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Chapter 12 – Apparating and Tea

Hermione had a hard time trying to figure out what to wear to her lesson today. Normally, she was not the type of girl to care about such things, but for some reason, ever since she got to Godric’s Hollow, things like her appearance became more important, and she was not sure why. She would hate to admit it was for Lord Malfoy’s benefit. No, she was a sensible girl. Things like garnering attention of males did not matter one whit to her. Therefore, to prove her point, if only to herself, she quickly dressed, in the first dress she touched, ate breakfast, and then practically ran to the library, where she knew she would find Remus.

“Mr. Lupin,” she called from the doorway.

He peered over the side of a wingback chair and said, “I have already been informed by Harry that you request my company as chaperone at Lord Malfoy’s today. Just to let you know, I will be ready, should we be accosted again.” He smiled to show her he was joking. She came and sat on the ottoman by his chair.

“You will not find it a bother to come along?” she asked.

“Not at all. I share your love of reading, and word has it his library is ten times the size of this one,” Remus said.

“So he claims,” she said with a smile. “Mr. Lupin may I ask you a question?”

“Of course, my dear, ask away,” he allowed. He closed his book and placed it by his leg on the chair.

She did not know how to ask this, but it was something she felt she needed to know. Mr. Lupin always seemed so dour and melancholy, and most of all, lonely. “Do you have family, Sir? A wife, children?”

“No, I am a confirmed bachelor, Miss.”

“Why is that?” she asked.

“Why is the grass green? It is just so,” he said, resigned. He leaned forward in his chair. “I was best friends with James, Harry’s father. He and Sirius Black were two of my only friends. I was inflicted when I was still young, and cast out of my home. Harry’s grandparents took me in as their own. However, all the kindness in the world could not change who or what I am. I could not inflict my pain on a family. It would be too unkind. Why do you ask?”

“Cannot people learn to overlook infirmities and differences, if they love someone?” she asked, however naïve that sounded.

“They would have to overlook a lot in my case, Miss Granger.” He stood up and said, “There was no way to restore my blemished reputation. Oh, people no longer run and hide when I appear, or cover their children’s eyes, but their intentions are still clear.” He put his book back on the shelf, walked over to her, offered her his arm, and added, “I cannot help but think this has something more to do with you and a certain gentleman than with your curiosity about my bachelorhood. Does it have something to do with the differences you feel others find between yourself and Lord Malfoy?”

She stood as well, and put her hand on his threadbare sleeve and said, “I hope my purpose is clear. I also hope that such differences between people can be overlooked, by all parties involved. More important, sir, you are one I hope to be able to call friend, forever. I truly asked with good intentions in my heart, and not just morbid curiosity.”

He smiled. She was such a sweet, albeit, unsophisticated girl. She was green to the prejudices that lurked around every corner. He could only hope she would stay that way. “Shall we have a lesson before your lesson, or would that be too much on your poor brain?”

“Yes, please, I would like to learn more about transfiguration,” she said with a smile. Her youthful exuberance was contagious. She made him feel young again, and dare he say it, normal.

They decided to work outside, and as lunch approached, Harry came out as well. “I thought we would take lunch on the veranda. Charlie Weasley is back from Romania, and he is fitting me for a new broom today.”

“Harry, you have more brooms than a man could ever want,” Remus remarked.

“Not more than I want,” he laughed.

“I have never ridden a broom,” Hermione confessed.

Harry said, “There is so much to teach her Lupin, where do we start?” Remus laughed at that statement.

“Do not laugh, Sir. My misfortunate is not to be toyed with, please,” she said with a smile, for she knew their ribbing was in good fun.

Harry smiled as Charlie Weasley came up on the veranda. After introductions, Charlie brought out the new broom he had for Harry. Hermione found this Weasley quieter than the others. He seemed bashful and shy. Introspective. He was not as tall as the twins or Ron, and he was stockier. He was handsome, and seemed kind.

Harry brought the new broom over to Hermione and said, “Feel the grain of wood, Hermione. The smooth oak. I have never seen a light wood make a finer broom, and I have to say, this is a wonderful one, and no exception.”

She stroked the wood, almost as if she were stroking a newborn foal, and remarked, “It is truly exquisite.”

Harry smiled and confided, “I am glad you think so, for it is yours.”

“What?” she said, eyes wide with shock.

Remus laughed. “I thought you would have guessed it! Didn’t I tell you my boy, Harry? I really thought she would figure it out, but she did not.”

Hermione took the broom from Harry and said, “But, I do not know how to ride. Is it even proper for women to ride?”

“It is acceptable if they ride sidesaddle,” Charlie answered for the rest. “This broom has been made to accommodate a woman. It was measured to your height and weight, so it should fit you exactly.”

“Harry, you cannot give me this!” Hermione said, though she had already taken it in her grasp.

“Too late, it is done!” He clapped his hands. “Capital! Now, Charlie, will you join us for lunch?”

After lunch, Hermione was left alone on the veranda with the quiet Mr. Weasley. He walked over to her and said, “Your cousin will have to oblige and give you lessons.”

“That would be nice,” she said.

“I gave him his first lesson, you know,” Charlie revealed, leaning against the side of the house.

“Really?”

“Yes, he and my brothers were friends from school. I taught them all, before they even went to Hogwarts. I could teach you, if you would like, Miss Granger,” he said. “Not to be forward.”

She did not think he was being forward, though she conceded, “Perhaps we should let my cousin teach me. I would hate to fall off my broom and hit my head, and have you feel responsible.” She smiled and he laughed at that.

“No, that might cause trouble between the viscount and myself, and I hear he has enough trouble with my family these days,” Charlie said lightly. Hermione looked at the ground. Was he blaming her? Her silence caused him to say, “Please, do not suppose I meant to imply anything by that statement, Madam.”

She still did not meet his gaze. He walked over to her and she was shocked when he took her hand. He said, “I can see why my brother Fred is so bewitched by you. Take no offense at what I said, please. I also know that you have the affections of another. That is a shame, for my brother. I would have liked to call you sister.” He took her hand, brought it to his mouth, and kissed it lightly. She was shocked, so she withdrew her hand. He gave her a sad smile.

She knew she should be offended, but somehow this man before her seemed lost and sad, almost like Lupin. She sensed in him a kindred spirit. Therefore, she smiled. He smiled back. He said, “To tell you the truth, Miss, you should only marry for love. I did.”

“You are married, Sir?” she asked.

“Not any longer.” He smiled again, but it was a charade. She would not press the matter. He bid her farewell, and she went inside to get ready for the arrival of Lord Malfoy’s carriage.

She sat on a deacon’s bench in the entryway, with her straw hat in one hand, and her new broom in another. Remus walked down the stairs, and smiled. “Will you need your new broom at Lord Malfoy’s?”

“I thought he might like to see it,” she revealed, but then she frowned. “Is that too boastful? I will not bring it, if you think that is best.”

“Lord Malfoy is one of the most boastful men I know, so I am sure he will appreciate that quality in you. Bring your broom.” He sat beside her and looked at the grandfather clock. “The coach should be here shortly.”

“Yes, Sir.” Hermione looked at the clock also and then back to Lupin. “May I ask you another question?”

He laughed and said, “I am an open book, a paragon of information, and you have an inquiring mind, so please, I beg you to inquire whatever you would like of me.”

“Do you know much about Charlie Weasley?” she asked.

He looked solemn suddenly and said, “Why do you ask?”

“He seems sad. More so than you,” she replied. As soon as she said it she gasped. “Sir, I apologize. I meant no disrespect. I am truly sorry.”

Remus took her hand and led her outside. They stood under the portico, and he said, “Do not be sorry, Hermione. Your intuitiveness and honesty is refreshing among the society that I normally keep. Charlie Weasley is sad, and has a right to be. He was married, he had a child, and they both died from typhus. His wife was a Muggle-born, you see. He met her in Romania, where he used to be a dragon keeper.”

“How very sad,” she said. She looked at her beautiful broom, and all the work he must have put in on it, and she said, “I feel so small sometimes, in the scheme of things. There are lives all around us, sad lives, happy lives, lives that have meaning, and purpose, and yet, we are cocooned in our own little worlds, scarcely aware of those around us. It shames me. I acted so happy about a mere broom, and the man lost his wife and child.”

Draco Malfoy walked up the drive at that moment, after having heard their exchange. He did not know to whom they referred, but he knew she was sad, and he could not bear it, one iota. He decided he would make it his goal to make her happy, today, and perhaps, for the rest of their lives.

He clapped his hands and called out, “Who is ready for a ride in my carriage?”

“Lord Malfoy, I did not hear you walk up,” she said with a half curtsey.

“That is because I was quiet, Miss,” he joked. “What do you have there?”

“He wants to know what I have, Mr. Lupin,” she said, smiling. “It is a broom, Sir.”

“Do say,” he mocked. He took the broom from her as she placed her hat on her head. “It is a beautiful one. Do you mean to fly to my house?”

“No, I merely wanted you to see it. My cousin made a present of it to me, today.”  She suddenly seemed embarrassed. She took it from him and said, “I should not brag. It is a most unbecoming trait. I shall take it in the house.” She ran back inside with the broom.

Lupin looked at Draco and said, “Please overlook her lapse in judgment.”

“I do not mind, Sir,” Draco said. “I confess I find everything about her refreshing and honest.”

Remus nodded in agreement and then asked, “Where is your carriage, for I see it not?”

Hermione walked back out and said, “Nor do I.”

“I decided a carriage would not do. I wanted to give you your first lesson in Apparating. Mr. Lupin, if you would be so kind as to show Miss Granger how to Apparate to Malfoy Manor, please.”

Remus smiled, knowing he was being dismissed and said, “By all means, Lord Malfoy.” He touched his wand in his pocket, and was soon gone with a ‘pop’.

“Now, Miss Granger, can you tell me what you noticed about Mr. Lupin’s feat?”

“He made a noise when he Disapparated,” she said slowly.

“Very good, for that, you get one ribbon,” he said. He held a red ribbon out from his pocket and handed it to her. She took the ribbon from his hand and held it lightly.

“I am not a child who needs trinkets or rewards when I answer a question correctly, Sir,” she said.

“My mistake,” he said.

He started to take it back, but she held it back and said, “But if I must, I will relieve you of your burden.” She put the ribbon in her pocket.

“What else did you notice, Miss?”

She thought for a moment and said, “He put his hand in his pocket.”

“Yes, pockets are necessary for magic, we all know that,” he said, condescendingly.

She gave him a frown and said, “If you would permit me to finish, Sir.”

“By all means.”

“He must have needed his wand, Sir,” she concluded, “For he keeps his wand in his right jacket pocket.”

He held out a blue ribbon. “You get another ribbon. Soon, I shall have none left.” He smiled.

“And then what shall you do with you hair?” she teased. She twirled the blue ribbon in her hand.

“Did you notice anything else?” he asked with a smirk.

“I have to say, no,” she said truthfully. “Do I get another ribbon?”

He shook his head ‘no’ and said, “No, you receive no prize for that rejoinder, because that was a wrong answer. Remember these three things, Miss. Destination. Determination. Deliberation.”

“What?”

“Repeat the three words I just said,” he repeated, ignoring her question of ‘what’. He actually looked down at his nails as if he were bored. Or a ponce.

She said, “Destination, determination and deliberation.” She held out her hand, for her reward. He handed her a third ribbon, a green one.

“Look at the ribbons I handed you,” he said. “On each ribbon is one of the three words that I just had you repeat, see, one word on each ribbon. Now, take my arm.”

“Perhaps I don’t want to take your arm, as you are being rather forward, Sir,” she said with a grin.

“I am not being forward, I assure you, at least not yet. I want to Apparate with you to the Manor.” He held out his arm. She smiled and took it and with a swish and a swirl they set foot on a hillside, overlong a magnificent, large, grand estate, which was larger than Potter’s Hall.

She looked around at the massive house and grounds and asked, “This is Malfoy Manor?”

“Yes, indeed,” he responded.

A blush coloured his cheeks this time, much to his chagrin. He was not inhibited by the size of his home, nor was he embarrassed of the pride he felt. No, his blush was directly because of her apparent admiration at his home. He walked with her up to the top of the hill. He picked this Apparition point for the advantage it would give them to view his home. He was not disappointed in her response. He admired his house through her eyes. The majestic structure was large, and the countryside that bordered the home was lovely in its natural state. He was blessed to be sure, but he had always taken it all for granted. But looking upon the beauty that graced her features as she looked at the beauty of his estate, made him appreciate not only his home more than he thought possible, but her as well.

“Sir, this is perhaps the most beautiful home I have ever seen,” she exclaimed. “I have never seen anything so beautiful, have you?”

“Yes, I have,” he said, his eyes never once leaving her face.

She turned back to look at him, and he quickly turned back to look at his house. He had the house memorized, just as he now memorized the colour of her hair, the juxtapose of her neck to her shoulders, the swell of her bosom, and the straight line of her posture. He felt he could barely breathe. Dare he hope that someday she might call this her home? He had not yet had that thought. He was surprised he had it now. He offered his arm again and said, “Let us see it up close, shall we?”

After a tour of the gardens and the home, it was time for tea, and she had no time left for a lesson. Lupin came to join them for tea in the front sitting room. He had a book in hand, and sat at the table, opened his book and then said, “Do either of you mind if I read?”

Hermione smiled shyly, while Draco said, “Not at all, good man, carry on, and take the book home with you if you wish.” He turned to Hermione and said, “I feel rather bad-tempered. I took all of our study time today to show you my home, and now you must feel peevish as well.”

“I do not regret it in the least, Sir,” she revealed.

“We could study more on Monday, perhaps,” he countered. He would make any excuse to see her again.

“I have a lesson at Spinner’s end, Monday morning, which you could always accompany me to again, and Monday afternoon, my cousin promised to show me the little village,” she said. She fingered the three ribbons in her pocket. She withdrew them and said, “But you must teach me soon what these three words have to do with Apparating.”

“Keep them with you, and soon, I will teach you to Apparate from one ribbon to the other, as we lay them on the floor. That is how I was taught,” he responded.

“Then I shall not wear them in my hair,” she smiled. She held them up to her hair and her eyes sparkled with delight. Remus picked up his book and excused himself.

“Odd fellow,” Draco said.

“You should not speak of what you do not know. He is introspective, and sad, that is all,” Hermione defended. “He is such a kind man. A gentle soul. I find he is fast becoming one of my closest acquaintances here.”

Her reproach to him, and her defense of Lupin, caused him pause. He held up his hand and said, “I meant no disrespect, to either of you.”

“I am sorry, but my heart feels full today, at the plight of those less fortunate than us,” she said.

He smiled. “You consider yourself fortunate then?” He could not help but laugh.

“I do not live in a fine Manor, nor have your blood status, or money, but I am very fortunate, Sir,” she said, frowning. She seemed upset. She stood up and said, “I will have Lupin see me home.” She started out of the room and he stopped her, by blocking the doorway.

“I meant no harm, nor was I laughing at you, my dear,” he pledged. “It is just that I feel the fortunate one, and my fortune does not come from my blood, or my wealth, or my estate.” He stepped closer to her, so that she was flush against the large wooden pocket doorjamb of the room. He cupped her cheek, and let his thumb rub back and forth along her smooth skin. Now she was the one that felt she could barely breathe. They both shut their eyes at the same time, unbeknownst to the other.

She opened hers before he opened his. He said, “I am fortunate to have found you.”

He wanted to say more, to do more. Gags, he thought he loved her. He removed his hand. What more could be said, without revealing his love? Without revealing the bequest he made to Harry on her behalf. Without telling her his intentions to not only step out with her, but dare he think it, call her his bride someday. It was ludicrous, and foolish, but it did not mean it was not a truth to be known.

When neither moved, nor spoke, for the longest time, she finally said, “Thank you for all your kindness. How shall I repay you?”

Be mine? That is what he would have said if he were so inclined. “No payment necessary. Your eternal gratitude is sufficient,” he laughed.

She smiled, and her smile lifted his heart to new heights. Thank goodness for the appearance of Lord Potter. Draco would never have thought he would ever show gratitude over such a thing, but if Potter had not walked through the main doors at that precise moment, Draco Malfoy would have been lost forever.

They parted, as if they were naughty children doing naughty things, though they were not even touching. Harry said, “I’ve come to collect my cousin, Sir. It is past teatime.”

“I took tea here, Harry,” she explained.

Harry could only raise his eyebrows as a response. Lupin came walking down the long hallway, from the library. Draco said, “Perhaps the four of us could take a country hike tomorrow. I would love to show Miss Granger more of my land. I believe you like nature; do you not, Mr. Lupin?”

“I do, Lord Malfoy, I do.”

“Potter?”

“That would be fine, Sir. I enjoy a Sunday stroll. We will meet you on the borderline of our properties around eleven in the morning. Cousin, will you take my hand?”

He was not the person she wanted to hear that phrase from, but she would settle. She turned back to Lord Malfoy and said, “Thank you for the best non-lesson I have ever received, Sir.” She nodded her head.

If her cousin and Lupin had not been there, he would have found any excuse, or no excuse at all, to touch her again. He would have to be content to memorize her smile. He bowed low and said, “I anticipate tomorrow, Miss Granger.” Harry, Lupin and Hermione all walked outside, and then Harry took her arm and Disapparated away. The last thing she saw was a smile on Lord Malfoy’s face.


 



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