Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 35

“Draco?” Hermione bit her lip nervously. Draco’s long limbs were splayed over her couch as he was watching his first cooking show ever.

“It is like potion making, isn’t it…” he mumbled. “Two of this and so many grams of that…”

“Draco?” she tried again, but as he was glued to the TV she gave up. The discussion about him having secrets would have to wait… Hermione was glad for the respite, although she knew it wouldn’t last.

She snuggled up to him and smiled at his concentrated face. “You don’t have to memorize it… you know…” she whispered smilingly.

“I’m trying to…” he said, with his brow furrowed. “I want to make something special for tomorrow night…”

Hermione had invited Harry and Ginny over for a little dinner party. They had reluctantly agreed. It would be awkward, Hermione knew beforehand, as it was bound to bring recollections of their many dinners with Ron.

She stroke his hair. “You’re quite sweet, aren’t you? If you want to?”

Draco smirked as he rolled his eyes. “ No-one ever called me sweet before… Not sure I like it,” he grumbled.

“So long as no-one hears… I can keep a secret,” Hermione whispered into his ears.

“What do you think I should make?” he continued. “It can’t be too difficult. I’m still getting the hang of it…”

“Harry and Ginny’s palates aren’t all that sophisticated..” Hermione giggled. “As long as it’s hearty and tasteful, you’ll be fine…”

“So chicken rather than duck…” Draco gathered. “I see…”

“Just that you’re making it yourself is a pretty big thing, I think,” she replied. “Not your horde of house-elves…. Speaking of those…” she began.

“I’m not freeing our elves…” Draco said sternly.

“But what if I consider it a deal breaker?” Hermione said with narrowed eyes. “I work for their cause… It has been my passion, even in school…”

“By all means, pay them… Give them food, gifts, whatever…. As long as they aren’t clothes… They live to serve…”

Hermione huffed. “I didn’t buy that crap when Ron said it and they didn’t even have house-elves…”

Draco sighed. “Let’s please not have that discussion now… We should focus on tomorrow evening… How we’ll survive through it…”

“If I would… hmm… move into Malfoy Manor, the house-elves…. Well… Their lives would definitely change…”

“Saint Hermione…. Savior of elves and centaurs alike… Usually depicted with a horse-tail in one hand and elf-sized clothing in the other…. Her icons are mainly recognizable for her bushy hair however, hiding most of her face…. Evil mouths claim this is the case because her face is hideous, but those who are familiar with the story know better…” he imitated a tour guide as Hermione hit him indignantly on the shoulder.

“Hush… shush…” she muttered, still pounding his shoulder. “It’s not funny…”

“Don’t you want to know what her hair is hiding?” he asked in a mock surprised voice…

“No…” she said stubbornly, as Draco, equally stubborn, continued: “Her hair functions like a veil, so that only those that are allowed to, get to see her lovely, magnificent, and radiant face…”

He leaned in for a kiss, as she said ”good save.”

The following evening Draco was quite nervous. He had been responsible for the salmon and the seasoned baked potatoes, whereas Hermione had made a Greek salad with olives and feta. For dessert, they had store bought crème brûlée. Hermione was pleased with the result, Draco not so much…

“Are you sure this is good enough?” he wondered. “It’s not up to my usual standards…”

“Oh, you mean those home-made brûlées with tiny figures in the caramel? Made by house-elves? Those ones?” she bickered.

Draco sighed. “Well, yes, actually. I guess I’m used to that… Don’t know how they do it though… Cooking is hard!”

Hermione smiled. At least he appreciated them more now that he knew what went into it…

“That will be them,” she said as the heard the sound of the Floo.

“Yes…” Draco muttered.

“So lovely to see you again…” Hermione had hugged both Harry and Ginny before Draco could even grumble “Potter.”

“Tell me how you’ve been, Harry. No more headaches?” Hermione asked anxiously, while Ginny and Draco stared at each other.

This was going to be a long night, Draco thought, as he pulled out Ginny’s chair and gestured that she could sit down. Ginny giggled as Harry scowled. He’d already settled down in his chair.

“This isn’t a restaurant,” he said.

“Manners, Potter,” Draco retorted. “No-one taught you?”

“Draco…” Hermione hissed. “Let it go..”

“There’s more to being respectable than just etiquette…” Harry retorted. He was in a foul mood. The escape of the Jennings sons had been hard on him and he had had to write several reports and answer questions regarding their escape.

“Boys…” Ginny now said, rather sternly. Hermione laughed at her serious face… It worked though, as both Harry and Draco began to act more civil.

“It’s my Quidditch face,” Ginny whispered to Hermione. “It works like a charm every time…”

“Either that, or being called boys…” Hermione replied. “Won’t like that either…”

Quidditch soon became the subject of the conversation. A very safe subject since three of them really enjoyed it…. Hermione had to suppress a yawn at the description of the umpteenth fantastic Seeker move but was glad there was no more arguing.

George’s coming engagement was a less safe subject, though admittedly more intriguing. Draco listened wide-eyed to Ginny’s recollection of Mrs. Weasly’s arguments against Medusa.

“To be fair though…. she didn’t like Fleur much either…” Hermione said.

“Phlegm,” Ginny giggled. “That’s true…”

“Sounds like a protective mother to me…” Draco said.

“Much like your own…” Hermione agreed, grabbing his hand briefly, squeezing it.

“How does your mother take it?” Harry asked curiously. He couldn’t imagine Narcissa Malfoy being too thrilled with her son’s choice of partner.

“She is slowly getting used to it… Not particularly pleased but not outright hostile either… Unlike..”

“My parents?” Ginny said angrily.

“I meant father…” Draco corrected her. “He asked to speak to Hermione… Telling her lies, I imagine…”

“He wanted to bribe me with money.” Hermione told her listening friends. “Wondered if that would make me disappear…”

“He hadn’t encountered your stubbornness before, I take it?” Harry laughed. “Bribes don’t really work on you…”

“It was pretty unpleasant but nothing I didn’t expect,” she lied. Hermione wished to end this particular conversation; it was far to painful to consider the possibility of Lucius being right about Draco hiding things from her.

“Parents…” Ginny sighed heavily as Harry glared at her. “Just as much trouble as they say their children are…”

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