Chapter 1 : Eighteen again
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Father and Son
The moment I switched my mobile back on it started ringing.
“Finally! I’ve been trying to get you allday!”
“Hermione!” I said smiling. “How are you? Aren’t you in school?”
“I am. Well, not tright now, because phones don’t work in Hogwarts, but generally I’m in school. I need to talk to you.”
“Why? What happened?” I asked concerned about how serious she sounded.
“I can’t tell you on the phone. I don’t think they’re watching the muggle phone networks, but still... can I come over to your place tonight?”
“What? Yeah, sure! It’s been ages since you came to see me.”
“What time will you be home at?”
“Well, I’ve got to work until five and after that I’ve got my Flamenco class... I should be home by half seven. Continental time.”
“Okay. I’ll be there.”
“Great. I don’t suppose I have to pick you up from the airport?”
“No”, said Hermione and I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was smiling, “I’ll be apparating.”
“Do you need a fireplace for that? Because we don’t have any.”
“No”, said Hermione again, “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later.”
I put my phone down into my bag and decided to get a cup of coffee before starting my work. I was in University and had had courses all morning. I did Archaeology and would be spending the afternoon taking photos of broken bits of pottery and tiny fragments of metal. It was boring, but not as boring as the actual drawing would be, which I would have to do afterwards. That was my job in University. It might have been interested if my boss, Professor Schneemann, had ever worked on something interesting. But he didn’t and I got to draw the ugliest, most boring little bits ever dug up from the earth. It wasn’t too bad though, because we were a very small department and worked very well together. And today I had Hermione’s visit to look forward to!
I met Professor Schneemann by the coffee machine. I gave him a wide smile and said, “Hallo Herr Schneemann!”
“Hallo, Frau Granger!” he said returning my smile. Professor Schneemann is rather young for a professor and very hadnsome. Difficult personality of course, and the only one who doesn’t really fit into the team. He’s been with us for nearly two years now and doesn’t seem to like anybody. Which is why I am always smiling and friendly with him. I’m determined to turn him into a nice person.
“You’re looking very happy today”, he said and took the coffeepot.
“I am. My little sister is coming to see me today! Thankyou.”
He filled my cup and asked,
“How old is she?”
“You don’t see your family very often, do you?”
“Well, have a good time with your sister then.”
And with another smile he went back to his office and I returned to my camera and scrap metal.
I was a bit late after my Flamenco in the evening and hurried up the stairs to my flat, hoping to be able to do a bit of rough cleaning before Hermione arrived. But I was just locking the door open when ith a soft POP she just appeared out of thin air next to me.
“Gosh, Hermione!” I screamed and dropped my bags, because I have never seen her do that before and got the shock of a life time.
“I’m sorry, Helena, I didn’t mean to give you a fright...” Hermione said and looked at me worried. I started laughing and pulled her into a tight hug. Then we went inside. I dropped my bags into my room and then we went into the kitchen to make some tea.
“So, how are you?” I said and stuck the kettle on. “Let me look at you... jeeney, Hermione, you’re so... grown up!”
She sat smiling at my kitchen table, wearing jeans and pretty woolly jumper in green. Her hair was shorter than it had been when I saw her the last time and curling nicely around her face.
“I’m of age now.” she said. “In the wizarding world. So I AM grown up.”
“You’ll always be my little sister, I’m sorry. It’s been too long since I saw you, lovely. I keep forgetting you’re not five anymore.”
“And how are you?”
“I’m good”, I said, pouring the tea.
“How’s your job?”
“How’s your dancing?”
“God, I’m glad you said that!”
Laughing we went back to my room. Holding her mug Hermione walked around my room. I stuffed my Flamenco and Ballett gear into my wardrobe and shifted the clothes on my bed onto the floor so we could sit on my bed. Hermione was leaning over the piles of books on my desk to look at the photos that I had put up on the wall.
“Who’s that?” she asked, pointing at a photo showing me and Espen.
“A friend of mine. We do Scandinavian Studies tiogether”, I explained, hoping to sound casual.
“He’s very handsome.” That picture was taken on his birthday, just a shot, we had our heads together and were laughing about something.
“Do you like him?”
“He’s too young for me.”
“How old is he?”
Hermione took a seat on the bed, sitting across from me, facing me.
“Helena, are you going out with anyone?”
“No”, I said. “Sadly enough I’m not.”
“But you like that twenty-two year old bloke, don’t you?”
“I do, but he’s got a girlfriend.”
“And there’s nobody else you’d like?”
For a fleeting instant I thought of Professor Schneemann, but he was married. And I didn’t need to lie to myself, I just simply didn’t have a love-life.
“So you wouldn’t be missing anyone, if you, say, went on a journey for a while?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, I told you on the phone that I need to talk to you. The thing is, we might be needing your help.”
“My help? With what?”
“You remember my friend Harry?”
I did. Once I had come along to that crazy street in London, where Hermione bought her school things. That was years ago. She was thirteen then, or maybe not, maybe she wasn’t even thirteen then. I was nineteen, so she would have been nearly thirteen. Hermione’s birthday is in September and mine’s in December. We never got to spend a really huge amount of time together, Hermione and I. I was six when she was born and she was a tiny baby. Then I went to boarding school and only saw her in my holidays. And then she got a letter when I was leaving school that she was a witch! And she went off to witch school and I left England. I was really really jealous. She was my little sister and somehow you can’t be jealous at your little sister, at least not when you love her so much as I love Hermione, but I would just have loved to be able to do magic... So compared to the witch in the family I didn’t feel particularly special. I tried to do something special in my life and travelled a lot. I lived in Ireland for more than a year and then I went to Sweden. After that I worked in France for a while. And there I met a german man, fell in love with him and followed him to Germany. But as these things happen we couldn’t stand being around each other anymore after three years. Sadly by the time we broke up I had entered University and was quite advanced in my studies. It would have been stupid to not finish them and even though I wasn’t very enthusiastic about my degree and would have loved to see a new country, I stayed in Germany.
I never saw Hermione do much magic though, because even though I always made sure I would go and see mum and dad while Hermione was there, she was not allowed use magic out of school. But this one time she took me along into Diagon Alley and that’s when I saw her wave her wand and buy all sorts of weird things and met her friends. It was a brilliant day, and it was fabulous to get a glimpse of the world that my little sister lived in.
I remembered that boy, Harry. Crazy hair and dazzling eyes. And the other kid, the red head. Taller than Hermione and Harry.
“I do, yeah. And your other friend. Ron?”
“Yeah. Well, he’s actually my boyfirend now.”
Hermione blushed slightly.
“Anyway, you remember what I told you about Voldemort, the wizard who killed Harry’s parents?”
”Yes. You said he came back. Last year. No, the year before.”
“That’s right. He is back and he’s killing and he’s getting stronger. He’s getting more and more allies.”
“But why does he not kill us? I mean us non-witches? After all we’re the one he despises, aren’t we?”
“He does. Only you are not being told. All those terrorist bombings? That’s him.”
“Yeah. And that’s not all of it. But the thing is, we can stop him. Harry can.”
I emptied my mug and put it down onto the floor next to my bed.
“How?” asked I and took of my skirt and my tights to put on something more comfortable.
“I can’t tell you”, Hermione looked at me apologetically, “but we’re working on it. Harry is the only who one who can actually defeat Voldemort one day, but there’s loads of other things that need to be done. Do you remember Draco Malfoy?”
“Isn’t he in your year? The guy who was always bullying you because mum and dad are non-magic? The one you hate so much?”
“I don’t HATE him...”
“It’s okay, Hermione. You don’t have to like everybody and be kind and friendly. Sometimes people are just pricks.”
“That’s the one. But you have met him once, remember?”
I thought hard.
“Oh, the blond kid?”
“Yeah. We met him in Diagon Alley, four years ago.”
“He didn’t seem like a bully though”, I mused, remembering the boy who had just stared at me. Hermione laughed again.
“Yeah, that’s because he just gazed at you. He was absolutely spellbound by you.”
“The attraction of a young man to an older woman.” I joked.
“It’s the only time I remember him keeping his mouth shut, when he would have had an opportunity to sneer. But anyway. He’s joined Voldemort.”
“What?” That kid?
“Yeah. He poisoned Ron last year and because of him Dumbledore died four months ago.”
“What? Your headmaster?”
What kind of a world did my sister live in?
“Yeah. Listen Helean, it’s complicated... there’s a war going on in the wizarding world, and Malfoy is on the other hand. Professor McGionagall however seems to believe it possible that it’s not too late for him yet. He’s still at Hogwarts, pretending to have abandoned Voldemort, but we think he’s spying on us.”
“He’s only a boy.”
“His father was released from Azkaban in summer. The wizard prison. Even though everyone knows he’s a Death Eater. He always gets away with everything.”
“What’s a Death Eater?”
“One of Voldemort’s followers. And now that his father’s back it’s only a matter of time until Malfoy becomes a Death Eater as well. You see, McGonagall for some reason wants Malfoy to join our side. And she thinks he hasn’t got the Dark Mark yet... meaning he hasn’t become a full Death Eater yet. She thinks if we can manage the other side to mistrust Malfoy and chuck him out, then he’ll be forced to join our side. I don’t know why it’s so important for her to have Malfoy of all people on our side, but she has her reasons no doubt. And she’s right. If Voldemort and the other Death Eaters kick him out, he has no other place to go but our side.”
“So your plan is to spread a few rumours and lies and make him lose his reputation with the Death Eaters. How are you going to do that?”
“That’s where you come in. We need you to break his heart.”
“What?” I snorted with laughter. Hermione smiled.
“Yeah. We’ll fake a random meeting between you and him and you have to make him like you. So the rumour can spread that Draco Malfoy has a soft spot for a Muggle girl. If you agree to help us with this, Helena, you might even fake you like him too and get together with him – only pretence, of course – just for a while. The Death eaters are bound to kick him out then, they’d consider him a blood traitor.”
“You’re being serious?”
They were witches and wizards, they could do magic and had all sorts of powers and this was the plan they came up with?
“But why me?”
“Because we need a muggle girl. And you know all about our world and you’re my sister, so it would be easy to stage a meeting, you’re perfect for the part.”
“But I’m much too old! Why should he fall for a twenty-four year old muggle girl?”
“I’ll be twenty-four in six weeks.”
“We’ll give you a potion so you’ll be eighteen again. Well, your body will, you will remain the same person only your body will be eighteen again.”
“That doesn’t sound bad actually.”
“You’ll be totally convincing. You’re smarter than the average eighteen year old, obviously, but you’re not old and boring as other twenty-four year olds, you’re the perfect one to play the part.”
“But why do you think it’s going to work? If I do it, why should he like me?”
“Because you’re absolutely irresistable, Helena!” Hermione laughed at the expression in my face. “Malfoy even saw that in you fouur years ago. You are so sweet and charming and beautiful, you can make everybody fall in love with you!”
“I’m not so sure... You know I’m very insecure.”
“I know. But you know that you’re only insecure when it comes to men that you really like. And trust me you won’t like Malfoy. He’ll be like wax in your hands.”
I was still sceptical. Hermione sudenly became very serious.
“Please, Helena! I know it is a lot to ask, but it is incredibly important.”
Well... I wouldn’t mind leaving Germany... going back to the UK... I have been stuck in this country far too long anyway...
“I’ll do it!”