Chapter 14 : Chapter 13, Welcome Home
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Tink joined me sitting on the bed and we both lay there, gazing up into the multi-colored eye staring back at us. I felt at peace for the first time in a long time, knowing what I know now, and knowing what I knew when I began.
“How about a celebratory feast Miss? I can get us some of your favorites from the kitchen.” Tink was grinning enthusiastically; I didn’t have the heart to tell her no. Besides, I was hungry. She ran off to get the food as I lay back on the bed, looking around my room at my handiwork. It felt good, like making peace with some part of me that was fighting against my own life.
Tink came back and we ate my favorite desserts; pudding, chocolate mousse, treacle tart, and fudge. Finally I decided I was tired and Tink left me with my dreams. I never even realized it was Christmas Eve.
I awoke in the morning feeling rested for the first time since the war. I hadn’t dreamt at all that night so I never awoke screaming. I thought at first that this had been the reason I had woken up, because I had been so rested. But then I saw the small flock of owls perched on my desk. I smiled and sprang out of bed, quickly stepping over to them. There were quite a few, actually.
One from Harry and Ron, one from the twins, and one from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. One from Bill and Charlie Weasley, one from Luna, one from Felicity, one from Neville, and one from Seamus. There was even a letter from the headmistress. I sat down on my bed to open them all before sending thank you letters. I’d already sent out everyone’s presents. Harry and Ron had both gotten their names engraved on a hero plaque I had commissioned at Gringotts. The others were a lot harder to shop for. Neville and Luna got the same, but medals instead of plaques. I had sent Mrs. Weasley a book of muggle recipes for her and Arthur. Ginny would get her present when I saw her. She was spending the week with us. Bill had gotten a brand new skull earring I had shaped myself out of precious metals, and Charlie had gotten a book about healing burns and cuts gotten from Dragons; he always seemed to be injured when I saw him.
I had to hand out presents to my family yet, and I never even thought to send something to Professor McGonagall. Some of these people I really did take for granted. I mentally shrugged and sat down to open them all. First I opened the one from Harry and Ron. It contained a long letter describing their holiday so far, and their regret that I wouldn’t be able to visit due to the party my family was hosting in two days. Harry had gotten me a book entitled Heroes of Today: the Greatest Heroes of Our Time. Inside there was an inscription. ‘Turn to chapters 8, 9, and 10.’ I looked at the index. There were only 12 chapters. I flipped through it slowly. The first 3 were about the people who had died in the war. The fourth and fifth were about the Hogwarts teachers who had served for the war, the sixth was about Minerva, the seventh about Severus Snape. Then came chapter eight. Ronald Weasley. I smiled and read the first paragraph, laughing as they painted him a hero. Chapter 9, predictably, was Harry Potter; I grinned and skipped on to chapter 10, already knowing his story all too well. My gasp surprised me as I stared at the chapter title. Hermione Granger-Zabini. I checked the publish date. Yesterday. Wow. I felt the tears well up and spill over. I quickly flipped to the eleventh chapter, which was about the Marauders and Lily Potter, and then the final chapter, which made me cry more. Albus Percival Wulfric Bryan Dumbledore.
I set the book aside and picked up Ron’s gift. I snorted as I opened the book all about our years at Hogwarts. The Golden Trio; Mischief Managed, Heroics Accomplished was also released the day before. I shook my head and moved on to the next package. The twins had sent me a large supply of their newest products. I very carefully levitated these to a shelf in my closet, wary of what they might do. Mrs. Weasley sent me a Weasley sweater in purple depicting a green dragon sleeping. I smiled as I also unloaded some of her fabulous cooking. Mr. Weasley had sent me an iPod, hearing that I loved music and that this “ingenious muggle contraption” as he called it, could play any kind I wanted. Their family was doing so much better, what with the twins’ joke shop, Ron and Ginny’s hero reward for saving the wizarding world, and Arthur’s promotion to Minister’s assistant. I smiled and wished them all a happy holiday in the thank you letters before sending those owls back.
I reached for the package from Bill and Charlie, starting a bit when I touched it and it shook a little, warm to the touch. I warily unwrapped it then squealed in glee when I found a miniature pet dragon inside. The note labeled it an Egyptian Blue Scale. The dragon was tiny, with green eyes and bluish-purple scales. It looked up at me and blew a heart shaped smoke ring. I giggled and named her Galuarelle. I set her on my pillow, where she curled up and went to sleep. I reached for Luna’s then felicity’s next. Luna’s was a book about Gulping Plimpies, the author was her father, of course. Felicity had given me red lingerie, ‘for when you have that special someone over at night’ read the inscription on the card. I blushed and quickly levitated them to the bottom of my underwear drawer. The books levitated to the shelves above my fireplace.
Neville’s was next. I smiled and flipped through the first few pages of the copy of Exotic Plants from Around the World that he had sent. Seamus had given me a signed West Ham poster that I had no idea what to do with and then all that was left was the letter from Minerva McGonagall. I opened it and read;
I know that you will find this as a surprise when you wake up on Christmas morning, and I know it will seem hard to understand. Hermione, I never told you before, so I am telling you now; I’ve always thought of you as a daughter of sorts to me. I know that you probably figure you have too many sets of parents now, but I will always consider you my star pupil, and my ward. That is why I have a gift for you when you return to Hogwarts. I know you and Draco are fighting right now, but if you two overcome this small challenge and the wedding continues, I have a contribution to make. I have already discussed this with your parents. Hermione, I’d like you to have my wedding dress as your own. It would be an honor to see you wear it on your wedding day, and I think it would suite you divinely. You don’t have to reply now, but please let me know within a week of term resuming. Thank you, and have a great holiday.
Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
I gaped at the letter, tears in my eyes. Slowly I brought myself back to the moment and smiled. It was incredibly sweet of her and I knew that if the wedding were to ever continue, that I would accept her offer. But now it was time to get up.
I went to the shower and washed off all the dirt from the ceiling, the paint, and the smell of turpentine. It felt good to be clean and awake and steady on my feet. I was reveling in each sensation right now. The only thing stopping me from complete happiness was some problem nagging the back of my mind that I couldn’t quite grasp.
I got out of my shower and quickly threw on something to lounge in. Just an old pair of dark jeans and my favorite baby tee. It was purple with lavender writing which said “Make a wish” on the front with a picture of a brown wand on the back emitting a silver spell. I smiled at myself in the mirror, and went down to breakfast with the family.
When I got down there I got tackled. I screamed, first in surprise, then in glee. The flaming red hair really stood out among the rest of my family with our dark locks.
“Ginny Weasley! You scared the Merlin out of me!” I laughed and she grinned. “What are you doing here?” She smiled and looked over to Blaise.
“Blaise and Brandon figured you needed a friend and invited me early.” I grinned at my brothers. Mother smiled and mentioned I should show Ginny to my room, where she would be spending her nights. I grinned, grabbed her hand, and we rushed up to my room, giggling the whole way as I gave her the general overview on the way. We finally got to my room and I helped Ginny unpack a little.
After we had unpacked her things, she flopped on my bed. “This house is so huge! It’s gorgeous!” She rolled on to her stomach as I flopped next to her. “You must feel like a princess living here. I mean, look at this room!” She gestured grandly around us. “Did you paint all this by the way?” I smiled sheepishly and nodded. “Wow Hermione, it’s amazing.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, blushing. Nutmeg, who had been sleeping on the bookshelf awoke and flew over, landing on my knee. I stroked his feathers as Ginny and I began talking. We talked forever, about everything and anything. Tink eventually came up, with a tray of all our favorite foods. I would have to remember to get her an awesome present. I turned on some music and Ginny and I continued to lay around, eat, and talk. I asked her where she had been when I had left for holidays, she replied that she had been taking care of a few loose ends. She asked me about the door flowers, I explained that they were meant to reflect the characteristics of the rooms’ inhabitants.
“So, is Severus coming to the party?” I nodded, munching on a treacle tart. She giggled. “It’s so weird to see him in a good light!” I agreed, fully, but I was getting used to it. It hit me again how easily I had adjusted and slipped into this life. As I was thinking about it, Ginny slid off the bed and walked to the second dresser that had been added just for her. She pulled out a small wrapped package and threw it at me. I caught it unconsciously. “Wow, Hermione, you could play quidditch.” She seemed impressed, I smiled.
“Hold on, I’ll get yours.” I walked to my closet and grabbed the package before sitting on the bed next to her again. She unwrapped the new set of quidditch robes and Great Players through the Ages book I had bought her. I was pleasantly surprised when I unwrapped a new journal from her. She knew I liked to write, but how she knew I was running out of space in my last open journal I don’t know. We hugged and I wrote the first entry:
Journal Entry 1,
The date is December the 25th, the year is 2007.
Today is Christmas Day. Ginny just gave me this awesome journal. I miss Draco, I miss Harry, I’m afraid of Ron. The rest of my family is waiting, along with Ginny. Gotta go.
Hermione Jade Zabini
I smiled and hugged her again, and laughed when I realized she was sitting there wearing the new robes and grinning from ear to ear. “You’re a goof,” I attempted to say it with a straight face. I lasted about 5 seconds before her and I burst into giggles. “C’mon, I better let you pick what you’re going to wear for tonight’s party.” She looked confused. “Please? I have so many dresses, and you and I are the same size now, so please, pick a dress, wear it tonight, and keep it. Besides, some of them are gorgeous and would look way better on you.” I lead her to the closet and told her to think of what kind of dresses she wouldn’t mind wearing. The closet whirred around us and finally came to a stop.
She gasped in surprise and looked at me, slightly alarmed. “Ginny, this is a pureblood house – we use magic on everything, remember?” She giggled and shoved me a little then stepped forward to look through the range of dresses the closet presented. They were all blue, red, green or gold and very stand out-ish. Very Ginny-ish. I grinned and watched amusedly as she walked among the couple rows of dresses presented sighing now and then and grinning from ear to ear. Finally she pulled out a dress of bright turquoise with grey peacock feathers on the front of the bodice. She held the long flowy dress up in front of herself and faced me. I grinned and nodded.
It was perfect for her. Floor length, slightly poofy, and it came with wrist-length white lace gloves and a feather hairpiece that matched the dress. The matching heels swirled up between her and me on the shoe counter. The jewelry counter swirled next to reveal a pale shell necklace that worked great with the outfit and feather earrings that matched the bodice. It was exactly the ones I had been thinking of for her too. I laughed at the giddy expression on her face. We collected up the different set pieces, put it all in one of the clothing set bags the closet presented for us and hung it up in my bathroom for later.
“Your turn!” Ginny grabbed my hand and pushed me into the closet again. I laughed and thought about what types and colors I liked best for tonight and the closet whirled, presenting shoes, jewelry and gowns all at once. I rifled through the many purples, greens, and reds, wondering what to wear when I found a gorgeous purple gown that just seemed to fit me today.
It was a royal shiny purple, floor length gown with a silver beaded design as a built in belt and riffles all the way down from the waist to the floor. The same silver beaded design was at the beginning of the shoulder straps. It was a bit more low cut then I normally preferred, but tonight I felt like being a little more wild then normal. It was the holidays after all. The dress set came with heels in a sandal like design that perfectly matched the color of the dress and earrings that matched the silver bead designs.
I showed Ginny and she clapped her hands gleefully, reminding me for a moment of Tink when we had finished the mural. I laughed and explained this to her and she giggled too. After a moment she looked around.
“Can I meet her?” I grinned and nodded, explaining that Tink would be here this evening to help us get ready for the party. Ginny seemed very excited about this. I laughed.
“Ginny, you look like a little kid on Christmas morning.”
“Hermione, it IS Christmas morning.” We both fell into a fit of giggles. It lasted for a few minutes, long enough that we were still laughing when there was a quiet knock on the door.
*Hermione, grab Ginny and come outside, we are going on a carriage ride through the town. It’s mum’s favorite Christmas morning activity.*
‘Okay Blaise, we’ll be right down to the stables. Let me just find some better clothes for her to go in, it’s a little nippy out.’ He nodded in his thoughts and then the presence was gone. I explained the situation to Ginny and walked to the wardrobe, imagining a slightly thicker winter coat then the one she had brought, as well as snow boots in her size and mine. The closet whirred once more and presented an array of warm coats and boots. We threw on the extra clothes and some mittens and headed downstairs and out the back towards the stables.
As we walked I was once again struck with that weird nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I couldn’t understand what was wrong, but I felt like there was something missing. I shrugged it off and kept walking, telling Ginny a little more about our manor and its grounds. We finally reached the stable and the whole lot of us, Mum, Dad, Blaise, Brandon, Adina, Aiden, Ginny and I all piled into the carriage which still had plenty of room with us all inside.
Mum and Dad talked merrily with Brandon for a while, Blaise was telling Aiden about his female conquests quietly, trying to avoid Ginny’s ears, and Adina was taking photos with the camera I had let her open early, so that she could take photos throughout the day. Everyone knew she was a complete shutterbug. Ginny and I talked about everything and anything, as usual, giggling and laughing. Occasionally I’d point out some landmark or building or favorite spot of mine in the village, the rest of the family would the same now and then.
Suddenly Mum and Dad got quiet, a big smile on their face. The carriage began pulling into one of the apparition points in the village. The lot of the kids looked around wondering what was going on. Blaise suddenly stood straight up as the carriage stopped in front of AP-10. Brandon looked to where Blaise was staring and stood up too, as did Aiden and Adina. They were all grinning just as large as my parents were. I looked around to see a very handsome fellow and a shy looking girl walking towards the carriage from within the App box.
~Hermione, you’re about to meet…~
“Jase! Dude! How ya been!? We didn’t know you were coming! Mum didn’t tell us!” Blaise’s shout totally drowned out Brandon’s thoughts to me. I giggled at the annoyance on Brandon’s face but turned to watch the young man, who I now realized must be Jasone, my older brother, and the girl walk toward the carriage. As they reached it they climbed in, sitting directly across from me and Ginny, forcing Adina to jump sides and sit with Blaise, Brandon, Ginny and I. There was still plenty of room on either side, but with the young girl’s luggage, it was just slightly uncomfortable for her on the other side.
“Hey hey everyone! This is Alise, my fiancé. Alise, this is my mum, Jeneane, my dad Marcus, my brothers Brandon and Blaise, my youngest sister Adina, her twin Aiden and this…” He stared at me, silent. He suddenly was very somber as he gazed at me. The entire carriage was dead silent as he stood up slowly, still staring at me. I held the gaze, not sure why. Ginny was glancing back and forth between him and I. Slowly he reached out a hand towards me. I grasped it and he pulled me up. “Hermione? Itty Mione? Is it really you?” I nodded ever so slowly. “They said you had returned, but I didn’t dare to believe that…That you had come back.” His eyes roamed my face. Suddenly he drew me into a large hug, nearly crushing the breath from me.
“Erm, nice to see you too, Jasone.” I managed to breathe out.
“Oh Mione, I have missed you!” His voice was just loud enough for me to hear as he breathed into my ear. He finally released me and we both sat back down. However, when I glanced around, I saw sad smiles on everyone’s faces except Ginny’s and Alise’s. My mum was even crying a little. I glanced back at Jasone. He was crying a little tiny bit too.
“I’m sorry, but can I ask why everyone seems to take this more seriously than when you guys originally came and got me from the Granger’s?” I was honestly puzzled. Ginny was whipping her head around so fast to look at everyone I feared for her getting whiplash. Jasone smiled sadly at me.
“You don’t remember, do you? My little Aniela.”
“Aniela! My little Aniela!” A voice called from above. I looked at the little girl I recognized as me right away this time. She glanced above her to the balcony hanging over her head. From my vantage point in the line of trees surrounding the edge of gardens at the back of the manor, I was able to see the moments clearly. A young boy, older than the girl by, I would guess, 2 years, stood on the balcony, his hair already reaching down to his ears, was waving at the little Hermione. She waved back up at him.
“JJ!! Hi JJ!! Wanna come play faeries with me?!” Younger Jasone laughed and shook his head.
“Mione, my little Aniela, mother says it’s time to come in and get washed up for dinner. Come along little one. Maybe if you’re real good and hurry, I’ll read you a bedtime story tonight!” Little Hermione clapped her hands together and rushed into the manor, giggling the whole way.
The flashback changed. Now I was watching from the vanity in the room as younger Jasone read younger Hermione a little book. Now and then little Hermione would yell out the next phrase or word, making them both laugh. The memory began to fade as they finished and Jasone tucked little Hermione in.
By the time I awoke from my flashback, everyone had begun their own conversations, I was the only one not talking really. I smiled.
“Hey, JJ, I was wondering, do you still have a copy of Faeries of Dreams?” The look on his face as he glanced up to me was a mix. Joy, surprise, shock, and laughter. I had just called him an old nickname and named our favorite bedtime story all in one go. I remembered.
“I’m sure I can find one, my little Aniela.” He grinned at me, winked, and then turned back to Alise. Every now and then he glanced back at me, and I’d offer an encouraging smile as I chatted with Ginny and Brandon.
AN: What do you guys think? I hope you don’t think the McGonagall thing was too sappy.. In any case, I hope the idea goes over alright. So, now with Ginny in the picture once more, how will the party turn out? We’ll have to see!
Next to come: What will Draco do with all this knowledge? How will the holiday party turn out? What is that nagging at Hermione's mind? What will happen with Jasone? Whatever happened to the Parkinsons and Astoria? All this to come in the next installment of What Is Truth?.