Narcissa couldn't get his words out of her head. I love her; live with it. He'd never sounded so defiant or so sure of himself. The grey eyes he'd inherited from her had been like hematite, sparkling in the sun, the brightest thing in the dark and coldly austere foyer, where she and his father had confronted him.
Lucius had blustered and threatened to disown, then returned to his claret. Draco had snorted, knowing that she had assumed control of the family's business interests and personal finances, when Lucius had been briefly arrested after the fall of Voldemort.
It was she who had launched the campaign to redefine her family as repentant purists, now willing to embrace wizards and witches of any blood status. Her goal was to preserve her son's legacy. She had such high hopes for him. He was smart and handsome, commanding and enterprising.
She'd begun to think of women he might marry, but the celebrated Mu...gle-born brains behind Harry Potter's success against the Dark Lord hadn't occurred to her, though she obviously had to Draco. I love her; live with it.
Hermione had shocked her parents by Apparating directly into their presence. She'd always respected their wishes to refrain from using magic in their home. But she'd stood before them and announced, "I'm a witch; I need my magic, and I want Draco Malfoy. I hope you can accept that because my mind is firmly set."
Thomas Granger had had a moment of déjà vu, remembering his great-grandmother standing before the family, surprisingly strong, announcing that she was going away by herself. "My mind is firmly set," she'd said.
Nine year-old Tommy had cried. He loved his Nanny Jean, who talked to him as no one else did—about alchemy, temporal flexibility, the power of individual will and concentration. She'd sat him next to her and explained, "I don't like being old in the Muggle world. I'm a witch; I need my magic, but you'll always be my favorite Muggle, Tommy G."
He never saw her again.
Thomas thought of her as he listened to her namesake, with the same quirky mouth and understanding of metaphysical concepts, explain that the wizarding community was inherently more dangerous and actions more extreme than in Muggle life. It was something Hogwarts and her time with Harry and Ron had prepared her for, and she was ready for it...and him.
"You're my favorite Muggles in the world," Hermione said, signifying the shifting of power that usually occurred much later between parent and child. "I want you to give him another chance."
He sighed. Nanny Jean would be very proud of her.
Thomas and Narcissa had absolutely no connection, until the day after their children's declarations, when they both decided to follow them.
So the next morning, after Draco thought he had sneaked out, she did an Accio charm to take her to the same location. She stood behind a tree while he went to the front door and knocked. She saw the young woman answer and watched their amorous greeting. Hermione pulled him into the house. Narcissa waited impatiently.
"Good morning, Dr. Granger," Draco said, holding out his hand. "I appreciate your agreeing to my seeing Hermione again." (The word agreeing was strategic, because allowing wasn't a consideration, since Hermione had made it clear to her parents that she would see Draco, whether they agreed or not, and they knew they couldn't do a damn thing about it.)
Thomas shook the proffered hand. "Well, I've been reminded again that my daughter is very special." Draco turned to her, standing beside him, and smiled. "You understand that our only concern is her protection."
"Of course," Draco said. "That's my concern as well, along with her happiness and fulfillment."
"All of which I can manage myself," she said, kissing her father on the cheek and pushing Draco toward the door. "'Bye, Dad. I love you."
Thomas stood in the middle of the sunny and tidy living room and sighed.
"Where was your mother?" Narcissa heard Draco ask as they came out of the house and began strolling down the sidewalk.
"She had to open their office early," Hermione explained. "A footballer lost a tooth." Draco laughed and threw his arm around her.
Narcissa tailed them, observing her son's spritely gait and the sound of eagerness in the girl's voice.
Thomas left the house and got in his car. As he began the drive, he noticed a tall, blonde woman wearing a black robe, occasionally darting behind a tree or bush, as she walked purposefully. She obviously didn't realize how much she stood out. Thomas saw the couple, the apparent object of her attention, far ahead.
He parked the car and walked up to her with a shy smile. "Mrs. Malfoy?"
She turned around, instinctively grasping her wand more firmly.
"I'm Thomas Granger, Hermione's father," he said, taken aback by her beauty and honoring her with a slight bow. "I believe we should talk."
The sheltered Narcissa was naturally a little nervous being approached by someone on her first foray to the Muggle world, but she liked the look and voice of this man. They were just about the same height. He had curling, sandy brown hair, clear eyes and upturned corners on his lips that suggested a pleasant disposition.
"Of course, Mr. Granger," she said, allowing him to usher her to his spacious sedan.
"I thought we'd be more comfortable here," Thomas explained, as he turned on the ignition to activate the heater. "It's cold this morning." Narcissa gasped at the mechanical operation.
"It's all right," he assured her. "It's just to keep you warm." The slight breeze of heat that emanated from the vent felt good and she began to relax, holding her hand in front of it.
He smirked at her enjoyment of something so mundane, then realized he was enjoying watching her flutter her long, slim fingers against the warmth. He shifted in his seat. "I have to ask. Does your family have any malicious intentions toward my daughter?"
She turned toward him. "No. I'm a bit embarrassed that you feel it necessary to pose such a question."
"Well, there is history," he pointed out.
"My sister is dead," she told him, "and my husband is..." she dropped her eyes, "...no longer threatening. As for me," she continued, "I saw how happy my son is with your daughter. That is all I care about. She's an impressive young woman."
"Thank you," he said with a dentist's smile, inclining slightly toward her.
Narcissa gripped her leg and felt her heart beat faster, incredulous that she seemed to be attracted to a Muggle. "I heard Hermione tell Draco that your wife had to care for a toeball that broke a tooth? What does that mean?"
His shoulders shook with his good-natured laugh. She smiled in response. "It was a football player, a goalie, who was hit in the face by a ball. From what Hermione has told us, that's similar to a Keeper in your quidditch game."
She tittered. "I've never been one for sports, but my husband was a Seeker and Draco carried on the family tradition. Of course, he's much better at it," she said, her face glowing, as she spoke of her son.
"You're very proud of him, aren't you?" Thomas watched as her smoky eyes dampened.
"We haven't always done the right thing for our son, Mr. Granger—"
"—Thomas," he interjected.
"Thomas," she continued. "But, on his own, without negative influences, he's a fine boy."
"I'm sure that's true, Mrs. Malfoy..."
He smiled in acknowledgement.
"Cissy, if you'd like."
"I like Narcissa," Tom said, still smiling.
She turned away slightly to hide her blush at forty.
"As I was saying, Narcissa," he continued, clearing his throat and turning to face the windshield, "I've seen glimmers of Draco being a fine, young man, who makes very wise choices."
"...such as your daughter."
Their bodies, warm in the heated vehicle, released the smell of her perfume and his aftershave, mixing to create an intoxicating scent.
She breathed it in, then reluctantly out. "I should be going," she said, placing her hand on the door handle.
"If you're going to Disapparate," Tom said, pleased with himself that he got the word right, "you might want to do it from inside here. Most people aren't dressed like you."
She looked at him curiously.
"Not everyone can pull it off so well," he added.
She smiled again. "It's been a pleasure to speak to you, Thomas." She held out her hand.
He took it, though more in a hold, than a shake. "I'll tell my wife that meeting you has eased my concerns about Draco, but I won't mention how lovely you are."
Yes, blushing at forty!
"What will you tell your husband about our conversation?"
"I think...nothing," she answered. "I'll just add it to the secrets I'm keeping from him. Good-bye, Thomas." And she was gone.
"Good-bye, Narcissa," he said too late. He sat in the car until it issued the warning sound that he was low on fuel, thinking of his grandmother's and Hermione's words, with which he was sure the Malfoy woman would concur—I need my magic.
Glancing at the red light on the dashboard, an example of Muggle technology, he said aloud, "Magic comes in many forms."