To Find You Again
Astoria Greengrass made her way into the building, pausing only briefly to scoop up the endless messages meant for Draco, and headed toward the direction of the elevators. She would have gladly Apparated directly to Draco’s floor, but the building’s main floor was littered with muggles and she knew her boss would not be thrilled if any of them caught sight of her using magic. Instead, she was forced to piling into the small box with a mixture of muggles and wizards ready for a new day.
Astoria sneered as the last of the group piled in. The last two women squeezed themselves next to Astoria and began to quietly whisper to each other of the latest gossip filtering throughout the floors.
“Did Anastasia tell you about the woman that visited Mr. Malfoy several days ago?” the woman spoke to her friend with a giggle.
This caused Astoria to stiffen and listen more closely to the conversation. Draco had not mentioned a visit but then, she had not seen him either in the past few days. She had been told by the receptionist downstairs that Draco had taken a few days off to care for family matters and nothing more. Had this been the family matter? Perhaps they were discussing Narcissa Malfoy. After all, no one in the building had really seen her before. She rarely made any sort of appearance at the main Malfoy Inc. building.
The other woman shook her head. “No,” she answered.
“Well,” the first woman began pausing for special effect, “it appears that it was actually his wife, Hermione Malfoy. No one knows what she came for but from what Anastasia said, she left the building with puffy eyes as if she had been crying.”
Astoria’s eyes widened. Hermione Granger-Malfoy had returned. Why had she not been told? She had thought that all her well-laid out plans had gotten rid of that annoying mudblood. What reason would she have to return? Whatever it was, Astoria was going to find out and put an end to it.
A soft ding rang through the small metal box and Astoria stepped forward and left. A determination in her step as she headed for Draco’s office.
Hermione made her way down the grand staircase of Malfoy Manor and headed toward Lucius’ study. Part of her knew why they wanted to talk to especially without Draco – both curious as to why she had departed from them without word or missive. She had not wanted to drudge out painful memories but both Lord and Lady Malfoy were going to be persistent. They always were and Hermione had learned long ago that nothing stayed hidden from them – for long. No, Lucius and Narcissa were a determined pair and vicious together as they were beautiful.
She envied them. She envied their marriage. She envied the way they looked at each other and how they treated each other even when they thought they were alone. It was the stuff she had only read in fairytales when she had been a child and she had hoped to have the same sort of marriage like they did. In fact, she thought her marriage would have rivaled theirs.
That was until Astoria made herself comfortable in between them.
Pushing away any further thoughts of her marriage and Astoria, Hermione paused in the doorway, raising a fist to knock gently at the study door. A soft “come in” told her that the two elder Malfoys had been waiting and soon the bombardment would begin. She pushed the door open and popped her head in for a moment to assess the situation. She could see the two of them sitting in identical chairs with a large table separating them. Behind them, a large window offered a beautiful view of the Malfoy gardens.
Hermione moved further into the study and took a seat across from the two of them. She could already see that lunch had arrived and had been waiting for her. She turned her eyes toward the two elder Malfoys and smiled warmly at them.
“Good afternoon,” she greeted them reaching for a cup and the kettle to pour herself a cup.
It was Narcissa who was the first to return the greeting. Hermione never expected Lucius to say anything. She had always been used to Lucius’ aloofness. Yet, when he lowered the paper and returned the greeting as well, Hermione was sure that deep within the bowels of Hell, it had frozen. Really hard.
“Why don’t we have a wonderful lunch and catch up before Lucius departs to retrieve Rose from school,” Narcissa announced pushing the small tray table in front of them.
For most of the first part of the lunch, there had been eager questions peppered from both the Malfoys of her pregnancy, the birth of Rose, and how she had managed to fool the world into thinking she was not Hermione Granger. She offered each one with lengthy dialogue and giving them each a chance to offer further input.
Hermione found herself relaxing further in their company. The conversation flowed lively between the three of them and there were quite several laughs, something she really had not expected whatsoever from them. It was refreshing, to say the least, and with Lucius’ candor, Hermione found herself at home with them. Conversations had been missed but Hermione was waiting, and she knew the two of them were only bidding their time.
Lunch was starting to wind down. Lucius glanced only briefly at his wristwatch before drawing those cold blue eyes once more upon her.
“I believe we have a discussion that needs to be fed between the three of us,” he spoke, “and I feel that you have the answers both myself and Cissy seek.”
Hermione stiffened knowing the question that would only come in moments.
“Tell me of Astoria’s role in this.”
Four pairs of eyes fell upon her as her mouth opened and the tale of Astoria’s involvement in the destruction of her marriage came rolling freely from her lips. In the deepest recesses of her mind, Hermione wondered if such freedom of her words came from the price of the tea she had drunk – possibly filled with Veritaserum.
Draco Lucius Malfoy was not happy. He was still seething from the events of last night. He still could not understand why his wife – the one he had craved so much – had tried to sleep in another room. He had made it quite clear in the beginning that there would be none of that – he wanted her back where she belonged, and she had rightly defied him.
The paper crumbled in his hand. He was in no mood to deal with any of this and he was certainly not in the mood to deal with Astoria when she arrived. He had watched her closely, paying attention to the way she made her way toward him with a sway of her hips. He remembered what Blaise had told him: Astoria had been after him ever since Hogwarts.
Draco’s winter blue eyes narrowed. He had smelt the saturation of her perfume the moment the door opened causing his nose to wrinkle in disgust. It was apparent that Astoria had dabbed much more than the necessary amount this day. The stuff was enough to give him the beginnings of a headache.
“What is it, Astoria?” Draco snarled.
Astoria paused in her steps. She had never heard him turn his tone on her. Had what she heard been true? Had the ladies in the elevator been correct? Had Hermione returned?
She could feel her heart sink. She had been working so hard to gain anything she could from him and in moments, it was crashing around her.
“Forgive me, Draco,” she purred gently placing the set of files in front of him, “I was told these were important for the meeting later and I wanted to make sure that these would do.”
Draco released the crumbled paper and opened the files laid before him. Each one seemed to be exactly what would be needed.
“Thank you,” he said. “Make sure that all meetings in the next two weeks are canceled. My daughter has a doctor’s appointment and I wish to attend them.”
Daughter? The word caused her mind to completely shatter. Draco was a father? When did this happen?
“I didn’t realize –“her words were cut off.
“No, you would not,” he said coldly. “Hermione has returned home and with her, my daughter Rose.”
“I see,” she whispered softly taking a step back unsure of how to take this information. She could feel the tears gathering in her eyes. “I will see to it that all meetings are canceled and that the rest of the floor be aware of your departure of the time being.”
Draco waved her away. She knew this was his way of dismissing her. Something snapped inside Astoria and she knew that if she wanted Draco, she would have to get rid of both Hermione and Rose.
Lucius Malfoy made his way out of the manor. His snake cane and wand held tightly in his right hand. It had taken every inch of self-control for him not to go to the Malfoy Inc. building to pull Astoria out of there. He had not been happy with having heard Hermione’s recount of having found Astoria in their marriage bed. He had to give Astoria credit – the woman was determined.
But it was time to put a stop to it. It was time for all her games to come to an end and the healing that needed to repair a broken marriage between his son and Hermione.
As the limo door opened and Lucius slipped in, his mind was already in the planning stages. A pity there would be one less Greengrass in the world.