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Chapter 3 : Living with Hermione Granger
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Chapter Three: Living With Hermione Granger
He highly disliked the room. No, he actually hated it, could barely stand being in it but hey, it was the only place to hide from Granger and her awkward surreptitious glances. There was nothing useful to be done in that place. The shelves were covered by Muggle books which he dared not touch frightened by the thought of being contaminated, or something. The only thing that caught his attention was the contraption Muggles called a telly. He hard heard about it during his schooling years from his Slytherin fellow students who mocked the invention describing it as the pinnacle of Muggle inferiority: they had to resort to this archaic form of animating images, whilst Wizards just needed to flick a wand and a good potion. His remaining Slytherin pride prevented him from touching the thing.
He still spent a lot of time thinking about what Granger was hiding from him, but decided to act as if he had forgotten the whole thing while he came up with a plan for getting the information he needed from her. He knew that, after all, Hermione Granger was the smartest witch he had ever known and that it wasn’t going to be easy. He now needed a strategy a way to extract every piece of information from her in the most conspicuous way.
The music kept on playing downstairs as he heard Granger’s voice singing. “She sings all the time, I wonder why the hell she sings all the bloody time!” he screamed losing his temper and slamming the door shut. But still the music found the way of crawling up the walls and under the door, and finally into the room. He couldn’t stand it anymore, he couldn’t stand her anymore.
Downstairs Hermione Granger was having a nice time. While she cooked dinner she was listening to one of her favourite songs. It was a happy one; it reminded her of her childhood. She took a spoon and holding it as a microphone (which she did all the time) prepared for her favourite part of the song, the chorus. She started to dance while stirring the sauce with one hand and waving the other in the air.
“Why is it, Granger, that I always find you in your most inspiring moments?”
She stopped dancing and singing and looked at him as if he had insulted her with the most hurtful word there could ever be. He had appeared out of nowhere, she hadn't even heard him coming down the stairs; he had this incredible ability of walking without making any noise. Like a snake. “And why is it that you enjoy sneaking up on me all the time? What do you want now, Malfoy?”
“Could you please turn down the volume of that terrible Muggle music of yours? Is driving me crazy, and believe me you don’t want me to go crazy… the Order wouldn’t like that at all.”
“Shut you face, Malfoy!” she hissed angry. This was her house, why should she turn down the volume of the music she liked?
“As usual I’m being the polite one around here,” he told her smirking as usual.
Pouring some ingredients into the pot, she answered “Polite? You call polite the fact that you’ve been staying at my home for the past few weeks and haven’t once helped around with the garden or the other chores I asked you to do?”
“I told you Granger, I’m not your servant.”
“Well I’m not your servant either, so if you want to eat from now on you'll just have to cook by yourself!”
“I really don’t care. Spare me with that thing you call cooking if you like. However, The Order wouldn’t like it much if you starved me to death. Anyway, I wouldn’t dare come into this kitchen and cook.”
“Oh yes… you are a spoiled little brat, I forgot. So you don’t know how to cook, do you? How is it that you’ve managed to survive in that tiny flat of yours? Take out?”
“Of course I know how to cook, but not without a wand! I’m a wizard and I use my wand as real wizards should!”
“Are you implying that I’m not a real witch? Would you like a taste of my magical abilities with a wand? Maybe I could knock you unconscious for another week or so. I wouldn’t mind if you would just doze around in your room for a while.”
“Aw, you wouldn’t do that, you’d miss me.”
“Yeah sure, you can certainly count on that,” she replied sarcastically. “Anyway, what a pity…” she sighed.
He carefully asked “What?”
“This is delicious!” She took one of the spoons beside her and tasted the sauce she was making. “I downloaded the recipe from this famous chef’s page, and look–" she said showing him a picture "- it looks just like it’s supposed to! And it smells quite nice, don’t you think?”
He didn’t understand a word she said except that the food did look like the one of the picture -quite nice. This wasn’t fair to Draco, he was famished and she was right: it smelled very nice. But he preferred to starve to death before accepting it; he was Draco Malfoy, he was always right.
Two days later, at around the same time, Draco went outside and watered the garden. Afterwards he took an axe he found in a corner besides a water bucket, and directed himself towards a pile of wood. It had been more than twenty-four hours since the last time he had eaten something and his stomach growled uncomfortably. This, added to the fact that Granger had decided to bake the most delicious cake he had ever smelled, made him bury his dignity and help her around the garden like she wanted.
“Do you even know how that works?” asked Hermione mockingly.
“Sure… I have seen the house elves do it,” he lied.
“No you haven’t, house elves have their own magic and they do not need axes to do this.” She pointed the pile of wood. “Anyway I don’t think I will need you to do that, we are in the middle of the summer and I sure hope that by winter you will be out of here.”
“So why did you ask me to do it?” he screamed. “You wanted to have a laugh?”
“Sure,” she grinned, “but then I felt guilty because you would probably end up cutting off one of your fingers or a hand even, and although I would be able to fix it in a sec, it would be rather messy.”
“Great lets all just laugh at Malfoy! Didn’t you know? its the new national sport.” He growled while he threw the axe to the ground.
“I only wanted some help around here, besides I didn’t ask you to do much; just take care of the garden, keep your room clean and help me with the dishes after dinner. I don’t think that is a known cause of death.”
“So, have you cooked something worth eating for a change?” he replied evading her last remark.
“Dinner is served,” she answered simply. “Clean your shoes before coming into the house and wash your hands.” She walked in the house and closed the door behind her.
After cleaning his boots and washing his hands, Draco sat at the table. He saw there something he had never seen before, but it looked delicious and smelled delicious as well. “What is this?” he asked with fake dislike.
“Fettuccini Alfredo,” she answered as she served the wine. “It’s Italian food, try it, you’ll like it.”
He started eating it, she was right, he did like it. In fact he loved it. He wouldn’t tell her, though, that he liked her cooking. “It’s fine, at least it’s edible. I’m starving anyway, so in my present condition anything would taste just fine to me.”
She knew by his face he loved the food but she didn’t want to pick a fight, so she decided to relax and enjoy the wine. “How was your day?” she asked. She was not really interested in the answer but decided to try to have a decent conversation with the man that had lived with her for the past few weeks but of whom she knew so little of. Besides, it had started to rain and she knew there was going to be a storm tonight so she didn’t want to go to bed too quickly.
“Fine,” He hesitated for a second not sure if he wanted to talk to her, but he was so bored in the house and decided a little conversation, even with Granger, was some kind of entertainment. “I’ve been looking at those weird Muggle books, the ones that you have in that bookcase in my room… eh… the room you lent me.” He kept staring at his plate while he talked because for some reason he didn’t understand, he wasn’t able to look at her in the eyes; it made him uncomfortable.
“Those were my mother’s,” she replied quietly. She didn’t want to discuss her parents. She had placed all her parent’s stuff in that room, the one Malfoy was staying in.
“I miss them,” she said
“My parents. I could not handle walking around this house with all their belongings scattered around. So I put all the stuff that constantly reminded me of them in that room. My mother was an avid reader, she had so many books,”
This was uncomfortable, Draco did not want to listen to Granger’s nostalgic memories. He feared she might start crying at any second, and he hated crying women.
“I’m sorry about your parents,” was all he managed to say in a lame tone.
“You’re not really sorry, so just leave it like that ok?” Hermione knew she was talking to a Malfoy, after all, and in spite of the fact that he had joined the Order and proved to be trustworthy, he still disliked Muggles. Or at least thought they were somewhat inferior because they couldn’t do any magic.
He was hurt by her last words because he was sorry, he just didn’t know how to voice his feelings. They were her parents, after all, and he knew very well what it felt like, to lose a parent. He didn’t say anything else though, he thought keeping quiet was the smartest thing to do at that moment, or change the subject. He could not stand the silence between them. It was making him uncomfortable.
“So what is anyway, that box that you Muggles call a telly, what is it for?”
Hermione looked confused at first, she did not expect this line of conversation. But oh well, it sure is better than discussing her murdered parents. So she put her business face and answered in a monotone.
“Well Muggles invented a way of sending images through the air. They transmit them from somewhere called a broadcast centre, and through antennas they reach the Television. Sometimes those images travel trough cables also, well actually most of the time it comes through cables nowadays. Anyway, it’s quite ingenious if you think about it. Through the television you watch television programs, that way you can see the news, or stories played by actors like in the theatre, you can even watch Muggle sports being played live from anywhere in the world. It's a faster way of getting information compared to owls.”
“Can you send a reply through that television thing?” he asked. He was actually intrigued of what Muggles could do after all but he didn’t want Granger to know that.
“No, it’s a one way communication channel.”
“Then it’s not better than owls,” he replied as if settling the matter.
“We have the Internet for that. We send messages and get replies instantly. It’s a lot faster than owls,” she added with a tone of derision in her voice.
“Whatever.” He still preferred the magical ways of communication “We will always have the floo network.”
As if reinforcing his point, thunder made the house tremble. Hermione winced at the sound and grabbed the edge of the table very hard, closing her eyes. Malfoy watched the scene carefully; he couldn’t believe that Granger of all people was scared of thunder. She quickly opened her eyes hoping that Malfoy hadn’t noticed her reaction, but as soon as she did it she knew it was too late to hide her phobias; he was smirking at her.
“What are you looking at? Haven’t you witnessed a storm before?”
“Sure I have, but this is the first time I've seen you have such a reaction, especially over something like thunder.” He wanted to engrave this memory for ever in his mind, Granger completely freaked out by thunder. “It can’t kill you, you know? It’s just noise,” he said pointing upwards.
Another rumble of thunder came, this time much louder. The lights in the kitchen went off and Hermione screamed.
“What’s the matter? Why the lights did suddenly turned off? Do you think they’ve found me, the Death Eaters?” he asked suddenly very scared. He imagined Death Eaters outside the house making complex spells to turn the Muggle’s light off. “Give me wand now, Granger! Now!”
“No,” she replied. “It’s the power. The storm it’s too strong and it has cut off the power. Here in the country it happens all the time, it’ll come back soon… I hope.”
He was very confused. “Power? What do you mean by power?” he inquired.
“Electricity,” she stated. “Electricity. It’s what makes Muggle objects work and the lights to be on. Please don’t make me explain to you in detail how electricity works, ok?” she said hoping that she didn’t have to go through the whole Muggle explanation thing with Malfoy again, it was quite wearing.
“Eclecticity?” he murmured. Muggles did have very complex and probably stupid inventions; he didn’t want to know about them either so he simply asked “So what now? Do we have to do something special to have some light around here? Is there some Muggle thing that creates light when the elclecitity goes off?”
Hermione chuckled, it was very amusing to watch the famous Malfoy, the guy who always knew everything, completely clueless. “Yes there is, it's called a flashlight, but I’m not sure I have batteries so I’ll just light up a candle.”
She went to the back of the room and started rummaging into drawers until she let out a triumphant “aha! Found them.”
She lighted two candles and placed them in the middle on the table, between herself and Draco. He looked up and saw her face lightly lit by candlelight. He hadn’t really seen Granger before. He always tried not to look at her either, she had always made him uncomfortable. However, today he could not take his eyes off her; she looked beautiful. Her eyes were big and deep, her lips were full, her skin seemed soft and her hair came down in soft curls framing her face. She had changed so much; she seemed so wise and so innocent at the same time, so strong and so fragile. She looked scared because of the darkness and the storm, like a little and scared animal in need of protection. He felt the urge to hold her and tell her it was just a stupid storm and that everything was going to be alright.
WHAT? He furiously thought finally looking away. Those thoughts were definitely not acceptable. Hold Granger? Think that she was beautiful? No, never. He was disgusted by himself. She was Granger, he had always hated her; she was this incredibly annoying know-it-all who had a special ability to get on his nerves. He arrived to the conclusion that she had put something into the food making him like her a little bit more, but it wasn’t going to work. Not on him.
“This is the first candle light dinner I have ever had, funny, my first time had to be with you… but it’s not that bad.” She clapped her mouth, surprised she had actually said that outloud. “That didn’t sound right, I mean, my first candle light dinner… with you… candle light dinners have to be romantic… we don’t like each other… I…” She shut up and looked miserably at her wine glass trying to hide her blushing embarrassed face. She couldn’t believe she had said that out loud. It came out wrong.
Draco felt a strange pleasing sensation seeing her so humiliated. This was automatically going to his special trunk of precious self-satisfying memories.
“Are you finished?” she asked pointing at his plate. He nodded and she picked it up and escaped to the sink.
He was slightly puzzled by Granger’s last candle light dinner remark and simply sat there looking at her while she cleared up the table. Then he realized what she was doing and quickly stood up and grabbed her hand. “Let me, I’m supposed to do it.”
She gave him a startled look, and then she looked his hand which currently was holding hers then, she let go quickly. He grabbed the dishes and began to pour water over them. “Just show me where everything is around here and I will take care of them, we do have an arrangement.”
She was very surprised, she didn’t actually think he was going to help her, but she wasn’t going to complain either, and she showed him where the soap was and how to use it and left him to it. “Normally I use the dishwasher but since there is no power you’ll just have to do it manually. I’ll teach you tomorrow how to use it.” She sat down at the table again and poured herself another glass of wine. For some stupid reason she couldn’t leave his side, she hated storms.
He finished with the dishes and walked towards the hall, intending to leave. “Please, stay… we don’t have to talk… just don’t leave me.” Hermione whispered. “I’m afraid of the dark,” she confessed. He stood in the middle of the room not knowing what to do. He didn’t want to sit there with her but he couldn’t just leave her when she had asked him to stay. He also had a great urge to make fun of her, but he knew that would just start another useless, pointless argument, so he restrained himself. He sighed and stepped back towards the table and poured himself a glass of wine, emptying the bottle.
“So this was your parents' house? You live here? I thought you lived in London with your fiancé,” he sipped his wine “It’s a nice house.”
She didn’t reply instantly, she wasn’t sure she wanted to discuss Ron with Malfoy of all people, but then again, the events that occured six months ago wasn’t his fault. She started to play with one of the candles and watching the flame, answered “I came here about four months ago, after it happened. I mean, I couldn’t stand being there anymore. So I came down here and re-opened my parents' house. I was thinking of selling it, I saw no point in keeping it since my parents' death. But Ron wanted to keep it, he wanted us to have children and since he grew up in the country he always pictured us raising our family in the country as well. I’m not sure if I want to sell it anymore. Ron loved this house, my parents loved this house and I had a happy childhood here as well. I’m not sure I want to get rid of something that brings me so many beautiful memories of all of them.”
Draco didn’t reply immediately either. He hadn't expected her to give him an answer, especially an answer like that one. He never thought Hermione Granger would let him into her life. He felt compelled to answer, although he didn’t know what to say. He continued sipping his wine staring at her; she looked so sad. “Then you should keep it; but only if you are really happy here. If you’re miserable living in this house then you should sell it and start a new life. You have to move on, you won’t gain anything by keeping something that will haunt you with memories for the rest of your life.”
She was surprised by his answer, it was so unlike him. But what surprised her the most was the fact that she felt actually comfortable talking to him, as if she could tell him anything and he would listen. But she was probably kidding her self, probably this was all the result of being scared by the storm. However, before she knew it she was talking again, telling him things that she had concealed for a long time in her heart, things that she couldn’t tell to anybody. “Yeah, but it’s not that simple. To let go I mean. I never want to forget him; I don’t want to forget my parents either. It’s like paying tribute to them, to remember them for the rest of my life. That is why I keep this house, that’s why I keep the ring.” She extended her finger and showed him her engagement ring; it was simple but beautiful.
“So, what you’re saying is that you intend to live like a ghost in this house, living a life that is no more, feeding your melancholy with memories? Do you think that’s what your parents wanted for you, do you think that’s what Weasley sacrificed himself for?” He looked at her waiting for an answer, hoping that he hadn’t gone too far.
She raised her head and looked him in the eyes. How dare he speak to her like that, who did he think he was? He didn’t have any right. He did not know anything about anything. “Don’t you talk to me about Ron as if you knew him, as if you cared for him! You didn’t even like him, you’ve always hated him, even when you joined the Order you couldn’t stop picking the stupidest fights with him,”
Yes, he had gone too far.
“You were the one who started talking about all those things. I just gave you my opinion, and you know I’m right. Weasley didn’t die so you lived the rest of your life in mourning, like a ghost, haunting this house.”
She felt silent. He was right, Ron wouldn’t want that for her, he always said that he would do anything in the world, anything, to make her happy, he hated to see her sad. But she also felt that carrying on with her life was a betrayal to his memory. She calmed herself down and tried to sound a bit more reasonable. “You just don’t know what it feels like; to loose the person you love the most. In one day I lost my fiancé and with him, I lost all my plans for the future. I feel like I’ve lost my entire life, my existence doesn’t seem to make sense without him. I just don’t know how to move on, how to live a life without him. I guess everybody at school knew that I’ve been in love with Ron since our third year, and I’ve been his friend since our first year. I mean, I’ve spent half my life by his side, I don’t know how to live without him,” her voice broke and her eyes filled with tears. Before she knew it she was crying silently, forgetting that Draco Malfoy was watching her. “I’m crying… it’s the first time I’ve been able to cry in six months.”
The last thing Draco Malfoy wanted in the world was to listen Hermione Granger talk about how much she loved Weasley, and least of all see her cry about it. He really hated crying women. He felt the urge to get up and leave, he wasn’t good at these things, he never knew what to do when somebody cried. He felt so awkward. Although he knew very well that he was the last person on earth Hermione Granger would’ve wanted some comfort from, he reached up to her and dried her tears with his hand.
Before even waiting for her reaction, he stood up and left her by the candlelight.
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