Chapter 2 : Anonymous
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It's never enough to say I care
But I'm caught between what you wanted from me
And knowing that if I give that to you
I might just disappear”
-Not Meant To Be by Theory of a Deadman
The summer sun spilled through the window of the Three Broomsticks, Hermione was there with Ginny and they had just finished ordering a cup of tea. Hermione stared out the window, she had been planning to tell Ginny about what had occurred yesterday afternoon but now that it was time to do so she did not know really where to begin.
“What did you want to tell me?” Ginny asked casually. She really had no idea what she was going to hear and so expected it to be a usual thing.
Hermione sighed and looked away from the window, her face no longer bathed in sunlight. “Something rather… odd happened to me yesterday.” Hermione began.
Ginny just nodded. Hermione, planning out her words, sat and thought over the events from the previous day. It was a rather odd thing to happen to say the least, but thankfully no one had seemed to know anything about it when she had returned to work.
“Are you going to tell me then? Or are you just going to leave me hanging?” Ginny asked, smiling a little. She had decided to tell Ginny first because hopefully her reaction would show her, or at least give her a good idea, of how Harry and Ron would react.
“I saw Draco Malfoy yesterday.” Hermione began. Ginny’s eyebrows shot up.
“Are you serious? Why? Where?”
“My boss gave me a folder, it told me I needed to go down to the Inner-workings and get a report on something that was happening there.” Hermione told her friend.
Ginny’s brows drew together. “Wait, Draco works at the Inner-workings?!” Hermione nodded, and continued.
“Yes. I found it strange as well. You’d think after the war such a prestigious job would… Well, I mean he was never very bad at school work and can keep a level head, that’s probably why they hired him.” He had never been very good at his schoolwork either, but she decided that she should be able to talk about him without insulting him every second word, like she would have back at school.
“So, anyway, I went into his office and sadly the meeting had already begun when I walked in, so I was unable to- What?” Ginny was looking past Hermione’s head with a mixed expression her face, one of confusion, amusement and surprise.
“Speak of the devil!” Ginny whispered to Hermione who whirled around in her seat, only to see Draco Malfoy in the doorway of the Three Broomsticks. He met Hermione's eyes and marched towards her and Ginny. Everything about him looked furious, especially his eyes, it was as though a fire burned behind them.
“Dammit, Granger! What is the meaning of this! I gave you two simple tasks and look what happened!” He slammed a copy of the newspaper down in front of her. “Do you see what a mistake you’ve made?! Merlin, I thought you could do this one simple thing-“
“What are you on about, Malfoy?!” Hermione asked angrily, her voice as loud as his. “I did exactly what our agreement called for!” His face slightly relaxed but he still looked positively outraged.
“Read it.” He told her sternly, tapping the paper in front of her with his pointer finger. Hermione continued to stare at him, a retort at being told what to do forming at the end of her tongue, but she decided against it and looked down at the headlines.
Draco Lucius Malfoy and Hermione Jean Granger – Engaged to be married!
Hermione could feel her stomach drop and she stared at the paper for just a moment before Ginny snatched it, and read the headlines. The second she did so she turned to Hermione with a look of absolute confusion on her face.
“What?” She asked Hermione. “How did this…?”
Hermione glanced up at Draco who was shaking his head with his lips pursed in disgust, avoiding eye contact with either of the ladies seated.
“What is this?!” Ginny demanded. “Can one of you please explain what the hell is going on?”
Draco looked down at Hermione. “You didn’t tell her?” He asked, raising his eyebrows.
Hermione looked at Ginny apologetically. “I was telling you right when Draco came in.”
“But you skipped the part about being engaged to him!”
“We’re not engaged.” Draco and Hermione said sharply in unison.
Hermione bit her lip. “I was getting to that."
Ginny continued to stare in an unimpressed fashion and so Hermione told Ginny what exactly happened in full detail, be it a little rushed. At the end of it all Ginny looked at the two of them in bewilderment.
“Wow. You know Harry and Ron will be livid when they hear about this? And they know we came here together, so it’s not like they won’t be able to find you. I guess it’s just a matter of when the read the paper!”
Draco let out a groan before saying. “And Hermione, I never got to tell Carter-“
“Carter?” She asked, unaware of whom that may be and why he would be involved.
“Rueben Carter.” He looked at her like she was a fool and continued. “I went to tell him we were not engaged but I couldn’t find him and he did not reply to my owl. So he still thinks we’re engaged.”
Hermione shook her head. Of course this had to happen. Everything was falling apart. It was like a train wreck. At that moment the waiter came and set two cups of tea down in front of Hermione and Ginny, and then conjured milk and sugar.
“Sorry for the wait.” He said apologetically before hurrying back off into the kitchens. Hermione looked down at the dark liquid which held a red tint. She was far less in the mood for orange pekoe than she had been when she ordered it, now that her fake engagement to Malfoy was public. But she supposed a warm drink would calm her nerves so she poured in some milk and two spoonfuls of sugar.
“Well, I am going to go before Potter or Weasley show up.” He told them. “And play the charade okay, Granger? Just play along, to everyone, got that? You, too.” He told Ginny. “Just play along until we know more.”
He shot Hermione a do this right for once sort of look and Hermione rolled her eyes at him, watching as he turned and walked for the door, apparating with a crack the moment he was outside.
The tea was still painfully hot and burnt Hermione’s tongue upon contact. She made a face and set the tea back down onto the thick wooden table of the Three Broomsticks. She could see Ginny smiling in amusement at her over her own cup of orange pekoe.
“What?” Hermione asked. After just explaining what had occurred yesterday, and having Malfoy come to them and not to mention the article in the paper, this was not the reaction Hermione had intended. “What?” Hermione repeated as her friend continued to smile wickedly at her.
“Hermione Jean Malfoy. There’s a bit of a ring to it, don’t you think?” Ginny asked Hermione, her eyes sparkling.
“You had to do that now?” Hermione's features were completely lacking the usual bright-eyed-and-bushy-tail expression she wore so well.
Ginny grinned. “Yeah! This is funny if you think about it.” Ginny laughed out loud and then took a sip of her tea, which bubbled a little from Ginny's laughter. Hermione blew on her own tea before taking a sip.
“You wouldn’t find it funny if it were you, Mrs Potter.” Hermione said spitefully. Who besides Carter could have gotten that lie? No one would have been able to as far as she knew.
“Maybe not, but thankfully I’m married to Harry rather than engaged to Draco Malfoy. What I find curious is how easily people latched onto this! You were childhood enemies! When he was here, although you were both doing a very mature job on hiding your feelings, I could see…” Ginny paused, a devilish grin forming on her face. “The undeniable and unimaginable amount of chemistry between you two. The way his eyes slowly grazed you when you weren’t-“
Hermione wiped out her wand and Ginny burst into laughter. “Sorry, I had to. But don’t all those soppy love stories always say enemies have the best-“
Hermione stopped Ginny from talking yet again, this time by physically covering her mouth until she agreed to stop.
“But, Gin, do you think people will believe the paper?”
“I think the The Prophet is known as a trustworthy source and people will believe anything.” Ginny said, finding a way to say yes without actually saying so. “I also don’t understand how stupid people can be! Well, I mean, I do but you two? For Merlins sake you were enemies throughout your childhood and haven’t even seen each other since the war! Obviously the public does not know that, but it’s easy enough to see you don’t spend time together. Thankfully they haven’t gotten an incriminating shot yet.”
Hermione nodded when her friend finished speaking. She was glad of that too.
“Oh, no. Harry and Ron are outside. They’re coming in. Look casual.” Ginny muttered.
Hermione could feel her stomach drop. She made sure to stare intently at the table in front of her, hoping neither Ron nor Harry would notice Ginny and herself, but as a shadow loomed over her she saw that that was impossible. She straightened her back and looked up at Harry who looked rather hard-set. Ever since the war he had really mellowed out and was rarely raging mad like he had been for a while in his teens.
He looked down at the paper which was still lying on the table. “Want to tell me what in Merlin’s name this is about?” He clenched his jaw and Hermione met his eye.
“Harry, where’s Ron?” Ginny asked, her voice just as bitter as it would have sounded if she had asked anyone else. She didn’t have to hide any of her fiery charm from Harry. “I saw him come in with you.”
“He went to the other side of the pub looking for Hermione. Be thankful I found you first, he’s livid, that one.” Harry spoke, not taking his eyes off of Hermione’s. “But don’t avoid the question. How did this happen and why does no one seem to know a thing about it?”
“Because-“ Hermione began just as Ron showed up. His face was so red Hermione supposed it couldn't be healthy.
“Hermione! What the hell is this?! Why don’t I know?!” He blurted.
Hermione stood up. “Calm yourselves! It’s not even what it looks like-“
“Looks like? How is it not what it looks like, Hermione?!” Ron bellowed. Thankfully not many people turned to see what was going on because the Three Broomsticks was a rather loud place. “You’re engaged to him! Do you not remember all the times he called you a filthy mudbood? Has that just slipped your bloody mind? Did he cast a spell on you or something?” He turned to Harry and said. “This has got to be a bloody love potion! Why Malfoy would put one on Hermione-“
“I’m not under a love potion, Ron! I wouldn’t be acting like this if I was, would I?! And I’m not engaged to Malfoy!”
“Then where did The Prophet get the idea from anyway?! Blimey this has got to be the stupidest thing you’ve ever done! Did it not cross your mind to tell me or Harry?" He paused. "Wait, Gin, did you know?”
“Of course my little sister knew that you’re marrying Malfoy and I didn't” Ron cursed loudly and stomped his foot in a childish manor.
Harry put his hand on Ron’s shoulder. “Cool it, mate.” He told him. “Listen to yourself!”
“Listen to her!” Ron practically yelled.
“She’s not saying anything, Ron. You’ve being doing all the talking and she’s been doing all the listening.” Ginny took a sip of her tea and Hermione envied the way she could keep her calm so well during one of her brother’s hissy fits. Hermione bet her face was turning a horrid shade from the situation.
“Tell us the story, Hermione.” Harry said, taking a seat in the booth beside Ginny.
“Yeah, I want to hear how you accepted such a git-“ Ron got cut off by a stern look from Ginny.
Hermione shook her head. She didn’t want to explain this to the two of them, not after Ron’s blow up and not after she just explained it to Ginny, but she especially did not want to after Malfoy said to play along and not tell the truth to anyone. When they learned the real story they would forgive her, but they would just have to wait.
“I can’t. Not now, I’m sorry.” She pressed her palm to her forehead as she would if she had a headache. “I just… I can’t. I’ll talk to you three later.” She smiled wanely at the three of them who did not answer until she had turned her back and made her way to the door.
Hermione pushed it open quickly and immediately closed her eyes and imagined the doors of The Daily Prophet. She had to find out what was going on, and knew that that was the one place she cold go to for answers and that she needed to get them quickly.
She disappaeared with a crack.
Hermione appeared just outside the doors of The Prophet and set her shoulders square to herself, marching into the building which was buzzing with life even though today was one of her days off.
She forced herself through the hordes and immediately went into one of the elevators and pressed the button labeled “5”. It was where the manager, the editor in chief and the manager of production were situated. The elevator dinged and she stepped off onto a short, red carpet. The walls were a cream colour and pleasant instrumental music played softly. Five doors stood on the wall in front of her, all labeled in gold. She knocked on the one labeled “Production.” They should know who sent the information in.
The door opened without a sound just a minute later and in front of her stood a lady with a grey bun and spectacles whom she’d seen around the office before. “May I have a minute?” Hermione asked. The lady smiled.
“Ms Granger. I was wondering if you would come in about the article. But if you want an interview level four would be far more appropriate-“
“I wish to talk of the article published this morning, but an interview, no.”
The lady introduced herself as Ms Miller and showed Hermione in. It was a large space with several desks and papers piled in untidy heaps, and a chart on “Domestic Magic Uses - The Workplace.” posted on the wall. Hermione took a seat on the edge of one of the chairs, it held a stack of paper and she did not want to bump it or even move it, she just wanted answers and to not get sidetracked.
“Well, Ms Granger. Do you want to tell me what you are doing here?” Ms Miller asked as she shuffled through what a looked like loose articles and old newspaper clippings. Hermione wondered if she was really the only one working here or if the others were in the basement where the paper for the next day is put together and packaged.
“I want to know who gave you the information on my engagement to Draco Malfoy.” Hermione stated. She wanted to add because it is far from the truth but decided, based on Malfoy’s order to play along, it was best not to say anything.
“Mm.” Ms Miller murmured. She looked up and smiled at Hermione. “I’m sorry but I can’t say.”
Hermione pressed her lips together. “Why? Because it is information you are not allowed to give out? I am sorry but the article released was private information and I have the right to-“
“It’s nothing like that!” Ms Miller said, still smiling as she shuffled through other papers, and then organized them into a thick pile which seemed to make sense to her, and then set them aside with another stack of papers. “I got owled an anonymous letter this morning. It said it was already starting to get circulated and we should make some money on it before its common knowledge. And it was a good thing, too. Did you know your little first pager made more sales in a day then we normally get in an entire month? It was sold out everywhere! The people love stuff like that.” The lady paused but Hermione said nothing. “You know, the whole war heroine and war criminal come together in matrimony. Anything romantic and people will eat it right up! They seemed to have already forgotten how unromantic that would have been during the war.a No matter, if you and your fiancé could come in and do a few shots for us that would-“
“It was anonymous?” Hermione repeated what the woman had said earlier.
Ms Miller nodded. “Absolutely. I would show it to you myself but I disposed of it so Witches Weekly or someone couldn’t get their hands on it. Just told one of the writers from fourth floor exactly what to write and then took it straight back to production.”
“So you don’t know who wrote it?” Hermione double checked. Better safe than sorry.
Ms Miller frowned. “No, I’m sorry. But if I find out who they are I’ll let you know.”
Hermione stood to leave, brushing off her clothing. “Thank you Ms Miller, for your time.” Hermione smiled and started for the door.
“Wait! Ms Granger! About those shots-“
“No, I’m sorry. That’s not something we are comfortable participating in at this time.” She smiled again and showed herself out, not wanting to talk with that woman any longer about publicising, or how the public loved her and Malfoy. She was sure they didn’t. They probably bought it to see if it was true.
Hermione decided to go back to her flat and write Malfoy what she had concluded, in hopes that he would reply any information he had gathered. They had to end the rumours, and they had to end them quick.
So you finished my second chapter! Again, thank you so much for reading! I didn't mention this last chapter but I do not own a thing besides the plot, everything else I owe to J.K Rowling. I know I asked this of you last chapter and you're probably sick of hearing it from all the talented authors here, but please leave a review! Every review means so much to me <3 I thought I should let you know I have all my chapter outlines finished and I've written up to chapter seven so the wait for each chapter should only take as long as the queue (: Thank you again. <3
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