Baby there’s a shark in the water
Saw them barking at the moon
Better be soon.
-Shark In the Water, V.V. Brown.
Warning: Mild Langauge.
Already it was the second day of the reunion. Yesterday after McGonnagall gave a speech in the Great Hall, Hermione, Ron and Harry went roaming the grounds like they had so many years ago. They became completely immersed in the childhood bliss of the old grounds and had full out sprinted when they saw the familiar stone hut on the edge of the forest.
On the way Hermione couldn't help but notice the beautiful serenity of the water as waves lapped gently onto the shore and the way the air created a gentle wind that blew softly. Hogwarts was even prettier now that she was seeing it with adult eyes. When she was a child it was her home, her heart would ache when she was away from it and she'd be filled with joy upon returning but it didn't look quite like this, and Hermione guessed the beauty partly came from the memories, even the horrible ones. She felt like she would still be able to hear the cry's of her friends as they fell to the ground, all sorts of spells flying at them, but the fact that she couldn't really hear them made Hogwarts seem very quiet and peaceful as though a thin film of some sort had been laid across her memories, making them blurry and soft around the edges.
Hagrid had welcomed them in, told them he was still working there, told them how glad he was to see them and then informed them on what life was like at Hogwarts; his beard almost completely grey and his skin sagging under his eyes, creating deep creases across his face. Apparently his life wasn't much different in his little stone hut, and he quickly stopped all conversation that evolved around him and asked them about their lives now. They, in turn, told him what they were doing now and Hagrid was happy to hear Ginny was pregnant again and how little James was doing. He had been unable to make it to the baby shower and hadn't seen any of them since before Ginny was pregnant with James.
Thankfully no one brought up that Hermione was engaged to Malfoy. Harry and Ron decided it was Hermione's job to do so and after finding out Hagrid hadn't gone to Hosmeade in weeks, and with that hadn't seen the papers or heard from anyone else, Hermione decided not to tell him about her engagement. It was going to be over soon enough and she would feel more at ease knowing that Hagrid at least didn't know about it.
The trio had left Hagrid's hut just as a group of people walked by with Quidditch gear and supplies. They called out to the three and said they were going to go play a game of Quidditch and that they wanted Harry to be Team A's seeker and Ron to be Team B's catcher. They weren't doing a game between houses like they used to because of the odd number of people in each house, but Harry and Ron still got rather excited over the idea of a Quidditch game on the old court and immediately accepted the request. Hermione decided to come along as well and took a seat on the benches, smiling in encouragement whenever her friends would look her way. Ginny was the seeker for Team B and it was amazing to see the couple racing along beside each other after the snitch.
Blaise was a beater on Team A but other than that she hadn't seen any Slytherins all afternoon and honestly she found it quite curious but forced her mind from it. It wouldn't do to dwell on the matter. Draco was acting just like he had back at school: aggravating and suspicious. But, as usual, she pushed that from her mind as well, no matter how difficult it was for her. After the game came to a close it was getting to dusk and the group of students made their way back for dinner in the castle. She had looked out for Malfoy during the dinner, unable to completely rid herself of curiosity, and saw him say something to Blaise and then quickly stand up and make a beeline to the doors. Hermione had made her excuses to her friends, something about being too tired to finish her meal, and had followed Draco out of the doors but in what seemed like seconds he was already gone.
Sunlight poured in through one of the Gothic castle windows, lighting up the entire living room and with it waking Hermione. She let her eyelids flutter open, suddenly conscious of the way she was sprawled out on a chesterfield, her hair a curly mess that spread out on the fabric around her. She lifted her head, groggy from sleep, and made an odd moan-like noise from the effort. So she had let herself fall asleep on the chesterfield. How had that happened? She thought back to the previous night and remembered sitting down on the couch, deciding to wait for Malfoy to return to the dorms when she found he was not in his room, but apparently she had fallen asleep instead.
Hermione's ears become alert as a creak sounded from the other side of the room. She immediately sat up and spun her head around to face the noise, her site going slightly from the sudden movement. To her embarressment it was Draco; sitting on a chair with his right leg crossed over his left in a nonchalant manner, and his mouth curved into a teasing smirk as he watched her.
“Morning, Granger.” He said. “Now tell me, were you waiting up for me or did you just take to the chesterfield?” She could hear the amusment in his tone and she grimaced, her vision returning to normal.
“What time is it?” She asked sleepily.
“I think about eleven.” He told her. “Essie came by and left us a slip of parchment from McGonagall. Apparently today we’re all to meet out on the grounds because she somehow got some sort of boat, a muggle contraption I assume, and in small groups we can take it around the lake and when we return to shore there will be a picnic on the grass.” Hermione had to hide a smile, she didn’t really know why but she found Malfoy talking about picnicing and boat-rides a bit of a laugh.
“Well that sounds nice.” She answered, looking down at her already dressed body. She would have to change. She couldn’t stay in yesterdays clothes.
Draco shrugged. “I guess. If you like dull conversation and spending time with professors I suppose it could be rather enjoyable.” Hermione shook her head at him, avoiding his negativity and stood up.
“I guess I’ll get dressed then. What time were we supposed to meet everyone?”
“I think we have about ten to fifteen minutes.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. Wait here.” Hermione told him sternly, not wanting him to walk off in a fluster like what seems to be the norm with him.
The weather outside was practically perfect. It had everything: A light summer breeze, a brilliant blue sky, the lake was calm, and the grass was long and thick. McGonnagall had truly chosen a great week for the reunion. Hermione chose to wear the yellow dress Pansy had given her as she felt it suited the mood, and her and Draco started walking as soon as she came out of her room.
“So... How is, uh, work?” Hermione tried to make conversation a few minutes into their walk when they were heading across the field. She could just make out the outline of a group of people on the grass, and another closer to the water.
“Work? It’s fine.” He answered.
Hermione nodded. “And, um,” She felt that conversation was needed as it was the only way to snuff out the uncomfortable silence, and anyway she was engaged to him, they might as well be able to talk. “How is... the manor?”
Draco turned to look at her, cocking an eyebrow at her profile. “It’s fine, Granger.” He told her, his tone unreadable.
Hermione bit her lip before opening her mouth to speak for a third time, because apparently Malfoy was now too introverted to even hold up a simple conversation.
“Do you feel one must talk when walking?” He asked instead.
Hermione turned to look at him, staring into his eyes as he did hers. “No. I guess I feel that two people should at least be able to make light conversation, though.”
Draco’s mouth curved upwards slightly at the corners. “Do you now.”
“I do. Although it seems you’re too childish to hold up your end.” She turned away from him, her eyes staring at the rather short distance between them and what she could now see was a group of about twenty.
“Okay, light conversation it is.” Draco replied. Hermione waited for him to continue, which he did after a short pause. “The weather is very nice today, isn’t it? Now that’s about as light as it gets.”
“So you can do proper meaningless conversation like any Englishman!" Hermione continued in mock enthusiasm. “Yes, it’s very nice. Probably the nicest weather we’ve had all year.”
Draco nodded in a serious manner. “Definitely. Very blue. The sky I mean; it’s very blue.” Hermione had to hold in a bubble of laughter as they reached the group of others that sat around on the grass with wine glasses filled with different juices in their hands, and little plates with finger sandwiches and watermelon slices. They looked up at the pair, some of them staring a moment too long.
“Hello,” Hermione said, raising her hand at the others. She could feel Draco’s presence leave her side as he walked towards where Pansy and Theodore sat together sipping some sort of dark coloured juice out of their wine glasses.
McGongall sat just to the right of where Hermione stood and she ushered the young girl to come sit and have something to eat. Hermione did so and joined in conversation with the others as she finished two slices of watermelon and a glass of pineapple juice.
At least twenty minutes passed of what Malfoy would call “dull conversation” before six others came towards them from the lake, sitting down and telling everyone what a marvelous time they had on that odd little muggle invention which they believed was called a boat and what a great time it was. Ginny, Harry and Ron were three of those in the group that just got back and Harry seemed greatly amused at what joy the others were taking in from the boat.
McGonagall seemed very pleased that the day she had planned was going over well with the twenty five year olds and eagerly sent the next “batch” of six on their way to the boat, Draco and Hermione part of the group.
Malfoy made sure to walk beside Hermione on their way, he made sure to graze her arm and would often look down at her almost pleasantly just so that no one would think something was off. Hermione didn’t think anyone would, but it seemed that he found it more than likely that the others would be watching for them to slip up.
It was a small, white boat with a large back end with seating enough for seven. It did not have a canopy and the seats were all connected, green leather seats that took up really very little room. At the front of the boat was the steering wheel and it was the old fashioned wooden type. It looked like it belonged on a massive navy ship from the late eighteen hundreds and beside it stood a tall man with dark hair and a big smile.
Once everyone had filed onto the boat it started up, slowly at first but within seconds it was at a good pace over the lake. The man with dark hair was steering and did not turn to face them or make conversation, instead he kept his eyes trained on the water ahead. Theodore was also on this trip, although Pansy was not, and Draco was on the right side of the boat talking to him. Hermione didn’t mind, though. And anyway she had no reason to mind, Theodore was one of Draco’s very best friends and technically she wasn’t actually friends with either of them. Maybe if Pansy or Blaise was on the boat they would pull her into their group but as it was Hermione was by herself. The other two on the ride were Padma Chaven nee Patil and her husband of three years, Marvin Chaven, and they were sharing a seat and acting very much in love.
The water sparkled as the sun hit it, and froffy white waves were created in the water as the boat sped it’s way along the lake. They were around the middle of the lake by now and she couldn’t see the picnikers anymore. Hermione put her hands on the edge of the boat and peered into the dark water. She thought she could see something moving beside the boat but she couldn’t quite make it out so she leaned over the edge, squinting her eyes to see whatever it was below her. The thing moved back and forth, up and down, and as it did Hermione studied it’s form.
The creature moved closer to the surface of the lake, and then quickly back down into the cold and in just that short moment Hermione saw that it was a mermaid. Long and fish-like it looked exactly like Harry had described back in fourth year. Curious, Hermione leaned further over the edge of the boat to get a good look at the mercreature. It was so beautiful and yet so strange. Hermione didn’t understand it and leaned over just a tad more; mermaids didn’t usually come very close to the surface and Hermione supposed it was curious of the boat as she was of it. She had never seen one before except in the stained glass windows of Hogwarts and in books from the library. With a sudden jolt the boat made a turn and to Hermione’s horror her hands slipped off the ledge, her elbows hitting again the edge of the boat and her feet giving out from under her. A cry escaped Hermione’s lips as she stumbled over the edge of the boat and fell into the water.
The lake was cold. So cold. Hermione could hear soft singing from further below her and immediately she remembered she was in the middle of a lake filled with all sorts of mercreatures. Her legs began to kick as she attempted to push herself closer to the surface but the yellow dress was making it difficult and Hermione’s heart was beating a mile a minute as the sound of soft singing filled her ears and the cold of the water enveloped her. She felt trapped and her lungs began to burn for air. Too much water got into her mouth when she fell in and she hadn’t brought enough oxygen with her. She was close to immerging but panic began to over take her as she kicked her way to the surface.
“Hermione!” Padma shrieked as the girl witnessed Hermione tumble off the edge of the boat. In a second Draco was at the edge Hermione fell over and the boat came to an almost immediate halt.
“She fell in!” Padma continued, standing up and pointing into the water. Draco was frenzied as he struggled to get his coat and blouse off, staring at the place Hermione fell in and preparing to get her out.
“Why hasn’t she risen yet?” Marvin asked, walking towards the edge and staring into the deep blue. Draco grunted as the white of his shirt went over his head, his mind racing and adrenaline of the moment pumping through his veins. What was wrong? Why wasn’t she up yet? Draco heard a splash just as his blouse came up over his head and he watched as the un-named driver of the boat dived in, his shirt still on as he made educated strokes towards the place Hermione had fallen. Draco gritted his teeth as he saw the man disappear beneath the water for just a moment, coming back up and bringing Hermione with him. He was holding her to his chest and she was coughing profusely as he swam back to the boat.
The man held Hermione tightly in his arms, and as he did Draco tightened his hands into fists. It was his job to protect her. It had become his job that day at the office. The man with dark hair swam back over to the boat and looked up at Malfoy. An overwhelming feeling of familiarity overcame Draco when he saw the man’s eyes and he had a feeling he knew him from somewhere but he couldn’t place it. The man then, for short enough a moment Draco wondered if it was all in his head, threw Malfoy a smirk and with that Draco knew where he saw him before; and a feeling of distrust overcame him.
Hermione, think. She told herself. She didn’t know why she was having such a hard time coping and she wasn’t sure how she had fallen so deeply into the water. She needed air. Now. Her lungs were screaming, her head was pounding from the lack of oxygen and her limbs were barely moving as she tried to push herself upwards. The sound of their voices felt as if they were pulling her down, weakening her. But they weren’t evil mermaids. They don’t kill without reason. But they’re voices... Block them out. But she couldn’t. They seemed to overwhelm her and pull her down further even if not physically. They were so lovely. Would it be so bad if I just stopped trying? Let myself succumb to their voices? Don’t think like that! Hermione tried to will herself but a feeling of hopelessness overcame her as she realized she had barely moved in the past few moments and it felt like the mermaids song was only coming closer.
She had to use logic. These creatures were very closely related to the Sirens in Greece, the ones that pull sailors under with their voices. They may not be evil but it was in their power even if they didn’t mean it. The yellow dress felt like it weighed a good ton on her back. They continued to sing. Keep going. Keep going. You’re not weak. This is nothing compared to everything else you’ve faced. Keep going.
Hermione let her eyelids fall shut. She told herself it would be just for a moment but deep down she knew it would be for much longer than that, if she ever opened them again, and for some reason it didn’t seem so bad. She could feel herself sinking. Slowly. Her hair floating upwards and the cold of the water only increasing. Something moved in front of her view and immediately the vision of the mermaids came to her mind and she couldn’t help but kick her feet in fear. She had to get to the top. She couldn’t be so weak.
Relief flooded her as she began to push herself further to the top, and was making good progress, but arms came around her waist and Hermione struggled to see through the murky water and could just make out a male figure holding onto her and bringing them both to the top with arm power alone.
They immerged in seconds and immediately the air flooded her. Her exhausted lungs were relieved from the pressure and Hermione could suddenly feel a build up of water in her chest and began to cough. Her mind began to clear and she grabbed a hold of her saviour. What had she done? What was she thinking?!
The man lifted her somewhat over his head, as much as he could in water, and she felt different arms slide around her torso and set her down on a seat. She could barely think. Her body was in the midst of recovering from almost drowning and Hermione hated herself for what had occured although she didn’t really understand it. She had never been that weak before. Ever.
“Is she okay?” A females voice.
“She looks drowned!” A mans.
“I think so.” An unfamiliar voice.
“What do you mean you think so?! She wasn’t down that long-” Draco’s voice.
“Are you okay?” The same unfamiliar voice interupted Draco’s. It came from in front of her and Hermione slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was blurry from water but she could make out the outline of a face and thick, dark hair.
“I-I think so.” Hermione sputtered. Her voice sounded dreadful.
“Well ‘I think so’ is better than a downright ‘no’.” The same voice again.
“Goddammit Hermione, are you okay? What happened?” Draco rushed. Hermione squeezed her eyes back shut. He needed to be quiet. He was talking to fast. She couldn’t think right now.
“Shh,” the other voice said again. “Let her adjust and then I’m sure she’ll tell you everything.” A pause. “You’re her fiance right?”
“Yes, I’m her fiance.” Then there was nothing and Hermione opened her eyes again. She could see and think a bit clearer now.
Malfoy had called her Hermione. But there were others with them, he had to. It was nothing.
“What happened?” Hermione croaked. She could now see Draco sitting to her immediate left, Padma and Marvin standing behind him, the driver crouched in front of her with his face inches from her own, and Theodore slightly behind him.
“We were hoping you could tell us that yourself, Ms. Granger? Or can I call you Hermione?” The man spoke up.
“H-Hermione’s fine. And I saw a mermaid and leaned over. The b-boat made a turn and I fell in. I could hear them singing. I almost drowned.” I almost let myself drown.
“Well, no harm done, yeah?” She turned her head as Draco put his jacket around her shoulders. He was adjusting his blouse over his body and Hermione wondered how it could have come askew and she felt a slight pit of anger in her stomach that a stranger had “saved” her and Draco hadn’t even made an effort. Instead he was sitting there fixing his blouse.
“No. No harm done.” She replied quietly. The man took a seat to her right and put a hand on her cheek and seemed to be examining her eyes.
“Do you feel alright?”
“Yeah. I feel okay.”
“Then it’s decided. You’re going to be fine.” He smiled a toothy grin and Hermione smiled back easily. “My name is John Barman by the way. But you can call me John.” John had black hair, sunkissed skin, a firm jaw, and a very proud, downwardly pointed nose. His attractiveness was not lost on Hermione.
“And what’s your job here, anyway? Besides drive this useless contraption.” Malfoy asked rudely.
John didn‘t seem to mind Draco‘s lack of manners and didn‘t take his eyes off of Hermione. “Why, I thought you knew. I’m the new Defense Again the Dark Arts teacher, of course.”
Authors Note: Hello everyone! I am so dreadfully sorry that this took a whole month to post. I feel like a monster. I'm so sorry and the next chapter shall definitely be up before November! I hope you all had the most lovely of Septembers. Don't forget to review. (I reply to each and every one.) And if anyone would like to make The Reunion a new banner I would be more than happy!
P.S. This would have been up, I'm estimating, four days ago but I had to edit the chapter and resend it into the queue due to using a vulgar word and not informing you, the audience, of mild language so I am very sorry. The vulgar word has now been erased from the chapter. You will never know how sorry I am for this extremely slow update because it took me forever to write this chapter but next chapter will be up A.S.A.P And I might even do a filler in between the next chapter of importance just to cushion the wait.
P.P.S. Nevermind, I forgot to do something when resubmitting the chapter and so this would have been up most likely over ten days ago. This will never happen again. Posting will happen more regularly. I'm so sorry to all of you.
(And Hermione being weak was not just a handy way to introduce John Barman. There may or may not be something more to it. Guess away, my darling readers.)