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Chapter 2 – A Gentleman’s Gentleman

What type of gentleman would Draco Malfoy be if he just let some common ruffian pilfer the young woman’s bag? Even if he detested Harry Potter to his very core, he was not that sort of man. It could never be abided, so he was forced to follow. He caught up with the man immediately, slid off his steed, and said, “Unhand the young lady’s luggage, Sir!”

The man turned around to see Lord Malfoy’s wand pointing right at his chest. “T'aint your business, Sir, lessen you're somethin' to the young woman who left this on the street.”

“I assure you I am not even acquainted with the young woman, however, it might pain you to know that Lord Potter would look unkindly toward anyone who stole his cousin’s bag,” Draco said.

The man said, “Lord Potter? Listen, Sir, I meant no disrespect to his Lordship, you be telling Potter that, right?” He lowered the bag from his clutches and Disapparated away.

Draco was pained that the man did not drop the bag the moment he saw it was ‘Lord Malfoy’ who ordered it such, but the very moment he mentioned the Viscount’s name, the man dropped the offending bag and apologized! Another reason for Malfoy to hate Potter.

Draco bent down to pick up the young woman’s belongings, which fell to the ground when the bag opened during the fall. There were three books, (how did she manage to lift the damn thing?), some clothing, some money, and a small locket. Draco’s curiosity took over, and he opened the locket. It had a picture of a woman and a man, whom Draco assumed were the girl’s mother and father. He shut the locket, and placed it in his pocket for safekeeping. He took the bag, climbed upon his horse, and rode back toward the village.

Harry Potter and Theodore Nott were waiting on the street for Draco’s return. They did not go after the man as well, for they knew Draco was more than capable of returning the bag. Hermione stayed planted on the cobbled sidewalk, near the store. She wrung her hands in front of her frantically. Draco approached the party and handed Harry the bag before he lowered himself from the horse.

“I believe this belongs to the young lady, Potter,” Draco said.

Before Harry could issue a thank you, the young woman, in her gratitude, rushed to Harry’s side and said, “Thank you, Sir! I am forever in your debt.”

All Draco could think was, ‘so she speaks?’ Harry motioned for his driver to take her bag, before turning to Malfoy and saying, “Lord Draco Malfoy, of Malfoy Manor, this is my cousin, Hermione Granger, recently of Kent. She will be staying with me at Potter’s Hall.

Draco bent at the waist and said, “Madam, my pleasure.”

He extended his hand. She grasped his hand, and said, “Lord Malfoy.” The feel of her hand in his made her heartbeat increase ten fold, and when he let go, she felt a loss that she could not describe.

Harry uttered his goodbyes, and called for his carriage. Before Harry could help her in the carriage, Lord Malfoy stood by the side and again offered his hand. It was the proper thing to do, and Malfoy’s were dictated by propriety.

She took his hand once more and stepped into the carriage. Harry walked to the other side. She turned to look at the two men on the street as the carriage rode away. She smiled. A smile, which gripped Draco Malfoy’s cold, stone heart, and squeezed until he could not help himself, and he was forced to smile back. He liked her smile. She had a nice smile.

Nott leaned toward his friend and said, “Beautiful girl, too bad she’s Muggle-born.”

“And that concerns me how?” Draco said, turning to his friend.

“Well, we all know how you hate Muggle-borns, and I was just thinking that it was too bad, because she is lovely. Potter is throwing a ball, apparently, to present both her and the young Ginny Weasley to society. He has yet to have a party since he left his godfather’s house for Potter’s Hall. The whole village is invited and I for one have already secured two dances with the girl.”

“Again, sir, I ask, how does this information concern me?” he asked dryly.

“You don’t mean to go?”

“Of course not. I would never set foot in Potter’s house, and I care even less for this Mudblood than I do for the lowly Weasley girl!” he exclaimed.

Theo laughed and said, “Better for me! I shall steal the affections of the beauty from every other man in the room. I shall have a better chance without your attendance! I for one am looking forward to going.”

Draco stormed away from his friend and got up in his saddle, and rode his horse at a steady gallop all the way back to Malfoy Manor. Could the situation get any worse? Not only was the prettiest girl he had ever laid eyes on a kin of Potter’s, but she was a Muggle-born! Inferior to him in every conceivable way. A common Mudblood. Though one never said such a word in polite society, that was indeed what the witch was and nothing could change that.

After a light lunch and a tour of Harry’s beautiful home, Harry suggested that they take a nice stroll around his property. As they strolled Hermione said, “You don’t have to have a ball for me, you know.”

“Of course I do. You are past the age where you should have been presented to society, and if you intend to live in Godric’s Hollow, you simply must have your coming out. Also, I admit to ulterior motives,” Harry began, “Ginny Weasley, who due to her family’s circumstances has never been presented either, is the woman I love and hope to make Lady Potter in the very near future. She must have her coming out before that can occur.” Harry smiled and took Hermione’s hand as they walked along.

Hermione was happy for her cousin, because as he spoke of the young woman, his eyes lit up, and that sort of devotion to another was rare. She was also impressed that despite the young woman’s lot in life, apparently, her station was below his, her cousin still cared for the girl and it was not a concern to him. “Is she half blood, like you, cousin?” she found herself asking.

“No, she is pureblood. Pureblood doesn’t by design equal means, Hermione,” Harry reminded.

As they walked along, Hermione could not help but have selfish thoughts. What if Harry married this woman and she no longer wanted Hermione to live at Potter’s Hall. She would be cast out, just as she was by her stepfather. She would again be alone. Best not to become too comfortable here. She needed to formulate a plan immediately in which she could either make her own way in the world, or marry. It would be her only hope for survival.

“When shall I meet your lovely Miss Weasley?” Hermione asked.

“Shortly, for her home is down that hill, and I would like to invite her to dine with us this evening. It would not be proper for her to dine with me alone, but now, with my cousin present, I will be able to ask her to dine with us all the time,” Harry said with a spark in his eye.

They approached the top of a hill and Harry pointed to a small grey farmhouse. “Her family owns a small farm beside my property. Unfortunately, they are without money or status, but if she consents to be my bride, all of that will change for them, for I shall take care of her whole family.”

Hermione thought Harry was so kind. They walked down the hillside and he said, “I hope you will consent to my meddling in your education.”

“What do you mean, sir? I am beyond the age of schooling,” she said.

“But, I know your mother sent you to a magical school for only two years, so there must be some things lacking. My childhood tutor, Remus Lupin, resides at Potter’s Hall and has consented to teach you whatever you would like to learn. Likewise, there is a man in the village, Severus Snape, who is a renowned potion master, and I know you love potion making. I managed to secure lessons with him as well. I hope you don’t mind my meddling, but as your only living male relative, I feel it behooves me to think of your future.”

Hermione was pleased. She loved everything about learning. She had managed to read every book on magic that she could obtain, which were plenty since Harry had sent her book after book over the last five years, but to learn things from a teacher, to see the written put into the practical, these were the things that she would be pleased to ensue.

“Thank you, Harry, I would be pleased to learn,” she said with a smile.

Harry started to walk toward the little house, when Hermione said, “Would you consent to my walking around unescorted? I would like to see the rest of your property.”

“I did rather hope to introduce you to Miss Weasley’s brother Ron. He is one of my best friends. I shall invite him to dine with us as well, if you would consent,” Harry said.

“Of course, Harry,” she conceded.

Harry had hoped that Hermione and Ron would find friendship with one another, and perhaps the friendship would turn to love. He wanted his friend to be happy, and he hoped to secure a fixed future for Hermione, also. She deserved some happiness and security in her life. Ron would be perfect for her and marriage to her would help his family, so it would be advantageous for them both. That was why he had his solicitor draw up a document that would give Hermione a rather large dowry. Harry knew she could not hope to marry well without one. He would inform her of this information at another date, because at that moment he was going to see his true love.

Hermione started to walk back toward the house; at least she thought she was walking back toward the house. In truth, she was becoming increasingly disoriented. She would Apparate back, if she had in fact carried her wand, or more importantly, knew how to Apparate. She had lived in a Muggle community all her days; therefore, she did not usually carry her wand in fear that someone would discover who and what she was. She was not yet accustomed to the fact that this was a magical community and no one would think twice if she drew her wand.

To make the matter of her wanderings worse, the sky was now grey and overcast, and large raindrops had begun to fall. She saw a small building, really a ruined building, as the stones were falling and the place was overgrown, but at least it appeared to have a roof, and it would offer her protection from the rain until such a time that she could carry on and try to locate the massive Potter’s Hall.

She ran into the building and took her straw hat off her head. Her hair hung wet around her shoulders. It never stayed on top of her head, but she never took the proper time to secure it, so that was why it constantly fell on her shoulders. She put her hat down on a small pew and noticed that this was once a church. She walked up to the ruined pulpit, reached out, and touched the dark mahogany wood.

She did not see the man who stood in the corner, nonetheless, he saw her. It surprised him when she ran in the old church. This was his sanctuary, his haven. He came to this spot when he needed to be alone and think. He came here this day to think about the very creature that had just crossed the threshold. He could tell that she thought she was alone, so he would alert her to his company. He said, “Good afternoon, Miss Granger.”

She turned quickly, with her hand on her heart and a look of fear on her face. “Sir, I didn’t see you there. I thought I was the single inhabitant of this ruined little church.”

He stepped away from the corner, spread his hands, and said, “Now you see that you are not.”

“My apologies, sir, for trespassing on your solitude, I shall take my leave.” She bowed her head and started toward the door.

He stood in her way and said, “Please, tell me, what do I owe the pleasure of your company here in my little church?”

“Your church? Am I no longer on Harry’s property?” she asked.

He rolled his eyes and said, “Potter only thinks he owns the world, but I assure you, you are now on my property. Tell me, Miss Granger, do you often go walking on private property unaccompanied by a chaperone?”

She did not like his accusations. She told him she assumed this was Harry’s property! Likewise, he had no authority to question whom she walked with, or whether or not she walked alone. “Not that it is your concern, sir, but I was walking with my cousin, and he decided to visit his friends, the Weasleys, and I wished to return to Potter’s Hall and apparently I became lost, and obviously I was caught unexpectedly by the rain.”

Draco did not like how she took liberties and talked to him as if he were of low intellect. As if he were ignorant! The nerve of the woman! “Apparate!” he demanded.

“I don’t have my wand, sir,” she bit back, anger gracing her features. Did the arrogant man think she would not do that if she could? She did not even know how to Apparate, not that he needed to know that.

Draco expelled a small laugh and said, “Not very smart of you, is it?”

Hermione never liked anyone to question her intelligence. She said, “That is none of your concern, Sir. I shall trespass no further on your time or your property, and again I apologize if my presence discomfited you in any way.” She made to walk past him, but he still stood in the doorway. She would have to touch him physically to make him move and she knew she could not do that.

“I think since you came upon my property, and invaded my solitude, I should be granted more than a clipped apology, Miss,” he said. He was going to tell her he felt she owed him a dance at the ball, as he just decided it might be entertaining to attend after all. She apparently mistook his meaning, because he saw a look of horror grace her pretty features.

She felt mortified. What was the man suggesting? “Move aside, sir,” she barked with a false bravado. “I apologized, and I told you I mistook this for my cousin’s property, and to that extent, that is the end of it.”

Draco wondered who the little chit thought she was, to speak to him in such tones? “Well, now you know that my estate runs parallel to Potter’s and you shall not make that mistake again, will you?”

She felt put in her place, and she also felt tears threaten to spring to her eyes. Improper as it might be, she physically pushed him aside and ran out into the rain. She realized she left her hat on the pew, but it would have to remain. She looked to her left and to her right, still confused how to find Harry’s house, and she broke out into a run, going straight instead.

Draco went and retrieved her hat and then ran after her. She could not get far; after all, she did not even know where Potter’s Hall was. He saw her running and only then did he realized two things. If she told Potter how that he acted a cad toward her, he would more than likely be challenged to a Wizard’s duel with the man, in which he was not sure he would win, and second, he did not want her to run away. He wanted to speak to her some more. The latter thought filled him with more dread than the first.

“Miss Granger!” he yelled.

She turned quickly, saw him running toward her in the rain, and then she continued to run. What must he think of her! He was a pureblood elitist who would undoubtedly tell Harry that she behaved badly. Would Harry send her away for causing him embarrassment? Where would she go? She continued to run.

He was faster, but of course, and he reached out and grabbed her arm. He spun her around. “You are a crazy woman, running around in the rain! Come back to the church, I beseech thee, and I shall not say anything else unpleasant to you, I promise. Come just until the rain passes.”

She did not know what to say or do. The rain was becoming more torrential, and she could scarcely see. If she became lost when the sky was clear, what would happen to her when the sky became dark? He again said, “Let us seek shelter until the rain passes.” He offered his arm to her. She nodded and put her hand on the crook of his arm. He held her hat in his other hand and they jogged back toward the little church to await the end of the rain together.

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