Anyway, the fangirls have spoken and they want to go to... MALFOY MANOR! Their wish is our command. Join Severus and Hermione as they head off to Wiltshire to visit Lucius.
Want to give Hermione a run for her money in the know-it-all field? Simply play the quiz by commenting on this post with your answers at any time over the weekend. All comments with answers will be screened until the answer sheet is posted on Monday morning EDT. On Monday, all quizzlings with the correct answers will receive a pretty banner to prove their quiz prowess. Ready? Set? Play!
Match the quotes to the story titles without picking the red herring titles:
Murder Most Fowl by m_mcgonagall_65
The Beginner's Guide to Breeding Peacocks by shiv5468
Touch the Dark by dreamy_dragon73
For Hogwarts: A Regency Gamble by subversa
Three Scoops of Vanilla by pigwidgeon37
A Taxing Affair by dickgloucester
Lavender by persevero
Stolen Moments by luvsev
The Blameless Vestal's Lot by mundungus42
Expectations by scatteredlogic
Triangular Tangle by dreamy_dragon73
Ye Gentlewizard's Guide to Courtshippe & Matrimonie by gingertart50
1. ‘Would you care for some tea?’
‘No, thank you. I’d prefer if you could show me the library.’ Hermione was aware that her answer was bordering on rudeness, but the less she had to do with Lucius Malfoy the better, though she had to admit that he improved considerably when he wasn’t sneering at her. But then, the man’s charms were almost as legendary as his schemes.
Lucius nodded. ‘As you wish. Will you require guest quarters? I’ll be happy to have a room prepared for you.’
Hermione flinched at the thought of staying in his house over night. ‘No, thank you, I’ll be going home in the evening.’
‘Very well, I’ll adjust the wards so that you can Apparate directly to the manor. Unless, of course, you’d prefer to walk from the gates?’ His polite tone hadn’t changed, but one of his eyebrows had arched upward a fracture of an inch.
So he was aware of her reserve towards him. Good.
‘Thank you, that would be very convenient.’
Lucius politely led the way to the library. When Hermione entered the room, she drew a breath. She had heard a lot about it, but nothing had prepared her for the view that greeted her. Every wall was lined with bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling. Several more bookcases were placed throughout the room. The pale afternoon light filtered in through three large windows in one of the walls. A dark table adorned with two candelabras graced the centre of the room, with several very comfortable looking chairs placed around it. In one corner, Hermione could see a sofa that just seemed to invite one to curl up on it with a book. As in Lucius’s study, the flames in the fireplace served to keep the room pleasantly warm while they infused it with a soft light. Full of appreciation, Hermione let her eyes roam along the seemingly endless shelves of books. The room had the typical, very slightly musty smell of well-kept old books that was so wonderful to book lovers everywhere and that no airing could drive away. Hermione inhaled deeply. Life suddenly did look a lot more promising.
2. "I'm glad you've decided to walk up," Lucius commented. "I do love showing the grounds to guests, and, of course, you may wander around freely while you are staying here."
Harry, never very subtle, raised his eyebrows at this claim. He had heard discussions over the years of what objects of Dark magic might be hidden at Malfoy Manor.
Lucius drawled, "You mustn't believe everything you hear, Mr Potter. I'd be foolish indeed to invite the Director of the Department of Investigation and two of the Ministry's top Aurors to stay here if I had Dark objects on the premises. The rumours of my stash of evil objects are highly overblown, I assure you."
"That's very reassuring, Lucius," Severus said blandly.
A small smile appeared on Lucius's face as he said, "Point taken, Severus."
The lane they were following curved gracefully through the extensive park. The tall, manicured yew hedge ran along one side of the lane. On the other side, Hermione could see a number of formal gardens and a hedge maze. A fountain was gurgling nearby. The manor house spread out before them, its limestone facade gleaming in the sunlight. The large central portion of the house was flanked by a long wing on either side. Its sheer bulk was imposing, and the feeling of fear Hermione had been trying to suppress began to surface.
Suddenly, a loud squawk sounded from the right. Hermione gave a little squeak, looking around frantically.
"What was that?" Ron asked while Harry slipped his wand into duelling position with a quick flick of his wrist.
Severus leaned towards Hermione and pointed to the top of the yew hedge. A pure white peacock was perched there. It squawked again before spreading its wings and gliding to the ground. Fanning its tail feathers, it bristled angrily. "No need for heroics, Potter. Lucius can handle the peacock."
Lucius Malfoy walked slowly toward the peacock, speaking in a soothing tone. "Shhh, now, Brutus. No one is trying to attack you or take your harem."
3. Hermione stared in astonishment at the opulent scene before her. When they'd first arrived, the ballroom had seemed empty and cavernous. Now it was filled with conversation, music, and people. Hermione had thought Bill and Fleur's wedding had been rather grand, but this gathering redefined the word.
The ball shared a few similarities with the wedding- there were bottles of champagne bobbing through the crowd, but here, there were also floating bottles containing every beverage she could think of. Instead of uniformed waiters, trays of delectable hors d'ouevres floated alongside the bottles, presumably to indicate recommended pairings of food and drink.
"Oh look!" exclaimed Luna, pointing at a champagne bottle. "The Gnoolies are here already! I'm going to catch one for Daddy!"
Without waiting for a reply, Luna loped off after a champagne bottle that was refilling glasses along the edge of the room. The ballroom was lined with dark velvet chaises, sofas, divans, and benches, interspersed with marble tables, all in sober and elegant contrast to the rickety golden chairs the Weasleys had hired. The tables held vases filled with exotic flowers, which were subtly lit with fairies. The ceiling too was filled with hundreds of glowing fairies, who swirled around the crystal chandeliers, suffusing the surroundings with a flattering half light.
On Hermione's right, an impossibly long buffet table was decked with sumptuous fruits, pastries in precipitous and fantastic shapes, cheeses that gleamed beneath crystal domes, seafood on ice, and preserved meats in paper-thin slices.
All aspects of the gathering spoke of wealth, privilege, and impeccable taste, but what took Hermione's breath away was the swirl of costumed men and women who flashed and sparkled in every color of the rainbow, faces obscured by masks both beautiful and grotesque. Skulls grinned, fools leered, and beasts of every description swept past her as the music pulsed intoxicatingly, and she found herself stepping onto the dance floor as if in a dream.
Suddenly, her foot slipped out from underneath her, and she started to fall, only to have her fall arrested by two strong arms under hers.
"Really, Ms. Gr- rather, Heloise," admonished a warm voice in her ear, "you ought to know better than to cross the dance floor alone."
4. Severus stood beside Lucius in the main tack room, his attention riveted by the passage taking place betwixt Draco and Miss Granger. He couldn’t say he cared for her appearance in the heavy riding habit. It covered every inch of her—why, she even wore a white shirt and a cravat with it, much like a man’s!—and the hat was not feminine at all, save for the frivolous plume of feathers protruding from it. But he very much wanted her ahorse—wanted to ride beside her through the fields. He couldn’t have said why this was so—but there were many impulses he was having lately which he could not explain—and all of them seemed to stem from his association with her.
‘Good job, Draco,’ Lucius said aloud, and Severus saw Draco toss the girl into the saddle. He showed her how to hold her reins and began to lead the horse through the stable, toward the sunlit courtyard where the riders were gathering for their lesson.
Severus hung the beaver hat he’d been carrying on a wall peg and strode through the door.
Lucius plucked it up and strolled after him. ‘You’re supposed to wear the hat, old boy,’ he said, smiling.
Severus swung up into the saddle of his black Arabian stallion, and Apollyon danced beneath him, eager to be away. ‘I don’t wear hats,’ he said. ‘Leticia misplaced hers—see if she wants it.’
‘But what are you going to do in a beginner’s riding lesson?’ Lucius demanded, amused.
Severus looked down his nose at his laughing friend. ‘I shall pick up some pointers, of course,’ he replied, and allowed Apollyon to make his way towards the sunlight.
5. Lucius stood at the window of the smaller breakfast parlour, cradling a cup of Lapsang Souchong in his long fingers and inhaling the smoky fragrance. The remnants of his breakfast were scattered across the impeccable linen of the tablecloth, along with the Daily Prophet, which he had as usual skimmed, sneered at, and tossed aside. He was currently indulging in the guilty pleasure of the Times cryptic crossword, despite the frustration of having to keep the answers in his head. The shoddy blotting paper it was printed on spread the ink too much to let him fill it in.
It was a perfect early autumn morning. The sun was taking the morning chill off the air, birds were singing, light was sparkling on the ornamental ponds, and one of the peacocks added a perfect accent to the smooth expanse of lawn. He winced as it shrieked. He'd only ever kept them to annoy Narcissa – the pinched look she got when they screeched or crapped on the terraces was most entertaining – but now she was gone he found they annoyed him just as much.
He sighed. What to do? What to do? It was all very well being rich enough to do whatever he wanted without reflection, but being spoilt for choice had spoiled him for choosing. He was not in the mood for reviewing his investments and other business projects, none of his usual hobbies held any appeal, he wasn't allowed to crush any minions these days (especially with the introduction of Elf unions), and Draco, spending a year or two on the Magic faculty at Harvard while overseeing the spread of the Malfoy empire in the Americas, was unavailable for either argument or condescension. Time was, he would have donned his cloak, picked up his cane, and gone to London to stir up a little excitement at the Ministry or the club, but ever since the War, Lucius Malfoy had been persona non grata. True, he had been able to present evidence that during the Dark Lord's final year he had leaked as much information as he dared to the Order, but as far as social acceptance was concerned, fence-sitting cut no mustard.
Bored, bored, bored.
6. "Since Scorpius is determined to have the young witch," Lucius said to his son, "and she is apparently cognisant of the honour that he is bestowing, the next step is the announcement of the betrothal. Oh, do stop smirking, Draco!"
"I'll take out an ad in the Prophet, shall I?" Draco asked as his wife's Kneazle kitten attempted to paw his quill out of his hand. "Persephone, stop it or I'll shut you outside."
"Certainly not!" Lucius snapped. "Malfoys do these things properly! No, we'll throw a grand ball to celebrate the happy event."
"Really?" Draco turned in his seat to stare at his father. Persephone took the opportunity to seize his quill and scampered away with it clamped between her jaws. An elf gave a squeal of alarm on seeing the trail of ink-spots and set off in pursuit of the errant feline. "Here, Father?"
"There hasn't been a formal ball here since I was very young," Draco mused. "I'm surprised, that's all."
Lucius drew himself up to his full, impressive height and twirled his cane. "Then it is about time we had one, is it not? Kindly ask Astoria if she and her sister are interested in making the domestic arrangements, or whether she would prefer me to enquire of your Aunt Andromeda."
"Knowing Astoria and Daphne, they'll love every minute of it, but I'll check with them."
"Good. I shall draw up a provisional guest list and speak with Dworkin." He turned and strode out, calling for his head elf.
7. Two men—one dark, one light—were standing above a sumptuously decorated bed, watching the still-unconscious form of Hermione Granger. Although her breathing was even, the men had worry lines etched in their weary faces.
‘Do you think she will wake any time soon, Lucius?’ Severus asked as he removed a stray, honey-coloured curl from Hermione’s wan face.
‘That depends, Severus. I’m not entirely sure if she is still passed out from Lestrange’s curse, or if it’s pure shock at this point. Either way, she shan’t be unconscious long.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Why so concerned, Severus? She was only your student.’
Severus looked at him and shook his head. ‘You don’t understand, Lucius.’
‘Then explain it to me,’ Lucius said, looking at him pointedly.
‘Look, she’s waking up,’ Lucius interrupted and then gestured to Hermione, whose eyes briefly fluttered.
As soon as her eyes sprang open, she saw the two men and began to scream as loudly as she could. Severus took a step towards her and tried to sit down on the bed.
‘NO, DON’T YOU COME ANY CLOSER!’ Hermione screamed loudly enough to make Lucius wince.
‘Hermione, calm down; it’s just me. It’s Severus,’ he said softly.
‘NO! I don’t know who you are, but you cannot be Severus. I... I saw him die not more than a month ago,’ Hermione said as she started to cry.
8. A dizzying moment later, she stood in the entrance hall of Malfoy Manor. White marble gleamed underfoot, and a crystal chandelier blazed with light. The pastoral landscapes on the white-plastered walls were devoid of figures, so there were no curious eyes to watch their arrival. Gilded objets d'art were placed around the foyer, and elegant chairs with slender legs and brocaded seats offered a fatigued guest a moment's rest.
A house elf wearing a pristine tea towel appeared and silently took their cloaks.
Hermione frowned. "I don't approve of--"
"Yes, I recall your ill-fated attempts to free the house elves," Severus interrupted. "It was the talk of the staff room for months. You have no idea how badly you upset the elves or how difficult you made things for everyone else. However, I have mentioned your aversion to Lucius. Your interaction with house elves will be kept to a minimum tonight."
She opened her mouth to reply, but before she could speak, Lucius strode toward them. "I see you've arrived safely."
"Yes, thank you. Your home is lovely," she said, and she meant it. It was a little too opulent for her tastes, but it was beautiful.
Lucius smiled, clearly pleased at the compliment and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. "Shall we go in to dinner?"
She nodded and glanced at Severus, who smirked at her, and she allowed herself to be led into the dining room.
9. Severus shrugged. "She'll be here. I've never known Hermione not to keep her word."
"I'm sure," Lucius bit out. "Unfortunately, our alibi won't look very convincing if she's seen in two places at once."
"What have you arranged?"
Lucius didn't reply, but shifted from foot to foot.
"Lucius?" Severus had a sinking feeling he wouldn't like the answer.
"All right." Lucius cast a glance over his shoulder, before leaning closer to say, "All three of us are having dinner at Malfoy Manor tonight. Draco will cast a glamour over himself and walk up to the front door, first as you, and then as Hermione."
Lucius stepped back, his hand resting on his pocket. "I gather that the Ministry are watching my house tonight in the belief that they might finally manage to secure some evidence that I have been perpetrating some wrong or other."
"And you gather this because..."
"I arranged for them to become aware of the potential for wrongdoing, and for them to raid the house at midnight or thereabouts. What better alibi can there be than for us all to be found dining together amiably by the Ministry Aurors themselves? It's unbreakable, or at the least bloody hard to get round. As if Aurors could be prevailed upon to lie."
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Severus said sourly.
10. The Manor lies sleeping but conscious, basking in the late morning sunshine.
Humans cannot hear its purr, be they wizards or Muggles. They can feel it, though; their limited senses perceive it as quiet contentment.
The House Elves can hear it as clearly as the voice of their Master commanding them to iron an invisible crease out of his semi-formal morning robes, or the breeze rustling softly in the curtains. The House Elves have the ability – unbeknownst to their Master – to talk to the Manor in a language mysterious to anybody but them.
This is why the Manor knows that, soon, there will be guests.
The highly polished parquet floors creak slightly as the Manor stretches contentedly, like a cat – the House Elves are excited, and they have just brought the latest news: more rooms are to be opened and aired and prepared for unexpected, early guests. Wizards and witches who will be spending days at the Manor, and nights.
The Manor senses the House Elves' eagerness, their anxiety, their loyalty. Then, an unusual note in the buzz of anticipation, a silvery note of... glee?
The Manor thrives on its occupants' emotions. The more sentient beings it holds between its walls, the stronger it grows. An expectant tremor runs through its walls and down to the foundations.
In the breakfast parlour, on a small rosewood table bristling with ornaments, a porcelain figurine of Cupid loses its precarious, tiptoe balance and topples a group of three miniature bronze statuettes – a nymph, a satyr and a stern-looking Charon – before it succumbs to gravity and falls backwards, taking with it a tiny, clay Hathor and a Baby Heracles wrangling a snake.