A/N: Hey folks, and welcome back to another chapter of 'Accommodations'! Sorry for the many delays recently, but life's been busy, so not much time nor mental capacity for writing. :( Plus, this is a somewhat difficult scene for me, which doesn't exactly make writing it any easier nor quicker. Sorry for that. Thank you, so much, for sticking with me anyway! I truly appreciate it.
Monday, February 23rd, 1996
Life was good, Hermione decided. The professor and she had apparently been able to mend things that had been broken between them, hopefully enabling them to return to their previous kind of 'normal' in their interactions. His decision to send her to the store room for the rest of the lesson certainly implied as much.
With how happy Hermione was at The Quibbler posting Harry's interview with Skeeter, and with Umbridge's subsequent ban of said newspaper – thus making more than certain that everybody in the school would be getting their hands on the article –, she looked forward to whatever the professor might have in store for her (no pun intended).
The remainders of the previous Potions class's ingredients were sitting in the store room, waiting to be sorted. Hermione wasted no time in tackling that task. It was true, the professor would probably just do it all with a flick of his wand when he inevitably came to claim her, but it wouldn't do to just stand idly by and wait for that to happen. Besides, this gave her something to occupy her nervous hands with while waiting.
Hermione was facing the deep end of the store room when she heard the door open behind her back, quietly but not soundlessly. A smile split her face, but she did not turn around. If her actions slowed in anticipation of the professor's touch, she did not notice.
"Are you always this lacklustre when given clear instructions, Granger?" a familiar voice drawled.
Hermione twirled around in shock, urgently needing to face the wizard in the store room with her in order to see if his face matched the voice.
"Malfoy!" she exclaimed in surprise.
"I, for one, expected you to display more passion," he stated, "but then again, you are no better than any other Mudblood; too lazy to even complete the most menial of tasks satisfactorily. You are merely proving that there are no exceptions to the rule, after all; no matter how sure you are of yourself, Granger."
"I can complete any task satisfactorily," Hermione asserted. After a second's thought, she added, "Not that I need to prove that to you, Malfoy."
"See," he countered, "that is where you are wrong, Granger."
He casually strolled a step or two deeper into the store room, closer to her.
"This old babbling disgrace of a headmaster may have convinced you and your kind that you are in some way, in any way, equal to pureblood wizarding folk, but rest assured: no royalty would ever mix with mud."
Images of Lucius Malfoy claiming her body assaulted Hermione's mind. It was true, the Lord Governor had made a point of ascertaining that her body would not carry his child, but that did not mean that he was averse to mingling and mixing with her whenever he felt like it. Hermione might almost hope for Draco's statement to be true, if only it helped her to escape his father's clutches.
"I wouldn't be too certain about that, if I were you, Malfoy," she replied.
To her shock, Draco chuckled darkly, venturing another step closer.
"That is right," he agreed, "remind me again why I'm in here."
Hermione was confused.
"I have no idea why you would go to the store room in the middle of the period, Malfoy," she said. "Did you need anything?"
"No, no, Granger, you misunderstand me," he chuckled again. The sound caressed Hermione's spine in the same way a dementor would caress a foxglove. "You already have reminded me of why I came to the store room – to see that passion I expected from you, to see whether you can… perform to my satisfaction."
She did her best not to let her fear seep into her voice, calling about her all her Occlumency skills in order to mask her emotions. Hermione could not help the dread that travelled up her spine with every step that Draco Malfoy took further towards where she stood in the back of the too-small room.
"What are you talking about, Malfoy?" she asked.
"I am talking about teaching you to respect your betters," he began to explain, and was interrupted before he could continue.
After all, that was exactly the right thing to say to chase Hermione's fear away. Her ire was awakened, and her bravado rose right with it. She could not hold back all the sass pressing to come out to play, even if she'd wanted to.
"I do respect my betters, Malfoy," she corrected his assumption. "It is simply that I do not count you among them. One might assume that four years of continuously being beaten by me to becoming the best student of the year would help you understand that, but then again, if after four years of repeating the same lesson you still do not understand, then it should not surprise me why beating you is so easy in the first place."
Draco ignored her, as if she hadn't even spoken, much less interrupted him for several sentences.
"…and that begins with the correct address," he continued. "When you find yourself alone with me, you will be calling me Master Malfoy from now on."
Hermione half snorted, half scoffed, half choked on the combination of the two, and half wondered how many halves would be needed in order to make a whole lot of sense of this bullshit Draco was talking. She supposed there couldn't be enough halves in the world to accomplish that feat.
"'Master'?" she repeated, in equal parts amazed at his audacity, enraged at his presumptuousness, and humoured by his loss of grasp on all reality. "I am not stupid enough to call you that, unlike the buffoons you call your minions."
In the back of her mind, she wondered what was keeping the professor from joining her in the store room. Where was he? Why was he leaving her alone for so long? Surely he wouldn't be long now – would he?
Draco's face mirrored her smile, only that the temperature in his was glacial, lacking all humour that was so warmly displayed in her own expression, no matter how worried she was at this moment.
"Yes, yes," he agreed, "laugh while you still can, you filthy mudblood."
Another step had him intruding on Hermione's comfort zone, pressing in on her personal space. She knew she would have to keep him talking, would need to improvise, for whatever he was planning, it would not be good.
"It's no wonder, really, that Parkinson looks up to you, Malfoy," Hermione stated. "With how smashed in her face looks, there can't be much space left for anything worth being called a brain."
"Although," Hermione was desperately fishing for anything to say, "by that rule, Crabbe and Goyle should be geniuses, judging from the size of their heads."
And another step.
"It's obvious that they aren't, though," she continued, "so I suppose there is just too much of a body to go with their heads, and when contributing their mental capacity to their body mass, there just isn't enough of brain to go with their brawn."
A final step had his chest flush to hers. Her back was pressing into the shelves behind her. She did not remember stepping back from Malfoy's approach, but it appeared that he had successfully manoeuvred her into a corner.
"I wonder," he mused, in a deceptively gentle tone of voice, "when you will realize, Granger, that you are wandless, and, as if that wasn't enough, alone with a very, very angry wizard."
Hermione's eyes widened. The professor had sent her to sort through the ingredient leftovers without magic, so she had not thought to bring her wand. After all, she had assumed that Professor Snape would be joining her shortly, and she thus found herself thoroughly unprepared against an impending assault by a fellow student. Of course, she had been practicing her wandless magic relentlessly over the past few months, but to find herself face to face with a possible and very much unexpected foe, trapped without hope of escaping, made all her memories of the training she had undergone fly out the figurative window.
"You don't seem particularly angry," she said.
It was the only thing that came to mind for her to possibly say at this moment, in this situation. Hermione hated how small her voice sounded.
"You and I are both very much aware that Potter called my father a Death Eater in that little interview of his," Draco stated, the venom in his voice making her flinch. "This kind of slander can't go unpunished. Several of my mates agree with me on that. In fact, the only reason I am alone with you right now is because I wanted to punish you all by myself before handing you over to Crabbe and Goyle."
"Malfoy," Hermione stuttered, trying to find something, anything to say that would make him stop. The angry bulge in his pants spoke volumes about his intent. "Malfoy, I –"
"You – what? What, Granger?" he spat. "You didn't think the Slytherins would be the very first to notice that you're walking around like a common slag? Face painted in bright colours; hair sleeked down as if anyone would be able to forget that nightmare you call your mane; skirt shortened to an indecent length, even by Gryffindor skank standards? Displaying your assets to the world like a trumped up trollop? The funny thing is," he chuckled, and Hermione felt herself shrink even more, desperately attempting to merge into the shelves digging into her back, "that despite your worst efforts, nobody would agree to shag you. Your aura didn't change a single iota until Christmas break. You went home for the holidays, did you not? Did Daddy Muggle have to break you in, because the mean boys at magic school wouldn't touch a cheap muggle like you?"
"You sick –"
"I didn't even think to lower myself to using you, Granger, you know," Draco continued. Hermione felt beyond sick. "But seeing how you still haven't understood your place, I will bow to the necessity of teaching you a lesson. In fact, you should thank me."
"Draco," Hermione tried again, "please –"
"Oh, please me, you will, Granger," Malfoy stated. "But first you will thank me – and that's 'Master' to you."
Hermione found herself being forced to her knees. Looking up, she found Malfoy's expression to be empty, even though the underlying cruelty necessary to commit the act he was about to commit shone through.
"Now open up wide, Granger," he commanded, "and say 'Thank you'."
"Fuck you, Malfoy," Hermione spat. She almost choked on the sob that fought to escape with those three words.
"Make no doubt, Granger," Draco smiled, and not in a good way, while tugging open his robes, "I fully intend to do so."