Chapter 21 : The Mother In-Law
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They arrived in a garden full of colorful flowers of all kinds. Creeping ivy covered the sides of trees and archways along a winding pathway leading to a white gazebo in the center.
The entire yard was breathtaking, then she turned towards the house and her stomach dropped. Tremors shook her body and it took everything in her power not to take a step back and apparate out of there while she still could.
“Come on this way.” Draco started leading her towards a small all glass enclosed solarium with a small sitting area.
Her palms started sweating and her breathing became shallow, if she didn’t control herself now she was going to have a full on panic attack.
“Draco I can’t” she tugged on his hand to make him stop.
He turned and looked at her, his dark blonde eyebrows bunched together in concern. “What’s wrong? Are you going to get sick?”
She shook her head and let go of his hand, secretly gripping her wand in her other hand in case she needed to make a quick exit. The last time she was here Bellatrix Lestrange tortured her repeatedly while Draco and his family stood by and watched.
Her forearm tingled uncomfortably where Bellatrix craved the word Mudblood into her skin. Thankfully the scar has since healed and faded, but she could still feel it and see it in her mind. She knew now that Draco wouldn’t have been able to do anything to help her without getting hurt or worse killed in the process. Bellatrix might have been his aunt, but she was just as vicious and evil as Voldmort was. And that he constantly had a death warrant over his head if he so much as stepped out of line and disobeyed orders. But it still upset her that no one other than Harry and Ron and the others held prisoner at the time tried to help her. She thought she was going to die that day and she might have if Dobby and the others hadn’t distracted everyone enough for them to make an escape.
“I don’t know if I can go in there. I’m trying not to be a coward about this, but I really don’t think that I can do this. I promised myself that I would never come here again.”
He looked at her confused and then at the house. It must have dawned on him, because a look of guilt crossed his face. “Shit Hermione, I’m sorry I completely forgot about all of that.” He scrubbed his face with his free hand. “If you want to go back I’ll understand. I’m sorry for making you come here I wasn’t thinking.”
Hermione stared at the exterior of the manor as she contemplated her decision. “I’ll stay,” she managed to say. “We’re already here and I have to remember we’re in the future now, not back in the present day where the war is still fresh on everyone’s minds.”
She reached out and took Crissy from his arms, and held her close. Needing comfort from her little body.
“Do you want me to carry the bag?” Draco asked reaching out his hand.
“Sure.” She slid the bag off her shoulder and started to hand it to him.
Her hands were shaking so badly that she would have dropped it, if he hadn’t taken it from her. Draco slung the bag over his shoulder and grabbed Hermione’s trembling hand in his own, then stepped in front of her. His other hand reached up to cup her cheek.
“I promise nothing bad will happen to you here. Nobody will hurt you again.” He leaned down so he could look her in the eye.
“I know.” She whispered.
“We’ll stay for no more than three hours, then will go home okay?” he told her stroking his thumb along her jaw, which was very distracting for her.
She nodded. He leaned in and kissed her forehead. As he was about to lean down and kiss her again on the lips. Narcissa stepped outside to greet them.
“There you two are. Well come on inside, it looks like it’s going to pour down rain any second now.”
Instead of walking straight inside like Narcissa wanted them too. Draco turned to Hermione, “Ready?” she nodded, and it was now or never.
Before she took a step towards the manor she grabbed hold of his hand, which he gave a reassuring squeeze back. It made her heart skip a beat, because he was trying to prove to her that he did care and understood the turmoil she was currently going through. Taking a deep breath they made their way towards the manor.
Narcissa seemed about the same as Hermione remembered; uptight and rigid. She had perfectly pressed clothing on and not a hair out of place on top of her head. Once they got inside the air of arrogance she had disappeared. In a blink of an eye. In place was a complete stranger.
Narcissa turned to Draco first, and threw her arms around him. “Oh Draco my boy it’s so good to see you. I wasn’t sure if you would be able to make it today.”
Draco seemed just as surprised as Hermione had. “Uh, it’s good to see you too mother.” Her told her and hugged her back, still not letting go of Hermione’s hand.
Hermione was the next victim. “And Hermione, look at you. You’re as beautiful as ever and positively glowing.”
“Um thank you.” She said meekly.
“Well come here don’t be shy.” Narcissa told her holding out her arms.
Hermione stepped into her arms awkwardly not sure what she wanted her to do. Narcissa put her arms around her and lightly squeezed after giving her air kisses along her cheeks.
Before pulling away she cupped Hermione’s face in her hands, “I’m glad you decided to come.” Narcissa told her sincerely.
Hermione nodded unsure of what to say, but she was relieved when Narcissa turned her attention to Crissy instead of herself.
“And my beautiful Cristina, come say hello to your grand-mama.” Narcissa took Crissy out of Hermione’s arms before she could do anything.
She turned to Draco, giving him a questioning look, which he just answered with a shrug. It seemed he didn’t know why his mother was acting so…cheerful either.
“You’re such a pretty girl, and you’re getting so big.”
Narcissa continued to baby talk to Crissy as she held her in her arms. Crissy reached up and pulled a strand of hair out of Narcissa’s prefect up-do. Hermione mentally winced waiting for the backlash when Narcissa shoved Crissy back at her. Narcissa didn’t even flinch.
Crissy stuck the piece of loose hair in to her mouth and began to suck on it, right before she let out the loudest fart known to mankind.
Hermione’s face paled and her eyes went huge as Draco let out a strangled laugh, which he tried to cover up by coughing.
“I’m…so, so sorry. We changed her before we left…I guess she wasn’t…I’m so sorry.” Hermione was mortified…yeah that was a great first impression. If Narcissa was going to get angry now would be the time. But she just laughed.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s completely natural. And it’s just what babies do. They urinate, poop and pass gas, and always at the most inconvenient times. I know firsthand with this one here.” She pointed to Draco. “You wouldn’t believe the toxic odors emitted by him when he was a boy.”
Draco choked and then turned bright red. “Mother.” He warned.
“Anyway it’s funny how a person so tiny can create such a foul odor.”
This was completely surreal. Hermione was having an outer body experience; she couldn’t believe she was standing here talking about bodily functions like passing gas and pooping with Narcissa Malfoy.
“You two go ahead into the library, while I go change this little one’s nappy.” Narcissa told them tickling Crissy’s tummy just like she had seen Draco do so many times.
“Are you sure? I could…” Hermione started to reach for Crissy.
“Oh nonsense you two go ahead, we’ll be back in a minute.” Narcissa left them standing in the hallway.
Hermione looked over at Draco stunned. “Well that went well.” He told her.
Hermione slapped a hand over her face as she shook her head and groaned. What just happened here?
Draco grabbed her wrist to pull her hand off her face. “Come on the library’s this way.”
As they walked down one of the corridors, Hermione realized that the interior of the manor wasn’t at all what she imagined. Instead of rows of portraits of many generations of Malfoy ancestors, there were paintings of floral arrangements and luscious gardens. And instead of creepy gargoyles-like statues filling the various arched niches in the walls, there were statues of cherubs and fairies. Although in Hermione’s opinion those were just as creepy looking as gargoyles.
Even the colors of the walls seemed different, a lot warmer and brighter than the cold, dark gray’s she remembered from before. Of course before she had never been in this part of the manor.
They entered the library and Hermione’s breath got caught in her lungs. The bookworm in her was in awe. There were three entire walls full of books, with bookshelves that were at least three stories high. And a gigantic floor to ceiling arched window that over looked the rose garden behind the manor.
Unfortunately Narcissa was right it did look like it was about to pour down rain any second. Just as she was thinking about it a large bolt of lightning strike the sky followed by a low rumble of thunder, Draco pulled her over to sit down on a love seat in front of the a massive fireplace. Draco sat down next to her as they waited for Narcissa to return with Crissy.
Hermione should have gone with her in case something bad happened, but her gut instinct was telling her that everything was okay so far.
“So has your mother always’ been so…nice?”
Draco ran a hand through his hair. “No, not to my knowledge. It’s a bit unnerving.”
“What do you think she wants to talk about?”
He shrugged. “I have no idea.”
Hermione let out a sigh and put her hands in her lap, sitting straight up on the edge of the love seat, refusing to relax. Draco put his arm around her shoulders, forcing her to lean back against the seat.
“Relax. Nothing is going to happen.” He told her crossing one leg over the other, resting his ankle on his knee in a guy fashion, looking as calm as ever.
A loud rumble of thunder sounded in the distance making her jump. “I know it’s just old habits I guess.”
Draco’s fingers were playing with the pleats in her braid she had running down her back, making her relax just a little bit. “That was pretty hilarious what happened back in the hallway. I didn’t know Crissy had it in her…no actually I changed my mind, I’ve changed her diapers enough to know that she is indeed capable of doing that.” He chuckled.
“It’s not funny.” She mumbled. “And I can’t believe it happened in front of your mother.” She covered her face in her hands bending forward resting her elbows on her knees.
Draco rubbed the back of her neck. “No it was funny. Admit it you wanted to laugh.”
She peeked at him through her fingers and shook her head. “What did you feed her anyway?”
“A jar of that mush stuff you always feed her. I think it said something like beef with gravy, mixed vegetables and rice. It was some sort of greenish brown color and it smelled horrible. But Crissy licked it right up.”
Hermione snorted her face still in her hands as Draco massaged her neck.
“I wonder if her poo will be the same color.”
Hermione slid him a look as if he’d had gone mad.
“What?” he shrugged. “I fed her carrot mush the other day and when I changed her diaper it was orange.”
Hermione shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about this.” She told him trying hard not to smile.
“I mean it wasn’t bright orange or anything, but it definitely had an orange tint to it.”
Hermione burst out laughing, and then slapped a hand over her mouth. “What is it with boys and bowel movements? Every one of them thinks it’s funny to talk about.”
“It got you to laugh didn’t it?”
She rolled her eyes.
“And who says bowel movements anyway? It’s okay to use words like; poop, fart, crap, sh…” she covered his mouth with her hand.
He smiled behind her hand. “Why?” she felt his lips brush the palm of her hand and she refused to feel tingly about it especially since the topic they were talking about revolved around poop.
“Why? Because when your mother walks in here, which could be at any moment. I don’t want to be discussing poop with you.”
“What are you two talking about?” Narcissa’s amused voice came from behind them.
Hermione felt her face heat up as she glared at Draco, her hand still covering his mouth. He winked and kissed the inside of her hand before pulling it away from his face.
Hermione turned to Narcissa. “It was really nothing, other than the fact that Draco was just telling me how he’s been feeling really backed up lately. It’s been making him quite cranky.” It was Draco’s turn to glare at Hermione.
She smiled sweetly at him and patted his knee. “Isn’t that right honey?” He sneered at her, serves him right for embarrassing her like this.
“Oh darling why didn’t you say something. I’ll have Petal bring out some freshly squeezed prune juice. Would you rather have that instead of tea?”
“No mother, tea is fine.” Draco muttered.
Another streak of lightning lit the sky followed by a loud crash of thunder making the walls shake.
Crissy started to get upset and Narcissa rubbed her back. “It’s alright little dove, it’s just a little storm, we’re perfectly safe inside here.” She told Crissy. “You made it just in time before the storm hit.” Narcissa told Draco and Hermione.
Sheets of rain beat against the window. At first there had been an awkward silence between all of them. Crissy kept squirming around until Narcissa let her off her lap and onto the floor, where she started to crawl over to Hermione.
Hermione reached into Crissy’s bag and pulled out her toy dragon and some other toys Crissy could play with.
“So…the place looks nice.” Draco broke the silence.
Narcissa beamed. “Do you like it? I just finished the remodeling and decorating. It was too dark and gloomy before, has been for years. It needed a nice face lift and a splash of color.” She waved her hand and a tea set along with a plate of assorted biscuits appeared on the coffee table between them.
Narcissa poured the tea into the cups and passed them around. Hermione wasn’t in the mood for tea or food for that matter, she was too nervous to think about eating. But out of politeness and also just to give her something to do, so she wasn’t just sitting there fidgeting. She took a small sip and was relieved that it was some sort of ginger tea something that would help soothe her stomach.
Draco broke the silence again. “So mother, what brings us here this evening?” he reached over and grabbed a couple biscuits and pastries off the platter they were displayed on.
Narcissa set her teacup and saucer down. “Do I need a reason to see my only son and his family?” she asked him in a stern tone.
Hermione was surprised to see Draco blush. “Of course not mother. I only meant you wanted to discuss something, something important with us.”
She nodded. “I do, but we don’t have to discuss it right this second. What I want to know is, how is the pregnancy coming along?” Narcissa looked right at Hermione.
Hermione lost in thought almost choked on her tea when she realized Narcissa was talking to her. “Oh um, it’s going well, nothing bad has happened so far.”
“No morning sickness or anything?”
Hermione resisted the urge to snort. “Morning sickness, yes, I’ve experienced that. But it seems to be subsiding a bit…I hope.”
Draco threw an arm around her shoulders. “In fact we have some news to tell you.”
Hermione looked at him from the corner of her eye, news? What news?
“We just found out we’re expecting a boy.”
Oh yeah she forgot that Narcissa didn’t know that yet.
Narcissa clapped a hand against her chest and beamed. “Oh that is wonderful news. A boy, a grandson.” Her eyes filled up with tears and looked like they were threating to spill over.
Draco let the arm around Hermione’s shoulders slide away as he leaned forward. “Mother are you alright?” Draco asked her looked concerned.
Narcissa pulled out a handkerchief from a pocket hidden in her robes. “Oh I’m fine, I just so happy for you, for both of you.” She said looking at Hermione.
Hermione smiled and looked down. Crissy had crawled over to them and was gripping hard on Draco’s pant leg trying to pull herself up. She managed to get into a standing position and stay there only wobbling a bit. But she kept a pretty strong grip on Draco’s trousers. Hermione wanted to reach over and pick her up or sit her back down so she didn’t fall and hit her head on the corner of the table, but she didn’t. Crissy needed to learn to stand and walk on her own.
She hadn’t walked or really stood up since a few days ago when she took her first steps. This now seemed like ages ago. She reached out her little hand, looking like she wanted to grab something. Hermione looked at where Crissy’s eyesight landed.
She chuckled. Draco had a plate of colorful biscuits sitting on a small plate that rested on his lap, Draco noticed too and set the plate aside and picked Crissy up and set her on his lap instead.
He picked up a pink cookie sprinkled with sugar crystals and broke a small piece off and handed it to Crissy, who stuck it in her mouth and gnawed on it. The only bad thing with this was that Crissy was teething, which resulted in a slight drooling problem.
Once the cookie was reduced to slobbery crumbs, Hermione reached over to grab a napkin to wipe off Crissy’s now sticky mouth and slimy fingers.
“So I’ve decided I’m moving out.” Narcissa stated.
Hermione and Draco both looked up at her surprised. Narcissa had a pink tint to her cheeks as if she were blushing. “What?” Draco asked looking dumbfounded.
She cleared her throat. “I’m moving out, out of this manor. To France actually. Marseille to be exact.”
“But why?” Draco asked.
“Because,” Hermione could tell Narcissa was bracing herself, as she took a deep breath. “Because, I’ve met someone and he asked me to move in with him.”
She felt Draco tense up next to her, she casually reached over and took Crissy from his lap incase, well in case he was about to lose it. By the way his face had gone pale and then red, she was afraid it might actually happen.
“That’s nice.” Hermione said trying to break the new tension in the room.
“Do I know him?” Draco asked his mother through clenched teeth.
Narcissa fidgeted and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. She looked almost normal, younger in a way, instead of the cold proper robot of a woman Hermione always thought of her as. “No, no you do not.”
“Well who is he then?” He asked her still tense. Hermione set her hand on his leg trying to calm him down. She was pleased when he actually did relax, even if it was only a tiny bit.
Narcissa cleared her throat again. “His name is William Greenburg.” He’s an artist, a painter as well as a sculpture. He’s originally from London, but has recently moved to Marseille where he owns a charming villa along the coast.”
“Does father know?” Draco asked her.
“No of course not! I’ve had no contact with his since he’s been detained, nor do I want any contact with him ever again. Besides we’ve been legally separated since after the war and then finally legalized our divorce over a year ago. He made his choices and they have forever ruined his family as well as his future. Just because he’s going to be alone for the rest of his life, doesn’t mean I have to be as well.”
“So how did you meet?” Hermione asked.
“Well I was curious about muggle London. Your father never let me go there to see the sights when we were together except when we had to take you to kings crossing to see you off to school. And one day about six months ago I was curious and decided to go and maybe do some shopping. Once I was there I had no idea what to do or where to go, so I started walking and came across that public garden courtyard place that you two always talk about. The place where you got engaged.”
Hermione blushed and looked down, remembering the romantic date Draco took her on last week. Draco put his arm around the loveseat they were sitting on. His knuckles lightly stroking the skin on the back of her shoulder making her shiver.
“And well the gate was cracked open and I assumed the garden was open so I went inside to look around. Well it turns out It wasn’t open, the space was privately rented out to William for the day. He was there with his easel and paints. He paints flower gardens and landscapes. Actually I have some of his work hanging out in the hallway. Anyway, the next thing I know we were talking and having tea at a charming café down the street from the garden.”
Something clicked in Hermione’s brain. “Wait, William Greenburg, is he a famous artist?”
Narcissa thought about it. “Yes he is quite well known, but you would never know by meeting him. He’s very humble about his talent and doesn’t flaunt his money around, which I love about him. It’s a very nice change, especially since Lucious was the exact opposite of him.”
Draco mumbled under her breath next to her, it sounded like he said he was going to be sick.
“I think my mum has a calendar hanging up in their house that has his prints in it.”
Narcissa nodded, “I wouldn’t be surprised, and he has all kinds of paper products out there that feature his works; calendars, stationary, postcards as well as a number of other items.”
“I’ve never heard of a William Greenburg artist or wizard.” Draco said.
Narcissa blushed and nervously straighten out her robes. “Well that’s because he’s not a wizard.”
“If he’s not a wizard then who is he?”
“Well you see…he’s actually a muggle.”
Hermione had to admit, she didn’t see that coming.
“A muggle?” Draco asked shocked. “You’re dating a muggle? You? Who have always been so proud of the fact that you come from a long line of purebloods as well as the Malfoys. And yet you’re dating a muggle!”
“Honestly Draco. It’s not like we’re going to conceive a child out of this union or anything, I’m way too old for that.”
Draco covered his ears. “Oh bloody hell, I can’t listen to this.”
Hermione started to grow uncomfortable again. It wasn’t a good thing to be discussing purebloods verses muggles in this place, especially since she herself is muggleborn, something Draco himself reminded her almost every day since second year.
“Well I think it’s great that you met someone. And as long as you’re happy then we’re happy for you.”
Hermione nudged Draco in the ribs, “Right Draco?”
He made a sound that sounded like a snort, but didn’t say anything.
“Thank you Hermione that means a lot. I know it’s difficult to understand given my previous beliefs and actions regarding muggles and muggleborns. But despite everything I know he’s the one and I’m happy, happier then I’ve been in a really long time.”
“Does he know you’re a witch?” She asked her.
“Yes I told him about myself earlier on in our relationship.”
“You told him you are a witch?” Draco asked shocked.
Hermione put her hand on his arm. “I’m assuming since you’re still together he took it well.” Hermione said before Draco could say anything else.
“Yes he did, he took it rather well. Though I had to make him promise to never tell anyone about it.”
“Can we please start talking about something else, I’m not sure how much I can take on this.” Draco said looking angry and a little sick.
“Oh course dear.” Narcissa said looking a little sad. “Why don’t we go into the dining room? I’m sure dinner is about ready.”
They all rose from their seats and started out the room. Hermione noticed Draco walking without waiting to see if anyone else followed, Narcissa lagged behind a little. Hermione felt she needed to say something. She just didn’t know what.
“Once the shocked wears off, he’ll be more agreeable. Like I said earlier, as long as you’re happy that’s all that matters.”
Narcissa patted her arm. “Thank you dear. And I hope your right. I don’t want him to be disappointed and hate both his parents.”
“No he doesn’t hate you, he’ll never hate you or be disappointed in you. It’s just a lot to take in right now. He’ll come around you’ll see.”
Together they walked into the dining room. They sat down at the endlessly long dining table, which seemed a bit silly for just the three of them or four if you included Crissy. Draco sat next to Hermione, while Narcissa sat opposite them across the table with Crissy by her side in an old fashion looking highchair. Narcissa insisted on feeding her.
It was still raining outside. For it being such a large house, you could still hear the rain pouring down on the roof so much so that the sound was almost deafening. Neither Draco nor Narcissa noticed it, but it made Hermione jump every time a loud crack of thunder shook the walls and windows.
Their first course arrived in front of them. It was a creamy tomato and basil soup which seemed perfect for a stormy night like this. There wasn’t much conversation once they sat down to eat. Everyone seemed to be in their own thoughts.
Narcissa was quietly feeding Crissy, with surprising ease. Hermione was shocked when she got Crissy to eat something without having Crissy spit it out until it ended up all over her face and chin. Once everyone finished their soup the dishes disappeared and the main course arrived.
Hermione took one look at it and paled. She felt her stomach take a sudden lurch. She had to look away from the dish and take some deep breaths, afraid she was going to be sick. It was a fish course, but instead of being a nice fillet of fish, it was a whole fish. It still had the tail and everything, including the head. The fish’s dead eyes were staring at her with a dead blank look. The mouth was still open showing a tiny row of teeth. The skin and scales were baked until brown, crispy and withered looking.
Normally fish didn’t bother her, but then again she had never eaten a fish or anything really with the head still attached staring at her. And Narcissa or whoever came up with the meal clearly wasn’t aware that it wasn’t a good idea for a pregnant woman to eat seafood. Or at least to muggles it wasn’t a good idea due to high mercury levels in fish, which could cause certain birth defects and illness for the baby.
Neither Draco nor Narcissa seemed to notice her in her turmoil with the entrée. Draco was eating the fish like a pro, no hesitation what so ever. He ate from the belly of the fish, taking the meat from around the back bone and the fins. She just happened to look up when Narcissa plucked the eye out of the fishes head and ate it. The eye! She didn’t even know if fish’s eyes were editable.
Her tomato soup threatened to make another appearance, she pushed her plate away and grabbed her glass of water, taking a nice big gulp of the icy liquid. Draco looked at her then.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
She shook her head and took another drink.
He must have noticed her distress. He leaned in close and whispered. “The loo’s down the hall to the right.”
She nodded and set her napkin on the table. “If you’ll excuse me.” She got up and hurried to the restroom.
She must have been in there for a while because a knock came at the door and then it slowly opened. Draco leaned against the door jamb looking casual.
She nodded from her spot on the floor. She hadn’t had any energy to stand up yet. “Is dinner over yet?”
He crossed his arms over his chest and watched as she got up and went to the sink. “Not yet we still have dessert and coffee.”
She groaned at the mention of coffee. “Just as long as the dessert doesn’t have a head attached to it.”
“I think your safe on that account.” He chuckled. “Crissy was falling asleep so mother went ahead and put her to sleep in the nursery upstairs.”
He must have seen her alarmed look. “Don’t worry she’s safe. There are special wards and charms around the room that will alert us if she needs anything. Wherever we are in the manor we will be able to hear it.” Draco led her back to the library where they had tea earlier.
The sky outside was now an inky black. Angry strike of lightening still lit the sky, followed by loud crashed of thunder. It was raining so hard you couldn’t see the tree outside that stood near the exterior wall. A roaring fire lit the fireplace warding off the earlier fall chill in the air.
Narcissa wasn’t back yet. A loud crash of thunder crashed outside making the glass in the windows rattle noisily.
“Wow the storm isn’t letting up is it?” She asked, rubbing her hands over her arms.
“No it doesn’t look like it.” Draco told her sitting down in the same loveseat as before.
Started to walk towards one of the walls of the books to look at, when Narcissa walked back in carrying a dark green binder of sorts. From Hermione’s vantage point it looked fairly old and well-aged.
“Ah Hermione how are you feeling?”
“Better, just had a bout or morning sickness.”
Narcissa nodded. “Yes it can be very troublesome.”
Hermione took a seat next to Draco as Narcissa sat across from them. She set the binder down on the coffee table and slid it towards them.
“This is the main reason I wanted you to come by this evening and visit. Since you already know my plans to move out. I thought it was only appropriate that I give you this. By right it’s already yours to inherit someday, and since your father is no longer here and will most likely never be again and since I’m choosing to leave, the manor gets passed down to you. In this binder is the deed to the manor and property.”
Draco took the binder and opened it and looked through the pieces of parchment inside.
“This place I know holds good memories that I hope brings you comfort. But I know it also holds a lot of unpleasant ones as well. And because of that I’ll respect whatever you decide to do with the manor. I will support your choice and stand by your side no matter what. You can sell it, tear it down, or keep it and live here. It’s yours if you want it.”
Draco finished looking through it, then looked up at his mother. “Thank you mother, this means a lot.”
Narcissa nodded. “You don’t have to make a decision right this moment. But when you do, you’ll have my support no matter what.”
Hermione sat there silently watching Draco carefully. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking or feeling, he had a neutral expression on his face, she didn’t think she should say anything. What was there to say anyway? It was his childhood home, so it was his choice to make, but she didn’t want to be the bad guy here and tell him that there was no way that she was moving here. At least not anytime soon.
She couldn’t imagine living here. Although Narcissa did make the atmosphere a bit more pleasant with the new décor, there was still something about the place that creeped her out.
A chocolate cake appeared in the center of the coffee table and Narcissa quickly made work at slicing the cake and serving it to each of them. Draco and his mother had coffee to drink as Hermione had some hot ginger tea.
Despite getting sick only minutes ago, Hermione ate up her cake as if she hadn’t eaten anything all day. Another loud crash of thunder boomed outside causing all the walls to shake and rattle.
“I think it may be best if you two stay the night here. I don’t think storm is going away anytime soon.”
Hermione felt Draco look over at her silently asking her if she was okay with the idea. Honestly she wasn’t sure, but she didn’t want to be traveling out in this weather. “Okay.” She told him quietly.
“Are you sure?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Crissy’s already asleep and it’s not safe to travel outside.”
“Alright I guess we will take your offer and stay the night.” Draco told his mother.
“Excellent. Your room should be already to go. Unlike the rest of the manor I left your rooms untouched. Expect for the nursery. It’s just how you left it. Well if you don’t mind I’m going to retire to my bedroom. Don’t worry about the dishes, Tulip will take care of them when you’re finished. I’ll see you in the morning.” Narcissa got up to leave.
“Yes goodnight.” Hermione added.
“Goodnight my dears.” And she left the room.
Once they knew she was gone Draco turned to her. “Are you sure you want to spend the night here. It’s Okay if you don’t. We can leave now if you want to.”
She had to smile at how sincere he was being regarding her feelings. “No Draco its fine. One night will not kill me. And I have to admit I am a little curious.”
“Curious about what?”
She shrugged. “What it will be like to spend the night here. And also whether or not your mother eats breakfast wearing her pajamas or if she’s already well put together.”
He laughed. “Trust me she will look as if she never went to sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother without makeup on or in her pajamas for that matter.” Draco set his coffee cup down on the table. “So what do you want to do now, since we’ll be staying here?” He asked her.
“Right now I want another slice of cake.”
He snorted and sliced off another piece and passed it to her. “And after that?”
She shrugged. “What do you normally do to entertain yourself here?”
He wiggled his eyebrows. “Well I can think of a few things that we can entertain ourselves with.”
She pushed him away when he started to move closer. “No, no way don’t even think about it.” She laughed. “But seriously what did you do to entertain yourself here?”
It was his turn to shrug. “I don’t know I usually would hang out in my room or go flying.”
“Hmm, well maybe you can give me a tour of the manor?”
“You want a tour?” He looked at her perplexed.
“Yes, I’ve only seen three rooms so far. Here, the dining room and the bathroom. Well four rooms if you want to get technical and count the last time I was here.” She tried not to show any emotion on that last part, but she didn’t hide it well.
“I won’t take you there if you don’t want me too.”
“I’ll let you know.”
Once Hermione finished her cake Draco led her out of the library and started to show her around his childhood home. He was still reeling over the fact that this place was now officially his. The binder his mother gave him had his name on the deed and everything.
If you would have told him four years ago that he would be the master of the manor he would have been overjoyed, now he wasn’t excited as he thought he would have been. If Voldemort and all the death eaters hadn’t tainted this place with their dark magic then he might have been more enthusiastic about living here.
During the war he had seen more blood and carnage in his father’s drawing room then he had anywhere else. And it had officially scarred him for life. He would never forget Voldemort killing the muggle studies teacher right in front of all of them and made them watch as Nagini ate her lifeless body.
The drawing room was the same place Bellatrix tortured Hermione with the cruciatus curse. He shuddered at the thought, if he were in Hermione’s shoes he wouldn’t have wanted to come back here either. He remembered the sick to his stomach feeling as he just stood there and let it happen, knowing full well that he couldn’t have been able to do anything to stop or prevent it, unless he wanted the same punishment or worse.
The truth was he was a complete coward back then and he hated himself for hiding behind his family name, thinking he could do anything and get away with most things, because of who his father was.
He envied Hermione in that way. She never caved in a told Bellatrix what she wanted to hear. And he was secretly jealous of her Gryffindor courage sometimes. Though he would never admit it to her or any other Gryffindor. Even now when he knew she was nervous about coming back to this place and yet she was still here willing to stay the night.
He took her hand in his and continued showing her the first level of the manor. In each room he showed her, she would step into the room, just past the threshold, but never all the way in. And look around as if taking in every detail, but she never touched or really explore anything in the rooms. Every now and then she would ask him about something that caught her interest. She especially liked to stop and admire every portrait in the long corridors of the manor and he meant every one. There were probably about 100 in total throughout the whole manor.
She had only seen six of them so far, and she had asked questions about every single one. The majority of the portraits in the manor were of Past generations of Malfoy’s as well as the Black’s. Thank Merlin his family history had been drilled into him at an early age, otherwise he wouldn’t know any of the answers to her endless questions.
After what felt like an hour later they finally started to make their way up to the 2nd floor. He managed to avoid going to the east wing of the manor. He hadn’t been over there himself since the war had ended. It was where all of the deatheaters stayed when the war was in full swing. Voldemort pretty much made the manor his main headquarters.
Thank Merlin, Voldemort himself didn’t stay at the manor. He holed himself in some little cave out in the middle of nowhere. Even his closest allies hadn’t know his true whereabouts.
Once they got to the top of the stairs he led her towards his wing of the manor. Hermione tugged on his arm as he started to lead her towards his rooms.
“What’s down there?” She asked him pointing behind her.
“That’s my mother’s wing. Her bedroom, is at the end of the hallway. As well as her personal library, study and sitting room are all in that wing as well.”
“Does your father have his own wing as well?”
“Yes he has two actually or he did. The east wing both upstairs as well as the main floor of the manor are his.”
“Did your parents have separate bedrooms?”
He nodded. “When I was younger I thought my parents shared a room, just like everyone else’s parents, but then one night I found my mother sleeping alone. She told me she made him sleep in another room because he snored to loud. And I believed her, but then again I was only seven at the time. I found out later that they stopped sleeping together almost all together. And that my father only went to my mother when he needed her.”
“Sounds very romantic.” Hermione said sarcastically.
He looked over his shoulder and smirked.
“If they were so unhappy why did they stay together so long?”
He shrugged. “Money, name, status, you name it. My father didn’t want the bad press and gossip and my mother didn’t want to lose the manor and everything else that came with the Malfoy name.”
They walked in silence for a bit as Hermione continued to study all the portraits. “There are so many portraits of past Malfoys and Black ancestors, but there are no portraits of you, no baby pictures or anything.”
“Trust me you don’t want to see my baby pictures.” He told her tugging her down the hallway.
“Yes I do.”
“Just picture Crissy with straight hair and there you go.”
She snorted. “I still want to see them.”
They turned another corner to another long hallway. I would be very easy to get lost in here, Hermione thought, this place was like a maze.
“This is my wing.”
She stopped and stared at all the doors in the corridor. “All of these rooms are yours?”
“Yep six of these rooms are guest rooms in case my friends stayed over or something.”
“You and your friends had sleepovers here?” She teased.
“Well no actually. No one had ever actually stayed over.”
He hand barely let anyone come into his wing before. Blaise, Crabbe and Goyle had been the only ones to actually hang out here. But that was only because he had so many toys that he didn’t want to play with by himself. But he had never let anyone into his bedroom before, not even Blaise.
“So what are in the other rooms?”
“My study is the 3rd door on the left. It is pretty much identical to the one my father has, a large desk and lots of books that I have never read let alone looked at.”
Hermione let out a sound of disgust, and Draco held back a smirk, he knew that comment would irk her.
“The room right across from that is my game room.” He walked over to it and opened the door, so she could see inside.
His billiards table, still looked massive taking up the middle of the room. His wizard’s chess board had been left untouched in, he didn’t know how long. Dart board, still hung on the wall with…shit! There was a mutilated picture of Potter pinned up right in the middle of it. A bunch of punctured marks left over from the darts littered the picture.
Hermione looked at him, eyebrow raised.
“Uh yeah, I haven’t been in here for a while.” He said sheepishly.
“Mmm hmm.” She hummed.
He watched Hermione as she looked around the room, his brooms all mounted on the wall in order from the very first one that he got when he was five to his broom that he had when he played quidditch 5th year.
“There’s no television, but I’d have to say muggle or wizard, every guy has to have some version of a man cave.”
“Hmm, your right, maybe it’s time to add an extra room at the house and make it into my ‘man cave’ as you like to call it.”
“Um no. If you’re going to add an extra room to the house, it’s going to be a second nursery.”
“We’ll see.” He smirked, then led her down the hallway. “Speaking of nursery I think this is where Crissy is sleeping.”
He opened the door and peeked in. Sure enough Crissy laid there sound asleep in his old baby bassinet. It looked like she was wearing some frilly, lacy looking frock that his mother used to dress him in, which is why Hermione was never going to see any of his baby pictures.
“What is she wearing?” Hermione whispered.
“Something my mother picked out no doubt.”
“It looks uncomfortable and itchy. I packed some PJs in the bag, why didn’t she use those?”
“Because my mother has always been more about style and fashion instead of comfort.”
“I don’t want to take the chance of waking her up by changing her clothes.”
“She’ll be fine. Come on let’s leave her be and let her sleep.”
“Are you sure she’ll be okay in here by herself? She’s probably never been here before. And I would hate for her to wake up scared, because she is in a strange place.”
“Like I said she’ll be fine. There are wards set up around this room that will alert us the second she wakes up. And besides we’ll be right next door.”
“I know but…”
“She’ll be fine.” Draco reassured her.
Hermione let out a breath. “Okay.”
She bent over the bassinet and brushed some of Crissy’s curls out of the way and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “Goodnight sweetheart.” Then stepped aside to let Draco say goodnight.
“Night Princess.” Draco started to lead her out of the room.
Hermione stopped and turned back. “Are you sure…”
“Yes, now come one we don’t want to wake her up.” He walked her out of the room until they were back in the hallway.
He shut the door behind them and pulled out his wand and pointed it towards the doorknob.
“What are you doing?” Hermione asked him.
“Just securing the wards so only you or I can gain access to this room.”
“What about your mother?”
“Do you want my mother coming in here?”
“I don’t see why not. She did out Crissy to bed without any problems.”
“Okay, so now only you, mother and I can access this room.”
He led her to a set of double doors at the end of the hallway.
Draco cleared his throat. “This is my room.”
“Aren’t we going to go in?” she asked him and reached for the doorknob.
Before her fingers could touch the metal, he grabbed her hand and pulled it away. “Don’t.”
She looked over at him alarmed, wondering why he stopped her.
“It’s heavily warded.” He put his hand on the door knob and pulled out his wand silently chanting a spell. The door opened and he stood in the doorway. “I’ve never let anyone in my room before.” He told her.
He shook his head. “I know I lived in this big house and me being an only child, didn’t have any siblings, but…” He scratched his jaw. “Actually it seems a bit ridiculous now that I think about it. But it was my space and my space only. And I never allowed anyone to enter my room before.”
“I get it, we all need space sometimes.”
“Yeah, anyway I didn’t start putting wards up until I caught my father hiding dark art materials and artifacts. And pretty much anything that could be deemed illegal according to the Ministry, he would hide underneath my floorboards in my closet. Turns out he had been hiding things in there for years and I hadn’t known. I learned to make my wards more lethal when the deatheaters made my home their home as well. None of them stayed in my wing. But I wasn’t about to take any chances that one of those bastards would try to sneak in and do who knows what to my room. For a long time I’ve only allowed my mother and a handful of trusted house elves to enter my room. But even the house elves are not allowed in without my permission first.”
“I see.” Hermione stood just outside the doorway. “So am I allowed in?” she teased.
He smirked and bowed at the waist, sweeping his arm around the room. “My room is yours.”
She started to step inside his room, but he blocked her path. “But first you must pay the toll.”
She crossed her arms over his chest. “Excuse me?”
“A kiss will do or…” He looked over at his king size four poster bed.
“No absolutely not.” She walked around him into his room.
“Why not.” He shut the door behind him and turned towards her.
“Why not?” She turned around to face him, arms crossed. “First off I’m still mad at you about last night. Even though you told me you didn’t initiate anything, it still happened and I can’t easily forget that. And second, your mother is just down the hallway.”
He crossed his arms matching her stance. “She has he own wing on the opposite side of the manor. It’s at least a 5-8 minute walk just to get to her bedroom. She wouldn’t be aware of anything happening in here.”
“It’s still wrong.”
He rolled his eyes and went over to an armoire and started unbuttoning his shirt.
“What are you doing?”
He turned to look at her. “I’m getting ready for bed. Maybe you should do the same.”
She looked down at herself. “I don’t have anything to wear. I wasn’t exactly planning on an overnighter.”
“Can’t you just transform what you’re wearing into pajamas?”
“No I don’t want to wear what I’ve been wearing all day to bed.”
He shrugged. “Fine go naked, I won’t mind.” He winked.
She huffed out a sigh. “May I borrow and shirt or something, please?”
“Since you said please.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a dark gray striped button down pajama top and tossed it her way.
He shucked his shirt off his shoulders and draped it over a nearby chair. His shoes and socks came off next. “I’m going to take a shower, make yourself at home.” He told her, then strode over to the bathroom connected to his room.
She watched his retreating form. Once he closed the door behind him, she finally took a look around his room. For someone who valued his privacy, his room didn’t look all that unordinary. It was actually quite normal. I looked like something out of the Slytherin’s dormitory. Dark grays with an accent color of green. Black leather sofa and matching overstuffed armchairs grouped in front of a large stone fireplace. Dark hardwood floors with a large oriental rug in the center. And of course the very large, in your face four poster bed. In the same dark wood as the floors.
What surprised her most where all the bookshelves in his room. Sure they had lots of bookshelves at their home, but they were mainly for her, because of her love for books. And there were millions of books all over the manor all of which Draco claimed he hadn’t read. And why would he have all these bookshelves in his own bedroom, if he didn’t like them?
She walked over to one of the shelves. She noticed that they weren’t old tomes that people could hardly read, but liked to collect, because they were rare. Which she suspected were the majority of the books that they had in the manor. No these books were more modern. She noticed a lot by famous wizard mystery authors. Some other wizard suspense and thriller novels. Funny who knew Draco Malfoy was a closet bookworm.
Another shelf held a lot of his school books. The shelves closet to the bed, she was shocked to see shelves lined with none other than muggle novels. Most were classics, some American classics like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He also had classics like The Wizard of OZ, and Peter Pan. There was also Hamlet and Macbeth. And one of her favorites growing up, The Jungle Book.
Did his parents know about these? Is this why he kept his room so private, considering how anti-muggle his family is or used to be?
She noticed a small slim book tucked between two larger ones. She pulled it out to get a better look at it, because she couldn’t see the title. When she pulled it out she noticed it was heavier then she thought it would be. There was no title on the spine and when she flipped it over to see the cover. It was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was her all-time favorite book. She must have read it 500 times. So many times that she knew no copy of this novel could have so little pages from it. It had to be missing at least 80 pages maybe more.
She opened it up to see what edition it was. But when she opened it, she realized it wasn’t a book at all. It was more of a box disguised as a book. And it had to have been magiked in some way to appear deeper than it really was on the outside. She glanced at the door to the bathroom, she could still hear the water running. She shouldn’t snoop, but she was intrigued. She walked closer to the lamp so she could see better.
There were a couple of pictures and some letters. She could tell a couple of them were from his mother and another one from his mother’s sister Andromeda. She didn’t think they were close, ever. She started to look through the pictures. There were a couple of Draco and Blaise as little kids with gaps in their teeth and goofy smiles. There was one of Narcissa holding a baby. She could only guess that it was Draco. One was of Draco as a little boy, no older than three or four with a puppy that looked only a few months old. She never knew Draco to look so happy and carefree.
She looked through a couple other pictures until she got to the bottom of the box. Where one picture lay glaring at her. She picked it up and stared at it. It was her. Just her sitting on a patch of grass on a rare sunny day reading a book. She could tell it was somewhere on Hogwarts grounds. She looked relaxed and completely engrossed in whatever she was reading, completely oblivious to her surroundings or the fact that someone had taken her picture. And it wasn’t a recent picture either. It had to have been taken either 4th or 5th year. Sometime after her awkward teenage years, when she was becoming more confident in her appearances and everything else.
Did Draco take this picture? Why would he have it? She could understand if it was taken sometime during 7th year when they were dating. But 4th year? Back when he was probably the cruelest to her.
Almost a second too late she realized the water had shut off. She quickly put everything back in the box in the order that she took it out. She was putting the faux book back in place when Draco walked back into the bedroom in nothing but a towel around his waist. Damn him for looking so good.
He was purposely torturing her so she would cave to his advances and forget about the whole Gwen disaster. Well she was going to prove him wrong and not cave in.
“I thought you were going to change?” He asked towel drying his hair.
“I got distracted by your book collection. And besides I wanted to shower too before bed.”
“You could’ve joined me” He teased.
She slid him a look and hightailed it to the loo before he dropped the towel in front of her.
She had the night shirt he loaned her, but she had no clean knickers, she could either go without…which was risky, or put on her old one back on after doing a quick scourgify spell on them. Decisions, decisions.
She turned the water on in the shower and stepped under the spray. Her mind kept going back to that picture. Was what Pansy said really true? Had Draco fancied her even back then? If he did, why be so cruel to her? Okay well she partly knew why, because of his father.
She quickly washed her hair and soaped up her body, then turned the water off. Grabbing a towel she dried off and out the night shirt on, thankfully it reached down to her knees. She decided to forgo the knickers. She was going to risk it, which was probably a really stupid decision. But he will never know as long as he stays on his side of the bed.
Finger combing her hair, she did a quick cleansing spell on her teeth, since she didn’t have a tooth brush either. Then walked back out into the bedroom. Draco of course was already in bed reading what looked like the Daily Prophet. He had the lights turned down low and the fireplace lit on full blast. The storm outside was still going at it at full force. She could see his naked torso peeking out from under the sheets. She prayed to Merlin that he was wearing boxers or something under those sheets.
He looked up as she approached the bed. Suddenly becoming shy she didn’t make eye contact and pulled down the covers on her side and slipped in. This was the first time sleeping in the same bed with him since they had sex two nights ago. She rolled on her side facing away from him.
“Goodnight.” She told him, she could feel him looking at her.
“Goodnight.” He said sounding amused.
She felt the bed dip as he moved to put the paper down on the nightstand and turned off the lights. Leaving the fire smoldering and the storm outside raging on.
Draco tried to act natural as Hermione showered. He truly meant it when he said he never allowed anyone in his room before. Not that he had anything to hide, because he didn’t. But he liked his own space. And letting her into his space was a big deal, even if she didn’t realize it. But he was getting used to the idea of her being around and being in the same space as her. Other than being a bed hog, she wasn’t messy, and she always smelled good, which were two pluses, plus she wasn’t hard on the eyes.
He about had a heart attack when he saw her walk out of the bathroom, her hair wet and wearing one of his shirts. It took just about everything in him not to reach over and grab her so she at least lay next to him. But he didn’t, because he knew she would fight him off. He decided he would be good and not persuade her. So he said goodnight and turned off the light. Eventually sleep overtook him.
Hermione had no idea what time it was. No matter what position she laid she just couldn’t get comfortable. She gave up on sleep and rolled over so she laid on her back and stared up at the ceiling of Draco’s bedroom. She glanced over at him and sure enough he was sound asleep laying on his back, one arm tucked under his pillow the other rested across his bare torso. His head turned away from her.
She watched him sleep for a few minutes until her stomach started rumbling. The reason why she couldn’t sleep was because she was starving. She debated on what to do. She couldn’t sleep on an empty stomach. And there was no way she was going to sneak down into the kitchen. First she had no idea where the kitchen was and second she didn’t want to be exploring the hall of Malfoy manor alone in the middle of the night.
She didn’t want to conjure up food, because it never tasted good. It might have looked delicious but it tasted like chalk no matter what you decided to make. And besides after living off something like that for a year she would be happy if she never had to eat like that again.
Not being able to take it much longer she decided to call on Ziggy. She quietly got out of bed and tiptoed her way to the bathroom. Once in there she called upon Ziggy. And nothing happened. She tried a couple more times, her hunger becoming more urgent. Wait, damn she forgot about Draco’s ward, no one was allowed in unless he gave permission.
Damn it she was going crazy with hunger. She walked back into the bedroom. She crawled back into bed and sat on her knees facing Draco. She scooted a little closer so she could nudge him. Her stomach gave a loud rumble.
“Okay little guy I’ll feed you in a second.” She whispered rubbing her tummy.
She got close enough to nudge his arm. “Draco.” She whispered and nothing happened.
She tried again nudging him a little harder. “Draco.” He shifted a little, but didn’t wake.
She scooted closer. “Draco.” She said again shaking a little harder.
“I need to ask you something.” She told him.
“What is it baby?” He mumbled in his sleep, but didn’t open his eyes.
She was taken aback for a second. “Um…I need…eek.”
He shifted again and pulled her on top of him so she was straddling his hips. His shirt that she had on was riding up higher than she would have liked. His hands were on her bare thighs and traveling up to dangerous areas.
“Okay but you get to be on top this time.” He mumbled.
Wait, did her think she was wanting to have sex with him? “No Draco that’s not what I was implying.”
She punched his shoulder, not hard, but hard enough to get his attention.
His eyes flew open and he looked at her. “No?”
She glared at him. “No.”
He huffed out a sigh. “Okay then why did you wake me up?” he asked rubbing his eyes.
“Because I’m hungry.”
“Hungry?” He looked at her his eyes traveling down to her legs which were still straddling him.
She scampered off him and onto her side of the bed. “Yes I’m starving. So much that I can’t sleep. And I don’t want to go down to the kitchen by myself. I tried calling Ziggy, but because of your wards she didn’t come.” To prove her point her stomach growled loudly.
He chuckled and sat up in bed. “Okay what do you want to eat?”
“A T-bone steak and mash potatoes with gravy, lots of gravy.”
He smirked. “You obviously thought this through.” He teased.
“Will you just call her, please?”
He called Ziggy who popped into the room seconds later. Within minutes her meal appeared in front of her on a tray. Her mouth watered just looking at it. Without thinking she started to tuck in. Her first bite was pure heaven and she moaned in pleasure. Draco laid down on his side, his head propped up on his hand as he watched her. She continued eating, but felt his eyes on her.
She glanced over. “What?”
He just smirked at her.
Lamely she glanced down at herself to make sure she didn’t have gravy all over herself. Then she glanced back at him.
“Did you want some?” she looked back at her half eaten steak and what was left of her mash potatoes.
He shook his head. “But if you continue to make those noises I won’t be accountable for my actions.”
She glared at him. “Are you seriously getting turned on my watching me eat?”
“No, it’s the sounds you make. It’s the same sound you make when you’re about to com..”
“Okay I get it. And I’m not making those kind of noises.” She blushed.
He snorted. “Whatever you say.”
She glared at him again and then went back to eating, trying really hard to not make any sounds while she ate. When she finished she sat back and patted her belly. That was probably one of the best meals she has had in a long time. She could almost eat another T-bone steak, almost.
The tray disappeared and she got up to use the loo. When she got back Draco was already laying down with his eyes closed. She slipped back into bed, full and satisfied, she could finally go to sleep. She laid down on her side and was immediately pulled back against a hard chest.
“Draco.” She warned.
“Shh, relax. I’m not going to do anything to you. I just want to sleep like this right now.” His hand splayed protectively across her tummy.
But then his lips rubbed against the back of her neck as he nuzzled her hair. “If you don’t stop that, you’re sleeping on your side of the bed for the rest of the night.” She halfheartedly warned.
He chuckled. “Don’t lie, you know you like it.” He mumbled against her skin and pulled her closer to his body.
The bad part was that she did like it, a lot. Damn she should have put on her old knickers after all.
AN: I’m sorry for the long wait. I promise I will not be abandoning this story. Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me through the long wait.
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