Acknowledgment: Many many thanks to Monsieur Joseph Renaud from Lorraine, France, who is a professional translator, for translating all the French dialogues used in this story.
As a major global city, Paris had a lot going on. The city itself was politically divided into 20 arrondissments municipaux or administrative districts that spiraled out from the center like the shape of a snail – first arrondissment being in the middle and the twentieth being on the outer edge. Paris was bisected by the famous river Seine, which housed two islands situated in the middle. They were considered the heart of the city and were crammed with some of the most popular tourist destinations.
The first island called ‘Ile de la Cité’ was the cradle of Parisian civilization. It was here that the Romans set up their camps in 52 B.C. The island hosted beautiful Middle-Age monuments such as the Notre Dame cathedral, the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie. It was a lovely place to walk around and admire the many old mansions that were still standing.
La Résidence de Delacour or the Delacour Residence, situated in first island Ile de la Cité, was a gothic style, well maintained three storied building housing the Delacour family who had been living there since the fifteenth century. Monsieur Gustave Delacour and his wife Madame Apolline were the current owners of the family home. Their younger daughter Gabrielle Delacour, who has just completed her graduation from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, helped her father in running their family business – the Delacour Apothecary Chain. Their only eldest and son, Alexis Delacour, however wasn’t interested in family business. He worked at the French Ministry of Magic as the Junior Undersecretary to the Minister. The house had two other non-Delacour inhabitants too. Hermione and her son Adrian Granger, living comfortably in the Eastern wing of the building. She had a Floo fireplace, especially arranged for the post of Chief Curse Breaker, from her suite to Gringotts, which was situated in Ruelle Les Halles, the French equivalent of British Diagon Alley.
Hermione, tired from her repeated journey to the deep underground Malfoy vault, arrived home at six o clock in the evening looking forward to take her son out for the promised dinner at Le Bougainville, a Muggle restaurant at Rue de la Banque. She knew Adrian was excited about it and though she was not in a physical state to walk more than two steps altogether, she wanted the dinner to be a success.
Hermione preferred Muggle restaurants to Wizarding ones. They had more variety in the menu and also helped her to avoid the untoward mixed company the Wizarding ones served like vampires, werewolves and hags. There was another reason.
Most of the Wizarding kind showed a nauseating attitude towards the Muggles, as if they were nothing but lowly creatures. Even Hermione, who was considered the brightest witch of her age, had been called a Mudblood. But Adrian? His mother expected him to grow up in different way; she wanted him to appreciate the Muggles and their way of life. It was the only way she knew that could counteract the inborn prejudice he might inherit through his father’s blood.
Hermione removed her shoes and after rubbing her aching feet, tiptoed to their bedroom. Adrian always spent this time of the evenings in their suite, patiently waiting for his mother to return. As expected she found him there, sitting on her reading table as he drew something on a piece of drawing sheet.
Noiselessly, Hermione moved across the room and suddenly scooped him in her arms from behind.
“How is my little rabbit this evening?” She said, heartily laughing as Adrian let out a loud cry of shock.
“Man’! Je déteste quand tu me fais ça!” (Mum! I hate it when you do that to me!) He yelled, slamming his little fists on her bosom.
“No French with Mama, Adrian.” Hermione waggled a finger before his eyes and warned, “English is your mother tongue. Remember that.” She placed him on the table again. “And you will talk to me only in English.” She stated solemnly.
“Mais je suis né en France!” (But I was born in France!) Adrian protested, stomping on the table. “Et le français est plus facile.” (And it’s easier to speak.) He pouted his lips.
“Now Adrian, no more arguments on that.” Hermione said dismissively, “Mama and her little rabbit will be talking in English, okay?” She said gently this time, noticing Adrian’s fallen face. “Now go and get ready. We are going out for dinner.”
“Are we going out?” Adrian finally spoke in English, his grey eyes were round and sparkling. “I thought you forgot it.”
“Mama never forgets a promise to her dear little rabbity babitty boo.” Hermione leaned to her son, “Can Mama a kiss for that?” she batted her eye lashes at him, appealing silently.
Adrian immediately flung his arms around her neck and planted a wet kiss on her cheek. Hermione smiled and kissed her son in return. This boy was the light of her otherwise empty life. “Tell me what you want to wear this evening?” She smiled sweetly and asked.
“That new one Grandma Apolline gave!” Adrian replied happily, “The yellow one with black stripes.”
Hermione already knew that her son favoured bright colours like yellow, orange and red. She could have selected that particular T-shirt for him; but she didn’t. In her opinion, kids shouldn’t be pressed to choose what their parents liked. They might be young but they were independent individuals. Besides, her own mother has taught her to express her likes and dislikes in a polite way, something that she wanted her son to learn too.
“You mean the Hufflepuff one?” Hermione asked him.
For a boy who was born and reared in France, Adrian already knew about Hogwarts. Hermione has explained to him, as simply as she could, that she once in her life, she lived in England and studied in a school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The kid took it all very normally, as if everyone’s mothers lived in England and moved to France. He was also a curious little fellow and showed great interested in his mother’s old school. So Hermione bought him a Hogwarts picture book and told him small bedtime stories about the place. She, however, never breathed an air about her past or her friends, Harry and Ron, to Adrian.
“Yes, the Hufflepuff shirt.” Adrian quoted Hermione. “I like it a lot!”
“Surprise, surprise!” Hermione snorted and shook her head. She took off her own Gringotts robes, unbraided her hair and reached for the wall closet that housed all the clothes this mother and son.
“Mama, I want to ask Grandpa to buy me a Slytherin T-shirt next time.” Adrian sat down on the table again and patted thoughtfully on his chin, “Green and silver!” He clapped in excitement. “I have two Gryffindors. Grandma gave a Hufflepuff. You bought me a Ravenclaw. Now I want a Slytherin.”
Hermione froze on her track to their closet. Indeed Adrian had two Gryffindor red, a Hufflepuff yellow and another Ravenclaw blue T-shirt. He, however, didn’t have a Slytherin green.
She turned slowly to face her son and saw that his eyes were gleaming with innocent excitement. The boy was unaware of his mother’s haunting past. She couldn’t blame him for asking a green T-shirt.
“Really?” She scrunched her face in doubt, “But I think that green will not suit my handsome little man.” Hermione deliberately used the word man. Like most boys of his age, Adrian also liked to think that he was a man now, although he wasn’t even six. “How about an orange one? Orange is nice.”
“Orange?” Adrian considered the offer and after a moment’s silent contemplation, nodded, “Okay.” He piped.
Hermione let out a breath of relief. “Now tell Mama what you did all day.” She started for the closet again, her mood considerably elevated now.
“I ate breakfast with Grandma Apolline.” Adrian started recounting his whole day, counting the activities on his finger “Then I played with Louis. Then Aunt Gaby came from shop. She taught me some new alphabets…then I took lunch and a nap. Then I woke up and I drew.” He finished with a flourish. “Now you tell me. Did you find a new treasure today?”
Hermione decided to not answer that question. She never lied to Adrian, it was a rule that she never broke. In reality, she has spent the entire day in the Malfoy vault, curse breaking its various objects, a fact and a name that she was eager to keep Adrian away from. Instead she told him a story about Hadrid and his dragon egg and the little boy listened in wonder as she changed him into his favourite Hufflepuff T-shirt.
“Mama, can we go to Hogwarts?” Adrian asked once she was finished. “I want to meet Hagrid. I love animals. He loved animals. We’ll be good friends.”
Hermione cleared her throat audibly. It’s been six years since she last saw Hogwarts and she still missed the school bitterly. Of course she wanted to take Adrian to Hogwarts, to her family, and her friends. But doing that would be equivalent to a suicide mission.
Pushing the unpleasant thoughts at the back of her mind she smoothed Adrian’s collar. The boy was still waiting for her answer.
“Little rabbit, why don’t you go and show your new shirt to Grandma Apolline? Hm?” She offered him encouragingly, “Mama can get dressed by then.”
“Okay.” Adrian piped as he came down from table and left the room almost running. Hermione sighed sadly. She would very much have liked to answer her son’s question truthfully.
Hermione, Adrian and Gabrielle spent a good time dining at the Le Bougainville. The food was good and the interior was awesome. They returned home around half past nine.
Hermione decided to go to bed early that night. She was dead tired and had a long day to spend in the Malfoy vault next morning. She could do with some extra sleep. Besides, Claudia has already noticed the effects of lack of sleep on her features and Hermione did not want to draw any further attention.
Adrian on the other hand was still full of energy and excitement from the evening dinner. As Hermione changed him and herself into pajamas, he went to the table he was drawing on when Hermione arrived, retrieved a piece of paper and brought it to Hermione.
“Mama! Look.” He handed her the paper. “I drew it today.” He smiled brightly.
Hermione smiled back. She was proud of her son’s excellent ability to draw, a quality that she herself lacked. The boy had a good hand with colours and loved to amaze his mother constantly with his beautiful drawings. He was also generous to present them to the rest of the family. Apolline already had three drawings of her cooking at various positions. Gustave had five with him portrayed as reading or eating. Gabrielle has received two where she was smiling pleasantly. Alexis, got only one, and he was standing beside a man in bright robes it in. Adrian was happy to tell his uncle Alexis that it was the Minister of Magic. Hermione didn’t know if Ministers anywhere in the world wore yellow robes, except of course, if he wasn’t Xenophilius Lovegood.
She took the drawing, squeezed Adrian’s rosy cheek and looked at it. It was picturesque scenery of a man, a woman and a boy holding hands, all three standing before a fairy tale cottage.
“Tell me what you have drawn, Adrian.” she told him, frowning slightly. For some inexplicable reason she had a feeling that she already knew what he has drawn.
Adrian climbed on the bed beside Hermione and took the drawing from her hand. “This is our home.” He explained, pointing at the cottage, “This is me.” he pointed at the boy with silvery blonde curls, “This is you.” He pointed at the woman with brown curls, “And this is my papa.” he said happily, pointing at the man. Strangely he didn’t have a clear face; it was just a good outline of a man.
For Hermione, the earth suddenly stood still and the time stopped. Adrian has drawn his father! His father?
“Adrian, dear,” She smiled weakly, “Why did you draw a father?” She felt like crying now.
“Because I have one.” Adrian piped simply.
Hermione gulped. “Who said that?” She asked, too afraid to hear the answer. It wasn’t unexpected, though. Adrian being Hermione’s son was already a very sharp little kid and every day, he was growing up and learning new things from his surroundings. She certainly never expected him to not want to know about his father or his mother’s husband. But she had wanted to talk about it to him when he was a bit older and more mature and never like this.
“Louis told me.” Adrian replied, looking very happy with the new piece of information. “He said that everyone has a father. Like Grandpa Gustave is Aunt Gaby and Uncle Alexis’s father.” he explained as if Hermione was three year old, “That means I have a father too.” he smiled at her.
Hermione sat on her bed, her head too full and her throat too tight to speak as she looked down at her innocent son, her son whose features were just like his father: Silvery blonde hair, grey eyes, pale flawless skin, pointed chin and high cheekbones. It was the boy whom she loved more than her life while hating his father, Draco Malfoy more than anything in the world.
She looked at those innocent grey eyes. They were so much like his father’s yet so much different in terms of emotion and truthfulness. Her son Adrian might look like Draco Malfoy but in his heart he was like his mother, Hermione Granger; and she knew how much she hated lie and deceit. She was his mother, his protector. She had vowed to protect him from all the evil in the world. She was not going be the one to hide the truth from her son. No. Her son will grow up knowing and living the truth about his father.
“Do you want to know about your father, Adrian?” Hermione made up her mind and asked him softly.
“Yes!” Adrian squealed excitedly, his grey eyes shining like two bright stars now.
“Okay, I’ll tell you about him.” Hermione said evenly, her heart already beating like a drum. “But let’s first brush our teeth and go to bed. Hm?” she offered him.
Adrian nodded, jumped down from the bed and almost ran into bathroom to brush his teeth. Hermione braced herself.
When they were finally in their bed, Hermione turned off the lights. She took her son in her arms and kissed him softly on the forehead. The place was dimly lit now, with moonlight seeping in through a window on their right. She could clearly see Adrian’s outline in it. He was waiting for her to start.
“Your father and I knew each other.” Hermione started cautiously, “We attended the same school, Hogwarts, you know. I was in Gryffindor and he was in… Slytherin.”
“Slytherin?” Adrian gasped, “Green Slytherin?”
“Yes, little rabbit, the green Slytherin.” Hermione continued with all the courage she could muster. “He did not like me very much.”
“Why?” Adrian asked, sounding surprised. He certainly couldn’t fathom it how someone would dislike his dear Mama.
“Well,” Hermione decided to start from the very root of the problem. “…he was a pureblood and I was not. He thought that those who were not purebloods are not magical. So he… disliked me.” She waited for the next question to follow which came in the next second.
“What is a Pureblood, Mama?” Adrian asked her. Hermione knew that she would have to explain that to him one day. Why not tonight?
“A pureblood is someone whose parents are not Muggleborns or Half bloods. Like I am a Muggleborn witch. My parents, your real grandpa and grandma, are not witch or wizard. They are plain Muggles.” She explained and Adrian’s half-dark outline nodded. He got her.
“You, however, are a half blood, little rabbit. It means that one of your parents is a Muggleborn. That is me, your Mama.” She smiled at him, “But your other parent is a Pureblood. This man is your father.” Her smile vanished at the mere thought. “So, a Pureblood is someone who has purebloods parents.”
“You mean… a pureblood…”Adrian was slowly taking the new pieces of information and analyzing them, “…is someone who doesn’t have Muggle relatives. Like I have a Muggle grandpa and grandma? Right?”
Hermione was surprised at her son’s power of deduction. He was barely six but his maturity was definitely more than his age offered. After all, he was her son, she thought proudly.
“Yes. You’re right, my little rabbity boo.” Hermione planted a soft kiss on his forehead. “So, as I was saying, your father is a pureblood and I am a Muggleborn.”
“And he disliked you.” Adrian prompted, seemingly disliking the idea.
“Er…yes…” Hermione came to the hardest part of explaining how two people who disliked each other could have a baby, “Then ….um… he started supporting a bad wizard and I tried to stop that bad wizard and …. we fought and… I ended up having you.” She explained, skipping as much vital information as possible, “Then he left and got married to a pureblood witch and I came to France to raise you away from him.” She finished.
It was a strange feeling, the one that followed her brief explanation of the events that had occurred more than six years ago. Hermione had always dreaded it, the thought of talking about Draco Malfoy and how Adrian was conceived. She had thought that it would be hard, extremely difficult once Adrian started understanding the science how a man and a woman reproduced. But somehow, she felt greatly relieved. She had avoided a great problem by being simple.
Adrian remained silent long after his mother finished her story. “So, my father is not a good man?” He asked her. His tone was innocent but grave.
Hermione’s heart broke. She had always wanted her son to know that his father was a good man, as most kids thought. But telling him that would be cheating with him. She closed her eyes in dark and embraced her son more tightly.
“He’s not that bad either, Adrian. He’s just a bit… proud of his blood.” She explained, though she knew in her heart that it was far worse than that. “Don’t be sad about him. He probably does not care.” she said airily.
“Okay.” Adrian exhaled simply, “Mama did you tell him that I am his son?” he enquired innocently.
Hermione groaned internally. Adrian was asking her very complicated questions. “No, I did not tell him about you. He will not like to have a Half-blood son.” She answered truthfully.
Adrian seemed to perceive his mother’s insecurities of him. It was strange, he was barely six and he could sense these complicated emotions. “So you brought me to France? Because he is a pureblood and he dislikes me and you?” He asked, hugging her tightly.
“How clever is my little rabbity babbity boo!” Hermione kissed the little boy feeling somewhat relieved. At last her son seemed to understand her situation.
Adrian felt asleep soon after his curiosity was over and Hermione drifted into a restless slumber hugging her son tightly in her arms.