From the previous chapter… He noticed the look of revulsion on Ron’s face and the one of anger on Harry’s and wondered if the past would ever be left there. Before he could ponder it further, he felt his father’s hand on his shoulder.
“Would you care to explain to me what your woma…er, friend has done to your mother?”
Draco laughed a little, “It’s called dancing, Father.”
“It’s vulgar!” Lucius hissed under his breath. “She’s…she’s…and you allow Ms. Granger to display herself like that?!”
Draco turned to look at his father and raised a brow, “As much as you allow Mother to do anything.”
His father snorted his answer and then held his son’s eyes, “Am I mistaken in my impression that you plan to continue with her…until…well, until marriage?”
Draco’s brows both rose in surprise at his father’s directness and then he turned his head to look at Hermione. With a smile he nodded, “Someday. If she’ll have me. But, it’s early yet.”
“If she’ll…that’s absurd! You’re a Malfoy and she’s just a mu…”
Draco’s head whipped to the side and he pinned his father with a stare to rival his own.
“Muggleborn, I was going to say,” Lucius sniffed in derision. “She’s just a muggleborn witch from a poor family with no name. It is not up to her to decide. She should be proud you would even consider it!”
Draco laughed loud enough to turn several heads before he asked, “Have you met Hermione?” When his father just stared at him, he shook his head and looked back out at the dance floor and her. “Then you know how independent she is. All her decisions are her own. And, regardless of how you may feel, Father, she is stronger, smarter and a better witch than most of us on this planet. And, poor? I think not. First, her parents have plenty of muggle money and second, Mione’s famous and rich in her own right. She has enough money to take care of both of us, even though she barely touches it. I daresay, if she were to say yes, I would be the lucky and proud one.”
“You actually…lo…love her?” Lucius whispered in complete shock. “She’s not just a…you really love her.”
Draco smiled as he looked back at his father, “Yes, I do. Why would I consider asking her to marry me someday if I didn’t?”
“Well, I just assumed, I mean, she’s quite a valuable asset to have at your side and I thought…”
Lucius’ face was such a mask of confusion that Draco almost felt sorry for him. “You’re almost as bad as Weasley,” he commented before he could stop himself.
“How dare you!” his father hissed.
“My apologies,” Draco muttered sincerely as he turned to fully face his father. “But, the Weasleys, father and son, seem to feel the same way. I’m using her. I can’t love her. I have to have an agenda. No, Father. The answer is a lot more simple than that. I love her. I like and respect her. She’s warm, funny, giving, honest, forgiving, just short of damn near perfect. And, I want to spend the rest of my life earning the forgiveness and love she has given me.”
Lucius stared at his son for a moment and then he looked out on the dance floor to see Hermione spinning Narcissa, both of them laughing happily.
“Well, you have my…my best wishes for a pleasing conclusion.”
Draco simply nodded in thanks.
When the song ended and a slow song came on both women came toward them. Lucius noticed that Hermione didn’t look particularly happy to be approaching them. He glanced to his side and saw the look on his son’s face. With a sigh of defeat he did what he had done for the past five years. He swallowed his dislike and years of beliefs, at least for this one instance, and accepted the inevitable.
My pureblood son is going to marry a mud…muggleborn witch. What is the world coming to? Damn that Potter and his saving the world complex! Does no one have pride anymore? Ms. Granger…Her…Hermi…Hermione (she’s not naming the damn children if that’s how muggles name them!) well she’s attractive enough and will make nice looking children, I suppose. Heaven knows she’s smart. Too damn smart, but oh well. She has her own money, so she won’t be looking for handouts. And, it will raise the Malfoy name to be associated with her, regardless of Draco’s thoughts on the matter. I just better not be expected to have to accept Potter or those blood traitors! I can do this though, for my son. She would have been a perfect choice anyway, had she not had such an unfortunate birth. Oh, sweet Merlin! Will I have to get to know her damn muggle parents, too?! Too much to think about tonight. For now, Draco is happy. Therefore, I will be happy for him.
“That was quite a display, ladies,” he greeted them.
Hermione stopped walking all together and simply stared at him. Draco stepped forward and took her hand and she seemed to shrink into him for a moment before she straightened her spine and raised her chin a little.
And, she has backbone. Good. A Malfoy trait we won’t have to teach her.
Narcissa stepped gracefully to his side and he smiled a little down at her, “I see He…Her…(cough) Hermione taught you some new…ah…dance steps.”
If it had been in his nature to laugh freely, he would have, at the varying degrees of shock on each of the three faces that stared at him. As it was, he merely gave them his best smile. Hermione’s hand actually twitched like she was going for her wand. When no one spoke he cleared his throat and took his wife’s hand.
“Shall we?” with a polite nod to Draco and Hermione, he led his wife to the dance floor.
Draco and Hermione stood in shocked silence for a moment before she whispered hysterically, “What just happened? He spoke to me. Civilly. He…he smiled at me! He addressed me! He used my name?! What is he up to?!”
Before he could answer Blaise walked up to them, “Hey you two!”
“I’m gonna be sick!” Hermione exclaimed and turned to run to the bathroom.
Draco turned to stop her, but she was already gone. He saw Ginny leave the dance floor to run after her, Harry look at him in question, Georgie hurried after them, and then Ron staring at him angrily. He looked helplessly at Blaise.
Blaise looked from Hermione to Draco and asked, “Was it something I said?”
“No, actually it was Father,” Draco sighed. “He decided to be nice to her.” Then he shook his head in wonder, “He even kind of smiled.”
“Well, that would sure as shit scare me to death,” Blaise shuddered. “Why?”
Draco laughed a little, “Because he finally got it through his thick skull that I love her.”
Blaise laughed and put his hand on Draco’s shoulder, “You’ve got the weirdest family in history, D.”
Draco put his head in his hands for a moment and mumbled, “Don’t I know it.”
Harry walked up to his other side, “Is she okay?”
Draco looked over at him and saw nothing but concern. It floored him.
It seemed to surprise Blaise as well, “You’re not going to ask what he did to her?”
Harry shook his head at both of them, “No. Mione can take care of herself, if need be. But, she looked upset. Is she okay?”
Draco accepted Harry’s answer and nodded, “She’s fine, Harry. Just a little shocked after talking to my parents.”
When he saw Harry’s green eyes spark in anger, he added, “They didn’t do or say anything. Father was just, uh, nice to her.”
Harry looked at him for a moment and then laughed, “Well, I can see how that would upset her.”
Blaise relaxed and laughed with him, “That’s pretty much what I said.” Then he remembered the occasion, “So, before this exciting drama, were you both having fun?”
Harry nodded, “Yes, thank you. Everything’s been great.”
“Yeah, B, it’s been perfect. Are you finally having fun?”
Blaise nodded, “Ever since the ceremony and that stupidly expensive dinner were over. Beth’s happy, so I guess everything’s cool.”
Draco nodded and smiled, “It’s great, B. When do we do the garter and flowers thing?”
“As soon as I get the signal from Mom that all the witches have been told not to use magic to get the flowers,” Blaise laughed.
Harry looked at them and asked, “Why just the witches? Don’t the wizards need to be told not to use magic to get the garter?”
Blaise laughed and clapped Harry on the shoulder, “Potter, do you know any single man who ever REALLY tried to get the garter at a wedding?”
All three laughed at the truth of his statement. Then Harry caught Ron’s eye as he stood a little away from them and saw the anger in his face.
“I better go calm Ron down before he storms the bathroom to check on her,” he sighed. “See you in a bit.”
“Okay, thanks,” Draco laughed.
“Bye, Potter,” Blaise called after him.
‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’
“He was NICE to you?!” Ginny shouted. “Why?!”
“I have no idea,” Hermione said, her voice shrill in her panic. “I was dancing with Narcissa and you guys, and then we went over to them because she wanted to, for reasons totally beyond me, slow dance with her husband. Next thing I know he’s being nice to me. Talking TO me, not around me. And, then he…he SMILED at me!”
Ginny looked scandalized, but Snoop just laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Hermione snapped.
“Calm down, HG,” she laughed. “It’s a party. Maybe he’s having fun and forgot to hate you.”
Ginny shook her head and said very seriously, “That is not Lucius Malfoy. He doesn’t do fun.” Then she turned and hugged Hermione, “Don’t worry hon, we’ll figure out what he’s up to.”
“But, he’s coming back to my apartment!” Hermione was starting to hyperventilate.
“Oh stop!” Snoop shouted, startling both women. “Seriously, get a grip.”
When Hermione stared at her in shock, but seemed to breathe easier, she added, “Look, from everything you’ve said, he’s an ass, but he loves his son. And, they were talking before we all stopped dancing. Maybe Draco told him to start being nice to you or else.”
Hermione seemed to think it over before she asked, “Or else what?”
“Maybe he threatened to marry you and not invite him to the wedding,” Ginny said with a tiny laugh.
Hermione thought back over the first conversation she’d been involved in with the Malfoys and snorted, “Not, bloody likely!”
She then took a deep breath and shook herself a little, “I’m okay guys. Thanks.”
Snoop looked at her shrewdly and asked, “HG? You don’t think you’re…uh, you know…with the throwing up and all…maybe you’re…”
“What? No!” Hermione shook her head.
Ginny glanced at her nervously, “Are you sure?”
“Positive. For sure, positive. Okay? I think this week just caught up with me and that was my final straw. I’ve been a little stressed, I guess. Malfoy being nice…confusing and a tad scary and…ugh, just…ugh!”
Ginny laughed and turned Hermione to face the mirror, “Well, let’s fix that makeup and get out there. You can’t look like a coward to him!”
Hermione nodded and between the three of them, fixed her makeup. They were just about to head out of the bathroom when the door opened and Beth entered.
“What happened? What’s wrong?” she asked.
Hermione didn’t want Beth to worry about anything on her wedding day and shook her head, “Nothing’s wrong, Beth. Just fixing our makeup.”
Beth seemed to relax and smiled at them, “Well, come on then. It’s time for the garter and bouquet. Blaise wants it over with so he can get some cake.”
All four laughed and went back to the reception.
Draco came up to her immediately, “You okay?”
She smiled at him and reached up to smooth the worry lines from his face, “Yes. I’m sorry. I think the stress of this past week just finally got to me. Your father being…nice…just too much, I guess. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
He sighed, but smiled as he put his hands on her hips and pulled her close, “Well, since both Blaise and Harry had similar reactions, I won’t hold it against you.”
They turned to join Beth and Blaise for the rest of the festivities and she asked, “So, now that I’m calmer, and seeing as they’re coming back to the apartment later, want to tell me why he was acting like that?”
Draco laughed, “Well, he seems to have accepted that you aren’t going away anytime soon. He has finally figured out that being hostile to you isn’t going to drive you away.”
“So, he thinks being nice will?” she asked, only partially joking.
“Oh, stop,” he admonished. “I think he’s trying to be civil.”
“Okay. I get it, I think,” she said as she shook her head. “So, what? Now, I have to be nice to him?”
Draco laughed at the look of horror she tried to disguise, “No, love. Just keep being yourself. You’ll have him wrapped around these beautiful little fingers in no time.”
“Yeah, right,” she mumbled as they reached the beaming couple.
“And, now the tossing of the bouquet…”
‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’
When they got home around five, Draco stayed with his parents and Blythe in the living room, while Hermione quickly cleaned up the remaining mess left by the women earlier in the second room. She had finished the other rooms before she’d left for the wedding, but as that room was the last used, it was too late to clean it before she left. Afterward, she changed it into a bedroom with two beds and flicked her wand at each one to add sheets and bedspreads. When the room looked the way she’d intended, she nervously went back out to join the rest of them.
“…and, I think he was a muggle, ‘cause I thought I heard him say something about Beth being his cousin, but he was really cute and he asked me to dance three times.”
Narcissa laughed, “My, it sounds like you did have a good time.”
Blythe nodded, “Yes ma’am. And, Blaise let me bring back three pieces of cake. And, Beth said I can have any of the extra table favors to take back to school in September. She even promised me some of the pictures from those muggle cameras!”
Hermione laughed from behind them as she crossed the room to sit on the arm of the sofa next to Draco. “I’m glad you had fun, Blythe.”
“Oh, I did,” the young girl squealed. “It was my first muggle wedding. I really expected it to be a lot different. Are they all like that?”
Draco laughed, “Well, no B-girl, but you got the general gist.” Then he looked up at Hermione, “I made you some tea.”
“That was sweet, thank you,” she said and started to lean down to kiss him. But, then she remembered their audience and straightened back up, her eyes meeting Lucius’.
He merely looked back at her blandly for a moment and then turned to his wife, “And, you darling. What was your favorite part of this fascinating afternoon?”
Narcissa giggled, “I personally liked the garter bit. I thought Baina was going to pass out from humiliation when Blaise pretended he couldn’t find it and went under Beth’s skirt. I know I should side with his mother, but the look on her face was rather amusing.”
“I didn’t see her face, but I saw Mr. Zabini’s,” Draco shook his head. “He was almost ready to go help.”
“Eww, that’s his daughter-in-law,” Hermione said wrinkling her nose.
Her head snapped to the side when Lucius stated with only a little disgust, “I couldn’t agree with you more, Her…Hermione. Stanford does need to learn some decorum.”
What do I say to them? To him? How do I act civilly to a man who has hated me for being me, for most of my life? And, how the hell can he switch his hate off like that? He’s not human. And, if we do get married, he’s going to be my father-in-law. Stop! Don’t think about it!
Blythe was not really aware of the tension in the adults around her and looked to Hermione, “Guess what?”
“What?” Hermione smiled at her.
“We drink our tea the same way,” she enthused. “D said, we like our coffee the same, too!”
“What are you doing drinking coffee already?” Hermione asked with a laugh. “Has studying gotten that hard at Hogwarts?”
Blythe laughed, “Well, we need something to keep us awake in Professor Binns’ class.”
She and Draco shared a laugh in memory. Then Draco asked her who else was still teaching and they all listened to her talk about school for the next few minutes. Hermione knew who was still at the school, as she kept up her correspondences with Minerva and Hagrid, but she didn’t want to stop the young girl’s moment to shine.
When they had no more questions about the school, Hermione offered to show them around the apartment, while Draco refreshed their drinks. As they went from room to room, Hermione tried to answer all their questions about her many muggle items. Lucius barely acknowledged each room, but Narcissa was full of questions about every thing she saw. Hermione was reminded of Arthur Weasley and stopped herself from saying so just in time. Blythe kept a running list of all the items she “just had” to have.
After being in her tiny kitchen for almost half an hour, Lucius had reached his patience limit.
“Ms. Zabini, why are you here?”
Blythe stopped her chatter immediately and looked shocked that he had addressed her. Hermione was torn between relief that she wasn’t the only one he spoke to like that and disgust that he would treat a child with such harshness. Then she recalled their first meeting her second year of school and realized he hadn’t changed much in all those years. Narcissa, who was used to her husband’s lack of tact, rephrased the question.
“I think Lucius means, dear, why did your parents go home and leave you here for the night? Not that we aren’t pleased to get to spend the extra time with you.”
Hermione found herself smiling gratefully at Narcissa and saw Blythe relax a little, as well.
Blythe’s nerves caused her to stammer, “Well, um, I kinda, uh, wanted to get to know Hermione better, and well, they didn’t really want me to, well more Mom than Dad, he didn’t really care, so they let me stay an extra night. ‘Cause I just think she’s, uh, I mean, you’re just amazing!” She blushed a little, but continued defensively, “And, I’m not doing anything wrong. Blaise thought it would be a good idea, too! And, Hermione said I could, and Draco, too. And, it’s uh, educational! Yeah. I’m writing my 6th year final paper for History of Magic on her amazing accomplishments, so it’s for school, too!”
Draco walked in to see Hermione looking amused, but embarrassed, his mother trying to hold back a laugh, his father looking scandalized and Blythe red-faced with her fists clenched at her sides.
“What did I miss?” he asked, breaking the tense atmosphere in the room.
Blythe turned to him, “Tell them you said I could stay and spend time with you guys!”
Draco looked from her to Hermione in question, but his mother answered for him.
“Blythe, no one suggested you shouldn’t be here, dear. We were just inquiring as to why, that’s all. I think it’s a lovely idea to get a head start on your schoolwork. Don’t you Lucius?” They all noticed her take his arm in her hand and squeeze as she spoke, even though she tried to be nonchalant about it.
“Schooling is important,” he nodded diplomatically.
Hermione had to hold back a laugh. The GREAT Lucius Malfoy stunned by a fifteen year old girl’s temper tantrum. That is too funny. Guess he can’t handle a little crying, screaming and foot stamping. Why didn’t we know that back then? Woulda been useful at the Ministry! God, why didn’t he have a daughter? He would have been brought to his knees before she ever got to Hogwarts.
Narcissa smiled at him and then turned back to Blythe, “And, I personally think a paper on all the things Hermione has done and achieved is an inspired idea.”
Blythe seemed to accept Narcissa’s answer and breathed a sigh of relief. But, then she turned to Hermione and didn’t look her in the eye when she asked her next question.
“Well, um, I didn’t really get to ask you yet if I could. You know, write a paper on you, I mean. But, would you mind? I’ll make it really good, I promise. And, you can even check it to make sure I get everything right. But, I’m not like, using you or anything. I really do like you. A lot. And, you writing to me has been the best thing ever! I kinda think of us as like friends, you know. I mean, I know I’m too young to really be…”
Oh man, can my face get any more red? Sheesh. This is so embarrassing. Are there other girls like this out there? Who think I’m this great? Wow. Am I that famous really? I mean, I know people know me, but Harry’s really the one who…Jeez! How has he dealt with it most of his life? I’m uncomfortable with one girl! Okay, this needs to stop.
Hermione stepped forward with a nervous laugh and hugged Blythe to interrupt her rant, “Of course, you can, honey. And, it never entered my mind that you would use me. Now, if that’s settled, can I show you where the washroom is and where you and Narcissa will be sleeping?”
“Oh, yeah, okay,” Blythe smiled in relief.
But, her smile grew in size when Hermione took her hand and said, “And, just so you know, I only let my friends sleep over.”
“Oh!” Blythe said happily. And, then Hermione saw Narcissa’s look of shock followed by a pleased smile.
Oh, crap! I didn’t actually mean her, too. Don’t even glance at Lucius! Draco, wipe that smirk off your face!
Draco smirked, “Shall we go then?”
Hermione nodded and led the way through the rest of the apartment on the way to the bedroom she had set up for them. She was too busy talking about the items they passed to notice Narcissa’s soft murmur.
“Very compassionate. A good quality for a future mother.”
Neither man commented, but both raised matching brows at the thought. Lucius’ in slight derision and Draco’s in concurrence.
“And, this is your room for the night,” Hermione continued unaware. “If there’s anything you need, just let me know. And, Narcissa, I can change it to just one bed for the rest of the week after tonight. Is it okay?”
Narcissa smiled warmly, “It’s charming. Just like the rest of your flat. No need to change a thing, and I’m sure Blythe and I will be fine together.”
Draco added, “Yours is the bed on the left, Mother. I’ve already put your things in the closet. Blythe, your dress robes are in there as well, but I put the rest in the chest of drawers.”
Hermione led the way back to the living room and turned on the television out of habit.
“What is that thing?” Lucius demanded.
“It’s a television, Father,” Draco laughed a little. “It’s for viewing news, shows, and sporting events. Kind of like a radio with pictures. I found it quite disturbing at first, too, but I’ve come to enjoy it.”
When his father looked at him in disbelief, he added proudly, “And, Hermione’s charmed it to show Quidditch matches all over the world. Let’s see if there’s one on now.”
Hermione blushed and tried not to laugh when Lucius looked over at her. The look on his face was comical, a mix of begrudging respect, shock, disappointment (that she again did something right), and continued confusion at the talking box in front of him. He looked like he was trying to understand a particularly difficult riddle.
“Blythe, Narcissa, how’d you like to help me prepare our supper?” she asked as she turned to escape his piercing stare.
Both women happily followed her from the room, leaving Draco with his father.
Draco continued to switch channels until he found what he was looking for, “Ah, here we are. It’s the Appleby Arrows against the Wigtown Wanderers. Arrows don’t stand a chance, there seeker stinks.”
Draco tossed the remote onto the coffee table and looked back at his father. Lucius still stood in the same spot and looked as though he didn’t quite know what to do. Since he had never seen his father looked so confused, Draco got a little worried.
Lucius’ eyes finally focused as he looked at Draco.
“No need to shout, Draco,” he admonished.
“Sorry, but uh, can I refill your drink?”
Lucius seemed relieved to have a question posed to him that he understood, “Yes, thank you.”
Draco stood up and grabbed up their glasses, “Okay then. Have a seat. I’ll get them.”
Lucius sat, but stayed silent and still as he stared at the television screen. When Draco put the drink down in front of him he took it up and drank deeply.
“Are you okay?” Draco asked.
Lucius sniffed, “Of course,” before taking another long drink. He pushed his hair out of his face as he relaxed back into the chair a little, “The last hour has just been a bit…well, let’s just say I am very glad I didn’t have a girl…all that screeching and whining. No wonder Stanford is a bit off.”
Draco laughed as his father continued, “And, all these muggle contraptions. How can you stand it? There’s no purpose to them when you have magic.”
“Some of them are actually pretty fun,” Draco answered. “Like the television.”
“She really charmed this thing?” Lucius asked in disbelief as he looked back at it.
“Yes, sir, a couple of weeks ago, for me. Mione isn’t really much of a Quidditch fan,” Draco said with a tender smile. Then he chuckled, “I think she did it to keep me busy while she writes her lessons.”
“Oh, well that’s…” Lucius couldn’t bring himself to compliment Hermione out loud, so he just let his voice fade out. Then he looked at the television again and asked, “So, the Wigtown Wanderers 120 to 90. Looks like a good game.”
In the kitchen Hermione was trying to show both women how to make a salad without magic.
“But, wouldn’t it be faster if we just…” Blythe motioned with her hand as if she had a wand.
“That way you won’t cut yourself,” Hermione readjusted the knife and red bell pepper in Narcissa’s hand before she answered Blythe, “First of all, you can’t do magic outside of school yet. And, second, we aren’t in any hurry. I like to do it by hand. It can be very relaxing and gives you a kind of feeling of success.”
Narcissa sliced the pepper very slowly and carefully as she added, “Besides, cooking is a useful skill. One could find themselves without house elves one day and then what would they do?”
Hermione showed Blythe how to use the carrot peeler and said, “And, it can be fun. Wait until I show you the chopper. It’s a great way to release aggression.”
Blythe still looked skeptical, so Hermione said something she knew the young girl would understand, “And, between just us girls, some people, like boy people, like when you cook for them. It shows you cared enough to do something special for them, even if you only really know how to make one meal and a dessert.”
Blythe looked like she had been let in on a secret of the universe and settled in to peel and chop her carrots. Hermione glanced over at Narcissa and even though she didn’t look up from her slicing, Hermione saw her tiny smile and nod.
Hermione had decided on a very simple meal, since they’d all had a large meal at the reception. It was also something she thought they could prepare without too much trouble once Narcissa and Blythe got the hang of chopping and slicing.
When all the preparation was done, she showed them how to mix the salad fixings together in a bowl and then place it on the plates. Next, she showed Narcissa how to open the soup cans and heat it up. Hermione impressed upon her the importance of not touching the hot stove or pot, while stirring the soup. Blythe got to use the microwave and make the rice. Hermione talked her through how much water to use and how to use the fork to separate the grains. While they got busy, she laid out the salmon filets for broiling. When both stopped to stare at her in admiration and a little envy, she gave them each have a shaker and let them season the filets under her watchful eye. As she talked Narcissa through the use of a potholder and ladling the soup, she put the filets in to broil.
Narcissa was positively beaming in joy as they left the kitchen to announce that supper was ready. And, through dinner there was no lack of conversation as both she and Blythe told Draco and Lucius what parts of the meal they were responsible for. Between bites they talked about all the wonderful new things they’d learned and how much fun it had been. Hermione laughed off their praise of her teaching skills and Draco praised the food and their new skills endlessly. Only Lucius remained quiet as he sampled his dinner.
When the meal was over and everyone sat back to sip their tea or coffee Lucius finally spoke.
“Narcissa, I must admit that was quite good. I enjoyed the soup immensely. And, the rice was very…well cooked.”
Narcissa and Blythe both smiled at his compliments, but Draco stared at his father until he added, “The salmon was also satisfactory, Ms. Gr…Hermione.”
“Thank you,” she murmured quietly. Then she brightened and said to Blythe and Narcissa, “Now’s where the magic comes back in.”
With a flick of her wrist the table was cleared. With another her dishwasher came on. And, with one last wave, small bowls of apple sherbet, Draco’s favorite, appeared before everyone.
Conversation turned back to the wedding and reception until the meal was over. Then, with an air of one escaping an awful business meeting, Lucius announced it was time for him to leave.
Draco stood beside Hermione, one arm wrapped around her, “I will see you on Saturday.”
“I look forward to it,” Lucius answered with a small bow. Then he turned to Blythe, “A pleasure to see you again Mistress Zabini.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Malfoy,” she curtsied a little.
Then he turned his head to look at Hermione, “Thank you for…the evening. I enjoyed the television. And, you have a…quaint little flat.”
I wonder if it physically hurts him to compliment me?
“Thank you. And, I am…glad you came.”
There, you freak. See? It’s not so hard to be cordial!
He nodded once and then moved to the fireplace where Narcissa waited for him.
“I’ll owl you tomorrow night. Try to have a good week without me,” she smiled up at him as she wrapped her arms around his waist.
Hermione just barely kept her jaw from dropping as Lucius turned human for a moment while saying goodbye to his wife. His entire being became softer and more approachable then she’d ever witnessed.
He leaned into Narcissa and gave her a soft, lingering kiss. Then he said in voice meant for her, but heard by the others in the room, “No, I won’t. I’ll miss your laugh, my pretty one.”
She laughed a soft laugh, “I love you, my handsome husband.”
“And, I you, Cissa.”
Then, as if he’d just recalled his audience, he stepped back and straightened his face back into his normal look of ‘I smell something awful here,’ effectively ending the odd, but sweet moment. With one last glance at his wife and then his son, he disappeared with a shout of “International, Wiltshire, Malfoy Manor” in a flash of green fire.
Ewwwwww. Now, I need a memory wash or something. I wonder if you can obliviate yourself. That was an image I never needed to see! Oh, crap, straighten your face, remember Blythe! Narcissa’s looking! Shit shit shit. Straight face straight face straight face.
Draco laughed softly at the look on her face and rubbed his hand on her back. Then he turned to Blythe and asked, “So, how about some more TV?”
‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’
The next morning Draco and Hermione talked quietly in their room about their plans for the day. As it was the 4th of July neither had to work, so they could escort Narcissa and Blythe around New York. When they realized they wouldn’t be alone for a while, they started to use the time for more pleasurable pursuits. But, Hermione jerked away from him when his mother called out her good morning through the door.
“Relax, love. She won’t come in,” he whispered against her skin. Then he leaned back and called out, “Morning, Mother. We’ll be right out.”
“I never thought about how weird this would be,” she sighed.
“Sharing a bed with you with your mother less than twenty feet away,” she laughed. When he laughed at her she kissed him quickly and slid out of bed, “Come on, get up, before she blows something up in the kitchen.”
The morning passed quickly and a lot more easily than Hermione would have expected. Narcissa had taken to the television and had to be pulled away from her intense concentration on a talk show.
They walked around New York City and the Draco and Hermione showed them all their favorite places. Narcissa spent a lot of time staring and looking shocked, but pleased. Her favorite part being the elevator ride up in the Empire State Building. She had seen an elevator before, of course, but never one that ran without magic. Too see Hermione’s earlier explanation about hydraulics and electricity in person, made her positively giddy. Several people looked at her weirdly when she clapped her hands in joy and said, “Oh my, but these muggles are inventive!”
Blythe was just excited to be with them and see everything she could. With Hermione as her personal hero, she had studied muggles and their lifestyles for the past five years. She wasn’t shocked by what she saw, as much as she was thrilled to finally see how much of her studies had been true. The only issue she had all day was when a cute boy had walked by and whistled at her. He’d called her a foxy mama and she’d laughed. She hadn’t meant to insult him; she was just happy to see another muggle truth. He was insulted though and called her a bitch before storming off. She hadn’t expected that particular result and started crying. It took Hermione quite a few minutes to calm her down, while Draco tried to ignore the whole scene and Narcissa, who had been engrossed in her perusal of a jewelry store, kept asking what had happened.
That evening they returned to the apartment and Draco and Hermione introduced the two of them to food delivery and pizza as they watched the fireworks explode overhead from the windows. Soon it was time for Blythe to leave. None of them were prepared for the scene that ensued.
Blaise and Beth had called her earlier to say goodbye and Blythe had been perfectly calm as she packed her bags and talked with Hermione in the bedroom. Hermione had levitated her bags in front of them and moved to the fireplace and then Blythe had lost it.
“I…I…don’t wa…wan…want t…to…go,” she wailed and threw her arms around Hermione.
“Oh, Blythe, don’t cry,” Hermione sighed as she patted her back.
“But, I…I will…mi…miss…you,” Blythe cried and buried her head in Hermione’s neck. Her next words were muffled, but they all understood them, “I’m so lo…lone…lonely at home.”
Draco stepped forward and placed a hand on Blythe’s shaking shoulder, “What do you mean, B Girl? You have plenty of friends.”
Blythe stepped back from Hermione and wiped her eyes as she looked up at him, “No, D, not re…really. Not any more. Most everyone’s s…sto…stopped coming around this su…sum…summer. They all have boyfriends and s…st…stuff. And, with Blaise and you g…gon…gone, I…I just…”
Then she launched herself at him, “Don’t make me go back.”
His arms closed automatically around her, but he looked over her shoulder helplessly at Hermione and Narcissa.
Narcissa moved closer to them and said softly, “Blythe, darling, how about you come over and spend time with me now and then this summer? I’m alone a lot, too.”
Blythe stepped back from Draco and nodded a little, “Okay, thank you ma’am.”
Hermione smiled softly at Blythe, “And, you can of course come back later in the summer and visit us again. Blaise and Beth said they wanted you to come spend time with them, remember. Plus, I still expect to receive my letters from you.”
Blythe sniffled, but smiled nervously at the three of them, “Okay, thanks. Sorry about crying all over you, you must think I’m so silly.”
Draco hugged her with one arm, “Nah, never, don’t forget I always told you you were a snot-nosed brat.” When his joke had the intended affect and she laughed, he continued, “Now, time to get home before your parents start to worry. You were due ten minutes ago.”
After a promise to write as soon as she could, she hugged both Hermione and Draco and then smiled and nodded at Narcissa, before she flooed home.
All three adults stood silently staring into the fireplace, each relishing the quiet.
Narcissa interrupted the quiet to mutter, “Thank goodness I had a boy.”
Draco and Hermione both laughed and the three moved to relax on the sofa and chair in the living room.
It was later as they got up to go to bed that Narcissa asked, “So, what are we doing tomorrow night?”
“Dinner and a show,” Draco answered, his hand on Hermione’s hip. Then he smirked, “I think you’ll like it. It’s about a witch.”
Narcissa nodded and tried to hold back a yawn, “Oh yes, Hermione told me some things about it. Bad, Evil, something like that.”
“Wicked,” Hermione corrected her with a smile as she leaned tiredly against Draco. “Are you sure you’ll be okay all day here alone?”
Narcissa had reached her room and looked at the two of them, “I am a full grown witch, my dears. I think I can manage a few hours alone. Plus, I have the tevelision to watch.”
Neither corrected her and Draco moved over to kiss his mother’s cheek, “Right. Night then, Mother. Sleep well.”
“You, too,” she responded and then looked to Hermione. “See you in the morning.”
Hermione was amazed to realize how comfortable she had become with Narcissa in such a short amount of time. She decided it was because, when not with Lucius, Narcissa was a lot like Draco.
“Good night, Narcissa,” she murmured with a nod.
After a long day of walking around and then dealing with Blythe, neither was in the mood to do much more than undress, and fall across the bed for a much needed sleep.
‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’ ‘ ’
Author’s Notes – Every read is a treasure, every review a gift. And, I thank each and every one of you!
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