For a second she contemplated the risks of lowering her wand around Malfoy, but Harry's advice popped into her head and reminded her to act professional; despite the fact that she just showed her former enemy how deeply the war scarred her. She lowered her wand and apologized, "I'm sorry Mr. Malfoy, you took me by surprise."
Draco Malfoy had to employ every bit of self-discipline his mother and father beat into his head as a child to not make a snide remark about how Hermione ruined the little effort she seemed to have put into her looks. He also realized that making that comment would also show he paid a tiny bit of attention to her appearance and that was simply not acceptable. He figured that if Hermione wanted to act as if their past never happened, he should comply: for now.
"It is okay Ms. Granger, please follow me to Malfoy Manor." He was going to apparate them to the outer gates, but his mind screamed, "Don't let the Mudblood touch you." Despite his best efforts, his rearing has made a rather large mark on him that is difficult to erase.
Hermione, meanwhile, couldn't help herself from noting how polite Malfoy was. Her guard was far from down, but she decided that a death grip on her wand was not needed, and proceeded to follow him out of the desolate Victorian and toward a slim brick road.
They seem to have been walking for 20 minutes before Hermione could tell they were close to Malfoy Manor. She stepped onto the larger path that Draco turned onto, then all of a sudden the Manor, in all of it's dark elegance, appeared in front of her. She froze for a minute, reliving painful memories while staring up at the many torrents and wings of the stormy castle.
Draco also stopped, fully prepared to tell Ms. Know-it-All that they were at his home finally, but as he turned around to give her orders, he saw her wide-eyed, frozen in fear. Snarky quips flowed through his head, but (like his emotions) he pushed them down when he realized that he was part of the reason that such a strong woman was now quaking from terror. He immediately evaluated himself. It was not okay to show her softness, but it was also not proper to be cold when a woman is in such a state. "Did I just think of Granger as a woman? Did I also compliment her?! Draco! Get a hold of yourself!" Draco reprimanded himself. He decided that her would give her directions with slightly more kindness. This would break her of this state and not get him injured for insulting her while she was not in complete control. His memory flipped to the punch in third year. "Definitely not provoking her," he internally flinched.
"Granger, I need you to take my arm to be able to get passed the wards," Draco directed gently. He briefly cringed at touching her, but also pushed that down, as not allowing her access and pissing of the Minister of Magic would not get his reputation back.
Hermione heard Malfoy's voice and jumped out of her memories. Her face flushed from embarrassment. This was the second time in half an hour that he witnessed her weakness; she would have to assert dominance to show that she was not some frail, damaged girl (even if she may be a bit damaged, he did not need to know that). She adjusted herself quickly, straightening her back and keeping her head up as she took Malfoy's outstretched arm. "Thank you, now, do you know anything about the Muggle Marriage Act of 1205?" She felt that showing him how much she knew about the old law would reassert her knowledge and power. She decided to ignore the fact that she was here for his help for a tiny bit; enough to build back up her pride she lost.
"Same old Granger. Has she forgotten already that she's coming here for my help?" Malfoy thought as he vaguely replied to her question. "Her arm warm and soft," momentarily went through his mind. He caught himself and scolded himself internally, "No, no, no. She is Hermione-wouldn't-shut-up-to-save-her-life-Granger. No attraction." He then shut down any branches of thought that did not relate to the current mission at hand and vital motor-movements.
Hermione was becoming increasingly annoyed. Malfoy was giving her bland answers that got her no where, and her feet had begun to kill her thanks to her sexy, but impractical, pumps that have done nothing to show that she is still better than him (no matter how petty that sounds-I can't help it).
They both arrive at the grand doors to the Malfoy residence. At once, a house elf opens the door and takes their jackets against Hermione's avid protests. "Calm down Granger. The house elves are paid and follow all of your new bloody laws. You should have had to be the one to tell them they were required vacation. I'd like to see you deal with 20 crying elves who thought I was punishing them. Just give Dinky your coat and we can move on. I'd rather this not take all day," Malfoy drawled, back to his old self.
"Dinky?" Hermione said incredulously. "Are you Winky's brother?"
"Yes, Miss. Dinky miss Winky very much. You know Winky?" The little elf asked with his big eyes boring into hers with interest.
"Yes, I saw her at Hogwarts when I returned for my final year. She is recovering. I hope you can see her. Malfoy can give you my address and you can come by on your vacation days and I can arrange you to see Winky again," Hermione smiled. She loves helping the house elves, after all, it was her life passion for almost three years.
"Dinky would much like that," Dinky beamed up at Hermione.
Draco, watching the encounter from the sidelines was slightly annoyed at the delay. "Just because I do not have a formal job does not mean I do not have tasks I must complete everyday. What do they think, I have all the time in the world, and I loaf around all day because I have money?" Draco muttered to himself. Finally growing peeved, he loudly droned, "Granger, I do not have all day. Please excuse us Dinky, but we have business to attend to. Will you please have tea brought up to the library?"
The little house elf nodded furiously and popped away.
Hermione was a bit miffed that her humanitarianism was cut short, but she followed Malfoy up the magnificent staircase and down many hallways to the ordinate doors to the Malfoy library. She was practically drooling with anticipation to see the thousands of books that if would most likely hold that she forgot Malfoy's rudeness. Temporarily.
Her jaw could have hit the floor when he swung open the doors and the smell of parchment and old bindings flowed toward her. It was everything she dreamed it would be and more. Shelves and shelves of books that go on as far as she could see. So many tomes full of knowledge yet to be had. The ministry would probably destroy half of these books if they knew about them. "I could get used to this," Hermione thought,
Hermione began unconsciously walking towards the many rows, itching to run her fingers down the bindings. She was snapped out of her trance when Malfoy jerked her back away from the white volume she was about to caress. This angered her. Could she not have one moment of bliss amongst the very things she loved most. She was about to let Malfoy know exactly what she was going to curse off of him if he every did that again when she saw his expression.
Draco had begun to take a seat to start the inevitably boring discussion about some pureblood law when he glanced toward Hermione. She was reaching out to touch a book. A book that would give severe burns if touched by someone of un-pure ancestry. The short-lived thought that he should let her touch it and learn her lesson the hard way was shoved away as he lurched away from his seat to yank her away from her interest. He gripped her forearm and pulled her into him (without thought- or so he tells himself). "What the hell is she thinking. She is smart enough to know that this library has dark books. Why the bloody hell would she touch them without knowing what they are?! The stupid woman!" he internally ranted. When she turned to face him with anger in her eyes, he was about to superiorly point out her utter ignorance, but her expression changed and left him slightly shocked. Was that gratitude? Is that what Hermione Granger's face looks like when she's grateful?
Hermione realized what had happened when she looked at Malfoy. How could she be so…so…unintelligent? What would that book have done to her if it wasn't for Malfoy actually helping her? Should she even dare to say saving her? No! Saving is for princesses and Hermione is not princess. She can take care of herself. Oh, look at those deep grey eyes… This is when Hermione realized that her and Malfoy were embracing and staring at each other. It seemed to have hit both at the same time and they pushed each other away.
"So, the law states that a pureblood cannot marry a muggle or muggle-born and muggles and muggle-born's have no rights to any possessions shared during the 'accidental union'- meaning any romantic or sexual relations they had- and the children of such a union are the property of the pureblood to do with as he pleases. If the pureblood is female-" Hermione began to relieve the awkward tension, but Malfoy interrupted her- per usual.
"What does "to do with as he pleases" mean?" Malfoy asked with an odd, distant expression.
"Well a pureblood male can chose to keep the child or to kill it. Since the child is seen as a possession, there is no penalty to end it's life. It's barbaric and wrong," Hermione expressed with passionate venom. She hated these pureblood laws. If you were a male pureblood you had power over everything. It was not right to Hermione and every word she uttered about the subject showed her extreme hatred for the material.
"Why?" She was brought out of her anger, and had begun to question Malfoy's motives.
"Clarification," Malfoy uttered stiffly. He took all of the questions that statement brought up and threw them in a box to think about tonight. Right now he needed to help the witch in front of him, so she would get out of his manor so he could think. "Now, what is it exactly that you don't know about this law?" Malfoy complained.
"How to un-do it. I don't even know what magic was put into it that sealed it into law!" she plopped down on a chair, exasperated.
As this was the first time Draco had ever heard Granger admit that she didn't know something, the only reaction he could produce was rolling laughter. What was so funny about it? Not much. But finally karma seemed to have caught up with her and that was enough to send Draco into a fit of deep laughter.
This only added to Hermione's mood. She huffed and stood back up, intent on finding a book herself since Malfoy was useless.
"Granger, sit. I will tell you what I know, but if you want to ignore me, I will not save you next time you touch an evil book." Draco has composed himself and figured that angering her will only extend her stay. He wanted her gone and giving her answers was the best way to achieve that.
Hermione turned around and saw a very serious Malfoy. So, she sat down in the chair across from him and summoned parchment and a quill from her beaded bag. She looked up, pen in hand, expectantly.
"So the law-" Draco started.