The sensation of being stretched and squoze through a bendy straw or tight tube will never be pleasant or natural. However, landing at the front gate of Zabini Manor felt more unpleasant and even more unnatural. The word huge just didn't quite cover it. It was humongous! The grand estate was set on a vast amount of green land which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. The iron wrought double gates signaled the end of the stone drive way that went as far back as Hermione could see. However, she did wonder why they had a drive way considering they proabaly didn't know what a car even was. The manor itself was beautiful. The cream stone walls and black roofing gave the manor a cultural feel but the vastness of the three storey building, the architecture of the historical windows and the magnificent fountain at the front made it seem like it was fit for royalty. Through the cherry wood double doors and inside was the foyer. As expected it was huge. What Hermione didn't expect was for it to be circular. Two sets of staircases curved around the edge of half of the room, meeting at the top in front of a set of double doors. A diamond chandelier, in the centre of the ceiling, reflected multicoloured beams of light on to the bright white walls. Many doors led to some unknown depth of the manor from the foyer and Hermione couldn't wait to explore them.
"You've had a very stressfull day, darling. We'll show you to room so you can settle in and relax", said Seline while giving her daughter a warm smile. Hermione smiled back as Andre lead the way and everyone ese followed. "You're room is in the West Wing of the manor as is Blaise's. Your Father and I have the North Wing and the East Wing is where the guest rooms are. The elves live in the South Wing".
"You have house elves here?" Hermione asked, appalled by the fact that they might expect her to treat them like the other purebloods.
"Yes we do, they are very helpful to have, especially when we have a party or gala, and they are simply splendid cooks. Most are even good company for me during the day. When Blaise is in school and Andre is working, I often find myself in need of a friend and the elves are actually quite entertaining. Tiffany is my personal elf and Caggie will be yours", her mother responded.
"I don't want an elf. I'm very against the use of them actually. They're living creatures just like us and they should be free to choose what they want to do in life rather than live in servitude and obey orders everyday", Hermione stated, her disgust at how elves are treated quite apparent.
"I can assure you dear that none of our elves are mistreated if that is what you are concerned about. They are treated just like what human helpers would be if we were to have them. I think you will find that they actually enjoy living here".
At this Hermione didn't have much to say but Seline couldn't stop a giggle at hearing her daughter mutter something about 'not even paid wages for slave work' under her breath.
"Well hear we are. This is your room", Andre announced turning to look at Hermione. "I do hope you like it. We spent the last few weeks decorating it in the hope that we would be able to find you when you turned 18. If you don't we won't be offended, it can easily be changed".
Hermione turned to the double white doors. In glittering silver letters was the name Sofia which was surrounded by moving stars that flew around the letters like shooting stars and fire works. She turned one of the crystal door knobs and entered. At seeing her bedroom her breath was caught in her throat. Across the floor was a plush rich purple carpet that was unbelievably soft on her feet. The walls were white and thick purple drapes hung over three large windows that were spaced apart on the large wall in front of her. Although, the wall which was behind her white kingsize four poster bed was covered elegantly with purple sparkling flowers in which the stems curled and intertwined with one another artistically. The large bed had sheer purple hangings around the edge which were gathered to side with silver tie backs. On top of her silky purple bedding were white and silver decorative cushions. At the other end of the room was a magnificent white marble fire place with a large mirror above it that had her name in diamonds along the bottom. A purple sofa and two arm chairs surrounded it and a fluffy white rug lay on the floor in front. On the same wall but on either side of the fire place were two doors. Opening the one closest Hermione found an en suite bathroom which was decorated as the same theme as her bedroom and had a sink, toilet, large jacuzzi bath and a shower. She was amazed by everything she saw. It was all so grand but tasteful and girly but not overly so, just how she liked it. The biggest shock however, was through the second white door on the other side of the fire place. It was a walk in wardrobe complete with racks and racks of clothes, shelves upon shelves of shoes and a dressing table with a chair and mirror.
Hermione turned to her Mother stunned.
"But how? You didn't know my size or anything.".
"They're from a witch shop darling, they will change to fit when you put them on", her Mother smiled knowingly.
Hermione blushed a little for not realising this herself but she still couldn't shake off the amazement that she held for the room. Her room. "Holy Merlin! This is my room! I can't believe it", she thought. Looking up to her parents, she thanked them for a truly beautiful room. At this they smiled, proud of the fact that they had got it so completely right, and all three Zabini's left her to settle in.
Upon being left alone Hermione thought about how much her best girl friend Ginny would love this. However, thinking about this only caused her to panic. "She doesn't know, none of them do. Not Harry, Ron or any of the Weasleys. Will they accept me now I'm a Zabini? Will they know that I'm still the same inside? Or will they all just hate me?". The anxiety this caused her made her want to lie down so she climbed onto her bed and rested her tired eyes. It really was comfortable. "Hmm, I could get used to living in luxury", she thought, "Although I'd never become a spoilt pompous brat like Draco Malfoy who walked around with a royal stick up his conceited ass. I wonder what he would say now if he could see me. Living in this manor. Daughter of Seline and Andre Zabini. His best friends twin sister! Ha!". She actually giggled at that. Blaise telling Malfoy that 'mudblood' Granger, as Malfoy liked to call her, is his twin will be hilarious. It was with these thoughts that Hermione drifted off into sleep.
A light knock at the bedroom door awoke Hermione from her slumber. Opening her eyes, she saw her Father peer around the edge of the door.
"May I come in?", he asked.
"Yes of course", Hermione replied.
"Dinner is to be served soon but if you do not wish to dine with us I can arrange for your meal to be brought upstairs. I know it may be a little uncomfortable for you", Andre said as he stepped over to Hermione, who was sitting up on her bed.
"Erm, I think I will come down if that is alright? We may as well dive in head first".
Her Father chuckled at this, amazed at how so alike his daughter was to him.
"Yes we may as well. So, I take it you like your room then?".
"Yes, I love it", Hermione gushed whilst looking at her surroundings in awe. Immediately her eyes fell on the large diamond letters below her mirror that spelt out the name Sofia. Her name. Her Father soon noticed this and turned to Hermione with concern on his face.
"It was my Grandmother's name. Sofia. I loved her very much. She often looked after me as a child and she showed me the world as it truly is, with all of its love and kindness. My parents were often away, adding to the Zabini fortune, but I didn't mind as I got to spend more time with her. She was funny, caring and oh so loving. When she passed away I was devastated but I knew that I wanted to pass on the endearing qualities she bestowed upon me onto my own children. So, when you were born it felt only natural to name you after her. So that is how you, my angel, became my Sofia. My sweet sweet Sofia", her Father said.
Hermione noticed the love and sadness swirling together in his eyes. Now she knew where her name came from, it didn't feel as foreign to her. Now she knew why she was called Sofia, it didn't appear to be so daunting to be addressed as such. However, something stopped her from accepting the name and she knew exactly what that was.
"When Collin and Jane told me who I really was, after I changed, Collin said that my middle name is Narcissa. May I ask how that came about?".
"That is a name that your Mother chose. I am sure she would like the pleasure of telling you why she chose that name. So I will not take it from her. Please, feel free to ask her yourself though, I am sure she would love to tell you".
Hermione had the feeling that her Father was jus avoiding having to tell her himself but she did not press the matter further as Andre soon interrupted her thoughts.
"If you don't mind me asking, why is it that you do not wish to take your real name? I am not angry, a little saddened yes, but more curious to know your reasons why".
Hermione thought about it for a while before deciding to reply honestly.
"Because I don't really know that person. I am and always have been Hermione Granger, not Sofia Zabini. My friends don't know that person. Not Harry or Ron or Ginny. Not the Weasleys, not my professors, not anyone. Whilst it would be nice to change in order to hide from the media, I do not want to lose my friends over this. I have already lost so much already".
"But you have always been Sofia Zabini. Ever since birth", Andre countered. "You may not know everything you wish to right now but it is nothing that your Mother, Blaise and I cannot help you with. It sounds to me that you are not taking the name because you are worried how your friends will react. I know how important they are to you but this is your name and your decision. If your friends love you as much we all know they do, they will accept whatever you choose. Even if they do find it strange, there is nothing to stop you letting them call you what they feel comfortable with. Your name is something I have always been very proud of. When I announced you and Blaise to the world, it filled me with such honour and pride, I finally had my little Sofia. I will not push you or force you to take it but I wish for you to think about it. It would mean a lot to me if you took your rightful name, Sofia Narcissa Zabini".
Hermione thought about it. She wanted to fill her Father's eyes with pride once again but something inside her wouldn't allow her to take the name. Deep down she knew that she wanted to. She wanted to be a proper part of ths family and that meant taking her rightful name. Despite what she said, she felt like Hermione Granger was non-existent but she had clung to it as it was part of her comfort zone. The reaction of her friends if she told them she was a Zabini frightened her too. However, her Father was right, it would show how much she truly meant to them. It was the thought of Ron leaving her that scared her the most. He hated families like this; Slytherin families. But surely if he loved her like she loved him he would accept it. It was a part of her. It was who she really was. He would accept this, he loved her. She knew she would take the name, but there was just one thing that she had to know first.
"Why did you do it? I know the letter Collin gave me said I was in danger but what was it? What was it that made you both give me away? And why only me, why not Blaise?", Hermione questioned her Father, her eyes burning into his.
"It was very dark times. It was the first reign of He Who Must Not Be Named. We had heard through some contacts that You Know Who was looking for a child. A child who was clearly destined to be powerful and talented. Not just any child but a girl. A girl with a strong gene pool that would undoubtedly make them clever and strong. He had no use of boys as he believed he was the ultimate male wizard so any of their powers could not match or improve his own. However, he thought that the power of a girl may be something different. He wanted to drain the child of their powers and store them into himself before he went to kill Harry Potter. He believed it would make him more powerful. We were told by reliabe sources that You Know Who had a target. A young girl with a family he believed to be exceptional. He had targeted you. He wanted to take your powers which would kill you in the process. Your Mother and I were mortified. We couldn't let that happen to you so we came up with a plan. We told the world that you were dead. That you had died of pneumonia. That way it would indicate we didn't know anything of You Know Who's plans and keep you safe. We knew He would check though so we sent you away. We told the Minister of Magic our situation and he arranged for you to go and live with two muggles. We were not allowed to know where you were or who you were. We were only told that we would be notified when the glamour charm broke, which we were, by the arrival of an owl with an explanation and your address. The day we gave you way was the worst day of my life. Your Mother and I were so depressed but we had to take care of Blaise still and so life went on. We thought of you all day every day and we have waited 18 years to bring you home".
Hermione was in shock. Voldemort had targeted her. She had missed out on her family because of him just like so many others. At least she had got hers back though. The information her Father had just given her told her spoke volumes. They had not given her up because they didn't love her, but because they did. They had given away their only daughter so she could survive. If that wasn't love she didn't know what was. With that in mind she looked to her Father defiantly.
"That must have taken a lot of bravery and love. To give your child away like that. To give me away like that. I now know how important I am to you and to this family. I wish to take the name that you blessed me with 18 years ago. I wish to be Sofia Narcissa Zabini. I hope I make you proud, Father".
Her Father stared in shock. He hadn't expected her to take it. Not yet at least anyway. He definitely hadn't expected her to call him Father. It made his heart burst with joy at hearing her say that one word. He couldn't help the tear that ran down his cheek as he looked at his daughter. He took the remaining steps towards her and held her like his life depended on it. She was here. Here in his arms after all this time. His angel. His little girl. His baby. His Sofia.
After a few minutes they broke apart.
"Come now", her Father said, "Your Mother will have our heads if we are late for dinner".
With that, Father and daughter headed off to the dining room to enjoy their first family meal.
Dinner had passed by in a haze of happiness and laughter. After her Father had introduced her as Sofia and Seline had heard her address her as Mother, smiles could not be taken off the 4 faces of the Zabinis. It was after dinner that Blaise had asked her if he could show her something. She of course obliged and off they went through the many corridors of Zabini Manor.
"I think you will really like this", Blaise said as they turned down another hallway, "I'm sure it will make you feel even more at home".
With that, the twins reached the end of the corridor and Blaise pulled back two curtains that hung over part of the wall. Sofia gasped as she saw what was underneath. A huge painted portrait hung there of all of the Zabini family. Sitting at the right was her Mother. Her chocolate hair was piled onto her head and her silver robes stood out on the pal blue background. In her arms lay a small baby with bright eyes the same as her own. This baby, however, was a boy. Blaise. Standing next to them was her father. The pride he was feeling was so evident on his face as he glowed in his midnight blue robes. Cradled in his arms was another baby with dark hair and blue eyes, although a silver bow was visible in her hair. She couldn't believe it. This was her. Her as a baby with her family before they were forced to give her away.
"This is amazing", she gasped.
"I thought you would like it. I'm told it used to hang in the main foyer but Mother moved it after you were gone. Apparently it caused her too much pain. I have often caught Father down here though. Staring at you for hours. Talking as if you could hear him. It might sound like he is crazy but he isn't. I think it helped him to bare the burden to be honest and I think it made him feel like you were still a part of our lives even if we didn't know where you were", Blaise said.
Sofia couldn't take her eyes off the portrait. It truly was beautiful and most importantly it showed her that she really was part of this family. That she belonged here and nowhere else.
"I'm glad you like it. I thought it would be a good welcome home present and a birthday present", he smiled at her.
Sofia had completely forgotten that it was her birthday. Hell! It wasn't just her birthday anymore, it was Blaise's too! "Now that is weird!", she thought.
"I feel bad, I didn't even realise it was your birthday too".
"That's alright, you can get me an amazing present to give me at our party. Mum will no doubt be planning it as we speak so be prepared. It will be even bigger this year now that you're home", Blaise laughed.
"Oh fantastic! I just can't wait to be shown off like a prize pig to everyone".
Blaise smirked at his sister's sarcasm which only caused her to become annoyed.
"What are you smirking at? It isn't funny, I despise being the centre of attention".
"It's alright, sis, my good looks will definitely steal the lime light from you", Blaise winked.
Sofia laughed at this.
"We're identical twins you great buffoon! And I would definitely say that your huge nose makes me the more attractive one".
Blaise was dumbfounded by this which caused Sofia to burst with even more laughter.
"Yeah well at least I'm not the average height of a 4 year old, short arse", Blaise retaliated.
He was in fits of laughter at seeing his sisters red face and clenched fists. He was soon scarpering down the corridor after she lunged at him in order to get her revenge. Her reaction was her weakness though, now he knew the one thing he had over her. His height. "Ah, my sister clearly hates the fact that she is a midget. This will be fun", he thought.
"I don't think your short little legs will carry you fast enough to catch me you know", Blaise shouted over his shoulder.
"Well, I don't think your huge ego will allow you to get through that door anyway, you big headed ass!", Sofia shouted back.
"Now, now sis, I know you're the right height but there is no need to be infantile", Blaise smirked.
"ARGHH! YOUR SO BLOODY FRUSTRATING! TWIN OR NOT, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, BLAISE!".
Downstairs, the two parents were sat in the lounge listening to everything. Looking at each other they shared a smile. Their family was once again complete and family life was just begining. Just how they liked it.
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