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Chapter 24 : Chapter Twenty Four
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He stared at the grimy wall, his eyes glazed over and distant. His thoughts strayed to Hermione and he sighed, pondering what she would be doing at the moment. An image of a large library, partly basked in moonlight floated to the surface of his thoughts and he almost smiled as he saw two people in a passionate embrace by the window. The Dementors turned hungrily to stare at him, their cold settling into his chest and he suppressed that memory, not wanting the Dementors to steal it away from him. He had learnt to suppress all of his memories, not keen on the Dementors sucking them from him. They were the only things that kept him sane in this desolate place. And the notion –the fact- that he was innocent.
Footsteps could be heard approaching his cell and he curiously turned to see who it was. His empty, gaunt eyes hardened menacingly upon catching sight of Weasley. The only good thing that came from this was that the Dementors drifted away, taking their cold and despair with them, leaving an inviting warmth.
“Malfoy,” He acknowledged curtly.
“Weasley,” Draco snarled, his voice low and dangerous. This was the man that had thrown him in here without a trial; he hated him with a passion. His schoolboy hatred of Weasley had increased tenfold since he had thrown him in here and his abhorrence was so evident, he was almost giving off an aura that would burn if approached too closely.
“I have something for you, Malfoy.” Ron said in displeasure and pulled an envelope out of his coat and slipped it in through the bars, sliding it across the floor towards Draco. “Hermione sends you a letter. Your little friend, Gabriella Laverne, convinced me to let you two remain in touch.”
“Gabby,” Draco breathed, forever grateful. A warm glow of happiness seemed to erupt in his chest and any despair that had hung about him disappeared. Several Dementors down the hall looked up eagerly and he could feel their cold and suppressed that glow and stored it in his memory, where he would visit it whenever he liked. He gently took the envelope and held it in his hands.
“I am allowing you to reply. You have the time it takes me to walk around the prison to write your reply.” And he took a piece of parchment, a quill, an inkbottle and an envelope from his coat and slipped them through the bars before disappearing. Reminding himself to breath and not to let his temporary bliss take over his feeling in fear of the Dementors stealing it away from him, he opened the envelope and greedily read Hermione’s reply. His eyes widened and another glow rose up in his chest at the last paragraph. They were having a baby? They were having a baby! He could not believe it. With a content sigh, that was pushed into his memory as well, he grabbed the parchment and quill and began to write his reply.
Hermione was sat in her bed, reading a book with great interest. It had been almost six months since Draco had gone to Azkaban and with the helpful monthly visits from Gabriella she found that she was slowly starting to come to terms with his absence. But she was still determined to prove his innocence. That however, was proving to be difficult. She had tried to contact many of the people who had known the Italian Minister and Draco and tried to get some sort of appointment from them but they all refused, for a strange reason.
It had been reported in the news that the late Minister’s nephew, Paolo Parechi, was now the Italian Minister. Unlike in England, where the Wizengamot voted for a new Minister, in Italy, the title of Minister was passed down to the first in line for the title and seeing as how the late Minister had no sons and women were not allowed to become Ministers in Italy, the title had gone to the nephew.
But there was another reason that she had to halt on her mission to prove Draco’s innocence. Her stomach was getting bigger and she was finding it hard to perform energy-required skills and activities. It was October already and she was due to give birth in late January. Mercifully, Gabriella, Harry, Ginny and Narcissa all came round to help as much as they could. Narcissa had invited her to live with her at the Manor, but Hermione had reclined the offer politely, saying she felt much more at ease in her apartment.
A soft knocking at the door, made her slowly get out of bed and make her way to the door. She opened it and found Gabriella and Harry outside, shivering and pink faced from the cold.
“You must be freezing! Come in,” she invited.
They shuffled in and Hermione led them into the living room where they sat.
“What’s with the unexpected visit?” Hermione asked Gabriella, but she caught sight of her fingers laced with Harry’s and smirked. “You couldn’t stay away, could you?”
“No. He’s far too irresistible,” Gabriella said sweetly and placed a soft kiss on Harry’s lips. Hermione smiled at the pair; they made a lovely couple.
“So, where were you two?”
“I took Gabriella for coffee at Diagon Alley and then showed her Hogsmeade.” Harry replied. “Oh, we bumped into Ron and we have something for you.” He slipped his long fingers into his pocket and pulled out an envelope. Hermione gasped delightedly and quickly reached to snatch it out of Harry’s hand.
“Eager, are we?” Gabriella laughed. Hermione stuck out her tongue childishly, and went to her room to read the letter privately, leaving Harry and Gabriella to cuddle. She fell onto her bed and held the envelope in front of her before slowly opening it and pulling the folded parchment out. Opening it up, she read.
I miss you, love. I’m surely going to go insane without you. Every minute of everyday is spent thinking of you and your intoxicating kisses, your sweet taste, your beautiful laugh…sometimes I fear that the Dementors will suck it all away from me and I will be left with nothing to remind me of you. Life here is still pretty dull and vapid. I passed a few of familiar faces a few days ago, all of them Death Eaters. I saw Rodolphus Lestrange -my aunt’s husband- and I was surprised to find him so…normal. Half of them start screaming in the dead of the night and the rest refuse food. They’re wasting away, but he seemed very relaxed, at ease with everything. The Dementors didn’t seem to be affecting him as badly as the others, almost like me. I wonder what he has to keep him sane. Sometimes, they start shrieking Voldemort’s name, hallucinating themselves into believing that he had come to rescue them. It’s almost pitiful at times.
I bet you’re getting big. I would have loved to see you with your stomach protruding, waddling around your apartment. I bet you’re scowling now. You obviously won’t like me comparing you to a duck. Anyway, Hermione, I’ve been thinking. You should go and live in the chateau in France. There, you are closer to Gabriella and things will just be easier there. Perhaps mother can go with you. Mull it over and tell me what you think.
Somehow, I can’t imagine Gabriella and Potter as a couple. It almost disgusts me at times. Why on Earth does she like him? Of course, he is the Harry Potter, conqueror of all evil, but apart from that…you’re not liking this either, are you? Your reply will probably include reprimands about mocking your friends and comparing you to a duck. I’ve yet to ask you, have you taken Maternity leave from the hospital? If you haven’t, what on earth do you think you’re doing working in your state? If you have, then ignore the last sentence completely.
Paolo is the new Minister? That bastard? He doesn’t know the first things about magical politics. Are they insane, putting him as the new Minister? I spent three years with him and in all the conversations I’ve ever had with him, the main topic has been him. He didn’t like me much. I’ve got to go now, love. Weasley is coming back. Take care, my love. Wait for me.
She sighed in content and flopped onto her bed, staring at the white ceiling. How she longed to be with him again.
“Soon, Draco. Soon, I’ll prove your innocence and you’ll come back to me.” She muttered and safely put the letter into its envelope before reaching into her handbag for a small key. She found it and used it to open the locked drawer on her bureau where she kept all her letters from Draco. The letter slipped in and she securely locked the drawer again.
Her feet took her back to the living room where Harry and Gabriella were sat, exchanging kisses. She looked away pointedly. That had been her and Draco on the very same sofa, only seven months ago. Sometimes, it made her feel lonely to see Harry and Gabriella so content with each other. They pulled apart and Gabriella ran her fingers through her hair, trying to straighten it to the way it had been before Harry’s hands had mussed it up.
“So, happy with the reply?” she asked.
“Ecstatic.” Hermione grinned and sat down on the free armchair. “He wants me to go live in the chateau though.”
“In Paris?” Gabriella asked excitedly. Hermione nodded. “That’s great. I won’t have to keep apparating here every week.”
“Hey! What about me?” Harry pouted.
“It’s your turn to make the effort. You apparate to France once a week and see how you like it?” Gabriella countered with a smirk.
“I’m not sure though,” Hermione said, nervously fiddling with her fingernails. “My parents are here and so are my friends and my work…”
“They can easily apparate to see you,” her eyes lingered on Harry playfully. “And you can apparate to visit your parents.”
“He said I might want to take Narcissa with me, you know for company and help. You won’t be around all the time and I need someone around me when I’m like this,” she patted her stomach and smiled.
“Is that a yes, then?”
“I suppose,” Hermione mumbled sheepishly. Gabriella squealed with delight and rushed to hug Hermione.
“This is brilliant!” she was barely controlling her dazzling grin and Hermione couldn’t help but to smile too.
“I guess this leaves me to sort out the legal paperwork, does it?” Harry asked, his tone implying how tedious that was.
“Will you, Harry? Please?” Hermione asked sweetly.
“Fine,” he muttered.
“Harry, you’re a star.” Hermione said graciously and hugged her best friend. “Hang on…how will I get my letters to and from Ron?”
“I’ll get them for you, now that I’m going to be apparating there every week. Everyday, if I can’t control myself.” He added as an afterthought. Gabriella’s smile had never been bigger.
“Is that everything?” Harry asked as Hermione walked around the apartment, taking a final look at what had been her home for almost five years. She was going to miss it.
“Yes, that’s all of my things. Do you want to go now?”
Harry nodded and she took hold of his hand and apparated him to the chateau. When their feet touched solid ground again, they were in the drawing room. Narcissa and Gabriella were already there, sat talking on the sofa. They rose on seeing Harry and Hermione and Gabriella rushed to hug Harry. They had not seen each other in ten days; a record for them.
“Hi,” Hermione greeted.
“Hello dear,” Narcissa replied. She looked around the room and smiled nostalgically. “This place brings back lots of memories.”
“It does,” Hermione agreed softly and closed her eyes thinking of all the time she’d spent with Draco here. It bought a nostalgic smile to her lips.
“We’re going to go prepare some dinner. Hermione, why don’t you go upstairs and start unpacking your things?” Gabriella suggested and she dragged an awed Harry into the kitchen.
“Would you like any help, Hermione?” Narcissa offered politely.
“No thank you, I’m sure I can manage.” She replied and went upstairs, determined to relive her memories alone. Her first destination was Draco’s room. Gently, she pushed open the room and sighed sadly as she stepped in. His bed had remained undone to this day and she slowly fell on it, inhaling the scent deeply. His cologne lingered faintly on the pillows. She turned her head to stare at the balcony through the closed glass doors and smiled, a nostalgic tear slipping from her eye. That was where they had kissed and made up, quite literally, before…
She looked at the bed and more tears spilled forth. That night came flooding back and her longing to have him with her intensified a hundredfold. She looked down at her stomach: the result of that night and smiled. Delicately, she traced the sheets with her fingers before turning to look at the clothes folded neatly at the edge of his bed. The tuxedo he had worn to the Bon Voyage ball lay as she had put it, folded neatly at the edge. Almost cautiously, she got up and reached for the shirt on top. She pulled it to her face and breathed in his intoxicating smell, miraculously, still lingering on his clothes. It was almost like he was here with here, but he wasn’t and that hurt glaringly. Determined not to feel any pain, she let the ball came flooding back to her and a light smile fell on her lips as she remembered their dance.
After quite a while studying the intricacies of his room and inhaling all his clothes, she left for the library and sighed with a smile. This was her haven…all that was missing was him. She sat down at his comfortable chintz armchair by the fire and smiled, their study sessions enveloping her thoughts. It was almost fun to relive these memories…she had not visited them in quite a while. But it also hurt. She pushed the hurt further down her heart where there was no chance of it resurfacing soon and pulled a book out of a nearby bookcase and began to read. How long she stayed there reading, she did not know but she was aware of Gabriella calling up the stairs half way through reading the book.
“Hermione! Are you done? Dinner’s ready,” she called.
Marking her page and setting the book down on the coffee table in front of her, Hermione called back, “Coming. Just give me a minute.”
She rushed to her room, no longer caring to manually unpack and with a wave of her wand all her things had flown from their boxes and into their rightful places. Pleased with herself, she went downstairs to find the other three seated at the dining table, awaiting her presence.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she apologized and took her seat opposite Narcissa.
“Not at all, we just sat down.” Narcissa said, “Gabriella, this looks wonderful.”
“Thank you, Mrs Malfoy.” Her eyes flickered to Harry and she smirked. “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Gabriella had cooked the traditional French dish of Bouillabaisse along with a potato salad. Hermione raised her fork speared through some fish and was about to put it in her mouth when the doorbell rang. Sighing, she set down her fork.
“I’ll get it,” she said to Gabriella who had begun to rise out of her chair. She left the dining room and made her way to the door, pulling it open. She was expecting all but him. Standing frozen, she gaped at him taking him in, her stomach feebly lurching.
“Jasper?” she choked out finally.
“Hello, Hermione.” He replied softly.
A/N: I have some explaining to do, I know. I haven’t been around as frequently because life has been much too hectic than one girl can handle. The sole reason behind all this, is because my family has emigrated. It’s still tough adjusting to the new environment, especially school and education here relies heavily on frequent testing. I’m writing in whatever time I can find and I promise to try and update more frequently than I have been doing recently. But please don’t understand that my time is no longer predominantly dedicated to writing and updating. Unfortunate as that is.
Your homesick author,
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