By the Emperor's Sister
Hermione wondered if the baby shower wasn't such a good idea after all. It was too late to cancel though, her mother reminded her, as half of the guests were already there.
True it was great to see her baby sister, not so much a baby anymore; and her eccentric theatre aunt, Iphigenia, was always a delight. Hermione was only concerned about how the witches invited would react and deal with her muggle family and friends. Molly and Ginny had owled earlier that they regretted to say they would not be coming. Feeling a little bit disappointed with the Weasley women, she figured it was probably for the best. She recalled how the heads of the two families acted when in close quarters together. So in the end it would just be the Malfoy's and Severus attending. So she thought.
'Oh Hell…' Hermione Potter-sometimes Malfoy-Snape paled as the Lestranges, followed by Lord freaking Voldemort himself, walked through her front door. 'We're all going to die.'
Feeling much too distraught over her 'top-of-the-evil-food-chain' guests to bother playing 'the good hostess', she instead desperately sought out Severus. She hoped he would be able to keep them all from becoming the Daily Prophet's front page news.
She found him wearing his wicked Snape grin. He winked at her as if to say, "Never fear, your knight in black robes is here".
'Does Severus have some perfectly Slytherin plan to save us from a torturous unspeakable death?' she wondered. 'Don't tell me he's going to get those horrid Dark Wizards to leave!'
He seemed to be about to do just that, as she watched him with hope sparkling in her café au lait eyes. Once he made his way to their magical guests, all he did, much to her disappointment, was corral the males and usher them towards her father.
"My Lord. Lucius Malfoy and Rodolphus Lestrange." Severus began, "permit me to introduce my father-in-law. Mr. Donald Granger."
She missed out on their conversation due to her mother and aunt. They had taken it upon themselves to remind her of her hostess duties. She did catch Mr. Lestrange's derogatory comment about muggles though.
"Say gentlemen." Her father smiled invitingly, "let's leave the ladies to do their thing. Come then, let me give you a tour of my wife's and mine's practice."
'Perhaps Severus does know what he's doing.' Hermione mused, and sighed as she was left behind with a living room full of chattering, gossipy women. Straightening her shoulders, she marched into the center of the fray, or as everyone else saw it, the interrogation.
Usually wizards and witches are forbidden to speak of magic to muggles. Such isn't the case when it comes to gift giving ceremonies where both classes are involved. Measures are taken, however, by the Ministry to prevent the gossip from leaving the designated free speaking grounds. The Granger's residence was now a registered speak-easy, and aside from the Malfoy's guests, Hermione and her mother made sure to invite only those muggles who were open minded.
Hermione took her seat after making sure Narsissa and Bellatrix were now safely ensconced between her mother and aunt. The gift giving could now begin.
Her sister had long grown bored with all the baby nonsense, as young girls are prone to do, and had moved on to fiddle with the stereo. Hermione was now stuck at the head of the circle with the neighbor's girls and her old playmate from primary, Georgie Freed-Stern.
All in all, it became a rather pleasant afternoon. Helene and Iphigenia answered any and all questions that the two witches could have. For while picture books, frames and albums, as well as blankets, bibs and crib were fairly self explanatory, the wizarding world was too used to the convenience of house elves to know about the necessities of baby-proofed window treatments, nursing pillows, and the ever marvelous diaper genie twist away disposal system.
"So there is no wish granting involved." Bellatrix marveled.
"No, I'm afraid not." Hermione's aunt supplied. "It does take care of the mess so you can keep your eyes on your little one."
"I see. So that's how you muggles do things without house elves." Narsissa said.
"Well the only elf I've ever laid eyes on here was that dishy Orlando fellow on the big screen." Iphigenia smiled, "Mind you, I wouldn't mind that sexy blonde hanging around my flat!"
"Ooh, what's next sweet heart? Open another one!"
Hermione smiled at her mother and un-wrapped a baby monitor next. "I'll get Severus to spell this to work in the magical world. Thank you Georgie!"
The magical toy chest and phoenix song mobile were the last two presents Hermione opened. After thanking Narsissa and Bellatrix, respectively, Hermione then sat through the embarrassing episode of having her picture taken wearing a bonnet covered in all the ribbons and bows from the gifts.
Once the spots had disappeared from her vision, everyone enjoyed stuffing themselves on the many different cakes and teas. They chatted about their experience with babies and caught each other up on the latest scandals from their favorite soaps. Hermione joined her sibling and some of the younger girls by the radio, and began singing along to some of the songs they happened to recall the lyrics to. There was karaoke, giggling, and gossiping, and all the women present, from both worlds, were having a gay old time.
It was usually around this time when something would go horribly wrong; and it was no different in Hermione Potter also known as Malfoy-Snape's case. She was in the middle of singing the line "Lead me just say that you need me!" when her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Slocomb, screamed.
"Oh come now. The mudblood doesn't sing that badly." Bella cackled.
"A rat? Where?" Helene asked.
"Over there." Mrs. Slocomb pointed. "On that bit of china, as bold as brass, nibbling on a strawberry tart! Oh where is that big pussy of yours!"
Hermione looked uncomfortable. "I'm afraid Crookshanks is un-available Mrs. Slocomb." She said, frowning at the silver pawed pest in recognition. "More's the pity."
She saw Mrs. Malfoy and Mrs. Lestrange were avoiding noticing the furry death eater in their midst. It was obvious to her that though they recognized Pettigrew, they were neither fond nor willing to take responsibility for the little party crasher.
"Someone do something!" Mrs. Slocomb cried, and the youths decided to take matters into their own hands.
"Grab the beast!" and the hunt began.
Peter dashed off with a small horde of children hot on his heels. While the girls tried to fence him in, ladies of all various ages scurried to stand on their chairs. Even Mrs. Malfoy bounded up onto her seat with a squeak, Hermione noted with amusement. The shouts and chaos continued until Georgie Freed-Stern displayed her infamous rugby skills and trapped the wretched creature.
"Right then. He's good and caught!' she announced, keeping the squeaking traitor inside a small box. She added the strawberry tart and some tissue to the rat cage before asking for some tape. "My flat mate at uni needs another one of these. I'll just pass it on to her."
"Oh?" Hermione asked. "What for Georgie?"
"Some experiment she's been working on for her masters. She already has a female. You aught to see it Hermione, its monstrously fat, but smart as a whip." Georgie grinned, "Who knows. Maybe she'll mate them or something." Shrugging, Hermione's old school friend sealed the box with some spell-o-tape Bella had handed her with a sinister chuckle.
"Well that's over with. Anyone for more tea?" her mother invited. As soon as her mother finished serving, the missing men rejoined their little party.
Her father sat at her mother's side, planting a quick kiss on Helene's cheek. He smiled jovially as Severus and the Dark Lord followed behind and seated themselves nearby. Voldemort muttered quietly at Severus. "You know I grew up in a muggle orphanage where they arranged regular visits, but I'd forgotten how horrifying it could be. Do you think enrollment would increase or decrease if we offered a dental plan?"
Bella raised her brow, curiosity gnawing on her twisted black mind. Then she spied her husband. Rodolphus Lestrange passed his wife by and hurried into the Granger's bathroom. The slamming of the door was quickly followed by the sound of retching. Hermione's sister kindly turned up the volume of the stereo to cover the noise.
"He was in the chair." Severus smirked all knowingly at Bellatrix, nipping her curiosity in the bud. Her darling spouse's taste much reflected her own. She suddenly felt that she was better off ignorant to the details.
Lucius Malfoy, paler than Hermione had ever seen him, stationed himself behind his beloved wife. He made sure to keep Narsissa between himself and the muggles at all times for the remainder of the evening.
Hermione couldn't partake in the humor at the wizard's expenses as she was much too bothered by He-Who-She-Wished-Hadn't-Come's presence near her. Her aunt, as if sensing her disquiet, moved to the reptilian man's side, and struck up a conversation. It seemed to her that the foul Tom Riddle was easily taken in by all things theater.
'Probably helped that auntie Iphigenia told him he had the perfect cheekbones to play Hamlet or King Lear!' she thought sourly.
She cheered up some when Severus proceeded to shock and amaze the Death Eaters with an edited re-telling of their trip to the clinic. The magic users oohed and ahhed at his ability to spin an almost magical tale about the muggle healer's technology, but it was his animated baby photo that blew their bigoted minds away. When the dark art practitioners all asked for copies of the monotone baby Draco Jr., Hermione felt that maybe they were an almost all right sorting of people.
'Well perhaps I shouldn't get too carried away.' She mused.
end chapter 8