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The Black Prophecy

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Hermione woke up on Christmas Eve expecting to have day like those that preceded it. She intended to get up and go back to her castle. Bella roused early, she presumed to go attend to the Dark Lord’s business. Hermione had been too asleep when the dark witch kissed her on the forehead to even think about asking where she was going. The sun was halfway up the sky by the time Hermione made her way downstairs to get something to eat before she left. On her way down the stairs, she met Draco who insisted she come have a late breakfast with he and his mother. Not being in any particular hurry, she agreed. The castle would still be there in an hour, and witty banter before noon was one of her favorite pastimes with her blonde friends.

“So nice of you to join the living, Miss MacCarthy,” Narcissa uttered in a formal tone, a parody of her public self.

Catching the underlying humor, Hermione smoothly replied, “Madame Malfoy, a pleasure as always to see you well. You look ravishing. Where did you purchase your dress? It’s simply magnificent.”

“You may survive the New Year’s ball after all. Your impersonation of a socialite is really coming along. But you must attempt to not roll your eyes,” the older witch said in a serious tone, but the twinkle in her eyes suggested the game was still afoot.

“I hate to interrupt your fun, ladies, but Hermione what were you planning on doing today,” Draco asked as he poured tea for them both.

“Nothing special really. I was just planning on returning to Timoleague and reading or exploring.”

“I don’t mean to deter you, but I wondered if you’d stay. I fancy a duel.”

“Draco… I don’t know. Without Bella here?”

“Oh you are scared then? I understand you don’t see how you can best me. You needn’t hide behind my aunt if you are afraid to duel me. You can simply tell me. I know how pureblood women are… fragile things,” he replied tauntingly. He learned quickly how to get a rise out of the young woman. Her years of fighting for respect due to her believed blood status made her defensive about her magical abilities and knowledge.

“You know I am not afraid of you, blondie. It’s the protective curly headed Death Eater that worries me. She had you acting as guard dog while we were just shopping.”

“I can deal with my sister,” Narcissa interjected. “I am just as capable of playing referee and healer as she is. I’m actually a much better healer. She’s never been patient enough to learn properly. She has… other strengths.”

Slightly perplexed at the Malfoy’s insistence that she stay and play war, Hermione agreed. Not dressed to play in the snow, the three went their separate ways to change. Hermione decided that if she was going to be challenged so openly that she would dress for it. From her ever-growing closet she selected a flexible pair of dark wash jeans. They would be comfortable and easy to move in. She was still getting accustomed to the dresses and other outfits Narcissa picked out for her. For footwear she selected her current favorite pair of soft black leather boots that came up to just below her knee. Pulling on a solid black shirt and a thick black cloak she took in her appearance in the mirror. Pulling her hair into a bun to keep it out of her face, she decided she looked fierce enough to throw Draco off.

Little did he know how much she had been practicing. When she wasn’t reading, she practiced the dueling spells Bella taught her over and over again. While the older witch was impressed with her first performance, Hermione was a bit disappointed. She didn’t like the feeling of not being the best. When she talked with Bella about it later, the witch had told her that there was too much thinking and not enough feeling in her magic. In order to be the best she needed to channel her emotions and let it just flow through her. She knew the spells and they would come faster and with more strength if she just let go. Turning on her heel she swept down the stairs to the veranda exit from the house. Doing her best impression of Bellatrix’s confident walk, she approached the mother and son. Draco’s eyes widened before his face settled into a smirk. Narcissa took in her appearance more slowly, until she met the girl’s eyes. Nodding her approval of the outfit, she ushered the teenagers outside into the crunchy white snow.

Hermione cast a quick spell to keep her jeans and shirt dry before discarding the robe, knowing it would inhibit movement. Wand in hand Narcissa led them into the gardens, warning them,

“I expect you to duel by the same rules as you did with my sister, only I actually plan on enforcing them. Oh, I expect proper etiquette.”

Hermione and Draco made eye contact before sharing a smile and sinking into dramatically low bows, acquiescing to the matriarch’s request. With Narcissa’s command to begin, Draco immediately threw a volley of spells. Clearing her mind, Hermione smoothly deflected each one. She fired off a spell to land just in front of Draco’s feet making him jump and run to find something to use as a shield. Looking vaguely bored she followed confidently after him. She couldn’t see the spell, but blocked the stupefy spell before her brain fully processed what her wand did. Annoyed by the indirect attack, she blew apart the hedge Draco was hiding behind and hit him with a locomotor mortis, freezing his legs. A quick expelliarmus later, Draco’s 10’ hawthorn wood wand was in her left hand with her wand still pointed her direction. Breathlessly Draco shouted

“Oi, Hermione when did you get so good? You had my number from the beginning. It was like fighting my aunt.”

“I’ve been practicing. And yes, emulating your aunt.”

“I was under the impression that your dueling skills were not this advanced,” Narcissa interrupted. “There were several moments you had the opportunity to do real damage. Perhaps instead of beating up on my precious little Draco,” she continued, teasing the boy for his quick defeat, “you should duel with someone a bit closer to your level.”

“Do you have someone in mind?” Hermione replied playfully. Narcissa’s intent to make up for Draco’s missteps in the duel were written all over her beautiful face, but Hermione couldn’t resist teasing her just a bit. She had no idea what skill level she would be facing and any physiological advantage she could gain would be important.

“In spite of the wide spread rumors that I am nothing more that a well kept housewife, I assure you I have considerable skills.”

“Alright then, let’s see what you’ve got,” Hermione said intentionally impersonating Bellatrix’s taunting childish voice she was so famous for during battle.

“Mum, are you certain there isn’t polyjuice involved. She is dead on for Aunt Bella.”

“I am confident Hermione is simply a master at mimicking my sister. They have been thicker than thieves the past few weeks.” Turning to Hermione she stalked towards her “But you’ve never really fought her have you? Let’s see how you do against someone with full control over their powers.”

Like with Draco, Hermione allowed Narcissa to make the first advance to gauge the power of her spells. She deflected the first two quickly enough to get one of her own in. Hermione began to gain ground. As she prepared to disarm the blonde, Narcissa hit her with a strong stupefy sending her sprawling backwards. Groaning at the overconfidence of her plan, she rolled over to pick herself up quickly.

For the better part of half an hour Hermione kept Narcissa at bay and even managed to hit her, but eventually she was backed in a corner and the blonde obtained her wand.

Seemingly pleased with the performance of the young witch, Narcissa handed her wand back. The rest of the morning, Narcissa continued the lessons where Bellatrix left off. Draco and Hermione faced off again for the last practice duel of the day. Hermione was much more exhausted than the Slytherin. She fought every match without a break, as the two blondes switched back and forth.

Bellatrix and Lucius stepped out on the veranda to witness the last round of spells being exchanged between the two teens. Judging from body language, Draco thought he had the victory within his grasp as he strode towards Hermione who attempted to right herself after falling to the ground. He paused just long enough to verbally taunt the young witch. With a small flick of her wrist his wand jumped silently into her waiting hands.

Walking down to meet the panting red-faced teens, Bella clapped slowly.

“I see you’ve lost to my favorite pupil, nephew.”

“But I thought I was your favorite?” he replied whining falsely.

“That’s actually the 4th loss for him today,” Hermione said smiling brightly. Leaning in conspiratorially she continued, “Your noble sister even found herself disarmed by my wand a time or two.”

“And you question who is my favorite, Draco?”

“It’s just because you want to snog her!” he quickly replied while dodging the playful slap aimed at his shoulder.

“Come children,” Lucius said playfully to the other four, “it’s lunch time.”


 

The family spent the afternoon lounging in the library indulging in each other’s company, tea, and wine. It was just another wonderful day in the company of Hermione’s new friends.

After the sun sank below the horizon, the group hovered on the brink of going their separate ways for the evening. Before the group dispersed, Narcissa said,

“I want to talk about plans for tomorrow, since Hermione doesn’t know our traditions yet, and Bella, they have changed over the last fifteen years. We will have a lazy morning and afternoon. Do as you please. We will have our Christmas dinner at seven and will open presents afterwards. Everyone clear?”

Two blonde heads and two brunette heads bobbed in agreement before the groups floated away for a pleasant night nestled beneath warm blankets to fight off the December cold.