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Chapter 18: The Misreckoned
She twitched, hoping that whoever was trying to stir her would see that she wanted to be left alone. Upon awakening, she was immediately hit with her sorrows from last night. Her mind seemed numb, it tingled inside her head and she wished for nothing more than to rip it out.
“We’re going to be late.” Hermione warned her.
If Ashley wasn’t as concerned about her grades as her best friend was, then she wouldn’t have risen at all.
“We don’t want to be late to McGonagall’s class.” Hermione urged.
Her whole body seemed to ache; she heard her back crack as she slumped up in her bed.
Now that she was up, Hermione seemed to soften. “Come on, you can do it.”
Ashley closed her eyes, willing herself to wake up, her mind screaming for her to get ready. Hermione thrust a brush in Ashley’s hands. Forcing her eyes open, she raked it through her hair reluctantly.
Ashley had fallen asleep in her school uniform the night before, and not wishing to change that morning, descended the dormitory stairs, out of the Portrait hole and down the landing of the seventh floor to make their way to Transfiguration.
Ashley grumbled to herself as Hermione kept a constant twenty feet or so ahead of her, thinking that if she walked faster, Ashley would match her pace. Ashley, who was still not awake, glared at the back of Hermione’s head.
“Ashley!” She whined, “We’re going to be late!”
The blonde witch was too tired to retaliate.
Hermione let out a sigh as they made it to the full classroom. Overhead, the bell rang loudly, signaling the start of class. Professor McGonagall, who was waving her wand to write on the blackboard, turned to look at the newcomers.
She raised her eyebrow. Ashley readied herself for a scolding as the girls took a seat in the middle of the classroom.
“Nearly late.” McGonagall concluded.
Bright, you are, Ashley growled in her head.
“It won’t happen again.” Hermione piped, throwing Ashley a glare.
Ashley took out her quill and parchment as she began to take notes
It was usually her favorite class, but today, her mind was elsewhere and she started to drift…
Then she caught sight of the one person, who at that moment, she hated most. Looking back at her three rows ahead was Draco, gazing as his eyebrow furrowed worryingly.
She threw him the meanest glare she could muster. Her eyes flickered over to Pansy, who was leaning into him, teasing her as she put an arm around his shoulders, snaking a painted fingernail down the material of his robe mockingly. Draco shrugged her off, perhaps too angry at himself to fight her and continued taking notes.
Ashley half-listened to McGonagall’s lecture: “Now, for the exam I want you to study Harper’s Five Magical Laws of Transfiguring Humans…”
She forced herself to focus on her notes, studying the curvature of her handwriting, knowing that she was starting to zone out, but knew it was better than boiling in anger at the two people rows from her, within hexing distance…
She nearly toppled out of her seat when something hit her paper. In her startled state, her ink pot spilled all over her parchment, causing her to curse loudly. Brushing off looks from other students, she cleaned up her ink with a wave of her wand and looked at what was fluttering on her paper.
It was a paper bird, carefully crafted, striped with black lines throughout its entire body. Words made up its stripes, as its wings fluttered on her desktop.
Sorry, it read, in an all too familiar handwriting, scribbled hastily hundreds of times on the bird’s body. At first, she admired its innocent beauty, but looked at it with disgust as she realized its creator.
She looked up to meet Draco’s gaze, his eyes pleading. Withdrawing her wand, she pointed it at the fluttering creature. Making sure that he was still watching, she muttered darkly, “Incendio.”
The little bird was no more as it burst into flames, its wings raised in silent protest.
For a split second, Draco’s face fell in disappointment. Before she could see him do anything else, she looked back to her notes, determined not to give him anymore of her attention.
Before she could return to her papers, McGonagall stern voice pierced the silence, “Accio Bird.”
Students who were furiously scribbling looked up to see the break in her lecture, sure that the incantation was not a part of her lesson, although some cursed as they had to scribble it out. Ashley looked up to see Draco flush as another paper bird zoomed into McGonagall’s hands, beating its paper wings furiously in objection, knowing the professor was not its destination.
She gave Draco a stern look, her thin lips disappearing in agitation. She unfolded the bird, ceasing its movement. The class watched silently as her eyes flitted back and forth.
“Miss Delacour, you and Mr. Malfoy are dismissed to ensure the interrupting of my class will stop.”
Ashley could feel heat rising in her cheeks. Straightening up, she replied, “I have nothing to say to him, Professor.”
McGonagall looked at her sternly, “It wasn’t a request.”
Slytherins snickered and Gryffindors squirmed uncomfortably. She looked to Hermione for help, but she only offered her an awkward shrug.
Forgetting her things, she stormed out of the classroom. In her leave, Hermione bewitched her quill to continue taking notes. Pansy scowled as Draco scooted from the desk, hurrying after her.
“Ashley!” He called, but she was quickly making her way across the courtyard. Draco was quicker, however, in grabbing her and pulling her back to the middle of the hallway.
“Let go of me!” She hissed, snatching her arm back from him, her blue eyes sparkling dangerously. Draco took a step back, her anger startling.
All of her frustration was seeping out of her. If she thought she was mad before, she was seething now. Her body was so hot, she could practically feel her blood boiling.
They stood there for a moment, Ashley glaring at him, Draco wondering what she was going to do.
And then all hell broke loose.
She gave a roar of fury and pounced on him, punching and clawing at any part of him she could grab. Draco was trying to pry her off; looking in fear at the door, hoping Professor McGonagall would storm out to find out what the commotion was, saving him when he realized that Ashley was trying to kill him with her bare hands. He was sure word had spread, knowing Pansy and her need for attention would win out the need to be rational.
Perhaps McGonagall thought he had deserved whatever she dealt him.
Draco frantically fingered for his wand, withdrawing the hawthorn stick out of his pocket.
“Protego!” He gasped. Immediately, as if as strong wind was blowing her back, Ashley started to slide away from him on the floor.
She pushed with all her might against the impenetrable Shield Charm. His chest constricted as he watched her struggle to penetrate his wand work. The harder she pushed without result, the angrier she got. Tears were streaming down her face; choking noises garbled from her throat as she struggled to breathe. Her features had become barbaric: the beautiful Veela was no more; instead, she resembled the savageness of the merpeople below the Great Lake. Her white hair was flailing about her head, as if underwater. Her blue eyes were mere slits in her face and her teeth looked like they had been filed to points.
Was this what happened when Veela’s became angry?
“Stop.” He pleaded weakly.
Ashley gave a few moments more of struggle, but when exhaustion had overcome her, she ceased. Her features looked gassy, as if she was in a soap bubble.
He had never seen her so upset. All because of a misunderstanding. He didn’t know how he would be able to convince her that he did nothing, absolutely nothing with Pansy, even though all the evidence suggested otherwise.
Just when Draco thought she had no fight left, she took a deep breath and screamed, “I HATE YOU!”
As if by some magical force, all of her exhaustion hit him. His shoulders sagged; he hung his head in shame. To his remembrance, it was the first time he had never regretted anything so heavily in his life.
“No, you don’t.” His voiced cracked.
“Yes, I do!” She shot back immediately, “I hate you Draco Lucius Malfoy.”
The words pierced him so deeply the second time, he could almost feel his heart bleeding.
“You don’t understand.” He retorted weakly.
“I don’t understand?” Her voice was shrill, “I don’t understand that sleeping with-with that slut, that scarlet woman…that whore? By all means, please inform me!”
“S-she came into my room,” He struggled to keep his voice steady. Why was he so intimidated by her? He struggled to regain his composure, a moment’s frustration crossing his mind at him being fear of a…of a stupid fairy girl.
What could she possibly to do him?
Leave. A voice cackled mercilessly, somewhere in the dark corners of his mind.
Fear of what she would do next quickly dashed all thoughts of his lack of self control, “She was n-naked.”
“Oh, I’m sure!” She cut him off, “I’m sure she just happened to stride in and her clothes fell off! Happens to me all the time!”
Draco couldn’t look at her; he stared at his polished shoes.
“I…gave…you…everything.” She wailed, her voice hoarse.
He could feel a stinging in the back of his eyes, but it wasn’t from tears. It was the image of her, completely broken before him, looking destroyed. How could he ever get that image to leave him?
She sank against the wall, the hazy charm following her like a shadow. Ashley’s expression quickly went blank, as if her mind had enveloped her, keeping her safe from further psychological harm.
“You have to believe me.” He mumbled, looking down at her.
She didn’t acknowledge him; she didn’t even seem to be breathing. It was as if she had become one of the figurines carved into the castle walls, lost to time, merely something to watch others while she had been confined to eternity’s imprisonment.
The awkwardness alone nearly killed him as he looked down at his hands, fumbling with them foolishly.
Then, a thought sprang into his mind and he swelled with such happiness, she scowled up at him as he exclaimed, “You can watch it!”
Her eyes narrowed, “Watch what?”
“You can see my thoughts, right? Look!” He thrust he hand out to her.
“I don’t want to see you shagging that pig.” She spat.
“Ashley, please.” He knelt down beside her. “I’m surrendering my memory to you.”
She looked at him hard for a moment, contemplating.
“What if you modified it?” She hissed.
“You’ll know.” Draco told her, “I promise.”
Ashley straightened up a little, glaring at the shield around her, “You’ll have to take this off me then, won’t you?”
“Of-of course.” Draco waved his wand, watching restlessly as the shield faded away.
Ashley eyed him wearily as he slowly put his hand out to her.
“If I find out you’re lying,” She warned in a dangerous voice, “we’re done.”
“I know, I know!” He growled, “Just do it!”
Extending her middle finger out to his palm, she pressed on it lightly, as if she didn’t want to touch him anymore than she already had to. Images quickly flooded before him, silently watching as his own memory flashed before him:
He was walking down the corridor where he had trekked so many times before. His black shoes clicked on the stone floor as he unclasped his Head Boy pin from his cloak, securing it into his inside pocket.
He frowned as he looked up at the picture of the fairies, feeling slightly embarrassed as he watched them bathe in their lake.
“Master.” One said, “She is waiting for you.”
“Ashley?” He breathed.
The fairies looked at each other. Before he could question them further, the portrait door opened.
He stepped in eagerly, expecting Ashley to be on the couch, perhaps doing homework while she waited for him. He received a horrifying shock when he saw Pansy lying in his bed, in nothing but her black knickers.
She looked at him with desire, licking her lips playfully. Draco couldn’t remember a time when he was most disgusted.
“What are you doing here?” He growled, “Didn’t I tell you off once before?”
“You were angry.” She slid off the bed in the most provocative way she could manage. “You heard was clouded with Veela muck.”
Draco narrowed his eyes at her, hatred bubbling within him at her insults.
She bit her lip, trailing a finger over her collarbone, over her breast, down her stomach, until it reached her panties, where she playfully tugged at a little, black bow.
“Draco.” She drawled, wrapping her hands around his neck,“I know you missed me.”
“Get off.” He warned.
“Draco.” She purred, kissing him fiercely.
Draco’s face recoiled immediately, he pushed her back, whipping out his wand, crying, “Expelliarmus!”
Pansy flew back, crashing against the bookshelves, causing some of the lighter books to hit her head. A large volume fell upon her hand, making her cry out in pain.
“How dare you!” She cried, getting up quickly.
“Get out!” Draco yelled at her, hurrying over to the bed and throwing her clothes in her face.
“I can’t believe you!” She hissed, pulling her clothes back on, “What has she done to you?”
“More than you ever could.” He enunciated every word with venom.
Pansy’s eyes flashed with anger. She wasn’t finished with her shirt as she hurried over to the door.
Draco looked up when Pansy stood in the portrait frame.
“I suppose it’s your turn now.” Pansy drawled.
Confused, Draco walked up behind Pansy, to get a full view of the horrified Gryffindor, eyes wide with horror as she gaped up at him.
“Ashley.” He breathed.
Ashley dashed away from him as Draco fought Pansy to get out, but she was holding him back. Pansy’s cackle racked his ear, but he was too dumbstruck to do anything. Too shocked to go after her, so he stood there, knowing that he had probably lost everything.
He inhaled sharply, like he had awoken from a deep slumber. He slowly brought his eyes to hers, searching for forgiveness, anger, anything.
She felt beyond embarrassed, unable to bring herself to meet his gaze. She wished she would have given him the chance to prove himself before she had thrown such angry words at him. She felt his grey eyes boring into hers, but she was too mortified to apologize, too humiliated to say anything.
“Please.” Draco whispered. “Forgive me.”
Her head was about to explode with all the things she should be saying, how she should be apologizing instead, that none of this was his fault, it was just a big misunderstanding that was set up perfectly for them to fail.
She felt herself nodding, accepting his apology. There were many things she wished she could offer him as condolence, but her silent acceptance was enough for Draco. He rose, turning to make his way across the courtyard, back into the main part of the castle. He was drained, and if he didn’t lie down within the next few moments, he was afraid he would fall over.
“W-where are you going?” She found her voice at last. It sounded small, like a scorned child begging for a parent’s redemption.
“I’m exhausted.” He turned back to her, “Seeing as we’re kicked out of class, I’m going to my room.”
“Take me with you.” She pleaded, tears flooding her eyes once more. Shaking, she managed to stabilize herself enough that she could get up and cautiously walk over to him.
He looked dejected, softly adding, “Whatever you want, Ash.”