They had just passed through the barrier into the Muggle side of Kings Cross when Calla's roommates came sprinting through it as well, calling for her. Calla dropped his hand and huddled together with them. Draco watched on warily, exchanging a look with Theo who just shrugged
"How did it go?" Lavender asked, gently clasping his witch's elbow. He stared at them, wondering what they were up to, until they both looked at him in such a way that he immediately retreated a few feet.
"She totally bought it," Calla responded, doing little to keep her voice down. "She's either very stupid or she thinks I am. She tried to flirt with Teddy right in front of me, for Merlin's sake! Like she hasn't been setting her sights on my betrothed!"
"What a slag," Lavender hissed.
"Seriously, that takes some nerve," Parvati agreed.
They were talking about Pansy, Draco realized. Whatever Calla was up to, she'd enlisted her roommates. He almost felt sorry for the girl.
"Don't forget to keep us updated," Parvati continued.
"Of course, and I'll owl regardless. And I can't make any promises but I'll definitely talk to Aunt Cissa about the two of you popping over for a visit."
At this both girls squealed, and did little happy dances which made Calla smile, but also squirm. Then they quickly said their farewells with hugs and cheek kisses, they waved to him and Theo, and then disappeared back through the barrier. Which is when Draco realized that Harry Fucking Potter had also emerged with his entourage and was apparently waiting to speak to her.
He remembered what Teddy had said on the platform, and he didn't want to cause a scene for Calla's sake, but when he saw the Weasel King standing next to his parents, looking at a witch who, until two weeks ago, he'd called his best friend like she was lower than something stuck on the bottom of his boot, he couldn't help but glare at the other boy. Calla didn't seem to notice.
She spoke in hushed voices with Potter and then hugged him. She turned to address the rest of his group. "It was good to see you all, have a good summer," she said with a bright smile.
Their former professor smiled in return, but it was weak. "You too, Hermione."
The Weasley father kind of twitched and then said: "You be careful, Hermione."
She stood up a little straighter at that. "I appreciate your concern, but I'll be with my family, Mr. Weasley. You don't need to worry about me." Then she gave a little wave, turned, and took his hand, pulling him away without looking back.
There was a car waiting for them which Calla had hired in advance from a magical car service which Draco hadn't even realized existed, and once it was all loaded up with their trunks they started to make their way to Diagon Alley, with his cousin in tow. Calla happily chatting to the other witch all the time.
Draco tried to keep quiet and just take in muggle London, a place he'd rarely been, but inwardly he was seething. But when Calla asked Tonks about the welfare of the members of the Order she hadn't seen, he snapped.
"Aren't you furious?" He demanded.
"About what?" She asked, toying with his fingers.
"About the way you so-called friends and now the members of the Order have been treating you now that they know you're a Nott? I mean, aren't they supposed to be the good guys or something?" He gave an exaggerated roll of his eyes.
She just stared at him for a moment and then her eyes narrowed. "Yes, Draco, it does make me angry that they would judge me for who and what my parents are, something over which I have absolutely no control. Isn't that terrible?"
Draco felt his face heat and he looked away. He was running out of legs to stand on when it came to the blood purity issue.
"It's not the same thing," Theo argued, and Draco realized that he'd started this, but now he wanted nothing more than for his friend to just shut up.
"You're right, it's not," Calla said and Draco's head snapped up and his eyes flew to her face, which was deceptively calm.
"From their perspective I'm the daughter of an inner circle Death Eater," she let out a long breath, "and he doesn't just happen to be my biological father. I was taken at five years old. I remember him. I love him still, they must suspect as much. And I've refused to go back to headquarters but, instead, chose to spend my summer with the wife and sons of two Death Eaters to whom I've already shown marked loyalty. I bet they're afraid that blood may prove to be thicker than water."
She paused and took a long breath, in and out.
"And I know things about the Order. Moreso, I probably know Harry better than anybody else in the world. On top of which, they've just lost the resources of House Black with Sirius' death and, ironically, my betrothed now has control over said resources." She let out another long breath. "I'm dangerous to them, or I could be, if I chose to be. I honestly can't blame them for being wary." She looked at Tonks, gaze suddenly sharp. "Is that about the long and short of it?"
The older witch stared, obviously shocked by Calla's analysis. Her hair had gone nearly white over the course of Calla's speech, but then she just pursed her lips and nodded.
"Is that why you're here?" Calla's voice was neither surprised nor disappointed.
Tonks sighed. "I'm not here to spy on you, if that's what you're asking. But I think it's important that you know that you still have friends in the Order. If the rest of them insist on pushing you away, you may eventually allow yourself to be pushed. My mother has indicated on more than one occasion that if her family had been even a little more understanding, a little more loving, she might not have left. I know it was almost impossible for her to leave Narcissa behind. If she'd been betrothed to somebody other than Lucius Malfoy I'm not sure that Mum would have been able to convince herself to leave."
"Wait, what?" Asked Draco, intrigued despite himself, these were things that were just not spoken of.
"You didn't know that our mothers were very close as children?"
"No, Mother doesn't talk about her. Though now it seems that might be for a different reason than I had assumed."
"That's how I got to know Calliope." Tonks frowned. "Hermione," she corrected herself, and then she grinned impishly. "Calmione."
Calla shot her a look that would have had Draco ducking for cover at that ridiculous amalgamation of her name. But then Tonks' earlier words really sank in, and he frowned in confusion.
Tonks had obviously noticed and responded to his unspoken question: "Both of your grandfathers forbade Narcissa from having any direct contact with my mum, but they had no authority over Lady Nott."
"Oh," Theo breathed, "she was their go-between," he surmised.
"Yes," Tonks confirmed with a nod of her head, "though they were friends in their own right. Mum was only one year above them in school."
"And what was it that you were saying before about my father?" Draco asked, unable to stifle his curiosity.
"My mother trusted your father to take care of your mother," she answered simply.
Draco fought back the bitter thought about how the man was doing a real shite job of that at the moment.
Theo looked at Calla, obviously troubled. "Why didn't she bring me along on these visits?"
"She called it our girls' secret, I think that was probably the only secret I ever kept from either of you, actually," she squeezed Draco's hand and smiled sadly. "I can only guess what she was thinking, but you remember how the late Lord Malfoy was..." she trailed off and looked at Draco apologetically.
He just shook his head. Whatever Calla was thinking, he thought worse. She shot him a tight smile and turned back to Theo. "Mother technically wasn't doing anything wrong but if he had found out he would have been furious and it would have been a big embarrassment for father, like he couldn't control his wife and that would have been ten times worse if she had involved his heir."
"You're right," Theo sighed, pushing his hair up off of his forehead. "But then why involve you."
There was a long pause and a sniffle. "Mother was so proud of us Teddy, so proud. I think she just wanted Andromeda to know at least one of us."
He nodded and reached across the seat to take her free hand. He let out a choked laugh. "Okay but what do you think the chances are that Father didn't know exactly what she was up to?"
Calla sniffled again and giggled. "Oh, 0%"
After a moment Tonks cleared her throat. "I'm very sorry about her, she was lovely. I've missed her."
"Thank you," they answered in tandem.
At that moment the Leaky Cauldron came into view and Draco had never been so pleased to see it. He was not built for these kinds of emotional conversations, at least not with anybody other than Calla, and especially not with Tonks who, cousin or not, was a stranger.
They went to Gringotts first. Calla was completely uninterested in her trust vault.
"I don't need any money, Teddy!" She was insisting even as they were barrelling towards the Nott vaults in a cart that Draco was fully convinced the goblins used solely for the purposes of terrorizing their customers. "I have plenty of my own."
Draco glanced at Theo and it was obvious that statement had struck a nerve.
Theo set his jaw and looked purposefully away from his sister. "So it's like that?"
"It's like what?"Her voice had become almost shrill.
Theo didn't even glance at her as he answered. "You're perfectly happy to take money from your muggle parents, but you won't use anything our parents set aside for you at birth? Are you so determined to deny your birthright, Calla?"
"Of course not, I didn't mean it like that!"
"How did you mean it then?"
"Just that I don't need the money. I'm not a particularly extravagant person."
"And what next, you won't need me?"
Calla's mouth dropped open. "How could you even say that. It's just money. You're my brother."
"Yeah well," Theo answered rather petulantly, scuffing his boot against the floor of the cart. "You don't seem to want much to do with our family."
Draco knew that he was being unfair, but he also understood where the other wizard was coming from. Calla opened her mouth to argue, but then promptly shut it, and he swelled with pride when she turned to him, obviously looking for help. He nuzzled her hair to disguise that he was speaking to her.
"We're about to go meet your parents," he whispered. "I think it's really hitting him that you have a whole other family that he isn't a part of."
She turned her face towards his and took a deep breath before speaking. "I- okay, that's understandable. But what does he want from me?"
"Exactly what he's saying, just a sign that you've accepted him. The money is yours inside the bank or out of it, throw him a bone and withdraw some."
"Oh," she breathed, she took several more deep breaths as she leaned heavily into Draco's side, and then she physically gathered herself. "Okay, Teddy, but I'm using some of it to buy you a present, I have years to make up for."
Theo scoffed but turned to look at her with a small smile and a nod.
By contrast, she was practically vibrating with excitement to visit the Black vaults. Not that she even glanced at the piles of galleons. No, she made a beeline for the books and heirlooms and began accumulating things with impressive efficiency until it reached the point that even between the four of them, and using magic, they had no hope of just carrying it all out of there. And so they sent Theo out to buy a new trunk using a good chunk of the galleons Calla had just taken out of her trust vault- Draco decided challenging her over who got to pay for it was a battle not worth fighting- and Theo was laughing so hard when he left that he didn't even manage to tell her that he'd told her so.
After that they only had time for a quick stop into Flourish and Blotts. While Calla was busy clearing their shelves Draco made an- absolutely necessary- run into Sugarplum's. He returned to find Theo ladened down with books while Tonks did her own browsing.
They both tried to assure Calla that between Malfoy Manor, Highvale Park, and the Black estate, they probably already owned a good portion of these books. They encouraged her to at least check the library catalogues before she bought duplicates, but she just murmured something about the books not being for her, and kept methodically moving through the store.
At some point their presence in the Alley had been noticed and there was a small press contingent when they exited the bookshop which left Draco feeling grateful that they were about to return to the muggle world, but also dreading what the next morning's Daily Prophet might bring.
They met his mother just outside of the Leaky Cauldron. It irked him more than he cared to admit that she had been obviously uncomfortable meeting the train on meeting them in Diagon Alley and as it did with each passing day, his anger with his father grew.
His mother went absolutely still when she spotted her niece accompanying them and Draco braced himself for, well, he didn't know what. Her blue eyes had become suspiciously glassy and she'd begun to swallow convulsively upon spotting the younger witch. "Nymphadora?" She eventually managed.
Tonks gave her a small but genuine smile and nodded. "Hello, Aunt. But please, for the love of Merlin, call me Tonks, or at the very least Dora."
His mother smiled brightly. "Dora it is, then."
And that had been that.
They re-entered the car that had been waiting for them, loading their purchases quickly. Draco refused to look at his mother, whom he knew was eyeing his large bag from the sweetshop- he refused to feel guilty, he'd bought for the other three as well, after all. But once they'd set off Calla started to do the oddest things: squirming, rubbing her palms against her knees; it was when she started to chew her fingernails that he snapped. He knew he should have been more considerate, more thoughtful of what she was going through, especially given the misstep he'd already made today, but he couldn't help himself, he hated it when she was upset.
"What's wrong?" He barked.
She actually startled in her seat at his tone. "What?"
He made a concerted effort to lower his voice. "I'm sorry, it's just that you're obviously upset. What's wrong?" He reiterated.
She looked at him with wide glassy eyes. "What's wrong, is that I can't pretend that there's nothing wrong anymore. It was one thing at Hogwarts, but here in the real world, to my parents…" she trailed off.
"What does that mean?" Theo interrupted. "The real world?"
"It means," she hissed, lurching towards him, "the world I grew up in. I'm sorry if that hurts you, but it's just the way that it is. And my parents haven't done anything wrong, how am I supposed to bring this down on them, not only who I am, but the reality of the way things are in our world right now?"
"Calliope," his mother began gently.
"No," she shook her head and waved her hand back and forth, "none of you can understand. I get it, you've all been through things I can't understand, but that goes both ways. This is going to break their hearts, no matter how I explain it, and I don't want to do it."
Draco had something like a breakthrough in that moment, or perhaps it had been coming in waves over the past couple of weeks: he felt incredibly grateful to have gotten her back, but as much as he was thrilled, it must be almost impossibly difficult for her to handle essentially melding two personalities, but despite that, she'd never once rejected him and so the least he could do was accept her, without question. "What do you need?" He asked.
She looked up at him, her eyes puzzled, but when she caught his, her expression settled into one of gratitude. "Just, stay with me, okay?"
"Of course," he let go of her hand and put his arm around her instead and she laid her head on his shoulder.
They rode along in silence after that, the tension in the car palpable, until he felt Calla tense up and then relax.
"What is it?"
"That's my house, up there on the left."
Draco looked around. He wasn't completely out of touch, he knew he'd led a highly privileged life. The houses they were driving past were nothing like Malfoy Manor, but he could tell that they were nice, comfortable, many of his acquaintances had grown up in less luxurious accommodations. He let out an internal sigh of relief at this further proof that she'd led a good life.
The front door to Calla's house opened as they exited the car and she practically sprinted towards it- she really had to stop doing that.
"Mum!" She cried as a pretty brunette stepped outside- if Draco hadn't known better he easily could have believed that she was Calla's real mother- the woman caught Calla as she burst into tears. She kissed her head and soothed her even as she beckoned them forward. Draco eyed their embrace, it was the first time anybody other than his mother or Theo had touched her that he had felt no jealousy or proprietary claim.
"You know, darling," Draco heard her murmur, "when you said you were bringing some people home I was expecting a happy occasion." He could tell that she was trying to make light of things, perhaps to help Calla save face, but then she froze, her eyes locked on Theo. "Oh," she breathed, with something like wonder, "you've found them."
Draco stood back a few meters, his heart in his throat as he absorbed the weight of her words. Theo had also frozen, but he immediately stepped forward when Calla's muggle mother grinned at him and reached out with one arm, requesting: "may I hug you?"
Much to Draco's surprise he practically sprinted to embrace the woman. And Draco felt a well of envy rise up in his chest at the sight, as irrational as he knew it to be.
At that point a man stepped outside. Draco knew that he was a muggle; Calla's muggle father. He wasn't even particularly physically intimidating, and so, of course, Draco was aware that he didn't have magic, yet Draco had never been so intimidated by anybody in his entire life.
The man that Draco knew to be Richard Granger looked between the various groups huddled in his front garden and sighed. "Perhaps you should all come inside."