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Chapter 9: chapter nine
I stood there next to that blank wall for many minutes trying to decide if I should follow Malfoy in there, and discover what exactly it was that he was doing in the Room of Requirement. It was not until the wall in front of me began to change again, alerting me to the fact that he would be coming out, that I quickly left my spot and began to wander back down the hall towards Gryffindor Common Room. As I walked down the hallway, my mind was racing with thoughts of what he was possibly doing in there, but each seemed almost more ridiculous than the next.
At first I figured maybe he was just practicing spells and didn’t want to be caught doing so, but almost immediately I dismissed that thought. I wondered next if he was doing something like what we had done last year, teaching other students certain spells, or maybe more along the lines of throwing a party in there. That was almost as ridiculous as the first, I had seen no other students coming or going so that would have been a very lonely party for sure. I decided that on the next chance I got, I would follow him to that room, summon up some Gryffindor bravery, and find out exactly what he was up to.
At least there was one good thing that came from following Malfoy to the Room of Requirement - my mind had completely forgotten about my most recent heartbreak, or at the very least, it was shoved to the back and would haunt me later. But for the moment, all was peaceful in my mind. I couldn’t help but skip a bit as I neared the common room, a slight childlike joy creeping up on me for no reason. It wasn’t like anything recently had gone my way, but one could only hope that things would be turning around now and the silver lining would come out.
“Password?” The Fat Lady asked me as I approached her portrait.
“Orange Sherbet,” was my quick reply before she swung her portrait open for me to enter into the Gryffindor common room.
It was bustling with activity in the common room, loud conversations all floated over to me as I walked in, unable to identify any of the topics. As I got farther into the common room, I noticed many sixth year Gryffindors hovered around our announcement board, chatting rather excitedly to one another. Curiously, I walked over to the group, wondering what exactly had brought on their excitement. At first, I couldn’t see anything, being an individual of a rather average height, I had a much harder time seeing over the tall frame of Seamus Finnegan in front of me, but once I stood on my tiptoes and leaned ever so slightly to the left, I was able to catch a glimpse of the parchment that caught their attention.
I read through the parchment three times, my own excitement growing each time I read it, making sure that I got all of the information down before leaving the group of sixth years. We were finally going to learn Apparition! It appeared that my good luck was starting to kick in as this was turning out to be a wonderful day! I had been looking forward to these lessons ever since I had learned about it in a book I had read, which I no longer remembered the name of, before I had come to Hogwarts my first year. Any remaining thoughts I had of Lavender and Ron were immediately squashed as I envisioned what it would be like to finally do this bit of magic. This was the one bit of magic that I was extremely excited for, not that I wasn’t excited about any of the other things we had learned so far because I really found this all fascinating, but whenever we were asked as little kids which bit of magic, not that we really believed in magic, we would most want, I always responded with teleportation, but being invisible would be my next choice.
The sixth year girl’s bedroom was empty when I entered it, which was a bit of a blessing, so I curled up on my bed and began reading my Ancient Wizard Ruins book that I had picked up over Christmas break. There was still roughly about an hour before dinner would be served and I wanted to finish up the last four chapters I had left in the book. Instead I soon found the silence lulling me into a peaceful sleep. I was woken up from my slumber by Parvati entering the room talking animatedly to the girl behind her, which appeared to be Lavender, and sat up quickly, my book falling off of my chest as I did so. As I bent down to pick up my book, my eyes fell upon Lavenders and we exchanged a quick glance before I turned my eyesight away and placed my book down on my stand.
I was only ten minutes late for dinner by the time I made my way down there, which meant that I had really only missed Dumbledore’s end of the week speech. It was a rather quiet dinner, with Ron still in the Hospital Wing for the evening, so our normal male dominated conversation of Quidditch was absent and in its place I watched as Ginny took this time of her brother’s absence to flirt with Harry. It was a rather disturbing thing to behold really, watching someone as headstrong as Ginny become the clichéd hair twirling, giggling girl. Alright, maybe she wasn’t twirling her hair, though I imagined her doing so in my mind, but she was doing more than her fair share of giggling, that was for sure.
Sick of the sight before me, I looked around the Great Hall, trying to find anything more interesting than the two next to me. My eyes landed on Malfoy right away, bringing up my thoughts from earlier and what he was up to. His eyes seemed to shift around him, trying to see if anyone was paying any attention to him, though he never looked my way, probably doubting that anyone other than a Slytherin would be interested in what he was up to. I watched curiously as he snatched an apple from the table before him and quickly placed it in his robes. My eyebrows furrowed at his behavior, what was so important about an apple that he felt he needed to sneak it? There was no rule that said we could not take food from the table and actually, it was probably encouraged by the house elves that we do so, and people like Crabbe and Goyle had no problems in taking a snack or ten from the table as they wandered out of the Great Hall and back to the Slytherin Common Room.
Malfoy got up from his table, announcing to his friends, if you could call them that, that he was going back to their common room early and quickly dismissed any who tried to come with him. Deciding that now was my chance to figure out what he was up to, I stood up from my spot as well, waited for him to exit , then promptly excused myself from Ginny and Harry’s presence, though I was sure neither noticed. I felt like a spy as I started making my way through the familiar corridors and starting humming the Pink Panther theme song in my head, since it seemed spy-like, I even made sure to press myself against the walls before peering around the corner to make sure that I wouldn’t be spotted. Quietly, I giggled to myself as I realized just how ridiculous I would look to anyone else who spotted me, though thankfully, everyone was still in the Great Hall eating so there was very little chance that I would run into anyone, besides Malfoy.
Peering around the last corner that would lead to the Room of Requirement, I watched as Malfoy quickly glanced around him as he had done the first time, and threw myself against the wall quickly before he could spot me. I counted to ten silently in my head before once more peering around the corner, seeing only his left foot before it also disappeared. I made my way over to the spot in the wall and watched as it quickly morphed into the normal wall before I paced back and forth thinking in my head three times, that I wanted to see what Malfoy was seeing. The wall before me once again morphed itself, though this time it appeared to be a rather large doorway. Tentatively, I placed my hand on the doorknob, took a deep breath, and pushed the door open.
All I could see surrounding me, was junk. Junk piled high in every which direction and no sign of Malfoy anywhere. I was afraid at first that it hadn’t worked and Malfoy would be alerted that someone else was here but as I stood there quietly in the entrance, there was no sound of anyone coming near. Deciding that I would rather not wait until he came to find me, I set off to the right and began searching, for what I wasn’t sure but I knew that once I found Malfoy, I would know what I was looking for. I was stunned to see just how much junk there was in this room! It seemed almost as if the room itself was a maze in which one could get lost in. Looking around me at the many piles, I recognized some of the junk surrounding me. I found a sock lying on top of a large cage, though what the cage was supposed to hold I did not know, then there was the odd broom here and there, most of which were snapped in half.
“Oomph,” I let out rather loudly as I bumped into something.
Quickly, I scanned around me to make sure that there was no one around and only after determining that there was not, I sidestepped around what appeared to be a couch sticking out of the bottom of a pile and continued on my way, making sure to pay more attention to where I was going. After wandering around the room for at least a good twenty minutes, I decided it was no use following Malfoy anyway and might as well head back to the common room, if only I remembered which way to go to get back from where I was. I had taken so many turns through the piles trying to find Malfoy that I hadn’t really paid attention to which paths I had taken to get me back to the entrance. It just so happened, that after peering around yet another pile I finally found Malfoy. He didn’t seem to be doing anything except walking back through the piles himself, holding on to that apple that he had taken from dinner.
I leaned over a little farther to get a better look at the objects around him, hoping that one of them would give me a clue about what he was doing, but nothing stood out. It was only after I lost my balance that I realized leaning over might not have been the best idea of mine. A loud crash sounded as I landed in the pile beside me, setting off the teetering pile of junk and alerting Malfoy that he was not as alone as he thought.
“Who’s there?” He called out, his voice wavering - bravery had never been his strong suit, or at least that’s what Harry said after the incident in the Forbidden Forest our first year.
I laid there pressed against the pile of junk, hoping that he would not come any closer to the pile and discover me. Though of course, as luck would have it, he came closer to my hiding place and called out once more.
“I said who’s there?” He repeated sounding much braver and louder this time.
His footsteps crashed through the displaced objects on the ground as he walked near, making my heart race in anticipation. This was it, I knew it. Who knew what he would do with me once he found out that it was me following him around Hogwarts trying to figure out what he was up to. Maybe Harry’s theory was right and he had been initiated into the Death Eater ranks, which would definitely spell all sorts of doom for me.
“Granger,” he yelled as he approached my fallen figure.
“Hello, Malfoy,” I said cheerily, hoping to distract him.
“What are you doing here?” He asked as he pulled out his wand and pointed it at me.
“Oh you know, I just fancied a stroll,” I replied in a much calmer manner than how I felt, my heart still pounding rapidly in my chest.
“You fancied a stroll did you? And you just so happened to decide to stroll through piles upon piles of junk?” He asked with the frosty demeanor he was known for.
“Maybe I had a bit of junk myself to part with and felt this would be the best place for it,” I quipped.
“Well if you felt that you must rid the world of yourself, this was a rather great idea, though I wouldn’t mind assisting you off of a ledge if you prefer,” he shot back at me.
“I-you-I, I wasn’t meaning myself,” I told him flustered.
“Well my offer still stands, any time you wish to end your pathetic excuse for a life let me know and I would be more than glad to help out. After all, what are enemies for?” Draco responded before walking away.
My stomach chose that moment to make its hunger known since I hadn’t had much time to eat dinner before chasing after him. I could feel my cheeks burn red in embarrassment at the loud noise in our silence. Malfoy looked back at me from his position a few feet away and tossed a red object at me. It was only after I caught it, that I realized it was the apple he had taken from dinner with him. I turned it over in my hand, wondering if he had done something to it, such as lacing it with poison, when I noticed a slice of the apple was missing. Even more curious than him handing me an apple was the missing slice itself, as it was not like a bite mark, or even a few, but rather a deep slit that cut all the way into the middle of the apple as if someone had just cut that part out with a knife.
I looked at the apple in my hand and then to Malfoy’s retreating figure. He had been acting rather odd lately, not just with this apple, but also seemed to be acting up with Professor Snape, and with his behavior towards me. He was not as callous as he usually was, even compared to the beginning of this year. There was something about him that seemed to be changing, though at the moment I wasn’t sure whether the change would be for good or bad.
AN: Thank you to Giola for being my beta for this story, it really means the world to me! Leave a review and let me know what you thought of this chapter and the slowly growing interaction between Hermione and Draco. As always thank you for reading!