Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story. They all belong to JK Rowling. I merely thank her for writing such a compelling series that it sparks my imagination. No copyright infringement is intended. I make no money from this, I just use it to live out my fantasies.

Lyrics are from Linkin Park Numb

I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Every step that I take is another mistake to you

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

And I know
I may end up failing too.
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you.

Hermione sat in her office at her desk and just wanted to hide from everyone. Everyone had seen the article in the paper and now everyone was asking her about Draco. Some of the people had seen them together at the party but had no idea who he was until it was blasted all over the front page news. Now everyone wanted to know why she was dating a former Death Eater. And no one could seem to understand the concept of people turning over new leaves and changing. A couple of people were sympathetic to her plight and said Draco was too handsome to pass up. So what about his past? But those were mostly vacuous women who only cared about how hot a guy was and nothing else. Plus some of them were also quite intrigued by the size of his bank account as well. But other people were less nice about it and gave her dirty looks and there were whispers of her being a traitor to their cause. She felt like crying over it because since when did her personal life become relevant to her job? She had questioned Harry extensively and he swore he wasn't the one who talked to the press. But when she asked if it was Ron, Harry just got quiet and said he didn't know. She wasn't going to confront Ron herself because it would only make her more upset. But she knew it had to have been him. No one else would do it. But if he thought the negative press was going to make her break up with Draco, he had another thing coming. She was stronger than that. And she loved Draco more than that.

Just then there was a knock at her door and her secretary popped her head in.

"Miss Granger?"

"What do you want?" Hermione snapped at her.

"Um, sorry am I interrupting something?"

"No, no. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you. What is it?"

"Well there's someone here to see you. I didn't know what to tell her."

"Who is it?"

"It's Narcissa Malfoy. She said it was urgent that she speak with you, but she has no appointment. What should I tell her?" the secretary asked.

"My God…Did she say what it was she wanted that was so urgent?"

"No. She said it was personal."

Hermione sighed. "Okay, let her in. I'm pretty sure I know what this about."

The secretary vacated the office and Hermione waited for Mrs. Malfoy to appear. She was nervous and her hands were shaking. She'd never actually met her before, but she could only assume there was one reason she'd visit her and that was Draco. Obviously she'd seen the paper. The door opened and the secretary ushered Narcissa in and closed the door.

"Uh, hello Mrs. Malfoy," Hermione said as she stood and greeted her.

Narcissa held out her hand for Hermione to shake it. "Please, call me Narcissa. And you are the lovely Miss Granger. We've never formally met."

"No we haven't. Why are you here, might I ask?"

"Well I think you probably know. I saw the newspaper. I saw you with my Draco on the front page. I admit I was a little astonished to witness you two kissing, but I was just so pleased to see Draco again," Narcissa explained.

"Yes, well, we've been dating for awhile now. I know he hasn't been in contact with you though," Hermione told her uncomfortably.

"No, he hasn't. We haven't heard from him in nearly two years. I thought the worst had happened, but Lucius assured me he was alive and well somewhere. He was watching the bank withdrawals. For a few weeks though, when he first left, I thought perhaps he was dead. He was in an awful state before and not in his right mind. I feared for him, but he wouldn't let me help him."

"Yes, he was pretty traumatized when he left. He needed time alone."

"Yes, well he's had plenty of time alone now. And he looks well. Is he well? Is he really okay?" Narcissa pressed her.

"He's fine. He's still a little upset over some things and sometimes has nightmares, but he's doing alright. I've helped him. He was alone for a very long time and it wasn't good for him," Hermione admitted to her.

"Oh dear, what did he do? What was he like when you found him?"

"He was pretty down on himself and the entire world. He drank a lot. He was rather a mess, honestly."

"I knew it. I knew it when he left that he wasn't himself. He was so withdrawn. And so angry at his father. We tried to find him. We tried to have the goblins at the bank alert us when he entered the establishment and then we'd rush over there, but he was always gone. And you can't really trust goblins either. Such low creatures. But we were desperate," Narcissa told her with tears forming in her eyes.

"Well he's okay now. He's not in any danger. He's been trying to get his life together. You'd be proud, I think. Maybe anyway. I know seeing him with me must upset you and your husband," Hermione admitted quietly.

"Yes, well, it was a surprise to say the least. But I'm not as close minded as my husband. Of course I wished for Draco to eventually marry a pureblood girl, but I also wish for him to be happy. And after the fights he had with Lucius, I saw that he no longer cared about such nonsense as blood status. He was quite adamant that it didn't matter to him anymore. And I suppose the best way to get back at us was to find you."

"He's not using me to get back at you. We're in love. It has nothing to do with either one of you. Draco is just living his life," Hermione protested.

"I see. Well, either way, I'd like to see him. And I know you know where he is. Will you take me to him?" Narcissa asked hopefully.

"I don't know. He's made it quite clear to me that he doesn't wish to see his family. I-I can't just go against his wishes," Hermione told her regretfully.

"But surely he would see me. I'm his mother! I love him. And it wasn't me he was cross with when he left. It was his father. I was just helpless to do anything. I want to see my son and I won't leave here until you tell me where to find him," Narcissa said forcefully.

Hermione didn't know what to do. She was lost. She didn't want Draco angry with her, but she also didn't know how to get rid of his mother either.

"Please understand that I can't just take you to him. It has to be his choice. He'd freak out if you just walked in the door with me. I can't tell you where he is. I'm sorry."

"That's just not acceptable. I've been looking for him for nearly two years. And you know where he is. I will not have you turn me away. Not when I'm this close. You don't understand since you're not a mother. You aren't a mother, are you? Please tell me I don't have a grandchild I've never met," Narcissa fretted.

"No, no. I'm not a mother. There's no grandchildren. I promise you that. And you're right I don't understand what it's like to lose a child like this. But he's a grown man, not a little boy. How about I just talk to him for you? I'll try and convince him to meet with you. That's the best I can do," Hermione told her firmly.

Narcissa sighed and shook her head. "Fine. Talk to him. But please be convincing. You have no idea how much I've missed him. I need to see him again. I need to be a part of his life."

"I'll do my best. I promise."

"Alright. If I don't hear anything in a few days, I will be back here. And I'll follow you home or pay someone to tell me where you live. I won't just give up," Narcissa promised her.

"Like I said, I'll do my best. I don't need you following me around or paying people to get my address."

"Then be convincing."

"I will be."

"Alright. Good day to you then. It was nice meeting you, Miss Granger."

"Nice to meet you too."

Narcissa turned on her heel and marched out the door and Hermione just laid her head on her desk. How was she ever going to convince Draco to see his mother? He was so adamant about keeping his distance, she had no idea what she could say to convince him. That stupid newspaper article was ruining everything.

She got home and found Draco in his usual spot on the sofa. He smiled at her when she came in, but she found it hard to smile back.

"What's wrong, love? Was work awful? Did people give you a hard time over the article?" he asked her.

"You could say that. I'm famous at work now. I can't even go to the bloody loo without overhearing people talking about us. But that's not why I'm upset," she told him.

"Well then what is it?"

Hermione sighed and plopped down on the sofa next to him. "I had a visitor today. Someone who I was not expecting and who was very adamant that I tell them where to find you."

He looked at her strangely. "Who? Who would want to find me?"

"Um, your bloody mother, that's who. Duh, Draco. She's only been looking for you for almost two years," she said giving him a look.

"Oh shit. My mum was there? At your office?"

"Yes. And she was really pushy and threatened to follow me home or pay someone for my address. You have to talk to her," Hermione pleaded with him.

"Talk to her? What would I say? It's been almost two years. Was my father there too?" he asked feeling his stomach sink.

"No, thank God. It was just her. She claims that you weren't cross with her and would want to see her. But I didn't know what to say. I just told her I'd have to talk to you first."

"Oh fuck. She's right though. I wasn't really cross with her. I know she loves me. But she's also insufferably loyal to my father. And I don't feel like she's really on my side. That's why I avoided both of them," he explained.

"Well she really misses you and loves you and will stop at nothing to see you. Did you know they had the goblins at the bank spying on you? They were telling your parents when you would arrive, but they always got there too late to catch you," she explained.

"Shit. They had goblins spying on me? I had no idea. They must have done a shitty job of it since it's been almost two years and they never managed to get to me in time."

"Yeah, well now your mum knows how to get to you better. She knows you're with me. And she knows where I work. So unless you see her, she's going to be a bloody thorn in my side," Hermione told him seriously.

"What do I do though? I don't want to go back to the Manor."

"Maybe you should? I mean, maybe your father will be so happy to see you that you can just put your differences aside?" she offered hopefully.

"Not bloody likely. My father is stubborn. And notice how he didn't rush off to the Ministry to see you. It was just my mum. He probably doesn't even want to see me after he saw us kissing in the paper," Draco lamented bitterly.

"You don't know that's true. Your mum said she only wanted you happy. Perhaps so does he?"

"Yeah because he's always been real concerned about that. All he cared about were appearances."

"But he wanted you happy. He gave you everything you ever wanted. Surely he did that out of love?"

"I don't know. I guess. If he even knows what love really is. I'm not so sure he does," Draco admitted.

"Just go and see them. How bad could it be? And if it is really bad, just leave. You never have to go back there again. But I think you should at least show your face. For your mother's sake," Hermione pleaded.

"I'm doing this for you. Just so my mum doesn't stalk you or drive you insane. But if it goes horribly, I will not go back no matter how much my mum pleads," Draco said firmly.

"Okay. But I do think this is something you need to do in order to heal yourself properly. You can't leave a huge rift in your life. It's unfinished business. This will at least bring closure if nothing else."

"Yeah, maybe you're right? I don't know. But I'll go. Tomorrow. Tonight I just need a drink or a thousand. Something to steel my nerves. I feel like I'm getting ready to face a firing squad."

She ran her hands through his hair and kissed him on the cheek. "It'll be alright."

Draco didn't believe her, but he knew she meant well. He never meant for his mum to hunt her down at work and bother her. Of course he never expected to be on the front page of the bloody paper either. He knew he should have refused to go to that stupid party. But what's done, was done. And now he had to face up to his family. And he had no idea what they would think of him or his life choices. But he wasn't expecting hugs and puppies. He was preparing himself for a battle.

The next day he sat on Hermione's sofa trying to get up the courage to go to the Manor. He already had three drinks and it was only eleven. Plus he knew showing up drunk wasn't going to win him any points. But he had to do something to calm himself. But he finally got off the sofa and prepared himself for the inevitable. He apparated out of Hermione's flat and right onto the grounds of his old home. It looked different. It looked overgrown. Or maybe he just wasn't used to being there anymore. The house didn't look inviting at all. It was big and looming and just stank of snobbery. He already hated it there and he hadn't even gone inside yet. He tentatively walked up the driveway and ran into the flock of peacocks his dad kept on the grounds. Stupid birds. They always seemed so pretentious to him. He ignored them and continued up the drive. When he got to the door he didn't know what to do. Should he knock? Just barge in? He had no idea. So he just knocked. It felt weird to knock at his own house, but he didn't live there anymore. And he never planned to live there again. It took some time, but eventually his mother came to the door.

"Hello Mum," he said as politely as he could.

She ran at him and hugged him tightly. "Oh Draco! You came! I'm so pleased. Let me look at you," she said as she held his shoulders and put him at arms length so she could scrutinize him. "What sort of clothes are these? And do I smell liquor on your breath?"

"Mum, don't give me a hard time. I'm here because you begged Hermione for me to see you. So here I am," he told her.

"Yes, okay. You're right. I shouldn't quibble over silly things. You look different though. Your hair isn't combed and those clothes are a bit shabby, you must admit."

"These are the clothes I like. And my hair is fine. Are you going to have me in or are we just going to critique my appearance on the doorstep?" he asked.

"Of course, come in. Come in. I'm so happy to see you. Where have you been?" she asked him as she ushered him into the foyer.

"I've been in London. I needed to get away from this house. I don't like it here anymore. Plus I needed to get away from all the fighting and prying into my life. It wasn't good for me here."

"Nonsense. This is your home. And I know you and your father didn't see eye to eye, but that's no reason to just up and disappear for almost two years! I was horrified. I was so worried. Why didn't you ever write to us to at least tell us you were okay?" she scolded him.

"I just didn't. I wanted my space. And the only reason I'm here now is because I don't want you bothering Hermione about me."

"Yes, Hermione. She seems nice. Are you in love with her?"

"Yes, I am. Does that disappoint you?" he wondered.

"I have no opinion. If you're happy then I'm happy," she said in a clipped tone.

"I bet Father has an opinion, doesn't he?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?" she told him, just as Lucius walked into the room and caught sight of his long lost son.

"Ah, the prodigal son has returned. I thought I heard your voice, Draco. Your mother said you would come, but I didn't believe it," Lucius told him.

"Well I'm here. And how are you, Father? Well I assume."

"I've been fine except for worrying about you. Obviously you've put your mother and me through quite a lot of stress these last two years. What do you have to say for yourself?" Lucius asked.

Draco shrugged. "I have nothing to say for myself. I wanted to leave, so I left. I was a big boy. I didn't have to tell you where I was going," he said defiantly.

"Very well, but it was not exactly the most considerate thing to do. To up and disappear in the middle of the night, and not be heard from for almost two years? What sort of son does such a thing?"

"A very angry one. Don't you get it yet, Father? I was angry. I didn't want to live like you wanted me to live. I didn't want to join your business or be a snobby asshole anymore. I wanted to be someone else. Someone different. And you wouldn't allow me that freedom. So I got the hell out of here."

"As if your life here was a bad one. I offered you everything. And your mother was always doting on you. What more could one ask for?" Lucius asked him.

"I wanted freedom. Not smothering or being told what to do or who to hang out with. And you never once said you were sorry for what happened to us with Voldemort. You were the reason he took over our lives. But you always told me to never speak of it again. But guess what? I couldn't do that! You just brushed it all under the rug!"

"What would you have me do? Dwell on it? We were found innocent of wrong doing. I saw no reason to sit around and mope about things. We were given the opportunity to have our lives back. That's all I was trying to do."

"Well I couldn't just go on about my life like nothing happened. I'd seen too much and been through too much. And the whole pureblood thing was nonsense to me. Voldemort himself was not even a pureblood, yet he somehow convinced everyone that purebloods were better than everyone else? That made no sense to me. And he was taken out by a half blood and a Muggleborn, so who is really better in the long run?"

"Yes, the Muggleborn of which you speak, you're now dating I gather. If the picture in the paper is any indication," Lucius said distastefully.

"The picture doesn't lie. Hermione is my girlfriend now. I can't wait to hear what you think of that."

"Does it matter what I think of that? You seem to have made up your mind against me and everything I taught you. Look at you. You look like a common Muggle yourself. And what is that on your arm? Is that a tattoo?" Lucius asked him.

"You mean the writing? Yeah, it's a tattoo. One that I actually got of my own free will," Draco told him.

"Honestly, what is wrong with you Draco? Rebelling against us just because I didn't say I was sorry? Fine then, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that Voldemort was part of our lives. Happy now? Will you stop this nonsense and come back home where you belong?"

"Yeah, that was a heartfelt apology. Thanks. I feel so much better now," Draco said sarcastically.

"Will you two please stop arguing? Lucius, just be glad Draco is home again. Stop berating him. And Draco, show a little respect. You're behaving appallingly," Narcissa told them.

"Mother, I didn't want to be here. I came for you. I don't know what you were expecting. That I'd just move back home again and forget about the life I've made for myself now? It's not going to happen. I am not coming back here to stay. And I don't care if either of you approve of my life now."

"You don't really mean that. Surely you missed your home?" his mother asked.

"Honestly, no I didn't. I didn't miss this place at all. I never wanted to come back."

"Don't you still love us? At all?" his mother wondered sadly.

He walked over to his mother and put his hands on her shoulders. "Mum, I will always love you. But that doesn't mean I'm going to live here. And frankly, it's up to the two of you as to whether or not you're a part of my life. I will not be told what to do or whom to date or what to wear. I won't be a good little boy and follow the rules of this family. I'm my own person. And if you can accept that, then fine. You can be a part of my life. But if you're just going to get on my case for everything, then I have better things to do," he explained to them.

"Fine, I accept your choices. Whatever they may be. I just want you back in my life," his mother told him sincerely.

"Father, do you have anything to say to me?" Draco asked curiously.

"What shall I say? That I approve of this Granger girl? Or the clothes you're wearing or the tattoo you got willingly?"

"It'd be a start."

"Are you going to marry this girl?"

"Maybe? Is that a problem?"

Lucius didn't know what to say. He wanted back in his son's life, but he was like a stranger to him now. He didn't know him anymore. He wasn't the same little boy he used to be. And he wasn't really pleased with how rebellious he'd turned out. He'd always fallen in line like a good Malfoy. And now he was defiant and deliberately doing things that would shame the family. And Lucius was just supposed to accept that? He didn't know how.

"I don't know what to say to you, Draco. This isn't how I raised you to be."

"No, it's not. Thankfully I escaped total ruination by your hands and grew a mind of my own. And I'm much better for it. Hermione is the most amazing woman I've ever met. You'd actually like her if you could look past your prejudices. But it doesn't matter. I don't need you anymore. And I stopped striving to be you. I'm me. And oddly enough, I kind of like the person I became. But you've made yourself clear. I'm not welcome here because I'm not what you groomed me to be. I understand. And I won't come here again."

"I never said I didn't wish to see you again. Stop inferring things from what I say. I'm simply at a loss. You are my son, Draco. I love you. And I want the best life for you possible. But you're making that difficult by rebelling against me," Lucius told him.

"I'm rebelling against your archaic ways, that's all. And believe it or not, that's not even why I'm doing the things I'm doing. I'm just living. And it just happens that the way I want to live clashes with how you want me to live. It's not a calculated move on my part to shame you or ridicule you. I'm just living."

"Alright. I give up. I won't have you up and disappearing on us again. If you want my approval, then you have it. I don't want your mother to suffer your absence because I'm too stubborn to accept your changes. And if you must hear it, sincerely this time, I really am sorry for what happened. It's my fault you were pulled into something you weren't equipped to handle. I exposed you to dark things that a child should never witness much less be a part of. Don't you think I hate what happened? I do. I never wanted you to be a part of my dark misdeeds. Perhaps if it had been your choice, that would be one thing. But you were forced into it, where as once upon a time, I went willingly. I didn't know what I was getting into, Draco. I must seem an old fool to you, but when I first joined Voldemort, I was just a boy too. A stupid boy. And when he came back, I felt I had no choice but to continue my allegiance to him. He would have killed me otherwise. As it was, he still threatened to kill us all, no matter what I did. I gave him you, and it wasn't enough. But I didn't do it willingly. I never would put you into harms way on purpose. So forgive me. I can't say anything else except that." Lucius told him sincerely.

Draco was stunned speechless. He never expected his father to actually apologize and mean it. This show of humanity was so unusual for him that Draco didn't know how to react. The only thing he could do was stare at his father until he eventually broke down. He couldn't stop himself. He sat down on the sofa and just held his head in his hands and tried to hide the tears that were flowing from him. His father always said crying wasn't allowed and was a sign of weakness. But Draco was only human and couldn't hold back. Draco's mother couldn't bear to see her son hurting so much and she sat down next to him and put her arm around him.

"Shh, it's okay Draco. You're safe now. Please don't shut us out of your life. We love you," she told him softly.

"I'm sorry, Mum. I didn't mean to make you worry or upset you. I was just so depressed and lost," he admitted. Then he looked at his father. "Father, all I ever wanted to hear from you was that you were sorry. I wanted you to acknowledge that you'd done something wrong."

"Draco, you know it's hard for me to admit such things. I want you to think of me as infallible. I wanted you to look up to me as you once did. I thought putting it all behind us was the best course of action. I didn't know how distressed you were. I didn't see it," Lucius said softly.

"I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. People were saying horrible things about me and you and all of us. I couldn't show my face in public. Plus, I had nightmares. Awful nightmares. I just wanted to die. I wished I had died," Draco admitted through his tears.

"Please don't say that," his mother told him as she smoothed his hair out of his face.

"I felt it. I wanted to die. I did everything I could to self destruct short of slitting my own wrists and just bleeding it all out. But even then I was a coward because I couldn't do it. I sat there one night with a knife at my wrists and I couldn't do it," Draco sobbed, feeling completely out of control for the first time in a long while. He was admitting to things he never even told Hermione and he shared everything with her. But not this. He couldn't bear to admit to Hermione that he had attempted to take his own life and failed at it.

"Oh my God Draco, you had a knife? What were you thinking? My heart can't take this. Please never do such a thing again! I couldn't live with myself!" his mother cried as she held him.

Lucius walked over and put his hand on Draco's head and smoothed his hair. "Son, don't ever try to hurt yourself for the mistakes I made. It's my fault. You did nothing wrong. In the end, you did nothing wrong. You were stronger than me because you defied Voldemort's orders. You were right to want to leave here because I was no role model. I wanted to be, but I wasn't. Just never even think of hurting yourself again. Life is worth living. At least if you don't give up. I'm telling you to not give up," his father assured him.

"I'm better now. I really am. I'm sorry for this heinous spectacle," Draco said wiping his eyes hastily and trying to pull himself together. "You must think I'm so weak, Father. Here I am crying like a little girl. I didn't meant to."

"Nonsense. You are just in pain. Do you think I've never cried in my life?" Lucius asked.

"No, you always told me crying was for girls and sissy's. When I fell off my broom when I was eight and broke my arm, you ordered me to stop crying and said I was making a fool of myself."

"Don't listen to me. What the hell do I know? I was just trying to make you into a man. But let me tell you, I have cried. I'm not inhuman or some sort of robot. I cried when you left here and I did so every time I failed to locate you and bring you home. And I cried when Voldemort made you his golden boy. I just did so in the privacy of my own bathroom where no one would ever see me. I had a reputation to protect. But I'm a liar. I've always been a liar. And I don't blame you for not wanting to become me," Lucius said honestly, even though it pained him to do so.

"Lucius, you cried? I've never seen you cry," Narcissa said with shock.

"As I said, I did so in privacy. Men don't cry. Except that we do. We just don't wish anyone to ever see such nonsense. But we're still human. Even I am, though I realize both of you have probably questioned that humanity in the past. Especially you, Draco."

"Father I spent my whole life trying to be what you wanted me to be. I thought I was less of a person when I couldn't live up to your expectations. I thought you'd hate me for the things I've done or not done. My life right now, you'd never approve. I live amongst Muggles. I pretend to be one. I have a Muggle automobile. And I'm in love with a Muggleborn witch who helped to kill the very man you pledged our allegiance to."

"I don't care. You are my son and I love you. And if you honestly thought of hurting yourself rather than face me again, then I truly have failed as a father and a human being. I know I'm not a righteous man. I've done a lot in my life that is considered horrendous and evil and I don't expect you to forgive that. But I've always put you above everything. Always. You and your mother are my shining achievements in this life. In the end, my family is all that I cared of. You must know that. Despite my actions to brush the bad things under the rug, I did it so we could live on and be happy again. That's all."

"I wanted to be happy again too, I just didn't know how to be. I know you expected great things from me, Father, but I was never much of a fighter. I was more of a jerk off using my words as weapons and not much else. When confronted with danger, I always just ran away. I wasn't a fighter. And I know that must disappoint you," Draco admitted.

"I didn't raise you to be a fighter. Nor did I ever imagine you'd have to be one. I never once for an instant thought you'd have to fight in a war. I just groomed you to be a proper gentlemen. Which I see has had no effect on you at the moment. But that's neither here nor there. I never intended you to walk the path you had to walk. You were braver than I because I was helpless. Voldemort despised me for my mistakes. But he coveted you. He thought you were on his side."

"I still don't understand that. I failed at the task he gave me. I didn't kill Dumbledore, Snape did. Why did he not punish me for that?"

"Because Snape stood up for you. He had a duty to protect you, and he didn't fail. I couldn't protect you, but he could. And he did. And for that, I owe him a debt of gratitude, except that he's no longer with us so I can't do anything."

"I just wanted to live my life. I never wanted to be chosen to carry out such dark deeds. I tried and I failed. My half hearted attempts at killing Dumbledore were a joke. And when I actually faced him, I crumbled. He was weak and ineffectual. I could have done it. But I didn't. If I killed him, then I became Voldemort. That's all I could hear in my head. If you kill me, you become him. Even though no one ever spoke the words, that's what I heard. I'm not a killer," Draco protested.

"Of course you're not," his mother assured him. "I didn't raise you to be a killer."

"But what if I'd done it? Would you two have been proud of me? Or horrified? I still don't know."

"I never wanted you to kill anyone, Draco. But if you had, then we'd deal with that reality. I honestly didn't know where you stood. I didn't know if you truly had allegiance with him or not. I was just trying to keep us all alive," his father told him.

"I was never on his side. I realize that I hated Harry and constantly complained to you about him, but the truth was, I was upset that Harry didn't like me. I wanted to be his friend and he hated me instantly. I wasn't used to that. So my only recourse was to detest him and make his life hell. But the honest truth was, I wanted him to win. I didn't want him to die. I wanted him to bloody annihilate Voldemort. I wanted to be free again and I knew Harry was the only chance we had," Draco admitted.

"To tell you the truth, I wanted him to win as well. I didn't want to be a prisoner anymore. I didn't want to live in fear. I wanted my family safe. And if Potter was the answer, then so be it. I didn't care. As long as Voldemort died, I would be happy. I knew I couldn't do it myself. And though part of me wished it would be you to turn and finish him, I knew you didn't have the wits about yourself to do such a thing. You were too scared. As you should have been. The whole thing was a disaster. The only saving grace is that Potter stood up for us at the hearings. He helped us. He urged them to let us go. And while I'd never admit it to him, I owe him. If not for his help, we'd all be in Azkaban right now."

"Harry still hates me. Even though I'm with his best friend, he detests the sight of me. I can't break through his exterior. He thinks all Malfoy's are scum. He won't even try to know me," Draco told them.

"Well it's his loss. At least this Hermione girl sees the real you. That's something," Narcissa told him soothingly.

"She does see me. She forgives me. She loves me. And if not for her, I might not be sitting here right now. I was a disaster area when she met up with me. I won't go into personal details, but let's just say our first meeting was a huge mistake brought on by lots of drink. She still hated me. But eventually she came around. And now she actually loves me. She gave up a life with a bonafide hero in favor of me. That says something. And she's had to put up with a lot of bullshit just to stand by my side, and yet she still does it. She was scared for me to come home and receive disapproval from you both for our relationship, yet she set that aside knowing that I needed to face you. That's how good she is. She'd risk losing me just so I could be okay again. That's what love is. And I don't care who her parents were. They could be from outer space and I'd still love her. And I'd hope that you two could someday accept our love," Draco informed them.

"Son, you know I wished you to marry a pureblood. I won't lie. It's been ingrained in me since my own birth. But I'm not going to stand in your way. If this girl loves you, then she has good taste. You're a fine man and any girl would be lucky to have you. I won't say a word about her heritage. I promise. I owe you that much, if you're willing to forgive my mistakes and allow me into your life. I know I don't deserve it, but if you let me, I will be here and support you. To hell with my old thinking. Where has that gotten me? It only made me lose my only son. And I won't stand for that," Lucius told him seriously.

"You really mean that? Both of you? You don't care if I'm with a Muggleborn? A mudblood? It doesn't upset you?"

"Draco darling, if you love her, we'll learn to love her. After all, she's still a witch. If you wanted to marry an actual Muggle it might be another story. But let's not go there," Narcissa said patting him on the back.

"So if she was a straight up Muggle, I'd be out on my ass then?"

"No, of course not. But it would be very awkward and weird. But that's not the case, so let's just not think of it. She's a witch. A talented and brave one. That's all that matters."

"What say you, Father? Do you feel as Mother does?"

Lucius sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I guess so. What good will it do me to disapprove? You'll just disappear again. I can't have that."

"You're right, I would disappear again. Technically you still have no idea where I live and I'm not certain I'm ready to tell you yet," Draco informed them.

"Honestly Draco, what do you think we'll do? Force you to come home? You're twenty years old. We realize we have no say in your life. Not really. Stop trying to hide from us," Narcissa told him with a hard look.

"Fine. I'll tell you where I am. But I'm warning you right now, you won't like it. It's dark and dank and smells bad. And I'm a horrible housekeeper. Mostly I stay at Hermione's. We don't actually live together, but we might as well be. I hardly go home except to get clothing. And even that's getting rarer as most of my clothes now live at her place."

"Well tell us where she lives then," Narcissa said plainly.

"If I do, I do not want any unexpected or uninvited visits. This is still my life. I won't shut you out, but you must respect my privacy. If you abuse this privilege, I will not be nice about it," Draco warned them.

"We promise not to come by unannounced or uninvited. Now just tell us where to find you if we wish to," Narcissa said pleadingly.

Draco reluctantly gave them the location and he hoped it wasn't a huge mistake. He'd lived in secret so long it was weird to tell his parents where he could be found. But he knew he couldn't hide anymore. He didn't want to. He'd gotten much more than he expected from his parents. From his father especially. They actually spoke like two human beings and that had never happened before. If Draco wasn't being bossed around, he was being ignored for the most part. He wasn't prepared for his father to be so open and honest with him. It was weird. And unsettling. But he liked it. He never knew his father to be capable of such human emotion and honesty.

When he finally left, he promised to come back again. Sooner rather than later. And they both wanted to meet Hermione properly. His mother had already met her, but his father never really had. Not formally. And not now that they were seeing each other. Draco had no idea what to expect of such a visit, but he promised he was at least open to the idea. And he promised not to be a stranger. Both his parents hugged him as he left. He felt more at peace with himself than he had in years. It was like a revelation to finally come home again and face what he'd left behind. Perhaps Hermione had been right when she said he needed closure, if nothing else. He couldn't keep things as they were. It wasn't helping him, it was only hurting him. He arrived back at home at Hermione's and just sat on the sofa and contemplated the visit. He felt different now. Somehow stronger and better for it. He wasn't entirely alone in the world, except for Hermione. He still had a family who loved him. And he knew that was more than Hermione could say. She didn't have her family anymore. So he was lucky. He just hadn't known that all this time. He expected scorn and reproach and did not expect love and acceptance. Those were foreign concepts to him. But it had happened that way. They didn't shun him or judge him. They embraced him. And he didn't know what to do with all the misplaced anger he still held. Where could he direct it now? He didn't know. So he just sat there and thought about it and absently petted the cat and wondered where did he go from here?

Lyrics: Buffy Musical Episode

Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we walk alone in fear

Where do we go from here?

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