His man cave couldn't hold him or his restlessness after the conversation with Draco. They'd said a lot, but the thing that stayed with him was that Narcissa Malfoy might have been attracted to him.
He wandered the house after the young man and his daughter had left and his wife had gone shopping.
He missed her so much. Standing in front of the fireplace, his hands on the mahogany mantel, Thomas Granger wondered, Who? Who did he miss? Was it just Hermione? No. "I miss...Monica."
When Hermione had Obliviated her parents, the history she'd created for them was that they'd met at a dentists' conference five years before and had fallen hopelessly in love. They'd moved to Australia and lived like newly-weds, consumed with each other. Monica had been carefree and merry, uninhibited and crazy about Wendell.
After Thomas and Meredith regained their memories, she'd reverted to her original self. It was from her that Hermione inherited her enormous drive and concern for perfection. Her sharp edges were softened by the great compassion that was her father's legacy, but Meredith had no such buffering.
She'd become even more obsessed with their practice and had even less time for the kind of romance they'd had in Australia. Thomas had tried repeatedly to recapture that feeling with her, but the only thing about which Meredith had any satisfaction was the comfortable, undemanding relationship with her spouse.
With a sigh his eyes wandered from the family portrait of the three of them that hung over the mantel to the small wooden box at his right hand, where Hermione kept her Floo Powder.
He raised the cover and let the granules sift through his fingers, remembering Draco's words that his mother was dissatisfied (What woman wasn't, Thomas thought) and could use some tenderness. God knew he had it stored to give to someone.
He grasped some of the powder and with a self-conscious laugh, stepped into the fireplace. They made it look so easy—throw down the powder and say their destination and disappear. Magic made everything look easy, even love.
"What if I could do that," he said aloud. "What if I could just drop this powder and say 'Malfoy Manor' and..."
He suddenly felt disoriented, with spinnig head and a stomach turning violently, as he seemed to lose sight of his surroundings and speed through space. He found himself standing in what appeared to be a much larger firebox, staring at darker and more ornate furnishings. Had he been dreaming? Would he awake to find himself in his favorite recliner, with the television remote in his hand?
A figure wearing a black robe came into the room and stopped at sight of him. "Thomas!"
If this was a dream, he was determined to make the most of it. "Narcissa," he said huskily, stepping out of the fireplace and hurrying over to her.
She stared at him with nervous trembling.
"How am I here?" he asked, returning her intense gaze.
She stammered. "I, umm, I changed the wards so that if you tried to come, you wouldn't be hurt."
"Did you put a spell on me?" He held his arms stiffly at his sides to prevent himself from touching her.
She gave him a shy smile and shook her head. "I just felt the attraction between us and was afraid you might try."
"Mutual attraction?" Thomas asked for confirmation.
"Cissy," came the voice of Lucius Malfoy from his study, three rooms back in the massive residence.
Narcissa turned her head in that direction. "I'm going to send you upstairs," she whispered. "I'll be there soon."
Thomas's reserves reached their breaking point. He gathered the beautiful woman in his arms and kissed her. "Hurry."
She nodded and waved her wand in front of him. "Coming, Lucius," she called, as Thomas disappeared.
She smoothed her blonde hair and scurried to the study, her stiletto heels clicking on the marble floors.
Lucius sat at his desk in front of the multi-paned window, which was flanked by dark green drapes. His wine glass and decanter were tipped over and blood red liquid stained the papers on his desk.
"Oh, Lucius," said his long-suffering wife, hurrying forward with her wand to Scourgify and salvage the documents.
"It's not my fault," said Malfoy, carrying his glass across the room to refill it from the bar. "If I had my wand, it wouldn't have happened."
"Your new wand is on order, dear," said Narcissa, picking up the cut glass decanter, then transporting it to the kitchen. "As I've explained to you before, you aren't the only wizard who lost his wand last summer."
Lucius was still sensitive to references to the Dark Lord and his contemptuous attitude toward the Malfoy family in his last incarnation.
He pushed a lock of his silver-blond hair behind his ear. "Draco already has a new wand," he said with a pout.
"Draco needed a wand for school. And he didn't have as many specifications for his as you did," Narcissa reminded him.
Lucius sat back at his desk with a "hmph".
Narcissa, still organizing the work surface, turned her head to smile at her husband. "It will be here soon. I spoke to Young Gregorovitch earlier today."
He laid a heavy hand over her rear. "You're a good woman."
She flinched at his touch. She'd managed to avoid physical contact with him for some time and now Thomas, a man who didn't reek of alcohol, was waiting upstairs.
Suddenly she was in Lucius's lap. "Ahh, Cissy, it's been so long," he said throatily.
"It's not a good time, Lucius," she said with a consolation kiss on his cheek. "I have too much to do right now. You sit here and work on your memoirs and I'll see you at dinner. She levitated the wine bottle to him and inched her way off his lap.
Lucius poured more into his glass, while his wife sped upstairs. "I'll get my wand. Then I'll take care of that know-it-all little Mudblood, myself."
In the room to which Narcissa had sent him, Thomas looked around with curiosity.
It appeared to be a woman's sitting room, with a plushly-cushioned daybed in front of a window and a table set for tea in the middle of the room. Glassed-in curio cabinets stretched the walls. It was still decorated in Slytherin colors, with emphasis on the silver, rather than dark green.
Thomas wandered over to one of the cases and looked at the collection of items. He randomly picked up a book and opened it to see lists of names under headings like Good Deed, Unfortunate Accident and Must Die. There were no entries under the last category. He breathed a sigh of relief after scanning the negative action pages and not seeing Hermione's name, nor that of any of her friends.
At that moment Narcissa came in the door. "Sorry to keep you waiting," she said breathlessly, her smile and light tread stopping when she saw his eyebrows knit in a troubled expression.
"Narcissa, what is this?"
She crossed her arms defensively. "You didn't seem like the type to snoop, Thomas."
"I don't consider it snooping if something is out in the open," he responded, indicating the exposed shelves.
"Alright, fine," she answered, stomping over to him. "This is an itinerary book for witches. This," she continued, picking up another item, "is a quill pen that uses the blood of the writer as ink. This is a necklace that can put someone in a coma, this..."
"Enough," Thomas said sadly, walking to the window and looking out. "You use these things?"
"Some of them," she answered quietly. "Do I not seem so lovely now?"
He turned back around to look at her. "You're a beautiful woman, Narcissa, but your familiarity with this..."
"I understand. You're a good Muggle and I'm a witch who has practiced dark magic. Never the twain shall meet."
He sighed heavily. "Does Draco practice..."
"We were in a war, Thomas. Draco was a soldier. But he never willingly hurt anyone."
She moved to stand in front of the fireplace. "He loves your daughter; he's willing to change for her." After a moment of silence she continued. "You have to leave by Floo. Step into the fireplace."
He moved to it reluctantly.
"Here, give this to your wife," she said, pressing a ring into his hand. "It gives the wearer a feeling of relaxation and loosens inhibitions."
"Do you read minds?" he asked with a questioning lift of an eyebrow.
"No," she assured him, with a demure dip of her head. "But I know men. You wouldn't have been drawn to me if you weren't deeply dissatisfied and hadn't already tried everything you could. And, frankly, I'll be glad to be rid of this particular piece."
Thomas thought again of the conversation with the woman's son about what association with the Death Eaters had been like for her. He held out his arms but she said quickly, "Now that you've passed through the wards here, I can block you individually, so that you'll be denied access without injury. Goodbye, Thomas."
He gave a tight nod in acceptance and Narcissa tossed a handful of green powder into the firebox. The good Muggle disappeared.
She sighed and reclined on the daybed, her unexpected tears streaking the platinum-colored satin upholstery. He'd stirred things in her that she'd allowed to lie dormant for too long. If not with Thomas, she realized, then maybe a wizard, anyone but Lucius, and soon.