Challenge: #9. Hermione frees the elves. Lucius and his former elves plan some payback.
Summary: Revenge makes the heart grow fonder.
Warnings (if any): Over-simplified politics. Narrative. One, count it, ONE line of dialogue.
Notes: Many thanks to madam_malicia for being a suberb beta.
Regarding the Granger-Malfoy Marriage: A Narrative Article
Just A Starving Writer
Note to the Reader:
The circumstances behind the seemingly happy marriage between Lucius Malfoy and Hermione Granger are convoluted and difficult to pinpoint. However, the author has researched the subject thoroughly and has come upon the following conclusion: their marriage had everything to do with politics. The following account is an approximation of how exactly the two unlikely characters were bound together in matrimonial bliss.
Upon becoming Special Assistant to the Minister of Magic, which was a spiffy enough title without taking into consideration that the actual Minister was completely clueless and therefore highly exploitable, Hermione Jane Granger immediately pushed her highly disguised House-Elf Abuse Law straight through the Ministry. It only took a week of overloading the Minister with all sorts of other useless laws until he was signing whatever she shoved under his nose. All in all, it was a week well spent with many political successes on her part.
The House-Elf Abuse Law became effective long before the specifics were brought to the attention of the public. Particularly troublesome was Article 115, Part 7, Section I, which stated in the insufferable and illegible language of politics that house-elves would be magically freed should abuse of any kind --physical, mental or emotional -- be suffered by a house-elf during the duration of his or her free labor.
Needless to say, Article 115, Part 7, Section I was quickly discovered and, under pressure of the public, retracted by a very delighted Minister who found the whole affair rather entertaining. However, this was not before several hundred house-elves were freed, the charm used in doing so seemingly not as easily retracted as the Article itself. In fact, Aurors and Cursebreakers working full time could not find a counter-charm but did find that their respect and fear of one Special Assistant to the Minister of Magic was tremendously higher than before Article 115 came to be.
Hermione herself felt somewhat accomplished and relished the one letter in 500, usually misspelled and accompanying some odd home-made gift, that was grateful for Article 115. She received twelve of these letters, edited them in red ink, framed them across from her desk, and looked to them whenever she began to feel any inklings of doubt. She felt these twelve were very much worth the other 6000, even if several of the angry parchments refused to burn properly in the fireplace and instead sent her out of her office until the smoke was cleared by Aurors.
Hermione Granger felt rather proud of herself indeed. Lucius Malfoy, on the other hand, did not.
To say that Lucius's past few years had passed well would be an outright lie. All the fun had been leached straight out of his life with Voldemort's return to form. Suddenly his delightful little forays into Muggle baiting had become all too important and held 'meaning'.
Then, misery of all miseries, he had been captured and sentenced to poor nutrition and tragic hair care for the better part of two years. When he had finally managed to plead his way out, he found his blessed son to be more of a whiner than he had chosen to remember and his lovely wife gone. Narcissa's note revealing her volunteering him for his ill-fated Ministry raid in order to have her bed free from such a covers thief was only slightly less off-putting than the fact that she had run off with Severus. The thought, when he cared to think of it, made him nauseous and curious. At the very least, her devious plan had backfired to a certain degree and involved her precious son.
Still, these thoughts and circumstances did not improve his mood, and he found his only solace was kicking, punting, and occasionally throwing his house-elves.
Such was it that not a day after the law had become effective, Lucius Malfoy found his remaining house-elves magically unable to do his bidding. His clothing began piling in the master suite, his food did not promptly appear at seven, and, horror of all horrors, his bath was not drawn. He suspected a rebellion until he saw the terrified and ugly faces of the elves as they were magically compelled to remain steadfastly standing in the study after he ordered them to leave. He quickly became very familiar with the tricky political writing of Article 115, and quickly became very, very upset with Miss Hermione Granger.
However, Lucius Malfoy was not a man to take such... impertinence so easily. And thus he concocted revenge...
When the first bloody house-elf finger arrived on her desk, Hermione was a bit perturbed.
When the second bloody house-elf finger arrived on her desk, Hermione contented herself with the fact that whoever had sent it was only freeing one more house-elf in their quest to make her miserable.
When the third bloody house-elf finger failed to rouse her interest or cause her any noticeable lack of sleep, Lucius tried a new approach.
He kidnapped her cat. However, the cat seemed to mock him with every fluffy inch and promptly died, thereby stealing from him the pleasure of killing it. When he sent the dead cat to her, she finally took notice, only to assume that the cat had died while out gnome hunting and a kind stranger had thought to alert her. She even sent his AnonyOwl back with a fruit basket.
When his letters failed to find their way through the 6000 other angry letters, he began to seriously worry that his revenge would never be realized. And so he locked himself in his study, which was growing quite stuffy without the elves blowing in fresh air, and Plotted.
Meanwhile, in the even stuffier kitchens, the former Malfoy house-elves also Plotted. Insubordination was simply not to be borne. More so, they were quite content, thank you very much, with how things were. The simple joy they felt from very slyly adding dirt and assorted other oddities to their Master's food without his notice, the exuberance they experienced from adding miniscule amounts of aging potion to their Master's wine... these were feelings not to be trifled with by a witch who thought she was smart.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, so they say. Lucius Malfoy believed this. The Malfoy house-elves lived this. They laid in wait for a year, gathering supplies and support, waiting for the perfect time to strike.
Such was it that Hermione Granger was very surprised to find her political life near sabotaged by an untimely scandal involving a fling with the Minister only a short week after she began to find all her important files missing. The scandal seemed to only grow from there as terrible affair after terrible fling was discovered by the press, some real and some imagined. The mess that was formerly her office grew even faster.
In her quieter moments, Hermione reflected that she regretted her one night stand with Marcus Flint even more now that he had spilled the details in a tell-all interview with Rita Skeeter. In her busier moments, she barely had time to reflect on her one night stand with Kingsley Shacklebolt as she tried to reconcile her paperwork into something resembling a filing system.
Hermione was just about to set her paperwork ablaze and leave her job, if not the wizarding world altogether, when a clue and solution to the suspicious havoc appeared with much fanfare and flourish. He was dressed as sharply as he could manage with a Rent-An-Elf and looking entirely too pleased as he saw her current state of affairs.
"Why Miss Granger, frolicking amidst garbage looks to be a familiar activity for you."
Unfortunately for Lucius, Hermione was very much not in the mood for trading sarcastic quips; Hermione was instead very much in the mood for threats and hexes, followed closely by blackmail and a healthy dose of truth serum. By the time Lucius Malfoy was allowed to leave her office, she had managed to discover all the details regarding his plot to ruin her and had a suitable way to protect any further degradation of her political reputation. That such a way involved the aforementioned blackmail, she was very much not in the mood for caring.
When the scandal finally calmed down, no doubt fueled by the public's new interest in her present preoccupation with Lucius Malfoy, she was still having definite issues with her filing. Her books, alphabetized by subject and author's name, were in a complete jumble, her inbox remained terribly full and her outbox seemed to have disappeared altogether. However, as her weekly dinners in public with Lucius brought her political connections she had never dreamed of, she really could not be bothered with the state of disaster that was her office. In fact, she found more and more reasons to stay out of her office altogether.
The house-elves found this simply would not do. Revenge must be had, after all, and they had their twisted little hearts set on continuing their unknown campaign against Lucius. Thus they extended their revenge to hiding her handbag, switching her Gringotts' key with that of Stan Shunpike, and making certain unidentifiable stains on her best robes. Still she managed to get by and the Malfoy house-elves were left dumbfounded until a great discovery was made.
The mandatory weekly dinners between Lucius and Hermione were far from the liberal/conservative collaboration that the Ministry explained. They were not even the public part of a scandalous affair that the Prophet proclaimed. No, the mandatory weekly dinners between Lucius and Hermione were terribly uncomfortable meals in complete silence, with seldom interruptions of insults. It was not a meal either Lucius or Hermione particularly enjoyed.
It was in this that the Malfoy house-elves found their perfect solution. The potion was simply enough added to their tea. The dinner was easy enough to change into the torrid night the Prophet suspected. The pair was quick enough to suspect foul play, especially when the consequences of the night were discovered.
And, to the house-elves sure delight, the Minister was happy enough to force the unlikely pair together with some choice blackmail that neither had ever expected from a man so obtuse.
Happiness is anything but static, a wise house-elf will tell you with improper sentence construction. Such was it that while life was anything but quiet in Malfoy Manor, there was a certain joy that each being experienced on a daily basis. For Lucius it was the pleasures of a young and fertile wife who could be deftly silenced with a simple spell. For Hermione, it was the connections provided by an old and well respected name, provided by a husband who could be deftly silenced with a simple spell. For the re-instated and newly paid Malfoy house-elves, joy was in their Master's receding hairline and their Mistress's ability to become very distracted whenever she began to research and Plot a new House Elf Law.
It is perhaps possible to forget that even in situations not expected or desired, happiness is possible. The new Malfoy household found this to be true, even amidst politics, blackmail, exploding parchments, and questionable spices in delectable meals. May that be a lesson to us all.