A/N: Part of the Modal Realism in Practise series that has been written for the GE Malfoy Manor fic war. As always with this fic war, enormous thanks to my wonderful and ever patient beta, lwalters5 whose patience and turnaround time during this whole thing has just been astonishing. One week to go! I have been quite sick this week, so apologies if this isn't quite as 'complete' as some of the other entries, I'm determined to finish this with all six weeks in the bag!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respecitve owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended
The bright, shiny silver-white band shone from her ring finger, the light glinting off it in such a way that it was ever present in the corner of her eye. Eventually its mocking had her at her wits end and she shoved the hand in her pocket, and returned her attention to the goblin on the other side of the large conference table.
"I'm afraid you have no option. Magical law states that one third of any inherited wealth remaining in a father's account at the birth of a child, automatically is transferred to the vault of said child on their seventeenth birthday, or any time following in which they open their own vault." The goblin grimaced as his gaze fell on Scorpius, whose glare was icy enough to freeze even the hottest burning dragon breath.
"I do not, nor do I expect, any inheritance from Mister Malfoy. He may be my father by genetics, but he is in no way obliged to care for a man who is chronologically almost six years older than him!" Scorpius shot a glance towards Hermione and took a breath. "Not to mention the fact that my genetic mother is in no way expected to provide for me, despite her family's immense wealth. I fail to see why you cannot just block the transfer."
"It is law Mister Malfoy. I cannot change the law, it is my job to uphold the law, and I shall continue to maintain that we complete operations here at Gringotts to the letter of the law." He pushed his chair back and stood. "If we are quite finished here then I'm afraid I bid you good day. Might I suggest you take up this matter with the Ministry?"
Draco's voice carried over the sound of scraping chairs as the three of them moved to leave the meeting. "Can he not just transfer the funds back to our vault?"
"I'm afraid that would defeat the purpose of the law, Mister Malfoy."
Draco rolled his eyes as he tugged on his overcoat. "Oh, come on. He's been offered a very generous position with an advertising firm and has no need for a back up plan, so to speak." His eyes met Scorpius' as he spoke and he winked.
"And yet this does not change the intent of the inheritance, Mister Malfoy. Should the other Mister Malfoy here fall on hard times, the inheritance is here to help him get back on his feet."
Hermione sighed and collected her own blazer and purse. "Come along, boys. Gopluk is merely doing his job, I'm afraid if you expect this to be sorted in a timely manner then you shouldn't hold your breath." She glanced at Scorpius and narrowed her eyes. "Besides, it's not as if Draco and I don't have enough money without it."
Scorpius made a face and opened the door to the office, ushering his companions through. As Draco exited he smirked. "Advertising agency? Really?"
"Shut up." Draco grabbed his sleeve and tugged him through the door, pushing him to the front of their small group, and ushering him down the wide hallway. "Somehow I don't think Gopluk would have been very favourable towards your so called stock market speculation."
"Hey, a wizard's gotta take some benefits out of being tossed back in time to a slightly different universe."
"You are more than welcome to go back to your own."
"I thought we had settled this. I like it here. And Granger over here can't guarantee I'll end up back in the right place if I go back through." Hermione, who had managed to stride ahead, turned and glared at him, and he swallowed thickly.
"Well, this has been lovely my charming son, but I'm afraid I have to get back to the dungeons. You coming, babe?" Draco glanced at Hermione with raised eyebrows and gestured towards the grand doors at the far end of the Gringotts entrance.
"I'm going to head down to the vault and check out the wards on the inheritance, if Scorpius is okay with that." She glanced at the older man and raised her eyebrows. He nodded and reached into his pocket for his wallet.
"Sounds like a plan."
The trip down to Scorpius' vault wasn't a particularly long one, but it certainly left enough time for Hermione to contemplate the situation she had found herself in. The unexpected appearance of her husband's older son from a parallel universe certainly had thrown her for a loop, and his subsequent successful pursuit of her affections had left her feeling morally void.
Scorpius had shown little guilt over his adulterous actions, but Hermione knew that his refusal to accept the Ministry's inheritance law was borne of his transgressions rather than any inherent sense of honour. He may have had a few hot tips on the Muggle stock market from his time in a slightly skewed future, but that was by no means a guarantee that things would turn out the same in both universes, the nest egg would certainly be a convenient backup plan if things turned pear shaped. After all, the younger Malfoys didn't need it; they were independently wealthy of their own accord.
She had just started to consider what she was going to do with her current problems when they reached the vault. As it wasn't an inherited vault, it was only a few levels down, and Hermione was struck by the lack of security the shallower vaults were offered.
"Don't worry, I've taken the task of securing it into my own hands." Scorpius winked at her and she smiled wearily, lifting herself out of the car and onto the stone platform before the plain iron door. The goblin that had accompanied them inserted the key and the door swung open, revealing an enormous pile of gold.
She took a step forwards but was stopped by an outstretched arm. "Wait."
A series of complex wand movements and incantations later, he finally allowed her entry into the modestly sized room. She inched her way around the piles of Galleons, eventually making it to the back of the vault. Removing an ostentatious chalice from a glimmering silver podium, she climbed onto the surface gingerly. Lifting her arms, wand in hand she reached her mind out and felt for the enchantments surrounding the gold, fingers tingling and concepts dancing behind her closed eyelids. Eventually she opened her eyes and met those of Scorpius, a look of resignation crossing her features.
"I could break them, but it would be illegal."
He smiled wanly and moved to follow her path around the edge of the pile, but was thwarted when the vibrations from a nearby vault's door being slammed causing a small avalanche of Galleons. He sighed and clambered over the mountain of money, eventually sliding down the other side and landing at the base of the small plinth on which Hermione had previously been standing, but had now comfortably settled herself into a sitting position.
He leaned up against the cool metal and glanced up at her. She looked entirely serene, eyes once again closed and hands at rest gently on her pant clad thighs.
"Giving it back isn't going to make what we're doing any less deplorable, you know." He winced at her words and sighed.
"You should go back."
"I can't do that."
She sighed and slid from her seat, joining him on the ground. "We're two different people, you know. Me, and the Hermione from your world."
"I know." He turned towards her and ran a finger down her cheek and smiled boldly. "You're way better looking."
She ignored his impudence. "That Hermione. She's damaged."
Scorpius scratched his head. "You two are not so different, you know." She raised an eyebrow. "You just went through certain things earlier. Dating Weasley from a young age, Harry defeating Voldemort a year earlier... all they did was push you in the same direction faster."
She grunted and knocked her head gently against the plinth. "And for some reason I chose Sirius Black of all people to run off with?"
"Apparently he has some kind of rakish bad boy appeal with the ladies."
"And I'm guessing this is the appeal you think you have with the ladies?" She chuckled and nudged him in the ribs.
"Hey, you said it, not me."
She looked back at the sparkling pile of Galleons and squinted, the light from the torches shining in such a way that it was beginning to hurt her eyes. "Come on, let's get out of here. Keep the money, we don't need it, and I very much doubt Draco gives a nargles fart about it."
He leaned over and kissed her, lips landing firmly on hers, tugging her lower lip into his own mouth. She pulled away, hand having slid to his chest, softly clutching at his soft cashmere sweater.
"Please don't let this be over." His voice was soft and yet harsh, his coldness finally forced away by underlying emotion.
"I just need some time to sort my head out. Figure out what the fuck I'm doing with my life." She stood and clambered over the money, her landing at the base far more graceful than his own had been, and strode out of the vault. He heard her talking to the goblin outside the door and followed her, face relaxed into a neutral expression.
As far as Scorpius was concerned, it was game on.