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Chapter 30 – Happy Thoughts Indeed:

Harry Potter had a heavy heart. He wanted to forgive Ginny Weasley because he still loved her, yet he could not forget that she did lie to him. Her lies caused an enormous amount of problems. In addition, she still withheld things from him. She did not fully trust him to tell him the truth, and that hurt him the most. He felt that a tiny string, which was woven by Lupin, and unraveled by Ginny, held aloft the whole mess. All the people he loved lied to him, and for all of his life.

Hermione had never lied to him, which was what he must concentrate on, for she was the one that needed him the most.

Instead, he was the one that was lying to her. He was not sure he could abide that thought. What harm would there be in telling her the truth as he knew it. He had to find out who her mother was before he told her the truth of who her father was. When he went to London, the day she was kidnapped, his search turned up only dead ends. That was before he knew she was Sirius Black’s daughter. That probably meant she was born in Godric’s Hollow. Someone from the village must have known Hermione’s mother was pregnant. He decided to do some more sleuthing. He had some lunch and then went to the village.

Hermione was in the solarium at the end of Malfoy Manor waiting for Lord Malfoy. They had just finished lunch, where Daphne had informed her and Draco that she and Charlie Weasley were having an engagement dinner tonight, hosted by Lord Potter at Potter’s Hall. She also said, “Your cousin has agreed to host a wedding for Charlie and me in his garden this coming weekend.”

Hermione was surprised. Not at Harry’s generosity, but at the speed to which the two were marrying. They had only known each for a couple of weeks. She was not only surprised, but also slightly jealous. She would marry Lord Malfoy if he asked and she only knew him a bit longer. She smiled and said, “That is so wonderful. I am happy for you.”

The tall, pretty girl flitted out of the room quickly to get ready for the evening’s event. That was when Hermione decided to go to the solarium, a book in her hand, to wait for her lesson with Lord Malfoy. She had just picked up her book, when suddenly, a smoke-like induced snake traveled around her body, causing her to drop her book and stand up in fright. The snake rounded and rounded her body, from her toes to the tip of her head, and then it slid away in mid air. She heard laughter. Turning to the doorway she found Lord Malfoy.

“My patronus must like you,” Draco said, “for he seemed very familiar with you. If I was a smaller minded man, I would be slightly jealous.”

“That was your patronus?” she asked. She walked over to him with her mouth slightly open, the awe still etched on her face.

“Yes, it was,” he asked.

“What form will mine take?” she asked.

“That will be unknown until you cast it,” he said. “Are you ready for your lesson?” he asked.

He told her about the basics: how a patronus was cast, why a person might cast it, and the incantation that went along with it. He told her to take her wand and, “Think of the happiest thought you have.”

He stood beside her as she raised her wand. She thought long and hard. Before she came to Godric’s Hollow, she would have said she lived a happy life. Sadness was first introduced to her when her father died. All of a sudden, she became even sadder with the thought that he was not her real father. Then, the woman she knew as her mother died and she was forced to move here. Life as she knew it ceased, and a new, different, not altogether happy life began.

She lowered her wand.

He turned to her slightly and said, “No happy thoughts? I could suggest one to you.”

She shook her head no and raised her arm again. She would not concentrate on anything from her childhood, for although it was filled with happy memories, it was also tinged with a newfound sorrow. For that reason, she would think of happy thoughts that centered on the man beside her.

The feel of his arm as it touched hers... that was a happy thought. The smell of his masculine scent or the way his lips touched her lips so softly... both were happy thoughts indeed. The way he would frequently place his arm around her and protected her without pretense. Those were the happiest times. She closed her eyes.

“Why do you always close your eyes when you are about to do magic?” he asked, slightly amused by the beautiful woman beside him, and her strange but subtle ways.

“Sh, quiet, I’m concentrating,” she said, eyes closed.

The way her lips formed a kissable ‘o’ when she hushed him, filled him with so much happiness that he could produce a hundred patronuses right now. “Any time will do, Miss.”

“Sh,” she hushed again.

Perhaps if he said something else, she could hush him a third time and he could lean down and kiss her. Then, she would have her happy thought. He was about to act on that when she opened her eyes and pointed her wand and said, “Expecto Patronum!”

A tiny wisp of white smoke left her wand. She lowered her wand, disappointment reigning over her.

“May I ask what you where thinking?” he asked.

“No,” she replied. How could she tell him that she was remembering the day in the gazebo? The day of their last lesson, when he taught Apparition, and they had shared such an intimate moment after the rain had started. Perhaps she should think of the first time he kissed her under the tree.

She closed her eyes and pointed her wand again. She thought of the gentle pressure of his lips next to hers, and the feeling she got in the pit of her stomach and how her entire being felt as if it were on pins and needles. She raised her hand and said the incantation again, but with the same results.

She threw down her wand and said, “Gads! It is hopeless!”

He chuckled and bent down for her wand. “Do not give up so easily. This is very advanced magic. There are plenty of wizards, fully qualified, who cannot produce a Patronus Charm,” he assured her. He handed her wand to her and said, “Take your wand and try again.”

She reached for her wand, pointed it outward again, and shut her eyes. This time, she felt his strong body behind her back. His right hand traveled slowly down her outstretched right arm. The feel of his bare fingers on her bare arm sent shivers down her spine. He placed his other hand firmly around her waist. She could barely breathe, let alone think of happy thoughts! His face came up behind hers, his mouth to her ear. His breath tickled her cheek when he said, “Now, think of a happy thought.”

This was a happy thought. This was pleasure and happiness and love all bound together, and held in place with his arms. With his right arm still parallel with her arm, his hand grasping her wrist, she flicked her wand and said, “Expecto Patronum!”

She opened her eyes in time to see a smoky silver otter swim from her wand, gliding and sliding around their heads. She moved from his grasp and turned to watch it as it finally disappeared. She looked at his face. He was staring right at her, smiling.

She smiled in return and said, “I did it.” She said it softly, and almost to herself, but loud enough for him to hear. She said it again. “I did it!” She ran to him, and with the same euphoria she felt when she Apparated for the first time, she threw her arms around his neck and jumped up, so that he had his arms around her and her feet were temporarily off the floor.

He placed her feet back on the ground, and with his arms still around her waist, and her arms still around his neck, he leaned down and gave her a chaste, but meaningful kiss on the lips.

She stepped back, placed the tips of her fingers on her lips and asked, “Why did you do that, Sir?”

“To give you a happy memory for the next time you need to produce a Patronus Charm,” he said with a smirk.

She smiled but said, “I wasn’t thinking of you. You have an ego the size of all of Great Britain.” She knew he would know she lied.

“You were thinking of me,” he said knowingly. “You still have much to learn about lying, and I know I was thinking of you earlier when I produced mine.”

She sat down on a wooden bench that was around an inside planter and inquired, “What memory did you use?”

“That day on the picnic and we picked berries,” he said. He sat next to her. “What moment did you use?”

“Our first real kiss, under the tree,” she said sheepishly. She looked at the ground. He took her hand in his hand and brought it to his mouth. He turned it so the palm of her hand was facing him.

“That was a rather nice memory,” he said, his thumb rubbing the middle of her palm seductively. “I will have to use that one next time.” He continued to rub her hand. He brought her hand to his mouth again, cradling it in both of his. He kissed her palm with a partially open mouth. He then kissed each fingertip, starting with her thumb, with soft, sweet, quick kisses. She closed her eyes again to relish the feeling.

After kissing her last finger, he kissed her palm again, then her wrist, then up her arm. He kissed the inside of her elbow last. She opened her eyes, as his face was lifting from its arduous journey up her arm. Her eyes stared right into his. He slowly placed her arm back at her side and he stood up so he was directly in front of her. He put his hand under her chin and she craned her neck up to stare at him. He had a mask on his features, because she could not interpret his thoughts. He quickly let her go, or he would undeniably give her very happy thoughts. He would take her and kiss her so soundly that the earth would tip off its axis.

He felt intoxicated by the sight of her… her smooth skin, her silky hair, and her eyes, which burned a hole into his.

She demanded something with her eyes, but for the life of him, he did not know what that was. He stepped backwards; one step, two steps, and three steps. She followed, and it was as if they were choreographing a dance. He cupped her face, when she finally backed him against the wall.

He said, “You are so lovely.” She took the last step needed so she was pressed against his body. She rolled her head on his chest, and let it rest upon his shoulder. He put his arms around her protectively.

“You do make me happy,” she said. “When I first met you, I did not even like you.”

He smiled at her admission. He stroked her back with his hand, reassuring her, and said, “Most people do not like me until closer inspection, and after that, they usually hate me.”

This time she smiled. Looking up at him, she said, “Well, upon closer inspection by me, dislike has turned to love, and I am a smart person, so I think my judgment matters the most.”

“Will you marry me?” he asked.

She pushed against his chest and looked at him with a combined look of shock and bewilderment. What did he ask that? Why would he ask that? “What?” she asked.

“Will you do me the honour of being my bride?” he asked again, passion lacing each syllable with the desire he felt for her.

“You know we cannot! You would lose your fortune and name! I could never do that to you,” she said sadly.

He smiled. “You can and you will,” he said seductively. “Remember, I told you I knew who your father was? What if I told you the answer to that question, is also the answer to our prayers?”

She was quiet for a moment and then asked, “Who is my father?”

“Sirius Black. Lord Potter’s godfather was your father,” he said.

She looked on the verge of tears. What did that mean? “I do not know what to say or how to act. Are you certain?”

“Yes, as much as I can be,” he answered truthfully.

“But how does that help us?” she asked.

He took her hand and led her to the same bench as before. “My solicitor informed me that my father’s will is valid, unfortunately. My estate will be entailed away to my nearest relative if I marry anyone of less than pure blood. However, I thought I had no living relatives,” he explained.

“And you found out that you do? Again, I must inquire, how does that help us?” she asked.

“You are that relative. Sirius Black was my mother’s first cousin. His mother and her mother were sisters. My father and my mother were second cousins. His father and her mother were first cousins. Sirius Black’s mother was first cousin to my grandfather as well. That would mean that you are my third cousin, and my father’s second cousin once removed.”

She was literally without words. She tried to contemplate what he said, but it all confused her so. “I am your kin?”

“It would appear so. My solicitor told me we would need a living witness to testify with an affidavit, he would have to testify under oath. Remus would have to be that witness, if he will,” Draco concluded.

When she stood and crossed the room, he gave her space. He knew she needed time to consider all things. When she turned back to him to look at him intently, he understood, and said not a word. When she ran out of the room, at full speed, he stood up to follow. She ran down the long corridor, her shoes clapping on the tile floors. He followed at a brisk walk. He knew she was just upset, although he rather thought she might want to kiss him again when she heard the news.

However, when she finally reached the entryway, flung open the massive front doors, and crossed the threshold, he finally decided he should take her actions seriously. He followed. She continued to run across the grounds of the massive estate. He followed. She ran to the long drive, which circled the front garden. Again, he followed. She was not fast enough to outrun him and he was not really trying to catch her - yet.

She ran to the wall that signified the beginning of the estate. Now he knew he needed to stop her, for the wards only went that far. He ran full speed, caught her arm, and pulled her into his chest.

Her hair was wild, her cheeks red, perspiration spotted her brow, and tear tracks marked her face. He held her to his chest, and while breathing hard, he finally managed to say, “What is wrong? Is this not good news?”

“Who is my mother?” she asked.

“I know not,” he said.

She pushed away from him. He grabbed her upper arms. She beat on his chest with her fist. He said, “Stop it! What difference does it make if James Potter is your father or Sirius Black?”

“Because, that means my mother is not my mother!” she said.

“Did you not already suspect that?” he asked back.

“NO! Yes! I don't know,” she said. She managed to pull her arms from him. With defeat and no purpose, she leaned her shoulder against the high stonewall, and with her face away from him, she said, “I imagined that somehow my mother might still be my mother, at least, I held that hope. I thought perhaps that she and James had an affair. My mother never met Sirius Black. She told me so when he died.” She turned slightly so she faced the wall, and both hands were flat on it, giving her purchase, in case she collapsed from exhaustion and confusion.

He walked up behind her and put first his right hand on her right hand, and then his left hand on her left hand. He drew them down the wall slowly. He wrapped her hands, still in his, around her middle, and pulled her back toward his chest so she was standing flush against him. He placed his cheek against hers, which was still wet with new tears cried.

He said, “Don’t fear. We will find out who your mother is, I promise. And the woman who raised you will always be your mother where it counts: in your heart.”

Her knees started to buckle and he quickly held her steady. He turned her around and she clutched his shirt. He placed one hand in her hair and one on her back. “This means Harry is not my kin,” she said.

“It means that I am, although distant. Is that not better?” he said with a grin. She looked up at him and could not help but smile. “Truthfully, I thought this would make you happy. We can marry now. You will inherit the estate, and when we marry, it will convert back to me,” he said.

“I will be a rich woman,” she said, moving from his grasp. She leaned against the wall. “I might like to entertain other suitors.”

He glared at her and said, “If you were not emotionally upset at the moment, I might not be so generous in my reaction to that statement, but since you are, I will recognize that as the joke it was, and not become angry or jealous.”

“Draco, why can we not tell everyone this news? What does it matter now?” she said. “Blaise Zabini is dead, so he is of no concern. Penelope Clearwater left town. We no longer have to hide or have secrets.”

“Mr. Lupin seems to think we do. He thinks there are other dangers to you. He thinks there might be rogue Death Eaters out there who will want to harm you, although I find that doubtful,” Draco said, thinking hard. He took her hand and started back to the Manor. “Even if that were true, I could protect you just as well if you were my wife as I protect you now. I think he knows more than he says.”

“He knows who my mother is,” Hermione said plainly.

“He says he will never tell. He says he made a solemn pledge never to tell. I told him if the party is dead, which I am sorry, my love, but I assume she is, then the oath no longer holds merit, but he remains strong in his convictions. He will not budge.”

“He will tell me!” Hermione shouted. “We need to go see him.”

“Later,” Draco said. He wanted to talk to Remus and Harry first, and explain to them why he went back on his word not to tell Hermione.

“Now,” she countered.

“Please, later,” he insisted. “We are invited to Potter’s Hall tonight for an impromptu engagement party for Miss Greengrass and Mr. Charlie Weasley. We will talk to him there.” He started walking toward the house, and she had no choice but to follow.

He escorted her to her room, and instructed her to have her maid draw her a bath. “I want you to look beautiful tonight. I have something I want you to wear. Will you do that for me?”

She nodded. He reached in his inside jacket pocket, and handed her a small box. She opened the box and inside was an emerald ring, which seemed very valuable and very old.

He said, “You see it is on a gold chain. Wear it around your neck, next to your locket, until we can announce our engagement, and then you shall wear it on your hand.”

She smiled and said, “How did you know I would accept this? In fact, I have not yet said yes to your question.” She handed the small box with the ring back to him.

He grinned and said, “You did not say no, and I always carry the ring with me.”

“Liar,” she said. “I told you that your eyes always betray you.” She approached him guardedly, placed one hand on his chest, near his heart, and leaned toward him to kiss his cheek. “And of course my answer is yes, but I cannot yet wear the ring, not until we tell the world our news.”

“That means we have our own engagement to celebrate tonight, though we must still keep it to ourselves for now.”

He placed the ring box back in his pocket, and then he kissed her cheek, just as she kissed his, and watched as she went in her room. Someday soon she would be completely his and at his mercy, and he could kiss her and openly show his love for her, all others be damned. She could run as far as she wanted and never get away. He would kiss her all day, all night, and every minute in between. He smiled once more. He smiled a lot these days. Producing a patronus used to be difficult for him, but now that he loved her, he would never have trouble producing one again.

He turned around, went down the hall, and when he felt he was safely out of her sight, he Disapparated outside of Potter’s Hall.

He rang the chime. When the butler answered, Draco pushed the man aside and yelled, “Lord Potter!” Harry ran down the stairs. Draco said, “I made an error in judgment! I told your cousin who her father was.”

Harry came to stand in front of Draco and said, “And I made a worse one, for I told Ginny Weasley, and now she is missing.”

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