Draco leaned back in his seat and surveyed the scene in front of him. The entire table was enveloped in silence, from his mother and father staring each other down to Blaise Zabini who was avidly darting his eyes back and forth between the two as if he were watching an exciting Quidditch match. Bloody clot, Draco thought in irritation. Glancing at Hermione, he noticed that she was staring intently down at her lap. Hmmm…wonder what that’s all about, he began to suspect as she suddenly looked up and locked eyes with him. He then furrowed his brow at her as if to say, What’s going on? She merely shrugged and sent him back a sweet little smile.
Perversely, Draco found this to be quite alluring in contrast to the battlefield that was going on around him at the rest of the table. As the Malfoy War of Silence continued (with the exception of silverware pointedly clinking and clanking about petulantly) he found himself smiling back at Hermione rather wolfishly. Too bad I can’t have lunch with Granger back in my rooms…alone…
He was sure that Hermione must have been catching his train of thought because at that point her face began to turn a deep shade of pink. She didn’t break eye contact though. Yeah, that’s my stubborn Gryffindor, he thought appreciatively, as he began to contemplate ways that he might be able to corner her in an isolated wing of the house.
“Hey, Malfoy, did you ever tell your Mum about how you practically busted your head open winning the last Quidditch match?” Blaise drawled, interrupting Draco’s reverie with a mischievous smile.
His mother gasped and abruptly dropped her spoon into her Brown Windsor soup.
Thanks a lot, Zabini, Draco thought as he sent a glare in Blaise’s direction. I knew I should have put him up in the stables. Blasted berk.
“Draco! When in the name of Merlin did this happen?” Narcissa demanded in a high, clear voice as Tooky hastened over to the table and retrieved his mother’s spoon.
Draco let out a breath of exasperation and shook his head, firing another dirty look at Blaise, who smiled back at him cheekily. Unfortunately, in the moment of hesitation, Hermione must have assumed that he wasn’t going to answer his mother at all and decided to take on the task:
“Oh, luckily he wasn’t hurt badly, Mrs. Malfoy…I helped Madame Pomfrey as much as I could, and she did mend his skull rather quickly...” Buggeration, this can NOT be happening, Draco thought, transfixed with dread as Hermione went on. “I also spent most of my time at the infirmary when he was there, and made sure that he didn’t fall behind in his schoolwork.” Hermione looked over at Draco lovingly, but he could feel his mouth hanging open. The girl had no idea what sort of damage she was causing and he began to make a slicing motion across his throat in order to get her to stop. However, she seemed to interpret his mother’s stunned silence as an invitation to continue, and then inadvertently, Hermione dropped the bomb. “He was just amazing in that Quidditch game, Mrs. Malfoy,” Hermione gushed, “Draco not only won the game, but he did it while saving Ginny Weasley from a pair of bludgers that Team Venom had hexed into—”
“WHILE SAVING WHO?” his father’s voice boomed from the other end of the table.
“Draco Abraxas Malfoy! Is this true? You nearly cracked your head open for a ridiculous game, and I wasn’t even notified about this? How dare you not—”
Somebody just hex me now, and make it good. Something that’ll put me out for at least a week—until this entire bloody mess blows over.
“Hey, Mrs. Malfoy, Quidditch isn’t just a ridiculous game—” Blaise cut in. His expression was slightly anxious, as if he were just realizing what a can of flobberworms he had opened up.
Dumbnutted Dugbog. If you had just kept your Slytherin wannabe trap shut…
“Did I hear this correctly, Draco?! You put yourself at risk for a low-class blood traitor—” Lucius bellowed. Hermione gasped at his words and a hand flew to her mouth.
“Mum, I’m fine; it was no big deal—”
“Yeah, he did manage to grab the snitch just before he fell off of his broom, so it couldn’t have been that bad—”
“Fell off of his broom?” Narcissa’s voice raised an octave.
Draco turned to Blaise and growled, “Dammit, Zabini, will you just shut it?”
Lucius Malfoy had stood up and slammed his hand down on the table with a BOOM. Everyone immediately sat back in their seats in silence. Hermione looked horrified, Narcissa was indignant, and Zabini’s eyes darted about the table guiltily. For a moment, Lucius Malfoy stared down at Draco with a thunderous expression. “Draco,” he began in a dangerously low voice, “I am going to give you one chance to clarify yourself. Did you or did you not save a Weasley during that Quidditch match?”
Bollockov. Draco could feel his heart plummeting into the pit of his stomach, but he forced himself to look up at his father unflinchingly as he said, “I did.”
“And why on earth would you be saving a blood-traitor that also happens to be Gryffindor scum—” another small gasp from Hermione, “—when you play for the Slytherin team?” Lucius’ voice remained low, and Draco knew this was a very bad sign. Especially when he knew that the answer that he was going to give would make the situation even worse. He took a deep breath and said, “Because now I play on the Weaselette’s team.”
“I play on the Weaselette’s team now.” It was easier to say the second time, so Draco was able to enunciate more clearly.
“NO SON OF MINE IS GOING TO PLAY ON THE SAME TEAM AS SOME FILTHY MUGGLE-LOVER!”
“Lucius,” Narcissa’s voice took on a warning tone from the other end of the table.
Draco could feel his temper rising. Bugger me all to hell, this is beyond absurd, he thought angrily. I had to live in the same house as the Dark Lord, been ordered to kill people, watch one of my friends burn to death in a fire, lived through a battle, and my father is furious about what Quidditch team I play for? What am I, twelve? Slowly, he looked up at his father with his eyes simmering. “I already have,” he said in a tone that matched his father’s low, dangerous one.
The rest of the table was silent. Hermione’s already wide brown eyes threatened to overtake her entire face, and Blaise’s mouth was hanging slightly open. Narcissa was shifted into a position with both of her hands on the table as if she were about to rise at any moment, but Draco was finally angry enough to not need her to shield him anymore.
“And it will be the first and last time that a Malfoy ever associates with a bunch of dirty-blooded—”
“No,” Draco said firmly.
“What did you say?”
“I said no. I’m not quitting Quidditch,” he said as he indolently leaned back in his seat, giving the appearance of being much more relaxed than he actually felt.
“How dare you defy me—”
“Lucius,” Narcissa warned pointedly, once more poised to stand.
“What has gotten into you, boy?” Draco continued to stubbornly stare back at his father, and slowly Lucius’ eyes slid away from his and rested on Hermione, who had turned pure white during the course of the exchange. “Or should I not even bother to ask,” he said, glaring at her as his lip curled in disgust. He turned back to Draco and added, “I would not have thought that my son would be weak-minded enough to be infected by a filthy—”
“I am NOT weak-minded!”
“Is that so? Do you or do you not recall that, ‘nothing is a surer sign of weak magic—”
“—than a weakness for non-magical company,” Hermione softly finished the quote that his father had begun. Flabbergasted, Lucius Malfoy’s eyes darted over to Hermione. “Where in the name of Salazar did you hear that?” he demanded.
Hermione met his gaze and answered in a small, but unwavering voice, “Brutus Malfoy, Warlock at War periodical, circa 1675.” As Lucius stared at her in appalled disbelief, she added with a courage that Draco found nothing short of amazing, “Quite a long time ago, wasn’t it, Mr. Malfoy?”
Merlin’s bloody blue balls.
Lucius looked ready to explode. “Why you insolent little mudblo—”
“Father!” Draco shot back, but his mother had stood up and raised her voice so it carried right over his. “Lucius Malfoy! This is not the time or the place to be creating a scene!”
Lucius’ icy glare turned on Narcissa, who matched it with a glacial stare of her own. For a moment, not a sound was made and the tension was so thick that it was almost difficult to breathe.
And then suddenly, Lucius Malfoy spun on his heel and left the dining hall. Everyone seemed frozen in place until Narcissa slowly lowered herself into her seat, once again the image of icy hauteur. “Eat,” she commanded, as she smoothly picked up her spoon and dipped it into her soup.
Draco looked around the table once more. Blaise sat in stunned silence and Hermione looked as if she were attempting to hold herself in place, as if one more word from anyone else would cause her to pass out. The effort of attempting to hold her own finally seemed to be wearing on her. As for Draco, he belatedly realized that he had been clenching his fists so tightly that as he finally loosened them, he could feel deep ridges from his fingernails cutting into the palms of his hands.
Narcissa looked up from her soup once more. “I said, eat.” Her voice sounded so much like a royal decree that it was met with absolutely no arguments as the three other occupants at the table immediately picked up their spoons and dazedly turned to their bowls of soup.
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