I would first and foremost like to apologise for my lack of updating this story. A whole year has passed since I last did it and it is awful of me not to have done it sooner. Unfortunately, last year took a turn for the worst and writing this was not a high priorety, but I'm back now and have more enthusiasm and ideas than before!Please keep reading and reviewing...it's what keeps me writing!
So let the story continue....
December turned into January and with it came the rain. All across England was a thick, grey raincloud. It had caused many flash floods in the North but where Ron was, in the middle of London, there had only been torrential rain. It made his already bleak mood, bleaker and it made the task of sorting out an entire wedding seem an almost impossible one. He had spoken to his mother, who had insisted that the wedding takes place in their garden, and he had supposed that it was as good a place as any. It was beautiful in the summer and it was somewhere they did not have to hide the fact that they were not Muggles. All of Hermione’s friends were from the magical world and her parents would be the only non-magical people in the wedding party so that would not be a problem having to explain anything; her parents were pretty clued up now, although there were always new things that had to be explained to them. For Muggles they had done very well!
Ron decided to talk to the vicar today. He had made an appointment with him to speak about it. He had never really had the need to get on with a vicar and had no idea how to go about it, however he thought it would be a good idea to approach the vicar that married his brothers, he did after all know where the wedding would take place and he knew that the vicar got on well with his mother, which was always a good thing! Dressed in his best smart/casual robes, Ron ran a hand through his hair, trying in vain to flatten it. He straightened up from tying his shoelace and, gathering the relevant paper work, he turned on the spot. A few seconds later he appeared with a slight pop at the end of the road. He walked a few metres before turning into a small village square, in the centre of which stood an old white washed church, surrounded by hundreds of crumbling graves, each inscribed with swirling names and dates, faded and weathered with age. He strode over to the heavy wooden door, knocked twice and entered. The vicar was a small man with a shock of white hair and wrinkled skin. His glasses forever slipped down his small up-turned nose and his dog-collar gave him the impression of having no neck. He looked up at the creak of the door and greeted Ron with a faint yet warm smile that made the crinkles around his eyes deepen.
“Good day to you, Young Mr. Weasley. What have I done to deserve the honour?”
“Morning Father,” Ron said, his ears turning an awful shade of pink, “Well, actually, I came to ask you a question.”
“Of course, do take a seat.” Ron followed the tiny wizard to the back of the church, and sat opposite him at a little, fold up table, on rickety old garden chairs.
“I was wondering…well…the thing is…I’m getting married in the summer and I wondered if it would be possible for you to marry us.” Ron stammered.
“Well, congratulations dear boy! Of course I will consent to marry you.” The old vicar squeaked, “I have to ask a few questions, paper work, you know, but am I correct in assuming that it is the lovely Miss. Granger who is the lucky lady?”
“You are. Hermione is away at the moment; otherwise she would have probably dealt with all this…” He felt he had to explain her absence to him; it was being in a church. It always made him spill his guts to the nearest person!
“I see.” The vicar replied, “Not a problem. Now, first of all, what is Miss. Granger’s heritage…Muggle born, if I remember correctly?”
“Yes, she is.” Ron was fiddling with his cuffs, pulling at stray threads and generally making them worse for wear.
“Ok…and what is the date that the two of you have agreed on?”
“Um…Saturday 12th June.” The vicar noted it down in flowing, precise script onto a set of forms.
“Good. Right, well, I will leave these with you, to fill out when you have a spare moment, and when you have done so, just tap them with your wand and say ‘St. Mary’s, Ottery St. Catchpole’ and they will automatically appear in my in tray.”
“Handy…” Ron said impressed. At least it meant that he didn’t have to come back and visit the vicar, however nice he was, in this imposing atmosphere.
“Quite.” The vicar agreed. “Now, it was very good to see you Mr. Weasley, I look forward to receiving your owl! Give my congratulations to young Miss. Granger.”
“Um…yeah, will do. Thanks.” He replied, getting up and walking back out of the large stone hall. With a quick wave to the vicar, Ron rounded the corner and began to walk quickly back towards the spot he had arrived upon.
* * * * * * * * * *
Hermione looked up from the book of records she was studying.
“I think I’ve found it.”
Draco’s snapped his head toward her. Without a word he pulled a chair up beside her and took the records from her. He ran one long finger down the list of names, stopping halfway down the yellowed page. His eyes widened and a soft gasp escaped from his lips.
“So you have. A Ms. C Cache…”
“Yes, and it gives an address - worth a look?” Hermione was hesitant about sounding as if she wanted to spend more time than was necessary with Draco – which she didn’t, of course – but this was an opportunity that needed to be taken. It was the only lead they had. Draco nodded quickly, his grey eyes boring into her own.
“We shall leave in the morning. I will arrange accommodation – I don’t know how long we will have to stay. To be honest it seems unlikely that she’s still there. These records are 15years old, but it’s the only hope we have of actually finishing the job.” Resentment tainted the end of his sentence, and Draco cursed himself for letting it out. He hoped she wouldn’t notice it, but the faint crease between her brows proved him wrong. He ignored it. He couldn’t let his defences down for a second around her; she was far too observant.
The rest of the day passed quickly, with Hermione returning back to the house to pack the essentials for a couple of days away and Draco locking himself once more in the study, absorbing himself into what ever it was he was always doing in there. Hermione zipped up the small canvas holdall that was at her feet and flopped back onto the bed. She let the relief of a breakthrough wash over her and she smiled softly to herself. It was the first time in weeks that she had felt that they may actually have a chance of doing something productive for the task. They had spent many, many hours, both separately and begrudgingly together, poring over heavy tomes of census’ and records for Carnac and the surrounding area and had never found even the slightest hint of the whereabouts of Claudette Cache. And now, out of the blue, there she was! With an address and everything!
Hermione kicked off her shoes and pulled her knees round to her chest, wrapped her arms around them and closed her eyes. It had been a long few weeks, and Christmas seemed an age ago. She hadn’t heard much from Ginny or Harry, and had only the occasional note from Ron and was missing them all like mad. Tiredness engulfed her as she lay in the semi-darkness thinking about home. She remembered the Christmas before. She’d spent it with the Weasleys at The Burrow, and then Boxing Day at her own parents’. There had been so much laughter then. And now…Hermione sighed deeply. The warmth of the room combined with the softness of the feather duvet she was lying on washed over her, Hermione felt herself drifting off to sleep.
She was back at Hogwarts and the sun was glinting off the surface of the lake. The air was hot and muggy and the stifling heat of an unusually warm June was pressing in on her from all sides. She was sat underneath one of the broad leafed trees, dangling her legs into the cool waters of the lake, a large heavy bound book in her lap. There wasn’t anyone else around, just the occasional gentle splashes from the Giant Squid breaking the inky surface. Suddenly, from behind her, she heard a sound and before she knew it a pair of hands was clamped over her eyes.
“Guess who?” came the familiar, soft drawl. Hermione turned quickly, pulling the long fingers from her face, a smile spreading over her lips.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, “I thought you had a Quidditch meeting?”
“Nah…well, I did but I thought, bored out of my skull in a room full of sweaty 5th years, or bored out of my skull sat by the lake watching you read…?”
Hermione laughed and turned back to her book. “Well in that case…”
The scene dissolved. When the blackness cleared Hermione found herself in a circular stone room. The walls were adorned with shelf upon shelf of books and toward the rear were two doors; one golden, one silver. In the centre of the room, sat opposite a roaring hearth, was a red velvet sofa strewn with plush cushions. She could see the mop of tousled blonde hair resting on its arm from where she stood in the doorway. Setting down the heavy textbook she had in her hands, Hermione walked softly towards the seat.
“Hey.” She said gently so as not to startle the boy.
“Hi. You’re late?” Malfoy sat up and made room for her on the sofa. She flopped down, pushing a couple of the cushions up to one end.
“Yeah, I got a little bit too into my reading.” Hermione said a slight look of guilt on her face. Malfoy just chuckled and shook his head despairingly.
“What are we going to do with you, eh?” Hermione smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “Have you eaten?”
“I’m not that hungry to be honest…”
“You sure? Are you alright?” Malfoy seemed concerned, his brow furrowing as he spoke.
“Yeah, I’m fine, honestly…just tired.”
Malfoy looked sceptical, one of his pale eyebrows raised slightly. “Really…? Because, you would tell me if anything was wrong, wouldn’t you?”
“You know I would Draco.” Hermione was quite for a moment and then lifted her head and looked straight into his eyes. “I’m really glad that I’ve got you, you do know that don’t you? Because, you are the only one who really knows what it is like…to come back after something like that…something so awful that…” Her voice faltered and her eyes filled with tears. Draco was shocked to see her break apart at something as simple as a few words; he’d thought she was stronger than this by now.
He reached across and brushed the tears from her cheeks, hooking one finger underneath her chin and lifting her face to look at him. “I know. And whatever has happened in the past…it’s all changed. Everything. We’re more alike now that I would have ever thought possible, and you know what? There is nothing that I wouldn’t do to protect you now. Nothing that I wouldn’t do to make sure that you are never hurt like that again.”
“Oh Draco…” Hermione gasped as a pair of delicate lips were pressed against her own and she felt her body relax against his.
Hermione woke with a start. She was drenched in sweat and her nightclothes stuck to her skin uncomfortably. This was not good. She had forced herself to forget for so many years and now – well, now was not the time to start remembering.