Liitle introduction, because this is going to be a long fic ...
Basically, i wrote this in the summer and it has been sitting on my computer feeling very neglected for a long, while, so i thought it was high time i put it up - which is why everything is set in the summer holidays!
It can be a teeny WEEENY bit out-of-cannon in places, so consider yourselves warned here and dont go flaming telling me so. Also, like i said i wrote it in the summer, for my own amusement - it can go drabbly and fluffy in places too!!!
Also, i love reviews! =D
Draco Malfoy was bored. It was barely two weeks into the summer holidays and already he couldn't wait to get back to school, if only to escape the vast empty Manor. With his father in prison, his mother on holiday in Greece with some friends and only the simpering house-elves for company, Draco had taken to wondering the countryside around the Malfoy estate in Wiltshire.
He frowned to himself as he kicked a stone in his path, knowing that his aimlessness probably wasn't healthy. What he really felt he needed was some sort of intelligent conversation, an exchange where the other participant didn't cringe at his feet and call him 'Sir'. He had even been desperate enough to invite Greg and Vincent to the Manor (not that they would have really helped solve his problem of needing intelligent conversation) but were both on holiday, as was Pansy.
He had decided to stick to countryside paths and fields, not liking to walk though Muggle villages. The first time he had tried that a group of giggling girls about his own age had tried to talk to him. While it had been gratifying, he wasn't about to associate himself with that sort of Muggle filth.
Yet as he was walking beside a small lake he noticed a lone girl lying on a blanket, surrounded by books. She had her face slightly turned away so all he could see was wildly curly brown hair, but still Draco couldn't help but think that she was somehow familiar …
"Shit," he muttered to himself as he recognised the girl – there was only one person he knew who had hair like that.
He stared at her, unable to believe that prim book-worm Granger had been hiding a body like that under her robes, since she was sunbathing wearing a pale blue Muggle bikini (one of the few muggle inventions he could actually appreciate) with her clothes neatly folded beside her among the books.
As he stepped closer he was able to see the books around her – There were several books on villages in Wiltshire and lying to one side were two books that bore the titles A History of Magic and Magic in Muggle Settlements.
"Granger?" he asked uncertainly.
She was wearing big sunglasses so Draco couldn't see her eyes. He thought she might be asleep, since she didn't react as he spoke.
"Granger!" he repeated a little louder, now standing right above her.
Again, she didn't move, so he nudged her with the tip of his boot.
She jerked upright and stared at him in horror, instinctively grapping her t-shirt and holding it protectively in front of her. "Malfoy?"
"So it is you, Granger," he drawled, not knowing if he was pleased or disappointed.
She whipped off her sunglasses, revealing her dark brown eyes as she pulled her wand out of her pile of clothes and pointed it up at him. "What the hell are you doing here, Malfoy? Are you stalking me?"
He snorted in disgust. "Don't be ridiculous, Mudblood, I only stalk what I want to catch." A part of him couldn't stop a small smile – he had missed fighting with someone, it was so much more engaging than simply giving orders to cringing house-elves.
"Good, then go away."
"Temper temper, Granger," he admonished her. "Now what are you doing here?"
"You didn't answer my question," she said, pulling her t-shirt over her bikini.
"You didn't answer mine."
She glared at him for a minute. "I live around here."
"You do? Where?"
"Bulkington," she said warily, naming the nearest village, which happened to be within a few miles of the Manor. "And now, what are you doing here?"
"I happen to live near here too, Granger."
"How wonderful, let's hope we never run into each other again," she said bitingly. "Now go away and leave me alone."
She lay back down in what she clearly thought was a dismissive way, but Draco noticed the weird white things coming out of her ears and cursed, not knowing what they were. With his quick Seeker reflexes he jumped forward and pulled them out of her ears.
She sat up suddenly. "What the hell is your problem, Malfoy?" she yelled indigently as he examined the strange white things cautiously, which had odd little circles on the tips.
"You had worms coming out your ears!" he told her, holding the creatures gingerly away from himself as he showed her them.
"It's called an i-pod, Malfoy, and I will thank you not to yank my head phones out of my ears," she said, snatching them back.
"What is an … i-pod?" he asked, still kneeling down beside her. Wordlessly she held up a shiny, blue metal rectangle which the worms were coming out of as her explanation. "And what is that?" he asked when she didn't elaborate further.
She sighed gustily. "It's a Muggle device that plays music."
"I thought Muggles listened to music on radios, like we do, but with Muggle stations?" he said, sitting crossed-legged so he was more comfortable.
"This plays my music."
"You compose?" he asked, impressed despite himself.
"I upload," she replied frostily.
"And what does that mean?" he asked confusedly.
"It means," she said with obviously forced patience, "that this plays only the music that I like."
"But how can that tiny thing play music?"
"Oh, just listen to it," she said irritably, holding it out to him.
He took it cautiously and held the blue thing up to his ear for a moment. "I can't hear anything, its stupid Muggle rubbish."
Granger looked like she was fighting back a laugh. "You have to put the headphones in your ears."
"And these things are the headphones?" he asked, indicating the white cords.
"Yeah, you just put this end bit here in your ear, like this," she said, demonstrating with one of the two wires.
He did as she instructed and was amazed to hear music straight in his head. He took the headphone out and the music stopped, only to start again when he put it back in.
"Not impressed with a Muggle device, are you Malfoy?" she asked slyly.
"No," he said vehemently. "I was just curious."
They were silent for a minute as Draco listened to the woman singing. "Who is this?" he said eventually, indicating the i-pod.
Granger looked at the screen. "Kelly Clarkson"
How many songs are there on here?" he wanted to know.
"Really? How can you listen to them all?"
"Well what I listen to depends on my mood."
Not quite understanding what she meant, Draco frowned down at the little screen.
Mistaking his expression, Granger plucked the i-pod out of his hands. "If you don't like the song you can listen to another one," she said, twirling her finger around the white circle below the screen. "Here, try that."
The new song was fast and up beat, with much harsher instruments. It was a man singing, or rather shouting, and some of the words were fairly suggestive. Draco smirked, surprised that prim Hermione Granger would listen to such a thing.
"Who is this?"
"'Panic at the Disco'," she said. "I figured they were more your thing."
He couldn't help but agree, enjoying the faster rhythm and drums much more than the other singing woman.
"What's a disco?" he couldn't help but ask.
"Erm … it's where Muggles go to dance."
"And why are people panicking?"
"It's just a band name, Malfoy!" she exclaimed, seemingly torn between annoyance and amusement. "Look at it this way, there is no one called Weird Sister in the Weird Sisters."
Not liking her condescending attitude, he decided to change the subject, glancing around at the books. "What were you doing?"
"Oh, I was working on the History of Magic project for Binns."
"Really?" he said slyly. "It looked like you were sunbathing to me. Not having trouble with your work were you now, Granger?"
"I was just having a break!"
"Well if its any consolation for you, I've already finished mine," he said truthfully, having completed the project their ghost teacher had set the entire year, which was to write about magical events that had happened in your local area, within the first week of the holidays.
Grangers' mouth fell open. "But where did you find the -" She abruptly closed her mouth and looked out over the tiny lake.
Draco laughed as he lay back against her blanket. He was feeling quite proud of himself for figuring out how to change the song that was still playing in his ears, simply by pressing the side of the wheel. "So that's what's wrong, you haven't been able to find anything."
"I'm still in the process of researching," she said through gritted teeth.
"No Hogwarts Library for the little bookworm to run to now is there?" he taunted. "The know-it-all doesn't know something, so she's given up."
"I haven't given up!" she said hotly. "I said that I am still researching."
"I happen to know that there is nothing on Wiltshire in the History of Magic textbook – believe me, I checked - and I doubt there is much in your other book either, so how exactly are you researching?"
"I'm using Muggle books," she said, a note of pride entering her voice. "Several of them mention local myths throughout the ages, so I am basing my project on an investigation to see which myths have factual basis in the magical world."
"That'll never do, Granger," he told her, shaking his head as he changed the song again. "You know full well that Binns hates myths."
"And what would you suggest?" she snapped.
"I suggest that you unbend your pride and ask me where I found my information," he grinned at her, enjoying himself immensely.
Granger clenched her jaw and looked like she was biting her tongue. Finally she said in a falsely sweet voice, "Where did you find your information, Malfoy?"
"The library at Malfoy Manor," he said nonchalantly, watching the frustration in her eyes. He wasn't sure why he was teasing her – manipulating her into asking to come to the manor just to continue a conversation wasn't the same as simply messing with her.
"Come on, Granger," he prompted her playfully. "You know what to ask next."
"May I – please - borrow some books from your library?" she asked aggrievedly, each word coming out with great difficulty.
He pretended to consider it. "What's in it for me?"
"What do you mean?" she said guardedly.
"Well, if I do the highly charitable thing of lending you books, what do I get in return?"
"I don't think you understand the meaning of the word 'charitable' if you think you get something out of it," she muttered under her breath.
"Come on, Mudblood," he said lazily, spreading himself out over her blanket. "What will you do for me?"
She bit her lip and he wondered why that momentarily distracted him. "How about I help you with the Potions essay?"
"I've already finished half of it. And besides, I happen to be good at Potions so I certainly don't require your help."
"What do you want, then?"
He looked at her, letting his eyes run up and down her body. What he really wanted was someone to talk to that wasn't a house-elf – he didn't even mind arguing, even with a filthy Mudblood, just as long as the conversation was engaging.
"How about a favour?" he put to her. "I'm doing you one by lending you the books, so you do me one in return."
"What kind of favour?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.
"Hmm, streaking through the Great Hall has its merits … or maybe making you cheer for Slytherin at our next match against Gryffindor …"
"Not going to happen, Malfoy."
"Its called sarcasm, Mudblood – ever heard of it?"
Granger simply glared at him.
"Tell you what; let's just keep it between us. I'll make you do something just for me."
"No way, you pervert!" she shrieked, disgusted.
"Mind out of the gutter, Granger and don't be so revolting – what I meant was I will get you to do something like … I don't know …"
"Well, I'll tell you now, I am not doing anything that will hurt others or that is potentially damaging to me."
"Honestly, I'm not that much of a prick," he said, rolling his eyes at her. "No … I want you to have dinner at the manor."
"You heard me.
He quirked an eyebrow at her. "Because it will amuse me," he said dryly.
She scrutinised him for a few seconds, no doubt trying to figure out his motives. "I want you to promise I won't be hurt."
"I swear on the honour of my house and family," he said, smirking.
She nodded slowly. "Fine, I'll do it – but not tonight, I already have plans with my family."
"So, do we have an agreement?"
"Okay," she said after only a brief hesitation. She held out her hand towards him to shake.
"Think I would want to shake your hand, Mudblood?" he drawled as he climbed to his feet. She looked up at him and he thought he saw a flash of hurt in her eyes before her expression turned unreadable.
"But you -"
"Chop chop, Granger," he said. "Let's go and get the books."
"You got anything better to do?"
"Err, no not really -"
"Then let's go."
Still looking slightly stunned, she piled her books together and started packing up her things. Draco waited as she wiggled into her denim shorts and rolled up her blanket, packing everything into a small backpack.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Good, come on then," he said as he strode away with her i-pod still plugged into his ears.
"Why are you doing this? Why are you being nice to me – well, sort of?" she asked bluntly, jogging to catch up with his long strides.
He spun around, Grangers nose practically banging into his chest as he stopped abruptly. "Let's get one thing straight right now," he said firmly. "I am not being nice to you."
Her chin jerked up slightly. "I think lending me books and inviting me to dinner counts as being nice."
"No, it doesn't. We made a deal and that counts as being civil to another member of the Wizarding community – not that you really even fit into that."
He turned dismissively away from her and started walking again.
"And what about your parents?" she called after him. "Surely they wouldn't want you bringing such an inferior creature to the house."
"Merlin Granger, I thought you were supposed to be intelligent – surely you know that my Father is in Azkaban?" he said, dodging the question.
She rolled her eyes. "And what about your Mother?"
"So you're on your own?"
"What's it to you?"
"Just curious," she said, but he noticed her wary expression and snorted in disgust.
"Don't fret Granger, I'm not luring you back to my house so I can pounce on you or anything like that. As if I would want to – filthy Mudblood."
She didn't rise to his bait and insult him back, choosing instead to raise her chin in the air and keep walking. They were silent for a while, until Draco looked confusedly down at the i-pod.
"Why has the music stopped?"
Granger leaned over and examined the screen before taking it out of his hands and whirling her finger around the dial. "You reached the end of the album. Here, try this."
Draco liked the new band, My Chemical Romance, better than the first and was soon nodding his head to the rhythm, paying no attention to Granger as they walked in silence.
"How far away is your house, anyway?" she asked after a while.
"You see that line of hedges over there?" he said, pointing forwards. "That's where the grounds start and after that it's another mile or so up to the main house."
She nodded to herself and pulled an odd silver contraption out of her pocket and pressed the buttons. She continued this for several moments, decisively ignoring him until his curiosity got the better of him.
"What stupid Muggle thing are you using now?" he asked, hiding his interest with scorn.
"It's a phone."
"Don't you have to talk into phones?"
"They can also send messages, like mini letters – its called texting."
"Why not use an owl?"
"Do you see any owls around here, Malfoy?"
"Who are you … texting? Potter? Are you telling him that you've been kidnapped by the big bad Slytherin Prince?"
She looked at him coldly. "My mother, telling her I will be home later than I thought."
"I bet you added where you would be though, didn't you?"
"Of course I did," she said unashamedly. "I don't trust you."
"Good, you shouldn't."
The gates of the Malfoy estate were huge and imposing, made of wrought iron and flanked by tall hedges. Hermione stared up at them as they approached, wondering what she had gotten herself into and if it was worth it simply for a few books – then again this project did partially count towards their final grades, and she wasn't going to fail simply because she had been to nervous to pass up a research opportunity.
Instead of pulling out a key, like she expected, he grabbed her upper arm wordlessly and marched her through the gate as if it was no more substantial than smoke. She felt the magic of the wards rush through her body, and understood that Malfoy's touch was stopping them from attacking her. He let go of her the moment they were through, much to her relief.
She couldn't help a gasp as she saw the huge gothic manor house in the distance. It had to be at least half the size of Hogwarts castle and was made entirely out of handsome, pearly grey stone that contrasted artistically with the sloping lawns. Yet despite its beauty the vast house with its arched windows, criss-crossed with diamond shaped panels, exuded a sense of emptiness.
"Like it?" Malfoy smirked as he noticed her stunned expression.
"I think it's the second most beautiful building I have ever seen," she said honestly since there was something oddly mesmerising about the sight.
"I agree," he replied, shocking her slightly. He caught her sideways glance and continued, "Hogwarts is better, don't you think?"
"That's exactly what I was thinking."
They made their way slowly up the long driveway as Hermione admired the house. The lawns were manicured and flawless, interspersed with various fountains and flowerbeds, though in the distance she could see the grounds dissolving into wild groves of trees and forest.
She couldn't help but wonder why Malfoy had invited her back, and made their agreement about her coming for dinner. After hearing about his parents absence she had come to the conclusion that he must simply be lonely, craving the company of other Wizards and Witches – even if they were muggleborns.
After several minutes walking they ascended the steps to the front of the manor and Malfoy pushed open the door, which was unlocked.
The entryway was huge and spacious, stone floor covered in rich rugs. The main colour theme seemed to be green and silver, making Hermione smirk. There was a huge staircase to one side which Malfoy was halfway up before he realised she wasn't following and called her name.
"Honestly Granger, stop gawking and hurry up!"
The hallways were wide and full of light from the hundreds of windows. The walls were covered in portraits of smiling people, and she wondered if they would still be smiling if they knew she was a Muggleborn. Judging by the way they waved and greeted her, they assumed that anyone a Malfoy bought home would be pure-blooded. She guessed that they were mostly portraits of Malfoy's family since they shared his white blond hair, and she couldn't help but notice that they were all extremely beautiful.
"You know, I think you might have some Veela in you," she told him as a woman with a sheet of silvery blonde hair, which somehow seemed to ripple with light even in the paint, smiled at her.
Malfoy turned around, looking highly amused as he walked backwards down the hall. "I do."
"The Malfoy line is the only pure-blooded family to have Veela blood. It's what makes me so stunningly attractive," and then he actually winked at her.
"Right," she said sceptically. "So what does that involve, having Veela blood?"
He shrugged and spun around, walking normally side by side again. "No idea, I don't know if I have the dominant gene."
"How would you find out?"
"If I go crazy on my seventeenth birthday and start looking for a mate it's generally a pretty strong indication that I do have the genes."
There was a brief pause.
"Are you being serious?"
"Uh huh," he said.
"When is your birthday?"
"September," he replied, absentmindedly rolling up the sleeves of his shirt – she couldn't help glancing at his forearms, and was relieved not to see the Dark Mark. It was odd to see him in Muggle clothing, though the dark jeans and a plain white shirt that he was wearing were obviously from designer origin.
"What did you mean by 'look for a mate'?"
He looked over at her and smirked. "Well well well, don't tell me know-it-all Miss Mudblood doesn't know something," he drawled. "I thought you would have thought that you would have come across Veelas in all of your obsessive reading."
"Well I know that they normally have one mate, and that they stay faithful," she retorted, struggling not to let his superior tone get to her. "But what I really wanted to know was how they actually find them."
She blinked at him. "Well you seem very well informed, considering it might actually happen to you," she said sarcastically.
"Whatever, Granger," he drawled as he pushed open a set of highly polished double wooden doors. "Besides, this is what you were really interested in, wasn't it?"
The room was spacious, with a high ceiling and was full of light from the huge windows. There were hundreds of rows of shelves, all of them covered in the largest collection of books she had ever seen outside of Hogwarts.
She followed Malfoy through the Library, trailing her fingertips lightly over the lacquered wood of the bookshelves. He led her to a secluded corner, with a small round table that was scattered with books.
"There, those are the books I used – you're lucky I didn't put them away or you would be looking for them yourself."
Hermione wasn't paying attention though, having noticed a painting hanging at the far end of the Library. It was two children playing, and one of them was obviously Draco. The other child was a girl with the same blonde hair that fell into loose, angelic ringlets. They were laughing happily together as they played around on a huge, painted green lawn.
"Who is she?" Hermione asked quietly, her eyes on the painting.
Malfoy turned around and stiffened as he saw what she was looking at, a dark shadow seeming to pass over his features.
"Malfoy, I don't -"
"I said she is nobody, alright Mudblood?" he snarled at her, his grey eyes flashing dangerously.
Taken back, she simply stared back at him as he glowered at her. She didn't like to admit it, even to herself, but the fury in his stormy eyes made her feel a little frightened. After a long moment his anger subsided, and he looked more vulnerable than she had ever seen him.
"She's my sister," he said in a soft voice.
"I didn't know you had a sister," she said cautiously, not wanting to anger him again.
"I don't." He was looking out of one of the big windows, though his eyes were curiously empty and dead looking – a haunted expression.
"What happened to her?"
"What do you think happened to her?" he demanded, his head whipping around like a dog catching a scent.
When Hermione didn't answer he stepped closer, his eyes now blazing. "Don't ask questions you don't want answered, Mudblood, because I assure you if you ask, I will spare you no detail. Now, do you really want to know what happened to my dear sister?"
She shook her head mutely.
"Wise choice, Granger," he said, his eyes emotionless again. He looked down at the table and then ran his fingers though his hair, leaving it dishevelled. "Look through the books and decide which ones you want to borrow, then come and find me, alright?"
Without waiting for a reply, he turned around and started walking out of the Library.
"What was her name?" she asked his retreating figure.
He paused, and she thought she heard him sigh wistfully. "Lyra," he murmured without looking back.
And with that, he left.
It took Hermione nearly twenty minutes to sort her way through the books that had been meticulously piled on the table since her eyes were constantly drawn to the picture of the children. She didn't want to think about what could have possibly happened to that innocent looking girl to bring out such a strong reaction in emotionless, unshakable Malfoy – the ice cold Slytherin prince.
She had eventually divided the books into three piles; the ones she wanted, the ones she needed and the ones she needed but couldn't carry.
Frustrated, but still much happier with her History of Magic project than she had been before, she headed to find Malfoy, gazing longingly over her shoulder at the Library behind her. She had wanted to explore further, but had decided not to without permission – after all, who knew what kind of books could be hidden in the Malfoy family Library.
She paused at the door, wondering where exactly she should start searching in this huge monstrosity of a house. She wandered down a corridor, trying to make her way back to the huge entryway they had come though earlier, but soon realised that she was thoroughly lost.
"Excuse me?" she asked one of the portraits, a kindly looking old man who turned around and smiled at her as she spoke.
"How may I help you, young lady?" the portrait said politely.
"I'm looking for Mal – I mean, Draco. Do you know where he is?"
"I think he went to the ballroom," he replied while Hermione gaped – they have a ballroom? Then again, she wasn't really surprised, considering the size of this place.
"Could you tell me how …?"
"How to get there? Certainly, of course – you simply follow this corridor and then take the left turning towards the west wing. The other pictures will help you if you cannot find it," he said kindly.
"Thank you very much." She smiled at the portrait and he waved back – apparently not all Malfoy's were bad, just as long as they didn't know you were muggleborn.
Following his advice, Hermione made her way down the ornate hallways. As she walked soft music begun to reach her ears. She stopped to listen to it, and realised it was a piano being played with undeniable skill. Moving closer to the sound, she identified the tune as some sort of melancholy waltz, though it was not one that she had heard before.
Locating the door through which the music was coming through, she pressed her ear against it. After listening for a minute she pushed it open and gasped to find herself in a huge, fairytale-esque ballroom complete with a sparking chandelier and a small podium upon which rested a beautiful grand piano that Malfoy was playing.
He hadn't noticed her at first, his grey eyes focused on the keys as his long, pale fingers flew over them. As he played he didn't look arrogant or conceited, instead he was seemed serious and somehow older than he was.
He bought the music to a gentle stop and raised his gaze to her. For a long moment he simply held her gaze, but then a slow smirk spread across is face.
"About bloody time, Mudblood."
"Malfoy," she retorted coldly, any illusion of him being anything other than a prat shattering with his drawling voice. She walked towards the piano, the books balanced in her hands. "I didn't know you could play the piano."
"There's a lot that you don't know about me, Granger, and I would prefer to keep it that way."
She placed her books on top of the piano next to her i-pod, which he had obviously left there and lightly pressed down a single key, filling the room with a clear, high note that slowly faded.
"Do you play?" Malfoy asked suddenly, avoiding her eyes.
"Thought we weren't finding out things about each other?" Hermione said, raising an eyebrow.
"We aren't," he muttered.
"I can play Chopsticks."
"What the hell is Chopsticks, Granger?" Malfoy asked, looking at her like she was crazy.
She gestured for him to move over, which he did reluctantly and joined him on the piano stool. Holding both hands over the keys, she began to play Chopsticks using only her index fingers.
Malfoy started to laugh, not a sneer or a snigger, but a true, genuine laugh as he joined her in the harmony line. "Honestly Granger, who can't play the Chop Waltz?"
She sighed. "I thought you might not be able to, since it's a muggle piece."
"A lot of the time muggles are the best composers," he said, surprising her.
"You really think so?"
"Yeah, Wizards tend to try and be too clever – adding stupid noises and ridiculous chords, claiming that it all means something if you use an Arithmancy equation on the notes, but muggles just go for whatever sounds best," he said as they drew the duet to a close.
"I should go," she said as the last notes faded.
"Is that all you need?" he asked, indicating the pile of books.
"No, but it's all I could carry."
Malfoy shrugged and wordlessly stood up, leading her out of a glass door and into the gardens. There was a small, shaded patio with wrought iron chairs and table painted a faded white and a swing seat half obscured by climbing white roses with half blown blooms.
A low slithering noise made her look up, and she jumped backwards as she saw a gigantic snake hanging down from one of the trees, its beady eyes fixed on her as its tongue flickered.
"Something wrong?" Malfoy asked amusedly, having noticed the direction of her stare.
"You have a pet snake?" She laughed shakily, steadily recovering from the shock and took a step closer to examine the snake. It had to be over twelve feet long and its scaly skin was splotched green and brown.
"Yeah …" he said, looking at her funnily. "You … you're not afraid of him?"
She gave him a patronising look. "You seem to forget that I was petrified by a basilisk at the tender age of twelve, - so no, I am not afraid of this little worm."
He snickered. "Pansy was. She ran in the house and refused to come out for ages."
"I'm not surprised, it is pretty big."
"Him, Granger, not it," he said reproachfully.
"Sorry, what's his name?"
Malfoy suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Well, bear in mind I got him when I was only five," he said.
Hermione started to smile at his embarrassment. "What's his name?" she repeated.
He sighed. "Hissy."
"Hissy," he said, nodding sombrely.
She grinned at him. "My, you were an imaginative child."
"Living around here, I had to be."
"How are you going to get home?" Draco asked as he walked Granger to the driveway. "Did you want to use the Floo?"
"In case you've forgotten, I live in a muggle house that isn't connected to the Floo network," she reminded him. "I'll just walk."
Draco sighed. "I'll get my broom."
"Didn't you hear me? I said I would walk."
"I heard you, but I chose not to pay attention. You can't walk the five or so miles to the village with a stack of books."
"I can. I'll be fine, it's not that far," she insisted. "Besides, you can't fly a broom to a muggle village."
"It's a new model of broomstick, has a built in invisibility charm – unfortunately it's against the rules for Quidditch, but it's handy for transport."
She bit her lip. "I would really rather walk."
Draco rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers. Immediately a house-elf appeared at his feet wearing a tea-towel stamped with the Malfoy crest.
"Yes Master Draco?" the elf asked with a low bow.
"Bring me my broomstick," he ordered, and the elf disapparated with a loud crack, only to reappear two seconds later.
"Anything else Master Draco?" the house-elf asked, proffering the broom.
"No, you're dismissed."
The elf bowed once again to him, and then to Granger before disapparating again.
He mounted the broom and looked over at Granger, who was eyeing it apprehensively.
"Well get on," he said impatiently.
"I honestly don't mind walking," she said hesitantly.
He stared at her incredulously for a long moment, and then burst out laughing. "You're afraid of flying!"
"I am not!" she exclaimed, though her face flushed an appealing red.
"I can't believe that Miss Mudblood, the all knowing Hermione Granger and big brave Gryffindor lioness is afraid of flying," he taunted. "How can you be scared of a broomstick and not a huge snake?"
"I am not afraid," she said thorough gritted teeth.
"Prove it," he challenged, grinning.
Left with no other option she got on the back of his broom behind him with bad grace, muttering something about 'stubborn Slytherins'. She had her bag on her back, so Draco took the stack of books and balanced them on his knees – he was competent enough to fly one handed and keep the other on top of the books to stop them falling.
"Better hold on tight, Mudblood," he said over his shoulder, kicking off hard from the ground.
He heard Granger gasp as they shot in the air, her arms wrapping tight around him as she held on for dear life.
Deciding to have some fun, he accelerated as fast as the broom would allow, shooting over the green lawns of the grounds. She moaned behind him, her small hands bunched in the material of his t-shirt. He laughed as he turned the broom upside down, letting the wind blow through his hair.
"Don't do that!" Granger said from behind him as he rightened the broom.
"What, this?" he shouted back, pulling the broom into a loop-de-loop.
She buried her face in the back of his t-shirt and didn't reply.
Seeing her village in the distance, he bought the broom into a steep, yet perfectly controlled dive. As they rocketed towards the ground Granger shrieked, "Draco, stop!"
Chuckling, he levelled them out about two meters above the ground on the outskirts of the village, and it was only then that he realised she had called him Draco and not Malfoy.
"Where is your house?"
"That way," she said, pointing with a shaking finger.
Following her directions, he landed the broom in the back garden of a tiny white cottage with a thatched roof. There were tiny shuttered windows painted a faded blue and honeysuckle clinging to the side of the house.
"Nice house," he said honestly, thinking it was much more homely than the manor.
Granger ignored his comment, scrambling off the back of his broom. "I am never flying with you ever again," she said, though her voice still shook.
"Come on, it wasn't that bad," he teased.
"Goodbye Malfoy," she said acidly.
With his lightening quick Seeker reflexes Draco's hand flashed out and plucked the small silver device from the pocket of her shorts as she leaned forward to grab the books.
"See you again soon, Granger," he said, putting the muggle object, the 'phone', she had called it, in one of his pockets without her noticing.
"Whatever Malfoy," she said moodily, glaring at him. "I'll return these in a few days."
She turned around and headed towards the little house without a backward glanced, the books stacked precariously in her arms. Draco smirked at her back, knowing he would see her that sooner than that when he 'returned' the phone she had accidentally left in his house.
"'Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends,'" he quoted to himself, smiling as he kicked off from the ground and raised the broom into the air.