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Chapter 3: Full Circle
It was time.
Hermione took in a long breath, smoothing her dress before she took her seat next to Draco, across from Cecilia and Robbie. Briony was to Draco’s right, and she looked murderous. She couldn’t believe what she’d just witnessed. Coming down the stairs, she’d expected to go out onto the porch and take in the night air, the illuminated garden, the Tallis manor shimmering in the moonlight. Instead, she’d caught Briony just disappearing into the library. The door was already cracked open when she went inside, and Hermione, curious, stepped closer, listening. What she heard made her breath catch.
She was quick to hurry away toward the door to do exactly as she’d planned as Briony made a beeline for the door again. She was just exiting the manor as Briony exited the library. Draco found her like this, her cheeks flushed and her breathing quick.
“Well, you’ve been conceived,” was all she’d said when he pushed a curl out of her face and arched an eyebrow. He hadn’t said a word, which was probably what made it worse. He hadn’t even met Robbie yet, and she knew he’d wanted to, and now his first real, tangible thought about him was that the Black family’s conception was in a library, in secrecy. And so sitting for dinner was tense and strange.
Mrs. Tallis set about introducing Draco and Hermione and their sudden arrival while Briony glared venomously at Robbie. Dinner conversation was filled with snide remarks and subtle hints. Robbie and Cecilia didn’t say much, at first, but then Briony was banished to her room, and the air almost visibly thinned. And, for the first time, Robbie turned his attention to Draco.
He was a handsome man, quite so, in fact, with soft-looking brown hair that was swept back, perfect and smooth. His face lacked any solid lines, making him look, if possible, even handsomer. His youth shone like a beacon, the round curves of his jaw and not-so-thin mouth. He was something to look at, which Hermione felt herself doing more than she ought to. And his eyes, bluer than any she’d ever seen. It was difficult not to get lost in them. He was dressed for the occasion, as well, in clothes so very similar to Draco’s.
Cecilia, too, was far more delicate and beautiful than Hermione had first imagined her. Her short brown curls were pinned back a diamond-studded jewel, one solitary curl framing her face. Her green dress looked like silk hanging precariously from her shoulders, but she looked absolutely stunning in it. Much unlike Robbie, her face was jagged and hard, from the strict lie of her nose to the angry furrow of her eyebrows. Hermione found her enticing.
“So, where is that you and Moira are from?” Robbie asked, curiously folding his fingers together in a very Dumbledore-like fashion.
“Just outside of London. We were travelling for a bit of adventure and fell asleep on our train on accident. We ended up here and were walking for some time.”
Robbie nodded, clearly satisfied. Hermione smiled as he went on to get to know Draco, asking about what business he worked in, whether he’d been asked to join or not, and what it was like living by the bustle of the city. Draco seemed immensely pleased to be conversing with his great something grandfather, and Hermione just smiled. Cecilia even partook some in the conversation, and all was well until Briony burst back into the room with a note from the twins saying they’d run away. They were her cousins, come to stay while their parents divorced, and, though Hermione knew she couldn’t stand them, she also saw this as a way to separate Robbie and Cecilia.
Immediately, the dinner party dispersed, running off in different search groups to find them. Hermione barely saw them leave the house, however, for Draco was pulling her away from everyone and up the stairs. His steps were quick, frantic. He pushed them into their room, out of breath and his eyes wild.
“What’s wrong? Shouldn’t you be outside looking for the boys with the others?” she asked, and then she saw how frightened and open his face was. She could read every emotion he was feeling at the moment, something she’d never witnessed before with him. “Draco, talk to me,” she whispered, putting her hands on either side of his face, stepping close to him.
He looked at her for a long moment, and Hermione should have realized the way his eyes continued to flicker over her lips. “This is it,” he said, his voice hoarse, “This is when they’re separated. I can’t go out there because I can’t chance changing that. It needs to happen; otherwise, I’ll never be born. The Black family will disappear from existence.”
And Hermione should have realized that this idea was what would set Draco off into a frenzy of emotions. The mere thought at his friendship never occurring with this beauty before him erased all doubts he’d ever had, and he lunged forward, pressing his mouth to hers.
Hermione didn’t respond at first, too shocked to truly comprehend his actions. And then his tongue slipped along her bottom lip, and she came to life, her grip tightening on his face and her mouth bursting with excitement and movement. They kissed fervently, and Hermione’s mind was far away, back to hearing Robbie and Cecilia in the library, back to understanding Draco’s shock at meeting Briony, back to their own sounds in the library, laughing and flirting, back to the butterflies she’d kept suppressing everytime Draco came by her way, and she stayed far away as she tugged at his clothes and desperately tried to slip out of hers.
It seemed almost appropriate that such an event should occur the same night the Black’s birth had. But they didn’t make love. They came close, but the first gasp of bare skin brought Hermione’s far away mind back, and she stopped them, her hands on Draco’s chest.
“Not yet,” was all she said, and he looked into her eyes, and he understood. Not here, not in this time, not this early in their blossoming relationship. And so they dressed in their old school clothes, and Hermione took the time turner from Draco’s pocket, fitting it over their necks. She wasn’t sure how to do this, but she just closed her eyes, brought herself close to Draco, and spun the time turner.
She felt like she was being pulled in a million different directions, and, just like the lawn, they hit the floor abruptly. Hermione looked up just in time to see herself sneeze and the time turner jostle on the couch, and then they were gone, and they were right here, sitting up and brushing themselves off on the floor. Draco helped her up, and a smile lit her face as he reached over and kissed her delicately.
“Shall we?” he asked, holding out his hand. She just smiled and followed him out, fingers interlaced.
Cecilia Tallis looked down at the little baby in her arms before sighing and kneeling. She left him at the foot of the door, bundled up against the chill, and she banged her knuckles on the door before disappearing around the side of the house and slinking off into the darkness. No one would ever know.
I’m sorry to leave him like this, but I know that you will take better care of him than I shall ever. My heart does not belong to him, but to his father, and it shall be my dying duty to find him and bring his name to justice. His name is Phineas, Phineas Black, and he is beautiful. Please take care of him. Be kind to him and never speak of us until it’s almost too late. Please.
Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter-recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling. Everything Atonement-recognizable belongs to Ian McEwan.
Well, that’s it, in case you hadn’t noticed, blah. I’m sorry this was so short, but my attention span for it was dwindling quickly, and I didn’t want to leave it abandoned at some point. Plus, it was supposed to be short, and I think it took the turns it needed to. Thank you for reading!