Chapter 4 : Civil
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“Crap,” she muttered under her breath at the drops of coffee that had fallen from her mug and onto her pyjamas. She was one hundred percent positive she would most likely be jinxed if she sat down by the fire so instead she settled herself in a worn armchair by the bookshelves.
Draco had barely slept that night and had risen from his bed at around five thirty. He remembered the previous night’s events and scowled a three week ban all for a bloody spell. Retreating to his room after lashing out at Granger hadn’t been the best of ideas. Blaise and Pansy continued to slag the mudblood off when really he didn’t want to hear about her and when Potter and Weasley had arrived in the dormitory they had voiced their opinions of him. Ignoring the temptation to hex them both in their sleep Draco made his way down to the common room. After rifling through the cupboards he made himself a strong cup of black coffee and sat down on the sofa and lit the fire.
It was when he was alone that he remembered the last few months of his life. The darkness that overcame Malfoy Manor as his parents played host to Voldemort and all the death eaters. He remembered the few day he got alone in his room to do as he pleased before he was hauled away for the Dark Lord to relieve stress or anger on Draco. There were countless times when he was summoned to the dining room and left to kneel before the Dark Lord, the pain he unleashed on him had been unbelievable, but that’s what happens when you are the youngest in the manor. He remembered the worry his mother endured after Potter defeated him and they escaped back to the manor. She worried that the ministry would come for them until one day they just left him and that was when he truly felt betrayed.
Draco was pulled out of his dark memories as he heard somebody stumbling down the stairs; he prayed it was Pansy or Blaise out of the nine returning seventh years. Alas down stumbled the golden girl herself only briefly awake, typical. The last person he wanted to notice him was walking towards the kitchen in surprisingly short pyjama shorts in green and a grey strappy t-shirt. Her hair was pulled up in a messy bun showing several faint scars on the back of her neck. She hadn’t washed of her makeup the previous night so there were smudge black lines on her upper eyelid making it obvious she had just rolled out of bed. If Draco didn’t know any better she could have been a Slytherin in those colours and dare he say it, an attractive one. He pinched himself to pull himself to his senses she was still a plain girl she had just chosen rather provocative clothing. The shorts were loose fitting however the top was the opposite and clung to her figure. He couldn’t help but notice how incredibly thin she was, in fact she looked scarily thin and rather underweight. His eyes were running up and down her body now noticing the faint outline of her ribs when she turned around and spilt her coffee. He didn’t look away and he didn’t glare, he simply kept her eye contact. There was no anger in her eyes reflecting on his outburst last night instead he saw fear. She looked around her before walking briskly towards an armchair and opened up a book that she had brought down with her. He looked away from her and began to flick through the papers that had been left on the table last night.
Why did he have to be down here? Hermione thought as she collapsed into the armchair with her book in hand. He showed no emotion towards her, she would have preferred a few angry words than being ignored. She looked up and saw him hunched over the papers on the coffee table. His blonde hair was falling softly in his eyes and his brow was furrowed in concentration on whatever he was reading over. She shook her head and looked down at her book, Romeo and Juliet; however it wasn’t really the muggle book. She had placed a spell on Salazar Slytherin’s Journal to conceal it to everyone else’s eyes but her own. She opened it up and began to read an entry.
5th September 1031
Today is my youngest daughter, Elladora’s 21st birthday. I miss her and her siblings terribly. I last saw her on her wedding day last year when she married one of my own students, one of the Malfoy twins. She looked so beautiful. Her black curls cascaded down to her hip in big waves and her porcelain skin was flawless. I remember the cheerful smile on her face as I walked her to the altar and took my seat. She was a spitting image of her mother on her own her Own wedding day. She was the first daughter to marry and it appears she was first to bring another heir of Slytherin into the world. I overheard during my nigh time stroll down Diagon alley, it was being discussed by two gossiping witches. Scorpius Salazar Malfoy she had named him, honouring me. I wonder what she would say if she knew I still lived amongst them in disguise.
Hermione closed the book and pictured the girl in her mind; she wondered what she went on to do in life. What neither she nor Draco noticed though was that Salazar Slytherin had been sat by a tree in the founders painting watching the two, shortly joined by Godric.
“You picked up on those two as well I see,” Godric said as he leant against a tree.
“Yes, a peculiar two, a Gryffindor Golden Girl and a Slytherin Prince, I cannot decide what to think of the two,” Salazar replied still glancing at the two. “He stared at her for a long time as if deciding what to think of her but he saw fear in her eyes as did I when she noticed him.”
“We definitely need to keep an eye on these two, what do you think of the girl being a Parselmouth?” Godric asked. Salazar sat and pondered over the question and watched her walk with her head down back to her dormitory.
“I honestly don’t know,” he murmured.
After washing her hair and performing a drying spell Hermione changed into her uniform. She glanced at her calendar and noticed the writing scrawled on September 2nd “Mum’s birthday” her mood instantly dropped at the loss she felt not having seen her parents in so long. She grabbed her bag and left the room and headed down to the common room, trying to put a smile on her face. By now Draco had left to get ready and instead Ron stood prodding the coffee machine whilst Harry laughed at his attempts and Neville sat by the fire looking over his timetable. She took a breath and smiled before sitting down next to the head boy.
“Morning Neville,” she said half heartedly.
“Morning,” he replied giving her a smile and looked down again but he snapped his head back up. “What’s wrong?” he said gently and placed his timetable on the table.
“It’s nothing...just...It’s my mum’s birthday today,” she mumbled.
“Say no more I know how you feel,” he replied and pulled her closer to him. He had changed since the war and Hermione liked having a new friend to confide in. She crawled closer to him and sat in a ball with his arm around her and his chin on her head.
“Is this how you felt? With your parents being in hospital?” she whispered into his chest and she heard him sigh.
“Yep, I didn’t know what to do. I was on summer holiday at the time so I didn’t have school to distract me so I spent the whole day alone in my room. I just sat there thinking to myself about the happy times I could remember. I just remember a single tear finally falling in the evening but keep that part to yourself, wouldn’t want my masculine reputation being jeopardised,” he joked at the end. She half sniffed half laughed, realising she had started to softly cry as well which he noticed as he pulled a tissue out of his pocket and dried her eyes.
Over at the breakfast bar Ron and Harry sat staring at the two by the fire wondering what there eyes were seeing.
“Do you think they-
“No no of course not,” Harry finished. Neville and Hermione, he knew for certain that wasn’t a relationship that would ever happen. Draco had been wandering the same thing as he overheard the boys when he came down after changing. He seated himself at the opposite end of the breakfast bar and watched the Head boy and girl; he didn’t know what was going on but from the comforting that Longbottom was giving it was clear it wasn’t a cheerful conversation.
Draco drained his coffee just as Pansy came down the stairs behind Hannah and Padma, she looked tired. He pushed over a fresh mug of coffee as she sat down next to him.
“I assume your room mates are dire as well?” he smirked.
“Actually, they have a lot of good gossip and I didn’t know either of them had such a good taste in boys and fashion,” she smiled.
“You are joking right?” he asked slowly.
“Nope, I’m surprised by how much I have in common with them,” she smiled and went to sit with the two girls on the sofa.
“What’s up with you mudblood?” She said when she noticed Hermione’s red eyes.
“Back off Pansy,” Neville snapped and glared at her which took the Slytherin by surprise. Neville stood up and pulled Hermione to her feet, still cradling her like a young girl; together they left the common room.
As Hermione exited the room with Neville she noticed the sympathetic smiles of Rowena and Helga from the painting and she timidly smiled back. Hermione cheered slightly at Neville’s attempts to cheer her up especially when he heard some first years call her the Gryffindor Princess. He walked the rest of the way with her arm on his elbow and regularly referred to her as “my lady” or “your grace”, which earned a giggle from her. They walked into the great hall giving mocking royal waves to the younger years until they reached the seventh year table.
“A seat for my Lady,” he bowed and pulled a chair out for her.
“Why thank you kind sir,” she curtsied before taking her seat. He sat opposite her and they looked at each other in silence before bursting out laughing at their display. Their eyes began to water by the time the other seventh years took their seats , not knowing what the two were in stitches about. Hermione’s laughter stopped however when she and Draco noticed that the only seat left was next to her. Eight sets of eyes looked from Draco to Hermione before he quietly sat down next to her. To begin with they were shocked he hadn’t kicked up a fuss but it was soon forgotten as the post arrived. There was only a Daily Prophet for Hermione but Draco received several thick envelope’s. Spoilt brat Hermione thought to herself probably loads of letters or gifts from relatives but with each opened envelope Malfoy let out a bigger sigh. Nobody else on the table seemed to notice except her. He leant his head in his hands and gazed down at the multiple demands. He looked up and noticed her gaze on him, he didn’t know why he bothered but he simply handed her a pile of the letters. She accepted the letters cautiously and flicked through them all, the list of demands were endless; 1000 galleon’s heating bill, 500 galleon payment to be made to a business, another 2000 galleons on an investment paid late, a demand to inspect the manor, questioning about his parents, late bills. She stared wide eyed at the list before looking back at Malfoy who was frowning.
“How long do you have to pay all the bills?” she whispered
“One month, and a replies need to be sent to the ministry for the demands by next week.” He muttered.
“I do my parents bills for their home in Britain, I could...eh...help you? That’s if you need it of course.” She went silent and he just looked at her. He was curious about Granger, he was sure of that but the hatred had nearly gone since the war, he had just lost his temper last night because Quidditch was the only thing he had to look forward to. Was spending time with her going to help him uncover any mysteries though, there was only one way to find out.
“Uh sure, that would be helpful,” he thanked her and she smiled timidly, they sat in silence before he spoke up again.
“You said you did your parent’s bills, why don’t they do it themselves?” he asked her and she looked down.”You don’t have to answer,”
“No it’s fine. They live in Australia now with no memory of me but I can’t bear to sell their house here...it’s my mum’s birthday today,” she trailed off and Draco realised why she had been upset. Normally this would be the part where he should place a comforting arm around her shoulder but that was far from acceptable with her.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled and she just smiled weakly at him before turning her attention to the breakfast in front of her. Draco ate his breakfast in silence but noticed how Granger simply pushed her food around with her fork before drinking a glass of water and pushing the plate away. The only thing he had seen her eat since they had arrived last night was a few salad leaves and an apple, it made him wander what other things where on her mind.
Hermione realised that she and Malfoy had just had a civil conversation for the first time in...well....forever. Perhaps he had changed since the war; he had clearly grown up with the new stresses of caring for himself like Hermione had been through. He may have bitten her head off last night but so would she if she had been a Quidditch Captain. Perhaps things were going to be different this year, maybe they could stand as much as being civil towards each other. Next to her Draco was thinking exactly the same thing.
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