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Chapter 22: Going Home
Thursday December 11, 1997
Ginny had been too cruel. If she had only realized Draco was trying to help and not overreacted as she had, he would not be hunched over the bathroom sink. Several spells later and the magic sun burn across his body was still scolding. He knew slightly that he deserved it. Good intent or not, Draco was not reversed in favors or deeds. The door to the bathroom swung open and Hermione gasped in the door way.
“I’m sorry I didn’t think there was anyone in here.” Hermione sighed and went to shut the door again.
“It’s fine I’m just trying to fix this.” Draco said pointing to his face.
“You’ll need a lot more than a wand to fix that face.” Hermione jibbed playfully, but the humor wasn’t reaching her eyes like it always had. She walked all the way into the bathroom and began collecting a few of her things. Toothbrush, comb, washes.
“Where are you going?” Draco asked.
“I’m just collecting my things. Tidying up a bit is all.” Hermione said without looking at him. “There are too many people using this bathroom for me to leave my toiletries in here.”
“You can’t out-sneak a Slytherin.” Draco said grabbing onto her sleeve. He caught her eyes intently and didn’t need legilimency to guess what she was doing. “Let me come with you.” He said sternly.
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re going home -” Hermione’s hand shot up over his mouth and she hushed him quietly.
“Please, no one can know. I cannot stand idly by as my parents face potential danger. I need to go. They could need me desperately.” Hermione whispered and slowly let her hand fall from his lips. “I would never forgive myself if something happened to them.” Desperation and anxiety was all Draco could feel flooding off the girl. He knew she wasn’t lying. The possibility of harm to those she loved was something she dreaded every day, it was what plagued her nightmares.
“Let me come with you.” Draco repeated.
“Why? What do they mean to you?” Hermione asked in a whisper. Her parents meant nothing to him. But the love she had for them meant she would die for them, and that meant something very important to him.
“Nothing, but I need to get out of this place. I’m losing my mind trapped inside the walls of this house day in and out. Besides if you run into some Deatheaters another wand wouldn’t hurt.” Draco said calmly as if there was nothing wrong.
“Only if you listen to everything I say. I’m in charge and you need to respect the orders I give if something happens.” Hermione said with severity. Draco merely nodded in agreement and silently sighed a breath of relief. He turned and grabbed his toothbrush from the holder on the sink.
“When do we leave?” He asked with a smirk. She placed a soft hand on his arm and imagined the tree covered corner across from her home.
A dark overcast sky gleamed down on them as they appeared in the muggle neighborhood. Hermione stood frozen to the pavement. There was something wrong. Draco glanced around looking for what she had too quickly noticed. Broken glass glittered in the fading light of a coming storm. She had been right. Hermione tore from her stance and sprinted towards her home with Draco close behind, the need to get to the house before her surged inside of him. Jagged glass pieces held in the first floor window panes, there was splintering of the door, and no lights were on inside. Without hesitation, Hermione flicked her wand out at the door and it flung open. Draco caught his arm around her hips as she blew through the doorway. In a single motion, he had her spun around behind him at a dead stop.
Keep quiet. Draco echoed in her mind as he gripped his wand tighter. A breeze trickled through the busted windows causing the door to creak shut. The echo of the door sounded across the house and Hermione stiffened her muscles, straining her ears for a noise.
My parents, it’s too quiet, I was too late, it’s all my fault. Hermione’s voice reverberated in Draco’s head as he tried to concentrate on other voices in the house.
The door? A firm male voice slipped into his thoughts and Draco squared himself off in front of Hermione. She knew he must have felt something, heard someone still in the house. A long shadow peered into the hallway as footsteps slowly drew closer. Draco whispered a spell so softly she had barely caught it. Ropes accumulated and noiselessly crawled down the walls of the hall towards the intruder. Hermione shoved for a position at his side, she didn’t need a shield, she needed to fight if necessary. The ropes looped around the corner and the pair watched as the shadow dropped to the ground, gasping and gurgling echoed. Hermione pushed passed Draco and cautiously made her way towards her kitchen where she could hear the person kicking against the floor. Her wand outstretched, she ignited the room in bright white light and immediately let it fall from her fingers.
“Draco stop!” She shouted and rushed to the man, yanking at the ropes. Draco hurried behind her as the ropes disintegrated into nothing. “Dad, are you okay?”
“Bloody hell, I’m sorry. With the look of the house I thought you were the intruders.” Draco said quickly and helped the man to his feet while Hermione flipped the lights on.
“The house was broken into last night. We were just on the back porch with the police.” Hermione’s father said rubbing his neck. The rope burns screamed red and Draco wanted to kick himself harder. He waved his wand over the marks causing them to lighten and disappear.
“If I had known -” Draco tried apologizing again, but was silenced gently.
“You have a protective one here, love.” Hermione’s father said to her. “Graeme, nice to meet you, under the circumstances.”
“Draco Malfoy,” Draco held out his hand and was surprised by the firm shake he received from such a soft looking man. He was thin, had gentle features, and looked too kind for his own good.
“Hermione?” A shocked and excited woman came in from the back door. “We didn’t know you were coming!” She hugged Hermione tightly, flattening the girl’s hair lovingly against her shoulders.
“I had heard about suspicious things. I wanted to check to make sure you both are okay.” Hermione said with a shaking voice. Draco watched the nervously relieved smile twitch on her lips. The awful thoughts that were running through her head not a minute ago were too much for a person to handle.
“We’re alright. Nothing was stolen, thankfully. There was barely any damage aside from the first floor, right Jenne?” Graeme asked his wife.
“Nothing missing at all. Same with the neighbors as well. Every house on the street was broken into but nothing more.” Jenne agreed.
“I could fix the damage.” Draco offered noticing the piles of cardboard ready to be stuck over the open windows.
“Oh no dear, that’s more than unnecessary. We don’t ever ask Hermione to use her gift for our sakes. It would be taking advantage of her, and we won’t do it to you either.” Jenne said waving him off.
“Mum it’s not a problem. Draco is much better than I am. It would take no effort at all, and I’ll help. It’s better than spending the money or sleeping through the night in an unsafe house.” Hermione added, but Draco had already started. Glass was jumping to life on the floor and springing back to their place in the pane. The cracks through the glass retraced themselves and disappeared.
“Protective and smart,” Graeme whispered with a smile and nudged his daughter. Hermione blushed bright red and hushed him quickly.
“I’ll make some supper for you both. It will be a small repayment for helping us, Draco.” Jenne insisted and Hermione led Draco to take a seat at the table. Hermione sat across from him and watched her parents closely. Her father walked up behind her mother as she prepared vegetables to toss in a pot. He rubbed both her arms softly and kissed her cheek. They were happy, still in love, and safe. Draco turned back to Hermione and looked at all the features of her face. How could someone so smart, selfless, and caring be so beautiful? He thought. Her only flaws were being too smart and caring far too much. But, those weren’t even flaws to be ashamed of. If anything, they were her best qualities as well. And her eyes. It was nearly impossible for him to form a proper thought while gazing into their depths, but he would stare until his eyes fell out if he could.
The moon showed through the clouds into Hermione’s small bedroom. The quant twin bed sat delicately in the middle of the room with shelves and pictures decorated around it. Hermione had noticed the missing picture the moment she walked in. But, there was nothing she could say, so she pretended to sleep. It was a photo of herself in between Harry and Ron the summer before fourth year. The last summer they had spent just having fun and being happy with each other. The frame sat still on her desk for the past few years never moving, and now it was gone. Not a single thing was missing from the home except for that photo. It made perfect sense to her. It was a ‘search and destroy’ mission. The intruders searched and found what they were looking for. The family and home of Hermione Granger. Now she worried as to when they would ‘destroy’. She heard creaking in the living room again. It had been almost two hours since she heard Draco leave the guest room and pace around the first floor. He was as restless as she was, and the silence was beginning to allow her to think too drastically over her parents. The sheets tossed to the edge of the bed and she quietly walked from her room and down the stairs. Draco slowly paced the living room, the floor creaking every so often.
“Can’t sleep either?” Hermione asked and leaned her shoulder against the doorway.
“You were thinking a lot and I was having trouble blocking it out.” Draco said with a tired voice.
“Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t know that I was keeping you awake.” Hermione said feeling terrible. “You weren’t supposed to hear any of that.”
“I know, but I did.” Draco stopped pacing and stared at the wall. He knew she planned to obliviate her parents’ minds before they woke up in the morning and send them off somewhere far away.
“There is no other way. If they think I’m their daughter they will be murdered, or worse.” Hermione said with a pleading voice. She was right as always. If her parents were caught and linked to Hermione, they would be tortured to their edges and then murdered if Voldemort was feeling merciful.
“They’ll be attacked, I can promise you that much. I’ve seen the things the Deatheaters do with or without orders. I may have an idea that could work, but I’m waiting for an owl back.” Draco said gesturing to the open window.
“I’ll make some tea.” Hermione said with an appreciative smile. Draco followed her to the kitchen as she filled a kettle and began rummaging for tea. She smiled widely at the sight of a small tin and placed it on the counter. “I bought this tea when I visited Paris with my parents last summer. I’ve never opened it. I was afraid to waste it for no reason.”
“So you’re going to use it on me?” Draco said humorously.
“I’m using it for both of us.” Hermione corrected and placed the tin in front of him with two mesh infusers. “Fill them up while I grab mugs and cream.” Draco inspected the tin and recognized the name of the shoppe. Mariage Frères, his mother always special ordered tea from there. It wasn’t the best he’s ever tasted, definitely high quality, but he’d had much finer. Narcissa had a deep attachment to the store however. It was the first place she’d ever encountered her magical abilities. The clerk refused to allow her into the tasting room without a parent along, and every different tea on the wall clattered noisily to the ground. It was a story she enjoyed telling anyone who asked about the tea.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t a clue how to make your own tea. You couldn’t have been waited on that heavily as a child.” Hermione said noticing he hadn’t filled the infusers yet.
“You would be disgusted by how many things were done for me my whole life. But tea I can do.” Draco said and quickly filled the small mesh balls and slid them over the counter to her.
“Is everything alright?” Hermione asked.
“Yes.” Draco replied quickly. The whistling of the kettle cut Hermione off from prodding more. The far off stare that Draco had in his eyes was driving her curiosity to the edge, but she buttoned her lips shut. The infusers plunked into the steaming water and the strong aroma of tea leaves and spices wisped up.
“Come along, we’ll relax on the sofa until word arrives for you.” Hermione said picking up both mugs and returning to the living room. She sat down and stretched her legs over all the cushions wanting to feel relaxed and cozy. Draco looked at her with a raised brow, she was taking up all the room on the couch. Her heart suddenly pounded in her chest as he confidently grabbed her calves and lifted her legs so he could take a seat. With a gentle hand he replaced her legs on his lap and took his cup from her hands. She felt like her heart was going to jump from her chest from the touch of his hands over her bare legs. The situation had been played with many girls before, he could have her melted in his hands in a few minutes, but his gut told him to hold back.
“I’ve had this kind before, it was my mother’s favorite.” Draco said breaking the silence. Talking of his mother would pull his mind away from the softness of her legs.
“Did you go to Paris a lot then?” Hermione asked feeling the same relief of tension.
“No, she always had them send a different blend each month. The day those little boxes arrived was probably her favorite day of every month.” He smiled thinking of how much tea she would drink in those first days when the flavor was still new and exciting. Tea in the garden with delicious little vanilla bean cookies was their tradition for many years. He took another sip and relished in the familiar taste. He could almost smell his mother’s perfume mixed in with the aroma of the tea.
“I picked a good tea then.” Hermione said happy to share in a private moment with Draco. “I could have just gone with the old black tea bags my mother never drinks any longer.” She added with a laugh causing him to smile.
“Tea is tea, but yes it feels good to be drinking this again.” He went silent in thought staring at the creamy brown liquid in his cup. “It’s the small things you always think about. The little ticks of the person, their quirks and habits. That’s what you get to remember because those are the things that surround you every day to remind you they’re gone.”
“At least you have things to remember. Sweet little tokens that no one can take from you.” Hermione said leaning her head against the back cushion. “There are so many people that don’t remember the ones they’ve lost. Harry has no memories of his mother and father before they died. You should be grateful for the little you’ve been given.” She was always right, and at that moment he hated it. Hesitantly she laced her fingers in his and pressed his hand against her thigh. “That doesn’t mean it should hurt any less though.” Draco continued to stare down into his cup as he lightly squeezed her leg.
“In a different world, my mother would have liked you a lot. She wasn’t as devote as the others. The whole non-magical parents thing only annoyed her when the person took it for granted. That drove her insane.” Draco said with a laugh. “It is an incredible gift to be given to someone that wasn’t born to a magical family. To squander or disrespect such an opportunity was maddening for her.”
“I suppose we all simply judge based on what we assume. To be married to someone like Lucius, I merely thought she would be similar.” Hermione said apologetically.
“I’m told he used to be different. When he found out he would be a father, my mother said that he was incredibly happy and proud. And the day I was born, he didn’t put me down or let another person hold me for three days after. I don’t know what changed him. But one day, he just stopped. It was like I became an object to him, something at his disposal. I took on the ‘Lucius junior’ role pretty well after that.” Draco drained the last of his cup and placed it on the floor, his now free hand landed gently on her other leg. The skin was still hot from the mug and it sent shivers across her skin. A comfortable silence fell onto the room and Hermione stared off into his face as he watched his own hands. She placed her own mug on the floor and slouched further down the couch until she was laying flat with a pillow beneath her head. Slowly, her legs relaxed against his chest, knees bent up towards his chin. No thoughts were going through her mind; she was blank to everything but the desire to feel him closer.
“How long do you think it will be until a response comes back?” Hermione asked breaking the long silence.
“Not sure,” His warm breath tickled over her legs causing her to close her eyes, trying to ignore the sensation. She replayed the conversation she had with Harry in her mind. It was just an infatuation thanks to endless time spent over the boy. Draco tightened his jaw and inhaled deeply, his hand shifted over her knee and massaged her thigh lightly. He turned his head to look at her just as an owl screeched through the window making her jump in her skin.
“That answers my question.” Hermione said with a shakily humorous tone. Draco stood and took the letter from the owl and tore it hastily open. A smile spread over his face despite his annoyance for the owl’s poor timing.
“Would you like to borrow a flat I’ve just purchased in Germany?” Draco asked.
“What?” Hermione sprung up and stole the letter from him. “Why on earth would you do this?”
“You need a safe place to put your parents once their minds are altered. I have some disposable income that my father doesn’t know about, and I have favors that needed to be cashed in. The flat is in the name of a – friend – that no one knows, and it’s currently being furnished modestly by a few muggles, so it will be livable by tomorrow morning. Nothing to draw attention and it’s far.” Draco explained simply.
“Draco,” Hermione sighed, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Nothing to say. I have more money than I can spend already, and it’s only multiplying while I sit stagnant at that hell hole you call a headquarters. Needed to do something with it.” Draco added with a smile. “Just take it. This is the first sincere gift I’ve ever given someone so I ask you not to ruin it.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said softly as tears came to her eyes. So much stress washed away from her. She had a safe home to place her parents in where they will have no recollection of her, magic, Hogwarts, or their old home. It was so devastatingly perfect.
“Think you’ll be able to sleep now?” Draco asked with a hint of his old arrogance.
“I can manage,” Hermione said wiping her eyes, laughing lightly. With a tight hug and another heart-felt ‘thank you’, Hermione disappeared into the dark house and back to her safe bed. Draco felt uncomfortable in his own skin. He wasn’t accustomed to selfless acts, or being appreciated. Part of him wanted to abandon the flat he’d bought and play it out as a cruel joke when Hermione awoke the next morning. But, he couldn’t do that. The change into a real person, someone of substance and worth was necessary. He couldn’t continue on as his father’s replica. It was fruitless and he hated himself more as that person. With the owl gone and payments in order, he followed in Hermione’s steps back to his room, but he couldn’t make it to the bed. The feeling of needing the girl close to him was awful. Concentrating hard for a few moments, he had her mind clearly flickering through his thoughts. He found himself in her room back at the hideout. Dim lights and a newspaper with his face laid scattered to the floor. Her memory unfolded, the pounding of her anxious heart echoed through his own. Draco smiled, she was imagining the night they had almost kissed. He knew she had been lying about her misconstrued emotions. Hermione wanted him as badly as he wanted her. Suddenly, the images from her mind shifted. She had pulled him into the kiss, Harry never interrupted them. He watched as the imaginations ran their hands over each other and he couldn’t take it. The flashes ended and Draco rushed to her door. If he turned that knob, he knew there was no going back. He would be admitting those secret feelings to not only her but himself. Was he ready for that? The thought barely phased his conscious when he opened the door.
Soft lavender filled his nose as he walked into her room. The small desk light was scantily enough to see anything except the girl in the bed. Hermione startled slightly and stared deep into his eyes waiting for him to speak. It felt like an eternity as he moved closer, wrapped his hand around the back of her neck, and leaned in almost touching her nose.
“Draco –” Hermione whispered, frozen in his eyes. She had no clue what she was going to say, but she needed to say something. He disagreed. His lips, slightly parted, collided into hers with soft frenzy. She shuddered beneath his touch making him pull her closer in desperation.
“What?” He pulled away and asked in a whisper. Hermione gripped her sheets tighter and gazed up into his swirling eyes. She released the sheets suddenly and wrapped her fingers in his shirt, pulling him on top of her.
“Nothing at all,” She responded in a breathy tone. Hesitantly her hands travelled to his shoulders and around his neck. His eyes fluttered shut with the sensation giving her sudden confidence. She leaned up to take his lips back forcefully. Fire erupted across her body as he pushed her back into the pillow. Passion flowed from both their lips while she trailed her nails from his neck to his chest. She felt as if every thought was being engulfed in the flames. It was complete and total thoughtless bliss. She wanted to feel the fire burn brighter.
Author's Note: I'm devoting some time the next few weeks to complete this story. It's been sitting too long! Let me know what you think, and if you're still reading :D