*** third wish ***
“You want me to do what?”
Ginny cringed mildly at the sound of Draco’s voice raising an octave and a half and calmly took off her glasses, proceeding to wiping them with a cloth. “There’s no need to shout like a girl, Malfoy. I want you to get Hermione pregnant.”
He sputtered for a moment, before finally regaining control over his own person. Taking a slow cleansing breath, he ran a hand through his hair, slicking it back down. Finally, feeling composed enough, he spoke. “Have you entirely lost what was left of that peanut-sized brain of yours, Weasley? Merlin knows how many accidental Malfoy bastards there are running around out there and you want me to knowingly produce another one?”
“Don’t you think your oaf of a brother would mind? I think he would notice the lack of freckles and the fair hair, especially when that child turns around and sneers scornfully at him. Besides,” Draco paused, using all the poise he could muster not to snarl in distaste. “There isn’t enough alcohol in all of Britain to make me want… that.”
“You’re being an obnoxious idiot again, Malfoy,” Ginny snapped at the sound of her friend being referred to as ‘that’. “I don’t want you to sleep with ‘Mione! Phlegm is the only blonde I think Mum could stomach in our family. I want you to… I don’t know, do whatever it is that you do to makes things happen. I want Hermione to get pregnant,” she concluded, putting her glasses back on and looking at the mildly stunned former Slytherin. “By my brother, obviously.”
“Obviously,” Draco mumbled absently, still staring at her with mild disbelief. “Ginny, I—no, just—why are you asking for this? Weren’t you going to ask something for yourself?”
“It is for myself. I want them to have a baby.”
“Seized by an uncontrollable desire to ruin the lives of your loved ones? That’s not like you, Miss Weasley.”
“I’m not ruining anyone’s life, Mr. Malfoy,” Ginny narrowed her eyes at his jeer, fighting the urge to pinch him hard. This was big for Ginny, showing how Draco managed to peeve her with that line. “Surprisingly enough, both my and their wishes coincide.”
“Well, they contradict my own wishes. What made you think I would willingly assist a Weasley to reproduce?”
“Be careful, Malfoy,” she chided dangerously, her hand slipping into the folds of her robes where the wand rested. “I do not consider this a laughing matter.”
Draco’s shoulders squared as he found himself tensing visibly. He had no intentions of losing another three weeks of his life, so he decided that perhaps a change of tactics was in order. “Weasley, consider me old fashioned, but are you sure Weasel and the Muu—Know-It-All want you in their bed? Figuratively speaking, of course, I don’t want to know about your brother’s sick fetishes.”
“Obviously not! That’s why you would do it as covertly as possible,” she explained primly, folding her arms across her chest. “If you are able to do it, I mean.”
“Oh, don’t play coy with me,” Draco grimaced at her, dismissing her belittling with a wave of his hand. “Of course I can do it. I’m not quite sure I should, though. Do they know what you’re asking?”
“Well… I’ve offered Hermione to do this and, I don’t know, there was a lot of shouting, lecturing and finger pointing. I don’t think she liked the idea.”
“And you inadvertently assumed that that was a green light for you to go through with it?” He asked, somewhat cautiously, he noted to himself since he started to slowly realize he was dealing with an escaped mental patient.
“Yes, exactly. All the shouting was just a typical reaction of a frustrated Hermione when someone else figures out an answer to a really tricky Arithmancy problem.”
Draco stared in an odd sort of stupor he only encountered in the company of this female. There was something utterly wrong with that girl.
“Ginny, you want me to meddle with your sister-in-law’s fertility! Are you insane?”
She stared at him for a long quiet moment, before heaving a sigh and taking her glasses off again, this time placing them down onto the table before pinching the bridge of her nose. After a long moment, she looked up at him and there was something in her gaze, something pained and desperately yearning to be healed, and she looked at him as if he might very well hold the elusive answer. Thankfully, she caught herself at that thought, labeled it as silly and squeezed her eyes shut.
“I am telling you this in hopes that there is still a small part of you that is a human being and I would appreciate it if this never left this office because then I would be dead and therefore you’d be dead, since I’d be taking you with me. It is really a very delicate subject which you should, by the way, beware as to not make jokes about and—anyway… I found Hermione crying in front of a baby shop in the middle of Diagon Alley the other day. People were walking around her, staring as if she was a crazy person. That day she had just been returning from the Healer’s who have told her that there are only a fifteen percent chance of her conceiving and carrying to term, even with the potions. He advised adoption, the fucker,” she finished, her jaws clenching in anxious anticipation of his reaction.
Draco just stared back in silence for almost too long. He thought over what had already been said – the subject required delicate handling and jokes would’ve meant his untimely and heinous demise. Not that he was in the mood for humor since the subject was somewhat close to his own heart. He still remembered the late expeditions to the kitchen when he would find his mother crouching on the floor of his old nursery, held tightly by his father as she cried into an old blanket, and his father trying to console that heartache that she obviously felt. She had always wanted more children, he knew it, but the Dark Lord never approved of numerous heirs to those close to him, claiming that a cumbersome family obscured the vision of the True Cause.
Draco swallowed hard at both his memories and his rising bile, and glanced at Ginny again, seeming a bit less resistant. “If they ever find out what you have asked me to do—“
“I won’t tell if you won’t.”
He stared at her irritably for being cut off, pushing air out through his nose. “It is not a game, Ginny. This is a new life we’re talking about. If they aren’t sure, despite what you think, if it comes in a bad time, if something happens wrong… it is irreversible. And the only way to take it back is painful and emotionally wrecking.”
“They want this child. They wanted this child for… oh gods, years. If you can do this… Draco, you have to do this.”
“Look, if… if there is such a small chance, then perhaps it wasn’t meant—“
“Every woman is meant to bear a child, Draco, do not dare to claim otherwise,” she utterly calmly, but there was iron in her voice and her eyes and he found himself caving in, despite his better judgment.
Draco nodded feebly, suddenly finding the floors very interesting. “Wish then.”
“I wish Hermione and Ron to have a happy, healthy, freckled and brilliantly smart baby,” she chirped gleefully, grinning brightly.
“Oh, don’t make me dabble into genetics as well, Weasley. A healthy offspring of their own is all I choose to be responsible for. Appearances, cheerful dispositions and levels of intelligence are completely out of my jurisdiction.”
“I can take that. So how are you going to do this?”
Draco was already on his feet and preparing to leave when she asked him that, so he cast a nonchalant glance at her and smirked. “A gentleman never gets a girl pregnant and tells, Weasley.”
“Hmm,” she intoned, frowning slightly at his words. “Which reminds me – how many accidental Malfoy bastards are there?”
Draco blinked at her in surprise for a second before breaking out in a wide fake grin. “Good day, Miss Weasley,” he bid his farewell, tipping his head in a respectful manner and rushing out of the office, smartly ignoring her irritable voice as she tried to demand an answer from his retreating back.
“Miss? Miss! I’d hate to be rude, but that muffin that you are holding actually belongs to me. So if you be so kind as to return it,” Draco drawled in a mostly polite tone, reaching his hand expectantly, waiting for the girl to forfeit his muffin.
The girl glanced down at the muffin with furrowed brows, up at him and down at the muffin again, this time closely inspecting it from all the angles in silence. Finally, she looked back up at him with an embellished relieved smile. “Well, since there isn’t seem to be your name anywhere on this muffin and this is, in fact, a public coffeehouse on the ‘early bird gets the muffin’ base, I would have to greatly disappoint you.”
Draco blinked at the girl in surprise, confused and quite surprised by her refusal, and promptly dropped his hand, clearing his throat. She must have misunderstood, that is all. “No, you don’t seem to understand. I live just around the corner and I come here every morning for a cup of coffee and a muffin. And I always get the very last blueberry muffin, because… well, just because that’s the way it is. I worked out the exact time for myself to come here every morning to get the muffin and I could encumber you with all the tidy processes I had to go through in order to calculate the appropriate time to take that very muffin you’re clutching right now but I won’t, and I am not at all willing to let it go. Not this morning and not any other.”
“I’m sorry, sir, that is all very interesting, but I am late for work and I have already paid for this. So next time if you want your muffin, perhaps you might consider coming a bit earlier. All right? Good day,” the girl chirped with a smile and turned to leave.
Draco’s eyes widened a little at the less than subtly brush off and he found himself striding towards the girl and turning to block her exit. “I don’t think I’ve made myself sufficiently clear, miss. This is my muffin and you are not leaving with it. Now, if you wish, I could compensate you with two other muffins, but this one… is mine.”
“Listen up, mate,” the girl rolled her eyes, her nostrils flaring in irritation. “This is the first time in a blue bloody moon that I am having a craving and I am not going to let some schizoid bloke who just happens to have an anal affection toward the very last blueberry muffin in this coffee shop to ruin my goddamn morning, so get out of my way or I am pulling out my wand and reacquainting your mouth with your foot!”
“I—is there a problem here?” a nervous voice broke through the death-glaring competition and both antagonists turned to glare at the short, stubby and balding manager of the coffeehouse.
“There is no problem at all if you consider socially challenged madmen as desired candidates for patronage,” the girl huffed at the manager, waving her muffin at the man before her. “This man refuses to let me leave. I have paid for my things and I am late for work, and I am unable to move any further because one of your regular costumers is blocking my way.”
“M—Mr. Malfoy, what seems to be the problem?” the fidgety manager turned towards the blond man in hopes of him regaining some of the common sense that was such an elusive concept to his entire familial line. The manager quite clearly understood, however, that there would be no such luck.
“Hotchkins, I want you to retrieve my muffin from this harpy and toss her out on the street,” Draco replied as casually and nonchalantly as he if he was discussing the weather. He cast his stare about the room in boredom, as if the presence of the manager smartly put him at the advantage and there was no chance now the culprit would walk away with his muffin.
The girl gasped twice during the short exchange – first time in shock and the second in outrage. “You did not just call me a ‘harpy’ over a bloody muffin, Malfoy!”
Draco suddenly paused, his gaze lingering at some random spot on the wall opposed to him as the voice, the words and the intonation reverberated through his mind. He was stuck by a rare and very disturbing sense of déjà vu at the sound of this witch growing furious and her voice rising shrilly. There was something… something horribly familiar about that very certain way in which she barked his surname. As if she had practiced the exact venomous and loathing lilt ever since she could pronounce it.
He cautiously glanced at the witch and at the sight of her basilisk-blazing hazel eyes, that elegant shade of auburn to her hair that might have very well been slightly brighter and redder in school, the faint freckles that had faded into delicate dusting long ago, and of course those lips, pursing in her dissatisfaction as she glared him down into eternity, something clicked inside.
“Well I be damned,” he blurted quietly, the words escaping before he could recount and remind himself of all the bad things that gaped between them. The last time he had seen her was in the cemetery, crying for the boy who survived a great dark wizard only to die a few years later in a Muggle auto accident. He wanted to offer her some comfort, but she had groaned irritably when he tried to talk, and he decided it would be better to slip away then.
And now she was there again, no tears this time, just traces of tiredness in her eyes. She looked good, more refined and delicate, yet somehow she appeared stronger than before. It was a paradox, but then, so was she, and he assumed it was all right. The auburn however looked better than the singed orange she carried back in school, but, oh, it all didn’t seem to matter in the least because she was stealing his muffin!
He snapped out of his daze just as she managed to place her hand on the door handle and apply sufficient pressure to pull the door open in order to make her stealthy getaway. But Draco Malfoy was no fool and no lion cub would ever be able to steal his muffin from under his nose! He turned and slammed the door shut just as she was about to slink through the small gap, pinning her down with a murderous glare.
“Weasley, you don’t seem to understand the importance of that muffin to me,” he hissed irritably, his face leaning towards her. “And if by any chance I haven’t made myself entirely clear yet, I would, if necessary, hurt you for that muffin.”
“Malfoy, you’re insane!” the redhead barked at him, leaning a bit away from his nearing self. “This is just a bloody pastry. You’re being ridiculously maniacal over some flour and berries.”
“The fact that you refuse to acknowledge its importance just goes to show that you are not deserving of the muffin.”
“Ma—oh for Merlin’s sake. Mr. Hotchkins, this is ridiculous!” she cried out, looking at the nervous round wizard for some assistance. “Could you perhaps do something? Or this is the way your costumers should expect to be treated if they dare to buy anything at your shop?”
Faced with the obvious possibility of awful publicity, the manager turned to Draco with almost pleading poise. “Mr. Malfoy, please, if you would just wait a bit, I’ll personally make sure you will receive two freshly baked blueberry muffins. On the house,” he hurried to add, hoping to appease the beast with sweets.
It seems to be working, because a moment later Draco let go of the door and started to straighten out his robes. “They better be ready in the next fifteen minutes.”
“Well, I’m not sure—“ Mr. Hotchkins swallowed his words at the sight of Draco’s piercing glare and nodded fiercely. “Fifteen minutes, of course, Mr. Malfoy, of course,” he replied quickly and scurried away, the kitchen door hitting him on the back as he rushed in.
The redheaded hellion shot him a smug smile and straightened herself out of the fighting stance as well. “So you can be a grown up, Malfoy. I am shocked, I have to admit.”
“As well as you should be, since I am not accustomed to relinquishing my muffins,” Draco grumbled, haughtily looking away and wondering if fear would drive Hotchkins into making the muffins faster.
“It is just a muffin, Malfoy,” the girl continued to insist.
Slightly exasperated, Draco huffed loudly. “It is not just a muffin, Weasley. It is a blueberry muffin. The last one. And it might mean nothing to you, but it sure as hell means more than that to me.”
The red-haired witch blinked in surprise, unprepared for such blunt displays of affection towards a muffin.
For a moment he appeared to be concerned she might take him for a crazy person and so he sighed and ran a hand through his hair irritably. “I am not crazy, alright? It’s just—well, Mother would always save the last blueberry muffin for me during dinner parties and sneak it up to me ‘cause she knew I hated staying alone while they were entertaining guests. So…”
He noticed a small unguarded smile creep onto her lips and squared his shoulders defensively. “If you dare to tell a single soul, I will have you killed, Weasley.”
“Malfoy, you’re still just a big Mummy’s boy, aren’t you?” the redhead asked teasingly, her lips curving attractively.
Draco sneered at her words, feeling light heat creep into his cheeks, and watched her break out in laughter. Huffing indignantly, he turned to leave to look for a table and await his belated muffins in relative peace, when her hand shot out and grasped his sleeve. Slowly he turned back to look at her with confused expression and saw that freckled witch offering him her muffin in a grand gesture.
He frowned at her skeptically, reaching out toward the baked goods. He paused just over the muffin and looked at her. “You sure?”
She shrugged and placed the muffin in his open hand. “It’s just a muffin for me. I’ll take one of the fresh ones.”
Finally holding the muffin, he seemed to breathe in relief. “Thanks,” he muttered under his breath and pinched a bit off the side, popping it into his mouth. “You know what, Weasley?”
“You’re not that bad for a Gryffindor. Or a Weasley. But, of course, there is that thing that makes you tolerable in spite of the mentioned vices.”
“Oh?” she cocked an eyebrow, amused. “And what, pray tell, might that be?”
He smirked slightly and swung the door open. “You, my little lion cub,” he smiled cattishly and headed out, tossing his parting words over his shoulder. “Are delightfully gullible.”
By the time the redheaded witch realized that she was duped with a silly sob-story by a cunning and handsome snake, he had already made his way to the nearest Apparition Point, happily munching on the last blueberry muffin.
“Oh my Goddess, are you sure?”
Hermione nodded enthusiastically, her face shining with unreserved joy. “Third week. And the Healers say that it is going as well as can be hoped for,” she gushed excitedly over the coffee table, clutching Ginny’s hand in a vice grip. “It’s real, Gin. I’m—I’m going to be a Mum.”
The two girls squealed excitedly, not paying an ounce of attention to the surrounding patrons of the little coffeehouse, and hugged for the millionth time over the small table.
“Okay, okay, we must calm down or be thrown out,” Gin chided carefully, straightening her robes and schooling her features to erase the deranged look of happiness on her face. Hermione was having more trouble in doing so, but the redhead assumed she had the right to it. “Alright, so tell me everything! How did this happen? You got that owl from the Healer and then what?
“Well, I went over to his office a he requested. He said that he got the blood results back and that unfortunately, it wasn’t looking good. Then... I don’t know, I found it very odd, how casual he was about it, because he usually is so feeling and kind, and that time he simply offered me a cup of tea. But then he started speaking again, telling me about one wealthy benefactor of the hospital, a Norwegian Healer named Lider Orm, who had developed an extraordinarily trusting relationship with the local unicorns and was allowed to experiment with their magic.”
“What do you know,” Ginny murmured in faked amazement. Well, the amazement perhaps was genuine, however not at what Hermione would’ve guessed. She absently noted to ask Draco what was it that he had with the unicorns, since it seemed to be a recurring motif in this odd tale of theirs.
“Yes, I was intrigued as well! Not only a grown man, but a wealthy grown man and you know how wealth corrupts the heart, so it must be some hell of a person to gain a relationship with the unicorns trusting enough to allow him to play around with their magic. I mean, I obviously couldn’t believe such a preposterous thing, but… well, I believe now!” She laughed gaily, nodding her thanks to the waitress who just brought and put down their coffees and muffins.
Ginny was so delighted to see her usually calm and collected friend, always rational and somewhat drab, to be so giggly and animated. She was literally glowing and the sight was even more mesmerizing than Ginny could fathom.
“In any case, he mentioned that there were experiments with pregnant mares that birthed some interesting outcomes that I might be interested in. He advised me to write to this Orm fellow and I did, and the man was all manners and good-will. So, after relating my own personal story in one particularly lengthy owl, I received back just a small parcel – a vial and a note to contact my Healer. However, I didn’t even have time to think it over and find it awfully strange when Healer Parks Flooed me, saying that he had received an owl from Lider Orm, stating that I was now in the possession of a whole vial filled with the milk of a pregnant unicorn mare.”
“No,” Ginny breathed slowly, now disbelief truly gracing her face. “Milk of a unicorn mare?”
“Pregnant unicorn mare, Ginny! Do you understand how absolutely impossible, unfathomable and delirious I felt that evening, holding that vial filled with that glistening opalescent liquid? I almost fainted from excitement, I’m telling you. The researcher in me demanded to analyze the substance instantly, but,” she sighed and shook her head. “Parks said the milk had a small expiration period and if I wanted this, this, I had to use it that evening. I know I acted a bit rashly and perhaps a wiser witch would’ve suspected everything about this Orm person, but… oh, Ginny, after all these years of being… barren,” she whispered the last word, looking around to make sure no one heard her, as if it was nothing less than the true name of a new Dark Lord. “In any case, I know I acted somewhat foolishly, but I just couldn’t let the opportunity slip away…”
“Oh, no, Hermione, sweetie, you did the right thing! That Orm person must have been a good man if the unicorns trusted him this much and you deserve this,” Ginny hurried to assure her, clasping the hand of the other girl and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “You deserve this. And look! It all ended well. You’re healthy and now there’s a tiny Weasley growing in your belly! It couldn’t have been better! How did my brother react when you told him about it?”
Hermione rolled her eyes prissily and pinched her brownie. “Oh, you know Ron. He sputtered, flailed his arms, turned red as a beet… but by the time he was coherent enough for this, I’d already had my wicked way with him in the broom closet. He melted and forgot everything this morning when I told him he would have to stop sulking because our baby was not going to see his sour face when she comes out. He toppled off his chair.”
The girls giggled and dove back into the conversation, skimming every possible baby topic they could come up with. By the time the coffee was gone, the two ancient friends were giddy with excitement and running late to other engagements. Bidding a farewell to Hermione on the street, Ginny swerved back into the coffee shop, just in time to grab the very last muffin. Tucking it into her bag, she decided to pay one Draco Malfoy a visit and express her endless gratitude with a blueberry muffin.
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