The Lady of the Manor
There were two hours of court break and Hermione sat by the café table as she waited for Harry who was ordering their food.
They had not spoken since they left the trial room.
Harry was obviously in a foul mood after all of Draco’s laid out evidences and statements he ruled out that were very much convincing.
He might not yet prove Snape’s innocence but he obviously shook the minds of the jury and the Wizengamot giving a small but enough hole to make way for Snape’s possible escape from the Kiss.
“Hungry?” Harry had quietly asked as he returned to their table with a tray filled with a variety of meals.
He had ordered a soup, salad, some sandwiches, two kinds of pasta and a three orders of different desserts.
Hermione quietly nodded and stared at the food that Harry was serving in front of her.
“Won’t I be cooking tonight?” Hermione asked seeing what he had ordered as she handed him some pasta she placed on his plate and began serving him some of the sandwich across the table.
“Why won’t you be cooking?” Harry asked staring quietly up at her.
He lowered the fork back over the plate as his other hand held the salad bowl.
Hermione recoiled momentarily but she shook her head.
“No, what I mean is that – well, I thought these are too much and you might be full when we get home-“
“Can’t I buy you this much?” Harry asked her with a raised brow.
Hermione stared quietly at him.
“You don’t think I can give you more than enough meals, Hermione?”
“No, Harry, I only meant-“
“You don’t think I have enough money to buy you this much, Hermione?”
Harry lowered the bowl of salad or more like tossed it back on the table after he raised it to serve some for her.
Some people from the café stared back at their table at the slight noise it caused.
Hermione quickly shook her head, alert and aware that some people turned their heads at their direction.
“No, no, ofcourse not.” Hermione quickly said forcing a smile as she picked the salad back and handed it back to Harry.
She grabbed his hand across the table and edged him to add more to her place but Harry pulled his hand and the platter back.
“You don’t think I can provide you with abundant food, Hermione? Are you questioning-“
“No, no, Harry..” Hermione sweetly said as she reached across the table.
She quickly grabbed the pitcher of iced tea and began serving his glass.
“I only meant that you seem hungry and all but ofcourse I’ll cook for you tonight or we can go out to dinner and have some desserts and coffee after?” Hermione offered with a nervous smile over her face.
Harry stared at her for a moment as if reading her thoughts if she really wanted to spend time with him.
Harry blinked then a smile slowly spread across his face as he picked the bowl of salad again and resumed to serving Hermione’s plate.
“Actually, there is this coffee shop just a few streets from our apartment and Fleur once mentioned that they served authentic Parisian cakes. Do you want to try out there later?”
Hermione stared at Harry as he smiled hopefully back at her.
“Yes.” Hermione quickly answered him with a forced smile. “Yes. We can stay there and maybe just have some cozy time together. I’ll bring – bring this book you bought me the other day and I could read it to you and – yes ? You like it? Sounds like a plan? Yes?”
Harry nodded at her and his joyous smile had suddenly returned as he took the glass Hermione had filled and drank from it.
Hermione quietly watched him and felt not just perplexed but somewhat scared at the way his mood changes nowadays and how she needed to quickly balance it in order to avoid unwanted circumstances.
“No.” Hermione quietly answered from the room. “I’m not hungry. Please go away.”
“Miss Granger, please do not try my patience. Open this door or I will force myself in.”
“Miss Granger, if you do not goddamn open this door-“
“I said, leave me alone!” Hermione angrily cried. “Leave me alone! I don’t want anything to do with you! I don’t want anything anymore! I want to die! I want to die!”
Snape stood by the doorway with a shaking hand and a wand in his hand.
He so badly wanted to blow up the door, get inside and just strangle the life out of her because of all the melodramatic acts she has been acting upon for the past days.
“Miss Granger, this will not help you.” Snape reminded her, “Nor would it help Potter.”
“Nothing can help us now.” Hermione cried at out loud. “Nothing except you and you don’t even want to help us!”
Snape cursed as he heard something like glass being broken from the other side of the room.
He had just remembered that he had forgotten to take out the small vase of flowers inside the room that could possibly lead to danger in circumstances like one that was happening at the moment.
“Miss Grange, please open this door-“
“I SAID GO AWAY! I DON’T WANT YOU! I DON’T NEED YOU! I WANT TO DIE!”
Snape was shaking in anger as he stood by the doorway with her tray of food on the floor.
She hasn’t eaten since the previous night that he had first bought news to her.
That was the very reason he never wanted to bring her news about the outside world or anything about her loved ones. He knew she was going to be this way.
It was too much to ask to save her but to have to baby sit her this way whenever tantrums like this occur was already beyond his patience.
“I did not say that I do not want to help you.” Snape said as he listened to her restless cries since the previous night.
She hasn’t eaten and she has somehow managed to lock herself inside the room and had done nothing but cry for hours and hours.
He was getting worried but he took a mental note of using enchantment after this incident that would enable only him to lock and unlock all doors in the cottage.
He wasn’t sure what to do anymore. Her whining was driving him beyond mad but he was also worried that her health would go back into a relapse if she doesn’t stop from exhausting herself.
“Miss Granger, you just healed recently, please you must think about yourself as well-“
“What like you?” Hermione angrily screamed back at the door. “Think of myself first above anyone else?!”
Snape’s fists balled into a ball. He wanted to hit the door.
“I said, go away!”
Snape closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
The echo of her cries were dementing and he seriously was too tired today to endure another long night of hearing her helpless voice across the hallway and all the way to his bedroom.
“Hermione.” Snape said knocking again. “Hermione, please have your dinner and if you feel better… we can talk about it.”
“Hermione, please.” Snape said as he turned around and rested his back against the locked door.
“Hermione, if you take your meal tonight I’m going to consider it seriously and we can talk about it.”
Still, only her cries could be heard.
“Hermione, I cannot help you if you do not help yourself.” Snape slowly said as he stood straight again and decided to leave because he knew that sooner or later he was going to lose his patience completely.
“I’m going to consider what you ask of me but you would have to help me help you gain strength first.”
Her crying seemed to falter but she was still on it.
“I need you to have strength, Hermione.” Snape slowly said. “I need your help to create it. The potion cannot be done by one person alone. And there are certain.. ingredients that you would have to provide.”
Snape listened but there was no change at the other side of the room.
“I’m going to have my dinner. If you change your mind I’ll be at my laboratory tonight.”
And with that, Snape slowly walked out of the hallway and down the stairs.
He was too occupied in his mind to consider what she was asking that he barely heard when Hermione’s door slowly creaked open and she was staring down the stairs where his silhouette has faded as he disappeared to his office downstairs.
“Draco, are you certain these are the questions you would have to ask?” Snape slowly asked as he stared at a parchment across the table.
They were at the holding room at the courtroom but now the room seemed a little cozy.
Since Snape was now provided with a ‘Defense Council’, he needed to be transferred into a holding room not just for a prisoner but one that could provide room for Draco.
It was small with two long couches, a wooden desk with three chairs, a small fireplace and a decent foyer at the side of the room where food were placed for them.
Draco had ordered food for the two of them and four more for the Aurors guarding the outside of the room and who had all declined it.
Draco nodded in a mouthful of Italian cuisine he had ordered for them.
Snape stared momentarily at the pasta, greens and some bread across the table but he did not feel like eating.
Despite that Draco had been providing him with better meals nowadays, his appetite did not improve at all.
“Yes.” Draco pointed at the parchment in his godfather’s hand. “It took me hours to study and write them down.”
“I can tell you’ve been studying the case and have been well-organized.” Snape pointed out as he rested the parchment on the table and sat back down over the chair.
“Do you have a problem with the questions? Do you have more suggestions or better ones?”
Snape shook his head.
“I never imagined you would be one fit for this job, Draco.” Snape said and a small smile spread across his face for the briefest of moment.
Draco stared up at him for a moment as if it was the first time that Snape genuinely complimented me.
“I’ve always been smart.” Draco pointed out smugly.
“But you’ve never really put that head of yours to good use.” Snape answered him with a small smirk.
Draco nodded and stared as his godfather continued reading the list in his hand.
In truth, he did study the case well and there were loopholes he could probably bend to their will in order to free him.
But he needed to be very smart and very fast with the transition of the case against Snape.
He needed to be smart enough to outwit the jury and the full Wizengamot especially the eldest member who seemed to know lies miles away from him.
Harry was also another case.
He might have been the Chosen One who saved the world but it was obvious that he was quite desperate to do anything that would take in order to win the case against Snape – even if it meant using his name, power and current status in the Wizarding World to bend the truth to his will.
“Draco?” Snape’s voice came after a while.
“Yes?” Draco said staring up at him.
“Some of these questions..” he paused as he stared and read down a couple of them.
“What about them?”
Snape stared up at his godson.
He knew he was smart – way smarter than he thought – but the questions in his hand that he needed to prepare for and the questions that were to be asked to Hermione were of his concern.
They were brilliant – yes.
But some of the questions were actually things he did not want to go through or he thought might hurt Hermione.
“Are all these necessary?” he asked him. “Will you be asking all of this? All of it?”
Draco stared up at him and nodded.
“You want to be free.” Draco said. “This is the strategy that we’re going to use.”
“And Hermione agreed?” Snape concernedly asked him. “She agreed?”
“I haven’t spoken to her.” Draco said. “Not yet anyway. But I’m sure that she will not have anything against these questions.”
“Hermione begged me to help you.” Draco said standing up from the couch. “She was the one who begged me to free you whatever it takes.”
“Draco, how much did Hermione show you?” he quietly asked her. “How much memories exactly did she show you?”
Draco stared at him for a moment.
It was obvious that he did not want to answer the question at hand.
“I suggest you eat.” Draco said as he grabbed a couple of the parchments from the table. “You need to focus and concentrate on the resume of trial once this break is over.”
And with that he suddenly walked out of the room and left Snape lost in thoughts with the parchments in his hand.
“How is she?” Narcissa softly asked as she lay quietly over the four-poster bed.
“She’s fine.” Snape replied as he finished placing the bottles of potions in order over the table.
He looked up and stared at Narcissa’s nervous physique on the bed.
“I still do not understand why we have to do it here and not at the manor.”
“I already told you why.” Narcissa snapped at him. “Unless you do not want to help me, then I’m off.”
“You are easily offended.” Snape said smiling at her. “Signs of aging?”
Snape heard Narcissa stifle a laughter.
He stared at the bottles before him, at the wands at the ready and at the materials that were laid over the long wooden table.
“Does she know what’s about to happen?” Narcissa curiously asked after a while.
Snape mixed two bottles of potions into a glass goblet and the liquid turned into a colour of red wine.
“Not everything.” Snape replied taking the goblet and walking to the bed. “She’s aware of some of the procedure but not everything. But she already understands what is going on.”
Snape helped Narcissa on the bed and helped her rest her body against the headboard of the bed in the inn he secretly checked her in.
For the past several weeks, he had been taking her into several inns around London in order to help her gain strength and heal what else could be salvage out of her.
She only had a handful amount of time in her hand as the curse had spread through her blood.
It was a blood curse that might have been passed through families and separate generations.
Narcissa was the unfortunate Black of the family to have received it.
“Take this.” Snape said helping her drink the potion from the glass goblet. “It is a quick sensation. You will be asleep and I will be able to take some of your blood.”
Narcissa nodded and finished the wine-like potion in a few gulps.
“Tastes like grapes.”
“I’m doing everything to make sure this process will be as pleasant as possible for you.”
“Nothing is pleasant about dying, Severus.” Narcissa pointed out.
Snape shook his head and stared at his friend.
Narcissa reached for his hand and pressed it firmly.
“Thank you.” her voice was gentle but serious. “For everything.”
“Do not thank me yet.” Snape said as he nodded at her ill-physique. “We are yet to sort this.”
“I am dying.” Narcissa pointed out. “The least I can do is help you figure out a way out of the Urduja Curse.”
Snape did not say anything.
He gently withdrew his hand from her.
“How did she take it?” she asked him gently seeing the sorrowful look over his pale face.
“Not very well.” Snape honestly said and Narcissa could sense the stress in his tone.
“Not very well?”
“I’ve already caught her twice doing something that is not a good idea at all for her well-being.”
“She’s depressed.” Narcissa said nodding her head. “And frustrated.”
“She wants to go back, ofcourse.” Snape told her. “She still wants to go back.”
“A desperate person will do anything to get what he or she wants.” Narcissa said. “There is a danger in that.”
Snape didn’t say anything.
“She must try and understand the consequences of that want.” Narcissa said looking up at him.
“She does.” Snape said. “She is trying but it is very hard for her.”
Narcissa did not say anything.
“The potion we need would be ready soon?”
“I need two more tests and another week, Cissy.” Snape said as he returned to the table with potions and ingredients and books.
“I am sure that it will work.” Narcissa told him. “Bellatrix executed the curse. Bellatrix is a Black.”
Snape did not say anything.
“And I am a Black as well.” Narcissa whispered after a while. “I worry about you.”
“You should not.” Snape said. “I can take care of the consequences right after.”
“The aftermath wouldn’t be easy. Attempting to seal it is already too much but the aftermath of it would be devastating.”
“She does not have a choice.” Snape simply put. “Neither do I.”
Narcissa stared at the cauldron with boiling potion.
She could suddenly feel the heavy sleepiness inside her head and realized Snape’s potion was already working on her.
“A few years, Severus?” Narcissa asked him.
Snape stared at her for a moment as if telling her that it wasn’t something to be talked about.
“How few?” Narcissa sleepily asked him as the potion began working itself on her.
Snape nodded and kissed her hand in gratefulness for the friend he has in times of great need.
“How few, Severus?” Narcissa asked, her eyes were faltering, blinking as she tried to keep herself awake.
“A few years.” Snape gently replied closing her eyes with his gentle hands. “Seven years.”
“Are you sure that you’re ready to give this up?” Hermione slowly asked as she stared at the beautiful bottle in her hand.
It was a crystal vial with an emerald top and a golden design around its glass.
Snape stared up at her from large cauldron over the table that was bubbling with water and a few herbal ingredients.
“There’s no point staying in the past.” Snape simply said as he forced his attention back over the ingredients he was preparing on the long wooden table around the large cauldron.
Hermione stared at the bottle then back up at him and then back at the bottle in her hand.
“How did you get it?” Hermione asked staring closely at the contents of the vial with great interest.
“Hogwarts days.” Snape simply answered her.
“Hogwarts days?” Hermione repeated. “Like how? Like how did you ask for it or how did you-“
“Are you well rested?” Snape asked from the table and Hermione quickly realized that he did not want to discuss the subject nor the mere memory of it.
“I feel better, professor.”
“Yes, Miss Granger?”
“I’m sorry about the way I acted the other night.” Hermione quietly said. “It was childish of me.”
Snape did not answer.
“This will be ready in a few minutes. Where’s the parchment?” he asked her.
Hermione stood from the couch and walked to the table where Snape was busy with the rest of the ingredients he was preparing.
“Please put that aside for now.” Snape said staring at the vial in her hand. “You can put it back at the box where you’ve taken it.”
Hermione stared at him as he kept his eyes on the cauldron he was mixing with some herbs.
Hermione nodded and returned the vial over the black box she has taken it from.
She took a parchment from the pocket of her clothes and handed it to Snape.
He took it from her and checked the ingredients around the table and then he took a quill and wrote something at the side.
“Please remind me about the stirs later. I might be confused.”
“I can do it.” Hermione offered him. “I’ll just stir them up. It’s one of the last few steps anyway.”
Snape stared up at her and could tell how nervous she was as she watched him with his progress.
“Things will be better.” Snape told her. “This was one of the potions I’ve made in my final exam before I got my license.”
Hermione stared up at him. The comfort of his assurance wasn’t enough to satisfy her worry.
“How many did you make?”
“Twelve.” Snape said. “I had to create it in front of a full jury.”
“How many were there?”
“Twelve as well.” Snape simply answered.
He moved around the table and began chopping some things then and grinded them soon into smaller bits.
“Is that what I need to slowly add later as you stir?”
“Not yet.” Snape replied. “That ingredient will be added later. I will handle it.”
Hermione nodded and continued to watch him quietly with his progress.
“What’s wrong?” Snape’s voice came.
“What?” Hermione asked him, slightly confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well, Miss Granger, you’re usually nosy and noisy whenever you watch me create potions. But today..”
“Today is different.” Hermione said indignantly. “This potion is different.”
“So you think your silence will make it perfect?”
“I think my silence will help you focus more.” Hermione pointed out. “You always tell me how noisy I can get around here.”
Snape stopped chopping and he slowly lowered the objects in his hands as he stared at her mournful face.
She was quietly staring at the liquid that was brewing but he knew that her mind wasn’t there.
“Miss Granger, things will be better.” Snape said, standing up straight. “Miss Granger?”
“I know.” Hermione said. “I know, I know professor. I know things will be. You’re making the potion – nothing can go wrong.”
“But you are worried.” Snape said. “And worry will not get you anywhere.”
Hermione was silent as she stared up at him as if she wanted to hit him.
“You can’t make me stop worrying.” Hermione muttered.
She shook her head and turned away from the table and Snape could hear her stifled cry.
He watched out of the corner of his eyes as she sat quietly back at the couch, fidgeting with her fingers and nervously trying to focus on other things than the potion they were making.
“So what were these twelve potions you’ve made for your jury?” Hermione asked cutting him short and obviously wanting to change the subject.
Snape eyed her carefully as she began walking around the small room, amazed by the walls paneled with bookshelves and several of his books that he has managed to transfer at the cottage from Hogwarts and Spinner’s End.
“Do you still remember the potions you’ve made?” she asked narrowing her eyes as she read some of the titles that were hard to read from the shelves.
“Ofcourse.” Snape confidently answered her as he continued making the potion by the table. “I’ve spent six months researching, travelling for the rare ingredients and working and practicing on each of the twelve potions before presenting it to the jury to just forget all of it.”
Hermione made a noise that sounded to him like a small laugh.
“So what were the potions?”
“Polyjuice Potion.” Snape began counting them mentally from his head as he added several ingredients on the cauldron with clear liquid inside it.
“Polyjuice?” Hermione muttered.
“I’m sure you remember how it’s made.”
“Professor.” Hermione said almost sounding as if she was warning him not to get on that memory.
Snape smirked and shook his head at the memory of it about her.
“Right. So there was Polyjuice Potion, Amortentia-“
“A love potion?” Hermione repeated turning her head back at him and shaking it.
“What?” Snape asked her with another smirk. “Don’t tell me you’ve-“
“No, ofcourse not.” Hermione said. “I mean, just in class at professor Slughorn. He introduced it to us.”
Snape nodded knowing of it as he was at the office of the headmaster when he presented the curriculum he proposed for the year.
“Why would that potion be included?” Hermione asked him curiously. “I mean it’s not like-“
“It’s not important?” Snape helped out.
He shook his head at the naïve way she saw the potion.
“It’s not just a love potion, Miss Granger. I’m sure you would see through it in time why it isn’t so.”
Hermione nodded and quickly calculated and considered in her head the negative possibilities of the use of the love potion.
“It could be dangerous?” Hermione suggested as she looked closely up at him. “Right?”
“Correct.” Snape repeated. He looked up at her. “I would have given you points, Miss Granger.”
“No you wouldn’t.” Hermione blandly said turning her attention back to the shelf. “You’ve never given me any points for the correct answers I’ve ever given in your class.”
“Never?” Snape asked.
“Never.” Hermione assured him confidently.
Snape was silent.
“Have you ever tried it?” Hermione asked him. “I mean I know you would NEVER really use it and all. But have you ever considered of it? Have you ever, you know, attempted to use it on her?”
Snape was silent.
He stirred the potion several more times and covered the cauldron and reached out for a couple of ingredients he began grinding over the table.
“Sorry.” Hermione quickly said realizing how personal the question was. “I didn’t mean to.”
“I haven’t.” Snape answered her truthfully. “Never.”
Hermione did not say anything.
“There were several circumstances when chances were quite there.” Snape slowly continued as he kept his eyes over the potion he was creating.
“Really?” Hermione asked, interested.
Snape nodded and he almost smiled as he gained back her attention.
“So what made you stop?” Hermione asked him.
“I just..” Snape breathed out, thinking why he never did and the answer was quite simple.
“I just couldn’t do it.” Snape simply said. He looked up at her. “I couldn’t make her fall in love with me and have my conscience bear the reason for it if she has fallen in love with me.”
“You loved her so much.” Hermione pointed out. “You’ve loved her all your life.”
Snape did not answer once again.
He walked to the other side of the table and carefully read through the ingredients.
“Anyway, the purpose of the twelve potions were to create the most potent and most popular ones – the hardest ones to create actually – so that you can be fully qualified Potions Master. We had to make the most complex ones to attain the vast knowledge of each ingredients and the large varieties and sorts of potions. Intensive research were needed and they had me draw the potions.”
“Draw the potions?”
“Draw lots.” Snape said with a smirk. “That’s how the potions were chosen.”
Hermione’s eyes widened at the idea of having to take an intense potions exam in front of highly skilled Potions Masters.
“You must have memorized a dozen of them or hundreds of them to ensure that you’ve.. wow, professor Snape, I knew it wasn’t easy but – just wow. The things you might have gone through to get to that point.”
“It wasn’t really that hard.” Snape said with a small boast in his tone. “Well, for me atleast.”
“Well if you’ve always been interested at the subject. I supposed you won’t find it hard given that you’re already gifted at it.”
Snape had given her a small smile that she had missed.
He was enjoying it actually, having someone to talk to at that moment as he created a very crucial potion. It lessened the stress of making it and the purpose of making it.
“What were the others?” Hermione asked after a while as she began cleaning away the unused ingredients.
“So we have Polyjuice Potion, Amorentia, Felix Felicis was also included and-“
“And then this potion?” Hermione helped out. “This potion you’re making?”
“Correct.” Snape answered her. “It was one of the potion from the twelve that got the highest mark.”
“You’ve been graded for each?”
“Ofcourse.” Snape answered her. “Did you think the exam was easy?”
“No.” Hermione quickly said. “I just did not think that the jury would be that scrutinizing and all.”
“They were very.” Snape pointed out. “Professor Slughorn was actually there. Ofcourse he wasn’t jury since he was my professor. But various of Potions Master and Mistress were present and he was there awaiting I finish it.”
“Were you scared to take it?” Hermione asked him. “Were you?”
Snape put down the stirring rod he was using and stared at the liquid inside the cauldron and covered it again.
He slowly placed the ingredients aside and began rereading the parchment and two books that lay open over the table.
“Professor?” Hermione asked turning to him and walking to the table. “Were you scared?”
“No.” Snape answered her lowering the book and staring up at her.
“Really?” Hermione asked with a bright smile over her face.
He sighed heavily and closed the book as he gave her his full attention.
“I need you to listen to this.” Snape slowly said.
“Whenever you make a decision to do something – absolutely anything at all – you have to stand up for it.”
Hermione was listening and she knew that they were talking beyond the potion story and fear she was asking about.
“There are things you can’t really be fearless about.”
“Yes, correct again, Miss Granger.” Snape said with a small smile. “But you see, once you decide on something you must stand up for it. You see, each of us is scared on and about something and there is no point denying that.”
“So what do you do?”
“Do not be scared or don’t do it at all.”
Snape breathed and looked down at her curious face that seemed to glow in the candlelight from the small room.
“Miss Granger, listen to me.” Snape slowly said and there was something in his voice that told Hermione that he was telling her something from his own experience.
“There are many things each of us will always be scared of but we need to decide on. But you see.. If you are scared to do something, then don’t do it.” His black eyes carefully held hers and it was almost hypnotizing for her. “But if you decide to do it, then you must not be scared.”
Hermione could only stare back at him after what he said.
He nodded and returned to the other side of the table and began listing down something from the two books that lay open on the table.
Hermione quietly watched his skillful hands write with the quill, turn the pages, back in touching some of the ingredients from the table.
She quickly blinked away the moment she realized she had been unconsciously gaping at his work and progress around the room.
She moved away from him and from the table upon realizing the uncertain, unwanted and sudden rise of her heartbeat that she did not understand.
Snape looked up from the table and to her as she withdrew herself at the other end of the table.
“The potion wouldn’t be done down to its boil until about another hour. You can take rest. I’ll wake you up when your help is already needed.”
“No, I can stay awake all night.” Hermione said sitting opposite him on the large wooden table and reaching for one of the books across from her.
“Hermione, you look very tired. I think you should-“
“I’ll just read and wait here, professor.” Hermione cut him short, avoiding his gaze and forcing herself to read the text on the book in her hand so that she wouldn’t be enticed to look up at him again.
Hermione was woken the following morning by noises that came from their living room.
Dressed in her nightdress, she wore an extra robe over herself and walked out of their room.
“Harry?” she called at the top of the staircase as she tired her hair into a messy bun and began walking down the stairs.
“I’m in here!” Harry’s voice called up from the living room.
Hermione listened and could hear movements and various voices from the living room.
She felt slightly conscious and decided she wanted to change clothes but she was already halfway down the stairs and Harry suddenly came into view.
He was holding several parchments in his hand and was smiling up at her with an excited look over his face.
“What’s going on?” she slowly asked him with a reluctant smile.
Harry jumped up the stairs to her and kissed her on the cheek.
“Come. I was going to wake you up. Good thing you’re up.” Harry pulled her hand to him and began showing her the parchments in his hand.
They showed different drawings, layouts, designs and colours.
“Harry’s what are these-“
“Oh, here is the beautiful bride!” cried out a woman who suddenly jumped at Hermione and gave her a tight hug.
Hermione looked up, dazzled and confused as the woman let her go.
She stared at her and knew that she had never seen the woman in her life.
She looked around the room and Fleur walked up to her and gave her an embrace.
“This is Elise.” Fleur introduced the woman who was gaping at Hermione with excitement.
“She was the woman who made my bridal gown and also the same one who helped me layout the decorations at my wedding with Bill.”
“Wedding?” Hermione asked her. “Bridal gown?”
“Yes.” Fleur said with a confused smile. “We’re ought to plan the wedding today, right?”
“Wedding?” Hermione repeated with wide eyes. “My wedding?” she asked turning her head around looking for Harry.
Harry was talking to two other people from Elise’s team and was checking some table that seemed to show a chart of table seating arrangements.
He nodded at the two witches he was talking to and looked up at Hermione adjusting his glasses.
Hermione was quick to notice the change of mood from the expression of his eyes from her earlier tone.
“Yes, today.” Fleur’s voice came from her side as she pulled a sketchbook that was filled with different bridal gown designs.
“Yes, today – today, I forgot, I’m sorry.” Hermione quickly said avoiding Harry’s gaze and quickly turning her attention to the sketchbook.
“I mean, we talked about it.” Hermione had said not really remembering when they did, “But I just did not really –“
“Would you like to postpone this?” Harry’s voice asked her in a serious tone.
Hermione looked up at him with a smile, pretending she did not hear what he had said.
Harry stared at her and without warning, he threw back on the table the charts in his hands.
The room had gone quiet from all the rabbles of excitement and talks.
“I said, would you like to postpone this wedding plans we have? All these planning we have to do today?”
His voice was calm but Hermione knew it was under controlled rage.
She stared at him and could swear that he was just waiting for her to make the wrong answer.
“No.” Hermione quickly said taking the sketchbook and flipping through the pages. “Don’t be ridiculous, Harry. It just slipped my mind, that’s all. I was too tired lastnight-“
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m not saying anything, Harry.”
“Hermione, if you don’t want to continue this today I can cancel. I don’t want to-“
“No, Harry.” Hermione’s tone was hard and fierce. “We’re doing this today, so I suggest you take another look at those charts again.”
She was breathless as she spoke. She was shaking deep inside in both fear and anger and what was happening before her. She obviously did not have a choice at the matter at hand.
“Alright.” Harry said with a small smile spreading back in his face.
Hermione watched as he picked up the charts from the table and ignored the slight mess he had created.
He smiled at everyone and crossed the room and placed his hands around Hermione’s waist.
“Relax, sweetheart.” Harry had said with a smile as he gently pressed his nose at the side of her cheek. “No need to raise your voice. Yes?”
Hermione looked up at him with annoyance in her face.
“Yes.” she simply replied with a forced smile. “Do you mind if I take the sketchbook with Fleur in our study?” she asked wanting some space and privacy from him.
“Can’t you do that here?”
“I want my chosen design to be a surprise for you.”
Harry stared quietly at her as if trying to read through her thoughts.
When it was obvious that Hermione wasn’t really thinking or planning to do otherwise, he nodded and agreed.
“I’ll have some drinks taken there.”
He kissed her again and nodded at Fleur.
“I can take care of it, Harry.” Hermione said gesturing for Fleur to follow her and the left the room without another word.
“I can absolutely take care of it.” Narcissa voice was assuring and comforting for him. “Everyone will be at their position to ensure your entry is smooth and safe. Are you sure you can make it by the planned time?”
“Yes.” Snape said staring at the blueprint and map that Narcissa has handed him.
Narcissa was carefully observing Snape’s face.
“You are worried?” she slowly asked him.
Snape did not answer.
He was infact, terrified.
“Narcissa, I must not be seen at all costs.”
“And it’s my job to make sure of that.” Narcissa confidently told him. “I tell you to trust me on it.”
“I trust you.” Snape said with a firm nod. “But we can’t make a mistake.”
Narcissa did not say anything.
What they are about to do was as good as a suicide attempt if they were caught or if the Dark Lord gets the slightest hint of what they were about to do.
“I have friends who will take care of the rest of the things that are needed once you are at the hospital. Your job is simply to get into that room.”
“Friends? Your friends?”
“My friends.” Narcissa said with a sly smile. “Not Lucius’.”
He knew that she was talking about certain people that only she knew of and none that were ever connected to Lucius Malfoy.
“Narcissa, you’re the only one I can trust with this.”
“You’re the only one I entrust with Draco and the rest that must be done.” Narcissa’s voice was so serious that Snape knew how important this was for her.
“I know what must be done.”
“It is crucial the boy lives.” Narcissa said. “We cannot let him die, Severus.”
“He’s not going to die.”
Another long silence fell.
“How is she?”
“She’s a headache.” Snape truthfully answered. “We had to repeat the potion because of her anxiety to make it. I’m only grateful we haven’t added the last and most crucial ingredient before the accident.”
“And her skin?”
“Marred.” Snape replied. “But it would heal soon. I was able to manage the damage before it could do something that would have been permanent.”
“I already told you. She was too eager and anxious about the potion. She made some miscalculations. We were making it for hours and she barely had any sleep and food when we made the potion. She’s too exhausted but it would have taken another round of tantrums if I don’t allow her to help and most importantly, the potion is really done by two people.”
“She’s anxious and scared. She’s also confused. She feels a lot of things all at the same time, Severus.” Narcissa said in an almost amusing tone. “You must be patient with her.”
“Have I not been patient enough with her?” Snape irritably snapped at her. “Do you think she’s the only one who can harbor so many feelings at the same time?”
“Why tell me Severus, do you feel emphatic now towards what women feel? Boy, I did not know there was a feminine side of you.”
“You are truly amusing my dearest friend. Too much emotions, too much to bear lately?” she asked him with a smile.
Snape felt affronted.
“Or simply too much confusing emotions because she’s around?”
“That is most insulting.” Snape said although he did not sound the littlest bit of insulted.
“Well, I told you already this was never a good idea in the first place. You and her?” Narcissa asked him. “How much should I bet that sooner or later one of you will surely confess certain.. feelings?”
“Don’t be pathetic.”
“Or perhaps you had already?” Narcissa teased him.
She uncrossed her leg from the couch she sat opposite Snape and stared back at her friend.
“Now tell me, Severus, have you confessed your long time feelings for the girl?”
“This topic is already done.” Snape pointed out. “I already told you that this is pathetic. I bore no feelings for the girl.”
Narcissa only stared up at him and shook her head.
“Alright, alright.” Narcissa said shaking her hand in the air. “Anyway, I need to go back at the Manor. I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
Narcissa stood up and Snape only nodded, eyes still on the map and blueprint he put on the small table.
“Don’t be nervous.” Narcissa said as she gathered her purse with her and straightened her clothes. “I’ll deal with everything that would be needed to ensure that your way to the boy’s room is clear. Focus on what you have to do.”
“I know what I’m about to do.”
“Severus, are you thinking twice of this?” she asked him in a firm voice. “Are you having second-thoughts in doing this? Because if you are, then I suggest we do not even go there because if this plan fails we’re all going to-“
“I’m sure about this.” Snape said looking up at her. “I’m sure about doing this.”
“You don’t look and sound like it.” Narcissa pointed out.
Snape looked away.
In truth, did he want to do it?
Once more, it was for the ‘greater good’ so he had no qualms of doing it since he knew he had to do it anyway.
There was no question if he wanted to do the right thing.
But somewhere in him, an unexplainable and inexplicable feeling was stirring.
“I’m doing it.” Snape said standing up and picking up the papers from the table. “It must be done.”
“Do you want to make love tonight?” Harry asked in a teasing voice. “You’ve been staring at me.”
Hermione quickly turned and looked away from him.
She finished the glass of milk that Harry had made for him earlier and placed the empty glass at the end table on her side of the bed.
She turned back to the bed and prepared it for them.
Harry was dressing and changing to his sleeping clothes and Hermione’s eyes had been unconsciously staring at a small mark at the lower left side of Harry’s ribcage area.
“Sorry.” Hermione quickly said not wanting to entice Harry into an activity that she did not want anyway.
“You’ve been staring at it.” Harry pointed out as he turned to the side of the room and stared at the reflection of his ribcage are from the mirror.
It was a small mark and bruise that never really healed.
“It must have been some sort of scar.” Harry said. “I had it since I got out of the hospital.”
Hermione did not say anything as he spoke and told her the story of the mark at the side of his body.
“Does it look ugly to you?” he asked her.
“No.” Hermione said. “Just like your scar, it’s a mark that you’ve survived.” Hermione quietly said as she folded the blanket and fixed the array of their pillows.
Harry’s eyes strayed down his own body and at the mark.
It wasn’t painful but it smeared a memory in him.
He had guessed that it was a mark he had gotten from the fall from the building that he and Ron had jumped from in an attempt to escape the Death Eaters who pursued them as they created the bait and lured them in their search for Hermione.
“It never healed.” Harry said as he dressed into black long-sleeves. “One of those marks, you know.”
“Yeah.” Hermione agreed as she pulled the sheets over so Harry could climbed up the bed. “One of those marks.
Harry nodded and pulled her close to him on the bed.
Hermione took a book from the side of her bed and despite that it irritated Harry to have another ‘book reading’ session before their bedtime, he did not say anything about it.
It was better settled this way than her having to try and escape again.
He found ways to tame her and so he would play the part for the meantime.
He decided that there was no good use for him to have Hermione having tantrums and trying to escape while the court trial was on-going.
But once that was done and Snape would be out of his way, he would have to deal with Hermione completely and have her follow what was apt and right for their relationship.
He pulled her closer to him and had her head rest against his chest as she opened the book and began reading quietly.
He kissed her fine brown tresses and kept her fingers brushing the side of her face and then her head to help her fall asleep as he had noticed it was a trick to tame her to sleep giving her almost night-mare free nights.
“Does it calm you when I do this?” Harry asked as he gently continued to brush her hair, his eyes running through the pages she was flipping but wasn’t really reading at all.
“Mmmm.” Hermione sleepily said with a short nod.
“Do you like it?” Harry asked.
“Yes.” Hermione murmured as she turned another page.
They continued quietly lying against one another on the bed for another hour until Hermione could no longer understand what she was reading and decided to sleep.
She closed the book and laid it back on the end table by the side of her bed and turned back to Harry.
“I love you.” Harry said kissing her forehead and tucking her right under the sheets close to him.
Hermione smiled sleepily at him and nodded.
She placed a brush of a kiss at the side of his face.
“Goodnight Harry.” Hermione simply said and she turned her back against him and just scooted closer to him so he could place his arms protectively around her as if ensuring that she wasn’t going to sleep away in his sleep.
“Goodnight.” Harry murmured against her tresses as waved his hand across the air and the light dimmed a little giving a small star-like glow to just lit their room.
As Hermione rested and easily fell into a sleep, Harry did not.
He had absolutely no plans of sleeping tonight.
“We send our regrets to you and seek to hope for the comfort and peace of your heart and mind, Mr. Malfoy.”
Draco looked up and saw his old professor Lupin extending his hand to him.
Lupin was with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Kingsley, another Auror and to his great surprise, Harry Potter himself.
It had been two years since the downfall of the Dark Lord.
Death Eaters have been killed or have been sent to Azkaban and in his father’s case, was sent to Azkaban while Bellatrix Lestrange suffered another fate in the hands of the Aurors.
His mother, Narcissa Malfoy however, had suffered a different fate.
He knew that something was wrong with Narcissa Malfoy but his father refused to admit it or more like he did not want to pay attention to what was happening to her to avoid division of his attention in pursuing the Dark Lord’s wishes and tending to his family.
Ofcourse, Draco was different.
He knew something was different and something was terribly wrong with his mother.
But Narcissa was also a stubborn woman. She did not want to admit it to anyone, least of all Draco, whom she was aware was intelligent enough to figure sooner or later that something was wrong with her.
It had been a sudden, terrible and devastating two weeks for Draco.
Her mother had awaken at the midst of the night with a scream from a terrible pain that was searing through her heart and her nose was bleeding horribly.
Draco had quickly had them taken to St. Mungo’s hospital.
He tried his best to keep it down from many people but he was a Malfoy and so was she, a renowned wife of a Death Eater bestowed to be punished at Azkaban.
The following morning, St. Mungo’s was flooded with people from the Prophet seeking news that could be brought about what happened to the famous Narcissa Black Malfoy.
Draco was terrified.
He had no one to turn to.
His mother was taken into an intensive unit where she had been unconscious since she was taken there, the bleeding had stopped but something terrible was happening internally.
After two days of tests in her blood, Draco had been told that her mother had a few days to live due to the illness in her blood that was somewhat related to a long-term family curse that might have been passed down to her.
Draco was beyond devastated.
He did not know how to break news to his father and he did not want to waste time going to Azkaban to break the news as well.
He wanted to stay right by his mother’s side.
The Healers had said that she was lucky if another week was given to extend her life span.
Narcissa had surpassed the week and had woken but was already at the edge of her life.
Draco had ordered security for them and had sought for complete privacy.
He had managed two days of isolation with just her mother.
At the third day, Narcissa requested to be taken back to the Malfoy Manor.
The Healers completely agreed seeing that she barely had days to live.
At the fourth day, she was taken back to the Malfoy Manor and was given peace and privacy with Draco.
By the fifth day, her health had faltered at a fast pace that not even the Healers could do anything about it.
At the sixth day, Narcissa was persistent upon seeing their family Defense Council who had arrived and had stayed with her and Draco the whole day.
By dawn of the seventh day, Draco had kissed her mother for the last time and Narcissa smiled at her own son, whispering only a few words before her beautiful eyes had closed eternally:
“Bear change, my dear boy. I will always be proud of you.”
Draco nodded at the party that came to give their respect to her mother’s wake at the large garden of the Malfoy Manor.
The whole garden place was elegantly decorated with the colour of black and dark emerald as to the last will and wishes of Narcissa.
Despite that the event wasn’t something Draco could keep, he wanted everything to be small and private as much as possible.
Note cards, flowers and such were sent to the Malfoy Manor for the people who weren’t allowed nor were listed at a list of guests that were allowed to arrive to pay their respects for the lady of the manor.
A couple of Ministry officials had arrived and paid their respects, some other friends of his father had arrived and Lupin’s party.
Even if Harry and the rest were obviously not in the list of Draco’s allowed visitors, they were allowed entry because of the magic and blood that bind Lupin to Tonks and Tonks to Sirius in the Black family.
Draco only nodded quietly at them.
He did not look surprised to see them but was surprised to see Harry.
He did not say anything about his arrival but nodded and gave them proper entry.
Draco’s assistance took the black ribbons and flowers they had with them and let them seat in a spot in the garden where they were further assisted.
Harry was silent the whole time he attended the event.
He wasn’t sure what to feel at that moment.
It was the greatest downfall of his school rival and the boy who bullied not only him and many others but who had bullied Hermione Granger most of all.
Harry had wondered what Hermione would have done if she was there with them or how would she feel for the boy.
Harry and the rest quietly watched as Draco tended and attended to each of the visitors that came to pay their respect for her mother.
It seemed to have taken him forever for him to get himself to their table where drinks had been served for them.
He looked and nodded at Lupin whom he looked and felt most comfortable with since he was his old professor.
Lupin seemed to have sensed this and so he did not pursue the subject of letting others say anything to Draco as it was very obvious that the situation was beyond awkward.
“Your mother was a charitable woman, Draco.” Lupin had said as he sat for a moment with them.
Draco only nodded at him and slightly raised his glass.
“You may not know of it but your mother has a charity for.. for our kind..” Lupin said with a small smile. “I have not known it until recently. The business and charity was named after another name so as to have her wish to be kept anonymous, but recent news has reached me that it is actually her.”
“I’ve heard of it.” Draco had said. “Just a few days ago before mother passed away.” Draco pointed out. “Mother’s Defense Council came days before she.. before she passed. They had discussed many things including businesses, estates and other properties that mother owned.”
Harry did not say anything to this.
He did not really want to be there but he wanted to be reminded that he was not like that of the Malfoys.
Only a few nods and gestures were exchanged between Draco and Harry as for formality.
The last time Draco had seen Harry had been in his father’s trial where Harry had left the courtroom the moment that Lucius Malfoy had been sentenced.
Narcissa and Draco were left at the stand long after justice had been served towards Lucius Malfoy.
It was almost morning already when Harry and company decided to leave the manor.
Draco nodded and shook hands with them.
He was somewhat reluctant when Harry had extended his hand to him.
He stared but still accepted Harry’s hand who shook it very briefly.
“Potter.” Draco said staring reluctantly at Harry who stared back at him with question in his eyes.
“If you would need anything for your search..”
“I’m fine.” Harry cut him short. “I have everything I need, thanks.”
Draco stared at him and nodded.
It had been two years since the ambush and the incident that made him lose Hermione Granger who was still not found up to that day.
“Yeah, but I mean if you just need an extra hand or a number of people to help with-“
“I said I’m fine, Malfoy.” Harry firmly said as he looked away from him.
“Is there any recent news?” Draco asked curiously unable to stop himself from doing so. “Anything at all that may help in finding her?”
Harry looked at Lupin who quietly nodded at him.
“Mr. Malfoy, we do have to go.” Lupin said taking his hand and shaking it to gain his attention. “The Order offers assistance if there would be anything you would legally need incase there would be problems of sorts.”
Draco was slightly confused until he realized that Harry obviously did not want to talk about Hermione.
Draco nodded and two of his assistants stood up and led them.
He quietly thanked them with a simple nod as the two men led Harry and company out of the garden and out of the Malfoy Manor.
“Harry are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” Harry said as they walked down the long walkway out of the gates of the manor.
“Harry, I’ve been thinking.” Lupin began. “If Draco is offering his help in finding Hermione-“
“I said, I’m fine.” Harry simply said. “I don’t need his help. I don’t need anyone’s help. I’m doing fine.”
Lupin only nodded as Harry paced past him and walked faster and farther from him.
It wasn’t the sound of the guards that came and bolted to his cell gates that drew him out of his state of reverie at one in the morning.
It was the actions they’ve done as they entered their cell.
The three Aurors came inside and two had grabbed him out of his bed by the arms and the third one took out a long scarf from his pocket and drew the first around his eyes and the second around his mouth.
Not seeing and no speaking as it seems.
He listened intently as they dragged him without a word out of his cell door.
He felt the familiar cold breeze of the hallways as they dragged him out of his Azkaban room.
He wasn’t sure where they were taking him but by their actions and the way it was done at that hour of the night, he was sure that it wasn’t something very legal at the moment.
And to wherever they were dragging and taking him, he did not fear.
He already accepted his fate at Azkaban and the possible consequences.
He only hoped and wished that Draco will not be enduring the same possible fate he would and could possibly endure as he is taken out of the safety of the walls of his darkened cell.