Chapter 13 : Hermione Dances
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There were reactions in the Evening Prophet. Loads of people congratulated me on demonstrating such a quick mind and the ministry encouraged everybody to let them be inspired by me and never lose heart, no matter how powerful the opponent seemed. Between the lines however there was a surprising lot to learn about the reactions on the other side as well. Voldemort's public supporters expressed disappointment in Lucius or disgust with him for his failure in dealing with me. Some of them used the Evening Prophet to publicly dissociate themselves from him or the whole family. Some went as far as openly thratening him.
It took me very long that night to fall asleep, and when I did I didn't sleep very well. I kept waking up, thinking somebody had come into my room, and in my dreams I was running away from faceless wizards who always seemed to be smarter than I and at least one step ahead of me. I kept turning around corners and coming upon items, just regular everyday things, that had been enchanted to kill me. I don't know why my subliminal made them faceless, I was pretty sure I knew who they represented. I was rather impressed by the images my subliminal came up with. In one dream I was trying to get rid of an alarm clock I had been given, which had been enchanted to chime the hour of my death. I didn't know when it would be but I knew that it would be soon and when it did I would die. I couldn't get rid of the clock. Somehow all these dreams seemed to be about me having no other way out but to accept the fact that I was going to die.
When I got up I was feeling very tired and very angry. I was never going to accept it if somebody else decided that it was time for me to die. I might have given away most of my control over my own life, but this I would not let somebody else decide for me.
I was very pleased therefore when Professor McGonagall called me into her office to inform me that my mugle self-defence classes would begin this very morning. She also introduced me to two aurors, two women named Morgaine Knight and Holly Star, who would be taking it in turns to take care of me. They would actually share my room, making sure that nobody could get me while I slept and would accompany me all day long. These two women had no other job than being my shadow and maing sure I survived. I was really reliefed.
„Thank you“, I said, „I appreciate this so much! And I'm so sorry I am giving you all so much trouble.“
Holly, a woman around my real age, with a mop of brown curls, laughed. „Totally worth it. Lucius Malfoy is under a lot of pressure right now. This is a very positive development of things.“
„People are being inspired by you“, said Morgaine, who looked a little older and straight long black hair, „they are saying, the Mother of the Future is exeeding all their expectations.“
„I wish they'd stop calling me that“, I bit my thumb, „it's freaking me out.“
„Quite understandable. But for us in the Order you have become a very effective kind of weapon.“
„Jeez Louise, that's even worse. I'm not a weapon. Do you think I know half of the time what I'm actually doing?“
„Miss Granger“, Professor McGonagall said, „the offer is still on. Anytime. If you want to talk to somebody, we will bring somebody in.“
She then explained the rest of the security measures to me, all sorts of spells and enchantments and I didn't understand half of them. She obviously had saved the biggest news for last. Lucius Malfoy would be coming to Hogwarts on Friday. There had been some meeting of the governors and Lucius had volunteered to talk to the headmistress about what had been decided.
„Obviously he has offered to come to Hogwarts before this all happened. If things keep going down this road for him he might not be school governor anymore by Friday“, she said.
I thought she might be underestimating him. I hadn't forgotten what Draco had said. 'He always finds a way out'... Draco!
„It's Draco's birthday on Friday!“
„Is it“, McGonagall said, „I imagine, that might have had something to do with his choice of date. Well, Miss Granger, we will find a simple solution to this. I will speak to Madam Rosmerta. If Madams Knight and Star accompany you, Mr Malfoy and your friends to the Three Broomsticks, and if we can station additional aurors in the pub...“
„We will have someone at the doors collecting customers' wands on arrival“, Holly mused, „they will get them back when they leave. We will just have aurors carry wands. This way even if Mr Malfoy shows up at the Three Broomsticks he won't be able to do anything to you, Helena. He might even be outraged to be asked to hand over his wand and decide to not even go in.“
Morgaine stayed on for her first shift. She accompanied me to my first self defence class and watched fascinated as Owen, the instructor, explained to me how I needed to hit my opponent to knock him out, how I stood correctly so that in a fight I wouldn't that easily be thrown off balance and loads of other things. It was wonderful. It was as if I had been waiting for someone to show me how to fight for all my life without knowing it. Or maybe it was my recent experiences that made me hungry for it. I drank in everything he taught me. Then he put on padding and we went into practical practise. I loved it. He was much taller and much bigger than me and there I was beating and kicking away at him for hours. I could see Morgaine thought it to be quite barbaric and non-elegant, I could see it in her face. But I seriously didn't see any difference from the Cruciatus Curse. If anything this way was more honest.
After a good long training session we returned to our room so I could have a shower before lunch. A second bed had appeared in my room and I realised I would have to come clear with McGonagal about my relationship with Draco. Otherwise, what were we going to do, now that I didn't have my own room anymore?
Later that day there was a knocking on the window and when I opened it a snowy owl came flying in. I untied the little piece of parchment from her foot, she gave me a deep and very intentional scratch and took off again without waiting for an answer. I sucked my finger and read the parchment.
I have acquired a new wand. I trust you are not stupid enough to leave the castle. I will be there if you do.
I sighed, staring at his bold, clear letters. Was this a threat? Or a warning? He had actually sat down and written to me. This was something from him, something more substantial than my bruises, that reminded me of him. Still it wasn't anything nicer than those bruises. Realistically it probably was another death threat. And I was sitting here like a besotted silly retard. I shook myself and handed the letter to Morgaine. She studied it interestedly, but explained to me that since Lucius didn't explicitely threaten my life in those words they couldn't at this moment do anything about it. I took the letter back and put it away.
In the following days I got a lot of mail. Most of it was from people I didn't know who wanted to express who inspired they were by what I had done and who wanted to let me know that they would fight back. This was nice. But also bizarre.
That afternoon Draco didn't have any classes. The weather was grey and icy cold and we went ice skating on the lake. It was lovely, wrapped up warmly we had lots of fun, both being not very good at it, while Morgaine, who turned out to be excellent, effortlessly circled around us, never intruding on us, but always watchful and making me feel safe. A little while later Hermione, Ron and Harry joined us. Hermione had obviously had more practice than I had in the last seven years. She shot around like a pro, pirouetting and when we all cheered, she just laughed, posed and gave us a very un-hermionesque wink. I suddenly remembered a sister thing from our past.
„Strike a pose“, I said, framing my eyes between my hands.
Hermione immediately got that I was referring to the video of Vogue, burst out laughing and started dancing. Back home when we had both still been living with our parents, this had been our routine. It was 1990, the year before we learned Hermione was a witch, I had been the big sister, Hermione had been ten or eleven years old, and I had made her dance with me for hours.
I sang. I couldn't believe I remembered the words. I was even more impressed that Hermione remembered the moves.
„Madonna!“ Harry smiled. Obviously he had grown up in the muggle world, too, but Morgaine, Ron and Draco looked utterly bewildered. I joined Hermione in the hand moves. There was no way I could have done anything on those ice skates.
„It makes no difference if you're black or white“, Hermione sang, „a muggle or a witch... you're a superstar, yes, that's what you are, you know it!“
„Come on, vogue“, I joined and we danced around like silly, carefree children. It began to snow. Ron, Harry and Draco were now laughing and nodding their heads with the rhythm. Hermione broke finally down, laughing. Ron caught her. „You are beautiful“, he said. Draco saw only me. Pulling me towards him he whispered, „You're amazing.“ Then he grinned at Hermione, Harry and Ron. It was the first time I saw him grin at them naturally, without being wary if they might end up in a fight. It was the first time we all just got on, as if those four didn't have all that history of hatred.
We walked back to the school arm in arm, Draco and I. Morgaine was walking behind me, never saying a word.
In the evening I wanted to be with Draco. He came into our room, and Morgaine tried her best to not be in the way, by lying on her bed and pretending to read. It was very awkward. I wanted to ask her to go outside and go for a walk, but realised I also didn't want her to leave. I felt safer with her around. In the end we couldn't come up with a solution, so gave up any hopes of intimacy for that evening. Instead Draco asked me about Hermione's and my Vogue impression and wanted to hear more muggle songs. I thought back to the time when Hermione and I had danced together in my parent's living room and sang him The Shoop Shoop Song by Cher. Draco grinned. He looked so changed from how I had first met him. I loved his smile. I loved it, that he looked so happy.
„All these songs are really old“, I explained, „they were very successful“, and then my voice simply faltered. I couldn't continue to speak and realised I had been about to say, 'when I was about your age'. So instead I said, „They were big around the time when Hermione left home to start at Hogwarts.“
I had to tell him. I hated lying to him. I decided to negotiate with McGonagall the next day. It was time I began taking charge of my own life again.
Wednesday morning at breakfast I talked to Hermione. I had finally had an idea what I could give Draco for his birthday and Hermione laughed and agreed to help me. Then she looked at me and said tentatively, „You actually do like him, don't you?“
First I didn't know what to say. Then I just smiled. I was so happy to no longer have to lie. „I do, sweetpea“, I said. „I really do. More than like him.“
She nodded. „I saw you both together. How shocked he was, when he saw you coming back looking like this... how you both were so sweet with each other yesterday on the lake, before you noticed us coming...“
„It got out of control. I'm in love with him.“
She didn't look surprised. „Helena, just tell me, and please don't get angry with me for saying this... are you sure you're really in love with him, and not just overreacting because you're traumatised after being nearly killed?“
I shook my head. „I was in love with him long before I went to Paris. I was just afraid to tell you.“
Hermione pulled a face. „I can't blame you. I guess we've all been rather hard on you, how we kept telling you that we all hated him and that we all thought he was the last person in the world anybody right in their heads would want to go out with... I see he is actually really changing though since you have been around. It's incredible. I would never have thought it possible that Draco Malfoy can actually be sweet.“
A/N: The lyrics are from the song "Vogue" by Madonna.
At last Helena has told Hermione that she likes Draco. This seems to be the least dangerous of all her secrets. How do you like this chapter and how do you like the story? Please let me know xx
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