The next day was spent celebrating Hugo's Birthday. He had turned nine years old at 6:37 AM. Hermione had awoken exhausted from her night's lack of sleep, but after loading up on a considerable amount of caffeine she pulled herself together and was able to tackle the day. They spent their morning going out to breakfast with Hermione's parents to Hugo's favorite Muggle Breakfast joint named Tito's. He got a thrill out of ordering the house specialty..a breakfast burrito the size of his arm even though he could never come close to finishing it. Hermione's parents had been invaluable to her, especially after Ron's unexpected death. They had little part in their magical lives but were always a support system she and her children could count on. Her children loved spending time with their Muggle grandparents and Hermione was thankful they were able to enjoy the best of both the magical and non-magical world.
That afternoon was spent in Diagon Alley where they met up with Harry, Ginny and their three children James the eldest of sixteen, Albus fourteen was best friends with Rose, Lily the youngest was twelve. Hermione cherished the time she got to spend with Harry and Ginny. Not only were they family, they were her best friends. After Ron's death Hermione drew away from them for months, she rarely saw them and when she was in their company or anyone's company for that matter, she wasn't really present at all. How could she be? She lost herself when Ron had died. But she began to realize that she needed to snap out of it the best she could, for her children's sake. She needed her family, she needed her friends, and they needed her as well. Harry hadn't been been the same since Ron's death, but when Hermione started coming around again he got better. None of them will ever be fully healed, but they all do the best they can. Hermione and her children now see the Potter's and Weasley's at least three times a week, the closeness has unquestionably helped her grieving, and helped her family begin to heal.
Everyone always enjoyed a trip to Diagon Alley and everyone could always find an excuse to spend a few galleons. They stopped at Gringotts Wizarding Bank (to fill their coin purses), Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions ( Rose and Albus were in need of some dress robes for their upcoming up fourth year at Hogwarts), Twilfitt & Tattings, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes(which now honored Fred with a beautiful bronze statue outside..a Pygmy Puff on his shoulder and firecracker in his hand grinning a familiar toothy smile), Potage's Cauldron Shop, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour,
second hand robe shop, and Slug & Jiggers Apothecary.
After spending hours enjoying the splendors of Diagon Alley their last stop before they departed was Flourish and Blotts. Hermione knew the visit would never be the same to Hugo without his father, but she was determined to bring him there ever year for his birthday and purchase any book he wanted just like his father always did. Hermione was afraid Hugo wouldn't want to go after last night's nightmare and she could see that he grew solemn and quiet when they neared the book store. But after they opened the doors and walked inside his mood brightened. Hugo had inherited his mother's love for books. The scent of the leather bound books and cream colored pages was wonderful and enticing to Hermione, and she knew Hugo felt the same way. Everyone dispersed throughout the store, Rose and Albus went to find required books for their next school year at Hogwarts, Harry and Ginny took their youngest daughter Lily to find her required books for her second year at Hogwarts, James waltzed around nonchalantly by himself, and Hugo didn't need any encouragement to go explore and find his next exciting read.
Hermione walked around stopping here and there whenever a section or book title caught her interest. She found her way to the newly published section and searched for a book that had just come out "House Elves, a History." The new book was supposed to be very insightful and Hermione was very looking forward to poring over it. Hermione suddenly heard a young girl talking excitedly over the noisy bustle of the book store.
"Daddy this is it!" "It's the one I was telling you about, it's about a dragon and a girl they become great friends and go on all kinds of adventures." " Chelsea read it and it's her favorite book!" Can I get it Daddy, please?"
"Hmmm.. Maya the Witch and Samuel the Dragon, huh?" A deep voiced man suddenly sounded. Hermione knew the book, she had read it to Hugo a few years ago and he had loved it as well.
"Pleeease daddy?" The little girl begged her father.
"I'll get you this book on one condition." The deep voice sounded again. "If you let me read it to you every night…and I get to read it in the voice of a dragon." The man had altered his voice to a sort of silly deep growl in order to sound dragon like.
Hermione smiled to herself and she heard the little girl shriek in delight. Hermione's curiosity got the best of her and she looked up to the section in front of hers and saw the man had scooped his daughter up in his arms. She was giggling excitedly and the man continued to speak in his silly deep dragon growl at words she couldn't quite make out. The man's back was turned to her, he was tall and muscular wearing a tight fitted black shirt, black pants and expensive looking black shoes. Hermione's stomach jumped a bit when she saw him but instantly felt guilty, she had never really cared to noticed another man's attractiveness since Ron. His little girl was beautiful with long shining silvery hair..just like her father's. The man turned to his side and Hermione could make out his profile. Her face instantly flushed red, and her stomach turned with embarrassment shame and..nervousness? She couldn't walk away quickly enough, she got as far as she could toward the back of the store.
She ran into James. "Are you alright Aunt Hermione?" Her nephew asked looking slightly concerned. "Your face is as red as a tomato." James said.
"Oh no, I'm fine James..don't worry about me." Hermione said a little too quickly. "Have you found anything?" Hermione asked changing the subject.
"Nah…I prefer a good joke shop..these books just don't quite cut it." James said.
"I wouldn't under estimate the power of a good enlightening book to broaden your horizons." Hermione said reprovingly sounding more like her old self.
"Maybe you're right." James said. "I saw a good one at the front of the store." "How to blow stuff up." Hermione rolled her eyes..just like his Uncles she thought, and continued to wind her way further back as James walked away.
She still hadn't shaken what has just happened....and what exactly did happen? How long had it been since she had seen Malfoy?…a long time. Not only did she feel terribly guilty for noticing another man but she felt sickeningly ashamed that the man happened to be none other than Draco Malfoy. She never in a million years thought that the man's playful loving voice she listened to would be that of Malfoy's. It was nothing like the cowardly snide boy she grew up with. Father hood must have softened him in that respect at least. But Hermione had no doubt that he was still the same old Malfoy in all other aspects not having to do with his children. Hermione tried to shake her feelings the best she could and get the "encounter" out of her mind when Hugo found her.
"I've got it mum!" "Hogwarts Ghosts, Interviews and more" Hugo said excitedly.
"Now that, is a good choice." Hermione said smiling at her son.
They made their way to the front of the store to purchase the book Hermione listened carefully to Hugo's animated summary of the book. They decided to wait for the others outside. Hermione went to reach for the door not knowing that someone else had already reached for the handle. Her hand landed around a warm, smooth, large, very pale hand. She quickly pulled her hand away
. "Oh, I'm sorry!" Hermione looked up and was standing inches away from Draco Malfoy.She stood shocked and could feel her face reddening all over again.
He stood staring at her dumbfounded until he seemed to get himself together and said coolly, "Not a problem."
One hand still on the knob the other around his daughters hand he smoothly stepped aside in order to let Hermione and Hugo pass through the door. His daughter gave them a huge smile and waved at them.
"Bye!" the little girl said cheerfully. Hermione still in shock half smiled and waved goodbye to the little girl, Hugo had no problem smiling right back and waving goodbye to her. Draco pulled his daughter into his arms and swept past them without another glance.
The fresh air helped Hermione to pull herself together and soon their gang came spilling out from the bookstore. Harry came beside Hermione.
"You see Malfoy in there?" Harry gave her look that was meant to be shared in an understanding of dislike towards Malfoy but Hermione had a hard time mustering it up. Their group gathered around diagon alley's fireplace and one by one they used it to travel to the Weasley Burrow for dinner. Hermione couldn't wait to get out of the alley.
The evening was spent with a delicious feast, courtesy of Mrs. Weasley, and laughter as the family celebrated Hugo's Birthday. His birthday cake was enormous and in the shape of a football, Mrs. Weasly had outdone herself. When it was time for them to depart they sadly said their goodbyes and Hermione, Hugo, and Rose stepped inside of the Weasley fire place and made their fast journey home.
As Hermione lay in her bed that night she found herself exhausted yet wide awake at the same time. She was glad that Hugo had enjoyed his birthday, any happy day in her children's lives made her feel better as a mother. As she lie awake all of her thoughts kept returning to the bookstore and her encounters with Malfoy. She felt ashamed all over again when she thought of how handsome he had become as a man. She shook the thoughts from her head but she could not stop thinking about the way he had been with his daughter. She had been so amused at the little girl and her loving father before she had found out who it actually was. Hermione finally began to drift to sleep her finally conscious thought was Malfoy's silly dragon voice and she smiled to herself in her sleep.
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