“Granger, are you asleep?” It was a half whisper.
“Hmmm,” Hermione mumbled, her voice muffled by the blanket and quilt pulled up so high over her shoulder they almost covered her face.
“I said, are you asleep?” Draco pushed himself up on one elbow and leaned over his wife, brushing the curls away from her face and kissing her cheek. Rolling onto her back, she opened her eyes and looked up into his gray ones.
“I was. Almost. Not anymore.” She could tell by the look in his eye he was thinking about something. He had that glint that little boys often got when they were plotting. She traced a finger down his chiseled cheek. “What are you up to?”
“What do you mean? I was just wondering how Potter and James are doing.” He wrapped a finger around one of her curls as he spoke. It was one of his favorite things to do.
“I talked to him, today, actually,” she replied. “They’re doing okay. Best as can be expected, I guess.” Hermione sighed and snuggled closer to her husband, feeling sad for her best friend-come brother.
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had gotten married shortly after she finished Hogwarts, as everyone expected, and little James came along soon after. Ginny hadn’t wanted to give up her Quidditch career and returned to playing when James was a few months old. But a freak accident during a game had left her husband a widower and her child motherless at a little more than a year old. There was extensive investigation into the accident and no one was deemed at fault. Of course that didn’t make it any less tragic. James had recently turned two and father and son had gotten back into a somewhat normal rhythm of life. Harry was a top notch auror and James spent his days with his grandparents at the Burrow.
“Do you think Harry’ll ever marry again?” Draco asked, wrapping his arms around her.
“It’s only been a year, Draco!”
“I know, but James doesn’t remember his mother. And a boy needs a mother, Hermione. Look at Potter. He grew up without either parent. Do you think he wants that for James?
Hermione thought on this. It was frighteningly ironic that Harry’s son had lost his mother at almost the same age as he had. Harry had no memories of his parents, save other people’s he’d seen in a pensieve.
“No, I don’t think so. But Ginny was the love of his life, Draco. How can he replace that?”
“I’m not saying replace her. But the heart can love more than once in a lifetime. Look at you. You were with the Weasel. Then you came to your senses and married me.” She could see the smirk on his face by the moonlight that streamed through the window of their bedroom and smacked his bare chest lightly, then soothed it with a kiss.
“True,” she admitted, her fingertips drawing random patterns on his skin. “The marrying part. I don’t know about the coming to my senses. People thought I’d lost them when I accepted your proposal.”
“So anyway, I was thinking we should invite him over for dinner. Without James. Give him an adult night out. And invite a few other friends. Like Blaise and Luna, Neville and Hannah, the Weasel and Lavender, Parkinson. Just a small party. We can have it here. Or at the manor if you prefer. Mother would be more than happy to help you plan it. You know she’s in her glory with menus and seating charts.”
“Draco Malfoy, do you want to set Harry up with Pansy?” Hermione hadn’t missed that the only person he listed that wasn’t part of a couple was Pansy Parkinson. Her husband avoided her eyes and toyed with the strap on her negligee.
She wasn’t that surprised. Pansy had become one of her closest friends other than Ginny. But she had focused on becoming a top fashion designer for both witches and muggle women alike, pushing her personal life to the back burner for the last several years. Pansy had designed Hermione’s wedding dress and made the cover of Witch Weekly with it, much to the bride’s dismay since the editors insisted she be the one to model it for the photograph. In the end, she was quite pleased, though, because the one they used was not any of the posed ones but a candid she didn’t even realize had been taken when Draco walked into the studio and she blew him a kiss across the room.
They had tried introducing Pansy to both wizards and muggle men but she hadn’t hit it off with any of them. Pansy had confided to Hermione recently she was afraid she would end up a spinster witch like Bathillda Bagshot. Maybe a dinner party wasn’t such a bad idea. Draco was right about giving Harry and adult night out. For the last year his life consisted of work and James.
“All right. Let’s have them all for dinner,” she agreed. “But here. And casual. Nothing fancy.”
Pleased that he’d gotten his way, Draco pulled her so Hermione was on her side again, spooned against his chest. He pressed a kiss to the back of her head.
“Good night, Granger.”
They planned the dinner party for a fortnight, to allow Harry time to get a sitter, even though Hermione knew Molly and Arthur would have taken their grandson the next hour if asked. She sent out owls two days after her and Draco’s late night conversation, emphasizing it was a casual gathering with dinner and some muggle games; her husband’s latest obsession. He had discovered muggle board games like Monopoly and Battleship, occasionally using magic to actually blow up the plastic ships, much to Hermione’s surprise and annoyance. Recently he became fascinated with the card games Uno and Exploding Kittens, where he again, would covertly use magic to cause the cards to explode without warning. For the party, he came home with a new card game called Cards Against Humanity.
“I heard people talking about it when I was getting coffee the other day, Granger. It sounds like a lot of fun,” he told her, even going as far to show her a review of the game from a Muggle magazine that called it ‘an adult, and sometimes highly inappropriate version of the popular game Apples to Apples.’
“We’ve played Apples to Apples and you liked that,” he said, when she looked skeptical.
“I will reserve judgement,” she told him.
After about a week, they had heard back from everyone except the two people for whom the night was planned. Hermione appeared in the doorway of Harry’s office one afternoon, bearing two cups of tea, a treacle tart for him and a blueberry scone for her.
“Time for a break?” she said, holding up the carrier with the drinks in one hand and the bakery bag in the other.
He looked at his watch and sighed. “Is it that late? Yes, actually. I’m starved.”
“You worked through lunch again, didn’t you?” she accused gently, putting everything down on his desk and sitting in the chair opposite him.
Harry removed the lid from his tea and took a long drink, then a bite of the tart before answering.
“I’ve been trying to leave earlier, so I can bathe James and give him dinner instead of Molly doing it every night.” He took off his glasses and rubbed his forehead. “So I work through lunch.”
“Why don’t you pack a lunch so you can eat at your desk at least?” Hermione suggested.
“That’s a really good idea,” he said, popping the last of the tart in his mouth. “I’ll try to remember to do that. But you didn’t stop by just to have tea with me, did you?”
“No.” She took a sip of her own tea. “You haven’t responded to my invitation to dinner. Are you coming?”
Harry leaned back in his chair, looking a little more relaxed with some food in his stomach. “Oh, I don’t know, Hermione. I don’t know if I’m up for a dinner party.”
“It’s not a dinner party, Harry. It’s just some friends getting together to have dinner and play some silly muggle games that my husband finds fascinating. He found a new one, by the way. It’s called Cards Against Humanity. Have you heard of it?”
“Actually, I have,” he chuckled. “Leave it to Malfoy to discover that game. Have you played it yet?”
“So you’re coming?” she smiled at him.
“Who else is going to be there again?” Harry asked.
“Oh, just Blaise and Luna, Ron and Lavender and Neville and Hannah.”
He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his auror robes. “Hermione, you know that means I’ll be the only person there without a partner.”
“Well, actually,” she began.
Across town, Pansy Parkinson was saying the same thing to her former housemate.
“Merlin’s saggy balls, Draco, I’m the only single person you’ve invited!”
They were sitting in her office at her dress shop, the room strewn with bolts of fabric and the walls covered with pieces of parchment with drawings in various stages of completion. Her raven hair was piled atop her head in a messy bun and her fingers were stained by the charcoal pencils she used for her drawings.
Draco smirked at her language. Pansy always had a more colorful vocabulary compared to the other girls at Hogwarts. Pushing back a pile of fabric that threatened to topple onto him from the other side of the couch he was sitting, he hitched the leg of his trousers to cross his legs, an ankle casually resting on his opposite knee.
“Wrong, Parkinson. Potter is coming.”
“Harry’s not single! His wife’s dead.” She stopped when she realized how bad that actually sounded once the words were out of her mouth. “I mean, I’m sure he’s not looking to start dating any time soon.”
“It’s been a year since Ginny died,” Draco reminded her. “James is two now.”
“It doesn’t seem that long already. That poor little boy.” Pansy smiled sadly.
“So you’re coming, then?” He changed the subject back to the reason he’d stopped by to see her. “I found a new game for us to play.” Of all their friends, Pansy had also developed a fondness for Muggle games.
“Really? What?” she asked.
“Huh-uh.” Draco shook his blonde head and stood. As he did, the fabric that had threatened to fall before, collapsed into a bright puddle onto the cushions where he’d been sitting. “You have to come and find out.”
“Fine,” Pansy huffed in mock anger. “Just for the game. And only because I love you.”
“I’m going to tell Granger you said that,” he grinned at her and she flipped him off before blowing him a kiss as he left her office.
Pansy heard him say goodbye to the salesclerks in the store and the bell tinkle on the door as he left. Resting her chin in her hand, she looked at the drawing she’d been working on before Draco darkened her doorway without seeing it. She really was getting tired of being the only one of her friends who was still single. Is that what she got for wanting to to make a name for herself in the fashion industry instead of settling down young? Or was she just undesirable and unlovable?