“A second date?! A dinner date?” Narcissa was about to lose it. “I’ll tell your father first thing in the morning! We have to discuss this as a family!” she stated fiercely.
“No, we don’t.” Draco replied. "The the portrait’s finished then?”
“It’s coming tomorrow morning..” his mother said.
“I wanted to make a deal with you,” he said a little slyly. “I won’t tell him about the Extinctio spell if you don’t tell him about Hermione…”
“That’s blackmail!” Narcissa yelled.
“You have taught me well,” Draco replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Take it or leave it…”
Narcissa fumed. That son of hers and his filthy preference for Mudbloods!
But she couldn’t risk Lucius finding out about the spell. It would kill him!
“A second date? Are you out of your mind?” Harry still wasn’t too keen. Hermione was meeting him at Grimmauld Place where he and Ginny now lived. They’d changed the gloominess of the house into a more modern space. Gryffindor colors were quite prominent, and so were the colors of the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny’s Quidditch Team.
“I’m not sure it really is a date…” Hermione said. “I said we still had stuff to talk about…”
“Like what?” Harry sought to know. “I can’t imagine having to talk to Malfoy about anything…”
“If we’re going to date, I first need to make absolutely sure where he stands…” Hermione explained. “How he really feels about blood status and so on. To establish if he’s changed enough for me…” she hesitated, “to want him.”
Harry groaned. Want him? This sounded far too serious already…
“Draco probably assumes you’re already dating though, rather than still finding out if you want to date…”
“That’s why I kept it early in the evening… I’m picking Rose up afterwards… as a clear sign, you know..”
“A sign of what?” Harry asked, dreading the answer.
“You know… that nothing …romantic is going to happen…”
“I cannot believe you just said that!” he moaned. “I don’t even want to think about it…”
“Well, I have to think about it,” Hermione said practically. “Did you know that he’s had a crush on me since like forever…” she giggled.
“He despised you!” Harry said puzzled.
“He was covering up for crushing on me…” she said. “Makes sense…”
“No, it doesn’t…” Harry said with a frown on his face. “It doesn’t!”
“I think it does,” Hermione responded. “He does seem changed. Nowhere near as power hungry anymore. And..” she sought for arguments. “He didn’t defend Bellatrix when I mentioned her… and he is fighting with his mother over me…”
“You talked about Bellatrix?” Harry asked surprised.
“Yes, and about Ron, and the case… I mentioned the spell we discovered…”
“You didn’t teach it to him, did you?” Harry asked sharply. “He is still Malfoy…”
“I told him I was glad he didn’t know about it during the war…”
“Wow, Hermione..! What did he say..?”
“At least he didn’t pull his wand on me… He said that both sides could have used it, and I reacted that surely he couldn’t actually believe that…”
“And?” Harry nudged her.
“That’s when he moved the topic back to the Jennings…”
“I suppose he knows you’ll stand up to him…” Harry said, a little more reassured.
“I always have..” Hermione said lightly. “He took it all rather well, I think…”
“Better than before… it sounds like.” Harry tentatively agreed.
Narcissa had kept her word. Or rather, she had given into her son’s blackmail… Lucius should be spared. Hopefully Draco would come to his senses soon and decide on that young Bulstrode librarian as she obviously liked books too…
Lucius’ portrait was magnificent. He was depicted as she remembered him in his prime: fierce, filled with pride and quite boastful, someone on top of the world. He had replaced the snoring old Wizard and looked out from over the mantelpiece. His seat in front of it empty had become Draco’s instead. But on the portrait itself, he had the same comfortable seat, the same warm fireplace, and a door painted next to it…— A door that in reality did not exist.. — leading to his private quarters.
Lucius was disappointed his son was not there for his unveiling… His wife was present and some house elves, but not his son and heir…
“Draco sends his apologies… He had to work..” Narcissa explained.
Lucius snorted. “He takes it far too seriously… If he’d had a position at the Ministry I might have understood…”
Narcissa was enormously pleased her husband was present again… finally someone to confide in as her relationship with Draco became more strained.
“Any news on the courting front?” he wanted to know.
Narcissa swallowed and lied through her teeth: “No, he still in mourning…. But there is this Bulstrode girl that has taken an interest in him…”
“Not that one…” His face became dark; she wouldn’t do for a daughter in law!
“No, her sister apparently. She’s a librarian.”
“Good, good…. Very good.” He was pleased for now. Appeased for the moment.
Narcissa sighed. The first hurdle had been taken… Alas, there would be more to come.