Why, said Master Draco, do you
always come here when Im up to my armpits in preparations
for the Christmas Ball?
Just-Hermione Granger looked around the Ballroom. Tinker wasnt
sure shed even noticed that Matty was dusting the Yule Log,
and Meddle was decorating the Christmas Tree, and Twinky and Turnip
were hanging holly from the chandeliers, until Master Draco had
mentioned the ball. Um, she said. Its
an annual inspection.
Master Draco sighed. All right, he said. Tinker,
will you make sure that the garlands are straight?
Master Draco wasnt one of those wizards who hissed orders
like Mister Lucius Malfoy, or cackled threats like Madam Bellatrix
Lestrange. Master Draco was polite, and asked house-elves
to do things.
Yes, Master Draco, said Tinker, with a little bow.
Come on then, Granger, said Master Draco. Well
use the Library.
Tinker watched Master Draco walk away with Just-Hermione Granger,
his hand hovering behind her backwhere she couldnt
see itand Tinkers big, round eyes grew even rounder,
for Master Draco was almost touching Just-Hermione Granger.
And Tinker had never done anything like this before...
But, when Master Draco led Just-Hermione Granger into the Library,
Tinker followed them.
I believe, said Just-Hermione Granger, that
congratulations are in order.
Tinker slipped through the Library door, and closed it without
making a sound. Then he tip-toed into the room and, hiding behind
a chair, peeped over the arm rest at his young master and his
They were sitting on the big sofa by the fire. Just-Hermione
Granger was pulling sheets of parchment out of her leather satchel,
and piling them on the low table in front of them. I mean
congratulations on your engagement, Draco, she said.
Oh... Yes. Thank you, said Master Draco.
Shes very beautiful.
What do you want me to sign? said Master Draco.
Well... Theres the usual Statement of Good Health,
the Stipend Agreement, and an Acknowledgement of Rights,
said Just-Hermione Granger, for each house-elf.
Master Draco summoned a quill and inkwell; he dipped the quill
in the ink. All in triplicate, he said.
A copy for you, a copy for me, and one for the archives.
Master Draco signed the first sheet with a flourish. (Tinker
had always admired Master Dracos lovely hand writing).
Dont you want to talk to them? said Master
Draco. Ask them what they earn? See that theyre not
No, of course not, said Just-Hermione Granger. I
trust you, Draco.
Thats not what you said in Paris, said Master
Draco. He looked up from the parchment, and stared at Just-Hermione
Granger, and Just-Hermione Granger stared back.
Thats all in the past, Draco, said Just-Hermione
Granger, at last. Tinker noticed that she had turned pink.
Youre engaged now.
Thats Fathers doing, not mine.
Its still binding, Draco.
I dont even like her.
Well... In time, youll grow to love her. Just-Hermione
Granger bit her lip. Isnt that what they always say?
They, said Master Draco, have never
heard Astoria Greengrass laugh.
Just-Hermione Granger pulled back her cuff and consulted something
attached to her wrist. I need to be at the Notts by
Im not asking you to marry me, Granger, said
Master Draco, and Tinker swallowed a gasp. Justjust
dont be a strangerdont let it be that the only
time we see each other is when you come on a house-elf inspection.
We could meet sometimes, in Muggle London
That, Draco, said Just-Hermione Granger, would
be infidelity. She sniffed, and Tinker noticed that
her eyes were suddenly very big, and bright. I have to go
now. Have you finished with those documents?
Master Draco signed the final sheet, and handed the pile back
to Just-Hermione Granger. You know the way out, he
Tinker shrank back behind the chair. He heard Just-Hermione Granger
stomp past, wrench open the door and slam it behind her. Then,
from somewhere else in the Library, he heard a loud crash, and
he stretched up on tip-toe, and peered at Master Draco.
Tinkers young master was sitting on the sofa with his head
in his hands. He had overturned the table, and ink was pouring
from the fallen inkwell and spreading across the rug.
Tinker knew that he should deal with the stain straight away,
before the ink had time to sink deep into the pile...
But instead, throwing caution to the winds, Tinker Apparated
back to the ballroom with a quiet pop.
Just-Hermione Granger was crouching before the fireplace, taking
leave of the other house-elves.
Matty, said Matty excitedly, is shaking hands
with Miss Hermione
Just-Hermione Granger, like a witch!
Emerald flames flared up behind them, and a young lady stumbled
from the fireplace, tripping over the Yule Log and tottering on
her long, thin legs like a new-born foal. She glared at Just-Hermione
Granger. That stupid thing is in the way! And so are you!
Tinker watched Just-Hermione Granger gather Matty and Meddle
into her arms to make room for Miss Astoria Greengrass to pass.
And he was guiltily pleased to see Just-Hermione Granger look
daggers at Miss Astoria Greengrasss back.
That night, Tinker lay awake, thinking.
By the morning, he had a Plan.
Tinker and Meddle crept up to the door of the Morning Room.
Standing on Meddles shoulders, Tinker slowly turned the
doorknob and opened the door a fraction.
There was no sign of Mrs Lucius!
The two house-elves slipped inside.
They found the invitations stacked in a neat pile on Mrs Luciuss
writing desk. Meddle drew the stopper from the inkwell and dipped
Mrs Luciuss best quill in the ink. What does Tinker
want Meddle to write? he asked.
Meddle was an expert at signing Mrs Luciuss name, but it
had taken Tinker almost an hour, describing the horrors the house-elves
could expect if Miss Astoria Greengrass became mistress of Malfoy
Manor, to persuade Meddle to help.
Put To Miss Just-Hermione Granger, said
Tinker. Then,and this was the master stroke
it had taken him all night to think ofon the back,
write, Mrs Lucius Malfoy would like to discuss a donation
to the S.P.E.W. with Miss Just-Hermione Granger, and sign
it, Mrs Lucius Malfoy. That, he assured Meddle,
will make her come.
Slowly and carefully, Meddle inscribed the words. Then he addressed
an envelope and, together, the house-elves melted some wax, and
sealed it with Mrs Luciuss monogrammed seal.
Tinker will take it to the Owlery, said Tinker, disappearing
with a pop.
Do cheer up, darling, said Mrs Lucius to Master Draco.
Tinker levitated Master Dracos plate away. Master Draco
hadnt touched his breakfast.
Tonights a big night, said Mrs Lucius. Your
first official function with your fiancée. Everybody whos
anybody will be here, darling, and therell be reporters
and photographers from all the newspapersyou must charm
them, Dracoam I not right, Lucius?
Mister Lucius Malfoy grunted an unintelligible reply from behind
the financial pages of his newspaper.
Master Draco stood up, pushing his chair aside noisily. IM
DOING IT, ARENT I? he shouted as he headed
for the door. Tinker shrank back, out of his way. DONT
EXPECT ME TO PRETEND I LIKE IT!
By eight-thirty, everything was readyhundreds of candles
were floating beneath the ceilings, and the garlands were twinkling
with fairy lights. The Christmas Trees were glittering with everlasting
snow. And, in the Minstrels Gallery, a group of Squib musicians
were playing carols on sackbuts and cornets...
People had started arriving.
Mrs Lucius fetched Mr Lucius Malfoy from the Study and, together
with Master Dracowho looked, Tinker thought, as though hed
just shut his ears in the oven doorand Miss Astoria
Greengrass, they lined up in the Entrance Hall to greet their
The house-elves, wearing little white collars and green bow ties
specially designed by Mrs Lucius, waited at the end of the line
to hand out glasses of Blackberry Imperiale as people passed into
Just-Hermione Granger arrived punctually at nine. She was wearing
a dress of pure white... stuff, tight and sparkly at the
top, loose and floaty at the bottom; shed darkened her eyes,
and reddened her lips with something glossy; and her normally...
full hair cascaded down her bare back in pretty curls spangled
with tiny white flowers.
Tinker thought she looked lovely; he glanced at Master Draco.
Master Draco looked as if someone had just given him clothes.
Thank you so much for inviting me, said Just-Hermione
Granger to Mrs Lucius. Im so looking forward
to discussing the donation with you.
Mrs Lucius looked surprised, and Tinker spotted a possible flaw
in his Plan.
We have lots of projects under way, said Just-Hermione
Granger. The At Risk Register, the Holiday Cover Service,
the dedicated Elfish Wing at St Mungos, the Golden Years Retirement
Home... And, of course, well acknowledge your contribution
by displaying your name prominently
Perhaps we can talk later, said Mrs Lucius, tactfully.
Of course, said Just-Hermione Granger.
Tinker let out a sigh of relief, though he made a mental note
to shove his fingers in the knife drawer once the ball was over.
Tinker waited anxiously to put part two of his Plan into action.
When he overheard Miss Astoria Greengrass tell Master Draco that
she was going to pop upstairs to the little girls
room, Tinker nodded to Meddle and Turnip.
Meddle approached Master Draco with his speech rehearsed and
Turnip stationed herself at the bottom of the stairs.
Tinker himself went up to Just-Hermione Granger. Oh dear,
he liedhaving already punished himself in preparationMatty
has gone into the Morning Room.
Just-Hermione Granger frowned. Then, gathering her skirts, she
crouched down beside him. Why has she done that, Tinker?
Matty thinks she has offended Just-Hermione Granger,
said Tinker. Matty is going to put her head in the fire.
What? No! Just-Hermione Granger scrambled
to her feet. Take me to the Morning Room, Tinker! Hurry!
She held out her hand.
Tinker deduced that Just-Hermione Granger meant him to grasp
It was warm and pleasantly dry.
Just-Hermione Granger burst through the Morning Room door like
a Deprimo Spell. Draco! she cried. Wheres
Matty? Master Draco frowned. What are you
Tinker said... Just-Hermione Granger turned round,
looking for Tinker, but Tinker had already run across the room
and hidden himself in one of the bay windows. He peered out through
the gap between the curtains.
There are no house-elves in here, Granger, said Master
Draco. And nordespite what Meddle told meis
my father in here, knocking back the Firewhisky. (Tinker
was particularly proud of that lie). Master Draco sighed. Im
so glad to see you here tonight, Granger, but... Well... I suppose
Id best go and make sure that Father is okay
Your mother invited me, said Just-Hermione Granger.
Yes. She wants to donateo-ow!
Silently, Tinker tapped his head against the window frame. Conjuring
a mote of dust in a witchs eye would normally warrant severe
punishment but, in this case, there were extenuating circumstanceswhat
Mr Lucius Malfoy liked to call The Bigger Pictureto
Whats wrong? said Master Draco. He sounded
Something in my eye... said Just-Hermione Granger.
Come here, said Master Draco. He grasped her shoulders
and guided her beneath the chandelier, coaxing her to turn her
head so that the light fell full upon her face. Let me...
Its all right... Yes, I can see it... He drew his
wand. Now, just keep absolutely still...
Oh, gasped Just-Hermione Granger, oh, Draco!
Let meno, dont rub!
Tinker held his breath. Timing was crucial! But then his sensitive
ears caught the clack-clack of Miss Astoria Greengrasss
silly shoes approaching, and he knew that Turnip had delivered
her message as planned.
Genero viscum album, whispered Tinker.
A sprig of mistletoe appeared above the couples heads,
just as the Morning Room door opened.
It feels huge, whimpered Just-Hermione Granger.
Stop rubbing it, said Master Draco, breathlessly
DRACO! screeched Miss Astoria Greengrass
Accio leniter, murmured Master Draco.
Im telling you, Astoria, said Master Draco,
that I was just getting a bit of dust out of Grangers
Another flaw in Tinkers Plan, Tinker realised, was that
it had left Just-Hermione Granger looking like a Blast-Ended Skrewt
with a head cold. Tinker murmured a quick charm and, although
Just-Hermione Granger looked momentarily stunned, once that had
passed, she was back to being pretty again.
Then tell me why she looks like shes just walked
out of Madam Malkins Beauty Parlour, demanded Miss
Astoria Greengrass. And why she was going on about the size
of your thing?
Tinker wondered what thing Miss Astoria Greengrass was
I heard her, Malfoy! Oh, its huge! Let me
rub it for you! Well dont let it go to your head,
mister, because shes obviously not seen that many!
Master Draco turned a peculiar shade of red, and it looked as
if he were having trouble deciding how to reply. If youve
seen lots of others, Astoria, he said, at last, youll
know that mine is well above average.
Please, said Just-Hermione Granger, this is
all a misunderstanding
Do you think Im thick, lady? said Miss
Um... said Just-Hermione Granger.
Astoria, said Master Draco, I have a bottle
of Veritaserum in my potions workshop. Im perfectly willing
to swallow a dose of it, if thats what itll take to
Miss Astoria Greengrass opened her mouth to answer him, but then
she seemed to change her mind, and closed it again. She thought
for a few moments. Then she said, Theo Nott has asked me
to run away with him. It seems it took our engagement to
make the poor lambs mind up.
Master Draco glanced at Just-Hermione Granger; Just-Hermione
Granger shrugged. Both of them looked perplexed.
So? said Master Draco.
So, said, Miss Astoria Greengrass, hes
richer than you, and his family names not so tarnished and,
though he may not be as good in bed as you are, he does dote on
As Ive just said, said Master Draco, so?
Running away with Theo really doesnt appeal to me,
said Miss Astoria Greengrass. I want a big society weddingthe
sort your mother was organising.
You want Draco to take the blame for a breakup, said
Just-Hermione Granger, so that you, as the innocent party,
can still have a big do with Theo Nott.
Give the woman a pumpkin pasty, said Miss Astoria
Tinker watched anxiously. Things were no longer going quite according
to his Plan but, as far as he could see, the outcome was likely
to be the same...
Fancy another trip to Paris, Granger? said Master
And to both Tinker and Master Dracos astonishment, Just-Hermione
Granger ran from the room in a flood of tears.
Tinker hid behind the curtains, his big eyes brimming, his huge
At the last minute, his Plan had gone so wrongJust-Hermione
Granger had run away and, although Master Draco had chased after
her, hed returned moments later to announce that shed
disappeared into the Floo and, since then, Master Draco
and Miss Astoria Greengrass had been sitting side-by-side, in
If you want to break off the engagement, Astoria,
said Master Draco, suddenly, youre more than welcome.
But youll have to find another excuse.
I could catch you shagging someone else
And doubly offend Granger? I wanted you, honest,
but youd run away andwell, you know meI just
cant keep it in my trousers! Shed never
have me after that.
Tinker huddled behind the curtains.
Go and talk to her, said Miss Astoria Greengrass.
Granger would never be involved in anything dishonest
or disreputable, said Master Draco, shaking his head. And
I should never have assumed she wouldthats what upset
her so much. He sighed. Maybe she isnt the woman
for me, after all.
No, said Miss Astoria Greengrass, sarcastically.
Thats why you dont shout out her name.
Master Draco was silent for a few moments. Then he said, Run
that by me again?
You shout out her name, Draco. When youre coming.
Tinkers ears shot up. Suddenly, he had Another Plan. He
didnt know where Master Draco had been coming from, but
he did know where Tinker was going to.
Just-Hermione Granger squealed, grabbed a towel, and clutched
it to her chest; Tinker yelped, clamped his hands over his eyes,
andfor good measureturned his back.
What are you doing here? said Just-Hermione
Tinker needs to talk to Just-Hermione Granger, said
Tinker. Its urgent.
Yes... Well... All right, said Just-Hermione Granger.
Go and wait in the lounge. I wont be long.
Tinker immediately Apparated to the lounge and found
himself a sofa to sit on. It was big and soft and flowery, and
piled high with cushions, so he sat on the very edge of the seat,
with his feet dangling and his hands clasped in his lap.
Tinker looked around.
Just-Hermione Grangers home was small and very... colourfulthere
were silk hangings on the walls, and patterned rugs on the floor,
and piles of books everywhere; the windows were decorated with
curtains of golden stars, the doors with wreaths of holly, and
the table with a cluster of red candles. Tinker decided he liked
it. It was warm and friendly, like Just-Hermione Granger herself.
Just-Hermione Granger came in wearing a big, fluffy housecoat,
and sat down next to him. Now, she said, kindly, what
can I do for you?
Master Draco isnt happy, said Tinker, having
decided thatwhere a subtle and cunning Plan had already
failedhonesty was probably the best policy.
Just-Hermione Granger looked confused, so Tinker kept talking:
Master Draco says that Just-Hermione Grangers the
only woman for him, and Miss Astoria Greengrass says that Master
Draco calls out Just-Hermione Grangers name whenever he
Tinker noticed that Just-Hermione Grangers face and neck
had turned very red, but he gabbled on: And if Miss Astoria
Greengrass marries Master Draco, and comes to live at Malfoy Manor,
Master Draco will be so unhappy, and hellhellhell
get all bitter and twisted, and
Tinker realised that he was sliding down an extremely slippery
slope, and began beating his head against the arm of the sofa
(though the arm of the sofa was very soft).
Tinker! Just-Hermione Granger seized his head and,
gently, held him still. You dont need to do that,
Tinker; not in here! Here is a special place, where house-elves
can say whatever they think and feel without having to punish
Tinker wasnt sure he really believed Just-Hermione Granger
but, just in case it was true, he said exactly what he was thinking
and feeling: Just-Hermione Granger must marry Master Draco.
That would never work, Tinker, said Just-Hermione
Granger. Then she murmured, to herself, Paris showed me
Tinker had heard Master Draco mention Paris, in the Library.
What happened in Paris, Just-Hermione Granger? he
Just-Hermione Granger sighed. Your Master Draco,
she said, invited me to an exhibition of ancient Portkeys,
at the Musée de la Magie. And it was wonderful, Tinker.
Tinker noticed that Just-Hermione Grangers face had become
all shiny and bright. We were there for three days, and
we went to Muggle places as wellto the Louvre and the Musée
dOrsayand Draco was soso intelligent and interested
in things, and open-minded, andand I thought Id found
my soul mate... We didnt,shed turned red
againyou know,Tinker didnt
know, but he didnt say anythingbut I think we
would have done...
She gathered Tinker close, and cuddled him. Yes, Im
sure it would have happened, if his father hadnt summoned
him... I thought at first that his mother must be illhe
was so worried. But no, it was just his father, telling him to
dump the Mudblood. I said that if he did, we could have no future
together. But he went, Tinker. She kissed the top of Tinkers
head. He Apparated me back home, and then he scurried back
to his father.
Tinker could well imagine the spells that would have hit the
ventilators if Master Draco hadnt gone home...
I couldnt be with a man, said Just-Hermione
Granger, who would put his fathers merest whim before
What if Master Draco has changed? mumbled Tinker,
Tinker felt Just-Hermione Granger shake her head. A leopard
cant change its spots.
Tinker wasnt sure how leopards came into it, but he agreed
that Master Dracos changing was a bit of a long shot. What
if Master Draco loves you, he said.
Oh, Tinker...! said Just-Hermione Granger, hugging
And Just-Hermione Granger began to cry again.
Tinker awoke to find himself buried in Just-Hermione Grangers
Someone was hammering at the door: Granger! Granger,
It was Master Draco! Tinker struggled to free himself from Just-Hermione
Mm? said Just-Hermione Granger. Wha?
Is that Draco...?
Mebee Dust-Amyny Grenja shud goan see, said
Tinker, through a mouthful of housecoat.
Yes... Yes, she said, releasing Tinker as she swung
her feet to the floor and stood up. Ill just... Um...
Tinker watched Just-Hermione Granger disappear through the lounge
door, then he slipped behind the sofa, and hid. He heard Just-Hermione
Granger open another door.
Merlin, said Master Draco, you look terrible,
Thank you, said Just-Hermione Granger.
Tinker heard her padding back, with Master Draco behind her,
and he quickly muttered his eye de-reddening and nose de-swelling
charm. He felt the sofa move as Just-Hermione Granger sat down,
Astoria and I have split up, said Master Draco. Weve
yet to work out all the formalities, but weve agreed it
between ourselves. And Astorias given me her word,he
added, quicklythat you will not be mentioned,
and that my name will not be linked to any third-party witch.
Well come up with some arcane, pure-blooded reason for the
breakupmaybe you can help us find an ancient curse or something...
Just-Hermione Granger said nothing. Tinker peeped round the sofa.
Just-Hermione Grangers arms were folded across her chest,
and her face, despite Tinkers charm, still looked like a
very grumpy potato.
Tinker crawled back to safety.
What about your father? said Just-Hermione Granger,
at last. She sounded even crosser than she looked.
What about him?
Draco! I told you in Paris! We cant have any sort
of relationship if I dont come first with you, and
you dont come first with me!
And do I come first with you? said Master Draco.
Of course youohhhh! Just-Hermione Granger
cried out in frustration. Tinker felt her little fists pound the
sofa, and he could imagine the smug look on Master Dracos
Then marry me, Granger, said Master Draco.
Tinker held his breath.
No! cried Just-Hermione Granger. Tinker felt her
stand up. No, Draco! Im not going to be second best
to your mother and fatherIm not going to rank somewhere
behind your pure-blood friends! No!
Hermione, said Master Draco.
And Tinker heard true love in his voice, and he sensed
that Just-Hermione Granger had heard it, too. There was a long,
long silence, then Tinker heard Just-Hermione Granger moan. He
crawled out from behind the sofa, and peered over the arm.
Master Draco was kissing Just-Hermione Granger, andthough
Tinker didnt know much about kissinghe could tell
that Just-Hermione Granger was enjoying it. And, as Tinker watched,
Master Draco lifted Just-Hermione Granger into his arms, and carried
her out of the lounge and into another room, kicking the door
shut behind them.
Tinker hurried to the door and, pressing his one of his big ears
to the wood, he listened.
There was no more arguing, just a gentle murmuring, and some
sighing, and then a quiet, rhythmic squeaking.
Suddenly, some instinct told Tinker that this was the
thing that hadnt happened in Paris, the thing that Just-Hermione
Granger had wanted so much, the thing that made her face light
up when she thought about it...
And Tinker Apparated home.
A week later
Tinker dipped his quill in the inkwell, thoughtfully.
Christmas dinner had been eaten, and the family were relaxingMister
Lucius Malfoy and Mrs Lucius had gone for a walk in the grounds,
Master Draco and Just-Hermione Granger were in the Libraryall
the cleaning up had been done, andsince this was the Season
of Goodwillthe house-elves had been allowed to take a few
moments for themselves.
Two days earlier, Master Draco had astonished Mister Lucius Malfoy
and Mrs Lucius by announcing that he had not only broken off his
engagement to Miss Astoria Greengrass but that he was also planning
to marry Just-Hermione Granger, move out of the Manor, and live
with her in Muggle London.
Mister Lucius Malfoy had threatened to disinherit Master Draco.
Master Draco had told Mister Lucius Malfoy to do his worst.
Then Mrs Lucius had stepped in, andafter persuading Mister
Lucius Malfoy to release Master Draco from a Jelly-Legs Jinx,
and after helping Master Draco into a chairshe had suggested
a compromise: if Master Draco insisted on marrying a Muggle-born,
she had said, he must agree nevertheless to raise his children
with a full understanding of their pure-blood heritage, and if
he and his wife-to-be refused to settle at Malfoy Manor, they
must at least live in the house that Mister Lucius Malfoy would
buy for themYes, Lucius, she had said, buy
for them,as a wedding present.
Master Draco hadunseen by anyone but Tinkeruncrossed
his fingers, and agreed.
Mrs Lucius had immediately owled Just-Hermione Granger to tell
her that Mister Lucius Malfoy and she were delighted with Master
Dracos second choice of wife.
Tinker, privately, doubted that that would be the end of it,
but he was certain thatwhatever happened in the futureJust-Hermione
Granger would be more than equal to it. After all, it had been
Just-Hermione Granger whod negotiated Tinkers Christmas
leisure timeand quietly assured him that there would be
more to come.
Tinker chewed the end of his quill as he reviewed his Master
- Mister Lucius Malfoy (according to Just-Hermione Granger)
needs to learn to laugh.
- Mrs Lucius needs to be taught to let her hair down.
- Master Draco needs to realise that taking Just-Hermione
Granger to bed wont always get him out of trouble.
- Mister Harry Potter and Mister Ronald Weasley need to understand
that Just-Hermione Granger will not be talked out of marrying
the man she loves...
The list was long, but Tinker already had Plans.