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Chapter 14: Intuition
Instinct. Intuition, gut- feelings or a sixth sense. However you would choose to define it, it was something that I had never believed in. Divination, fortune telling and predicting the future, were all absolute nonsense in my opinion. Every day I made decisions. I made my own decisions and they were not pre- determined by anyone or anything. Destiny and fate just did not exist. Instinct was the exact same. How could someone predict danger? How could someone ‘just know’ that something was about to happen. Perhaps they had wished for it and thought about it happening and so when it did actually happen, they could claim it was all down to fate or a sixth sense that they had.
In the last seven years, I had broadened my mind more than I could ever have imagined. I had come to accept that magic was real- it was now part of my everyday life that witches existed, that broomsticks could fly and that people could pretty much do anything that they wanted so long as they had a wand in their hand. But for some reason, instinct was just a step too far for me to accept. Harry would often say that he ‘just knew’. It was a phrase that I had heard so often, so many times before. He just knew that Dumbledore wanted him to complete a task; he just knew that Snape was evil and more often than not, he just knew that Malfoy was up to something. I had heard these phrases so many times in the past seven years that I had just come to take them with a pinch of salt. I would just nod along in agreement with Harry and let him vent his theories while all the time, I was secretly rolling my eyes and thinking that he was talking a whole load of rubbish. Although rather annoyingly Harry’s little feelings usually turned out to be spot on, but I just put that down to his unfaltering luck, not to mention his extreme nosiness.
Facts. Cold hard facts were what I believed in. Which was why it was so completely unnerving that I was getting that uneasy feeling in the very pit of my stomach, that some would quite aptly call ‘gut- feelings’. That feeling that every sense in your entire body is on alert. You can feel each individual hair rise on your arm; you are so completely aware of your own breathing that it almost feels like you have just run up an entire flight of stairs; your legs feel like jelly, ready collapse under you at any given moment, making you so completely aware of every single movement that you make. I knew very precisely what I was feeling and for a person who prided themselves on being sensible, it was something that was not sitting well with me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like I was feeling that the world was going to end or that a great disaster was going to befall us all. It was nothing quite as major as that, but there was a definite atmosphere and I just knew deep down that something was going to happen.
These feelings that I had been experiencing, this so called intuition, had started very suddenly and I could pinpoint the exact moment that I had started to feel this way. It had happened a week and half ago at my last detention. The moment that Draco Malfoy had turned away from me after uttering three simple words that had left me completely confused and utterly bewildered.
The whole conversation that we had was quite frankly bizarre and I could not fathom why he had started it or why he was interested at all. And as for the way that he had ended it, the way that he had looked me in the eye and said… well, what he said, just left me feeling like something was not right. Either he said what he said because he had some wicked ulterior motive and was just trying to get information out of me to wind me up, or he was being genuinely sincere. I didn’t know which I found to be the most alarming. I knew that Malfoy couldn’t have possibly been sincere as that would have implied something that I just could not believe and so that led me with the only logical conclusion which was that he was plotting something.
Yet something about his manner, something about the way he said he didn’t know who should be my boyfriend and the way he looked at me and everything about the whole situation just screamed to me that he was implying that he knew exactly who should be my boyfriend. If the words had come out of any mouth other than his, then there would be only one conclusion that I would have drawn from those words. But it was Malfoy who had said them and so I knew that there was no way that he could have meant that, which was why my instincts were immediately awakened. I remember every bizarre detail of that conversation, from the way I went as still as a statue, frozen in complete confusion, to the way Malfoy clammed up, seeming to have sensed that he had said too much or said something wrong and in that one split moment, a wall went up between us.
In the days that followed anyone looking at us during potions class or even during detention would have thought that absolutely nothing was wrong. There was absolutely nothing unusual at all about the way we behaved towards each other. There wasn’t even a hint of animosity. We were just two students who spoke only to each other when we absolutely had to and turned so polite to each other, putting in extra pleases, thank you’s and after you’s. To anyone observing, we were model students. However all you had to do was look closer and read between the lines. If anyone had bothered to pay any attention to us at all, which people in potions class rarely did as people were still a little pissed off and quite probably a little scared of us after the whole blowing apart the classroom incident, they would have noticed that we never so much as looked at each other, we never made eye contact at all. Well, I may have snuck in the odd glance, but I always made sure he never saw. Both of us sat up perfectly straight with perfect posture and perfectly controlled movements, as if we were thinking about each of our actions so carefully, like we were trying not to draw attention to ourselves and we never stayed together for a second longer than necessary and after all the sharing at the previous week’s detention, we never spoke unless it was strictly about potions or detention, nothing personal at all.
The atmosphere between us growing every day, until it was feeling almost unbearable. Like there was a tension in the air. I was amazed that all the other people around us couldn’t sense it. It was something that I was completely aware of the entire time. I was completely aware of him the entire time. I felt like a hunter stalking its prey, or perhaps I was the prey, being completely aware of the hunter. He was always on my radar. I was aware of every move that he made in class, tensed up in every detention when he brushed past me in the narrow aisles of the library. I was always on the lookout in the corridors so that whenever I saw a flash of blonde hair, I would take a different route just to avoid walking past him. I would spend the majority of my meal times, glancing at the doors and the Slytherin table to see if he was there yet, just so that when I knew he was there, I could spend the next half an hour determinedly avoiding looking over at him. Without even trying and without me even fully realising, Draco Malfoy had come to occupy the majority of my thoughts. The amount of daydreaming that I now did in a day was becoming ridiculous. Going back and analysing that last conversation and trying to decipher what he could possibly have meant.
Harry and Ron were getting more than just a little annoyed at me. Ron in particular. Ever since he had broken up with Lavender, he had been back spending time with us. Harry and Ginny usually wanted some time alone, which meant me and Ron were spending more time together. Alone. Which was awkward to say the least. All throughout the summer, I would have given anything to have just had an hour alone with Ron, just to talk to him and spend time with him, yet now that it was a reality and he was by my side every spare minute of every day, I wanted nothing more than for him to go away and give me a little bit of peace.
I know I may have sounded a little harsh, but he was constantly there. He was always by my side, always asking for help with homework, always trying to talk to me when I was reading and always sitting just that little bit too close to make me feel uncomfortable.
Like I said, Ron was getting more than a little annoyed with me and my vacantness. Ron was the sort of person who could easily have one- sided conversation; he would just talk and talk and as long as you gave the occasional ‘yep’ and ‘uh- huh’, he was perfectly happy to just keep on talking. But over the last week I had been caught out more than once, when Ron had realised that I hadn’t been listening to a word he was saying.
‘So what do you think then?’
Crap. Once again I was not listening to a word that Ron was saying. Mainly due the fact that I had once again just gotten distracted by a flash of blonde hair entering into the great hall. My eyes had followed him all the way to the Slytherin table. He was alone again. Something that I was noticing more and more. He walked, head bent down, halfway down the table and sat down in an empty seat, before helping himself to some chicken pie.
‘Hmm, what?’ I said, my eyes flashing back to Ron’s eager face, as he sat opposite from me, aware that he seemed to be waiting for some kind of response.
‘I said, what do you think?’ he replied, with what seemed like slightly hopeful eyes.
O.K so he had asked a question. Great. Now I had a dilemma. There were two responses, yes or no. One would undoubtedly be the correct answer and one incorrect. But which one to choose? Admitting that I hadn’t been listening was not an option; I had a feeling that it would not go down overly well and so I made my decision, keeping everything crossed that it was the correct one.
‘Em, sure,’ I said slowly, waiting nervously for his response. Luckily for me he seemed to sigh in relief and his eyes visibly brightened.
‘Great, so how about Pudifoots then? We can do a bit of shopping first if you like?’
Oh. Shit. That’s what he was talking about. The next day was the first Hosmeade trip of the year and by the sounds of it, Ron had just invited me to spend the day with him, in Pudifoots no less. The pink, fluffy, hearts on the wall, couples make- out zone café in Hogsmeade. You only ever went there if you were dating or if you were trying to date the other person and here I was having apparently just agreed to go with Ron.
I immediately went into panic mode. How was I going to get out of this one? I could say I was ill, but no because Ginny would check and she would know I was lying. I could say I had to study for a test. Yet Ron was in most of the same classes as me, so if I had a test then he would have had one too. I glanced around the great hall, looking desperately for inspiration. My eyes landed on the spot that they had flickered to so often in the last week, landing on their usual target and I was hit with my answer. Something so obvious that it was stupid that I hadn’t thought of it before and I wouldn’t even have to lie.
‘Oh my god Ron, I’m so sorry, I just remembered, I have my detention tomorrow, I can’t go to Hogsmeade,’ I said, trying my best to sound genuinely upset, although feeling increasingly guilty as Ron’s face fell.
‘What? But surely you can still go to Hogsmeade. I mean I’m sure if you asked McGonagall, she would let you go. Couldn’t you ask her?’ Ron asked hopefully.
‘Ron I really don’t think she would let me go. It’s a detention. She’s hardly going to let me out of it.’
‘But you could at least ask though,’
‘No, I don’t think so.’
‘Ron, I said no,’ I snapped, my temper once again getting the better of me.
‘Fine, don’t bother then. Enjoy you detention. Clearly you’d rather be there than with me,’ he spat, as he stood up and walked away from me. My eyes followed him as he stalked out of the great hall, leaving me wondering what on earth was going on. I mean Pudifoots for goodness sake. Did that mean that he was interested in me again? Well the whole thing was just too little too late. And besides I didn’t even like Pudifoots. I gathered my things together and followed him out of the great hall, my eyes drawn to the flash of blonde hair like a magnet. Only this time, they met a pair of steely grey eyes staring straight back. I continued to walk towards the exit, my gaze being broken when I had to swerve to avoid walking straight into a first year who barely came above my waist. I was determined not to look back, even though I was aware of a pair of eyes following me out of the hall.
The following day, everyone in the dormitory was up early, desperate to make the most of their first day in Hogsmeade of the year. Hogsmeade like so many other wizarding communities had been virtually destroyed in the past year by death eaters, Hogsmeade perhaps even more so because it was so close to Hogwarts. Over half of the shops had closed down, leaving the towns empty and deserted, but since the fall of Voldemort, the shops had re- opened, the customers had returned and the towns had come back to life. I was almost sorry to miss seeing the place again, but if not going meant that I didn’t have to go to Pudifoots with Ron then it was a trade I was more than happy to make.
I stayed in my bed longer than I normally would have; waiting till all the madness had died down. All the girls had spent an age making sure that their hair, make- up and outfits were perfect so the bathroom was needless to say in use for the majority of the morning. It was actually quite pleasant to have the common room virtually to myself when I eventually surfaced. There were one or two first or second years floating around, but I had the feeling they wanted to be off exploring the castle without any sixths and seventh years telling them to go away. They had the whole castle to themselves for most of the day and they were certainly going to be making the most of it.
As for me, I made the most having the place to myself for a while. Hogwarts is the sort of place where you are never alone. You are always surrounded by people and even if you want to be alone, there just aren’t that many people that you can be truly by yourself. I wouldn’t say that I was a solitary person, but I did like peace and quiet and sometimes I just felt the need to be alone. That’s why I liked the library so much, I mean yes it did have so many books which just added to its appeal, but it was more than that. It was peaceful and quiet and there were so many alcoves that it almost felt like you were in your own little world. So while I had the place to myself, I certainly made the most of it. To most people, it would probably have been a very boring day, but I quite enjoyed just sitting in front of the fire in the common room, enjoying the complete silence.
When the time came for my detention, I reluctantly put my book down and made my way down to the library, ready to face another two hours of total and utter awkwardness. Malfoy was already there when I arrived. He was facing away from me, already laying out the sheets of paper on the table. He hadn’t seen me or heard me yet, but when I put my bag down on the table, his head whipped around and he looked directly at me, giving me just a very slight nod of the head. I wanted so much to say something to him, to try and ease the tension, but what were you meant to say? How did I even know that he was even feeling the same things I was? In the end I chose silence. When it came to pride or bravery, hell I was going my pride.
A simple nod of the head turned out to be the most interaction we had for the entire two hours. We didn’t say a word to each other or even so much as look at each other. We simply continued with our work in the eerie quiet of the library. It was even more silent than usual, with everyone away at Hogsmeade. I don’t know if it was because the tension between us had been boiling away and increasing all week, or whether it was because I knew that we were for the very first time truly alone, but the atmosphere between us seemed even more charged than usual. I was so aware of him; aware of every move he made; aware of everything that he was doing. I completely tensed when whenever he came within a foot of me, the charge between us tingling even more.
It was almost a relief when Madame Pince finally came and told us that we could leave. I didn’t even stay to help properly tidy up. I just stuffed my things back in any space I could find, grabbed my bag and got as far away from the library as I could possibly go. I needed to think, I needed to breathe, I needed to go somewhere where there was air. Outside was where I needed to go. I made my way through the empty corridors, walking as fast as I could and gave a huge sigh of relief when I finally burst through the doors and into the courtyard. I found a bench at the farthest end of the courtyard and settled down in the seat. I pulled out the book that I was currently reading, hoping that it would help to take my mind of the weirdness of the last two hours.
I don’t know how long I sat there, completely lost in a book about the Hogwarts founders, when I was suddenly aware that I was not alone.
‘Do you mind if I join you?’
I looked up, startled, to find Malfoy standing at the opposite end of the bench from me, looking a little uncomfortable. I looked around the courtyard. Yep there was not a soul in the place, meaning that every other bench in the place was empty. Curiosity got the better of me and I gave him a quick nod, wondering what he wanted.
He sat down beside me and I waited for him to say something. When he continued to sit in silence, I gave up and went back to reading my book. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that his right leg was bouncing up and down and he was tapping his fingers on the bench which more than just a little bit distracting. I soon realised that I had read the same paragraph at least ten times with still no clue what it was about and so I decided that enough was enough.
‘Did you want something?’ I asked laying my book down on the bench beside me.
He turned around to face me, looking almost startled that I had spoken to him. ‘Em, well, no, it’s just that, actually, I was wondering, thinking that maybe, possibly you might want to do something?’
‘Excuse me,’ I said eventually, knowing for sure that I must have mis- heard him.
‘Never mind, it was a silly idea,’ he said in a rush, ‘it’s just that well, since you and I are virtually the only two left in the castle, I thought that you might not want to be alone and you might want to do something, a walk maybe,’ he said almost hopefully.
‘You want to go for a walk, with me?’ I said trying hard to keep the disbelief out of my voice.
‘No, well yes. I mean, I don’t know.’
‘Well I’m glad you clarified that. If you ever actually make up your mind what it is you’re trying to say to me, I’ll be in the common room,’ I said, gathering up my things and making a move to stand up. I didn’t really know what sort of game he was trying to play, but I was more than a little confused and fed up in trying to work out his apparent personality transplant.
‘No wait,’ he begged, reaching out and grabbing my arm just as I had begun to walk away. I pulled my hand away from his grasp like it had been burned.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, taking a step away from me again, holding his hands up in front of him. ‘Look, I just I don’t know. Can we sit down again?’
I eyed him warily and weighed up my options. I either ran away like a coward and never find out what on earth was going on or I stayed to see if I could finally get some answers. As always I was a slave to my curiosity. I always had to know. I had to solve the problem. It was a part of my chemical make- up. Slowly and reluctantly I sat back down on the bench. He seemed almost relieved that I had chosen to stay and I could almost make out the very slight trace of a smile on his lips.
‘Look, we’ve spent a lot of time together these last two months and I know that things have never been exactly great between us, mainly due to me being a prat, but lately I’ve been thinking, feeling that maybe, oh I don’t know how to say it. Do you think that we could maybe try to put some of that behind us? To try and maybe be… friends, possibly.’
‘Friends?’ I said in disbelief, wondering if I had stepped into some other parallel universe. ‘And why would you want to be friends with me? What do we even have in common?’
‘Well I don’t know, but I know things about you that no one else knows and you know things about me that no one else knows so I would say that’s a start.’
On one hand every instinct I had told me to run away and not look back, but some other feeling, deep down in my stomach, told me that I desperately wanted to go. I kept telling myself that I just wanted to go to solve the mystery, to find out why he had suddenly changed, or appear to have changed, yet the other part of me, a part that I couldn’t explain, knew that the mystery had nothing to do with it.
‘Okay then,’ I said eventually and I would swear that he actually looked relieved, ‘but not for a walk. I’m kind of cold,’ I lied. Yes it was a bit cold but nothing that I couldn’t handle. The reality was that I didn’t want to be anywhere that public with him. How would I explain that to Harry and Ron if we bumped into them on the way back from Hogsmeade. I could just imagine their faces. Not something I wanted to experience.
‘Okay, so not a walk. That’s fine. What do you want to do?’
Right somewhere private, somewhere where we wouldn’t be seen. ‘How about the library?’
‘Seriously?’ he said with a look of sheer disbelief on his face.
‘What? What’s wrong with the library?’
‘Well apart from the fact that we have just spent the last two hours in the place for a detention, it’s not exactly the most thrilling place is it? I mean they use it as a punishment. Why would we voluntarily want to spend more time there?’
‘Fine then, so not the library,’ I said feeling more than a little hurt. What was wrong with the library? I went there all the time. ‘So what do you suggest then?’
‘Well, what about the quidditch pitch or getting something to eat?’
‘You want to eat? Where?’ I said skipping past the quidditch pitch suggestion.
‘Well the Owlery of course, it has a great selection of bird feed I hear.’
‘Oh for goodness sake Granger. Where does one usually go to find something to eat in Hogwarts? The great hall of course. Unless you can suggest anywhere better,’ he said with his trademark smirk.
If it had been Ron or even Harry who had given me that answer I would have probably laughed, but the words had not come from them, they had come from Malfoy and he did not make jokes unless they were at someone else’s expense, which meant that he was making fun of me which needless to say I did not appreciate it.
‘I know this may be hard for you, but stop being such a prat,’ I said, regretting the words I was saying as his smirk visibly wilted. Okay so maybe he was just joking. Draco Malfoy had a sense of humour. Who knew? ‘And I do know of a better place as a matter of fact. Somewhere much better than the great hall,’ I said smiling at him, trying to lighten the mood.’
‘Oh yeah, really? I’m intrigued.’
We walked in complete silence as I led the way, with him following only a slight step behind me. It didn’t even occur to me to be nervous about the fact that my back was turned on him. Wasn’t it a well-known fact never to turn your back on your enemy? But then was he even my enemy anymore? I didn’t really have time to contemplate why I was suddenly trusting Malfoy as I eventually reached my destination, stopping directly in front of the painting with the pears that I had been through many times before. I turned to look at Malfoy giving him a quick indication that we were here.
Raising a quizzical eyebrow, he gave a quick look around before turning back to me, with a look of complete bewilderment.
‘So this is your ‘way better’ place. An empty corridor,’ he said slowly nodding his head and pursing his lips. ‘Now not that this isn’t lovely, but are you going to magically produce some food from inside your robes or are we just here to admire the view?’
‘Just wait and see,’ I ordered, tiring of his sarcasm.
I leaned forward to touch the pear trying to find the right spot to touch, well aware that Malfoy was peering over my shoulder with a look that bordered on disturbed. I was pretty sure that at this point he thought I was insane.
‘What are we going to eat the paintings now? To be honest I think I would have preferred the owlery.’
‘Well you feel free to go and eat some bird food if you prefer, but I think I’ll just stay here and perhaps have some of that delicious sticky toffee pudding that they served last night, or perhaps some hot- chocolate. Or then again I might just have both,’ I said, smiling in a very smug and satisfied way that I couldn’t have stopped even if I had wanted to, as Malfoy’s eyes changed from confused to as wide as saucers as the portrait finally swung open.
‘After you,’ I said holding out my arm for him to lead the way, laughing at the look of complete and utter bewilderment on his face as he passed by me.
‘I never even knew these were here,’ Malfoy said, as he stood just inside the entrance of the portrait hole, looking around in wonder at the house elves who were scuttling around the large stone kitchen, clearly busy preparing that night’s dinner.
‘Well where exactly did you think the food comes from,’ I asked, unable to keep the condescension out of my voice.
‘I dunno I suppose,’ he shrugged, ‘I never really thought about it.’
‘Of course you didn’t,’ I mumbled, thinking he wouldn’t be able to hear me, although something about the way that he narrowed his eyes told me that he had.
I quickly moved over to the table nearest us and catching a passing house elf, I quickly asked if it would be okay if we sat at the table and thanked him when he said that it would be fine. I didn’t miss the look that crossed Malfoy’s face as he witnessed our interaction.
We sat in silence for a moment, me sitting perfectly at ease, Malfoy considerable less so, as his eyes darted about, watching the house elves at work.
‘Miss Granger,’ a high pitched voice to my left said. I turned around to come face to face with an older looking house elf, that looked somewhat familiar to me. ‘You has come back again. You has not been here in quite some while.’
‘No, no I haven’t,’ I replied, watching as the house elves large eyes fell onto Malfoy who was sitting opposite me. ‘Em, this is Draco, um, Draco Malfoy,’ I said trying to keep my voice steady as the house already saucer plate eyeballs widened even further, something that not only I noticed.
‘You is most welcome,’ the house elf said eventually, giving in to their nature and being polite at all times. ‘And what can I get for you miss?’
After I had asked for some hot- chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows which was my personal favourite, especially on cold days like today and Draco had asked for the same; which I think had a sneaky suspicion he had only asked for because he was too afraid to ask for anything different, we finally turned to each other and I felt a brief moment of panic. What exactly was I supposed to say to him? What did one say to the person that they had considered to be their enemy for seven years? I was beginning to regret even coming here in the first place. What was I even hoping to achieve? I was about one second away from leaving when Draco eventually spoke first, breaking the tension.
‘So how come you know how to get into the kitchen?’
‘Oh we used to come here all the time. Harry used to like visiting Dobby,’ I answered feeling the familiar stab of pain deep in my chest.
‘Dobby, why was he here? I thought he was set free.’
‘He was. Dumbledore hired him and paid him to work here,’ I answered smiling as the memory of Dobby pottering about in his tea cosy hat and mis- matched clothes, so happy to finally to be free.
‘He paid him?’ Draco asked in disbelief.
‘Yes Draco, he paid him. He was a free elf and he deserved to be paid for his work. He wasn’t some sort of slave. In fact none of them are. They all deserve to be treated better,’ I answered, my voice rising in anger. Typical Draco Malfoy to not even think about others.
‘That’s not what I meant,’ Draco said quickly with a look that was whether of anger or panic. ‘It’s just not heard of though. It’s so unusual to have a house elf that gets paid. I’m glad he was happy though. My Father was so pissed off when Potter conned him into setting Dobby free.’
‘Well he deserved it. He was so happy when that happened,’ I said smiling fondly at the memory.
‘You keep talking about him in the past tense. Did he… I mean did Bella…’
‘Yes. She did,’ was all I could manage to say. I really didn’t want to think about that woman.
‘I wasn’t sure what happened. I knew Bella had thrown the knife but I always hoped she had missed. I should have known she had hit her target. She never missed.’
‘He got hit in the chest. Right above his heart. He died almost straight away. He died in Harry’s arms, right by the sea. He was happy I think. Harry was so distraught. Probably just as much as he was when he lost Dumbledore or Sirius. He buried him. He dug a grave all by himself. He didn’t even use magic. It just seemed important to him after all Dobby did for us.’
‘Of course he did,’ Draco mumbled under his breath, but loudly enough that I still caught it.
‘What did you just say,’ I asked, my voice rising more than a few octaves.
‘What, em, nothing,’ Draco said panic creeping into his features.
‘Yes you did I heard you. And don’t you dare start having a go at Harry for doing something good. He is one of the most genuine and the most decent people that you will ever meet, unlike...’ I said trailing off when Draco’s eyes snapped up to meet mine.
‘Unlike me, you mean,’ he stated simply.
I didn’t deny it and I couldn’t deny it. It had been exactly what I was going to say and we both knew it. Instead I simply turned my head away leaving him in no doubt what I thought. How dare he of all people start having a go at Harry! He had absolutely no right.
‘Look I’m sorry,’ he said after a moment of silence, ‘it’s just that Potter always does the right thing. Everyone always goes on about how wonderful and how good he is and no please let me finish,’ he said stopping me from interrupting as I had just been about to.
‘Look when I was younger I was brought up to believe that I was the best. I was a pureblood and not just any pureblood, I was half Malfoy and half Black. I was the product of two of the greatest wizarding families there have ever been. When I was younger everyone would look up to our family, everyone wanted to be our family and to know our family and when I got to Hogwarts I thought it would be the same.
But then Potter showed up and all everyone could talk about was him and I’ll admit I was jealous. He got all the attention that I should have had. I even tried to make friends with him and he shot me down completely. I was totally humiliated. He chose a Weasley over someone from the greatest wizarding family. It kind of hurt my pride.’
‘And you think that gives you the right to behave however you want? To hurt anybody that you want?’
‘No of course not, but I was young. I did things that I’m not proud of and I am trying to become a better person.’
He paused for a moment again, looking deep in thought as he watched the house elves hurry and rush about the kitchen. He was silent for a long time before he eventually spoke again.
‘Do you think that people can change? Can someone bad, someone… evil, become good again,’ he asked, looking at me hopefully.
I knew what my answer was straight away. I had read enough fairy tales when I was younger to have a pretty solid perception of good and evil and as I had gotten older those beliefs had only intensified. I had seen pure evil. I had looked it right in the eye. I had witnessed first-hand what evil could do and what it was capable of and just how destructive it could be.
I opened my mouth to speak the answer that I so firmly believed in, but as I glanced up and looked at Draco’s expectant face, I faltered. I suddenly realised why he asked me the question. Too late I had realised what he wanted from me. What he wanted me to say.
He seemed to sense my hesitation and his hopeful expression turned immediately anxious. He continued to survey my face, waiting for my answer.
I waivered under his scrutiny and felt uncomfortable under the weight of his expectant stare. Could I really tell him the truth, what I really thought? In the end I turned my gaze away.
‘What?’ he asked eventually when I continued to say nothing, ‘please tell me.’
When I continued to stay silent he shuffled forwards in his seat, perching right on the very end, leaning in closer towards me, limiting my escape, giving me nowhere else to look but directly into his eyes.
‘Please tell me. Just be honest with me. I want to know.’
‘But why does it even matter? Why does it matter what I think? Why do you care?’
‘I just have to know. Please,’ he said sounding so desperate that I knew he wasn’t going to give in.
‘Fine,’ I said eventually, ‘no.’
‘No,’ he repeated sounding unsure.
‘No I don’t think that an evil person can become good again. I think that evil becomes so deep rooted within people that it becomes a part of who they are. They can’t escape from it even if they want to. It’s works its way into their soul and it affects the way that they think and the way that they act. I think that there are some things that a person can’t come back from. Actions so cruel and evil that they change who you are. Change your way of thinking and once you’ve made that change there’s no way back. Once the evil’s inside you it just festers away and becomes so deep rooted that you can’t escape from it. It just spreads and spreads until there isn’t a trace of humanity or conscience left and you end up like Voldemort or Bellatrix where taking people’s lives comes so easily that you don’t feel even the slightest bit of remorse or guilt and the only joy you are able to feel is when you take someone else’s life. So no, I don’t think a person like that could ever become good again.’
When I finished I took a deep breath and worked up the courage to look at Draco’s face to see his reaction to my words and was cautious when I was met with his emotionless face. For an eternity all I could do was look at him while he remained silent and still as a statue.
Eventually he lowered his eyes and in a voice no more than a whisper finally said, ‘so there’s no hope for me then.’
He slumped forward in his chair and rested his elbows on his knees, bringing his hands up to his face and started to run his fingers through his hair before pulling back, covering his face with his hands, still pulling on the ends of his hair.
He looked so desolate and so defeated that despite my best intentions I couldn’t help but feel more than a little sorry for him. The strong self-assured man with the steely grey eyes and an exterior to match, who never betrayed even an ounce of emotion had crumpled completely in-front of me. He looked so much like a lost little boy who had just found out that his world was ending and my heart went out to him. All I wanted to do was take away the pain that I had caused.
‘Look I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...’
‘No,’ he said suddenly, cutting me off and pulling his hands away from his face to reveal the despair etched onto his face, ‘don’t try and change it now. You were honest with me and that’s what I asked for.’
‘Yes but you didn’t let me finish. I truly believe that someone evil, someone truly evil can never become good again. But I don’t think that that applies to you. I don’t think you are a bad person. I don’t think that you’re evil.’
‘You don’t,’ he said, looking up at me warily.
‘No, I don’t,’ I replied truthfully.
In the blink of an eye he became distressed once more, standing up so suddenly his chair toppled over behind him, crashing against the hard stone floor. More than a few of the house elves eyed him warily and shuffled quickly out of sight. Clearly they were aware of the rumours surrounding the Malfoy’s and were not going to stick around to witness it first-hand. I tried my best to give them a reassuring smile, as they backed away from Draco, but he didn’t even seem to notice. His eyes remained firmly locked onto me.
‘Stop lying to me,’ he shouted, clearing the last of the house elves from the room. ‘You know exactly who I am and what I’ve done and you of all people should know just how bad I am. You said that some things are too bad to come back from and I have done bad things, so many horrific things and I don’t know how to come back from them.’
‘Yes but good and evil isn’t quite as straightforward as that. It’s not that black and white. You can be a good person and still do stupid things, bad things, but as long as you know that it’s wrong and you feel remorse and guilt then that’s what stops you from becoming evil. You said so yourself before that you didn’t want to do those things. That you were forced into it out of fear.’
‘But I’ve still hurt people. I’m a killer. It’s my fault Dumbledore’s dead and I nearly killed Katie Bell and Weasley and there are others. So many more, you can’t even imagine.’
I winced at the pain of the memories that immediately flashed into my mind and had to quickly dispel the anger and hate that I had felt about him in the past for his part in all of that, even though deep down I knew that it wasn’t wholly his fault and he had merely been a part of a bigger plan. One of Voldemorts numerous pawns.
In that moment, for some reason that I could not explain, I needed him to know that he could be good again. The proud Draco Malfoy had crumbled before me, slowly unravelling and I knew that I had been the cause of it. I was terrified that what I had said was going to send him over the edge, send him back to the dark side for good and I knew that I had to bring him back. I had to be the one to make him see that he could be good again, that he was a good person. I had to tell him the truth that no one had probably told him before.
‘Look just calm down and sit down. If I truly believed you were the epitome of evil do you honestly think that I would be here with you now?’ I said with a slight smile, trying to lighten the mood slightly. He just stood perfectly still, ignoring my request for him to sit down, but I watched his face carefully, watched a series of emotions cross his features and when he finally seemed to have calm down slightly, I felt safe enough to continue.
‘Ok so Yes Katie and Ron were your fault,' he looked up startled at that, ‘but Dumbledore’s death was far bigger than just you. He knew what Voldemort wanted you to do and he wanted you to do it. He had it all planned out, he arranged with Professor Snape that if you couldn’t do it, then he should.’
‘And why would he do that?’ he asked sceptically, barely even meeting my eyes as he spoke.
‘Because he was trying to protect you. Despite what you may have thought he was not a silly old fool. He was a genius. He knew that he was going to die and so he did an honourable thing and tried to protect you. He made sure that he didn’t die in vain. He didn’t want you to suffer.’
Draco stopped for a moment and thought through what I was just said, but as quickly as he considered my words, he just as quickly dismissed them. He shook his head in frustration and started to pace the room once more.
‘But I tried to kill him. I’m still responsible.’
‘Draco will you listen to me,’ I said standing up and placing my hands on the table. ‘You were part of a bigger plan, but in the end you didn’t go through with it. You lowered your wand. You did nothing wrong. And I think that Dumbledore knew that you wouldn’t do it. I think that’s why he arranged with Professor Snape that he should do it if you couldn’t. He knew that you weren’t a bad person. He knew that you weren’t a killer.’
‘You don’t get this without being a bad person,’ he yelled, rolling up the sleeve on his left arm. Even from the distance across the table I could make out the hideous mark scarring his skin. Against the pale white of his skin, the twisting black snake and skull stood out even more, highlighting every inch of the dark mark that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.
‘You don’t get this without seeing terrible things, without doing terrible things. You have no idea of the things that I’ve done. You can’t even begin to imagine.’
But of course I could imagine and that thought made me sick to my very stomach. The thought of all the evil atrocities that he would have been a part of made me want to walk out of that room and never look at his face again. But as I drew my eyes away from his arm and up to face I realised that the look of disgust that was etched onto my face was mirrored on his as he gazed down at the hideous mark disfiguring his otherwise perfect skin.
‘You know in our sixth year, Harry was so convinced that you had become a death eater,’ I said moving out from behind the table and walking slowly toward him. ‘
He was so sure that you were one of them. He was quite obsessed with trying to find out what you were up to. It was quite annoying actually. But I didn’t think that you were. I don’t know why but I didn’t think that you had it in you to become a death eater and I mean that in the best way possible. All that year, we could see that you were ill; you just looked so run down all the time. Anyone could see that you were scared and now we know why. You didn’t want to do what he told you do and you were suffering because of it. And that Draco is what makes the difference. It what makes you different from rest of them,’ I said coming a stop, directly in front of him.
‘Because you didn’t want to do it and in the end you didn’t and you may not think that it’s enough, but I do. This mark may be on your arm, but you don’t have to let it define you. It’s doesn’t have to be who you are. You get to choose that.’
‘I don’t understand why you’re trying to defend me? Why are you even bothering? You hate me. Why should you even care?’
‘Believe me, I am asking myself that very question. I just, ugh, I guess I’ve seen a different side to you in the past couple of weeks. And after what I said, I didn’t want you to think that I meant that you were a bad person. I really and truly don’t believe that.’
Draco took a moment to think and eventually rolled his sleeve back down, covering his mark and in that moment I knew that he was back and that the panic was over.
‘Well thank you,’ he said once he had buttoned his sleeve back up, ‘After what I’ve done, you really didn’t have to say any of that.’
‘You’re welcome,’ I answered, wondering what exactly I was supposed to do now. I was pretty sure there wasn’t a set etiquette on how to deal with a situation like this and so I made the only decision that I could, I decided to leave. ‘Well I suppose I had better be going,’ I said moving away from him and edging closer to the door.
‘No wait,’ Draco said, stepping in front of me and blocking my exit. ‘Please just stay for another moment. We didn’t even get our drinks. We could still get something.’
‘Well that might be difficult since you’ve scared away every single house elf in the entire kitchen,’ I said half serious, half-jokingly.
At that point, he looked away from me and looked around the kitchen with a look of shock on his face.
‘But I didn’t mean to, I just… and you still think that I am a good person. Take a look around, how can you possibly think that,’ he said, starting to look desolate again.
‘Oh would you just sit down,’ I snapped, startling him out of his little panic. ‘I have just spent the last ten minutes telling you why I don’t think you are Satan’s spawn and I am certainly not going to go through it all again. Now you asked me if I wanted something and thanks to you I’m still waiting, so are you planning to sit down or do I have to sit here alone?’
Draco just looked at me, blinking a few times in complete shock, before moving across the room to sit down opposite me. ‘Sorry,’ he muttered.
I managed to call a house elf back over, which wasn’t easy as the majority of them seemed to have scarpered and asked them to bring us our hot chocolates when they had a free moment.
‘You know you’re pretty scary when you’re angry,’ Malfoy said with his trademark smirk. He was back. I never thought I would be glad to see him smirk, but I was so relieved to see him back to normal that I couldn’t help but supress a grin of my own.
‘Yes so I’ve heard. So you’d better not piss me off again Malfoy. Who knows what I’d do next time.’
‘Well you’ve already blown apart a class room and given half a class boils, so I’m not entirely what you could do to top that.’
‘Excuse me, if I remember correctly I was not the only one who was responsible for blowing apart a classroom.’
‘Oh believe me, I remember. How could I forget when we’re still serving the longest punishment ever given to Hogwarts students?’
I was still smiling, when the house elves brought us two large steaming mugs of hot chocolate. The smell wafted through the air, making my mouth salivate before I had even tasted a drop. I held the mug in my hands, waiting for it to cool down slightly, before I drank. Malfoy, didn’t wait, he jumped straight in and started gulping his down like there was no tomorrow. I burst out laughing when he put his mug down and face was covered in cream.
‘What?’ he asked bemused when I kept on giggling.
‘You’ve got a little, em,’ I hesitated, pointing toward my face.
‘What? Oh,’ he said wiping away the cream from his mouth with the back of his hand. ‘You know I still can’t believe that I didn’t know about this place and you did. You know you are turning into quite the mystery Granger.’
‘Meaning what exactly?’
‘Well first of all you know secret places around the castle, you blow apart a classroom and then there’s still that thing about polyjuice potion,’ he asked almost questioningly.
I just smiled back at him as innocently as possible, determined to give nothing away.
‘So you’re really not going to tell me about it then?’
‘But you really made polyjuice potion in second year for something to do with me?’ he asked with a raised eyebrow.
‘I will figure it out one of these days you know,’ he said suddenly serious.
‘Oh I’m sure you will.’
I stopped and took a drink of my hot chocolate, enjoying the feeling of the warm delicious drink sliding down my throat, sending warmth spread throughout my veins. I set my mug down on the table in front of me and glanced back up to find Malfoy staring intently at me. He reached out with one hand, hesitantly reaching out towards my face. Gently he extended one finger and very softly wiped a trace of cream away from the side of mouth. A shot of heat spread throughout my body, although this time it had nothing to do with the hot chocolate.
‘You know you are nothing like I thought you were,’ he said, still staring at me seriously.
‘Is that a compliment?’
‘Yes it is. For a start I didn’t know you could be such a rebel. I like it,’ he said smirking once more.
‘Well for the record, you’re not so bad yourself. You’re not quite as much of an arrogant arse as you used to be.’
‘Gee thanks. Don’t go too overboard on the compliments there.’
‘Well I wouldn’t want it to inflame your ego anymore now would I?’
He rolled his eyes in response, but I could tell that he was smiling and I couldn’t help but smiling back. As I looked at him, it was like a cloud was lifted and I suddenly realised who it was that was sitting across the table from me and it was like waking up from a daydream. Suddenly I felt a little uncomfortable once more.
‘Look we should probably get going; it looks like they want us out,’ I said gesturing to the house elves that were cautiously making their way back into the kitchen. ‘They probably need to get the dinner ready. We wouldn’t want to be the reason hundreds of students go hungry now would we.’
We stood up and I thanked the house elves that instantly came rushing over to clear the table and we made our way back out of the kitchen and back into the reality of the castle.
‘Thanks Granger, it was… well I would say fun, but I’m not entirely sure that parts of it were. Sorry for freaking out on you.’
‘It’s fine, seriously, just…’ I stopped, seeing people walk past the end of the corridor and pushed Draco into an alcove where a statue stood.
‘What are you doing?’ Draco asked shocked, looking at down at the hands that were still placed firmly on his chest, raising his eyebrow in that quizzical way that made me sure that his trademark smirk wasn’t far behind.
‘Sorry,’ I said dropping my hands instantly to my sides, feeling the embarrassment creep up inside me, being sure to look anywhere but at him, ‘it’s just that people are starting to come back from Hogsmeade,’ I finished rather pathetically.
‘So I see. And you don’t want to be seen with me?’ he questioned in a tone that despite my best intentions, made me look up into eyes that looked more than a little disappointed.
‘It’s not that, it’s just I don’t want to have to explain and I really don’t think Harry and Ron, especially Ron, would understand. Hell I don’t even understand myself. And besides I’m sure the Slytherin’s wouldn’t take it too well if you were seen with me,’ I said in defence.
‘I really don’t care what they think,’ he exclaimed, ‘but I see your point. Why make a fuss over nothing, eh? Well I guess I’ll go first then, save you from being seen with me. I wouldn’t want to ruin your reputation. See you on Monday.’
And with that he was gone, walking away from me, without looking back. For some strange reason I had the feeling like I had done the wrong thing and I felt almost disappointed at how it had ended.
I didn’t have time to dwell on why, as I heard someone behind me calling my name.
‘Hermione, hey what are you doing down here,’ came the voice of Harry. I turned around to find Harry, Ron and Ginny walking towards me, laden with shopping bags. I gave a quick glance behind me just to make sure that Malfoy was gone and breathed a sigh of relief when there was nothing down the corridor but statues.
‘Really, then why do you look guilty.’
‘I’m not, I was just…’
‘Sneaking into the kitchens again. Disgraceful Hermione,’ Harry teased.
‘Well not all of us have had the chance to stuff out faces at The Three Broomsticks and Honeydukes. So how was it?’ I asked, trying to divert the tension away from me.
‘Yeah it was good to be out of the place, instead of being cooped up, no offense.’
‘The place is just how it used to be. A couple of shops are still empty and Gladrag’s still hasn’t opened back up, but there’s a new quidditch shop, which is amazing.’
‘Great. Just what we need,’ I said rolling my eyes.
‘So how was your day? Anything interesting happen?’ Ginny asked.
Oh I just sat and drank hot chocolate of all things with your life- long enemy, persuaded him that he wasn’t evil, agreed to be friends with him and actually had a pretty good time talking with him. Hmm I’m not sure that would go down well, although it would be almost worth it to see the reactions.
‘Nope nothing,’ I lied, ‘nothing interesting at all.’
If only you knew the truth, I thought to myself.
A/N- First off I am so, so sorry for how long it has taken me to write this chapter. I had a little break over the summer and then I kind of couldn't really think what to write when I came back to it, so I went back to the start and edited some of the earlier chapters that I really wasn't happy with and I'll be updating those soon.
So I hope that this chapter makes up for the wait you've had. It's my longest chapter so far and as you can see things are starting to get interesting.
So now that I've rambled enough, please, please, please let me know what you think. I had an amazing response to the last chapter and so many reviews, so please write me a quick review for this one. Thanks again for reading this story and sticking with me. x
2/10/12- Did a few minor edits to fix the spelling and other stupid mistakes. Sorry x