Lucius had been pestering Draco to invite Hermione again. He hadn’t warmed up to her, but wanted to give her an offer she hopefully wouldn’t be able to resist…
Draco knew his dad must be up to something, though he had no idea what. However, Hermione agreed. She had her own reasons…
Hermione wanted to test out the waters again. How would she feel living at the manor…? Could she relax in that place or would memories spoil it for her? Or Lucius himself…?
“I don’t suppose I could…. I mean… What would happen if I stayed the night? Would er…”
“My mother smother you in your sleep?” Draco winked as they were walking up the long driveway.
“I would love for you to stay the night…” he said more seriously. “If you’re up for it, that is..”
“I’m a bit afraid for nightmares,” Hermione acknowledged. “But otherwise I would like to see you at your home for a longer amount of time…”
“In my natural habitat…” Draco smirked.
“It is technically yours, now right?” Hermione wondered if the subject was a painful one. “Or is it your mother’s?”
“Mine,” he replied darkly. “I could move you in and mother out, demand her to, but I never would….”
“I’m not asking you too!” she responded, appalled that he might think that of her.
Draco gritted his teeth. “I know you didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t potentially come to that…”
“I would never feel entitled to… no, you mustn’t…” Hermione agreed. “You’d be more than welcome to live at..”
He smiled. “I thought you’d never ask…”
“What?” Hermione was baffled. She just made the remark, it wasn’t an actual offer to immediately…
Draco laughed at her. “If only you could see your face, right now...” he whispered softly.
“Oh…” Hermione blushed when she realized he’d just been teasing her.
“Mrs. Ron Weasley or should I say Mudblood, or do you prefer that Granger girl…” The last three words were spoken in a mock voice belonging to a much younger Draco.
Hermione was alone in the grand living room with Lucius’ portrait. He had requested a private audience and although both Narcissa and Draco had advised her against it, Hermione had accepted the challenge.
If she was eventually going to live here, she should be able to stand up to him.
“Hermione will do…” she replied coolly.
“I’ll go with Mudblood, I think.” His reply was curt and nasty. “So good to meet you alone. It surprises me that you are not hiding behind my son or wife this time around…”
“I wouldn’t…” she said.
“You have so far… I would like to put some suggestions to you…” Lucius began. “I’m sure you realize I will not let my son stay under your love spell for much longer. I simply cannot allow it.”
“It is not your decision..” Hermione retorted.
“We’ll see about that….” Lucius eyes glinted malevolently. “As we all know your marriage to one of those Weasley’s was very unfortunate, literally so…” He provided a small pause for his words to sink in. “Something that I might be able to correct…”
Hermione held her breath. Was he really offering her money?
“Our Gringotts safe is bursting with Galleons as it is, therefore a few hundred….” Hermione’s eyes narrowed, and Lucius sighed deeply, as he continued “thousand of the gold coins…”
“Do you honestly believe that is my sole interest in Draco?” Hermione said indignantly. “Do you think so little of your own son…?”
“Of course not! On the contrary, I see better prospects for him than he himself does! He seems to think that he has to redeem the family name by some lousy attempt of indicating a change in beliefs! Ancient and traditional beliefs… Part of our noble family for centuries! Squandered for…. For you!” He spat out the final words of his rant.
“He has changed his beliefs, yes…” Hermione replied. “Perhaps they were never his to begin with…?”
“They definitely were…. I can assure you…” Lucius said. “It is merely our fall from grace that has brought about this change. I am quite convinced that once our name is restored to its rightful place, he will come to his senses…”
“We’ll both have to wait and see then..” Hermione turned as she was ready to leave this discussion.
“Not so quick…” Lucius interrupted her return. “I’ve only just started…”
“What more could you want?!” Hermione was losing her temper. “I decline your offer of money..”
“And you believe him?” he sneered at her. “You trust my precious son? The one who bullied you throughout your school years…”
“He has changed… We both have. Draco has grown up…” Hermione stated plainly, with a slight tremor in her voice.
“Not utterly convinced… are you, my dear…” He said darkly. Lucius’ eyes seemed to bore into hers when he continued: “Nor should you… I have it on very good authority that he is keeping secrets from you….”
She didn’t believe him, but the older Malfoy wasn’t fazed. “Oh, yes…. I am sure of it…. It is because of this particular knowledge that I am quite certain he will eventually come around and make his forefathers proud. I still have the highest hopes for my son!”
Lucius sounded proud and confident as Hermione’s confidence crumbled under his gaze. Did Draco keep secrets from her? Harry had alluded to something as well!
She ran from the room, Lucius’ hollow laugh following her steps. With a large slam, she shut the door, panting from the horrible experience.
“Hermione… are you all right?” Two worried voices greeted her.
“You shouldn’t have been alone with father…” Draco said irritated, as Narcissa claimed that Lucius had become more unpleasant ever since his death.
“It simply does not agree with him…” she said in a consoling tone.