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Chapter 4: Chapter 4
The Halloween feast was followed by the Halloween Slug Club. Professor Slughorn invited the four contestants and the Slug Club members, Ginny, Harry, Blaise, Cormac McLaggen, Flora and Hestia Carrow. The guests had to be dressed as witches and wizards from the fairy tales.
When Ron saw Hermione, Harry and Ginny leaving for the party, he just said, ’Pathetic.’
’Jealous,’ was Harry’s opionion about Ron.
Hermione’s witch costume was really pretty, a black strapless velvet gown with long Gothic sleeves and a matching witch hat, Ginny was wearing a black velour lace-up corset top with see-through sleeves, a tight-fitting skirt with thigh-high slit and black belt. Harry found her breathtakingly beautiful.
The ceiling and walls of Slughorn’s office were draped with orange hangings, and the professor himself looked like a pumpkin with his large belly and yellowish waistcoat.
Hermione didn’t hesitate too much, she walked up to Cedric who was looking at the photos on the wall.
’That is a photo of Slughorn professor and Tiberius McLaggen, one of his favourite students from a prestigious family,’ Hermione said. ’It might have been taken in… Portugal. Have you been to Portugal?’ She asked cunningly.
’Portugal? No… No.’ Cedric was sipping his pumpkin juice slowly turning back to face Hermione. ’I have been to Norway, Sweden…’
’Sweden?’ Luna Lovegood joined the conversation enthusiastically which was not too typical of her. ’Snorkacks live in Sweden.’
Luna’s costume was weird as usual: black shorts with striped stockings, a black off-the-shoulder top with fingerless gloves, a choker with an eyeball medallion, a witch hat with feather trim and a cauldron-shaped handbag.
’Yeah, I saw one myself,’ Cedric nodded.
’How lucky you are!’ Luna got carried away.
Hermione left them. She was not interested in magical creatures that night. Somebody caught her arm suddenly.
’Mione! So pleased to see you again, honey!’ It was Cormac McLaggen, Tiberius McLaggen’s nephew. Though he was a tall and good-looking quidditch-player, Hermione found him arrogant and aggressive. ’What about leaving the party and have a walk… to find some romantic dark corridors where nobody can see us, babe.’
Hermione frowned and looked around to find Harry for help. Instead of Harry, professor Slughorn was heading towards them, smiling under his walrus-like moustache.
’Professor, Cormac would like to know more about his Uncle Tiberius.’
Cormac glared at Hermione.
’I have some funny stories about him… And lots of photos…Come with me, son.’ Cormac followed Slughorn fuming.
At least, Hermione managed to get rid of Cormac. She felt tired and a bit disappoited. Cedric can’t have been the secret penpal since he has never been to Lisbon, Portugal.
She headed for Cedric and Luna but when she overheard a snippet of their dialogue, she changed her mind.
’Is your hair… dyed?’ Cedric asked.
’No… it’s natural blond…’ Luna was embarrassed.
’Uhm… Nice. Your hair,’ Cedric stammered.
Luna’s pale face was slowly becoming a slight shade of pink.
Hermione quickly changed direction and walked to the big table in the corner of the room, groaned with Halloween delicacies, troll-shaped sandwiches, pumpkin pudding, screaming spice cookies, ginger cake, caramel spiders and ghoul cupcakes.
She decided to taste some ginger cake when suddenly, from the corner of her eye, she saw a tall figure wearing a greenish silk robe decorated with shiny silver stars and halfmoons.
’I thought you have lost your appetite, Granger.’
’The cherry on the top. Malfoy,’ Hermione thought. She was not in the mood to fight with him now.
’Why?’ She asked dryly and picked a plate and a napkin.
’You should realise you have no chance.’ He was smirking.
’You mean, no chance to win?’ She forced herself to stay calm.
’Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean.’ He took a plate, wondering what to eat.
’I have always outperformed you in lessons, Malfoy.’ She said matter-of-factly while looking for a big slicing knife on the table.
’Not always, Granger. Last year I was better than you at both Occlumency and Defence Against the Dark Arts.’
’I got better marks in Potions.’ She spat.
’You were given better mark in Potions only because you handed in a one-hundred-page essay on medieval potions nobody had asked you to write. Anyway, Snape will help me and not you, obviously, in the test.’
Hermione couldn’t say anything. Malfoy was right. Painfully right. She clenced her jaws and tried to concentrate on slicing the cake. It was difficult because of the long Gothic sleeves of her witch costume.
’Besides,’ Malfoy continued, placing a troll-shaped sandwitch on his plate, ’if I’m not mistaken, you can hardly fly… How are you planning to do the last task, playing quidditch, if you can’t even fly two meters on a broomstick without Potter holding your hand?’
Hermione’s whole body was tense with anger and frustration. She knew the blond Slytherin was provocating her, smiling devilishly, and she didn’t know what to answer. She felt sick.
Malfoy put the top of a marzipan jack-o-lantern on his plate.
’What are you doing? That marzipan pumpkin is decoration.’ Hermione got totally pissed off and approached Malfoy, still holding the big slicing knife in her hand. ’Put it back at once.’
Malfoy was still grinning cheekily, only his eyebrows were raised a bit when he saw the knife near his face.
’Hermione, come with me,’ she heard Harry who took the knife carefully out of her hand.
’Yeah, go with him, Granger. Join Saint Potter and the red weasel... your bodyguards.’ Malfoy narrowed his silver eyes mockingly. ’You know that without them you are nobody. You are nothing but a bookworm in skirt.’
His words infuriated the girl even more, she didn’t want to leave without talking back. But Harry held her hand firmly and dragged her away.
Malfoy bit into the sandwitch and noticed Blaise Zabini.
’Blaise, have some marzipan pumpkin,’ he said grinning.
Hermione was sitting in her witch costume on the edge of her bed in the girls’ dorm. The others were enjoying themselves at Fred and George’s Halloween Fancy Dress Party in the Gryffindor common room.
Everybody was happy but her. Everybody had someone to have fun with… Even Luna danced the night away with Cedric.
Hermione was watching the next blank page of her diary for some seconds, then started to write.
Are you there?
The familiar letters appeared soon and Hermione’s face brightened up.
Yes. I have just opened the diary and wished you were here… I kinda missed you… How are you doing?’
She answered quickly.
I had a terrible day. I feel really miserable… Has it ever happened to you that you couldn’t talk back to someone who behaved in a very rude way to you?’
The other may have been thinking for a while then wrote the reply.
No. When it comes to quareling I always know what to say. However, later I may regret it… In fact, that’s what happened to me today. I know I should think twice before throwing insults to others’ face but I tend to be inconsiderate at times… I have an idea. What about making this day better?
Hermione was curious.
What do you have in mind?
The letters appeared slowly this time.
Hermione read the line several times and shook her head.
Ignoring her refusal, the secret penfriend continued.
I’ll be waiting for you in the Astronomy Tower (at the iron door), exactly at midnight. We won’t see each other in the dark… Just… feel each other. I want to feel you. I want to comfort you. I’m very good at comforting girls… I hope you’ll be there. No wands. No candles. Just you and me and the darkness.
There were no more entries. Hermione was gazing at the page in shock. She realised she hadn’t dared to breathe for a while.
Merlin, should she go? A blind date… Blind, in every sense of the word. Meeting the mysterious Mr Right… She felt longing. Longing to meet him, to touch him… And to be touched by him. She wanted to be a desirable and sensual woman rather than a bookworm in skirt.
She looked at the old clock on the wall. The big spider covered the number 12, the little one was slowly crawling towards 9. It was a quarter to midnight.
End of Chapter Four