Chapter 4 : In Which Hermione Sees Draco's Orbs.
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Chapter Four, In Which Hermione Sees Draco's Orbs.
A little more time passed, and the Christmas holidays were upon them all. The halls were hung with holly and ivy, golden baubles floated near the ceiling, and every sprig of mistletoe in the forest was pulverised to be added to Professor Placeholder’s potions cupboard. Hermione had decided not to go home for Christmas that year, as she would no doubt be expected to see Ron and Harry, and didn’t want to deal with everyone breathing down her neck to pledge herself forever to one or other of them.
Ginny had given up on men altogether, and embraced the possibility of a long and brilliant career in Quidditch after leaving school, rather than getting married and pregnant straight away, which is a fine thing for many people - just not Ginny. Hermione smiled with satisfaction as she thought of the long hours Ginny would be spending practicing Quidditch over the holiday - when she was hundreds of feet up in the air, nobody could admire her plucky personality, deep brown eyes, or clouds of flaming red hair.
On the promise that they could complete their Potions projects together, in the comforting knowledge that there was literally no attraction between them whatsoever, Hermione had agreed to stay with Draco’s family for Christmas. She realised that to return to Malfoy Manor, where she had been tortured, found her friends imprisoned, and seen poor Dobby murdered, could possibly be quite triggering, but she felt that it was important to give her platonic friend and his huge mansion a second chance.
“So, this is my house,” said Draco, showing Hermione into a large, marble hallway. “It’s pretty big, and kind of uncomfortable. I’d show you around, but there are twenty-six bedrooms, and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea... all those large, bouncy beds, y’know.”
Hermione was wondering how she’d ever find the guest bedroom by herself, when an extra-drawly voice echoed through the hallway.
“Don’t worry, Draco... show your little friend around. Your mother and I know that your thoughts are as pure as the blood that runs in your veins.”
Lucius Malfoy sashayed down the stairs, his silvery hair glimmering like a Patronus in the form of a wig. Despite the fact that he looked rather like a well-known, handsome British actor, who has eyes like raw sapphires and a voice that melts chocolate, he was entirely unattractive to young Hermione.
“Miss Granger,” he said silkily, his robes sparkling around him like an azure sea as he swept across the hallway. He looked almost like a mermaid, which helped to make him less sexual than he might otherwise have been. “My son tells me that he has overcome your repulsive origins, and that you are now... chums.”
“Yes,” said Hermione brightly, ignoring the twitch of disgust on his tediously perfect face. “We decided that for us to remain enemies was highly dangerous, as everyone knows that two moderately attractive people who hate each other will eventually engage in kissing and other such horrid activities.”
Lucius nodded wisely. “That’s how those rumours about Arthur Weasley and I got started...” A look of distaste spread across his boringly gorgeous features. “Honestly, it was just one tussle in a bookshop.”
There was a shriek of delight from below their feet, and a honeyed voice slurred, “Lucius! Get back down here; I’ve got something rather delicious for you!”
Lucius’ inanely handsome face lit up, and he hurried away, into a large dining room and down a flight of stairs which Hermione recalled led to the cellar where Luna had been held in chains. Luna was a prisoner at the time; it wasn’t anything dodgy.
There was a thrill of laughter from below, and Hermione shot a nervous glance at Draco. “Last time I was here, I was being tortured.”
Draco laid a hand on Hermione’s shoulder, feeling sorry that his home could bring back such horrible memories to this person whom he esteemed and liked an appropriate amount. She sighed, and her shoulders drooped slightly. Although he could feel her warm flesh and bones and stuff beneath his pale hand, his mind didn’t turn to naughty things. Instead, he wondered if a cup of tea might make her feel better.
“What’s going on down there?” Hermione asked as they crossed the hall to the great sweeping staircase. “Your parents aren’t being... romantic, are they?”
“God, no,” said Draco, shuddering. “Their pale thin lips have never even met. They’re actually just great friends who decided to perpetuate the family name by creating a clone. I’m not a product of any disgusting skin-touching; they grew me in a bottle at St Mungo’s and then when it was time, bubbled me up in a cauldron like when Voldemort did that, except I was a cute baby and not a burned ugly shrivelled thing. And Dad didn’t have to cut his hand off.”
“My parents love each other,” said Hermione, looking downcast. “It’s foul.”
“Filthy Muggles,” Draco spat, as he led Hermione up the stairs.
“Exactly,” Hermione agreed, in a moment that was wildly out of character. “So, what is going on downstairs?”
“Oh, they’re restocking the wine cellar now that it’s not needed as a dungeon any more. You should have seen the party they threw when they were emptying it to begin with... Aunt Bella got so drunk that she tried to start a game of ‘Pin the Nose on the Dark Lord’.”
Draco turned to look at Hermione as he reached a door engraved with his name. “You’re sure you want to come in to my room?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I think I can control myself.”
“I know,” said Draco hurriedly, forgetting to drawl for a moment. “But the odds are against you. We’re young, we’re former enemies... You’re suddenly gorgeous, and I believe a very handsome young man would play me in a film of our lives. And I’m rich. Really rich. As evidenced by this essentially pointless visit to my mansion.”
“Draco, please just have a little faith in me!” Hermione swept past Draco, and pushed the door open. She shimmied into a bright, beautiful room. The huge bed was covered in silvery furs, and shafts of sunlight danced over the wooden floorboards. Hermione didn’t take any notice of how softly romantic the place looked, because she was too irritated. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I managed to resist the various allures of the Chosen One, the greatest Quidditch player Bulgaria has ever produced, and almost all of the Weasleys, including the twins, even though they’re clearly a pair of little hunky monkeys. Particularly George, who is openly gentle and intelligent now that Fred’s dead.”
Draco leant towards her and patted her carefully on the head, seeing that she was upset. “Would you like me to sing to you?” he offered, his grey eyes filled with concern.
“Why would you do that?” asked Hermione in puzzlement.
Draco stared down at his feet. “I don’t know. Something tells me that’s what I should do when girls are upset, but I’m not sure why. I can’t really sing.”
Drawing her wand from her pocket, Hermione enchanted her hair to be extremely bushy, and her teeth as prominent as they once had been, before sitting on the end of Draco’s bed. She didn’t want to take any chances; merely perching on his duvet might be enough to endanger the cold passivity of their relationship. Donning a large yellow raincoat to hide his lightly muscled arms and solid chest - he plays Quidditch, okay? And he does sit-ups, all the time. In fact, Crabbe and Goyle were his personal trainers, not his friends. So there.... Draco sat at the other side of the bed. Hermione’s hair was sufficiently bushy that he could barely see her face, but when she looked towards him, she gasped.
“Oh, Draco,” she breathed, bringing a delicate hand to her mouth in astonishment, “Forgive me for saying this, but... your orbs are just beautiful.”
Draco smiled and reached up to touch the large glass balls, suspended above the bed. “Thanks. Mum got them from a large Swedish furniture company... They’re just decorative.”
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