[I don't own anything apart from a few OC's and the plot is all mine. But everything else you recognize is JK Rowlings. Enjoy and I'll see you down at the A/N! :)]
I walked down the stairs that led to the small kitchen and strode directly up to the fridge to get myself something to drink. It felt different this time. Being home, I mean. During the Christmas holidays, I had been so nervous about what Mum and Dad would think about Draco that I had hardly been able to think about anything but that. This time, it was nothing like that this time around, it was just natural. Everything came natural, from my parents picking us up at Kings Cross station to Dad and Draco joking and walking off on their own to talk about guitars.
Mum walked in to the kitchen while humming on an old classic Muggle song. She seemed very happy, glowing really. She smiled kindly at me as she walked past me to check on the food that she was making. She seemed delighted as she stirred the sauce.
“Hermione, would you mind tasting this?” said Mum and held out a spoon for me to take. “Is it too salt?” I closed my lips over the spoon, and shook my head. It wasn’t too salt at all, but it was hot. Mum seemed to notice that and hurried to make me a glass of water.
“Thanks,” I smiled at her when I had finished drinking. “So, you seem happy. Something happened?”
“Oh, do I? Nothing special has happened, I’m just happy that Grandma is better, I suppose. I also got a letter from Draco’s mother the other day; we’ll meet up later this week. You were going to Greece again, right?”
“Yeah, we’re thinking about going to Greece, but Amber is from France, so we might go there instead. I don’t really mind, either of them will be fun. Why?” I sat down by the table and Mum followed my lead. I was glad to be home, even if it was just for one day. We’d Amber and Blaise would come here tomorrow and then we’d Apparate to the Malfoy Manor for Easter dinner with Narcissa and Lucius.
“That sounds like fun, sweetheart. Who is Amber?”
“Oh, Amber Lambetti is Blaise’s girlfriend. Blaise is Draco’s best friend. She’s two years younger than us, and yeah. Her family has a flat in Paris, which is supposedly huge and gorgeous. And I’ve never been to Paris. Why?” I asked again and furrowed my eyes a bit.
“Just curious!” she laughed and held up her hands in surrender. “You know, I’m not the only one who seems happy,” she put her hand on my back and rubbed a bit, “I suppose that you and Draco are still going strong?
“Yes,” I replied and looked over my shoulder to see if Draco and Dad had returned from the basement where they were playing guitar, but they hadn't. “We wouldn't both be here if we weren't still going strong, Mum.”
“I suppose you're right,” she smiled kindly. “You have no idea how happy it makes me to see you like this. So...”
“Happy,” I finished her sentence and looked down at my hands. It felt weird talking to Mum, different. Well, it always did when I came home from Hogwarts. After all, I had spent most of my days these past eight years there.
I had actually been there more than I had been home, of course it felt a bit strange the first couple of hours. It would go away after a while, I knew that. But as always, I felt guilty for wishing that I was back at Hogwarts. In one way, this was home, but in another way – I felt out of place here. Mum said my name suddenly and that made me snap out of my thoughts and look up at her to find her standing. She asked me if I would mind going to get Dad and Draco, and of course I didn't mind. I made my way out of the kitchen and then I took the three steps that were needed until I reached the door that would lead me down to the bottom floor.
I opened it and looked down, and a shivered. Not out of fear, I think, more out of excitement. I had always liked that part of our house and I had spent endless hours there as a child. The bottom floor had two rooms – a main room, and then there was a door that led to a smaller room, the so called 'guitar room'. Now, the main room on the bottom floor have never had any light. It was always pitch black there, and I couldn't for all in the world figure out why my parents had never bothered to buy a lamp!
Despite the room being so hard, I knew where to walk and how to avoid the boxes that Dad had put there. When I had been a kid, he used to rearrange the room now and then so that I wouldn't know where to put my feet and get confused. He couldn't figure out how it was that I could walk around there as if nothing was out of order – and to me it wasn't.
Everytime he had done so, my magic had put everything back in order for whatever reason. It was one of the many things that had happened when I had been a child, of course I had always been able to do things, things that a 'normal' child couldn't. So, I used to go down here whenever I had found myself doing something out of the ordinary and I would sit here and repeat it, trying to learn to control it, I hadn't been very successful, though. The only thing that I had actually managed to do perfectly was to make a guitar play itself. I guessed that I had always wanted to learn how to perfect the things that I was able to do, I wanted to be able to control it.
When I learned that I was a witch, I didn't have to stay on the bottom floor to perfect my magic, I had Hogwarts. Even when I was there, I wanted to perfect the things I did, and I wanted to improve. Of course I had wanted to be the best witch I could, especially since I was a Muggleborn. I felt the need to show everyone that it didn't matter that I wasn't born in a wizarding family – and I wanted to impress those who were. That had just always been me, I couldn't settle for 'good' – I wanted to be the 'best'.
I let out a silent laugh as I made my way to the guitar room. If only those who called me the brightest witch of our age could've seen me back in the day when I sat in the darkened room trying to make guitars play themselves, with my bushy hair and frustrated cries. I shook my head and smiled as I reached the door. That's funny, I thought, I don't hear any music.
Curiosity got the best of me like it had so many times before, and I pressed my hear against the door. I had never felt more like Blaise in my whole life. I couldn't really make out any words, but I was could tell that they were talking seriously. I picked up on the tone, and I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. As I tried to press closer to the door, I realized that I wouldn't be able to make out any words at all, so I gave up. A soft knock was heard on the door as my knuckled came in contact with it and I heard a chair being moved before I opened the door to look inside. Dad was looking at me, but Draco was staring at Dad for a few seconds with gritted teeth before he, too, looked at me.
Dad walked past me quickly as I mumbled that dinner was ready, but Draco slowed down as he came close to me and kissed my forehead sweetly. I frowned and as he headed for the stairs. I grabbed his arm and looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“What was that about?” My voice was stern and he sighed.
“Nothing,” he said and kept his voice so soft and smooth that I could have given in and kissed him just by the sound of it. But I didn’t, I just kept looking at him and he sighed once more, “Later, okay?”
I nodded and then we made our way up to have dinner. Mum and Dad were already sitting by the table as we sat down opposite of them. More than once during dinner I found Dad looking at Draco as if he was trying to figure something out, however, Draco acted as if he didn’t notice a thing. I knew that he noticed, though. Draco was the kind of person who noticed everything, that was just how he was and there was no way that he couldn’t notice something as obvious as that. But as long as he could ignore it, I figured that I could as well.
After dinner, I helped Mum with the dishes and then I made some tea for me and Draco and I made some coffee for Mum, Dad and the awaited Kristy and Gran. I wasn’t thrilled about Kristy coming over and neither was Draco, obviously, but we were both looking forward to seeing Grandma Jean again. It had really been too long since I had seen her.
As I made my way over to Draco who was sitting on the sofa, looking exhausted, I tried my hardest not to spill any tea. I took a sip from it before I sat it down on the small table in front of the sofa before I popped myself down next to him.
“Am I supposed to pretend that I didn’t notice the way Dad was looking at you?” I asked as I leaned my head against his shoulder and I closed my eyes as his fingers intertwined with mine.
“Please, do. I’ll… You’ll know what it is when we’re at the Manor, okay? I promise.”
“Is it bad?” I asked in a small voice, knowing that anything that had him this quite was bad. “Is it Pansy?”
“I told you, you’ll know at the Manor. Please, love, just don’t think about it at the moment, okay?” he pressed his lips against the top of my head and I considered pressing the topic, but I decided to leave it be. What good would it do, anyways? He obviously wasn’t going to tell me. I nodded and titled my head up to look at him.
He didn’t look as if something serious was going on, though he did look as if he was haunted by something. Something he just wished to run away from, but couldn’t. I, like so many times before, got completely lost in his steely grey eyes. How was it possible for a pair of eyes to hold such depth? It seemed impossible and I was surprised every single time as I looked in to those eyes. Draco’s lips curved up in the beginning of a smile and I asked him what he was smiling at.
“You look a bit like a lovesick puppy,” he said before he lifted his arms to protect himself as I attacked him and tried to tickle him. I did not look like a lovesick puppy. “I surrender!”
I eased back then and stuck my tongue out at him, not at all caring about the childish behaviour. It was something that I knew that he found quite annoying, but at the same time quite cute. He sent me a small glare, not an all too serious one, and honestly, he just looked cute when he glared like that from behind the hair that hung in his face.
Instead of coming up with something witty to say to him, I just leaned in and pressed my lips against his. I pretty much melted in to his embrace as his arms came around my body and held me tightly as he kissed me back fiercely. So many months together and the feeling I got when we kissed hadn’t changed at all. One of Draco’s hands travelled up to grasp my hair to pull me closer to him. However in that very second, we were interrupted by a soft, cheerful chuckle. We both froze, as we both seemed to have forgotten completely where we were. As I looked to my right, my face became instantly red. I was staring right in to Grandma Jean’s eyes.
She looked the same; her hair was in soft, long, silver curls and I had always admired her for not cutting it off like so many others in her age did. She still had her long hair and it suited her. When she had been my age, she had had the same kind of hair as I had – the bushy, brown hair. Hers had had some red in it, though, something that I didn’t have. Mine was just boring.
She was wearing a light blue blouse and some white trousers. Nothing special, but still – it looked very good on her. She wasn’t very thin, but she wasn’t big either. She was somewhere in between. She had on a pair of way-too-big glasses which made her face look oh-so-small. She had light brown eyes, and back in the day her eyes had been a lot darker, but the colour had faded with age as she liked to put it. She wasn’t a big fan of ageing, no. She wanted to be twenty forever, she did.
“My, my, Hermione. You’ve grown, again!” she smiled and I thanked God that she wasn’t going to make a remark on what she had just seen, though I wouldn’t have been surprised. “And you must be the young man I’ve been hearing so much about.”
Draco stood up quickly to introduce himself, Gran seemed pleasantly shocked that he had such nice manners, something that most Muggle boys his age lacked. I had never been more grateful that Lucius had raised Draco to be so polite – well, towards some, at least.
Draco sure did know how to impress an old lady like Gran and he gave her compliments and was being an overall gentleman. He even made her blush by saying so many nice things, and I rolled my eyes when Gran wasn’t looking.
As Draco sat down again, he let his hand close around mine and I glanced at him to see him smile before I looked over at Gran who was also smiling. Yup, she seemed to approve.
Kristy, however, showed her dislike towards both Draco and I as soon as she walked through the doors. To be hated for being a wizard was something completely new to Draco and it showed. He was sending her constant glares as she made some snide remarks. I knew that he wanted nothing but to stand up and point his wand at her throat. Not that I would’ve stopped him. But I don’t think my parents would have been very happy with him if he did. Grandma Jean gave Kristy a pointed look and she gritted her teeth to stop herself from saying something rude.
Mum walked in to the room with some biscuits and Dad followed, carrying the pot of coffee. They were both smiling, as if they were terribly happy to have us all gathered there. If only they could feel the tension that hung in the air. The tension between Draco and Kristy, that is.
“So, Hermione, how’s school?”
Grandma Jean knew everything about Hogwarts, and she was interested in it, too. Everytime I was home over some holidays, she asked me to tell her about it. I think she sometimes wished that she’d been a witch, too. I couldn’t blame her, who wouldn’t want to be?
She had a little bit of insight on the war, I had told her some. Not all of it, naturally, that would’ve been a bit overwhelming for her. But it had felt natural to talk to her about it, knowing that she'd never judge or show dislike towards me. She'd been there for me, a bit. I often wished that I could've told her more, but I just never did. And it was better that way, I told myself.
“It’s really good, we’re pretty much back to how it used to be in terms of paying attention and going to classes. Now, we’re just studying for our N.E.W.T’s- eh, a big test of sorts.”
“Oh, is it hard?” Grandma Jean leaned forward, interest shining in her old eyes. I let out a small laugh, it even surprised me that I did so – I just got so happy that she was still alive.
“I guess it’s a bit hard,” I said and shook my head, “But we’ve studied hard and I think it’ll pay off.”
Draco couldn’t help but to let out a laugh which was mixed with a snort, “Oh, please, Hermione. We both know that you’ll do great. You always do.” He then looked at my mother and she was smiling widely at him.
“Yes, last time they were here, Draco informed us that the people in the wizarding world call Hermione the brightest witch of her age.”
The blush was a fact, and I hushed my mother, but it was too late, since Grandma Jean had already begun to tell me how proud she was. If I knew her correctly, she would keep on doing so for the next ten minutes - something that seemed to amuse Draco to no end. It didn’t take long until he had jumped in to a conversation with Gran about Quidditch, he taught her all about it and told her that I played.
They talked to each other a lot, actually, and it was nice to see how relaxed they were with each other. I wasn’t surprised that Draco and Kristy didn’t get along, it was to be expected. Nobody could get along with her, not even the man she’d been married too. They had divorced now, though. Understandable, wasn’t it? I was amazed that he had lasted as long as he had without going mental.
I walked out to the kitchen to get some more tea after a while, and I didn’t notice that anyone had followed me until Kristy appeared by my side.
“How could you think of brining that boy back here when you know what Mum has been through?” she hissed at me as she took the tea pot from me and put it back down on the table. I spun around as fast as I could and locked my eyes on hers with a hard glare. She raised one perfectly shaped eyebrow to mock my silence. My hand reached for my wand but I just held my hand on it - that was enough to make her back up. “You wouldn’t.”
“How dare you?” I spoke in a deadly tone, even I thought so. It kind of reminded me of how Draco sounded when he was angry. “What does it matter if Draco is here? They get along fine, and it’s not like he’s going to give her a heart attack!”
“If you had been normal, then you would have thought twice before inviting another one of your kind here.”
“My kind?” I let out a small, humourless laugh. “My kind? You talk about us as if we’re not human, which we are. I’ve met hundreds of magical people who’ve all been more human than you are. Now, excuse me, I find it a lot more important to be out there than to stand here and listen to your stupidity.”
That was the most eventful thing that happened that day.
Grandma Jean decided to sleep in the guest room while Kristy got out of our house as fast as she possibly could. And as soon as she was out, I could feel how everything just seemed to lighten up, everyone got in a better mood. Draco and I the most, though. But I noticed that even Mum seemed more relaxed as she went. They did have a pretty good relationship, or well, they used to have. Then I happened. Kristy just couldn’t deal with anything that she didn’t understand and she loved to be in the centre of attention – I had apparently pushed her out of the spotlight with my magical abilities, or so Gran had told me.
We all stayed up for quite some time, though. It was fun, to talk to Gran and my parents. Even Draco had a good time with the Muggles, I could tell. He was still amazed by our TV and that was something that Mum found very amusing. I don't think she really understood how it was that he had never seen a TV in his life. Something that was so normal to her, was something completely different to him.
It wasn't until I almost fell asleep on Draco's shoulder that we decided to go up to my room to get some sleep. We said goodnight to everyone before I hugged Grandma Jean and then we headed upstairs.
My room was dimly lit, making it look even warmer than usual. The brown, down-to-earth colours made me feel relaxed as it was so different from the rest of the house. Whereas the other rooms(with exception for the kitchen) all looked open and light, my room seemed quite small and a bit darker.
The walk up there had made me less tired, so as Draco laid down on the bed – I made my way over to grab a book. I ended up with the book that Cynthia, the shop owner, had given me as a Christmas present. I hadn't had time to really look through it. I usually wasn't interested in reading about Muggles take on magic, but I was sure that there was going to be something interesting in the book. It couldn't be that bad, could it?
I walked over to the bed and laid down next to Draco, who was looking at me curiuously.
“Is that the book that you got for Christmas?” he asked, “Can I gave a look?”
I shrugged and handed it over to him. His eyes narrowed as he read through it and I rolled my eyes at him. Obviously he had never read about how Muggles viewed magical creatures and wizards. Then again, I hadn't even opened the book, so I wasn't completely sure what it was about, but I guessed it was about a witch hunt or something like that – the cover indicated it.
“Silly, isn't it?” I said and closed my eyes. I awaited him to start chuckling and agree, but that wasn't what happened.
“Uh... have you read this?”
I opened my eyes at the tone of his voice, as serious as it was curious. “No?”
“This is a very rare book, Hermione. It's definitely not some Muggle nonsense. It's about French wizarding families and their traditions.”
“What? It's not just fiction?” I leaned closer to have a look and he was indeed right. He shook his head and turned the page.
“Oh, look. There's the Lambetti family tree. That's Amber right there.”
I nodded and leaned even closer, to study the family tree. I couldn't believe that I had come across such a rare book. Thank god for the bookworm inside of me. We spent the next hour or so looking through the book. It was very interesting, reading about famous French witches, wizards and families, and we agreed to to bring this book back to the Manor the next day so that Amber would be able to take her time looking through it.
Deciding that it was time to sleep, Draco pulled the dark brown covers over us and snaked his arm around my waist as he kissed my neck. I couldn't decide if I thought that it felt beyond nice or if it tickled. But I did know that I liked it. I whispered that I loved him and my heart skipped a beat(as it did whenever he said those words) when he mumbled softly in my ear that he loved me, too.
Morning came quickly and outside – it was raining. No surprise there, eh? Didn't it just rain all the time? Depressing, really. But it would have been a nice morning anyway, had I not just woken up from a horrible nightmare. It wasn't unusual that I dreamt about finding the people closest to me dead, but I hadn't dreamt about finding Draco dead – until now. I closed my eyes as the dream played over and over in my head.
I'd been at Hogwarts and it'd been during the war. We'd been... The're'd been a fire... The fire had killed him. I'd tried to save him, I really had. But it was too late when I reached him and he took his last breath as I held him in my arms. There'd been screams, more horrible than Rowle's daughters screams. I'd tried to save him, but I hadn't been fast enough. I'd let him down. I'd let him die.
I rolled over and cuddles up to him, glad that I could hear his heart beat. Honestly, would the nightmares ever stop? They drained me from all my energy and I was so fed up with it. I just wanted it to be over, I wanted closure of some sort. The doorbell rang downstairs in that very second and Draco sat straight up - looking terrified.
“It's just the doorbell, Draco,” I said to calm him down. I'm not sure if it was working but then he groaned and fell back on the pillow.
“It's probably just...” he trailed off to sigh, “Blaise.”
“Now? It's...” I realized that I had no idea what time it was, but I knew that it wasn't more than 8. “It's early!”
“It's Blaise,” Draco shrugged and then he chuckled. He was probably thinking about something that Blaise had once said or done, he did that a lot. Laughed at memories, which made me wish that I had been a bigger part of his past. That he'd sometime laugh at a memory that we shared. But our past, not including the past couple of months, weren't very funny, I guess. “I might've told him that he should be here early, but I didn't think that he'd take me quite this literally. But then again, there was this one time-”
“Hermione!” Mum shouted tiredly from downstairs, interrupting Draco, “You've got a guest!”
A guest? Singular? I furrowed my eyebrows.
“Coming!” I shouted back and then I got out of the bed and looked down at myself, I had apparently slept in my clothes. But the jeans and t-shirt would work until I had time to take a shower and change. It wasn't as if I wanted to Apparate to Malfoy Manor in jeans and a t-shirt. I'm sure Lucius wouldn't be so pleased by that. Draco stood up behind me and I spun around to look at him. He looked beyond tired with his blonde, soft hair standing in every direction. He had slept in his clothes, too. Somehow, he made messy look good. Definitely a hot mess.
We made our way down the stairs slowly, too tired to move any faster. As we reached the main floor of the house, Mum looked at us both. She muttered something about how rude some people were for ringing the doorbell at 7:30. She didn't seem all that happy as she closed the bathrobe further and made her way over to the kitchen – to get some coffee.
“And those two,” she muttered to herself, “wouldn't kill them to leave each others side every now and them. You'd think that they were glued together.”
Draco and I looked at each other for about five seconds before we broke down in laughter at her words. Clearly she wasn't a morning person any longer.
I walked up to the door, which Mum had closed again for whatever reason, and opened it. On the other side of the door stood a very smiling Blaise. I opened my mouth to ask him what the heck he was doing here so early, but I was interrupted as he attacked me with a hug that made me feel crushed. I hugged him back, and then he eased back and grinned.
“You're not gonna fall in love with me or anything now , are you?” I rolled my eyes at his words and he ruffled my hair and laughed. Then he gave Draco a very macho, subtle greeting and I rolled my eyes once more.
Blaise then ordered us to give him a tour of the house.
Once I'd showed him around the house, the three of us walked in to the kitchen were Mum was sitting, drinking her beloved coffee.
Blaise, who was far less gentlemanly than Draco, nodded at her and smiled. “Hey, I'm Blaise. Blaise Zabini. Hermione and Draco's best friend. I take it that you're Ally, right?”
Mums face was priceless, surprised yet amused. I could tell that she liked him already. “Yes, I'm Ally.”
Draco groaned and covered his face in his hands as Blaise winked at my Mum. Perfect beginning of the day.
We didn't go to the Manor until after lunch, which was apparently what Amber thought was 'early', Draco didn't even try to hide his annoyance with her when she came – in his opinion – late. However, Mum absolutely adored Amber – and I knew that she liked Blaise just as much. It had been a long time since I'd seen her laugh that hard at someone. But that was just his thing, he was the funny guy. So, after lunch we said goodbye to my parents and my grandmother and took off to the Malfoy Manor.
At the Manor things were the same. The portraits all looked at me with disgust, I stared them down. Draco snapped at them. Only this time when we entered, Narcissa came to greet us with hugs. I hugged her back tightly, I hadn't been aware that I'd missed her until right then. She smelled really good, like peach and vanilla. Her hair was hanging down her back, looking exceptionally shining, her lips were slightly red and she looked so happy. I guessed that she was thrilled to have us coming over – and of course she was happy that Andromeda was back in her life. The first thing she said to me was thank you. I blushed and said that it was all her, all I'd done was to give her that push she needed to write her.
Lucius came to greet us as well, he looked a big uncomfortable and looked at me and sighed. Instantly I wondered if I'd done something wrong, why else would he be looking at me like that? His dark blue robes looked very expensive and his blonde hair was held back by a black ribbon. He exchanged looks with Draco and sighed once more before he gave short nod.
That nod seemed to be a sign, because Draco took off upstairs as fast as he could and left me staring after him, wondering what was going on. I furrowed my eyebrows as I started to walk after him, only to be stopped as Lucius hand gripped my upper arm as I walked by him. I couldn't help but to hiss in pain, that was a hell of a tight grip just to stop me.
“A word, Miss Granger,” he drawled and started to lead me(more like pulling me)towards his study.
“Hermione,” I corrected in a small voice, and I wasn't sure if he had even heard me. If he had, then he simply ignored me.
As we reached his study, he opened the door by pushing it open with his cane, I stared at the cane with wide eyes. I didn't like this at all. Not. At. All. Once we were inside, he closed the door behind us, let me go, and then with a flick of his wand, the door was locked. I tried to remember how to breathe and I also tried to shake a feeling away – the uncomfortable feeling that came as I thought about the fact that I was locked in a room with Lucius Malfoy. He also put up a Silencing Charm, I guessed that he knew Blaise quite well.
Lucius motioned for me to sit down on one of the big, black leather chairs on one side of table while he went around it to sit down opposite of me. He looked me straight in the eye as he leaned back in his chair. He didn't look very comfortable either. Slowly he put his index finger and his thumb to his nose and closed his eyes. He looked as if he was thinking something over. But I didn't forget the look he had had in his eyes before he closed them. Was it I that had done something wrong?
“My coward of a son...” Lucius began bitterly, and I thought about interrupting him there and telling him that Draco wasn't a coward at all, but his next words made me reconsider. “My coward of a son couldn't bring himself to tell you this himself, so I offered.” Lucius opened his eyes again. “He was afraid that you might, now how was it he put it? Become angry enough to shatter every window in this abnormally large house. I'm very fond of my windows, Miss Granger, so I do hope you can control yourself, act like an adult and just let me handle it.” The last four words were spoken in a different tone, harder - colder.
By now, my mouth had gone dry, so I could only nod to show him that I understood. My heart dropped as he spoke up again.
“It's about Pansy.”
[Hey, you guys! Yay, I updated. But I did update with a spin-off a few days ago, so I hope I made up for the wait a bit with that one and with this chapter. NaNo is however making me eager to write the next chapter, which I think will be out way sooner than this one! :) Also, school isn't going to be a problem for the next couple of weeks, so I've got a lot of time to write, hopefully I'll finish this story in a couple of months. I do believe that it's about 5 or 6 chapters left, more or less. So, anywho. How was this chapter? How was Grandma Jean? Mum & Dad? Draco – Hermione? Lucius? Blaise? I'm eager to hear what you think, so please – leave a review! Thanks - Cathyyy-]