Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
Where Reason Fails
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out. Sydney Smith (1771-1845)
The room was stiflingly hot. All the windows were shut tight and a fire was roaring in the grate, its flames licking the once-white marble fireplace and staining it black with soot and smoke. Despite this, Lucius Malfoy was reclining on a chaise longue, wrapped up under three blankets and a travelling cloak as though it were a bitter winter's night and the windows were wide open, letting in an icy draft.
Frankly, it was not at all what Hermione had been expecting.
Lucius put the glass of wine he had been drinking down on a table next to him, then flicked a stray piece of ash out of his hair before so much as acknowledging Hermione's presence. He glared straight at her and the iciness of his grey eyes made the stuffy room suddenly feel unpleasantly cold.
"How nice to see that you're on time." Lucius' tone seemed perfectly polite, but the sneer on his lips and the annoyance in his eyes were more than enough to tell Hermione that she was not welcome. Unfortunately for Hermione the feeling was mutual, but Harry had asked her to do this as a favour, and for once she thought that he was right. After all, had Harry or Ron been the one to come here and attempt to reason with Lucius Malfoy… She shuddered at the thought.
"Are you intending to waste yet more of my time by just standing gawping in the doorway?" Lucius asked, raising an eyebrow. He sat up, casting the blankets aside, then moved himself to an armchair closer to the fire. Hermione took this as her cue to actually enter the room: she walked swiftly over to Lucius and sat herself down opposite him.
"I trust that you know why I'm here, Mr. Malfoy," Hermione said, surprised by the politeness of her own voice. "Thank you for taking the time to see me."
"Drop that stupid tone, girl," Lucius snapped, his patience already worn away. "You and I both know that it's not like I have any choice in the matter."
Hermione felt her temper rising to match the heat in the room. "You do have a choice. You could just go straight to Azkaban, because you know very well that that will be where you end up if you don't start co-operating."
"I fail to see why your friend Potter is so interested in keeping a family of Death Eaters out of Azkaban," Lucius drawled. Hermione flinched. "I fail to see what disturbs you so much. Is it the heat? Or is it the fact that you're playing a part in keeping a family of known dark wizards out of Azkaban just so your friend can settle a life debt?"
Hermione felt her cheeks flush with rage, but she still maintained eye contact. She was not going to let him annoy her further.
"All you have to do is repent," Hermione said. "Then the Wizengamot will have reason to believe that you honestly have changed, and you'll walk free and Harry will have paid off his debt."
"You've failed to consider one important thing, Miss Granger," Lucius hissed, a malicious smile on his face. Finally it hit Hermione that this truly was Lucius Malfoy, the man who had given Ginny that accursed diary when she was only eleven years old, the Death Eater who had killed countless people and ruined impossible numbers of lives. "Perhaps I would rather go back to Azkaban than live in a world run by the likes of you." He shivered (it was barely perceptible but it was there) and Hermione noticed him inching closer to the fire; he was lying. He was wrapping himself in this heat because he still feared having to return to the cold cells of Azkaban.
"Then just pretend," Hermione sighed, knowing that even she could not win over this madman: for that's what he was – the last shreds of his sanity had been taken by the Dementors long before Voldemort truly returned to power. One could not reason with prejudice, merely try to work around it. "Harry owes your wife a life debt, and if all she wants is for you all to stay out of Azkaban, then we'll have to do as much as possible to keep you free."
No matter how much I think you deserve to be there, she thought. But that didn't matter; they both knew that Lucius Malfoy would somehow wriggle his way out of the situation. He always had before. No matter what he said, he would have preferred to live in a world run by muggleborns than to lose the remainder of his soul to Azkaban.
"Thank you for your time, Miss Granger," Lucius said. The sharpness of his tone was enough to tell her that she was no longer needed. Anyway, she had done what she had been sent for – the Malfoys would unfairly walk free from the war, but if that's what Harry had to do to repay his life debt, then that's what had to be done.
Sometimes Hermione Granger questioned the wizarding world's sense of justice.