Title: The Favour
Summary: Draco Malfoy continues to suffer the consequences of his father's actions during the war. The Malfoy name has been shattered and trampled, and he has next to nothing left – nothing except Severus Snape's promise to help. Severus has friends in high places, and Draco is eager to take advantage. Ginny Weasley has just divorced Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, The Chosen One, and is trying to forge a new identity for herself from the ashes of her marriage. She needs just one person to recognise her as the person outside of her childhood sweetheart, and luckily, that one person is just through the Floo. DM/GW EWE
Rating: M for language and some sexual references/situations.
Pairings: DM/GW with a side of HG/SS
Disclaimer: I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work. I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work.
The first thing Draco saw when he stumbled out of the floo was a pair of brown leather boots. Women's boots.
Temporarily concerned, he moved to get back into the fireplace for fear that he'd arrived in the wrong place. What had he said? Snape Residence? He was sure that had been it.
But why would Snape have women's boots? Muggle boots?
The second thing Draco saw was the copy of Potions Quarterly unfurled on the sofa, as if it had been abandoned in a hurry. That made him pause. He glanced around for a moment, taking in the little room – it was nothing like the Manor, of course, but it was bigger than his own, and it gave off an aura of coziness and something else he couldn't put his finger on. The room was decorated in subdued, earthy tones, and it was made smaller by the heaving bookcases on the walls beside the fireplace. Draco was slightly jealous of this – he didn't have a fireplace in his flat, the stupid Muggle landlord thought it was a 'fire hazard'. He had scoffed at this, it was a fireplace for the love of all things magical!
A quick skim also showed him the robes draped over a chair in the corner, a discarded tumbler of amber liquid on a side-table, and a shelf dedicated to an assortment of empty vials and jars. Very Snape, in all. There was a rug of Slytherin green underneath his feet and a desk scattered with parchment and quills against the wall beneath a window. It reminded Draco very much of Snape's old place in Spinner's End, a place he had only visited once or twice, and only then in an emergency.
But there were other things about the place that were… odd. There was a small black box on a stand by the door, which he only recognized as a – wait, what was the word... Telly? – through his limited encounters with muggle houses. A jumper, much too small and much too orange to belong to Severus, was hung from a hook on the back of one of the doors; and there was a smattering of personal touches – flowers and the like – that Draco didn't imagine Snape had any time for. A radio played a gentle, lilting tune that Draco was unfamiliar with, but as he stood and allowed it to soak through, he found it to be quite charming.
Draco yelped, jumping onto the nearest chair as something behind him started screeching. Suddenly very confused, Draco hunted for the source of the noise, but he couldn't see anything and every time he went to get down the damned thing would start screaming again! Though still a tad concerned that he was in the wrong place, Draco summoned all of his courage and cried out for help – "Snape!"
There was a thundering from behind him and the door smacked open. "Godric! That blasted man!" A woman shouted angrily, waving her hand at the mantelpiece. Draco watched, his hands pressed protectively to his ears, as a little clock flew into the wall and smashed to pieces. "I'm so sorry about that, he's always leaving it on and it drives me right 'round the bend." The woman stepped towards the cowering wizard hesitantly, his arms still on his ears, still glaring at the remains of her alarm. "Draco, you can let your arms down now." She huffed a deep sigh when he couldn't hear her, and rolled her eyes. He looked entirely stunned, his face even paler than normal, and he didn't even flinch when she waved a hand in his face. Grunting in annoyance, she wound back her hand and let it fly across his shoulder, the crack of the contact bursting in his ears.
"Bloody Hell, witch, what are you doing?!" He demanded, finally unfreezing and falling back onto the floor. "Gods be damned, I come to this house and all I get is assaulted!" Cussing her out under his breath, he pulled himself to his feet and pushed his hair out of his eyes, for the first time taking in the woman who stood in front of him, hair ruffled, arms crossed, petulant expression on her face.
"Are you quite finished?" She demanded, tapping her bare toes in a mockery of impatience that would have caught him if not for the playful gleam in her eye.
"Granger?" Draco asked, and then his word caught up with him and in a flash of self-preservation-induced hysteria he shielded himself with his arms, the hand in front of his face pointing his wand at her. "You hit me!"
Granger rolled her eyes at his dramatics, walking around to flop casually on the armchair opposite him. "Why, hello, Hermione, it really has been a long time, how have you been, what a pleasure to see you again," she muttered to herself, biting off the words. Draco held his defensive position, but strained to hear what she was saying all the same. She had continued on to grumble about Snape now, and only this was discernible due to her very obvious statement of 'please, Hermione, please greet my absolute prat of a godson? Yes, I know he's a pretty boy arse and yes, I know that you have much better things to be doing with your time but I have some hoity toity potions do to go to with my hoity toity girlfriend'. She spared him a glance and motioned pointedly to the couch. "Well?"
"Well, what?" He sniffled a little in disdain, his brain coming back to him.
"Well, will you please sit the Hell down." When he continued to stare at her blankly she threw her hands up in frustration. With another smooth motion she wandlessly pulled the sofa forward, it neatly pushing his legs out from underneath him until he was sprawled across the cushions in a most unbecoming fashion. "Godric, you're a handful, aren't you?"
"Only to women who make it a habit to beat me." Draco snarled, but against his better judgement he allowed himself to sink further into the cushions, his aching muscles glad for the rest. He had spent the morning running around after other people's animals and it was a welcome relief to find himself somewhere comfortable. Granger watched him closely over the top of the journal she had reclaimed, all the better to feign being casual in this very strange situation, he supposed. After all, wasn't it just so typically Granger to hide herself behind a book?
He would have thought that he was in the wrong place once more, except that she had obviously been expecting him. She called him Draco, after all. It may have been seven years or so, but he didn't think that if she appeared randomly in his living room he would have the grace to not hex her.
She must have heard his thoughts, as she eyed his wand-hand warily. "Keep it in your pants, Draco. Be assured that if you hex me in my own home, I will curse you into eternity." And then she tilted her head to one side to appraise him. "Are you quite well? You look peaky. Would you like some tea?"
"Why are you here?" He ground out, trying very hard not to be offended at her use of the phrase 'peaky'. He was pale, okay? It was genetic.
"Bell!" She cried, and a second later a house-elf – in a full outfit of tiny robes, no less – appeared and scraped its nose across the floor in a bow.
Draco eyed it nervously. Knowing what he knew about Spew – sorry, S.P.E.W – and Granger's reputation within his department at the Ministry (he worked for the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures, and while he had only worked there for a month, he knew that Stacey, the Office Manager, had specific instructions to deny entry to any and all crusading bushy-haired muggleborns), he was naturally very cautious of any elf that would choose to work for Hermione Granger, of all people. The little elf shuffled around for a second and then, in a move that both shocked and amused Draco, he cocked a little bald brow impatiently. "Yes, Mistress?" He asked, his tone entirely indifferent.
Granger smiled just the same and ordered a pot of tea for them both. Draco was still staring at the spot the elf had once stood when the tea arrived, still thoroughly bemused.
"He wants to be here, at least," Granger told him, putting aside her journal to lean across and serve tea. It took only a second for her to pour him a cup and pass it across with the sugar bowl, but by that time Draco had come to his senses.
"You're trying to distract me," He accused, refusing to take his tea from her. She shot him an entirely too innocent smile as she added two spoons of brown sugar, stirred it and pushed it back towards him. "Why are you here?" He tried again.
"Well, why are you here?" She asked, grinning.
"For dinner with Snape," Draco glanced at the door.
"Well, I suppose that must be why I'm here, too."
Draco snorted a little, shaking his head. "Hermione Granger, supping with Draco Malfoy, at Severus Snape's house. How unexpected."
Granger just shot him another of her enigmatic smiles, the ones that were starting to make him feel a little nervous. Luckily, before he had a chance to ask exactly why she was smiling so much, there was a -crack- just outside of the door, and soon Severus Snape was gliding into the room with all the elegance of a Malfoy, if a little harried. He shook his hair out around his collar as he swept his robes over one arm, making a strange rumbling noise as he moved. Draco regarded him once more, marvelling at how well he truly looked these days. "Bell!" He grunted, hanging his outer clothes on the hook, before turning and actually realizing they were there. "Oh." He grunted again, his eyes sweeping across the tableau. Draco straightened himself in his seat, looking every inch the uncomfortable young man he was, and Granger was relaxed opposite him with one ankle crossed cross the other, smirking widely, practically radiating satisfaction.
"Snape, you really need to get better staff," Draco drawled, sending a venomous look at Granger, who only buried her head nonchalantly back in her book, looking the picture of virtue.
"Not a warm reception, then?" Snape asked. "My apologies. I was caught up in a business lunch."
"By which he means he was caught up in Sybill," Granger droned, her face twisting at the mention of the woman.
"I thought you hated Trelawney," Draco mused, finally picking up his tea, feeling a tingle in his fingers as he broke the stasis spell.
Snape folded himself into another armchair, pushing an open book off of the arm and onto a table. It was a relatively sweet scene, Severus Snape in his natural environment, surrounded by books and vials and the flickering of a fire. Draco just didn't particularly understand why Granger was here. He had known they were friends, of course, they appeared in the Prophet together more than once, mostly when Granger was releasing a book and Snape would be there, in the background, quietly glaring at anyone who dared interrupt his silence. But he didn't expect Snape to be the kind of person to let someone putter around his house while he was away.
"I have little time for hate." Snape sniffed, straightening his sleeves carefully. "She has proven quite useful to me recently."
"Yes, useful." Granger waggled her eyebrows, but neither of the men bit. She turned her page and huffed a bit, but settled in. Her silence didn't last long, as when Draco opened his mouth to speak Granger threw her sickle in again. "Truly, Severus, must you indulge her lunacy?"
"Her lunacy led to the downfall of the Dark Lord."
"Her lunacy led to no less than five destroyed lives." She prodded drily. When both men glanced at her askance, she brought up a hand, all fingers spread out, and began to count down. "James Potter, Harry Potter, Lily Evans -" Draco noted the lack of reaction on Severus' part and filed it away for later investigation, "- Sirius Black and one Severus Snape, who I happen to know was royally buggered because the stupid cow couldn't keep her mouth shut." Her expression dared both men to argue with her, and Draco threw his hands up in mock surrender before scooping up a digestive and dunking it in his tea. When Snape just glanced at her once more, she continued to launch into a tirade about divination and science and 'real magic' which Draco thought was just bollocks and threw his arms over his eyes in defeat.
Only when she finally cut off in the middle of a sentence did Draco open his eyes, only to yelp in surprise at the sight of his godfather well and truly snogging Hermione Insufferable-Know-It-All Granger.
"Gods above!" He cried, causing the two to separate. Granger had the biggest shit-eating grin on her face. Snape flicked his eyes to Draco and he could read a silent apology there, but it didn't particularly help considering that he also held a self-satisfied smirk. "You could have warned me!" Draco spluttered, motioning wildly at Snape's paramour.
"I hardly see how my private life is any of your business," Snape drawled, adjusting his robes as he sat down once more. "I don't ask for all of the revolting details of your life."
"A warning in an owl would have been nice. Dear Draco, I look forward to seeing you on Friday, please be aware that my house contains rampaging Gryffindors and screeching clocks and if you encounter either of the two you should know that they are quite violent. Regards, Severus." Scowling further when Granger giggled, Draco narrowed his eyes at Snape. "Your little witch smacked me one when I came out of the floo."
"He was in shock," She waved a biscuit dismissively. "Also, there was an accident with your alarm."
"Right, an accident." His eyes flicked to the empty place on the mantel and he let loose a tiny, affectionate smirk. "Gods forbid anything stand in your way when you're working."
Their gazes met in a private smile, and Granger twisted to prop her legs over the arm of the chair, her attention turning to contemplate Draco. "Severus tells me that you visited your father," she treated him to a sweet, lopsided smile that made Draco want to crawl up inside himself and die – no Malfoy should be subject to a Gryffindor's pity. "I do hope Lucius was kind."
"My father was everything I expected him to be. I have no doubt he will continue to be so."
Granger flipped a page in her book again. "Always contrary, that man." She jerked her chin towards Snape. "Severus tells me that he will be coming to trial in a month or so. I'll speak for him, obviously, as I find him quite changed. But then I've always been a sucker for a man in crisis," and then she shared another of her vomit-inducing grins with Snape. Even just sitting here was beginning to be an exercise in controlling nausea for Draco, who was becoming increasingly more perplexed by the minute.
"So, what is this dinner about, then?" Draco asked, deliberately sidestepping all talk of his father and the mere existence of Hermione Granger to meet Snape's eyes. "Business related?"
Severus regarded him for a moment over the top of his glasses – new glasses, Draco noticed, for he had never worn them in his presence before. "More… family, I suppose." He swept a glance over Draco's attire with a practised sneer. "You'll need to change."
"You can use our guest bathroom, if you'd like. I could transfigure something for you. You'll want to look your best, no doubt, when the others arrive in –" She cast a tempus with a triumphant smile as Snape rolled his eyes, looking to the now empty space on the mantel, "two hours."
"I don't need your pity, Granger."
"Snape," She corrected him curtly, eyes dancing. "Madam Hermione Jean Snape, at your service." She gestured towards the door. "It's the second room on the left at the top of the stairs. I'm sure you'll find something appropriate."
When Draco finally emerged from the shower, dressed in a newly pressed pair of slacks and a button down navy shirt courtesy of Hermione - "trust me Draco, you'll want to play to the crowd on this one" – he found his godfather waiting, perched uncomfortably on the ottoman at the end of the bed. He had changed for the meal, his hair tied at the nape of his neck, eyes alternating between the Prophet in his lap and the doorway that Draco resided in. Draco wasn't entirely certain what being a part of the Granger-Snape household would entail, but he could only assume there was a lot of reading involved.
Snape perused him for a moment and gave him a stiff nod. "You'll do." Folding the newspaper under one arm, he fixed Draco with a withering glare. "My wife hosts this dinner regularly, and it brings her great joy to do so. I would be remiss in my spousal duties if I did not inform you of certain expectations."
Draco rolled his eyes skyward and crossed his arms. "Look, I don't eat children, Snape. It has been a long time since Hogwarts, I think I can get over one petty school feud."
A smirk graced Snape's face once more, and he rose from his seat, both men choosing to ignore the cracking of his knees that showed he was not quite the wizard he once had been. "Good. See that you do. I didn't leave Hogwarts only to have it follow me home." Casting a tempus, Snape sighed – a barely there, delicate sound released through his nose. "We had best go and join the festivities."