"I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday sweet and fragrant, between its leaves." - LM Montgomery, Anne of the Island

Chapter 3 – Let the Games Begin

Let the games begin, Hermione thought as she sat down at her desk, looking at five former Slytherins moving around her office. Blaise was looking mildly distracted (or bored?) as he sat down in the seat next to her desk, Adrian was fingering all her books on the wall to floor bookshelf (he'd better not get them out of order!). Marcus was sorting through the mail in her outbox (how rude!). Theo sat down in a chair in the corner of her office, closed his eyes, and folded his arms on his chest (was he sleeping?), and Draco Malfoy was smelling her roses (how odd).

She didn't know how she was going to get through this with this group of men, but she had never backed down from a challenge before, and she wasn't about to do so now.

"Gentlemen, shall we start?" she asked.

"I thought we were going to lunch," Theo remarked, eyes still closed, perfectly relaxed.

"We should get some work done first," Hermione pointed out. "And besides, its only a bit after ten o'clock."

"My stomach doesn't tell time," Theo replied, never opening his eyes. "It eats when it wants to eat."

Before she could comment, Draco asked, "What's with all the flowers, Granger?" He pointed to the vases of pink roses on her desk, her bookshelf, the mantel.

"I like flowers," she answered, rolling her eyes. "Can we just please start this meeting?"

"Who elected you as the head of this group?" Adrian asked her while moving to sit in the chair in front of her desk, next to Marcus. "I'm usually in charge of things." He knocked his elbow into Marcus' and said, "Tell her, Marcus. Tell her I'm usually in charge of things."

Marcus grinned and said, "He's usually in charge of things."

"Why is that?" Hermione wondered aloud. "Because you're the Under Secretary?"

Adrian laughed loudly, just as Marcus snorted and Blaise made a funny sound under his breath. "No, because I'm the eldest and the unofficial leader of this little group."

"We didn't elect him or anything," Draco pointed out, coming to sit on the left side of her desk. He picked up a folder on her desk and started to read through it. "He just came by it naturally."

Theo, eyes still shut, said, "He's a self-appointed despot."

She frowned at that statement and pulled the folder from Draco's hands. Before she could point out the fact that Mr. James AND Percy had asked her to help them – thus making her in charge in her opinion - Blaise said, "I'm in charge. This task was given to me, by my boss Warren James, who was hired by the Minister himself, and I'm the one who solicited Granger's help in the first place."

Now Marcus laughed. "That doesn't make you in charge. Let Granger do what she does best, boss everyone around, that way everyone will be happy." He turned to Hermione and said, "What's your plan, Granger?"

She leaned back in her chair. "Seeing how I've only known of this for less than an hour, I don't have any plans as of yet. However, we should brainstorm and come up with some ideas."

Theo, whose eyes were closed again, said, "You brainstorm. I'm too hungry. Maybe when you're finished we can go to lunch."

Draco, who had a smirk crossed with a grin on his face, asked the other man, "Why so tired, Nott? Late night last night?"

Theo smiled (eyes closed) and said, "It went into the early morn, so yes, late night in every sense."

"Excellent," Draco replied, still smiling.

Hermione felt like vomiting. "Shall we get back to things, gentlemen?"

"Yes, let's," Adrian said. "We need to think of things we can do to bring purebloods back into a better light."

"We could do something for some charity," Marcus suggested. "People always like it when they are given money, and Granger's the queen of charitable causes."

"Hence the reason I agreed to work with you lot," she responded lightly, "Although, that's not a half bad idea." Hermione bit her bottom lip, and then added, "But it will take more than that. I think we need to plan a big event – for charity – but in the interim, we need to get each and every one of you to do individual things that will help polish your tarnished reputations."

"My thoughts exactly," Blaise agreed.

"My reputation isn't tarnished, although I'll admit it's not as shiny as some," Draco said, "And what exactly do you have in mind, Granger?"

Hermione thought for a moment. "Do we know anyone connected with The Daily Prophet?"

Marcus said, "Blaise can help you there. His fourth stepfather still owns it, doesn't he Blaise?"

"He's my fifth stepfather, and yes, he owns it, and has a soft spot for me, even though he was only married to my mother for 72 days." He turned his gaze to Hermione. "And I like your thinking, Granger. We can have The Prophet report on all our good deeds, and Muggle influenced happenings. Brilliant."

"Muggle influenced happenings?" she mused aloud. "Fine, that taken care of, we need to decide what our big event should be."

"Can't we just pretend to be working on a big event?" Draco asked from her left side. "I don't want to actually do something good… wouldn't want to be labeled a do-gooder."

"No, much better to be deemed a pureblood elitist who disdains everything and everyone Muggleborn or half blood." She sighed louder after her statement.

"I'm so glad you understand, Granger," Draco joked.

Blaise leaned forward in his chair, "I have it! It's brilliant!"

"What is it?" Marcus inquired.

"We'll hold a ball, with all proceeds going to a charity that benefits Muggleborns. It could be a masquerade ball. And we'll make sure the charity is something worthy… something like a scholarship program for Muggleborns, or some other asinine thing."

"And we can all bring dates to the ball who AREN'T purebloods," Adrian chimed in.

"Do we know that many Muggleborns?" Theo asked, finally opening his eyes and sitting upright.

Hermione looked at him like he was insane. "Most of the girls we went to school with were half-blood or less, Nott."

"None that I associated with," he said sincerely. "I hate to burst your little Muggleborn bubble, but since we're all purebloods, we mainly only date purebloods, but not due to bigotry. It's mostly because we're all Slytherin, Granger. We had only purebloods in our house, so those are the girls in which we became acquainted."

"But I'm sure that's not true," she argued. "Severus Snape wasn't a pureblood, and he was in Slytherin. The sorting hat wanted to put Harry Potter in Slytherin, and he's a half-blood, too."

"I had no clue," Theo said sincerely.

Hermione turned to Adrian, "And I think that's a good idea, Adrian. We'll make sure you all show up with half-bloods or Muggleborns. That will help people to realize that not all purebloods only date purebloods."

She tapped her pen on her desk. "But there has to be more than that. We have to do more than just have a ball, and set you all up with dates that aren't purebloods. We need to start doing things everyday that will show you all in the best possible light. Good deeds are rewarded in many ways, you know?"

She stood. "I'll find a charity worthy of the proceeds from the ball, which we'll hold in one month's time," she said, walking back and forth behind her desk. "In the meanwhile, we'll need to figure out things we can do with each one of you that will dispute, or repudiate, claims that you're pureblood bigots. We'll refute all claims and bad press regarding your… your… well, purebloodness."

"Good luck with that," Draco mumbled under his breath.

Hermione sat back down and linked her hands together on her desk. "Let's start with something mundane." She turned to Marcus. "You're the vice chairman of the Board of Magical Games and Regulations, right?"

"Yes…" he drew out slowly.

"Let's do something with that," she said, slightly excited. "I propose we plan a sporting event, or a game, maybe a Muggle game, like a golf outing. It doesn't necessary have to be a charity event, but just something big, which will draw the attention of the press and the people. If people see a bunch of purebloods 'lowering' themselves to play a Muggle game, they will begin to see you all in a different light."

"Fine," Adrian agreed, "but not golf. For one thing, many purebloods play golf."

"Oh," she replied. "I didn't know that. Well, surely there's another game… cricket perhaps?"

"I've played cricket," Theo chimed in.

Hermione thought for a moment. "Polo?"

"We've all have ridden horses… grew up around them," Marcus answered. "Therefore, most of us have played polo before."

She sat back down in her seat. Scratching the side of her head, she said, "There must be something… something popular with Muggles, something urbane, yet common enough to show that you aren't all the pureblood snobs everyone knows you to be."

"Sounds to me as if she's a reverse snob," Draco said. "She thinks she's better than us, because she's a mud… I mean, Muggleborn." Draco smiled.

She glared at him. "My wand is itching to hex you to kingdom come, Malfoy."

"Settle children," Blaise said with a laugh. "I think I know the perfect game. Let's all meet tonight. I'll send you Owls with the location, and I'll also take care of letting the press know where we're meeting."

He switched his gaze to Hermione. "You bring a few of your friends, but make sure they're all Muggleborns or half-bloods, male or females, it won't matter."

"And what game do you have in mind?" Marcus asked. "I can't imagine what game we can play at night, besides Quidditch." He turned to the other men. "I mean, we can't play soccer, or cricket, or rugby, very easily at night. Neither could we play tennis or race motorcars. What's left?"

Blaise smiled slyly and said, "Bowling."

Hermione burst out laughing. "I said something urbane. Bowling is the antithesis of urbane."

"That makes it perfect," Blaise regarded. "Don't you see?"

Hermione nodded, "Yes, you're right. Bowling it is!"

Marcus laughed, Theo and Draco looked confused, but it was Adrian who finally asked, "What's bowling?"

Hermione smiled back at Blaise and said, "See? Perfect! I'll see you all tonight."

A/N Remember, you can hop over to The Maple Bookshelf and read the completed story there! Thanks!