I CANNOT believe we are at the end! ::lots of crying emojis::
Thank you so much for following along with me on this story. I've wanted to tackle an animagus piece for so long and I had so much fun with it. I hope you have enjoyed it, that the end is satisfying, and would love to hear from you in a review if you are so inclined.
One last outpouring of love for LightofEvolution, the SPaG Beta champion that makes me better every time, In Dreams, forever strong and true alpha who keeps me on target and encourages my progress, and Mcal, professional support team of one who smothers my doubt in pure love.
And, forever, thank you for reading. Whether this was my first story you have followed or if you've been with me for years, I appreciate you rationing me a piece of your fandom time.
Granger is wringing her hands, eyes darting around the smattering of Muggle pedestrians on the streets. Draco reaches over and separates her twined fingers with his own, taking one of her hands into each of his. "It will be fine," he assures her for the thousandth time. "We don't have to say anything you aren't comfortable with. This can just be an initial meeting if you want."
She nods, but Draco can tell she's hardly hearing the words.
Despite the stress currently weighing on Hermione, and Draco by sympathetic proxy, it's been a beautiful, idyllic six months since Draco outed himself as Benedick.
As they speak, George Weasley is holding down the proverbial fort in the Technologies division of Malfoy industries, working with Natalie to roll out the Wizarding equivalent of a cellular phone. Of course, magic being innately a bit flashy, a small plastic box just wouldn't do. Instead, witches and wizards will carry a small glass sphere with them, swirled with color and imbued with charms and even blood magicks. A bit like a portable Floo, when you call out the name of your intended recipient, provided they also have one of these virtual marbles, an image of their face will glow just above the small bit of glass. Granger calls the visual something like a hologram, but Draco doesn't know what that means.
Lucius Malfoy is not entirely pleased by the level of Muggle influence but is rather happy with the steady rise of the Malfoy Gringotts vault. Regardless that it does him little good directly, still confined to the Manor as he is, he seems to like that Narcissa can treat herself. Though stoic, as is his nature, Draco can tell that the man is proud of the steps the company has made, and Draco is choosing to take that as pride in his son as well.
It might even be true.
The Malfoy family dynamic is far from perfect, Draco hardly the dutiful son nor Lucius the quintessential father, but civility has ruled the Manor. Hermione has even attended formal dinners on a handful of occasions. No one has poisoned her yet, and Lucius seemed quite taken with the gift she brought him: a miniature replication of a Viking ship. As Narcissa tells it, he has made her charm the paint in new colors at least five times so that he might move it about the Manor in search of the perfect place to present it.
Now, walking down Lake Street in Perth, Draco is trying very hard to be the confident one, to be the support he always leans on Hermione to receive. His witch has been with him, a harbor in his tempestuous life. She has held his hand as he found his way to some semblance of family and as he sought to find a purpose in a purposeless post-war life. He wants badly to repay the favour and hopes he has not grossly miscalculated the reactions of Mister and Missus Wendell Wilkins, respectively.
The location to which all their preparation has led is a rather charming home with a fresh white exterior and meticulously kept garden. As they approach, Hermione slows her step, eyes focused on a woman that could only be her mother.
Monica Wilkins née Jean Granger looks up from where she is manicuring foliage, squinting at them as the sun is at their back. "Good afternoon," she calls, shielding her eyes with her palm. "Can I help you?"
Draco feels Hermione falter beside him, and, indeed, she has paused in step. He comes to her rescue, as she would for him without thought. Today, he will be the brave one, bold and sure.
"Good afternoon. Missus Wilkins, is it?" She nods, affirming as to her identity, and he goes on. "We've come from London in regards to your property there. Would you and your husband be able to speak with us?"
"Property?" She wrinkles her brow, considering. "I thought we sold… No, I'm positive." She confirms it as if she's sure, but Draco can tell confusion is clouding her thoughts, the Obliviation Spell stretching thin to accommodate what she knows. "We sold the house. Used that to fund this place." She gestures vaguely to the home behind her.
"The property in Hampstead is still there and technically in your name, but that's where it's a bit confusing. If it's no trouble, perhaps we could go over some papers with you?" Draco lifts the leather satchel in his hand, indicating that housed within will be answers to all of her questions.
Jean looks between the two of them, assessing and slightly cautious. He doesn't blame her one bit. "If you wouldn't mind waiting here a moment?"
With a charming smile learned at his mother's formal teas, he nods. "Of course. We appreciate your time and would also be happy to schedule another day."
Throwing them one last suspicious look, she disappears inside the house, leaving Draco and Hermione (who is once again fidgeting).
"She looks wonderful," he hears her say, a little wistful. He can't argue. The woman looks happy and relaxed, tanned and working in her garden without a care.
"You gave them this, Granger," he tells her. "No matter what happens, you gave them the best life you could: safe and happy." He slides his free arm around her waist and pulls her close, dropping a kiss to her temple as she leans into him.
"Is this the right thing? Maybe… Perhaps it would be best to leave. Tell them there was a mistake and just… let them be happy." She sniffles, and he pulls back to look at her.
"They got a dog, remember?" he says with a grin. On cue, a muffled bark is heard within the house. "There's something missing here, they just don't know what. It doesn't have to be on you to decide if they want it back. Let them have that agency."
Hermione nods, looking down at her feet. He pulls her back into a one armed embrace and huffs against her curls. "Ridiculous witch… They're going to love you."
"I've missed them so much," she whispers.
He knows she has. Draco has watched her mourn them for months, alive though they were. He won't let her miss this chance; he loves her too much to let it slip by another day.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch your names?" They look up to find Jean and now her husband staring at them from just outside the threshold of the door.
Draco pulls away from Hermione, leaving his hand, reassuring, on the small of her back. "Apologies, Missus Wilkins. My name is Draco Malfoy, Wiltshire. My companion is Miss Hermione Granger.'
"Hermione," her father muses at that. "Quite a rare name. Did your parents fancy Shakespeare? Or were they more mythological scholars?"
With a cautious smile, she offers, "It's a family name."
His eyebrow raises. "Rare indeed. It was my grandmother's name as well. Perhaps we have common lineage somewhere in our distant past," he muses, trailing off in thought. "Well, can't have you standing out here, can we? Come in, and we can speak further about this property."
Hermione gives Draco a look to which he tries to respond with encouragement, a smile full of positive thoughts, and they follow the pair into their home. Draco notes it to be well decorated, original artworks on the walls and antique furnishings strategically placed in each room.
They are led to a parlour just beyond the dining room and offered a seat in matching low-backed yet comfortable chairs. They discussed it before they came, and Draco is letting Hermione take the lead as much as she is comfortable. He crosses his leg over his knee and settles back into the cushioned seat. His witch clears her throat to speak.
"Thank you for inviting us to speak with you. Your home is lovely."
"Thank you," Missus Wilkins says, but she still appears slightly withdrawn. Between the two, she seems the least trusting.
Too busy watching her parents for cues, waiting for reactions, he misses the tears forming in Hermione's eyes.
"Young lady, are you quite alright?" Her father seems concerned, and it only makes her cry harder, sobbing in earnest. Draco reaches for her hand, pulling her towards him.
"I'm sorry," she mumbles into her hands. "I just need a moment; I'm so sorry. I've missed you both so much."
A fresh wave of tears fall, and her parents exchange a concerned look.
"Have we… met, dear?" The woman seems unsure, brow furrowing. "I must apologize, I just can't place you…"
Every word uttered seems to reignite Hermione's tears. Draco hesitates to step in, having promised he would allow the family to come together on their own, but he feels rather obligated to throw that plan out and improvise.
"I'm afraid we have not been completely honest with you. We are from England, that much is true, and your home is still there in your name, but what we actually need to tell you is that you know Hermione very well. Due to an event you could not control, you have lost portions of your memory, her included."
Draco looks over at Hermione for confirmation as she sniffles and tries to control her breathing. At her nod, Draco looks to Jean Granger to continue.
"Miss Wilkins, in actual fact, your name is Jean Granger. I am aware you cannot remember that, but there are documents that would show you the truth of it. I have copies of some here." He gestures again to his bag. "And you, sir," he looks to Hermione's father, "your name is Frank Granger. You both practiced teeth healing in Belsize Park."
He recognizes his mistake immediately when Jean mutters, "teeth healing?"
"Excuse me, that is to say, you were dentists."
"We are dentists. We moved our practice ages ago," Frank counters, too baffled to comment on the meat of the message, only the details.
Hermione finds her voice, clinging to Draco's hand as she speaks. "I'm so very sorry I haven't been able to bring you back," she tells them. "The truth is, you don't remember who you are, or who I am, but… you're my parents."
The tension has stretched to breaking point, Draco concerned that they might be asked to leave, before Jean laughs heartily. "Young lady, that's the most ridiculous thing… I appreciate a good lark, but you can't expect me to believe any of this?"
Her laughs tapers off since no one joins her.
Hermione reaches for the satchel at Draco's feet and extracts a folder stuffed full of parchments. "This is a copy of my birth certificate as well as the documents for the Hampstead house." She hands them over, her mother taking them with trepidation back on her face. "You can see the name of the owners since 1978 reads Francis and Jean Granger. That's you…"
Jean hands the document to her husband, bewildered but listening.
Hermione continues to pass papers and documents over, rapid fire. "These are your passports from a few years ago. You can see your names, the Grangers, just there." She hands Frank a slim frame that contains an aged photo of a younger man. "This used to hang at your practice. The photo was from your last day at university." Next is a large photograph from a wedding that features a young Hermione in a frilly gown scowling up at Jean Granger. "That was from-"
"Archie's wedding," her mother supplies, then immediately isn't sure what to do with the words she's just spoken. "Archie… Well, I haven't thought of him in years." Her face is starting to look haunted, the more she sees.
Frank takes the photo from her hand, studies it, then looks back up to Hermione. "The girl?"
She nods, replying softly, "That's me. I hated that dress, but you promised me a book if I would wear it. Black Beauty… I still have the copy at the Hampstead house."
She continues, almost rushing now, as if this is painful, ripping a plaster from a wound. Schooling certificates, family photographs, and various legal documents; all with either a photograph of one or more of the Grangers or their names in print; all associated with memories they still hold, corrupted though they are.
When she is finished, the satchel empty and Granger looking equally drained, she sets it aside and grips Draco's hand tightly, watching her parents with wary anticipation as they continue to sift and flip through all the contents spilled between them.
"Photographs are easy enough to doctor," her father says, but it's half hearted, even Draco can tell.
"Government documents, not as much," Hermione counters in a small voice. She sounds terrified, and Draco pulls her close, his arm around her shoulder and her hand held tightly in his.
"How could we…" Jean sounds incredulous, taking in all of the information spread on the sofa and low table beside her, then looks up and asks, "How could we forget our child?"
He knows that will be the moment. Draco closes his eyes tight, positive his witch will break. She takes a shaky breath beside him but somehow holds it together enough to say, "There's so much more I can show you if you can believe at least this much."
They all stare at each other, Draco feeling a bit like an intruder on the moment. It was wizards like him that made all this happen. Hermione wanted him here, she had said, but he never felt like he had the right. He came for her, because she asked him to, but he wishes she had someone better right now.
"She looks like you, Monica," Frank finally says to his wife, suspicious but awed, and that is when Hermione fully breaks.
She's quite embarrassed about it, really. Hermione had blubbered like a child, burying his face in Draco's shirt, he petting her and holding her all the while.
Eventually, as the tears had tapered off, the Wilkins had offered her use of the loo, and she had gratefully accepted.
"Don't mind Thor," her father had said of the sudden bark from the back of the house. "He's only excited because he knows someone is here."
Now, she is staring at herself in the mirror, lamenting the blotchy quality of her skin and redness of her eyes. She fluffs at her hair, but that's a lost cause as well. With a sigh, she returns to the sitting room to find Draco leaning close and talking quietly with her parents.
"I apologize," she says as she slips back into her seat. Draco leans back to create the safe place in which he is tucked, settling her shoulder into him and soaking up his warmth.
"Your young man was just telling us that you met in school. A boarding school where we sent you, allegedly."
Her breathing picks up. This is happening very fast. School means Hogwarts, and Hogwarts leads to magic, and ultimately, that is what she is terrified to explain. She has to somehow make them believe her and then immediately beg for forgiveness. They would have been hard pressed to forgive her even when they knew her. Now…
She steadies herself, trying to stem the panic rising in her gullet. "If this is all too much, we could come back another time. Take this slow."
Her parents exchange a look. "No," her father says. "I do believe I'd like to hear what else you have to say. As you can imagine, I don't think I'd be able to sleep if I didn't hear absolutely everything. Then we can decide if this is all just some cruel hoax. Certainly unbelievable enough to be," he grumbles out at the end.
"You've not said," her mother begins, "how we lost our memories. You seem to skirt that bit. Don't think I haven't noticed you are trying to evoke an emotional response without any logical facts to back it up." She gestures at the piles of parchments. "Photos and family memories: all well and good, but surely you have something more if you expect us to believe this farce."
Hermione has always admired her mother. A strong and intelligent professional, she had always respected her forthright manner and unwavering confidence. The greatest surprise of her life was when her parents welcomed Minerva McGonagall into their home and somehow believed her every word. Today, Hermione has to be McGonagall, and she hopes she is convincing.
With a look to Draco, pleading for his strength and solidarity which he offers back in a squeeze of his hand and affection in his gaze, Hermione pulls her wand from the deep pocket of her outerwear, slowly as not to startle.
She takes a deep breath and speaks. "When I was eleven years old, a woman came to speak with us at our home. She was the deputy-headmistress of the school where I would attend with Draco." She gestures to the wizard, and he dips his head in acknowledgement.
"Professor McGonagall explained to us that I was invited to a special school called Hogwarts. You were concerned about me finishing at South Hampstead, but she assured you they couldn't offer me what I needed."
Hermione raises her wand and casts a silent Leviosa on the documents beside her mother. The pile lifts itself and settles into the satchel that Hermione is holding open in her lap. The Wilkins are gaping at her, and she continues her demonstration, flicking a charm to open the curtains wider, sunlight streaming in, then summoning the papers from her father's side of the sofa, repeating her clean up of the mess they've made.
"I'm not sure why it happened, no one is entirely sure, but, even though you can't, I can perform magic. Not parlour tricks and sleight of hand, either. I can cast actual spells through a wand or possibly another focus if I practiced enough. Hogwarts taught me how to wield it, what incantations to use, and the limits of what I can do."
They look frightened now, and it breaks her heart. They were never afraid when Minerva came to call.
"Perhaps, it would be best if you left," her mother says, and fresh tears fall down Hermione's cheeks. She's buoyed, however, when her father speaks.
"No… no, I think I'd like to hear more, actually." He looks at Jean and raises his eyebrows at her. "What if it's true?" he asks almost too quietly to hear. "She looks just like you… has my hair. Won't you always wonder?"
They stare at each other for a long time, tense and speaking volumes without words. Hermione is holding her breath, not even sure what she hopes for. The next step is a hard one. It might be better to give them a few days to process everything she's said. Then again, if she leaves, they may never allow her back in their vicinity again.
Finally, her mother sets her mouth into a grim line but nods to her husband. He turns back to Hermione and asks, "If you can do magic, then, can you fix our memories? If we are who you say, can't you… spell them back to us?"
Hermione shakes her head sadly. "Some things even magic can't fix. But I can show you memories. Like watching a film, you could see what I remember. It's not as good as getting your own back, of course, but you could at least know things that have happened."
"And how would—" Her mother clears her throat, seeming affected and unsure. "How would you do that?"
Looking at Draco, he accepts the cue with a nod and pulls an object from his pocket along with his own wand. Hermione hears her parents take a surprised breath when he taps the shrunken item and it grows to standard size in the middle of the tidy Muggle living room. "This is called a Pensieve," he explains to them, keeping his voice low and soothing. "Hermione can use this to show you memories that she has selected of you."
"Couldn't this… I don't know… jog our memory?" her father asks, to which Hermione shakes her head sadly.
"It's not like head trauma or a mental block. These memories… You no longer have them. Not deep down." Her voice drops ever lower, ashamed and contrite. "Not at all. They're just… gone."
They stare at her in a way Hermione could only call horrified, and she knows that they suspect the truth: that magic took their memories. That their daughter is somehow to blame.
She is surprised, then, when her father gives a decisive clap with his hands and stands from the sofa. "Well, then, how do we turn this thing on? Do we just… look here? In this bowl part?"
Standing with him, Hermione reaches into her own pocket for the vial she has prepared then looks to her mother. "It might be easier if you see it together," she offers, not wanting to push, but hoping they can lean on each other during the experience. She imagines this will be incredibly jarring and almost wishes she had waited for another day.
But keeping this possibility away from them when they are asking for more seems dishonest, and she will never lie to them, never keep anything from them. Honesty is her only possible penance for the damage she's done.
For a moment, she expects her mother to refuse, but then, the woman slowly rises and stands by her husband, across the Pensieve from their stranger daughter.
Hermione tips the vial toward the surface and watches the liquid silver of her memory pour in a swirl, glimmering under the Muggle electric lights. "I'll need you to take my hands," she says softly, offering her palms up to each of them. They both hesitate an almost equal amount of time before taking her hands gingerly, an expectant look on both of their faces.
Draco watches his witch and her family as they are sucked into the Pensieve, the home suddenly eerie in its silence. He looks around, studying the home. Having lived with Hermione for some time, Muggle life is no longer as jarring as it once was, and so he is able to look over the odds and ends of electronics and focus more on the house itself. Her parents, he will say, have rather refined taste. A piece of art on the wall grabs his attention.
Rising and approaching, he finds himself staring at a painting done with heavy strokes, indicative of impasto style. Draco has always found this style to bring with it a certain temptation, a need to follow the lines with his fingertips. He traces them instead with his eyes, ridges of greens and whites forming a still life of foliage in a crude vase.
The distraction is welcome and allows him to focus elsewhere rather than the hammering of his heart, nerves for his witch welling up in his chest. She's suffered a long time without them. No magical way to heal their minds, convincing them to learn her all over again was their only recourse.
He drifts, eyeing a decorative bowl here, an arrangement of flora there, and stops when he reaches something that is entirely out of place. On a low table in their entry way, the Wilkins have what appears to be an old book hardly notable enough to be meant for display. On a hunch, Draco waves his wand over the surface, murmuring a quick Finite, and watches the cover take on the luster of a newer tome. Lifting it to look through, he finds a series of Muggle photographs, mostly of the couple in their earlier years. It appears Hermione had left them something of themselves after all. But why hide it?
On the last page, he finds his answer. The final photo, with words scrawled beneath 'And then we were complete,' is an exhausted looking Monica née Jean holding an infant Hermione in what looks like an infirmary bed. Standing proudly to her side, her husband looks down at them both with a smile on his lips.
He is heartened, looking at their faces. Surely they will be able to find that same adoration for their daughter, even without their memories.
Carrying it back with him, Draco sits once again to wait for the pensieve.
Hermione stands behind her parents in the memories, keeping her current form out of their field of view as they watch the scenes before them. She is a toddler, a child, a young girl, all moments selected for their importance to her. She watches as young parents cook together, cuddle beside one another on the sofa, read books sitting up in bed. The child pounces on them when they are idle, asks questions when she is curious (which is all the time), hugs them, smiles. They were happy, she knows, but it is something else entirely to watch it all happen again. Will they ever be able to find a relationship again? Will they forgive her for this? Her childhood was charmed, and she stole their memories of what exceptional parents they were.
Her eyes well over, and she brushes the tears away, not wanting to miss a moment as she lives all this again. They are her memories, but watching them play out in a pensieve is almost more visceral than playing it in her head.
As the last memory fades, they are all left standing in a grey void, and Hermione lays a hand on each of her parents' shoulders, the ether sucking them back up into their home.
She drops her hands, and they still have not turned to look at her, but Draco is there. Steadfast and assured, he wraps his arms around her and tucks her head beneath his chin, enveloping her in such comfort, that she is able to dry her tears before they fall in earnest, breathing deep against his chest.
He releases her finally when her father clears his throat.
Her family is there, looking at her in awe and confusion, tears standing in her mother's eyes.
"You'll forgive me," her father starts, "but I just need a moment."
Hermione nods, and they all sit once again, her parents less agitated than before but a far cry from relaxed.
"How does this…" Her mother gestures to the pensieve from which they've just emerged. "How does this work? Is it like a projection? A recording?"
Shaking her head, Hermione answers, "It's magic. I can't explain in terms you understand. Or any terms. These are my memories, plucked right from my head."
Beside her, Draco shifts and lays a book on the low table between all of them. "I found this," he says, and looks at Hermione to pick up the gauntlet.
"I forgot I'd left this here," she breathes out, reaching for it. Instead of picking it up, she nudges it further away, toward her mother on the other side. "You would have thought this was just an old art book." With a wave of her wand, the cover changes to a study of Van Gogh, supposedly printed in 1920. Another wave and it becomes her family's photo album once again.
At the look on her father's face, she quickly adds, "Don't worry, I have the real book in England." It had been her father's favourite.
Her mother lifts the book and opens it on her lap, shifting it off center so her husband can see it as well. Hermione watches their faces, and they see their lives go by, looking at memories they have retained. Glancing over the top of the album, she sees their last day at university, a trip to Spain, their wedding… memories that Hermione only knows from stories, but that are still fresh in the Wilkins' minds. Her mother starts to smile, her father chuckling at a photo of his wife covered in flour that he himself had been guilty of spilling. It's a story Hermione knows well, her father always happy to tell it.
On the last page, their smiles fade, and they stare at their family, now three instead of two.
Hermione clears her throat. "There are no photos of you pregnant," she tells her mother. "You hated looking not yourself, and you wouldn't let anyone take any." She looks to her father next and adds, "But you took one while she wasn't looking. I still have it in England. She wouldn't let you put it in the book."
The room is quiet again, Hermione feeling grounded by Draco's hand in hers, his thumb drawing lines across her knuckles. It's her mother that breaks the silence once again. Hermione thinks she got her Gryffindor bravery from her maternal side.
"What did you…" trailing off and clearing her throat, there is no question that the woman is affected. "What do you think happens from here? We don't even know you… and you're asking us to believe so much."
"I know," she whispers back, looking away. "I'm so sorry. I was hoping we might… get to know one another? I hoped you might want to know about me."
"I think you should stay for dinner." Her father sounds decisive, bold. Perhaps Gryffindor runs on both sides.
"We really don't want to impose—" she begins, and both her parents laugh.
"You just shook up our entire lives," her mother says, laughing though a little incredulous. "I don't think setting out another couple of plates is too much of a bother."
"We would love to, Mister and Missus Wilkins." Hermione turns to Draco as he speaks, surprised at his easy acceptance. "You can ask us anything you would like. Hermione can tell you about your family, and I'll be happy to tell you anything about the magical world that is so lucky to have Hermione as a part of it."
"I'm quite curious about that," her father says to Draco. "Is that common? People doing magic when their families don't?"
He shakes his head in response. "Not at all. Your daughter is a rarity in so many ways." Hermione blushes at his praise.
"I'll just order some take away," her mother interjects. "I can't imagine you are used to much else if I allegedly raised you." Still a bit of bite to her tone, Hermione knew her mother would be the tough one, but she takes the comment as a win that she's even considering the truth of it.
With a smile, she agrees, "We had a lot of curry. And Chinese. Pizza when you were feeling particularly casual."
Her father laughs at that. "Sounds about right, Monica."
The name is wrong, but it's her parents all over, and Hermione smiles just the same.
Dinner is difficult but not terrible. Small talk is made, and the Grangers as they are now learn about the pieces of each other they've missed. Hermione tells them about their family from the perspective of her childhood, and her parents tell her about their life as it is now.
The infamous dog makes an appearance toward the end and takes an immediate liking to Hermione. Draco resolves that he will make sure she has a new familiar as soon as they return to England. She had wanted time to mourn initially, she'd said, but the way she had giggled as the brute licked her silly tells Draco that she's ready.
He wraps his arm around his lover's shoulders as they walk away from the house, her parents watching them from their front door.
"It wasn't awful," she says, more trying to convince herself than anything.
"It wasn't," he agrees, holding her tighter. "They seemed more comfortable by the end."
"Maybe lunch tomorrow will be better."
Draco nods, grateful all over again that Frank Granger had warmed considerably over the meal and initiated another meeting for the next day. "It will always get better from here," he promises.
Hermione doesn't reply, so he stops her once they are out of sight of the house and places his hands on her neck, thumbs petting her jawline. "Hey. They loved you before, and they will again. They already like you."
She laughs softly, and a weight seems to slough off her shoulder. "How can you tell?"
"Please, I'm incredibly observant. It's a Slytherin trait."
"Or a mustelid," she counters, and he kisses her, slow and thorough, quieting her snark.
He pulls back, dropping one last peck to the tip of her nose. "Do you think they would like to meet Benedick?" he quips, and it is a testament to how far they've come when she giggles.
"I think that dog of theirs would eat you in one bite, matter of fact. Let's just take this slow. Maybe no human transfiguration until they've come to terms."
Draco leads them back into a moderate pace and takes her hand. "Spoilsport," he accuses, all affection in his tone.
"Ferret," she replies, and squeezes his fingers in her own.
True to Draco's word, the next day is a little bit better, and the next a bit more. Just like every day since he found a pretty witch crying by a cold lake, and he knows this is just the beginning.