I don't own HP. Wish I did, but I don't.
Points of Change - Tom Marvolo Riddle was either never born, or died at birth. Draco went to Beauxbatons, Hermione never bonded with Ron and Harry. They met and fell in love three years ago at a Halloween Masquerade hosted by the Malfoys.
Prompt for Let Your Heart Be Light Fest: Two Advent Candles and the quote: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
December 3, 2006
Draco's cool, crisp voice cut through the air, making Hermione look up from Percy's report. She'd been so engrossed in reading that the words Draco spoke took a moment to sink into her brain. But when they did, she narrowed her eyes at her husband and glared.
"What do you mean she'll be here in a few minutes? The ceremony is not until dusk. It's not even eight in the morning!"
He shrugged, looking as unruffled as he typically did outside of the bedroom. "I'm not sure, but she sent an owl saying she'd be here at seven-thirty to, and I quote, 'assist with any and all preparations', whatever she means by that."
"What preparations? We're merely lighting the second advent candle! We set everything up last week! You know, when she decided to arrive at five in the bloody morning to help setup! All we have to do is get dressed! What is she planning?!" Hermione's hands were beginning to shake with anger. She'd had a long week and last night had been the Mosscairn Christmas Open House. An event she loved, but it was still a huge strain. Especially after the death threats she'd been getting all week. And then there had been the cursed items under the tree…
No, she wasn't going to think about those. Percy was handling that. Strengthening the protections on the academy.
She was exhausted and had been looking forwards to a quiet and relaxing Sunday. A Sunday that she could spend with only her husband.
Draco had the grace to look contrite. "I'm sorry, love. But you know how my mother is. And how she—"
Hermione let out a small yell of frustration and heaved herself to her feet, the discomfort of standing only adding to her anger. "Don't! Don't remind me that your mother has never liked me! How she dreamed of marrying you off to some idiotic pureblood princess and not a brilliant muggle-born! I don't need this right now!" She let out another little scream of frustration and took a step, preparing to storm out of the room and head upstairs and change. There was no way she was going to let her mother-in-law catch her still in her dressing gown.
Last Sunday had been bad enough.
But, before she could take a second step the little being inside of her decided to show their own anger by giving a very healthy kick. She gasped and bent over, cradling her stomach.
Draco was beside her in a moment, his arms coming around her and sweeping her off her feet. "Hermione, are you alright?"
The little being gave another kick and she winced, but it was much easier to bear when she wasn't trying to stay balanced on her feet. Plus, Draco holding her always made pain easier to handle.
It also helped her regain control of her temper.
"Yes, but I need to get dressed. Your mother can't see me like this."
He didn't let go of her, carrying her carefully across the room, into the hall, and up the stairs to their bedroom. His long, graceful strides covering ground much faster than her current awkward waddle. He set her down carefully on the edge their massive bed.
"Anything in particular you want to wear?"
She shook her head, "No, just pick something that won't make your mother sniff in disgust. I don't think I can handle that right now."
He chuckled wryly and gave her a light kiss before walking over to her wardrobe. "Can you ever handle it? I seem to remember you once threatening to set a flock of birds on her. My little cat has quite the claws."
She snorted in annoyance, but didn't do more than that. Of course, he was right. Once she'd quit her job at the Ministry and started planning Mosscairn School for Elementary Magical Education she'd refused to take insults from anyone. Even thinly veiled ones from the mother of the man she loved.
That had been true for three years now, and she had no intention of returning to how she had been during her years at the Ministy.
"Yes, this cat has claws, but so does my peacock."
He chuckled at that and returned with a set of tasteful blue robes. She began to relax and feel more in control of the situation as he helped her get dressed. There was something so calming about it. The normalcy of it.
"Are you going to tell me what's really bothering you? You've been on edge since Friday."
She sighed and looked up at her husband. "I got another letter at Mosscairn. People aren't happy that Sarah, Peter, Monique and Nila are doing so well at Hogwarts."
He frowned, "This was what, the fourth letter?"
"None of the others bothered you so much, you expected opposition from the prejudiced idiots."
"Yes, but this one came with a specific threat. And Percy found a few cursed gifts under the tree at Mosscairn yesterday. Gifts intended for only the muggle-born children."
Draco's silver eyes grew as hard as steel. "Did Percy report this to the Ministry?"
"He tried, but they dismissed it."
"I know, but what else can we do? Percy has hired his brother, Bill, to come out and strengthen the school's defenses."
Before Draco could respond to that a soft knock came at the door. A moment later it cracked open and Dobby peeked around the corner. Hermione had instructed him to always knock before entering bedrooms. And if the door was locked he was only to enter in the most dire of emergencies.
It cut down on embarrassing moments that way.
"Master Draco, the old mistress be here. Dobby gots her eggnog and biscuits in the morning room."
"Thank you, Dobby. Hermione will be down in a minute."
Dobby bobbed his head and slipped back out. Hermione didn't agree with the idea of house elves, but she also knew that serving was part of nature. Something she couldn't truly understand, but then, there were many things in the magical world she still didn't fully understand.
"Aren't you coming to greet your mother with me?" she asked as she slipped her feet into a pair of extremely comfortable, but still elegant flats.
Draco strode over to his own wardrobe, "No, I need to run a few errands. But I should be back by lunch. If not, I'll call Dobby and have him tell you."
Hermione frowned, a twinge of worry sinking into her stomach. What was Draco doing?
"Draco…" she started, only to be cut off by his lips.
"Don't worry," he said after breaking the kiss. "I promise not to do anything stupid. I just need to speak with my father. Go find my mother and see why she thinks coming this early is appropriate. Feel free to unleash your temper." He chuckled, "I'm sure she'll do something to deserve it."
And with that he was gone. Heading to the fireplace in the front foyer, the one connected to the floo network. She sighed and waddled her way out of their bedroom. Draco had never, in the three years they had known each other, attempted to interfere in what she was trying to do with Mosscairn. He was always there, offering support and advice when needed, but Mosscairn was hers. Well, hers and Percy's if she was to be honest. She'd never expected her best friend to drop his position at the Ministry and devote all of his skills towards establishing an academy to teach muggle-borns about magic before Hogwarts. But then, hadn't Percy constantly surprised? Like when he'd asked her to accompany him to the Malfoy Masquerade?
That had been the best day of her life. It had been the day she met her Monsieur Peacock. Better known to the world as Draco Malfoy.
These thoughts accompanied her as she awkwardly made her way down the staircase and down the hall to the morning room. Taking a deep breathe she plastered a smile on her face and opened the door, ready to do battle with the woman that couldn't believe her perfect, pureblood son had married a muggle-born.
Only, much to her surprise, the morning room was empty. A plate of untouched biscuits sat on a small table beside an empty glass of what had to have been eggnog. She ground her teeth in frustration.
Just where did Narcissa Malfoy go? If she was poking her nose around in Hermione's office again…
"Yes, mistress?" Dobby said, appearing right in front of her.
"Where did my darling mother-in-law disappear to?"
Dobby winced, "Wez believe old mistress be in the drawing room."
Hermione wanted to scream in anger again, but held control of herself enough to calmly say, "Thank you, Dobby. Don't punish yourself. It is not your fault a guest chose to wander off."
"Yes, mistress," Dobby said, looking grateful and apologetic all at once as he bowed and disappeared.
Turning and waddling angrily down the hall Hermione reached the drawing and swung the well-oiled door open silently.
She was not at all surprised to see Narcissa Malfoy with her wand as she tweaked and fussed with all of the decorations she'd insisted on putting up last week. Merlin! Didn't the bloody woman have a life?!
"Narcissa." Hermione said coldly, barely holding onto her temper.
The older woman swung around, a too perfect smile stretched across her elegant features. "Hermione! I'm so glad you've deigned to finally greet your guest! Now, come over here and help me with this."
Hermione ground her teeth and resisted the urge to draw her wand on her mother-in-law.
Doing that never ended well. Though Draco always found the results hilarious.
"Oh? And what can I help you with? Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" Hermione said snidely, not moving from her spot in the doorway.
Narcissa stared at her, perfect smile frozen on her face.
Hermione crossed her arms as well as she could over her swollen belly and glared.
The staring match went on for what felt like an eternity for Hermione, but was likely only a minute, and it ended in a manner most surprising to herself.
"Why, dear Hermione, it's so nice to have such a snarky daughter-in-law. Why, I'm surprised every day that you weren't in Slytherin." The older woman's cold eyes sparkled like gemstones as she spoke.
"You know why I wasn't in Slytherin."
"Ah, yes, well, I'm beginning to realize that blood isn't everything. I hear you're proving that, what with the graduates of your school taking Hogwarts by storm."
That comment surprised Hermione. She hadn't realized Narcissa was paying any attention to Mosscairn or the differences it was making. The woman had certainly never mentioned the school before now.
"Your son realized that long ago."
Hermione gasped as she saw the small flicker of regret on Narcissa's face. She had never realized the woman was capable of feeling regret.
"Yes, but then, Draco's always been special," Narcissa said in a whisper, her eyes much softer than they had been a few seconds before.
"At least we agree on that," Hermione said just as quietly, feeling some of the anger drain out of her.
It was always hard to feel anger when thinking about Draco. She knew Percy thought it was odd that she and Draco never argued, but she didn't. They disagreed a lot, but their disagreements never turned to arguing.
They never had to.
Neither of them had a chance to say anything else before footsteps came running up the hall behind Hermione. Spinning around, she pulled out her wand and was about to call out Dobby's name when she recognized the figure running towards her.
"Percy?" She took in his pale face, mussed hair, and skewed robes. "What is it? Did something happen to the students? To Mosscairn?"
"What do you mean something happening to your students? What's going on?" Narcissa snapped before Percy could say a word.
But Percy ignored Narcissa and focused on Hermione, a wild look in his eyes. "It's Draco! He took all the death threats and disappeared! The cursed gifts too!"
Hermione stopped breathing. Draco had said he would do nothing stupid! This was the epitome of stupid! What did he plan on doing?!
"Death threats? What death threats," Narcissa demanded, her voice as cold as ice.
Hermione was unable to answer, her body still frozen, but Percy managed to answer.
"We've been getting threats all week, because of the students doing so well at Hogwarts. Yesterday I found cursed objects among gifts for our muggle-born students. I called the aurors, but they did nothing. Just said it was a bad prank."
"Excuse me, I need to go."
Narcissa's words snapped at the air, forcing it back into Hermione's lungs and giving her the ability to move out of her mother-in-law's way. Her hands were shaking as her brain raced, trying to figure out where Draco was. What he was doing.
"Hermione, are you alright?" Percy asked, reaching out and laying a comforting hand on her shoulder.
She shook her head, fighting to gain control of herself. Draco had said he would do nothing stupid. He always kept his promises. He always had. Ever since she'd first seen him in that gaudy peacock costume, drawing attention and a direct contrast to—
She stopped, her mind whirling as her eyes stared unseeing at the elegant advent crown sitting on the table in front of the sofa. It was obvious now, where Draco was going. What he was doing. He had always drawn more attention than her. Even when no one knew he was a Malfoy.
And someone had been threatening her. Someone that had deliberately put cursed items in a place that could hurt her, their unborn child, or other people that she cared about.
He was going to the seat of power: The Ministry. He was going to use his presence, his name, his own power to ensure that she was safe.
Her lips slipped up into a smile and she walked over to the advent crown. She knew it wasn't dusk yet and it was Malfoy family tradition to light it at dusk, with the entire family watching, but to hell with tradition. She'd light the second candle now with a silent prayer for her beloved husband. Her Monsieur Peacock and all the work he did to help her make the world a better place.
"Hermione? Do you know where Draco went?"
Percy's words, which she thought had been repeated several times already, finally fell on her ears. She looked up from the two flickering flames. Dancing just like she and Draco always did.
"Where? We need to go help him."
She chuckled, "In a minute. Hippogriffs and cats won't help win a battle best fought by a peacock. Neither of us can strut and make a scene quite like Draco."
"What do you—" Percy started before the same realization hit him that had hit her. "He went to the Ministry. He's going to use his power as a Malfoy to make the aurors take this seriously."
"Yes," she said, carefully straightening a crooked candle.
"Then what about his mother?" Percy asked.
"Narcissa? I'm not sure. She could be at the Ministry, trying to make Draco back down. Or she could be helping him. I never know with that woman. She hates me for what I am, but she loves me for being the bearer of her future grandchild. She despises how I challenge her world view, but adores how I never back down. Personally, she's one of the most stressful people to be around, but I know she loves Draco as much as I do."
Percy smirked and held out an arm as she approached. She took it gratefully. She knew that she was only seven months pregnant, but she felt like a whale and her ankles were so swollen that walking was never fun. Thankfully her students didn't mind that she taught most classes sitting down.
"I suspect Mrs. Malfoy is helping her son. She won't show division among the family in front of strangers."
Hermione smiled, "I hope so. But let's go see. I'm sure that my arrival, showcasing my very pregnant belly, will make his arguments even more sympathetic to the general populace."
Percy chuckled and began to lead her to the floo. "You know, I think you underestimate just how much Mrs. Malfoy likes you."
She frowned up at him, "Why? Do you know something I don't?"
He pulled down the jar of floo powder and held it out to her as they reached the fireplace. "Something you don't? No, I just have a feeling that she gets great enjoyment out of your relationship. And," he continued after a moment of a thought, "I don't think she would trade you for a pureblood princess."
Hermione snorted in disbelief. "Sure. And you're the Minister of Magic."
Percy sniffed and looked down his nose at her, exactly like the hippogriff he'd once dressed up as, "And how do you know I'm not?"
She laughed and threw the floo powder in the fireplace before stepping in heading to the Ministry. Percy could think what he wanted, but she knew better. There was no way Narcissa preferred Hermione over some pureblood princess. No way in—
Hermione's thoughts were cut off as she landed in the atrium. What was happening there defied all logic. It made no sense at all. And yet, she'd never had any reason to doubt her eyes.
There was a massive crowd crowding the room. Most of them did not even look like Ministry employees. In fact, she recognized one man as being a clerk at Flourish and Blotts.
All of them, every single person, was watching a spot over by that horrible fountain. Frowning, Hermione began to fight her way through the crowd, keeping protective hands over her belly. As she moved she could make out words being spoken in her husband's most aristocratic voice. Words she had never heard him use before.
But, what truly surprised her upon arriving at the front of the crowd, was the fact that her in-laws were flanking Draco as he directed all of his words at the Minister and a number of officials crowded around him. Including Hermione's nasty ex-boss — Dolores Umbridge.
She gasped, and Narcissa turned. Her cold, glittering eyes met Hermione's and then, miraculously, they softened to the point that they were soft pools. Eerily similar to the ones she saw in Draco's eyes when he looked at her.
Narcissa strode over to Hermione and took her hand, pulling her out of the crowd as Draco grew quiet. Never taking his icy gaze away from the Minister.
Words were spoken, but Hermione couldn't hear them. So focused was she on the wonder of Narcissa's hand in hers. She didn't think her mother-in-law had ever willingly touched Hermione before. Not once in the almost three years they'd known each other.
"Well, Minister?" Lucius Malfoy's frigid voice pierced the shock gripping Hermione. "Care to explain just why death threats against my daughter-in-law were dismissed without investigation? Especially after she almost came into contact with cursed objects? Including," his voice snapped like a whip, "one meant to induce miscarriage?!"
Hermione blinked at that. One of the cursed gifts was to induce miscarriage? It had been aimed directly at her? But Percy had said—
She turned, her gaze finding Percy in the crowd. He flushed, the tips of his ears turning bright red as he looked away. After this they needed to have a discussion. He couldn't keep things like this from her.
"Um—well—you see—" the Minister sputtered for a moment, before wringing his hands.
No one else said a word, all of them either looking away in shame or staring back mutinously. Well, except for Umbridge, she was smiling gleefully, as if Christmas had come early.
"I move to open a Wizengamot investigation."
Hermione blinked and looked over to see a tall man with long black hair tied back at the nape of his neck. He looked familiar, but she wasn't sure why.
"On what grounds?" Umbridge snapped, the smile no longer on her froggy face.
The man cocked an eyebrow at her, a wild look in his eyes, "Do you really need to ask?"
"I second that motion," came a drawling, aristocratic voice that Hermione recognized. Regulus Black, father of that brat, Scorpius Black, and cousin to Narcissa.
"Minister! Call out the aurors! This is a Black Conspiracy!" Umbridge croaked, a look of fear in her eyes.
Well, that answered for Hermione who the first man was and why he looked familiar. She'd only met Sirius Black once, years ago when she had run into Harry and his godfather in Diagon Alley.
"How can it be a conspiracy when I also second that motion? I'm most certainly not a Black, though I have a cousin or two that is." The third speaker was none other than James Potter, looking as messy and relaxed as his son always did.
"I have to agree as well. What Minister allows death threats to go un-investigated?" An old woman with a stuffed vulture on her hat asked, scorn dripping from her words.
"But—but—" the Minister sputtered again. To no greater effect than he had before.
A tall, black man in auror robes pushed his way through the crowd. From the markings on his collar Hermione knew he was fairly high up in rank. "Excuse me, Mr. Malfoy. May I have a moment?"
"What?" Draco and Lucius snapped as one.
Despite the serious of the situation Hermione had to fight back a giggle. She quite often forgot just how like his father Draco could be.
"I am Kingsley Shacklebolt, an auror captain, and I was sadly out on a case when Mr. Percy Weasley brought in the death threats. Such things are usually my department. If I could see the evidence I shall do my best to find the culprits." Shacklebolt gave a short bow.
Draco sniffed, "I'm glad someone here is competent." He looked over at Hermione and then over Sirius Black, "I trust, cousin, that you will deal with these incompetent fools?"
Sirius Black's eyes grew even wilder and he shared a wicked grin with James Potter. "With pleasure."
"Percy?" Draco called.
Percy stepped out of the crowd, "Yes, Draco?"
Draco held out a bag Hermione hadn't realized he was holding. "Want to speak to Captain Shacklebolt here and get everything settled. I think I should take Hermione home. She shouldn't be on her feet for this long."
Hermione's feet began to truly hurt as Draco spoke. She hadn't realized until now just how long she'd been on them. Merlin, she hated the discomforts of being pregnant, but to realize she could have had a miscarriage yesterday…her blood ran cold and she swayed on her feet.
Draco immediately reached out and wrapped his arm around her, Narcissa moving out of the way to stand once more beside her husband — after a comforting squeeze of Hermione's hand.
That squeeze left Hermione reeling.
As did the commotion that erupted behind them as Draco led her to an open fireplace. More and more people were stepping out and challenging the current administration. Purebloods, muggle-borns, and half-bloods uniting to tear down those that would allow death threats and deliberate attacks against a pregnant witch to go un-investigated.
She hadn't meant to cause this change. And yet, she HAD.
It was astounding.
And yet, ten minutes later she was in a moment that was even more remarkable.
She was ensconced in the sitting room, a blanket over her distended belly and her husband sitting at the opposite end of the sofa, her feet propped up in his lap as the ever-burning candles on the tree twinkled merrily at them. Dancing in tune with the two lit candles in the advent crown.
"Thank you," she murmured.
Draco looked up, his eyes full of love. "For what, Miss Cat?"
She rolled her eyes, "It's Mrs. Cat. Remember our wedding just about a year ago?"
He chuckled, "How could I forget it? When you threatened to set Scorpius Black's robes on fire and called my mother a—"
"Oh, shush, Monsieur Peacock. We both know it was you that set Scorpius' robes on fire. All because he dared to mention his disapproval of me."
Draco shrugged, "Yes, well, he's always needed extra lessons. Why, I remember at Christmas one year when he—"
Hermione snickered, "You're trying to distract me from thanking you."
He smirked, "Again, for what?"
"For going to the Ministry. For helping make my students safe."
"I wasn't doing it just for your students."
He sighed and reached over, taking the cocoa from her hands and setting it down on the table next to the two flickering candles.
"Hermione," he said simply as he stood and shifted around so that he was sitting behind her, so that she was nestled comfortably between his legs. She leaned her head back as he pressed a soft kiss to her ear and wrapped his arms around her before whispering, "I love you."
She smiled, "I love you, too. But—"
"Shhh," he whispered in her ear. "We can talk tomorrow, alright?"
She sighed, wanting to discuss what had just happened at the Ministry, but also wanting to just rest. To let her husband hold her. To simply spend time together with no responsibilities, no in-laws, no death threats. Where it was just the two of them.
Author's Note: Wrote this for LightofEvolution's Let Your Heart Be Light Fest. The minimum was 1k words, but this kind of ran away from me… Didn't help that I decided to set it in the same world as Dance With Me, and I love that little world.