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Hermione rounded the table, gathering the plates and stacking them on her arm as she went. Draco saw Hermione doing her little juggling act and immediately jumped up to help.

“I’ll take those dishes Love, go sit down.” He said taking the stack of plates from her. Relief flooded onto her face and she kissed him on the cheek in gratitude.

“Thank you Draco.” She sat down next to her mum on the couch and took off her heels which were killing her feet.

“Pumpkin that dinner was brilliant. It tasted exactly like your mother’s, maybe even better.” Her father complimented.

“Hey!” Mrs. Granger said defensively.

“I said maybe.” Mr. Granger said chuckling. Things had gotten much more comfortable during dinner. They all talked about various things, and Draco even managed to share a joke with Mr. Granger, which eased the tension between the two immensely. All in all things were going pretty smoothly. Draco came back in and took a seat in one of the large armchairs sighing heavily.

“Mi that was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.” He said rubbing his stomach. Hermione blushed.

“Really, it wasn’t a big deal.” She said modestly. There was silence for a moment before Mrs. Granger shouted “Oh!” and caused everyone to jump slightly.

“You two agreed to dance for us after dinner, and I’m not letting you get out of it. Up with you!” Hermione looked at Draco who gave her a “shall we?” look. Draco stood and offered his hand to Hermione, who took it. He pulled her up from her seat and led her to the spacious part of the common room. Draco flicked his wand and conjured up the song they always danced tango to. Before getting into position, Hermione turned to her parents.

“Just remember, we haven’t worked all the kinks out yet, and it’s not exactly a routine or…”

“Just dance pumpkin.” Her father said. She nodded, and turned back to Draco. She put a hand on his shoulder, and took his hand in her own. She felt his hand finding the familiar spot on her back and he pulled her to him roughly, smirking at her. She flashed a sexy smirk back, and leaned in close to his ear.

“Remember it’s my parents we are dancing for.” She reminded in a whisper.

“I know.” Pressing on her back, she stepped backwards, moving her feet in rapid snappy motions. He spun her twice with speed and force, bringing her even closer to his body each time. Pausing for a very brief second to look in each others eyes, Draco moved them into the simple tango stroll, keeping their eye contact locked. They danced alternating long, quick strides with short, sharp steps. They were light on their feet; one of the things that set them apart from the others in their class. They could keep up with the fast tempo long after others would trip and mess up. As Draco led her she kept her body rigid, except for the swaying of her hips, making her easier to lead. Putting their arms (hands clasped together) over there heads, they went into the scorpion tail. Coming out of the scorpion tail and hooking her leg around Draco, she leaned back as far as she could go placing her trust, as always, in Draco, knowing that he would never drop her. Well, not on purpose at least. Just as they had practiced many time before, Draco stopped her just a few mere inches from the ground. That was one of the things that made their dancing great, was that they both were willing to take risks.

Draco pulled Hermione up and her face was flushed from dancing, but also from moving so sensually in front of her mum and dad. Her parents clapped and smiled at the performance. Draco sat back down in the big arm chair and pulled Hermione into his lap.

“Well darling, you’ve still got all the talent and passion for dancing as you did when you left, that’s for sure. You are a wonderful dancer. And Draco, my, my, my! I had no idea you were so… swift on your feet.” Mrs. Granger complimented.

“I think I like our variation better.” Draco whispered into her ear so only she could hear. She giggled at his words, and had to use all her restraint not to turn around and kiss him passionately from the feeling of hot breath on her neck. Hermione was about to say something when the doorbell rang. She looked at Draco, puzzled, and he looked at her with the same bewilderment. There were no neighbors for miles, and the only people who knew that Hermione and Draco were staying there were from the magical world, so they would know to use the floo.

“I’ll get it.” Hermione said getting off of Draco.

“Hermione why don’t you let me…”

“No really Draco, its fine. I’ve got it. You stay and chat.” She insisted. She walked over to the front door and slowly pulled it open. He eyes widened to the size of dinner plate in surprise and confusion. There, standing before her, was the nice lady from the Hogsmeade shop where she had brought her dress. She was dressed in a neat deep bottle green pantsuit with a royal purple velvet cloak draped over her shoulders. Her cool, grey eyes shown in the dim light of the moon from behind her oval spectacles.

“Um, may I help you?” Hermione asked trying to figure out what the sales lady was doing at the front door at 10:30 on Christmas Eve.

The woman ignored her question completely and went on to compliment Hermione on her dress choice. “I really am glad you decided on that one, it hugs you so nicely.”

“I beg your pardon for sounding rude, but may I ask who you are, or what you are doing here, or how you know where I live?”

The woman looked surprised at her words, and then narrowed her eyes at Hermione. “You live here?” She asked.

“Well right now I do, I’m staying here with my boyfriend over the holidays. Would you like to come in and have some tea with us? It’s quite cold outside.”

“Oh yes dear, I thought you would never ask.” The woman stepped in and before Hermione could offer to take her cloak, she had removed it and was hanging it up in the cloak room all by herself. It confused Hermione greatly that the woman seemed to know where everything was without being told. Hermione followed the woman, who apparently knew her way to the common room, into the laughter filled room. Her mum had taken out the photo album again and Draco was in hysterics over a picture of an eight year old Hermione with a large wad of bubblegum stuck in her hair. The three looked up from the photographs and took a look at the unexpected visitor in front of them. Hermione struggled, trying to think of an appropriate introduction for the woman she did not know, but as it turned out, one was not needed. Draco’s face turned as white as a sheet as all the blood rushed out of his face.

“Hello Draco.” The woman said in a disturbingly calm, yet still caring voice.

“M-mum?”

~*~*~

Mum? MUM!? The sales woman was Draco’s mum!? Draco’s mother was alive? Sure, she had never asked, but she just assumed she had died after his father died in Azkaban. Hermione could not help but think that she missed something here, something big.

“Mum?” Draco stuttered again. Clearly Hermione was not the only one surprised by the unexpected guest appearance.

“Yes darling, Happy Christmas!” She said embracing him, but not receiving a hug back. His arms hung lifelessly at his sides. “Thought you could escape inviting me to Christmas dinner now, did you?” She said good-naturedly. Draco remained still, a shockwave of confusion and surprise rippling through him, and not in a good way. Hermione, coming out of her catatonic state, did her best to be hospitable under the circumstances.

“Would you- would you like some, um… tea. Would you like some tea?” She managed to choke out.

“Oh yes dear, some tea would be lovely. Two sugars please, and just a drop of lemon.” Hermione poured the tea with a shaky hand and tried not to rattle the china too much, but Narcissa noticed anyways.

“Please do be careful with that china child, it is a very old family heirloom.” Hermione nodded and handed over the teacup and saucer. Narcissa took a sip, then put it down and pointed at Hermione.

“Now, you must be the girl who has stolen my son’s heart.” She then leaned over to Hermione’s parents and added, “You know, they say Malfoy’s don’t have hearts, a bunch hooey if you ask me. Well, except for his father perhaps…”

Finally regaining his composure, Draco spoke up. “What are you doing here mother? Why aren’t you… you know?” Narcissa waved the question away with her hand as if it was nothing but nonsense.

“So are you Hermione’s parents? Please excuse my rudeness for not introducing myself sooner. I’m Narcissa Malfoy, Draco’s mother.” She said, shaking their hands and taking another drink of her tea.

“How did you know my name?” Hermione asked before thinking.

“Oh now you see that is an interesting story.” She started enthusiastically. “I was working in a store in Hogmeade when this girl comes in looking for a dress for dinner with her parents. Well, we find just the right one; that dress over there, the one she has on and as I’m ringing it up she asks if she can use the floo. Now of course I say yes, and as she is leaving, I recognize the address as my own, and I know instantly that it must be my Draco that she was introducing to you. And really, I just knew I couldn’t miss this.”

“Mother, a word please?” Draco asked firmly, but it sounded more like a statement. Narcissa put down her cup and stood up, smoothing out the wrinkles in her clothing.

“Of course Draco.” She followed him into the kitchen. Closing the door behind her, she turned and looked at her son with his arms crossed and a look that could rival his late fathers’.

“What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at Mungo’s?” He asked.

“It’s been such a long time since the incident; I don’t understand why you insist I stay there.”

“One year is not ‘such a long time’ mother. And you know why I want you to stay there. What’s all this about a job in Hogsmeade? What fool hired you? You don’t have a drop of experience and have never worked a day in your life.”

“Really Draco, its Christmas. Why must you be this way? Are you still sore about that thing with your father? You know I still think counseling is a wonderful idea…”

“NO, I’m not still SORE about my father threatening the existence of half the wizarding world, and honestly mother, why must I be this way? WHY MUST I BLOODY BE THIS WAY? I must be this way because my mother was hit with the most powerful and dangerous memory charm in the books, and I must be this way because she is not capable of realizing the severity of her actions, and I must be this way because you just showed up at my house uninvited and making a fool of yourself and of me in front of the girl I love and her parents. That’s why I must be this way.” He said heatedly.

“Actually, I believe this is my house…” She said.

“No, it isn’t anymore. It was left to me, and so was everything else that would have been yours because you are so unfit for inheriting such a sum of real estate. You still haven’t answered my question of why you are here.”

“It’s Christmas. I wanted to see you. The healers said I was well enough and remembering enough to be on my own about a month ago. I took a flat above the Leaky Cauldron and got a job in Hogsmeade at a clothing store. I’m doing well Draco, you can’t be angry at me for that.”

“Why didn’t you owl me at school then? Why did you have to show up like this on Hermione’s big night? This is the first time I have met her parents. I can only hope they aren’t going to judge me according to this mishap.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t owl you. I don’t remember. I’m sorry Draco.”

“You still don’t remember what he did to you do you?”

“Who?”

“Father. He did this to you. You can’t remember because of him. He’s dead now, but this is his fault.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll go.” They were interrupted by a soft, uncertain knock on the door. Hermione tentatively poked her head in and looked at Narcissa for a brief second before speaking to Draco.

“My parents are preparing to leave. I was wondering if you could come see them off with me. They would like to say goodbye.” She said. Draco felt a large stab of guilt as he looked at her sad face.

“Please tell them to wait, I’ll be there in just a second Love.” She nodded and closed the door gently. He looked back to his mum, who was now looking sorry. “You need to stay here so we can talk, but I need to take care of this.” He walked out into the common room where Hermione stood with her parents in front of the fireplace. She hugged them tightly.

“Be good pumpkin. We love you, and we are very proud of you. Keep in touch, and don’t forget to write us about how the performance went.” Her mother said lovingly.

“Stay tough kiddo.” Her father said, playfully hitting her on the shoulder.

“We are still on for the baseball world series right daddy?” The Grangers were a big fan of muggle baseball, especially Hermione and her father.

“One hundred percent.” They hugged, and then she stepped aside so Draco could get in. He shook Mr. Granger’s hand.

“I am terribly sorry for my mother’s unexpected visit. I had no idea she was going to show up. I wish I could explain everything but…”

“No worries son. Things happen. You take good care of my baby you hear? If I hear anything bad you know what I will have to do.”

“The machete, yes sir I remember.” They smiled at each other and Mrs. Granger gave Draco a quick hug before stepping into the emerald flames.

“Happy Christmas!” Both couples said. Draco wrapped his arm around Hermione’s waist as they waved goodbye together. They disappeared, leaving Draco and Hermione alone in the room. Draco pulled her closer to him and hugged her securely.

“I’m so sorry Hermione.” He whispered into her ear.

“It’s okay. Mum and dad understood, but it would be nice if you could tell me what is going on.” She said, resting her forehead against his and looking into his eyes.

“Could we talk about it later? I still need to deal with my mum.”

“I guess. I’m going to bed.” She said looking away and starting to walk off. Draco pulled her back.

“Hey, I’ll tell you everything later, I promise. I just need to take care of this is all.”

“You could have told me about her sooner you know.” Draco sighed.

“I know, I should have. I just- I need to talk to her first.” Hermione nodded and tried to walk to the stairs but was pulled back once again, by Draco. “I love you Hermione.”

“I love you too.” She said, finally being released from his grasp and going upstairs to their room. Around the corner, a pair of eyes peered, and a pair of ears listened intently, to the scene that had just happened. They watched as Draco sunk into the couch cushions and rubbed his tired face in his hands, trying to understand what in the name of Merlin had just happened.

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