“How do you find your way around this place?” asked Hermione in astonishment. Even she could not hide the fact that it would be impossible for her to find her way around the Manor.
“Eh… well, I’ve been here so many times, you just get used to it. Y’know, being a pure-blood and all,” replied Pansy smugly. The two walked in silence until Hermione broke it angrily. “I’d like to know what I did do you,” Parkinson. You’ve been verbally abusing me since we were eleven. It’s been more than twenty years and you’re still at it! And I’d like to know why.”
Pansy said nothing, making Hermione think there would be no answer. Then, Pansy shrugged and said, “It was expected of me, thinking that Mudbloods were below me. It’s how I was raised.”
“You are an adult now, are you not? Surely you are capable of making your own decisions? Can we not have a civil conversation without you using despicable language?”
“I suppose, Granger, if it really means that much to you,” Pansy said, smirking.
Hermione laughed hollowly. “I’m a Weasley.” She wondered what her family was doing right now. At three o’clock, Hermione would have left work and Flooed home. Then, she would have taken the car to collect Hugo from school. He’d tell Hermione about his day. They’d arrive home and Hermione would make Hugo a snack and herself a cup of tea. They’d sit in front of the television after they completed Hugo’s homework. Then, at four-thirty, Ron would come home and make some more tea. They’d watch some more television and maybe talk about Quidditch. Then, they’d take a stroll around the block and come home for another snack. At seven-thirty they’d have dinner and at eight forty-five, Hugo would sleep.
“Here we are,” said Pansy. “Woe-”
“No!” Hermione said frantically. “No.”
“What?” Pansy asked, confused.
“Erm… we don’t need to call upon Woedisis. We can fix tea ourselves,” said Hermione.
Pansy squinted at Hermione. “Then I hope you know how, Granger. I haven’t got a clue. Hermione gaped at Pansy in disbelief. “You’ve… never made yourself a cup of tea?”
“No, we always had the House-elves do it!” said Pansy, her voice rising in defense.
“It really is simple,” Hermione said, and she demonstrated how to make a cup of tea. Pansy did not fancy the idea of brewing the tea herself. Hermione finished making the tea when Draco joined them.
“Draco,” said Pansy with a small smile, “Granger made tea.”
“Why did you not have the House-elf do it?”
“Well, you see, I-” started Hermione, who was rudely interrupted by an annoyed Draco. He approached her intimidatingly. “No, you see here, Granger. This is my house, and I will not have you running around changing everything you think is wrong. Do you understand?”
Hermione nodded meekly, accepting the rules because, though she had no respect for Draco himself, she felt it polite to respect his rule while she was in his home. Though, she mustn’t forget that she was dragged to his home quite unwillingly.
“Good,” said Draco. “Tomorrow, you will meet my parents. They will, of course, meet the… lovely woman I’m to marry.” He smirked.
Two can play at that game, Hermione thought. “Oh, Draco, dear. Haven’t I already had the pleasure of meeting your parents. Come to think of it, I met your aunt too! They were very… crafty with me after they realized they disliked me.” That remark wiped the smirk off of Draco’s face, leaving in its place a scowl.
“Draco, shall I take Granger shopping tomorrow? She’ll need some new clothes to meet your father and mother…” said Pansy. Draco looked Hermione over. A beige blazer over a pearly white top and black trousers. “Yes. I don’t suppose she can meet my parents looking like that. But haven’t you got anything she could wear? You two must be close in size. I really don’t feel comfortable with her leaving the house.”
“And how do think I feel staying in the house?” asked Hermione. “Will you stop talking about me like I’m not here?
“Alright,” said Pansy. “And do remember this crucial bit, Draco: her name is Charice. You too, Granger. We cannot afford any mishaps. But, I’m positive you won’t let that happen.”
“Yes, of course, I shall not forget,” Draco agreed. He cautiously sipped his tea, put the cup down, and delicately added sugar.
Hermione began to feel light headed and said, “Will someone show me to my room? I need a lie down.”
Draco stood. “Come… Charice.”
Hermione followed him out of the room.
Hermione and Draco walked down a narrow, dim hall.
“Can you tell me a bit about your parents?” asked Hermione.
“I think you’re a better judge of my parents, Granger, than I.”
“Yes, but, I don’t want to judge them, I simply want to know more about them. You don’t want me coming across as completely clueless to them, do you?” Draco furrowed a brow. “Well… my mother likes to talk about serious subject… family, safety, believe it or not. She also likes to know people, believe it or not, to get close to people. But that’s rather hard to do in our position.”
“Doesn’t your mum like to shop? That’s what everyone says,” Hermione said. Draco laughed. It was almost real, though something about it kept it fake. “You’ve got terrible sources.” Hermione blushed. “My mother could care less about shopping. Sure, she likes to look presentable, but she would never be caught out shopping.”
“You make it sound like it’s a felony to be out shopping. And, I have seen her out shopping before. You haven’t forgotten our altercation while you were getting your robes for school one year, have you?” A corner of Draco’s mouth turned up a bit. “No, I don’t suppose I have. But those times were different. She wasn’t about to let me go out all alone in those streets, where… where Death Eaters were lurking everywhere.” Draco had trouble getting the last bit out of his mouth. “She has important things to do, my mum. Work.”
“Like what?” asked Hermione. “I mean, you have money, you’re pure-bloods. You’re well off on your own.”
Draco rounded on her. “See, that’s what you Mudbloods don’t understand about pure-bloods. We may have money, but what you call stress… ha, you’ve never seen stress,” he spat.
“Oh, I beg to differ, Malfoy, considering I was the one with Harry and Ron chasing after the bloody Horcruxes of your master while you and your-”
“You’ve never worked on the inside, though, have you? Ever been told to mend a Vanishing Cabinet to smuggle Death Eaters into one of the most protected places in Scotland? Ever been told to murder the man who protected us all? What about being told that if I didn’t succeed in murdering him, I, along with my family, would be killed. Very slowly and painfully. I had no choice but to follow his orders, Granger! Didn’t I make up for it when I fought on your side in the war?”
“Your family had a choice to choose a different path. You of all people must know that. And no, nothing could make up for the part you played in Voldemort’s plans!”
There was a horrible scream. A bloodcurdling scream that tore through Hermione’s brain.
One glance at Draco and they were, for the first time, on the same page.