Playing with Fire

Chapter 27: Under your skin

Song: midnight love - Girl in Red

Play to win. How do I win? I need the upperhand. How do I get the upper hand? The old Hermione would research until her wits end. The old Hermione would find a way to win his game, whatever it took.

Hermione had begrudgingly decided against her theory of Stockholm Syndrome. She had found nothing to prove it, and more evidence against it than anything.

The criteria she found for Stockholm Syndrome in the Malfoy library were:

Victim develops positive feelings toward their captor - she definitely did not feel positively for him. Her heart racing and her cheeks turning red could be attributed to fear, intimidation, shock, a number of things.

Victim develops negative feelings towards anyone who could help them - also false. She would gladly flee the manor if she could. She hadn’t physically tried it, but she had a feeling it wouldn’t end well if she did.

Victim begins to see captors’s humanity and believe they have the same goals and values - humanity? Of that, she wasn’t sure. But the same goals and values? Definitely not.

It would also require that there was no previous relationship between the victim and captor. Relationship was a bit too strong a term for how Hermione and Malfoy felt towards each other before. This was enough solidity to back up the fact that she did not have Stockholm Syndrome.

Rather than anger herself over her situation or her feelings for the millionth time, she redirected her goals to two things:

1) Play and win Malfoy’s game. (Which included figuring out what his game was...)

2) Figure out what Voldemort truly wanted with her (and get the hell out before it was too late). She wasn’t sold on the ‘using her to draw the Incendiaries out’ concept considering everyone was likely dead. Voldemort was arrogant, but not stupid.

She had a strong feeling that she would have to complete the tasks in that order. She could do 1 without 2, but it wasn’t likely she could do 2 without 1.

She took stock of what she knew:

I am at Malfoy Manor. My friends are dead. There is still a group, known as the Incendiaries, that are fighting Voldemort’s reign. I’m most likely the only person left alive from the Order. Nagini is still alive - Voldemort’s last horcrux. That’s why Harry couldn’t defeat him. I don’t have a wand. Lucius is blind. Narcissa is dead. Draco is...? Playing a game. Right. I’m branded with a dragon from an unknown blood spell of some sort - likely dark magic, and I don’t know what it does.

Wait - I’m most likely the only person left alive from the Order, but why does that matter to Voldemort?

I’m the only one who knows of the Horcruxes. I’m the only one who knows Nagini is his last Horcrux. I’m the only one who knows how to kill Voldemort. That’s it.

But that didn’t explain everything - Why does it matter? There’s no reason he should keep me here rather than kill me if I am the only one who knows. If anyone else from the Order is still alive, what good is keeping me here?

She needed answers, and she knew she couldn’t find them in the library.

She had asked Malfoy why she was here, and his answer seemed confident but vague. Surely he knew more than he was letting on.

Malfoy was the answer.

Hermione would be starting a new game. One of her own creation. And what would she do? Play. To. Win. Screw his game.

Malfoy is a man, well, boy. Not very mature really. All men have a weakness. He is human, so he has to have one. But surely it isn’t as obvious as...no.

She argued with herself for a while, trying to decide the best plan of action to find out what she needed to know. She didn’t care about his game anymore, this was about hers.

Find his weakness, exploit it, find out what I need to know. If all else fails, I’ll look through his stuff. Actually, I’ll do both. Not like I have anything else to do.

Considering she didn’t see him very often, this would be hard to do. He was always in his office, and now that she wasn’t meeting with his father, she had no reason to see him at all. She’d have to make one.

She immediately began to make her way towards Malfoy’s study, knocked on the door, then walked in without waiting for a response.

Light was streaming into his office through the curtains, there was a cup of black coffee - not tea, on the desk in front of Malfoy. Interesting.

He looked up at her in shock but she spoke before he had the chance to say something snarky. “What am I expected to do with myself all day?”

He leaned back in his chair, twirling a quill between his fingers, “You’re a smart witch, Granger. I’m sure you can figure something out”, he said with a slight smirk.

“Well you won’t let me read to Lucius anymore, and it’s rather monotonous sitting in the library or dungeon all day alone”, she responded as she crossed her arms.

“So you want a babysitter? Want to spend time with me do you?“, he quirked a suggestive eyebrow, but she was prepared for this. She was learning his game.

“Maybe I do”, she watched his reaction intensely, looking for any sign of positive or negative feelings towards her response.

The expression dropped from his face but it twitched - faltered. There was something there he didn’t want her to see, but he hadn’t hid it quickly enough. I knew it.

“We have plenty of books to fill your obsession, go get one”, he said coldly. Oh, this was too easy. She smiled, nodded, then left for the library.

As soon as Hermione selected a new book for herself from Section N, she went straight back to Malfoy’s study. She walked in without knocking this time, closed the door behind her, and went to sit by the fire, facing him completely.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?“, he demanded, rising from his seat.

“I got a book”, she smiled devilishly. Too. Damn. Easy. “What’s wrong? Am I bothering you Malfoy? The Minister of Magic is that easily disturbed?”

He ground his teeth together, causing his jawline to tense against the skin. “Not in the slightest”, he said through his teeth.

Without another word, he went back to his seat and continued working. Hermione opened the book and began to read.

I can’t believe I forgot just how easy it was to get under Draco Malfoy’s skin.

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