To Find You Again
It was one of the most beautiful London summers. The rain had subsided long enough to allow the sun’s light to flow through the double French doors of the bedroom. A soft, cool breeze played with the white curtains held on each side of the doors.
An evening not suited to formal entertainment; the woman mused taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of the rare evening sun dipping into the horizon. In that moment, she contemplated not going at all. Not when she would be at home, reading a book, or watching one of her favorite movies in her pajamas.
Standing before the full-length mirror, Hermione Jean Granger added the last finishing touches of makeup to her face and set down the compact onto her dresser. A quick appraisal in the mirror made sure the look she had taken her time with had been completed. The floor-length black gown she had bought just days before had hugged her curves while the slit down the side gave an appreciate view of long, toned legs. Her long, chocolate curls had been drawn back away from her face and placed upward in a bun.
Hermione never believed herself to be a beauty queen. Not in the sense of the pureblood women that graced the halls of Hogwarts during her years at the school. Growing up, she had often been teased by her untamed, bushy hair and her front buck teeth. It was not until her fourth year when a stray spell had hit her in the face causing her teeth to grow. She had been cruelly taunted by her Potion’s Master that sent her running to the infirmary. As evening had arrived, she too had returned only to flash her newly fixed smile.
It had been years since she had last attended any sort of soiree whether they were either business or pleasure. She had often waved off going to anything since she had started the job at her current place. She hated mingling as most of the men these soirees brought were older and often men looking to use their money to entice the women into illicit affairs in order to gain the monetary needs the business needed. This was, she had no doubt, one of those tonight. This time, she would be used by the company with the hopes of enticing old, large money into investing tonight. She understood there was a lot on the line. The new potions she was working on would offer a lot of hope to those in need. Hermione had promised herself that she would use her charms, but she would not allow a wizard to use his money with the hopes of ensnaring her.
“All done,” she announced taking another step back and turning to the young pajama-clad girl sitting cross-legged hugging her teddy bear close against her body: a beautiful child whose fragility tore at the heartstrings of Hermione’s heart and made her curse her boss silently for using her to make her go to this soiree this evening.
“You look beautiful, Momma,” the child remarked with complete admiration and love shining in her beautiful silver-blue eyes.
“Thank you, love,” Hermione answered lifting a shaking finger to trace to her daughter’s delicate features.
If all went right tonight, Hermione would have the necessary raise that would give her a glimmer of hope that would save her daughter’s life. In a way, it would be a relief for Hermione. Months of going from doctor to doctor to pediatrician trying to find what had made Rose’s health so precarious. It had been an exhausting never-ending set of referrals from muggle doctors that frustrated Hermione. Her next hope would be the wizarding doctors but the prices they wanted were too steep. It mattered little that she had been part of the trio that had brought down the Dark Lord Voldemort. Her next step – no, Hermione would not even dare think of it at all. She would find another way before she would dare think of that route.
Fear at the thought that danced in her head gnawed at her stomach, but Hermione refused to allow it to show itself in front of her beloved daughter. Instead, Hermione clasped her hand over her daughter’s small ones, and a warm smile tugged on the corners of her mouth.
“Luna has my mobile number,” Hermione relayed softly as her daughter scooted off the bed and took her Mother’s hand. The two of them headed to the living area of the cottage. “She knows to call me right away if anything is needed.”
“Don’t worry, Momma,” Rose spoke up hugging her teddy even closer. “Auntie Luna always makes the best snacks before bedtime.”
Leaving Rose, even with someone as competent as Luna, made Hermione’s heart wrench with guilt and pain. Especially tonight, when Hermione’s maternal instincts and duty to the company warred against each other trying to vie for control for Hermione’s sense of duty and heart. Yet, the company needed these investors was important. The money gained essential. Critical, she amended silently to herself.
Besides, Rose was in trusted hands with Luna Lovegood. Hermione could not believe that it would be Luna herself that had been her amazing strength. Luna had placed her friendship with Harry and Ginny in perilous danger when she offered Hermione an ear. Ginny, who Hermione had once thought to be something of a sister, had made it quite clear that it had been her fault that she and Ron were over and thus Ginny decided she, too, was finished with her. It had been a stab to the heart made even worse when Harry had ultimately taken Ron’s side in the matter.
But Luna had decidedly believed that while the other part of the group were idiotic to take sides when there was no need, risked her own relationship with Harry and the Weasleys when she offered to be the person Hermione could turn to. Luna believed that the others were too blind to see that the compatibility between Ron and Hermione had never really been, she had already seen it from miles away. Luna had once confessed that Hermione’s red string was not tied to Ron but to that of someone else and believed that the red string was the reason behind the break-up. To others as well as Hermione herself, Luna was somewhat of a witch that no one took seriously but as the two of them began to bond, Hermione saw Luna in a different light.
“You look amazing,” Luna beamed dreamily. Her long, blonde hair had been pulled back in an unusual messy ponytail. Her blue eyes glancing down at the little girl holding Hermione’s hand. “Hello, my little nugget.”
“Auntie Luna!” Rose squealed in delight letting her mother’s hand go to run to the other woman.
Luna swept up Rose and spun her lightly around. “What do you say we make some chocolate chip cookies and we watch one of those Disney movies you are so fond of?”
Before Hermione could even say a word in edgewise, the two of them swept out of the room in giggles and delight. This was Hermione’s que to leave. She moved to the hallway to grab her small clutch purse and sweater. She took one final look back and smiled. Luna would take care of Rose and would make sure that if anything happened, she would ring her.
Turning once more around, Hermione opened the front door of the cottage and stepped outside. She locked the door behind her and headed to the small car parked just off to the side. It may not be the best car in the world, but the old clunker got her to and from work with no incidents. She had not even had the heart to trade it in yet. It had been the first car she had purchased for herself shortly upon moving into the cottage those seven years ago. It had been the car that safely brought Rose home from the muggle hospital when she had been born.
Sliding into the driver’s side, Hermione inserted the key and twisted the ignition to turn it on. The car smoothly pulled out of the driveway and headed in the direction of the hotel in which the soiree was being held. The drive through the countryside and into the city offered Hermione a moment of relaxation. She had always adored the drive to and from work. The cottages that dotted the countryside were far and few between and the scenery of rolling hills and emerald-colored grass made Hermione feel so much at home. Hermione could still remember that the moment her magic manifested into her world, she could see the line between the muggle world and that of the wizarding world. It had fascinated her how well both worlds could blend into each other.
Hermione had made it a point that she would use little magic in front of Rose. She had not wanted her daughter to know of the wizarding world just yet. She knew Rose had magic within her. She had seen it manifest a few times especially during times of tantrums, but Rose remained blissfully unaware of her own ability and that was simply fine for Hermione. She knew that in time she would teach Rose and even get her ready for a wizarding school. Hermione did not want Rose going to Hogwarts. She had thought as the time drew closer, they would move away from here and Rose would be placed in a school that no one would know of her nor that of her mother and her secret would continue to remain just that.
As the city came into view, Hermione could see the large hotel looming just off in the distance. She quickly found a parking place nearby and parked her car. Once her car was locked and secured, Hermione moved quickly across the busy street and into an alleyway apparating even closer to the hotel.
Soft-muted music vied with chatter of variously toned voices, and Hermione cast the large ballroom and its occupants an idle sweeping glance. The men wore black tuxedos with white silk shirts, black bowties, while the women were dressed in a sea of colored silk gowns made to impress.
Within minutes of her arrival, she was offered a drink, and she managed to offer a smile as Sean MacNeil moved to her side. He was a handsome gentleman in his late thirties and considered to be one of her companies up and coming top junior executive.
His approval gaze was brief as he leaned over and whispered softly, “You’re hoping Bossman will hurry up and let you off the hook before the arrival of his most esteemed guest.”
Hermione raised a brow. It had been the first time she had heard that there was to be an esteemed guest among the crowd, but she could not help but to nod her head. She took a sip of the champagne. “I am hoping his guest won’t show or be on the late side so I can leave. You know how much I hate these events.”
Sean smirked. “I am surprised you even showed up, Jean.”
“I almost didn’t,” she returned.
Sean glanced at Hermione again. “But you did. Aren’t you at least curious about our unknown guest?”
Hermione shook her head. “Another investor that our boss hopes to gain and nothing more. I know he is proud of that we of the achievements we have reached in break-through potions, but he needs to keep the investors happy and the money to continue flowing into the company. I am sure that the new investor was hooked with all those slide shows you worked so hard on a few weeks prior. But again, I am no expert in the field.”
Hermione had not really planned on drinking her entire glass of champagne but since her arrival at the soiree, an unexpected nervousness had washed over. She could not explain where or why it had suddenly come from but that only it was there. Her chocolate-colored eyes swept once more over the crowd and found no one really of interest. Most were unknown to her. She could surmise that half were nothing more than other investors in the company. Some of them probably had come to celebrate their latest break-through and others were probably there at the bequest of their boss, Clive Hade, to offer support with his latest investor.
“Want another drink?” Sean’s voice broke through her small train of thoughts as he reached for her glass.
“Please?” Hermione relinquished her hold on her glass allowing Sean to take it from her.
Hermione watched Sean’s retreating figure disappear into the crowd as that feeling of restlessness returned once more. There was something in that restlessness that she felt, an awareness that sent her body reeling in recognition. Brief glimpses of a life that once was filled her vision, shaking her down to the very core of her soul. In that moment, Hermione wondered if she reached out would it all fade before her eyes? Images shattered before her and in place reality once more set in drawing her back and sending her heart to beat harder against her breast.
Her chocolate-colored eyes swept over the sea of color until they landed upon the familiar form of the man that could send her body and soul racing inside her. Seven years apart had done little to change him. He still looked the same. His blond hair drawn back from his face and his silver-blue eyes locked upon the figure at his side as he nodded in agreement to something that Blaise Zabini had told him. Hermione took a brief step backward in shock. He could not be the investor Clive had found, could he?
But Hermione knew that he was exactly whom she thought he was, and, in that realization, Hermione thought only to flee before he knew she was there. Hermione felt the fear coursing through her veins as she could only think of Rose at home. For now, her daughter was safe, but she would not be. Not the moment Draco Lucius Malfoy laid eyes upon her.
“Your drink,” Sean’s voice broke through her thoughts and all Hermione could do was murmur a tiny ‘thanks’ before taking a drink of the gold-colored liquid. Sean, who was completely unaware of the turmoil coursing through his companion turned his gaze where their boss stood in deep conversation with two men he had never seen. “So those are the investors?”
Hermione could not find her voice to answer and only nodded. Her mind was kicking into overdrive trying to find a way to escape notice. Her eyes moved once more over the crowd looking for an exit. She turned to her companion, ready to give him back the drink, and make some excuse to leave…
“Ah there you are, Jean!” Clive’s voice through the room as he and his companions made their way directly toward her.
Like a deer caught in the headlights of oncoming car, Hermione turned to look at her boss making his way in her direction and with him, his two new companions. She could see the brief flitter of shock and surprise register upon her estranged husband’s face before it was replaced by the swelling rage that had been buried deep within.