Who: Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger and Severus Snape
Where: 12 Grimmauld Place, London
What: Hermione greets a surprise visitor to 12 Grimmauld PLace and receives a startling request from Snape.
Watch for: Hermione's quick reflexes
Having settled things with Harry out in the garden, Hermione headed back towards the old house. She had just got inside and had peeked into the kitchen where she saw Snape and Lupin talking quietly. She drew back hastily,not wanting to disturb the two men. She reached the stairs when the doorbell rang.
Above the shrieks of Mrs. Black echoing in her ears she reached the door and flung it open. Her jaw dropped. "Malfoy?" she gritted out. "What are you doing here?"
For a brief second, Draco Malfoy looked surprised to see Hermione there. "Granger. I should have known. How have you been?" he asked. Hermione narrowed her eyes at him but couldn't help shivering a bit against his stare. It had been months since she last saw him and she had never expected in a million years that she would find him in front of her very home.
"I didn't know you cared, either way," she responded warily.
"There's a lot even you don't know, Granger," Draco answered, looking hard at her. He had been so out of touch with everyone that she didn't even know she was here at Grimmauld Place, living with Potter and Weasley no less. He hadn't been prepared to meet her again this soon. "There's a lot of things even you don't know, Granger. But of course, I didn't come to chat. I was told Severus Snape was here and I'd like to see him," Draco told her.
However, just as Hermione was about to reply, Severus Snape himself emerged from the shadows behind her, followed closely by Remus Lupin.
Hermione hesitated, then said, coolly, 'As you can see, Malfoy,he's still here.' She started to turn to go up the stairs, then turned her head to look at him over her shoulder. 'By the way, Malfoy, in answer to your question, never better.' She smirked at his confused took and trudged up the stairs, leaving the three men staring after her.
Snape raised an eyebrow, watching with a small amount of curiosity as a very smug Hermione disappeared from view. Once she was gone, he turned his attention back to the young man still standing in the doorway. He was aware of Lupin quietly excusing himself. However, his focus was more on Draco than anything else. Having not seen him since the final battle, Snape wasn't quite sure what to say.
Finally, he managed to reclaim some of his usual cool-natured persona, raised an eyebrow, and drawled, "Well Draco, this is certainly a surprise. To what do I owe this impromptu visit?"
Draco looked directly in the eyes of his former Head of House and silently counted to three. He'd come far enough; he had to do it now. "Well, Professor, I know it's been awhile, but I need your help. You know that after all that's happened, there isn't anyone else that I can trust." Draco paused then, and waited to see how Snape would respond to this, but nodded for him to continue. "So, as it is, I've just returned from China, after being abroad for a few months. Anyway, now that I'm back and the Manor has been successfully liquidated, I am in need of a place to stay. Normally, I'd rent out a room at the Leaky Cauldron, but because of my businesses, I need a more stable place to set up. In any case, I was wondering if there was a spare room left at your manor, professor? It'll only be temporary of course; I'm confident I can afford my own place soon enough." Draco knew that his rather bold request for housing would come as a bit of shock to Snape; after all, he did have to compromise his own pride and spent many sleepless nights contemplating this move to get here.
For a moment, all Snape could do was stare. Surely this wasn't the same young man that he'd watched grow from a child? No, that Draco would never have dared to ask such a bold request. Of course, that Draco would also have embraced the Dark Lord and most likely died while trying to kill every Muggle and Muggleborn he'd come across.
Finally, realizing that he was still staring, Snape blinked and cleared his throat. As much as he hated to do this, he really didn't have much choice. The Manor was hardly inhabitable at the moment, and he really wasn't comfortable having someone who was obviously walking such a precarious line between right and wrong, Dark and Light, staying within close proximity of him. Especially considering he walked the same path on a daily basis.
So, it was with a rather heavy heart, he calmly replied, "I'm afraid that isn't an option at this moment, Draco." Quickly, he tried to come up with another solution, one which would ease his conscience as well as provide the young Mr. Malfoy with a place to live. However, all he could manage was a rather feeble, "I do apologize, but it isn't possible."
Hearing Snape's dreaded response sent Draco's heart sinking into bottomless despair. This man had really been his last hope. He knew without proper accommodation, he wouldn't be able to sustain himself and run his new enterprises at the same time. Well, he wasn't giving up yet. "Are you definite, Professor? You know I wouldn't normally do this, but I really hate having to plead like this. He never went around begging for sympathy and hadn't counted on this moment being his first time. "Look, if I can't stay at your place, perhaps there is another place you know of that has some available accommodation?" Draco decided to add in a more business-like tone. Surely, Snape must know someone somewhere who'd have him. He glanced once more at the older man's face and stared hard into his eyes. His efforts have never proved fruitless in the end, and as his grey eyes begged the silent question he could never allow to pass his lips, he knew then that he must succeed.
Upstairs, Hermione put down her textbooks and looked at her watch. Damn, it was dinnertime already and she'd promised to cook the dinner tonight. I hope Malfoy isn't still down there, she thought. She went down the stairs. Damn, he was still there. Must make the best of it. She sighed and went out into the entryway.
'Professor Lupin.' she greeted the older man. 'I'm going to go cook some dinner now. Would you please let Harry know?' She turned to Snape and queried politely, 'And you, Professor Snape? Will you be staying for supper, then?' She didn't even look at Malfoy.
Snape barely glanced at Hermione, his mind clearly on the situation with Draco. Something he wasn't used to feeling, guilt, was welling up inside of him. Hadn't he once told this young man to come to him whenever needed? Hadn't he made a personal vow to help Draco do whatever was necessary to avoid following in his elders footsteps?
Then, didn't he owe it to Draco, as well as himself, to do something, anything, to assist him?
The only problem was, what? And, it was as he was pondering this, and looking at Hermione, that he made the connection.
What was wrong with Grimmauld Place?
Well, Snape could immediately think of several things, and most of them had to do with Gryffindors, a werewolf, and a certain Boy Who Never Seemed to Die. But, if Draco was in such dire need of shelter, then none of that should really matter to him. At least, not to the point that he would choose living on the streets over staying there. Which meant that all Snape had to do was convince the overly caring Ms. Granger to offer Draco a place to stay for a short period of time. That shouldn't be too incredibly difficult. She was, after all, a nice person. And nice people offered help to others, didn't they?
So, instead of replying about dinner, he instead got a small smirk on his face, and questioned, "Ms. Granger, may I have a word with you in the kitchen, please?"
Hermione wondered what on earth he wanted. Well the only way to find out would be to let him tell her. So she nodded at him and said quietly, 'Of course, Professor. This way, if you please.' And she led the way into the large kitchen.
She looked at him and said, 'Do take a seat, Professor.' He declined with his usual sneer,and they both stood; she feeling that now she was no longer at Hogwarts she could meet him on equal footing. 'Well, Professor? You had something to discuss with me?'
Draco watched as Snape and Hermione made their way towards the kitchen without so much as another word to him. Since Snape hadn't actually responded to his second attempt, he figured he'd just remain outside and wait until the man came back. However, he had a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that whatever it was that Snape was consulting with Granger, and he had a sneaking suspicion that it most definitely had to do with him.
Sighing, Snape resisted the urge to snap at her for her casual attitude toward him. Reminding himself that he was no longer her professor, and therefore had no real means by which to threaten or intimidate her, he knew he was going to have to 'play nice' if he was going to get what he was after. So, forcing a halfway pleasant expression on his face, he began speaking. "It seems that Mr. Malfoy currently has no place to stay. And, as Mr. Potter has effectively left all decisions concerning this house and life in general up to everyone but himself, I have chosen to come to you with a...favor, if you will."
Hermione didn't bat an eye even if hell had just frozen over. 'What kind of favor?'
Snape bit back a comment about her supposedly being so smart, and instead forced his voice to remain even as he stated, "I would like to ask, on Draco's behalf, that he be allowed to stay here until he manages to secure himself a place to stay elsewhere." As an afterthought, he added, "If it wouldn't be too much trouble, of course."
Hermione felt as if her eyes were bulging out of their sockets. Malfoy? Here? She stared at him, shocked.
He stared back at her, his black eyes revealing no emotion.
She found her voice again. 'But Professor, why here?'
For the fifteenth time, the ever-impatient Draco checked his watch. What the hell was taking Snape so bloody long in there? The man was never much of a conversationalist. Anyhow, the weather was freezing and Draco hated being kept waiting like this. What if Potter or Weasley decided to show up now, and found him standing there looking like a lost fool? Shaking his head, Draco decided he might as well invite himself in and perhaps head over to the kitchen doors where he could conveniently eavesdrop on Snape and Hermione's conversation. So without further hesitation, Draco stepped inside the dark entryway of Grimmauld Place and closed the door softly behind him. Turning towards the kitchen, he stealthily crept towards it's closed wooden doors, not making even a hint of a sound. Once there, he very gently pressed his ear against the door- just in time to hear Snape ask Hermione Granger, the best friend of his loathed enemy, whether or not she will allow him to stay with them. The horror of his professor's action hit Draco harder than anything he'd experienced lately- so much so that he burst through the doors in the very next instant.
Hermione swung around, her wand in her hand. Her reflexes, honed by the war, were in full play. Snape could only be impressed by such a show of dexterity as he hadn't even seen her reach for the wand. However, she was not so easily impressed.
'Malfoy!' she yelled. 'What in bloody hell were you doing? I could have stunned you, you know!' Draco was still on the floor, his normally pale face now quite red. His utter humiliation was now complete, He only wanted to find a place to stay and leave, preferably as soon as possible and before Potter would arrive to see his downfall.
Hermione drew back her wand and turned to Snape. "With all due respect, Professor, I think you'd better tell me what it is you need of me, so I can get on with it.'
Snape raised an eyebrow, amazed that he was managing to keep such a straight face through the turn of events. Glancing at Draco, he quietly stated, "Draco, perhaps you should stand up before someone comes in and sees you in such a precarious situation. Then, instead of attempting to eavesdrop at the door like a first year, you can join in this conversation, as it concerns you far more than me."
Once Draco was back on his feet, Snape looked at Hermione. "As I said, Ms. Granger, I believe that the easiest solution to Draco's problem is to allow him to stay here for a small period of time. My home is currently inhabitable, and I do not see the need to spend money on a room somewhere, when there are entire floors of this place that are going unused. I'm certain, if you ask Mr. Potter, he won't care in the slightest, as he has seemed to have lost feeling on most anything these days. And, with your persuasion, Mr. Weasley would eventually agree to this arrangement as well. Lupin could hardly care less, I"m certain, provided that Draco doesn't attempt to stab him with anything silver during a full moon. Which leaves the decision in your capable hands."
"Wait a minute there!" Draco interjected before Hermione or Snape could utter another word. "I'm the one looking for a place here...I should have a say as well on where it would be, and I definitely did not intend on it being here!" he shouted, face half-burning from shame and humiliation, and the other half flaming with anger.
Snape spun toward the young man, his eyes narrowed to virtual slits. When he spoke, it was with a tone that he'd normally reserved for people who had crossed him. Or any student who wasn't in Slytherin. Never before had he used the tone on Draco, and he didn't enjoy having to use it now. However, the fact was that Draco's pride was getting in the way of common sense, and he refused to allow that to happen.
So, in a low, dangerous voice, he hissed, "Mr. Malfoy, I do believe you came to me requesting help. In fact, you specifically asked if I knew of anywhere that you could stay. Now, I have done as you asked, and found a temporary solution to your plight, provided of course that Ms. Granger agrees. So, unless you wish to leave here and spend the remainder of your life on the streets, you will be grateful for any place that is wiling to take you in."
Slowly, a smirk filled his face, and he finished with, "Unless, of course, Lucius has suddenly decided to, once again, reclaim you as his son and thereby providing you with shelter and funds?"
Hermione watched as Draco's face drained of all colour. She suddenly saw him as he truly was just then, a man who'd reached the end of his rope, with nowhere else to go. He might be a git, but he was a fellow human being and as such, she could not turn him out with no resources.
She sighed and turned to Snape. 'Well, it seems I have no choice, Professor,' she said quietly. His face relaxed a fraction, as if she'd relieved his mind.
She turned to Draco, 'Malfoy,' she bit off. 'You can stay here. However' she rode over the words she saw were forming. 'Here are a few ground rules:
One, you must agree to NEVER snipe at Harry or Ron or pick fights. Agreed?'
He didn't nod or say anything.
She said again, angrily, 'Do you agree? Because if you don't, you don't stay here.'
"Good, then. Second rule - you must treat Professor Lupin with the respect due him.;' and she looked at him again to see if he agreed. He nodded.
'Good, third and last rule - you'll have to share in the chores around here - you know, help us clean the place out, that sort of thing.'
He had a look of horror on his face and his voice sounded strangled.
"You mean,... you mean... do the chores like a...a.. house elf?'
Hermione glared at him. 'We're none of us layabouts. Malfoy. We all share and share alike here.'
He still stared at her. She tapped her foot impatiently.
He finally nodded mutely apparently still too traumatized to say anything.
She turned to Snape and nodded. 'All right, Professor. He can stay.'
Draco could not believe the events that just transpired. It was beyond his comprehension how his previously normal day had turned into an invitation to Gryffindor hell. If only he could sink into one of the tiles on the floor and be rid of the calculating eyes of Hermione Granger poring through his skin. "I...er...this isn't..." Draco began but mentally kicked and insulted himself for sounding like Neville Longbottom. If this was the way things must be, fine. He'll just have to make sure those goblins sign his business deals by the end of next week, then he'd have enough dough to get himself out of this mess. "Never mind, whatever. When can I move in?"
Snape's lips formed a thin line as he watched Draco fall back into the role of Slytherin Prince that had carried him through the majority of his life. He knew that, if Draco was going to actually last through the night, he was going to have to bite his tongue. However, he wasn't in any position to tell the young man that. After all, he was no longer his Head of House. And he certainly wasn't his father.
So, instead he tipped his head toward Hermione. "I thank you, Ms. Granger. I'm certain that Draco will follow the rules you have set down. If he doesn't, feel free to cast him to the streets. Or contact me, and I will do so." Pulling himself up to this full height, he looked from one to the other. "Now, if you both will excuse me, I really must be going. I have some Wolfsbane to make."
And, with that, he turned on his heel and left, shutting the door behind him. As he walked down the steps, Snape couldn't help but smile. Perhaps Draco Malfoy had a chance, after all. For, if Hermione Granger was willing to assist him when virtually no one else would, there might just be hope yet.
Hermione looked up at the clock and then back at Draco, who was still standing there in his cloak.
'Malfoy, i have to start cooking now. Why don't you take your cloak off and help me set up the table?' She suddenly realized he was a total loss. She huffed, and then said, 'Humph, I suppose there's a first time for everything.'
Draco wanted to die from utter mortification. Setting up the table like a housemaid! What a disgrace. Oh, he'll get them back for this one day. "Alright Granger, I'll do my deal with the chores. But first, I only think it's fair if I go and retrieve my belongings from the Leaky Cauldron first. I'll be back in ten minutes," Draco said and turned on his heels. Just before exiting the kitchen though, he stopped in his tracks. Then slowly and a bit unsteadily, he whipped his head around to look back at Hermione and their gazes met. "By the way...thank you," he muttered quickly, then Apparated out of the house, leaving a stunned Hermione with her mouth slightly agape.