When he descended the stairs behind Yaxley he could hear her voice, crystal clear, calling Lucius Malfoy an insufferable bastard. It was fifteen minutes before dinner and they were arguing yet again over the project the two of them had taken on about ancestral magic. Part research, part book, and all bickering, Thursday nights were dinner nights at the Malfoy beach home that was not too far from the small cabin Antonin and Hermione had moved into.
It had been three months since the end of the war, Antonin had not fully regained use of his hand since the dark mark had been scooped out of his arm by magic, his fingers were stiff which made it particularly hard to play chess with Yaxley or grope Hermione, but she assured him with something called physical therapy that he would be able to use his hand again like it used to be. He did not believe it, but his mother, who visited with Hermione's family often, all agreed on it.
"Oh yes, I don't see why spells relating to motherhood should be in the book." Lucius snapped "This is for school children."
"Where do you think babies come from Lucius? Or have you forgotten?" Hermione's voice carried down the hall "Children grow into adults and adults have babies. They should be able to use our book as reference."
" Pchelka ." Antonin cut Lucius' rebuttal off "Come, let's get settled for dinner."
Hermione was still weak, but her magic was entirely her own. She shut the book with a thud and glared at Lucius before standing up. "It's a wonder ."
"It is a wonder." Severus agreed "That you two thought it would be good to work together at all. I've never met two more stubborn people ."
The Malfoy dinners were always packed with people, Hermione's guestlist was always revolving and Narcissa never denied her plus ones. There was the core group to be sure, Rabastan and Luna who were attached at the hip, Rodolphus who sat close to Hermione, Lucius and Severus who got a little out of hand when there was too much firewhiskey after drinks, Narcissa who always ushered Lucius to bed first, Yaxley who doted on Hermione but spent more of his time teasing Antonin. Then there were extras who dropped in, werewolves coming to pay their respects to the great Hermione Granger, vampires who came and went even though the all were in some twisted debt to her, and sometimes, like tonight, others .
Hermione smoothed out her robes and looked up at Antonin who was watching the door even as everyone settled into their seats.
"I hope they don't ask again." She muttered quietly "I don't want a repeat of last time."
Antonin shook his head "I think Severus…"
"You think I what Antonin?" Severus replied sitting down across from her, next to Narcissa, a glass of firewhiskey in hand.
Severus, even now, was sly as a fox, but Hermione claimed she trusted him, so despite what Yaxley had told him about Severus playing both sides of the war, Antonin had to keep the peace.
"I asked if you had talked to them." Hermione clarified "About my answer and my reasoning."
Severus looked down into his glass but before he could reply a house elf popped next to her "Mistress Narcissa, visitors."
"That will be them, then." Yaxley said next to Antonin, his hands on the back of his chair.
"I'll meet them at the door this time." Hermione said
Antonin and Rodolphus stood on either side of her and while she couldn't see them exchanging worried glances, she glared back at them all the same. "We need to be civil ."
She opened the door and smiled to the two people darkening their doorway. "Harry, Ginny, it's so good to see you again in Elba."
Antonin elected to say nothing, the first time he had said something, he was at Yaxley's flat for a week.
Harry had been hailed as the savior of the wizarding world, but fame had proven to be too much for him, and, Antonin secretly decided, guilt because it wasn't Harry Potter who had saved the wizarding world and suffered no consequences, but Hermione, who was still recovering months after the final battle had taken place.
Ginny, who was swathed in black and pale as a ghost, held a pie that Antonin knew Rodolphus would discard in fear that the redhead would take some kind of twisted revenge on his family. She had a glittering diamond engagement ring, but Antonin knew the marriage, like most things Harry Potter, was just for show. A vampire married to the great Harry Potter was a new call for unity amongst all types of magical creatures. A ploy done by the Ministry and the people who funded the Ministry: the vampires. The two faces of the new wizarding world who wanted to forget stood at the steps of the one part of the wizarding world who did not and Hermione looked up at him nervously.
"You know, we are thinking at the Ministry to start including an emphasis on muggle technology." Harry said, trying to break up the awkwardness "Since we put Kingsley and Mister Weasley in charge things have been shaping up."
"Oh?" Hermione asked and elbowed Antonin who rolled his eyes "Do tell."
It was natural of course, for the wizarding world to recoil against the old ways and the old magic, the Dark Lord had twisted it and tainted it, but Hermione wisely said nothing about her feelings on this matter and listened to the youngest Weasley, the one that still hated her, talk about decorating their apartment for Witch Weekly who was interviewing the just engaged couple.
They were both pawns one of the Ministry and the other of Vampires, but Antonin refused to let Hermione be dragged into that.
Antonin pretended to be asleep when Hermione spoke to Harry alone less than a meter away after dinner, after drinks, and before Antonin lost his patience. "I told you the answer is still no, until they are all acquitted I will not step foot in England, I don't abandon my friends."
"'mione, they committed so many crimes it's impossible, even the Potter name won't get them off." Harry replied in that whining tone that Antonin hated.
"Then you may continue to visit me here, or at the cottage, as you see fit." She said, her voice held that tone of finality that meant if he pressed the issue he'd be in for something.
He did, he always did. "The Ministry just wants to ask a few questions, it's not a trial or anything, you put some kind of...hex on me and Gin I can't even tell them the country you're in. Please, I know you'd be in the clear."
"No." A pop, Antonin opened one eye lazily and looked at her. Her magic still was unstable as she recovered, a wine bottle had uncorked itself. "Absolutely not, I thought Severus…"
"He did, and really...I just want to go back to the way it was you know, you, me, Ron, Ginny, the dream team." Harry grabbed her hand and there was a hiss as he recoiled. "Your magic-"
"Mister Potter." Antonin drawled from the couch near her "I do not fear you, boy, your anger doesn't work here, nor does your begging."
"Antonin." She sighed. "Harry."
These are two worlds that would never meet.
They walked back on the beach after dark, the waves lapped at the shore, he could see the light from their kitchen window from here. Antonin hated the sea, but Hermione seemed to love it.
"Do you think he'll ever understand?" Hermione asked, waves coming and going and pulling some of her syllables away from him.
Antonin squeezed her small hand in his as they walked along the shore. "No."
He didn't want to tell her a few things. A few things like she had drifted far away from her friends in the time that she had spent with him and his friends, or that she had learned deeper truths than Harry Potter would ever get the opportunity to uncover in his new position as the poster boy for the New Ministry. He kept silent, because he knew, like all things, Hermione knew as well.
"I think Kingsley is using him." She continued "I think that's what he wants me back in England for as well."
His Hermione was smart, there could be no doubt. "He knows the truth of what happened, it's only a matter of time before others discover what the Ministry has been trying to hide and demand you as well."
"I hope not." She said squeezing his hand "I know…" She let out a sigh and stopped on the beach "I know that Hermione Granger was supposed to be a goody two shoes Gryffindor, but I like this better, I like this life better. You work at the bank in Vatican City, and I study with Lucius, and brew with Severus and heal at the clinic with Rodolphus. It seems like the past was so long ago now, I don't know if I could go back to Hogwarts and start over."
Hermione still didn't know what it meant to be the heir to the LeStrange family, and he hoped that she never really did. Lucius was in awe by how humble she was at being an heiress when Draco was decidedly not, but money was one thing Hermione remained blissfully ignorant about.
"No one can force you into a life you don't want." Antonin said, turning back to study the girl in the moonlight. "You are here now, and if this is what you want, I'll give it to you."
"It's more than just studying and getting grades, it's making a difference, you know?" She sighed and looked back at Antonin who gave her the briefest of smiles to reassure her that she had made the right decision. "If the Ministry comes-"
"They're going to have a hell of a time taking you out of your house, let alone off this island." Antonin said grabbing at her hand again, lacing his fingers with hers. "Do what is best for Hermione Granger, not what other people think Hermione Granger should be doing."
She leaned up and pecked him on the lips "Thanks." She said shyly. "For the support, and for everything really."
He turned towards the ocean, squeezing her hand. He felt her lay her head on his arm and they stood and watched the tide roll in, closer and closer to their feet on the ocean shores of Elba.
When they lay in bed in the small cottage he had built for her, although he hadn't told her anything more than it had been conveniently found, he brushed the hair away from her face and she smiled.
"Thank you, malyshka , for everything, really ." He whispered, hoping that she had been asleep.
She smiled, her scar from the night at the Ministry stood out white against her sunkissed skin.
"Sleep Antonin, you always are a bear in the morning."
"I thought you liked bears." He growled, yanking her close and she squealed as he began to litter her sleeping face with kisses "Isn't your patronus one?"