Draco was welcomed into the gates of the manor by a group of elves, they were doing some sort of ritualistic tap dance and the female elves were singing something along the lines of 'master is back …lalala' . Draco laughed at their antics but they apparated away quickly when his aunt Bella came out of the huge manor doors to welcome him. His cousin Leo stood behind his mother with a tight smile on his face. "Welcome home darling", she chimed giving him a full kiss on his lips. Draco shuddered a little but smiled back at her, his cousin shook his hand and stood behind his mother again, like a soldier, a bodyguard.
"Where is mother", Draco enquired, it was surprising that Narcissa wasn't waiting outside for him, he knew she was eager to see him. "She decided she had much more important things to attend to", his aunt said menacingly. "After all you had more important people to meet before heading to see your own mother", she added.
"Mother will forgive me for this folly I am sure", he said as he walked into the manor, his aunt and cousin tailing behind him. He found his mother sitting on the couch with a book in her hand; she looked like she was resisting the urge to look up at him.
"Mother, I am here", he said in a soft tone, hoping to melt her heart.
"Bella ask who ever this is to leave, a son would never ignore his mother for anyone", she said haughtily.
"See I told you so", sang Bellatrix.
Molly Weasley who had come out to greet the younger Malfoy sensed Draco's discomfort and came forward to soothe him, she put a hand on his shoulder, urging him to say something to his mother, he nodded at her in acknowledgement but he had no idea what to do. Bellatrix muttered something under her breath but Draco couldn't make out what she said though Molly Weasley looked like she understood and stood back, folding her hands and looking down.
"I think I ll go then, seems like mother doesn't want me here", he said in a mock serious tone, and apparated away.
Narcissa, who had been looking into her book, stood up abruptly and dropped it. "Where did he go?", she said hysterically. "I was merely jesting, I would never want him to leave again", she said and tears welled up in her eyes.
"I won't ever leave you mother", Draco said as he apparated behind her. "Even I was merely jesting", he teased.
Narcissa turned around and hugged him tightly, "my baby, my boy, you look so big, is it really you", she spoke with frenzy.
"It is me mother", he said gently, placing two soft kisses on her knuckles as he held her hand.
"Now that you are here, I am never letting you go anywhere ever again", she said, teary eyed.
Mrs. Weasley looked like she would burst into tears while Bellatrix sat looking at her nails, her son standing still behind her armchair.
"Where is father", Draco asked in a clipped tone.
"…ummm he had an important meeting at the ministry", his mother spoke awkwardly. "He wanted to be here to welcome you", she added sheepishly.
"It's ok mother, you don't have to lie, he wasn't there to bid me farewell when I left so why would he be here when I return", Draco felt a bitter taste in his mouth.
"Narcissa why not let Draco freshen up, the elves are eager to serve his lunch, it's beyond elaborate", said Molly in an attempt to break the tension in the room. The elves had cooked up so many dishes that it was going to be a very complex lunch, she knew.
"Yes yes , of course, go on Draco, I ll see you at lunch", said Narcissa wiping a stray tear.
Draco hugged his mother one more time before disapparating . Narcissa slumped down on the couch and burst into tears, her emotions were running wild today, and Bellatrix just smirked with amusement letting out an exaggerated sigh. She decided to leave her sister alone as she had no patience for her weakness; she patted her son on the cheek, signaling him follow her wherever the hell she was heading off too.
Hermione Granger was confused and very frustrated. 'What do I wear?' The tiny voice in her head screamed. Her mother, Ginny and her aunt petunia looked at her like she had gone all barmy. Her curls had started to frizz out of frustration. "ohh , Hermione, stop being so over dramatic, wear something from last season, you have so many that you haven't worn yet", Ginny advised.
"wear something from muggle fashion", said her aunt, who was now sipping her tea, her back straight, she had the most perfect posture.
"I don't have any", she whined, which she rarely did.
"I have the perfect dress for you", her mother said timidly. "I am not sure if you should wear that today though", she said, in deep thought. "I would rather have you save it for some other special occasion."
"There is never going to be any other special occasion ever mother", snapped Hermione.
"is it the one I think it is", said her aunt looking at Jane and sipping her tea again.
"Yes the very one"
"Which one is that", asked Ginny with curiosity.
"I could write a book on how secretive you ladies are being about the dress- the mystery of the mysterious dress", said Hermione, contemplating if it would be a hit.
Lily , Jane and petunia were sisters, and petunia had moved into the neighborhood after she had been handed the responsibility of taking care of lily's son. Lily and her husband had been murdered in cold blood and only their son Harry had survived. Harry now worked with the ministry law enforcement. He had caught and killed off his parents' murderers within a year of joining office. He was very high up with the ministry.
"ohh it's the dress your mom wore the day your father fell for her", said petunia with a wave of her hand, ending the mystery.
"The same one lily wore to that ball where she had seduced James", laughed her mother and Ginny giggled.
"You will never do any such thing young lady, I know whom you have your sights upon", admonished petunia when she saw Ginny get all glassy eyed, who sat up straighter waking from her day dream.
"Please mother, let me wear that dress", begged Hermione.
"We could name it the true loves dress" added Ginny.
"Alright, alright, go ahead and wear it" said Jane reluctantly; the dress was magic she knew. She had found it in the theater a few years before she had actually worn it. It had belonged to someone before her and the moment she had laid eyes on it she knew it was special, she had asked and enquired but no one had seemed to know whom it belonged to. The day she wore it for a play she had had a nagging feeling that the dress was to be worn specially on that day, it had called out to her from the back of her cupboard. The dress had helped her connect with the love of her life. Even lily who had worn it for the ball had married the love of her life all thanks to the dress.
"Wear it if you must, but remember to be in your limits young lady, keep yourself intact for your wedding bed", reprimanded petunia, looking at Hermione sternly.
Hermione blushed, "I know aunty, I would never do anything to bring shame to our family", she said.
Aunt petunia was the eldest amongst the three sisters and so no one questioned her authority. Her tone was usually very crisp. She was like a strict grandmother they never had.
Jane brought the box the contained the dress and handed it over to Hermione who couldn't contain her excitement.
It was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen, it was the most beautiful shade of turquoise and made out of the sheerest of chiffons. It had full sleeves made of beautiful lace and a sweetheart neckline adorned with tiny turquoise stones decorating the lace the covered her around her neck and back. Its skirt was like water and it flowed with her every movement. She knew she looked exotic, like a sea princess.
"Do you think I should change my hair?" she asked Ginny, who was some sort of an expert hair stylist.
"Would you mind if I change its color", she asked. "It will go back to its normal shade within a few hours", she assured when Hermione looked skeptical.
"Sit back and relax, I am taking over now", said Ginny with a determination.
It was going to be a lavish affair. All the prominent figures from all over United Kingdom were invited. Narcissa had been planning this for months. Her precious sons' arrival back home was something she would never celebrate lightly. The best orchestra had been booked for the event and wine flowed like water. The elves were being assisted by the best chef in Europe and Molly Weasley was given an off so she could attend the party. The whole of Weasley clan were invited even though lucius would disapprove.
Hermione walked in with her mother who was proudly showing off her daughter to the wizarding population and receiving stares because of her unfamiliar style and beauty. Getting tired of her mother's gloating she decided to lose her mother and join Ginny and her siblings. Some of the guests were giving her weird looks because of her muggle attire but she chose to ignore them.
She hadn't seen him yet. The party was crowded and so it was too easy to get lost in it. Ginny's brother Ron sat with her with a shy smile on his face, the boy was an idiot she knew, always spluttering around, too clumsy for her taste. He had had a crush on her from ages but she'd never reciprocated his feelings. He was a good friend to her but nothing more. After a while of small talk he asked her to dance and she agreed. She very well knew she would regret the decision though.
Ron Weasley had two left feet but he managed to somehow not trip on Hermione or rip her floor length dress off with his foot. It was turning out to be a battle for him. He liked her, he wanted her.
Draco spotted her from afar, she had this aura around her that grabbed his attention the moment her entered the ball room. Amongst the dancing crowd he caught her in a moment. She was in the arms of a red head that looked like molly Weasley's youngest son. His Hermione managed to dance gracefully even with that buffoon. He could make out she was very beautiful even from afar, but something was different , she didn't look like Hermione , her hair was all wrong, it was strawberry blonde and not the rich chocolate that he knew. He stood at the top of the stairs observing her for moments too long. She then excused herself and left the ball room towards the balcony in a hurry, did she spot him?
She had seen him, he was looking at her, his pale blond hair a beacon. She blushed as soon as she realized that his eyes were on her and Ron misunderstood, he thought she blushed because he complemented on her new hair. Ron was receiving some jealous looks from men around him and seemed to have gained some confidence. He was starting to hold her more tightly than necessary. She needed to get out of this crowded room before she would melt with heat and excitement.
Draco couldn't help but follow her. What he didn't notice was Bellatrix nursing a glass of wine watching him and then whispering something into her son's ear.
He entered the balcony to find it devoid of human presence, had she fallen down the balcony in her excitement to escape him? He wondered. He went to the edge to scrutinize the grounds below and found a few candles floating below, forming a path. He apparated to the grounds and followed the candles, they seem to take him towards the lake. It had slipped his mind but he remembered now how she had loved the lake especially at night during moonrise when the moons reflection lit up the surface. He could make out she was sitting by the tree near the edge her back to him, he approached her softly and sat beside her only to find out she was fast asleep. Looking like a sea princess, her eyelashes fluttered in her sleep and her rosy lips were slightly parted. She glowed. He looked at the moon and then at her, "you were right", he whispered softly. "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen".
Her eye lids fluttered and she opened them, one of the candles had floated too close for comfort and he extinguished it with his fingers not caring if it burned him, all he saw was her and all he wanted to feel was her touch. She lifted her hand and touched his cheeks lightly, "Draco", she said as if she were in a dream.
"We are really here", she said with mild disbelieve.
"You doubted I would return", he said softly to her.
"You wrote me four letters in the past ten year," she complained.
"There were more, but I hardly think they would reach you", he said thinking about all those times he had sent his letters to her only to find his owl injured on return.
"It's no matter now, we are here, aren't we?" he smiled at her.
She smiled back with tears of joy in her eyes and he kissed her. His lips were soft on her, like a butterfly and she held her lips in a slight pout; he knew she had never been kissed before. Her eyes were shut and she kissed him back with slight pressure, her hands trembled slightly. The kiss lasted for maybe a second or more and she looked away with a deep blush staining her cheeks. "You kiss like a little girl Draco", she said as she stood up. Draco licked his lips and said "I am going to be doing more than kissing Hermione Granger, be ready", he drawled.
He stood up to catch hold of her and she pushed him down and ran, "you will have to catch me to do any of it ", she called as she ran in full speed, holding her sandals in her hand.
He ran behind her, watching her as she glided at the edge of the lake, her skirt flying with her, like something ethereal. He caught hold of her and she turned around to face him again, breathing hard, they failed to notice that she stood on a loose rock and it slid a little causing them to lose balance and plop in to the water. Both of them got completely drenched. "Going back to the party is out of the question" he said shivering slightly. "ohh no! my dress, mother will kill me", she cried. As she got out trying her best to make an estimate of the damage, apart from being wet it seemed alright.
"I must help you take it off then", he said silkily.
"Draco! ", she chided but she flushed at his words.
He couldn't resist her anymore, he grabbed her waist and held her, their foreheads touching and their breaths heavy, Draco then pulled her closer into a passionate kiss hesitating just for a moment, his lips moving with her , nipping at her plump bottom lip, using the slightest bit of tongue to entice her. She gave in to her temptation and kissed him back with enthusiasm, she knew this type of kissing was not at all proper but she couldn't help it. He was so perfect, her chest was pressed against him and she could feel herself tighten at his touch, his heat bringing out devilish images in her mind.
"Draco stop", she breathed as she felt him unfasten the ties on her back. This seems to bring him back to his senses and he stopped but kissed her on the lip once again like their first one.
"We should go inside, I ll drop you home", he said with a painful expression. He wanted more but now was not the time. Hermione agreed to head back home. They held hand as they walked the path hidden by trees that led to the main street. They crossed the street silently and Hermione couldn't help but glance at the way he held her hand, possessively.
"I ll see you tomorrow?", she asked him as they reached her back door.
"I suppose, if you promise to bring me Jane's famous apple pies", he said.
"You must try mine, I learned to bake when you left", she informed.
"Do you wish to poison me", he jested.
"No Draco, trust me they are delicious", she smacked him lightly on his shoulder. "Father loves them" , she added to convince him.
"No wonder he rarely lives here", he said with amusement.
"Fine, I won't be coming tomorrow, I ll send mother with her pies." She said angrily.
He laughed at her and then apologized. "If you don't come tomorrow and lay your claim on me, mother will start looking for a bride." He threatened.
Hermione gasped, "would you let her do such a thing."
"no, my love, unless I get to taste your delicious pies", he said flirtatiously.
Hermione flushed scarlet, what was he trying to do? Melt her into a puddle.
"Bye Draco", she said trying to close the door at him.
"By the way darling, I prefer brunettes", he remarked as he stalked off and at that very moment Hermione strawberry blonde tresses turned back into her heavy chocolate curls and fell on her shoulder with a bounce. That night she hugged her pillow and slept with a giddy smile on her face, longing for the pillow to be the beautiful blonde man from across the street.
"Where has Draco been all this time", roared lucius angrily in the privacy of his study at Narcissa who jumped a little at being addressed. The party was in full swing outside but he had called his wife for a word and her sister had followed.
"He must be around getting to know his old friends", Narcissa stuttered.
"or he must be getting to know just one old friend", remarked Bellatrix sarcastically ignoring the severe look Narcissa was giving her.
"lucius, I had always told you the dangers of letting the boy play with filth", she said in an irritatingly sing song voice. "Narcissa was always too gentle with that little girl, who is now no longer little", she added with an evil glint in her eyes.
"Draco would never do anything to disgrace us", defended Narcissa. She hated it when her sister spoke badly of Draco in front of lucius who already treated their son like he belonged to another.
"Let the boy play in mud, but remind him of his duties to the family", lucius said menacingly to Narcissa who shivered slightly at his voice.
"I will speak to him, when the time comes, I cannot ask him to stop talking to his childhood friends just because Bella suspects something", she cried.
"I do more than suspect sister, I am sure", she whispered into her ear in a mock childish voice, creeping her out, she knew her sister was a little touched in the head.
"We must return to the party, everyone must be wondering where we are", said lucius and stalked off with his black robes bellowing behind him.
Narcissa followed him and to her relief found Draco talking to one of the pureblood debutantes at the party. She knew her son; he would never do anything to hurt their reputation. She smiled lovingly at him and then carried on to socialize with her friends. Leo stood in the shadows listening to every word that Draco said.