None of them came down until late next morning, they had both been up past their usual bedtime and it was a weekend so they didn’t have work. Hermione had enjoyed the luxury of just lying in her bed for an hour not having to do anything or even get up.
She had been thinking about the night before and a little about Jonathan, well a lot about Jonathan. Actually she had by the time she got up been thinking so much about him that she firstly felt like a teenager again and secondly was wondering if it was possible for one’s brain to overheat because of excessive thinking. She was twenty-three years old for crying out loud! She should be way past the years of teenage crushes.
“You and Jon surely seemed to hit it off,” was Draco’s first comment, as she came into the kitchen and with that he completely ruined the good effect of a cold bath she had just taken to kick a curtain person out of her head.
“I could say the same about you and Eliza,” she sat down opposite him and unfolded the newspaper. He looked kind of guiltily at her.
“Yeah about that, would you’ve liked me to tell you first?”
She thought it very considerate of him to ask her but she shook his head and said: “That would have been to state the obvious.”
“Is it that clear?” he sounded surprised, but well it was difficult to see oneself as others saw one.
“Crystal,” she said distant minded already focusing on the article she was reading leaving Draco with a puzzled look on his pale face.
This was a very typical conversation for the two of them, none of them were very chatty so this was how most meals went and besides meals they didn’t really meet, the manor was quite large so there wasn’t much room for them to bump into each other during the day. Hermione spent every spare minute at the library exploring and reading, she loved it there it was so peaceful and she always knew she was among companions.
The next Tuesday Hermione left the office early to go shopping in Diagon Alley, she hadn’t really gotten to use any of her new money yet and she wanted to try what it was like to walk around not having to consider if the dress was too expensive for her and really just be able to buy things because she felt like it and not because it was necessary.
She had never been a very impulsive buyer and the whole shopping experience hadn’t been her thing, but now she was willing to try.
When she left though the guest entrance and came up into the fresh air she felt happy. It was a beautiful day with sunshine and only a light breeze perfect to shop in. In Diagon Alley there were a lot of people who obviously had had the same idea as she had and witches and wizards were all over. She decided to start with an ice cream.
With the cone in her hand she sat down on a bench and watched the scenery before her. She found it amusing to look at all the stressful mothers who were trying to control their kids at the same time as they handled several parcels and some also an owl or toad. Once in a while she saw people she knew from work and from school and at a time she was sure she saw Eliza walk down the street with another young witch by her side, presumably a sister judging by the distinct resemblance.
She finished her ice cream and wondered where to start her shopping. Well she could always start in Flourish and Blotts. As the bell rung and she stepped into the bookshop she felt the familiar atmosphere and immediately relaxed. She knew bookshops and felt confident in them since she was used to spending a lot of time there.
She waved at Blotts, the shop-owner who was currently standing behind the counter. The two of them knew each other quite well because of her many visits throughout the last couple of years where she had been living in London.
For a while she randomly strolled up and down the shelves just to see if she found anything new and interesting. She only found a couple of antique travelling novels written by a Noelle Niwitch. As she came to the counter to pay, Blotts congratulated her on her marriage and she stared at him in surprise.
“How did you know?” she asked and took her wallet from her purse. Now it was Blotts turn to act surprised: “Hermione, most of the wizarding community knows, Malfoy is a known family, besides it was in the Dialy Prophet.”
Once again she had underestimated the power of the Malfoy name.
“I should have known that...” she mumbled to herself and placed a few galleons on the counter for the books.
“I hear that there is a great library at the Malfoy Manor?” Blotts said curiously.
She nodded: “The biggest in Britain as a matter of fact. Two stories high and filled to the brim with valuable books.”
Soon they were as so often before engaged in a conversation about books. That was one of the things she liked about books, even though there was about fifty years between the two of them they could forget that completely when talking about books. When it came to books age didn’t matter and as long as you had a few intelligent words to say most book-people would let you in without questions.
She told Blotts about the collection of early middle-age poetry she had found in a distant corner of the large library and he offered to come out to the Manor and have a look at it sometime. He had not only a professional, but also a personal interest in antique books and this was a chance of a lifetime if he could get to visit the Malfoy library with its famous collection, and before she left the store they had agreed on a date where he would come see the collection.
She was just looking through some dresses in The Witch and the Wardrobe when she bumped into Jonathan. The Witch and the Wardrobe was a fancy store with a lot of red and pink everywhere and it was only woman’s clothes so it surprised her to see him there.
“What are you doing here?” was her first question as he came into hearing range.
“Just trying to find a gift for Liz, it’s her birthday on Monday,” he answered with his usual smile all over his face. He seemed to smile every time she saw him...
“Oh,” came the reply, “Well...what are you getting her?”
She couldn’t imagine what he could give the beautiful woman that she didn’t already posses.
“I have no idea!” he winked, “Just looking around for inspiration. I’ll probably end up giving her the same as the past two years...”
“And that would be?”
He looked really embarrassed and his cheeks turned slightly pink as he answered: “A twin set.”
“To me Eliza didn’t seem like the person who wears a twin-set.”
He leaned in and stood closer to her. She figured that at least his body language showed that he liked her.
“She doesn’t. I could have sworn I once saw her houseelf Maurie in one of the sets I gave her.”
Hermione laughed again, why did she keep laughing in his company? It wasn’t like he was that funny, she just didn’t seem to be able to help it.
“Do you want me to help you find a proper gift to her?” Hermione politely asked only slightly considering the fact that she was going out of her way to be with him a little longer.
“YES! Thank you, you’re my saviour!” he immediately said and was almost about to hug her in gratitude, “and you are sure it wont get in the way of your own shopping?”
She shook her head, said she had just been looking around anyway.
During the weekend Draco had politely asked her if she would attend to Eliza’s birthday party with him as his wife. She of course answered him that she would love to. Well she would have said that no matter what.
She was curious to see the rest of his friends, now she had been so surprised about Eliza and Jonathan.
“I understand if you would rather stay home,” he almost gently said to her from the other side of the sofa in the library, “I know it’s a kinda strange situation with Eliza being my official girlfriend and you being my wife...”
She just shook her head she knew that both Elizabeth and herself was okay with the situation, so it didn’t really matter.
Suddenly the man across her started laughing. It was a strange noise that she hadn’t often heard before, he rarely laughed out loud only smirked or sometimes smiled. It was somehow a pleasant sound to hear especially because she had only heard it a few times before.
“What is so funny?” she asked.
He barely had breath enough to be able to speak but between cries of laughed he finally managed to say: “I’m asking my wife to my girlfriends birthday!”
The party was one of those where everybody knew everybody, but Draco tried really hard to introduce her to his friends and she knew Jonathan, who was more than willing to follow her around and small-talk with the wizards present.
It was held in an elegant restaurant somewhere in the back streets of London, and Hermione suspected that it was a all-wizard restaurant judging my the moving pictures and the clearly magical atmosphere.
It was a little dark inside and there was a lot of dark furniture, she didn’t feel completely safe in that company, but with Jonathan by her side she managed to be polite towards all the ex-Death Eaters, she was surrounded by. She could just see that they weren’t all good wizards by the way they moved around in small cliques and talked low-voiced with one another. They were also all dressed in black, long-sleeved robes that would cover their dark marks.
Even though it was a birthday party the atmosphere was somewhat sombre and she thought it probably wasn’t here that the whole party would erupt in Happy Birthday any minute.
After making a round to say hallo to everyone she and Draco pulled back into a discreet corner.
“These are your friends?” she asked almost hostile, but not loud enough for anybody to hear. He put his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t speak and pushed her further back into the shadows.
“You have to watch what you say in this company,” he said hoarsely and looked intensely into her eyes making sure she understood every word.
“They could easily kill you and the rest of the room wouldn’t even flinch.”
She began to be a bit scared. Of course she had faced dark wizards before and even fought a couple of them but she had always had someone she trusted near her, it had never been a single-mission. Now she stood as probably the only ‘good’ person in a room full of Death Eaters.
“You just make sure to stay close to Jon or me all the time okay?”
She nodded and he removed this hand again.
“But if all these people want nothing but a chance to kill me why am I here?” she whispered, she knew it wasn’t the most diplomatic thing to ask but she had to know.
“You are my wife. And I don’t want my ... society... to think you are a weakling they can just play with,” he tried to explain.
“I still don’t understand,” she whispered back and held tight onto his hand, so tight that his wedding ring cut into her delicate flesh, but she needed the protection that the closeness would give her.
“I brought you because that shows that you aren’t afraid of them.”
She slowly shook her head. She was.
“You have some explaining to do when we get home...”
For the first time since she met Draco again she began to wonder what had happened in his life during those years since Hogwarts. What exactly had he been up to?
She knew only little of his actions since he hadn’t been in the frontline during the war, at least not anywhere near Ron, Harry and her.
Eliza liked the present Hermione and Jonathan had bought her and thanked them almost warmly for the kind thoughts.
“And I who was expecting a twin set,” she smiled to the two of them as they were standing at the gift table. The birthday child, or rather woman was wearing a long classy black dress, which complemented her pale skin and blonde hair to perfection. The dress had clung to Eliza’s every curve without being slutty and the single light pink rose tied to her shoulder only made it even more suitable for her.
Hermione almost felt a little boring compared to Elizabeth in her quite plain dark blue frock, but on the other hand she always felt boring compared to classic beauties.
“I had a little help picking out your gift this year,” Jonathan answered and winked at Hermione.
Again she noticed how Jonathan seemed extremely cheerful compared to the rest of the party. He was joking with her and flashing his dazzling smile when all the other wizards just stood anonymously talking to each other.
She couldn’t really decide if he fit in perfectly as everyone’s little brother or he just didn’t know them that well and didn’t care if he was the odd one out. He reminded her a little of the stories she had heard of Harry’s godfather Sirius when he had been young.
“Thank you Hermione, that was very sweet of you,” the hostess gracefully replied and bowed her head.
“And now,” Jonathan said, “You can admit that you hated the twin-sets and gave them to your houseelves!”
Eliza kept her face straight as she answered: “I loved your gifts.”
“Ha!” Jonathan replied sarcastically, “cut it out; you thought they were hideous and so they were!”
“This is what happens when people know you too well,” Hermione said to Eliza who smiled back and nodded in agreement.
“Jon and I have known each other since we were born.”
“You did?” Hermione asked to make the other woman tell more.
“Yes, Jon’s family were our closest neighbours. Our parents adored each other,” Eliza continued and rolled her eyes, “Jon and I just strongly disliked each other, but now I have learned to love him like a brother, sometimes a very annoying one who gives lousy gifts, but still a brother.”
“Yeah I love you too Liz,” Jonathan said with a smirk.
“I know you do,” she answered looking completely neutral even though Jonathan had just very subtly and probably out of old habit insulted her.
The evening slowly went by and Hermione survived the strange glances and disapproving of her company as she handled Amanda’s behaviour at work, by ignoring what she didn’t wish to see and setting up a professional, neutral face. It worked quite well for her and she hoped the wizards didn’t notice her constant bodyguard Jonathan, who kept near her all though the evening always with a smile and a witty comment to spare especially for her. It warmed her heart the way she knew that at least two people cared for her, Jonathan and Draco.
If it hadn’t been for them she probably would have escaped as soon as possible from the horrible people present. They weren’t nice, not even towards each other and she nowhere near understood their ‘humour’ if it even deserved to be called so.
The only sort of entertainment offered was a wizard’s duel between a low witch with completely white skin, black hair and a possessed look in her wild eyes and an middle-aged man with yellow teeth and a look like a vampire. During the ten minutes the duel lasted the two of them threw out more nasty curses than she had heard during her seven years at Hogwarts and that included the Weasley Bothers inventive tricks and the Marauders creative curses.
It ended when the little witch had to be carried out from the party on a stretcher and transported to St. Mungos.
On the way out she managed to say a few words even though she had a broken nose and a sprained wrist: “I’ll get you next time Humpfrey!”
The vampire looking man just laughed at her while the rest of the party smiled wickedly.
Hermione felt clearly that she didn’t belong there at all.
A/N: I hope you've all recovered from the shock I gave you in the last chapter and are now ready to leave me a review for this one.
Thank you for reading!
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