A Strange Engagement

A Blessing From Belgium

After Narcissa and Draco let a somewhat aghast Lucius in on their plan to rescue Hermione, Draco left the Manor for the Castle. The weather on the way up was horrible and thanks to the sleet, rain and snow (as well as his new long hair), he got thrown off course several times and arrived off schedule. After parking his broom behind a faraway bush, he stood in front of the Castle, staring up at the turrets and ancient stones and wondered just what was going on inside.

Inside the Castle, Fallon was in his room congratulating himself on completely conquering the Granger girl. He had known about her almost the second he'd arrived at the Manor. Call it his vampire intuition, but the fact had been good for blackmail, so he really didn't care how he got it. And he'd seen the muggle movies about vampires and they did have one thing right: muggles, especially muggle girls, were susceptible to vampire charms, and this one was no different. She was almost too easy. And the fact that Draco was so scared of Grandmother that he wasn't even bothering to come rescue the girl he was supposedly in love with? Excellent.

Everything was going his way. He looked in the mirror and ran the brush through his hair again, wondering if he should wash it before he and Hermione left to meet his friends. He asked the picture of the disgruntled Wicca by his bed for the time, and she told him, (rather huffily), that it was almost seven P.M. All right, so he didn't have time to wash up. He had just finished pulling on his cloak when he heard a knock at his bedroom door and pretty soon, Hermione entered his room.

"You do know it's almost time for us to go, I assume?"

He nodded. "Yeah, I'm almost done. The broom is in the courtyard, go get on it and wait for me."

She nodded and left. As she walked to through the kitchen, she noticed something strange: a girl was standing in the yard, staring up at the castle as if debating whether or not to come in. Actually, it wasn't that weird. It was probably just a member of Fallon's little vampire girl fan club. She felt herself tense. She thought Arion had sent them all away. Apparently not.

She watched the girl a bit longer, and then the girl caught her eye, smiled, and started for the door to the kitchen. At that point, Hermione ran for Fallon to do something about the girl.

Draco knew he had been standing there staring at the castle for a very long time. His feet were starting to tingle and he knew he'd lose circulation to them if he didn't move soon. But he was nervous. They hadn't decided on a name for him, or a background story, and he wasn't good at making up these things. As he watched the kitchen door, he suddenly saw Hermione on the other side. He smiled at her and started towards the door, but before he could even take five steps, she bolted out of his vision. He walked up to the door and pressed his face against the glass. Then, he backed away as Fallon suddenly appeared and approached the door.

He opened it slowly and looked at Draco for a moment before allowing a smile to dance across his face.

"Well, well, well. What brings you here? I know you've been gone, but I didn't know you'd come back."

Draco stared at Fallon. He didn't know what to say. Fallon frowned slightly.

"Veronica, are you all right?"

Draco turned away and went to sit on one of the deck chairs to compose himself.

All right, there is no need to panic, he told himself. Fallon's giving you a cover story. This is good. It saves you from making up something awful.

He stood up, cleared his throat, and grinned back.

"Yes, I'm fine. It's just so warm out here." Wow, is that my voice?

"Well, why don't you come inside?" Fallon suggested. "You can tell me all about Belgium."

Draco (or rather Veronica), followed Fallon inside and sat down in the seat that he indicated.

"Well, it was really nice. I tried some new stuff, and met some new people. It was…different."

"How was the prey?"

The prey? Veronica must be a vampire, Draco thought.

"The prey was…nice." He got out. "Are you sure it's okay for us to be here like this? I heard from one of the other girls that you're finally thinking of setting down." He was never going to get used to this voice!

Fallon cocked his head. "Sort of. But nothing is official yet. And besides, it's not like I like her. I'm just after her so my dumb cousin and aunt and uncle will get the old heave-ho from my grandmother. And after that, do you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to give her to the Clan leader. Then, you and I can have everything."

Fallon was looking at him weirdly now. Almost as if he wanted a snog or something.

As he leaned in, Hermione picked that time to come in from the courtyard.

"Come on Fallon, hurry up!" she whined. Draco, although he was a bit horrified at her sudden transformation, couldn't help smiling inside. What would Potty and Weasel say if they could see her now?

But as soon as she laid eyes on him, she stopped talking.

"Who's that?" she asked, her voice icy. "And were you about to kiss her?"

Just as Draco was about to stand up and deny everything, Fallon pushed him back down.

"This is Veronica. Her mom was a friend of my mum's, so we've known each other for awhile. She just came to tell me about her trip to Belgium."

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "I thought we were meeting your friends."

"We are," Fallon said assuringly, his eyes on Draco. "Just a different friend then I thought. Do you have a problem with that?" he looked directly at her and her face immediately went blank.

"No, that's fine," she answered mechanically. "If you need me, I will be in the parlor." And she turned on her heel and left.

"Is that her?" Veronica-Draco asked.

Fallon nodded. "Yeah, she's a muggle-born. This is almost too easy. Now, I think you should join her in the parlor so that the two of you can get to know one another. After all, if the Clan leader won't take her, she'll be your servant." He grinned wickedly, and Veronica-Draco was glad to have leave of him.

When Veronica-Draco entered the parlor, he saw Hermione lying across a sofa on her stomach with her head buried in a pillow.

"Are you trying to suffocate yourself?"

Hermione looked up at him. "What are you doing here? Come to throw your good fortune in my face? Well, I know you probably know this, but with that harem of his, Fallon could dump any girl at any time, so enjoy your time on top while it lasts."

"Did you?" he asked.

"No," she said sulkily, hitting the pillow.

"I could get you out," he offered.

Hermione sat up. "Won't Fallon know that the two of us are missing?" she asked.

"No, because the two of us won't be gone. You'll go, and I'll stay. I know how to handle him."

Hermione jumped off the couch and ran over and hugged him. "Thank you so much! It's been so hard pretending to be in that stupid trance all the time, and Fallon is so vain he hasn't even picked up that I've been faking it the whole time!"

Draco didn't talk. He just let himself take in the hug. It felt kind of good, no really good. It wasn't that his parents had never hugged him or showed him any sort of affection before, but that was different from this. Was this a love hug?

He smiled to himself. "You're welcome, Daphne."

She pulled away and looked at him, wide-eyed. There were only so many people who knew about Daphne.

"What did you call me?"

He looked at her. "I called you Daphne. If we were at school, I'd call you mudblood, but since we aren't and Pansy's not around, I figure it's not polite." He chuckled.

Hermione's mouth was wide open now. "Draco, is that you under all that hair?"

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