*hi guys, I just wanted to inform you that will not be attempting to accent the dialogue. When a certain character has an accent I will make note of it in the story and let you use your imagination. This will be both easier on me and those reading the fic. Sorry for any disappointment.*
Draco's cries still echoed in my brain. I hated lying to anyone, but even more so when it was someone I cared for. I cared for Draco immensely even though it made no sense for me to. He had been so cruel to me in the past. I should despise him, but now I just can't. It was like there was a hole in my heart, an emptiness that Ron could not fix. I had no idea it even existed until Draco came along and suddenly filled it. It was unexpected and illogical.
Did I really love him? Maybe I was just feeling lonely and he came along at just the right moment. There is no way an apology should have been enough for everything. I felt like a hormonal teenager again. I am so confused.
Dragan led me along the wooded trail until we came up to a beautiful manor. It was like stepping in to the Victorian area. The pale gray wood of the house looked clean and smooth and there was a horse and chariot parked out front. This was an elegant, but strange place.
I had seen old Victorian houses before, but this one was massive and impeccable kept, so that it looked new.
Dragan spoke then, "Do you like it?"
"um, it's very lovely."
"Good, the master will be pleased. I think you will like him." He smiled.
Despite his hulking frame, Dragan seemed to be extremely kind. I took this as a good sign.
He led me up to a heavy set of front doors with two sinister looking gargoyle knockers. Dragan knocked twice and a cute brunette woman answered. She wore an old fashioned maid's uniform and a bright smile.
"Dragan, I see that you have brought back a guest. You are sent out for groceries and you bring back a woman." She giggled, her American accent reminded me of Kate.
"Malory, this is Lady Hermione Granger, he master's special guest." Dragan answered pointedly.
Malory turned red and immediately curtsied and bowed her head low. "My apologies, Lady Granger, I was not expecting you to arrive today. I was expecting a bigger entrance, frankly."
"Ajax and Frank failed just as I expected them to. I found them on the side of the road in a moving truck out of gas. When I stopped to help, they informed me that they had our guest of honor freezing in the back of the truck in the dark."
"You poor thing. Come in, come in. Jasper!" she called as she ushered us both in side. The foyer was impressively decorated with Victorian and Edwardian furniture. It felt like a museum rather than a house. It almost reminded me of the Malfoy manor. The memory of my brief stay there made my stomach tighten in a knot.
A young Middle Eastern woman with long braided black timidly walked down the stairs then. Her outfit was identical to Malory's and she had the prettiest green eyes I had ever seen, and I have seen Harry's.
"This is Lady Granger." Malory introduced. Jasper's head bobbled slightly in my direction, "Please go prepare her chambers. Start up the fire place and please have some fresh warm clothes set out for her. Make sure everything is ready for Ms. Granger. After that, report back to me."
"Including the secret thing." Dragan added quickly and quietly, "You know what I mean."
Jasper nodded and began trekking up the stairs. Dragan turned to me and gestured to Malory. "Ms. Granger, this is Malory Atanas, the head of the Master's female staff and my wife. She takes good care of the household." Malory curtsied again.
"You have to pardon Jasper. She is mute. The master found her as a child and she hasn't spoken a word from what I understand. She also will be your hand maid. She will be spending a lot of time helping you."
"Alright." I said. I would play along until I get some answers. I kept my wand drawn at my side just in case.
"Malory, will you prepare some tea and maybe a sandwich too? The idiots didn't treat her well. She might be hungry."
"ofcoarse. I will speak with the chef immediately." She said, "Well, anyway, it was a pleasure to meet you, Lady Granger. I will be seeing you soon."
Before I could say anything she had already bowed and scurried away. "Don't worry about her, Ms. Granger, she is a very talkative woman. You will get used to it."
Something about the way he said that last bit gave me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. A strange feeling of finality. "That's fine." I told him as the feeling passed.
"Well, let me show you to your room so that you can change, eat, and possibly sleep. Come with me." He placed a hand lightly on the small of my back to lead me toward the stairs.
I wanted to ask a few questions, but I didn't know where to start. I decided to not to beat around the bush. "So, where are we?" I asked trying to sound nonchalantly curious.
"This is one of the master's many estates. This manor has been around since Queen Victoria's rule and also happens to be the master's favorite home he owns." His response seemed slightly scripted, "He really hopes you like it here."
"But, where is here?"
"All will be revealed in time, I am sure."
He didn't truly answer the question. I felt like this would be the norm for now, but I pressed on anyway. "So, who is this elusive master you keep mentioning? When do I get to meet him?"
"The master would like to keep his identity a secret for the time being. I will be speaking with him as soon he wakes. He may want to have dinner with you, if so; I will send someone to help get you ready."
"Um, okay. Well if you can't tell me his name, what can you tell me about him?"
"The master has been around for a long time he has mastered many fields of both wizard and muggle learning. He speaks more than 20 languages and he considers himself a collector for rare and beautiful things." He eyed me curiously as he spoke.
I sighed. It was defiantly scripted. "Alright, how about you?"
He wasn't expecting that. "What?" he asked.
"Tell me about yourself. What are you to your master?"
"I am simply a day servant honored to serve the master."
We passed through several lavishly decorated corridors. "Why are you here? Like, how did you get that honor?"
He got a sad look in his eyes. "My little boy. He got very sick and because he is a muggle like his mother no witch or wizard hospital would treat him. He was on his last hours when the master showed up out of nowhere and made him better. My wife and agreed to serve him for as long as we can. That was 10 years ago."
"Oh, I see. How is your boy?"
"He is attending the best boarding school money can buy out of the master's pockets."
"That is very nice of him." We stopped walking and he looked at me thoughtfully.
"Yes, we thought so too." His words were gratuitous, but his eyes almost said something different. There was something strange going on here.
He cleared his throat loudly, "Look at that, we have arrived at your quarters, Ms. Granger."
As he swung open the heavy wooden doors, I felt him slam the door on our conversation shut.
I cursed myself silently in defeat.
"This is your suite. It is complete with a great selection of literature, your own personal bathroom, a lounging area, and a large closet. The master had it redecorated in hopes it will fit your personal tastes. He hopes you will be comfortable here. He wants you to feel at home."
There it was again, that funny feeling in my stomach.
He guided me gently inside and I fought the sudden impulse grip the door frame and scream like a toddler.
He was right about one thing; it was much closer to my tastes than the dark brooding feel of the rest of the house. The furniture was from the time period, but instead of dull blacks and grays there was vibrant pops of scarlet and gold. It gave me the same familiar comfort that I used to feel back in the Gryffindor common room. Dragan began to show me around the very large room. The large canopy double bed was in the middle and its heavy curtains were almost identical to those on my bed at Hogwarts. I thought sadly about how another girl slept in that bed now.
To the right of the room was a cute little sitting area. Golden high backed arm chairs sat on either side of a pale loveseat. They faced a carved oak coffee table and beautiful ornate fireplace, which was filled with smoldering flames. The warmth felt wonderful on my still chilled frame. I took a moment to warm my fingers while Dragan showed me the multiple bookshelves along the walls. "I put these in myself." He said proudly.
"Good job." I said scanning the titles. There was a good mixture of both muggle and magical writings. At least I shouldn't be too bored at night.
We briefly peeked in the closet. Everything was in garment bags so there was nothing to really see. On the opposite side of the room, there was another pair of double doors.
They opened to reveal huge bright bathroom. The centerpiece of the room was claw foot tub that was big enough to hold 6 of me easily. It was all a pale cream colour and bathed in the sunlight form the large windows on either side of the tub. There were the other modern commodities like a toilet, sink, and an impressive glass fronted shower. In one corner, there sat a vintage vanity table that housed several different expensive looking cosmetics.
I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. I nearly squeaked. My appearance was almost frightening. My skin was paler than I remembered, almost gray. Were my cheekbones always that sharp? My eyes lacked luster and there was dark purple bruise like shadows underneath them. My hair was a bushy mess, but that was normal. In short, I looked dead.
"You have had a bad night, Miss. Granger. It is understandable that you don't look your best." Dragan said trying to comfort me.
"Or a bad few years." I mumbled under my breath. I had never been a very superficial person, but I can admit when I have let things go.
"Hard to believe anyone would find this beautiful." I thought offhandedly. My brain wandered back to Draco and Ron.
I pushed them aside quickly, I felt disgusting my body yearned for a hot shower. "I would like to shower." I announced.
"Oh, of course." He said bowing, "I will take my leave then. I will warn you wards have been put in place to limit your magic."
I figured it would be." I told him honestly as he walked out of the room.
I heard him shut the door and the lock click. I had figured that I would be locked in too.
I am stuck here in this strange step into the past. I was used to old fashioned thanks to my years at Hogwarts where we used quills instead of ink pens, but it was still changing with the times. This place was just odd.
I made my way to the shower and turned it on as hot as I could stand. I stood fully clothed under the water for a while and just let the heat warm my chilled frame. The heaviness of my wool jumper as it became soaked was comforting. I don't know how much time passed before there was a knock on the bathroom door and Malory entered.
She almost giggled when she saw me, but she didn't note on it. "Sorry to disturb, but I have brought fresh clothes and a towel. I also can take your, um, dirty clothes."
I said nothing, but one by one my wet clothes hit the polished bathroom floor with a satisfying splat.
"Jasper has set out tea for you on the coffee table. The chef supplied a pretty fancy spread for you. He said that he would not have such an honored guest eat a mere sandwich as her first meal here."
She set a neatly folded stack of dry clothes on the edge of the vanity table and hung a fluffy crimson towel on the nearby rack. "Well, let me just take these." She said.
She picked up the soggy clothes, gingerly holding them away from her own body. "Before I leave you again," she said, "should you need anything there is a chain right next to the door. Pull that and it will alert us that you need something. Also, Ms. Granger, it may not be my place; but you really don't have keep such a tight grip on your wand. You are in no danger."
I still had my wand in my hand. Ready for a battle even when naked and vulnerable. I could have blamed it on the situation if I hadn't been doing the same thing when I was safe at home. I always had my wand within inches of my fingertips. Ron commented once about it when he came to visit me late at night. It was under my pillow. He had used the word "paranoid".
"Leave." I told her calmly, but sternly. I wanted to be alone.
"Yes, ma'am. Of course. Remember to ring the bell if you need anything." She said quickly.
She then left. I felt slightly bad because Malory seemed to be a very kind person, but I needed the quiet.
I formed a list of things that I knew which, to my aggravation, was not much. The "master" is wealthy and secretive. I got out of the shower and dressed in the warm clothes Malory had left out for me.
Malory hadn't been kidding about the food. The coffee table was set up with a lavish spread of fancy cheeses and breads. There was a pot of what I assumed was cheese fondue. There was plenty of ripe fruit like strawberries and pears. It looked very tempting, but I wasn't about to eat it. Despite their kindness, I did not trust anyone here.
I sat in one of the high-backed armchairs by the fire and started testing the wards and working out my escape plan. It was easier to do without having to think about Draco. I got him out. I may be trapped, but at least he was safe.