Narcissa collapsed to the ground in a fit of tears, her sobs overtaking the room.
Jack went over and patted her shoulder, “There are still options. That prognosis is untreated.”
“When will he be out?” Ernest asked.
“He’s in a room already, but he’s still asleep. He probably won’t be awake for a few hours.”
“Take her to him. We’ll stay with Celeste.”
Ernest handed Narcissa over to Jack and he immediately took her to Lucius’ room. Narcissa’s mind was blank as Jack dragged her through the halls. They finally reached Lucius and Narcissa gasped. He had IVs strapped into both arms and a tube taped to his mouth. Narcissa stumbled over and dropped to her knees beside her husband, grasping his hand. Jack left the room silently as Narcissa brushed Lucius’ hair back from his eyes. She waited eagerly for them to open, her position never faltering for hours.
Eventually a nurse brought her a chair and she moved as close as she could to Lucius, waiting for him to wake up. The hours ticked by but Narcissa never moved her gaze from her love’s sleeping form. The nurses offered her food and drinks, but she refused any and all. 15 hours had passed and Lucius still wasn’t awake. Jack came in to check on his vitals, noticing Narcissa’s state. Her eyes were bloodshot and her skin was pale. “Narcissa, you need to eat and get some sleep.”
“I will be here when he wakes.”
Jack sighed and left the room returning a few moments later with 2 pills and some water. “Take these. You’ll stay awake through the night.”
Narcissa eyed them suspiciously, “What are they?”
“Muggle caffeine pills that we enhanced. They work really well.”
Before Jack could register what happened, the pills and water were gone. He immediately exited the room and Narcissa resumed her wait. A few minutes into it, she began to feel intensely drowsy. Her head began to droop and her vision slowly darkened. “What the—” was all she could manage to slur out before falling into a deep sleep.
"A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same."
August 27, 1988
The Malfoy’s and the Granger’s were all at St. Mungo’s for Lucius’ checkup. It had been a year and 7 months since Heather had attacked everyone and Lucius’ fateful prognosis. The cancer was practically gone. Once Lucius had woken that Christmas Day in 1986, Jack spelled out his options. They agreed to do everything they could: spells, potions, incantations, even experimental treatments that hadn’t yet been approved for use. They even tried muggle chemotherapy and herbal supplements. They didn’t know which had worked, but Lucius’ cancer began to die off 9 months ago and kept retreating.
“Well, Mr. Malfoy, it seems the cancer has reduced itself back to the original lump. We will continue to treat to try and remove the lump as well. Other than that, you’re as healthy as a horse.”
Lucius smiled brightly, “Thank you, Doctor.” The doctor then left and Lucius yelled, “Who wants ice cream?”
“ME!” The kids chorused and ran from the room.
Ernest, Lucius, and Narcissa chatted lightly as they walked from the hospital to the ice cream shop down the street. So much had happened in the time since Heather’s attack. She was arrested and charged with 3 counts of assault and battery, 5 counts of assault toward a minor, 1 count of assault with a deadly weapon, and 1 count of attempted murder. She was sentenced to 25 to life in a minimum security prison with the possibility of parole. How she managed to get the possibility to get out on parole was beyond anyone in either family. Hermione also acknowledged and revealed the abuse from Heather to the court, earning her a restraining order of 500 yards.
Since the hearing, Ernest had been getting sicker. He was constantly in and out of the hospital to the point that Hermione and Ivan had their own rooms at the Malfoy’s. His heart was weakening and it was taking a toll on his body. It was an unfortunate coincidence for his disease to be worsening as Lucius’ got better. The Malfoy’s did everything they could to help the Granger’s, but Ernest was stubborn and only accepted help when he was down to the wire desperate. He loved his friends, but he didn’t want pity on him because he was becoming unable to care for his children.
On a completely surprising note, Narcissa had given birth to her fifth child, Andromeda Marie Malfoy, or Andi for short, just 3 months ago. It came as a shock to hear she was pregnant last year as it was thought that it was practically impossible for Lucius’ to be able to produce any more children. By some miracle, the Malfoy’s were blessed with another child. Eric had even come back for her birth, as well as Jeremy, Esther, and Drew.
Kaylie had come to England for the birth as well, introducing her true self to Hermione as her sister. She was a beautiful young girl and the two connected immediately. Kaylie listened to Hermione’s story about their mother and was thankful she had never spent a legitimate amount of time with their mother. Kaylie told Hermione stories of America and Esther’s mother, who she adored as her own. They agreed to begin sending each other letters and begin building a relationship together. Yes, much had happened in the last 19 months but everything Hermione thought she knew about the world was about to be turned upside down
The kids raced to the shop and found a table for everyone. Hermione and Draco bolted for the same seat, fighting over it when they got there. Hermione’s hair had grown in thick and full, frizzing to full capacity. It had earned her a new nickname, ‘Bucky, the Frizz Beast’ in school. Draco had gotten taller but hadn’t gained muscle, so he appeared as a pale toothpick. This sight was quite comical with the two fighting over the chair. Eventually, Hermione climbed up and claimed the seat as her own, “I win!”
Draco glared at her and the chair began to shake. The kids all stared at Draco in shock and his concentration broke, the chair standing still. Hermione’s mind was immediately filled with his thoughts, What was that?
“I don’t know,” Hermione answered.
The adults reached the table and Ivan began pointing, “Chair, chair!”
Hermione and Draco looked at him, afraid he would tell. Ernest glanced at him curiously, “Yes, that is a chair, Ivan.”
The young boy shook his head vigorously, “No! Chair shake!”
The adults looked to Draco and Hermione. Draco smirked and shook Hermione’s chair, making Ivan laugh. The adults nodded and smiled, allowing Draco and Hermione to breathe a sigh of relief. Brigit and Celeste had stayed quiet on the subject, knowing Hermione knew nothing of magic.
The families enjoyed their outing together but eventually went back to the Malfoy Manor. Hermione and Draco immediately flew up the stairs to Draco’s room to play while Ivan stayed downstairs with the adults and Andi. Brigit and Celeste went to their rooms to write their boyfriends and occupy themselves.
Hermione bolted into Draco’s room and shouted victoriously, “I win, again!”
“You don’t have to rub it in.”
“Oh, don’t be such a sore loser!”
“Whatever.” The kids began to play before hearing a tapping on the window.
Draco’s face immediately paled as he saw Hermione look toward the window. He and his family had been waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts the entire summer and he recognized that tapping as an owl delivering a letter. He watched Hermione get up and immediately shot in front of her, blocking the window, “No!”
She eyed him curiously, “What? I heard tapping.”
Crap, crap, crap! “Tapping? There wasn’t any tapping! I didn’t hear anything.”
“Crap, what?” The owl tapped on the window again and Hermione raised an eyebrow at him, “You didn’t hear that?”
“Hear what?” She knows!
“I don’t know anything.” The owl tapped very loudly at this point and Hermione scoffed, “There it was again! Let me see!”
“No!” Draco quickly turned and opened the window, ripping the letter from the owl’s leg, sending it off, and closing the window before Hermione could register what happened.
“What is it?” She pointed to the letter.
Draco stared at Hermione for a moment, Crap! What do I tell her?
“The truth would be nice.”
It’s a letter from my uncle…yeah!
“It’s not a letter from your uncle.”
Wait, she can hear me! Crap! Draco glanced at it before quickly bolting past her and out of his room, “Nothing!”
Draco kept running through the halls, down toward his parents before Hermione could see the letter. He heard Hermione following quickly behind, shouting questions at him, “Luke, what is it? And why are you afraid to show me? I will catch you!”
Draco pushed himself to run faster and bolted through the house toward his parents. He flew into the Dining Room and Hermione collided with him soon after. The adults, Andi, and Ivan stared at the two curiously as they fought over the letter. They struggled over it before Hermione threw her fist up with the letter firmly grasped within.
Narcissa plucked it from her grip and opened it. Her eyes widened and she passed it to Lucius, making sure Hermione didn’t see it. She then looked to Draco, “So it came, did it?”
He forced himself to stand, breathing raggedly, “Yeah.”
“What is it!” Hermione stamped her foot.
Everyone in the room ignored her demand, instead keeping the letter hidden from her. Ernest stood, taking Ivan’s hand. “I think it’s time we go, kids. The Malfoy’s have a lot to do tonight.”
Narcissa waved her hand, “You know, Ernest. It would be really nice to get out of the house. Let’s just go to your flat.”
Everyone was gathered up and they all headed off to the Granger’s flat. The Malfoy’s were being particularly careful to avoid talking about the letter around Hermione. They had been expecting Draco’s letter all summer. If Hermione saw the owl deliver another letter to him, she would have too many questions. So they were playing it safe and getting away from the house.
Once inside the flat, Brigit and Celeste went to another room to continue their letters and occupying their time. They had just graduated and were getting ready to start in the work force. Brigit was going to be a Healer while Celeste wanted to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. Hermione and Draco retreated to Hermione’s room where she hoped to squeeze information out of him. Ivan and Andi were both put down for naps, leaving the adults in the Living Room.
About 20 minutes went by before the adults heard a crash, a scream, and saw Hermione barreling into the Living Room, an owl behind her. Hermione cowered behind Ernest as the owl landed in front of him and offered his leg to untie the attached letter. Draco came out a few moments later, rubbing his head. Ernest untied the letter and the owl took off, making Hermione squeal again. Draco glanced at his parents and they were staring at the letter in Ernest’s hand.
Draco laid a hand on Hermione’s shoulder and she instantly calmed, “What was that?”
Draco looked at his parents and they simply stared back. He gulped, “A messenger owl.”
Brigit and Celeste came into the room, having heard the crash and scream. Hermione cocked an eyebrow, “There’s no such thing as messenger owls.”
Ernest sighed, “Joie, read the letter and we’ll explain after.”
Hermione eyed it suspiciously but opened the letter and read it aloud, “Dear Miss Granger, We are please to cordially invite you to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…wait, what?”
Hermione looked about the room waiting for someone to burst into laughter, but no one did. “Is this some kind of joke?”
She looked for answers again and found none. She smiled at Draco, nudging him, “Did you do this?”
He shook his head and she turned her focus to Brigit and Celeste, who both shook their heads furiously. Narcissa broke her moment, “Keep reading, Joie.”
“…for gifted witches and wizards. Okay, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
Draco sighed, “Keep reading.”
“Whatever. You are a part of a select group of people with the ability to perform magic. We ask that you please contact either Rubeus Hagrid or Minerva McGonagall with questions. At the bottom of the letter you will find a list of school supplies for your first year. Please get everything on the list, no substitutions. The Hogwarts Express leaves at 9 AM on September 1st. Please be on it or you will not make it to the school. We look forward to seeing you, Miss Granger. Sincerely, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.”
The two families watched Hermione as she processed the information she was just given. They were all surprised when she scoffed and shook the letter, “Seriously! Who wrote this?”
“Joie, Dumbledore did.”
“This is a joke. Magic’s not real!”
Narcissa pulled out her wand and levitated the letter from Hermione’s hand. Lucius took control of it and transfigured the letter into a bird. Celeste then set the letter on fire, while Brigit reassembled it. Draco plucked the letter from the air and placed it back into Hermione’s shocked hands. She stared at them dumbfounded before turning to her father, “Dad, did you know about this?”
“Your mother’s a witch.”
Hermione’s eyes widened, “Are you a…?”
“No, I am not a wizard. Just a man.”
“We don’t know yet.”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
Draco piped in, “Muggles aren’t allowed to know about the Wizarding world.
Narcissa nodded, “Non-magical folk. Like your dad. You’re a half-blood. Half-muggle, half witch.”
“Wait, my mom’s not a witch!”
Narcissa smiled, “Sweetie, I’ve known your mother a long time. She’s a witch like me, Brigit, Celeste, and you.”
“Joie, we’re special. We always have been. We have magical blood.” Hermione eyed Draco skeptically, “Joie, why do you think I can move really fast? And you can hear others thoughts and feel what they’re feeling? Do you remember that day when we were playing with Greg, making him appear and disappear from his tank? That word, Slebhac?”
Hermione shook her head. She couldn’t remember. Draco pressed, “Come on. Our house only erases uninformed muggle memories. You’re a witch, you will remember. Think.”
Hermione focused hard and the memory of her and Draco fading his snake in and out of his tank came into view. She also remembered Greg wrapping around her throat. She put her hand to her neck, “That was an illusion.”
“Sweetie, that was real,” Narcissa said.
Hermione stared at the two families, her mind reeling. She knew she was special, but a witch? Magic, real magic, flowed through her body. Magic existed. All those fantasies and games were real! “I’m magic?”
Everyone nodded and jumped as Hermione squealed in glee, “That is so cool!”
Everyone let out a breath they had been holding for Hermione’s reaction. The Malfoy’s then began to explain anything and everything about the Wizarding World they could think of. The school, the wands, the clothes. Hermione listened for hours on end, absorbing as much information as she could. “Wait, so do I get a wand? And do I get to ride a broom?”
“Yeah! We have to go into to Diagon Alley to get our school stuff,” Draco piped.
Hermione smiled, but it immediately dropped, “But what about our friends? They’ll miss us.”
Narcissa smiled, “Joie, do you mean Seamus, Blaise, and Neville?” Hermione nodded, “They’re all magic. You’ll see them at school! Unless they choose to go to another.”
Hermione’s eyes widened, “Hogwarts isn’t the only Wizarding School?”
“Nope, it’s the only one in England though. Every country has a school. Brigit and Celeste just graduated from Beauxbuton’s in France while Eric went to MYTH in California. That’s where they chose to go.”
“That’s where you were going to school? France?” The twins nodded, “That’s wicked.”
Hermione stood and Ernest looked at her worriedly, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s a lot to learn. I need some air.” Hermione went out onto the balcony and sat down, sliding her legs through the railing. So much was rattling through her brain at the moment and she just wanted some peace. Magic was real? Her mind was still fiddling with this question, unable to grasp the fact that everything she had been told was fantasy was in fact real.
The door opened and Draco joined Hermione on the balcony, sliding his legs through the railing as well. “It’s a lot.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well, see, magic—”
“It’s an expression, Luke.”
They were silent a moment, “How long have you known?”
Draco sighed, “Since I was born.”
“And you never told me?”
“I wasn’t allow—”
“Draco, I’m your best friend. You’re supposed to be able to tell me everything. This involves me too.”
Draco could tell Hermione was serious; she used his first name. “Hermione, it’s against the law to tell muggles about the Wizarding World. It’s a lot of trouble.”
“Why didn’t my mom tell me?”
“You should probably ask your dad.”
Hermione sighed, “Magic, really?”
Draco smiled and stared at the stars, “Yep. Welcome to the wonderful world of magic, Joie.”
Thank you all so much for sticking through this with me. I'm so thankful for my readers who've come and gone throughout this whole process. Thank you all for bearing with me through my trials and tribulations. 5 years I've been working on this baby. I know it seems kind of a weak ending, but there is plenty left to say here! Look out world, here comes Hogwarts! Please rate and review!