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Chapter 3: Dolly for a Darling
In one of the High streets of London
Hermione lifted her head slightly as the warm spring breeze hinted that summer was around the corner. The flowers were vibrant and beautiful, the sky had an endless blue like the colour of her daughter’s eyes and it took a lot for most of London’s townspeople to get angry these days; summer was definitely on its way. It had been three weeks since Hermione had left her quaint little cottage in Devon and had travelled to make amends with her old friends and she had thoroughly enjoyed her stay in the Potter’s household. Mia was delighted with her new found friend and the pair of five year olds was causing trouble day after day with magic. Only last week Ginny had found James levitating Mia in the air while eating a lollypop. Mia had giggled as she flew effortlessly round in a circle; scaring the sparrows that were napping in the Great Elm Tree.
Ginny had been furious with James and the boy had spent the rest of his afternoon with his mother cleaning. She had been a little annoyed at Mia but Hermione had explained that Mia didn’t realise she used magic and didn’t really know the boundaries of what she was allowed to do. Ginny had raised an eyebrow at her best friend’s lack of teaching but nodded all the same; Hermione had promised her that she would explain to her daughter about the Ministry’s rules soon.
The question of Mia’s father had been brought up quite a few times since their arrival but Hermione had managed to divert Ginny’s queries to other, less interesting topics, such as how Ginny’s job was going and how the rest of the Weasley clan were doing. The Red head hadn’t been too impressed with Hermione’s lack of information but Hermione was unable to explain the complicated situation that ended up with the honey eyed girl becoming pregnant. Only earlier in the day had the pair been arguing about what had become a regular topic of conversation.
“Hermione, you know that you can tell me who the guy is, I’m not going to judge! And even if you’re worried about Harry knowing then I just won’t tell him!” Ginny stood beside the kitchen counter with her arms crossed, her frown making her look quite like Mrs Weasley when she was telling off Fred and George.
Hermione rolled her eyes half-heartedly and smiled at her best friend with a little impatience, “Gin, I know that you can keep a secret and I know that I can tell you anything but I really, really don’t want to talk about ‘him.’ It’s too much of a touchy subject and it was a mistake what happened between us,” She turned and gazed at her daughter through the window, her eyes glazed over at the memory of the night she was conceived, “But I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.” She turned back to Ginny and noticed that she was shaking her head in confusion and a little annoyance.
Hermione sighed, crossed the living room and placed a reassuring arm around Ginny’s shoulders. “Gin, I know that it’s frustrating for you but think of the situation. What would happen if you and Harry knew who the father is, then one day Mia starts asking questions. She then finds out that I’ve been keeping the truth from her but everyone else has been told which will probably cause an argument and possibly even a rift in our relationship. I know that you think that I’m overthinking things, but for Merlin’s sake, the father doesn’t even know that Mia exists. All he probably remembers is that he drunk his way down to the bottom of a bottle and ended up having loveless sex with a girl that he didn’t even know he’d spoken too.”
Ginny looked at Hermione and raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Hermione, are you saying that the guy doesn’t even know he slept with you?!” The chestnut haired brainiac circled away from Ginny and looked back out the window to see what Mia and James were doing. It seemed that they were taking it in turns to chase the gnomes that had managed to squat in Ginny’s begonias. Mia was trying to coax one of the uglier ones with a tiny daisy chain that Hermione presumed had been specifically made for the gnome in question.
“He did know me, and at first, the conversation was brash and sarcastic but once we started talking…and drinking, the pair of us actually started having a good time and then it just…sort of…happened. I don’t regret it because what the night gave me is worth more than a sore head and a guilty conscious.”
Ginny laid a comforting hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “I’m sorry Mione, I didn’t realise that, that night meant so much to you.”
“It didn’t really. It was just a one night stand but…but it also showed me the possibility of moving on without Ron. I know it was a disgrace to his memory that I slept with someone in a drunken stupor only a week or so after his death but that night was the first time I smiled since I held my dead Fiancé in my arms. In some ways I wish that the guy does remember but in other’s I don’t. Unless I see him which is very, very unlikely I don’t want to mention him.”
Ginny nodded, “Okay, I’ll give it a rest.”
Back to present moment
Hermione shook her head because she knew that Ginny’s silence wasn’t going to last very long. ‘Never mind about her, focus on shopping for Mia’s birthday present.’ She nodded to herself and headed towards the Leaky Cauldron. Ever since the mother and daughter had arrived at the Potter household, Mia had been interested in magic. She had specifically asked for some ‘magic toys’ for her sixth birthday and Hermione had sighed at the thought of her daughter aging another year. Gone were the days when she couldn’t even roll onto her side without my help.
Shaking her head as she entered the dirty looking pub, Hermione turned to see that it was surprisingly empty for a Wednesday afternoon. Tom the barman was still standing at the bar rubbing down butter beer glasses but he paused once he heard the tinkle of the bell above the door.
He waved to Hermione in acknowledgement and carried on rubbing down the glasses. The pub seemed slightly eerie without its usual bustle of customers and Hermione found herself hugging her arms as if there was a sense of danger about the place.
“Tom? Where are all the customers?” The barman raised his head and gazed around the room noticing that it was only him and Hermione actually in the pub. He shrugged his shoulders, “There’s a new pub now that’s just been built in Diagon Alley. I don’t get ‘alf as many customers as I used to and the one’s that do com’ere don’t like paying my prices. I have to charge three sickles for anyone to use the wall in the back nowadays, just so I can pay the bills!” Hermione was surprised by Tom’s sudden outburst of anger; the man always seemed to grunt his way through life.
She strolled over to the counter and placed a galleon onto the surface, “Here you go, and keep the change; I guess times are pretty hard for you these days.” Tom snatched the galleon off of the counter and bit down hard onto it to make sure that it was real. Hermione backed off slowly and quickened her pace towards the back door where the wall to Diagon Alley lay.
Tapping the sequence on the bricks, Hermione stood back to watch as the wall broke apart to reveal the Wizarding high street behind it. Diagon Alley was bustling as usual and Hermione noticed the new pub that Tom had been talking about; it was situated right next to Weasley’s Wizard Weazes, which of course, was thriving with life. She smiled as awed children pinned their faces to the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies looking at the latest broom. She remembered the time when she was heading into Flourish and Blotts and had noticed the other two members of the Golden trio looking lovingly at a Firebolt that was hanging in the window, which Harry later acquired from his Godfather Sirius.
Heading down the cobbled pathway that separated the crooked buildings she noticed the tiny children’s toy store that lay between Madam Malkins and Slug & Jiggers Apothecary. The sign was like a colourful rainbow which read ‘Magda’s Magical Toys for all ages’. She stepped inside the store and found that she was assaulted with the smell of gumdrops along with a chorused hello that seemed to come from a collection of teddy bears over to her right. She nodded at the bears and turned away, her eyes wide with surprise. Whoever designed them probably had no friends as a child…
“Hello, how may I help you?” Hermione stopped in her tracks as she noticed who was standing behind the counter: Draco Malfoy. His hair was as floppy as ever and the smile that was plastered on his face evaporated once he realised who was in front of him.
Hermione grinned weakly and retreated back the way she came. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! Why on earth is he working in a kid’s store! Why does he have to be in this kid’s store!
“Granger wait up!” She felt a slight tug as Malfoy managed to grab onto her arm. She spun around to face him.
His bluey grey eyes were alight with surprise as he looked down upon her and all Hermione wanted to do was run. Trying to escape his gaze, she lowered her eyes and noticed that he was wearing a purple t-shirt that read ‘M.M.T for all ages.’ The dark jeans along with purple converses seemed to match well with the store’s t-shirt. Letting her eyes roam upwards slightly, she could see the muscular arms that were holding her firmly in position, the hand’s that were grasping her arms were rough and calloused but they did not bite into her skin, suggesting that they were used to being gentle. I remember how those fe- no, no don’t go there!
She shuddered at the memory and tried to shake off Malfoy’s arm, “Malfoy, do you mind?!” She gestured to the hands holding her fast and looked back up into the face of her childhood nemesis. However, unlike when they were children, Draco’s face didn’t show a hint of malice or hatred. Instead, the tanned face held a genuine smile and friendliness. Feeling slightly guilty for her brash manner, Hermione decided to change her tone, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so snappy, been a hard morning, so do you mind?” She glanced back down to his hands which instantly retracted from her skin. She decided to ignore the goosebumps which were now decorating her arms.
Draco chuckled. “Sorry, it’s just that I’m so used to people running from the sight of me that I have to use physical action to actually make them stop and listen.
She raised an eyebrow and he smiled weakly, “You know what I mean.” She nodded and stepped back slightly so that he was no longer invading her personal space.
“So, what brings you to Magda’s Magical Toys for all ages?” Draco rocked back and forth on his heels to break the obvious tension between them. Hermione toyed with a loose curl that had managed to escape from her pony tail and replied, “Oh I’m looking for a birthday present for my-“ She paused as Draco listened to her intently. She was slightly unnerved by the way he was studying her, as if she was a piece of meat that he was unsure to buy for dinner. There was no way that she was going to tell him about Mia so she carried on with “friend’s daughter. She wants something magical for her birthday but she’s a bit young for anything too serious.”
She shuffled over to the shelves holding the talking bears, “Who would have charmed a teddy bear to talk?” The next thing she knew was a little paw had managed to swipe her ear. “Hey!” Draco chuckled as Hermione poked the brown bear that was leaning from his spot to tell her off. “Yeah, I’d be careful of what you say, they’re very touchy sometimes.”
Hermione glowered at him and sauntered over to another shelf where a sign said ‘Personalise your own Doll today and have your friend forever and a day.’ She pointed towards it, “What’s that all about?”
Draco seemed to glide over to the shelf that held all the moulds that would soon be made into a doll. “Oh, erm, well what I do is-“
“What you do?” Hermione stared at Draco with a look a surprise etched across her delicate features.
Draco shuffled uncomfortably under her stare and squared his shoulders. He shrugged and Hermione could sense that his usual offhand nature was about to seep back through. “Yeah, what I do. Is that a problem?”
Hermione smirked as she realised that she’d hit a nerve. “No, no I just never thought that I’d see the ‘almighty’ Draco Malfoy working with…dolls.” She bit her lip to stop her from laughing as she saw him grumble.
“Well yeah, whatever, anyway what I do is, that I ask the customer what characteristics they want for the doll and how they would like them to be dressed and then I mould it and put it into a kiln. I also charm the doll so that they are almost lifelike, although only the children will be able to see them walking around and playing; not the adults. It’s like they have a secret best friend.”
Hermione was shocked by the sudden affection that Malfoy was showing for his work. She had never seen this side of him before. Well that’s not technically tr- shut! Up!
Worried that her exterior was showing the mental battle she was having, Hermione picked up one of the moulds and noticed a yellow tinge to it. She examined the mould more carefully and as if by magic, she could picture the doll that would be created from the clay. She turned to Draco. “Why is it yellow?”
Draco smirked his trademark as if he knew something that she didn’t. “It isn’t, what you’re seeing in your head is what you want the doll to look like for whoever you’re buying it for. If you’re seeing yellow in the mould then there must be a special reason – you obviously want the doll to feature yellow in some sort of way.”
Hermione nodded in understanding, “Yeah the little girl, her favourite colour is yellow and she has almost pale blonde hair.” She grew slightly nervous at the detail she was giving about her daughter, hoping that Malfoy hadn’t noticed.
Draco nodded at the connection of colours and asked, “So are you going to get it moulded? Or would you like to look at something else?” Hermione pondered it for a moment but then sighed, “It is the perfect present for her and I know that’ll she love it. How long will it take to make?”
Draco tapped his pen and considered the average amount of time. “Well, it depends on what you want the doll to have, the more detail the longer it will take. When’s the birthday?”
“On the 18th ofMay; three weeks away.” Hermione glanced at Draco nervously. He sat staring at her for a moment, his eyes filled with curiosity, as if he was going to say something but he decided against it and responded with, “Right well I’ll be able to get even the most detailed done by that date. What do you want the doll to look like?”
He retreated towards the front counter that he had been originally sitting behind and picked up a hard backed notebook. On the front read; ‘dolls’.
Hermione followed and watched patiently as Draco flicked through the pages covered in ink to a fresh one. She regarded the neat script that lay on each page and was surprised that it belonged to the pale blonde in front of her. She had always expected his writing to be rushed and slightly harsh.
It took about 10 minutes to explain every minute detail of the doll that she had pictured in her mind’s eye but Draco didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he actually seemed to appreciate the integrity of her memory of the doll and when she had finally uttered the last trait, he sighed with what appeared to be satisfaction.
“This one should be fun to make; I’ve never had that much of a plan before.” This was true as Hermione’s doll had taken up a whole page, whereas others that she had glanced at were merely a paragraph or two. Some were only a sentence long.
She stood watching as Draco put the book back into its folder and waited until he had turned back around to face her before she spoke again.
“Well I suppose I should get going. You said that the doll will be ready in a week?” He nodded his body language one of laid back assurance as if he was displaying the confidence of his abilities in his posture. It was something the Draco Malfoy from school used to do. She shuffled from foot to foot a little and tried to fill the silence that was creating itself between them. Looking at the till she pointed and asked,
“Okay so do I pay you now or later?”
“Later, that way if you’re not happy with it I don’t have to refund you your money, I just change the doll again.”
“Oh, okay, well…I guess I’ll see you this time next week.” She turned to leave but was stopped by the calloused hand that was lightly grabbing her arm. Turning round, she saw that Draco looked almost imploring.
“Yes.” She was tentative at the mention of her first name.
“I was wondering, about… do you, do ever think,” He cleared his throat and twitched slightly which made a small smile appear of Hermione’s face; it was rare to see Draco Malfoy nervous. He shifted his gaze from hers. “Never mind, I’ll see you next week with the doll.”
Hermione nodded and strode out of the toy store. She didn’t notice that her old nemesis was standing at the store window watching her elegant figure walk away. Nor did she notice the black figure that seemed to melt into the wall as she passed the pathway towards knockturn alley.
A/N: Okay whatcha think? It’s taken me three tries to try and get this suitable for the story and I’m still not one hundred per cent about it so please read and review to help me improve. After so much waiting for the Blonde Hottie, he has finally appeared! How well did I represent him?