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My Brightest Star

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The moment the Hogwarts Express rounded the corner and appeared into view, Hermione felt her wife relax next to her. Narcissa had been antsy all day and hadn’t stood still for a moment ever since they arrived at platform 9 ¾. She’d been pacing like a madwoman while Hermione had been visibly calmer. Funny, the brunette mused, how Narcissa was always so poised except when it came to their daughter.

‘Do you think she’ll be happy to see us?’

‘She’s always happy to see us,’ Hermione said with a slight undertone of amusement, ‘you know she is.’

Narcissa nodded. Even though Carina had been quite a handful at times during her puberty, she’d never been unkind to her mothers, albeit a bit unreasonable once and a while. Luckily for Hermione’s nerves, said puberty had been short and powerful and Carina had quickly returned to her sweet self. No more moodswings and random crying, Hermione thought, no, now it was boyfriends.

‘She didn’t want to come home for Christmas this year,’ Narcissa pushed and Hermione rolled her eyes.

‘Only because her boyfriend was staying at Hogwarts. The moment I suggested he could celebrate with us, she changed her mind.’

The blonde witch pouted a little bit, ‘I don’t like being second choice.’

‘You’ll always be my first choice.’

Hermione kissed her wife’s cheek and felt her stomach flutter at the sight of the big red train coming to a steamy halt in the station. Their daughter coming home for the holidays was always a joyous occasion event though both mothers teased her by pretending they missed the peace and quiet the moment she arrived. 

‘I can’t see her yet,’ Narcissa tiptoed and craned her neck to spot the head of platinum blonde hair that was so unmistakably their daughter’s. 

‘You know she dislikes crowds. She’ll be out last.’

Hermione’s words were of little comfort to Narcisa who desperately wanted to see her daughter who attended her sixth year at Hogwarts. Time really did fly and she cherished the moments they were all together. It had been decided after all that Carina would take up an apprenticeship in France with a rather famous wizard-inventor. The Ravenclaw witch was adept at fabricating new magical objects and spells and wanted to pursue a career in it. She’d be staying with her older brother Draco who lived there with his wife and son and Narcissa would miss her terribly.

‘Maman!’

Narcissa startled from her own thoughts at her daughter’s voice and was just in time to catch the witch that flung herself into her arms.  Feeling grateful for the warm reunion and remembering the times when Carina thought hugging her moms in public was rather embarrassing, Narcissa squeezed her tightly.

‘Hello darling, how was your trip?’

The blonde withdrew from the hug and looked into those bright amber eyes their daughter had somehow inherited from Hermione despite leaving all the Healers at St. Mungo’s rather baffled by it. Something about the merging of magic during pregnancy? Narcissa didn’t care. 

‘Tedious. I’d put my earbuds in my trunk so I had a hard time blocking out everyone’s thoughts without them.’

‘I thought you barely needed those anymore,’ Hermione laughed when she opened her arms for Carina who beamed at her.

‘True, but you know how hard it is when people are excited. They don’t just think their thoughts… they shout them.’

Narcissa nodded knowing all to well what Carina was talking about and turned to the young wizard who’d appeared beside them. He extended his one hand while loosening the yellow tie around his neck with the other.

‘Aidan Finnigan, ma’am. Pleasure to finally meet you.’

‘We’ve heard a lot about you mister Finnigan,’ Narcissa smiled while shaking the offered hand.

Hermione broke her daughter’s embrace and followed her wife’s example, ‘indeed, how’s your father? I must admit I’ve lost touch with Seamus a little bit after the third war reunion.’

‘He sends his regards. Him and mother are currently in Russia so he was delighted to hear I’d be spending Christmas with a former classmate of his.’

‘Draco told me about him. I remember his appetite for fire and explosions,’ Narcissa joined in polite conversation and Aidan laughed.

‘I think that’s partly why he and mother decided to travel the world a bit after he nearly burnt down one third of Ireland. By accident so he claims.’

Hermione looked at Narcissa talking to the young wizard with practised ease and felt a wave of fondness wash over her. How that woman managed to charm anyone who approached her was beyond her understanding. Suddenly she felt a hand slip into her own and she entwined her fingers with Carina’s.

‘He seems like a charming young man.’

‘You don’t mind that he’s a Hufflepuff?’

The Gryffindor witch huffed, ‘honestly Carina, why in Merlin’s name would I care?’

‘Would maman care?’

Hermione sighed and halted in her steps, forcing her daughter to look at her. When amber eyes looked into amber eyes, Hermione pulled up her Occlumency shields while Carina ignored her Legilimency. A courtesy they granted each other all the time to ensure everyone’s right of private thoughts.

‘You know she won’t. She’s a proud Slytherin, but that’s the only remnant of the old Narcissa that remained.’

Carina chuckled, ‘you’re probably right. I don’t know why I made a fuss but Aidan was a bit nervous when he heard who my parents were. When he introduced himself to me, he didn’t start with his name but with his blood-status.’

‘Oh lord,’ Hermione laughed, ‘bit awkward.’

‘I just want you two to like him.’

Hermione looked at the blonde witch who laughed at something the Hufflepuff wizard had said and smiled, ‘he’s the first boy you ever brought home. That means something Carina. I’m sure we’ll like him.’

The young witch that had almost outgrown both her mothers smiled, ‘at least all the Hogwarts houses are represented now.’

They laughed before joining Aidan standing next to Narcissa who apparated them all home. Carina squealed when she saw the cheerful decorations and the huge table that seemed set for nearly twenty people. Her equally blonde mother wrapped her arms around her middle and rested her chin on her daughter’s shoulder.

‘I know the party isn’t for a few days, but I didn’t want to waste time decorating when you were here. I’ve missed you.’

‘I’ve missed you too, maman. How many people are coming?’

Narcissa sighed, ‘probably more than my cooking skills can manage. Some of the guests have asked to stay the night as well so it might be a bit cramped here.’

Carina turned around in her mother’s embrace so she could look her in the eyes and shuffled her feet nervously, ‘perhaps Aidan and I can sleep together? That’s at least one extra room for guests.’

Before Narcissa could reply Hermione strode into the room, ‘before I forget, I’m under strict instructions to send you two to Andie to moment we got home. So off you pop. She’s expecting you and Aidan.’

‘Aunty Andie is going to interrogate you,’ Carina told her boyfriend after a girlish giggle, ‘but remember what I told you. She likes to pretend she’s all tough and scary while in reality she’s the biggest softie.’

‘I haven’t gotten time to change into something else,’ Aidan protested but Hermione shook her head, ‘her own daughter and grandson were in Hufflepuff, she’d be delighted.’

Carina nodded enthusiastically before practically dragging her boyfriend into the Floo and disappearing in a whoosh of green flames. The moment the house got silent again, Narcissa pinched the bridge of her nose.

‘You saved me just in time. She asked to share a room with Aidan.’

‘We both knew that question was coming. I’ve talked it over with his parents and they’re fine with it as long as we are.’

Narcissa sighed in defeat, ‘one day I’m going to have to admit that our little girl isn’t so little anymore, but this still feels a bit strange to me.’

‘Better with permission under our own roof so they feel safe and come to us if they have questions than somewhere sneaky with unpleasant consequences,’ Hermione offered as an argument and judging by the way her wife rolled her eyes, she knew she’d won.

‘Very well. But do you think I should have the talk with her again?’

‘Cissa, you’ve put her through that embarrassment twice already. I’m sure she knows the specifics by now. Did you fuss about this as much with Draco as well?’

‘That’s not the same. He was a boy so I told him to respect women and to treat them kindly. Our star is a girl and whether I’m loathe to admit it, she’s more vulnerable.’

‘But Aidan seems like a really nice guy.’

Narcissa smiled at that, ‘that we agree on. I knew she was smitten with him judging by her letters, but after witnessing how she looks at him? It’s quite endearing really.’

‘You used to look at me like that,’ Hermione said with feigned melancholy. 

‘I still do, but perhaps you don’t notice it anymore.’

Hermione grinned before kissing the blonde witch slowly and deeply, ‘how about we bring their suitcases to Carina’s room and prepare some tea? Andie didn’t really expect them so soon, but I saw the panic in your eyes when Carina asked that question and I wanted to save you. I’m sure they’ll be back soon.’

Narcissa took a brown curl between her fingers and twirled it before tucking it behind Hermione’s ear, ‘only you can see a panic attack behind the cold blue in my eyes. Only you see the emotions behind the ice queen façade,’ she mused before kissing her wife again and again.

***
‘What’s that you’re reading?’ Hermione asked when Carina came downstairs holding a letter and smiling like a buffoon at it.

‘A letter from Aidan thanking us for the lovely days he spent here. He hopes he can visit us again someday.’

Narcissa poked her head around the door from the kitchen, ‘he was a lovely boy. He’s welcome here anytime!’

Carina beamed and settled with Hermione on the couch while Narcissa finished their cups of hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. It was their own little Christmas tradition where they snuggled up in front of the fire with a hot beverage to reflect on the past year and listen to Narcissa sing a few songs. It was the only time of year she indulged her wife and daughter for she never sang when anyone could hear her. 

They always had a big party, but after the last guest had gone home, the little family made time for themselves. Carina had insisted Aidan went back to Hogwarts for she was not ready just yet to share this moment with an outsider. The Ravenclaw witch had spend nearly all days with her boyfriend, but now she relished in the warmth of her mothers’ arms. Carina sighed when Narcissa settled next to her as well and combed her fingers through her platinum tresses. 

‘So… did you enjoy sharing a room with a wizard?’

Hermione rolled her eyes at her wife’s lack of subtlety. How she got so skilled in etiquette and international relations and co-operations was beyond her. Carina snorted.

‘Honestly maman, if that’s your way to ask whether something happened, it’s quite pathetic. And don’t worry, you won’t become a grandmother a second time soon.’

Relief washed over Narcissa’s face, but Hermione embraced her daughter a bit tighter, ‘is everything okay?’

‘Oh yes, Aidan is quite the gentleman but I don’t seem to be able to shut out his thoughts when we… you know. It’s embarrassing really but we laughed about it. He says he’ll wait until I’m ready. I don’t want to use my earbuds for it. I want it to be real.’

‘As long as you know you can always come to us.’

Carina nodded, ‘I know. I love you both so much! Now, where’s my hot coco?’

With a flick of Hermione’s wrist the fire fizzled to life a bit more and all three witches drew up their feet clad in ugly Christmas socks and tucked them underneath the blanket. Narcissa kissed her daughter’s nose before starting to sing. Her usually cold voice now rang softly throughout their home and they all enjoyed each other’s company, thinking about the past and dreaming about the future, knowing they’d stay like that until Carina had fallen asleep into her mothers’ embrace. Safe and sound.