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Chapter 8 : Getting Too Comfortable...
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It had been almost three weeks since the party of war heroes (and one former Death Eater) arrived at Draco’s Manhattan apartment. By night, they’d gone to see Broadway shows, they’d eaten at delis and 5 star restaurants alike, and they had strolled along in Central Park. They’d visited art museums, seen concerts…Draco wanted to ease everyone’s minds. Especially Hermione’s. He hated to see her worry. By day, they’d planned out details of their return: who they would contact, where they would first go to, what their defenses would be, and, most chilling of all, who to leave if they needed to get someone inside.
“Me, of course,” Harry said at once.
“They’d kill you for being the symbol of hope,” Ginny replied.
“Don’t be silly. It ought to be me. I’m clever enough to get out of a bad situation,” Hermione argued.
“They’d kill you on the spot for being Muggleborn,” Draco countered.
“It should be me. I’m strong enough to manage it. I worked on the inside while you guys were off destroying Horcruxes, remember?” Ginny suggested.
“Out of the question. You are pregnant.” Harry’s eyes were as cold as steel.
“It has to be me,” Draco whispered.
“No. It can’t be. You’re a blood traitor now,” Hermione hissed furiously.
“I can always lie. I can say I was pretending to save my own skin. No one would dispute that. Slytherins care only for themselves, after all.”
“That’s not true,” Hermione replied stubbornly.
Harry nodded in support.
All four were too stubborn. They all wanted to be the one to stay, and no one was willing to compromise. Save for that, all the details were thought out and Hermione grew more and more tense. At nights, she tossed and turned around. In an effort to keep Hermione calm, Draco proposed a date night.
“Potter, you can take the Weaselette- sorry Ginny, some habits die hard- on a lovely date and I can take Hermione out as well.”
Ginny’s eyes lit up at the prospect of a proper date. She hadn’t been on one since…well since the Ball. As for Hermione, she was just about to say no when she saw Draco’s eyes. They were soft, like they’d been the day they’d eaten a sundae at Harrod’s. Ever since they’d started planning for another war, Draco’s eyes had hardened. They were similar to the boy at Hogwarts, whose idea of friendship came in the form of two boulders named Crabbe and Goyle (although Draco maintained that the two were extremely loyal, if only because they had no brain cells with which to start a revolution).
“That sounds lovely,” Hermione said, startling herself. She couldn’t be selfish. She couldn’t insist on making everyone morose due to her anxiety of returning home. Draco’s face broke out into a grin, and he drew Harry away for a half an hour to plan the day. Ginny looked at Hermione with a smile.
“Don’t look so upset, ‘Mione. It’s as if you don’t want to go out.”
“Not when there’s a war about to start,” Hermione whispered back.
“You’re afraid of losing him, aren’t you?”
“Draco. You’re falling for him. Don’t even deny it. And now you’re worried that you’ll lose him.”
Hermione was mortified. She was not falling for Draco Malfoy. Fine, maybe only a little bit. But there was no way her fate was going to be dictated to her. She could not fall for him.
And that is why, when Harry and Ginny set off for their date, Hermione slumped off towards Draco.
“Don’t worry, I’ve planned an amazing day,” he smiled, attributing Hermione’s reluctance to her nerves. And really, how stereotypical could that be? the feminist in Hermione thought.
Harry led Ginny out of Draco’s posh Manhattan flat and towards a driver that Draco had called for them. Ginny’s face was flushed in excitement.
“Harry, where are we going to go? Am I dressed properly? Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have worn these wedges…”
“Relax, Gin, you look absolutely beautiful. And don’t worry, you are dressed perfectly.”
He couldn’t help but admire his beautiful wife. With her airy blue dress, her white wedges, and her hair in a simple fishtail braid, she looked ethereal. And she would love where she was about to go.
A little while later, they pulled up in front of Central Park.
“Not yet, just a little bit further,” Harry coaxed.
Then she saw it. The boathouse. Harry rented a boat for the day. He’d packed a light lunch for them as well, filled with her beloved pickles, and helped his ladylove into her fluvial carriage.
“Harry, this is beautiful,” she breathed.
He was happy. He knew she would want something in the outdoors. His first inclination was to do biking, but did not want to risk Ginny in her condition. So he took the second pick, a boat ride that seemed to last an eternity.
“Harry, if anything happens to me during this war…”
“Nothing will, so you don’t have to worry about it,” he said immediately, cutting her off.
“Harry, listen to me please. If anything happens, promise me you’ll keep our baby safe. Promise me that you will raise him to be a risk taker, to be the Weasley that I am- not Ron’s Weasley version, if you please- and most of all, to be able to love as much as you do.”
Then the tears started.
Harry rummaged around for a pack of tissues. Ginny was exceptionally hormonal during her pregnancy, so for her sake as well as his, he now carried tissues on him at all times.
“Please. Just promise me. I don’t have a great feeling about this war.”
“I promise, Gin. But I also promise that I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
“Are you bloody joking, Harry James Potter? Please, whatever you do, do not say that! You sound like that bloody vampire from Twilight…Edward, his name was? Over-protective git, that one.”
And Harry laughed. There was the Ginny he loved. The one who could turn from sobbing one minute to shouting in fury about a fictional character that she couldn’t stand. He loved Ginny Potter, nee Weasley, with all his heart.
After floating around several hours more, sharing laughs and tears alike, Harry noticed it was getting a bit cool out.
“Are we leaving?” Ginny frowned.
“Um…something of the sort, yes,” Harry replied. After helping Ginny out of the boat, he led her to the boathouse itself.
“It’s amazing, Harry.”
No, you are, is what Harry wanted to respond with. But he just said, “Anything for you, Ginny.”
As they ate in the infamous Central Park Boathouse, Ginny and Harry felt as if no worry could ever hit them. They were strong, they were resilient and they would survive.
Draco and Hermione’s day was a bit different. The first thing that happened was that Draco handed Hermione an outfit to change into.
“Are we doing yoga or something?” Hermione asked, bemused, as she changed into black tights and a t-shirt.
“You’ll see,” he replied mysteriously.
They entered another car, but their destination was Chelsea Pier. But instead of heading towards the Boathouse, Draco brought Hermione to the Sports Center.
“How are you about heights?”
Then Hermione saw the monstrosity before her.
“Do you expect me to climb that?!” she shrieked.
“It’s not that bad.”
“No. No, absolutely not!”
“Too chicken, Granger?” he cocked his eyebrow.
Hermione looked around her. There were ropes, this was true. But what if it didn’t work? What if she fell and died? She couldn’t exactly pull her wand out and place a cushioning charm around herself now could she? This place screamed danger to her. Then she looked at Draco. His face was so smug. He was taunting her, knowing the internal battle she was fighting.
“Aren’t Gryffindors supposed to be brave?” he asked lazily.
That did it for her. She marched up to the front counter and asked for a thing-a-ma-jig to rope herself into the wall with.
“A harness?” the young man on duty asked.
“Is this your first time climbing?”
“Then you’ll need to have a quick lesson first.”
The youth led Hermione and Draco over to a basic wall, where he first went over how to tie yourself into a harness properly. Then he introduced the grigri, which he explained helped you stay mid-air and would catch you if you fell. Then he did something that caught Hermione off guard. After she’d practiced the knot on herself, he checked it before clipping the grigri onto Draco’s harness.
“Ok, now climb.”
Timidly, she began her ascent. Beads of sweat formed as she concentrated on footholds, fearing for her life as she lifted her arm to reach a rock.
“C’mon Granger, at least get your foot off the ground,” Draco’s voice interrupted her.
Hermione blushed. She wasn’t even in the air yet and she was already sweating.
After about 10 minutes, and many taunts from Draco, she made it up to the top of the 5.4 marked wall (which the youth had assured her was the easiest they had). Draco quickly learned how to lower Hermione properly, and when she was down, inhaling breaths of relief, he asked:
“Now, that wasn’t so hard was it?”
Hermione wasn’t sure if she should smack him or not.
They reversed the roles. Draco scampered up the wall in less than two minutes, leaving Hermione fumbling as she tried to lower him.
“Merlin, Granger, I thought you’d almost dropped me there,” he teased.
“Shove off,” she grumbled.
As the day went on, she grew slightly more comfortable- read: she did all of the walls that she saw young children doing- rock climbing, and Draco took on many challenging courses.
He even made her do something called Bouldering. While she’d first liked the walls due to their shortened height, she soon learned to appreciate a lifeline in the form of rope after experiencing several falls to her bum and bruises to her pride. As she and Draco walked out of the rock climbing gym, sore and chalky, she realized that was the most fun she’d had in the longest time.
They returned to the flat to freshen up. After her shower, she noticed Draco had left a dress out for her with a note:
Your dressing is abysmal. Let me help.
She laughed, threw the note in a rubbish bin, and stepped into the dress. Only Draco would be able to insult her without riling her up. It wasn’t always that way. But that was the relationship between them; one of jokes and teasing, but also of loyalty. The Ron-spat had proven that. Even after she had let go of all contact between them- just for Ron- he still held no grudge.
Dinner was perfect that evening. Draco took her to a restaurant called One if By Land, Two if By Sea. Honestly though, the highlight of the evening was not the meal, but the quality of their conversation. They entered a debate over whether or not Shakespeare was a Muggle-
“Of course he wasn’t; don’t be daft. How else could he have created that much detail about magic?” Draco scoffed.
“It’s called imagination, Malfoy. Do you need one?”
“Funny, Granger. Isn’t that why you weren’t a Ravenclaw? No imagination?”
“How’d you hear about that?” Hermione hissed.
“I’ll only tell you if you admit that Shakespeare wasn’t Muggle.”
“Are you joking? He was simply a talented Muggle. Besides, there are disputes over whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote his plays!”
The banter only continued. But they both loved it. When they got back, Harry and Ginny had long since gotten in, so they quietly prepared for bed. It had been such an enjoyable evening, and they both fell asleep quickly.
Hermione was walking in a stone courtyard. It looked very familiar. As she heard the hoot of an owl, she realized why: she was back at Hogwarts. The smell was wonderful. There were evergreen boughs all around the hall, and candles flickered. But as she strolled further towards the library, she realized something was wrong: where were all the students? Staring down, she realized she wasn’t quite human here. Her hands were almost translucent, and it went straight through the wall she was leaning against. She too fell through.
The scene before her was grim. The entire school, as well as many notable alumni, was gathered, dressed in black wizards robes. Tears dripped down many faces as Lavender Weasley, nee Brown, stepped up to the podium.
“Hello everyone,” she said shakily. “I would like to thank you for coming to my Won-Won’s funeral. I know this has been a hard month for everyone, with Professor McGonagall’s murder and all, and I know it won’t get any better. Ron, well, he was my everything. I loved him so much; I was so jealous when he was with anyone else, and so possessive when he was mine. I loved him so much because he was such an amazing man. He was kind, sincere, and willing to sacrifice anything for his friends. And that’s what he did. Harry Potter, Ginny Potter, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy left Ron to die. But he did what he needed to. He died, and saved a school of Muggle children in the process. He may not be the one to save us. But he is a hero in my heart nonetheless. I am sorry my children will grow up without a father, but I am proud to know that I can tell them how their father saved many children’s lives selflessly.”
With those parting words, Lavender broke down crying. Mrs. Weasley was there, sans Mr. Weasley it seemed, and only half of the Order was in attendance. Parvati was there, along with Seamus and Dean. Notable was Luna’s absence.
Hermione felt a tear trickle down her cheek.
“This is what’s going to happen.”
She spun around.
There was a girl. A girl about six years old. She was just as translucent as Hermione was. She had long, dark brown hair, and was staring at Hermione with her big brown eyes.
“This is what’s going to happen if you don’t come back soon. If you stay in New York much longer.”
“Ron…Ron’s going to die?”
“He escaped that night, you know. But some people didn’t. Professor Slughorn is a prisoner right now. So is Luna. You can save them still. But you can’t linger in New York.”
She was rather articulate for a six year old…
“You’re my daughter, aren’t you?” Hermione asked.
Strangely enough, after Altair, anything could be possible to Hermione.
The girl started crying too.
“Mummy, please. Please, you have to come back. You have to save Uncle Ron, and Nana McGonagall…and Grandpa Arthur. And Auntie Luna. They’re all going to die.”
She wrapped her tiny arms around Hermione.
“Shh…it’s ok. It will be ok.”
They stood there, the two of them, silently for a long time until everyone had processed out of the Great Hall.
“So are you the Elizabeth Rose Malfoy?” Hermione asked.
“No. Elizabeth’s my older sister.”
How many kids will I have, Hermione thought to herself.
“I’m Lyra. Lyra Jean Malfoy.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Lyra,” Hermione smiled.
“Will you come back, Mummy? Please? I don’t want Auntie Luna and everyone else to die.”
“I don’t want them to die either…how long have I been gone for in this time?”
“Well I plan to be back by then,” Hermione laughed nervously.
“The longer you spend in New York, the less incentive you have for returning. You’re starting to settle into a routine there. You’re becoming comfortable. But you have to return now. Promise me please, Mummy. Promise me that you will return as soon as you can!” the girl begged.
“Don’t you worry, pet. I will return,” Hermione soothed. “How is Altair?”
“He’s being a prat right now. He took my Nimbus starter away.”
The girl nodded eagerly.
“Daddy is teaching me. He says Al’s jealous because I’m a better flier than Al was when Al was six. Daddy says that I’m going to be captain of the Slytherin team when I go there.”
“Tell him you’ll be captain of whatever house you get sorted into. Not just Slytherin,” Hermione laughed, defending her house.
“That’s what you always say, Mummy. You say that since Lizzie’s a Slytherin and Al’s a Gryffindor, that I can be whatever I want to be.”
“You’re going to go now, Mummy.”
Everything started to blur around Hermione. Even the girl was blending with the background.
“Bye, Mummy! Don’t forget your promise!”
Hermione jolted out of bed with a gasp. Sweat poured down her face and she looked at the clock.
It read: 4 AM.
It had been a dream. But it had seemed so real. It couldn’t have been a dream. Altair hadn’t been a dream. Surely Lyra was just as real…well, she’d find out soon, wouldn’t she? After all, dear Mrs. Draco Malfoy had sent her a note last time…
A note appeared at her bedside table.
You’ve met your youngest daughter, Lyra Jean Malfoy. I’m sorry you couldn’t have met under happier circumstances, but I assure you, Lyra has probably just saved many peoples’ lives by finding you. Altair is the most like you, and Lyra’s probably a blend between you and Draco. Now, I have to urge you not to start screaming for everyone to wake up. They’ll just think you’re being ridiculous. Try to talk to them rationally; don’t let your temper intervene. Everyone’s starting to get comfortable now, so you may have to show them your memory in order to change their minds. I hope you meet the rest of your kids soon. I know you’re starting to like Draco, so promise me you won’t start blocking him off. And speaking of promises, Lyra mentioned a promise you made her? I suggest you fill it. Be brave and be careful.
Best of Luck,
Mrs. H. Malfoy
Hermione grabbed a box from her nightstand drawer, and put the note from her older self into it. The rest of the notes were already housed in this box, and she’d made sure it had the ultimate protection: it was only accessible by blood identification as well as a password and thumbprint analysis. She wouldn’t take any chances. No good could come from knowing the future.
As she lay down to fall asleep once more, she started thinking:
Rest of my children…I’ve met Altair Remus Malfoy and Lyra Jean Malfoy. I know there’s an Elizabeth Rose Malfoy. So there’s at least one other child. The two have star names…Elizabeth doesn’t…he’s named after Remus…she’s named after my mum…
She fell asleep to silver and chocolate, wondering what else would come her way.
Questions? Comments? Getting excited?! There's definitely going to be a bit more conflict in the coming chapters. Hermione's going to be facing many battles (some metaphorical), and there will be many visits from the future as well as the past...
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