Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Nik & Aivy
The next morning, I opened my eyes as usual at six in the morning but my brain wasn't awake yet.
Everything that had happened, in all its inconceivable impossibility, really took it out of me. I felt Draco's naked, familiar body pressing close to mine. I didn't even know what had happened when I returned to Draco. I had been so exhausted, and after what had happened the last few days it was no wonder. The arrival at the Manor and the encounter with Lucius had affected me to the bone, thus we had just gone to bed quickly without talking - or rather fallen, in my case - and Draco had held me, which had been exactly what I needed; his closeness, without requirements, just that he gave me his constant comfort.
Exhausted and tired, I had fallen asleep surrounded by his strong arms, sleeping as well and dreamlessly as I hadn't slept for a long time. It felt good not to think for once.
Only now, in Draco’s comforting presence, did I allow myself to become doubly aware of the loss of my parents, which I hadn’t permitted myself to do before. But here, I could afford this vulnerability.
Precisely because of the realisation that I had lost something forever, I wanted to live, to feel, and it was a goddess-sent opportunity that Draco not only enjoyed my closeness but felt aroused by it, as evidenced by his big, hard excitement pressing tightly against my bottom.The sensation made me smile.
I didn't know if he was still asleep or just slumbering, but I began to circle my pelvis provocatively and rubbed myself demandingly firmly against his bulging cock. His arousal was still growing and that also increased mine. Inside me, my muscles already clenched together in anticipation. It was too long ago that I felt him last.
He accepted the invitation in a sudden movement by reciprocating the pressure. Also, his hands began to caress my hips and my breasts, grazing my hardening nubs. He began to rub against me in a teasing way, and I heard him moan lowly.
It was fortunate that we hadn't bothered to put on any sleepwear yesterday, but had merely dropped into bed naked, enabling me to feel his warm skin on mine and his chest pressing against my back demandingly without any clothes getting in the way. After he had brushed my sleep-tangled hair to the side, he nuzzled my neck passionately and peppered it with small kisses, bites and swipes of his tongue.
I moaned wantonly; this was an excellent way to start the morning. There was only my body and the feeling of being alive. There was no place for thoughts; I felt nothing but my desire. With precision, he let his finger slide to my pleasure centre, slipping gently between my labia, which were already slightly wet, and now gave his loving attention to my clitoris. I buried my face in the pillow and gave myself over to the intoxicating feeling.
Suddenly, I felt him gently bite into my shoulder, which made me growl. He then moved on to playfully nibbling my neck to tease the sensitive skin there, and I gasped, willingly spreading myself out for him because I was more than ready. I noticed him pulling his hands back to open me up and slowly, bit by bit, he brought his full erection into me.
He slid deeper and deeper, and I moaned quietly and tried to keep still, although I almost couldn't because of the way he filled me just felt too good. When he sheathed himself with a courageous thrust to the base, he dug his hands firmly into my flesh at the hip to be able to move within me. A sharp scream escaped from me, which I muffled with the cushion.
He continued pounding me possessively, driving me almost to insanity with his slow, rocking, deep movements. I couldn't counter him much in this sideways position, so I just arched my back demandingly, and as he increased the pace, he bit harder and harder into my neck and this erogenous zone of mine let me almost see stars when I pinched my eyes with pleasure and felt his teeth in my skin.
He increased his speed pleasurably, and I let myself drift, caught every thrust with my pelvis and my muscles contracted rhythmically. It was a contemplative love play, which was very well suited to my mood. When I couldn't stand this permanent penetration any longer, and my climax couldn't be stopped anymore, everything in me tensed up. I threw myself even more into an arch and came up with a loud, releasing cry.
I felt Draco thrust hard once more and come deep inside me. He too, could no longer hold back his cry of pleasure and buried his face in my hair after this overwhelming orgasm. Relishing in the afterglow, we let the ebbing waves of the climax fade away. Still united, we slowly regained our breath.
Draco kissed my shoulder when he slipped out of me, then went wordlessly into the bathroom and I rolled myself on my back. Now that my lust was satisfied, my oh-so-great brain began to rattle again, and I remembered Draco's brilliant performance yesterday. How he had exposed me in front of Lucius and Sev... Snape in such a humiliating way. Already the bitter feeling rose again regarding what Draco had allowed himself.
So far I had suppressed it, but now my feelings turned more and more to anger. While I was in the shower a little later, I indulged in my thoughts of yesterday regarding this action.
What had occurred to this prick?! And what had happened to me to let him fuck me so gently this morning when I harboured such a rage inside me?
The last days hadn't done my brilliant brain well. I couldn't, and I didn't want to let Draco get away with what he'd done so easily. I had to put a stop to such a humiliation of my person right from the start or he would start to think he could always do something like that with me.
A short while later, I stood in front of my vast selection of dresses and robes. Well, I probably had to say goodbye to my favoured trousers and skirts here. Short dresses, mostly knee-length, and many long dress robes, that was all that was available for me. Talk about discrimination. That didn't increase my mood, however, I certainly wouldn't start a discussion with Lucius about the choice of clothing suitable for a woman belonging to the Malfoy family. I could vividly imagine how such a conversation would end. No, I liked to remain dressed, I snorted contemptuously.
I had finally opted for a knee-length, olive-coloured, light wrap dress that covered my shoulders but was otherwise appropriate for the summer temperatures and left my arms free. It had a V-neckline and fell lightly due to the soft, airy fabric. I left my hair open, it fell in slight waves over my back. Thus, I looked beautiful but also very angry when my eyes flashed in the reflection of the mirror. I had touched myself up with make-up decently because I figured that the people here inevitably put a lot of value on an impeccable appearance. They could have that.
When I came out of the dressing room, I saw Draco looking hopefully in my direction after the morning fuck. Well, okay, it had been more than that, we had slept together. When he dared to carefully examine my pinched face, the hope in his eyes gave way to resignation, which almost made me soften, but just almost.
“Draco, what did you think during that performance yesterday? Or, were you rather not thinking at all?” I hissed angrily, reluctantly recognising that I sounded very similar to Snape right now.
“Hermione, I-” he wanted to explain and raised his hands placatingly. It didn't work, I was too angry for that, and so I interrupted him gruffly.
“Nothing ‘you’! Did you have to humiliate me like that? Isn't the whole thing humiliating enough already?” I screamed angrily and glared at him accusingly.
“But there was no-” he tried it again, which didn't appease me either. He ran his hand through his pale blond hair.
“Don't finish that sentence! There is always an alternative, damn it! Something like that will just make Lucius even more predatory than he already is,” I lamented with a threatening undertone. I noticed an arrogant expression appearing on his face but he didn’t say anything so I continued accusingly: “Do you want me to jump into your father’s bed? Shall I spread my legs for Lucius? Just say it, then I'll get it over with.” I aimed far below the belt in my fury. I didn't care whether this notion hurt him or not, I was too upset.
“Damn it! No, that is certainly not what I want! But how else could I have told him? ‘Father, this is Hermione. She is here to stay, forever?’ The opportunity was good, and if you were less involved, you would recognise it,” he hissed back now and glared arrogantly at me.
“Oh, you and your power games. I'm no pawn!” I hissed dangerously, hands on my hips in an aggressive stance.
“Hermione, nobody said that. He granted me my request and will respect that you belong to me! Only to me, he will-” he tried to explain somehow restlessly and diffusely
“Oh, was that the request? The request that he agreed to with the understanding that he would keep his options open for everything?!” I yelled because wasn’t that something? My own boyfriend asked his father to spare me. What had I gotten into here?
“Yes, damn it, I had to offer him that he could ensnare you, but I refused to tolerate anyone else sleeping with you. Otherwise, I gave him a free hand,” he now confessed stubbornly and brushed some cheeky strands of hair to the side that had fallen into his eyes. Since I had learned to read him all too well by now, it didn’t escape me how essential it was to him that Lucius had given this assurance.
“What?! You are all crazy, degenerate purebloods!” I screamed and sent a vase flying in a high arc into the small fireplace which also heated the bedroom. It clanked violently when the porcelain shattered into thousands of pieces. For sure, I had just destroyed an ancient, incredibly expensive rarity, but that didn't matter to me.
Draco seemed to be calmly allowing my tantrum to take place without moving.
“Hermione, I must now ask you to calm yourself and postpone this dispute since I just received a missive from Father asking us to join him in the large dining room for breakfast. We must comply with his request,” he declared in a very distinguished manner, looking entirely too much like his father, and I faltered. Realising that this was normal here, I just nodded and turned towards the door with a furious snort.
Still angry, I followed Draco wordlessly through the large, double-winged doors that led to the dining room that seemed more like a hall to me.
There was only one large, long table in it, set for four people, although it would be able to comfortably accommodate thirty people. The table was covered by a blossom-white tablecloth, and in the middle of the table stood a huge, ostentatious porcelain centrepiece from which a sea of flowers sprang.
The porcelain was a noble, high-gloss white bearing the silver monogram of the Malfoys. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors gave access to the large terrace that was surrounded by a low stone balustrade with curved balusters offering a stunning view of the park. It was an unusually bright, friendly room which reminded me of Versailles, as mirrors were hanging everywhere on the walls, framed by golden ornaments. There was also a large crystal chandelier hanging from the magnificent, colourfully painted stucco ceiling, which showed many magical creatures. This room was worthy of a palace.
Lucius already sat like a king at the front of the table. The morning sun made his hair shine even brighter than usual. Today he wore dark red silk brocade as a long frock coat. Wow, he knew what he looked good in, even if I had never expected to see that colour on him. Draco was similarly dressed in dark blue, both looking handsome.
“How delightful that you appeared so early. I had been afraid that the night might have demanded more from you... and you would, therefore, be indisposed so early in the day,” he said very sweetly while managing to sound quite spiteful.
I nodded to Lucius at this very peculiar greeting, and Draco silently helped me to sit down by politely moving the chair for me. Very chivalrous, but I was still mad and refused to pay much attention to him. He then sat down next to me on the left side of his father. Snape probably sat usually on the place to the right side of Lucius, which had also been set.
“Where is Severus?” Draco asked, not responding to his father's provocation.
“Well, your dear godfather always had the talent to disappear and be untraceable if he does not want to talk and it seems he wants to give me the slip today, but do not worry, I will catch him eventually! And then I will find out what he did to our pretty Hermione,” Lucius replied, equally amused and silkily threatening. He shot me a cold smile.
“How did you sleep in your new home, Hermione?” he asked vivaciously, raising an elegant brow. Why did everything sound presumptuous, ambiguous and enigmatic with this man?
“Very well, thank you, sir... Thank you, Lucius, for asking,” I circumnavigated this precipice by a hair's breadth. I could see him smiling in the end
When I got my coffee handed to me by a house elf after Draco had quietly requested it, I asked myself briefly what was wrong with the lady of the house, with Narcissa Malfoy. I had neither seen her nor heard from her!
“Anyhow, I was free to work out your daily plans. Draco, you will usually accompany me to the company or the ministry in the morning... For today, I arranged your appointment in Gringotts for ten o'clock so that you could take care of your finances,” Lucius recounted in a business-like manner and I watched Draco nodding his head obediently. “You, my dear, can peruse the books of the library to your heart’s content during this time. Thanks to your inferior origin you may have some deficits in your magical general knowledge.”
I gritted my teeth painfully at that slight against my pride and the complete and utter arrogance that went with it, and noticed Draco stiffening at his father's derogatory and contemptuous words. Did he think I was stupid enough to give Lucius a scene after our quarrel this morning? No, I was certainly not!
Drinking an emphatically neutral sip of my caffeine, I swallowed my pride with difficulty. I still had his breathed warning in my ear that he would forgive my slip this one time, but it would be an exception. In the past, I had already once suspected that he provoked me deliberately so that I would lose my composure and he could then punish me with full justification. But not with me; I could also play this game. No matter which humiliation Lucius sent my way, I would bear it and not give him the satisfaction of seeing me lose my cool. I once regarded it as a good exercise for me, I pragmatically encouraged myself.
“As you wish, Lucius,” I answered firmly and very respectfully and could sense Draco's iron-like tension drop, although he did it so skillfully inconspicuously that I was certain that it remained imperceptible to Lucius.
“Very well,” the big blonde said with a slightly pinched expression. “It's like every year: from Thursday on you get your training lessons with Severus or sometimes with both of us every day, except on weekends, starting at one in the afternoon. They will last as long as they last.”
Wow, this is what Draco's holidays had been like for the last few years? Where were the actual holiday activities? Poor Draco. How good that I had had a similar stress during the last holidays, thus I would be able to surprise the two Malfoys with how well I could keep up with their pace. We both just nodded obediently.
Lucius now picked up his copy of the Prophet and began to read while we silently took our meal. I myself was immersed in my thoughts, pondering what I still had to do and what my future would look like now. Okay, what awaited me? On Wednesday, I had to go to the will reading, which made my stomach ache again and I grimaced.
“What are you thinking about, Hermione?”
I was slightly startled by getting addressed so unexpectedly, looking at Lucius with big, blindsided eyes, not saying anything.
“You look like something is burdening you,” he stated curiously. I noticed Draco eyeing me as well even if he didn’t dare to ask me anything for fear of having to sleep on the couch.
I started gnawing my lower lip, not wanting to reveal my thoughts. However, I knew I wouldn't be able to just walk out of here like that either. If anyone noticed that I had left the Manor without the permission of the aristocratic tyrant, there would be a punishment waiting for me when I came back. But I also knew that Draco wouldn't like it at all and that Lucius would most likely know immediately that something had happened between me and Sirius; he had a gift for that. It made me want to tear my hair out!
“Hermione?” Draco asked worriedly. Meanwhile, Lucius had stood up straight and was looking at me suspiciously.
“Well… I… we have yet to determine how often I may leave the Manor…” I uttered. Draco wanted to reply but I quickly raised a hand. “I have some things to do that need me to be present,” I explained and Draco leaned back with a frown, probably knowing that when I talked like it wasn’t the Cottage I referred to.
“And what makes you think you would be permitted to leave the Manor at all?” Lucius asked in consternation and turned his aristocratic appearance towards me.
“I hope I don’t have to regard myself as a prisoner. Do I?” I carefully phrased my question, looking squarely into his eyes.
“Ah, how that sounds. Prisoner! … What do you say, Draco, is the little Mudblood our prisoner?” he enquired provocatively. Under the scrutiny of his father’s ice blue eyes, Draco pouted.
“Whatever you wish, Father,” he forced out diplomatically. The younger Malfoy showed me quite well how one had to handle his father: Never the direct way, always circumnavigating and insinuating.
“I don't know if I should, or want to, just let you go, my dear. I don't know you well enough yet... You understand? Explain to me what you are so indispensable for, that you would have to leave the estate,” he demanded slyly. It didn't sound as if he was really considering letting me go; a fact that made me grind my teeth.
“I have an appointment at Gringotts on Wednesday,” I disclosed at least a bit of information and attempted a mask of indifference.
“On Wednesday? Why exactly on Wednesday?” he asked predatorily and I realised that he knew about the will reading. Just where did he learn that?
The breadth of his knowledge was uncanny.
“The will of Sirius Black will be read,” I quietly confessed and heard immediately how a napkin was thrown noisily onto a plate. Cutlery clanked and Draco made his displeasure known.
“Does that mutt have to cause trouble even in death?!” Draco hissed now with a wrathful voice, glaring at me angrily and somehow reproachfully in a way he had not once done during our quarrel earlier.
I could feel his power gathering around him, something that happened very rarely because he always had such excellent control over himself. Lucius seemed to observe everything closely, although he said nothing; he just gave his son an appraising look.
“Calm down, Draco,” I tried to appease him, reaching to touch his shoulder but he withdrew from me brusquely with an upset look.
“You're not going!” he grumbled and I stayed calm as Draco had always had a tendency to see red where Sirius was concerned. However, I found his reaction exaggerated, after all Sirius was dead.
“Of course I will go, Draco! He is dead, you understand, you don’t have to get upset over him. I don’t understand you at all right now,” I showed myself confused and bemused, but also stubborn, because he could wish whatever he wanted, I wouldn’t give in.
Apparently, Lucius couldn't abide his ignorance anymore and he had to investigate.
“Why are you so upset about Black, son?” A light-haired and aristocratic brow went up.
“He… he… Oh, just ask her,” Draco hissed angrily and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“Well… Hermione?” Lucius curiously followed up.
“Oh, Draco doesn’t... He never liked him! Sirius got too close to me once,” I explained quickly. I didn’t want to say more than that but suspected once again that Lucius wouldn’t let it rest. I was right.
“I see. What is that supposed to mean?” He showed his impatience, waving his hand at me in a clear request to continue my explanation.
“She used to fuck him!” Draco spat reproachfully, raising his chin aggressively.
“Interesting. Everyone in the family apparently had the pleasure to have her,” Lucius stated very cynically, suppressing a sneer. “We should keep her away from the Lestranges.”
The way they portrayed me as a total slut didn’t suit me at all! Wait, I forgot, sometimes I really acted like one, but it hadn't been like that, damn it!
“And I sent him bloody packing when you and I got closer, on the train and then at Hogwarts there was no question that I was done with him! Please, at the first possible opportunity I ended the relationship with him, you know that, Draco. Why are you bitching right now?” I hissed furiously.
“Because you forgave him for what he did to you in the kitchen. I hate the Blacks!” Draco retorted with infinite resentment.
“Oh, but what Snape did to me was all right?” My patience snapped and I jumped up angrily, the chair crashing to the ground behind me. Meanwhile, Lucius sat there silently and watched with interest. “I didn't see you giving even a teensy bit of indication that you cared! 'Uncle' here, 'Uncle' there!” I yelled at him resentfully. By now, Draco had also gotten to his feet.
“I think you're overwrought, Hermione-” he tried to reason with me with his typical arrogance and aloofness, but that only increased my anger and I was about to go for his throat. Forgotten was the harmonious beginning of the day.
“I, overwrought? I will show you when I’m overwrought, Draco! That's outrageous! I did indeed put Sirius in his place and I don't need you to do that for me, understand? I hurt him worse than he hurt me! I didn't do anything to Snape, you know that, although I would have had equal right to do it if you applied the same standards!” I spat contemptuously.
“I know you can defend yourself,” he reluctantly admitted, “but against Sev-” I interrupted him harshly. It was also clear to me that Snape was a different opponent than Sirius, but I could have fought back and had decided against it in cold blood.
“Well, then explain to me why I shouldn't go to the will reading?” Ha, that's where I had him.
“Because you don't need anything he could give you!” he declared blithely. I rolled my eyes at this example of his snobbish nature.
“Draco, I don't know how to tell you, we parted with a fight. We beat each other and even after that he regarded me with distrust because he suspected that I am with a snake! I can't imagine that he left me a great deal, but I will show up, I owe him that!” I declared resolutely.
“You’re blind, Hermione. The man had a crush on you, for real! You don’t need what he bequeaths you!” the never jealous Draco repeated himself.
“Draco, your jealousy blinds you. He didn't love me... that was a summer flirt!” I replied rigorously. Draco shook his head and looked desperately at his father who was shrugged his shoulders.
“You really don't see it, do you, Hermione?” he said resignedly and, now calmer, I shook my head.
“Well, Draco, I think we should let her go to Gringotts. I know from a reliable source that Severus will also be there on Wednesday. He will accompany you,” Lucius decreed in a low voice. Draco clenched his lips together furiously when his father stabbed him in the back like that and decided over his head that I could go. The extent of Lucius’ knowledge was nonetheless intriguing. And that Snape, too, seemed to be mentioned in Sirius' will promised to be exciting.
“One thing more: I will allow you to leave the Manor at any time if one of the three of us accompanies you. If you want to go somewhere alone, you have to ask me first,” Lucius explained very clearly how he imagined things to go and I almost choked on his words but managed a nod.
“Of course, Lucius, thank you!” I forced the words out, striving not to sound sarcastic. I quickly made a proper curtsey while still breathing angrily. Just why did Draco have to be so stubborn?
“Draco, I think it is time for you to get ready for your appointment. You know, a Malfoy is never unpunctual. I will take over the task to show Hermione the park and the Manor,” Lucius continued to order us around and a very fleeting, smug smile played over his features, so fleeting that I almost thought I must have been mistaken.
“But-” Draco objected, only to have Lucius cut off the word with a quick, very bossy gesture.
“I will show her everything,” the elder Malfoy said decidedly.
Draco didn't like being ousted by his father, yet he knew there was no point in protesting. I watched him wrestle with himself and that made me relent. Draco always touched me and I knew how much he disliked that I would now be in Lucius' hands all morning. I was aware of how much he struggled, as a Malfoy was never jealous. Poor Draco! And so I overcame my resentment and anger, walked around the toppled chair towards Draco and gently took his hand into mine.
“Draco, let's not fight over Sirius. He's not worthy of us getting in each other's hair and you're right, the last few days have probably made me overly sensitive,” I offered him an olive branch. He wouldn't get anything better from me; an apology wouldn’t leave my lips and Draco knew it. He began to smile openly and leaned towards me.
“You are right, my Mudblood. But when I hear that name, I lose it every time! I... You'll be fine.” He now caressed my cheek conciliatorily. “I hope you will like the park and the property. Have fun. I would’ve liked to be the one to show you everything,” he whispered as he was quite aware of his father's dissecting eyes.
“Thank you, my Pureblood, for showing such confidence in me after all. And you will still be able to show me your favourite places!” I whispered back. In answer, Draco placed his lips on my forehead once more and gave me a loving kiss. Reconciliation, after such an argument, was always the most beautiful thing. Sighing, I closed my eyes.
When the moment was over, he turned to his father, bowed slightly and left the salon at a brisk pace. When he let the door fall into the lock behind his back, I went to my fallen chair and wanted to pick it up, but I was startled by a pale hand coming to rest on my arm and stopping me.
“You don't have to do that, that is what the house elves are for. Come along!” He angled his arm in a mannerly fashion and I dutifully placed my hand where he wanted it. Linked that way, he led me to the door which swung open at a wave of Lucius' hand. We stepped onto the wide, white sandstone terrace and I looked at the wide open spaces in front of us deeply impressed.
“You must learn to control your temperament,” he reprimanded me in a monotonous voice.
“I know. Normally, I can control myself very well. Please forgive me. I will work to always be able to preserve my face!” I offered hastily and he bestowed upon me a benevolent inclination of his head.
“The whole park was not at all in keeping with the Elizabethan façade of the 16th century, since the park had been laid out in the French Baroque of the 17th century. The splendidly spreading park in front of me reminded me of the castle park of Vaux-le-Vicomte. The manor and the garden formed an artistic whole, despite the different styles. Everything was subject to an overarching order. The entire complex was structured hierarchically, symmetrically and axially according to the absolutist ideas of the Baroque epoche.
The garden itself was geometrically divided, with main and secondary axes formed by canals, pools or paths. The central line of sight was surrounded by a system of parallel paths that intersected at right angles and radially at regular intervals. The separation was made by geometrically trimmed trees, shrubs, hedges and flower beds, which were designed in ornamental forms and lawns.
From the manor, a wide staircase led to the parterre, the terraced start of the garden, which was framed by boskets - these were hedges - which led into the far-off forest, and by box trees trimmed in shape. A large avenue surrounded by water candelabra formed the impressive main axis of the garden. It ended at a water basin and a wall of arcades framed by beautiful broderie beds.
I walked through this grandeur and splendour on paths strewn with colourful gravel, with the visibly proud Lucius at my side. The main features were complemented by accents such as staircases, canals, grottos, fountains and water features. This was a completely artificial structure created by man. The highest value was placed on symmetry and regularity, as was typical in the Baroque period, quite different from the wild, dreamy, English landscape garden created by the Twins for Rose Cottage.
The decoration programs fascinated me very much and Lucius was amazed at my knowledge of the Baroque. He was also very much pleased that I appreciated this tour and enjoyed talking in detail about his realm.
The master of the manor told me that his ancestor, who had the garden laid out during the Baroque period, had also been an admirer of Greek and Roman mythology and that these themes were reflected in the groups of figures of the magnificent fountains. Another of his ancestors had had a penchant for the exotic and so a Chinese temple and a Turkish tea house had also found their place on the grounds.
I was amazed at the unimaginable splendour in which the Malfoys lived. This baroque park alone already spoke for the glorification of property, which was fully indulged here.
Afterwards he presented to me with a seductive smile the secret pride of the Malfoy family: the horse stables.
It was a large hall with a stable lane and countless separate boxes for the beautiful, pure white, winged horses.
“Magnificent!” I praised, overwhelmed by the extent of the wealth that hid and revealed itself here.
“That would have pleased my father if you had said this to him in that overwhelmed tone of voice. He had a passion for these animals,” he said, visibly proudly.
I had seen through him. He was playing the exemplary innocent here, trying to wrap me around his illustrious finger just because Draco and I had had a disagreement. But I wouldn’t let myself be led on a merry dance so easily.
He had behaved decently the whole time and had only led me discreetly by the arm, but a certain tension could not be denied. I wanted to tease him a little bit and so I asked:
“Well, the way I see it, all Malfoys try to immortalize themselves somehow. Some through the house; a part from the deepest Middle Ages, then the façade in a different style. The baroque garden. Your father and the horses. What are you leaving behind, Lucius?”
I only pretended to be interested in the answer, although I was curious how he would react. He turned to me with a malicious smile that looked unreasonably good on him.
“Well, my dear, I have looked for another field of activity than our home, which I like the way it is. I wanted to do business and started M Industries Incorporated!” he said pompously and with a serious expression. Meanwhile, my face fell.
“Pardon me? M Inc.? That’s a big Muggle corporation, isn’t it?!” I exclaimed in surprise.
“Oh, you have heard about it? Yes, that's my company. Muggle money is not bad, money is still money! Alas, it is not a purely Muggle corporation. I have a mixed business that covers all areas of the wizarding and Muggle world,” he explained readily and clearly satisfied with himself. I was stunned, speechless. Hence, I only stood there and tried to digest the information that Malfoys probably stuck at nothing as soon as the money called.
“You seem overwhelmed by the prospect.” His voice sounded distinctly amused.
“In fact, this statement comes as a surprise. I wouldn’t have thought you would be so…” I faltered uncertainly. Should I say 'flexible'? ‘Blessed with elastic morality’? Both sounded terribly cynical.
“Modern?” he offered generously while continuing to smirk regally. Apparently, he greatly enjoyed to unsettle me.
“Indeed, yes!” I regained my bearing.
“Then it is good that we were able to surprise you. Come on!” he ordered high-handedly and led me back to show me the house as well. I followed along, but mentally I was still digesting the information that this big, global company belonged to the Malfoys.