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Chapter 16 : Summer Break
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Draco hoisted himself onto the tabletop Hermione was already leaning against. It was the last potions class of the year and Snape had asked both of them to stay after class.
“Move over, Malfoy.” Hermione pushed his legs, which were brushing up against his crossed arms.
He swung his feet sideways and kicked her. “Make me.”
She pushed him harder and he began to move. She starting pushing him off the desk, him scratching at the tabletop like a cat.
“Stop it, you great ox.”
“Maybe if you had some muscle on your scrawny bones,” Hermione giggled.
“Ahem.” Snape cleared his throat. Somehow he had appeared at the front of the classroom, despite no one being able to apperate inside of Hogwarts.
Hermione stopped and went back to leaning against the table. Draco went back to kicking her lightly.
“I asked you both here to talk about the arrangements this summer.” Snape said, “I know we talked after last summer, and decided we’d split the time, so you could both have one month at the cottage alone, but things have...come up. I’m only going to be able to stay at the cottage for three weeks.”
“Great, I can’t come again.” Draco said. He hopped down from the desk and made to leave.
“Draco, I didn’t say that.”
“You were going to! You always pick her over me. The daddy’s girl. The perfect little princess of Hogwarts. She gets everything she wants.”
“That’s not true. You’re the diva, Malfoy!” Hermione said.
“Quiet!” Snape raised his voice, and just like in class, the room went silent. “I’m going to be at the cottage for the first three weeks of the summer. I was going to suggest that both of you put aside your squabbling and your arguing, and we all stay there together. Of course it’s up to you two. If you’re not able to be adults, you can both come for a week and a half each.”
“It will all depend on Granger.” Draco smirked, “She’s the one who starts the arguments.”
“Then it’s settled, because I am perfectly capable of being an adult.” Hermione smiled and picked up her bag. “Are you?”
Hermione traveled to Loch Cottage after the Hogwarts Express ride with Severus again. Draco came by the floo network the next day with his father. Hermione was already upstairs hiding in her bedroom for their arrival.
“Lucius, it’s wonderful to see you.”
“Are you going to be staying for dinner?”
“No, Narcissa has the cooks working on a lovely duck for tonight.”
Draco snuck up the staircase as the adults chattered on. He pulled his duffle into his bedroom and began unpacking. Severus had already laid out linen at the end of the bed and Draco began making his bed. He heard the bed squeak down the hall and got up to see.
Hermione was laying on her already made bed, reading.
“Are you going to study all summer?” Draco said, entering her bedroom and closing the door.
“I’m not studying, Ferret, I’m just reading.” Hermione sat up and put the book down.
“For fun, you are a strange thing, aren’t you? Locking yourself inside all summer for some rotting old books.”
“Actually, Dad was going to teach me to sail tomorrow.”
“You don’t know how to sail?” Draco laughed.
“First you’re making fun of me for being literate, now because I didn’t grow up with my own private loch to sail in.” Hermione giggled, “You really are losing your touch.”
“Am not.” Draco made his way over to the bookshelf and smudged his fingers over all of the spines. There were about a dozen books, mostly novels, stacked on the middle shelf. “You brought all of these with you?”
“No, most of them are Dad’s. He let me keep some of my favorites up here.”
“The Wizard of Oz? Sounds like a load of rubbish.”
“Of course it is, it’s a fairy tale. Honestly, what do you read?”
“Mostly the post. What are you reading there?”
“The Lord of the Rings. It’s a fabulous book, a bit silly sometimes, especially Gandalf. But it makes a lot more sense than the post does lately.”
“Draco!” Mr. Malfoy called up the stairs, “come and say good-bye, would you.”
Draco let his fingers slide from the bookshelf. Hermione smiled at him as he turned to leave.
Hermione spent all of the next day on the loch with Severus. He hauled out a wooden boat, sixteen feet long, the mast and keel, and a tattered old sail he kept in the shed behind the house. Hermione mended the sail with her wand then her dad showed her a spell to paint and varnish the boat. When everything had a new, shiny coat of white, they pulled it down to the water’s edge, leaving Draco up at the house alone. It was all for the better that he didn’t want to tag along, as all three would be cramped in the little vessel. It turned out to be a perfect day for sailing, the sun coming up early to warm the air, but leaving a little wind to fill the sail. Severus, despite his whole life in the magical world, still held that it felt wrong doing some things by magic. Writing personal letters with magic quills for one, sailing for another. He taught Hermione to sail the muggle way, the way he had first taught himself when he baught the cottage for a bit of peace.
The water splashed on their faces as they pulled on the ropes, leaned in and out, and slowly steered around the lake. Hermione sucked in the new vocabulary as she did with everything and watched carefully how her father moved his hands, tied the knots, what he watched for. She copied him completely and by lunchtime, she was able to handle the sail herself as Severus steered lazily. The day became more overcast and he could comfortably look up at the birds in the sky without squinting. They were mostly seagulls, seeming to be moving further inland, away from the grey clouds mounting closer to the ocean.
“We had better get in,” Severus said, “Storms come quickly around here.”
He was right, by the time they got back to shore, they had both felt a few sprinkles of rain, and by the time they had gotten everything back into the shed, the downpour had already begun.
Inside, Draco had made his way through the entire kitchen, a pot of stew simmering away on the wood stove, and a stack of dishes enchanted to wash themselves in the sink. He was sitting at the kitchen table when Severus and Hermione walked in, reading and helping himself to a platter of meats, cheeses, pickles, and sliced bread he had drummed up for lunch.
“What, no freshly baked pie?” Severus said, opening up the oven.
“I’m taking a break,” Draco said, eyes not raising from the daily prophet, “Besides, you hate pies.”
“You hate pies?” Hermione looked to her father.
“You have anything else to read? I’m almost done the paper.”
“You could start studying up for next year,” Snape sat on the table and grabbed a crust of bread.
“You’ve got to be joking.”
“How can you not like pie?” Hermione sat as well.
“You could use the studying, your grades were falling all of last year.” Snape collected an assortment of food onto a napkin.
“What’s wrong with pie?” Hermione said.
“I’m just not a fan of sweets,” Severus smiled and stood. “If it’s going to rain, I really should get some work done.” He stood and kissed Hermione on the forehead. “Stay out of trouble today, and tomorrow all three of us can go for a hike."
“Okay.” Hermione smiled as Snape walked into his office.
Draco went back to the paper as Hermione munched on the platter of food. She stood and walked around the kitchen. The pantries had been filled with food the night before, and now there were two freshly baked loaves of bread on the counter, one sliced and half-eaten. Draco had also made and eaten breakfast while she had sailed, and also begun cooking dinner. She picked up the spoon beside the pot and took a taste of the stew.
“Don’t ruin my stew.” Draco said from the table.
“You did all of this this morning?”
“What else was I supposed to do?”
Hermione moved back to the table. “Relax and have fun? You’re on vacation.”
“I like to cook.” Draco shrugged, “I never get to do it at home.”
“You’re crazy.” Hermione took more cheese and pickles. She hadn’t had lunch yet.
“How can you not like cooking, you’re a girl?”
“And now you’re sexist.”
“Fine, you don’t get any of my stew.”
Draco crossed his arms and scowled. Hermione started to giggle, and soon both of them were laughing. They fell silent after a while and listened to the rain blowing against the windows. The stew simmered on the stove. The fire crackled beneath it. The dishes splashed away in the sink. Eventually, Draco folded up the daily prophet and slid it into the middle of the table.
“You can read it if you want, I’m done.”
“Thanks.” Hermione took it toward her. “Do you want to read one of my books?”
“What have you got?”
Hermione chewed on her lips and her eyes glazed over, a look Draco recognised from whenever she was searching inside her own memory. Her face looked vacant, like she had slipped into a pensive, transported to some giant library in her own mind, full of everything she had ever known. Somewhere in there was the answer. She must have found the book it was in, because she suddenly came alive, jumped up, and ran up the stairs to her bedroom. She came back down after a moment and slammed a thick tome in front of Draco.
“The Lord of the Rings, I mentioned it yesterday. It’s a trilogy and I’m re-reading the second one right now, but here’s the first one.”
Draco looked down at the still picture on the paper cover. “This is a muggle book.”
“There are wizards in it, if that makes you feel better.” Hermione sat back down. “Just give it a try. The first one was always my favorite.”
Draco sighed and flipped to the first page, having nothing better to do on the rainy day.
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