To Find You Again
Gregory Goyle lumbered into The Leaky Cauldron and took a seat in the far back of the place. It was a well-hidden spot in the back. A little lit and probably the only place, Gregory was certain, where many Deatheaters met their connections. He was certain that even his own father probably accompanied Lucius Malfoy numerous times to this place for some meeting or another and tonight, he would follow in those footsteps….
Except there was different sort of meeting for Gregory. This meeting was meant to relay a message of warning to the elder Malfoy and hope that in turn for his service that he would grant Gregory a boon. He was not sure that the boon he had in mind would be something Lucius would consider, but there was hope in Gregory.
It was several minutes after his arrival that his eyes caught sight of Lucius Malfoy arriving and pausing momentarily in the doorway. He watched the elder Malfoy scan the Cauldron before his grey-blue eyes laid upon Gregory’s form. Lucius moved through the busy crowd ignoring the stares and jeers from the faces of the Cauldron’s patrons. Most of them, Gregory was certain, still believed that Lucius Malfoy was still a blood traitor, but none of them made any move against him. The Malfoy Family still held power and sway within the wizarding world even now.
“Gregory,” Lucius greeted removing his cloak and laying his silver snake-head cane down onto the table. He pulled out a chair and settled down into it, glancing briefly around.
“Lord Malfoy,” Gregory returned respectfully with a nod of his head.
“I was surprised to get an owl from you this afternoon,” Lucius continued. There was a tone of calculation within his words, “especially when you informed me that Astoria Greengrass contacted you. Now, you did not go further into details, but you inquired if I was willing to meet you here,” he gestured with a slight look of disgust upon his face. “Of course, this piqued not only my interest but the interest of my lady wife, Narcissa.”
It was then that Gregory took note of the looming figure that appeared behind Lucius Malfoy. Decked in green velvet stood the lovely Narcissa Malfoy. He had not even seen her arrival, nor had he had even been aware that she had entered just behind Lord Malfoy. Nevertheless, he rose from his seat, pushing back his chair to bow respectfully to the Lady Malfoy and gestured for her to join them.
“Thank you, Gregory,” Narcissa said taking her seat next to her husband. “As you are aware, Hermione Granger has returned home to her marriage and along with her, our granddaughter, Rose.”
“Astoria mentioned Rose briefly in the conversation,” Gregory acknowledged. “She mentioned something about the girl having to see a healer soon and she wanted me to gain access to her records the moment they were placed in my hand.”
Narcissa shot her husband a sharp glance.
“Rose is ill, Gregory,” Narcissa supplied the information. “She has a tumor in her brain, and we are hoping the healers at St. Mungo’s offer a much more advance help in removing it.”
“I see,” was all he could muster to add to the conversation. He felt horrible for even contemplating helping Astoria with whatever it was she wanted.
“But there is something you can do for us,” Narcissa remarked bringing Gregory back to the conversation.
Gregory’s thick dark brow rose upward in interest.
“You may continue to supply Astoria with whatever information she requires as long it does not place Rose’s life in danger,” Lucius stated firmly “If she does make any threats toward her or Hermione, I want to be told quickly and I will take care of said threats quickly.”
“If I may inquire of a boon, Lord and Lady Malfoy,” Gregory inquired upon absorbing the information he had been given.
“You may inquire,” Lucius acquiesced.
“I would like no harm to come to Astoria,” he stated watching the brief expressions of anger to flitter upon the faces of Lord and Lady Malfoy. “Hear me out first, please. I inquire of this boon because I would like to return my family’s good name to society. We were affected not only by the association with Voldemort, but it also affected the Goyle coffers at Gringotts.” There was a small pause as he looked at both Lucius and Narcissa for a moment. He could see the two of them contemplating his offer, but he continued, “With Astoria as my wife, her dowry could refresh the coffers and the family name.”
Lucius sat back, taking in the request. For him, it would be a fitting punishment to be levied on Astoria. He looked over at his wife, who seemed to be quite pleased with the idea of removing Astoria as a threat to their son’s already damaged marriage.
“I will allow it,” Lucius replied finally, “but with a stipulation that upon marriage to Astoria, you leave England.”
“Hermione, can you help with the tie?”
Pausing in her own grooming, her bare feet padded across the thick carpet until she was in front of her husband. Her small, slender fingers moved to take the dark green silk tie and fixed it into a Windsor knot.
“There,” she whispered before retreating once more back to the dresser to finish dressing.
She could feel her husband’s eyes upon her, and she turned to look at him. In that moment, she could see every single emotion flitter through those winter blue eyes. She knew that they had made no tentative movement to try to salvage their marriage. Most of their time together had been small and fleeting and centered upon Rose’s health. She had been contemplating making the first move herself seeing as the two of them needed to put up a united front for the sake of Rose. It would do no good to have both parents at each other’s throats.
Most of all, she missed him. Immensely. She missed the way they had been during the early stages of their dating and marriage. Part of her wanted to recapture that but the other half reminded her that there were still three of them, and until Astoria was removed from the picture, there would be no happily ever after.
But what would it hurt to try anyway?
“Draco?” Hermione said fidgeting. Her Gryffindor bravery was gone, at least for the moment. Her thoughts had swirled back to the cottage and her mind filled with memories of harsh words she had spoken. A declaration that continued to reverberate in the back of her mind – that she would never return to being his wife. Part of her felt horrible for the cruelty in her words. She could only chalk it up as a heat of the moment because that what it had been – a heated moment of anger.
“Mmm?” he inquired keeping his gaze upon her. He could see the internal struggle of something bothering his wife and that drew his concern. He moved to her side and knelt to look firmly into her chocolate-colored hues. “What bothers you so?”
“We need to talk,” she whispered turning in the seat to look at him.
“About what?” He inquired curiously.
“About us. About our marriage,” she said trying to keep her voice firm, but failing. “I think we need to do this now.”
Draco looked away. He worried that she was going to tell him that this entire arrangement between them would not work…that she saw no point in continuing it. He rose to his feet and ran his slender fingers through his long, blonde hair.
“Draco,” she began waiting for his undivided attention, “I know things have been difficult between us and we haven’t spent any time together, but I would like to try to make this work for us…for Rose.”
At her words, he turned quickly to look at her uncertain he had heard her correctly. She wanted to try to save their marriage and it seemed she was even more willing to swallow her Gryffindor pride. This move – on her part – stunned him. He had not been expecting this at all from her. Rather, he expected her to do the complete opposite especially since coming here, she had been doing whatever she could to avoid him.
He moved quickly to her side and picked her up, holding her close against him.
“I have loved you forever,” he whispered softly feeling the tears gathering his eyes. He buried his face into the crook of her neck, inhaling her scent.
“And I have loved you too - forever,” she returned wrapping her arms around him. “I’m sorry for leaving the way I did and never telling you I was pregnant.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” he told her. “I have my wife back.”
He lifted his head to look at her. “Hermione,” he said as she touched his face tenderly, “you need to know this – I should have told you this during the beginning. We, Malfoys, can never cheat on our spouses. While some of us may call it a curse, especially those who were forced into arranged marriages, many of us believe it to be a blessing.”
“So, what I saw was not what I thought?” She seemed confused until the last pieces of the puzzle fell into place in her head. She realized then that Astoria had done it possibly unaware of the curse-turned-blessing in disguise.
He nodded. “I could never touch her,” he clarified. “I could never sleep with her. It would have caused problems for me. When our blood mixed during our ceremony, it activated the curse or blessing making it where neither of us could ever love anyone else.”
“I understand now why I could never date or look at anyone and not see you,” she spoke softly. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Draco. I was wrong and I should have not jumped to such conclusions.”
Draco placed a kiss upon her lips. “I should have told you. I should have been more open about all of it the moment we married. I carry half the blame for the breakdown of our marriage.”
Hermione returned the kiss. “Let us vow to always be open to each other.”
Draco smiled and nodded his head. He just wanted to hold her a bit longer before they had to leave for Thorpe Manor.
It was nearly an hour later when the two of them found themselves standing at the large oak door of Thorpe Manor. The Malfoy car had pulled away just moments ago leaving the two of them to make their up the stairs to the front door. Hermione was, undoubtedly, nervous. She was not sure exactly what sort of welcoming she would be expected especially since she had only been calling into work.
Hermione was the first to reach out and ring the bell. She glanced over at her husband, who seemed to be more relaxed than she was. She found herself envying her husband’s confidence. It had always been hard to maintain her own especially when she had been younger and during her years at Hogwarts.
The door opened to reveal an elderly gentleman dressed in a black suit. He opened the door realizing that this was the couple his boss had been expecting.
“Come in,” he drawled and gestured for them to enter.
Draco took his wife’s hand in his and led the two of them into the foyer where they drink in the beauty of the manor. It was not as big as Malfoy Manor, but it was far cozier than it.
“Follow me,” the elderly gentleman announced and the two followed after him, into a room just off the foyer. “The master will be with you shortly.”
With that, he was gone leaving the two of them alone. Hermione was the first to take a seat and her husband followed closely, taking a seat next to her. His hand once more taking hold of hers, offering her a small reassurance squeeze in hopes of elevating any fear that still lingered within.
It was at that moment Clive Thorpe appeared dressed in a simple pair of black pants and a white and blue striped shirt.
“Ah, Mr. Malfoy and Jean,” he greeted warmly moving across the room to take ahold of his rising guests’ hands. “It is good to have you both here at the manor. I was beginning to worry about you, dear Jean, when I had been told you had taken a few days off.”
“That is why I am here, Mr. Thorpe,” Hermione offered softly trying to contain her nervousness in her voice.
“Now why would you sound so fearful, my dear Hermione,” Clive Thorpe queried with a knowing glint in his eyes.