A/N: And here it is! The long awaited chapter 16! The last part took me forever to write. When you read it, you'll probably understand why. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes you feel something.
Everyone keeps asking me how many more chapters this story is going to be. I know there are many of you who don't want to see it end, but all things must come to an end eventually. I foresee about 4 more chapters, no less, but I think I can get everything I want into 4 chapters. But don't worry! I have a Sirius/OC novel planned next, so be looking for that after this story is over!
ALSO: I updated chapter 1, added some stuff, took away other stuff, I think it's better now. It needed some love.
Anyway, you know I love all of you, and thank you so much for your continued reads and reviews! I love your feedback and how much you guys love my story. I write it for you. :)
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Pursing her lips and tapping her fingernails on the granite countertop of the bar in her kitchen, Hermione glared at the Owl post in front of her as she sat on a bar stool. Two weeks. She had been waiting for two weeks and still hadn’t heard anything from any of the jobs she had applied for. Not from St. Mungo’s, not from the Ministry of Magic, not even from Flourish and Blotts. Hermione wanted to bang her head against the smooth stone in front of her. This was driving her mad. Draco, on the other hand, had been contacted a mere week after Graduation by the Ministry of Magic and offered him the position of Director of Finance for the Department of Retrieval of Dark Artifacts (the ministry has never been known for naming their departments anything convenient, nor abbreviating). While the pay wasn’t an astronomical amount, it certainly wasn’t an amount to snuff at and the opportunities for Draco to be promoted were plentiful. Most importantly, Draco seemed happy with the job.
And Hermione was happy for him. She was happy to see him included once more in the magical community and not have his family’s history entirely held against him. She was thrilled when he came home saying that most people he met had congratulated him on their relationship instead of judged him… and yet, she was jealous. Insanely jealous. She bit the inside of her cheek as she thought about her current situation. Sure, she was living in a beautiful flat, had the man of her dreams and amazing friends and not a care in the world… but she was bored. Bored, brown eyes glanced at the clock on the wall. Draco was running late, would be home any minute for the weekend, and would be sure to ask her if she had heard anything. She hadn’t, and she was baffled. She had graduated top of her class for Merlin’s sake! How had she received no job offers yet?
With a frustrated groan, Hermione set her forehead down on the cool granite stone of the counter and closed her eyes. If I have to stay in this flat for another week, I swear I’m going to go crazy.
“Alright, love?” a deep voice asked after a small pop. Hermione mumbled incoherently and Draco couldn’t help but smile. He knew she was frustrated, but he couldn’t help but find it just a bit cute. He knew better than to think she wouldn’t get any job offers. The way he figured, too many places figured she would just turn them down and were offering positions to people that were more likely to accept them. Draco stepped up behind his girlfriend and pulled her curly brown hair off of the back of her neck and laid a gentle kiss there. “Still no word then?”
“No. Nothing. Nothing from anyone,” she replied through gritted teeth.
“You’ll get something,” came Draco’s reassuring voice as he let his fingers work out the tension in her lower neck. “Why don’t we go out tonight? Get you out of the flat for a while. You could use the fresh air.”
“The balcony has fresh air.”
“The balcony doesn’t have your favorite Italian food,” Draco pointed out as he felt Hermione relax. However, he had to stop his gentle massage as she lifted her head.
“You’d take me to Assaggi?” Hermione’s voice betrayed a certain perkiness. She had only been to Assaggi once before right before she had returned to Hogwarts for her seventh year. The expensive Italian restaurant was located near Notting Hill and required a reservation weeks in advance to get in. Her parents had arranged it as a going away present in light of her love of Italian food. She had mentioned the excursion to Draco sometime during a late night conversation while getting to know each other at Hogwarts. She looked back at him to see him nodding. He had remembered. “Draco, we don’t have reservations. We’ll never get in last minute, and I don’t have anything to wear and-“
“Hush,” Draco cut in quickly. “Why do you think I was late?” Hermione opened her mouth to speak but no sound left her lips. “I stopped by there and personally made us reservations. With enough money, you can get whatever you want.”
“I still have nothing to wear,” Hermione mumbled.
“So go buy something.”
“I have no job, Draco. I don’t have enough money for a new dress worthy of Assaggi.”
“Silly girl,” Draco teased her. “I want to buy it for you, a present to cheer you up.”
“No.” Hermione’s voice firmly told him. She didn’t let him object before going on. “You pay for everything already. You’re not going to buy my clothes.”
“Hermione, you’re being ridiculous,” Draco tried to speak gently to her, but couldn’t keep a slight edge out of his voice. He wanted to do this for her. Why did she have to be so damn independent? Hermione stood and faced him.
“No, I’m not. You’re my boyfriend, not my sugar daddy. I don’t want to be treated like your charity case. Do I look like Julia Roberts to you? This isn’t Pretty Woman, Draco!” She received a slightly confused look from her boyfriend, but didn’t care that he probably had no idea what she was talking about. “I don’t want you to buy things for me that I should be able to afford myself!” she fumed.
“Why won’t you just let me do something nice for you?” Draco demanded.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. “Because you’re only doing it because you feel sorry for me! I don’t need your pity, Malfoy!”
Hermione’s eyes widened and she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth as silence filled the space between them. She had called him Malfoy, and judging by the look on Draco’s face, he wasn’t taking it well. Last names were for enemies, not for lovers. Not even in a quarrel. “Draco…” He turned away from her. “Draco, I’m sorry.”
She thought she heard him mumble something along the lines “ungrateful” and “independent” and “bleeding,” none of which were positive words. “Draco, please…”
“Oh, so I’m ‘Draco’ now, am I, Granger?” His voice was cold as it drifted back to her as he walked into the living room.
“Don’t get all high and mighty with me, Draco!” Hermione called angrily after him.
He whirled around, his gray eyes cold. “Because that would be so typical, wouldn’t it, Hermione. ‘Those Malfoys think they’re so much better than everyone else. Most self-righteous family we know. Only powerful because they buy people off.’” Draco began to mimic voices. “You think it’s easy growing up the way I did? People either hated me for my money or chased after me for it. And now when I want to share it with someone, she won’t bloody take it! When I try to do something nice, she gets angry! I can’t win, Hermione! Not with you, not with anyone! It all boils down to me just being another Malfoy,” Draco spat out his own last name while Hermione’s eyes filled with tears. She tried to keep them from falling, but failed.
“I’m sorry, Draco. I didn’t realize…” her voice was meek as she looked at the ground. She heard Draco take a deep breath from across the room. She looked up to meet his eyes and saw they were softer.
Dammit. He had made her cry. He hated it when she cried. Especially when it was his fault. “No, Hermione… I shouldn’t have yelled like that. I know you’re independent.” He slowly walked back to her. “It’s one of the things I love about you.” Draco gently wrapped his arms around Hermione’s shoulders and she slowly let her arms circle around his waist.
Hermione mumbled something incoherently against his chest. Draco pulled back slightly with a questioning look on his face. Hermione took a deep breath. “I’ll let you buy me the damn dress.”
Draco couldn’t help but let his face break into a grin, but before he could say anything, there was a tap at the glass balcony door. Draco and Hermione both turned to look at what had caused the noise only to see a nondescript owl perched on a patio chair. The couple looked back at each other and shrugged their mutual lack of knowledge. Draco released Hermione and slid open the large glass door. The owl swooped inside, dropped a letter at Hermione’s feet, and swooped out as quickly as it came. Draco closed the door and gave Hermione a curious look. “Do you know what this is about?”
“No clue…” Hermione replied a bit breathlessly, her voice still a bit shaky from crying. She knelt and picked up the unmark letter. She almost dropped it when it began to unfold by itself in her hands. No words appeared on the parchment for a moment. Draco had walked back to her and she glanced up at him nervously for a moment before looking back at the paper. Suddenly, gold writing began to glint on the page.
State your name.
Hermione waited a moment before stumbling over the words “Hermione Granger.”
Your full name, please
“Hermione Jean Granger.” Draco gave her a strange look and peered at the page, but he couldn’t see anything.
Hello, Miss Granger.We at the Institute of Experimental Charms would like to extend an invitation for you to join us.We call ourselves an Institute because by working here one never stops learning, though we are not a school. We are offering you an elite full time position in the work of developing new charms for the masses.We pay ten-thousand galleons per year, plus the royalties you will receive from the ministry for each charm you create.If you are interested, please floo to our headquarters on Monday at 9AM located at the address listed below. We hope to see you very soon. If you decline, expect to be inundated with job offers from the many places you applied. We apologize for the inconvenience.
“Oh. My. Merlin.” Hermione whispered, unable to keep her jaw from hanging open.
Draco peered at the paper curiously, still seeing nothing on the page. “What is it? I don’t see anything!”
Hermione scoffed. “What do you mean you don’t see anything? Don’t be silly, Draco! It’s all right there in gold script! I have a job!”
“Hermione,” Draco reasoned, “there is nothing on that paper. Are you feeling all right?” He raised his hand to try to feel her forehead but she batted his hand away.
“Don’t be daft! Of course I feel all right!” Hermione looked up at Draco, her eyes showing her annoyance, but it fled when she noticed his sincerity. She paused and looked at the paper. “You really don’t see anything, do you.” Draco shook his head. Hermione’s eyes widened. “Incredible…”
“Will you tell me what the bloody hell is going on already?”
“I’ve been offered a job, Draco. At the Institute of Experimental Charms. Full time. Ten-thousand Galleons a year minimum.” Draco’s eyebrows shot up at the number. “It seems they’ve been holding all of my other job applications.” Hermione chuckled at the ingenious of it. “I don’t know how, but I’m going on Monday to find out.”
“Are you going to take the job?” Draco asked curiously. “I’ve only heard rumors of this place. No one actually thinks that it exists.”
“Well, it exists, and on Monday at 9AM, I’m going to have myself a job.” She smirked up at him. “A higher paying job than you.”
“Good thing I have those reservations to celebrate.” Draco smirked back at her. “Now let’s go get you that damn dress.”
Monday morning Draco awoke to a surprisingly empty bed. He glanced at the clock on his bedside table that told him the time was now approaching 8:15 AM. Puzzled, Draco looked back at the empty side of his bed; Hermione usually slept until he gently woke her with a kiss right before he left for work a bit before nine each morning. Draco smiled to himself, musing about how Hermione had to have been one of the heaviest sleepers in the world: a Weasley firework could go off right next to her and she wouldn’t stir. Then it hit him; Hermione’s job started this morning. Of course she was up. Knowing Hermione, she hadn’t slept all night in anticipation of the coming morning’s events. Draco proceeded to throw off the bedcovers and pad slowly along into the master bathroom from which he emerged twenty minutes later ready for his full day ahead.
As Draco emerged into the living room of the flat his nose was greeted by a heavenly smell. Hermione was making Breakfast the muggle way. With his mouth breaking into a grin, Draco finished his short trek to the kitchen where he saw his girlfriend scrambling eggs while keeping a close eye on a piece of breaded steak that was frying in a skillet next to it; however, she glanced up when she heard Draco stride into the room. Her face lit up.
“Good morning, Handsome. Your coffee is on the countertop just there,” she nodded her head in the direction of the steaming cup, “and the Daily Prophet is on the table., though you won’t find anything interesting in it. I’ve already read it. You’re just in time for breakfast! I made chicken fried steak, hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs. I hope you’re hungry.”
“Oh, I am,” Draco assured her before picking up his cup of coffee, laughing to himself at how high strung Hermione seemed to be this morning. She had hardly taken a breath while speaking. He looked over to the side of the kitchen to see Twylla standing uncomfortably still. Furrowing his eyebrows he inquired, “Alright there, Twylla?”
The little house elf looked at him with distraught eyes. “Mistress Hermione will not let Twylla touch anything in the kitchen! She will not let Twylla cook or help!”
“Hermione!” Draco gasped dramatically at her. “How could you?”
Hermione huffed. “I told Twylla she could clean up when I’m finished. She just has to be patient.” Topping the scrambled eggs with a bit of cheese, Hermione slid them onto a plate, removed the piece of steak that had been frying from the skillet and set it onto a plate with a few other pieces, and began to pour milk and flour into the still hot skillet. Draco peered at her curiously.
“What are you doing now?”
She gave him an incredulous look. “I’m making gravy.”
“You can do that?”
“Of course I can do that!”
“Wow.” Hermione rolled her eyes as she whisked away at the mixture, adding more milk slowly as needed. When she was satisfied, she added a dash of pepper and salt to the mix and poured it into a bowl. Whipping her wand out of her back pocket, she levitated all of the finished dishes to the already set table where Draco sat with his coffee. Hermione took her seat across the table and gently set down all the plates and gestured for Draco to begin helping himself, which he did. “So are you excited?” he asked, glancing up at her while she picked at her food.
“Yes, but a bit nervous,” Hermione admitted. “I wish you could go with me or something, but I know that’s not possible.” Draco gave her a reassuring smile from across the table.
“You’ll be brilliant. You always have been,” he complimented before truly tucking in. The two didn’t talk until Draco finished his breakfast and stood. “Alright, love. I’ve got to go.”
“Yeah, me too.” Hermione glanced at Twylla who was waiting anxiously in the kitchen and smiled. “You can clean up now.” Twylla practically squealed in delight. Hermione turned back to Draco. “I’ll see you tonight?”
Draco shrugged and gave her a charming smirk before grabbing is briefcase next to the fireplace and flooing to work. Hermione stared at the green flames lick him up and whisk him away, knowing she would be next. Taking a deep breath, she picked up her bag that she’d left next to the fireplace, stepped inside clutching the letter she had received in her hand, and spoke very clearly as she dropped the Floo powder. Cool green flames licked at Hermione’s limbs as she felt herself be pulled forward into a different fireplace.
“Hermione Granger,” a female voice she couldn’t quite see yet greeted her. “Welcome to the Institute of Experimental Charms. We’re glad you’ve decided to join us.” Hermione coughed a little bit as she stepped out of the fireplace to see the person who had greeted her; a professional looking woman with slightly graying hair stood before her with a welcoming smile and held out her hand. “My name is Celeste Morningside, and I am the current Director.”
“I’m honored, Miss Morningside,” Hermione responded as she shook the older woman’s hand. “This is such an extraordinary opportunity.”
“No, Miss Granger,” Celeste corrected her, “we at the Institute of Experimental Charms are honored that you would consider joining us. Witches of your caliber and talent are rare indeed.” Hermione blushed modestly, but held her head high. “Please, have a seat, Miss Granger,” Celeste offered, motioning to one of two chairs that sat across from what Hermione guessed was Celeste’s desk. For the first time, Hermione realized that they must have been in Celeste’s office. The room was simply but elegantly decorated with many plaques and certificates on the walls. Hermione took the seat she had been offered, and Celeste took her own seat behind her desk.
“Please,” Hermione insisted before Celeste could say anything else, “call me Hermione.”
“Very well, and you may call me Celeste. There is no need for formality here based on position. Here, we are merely a family, but someone has to do all the paperwork” Celeste smiled sardonically, “so I became director.” Hermione laughed understandingly. “Now, I realize that the invitation you received was rather explicit and there is not much more I can tell you except that people outside of this organization are not to know anything about what goes on here. Experimental charms are dangerous at best and sometimes irreversible. We have top of the line facilities for you to work in to provide you with the most safety; however, I do not expect you to make your decision sight unseen. Would you like a tour?”
Hermione shook her head. “That won’t be necessary. I’m in.” Celeste smiled.
“We’re happy to have you, Hermione Let me take you to your experiment room.” Celeste left her seat and Hermione followed suit, following the woman out the door. “We’re also very lenient about familiars here, Hermione. If you can’t bear to part with your pet during the day, we understand. Familiars can actually be very soothing in the charm creation process, so long as you don’t hit them with a spell. That only causes chaos.” Celeste strolled quickly down the hall and Hermione had to keep a brisk pace to match strides with the woman.
“Actually, my familiar is with my family. Mum couldn’t bear to part with him.” Hermione explained, taking glances around the hallway they were passing through. Suddenly the pair heard a large crash, followed by a male’s voice.
“I’m alright! I’m alright!”
With a chuckle, Celeste stopped at a nearby door and knocked on it gently. “Charles, dear, are you alright?” All of a sudden, the door swung open and a man probably in his early twenties popped his head out. Hermione noticed smoke escaping out of the room slowly.
“Just fine. You know, tricky work going on down here.” Charles grinned at Celeste good-naturedly. He was tall, lanky, and had dark brown hair that looked a bit singed on the ends. Hermione was reminded of Harry just a tad from him, and a little of Seamus because he looked like he’d just been through a minor explosion. “You’re looking as good as ever, Celeste. You sure you won’t reconsider marrying me one of these days?” Celeste laughed good naturedly and waved the question off with her hand. Brushing the rejection off, Charles peered at Hermione. “I see we have a new recruit joining the ranks. Were you planning on introducing me to her, or were you planning on keeping me all to yourself?”
Celeste smiled at the man teasingly, “You know how I hate to share my men, Charles, but since you asked, this young woman is Hermione Granger, and she will be joining our staff.”
Charles’ jaw dropped. “Hermione Granger? THE Hermione Granger?”
“In the flesh.” Celeste answered as Hermione put her hand forward to shake with Charles’.
“Miss Granger, it is an honor.” Instead of taking her hand, Charles took to his knee and bowed before her. “I am Charles Remington II, completely and whole-heartedly at your service.” Hermione couldn’t help but blush as he took her outstretched hand and kissed it. She requested that he simply call her Hermione. “As you wish,” he replied before standing. He looked at Celeste apologetically, “Sorry, my dear. I know how much you hate to see me give attention to other women, but I’m afraid you now have some competition in the form of Hermione Granger.”
“However shall I survive?” Celeste asked him melodramatically. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, Charles, I must get Hermione to her experiment room. Good luck with… whatever it is you’re doing in there. Try not to blow the place up. It’s a ton of paperwork.” With a salute to Celeste and a bow to Hermione, Charles once again retired into his room. “Sorry about him,” Celeste apologized to Hermione, who was grinning.
“It’s fine. I think I’m going to like it here.”
“Dracoooo!” Hermione called in a singsong voice the moment she returned through the floo to their flat around six in the evening. “Draco, I had the most amazing day! My job is brilliant, and I-“ Hermione suddenly stopped talking when she saw Draco sitting on the couch, motionless, a letter in his hand. She walked over to the couch and sat next to him, not asking questions or saying anything (though it was killing her). Hermione merely waited, knowing Draco would tell her when he was ready. After what felt like an eternity of him just staring at the paper, Draco folded it and set it on the table.
“My mother,” he started, without looking at her, “has taken a turn for the worse in St. Mungo’s.” Draco’s voice was soft and distant as he explained. “They don’t think she’s going to wake up this time.”
“Oh, Draco…I’m so sorry.” Hermione knew that Draco and his mother had been close. She’d often sent him treats while he was off and school, and it had been Narcissa who had lied to Voldemort to save her son. She had been a far stronger woman that ever given credit for, but being without her husband and without her son in a changing world had been too much on poor Narcissa. She had fallen ill, checked into St. Mungo’s, and never checked out. She had grown progressively worse ever since. No magical treatment had worked, and the healers had simply decided that the woman was dying of a broken heart that could not be remedied. Hermione laid a hand comfortingly on his shoulder and in an unexpected move, Draco turned in to her, burying his face in the crook of her neck. She knew he was fighting back tears.
After an unknown amount of time, Draco pulled back and looked Hermione in the eyes. “I want you to meet her. Before… before anything else happens.”
“Draco, I don’t think-“
“No. I want this. I want the two women I love in the same room together. At least once.” Draco’s voice cracked.
Hermione nodded. “I’ll go with you.”
“Tomorrow after work? It’s too late tonight.”
“Any time you want.”
“I love you, Hermione.” Draco kissed the top of her head. “So much.”
“I love you too, Draco.”
The walls of St. Mungo’s were a stark white as Draco and Hermione walked hand in hand through the hall of the seventh floor… underground, that is. Of course, there were enchanted windows every so often to make it look like it was above ground to let in some “natural” light and keep the patients from going stir crazy. Draco looked almost ghostly. Nervous to see his mother, he’d hardly slept the night before and had merely picked at his breakfast that morning. Hermione was positive that he’d skipped lunch as well. Draco stopped at the end of the hallway in front of a large set of double doors. The words “PSYCH WARD” hung menacingly above the metal gateway. Hermione didn’t really know what to do or say, so she gently squeezed his hand. Draco looked down at her and gave her an appreciative smile.
“I’m scared, Hermione,” came a rather meek voice from Draco as he shifted his gaze back to the doors. “This could be the very last time I see her, and she won’t even be awake. I don’t-“ his voice nearly choked up, “I don’t think that I could do this without you.”
“Yes you could,” Hermione quickly answered. “Because you love her and because she’s your mother. Do whatever it is you need to do today, and know that I’m going to be with you all the way through it.” Draco didn’t say anything, but she heard him take a very deep breath before stepping forward and pushing the door open. Hermione was a bit surprised by the sight that was before her.
The psych ward looked nothing like the rest of St. Mungo’s. It entire wing was painted in warm colors and decorated with live plants and flowers. A few pygmy puffs were bouncing around, and even a puppy patronus bounded forward to greet them as they walked in. Draco noticed Hermione’s shock at the look of the place and explained. “The people here aren’t sick in a way that they need to be quarantined and sterile. This place is relaxing and welcoming… psychologically sterile, I suppose. It’s designed to make people feel better emotionally.” Hermione nodded her understanding before an orderly approached them.
“Hello, Draco,” she said, sorrow clearly etched onto her features. “We’ve been expecting you.” Even the voice of the orderly was sad as she talked to Draco. “There’s been no change in your mother’s condition. She hasn’t woken up a single time. We can’t even wake her up to feed her… I think…” She sniffled, “I think it might be time for you to say goodbye. We’ve done all we can. She doesn’t want to be here.” Draco nodded silently, unable to say a word. His mother was dying. He gripped Hermione’s hand tighter. “I’d escort you to her room, but you know where it is. I don’t want to disturb you.”
Draco forced a smile at her, but it looked more like a grimace. “Thank you, Cynthia. You’ve been great through all of this.” Cynthia tried to give Draco a smile, but sniffled again and quickly walked away before she started crying. Hermione noticed Draco’s jaw clench almost imperceptibly as he glanced down the hallway that must have lead to his mother’s room. Now holding tightly on to Hermione’s hand, Draco took his first step.
Unfortunately, the first step was not his hardest. As the door to his dying mother grew nearer, Draco’s feet felt all the heavier as he strove to pick them up and alternated placing one in front of the other. Had Hermione not been at his side the entire time, he might have turned back. At last, after a journey that Draco would later liken to pulling a ton of bricks up a mountain, he was staring at the door. “Narcissa Malfoy” was scrawled in neat penmanship on the front, indicating that his mother was indeed lying in that very room, behind that very door. Draco didn’t look at Hermione as he reached forward with the hand that wasn’t holding hers and pushed the door open.
Narcissa Malfoy had been many things in her life. Ugly had never been one of them and still wasn’t. Despite her gaunt appearance and thinness of frame, the reigning Mistress of Malfoy Manor even yet looked regal as she lie motionless on the bed, her eyes shut in unconsciousness. Hermione chanced a look up into Draco’s face. He looked cold. Stone cold. She hadn’t seen him look like that in what now felt like an eternity ago. Draco slowly released her hand and still didn’t look at Hermione as he walked over to the chair that was placed by the bed.
“Hello, mother,” he croaked, sitting down. He gently reached out and took her fragile, chilled hand into his own.
Hermione stood back where Draco had left her, unsure of what exactly to do. She wanted to comfort Draco and give he and his mother their space at the same time. She stood awkwardly behind the mother and son until Draco looked back at her and nodded her over. Even then, Hermione was tentative to approach. She walked slowly and lightly until she stood behind Draco and rest a gentle hand on his shoulder in a small gesture of support.
Draco continued to talk to Narcissa for the better part of an hour while she continued to lie still on the bed, showing no signs of movement or comprehension. He talked of graduation, of his new flat, of his new job… anything he could come up with, save for Hermione. Ever since entering the room he hadn’t said her name, and she had remained completely silent throughout the entire ordeal. When Draco asked Hermione to leave the room, she was surprised but understanding. She would do whatever Draco asked her today. She knew this was really taking a toll on him. “It was nice meeting you, Narcissa,” Hermione said softly before she turned to leave the room. Once outside in the hall, she sunk to the floor against the wall and took a deep breath. She’d never seen Draco like this, and it was hard.
And it was probably only going to get worse.
Back in the room, Draco took a deep breath. “Mum… I know it’s been a long time since we talked about this. Remember, before Graduation, I told you I was seeing someone?” He hesitated, studying her face for any kind of change. Still nothing. “Well, we’re living together now. I know I didn’t tell you before, but I’m in love with her… I think,” Draco paused again, since he was nervous to admit out loud what was about to come out of his mouth. He wanted the first person he told to be the one other person that he truly loved in the world. “I think I’m going to marry her, mother. I think she’s the one.”
Draco felt Narcissa’s fingers barely move in his hand. His eyes widened and he once more searched her face for any change. Maybe… just maybe he saw something. He kept talking. “You really would like her, mother. She’s beautiful and intelligent… she can even cook.” Draco saw Narcissa’s eyelashes move almost imperceptibly. Almost. “I know I haven’t told you who she is, mother… I’m afraid.” Draco tore his eyes away from his mother’s face, which he knew would be disapproving had she been conscious. “I’m afraid that you won’t approve because of something silly. The old way… the ignorant way. All the prejudice and the hate was wrong…” Draco looked back into the face of his mother.
“I’m in love with Hermione Granger.”
Narcissa screamed a horrid, bloodcurdling scream that Draco thought would break her vocal chords right after it shattered his eardrums. Her eyes were wide open and she was thrashing on the bed. Before Draco knew what was happening, there were people in the room. Narcissa was shot over and over with calming and sedating spells. After many bursts of light, she was finally still and her breath rising and falling in a regular rhythm. Her eyes were once more closed. She was unconscious again.
“Draco…” Cynthia was next to him. He hadn’t even seen her. All he could do was sit motionless next to his mother. His dying mother. Hell, he had probably just killed her. He didn’t blink. He didn’t move. “Draco,” Cynthia began again, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Draco, we need to work. You should leave.”
Numb, Draco nodded and slowly rose from his chair. He turned and his sad, grey eyes met equally sad brown ones. Tears were in Hermione’s eyes as he walked back to her and took her hand.
Later that night, Draco received an owl from St. Mungo’s. Narcissa Black had died at 10:28 PM on June 19th of a heart attack. The note included the last words Narcissa Black had spoken: “I will always love my son. No matter what.”
It was the first time Hermione had ever seen anyone cry so hard, much less someone she loved so much. She sat and cried with him throughout the night, both of them skipping work the next day. Her heart hurt so badly she thought she would break; but she wanted it to hurt more. She wanted to take Draco’s hurt from him and bear it entirely upon herself… and that is the meaning of love.
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