Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 14

Hermione had decided to write to Malfoy, (or should she call him Draco now?) She wanted to know for sure—although she realized the answer beforehand—if he really had been the healer she had written to. If he had startled when he saw her sitting in the lunchroom and that had been the reason she had been stood up.

She tried to be as honest as she could. That it had been a big shock to her, that she’d mostly liked his letters, except for his still rather unpleasant views when it came to Muggles. That she had been looking forward to the date, and he had shown up instead berating her about books and Muggles…

Hermione gave her condolences a second time, polite ones but nothing too excessive—it would look rather hypocritical. She wondered, as she twiddled with her quill, if his remark when they returned some of the Malfoy books had been pleasant or not, and decided to ask that as well. He was hard to read, and she’d learnt to expect unpleasantness before the words even left his mouth… Explaining that even if he was being friendly, she might not immediately pick up on it…

Draco read the letter on a Saturday afternoon while sipping his coffee, seated in his father’s chair near the mantelpiece. His mouth fell open and the coffee dripped on his tie. Whatever he had expected… not this.

Narcissa asked what was going on. She was picking out a frame for her husbands portrait, trying to choose between silver and dark mahogany wood, and Draco realized it had been a mistake reading the letter straight away. Now he had to keep two secrets from his mother, something he really wasn’t used to at all!

Drawing a deep breath, he decided to come clean instead. “Mother… There have been some things I’ve not told you about yet…”

Narcissa’s face paled. Did her son want to move into his own place..? Abandoning her to the sole company of her husband’s forefathers?

“Please tell me you won’t move out..?” she begged. Begging had always been beneath her… but this, this she would find truly be unable to bear…

“No, not as far as I know….” He reassured her, his brow wrinkled… If he truly would end up being with Granger… Weasley… Hermione, she’d probably be reluctant living here, in this particular house… Draco sighed.

“Actually,” he swallowed hard, “there are two things… The only reason I visited the Aurors was because…” he faltered.

“That spell…. But you don’t seem ill at all?” his mother wondered.

“I’m not actually ill. I just couldn’t… I really couldn’t tell father…”

“Draco, what is it?” His mother became worried, as she flung the book with frame examples aside… “Please, you can tell me anything…”

“Can I?” he fretted. “Can I really?”

“What is it? What was the spell?”

In the softest whisper he had ever spoken, Draco said: Extinctio.

His mother gasped as she clasped her hand over her mouth….

“Isn’t there a counter spell?” she wondered desperately.

“I haven’t found one yet,” he answered as his eyes began to fill with tears. “So far, all I’ve found is the option for the person who put it on you to reverse the spell again…. And that isn’t likely to happen…”

“Oh, my dear darling boy…” she said as she pulled him into her embrace. “Living with that… all alone..”

“I really couldn’t tell father,” he repeated.

“I understand completely,” she replied. “Best that he doesn’t learn of it at all…”

Fortunately, the only portrait in the living room was deaf. Although an excellent lip reader, he was snoring at the moment, fast asleep.

“What was the other thing?” she asked gently as she wiped her sons tears from his cheeks.

His face darkened. “You are not going to be pleased…” he warned. “I’m not even sure how I feel about it myself…” he added mysteriously.

“Tell me!” she demanded.

Draco began with his growing disinterest in the pure-blood women he knew, how they might like his money more than him…. How this Muggle-born woman had responded, lecturing him quite harshly but who had been very friendly otherwise. That he had felt a genuine connection but their first date had never actually happened…

“When were you going to inform us…. me… of this?” his mother asked sternly.

“Never, not if I could help it…” he admitted.

“Why didn’t you go on a date? Did you have second thoughts?” she hoped.

“No, when I saw her… I recognized her as….”

“Who?” His mother felt a sense of foreboding coming over her…

“Granger….” He whispered. “Of all the Mudbloods in all the world…”

“That woman! The one who…” Narcissa felt like beginning a tirade of Hermione’s faults.

“She did bring flowers…” Draco replied lamely.

Narcissa needed to sit down.

A conversation with her husband years and years ago came back to memory. Lucius had been worried. Draco talked about her a little too much… Why did he so desperately wanted to outshine her? He couldn’t be trying to impress the girl? She had laughed his worries away, yet both of them had been very relieved when Draco seemed to be spending more and more time with Pansy Parkinson.

“Lucius was right after all,” she said, her hand clutched over her heart.

“What?! Father couldn’t have possibly have known….” Draco snapped at her.

“It’s why he insisted on pure-bloods for the advert,” she informed him. “It’s presumably why you scribbled that it didn’t truly matter underneath…” she sighed.

“How do you know what I scribbled…?”

“We do read the paper ourselves, my dear…” his mother smirked.

“But I wasn’t thinking of her at all…. I just wished to have a chance at more responses and with so few of us left… I really didn’t think of her,” Draco stated firmly.

“Not that you were aware of perhaps,” his mother granted him. “But subconsciously… maybe you did..”

“Lucius feared this all along,” Narcissa continued. “The girl seemed to be a bit of an obsession when you were at Hogwarts and your dislike for her was…. off somehow.. Too fierce, like you were compensating for something else…”

“I just wanted to please father, and she was really irritating and bookish and a… a Mudblood,” he responded hesitantly.

“I can see why you considered keeping all this to yourself,” his mother said. “I presume that letter is from her?” She peered at it as if it contained poisonous fumes.

“Yes, she seems to have guessed it was me all along…”

“She can’t be too pleased about that…” Narcissa snorted as she hoped the letter contained a fierce rejection. It would hurt her son tremendously, but it would be for the best in the end.

“It…. It’s kind of ambiguous,” Draco answered. “She wants to talk…”

“And what do you want?” his mothered longed to know.

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