Chapter translator: Aivy
Now Draco raised his voice. He had pushed himself off the door frame and strode into the room like a king, without fear of Harry's anger. He set himself up in front of us in an impressive pose.
"Stop yelling and insulting her like that," he hissed dangerously, which sounded all the more threatening due to the lack of volume.
"You stay out of this, ferret. I'll talk to her any way I want and I'll say it like it is," Harry rebuked him and gave me a despising look that pierced my marrow and bone. "So that's what Sirius meant with the snakes. He was right. That you would lower yourself..." he spat disdainfully in my face and grimaced in disgust.
"For sure I will not let you talk to Hermione like that, Potter," Draco announced very firmly, measuring Harry with his ice cold gaze and not retreating even a step.
The opposite was the case. Draco approached him even closer, which seemed threatening, especially because he wasn't intimidated by Harry's rage and was taller than him.
"Oh... Suddenly, she is Hermione. What happened to 'Mudblood'?" Harry provoked with drawn-out words while I just sat there, speechless.
Unable to say anything, I just observed the heated exchange of blows between Harry and Draco as they contemptuously measured each other, and laid my hands on my aching stomach.
"Don't call her that," Draco growled angrily and this seemed to unsettle Harry, but only for a moment before he continued in the same vein as before.
"Oh, all of a sudden?" he mocked. "Why are you allowed to call her a Mudblood and I can't? This lying bitch," Harry hissed venomously. Ouch, that had hit. Yes, that's how I had imagined it. I didn't let on how I felt except the bitter expression that pulled on the corners of my mouth.
"Because it doesn't hurt her when I call her that," Draco said, his voice sounding calm and controlled.
He had deliberately turned his gaze on me when he spoke, so that Harry also looked at me on the couch and faltered in his anger. It was as if Draco had taken the wind out of his sails.
"What?" he breathed in disbelief as he beheld my frozen figure.
"You really are the idiot I always thought you were. Every second word of hers is 'Harry'," Draco jeered very arrogantly. "Who's she doing all that shit for? You don't even know half the things that have happened to her just to get information. What she had to do and was willing to do! She is ready to fight for you, so never talk about Hermione without respect again, Potter, do you understand? You in particular should thank her on your knees and show her the respect she deserves," Draco spat at Harry's feet, a storm brewing in his grey eyes. His power was clearly palpable in the too small living room because Draco was also very powerful and in no way inferior to Harry. Only that the blond Slytherin knew very well how to control himself and his magic.
"What? I don't understand anything right now. You talk as if... You talk as if you... about her... That almost sounds...?" Harry stuttered completely overwhelmed.
"Harry, no, that's-" I pitched in but was abruptly interrupted.
"You understand correctly, Potter, even if your articulation leaves something to be desired. I will defend her, even against you. You'll always treat her with respect or you'll mess with me! Anyone who doesn't treat her with respect messes with me," Draco replied solemnly and icy cold.
"But... but she is a Muggle-born! Malfoy, are you crazy? You hate them. You despise such people," Harry uttered completely dumbfounded.
Draco laughed cynically and looked at Harry from above. He reared himself up even more in front of the other young man, seemed to want to gain more respect for what he wanted to say. What else came now?
"That's what you think. I'll tell you something now, Potter, but I'll only say it once. This woman belongs to me," he whispered softly, but in the quiet room he could be heard very well.
This statement made Harry stagger and he fell back into his chair. It was as if one had cut off his strings like that of a puppet, all at once. He slumped back and closed his eyes in disbelief, putting his head in his hands in a sign of exhaustion, shutting down completely. Draco's declaration had surprised me as well.
Had my never jealous Malfoy felt compelled to show me again that he felt so deeply for me? That I belonged to him? Oh, he was a snake through and through. As I knew him, he revealed this so dramatically not only because of Sirius but also Lucius and Snape. That put a faint smile on my lips. He was totally devious. He had also immediately reminded me of his point of view and said for the second time that he needed me and that I belonged to him. He had really said it, not just implied it. I felt like my heart couldn’t beat faster.
"I can't believe that, Malfoy. You're not serious," Harry stuttered breathlessly. He was still sitting there with his head down and his eyes closed. I answered this time.
"Yes, Harry, he is, since I feel the same for Draco! I belong with him! We searched and found each other," I confessed in a rough voice, looking at Draco all the time. His slate grey eyes began to glow contentedly and he moved his eyebrows as I openly admitted my feelings.
"I can't believe it. You got involved with the enemy. I never expected that," Harry's deeply bitter voice cut dangerously into my flesh as he slowly lifted his head.
"Potter, Potter, you disappoint me! As always so obtuse! You react exactly as she feared. Now you know why she didn't tell you. She was right! Face it, you're just confirming to her that it was right not to rely on your understanding and compassion," Draco sneered angrily and I didn't look at Harry. I was uncomfortable with Draco speaking the truth.
In a surprise move, Draco pulled out his wand and sent red sparks into the garden and I frowned in bewilderment.
"What, Hermione? This living embodiment of a complete fool and idiot should learn to say something so hurtful only when he has thought about it. Instead, he whines these useless words, like the biggest toddler who can't think! You know, my words are always followed by deeds. I have said I introduce myself to you and I do so now. Let's see what you say, Potter, when you've turned on your brain," Draco sneered condescendingly.
Grinding his jaw, Harry was about to jump up at Draco's insulting words and maybe fight with him, when all life left him again at the moment the people who had been called by Draco entered the tension-charged room one after another with serious faces.
Blaise stepped in with the Twins, followed by the Greengrass sisters, who were eyed disbelievingly by Harry.
"And in the future, you might reconsider accusing Hermione of allying herself with the enemy. After all, your own sweetheart is also the enemy, isn't she...?" Draco now turned his back on him in a provocative move, leaving a totally stunned and confused Harry behind.
End of Hermione’s POV
I deliberately turned my back on the great fool Potter, walked resolutely towards Hermione, who was still sitting on the sofa looking a little lost, and greeted her with a loving kiss on her forehead. She gave me a faint, melancholic but grateful smile, which I returned. For a few, intimate seconds, we paid no attention to the brainless moron. However, I made sure that I quickly got into the large armchair in front of the fireplace, from where I could watch the spectacle. I would have loved to rub my hands in anticipation.
Now the fun would begin and I wanted to enjoy the show to the fullest.
Potter had been as shocked as expected and also acted as stupid as expected, which had made my entrance even more amusing. I leaned back in a relaxed posture, my arms and legs crossed, and watched everything with excitement. Let's see how foolish he could possibly still be!
I saw great potential in him!
Potter was still thunderstruck, half frozen in his leap to attack me, but I could clearly see that his rigid posture was slowly shifting again. He crumbled because all this seemed a bit much for him. Wonderful. I had allowed him to get away with his insulting defamations, even though I would have liked to curse him or just to ram my fist into his face. But I had restrained myself, because I knew that Hermione would not have liked that, and then I would have drawn her anger towards me. Hence, I was very entertained by Potter's absolutely stupid-looking and very pale face. With his mouth open, he didn't look very intelligent.
Daphne stared at him in disbelief, looking as if she couldn't quite decide yet whether to throw her arms around his neck or whether he was a ghost. Eventually, she obviously decided, slowly approaching him with a happy, dreamy expression on her face. She grabbed his hands, staring at him as if spellbound.
"Harry, you are here," she breathed fervently. That was yuck. How could anyone be so happy to see the idiot?
Potter seemed totally taken aback and stared at Daphne like an unexpected apparition. It would probably be a while before he had digested my speech. For a short time, I looked at my Hermione, who seemed to relax slowly and that made me happy. Even though I had enjoyed this dramatic performance, I very much disliked that she had been hurt so carelessly by the fool named Potter. Hopefully he would switch on his birdbrain soon.
Finally, Potter seemed to have found his tongue. That had taken long enough.
"Daphne, you're here... But how?" Pure, shocked astonishment lay in Potter's voice and he blinked owlishly from behind his glasses.
I watched as Daphne smilingly turned her head and looked at Hermione. Potter followed her gaze. Slowly, really slowly, he also seemed to understand. That was about time. He was almost in competition with Crabbe and Goyle. He shook his head with a confused expression.
"Hermione, that was you? Not Zabini? Did you make sure that Daphne didn't have to go home?" he breathed very surprised and sounded quite emotional at his question.
I kept my eyes firmly on my little Hermione, hoping she was slowly getting better. Maybe I should have sat down with her, but well, it would have to suffice.
"Not only that, Harry, she also brought Astoria here. It's like paradise here, Harry. You can't imagine! We've never had such a wonderful holiday before. Without any demands put on us. She has created a paradise here! I... we are so grateful to her," enthused Daphne in a bell-like soprano and with a radiant, honest smile on her lips. She seemed very excited when she described all this to him so breathlessly.
Oh, that fool still hadn't understood it, for now he started stuttering in disbelief again.
"But... but why did you do that, Hermione? How did you do that? Did you only do that because of me?" he waved his hands through the air.
I realized she wanted to answer, but I thought Potter had to get another shot across the bow so he finally understood.
"Have you still not understood, Potter? You are her only motive. She doesn't do everything for you, but a lot. Of course, she brought Daphne and Astoria here just for you. You didn't even have to ask her for it; she just did it. Now think about why she could do that. Switch on your obviously not existing brain. I'll give you a hint, she had help from the enemy," I hissed the last half of the sentence in the best, contemptuous Malfoy manner.
I was allowed to witness with satisfaction how his eyes got big. I shook my head with a nasty grin and passed the staff on to Blaise, who then hurriedly joined in.
"Oh, I organized that. Hello, Potter, Harry Potter! Blaise is my name and I'd do everything for our most beautiful here. If you want to ask why I help Hermione: I just do, like everybody else here. Oh yes, that she's Draco's girlfriend also plays a role, of course, but a minor one," Blaise explained in a calm, velvety voice before he started flirting after all, showing his stunning smile.
Blaise... How foresighted and empathetic he always was. His shrewdness lurked really well hidden under that damn beautiful and engaging smile. He, too, was not a bloody snake without good reason, as I knew only too well. Not for nothing was he my right hand man in the House of Slytherin.
Potter continued to show us how obtuse and sluggish he was by staring wordlessly at Blaise and my annoyed gaze went to the Twins, who watched everything as relaxed and grinning as I did. He just gave you countless point of attacks to make fun of him.
Daphne obviously noticed as well that Potter didn't get anything as she was waving her arms now.
"Well, Hermione asked Blaise to invite us and then Blaise brought us here at the beginning of the holidays. We were quite surprised to meet the Weasley twins here. They live here, you have to know, and when Abrax- Hermione also arrived here, I was totally baffled. But she's so sweet, Harry, you wouldn't believe it. We are so grateful to her that she helped us and brought us here and all because of you. I'm sure she would never have helped us if you hadn't told her how it is for us at home. Please, don't be angry with her," she begged with a soft, sighing tone and gained his attention.
Oh yes, Daphne did well. She looked at him with big puppy eyes. You had no chance but to soften up, at least if you weren't a Malfoy. I was proud of my little Slytherin. It was beautiful to behold how she wrapped Potter around her little finger. With a dreamy expression in his expressive, oh-so-green eyes that I found looked asinine, he looked down at her dainty, delicate figure; it was downright pitiful.
Ah, Potter finally seemed to really comprehend what the words of his girlfriend meant. The look he now gave Hermione spoke volumes and the guilty conscience seemed to be spreading. He apparently wrestled with a decision. Squaring his shoulders, he certainly detached himself from Daphne, who was still smiling happily and approached Hermione slowly. He even let himself sink to his knees in front of her, in front of the sofa, probably to better be able to look her in the eyes. How good that I knew exactly what she was feeling for him, otherwise I would probably have intervened. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist a comment.
"Do you finally get it, Potter? She deserves the greatest respect you can give. Let her tell you everything about her, but never judge her. I was deadly serious earlier, she will always have my respect. Don't you dare snap at her like that ever again. I will intervene, that was not an empty threat. Kneeling in front of her is a good start," I said venomously. Was that spiteful? Yes, it was, but I liked seeing him down there quite well.
My voice rang with both sincerity and coldness. I glared at him intimidatingly when he looked up at me suspiciously. I was satisfied to see that he seemed defeated, sad and deeply overwhelmed with all the information. It was astounding that Potter showed me his emotions so openly. To see Potter like that was really a pleasure and I didn't know yet whether I would really give him a chance as Hermione had asked. First the fool had to prove himself.
He could start now by apologizing because I didn't like it when someone like Potter allowed himself such a negative opinion of Hermione.
He was still kneeling in front of her and she had looked at me calmly as I spoke, but now she turned her intense gaze back at him and I could see all too clearly in the depths of her eyes that she was still sad and hurt. But she was also very much at rest in herself as she had expected such an outburst.
Skeptical, I watched him grab her hands. I didn't like that, but I pulled myself together. Finally, he swallowed hard and then Potter spoke softly and everyone seemed to listen intently. The tension was almost tangible. The Twins leaned forward imperceptibly, probably to get all the details. Daphne was still standing between the sofa and the garden door, waiting, and Blaise, who was standing behind her with Astoria in his arm, was also listening attentively.
"Hermione, I'm sorry I freaked out like that. My temper... you know? Can you forgive me? As hard as it is for me to admit, Malfoy is right. My heart also belongs to the enemy, even if I still can't quite understand your choice from the enemy's house," Potter shook his head unhappily at his thoughtful words.
Or not so thoughtful after all? I noticed how Daphne audibly sucked in the air and looked at him in astonishment. Apparently, he had just revealed more than Daphne had known before. Very beautiful. It was really fun here. I hadn't been happy for nothing. This fool didn't leave out any blunder, even if he sounded suitably submissive.
I watched with satisfaction as my Mudblood gently began to smile, the sad expression slowly disappearing from her eyes as she slowly regained her poise.
"I forgive you! I'm glad you have realized that, Harry. Please, give Draco a chance. He's not that bad, at least not as bad as you think. However, I am no innocent lamb either," Hermione laughed, sounding slightly bitter. "If you had turned away from me, things would have become very difficult. Besides, you know, Harry, I always aim to achieve the best I can." Her eyes sparkled shrewdly when she glanced at me for a moment.
Potter's next words surprised me again and I raised a pale brow.
"I wouldn't have done that, Hermione! Never! I told you something once: I love you! Always, no matter what happens and that still stands true. I am not a fickle leaf in the wind. I think about what I'm saying from time to time and I meant what I said in Umbridge's office. I belong to you! Even if I don't like what I hear and I have a hard time accepting your decisions;especially that one," he explained, his head twitching in my direction. His voice sounded serious and firm. When he had finished his little speech, he pressed his lips together tightly, still holding her hands firmly in his own.
I clearly saw the wonder and happiness in her eyes and couldn't suppress an unwilling grumble as she now jumped up unusually emotional to embrace the kneeling Potter joyfully and very fiercely. They held each onto each other tightly for a long time. Eventually, I intervened, at least verbally, because I couldn't stand the cheesiness.
"That's enough. She is my girlfriend, Potter. Yours is over there. Say hello to her and stop crushing mine," I demanded with annoyance and pointed to Daphne.
He dissociated himself obediently from Hermione, stood up and walked towards Daphne, now a little more self-confident again. She looked at him questioningly, but also smiled with understanding. Let's see if the fool could fix it. I stepped up to Hermione and embraced her, was glad that she was better now.
"Let's go outside. I really don't want to hear Potter whisper sweet nothings into Daphne's ear," I said quietly, and she nodded.
"Good idea. I'm very hungry," she announced in an exaggeratedly good mood. "Have you tried your hand at the grill?"
"Shit! Blaise, the grill. Go and have a look," I ordered in a hurry when she reminded me that it had been left behind without supervision.
Blaise dashed off. He seemed to have forgotten that too and the Twins followed him quickly. I now possessively put my arm around Hermione, pulled her with me to the patio door and as we passed Astoria, who was still curiously watching her sister, I offered her my arm gallantly.
"Come on, Astoria, we don't really want to witness that," I demanded all Malfoy-like.
She seemed fascinated and not particularly inclined to turn away, seemed torn between obeying me or spying on her sister, and I made the mistake and looked back! Ew, I shouldn't have done that, Daphne was in Potter's arms doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
No, not at all and so I let my authority prevail.
"Do you want to deny me?" I asked harshly and Hermione chuckled quietly.
Astoria quickly shook her head and clasped my arm. Good girl, my little Slytherin. The three of us left the house, stepped into the really picturesque, dreamlike garden, which was in stark contrast to that of the manor. Gallantly, I led the two women at my right and left to the small pergola, where the Twins had already set the table and were preparing the barbecue together with Blaise. The coal had almost burned down completely. Well, then I would show them what cooking and grilling was meant to look like.
I led both girls to the table, withdrew my arm from Astoria and first adjusted a chair for her, then I led Hermione to the head of the table, where she belonged, and offered her a chair, too.
"I'm going to teach the Twins how to grill. See you soon, my Mudblood," I whispered.
She smiled joyfully and replied:
"See you soon, my Pureblood, I'm hungry, so hurry," she ordered like a real Malfoy and I knew how much this friendly get-together meant to her and even I liked it. Without Potter, of course.
I nodded and, looking at her, stepped back a few steps, then walked quickly to the Twins and announced loudly before I reached them:
"Let me do that. I'll show you how it is done! You clowns can't do that."
End of Draco’s POV
I watched Draco hurry to the grill and heard the Twins vehemently deny that they needed him. I had seen the anticipation flashing in his eyes as he walked so vainly towards the three and ordered them around in the usual way. Simply exquisite, to see Draco in action.
The way he just spoke with his hands and expressed his displeasure and delegated and directed everything around him was simply fantastic to behold. He was a born leader. Whether it was to master a grill or to lead troops in battle, he was the one in charge, maintaining a clear overview. I was also grateful that he had remained so controlled when Harry had become so upset. It would have really surprised me if Harry had accepted all this stoically. On the other hand, he had reacted very humanely up until Draco had revealed himself. In the past, he would have blown up much sooner.
Harry's way of apologizing had meant a lot to me. I didn't want to thank him for what I did because I did it for myself, too. I didn't want to live in a world ruled by the Dark Lord. I was willing to fight for that, as we all knew, and Harry would soon learn to fight properly himself. I had a lot of plans with him and it was important that we could clear the differences and Draco had been an incredible help. I was happy to have found him. Looking at him that way, I saw his strength, which he had just so impressively demonstrated to Harry, shining through in such a banal activity as barbecuing.
He did an excellent job, considering that such chaotic people as the Twins were involved. This was his genius and I was sure he would find a foundation to deal with Harry!
"You are good for him," Astoria said abruptly, looking at me with a nice smile. I could see a lot of her face as she had tied her hair back tight and raised an eyebrow in query. At the same time, I discarded my pashmina so you could now see the T-shirt with the skull I wore underneath. Now it was Astoria's turn to get wide-eyed.
"Do you think so?" I checked curiously. I whispered this to her, because Draco wouldn't appreciate it if he knew that he was our topic of conversation.
"Oh yes, very much. He never used to be like that. Always the distant, bad-tempered chief, never approachable. Not that we don't all submit to him voluntarily, but now that he shows that he can be a ... well, a human being, I do it twice as gladly and we owe it to you. You seem to make him happy," she whispered huskily, since she seemed to have become doubts in the middle of the speech after all.
I reassured her by tapping her hand.
"As long as you don't forget to treat him respectfully... And remember that you should never be insolent to him in the presence of your House. Otherwise he'd have to discipline you and he'd be sorry," I said friendly but also with a reprimanding tone and she nodded, intimidated. Just at that moment Blaise joined us.
"Hey, ladies... So what would you like? White wine or red wine" he asked jovially and bowed to us.
"I'll take the white wine," I smiled in delight and watched as he poured the cooled, almost pale golden liquid into my glass.
"What about you, Astoria?" he asked charmingly and she held out her glass and gave him a flirtatious look. He skilfully passed over this tender attempt from her, for he also poured her the white wine but otherwise didn't respond. I thought for a moment if I should say something since she was only fourteen. On the other hand... it was not my job and I myself had already imbibed very different liquids at her age.
Suddenly, we heard a loud laugh coming from the grill and the loudest was, to our astonishment, Draco, laughing himself half to death for whatever reason. Blaise rolled his eyes and I raised my eyebrow questioningly.
"Oh... I wanted to hear that too. It's about new inventions, but Draco probably kept pushing until I was forgotten," he announced resignedly and now I started to laugh, because yes, if the Malfoys could do one thing, then it was being a nuisance!
"Oh, there's someone coming and the three at the grill haven't noticed yet that they're coming. Potter rarely looks stupid at the moment, if you ask me," the snake said charamantly as usual. I turned my head, watching Harry stand in the garden and admire this wild paradise in amazement. It was all a bit much for him all at once.
"You shouldn't always underestimate Harry. He can do a lot and sees a lot. He's neither dumb nor stupid. Only there's always so much going on around him, I'd like to see you coping with that in such a short amount of time," I defended him vigorously.
"That's right, most beautiful. But honestly, it's the same with you and you never look so flummoxed," Blaise said sardonically, still watching them.
"That's because, Blaise, he still has a heart and that's good. And I, well... not everyone can be like me," I gave him some food for thought and observed the pair intently. Harry and Daphne were pretty together.
Now the happy couple approached us. Harry adored the woman at his side and she adored him too. Man, the two were already dangerously soppy. My eyebrows reached undreamt-of heights. We exchanged glances over the table and rolled our eyes. They would have a lot of fun in the cottage if the couple would keep pining for each other the whole day.
Someday, I would lock them in a room and only let them out again if they had fucked, otherwise they would never become bearable. But the Twins and the two snakes here, who already showed a cunning expression in their eyes, would take care of it faithfully and responsibly. The three of us grinned at each other very nastily. I guess we all had to think the same thing. Unbelievable. What an nasty bunch we were, I thought sarcastically. With us as friends you really didn't need enemies anymore!
When I realized that Harry was staring incredulously at the grill and had to be led by Daphne so that he wouldn't fall, I snickered, but it seemed as if he couldn't keep his gaze away from the happy crowd. Draco had just started spinning the food conscientiously and, on his orders, one of the twins added some more. Since he had become the grill master, apparently nothing burned any more. As it looked, it was only now that Harry became aware that the Twins were there and were having an intimate, amicable relationship with Draco. He looked very shocked at the scene in front of him and stumbled, almost falling down.
"Hi, Harry, have a seat. How do you like everything?" I asked, while Daphne supported Harry.
I was glad he had caught himself so quickly and didn't have another episode because of the twins, although I guessed he wasn't finished yet. Harry always bottled up a lot and ultimately there would be another outbreak. But I knew I could believe his statement that he would love me no matter what happened and I gave him credit for it. That he even spoke to me after the revelation that Sirius had been replaced by Draco was almost a miracle.
"How is your hand?" I looked at him worriedly.
"It's a dream. I never dared to hope to ever spend a holiday in such an environment, I really didn't," he didn't answer my last question which was when Daphne interfered.
"I healed it," she informed me whispering quietly and I nodded to her gratefully, answering his previous statement.
"You have to thank Fred and George for that, and also Blaise and the girls here since the beginning of the holidays," I gestured whom to praise.
"Really? How that?" he showed himself curious.
"Well, the Twins are living here permanently. I offered it to them after they dropped out of school," I explained the circumstances to Harry and he listened with interest.
"Yes, and ever since we got here they've forced us to work on the garden every day as a surprise for Hermione and Draco," Astoria interrupted me, which made me smile, but prompted Daphne to slap her on the wrist.
"Ouch," the little girl complained exaggeratedly, glaring at her sister while Harry looked at his girlfriend uncomprehendingly. I didn't say anything because Daphne looked like she was about to blow up.
"I didn't raise you that way... You must never interrupt Hermione; are you crazy?" she hissed angrily.
"Let it go, Daphne,' I objected nicely, because I noticed Harry's lack of understanding about the sisters' argument. Astoria had long since pulled in her head, pretending that she was scolded. This little one was a sly snake.
"No, Hermione. If she does that with Draco, she won't get away so easily. He can't let her get away," she interjected, and I had to agree with her secretly. If she had done this in front of Draco or even worse to him himself, I wouldn't have wanted to switch places with her. He wasn't allowed to let it go, even if it didn't suit him sometimes and they were people he liked, otherwise he would lose the respect of the Slytherins.
"Who won't get away with what?" Draco casually approached us with a wine glass in his hand.
"Nothing, Draco," I said, which made him lift his elegant brow, but he accept it and didn't push. But then Harry replied. Bloody hell.
"I don't get it, Malfoy. It's about Astoria interrupting Hermione," Harry looked perplexed and I rolled my eyes. Alas, it was progress that Harry was talking to Draco at all.
"Astoria... is that true?" the tall blond asked predatorily.
Astoria didn't look at him quickly lowering her head in guilt and nodding anxiously while I sent him a disapproving look.
"My dear, just make sure this doesn't happen outside of the cottage. The consequences wouldn't be nice. Nobody has the right to interrupt Hermione or me," he explained velvety. She nodded again and he sighed. "Say it. I want to hear it!
I, who knew him so well, saw so clearly in his eyes that he didn't like this either, but it had to be done.
"I'm sorry, Draco, it will never happen again," she whispered tentatively.
"Good girl. But there's also Hermione," Draco prompted and drank a sip of his red wine. Harry seemed completely overwhelmed by what was happening here.
She turned towards me with an easy attitude.
"Sorry, Hermione, I won't do it again."
"It's all right, Astoria!" I wasn't really comfortable with this, so I waved it aside.
"Blaise, our guests still have nothing to drink. What do you want, white wine or red wine?" Draco played the role of the host perfectly and pointed to Harry and Daphne.
"I'll have red wine," Daphne said relaxed. For her the scolding was over and she was glad that it had turned out so gently, but Harry sat there numbly because he was not familiar with such a behaviour.
"And you, Potter?" asked Blaise, who was just filling in the wine, whereupon Harry jerked up.
"Um... white wine... I think," he spoke with uncertainty in his voice.
"There is a glass missing," Draco had already spotted and Daphne hastily jumped to her feet.
"I'll get it from the kitchen," she called hurriedly and ran off.
I looked at Harry, who frowned after her and watched the whole scene with confusion. He probably couldn't make any sense of what had just happened and I turned to him quietly, pleading, while Blaise was talking to Draco.
"Please, next time I say Draco doesn't need to know and he accepts it voluntarily, shut up. It's better that way for everyone. I'll explain it to you later..."
He looked at me with even less understanding and before I could explain further, he asked loudly:
"What is this, Malfoy? What gives you the right to push the others around like that? And why do they put up with it and why would their behaviour outside the cottage have consequences? She only interrupted Hermione, that's not bad. Not polite, but in the end not a bad thing. I don't understand!"
Great, Harry. Great. Now there'll be another argument. What was I supposed to do? Stand between the squabblers? Draco had turned to him and I saw that Daphne was just coming back behind him.
"Here Draco, the wine glass," she said politely, holding it out to Blaise so that he could pour in the wine. But Draco interrupted Daphne gruffly, raising his hand in a dismissive gesture.
"Not now, Daphne. I have to explain something to Potter!
In the meantime, he had kept his eyes on Harry, not looking at her and cutting her off pretty unkindly, but in his typical Malfoy way. Harry jumped up, was about to blow up again, because treating Daphne that way was certainly against Harry's sense of justice.
"What's wrong with you, Malfoy? Nobody talks to my girlfriend like that! Just because you're the oh-so-great Malfoy doesn't mean you have the right-"
He wanted to continue ranting when Draco, who had crossed his arms in front of his chest and stood towering threateningly in front of Harry on the other side of the table, interrupted him. Great, Harry to the left of me, Draco to the right of me and I was still sitting directly in between.
"That's right, Potter, you've got it all figured out. I'm a Malfoy, people have to obey me! The Slytherins have to obey me, on my word. Daphne knows exactly where her place is, just like everyone else here and in my House. Yes, my house. We aren't as informal and undisciplined as the Gryffindors. When I say something, they have to obey and they have to show Hermione the same respect! We Slytherins are a closely-knit community. We stick together, stand together as a front to the outside and stand behind our leader. It always has been this way and it will always be. Slytherins need structure and hierarchy; they don't know it any different and I'm their leader," he boomed, getting louder and louder. It was about his position amongst the snakes, no contradiction could be tolerated.
I thoroughly disliked the direction the situation was developing in. Not because Draco behaved like that, no - that's just how he was and I accepted that - but Harry shouldn't have learned about Slytherin's power structure and our place in it like that and I sensed too clearly that Harry was about to explode.
"Nobody talks to my girlfriend like that, not even you, Malfoy," he showed no shyness or fear of Draco, but stood his ground.
Draco eyed Harry appraisingly, probably still wondering if he should deign to answer him again and shook his head condescendingly. However, before I could bring myself to intervene as this was quite the complicated matter, Daphne softly spoke up.
"Draco, may I explain it to him?"
Yes, she really knew how to deal with him. She asked as submissively as desired and now he actually turned his head to her for a moment, measuring her disparagingly. Nevertheless, he nodded slightly and gave her his consent with a short wave of his hand. Then he let himself sink into the chair next to me, leaned back in a distinctly relaxed posture and seemed to want to watch everything from here on out.
It was indeed impressive to behold how he sat back, folded his legs and crossed his arms. Daphne, who was still standing, turned to him again with a questioning look.
"Start already, the food is getting cold," he commanded her impatiently.
"Harry, you have to understand. With the Slytherins, there's always a House Chief and that's always the strongest. The one who can assert himself best or who has the most influence and Draco combines both and even more. Since his second year, he has been the undisputed leader of the House and when he says something, we all have to follow. Draco represents power, strength, influence and wealth in abundance. Nobody in Slytherin would disobey an order from Draco. Yet, he also protects us; we gladly follow him. He is a good leader," she told him empathetically.
I was surprised to see the Twins grinning insidiously at those words. Blaise nodded in agreement, as did Astoria. Harry's gaze, on the other hand, was only getting more astonished. Slowly, he let himself sink back into his chair.
Daphne sat down next to him, grabbed his hand and continued:
"Everyone has to obey him and also Hermione. She is the one he chose and we pay her as much respect as we pay him. It is very kind of him to let us do what we want here in the cottage and it was also very kind of him not to punish Astoria. She knows, however, that she would have to expect a punishment if she behaved so disrespectfully towards him or Hermione outside the cottage..."
"She's right, Harry. Draco is the boss. What he says will be done, it's simply the way it is. And our most beautiful here represents him wonderfully when he's not there," Fred interjected briefly.
Even I was astonished by Fred's casual words, which showed his acknowledgement of this circumstance. The Twins had been surprisingly restrained so far.
I had noticed with interest how Harry quickly turned his head to Fred and that he was now even more confused. But before he could ask anything, Daphne continued.
"Harry, you just have to understand, Draco leads the Slytherins and he does it well, so we all respect him. Not only because he would punish us if we didn't obey, but also because he has often proven that he deserves our loyalty. Hermione is just as respected, even if the others don't know who they are dealing with. Otherwise, they would certainly not respect and fear her as much as they do. Or they might die of terror after the shock and the realization who taught them to fear her. In the end, she is number two in Slytherin, there is no way around it!"
I saw that Daphne looked at Harry very insistently, but Harry's face showed only incomprehension. Somehow understandable, since I, a Gryffindor, should be number two among our arch-enemy, the Slytherins. That was inconceivable.
"Each one of us knows where he stands, that's the way it is and we live well with it. It hasn't just disadvantages because Draco would also stand up for us. Really, you have to believe me. If someone from the other Houses does something against us, then he fights for us. It is his house!"
I noted that Harry had been absent during her last words, probably hadn't properly taken them in. Now, he turned away from Daphne and to me. His head must be spinning.
"Hermione, what does she mean by the fact that you're number two in Slytherin?" he asked skeptically. "I want to know everything. You promised me honesty and slowly I get the feeling that our conversation earlier only scratched the surface. Well..! It can't get any more shocking than that... Right?"
He vehemently demanded that I made good on my promise and I relented. I had promised him, after all. It was a good thing that he didn't have the slightest idea how horrifying it would get if I actually told him everything.
I swallowed with difficulty. It was time for another confession. However, before I could say anything Draco addressed me.
"Maybe you should just show him..."
I thought about it for a second. That was perhaps the easiest way, albeit the most painful. Resolutely, I pulled my wand and pointed it at my face. I spoke the incantation and gradually transfigured myself into the blonde Abraxina who looked so similar to Draco. The Twins, Blaise and the sisters remained calm, while Draco grinned joyfully and nastily. Yes, he was having fun. He liked to see Harry unsettled even further.
Waiting, I watched Harry and witnessed how he first looked confused, then surprised and then horrified. Finally, he stuttered when he recognized me slowly but surely:
"That... that was you... in Hogsmeade? You... Malfoy... protected you from... from us? But... why?"
I turned back in a hurry. The longer I stayed transfigured, the more painful was the reversal. I grimaced and rubbed over the skin of my face. That had really hurt. Harry watched all this like a hawk.
"How do you do that?" he asked. I was about to answer, when something seemed to come to his mind that made horror re-appear on his face. "Snape also covered for you! He didn't seem surprised. He knows that too, doesn't he? He's in on it," he whispered. I had said that Harry wasn't stupid, unfortunately.
I sighed resignedly. Another secret he had revealed. But now I finally got to answer him.
"Well, these are Transfiguration spells. With a little practice, it's not that difficult. Snape, he's another story, but he's Draco's godfather, so it's logical that he knows his girlfriend. And why? I couldn't always walk through the common room of the Slytherins with a hood and a cloak when I wanted to visit Draco and out of the circumstances arose this idea. The Slytherins wouldn't let me in when I wanted to see Draco one night and he wasn't there yet. After that, he introduced me as Abraxina and made it clear to the Slytherins that they had to respect me as much as they had to respect him. They think I'm a Malfoy, which makes sense considering the outward appearance."
After my explanation, I looked at Harry and waited. I was curious to see how he would react, yet he surprised me.
At first, he seemed to be pondering my words to ask eventually:
"Why you didn't reveal yourself in Hogsmeade is understandable, but why did you let it escalate like that? Although I should be shocked that my best friend goes in and out of the Slytherin common room, almost seems to be one of them, somehow it can't shock me today anymore. Even that with Snape... When I think back to the evening in his rooms, I now understand much better why you knew each other; why you seemed so familiar. Too much has been revealed to me today. Just tell me: will it get any worse?"
I decided to reveal even more to Harry today for it didn't matter anymore. Most importantly, he already knew a good part of the story.
I jumped up to go to the safe and when I came back with my treasures, everyone looked attentively at me.
"Some of you know that I went to Godric's Hollow and others know that I've visited the DoM before. If I always have to tell everything from the beginning, I will get grey hair. Since Draco knows everything, it might make sense for you to bring yourselves up to speed with each other and then ask questions. That would be the easiest. This applies to everything, not just for this one topic," I said, holding up my loot.
"Well, these are my treasures. Here is a picture of Dumbledore showing him and his lover. Yes Fred, George, the great Dumbledore is gay, too," I snickered spitefully. Suddenly, Harry put his wine glass down forcefully, staring at the two boys. He looked at them with big eyes for a few moments and then muttered:
"So that's why. Of course! How could I be so blind?" He hit his forehead and everyone looked at him with bemusement.
"What do you mean, Harry?" Daphne asked irritatedly.
"In a moment. You're a couple, aren't you? That's why you never had a girlfriend," he said, shocked, dryly, "and you knew that, didn't you? You never miss anything". He looked at me now, but I only shrugged my shoulders.
"Yes, Harry, we stand by it. You're right," George boldly admitted now, "the handsome and I, we're not just brothers," he admitted defiantly and Fred visibly puffed up his chest.
In reaction, Astoria squeaked and Daphne nodded gracefully. She seemed to have guessed it already.
"Really? ... Wicked," Astoria said, impressed, and thumped Fred's thigh.
"I agree with her, it's totally wicked. Ron is gonna go nuts," Harry predicted relatively calmly, while he still only seemed slightly disbelieving. "But what shocks me far more than that you're more than brothers - even if I have to sleep on this realization for another night for it to settle in - what the hell are you doing here? Malfoy? You laugh with Malfoy?! Say, have I gone mad? How come?" He vehemently took aim at the Twins and stared them down. The two redheads remained surprisingly cool, although strangely serious for the both of them.
"Harry, we are very happy and it means a lot to Fred and me that despite our confession you react so calmly and don't condemn us from the beginning. We know that our family might see it differently. But now to your next question: Why Malfoy? Well, even if he doesn't like to hear it, he's a nice, cool guy - ah-ah-ah, let me finish! - if he wants to. We like him and are grateful to him that he is such a support for our Hermione here and also let's us get close to him. You must learn to look behind the masks! And he is really funny. We all spent the last Christmas here together," George explained unusually vehemently when Fred interrupted him.
"Blimey, Harry, it's a pity that you weren't here at the time. That was so awesome! Draco had-" Fred started talking a mile a minute, wonderfully over-excited, ready to tell him everything. I chuckled lightly. I was recalling the chaotic but beautiful holiday when Draco, apparently too flustered by it, intervened. I would have done the same in his place. There were some things that happened under the influence of whiskey intoxication that might embarrass Draco in hindsight.
"Now back to the subject... I haven't seen that yet," Draco called us back to the point and, obediently, I first handed the picture of the two young men to Harry who studied it attentively and didn't press for any more information, for which I was grateful.
"Who was the lover?" Blaise asked farsightedly.
"Grindelwald, Gellert Grindelwald," I stated gravely, which caused the girls, the Twins and Blaise to freeze. Draco, on the other hand, didn't show any emotion, while Harry seemed close to fainting because actually seeing it was something quite different than just hearing it.
"For real? Bloody hell. That's Grindelwald, THE Gellert Grindelwald, in his youth?"
"Wow, he looked hot!"
"Yes, well worth a sin," were the usable statements out of the jumbled exclamations coming from George and Fred. Fred laughed throatily.
"Potter, give me that stupid photo already," Draco demanded impatiently and Harry in fact offered it to him, somehow lethargic.
When the excitement about this new realization subsided, I told him everything. About the genealogy, the family history and the still to be read children's book with the sign that appeared again and again. Draco and Harry, who knew the most, nevertheless listened to everything very carefully.
Finally, Astoria began to yawn politely behind her hand.
"I think we should all go to bed," Draco suggested, and almost everyone knew that this was not a suggestion, but an order.
Everyone rose, as if on a cue. Only Harry still seemed to have problems with it when Daphne put her hand on his shoulder. One thing had to be said, two strong leaders like Harry and Draco didn't have it easy. There were going to be other interesting fights for dominance in the future because Harry was also someone who, even if unconsciously, always wanted to take the lead and that was probably the root of the problem.
Harry wasn't aware that he always strived for this intuitively. Draco, on the other hand, was always one hundred percent aware of the fact that he was pursuing this position, and then they clashed with each other.
"Come on, Harry, I'll show you your room. You share yours with Blaise," we heard her announce as they disappeared. I had linked arms with Draco and walked around the garden with him, enjoying having him by my side.
"Thank you, Draco, for not bewitching Harry,' I said, nuzzling his arm.
"For you, always, darling." He kissed my hair and steered me to the door. "Come, tomorrow is going to be exhausting, we should sleep!"
"I wanted to buy Harry a new wand," I dropped quickly.
"I'll send Blaise and the Twins to get one with him," he stated decidedly.
"But that's far too dangerous! I'll have to -" I objected strongly and he interrupted me just as harshly.
"Enough! You don't have to. If you leave it be, I'll go with them, but that's the end of it," he decreed, pulling me into the house and longingly into bed.