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Chapter 17 : A Visit from Dobby
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Chapter Seventeen: A Visit from Dobby
Hermione held tightly to the mug in her hand, watching the snow flurries through the kitchen window. The coffee was steaming, heat radiating through the ceramic and warming her senses. It was frigid--the coldest day yet-- and the weather was calling for continued snow all day and long into the night. She smiled defiantly. Today would be a good day…blizzard conditions or not.
She could feel his presence when he arrived. It was the first morning she had beaten either him or Juliette to the kitchen and he had paused somewhere paces behind her. Whether it was surprise at seeing her or after affects of his breakdown the night before, she wasn’t sure. But before she could turn he had stepped forward and slipped his arms around her waist. He overlapped his hands, dropping his head to her shoulder.
“I’m sorry about last night,” he murmured.
“I’m sorry I’ve been treating you like this was my loss and not yours, too.”
She let her free hand tighten around his forearm, the scratchy wool of his cloak reminding her of the wool blanket she and Harry had often curled under when things were at their worst. It had been one of the Weasleys, a family hand me down that Ron had brought with him when he moved into Grimmauld. The connection made her melancholy but, for the first time, she realized she was able to think of them with happiness rather than guilt and regret. She kissed his arm lightly, both for the fond memory and his presence beside her.
“So, are we both sufficiently apologetic now?” he asked with a smile.
She nodded and snuggled closer into his chest, the residual heat of his body seeping into hers. “Just how did you know about that unopened gift?” she asked, tilting her head to give him a quizzical look.
“One of Remus’ infamous bedtime stories,” he answered with a shake of his head. “Don’t ask, I’ve learned we’re safer that way.”
Hermione giggled and the contented feeling spread to her toes. “Do you and Juliette have plans today?”
He chuckled. “Always. Why do you ask?”
“I was thinking,” she kept her voice steady, “we could all do something together.”
He shifted, just barely, just enough to kiss her cheek. “I’d like that.”
Hermione tilted her head, her face inches from his. He exuded a warmth from within and for a man who had been considered dead for so many years it amazed her how he seemed to grow more and more passionate and full of life with each passing day. She closed her eyes as his lips moved within inches of her own. She could feel his breath on her lips and the pads of his fingers trickling over her skin. She opened her eyes again to find him hovering just above her, a smile quirked on his lips as if her automatic assumption that he intended to kiss her had amused him.
A soft giggle from behind them caused Sirius to break free from Hermione.
“Good morning,” Juliette bubbled, climbing onto a chair, oblivious to the tension that had developed with her appearance.
Sirius could feel Hermione struggling…having found them in each others arms was not something she had counted on. Her mind was whirling, Sirius could almost see it, with excuses and explanations to placate her child. He slipped his arm back around Hermione, sending her a reassuring smile.
“What has you full of giggles this morning?” he asked lightly.
“There’s a house elf in the hall.” she answered, eyeing her mother’s cup of coffee. “Can I have some? With milk and sugar?”
Hermione gave a breath of relief then turned a disdainful look Sirius‘ direction. “You’ve been letting her drink coffee?” she shook her head. “Hot cocoa for you,” she said but before she could begin to make it, Sirius had already conjured a cup.
“A house elf, you say?” he sank down beside Juliette as she drank.
She grinned and fell into another fit of giggles. “He has a tea cozy as a hat and is wearing seven pairs of socks,” she explained through laughter. “And none of them match!” She continued to laugh as Sirius and Hermione exchanged a knowing grin.
“Dobby,” they answered grinning.
As if on cue, he appeared in the room with a pop.
“Mistress Hermione, it’s been so long!” he squeaked.
“Hello, Dobby,” she nodded as his eyes fell toward Sirius.
“Oh! It’s true then!” he grabbed Sirius hand and shook it wildly. “Master Black, loyal friend, noble wizard, loving godfather who gave his life for my dearest Harry Potter.”
Sirius cringed. Hermione straightened. Juliette laughed.
“Sirius isn’t dead, silly.”
“Dobby,” Hermione cut him off, “to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”
“I heard of Master Black’s return and had to come.” He twitched nervously. “I knew only a great wizard like Sirius Black, the animagus Black, the only one to escape Azkaban, the one who saved--”
“Dobby!” Hermione shook him forcible as Sirius seemed to be unable to move.
“Oh, of course,” he nodded. “I knew only the most excellent wizard could help me now.”
“What do you mean? Are you in trouble, Dobby?”
“No, no. Dobby is a good elf. It’s the darkness,” he lowered his voice, his ears curling downward. “It will come here, you know. To the immaculate Grimmauld Manor--”
“Oh, Dobby,” Hermione said with exasperation, “the war is over.”
“Dobby,” Sirius had finally found his voice and interrupted. “Perhaps you and I should go to the parlor?”
“Oh, yes,” Dobby said, giving a nod to Juliette who was watching the encounter with sheer amusement. “I wasn’t thinking.” He banged his head against the edge of the table. “Stupid, stupid Dobby. A child here in the room….Harry Potter’s --”
“Dobby!” Sirius gripped the house elf’s spindly arms as Hermione dropped into a chair in near faint. “Please,” he said more gently, “the parlor?”
Hermione paced the floor in the kitchen as Juliette ate. She had expected Sirius to return in short order but a quick glance at the clock told her he’d been with Dobby over an hour now. She had spun herself into a knot of bad memories, theories and general terror of what could possibly be wrong now.
When he did finally step through the doorway, he looked edgy, the stiff way he carried himself causing her to suck in a breath. “Sirius?”
But he shook his head to silence her, placing a kiss on Juliette’s head. “I apologize for the interruption. Where were we?”
“Planning our day, remember?” Juliette asked, oblivious to Hermione’s worried look.
“I think you mum has already made plans for us today,” Sirius offered Hermione a wink to ease her fears. “Didn’t you?”
She nodded distractedly. “What would you say to visiting Santa Claus today? Christmas is just around the corner, after all.”
Sirius’ face crinkled and Hermione steeled herself for the speech she had already heard once from Draco.
“Really?” Juliette was on her feet, hugging her mother’s neck. “I’ll go get my list!”
She hurried out of the room and Hermione turned a defensive look to Sirius. “Go ahead, tell me why letting her believe--” but she trailed off the puzzled look on his face catching her off guard. “Wait-- you do know about Santa Claus, don’t you?”
Sirius frowned. “I seem to recall something James said once…”
Hermione laughed, her worries quickly forgotten. Sirius would tell her when there was something to fear, she knew that, and the childlike curiosity on his face was just more than she could stand. “You, the excellent most noble wizard Sirius Black, are in for a treat.”
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