I haven't stopped loving you
Hermione slept over at Harry and Ginny's house while Ron went home to Lavender's with the promise that he'll be joining them tomorrow to get James his birthday gift. The sun was just starting to show over the horizon when she felt small arms wound around her waist, she shifted to lie on her back and opened her sleep laden eyes.
James small cheery face filled with excitement popped to her vision, "Auntie Mione, you're up!" he cheered before planting a wet kiss on her cheek.
"Good morning sweetheart," she yawned. She rubbed the remnants of sleep from her eyes as peeked at the clock, "It's just half past 7, you're up early" she mumbled.
"I slept early last night" he shrugged his shoulders.
She can't help but giggle at the boy's response, there's really no denying that he is his Mum's son - Ginny used to talk exactly like that when they were still little.
"Mum told me to get you, breakfast is ready"
"Thank you, sweetheart. Go on down and have breakfast, we'll be going to Diagon Alley in a few," she winked.
He threw his arms around her again and hugged her tightly, "Yey!" he squealed.
She slipped her hands to his waist and started tickling him, making the boy hoot in laughter.
"S - stop, Auntiieeeeee!" he giggled as he tried pushing her hands away.
"Someone's having fun."
She turned her face to the side and saw her best friend standing by the door. She grabbed a pillow and chucked it towards his direction, a playful smile pasted on her lips.
"Ha! Is that the best you've got?" Harry taunted as he waved the pillow triumphantly.
"Damned Seekers reflex," she mumbled. She lazily pushed the duvet off her body and sat up, "Guess you still have the moves, Mr. Seeker."
"Runs in the family," he replied smugly.
"You sounded exactly like Ginny, you two are so alike it scares me sometimes," she said.
He smiled cheekily, "It scares me too, don't worry."
She rolled her eyes as she planted her feet on the floor, "I better fix myself, I don't want to keep break - no, Gin waiting" she said. She plucked her bag and made her way towards the bathroom, "Oh, I'm dropping by Fred and George's store later, I haven't seen those two in ages" she paused and furrowed her brows in confusion. "Wait, aren't you too overdressed for breakfast?" she asked as she gave him a quick once over.
"Finally caught on, have you" he said. He folded his arms on top of his chest and leaned sideways on the door, "I have to attend an early meeting with Kingsley today and Ginny have to run some errands in Hogsmeade" he explained. "Err - since you would be taking James today; would it possible to keep him with you for a few of more hours? Molly and Arthur left for Romania last night and -"
She lifted her hand to cut his rant off, "Of course, it's alright. I wanted to spend more quality time with my favorite guy and you just gave me that opening" she replied. She then turned her gaze towards the grinning boy sitting on top of the covers, "We're going to have so much fun, sweetheart" she grinned.
James nodded frantically as he hopped off the bed, "I'm going to get breakfast and get ready - yey Diagon Alley!" he hollered as he ran towards his Father.
"You're still a life saver, thank you!" he said. He then pulled away from his perch and hefted his son to his hips "Now go get showered and come eat breakfast with us."
"Be there in a few" she chimed as she entered the loo to take a bath.
After being away for so long, Draco Malfoy has finally decided to come home. It has been a while since he last set foot on his Mother land and he daresay missed it. He was in the midst of unpacking his things when an idea popped into his head. He instantly stopped what he's doing and decided to take a leisure walk along Diagon Alley. His first choice was Hogsmeade, but then, he remembered that Hogwarts was still in session, which meant students would be haunting every nook and cranny and he's really not a fan of crowded streets. He walked towards the vacant wrought iron bench near Florean Fortescue's and sat down; he crossed his legs as he perused the familiar stores that lined the street. True, the magical side of Champs-Elyses was one of the most grandest he ever laid his eyes on, but it still can't compete with the inherent beauty of the place he grew up in. He loved Paris; it was just not home for him.
He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees as his mind drifted off to the not so distant past. Leaving London was one of the hardest things he ever did in his entire life. It took every ounce of his courage to walk away from one thing that truly mattered to him, Hermione. He didn't want to leave, but the series of events that took place after their last meeting tipped him over the edge. When he first arrived in Paris, he was a total wreck. He drunk himself to stupor and avoided contact with anyone that reminded him of what he lost. He buried his grief with alcohol and wallowed in pain for as long as his body would allow.
It was exactly a year after he left that he decided to pull himself together. He quit his job at the Ministry and accepted an apprenticeship at Simpering Cauldrons LTD. He dedicated all his time to work and travelled across Europe to further his studies. He did a stint in the Muggle world for a couple of months to acquire some of the rarest potions ingredients. He enjoyed his stay and learned to love the culture of the people he was taught was inferior.
He was jarred out of his musing when he caught flashes of lights from his peripherals. He turned his head to the side and noticed two suspicious looking men watching him with hawk-eyes, "So much for being inconspicuous" he mumbled irritably. He shot up from his seat and started walking towards the other direction. He took a sharp turn into first alley he saw, pulled his wand out of his pocket and disapparated on the spot. He reappeared a few blocks away from Florean Fortescue's and resumed his trek. He walked past Gringgots and ran into someone, "I'm sorry" he said apologetically.
The buxom blonde woman gave him a once over, "I don't mind," she replied with a flirty smile.
He can't help but feel a little smug, "You still have it," he thought. He bowed his head politely and offered a small smile, "Have a good day," he said before he continued with his stroll. When he decided to wear his Muggle clothes this morning, he never thought he'd attract any attention. He just slipped into one of his black Armani button shirts and grabbed the first pair of jeans he saw. He knew he didn't dress to impress so he relished the way the woman eyed her with appreciation, "Muggle clothing for the win," he said with a smirk. He lowered his Ray Bans to cover his eyes and continued wandering along the busy streets.
Hermione cocked her head to the side and studied the ensemble that Ginny set out for her to wear; a beige, knee length spaghetti strapped baby doll dress. It was beautiful, it was just not something she would choose to wear on a stroll in Diagon Alley with a 6 year old kid attached to her hip. She sighed loudly as she took the dress off the hanger and carefully slipped it on. She then stepped into her ballerina flats and grabbed her purse from the dresser. She took a quick peek at her reflection before she hastily trotted towards the stairs.
"- I know, it's ridiculous."
She entered the kitchen and saw her friend's chatting around the breakfast bar; "Good morning" she greeted them cheerfully.
Ron turned on his seat and smiled at her, "Sleeping beauty is finally up, huh?"
She blew him a raspberry as she made her way towards the vacant spot beside Ginny. She hopped on the chair and braced her elbows on top of the granite counter. "That's new, you're not late."
Ron rolled his eyes, "I haven't been late in years, Mione,"
"Remind me to thank Lavender for that," she said cheekily.
Ginny chuckled as she slid a plate full of food right in front of her, "Eat up, you'll need energy if you're dealing with James - thanks for taking him by the way,"
"Thanks" she replied. She grabbed her fork and knife and started slicing her waffles into bite size pieces, "You know I'd take him in a heartbeat, no need to thank me," she added.
"See? I told you she doesn't mind" Harry said.
Ginny threw her husband an annoyed look, "I really hate your job," she said.
Harry planted a chaste kiss on Ginny's nose, "I love you."
Ginny smiled, "I love you too."
"I'm trying to eat here, knock it off" Ron grumbled before he shovelled another forkful of waffles in his mouth.
She ignored the couple's blatant display of affection and turned her gaze towards Ron, "Hey, are you sure it's okay with Lav? I mean, I can go to Diagon Alley alone-"
"It's alright," Ron cut her off. He grabbed his glass and took a large gulp of orange juice, "And besides, I'll be seeing her there, we're off to meet with the florist or whatever" he said.
She smiled, "I still can't believe you convinced her to marry you" she teased.
Ron sat straighter and gestured towards his toned body, "Who could resist this?"
Ginny scrunched her face, "I think I just lost my appetite,"
She threw her head back and let out a full belly laugh.
Hermione kept James safely tucked to her side as Ron led them through the bustling crowd. They've been through two different stores already, but the birthday boy can't seem to decide what he wants.
Ron halted his steps and turned towards them; he crouched down to his nephew's level and stared at him. "How about we go check Honeydukes? We could get you one of those goodie bags that you like" he suggested.
James seemed to mull over his Uncle's suggestion before nodding, "We could try," he replied.
He pulled James into his arms and carried him, "Let's go then," he said.
She threw Ron a thankful look as she tugged on the lilac cashmere wrap that Ginny insisted for her to wear.
He placed a hand on her lower back as he steered them towards the crowded store. He pushed the door open and gently lowered James back on the floor, "Go on, go crazy" he said with an indulgent smile.
James stared at them with pure delight before he took off.
He turned his face to the side, "You've been smiling at me like a loon for a couple of minutes now, it's starting to creep me out," he whispered.
"If looks could kill, I'm pretty sure I would have keeled over by now" she mused.
She chuckled, "Even after all these years, you're still oblivious," she said.
He furrowed his brows in confusion, "What do you mean?"
She gestured for him to come closer, "Your groupies has been following us for over an hour now, I won't be surprised if knickers started flying towards us."
His eyes widen comically, "Really?"
She nodded, "Really" she replied. She then spun on her heels and started making her way into the shop.
He yanked her arm and pulled her into his chest with a cheeky grin.
"What are you doing?" she asked with a quirked brow.
"Want to help me get rid of them...MUFFIN?" he asked, saying the last word loudly.
She threw him a murderous look when people started staring at them, "I'm going to murder you in your sleep...HONEYBEAR."
They heard collective gasps from their back, making Ron grin wider. He leaned forward and planted a chaste kiss on her forehead, "It's working" he whispered.
"I thought he was with Lavender Brown?" someone asked with a mortified voice.
She bit her bottom lip to keep herself from bursting into giggles, "Lavender is going to kill us" she replied.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, "She'd thank you" he winked.
"Love, I hate to leave you guys alone, but I have to go. Lavender is already waiting for me and you know how she is," Ron said apologetically.
"It's okay, we'll be alright. We'll just drop by the joke shop and wait for Harry and Ginny there" she replied.
"Are you sure? I can drop you off before I leave. I still have, 10 minutes," he offered.
She shook her head, "No, it's okay, you shouldn't keep a woman waiting - especially if the woman is Lavender," she joked.
He chuckled, "Okay, stay safe and I'll see you later" he said before kissing her goodbye.
"Say Hi for me!" she said. She waited until Ron's back disappeared from the crowd before she turned towards her charge, "So it's just you and me, are ready to get your gift now?" she asked.
James eyes almost bulged out of its socket, "But you already bought me a gift" he gestured towards the small bag he's carrying.
She fought the urge to smile, "You think that's all Auntie MIone is getting you for your sixth birthday?"
James threw her arms around her waist and hugged her tightly, "You're the best, Auntie Mione!"
She placed her hand on his head and ruffled his already messy hair, "Come on, we better going before your parents finds out," she said.
James slipped his tiny hand on hers and started tugging, "Let's go!" he said, his voice full of excitement.
She laughed as she steered him toward the street, she rounded the corner and almost instantly collided with someone, "Ooomph!"
"I'm sorry I - Hermione?"
Her head snapped up and saw a familiar face looming over her.
"Uncle Blaise!" James shrieked.
Blaise smiled at her before he moved his eyes towards James, "How are you doing, champ?" he asked as he lifted his hand for a high five.
James slapped his hand onto his, "You didn't come yesterday, I was waiting for you" he pouted.
"I'm sorry, I was away for business. Did you have a good day?"
James grinned and lifted the bag he's holding, "I did, Auntie Mione bought me tons,"
"I bet she did," he said. He then turned his attention to the woman standing beside the tot, "Fancy meeting you here, it's been a while."
She felt her cheeks flush, "Yeah, it's been a long time - err - how have you been?"
"Been good, been here and there" he replied. He then opened his arms, "Don't I get a hug? Friends do that, right?" he smirked.
She stepped into his arms and gave him an awkward hug, "Good to see you," she replied as she patted his back.
"I've missed you," he whispered. He then released her and smiled, "Where are you two up to?"
"Aunt Mione is taking me to buy another present."
"Is that so...hmmmnnnn...can I join you then? I mean, I haven't given you a present yet and since I missed your party, I think it's only fair that I buy you something right?"
James beamed, "Alright! More presents!"
He threw her a look, "Is it okay if I tag along?"
She chuckled, "You sure you're not busy?"
"No worries princess, I'm a free agent today, I'm all yours" he winked flirtatiously.
She ignored his statement and turned towards James, "Let's go love," she said.
He took the paper bag from James and replaced it with his hand, "Where are we exactly going?" he asked.
"Somewhere I'm sure this little boy would really love," she replied mischievously. She then surveyed the street for the specific shop she's looking for when something caught her eyes, "Not again," she mumbled.
"Is something the matter?" he asked.
She subtly pointed towards the group of witches swooning near the lamp post, "The price I pay for hanging out with famous men" she said with feigned woe.
He let out a full belly laugh, "And you're any better? I'm the one who should be watching my back here; you're one of the most eligible witches mentioned in the Daily Prophet."
She wrinkled her nose in distaste, "Don't even remind me that. I'm quite sure Rita Skeeter had a field day writing about my current loveless state,"
"We can always remedy that, you know" he wiggled his brows suggestively.
She snorted, "Nice try" she said. She checked the name of the stores and stopped right in front the one she's looking for, "We're here" she said.
James lifted his gaze to check where they're at, "Quidditch!" he gasped when he saw the large display window.
She sat on her haunches and faced her Godson, "I don't like the sport, but I know you love it, so, happy birthday sweetheart" she smiled.
"Thank you! Best gift ever!" James said as he flung his tiny arms around her neck.
She laughed as she returned the hug, "You're welcome," she replied. She then pulled away and stood up, "Now come on, no time to lose" she said.
Blaise hurriedly walked towards the door and pushed it open, "After you" he said politely.
She threw him a thankful look as she ushered James inside.
"Wow" James said with awe. He pulled his hands away from the adults and made a bee line towards the Quaffle display case.
Blaise shifted closer, "I'll follow the little guy, I know you don't like Quidditch much so run along and find him the best gift ever" he said.
"Thanks Blaise" she replied with a shy smile. She idly walked along the display cases and began her hunt for the perfect gift. She rounded the next aisle and found herself standing in front of a large shelf that was lined with different types of training brooms, "Perfect," she said.
She turned her face to the side and saw James staring at her with animated eyes, "Come here sweetheart," she beckoned.
James ran towards her with a loud whoop.
She crouched down to his level and gestured towards the shelf, "If I get you one of those brooms, can you promise me that you won't take it out on your own and ask the grown-up's for help?" she asked.
James nodded fervently, "Cross my heart, I won't take it out, I promise!"
She grinned, "Okay then," she ruffled his hair as she stood up. "Pick your broom then," she said.
James didn't need to be told twice, he moved towards the shelf and started grabbing random brooms.
"Can I help you?"
She turned to her side and saw one of the store clerks standing next to her, "Can you help him pick the safest training broom? The cost is not an issue, I just want him to have something that he can enjoy and be safe at the same time."
"Absolutely Ma'am" the clerk replied.
"Oh one more thing, please take it out of my Gringgots account, Hermione Granger"
"Thanks!" she chirped happily.
"You got him a broom," Blaise said.
"Think Potter would murder us if I complete his first Quidditch set?"
She smiled, "Have at it, I don't think he would mind" she replied.
Blaise smiled back, "Okay,"
She tugged her wrap tighter, "Blaise?"
"Is it okay if I step out for a bit? All this leather is making me feel light headed, I need some fresh air."
Blaise threw her a concerned look, "You sure you'll be alright?"
She nodded, "Yes, I'll just be outside - take your time" she replied. She then turned on her heels and made her way towards the door; she pushed it open and stepped out into the crowded street. She tilted her face and inhaled deeply. After a moment, she folded her arms on top of her chest and walked towards the lanky tree. She stood under it and fixed her eyes on the gloomy gray sky; she moved her hand towards her chest and wrapped her fingers around the cold key pendant. "It's our favorite season, do you remember?" she thought sadly.
Draco was about to go back to the Manor when he remembered something. He quickly retraced his steps and turned towards the other direction. He briskly jogged along the cobbled streets and headed towards the old Quidditch shop. He promised to buy his nephew new Quidditch supplies and he needed to get it now before his days started to get busy. He was about to cross the street to get to the store, but stopped when something caught his eyes, or someone rather. He braced his hand on the lamp post and squinted to get a better look. He felt his knees buckle when recognition washed over him, "H - Hermione," he gasped in shock. When he decided to come home, he knew that there was a large probability that they would cross paths again; he just didn't expect that it would happen this soon. He willed his feet to move, to turn around and walk away, but he just couldn't. His eyes seemed to be glued to her, busy taking in as much detail as their distance would permit him.
He was jerked out of his staring spree when he noticed a smiling raven boy headed her way. He watched as she crouched down to his level and started talking to him animatedly. The boy looked eerily familiar; he just couldn't point out why. He turned his attention back to Hermione and saw her staring at the man walking towards them. He felt his heart drop to his stomach when he recognized who it was, "Blaise" he said in disbelief. He felt himself stagger back as waves of irrational anger, betrayal and hurt surfaced inside his chest. "What the bloody fuck" he said as he balled his fists. He knew he was about to lose it completely, so he forced himself to turn around. He searched for the nearest abandoned alley and disapparated with a loud crack.
Hermione turned her head to the side and started scanning the other street. She knew someone was watching her just a few minutes ago and for some unfathomable reason, it felt really familiar, if not scary.
"Yes?" she asked as she continued searching the crowd.
"Are you okay? You look really pale" Blaise said with furrowed brows.
She folded her arms on top of her chest as she turned towards him, "Really? I'm okay, just a little tired" she replied.
James slipped his hand in hers, "Let's go to Uncle Fred and George, you can rest there" he said.
She can't help but smile at the little tot, "That's a brilliant idea love, thank you."
Blaise adjusted the parcel in his arms, "Let's go then," he said.
She threw the other street another look, "Yes, let's go" she said.