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Chapter 11 : Blonde Rabbit
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Pansy and Blaise
Pansy didn’t care for the situation, personally. Hermione Granger and her bloody mother - who was a muggle, of all things - living in the manor. That’s right, the manor. The manor that housed not only witches and wizards, but also a varied collection of said magical folk with wings, a future-seeing nymph whose hobbies included drowning people, a heliophobic book-nerd, and his psychic younger cousin.
Just what thoughts had been cruising through Draco’s empty head when he decided to bring them here she couldn’t imagine.
But they weren’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem she knew was yet to come. With Hermione Granger and her muggle mother hanging around the place talking about Jacob Bloody Sainted Granger and how much of an amazing father and husband he was, the dreams were going to start again. And at risk of killing everyone in the manor, Pansy was either going to be kicked out, or leave herself.
She sat, cross-legged on a mahogany table, in the darkest depths of the library. Alice in Wonderland lay open on her lap. It was a rather battered copy, very old, which she had found one morning while sulking at the back of the huge room. She loved the book. And found it mildly appropriate right now, as Granger had followed a blonde rabbit down some form of hole and Pansy had a strong urge to cut her head off.
“Thought I’d find you here.” Sunny’s voice interrupted her thoughts of killing Granger. “Blaise is looking for you. But I figured you were probably avoiding him, so I sent him in the wrong direction and told him you were in the garden.”
“You’re smarter than you look.” Pansy sighed, closing the book and spinning to face Sunny. “I hate everyone.”
Sunny rolled her eyes, popped her gum, and took a seat on the table across from Pansy. “I know what you’re thinking about. Just stay away from Granger and if all else fails we’ll just put you in a bath and you can sleep with Cassiopeia.” she grinned. “No-one is going to ask you to leave the manor again.”
“Where’s your better half?” Pansy asked, more to change the question than anything.
Sunny rolled her eyes again (a habit) and shrugged one shoulder. “Dunno. I think he likes Granger,” she said, pulling a face that suggested she greatly disproved of this. “So he’s probably following Zoey around while she takes care of them. Apparently Granger has some pretty serious burns but her mom is totally fine. It’s weird. Considering that they were supposedly at the centre of the explosion.”
Pansy didn’t want to talk about it. Had she not been so worried about having Granger and her mother around the house she might have taken some interest in the situation - as it was, she didn’t give a shit. She just wanted someone to come into the library and reassure her that the stupid muggleborn was leaving.
She was well aware that this wasn’t likely to happen.
Sunny rolled her eyes for the third time and, with an exaggerated sigh, got up and hauled Pansy to her feet. “The moping has to desist, Parkers. Let’s go find out what’s going on.” she demanded, fingers wrapped around Pansy’s wrist as she pulled the girl out of the library depths. “Hey Becker.”
“Yank.” Becker inclined his head in a greeting, following them toward the library doors. “Pansy, Blaise is looking for you. Hermione’s mother is awake, she wants to talk to you.”
Pansy stopped and turned to look at him. “What? Why the hell does Granger’s mother want to talk to me?” she asked, utterly perplexed. “She doesn’t even know who I am.”
“Actually we’re pretty sure she does.” Becker countered, gently pushing her through the door and toward the stairs. “One of the first things she said after she asked about Hermione was ‘which one of you is Pansy?’”
Sunny arched an eyebrow as they headed up the marble steps toward the manor bedrooms. “That’s weird. Maybe Jacob told her about all the fights you two used to get in. She’s probably going to slap you as soon as we get in there.” she chuckled.
Pansy ground her heels into the carpet and shook both of them away from her. “Well she’s going to have to wait, because I have absolutely no desire to go talk to them.” she snarled, turning sharply and stalking back down the staircase. “It’s bad enough that they’re here, I don’t want their presence shoved in my face.”
Feeling the both of them rolling their eyes after her, she jumped the last few steps and strode toward the front doors, intending to go out into the gardens and bury herself. Maybe set something on fire.
Unfortunately, before she could get to the door it swung open and hit her in the face, knocking her back onto the floor. When she opened her eyes Blaise was standing over her, soaked to the skin and looking entirely unapologetic for knocking her on her ass. He kicked her. “Serves you right. It’s raining.” he said gruffly, offering her a hand. “Where were you?”
“In the library.” Pansy sourly took his hand and allowed herself to be yanked up. “Thanks for the door to the face, but if you’re here to tell me to go see Mrs Granger then you can shove it.”
Blaise kept hold of her hand and steered her toward the stairs. “I’m not. Just stop running away from me, would you?”
No matter what, you don’t run from your best friend. Jacob’s voice shot through her head like a bullet, taking her back to a conversation they had had a few weeks before he died. Stop fighting with Blaise for fuck’s sake. I’m sick and tired of you both having the same dumbass arguments and then moping about the house like the fucking world has ended.
“I’m going to tell your wife that you’re swearing.” Pansy had snarled back, hurling a teaspoon across the kitchen at him. “Bugger off, Granger.”
Jacob had ducked beneath he spoon and turned to glare at her. “Pansy, do you even remember why you’re hiding in the goddamn kitchen from your boyfriend?”
“Not my boyfriend, Freakazoid.”
“I didn’t think so.” he sat down across the table from her with a mug of steaming tea. “Pansy, how long has it been?”
Pansy narrowed her eyes, very much aware of the direction he was taking this argument. “I don’t need to hear this, Granger. Leave me alone.”
“Four months? Four months and you have very understandably been distancing yourself from everyone in this manor, drifting around through the shadows like a bloody vampire. And every single person in this manor would never begrudge you that, and they’d probably do the same thing if they were in your shoes. They leave you to it. This manor,” he continued, jabbing a finger pointedly into the table, leaning across it to speak to her, “runs on your schedule. When you surface, people continue their relationships with you. When you need to be left alone, they put them on hold. But not Blaise.”
He sat back, looking earnestly past his glasses and into her eyes. “Blaise has followed you around relentlessly like nothing has changed. It’s been four months, Pansy. If anyone deserves you letting up on the running away crap, it’s him.”
Hermione woke up in a state of complete and utter confusion, and quite a fair amount of pain. Her skin was throbbing. She was overwhelmingly stifled in this room - wherever it was - to the point where the air seemed too hot to breathe. Coughing, she fought to open her eyes.
And found herself staring at, of all people, Draco Malfoy.
Hermione’s memory came back in shattered fragments of a television screen. Run from this. Fire. The overwhelming stench of death in her nostrils, making her gag. Being crushed beneath something, but somehow… somehow moving through the house… even though her memories of it were of a pile of rubble. Finding her mother, her beautiful, angelic mother, and… and knowing that what she was seeing wasn’t really there.
Knowing that her mother was obliterated, gone from the world. Reaching out to touch the wisps of life that clung to the place in a last, desperate hope to pull her mummy back from wherever she had gone… feeling solid flesh beneath her fingertips. An arm. Holding on for dear life. And then… and then… nothing.
Waking up in a room.
Her head hurt too much to move, so she squinted at Malfoy. “My mum…” she croaked. He pointed across her, past the other side of her bed. “She’s absolutely fine. She was in the bed next to you, but Zoey put her to sleep in another room because she was freaking a bit about you needing to go to the hospital. Sounded a bit delirious. Kept asking about Pansy for some reason.”
“I can’t sit up…” she winced, annoying with herself. Draco stepped forward immediately and carefully placed his hands under her shoulders, lifting her into a sitting position. “Thanks.”
She went about testing her limbs to make sure everything still worked. There was a nasty burn across her arm with a cooling orange paste smeared across it, a thick bandage wrapped around her left hand and, she discovered by gingerly touching her fingers to it, another burn on the side of her neck. Possibly why movement hurt so much.
“What happened?” she asked, looking around the room. It was apparently either one of the larger bedrooms in Blaise’s manor, or a guest room in Versailles. Huge, gaudy and gold. Two large beds. A hundred pieces of antique furniture that her mother would have gone crazy over at one point. Cushions and throw pillows everywhere.
They had evidently tried to make her as comfortable as possible.
“The muggles are saying gas leak. But we found this.” Draco reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of parchment. Hermione reached for it but he stepped quickly out of her reach. “It’s the letter you opened at your Uncle’s house. It’s been cursed to react to your touch. We think Ava sent it.”
Hermione stared at him. “My Uncle…?”
Draco looked down, looking sincerely apologetic for what she assumed was the first time in his life. “I’m sorry Hermione. We couldn’t find him. You and your mother were the only survivors in the vicinity.” he said.
Uncle Lucas was dead. Hermione felt her eyes brim with tears and raised a hand to her face. She hadn’t known him that well but… her poor mother! Losing her husband and then her brother, both to the same wretched woman. Feeling a surge of mixed anger and sadness, she buried her head in her hands and let the tears fall freely down her cheeks, forgetting who she was in a room with.
A warm hand landed softly on her shoulder and stayed there. It was strangely reassuring.
“Hermione!!” Alison Granger burst into the room like a hurricane of brown hair and made it halfway into a lunge-hug before she remembered that her daughter was injured. She artfully turned the lunge into a bounce-land to sit on the bed. “Honey are you feeling okay?!”
Hermione brushed the tears off her face (the hand had been swiftly removed from her shoulder) and smiled. “I’ll be fine mum. Are you okay?” she asked, worried.
“I’m fine honey, I’m fine.” Alison wafted her daughter’s concerns away and smiled tearfully. “All that matters is that you’re alright, I was so worried! But that Zoey girl knew her stuff I guess, she had a whole bunch of your burns healed within about ten minutes. I assume that orange gunk is magical paste or something…”
Hermione almost laughed. “Yeah it is. Mum…” her face fell and the tears returned. “I’m so sorry about Uncle Lucas.”
Alison nodded. “I know, I am too. But right now, I’m focusing on what I have to be thankful for. So many people died today, baby, and you’re alive. It’s a miracle.” she half-sobbed, half-laughed. “I am so grateful for that.”
Something she said made Hermione frown. She turned to look at Draco, who was hanging respectfully back observing an antique dresser as though he found it fascinating. “Wait, how are we alive?” she asked. “If that letter blew up half the street, how are we pretty much unharmed?”
“We’re not really sure.” Draco replied lazily. “But we’re not looking a gift horse in the mouth.”
Hermione glared at him, but decided to leave it in favour of pursuing a different line of conversation. “Mum, how do you know who Pansy Parkinson is?” she asked.
Alison looked confused for a moment, before comprehension dawned and she shrugged, shuffling further onto the bed to make herself comfortable. “Your father mentioned her the day before he died. He said she was one of his patients… I don’t know, I just remembered it when I woke up here and these people said they worked with your father.” she explained.
“Dad talked about Pansy?” Hermione repeated, glancing at Draco. He shrugged. “What did he say?”
“He was having some moral dilemma I think,” Alison continued. “He told me that she had really bad nightmares and sometimes sleepwalked, and that on one occasion five or six months ago she turned the stove gas on in her sleep. Somehow her entire house got burned to the ground, killing her whole family.”
Hermione couldn’t pry her eyes away from her mother. “That’s horrible!” she breathed, momentarily forgetting everything else that was going on in the present.
“Yeah, she was the only survivor. Apparently she had a little brother who died too, it sounded devastating.” Alison sighed. “I think your dad just wanted to talk to someone about her. He was worried that she was distancing herself from everyone, and that she blamed herself for the whole thing. But, because she was one of his patients, he didn’t know what to do about it.”
It figured that her father would worry about a girl who hated him. Hermione once again found herself yearning to be wrapped up in her dad’s arms, to inhale the bookish smell of his old angora jumpers and listen to him hum one of the stupid eighties songs that he loved so much. To sit in the living room and watch him meander through the house singing “people are strange, when you’re a stranger” and wink at her.
“You’re strange, Hermione.” he’d grin, patting her curls. “But we love you anyway.”
Sat in the bed in Blaise Zabini’s manor, Hermione slouched down against the many pillows and cushions and bit her lip. It was curious that her father had mentioned Pansy Parkinson to her mother… but then again, he probably knew that Hermione had gone to school with the girl and would therefore find it unlikely that Jacob was her dentist.
Still. It sucked that everyone knew at least a little bit about his life except Hermione.
The door to the room opened. Hermione wiped her eyes hastily and looked around her mother, hoping to see either Zoey, Becker or Max. She was sourly disappointed. Blaise strolled in, carrying Pansy over his shoulder. “Hey Granger,” he greeted her, dumping Pansy on the spare bed. “How are you feeling?”
Trying her hardest not to glare at the scowling girl, Hermione sniffed haughtily. “I’m feeling better thank you Blaise. Thanks for letting me and mum stay in here.”
“Don’t get comfortable.” Pansy muttered, examining her fingernails.
Hermione painfully turned her head and narrowed her eyes at the girl. “Excuse me?” she asked through gritted teeth.
Pansy evidently heard the challenge in her voice and turned to meet her eyes. “I said don’t get comfortable.” she repeated slowly. “Because you wont be staying here long.”
“Oh I’m sorry, I completely forgot that this was your house.” Hermione gave a pretentious and fake smile. “Silly me. Go away Parkinson, I’m being told your life story.”
Pansy’s eyes remained narrowed, but they moved from Hermione’s face to Draco’s. She tilted her head, questioning him. Malfoy looked away from her and went back to examining the dresser in the corner, avoiding her glare.
“You’re Pansy?” Alison broke the tension in the room with her obliviousness. Pansy looked at her suspiciously. “Jacob mentioned you. He said you were one of his patients.”
“His patients?” Pansy snapped sceptically. “I don’t know what you’re-”
“Pansy.” Draco coughed. “She’s talking about her husband. Your dentist.”
“Oh yeah,” Pansy smirked at Hermione. “The dead one.”
Hermione opened her mouth to swear at the girl, but was cut off by her mother. “He told me about the accident. About what happened to your family. I am so sorry.” Alison said, her voice so full of earnest concern that it seemed to throw Pansy momentarily off guard. She blinked at the older woman. “It must have been so awful to lose everyone.”
Hermione looked between them. Pansy didn’t seem to know how to react to this - Hermione had actually half expected her to say something offensive to silence Alison, but all she managed to do was open her mouth and then close it again. Eventually her gaze darkened once more and she looked down, falling silent. Alison reached over the gap between the beds to pat her genially on the arm.
“Right…” Draco said, breaking the silence awkwardly. “Well we should probably leave Zoey to get back to fixing Gra- I mean Hermione. Then lunch. Then we can figure out just what the hell happened to keep the two of you alive.”
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