Playing with Fire

Chapter 21: Forgetting

Song: The Other Side of Paradise - Glass Animals

Hermione sat by the pond, feeling the grass between her toes and the warmth of the sun on her face in contrast to the cool breeze.

The sun was setting, painting strokes of orange, pink, yellow, and red across the skyline.

“Enjoying yourself, love?“, a voice from behind called to her.

Her eyes were still closed - she took in this feeling of contentment, of happiness. She hummed in response.

“I saw Harry and Ron today”, she told him, dipping her toes in the cold water. “We had tea - they’re both doing well. Harry plans to propose to Ginny this weekend.“, she said joyfully.

“Well it certainly took him long enough”, the voice said with a chuckle before taking a seat next to her. A cool, pale hand covered hers - black and silver rings decorating it and shimmering in the low sunlight.

She smiled down at their hands, then looked up to meet his eyes. An ocean of silver and blue, swimming in harmony. Her smile dropped.

“I’m forgetting something”, she said, feeling panicked for some reason.

He tilted his head in question. “I’m forgetting...“, Hermione started but trailed off, “I have to...have to report to him...have to report...have to...?“, she couldn’t finish the thought, but it was so close in her mind she could feel it. Just out of reach. What am I forgetting? Malfoy.

She startled awake and gasped before rubbing her eyes groggily, “Shit”, she whispered, “what time is-“, she froze when she could sense that she wasn’t alone.

Hermione slowly turned her head to find Malfoy staring at her. She gasped sharply when she met his eyes. “Malfoy”, she huffed in relief, “would it kill you to not sneak up on people?“. Bloody creep. Holding a prisoner captive in his home and now watching them sleep?

“Well, I normally don’t wake people up, nor do I find people asleep in my library”, he stated. She rolled her eyes. Ha ha. Very funny Malfoy.

“I’m sorry, Lucius told me I could stay here a while, I really didn’t mean to”, she said him honestly. She really hadn’t. But was she really sorry? Even Hermione herself wasn’t sure of that. It was nice to be anywhere but the dungeons, even if it meant sleeping in a seated position.

He waved his hand dismissively, “Not like anyone has used it lately anyway.” He walked to the adjacent window seat and sat there, looking out the window at the dark yard. She studied him. His long legs in his black dress pants, a silk black button up snug against his chest. He looked...no.

She shook her thoughts away. Dear Godric she must have been tired to think like that for even a moment. She redirected her thoughts quickly.

“Are you...are you really the Minister of Magic now?“, she asked him.

“Is that such a shock?“, he turned to her, “Ah, you wound me Granger”, he said, feigning distress. He was cute when he smiled. No he wasn’t. Get it together Hermione.

She chuckled lightly, hoping he wasn’t a legilimens. When she didn’t say anything he continued,“Yes, Minister Malfoy at your service”, he did a small bow. He wasn’t cute, he was handsome - What the hell is wrong with me?

“And what does Minister Malfoy spend his days doing?“, she turned her body to angle towards him without meaning to, as if it were out of her hands. Her words came out much flirtier than she had meant them to.

“Whatever the Dark Lord deems necessary”, he responded with a sigh. “I usually spend half my time with him, the other half at the ministry.” Merlin that sounds miserable. Every bit of it, and he doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about it either.

“Malfoy”, she started hesitantly, “why is Voldemort keeping me here? Please tell me, I’d do almost anything, I’m completely in the dark here.” And she meant it - although it obviously excluded certain things.

She fought the temptation to clarify what “almost anything” excluded when he smirked at her. It almost made her blush but she breathed deeply, trying to prevent it. His thoughts likely hadn’t gone the direction hers had.

He appeared to consider this for a moment before sighing and answering her question, “He wants to use you to draw out the Incendiaries. He believes they’re the remaining members of the resistance.” Remaining members of the resistance? She had her suspicions that the Incendiaries she read about in the Daily Prophet were related to the resistance, but who had survived?

Her jaw dropped. “But...Harry is dead, Ginny is dead, I saw them with my own eyes...do you think there are surviving members out there?” She felt the only sliver of hope she had left growing larger.

“Gryffindors can’t ever seem to stay down can they?“, he smirked devilishly. They’re too brave to stay down, unlike cowardly Slytherins. She bit her tongue.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I believe I’ve answered enough questions in one night.“, he told her. Fair enough. This was already more than he typically gave her.

Hermione sighed loudly, looking away from Malfoy as he stood. “You know, I never said you had to stay in the dungeon all day, Merlin knows my father won’t be reading the books in here”, he chuckled darkly. What a tasteless joke. How insensitive could he be?

“You should go back and get some sleep now, though. And from now on, report to me right after you finish up with my father. I can’t come hunt you down every time”, he smirked. Hunt me down? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Hermione waited until she heard Malfoy closing the doors to the library before even moving a muscle. She didn’t want any more interaction with him tonight. Even in the dark isolated halls of Malfoy manor, she’d rather be alone than with him. And yet, she found herself yearning for his presence as soon as he had gone.

The next morning when she woke up, her typical tasteless breakfast was replaced with a stack of pancakes. Hermione was practically foaming at the mouth. Bopsy was standing there staring at Hermione as if waiting for something.

“Good morning Bopsy”, she greeted her and walked over to retrieve the plate from the elf.

Bopsy smiled shyly at her. Hermione looked down at that plate. The pancakes were decorated with a smiley face, and in place of the mouth was the word “mudblood” written in chocolate chips.

“Does mudblood like it? Master Malfoy says Bopsy is to feed you better and Master Malfoy let Bopsy make it herself! Does mudblood like it?“, she asked eagerly. She was clearly quite proud of the breakfast she had put together.

“...yes they’re...“, Hermione paused, “this looks delicious”, she finished. “Thank you, Bopsy.”

The elf grinned as widely as her mouth would allow her to and left looking pleased with her work.

Hermione was, of course, thoroughly insulted by the thought of eating pancakes that said “mudblood” in clear reference to her. But she couldn’t complain. Bopsy likely picked up the phrase from Malfoy himself.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had chocolate. It had been months since she ate anything but rice, toast, and water really. She practically swallowed the pancakes whole.

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