Thanks to kriss, LovesMagic, natajess, gran/ger, AppreciativeReader, brifelton09, and Stephanie for taking the time to leave such lovely reviews! Here's the latest installment- probably the last before the holidays! I hope you like it! As per usual, JK Rowling is the owner of the HP world.
Ron and Lavender were nearing the steps of the Great Hall. Journalists and photographers lined the area, and Lavender smiled and laughed as the lights went off. Suddenly there was a shift. The journalists and photographers fled towards the bottom of the stairs.
“Who could be so much more important than us, Won-Won?” Lavender pouted.
“I don’t know…perhaps we ought to just enter now…” Ron’s suggestion trailed off as Lavender grabbed him firmly by the sleeve, dragging him towards the bottom of the stairwell. He thought his dress robes were much better than last night’s suit. In all fairness, he opined, he hadn’t been prepared for a Muggle setting. His dress robe tonight was silver, with a blue tie to bring his eyes out (according to Lav.) However, his excitement over looking great was interrupted when he saw exactly who had arrived…it was the Ferret…with Hermione!
Blimey, Ron thought, I knew he was taking her, but I didn’t expect her to look that amazing. She looks like a bloody princess!
“Mr. Malfoy, who is your lovely date?!”
“Cinderella, give us a name!”
“Are you both engaged, Mr. Malfoy?”
“One at a time,” Draco laughed, “Firstly, we are not engaged.”
“At least not yet,” ‘Cinderella’/Hermione laughed.
Ron’s fists tightened.
“Who are you?”
“My date’s much more famous than I am,” Draco assured, “Far richer, far smarter, far braver, far better looking…all-in-all, the most perfect woman to live in the Wizarding World.”
The female paparazzi cooed happily. Here was a real gentleman.
“Please, Miss, tell us who you are!” they all clamored, while a woman quietly approached Draco.
“Can I get an interview for Witch Weekly from you and your date?”
“I’ll ask her after the dinner and let you know,” Draco replied.
“Do I really look so different, Draco?”
“No. But let’s stop teasing everyone. It’s time the world saw their crowning jewel.”
“It’s nice to see everyone again. I’m Hermione…”
“The one and only,” she laughed.
Lavender stared down angrily. Here, she’d thought she would have the best dress, yet Granger- bucktoothed Granger, frizzy haired, bookworm Granger- had upstaged her once more. And those jewels! They must have been worth a fortune! Even the Queen herself had nothing to compare to those…
After indulging the media for several minutes, Draco gently led Hermione up the stairs towards the entrance, where they nearly bumped into Ron and Lavender. Quickly, the Weasley couple ran into the hall.
“Did you see her outfit?” Hermione asked quietly.
“Didn’t I see that somewhere? Hm…oh that’s right, didn’t you wear that last night?” Draco teased.
“Oh Draco, be nice.”
Draco tossed her a grin.
“Ah, Mr. Malfoy…and Miss Granger!” McGonagall cried in surprise. “My dear, you have no idea how much it thrills me to see you, looking so great and so happy…”
Clearly McGonagall still remembered what had sent Hermione to Paris those long years ago.
“Professor!” Hermione greeted warmly.
“Please, call me Minerva.”
“Of course,” Hermione agreed.
“And Mr. Malfoy, it’s very nice to see you as well, looking just as happy.”
What was McGonagall? A psychic or something? She had that all-knowing look on her face.
“HERMIONE!” Harry roared.
Harry Potter had spotted his adoptive sister.
“Harry!” Tears sprung to her eyes as she saw the boy- now man- who she’d been inseparable from since her first year.
“Ginny told me she spoke to you the other day, but Merlin! She never told me how great you looked!”
“Well, we preggers don’t like to dwell on single women and their beauty,” Ginny mock-grumbled.
“You’re pregnant?!” Hermione squealed.
“For the second time…Merlin only knows how Harry talked me into another baby after the last…”
“She threatened to do unspeakable things to me that night, she did. Me, an Auror!” Harry laughed.
“So little Jamesie is going to have a baby brother or sister!” Hermione exclaimed with delight.
“Congrats, Weaselette,” Draco said sincerely.
“You know, Ferret, you ought to call your girlfriend’s best friend by her first name,” Ginny suggested.
Girlfriend! Harry mouthed at Hermione in shock.
“I’ll tell you later,” she whispered back.
“Congrats to you as well, Potter.”
Boys, Hermione thought with a roll of her eyes. They would continue their rivalry at a Ministry sanctioned ball.
Harry and Draco lead their dates to the front table. The Great Hall had been changed dramatically for the stupendous event. Gone were the four long tables. In their place were round tables, all covered with black tablecloths. In the middle of each table stood a centerpiece of sorts- theirs was a golden vase, with red roses and a lion that ran around the vase, growling proudly. Draco took one look at the lion and snorted. Of course it would be that great big cat- he was in the lion’s den, so to speak. Hermione was pleased to note that there were no House Elves waiting on them. They were waiters. Students who had detention were also forced to help out with the event, while each class’ prefects were able to attend, along with the Head Girl and Head Boy.
As the drinks-phase of dinner progressed, Draco and Harry grew more relaxed within each other’s company. Conversely, Ron grew more and more agitated. It was bad enough that Hermione was back, looking happy and amazing. It was even worse that the truth of his betrayal would be out soon. But it was horrendous to see that she was here with the Ferret. That she was in the arms of an Ex-Death Eater who would not have hesitated to Crucio her eight years ago. These were Ron’s opinions. A laugh interrupted his thoughts. It tinkled like a bell, yet it was as thick as honey. It was a laugh that could make any man’s head turn. A laugh so beautiful that even old Moldy Voldy himself would have fallen deeply in love, without knowing the witch’s heritage. Of course it would belong to Hermione. She seemed to be his personal siren, his personal hell, designed to scorn him for eternity. He remembered a time when he was with her. She had been different, though. She hadn’t looked like that. She hadn’t acted like that. Time, experience, and loss had changed Hermione Granger for the better, it seemed. With one last wistful glance, Ron stood up, gulped down his shot of Firewhisky, and headed towards the bar. He needed to break away from this nightmare.
As the night went on, Draco and Harry grew more relaxed within each other’s presence. At one point, Draco even teased Harry about his hair.
“Can’t you keep it flat for once, Potter?”
“Maybe you ought to lend me that stuff you used first and second year. It certainly slicked your hair back,” Harry retorted.
“I’ll let you know that my hair is taken care of professionally every month,” Draco sniffed.
“Are you gay?” Ginny questioned.
Draco almost spit up his drink.
“Well,” Hermione whispered conspiratorially- and at this point, she’d had quite a few drinks- “he did say, and I quote, ‘Mother always thought I had impeccable taste in clothing.’”
“And there we have it!” Ginny proclaimed triumphantly. “The man himself ferretted it out.”
“Hermione!” Draco cried.
He wasn’t really hurt by the comments though. In fact, he was quite enjoying himself. It was the most fun he’d had since before Astoria got her modeling job…Astoria?
She’d noticed. Hermione noticed Draco’s eyes glaze over. But even if she hadn’t seen that, she would have noticed Draco’s lack of participation- Harry had just told him that they’d snuck into the Slytherin Common Room Second year, and all Draco had said in response was, “Well, fancy that.” That’s when Hermione followed Draco’s gaze. Only to feel her heart burst a little. Several tables away, at a similar black table with a silver vase full of green zinnias and green envy coneflowers, sat a petite brunette. She was draped all over a tall, burly sort of man. Hermione could recognize him anywhere…Oliver Wood. So that must be the infamous Astoria.
This is what happens, Hermione scolded herself. He’s a Slytherin…he’s a Pureblood…he didn’t actually care about you! He just cared about saving both of your reputations. He was only paying back your debt.
When Astoria laughed, Draco only grew more entranced. Oliver’s possessive arms emitted a scowl from the blonde. She needed to leave. She needed an escape.
“Excuse me,” she said brusquely, leaving the Potters with Draco. No one took much notice as the former bookworm fled from the hall…and straight to the library.
That afternoon, the laughs, the kiss, the sundae, it had all meant nothing. She thought he’d been her knight, saving her from Ron’s clutches. She thought he had changed. But he hadn’t.
“Why are you crying?”
Hermione looked up, startled. There was a child. A small boy. A student, perhaps?
“I’m…I’m not crying,” Hermione replied defiantly.
“Yes you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are!”
“No, I’m…look, kid, why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be in your dormitory?”
“You’re not supposed to be here either,” the boy replied stubbornly.
Hermione looked about the room. It was different now. All of her school years, she’d sought haven in the sprawling library. Before, it had been so chaotic, filled with dust, and it felt so impersonal. But after the war, the renovations had created a comfortable area. Couches, fires, rugs, tapestries…the shelves were even dusted. Then she looked at the boy. He had brown hair, growing a bit long in the front.
“Time for a haircut?” she joked.
Then the boy looked up. He had the most peculiar eyes. Almost like liquid mercury. She could be mesmerized by those eyes…they seemed to drown her sorrow away. Time and space meant nothing, not with the silvery orbs guiding her through eons effortlessly.
“Dad thinks my hair’s fine,” the boy muttered.
“Whatever. It’s not my problem. Why don’t you go off to whatever house you belong to and go to bed like a good child?”
“I’m a Gryffindor, thank you very much, and I don’t feel like being a good child,” he replied stubbornly. “And I have a name. I’m Altair. You can call me Al though.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Al. I was a Gryffindor once too.”
“My mum says that you’re always a Gryffindor. There is no ‘was or is’.”
“She sounds like a wise woman, your mum.”
“Oh she is. She’s the best. I love my mum, probably more than my dad. But you never answered my question: why are you crying?”
Hermione shot Al a look that was scarier than Lucifer.
The boy didn’t flinch.
“What, you think just cuz I’m a kid that I can’t understand?” he asked defiantly.
“No…fine. It goes like this. I just came back from Paris. I’d been gone for eight years, hiding away from…I guess you could say old skeletons in the closet. I met this guy…I saved him from dying. We knew each other from before. He was a Slytherin, and we didn’t really see eye to eye, you know? But after that, he changed. He saved me from embarrassment twice, and I thought that perhaps I could be falling for him, even after I swore that I wouldn’t. Yet tonight, everything has fallen apart. He saw his ex tonight. And it’s obvious he’s still in love with her.”
“Of course he’s still in love with her! How long have you been back, a week? He can’t get over mourning for a girl in one week. Geez, give him some time, lady.”
“I have a name too. I’m Hermione.”
The boy’s jaw dropped.
“He’s a Slytherin, you said?”
“Yes…a notorious Slytherin, you might say.”
“Don’t give up. Please don’t. I know he might act like a git, but he will love you.”
“How can you be sure…besides, what if I don’t want to love him?”
“You will,” the boy replied softly.
“Are you a Seer or something?”
“Just promise me you won’t give up?”
The boy started walking away as he spoke.
“Just who are you, exactly? What’s your real name?”
“I am Altair. I’m Altair Remus Malfoy. Promise me you won’t give up, Mum.”
Then the boy rounded the corner.
Mum?! Hermione shot up, sprinting after him. When she turned the corner, there was…nothing. He’d vanished.
She must have fallen asleep. There was no way…then an owl swooped down, passing her a letter.
I’m glad you just met Altair. This must be so disorienting for you, but Altair will be your son one day- provided everything goes according to the plans. I can’t tell you too much without altering the future, but Altair is the child that is often described to be the most like you out of all of my children. I don’t know how he managed to break the barriers of time to find you, but I have a suspicion that this won’t be the last you see of the future. Be alert. And give Draco another chance, please.
All my Love,
Mrs. H. Malfoy
This was crazy. Hermione had enough with these games. Someone was trying to prank her. But as she wandered closer to the entrance, she saw the ballroom. Everyone was starting to dance now. Except for Draco. He sat at his table, looking around the room anxiously. Then his eyes caught hers. Those metallic spheres bore deeply into hers. He broke out into a grin, stood up and met her across the room.
“I was beginning to worry when I couldn’t find you. Care to dance, milady?” he smirked.
“And here I’d thought you’d almost grown out of that smirk, Draco Malfoy,” Hermione teased.
She took his hand and off they went, twirling forever…until she heard a scream. The room was plunged into darkness and chaos overtook the crowd.
“Do you trust me?” Draco whispered.
“Then hold on to me. Find a way to grab Potter and Weaselette. This is no ordinary blackout. This has something to do with the Mangiatori di Morte Rinasce…the new death eaters.”
So firstly, I hope this was a fun chapter to read. I'd absolutely love you if you'd leave a review- even one word can make me smile. I like to know that readers enjoyed elements of the chapter. And secondly, I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, surrounded by family and friends.
Until the next chapter, Madamoiselle Malfoy