Chapter 8: An Unhappy Situation Turns Happy:
The next morning Hermione had a clearer view of the events from yesterday and she knew one thing for certain: Hermione Granger had met her match with Lord Draco Malfoy, and circumstances were such that neither could declare their feelings to the other. Oh, Lord Malfoy tried to declare his, but he failed miserably. She declared hers with her hand. Oh unhappy circumstances, indeed. She must forget about the man, and his strong brow, and broad shoulders, and smooth fine hair. She must put last night away in her memory and never think of it again. She could scarcely live with the embarrassment and the regret she felt. She headed off for breakfast, her ankle now healed, her pride still bruised.
Once at breakfast, Harry told Hermione and Remus, “Well, I did it. I proposed to Miss Weasley, and she accepted!”
“Congratulations, Harry, my boy,” Remus declared. He stood to shake the man’s hand. Harry’s smile was contagious, so Hermione had to smile also.
“What do you think, Cousin, have I made a good choice for a wife?” he asked.
“You seem besotted with her and her with you. What could be better?” Hermione asked. She was happy for him. She was happy for both of them. If only she could find a man who did not care that their situations were not equal.
She cringed when she recalled the events of yesterday. After she slapped Lord Malfoy, he said, “Well, I now know your feelings, for I felt them resoundingly on my cheek. I shall linger no longer. I will see that Harry’s servant comes to help you in the house.” With his hand on his cheek he rang the doorbell, and waited for the butler, his back to Hermione.
The butler came and Hermione said, “Manning, do you mind giving Lord Malfoy and I a moment?” The man bowed to Hermione and shut the door once more. Draco turned to Hermione. She said, “You tell me that I am no better than the dirt on your shoes, and you expect me to be pleased? I am sorry for striking you, for that was wrong, but you were in the wrong as well.
“You say you want to be my friend, possibly more, and yet you insult me at every turn. How would you feel? I am a human being with emotions, and a bad temper, and I can tell you how I felt. I felt sadden by your words. I felt heartbroken. There is nothing I would liked more than to be friends or more with you, but only when and if you see me as your equal. I will not try to prove my worth to you, for I should not have to, so thank you and goodbye.” She rang the doorbell again. Manning came outside and helped her in the house.
Draco stood there and thought about her words, and for the first time in a long time he truly did not know what to do.
Now here she sat, as Harry talked endlessly about a wedding in a month and how Ginny’s mother and father would be moving to Potter’s Hall, and she knew more than ever that she must seek her education, and quickly, for in a month she would be without a home once again.
Hermione said, “Mr. Lupin, do you think you could escort me to Mr. Snapes’ house for my tutoring session?”
“I thought Lord Malfoy was to escort you,” he said.
“I believe he changed his mind,” Hermione said. Or rather, she changed it for him when she slapped him. Why did she strike the man? Just because he was supercilious and vain, was no reason to slap the man. It was a reason to avoid him, but not slap him.
Harry said, “Did something untold happen between Lord Malfoy and yourself yesterday when he escorted you home?”
“Not at all, Harry,” she said.
“You don’t have affection for him, do you?” he asked. She gave him a shocked expression and he said, “I am sorry, Hermione, but it begged to be asked.”
Lupin stood and said, “On that note, I will beg my leave. I will meet you at ten by the grand staircase, Miss Granger, to escort you to Spinner’s End.” Lupin got up and left the table.
“Hermione, I am waiting,” Harry said with a frown. She looked down at her lap. “I am your only male relative, nay, your only living relative, and your well being is of utmost importance to me. Tell me, do you find yourself in Lord Malfoy’s favour?”
“Not at all,” she reported.
“Then I shall put the matter to rest. There is something else that I must tell you, and the news is grave, I fear. Ron Weasley has sought and gained the affections of another. I had hoped my good friend would turn your head, and likewise with you to him, but he finds himself enamored with another. Miss Lovegood, it seems,” Harry conveyed, raising his eyebrows.
“Is something wrong with the match, Harry?” she asked. “If they care for each other, and are good together, where is the harm?”
“You are right, Hermione, forgive me. On a lighter note, do you recall Ron and Ginny’s brother Fred? One of the twins?”
“I do recall him,” she said taking a drink of tea.
“He has asked my permission to court you. What would you say to that?” he asked.
She almost dropped her teacup at that news. “Harry, you did not give him permission, did you?” she asked as she stood.
“Sit down, Hermione. I told him I would have to think about it, and I wanted to consult you. He is a good man, he owns his own shoppe, and you would be well provided and cared for. He would make you a fine husband.”
“But I would not love him, nor he me,” she said.
“Love would come in time,” he surmised.
“Why is it you are allowed the courtesy of love and marriage? Am I not worth the same courtesy? I promise you, Cousin, when you marry Miss Weasley, I will find my own station, a profession of some type, and a home of my own. I shall not encroach on your kindness once you are a married man, but please, do not seek any more suitors for me.” She started out of the dining room when Harry stood as well.
“Hermione, come back here!” he said tersely. She had never heard him speak to her with such a tone. She stepped back in the room.
“Forgive me, Harry, I will do what you see fit,” she said with a curtsey. She again started out of the room, when he stormed over to her so suddenly that he knocked his chair over.
“Hermione, please do not assume I act in anything other than your best interest. I would never have asked you to come here if I only meant for you to leave again. Potter’s Hall is your home now, forever, if you want it to be. My marriage to Ginny will make no difference where that is concerned,” he pledged. He put his hands on her shoulders and stared directly into her eyes.
She smiled sadly and said, “It makes no difference to you, but it may to her. You cannot speak for the future Lady Potter, Lady of the house, Harry. No woman wants another woman in her home.”
“Hermione, I will not argue with you about this, but please know that if you do not wish for an attachment with Fred Weasley, I will tell him no, and I will take full credit for the rejection. Just think about it, and choose not with your heart, but with your head, please.” He kissed her forehead and left the room.
A while later she was sitting on the bottom step, reading a book on charms that Remus had given her, and waiting for him to come downstairs to take her to her lesson, when the bell to the front door rang. She called out, “I shall get the door, Manning!” She bounded to the door, and opened it with a smile, to see a solemn Lord Malfoy on the other side. She was so surprised to see him that she slammed the door shut again, in shock.
The bell rang again. Manning walked to the entry hall and said, “Miss, shall I get the door?”
“No, Manning, I shall get the door,” she said again. She took a deep breath and opened the door for a second time.
“I think I prefer being slapped by you than to have the door shut in my face, but I am not certain. Neither is pleasant,” he said with a definite frown on his face.
“I could do them both again, so you can make an educated opinion,” she said without humour.
However, he thought she was funny and charming, even if she did rankle him. He said, “Not today, thank you. Are you ready to go to my godfather’s?”
“You still mean to take me?” she inquired, stunned.
“Not this again,” he said more to himself than to her. He labored, “As I once told you, I am a man of my word. I offered to tutor you, so I shall. I told my godfather I would escort you to Spinner’s End, and so I shall. Is one of those concepts too hard for you to understand?”
“But I struck you yesterday,” she retorted.
“I am aware, as is my cheek. I also am aware that I deserved it, slightly. I was wrong to say you were not worthy of me, and I was wrong to assume you would want to see me as anything other than a friend. I would like to start anew, if we may.” He bowed low and said, “I am Sir Draco Malfoy, of Malfoy Manor, first and only son of the late Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. It is an honour and privilege to make your acquaintance.”
She held out her hand to him, and he took the edges of her fingers, and held them lightly in his hand. She lowered her head slightly, her hand still in his, and she said, “I am Hermione Jean Granger, of Kent, the daughter of the late Henry and Jane Granger, cousin to Lord Harry Potter, of Godric’s Hollow. It is an honour to not slap you.”
He smiled and kissed her hand. The simple gesture sent a tingling sensation through them both. “Shall we go?”
“I should tell Remus, for he was going to take me, and I need to change my clothes,” she said. She ran back in the house and a few moments later, she was back. She had on a wide brimmed straw hat, with a red ribbon. She had on a rose coloured dress with a modest bodice
“You changed your attire?” he asked.
She looked down at her gown. She was now embarrassed that she had changed her clothing, especially as she had done it just for him. He quickly added, “I am glad you did, for that dress is fetching on you, and the colour is the exact colour that my cheek was yesterday, when you slapped it.”
Hermione smiled at his wit and bit her bottom lip. He winked at her and asked, “Shall we Apparate?”
“How about side-a-long Apparition?” she asked.
“Is this an excuse to touch my arm?” he asked, amused.
“Sir, I am offended you would think that,” she said with a warm smile. He took her arm and Apparated them to Spinner’s End.
The house at Spinner’s End was dark and ominous. Hermione said, “Mr. Snape lives here?”
“Yes he does, but only in the summer months and on holidays. He teaches at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry during the year,” Draco replied. “You didn’t attend that school, did you?”
“No, my mother was reluctant to have me go so far away, so Harry’s godfather, Sirius, found a small girls school, The Lakewood School for Girls, in London. However, I only went for two years. Once my mother married, she made me come home,” Hermione said.
“My stepfather wasn’t aware of what I was. My mother did not want to risk her marriage or our home. Our village looked down on magical folk. She allowed me to continue my Muggle education, reading, writing, art appreciation, but that was all.”
“That is horrible,” he said, affronted.
“My mother did what she thought was best. She had to secure our future, and for her, finding another husband was the only way to do that. He was a good man, too,” Hermione explained.
“So good that as soon as she died, he remarried, and made you find your own way in the world, without a dowry, or a recommendation?” Draco said. “I beg your pardon, Miss, but that isn’t a good man.” Draco started to walk toward the house but she remained where she was. He walked back toward her and said, “I guarantee if you are late my godfather will not be kind enough to continue to teach you.”
“Am I meant to go in there by myself?” she asked.
“Are you afraid?” he quizzed with a crooked smiled.
“He was rather formable, but I would not say I am afraid. Apprehensive, yes.” She took two steps closer to the door.
He took two steps back toward her, so he was standing a hairsbreadth from her and leaned his face toward hers. He held up the brim of her hat and said in low tones, “Then I shall have to stay to protect you, even though you are not afraid.” His breath was warm on her face. She looked up in his eyes, and noticed for the first time they were silver. What an odd colour for eyes.
She found that she had trouble swallowing. She said, “Your eyes are silver.” Then she shook her head and said, “I meant to say that I need no protection, but fellowship.”
“Ah,” he said, smiling warmly. “And your eyes are a beautiful brown; however, what I really meant to say was that I know you are not afraid. Still, I shall remain close, if you should need me, for fellowship.” And he would…he would remain close to her, always, if she would allow it.
She put her hand on the lapel of his cutaway dark jacket, and leaned up on tiptoes. She said, “Yes, for fellowship, however, if you are afraid, I will do whatever is in my power to protect you.” She fell back down on the balls of her feet.
He could not help but smile. His gaze held hers, and her smile rivaled his own. Snape stood in the doorway and said, “Do you both mean to stare at each other all day, or shall we start our lesson?”
After a two hour lesson, Severus Snape found Hermione Granger irritating, annoying, and one of the brightest women, no, one of the brightest people, he had ever met. She already knew much about potion making, all apparently self-taught or learned from books. Draco knew that potion making was best learned by doing, not reading, so he too was impressed.
With their lesson over, Snape had his servant make them lunch. Hermione asked him about Hogwarts. Snape gave her a book to read, ‘Hogwarts a History’. He told her all about the magical school. She was engrossed in his story. Finally, she asked him, “Do you suppose they might ever employ me as a teacher?”
“Perhaps, someday, if you continue to study,” Snape said. He certainly would never rule that out for the young girl.
When she and Draco left, they began walking down the lane, and Draco asked, “Why did you ask about teaching at Hogwarts?”
“Harry is to marry by the end of the summer. I must find a position by then. He told me that I am welcome in their home, but he means to have her parents live there as well. I think it would be awkward,” she said.
He grimaced and said, “I think it would be horrible, to live with all those Weasleys!”
She smiled and said, “What do you know of Fred Weasley?”
“My amount of knowledge of the man is that he has ginger hair,” Draco drawled.
Hermione said, “He has asked Harry’s permission to court me.” Draco stopped walking. What did she say? She turned to face him. “Lord Malfoy?” she asked, “What is wrong?”
“What did Lord Potter tell the scoundrel?” he asked.
“He said it was up to me, if I decline, he will tell him no.” She walked up to Draco and said, “What do you think I should tell him?”
“Why ask me?” Draco asked with a frown on his face.
“We are friends now. Was that not decided just this morning? I ask you as my friend - what is your opinion on the matter?” she asked.
“It depends on your heart. What does you heart say?” he asked in return. He was closer to her now. She had not even realized he had walked closer. That was because she was lost in his silver eyes.
“My heart tells me to wait for love, but not everyone is lucky enough to find true love,” she waned. She looked down. He closed the gap that separated them, and reached up and removed her hat. The red ribbon, which was tied loosely, fell away. He held her hat by the brim, to his side.
His long, lean fingers of his other hand, all muscles and tendons, came up to stroke her face. A summer breeze blew her hair in her face, and he brushed it away. “I am afraid to say anything,” he admitted.
“Why is that?” she inquired.
“You might slap me again.” He smiled. His knuckles skimmed her cheek, and then skimmed down her bare arm, to grasp her hand. “Do not marry without love, Miss Granger. You deserve love.”
“We all do,” she said simply.
“If only it was that easy,” he countered. He removed his hand from hers, and taking her hat in both of his hands, placed it back on her head. “Perhaps you can see yourself home from here. I have another engagement.”
“Could you point me toward Potter’s Hall?” she asked.
He smiled and said, “I know you have your wand, for you used it in your lesson today, so Apparate there. I am sure his wards will not keep you out, as they did me.”
She suddenly looked apprehensive again. She nodded and said, “Of course, I should Apparate. Well, good day, Lord Malfoy, and thank you.” He nodded to her and Apparated back to the Manor.
Apparition. She had never learned to Apparate. She was embarrassed to say as much to anyone magical. She was also afraid to try it on her own. She knew it could have disastrous results. She continued to walk down the lane. She hoped that the village was in the direction she was traveling, and once in the village, she would find someone to take her to Potter’s Hall.
Draco arrived back at the Manor, and realized that he had not arranged with Hermione the time for his upcoming tutoring session. He wanted to start first thing tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps she had not yet Apparated to Potter’s Hall. He popped right back where he left her, and indeed, he saw her as she was walking down the lane, in completely the wrong direction.
He called out, “Miss Granger, may I ask you where you are going?”
She turned around. He ran up to her as she said, “It is such a pleasant day, I thought I would walk to the village, and then on to Potter’s Hall.”
“The village is the other way. You do have a bad sense of direction, do you not?” he said as he pointed behind him.
“Oh, thank you, Sir. Was there a reason you came back?”
“I want to start our lessons tomorrow. You may still bring Mr. Lupin if you see fit. I will adjust my wards to admit you. Just Apparate there by noon, if that’s acceptable to you,” he said.
“That’s fine,” she said quietly.
He regarded her through narrow eyes. Something occurred to him. She must not be able to Apparate. She only had two years of magical education. Of course, she could not Apparate. That could be one more thing he could teach her. He amended, “I think I shall send my carriage for you instead, if you would like.” He would save her the embarrassment of finding out her secret.
She smiled widely and said, “I would like that, Sir.”
“Until tomorrow, Miss, and try not to get lost between now and then, and please, do not accept any Weasley’s proposals.”
“What if they offer something which is beyond compare?” she said jokingly.
“I would like to see what they could offer that would tempt you,” he bemoaned, though with a smile. He then said, “Do you really want that walk? If you are tired, I could Apparate with you back to Potter’s Hall. I have time before my appointment.”
“Are you certain that you are not just looking for an excuse to hold my arm?” she said, reminiscent of his earlier remark.
“But of course I am, is there any question in that?” he asked with a smile.
He held out his arm. She put her hand on it gently. She stroked the broadcloth of his jacket, looked up into his eyes, and said, “You know my secret, do you not?”
“What secret is that? That you are secretly in love with me or that you cannot Apparate?” he said with a grin. She blushed. How he had longed to see that blush again. He said, “Nevertheless, I realize only one of those statements is the truth.”
“Of course, because I DO know how to Apparate,” she said jokingly, with a sly smile.
“Ah, I see. I thought that one was the lie. Good to know, Miss Granger, very good to know.” Hermione’s hand continued to rest on his arm. He put his other hand on top of hers and Apparated her back to Potter’s Hall.
Once there he bowed to her and said, “Remember, do not accept any proposals of any kind.” In his head he thought, ‘unless they are from me’.
“I will try to resist,” she said before he Apparated away. She twirled in place and ran in the house. How could a day that started so unhappy, end up to be one of the best days of her life? Things really did not make much sense here at Godric’s Hollow and for once, she was happy about that fact.