Hermione joined Draco in the drawing room after breakfast. She had stuffed herself on French toast, scrambled eggs, and ham for breakfast. As it was Christmas, Sprinkles had served in the formal dining room but Hermione felt the room was too big, too stuffy and in general she preferred the laid back breakfast nook. She didn’t want to disrupt Malfoy’s traditions and had a huge breakfast with her Mother-in-law and Draco.
Draco was talking quietly with his mom when she sat down with them in the drawing room. She only caught the end of the conversation but the tense was evident.
“… I’m not going. End of discussion.” Draco tersely ended the conversation and Narcissa looked disappointed but not upset. Hermione decided not to ask any questions, if Draco wanted her to know he would tell her. A heavy silence fell on the room.
“Would you like to open gifts now?” Draco directed his question at Hermione.
“Sure” Hermione hoped it would relieve some of the awkward tension that had been building.
Draco pasted out all the presents that had been under the tree and each person had a sizeable stack but Hermione’s was bordering on ridiculous height, no doubt the Weasley’s had a part to play in that.
Hermione and Draco went about opening their piles of gifts. Hermione received and box of rock cakes from her favorite half giant, and maroon sweater with a gold H in the center from Mrs. Weasley, and a bag of sweets from Honeydukes from Harry, and soft white scarf and hat set from Ginny, and a big box of tricks and pranks from George.
The next package she retrieved from the stack was from Draco, delicate silver paper encased her gift. The contents were surprisingly similar to the gift she had gotten for Draco. She saw that Draco was watching her with a wary look as though he was unsure of his own gift. With the paper removed she held a wooden box with ornate carvings in the sides and on the top.
“Do you like it?” Draco asked.
“Of course it is beautiful, but here,” She grabbed her present for Draco that was sitting on the top of his stack of presents. “Open this one next.”
Draco looked at her questioningly and Narcissa was watching the two of them. He moved aside the high end traveling cloak his mother gave him and took the gift from Hermione. He quickly removed the wrapping paper and on his lap laid an almost identical ornate box to the one that was sitting on Hermione’s lap.
“Interesting,” Narcissa whispered so low that Hermione almost didn’t even hear her speak. Draco turned his head to his mother because he had heard her say something.
“Ewig Kiste” she said a bit loud this time. “I believe you have found a set of Ewig Kiste.” She stated in a matter of fact voice that resembled Hermione’s tone at times.
Hermione searched her memory and the name sounded familiar but she could not recall the particular details of the object. It had been in a large volume of magical objects she had been reading for fun in the Hogwatr’s library. She found all magical items to be fascinating when she attended school. She didn’t have the drive to research as much anymore but each new item held a bit of wonder.
“I’ve read about this before but the particulars are escaping me at the moment.” Hermione said.
“Well, Ewig Kiste is a German term for “Eternal Box” but it is an item shrouded in mystery. Truefully, I know only a little about these boxes.”
“Well, please enlighten us.” Draco told his mother.
“A German wizard wasn’t able to be with the love of his life because he was already in an unhappy arranged marriage; the woman he loved had to be secretive about her affections because of his marriage into an affluent family. It didn’t stay a secret for long and her father sent her to Italy to live with family. These boxes are like a portal between the two lovers. A message or gift could be passed through, not unlike the vanishing cabinets. They have other tricks as well, but I really don’t remember much. I think your father had a book on them in the library, if you are really interested.” Narcissa shrugged.
“I’m interested. I’ll have to find the book.” Hermione told them. Draco looked shocked between the two pieces.
“I guess great minds think alike.” He laughed.
“I guess so.” Hermione laughed along. “Where did you find yours?” she asked while thinking about the strange way she had found hers.
“Actually, I’ve had it for a while. About three years ago I was in Italy on a vacation when I stumbled upon this weird little wizard shop. It was an eclectic collection of magical junk, I’m not normally into those shops, but this one grabbed my attention and I was browsing the shelves. This box jumped into my hands.” Draco laughed.
“Jumped?” Hermione teased.
“Actually, it fell off the shelf and I caught it. I just felt like I should buy it. Anyway, it was beautifully carved and I thought you would appreciation the craftsmanship.” He shrugged as if it was no big deal. “Where did you find this one?”
“Interesting story,” She agreed. “Actually, my story is similar to yours, except I bought a few days ago in an eclectic magical shop in Diagon Alley. Well, the shop owner wouldn’t let me leave without it.”
Narcissa sat off to the side smiling at the two while they interacted. She was content for the time being.
Hermione noticed the fireplace had turned green and was spitting flames before Harry’s head appeared.
“Happy Christmas Harry!” Hermione greeted him before noticing his grim face. “Is everything okay with Ginny?” Hermione asked worriedly.
“Ginny is fine. Can she stay with you for a little while?” Harry asked.
“Of course, why?”
“No time to explain. Draco you are needed at the Ministry.” Harry waited for Draco to nod in response and then disappeared. Hermione started in on Draco after Harry’s cryptic message.
“What was that about?”
“I don’t know.” Draco answered and his expression was grim.
“I thought you worked in business.” She said, realizing they never really had a conversation about his job. She had assumed as much that he was just in business, not law enforcement.
“Not really.” He said.
“Are you an Auror?” She asked.
“Not really,” He answered again. By this point she is following him down the hallway, trying to keep up with his long strides. He stopped and turned into his office.
“Then what is going on!” She demanded, Harry’s grim expression had her worried, she hadn’t seen that face in over 5 years.
“Hermione, I’m not an Auror. I do work for Harry with a team of wizard’s who are tracking ex-deatheaters.” He grabbed her arms and pulled her into a hug, and rubbed her back soothingly. “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to worry. It’ll be alright, love.” He kissed her forehead. “Have a fun girl’s day, call Astoria.”
Draco gave her a long kiss before he released her. In a quick turn he threw some Floo powder in the fireplace and yelled “Harry Potter’s Office, Ministry of Magic” and a spit of green flames and he was gone. Hermione stood in the middle of his office alone and her mind was going fifty different ways for some time. It was Christmas and she was alone in a huge house, then she remembered Narcissa was home.
Hermione wasn’t sure how long she had been standing in his office because when she returned to the drawing room where she had left Narcissa, the Christmas mess was cleaned up and Ginny sat on the couch opposing Narcissa and Astoria drinking tea.
“Happy Christmas Astoria?” Hermione stated questioningly.
“Her husband contacted my husband, he up and left. So I headed over here, as my family is way too uptight, and found out that your husband abandoned you as well.” Astoria stated in an annoyed voice.
“Hey, I’m in the same boat.” Ginny added her annoyance was evident as well.
“Men!” Hermione said in a exasperated voice as she threw he hands in the air and plopped down next to Ginny. “Ginny, no offense, but why aren’t you with your family.”
Ginny rolled her eyes in response and muttered “men!” under her breath.
“My idiot brother kept going on and on about you and Draco at breakfast, Harry told him to give Draco a break and that he wasn’t so bad, and that started wizarding war three. Ron started attacking Harry position at work, said that someone who was slumming it “bad guys” shouldn’t be the head of Aurors.” She used her fingers to empathize “bad guys”. “I may have thrown my Bat Bogey Hex at him and we left.”
“I’m sorry that happened on Christmas.” Hermione reached out and patted her friend’s shoulder.
“I’m fine. Ron is the one that is going to be in a world of hurt. George and Mom don’t understand Draco or your relationship but that you are finally happy makes them happy.” Ginny explained. Hermione thought of George and realized that it was the first time today she had been remind of Fred. It was a shocking revelation to realize that her world didn’t revolve around Fred or the loss of Fred like it had once been. Things were changing and her life was moving forward. She didn’t want to dwell on that fact for too long though.
“Alright then, what’s the plan for the rest of the day?” Hermione asked and looked around at the group of women.
“Relaxation!” Ginny piped up. “I need time to unwind.” She smiled.
“I second that!” Astoria agreed, “I’ll probably throw in a healthy dash of Man-bashing for a while.”
“I’ll second the Man-bashing, and I need a day to relax too!” Hermione agreed. She looked at Narcissa who smirked in a way that reminded her of Draco.
“Who is up for a day trip to Paris?” Narcissa suggested. “I know the perfect little spa to visit.”
“Is it open today? It is Christmas.” Hermione asked and Astoria laughed at her.
“For a Malfoy, it will always be open. Luckily for us, there will be two Malfoy’s.” Astoria continued.
“I’m in.” Ginny agreed.
A/N: Sorry it is so short. I plan on a much longer chapter for 22. Let me know what you think!