Hill let Hermione sleep through breakfast, but the servant made sure to wake her up in time to head to the parlor for sewing duties. Hermione looked around the parlor in disgust. The last time she had been in this room, she was being tortured. With a sigh, she picked up her ruined dress that was still damp and stabbed her needle into the fabric, muttering bitterly, "And the torture continues."
Lavender came in late, looking like she had a killer hangover. She was dragging along the dress she had worn the night before. When she saw Hermione looking at it, she said glumly, "Lady Catherine said I had to mend mine as well. I don't even know how to sew."
"Didn't you sew last time you were here?"
"No, I used to sneak out to snog Lady Catherine's driver in the carriage. I think she must have found out and fired him because there is a new one now, and he's not at all handsome."
"Well, just do your best. It doesn't really matter, since no matter what you do, it will never be up to her high standards. Lady Catherine expects much of an accomplished woman."
Lavender smiled. "You're right. Thanks, Kitty. So, what do I do with this thing anyway?" she asked, holding up a needle.
Hermione took the needle from her, threaded it and then gave Lavender a quick, no frills sewing lesson. They were soon both stabbing away at their dresses taking their frustrations out on their tedious mending projects. It was actually very therapeutic, and Hermione suspected this was one of the reasons why Regency woman did so much of it.
Tired and still a little hungover, they sewed in relative silence, with the occasional expletive from Lavender when she accidentally stabbed herself with her needle. However, the silence was broken for good with the arrival of Pansy. As soon as Lavender saw her, she burst out laughing.
"Shiver me timbers. What happened ter ye eyyyyye?" Lavender asked through her giggles.
Pansy, who was sporting a new eye patch, glared at her with her one good eye. "It's infected. Because of her," she said angrily, pointing at Hermione.
"What did I do?" asked Hermione defensively.
"It was that sheep's eyeball. Or your contaminated saliva. I'm not sure which. But now I'm stuck wearing this hideous eye patch."
"I think it makes you look mysterious," offered Lavender. "And piratey."
"Shut up," snapped Pansy.
"Aye, aye, Captain," said Lavender, saluting her.
Ignoring her, Pansy turned on Hermione. "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to get rid of me so that you can have Mr. Darcy all to yourself."
"That's ridiculous," Hermione huffed. "I think Mr. Darcy is a proud, snobby, horrible man."
"I was talking about Draco."
"So was I," Hermione snapped.
"Now, now. No need to be so arrrrgumentative," interrupted Lavender. "Get it? Arrrgh."
"You can be in denial all you want," said Pansy, ignoring Lavender, "but I have eyes."
"Well, one anyway," joked Lavender.
"I can see the sexual tension between the two of you," continued Pansy, staring Hermione down with her one eye. "And the way you look at him when you think no one's watching."
"Perhaps, you should get your eyes checked then," suggested Hermione with contempt in her voice. "Because you are seeing things that are not there."
"Perhaps," said Pansy, not sounding as though she believed that for a minute. "You needn't worry anyway: I'm not interested in Draco. And lucky for you I'm not. Because if I were, you wouldn't stand a chance. I'm still ten times prettier than you, even with only the one eye."
"I don't care either way," replied Hermione dismissively. "I told you I wasn't interested in Malfoy."
"We'll see about that," said Pansy. "Just remember, I have my eye on you."
Lavender burst into a fit of giggles again.
With a huff, Pansy sat down with her embroidery and ignored them.
Unable to take anymore of the torture in the parlor, namely Pansy, Hermione excused herself to use the bathroom. Not very well acquainted with the non-creepy part of the Manor, she soon found herself quite lost. Assuming the bathroom would be one of the few unlocked rooms in the house, she started randomly trying doorknobs. After five unsuccessful attempts, she finally found one door that was unlocked. However, when she opened the door, she found something she did not expect to find. Ever. It was Draco Malfoy. Playing the guitar.
He was lying on his bed, his feet bare (she was somewhat surprised he didn't have demon hooves), wearing a faded pair of Muggle jeans and a white button-down shirt. His eyes were focused on the strings of his guitar, and he didn't look up as she gaped at him through the doorway. She had never seen him look so... human. She stood frozen in the doorway, listening to the beautiful music he was playing.
"If you're going to stay for a while, you'd better close the door. Mother will kill me if she knows one of the guests caught me playing non-period music."
"I'm sorry," said Hermione, so embarrassed to be caught staring that she forgot she was angry with him. "I was just looking for the bathroom."
"You can use my private bathroom if you'd like," Draco offered.
"Oh, I don't really have to go," Hermione admitted. "I just needed to get out of the parlor."
Draco's face clouded over. "About that. I'm sorry about my aunt. She was crazy, and I wish I would have done something. I just..."
"No," Hermione said quickly. "I wasn't referring to that. And I don't blame you for... you know... I meant about being stuck in a room with Pansy, which is torture in itself."
Draco smiled in relief. "Well, maybe I can make amends now. You can hide out here for a while if you'd like." When Hermione hesitated, he said, "I can play something more Regency if you prefer."
"No. It's fine. It's rather nice to step out of character for a while. This whole thing is harder than I thought it would be. I thought I would be an expert but–"
"Mr. Denny is gay," Draco blurted suddenly.
Hermione's eyes went wide. "Why would you tell me that?"
"I don't know," said Draco uncomfortably. "I just thought you should know."
"Well, it kind of ruins the whole romance aspect of things," said Hermione, sounding put out.
"I didn't want you having unrealistic expectations, is all."
"I know this isn't real. It's just that you're making it awfully difficult to pretend now."
"There are other characters you can pretend fall in love with, you know."
"Like whom? Mr. Wickham? He's Lavender's love interest."
Draco made a face. "Well... he's more like Mr. Denny's love interest."
"Seriously?" said Hermione, getting angry. "You are completely ruining this whole experience for me. I paid a lot of money for this holiday. And as your mother keeps reminding me, there are no refunds."
"I'm sorry. It's just this is a dangerous game we're playing here. Sometimes things get... confusing. Our old Bingley ran off with his love interest. We had to get someone last minute to take his place. That's why we're stuck with Zabini. He's completely inept at playing his part."
"I don't think he's that bad," said Hermione, defending him.
"Please," Draco scoffed. "He's never even read the book. He's probably never even heard of the Regency era."
"He has other... attributes," said Hermione, fumbling a little over the word.
Draco's eyes grew dark. "Well, maybe he can be your new love interest then," he snapped.
"Maybe he can," huffed Hermione.
"Good. And when you find out what a cad he is, just make sure whatever you do to him or yourself is appropriate for the period. Because we both know how important that is to you."
Not having anything to say to that, Hermione walked out, slamming the door behind her. And just when she thought things couldn't get any worse, she ran into Pansy.
"Find what you were looking for?" Pansy asked with a smirk on her face.
"No," said Hermione, unable to stop the blush on her cheeks from forming. "I must have made a wrong turn somewhere."
"The bathroom is down the hall, last door on the right."
"Thank you," said Hermione stiffly, turning to go.
"You know, Draco's not who you think he is," said Pansy.
Hermione stopped and turned back around. "Who is he, then?"
Pansy looked at the closed door and then back at Hermione. "Oh, I expect you'll find out soon enough," she said cryptically and then left without saying another word.
Hermione stormed back into the parlor. "Lavender, I need your help. Can you give me a makeover?"
"Oh, Hermione!" Lavender squealed, jumping up and taking a hold Hermione's hands. "I've been waiting for you to ask me this since I first met you."
Hermione glared at her but then seeing the gown Lavender had been working on sewn to the skirt she was wearing, she had to smile. "Are you sure you're up to the fashion challenge?"
"Shit," said Lavender, looking down to see her handiwork attached to her skirt. "I'm getting sick of all this non-magic crap. I think it's time we busted out our wands. What do you think?"
"I think it's time I took this story into my own hands. I don't care if I do have the crap copper package. I'm going to be Elizabeth Bennet."
"So, you're going after Darcy, then?" said Lavender, sounding excited about the prospect.
"Hell no. I have my sights set on someone else. Mr. Darcy and his snobby, snarky self can kiss my ass."
"Is your someone else Mr. Denny? He's not quite as handsome as Mr. Wickham, but he talks prettily enough. And Mr. Wickham adores him. He talks about him all of the time."
"Um, I don't think I'm Mr. Denny's type," replied Hermione cautiously.
"Yeah, you don't seem to have a lot of chemistry," agreed Lavender. "I got lucky with my love interest this time around. Mr. Wickham is hot," said Lavender. "Oops, I meant to say, he warmeth my loins with his state of hotness."
"Lavender, about Mr. Wickham," began Hermione, sounding uncomfortable.
"What? Don't tell me he doesn't like me. Oh, my God. He doesn't like me, does he? I touched his knee last night at dinner and he completely stiffened. And not in a good way. What's wrong with me? Why can't men even pretend to like me? It's his job, for goodness sake," wailed Lavender unhappily.
Lavender looked so distressed that Hermione couldn't bear to tell her the truth and ruin her Austen experience. "Of course he likes you. Why wouldn't he? Unless he had a very good reason, you know, like something he was born with," she mumbled. "I only meant to say that Mr. Wickham is shy. Around girls. Because he is. Not around men apparently. Just girls."
"Oh, good," said Lavender, sounding relieved. "For a moment there, I thought you were going to tell me he was gay. That would have really sucked balls."
Hermione laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, it really would have," she said dryly.