The next few weeks passed by so quickly that Hermione barely had anytime to do any research as she was so overwhelmed with her school work.
By the time she was able to actually think twice about going to the library to try and figure out what the mysterious objects were it was the day she had to leave for Christmas break and she only had time to check out one book before she boarded the Hogwarts express with her friends.
Hermione was very excited for the holidays though. For one she would be able to see her parents again who she had missed dearly, and if she was being honest she was probably most excited for the Malfoy’s Christmas ball and being able to see Tom.
She had sent a letter home to her parents some weeks ago asking if it was alright to go to the ball and if they wanted to come as well.
Her parents had agreed and were also intending to come along as Narcissa had personally invited them when she had caught up for lunch with her mother.
“Do you know if your going to stay the night on Christmas eve yet?” Draco ask her.
“Not yet, I haven’t really talked about it with my parents but I will as soon as I get home and let you know.” Hermione said looking up from her book and across at Draco.
“Well it would be really cool if you could.” Draco said grinning.
“Yeah Hermione please stay.” Theo said from beside her.
“It won’t be half as much fun without you.” Blaise said whilst Vincent and Greg nodded along eagerly.
Hermione smiled, touched by her friends. She’d never had as many friends as this before and she couldn’t help but think how lucky she was.
“Okay I’ll try my best, I promise.” She said grinning around at her friends seated in the compartment.
Once the train pulled up to the station and Hermione had gotten her things she waved goodbye to her friends and looked for her parents.
“Hermione!” Her mother shouted waving at her from across the platform her father smiling broadly next to her.
Hermione ran towards them and jumped into her mother’s awaiting arms..
“I’ve missed you guys so much!” Hermione said, her words slightly muffled from being squeezed so tightly by her mother.
“We’ve missed you to pumpkin.” Her father said pulling her in for a hug.
On the car ride home Hermione told her parents all about Hogwarts, her new friends, what her favourite classes were and everything in between.
Talk soon turned to the up coming Christmas eve ball at the Malfoy’s.
“Oh please will you let me stay the night mum, Narcissa has said it’s fine if I do and all my friends are going to be there, and I can come home early in the morning.” Hermione pleaded as she was setting the dinner table.
Her mother and father glanced at one another questioningly.
“Well I suppose as Narcissa has okayed it then it’s fine with us…” Her mother said not getting to finish her sentence though as Hermione had started cheering.
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!” Hermione shouted happily.
“But you are coming home in the morning, you can have breakfast with the Malfoy’s if they offer but after that you can come home and spend the day here.” Her father added.
“I will I promise!” She said sitting gown and grabbing some food.
“I suppose we’ll have to go shopping as well and get you a dress to wear as I doubt any of the ones here will do.” Her mother said.
Hermione nodded her head in agreement already knowing the exact colour she wanted.
It was Christmas eve and Hermione was nervously fidgeting with the hem of her dress.
Draco had sent her a letter telling her that someone would be coming at 7.30pm to collect her and her parents and apparate them to the Manor.
Hermione glanced at the clock on the living room wall that showed the time as 7.25.
If she had to admit it the reason she was so nervous was because it was her first time in seeing Tom in so long, and this time it would be in front of a room full of people, including her parents and new friends.
It was another few minutes before there was the sound of a knock on the door and her father got up to answer it.
Hermione’s mouth dropped open in astonishment.
In the doorway stood an impeccably dressed Tom, wearing magnificent dress robes as black as the night sky and with his hair styled handsomely.
“Good evening, my name is Tom, I’m a friend of Lucius and Narcissa’s and here to take you to the party.” He said eloquently, holding out his hand to her father.
“My name’s Richard and this is my wife Jean and our daughter Hermione.” Her father said gesturing to her and her mother before shaking Tom’s hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Tom said bowing formerly and kissing her mothers hand.
Hermione watched eyes wide as he then made his way over to her.
“What a wonderful name, it’s a pleasure to meet you Hermione.” Tom said a slight smirk on his face that only she could see.
Hermione blushed as he kissed her hand as well before he stood back up.
“Well we should get going otherwise Narcissa will have my head for being so late.” Tom said humorously.
Hermione took a hold of Tom’s outstretched hand as did her parents before she felt a pull and a tight squeeze in her stomach before she landed roughly back on her feet.
“God what in the world was that!” She heard her father say, his face slightly green.
“It’s called apparation, not the most pleasant of ways to travel but arguably the quickest.” Tom said guiding them in the direction of the Manor.
Hermione and her mother gasped at the sight of it. The manor could hardly be called a house as it was more like a mansion, complete with tall towers illuminated by the moonlight and surrounded by lavish gardens that were lit by floating lanterns for party goers to be able to take a stroll through.
The sound of music and laughter grew as they neared the manor, Tom escorting her down the pathway to the front door.
“You look beautiful.” She heard him whisper, just loud enough so she could hear it.
Hermione was thankful that it was dark enough so Tom couldn’t see her blush but was glad that he liked her dress. It was the colour of a beautiful moss green and made of velvet that came just above her knees and had sleeves down to her wrists. Although it was simple, Hermione had loved the feel of it and the colour reminded her instantly of Tom. She had known it was the right one almost immediately upon seeing it.
Along with her dress she had worn some delicate silver shoes and her mother had helped her style her hair in soft waves rather than her usual frizzy look. She had also given her a beautiful silver hair clasp to pin some of her hair away from her face.
“Thank you, you look very handsome as well.” She whispered back as they made their way through the front entrance.
Tom led them down a few corridors before they finally made it to the source of the music. Hermione looked around in awe finding herself in a large ballroom. The room was easily the size of the great hall, however much more beautifully decorated. A Christmas tree that just about touched the ceiling and seemed to be covered in snow and silver ornaments was situated in one corner. In the other was a large banquet table of delicious looking food and drinks with waiters in white robes minding it. Next to the table was a stage and sitting atop it were five witches and wizards each playing different instruments in tune to a Christmas carol and in the centre was a large dance floor filled with many gorgeously dressed adults swaying elegantly to the music. Hermione also noticed a large silver chandelier hanging from the ceiling that seemed to be in the shape of dripping icicles and had what appeared to be snowflakes falling from it but which disappeared before they touched the ground.
“It’s breath taking.” She said marvelling at the sight.
“I’m so glad you think so, I was worried it wasn’t enough.”
Hermione turned around to see a smiling Narcissa Malfoy dressed in a gorgeous sparkling silver dress that came past her ankles, with Lucius on her side who was dressed in a silvery grey tux to match his wife.
“It’s amazing Narcissa really.” Her mother said appreciatively.
“Thank you it was all Lucius idea really, he inspired me to do silver as this years theme.” She said smiling affectionally at her husband.
“I see you’ve met our friend Tom here.” Lucius said gesturing to the tall wizard and giving Hermione a sly wink.
Hermione blushed yet again and wondered if it was going to be a customary occurrence around Tom and the Malfoy’s.
“Oh yes he was simply lovely.” Her mother said smiling to Tom who just inclined his head in response.
“Tom dear why don’t you take Hermione over to where Draco and his friends are they were over by the food last I saw.” Narcissa said pointing over to the large table and grinning down at her.
Tom held out his hand and hesitantly Hermione took it as he led her through the sea of people.
“I’ve missed you Mia.” He said leaning down so she could hear him over the music.
“I’ve missed you as well.” Hermione said smiling up at him and trying her best not to hug him.
Her gaze however was pulled away by the shout of her name.
“Hermione!” Draco shouted running up to her and Tom and dressed equally as handsome.
“Hi Draco, Merry Christmas.” She said grinning broadly.
“Merry Christmas to you to… hello Tom.” Draco said looking up at him.
“Draco, how’s your night been so far, keeping out of trouble?” Tom said raising an eyebrow skeptically.
Draco smirked clearly he’d been doing just the opposite.
“Well I’ll leave you with your friends Hermione, but I do want you to promise me a dance tonight.” Tom said looking down at her a small smile on his lips.
Hermione nodded, not being able to find the words to reply, before Tom gave her another kiss on the hand and turned around and went back the way they had come.
“Come on I’ll introduce you to some of my other friends!” Draco said pulling on her sleeve for her to follow him.
Draco led her to a small group of children sitting around a small table. Hermione instantly noticed the faces of Theo, Blaise, Greg and Vince and ran to give each one a hug. Also sitting with them however where two girls Hermione didn’t know.
“Hermione these are my friend’s Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass.” Draco said pointing to the two girls.
“Pans, Daph this is Hermione.” He said pulling out a chair for Hermione before he to sat down next to Greg.
“Hi Hermione, it’s good to finally meet you.” Daphne said smiling kindly at her.
There was no other word to describer her, Daphne was gorgeous. She was wearing one of the prettiest dresses Hermione had ever seen, it was the colour of ice blue and made of lace and tule. Her hair was a light blonde colour and was styled into an intricate braid on one side.
“Hello, it’s good to meet you as well.” Hermione said returning her smile.
Next to Daphne sat a girl who was giving Hermione a scrutinising look and who Hermione presumed to be Pansy. She seemed to be the complete opposite of Daphne, however still beautiful. Pansy was wearing a black dress made of tule and silk with the bottom poofing out similar to that of Daphne’s, however only coming to her knees instead of her ankles. On the shoulders of her dress where some elegant black feathers that seemed to come from that of a raven, and which Hermione noticed where also stuck into the base of her hair which was tied in an intricate bun.
“Hello Pansy, it’s nice to meet you.” Hermione said hesitantly, wondering why the girl seemed to be looking at her like that.
Pansy slowly lifted her gaze from Hermione’s dress.
“Where did you get that dress.” She asked not even offering her own hello.
“Pans be nice!” Daphne chastised from next to her.
“I am! I just want to know where she got her dress from because I like it!” Pansy said turning to her friend angrily and then back to Hermione waiting for her to answer.
“Oh I got it with my mum in London.” Hermione said, nervously playing with her hem again.
“From a muggle store?” Pansy asked incredulously.
“Yes it was from a muggle shop, why?” Hermione asked narrowing her eyes.
Hermione had come to realise quite abruptly that muggle’s and muggle-borns were often thought of as incapable to some wizards. Although none of her friends had seemed to care of even think twice about her muggle heritage she had noticed stares and quiet whisperings from some students and even some teachers being very shocked at her ability to do even simple spells.
“Oh I’ve got no problem with them, I’ve just never seen muggle dresses and designs before and, your dress it’s beautiful.” Pansy said finally giving Hermione a small grin.
Hermione smiled back relieved that Pansy didn’t seem to have a problem with her.
“Thank you, you can borrow it some time if you like?” Hermione said.
“Ohh really? You wouldn’t mind!” Pansy squealed happily.
Hermione shook her head no.
“Come on let’s go get something to eat and we can leave the girls to talk about dresses.” Blaise said rolling his eyes and standing up, who was quickly followed by the other boys.
Hermione got to talking to Daphne and Pansy and found that both girls were in Slytherin and had been long time family friends with the Malfoy’s.
She was just explaining to the girls what muggle primary school was like when she noticed Pansy’s face screw up.
“What are they doing here?” Pansy asked rather accusingly.
Hermione followed Pansy’s glance to the entrance where Neville, Hannah, Ernie and Tracey had just come in together followed by some of their parents.
“They were invited by Draco’s parents, he and I had to go ask them at school.” Hermione said by way of explanation.
“But why?” Pansy asked confused.
“I’m not sure, their all quite nice though, did you want to come say hi with me?” Hermione asked standing up and looking at the two girls expectantly.
Daphne stood up after a minute but Pansy remained seated.
“You go say hi, I’ll send Draco over as well.” She said waving them away.
Hermione nodded and walked with Daphne over to where her classmates where, all of them looking quite nervous.
“Hi guys!” Hermione said as happily as possible.
Neville and Hannah looked quite relieved to see her, whereas Tracy and Ernie just smiled tightly.
“Hi Hermione, Merry Christmas!” Hannah said taking off her coat to reveal a pretty purple dress.
“Merry Christmas to you to, have you met Daphne Greengrass? She’s in our year to.” Hermione said gesturing to Daphne.
“Hello, Hannah is it?” Daphne asked politely.
“Yes, nice to meet you, I think we have charms class together.” Hannah said smiling.
“Are you guys hungry we’re all sitting over by the food.” Hermione said gesturing for the others to follow her back to where they had been sitting.
Although it took a while for everyone to get used to one another eventually they all started to get along. Tracy, Pansy, Daphne and Hannah spent the night talking about which house had the cutest boys at Hogwarts. Ernie, Blaise, Greg and Vincent where having avid conversations about Quidditch and which house they thought would win the cup this year before talk turned to the professional teams. Neville and Theo were talking about Herbology, one of the subjects that Neville actually excelled in and which Theo was particularly informed about as his family grew many rare magical plants. Whilst Hermione spent her time talking to Draco and every now and then sneaking looks at Tom from across the room.
“Their actually not so bad.” Draco said taking a sip of his butter beer.
“See I told you so!” Hermione said smirking.
“Hey! You can’t smirk that’s my thing!” Draco said glaring.
“Well now it’s mine to.” She said smirking even wider.
“Sorry to interrupt but I do believe a certain witch promised me a dance earlier.” Said a smooth and charming voice from behind her.
Hermione turned around to see a smiling Tom his hand outstretched for her to take.
Hesitantly Hermione took his hand before he pulled her into the sea of dancing people.
Tom pulled her close and placed her arms on his shoulders whilst his went around her waist. Hermione was sure that she was as red as a tomato right about now.
“You’re blushing.” Tom whispered his eyes glinting with humour.
“Well I-ahh don’t really know how to dance.” She said helplessly.
Swiftly Tom pulled her up slightly making her let out a small yelp before he placed her carefully on his shoes.
“Don’t worry I do.” He said smirking.
Hermione was thankful it was a slow song and that most other couples where just swaying in small circles like Tom and her. It felt like time stopped when she was dancing with him. Everything else seemed to fade away into the background. But all to quickly the song was over and Tom was releasing her hold on her.
“I heard that you were staying the night, so I will see you in the morning.” Tom said pulling her to the side of the ballroom.
“You’re leaving already?” Hermione asked somewhat disheartened.
Tom gave her a small smile.
“All I wanted tonight was to dance with you, now that that’s happened I’m going to turn in, party’s aren’t really my scene anyway.” He said bending down and kissing her check.
“Good night Mia and, Merry Christmas.” He said turning and walking out through the large doorway.
Hermione was still holding the check Tom had kissed when she made her way back to where her friends where sitting.
“Who was that Hermione?!” Pansy asked pulling her into a seat.
“That was Tom, Hermione’s mystery friend.” Theo said smirking at her playfully.
“Tom, you mean as in Tom Ri..Ow! Draco what was that for!” Daphne said rubbing her arm where Draco had hit her.
Hermione however failed to see the look Draco gave Daphne, which clearly said to shut up about Tom, as she was to busy still thinking about the kiss he had given her.
The rest of the night passed by in a similar fashion of talking, eating and dancing, just without tall handsome wizards. At the end of the night Hermione said goodbye to her parents and her new friends, Neville, Hannah, Ernie and Tracy who weren’t staying the night.
Hermione got to sleep in one of the room’s at the Manor with both Pansy and Daphne and the three stayed up all night talking before they finally succumbed to sleep out of sheer exhaustion.
Tom awoke to the strange sensation of knowing that Hermione was asleep just a few rooms away.
Although what he had said about party’s to her last night was true, he did have to admit that seeing her in her green dress and being able to dance with her was worth it.
After taking a shower and getting dressed Tom made his way downstairs to the breakfast room where Lucius and Narcissa where already waiting.
“Good morning Tom, Merry Christmas.” Narcissa said standing up and pulling him in for a brief hug.
Tom returned the hug quickly, uncomfortable with being hugged by others that weren't his mate.
“Merry Christmas to you as well, where are the others?” Tom asked noticing the empty seats.
“Still asleep but I’ve just sent Dobby to wake them now.” She said sitting back down next to Lucius.
A few minutes later eight bleary eyed eleven year olds made their way into the room.
Tom had to give a laugh at Hermione’s hair, gone was the sleek and soft curls from last night and in its place was what could only be described as a bird’s nest.
“Merry Christmas dear’s!” Narcissa said kissing each one on the forehead before they all sat down for breakfast.
Hermione thought it was possibly one of the nicest Christmas mornings she had ever had being surrounded by her friends and getting to spend time with Tom.
“I have to say it was nice seeing you all being civil with your classmates.” Lucius said taking a bite of his eggs.
“Yes I have to agree, it’s nice to see some different friends around here.” Narcissa said looking pointedly at Draco.
“I just don’t understand why they were invited at all?” Draco asked.
“Not that they weren’t nice! It’s just you know…” He added trailing off at the look Hermione had given him.
Lucius glanced at Tom who just quirked an eyebrow.
“We just feel that you should expand your friendship circle a bit, there’s nothing wrong with having friends in other houses, merlin knows it can only help what most people think of those of you in Slytherin.” Lucius said looking around at the children.
“So you want us to become friends with them to improve our image?” Draco asked questioningly.
“That’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying that you should learn to get to know people outside of your circle, learn to get to know them beyond their house and in particular those who have certain status, like those classmates from last night.” Lucius added glancing towards Tom.
Hermione narrowed her eyes slightly. What did they mean by status?
“What do you mean status?” Draco asked voicing her thoughts.
“It’s obvious isn’t it?” Theo said looking between Tom and Lucius.
“They were all family members of the Sacred 28.” He said biting into his toast.
Lucius grinned at Tom who smirked in return.
“Clearly you do belong in Ravenclaw.” Lucius said smirking.
“Why do you want us to be friends with family members of the Sacred 28.” Draco asked again still confused.
“We aren’t forcing you to be friends with anyone. We just think that it would be good for you to build connections, at the least some sort of amicable relationship with people who may hold status in the future. If you go around only befriending people in your house it won’t do you any good. At the least you can have a civil relationship with those classmates at best you can be friends.” Lucius explained looking at each one of them.
Hermione frowned. What were they trying to achieve? She had heard about the Sacred 28 but didn’t know much about it or what it had to do with her classmates.
“Anyway that’s enough talk about politics for now, it’s Christmas after all and I’m sure all your parents will be wanting you home shortly so once you’ve finished eating go and pack your things and meet us down in the floo room.” Narcissa said with a tone of finality.
After Hermione finished her breakfast she quickly ran back up to her room to collect her things before she ran down to the room that Pansy had told her was the floo room.
She was stopped on her way however by Tom.
“Leaving without saying goodbye?” He asked faking mock hurt.
“Of course not I just thought you would be down with everyone else.” She said.
“Well I didn’t want to give you this in front of everyone else.” He said handing her a neatly wrapped present.
“Oh I completely forgot, wait a moment I got you something to.” Hermione said opening her bag and pulling out the present she had gotten Tom and handing it to him before placing her present from him back in her bag.
“So are you going to tell me what my classmates have to do with the Sacred 28?” She asked getting straight to the point.
“How did I know you would want to know about that.” He said smiling and shaking his head.
“Well?” She asked impatiently.
“Trust me it’s nothing really, it is as Lucius said we just feel it would be good to have different circles of friends.” Tom said leaning against the wall.
Hermione sighed knowing she didn’t have time to argue as her parents wanted her home.
“Okay, well you know I’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.” She said picking up her bag and giving Tom a hug before she raced down the stairs.
“Oh I’m sure you will Mia.” Tom said chuckling again.