As they left the debriefing room, Draco and Blaise pulled their hoods up, disguising themselves from passing agents. They had barely made it out of the doorway before Blaise was cornered by a hooded Unspeakable.
“I’m supposed to deliver this to you,” said the Unspeakable, glancing at the number on Blaise’s uniform, and then back down at the paper he carried in his hand. “I was also told to inform you that you need to be in Debriefing Room Four in a half-hour.”
Blaise grabbed the paper, sparing barely a glance for the Unspeakable that had given it to him. Draco looked over Blaise’s shoulder, reading the front-page article in dread.
Emergency Evening Edition! Hermione Granger Attacked in Diagon Alley by Wizards Fearful of the Prodigy’s Newest Mission: To save the Purebloods from Extinction
By Rita Skeeter
Buildings demolished, bystanders terrified, and the blood of a heroine shed: the scene this afternoon in Diagon Alley left many wizards and witches wondering whether the Second War was really over. It’s been two years since Harry Potter with the help of his two friends Ronald Weasley and Muggleborn Hermione Granger defeated the Dark Lord Voldemort.
I’m writing this article on the fly, rushed by the anxious words of this world’s greatest hero: Harry Potter, in the flesh. His body hums with energy, his eyes wide in emotions. He’s protecting his best friend, Hermione Granger, and he’ll do it through my words.
Today, the attack at Diagon Alley was aimed not at Harry Potter, but at Hermione Granger. Why harm this woman, who has had nothing but good intentions since she entered the Wizarding World as a first year Muggleborn?
Her enemies seek to destroy her because she holds knowledge that could save the dying remnants of Pureblood society. She is a Muggleborn, but she could be the Pureblood’s savior.
Through extensive research, she has found definite proof that the inbreeding of Pureblood lines causes the occurrence of Squibs. Now, readers, the esteemed Harry Potter tried to explain it to me, admitting sheepishly that he himself could not totally understand the complicated terminology the young prodigy used, but he was confident that she is right.
Mr. Potter remarked, “If Purebloods stop marrying exclusively among Purebloods, then they will stop having Squib children, and their children may even be more powerful.”
I asked him whether this was practical. After all, if Purebloods were to stop marrying among Purebloods, then won’t that make their lines impure? Is Potter radically suggesting a society without Purebloods?
Our hero had this to say: “Pureblood families are in a crisis. It is only getting worse, and eventually they’ll die out. I don’t know when that will happen – Hermione could probably figure it out. However, I do know that it will happen.”
He continued, “Hermione’s research proves that Muggleborns and Purebloods carry the same magical trait. Purebloods need to stop discriminating. The terrifying thing should be that there are not that many pure Muggleborns in our society – only about half a dozen are added to Hogwarts each year. Will our whole society start to dwindle, if we don’t include them? Purebloods: don’t lose your family legacy because of bigotry. Save the inheritance of magic in Wizarding Britain.”
I don’t usually become involved in politics such as these. Many Purebloods will strongly argue against this, if only because of the dangers Muggles pose to our world. I will end on this note, though.
Hermione Granger helped Harry Potter save the world two years ago, yet someone is trying to kill her. Someone is scared of her new knowledge, and they wish to take it away from the Wizarding world forever. Is it the Pureblood who wishes to prevent what he believes to be ignorant nonsense, or is it the anarchist who opposes our heroine’s noble mission to save Pureblood lines?
“Gee, Granger, I didn’t realize you loved us so much,” said Draco sarcastically, as he finished reading the paper.
“It’s all a plot,” said Blaise distastefully. “She’s bitter because we’ve been blocking her applications to the Ministry. She wants to take down limitations on Muggleborns, and she thinks integrating them into Pureblood society will do that. It doesn’t help that Rita Skeeter has always been a loose cannon.”
Draco furrowed his brow. “You thought she’d give up after she was denied a ministry job?”
“Eventually, yes,” said Blaise, as he led Draco down several flights of stairs. The parts of the ministry that didn’t have lifts were the most secure, so Draco was becoming nervous about where they were headed. “We figured she’d go into the private sector, like ambitious Muggleborns before her, and that would be the last of it.”
“But she didn’t. Why did the Ministry decide to assassinate her?” Draco stopped walking, and Blaise paused a few steps ahead of him. Draco knew more than anything that Hermione Granger was a pain in the arse, when she wanted to be. He also knew from experience that she was effortlessly brilliant. The time and effort that Draco had spent trying to beat Granger’s marks had always been a fruitless exercise.
“Not the Ministry,” snapped Blaise. “I doubt even the Minister is aware of The Department’s reach. My bosses decided we needed to control her, and I’d assume it has something to do with this,” Blaise indicated the paper in Draco’s hands. “I decided to do it by assassination, since I couldn’t find much dirt on her to make her a Sleeper, and I thought it would be a clean job. This,” Blaise said, grabbing the paper from Draco’s hands, “is going to be one hell of a clean up. Unfortunately, it will probably fall on us to do it.”
“But why?” Draco asked, frustrated. “Why is the Department against this?”
Blaise rolled his eyes. “You have a long way to go, Malfoy. I have a meeting with my contact after this, so we’ll have to walk faster. There’s time to talk later. I have a feeling we’ll be working together for a while.”
Draco was very nervous now. He didn’t like the idea of dealing with Granger and her lot again. Not again! He didn’t know what to do though. He could hardly ask them to demote him, and he had a feeling that, after what had happened moments earlier with Healer White, quitting wasn’t an option. For what felt like the millionth time, Draco Malfoy was trapped.
When Pamela had gone to take a shower, Hermione was left to watch over Harry. He was sound asleep, his soft snores interrupting the silence of the room.
He stopped for a minute, grumbling and rolling over. Was he waking up finally?
“Harry?” she asked tentatively.
He woke up slowly, eyes opening with a wince. “Hermione,” he said in response. He sat up a bit, and then grabbed his head in pain.
Hermione handed him a pain-relieving potion that she had brewed a few months ago. He took it down without even looking at its contents, sighing in contentment afterwards.
“I love magic,” he said after a moment. “This stuff does wonders.”
Hermione stared at the empty vial in Harry’s hands, wondering how long it would take to brew up some fresh pain-relieving potion. Her shoulder had started hurting again, though she did the best to hide it from Harry. It seemed that the healer hadn't been able to fully heal it, and whatever Harry’s wild magic had done to help it had faded. That man who'd healed her had probably expected her to go to St. Mungo's afterwards.
“Harry, what happened to you?” Hermione asked after an awkward silence. “Your magic – you lost control…”
“I know,” Harry said warily. “It hasn’t happened since the summer before third year.”
Hermione paused. “What?” she asked flatly. “That doesn’t make any sense! If it were accidental magic, then why would it be happening after you received your wand? Why didn’t you tell me about your burst of magic in third year?”
Harry blushed. “It was kind of embarrassing,” he said, “and I don’t want to talk about it. Besides, if it had been that dire, then Dumbledore wouldn’t have done something.”
“You never want to talk about it, Harry.” Hermione found the words of doom had left her mouth before she even realized. Harry didn’t like to hear these things, and she was sure that their conversation was already over, but Harry hadn’t said anything.
He stared down at his hands, which were gathered in the blanket on his lap.
Hermione let out a frustrated sigh. She couldn’t keep jumping around the subject. This had to be out in the open – for Harry’s sake. His magical outburst could have been caused by a mental breakdown, and the thought of her best friend having such a crisis scared Hermione more than the prospect of hiding from hit wizards.
“Harry, we need to talk,” she said sternly, and he groaned in protest. “The war’s over, yes, but a lot of things are happening still, and you need to acknowledge them! You can’t just live on like you are. It’s not healthy!”
“Not healthy?” Harry said incredulously. “Hermione, listen to yourself. Since when are you the guru on mental health? You were there that night we kissed. Both of us were out of our minds, not just me.”
Hermione nearly jumped out of her seat, “There! That’s it, Harry, you’re talking about things now. You just – it’s like you’re used to putting things aside for the war, and now you don’t know what to do when something bad happens. It’s all right to grieve and to ask questions. You have time, and you don’t need to focus on killing a Dark Lord anymore.”
“Hermione, stop it,” said Harry, his expression blank. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“Harry, you spent the first eleven years of your life in a cupboard! Your cousin and your relatives constantly beat you down, and when you finally made it to Hogwarts, you found out you had a target on your back! And then, you lost Sirius and Dumbledore, and, well, when did you grieve for him? What about Remus? Tonks? Fred? Now, with Ron, I can see doing the same thing. You’re ignoring the problem in favor of something else, refusing to even acknowledge it.”
“You want to know the truth?” Harry asked quietly.
“Yes,” Hermione implored, “tell me because I’m your friend, and I want to help you.” Her voice cracked. “I want to help you, but sometimes I don’t know if you want to help yourself.”
Harry’s eyes hardened. “I’m mad,” he whispered, his fists clenching the sheets in his lap. “I’m mad because nothing makes sense anymore.” He was quiet for several moments, his breaths controlled. “I’ve lost so many people I care about, Hermione. How does someone deal with it? There’s no other way but to put it behind me and move forward! It’s what I’ve always done, and it’s worked… until now, I suppose.”
“You don’t have to do it that way. There are people who are here for you, like me. I want to help. Talk to me, Harry. Tell us about it, and you’ll feel better. I promise. I used to – ”
Hermione stopped herself, remembering where her parents were right then. Australia was a long ways away. It was hard for her to bring up the painful memories of their departure. Then, realizing that she was being a hypocrite, she continued, “I used to talk to my parents, at the end of every school year. I’d tell them about Malfoy’s taunts, about those near-death moments, about everything. And, God, Harry!
“It would feel like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It made it real, you know? They may have been Muggles, but they understood it all. They could reassure me in ways I couldn’t reassure myself. They told me what Malfoy was – nothing more than arrogant and insecure – and his insults meant less. They were outraged by the things that Snape said, and they complained to Dumbledore about the ridiculous stunts we’d end up doing to protect the school.” Hermione found that she couldn’t continue. She stopped, her throat too constricted to continue. “Harry, you have to be stronger. But this time, strength isn’t about putting aside what you’re feeling for a war. You need to talk about these things that you’ve been putting off – like Ron.”
Harry winced when Hermione said Ron’s name.
Hermione said, “You don’t have to lose Ron. You need to let him know what you were thinking – what that kiss between us really meant.”
Harry shook his head. “I know. I know what I should do. I just feel like it’s already gone, Hermione. I feel like there’s no use looking back at what could have been.”
“It still can be! How can you just forget Ron like that, after everything we’ve been through together, as a team?”
“It’s wrong, what I’m doing. I know it is. I know that my magic yesterday was acting up because of this.” Harry looked away from Hermione, at the door to the bathroom. Pamela was still showering, and they could hear the sound of the water running. “It’s hard. I thought I was doing so well before yesterday. I was going to Auror training, and I’m treated normal there, you know? They actually go hard on me, and they don’t treat me like the Slayer of Voldemort.”
Hermione felt a knot growing in her throat. She wanted to help Harry so bad, but he was being stubborn, and she knew that he’d always have these problems. There was no changing his terrible childhood.
“When that curse hit you, when I thought I was loosing you… Hermione, I was so scared. I don’t want to lose you,” he said hoarsely. “I think I’d go crazy if I ended up totally alone.”
“What about Ginny?” Hermione asked. “She’d still be there for you.”
“She’s changed,” Harry whispered. “It’s not like it used to be.”
Harry had noticed it also. Hermione leaned towards Harry, heart beating rapidly. Her shoulder was still soar from the fall and protested to the movement. She put the pain out of her mind, focusing on Harry’s emerald-green eyes. “How?” Hermione asked.
Harry’s face melted, his expression collapsing into grief Hermione had only seen a few times on the hero.
Harry said in a quiet voice, “She has changed in almost every way imaginable. Something happened to her a year ago, and I don’t know how to fix it. Sometimes, we’ll be together, and she’ll just suddenly break out into tears. Other times, she’ll be bouncing off the walls with energy and strength. I’ve asked her what’s wrong, but she won’t talk about it. That time she broke up with me?” Harry paused. “She told me it was for my own good, for my protection. Hermione, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong! I can’t even protect Ginny!”
“What have you done to find out why she’s in trouble?” Hermione knew Harry too well. If he really thought that Ginny was in trouble, he’d stop at nothing to figure out why.
Harry took a slow breath of air, his eyes staring down at his clenched hands. “A part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge that she’s really changed, that something’s been happening to her and she hasn’t told me about it.” He paused, looking at Hermione in anguish, “But I’ve noticed so many new things, Hermione, and she lies to me. She told me she was in Romania last week, but when I mailed Charlie, he said she wasn’t. And she came back with that scar…” Harry choked up at the end, unable to finish his thought.
Hermione felt her heart hammering in her chest. She hadn’t realized it was this bad. “Why haven’t you told me?” she demanded.
Harry looked away. “I can’t help her. I don’t know how to help her,” he said helplessly. “I love her, but I don’t know how to save her.”
“Why haven’t you told me?” Hermione demanded again.
When Harry’s eyes met hers, she could see the fear in their depths. “Because then I’d have to acknowledge it. I’ve never said this aloud. I’ve never even put these thoughts together coherently in my head!”
Hermione sighed, massaging her shoulder as she tried to understand how Harry could do such a thing. “Harry, are you trying to protect me from whatever’s after Ginny?”
Harry silenced at that, his eyes turning away from Hermione.
“When will you learn,” Hermione said harshly, “that I’m your best friend? No, I’m more than that, at this point! I’m a part of you, Harry! I’ll always be there for you, and I’ll do everything I can to help you. I don’t care if it’s dangerous – didn’t I prove that to you when we were fighting Voldemort?
“How is it fair that I get to involve you in my so-called ‘impossible’ goal to eradicate Pureblood racism, but you don’t let me help you with your problems? Besides, she may not be my girlfriend, but I care a lot about Ginny. If something’s going on, we need to help her.”
Harry sat in silence. “All right, Hermione,” he said finally. “I don’t know what Ginny’s found herself in, but it’s dangerous. I need help. I want her back.” Harry’s voice regained strength and his emerald-green eyes hardened. “I want that woman who helped me defeat Voldemort back.”
Hermione smiled softly. “Then I think that’ll be our number one priority now. Well, after finding out who’s after us, of course.”
“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” Draco said, as he walked into the atrium of Malfoy Manor. It looked just like the way they’d left it after Voldemort had been defeated. When he wandered into the parlor, with Blaise at his heel, he saw the destroyed chandelier still on the floor.
He had missed that view through the bay window. He’d never before appreciated the way the sky lit the parlor in pale silver light. Night had fallen, though for Draco the day felt as though it had been many days wrapped in one.
“Why would the Department do something like this for me? It’s – it’s incredible,” Draco said.
He was conflicted. He didn’t want to be involved in the Potter gang’s newest antics, but he could practically feel his pulse leaping when he realized that he’d once again be Draco Malfoy, that he could carry on his family name with pride.
He turned back to Blaise, who was leaning in the arched entryway to the parlor. This was his home. Draco felt a rush of happiness, and he didn’t bother to hide the smile that split his face. It wasn’t his father’s, or his mother’s, or Voldemort’s – it was his, finally. He’d never have guessed yesterday that his fortune could reverse so quickly.
However, Blaise didn’t have an expression on his face. He was guarded, watching Draco with a countenance that wasn’t at all like the one he’d had in The Department. Blaise was studying Draco, deliberating about something important. He had been acting off ever since his meeting with his contact.
Draco sobered, walking over to the dark-skinned Unspeakable in uncertainty. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Blaise said, but then after a moment, his face broke into a bitter expression. “You should never think yourself deserving of this. It will help you regain your footing in Pureblood society, but only because The Department decreed it.”
Blaise almost sounded jealous, but Draco knew that couldn’t be right. Blaise had no shortage of wealth, especially after the death of his mother. She had made a small fortune by marrying and then murdering Pureblood husbands, and Blaise had inherited all of it.
Abruptly, Blaise said, “It’s curious that your house is exactly as you left it. You’d think the ministry would have taken it up and sold it. They could have even redecorated, used it for ministry functions. No one’s been in here, Malfoy. It’s like they were saving it for you this whole time.” Blaise sneered, as if something distasteful had occurred to him. “They might have always intended to return it to you.”
Draco could barely hear Blaise, though. He was already walking towards the stairs. His hand fell on the banister, imagining what it would be like to see his old bedroom or to revisit the Malfoy library. He had thought it all lost. He’d given up, but here everything was, just as he’d left it.
He turned to Blaise, his face taking on a new determination. He didn’t understand anymore why he’d felt so conflicted. It was obvious what he should do – he’d go after Granger with everything he had. This was well worth the risk. The reason he’d wanted to get away was because, after the war, all this had no longer been possible. Here it was again, though, and Malfoys were made for Pureblood politics. It didn’t hurt that he had The Department at his back, ready to support his return to society. For all this splendor, he could deal with Granger. The house reminded him of everything he'd once had, and of all the traditions passed down to him from his anscestors.
“What’s the plan?” Draco asked.
“The Death Eaters have already been delivered to the Auror Department. As far as the Aurors are concerned, you’ve been on a top-secret mission. For the past two years, you have been undercover, gaining the trust of the remaining Death Eaters.”
Blaise walked over to the couch, taking a seat and slipping off his old boots. Draco grimaced, irritated but too shocked by everything to comment on it. Blaise continued, “You set a trap for them and captured them all at once. You brought them straight to your employers in the Ministry. There will be a press release tomorrow morning.”
“How will this endear me to the Purebloods?” Draco asked in confusion.
Blaise chuckled. “I can tell that you’re following the papers by your knowledge of Purebloods politics, but you haven’t been amidst high society for a while. Attitudes have changed. There is a very real aversion to all aspects of the Dark Lord’s reign. He made more enemies than friends. Purebloods may have flocked to his ideology, but after the war, only the insane continued to support him. No, Malfoy, with this move you’ll gain respect from all sides of the board.”
Blaise frowned. “That’s another plan, there.” He motioned to the seat in front of him. Draco sat in the lounge chair.
“Well, what’s the plan?”
“As I was saying the first time we spoke, you’re supposed to ingratiate yourself into Pureblood society, gain the respect of your father’s old contacts and all that rot.”
“Yeah, I gathered as much.”
“That’s still the same. Granger won’t be killed, though. She’d just end up a martyr, which is the last thing we need. Because of Granger’s newest PR move, we’re going to have to move things a bit quicker for you.” Blaise’s jaw clenched.
“What do you mean by quicker?”
Blaise didn’t say anything for several moments, instead picking at the arm of the couch. The sound of Blaise’s well-manicured nail against the rough fabric grated Draco’s senses, sending shivers down his spine.
Finally, Blaise said, “I’m going to take a fall for you, Malfoy.” He balled his hand into a tight fist, moving the full force of his fierce dark gaze on Draco. “You’ll publicly defeat me, thereby gaining the reputation I’ve painstakingly built for myself since I started Hogwarts. With that reputation, you’ll bring down Granger.”
Draco froze, suddenly aware that Blaise didn’t look happy at all. In fact, he’d lost his sarcasm in favor of a bitter grimace. Draco tried very hard to hide his building excitement, or the vindictive spark of joy that flared for just a moment.
Blaise continued, “When you are on the top, you’ll have to use your new influence to destroy whatever power Granger has gained in the Pureblood community.”
“Wait a moment,” Draco said hesitantly. “I’ve been following the papers. You already have an amazing reputation among Purebloods – hell, you have Daphne Greengrass practically stalking you. You might not be born a Malfoy, but you have the respect of the Purebloods. I’ve heard that they look to you like a leader. Why don’t you just work against Granger? Why do they want me specifically to do it?”
“Hell if I know,” said Blaise, but a part of Draco made him think that Blaise wasn’t being fully honest.
“There aren’t any spells in here – no one’s listening, Zabini. The wards make it impossible to put listening spells in this manor, unless you’re a Malfoy. Why is The Department giving all this to me? What do they expect in return? What are they planning? Granger isn’t everything. This was the plan before the hit went wrong.”
Blaise said, “Perhaps I’m not the best choice because of my background. The Zabini family isn’t nearly as influential as the Malfoy family, and my mother is not exactly an inspiration. My name insights fear and whispers, not admiration. Among the Purebloods I’m fine, but in the greater society? People don’t see me for my intelligence or ambition.”
Draco didn’t think that sounded like a good reason at all. All Blaise needed to do was convince the Pureblood following he’d gained that Granger was lying. They probably respected him enough to believe him, too. Even with his family’s reputation, Slytherins at Hogwarts had always looked to Blaise for marching orders. Without Draco around in seventh year, Blaise’s popularity had probably only grown. “I don’t understand,” said Draco.
“Of course you don’t,” Blaise snapped back. “That’s why it doesn’t make any sense! You aren’t nearly as qualified as I am. You just don’t see the world like I do, Draco.”
“It’s not that,” Draco said, ignoring Blaise’s irritated growl. “It’s just that the Purebloods respect you enough to listen to you now. Why do I need to do it?”
Blaise sneered. “You’ll never stay a step ahead of The Department, Malfoy. You’ll keep trying and trying to figure out what they’re playing at, but you’ll never really see what they’re doing. I practically told you my theory, but you didn’t hear it, did you?”
Draco paused, playing back what had been said in his head. He nearly lost his breath when it came to him. “What does greater society mean? I thought I was just seducing Purebloods?”
Blaise rolled his eyes, putting his boots on again before standing. Cynically, he said, “Congratulations, Malfoy: Pureblood figurehead today, Minister of Magic tomorrow.” Blaise leaned down a bit, his gaze leering at Draco from above. “It seems to me that they have big plans for you. Better be ready. I have a feeling this is just the test.”
Blaise straightened, his cloak whipping behind him as he turned. “Have a nice evening,” he said over his shoulder.
Draco stayed seated, watching the Unspeakable stalk into the atrium and put his hood up.
“Why are you doing this for me? Why are you going to take the fall?” Draco asked.
“Did you not notice the healer’s reaction when I sent him to the third floor?” Blaise didn’t give Draco time to answer, Apparating away on the spot.
With Blaise gone, Draco fell into a slouch, his elbows resting on his knees, and his hands covering his face. He didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or scared about what was to come.
The sound of wings flapping startled him from his state. He looked up at the large eagle owl that had found its way into the house. It swooped towards him, dropping a letter he dreaded.
I’ve heard from a friend that you are back in London. I expect you tonight for dinner.
Draco frowned at the parchment in his hands, wondering whether he could pretend that he’d missed that last sentence. He had no idea how he’d break the news of his impending popularity. His mum could always tell when he was lying.
Harry moaned. “Did you know that Narcissa Malfoy cooked so well?” he said, when his stomach grumbled. The rich aroma of a slow-roasted chicken that wafted under the crack of their door was slowly killing them.
Hermione rolled her eyes as she cast a quick drying charm on her hair. She’d taken a shower earlier, and thanks to the trunk she carried around, she’d been able to change out of Pamela’s old clothes. “It’s just for this one night, Harry. Early tomorrow morning, we’ll go to the Auror Department and get this all sorted. After they’ve helped ward our place, we’ll be well off. “
“But did she have to cook this big meal for just herself? It’s like she’s doing it on purpose.”
“Yes, well, this is what happens when you give someone like Narcissa Malfoy your house. If you’re so hungry, then you could always sneak out and find some Muggle place, though you run the risk of being found.”
“Why can’t we go to the Aurors now?” asked Pamela.
“It’s still not safe,” Hermione said. “The hit wizards probably tracked our Apparition here. They might be lurking around the neighborhood, waiting to track our next Apparition.”
“And you can’t Floo or Apparate straight to the Ministry?”
“We can Apparate outside the Ministry,” Hermione said, “and then enter through the phone booth. That runs the risk of them waiting for us outside the Ministry, though. Floo is equally dangerous, if our adversaries have our address. The fact remains that we have no idea who we’re dealing with, Pamela. It could be some Pureblood activists, some ex-Death Eaters or the reincarnation of Voldemort himself. We just don’t know what sort of resources or numbers that they can access.”
“Did you Owl Kingsley?” Harry asked.
“While you were sleeping, I borrowed one of the Malfoy owls from the Owlery. He said to come in the morning. It was a very short message.”
“Kingsley’s a busy man,” Harry said.
“I imagine the Minister of Magic has a lot on his mind,” Hermione said, “but a team of hit wizards attacking the busiest part of Diagon Alley should probably be on the top of his list.”
Pamela had a sharp intake of air, causing both Hermione and Harry to turn towards her. “You Owl with the Minister?”
Hermione couldn’t help grinning in amusement. “Harry Potter, remember?” she said, pointing to Harry. She felt uneasy when she remembered that Pamela didn’t know anything about the Second War. But how could they explain it? Should they explain it, if Pamela was just going to be returned home as soon as possible?
“Mrs. Malfoy might mean for us to join her, you know,” said Pamela, interrupting Hermione’s thoughts.
Hermione raised a brow. “Then you really don’t know her that well, do you?”
“My mother and Mrs. Malfoy were very close, but, no, not really. I do know, though, that it’s customary in Pureblood households for the host to provide dinner to his or her guests.”
Hermione couldn’t help the amusement that overtook her expression. “I don’t think that applies to Mudbloods, Squibs and Dark Lord Slayers.”
“I never thought of us like that before,” Harry said with a proud grin.
Hermione responded pensively, “We do make a very anti-Pureblood force, for a group that claims to be trying to save them.”
Pamela said, “What’s the worst that can happen if we go downstairs, and Mrs. Malfoy says the dinner isn’t for us?” Pamela begged. “I’m hungry, and I can’t sleep on an empty stomach. She’s not going to shoot us.”
Harry nodded. “I think Pamela’s right. Not just because Purebloods don’t have Muggle guns, but also because Narcissa Malfoy wasn’t really a Death Eater. She didn’t have the Dark Mark, and she did save my life that one time.”
Hermione couldn’t shake her unease. “She’d take it away just as quickly to save her son, you know.”
Harry nodded. “Probably, but I don’t think we have to worry about Draco Malfoy anymore.”
“He’s working for some worldwide anti-crime organization now. I don’t know exactly what he’s doing, but it’s legitimate. He’s travelling around the world, saving babies from burning buildings, or whatever it is they do.”
Hermione raised her brows dubiously. “And how do you know that?” Hermione asked Harry. “The papers have been saying that he’s living in South America.”
“When I noticed that Malfoy had fallen off the map, I tracked him to Eastern Europe. Then, I found out through the Ministry that he was on some International Mission of a sort. Either way, I was told he was doing good things. I had to check on him, though. I was one of the people who vouched for him to keep him out of Azkaban. The last thing I want is for him to do something stupid, like become the next Dark Lord.”
Hermione raised her brow. “Malfoy’s not exactly clever or powerful enough for that.”
“Don’t I know it,” Harry agreed, standing up and stretching his legs. “But even his pathetic attempt could cause a few casualties. Well, are you coming with us, Hermione?”
Hermione sighed, considering her options. She didn’t know if she really wanted to sit down with Narcissa Malfoy for longer than a minute. However, she did need Pureblood allies, if she was ever going to legitimately change anything. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try and explain genetics to Mrs. Malfoy. She nearly grinned at the thought. There was no way that woman would listen to a word she said. Her stomach rumbled, and Hermione let out a sigh.
“Alright, I’m coming,” Hermione said. “Why would Mrs. Malfoy cook a dinner that smells this good if she wasn’t expecting our company?”
Thanks so much to megthechef43, bookworm530, xsecretangelxx, granger_, and LADIDADIDADIDAAAA. Seriously, you guys are amazing, and I don't think I would have been able to get this chapter out so quickly without your encouragement.
You may be excited to learn that the next chapter is titled "Dinner with the Malfoys." Finally! The epic moment when Hermione and Draco meet. Hah, hah. This story probably won't end up being a novella, but we'll see how it turns out. It might end up being more like a short novel-length.
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