Disclaimer is the same as always. I do not own but have fun playing with the magical world.

Chapter 15

Saturday 9th February 2002, Parkinson Place, Pansy Parkinson's POV

An Owl tapped on the window of the large dining room, generating mild interest from all three Parkinson women sitting around the large mahogany table. Pansy watched as her younger sister Marigold moved quickly to let in the Prophet Owl which flew into the room, landing before her Mother. Not particularly interested in news Pansy picked up her abandoned fork of eggs, jumping with a start as her Mother shrieked in horror at whatever was on the front page of the Daily Prophet.

"What is it Mother?!"

Pansy watched as her mother wordlessly threw the paper in her direction, clearly too angry to speak. A fear that whatever had upset Marquette Parkinson was her fault ripped through Pansy, as the paper hit her face and she stumbled to keep hold of the many unattached pages. Glancing with trepidation at the cover page, the image that met her eyes was certainly not what Pansy had been expecting and a brief moment of thankfulness that it was not about her fluttered before Pansy squashed it with disgust at the real cause. Her cousin Marcus Flint was standing at the entrance of some bar, his arm around Granger of all people. They both smiled and lent together in an intimate embrace as the flash of many camera's surrounded them. Ripping her eyes away from the image, to read the article Pansy felt ill. Quotes from Granger and Marcus both attested that they were together in a relationship, and that they had been enjoying the privacy of getting closer without the press on them, but now wanted the world to know how happy they were. How disgusting; Marcus had pursued Granger of all girls. Little miss-bleeding-perfect, Gryffindor know-it-all, most annoying Mudblood to ever walk through the halls of Hogwarts. Pansy knew this news would horrify her Mother and suddenly feared the backlash.

"What's it say?" Marigold had half risen from her chair and was trying to read the paper, still in Pansy's hands from across the table.

"Go to your room, Marigold." The harsh tone of their Mothers voice clearly shocked the youngest family member, who quickly sat back down and looked at her Mother in confusion. "Now!" The raised voice and slamming hand clattering porcelain crockery brokered no opposition and had the young girl scrambling to leave her seat and rush from the room. Pansy wanted nothing more than to join her younger sister, not wishing to be near her mother at the present time. But the command had been issued to Marigold and not her, so she sat nervously quiet and waited. From her livid expression and closed eyes it was clear Marquette was unable to speak.

"What is he thinking?" Not being particularly close to Marcus, Pansy really had no idea and could only shake her head.

"Perhaps-" Realising her voice was thick with fear over her Mothers reaction, Pansy ceased her sentence taking a deep breath before trying again. "Perhaps he is doing it to enhance his reputation?"

Retaliation was swift as Marquette's leaned across the table and cuffed Pansy painfully in the head. "Stupid girl." Marquette raised her hand around the room in distaste, "This new world run by Mudbloods and Blood Traitors will not last forever. Soon the right people will be back in charge. Now when that happens my idiot nephew will have damaged my family's reputation. How in Merlin's name can Accolade allow this atrocity?"

Unwilling to risk another slap, Pansy just sat in silence waiting to be dismissed. She knew from experience when her mother was angry she would prefer to be alone, in the garden, blowing up flowers.

Friday 21st February, 2002, Pucey Manor, Isis Carrow POV

As always, unbidden memories of war, uncertainty and worry swept over Isis as the house elf led her inside the white marbled hall of Pucey Manor. Her fear of being found harbouring a Muggleborn had cost Isis Carrow many sleepless nights while she hid in this manor during thesecond war. It was perhaps worse for her as Isis had hardly noticed the first war at all. Of course she had been aware of the existence of a war of sorts, she knew her husband, Amycus Carrow, was what they called a Death Eater. But so was her father and most of the males of her acquaintance. That was just what Pureblood men of the highest standing did. Isis had always assumed it was a bit like a new version of the Slytherin men's club- they donned black cloaks with masks and when about doing 'Death Eater' business. The name was a little crass, but Isis was not a girl to dispute her father or husband having led an extremely sheltered upbringing as the only child and heiress of the Burke family. The only confusion she felt during those years came when Darla married Herbert Pucey and due to his aversion to becoming a Death Eater she was immediately forced to cease all contact with her friend. Accolade, the third of their little trio, was far more aware of the war and its evil effects, although she had a much larger family base to observe than Isis. That, and Accolade seemed to make it her personal mission to shield Isis' innocence of war as much as possible, leaving her without the memories of war everyone else had when they went into hiding.

When they first married, her husband Amycus had been perfect; Isis worshiped the ground he walked on. She had believed he loved her but the truth was much more sombre and disheartening. Amycus had been fearful of his domineering and high ranking Death Eater father-in-law. Unfortunately Isis wouldn't realise this until after the war, once Amycus had been released from Azkaban after claiming her father had placed him under the Imperius Curse. This betrayal had been horrific and she had hated Amycus for effectively locking up her father. At the time Isis thought they both could have claimed Imperius and escaped imprisonment in Azkaban. A screaming match followed, where Isis had become acquainted with just how horrible a person her husband really was. He gleefully told her all his wartime secrets and crimes done at her father's command, knowing she could not tell anyone under the forced protection and secrecy of Pureblood marriages. She was then informed that she had no choice but to accept the new world without her daddy's 'protection'. Isis could not hold back a physical wince while she continued to follow the small house elf through the Manor as memories of that night returned, the innocent trust of her marriage shattered.

Finally, she and the house elf made it to Darla's favourite sitting room. Entering the large white glass framed double doors Isis noted her best friends already sitting opposite one another in the cream and gold upholstered lounge chairs hers. Both her friends paused in their conversation as she entered, with bright smiles and words of greeting.

"Isis, thank goodness you're now here, Accolade has refused to talk about this morning's Prophet News until you arrived." Darla was practically giddy in her chair with apparent anticipation.

The lady in question smirked while bringing a cup of tea to her lips, but Isis was confused not having read the paper that morning.

"What news?"

Darla's surprised disbelief contrasted with Accolade's laugh.

"Marcus and Hermione Granger finally went public." Darla answered first while Accolade threw a napkin across the coffee table at her.

In a move only allowed amongst the closest of friends Isis almost bounded the remaining distance toward her chair exclaiming, "Really?" before sitting with a quick twist of the hips to face Accolade, interested in her reaction to the latest development. Although her interest turned slightly to worry at how Accolades previous amused face had turned solemn.

"I know as much as was in the paper. They were spotted out last night and confirmed a relationship. Marcus still isn't talking to me and I don't know what to do."

Isis heart ached for her friend, knowing this lingering feud within her family over Emmaline was taking its toll. Accolade had expressed multiple times her wish to fix the problem but had no idea where Tobias and Emmaline lived. Isis knew Clarabelle was speaking to her mother about wedding related matters, but refused to discuss her friend while Marcus was just avoiding Accolade and had even warded his home against her. Isis had tried to ask Blake who also refused to discuss the issue any more than expressing his view that Emmaline wasn't ready for a confrontation. Isis hoped for a resolution soon, with the very social wedding coming up any sign of family disharmony within the Flint family would cause a terrible gossip amongst Pureblood society. Plus it was hard to see her friend so sad. Pulled from her thoughts as Accolade again began to speak her tone dejected,

"Marcus is due to Portkey to Sri Lanka for the next World Cup round soon. I wish I could see him and meet Miss Granger before they gobut I don't think that's likely. I am just at a loss and I don't know what to do. I want to tell him how proud I am, and that I stand behind him one hundred percent."

Wednesday 27th February 2002, Andromeda Tonks Cottage, Harry Potter POV

Harry felt himself staring into his tea cup, as though he might perhaps suddenly become good at Divination. It wasn't working. In his peripheral vision a frowning Andromeda leaned against her kitchen bench, her own tea apparently forgotten as she observed him with a critical eye. Harry knew she was waiting for a reply to her recent question, but Harry was unsure how to answer. 'What's happened between you and Hermione?' The question lingered in the air as he once again wondered what had happened. The answer was disheartening and made Harry angry at himself. He had been a bleeding idiot and possibly lost his closest friend who had never left him. The pain of guilt and shame once again pierced his stomach. Andromeda was still waiting, Harry knew and expecting an answer.

"I made a mistake." Although this was a serious understatement Harry really didn't want to talk about the fact Hermione hadn't spoken to him for weeks. Glancing at the dark haired women, taking in her questioning eyes proved this wouldn't be possible. But still Harry glanced back toward his cup before answering. "I stuffed up, Dromeda. I knew something important and I didn't tell her. I should have but it made sense at the time not to." Harry felt his head fall forward slightly in shame before continuing, "I wouldn't be surprised if she never talks to me again."

There was a long silence causing Harry to sneak a look at his companion. Andromeda for her part looked slightly confused.

"This doesn't have anything to do with Marcus Flint?" Andromeda's words swept over Harry causing him to involuntarily harsh laugh and shake his head. Truthfully Harry was unsure what to think about that development. It seemed very strange but Hermione was the strongest, most compassionate person Harry knew. If she had judged Marcus Flint of all people as worth getting to know, Harry certainly wished he could sit the man down for a talk.

"No, I wish this was about Flint. Let's just say I was a bad friend and very wrong." Harry looked the women he had come to greatly respect since the war in the eye. "I don't know how to fix this." It was true, Harry had spent a lot of time wondering if there was a way to make this mistake up to Hermione. Ginny felt the same, missing her friend and Ron was mortified that Hermione knew the truth. Well, Ron had expressed this fact to Harry and Ginny the couple of times he had seen them since the incident. Despite knowing the fault of Hermione's anger lied with him, Harry was having trouble not being angry with his other best mate and he knew Ron was aware of this and avoiding him because of it. The whole bloody thing was a shambles; leaving Harry with a horrible feeling of despair he hadn't felt since the war. He couldn't even protect Hermione from the crazy media frenzy her new relationship was creating afraid that anything he said would be taken out of context. With a sigh he once again looked toward Andromeda, whose face expressed concern.

"I could have a talk with her if you would like? She is bringing Marcus to meet Teddy and I when they are back from Sri Lanka."

"No!" Harry shook his head quickly, before realising his tone had been very loud and calming himself. "No, Andromeda you don't want to be a part of this. I will fix it- I just have to think of how." And he would fix this rift, because he couldn't lose Hermione or imagine a life without her in it.

Wednesday March 6th 2002, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, Diagon Alley, Hermione Granger's POV

Hermione snickered as she watched Neville Longbottom tentatively pick up a tiny pink baby dress with a look worry that it may suddenly bite him.

"Please tell me you would never put a baby in something like this." Her snicker turned to full laughter at the hideous little dress covered completely in lace, frills and bows.

"Surely if you and Hannah ever have a daughter you would want to dress her like a princess."

A slight blush rose on his cheeks. "Hannah and I aren't ready for that yet."

With another small chuckle Hermione began a research through a rack of more neutral coloured infant clothing. "Stop looking at girls clothes anyway Neville- we don't even know if Rolf said the babies name was Lysander or Lysandra."

Hermione and Marcus had been woken the night before to a massive silvery Rhinoceros storming into the bedroom yelling in Rolf Scamander's voice that Luna had given birth to the twins and Hermione was a godmother to one of them. Notwithstanding the considerable excitement and happiness Rolf must have felt to create such a Patronus, the spell was not designed to travel across continents, and the message was fractured in tone. Coupled with the 2am surprise wake up and Marcus's cursing Hermione could not make out the gender of her new godchild. Conference with Neville Longbottom, her godfather counterpart this morning proved he was in as much of a quandary as Hermione. Luna and Rolf were un-contactable and as such no help. Luna had been determined to continue their current mission of fighting against the illegal poaching of Demiguise creatures used to create invisibility cloaks for the black market. They were due home at the end of the week but clearly the twins had arrived earlier than expected and Hermione hoped both Luna and the babies were fine. So now herself and Neville were biding their time waiting for news while looking for an appropriate outfit for the baby to wear at the magical binding 'naming ceremony'. Hermione had recently learned that according to Wizarding tradition, the godparents brought an outfit and item of jewellery to be infused with a protection spell for young magical children. Neville had taken great delight in telling Hermione the story of how his family had finally found out he was magical and not a squib, when his Great Uncle had dropped him out of a second story window and he bounced showing his early childhood protection spell worked. Hermione thought the story was barbaric and terrifying child abuse, but refrained out of politeness from letting Neville know her opinion.

Turning to once again to look though the rack of tiny garments she had previously been searching, Hermione noticed a couple of witches staring at her and whispering amongst themselves. This type of reaction was not new to Hermione; she had encountered it on an almost daily basis since the end of the war. However for the few weeks since she and Marcus went public the hushed whispers which managed to reached her ears included words like, 'Marcus Flint', 'strange', 'unbelievable', 'romantic' and 'such a shame'. The Wizarding World had gone crazy at the news of Hermione and Marcus, and not just in England. When they had looked forward to the possibility of some privacy during the latest World Cup match in Sri Lanka only a week ago, it had been a disappointing miscalculation. The entire world it seemed both loved and hated the story of Marcus and Hermione and the public were split into 3 distinct groups much to the couples annoyance and slight amusement. The first group consisted mostly of Purebloods who were horrified. The second were those who thought Marcus was a rebound from Ronald Weasley, and they either supported or looked down on Hermione because of it. The third believed the whole affair was terribly romantic and treated the couple like some sort of tragic drama that was destined to end in tragedy. Hermione and Marcus thought the whole thing was stupid and bemoaned the invention of the printing press. The stories published daily were completely fictitious and often extremely disturbing, especially after some bright reporter noticed Hermione no longer spent any time with Harry, Ginny or Ron.

The stories had got wilder and wilder. Marcus had her under a love potion, they had secretly married on some tropical island, she had been having an affair with Marcus while with Ron and Harry had found out about it. The last one had appeared only last week and had angered Hermione so much she had considered taking legal action against the Daily Prophet. But then surprisingly both Harry and Ron had publicly expressed that this story was a complete lie and that they were 'happy' for her and Marcus. This public declaration of acceptance from them had sent Hermione into an internal dilemma of confused sadness. She was still furious at both of them but deep in her heart she missed her friends despite how wonderfully accepting Marcus group had been. It was an amazing Marcus who got her though most the crazy month. Hermione could see how hard he was trying and really thought Marcus did an amazing job of being supportive but not overpowering or clingy. She enjoyed that they were so different, that they challenged as much as they complemented each other.

"We have to get this one."

Hermione was pulled from her thoughts and a boring murky green baby garment in her hand by Neville, again looking in his direction to observe the man who this time was holding a white baby wizarding robes with dark blue writing displaying 'Beware! I'm cuter then devils snare'. Hermione was quite sure she blinked aimlessly in disbelief a couple of times, before she was finally able to respond.

"Neville- that makes no sense."

"Of course it does, the baby is so cute you get trapped to do whatever it wants."

"Devil's snare suffocates you to death."

"That's just getting technical, Hermione."

This concluding statement caused Hermione to gape at her friend in disbelief before she decided this might be an inside Herbologist thing, like Hagrid believing a real dragon would make a great pet. Shaking her head and returning toward her abandoned rack of clothes only to be once again pulled away from her search, this time by a well recognised voice Hermione had thankfully not herd since the Battle of Hogwarts. While no longer screeching Pansy Parkinson's tone was still full of maliciousness and Hermione really didn't care why she was there or what she wanted.

"Granger, tell me you are not buying baby clothes because my cousin did something stupid."

Hermione turned to face the raven haired girl who was standing before her with hands on hips. That Pansy was Marcus cousin wasn't news to Hermione, although it had been a slight shock when told about it during a discussion over dinner where they each revealed there least favourite Slytherin and Gryffindor respectfully.

"I'm not interested, Parkinson. Go away." Hermione felt her eyebrow raise as the girl before her sneered.

"Stay away from my cousin. He is only using you to look good in the media and you're going to end up looking very stupid when he's done with you." A vindictive smile swept over Pansy's face before she continued, "and I'm looking forward to when that happens."

"Then why warn me away from Marcus now? Seems a little counterproductive to your spiteful plans for my ultimate downfall and embarrassment." Pansy's face went red as Hermione's words sunk in.

"Why you pathetic little Mu-"

"Pansy, enough!" Both Hermione and Pansy turned in surprise that someone had not only overheard their conversation but had intervened. Hermione noticed Pansy take a deep breath obviously recognising the intruder while Hermione furrowed her brow trying to identify three middle aged witches standing to her right. The lady who had spoken had long brown hair and was slightly in front of her two friends. Her gaze upon Pansy was ferocious although it softened considerably when her eyes fell on Hermione. She also looked familiar although Hermione couldn't place a name to the handsome face.

"Pansy, go home to your mother. Tell her to stop sending me abusive letters to the Manor, and as for you, I hope to never hear you speak that way about my son or Miss Granger ever again."

Pansy seemed stunned for a minute and looked to argue, but then appeared to think the better of it as she turned once more to scowl in Hermione's direction before huffing dramatically and walking straight toward the door of the shop. Pansy's departure caused Hermione to look again at the women whose identity she now suspected to be Marcus' mother.

"Miss Granger, my name is Accolade Flint. I am Marcus' mother, and it is truly a pleasure to finally meet you."

"It's lovely to meet you as well, Mrs Flint." Had she not been so adept in handling the unexpected due to her current work and war time experience, the arrival of Marcus' mother right after a confrontation with her old school nemesis might have made her flustered. This was the lady who had helped disown Andromeda and who Marcus and Tobias seemed to be strangely unhappy with at present. Yet she had just stood up for Hermione to her own niece which Hermione was aware in Pureblood circles was considered very rude. In no way would Hermione cower before her.

"I'm sorry for Pansy's words and assure you she was not telling the truth. I hoped Marcus would bring you to the Tower for tea but I understand he is angry with me presently." The lady sighed and shook her head before continuing. "Still I'm glad we will at least now be acquainted before Clarabelle's wedding. You are coming, of course?" Accolade Flint seemed surprising eager to have Hermione attend and there was a distinct sadness in her tone when discussing her son, which made Hermione feel for the lady.

Marcus had already asked Hermione to attend as his date in two weeks so she replied in the affirmative before Marcus mother left but not before inquiring about Marcus and hoping he and Hermione could come around to visit sometime. The short conversation left Hermione quite stunned and slightly concerned. She didn't know Accolade Flint at all but it was clear she was suffering though the anger of her son leaving Hermione not sure if it was her place or business to get involved.

Hello everyone. As is becoming a regular occurrence I'm sorry it takes me so long to write chapters. I have decided to never again make predictions about updates. I did not write a single line on holiday. The day after posting I woke up with a horrible flu like sickness, so needless to say, not my favourite holiday ever. Although I did demanded that sick or not I would go on a Siberian husky sled ride to at least do something fun!

Massive thanks to blue artemis for being a wonderful beta with wise advice.

Thanks for reading!

lady innogen