A/N: Hello readers, last chapter!
Thanks so much to all of the people who reviewed! I never expected such a response to my little out of control oneshot, you guys are the best. Also thanks to Rumaan for the kind words and general awesomeness.
When Hermione woke up at when the sun rose at precisely 06:11, she was alone in her bed and there was muffled swearing coming from her living room.
Curious, she padded out to investigate.
Malfoy was on his knees in the fireplace, having words with someone. Judging by the three coffee cups lined up on the mantle, she was willing to bet that he hadn't gotten much sleep. She left him to his berating of blameless potion company employees and went to raid her cupboards for something that he could eat.
When Malfoy finally pulled his head out of the fireplace, Hermione was waiting with pancakes she'd found in the freezer. They were slightly freezer-burnt and a little too crispy in sports from her ancient toaster, but they were better than nothing. A stomach full of coffee wasn't going to do Malfoy any good.
"What's the news?" Hermione asked him as she handed him the pancakes.
He nodded his thanks, accepting the plate. "I contacted the company that sent your mum the potion and got a list of ingredients. Combined with the potion that the redheaded harpy gave to you, and the random plant matter the careless bint dropped in there, it's very possible that it could have caused your current... condition."
"Shouldn't we contact a Potion Master, just to be certain?"
Malfoy paused in his consumption of the pancakes.
"You forgot that as well, love?" he asked with a smug smirk, "I'm the foremost potion's expert in the country."
Hermione was impressed and it showed, only making Malfoy's smirk increase.
"If there's one good thing about your lost memory, it's that I get to see that expression again. You're just as impressed as you were the first time."
"Does this explain my memory loss as well?" She was hopeful, but not stupid. Hermione knew that it was very unlikely that the same potion that had turned her into a plant had also erased only her memories of Malfoy.
"No. That's something else. I can't think of any potion that would erase only your memories of a single person."
"There's something that's been bothering me," Hermione said later that morning. Malfoy had gone home to begin working on a potion to that would change her back to normal and then returned to her apartment. While he'd been doing that, Hermione had taken her mineral bath and mulled over every little fact she had taken in since the beginning of her investigation, trying to find a clue.
"Daphne denied that she knew about us dating, but there was no way I wouldn't have told her."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "I cancelled my engagement to her younger sister the moment we decided that we were serious enough to tell our friends and family." At Hermione's frown, he added, "It was one of those betrothed at birth things that I didn't see a point in breaking unless I found someone I could see myself spending the rest of my life with."
She didn't want to believe it, but Daphne made sense as the person who had taken her memories. The older Greengrass' comments regarding her sister being despondent about not getting what she wanted and then the remark about her mood improving made a lot more sense. Malfoy had broken off the engagement, and then Hermione's memories or her relationship were lost, thus leaving Astoria an opening to console Malfoy.
"Her position in the shop would give Daphne plenty of access to my apartment. It would have been simple for her to get rid of all evidence of you," Hermione said. Speaking the words felt like she was losing some sort of battle.
Malfoy glanced at the clock. "Is she working now?" She nodded. "I think it's time we pay Miss. Greengrass a little visit."
Daphne smiled when Hermione entered her shop to the cheery chiming of bells, but the happy expression fell right off of her face when Malfoy entered behind Hermione.
"Draco!" she squeaked, looking terrified. "What are you doing here?" Her eyes darted between Malfoy and Hermione, probably trying to discern whether they knew what she had done or not – and by this point, Hermione knew that Daphne had done something.
"I think you know exactly why I'm here, Daphne." Malfoy's voice was deep with unspoken threats. Even though he wasn't upset with her, Hermione got the shivers. She could only imagine how much worse it was for Daphne, who bore the brunt of Malfoy's anger.
Daphne's perfect posture crumpled under Malfoy's stare. Her shoulders hunched forward, and she curled around herself slightly, as if she was protecting herself from an expected blow. "It wasn't my idea," she wailed.
Surprised that it had been so easy for Malfoy to intimidate the usually cool Daphne, Hermione just watched as Daphne was interrogated. Malfoy wasn't really leaving Hermione any openings to speak anyway.
"If it wasn't your idea, then whose was it? And what exactly wasn't your idea?"
Daphne cringed further. "You have to understand, when you broke off your engagement with Astoria, she was completely heartbroken. She'd spent so long convincing herself that she was in love with you that she didn't know what to do with herself once there was no longer a chance of the future she'd always envisioned."
"So you tried to give her a second chance by ruining our relationship?" Hermione demanded. Malfoy gave her a look that clearly told her to be quiet and let him handle the situation, but she was just so upset that she hadn't been able to keep her thoughts to herself any longer. Besides, what business did he have just dismissing her like that?
"Hermione," Daphne said, focusing her attention on the less intimidating of the pair, "You have to understand that I really like you. You're one of my best friends, but family comes first."
Hermione shook her head. "Family may come first, but helping someone is not excuse to forget about what's right and wrong, and taking someone's memories is certainly wrong."
Knowing there was no redemption for someone who was entirely unapologetic for her horrible actions, Malfoy didn't bother berating the older Greengrass daughter and instead took an alternate route. "You were always rubbish at memory charms. Who was it that erased Hermione's memories?"
Still cringing, Daphne met his eyes. "You have to understand, Draco, she only wanted what's best for you. Befriending someone of... unfortunate blood-" she shot an apologetic look at Hermione "-is one thing, but marrying one is something else entirely."
Hermione was hurt beyond belief that someone she thought had been her friend had not only betrayed her, but obviously still held a pretty strong prejudice against her parentage. Somewhat used to the cold feeling of betrayal freezing her stomach and tightening her chest at this point, Hermione was able to push it aside and shoot a questionable look at Malfoy. "Marriage?"
His jaw tensed even as a light flush spread across his cheekbones. "I asked my mother for grandmother's engagement ring right after I broke off my engagement with Astoria." Daphne's edging away caught his attention. "We have more pressing matters to handle at the moment. We'll discuss it later."
"Daphne," Hermione said, hating that she really had to choice but to say what she knew had to be said, "I think it's best that you go home now. Don't come back; you're fired."
"After the three years I've been working here, you're just going to scrap our friendship and fire me at the same time, just because of one little mistake?" Daphne ignored Malfoy's intimidating glare and gave Hermione a wide-eyed, sincere expression.
"You scrapped our friendship yourself when you assisted in the removal of my memories."
Daphne pursed her lips and was on the verge of objecting, but Malfoy stemmed any protests she may have had by pointedly putting his hand on his wand. He was more than willing to hex her, but had been holding back so as to avoid upsetting his sort of girlfriend.
Keeping her eyes on Malfoy at all times, Daphne edged her way towards the door. She seemed to have finally gotten the hint that she should leave.
"Greengrass," Malfoy called when she was almost out the door, "Just so I can hear the words from your mouth, because I know she's going to ask: it was my mother that took Hermione's memories, right?"
Daphne nodded. "It was your mother. She asked me to lure Hermione out on a lunch date and then she stunned her and dragged her into an alley to Obliviate her."
Hermione's body only stayed upright from sheer force of will, she was shaking with something, be it anger, grief, pain, she wasn't sure. When Daphne finally left the store and Malfoy had flicked his wand to flip the "open" sign to "closed," Hermione allowed herself to sag against the counter. She tried to stop herself from thinking of all of the people that had been against her and Malfoy's relationship and all of the friendships that were damaged, possibly irrevocably, by the refusal of her loved ones to accept Malfoy. Something about Malfoy made her think that the benefit was worth the price, so she was going to do what everyone seemed unable to and trust her judgement.
Opening her eyes, Hermione found that Malfoy had ducked his head to peek at her face worriedly. It was still a little disconcerting to see him looking anything but contemptuous, but she was gradually getting used to it.
"We're going to have to see your mother now, aren't we?" she asked, her emotional exhaustion clear in her voice.
"I'm not looking forward to this any more than you are."
When they found her, Narcissa was wandering her gardens, followed by a pair of albino peacocks and a House Elf supporting a tray of what appeared to be a delicate crystal flute holding champagne. She reached down and took a slip from champagne as Hermione and Malfoy watched her from the other side of the Malfoy gate.
"No wonder you were such a pretentious, entitled little brat," Hermione whispered to the blond at her side. Just watching his mother for a few seconds left Hermione feeling irritated, it was no wonder Malfoy had been such a petulant and angry child.
Malfoy chuckled and pressed his hand to the gate. It recognised him as a Malfoy and turned into smoke, admitting the pair to the Malfoy estate.
"Draco, I thought you might be stopping by," Narcissa said. Her smile didn't reach her eyes – it barely reached her lips. She only acknowledged Hermione with a flick of her eyes and a tightening of her already pinched smile. If she got any frostier, she was in danger of cracking her face.
"You know why I'm here." Malfoy's voice was equally chilled.
Her eyes flickered over to Hermione once more. "I'd thought that I handled that particular problem. Can we not move beyond your childish insistence that you're going to marry a Muggleborn so you can marry Astoria and get on with your life?"
If Narcissa was trying to push her son to the edge of blackout rage, then she was well on her way to succeeding. Fearing that he may hex his own mother, Hermione placed a hand on Malfoy's arm, hoping to still him.
Her small gesture worked better than she could have hoped; he stopped his glaring, unclenched his fists, and looked down at Hermione with surprise.
"Malfoy, it's not worth it to get yourself thrown in prison."
"She's right, Draco. Besides, I've done nothing wrong."
Hermione bristled at that. "You violated my brain. I'm missing important parts of my life. If what I suspect if true, you took the most important part of my life. What right did you have to take that from me?"
Finally, Narcissa made eye contact with Hermione, her gaze full of contempt and barely veiled anger. "He's my son."
"Son does not mean puppet," Malfoy said.
Narcissa turned her attention away from Hermione – probably fearing that too long talking to a Muggleborn would tarnish her – and once more addressed her son, something about a mother having a right to interfere in her son's life if she knew that he was making a monumental mistake.
Hermione subtly slipped off her shoes so she could dig her toes in the soft grass. If she had to face the walking blizzard that was Narcissa Malfoy, she was glad that it could be outside in the sun. The gentle rays made her feel marginally better after the frostbite of Narcissa's words and glare.
She only half listened while Malfoy and his mother exchanged barbs. They were building to something, but Hermione didn't have the memories of their relationship that would have provided her with much needed context. She just made sure that she was ready in case either of them went for their wands. Hermione had heaps of fighting spirit in her, but when it seemed like it was the entire world – or at least everyone she cared about – against her, even her fighting spirit got a little weary.
"- And if I want to marry the woman I love, that's none of your business!"
"It's my business if you're soiling the Malfoy line!"
"What do you care about the Malfoy line? It's not like you give a damn about your husband or your son's feelings!"
Hermione turned her face up to the sun, feeling like she was physically wilting under the argument taking place around her. She opened her eyes when the arguing fell silent around her. Malfoy and his mother were both staring at her, Malfoy with something verging on raw panic and his mother with horrified fascination. Hermione tried to ask them what was wrong, but found that she no longer had a voice.
"Your hair," Malfoy whispered, reaching out and pulling a strand around for Hermione to see. From what she could tell, her hair was mostly still hair, but there were a few strands of berries and leaves naturally growing in there. Additionally, Hermione's skin seemed to be tinged with green.
Seeing this, Malfoy grabbed both of her shoulders and looked her dead in the eye. "The potion that's going to turn you back should be ready tomorrow. Don't you dare give up on being human before then, Granger."
Hermione nodded and tried to answer again, forgetting that she no longer had a voice. Of course, plants didn't need a voice. She pointed to her throat and made a face, trying to convey that she could no longer speak.
"Don't think this is over, Mother," Malfoy threw over his shoulder ominously as he escorted Hermione away from the Manor with a gentle grip on her elbow.
The next morning found Hermione and Malfoy seated in a waiting room in St. Mungo's. Since they now knew what exactly was wrong with her and her condition was very soon going to be reversed, they were looking into getting her memories restored.
The familiar process brought Hermione back to the trouble it had been for her to get her parent's memories restored. While she was a capable witch, she was no expert on memory loss and, as an amateur, hadn't trusted herself to be mucking around in the delicate brains of her parents. There was too much at risk for someone so inexperienced to attempt.
She knew that there were two ways to break a memory charm: have a professional carefully restore the memory channels that had been forcefully collapsed when the charm was cast, or, as Voldemort and his followers had found, through torture. The second option was something that Hermione wasn't willing to try; she'd had more than enough torture for a lifetime. She shuddered at the memory, half wishing that the memory of that had been the one taken instead of her relationship.
The tapping of Malfoy's long fingers drew her attention to the man seated beside her. He'd been antsy ever since she'd started looking more like a plant, but his current state of unrest was even worse. She touched his arm to gain his attention and widened her eyes questioningly at him.
His fingers stilled their restless tapping against his leg, but his shoulders didn't lose their tense set. "It's nothing. Don't worry about me."
He could say that, but that didn't stop her from doing it. He was an idiot if he thought dismissing her like that was going to change her concerns. Her expression must have showed this, because he rubbed a frustrated hand through his hair and looked away from her, presumably to stop her from reading his unrest in his eyes.
Hermione gave up on dealing with him and sat rigidly in her seat until a Healer called her name. She got up to go, but noticed that Malfoy was still sitting. How did he expect her to explain what the Healer had said, write him a letter? Hermione grabbed his hand and tugged him after her, ignoring his surprised expression.
Taking Malfoy with her into the Healer's office had been a mistake. Narcissa had done a very thorough job of erasing Hermione's memories and the chance of the Healer being able to restore them was depressingly slim. Malfoy had gone completely still at this proclamation and he hadn't so much as looked at Hermione since; not when they were in the office, not as they exited the hospital, and now, not as she sat in a patch of sun in the park and watched him pace.
"You know," he laughed bitterly, still not looking at her, "Some part of me wanted to believe that my mother wasn't the one behind this. I had to hear it from her own lips that she had completely disregarded my happiness in favour of her stupid, outdated views on blood purity."
Hermione wanted to comfort him, but how was she supposed to do that when he couldn't even look at her? She eventually decided it was best to let him get whatever was bothering him off of his chest. It seemed to be what he needed from her at the moment.
"For most of my life, my mother's been the only one who really cared for me no matter what I did, but now... How can you take the one person who means the world from someone you claim to love?"
He was hurting, but had yet to look at her, so Hermione stayed where she was, promising herself that the moment he looked at her, she'd be there to give him comfort.
When his pacing stopped she was already on her feet and ready to go to him. He finally did glance at her and Hermione was in his arms the next second.
"You have no idea how hard it is to miss you when you're right beside me," he mumbled into her hair.
Hermione's heart twisted for the man that she'd come to care about despite her memory loss. She squeezed him tighter and rubbed her hands up and down his back, comforting him in the only way she could.
Her tear ducts seemed to have been lost; she couldn't even cry for him. Unable to produce tears, her eyes settled on an uncomfortable burning sensation that made her blink too frequently. Her eyes, like Hermione herself, remembered how to cry but just weren't capable of it anymore.
Abruptly, he pulled away and met her gaze. "Is there any hope of us ever having something between us if you don't get your memories back? I think I need to prepare myself now if I'm going to have to leave you."
Hermione reached up and put her hands on either side of his face, trying to make him understand with her stare that she couldn't guarantee that things would be the same as before, but she was willing to bet they could be together again. It had happened once and she still felt a pull towards him even though she couldn't remember a thing about their time together.
Unfortunately, Malfoy just wasn't getting the message. Something in his eyes seemed to go out as he watched her.
"I know you can't speak right now, but I need to know that it's possible."
Hermione frowned, not sure how in the world he expected her to convey that. Maybe he'd wait while she wrote him a letter explaining her feelings? Somehow she doubted that was the solution he was thinking.
Her stomach dropped when she noticed his eyes dipping to peek at her lips.
"Just one more time, kiss me. If our spark is gone, then I'll step aside and start working on letting you go."
Hermione tried to convey with her eyes and gestures that he couldn't kiss her, but he wasn't looking at her eyes. He was focused on her lips.
When he dipped his head to kiss her, Hermione panicked, turned her face away and shoved him. It killed her to see the hurt that bloomed in his eyes, but it was better than literally killing him with her venomous lips.
He wasn't looking at her again. "I get it. I'll bring over the potion to turn you back to normal tonight and then I'll get out of your life."
Hermione spent a few hours walking around in the sunlight to clear her mind of the tormented face of Malfoy as he moved away from her. It twisted and turned in her mind, torturing her for hours. At first, Hermione tried to comfort herself with the knowledge that she'd get to see him in a few hours when she could take his potion and then explain to him what had happened, but then something occurred to her: torture could reverse a memory charm.
Hoping that emotional torture was enough to break the charm keeping her memories from her, Hermione replayed Malfoy's tormented face in her mind again and again until it was all she could see. She thought about it so hard that she had to sit down and cradle her head in her hands because it was starting to hurt. Even then she focused.
The headache continued to worsen until she could barely stand the pain. It felt like her brain was shredding itself inside her skull. For the second time, Hermione's eyes developed a prickly feeling. She had no doubt that if she hadn't been a plant, she would have been crying from the pain.
The blinding headache continued to worsen until it was unbearable, when suddenly, with a snap that was almost audible, the headache suddenly disappeared. In its place were her memories; meeting Draco, dumping her glass of wine over his head on their first date, her mortification over the incident with the whip cream and her parents, and then him taking her out for ice cream to try and make her feel better. On the tail of her memories was fury that he had given up on her so easily, without even giving her a chance to explain herself.
She Apparated home to take a mineral bath, needing to gain some energy for what was sure to be a draining confrontation once he arrived with her potion.
Just before sunset, there was a knock at her door.
Hermione opened it to find that Draco was avoiding her eyes again. With her memories had come the knowledge that he did that because he'd never been able to entirely conceal his hurt from his surprisingly expressive eyes, and he hated having people know that he wasn't the cold, unfeeling individual that he'd been trying to become for most of his childhood.
"You need to drink the entire thing," he said, thrusting the vial into her hands and turning to leave again.
Not willing to let him get away with his retreat, Hermione grabbed him by the ear and dragged him inside her apartment. She thrust him at the sofa and pointed firmly to show that he was going to stay there until she let him leave. Draco rubbed his ear and shot her an accusing look, but he didn't try to leave again.
"I get that you don't want me to leave until you're sure the potion works, but I have somewhere to be."
Ignoring him, she tipped back the potion and waited. Hermione half expected the raspberry-tasting concoction to make her vomit like everything else that she'd ingested since she'd become a plant. Happily, it didn't.
A comforting warmth started in her stomach and radiated throughout the rest of her body. She stretched out her hands, watching as they changed from their pale green to the usual pinkish colour. The warmth in her stomach started to feel uncomfortable as strange things seemed to be happening to her insides. Nothing hurt, but there was a twisting feeling and the building of pressure until it suddenly released and she felt normal once more. Last to change back to normal was her hair, the berries and leaves disappearing and leaving behind her usual heavy curls.
Draco had watched the entire transformation. He gave her a sad little smile when she twirled to show him that she was entirely human again. The pull she'd felt towards Draco as a plant was a hundred times stronger when she was the same species. She wanted nothing more than to settle in his lap and kiss him senseless for the rest of the night. But first she had to yell at him.
"It worked," he said hollowly, stalling the yelling fit that he didn't even know was about to happen, "I'll just be going now."
"You will not," Hermione snapped. She was pleased that her voice had returned and sounded as vehement as she wanted it to. "You will sit there and let me yell at you for what a monumental idiot you were this afternoon."
Draco looked a little bewildered, but slowly sat back down on the sofa.
"First of all-" Hermione leaned down and pecked him on the lips, pulling away before he had time to respond "- I couldn't kiss you because I was venomous, you great lummox! You would have known this if you weren't so busy jumping to conclusions to give me a chance to explain myself."
He was too shell-shocked to do anything but blink at her stupidly. If Hermione hadn't already known that his intelligence was formidable, she would have wondered how in the world he'd managed to become such a successful Potion's Master.
Figuring that she may as well have her say before he managed to find his voice and started to object, Hermione continued. "Secondly, I'm disappointed in you for having so little faith in me, Draco." His head whipped up to stare at her, but she ignored it. "I would have thought that you'd at least be willing to give me a chance. You didn't even let them try to return my memories, you just overreacted and left me to deal with everything on my own." She hadn't meant to sound needy, but her friends and parents had betrayed her because of her relationship with Draco, and she was feeling a little needy at the moment. Even the strongest people in the world had their vulnerable moments from time to time.
"You called me Draco," he observed. "You haven't called me Draco since before you lost your memories."
Hermione put her hands on her hips, trying to maintain her anger despite wanting nothing more than to melt into his arms and cuddle there. "That's what you choose to focus on instead of the fact that only moments ago you were ready to walk out my door, dooming me to put my life back together after I pushed away everyone close to me because they didn't approve of us? I was willing to do that if it meant that I could spend the rest of my life with you, but if you're so willing to just up and leave me, then it wasn't worth it at all."
Realization was dawning in his eyes as he stood from the sofa. "Hermione, do you have your memories back?"
Hermione took a step back in case he tried to grab for her. If he got his arms around her, all of the anger would just go right out of her, she knew it, and she still had things to say. "How does that matter? You've already left me."
"It matters." His eyes searched hers, looking for the answer he wanted. "How did it happen?"
"Torture can release hidden memories. I just focused on your face as you stupidly turned away from me – something I'm not planning on forgetting anytime soon. I hated that I was hurting you so much."
And then he grabbed her, squeezing her in a hug so tightly that her feet lifted up from the floor. She had been right in thinking that her anger would just drip off of her like raindrops as soon as he touched her, except instead of raindrops, her eyes started watering and then she was crying.
"I'm sorry," Draco said, having noticed the wet spot on his collar and known was had happened. "It's just that every time you called me Malfoy and looked at me like you had no idea why I was still sticking around, it hurt. I'm a selfish creature and have never been very good at sticking around when things get tough."
"You're not a coward, Draco," Hermione said firmly. "And if you ever leave me like that again, you better just stay away, because I'm going to do so much worse than twist your ear and yell at you."
He nodded and pulled away to enough to stare into her eyes so that she could read the sincerity in his. "I won't leave again."
"You better not, or I'll do something much more serious than just yell at you."
Then he did what had had obviously wanted to do for weeks and kissed her senseless. Hermione's earlier assumptions had been right; touching him when she was the same species brought about all kinds of fun tingly and warming sensations that hadn't been present when she'd been a plant.
The next morning, all was as it should be; Hermione had managed to sleep past sunrise and she woke up in Draco's arms where she belonged. He was already awake and watching her with a smile, but his eyes were sombre.
Hermione pecked him on the lips and rolled away from him. If they were going to have a serious conversation, she wanted to put some distance between them.
"We have to talk," she sighed. He nodded in agreement.
"I left you when you needed me, and last night aside, I know there's going to be consequences."
Hermione flopped her head back down onto her pillow. "I haven't forgiven you for it, but I've missed you so much. Given time, I haven't forgotten that you did everything you could to make me better before giving up, and I appreciate it. I think I can forgive you, and in the meantime, I don't want to be away from you."
"If it means anything at all, I'm sorry – and you know how infrequently I apologise."
She laid a hand on his cheek, stroking the stubble there. "I know you're sorry, and I'm sorry for how I hurt you when I'd forgotten you."
Turning his head, he kissed her palm. "You had my forgiveness from the start. None of that was your fault, and I could tell you felt horrible about it even when you didn't remember me."
"I'm so glad everything's as it should be once more," she sighed.
Apparently, their serious conversation was over because Draco grabbed her again and pulled her against him. "Me too. I had a miserable few hours yesterday thinking that we weren't going to be able to be together. I'd hate to experience the infinite misery that the rest of my life would become without you."
The kiss they were about to share was interrupted by Hermione's stomach, closely followed by the rumbled agreement of Draco's.
"Let's go scavenge some food," Hermione said, "I literally haven't eaten in weeks."
Three months later, Hermione and Draco's relationship was still going well. They'd talked on numerous occasions about Draco's leaving her when he thought she wasn't going to regain his memories, and while Hermione was still a little hurt that he hadn't been willing to fight for them, she understood that it had been difficult for him. If the situation had been reversed, she wasn't entirely certain that she wouldn't have done the same thing.
Draco had yet to speak to his mother, and Hermione was resolutely ignoring phone calls from her parents as well as persistent Floo calls and owls from Harry and Ginny. They weren't sure what they were going to do about the many people who had tried to break them apart, but they had felt justified in ignoring all of them until their relationship was back to something resembling normalcy.
"You have to talk to her sometime," Draco said as the phone rang for the eighth time in the last hour. "She's your mother."
He knew exactly how many times Hermione's mother had phoned because he'd been there for each and every call. After losing Hermione for a few long weeks, Draco had realized that living arrangements weren't important. Hermione kept her apartment over her shop and Draco moved in with her, helping her run the shop when he wasn't making potions in the basement.
"I could say the same to you."
Draco arched his back and stretched his arm behind him to grab the receiver off of its cradle to stop the ringing, but he didn't speak. Instead, he held the phone out to Hermione. "My mother has been corrupted beyond any human decency by circumstances that no human should ever have to face. There's no redemption for her, but yours is just a bitch with horrible judgement and good intentions, but a twisted way of handling them. Talk to her."
Sighing, Hermione took the phone. "What do you want, mum?"
"Was that Draco? Are you back with him again? I thought you couldn't remember anything. Did he just call me a bitch?"
Hermione waited while her mother questioned herself out, glaring at Draco for picking up the phone. "What did you want, mum?" she asked again.
"Hermione, you're my daughter and you can't just ignore me forever."
"You don't even seem to understand how horrible it was of you to give me a potion. Magic isn't something that you can just play with not knowing the consequences."
"I don't belong to your world and should just stay in mine, right?"
Hermione's hand tightened around the receiver until her knuckles were white and the plastic creaked a complaint. Seeing this, Draco came to stand in front of her and made a sympathetic face, mouthing 'you're breaking the phone.'
Taking a second to stick her tongue out at the blond, Hermione answered her mum. "That's not what I said at all. I don't think anyone should attempt something as dangerous as potions without first thoroughly researching the topic. You should no more tamper with potions than I should dabble in dentistry."
Draco distracted her momentarily by snorting in amusement.
"Hermione," her mother said, not acknowledging Hermione's point because it was a valid one. "Christmas is coming up and your father and I miss you. Are you going to be coming home?"
Hermione thought about it for a moment, picturing herself subtly casting revealing spells on everything she or Draco consumed on the off chance that her mum tried to slip either of them another potion. She refused to spend a holiday like that. However, Hermione's large brain presented her with a tidy little solution.
"No, I'm not coming home. In all honestly, I don't trust you around food." Her mum gasped in offence, but Hermione pressed on. "However, if you and Dad wanted to come here, Draco and I would be happy to host Christmas dinner."
Draco wrinkled his nose at her but nodded, accepting that he'd go along with Hermione's plan.
Having lost both sets of grandparents a long time ago, and both parents being only children, Christmas dinner usually just involved Hermione and her parents, occasionally a few close friends, so no one would be without a place to go if Hermione's parents weren't at their house for Christmas.
"I'll think about it," her mum said reluctantly. Hermione knew that her dad would talk her mum around.
"Okay. Bye mum."
Draco was staring at her as she hung up the phone.
"What?" she asked.
Completely blindsided, Hermione didn't say anything, only stared as she replayed what he'd said.
"Okay," she eventually sputtered when he continued to wait.
His eyes went a little distant, even when he smiled joyously at her.
"What are you thinking?" Hermione asked.
"We just have to break in to the Manor and steal my grandmother's wedding ring. The old bag was horrible, but she left it to me in her will, not my mother."
Laughing, Hermione kissed him. She knew she couldn't ignore Harry and Ginny forever, despite their horrible actions, they were like family, and just like with her mother, Hermione was going to have to speak to them eventually. However, the only thing she had to worry about at the moment was making a Christmas dinner up to her mother's high standards and apparently plotting a break-in to one of the most magically protected privately owned buildings in Magical Britain.
Draco pulled away from her. "We have three weeks to think of something nice and horrible to slip into your mother's food. I'm going to brew the perfect potion for her."
She laughed and kissed him again, making a mental note to keep a close eye on him while she was preparing the dinner. Draco loved her and didn't want her miserable, but he had won several awards for his inventive and ingenious potions. Even worse, he was vindictive enough to find a potion that would turn her mother into a Ficus for the duration of their Christmas dinner.