet and fidgeting with something in his pocket. Moments passed but Audré didn’t break the silence. She knew he was here for something and surely, he looked up at her after sometime and spoke.

“Aunt Audré, can you please accompany me to England?” Draco’s features were sincere and pensive.

England? Audré was astonished but chose not to show it. Things were happening rather faster than she had expected them to. “I believe everything is in order, Draco?” she enquired, trying to appear mildly concerned.

“No… yes…” Draco fumbled, “I mean… I want your help to find some answers.”

Audré nodded. “What kind of answers?” she asked.

“Some answers regarding Adrian.” Draco replied evenly.

“From whom?” Audré asked calmly, raising an eyebrow.

Draco took a deep breath, “She’s a Frenchwoman married to an Englishman, just like you were. Her name is Fleur Delacour.” He replied, looking dead serious.