Lovely chapter image by avra @ TDA
Everyone is changing
There's no one left that's real
- Blurry, Puddle of Mudd
You told me once, so long ago now that I can hardly even remember when it was, that life was all just a game to you. Everything you did, everything you said was a move, and all of us around you were pieces of the game board.
Back then I didn’t want to believe you, didn’t want to think that you were actually that cruel, but I should have known better than to doubt you by then. Cruel was your nature, and you just loved to play games with others.
Years later I would look back on that stupid game you dragged us into, look at the way your scarred all of us for life, and wonder, just wonder, what you thought you were going to get out of it. Were you hoping for some satisfaction? Or was this some sick, twisted way you though you could prove that you were better than us.
What was your motivation, Draco? Did you even have one? Or were you just trying to hurt us? Tear us apart into smaller, insignificant pieces of ourselves. Were you really ever that cruel? Or was that a game, too?
Hermione couldn’t tell whether or not Harry looked more angry or more bored
. She supposed it was probably a combination of the two by the way his brow was furrowed, but she wasn’t sure. He kept pacing back and forth across the room, glancing from time to time at the others there. When he noticed her watching him he smiled, but it was forced. He didn’t want to be there anymore than anyone else did. She could understand that, of course.
Three years had passed since she and Harry had graduated from Hogwarts, and out of the blue they had received letters, no, that wasn’t it. They had received invitations. The thing was, the invitations were from the last person they had expected them to be from: Draco Malfoy.
True, they had called a tentative truce before leaving school, so, she supposed that he could no longer be considered their enemy, but it was still rather odd that he suddenly decided to send invitations to many of the people he hadn’t gotten along with back in school to invite them to the Malfoy manor.
Hermione had decided upon receiving the invitation that she wouldn’t go. However, when she heard that her friends had also received invitations, they had all agreed to go to see what it was that Draco Malfoy was up to.
Ginny grabbed Harry’s arm, effectively stopping his pacing. He glanced at her briefly, and with one smile she seemed to calm him. He took a deep breath and sat down next to her, but his shoulders remained stiff with tension.
“About time he stopped that. He was about to make a hole in the floor.”
The edge of her mouth twitched slightly. “Honestly, Ron, how on earth would Harry be able to pace a hole into the floor?”
Ron shrugged, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Dunno. Anything’s possible though.”
That, she silently conceded, was all too true. In the years she had been immersed in the wizarding world, she came to realize that things she had earlier thought to be impossible were, in fact, not at all.
She glanced around the room. Malfoy had managed to gather quite a few people at the manner. She figured they had all come for the same reason: to try to figure out what it was, exactly, that he wanted. She figured that even to this day no one really trusted him.
The doors to the library opened with a loud clank and in strode the man in question. He hadn’t changed much in the last few years, except for his hair. It had lengthened considerably, mirroring in some fashion his father’s hair. The white-blonde hair brushed past his shoulders, hanging in a shimmering curtain, but his eyes, cold and gray hadn’t changed one bit. Deep inside those eyes held the Draco Malfoy they had always known.
Harry stood instantly. “What is all this about Malfoy?”
Hermione could swear that Malfoy seemed vaguely amused by the question, but he didn’t answer him, walking across the room and stopping in front of her. He gave her the once over, then gave her that infernal smirk he had perfected before he even entered Hogwarts. “Never expected you
to show up, Granger.”
Her back stiffened. “I hadn’t planned to.”
“Ah, I see. I suppose the Great Harry Potter had something to do with it, then.”
She didn’t answer, merely met his cool gaze evenly. If he thought he was going to get a rise out of her, he was sadly mistaken.
“What’s this all about, Malfoy?”
“Patient, Weasley.” He gave Ron an unfriendly look, then strode past him, shoving harshly into his shoulder and took a seat in one of the fancy chairs into the room. “You were all invited here to play a game.”
From across the room Neville’s unsure voice rose. “A game?”
“Yes, Longbottom, a game.” He folded his hands in his lap, threading his long fingers together.
of a game, Malfoy?”
“A game of deceit, Potter.”
Hermione let out a small snort of contempt. “Naturally.”
The edge of his mouth twitched, almost amused. “Indeed.”
“And what is the point of this game, Malfoy?”
“The point, Potter, is to trick your way into winning. I would think that would be obvious.” His gaze skipped around the room and came to rest upon Hermione as he continued. “The object of the game is to lie, to everyone, and convince as many people as you can that your lies are, in fact, truth. You must deceive people to the best of your ability. Everyone is your enemy in this game. The one who convinces people the best of their lies, is the winner.”
“This is pointless.” Harry stood in one fluid motion, heading for the door.
Malfoy smirked. “The famous Harry Potter is afraid to play a little game. How sad.”
“I’m not afraid to play your game, Malfoy.”
“Lovely. Then you’ll play?”
“I didn’t say that, either.” Harry turned then to glare at Malfoy.
For his credit, the blonde merely looked bored. “Either you’re going to play or you’re too afraid to.”
“Do we lie to you
Malfoy arched an eyebrow at Hermione. “Of course.”
“That’s why you wanted to play this game, isn’t it, Malfoy? You think you can lie better than any of us.”
“Perhaps.” He leaned forward in his seat. “Lying is
what I do.”
Hermione gazed at him silently for several beats, then turns to look at Harry. “Let’s play.”
Harry looked stunned. “Are you serious, Hermione?”
“Why not? Why don’t we beat Malfoy at his own game and shut him up?”
She could tell that the idea of showing up Malfoy in his own game was appealing to him by the way he hesitated. His mouth twisted up in thought, then, after some time, he nodded, almost reluctantly. “Alright. We’ll play.”
Malfoy smiled, albeit an evil smile. “Excellent. Any one who wishes not to play can leave now.” No one moved. “Very well. The game begins tonight, at sundown. You leave the manor, you forfeit the game.” He stood, striding across the room, brushing against Hermione as he did so. “Good luck, Granger.”
As the door slammed behind him Hermione could feel her blood start to boil. She wanted to beat him so badly she could taste it, so no matter what, she would do just that.