Harry was gaining ground on the Jennings. Or so he thought. He had found one of their old abandoned hide-outs which had provided some clues. Harry had also interviewed the man that Draco had treated. He had a lot to tell and his information was far more recent than Draco’s had been.
The Jennings appeared to be on a spree… Perhaps they sensed the mood in the country? Perhaps they felt this was the moment to become great again… to recruit even?
Mr. Weasley had heard of a debate on Wizard secrecy which had turned into a protest. For real good Muggle-Wizard relations they should no longer be secret anymore. The protest had soon become violent and Mr. Weasley had been quite upset to learn of it. He didn’t want to contemplate they idea that the death of his son could be related to such a, in and of itself, noble cause.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley still didn’t know of Hermione’s relationship with Draco. But that would soon change….
Draco heard the good news coming of Hermione’s lips…
“They’ve agreed to meet you…” she said, biting her lip. “They were ever so shocked… I… Well, you see, they’ve heard your name quite a lot over the years….”
“Before you sent them away…” he said.
“Yes, but their memory has been fully restored and I filled them in on everything…” she faltered.
“And most of it wasn’t nice…” Draco gathered.
“No… and they still remember your dad… so, there’s that too. They are pretty nervous and rather worried too. Wondering what I’ve gotten myself into…”
“So am I..” Draco mumbled under his breath. What had he gotten himself into insisting on meeting her parents?!
He knew not the first thing about Muggles, despite having read a few more books on the subject… Actually talking to them….. and not letting some of his old prejudices slip…
“We could still…” he hesitated.
“You are not going to back down now!” Hermione’s eyes pierced him. “I’ve faced your father.. you can very well face mine!”
And so it happened that Draco was waiting for Hermione at a peaceful looking street. The houses were small, most of them were white, and the gardens well-tended. There were cars parked everywhere… Draco wondered what it would be like to sit in one… His father had never allowed it, even though the Ministry occasionally used them.
“Do your parents have a car?” he asked.
“Of course,” Hermione replied. “That silver one over there… that’s my dad’s and the blue one is my mum’s.”
“Two cars?” he wondered.
“Yes, so they can both go wherever they please… without having to wait for the bus…”
Draco had never been in a bus before either. The Knight Bus had been beneath them as well. Really anything even remotely Muggle related. And here he was… about to step into a whole new world.
“Ready?” Hermione asked, taking his arm as she rang the doorbell.
He nodded nervously. He wasn’t ready at all, but surely he never would be? It had to happen at one point or another…
Her parents answered the door and hugged their daughter but only shook Draco’s hand for which he was immensely grateful.
They sat together on the sofa with her parents in two comfy chairs opposite them.
“So you’ve known each other for a long time…” her mother began, her father gesturing at his wife that it was the wrong question.
Draco scraped his throat. “Yes, but it’s not until recently that we’ve become friends…”
“I thought it was more than friends…” her father asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, yes… we’ve been dating for a while now…” he said hesitantly.
“I took Hermione quite a while to bring Ron too…” her mother said the wrong thing again… “but then, there was a war going on… not that we noticed much of that…”
“Mum…!” Hermione hissed. “We weren’t going to talk about that, remember?!”
“I know we promised that, dear,” her father said a little sternly. “But for you to suddenly trust someone from the opposite side…. It sounds rather… dangerous…”
“I can look after myself.” Hermione said firmly.
“We know that…” her mother said soothingly, “but after everything you’ve told us about Voldemort… and his followers…” she peered at Draco when she said this, “and what they believe… So very different from the Weasleys who’ve always gone out of their way to make us feel comfortable….”
“I’m not having my granddaughter being taught such dangerous thinking…” her father stated boldly, a hint of steel in his voice.
“Draco?” Hermione asked, urging him to say something… anything.
“I… I.. realize that it must be confusing…. It has been rather disconcerting for me as well,” he said, swallowing hard.
“Look,” Hermione leant forward, “I’ve visited his parents about a week ago… and it went…” she hesitated, “better than expected…”
“Isn’t that the house where…?” her mother wondered. “Wasn’t she his… someone of your family?” she asked Draco directly.
“My aunt, yes,” he nodded. “She was the most extreme of us all…”
“To think that you visited that house… and those people…” her mother shuddered.
“Let’s get the tea, mum,” Hermione said whisking her to the kitchen. As there were no house elves nor servants, Hermione’s mother did everything herself with Hermione’s help. Therefore, Draco suddenly found himself alone with Hermione’s father.
“Look, son,” he said, “I don’t know what you are up to… but if you’re thinking of harming my daughter in any way… I may not be a Wizard myself, but I used to box in my youth, and I do have my share of Wizard friends…”
“I only want what is the best for her…” Draco stammered.
“And you really think you’re it?” he asked in return. “What do you know about raising children? About befriending normal people…? Can you really fill Ron’s shoes?”
Draco bowed his head. No, he would never be able to. For the longest time he’d thought he was better than Ron, so much better, but he knew now that wasn’t the case. He couldn’t change his childhood, his years of bullying others, his short time as a Death-Eater.
“Please…” he whispered. “I’ll do my very best, I promise…”
“It’s hard to trust someone like you… I cannot imagine why my daughter does… or even should. What I’ve heard of you and your family, even what we have witnessed ourselves…. I just…. I want Hermione to be safe!”
“Everything going well here?” Hermione peeked around the door. “Won’t be more than a minute…”
Draco sighed. Another minute? With this man…? In this room? He wouldn’t be able to stand it…
“I won’t let her be harmed, I swear…” he said, “besides, I think Hermione might be a better, more skilled, fighter than me…”
“Be that as it may…” her father replied. “I don’t want her to have to fight. She has fought for far too long already. I want her to have a simple, easy, and good life. Her and Rose…”
“But…” Draco summoned enough courage to speak his mind… “isn’t that up to her though? If she wants me… us… Shouldn’t that be her choice?”
“Of course,” her father grumbled. “Hermione’s always been her own person, since like…” he sighed. “Well, forever, really…”
Draco smiled. That was good news.
“Don’t take that as a blessing, though..” her father said sternly. “It’s merely an acknowledgment of the situation…”
Hermione and her mother re-entered the room with trays filled with teacups and some sandwiches.
“I’ve made a few of the salmon that you like so much…” her mother said to Hermione. “Which ones are your favourite?” she asked Draco. “We’ve also got cucumber and egg-salad..”
“Egg-salad, please,” he said.
Soon they were talking about their jobs. Since her father had given him his warning, he became more relaxed, asking Draco all kinds of questions about being a healer. It sounded like being a doctor, or even a little like being a dentist. Something Draco didn’t know much about at all.
All in all, it became a rather pleasant evening. Draco asked about cars and Hermione’s father described briefly how it worked but most of all how it felt.
“Men and speed…” her mother sighed. “Cars, or broomsticks, it’s always the same…”