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In the Dark

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“Move over! I honestly cannot  believe  Narcissa Malfoy is such a blanket hog!”  

There was a rather undignified huff, and then Hermine felt the tug on the blankets slacken. She breathed a sigh of sharp relief, bundling up and holding onto the edges of the covers for dear life. Her lids were already heavy, and with sleep on the cusp of overtaking her, she let her body sink into the mattress.  

Then there was muttering by her side.  

What?!”  she hissed, her patience growing thin.   

“I was merely saying,” Narcissa retorted in her snootiest tone, “that maybe we wouldn’t have this problem if this bed were not so bloody small!”  

“Hey!” Hermione interjected as she felt Narcissa tugging once more. “Quit it! By Merlin, we should be able to make it  one ruddy night  in this bed. Just go over to the side!”  

Narcissa whined indignantly. “I’m  already  all the way to the side! I’m nearly falling over.” She turned to Hermione, and even in the darkness of her childhood bedroom the Gryffindor could tell Narcissa was sending her strongest pleading look her way. “I don’t see the harm of  one  little Expansion Charm. We’d both be more comfortable.”  

Hermione sighed. “No magic in the house. At all. Sorry, love, that’s the  one  rule my parents have, and that’s the one rule I do not intend to break.”  

There was more muttering. Hermione narrowed her eyes. “What now?”  

Narcissa grumbled. “Why in Salazar’s name did I have to get with the biggest goody-two-shoes in the Wizarding World?” Hermione felt her shift in the bed, inching closer. “Honestly, Hermione. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”  

Hermione resolutely shook her head before remembering Narcissa most likely couldn’t see her. “Absolutely not.” She turned to where Narcissa was, inching closer to meet her in the middle of the bed. Despite the darkness, her hand naturally found the blonde’s cheek with a soft caress. “Is this going to be the thing that breaks you? You were doing so well going Muggle for a day... Especially considering the toaster incident.”  

She felt the cheek under her fingertips heat up with the blush Narcissa no doubt sported. A hand delicately grasped her wrist. “We are not speaking of that again.”  

Hermione laughed. “It was just a little fire.”  

She somehow felt the ice of Narcissa’s glare even without seeing her blue eyes in the darkness. “It was an utter embarrassment. If that disastrous dinner wasn’t enough to make your parents hate me, that blasted toaster incident surely did the trick.”  

Hermione wiggled her arm under Narcissa’s shoulders, bringing her closer. “Shh. Of course not.” She paused for a second. “Although dinner could have gone better.”  

She felt and heard Narcissa’s groan in the crook of her neck. “They hate me.”  

Of course  they don’t hate you,” Hermione argued, dropping a kiss to Narcissa’s forehead. “They just need to get to know you better.”  

Narcissa let out a sarcastic laugh. “They know enough. The know I’m a much older witch who fought for the wrong side of the war... and for all they know I seduced you and am now taking advantage of you.”  

“I mean. You did seduce me, just for the record. Yeow!”  

Narcissa huffed. “Don’t be funny, or I’ll pinch you again.”  

“So violent,” Hermione muttered playfully. “Listen. I won’t say they love the idea of us together, because it’s pretty clear they don’t. But give them time. They wanted us to stay the night.  Even  after the toaster incident,” she ignored Narcissa’s groan of embarrassment. “Plus, they’d have to be hypocrites to disapprove just because of the age thing. Mum’s six years older than Dad, and look at them now.”  

“How cute,” Narcissa drawled sarcastically. “ So  your mother was being alphabetized when your father was born. I was merely married with a child on the way when you were born.” Hermione once again felt the force of her glare in the shroud of darkness. “Face it, Hermione. It’s nowhere nearly the same.”  

Hermione frowned, not willing to concede the point. In truth, this particular conversation exhausted her—they had gone through it a million times before, yet she knew they would need to go through it a million times more to assuage that particular insecurity, Narcissa’s biggest.   

“It doesn’t matter,” she said firmly, finding Narcissa’s hand in the dark and giving it a comforting squeeze. “We’re both adults. We’re in this together, and if my parents never come around... well, tough luck. We’re just signed up for many, many awkward dinners for the foreseeable future.”  

She had hoped to diffuse some of Narcissa’s fears with humour, but the blonde’s lack of reaction sobered her a little. With a heavy sigh, she cradled Narcissa in her arms, feeling the warmth of her body against hers, the scent of her hair under her nose, and her steady breathing against her own ribcage.   

Hermione basked in those moments of silence, only for a little while.   

“Have I ever explained to you why my parents don’t want magic in their home?” she asked with a sigh.   

A beat passed. “No,” Narcissa finally replied. “I’ve always wanted to ask, though. You always said they were... supportive of your Hogwarts studies and your career in the Wizarding World.”  

Hermione tensed, her mind rapidly reliving several painful memories. Narcissa’s soft caresses on her shoulder were enough to ground her.   

“You know what I did to them. During the War.”  

She felt Narcissa’s nod. “I have a vague idea,” she confirmed solemnly. “You altered their memories.”  

Hermione swallowed dryly. “Not just that. I... I completely erased myself from their memories. There was no Hermione. There was no Mr. And Mrs. Granger. There was never a family.”  

Narcissa wound her arms around Hermione, holding tight. Hermione felt the heat of tears burning at the corner of her eyes. Narcissa’s voice was heavy when she spoke.  

“I am so sorry,” she said hoarsely. “That must have been incredibly difficult.”  

Hermione laughed a little through her tears. “Difficult is an understatement,” she sniffed. “But it was worth it. Especially when I managed to track them in Australia and bring their memories back.” She stopped for a few moments, lost in the memories of that difficult time. The rush of memories made her relieve the tears, the accusations, the begging for forgiveness.   

“They were furious,” she continued. “In time they would come to understand why I did it, and they eventually forgave me. But they never forgot it. I think...” there was a pause where Hermione mulled over whether to share this fear of hers or not. “I think, for the first time... they were afraid of what I could do with my magic.”  

Narcissa’s grip tightened. “So they forbade you from using it in their presence?”  

Hermione shrugged. “More or less. At  first  we were always walking on eggshells around each other. Now, it’s better. It’s freer. But still no magic. The difference is... They know that I could make them forget about anything. Anything at all.”  

Narcissa laid her head on Hermione’s chair, nodding softly in understanding. “But they trust you not to.”  

“Yeah,” Hermione breathed out in a deep sigh. “It was a trust I had to work to regain. Without magic, it’s like we have this little piece of our identity we will always share.  If that’s what it takes for them to be happy, it’s a very small price for me to pay when I’m here.”  

Hermione felt Narcissa’s  soft  sigh of understanding. “I think I understand,” she said, playing with a stray curl of Hermione’s hair.   

“And  an other thing,” Hermione continued, wiping away at a few stray tears. “ If they can come to terms with me erasing and then restoring their memories... They should have no problem accepting something as trivial as me dating another witch.” She waggled her eyebrows, knowing Narcissa would feel the motion and know exactly what was happening. “Even if that witch happens to be an old lady.”  

Narcissa chuckled, a little bit exasperated. “Don’t tease me—I am much too old for you.”  

“Nuh-uh,” Hermione mumbled, setting those heavy memories aside and choosing to focus on the present, where she had Narcissa in her arms, and if she turned just so...  

There was a quiet whimper of surprise when their lips met, and at once all of Hermione’s worries melted away like the last of a winter’s snow in the first morning of spring. Kissing Narcissa had that effect; it energized her, filled her with a warmth she had never before known.   

Soon, the whimper became a moan, and Narcissa’s hands found themselves grasping at the sides of Hermione’s shirt. The brunette reached for the strap of the other witch’s nightgown, dropping soft kisses along her neck and shoulders, gingerly lowering the strap down.  

“Wait.” Narcissa suddenly gasped, hands flying from Hermione’s waist to her chest, pushing the Gryffindor away. “What are we doing?! This is your  childhood  bedroom. Your childhood  bed!”  

Hermione laughed. “So? No children here. Just two adult, consenting witches.”  

She could practically see Narcissa’s eyes narrowing into a glare.   

“We are  not  having sex in this house. As  if  your parents need more reasons to hate me.”  

Hermione rolled over with another laugh. “Good point. We ought to tread carefully...” she lowered her tone, making it playfully ominous. “Especially after the Toaster Incident.”  

“Mention  The  Incident again and you’ll get another pinch.”  

Hermione let out another chuckle, happy to have her worries swept away by this bubble of happiness, even after the strained dinner, the mortifying toaster incident, and the sad trip down memory lane. In the end, it would all be alright.  

There was a long pause where silence reigned. Hermione was nearly drifting off to sleep once again .  

“Hermione?”  

“Mhm-yeah?”  

“You’ll have to help me buy them a new toaster.”