Chapter 2 : It Begins
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A soft rap on the door awoke Hermione from her slumber. “Miss,” called a high, squeaky voice. “Tituba has breakfast for you.”
Groggily, Hermione replied, “Come in.”
“Scrambled eggs, ham, orange juice and milk, miss. Please call Tituba if you need anything. Mistress will be coming within the hour.” The house elf placed the tray on the bed and left.
Hermione sat on the bed and stared at her breakfast. Her mind was supplying her with thousands of possible outcomes of eating the food, though her stomach kept growling, demanding her to eat. Perhaps there was Veritraserum in her orange juice, or maybe a sleeping draught was mixed into her milk. Poison could have easily been hidden in the scrambled eggs.
Another knock shook Hermione from her stupor. A blonde woman stepped into the room, her stride overflowing with elegance. She was fairly tall, with a good four inches on Hermione’s 5’3” height. A soft smile graced her weary face. If Hermione had not guessed who the woman was, she might have thought her to be very likable. But this was clearly Narcissa Malfoy. “Are you not hungry?” Narcissa asked. Unsure of what to say, Hermione just shrugged. Narcissa snapped her fingers and Tituba appeared with a crack.
“Mistress?” squeaked the house elf.
“Miss Granger appears to not have much of an appetite this morning. Take care of her tray.”
Tituba grabbed the untouched tray from the bed and disappeared with a crack.
“If you grow hungry, just call and she will bring you anything that you wish to eat,” Narcissa said. Her eyes swept over Hermione’s form, appraising her. Concerned by this scrutiny, Hermione looked down at her clothes. She was still wearing the dusty blouse and trousers that she had worn the day before. She ran her hands through her tangled hair trying in vain to comb it out. “Well, well. We can’t have a guest of the Malfoy House looking like this, now can we?” Narcissa stated more to herself than Hermione. She snapped her fingers again and a different house elf appeared. “Prepare a bath for Miss Granger and then set out a nice outfit and some personal care products,” ordered the blonde.
“Yes, Mistress,” replied the short, little creature and it quickly scurried away to fulfill its orders.
“Come on, dear. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Hermione was slightly taken aback by this, but followed Narcissa anyway.
As she walked through the door, Hermione was in awe. Before her eyes was the largest, grandest bathroom she had ever seen: even the prefects’ bathroom could not compare. The cathedral ceiling and walls were covered in silver plating; the intricate tile floor was a soft green, much like Slytherin green in pastel form; the silver piping wound around the floating sea green sinks, leading up to the elegant faucets; and delicately carved mirrors hung above the three sinks. That was only part of the magnificent bathroom. The Jacuzzi was enticing, the shower spacious, and the toilet actually looked comfortable. The Slytherin colors were to be expected but Hermione was surprised by the use of them in such soft shades.
“The water should already be in the Jacuzzi and a menu of shampoos and body washes should appear upon command. I’ll be back in an hour. I expect you to be cleaned and dressed by then,” Narcissa explained, distracting Hermione from her admiring.
Hermione nodded and the lady of the Malfoy house walked off to attend to other matters. Once the blonde had left, Hermione removed her clothes and slipped into the comforting warmth of the foamy water.
Glad to be rid of the dirt and grime that had covered her body, Hermione examined the clothes left for her by the house elf. A dress made of fine cream and black silk, but in a very simple cut, was laid out on the bed. She slid the smooth fabric over her head and turned to face the full-length mirror. The wide straps showed off her shoulders nicely and the square neck fit her perfectly. However, the waist was a bit big for her small figure. After much debate, Hermione opened the huge cherry wardrobe that was on the wall opposite the main door. Her first impression was that the clothes were nicely made, but she was startled when she realized that they were all made for young men. Slightly disturbed, Hermione scanned the wide doors for a belt hanger. She quickly found a group of belts and chose a caramel brown one which she fastened tightly around her waist.
Satisfied with her choice, she began brushing out her messy brown curls. The process was long and tedious, as her naturally tangled curls and waves had become even worse during her recent ordeal involving Draco Malfoy. Once she had combed out and dried her hair, Hermione inspected herself once more in the mirror. Her ankle-length dress flowed smoothly over her body, and her hair now cascaded gently over her shoulders and down her back. In a corner, she found a pair of Mary Janes that were precisely her size. As she slipped them on, a knock came at her door.
“Come in,” Hermione called.
Narcissa Malfoy entered the room. “My, my. You do clean up well. Come along. You have a meeting with the Dark Lord.”
Hermione’s breath caught in her throat. She was going to see Voldemort. Taking deep breaths, Hermione tried to retain a calm composure as she walked through the door into the cold hall and off toward certain doom.
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