Chapter 8 : The Real Upper East Side
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“I SEE THEM! I SEE THEM!” The elf yelled in his croaky voice while pointing out to the opening iron gates.
“Oh...dear.” Dory gulped. “ALRIGHT! LET’S GO, LET’S GO. Outside now!”
A small army of 7 little skinny elves skittered out the door and stepped down the stairs to stand in a straight line – one on each stair. As the BMW speeded in towards them, they patted down their clean white uniforms and looked straight ahead. From the corner of their eye, they could see the car stop and just as the uniformed driver stepped out to open doors, they flew up and open from both sides and out came two screaming girls. The driver stepped clear of them and instead opened the trunk of the car.
“Race you!” Laura told Eva, who was already reaching the stairs. They struggled to get passed each other in their stiletto boots but seemed to enjoy every minute of it. Passing the elves, they aimed for the door.
“Good Afternoon, Miss Malfoy and Miss Zabini.” Dory smiled. “Welcome home.” He swayed his hand back and the gigantic doors swung back in time for the rushing girls.
“Hi, Dory!” they just about screamed back before they passed him and nearly swept his fragile body in with their speed.
They didn’t gasp, like every person who walked in, but after months in Hogwarts, which by their standard was only mediocre, they came to appreciate this place they called home – this place befitting royals. The outside was a massive stone castle, you could say, but for the inside, one needed a keen eye and knowledge of quality to truly understand their class. Every piece of detail – the cushions and carpets, curtains and coffee tables...the smallest of detail – the flowers - were clearly of the most exquisite, rare and expensive taste. Room after room decked and maintained, step after step echoing in space left even after heavy adornment. A colour scheme themed each room, depending on its purpose – like the dimly lit and calm library or the bright sunroom. Statues and paintings paved corridors that ran on for miles – stretching to rooms the family hadn’t been to in years even. This place, this house, if one could call it that, was overwhelming and would dazzle to death those who would allow it. The girls themselves spun around a few times to take it all back in...but there was something else making them excited.
Dory heard them while he instructed the elves to collect the girl’s luggage. He could hardly suppress a smile; he found it amazing and strange that this scene had not changed once in 6 years. It was always the same – the car stopped, they ran into the house yelling out for their parents...except the next part was going to be different. Dory suddenly remembered what he was supposed to do and followed the girls into the house. He didn’t know how he was going to break the news without being trampled.
Laura ran to the sun room. “Mom?” Receiving no answer, she went on to the library.
“Daddy?” Eva checked the back and snowy grounds. She ran to his study then.
“Miss Evangeline...” Dory tried.
“Err...I’d like Greek for dinner, Dory.” Evangeline guessed. “Laur, are you alright with Greek for dinner?”
“Yeah...sounds great.” Laura answered absent minded-ly as she went to the other side of the house. “Mom!”
“That’s fine, Miss.” Dory nodded, “But you must know that...”
“Eva, they’re not downstairs.” Laura concluded and went for the stairs.
“They’re probably in their room...I’ll go see them.” Evangeline said excitedly.
“No, Eva!” Laura looked shocked and hushed, running after her. “You know we’re not allowed there!”
Eva waved it off, “They’ll want to know we’re home.” She walked passed Laura.
Dory’s eyes were almost out of its googly sockets. As Eva approached the door, Dory suddenly appeared before her, barricading her from the door. He didn’t want to remember what happened to the elf that went in. Sure, it was the heiress this time, a different situation, but Dory had a feeling he’d take most of the heat if she went in. “Dory must tell you, Miss, that Lord and Lady Malfoy are not home. They left for Italy two days ago with Mister and Misses Zabini and will return later tonight.”
Eva turned around slowly to Laura, who seemed to stare at their door with an incredulous expression – she couldn’t believe it. She dropped her hands. Evangeline sighed tiredly and disappointed. She was almost surprised.
She heard Laura ask, “Where’s Duke, Dory?” She waited for an answer without even looking at him.
“In the woods, Miss.” He answered cautiously. Laura slowly nodded and turned to walk back down the stairs. Everyone was quiet. Dory tried again as he followed the two of them back down. “The Misses must know they were very sorry they couldn’t be here, it was a sudden plan-.”
“Please ask the elves to unpack, Dory.” Meaning she didn’t want to listen to him anymore. “I’d like to change soon.”
The curt but pleasant enough responses were something Dory only got used to and comfortable seven years after Hermione came into the house. In all his years of service in the Malfoy household, he never remembered one member of the family speak to him and the elves without some sort of verbal abuse or ill treatment. The surprise wasn’t that Lady Malfoy taught her children what no Malfoy did, but she changed Lord Malfoy considerably too. By now Dory was so used to it; he wasn’t shocked, but merely went one way and the girls to another. As Laura picked up speed, Eva could tell she was getting upset by the minute. “Let it go, Laur, they’ll be back in a few hours-.”
“Don’t pick us up like every parent does – fine!” she said, walking fast to the back of the house. “Don’t watch my games like you promised – it’s O.K, you have a business to run and time is money. Leave when I’m cutting my birthday cake – that’s alright, I know you have to save a life.” She said as if speaking to her parents. “But don’t pick a vacation over me!”
“Laur...” Eva tried.
“Sudden plan!” She spat, quoting Dory. “Has Mommy’s name all over it.” She shook her head in disappointment and walked out of the house. Eva sighed, not arguing. This was the limit. It took a while, and an even longer silence, but they walked to the middle of the semi green grass with snow icing the top. Laura stopped and put her palms to the sides of her mouth to boom her voice. “DUKE!”
Eva cracked half a smile and did the same. “CZAR!”
They took turns calling the names as loud as they could and then stopped.
“Are you counting?” Laura almost smiled.
“Yeah...” Eva was already grinning. “...3...2...1.”
When she said one, a flock of birds launched off the boundary trees and dispersed into the grey sky. A faint stampede could be heard in the distance and then suddenly two massive Alaskan Malamutes were bounding at maximum speed towards the girls. Both close to 25 inches in height, brown eyed, and a snowy white base fur, they were only differentiated by the blinding black of Laura’s eyes on Duke and the exotic grey of Eva’s eyes on Czar’s back.
The one coming in first was Duke – Laura’s dog and Czar sprinted right behind him with his tongue out and sticking to his cheek. He was Evangeline’s dog. Both of them Alaskan born, Draco paid top price to have them bred and brought to England for his girls last Christmas. It took him 8 months to find the right parents to make the perfect dogs – in other words, a dog befitting the class of Malfoys, and his girls of course.
Laura screamed in excitement, “Look how much my baby’s grown!”
Even Evangeline gasped as her heart raced with every meter they covered. Just as they bent down to greet their pets, the two dogs stopped short and leaned back, growling and barking. Their sheer height and razor sharp teeth would send anyone running. Even the girls were wide eyed and put a hand out.
“I’m sorry, but you know Hogwarts doesn’t let us come home.” She explained. “Czar, down!”
The dogs went on growling at their owners for deserting them and disappearing for months! Laura tried, “Duke...” she spoke smoothly. “Growl one more time and I’ll leave again.”
The dog suddenly cried like a puppy, ran up to Laura and jumped onto her. Before Eva could see Laura falling to the ground with Duke, Czar threw her back too. As the girls laughed and screamed, the dogs licked them frivolously.
“Czar, there’s snow on the ground!” Evangeline protested, trying to get up. But neither would he let up, nor could she get free. He missed his owner.
When the dogs had calmed down, the girls played with them, throwing rubber balls for them to retrieve. Evangeline saw Laura pet Czar rather thoroughly while giving him a deep look, she asked her. “Are you still angry?”
“No.” Laura sighed. Eva was about to drop the topic seeing as it was about time.
It wasn’t understanding or time that changed Laura’s opinion, but rather just the fact that her parents were getting closer to home – it HAD to change. “I respect that they have lives too, that they are professionals who make their careers a priority. I want to be like that,” she said looking out at the trees, “love my family but make no apologies for loving my career. They are mothers and fathers but they are also doctors, politicians even, businessmen and women. But lately, mommy’s been acting weird.” She said, lost in her thoughts. “She wants to do everything! She wants to work until she can’t stand, wants to attend every party...wants to be on vacation, when she doesn’t do either. It’s like she’s become a child.” She laughed incredulously. “And she works her charm on Mom, Dad and Daddy and then everyone’s acting silly.” And then her voice picked up again. “I know it’s just hours but every minute counts to me when I’m home. Are they telling me a vacation couldn’t wait until we left?”
Evangeline nodded. They sat quiet, loving their dogs for the months they missed.
“Do you think we do it as penance?” She suddenly asked Evangeline.
“Penance?” Eva wondered.
“Yeah...Seethe with so much anger inside sometimes but forgive them for everything, over look their wrongs, because we do many wrongs they don’t know about?”
“It’s not like they don’t keep secrets from us, you know.” Evangeline huffed slightly.
“Yeah, I know.” Laura said, thinking deeply, “But what if they’re doing the same. We can’t possibly believe they hear nothing but what we don’t tell them. What if they let us slip through for what they can’t tell us?”
“They can tell us.” Eva stated firmly. “They just choose not to.”
“I’d like to think they’re protecting us from something.” Laura said, staring into the woods. “Times were different then, darker. There’s a cloud that comes over their face when we bring it up...like they remember something so terrible it takes the colour away from their face in a second.”
Eva tried not to snort. She agreed with Laura about the cloud part, but she also felt, in true Laura style, she was trying to make it an acceptable and not-so-bad twist to the problem. They sat in the silence again, with the wind picking up. But no one moved as the dogs curled beside them with their warm furs.
The silence gave Eva the chance to think. “I guess you’re right. We’d rather smile at them when we’re sad than have them know what we did...like we shouldn’t be angry at them when we have so much to be angry at in ourselves.”
Laura nodded slowly. She smiled at her dog, thinking of all the times they would spend together in the absence of their parents in this echoing mansion.
“Can I ask you something?” Laura suddenly asked. Clearly she’d been thinking about this one during the silence. It sprung up when the topic of secrets was being discussed.
Eva looked up in response.
“We...err... didn’t talk about it because of the shock, I guess, and then I got over excited when Ryan came back. But I never asked you how you handled the Volton curse.”
Evangeline gulped at the name and looked away immediately. Flashes of the night flickered everywhere. “Wasn’t too bad, I’ve had worse.” She smiled at Laura.
True, the names of those curses exchanged between them were whispered in gasps and hushed tones by students even today. Terrible and merciless they were, but Laura looked offended, “It has the effect of a high power taser gun, I’m not stupid!”
Evangeline chuckled slightly. Stupid and Laura definitely did not fit in the same sentence. She sighed, wondering if she should say it blatantly or save Laura the anger. But it would be of no use, she was expecting the worst.
“I had blood in my mouth.” She said plainly.
“I swallowed it when he turned to look at you.”
Laura stood up abruptly and swore out loud to the open air, taking advantage of Draco’s absence. She turned around, looking at the trees and rubbing her temple, shocked. “You were worried he’d see you bleed!?” she questioned Eva. Blood was an automatic victory but it didn’t mean an end in their past incidents.
“Not as much as the Prefects finding out I actually have bushy hair.” She remembered.
All that could be heard was the wind and then they both broke down to a laugh – Laura couldn’t keep her serious composure. The picture of Eva’s real curly hair in the middle of corridor made Laura clutch her stomach. The volts would surely have worn out the hair potion that gave Eva the supposed perfect hair.
“True,” she tried to breathe through the laughter, “a site of your real hair and even Potter would have paralyzed, no curse needed.”
“Hey!” Eva protested with cheeks red. She began playfully hitting Laura.
“Think about it, Eva.” Laura choked on the air. “You would become THE Medusa.” She had tears from her eyes as she tipped to her side from the laughter.
“You’re horrible!” Eva said miffed. “I felt like I died for a second when my body stopped shaking!”
Laura subsided her laughter slowly as the words registered in her head.
“It’s like being shook so hard, so fast that you’re barely moving but you’re body is in sharp pain and you’re hitting the ground hard three times every second.” She heard nothing from Laura. “The hardest part was being powerless and just feeling it control your body so violently, without a whim of chance. I was biting so hard, trying not to scream, I bit into my tongue...blood. When it stopped, it took a full thirty seconds before I could breathe.”
Laura suddenly rolled on the ground to turn and hug Eva tightly. “Over my dead body.” Laura promised. “He’ll never hurt you like that again.”
Eva smiled. She never wanted to feel like that again – out of control and in pain...worse, under Potter’s control and in pain. “Come on, it’s getting dark. We have to get dressed for dinner; they’ll be here soon.” Eva said. She was home and it was a Potter-free zone...and she intended to keep it that way.
When Laura agreed and stood straight, Eva put an arm around Laura, who was surprised and laughed slightly. “So we smile...”
While dressing for dinner, the girls were informed by Dory that their parents were home. However, because they were Malfoys, tradition and propriety meant that they would not go running to see them but rather meet at the dinner table.
Orabelle gowns swept stair by stair slowly as the girls, ornate and styled, stepped down and towards the dining the room. There wasn’t a hint of bitterness-to-be-replaced-with-fake-happiness. It was a required penance and their parents were home now, the rest was forgotten – they just wanted to see their mom and dad. Well, maybe not too soon...
“Oh, Mab! They’re going to be here any second and I have no idea how I’m supposed to break the news about Ryan.” Laura perspired, pacing. “Dad will explode.”
“Calm down, Laura or you’ll be mucking the make-up.” Eva said while taking her seat by the table. “Tell daddy he looks handsome tonight or something, you know that always butters him up right...got us the Chanel coats, remember?”
“But unless we bring home Prince William, he won’t even hear the concept of boyfriend!” Laura complained.
“Yeah...” Evangeline sighed. “He won’t settle for Harry...”
Laura rolled her eyes. “Are you even listening t-?”
The door suddenly opened and Dory cleared his throat, stepped in and stood aside. It was a signal for Eva and Laura, who rushed to stand and fix their gowns. When they felt decent, they could hear a familiar blunt shoe and a sharp stiletto – their parents were definitely home.
When they walked through the door, Hermione was the first to search and find them at their spots. An already big smile got bigger with a slight scream and then she rushed to hug her girls. Laura had a rushing thought in that second – How was it that a normal muggle girl camouflaged perfectly into a Malfoy family and then suddenly created her own brand of Malfoy? Apparently, according to Draco, without Hermione as a mother, she and Eva would be snobby, heartless children...or as he put it, girl-versions of Draco. And Laura believed it completely. The compassion she and Eva had...little or not, was because of Hermione’s teaching.
This lady was going to be in the history books...and not just the Malfoy ones. Was it any wonder she had seven books chronicling her life? Unfortunate, of course, that they should be inaccurate in almost every chapter, but seven people around the world decided she was great and interesting enough to be written about. She was a mother, a doctor, a socialite, a rebel and who could forget, part of the famous three responsible for a peace today...a lone soldier now.
Laura smiled with pride; she had the world’s most famous woman as her mom.
She first hugged Eva, while Laura ran to Draco. Dazzling smiles and kisses were all around as the family was re-united again. It seemed like exactly 3 minutes later that the girls turned around to greet the other parent now.
“Oh my god, look at you!” Hermione gasped, while cupping Laura’s face. “It’s like Bianca at 17 all over again!”
Laura giggled, secretly still in awe. “Thank you, Mom. How was Italy?”
“Oh, darling, we’re so sorry. That was simply terrible of us. It was just going to be an afternoon at the beach but then-.”
“It’s alright,” Laura insisted as part of the deal, “we didn’t mind.”
Meanwhile Evangeline had just de-tangled from her mommy and suddenly looked to see a man staring at her by the fire place. His face was pallid and his hair shined white. The only slight darkness in him was the grey in his eyes...the ones that gave the colour of hers. There he stood, hands in pockets, so perfect and without fault in her eyes. The topic of ‘boyfriend’ was still running through her mind but looking at him now, she realized why she was never content with them...they simply weren’t him. She would never know a man so honourable, loving, gentle and strong again...and she would not settle. He stood on a pedestal above all.
“Daddy...” she almost sung.
As she slowly walked up to Draco, he bloomed to a handsome smile but he didn’t move, prolonging the time it took her to get to him. It might have been something out of tradition but Draco stayed, taking the time to marvel at that exquisite person he called his daughter, as she took brisk but graceful steps towards him. Sometimes he couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that she was his making - that he had something to do with her being alive. He was never one to put down his good looks but even this perfection was beyond him. He accredited his wife for something this indescribable. After Hermione, she was the most beautiful thing he’d seen in his lifetime.
“Good evening, sir.” She smiled.
“Hello, my love.” He laughed as they hugged. He loved this about his life these past few years - the mix of original Malfoy courtesy and tradition, with today’s easy informality. Hermione had helped upheld traditions forgotten but taught them never to be too uptight.
Now they simply hugged, long and tight – daddy and his jewel.
“Five-five, I’m guessing.” He said of her new height when he held her at arm’s length. He beamed.
Evangeline laughed, pleased with herself... pleased with anything that pleased her daddy.
“How have you been, daddy?” she asked him as he leant his elbow and they moved towards the dinner table.
“The same, love.” Draco sighed. “The holiday season brings out the stupid in some people so the hospital has been rather busy.”
Evangeline nodded, “The only one not busy nowadays is dad, I think.”
Draco seemed to somewhat agree. “The ministry is relaxed, of course. And I guess not many people gift a delivery bird to someone for Christmas. But the Ministry has actually placed a rather large order for Blaise so he will have to get on it fast.” Draco informed Eva.
They discussed Blaise’s business – he started a farm where birds, not owls, were trained to be obedient and deliver superior mailing service. Dubbed by the Daily Prophet as innovative and simply brilliant, it was affordable only to the wealthy. The price tag came with a reason very apparent when one saw them. Strictly trained to deliver un-complain able service, they neither made errors nor needed cleaning up after. Blaise chose the birds and he set up the farm – he, of course, wasn’t directly involved in the rearing, just how he wanted them reared. He dealt with everything but the rearing basically, the paperwork and the orders. Word was spreading fast and now Blaise was adding more to the Zabini riches.
“That’s great!” Eva exclaimed, “The Ministry will be using our birds...” she thought in bewilderment.
“Blaise and Bee,” as Draco called her affectionately, “both wanted to join us but Bee had some last minute things to take care of before the catering business closes for the holidays.” He said this louder, so Laura could hear as well, as they sat at the dining table. Draco sat at the head, while Hermione to his right and his girls to the left.
“I’m excited!” Laura squealed. “Seems like this one will be the best one yet!”
“I don’t see how it can’t be.” Hermione said. “She’s invited the Scottish royals, half the ministry and of course the ‘usuals’.” Although they changed every year, by ‘usuals,’ Hermione meant the extravagantly rich. To get into this party you’d have to have one of the two at the very least; political power and/or own a gold mine at Gringotts. The entire hall was going to be V.I.P sanctioned.
As they spoke, the salad appeared, starting off the restaurant quality dishes.
“So, how was the term?” Draco asked.
“Outstanding.” Both girls chorused. They weren’t talking about the term as much as they were talking about their standing in school.
Hermione looked up without surprise and beamed at both her girls. “Marvellous.” Draco praised. This was the reason for it all – the months of gruelling studying – just so they could tell their parents that they were at the top of the school. You’d think it was Hermione, who followed up mostly about the academics, and yes, mostly it was, but after being a part of a family who spent every spare minute in the library, Draco didn’t expect anything less. Also, with age came more of his wisdom; he saw how far academics took people. Could he turn back the clock and go back to school, he would have tried harder. Then again, academics weren’t the only thing he’d want to go back and change. Hermione insisted he was smarter than he gave himself credit for, but when one stood next to Hermione Malfoy, they’d always come up short.
“How are the girls?” Hermione inquired.
“Great. Audrey’s really trying hard this year, Jennelle is definitely penning a best-seller.” They both chuckled. “And Aurrette is extremely excited for the new house.”
“Yes, I saw it last week when Leo invited me to lunch.” Draco said. “And it’s definitely something to be excited about.”
“Bigger and better than ours?” Eva asked suspiciously.
“Of course not.” Draco answered cooly.
Hermione rolled her eyes – like father, like daughter. Some Malfoy-ness could not be gotten rid off no matter the effort or time. She decided to change the topic before father and daughter starting marvelling at Malfoy achievements.
“So I came across something ...strange.” she said, choosing the word. “I was having the Sunday luncheon with the ladies and in a conversation with four of them; Vera was asking me where we bought Laura and Evangeline’s ‘M’ gold string necklaces. So I told her about Omar’s jewellers in Dubai and then she asked if all the girls got them from there, or were they different ones.”
Evangeline nearly choked but reached for her water, Laura merely wiped her mouth with her napkin or rather hid behind it.
Hermione edged back, knowing something was up, but continued. “Obviously, I knew nothing of what she was on about but had to act like it. Now tell me girls, why would three other girls, who are not Malfoys, and have last names starting with other letters, wear similar M’s?”
At this point, both girls burst into giggle but tried very hard to control themselves because they were at the dinner table. Hermione turned to Draco, clearly getting no answer from them. “And then she said something about ‘Medusa’ that I had to smile about.”
At this, Eva laughed into her napkin, and Laura took hers with her when she stood up and walked around the table, fanning herself with it as the laughter shook her.
“Girls...” Was all Draco said. He did not like behaviour like this at the dinner table – they were to be prim and proper.
“Sorry, dad.” Laura apologized and sat back down. Eva composed herself.
“I can’t believe they talk about us outside school as well.” Evangeline said to Laura.
“The mothers too!” Laura shook her head.
“Tell me you don’t have a sort of clique going on in school.” Hermione ordered.
Evangeline bit her lip and even Laura didn’t know how to put this. “It’s not a clique...mommy.” Evangeline said, although not sure about it. “It’s just us five and they have a name for us.”
“Why would they have a name for you?” Draco asked.
Eva could more honestly and without fear tell her daddy best, “Because it’s us, daddy.” Was all she told him and with a smile.
Draco laughed and even patted her back lightly; still laughing he raised his glass of wine to Laura because he couldn’t reach her. Draco was amazed – she was truly a Malfoy!
“Are you seriously supporting this?” Hermione asked, staggered.
“Why not?” Draco smiled at her. “There is nothing wrong with being popular.” He looked to his girls again and said, “I knew you two were high up but I didn’t know it was the cherry on top of the icing sort of high up. The Medusas...”
“No, this is wrong!” Hermione said, “You aren’t superior to them because of your privileges and background!”
The table got serious now with Hermione’s tone of voice.
“It isn’t all about who your family is and how much they have at Gringotts...it’s also about our own titles. Evangeline is captain and prefect AND has the highest grades in school history...with you of course.” She added. “How do you hide or blend in with regular people after that?”
Hermione said nothing.
“I enjoy it.” Evangeline said plainly. “But I didn’t ask for it. It didn’t help that my father was a Malfoy and my mother was part of the reason the world is in peace today.” She said while playing with her food. “It doesn’t help that Laura is one of the only pure-bloods in the world today and her mother is richer than the school, or that her father is a controversial politician.” She looked at her dad, who seemed to be in deep thought and her mom, who seemed to understand now. “You can’t stand with everyone else because they will talk about you – good or bad. We closed in on ourselves to protect ourselves and separated ourselves from everyone else because we ARE higher...you know that, mommy.” Evangeline was citing Hermione’s life. Since her elevation as Malfoy, a filthy rich doctor, she had more than her share of gossip. There was something so wrong about how Eva said it...that arrogance she hated in Draco, but why was it true? It shouldn’t be true! She realized for the first time that, in a sick way, she, Draco, Bianca and Blaise were a clique too. They were the popular adults of another Hogwarts called society. And yes, she too carried herself higher than the ladies she went to lunch with.
“How many years...” Hermione wanted to ask.
“Since first year.” Laura answered her.
She froze but for only less than a second and then kept her cutlery moving. She didn’t appreciate finding out a year before graduating.
“Sorry.” Eva said quietly.
Hermione just nodded.
Draco eyed Hermione and his daughters. When it seemed the tension had passed, he got up and kissed his two daughters head. “Since first year, yeah?”
They laughed. When he sat down, Hermione threw him a look but with a smile. “You’re impossible.”
“I know.” He grinned. “So how does it work? Do you tell people to clean your shoes?”
“Draco!” Hermione chided as the girls laughed.
“Fine!” he gave up. “...Tell me later.” He said quietly. This time the girls were glad their mother stopped it. They weren’t looking forward to discussing what they did with their authority in school.
Laura knew Hermione had trouble with the self-righteousness Draco and Eva carried themselves with. She knew it wasn’t right but over the years, she was also guilty of using it. There was something about this last name that almost demanded a proud and unabashed attitude. Although she used it occasionally, Draco and Eva had it in everything they said. Laura decided to change the topic but only remembered the last thing – the ball.
“Did you pick your gown yet, mom?” Laura inquired casually before she dug in.
“That was half the point of Italy, actually.” Hermione said, “Bianca got some ideas, but I didn’t like anything. I’m leaning towards the Chanel we saw at the Paris fashion week. I love it but I think it’s the travelling to France for a fitting that’s daunting me...what with all the work and Christmas shopping.” She sighed.
Unlike Evangeline and Laura, who automatically received the best from Orabelle, Hermione was exempted. Of course, if she wanted, she could always get whatever she pleased but she did not own a glove from Orabelle. It was Draco’s strict rule, and Hermione never argued it or wanted otherwise. Orabelle was better than any designer in most people’s eyes and she wouldn’t even have to pay a sickle for dresses that usually dug a hole in wallets, but Orabelle was also not one hundred percent owned by Bianca Zabini...fifty percent belonged to someone Draco would not allow even the smallest link to. He didn’t see it as a link to Ginny, but a link to the Potters and Weasleys.
“Speaking of shopping,” Hermione went on, “I’ve stocked up on your cosmetics and everything else you listed...the boots are shipping in tomorrow. The car will be ready at nine a.m. to take you into London for your Christmas shopping.” Obviously, the girls would not give their parents something petty from Hogsmead. “I’ll leave credit cards...which I want back at the end of the day, ladies.” She heard the girls cheer and then groan. Such Muggle-isms were rarely and reluctantly used in the house but it would be strange if they went shopping with bags of money. “Then, you’ll meet Bianca at the Cartier House at one o’clock; she’ll apologize for today with lunch and five hours at the spa. Anything else you would like?”
“I love it when Mommy apologizes.” Laura said to herself.
“Daddy’s Mercedes please and Harold to drive...by the time Mr. Willow gets us to London, I’ll have walked there. And only five hours?” Eva asked confused, like she’d heard wrong.
Draco rolled his eyes slightly, he was right – without Hermione, these girls would be the female version of a teenage Draco. But before he could say anything, Laura spoke up.
“Actually, Mom, when you’re in Paris, could you talk to Pierre about a bedroom in maroon and black?”
“Sure, Honey.” Hermione said, “What did you want done to the room?”
Evangeline tensed up but tried to hide it to help Laura. Her utensils were shaking slightly.
“Actually, I’d like my own room now.” Laura said cautiously. “Right beside Eva.”
Draco stopping eating, “Sorry?”
Hermione was looking at them both too now.
Laura gulped. “You don’t have to break down a wall to make it bigger, I like it fine now.”
“No, no, why do you want your own room?” Draco questioned.
“Just.” Was all she said, trying to smile.
“O.K, no.” Draco laughed, adjusting his seating. “All these years I’ve been saying, get your own rooms and you two never listened. Now that I accept it, you want separate rooms?” he asked. “I can smell a hidden agenda there.”
“Oh, come on, daddy.” Eva tried to sound confident. “Our belongings are growing, we need more space. And, we are two people. Soon, we’ll be leading different careers, get married and want our privacy-.”
“Wait, what?” he asked.
Laura’s eyes nearly popped out and Eva nearly slapped her mouth.
“Uhh, Dad, did I mention that you look as handsome as ever?” Laura tried. “I mean, that hair, that smirk...God, must have stolen those girl’s hearts, you little devil you.”
Draco ignored it; he was too transfixed on the image that hit his head. “There’s a boy...there’s a boy, isn’t it?” His voice escalated.
“No!” Eva said confidently
“He really is the nicest bloke, dad.” Laura told him.
Evangeline slapped her face. “You’re supposed to deny.” She whispered harshly to Laura.
“You have a boyfriend, Laura?” Hermione asked as if someone told her she could take tomorrow off from work.
“Huh?!” both girls asked.
“ORDER IN MY HOUSE!” Draco yelled.
Hermione cleared her throat.
“Come on, Honey!” he complained. “You know I meant “our” house, I’m just trying to make a point here.”
“O.K...” Hermione raised her hands slightly in surrender.
Draco took air into his lungs and turned to look at his girls. “You know the rule in this house. No boyfriends until you finish school!”
“I know, dad.” Laura said sadly.
“Good. So you know what to do next.” He simply said, starting to eat again. Problem resolved.
Evangeline could feel danger. Something told her it wasn’t going to be all fun and games now.
Evangeline shut her eyes and dropped her head, Hermione bit her lip and Draco froze. Laura NEVER ever spoke against Draco, Evangeline was hardly known for talking back, but it was un-heard of from Laura.
“Pardon me?” Draco asked.
“No, I won’t end it.”
Draco placed his fork on his plate and looked at Laura. He folded his hands and looked at her. “You will do as I say, young lady.”
He never used his authority or that tone on his children and now that he did, Laura was struggling, trying to hold up. Even Hermione couldn’t speak up. Tears started forming in Laura’s eyes. “I did. Head-over-heels obsessed but I spent four months away from him in the summer because it was your word. A day without him and I feel sick but in respect for you, I settled on writing letters. I’ve met his parents but can’t accept any of their invitations because I take seriously what you say. I know it hurts him, makes him think it’s because he isn’t up to our standards. I did it then, but I can’t do it now...even if I wanted to. I was taught well, dad, so I assure you I chose well. You can dislike me from now on, but I’m asking mom for the room. And if she won’t, I’ll ask mommy. So I’m not asking you for a room or permission, I’m informing you of my decision because I don’t want to keep you in the dark anymore.”
Eva got hold of her palm and squeezed it under the table – it was better said then anything she imagined.
Draco stared at her, no blinks. “You would leave this house for him?”
Everyone looked at Draco in shock.
“Draco, this is hardly anything-.” Hermione started cautiously, intensely scared of the next few minutes but Draco raised a firm hand. She knew how personal the topic of boyfriends was to Draco but she was shocked at how fast the atmosphere changed here. It was reminiscent of something in her life that, had it gone slower, people would have thought about the actions that cost them happiness.
Laura’s nose was pricking, a cry forming inside her. She didn’t even need to think of the answer for a second. “Yes, I would.” She murmured.
Draco stared at her, seeing something only he did, still rigid. No one moved as he gave her that unrecognizable stare. He looked right into watery eyes and inside. “I want to meet him.” He said, his jaw still set, unforgiving of her insolence.
Everyone seemed to have taken a breath. Eva got hold of Draco’s palm as well and Laura broke into a smile, but he gulped the last of his wine and walked out of the room. Just when the last of his robe disappeared through the door, Laura buried her face into her palms and cried. Hermione got up from her seat and went around the table to Laura, while Eva was already at her side.
“Shhh,” Hermione soothed, putting her head to her chest, “it’s alright, Laura. He’ll be O.K, it just needs to sink in.”
“Oh, mom, he was so angry.” Laura wept, “He’s never been so angry at me. He didn’t even finish dinner because of me.” With that thought, she cried even harder.
“Don’t apologize.” Hermione said sternly, “Don’t do it! Don’t you see? This is why dad will see him, because you are unapologetic. He knows you really like him, so to pick someone over him means this boy must be something.”
“I’m not picking anyone.” Laura told them, wiping some tears. “I want them both in my life.”
“Oh, love, don’t worry yourself, it’s hardly anything.” Hermione smiled. “It’s all just come as a shock...for all of us...for me.” When Laura seemed to have calmed down, Hermione smiled at her, the idea finally sinking into her too. “What’s his name?”
“Ryan.” Laura murmured.
Hermione nodded, “Is he smart?”
“Yes, mom, he is smart.” Laura laughed at the very Hermione-thing to ask.
“Great, that’s all that matters then.” She started walking to the door.
Eva rolled her eyes too. “Don’t you think that’s kind of shallow, Mommy? He could be smart but a horrible person too.”
“Oh, I know.” Hermione smiled. “But he has many things to be, darling – handsome for Bianca, perfect for Draco, smart for me and for Blaise, he has to be successful. Besides, she picked him; he can’t be anything close to horrible.” Hermione winked. She then disappeared, to go placate her husband.
With just them left to dinner, they lost their appetite. Changed out of their gowns, they spent a few hours switching channels on the television they’d won over despite Draco’s deep dislike for muggle-isms. That, and a phone was debated as needed to seem ‘normal,’ when the girls were doing their elementary education at a Muggle school and friends would come ober. And what house had no phone and television? Having grown up with it, the girls couldn’t imagine life without it, but Draco was still adamant. He would like everyone to think he hates it, but he could be found with the T.V remote, pushing buttons, cursing and trying to figure it out.
With just them left to dinner, they lost their appetite. Changed out of their gowns, they spent a few hours switching channels on the television they’d won over despite Draco’s deep dislike for muggle-isms. That, and a phone was debated as needed to seem ‘normal,’ when the girls were doing their elementary education at a Muggle school and friends would come over. And what house had no phone and television? Having grown up with it, the girls couldn’t imagine life without it, but Draco was still adamant. He would like everyone to think he hates it, but he could be found with the T.V remote, pushing buttons, cursing and trying to figure it out.
It was a victorious night, quite the accomplishment if one saw Draco’s reactions to anything that sounded like ‘boyfriend.’ But the girls were quite sad. They didn’t speak while flipping channel after channel, secretly hoping their dad would come in and smile. Actually, Laura would prefer Draco shout it out, this un-Draco-like reaction and response was unnerving. She was sure to get the cold shoulder for a few days and now, a not so great Christmas present.
The girls decided on an early bed time. When they had brushed their teeth and hair, they didn’t wait up, like always, to be tucked in. Because their dad did that...and it was obvious he wasn’t going to tonight. So they slid into their double king size bed and just as they pulled up their covers, there was a knock on the door.
Eva’s eye widened, “Com-come in!”
Draco stepped in, no visible sign of sadness or anger but not exactly happy either. Laura scampered under the covers as he approached them. When he’d wordlessly begun to fix their covers, it was clear he wasn’t going to say much. But him just being here meant a lot to the girls, it would be the first time he didn’t tuck them in. He finished Eva’s side and didn’t look at her once. The same was for Laura as she watched him straighten out the covers for her comfort. He spun his wand for extra warm heat to circulate around the bed. And just as he was leaving, Laura spoke.
“I’m sorry. Dad.”
Draco exhaled...tired. Tired of fathering, of thinking of what angle he might have missed in their upbringing, trying to fulfill everything he lacked in his childhood. Trying to raise them to a standard the rest of the Malfoy’s would approve...unlike him. Tired of trying to save them... from the kind of boys he once was.
“It gets hard sometimes, girls.” He started, “it gets hard to watch you grow up. I, honestly, don’t want it. I want to do everything for you; I want to look after you forever. You are, besides Hermione, the best thing that’s happened to me and every step you take distances you from me.” Draco laughed, “Blaise and I still have a problem with you two shopping alone. You are...everything good in me. You are the contradiction and living example of a better Malfoy and I don’t want to remember what the bad name was like. I need you to stay, so I need you to relay on me...I wanted to be the only man in your lives.” He chuckled. “Well...and Blaise.”
Laura got out of her bed and went and hugged him. “Dad, you will always be the only man in my life...”
Draco laughed a little and pulled her away, “Not anymore.”
“But everybody else comes second!” Laura tried to explain.
“Really? Didn’t you choose him in favour of me and my rule?” He questioned with a smile
“I’m sorry, Dad.” She began crying again, “But he really...”
“Shhh.” Draco interrupted. “I’m not asking for reasoning, I’m making both of us realize you’re growing up. Shhh, I didn’t mean to upset you or make you feel bad. Don’t feel bad about this.”
Then she stopped crying. He put his hands on the sides of her head and looked her in the eye. “I have faith in what I taught you.” She smiled at him and he smiled back. “I’ll speak to Blaise tomorrow and you can write to this boy...what’s his name?”
“Ryan Coffer.” Laura offered.
“Coffer...Coffer...” Draco scratched his head, trying to find him among his friends and acquaintances.
“He...he is Muggle, dad.”
Draco froze for a second, trying to be the man Hermione had made him. He wasn’t perfect, in fact, he was a walking contradiction. His most beloved wife, the reason he breathes, was Muggle and yet, he still had some of his old opinions. Maybe not as venomous but he couldn’t shake off what was almost hard wired into him since he was born. But he was to set an example for his children – for his child, who was half muggle. He nodded slowly first and then confidently. “Write to him and tell him I’d like to meet him over dinner on the twenty-eight.”
“Oh dad!” Laura cried, overwhelmed with happiness. Eva wiped a tear across her face. He thought she didn’t, but Eva knew how hard this was for him. He had been fighting conflicting thoughts all these years.
No, he wasn’t the perfect man, rid of all his old ways. He still treated the elves badly sometimes, still flashed his money and still hated a lot of things Muggle. But he loved with all his heart and more than his own life, his wife and daughters. He was still so entrenched in his old thoughts, he couldn’t even see them as Muggle – they couldn’t be in his head. But he knew they were and he needed to start seeing that he didn’t just find the only great and good Muggle when he found Hermione, he needs to see that greatness wasn’t instilled in just wizards and witches.
When Laura hugged him with all the gratitude she had, he knew he made the right choice. “But you’re still not off the hook young lady, he better know what he is up against. It’ll be nothing short of a screening test and he has to pass every criterion.”
“He will.” Laura said simply.
Draco was not used to this kind of confidence in her; she was starting to speak like Eva. He was confused but smiled and sent her off to bed. He re-tucked them, with kisses this time and closed the door behind him.
He walked to the other side of the floor, towards the master bedroom. A blind person could know when they’d entered this room because their feet comforted to the feel of plush carpet. Not that the rest of the house was floored in anything less, but the best was definitely saved for the two breadwinners in the house. The room was dimly lit, just a fire almost dying out. He smiled at Hermione, who was wondering how it went with the girls. She began taking off her clothes for something comfortable.
Draco too was ridding himself of the very proper Black robe he chose for dinner, next to his pyjamas. Hermione was first to their bed. As she settled in, Draco stopped.
“Aren’t you coming to bed, love?” Hermione asked him.
Draco inhaled, “I don’t think so. I’ll do a little reading first.” He kissed a confused Hermione and left the room. Hermione slowly lay back sighing.
Draco made his way to his study. He wasn’t intending on getting any reading done actually, it was necessary to let Hermione sleep. Once there, he sat on his supreme leather seat and lit a cigar. He puffed out the smoke and watched it disappear slowly.
It was something Laura said.
No, she wasn’t starting to sound like Eva...she was starting to sound like Blaise when Bianca came into his life so many years ago. Nothing would make Draco happier than if this was going to be the bloke that took Laura all the way, but what happened years ago – him and Hermione, Blaise and Bianca finding each other so young – was absolute luck. He didn’t know if it was him forgetting his youth, but he felt 16 was not an age where one can see and recognize love. He was absolutely sure this boy would break her heart sooner or later, but she looked so sure, like she knew exactly what was going to happen...like she had seen her life ahead and he was in it.
He wasn’t at all worried about telling Blaise tomorrow. Laura might have been his daughter but she was Draco and Hermione’s responsibility, like Eva was his and Bianca’s. And if this boy was worth meeting, then Blaise trusted Draco’s judgement. He was sure to meet Ryan too but all the hard work would be Draco’s. And when the day came, Draco would find that boy and destroy him if he put tears on Laura’s face. But if the joy of that came with Laura’s broken heart, he didn’t want to see that day. He would never want to see his girls cry because he felt he might have a hard time being the strong Draco they’ve come to know. It would break his heart, and no man, hard as a rock, can survive a broken heart.
He had to laugh a bit. He went from potty training two girls to validating boyfriends, where was the time flying to? He was looking forward to tomorrow to see Blaise’s shock. He was surely going to be angry but then eventually, like Draco, her confidence would remind him of them as teenagers – of their first and only love. Oh how he’d wish his girls would, like them, meet people who would change their worlds for the better. Oh how he wished their story would re-play again...
“Ugghh!” He closed his textbook, “I can’t do it anymore! I won’t!”
Hermione sighed and put her quill down. He heard her coming towards him from the back but he didn’t let up. “I’m sick of this, all we do is study!”
She easily just sat on his lap and made him face her. “We can do this, we will do this.”
“I can’t, Hermione!” he yelled frustrated. “Coming here this late in the school year and hoping to graduate was stupid! We can’t learn what we missed and keep up with these Frenchies at the same time!”
“Try it with me?” Hermione asked, but he was too angry to look at her. “Try it with me, please?” He looked at her hard for a second. It was simply driving him insane – the eating, studying, eating, studying, eating, studying and sleeping. Every day, the same thing. Sometimes he wanted to just give up and go home. The world would understand if he didn’t graduate this year...no, actually for him they wouldn’t. They would say how like him it was not to do a good thing. But after everything that happened, after being in the fore-front of a whirlwind of a year, to sit down to a book and pretend to be a normal student seemed torturous. He couldn’t have time to himself or his thoughts, to let off all the things that had happened this past year. Instead, here he sat, in the French school of Beauxbatons, dedicating each and every minute to learning all that he missed.
Since the name Malfoy had become almost synonymous with ‘Criminal,’ education was the only way for him to get back on his feet again. He didn’t know how much was left in Gringotts but he knew it wouldn’t last for the rest of his life, so he had to start early. Thus education became a necessity but Hogwarts was not an option.
Hate for Draco was putting it mildly, the whole of England wished he would jump off a bridge somewhere. There was no place for an exposed Death Eater in society, let alone one who is responsible for leading Lord Voldermort to Dumbledore. And the doors to Hogwarts were automatically and clearly closed to him. He had disrespected the fine institution enough. A place where he once had his house stand behind him, now they were ashamed to be of the same house as him and of the Dark Lord, they spit at his feet. No, Hogwarts was not an option.
He wasn’t bitter. It was deserved. Why should they let him in again? But this girl sitting on his lap, in the human form of an angel...this girl who helped stop tyranny, who saved his life in more than one way, who faced all odds for him, had those same doors slammed on her face as well.
This he couldn’t understand. This he was bitter about. This time he was angry through and through. She had served this school day in and out, either upholding its rules or earning it pride with her marks. But today, when she needed its security for tomorrow, it closed its doors to her. And yet, she still believed in good and a better tomorrow.
Right now, he could only barely function, but he knew he would push himself because of her. Because she believed in him enough to allow society to completely stigmatize her. She left everything that would have made her great and a hero, to be seen as a backstabber and a villainess. If he couldn’t do this one thing, that seemed very important to her – for them to graduate successfully – then what could he possibly give her that would make her happy?
He looked down and away from her, inhaling. She leaned closer to him – head to head and closed her eyes. At this, he pulled her closer and just held her tight. After a few seconds he said, calm and ready, “Alright, show me.”
She kissed his forehead and picked up the quill. He listened attentively as she explained the 1655 Troll invasion. He didn’t know why everything seemed easier once she showed it to him. He must seem like an idiot to her, he thought. But she definitely didn’t show it. She always took more than enough time, with no rushes. She said it like a story and suddenly all he could remember was what she said and none of what he read through by himself.
It wasn’t long before he started doing what he always did, just look at her. He couldn’t help it. She just had these amazing facial features and the fact that she got so passionate about Trolls was definitely something to see.
“Got it?” She asked him.
He woke with a start. “Absolutely.”
She looked at him for a second, unconvinced but then got off of him. “We should go to dinner.”
He pulled her wrist and she fell back scared and confused. “I’m hungry, but it isn’t food I want.” He told her, moving in for a kiss.
She giggled in between his kisses, “That’s too bad, because it’s dinner time, not happy time.” She started to rise from him but he had her deadlocked down. “Drac...o...please...”
“Ask me three times.” He murmured.
Hermione laughed. “Please?”
“Uh-uh.” He shook his head while kissing her softer.
“Ple..ease?” she asked her again, her breath ragged.
“Uh-uh.” He said, kissing her slower. His hands went from her face, pressing firmly against the sides of her body.
There was a pattern to it all but when he expected her to say ‘please’ next, she didn’t.
“Please?” he asked her, seeing if she forgot.
“Uh-uh!” she breathed and suddenly she rose but only to place one leg on each side of him. Draco smiled, he always felt like giving himself a pat on the back at this point. She was so much stronger than him but once he got down to it, she seemed almost drugged. He loved it when she seemed completely gone and was the one begging for the kisses. He’d seen her worse but even now, by her short and sharp breathes, he could tell she was losing it.
Hermione and Draco’s eyes shot open. They didn’t have to figure out who it was, there was only one other English speaking person they knew here - Blaise. Hermione got off of Draco as soon as she could and sat on the couch beside the chair, facing away from them and wiping her lips.
Draco gave him a murderous look and got one of disgust in return, before Blaise turned and left the room. Draco clenched his fist, but turned around to put a hand on Hermione’s shoulder but she immediately got up to his touch, and said she was going to get ready for dinner. He heard the water turn on in the bathroom...so as not to hear her spill a tear or two.
Draco punched the couch. Blaise! It didn’t help that Hermione was very self conscious and nervous when it came to being physical and he always worked on trying to get her comfortable. And it didn’t help that Blaise wouldn’t see her like he did. He behaved exactly the way Draco did before, using the same abusive words even. So it definitely didn’t help that he saw Hermione in such a compromising position and commented on it like that. He was fine up until she comes into the picture. She goes out of her way to be nice to him and he goes out of his to be rude and un-accepting.
Blaise still had the chance to go to Hogwarts, but the prospect of being in a house full of traitors or hypocrites was something he’d rather not be a part of. He hated what magical England had suddenly become – muggle loving and shunning of every family close to the Dark Lord. He’d rather go to France with his best friend...even if he was with the Muggle, one Muggle was better than the hundreds at Hogwarts. And he was sure, Draco would get over this little infatuation and get rid of her soon.
But no matter what he did, no matter what his closest friend in the world told him, Draco would not let go of Hermione. He didn’t know what it is this Muggle girl had promised him but he wouldn’t budge. He wished Draco would just get to sleeping with her and get bored already like he always does. She was always nice to Blaise, like he was supposed to start liking her too. Why? She was a Muggle, one part of the three he had utter disdain for, and quite recently has stolen his old best friend. So why should Blaise accept her?
Two minutes later, Hermione was out of the bathroom, having fixed her hair and washed her face, ready for dinner. They walked together, hand in hand, three times a day, every day for their meals. Much like Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, had a large hall for meals, except unlike Hogwarts, the rectangular shape of the hall was rotated – the hall was wider than it was long. This was because they did not have a ‘House System’ but were seated according to their year in school. So there were seven tables across the wide room. And of course, the other difference from Hogwarts would be that the pupils were all girls in blue.
Hermione and Draco made their way to the end of the seventh year table, where they always sat. They still were an isolated three here, what with the language barrier and of course the headlines they came with months ago, however, they also weren’t stared at constantly at this point – the students were used to them. They stuck out like a sore thumb but this was heaven compared to what Hogwarts might have been.
Blaise was already sitting there, reading like he usually did. The three didn’t exchange any words, like they usually did after little incidents like that. He knew Draco would speak to him later and he would roll his eyes, like he always did.
The headmaster to the school was a firm but kind man – a true gentleman. As he made the daily announcements to the school, Hermione smiled, remembering the day he had agreed to house three refugees. He may have lost a little popularity in the Wizarding world but he made it clear that no boy or girl should be denied education if they were not charged or in prison.
She would have continued paying attention to what he was saying, if only Blaise, sitting in a trance-like state, wouldn’t have caught her off. She was confused – what was he staring at? She would have let it go because any minute now he’d turn to her and snap, “What are you looking at?”
But he didn’t. He didn’t notice her watching him. It seemed as though she could snap her fingers in front of him and he wouldn’t blink. At this point, she just had to follow his eyes to what it is that had stolen his senses completely.
At first, she just looked left and right – there was nothing but a group of girls. She straightened up to see if it was something behind them but it was just a wall. She started again, from his eyes, following a straight line of vision. She landed on the same spot again – the girls. The turkey roast in front of them wasn’t something...
WAIT. WHAT? GIRLS? SORRY?
Hermione blinked a couple hundred times and her mouth had already dropped. She found it very hard to sit still now. She looked restless and rubbed her head like a headache was starting. After several attempts to silently calm herself down, she thought.
Why should this be surprising? Blaise was definitely into the female kind of humans...Hermione thought...
Well, he owned ‘normal’ kinds of magazines for a boy of 17, and Draco didn’t say otherwise. And Draco himself was enough said – unfortunately, he wouldn’t associate with Blaise if he was switching tracks. But it took Hermione a little bit of time ... mostly because she had to see if it was the giggling group that was his fancy or one in particular.
She sat upright, following his eyes even more cautiously then before. She couldn’t narrow it down, there were too many to deduce from. Hermione scratched her chin. She tried again and again, but each time she landed on another girl. She placed her chin on her palm, about to conclude that the entire group of attractive French girls was what interested him...but that was until one of them looked up to him.
Hermione gasped; startled she knocked the juice in front of her.
If it wasn’t the sound of the cup hitting the table, it was definitely the gasp that awoke Blaise. As the juice raced across the table towards him, he quickly grabbed a napkin and barricaded it. He threw her a dirty look, “Don’t they teach you table manners where you’re from?”
Draco was also stopping the juice from running, but he shot Blaise a tight jaw, warning him. “Are you alright?” He asked Hermione concerned.
“Yes, fine. Thanks.” She said, still staring at Blaise. Draco was confused but he couldn’t detect anything. Blaise returned a ‘what’s the matter with you?’ look.
Hermione finally looked away, towards the Headmaster again. She might have been looking at him but she could not catch a thing he was saying. Usually Hermione would counter Blaise with something just as nasty but she knew it came with an extra pinch of salt because he was disturbed from ‘his view.’ She giggled slightly. Blaise Zabini can find things, other than himself, important...who would have known.
She was done with Blaise – she’d established that there was something...now for this girl. Hermione sneaked her eye to the table again. All the girls were now quiet, listening to the announcements. It didn’t take Hermione a second to spot her again. Half the reason why she gasped so dramatically was because this wasn’t someone you saw every day. In thinking that, she couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t seen this girl before. Sure, every other girl in here looked like they were made to grace the Italian Vogue cover, but she...those features were too sharp to let slip by.
The first thing Hermione thought of was Snow White. That same ebony hair, that same pale skin, those red lips narrated...they struck each other out, highlighted each other. But in this case, Snow White met Marilyn Monroe. There were bits of girly innocence but by the way she was carelessly twisting a strand of her hair, Hermione guessed she knew very well how captivating she was to Blaise. She must have been aware of the effect she has on people, quite familiar with the first ‘oh my God, you’re absolutely gorgeous’ reactions. She was a siren and she knew it.
She didn’t have to stand up to let Hermione know she was tall, or walked with her shoulders back. At this point, anything else would be a shame. She just had to be perfect. Hermione saw her look up to Blaise. When she received nothing in return, as he was now actually listening to the Headmaster, she began to look away but instead locked eyes with Hermione. Her smile disappeared. She quickly looked away, changed her entire sitting position to facing the Headmaster now.
Hermione wanted to burst out laughing. Caught! She could see the red in her cheeks even from her seat. When the applauses started, Draco turned to her and kissed her cheek, ready to start dinner. Hermione leaned to the side and once again, saw the girl looking...at all three of them this time. Hermione smiled. She and Blaise were going to have fun from now on.
During dinner, Hermione was more than happy to concentrate on nothing and enjoy useless talk with Draco, as they’d have to return to studying again in their room right after. It always felt like they’d eat just so they could keep themselves from the books, with Blaise packing on even when he clearly couldn’t fit one more morsel. But today was different; he suddenly decided he was done way ahead of the other two. “Alright, let’s go.”
“Hold on a bit, we have time.” Draco responded surprised.
“Eat too much and you’ll fall asleep soon.” Blaise advised.
“Says the person who usually won’t budge until he’s horked down the last piece of turkey.” Hermione said, refusing to move just because he felt like leaving early tonight.
“Well, I can clearly take it; can you say the same with that double chin?” Blaise shot, skipping off.
Hermione stopped at his comment and Draco closed his eyes...oh boy. Draco couldn’t say anything to him because he was halfway to the door, so instead he turned to Hermione. She flicked her fork off. With her nose flared, she got up, wiping her mouth and threw down the napkin.
Draco sighed. He stuffed his mouth one last time, wiped up and ran to catch up. When he caught up to her, he kissed her chin. “I’ll have a talk with him.”
“Don’t bother, for the first time he isn’t doing it out of self interest.” She told him.
“...You lost me.” Draco admitted.
Hermione was getting excited now. “I saw a girl look at him!”
“O.K...? It usually isn’t just one.” Draco said.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Right after he looked at her!”
“Blaise looked at a girl?” Draco laughed.
“More like stared!”
“I’m sure you’re mistaken. I’ve known Blaise all my life and he wasn’t interested in girls to even hate them, let alone like them.” Draco explained.
“I know that too, but I swear to you I could’ve snapped my fingers in front of him and he wouldn’t have known.” Hermione was saying, while they walked. Somewhere in her sentence she saw the girl a few meters ahead of them.
“Love, I’m sure if it was something worth mentioning he’d tell-.” Draco tried.
“He’s still looking at her!” Hermione pointed.
And he was. Blaise was walking ahead of them, looking not in front of him but a little to the side...at a group of girls. He had no idea how foolish he looked, walking as though he was being pulled. For someone who walks like he owns the ground, this was a bit concerning.
Draco’s forehead creased completely at the scene. “Which one?”
Hermione smiled wide. “Two from the end, with the dark hair.”
They had to walk faster and to the side to catch a glimpse of this girl. Now, Draco and Hermione were the odd ones, walking back and forth. All the other girls would look back to see Blaise, turn back to whisper in her ears and giggle. Draco and Hermione hadn’t managed a proper glimpse until she turned her head slightly to see what her friends were saying. She saw Blaise and Draco saw her.
He stopped on his tracks.
“See!” Hermione squealed. “She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?”
The girl smiled at Blaise, playing with him even more. She didn’t seem giggly like her friends or scared that he was basically following her senselessly. She enjoyed this. Her smile was appreciative but sexy and she looked him dead in the eyes. She didn’t want to move them but she sensed someone else looking at her. She was supposed to shift for just a second, but when she saw those grey eyes digging into her all her confidence drained and there was a look of panic. She quickly turned around, whispered something onto her friend’s ear and they quickened their pace.
Hermione saw Blaise run his fingers through his hair, look down and smile. He turned the corner for their dorms. Hermione couldn’t believe all this. He was like a smitten puppy. She reached the corner too and was about to follow but she noticed Draco wasn’t beside her. She looked back and he was looking straight past her, walking slowly.
“Everything alright, love?” Hermione asked.
He finally looked at her. “Yeah, fine. I just have to get something from the library. So I’ll see you in a bit?” He was already starting past her.
“Alright, see you!” She yelled after his run.
An hour had passed. Hermione dropped her quill and stretched in her seat. She was happy with how much she had got done. Looking at the clock again, she decided to go find Draco...probably struggling to find that textbook. She simply got up, put on a sweater and walked out the door. Blaise was sitting not too far from her, reading up, but he wouldn’t know if she walked in or out.
Reaching there, she had no idea where to look for him. This library was definitely not as big as the maze Hogwarts had but it was definitely respectable. She didn’t know where to start; he didn’t tell her what textbook it was he was looking for. However, she didn’t rush; she was enjoying the smells of the library and sight of filled shelves after shelves. She could stay here forever. She walked up the stairs, onto the next level but seeing as there were many students studying (talking), she decided to go on. The noise didn’t reduce until she was on the 8th floor.
There were still two voices she could hear but she guessed as she dissolved into the shelves, she wouldn’t hear them. She walked slowly, in and out the shelves, feeling the old books with her finger tips. Her peace was still being disturbed by those mumblings and she didn’t know which way to go to leave it. Every step she took seemed to crystallize the voices and words. She was about to give up and move onto another floor when she heard one word. One English word. She knew of herself and two other people who knew English in an all-French school.
“I haven’t told anybody!” she cried painfully. “Nobody knows.”
“I still can’t let you do this, B.” He said sadly. “There’s too much at risk. If anyone found out, your life would be over. I can’t see you like that.”
“Alright!” she wiped her tears, “I won’t do it anymore. But I want to see you here once a week. I miss you...it’s so hard for me to not cry when I see you. I just want you to be around and tell me it’s going to be O.K like you used to.”
He sighed. “You know I can’t. If they see us, they’ll eventually find out. I’m sorry I came into your life again but the years almost over and I’ll be gone. You’ll never see me again and you can finally put everything to rest.” His voice was cracking through the last sentence.
The girl began crying very sorrowfully, repeating, “You don’t love me anymore. You forgot me.”
He suddenly looked broken and kissed her forehead. While she kept her head on his lap and hid her face in his stomach, he stayed bent down and said to her, “I’ll never forget you. I know how you feel; I want to be around you. I want to fix you and take care of you. And I love you, that’s why I have to do this. But you need to-.”
There was a sound. The girl rolled around and he looked up. Hermione stood breathing with difficultly, watching her boyfriend sit on the floor, running his hands through the dark hair sprawled on his lap belonging to her.
“’mione...” Draco tried.
She shook her head and her tears were beginning.
But it was too late, her trembling had begun. She ran. As Draco and the girl got to their feet, Hermione was already near the stairs. Draco broke into a sprint at first chance, while the girl started pacing. “Merde!” she cried. “I’m sorry, Draco...I didn’t mean to.” She began sobbing into her palms.
Draco was being torn apart. Behind and in front of him were two hearts he’d just broken. He’d overcome a lot in his life but all he could see in front of his eyes were Hermione’s shock and hurt, and the desperation standing behind him. He didn’t how to make this right, or what to say to make this right. What scared him the most was that there was no way to make this right, all he could say was that it wasn’t what it looked like. And he knew at this point, she was about to leave him.
When he reached their dorm, Blaise was standing and he quickly looked at him. “What’s wrong with her?” He asked. It seemed like the one time Hermione had gotten Blaise to give a damn about her was when she ran into the room crying her heart out.
Draco didn’t answer him. He instead passed the room and up the stairs to Hermione and his room. Blaise didn’t just stand there. He’d seen an expression on his friend that he’d never seen in the fourteen years he’d known Draco. This scene was everything he wanted – he knew something went wrong. So he had no idea why he was following Draco up to their room. He didn’t know why he was concerned.
Blaise saw Draco say Hermione’s name and approach her to stop her from packing her bags but within a second, he flew back and hit the wall. Hermione was standing with a wand.
Her face was red and her t-shirt was drenched in nothing but tears. She looked absolutely destroyed. Blaise was wide eyed at Hermione. Her expression turned from raged anger to absolute sadness and breakdown.
“Where do I go?” she cried. “Where do I go? WHERE DO I GO NOW?”
Draco stayed where he fell, his head in his palms.
Hermione couldn’t even stand, she felt like the ground was pulled from under her. “I feel so stupid. I meant it all...” she whispered, she was losing her voice. “I just assumed we’re in it forever. I assumed I could get that much security! I just thought...” she tried to see through the tears, blinking and biting her lip as if she made a mistake.
Draco still didn’t say anything.
“Did you forget everything?” she asked desperately.
She was still holding her wand up and Blaise was edging towards it. “Just pass it here, alright?”
Hermione closed her eyes at his voice, registering for the first time that he was in the room. Her tears effortlessly falling. “Don’t fall for it, Blaise...she’s fooling you.”
“No!” Draco shouted, suddenly springing from his fall and facing Blaise. “She wouldn’t do that, she has true feelings for you.”
“Wait, you two know her?” Blaise asked anxiously just as Hermione was breaking down to another cry and turning to continue packing.
But Draco ignored him. “Hermione, listen...”
“SO TELL ME, DRACO!” She cried. “Why is the first thing you’ve said defending her and not your actions?!”
Draco stood broken. “Just trust me?”
"Trust you?” she repeated incredulously. “WHO IS SHE? HOW DO YOU KNOW HER?” She almost begged to know.
“I’m sorry...” he whispered.
Hermione could not believe her ears. At that point she had numbed to her toes. She had no more scream in her...no more fight. She had no one to fight with since he surrendered so easily. She merely turned around and resumed packing.
Draco remained still, no emotion on his face. Blaise watched him stare at the ground, blinking. He had never seen Draco like this, nor imagined that he would let these precious moments slip by if the day came. But he did. Quiet, with shallow breathing, he stood in a daze, like he was thinking of a protracted plan. At this point even Hermione had stopped crying. All that could be heard were occasional sniffs and belongings stashed into two bags.
Even as she zipped her bags, his face was a sad stone. Blaise’s eyes were shooting back and forth like in a tennis match; every second seemed surreal to him. He wanted to stop Hermione; he wanted to shake some sense into his best friend because he seemed to not think right at the moment. He wanted to do something because he had never seen a more destined thing than the two of them!
Hermione walked by in between them with her bags in hand. Blaise saw the expectancy in her face for Draco to say something. Anything! But he never did and the tears were starting again.
He had seen enough! He didn’t know what was going on, but he couldn’t just stand by this. He knew both of them would regret their actions once she walked out that door. Blaise opened his mouth to speak out.
“Her name is Bianca Evon. The youngest person in the world to bear the Dark Mark.”
Hermione’s bags fell to the ground.
A/N: Woweeeeeee. I am a terrible person indeed. It’s safe to say never listen to my promises because I’m probably the most unreliable author you know. I won’t mind of you send me some tough love this time lol...I think I earned it. I want to say I will try to not let this happen again but chances are you won’t believe me lol and that’s fine.
I hope you guys enjoyed it. Life sometimes gets overwhelming for me and sometimes I do feel like not continuing but you guys keep me here. I read everything you send me. I promise you sincerely that much. I will (or already have) answer(ed) them. Even today, years after the first chapter, I am at a loss for words when it comes to your kindness. I still can’t believe I don’t have one angry reader about the grammar, punctuation or my tardiness lol.
This part won’t be of much interest to anyone but this chapter was dedicated to someone extremely special in my life. Someone who inspires (or will inspire) a lot (or some) of Draco and Bianca’s friendship and how there can be this one person, other than your girlfriend/boyfriend/lover/spouse with whom you share an unforgettable connection...
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