Chapter 5 : An Eventful Evening
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Chapter 5: An Eventful Evening
Hermione awoke abruptly as a softly keening moan met her ears. She sat up and gathered her wits about her for a moment, before quickly leaping up and throwing a shawl over her shoulders to protect against the early morning chill. Wand in hand, she hurried out of her room and across the small hallway, pushing her daughter’s door open.
“Lumos,” Hermione spoke, allowing the wand-light to fall on her daughter’s features.
Annie lay tangled in her sheets, sweat spilling off her brow and a contorted expression of pain on her lips.
Hermione leaned over her daughter, taking Annie’s clammy hands in her own. “Annie, honey, wake up. It’s just a dream.”
Anneliese thrashed about once more before opening her eyes in shock, her breath coming in loud gasps now. She looked into her mother’s wide eyes and slowly calmed her racing heart with deep, slow breaths. “Mum. What is it? Is everything alright?”
Hermione rubbed slow, soothing circles over Annie’s hands, still clenched tightly in her own, and looked toward the open door. She sighed and stood, carefully tugging her now-confused daughter along with her.
At the doorway, Hermione glanced out to the left to see the painted dragon swirling in its frame, wings flapping quickly and a look of deep concern in the green beast’s grey eyes.
“This painting, Annie – your father had it commissioned for me, mere days before his death, to help sooth my nightmares after the war. He said…” Hermione closed her eyes briefly and struggled to regain her composure as she once again felt her eyes tearing up, “he said that no matter where he was, no matter how far away, he would always be able to comfort me through the magic of this painting. Somehow, this painting would… contact him, let him know how I am.”
Gently reaching up a trembling hand and brushing the tears out of her mother’s eyes, Annie quietly asked, “How does it work? I mean, do you think it does, even still?”
Hermione never broke contact with the beast’s stormy grey eyes. “Magic is very powerful, but even with all of our advances we do not know what happens when someone crosses over to the other side. My mind tells me this is pure superstition – but my heart? Well, it has always felt that your father somehow knew he would not be with me long.”
Looking away from the dragon and gazing now into her daughter’s identical grey orbs, Hermione gave a sad smile and softly continued. “When I first placed the painting on this wall, I would spend hours merely looking at this dragon lazily soaring the sky, reminding me so much of your father’s love for flying… and it did provide me some comfort. I suppose there is magic in that.”
Anneliese was suddenly exhausted. She took a shallow breath and slid slowly to the floor, folding her arms over her knees and resting her chin on them. “Mum. The dragon – I dreamt of it just now, only there were two of them, and they were fighting. The green one lost its life to the silver one. There was a lot of blood. I have had this dream nearly every night… for a year.”
Hermione gave a sigh and slid down next to her daughter on the hardwood floor, pulling Annie’s head into her lap. “Oh Darling, why didn’t you tell me?” She looked away, picking at the hem of her nightgown absentmindedly and muttering, “I never put much stock in Divination or dream interpretation, true, but this must mean something!”
“What are you on about, Mum?,” Annie asked. Her mother certainly had shown another side to her in the past 24 hours. Annie was not entirely sure what to make of it.
“Annie. Come with me,” Hermione said as she quickly jumped from the floor and rushed to the stairs, holding the spiral railing as she went down. Annie sighed and followed.
Once in the small living room, Hermione pointed her wand to the far wall of books and muttered something under her breath. Annie jumped back startled when the bookcase shimmered away, revealing a small fireplace.
Hermione walked over to the fireplace and used her wand as a type of torch, lighting the kindling within. She then grabbed an ornate jar off of the small mantle and, kneeling, threw a handful of coarse green powder from the jar into the flames.
Bending over the flames, she told her daughter, “this is international floo powder,” as if that would somehow explain everything. She then called out clearly “Potter Manor, Godric’s Hollow!”
Anneliese held her breath, kneeling beside her mother and willing herself to believe that Hermione would not suddenly burst into flames in front of her eyes. This must be more magic, she would just have to get used to it all.
Annie watched her mother carefully, listening as an unfamiliar woman’s voice came from the flames. “Harry James Potter, you better be glad I am in a forgiving mood! Come on through, dear, you’re a bit late, the kids are already... OH! MERLIN! HERMIONE! IS THAT YOU?!”
Anneliese could hear the smile in her mother’s voice as she replied, “Ginny. Yes, it’s me. It is so good to hear your voice. I take it Harry is not at home? I am afraid I have some rather urgent business to discuss with him.”
“Hermione, he is still at the office; the prat is late, actually. We are going away for the weekend, the kids are at the Burrow and this new case must be keeping him at work a bit longer. He is so stressed… do you want to come on through and wait for him? I am not sure how long he will be.” The woman’s voice was apologetic now.
“Hold on one moment, Gin,” Hermione said as she pulled her head from the flames. She turned to her daughter and, making a quick decision that somehow felt right, she smiled and said, “Honey. Listen to me, do exactly as I say and everything will be fine. We are going to step into this fire, and I want you to hold my arm tightly and squeeze your eyes shut. We cannot apparate internationally, so I’m afraid flooing is our best option.”
Anneliese looked at her mother in disbelief, but took a deep breath and followed her into the fire, surprised when the green flames did not burn her legs. She did as her mother instructed, shutting her eyes as Hermione yelled again, “Potter Manor!” The world began to spin beneath her feet and she felt as though she were flying sideways. After several dizzying moments, she felt solid ground again. She opened her eyes as her mother pulled her out of a sleek marble fireplace and into a plush, formal room draped in various reds and golds.
“Oh Hermione, it is so good to see you, it has been so long! Please, sit – OH! Who is this?!” As she slowly stepped out from behind her mother, Anneliese’s eyes fell on a red-headed woman who had tears cascading down her cheeks.
Hermione gently tugged Anneliese forward to meet the woman’s startled eyes. “Ginny. This is my daughter, Anneliese. Annie, this is my dearest girlfriend, Ginny.” Hermione held Ginny’s gaze for a moment, then as Ginny’s brown eyes met Anneliese’s silver ones, Ginny gave a sharp gasp and her hands flew over her mouth.
Ginny looked quickly to Hermione, a question clearly burning in her gaze. Hermione resignedly gave a small nod and quietly uttered only one word.
*** The Ministry of Magic, Office of the Head Auror ***
As Harry Potter straightened the files on his desk, levitating the ones marked confidential back to his magically sealed filing cabinet, he groaned as his head throbbed for the seventh time in as many hours. Satisfied that no task had been forgotten (Hermione would be proud, he smirked), he fastened his cloak and was preparing to leave his office for a well-deserved weekend away; suddenly, his fireplace sprang to life and out stepped the source of his most recent headaches.
“Malfoy. To what do I owe this, erm, pleasure? And can whatever it is keep until Monday? I am just on my way out, the kids are at the Burrow and my wife is waiting for me.”
Draco glanced at the unusual tidiness of the office and raised one finely-groomed brow. “Going away, are we? Well, the lovely Weaslette will have to wait. You see,” he drawled as he removed his coat and sat in Potter’s chair, placing his feet on the desk, “my mother has just informed me that Father has discovered my feelings for Hermione.”
“WHAT!? How? Ron and I have not told a soul about you and Hermione! Not even Kingsley knew until last week, when we received an anonymous tip that Hermione was in danger.” Harry had rarely lost his composure since being appointed Head Auror almost ten years ago, so Draco was mildly surprised at his outburst.
“I am not sure, Potter, but I do know that if anything happens to her, I will be out for blood. Possibly yours. I am leaving tonight. Right now. No more of this waiting to assemble a team crap. If you cannot provide me with any aurors, I will go alone. Now tell me where she is,” Draco demanded as he rose from his seat with a determined look in his eyes.
Harry recognized that look in his eyes. It was the same look he knew his own held whenever there appeared to be a threat against Ginny or his family. He sighed.
“The last place the undercover aurors saw her was in Southern California in the Muggle High School where she works. They say she disappeared from the library. One of our American counterparts is posing as a local author who was supposed to meet with her to discuss research methods yesterday afternoon. Hermione called her from an unknown location with a “family emergency,” and as we know she has no family in the area so she is either being held under duress or she is hiding something,” Harry finished, taking a file from the confidential drawer and handing it to Draco. “Eveything I know is in there. Just don’t take that out of the building, or Shacklebolt will have my hide.”
Harry sat at his desk and pulled some official looking forms and a self-inking quill pen out of his top drawer. As he began to fill them out, Draco peered at the form on top curiously. “Release of Liability Authorization? Isn’t that one of those bloody obnoxious papers you can only have signed by the Minister of Magic himself?...” Draco stopped.
He looked at Harry with sudden understanding in his eyes, “Old Shacklebolt is grooming you to take over as Minister, isn’t he? So who does he want as Head Auror, then? Please do not tell me it’s the Weasel, his ginger mop blows his cover every time.”
Harry lifted his gaze and met Draco’s head-on, ignoring the blonde man’s surly demeanor. “Actually, no; as much as Ron would deserve the promotion, he does not have the desire to head the department. Kingsley and I are planning on going a different route. The thing is, we want someone who understands both sides,” he paused and set his quill back down, leaning back in his chair as he met the blonde’s gaze, “what we want, Malfoy, is you.”
A/N: Now we are getting somewhere! Please let me know what you think! :)
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