Chapter 19 : Souilles
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The light was fading as Ron stood, back to the window, admiring his handy work. ‘Pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself!’ he thought to himself. On the table in front of him was an array of papers laid out in piles and each pile had a different coloured dot in the top right hand corner. Some piece of parchment had more than one dot and others no dot at all. It was all part of the Ronald Weasley Wedding system. Each dot represented a different category within the wedding, for example the green dot was dress code and outfits, and Ron had bewitched them so that if he tapped his wand on a specific dot, all the relevant information would accumulate into one pile ready for his browsing. Each piece was cross referenced and he had an index of each piece of parchment and what it contained. Yep – Ronald Weasley had got organised. It had all started one evening when Ginny, Harry and himself had been sat around the coffee table drowning in parchment.
“Ron! There is no way we are ever going to find it in this mess!” Ginny chastised her brother. “It’s so bad that even accio isn’t working…we need to sort this.”
“Why?” Ron seemed affronted. He’d been working hard to make sure he had kept everything that might even be a tiny bit helpful when planning a wedding, from lists of Hermione’s favourite flowers to scraps of paper with addresses written on them just in case. He began rummaging through the mess. “I know that everything I need is here…it just may take a moment to find it – but its here, I promise!”
“It’s all well and good promising Ron, but if you can’t even find the guest list among this then how are you going to organise the invites? Look; you need a system.” Ginny sighed.
“A what?!” Harry and Ron exclaimed together and then promptly burst out laughing like children.
“A system; Ok, so I know I am going to sound like Hermione” The boys exchanged looks and immediately felt 14 years old again, “But Merlin knows, she’d be good at this. You need to make sure that you know where everything is and what each document refers to. I’d suggest colours for each category and then a simple cross reference spell should be able to sort them into correct piles. Yes?” She was met with blank looks and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘Boys!’ Grabbing a handful of papers, she began to sort through them. Harry and Ron were just sat there, mouths agog, watching. “Well?”
A few incoherent noises of agreement later and they jumped into action, sorting through the papers and adhering to Ginny’s colour system.
It had only taken a month or so to complete it, and Ron felt an odd sense of pride swell in his stomach whenever he looked at the completed project. It was either pride or nausea, he was never sure which. Regardless, he had done it. He flicked his wand toward the kettle and a burst of steam issued from its spout. ‘Time for one last cup of tea before the off’ he thought.
A battered old case stood by the door with the initials R.B.W stamped onto it in peeling gold. He’d had to shrink it slightly, of course, but his old Hogwarts case was getting its first outing since he’d left and Ron felt a twinge of nostalgia whenever it caught his eye. They’d been through a lot together, him and that case. Still….he drained the dregs of his tea and flicked his wand at the piles of paper in front of him. They flew seamlessly into a folder, dropped into order and closed the lid. With the folder under one arm and the other hand gripped around the case, Ron twisted on the spot and disappeared from sight, leaving an empty flat and a still warm kettle.
* * * * * * *
“You ready for this?” Draco asked Hermione as they approached an old wooden fronted house. She nodded, raised her brief case and pushed past him to rap on the door. They could hear the sound of her knock reverberating around what sounded like an empty hall. No one came. Hermione tried again, her knock shorter and sharper this time, a look of determination settling on her face. From inside they hear a faint voice grumpily calling, “Quoi? Qu’est-ce qu’il y a maintenant?!”
Hermione turned and looked at Draco, who nodded at her and urged her towards the door. “Urm…Madam Cache? Is that you?”
Draco snorted and raised his eyebrows at her, “Seriously? Is that you?”
Hermione gave him a withering look and stepped back for him to try, offering him the door with a wave of her hand. He stepped forward. “Madam Cache? We are from the Ministry of Magic, England, and we were wondering if we could talk to you about something rather important?” He joined Hermione on the step below and waited, looking rather too smug for Hermione’s liking. The door opened a crack and a surprisingly tall woman poked her head around the gap.
“What? What ‘eez it you want to talk about?” Her voice was harsh and rough, as if she was speaking through cut glass and years of cigarettes. She looked them up and down, noting the Muggle clothing and wrinkling her nose.
Draco smiled at her and from the corner of his mouth muttered to Hermione “Maybe you ought not to mention you’re Muggle born to this one, eh?” She looked from him the old woman and glowered in her direction. Draco, however, continued to smile and replied in a voice smoother than honey and just as sickly, “We were wondering if you would talk to us about a certain document we believe to have in your possession. Pertaining to the Pro-Pureblood Protection Act of 1726?”
“You mean Great – oncle Frederique’s legacy? Why? Why zat?” She wasn’t fooled by the sweet talking Draco; Hermione smirked. “Fine, fine, come in.”
She pulled the door open and walked back into the hall. She was tall, much taller than Hermione, with poker straight grey hair that fell to her waist. As they watched her retreat into the gloomy corridor Hermione looked anxiously at Draco, who just looked at her and nodded towards the door. Tentatively she followed. The wooden panelling made the long thin hall feel claustrophobic and the dark stain on the wood, combined with the lack of windows made it almost impossible for Hermione to see where she was going after Draco closed the door behind them. She was walking slowly, taking small steps with her hands out in front of her when she felt a hand in the small of her back, urging her forwards.
“Alright, alright – it’s pitch black if you hadn’t noticed!” Even in the dark she could tell he was smirking. And then it hit her – of course, magic. She whispered into the dark “Lumos”
The light from her wand tip spilled into the hall. Hermione shot Draco a withering look over her shoulder and headed towards the door that stood ajar in front of them. As she pushed it open her eyes widened and a small gasp escaped her lips. She was stood in a room with more books than she had seen in anyone’s home, including her own. The bookcases reached from floor to ceiling and covered the walls. On each shelf were tens of books, each covered in heavy leather jackets, the names inscribed into the spine in shimmering gold, catching in the flickering candle light. It was much brighter in here, and the soft glow from the candles filled the room with a gentle orange light. Mme. Cache seemed much less intimidating in here, without the harsh French sunlight on her sharp features. She waved a hand towards the deep leather sofa beside her and said, “Sit.”
“Thank you -” Draco began as they sat.
“Don’t” She cut in, her thin, jewel incrusted fingers clasped in her lap. Her lips almost disappeared into her face in a way that rivalled even McGonagall’s. Hermione felt just like she was at school again, and not in a good way. “You want my oncle’s work, oui?”
“Well, yes, it would be highly useful for the Ministry -” Draco tried once more.
“Well it isn’t for sale.” Her response was short and clipped, a hint of wariness edged her voice.
“Oh no!” Hermione said, leaning forward ever so slightly, “We don’t want to buy it Madam Cache.”
“You don’t? ‘Zen why do you need it? It ‘eez a very valuable document.”
“Yes, we know.” Hermione glanced at Draco, who nodded at her to continue. “The thing is…as I am sure you know, over the past few years the World Ministries have been trying to gather documentation about all the laws passed that differentiate Muggleborns from those of Pureblood descent.”
“Well, the English Ministry for Magic is incredibly lucky to have gathered all the necessary paper work to change the majority of the English Wizarding Laws that do this,” Madam Cache did not look overly impressed. Her nose wrinkled a little and Hermione narrowed her eyes. Oh no. It was not happening like this. She would get this document if it killed her! “Which is a good thing.” She added pointedly.
“Madam Cache, you can help us with equalising the priority of Muggleborns and Purebloods in the case of a catastrophe, or magical disaster…but we will need to see the copy of the law that you have in your possession.” Hermione finished, looking imploringly at the woman, who was twisting one of the large signet rings on her fingers and had a sour look on her face.
“I see. And what makes you think I ‘ave it?”
“What?” Draco exclaimed.
“Well, you are assuming zat I ‘ave it. And even eef I do…what makes you think zat I would give it to you? ‘Ow do I know zat you are even from ze Ministry?”
Hermione let out a little ‘Oh!’ and began fumbling in her bag for her Ministry approved ID card. Draco put out a hand, rested on the arm that was elbow deep in her bag and looked at her. He turned to face Madam Cache. “I see that this is very important to you but I can assure you that we are here for the sole purpose of duplicating the document to ensure that any loopholes in the Pro-Pureblood Protection Act can be closed and equal standing granted.”
“What did you say your name was, Monseiur?” Madam Cache cocked her head to one side and her eyes roamed Draco, taking in his hair, eyes and stature like she was trying hard to remember every detail.
“I didn’t,” Draco replied, “But as you ask – It’s Draco Malfoy, and this is my colleague, Miss Hermione Granger.” Hermione stuck out her hand, but Madam Cache simply continued looking at Draco, a look of understanding crossing her face.
“Malfoy, you say? But isn’t you family Pureblood?” Draco nodded, “’Zen why are you ‘elping zees souillés?!” She looked at Hermione and Draco’s mouth dropped open. Anger flashed in his eyes.
He took a deep breath and said in as steady a voice as he could manage. “Because, Madam Cache, my family had paid its dues. My family was wrong for so many generations and now I have a chance to put that right – the world has moved on, Madam. And unfortunately for you, it is just going to keep going until there is no difference in status between Purebloods and Squibs. Now, if you cannot, or will not, help us with this document then I am sure that there is someone who can. And as for your use of that disgusting term, well, you should be ashamed of yourself.” Now it was Madam Cache’s turn to look taken aback. Hermione stared between the two, uneasy at the atmosphere that was growing within the room. It’s funny how a room that was so warm could grow so cold at a single word.
“Come on Hermione, we are leaving Madam Cache now. I’m sure we shall see you again soon, Madam.” Draco spat. Hermione hurried after him as he left, the harsh sunlight assaulting her eyes after the darkness of the Cache house. She found him across the road, squeezing metal railing he was leaning against so hard his knuckles turned white.
“Draco, what was that?!” She hissed as she reached him.
“She is stuck! Stuck in the last century – she thinks its right!” Draco
replied through clenched teeth.
“But we need that document Draco, if we are ever going to get home again, we need it! And now…well it’s going to be pretty damn hard to get it!”
“Well we will have to get it somewhere else. I’m not going back to talk to her. Not after that.”
“Oh for the sake of Merlin, Draco! You know as well as I do that there is no one else who as a copy of that! What do you think we have spent the last months doing, huh? Taking our time? No. We have spent months trying to find anyone who may have a copy of this to give us the best chance of getting it and did we find anyone? No. So now you have just gone and blown it! She’s not going to want us back now. Well done Draco.”
“But she insulted you. She called you a…”
“Mudblood? Well, that’s one I haven’t heard before!”
“No. It was worse than that. I am so ashamed I ever called you anything like that and now I can’t stand it when anyone even has the gall to…” He slammed his palm against the metal, clenching his jaw to try and contain his anger.
“Draco…” Hermione put one hand on his shoulder. “What did it mean?”
He didn’t even need to ask.
“Stain.” He spat and Hermione raised one hand to her mouth, closing her eyes. She took a steadying breath.
“Well,” she said, “We are just going to have to go back in there and prove her wrong, aren’t we?”
Draco looked at her, incredulous, “God. I wish I was as strong as you sometimes.”
Hermione simply smiled gently and took his hand.
“Come on. We have to do this.” She led him back towards the door. “Together.”
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