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Chapter 5: chapter five
A few weeks later, I still found myself ignoring Ron and Lavender, who seemed to be closer than ever. This proved to be problematic for me as I had been expecting to go to Professor Slughorn's Christmas party the following evening with Ron. While I would be able to save myself the hardship of using another full bottle of Sleakeasy’s Hair Potion, it would seem rather pathetic to go it alone. Not to mention, that this would finally give me a chance to make Ron jealous. They always say that food is the way to a man’s heart, but I knew from experience that the way to Ronald’s was through jealousy. He had not taken kindly to me going with Viktor Krum to the Yule ball two years ago, and I hoped that he would have the same reaction tomorrow. If he showed even the smallest amount of jealousy towards my date, I could at least hold onto a hope that Lavender would not be a permanent fixture in his life.
Now only one problem remained, I had to find someone to go with me tomorrow night. And it wasn’t like I could take just anyone, I wanted Ron to get jealous after all, and if I took someone like Neville, Ron would chalk it up to nothing more than friendship and the plan would never work. I sighed as I looked around the Gryffindor common room, trying to find someone who would make Ron jealous. There weren’t many guys here that would do the trick, or at least not to the extent that I wanted them to. But there had to be someone who would get Ron to react with such furor.
At first, I thought of Zacharias Smith. He was relatively good looking and after the way that he commentated the Quidditch match a few weeks ago he would definitely annoy Ron. But I wasn’t looking to just annoy Ron, and decided that Zacharias would be a last moment choice. Surely there had to be someone who would make Ron jealous? Ron was on good terms with almost all of the Gryffindor’s so that made asking any one of them harder.
Then I heard it, that laugh. It belonged to one of the only Gryffindors that Ron could not stand. Why had I not thought of it before? Cormac Mclaggen had tried out for Keeper against Ron earlier in the year, and ever since then, Cormac seemed to rub Ron the wrong way. It didn’t help that Cormac was also a member of the Slug Club, an honor that Ron had not received. And it had seemed like Cormac had been interested in me earlier this year. I hoped that he was still interested and dateless for tomorrow’s party.
It took a while to find him through the packed common room, it had seemed that everyone decided to push off their packing until at least tomorrow night and were instead taking advantage of not having curfew. Cormac was with a couple of his seventh year friends on the couch laughing at something one of them had said. I watched them for a moment and wondered if I really wanted to do this. There was a reason after that I had ignored Cormac’s advances at the beginning of the year. Of course, it only took one look over at Ron and Lavender in the corner of the room, to set my plan into stone. This would all be worth it in the end if I could get Ron jealous.
I stood off to the side of the room for a moment and watched Cormac interact with his friends. They were the typical guys, making lurid jokes and suggestive comments. It was a wonder that any girl could be interested in them. But even I had to admit that he was good looking. He was a tall and broad shouldered boy, with short dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. The least attractive feature was his over confident smile that was almost always plastered on his face. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for his arrogance, I wouldn’t be dreading an evening being spent with him.
“Cormac,” I said, as I approached his group, feeling slightly nervous at asking him in front of his friends, but it was now or never. “I was wondering if you would like to go to Slughorn’s Christmas party with me tomorrow night.”
His friends lightly sniggered at me but Cormac ignored them. “I would be delighted to take you Hermione,” he said, that over confident grin taking over his face.
“That’s great,” I replied, not at all excited about the prospect of spending the night with him.
I got down to the common room just a few minutes before Slughorn’s party was set to start and looked around, Cormac was nowhere to be seen. At first, I let out a small sigh of relief; I wouldn’t have to put up with his arrogance all night. But then I saw Ron, and remembered that the whole point of asking Cormac was to make Ron jealous, and I couldn’t do that if Cormac didn’t show up. I was about ready to give up on Cormac, when he finally came down from the boy’s dormitory, and with perfect timing too. Ron had just begun making his way over to me, when Cormac cut him off. I wasn’t sure if Cormac knew my plan, or if he had his own reasons to want to make Ron jealous, but I watched as he shot Ron a crooked grin as he grabbed hold of my hand.
“Cormac,” I said, sliding my hand out of his.
“Are you ready for our date, Hermione?” he asked loudly, Ron’s face and ears turned a deep shade of red.
“As I’ll ever be,” I responded as he tried to slip his arm around my waist, but I easily moved out of his embrace. I could just hear him whisper over the common room activity, “you slippery little minx,’ and I sighed, it was going to be a long night.
When we made it down to Slughorn’s party, it was already in full swing. His office was completely transformed from the normally cold and dim lit room into a bright and warm one. There was a roaring fireplace on the far side of the wall giving off the majority of the heat and light, but there were also candles floating in the air with scattered bits of mistletoe to accent them. The mistletoe made me nervous though, and had to keep in mind to watch where I stepped tonight, so as to not get caught under it. I definitely wouldn’t put it past Cormac to try something tonight and the mistletoe would do all of the work for him, keeping the person trapped underneath it until they were freed by a kiss.
I jolted in my place as Cormac positioned his hand on the small of my back and began to lead me around the room. Slughorn was off to the side of the room, nearest the fireplace conversing with Michael Corner, and looked rather disinterested in the conversation, when he caught sight of me. He quickly made excuses to Michael and skirted around the room to reach me.
“Ah, Miss Granger, Mr. McLaggen, glad to see that you could both make it to the party. What do you think of it?” he asked us both, gesturing to the whole office.
“It’s wonderful, Professor. I must say, you did a really great job with the decorations,” I told him as I gazed around the room once more.
“Well thank you Miss Granger, but actually, I uh...I had the house elves do the work,” he said, as his cheeks tinged with a light blush at my praise.
I was about to tell Slughorn exactly what I thought, that using the house elves in such a way was demeaning and that they had better see some form of pay for their job, but was cut off by Cormac. “My Uncle Tiberius told me all about the parties that you threw back in the day; he said that there was nothing like them. I have to say that I agree. You have quite the set up and even the help look presentable, which for some, this is probably the first time that they do.” At this he eyed up Neville from across the room passing out whatever was on the silver tray.
Cormac turned back to Slughorn and continued to go on about his Uncle and just how close they were and I took my opportunity to leave. I backed away slowly at first, not wanting Cormac or Slughorn to take notice of me leaving, and once I was at a safe distance, I made sure to blend myself in with the crowd. There was a snack table that I spotted near the door, and I made my way over to it, wanting to grab some pumpkin juice.
“There you are. I wondered where you had gone off to,” Cormac said as he stepped in place next to me at the table.
“I wanted something to drink, and I didn’t want to interrupt your conversation with Professor Slughorn,” I told him.
He grabbed a hold of my arm and wrapped it around his own as he started walking away, pulling me along. I felt as if I was some prized possession being shown off as he slowly strolled around the room aimlessly. Or at least I thought that it was an aimless stroll until I saw some mistletoe hanging from the ceiling not far away and in the direction we were headed. My mind began to work overtime trying to figure a way out of this dilemma; if he got me under the mistletoe I would be stuck in that spot until I was kissed. And there was no way that I wanted him to kiss me. At first, I tried to pull my arm out of his grasp, but he had a tight grip and wouldn’t be deterred.
I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I couldn’t let him get me under that sprig of mistletoe. It didn’t matter if I thought that he was good looking, I just didn’t want him to kiss me. Besides, if Ron were to find out that I kissed someone else, he would never forgive me. It was one thing to try and make him jealous, but this would make him angry. I felt Cormac’s grip on me loosen slightly as we neared the mistletoe, and I took a chance, and pushed off of him, catching him by surprise and sending him into the trap of the mistletoe.
I stood rooted to my spot for a moment as I watched him try to move away but unable to do so. He looked at me, with a smirk on his face, and puckered his lips, waiting for me to come and release him. I couldn’t help the laugh that escaped my lips as I turned and left him behind, feeling sorry for the girl who would release him. Or maybe he wouldn’t be released, and would be stuck under that sprig until the party ended. I liked that thought, though I did feel bad for leaving him behind.
I looked for the nearest place that I could hide, and found a small section that was separated off from the rest of the room by curtains. It would at least be a good area for me to go and collect my thoughts, so I quickly made my way over to it. The curtains were all different colors and while they were a divider from the rest of the room, they were shear so I could still see the people moving around on the other side. I watched for a few moments as people walked by, completely ignoring the corner of the room I was hidden in. There were a few times that I thought someone was going to come back here, but at the last moment they would turn away. So it came to my surprise when suddenly, the curtains were ripped back. At first, I was afraid to look up, afraid that Cormac had found my hiding spot, and hoped that if I didn’t look at him, he would go away.
“Hermione, what are you doing?” the person spoke, and I instantly recognized the voice as Harry’s. I let out a small breath of relief and looked up at him.
“I’ve just escaped; I mean I’ve just left Cormac over there,” I said pointing in the direction that I had left Cormac. (*)
Harry shot me a strange look, wondering exactly what I had meant about escaping Cormac, but he didn’t say anything. I quickly peaked out around the curtain, and noticed that Cormac was headed in this direction and silently hoped that he would turn away like everyone else had. But of course, he was not to be deterred from me and eased his way back behind the curtain. I held my breath, hoping that he wouldn’t notice me as I tried sneaking away from where I had been looking out the curtains. I waited until I made it to the snack table to slow down and let out the breath of air.
I yawned and looked up at the clock, the party had already been going for over an hour now, and I decided that it was as good of a time as any to leave. There was no point in me staying, if I hadn’t made Ron jealous by then, I wouldn't have done it by staying any longer. Just as I was about to leave, a loud ruckus from the hallway made me stop in my tracks.
“Let’s just see what Professor Slughorn has to say about this,” Filtch drawled out as he dragged an irate Draco Malfoy behind him into the room.
“Alright, so I was going to crash the party,” Malfoy said, the room quieting down at the altercation in front of them.
I watched as Professor Snape swooped in and tugged on Draco and pulled him out of the room. There was definitely something strange going on with him but I still didn’t know what it was. If I had to hazard a guess though, it had to do something with the room of requirement; why else would he have been so adamant about keeping the events quiet. He even broke up with Pansy for mentioning it, so there had to be something that I was overlooking; I just wasn’t sure what it was.
Harry quickly made his way past me, the familiar cloth of his invisibility cloak tucked under his arm, and I moved to follow him. He was set in his thoughts that Draco was up to something, and while I agreed with him there, I did not think that Draco was capable of what Harry suggested. I watched as Harry quickly unfolded his cloak and threw it around him, disappearing from right in front of me.
“Harry,” I whispered harshly, not wanting anyone to overhear.
“Hermione! You gave me a right fright,” Harry said, pulling down the hood of the cloak so just the head of his body appeared.
“You don’t have to go after them, Harry. You don’t know that they are up to anything, so just-“
“Exactly Hermione, we don’t know for sure that they are up to anything, but this could prove it. Malfoy was trying to sneak about tonight before he got caught by Filch, I can guarantee it. I have to do this.”
With that, Harry disappeared under his cloak once more and I was left alone in the hallway. I was half tempted to follow after him but I knew that doing so would only make him mad at me, and I had already lost one friend this year, I wasn’t prepared to lose another. So instead, I turned and moved my tired body back towards Gryffindor tower. I had had enough excitement for one day.
AN: Hey everyone, I hope that you enjoyed the new version of chapter five! I hope to have chapter six edited and up soon! As always, I would love a review to let me know what you liked/didn't like! Thanks for coming by and reading!
(*)This was taken from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince U.S hardcover page 317