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Saving Mum & Dad by chiQs09_II
Chapter 1: Deprivation
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Gorgeous chapter image by the amazing Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I only own the OCs and storyline... ^_^
He surveyed the space he currently inhabited: a poorly-furnished, old bedroom in his foster home, which smelt of aged parchment and enchanted books his mother had left to him. He was lying on his mahogany bed, staring thoughtfully at the ceiling that offered him some comfort. His mother once told him that when a wizard turned seventeen, he’d be of age and was therefore allowed to use magic.
His hair, a silver as youthful as gold, hung in his sea-foam eyes; the fingers of his right hand wrapped gently around a vial containing a potion he had, with the guidance of his mother’s books and notes, brewed several months ago. Fortunately, he had his mum’s personality and brains. He had no real difficulties in understanding the theories of magic, so having grown up in a non-wizarding family didn’t really affect his magical ability.
Clutching in his right hand, and just over the heart, was a Muggle snapshot of a young woman who smiled as if she had memories and thoughts that were as much a mix of things loved and things hated. Her hair was bushy and as brown as the finest chocolate, stretched into telegraph lines and twisted into impossible curls that it impersonate a mouse in some modern style of art. It was the only remaining picture he'd got of her.
As usual, he endured that sudden and forceful rush of emotion associated with unbearable memories of his childhood. These memories tore through him as a cold knife that only breaks frozen butter. Something melted in him. Was it the hot remorse of knowledge and lack of action or was it some warmth he did not know? It compelled him to protect her from all misfortune, to save her from a horrible death.
“I’m going to bring you back,” the teenager whispered, running his hand through his hair, “and I am going to make everything work for you and Dad.”
He, putting the photograph in his jeans pocket, sat upright in his bed and fumbled for his wand under his pillow. This wand once belonged to his dad; he gave it to him before he abandoned him.
His foster parents could never know about his plan. It was too dangerous; they would be horrified. Even his best friend, Naomi, while she would understand his need to experience happiness, would draw the line at the risk he was about to take. But Hayden had cherished this dream for far too long. It had become his secret fantasy, a part of him – this desperate longing for his parents. He knew he was about to risk his life on an obscure, untried Potion; and he intended to go forward with his plan.
His mother died in his eighth birthday; she and his father had been fighting—over what, he had no clue. She had, in tears of hurt and anger, dashed from the house and been hit by a Muggle car. Until his foster father had decided to tell him, he had never known the truth of her death—for this he was grateful: he knew that he would not have been able to handle the truth until he was old enough.
He had repressed his memories and hidden all thoughts of his childhood in the darkest corner of his mind. The only remaining memory, which was somehow wonderful in his mind’s eye, was of a day with sunlight peeping through the leaves atop lofty trees when his mum and dad had taken him out for a walk in the park. As he had felt the warmth of the summer breeze against his five-year-old face; he’d believed, just for that short moment, that he’d had the happiest family in the world.
He cleared his head of the vision of a happy family, knowing that it was now nothing more than a fragment of a dream. The boy held the little vial to his lips, closed his eyes, and drained the serum.
This is my birthday gift to myself, he thought.
Holding his wand, he spoke aloud his intention: “Take me to Hogwarts, to Mother and Father, in the year Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Six of the Gregorian Calendar.” He barely got the words out, as his throat began to constrict at the harsh, scalding liquid. His chest suddenly heated up; he felt as though it would explode. The heat scaled up to his throat—he couldn’t breathe. He collapsed. Choking and twisting on the floor, his sight blurred. But as everything around him dissolved, he forced himself to hold his goal within his mind.
“That vichy-waterblooded Ferret!” Hermione growled between entering the common room and fiercely slamming her books upon the table near the fireplace, an act which caused more than a little worry as the heavy olive-wood table moved even closer to the flames. “Where does he get off thinking that bullying is funny?”
“Malfoy again? What did he do this time?” Ginny asked, moving to her friend. Ron and Harry gathered around them as well.
“I’ll incinerate him, so that there’s no trace of his pathetic existence,” Hermione panted, her eyes hot with anger. “Malfoy said, ‘You’re gonna be lonely, Mudblood. Because no man will ever marry anyone as ugly as you. Not even if you’re the last woman on earth.’”
“Pathetic,” said Ginny.
“Isn’t it? I said, ‘Wow, Malfoy, you called me a Mudblood. And you called me ugly. Just like yesterday. And the day before that. Got a different one?’ And he just stood there with his mouth open, so I said, ‘I didn’t think so.’ I started to walk away, when all of a sudden, he grabbed me and said, ‘Here!’ I felt something cold and slimy down my back, and it was a miserable flobberworm. I almost screamed. I was wriggling around. It was like I was a first-year under her first tickle jinx. I ended up tripping and nearly fell down the stairs. The worst of it was that Malfoy ended up getting the last laugh. His little gang thought it was hysterical.”
“I’ll thrash and jinx that idiot,” Ron said, his ears turning red in anger.
“But you didn’t fall down the stairs, did you?” Harry asked. His voice was filled with worry as he grabbed Hermione’s arm to make her look at him.
Hermione’s head whirled with such anger that it almost drove her crazy. She’d never loathed someone so much as she did Draco Malfoy.
“No, I didn’t,” Hermione said indistinctly, without looking up, “he caught me.”
“He caught you? You mean with magic, right?” Ron exclaimed, flabbergasted.
“I don’t know… yes.” Hermione wiped away the angry tears in her eyes, wondering for the first time why Malfoy had saved her. “He pulled me back suddenly.”
“Maybe he didn’t want to get in too much trouble,” Ginny suggested.
“I’m going to teach him a lesson,” announced Ron, clambering out the portrait hole, “and I think jinxing him ‘til he apologises to you will work.”
“Ron, don’t! I’m not so weak as to need your playing a knight in shining armour,” Hermione cried, hurrying after him.
“I don’t care.”Ron’s rage carried him down the stairs with his wand gripped firmly in his hand. “If he thinks he can treat you like that, he’s mistaken. Bloody ferret boy!”
“No, wait, please! RON!” Hermione caught up with him and grabbed his arm. “Stop!”
“WHY?!” Ron shouted, turning at her. A few passing students looked up curiously at the two Gryffindors. “What makes him do that to you?”
“I don’t know. And why, for goodness sake, do you have to shout at me? Put your wand down—Now!” Hermione yelled back, frustrated. It was absolutely impossible to discuss things logically with Ron when he was this angry. So she gave in and tried to take a calmer, more normal tone. “Let’s just forget it, okay? I can’t just slap him like I did in our third year. However much I might feel like it.”
“You won’t walk alone next time, you understand me! You’ll have me or Harry or Ginny or someone stay with you.”
“I am not a little child that needs to be protected, Ronald!” Hermione retorted, rolling her eyes.
“But the way you let that jackal treat you is outrageous. Unless you let him, no one can make you act the fool,” Ron stated, his lips forming a pout. Hermione looked baffled at her friend’s argument.
“I never have allowed him do any of those things to me. Don’t you think it bothers me when he calls me Mudblood? That I completely enjoy how he mocks me in class in front of my friends while everyone else laughs at me?”
With the redhead’s lips quivering slightly and his nostrils flaring wide, Hermione could see that he only wanted to protect her. “Please, Ron. In only a year and a half we’ll be out of Hogwarts; don’t mess them up by provoking Malfoy,” Hermione said pleadingly. “You might just lose your position as Prefect, or you could even be suspended from school. You know how powerful Malfoy’s father is.”
“Fine,” groaned Ron. “But next time he does that, hurting you or anything, I’m going to try him for target practice of some kind.”
Where am I? Hayden thought, looking up at the wooden ceiling. He felt a bit sick, as though he'd been sucker-punched. He looked around him and noticed some old shelves holding beakers and vials stocked with different liquids and plants. He straightened up and found a timbered door in front of him. He jiggled the handle, trying to leave, but it was locked.
The wand in his trousers poked him from his back, prodding him to remember the useful spells—including the one to unlock doors—his mum had taught him when he was little. He drew his wand and looked at it.
I am always forgetting that I’m a wizard, he thought, laughing nervously. He focused his wand at the doorknob and flicked it, “Alohomora!” The door opened.
“Hah! You’re a genius,” he exclaimed triumphantly, since no one could tell him off for breaking and exiting.
Thanks to Mum.
He stuck his head out of the room and found himself in a corridor in a sort of dungeon. Torches hung along the wall, throwing a dim light through the hallway.
A handful of students emerged from a doorway that had previously been a solid stone wall. He noticed that they all wore black cloaks with scarves that were, on one side, an emerald satin so startling he wondered how either sex could wear them. But the answer lay with the other side which was of silver silk and could be folded or looped or even tied with equal ease. It was large enough to make a shawl or a half cape and yet it was usually used as a scarf, for the resulting effect was somehow akin to snake skin—and every Slytherin wanted to look that part.
If this is the era where my parents are still students, I’ll be a bit obvious if I walk around with an outfit from the future, he thought, looking down at himself and gathering his attention.
He flicked his wand over his clothes, chanting a spell he remembered his mother had always cast to change his clothes when he was little and became soiled from playing in their garden. Nothing happened at first. He flicked his wand again, a tiny sparkle sprang from the very tip of his wand, and a silver and emerald necktie tied around his neck.
“Great! Just a little more,” he said, choosing to be as optimistic as he imagined his mum.
His mother’s words echoed in his head again, as though coaching him to pronounce and flick the wand correctly like she had when he was still young and practicing the proper movements with his toy wand.
His wand, waved in the air as though his arm were being guided by an invisible force, changed his clothes. A long black cloak appeared. It reached his ankles, covering both the black vest which sat over the white shirt as well as the black trousers.
“Perfect, I look like … them.” He admired his black cloak and uniform, complete with a silver and emerald scarf and the Serpentine S of Slytherin’s emblem on his chest. “Slytherin,” he read carefully. “Dad was a Slytherin … but he never told me what it was like.”
Walking around like a Slytherin wouldn’t bring me too much trouble, would it?
He thought about it for a moment before leaving the room. Immediately upon exiting, he realised that he truly did not know how his dad had looked like as a teenager. How could he ever find him?
It would be a bit inane to look for Dad as already a fat sack alcoholic and semi-bald with a beard. A faint and wicked smile appeared at the corner of his lips. They actually never shared their memories; I don’t know much about their past lives.
He pulled the little picture from his pocket. “I know, I’ll look for Mum first.”
Sliding from the room in which he had been hiding, he was pushed forcefully aside. Before he could realise what had happened, he felt his head bump against the wall with a thud.
“Out of my way, you idiot!”
He looked up and happened to catch a glimpse of the face of the tall boy who’d pushed him aside with such disdain. The boy had light-blond hair that flowed like his and a sneer painted across his pale, pointed face. He was walking down the corridor with his two giant mates behind him. Glaring back at the rude Slytherin, he felt a somehow familiar feeling that he couldn’t quite explain. But the feeling of familiarity was quickly replaced by a twinge of anger that roiled in his stomach.
“Arrogant moron,” Hayden cursed.
Hopefully Dad wasn’t a prat when he was a teenager.
“Yes, indeed. He was angry,” Hermione sighed, pressing her books against her chest. She was talking with Ginny about her fight with Ron about Malfoy.
“You know my brother; he always wants to protect you,” Ginny said.
“He really doesn’t have to; I can take care of myself.” Hermione gave a sheepish smile.
“Yeah, of course you can...”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hermione asked, annoyed. “I can defend myself very well, thank you very much,” she sighed. “Malfoy’s just a coward, mocking me every time I’m alone.”
“You need protection, Hermione. Why can’t you just admit that?” Ginny pointed out, narrowing her brows. “Realisation is the first step to recovery.”
“You mean I’m sick?!”
“Nope. You just have false pride.”
“You wouldn’t shout for help even were you about to die.”
“So you mean I’m pig-headed?” Hermione frowned. “That’s what you mean?”
“Do you think Malfoy will ever stop being such an arrogant git?” Ginny asked, changing the topic quickly.
“I don’t know. I’d probably run to my death if it were the only way to get Malfoy to shut his mouth.” Hermione felt a sting in her chest, as though every word she’d just said were true and destined to happen.
“Hey, don’t say that,” Ginny cajoled her. “We’d hex Malfoy to death and he’d continue his derision in hell. Is that what you want?”
“Exactly—to be united with that beast in hell,” Hermione said sarcastically.
The two girls laughed together.
"I know that laughter", the boy mumbled without giving consideration to his surroundings. His light-blond locks reflected the afternoon sunlight as he stood a few feet from Hermione and Ginny. He looked up from the picture in his hands and locked eyes with the girl in front of him. Realising that the young woman in his photograph was standing right there in the flesh, staring back at him with a curious look that kept him from remembering the most basic of processes: breathe. Feeling faint, as though his lungs had abruptly contracted, he quickly inhaled, hoping that some oxygen would reach his brain before he passed out.
“Mum!” he gasped, his grey eyes never leaving Hermione's.
GRAMMAR CHECK BY FALLSTAR - 04/20/2008
RECHECKED BY CELTICBARD - 06/22/08
CREDIBILITY CHECK BY BELLA_PORTIA - 06/29/08 (also, thanks for the idea of the Asportation.) :)
Story summary by greylady_ravenclaw
Chapter 2: One Malfoy Too Many
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
Fantastic chapter image by the amazing Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: Everything you recognise is property of JK. Rowling. The storyline and OC are mine.
He wanted so badly to throw himself into her arms and tell her how much he’d missed her, yet though his emotions might cause him to waver, he knew he had to be resilient and continue with his original plan: saving his mum and dad.
"Hi, Mu- I mean...er...hello," Hayden quickly corrected himself. He was aware that he couldn’t just change everything right away in this era and moreover that his mother was not yet his mother. She was still a teenager, unaware of what the Fates had on the spindle. He would change that; he was determined to save her from death. He would find his dad as well and make him properly fall for the woman he was meant to be with. How would Cupid do it, by the way? How could he make two people, one who despises and the other who loathes the other, fall in love with one another? Sure, he had to create a plan—or a strategy—while he was in this era. He had to get to know his mum and dad as they were when they were young. He needed much more information.
He suddenly felt the flow of courage and his tongue loosened as when he and his mother were in the garden. For the first time, and after so long, he spoke with her who was not yet his mother, asking shakily, “Are … are you … H – Hermione Jean Mal- … I mean, Granger?” but he recovered his tone towards the end of the sentence. He was still overjoyed that he had found she for whom he had been searching. A smile grew, stretched from ear to ear, and displayed a dimple at his left cheek.
“Have we met?” Hermione replied. A questioning look formed on her face as she stared into his eyes.
“Not yet,” he answered in such a low voice that the two girls had to slightly lean forward to hear him properly.
The redhead beside his teenage mother scanned him up and down, a suspicious look clear in her eyes. He stared at her as he noticed that she was focused on his grey eyes as though she were trying to read his mind. She shifted from his eyes to his light blond hair then down to his chest. His hand clasped instinctively over the spot over which she had been staring; he realised she was examining his Slytherin badge, which caused her to frown both in lips and eyes.
It was a matter of seconds before her wrathful exclamation, “Bloody ferret!” and draw of her wand at a speed that took him aback, though it could also have been her pointing it at his throat that staggered him. He wondered what he had done to cause her to react so menacingly toward him. At the same time as these thoughts crossed his mind, she demurred in a voice reminiscent of a silken garrotte, “Malfoy, d’you think we’re stupid? Just because you’ve curled your bloody hair you think we won’t recognise you?”
Hayden, astounded, wondered: How did she know I’m a Malfoy?
“Hey, put that down. Let’s solve this diplomatically, alright?” he said, raising his hands in the air defensively. He tried to smile but the redhead kept on frowning. He knew what kind of havoc a wand could wreak, despite not having been wholly raised in a wizarding home. He was aware from experience that some spells could be quite harmful: he remembered getting hit by a spell from his father’s wand while playing with it as a small child; he remembered his parents had rushed him to a hospital, which he remembered had a name like Munko’s or Mundo’s Hospital or something…
He was abruptly tugged back to reality when he heard his mum speaking to the other girl. “Ginny, what are you saying? That’s not Malfoy,” Hermione said, caution in every syllable as she scrutinized him as well. She stayed behind Ginny and it somehow stung him to the heart that his mother had the same wariness towards him. “I mean, well, he looks a bit like Malfoy when he’s threatened but … he…”
“No, Hermione. I know for certain that this is Malfoy. Maybe the Polyjuice Potion—or whatever he used—didn’t change his whole appearance … only his bloody hair,” Ginny growled through gritted teeth while her eyes focused in a glower on the Slytherin in front of her. “What was your plan? Were you about to ensnare us with some enticement or merely attack like the viper that you are?”
Just then, the same rude Slytherin from before came walking down the hallway with his two colossal buddies by his side. His typical sneer, which he thought very cynical, though was really most eager, danced across his pale face. He noticed the two Gryffindor girls, apparently cornering another Slytherin and pointed it out to his most inimical friends, “Look at that. It’s Weaslette’s way of catching a boyfriend. Want a turn?”
“Oh, shut up, Malfoy!” Ginny snarled in response to the sneering boy. Did she call him Malfoy? Hayden followed Ginny’s eyes, which were jumping from one pale Slytherin to the other.
“You can put down your wand, Ginny,” Hermione whispered from behind her friend.
As Ginny turned back to Hayden, she looked quite embarrassed. She mumbled something to him that he couldn’t understand because rather than pay any attention to her, spent his focus staring at the other boy. His near mirror was glowering condescendingly at him; he felt his own hands ball into fists involuntarily.
“You … You are … Draco Malfoy?” he asked, staring at the tall Slytherin. He nearly fainted from shock, quite disappointed that his first encounter with his father as a teenager hadn’t been very pleasant.
“You have had a miracle—your sensibility being restored after years—if you don’t know who I am! Or you could be some imbecile who needs to have sense hexed in,” Malfoy said smugly, walking up to the stranger, wand in hand.
"I really don't know how to phrase this politely, but when I see you with your...ah...mute friends, I realise that you have no voice of your own; you're their sock puppet," Hayden retorted, throwing an identical smirk at Malfoy. This was what he had feared. He couldn’t believe what an arrogant lout his father had been when he was young. And he will never change; he’ll probably just lose his handsome appearance, Hayden thought, without wondering why.
“Who gave you permission to speak to me; and in that tone?” Malfoy snarled as he scanned him, but he quickly lost interest when Hayden didn’t reply.
He turned to Hermione, his anger changing somehow. “Hey, Mudblood, did you enjoy waltzing with my flobberworm last night?” he chuckled at his own joke; a sneer dancing automatically across his face.
Hermione just stared at him coldly; her jaw clenched and lips pursed, but before she could defend herself, her red haired friend spoke.
“Shut up, Malfoy,” Ginny warned, drawing her wand a second time. “Or else…”
“Or else what, you filthy little –”
“– Ladies, ladies…” Hayden intervened, as he separated Malfoy and Ginny with his hands. He was amazed at himself for provoking his father like that, but it felt somehow right doing so. “Kindly withdraw your claws; this is no place for a cat fight.” As he said this, he looked from one to the other with his eyes like those of a sharp duenna.
“Are you making fun of me, you git? Defending the helpless Mudblood and impoverished blood traitor from me?” he scowled, his two mates cracking their knuckles beside him. “Thou holy traitor!”
“Why don’t you mess with somebody your own size?” Hayden snapped, throwing the same scowl back. “I don’t know what makes you stupid, but it works.” He felt a bit awkward and disrespectful, fighting his own father; he’d never done it before, as a child. He had always kept silent when his father fought with his mother. But in this era, he was sure he would be taking the wind out of his father’s sails.
Draco chuckled, “And where can I find this fellow?”
Hayden blew his hair out of sight and glared dangerously at Draco; it was as though he was staring in his own reflection. He made a threatening step forward. His fists clenched. His teeth gritted. And Draco slightly shrunk away.
When he was little, he always had to look up at the tall and massive figure of his dad. It felt strange, therefore, that now he could stare at Draco straight in the face and hold his fiery look without giving much effort. Though his heartbeat was pulsating in his ears, deep within he was afraid of his father; though Draco wasn’t his father yet in this era, he was expecting Draco to slap him with the back of his hand across his face like it had happened in his childhood. He had been taught by his parents, especially by his father, to always obey and respect his parents.
But then Draco quickly losing his patience, threw a last warning glare at him and stomped away with his two cronies. Never had he thought that his own dad would consider himself overpowered. As they disappeared around the corner, Hayden turned back to his young mother and her friend; they were staring at him slack-jawed.
“What?” he asked, smiling nervously.
“What. Was. That?” Hermione exclaimed in surprise. “You really didn’t need to protect us.”
“You should be careful, Malfoy is like a pest. By the way, what’s your name? Never seen you before,” Ginny asked curiously. When he looked at the two girls something odd happened with them. It was in their eyes. It happened only in a split second when their eyes seemed to be unfocused, staring right through him. But then it was gone. Yet he thought he had just imagined it.
“I mean, your face is quite familiar, I just can’t remember,” Hermione pointed out thoughtfully as she scrutinized him.
Snapping back from his reverie, he said, “Er, yeah, my name is Hayden Mal ... I mean, uh… Malcolm. Hayden Malcolm.” With this introduction, he courteously reached his hand forward.
“That’s a wonderful and unique name, Hayden,” Hermione commented, causing him to blush.
“I’m Ginny Weasley. Nice to meet you,” the redhead said, blushing as well as she shook his hand. Maybe she still felt embarrassed that she had confused him with Draco.
This is Ginny Weasley, then, Hayden thought. She was so beautiful when she was young, like Mum always described her. It was hard to look at this pretty young witch, knowing how tragic her life would be.
“And that’s Hermione Granger,” Ginny said, interrupting Hayden’s thoughts. “But I suppose you knew that already.”
Hayden reached his hand out to shake Hermione’s.
“Yeah,” Hayden said, his lips twitching to a faint smile.
He couldn’t believe he was holding his mother’s hand; it was so petite and soft. The urge to hold her was so strong that he didn’t even try to fight it; he pulled Hermione close to him. What he had missed doing during the long years since her death, he took in this opportunity. He embraced his mother.
It wasn’t a strained or rude embrace. It was quite gentle and soft. He felt for a moment that he might be dreaming: that she would fade away if he squeezed too tightly, just as she had in all of his dreams since childhood. He was almost afraid to break her. He closed his eyes and trembled slightly, feeling tears prickling the back of his eyes. He was not accustomed to showing emotion, but was somehow overpowered by his grief. In Hermione Granger’s arms, in that moment, he released everything he had held back since the death of his mother nine years ago. He cried.
I won’t let you die, Mum. I promise.
CHAPTER EDITED BY FALLSTAR 04/22/2008
RECHECKED BY CELTICBARD 06/22/2008
Chapter 3: Potions Class
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
Super-cool chapter image by Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: This chapter contains a scene of the Potions class from the HBP. I borrowed it for this chapter. Everything you recognise belongs to JKR.
05/13/08 EDITED BY: FALLSTAR (in-depth imagery by Fallstar)
“Hermione, I didn’t know what effect you have on blokes,” Ginny whispered through her giggle.
Hermione, apperently startled by Hayden’s embrace, neither moved nor said a word; not even seeming to breathe. When she spoke, Hayden pulled back from her.
“Are … are you … all right?” Hermione asked, patting his shoulder carefully.
Hayden averted his eyes from Hermione, the colour draining out of his face. Drying his tears with the back of his hand, he swallowed down the dryness in his throat and mumbled, “Sorry, just an emotional outburst.” He stared into Hermione’s puzzled eyes, blushing. “Er … you … completely knocked me out with your … beauty,” he said, winking at her.
“Oh! That was the most dramatic performance I’ve ever been given,” Hermione exclaimed. Hayden noticed her eyes shimmering and her whole face blushing; he knew she was flattered.
“Hey, I have Charms in ten minutes,” Ginny announced, giving an excuse as do ladies who think they are arranging soulmates whist they play cupid at a bar. “Hermione, I’ll see you later. And Hayden, hope to meet you again.” Ginny turned around and dashed away, joining a bunch of fifth year students who were heading down the corridor.
“Hey, do you have Potions with us?” Hermione asked. “We could go together … if you’d like.” She looked hesitant.
“Er … no. Sure.” Hayden noticed that Hermione carried a few books in her arms. He’d read all the school books his mother had left him about curses, spells, and the history of Hogwarts. He’d even memorised the theories and principles of magic. “Hermione, I’ll take your books. They must be heavy.” He grabbed the stack of books from the Gryffindor’s arms before she could protest and carried them for her. He happened to catch a glimpse of one of the titles. It was her Potions book, Advanced Potion-Making, and he hoped to use geminio on it – make a copy – before the beginning of class.
“Thanks … but … wouldn’t it be awkward for you if your friends saw you carrying my books?”
“Why would it be awkward?” Hayden asked.
“Because I’m a…” Hermione choked, and Hayden could tell that she looked a bit disgusted. “You know how much Slytherins despise people like me.”
“Mudblood?” Hayden remembered his father yelling that word at his mum, but he had never really understood what it meant. Now he realised that it was something hurtful or offensive. “That’s what Dad … er… I mean, Draco used to call you, right?”
“That’s what all Slytherins call me … or all of us Muggle-borns.” The Gryffindor lowered her head. Hayden noticed the sadness in his young mother’s voice, and he felt like holding her tight and comforting her.
“I would never call you that,” he said genuinely, placing a hand on her back, “and as long as I’m around, Draco will never hurt you again. I promise. I’ll teach him to love you.” That sounded encouraging to his ears. The corners of his lips extended upwards as his eyes shone down towards Hermione. He felt as though he’d just promised the greatest things: a golden cup that would let her establish peace on earth; silver vase, in which was an infinite volcano of bon-bons; and a bronze platter on which was the secret of the touch of Midas. His smile fell, though, when Hermione burst out laughing, shaking her head disbelievingly.
“But why in the world should that happen? I would not like that, I hate him.” Hermione held her stomach in laughter. As Hayden looked puzzled, she gained control of herself and explained, “Seriously, Hayden. I hate Malfoy. No one can ever make him change.”
“And I don’t need another protector. I’ve already got Ron and Harry, and then there’s Ginny. You make me all feel so dependent and vulnerable.”
“But … my … my mum once told me that every person deserves a chance to change,” Hayden mumbled, biting his lower lip. He was hoping Hermione didn’t notice the truth hidden in this statement.
“She may be right, but I’m not your mother, Hayden. And she probably doesn’t know Draco Malfoy,” Hermione said nonchalantly. “He’ll never change.”
Hayden’s hope of fixing his parents’ love for each other fell burning like young Icarus, whose passion for flight and infatuation with the sun melted his wings and burned his body so that he fell to the sea as a ball of flame. With these glad thoughts playing in his mind, he stole a glance at his mother’s younger self, wondering how under the sun she and his father had ever married each other and if they’d always hated one another … from the very beginning until their early end.
A ridiculous longing sprang up inside his mind. He suddenly wished he were Cupid that he could shoot an arrow through the hearts of his mum and dad and so co-join them and cause them have true and requited love. But Hayden knew he was just himself, a boy who could hardly shoot an arrow into the air.
But he was as ambitious as his mother; what he’d started, he would definitely finish…
The bald head of a rotund elderly gentleman shone in the middle of the room. Thus situated, the man, who it was now clear, had a pronounced scholastic slouch, presented four cauldrons with differently-coloured liquids in them.
Hayden gave the man a curious look and wondered if all wizarding teachers looked as bizarre as this one. He had prominent eyes and a large belly. He appeared old-fashioned, possibly…Mid to Late-Victorian? The waistcoat with gold buttons and a large moustache that danced up and down as he spoke were certainly similar in style, but he could not be sure if it were a theatrical tribute of some sort.
Hayden sat at the Slytherin table, just within earshot of the teacher. He only caught pieces of his lecture because he wasn’t really there to learn Potions.
“…Anyone tell me what this one is?” The Potions Master asked, having introduced the day’s lesson. He indicated the cauldron nearest the Slytherin table.
Hayden remembered what his mother had told him about her sixth-year Potions class and found it hard to realise that he was experiencing it in real life. He remembered that Harry Potter, one of his mum’s best friends, had cheated in class using a book that had once belonged to the so-called Half-Blood Prince.
He wondered if the story about Harry Potter was true.
“Veritaserum,” Hayden mumbled thoughtlessly behind his hand before Hermione, a few table away, shot her hand in the air and answered the question with an energy appropriate to her memorization of the whole textbook.
The teacher threw a curious glance at Hayden before praising the bright Gryffindor.
He pointed at the cauldron nearest the Ravenclaw table. Again he asked the class if they recognised the potion within. Again Hayden lifted his head in the direction of the cauldron, mumbling the answer to the question behind his hand: “Polyjuice Potion.” Again his bright mum erupted into the air with desire to answer—an event, which like Vesuvius—a volcano, he could not help but notice.
This time, the Potions Master examined Hayden. He furrowed his eyebrows, noticing that the lad also seemed to know the answer.
“M’boy, would you tell me what the third potion is?”
Hayden’s face paled as he stared up at the teacher’s face. He could sense Hermione’s hand shooting in the air, eager to answer. He felt chill as everyone in the classroom froze with all of their eyes resting on him.
“Sir, it’s Amortentia,” Hayden said. All the surrounding students mumbled behind their hands; only Hermione beamed and nodded.
“Indeed it is! Could you tell us what it does?” The teacher asked, not taking his eyes from Hayden’s.
“It’s … it’s the most powerful love potion in the world. It causes a powerful infatuation or obsession,” Hayden mumbled, throwing a darting glance at his mother. “So I’ve heard, sir.” I didn’t mean to steal your show, Mum, he thought and somehow hoped Hermione would hear him. But she merely smiled at him.
“Excellent! Take ten well-earned points for Slytherin.” The Slytherins at his table cheered in triumph. It seemed to Hayden that they weren’t accustomed to being praised like this and never expected that someone would bring them to the same glory Hermione had always brought to the Gryffindors. Hayden could see even Draco gloating…or had he just imagined it?
“May I ask your name, m’boy?” the bizarre teacher asked, his moustache dancing with glee.
“Hayden, sir. Hayden Mal – Malcolm, sir,” he answered carefully, swallowing his nervousness. He would have to get used to his newly-invented surname.
“Malcolm, you say. You’re quite familiar to me, as though I’ve seen your face before.” His eyes shifted obliviously to Draco and then back to Hayden. The teacher shook his head incredulously. “May I ask your parents’ names?”
“Oh, sir. I…” Hayden bit his lower lip as he peeked over at Hermione, then glued his eyes on the table in front of him. He did the first thing that popped up in his mind: He lied, at least partly. “I’ve never known my parents, sir. I grew up with foster parents. And I don’t want to sound impolite, sir, but I’d rather not talk about them.”
The teacher gave him a curious look and exclaimed, “Oho! Such a mysterious boy.”
The Potions Master turned his attention to Hermione and asked her for her name. Then he turned to the boy next to her. Hayden realised that it was Harry Potter, whom he had not noticed upon first entering the classroom; upon entry, his attention had been seized by the bizarre nature of the teacher’s appearance.
By the time the class ended, Harry had successfully brewed the Draught of Living Death and won the liquid luck, Felix Felicis. Hayden knowing that the Half-Blood Prince’s book had guided Harry, and all the results that must follow, did not care. Hermione, because she saw it as interfering with and breaking laws, albeit small, seemed rather upset about it. Hayden’s potion had turned blackish-brown; he had thrown every ingredient randomly into his cauldron. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to follow instructions correctly. He had already managed to brew the Time-Traveller Potion, a real and difficult potion, for the first time in his life. He simply thought it unfair to the others if he played the know-it-all just for the sake of achieving praise and rewards. That wasn’t the purpose of his mission.
He might know the answers. He might even know all the future consequences of the actions of this present time, but he didn’t want to steal anyone’s glory—especially not Harry Potter’s.
(A/N: Thanks to my beta-reader, La-sorciere. Please let me know what you think of this chapter.) ^_^
Chapter 4: Corner
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Fantastic chapter image by Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I've borrowed some lines from the harrypotter Lexicon and scenes from the HBP DADA class with Snape.
05/13/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden was sitting on a stone bench outside of Hogwarts, watching Hermione. Immediately after their Potions class, he had tried to follow Draco. He had not been able to find him; Draco had somehow disappeared in a crowd of other Slytherins.
When Hayden saw Hermione look his way while coming down the castle’s massive front steps, he genteelly waved a hand at her. She was in the company of a tall boy whose flame coloured locks were clearly natural. Striding beside Hermione, the red-haired boy frowned when he noticed the waving Slytherin; bent down to Hermione, and whispered something in her ear. Hermione elbowed him in the side – slightly too hard to be playful – shook her head and smiled brightly back at Hayden.
“Hi, Hermione,” Hayden greeted, smiling at the brunette when they stopped in front of him.
“Hi! Where did you go after Potions?” she said cheerfully.
Hayden had always loved his mum’s smile, but had never understood why. As a child, he’d never really seen her smile over much. It had been much more common to see her crying after a big fight with his father. And then there had been moments when she had simply sat on an armchair near the ornate marble fireplace, holding a picture in her hands, letting her eyes fill with tears. When Hayden had turned eleven, his father had abandoned him, which had forced him to move to a foster home; only then had he found that picture and had noticed that it was a magical snapshot of three teenagers: a scrawny, dishevelled black-haired boy with glasses and a much taller boy with red hair, his arm around Hermione’s shoulders. She was standing between the boys as a clichéd rose amidst thorns. All three were smiling and waving. In the background was a cake, and emblazoned upon it something that looked like a golden ball with silver wings. Floating in midair just above the cake was the number seventeen.
The bloke standing next to Hermione tapped Hayden rather rudely on his shoulder when he didn’t answer her. This wrenched him from his reverie. Once again, he’d been caught staring foolishly at Hermione with glassy eyes. When he looked up, he stared into the angry face of her companion. After a moment of scrutiny, he realized who her friend was.
“Hayden, this is Ron Weasley,” Hermione said immediately, clearly trying to ignore that Ron was attempting to incinerate Hayden with a glower. “Ron!” She gave an exasperated sigh. “This is Hayden Malcolm.”
Hayden stretched a hand forward to greet Ron. Only when Hermione elbowed him in the side did Ron follow suit.
“Nice to meet you, Ron,” Hayden said. “Are you Ginny’s brother?”
“You’re a Slytherin,” Ron said with a mixture of hatred and mistrust in his voice, disregarding Hayden’s question.
“Ron, don’t start again!” Hermione warned, looking at him sternly.
“What are you implying?” Hayden demanded, furrowing his brow at Ron. “Yes, I’m a Slytherin. That doesn’t mean anything, does it?” He sought the answer from Hermione’s eyes, wondering why Ron already felt this revulsion towards him. But now that he thought about it, hadn’t Ginny reacted the same way when she’d first met Hayden?
“It’s not your fault, Hayden,” Hermione said consolingly, positioning herself between the two. “Don’t worry about Ron. He – he’s just had a bad day. Right, Ron?” she asked, turning to her friend and throwing another look at him, which Hayden couldn’t quite see.
“Yeah, just that,” Ron mumbled, “a bad day. By the way, Malcolm, I heard you rowed with that Malfoy prat, didn’t you?”
“Well,” Hayden said, “he’d been a bit impolite to the ladies, hadn’t he?”
“Did you set up that plot with those gits? Because I’m not falling for it.” Ron took a step forward, clenching his jaw. “I reckon you’re under the same blanket as Malfoy.”
“Under the same…?” Hayden repeated, his mouth in utter shock, provoking Ron. “I am not a homosexual, but perhaps you are a self confessed criminal.” He chuckled at the thought, although he guessed what Ron was up to. Ron’s nostrils flared. Apparently he had missed the barb or else there would have been more.
“Slytherins stick together. Did you do that to impress the girls?” Ron questioned, balling his fists. “To get closer to my sister or Hermione? They’re not stupid enough to fall for you just because you’ve played the hero.”
“Stop it, Ron!” Hermione cried out, pushing back a red-eared Ron.
“Oh, that’s – that’s complete bullocks!” Hayden exclaimed. “I don’t need Draco Malfoy to impress girls, you idiot! For your information, there’s already a girl I fancy and she’s a Muggle.” Hayden noticed Ron’s features deflate as the ginger boy blinked at him. Hayden’s admission seemed to have surprised him a bit, and even Hermione’s mouth dropped open. Pursing his lips, Hayden added, “Just because I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again when I go back home, that doesn’t mean I’ve already forgotten her.”
“Oh, Hayden,” Hermione intoned, “you’ll see her again, don’t worry about that.”
Hayden’s gaze dropped, and he felt his heart sink. The moment he had left his house that morning, he had not even spared a thought about what might happen if he changed his parents’ past, not a single thought about the consequences that might affect each individual in his world. What about Naomi? Would he ever see her again? Would she still exist when he went back?
“Did I hear right? You’ve got a Muggle girlfriend? A Muggle?” Ron asked, flabbergasted.
“She’s not my girlfriend; I just fancy her. I think now that if I ever see her again, I’m going to tell her how much I –” Hayden noticed Hermione smiling at him with gleaming eyes, and Ron, his eyes wide in surprise. “Never mind,” Hayden mumbled. His ears and face felt hot in embarrassment. He quickly changed the topic. “What’s so extraordinary about liking a girl? I’m an ordinary bloke, not made of stone.”
“No, just the fact that a Slytherin loves a Muggle, that’s extraordinary!” Ron said sceptically, raising a brow.
“I don’t understand…” Hayden looked from Ron to Hermione.
“You’re not an ordinary Slytherin, Hayden,” Hermione said, her lips curving into a smile. “That’s what he meant to say.”
The three of them went back to the castle. Ron’s attitude towards Hayden abruptly changed with the Slytherin’s admission that he fancied another girl. Ron didn’t talk to him with such repulsion in his voice anymore. Maybe Ron had thought that Hayden was interested in his sister and that’s why he had been protective. Or was it because of Hermione?
Nah, my own mother? That’s gross. Hayden cringed at the thought.
On their way to their next subject, Hayden’s attention had been unexpectedly caught by a girl with long raven black hair; she was in a blue and bronze scarf and black cloak which he guessed must be the Hogwarts Ravenclaw uniform. She was surrounded by a few other girls wearing the same blue and bronze scarves, giggling and tittering. Hayden stopped in his tracks, just a few yards away from the black-haired girl, staring at her, his eyes wide, his mouth in a half-uttered exclamation, as though he’d been struck by the thunderbolt.
A girl, standing just beside the Asian beauty upon whom Hayden’s attention had fallen, noticed the gawking Slytherin and elbowed her friend in the side. The Asian girl stared in Hayden’s direction, scanning him a few times, her eyes scrutinising Hayden’s badge. Her pretty face wrinkled in a slight cringe and she turned away, resuming her conversation with her friends.
“That’s Cho Chang,” Hermione said behind the back of her hand. “You and Harry both have the same taste, don’t you?”
“Cho … Chang?” Hayden repeated slowly, as if saying her name aloud was evoking something in him, like a memory. And then he finally remembered.
Cho looks so similar to Naomi, Hayden thought. How can this be?
Hayden’s eyes drifted shut for a moment, as a long-buried memory came back to him.
There was a little girl, maybe barely five years old, with long, smooth hair, swaying on a swing. On the swing neighbouring hers was a curly blond-haired boy of the same age, staring at her with curiosity.
“Were those your parents?” the boy asked incredulously, watching a man and a woman entering a Muggle car across the street.
“They look like gorillas,” the boy chuckled. “Did the stork deliver you to the wrong house?”
“Don’t say that,” she snapped, then dropped her gaze on her sandals. “Well, somehow … My Mum’s name is Cho Chang. She’s Chinese, y’know.”
“That explains your ethnicity,” he remarked, swinging higher. “She must be as pretty as you are.”
“What city?” She looked puzzled and furrowed her brow at the boy, who just ignored her question.
“Where is she? And why don’t you live with her?”
“She’s sick,” the black-haired girl replied, swinging a bit, her eyes on her sandals again. “Dunno where she is.”
Hayden opened his eyes, and his gaze landed on Cho again.
“She is as pretty as Naomi,” Hayden mumbled thoughtlessly, vague eyes enraptured by Naomi’s beauty, which he was actually seeing in her teenaged mother, Cho Chang.
Wait a second … Does that mean …Naomi’s a half-blood, not a Muggle?
Ron snapped his fingers a few times in front of Hayden’s face, bringing him back to reality.
Coming back to his senses, Hayden suddenly realised that the gaggle of girls surrounding Cho had been staring at him with an air of dislike and displeasure. Cho turned uncomfortably on her heel and strode away, with her friends trailing behind.
“Never look at a gorgeous girl with your mouth hanging open for longer than ten seconds,” Ron advised dramatically, shaking his head. “Because according to the grapevine, it makes you a pervert.”
“Hayden, I don’t want to dishearten you,” Hermione told him bracingly, “but I think Corner won’t like it if you keep gawking at his girlfriend like that.”
“Cho’s dating Corner again?” Ron inquired.
“Yes, they seem to be having an on-and-off relationship. Dunno, apparently they’re on again. Ginny told me.”
“Corner?” Hayden turned to Hermione. “You mean, Michael Corner?”
“Yes, exactly him. D’you know him?”
There was Naomi’s childlike voice in Hayden’s ears again, hearing her saying over and over again.
Well …Daddy left my Mum…he left my Mum for another woman. Now you know…
Once again, Hayden felt his jaw clench and his fists ball up.
I can’t imagine how any husband in his right mind could cheat on a wife that beautiful…or leave her for that matter. Hayden sighed and tried to cover it by biting his lower lip. His whole body filled suddenly with a new wave of rage. Now, more than ever, he was determined to change not only his parents’ fate, but also that of Naomi’s.
At least I know now Naomi’s a pure-blood. Then why the hell didn’t she ever tell me?
Defence Against the Dark Arts was their next subject, and Hayden was sitting in the back of the room with the other Slytherins. Assuming it wasn’t necessary, he didn’t pay much attention to the greasy-haired teacher’s lecture about the differences between an Inferius and a ghost. He only caught a few snatches of Ron’s conversation with his friend when the dark, long-haired teacher made Ron’s friend, whom Hayden recognized as Harry Potter, answer his questions. But Hayden’s mind was too weary to listen. He was bored. He rested his chin lazily on his palm with his elbow on the table while watching Cho, who was sitting one chair away from him with the other Ravenclaws.
Hayden stared at her with shimmering eyes, and deep inside he missed Naomi. How could he be attracted to his best friend’s mother like that? Naomi was so similar to her mother as a teenager, as though they were twins; the long, black, smooth hair, the same smile, the eyes, the lips… It pained Hayden’s insides when he remembered Naomi and more the fact that he didn’t even say a word to her about where he’d be going. But he knew that she’d never have fully understood if he’d told her that he’d be travelling through time.
But now, knowing she was a witch, maybe everything could’ve gone different with them. Maybe she could’ve come with him and helped him, and all that.
Cho turned to look at Hayden and blushed, shifting nervously in her seat. Just as Hayden was about to smile back, he realised that everyone’s eyes were boring into him; some were giggling and chuckling, while other Slytherins were coughing as if to bring Hayden back to his senses. He noticed rather too late the teacher’s attention on him.
“I did not intend to disturb your…pleasant daydream, seeing that education appears to be of lesser importance to you than studying Miss Chang,” the teacher growled, his black eyes scanning Hayden. Three-quarters of the class, not including the Slytherins, were giving him unpleasant smirks and mumbling behind their hands. “But would you supply us with additional information about the distinctions between Inferi and ghosts?”
The whole class fell silent, all eyes upon Hayden. Hermione gave him an encouraging nod. Hayden sat upright in his chair, and spoke clearly and loudly. “Professor, in addition to what Harry told us, that ghosts are transparent, they also retain their sense of being, hence the fact that they have an active consciousness.” Hayden cleared his throat and noticed the professor’s hooked nose flaring at him, his left eyebrow twitching. Hayden continued. “Indeed, an Inferius is solid, as Harry also mentioned, but it can’t think for itself since it has been bewitched and merely serves as a puppet. Therefore, one has sentience but no body, the other a body but no sentience.”
The teacher’s lips pursed at this. Ron clapped his hands cheerfully once. The class broke out mumbling and muttering, which was abruptly quelled when the teacher threw a stern look across the classroom.
“I agree,” Hermione said in a high-pitched voice, smiling kindly at Hayden. “And, to clarify, sentience refers to utilization of sensory organs, the ability –”
“Ms. Granger, I don’t remember asking you for that supplementary stupidity.” He turned to Hermione, his lip quivering, scowling down at her, and then turned back at Hayden. “Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley should, but in all probability will not, take a lesson from you, a Slytherin, a student of my House, on how to study efficiently to enhance their knowledge.” The hook-nosed teacher turned his back on Hayden, his robes gliding over the stony ground, and glided back towards the blackboard. “Take twenty well-earned points for Slytherin.”
“I’d say...I just had a little inspiration.” Hayden shot Cho a glance and winked at her; she squirmed in her chair, attempting to wholly turn from his eye as she hid her crimson face behind her book.
“Now turn to page two hundred and thirteen,” the teacher said, apparently not having noticed Hayden’s latter statement, and smirked, “and read the first two paragraphs on the Cruciatus Curse.”
A boy with ear-length black hair, another Ravenclaw, shot Hayden a spiteful look from the table next to Cho. The boy’s hand tightened around his wand. He flicked his wand under the table, just out of eye-shot of the teacher, and, hovering behind Cho’s seat, blazing red letters formed into words: ‘Sod off. She’s mine!’
“You were brilliant, Hayden.” A female voice came floating towards Hayden’s table right after the teacher had dismissed the class, and when he raised his head, looking for the source of the voice, he found Hermione standing beside him, beaming. Ron and Harry were still gathering their stuff, while the teacher had some serious words with the two of them, for some reason unknown to Hayden.
“You’d answer the same, Hermione. That was nothing,” Hayden said dismissively.
“Hm, maybe, but not like you did,” she replied. “I mean you were distracted, and then…”
Someone bumped against Hermione rudely while passing her. All her books, notes, and pieces of parchment fell on the ground, scattered around her feet. For a second, Hayden thought it had been an isolated accident, but when he looked up at the person walking past Hermione, he met the sneering visage of Draco Malfoy.
“Have you a problem, Malfoy?” Hayden asked, walking up to the other blond-haired boy, his chin jutting out.
“Yeah,” Draco said, pursing his lips and pointing the tip of his wand at Hayden’s chest. “You and that Weasel’s bloody girlfriend were blocking my way.”
“You pick up her stuff,” Hayden commanded in a firm voice. The teacher was now watching them, and a gaggle of students were gathered around the two blond, pale boys.
Draco’s mates chortled behind their leader’s back, but Hayden held his scowl. Hermione ran up towards Hayden. “It’s okay, Hayden, that’s just Malfoy. C’mon,” she said, tugging at Hayden’s arm. He noticed Draco’s brow twitching when his eyes caught Hermione’s hand, seeing her tugging at his arm.
Hayden ignored her and smirked at the pathetic sight of his teenage father. “If you—just once, Malfoy, just once— would show her the respect she deserves, I assure you she will start to notice you,” he cajoled, “Or do you not know what you want?”
For a short moment, it seemed as though Draco would respond with one of his famous comebacks; in the next, it seemed like he was going to jinx Hermione when he flicked his wand in her direction; but then, before anyone noticed, all the parchments and books on the ground arranged themselves in midair and landed on the nearest table.
Without watching Hermione’s mouth fall open or give anyone else time to respond, Draco strode from the classroom. His smooth black cloak, gliding over the hewn stone ground, was like the fatal brush he had just fled.
(A/N: Thanks to La_sorciere for the beta-work.)
W/R/T Cho Chang. I know she's a year above Harry's gang, so there'll be an explanation as to why she's in his class this time.
Chapter 5: Hayden's Advantage
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Cute chapter image by the amazing Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I've borrowed the description from the HP lexicon for Luna's Streeler.
05/13/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Standing in front of the moldering blank wall, where he supposed was the entrance of the Slytherin common room, Hayden knocked on it like he’d do on an un-magical door and hoped someone would then let him enter. Just a few yards away was the stockroom in which he had awakened this morning when he arrived in the castle. He ran a hand carefully over the cold stone wall, but there was no button or lever to open the entrance door. He drew his wand and tapped it against the stone; however, no simple spell seemed to pop up in his mind to cast on it.
Maybe a password? “Great, where the hell should I get the damn password?” he groaned.
Hayden felt like blaming his father for the lack of knowledge he had about being a Slytherin. He suddenly contemplated about his encounters with the individual students from other houses. Their reactions towards him had rather much in common. Why had his father never told him stories of his past like his mum sometimes did? Why did his dad actually never seem to have cared for him, his only son?
Distant footsteps approached, bringing Hayden out of his thoughts. Silhouettes formed in the torch lit corridors, shaping four figures of students.
“Look who is there, Granger’s pet, left back in the dark,” the tall, slim boy chortled with that strident voice, tedious in its familiarity, which Hayden recognised as Draco’s. “Hey, have you lost your Mummy?” Draco chirruped in an exaggeratedly dulcet tone, as though he was talking to a little child.
Hayden didn’t know why he felt like blown up by the fire by those words. It felt like inferno in his stomach when he heard Draco talking like that, although deep inside him he knew that his dad had suffered the most when his mum died by that car accident. That was the first time he’d seen his father crying…so broken down; the first time Hayden realised that his dad loved his mum. The urge to scald Draco with some witticism blew up like a bubble.
Hayden exhaled noisily, then he threw Draco that prominent Malfoy-smirk, and said, “Don’t be jealous of me, Malfoy, just because she’s closer to me than she’ll ever be to you. It was most gentlemanly of you, though, when you picked up her stuff. She was really flattered.”
There was an outburst of laughter. Draco’s two cronies were holding their stomachs in amusement. The girl beside Draco giggled behind her hand, obviously finding the scene hilarious. All three exchanged amused looks with each other as their voices echoed in the corridor like the laughter of hyenas.
Draco raised his hand dismissively and his three companions quieted in an instant.
He made a movement forward—not towards Hayden—but towards the stone wall—and mumbled the password against it. It opened and he entered without another word.
Weariness, not having seized him, Hayden stayed in the common room reading his copy of Hogwarts: A History. He thought of finding more information about Hogwarts since he had never really gotten into his mum’s copy of this book. When he decided not to go to Hogwarts when he turned eleven, he decided that it was not of interest.
After all, how exciting would have Hogwarts been, when he couldn’t share this joy with his female best friend, Naomi? He would have only been with her during holidays; he couldn’t just leave her alone in her foster parents’ house—not with the treatment she received from her foster father. So he didn’t regret his decision to refuse to attend Hogwarts when he turned eleven. Besides, what could be so wonderful about Hogwarts if his parents would not be there to give him motivation and support? Magic wasn’t as fascinating as it used to be when his mum was still alive.
Soft footsteps padded down the stair that led to the boys' dormitories; when Hayden looked up, he stared into Draco’s pallid face, which unmaskedly gave him a surprised look. Draco clearly had not expected someone still awake and around this time. He was nervously rubbing his forearm, and apparently struggling with the options whether to go back again to his room or stride out of the common room.
“Still up?” Hayden said, scrutinising Draco’s suspicious behaviour. Where might he intend to go this late at night…? Hayden suddenly remembered that his father had a scar on his forearm (the same spot Draco was now scratching) and had never told him whence he’d received it. Now, by staring at Draco, Hayden wondered if that “wound” he had on his forearm was fresh.
“What’s that?” Draco asked with a feigned interest, his eyes pointing at Hayden’s copy of Hogwarts: A History.
“Malfoy, I think it’s about time to tell you the truth,” Hayden said with such flatness that it was more biting than any kind of venom, “this is a book!”
“Shut up. Shouldn’t you be in bed by now and dream of Granger?” he spat as he cringed his nose in distaste. Draco threw furtive glances towards the exit.
“Remembering Hermione again, are you?” Hayden raised his brow at the other boy, a grin snaking up his lips. Draco’s face flared and then he raised his eyebrow, too.
“What’s that supposed to mean? She’s detestable; a Mudblood... I don’t see any reason to waste my precious thoughts on that thing,” Draco scowled.
“You don’t? Then why did you start talking about her?”
Draco sneered at Hayden, the staircase amplifying the look’s potency, yet still even a casual observer of human nature could tell that the furious shimmer in his eyes belied something far more interesting. He shifted in his position; his incensed voice, though, faltered. “What’s so bloody fascinating about that Mudblood?”
The impression that Draco was asking this because he struggled with the confusion he felt for Hermione, and now wanted to know what Hayden saw in her, was, obvious. Also clear was that he asked in order to understand his own feelings. Hayden knew his father too well; there was no way he could conceal his true feelings for Hermione. Hayden knew the truth: he knew his father’s insecurities and weaknesses.
“One of the fascinating things about Hermione is that she always sees the good in a person. And did you notice her smile?” He looked down on his book, so that Draco wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, but also with the purpose to hide his grin – he finally had his father like a fish on an invisible hook with a line that run to the end of the world yet be pulled back with a touch. If Draco truly cared nothing for Hermione, he would’ve left by now.
Draco didn’t leave.
“I haven’t noticed,” Draco chortled; he leaned his bum against the side of the long couch on whose other end Hayden was sitting. “Not even that ugly brown eye colour, not really my type of –”
“– How’d you know her eyes are brown?” Hayden asked nonchalantly, cutting him off while turning the pages of his book. Draco fell silent, while Hayden continued, “When you held her in your arms, did you notice she smells like roses?”
“What? I never held her –” Draco spluttered, but then he swallowed down his words as he seemed to have remembered. It was a few days ago, when Draco had slipped a flobberworm into Hermione’s robe. Hermione had squirmed around and almost fallen down the stairs as Draco didn’t prevent her from falling. His voice faltered again.
“When she almost fell from the stairs, because of your prank, don’t you remember that?”
“Serves her right,” he said, trying to sound harsh, and then he cleared his throat. “Granger, is she – is she with that – is she dating –”
Hayden sensed what Draco was going to ask. “Dating Ron? No, she isn’t. She only sees him as a brother.”
If Hayden had now looked at Draco, he would have seen that a weak, barely visible smile had appeared on his lips.
Shifting nervously on his spot, Draco mumbled annoyed, “I’m going to bed. Talking about Granger makes me sick.”
Hayden smiled contently at himself. Oh Dad, you can’t delude me.
He followed with his eyes his future father walking back to the dormitories: his head half bent; his hands inside cloak pockets; his shoulders slumped over. Hayden could tell he’d heard a sigh that was more than imagined—and certainly relieved—coming from him before he disappeared in the shadows.
Hayden sought a one-on-one meeting with Hermione after lunch, but Ron wouldn’t let the two alone and tagged along with them. Harry had a meeting with the Headmaster again, and Hayden wondered what those meetings were about.
They went outside to the Hogwarts grounds. There they headed towards the lake under the big tree, under which a girl with that natural blond that is made by peroxide and skin that is compared to alabaster by the poet and whitewashed concrete by the more mundane sat on the grass; on her lap was a transparent box with something colourful to which he was talking as if it were a whom.
“Hi, Luna,” Hermione greeted, smiling uncomfortably. “What do you have there?”
“Oh.” Luna held up slightly the transparent box in the air; she answered in a dreamy tone, “This is Pierre, my new pet. Daddy sent it to me this morning. He got it from his journey in France.”
“Luna, it’s a snail!” Ron remarked, looking amused. “And you called that thing ‘Pierre’?”
“This is not any snail, Ronald,” Luna said, “it’s a –”
“– Streeler,” Hayden finished. Hermione and Ron looked with wide eyes at the blond-haired boy, appearing to be astounded at his knowledge. Luna blinked at Hayden in surprise.
“Is there anything you don’t know?” Ron asked. “You’re so like Hermione.”
Hayden and Hermione exchanged an amused look, then he simply shrugged and turned his attention again on the bizzare blonde with the snail.
“Yes, indeed it is. How did you know?” Luna asked.
“I recognised the conspicuous colour; it changes every hour, does it?” Hayden knelt in front of Luna, staring with interest at the giant snail inside the transparent box. “I’ve never seen a Streeler in real life before. They deposit a trail of venom when it moves that kills and shrivels all vegetation over which it passes. They are actually quite interesting.”
“I guess Luna found her soulmate, then,” Ron chuckled. Hermione shot him a look, and he shrugged apologetically.
“Yes, they are,” Luna replied airily, disregarding Ron’s comment, and put some grass into the transparent box. The grass turned brownish the moment it hit the snail’s slime, as though it had dried it instantly. “In fact they are quite useful, you see, they can kill Horklumps.”
“Oh, by the way,” Hermione interrupted, “that’s Luna Lovegood. Luna, that’s Hayden Malcolm.”
“Luna Lovegood? Hey, you’re the editor of The Quibbler. I’ve read the 109th edition, the article you wrote about the Umgubular Slashkilter, it’s funny. Mum always said it’s rubbish and I shouldn’t read such…” Hayden felt his cheeks heating up when he realised all eyes were upon him; Hermione and Ron seemed both astounded. The Slytherin added quickly, reaching a hand forward to avert the others’ attention from him, “Nice to meet you, Luna.”
“There’s no such thing as the Umgubular…” Hermione shook her head; Hayden grinned at her sympathetically. She turned away and mumbled, “Never mind.”
“The 109th edition? But that doesn’t exist. And besides, Daddy is the editor of The Quibbler,” Luna corrected him, shaking his hand curtly, “but I was planning to write something about those creatures.”
“Oh, maybe I confused something,” Hayden explained, a nervous smile on his pallid face. “But, yeah, you definitely should.”
“You’re rather different from your fellow Slytherins, Hayden,” Luna remarked in an airy voice. “You’re pleasant to be with.”
“Anyway, Hayden, weren’t you about to talk with me about something?” Hermione asked. “We can have a minute, then.”
“Stay in eye-shot, Hermione,” Ron reminded her, his voice sharp.
“Yes, Father!” Hermione replied, curtsying towards him with grace befitting a debutante.
Hayden and Hermione walked a few yards away from Luna and Ron. Hayden could see how Luna put her Streeler on the grass, causing Ron jumped away in disgust from the snail.
“Why’s he so over-protective of you?” Hayden asked curiously, nodding towards the croaking Ron. “Is he your –”
“My what? Boyfriend?” Hermione said tersely. “Funny, how everybody thinks that.”
“But, is he?”
“Hayden, was that what you wanted to talk with me about? My private life?” Hermione sighed.
“No, I’m just curious, you know. I told Malfoy Ron isn’t your boyfriend. Would be awkward if he thinks I lied,” Hayden said defensively; he paused for a dramatic effect and sighed.
“B–But why would Malfoy be interested if I’m dating Ron or not?” Hermione’s mouth was agape, staring curiously at Hayden.
“He’s interested in anyone you may be dating.”
“But why? Maybe he can’t imagine that some bloke would find me attractive,” Hermione grunted. She walked a little away from Hayden and stared into the distance. “After all, he’s doing all he can to make my life a waking nightmare.”
“Yeah, because he wants your attention.”
“Excuse me? Why would he want my attention?” Hermione asked, apparently taken off guard by Hayden’s statement that she turned round on him.
“Dunno,” Hayden replied, shrugging. He looked over to Luna and Ron, who were trying to catch the snail. Luna squeaked when Ron pointed his wand at Pierre in panic; the snail motioned with grace into the air, and Ron was trying to lead it back to its box. Hayden had to smile at their sight. “There’s always a reason why someone treats you the way they do. My Mum once said, ‘Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be.’”
“Do you mean I should treat Malfoy like a friend so that we can become friends?” the brunette scuffed, raising her brow incredulously.
“Not directly. I mean you shouldn’t give him hugs or such. Treat him the same like … you would treat me, for example…like a human.”
“Hayden, you’re absolutely different from Malfoy,” Hermione said, staring at his grey eyes. She added, “Although physically you look very similar.”
“Thank you,” Hayden said snappily. He had heard this statement quite a lot from people who’d seen him and his father together when he was young, as though Hayden was the miniature of Draco Malfoy when he was a little kid. Only his curls and brains he got from his mother, for which he was very grateful.
“Wait a second.” Hermione narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Hayden and said, “Were you planning something with me and Malfoy? Why do you want me to be friends with him?”
“I didn’t say I want you to be friends with him…”
“Then why do you want me to be nice to him? He’s always been an insufferable git, especially to me. He hates me, and I should be welcoming?”
“Weren’t you the one who taught me to see the good in people?” The words just spilled out of his mouth without him wanting to, though he tried to keep his voice under control, but before he realised what he’d said, Hermione shot him already a bewildered look. He only hoped he’d not given away too much information.
“Excuse me? For someone I just met yesterday, you seem to know me quite well,” Hermione pointed out, making a guarded step backward. “Thinking about it, I have never seen you before, even if you’re from a different house. Well, yes, of course I don’t know everyone’s face. But … It’s as though you –” Hermione’s eyes grew wide. “– exist just since yesterday. Who are you? We’re in the same school year, but I’ve never had classes with you in the last years yet you –”
“N – No, listen.”
“– seem so familiar,” Hermione trailed off.
There was again a ripple on Hayden’s neck like a cool zephyr. And now he remembered, this was the same feeling he felt when he had landed in the Hogwarts castle, when he met the other students and attended classes. He looked up into the sunny blue sky that was salted with sheep-sized clouds. There was no wind. When he stared back at Hermione, she blinked at him. For a second it seemed as though she was staring right through him, but then her pupils were focused on him again.
“Oh, yes, I remember. We had Charms and History of Magic in Third Year and Fourth Year together, why didn’t you just say it?” Hermione said thoughtfully. “You were always sitting at the back with the Slytherins. But yes, I do remember.”
“What?” Hayden rubbed his neck gingerly. He glanced around him; there were two little girls, maybe first year students, apparently deep in their conversation. Hayden couldn’t quite tell, but one of the girls seemed to have just stowed her wand into her robe pocket. But, if that had been magic, could a first year perform such powerful incantation? Both walked past them. Hayden stared back at Hermione. “Did you feel that?”
“The cold breeze,” he said darkly.
“There was no breeze, it’s rather too hot today,” Hermione said. “Are you alright, Hayden?”
“Y – Yes, everything’s fine.” Hayden felt what seemed to be a dry tongue on the back of his neck and where it went, there followed gooseflesh.
“So, was that everything you wanted to talk with me about, about Malfoy?” she asked in a light voice. “I’ll try to be kind to him, if he stops being rude to me. If only it were possible…” she said reluctantly, biting her lower lip.
“Er … alright then. The other matter I wanted to discuss with you is –” Hayden thought carefully before he formulated his question, “– what can you tell me about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters?”
(A/N: Thanks to my amazing beta reader, Max82.
*Hayden knew about the prank of his father on Hermione because Hermione told her son in the future and Hayden remembered it in this moment.)
Chapter 6: Understanding The Dream
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Terrific chapter image by Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I've borrowed the headline of The Daily Prophet from the HP lexicon.
05/14/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden couldn’t really tell how long he’d been staring inquiringly at Hermione. He only knew it had been since he had asked that question about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters. He wanted to know everything about his parents’ pasts: who their closest friends were; who their former lovers were before they fell in love with each other; and about those misunderstandings they’d referred to that had kept both acting so coldly towards one another. As a little boy, Hayden used to eavesdrop from their bedroom door; they were always yelling their lungs out, screaming that if only the other weren’t so ignorant and pig-headed then things would have probably gone differently between them. Hayden always wondered what they had meant by that.
Another great secret, which had always interested Hayden, was his father’s dark past. Who were those hooded people who, that fateful night, had chased him and his dad, the night his father left him behind. Were those the so-called Death Eaters who killed many people, magical and Muggle? And if so, did his father belong to them? Would that mean his father was evil, too?
“Excuse me, what?” Hermione asked, a bit perplexed, snapping Hayden back to reality.
“Um … Could you tell me a – anything you know about the Dark Lord and Death Eaters, you know, anything?”
“I don’t know more than you do, probably, except that Voldemort’s back,” Hermione said, her bewildered confusion showing in a shrug. “What do you want to know? About what happened at the Ministry of Magic last year, or something specific? If it’s about the prophecy, I really can’t tell you much.”
“Er…” This is going to be more complicated, Hayden thought. He couldn’t follow what Hermione was talking about; he didn’t even know the basics of it all, since his parents never shared a word about the events of the wizarding battle that would – if nothing was going to change – occur approximately a year hence. Giving it another try, he spoke slowly, gesturing with his hands in the air as though struggling to find the proper words.
“…is back,” Hermione said tersely.
“Er … yes. And … the Death Eaters are his supporters, aren’t they?” Hayden asked, trying his best not to sound uninformed. But Hermione looked more sceptical than before.
“What’s this about, Hayden?” Hermione said, furrowing her brows. “Are you trying to play some sort of game with me?” She shook her head, smiling at him kind-heartedly, but with a bit of sarcasm as well. “You can play that I’m-Not-From-This-World Game with Luna, she loves to play that, actually, but I’m really not interested.”
“OK, then,” Hayden said, staring disappointedly at the ground, “and you don’t know anything about Horcruxes or Hallows yet, do you?”
“Pardon me, what? How…” Hermione looked stunned for a moment at his question.
“Never mind,” Hayden said dismissively, “I’ll invite Luna for a chat then when I’ve got some time.” Before he made his way back to the castle, he called back to Hermione, “I’m going to the library. I’ve got to do some research.”
Hayden was in the library, his head hidden behind a stack of books. He was so determined to find some information about the Dark Lord and Death Eaters that he was actually willing to spend his entire evening in the library. Unfortunately, there were few, if any, books about dark magic of any sort. That lack of ease was echoed in his attempting to find out about current events. But perhaps in this, he was not searching in the correct section.
He ran his finger across the books on the shelves, and went up and down the aisles. But there was no book that would give him the information he needed. He went back to his seat, and his weary eyes widened. There was a newspaper lying on his table.
“The Daily Prophet,” Hayden whispered, “of course!”
The headline of the Daily Prophet read:
THE BATTLE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES,
An Analysis of the Chase and Battle, June 1996
Hayden looked around him and wondered who had put the Daily Prophet on his table, but no one was acting suspiciously. There were only a few scattered students, sitting at tables and chatting in hushed tones. But then, Hayden recognised two first year girls, whom he had seen while speaking to Hermione a while ago. He peeked through the shelves and noticed that one was writing on a parchment, copying from her textbook, while the other girl was sitting down, her head resting upon her arms, which were laid out across the table in front of her. She seemed to be asleep.
He scanned the articles and looked at the moving pictures. When Hayden was little, his mum had always had to monitor everything he wanted to read, since he was a very knowledge-thirsty boy. The Daily Prophet was the only thing he wasn’t allowed to read, because of the articles about the remaining Voldemort Supporters and murders of many innocent Muggles or Muggleborns. When he moved to foster care, all those magical things were completely removed from his life, leaving only his father’s wand and his mother’s textbooks. They were all he had to remind him that, somewhere out there, magic still existed, and, most importantly, that he should never forget who his real parents were.
“Forgive me, Mum, you never wanted me to read this, but I’m a big boy now,” he sighed. I have to find Dad’s connection to the Death Eaters, he finished in his thoughts. It was already late. Exhaustion was crawling up his body, but he was determined, so he started reading…
“Get up! Quick,” a man’s voice said sternly, shaking Hayden’s arm. “Wake up. I got your clothes ready.”
“What’s going on?” Hayden mumbled from under his blanket. His voice sounded young, softer and higher than usual. He got up from his bed, his small-framed-self was startled. He looked around and found himself in his old bedroom again, in Malfoy Manor. He felt the man’s hand grasping his arm and dragging him out of his bedroom. His tiny legs could hardly keep up.
“You’ve got to get out of here,” the man said in a frantic whisper, glancing nervously out of the window. His hand was clutched around his wand tightly.
“Where are we going?” Hayden asked, but there was no reply. The man dragged him out of the house and into the garden, and Hayden felt a swooping sensation in his stomach as the ground under his feet vanished. He thought that the sudden sensation of being punched in the stomach was going to make him vomit, but it was gone as quickly as it had come.
The ground reappeared under his feet and found himself standing in front of a house. The man beside him bent down, and Hayden was startled to see that it wasn’t his old father before him, with his dirty-blonde beard and receding hair, but the teenage version of Draco, in full existence as he was when Hayden had first encountered him in the dungeons. He spoke with the voice Hayden had in memory.
“Listen Hayden, I want you to hide!” Draco’s voice was trembling; he was shaking the little boy slightly. “You’re not safe with me anymore, my son. They are after me. Some of Voldemort’s remaining supporters, called Death Eaters. You should take care of yourself, you hear me?”
“Who? But Daddy, tell ‘em you’re no D – Death Eater anymore. You’re a good man, aren’t you?” Hayden clasped Draco’s arms desperately, his tiny hands on the young man’s forearm, trembling.
“That’s exactly the problem, my dear son,” Draco said, trying to smile in spite of everything.
“Who are they? What should I do?” Hayden asked.
“Don’t be scared,” he said, his voice weighed down with worry. Hayden now noticed that Draco’s eyes were bloodshot; the bags under his eyes were swollen, which emphasised his meager, pale face. He looked as though he hadn’t slept for quite some time. “Here’s my wand. Remember what your Mum taught you? Use all the spells you know if you’re in danger. Be a good boy, can you promise me that?”
Draco gave Hayden his wand, hugged him quickly, then turned around. The little boy grasped Draco’s hand, not wanting him to leave. “But where are you going?” He felt tears running down his cheeks, his chest heaving.
“You won’t understand.” He turned to Hayden one last time and patted him gently on his head. His eyes were filled with tears, too. “Don’t worry. You’ll be under the Protection Charm that is cast on this house and on you if you stay with this family. Remember your mum’s Muggle friend, Martin, and his wife, Hannah? They’ll take care of you as long as I am away, OK?”
“But I don’t like Martin and Hannah,” the curly-haired boy whimpered. His tiny hand clutched around his father’s wand and the other around his father’s hand. “Don’t go, don’t go, Dad! I’ll come with you! We can hide together.”
“NO!” Draco bellowed, his impatience growing, causing Hayden to stumble backward. Draco walked a little ways away, and Hayden could hear him mumbling before he left. “I’ve already lost your Mum; I don’t want to lose you, too.”
Hayden felt, once again, pain as he had endured when his father had vanished into the dark on the night it had actually happened. That night, he had not understood, being young, not even eleven. But this time it was painfully comprehensible as to why he had left. Draco was absorbed by the night, his light-blond hair fading into the shadows, cloak gliding over the pavement. The only sound echoing through Hayden’s mind was that of his Father’s footsteps, as he walked out of his life - forever.
Hayden sat up and reality broke past his eyes like dams, opening. His face, warm, felt as though a hand had been pressed against his cheek a mere second before. His heart throbbed frenetically within his chest. His throat felt that dryness that feels as if no water will moisten. A sweat that came neither from the heat of exertion nor the cold of fear ran down his forehead. His head ached horribly.
He observed his surroundings. He was still in the library; no one was around. A few students’ voices from the other side of the aisle were the only sources of noise around him. He brushed his palm over his cheek. Had someone awakened him?
The stack of books, which contained information which both of his parents had desperately tried to shield from him while he was still a little boy, was still in front of him; he was determined to go through them in order to find the information he needed.
He realised that he had once again dreamt that dread memory he wanted so desperately to exorcise from his mind. But it—he refused to call it anything so anthromorphic as ‘dream’ or ‘thought’ or ‘memory’ —evoked new emotions inside of him. Somehow … he was starting to understand his father, although he didn’t know why or how. But things became clearer the longer he stayed in this era, now that he had finally met his adolescent and apparently—or was it thus—confused father and his oblivious mother. Draco Malfoy, it seemed, was only acting cold-hearted and arrogant. That insufferable prick was actually only insecure: a bloke who was too dumb to reveal his true feelings for Hermione. Hayden chuckled and shook his head in amusement.
Even if Hayden was about to turn the world upside down, Draco Malfoy was still his father. A coward, maybe, who abandoned him…
‘You’re not safe with me anymore, my son.’
What does that mean? Hayden wondered. The voice of his father still lingered in his mind.
He looked down at the depictions ministerially organized in the pages of the Daily Prophet, and saw the Death Eaters screaming up at him with the ferocity that said that as a spear entered their liver, they would make critical comments on its craftsmanship, aim and the terror of the wielder. The chains around their arms, attached to the walls to the left and right of them appeared to be there for good reason. That must be the legendary prison, Azkaban. Death Eaters had killed so many wizards and witches, many Muggleborns and innocent Muggles, and Hayden wondered if his father, a Death Eater, was a murderer, too.
“But Dad was no murderer!” Hayden hissed, clutching a tuft of his hair angrily. There was something beneath the paper that caught Hayden’s attention. He picked it up and noticed that it was the Muggle snapshot of his Mum. It had most likely fallen out of his chest pocket while he had been bent over the table, sleeping. He had always wondered where he got it from…
‘I’ve already lost your Mum; I don’t want to lose you, too.’
Once again, he heard his father’s last words before he had disappeared that night. Hayden had never heard him speak so wretchedly, so brokenly, as the night his mother was parted by Death, who used as scythe, a car. And then Hayden felt something still within him. His mouth moved to form words that were alien; his ears, hearing them, did not recognize his voice, a voice speaking on its own, giving words to the thought he had subdued over all those years of hatred towards his father—his father who left him. Because then he finally understood.
“Dad loved Mum; he wasn’t an evil man…my father went away to protect me.”
(A/N: When Hayden had this dream before he time-travelled, he originally saw his real father, meaning: the adult version of Draco. I've cut that out because I don't think it was necessary to mention. Just in case some of you were wondering...)
(A/N: I'm so glad I found a new beta, and she's amazing good! Thanks a lot, Unwritten Curse, for saving this story. And also, my thanks to exodus at APU, who pointed out all the flaws in this chapter, as well as doing the first read.) ^_^
Chapter 7: The Set Up
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Gorgeous chapter image by the brilliant Caren at TDA
(A/N: I tried to fix all the flaws you pointed out in all the reviews. They were really helpful.)
Disclaimer: The places and characters you recognise belongs to JK Rowling. The storyline is mine.
06/02/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden Malfoy knew that his time was running out. Either he managed to make his parents fall in love—with each other, preferably—or his plan to save his mum and dad would fail. He would be compelled but to return to the future and live the life he and the people he loved didn’t deserve. He kept this goal in mind side by side with the dreary and circular life—could it be called a life—his father had lead after Hayden’s mother had died; that deplorable death she hadn’t deserved, leaving an eight-year-old son to a man who drunk himself into desolate oblivion. Even though his parents fought constantly—or so it felt as he skimmed his memories, though the slightest deep remembering showed this false. The times in between their fights were the sort of sweet thing to reminisce over in the way of a return to one who one has not seen for ages. Hayden figured it was far better to get through the hard times with them than to live a life without them.
The only impediment to his plan was: he didn’t have the faintest idea when they washed clean laundry together and more with the intent to conceive a baby. Hayden had no idea how he could facilitate the whole progress of their relationship. And when on earth had his father overcome his prejudices in order to raise a child with a Muggle-born whom he had hated fervently? Hayden had always wondered if his conception had happened as a mere accident or if there was some desperation that drove both to such action; was there even any feelings involved, such as lust or attraction? Draco was showing some probable signs, but what about Hermione? The only fact Hayden was sure of was that their ‘plowing fast of the field’ for him must have been around his parents’ sixth year, since Hermione didn’t return to Hogwarts the next school year, and wouldn’t have been there to give birth to Draco Malfoy’s child.
Nausea climbed from Hayden’s stomach and up his throat when he suddenly realised that he was actually contemplating the idea of Draco and Hermione – his parents – sneezing together. He held his gut as though his breakfast was about to make return as through his mouth was friend to anything as gross as what flitted through his mind.
A couple of days later, in Potions class, Hayden was once again lucky to come off without any teacher or student wondering about his sudden existence in the school. At some points Hayden believed that he’d been given a “Guardian Angel” – his mother had told him about angels when he was a little – that was protecting him. Whether an advanced Memory Charm or some other sort of protection was used, he did not know; he knew that whenever his true identity was in jeopardy, it was protected. When teachers added or deducted points from Hayden, no one seemed to notice that the Slytherin house points actually remained unaffected. Were these people … idiots? His Malfoy-attitude tended to show through at certain moments. And he hated himself for that.
He looked sideways at his arrogant teenaged father, who while unflappably sprinkling some ingredients into his cauldron and stirring the black coloured fluid in it, shot fleeting glances towards the bushy-haired Gryffindor. Hayden suddenly became depressed. How was he going to get this Lothario-in-denial to declare his true feelings for Hermione? Hermione, who was under the misapprehension that Draco hated her with all his might, needed but a clear and sincere declaration of love.
In the last thirty minutes of the class, Draco had said about twenty unkind things regarding Hermione’s appearance and blood status, had mocked her, and had made fun of her with his mates. Hermione, of course, wouldn’t just let all that happen without revenging herself a bit: she jinxed Draco’s cauldron so that it exploded and Draco had to start all over again.
Strangely, when Professor Slughorn deducted points from Draco for his lack of concentration and incapability in class, Draco didn’t tell him that it was actually Hermione Granger who had spoiled his potion.
Although Draco would love, probably more than anything, to achieve the greatest honour any Malfoy could ever achieve, which was to get some Muggle-born punished, he kept himself withdrawn from further discussion with the teacher. He continued his work with a muffled groan.
Hermione held back an infuriated Ron, who was now clutching his wand under the table, waiting to curse Draco out of his shoes. It was her friendly gesture, when she placed a hand on Ron’s to make him lower his wand, that made the blood drain from Draco’s face. It was her reassuring touch to calm Ron down that made Draco clench his teeth and look altogether hurt.
At the end of the class, Professor Slughorn moved around to check on everyone’s potion and funnel it into little flasks for grading. Those who couldn’t submit their work failed the test, and Draco Malfoy was the only one who fell into that category. Hayden looked from Draco to Hermione. If Draco had only looked up at that very moment, he would’ve seen that Hermione was staring apologetically at him, scanning his messy workplace and all the ingredients that were scattered around him because of her actions. When Hayden caught Hermione’s eyes, he smiled, and then he suddenly got an idea. He knew that it was probably absurd, but it was worth the attempt.
Hayden was on his way to the Great Hall for lunch later that day, a bit excited because of the plan he had set up for his parents. They just had to spend time together, that was all, even if it meant locking them up together. He just didn’t yet know how he’d lure them in. He began sprinting up the staircase, taking two steps at a time, and then suddenly bumped into someone who had appeared out of the blue. A loud tinkling fluttered from the stones: the breaking of glass; followed by a bonking sound and a groan.
“Cripes! Can’t you watch your step?” a soft, yet angry, voice exclaimed, groaning under her pain, upset at Hayden’s inattention.
Rubbing his ailing chin, Hayden finally looked down at the soft features and elegant body that was sitting on the ground in front of him. She was rubbing the spot on her forehead which had collided with Hayden’s chin. She looked up at him; her face immediately adopted an expression of surprise at the realisation of who stood before her. She turned her head away and tried to hide her face behind an exquisite fringe.
“Do I look so dreadful?” Hayden lilted, offering her a hand. She brushed a few strands of her raven-black hair out of her face and tugged nervously on her blue-and-bronze Ravenclaw scarf in order to keep her hands busy. Apparently, she neither wanted to give Hayden her hand, nor accept his.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled. She reached around her for scattered flasks, strewn ingredients, fallen potion-brewing-kit and the other odds and ends that had spilled from her cauldron.
“Cho Chang, right?” Hayden said, stooping down to face her at eye-level and giving the Asian Beauty a smile. “Come here, I’ll help you up.”
He tugged at her hand quickly before Cho could even protest and pulled her up. Still, she refused to look at him. One of the potion-filled flasks broke. A mud-like liquid was spilled on the floor.
“Oh, no! Now I have to brew that again,” she mumbled, heaving a noisy groan of frustration.
“Let me help you.” Hayden in the act of bending down to gather her belongings once again, but Cho had already flicked her wand to clean the mess.
All her Potions equipment flew in the air towards her cauldron. “You don’t have to clean up the Muggle-way here at Hogwarts. Do not forget you’re a wizard,” she scolded him.
Hayden stared at her. Why was she saying that?
“Cho, I’m really sorry,” Hayden said sincerely, under the assumption that Cho was just annoyed. “Look, I can brew that one for you. But what do you need the Polyjuice Potion for, anyway?”
The Ravenclaw flinched, but didn’t answer. She was still avoiding eye contact with him, which Hayden found a bit impolite. He stared at Cho for a short and contemplative moment; the determined and familiar tone of voice she used when she spoke to him, the way she moved … it was strange – and strange was an understatement – but Hayden couldn’t rid the feeling that Cho was so much like her daughter, Naomi. They didn’t only look alike, but they also had the same temperament.
Or was it just the guilt of leaving Naomi without telling her about his ventures that was starting up once again?
When Cho had gotten her stuff, she left Hayden without looking back.
Staring at the retreating figure of Cho Corner née Chang, he remembered that Naomi had a wonderful light-hazel eye colour. Did she get that from her mum, too? Next time, when Cho wasn’t mad at him anymore, he would make sure to check out her eye colour.
Draco was so incensed that he didn’t even show up at lunch. Hayden didn’t know where his father had again disappeared to; he speculated that Draco was probably escaping the claws of the nasty pug-nosed girl Hayden met the other night, but he couldn’t be absolutely positive.
If someone told him earlier that his balding father who always had a lingering odor of one drink or another around him had been so sought after by the girls as a teenager, Hayden would have recommended a nice secluded sanitarium for that person. There was even a stupid hag who was head over heels crazy for him. His father… a dude? HA!
Hayden, eating perhaps a little too slowly, was lost thinking about a memory that had not yet happened. He remembered that once, when he had been perhaps four or five, his mother had told him stories about her constant fighting with his father ‘when we were young.’ She didn’t need to tell him that, he had already figured it had always been like that. He felt that his parents conversations were a cruel alternation of apology and fight. But didn’t real love mean never having to say you’re sorry?
He recalled that his mother had told him that Draco continued playing all those pranks on her in their sixth year. She had told him about the Flobberworm he had slipped down her robe when she wasn’t looking…and that she had almost fallen down the stairs when Draco had decided to save her.
It was obvious that Draco craved Hermione’s attention. Now the only thing Hayden needed to do was set them up on a date. The very awkward problem was that neither of them could know that it was a date. The plan was brilliant, but bloody complicated to arrange. He tried to recall other details from his memory—snippets of little stories his mother told him. It was difficult, though, because there was hardly anything left.
Hayden, having finished lunch, walked outside to the grounds of Hogwarts. He noticed Draco standing behind some rocks, with his back turned to him. Draco was staring into the distance with, it seemed, dream-touched eyes. Even from the back, there was a tired slump to his shoulders, his hands looked meagre and…how was one to say it but pale, more pale than usual. It was like he hadn’t slept or eaten in days. He had one hand on his other forearm, rubbing it gingerly through the fabric of his cloak sleeve.
Hayden walked unnoticeably towards him, and, when he followed Draco’s gaze, noticed that Draco was watching Hermione in the distance. She was sitting underneath a big tree and reading a book. There were Ron, Harry and Ginny, who were on their brooms and whooshing around, passing a ball to each other that looked like a handball, but bigger.
Draco was watching Hermione, but not in the way he used to look at her: like she was some disturbing bug that needed to be smashed to death. Yet still, a lack of hatred is not enough to describe his gaze, for that may be passionlessness. He clearly was not apathetic towards Hermione. He was looking at her like he would move heaven and earth for her. His shoulders sagged as he inhaled deeply.
“Still in denial, huh?” Hayden asked, causing Draco to instinctively draw his wand and point it at Hayden’s throat. “What an ugly way to greet someone,” he joked as a means of lowering the tension while holding up his hands.
“Bloody Christ, stop sneaking around behind me!” Draco snapped, lowering his wand to his side. “Didn’t your parents teach you manners? What are you doing here?”
“Didn’t your parents teach you manners?” Hayden retorted, referring to Draco’s wand that he was clutching in his hand. “Or was that an inborn reflex?”
Draco sneered for a second, and then he repeated, “Malcolm, what are you doing here?”
“I was bored. I was looking for a potential victim, whose life I could make a living nightmare,” Hayden said. “So I thought of you. Is this what you do whenever you disappear? You go around stalking and ogling Hermione Granger from the distance?”
Draco’s cheeks turned crimson. “I wasn’t ogling her!” he exclaimed angrily. “I just came from the Owlery and....”
Irritated, Draco huffed at Hayden; apparently he was not in the mood for childish mockery. He was exhausted. He began to stride off, his composure under control. But Hayden needed him to stay for awhile, so he said, “Hermione was looking for you at lunch.”
And Draco, as expected, stopped in his tracks and turned slowly around. He looked surprised, but curious. It was like watching the face of a little boy that had been told Santa Claus would be coming.
Hayden added, looking at his fingernails to appear natural, “I told her I didn’t see you. And that you were probably off somewhere making out with that ugly hen—Parkinson—right? I have trouble naming ugliness.”
“WHAT THE…?” Draco exclaimed in indignation. “No, I was not! I – I just had some business to…” He broke off, looking doubtful and then scowled at Hayden. “Granger wasn’t looking for me, was she?”
“Why does it matter to you?” Hayden gave him the Malfoy-trademark smirk, which seemed more to be a suppressed grin. Draco didn’t reply.
Hayden raised an eyebrow in a smug gesture. “Does Hermione know?”
“Does Hermione know what?”
“That you … fancy her?” Hayden said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Draco seemed to be in shock, and choked on his own spit when he inhaled. His face, ordinarily the pale of inward control and fear of loss, was suddenly the red of mutual eyes and joy of love. Just as all the blood from his body shot to his head, Hayden pursed his lips in order not to laugh: it was half a triumph.
“Merlin’s bloody, sagging pants! What the sodding hell are you talking about?” he spluttered, clenching his hand tightly around his wand once he stopped coughing.
“Wow, Malfoy, do you kiss your mummy with that mouth?”
Draco was on the verge of exploding or cursing Hayden with an Unforgivable. He tried to look disgusted and more indignant than he truly felt. “Fancying the frizzy, nasty Mudblood! What do you think I am? An Idiot?” Draco asked.
Hayden wondered if that was a trick question. The honest answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he figured if he was going to bring his parents to date each other, he might as well stay on good terms with his father.
“Don’t be petulant. I spoke to her after lunch,” Hayden said, changing the topic.
Draco shrugged his shoulders, still flashing a bright shade of red. “So?”
“She told me she’ll help you.”
“Help me?” Draco resembled a brainless monkey that was attempting to solve a Reimann Zeta problem in which ‘squiggly’ equal ‘indecipherable’ and with these, one is supposed to gain some useful knowledge—for all math is useful. Malfoy’s face seemed to have acquired a curious expression which appeared permanent.
“Yeah, you’re very poor in Potions, aren’t you? And you have to pass your … final exams?” Hayden said, scratching his forehead. He was hit by uncertainties in regards to the correct wizarding terms.
“What?” Draco asked, perplexed. “What I have to pass are my N.E.W.T.s, which will be by the end of our seventh year, particularly my Potions N.E.W.T.! I know we still have a school year until then, but still. Merlin almighty, my goddamn parents are going to curse me to hell and dance on my grave if I won't be able to graduate.”
“Well, this may surprise you but I know someone who can solve your problem,” Hayden scoffed. “You just have to be cooperative. That’s all it takes.”
“So, based on your prior statement about Granger, I assume she’s the one to whom you refer,” Draco said. “Forget it!”
“That surprised me.”
“What surprised you?” Draco said, poking his cheeks with his tongue. He seemed to be losing his patience.
“You’re not as dim-witted as you look,” Hayden said, mocking Draco by applauding.
“You’re wasting my precious time, Malcolm,” Draco said. “I don’t really have the time for you or your childish shit, or for the stupid, frizzy Muggle-born.”
“But … she has time for you.” Hayden smiled from ear to ear.
He looked back towards the tree Hermione was sitting underneath. Ron had joined her, and Hermione had put her book away to have a little chat with him, to dedicate her attention to him. She started to giggle behind her hand and then burst out laughing when Ron made a goofy grimace. He looked like a dolt, but Hermione enjoyed the entertainment.
Draco sneered while watching them, his eyes taking on a shade of misery. “Besides, I’m not poor in Potions; I’m just too distracted lately. I have many other things to do, things of greater import than mere schoolwork.”
Draco turned on his heel once again and walked back to the massive porches of the castle. His confidence seemed to shine through, or at least illuminate, his sickly and scanty frame. Melancholic, he clearly was, but confident. So why he was so bloody insecure whenever he saw Hermione and Ron together, was a mystery of its own.
“Malfoy, she said she’ll expect you tonight at eight in the library,” Hayden called behind him, making sure Draco heard.
When he saw Draco disappear inside the castle, he mumbled under his breath, “Just don’t be late, Dad. You know Mum hates tardiness.”
(A/N: Thanks to my amazing beta, Unwritten Curse.) ^_^
Chapter 8: Involuntary Memory
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Beautiful chapter image by Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters and places you recognise. The storyline is mine, though.
06/03/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden let his grey eyes wander over the austere gargoyles resting above the castle porches into which Draco had disappeared. The mild September breeze surrounded him, enveloping his growing panic and worry about the intricate circumstance into which he, himself had woven as neatly as the lace veil his father had lifted from his mother’s face at their wedding. The wind danced in his curly, short, light blond hair, causing it to fall into his eyes as he looked up the rock-lined path that led to the castle. He closed his eyes in disbelief and uttered an almost inaudible groan.
This is what happens when you act without thinking of the consequences, he sighed, rebuking himself.
Deep inside, he wished that, somehow, upon opening his eyes again, he’d be back in his own bedroom at his foster parents’ home. He wished the Time Traveller potion, which had taken him months to brew, had never worked at all, and had only grown him warts on his face…or turned him into a Lilliputian…or made sparks and bubbles come from his…or something of that sort. It felt odd, wishing for the failure of the many trials before.
He wished he could spend one day with Naomi again, just one, and let her know all about him being a wizard. Would Naomi admit to him that she was a witch? What if the private school Naomi had supposedly visited was in fact Hogwarts?
The memory of her battered his heart. Hayden opened his eyes and looked up at the blue sky. It was a hopeful cerulean, a daytime colour; the sun was at that wonderful point where it looks as if resting from a climb and preparing for the downward trek. It smiled at him brightly, warming his face.
On days like this, he used to hang around with Naomi on a basketball court in the park a few blocks away from Naomi’s place. Absentmindedly, Hayden’s hand moved to the round pendant that was dangling from a silver chain around his neck. He rubbed his finger gingerly over the pendant and felt the uneven rough surface that bore the initials: N.C.
“Happy eleventh birthday, Naomi,” Hayden said, his eyes shining as he handed a tiny box that was wrapped in a colourful gift paper to his best female friend. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at the box. “I went with Nana Cissy to Diagon Alley last weekend and looked for a suitable gift for you. I wasn’t sure what to get you first,” he said and then smirked, “but I thought a combination of the hackneyed stuff that girls fancy and something that would always remind you of me would be ideal.”
Naomi looked from the box in Hayden’s hand to the famous smirk on his boyish face. “Oh, Hayden,” she said, lifting her lips. When Hayden’s words sunk in, however, her smile faltered. She said, blinking at him, “Hackneyed stuff huh? How charming of you. I thought you had almost forgotten my birthday.”
“Why would I forget if you reminded me all week about it,” Hayden said teasingly, earning a playful punch from Naomi.
Hayden spoke again, with the completely serious adolescent emotion of unease. “So… you’re leaving in a week. I’ll only see you during holidays… then?” He sighed and looked at his shoes. “It’ll be a long time until I see you again.”
“Just a couple of months,” Naomi placated, unwrapping her present. “Time’ll pass, you won’t even notice.”
“How come I can’t accompany you to the airport? Dad or Nana Cissy would surely bring me.”
“Erm…” she stammered, her hands clasping the velvet casket that came into view when she removed the gift paper. “It’s n – not possible, Hayden. I already explained to you, didn’t I?”
“There are so many private schools here in England…Are you really going to that all-girls private school in North America? Why so far?” Hayden asked. On her eyes were painted all of the doubts flooding his soul. But Naomi averted her light-hazel eyes quickly before he could read in them that she was lying to him.
Hayden drawled, “I’d like to see you leaving off at the airport. I don’t care if your prosimian foster parents don’t take pleasure in my presence.”
“Why can’t you talk like an ordinary ten-year-old?” Naomi asked, rolling her eyes.
“Stop digressing, Naomi,” Hayden snapped, jumping to his feet, his back to his best friend. “Besides, I’ll turn eleven in two months and you won’t even be here to celebrate my birthday with me. You’ll find new friends and forget me.”
“Why would I do that?” Naomi said, exasperated. She tried to grab his elbow, but Hayden didn’t turn around and just shook her hand off. He sniffed and kicked a stone angrily away; his hands were shoved in his jeans pocket. “I promise to owl… er… send you mails twice a month. We’ll keep in touch, and I will tell you about my school and stuff. Deal?”
“No,” he said grumpily. He turned slowly around to her, his face stony. “No deal… You have to promise!”
Naomi breathed a small sigh of relief. “Okay, promise.” Hayden returned a smile, his gentle silver eyes looking at her with the utmost trust.
When Naomi remembered the casket in her hand, she opened it. Her jaw half-dropped when she looked at the contents of it. “Whoa…? Where’d you get this?” Her eyes went glassy, and Hayden chuckled when he noticed her awestruck expression.
“Yeah, right. You’re a wealthy Malfoy,” she said, chuckling nervously under her breath.
The casket contained a simple, elegant white-gold bracelet. The bar links were interspersed with sparkling diamonds, featuring a slim ID tag bearing the name Naomi Corner on the centre. Naomi examined the bracelet as though she’d never seen something so wonderful in her entire life. On the back of the tag was engraved in fine letters: ‘Wo ai ni’ - H.M.
“Wo ai – what? What does that mean?” she asked, giggling at the funny words as she looked up at him. He took the bracelet from its container and strapped it around her slender wrist. It suited her cream-coloured skin perfectly; it was a bit big, but it didn’t matter.
“Your ancestry is allegedly Chinese and you can’t even understand what’s written there?” Hayden grinned, poking her forehead softly.
“You know I wasn’t raised by my real Mum,” she said, furrowing her brows at him. “Anyway, thank you.”
She rummaged through her sweater pocket. She handed Hayden something, a silver chain with a pendant dangling from the end.
“This is for you; something that would always remind you of me,” Naomi said. “Happy birthday in advance, Hayden.”
Seven years. It had been seven years since Naomi had given him that silver chain on his eleventh birthday; seven long years Naomi had lied to him, hiding the truth that all along she’d been going to Hogwarts instead of the all-girls private school in North America; seven beautiful years in which he had kept her gift, in which he had believed her, in which he had loved her.
He winced. She was the only person he’d trusted entirely, and yet she’d broken his trust by lying to his face.
He dropped his head and kicked a stone away angrily, startling as a hand was carefully placed on his shoulder. He turned around to face the intruder of his thoughts.
He looked down at his mother’s teenaged version and was suddenly reminded of his mission.
“Hey, H – Hermione,” Hayden said, scratching his neck. “Yeah, sure, I’m fine.”
“Oh, c’mon, Malcolm,” Ron’s voice came from behind Hayden as he pounded him on the shoulder, “looks like some girl did it to you, eh? Heart broken, maybe?”
“Ron, stop being such a nosy git,” Ginny said, who came into view, carrying her broom. Harry was carrying his own broom in one hand and in his other hand was the ball that looked like an enlarged leather handball, with which they’d played this odd game earlier.
“Catch!” Harry said, throwing the ball towards Hayden. Hayden, out of reflex, blocked the ball with his hands. Ron picked it up from the ground, laughing.
“Bloody Merlin, you can’t even catch a Quaffle?” Ron laughed, throwing the ‘Qua-full’ at Hayden again. He wondered how he knew the word… but even this time his motor coordination failed as the Quaffle slipped from his hands. He let out another groan. Harry tried to stifle a laugh while Ginny threw him a warning look.
Hermione picked up the Quaffle and pressed it against Ron’s stomach harshly. “Stop it, Ronald.”
“What? I was just playing,” Ron said, sniggering.
“I was not prepared,” Hayden said in defence, narrowing his eyes at Ron. “By the way, Hermione, can we talk? You know, regarding that issue we talked about after lunch.”
Hermione looked at him, heaved a deep breath and then said, “Okay,” she turned to her friends, “would you guys excuse us for a minute?”
“What are you going to talk about?” Ron asked, resting his arm in friendly way around Hermione’s shoulder. He looked from Hayden to Hermione, who raised a brow at him; neither of them answered. “Fine! Then don’t tell me.”
“See you in the common room, then, Hermione,” Ginny said, dragging her brother away behind her.
When Harry, Ginny and Ron were at a far enough distance, Hayden turned to Hermione. “Have you decided yet?”
“I don’t know yet,” Hermione said, shaking her head and then staring back at Hayden. “Tell me something, Hayden, why do you care so much about Malfoy? Like he’s someone special.”
Hayden made a repulsed face, his nose cringing. “You make it sound like I’m someone with-er-homosexual tendencies.”
“I didn’t mean that,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “Why are you so concerned about him? Does it mean you’re bestestest friends with that prat? When you protected me and Ginny from Malfoy the other day…was that just a ploy?”
“Oh, c’mon! You have to start singing a new song,” Hayden sighed dramatically. “We already discussed that, right?”
Hermione looked at him expressionlessly. She tucked a curl behind her ear and grumpled something under her breath.
“Okay,” Hayden said, after a moment of silence, “I won’t push you to do something you don’t want to. And I know you can’t stand him.”
“It’s not about what I want,” Hermione said, struggling with her words. She looked away from Hayden, staring into the distance. “And it’s not because I can’t stand him; I loathe him! It’s about … I don’t know if I can be alone with him for more than a few minutes without killing him.”
“Believe me, I know that feeling,” Hayden chuckled. “Poor Malfoy, though. I heard he got a Troll for his spoiled potion, he’ll definitely not pass his um … Potions N.E.W.T. next year. Luckily, it wasn’t my cauldron you blew off, huh?” He tried to kid with Hermione, but her expression turned blank.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this!” Hermione said, flabbergasted. “You’re using guilt to persuade me?”
“I’m definitely not guilt-tripping you,” Hayden exclaimed. He was displaying the fake innocence which, picked the hearts of his parents so well and so often. He remembered it working—like a charm, as the muggle phrase went—when he had broken valuable objects in the manor. “I just overheard some Slytherins saying that Malfoy was the only one who failed that test. He’d never received a Troll before and even his mates Goyle and Crabbe got a much higher grade than their master.” He watched Hermione’s facial expression filling with sudden compassion.
“Alright, fine! I’ll do it.”
“Great! I knew you’d do it!” he beamed.
“Just one condition,” Hermione cut him off, “you have to be there, too. You’ll not leave me alone with that insufferable prat.”
Hayden met Hermione at eight pm in front of the library entrance. A brown leather-bound book was pressed against her chest; some pieces of parchments sticking between the pages. A stray line of wariness seemed to mar her features, but she came to their meeting place. It was a wonder she came at all, due to her lack of motivation.
“Ready?” Hayden asked, ushering Hermione through the door. She gave a small groan and walked in with feigned enthusiasm.
“Sure,” Hermione said, idly lifting a corner of her lip. “I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to tutor the most arrogant snot I have ever had the misfortune to meet.”
Hayden sighed; it’s not that he was unaccustomed to the negative opinions his parents expressed about each other behind the other’s back. “Hermione,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder, “always remember: ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’.”
They marched through the centre aisle of the immense library of Hogwarts. To the left and right of them were a few students sitting in small groups around the tables, occupied with their personal business. They walked up toward the end of the aisle, and entered a rectangle that was bordered on three sides by shelves crammed full of musty, moth-eaten books that surely needed to be repaired so their lost wisdom could be regained.
And Draco was there. He was sitting at a table with his book open in front of him, flipping through the pages and looking at some interesting pictures. This gave the impression that he was busy with reading.
Honestly, as Hayden thought about Hermione, he hadn’t expected Draco to come either, not after the nerve-racking show Hayden presented to him during dinner. It was just for the sake of persuading him to meet Hermione for the supposed tutorial in the library … for Draco’s own good.
“Oh, Malfoy, so early, huh?” Hayden said, causing Draco to startle. He greeted both of them with a well-trained scowl, and raised an eyebrow in an aristocratic manner. Hayden pushed Hermione gently forward, and declaimed, “Draco Malfoy, I, Hayden Malcolm, want you to meet Hermione Granger. Her-”
“Stop that,” Hermione hissed, elbowing Hayden in the side.
Draco slammed his book shut and watched Hermione taking a seat in front of him. He locked his upper body upright; he folded his hands together as if he were going to interview Hermione. Hermione, in turn, put her book on the table and straightened her skirt before sitting down. She didn’t avert her eyes from Draco’s cold ones; showing intimidation wasn’t an option for her. Hayden had to suppress a grin at their stiffness towards one another; his instincts told him that this was the calm before the storm. He leaned his back against the bookshelf behind him, watching the pubescent versions of his parents shooting daggers at each other. He gave them a minute, at the most, before they would be at each other’s throats. He almost pulled out a stopwatch, but thought better of it, thinking it would be crass.
“Malfoy,” Hermione purred. “Would you like us to start with the theories from last week’s lesson? Or do you have another topic with which you’d like to begin?”
Draco kept his cold glare on Hermione, a small smirk forming on his lips; he didn’t think he needed to answer.
Hermione finally managed to take her eyes from his. Her frustration was clearly showing through just by the way she opened her Advanced Potion Making book and flipped through the pages with obvious harshness. “Fine,” Hermione mumbled with a dramatic sigh, “you don’t have to talk. We’ll start on page 233: ‘Garamond's theory of permanent extra sensory perception is a rare side effect of the Seer potion when used on young children’. Perception is a task far more complex than was imagined in the 1950s and 1960s, when Garamond proclaimed that –“
Draco made a snoring sound, consequently earning a glare from Hermione. “Granger,” he said, “First of all, I am not illiterate. Or, if you have not been given the goodness to know what that means: I know how to read. Thank you. And secondly, my pride is already under siege from having to receive tutorial lessons from Pot-shot and Measleface’s brain carrier. So…spare me some dignity.”
“Fine! You know what? I don’t need to do this!” Hermione said, slamming her book shut and crossing her arms over her chest. “I offered you my help, and you thank me by insulting my friends and –”
“I suppose I really should be grateful then,” Draco spat, cutting her off. His voice was calm but inside he was almost certainly raging. Hayden could see the fine muscles of Draco’s jaw line clenching, his grey eyes burning towards Hermione. “Really sorry, Granger, for my lack of appreciation. Let’s just proceed to page 245, shall we?” he slammed opened his book, “Topic: ‘Apologising to Draco Malfoy. Subtopic Being a Destructive..." He trailed off with such implied hatred that she was silent as he finished with his question: "Shall we start with the ingredients or do you want to read me the theory first?”
Hermione blinked at him in confusion, it took her a few seconds before she understood; her face blanching. “I am not destructive,” she said, furrowing her brows.
Hayden stepped from the background and tried to calm the both of them down; apparently, his plan was getting out of control. But what did he expect? Take two people together who’d hated each other from the very beginning, and expect them not to kill each other when put in one box? They hadn’t even reached one minute and they were already fighting.
“What do I need apologising for? For spoiling your grade on a potion that would have received a poor grade anyway since you didn’t use the correct ingredients?” Hermione hissed in one breath through clenched teeth. Hayden suddenly wondered how she’d known that Draco didn’t use the correct ingredients. “You weren’t so purely innocent either. That was the very first time I sought revenge in that way, just to even out the many times you annoyed, humiliated and physically hurt me in public!” she added.
Draco jumped to his feet so quickly that his chair fell back, causing a loud echoing clunk to resound throughout the library. He slammed his hands on the table and said in clear tones, “I have never hurt you physically, Granger! You’re the one attacking, slapping me, and blowing off my things…”
Hayden wanted to intervene, but an inner force held him back as Draco’s and Hermione’s voices became distant in his ears. A shiver ran down his spine, and suddenly he felt fear overcoming him. The entire library dissolved into darkness, leaving only two figures that transitioned into their respective older versions that Hayden was familiar with. Everything was in slow motion as Hayden relived once again the unbearable pain of watching his parents fighting in front of their son. The last time he had seen this scene was on the fateful night that his mother had died in that unavoidable accident. She had stormed out of their house and into the street, where she had been hit by a Muggle car.
Hayden was snatched back from the vortex of his darkest memory only to hear Hermione shouting back at the bloke she couldn’t bear spending a minute in a room with, yet was destined to become her husband. She rose to her feet, her lips curled in anger. “It’s because you deserve it! What do you want me to do? You’re humiliating me and calling me all sorts of names, and now you want me to bow and be grateful?”
Tears started to form in Hermione’s eyes as she added, “Just because I am a M – Mudblood, right? Just because you don’t see me as someone equal to a human being, just because you hate me so much doesn’t mean I have to let you treat me like garbage.”
“But … I don’t hate you.” The last words died away in the leaden silence. If Draco’s typically pale face hadn’t turned crimson, betraying him by his reaction to the revealing statement, no one would have guessed that it was him who had said it. Nobody was used to such a fragile voice emanating from the most arrogant and prejudiced Pureblood. He quickly averted his eyes from her flustered state.
Before Hermione could respond, a tall, black haired woman with a shrivelled face and an old-fashioned outfit stepped into view from behind one of the library shelves.
“What is going on here?” she growled, shifting a stern look from Hermione to Draco, “Mr. Malfoy,” she growled, narrowing her eyelids to little slits. Both Draco and Hayden automatically faced her. Hayden quickly realised that the nasty bat hadn’t meant him, and he looked over to Draco, who didn’t flinch but disrespectfully frowned back at her. “And Ms. Granger, your voices were resounding through the entire library. Please have some respect for the other students or get out!” She re-arranged the glasses on her nose and gave everyone a last warning glare. “Is that clear?”
“Yes, we’re sorry, Madam Pince,” Hermione said.
Draco grabbed his book and walked past the librarian, mumbling some excuse before disappearing behind the tall lady. Before Hayden knew what was happening, Hermione grabbed her potions book and practically ran down the aisle after Draco. A siren sounded in Hayden’s head; he didn’t want his not-yet-parents to kill each other before they had had the opportunity to establish the deep and undying love in their oh-so-perfect relationship.
He sprinted right after Hermione, with Madam Pince yelling something unclear after him. He reached the exit and found Hermione and Draco a floor beneath him, standing a safe distance from one another. They had obviously decided to continue their argument in the hallways, which gave the echoes of their voices a more vibrant resonance.
Hayden shook his head in disbelief. At least they aren’t pointing wands at each other.
“Stop acting so immature, Malfoy, and tell me why you’re being so spiteful to me,” Hermione said, pressing her book tightly against her chest. “And now you lie to my face, saying that you don’t hate me at all?”
“You don't have to believe it!” Draco huffed. “Believe what you want to believe, Granger. I know what you and your freckled buddy and Scarface think of me. But guess what? I don’t care!”
“Cripes, I didn’t believe it was possible to have such a senseless argument with someone other than with Ron!” Hermione exclaimed with exaggeration.
“Don’t you dare compare me to that moron!” Draco snarled. Hermione was taken aback by the harshness of his voice, and the infuriated way he insulted Ron.
“Okay,” Hermione said quietly, though her voice grew shrill as she added, “just next time, Malfoy, if you continue to annoy me, don’t expect an apology if I blow your stuff up, and then sulk like a cry-baby.”
Draco, confused, blinked at her. It was like he couldn't held it anymore, to held back what he was feeling, his anger, his sorrows, so the words just rushed out of his mouth. “Have you ever thought that this whole thing is not just about the issue from our last Potions class?” Draco said, his voice breaking. “Have you ever thought that the reason why we both can’t get along is not because of hating or loathing each other… but because of…”
“Because of what?” Hermione asked tentatively.
“…because of misunderstandings?” he completed, staring directly at her.
Draco, for the first time ever, managed to strike Hermione Granger speechless. She looked him in the eyes, breathing heavily.
“You don’t know what bloody damn situation I’ve gotten myself in. You don’t know how it feels like to have everyone looking at you, watching you as if they’re all waiting for you to fail,” Draco said, his voice unexpectedly filled with sadness. “I’ve been raised to certain standards, and failure is absolutely unthinkable! Whether in my studies or in my … assignments…” Draco dropped his head, and pressed his eyes close together.
And as the girl Hayden knew Hermione to be, she spoke softly, full of sincerity and compassion, to her most hated enemy. “What is it that I can do for you then?”
Draco looked up at her slowly, his eyes glassy. He finally let down his defences. He didn’t blink, his nostrils flaring, his expression full of anger … anger at himself for showing weakness.
“Help,” he whispered, “I – I need you to help me.”
(A/N: Thanks to Unwritten_Curse for beta-reading this chapter.)
Chapter 9: Hayden's Boggart
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Amazing chapter image by the talented Caren at TDA.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters and places you recognise. The storyline is mine.
EDITED BY FALLSTAR 06/18/08
“Help, I need you to help me.”
Draco dropped his head to the ground and started shaking all over, his fists balled tightly by his sides. It seemed like he was about to faint right there in front of Hermione. Inhaling deeply a few times, he startled when Hermione suddenly stood only inches in front of him. She put carefully a hand on his arm, and Draco flinched away under her touch, his forehead forming a layer of cold sweat, face shaking with shock.
“Malfoy,” Hermione said softly, her voice just barely rising above a whisper.
Hayden moved down from the spot he had been standing—since, perhaps a few minutes ago—to sneak up on his parents to listen to their conversation.
“Do you need help? Should I bring you to the Hospital Wing? Aren't you feeling well?”
Draco looked away from her, his eyes distant and unfocused. He shrugged off Hermione's hand and made a defensive step backward.
Before turning around, he muttered, “You're not safe here.” And then Draco ambled away, disappearing down the hallway.
“You should go and talk to him,” Hayden said.
Hermione didn't turn around, giving the momentary impression that she hadn't heard. This was dispelled when she pressed her potions book against her chest, looking worriedly towards down the direction Draco had just walked. “He needs you, Hermione.”
Hermione looked at him, her face blank. It then changed to a rather questioning look as though only now she realised that Hayden was standing right behind her and talking to her. She asked, “What did he mean by telling me, ‘You’re not safe here.’”
Hayden looked at her and smiled sadly, but words seemed to fail him.
Hayden had not slept well the previous night because he had thought about his parents and realised that his plan was taking too long. What could he expect after a week in Hogwarts? If patience was a virtue, then he was… Consoling himself that at least the 'relationship' of the two stubborn teenagers made some—albeit little—progress, he didn't slip yet into hopelessness and give up on everything.
What if he’d stayed in this era until his conception and watch nine months later how he was born? What about the strange situation in which he saw himself the one asked to baby-sit himself? Wouldn’t that be awkward? What about babysitting while watching Draco and Hermione sent jinxes at each other and called each other names? And would he be able to endure once again the horrible pain of losing his mother at the age of eight years?
All because he had failed his mission.
Despite the ridiculousness of baby-sitting himself, the theory of time travelling was rather complex, which meant that it was not possible to exist twice in the same era. So either, Hayden would vanish once his baby self was conceived, or his baby self wouldn't exist because he was still in this era, hence, Hayden would not exist in the future. And so he would never have come. And so he would be born to parents who still hated each other—even if he brought them to True Love.
He recalled again his plan for the day, Draco had detention after Defence Against the Dark Arts class for skipping classes several times this week…and for being caught sleeping in class. Hayden thought of giving Draco a visit and maybe talking to him to figure some things out. But also to tease him for whining like a sissy and making that melodramatic show in front of Hermione the other night. ‘Though of course, it wasn't a show. Draco was sincere, so why did he need Hermione’s help?’
Hayden walked into the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom in which Draco was serving his detention and found a sponge and a cloth flopped on the floor, a bucket of water standing limp, and Draco Malfoy sound asleep. Soundless, peaceful and even were his breaths; his lips were half parted; murmurs and mumblings fell from his mouth. He smiled the smile of a soul at peace: the greatest gift of Death’s sweet sister, Sleep.
“Lazy dolt,” Hayden snorted. He looked around the room. It was immense and disorganised, filled with stuff like some antique looking books stacked in one shelf, old broomsticks lying around the room, one was even vibrating slightly, flasks and cauldrons filled with liquids in different colours, old-fashioned bookshelves, seats, tables, some wooden, broken sticks, winged keys flying in a cage, and other objects Hayden could not identify.
He walked towards a wardrobe that caught his attention. It was shaking slightly, as though somebody was locked inside, trying to get out. Hayden moved closer to examine the wardrobe door. It was locked. He knocked on it, put his ear on the wood, and then he startled when the wardrobe door burst open. Tripping backwards, he landed on his bum, as his vision slightly darkened and two figures walked out of the cabinet door…
The figures’ faces were laden with burden, filled with years of long sorrow and misery. Hayden gasped when he realised who they were. The man was tall and massively built, with receding light blond hair; the woman to his side had brownish bushy hair cascading down her shoulders. The two figures started to argue all of a sudden, their mouths weren't moving, but Hayden could hear in his head clearly, all too clearly, what they were yelling at each other. It felt so real. The pain from the past was suddenly returning.
“I never lied to you!” The woman cried, wiping away the tears in her eyes. “Stop acting like a worthless harrumph. Why can’t you just trust me?”
“Why can’t you just admit it?” The man retorted, grasping the woman's upper arms and shaking her violently. “Tell me the truth; you miss him, don't you? Look at me!”
Hayden knew, and suddenly remembered, the very argument on that fateful night upon which his mother died. He found himself suddenly in the middle of a scene which he once, as a little child, only heard the fight from the door crack of the living room. And he was terrified.
“Yes, I do miss him,” she seethed angrily through her teeth, her irritation growing, and the adult Draco dropped her like burning coal. “Is it that what you wanted to hear? Tell me,” she spat, her eyes flickering with fire. “What do you want to hear, Draco? That I’ve never loved you? That the reason why I agreed to marry you was because of our son? Tell me, what do you want to hear?”
Hayden watched his father’s face. Like coals that burn, his father's rage glowed. Like coals turned to dust, his father’s fury turned cold. He seemed to be holding his breath. His lips started to curl in wrath. He looked liked he was about to slap his wife across her face. Knowing that it would actually not happen, Hayden remained glued on his spot, his heart pumping faster with every breath he took…
Draco’s massive state made a threatening step towards his wife, intimidating her with his full height, he growled, “And do you think that I have ever loved you? You're just some slag I bedded in a school party. Miss hard-to-get Hermione Granger, I needed the challenge.”
Before either one knew what was happening, Hermione slapped Draco across his face. Hard.
She pulled her hand back to her side, shaking. “I've always known that you were only pretending, Draco!” Hermione sobbed. “I don't even know how it came this far. I knew you never loved me! I knew it! If Ron and Harry were still alive, Hayden and I, we would have never stayed with you! Ron would've taken care of us.”
Hayden noticed his father’s entire composure tensing up, his breathing becoming rapid.
It seemed like Hermione regretted what she had just said and leaned forward to apologise, to touch Draco’s hurt and saddened face. “I’m sorry, I didn't…” she mumbled, but Draco shrugged her hand off and turned around, hiding his angry tears.
“Tell me you were lying, Draco,” Hermione pleaded, sobbing in her hands. “Tell me you love me.”
“N – No, I don’t,” he said in a tone which belied the fact that he was trying to keep his voice from trembling, “I never have.”
With the force of those strong words against her, Hermione ran out of the living room, fled the house.
Hayden closed his eyes.
He heard, in the distance, a car honking.
He heard, in the distance, a loud and familiar scream.
He heard, in the same dreadful distance, a sudden thud—a crash.
A voice called, “Riddikulus”, causing Hayden to open his eyes only to see the two figures vanishing in dark fumes in front of him. And the teenager Draco stood there, wand in hand, where a few seconds before his parents had stood.
Hayden saw Draco’s mouth moving, but his voice became distorted in his ears. Suddenly everything became dark in front of Hayden’s eyes as he collapsed on the hard floor.
Hayden opened his eyes and found himself with his back on the cold floor again. He stared up at Draco, who was bent over him, shaking him rather fiercely.
Hayden got up to sit upright, looking around him. “Dad? Mum?” he mumbled, rubbing his aching temples gingerly.
“Idiot, get up!” Draco said. “What are you doing here? Were you stalking me? Who were those people?”
“People?” Hayden asked confusedly, trying to remember what had happened.
“Your Boggart,” Draco clarified, rising to his feet. He turned around and nodded towards the wardrobe.
“Merlin, did you lose your brain?”
“Oh,” Hayden remembered the book he had read about that particular magical creature. “Yeah, Boggart. My Mum…”
“Your Mummy is your Boggart? Is she so horrifying?” Draco snickered.
“Not my Mum, but her death. Reliving the pain when she died, that – that’s my greatest fear,” Hayden pressed his eyes together, trying to regain his composure. He felt so weak, so drain inside.
“Your Mum,” Draco said, looking thoughtfully for a moment, “she looks familiar.”
“Did you hear their fight?” Hayden asked in surprise, worried that Draco might know the whole truth now.
“No, I woke up when that woman ran somewhere else and then disappeared,” Draco said, looking towards the direction where the adult version of Hermione ran to. “Why?”
“N – Nothing,” replied Hayden uneasily.
“And the man, he must be your father,” Draco pointed out, smirking. “Merlin, if he had long hair, he would look like my father. Though your Dad seemed pathetic, sorry to offend.”
Hayden raised an eye at Draco, he said, “Well, my father is pathetic!”
“Here’s your wand,” Draco said, throwing the wooden stick towards Hayden. “It fell out of your robe. You’re supposed to be bright and all, why didn’t you protect yourself with the Riddikulus spell? Or are you yet another squib?” he shook his head, disgusted. “Anyway, I used your wand to clean around here. I’m done for today.”
Draco walked out of the classroom, body confidently upright as he strode towards the door. When Hayden looked around him and back towards the Boggart wardrobe, he felt a cold shiver running down his spine. He had a vague feeling that something else was going to happen today.
Right after Hayden left the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, he headed back to the Slytherin common room. Slowly pacing through the corridors, he paused mid-tracks when he heard a soft chugging from one of the empty classrooms. He listened vigilantly into the dimly lit corridors, and indeed, a steaming and bubbling noise was to be just heard.
Walking towards the source of the noise, which led him to one of the classrooms a short distance from the staircase, Hayden stopped in his track. He peeked through the metal-grilled arched window of the wooden door once he reached the classroom with the mysterious sound.
A loud crack, and something seethed from inside like air escaping the tiny hole of a balloon, was heard from the other side of the door. Someone cursed out loud, “damn!” before running towards the door.
The door burst open, and someone ran out and crushed into Hayden. The whole incident was followed by a loud explosion emanating from the classroom. In reflex, Hayden covered his face with one arm. Splitters of wood and stones flew in all directions. A layer of dust plastered upon Hayden.
He coughed as he inhaled the dust; he started to spin suddenly with dizziness, realising it the moment that he keeled over, crashing on the floor.
“Arrgh! my head,” Hayden roared through his pain. He rubbed the back of his head, and turned to the person who lay beside him. Long, raven-black hair was sprawled around her shoulder, as she managed somehow to lift herself up on her arms. She was wearing blue goggles, which loosely dangled from her nose and a black rubber glove on her left hand that reached up barely below her elbow.
Her right hand moved to re-arrange her goggles. Removing her glove, she sat back on her ankles to rub her back, her face cringing in pain. Hayden recognised her once again.
“Cho? What on heck were you doing?” Hayden asked once he managed to sit upright. “Are you alright?”
Cho didn't look at him, still rubbing in pain the wrist on which she had fallen. “Ouch,” she moaned, disregarding Hayden's question.
“What was that? You could’ve killed someone.” Hayden looked towards the remnants of the classroom door: a gaping hole was in the wall and the wooden door, which had shredded, had scattered all over the ground.
Descending footsteps were heard from the upper stairs. The Ravenclaw beauty panicked and quickly got to her feet. She grabbed Hayden harshly on the wrist and tugged him behind her, dragging him around the next corner to a secluded area, running as fast as they could. She hobbled on one foot slightly.
They stopped at some place which Hayden had never seen before. Of course he hadn't. He had certainly not had the time yet to explore the entire school. Being busy with his mission took all of his time and attention. To explore the school, he would have had to have come when he was eleven.
Hayden panted—breathless—and looked up towards the Asian Beauty, Cho, who also was breathing heavily. She leaned with her back against the wall, her blue goggles still covering her eyes. She was wearing a long soot-smeared apron over her uniform skirt and now greyish blouse.
“Are you hurt?” Hayden asked, still concerned.
“No!” she spat, taking Hayden aback. He didn't know why on earth she had such a temper. After all, it was her fault. She could’ve hurt someone. Cho removed the goggles from her nose to wipe some tears from her eyes.
“What’s the matter?” Hayden moved closer. To see if she had any injuries, he tilted her head up softly with his finger. Cho closed her eyes in reflex, and more tears ran down her cheeks.
“It’s your fault, Hayden,” she whispered, opening her eyes again, looking sadly.
“Excuse me?” he asked, a bit confused.
Cho looked up, staring Hayden directly in his grey eyes. “You ruined it. We are stuck. Don’t you get it, Hayden?,” the Ravenclaw sobbed, wiping yet again another tear from her hazel eyes. “We are stuck here.”
And then from Cho’s wrist flicked something that caught Hayden's attention while she was wiping her eyes dry. A bracelet. He grabbed her wrist gently so as to examine the bracelet, especially the name tag with the engraving. Thinking his heart had just skipped a beat, he turned to face her again.
“Where’d you get this?” he asked, unconsciously holding his breath.
She bit her lower lip, new tears falling from the corners of her eyes, and she pulled her arm back again. In that moment, as if a cold shiver ran down his spine, Hayden backed away from her—stumbling backwards when he finally recognised those hazel eyes.
The moment he found his voice, he exclaimed, “W—What are you doing here, Naomi?”
(A/N: Thank you, Unwritten_Curse, for beta-reading the chapter! :) Reviews are gladly appreciated. :)
Chapter 10: Naomi's Plan
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Terrific chapter image by the talented Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: Everything you recognise from the Potterworld is property of JK. Rowling. The storyline is mine.
(A/N: This chapter has been grammar checked and edited by Fallstar, but I couldn't resist adding and changing some bits. So if you find anything awkward, it's me to be blamed.) ^_^
The girl standing in front of him was, indeed, Naomi Corner. Her hazel eyes, filled with resentment and sadness, returned the grey of Hayden’s. How had Hayden not known and recognised his childhood best friend?
Her voice! How come he had not been able to hear Naomi’s soft and determined voice that had always accompanied Hayden since childhood?
Her temperament! How come he had not noticed that this Cho was rather more snappy and bossy than the original Cho, that withdrawn and demure mouse?
Though Naomi had disguised herself as her mother, those little characteristics should have been…well…obvious. She just walked and talked in a very different manner. She exuded self-confidence and determination, which her mother did not have. Her mother was charming in her own unique way, amiable to people with whom she was acquainted; Naomi was a little anti-social: she hated befriending other people who couldn’t handle or accept her attitude. Hayden, from having grown up with her, was, he felt, used to Naomi, and, he thought, her personality. It was the way she shielded her heart from getting close with other people, to maintain a certain distance, maybe of fear to get hurt.
“I broke it,” Naomi whispered, snapping Hayden back to the present situation. He looked confusedly at her, wondering what she meant. She added, as though reading his mind, “The potion. The potion that is necessary for us to get back home.”
Naomi stared dejectedly at her soot-smeared hands, as though imagining holding a potion glass in them. “It slipped,” she said, and then she looked up with tears in her eyes at Hayden, looking like a little girl whose balloon slipped through her fingers and flew in the sky. “It’ll take six months to brew it, provided that we find all ingredients: Powdered Erumpet Horn, Aramdillo Bile, Fairy dust—the only potion that facilitates Asportation—broken,” she trailed off, her eyes glassy.
Hayden moved closer to her, and tried to hold her in his arms, but Naomi backed away.
“It’s your fault, Hayden,” Naomi said, her voice trembling.
“Why is it my fault?” Hayden asked, his compassion for his best friend crashing. After all, he hated being blamed for something with which he had nothing to do. His anger was rising as he remembered how much she actually had hurt him, that she had been lying to him since they had known each other. “Neither did I ask you to follow me, nor did I ask you to brew that potion for us. There was no need for you to concern you with this whatsoever.”
Her lips started quivering and she froze.
“You do stuff behind my back; you’ve been sneaking around to spy on me,” Hayden breathed too calmly to be anything but venomous. Whence this sudden anger emanated, he did not know. Had he not just wished to see Naomi again, to hold her one last time, to tell her about his true feelings for her? But then…Why? Why was he feeling so outraged? Why was he feeling so outraged that his blood boiled, that his hands trembled in fury when staring at Naomi?
“You lied to me,” he said simply, not taking his eyes away from hers.
Hayden knew something else was there inside of him. It was not only because of her having lied to him, having risked her life just to follow him.
He remembered their childhood.
He remembered Naomi’s foster mother.
He remembered hearing the screams and cries of a little girl being spanked.
He remembered the feeling of her tear-soaked cheeks pressed against his.
He remembered small arms wrapped around his neck, a soft-vulnerable voice whispering in his ear.
He remembered what she said: “She said I’m dangerous, Hayden, that I’m hurting other people.”
“Why did you never tell me?” Hayden asked into the silence, his voice surprisingly composed, tension gone from his hands. He suddenly realised that he had not been mad at Naomi, but about himself for having been so clueless about her—his best friend. The best friend he had known almost his entire life, yet was a complete stranger to him.
“It was for my own protection,” Naomi replied, wiping away a tear from her eyes. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you.”
“Why?” asked Hayden, confusion drawing his face.
“I—I can’t tell you,” Naomi said silently that Hayden had to lean closer to hear her.
“You don’t trust me, do you?”
“It’s not that, but—“
Hayden backed away from her. “Y—your whole life, you’ve been lying to me. You hid your real identity from me, you never trusted me—”
Naomi tried to reach out for him, but Hayden made another defensive step backwards.
“Hayden, please,” Naomi begged, as new tears filled her eyes.
He looked at the ground, as though hoping to find the answer there, until it hit him as forcefully as the recent explosion. “You knew I was a wizard, didn’t you?” he asked and stared back at her, his lips curled. “Still you didn’t say anything; still you kept on lying to me. After all those years—why?”
Naomi hesitated before she nodded. “Yes, I knew you were a wizard. I couldn’t tell you about me, Hayden, I didn’t want to risk your life and those of your parents’.”
“What does that have anything to do with my parents?” Hayden snapped, “How can I ever believe you again? Tell me, you’ve been lying to me your entire life and now you expect me to believe you?”
“I can tell you the whole truth now, Hayden, but please stop shouting.” Naomi, looking worriedly down the corridor, said, running a hand through her hair. “Let’s go somewhere else, we’re not safe here. Peeves might be eavesdropping us, and he can get really nasty.”
“Peeves is the school poltergeist,” Naomi replied certainly, lifting a corner of her lips slightly, but Hayden remained frowning.
“So, you’ve been to Hogwarts,” Hayden said after a moment when he slowly started to understand. “Why does that even surprise me?” he commented ironically. “It’s not that you’ve never lied to me…”
Naomi grabbed his hand and pulled him away to a direction further down the torch lit hallway. Her hand felt soft and warm; she was real. He missed her; he recognised it. It was merely his sudden anger about her engulfing lies which precluded him from clear thinking. Despite his confusion and hurt, he knew the true happiness that she was here with him.
He pulled on her arm to make her slow down her pace. She looked back at him, he smiled, and Hayden felt that she knew he wasn’t mad at her anymore.
He reached out a hand forward and traced her face, as though reassuring that she was real, that she really existed in this whole chaos he had caused. That everything was going to be alright with her by his side, even though his mission would fail. Instead of giving voice to these thoughts, he asked, “What house were you in?”
Naomi smiled back, and they continued to walk, hands intertwined with the other. Hayden knew he would never let go of her again. He would never leave her again.
“Do you really want to know?” Naomi asked back, shrugging. “Eleven years from now, it won’t matter anymore what house you’re in. But it still matters to some parents.”
“I’m wondering what house you would have been sorted into,” Naomi said, changing the topic quickly, “if you had gone to Hogwarts.”
“My dad would have wanted me to be in Slytherin,” Hayden told her.
“And my father had probably wished me to be in Ravenclaw,” Naomi mumbled. “But I disappointed him.”
But…I don’t hate you.
Because of misunderstandings.
I need your help.
Draco Malfoy’s distraught voice was still hollering in Hermione’s mind, making her feel this compassion for him again. Why did Malfoy not hate her? What was he talking about misunderstandings? Why did he need her help?
Her friends’ voices were only distant mumbles in Hermione’s ears. Looking around the Great Hall towards the elongated Slytherin table, she searched discreetly for Malfoy. He was picking with his fork on his food, lost in thought. Only now Hermione noticed how pale he really was; his pallor was such as is seen in a washed out chalk sketching. Although Harry had already mentioned it, only now was it truly perceptible to the naked eye.
Inhaling deeply, Hermione wondered what Malfoy must be going through right now. He had skipped classes in the last couple of weeks, had slept during class; he was receiving almost daily detention, failing his tests. That was not the ambitious and industrious Draco Malfoy Hermione had known. Also, he had lessened the power of his mockings and insultings. He might make some thought-shy comment just for the sake of good old times, but they weren’t that hurtful anymore. Malfoy was not fighting back anymore. He had changed, or rather; he had stopped being such a brute.
He was up to something that was keeping him to doing all those usual nasty things to her, something that kept him busy during the nights; hence, the swollen eye bags, his sleepiness, his exhaustion.
Lost in her thoughts, Hermione didn’t notice that Malfoy was all the time staring back at her. A small, but weak smirk on his pallid face indicated that the look was directed at Hermione. He drew his eyebrows together, an incisive expression on his face.
Hermione tried to lift the corner of her lip slightly, but Malfoy had already turned his head away to talk to the girl who sat next to him. Her face, a creamy porcelain was trimmed by long, full-bodied and fluffy hair of gold: not the straw which passes for gold, but the rich and earthy tone of old gold such as might have been buried ages ago by Pirates. She seemed to be a year or two years younger than he was. The effect, when one took all of her into account, including the way she wore her robes, was that she was a frenzy on a china shepherdess by a repentant prude.
Hermione knew that girl’s older sister, with whom she was taking some classes.
Draco nodded at the girl beside him, looking interestedly at her; his smirk had softened a bit. Hermione figured that it must be the way Draco Malfoy smiled. Who was that girl beside him, and how did she elicit a smile from him?
“I can’t,” Naomi replied without looking at Hayden, “my mum’s in the Great Hall. We can’t be seen together at the Ravenclaw table, or elsewhere. Our similarities might cause suspicion.”
“Well, they said my dad and I look similar,” Hayden pointed out after a long pause, “but no one cares. No one suspected that I’m—“
Then he remembered something, those people around him who had false memories about him, those who got suspicious about his sudden appearance, his never existed past as a Hogwarts student. “Did you do it?” he asked when turning around the next corner with her, walking upstairs to the ground floor.
“Did I do what?”
“Did you alter their memories?”
“Whose memories?” Naomi asked back in the same monotonous voice.
Hayden sighed impatiently, “I’m not in the mood for this silly game. Did you alter their memories when they were about to become mistrustful about me? What kind of spell did you use? Not even the teachers noticed me.”
“Well, I did a major modification on all the Hogwarts teachers, then followed by the students and staff,” Naomi explained. “I couldn’t modify any of the ghosts, though, since they don’t have memories at all. The same goes for the house elves. I mean not that they have no memories, but it would just take too long to cast the Fortius Memory Charm upon them all. It’s a charm that was invented—I mean, will be invented in 2001.”
After a short pause, Hayden inquired, “So it was you! You’ve been watching over me, haven’t you?” He squinted down at Naomi, who was pressing her lips together to keep them from smiling mischievously. “I sort of knew it, but hadn’t paid attention to it because I knew it couldn’t be you. Because I thought you were—not magical. A Muggle? Yeah, I thought you were a Muggle. Only just recently I found out you weren’t, when I met your biological parents.”
Naomi didn’t say anything, but merely dropped her head to watch her footsteps.
“Those two girls when I had talked to Hermione, one of them were you. And then in the library, those two first years again.” It was not a question, but a statement.
“Yes,” Naomi said tersely. She became serious all of a sudden. “I’ve seen you, Hayden.”
“I believe that was what I just established.”
“No,” Naomi said, now turning at him and stopping in her track. “I’ve seen you. You’ve been flirting with my mum.”
Hayden’s jaw almost dropped. He felt his blood shooting up, up to his head. They stopped right on the upper stairs leading to the ground floor. He touched the wall behind him for support, because somehow his knees had gone weak. “I—I didn’t,” he stammered, feeling slightly guilty.
Naomi turned her head again, down the hallway. Her voice sounded sad or annoyed, Hayden couldn’t really differentiate since it was hard to read this girl. “You’ve been gawking at her, haven’t you? Is she so gorgeous, Hayden?”
It was when Hayden finally realised that Naomi was—probably, jealous. He was not sure yet, but he had to try and tease her more. “Yes, she is,” he smirked. Naomi shrugged off his arm from her shoulder. She is jealous, he thought, his impish smirk still plastering his face. “It’s merely because her beauty is yours distilled and strained; yet I must say that in order to taste something correctly, it must be whole and gentle,” he reassured her softly.
Naomi swatted his arm playfully, that familiar confusion on her face again whenever Hayden talked so—“sophisticated” as she called and hated it. She was half-heartedly smiling back at him. He knew they were okay again. At least in the next few seconds, before Naomi said, “You have to continue that, Hayden.”
The torch lights were reflecting suggestively in Naomi’s hazel eyes, there was a different glint in them.
“You have to make my mum fall in love with you.”
Hermione turned around to look into those sky blue eyes that belonged to the lanky boy walking right behind her, a bright smile on his creamy, freckled face, who she at once recognised as Ron’s.
“Where are you going?” he asked. He looked back towards the Gryffindor table where Ginny and Harry were looking up, and back at Hermione. “You didn’t say anything.”
“Sorry,” Hermione said uneasily, squinting unnoticeably towards the Slytherin table, where Draco had a mere minute ago had sat. He had, as the many evenings before, left earlier the Great Hall. His two cronies, Crabbe and Goyle remained on their seats. There was Parkinson, who had been twirling her long black hair around her index finger, lost in a conversation with the flabby looking girl in front of her. “Could you tell the others that I’ll still get some books for research in the library before it closes? I’ll be right back. I promise.”
“Research in what?” Ron inquired. “Need company?”
“Not necessary,” Hermione answered without even looking at Ron, her eyes scanning the Great Hall, though not searching for anyone in particular. She just hated it when lying to her friends. “I’ll really get back to you guys later.”
Hermione strode away without giving Ron time to respond. Now, where could Malfoy have possibly gone to? Back to the dungeons? To his common room? He had looked quite a bit tired, so maybe he just wanted some rest. Hermione looked down the opposite direction, and started running; she re-passed the giant double doors of the Great Hall which, as closed, would not let in the sound of her hurry. When she reached the next corner, she made a sudden halt as though she had crashed against an invisible wall.
What would she ask Malfoy if she found him? She would have to ask something. He would never in this life talk to her, share with her like old friends, tell what he was up to. Hermione needed a plan. Maybe confiding in Harry and Ron, that she had suspicions regarding Malfoy, since he had asked for Hermione’s help the previous night.
Hermione walked up slowly, still deep in thought. Once again she stopped in her track, when she heard some distant voices not far away from where she was standing. The voices were coming from the staircase that led down to the dungeons. But Hermione couldn’t understand what was said. She tried to glimpse through the torch lit hallway, seeing familiar light blond hair shimmering in the dimness. That pale face, that straight and confident posture, as that tall guy leaned against the wall behind him, his arms crossed over his chest. When Hermione’s eyes slightly adapted to the light, she could not believe the vision which presented itself to her eyes.
“Malfoy?” she whispered behind a covered mouth, hiding behind the silver armour near the wall.
He was talking to someone, who Hermione was certain, was, because of the soft sound of the voice, a girl. She was slim and had long straight hair. As she turned around slightly, Hermione recognised her.
“This can’t be,” Hermione squeaked.
The girl, apparently Cho Chang, played with Malfoy’s scarf a bit, not looking up at him. He was shaking his head, as though refusing something she was asking of him. Their voices sounded soft, playful, in a way like two friends that were familiar with each other, as though they had been close—closer than simple friends, maybe—for over a long time.
Malfoy put his hands on Cho’s shoulder, and looked down at her intently. Hermione couldn’t really see if his lips had moved, but he heard him speaking. When Cho replied with a nod, he leaned his forehead against hers, and then took her into his arms in a comforting manner, almost caring.
And then finally it dawn in upon Hermione: this was definitely not Draco Malfoy.
This was Hayden.
(A/N: My thank you to Joanne K for the names of the ingredients.
The next chapter will have a little bit more Draco/Hermione.
And well, I'd appreciate if you let me know what you think. :) )
Chapter 11: In Caritate Servire
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Fabulous chapter image by teh greatest Caren at TDA
(A/N: This chapter is one of those so-called ‘filling’ chapters, which explains the surprising length of it. Yeah, more than 4000words is long for me. *rolleyesLOL* It’ll explain briefly what happened in the future after Hayden left his era; how Naomi was able to follow him; where they got the rare ingredients from. I’m telling you this so that, if you want, you can skip it and precede to the last part of the chapter. ^_^ Why? Um…because I’m worried it might bore you.
In this chapter I have hopefully answered most of your questions in your reviews. *looks uncertainly*)
Disclaimer: The places and characters you recognise belong to JK Rowling. The storyline is mine.
BETA’ed BY FALLSTAR
She was very close to his lips, yet somehow forever out of reach. As two streams will converge when still apart, her warm breath joined with his. Hayden’s stomach, deciding it was a worm, tightened to his now-racing heart, readying his body to drown in her. He blinked.
“Please, Hayden,” she pleaded softly, gently, even whisperingly. Hers were close against his, so close that one only might be able to slide a feather between her steady and his trembling lips without touching them. Her hands were flat on his chest, pressing him back against the unpleasantly cold stone wall. “You owe me.”
“I—I can’t d—do that, Naomi,” Hayden muttered, uncertain whether it was due to the chill of the atmosphere or the warmth Naomi exuded as she pressed her body against his.
“Oh but you can,” Naomi said softly, “you have to trust me. Do you trust me, Hayden?”
Hayden nodded hastily, but he couldn’t control his lips to form his answer.
As she breathed, Naomi moved her lips nibblingly towards Hayden’s ear, “We…have to kill her.”
In the moment before it hit its target, there was a flash of light of brightest green, a loud scream of inescapable doom. Then a lifeless body flopped to the ground.
Hayden awakened on soft bed sheets, his heart pounding wildly against his ribcage. His forehead and entire body dripped with sweat. He looked around him and found himself back again in familiar surroundings. He was back in the Slytherin common room.
What was that? He asked himself, closing his eyes to see again. Naomi…
His heart ached. He was afraid that he might just have dreamed about Naomi being in Hogwarts, but more importantly, he was worried when he thought about the fact that Naomi could be dangerous. He got up from his bed and grabbed his robe as he slept wearing just pyjama pants and his house shoes.
“Naomi?” he asked into the dimness, but the only responses he got were the snoring sounds of his dorm mates. If she were here in Hogwarts, he thought, what the hell should she be doing in the boys’ dormitory? He almost chuckled and blamed it on absurdity of his brain after midnight. Instead, as he ran down the stairway to the common room, Hayden nearly stumbled over the carpet as he headed for the exit hole to look for Naomi outside, in the dungeons corridor.
He tried to remember what had happened the previous evening and wondered why everything seemed to be just a figment of a dream. Tears pricked his eyes as the realisation slowly dawned upon him that Naomi didn’t exist in this era, that she didn’t follow him, that last night he had talked to her merely in an imagination fuelled by his guilty feelings from leaving her in the future, that miserable future, without telling her where he was going to go—hence, the nightmare.
She said I’m dangerous, Hayden.
Naomi’s child-like voice re-echoed through his insensible ears again, and Hayden shook off the memory of the little girl he used to comfort in his arms after her foster mother had spanked her.
Slowly, aimlessly, Hayden let himself be dragged by his feet along the ceaseless and labyrinthine corridors of the dungeon. He missed Naomi desperately. He was aware he would fail his mission; the urge to return to his time was suddenly started to overtake him.
Warm tears ran down his cheek, but he didn’t bother to wipe them away. His apathy was so intense that he would not have cared at all if anyone discovered him like a sleepwalker, pacing around the hallways, or even more accurately, like a little child crying because he was homesick.
His stomach grumbled. As he remembered that he didn’t eat dinner last night, he went to the kitchen to get some food.
The kitchen was large with many cupboards and shelves, filled with all sorts of food he had never seen before. He felt like he was in the land of milk and honey, and wanted to taste everything. There were several cupboards out of which a chilly fog streamed. Hayden assumed that they were like refrigerators or freezers, only magical.
He grabbed some pie from a platter which he assumed another missing piece would be unnoticed and shoved it greedily into his mouth.
“You should try this, too.” A voice, a familiar one, came from behind Hayden, making him almost choke on the big piece of pie. He spun around and found Naomi standing behind him, a bottle of grape juice and bagels in her hands. “I missed these house-elf bagels. These sun-dried wheat ones are just the most delicious—”
Before Naomi could finish her sentence, Hayden had jumped to his feet and kissed her on the lips. Naomi dropped the bottle and the bagels, causing a loud sound of shattering glass, which probably awakened some of the house elves. But Hayden didn’t care. To his own surprise, he even lifted Naomi from the ground, holding her tightly as he spun her, dance-like in a circle.
The only reaction Naomi made, once she was placed back on the ground, was to shove Hayden away from her.
“Ew!—Are you insane? What are you doing?” she snapped, wiping her mouth off fully with the back of her hand. She shivered, almost repulsed; Hayden had never felt so embarrassed in his life. “You can’t do that. It’s—you’re—”
“I d-didn’t mean,” Hayden stammered. Whether his stutter was caused because he had no idea what to say, or because of pure humiliation, he did not know. What he did know, was that as he tried to choke the burbling words down, he blurted, “I was just overwhelmed to see you.”
“We just saw each other a couple of hours ago,” Naomi said, waving her wand over the shards on the ground to clean up the mess. She avoided looking at Hayden.
A moment of silence passed when Hayden asked, “It’s still him, is it?” He could barely recognise his own voice, so full it was of disappointment and of shame.
“No,” Naomi said, running a finger over the corner of her left eye, as though wiping a tear away before it fell. “Teddy’s broken up with me two months ago. He ditched me when that frog princess, Victoire, kissed him and convinced him he was a prince; how he could stand near her is beyond my comprehension, seeing as her Beauty’s Help consists of a thousand powders, poison, and puppy water. But let’s not talk about it.”
“I thought you were getting along with her.”
“Yes. We did,” Naomi said, but there was a glow in her eyes and her smile hid something wicked.
Before Hayden could show any reaction, she already grabbed his hand and dragged him over the next cupboard. “Hey, do you want to try the barbeque chicken over here, it’s tasty.”
“You never answered my questions,” Hayden remarked the next day. He was sitting on a rock on the hill that had a perfect view on the Hogwarts terrain. The weather was rather warm and sunny with not a single cloud in the sky. A few students were taking a walk. Hayden had spotted Hermione and her following of four, and that slim Ravenclaw girl with the reflective eyes and the Streeler in the glass box on her lap.
The small group exchanged amused looks with each other when Luna said something. Maybe they were having yet another exasperating conversation with her. Hayden smiled at her sight, the girl nobody took seriously. Indeed, Mrs Luna Lovegood Scamander was a peculiar teenager, Hayden thought. And that peculiar girl will become the most famous witch in Hayden’s time. A powerful witch who had helped him so much that even without the ingredients she provided him, Hayden would have never been able to brew the potion for time travelling. She didn’t help him brewing it per se; she merely helped providing the rare ingredients that were required.
“You said no more lies,” Hayden reminded her, breaking the silence, not wavering his gaze from the little group under the beech tree. “Yeah, you haven’t lied to me since you promised to not lie again, but I didn’t expect you would avoid all of my questions.”
Until now, Naomi kept a safe distance from Hayden since the kiss from the last night, as though worried Hayden might have another attack on her—a kiss attack. His heart broke, ached when Naomi saw in him nothing more than just a friend, like a brother. How could he have assumed she felt more for him than that?
Letting her eyes wander over the Hogwarts ground, Naomi heaved a sigh, narrowing her eyes to narrow slits, better to see the students’ faces.
“Have you seen—do you see my mum somewhere?” she asked, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand, disregarding Hayden. “I can’t find her.”
“And—there, you do it again.”
“I did what again?”
“Bloody digress, Naomi,” Hayden snapped, straightening his body. “How did you get the ingredients for the Time Traveller Potion? I had difficulties finding them all, and without Mrs Scamander’s help, I wouldn’t have. So how did you do it? How did you get here?”
Naomi turned slowly her head to Hayden, she looked thoughtfully before she said, “Now you won’t get mad at me? No matter what I did?”
“Okay.” This caused Hayden to raise an eyebrow at her, but he was curious to know the answer. Her facial features, which were almost foreign in his opinion, hid mysteries which he wanted to delve to know. He said, “Deal.”
“No deal,” she smirked playfully, “you have to promise me.”
Hayden relaxed as the tension which had accumulated released when he smiled sincerely at her. “I promise.”
“Cross your heart?” she teased. “And swear to die?”
“Naomi,” Hayden warned, struggling to control his tone as he rose to his feet.
“I stole them,” she confessed.
The air in Hayden’s lungs froze, until her words registered, he opened his mouth to say something, but failed. He was not sure he got her right. Somewhere between caution and reproach came the words “I said be serious.”
“I am,” she said without even blinking. “I stole them from Mrs. Scamander’s house. You had some ingredients left in your bedroom, and the others I got from her.” Naomi let out a small giggle.
“Why did you do that? Why didn’t you just ask her like I did?”
“Silly, after all what we’ve done to her house and her garden, not to mention the stupid pranks we played on her when we were children?” Rolling her eyes, Naomi turned her back at Hayden again and looked over to the teenaged version of Mrs. Scamander. “I was caught, Hayden, not you. I was caught when I set that fire in her rubbish bin. I was caught when that baseball flew through her window and broke mysteriously all the glasses of her house.” She made a little pause, then continued, unperturbed. “Because you never came out of your hiding spot. It was me she always caught and suspected in all misdeeds. You know. We were there both when we sprinkled her flowerbed with concentrated brine and threw algae at her house in the nights. I couldn’t just possibly go to her house and ask for some ingredients for a potion ten years later, now could I? That is of course ignoring the fact that I didn’t want to draw suspicions that I am a witch too.”
“Well, she knew it was the both of us,” Hayden scolded, feeling sorry now that he remembered what he had done as a little boy, or rather, what Naomi made him do. “I told her and she said she knew. I also told her that we are very sorry. She forgave us, Naomi. She is a very understanding witch, a kind-hearted woman. And you just go, break into her house, and steal ingredients?”
“Yes.” Naomi shrugged either to say that no explanation would come or none was necessary. She chuckled, “Though it wasn’t much of fun without you.”
Hayden could not believe his own ears. He had always known what an impulsive and sometimes wicked little girl Naomi was as a child, although he had almost repressed this memory. It was her way to “kid” other people—and somehow she always managed to get Hayden involved in it—to do what she wanted.
Pushing away the thought that his best friend had broken into a house and stolen from the woman to whom Hayden was grateful for helping him with the potion, he formed the next question, “How did you know I would go back to this era?”
“I just knew it,” Naomi said. Hayden could see her shoulders tensing up. “I’ve noticed you’ve taken the picture of your mother from the frame, and then I saw the Hogwarts yearbook from 1996-1997—bookmarked to your parents—on your desk. That would tend to suggest the time. Then the ancient book was lying on your bed and I found notes and scribbles on the page for the Time-Traveller Potion. It took me six months to brew it, but this is time travelling, so it doesn’t matter at the end.”
“Ever thought of a career as a detective? Anyway, how the hell did you get into my room?” he asked, trying to reject the idea that Naomi might have broken into his foster parents’ house, too.
“Hannah let me in,” Naomi said. “She said you were in your bedroom—told me to call you down for lunch. I went to your place the same afternoon, you know? When I came back from Hogwarts.” Naomi furrowed her eyebrows. “Did you know they were worried sick about you?”
“Hannah and Martin … were worried about me? They were looking for me?” Hayden demurred, “We can’t be talking about the same people. Cheesy I-don’t-give-a-goddamn-batshit-about-that-boy-Martin and That-boy-is-not-my-real-son-so-why-would-I-care-Hannah are who I know. What about you?”
“I’m not sure if you’ll believe this but...“ Naomi sighed, “...Martin was blaming himself that you ran away. He said your mother would be really disappointed at him that he wasn’t able to take care of her only son, if she were still alive.”
“He didn’t say that,” Hayden said, flabbergasted.
“Why you do not believe me?” It was an accusation, which, after an instant’s pause, was followed by a scold: “You have no idea what you’ve caused in the future, Hayden; did it never occur to you to even leave me at least a message where you’d be going?”
“How could I tell you? I had no effing idea you were a witch and would understand it,” Hayden retorted, way too loudly. “Remember, you lied to me!”
“So did you,” Naomi said plainly. “Yet it is not quite correct to say that I lied, but that I withheld those parts of truth which would endanger innocent people and therefore to which you had no right.” Before he could object, and even over his open mouth, she finished, “You are of course counted among the innocent people.”
Hayden stared at her, speechless, and felt the warmth of the sunlight on his head. A few younger students bounded out of the Hogwarts porches, running down the hill, towards the lake, laughing as they came. It felt like it was a lifetime ago since he last played tag with Naomi, or wrestled in the grass or climbed up trees...
“I missed you,” Naomi said, entering his silence. “I thought when I get back home, you’ll be there.”
“I’m sorry,” Hayden said, lifting a corner of his lips. “I—I didn’t think...I thought you wouldn’t come back again.”
“I changed my mind.”
He moved closer to her. “Where did you really go, Naomi? Summer was already over, and whether you came back from Hogwarts or the all girls private school somewhere in North America, doesn’t really matter. Did anything happen?”
She looked up but said nothing. Naomi had a tendency to rub her elbow when nervous or feeling uncomfortable. “Nothing you have to worry about.”
He looked at her suspiciously and said, “Are you sure?”
“Anyway...let’s return to my question from last night, if you don’t mind? How did you know I was a wizard?” Hayden asked. “I mean, nothing ‘strange’ ever happened that would make one have a suspicion as to my having magical ability.”
“Hayden,” Naomi said, giving an exasperated huff. “You are a Malfoy. Right?
“The Malfoys are well-known in the Wizarding World.”
“Wizarding World?” Hayden repeated, as though he heard this term the first time. “How well-known? Why?”
“Haven’t you read the Daily Prophet I slipped to you the other day in the library?” Naomi rolled her eyes, exasperated, “Regarding the Death Eaters? That issue was published before their intrusion of your house on the day you and your dad fled from the Manor—when he brought you to those Muggles. The Death Eaters were eliminating traitors, such as those who betrayed the Dark Lord or those who changed sides. And the Malfoys were all Death Eaters, well, except for your grandmother.”
“What’s the meaning of this?” Hayden said. “My father was a Death Eater, emphasis on ‘was’.”
“Yes. And in this era he’s been branded already,” Naomi pointed out.
Hayden’s chest constricted and he sat down on the rock behind him again when he felt his knees give in. “But—he’s not a murderer, is he?”
“I don’t know.” Naomi shrugged as though it was a casual conversation. “But you might be able to prevent him and from murdering the headmaster. I’ve only read old Daily Prophet copies in the school library when I was in my first year. I do not know the true story. Though I know he’d never been arrested and brought to Azkaban. He was the most hunted treacherous post Voldemort Supporter. He exposed their hideout to the Order.”
“I can’t follow you,” Hayden groaned, feeling irritated. “You know, I’ve almost grown up as a Muggle. My parents never mentioned any of that stuff to me. What’s that, this Order?”
“The Order of the Phoenix, Silly,” Naomi replied impatiently, she walked a little up and down, wavering her gaze over the ground once again. “Your mum was a member of the Order, as well as Harry Potter, the boy who defeated the Dark Lord, and most of their friends were members, too.”
“So for handing over the Death Eaters’ hideout to the Order,” Hayden started again, running a hand over his face. “Dad was hunted by a rest of the post-Voldemort—Voldemort-Supporters? How did they find us? I mean, if they had known where we lived, then why hadn’t they attacked us earlier?”
“Did you receive an owl from Hogwarts?” Naomi asked. Hayden looked at her, and before he could make comment that she was digressing again, she added, “It’s a relevant question, Silly, because they may have tracked the owl. Didn’t they attack your house when you were eleven?”
“Yes, they did,” Hayden mumbled, putting his chin on his palms and his elbows on his thighs. He was staring absent-mindedly at his shoes. Everything from that night came streaming back in his inner eyes again. Flashes of lights outside—hectic movements—calling voices—walls and doors erupting open. And his father’s strong hand on his arm followed by the wrenching feeling in his stomach when they Apparated. … The retreating figure of his father.
“He left me his wand,” Hayden said in his hands. “He was absolutely unprotected. And I’ve thought of him as being some coward pig who abandoned his son. I’ve grown up comforted by that conviction.”
“At least you know now,” Naomi said.
“How long have you known about my parents?” he asked, ignoring the giant knot in his throat. “You could have told me earlier. You had—all the time—the opportunity before you ‘travelled’ back to ‘North America’ after every summer. You could’ve sent me posts to tell me about it.”
“To be honest, I only heard some rumours regarding the Malfoys when I was in my first year,” Naomi said. “Then I started my own research. First to fourth year students aren’t allowed in the restricted section of the library, so I had to sneak at nights to get there and read old copies of the Daily Prophet. And...Teddy had mentioned some facts about your family. I told him about having a Muggle friend whose surname is Malfoy. He said you are not a Muggle if you are Draco Malfoy’s son.”
It took a few excruciating seconds before her words registered. “You’ve known it for seven whole bloody years, and only now you came and told me?” Hayden exclaimed, staring at her with fiery-cold eyes.
“You were in danger, Hayden; I couldn’t risk they found your foster parents’ house, too.”
“You knew I’ve been grieving over my mum’s death, and I grew up in the false belief that my father was pathetic and abandoned me,” Hayden bellowed, rising to his feet. “And yet I find out that you’ve known the whole truth but have been withholding it from me?”
Naomi’s face turned scarlet and tears shimmered in her eyes. “I only wanted to protect you.”
“Damn that whole sodding protection,” Hayden yelled, throwing his arms in the air. “Why is everyone shielding me from all harm and protecting me like I’m some breakable object? I don’t need your protection, I can defend myself!”
“You don’t even know how to use your wand, Hayden,” Naomi answered. “How are you supposed to protect yourself?”
She walked up to him and pointed her index finger at his chest. “Let’s think of this as a wand,” she said sharply. “Now, what do you do?”
Hayden looked down, staring at her finger. He tried to grab it, but Naomi already called, “Avada Kedavra! It’s the Killing Curse, Hayden. You’re dead.”
Tears streaked down her cheeks, and she pressed her lips together and looked at her finger that was still pointed at Hayden’s chest. “Don’t you get it? It’s a matter of seconds. One wrong movement and you’re dead. I mean—you don’t even carry your wand with you.”
Hayden refrained from the urge to scan his pocket for his wand. She was absolutely right. He didn’t carry his wand with him. He left it under his pillow this morning, this morning when he thought that carrying a stick of wood was just nonsense.
He realised what she meant, so he grabbed her finger and took her small, soft and delicate hand into his and pulled her closer to kiss her forehead. He said softly against her skin, “I won’t die. I won’t leave you. I promised that to you, didn’t I?”
He felt her head nodding slightly as she sobbed against his chest.
A year to go before the battle started, thus the time was running out. Deep inside he wished to keep that promise to Naomi, but sometimes promises are just meant to be broken.
He shook his head. “Why would my father betray the remaining Death Eaters to the Order? How come he changed sides?” he asked aloud, the question was more to himself than to Naomi.
“Isn’t that a bit obvious?” asked Naomi, looking up at him, tears still glistening on her cheeks. “He did it for your mother.”
Hermione peeked over to the hill where the same tall Slytherin from last night was holding the same girl in his arms. How fast Cho fell for Hayden’s charm was amazing: only a few days ago the Ravenclaw would turn her back to him, cringing her nose in repulsion at his straightforwardness.
“He hums at night when I can’t sleep,” Luna said, interrupting Hermione’s thought. “But you have to be really quiet to hear it.
It took a moment for Hermione to realise that Luna was talking about her snail and not about Hayden. “Streelers don’t hum, Luna,” she explained. “Whatever melodies you hear at night don’t come from your pet.”
“He hums,” Luna insisted. She held the glass box near her ear and listened, closing her eyes, as though she were listening the sound of the ocean through a shell.
Harry and Ron exchanged impish looks with each other while Ginny shrugged, giving Hermione a sympathetic look.
What sense did it make to argue with Luna Lovegood? The conversation with her was getting so exasperatingly silly that Hermione had to stand up and leave her friends.
“I’ll see you later,” Hermione said, “I still have an essay to write.”
“Now?” Ron exclaimed, astounded. “Hermione, take a look at how wonderful the weather is. The sun’s shining and you want to spend your time inside writing an essay?”
“Yes,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “The due date is Wednesday, Ron. Have you even started?”
“I thought that would be the case.”
Hermione left her friends, glanced a last time up the hill where Hayden and Cho had been standing a short while ago. They were gone. When she moved back to the porches, she noticed someone tall standing there, with his back turned to Hermione. She recognised those broad shoulders, his slim profile; his right arm was entwined with his robe, the other was in his trousers pocket. He was obviously waiting for someone.
Maybe for his new girlfriend, Cho, who was now not with him anymore. Maybe she just got something from inside.
Smiling roguishly, Hermione sneaked closer to the Slytherin, and put her hands around his eyes.
“Guess who?” she asked. She had to stand on her toes to reach his eyes. His skin felt surprising warm under her hands.
He didn’t answer at first, but moved his free hand to touch hers.
“I guess it’s Granger,” he answered. That voice was definitely not Hayden’s. Hermione realised it within seconds, even before she quickly withdrew her hands. Her blood rushed to her face when the guy in front of her turned slowly around, a soft smirk on his face, her embarrassment reflected oddly in his grey eyes.
“Malfoy!” she said in a surprised voice.
1) The title (Latin) means: To serve in love
2) I don’t want people to confuse this and report my story for violating the TOS. *eek*
Hayden and Naomi are NOT related with each other. She’s not his half-sister, nor his future daughter.)
(A/N2: Thanks to everyone who nominated this story for best novella. I really didn’t expect it. Gosh, one of my stories?! *flabbergasted* I couldn’t even believe it when a friend mentioned that it was Dobby’s finalist in that category. *blushes* Thanks to all the reviewers, and most especially to my eHPF buddies, for the great support.)
Chapter 12: Do You Know Why?
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
Fantabulous chapter image by the humble Caren at TDA *LOL*
(A/N: First off... I wanted to thank my lovely and encouraging readers and reviewers and especially those people who have re-reviewed after the server crash.)
Why does Naomi want Hayden to seduce her mother? And what does it have to do with Dramione?
*It'll be partly answered in this chapter. :p
Does Hermione know about Draco's real feelings for her?
*No, she doesn't. And whenever her feelings for him changes slightly, Draco smashes them without knowing it.
Disclaimer: The Potter World and the characters you recognise belong to JK Rowling.
The lame insults about people wearing glasses aren't mine. It was on a joke site.
This chapter is dedicated to Labby and Girldetective85.
I want to thank my beta and gamma lilleangel and Fallstar! You are awesome!
“Sorry,” Hermione blushed and pushed away the hand Malfoy had touched against her chest. “I—I confused you with someone else.”
Malfoy glared down at her, the corner of his lips lifting; how the lips could be attractive, yet have such mockery was beyond her—though perhaps the clue was that the mockery itself was sensual... “You should wear glasses. Then you could see the faces people pull when they see you coming.”
Rolling her eyes, she tried to pass him and ignore his childish insults. What could hurt an attention addict—such as Malfoy—more than being ignored? Retorting and fighting back would only lower her to Malfoy’s level. But before she could walk away, he prodded her deliberately on her shoulder. Breathing in slowly and counting to ten, Hermione tried with all her might to keep her composure; she tried to not even look so irritated that she would rather jinx his socks off than stand calmly.
He was trying to push her buttons for some reason.
“How about glasses like Scarhead’s? Think about it,” he sneered. Shaking his head in amusement, he added, “His glasses are so thick that when he looks at a map he sees people waving back at him. Oh, my mistake—that’s not your problem; you just have your head so far above the clouds that your perfect eyes can’t reach what’s in front of you.”
Still, Hermione paid him no attention. Growing obviously annoyed, Malfoy stepped in front of her, as though demanding that she look at him.
“Granger, if have I said anything to offend you or your friends it was purely intentional,” he demurred, sarcasm a neat lace ruff on his voice.
It was not the things he did that irritated Hermione so much, but how shown with arrogance when doing them; she could not believe Hayden had asked her to treat Draco Malfoy like a friend, a friend that only needed compassion, when it was already hard enough to see him as a human being.
Hermione was still refusing to look at him; she would not let Malfoy annoy her until yet another row started; she tried to walk away and take no notice of whatever insults he would come up with: there was no reason to acknowledge his existence.
That’s when she finally realised that Hayden was right: Malfoy wanted her attention. But why? How far would Malfoy go if she took absolutely no notice of his provocations of him?
Her eyebrows furrowed, Hermione gently pushed him aside and tried to walk away.
“Are you actually seeing that bloke, Granger?” came Malfoy’s firm voice, which was half beseeching, half demanding her to stay.
She halted. She knew he desired it of her. Without turning around, she listened to the sound of his voice.
“Y-you know, that p-pathetic and whimsical bloke,” Malfoy mock-stammered, imitating...someone whom Hermione was not quite able to guess before she could practically feel his eyes burning on her back. “Who’s trying so hard to copy me, to be like me. I can’t believe everyone thinks I have resemblances with Hayden Malcolm.” She guessed that he faked the stammer to cover for an undignified hustle.
“But of course, you don’t have,” Hermione snapped, unable to remain silent any longer. “Hayden is handsome; he’s kind, and an overall nice person. I would have never thought a Slytherin could be like him, so respectful towards other people, towards—Muggle-borns.”
She attempted to walk again, but stopped because of Malfoy; his speech kept her from continuing. She hated him, but she had manners: if someone was still talking, she could not just walk away. It was already impolite that she wasn’t looking at him while speaking...but it was only Malfoy—and had he ever been polite to her?
“Why? Is courtesy one of the traits you like in a caller? I don’t see Weasley being a gentleman and polite towards you and still you fancy him.” Hermione heard him inhaling deeply, sensing he was waiting for her response.
She turned on him this time, because she wanted to see his face when she asked him the question: “It almost sounds like you’re jealous of the guys I hang around with. Are you, Malfoy?” she smirked playfully. Her smile instantly faded once she realised what she had just said and what she was doing with him.
There it was: the reaction she hadn’t expected; his usually pale cheeks suddenly filled with a tinge of crimson, his eyes widened as though he had seen a ghost.
He held his breath for a second, and then snorted, “Granger, when you sleep, you know yourself; your dreams, what are they?”
Trying to avoid her eyes, he shifted his from the floor to Hermione, not able to hold her glare for even a second. He looked like a common boy on his first date with the girl he secretly panted after, loved and fancied—so shy and timid.
“You know what? I’ve only one nerve left, and you’re treading on it,” Hermione said, trying to speak in a serious voice. She would not let Malfoy get to her. He was only acting. Apparently, he had studied his role perfectly: he appeared nervous; small beads of sweat formed on his forehead; his breathing was laboured and uneven.
He opened his mouth to say something, maybe to justify what he was really feeling. She had never seen him like this, so tense. So...high-strung?
Hermione didn’t look away from him, she whispered, feeling almost a suppliant, “What do you want from me?”
“I—” he started. He shook his head, as though he had just regained his senses. He waited a few seconds, watching her carefully, before he finally answered, “Why is it that anything I say or do must always mean something? I ask a simple question, and you’re assuming I’m jealous. Why? Do you—deep down, I mean—think I fancy you, Granger? Before you answer, remember that you are Potter’s best friend and the ugly Weasel’s girlfriend.”
Feeling slightly foolish for seeing something that could not be there, Hermione blinked at him. Her anger grew; Malfoy was right, how could she have ever assumed… Assumed, what? She didn’t let her defences down. Logic told her to just go away, continue ignoring him to avoid a fight, but something else kept her rooted to the spot.
Malfoy just stood there in front of her, staring at her with a strange attempt at a scowl. His face had returned back to its unnatural pallor once more. Neither of them spoke nor moved; nor did they even look away. Surprisingly, she didn’t feel intimidated by the intensity of his gaze; instead, this time, she was absorbed by that pool of mystery and unknown that were his silver-grey eyes. Something inside of him was screaming and it wanted help, needed her attention, and Hermione heard that voice. She wanted to reach out and touch his soul.
“Like what you see?” He was the first to break the silence, snapping her back from her ‘never-to-be-exposed-to-Draco Malfoy’ thoughts.
“I didn’t assume anything,” she replied finally. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve never listened to a thing you’ve said since the day I met you.”
He rubbed the bridge of his nose briefly, saying, “As you wish it.”
She turned on her heel again, and this time she was sure the conversation was over, until Malfoy’s voice burst forth again, like the nymph's echo.
“It was not I who asked you for help, you know.”
And Hermione, for the umpteenth time, irritated now, rounded on him. She couldn’t resist indulging her curiosity about this statement, not now that he was talking about what happened the other night when he looked vulnerable as he had never looked before; when, for the first time ever, he put aside his pride in front of her.
Malfoy looked to the side where he spotted a girl, the same young doll-faced girl with the curly blond hair he had apparently been waiting for. He nodded at her to wait. Then he turned his side to Hermione to avoid her eyes, his head turning even paler when he forced out, “I’ve hit rock-bottom by asking you, a silly and naïve M-Mudblood, for help. And yes, I lied—I lied when I said I don’t hate you. I can’t deny the truth, and I’ll never convince myself otherwise that I feel anything besides, more, or less than hatred towards you.”
Hermione was about to respond, but he didn’t give her a chance to speak. He continued in the same, low and monotonous voice, as though he had practiced this speech. “I felt exhausted, tired and you disturbed me. Let’s say you gave me the rest.” He looked at her again and stepped a bit closer; his eyes were cold and so full of… nothing. “Never have I asked for your help in Potions, keep that in mind. It was that bloke’s idea, Hayden Malcolm. I don’t need your pity and you don’t have to help me anyway! And I will never stop hating you. Stop looking at me like you understand what’s going on inside of me—” His voice slightly rose, he was angry, and he very carefully leant his face down to hers, so their noses were just inches apart. “—because you don’t bloody know me!”
Hermione felt tears welling up in her eyes. At last he had done it, made her feel worthless again, though she promised herself not let down her logic, her defence. She felt humiliated in one way, and angry in another. Why was he always trying to hurt her? What was he trying to prove? Why was he being so defensive when Hermione had never actually attacked him?
She swallowed hard; her fists balled to the sides, and she whispered, “Don’t worry, the feeling is mutual.”
The blood that had just returned to his face drained for a second time. It was as though every spiteful thing with which he had tried to hurt her was nothing compared to the force of the six words Hermione had uttered. It hit him stronger than he ever tried, and Hermione could see it in his eyes. For a moment he appeared broken, but she would not fall for it this time.
She dropped her eyes to her shoes; when she noticed that he stepped closer to her, felt his chest brushing slightly against her forehead, she looked up again.
“How much do you hate me?” he asked all of a sudden, as though this desperation was usual in the way the two of them conversed with each other while continuing their insults. His facial expression had, though only barely noticeably, softened. She heard the girl from the distance calling. He didn’t care to turn his head, for not breaking the eye contact with Hermione was more important than That Girl. His full attention was on her.
“I hate you with an all-consuming passion; and, if God allows me, I will even hate you after death—” Was she really having this kind of conversation with Malfoy? “—I hate you with such intensity that I could cast an Unforgivable at you without provocation,” she answered, hearing the loud pounding of her heart in her ears. He was the only person Hermione knew who could hold eye contact with her like that; no one else could resist her deadly glare. Strange, though, that when she tried to smile and soften her facial expression at him, he would blush or look away bashfully.
“Why?” he teased her. Obviously, he completely forgot the girl that was waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. Deep inside Hermione wished that girl would approach and interrupt them from this silly, nonsensical tête-à-tête.
“Why?” Hermione repeated, exasperated. “I hate you for having a mouth dirtier than a wicker toilet seat. You offend every human being that isn’t like ‘your high-bred kind’. I hate you for everything you represent!” She raised a brow, breathing rapidly. “Is that answer enough for you?”
He disregarded it. “Do you know why I hate you?” She blinked, morbidly eager to know. Malfoy took a deep breath, his answer well-formed, hesitating before he said ruefully:
“I hate you for what you have made of me.”
“Damn, d’you reckon Hermione will let me copy her essay?” Ron asked of the tree beneath which he sat, for there was no one in particular for him to direct his speech. He watched as Luna sitting cross-legged, with her snail’s box on her lap; she fed her snail with some yellow granules of some imagined substance. It dissolved effervescently once it hit the slimy back of the creature. He wondered if that was the way snails consumed their food.
“Ever thought of writing it by yourself?” Ginny asked, hugging her knees. “I’m wondering if you’d ever have passed all the school years without Hermione’s help.”
Harry gave a small chuckle, his eyes on the tiny glass box in Luna’s hands. He nudged Ron’s side when he was sure Ginny wasn’t looking. “If she lets you copy, I’m copying you, mate,” he whispered.
Grinning impishly back at Harry, he jumped to his feet. “Check back on you later, then?”
He ran back to the castle, trying to catch up with Hermione. He stopped right in his tracks when he saw her under the porches of the castle. She was talking to a tall blond boy.
Narrowing his eyes to thin slits, he walked a little closer to the couple to see if it really was Hermione. The familiar bushy, untamed brown hair was definitely uncommon in the school.
Ron wondered who the other guy—to his surprise, a Slytherin— was, and observed the way they stood in close proximity to one another. His robe was around his arm, and his hands shoved into the pocket of his trousers, looking down, intently, at Hermione.
There was someone calling the boy, a young blonde girl waving at him, as he talked to Hermione. Ron was even more surprised when he heard the name.
“That foppish son of a ferret! I’ll teach him to mess with Hermione again!” Ron exclaimed to himself, walking up to them. But he stopped once again, when Hermione, outraged at first, dropped her head to the ground. Malfoy stepped closer to her, almost making her look up at him. She didn’t even seem mad anymore; there was something else written in her features, an emotion that Ron couldn’t fully comprehend.
And Malfoy didn’t seem to threaten or intimidate her at all. There was something different, and Ron was frustrated he couldn’t figure it out. A knot built up in his throat as he tried to swallow.
He wondered what the bloody hell the two were talking about.
The piece of parchment transformed to a swan; it lifted up in mid-air and moved its wings. The sight of a flying Origami paper animal was hypnotic, and Hayden watched in awe.
“How do you do that?” Hayden asked, amazed, watching as the paper bird burst into flames; what spells were involved—animation-transfiguration with a time limit causing it to end in combustion, or... He shook his head, snapping back from his brief trance.
“You learn that kind of magic in Hogwarts,” Naomi answered, who was sitting cross-legged on a table. “Just remember: always carry your wand with you!” She pointed the tip of her wand towards the classroom door, but her lips didn’t move.
At first nothing happened, and Hayden shifted his eyes curiously from Naomi to the door at which she had pointed her wand. Then a stick of wood flew through the steel grille of the wooden door seconds later, flying towards Naomi. She stretched her hand out without even looking, and the stick landed just in her hand. She threw it at Hayden; it slipped through his fingers and landed on the ground with a clattering sound.
“Merlin!” she laughed, “Hayden, did no one play catch with you?”
“I was not prepared for you to throw it to me!”
He picked up his wand and swung it loosely a few times, as if practicing a movement. “My mum taught me some magic when I was a young boy,” he said reminiscently, ignoring his own embarrassment. “But without doing real magic, of course. She taught me how to move my wand,” he flourished it elaborately, “and how to pronounce the different kind of spells.”
Hayden stopped his movements and examined his wand—his Dad’s wand. “I had a toy wand, and I remember I was really upset when I couldn’t do real magic when Mum could. She explained to me that I can only use magic when I go to Hogwarts, or when I’m of age.”
Naomi was listening and smiled knowingly.
Hayden added, “When I turned seventeen.”
“Did you never regret not going to Hogwarts? I mean, do you regret not being able to be with people who are like you?”
She jumped off the table and walked down the aisle, brushing her fingers over the wooden surfaces of the others, saying, “We would have met either on the Hogwarts Express or in the Great Hall. During the Sorting, at least, you would have noticed me.”
She laughed and sat down on a nearby bench, propping her feet up on the table while trying to keep her skirt in place. “Do you think everything would have turned differently if only you had known earlier that I was a witch?”
How many times had Hayden asked himself these questions?
If he had gone to Hogwarts, then he would have met Naomi here; and maybe he could have prevented her from meeting Teddy Lupin, kept her from all the other guys she had dated in the past. He remembered the first letter Naomi sent to him that September morning; she had told him very, very, very excitedly about her new friend.
Hayden knew Naomi had difficulties befriending other girls, because she hated the whole back-chatting scene that went right along with it. Naomi rather enjoyed the company of boys, and Hayden had always been her best—her only—friend. And then he was struck down that earth-shattering day when she met that Lupin...At least she still wrote to him, Hayden comforted himself.
“No. I never regretted it,” Hayden lied, leaning against the table behind him. “You haven’t told me what house you were sorted into. Your parents were both Ravenclaws, and you said your dad wished you were in that house, but you disappointed him. Therefore, you can’t be a Ravenclaw.”
“Bright boy,” Naomi mocked, watching him work through his thought processes. “Keep on guessing, Lover-boy. What do you think?”
“I’ve read about the houses in my mum’s books. I’m not the Sorting Hat, you know, but from personal experience and how I know you, I assume, you were in…” He looked at her very intently, and she bit her lower lip, smirking mischievously.
“Let’s play a game. You have one guess left, Hayden,” she said, pulling out her wand again. “There are three houses left. So, if you get it wrong,” she paused for dramatic effect and looked up at Hayden, a wicked glint in her eyes. “—you have to ask my mum out on a date. And you have to make her to like you.”
“What? Cripes, if those are the conditions then I don’t want to know which house you were in anymore,” he said, flabbergasted. “I was just curious—a-and you make up such a cruel game again a-and w-with other people are involved.”
Hayden was thinking about Mrs. Lovegood-Scamander, into whose house Naomi had broken that she could steal the ingredients for her own Time-Travel potion. He still didn’t understand why Naomi wanted him to seduce her own mother. He hadn’t asked her yet, not after her long sermon on not carrying his wand with him, for being so careless all the time, clumsy, adding to the exciting fact that she was now with him in this era.
She disregarded his complaints. “If your guess’s correct—” She smiled naughtily and played with the tip of her long raven-black hair, making it seem longer and longer until it passed her collar, as if that were somehow provocative, “—we can lock the door and…”
He gasped before she could finish her sentence, and almost choked. He dropped his wand again, but he didn’t care to pick it up this time. Naomi burst out laughing. As it tinkled with a delightful music, and her holding her stomach was like a nun pulling the bells for evensong.
“You should have seen your face, Hayden!” she effused, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye.
“I really can’t explain to myself why you’re always doing this,” said Hayden, gesturing with his hand to express his feelings. “This—this whole thing.”
Naomi looked at him, her smile fading.
“Why do you want me to do that? Do you want me to hurt your mum on purpose? Make her fall for me so that I can ditch her afterwards as if I don’t care about her feelings?”
“Since when have you ever cared for another person’s feelings, Hayden?” Naomi asked coldly, raising an eyebrow at him.
“What exactly do you mean?”
Naomi snorted. She looked around the room, so that her eyes were averted from Hayden. “You have no idea who my mother is. I don’t want her to fall for Michael Corner. I don’t want them to get together.”
She straightened in her chair to glower at Hayden, who flinched at Naomi’s threatening posture. “You know what? Just remember, Mr. Malcolm, I was the one who protected your true identity from the people around you. Without me, you would have never found out what kind of people your parents were. Now I am asking you for a simple favour, and you’re refusing?”
“I didn’t say I won’t do it,” Hayden said calmly, gritting his teeth.
He noticed Naomi was holding her breath.
“I was just wondering why I have to do it. I mean, are you trying to eliminate yourself by destroying your parents’ relationship?” he asked, he tried to find any reaction in his best friend’s face.
“I am absolutely not trying to destroy my parents’ relationship,” she answered, leaning back in her chair again. “Tell me, Hayden, wouldn’t it be much easier for you, if, instead of fixing your parents’...broken...relationship, just to find your mother’s murderer and kill her—or him?”
“Mum wasn’t murdered. It was a car accident!” Hayden growled
“Did you ever learn the identity of the driver?”
“How does this have anything to do with me seducing your mother?” he said louder and forcefully than intended, running his hands angrily through his now-messy hair. He disliked how she could un-ruffle him, break his composure; it made him feel...
“You are digressing, as always!” He paced up and down the aisle between the tables. “I don’t want to remember what happened to my mother. Stop reminding me!”
“You want to know the truth, Hayden? Then face it! Deal with it! Why do you keep on running away from it?”
Hayden stopped walking. He looked over to Naomi; she had her arms crossed over her chest.
“What do you want to tell me?” he asked guardedly. “And what does my mum’s death have to do with your parents?”
Naomi smirked at him, but it wasn’t playful, it was daring.
And, once again, she began, “Let’s play a game, Hayden.”
(A/N: Visit my LJ (link can be found on my main account page) and check out the updates of my stories, if you want. :D
I love reviews. Let me know what you think of this chapter. ^_^)
Chapter 13: The Misunderstanding
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AMAZING chapter image by my favourite graphic artist Caren at TDA :)
(A/N: Thanks to my beta lilleangel and my gamma Fallstar! He reminded me also about the characteristics of the four houses. Thanks!
Today's December 31, 2008. Goodness! It's New Year in a couple of hours! Thank you all for reading and reviewing this story! Thanks for the great support and all the encouragement. *hugs*)
Hermione sat on the long couch in the Gryffindor common room, writing her essay. For once, she couldn’t completely concentrate on what she was writing; her mind kept on returning to the scene that had happened only a short while ago. Malfoy’s face and intense gaze was, even now, boring a hole in her mind. His voice, soft and soothing, which had sounded to her in a way it never had before, was still echoing in her ears.
I hate you for what you have made out of me, she heard him say once again. Something else was in his eyes, Hermione was certain; they had reflected everything but hatred. She remembered that old Muggle saying her mum had taught her: The eyes are the windows to the soul. Did this apply to Draco Malfoy, too? And giving credence to her suspicions was how, after saying those words to her, he had caressed her cheek very subtly with the back of his fingers, as though afraid to hurt her. Why did he do that?
Hermione hid her face in her hands, frustrated; for the first time in her life she didn’t know the answer. The greatest lesson he had ever instilled in her was the tension between pride and humility. His constant insults and mocking taught her that no matter how good she was to some, to others she was nothing but a speck of dust in the vast universe. Yet had always instilled a need to become more—to prove Draco wrong; she was a speck greater than the universe because she could think.
Draco? He’ll never be Draco to me—always Malfoy, Hermione thought, irritated at her weak minded sentimentalism.
Malfoy had walked away after that. He had not looked back as he sauntered towards the blonde, who had awaited his attentions through the row. Hermione noticed the repulsed and confused expression on the girl’s face, but Draco—no, Malfoy—didn’t seem to care what she thought about him now.
“So, you sure you know what you have to do?” she asked, without looking at Hayden’s stricken face; her body pressed close to his, while her fingers deftly unknotted his emerald and silver necktie. The last time Naomi was this close was in his dreams, which had been utterly phantastic.
“Yes,” he yipped, trying to sound calm, perhaps attempting to delude himself that Naomi’s closeness wasn’t intimidating at all. His voice still squeaked. “It’s not that I’ve never done it before.”
Once the necktie was unknotted, he watched her remove it from his neck and throw it on the washbasin behind them. Carefully, she placed her hands on his shoulders, this time looking at him with her hazel-brown eyes that reminded him of the chocolate he had loved in his childhood, when she slid back his black robe over his arms and put it on the washbasin too. Hayden felt the washbasin edge poking his bum, reminding him there was no way he could escape this situation, (not that he wanted to) and leaned back carefully to support his weight and his weakened knees. Naomi, like a magnet, closed the gap between them even more.
Hayden felt his head heating up, and it must be obvious now how cherry-red his face had grown. “Why are you blushing,” Naomi purred in a seductive voice.
“B-because you make this excruciatingly slow.” Hayden swallowed.
Her palms now pressed against his flat chest, standing on her tiptoes, yet leaning closer to his face, she said, “Thank you for doing this, Hayden.”
Then she whipped off his black vest over his head and unbuttoned his white shirt, which both landed on the puddle of clothes behind Hayden. The cold breeze in the abandoned bathroom was relieving somehow, cooling the fever he had acquired from the physical intimacy of a girl; she for whom he would sell his soul just so she would love him in return.
To mask his tenseness, he croaked, “How do you want me to do it?”
“Just like what you do with other girls."
“How do you know how I do other girls?” Hayden chuckled, earning a playful punch from Naomi, their connection instantly breaking.
“I’m talking about ‘courting’, you pervert,” she said.
“I know,” he grinned, rubbing his arm. “And why do I have to change my clothes again?”
“It’ll distract her from the fact that you’re a Slytherin,” Naomi said, matter-of-factly, handing over the long-sleeved smock that hung over her left arm.
“It compliments your pale complexion perfectly,” she said, obviously smug about her perfect choice. One corner of her lips rose and, avoiding gazing at Hayden’s chest, she added, “and, it’s my belated birthday gift to you.”
Hayden blushed and took the shirt in his hands: It was a charcoal-grey smock with cerulean epaulets, half-collar and cuffs, and, of course, cloth covered buttons to close off the cuffs and collar. The collar fell deep into the chest, and the cuffs rode deep up the forearms; the ribbon of the collar which is created by the meeting of the sea and sky would keep the dark—ever so dark—shade from washing out Hayden.
When he looked at Naomi, whose eyes were shifting from his bare stomach and chest, he furrowed a brow. “What is it?”
Feeling self-conscious, he covered his body. He was thin, yes, and his body needed a bit more of a tan, but he had no idea Naomi liked it. Blinking rapidly she said, with a tinge of crimson on her cheeks and then turning away, “I didn’t know what you were hiding underneath your clothes, Hayden.”
Hayden chuckled, “But you’ve seen me already naked, remember? When we went swimming.”
“Merlin, Hayden,” Naomi laughed. “We were seven years old. You weren’t even in puberty yet. You had pimples. And you were chubby.”
“I had big bones,” Hayden defended himself. “Besides, I was a terrible athlete. I almost failed PE in Secondary School just because I couldn’t catch or throw a ball. I was always the one that got chosen last when the captains picked their teams.” Shaking his head reminiscently, Hayden continued, “But if it came down to other subjects, surprise! They quarrelled for me. Then was I good enough.”
“You wouldn’t group up with weak people either, right?” Naomi pointed out, interrupting his self-pity speech.
“If it was my friend, then who cares if he’s good or bad at something, loyalty comes first,” Hayden declared.
“You would’ve made an ideal Hufflepuff,” Naomi said proudly, and smiled. “Why did you pick Slytherin as your disguise anyway?
“Slytherins were the first students I saw.” When a sudden breeze reminded Hayden that he was still half naked, he quickly put on his shirt. “What house were you really in, Naomi?” He tried again.
“Quit pestering me with that question!”
“I’m only curious.”
"What if I was a Slytherin,” Naomi asked hypothetically. “And if I told you I hang around with the wrong people, I did mean things to others; would you still be friends with me?”
“Not exactly new information,” Hayden sniggered.
“I’m serious,” Naomi said and rolled her eyes. “Would you trust me?”
“I told you,” Hayden reassured, placing his hands on his best friend’s shoulders as though he was talking to a small child, “loyalty is more important to me than anything else.”
Naomi tried a genuine smile, yet she couldn’t quite manage it and merely looked down on the phial she had pulled out of her pocket and a small notepad. “You remember the plan, right?” She looked at him, changing the subject.
“Were you a Slytherin, then?” Hayden insisted.
“I wish I was,” Naomi replied after a short pause, with such remorse in her voice. “I didn’t belong in Hufflepuff.”
“What do you mean, ‘you were only talking’? Ron said, flabbergasted. He had stomped inside the common room, his ears flashing red, and his face paler than Malfoy’s.
And there was Malfoy once again, Hermione thought. She wasn’t fully listening to what Ron was saying. She couldn’t concentrate on the meaning of his words.
“Yes, we were,” Hermione replied nonchalantly. “Why?”
Ron let out an audible groan. “What did he want?”
Writing the last paragraph of her essay, Hermione finally looked up at her incensed friend. “He told me how much he hated me and he asked me why I hated him. And I told him my reasons.”
“Oh, really? That just sounds ridiculous, Hermione,” Ron snorted.
“You asked me what Draco and I have talked about and I answered,” Hermione said wryly. She gathered her belongings on the table and handed Ron her essay. “Do you want to copy it?”
Ron looked from the parchment to Hermione obviously in pain over the choice of his morals or his grades, and with yet another groan from his anguished soul, he whipped the essay out of her hand. “Just because I’ve accepted it doesn’t mean we’re okay again.” He gave a small pout and skimmed the essay.
“Next time he asks you, tell him he’s a pea-brained asshole with a face like a ferret. And that’s why you hate him,” Ron mumbled, he lifted his head and looked expectantly like a puppy eying a treat. “You do hate him, don’t you?”
Her answer took too long, and Ron seemed to have noticed her hesitation. This wasn’t her at all, the one who knew the answer before the question had been asked.
Disappointed, Ron returned the essay to her. “Don’t tell me anymore,” he murmured and left the common room.
“How do I look, Ms. Corner?” Hayden asked, running a hand through his curly blond locks.
Naomi stepped beside him, looking at his reflection. She smiled, “Holdable, Mr. Malfoy.”
Scrunching his nose, he said, “Holdable? I’m not a pet, you know.”
Naomi opened the lid of the phial of Polyjuice Potion in her hand, putting red-blond hair inside.
“How many of these potions do you have? Have you brewed them in advance or what?” Hayden inquired, wondering. “Because it takes a month to brew them, but we’ve only been here for a few weeks. So how and when did you do it?”
“Hayden, unlike you, I prepared before travelling back in time,” she explained. “Except for a second Asportation Potion for returning, but that’s only because I had no time to brew another potion. It would’ve cost me another six months.”
“Can’t you use the same Potion for back and forth?”
“No, you genius. The Asportation Potion for returning requires different ingredients, and different incantations, for which I only know the theory.” Once she had put the strand of hair in the mud-like liquid, it bubbled and turned lilac-blue. “Yummy, I love drinking this. We have to hurry up before Myrtle returns from the boys’ prefect bathroom.”
“Who the heck’s Myrtle?”
“She’s the ghost inhabiting this bathroom.” Naomi’s eyes lit up as though she had remembered something. “You know what?” she said darkly. “When I was in my first year, I hid inside this bathroom and Myrtle was there. I didn’t like her very much, but then she told me something about my mum.”
“Yes,” Naomi said, “but promise me that when I tell you, you won’t freak out.”
“Myrtle said she once surprised my mum here. I didn’t believe it at first when she told me,” Naomi said. “My mum was snogging a guy that wasn’t Michael Corner.”
“Oh. But it’s likely for Cho—I mean your mum—to have had other boyfriends in her youth,” Hayden explained. “She was—is beautiful after all.”
Naomi furrowed her brows. “Well, would you say the same if you knew she and your dad were the ones making out then?”
“What?” Hayden exclaimed in disbelief. “My dad wasn’t attracted to your mum.”
“Myrtle said they were standing here.” Naomi nodded towards the spot where Hayden was leaning against the sink. “And they were kissing. She recognised both of them, because they came to this bathroom loads. According to Myrtle, Mum even stripped him once.”
“Please, spare the details.” Hayden held his stomach. “D’you reckon they had an affair?”
“I don’t even want to think about it. That rumour had spread in the entire school, according to Myrtle. My mum and your dad—it’s gross.” Tears welled in Naomi’s eyes. Hayden was certain Naomi was disappointed at her mother’s ugly reputation as a teenager.
“Come here,” Hayden said, pulling Naomi towards him. She was still clutching the phial in her hand tightly. Hayden took it and placed it carefully on the basin edge. She felt so small in his arms.
“My dad loved my mum since sixth year or even before that, though he’d never admitted it. How do you know it’s true? She’s just a bored spirit with nothing to do than making out stories of other people’s lives.” He hugged her, and spoke in her hair. “Is it the reason why you want me to keep her away from all the other guys, even from my father? That it’s safer if she likes me rather than any other bloke, because at least you have control over me?”
“Almost,” Naomi muffled against his shoulder. “Make sure she stays during Christmas.”
“Your wish is my command,” Hayden said, stroking her back. “I’ll try, though you should know I’ve never courted a girl on command, you know?”
“Thank you, Hayden,” she said, looking up at him. For a moment they were lost in each others’ eyes, comfortable in each other arms. Why did Naomi not see it even though it was written all over his face what he felt for her?
His eyes wandered down to her mouth. Before he knew it, their lips met gently.
To his surprise, Naomi kissed him back. And it all felt so wonderful, so right. He pulled her closer, as close as humanly possible, to feel more of her body. Naomi followed suit. Hayden definitely wasn’t dreaming this. It was better than his fantasies.
A soft giggle from somewhere had caused them to break apart. “What was that?” Hayden asked, scanning the room with his eyes.
“I guess Myrtle’s back.” She pulled away from Hayden, as though nothing had happened between them. She grabbed the bag on the ground again. “We should leave now.”
“Wait, the potion,” Hayden said and took it from the basin. “Ready?”
But Naomi didn’t move nor did she take the phial from his hand. She was staring at Hayden as though she was seeing a ghost—but not Myrtle. She dropped the bag on the ground, and clapped her forehead, “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” before looking up and searching for something. “Get out, Myrtle, it’s a misunderstanding!”
“What’s up with you?” Hayden asked, looking where Naomi was looking. But there was nothing.
“Hayden, it was us she saw back then!”
“What are you talking about?”
“She didn’t see your dad and my mum,” Naomi explained, as though it was all very clear to all the universe except for Hayden. “She saw us kissing. And she thought it were Cho and Draco.”
“Oh.” Was the only thing Hayden could say. His brain wasn’t fully functioning yet, because of the sensation lingering on his quivering lips. He tried to look unruffled, though. He said, “How was that possible?”
“She’ll spread this rumour around the school, Hayden; we have to stop her!”
“But it’s no big deal. It won’t cause any harm, right?”
“I should’ve known it.” Naomi disregarded him.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Hayden said after a moment. “It means we have travelled back in time before? Does that mean I can do what I want but, my parents will never live happily-ever-after? Geez, my head hurts.”
Naomi shook her head, looking apologetically at him. “I don’t know. I get a feeling your mum only didn’t show real interest in Draco Malfoy because she thought of him as a dizzardly heartbreaker, a player. Draco hangs around a lot with other girls, gives them hopes, breaks their hearts, and then ditches them.”
Hayden finished her speech. “And when Mum finds out he had been making out with Cho, she’ll never like him. One of their, my parents’, heartaches and we caused it.” Hayden looked at Naomi, thinking about the kiss again, and he could see in her eyes that she understood. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay,” Naomi said, lowering her head.
“Lets stick to the previous plan: Mission: Chasing Cho Chang,” Naomi replied. “It’s got its purpose still, you know? Hermione should see you’re fancying Cho. At least everyone knows you and Draco Malfoy are completely two individuals, and it might just become a rumour about you and my mum ... Hermione won’t believe the rumours Myrtle will spread around.”
“I have a feeling there’s something else you want to tell me,” Hayden remarked, grabbing her bag and carrying it for her.
“No, that’s it actually,” Naomi said, smiling contently, and made a check in her small notepad that looked like a to-do-list. At least her plan was taking its progress, and Hayden had no choice than to follow her like the deaf man hearing directions from the blind woman.
Deciding to have a stroll outside, Hermione brought her books and school stuff to her room, changed out of her school uniform into something more comfortable and left the common room.
She would have to talk to Ron at dinner, and clear up this whole misunderstanding. Of course she hated Malfoy, but why couldn’t she answer at once? It would have convinced Ron about her hatred for the ultimate Slytherin ketch, Malfoy.
Spending some time alone, Hermione went upstairs to the seventh floor. No one would be there now; her friends were all outside down at the lake, enjoying the wonderful and warm weather.
Hermione reached the seventh floor and headed towards the Astronomy Tower; then from the corner of her eye, she noticed someone sitting on the ground, right beside the Room of Requirement, seemingly asleep.
Moving slowly forward, Hermione realised who was sitting there. Malfoy.
Cautiously, Hermione stepped closer to the motionless body.
“Malfoy?” He was staring at the ground, one arm on his knee, the other leg stretched out. His light blond hair was dishevelled, almost resembling Harry’s usual hairdo; his black vest and robe were on the ground beside him, piled beneath his wand. The upper buttons of his white shirt were open, exposing his deathly pale chest. Were the gentle rhythms of breath absent, Hermione would have thought that he was dead.
Malfoy finally looked up, but seemed to look rather through, than at her.
“Are you okay, Malfoy?” Hermione stooped down and stared into his eyes. His right sleeve was pulled up, exposing his forearm. Automatically, Hermione’s eyes wandered to his other arm, which was suspiciously hidden underneath the long sleeve.
He leaned his head against the wall behind him as small beads of sweat ran down his face. “You actually care?” he asked, his voice coarse.
“I’ll get you to the Hospital Wing, you don’t look well,” Hermione said, not paying attention to Malfoy’s protests. She pressed her palm on his cheek, feeling his hot skin. “You have a fever.”
“I’m fine.” He didn’t shake off Hermione’s hand, nor tried to push her away, but rather, put his hand on hers, keeping it on his cheek. “Will you stay a bit, please?” he asked, “I only need some fresh air.” He nodded towards the stairs to the top of the Astronomy Tower.
Hermione hesitated at first, completely unsure of what was happening, what Malfoy was doing. She retrieved her hand quickly, but gave him a weak nod.
The Dark Mark on his forearm was burning, stinging the area of spot there. Draco rubbed the reddened area gingerly while staring at the Vanishing Cabinet in front of him. He still had so much work to do.
During the nights he would sneak out and wander to the seventh floor when everyone was asleep. He would always pass the Gryffindor Tower, scan each portrait on the wall or check the walls themselves to find the entrance of their common room, remain there for a few minutes and let the feeling wash over him that Granger was there.
Draco furrowed his brows at the thought of stalking Granger, but then relaxed again when he realised that he was all by himself and those thoughts would never to be revealed to anyone. The corner of his lips twitching slightly as he wondered when these ‘strange feelings’ in him for the Muggle-born had actually started.
All the years he had been mocking, taunting and insulting her and her little friends. She was not the only Mudblood he had bullied, but Granger was the only one who had the guts to fight back. He didn’t like the feeling that he couldn’t intimidate or scare her like he did to others.
Draco had always been the centre of attention in his family; he had become used to recognition and fame in school; he had a deep rooted need for respect of some kind—whether fear or admiration—from everyone. He was used to inferior people bowing their heads when he walked past them; he was used to silly girls who kissed the very ground he walked on; he was used to enemies cowering in his wake; he was used to friends who accepted that they were tools to be disposed of when they were no longer pleasing. Yet for some reason Hermione Granger didn’t fall in any of the above categories.
He had begun to notice things about her that he had never even wanted to before. Like when he was playing pranks on her or insulting her, her eyes would blaze angrily at him, a passion brightening them with a feeling that had previously only ever entered them when she was answering a question in class, before cursing him. Her retorts were his proof that he existed, at least in her eyes—he needed this, and this was something he learned to respect about her.
Though he hated going so far as to make her cry, but sometimes when she chose to ignore his taunts—and he was not used to being ignored—he would set a higher level of insults to break her down. This was when he would realise she had feelings for him, even if it was just anger or hatred. Pathetic.
Staring at the giant cabinet in front him, Draco thought about his parents and the Dark Lord’s threat to kill them if he failed his mission, and soon everything came back flooding into his heart again. The pressure was so high that he often wasn’t able to sleep at night. He would get out of bed and stroll around the castle, mostly ending up in the Seventh Floor, not because to fix this stupid block of wood, but because he wanted to feel Granger’s presence.
After a few hours of hanging around the Gryffindor Tower—pretending to himself that he was thinking about the magical cabinet, but was actually thinking about her, she for whom he would disgrace his name—he would go back to his common room and take some rest.
On other nights he would just go to the Owlery in the West Tower and send his mother a message, asking about her health. His friends must never find out about his sentimental moments when he felt worried sick for his family, or his secret longing for a certain Muggle-born during the nights. It would be far too degrading.
Draco left the Room of Hidden Things and dropped himself outside on the floor next to the door of the Room of Requirement, the rest of his clothes—vest and robe—thrown on the ground beside him.
Against his will, his thoughts drifted back to Granger again, lighting up his face with a smile. He hated smiling, but more so if the reason for it was Granger.
If an insult and derision would give him five seconds of her attention, even if it was just an angry retort, then how much would it take if he talked normally to her? If his smirks would only disgust her and make her turn away, then what would his smile cause? If her presence was the only thing he craved for, then why not trying to befriend her?
Feeling ridiculous at the thought, he shook his head and rested it on his angled knee. His sweat was dripping on his shirt. He felt muddled and exhausted, and only wanted some sleep.
How would he befriend Granger, anyway? He continued his ridiculous fantasy, just for the sake of amusing himself.
First, he had to stop being...nasty to her. Doable. Difficult, but doable.
He had to be proper in manner; he had to converse respectfully and be polite. This would be truly difficult; suddenly being friends with someone to whom you had been a bully for years would be difficult. She would think he wanted something or else was trying to hurt her somehow.
He had to stop scowling and frowning at her.
He had to lay down his prejudices towards her blood status.
He had to win her trust.
He had to stop telling her lies. He ticked these off his fingers.Thus, no telling her how much he hated her.
He inhaled deeply and stared down at the ground. Was he really willing to change himself completely for a girl who didn’t even seem to care about him?
He heard a soft voice calling his name, but he didn’t care who it was. When he noticed shoes stepping beside him, he finally looked up and saw the girl who had been running through his mind all the time. Granger.
He looked into her eyes. Yes, he was willing to change for her.
“Are you okay, Malfoy?” Hermione asked with a small hint of worry in her eyes, while stooping down to face him eye-to-eye.
Worry was in her voice, and Draco wondered if he had interpreted her expression correctly. “You actually care?” he whispered. His throat was dry and felt itchy.
“I’ll get you to the Hospital Wing, you don’t look well,” Hermione said. Draco mumbled some words of protest and turned his head away from her. He didn’t want her to see him like this: in his worst state, sweaty and emotionally confused and drained. He couldn’t let her know his reason; she was his reason.
He almost startled when Granger reached out her hand to press it on his gleaming cheek. Her palm felt silky and warm but also somewhat cooling against his feverish skin. He had always imagined a Muggle-born as having dry, workman’s skin. He could never have imagined it feeling like that.
What he did next startled him more than he probably had startled her: he placed his hand on hers, absorbing the warmth it exuded.
“Will you stay a bit—please? I only need some fresh air,” he asked, nodding towards the Astronomy Tower. Starting to be polite would be a good first step.
Granger stared back at him, hesitating for a moment. When she withdrew her hand, Draco tried hard to show that he didn’t miss the warmth of her hand. Who cares if she’d just go and leave? What would be different if she were to cold-heartedly refuse his favour? He didn’t expect anything from her.
But Granger didn’t do anything of the sort. With a nod she agreed to stay with him.
The sight from the Astronomy Tower was splendid, although Hermione hated to look down because of her slight fear of height. It was also one of her reasons why she would never ride a broom, not even for the highest score she could achieve in school would she put her bum on a broom.
Malfoy stepped from behind her, leaning his back on the railing. He let the rays of the sun shine on his face, enjoying the warmth, and inhaling deeply the fresh air. He had never looked so peaceful, almost innocent. Hermione didn’t like the feeling inside of her staring at Malfoy with hopes as though expecting a miracle.
“So,” Hermione started, hiding behind the fortress she had erected around her heart, “why did you ask me to stay with you? Because I was the next person around and you needed company?”
“I thought we could get to know each other better.” There was no sign of irony in his voice when he said this.
Blinking in confusion, Hermione replied, “You should get to the Hospital Wing, really, that’s what you need, Malfoy. There may not be enough blood left flowing to your brain right now.”
“Maybe we could start a new passage in our lives,” Malfoy said, though his expression told her more than his words. His grey eyes were reflecting the sunrays so that they resembled clear crystal, which were completely distracting that Hermione had to rustle in her hand and turn away. “I thought about maturing,” she heard him saying.
Hermione snorted. He had gone crazy, obviously. “The boy who still plays first year pranks on me like slipping Flobberworms down my robe, or sending me hexed paper balls that combust during class; calling me names; filling my schoolbag with dung bombs; spilling cherry juice over my white shirt…” Hermione inhaled quickly, bewildered, just to continue, “who keeps on telling me every day how much he hates me and that he will always hate me—the same boy is now telling me that he wants to start a new passage in his life? You’ll stop bullying me then?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Why the change of heart? Do you expect a reward for that, Malfoy?”
“No,” Malfoy replied when she was finished, and looked at her with the utmost sincerity. “That you’re talking to me is reward enough”.
Blinking once, Hermione felt her jaw slackened slightly, and head heated up for some reasons that was beyond her. She was angry because she couldn’t explain to herself why he was acting so strangely towards her, and even angrier that it affected her so much.
He retrieved a handkerchief out of his trousers pocket and wiped it over his sweating forehead. Then ran it over his wet hair, which was sticking in all directions—looking curly—and Hermione thought he resembled Hayden so much. Except that maybe, Hayden’s hair reached to his ears and curled more naturally. And Hayden didn’t look like an unhealthy grey mouse.
When she remembered Hayden, a lever switched in her head as though a fog had just been lifted from her mind, but she didn’t understand what exactly happened. Gooseflesh spread on her lower arms, so she rubbed them, looking back at Malfoy again. “How well do you know Hayden?” she asked straight to the point, without thinking.
Malfoy looked at her with fiery sparkle in his grey eyes, he snapped, “Why? Want to get to know him better?”
“I was only wondering.” Her eyes grazed towards the lake, where the students resembled small dots on a sandy background, she felt wobbly all of a sudden, and added quickly, “He’s so concerned about you.”
Malfoy let out a snort. “Is he? He is rather concerned about you. And it’s astonishing how much he knows about you like you’re best friends and such.” He mumbled something incoherent under his breath, which sounded like several curses. “Are you seeing him?” he asked nonchalantly. When he met Hermione’s raised eyebrow, he smirked, “I was thinking about Freckle-Frubber and his reaction when he found out you ditched him for your new suitor.”
“I didn’t ditch Ron, nor am I seeing Hayden.” Hermione noticed a twitch on Malfoy’s lips, but ignored it the next second. “What does he know about me?”
“Things, many private things, I dunno,” he said and rubbed his nose.
“I’d rather not want to know exactly why you two are talking about my private life, but to clarify,” Hermione let out an exasperated sigh, “I have never shared anything to Hayden, nor would I believe such a betrayal of my friends,” she said rubbing her arms more intensely. “Something is strange with Hayden anyway.”
A wave of guilt washed over Hermione, as she thought about the past weeks she had gotten to know Hayden a bit: he had been nice and respectful to her and her friends, who didn’t even seem to dislike him; he had protected Hermione many times from Malfoy and his gang; he had tried to cheer her up when she fought with Ron, or had been mocked by Malfoy. Even though she didn’t know Hayden very well, he still was very familiar to her.
It was just irritating how hard he was trying to get Malfoy in the good books with her, to help them both get along together, meet each other and talk to each other as much as possible. That she was now standing here with Malfoy, alone, was this a coincidence or another set plan of Hayden, or them, Hayden and Draco? And now she was wondering why Hayden did that. As though he was trying to hook them—her and Malfoy—up…
She shook her head in disbelief. What would his motive be it if were so? Maybe he wanted to stop the ridiculous fights between her and Malfoy, whom she could never imagine to date. He was too rude; moreover, he incarnated everything she detested in a guy.
She looked at Malfoy and wondered why he hadn’t tried to irritate her yet or insult her as he always did. “Are you with Hayden in this game?” she asked, stepping back.
“What are you talking about?”
“In this whole set up,” Hermione said tersely. “It’s rather strange that we are alone together—again. Don’t you think?”
Malfoy scuffed, “Granger, we are alone now because I asked you to accompany me, remember? And as the good, trusting soul that you are, you agreed. And now we are here. What are you talking about Goldy boy, Malcolm?”
“Did Hayden ever persuade you to meet me in private?”
Malfoy waited a moment before answering. “Yes, several times. He said I should and he insisted. I told you it was his idea to meet you in the library last time,” Malfoy said, rubbing his neck. “Though I haven’t seen him yet today. And I don’t actually care about that bloke.”
“It’s only very suspicious that you’re talking to me like I’m not the Mudblood you love to offend.”
Malfoy snorted and looked away. “You’re being paranoid, Granger. And if he’s scaring you, then why don’t you stay away from him?”
“That’s not the point,” Hermione remarked, and then she voiced out her thought when Malfoy seemed to be too dense to understand what she was trying to say, after all, he was, sort of, involved in this too. Hayden had a plan with her and Malfoy and she had to find out what it was. “Look, Hayden is obviously trying to hook us up.”
Malfoy turned his head at her, but seemed to be suppressing a grin. “What?”
“I know it’s crazy, and I should not accuse him. He’s been a student here since our first year, we had had classes together, but we never talked. A couple of weeks ago, I think it was in September, when school started, we have talked for the first time. It seemed like he’d known me for years. He told me about you, tried to convince me that you are, in the bottom of your heart, a nice person and I should treat you as such,” Hermione said with one breath. She didn’t wait for Malfoy to react, when she added, “He played the guilt card on me, like you’ve got a Troll in Potions because I blew up your cauldron, just to agree to meet you at the library that evening, which, as you and I both know, had only lead to a fight. And after that, Hayden kept on asking me to meet you again and talk to you.”
Malfoy’s face blanched. “I didn’t tell anyone my grade in Potions. How did he know that?”
“Don’t ask me. Hayden Malcolm obviously seems to know such things,” Hermione said by furrowing her brows. “He also told me that you’ve been stalking me, even in the nights, you’ve been lurking in the Gryffindor Tower.” When Malfoy’s face changed to crimson, Hermione added quickly, “But I didn’t believe that particular rumour of his, don’t worry. Besides, why would you do that, right?” She smiled playfully.
“No, of course not,” Malfoy mumbled and coughed a few times. His face lightened up, as he turned on her with a sudden movement. “What if we play along with Goldilocks Malcolm? I mean if he’s trying to hook us up, then for a certain reason. We have to find out what it is, and maybe we’ll get to know too why he knows so much about us.”
“We let him under the assumption that his plan is working,” Hermione contemplated aloud, rubbing her chin. “That’s not a bad idea. To clarify, we have to act like we have feelings for each other to trap him.”
Hermione heard him mumble something that sounded like, ‘that wouldn’t be that hard’ as he coughed again louder this time, “I can manage that, so trust me, Granger.”
“And you would not feel uncomfortable with me?”
“I’m curious about that bloke’s intentions, too, and I’m willing to play this game with you,” Malfoy said sincerely, smirking impishly at her which caused her heart to throb faster as their eyes locked intently, “even if it means I have to act like I really love you.”
(A/N: Please point out any flaws, grammar etc., even if it's just a sentense. :( I need to remove them. A simple review would be awesome too.) :) Thank you!
Chapter 14: The Practice Kiss
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Fantastic chapter image by Caren at TDA *loves*
(A/N: I'm really sorry for taking so long to update this story. I've actucally wanted to make this chapter longer, but since I needed to post something...anything...here it is. LOL This chapter is sort of a transition to the next, before Dramione can begin.)
Beta'ed by Fallstar Thank you. :)
He was smiling, but not at anybody. Not like he usually did at one of those flirts who flocked around him. He could not be smiling at her, the one he loved to call the filthy Mudblood and to treat as such - his most hated enemy - Hermione Granger. His smile looked good on his pale, usually frowning face. And Hermione had to secretly admit to herself that he, standing this close to her, looked good. Whatever it was that made her think this way about Draco Malfoy, it had to stop soon.
Surely she was under stress due to Ron's attitude earlier in the common room and over the past few weeks, and that a simple smile at her in this moment meant the world to her. Ron's being overprotective, like she was not able to defend herself, and his unreasonable jealousy towards the guys she only talked to, was jarring on the nerves. But even if she was annoyed at Ron at the moment, it didn't give her the right to think Malfoy was attractive.
"Even if it means I have to act like I really love you."
Even if it means I have to act like I really love you.
It had caught her off-guard when he had said this. His voice, gentle and soft, was still echoing in her ears even later that night when she went to bed, while his intense gaze had burnt a picture in her mind that would even follow her to her dreams. She had learned to like the way he looked at her. Intensely. Forge-heatedly. Butter-meltingly.
"And you won't mind if your friends see us together?" Hermione asked, looking dryly at him.
Draco returned the same look and question, raising a brow. "Do you mind if your friends see me with you?"
Hesitantly, Hermione shook her head. Though she only answered that she didn't mind at all, and that her friends minded it, was as clear as crystal. But in that moment, which stood for her like an Eternal Now, she didn't care what they'd think.
"Do you believe it's a good idea?" He cocked his head to the side, stared at her, and waited for her to speak.
"Are you doubting your own idea, Malfoy?" Hermione was grateful she found her voice. It was hard looking away from those eyes. Even more catching was his smile.
"Of course not," Malfoy chuckled, "but I was asking your opinion."
"Since when have you cared about what I am thinking?" she huffed. Talking without looking at him was easier, Hermione figured.
"Why must you always make everything so bloody complicated, Granger?"
"Because nothing is ever easy with you," she snapped.
Neither of them said another word for the next few minutes, but it was Malfoy who broke the silence. "What's your theory on what Goldilocks wants from us?"
"Well, that's what we're going to figure out, right?" Hermione said, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. She looked down towards the lake, watching tiny figures assemble and another one coming from the castle, joining the group. "I have a feeling he's not alone." She shivered when she said her thought aloud.
"He has an accomplice in hooking us up?" Malfoy said with exaggerated drama, chuckling lightly.
"It's not funny," she said sharply, but couldn't resist to smile at him. "I'll lay odds on Hayden having a bet or something: That, if he managed to bring us together, he'd win the bet he made with the other person. The question is simply: who is that other person?" Hermione rubbed her lower arm and shivered but not only because of the cool wind. The sun just disappeared behind a giant cloud. "I've seen him a lot hanging around with Cho."
"Chang and Cupid-Boy? I don't believe it."
"With the others around, she acts like she hates and despises him; however, when they're alone together, they become all cosy, rosy and..." Hermione said distantly, remembering the one incident when she ran across the two love birds one evening near the dungeon staircase. "In my opinion that's just plain stupid. If she acts like she can't stand him but in fact she fancies him secretly... And she's only acting like that because of her friends."
Malfoy's face blanched. He dropped his gaze to his shoes and balled his fists to his sides. "What if she's not acting like she hates him because of her friends, but because she's afraid he might ditch her?"
For a moment it sounded like Malfoy wasn't talking about Cho Chang anymore.
"Why would Hayden ditch her?" Hermione said, unsure what exactly he meant.
Malfoy slowly lifted his head, and locked eyes with her for a moment. He whispered, "I dunno. Maybe you know."
Smiling sadly, she admitted, and for this answer she was sure she wasn't talking about Cho and Hayden, "Because he's afraid she might be only playing with his feelings."
Malfoy took a step towards her, leaned so close their noses almost touched, and said with a hoarse voice, "What if she proves to him she's not playing?" While he said this, his right hand moved closer to Hermione's left, his thumb brushed gently the back of her hand.
Hermione flinched at the contact. The sudden closeness, the sudden proximity became too intimidating; it caused her heart to skip a beat or two. She could feel his warm breath on her cheek. She closed her eyes. She could feel... She sighed, deep inside she was fighting the urge to lean towards him and do things that might indeed be considered base treachery against her friends. Thou shalt not covet thy enemy, she thought.
This was absolutely not happening. She opened her eyes again and craned her neck to meet his gaze, smiling uncertainly, "Are we already in the middle of our little game, Malfoy? Hayden's not around to see us like this."
He didn't back away, but he didn't come closer either. "I was thinking of practicing," he smirked playfully. "Just to see if you could handle my charm."
Hermione snorted and played along. "Do you really think I can't handle this?" She provocatively placed a hand on his warm one. His eyes widened for a second of surprise. Shock, more even... Luckily, what Malfoy couldn't see was the wild-throbbing heart inside her chest, pumping more adrenaline into her circulatory system.
He smirked. With his free hand, he tilted her chin up, dropped his robe he had around his arm on the ground, which was followed by a clunk that must have been his wand as that hit the ground. He held her face in place; it wasn't a tight grip, on the contrary, he'd never been this gentle with her. It sufficed to keep her unmoving, for she was moved.
Holding her breath, her eyes drifted shut, wondering what would happen next.
In similar circumstances, with someone...someone more ordinary...he'd just lean down and kiss her. But this was Draco Malfoy, the most prejudiced and conceited Pureblood she knew, who wouldn't even deign to look at her, a Mudblood, if he were his normal self. Adding to this, he was under strong suspicion of being a Death Eater, hence, he could be dangerous.
Of course, he wasn't about to kiss her. She might as well wish for the moon as for this absurdity. With this thought, she opened her eyes again, and watched how his face came closer to hers, slowly, until their lips met.
And that was that. It was only a small peck from his warm lips lasting but a second...but it was a kiss. He leaned away, bent down to get what that had fallen on the ground, and left her frozen on the spot.
Only when he disappeared in the stairway of the Astronomy Tower, did she release her breath. She felt slightly light-headed and told herself that was just the Oxygen that flooded her brain suddenly after holding her breath so long. And the reason for her to feel silly-happy was not because he had kissed her. No way. She shook her head to clear her mind.
"That was only practice," she said aloud, clutching her chest with surprising conviction. If being with Draco Malfoy evoked such feelings within her, forbidden feelings, then she would have to run away from him as far as she could in order not to get hurt, knowing that their lives were too complicated for them to be together.
However, they weren't together, and such thing as a happy ending for them together would never come. She would not risk falling in love with him, the favourite of the worst of the planet. She would not let him come that close again. She would never let him touch her like that again. And at last she vowed to keep an emotional distance from him.
Hayden looked dreamily towards the wide horizon, over the giant lake, to the sun that was bathing in it. For a moment he wanted to forget his parents and his mission of saving them, of fixing their broken relationship from the beginning. But when he thought about that he might have been the reason for destroying it at the first place, then he might as well just give it up.
He wondered how many times he had already travelled back in time to fix his parents' relationship with no success. How many times had he endured the horrible pain of losing his mother, and had watched his father falling into that black hole of despair soon thereafter?
He heard the distant snickering of girls: over-excited squeals, laughter, and gabbling. He turned his head around and remembered what which he came here. At least it had nothing to do with his parents, he thought.
Cho's small group of girlfriends was at the bottom of the hill, surrounding a bench that was facing the lake. Some of the girls squealed even more when Hayden turned around, giggling behind their hands. Only Cho didn't bother to look at him. She brushed the long, raven-black tendrils out of her face, her smile reaching her eyes, when she talked animatedly with her friends.
Why was Naomi demanding this of him? And why was he stupid enough to follow her commands?
A strawberry-haired girl joined the group, waving at the girls. She was wearing the same blue-bronze uniform of the Ravenclaws. She tossed her chin towards Hayden, and he knew that it was she now. Naomi had drunk the Polyjuice Potion and had taken the identity of Cho Chang's best friend, Marietta Edgecombe. What Naomi did to the real Marietta, Hayden didn't even want to imagine.
Five minutes. Naomi had instructed him earlier after leaving the abandoned bathroom to wait five minutes then approach the group.
The distance between himself and the far-away voices of the giggling girls caused a sudden inspiration in him. Hayden stooped down and took his wand, using it as a tool to illustrate his thoughts on the wet sand. Naomi wouldn't be fond of seeing him abusing his wand, but who cares now?
He drew a rectangle that was meant to represent his home, the manor. Wizarding people who knew the Malfoys still confused it with the original Malfoy Manor in Wiltshire where his grandparents, Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy, had lived. The distance between the manor to their gate, where he drew a single line, was about twenty and a half yards. He remembered how he used to play on the ground plot when he was a little, which took him almost five minutes to run across the ground down to the gate without any help of magic. No Muggle car, or any Muggle at all, could enter their property without authorisation.
Hayden made a cross inside the rectangle, intending to represent him. He made another mark in the place where he had been when his mother ran out of the manor the night of her death. Flashes of the scene came back to his mind: his parents fought; harsh words and hurtful ones were flung bodily from each spouse; the burning anger of her face turning to pain when she had slapped him; his blazing lie which flushed his face when he had told her he had never loved her. But this time Hayden didn't shake them away. He closed his eyes and heard the clear honking of the car that had hit his mother, as though he had been there himself –with her.
If Hayden had been inside the manor, and his mother hadn't used her wand to Disapparate—because if she had, wouldn't she just have Apparated somewhere else—then how could he, Hayden, hear her scream so clearly, since the lethal crash when her body had been hit shortly after she'd supposedly left the door of the manor? He was missing something important. Or something was just wrong with his memory.
Did you ever learn the identity of the driver?
He heard Naomi's voice again, asking him. When...they had met in an empty classroom a few days ago.
The Fortius Memory Charm, which will be invented in the year 2001, is, according to Naomi, still an incomplete prototype of the traditional memory charm. It helped protecting the identity of a person it was used upon. Hadn't Naomi used it on Hayden, to alter all the memories of the Hogwarts students, the staff, and House Elves to protect his identity?
Hadn't Hermione had false memories of Hayden when his identity was in jeopardy, as when she believed she had known him since first year and that they had common classes together?
What if the same charm was used on Hayden years ago, when his mum had died? Could Naomi have used it against him? But that was impossible, since Hayden and Naomi were the same age. It was ridiculous to think she had brewed the potion when she was eight, to protect the identity of the driver, to implant in Hayden false memories of his past. Which of them were true and which were already altered? If Naomi weren't the one who used the charm, then who was it? And why?
You want to know the truth, Hayden? Then face it! Deal with it! Why do you keep on running away from it? Naomi's voice echoed in his mind again.
Hayden looked down on his scratches in the sand, and his vision blurred. Once again, he heard the clear scream of his mother close to his ears; he saw a bright light; he heard, then, by the loud thud; then came the crash that turned to the sound of explosion. But there was no car at all, just a luminant light that blinded Hayden's eyes.
And then he saw it. What had really happened nine years ago was not a car accident. There was no driver, but there was a murderer. He saw this memory with crystal clarity, as it had never been before, like a veil had been lifted from his memory, revealing the truth.
With a sudden movement, his head turned towards the group of girls. He looked her directly into the eyes. Now he knew the truth.
Chapter 15: Something More
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gorgeous chapter image by ariana_tithe at TDA
(A/N: *takes deep breath* Whew! Look, I've finally updated, after...how long? Three months? Sorry about that... Real life sucks and since I've moved to a new place, I have no computer. But, anyway, I hope you still like this story and keep reading until the very last chapter.) :)
WARNING: I've changed the format (from Novella to Novel) of this story, and the rating as well, since it's getting sensitive issues in later chapters. x-(
Disclaimer: I've borrowed the bathroom scene from the HBP book, where Draco was being comforted by Myrtle. Canon-Hermione was shattered and heartbroken when Ron hooked up with Lavender. In this story, she doesn't care.
Everything you don't recognize was created by me. :p
Credit: My thanks to Fallstar for beta-reading the chapter. I've added a few things, so if you find any grammar, errors, it's me to be blamed. Bella_Portia translated 'Renew Memory' in Latin for me (Novo Memoriam).
When he left, he knew he had made a decision. He'd told himself over and over again that he would never care for her. And yet he had to pretend he would, just for the sake of a silly game he had willingly agreed to. But he did it for peace of mind, didn't he? So he could freely leave when the right time came and the task he was given was completed. He could leave with no regrets about how it would be, being with Hermione Granger. She was his only chance to keep him out of despair, the one to ransom him from fear's grasp of failing.
There was a time when he dumped a girl for another girl because he didn't love her enough. Now here's another girl he was trying to stay away from no matter how, not because he didn't like her, but because she became the promising summation of his new happiness, and this was making him 'sick'. He couldn't handle his emotions.
He stared at his mirror reflection in the abandoned bathroom of the second floor. With the back of his hand, he wiped the wetness away from his eyes. He'd never thought that she would be the one who could make him cry like this. She became the ineradicable weakness in him.
A wailing sound snapped him from his self-absorption; something cold appeared beside him and caused him to jump and turn around. He recognised the nasty ghost haunting this bathroom, peering through her thick glasses at him. She tilted her head to the side, then to the other, as if to examine him, then hovered closer and furrowed her eyebrows together.
“Were you crying?” she asked in a voice that made the hair on his neck stand upright.
How insignificant this ghost may be, its presence, however, was comforting. He scowled at her nonetheless.
“Sod the hell off, Myrtle!” He looked disdainfully at her, and spit her name out as if it were a curse word.
For a split second it seemed like she was hurt because of Draco's rudeness, but when she noticed the shimmering tears in his eyes, she seemed to be rather gratified that someone else felt the way she did: miserable.
“You were crying,” she pointed out and hovered closer. The air around Draco got colder. “Why? Do you feel lonely like me? I have no one else, too,” she whined, brushing an invisible tear away.
He took a step backwards, averting her piercing gaze. “It's none of your ruddy business! Bugger off, you damned mope!”
Myrtle's lips quavered, and then she flew over Draco's head, until she vanished behind one of the cubicles. The only sound that remained were her moaning and whining, rebuking him that it was completely unnecessary being so rude to her: she had only been concerned. Rolling his eyes, he watched himself in his reflection again, eyes puffy red and eye bags sore. He was disgusted at himself.
“I won't tell anyone if you confide your problems to me, I promise!” came Myrtle's voice again from somewhere, beseeching. He didn't bother where she was. He would be leaving now anyway.
It would be hard, though, hard for the reason that he was aware he had no one out there he could share this particular problem with, and he desperately had to before it consumed him from within. He had to talk about her.
“I'm not heartbroken!” he replied, hesitantly. “Maybe I've just overreacted and flew off the handle.”
There came no response at first, and for a moment he felt silly talking to a soul of a dead person, talking to Moaning Myrtle. But then Myrtle's face appeared in the mirror, smiling sadly at him.
He jumped, grasping his heart in shock. “Blimey! Don't do that again!”
“Why” she asked, hovering away from the washbasin. Her eyes were wide, filled with curiosity.
“Because you bloody startled me!”
“I mean, why did you “overreact” and “Fly off the handle' as you've said,” she clarified with a patient smile.
Draco averted her eyes, shrugging. It was now or never. “Because I've kissed that girl and it felt...surprisingly good. I-I'm not accustomed to…this kind of delirium, this euphoria, this feeling.” He noticed on the mirror that his face lit up when he said this; it was almost a revelation to him about how he felt about Hermione Granger. “Not for someone with such a filthy, impure blood, such an ordinary-looking girl,” he added quickly with a scowl. “My vision tricked my heart, I suppose. Or maybe it was the other way around,” he chortled.
“The Mudblood doesn't know about your secret fancy for her, does she?” Myrtle said, venturing a guess. He blanched when the bespectacled ghost called Granger that name. For some reason it stung him inside even though he was guilty calling her like that too. “In my opinion, it was neither your vision nor your heart that has tricked you to fall for someone who doesn't meet your esthetics in the slightest. You've been just emotionally manipulated. Find the one who has played this prank on you.”
“You mean someone else is responsible for this whole turmoil I'm going through?” Draco asked, pursing his lips.
“That's the only reason I can see.” Myrtle titled her head, raising an eyebrow. “But tell me, do you care about blood that much?”
“I?” Draco bent his head to stare on his clenched fists, his knuckles turning white, “My high-bred kind has been raised to care, you know?” he smirked.
A long silence stretched between them, until Draco spoke again.
“It's not only that,” he added.
It once crossed his mind to ask Granger for help to pull him away from this dangerous path he had been forced to take just to save his family. He had wanted to tell Hermione about the Dark Lord's plan, that Death Eaters would be invading Hogwarts via the broken Vanishing Cabinet he, Draco, was currently repairing. He had wanted to warn her so that she could get in safety. But he discarded that thought when he had seen Granger with that fart-faced Weasley – being sweet and cozy together.
Hesitating before looking directly at Myrtle's evanescent form, and with watery eyes and an unfaltering look on his pale face, Draco asked, “Could you ever fall in love with a person who's not right for you? Who might bring you in mortal danger if you stayed with them? Someone you would, at last, wish to hell if you'd found out they'd executed a criminal act?”
Head tilted to the side, Myrtle asked. “And what would that be?”
“Like...assassinating the school's headmaster?”
Naomi didn't exactly hide her surprised face when Hayden strode towards her, as if she'd expected this reaction to come—sooner or later. He had his wand tightly in his hand, face wearing all the marks of anger. It was that Naomi already knew what he had just figured out, or at least a part of it.
As on instinct, she, still disguised as Cho's best friend, Marietta Edgecombe, placed herself in front of her mother. She drew her own wand and pointed it at Hayden. The other girls surrounding Cho and Naomi looked confused and then alarmed, eyes shifting between the duellers.
“What are you doing?” Naomi exclaimed, and before Hayden could lift his wand, she shouted, “Expelliarmus!”
With a blink of an eye, Hayden's wand flew away in a wide arc. “You anfractuous double-crosser!” he yelled, his finger pointed at the reddish-blonde Ravenclaw. “You're going to tell me the whole truth—NOW!”
“What's wrong with him?” one of the girls asked, exchanging baffled looks with her girl-friends.
“Marietta, do you know what he means?” Cho inquired.
“Could you all leave me alone with him, please?” she asked her friends, never breaking eye contact with Hayden. “I meet you later in the common room. Alright? Now go!”
After a short hesitation, the girls moved, tugging at Cho's sleeve. She was the only one who wanted to stay. “Shall I report him to the Head students or Professor Dumbledore for aiming his wand at you? I knew from the onset he was up to something,” Cho said.
“No, don't! I'll be in trouble since I was the one who used magic against him,” replied Naomi, pocketing her wand. She tucked her curly hair behind her ear and pushed Cho and the other girls towards the castle. “Off you go!”
Once the small group of girls was off hearing range, Naomi walked up to Hayden and pushed him a few times, hard. “Are. You. Insane? How could you even think of attacking my mother? You. Asshole!”
With one movement Hayden had clutched both of Naomi's wrists. “I was not even about to attack her! You owe me some explanations, Naomi Corner!”
“Shh! Have you completely lost your mind, Hayden?” Naomi hissed, looking around, fazed. “Don't use my real name here. Now, calm down!”
“I'm not going to calm down! Not unless I hear the whole truth from you,” Hayden insisted, tightening his grip. Naomi cried out in pain. “I'm sorry. I'll let go of you, but you'll stay and explain everything to me! Okay?”
“No! Not yet!” she spat, tears formed in her eyes. “You've already ruined everything the moment you've set foot in this era! You and your uncontrolled anger, your unpredictable actions, your tantrums! You can't do anything right! Now, don't you dare ruining my plans!”
“I haven't ruined anything! I can't even work on what I came back for because you keep me occupied with tasks designed to waste my precious time,” Hayden said, enraged, not letting go of her arms.
His grip tightened as he spoke.
Hayden fell silent for a moment; she was right, she hadn’t forced him to do anything. She made him do all this with a simple bat of her eyelashes and pleading him in her honey-sweet voice. He’d even go through hell and back for her if she’d ask him to. Shaking his head from the thought that he was her puppet on command, he added, trying to be angry with her, “There was something I could remember, Naomi, about the 'car accident' years ago. How come I could hear my mom's screaming like I've been around when she was hit by the 'car' when I was supposed to be in the manor?”
“How would I know that?” she cried.
“You're keeping something from me, aren't you?” His blood was pulsing in his veins, faster with every heartbeat; but for some reason, it was gratifying to release this pent-up anger. It grew cold all of a sudden as the meaning of her earlier words sank in. “What are those plans of yours? Tell me!”
“Why should I tell you? So that you can sabotage them? I've promised I'll help you,” Naomi said, now using her knees to kick him away.
“I'm running out of patience and time,” he bellowed, tilting with his free hand her chin. “I should trust you—follow your instructions, but how’m I gonna do that if I have 'altered' memories of what actually happened to my parents—to my mum? How much of what I remember is the truth and already changed? Have you put a Memory Charm on me, too? Have you altered my memories?”
“Let go of me!”
“Who killed my mother?”
“Let go of my arms!” Naomi seethed, trying to struggle her arms away. “You're hurting me!”
“WHO! KILLED! MY! MOTHER!”
Naomi started shaking, her body relaxed when tears cascaded down her cheeks. There was something else in the dark blue eyes, with which she was staring at Hayden: it was fear he saw in them. And in her sad and terrified face was a horrible truth that made the blood freeze in his veins.
And then it was real, as Naomi said: “It was you, Hayden. You killed your mother!”
Her arms slipped through his limp hands, taking a step away from him, trembling and rubbing her wrists. “Your father was still alive when you left. I got all the information about your parents in this era from him. I've promised him to support and help you, keep you from doing something ridiculous. Stop interfering in their relationship unless you want to end up being a foster kid again.”
Hayden's breath quickened. He absorbed the information all at once, too much to process. “I killed my mum?” he whispered.
Nodding and with tears in her eyes, Naomi said, “That was the accident. You were a little child, you played with your mother's wand...”
When she tried to reach for his hand, he backed away. “And my father … he was alive?”
“He had been lucky he didn’t get caught by the Death Eaters then when the two of you had fled. He had been completely defenseless when he had left his wand with you. He had kept an eye on you all the years, he guessed your intentions and got in contact with me. That's the reason why I didn't see you in the summer holidays after my graduation. I've spent my holidays with your dad and … and my mum.”
“With my dad and your mum?”
“See,” Naomi said, blinking the tears away. “Isn't it more pleasant and easier if the truth was concealed? I wish I had never found out about them, Hayden.”
He waited for her to go on; his heart was pounding rapidly, painfully inside his ribcage.
“They got married four years ago. That makes you and me step-siblings.”
He didn't notice when she re-drew her wand under her robe, but merely felt the tip poking at his temple. He didn't care anymore about his life, about anything, whether she was going to kill him or not. He didn't care. He was already dead inside.
I killed my mum, was the last thought that ran through his mind.
“Now close your eyes, Hayden, and trust me,” she said.
Hermione, tiredly absentminded as symptomatic of that dread disease, Love, or whatever it was, and trying to appear as casual as possible, ate her breakfast in the Great Hall. It was hard not to stare over to the Slytherin table, and look for him. But she couldn't help herself to peek over while taking sips from her Pumkin Juice. She hadn't seen him for two and a half days. Malfoy hadn't showed up since the day after their, well, practice kiss. He had skipped all meals over the weekend and had neither been in the Great Hall nor been seen in the corridors or dungeons since. Maybe he was avoiding Hermione, once he had realised that what he had agreed to with her was plain ridiculous; this way he would be slowly backing out until both of them forgot about it.
Such a cowardly way to tell me, she thought, closing her eyes to dive into deeper, forbidden thoughts.
She had almost considered asking his two cronies, who had never left their master's side since the first days of Hogwarts when she encountered them in the hallways last Saturday night when she came back from the library, about Draco’s secret life. Parkinson had been seen once in a while with her other girl friends during meal time, though she hadn't been in Malfoy's company since beginning of school year on the Hogwarts Express. Even the younger Greengrass hadn't been seen in Malfoy's company, because of which, Hermione for some reasons beyond her logic, she was grateful for.
If Harry was right, and Malfoy was planning something where his mates would be keeping watch for him, then Hermione had to keep an extra eye on him. This was a priority reason why she needed to be around him, the reason why she had walked the last two nights to the dungeons, looking for the Slytherin common room just to see him once. At least this was what she told herself.
She felt her head heating up, and was grateful that no one could read her mind.
“It's not that I'm missing his presence,” she groaned, huffing at herself.
This caused Ginny, who was sitting next to her, to face her. “Did you say something?”
“Oh...no.” She waved her hand dismissively, blushing crimson. “I was only wondering if Ron had stopped being a git, since he'd been like that for days,” she said nervously, poking her bacon with her fork. “You know, because of last Friday. Did he mention something particularly why he'd been so upset?”
Ginny took a sip from her glass and glanced over to her brother, who was applying butter on his toast, chuckling and deepened in their conversation about the last Quidditch game they’d won. He was sitting between Neville and Dean, Harry and Seamus occupied the seats opposite to them.
“Did you have a row...again?” Ginny asked. “Harry's worried about you too. Just so you know, he wants to talk to you later.” Then she leaned in to add in a whisper, “You don't have a boyfriend you've stashed away somewhere? Do you?”
This took Hermione off-guard that she almost swallowed up her juice. “What?!” Her head turned red from coughing, so she turned away, “There's no one. But what makes you think so?”
Ginny shrugged, throwing a fleeting look at her brother before she leaned to Hermione, smiling sheepishly. “People in love have this glow around them. And you have this ‘glow’ around you. You really should hide it better than that.”
“Don’t be absurd.” Hermione pulled a face.
At some point during the conversation around Hermione, Malfoy's name fell. Her head shot around to look at the source. Lavender was talking to Parvati, and another girl who sat opposite to them, so that Hermione could eavesdrop their chatter.
“I heard Malfoy's got a fever, the furry ferret Seeker, wooh,” Lavender gossiped, rolling her eyes. “Our majesty is sick because he got scared of Gryffindors. Luckily my Won-Won saved the game, my sweet cupcake.” She blew Ron a kiss and batted her eyelashes.
“Malfoy should keep playing, so that Gryffindor has it always easy to win like last Saturday,” Parvati mused. “All mouth, no trousers, a show-off without even having the qualities to justify it. He’s only lucky for being so handsome; take that away and he's just a lame geek.”
“Certainly, he only stayed in the common room during the game with some random girl,” Lavender added, giggling. “According to Myrtle, he made out with Chang in the bathroom last Friday afternoon. Merlin, I bet he's got a list of girls he has to kiss before graduation. The 'To-Snog-List'. He's done with all the chicks in Slytherin, and is now working up to Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.”
“I hope I'm on his list, too,” another girl beside them squealed, blushing afterwards.
“Malfoy's choosy,” Parvati said with a finger pointed in mid-air, crushing every girls' hope in an instant like a blood-swollen mosquito about to slip into her perfume jar. Draco Malfoy might not be aware of it, but he stood peer to the most sought-after guys in the tradition of legendary Cedric Diggory. To none of the girls present would he ever waste his attention on. “He picks pulchritudinous girls, and of course pure-bloods only. He'd never settle for less.”
“Pulkee- what?” Lavender sniggered.
“I'm not exactly dying to get smoochies from Malfoy,” Ginny stated, resting her chin on her angled arm. Hermione didn’t even realize that her friend had been listening too.
“Yeah, because you get enough smoochies from Harry, isn't it?” Ron remarked with crinkled nose at his sister, then his eyes met Hermione's. “Surely, Krum gave you some, too.”
Hermione threw a questioning look at Ginny and Harry, both averted her eyes.
“You get smoochies from your Lav-Lav too, remember?” Ginny teased, throwing a bean at him.
Ron scoffed, glaring. He turned to look at Harry again. “Have you noticed she didn't even deny it,” he croaked.
As the two boys continued in a shushed conversation, Hermione could only hear out Viktor's name again, and something that sounded like 'she was only fourteen', noticing Ron's eyebrows that were drawn together and his scarlet ears. She would jump down his throat afterwards if they were in private and confront him about his ridiculous problems with her.
“I've always thought Malfoy's banging everyone that wears a skirt,” Lavender remarked, which caught Hermione's attentions again.
“Draco's not a manwhore, you got that?”
When everyone turned around to Hermione, she realised that it was her who had said this aloud.
“Wooh, 'Draco'-poo?” Lavender and Parvati said in chorus. Ron, Harry and the other guys were gazing once again. “Hermione's defending her master, Draco Comptempt-For-The-Weak Malfoy,” Lavender sneered, nudging her neighbour's arm. The other girls snickered in amusement. “I bet she's enjoying his dirty double entendres about her mouse-hair, curvy-weight size, and…blood status. Do we have a glutton for punishment, Hermione?”
Hermione glanced over to Ron, who seemingly preferred to keep his nose out this time. Lavender was his sodding girlfriend now after all, was he taking side with this cow now? Ron merely took another bite of his cheese bread, his eyes curiously shifting from Hermione to Lavender, surrendering.
“Are we jealous, Lavender? At least he's noticing me, no matter how he does it, whereas he'd not even remember your name even if he'd stuck a bunch of lavenders up his buttocks,” Hermione retorted, feeling stupid the moment she'd said this.
The girls looked bemused when the meaning of her words reached them, coming from the virtuous Hermione Granger. How shocking! She threw her napkin on the table and ran off, when she suddenly bumped into something hard, but soft all the same.
She didn't need to lift her head to know who it was. She smelt his scent, that sufficed; she felt his warm breath near her ear; she heard his voice whispering, “Where are you going, Granger? The party has just begun.”
She pushed him away gently just to have a better look at him, but he held her on her elbows. Looking directly into her eyes, he said with a small smile, “Just ignore them, alright? They're nothing but frustrated little hags desperate to be on my 'List.'” He winked, leaning his forehead briefly against hers.
He was flirting with her in front of everyone.
He went to her seat, got her bag of books and shouldered it, without deigning a look at anyone at the table. Then he walked back to Hermione and led her towards the entrance door with a sly smile on his lips.
This would be just the beginning of it then, and Malfoy already made everyone within their radius speechless. It was just that simple performance in front of everybody, and she didn't even care if Hayden, for whom this show was for, was around to see them together or not. Somehow she thought that Draco didn't care right this moment either.
There were no holding hands when they walked together, nor arms wrapped possessively around each other's waists, nor exaggerated sweet names, nor mushy gifts he presented to her like red flowers, nor a huge stuffed heart, not even a romantic declaration of love. Everything that lovers do for the sake of public display of affection was set aside. All of that wasn't necessary to make the audience notice the change between them.
They had simply looked at one another, intently, putting everything around them into oblivion.
That was all it needed right then and there: simple, subtle flirting.
“Have you seen their faces?” Hermione asked once they stood in front of her next class: Arithmancy. She was laughing in amusement. “That featherbrained Lavender deserved it. You can hand me my bag back now, thank you.”
Draco disregarded her. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped it over the small beads of sweat on his forehead.
“You look unhealthy; I heard you have a fever,” she added, sounding concerned. “Give me my bag. I can carry it myself.”
“Do you always listen to what those country lassies gossip?” he snapped, “I'm fine, all right?” Exhaling nosily, he looked down at her from the side, feeling sorry for his harshness. “When is your next free period?”
She hesitated a moment. “Between 2 to 3 PM after Ancient Runes. But I’ll need to get some stuff done for Professor Burbage. She has asked me to help her prepare for her next lesson in Muggle Studies and provide simple Muggle items to present to the students. Look, surely we don't have to exaggerate all this if you feel uncomfortable with me. I mean, you know, like hanging around with me all the time,” Hermione suggested all in one breath. Why she was being nervous around Malfoy was beyond her. “I haven't informed my friends about this absurd idea of ours. I'd rather not want them to think I've hidden that I was going out with you.”
“I'll pick you up at 2 PM in front of the Muggle Studies classroom.” He chose to disregard her again, and felt a heavy crushing in his chest when the thought crossed his mind that maybe she didn't feel comfortable around him. Certainly, it could be that; just because they were pretending to be getting along together now didn't automatically mean all the hatred they'd shared before was forgotten or forgiven. Maybe she was trying to back out; being the gentle soul that she was, she did it with discretion. Was she already 'breaking up' with him, her non-boyfriend?
They heard nearing footsteps from a distance, and two voices arguing. Together, they glanced to the same direction and realised that Hayden and a Ravenclaw girl were walking side by side, passing the spot Draco and Hermione were standing. Draco frowned by the sight of Hayden.
He was taken off-guard when he realised Hermione closed the small gap between them, brushing briefly the back of his hand, with her other, she grabbed her bag from his shoulder. “Thank you for carrying it for me, Draco. I'll meet you later at 2,” she said softly with crimson cheeks, and then flashed him an alluring smile. He had never seen her smile like that, or smile at him like that. In the next moment she disappeared behind the classroom door, leaving him rooted on his spot.
“My head's still buzzing like an air hammer hit on it,” Hayden moaned, rubbing the back of his head. “Have I gotten that drunk over the weekend that I can't remember a thing?
“Yeah, you did,” Naomi said, not looking at him.
“That surprises me because I don't usually drink.”
“I thought so too.” She shrugged and sighed dramatically. “Cheer up, Hayden, I won't tell anyone.”
“You know, if I found out who had hurt you I'm going to kick his bum!” He took an arm of Naomi and examined one of her bruised wrists. “Why can't you tell me who had done that to you?”
She snatched her arm back, snapping, “I told you I can't remember how it actually happened.”
They stopped in their tracks when they noticed in a short distance Hermione and Draco standing closely together, Hermione taking her bag from his shoulder and thanking him for carrying it. Then she entered the classroom and left Draco outside the door.
When they passed by Draco Malfoy without greeting him, and after they had turned the next corner, Naomi spoke again, crushing the bright and contented grin on Hayden's face, “That wasn't real.”
“What do you mean 'that wasn't real'? My plan's finally working.”
“They are only pretending they are getting along, but they don't,” Naomi stated as nonchalantly as she could. “Trust me, it's just a show. But their plan will backfire on them, we'll make sure of that.”
(A/N: Well, Dr/C??? *yikes* But it's necessary for the background story in Hayden's time in the future.)
PS: I hope, in this chapter, I've established Hermione's as well as Draco's motives as to why they have to go through this burden of dating each other. Hermione wants to spy on Draco; and Draco needs to satiate his desire for her to keep sane. 'The Show', however, is for trapping Hayden and to find out about the mystery that surrounds him.
PPS: Oh, I'd love it if you point out my grammar. I'll correct them at once. :) Thanks.
Chapter 16: The Muggle Snapshot
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
I was crying when I saw this chapter image. Made by the talented Violet at TDA
Credits: The idea of Pseudo-Appiration is not mine, but I've slightly changed the rule set. According to my beta, Dr. Pinkerton, the famous researcher of magical attack, defense, and espionage techniques, invented PA.
The description of "fate" was written by my beta. And well, my beta is Fallstar. :) Read his stories. They're great.
Disclaimer: Well, HP is still JKR's, but the plot and OCs are mine. :)
Why can’t you keep yourself out of trouble, Hayden?
You’ve broken your arm—AGAIN?
If only I could cast a permanent protection charm on you just to keep you from getting hurt, I definitely and gladly would.
His mother’s voice was as clear in his ears as it was when he’d last seen her. As though his mother—not the Hermione Granger in this era, but his mother from the future, Hermione Malfoy—was in the same place like him. And her lovely but all the same authoritative tone rebuked him for always getting in trouble. It got him on the nerves sometimes.
It was most likely the umpteenth time Hayden Malfoy had showed up at home with an injury. That fateful time he had come home with a bleeding nose and sore left eye, his light blue sweater stained with blood. Whether it was his fault or the boys’ in the park who had thrashed him for protecting his best girlfriend, his mother didn’t care to know.
“But, Mum, they started it! They said she’s a freak. I can’t let them get away with it.”
“I don’t care what they’d said this time. You can’t solve problems with violence. How many times have I told you...”
“Blah blah... please spare me your tedious speech!”
And with that, as the bad-tempered eight-year-old that he was, he had slammed his bedroom door right into his mother’s face.
“God damn it, Hayden!” Naomi fumed when she had, once again, apparated into an empty room. Where she exactly was, she couldn’t immediately tell. Here, there and yon were cauldrons in all sizes and shapes, so she assumed she had landed in the cauldron store room near Dungeon Five. She clutched her wand tighter: “Where. The. Heck. Are. You?”
Another squeezing sensation, another plop, and she was falling—falling—falling. And then she landed on her back. “OUCH! My bum, ow ow!” she cried out in pain, rubbing the hurting spot. Scanning the room quickly, she got to her feet, as realisation hit her. “I forgot that this isn’t the extra classroom used for Pseudo-Apparition designed for students who are of age in my era. Way to go, Headmistress Sprout!”
Good thing I got my license for that already, Naomi thought, proud of herself, no one will ever catch me since no one knows that I can circumvent the invincible Anti-Apparition spell on this castle. Pseudo-Apparition works by completely different principle from the classical Apparition of this era.
“I’d better worry about getting my license confiscated for using Pseudo-Apparition unwisely, Naomi rebuked herself, “But later...Much later.”
She got up from the pile of boards and sacks she had landed on; she then dusted her skirt down while walking towards the shelves that were stacked up with dusty books and unused objects.
Okay, he’s apparently not here too, Naomi realised, sighing loudly.
“I’ve checked all the common rooms in this castle, part of the forest, the Astronomy Tower, and even got lost in the Room of Hidden Things...” Naomi counted on her fingers, though on the last one she was sure that Hayden couldn’t know about.
She looked in her pocket for her notepad, and read the handwriting—that wasn’t hers—
scribbled there. There was a brief description of Hermione Granger’s physical appearance, a very detailed information about her character, hobbies, friends, her general life in Hogwarts, and most importantly, the times she had spent with Draco Malfoy. The dates were listed down according to events: their very first encounter, conversations and also about their plans, first kiss, and last but not least, the inaccurate date of their first time.
Naomi felt her head heating up. And then her heart dropped, when she realised that the last date was dated in the upcoming month. She remembered very clearly the voice of the man who had provided her with these information.
‘Well, um, yeah,’ he had said, blushing all over his usually pale face, ‘that’s all. That must be the only time. I still can’t believe it actually happened...’
Then below the scribbles was, in Naomi’s handwriting, her own strategy on how she was going to make everything work.
She remembered the feeling of Hayden’s lips on hers and as the consequent sudden wave of guilt washed over her, she whispered: “I shouldn’t have let that happen.” She subconsciously stroked Hayden’s name on her pad; that word, that name which was the indefinite date when Hayden must disappear. “But just in case I’ll not see him again.”
A voice from the neighbouring room caught Naomi’s full attention again, and on instinct, she hid behind a pile of old books and brooms.
“No, not today,” a light-sounding, merry voice said. “I have to sit in with the sixth years in Potions again. You know, to catch up with the lessons I’ve missed last year. I didn’t even work on my essay, which is... unfortunately due to tomorrow.”
“Make sure you sit next to me again, a’right?” A husky male voice replied playfully, but it was somewhat controlling too.
Naomi flinched when she recognised the voices of her teenaged mother with the boy who was destined to ruin her whole life, and got up from her hiding spot to move a bit closer to hide behind the door; it was, to her luck, a crack open. She watched them share a short kiss, Cho standing on her tip-toes to reach Michael’s face, which she brushed lovingly with her palm.
“Of course, I will.” Cho smiled, and turned away. There was something on her face that was distracting somehow; she seemed to wipe off the loving facade she put on when she faced Michael. She crossed her arms over her chest, her mind distances away.
“What’s wrong?” Michael stepped behind her.
Her fingers massaged her temple, but she didn’t turn to look at him. “Probably just a migraine.”
He placed his hands on her shoulders, seemingly oblivious that Cho had stiffened under his touch. “Relax. It’s just you and me,” he purred close to her ear, a half-smile on his boyish face.
Naomi watched them, perturbed and somehow disgusted. She wanted to end it—them—him right then and there. Her hand shook, fingers tightening around her wand.
Cho turned around this time, her eyes filled with sadness. She had to crane her neck to look up into Michael’s eyes. He took another step towards her, placed his hands on the sides of her waist, and brought their bodies closer. Cho hesitated, biting her lower lip. “Listen, Michael,” she started, her voice breaking, “Do you actually love me? You’ve never said it. I mean, we’ve been dating for—how many months now?—and yet you’ve never—”
He cut her off by kissing her. “Shh... You know how I feel about you. No words can ever describe that.”
“That’s bull,” she muffled against his lips, irritated. Pushing him slightly away, she tried to catch his eyes; he was confused, and taken aback by the harshness of her voice. “There are times when I watch you, Michael. I see you watching her. Is the reason why you can’t tell me you love me is because you’re still in love with her? Just be honest...”
“I don’t think this will work with the two of us, Michael, if you’re in love with another girl,” Cho accused, stepping away from him.
Naomi, listening intently, knew the veracious reason why Cho was doing this, and she had no intention to witness it live.
“You can’t be serious,” Michael croaked, shaking his head in bewilderment. “Which girl do you mean? What the frack are you talking about?” He threw his hands in the air. “You are the one entertaining the guys, remember? You sodding flirt! What about that guy from Slytherin—the curly one, the blond—who’s very obviously oggling you all the time?”
“This is not about me,” Cho replied in a patient tone. She took a deep breath, her expression determined—determined to break up with him. “It clearly bothers you that Ginny has ditched you for no apparent reason, and now here you are, dating me, acting like you’ve moved on, but secretly you’re still mourning over your breakup.”
“Ginny?” Michael repeated, looking surprised as though he had never heard that name before. “You can’t be serious.”
“Why won’t I be?”
There was a long silence until Michael made a step forward: eyebrows narrowed down to little slits, his anger was cold. “Now you want to break up with me? Is that what you want?”
Warily, Cho lifted her shoulders to a weak shrug.
“You do that. You do that. But listen to me first, you filthy tart,” Michael spat through pursed lips. His posture was rigid; his arms shaking by his sides. It was obvious that Michael Corner wasn’t used to getting ditched. “I’ve ignored your secret-freaking-affair with that bastard you write—”
Cho’s eyes grew wide in shock, as though Michael had just hit her in the gut.
His voice pulled up a half octave, but it only became crueller. “—Yeah, you thought I didn’t know anything about it? Really? You thought that?” He sneered, eyes fierce.
“You’ve sifted through my personal belongings?” exclaimed Cho, shaking all over, too.
Michael merely smirked and said, in his ordinary conversational tone, “Of course! I had to, sweetie-pumpkin. Your owls never reached him.” Then he mimicked Cho by raising his voice exaggeratedly high. “ ‘Dear Marcus, I miss seeing you. Can’t wait until the Christmas holidays start,’” then he snarled—louder, angrier, “But what about me, Cho? Ditching me first before giving in to that Marcus-bastard to have a clean conscience when shagging him?”
Tears welled up in Cho’s eyes, she held her ears and shook her head. Even Noami, who was clutching her chest in sympathy for her mother, held her breath and felt her hand twitch around her wand.
“This isn’t part of the mission I have to accomplish,” Naomi seethed, with a heavy heart, through gritted teeth. “Unlike Hayden I have accepted my fate. I'm sorry, Mum.”
Closing her eyes, she felt another pull around her body, purging every image from her mind of her depressed and emotionally unstable mother in the future and thanking the kind-hearted man, who had married her despite it all.
Once she landed on her feet, Naomi told herself, “I owe him that.” And she focused her attention on Hayden again.
Draco couldn’t remember the exact date when it all began, or what time of the day it was, but he could remember in detail the way she had looked like when she had done it to him the very first time.
Usually around that time of the day, he felt extremely hungry. The hunger became less painful the longer he endured it; until his body would grow weaker that he had no choice than give in and just eat. It was hurting him to know that his parents were taken hostage by Death Eaters that the Dark Lord was threatening to kill them if Draco failed his mission.
It was pathetic to make himself suffer more; it was absurd to think that the pain of hunger would distract him from his passionate sorrow. He would only preoccupy his mind with all sorts of food and all those sweets, and not thinking of his distressed mother or the disappointed look on his father’s face. And while sating himself with a big sandwich filled with his favourite fillings, he wouldn’t think of his upcoming assassination of Albus Dumbledore.
How pitiful he was, was he? But at least it was working…
Ignoring the mass of students in the Great Hall during mealtime and then sneaking in the kitchen in the meantime was very inconvenient and sometimes risky, considering he could get caught, but it was worth spending some bitch-free hours from Pansy, Astoria, or whichever girl swooned for him this week. Or last week. Or next week.
The hour was late. His stomach grumbled. He felt dizzy. His hands felt nearly numb. His feet gave him the same dull sensation. He was lost in thought, thinking about what he could get in the kitchen when he was there, consciously thinking of the essays he still had to write, and the upcoming test in Potions. Freaking Skrewts!!! Just so his thoughts were occupied...
Something hard but squishy ran against his legs. This was followed by a loud clash and a clatter. Snatched back to reality, Draco looked down to see what it was. Cutlery and a tray had fallen from about three feet and hit the ground.
A small house-elf knelt on the ground, bowed in front of him, and tried to pull down his ears as if he was beginning his punishment. “Dobby is sorry for Dobby did not see you, s-sir.” He mumbled something against the floor that didn’t make sense to Draco, bowed his oversized head a few times, even slamming it now and again on the hard floor.
In a similar circumstance and if he were his usual self, back then when Dobby was still his personal servant, Draco would just kick away the house-elf and go away. But to his own surprise, he reached a hand forward and made Dobby stop from hurting himself. Then he drew his wand and cleaned up the mess the clumsy elf had caused on the floor, and handed him back the tray with the food on it.
“Stop hurting yourself, all right? Just be more careful next time,” Draco said, lifting one corner of his lips to a faint smile.
After another exaggerated bow, Dobby turned around, and then froze in surprise. Draco followed the elf’s gaze, looking blankly. He tossed his chin at her direction, not saying anything.
Dobby, bowing once again, and leaving Draco behind while expressing his gratefulness with his squeaky high-pitched voice , disappeared in the kitchen.
About a few yards away from Draco was Hermione, one hand pressed to her chest, and only in the torch lights visible was the most kind-hearted smile on her gentle face—directed at him.
Draco couldn’t believe that it’s been a half year already since he had developed these strange, inexplicable feelings for Hermione Granger, getting more intense with each and every day.
A half year.
He noticed in the distance Hermione carrying a package in her arms, looking all lovely when a slightly surprised look appeared on her face once they locked eyes together.
Six months, he thought, smirking, were twenty-six weeks.
He leaned against the door frame and shoved his fists inside his robe pockets, to hide the tension that shook through him once she was very close that he could smell her sweet fragrance.
Six months were one hundred and eighty-two days.
Hermione got the small package which she had asked her mother to send her a couple of days ago from her dormitory and went to the Muggle Studies classroom in the first floor. She wasn’t at all surprised when a lean, tall and light-haired Slytherin waited for her at the door, leaning against the door frame with his fists shoved inside his robe pockets, and smirking his Malfoy trademark smirk.
Okay, she was surprised. She didn’t truly expect him to spend his free period with her even though he was the one who had suggested seeing each other.
“You came,” was all she could say when she approached him.
One of his eyebrows rose theatrically, he said with mockery in his voice, “You don’t miss a thing, Granger.”
Groaning inwardly, she didn’t show further reactions to his comment, and tried to turn her back to him. Hermione wasn’t a person who gets ill-tempered easily but Draco’s arrogance and sometimes his sole existence itself could make her go spare for no apparent reason. But since she needed to be civil with him to spy on him, all she could do was be nice to him. As best as she could. As realistic as possible.
“Anyway,” she said, straightening her shoulders, “You didn’t have lunch today? I haven’t seen you in the Great Hall.” This time she needed to find out where he was spending his free time, like when all the students were assembled in one place like the Great Hall or when everyone was in their classes or dormitories, but Draco was always obviously missing. It was possible that he used these times working on his evil plans, if there were any. She couldn’t completely trust him.
“I had no idea you missed me.” He grinned, looking smug.
“Keep dreaming, Malfoy.” All she could do was roll her eyes and walk past him. But to her surprise he grabbed the package from under her arm and carried it for her. She ignored her own bafflement at his chivalry and followed him in silence inside the classroom.
Hermione hadn’t been in here since she had dropped the subject in her fourth year due to overload on her schedule. The cramped room was sun-filled, the walls painted in utilitarian grey. In the shelves that covered the walls were some books and very few antiquated Muggle items Hermione knew from her home, since her mother loved collecting antiquities, or from her grandmother’s house.
“What’s inside of this?” came Draco’s voice, breaking through her momentary trance.
She cleared her head, drawing her wand. “You will see. Step aside.”
“Patefacio!” With a swing of her wand, the package opened. She retrieved a cell phone, a camera, and binoculars. “Professor Burbage asked me to bring these simple devices, to show how Muggles communicate by long distance without using the Floo network, or Apparation, or a Patronus, or any of the sort. And this is,” Hermione pointed at the next object, “Is a Polaroid Camera, it’s an instant camera. To put it simply: Muggles take pictures with this; it works from the same concept as magical cameras. The pictures don’t move, though. It’s from my great grandmother. The last one is used to produce stereoscopic vision. Comes in handy if you want to spy someone from a distance…” she explained, completely wrapped up in her world.
Draco pretended to snore.
“Fine, you ass!” she muttered, squirreling away the items.
But Draco’s hand was faster: he placed his on hers. Hermione swallowed hard at the sudden contact. “Now let’s move on to the more interesting part,” he suggested, lifting a half-smile. “How does this one work?” He took the binoculars and knocked on it, showing more interest this time. When he noticed the big glasses, he looked through them. “But…everything’s so small,” he complained.
“You have to turn it around,” Hermione said, repressing the urge to giggle at him. The image of the Slytherin Prince using clumsily a simple Muggle device was hilarious. “Go over to the window and watch outside.”
He did as he was told, looking all amazed as he did. “I can see Hagrid’s Hut from here. Hairy Pothead and Weasel-fart are with him,” he chuckled in amusement. “Probably trying to figure out why I didn’t kill you during breakfast this morning.”
Hermione, stifling a groan too loudly, merely narrowed her eyebrows. When she was about to scold him for calling her friends such names, Draco’s question threw her off-guard. “Have you told them about…you know, us?” Draco, still peeping through the binoculars, asked, sounding nonchalant.
A long silence stretched between them that Draco turned around, looking unsure whether Hermione had heard him or not.
“Us,” Hermione repeated thoughtfully, more to herself than to him, “it’s such a strong word and an unreservedly inappropriate term to describe this ridiculous show of ours.” She brushed her chin contemplatively, leaning against the edge of the table. She felt Draco’s gaze burning at her from the side. “I thought it over. No, I haven’t told them. But I’ll explain it to them when it’s over. Hayden shouldn’t suspect anything. Right? He should think that my friends keep distance from me because we’re together.”
There was a slight reaction on Draco’s face when Hermione looked at him, brief as it may have seemed, as if for a tiny second in a cosmic time scale of the universe his eyes lit up by the words we’re together. But it might have as well just been her delusion. She shook her head. “If they all behave around us like they comprehend what is happening, then the situation won’t look realistic.”
Lying to her friends felt bad. It betrayed their friendship being seen with Draco, but that was what she had signed up for. Hadn’t Ginny, at breakfast earlier, just asked her if she was seeing someone? And hadn’t Hermione denied it, well, sort of. That it turned out that she was seeing someone, and that it was, of all people, Draco, and she and he had moved from being deadly foes to become…what? Lovers? Well, that was what they wanted everyone to believe. Especially Hayden. But did that little, small action of their’s, Hermione and Draco, in the Great Hall earlier sufficed to make everyone believe they were a couple now? How mind-wracking.
“We have to show them more,” she said aloud, simultaneously feeling her cheeks heating up.
Stepping back to the present and standing right in front of her, Draco grabbed the next object laying on the table. “Excuse me—what?” He turned the object in his hands, examining it. For a short moment it seemed like Draco hadn’t been listening at all. Hermione didn’t answer, feeling silly for even encouraging their ‘Game’, expanding it and making everything worse.
Draco, hustling in his hand, seemed to have noticed her tensed posture. “If it makes you feel better,” he said slowly, “my friends are mad at me for hanging out with you, too. And yes,” he added with a friendly smile, which knocked her breath off for a second, “I do believe we have to show them more.” He winked.
She laughed back nervously, as another moment of silence passed. “We expected this to happen, didn’t we?” Hermione rubbed her elbows, averting his eyes. “We have to trap Hayden soon. You have to get on his good side, be civil with him, win his trust until he tells you about his secret. If there is one that involves the two of us.” Clutching her chest and furrowing her brows together in deep thoughts, she realised that all of this was what Hayden wanted to happen for them. She bit her lip, and added in a sinister way, “If only there wasn’t this…this mystery around Hayden that keeps me from sleeping at nights. It’s been bothering me like an itch that won’t go away, but every time I reach for it to scratch it, I just can’t. He’s not just any boy trying to win some bet with a friend if he gets us hooked up together, because if that were the case, I wouldn’t have encouraged this—” she pointed at Draco and her “—in the first place.”
Draco sighed from her side; he was also leaning against the edge of the table that their elbows were touching. “That reminds me of something,” he said, “when I’ve talked to Myrtle—now don’t ask me why—she told me that maybe someone was messing around with our feelings. That’ll explain this…this…” he trailed off, clutching his fist near his chest as though he was squeezing his heart. Once he realised what he was about to admit, his head snapped to the side to look at Hermione’s confused face.
Furrowing her eyebrows, she asked sceptically, “What kind of feelings do you mean?”
“Well, remember, gold-faced Cupid wanted us to be together, and consequently, maybe, to make us fall in love with each other, too? And that’s why, I thought, well, he manipulated our feelings for each other. That now, I don’t feel as much hatred for you as I used to feel before.” His cheeks flashed crimson at this admission. Keeping his hands busy by fiddling the buttons of the camera, he coughed very slightly. Draco Malfoy was definitely not used in expressing his emotions, less so if he did it in front of his most-bullied victim.
Hermione’s lips twitched. Unable to grasp the meaning of his words, she asked simply, “You mean…you don’t hate me anymore?”
When he refused to say something, not even looking at her, she knew the answer, “Are you kidding me? Since when?” And if it was humanly possible, Draco’s face turned from crimson to cherry red. He almost dropped the camera. “That makes life easier, you know,” she remarked, giggling lightly. “Is that why you lessened your insults in the last couple of days—weeks, actually?”
Draco shrugged, frowning at the camera. “I know there is no chance in hell that we could evolve into something more than what we are now— archenemies?” he chuckled, bemused. “I’ve tried to be spiteful, you know, but…” Shaking his head, he lifted his head to face her. “Do you think it’s the magic or some kind of spell he’d put on us? I mean, do you still hate me, Hermione?” He sounded hopeful, expectant. Hermione was caught off-guard once again, and only because he used her first name this time.
She, for some reason, didn’t want to dash his hopes, despite the fact that she didn’t believe Hayden had something to do with Draco’s decreased hatred and loathing towards her.
Since when did she actually care about disappointing him?
There’s no such kind of magic, Malfoy! she thought, and yes, yes! I still hate you...with every fibre of my being.
“No, I don’t hate you anymore,” she answered, returning a smile. Oops.
But surprisingly, it felt true. She hoped to burn in hell for this admission. What if! What if...Draco was merely trying to lure out her secrets to later make fun of her in front of his friends?
Merlin, why was it so hard to just trust him?
Because he’s Draco Malfoy. Period.
She nudged him in the side. “We’ll find out what Hayden’s really up to, and when we have figured it out, the spell or whatever it is, will be broken. You can go back to hating and despising me again,” she giggled, nudging him playfully again. “Do you want me to show you how this camera works?” She took the Polaroid Camera from his hand, changing the topic quickly. “But there’s no pack film inside. Let me see…” Looking around towards the shelves of Muggle items and antiquities, she Accio’ed a ladder from nearby and climbed it up. “There must be somewhere an old film here made for these particular cameras…”
“Be careful,” Draco said, stepping next to the ladder and holding it tight. She certainly still had to get used to his new side—his kind side. It was hard to ignore that kind side.
“Do you believe in fate?” asked Draco out of the blue. That side was new too. “Everyone has a stick frame and threads. One can only make the patterns which are possible with the threads and loom available, but within those rules anything can be done,” he paused, “But there are two ways of escape. Someone can make his threads so tight that the loom breaks and his fabric is ruined. Or two people, especially two people whose patterns would not be thought to mix, can share, trade, mingle threads until they have a more beautiful life together than either could have apart.” He looked up again, repeating his first question, “Do you believe in that?”
“Oh” was all she could muster, as she looked down from the wooden ladder and imagined each space between the rungs a loom.
Hermione, moving to shift her weight, held her breath, when she suddenly slipped and landed directly in Draco’s arms. He looked at her intently “—and now here you are, carrying her in your arms,” he added with a sly smile. “I told you be careful.”
“I-It’s just the magic that’s talking there, Malfoy,” Hermione chided, her voice shaking slightly. She tried to convince herself more than him. Maybe...he was under some spell or something. If Hayden had really something to do with Draco’s changed of character, then why trying to stop him and break the spell? Draco was so much bearable now.
“I know, I’m sorry,” he said, putting her down carefully.
“Look what I’ve found.” Hermione, just so to ease the awkward tension in the air, presented a pack of film for her camera in the palm of her hand. “We can use this.” After a moment of fiddling and loading the film, she took the first snapshot of the table in front of them with the other objects on it. “It works!”
“Can I try?” Draco had taken a snapshot from the room and walls, and later he moved the camera towards Hermione. “Smile.”
“No! Please don’t take a picture of me,” she exclaimed, feeling self-conscious about her messy, frizzy hair, and not to think about her probably oily-looking skin. What if Lavender was right and she really was fat. Inconspicuously, she ran her palms over her waist.
“But how will you enlighten me with the difference between a magical camera and a muggle camera if you won’t pose for me?” he asked, raising an eyebrow as if to press his point.
Huffing, Hermione grumbled, “Fine. But just one picture, all right?”
“Move over there to the light.”
Hermione walked over to the windows and let the sun rays shine on her. Then she stripped off her robe so that she wouldn’t look too fat—if ever he took a whole-body picture of her—and smiled bashfully into the camera. “Make it quick,” she hissed.
And then, after a few attempts, he took a shot, forever capturing a still-image picture of her face and her smile. When the photo rolled off the camera, he glanced at it with awe in his eyes. He pocketed it inside his chest pocket, and patted the spot.
“Now you’re mine…” he said, trailing off as he reached out and kissed the back of her hand, perhaps to hide the lovely smile she’d never seen on his face before.
Hayden had no time to lose. If his birth was the seventeenth of August the following year—he did a mental calculation in his head, given that the birth went without any complications—therefore, his conception must be around November the twentieth this year, during the pre-Christmas Party probably.
As he’d feared...
Although he had been squelching the idea of just being conceived under the influence of alcohol and that he was an unplanned child, he couldn’t help but feel the sting in his heart. Wondering if he could make his parents fall in love properly for each other before that said date—he closed his eyes: he doubted it.
November was next month!
What if Naomi was right and his parents were just pretending to get along together? So that he, Hayden, would leave them in peace and stop harassing them to see each other on a regular basis, to speak well of each one to the other, to try and convince them to see the good side of the other. Could such a shared charade compel a couple to fall in love with each other wholeheartedly and faithfully—two people whose relationship was established on making each other’s life a living nightmare?
Holding in one hand the old Muggle snapshot of his mum he got since he could think back, and on the other a test tube of grinded Ashwinder eggs—one of the ingredients of the love potion, he contemplated whether the theory of his current idea was clever or not.
He would have to convince Draco to slip Hermione some of the love potion, that his love will be returned. But since knowing Draco—knowing his father—Hayden didn’t believe that Draco, despite his opinions and pretended hatred towards Hermione, would do something like that to the love of his life. Hence, Hayden must find a spell to control Draco…
Why did this idea sting him less? That it would be more bearable to think that his mum and dad had loved each other even if their feelings were non-natural, even if their own son had been responsible for it all. Would he live with this kind of truth better, rather than being under the notion that he had been conceived due to damnable five minutes of a temporary mental impairment caused by an excess of alcoholic drinks?
He doubted it, too. But what other choice did he have?
“November is next month,” his eyelids closed in memory, he repeated, again and again, “it’s next month. Next month...” He couldn’t help it. But when he was about to give up completely, a shimmer of hope shone through his cloudy mind. He had another option; how risky it may seem, it could be his only chance.
He had to show one of his teenaged parents their unescapable future.
It was never his intention to play God and change people’s fate, but, if he didn’t come up with a cleverer idea...then...
“Mum, or Dad?”
He weighed his options in his hands. “Which of them had the power to change their cumulative destiny for them together?”
He looked over the list of ingredients in his hand and thought of where to find the rest.
“You know, you don’t want to be conceived that way, do you?” after a cracking sound, Naomi’s voice—harsh and angry—startled him, coming from somewhere. He turned his head towards the source of the voice.
“Do not even think of doing that to your parents, for their sake. For your own good…” she warned, popping right there in front of him as though she had appeared out of the ground. A wand was clutched in her hand. She glared from the ingredient he was holding and then examined the expression he wore on his face—whatever she found there, she knew at once his intention. “Why do you always want me to scold you like a little boy, Hayden?”
With a quick movement, and without even giving time for Hayden to react, Naomi slapped the test tube out of his hand which smashed against the nearby wall, scattering the powdery content on the floor. The snapshot, though, flew on the table in front of him.
“I don’t have much time, Naomi…” Hayden said, his voice breaking. He was desperate and willing to do anything—anything—to save his parents. “If only you could be much more of a help…” he broke off, trying not to sound whiny.
“There was a dark wizard, a long, long time ago, who was conceived under the Amortentia,” Naomi recited darkly. She seemed to have composed herself a bit. She glared at Hayden and he backed down. “And you don’t want to end up like him, right? At least I won’t allow it.” She stuck out her tongue at him, easing the tension. Despite the teasing in her voice, Hayden noticed the sincere concern in it.
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t believe in magical myths and legends, silly!” he groaned. “Besides, Nana Cissy told me that Voldemort was an orphan. His father abandoned his pregnant wife, probably not knowing that she was pregnant, while Voldemort’s mother died at child birth. So he never experienced and learned about love. That turned him into an evil, power-craving wizard.”
“And you, being a half-orphan at the age of eight and having grown up under the assumption that your dad has abandoned you, don’t think that it wouldn’t turn you into such an evil creature, too?” Naomi countered. There was something in her words and the way she looked at him that he felt a shiver run down his spine.
After a momentary hesitation, Hayden said, self-assured, confident, “Despite those facts, I was raised by a wonderful mother, who had cared for me and loved me unconditionally, before she had ‘joined the angels’…” he trailed off, swallowing the lump in his throat. At that thought, Hayden closed his eyes, reminiscing the very sound of his dad’s voice nights—or maybe months—after his mother had passed away. “My—my father might not have been the best dad, but he had been there for me when I needed him the most.
I-I would never hurt other people,” he, re-opening his eyes, said through clenched teeth.
“I know” was all Naomi could say, inconspicuously holding her left, still bruised wrist. Her gaze fell on the picture on the table in front of them.
She picked it up quickly, looking at it. For a brief moment she remained silent.
“’She has a beauty that shines brighter the longer you stare at her.’” Naomi, lost in deep thoughts that seemed only familiar to her, said as if she was quoting somebody. “But she doesn’t understand that truth, doesn’t see herself that way. She doesn’t know that your dad thinks about her that way. Ron shouldn’t get in her way and mess her around like he’s already doing.” Though it was just a harmless statement of Naomi’s, Hayden noticed the hair of his neck stand upright by her words.
From the snapshot in her hand, she stared up at Hayden, smiling sadly. “Do you know who took this picture?”
He shook his head slowly, for a moment thinking she was merely diverting the topic. He was still wondering who had hurt her like that. “I don’t even know where I got it from,” he said, sighing, and throwing another glance at his best friend’s exposed blotchy wrists. “Do you? Though I can already guess who… I guess Ron. Since my dad would never touch a Muggle device.”
Naomi chuckled in amusement, shaking her head, then beamed. The smile on her angelic face was infectious, but Hayden couldn’t smile. “Wrong, silly! There is still hope for them.” It was clear in her voice that she was referring to Draco and Hermione.
“H-how do you know?”
The door knob behind them suddenly turned, and the door opened with a creaking noise.
“I’ve got to go,” Naomi hissed in a whisper. Crack! And then she was gone.
“Is that you, Hayden?” A very gentle-sounding voice emanated from the doorframe. Ginny stepped in, in her tow a forbearing Harry and a very pissed-off Ron.
“Well, she’s not here, either,” Ron croaked; ears scarlet. “Why would she hide down here anyway?”
“Hi, Ginny,” Hayden said, disregarding Ron’s whining. He realised that the picture of his mum was gone, Naomi must have taken it. “What’s up with him?”
“He—” Ginny indicated with a nod towards her brother, who remained standing at the door, preoccupied with peeking up and down the corridor. “—is worried about Hermione.” Stepping closer to Hayden, she sat two tables away from him on a vacant chair. There was clearly worry in her eyes. But not the kind of worry you feel for a friend lying in their sickbed, but the sort of worry that something really bad will happen.
“Ginny, c’mon, I reckon she’s upstairs,” Ron suggested, and without another look at Hayden, or waiting for his sister and his mate, he ran off.
“Ron!” Harry called after him. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea stalking Hermione,” he added in a mumble, torn between following his best mate and staying with Ginny. The way he looked at her, Hayden assumed that Harry and Ginny were now dating.
Too bad she’ll have to face a terrible future, drawing her every ounce of sanity. Losing her brother. Losing her husband.
If only Hayden had the power to change that too, he gladly would have. But he couldn’t even make it work for his parents.
Hayden locked eyes with the youngest Weasley, intently, studying every pore of her still sleek face. Her red mane crowned her head, caramel-brown eyes were staring back in confusion.
“What’s wrong, Hayden?” Ginny’s voice broke through his reverie.
He cleared his head, noticing that Harry had stepped beside his girlfriend, seeming to be unsure on how to react at Hayden’s behaviour.
“Honestly, for a moment you looked bedevilled,” Harry remarked in mock concern, grinning. “Everything’s all right?”
“Y-yeah.” Hayden rubbed his temples. What just happened to him? “We p-probably should get going. I’d rather not have Ron meet Hermione and Draco together—if they are together at this very moment.”
They hurried out of the empty classroom in silence. Harry, holding hands with Ginny, stared at Hayden from the side, as though he was afraid Hayden might faint any moment. Also, Hayden noticed how Ginny shook her head, like she’d answered a question that Hayden had missed; then they were exchanging another worried look.
“So, Malfoy and Hermione are an item,” Ginny said. It was rather a statement then a question.
Hayden noticed Harry shaking his head in disapproval, but ignored him nonetheless, “I do hope so. They complement each other, don’t they?”
There was a groan that came from Harry. With narrowed eyes, he said, “I don’t think so. He treats her like the shit under his shoe. Hermione respects herself too much to let him treat her like that. That arrogant jerkass.”
“Why? Because you think Hermione’s better off with your mate, who purposely snogged another girl in front of her just to hurt her feelings?” Hayden retorted, defending his father. “I don’t think so.”
Ginny by raising her hand in a sort of mock plea for attention, intervened before Harry could say something he would regret. “Were you talking to someone before we got inside the classroom, Hayden?” she asked, changing the topic quickly. “Sounded like you haven’t been alone in there.”
Hayden drew in a deep breath. “Er…no.”
Ginny, shrugging, scanned him suspiciously. “I thought I’ve heard someone Disapparating. But then again, Apparation within Hogwarts is simply not possible, due to all kinds of unbreakable spells and charms cast over the castle. Stuff from the founders—Flitwick mentioned it in class. So, what was that noise I’ve heard? Did you hear it too, Harry? Harry?”
Harry didn’t reply at once. Maybe he had been, based on his rigid posture and slightly troubled expression, worrying about Hermione too. Still, as he contemplated the absurd and treacherous idea of one of his best friends dating their enemy, and how fast he could put an end to it, he mumbled,. “Yeah, I thought I’ve only imagined that sound, but since you heard it, too...”
They all walked up the staircase, after another moment, and just before Hayden could reply, they all heard a loud explosion from one of the classrooms in the first floor.
Harry was the first who reacted immediately and ran ahead, Ginny followed suit and Hayden was just frozen on the spot.
But once, that seemed like hours had passed until his heavy and shaky legs dragged him to the first floor, he could see the other end of the corridor, where the classroom door stood open, and a person laying on the ground.
Like hearing from a distance even though she only was a few yards away from him, Hayden heard Ginny gasp, then screamed once she identified the body on the floor. She ran towards the lifeless body, faster than before.
“NO! RON! NO!”
“Bloody—NO!” Harry yelled, drowning out Ginny’s screams. He bent down to pick his friend’s body off the floor once he reached him, shaking him, as though that way he could awaken his friend’s unresponsive form. “Ron! RON!”
A few students, who noticed the hysteria, gathered around the incident—gasping, wailing. The older ones called for Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, both had quickly arrived at the place shortly after. Professor McGonagall’s jaw slackened in shock, eyes mirroring the same expression as Harry and Ginny’s, while Professor Dumbledore’s face turned ash-white.
“What happened, Mr Potter?” McGonagall’s voice quavered, clutching her chest.
“Everyone, leave the classroom,” Dumbledore ordered in his authoritative voice. “Now!”
Ginny was kneeling beside her brother’s dead body, shaking all over but not shedding a single tear.
The blood in Hayden’s body froze like ice, his vision was blurring. Neither Hermione nor Draco were anywhere in sight. It didn’t look like there had been a fight going on, that Ron had stumbled upon them, provoked Draco and duelled him. That Hermione had run off, hiding, instead of staying, mourning over the loss of her best friend.
Cho, who stood nearby, held her mouth close to keep herself from screaming, her face whiter than an egg shell. A lean, dark-haired Ravenclaw guy, who Hayden recognised as Michael Corner, disappeared amongst the mass of students who left the room too, unperturbed and jaw clenched together.
Rather than burst forth into the wide wide world, Ron’s sky-blue eyes stared into emptiness; rather than the most vibrant face of life, mere pallor was left; the arms that had embraced and fought were reduced to being sprawled on the floor. Ron looked like a dropped and abandoned porcelain doll. It didn’t seem that he’d fought hard for his survival or that he’d had a fatal accident, such as slip and hit his head hard. Clearly, from the position he was laying on the floor, with the tables and chairs unmoved around him, with fresh blood dripping from his nose and the corner of his lips, it had been quick, and, hopefully, painless, too.
Ron is dead.
But, who had killed him? And worse: what had been the murderer’s motive?
Ron shouldn’t get in her way and mess her around like he’s already doing.
That was the last thing that echoed in Hayden’s mind, spoken by the voice he would even recognise in his dreams—or nightmares—before he slipped away into unconsciousness.
(A/N: Remember in previous chapters, when Hayden remembered the magical snapshot his mother held in her hand with her two friends on them? Harry's 17th birthday... It wasn't Ron's time to die yet.
Any comment or feedback would be appreciated. And sorry for the long wait. :)
Chapter 17: What Was, And Is, And Is To Come
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
(A/N: My thanks to Fallstar who beta’ed this chapter. He’s also a great help with the plot.
Recourses: title by Geoffrey Bingham | Harry Potter Lexicon | jokejam.com | the characters (except the OCs and the plot) and places are property of JK Rowling)
Absolutely stunningly beautiful chapter image by the talented the_tofuubeaver @ TDA.
The clock above the teacher’s desk, right on the wall between two tarnished paintings, read quarter to three. Feeling as though he had a difficulty breathing in this rusty, narrowed classroom, he loosened the knot of his tie a bit. He blamed the brooding heat for everything: even his own nervousness when around Hermione, and the close proximity which encouraged to this girl, and the slight annoyance he felt because she had chosen to ignore him after all. But the heat in his body lingered even when she stood far away from him, cleaning the shelves. He felt dizzy.
“We have two hours of unendurable, nerve-racking Potions class in about fifteen minutes,” Draco groaned under his breath when he realised the time, and, trying to get some response from her, said, “Does that clock even tell time? I had it under assurance that time was standing…” he broke off, blowing sharply through his lips in frustration. Hermione wasn’t even listening.
How pride-wounding and ego-shattering… Had he really stooped down so low and broken his façade to expose his vulnerability and heart just for her, the Muggleborn?
He looked at Hermione’s back while she was tidying up the chaos on the shelves though she wasn’t asked to do anything of the sort with the Muggle antiquities and other strange-looking artefacts, most of which Draco had never seen in his entire life before.
“I’m done, then,” she finally announced, dusting off her uniform. She coughed, then giggled nervously when she noticed her hair was all covered with a layer of dust. “Gross!” she said, making a face, and coughing a few more times.
She pointed her wand at her clothes. “Scourgify!” she exclaimed, waving her wand skilfully. A second later, she was all presentable and neat and alluring again. This time it was Draco who coughed, suppressing the urge to slap himself.
Draco had a feeling that she’d only tried to find something to keep herself busy, just to kill time until their next class started. After all, she hadn’t looked up once from her task since he’d played Prince Charming and kissed the knuckles of her hand. She hadn’t spoken another word with him, possibly to avoid awkward conversations.
The eloquent and talkative Granger, silent—for once.
Draco raised an eyebrow at his own observation. Because, even though he didn’t know Hermione that well, he surely knew that she wasn’t the kind of person who avoided confrontations however awkward they might be. Hermione must be silent for another reason.
Maybe it was the calm before the storm.
He looked at her very closely; her cheeks were rosy. Was it an indication that she was intimidated by him? It gratified his ego to think that—intimidating people was his favourite—but as he felt his head spinning and his skin burning with fever, he guessed that he was merely having a delusion caused by unrequited longing for one Hermione Granger. He couldn’t intimidate this girl, one of the best things about her, which was rather challenging, that’s for sure.
Hermione strode, as steadily as she did quickly, towards the door without another glance at him; she carelessly left her precious books and robe on the table Draco was leaning against; her cheeks were still the crimson of recrimination. At the door, she paused though, turning her head slowly around once she’d realised what was missing.
Draco took her book bag in his hand, while draping her robe lazily over his other arm. He couldn’t help the sly smirk that skimmed his face. Now she had to face him, there was no way around to that. “Not that I’m used to carrying other people’s belongings like I’m some kind of servant…but you can at least wait for me, you know.”
She half-turned around, her hand remained on the door knob. He saw her rolling her eyes. “Have you snapped out of it now?” she asked guardedly.
“Snapped out of what?”
“Out of your former behaviour, I mean. The Draco-Do-you-believe-in-fate-Malfoy, and all the sugarinesses of wuv. Are you going to take everything back you’ve said before? As always?” Her smile was barely a smile, it looked so forced and bitter, and this cut him deep. Why was she so upset?
“While you were purposefully ignoring me by doing your clean up over there, have you been secretly plotting a plan on how to humiliate me?” he asked her, holding her sceptical gaze.
“No,” she said, “I’m only trying to prove a point.”
Hermione steeled herself. Standing erect like a proud and deadly Amazon, she proclaimed, “You can’t be constant with what you say, and I won’t play hot-and-cold with you any longer. You say something…heartfelt…and then the moment you realise it, you become a jerk: you start to regret it, then take everything back or run away.”
Draco’s jaw dropped; she made him sound like a damned in love. Maybe he was. Damnit! He was about to ask her when he’d ever run away from something he’d regretted doing with her. But then the memory of him kissing her once on the Astronomy Tower—as short as it might have been, it had happened—came flashing back his mind! And he had run away then, hadn’t even showed up for two days. How pathetic.
Blimey, and that’s only been last Friday.
“Well, then, I hope you can handle disappointments. I’m not going to take anything back!” he retorted sharply. “And to your information, I didn’t run away. I’m still here, right?”
Hermione’s face twitched in different emotions: surprise, anger, fury, irritation; she seemed to be struggling with words she could smack at him. She glared at him carefully for a few seconds, until she spoke again, calmer this time, “That’s exactly the reason. There’s nothing to gain for you after this, Malfoy. You know that. Right?”
This wasn’t what Draco had expected. Hermione went on, “I mean about this…whole wildly hare-brained thing we’re doing. I admit that—” she smoothed down her uniform skirt and looked away guiltily, “—that I, on one hand, have something to gain when all’s said and done, which is an answer to Hayden’s obscurely strange behaviour towards us. You know how…it frustrates me if I don’t get to satiate my curiosity.” She looked ashamed when admitting this as if it was a crime. “I just want you to know my sole objective.”
“Well—” Draco started, but was cut off when Hermione raised a hand in her bossy way to silence him. He pursed his lips. Her distraught expression made him only take a deep breath, so he let her go on.
“You, on the other hand,” Hermione said slowly, clutching the doorknob tighter, “I mean, why? Why did you agree to endure this—” she gestured between them again. Draco noticed that Hermione used to do that when words failed her to describe the unwanted bond between her and Draco, “—I can’t imagine that you really care about Hayden’s intentions. I mean, blimey, after years of enmity, here you are, acting less the smarmy git you used to be, calling me by my first name…talking about...fate…and changes…and…looking at me like I’m a colourful rainbow at the dark-grey sky…like a little flower in the nook…sort of.” She smiled shyly, blushing more. “You get my point.”
This took Draco out of the blue. To collect himself, he focused on the less petty fact about this conversation. It felt more ‘normal’ when Hermione was in this speech mode even though Draco thought that she talked like a waterfall, but it was better than giving him the silent treatment.
“I can certainly understand your doubts and fear that I might hurt you,” he stated, exhaling through his nose. Indeed, he didn’t blame her ability to mistrust him.
He ran his palm gingerly at the back of his neck, feeling frustrated. Why was she only making this so hard on him? She made him feel humiliated and regret for having showed to her his emotional side even he didn’t know existed, which suddenly reminded him that this was exactly what Hermione had been talking about. He was trapped. And now that she knew about his feelings, she had the power to hurt him.
“You don’t hate me anymore, yet you still don’t like me,” she repeated slowly to comprehend, interrupting his thoughts of wishing he could make words unsaid, and actions undone.
He refused to respond to that.
“Malfoy,” Hermione spoke, suspicions clear in her voice. “Tell me what you really want from me.”
“Nothing,” he spluttered.
“To sum it all up, then,” she started, sounding like a teacher when summarising the day’s lesson, “you don’t mind that your friends turned their back on you because you’re wasting your time with me, to simulate a false relationship so it’d look convincing to Hayden. Hayden, who has been trying to hook us up together without apparent reasons, even though the world knows we don’t belong together? And you have agreed to have a sham relationship with me without doubting my lame reason of my curiosity about Hayden’s match-making?” She blinked a few times to let that sink.
And Draco let the words sink: false relationship…don’t belong together…lame reason.
There she was—the proverbial last straw his sanity depended upon—dashing his hopes to be a better person. He swallowed the bile down his throat and merely shrugged.
She added, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s very kind of you to help me. But people like you don’t help people like me without ulterior motives.”
“Hermione, you really need to get rid of your prejudices about me, you know.” He sighed, ignoring the pain in his chest. “That’s why people like you are the reason why people like me need medication,” he threw back at her when he remembered the silly quote he read on Goldilock’s t-shirt. He rubbed his temple.
She chuckled. Her face smoothened a little.
“Now would you give me a moment to doubt your objective?” he said expressionlessly.
She bit down her lower lip, but nodded.
“In fact, I might not know you as well as your closest friends do,” Draco started, frowning at his shoes. “I ought to believe you, that you’re sacrificing your time just to figure out some bloke’s frivolous intention to get us end up together, but I don’t believe it’s your only reason. You can’t be that desperate for knowledge.”
He tried to glance up at her, to see her reaction. And he was right; there was something more. Hermione bit on her lower lip harder, holding tighter to the door knob. She looked down the hallway as if coveting escape.
Draco prodded, “You could’ve as easily just confronted that match-maker git, to spare you this whole drama. Ask him why he’s forcing you upon me, and tell him that I’m not your cup of tea. Problem solved! But instead you’ve agreed to be with me!” He put an extra emphasis on that, because unlike Hermione, he didn’t feel uncomfortable saying it aloud, which was rather irritating. “And to remind you, I didn’t have to convince you to fake our relationship. You’ve signed up to it; deal with it! ‘If you can’t stand the dragon, stay out of the cave!’ Isn’t that how the saying goes? And now that I’m trying to make it easier for you to bear my presence, you’re totally freaked out.” He shook his head, clenching his jaw. “You have by far more unadmitted, unadmittable desires for me than you claimed to have, haven’t you? I knew it all along, but I figured that I didn’t care.”
Hermione inhaled deeply, then her eyes suddenly filled with unexpected tears.
What did he say? He didn’t mean to hurt her.
“We didn’t sign a contract that binds us together, Hermione,” he said softly, a bit more composed this time, his temper faltering. “You can back out anytime you want. You choose the person you want to be happy with—not that Golden Boy. Who is he to decide that, right? Don’t let him get to you.” He smiled, and to his own surprise Hermione was smiling, too. Her tears were flowing now.
He stepped closer to her to hand her over her belongings.
She seemed to be looking through him, rather than at him.
And before he could blink, she threw herself at him, kissing him desperately. She was kissing him with such passion that he couldn’t help kissing her back.
With another pulling sensation, Naomi landed, surprisingly graceful, on her hind limbs. She looked up and found herself on the seventh floor again, right in front of the tapestry with Barnabas the Barmy and the dancing trolls on it. With a sad smile on her face, she reminisced the era she came from and the last few months before leaving school, when Teddy Lupin had pressed her against the tapestry to share a kiss with her. It was an awkward, rather forced kiss, but she remembered.
If she were to succeed this mission, would Hayden be in the place of Teddy as her boyfriend? Or would they remain best friends, and, knowing how overprotective Hayden was, let her not date other blokes at all?
Naomi chuckled at the thought.
Looking down the hallway, and making sure no one had seen or heard her Apparate, she quickly thought of the Room of Hidden Things, and turned around. The long section of wall was blank when unused, so she thought of the required room and its au fait appearance from inside, since she had already been there before.
Then the room appeared in front of her.
“I’ll get back to Hayden later,” Naomi sighed, giving herself a rest from Hayden. “When Mr. Malfoy asked of me to do this for him, he didn’t warn me that babysitting his son was this…bloody complicated.”
Naomi took the time to examine her surroundings. The room was the size of a large cathedral with vaults and crypts everywhere, and everywhere full of a multitude of abandoned objects hidden by Hogwarts students over the past centuries. She knew where and what she was looking for. There, behind a pile of damaged and broken furniture, threadbare robes, broken potion glasses, and banned books, Naomi found the Vanishing Cabinet. It was covered by a dirty-white sheet.
After a moment of testing its condition with the designated spell, Naomi was surprised that the object was still not working. The bird cage, which she’d used, didn’t disappear from the platform.
“Darn!” Naomi huffed in frustration, examining the object from each side. “He’s supposed to be working all night long on this assignment, almost every day he’d sneaked out to repair this thing, and now it doesn’t even seem like he’s touched it. What has he been doing then if not working here?”
Naomi tried herself with a few simple spells to fix the object, and was partly done, when she realised that Draco would notice the changes and probably find out that someone had discovered the Vanishing Cabinet.
I’ll leave the rest up to you, Draco.
Then she turned around and left the place.
As Hayden felt his mind twirl from complete darkness to flashes of familiar images—images of his buried memories—his head suddenly started throbbing painfully the more he realised what he was seeing behind his eyes.
He remembered a magical snapshot, one that was of his mother’s when she was still alive. The one that she had clung to in all those fateful nights after every row with Hayden’s father, as though seeking comfort. On days when she had believed to be alone in the living room in front of the hearth, she would look dejectedly at that snapshot.
When Hayden had found the snapshot long time after his mother died, he had realised that it was one of her and her two friends in their teenager years. All three were moving, and laughing, and shoving each other playfully, and waving at Hayden. Especially, he remembered the floating, magicked banner in the background, ‘Happy 17th birthday, Harry’ it said, with blazing red-and-gold letters written on it; a cake formed as a golden winged ball; and then the garden with the blossoming flowers…
But what was more important was that, between his young mother and her bespectacled, messy-haired friend, Hayden recognised the tall and gangly ginger boy on the photograph!
Ron Weasley was still alive when the snapshot had been taken!
Assuming Harry was a year younger than Hermione, and Harry and Ron were about the same age, and Harry was now sixteen, then Ron would be and should be still alive before his seventh birthday.
Was it possible to mess with fate like this, get someone killed, even though his time hadn’t come yet?
Hayden remembered a conversation he had had with Naomi during breakfast this morning, while they were hiding in the kitchen.
“I’ve only been trying to help you.”
“How’s this supposed to be helping me, Naomi? You’re stealing my precious time, you know, while my parents drift apart more and more from each other. I need to do something to accelerate their courtship…”
“But it doesn’t help much if you force them together like two repelling magnets. Give them time! You need to go strategically to make it work. Draco enjoys the entertainment of girls too much to settle for a single ordinary girl, especially for a Muggleborn he’s claimed to loathe for years. And Hermione has Ron. As long as he’s around for her, no matter how much they bicker, they care for each other. And she will never leave him for Draco’s sake.”
“Then what do you suggest, you genius?”
“Well, that’s pretty obvious, Hayden. We need to get rid of Ron.”
“He only fainted, but he’s doing well. No sign of any curse...that I can detect. It must have just been the shock,” a female voice spoke that Hayden couldn’t much recognise—she must be in very close proximity, as he heard the rustles of clothes and then a hand being placed on his shoulder to shake him gently.
“M’dear, can you hear me?” she asked, shaking Hayden again.
The voices of the others were like a faint droning in Hayden’s ears, as if they had been already discussing the incident that happened to Ron shortly before Hayden came to. He caught a few words of their conversation. Ron’s name was mentioned often, and a sobbing was clearly heard by one of the people around them—maybe Cho, maybe Ginny. With a sudden stabbing sensation in his chest, Hayden realised that his nightmare was reality.
“An explosion, you say, but the classroom seems to be perfectly well intact,” another voice pointed out, another female’s voice, more familiar than the first. Hayden remembered the voice from one of his teachers; it must be Professor McGonagall’s. It was apparent that the question was given to the group. “Where would the explosion come from? None of the students who left this room got hurt, well, except for—” she trailed off, her voice strained with misery. “Albus, is it possible that only Weasley—”
There was a short pause. Hayden assumed that Dumbledore was contemplating about the incident himself. “A spell that can make a single person explode,” he mumbled thoughtfully.
“Sir, is that even possible?” someone asked; the others remained silent. Hayden recognised Harry’s voice. “That only means that someone killed Ron on purpose,” he hissed.
Hayden, head spinning with all the memories that had flashed in his mind, shook his throbbing head, as if this would help him get rid of the headache. He opened his eyes slowly and shot up from his lying position, startling the old woman who knelt beside him. Her hand clutched to her chest in a moment of shock.
Dumbledore walked with McGonagall to the door, their backs turned towards the room, as they spoke in a low whisper. McGonagall only nodded, her hand clutched to her chest. She looked remorsefully over her shoulder towards Ron’s unmoving body, then back to Dumbledore and nodded again. Dumbledore, turning around to face the room, eyed Cho through his moon-shaped spectacles as he spoke to McGonagall. “Minerva, Michael Corner should be requested to my office as well.”
Hayden held the back of his head, pressing his eyelids together in pain.
“You better come with me, m’dear,” the matron witch suggested.
“I’m fine,” Hayden mumbled without looking up. “Just…give me a minute.”
“Honey, you look worse than you think. Let me help you get up.” She looked back to the headmaster when Hayden refused her help, her face still etched with horror. “What about Mr. Weasley, Albus? There’s not much I can do for him here. We’d better get him to the hospital wing. I need to identify the curse or spell that was used on him.”
Hayden struggled up to his shaky legs, holding on to the table beside him, while the matron witch tried to support him on his arm. “I’m fine, ma’am. Thank you!” he snapped, shaking her hand off as he was feeling a bit nettled.
“Poppy, let him get up himself then. It seems that he’s all right,” McGonagall said.
“Get everybody to their Houses,” Dumbledore ordered. “The classes will be continued tomorrow until further notice.” He turned towards Cho and then to Hayden, but was talking to everybody. “Potter, Miss Weasley and Miss Chang, and—” his eyes lasted for an extra second on Hayden’s.
“—Hayden Mal-Malcolm, sir,” Hayden introduced himself, uncertain about his own lie. Malcolm wasn’t even a surname, he realised too late. He rubbed his neck this time, feeling the pain from a certain angle.
“Hayden… Malcolm,” the headmaster repeated doubtfully. For a moment Hayden didn’t believe that the spell that was protecting his identity would work on Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard. But after a split second, when the old wizard’s eyes softened, he nodded, “Mr. Malcolm. Everyone of you, proceed to my office now,” Dumbledore said. “Potter, you said that Miss Weasley, Mr. Malcolm and you were on your way here when you heard the explosion. Did you notice other witnesses aside from the three of you?”
“No, sir,” Harry half-hissed, the only one who seemed to have quite overcome the primary shock. His hands trembled and he balled them tightly to fists, malice oozed in his voice as he stared directly at Dumbledore with an icy glare. “Just us. Before that, we were with Ron, but he ran ahead to look for Hermione. She’d left lunch so quickly that we got suspicious she might be up to something related to Malfoy. So Ron went after her without waiting for us. When we got here, we found Ron already on the ground, and Cho, she was here…and a few curious bystanders as well,” he explained.
Dumbledore, hands folded behind his back, threw a fleeting look at Cho, who was strangely sweating bullets. But his question was still directed at Harry. “Why did you associate Miss Granger’s unexpected leaving with Mr. Malfoy?”
“Because they’d been strangely and unnaturally cosy this morning at breakfast,” Harry spat, his impatience bursting through. “That’s why we all went looking for her. It was Ron’s idea.”
“Did Ron see them together?” Hayden asked. He had a really bad feeling about the situation.
“Yeah.” Harry shook his head of the memory. “He was really upset, but he never showed it in front of her. He wasn’t his usual self the last couple of days, not the Ron I knew, at least. Dunno, I might be mistaken, though.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Dumbledore seized Cho with a suspicious look. “Miss Chang, what have you been doing in this room with Weasley, before that loud noise?”
“Sir, M-Michael and I, um… we had a little discussion that turned into a terrible argument,” Cho stuttered, averting his eyes. Her arms were clutched around her torso, as though she was hugging herself. Hayden noticed that she was trying to clasp the upper part of her blouse shut where two buttons were missing. “The fight escalated, and he was shouting at me. He grabbed my arms so tightly that I told him to let go because he was hurting me…” Cho swallowed hard, eyes fixating the ground. “Then…between some struggles…I can’t really remember…Ron Weasley burst in.”
“So, Corner did this?” Harry growled. “Did Corner do this to Ron, Cho? Tell me!”
From the corner of Hayden’s eyes, he noticed that McGonagall had transfigured a chair into a white sheet to cover Ron’s body with, then told Ginny, whose hand still held that of her brother’s, to take a seat on a chair. Ginny didn’t move an inch.
Dumbledore eyed Cho, eyes dubious. “Have Weasley and Corner duelled with their wands, Miss Chang?”
Cho’s face was blank. “I-I don’t remember, s-sir. Yes, maybe. But it went so fast. I don’t know anymore.” She stared on Ron’s body, and then away from it, biting on her lower lip anxiously.
Harry strode to her in two steps, gripping her arms to make her look at him. “What do you mean you can’t remember? Bloody Merlin, can’t you see that Ron got killed? Can’t you see that? Who are you trying to protect?” he snarled, shaking Cho.
Cho looked away. “I don’t know what happened. Please Harry, let go.” Tears welled up in her eyes and she started to cry.
“Potter, stop it! STOP IT!” came McGonagall’s yelling voice this time.
Dumbledore somehow managed to make Harry drop Cho with a tiny movement of his head, seeming as though the old wizard used a non-verbal spell. Harry dropped Cho instantly.
“Her bloody boyfriend killed Ron! And she refuses to tell what she saw? Tell us what Corner’s done to Ron, Cho! TELL US!” Harry’s jaw tightened as he threw a furious look at the frightened girl.
“I-I don’t know!” Cho wailed, then more tears ran down her cheeks. “I don’t know what happened. Please, I don’t really know.”
“I’ll get that arsehole,” Harry declared, running towards the door, but Dumbledore stopped him again. Harry tried to struggle against invisible forces, panting in rage and fury. “Whatever happened here, whoever did this to R-Ron, I’m going to get him and…I…let go of me! LET GO!”
“Potter, now stop it!” McGonagall said, though her voice broke in half. She straightened up as she turned her back to Harry to face the rest of the group. “You all heard the headmaster’s order. Proceed to his office now. We will get Mr. Weasley to the hospital wing and get his parents informed.”
Professor Dumbledore put a levitating spell on Ron to make the body hover in midair, the white sheet not covering him completely.
“This…this can’t be!” Hayden spoke very quietly, but everyone else turned around to look at him. He felt all eyes staring at him questioningly. Even Harry had stopped his struggles, but his fiery eyes were focused on Hayden now.
“’Course, this can’t be!” Harry panted out of breath. His eyes fell on his friend’s limb body again. “No, please, not Ron! Not him!”
“Harry, how old are you?” Hayden glared at Harry, who was about to storm off the classroom once the body-binding spell was removed from him. Harry turned around.
“How is that of any relevance?” Harry snarled, questioning Hayden’s sanity. Harry was infuriated, who wouldn’t be in his position? He’d most likely find the murderer of his best mate himself, and get him punished in the cruellest way possible.
“Just tell me!” Hayden snarled back, pressing his lips to a hard line.
“You must have hit your head pretty hard,” Harry scoffed.
“Ron…he…he can’t be dead. And I know, though I can’t promise anything, how to make this unhappen,” Hayden, inhaling deeply, tried to say, his mind racing. He shifted his glance towards Ron. “It’s not his time yet. He…wasn’t supposed to… But I can make it unhappen. You didn’t see how he died. Right, Cho? Isn’t it? You can’t remember!”
“What?” Cho formed the word, but no sound was heard.
“It’s all about deception and memory modification,” Hayden mumbled to himself. There was only one person who was master of those two brands of magic.
His head snapped up, as he walked towards Harry to grasp the collar of his shirt, and shook him. “God damnit! JUST TRUST ME AND TELL ME YOUR BLOODY AGE!”
“Sixteen,” Ginny whispered, answering for Harry, but it was loud enough for Hayden to hear. She spoke for the first time. “He’s sixteen,” she said a bit louder, “and Ron’s sixteen, too, turning seventeen next year in March.” Something in her eyes flickered up to life, and she dropped her brother’s hand.
Hayden nodded quickly. That was all he needed to know. “I-I need to find someone,” he said. “Get Ron to the hospital wing, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
She was looking through him, rather than at him.
If you can’t stand the dragon, stay out of the cave!
Every word he’d said came randomly back to her. Every gesture he’d made, every warm look he’d thrown at her. One by one, slowly climbing the barriers she had put around her heart that caused her to surrender completely. She had provoked him until he would switch back to his being an imprudent, spiteful oaf, because it was easier accepting that everything he’d said wasn’t sincere and a fat lie just to hurt her.
But he didn’t switch back. Instead he was staring now at her with that understanding and compassionate look she’d only discovered very recently, despite everything she had said just to make him feel bad. He had acted hopelessly romantic—even though, and, worse, especially though, it didn’t suit him—just to make her blush, and she repaid it by ignoring him afterwards. And despite her unbearable behaviour he had tried to be witty just to elicit smiles from her when she had felt the most irritated.
At least she had tried fighting.
Her cognitive ability ceased when she launched herself at him, bringing their lips in a crushing beat together. For a moment she didn’t care if her cheeks were soaked with angry tears and that he was the reason for her crying.
“And to your information, I didn’t run away. I’m still here, right?”
“…you’ve agreed to be with me!”
Although Hermione had tried to degrade their fake relationship and their underlying motive behind it, Draco had made the whole thing sound so euphoric…and right. He had managed to counter her own words and used it against her, and even made her smile in the process.
“And now that I’m trying to make it easier for you to bear my presence, you’re totally freaked out.”
“You choose the person you want to be happy with—not that Golden Boy.”
Hermione poured her pure anger, and her frustration, and her hurt into the kiss, mashing her lips harder against his. She hated Draco for responding with eager passion, fuelling her fire, as his hands cup her face, feasting on her mouth. She hated herself for relishing in the feel when her fingers reached up into his hair, and her nails scraping against his scalp.
“We didn’t sign up a contract that binds us together, Hermione. You can back out anytime you want.”
Reluctantly, she dragged her swollen lips away from his to take a breath. He was panting, too. They shared a look with each other, neither of them saying a word. Her eyes drifted shut when he brushed very gently her tear-stained cheeks with his fingers, and then pressing his lips on her forehead.
“If I get kissed like that whenever I upset you, I’d gladly spend the rest of my life driving you mad,” Draco mused, smiling against her forehead. She chuckled with foolish new tears in her eyes, feeling embarrassed and light-headed and at total ease all at the same time.
“Kidding aside,” he said, “Did I upset you? If I did, then I’m sorry. You know what a moronic idiot I am. With my mouth so big I could sing a duet by myself.”
Hermione laughed against his chest, burrowing her face in the warmth of it. Her heart pounding rapidly and blood still boiling with heat, he held her tighter. She could hear his heartbeat pacing up.
After what felt like a long moment spending in each other’s arms, she moved away from him, missing his warmth instantly. She looked into those light-grey irises, and wondered what the hell she had been so worried about.
Draco gave her a smile, before he bent down to pick her robe and her book bag from the ground which she hadn’t notice he’d dropped in the middle of their…well, temporary lapse of sanity? He shouldered her bag and placed an arm around her shoulder as he led her towards the staircase to their next classroom.
From her peripheral view a few yards down the hallway rounding the corner, Hermione noticed a movement. This made her look towards it, as she saw Ginny first, walking sluggishly in her direction. Harry was close behind her, eyes filled with anger and a desperate need to kill. Hermione knew that look too well. And then several people came into view, too.
“Hermione!” she saw Ginny mouthed. Harry held her close to him.
The hair on Hermione’s neck started to stand upright, even though she didn’t know yet what had actually happened.
In one terrifying moment she saw him. She saw a motionless, limp body hovering in midair, as Dumbledore led it with his wand. She didn’t see his face because of the white sheet that covered him, but she recognised those flaming red hair that stuck at one end because the sheet didn’t cover his entire frame completely. His big hands and feet—she recognised those shoes—were hanging limply at the sides.
“Oh, but…what…h-happened?” Hermione stuttered, unable to make her mind work. Then she took in all the details when the group of people approached her.
Ginny’s pained-looking yet determined face; Harry’s hate-filled eyes; the remorse drawn on McGonagall’s face; sorrow on Madam Pompfrey’s, and misery on Dumbledore’s; and there was Cho somewhere in between, looking anxious and… something Hermione couldn’t point out.
Hayden, who paced faster than the others, threw Dumbledore a last glance as though asking for permission, then started running towards the staircase. He halted as if not knowing where to go exactly, before deciding to run upstairs.
Everything, or maybe nothing, clicked together, and yet, it didn’t make sense to Hermione. But before her mind could react, her body was already responding. Coldness shot through Hermione’s whole body, and she couldn’t move; she felt her knees weakening by every breath she took—rapidly, quickly. There were strong arms that prevented her from collapsing on the hard ground.
Harry drew his wand and pointed it at her direction, bellowing, “Let go of her, Malfoy, or you’ll bloody regret it!”
“Hand it over, Hayden! That isn’t a toy! You’re not supposed to play with wands, you know that! I know how eager you are to learn real magic—” she was glaring at him with her eyes wide in shock, a hand stretched forward. However well-practiced her strict façade was, her kind-hearted side, still, hated having to scold him. But in cases like this, his mother would react differently.
Why did she always have to be so overprotective? Why didn’t she understand his longing for real magic?
“—but you’re too young, and magic can be dangerous when done improperly!” Her face shifted to panic when he refused to oblige. She would try again; talk some senses into her obstinate little son. “Look, honey, you can’t go accepting wands from strangers. You don’t know the person, what intentions he or she might have in giving it to you. A responsible and sane grown-up would never give a wand to a little child…” she trailed off, shaking her head.
She was partly talking to herself, for a moment she seemed thoughtful. Then panic came back to her, and her hand moved closer. The only thought that would be running through her mind right now was who of all people gave her son a dangerous wand, someone who would wish him harms. “Y-You have to give that to me before you get yourself hurt.”
“No! It’s mine!” He took a step backward, his light eyebrows furrowed together angrily. If he really wanted to keep the wand, he would have to convince his mother. “Mum, why can’t you just trust me? I can do this! Look, I’m the only kid my age you know who can control magic like this. I’ve never exposed my magic in front of a Muggle, otherwise Naomi would’ve known already that I’m a wizard. Right? I’m bored of practicing with my bloody toy wand! I’m bored of being overly protected by you! I’m not a damn baby anymore!”
She was taken aback. “You’re rather acting like one! And I told you to stop cursing, young man!” She pointed a finger at him, face fiery with anger. “Hand over the wand—NOW! Or else I’ll call your father!”
“What, can’t you deal with me by yourself?” he retorted, angry tears dangling in his eyes. “Then what? Have him spank me?” he scoffed, clutching his wand tighter behind his back. “Do you think I’m scared of Draco? He wouldn’t even notice even if I put my hair on fire and call for him.”
His mother flinched at the tone he used on her, and he sensed by looking at those glassy brown eyes, how much pain he was causing her. But why could he not help it? Why was his temper stronger? He knew she didn’t like it when he called his father by his name, or curse in the house, or be reckless, but still he did all these just to provoke her. Was a wand and doing real magic worth all this, to make his mother hate him for being so disobedient? It was the punishment for her for treating him like a child, like a baby. He would prove her what a great wizard he was. She had no idea.
“Hayden, sweetheart, your father loves you! Merlin knows he does,” she pleaded. She made another cautious step forward, hand extended towards him. “Look, we can talk this out, but first, you have to give me the wand.”
“No way!” he said, lips forming to a pout. If she treated him like a baby, then he would act like a baby. “I’ll keep it. It’s mine. You only forbid playing with your wand, or Draco’s. But there were no exemptions to accepting wands from others.”
“Strangers, Hayden!” she shrieked, flabbergasted. “Didn’t I tell you to never accept things from strangers? Whether those were sweets, or toys…”
“But you never mentioned wands,” he reminded her matter-of-factly.
“Wands in particular! You were not supposed to use magic until you go to Hogwarts!” she scolded him, frustrated. “How hard is it to wait a few more years?”
He was impatient. He was eager. Just the feel of tickle in his hand... The magic was building inside him, causing his wand arm to tense.
Just let mummy see what a skilful wizard he was, maybe then she would understand.
Maybe then she would practice real magic with him from now on. That would be awesome.
The wizard in the park was right. It was hard to convince mummy about the wand. How did he know that, as though he knew her?
What was the spell he taught him? Avada…
“Fine!” She turned around, for a moment he believed she’d surrendered. But what he couldn’t see was that she drew her own wand. And then she called, with such a quick movement towards him that Hayden didn’t see it coming, “Expelliarmus!”
The wand in his hand flew in a high bow into his mother’s hand. Hayden’s jaw dropped.
It was too late for him. He missed his chance.
Fury built inside of him, and he ran towards his mother to box with his fists against her legs and sides. He grasped her around her waist and stared angrily up at her when she held her arm with the wand high so that he couldn’t reach it.
“Argh! NO! GIVE IT BACK!” he cried. She snapped the wand in two pieces. Hayden’s eyes grew wide in mortification. He shouldn’t have missed his chance.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, and he shrugged it off. “Hayden, it’s only for your safety!” she said serenely through her tears. Of course it was painful for the mother to see her child raging like this, and not being able to do anything about. After all, he had grown to get everything what he wanted, he just needed to yell and throw fits. At least that’s how it worked on Draco.
SAFETY! He hated this word! He would let her see him do real magic.
There was always next time.
He staggered on his feet, glared at his mother fierily, and yelled from the top of his lungs, “I hate you! I HATE YOU! You and Draco, I hate you!”
And then he heedlessly stormed off, leaving his mother behind.
Maybe that wizard in the park would provide him with another wand.
Next time he would be prepared. And then he would show his mother…
(A/N: I should probably add that ickle Hayden doesn't know what the killing curse is. The man in the park only told him that it's a powerful spell to impress his mother with.)
Chapter 18: The Petrification Spell
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(A/N: Okay, I know I've kept you waiting for SO long, and now this chapter is just a filler. But life has been really busy last year, hence, the long update.
Anyway, a huge thanks to my beta, Fallstar. And thanks a lot for the inspiration and help. *hugs* hehe :P Another huge thanks to all the people who've reviewed so far.)
Fastastic and absolutely beautiful
chapter image by the talented the_tofuubeaver @ TDA ^_^
Harry drew his wand and pointed it at their direction, bellowing, “Let go of her, Malfoy, or you’ll bloody regret it!”
She tried struggling free from his arms, while at the same time holding onto him for support; his arms wrapped around her slender waist, held her upright, kept her from collapsing to the ground. Even as she shook, trembled, shuddered, her weak fists clutched at his shirt. Hearing her cry out Weasley’s name was unbearably mind-numbing torture for him: for a moment—it had to be just for a moment—he would jinx the whole world just to take her pain away.
Merlin, what was going on with him? He didn’t even care about her.
“Gra—Hermione,” Draco said softly in her hair, her name melting on his tongue. He wrapped her tighter to himself, trying in vain to comfort her. “It’s all right.” Nothing was all right. He doubted that she even heard him for her eyes were glued on Weasley’s limp body.
“Let go of her!” There was Potter’s voice again, a snarl, a bellowing, his wand still aimed at him. Draco pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes.
“What’s your problem, Potter?” Draco growled, trying to shield Hermione from the infuriated scar-faced boy whom she referred to as her best friend. He decided to ignore Potter, and instead focused on everyone’s gazes that were boring into him, looking at him as if he was the reason for their misery and for Weasley’s condition. Was he Stupified? Paralysed? Dead? Oh Merlin!
“W—What’s going on, Professor?” His throat feeling dry, Draco’s voice rose an octave as he seized the faces of everyone in front of him with one fleeting glance.
There was McGonagall who stepped forward. Her usually stern-looking face was drained of all colours; her ordinarily perfectly balanced glasses were askew; her always-tight dark brown teacher’s bun was slightly dishevelled: McGonagall now stepped beside them. Though Draco never really paid much attention as to how the Ancient Hag of Hogwarts looked; he didn’t think there was much of a difference in her appearance than on any other day.
Dumbledore, face ashen and the corners of his thin lips twitching, stopped about a yard in front of him and Hermione. With his long, elegant fingers, bony from age, he pushed his glasses up his nose and, gestured at McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey to proceed with Weasley to some else where that Draco assumed was the hospital wing.
“Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger,” the headmaster said quietly, his eyes narrowing down at them—at Draco. “Have you been aware of the explosion that occurred down the hallway a few minutes ago?”
Draco shook his head, unable to speak. Explosion?
“W-What explosion?” Hermione asked, her voice little louder than a whisper, still it cracked mid-sentence. Drying her eyes at her sleeve, she tried walking towards her friends, staggering to a halt right in front Weasley, which was hovering away from them. Two students, who Draco believed were Chang and Weasley’s sister, stood close nearby, faces devoid of any emotions. Only seconds earlier, hadn’t Draco noticed the Golden Boy, Hayden, rushing past them towards the staircase, and running upstairs? Where was he heading to? Hayden Malcolm had looked as troubled as the others, as if fleeing from the crime scene: why had Dumbledore let him just leave, were he to be a witness to the murder of a friend of Scarhead—assuming a murder had been committed—or really any Slytherin; so how did he manage it?
Draco felt the warmth that Hermione’s body had provided leaving his side as she slid forward and in the next moment was in Potter’s skinny arms.
“Oh, Harry,” she wailed, “what happened? Is Ron all right?” Her voice a plead, she begged him to assure her that Weasley was fine, that everything would be fine, that there was nothing to worry about. But no words of reassurance came from Potter.
Potter pulled her in his arms, then drew slightly away, took her face between his hands to examine her for any injuries or sign of curse or spell that Draco might have cast upon her. As if he, Draco, could ever hurt a girl, or her, for that matter. Clearly, seeing his female best friend in the arms of her disreputable bully wasn’t something Potter had ever expected, thus leading him to the assumption that Draco must have used some foul curse upon her. What would this hairy potter say if he’d know that, only mere minutes ago, Hermione’s lips had been locked with his?
Draco closed his eyes and sighed as everything else around him ceased to exist in his mind. He didn’t hear what the headmaster was asking him, didn’t bother to know what was actually going on, or what he was hearing around him, that Hermione’s sobbing suddenly turned to hyperventilation only a moment later. Potter was talking; he must’ve told her what had happened. There was Weasley’s little sister: she, of all people, was the only girl who wasn’t crying.
As their sad footfalls faded into the distance. their voices reduced to a buzz in Draco’s ears; only then did Draco open his eyes. They were leaving, and Hermione left with them. She must have explained to them that Draco hadn’t been present when the “Weasley Incident” had happened. She convinced—he hoped she convinced—them of his innocence.
“Well, then, kindly return to your common room now, Mr. Malfoy,” Dumbledore ordered, a hand placed on Harry’s shoulder, urging him forward. Even Hermione held his hand, dragging him along with her, his other hand tightly gripped around his wand. Potter was mumbling something unintelligible under his breath, trying to shake off the headmaster’s hand.
So, Draco just stood there, and rationally, he thought of just walking away and head back to his dormitory, kicking some house-elf in their rear end, relaxing, bragging about his latest quest of snogging some silly girl during his free period. Not that he’d mention that the girl was actually Granger, but anyway… Who cares about the dead weasel? Except his handful of mourning friends? Yeah, damn him. Serves him right.
If only Hermione hadn’t thrown a fleeting look over her shoulder to meet his eyes in a fraction of a section, brown eyes full of sadness, pain, agony. It was too late to look away and pretend he didn’t see. Too late to walk away and pretend he didn’t care. Because, in truth, he cared. And for her.
Without a second thought, he followed Hermione.
Running had never been Hayden’s favourite. He hated everything that was related to sport or any physical activity. But he needed to run around the castle now to look for Naomi, call her name through the hallways and corridors, and just hope she’d hear Hayden somehow.
He almost forgot how light-headed he would feel if adrenaline rushed up his body when he was angry and wound-up. He’d never felt so helpless before.
How could he have let it come this far? Instead of fixing his parents’ screwed up relationship in order to prevent The Fight, which would turn out to be fatal for his mum, he seemed to have made everything worse. Now, he was responsible for the death of one of his mother’s best friends, and later, for his mum’s as well.
He had no other choice than let fate—the original course of fate—unfold, and trap Mother and Father into a loveless marriage. Though he knew, based from old stories his grandparents had told him, his mother and father didn’t marry right away. They had waited couple of years or so, lived apart from each other, before Draco showed up again when their son was three or four years old. Then Hayden’s sleepless nights started. How many times had he awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of strained whispers and hisses, or during the day startled by the sound of shouting and yelling through the house, or watched objects flying across the room, all aimed at his father?
Banning the memories from his mind, he pressed his eyes shut and rubbed his temples. His breathing came in ragged gasps.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”
There was this sudden, intense pain that quickly travelled from his hand to his arm, as he realised that his knuckles cracked, and warm blood ran down his fist, dripping on the ground.
He had punched the stone wall.
His fist instantly swelled: the pain overwhelmed him, numbed his senses. Relief.
The pain didn’t matter; nothing mattered this moment. He was once again having those flashes of memories that weren’t his, or so it seemed. Though the little curly blond-haired boy he envisioned behind his eyes was unmistakably him—Hayden in his childhood: cranky, wild, revved up, angry, uncontrollable. And he always believed to be a kind, adorable child, a good one, with a good heart. Carefree. Innocent…
He smiled. He saw himself in the age of four or maybe younger. His hair was longer, reaching to his eyes, and his cheeks were chubby, always rosy. He was sitting on his mother’s lap, while she read a book to him. He was happy.
He was happy when she’d gone to the playground with him, spending hours and hours playing with him in the sandpit, building sand castles or playing I Spy Something. They’d played Keep Away, Tag, or Jump Ropes, or she would mimic the voices of his favourite toys for him.
And there was always this intruder, someone who had taken his mum from him. A tall man with similar light blond hair and light grey eyes with connotations of coolness. Like his. His, this man’s, face had been blurry throughout the years before; he’d come and gone, often the memory ended with a fight with his mum, often it was his mum taking Hayden and fleeing with him to God-knows-where. Hayden never understood why.
‘You can’t hide from me, Hermione,’ came the loud growling voice of the intruder with those piercing grey irises. ‘He’s dangerous!’
‘No, no! Look at him!’ came the pleading wail of his mother. She tried pushing him away, blocking him from her little son. ‘He won’t hurt anyone! For Christ’s sake, Draco, look at him! Does he seem dangerous to you?’
As the years passed, this intruder eventually stayed. Hayden didn’t know what actually happened, why this man then protected them from the bad wizard people. True, he had been on alert every time little Hayden moved, always aware when any sign of magic occurred; he always protected, shielded, defended his wife, Hermione: Draco was, in fact, protecting Hermione from their son in the house, even while he had protected his whole family from the Death Eaters out there.
Wasn’t it sad and ironic? Most husbands, who have left their wives but came back upon realising they had a responsibility to look after—like a child—Hayden’s father came back not because he realised he’d made a mistake years ago by leaving his pregnant wife, not because he realised then that he was needed, not because he wanted to make it up to her, not because he wanted to be a good husband and father. He came back because he wanted to protect his wife, whom he had abandoned years before, from their ‘dangerous’ son, who was that time only a little helpless child. It didn’t make sense.
Hayden took a deep sharp breath now, clearing his head. He staggered forward, coming to a halt, he lifted his hand to his chest. It stung painfully like his heart was being punctuated by tiny needles. He breathed in and out, slowly, trying to even his breathing. It helped a little, the pain ceased. But only a little.
Damn, Hayden hated running.
If he had to run for his life, he would probably—out of convenience, of course—just surrender and die. He sighed. Whilst leaning against the wall and massaging his throbbing temples, Hayden wondered now where the memory of him and his mum and dad had gone, the one memory in which they had taken him out for a walk in the park on a sunny day. His dad had scooped him up on his shoulders, and his mum was smiling up at him. A perfect family image, Hayden thought, smiling sadly.
Hayden hated running.
But this image soon distorted, faded out, then vanished. Everything was suddenly blurry, then black, then there they were again—a completely new memory, familiar yet they seemed not to be his: His mother was dragging him behind her, taking long quick strides, urging him to hurry. They were fleeing. Always fleeing. His legs were too short, and his feet hurt, his wrist hurt where his mother held him tight. A man’s familiar voice was calling from the distance, as if hunting them, trying to catch them. And his mother…God, she was crying. Tears ran down her cheeks. And then with a swift of her wand, they both vanished.
“You’ll not take my son away, Draco!”
Damn, Hayden hated running.
He slouched down against the wall, burrowing his face between his knees as a pair of footsteps approached him. Hayden was already drained of so much energy that he didn’t bother to look up. All he wanted was to scream and yell and wish to wake up from this horrible nightmare. This must be just a nightmare, after all.
The footsteps drew close now. He would jinx them if they didn’t leave him alone, he would jinx them if he could. He had never been really good at this ooga-booga magic and all this hanky-panky with his wooden stick. He could still sucker-punch them, though. Having been raised in the Muggle world with kids so nasty he’d been involved in too many fights, his fists had never disappointed him. Problem was, his knuckles were cracked.
“Malfoy, what the hell happened to you?” a boy’s low and raspy voice asked, which Hayden couldn’t quite identify. For a moment Hayden thought the boy meant him, but then he realised that no one in this era knew him as Hayden Malfoy, so he realised who they were confusing him with.
“’m not Malfoy, you moron,” Hayden mumbled in his knees. “Now bugger off!”
“What’s he say?” another voice grunted.
Hayden felt a light nudge in the side. “Look at you. You all right, mate?” the first boy prodded.
“DAMNIT! ‘m not Malfoy! Now get out of my face!” Hayden snarled at them, his voice a low growl in the back of his throat, startling even himself.
The two boys—one short and thickset, the other tall with a pudding-bowl haircut—who Hayden now recognised as Draco’s thuggish cronies, jumped back. Once it dawned in upon them that it wasn’t their master they were talking to, a menacing sneer appeared on their ugly faces. People were just really dense in this era, Hayden mused with abhorrence: he didn’t the least resemblance with his teenage father, the opinions of the masses to the contrary.
“What a temper, the little vermin’s got,” the taller one with short, bristly hair spat, drawing his wand. “Think y’ah can order us ‘round, eh? I could make a monkey out of you.” He drew back to lift his wand, chuckling trollishly. His mate just sniggered and flexed his muscles. “Or I could practice a new jinx on you.”
“Let me, Gregory,” the chunky boy said, pushing aside his mate as he drew his wand, too. “I’ve heard about this Backfiring Jinx. Let’s try that one out.”
“Crazy—that jinx—you want us in trouble?” hissed the tall boy, Gregory, clutching his mate’s collar. He pushed him aside. “Use a less severe hex, idiot. Here,” he flicked his wand at Hayden, “Depulso!” He crackled when the spell hit Hayden in the stomach, causing him to jerk and cough in pain, then, “Almost feels like jinxing that Draco git. Whatcha think? Try,”
“He might as well be Draco’s body double,” the other one remarked, as a sneer appeared on his face, and he called, “Depulso!”
Hayden thought his skull cracked when he hit the wall behind him: perhaps his head had been directly smacked against it. He tried drawing out his wand, but if he did some magic, he knew no defensive charm to counter their attacks. He’d only embarrass himself, plus do them a favour if he’d call ‘Scourgify!’ and clean their dirty robes, and that was certainly not his intention, now was it? And imitating their spell had a nasty way of backfiring, since he didn’t even know the movement.
“Confringo!” they called, taking turns, enjoying the sight of Hayden thrashing about, though it wasn’t Hayden they saw—the attacks at Hayden were simply their anger towards their master, Draco.
He felt the spell hit his stomach, shoulder, chin, and chest; he felt himself lose control as each iteration blasted him against the wall. Hayden slipped, so dazed, and so weak, into a state wherein he could not defend himself, nor even care about the abuse he took. His breath trapped itself one last time, like a puddle in a spring trapped within a cave: it was at this point that a chuckle droned into Hayden’s ears and filled the air, thus sealing his despair.
It had always been like this in his childhood: several boys, mostly a gang of six or seven, thrashing the hell out of him—the nerd, the loser, who hung out with his only friend, a girl. Usually, he could cope with two or three at once, but against a gang, he never stood a chance. He’d go home with a broken nose or arm, which his mother had to heal with a few spells, and then scold him for having gotten in trouble, again and again.
“Protego!” A another voice yelled. A girl’s.
His dad’s brainless minions stopped with their next attack, thankfully, before it could hit his face again and knock him unconscious. Hayden lifted his head from the ground, seeing a slender figure approaching. Saved by a girl, thank God, oh yes indeedy, thank God! He groaned, licked his lips and tasted blood.
“What on earth are you morons doing to him?” the girl demanded, rushing to Hayden’s side. She placed a hand on his shoulder and tried to help him up.
“You’re defending this pathetic jerkass?” one of the morons asked, the taller one.
“Bet she’s in love with him?” the other moron remarked with a goofy giggle, nudging his mate in the side.
“I’m fine,” Hayden grunted, feeling like he’d been saying this all day long. He held his head, which throbbed harder as he lifted it. He looked at the girl’s face, into eyes blue like the summer sky seen in the desert at noon, and filled with worry. She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder, supporting Hayden with a grip at his elbow.
“I’m alright,” Hayden said a bit harsher than intended, tossing the girl’s hand away, “now excuse me, I got to find someone.”
“Ya’ Astoria’s got herself a new lover!”
“Woo-ooh! What would Draco say?”
“Oh grow up, Vincent!” the girl, whose name was so familiar, chided the two boys. She looked over her shoulder at Hayden, giving him a worried smile. She obviously didn’t buy that he felt ‘alright’.
Before Hayden knew it, or could help it, his hand shot forward, grabbing her arm. “Wait! Astoria…Greengrass?” he asked.
The young girl looked at him bizarrely, trying to free her arm. “Yes, I am. Hayden, you okay?”
“How d’you know my name?” he said, confusedly.
She lifted her eyebrows. “We’ve met before. Remember, you borrowed me your notes from your fourth year since you didn’t need them anymore,” Astoria said, her eyes searching for the two gorillas’ help. They just shrugged and sniggered. It was obvious that they were not her bodyguards. “Merlin, how hard did you hit your head? You sure you don’t want to go to the hospital wing?”
“Oh, all right, yeah. No,” Hayden said with a nervous chuckle. The spell that was protecting his identity was showing its effect, even now. “But, tell me something—are you, are you and Da—um…Malfoy, are you—y’know, dating? You know, like together together?” He felt his face grow warm as the words crossed his lips. Why did he even want to know? Like feeling the urge to catch up on the latest gossip. He grimaced, looking away.
The boys, Vincent and Gregory, burst out in laughter. “Like she’d wish!”
“Excuse me, what?” Astoria said incredulously. “No, of course not.” Subtle as it seemed, disappointment flickered in her eyes, which she overplayed with a giggle. Then she rubbed the back of her neck, just like Hayden always did when he was nervous. “You know, you should head off to the common rooms. Dumbledore’s order,” she said. “Something must’ve happened downstairs in one of the classrooms.”
“Yeah, sure,” Hayden said, studying the girl’s face.
She pulled a hanky out from her pocket and handed it over to Hayden. “You’re bleeding there,” she said with a nod of her head towards his face, her eyes at the spot just above his left eye. Hayden lifted his hand to touch his eyebrow, and felt wetness. When he looked at his fingers, it was indeed coated with blood. He threw a threatening look towards the rowdies, who’d done this to him, but they merely sneered, and left. After a short moment, Astoria followed them.
“By the way,” Hayden called after her, “thank you.”
“You’re welcolme,” the taller moron answered in a girlish voice for Astoria, the other one chuckled. “Wooh-hoo!”
Astoria smiled mysteriously over her shoulder.
Once they rounded the next corner, Hayden suddenly remembered which role Astoria Greengrass would play in his teenage father’s future life. She was the young woman whom Draco chose to be with a year from now after he found out that Hermione had not only been pregnant with his child, but already gave birth to it, and never told him.
In the boys’ bathroom, Hayden washed his face with cold water. When he lifted his head, he watched himself in the mirror, and saw the reddish gash just above his left brow.
“Damn,” he sighed, “that’ll gonna leave an ugly scar.”
With the pink handkerchief that Astoria gave him, he dried his face and wiped carefully over the wound. Thinking of Astoria, a sudden idea flashed his mind, causing his muscles to tense up and his jaw to clench for even thinking of it.
If he could simply make Astoria disappear, then his father wouldn’t have a reason to ditch a soon-to-be-pregnant Hermione in the first place. There would be no other girl to interfere in their relationship.
Shaking his head to rid his mind from this dark thought—though by doing so the pain intensified in sharpness—Hayden clutched his fist tighter around the handkerchief, imagining Astoria’s heart in his hand.
He was not going to harm another innocent person for the sake of keeping his teenage parents together. It was more than enough to know that Ron, who was a dear friend to his mum, was now…dead, all because of him. Hayden was responsible for all the chaos happening in this era. He would not make it worse.
He left the bathroom, holding his aching head with one hand, ignoring the pain that ran along his right shoulder blade, and backside, where he had crashed against the wall. He walked down the moving staircase, looking around for any sign of Naomi, who seemed to have completely disappeared from this world.
He couldn’t possibly ask anyone who passed him by if they knew where Naomi Corner was, since no one had ever seen her nor knew she actually “existed”. Well, technically, they’d seen her, though not in her actual form. She either assumed her mother’s, Cho, form, or that of some random student, so that she could spy on Hayden.
“Naomi,” Hayden sighed in frustration, whilst jogging down the stairs, eyes on the ground, “where the heck are you?”
And then there she was, literally popping into existence right in front of him, as though she was a djinn made of smokeless flame that he’d summoned. Sadly, unlike a djinn, she couldn’t grant him three wishes, like a djinn, though, Naomi could be good or evil, too, and she was capable of exercising supernatural influence over people. Deep inside, Hayden knew that this part of Naomi—this mystery—was the part that made Hayden’s flesh crawl to her, made his mind follow her orders, and his heart completely yield to her.
Naomi put her hands on his arms, keeping him an arm’s length away from her, her hazel eyes focus at his. Shaking him a bit as though Hayden was in some kind of trance upon seeing her, Naomi tightened her eyes to little angry slits, and bored her fingernails into the flesh of his arms.
“Hayden, where’ve you been?!” she cried, her face pale and lips white. Her eyes moved to the fresh gash, which Draco’s cronies had inflicted upon him, and the bruise at his cheekbone; then Naomi shook her head, irked an eyebrow, and asked, “What happened? I’ve been looking for you. Let’s go, you can tell me later!”
She grasped his wrist—the injured wrist—turned around, and without giving him a chance to resist her action, she Pseudo-Disapparated with him from the spot, and Re-apparated at a new place, a new corridor, with naked walls, except for one tapestry at one side with somehow familiar, and certainly wretched, dancing trolls on it. The hallways were empty due to Dumbledore’s order for everybody to stay in their respective common rooms.
Hayden knew one thing as he shook off Naomi’s hand, clutching his stomach and feeling like vomiting, as if he’d been sucker-punched or run over by a bulldozer: his entire body was aching. Another thing he hated, too—Apparition.
He had been feeling weak all day already, as if drained of energy, like he hadn’t slept and eaten for over a weak. He had also fainted earlier, and certainly, not only from the shock that his best friend might have killed his mother’s best friend—just the thought of Naomi being a cold-blooded killer and that he might have been responsible for it, had made Hayden weaker, both physically and mentally. He must have hit his head when he fainted, too, for it was throbbing painfully now, and he felt nauseous, dizzy. In addition, those two Neanderthals earlier had beaten him up with magic, and again, he banged his head pretty hard, until he bled. He didn’t feel very well. He didn’t feel well at all. His eyelids drooped; he felt exhausted, and he reeled to the side. He reached for Naomi, or the wall, whichever was nearer, and hoped for support, before he would hit his head again.
“Naomi, we gotta go to the headmaster now.” He pressed his eyes shut, felt the increasing throbbing at his temples. Everything was spinning to the left, turning and twisting behind his eyes. His words were barely a slur when he spoke again, “Something’s happened…to R-Ron.” He squinted at Naomi, though by doing so the pain seemed to have moved to his eyes, stretching out to his forehead, down his neck. “D’you know anything about that?” he said, then he raised his voice a little, “That he’s dead now?!”
Naomi put on an expressionless face; as usual, she was hard to read. She looked to the side, to the ceiling, as if in search for the appropriate words, then she stared back at Hayden. “He’s fine,” was all she said. She stepped forward, “It’s you I’m worried about.”
“Hmm?” Hayden clenched his jaw, unable to say a word. His right fist, which he’d jammed against the wall earlier in his anger, now made itself felt. The pain covered his entire hand, wandering up his arm. The worst was that it was the hand, which Naomi had grabbed earlier to Disapparate with him.
“OW! SHIT!” he cried, unable to suppress his swollen—and probably broken—knuckles any longer, tears stung his eyes. He watched his hand tremble, trying to move his fingers.
”Goodness, Hayden!” Naomi yelped, stepping beside him. “Let me check that. Can you move it? Jesus, I only left you out of my sight for a few minutes, and now look at you, totally beaten up,” she chided.
Shaking his head a little, he closed his eyes in order to prevent falling forward. His fractured hand, however, he held out for Naomi to examine. She supported it with her own hand, the other holding up her wand, then she called, “Bracchium Emendo!” to heal any bones that might be broken or just sprained.
His hand healed instantly. Now that the pain in his hand and arm was gone, only the concussion was left, which made him now dizzier and more nauseous.
“Hayden, we don’t have time for this,” Naomi said in a reprimanding voice as though Hayden was just fooling around, taking his face between her hands. “Listen to me; the stronger your parent’s attraction grows for each other, the more you…the more you dissolve. You’ll internally dissolve, you hear me? This is a good thing, I mean if you feel sick. Do you feel sick?”
What kind of a question is that? He simply gave Naomi a frown, staggering away from her. He slumped down to the ground, laying down his head on the cold stone floor. It relieved his pain a bit. He couldn’t tell Naomi that the pain he was feeling was not due to Draco and Hermione finally “finding to each other”, but that he’d hit his head too often today.
Naomi sat down next to him, lifting his head and placing it on her lap. Despite his anger towards her and being too exhausted to resist her affection he stayed still, and closed his eyes.
“Tell me what’s going on, Naomi,” he mumbled. He heard her sigh, hesitating, then pressed, “With Ron and all that. What happened to him? Tell me!”
“He’s fine,” she said again, her voice soft. Strangely, Hayden noticed some kind of relief or contentment in her voice. He looked up and found her smiling distantly, her eyes towards the opposing wall. She was stroking his forehead, the wound at his brow, and then moving her hand to his neck; and for a moment, Hayden grew frightful that she might strangle him with her bare hands: as weak as he felt, he wouldn’t probably even have a chance—or the will—to defend himself.
“When we were children,” she said, more to herself than to Hayden, “did you know that I always envied you?” Hayden, slightly taken aback by the strangeness of this question, blinked, but said nothing. No, he didn’t know that. “Not because of your wealthy family, or that you lived in a mansion, got all the toys you wished for, no... But it’s because you’ve got something that I would’ve done or given anything, absolutely anything, to have, too.”
“And what would that be?” He went along with it, though he knew that everyone in the hospital wing was waiting for him, in the hopes that Hayden might provide them with an answer as to what had happened to Ron, and how he would make it un-happen. But he needed to take a little rest; he could barely move his head.
“You had a family who loves you, Hayden,” Naomi said sadly. “Your parents might have fought a lot, but didn’t you see how much they have loved you unconditionally? I’d rather have parents that fight than no parents at all. And your grandparents from both sides, they spoiled you to pieces. You barely acknowledged that. There were the Weasleys, too, who’ve supported you even when your mother died and your father left you to your foster family. And even then, when you stayed in the Muggle world and went to a Muggle school, your foster parents cared for you. You were a straight A-student in school, Hayden, you got many friends. You were popular by the girls. And, of course, the best of all,” Naomi said, smiling a little, “you had me.”
“Perfect, wasn’t it?” Hayden said sarcastically. “What’s your point, exactly?”
“My point is,” Naomi said, her tone changing imperceptibly, “you might’ve lost your mother, but you had a wonderful life, and yes, it was perfect…almost perfect. Yet you messed it all up by wanting to change the past, and try playing Cupid for your mother and father.”
“It’s a little bit too late for this speech, don’t you think?” Hayden tried to move, but Naomi pushed him back.
“Look at me, Hayden, I grew up in a foster home with a foster family, who treated me badly,” she said fiercely, “I lost my mother when I was a toddler, but not because she died, but because she was…crazy…mad. She’d been confined to the St. Mungo’s Hospital due to mental injuries. It was my father’s fault. But did I brew some Time-Travel Potion to change their past?”
“Wait. You knew she was at this…Mungo’s hospital?” Hayden exclaimed in surprise and disbelief, “I thought you didn’t know where she was. You—You lied!”
“I knew where she was,” Naomi said flatly, “but I thought it was better to just pretend that I didn’t know. Made my life easier. My foster mother kept reminding me everyday that I was the daughter of a crazy woman. Whenever I got upset with her, and blew things up around me, she said she’d admit me to a mad house, too. And she said things like ‘No wonder your father doesn’t want you.’”
Hayden felt his anger consuming him, again.
“I didn’t have a surrogate family like you,” Naomi went on, “you had the Weasleys, and you had your foster family in the Muggle world, who had provided you with a beautiful home, which also served as a protection. Your mother’s idea, actually. And there were still your grandparents, who’ve supported you, and not only financially. Right? You lacked nothing in life.”
There was a short silence. Then, “What I’m trying to say, Hayden, in case things don’t go your way—and damn, yeah, I know you have this subconscious need of having and wanting everything—but if ever everything goes the way as it was originally meant to be, minus me by your side, just—just don’t fuck around with fate again, alright? You’re not God!”
Letting the words sink in, Hayden stirred, looking up at Naomi. “What do you mean, minus you?”
“Never mind, just promise me to do nothing and just leave everything as it is.” Naomi sighed long-sufferingly, shaking her head. She smiled a little. “Will you promise me that, Hayden?”
“No!” Hayden cried, “Tell me what the hell you mean!” He struggled to sit upright, his head felt woozy. She pressed him down again.
“Do you want to know now what happened to Ron?” she asked, to catch him off-guard, to divert his attention. She always did this, and Hayden always fell for it. Hayden shook his head stubbornly, yet he was eager to know, and waited for her to go on. She said, “He’s, well, as I’ve said earlier, fine. He’s fine. He’s been Petrified. It’s a spell resembling death, but he’s still alive.” She stared sideways, down the empty corridor, then mumbled to herself, “It’s not him anyway.”
“You’re confusing me, you know?”
“Remember when I left you downstairs in the Dungeons classroom,” she continued, her gaze now fixed at Hayden, “because Ginny, Harry and Ron came in? Well, I went to check on Cho, and she was in that classroom on the first floor, and, apparently, not alone. She was there with her boyfriend, Michael.” Her face twisted to a grimace, her eyes growing dark. “They must have had an argument for I heard him cussing, and she was…I dunno, crying, I think. They had this thing going on, you know, between a couple, when one is ready to take the next step in their relationship, and the other isn’t. Oh,” Naomi sighed dejectedly, gnawing at her lower lip. Her hand moved to her mouth to stifle a moan. “I didn’t know what an arsehole he is, Hayden. I mean, not that kind of an arsehole. Anyway, before I could do anything, Ron burst in, and yelled something like getting off her. So before Michael could hurt Ron, I performed a Switching Spell on them. It usually only works on objects if you mean to swap them, but apparently, it works on humans, too.”
“How did you witness all this without them seeing you?” Hayden asked in awe, “Now don’t tell me you can make yourself invisible, too!”
“Of course not, silly.” Rolling her eyes, she explained, sounding a little impatient, “I was hiding in the backroom. I watched them through the door crack.”
“With other words, you were spying on them, and then caught them off-guard. You acted out of reflex, and that was the outcome—them switching bodies and petrifying Ron?” Hayden tried envisioning the scene behind his eyes—it didn’t make sense to him. He saw Naomi performing with simple flicks of her wand producing one perfect spell after the other, as the scene unfolded. “Why did you have to switch their bodies, though?”
“Remember what we talked about earlier this morning?” Naomi said solemnly, “That we need to get rid of Ron so he wouldn’t be interfering with your parents’ relationship? Well, I needed to get rid of Michael, too. So now Michael, who is in Ron’s body, is Petrified as long as we wish him to be. While Ron, who’s in Michael’s body, is totally befuddled, is safe and yet won’t be harassing Cho, because, well, he’s not Michael, right?” Then she smiled widely, almost contently. “It’s like shooting two birds with one stone. And of course, I did some little memory modification on them all. Now we will have free reign until your own conception, because neither of them will be interfering.”
“You didn’t plan all this, did you?” Hayden asked sceptically. “You only had one second to react, after all. You couldn’t know that Ron will burst into the classroom to come to Cho’s rescue!”
“No, but it was still a clever move of me,” Naomi said, grinning wickedly.
Hayden didn’t know whether he felt amazement, or mortification, or shame about himself for formerly thinking that Naomi—his best friend since childhood—might be the murderer of his mother’s best friend. Now she did not only support him—though with reluctance—in his mission, but she also fixed where he had messed up with. He was elated. Even more so, he was grateful.
“Wait,” Hayden said again, seeing a flaw in the plan, “but everyone’s grieving now because they think Ron’s dead. And surely, the headmaster will send the police here to investigate for the murderer.”
Naomi chuckled mirthlessly. “First off, the ‘police’ will not come here, for Hogwarts is Muggle-protected. You mean the Aurors! And secondly, by now, they must have already figured out—with the Detection Spell—that ‘Ron’ has only been Petrified. This is why I was trying to buy some time before we go back and see them. Though the magic I used upon his body is rather advanced, so they’ll take a little longer to remove it. They will be tied up in investigating this case what with interrogating all the suspects, including Michael Corner, who’s actually a confused Ron, which, coincidentally, will give us enough time to make everything else right.”
She sighed in relief once she explained it all to Hayden. “And there will be no one to interfere anymore. No Michael. No Ron. And Cho will be safe for the time being. And everyone’s attention is diverted from us, too. You just play along and pretend you know nothing. Wouldn’t be too hard for you, anyway,” she added teasingly. She somehow seemed weary, exhausted. He now noticed the dark circles underneath her eyes; her skin was pale like wax.
Hayden propped up on his elbows and gave her a kiss on her forehead. “Thank you!” Because you didn’t kill Ron! “Thank you,” he repeated, taking her hand in his, squeezing it. Because you’re always there for me. “Thank you. What would I do without you?”
Really, what would he do without her?
In his joy, Hayden had completely forgotten to ask Naomi what she had been implying at earlier that she wouldn’t exist in his new future.
(A/N: Let me know what you think. Please leave a comment/review below if you have any questions regarding the plot. Thanks.)
Chapter 19: The Perpetrators
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A/N: Thanks for the kind support, I hope this chapter doesn't suck. eheehee. :J Thanks for leaving so many kind comments, guys. I appreciate it a lot.
I owe the quality of this story to my wonderful beta reader, Fallstar. If there are still a couple of grammar errors, it's me to be blamed.
Hope you have a great Christmas 2010.
Awesome chapter image by
the very talented the_tofuubeaver at TDA
Draco’s eyes wandered again, stared back to the empty chair a few tables in front of him. As he brushed his chin absent-mindedly, he thought of her, of the way she took down notes and keenly scribbled everything on her notepad, occasionally tucking her wildly-loose curls away from her face. She hung at the teacher’s every word, as if all the theories and facts about magic that were taught to them had to be known in detail and memorised verbatim.
She practically consumed every bit of lecture taught to them, and jumped on her seat with her hand raised, eager to give the answer, just like when, back in their first year, she was eager with the answers when Snape was calling out Potter. Her enthusiasm for study never ceased the least bit throughout the years. Everybody made fun of her, calling her all sorts of derogatory names such as “Smarty Pants,” just because she had a passion of excellence and received the most praise in class. No one could stand that.
But despite her continuously outstanding performance throughout her career at Hogwarts, never once had she shown any sign of delight when she earned a perfect score on a test, because that was as expected of her, as expecting the Chosen Pothead to save the Wizarding World from the Dark Lord, or expecting a shower of spittle when Slughorn spoke to you and lectured you about mind-numbing theories pertaining to elixirs, philtres, or tinctures.
All this proved how much of a priority her educational career had in her life. Her expectations were high in nearly every area...
But in relation to her friends, everything else becomes unimportant. For Weasley, she put all her classes aside just to stay at the St. Mungo’s Hospital to stay by him. He had been moved there over a week ago. Hermione skipped classes just to see him, to hold his hand, praying and crying over his sickbed, hoping he’d awaken from his comatose state.
According to rumours and overhearing Weasley’s friends, Weasley had been hit by a very powerful kind of magic, called the Petrification Spell, that had made him slip into a deep level of coma. This said magic wasn’t even taught at Hogwarts, nor could any of the students perform it—Draco did not know it, even. Since he had an alibi, he would help find the culprit though, in order to clear himself of suspicions. The wand used by the performer hadn’t been found yet, nor could anyone, even the two witnesses and main suspects, Chang and Corner, remember the whole incident.
Weasley wasn’t responding to the commonly known antidote—the Mandrake Restorative Draught—nor to any magical or non-magical treatment. A life-sustaining spell had been cast upon him, since he did not show actual voluntary or involuntary movements: he neither breathed, nor responded to pain, light, or sound, nor had sleep-wake cycles. The worst was this: his heart had stopped beating. It had been hard to discern whether he was in fact petrified or actually dead. The healers had determined that he was not dead by the fact that his body was not decaying or growing: neither disease nor treatment had any effect.
Hermione, in her traumatised state with that blank expression on her face and tears in her eyes, had explained all this to Draco when he went to St. Mungo’s to check on her condition. It was as if she was reciting a dull text from a book, in that monotonous voice, broken by her ragged breathing and trembling voice. Every fibre of his body ached to reach forward and clasp her hand in his to comfort her. But he couldn’t.
Draco stared down at his empty worksheet, then looked up to where Professor Slughorn stood by the windows, his back towards the class. Slughorn rubbed his stomach and turned his head, catching Draco’s eyes.
“Mr. Malfoy?” he said, raising an eyebrow.
“Sir?” Came from another corner of the room.
Turning his head, Draco saw Goldilocks sitting there in the opposite corner, looking up in confusion as his light-grey eyes shifted between Draco and Slughorn. “Oh, sorry, Professor,” the curly boy mumbled, coughing in his fist as he scratched the back of his head in embarrassment, chuckling, “I thought I heard my name. Never mind.” He bent his head and resumed writing on his worksheet.
Frankly, the way this boy participated in class, Draco thought—appearing to be extremely intelligent, being very intuitive and observant as well, and the way he answered questions with confidence, the way he concentrated on his school tasks—were almost comparable of that to Hermione’s. The reason Draco noticed this was because no one else were like them in class.
Who is this bloke?
Who was he with whom everyone confused Draco as if they looked that much alike? He, who claimed to have been at Hogwarts from the beginning of their first year, though neither Draco nor Hermione had clear memories of him. Yet he knew Draco so well, even knew his deepest secret that concerned his fancy for… Draco felt his head warm a little and looked away, then noticed Slughorn approaching his table.
“M’boy, is there any problem with your worksheet?” Slughorn asked concernedly, a hand placed on his fat belly as he looked down his nose at Draco. “As much as you enjoy daydreaming in my class, I’m asking you to finish that before the time is up. Everybody, you have less than 20 minutes left.” He strode back towards the front of the class, and by passing the empty chair next to Potter—Hermione’s seat—he shook his head disappointedly.
Potter had his head bent, either answering his worksheet or scribbling his sick friend’s name on a piece of parchment and drawing heart shapes around it, Draco couldn’t tell or care. But fact was, Potter hadn’t been quite his usual self lately. He always looked as though he was going to throw himself at Draco if only he had the chance to. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any evidence that Draco had harmed Weasley, aside from that, Draco did have an alibi—Hermione.
Despite the teachers informing Hermione that it wasn’t necessary to stay at the hospital the whole time, Hermione refused to listen. She only came to class to submit her assignments or projects, and still received outstanding marks. She did her school work in the hospital, and then she’d return to the castle in the late evening. Weasley’s parents and his siblings visited him alternately, but it was only Hermione who’d stay all day.
For some reason Draco realised now that he couldn’t stand seeing her in so much agony that he even wished—though it went against his nature—that Weasley would awaken from his comatose state and be alright again. He tried to make sense of what was happening with himself and why Hermione mattered so much to him.
Later that afternoon Draco found himself in the reception area of the St. Munggo’s Hospital with a book tucked under his arm and a small bundle packed with stolen food and drinks from the castle’s kitchens in his hand. He didn’t know what he was doing there. Again. He had been there the day before, and before that, only to thrust a box with food and drinks into Hermione’s hands, and leave quickly even before she had the chance to say something.
He went along the familiar hallway, coloured in egg-shell white and decorated with paintings of the founder of this hospital and its staff until he reached the door where Weasley was taken in and Hermione would be waiting. Hoping that she was alone and not in the company of the Weasley clan, he pushed open the door.
Thank Merlin; none of the other Weasleys was there. And as expected, Hermione sat there on a chair, lifting her head from her book to look at him, then a slight upturn of the corners of her mouth appeared. She didn’t seem surprised at all since it wasn’t Draco’s first visit. Coughing into his fist and upon taking a deep breath, he strode towards her and placed the bundle of food and the book on the nightstand.
He squinted towards Weasley’s ash-white face; his lips were purple while he seemed almost like a wax mannequin. How did Hermione endure this, staying at the hospital all day? Being around a creepy dead-looking body all the time? Even more so that it was her dearest friend lying there. Draco thought he was certainly not strong enough to bear the death of a beloved one and hold them in his arms. A strange, disturbing feeling overcame him and his eyes snapped instinctively to Hermione.
She was looking at him, as if studying his face. “Thank you,” she said in a gentle, raspy voice, “but you needn’t come every day, you know? Mrs. Weasley makes sure that I’m not neglecting myself, and there’s a cafeteria in the lobby, so I’m well provided.” She smiled wearily, giggling behind her hand. “But I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much, Draco.”
Draco shrugged lazily, waving a hand. Smirking, he said, “Just making sure the git hasn’t woken up yet.” Hermione frowned as she shook her head. “So any news on him yet? What did the healer say?” Not that he really cared, but anyway…
“Healer Graham is still working on a new potion to assess the severity and level of Ron’s coma, and predict the chances of his recovery,” Hermione said impassively, as usual, her glassy eyes fixed upon Weasley. “The healers are clueless as to why a Petrification Spell could be so powerful and detrimental that it almost seems untreatable. Ron has not been responding to any of the new treatments, but his brain responsiveness is not lessening either, which is a good sign. But thank Merlin, he showed first signs of reflexes this morning. I was so relieved, as was his family. He can hear us,” she finished with a smile and tears in her eyes. “I’ve been reading to him and speaking to him all day.”
“That’s good,” Draco said sarcastically, sneering, “you can catch him up on school work. So you plan on staying here again?” Shifting his weight on his other foot, he glared down at her. “Don’t get me wrong, all right? I understand your worry. But it’s not your obligation to stay here all day and look after him, you know. He’s being taken care for by the matrons and the healers, and his family.” Ignoring Hermione’s fiery glare from the side, Draco went on, “Now that he’s made some progress in his recovery, and you’ve proved your point about how much you care for him, you can actually return to school and focus on something else, like…like…school, or whatever. Because, seriously, Granger, another week longer and you start looking like a zombie,” he added, leering at her.
“Malfoy,” she said impatiently, rolling her eyes towards the ceiling, “tell me, why is it any of your concern? Don’t tell me you’re actually worried about me,” she said tauntingly, raising an eyebrow at him.
”Wh—What? Why would I be?” he said quickly. “Don’t be silly.”
As Hermione squinted at Draco, she shook her head in scorn, adding in a huff, “As for someone who has no actual close friends at all, what I do for Ron is probably something you don’t understand, Malfoy.”
“Oh yeah? Well, I think what you do is stupid. Do you think that Weasley would want that—you, spending your time like this? Worrying about him the whole time, not resting properly, and missing school?” Draco retorted, ignoring the disconcerting feeling in his chest that he was being ‘Malfoy’ again and their hatred for each other returning. “What if he doesn’t wake up at all? You’re just wasting your time deluding yourself.” He flinched when he realised the spite in his words, knowing this hurt her.
Hermione opened her mouth with some hot reply, but instead of retorting angrily, she only shook her head, almost sadly. Her features deflated; she looked away and back at Weasley. “You may leave now,” she said, “I didn’t ask you to come here, now did I? Did you come here for the sole intention to argue with me?” She brushed her hair away from her face, tucking the loose strand behind her ear. “Look, I don’t know what you want from me or why you come here everyday. Now don’t tell me you’re still doing this for Hayden’s sake, so that he sees how nice you are to me. He’s not even around.”
Draco almost forgot all about his pretence game with Hermione—pretending to be a couple when Goldilocks was around. How could she bring it up in a moment like this, when he was actually being genuinely concerned about her? How could she be so clueless when it came to him?
A prolonged silence stretched between them. Of course it wasn’t his intention to hurt her; he didn’t know himself why he showed up when seemingly, bloody Granger didn’t give a rat’s ass about him.
“Fine, you don’t leave me any other choice!” Clenching his jaw to restrain himself to snarl at her, he shoved his fists into his robe pockets as he stormed off, but not towards the exit door. He spotted a chair beside the vacant bed and grabbed it. He dragged it back to where Hermione sat and put it there with a cluttering noise when he pulled the legs of the chair apart, planting himself down with his arms crossed. He blew his hair out of his face, looking the other way, scowling.
“What are you doing?” she asked from his side.
“I’m having a picnic, Granger. What else do you think?”
“Wha—” Hermione said, flabbergasted. “But why would you stay here? I told you to leave.”
“I. Will. Not,” he spelled out, sneering at her. “Who the heck d’you think you are for bossing me around? You’re not my mother!”
Hermione smiled despite herself, incredulous. “You’re so obstinate.”
“I?” he murmured.
When he looked away and from his peripheral view, he noticed that she was still smiling.
Hermione awoke to the sound of a voice that was deep enough to be almost charming, very gentle yet masculine. She knew that voice, she thought, just without the arrogance and pride in it. When she opened her eyes she stared at the high, utilitarian grey ceiling, and the off-white curtains above her head. Instantly, she realised where she was, except that she was lying on a scratchy bed with a robe smelling of cinnamon and vanilla, and not as usual on the chair beside Ron’s bed.
Remembering Ron, she propped on one elbow and squinted towards the source of the voice. Draco sat there with his back to her, reading from the book that she had been reading to Ron since that morning.
She must have fallen asleep, she decided, but why had she been sleeping on the bed? She didn’t even remember that she had lain down there. More astonishingly was that Draco was reading to Ron. Was she only dreaming? Or maybe it wasn’t Draco who sat there.
The door opened and a matron came in with a tray, serving that blond boy a glass of water. When she noticed Hermione, she smiled. That boy followed the matron’s gaze and smirked at Hermione, nodding smugly. Surprised, she realised that it was, indeed, Draco.
“Slept well, Princess?” he asked in his normal voice, his arrogant self again. He was still wearing his school uniform, thus, Hermione figured that he hadn’t gone back to Hogwarts yet since he came in the afternoon.
Frowning, she rose from the bed, putting the robe around her shoulders, whilst hugging herself. It was too long and the hem reached the ground. She sat on the chair next to Draco’s.
They didn’t speak for a while. Draco had his arms crossed, his usual frown on his face, while glaring at Ron with his eyes pierced at him, as if he blamed Ron for being stuck with Hermione in this dull place, and it was hardship for him.
Sensing his mood, she said again, “I told you to leave, didn’t I? You didn’t have to stay here.”
“Just shut it, Granger. I’m not in the mood to argue with you,” he mumbled, clearly irritated. “Visiting hours are almost over anyway. It’s almost 10. I only spoke to the chief matron to wait till you wake up, and since we don’t have permission to stay overnight here, get dressed because we’re leaving.”
“Now who’s being bossy?” she groaned, rolling her eyes.
Why was he always so angry? she wondered, yet his actions were the contrary of how he treated her, as if he was having a hard time, just for once, to be nice to her.
“Thank you,” she said nonetheless, not looking at him.
“What the heck for?”
Yet again, to Hermione’s surprise, Draco was being gentlemanly. Since Hermione only wore a sweater and her trench coat was too thin, he had insisted that Hermione kept his robe on despite the chilly weather. His hands were shoved in his trousers pockets, as he made long strides ahead of her down the path from the train station towards the castle.
Once inside the castle, they reached the massive main staircase that would lead them to their respective Houses. She threw him a sideway glance, not knowing how to thank him for his apathetic, yet well-meant companionship. But Draco didn’t take the staircase to the dungeons; instead he headed for the one leading upstairs.
Realising his intention, she said quickly, “No, you don’t have to come with me. I’ll be fine. And thank you.”
It was the third time she was genuinely thanking him, and with each word of gratitude, she felt her heart swell for some reason she didn’t understand.
He disregarded her. “You gonna sleep there or what?” he said mockingly, looking down at her from the higher stairs.
They walked a little together when the atmosphere between changed, making Hermione suddenly wonder what had been going on in Draco’s mind all afternoon. When they reached the deserted third floor, Draco then rounded on her and clasped his hand over her mouth, beckoning her to be quiet. He dragged her behind a statue, his hand remaining on her mouth, his lips close to her ear. Panic came over her.
Oh God, I knew something’s wrong with him, shot into her mind. She tried to struggle free, scream, open her mouth to bite his finger. But he held her too tight. He was too strong and she felt too exhausted and drained of all energy to resist.
“Shh, shut up,” he seethed, grabbing her struggling hands. “I don’t want them to hear us.”
“What?” her voice a muffle against his hand. Then she heard voices down the hallway.
“No, you’re crazy! You can’t do that, Hayden. I won’t let you!” A girl’s high-pitched, reprimanding voice, which Hermione didn’t recognise. “You are aware of neither the outcome nor the consequences of your actions!”
“Quit telling me what to do! You’re not my bloody mother for bossing me around!” the boy, which Hermione instantly recognised as Hayden’s, retorted angrily. When Draco released Hermione’s wrists, she giggled nervously despite herself, thinking that Hayden almost sounded like Draco when angry. Then he removed his hand from her mouth, putting a finger to his lips to indicate to be quiet. Relieved, she chuckled to herself when she realised that for only a split second, she actually thought that Draco was going to harm her. He pulled a face, wondering what she found so amusing.
“Hayden, wait,” the girl called after him. “Hayden, think about it first. If you spike their drinks, let’s say, Hermione’s, then Hermione will be infatuated with you and not with Draco. Think about how awful that would be. You’re making it worse. Merlin, Hayden, I know how desperate you are, but you’re not thinking clearly.”
“I’ll be sure to make him do it,” Hayden said, sounding self-assured with himself and with whatever he had planned.
“No, Hayden,” the girl replied. “The person who drinks the potion will be madly obsessed with the person who brewed it, and not with the one who administered it to the victim. And how are you going to make Draco do it, eh? You didn’t master any spells other than the basics.”
Hermione and Draco exchanged a worried look. “What are they talking about?” she squeaked in mortification, feeling confused. He hushed her to be quiet again as he listened closely.
“I don’t know,” Hayden said, bursting out into a fit of laughter that he almost sounded like he’d gone mad, “I don’t fucking know. Thought you’d do that for me, Naomi. You can perform four spells—advanced spells, I might add—at the same time, after all, can’t you?”
“Shh, keep it down,” the girl, Naomi, hissed.
“Ouch, stop hitting me!”
“Give me that potion,” Naomi demanded. “Forget about this plan for the time being and we’ll come up with something else.”
“There’s no time, don’t you get it? And I’m running out of time because it doesn’t seem like they’d be shagging each other in the nearest future.”
Hermione let out another squeak, and in front of her she felt Draco squirm uncomfortably. Only then did she realise that she was leaning against his broad and very warm chest, and his arms were wrapped around her torso. They pulled apart—her cheeks feeling hot and Draco’s face turned beet red. He stared very interestingly at the suite of armour beside them.
“If you were in my situation, you’d understand my little crisis,” Hayden stated hotly, storming off.
“Bloody Merlin, will you just stop walking out on me? I’m talking to you,” Naomi shrieked, her voice echoing in the hallway. “Look, I understand how you feel. But you can’t force them to anything, Hayden. What will you do—lock them up in a room and wait till they have sex?” she scoffed. When she spoke again, her voice was then gentle, “Hayden, we both may know how much Draco loves her and cares about her, but she doesn’t. And as long as Hermione doesn’t reciprocate his feelings, then nothing will happen between them. And, Gee, you can’t force a girl to fall in love with someone like that.”
Hermione heard Draco gulp beside her. Blushing furiously, she touched her cheeks and looked to the ground. What is this all about?
“Oh, are you crying now?” Naomi asked softly. Hayden gave a mild chuckle.
“Don’t be silly. ‘Course not,” he said, sniffing. “That—that just sounds almost impossible, you know? How did he do it before to make her, erm…agree? He must’ve done something really grant to impress her.”
Before?! Hermione thought, now she understood that they were talking about some other people; two students from this school, perhaps, coincidentally having the same names. Or—or perhaps it’s a silly practical joke involving Draco and Hermione, for a school play, maybe? God, who was she fooling? There were no school plays at wizarding schools.
There was a brief silence, until Naomi spoke again, “I have no idea what he did. But whatever it was, he must do differently now or else the cycle will just repeat itself and we’re back at this point again. Now we don’t want that, do we?”
“Certainly not.” Hayden sighed; then he said in one breath, his voice cracking, “I don’t want her to die. I’d do anything to prevent that.”
Draco stiffened beside Hermione, causing her to look up at his face, which had turned ash-white all of a sudden. Her own heart was racing. Without realising, she took his hand in hers. He was trembling.
God, what was going on? What do these people want from us?
Then, when she felt that chilly breeze at her neck, another question popped in her mind, who are these people?
“Let’s go,” Naomi said to Hayden, “I have to pay my father a visit.”
“It’s late. They won’t let us in.” Hayden made a yawning sound. “And I’m too sleepy, anyway. This whole conversation exhausted me. Where’d you think they went off to the whole day?”
Hermione noticed Draco’s heavy breathing. He had his eyes closed and lips pressed to a tight line until they looked white. His jaw was clenched and the vein at his temple was throbbing wildly. Hermione squeezed his hand once, trying to calm him down. This whole issue seemed to be affecting him more than it was affecting her, even though these people were talking about Hermione’s death.
Were they responsible for Ron’s condition? Were they planning to attack and kill Hermione? Oh God! No. Impossible. Hayden seemed to be too protective of Hermione; certainly he couldn’t mean that he wanted to harm her in any way.
And what was this thing about Draco and her, and getting them together? Hermione shivered at the thought that Hayden and this girl were making plans to get them—Draco and Hermione—together, and not only to make them date each other as she previously assumed, but to the extent that they actually slept with each other. What was the whole point? She blushed again, shaking her head to ban the images from her mind of her and Draco having sex.
Before she could continue pondering regarding this whole confusing mess, Draco pulled her hand and stepped forward, dragging her behind him.
“Wha—? What—what are you doing?” Hermione hissed through her teeth, panicking. She looked at Draco’s back, his hand clasping hers like irons. He didn’t pay any attention to her.
Both, this girl and Hayden turned around curiously, their eyes widened in shock. Hayden flinched, looking at his companion for help. This girl, Naomi, who, Hermione noticed, looked strikingly like Cho, frowned, her hand instinctively searching in her robe pocket for what Hermione could only take to be her wand. She beckoned Hayden to take a step back, whilst lifting slowly her wand towards Draco and Hermione.
Hermione followed suit, searching with her free hand for her wand, but she had difficulties unbuttoning the long robe she was wearing. Merlin, why did she have to keep on Draco’s robe, anyway? And even his wand she couldn’t find. Looking up, she saw him pulling out his wand from the back of his trousers pocket.
Hermione bumped against him when he suddenly stopped walking.
“Who...the fuck...are you?” Draco snarled as he pointed his wand at Hayden and his companion, his hand not letting go of Hermione’s.
Hayden placed a hand on Naomi’s wand hand, whispering something to her. He seemed as though he was searching for her understanding or…perhaps, her permission? She only responded with a beseeching look, as if to say, ‘don’t!’.
And then Hayden stepped forward; there was a smirk on his face, identical to Draco’s.
Hermione could feel the blood in her veins freeze even before Hayden spoke.
“I’ve been looking for you all day,” he said with a glint in his eye, “Mum, Dad.”
A/N: YAY so Hayden's gonna tell them the whole story. How will Draco and Hermione react? *suspense*
Chapter 20: Disaster
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A/N: Sorry for taking so long to update. :( But this chapter was really hard to write, and then both, my beta (Fallstar) and I, had been really busy.
This chapter is mainly told in Draco's POV.
The last time Draco was called ‘Daddy’ was when he was a ten-year-old boy; it was part of a role-play with little kids—his mother’s friends’ daughters. The kids were half Draco’s age back then, maybe even younger, and they used to visit the manor once in a while so that Draco had playmates. Stuff what normal mothers want for their lonely, moody sons. But what wasn’t normal was that she had let Draco play ‘Tea Party’ with those girls, with animal stuffed toys as guests and Mr. Rabbit plushie as the host.
But ten-year-old Draco, despite the humiliation he felt and anger towards his mother, whom he had only wanted to make happy, and despite himself, Draco had actually enjoyed spending time with other children. Even if they were all girls. And it wasn’t always girly tea parties and plushies, but anyway...
One of them, the youngest, Hailey was her name, used to follow Draco around and call him ‘Daddy’ in her childlike voice especially in front of all the adults. According to the girl’s mother, Hailey was actually a timid and shy girl, who didn’t like other children. But for some reason, she had liked Draco, clung to him like nasty ivy, or like the grapevines that climbed the wall of the summer villa, and followed his every step around the manor. She was a little sweetheart, Draco thought now, with her big green eyes and faint freckles patched on her doll-like face, had worn her light brown hair in a pigtail and always carried Mr. Rabbit around with her.
‘Daddy’, Hailey had called Draco in a sing-song voice, ‘You’re my daa—ddy.’
He still smiled at the memory of that, however uncomfortable it made him, he knew he adored children, but there was no chance in hell he’d ever admit it to anyone.
None of Draco’s mates knew about this, of course; it would ruin his sturdy, bad boy image, that a Death Eater’s son and a Death Eater himself had once played ‘Tea Party’ with little girls, or had been called ‘Daddy’ by a toddler who had favoured him above all.
But right now, staring at a fellow sixth year Slytherin bloke with his blond locks, which looked colourless in the dim-light, hanging in his eyes, smirking smugly at him and calling him ‘Dad’, was kind of disturbing and so not cute.
Draco didn’t trust his own ears, so he glanced down at Hermione to ensure that she had heard the same thing and was positive that she was as perplexed as he felt.
Feeling his lips twitch but fighting back the urge not to chuckle or question that bloke’s mental level, he felt Hermione nudge his side to stay serious. This was the moment she had been waiting for, the very reason she had endured Draco’s presence: to trick Hayden into disclosing his actual intention with them. He knew better than to ruin it for her.
Hayden had seemed rather furious and, for yet some unknown reason, apprehensive about this whole Draco/Hermione issue. He had yelled that ‘nothing seemed to be working according to plan’ and that he was ‘running out of time’—whatever that meant—when he had that argument with this dangerous-looking, dark-haired girl who stood right beside him, pointing her wand at Draco and Hermione.
It was also a mystery to Draco that, only a few hours ago, he had actually believed that Hayden-Cupidhead’s face had been familiar from an earlier time in his life at Hogwarts. That since his first year for example, they had shared a class or two together, that they’d been running into each other in their common room or the hallways without ever acknowledging each other, heck, Draco was even sure that he’d gotten that bloke all roughed up by Vincent and Gregory once, maybe in their third year.
But all those memories now suddenly felt…fabricated. And now he was staring at a complete stranger—two strangers when looking at the girl—who was all wound up about the failure of his attempt to bring two people together he barely knew.
…Or so Draco had assumed, because Hayden seemed to know him and Hermione very well.
“Hayden,” Hermione said into the silence, stepping forward, “w-why would you call us that?”
Upon giving Hayden a stern look, the dark-haired girl called Naomi stepped forward too, lowering her wand. “Well, he’s actually just, ehm…drunk! Yes, drunk! Silly excuse, eh? But it’s true, y—yeah, we’ve been drinking earlier and now he’s talking nonsense. Like, y’know, some people do striptease when they’re drunk,” she pulled at Hayden’s shirt and dragged him away while she spoke, slowly retreating, “—others throw up and fall asleep on the loo,” she said over his protests, gut-punching him,“—while Hayden calls everybody ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad. Ha-ha...ha.”
“Stop it, no, that’s not it,” Hayden fumed, vainly extracting himself from her clutches. She wouldn’t let go.
Giggling loud enough, she pinched Hayden’s ear which caused him to cry out, fake-scolding him that she’d never let him drink a drop of liquor ever again, fake-warning him how he was making a fool of himself if he didn’t stop, that she’d kick his behind. Her control over his ear led him to stumble and nearly fall.
“You need to sleep this off, Hayden, seriously, quit embarrassing yourself. It reflects badly on me,” she rebuked him as if he had serious metal problems. “Now let’s go!”
“Ouch, gerroff me, no, let go!” Hayden protested, grimacing in pain.
“Just shut up!” Naomi said nervously. “Do I have to remind you that those two are prefects? I don’t want to get into more trouble,” she hissed through gritted teeth but just loud enough for Draco and Hermione to hear. She then called over her shoulder, “Won’t happen again, guys, sorry. Goodnight. Goodn—”
“NO! Get the fuck off me!” Hayden finally exploded; his face and ears red. Draco winced, so did Hermione. But this Naomi seemed to be brazen enough to smirk in his face. Hayden growled, “They should know who we are, Naomi, who I am. If this is the only way—”
“This is not the only way! And let’s face it, Hayden, you didn’t seem to have put any thought into what your actions will cost you, did you?” she retorted angrily, completely suspending her own charade.
“Guys, calm down,” Hermione said, holding up her hands, “there’s no need to fight. Whatever it is Hayden wants to say, I would be most grateful if he just told us.”
Draco scoffed. “Beat it, Hermione,” he said under his breath, “I’m sure they aren’t even listening.”
Hayden managed to tear Naomi’s clutches off from his shirt and fingers from his reddened ear as he spun around to face Hermione. Something flickered up in his eyes: desperation—at the fact that his whole life depended on whatever he wanted to say.
“Listen to me, you’re my moth—”
“Silencio!” Naomi yelled. A flash of light shot from her wand and hit Hayden. Staring at her with horror, he clutched his throat as if gasping for air. Naomi laughed wickedly. “Speechless, eh?” she sniggered.
“Seriously, this is wasting my time and I’m too tired for this!” Draco said at last, turning on his heels to leave. “I’m going to bed. It’s been a long day. Are you coming, Hermione, or not?”
“But what about…Hayden…” Hermione trailed off, looking concerned. She seemed torn between leaving and helping the mute boy, who threw his most pathetic and pitiful look at her. And this look eventually did it to Hermione. She fell for dirty tricks like this, her social conscience always having a heart for the oppressed and helpless. “Don’t you even want to know what’s going on? It seems important.” As she stared from Hayden back to Draco, she lowered her voice to a whisper. “They…they might be responsible for Ron’s condition and all the strange incidents that’s been going on in here since they ‘arrived’. Let’s just hear him out…please? It involves us, too.”
Draco groaned, said nothing and folded his arms. He couldn’t just leave her here with these two psychos, could he?
Naomi had tried dragging Hayden away again, but he wouldn’t oblige, so they somehow ended up in some struggling, scrambling fight. Hayden formed voiceless words, maybe cursing her, while Naomi hit him over the head: either she could understand what he was saying and didn’t like it or she just wanted him to get some sense back. Either way, Hayden remained stubborn. Naomi was slightly superior to him as she was using magic to win over control, while Hayden was seemingly holding back in order not to physically hurt her. Hayden eluded being hit by her spells again with quick, astonishing movements, until he had her in a headlock. Naomi was scratching his arms, kicking and struggling, trying to bite him.
Watching the whole scene, Draco wondered why Hayden wouldn’t just use his wand too to defend himself, like wizards would. Maybe he was a Squib.
Before Draco realised, Hermione had stepped in to intervene by casting a spell, which propelled the couple from each other towards opposite directions. Removing the Silencing Spell from Hayden, Hermione pointed her wand at both of them, making the effect to take them on if they as much as breathe again. Draco raised his eyebrows in admiration at her.
“Now stop this or I’ll deduct points from you, for loitering in the hallways past curfew,” Hermione snarled, assuming her role as a prefect, though it was clear that neither Hayden nor Naomi actually cared about house points. “I’ll jinx your behinds to the next era if you don’t tell us what this is all about!”
“Next era, eh? Where we originally come from?” Hayden mumbled, causing Naomi to frown at him. The two were acting like children, at which Draco had to roll his eyes and shake his head. Hermione’s glare silenced them at once.
“Now tell me who you are and what you want from us. Right. Now!” Hermione demanded.
Draco heard from the distance footsteps approaching, almost rounding the corner and flickering lantern light filling the corridor. Shit!
“Is anyone there? I heard you, you worthless pests, I’ll be sure to assign each of you with nasty detention, ungrateful filthy students…” It was Argus Filch, the caretaker, his voice echoing in the hallway. Draco spotted Mrs. Norris as the damn cat hissed at their direction.
Tapping Hermione’s arm, Draco told her that it wasn’t the time now and that they better leave. But Hermione ignored him, too focused at the ‘intruders’ to lower her wand. She had spotted something on the ground that caught her attention, so she walked towards it and picked it up.
Now, even Naomi heard the approaching footsteps and panicked. She hissed at Hayden, eyes wide, “Grab her!”
For some reason Draco didn’t understand, and despite the fact that these two psychos had, just a minute ago, almost killed each other, they now teamed up and grabbed Hermione. It happened really fast. Draco, in an attempt to help Hermione, felt a tight grip at his left arm when a familiar sensation of swooping through darkness pressed in on him from all directions. There was a feeling of a sudden punch-like pain in his gut, and the next moment he realised that they had Side-Along Apparated. Within Hogwarts. Yet, this kind of Apparition felt different and rather intense.
Once finding his footing, he recognised the torch-lit corridor when he saw the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and the empty, blank wall behind him. They were on the seventh floor.
Naomi wiped her forehead for effect. It had been pretty close; her shoulders slumped forward. “This is the floor that always comes to my mind first whenever I Pseudo-Apparate,” she explained to no one in particular, looking around to ensure that everybody was all right.
Draco didn’t understand what this meant, but he didn’t bother to ask and only looked around first for Hermione.
Hayden, trying to steady himself, held his stomach and frowned at the ground. “I hate Apparition. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it,” he mumbled to himself, looking entirely sick.
Hermione, remaining silent, was standing with her back towards everyone, too immersed at something she was holding in her hand.
“How did you do that?” Draco asked, tearing his eyes away from Hermione’s back to look at Naomi. He stepped backward in fear of what else this witch might be capable of. “It—it’s impossible to circumvent the Anti-Apparition spell within Hogwarts, let alone to Apparate when you’re underage. I mean, not that I care about rules and stuff, but…how?”
“Though my age is irrelevant,” Naomi drawled, shrugging, “I’m seventeen, just like... Oh Cripes, Hayden, you baby, snap out of it already. It’s over.” She walked to Hayden and shook him violently. She was one abusive girl, Draco figured, but he couldn’t help but notice that she cared about Hayden’s well-being, too.
Snapping from his thoughts, Draco lifted his wand at them. “Fuck, who are you? Are you Death Eaters?” he croaked, keeping them at wandpoint but felt his hand tremble. “Who sent you? What do you want?”
Naomi didn’t even dignify his questions with eye-contact or a twitch of her wand; she merely patted Hayden’s back, sneering. “Your magic is no match for me, anyway, so lower your wand if you don’t want to get hurt.”
“Oh y-yeah?” Draco retorted, tensing his wand arm.
“Now stop it!” Hermione cried. “I’m sure they don’t want to harm us, Draco.”
Clenching his jaw, he seethed at her, “How do you know?”
“I don’t,” she said softly, “but I think they would have done it already. Right? Let’s just hear them out, shall we?”
From the corner of his eye he saw her tucking something in her pocket.
He said nothing.
Hayden, upon lifting his head slowly, spoke then, “Look, this might sound bewildering to you but Naomi and I—” he took a deep breath before continuing, “we’re from…we’re from…erm…from the…from…f-f-f…” He peeked up to see Draco and Hermione’s expressions so far, but dropped his head, scratching the back of his neck gingerly and looked away. “This is way harder to explain than I thought,” he chuckled, sighing.
Naomi seemed to have given up on Hayden, temporarily, and leant against the wall, shaking her head.
“From where?” Draco pressed, impatient.
Groaning audibly, Naomi couldn’t bear this any longer, as she punched Hayden’s arm and made him look at her, holding his face in her hands. Her eyes were sharp, boring into Hayden’s.
“Hayden, if you do this now then I’ll be off, do you understand? I’ll go away and never see you ever again! And I mean it, because you’re on the brink of changing everything the moment you tell them who you are.” Tears pooled in her eyes as she shook him a little. Draco couldn’t tell whether those tears were real or not, but Hayden looked rather frightened. “Hayden, look, I am real and I am right here. I can fix this for you and together we can just go back and live on as if this never happened. They,” she said with a nod to Draco and Hermione, “they are just the products of your past. They are not real. They. Don’t. Exist. You created them only in your mind.”
“Listen to that loads of crap,” Draco scoffed, laughing. “They are fucking nuts.”
Hermione held out a hand to silence Draco. “Wait a second. So, you’re from the future?” she asked them in utter disbelief.
Now where did that come from and how did she jump to that ludicrous conclusion? Draco raised an eyebrow and chuckled in amusement, which earned him another stern look from a very pissed-off Hermione freaking Granger.
Hayden and Naomi turned from each other to give Hermione a troubled and very anxious look. Perhaps even they thought that Hermione had lost it.
But Hayden’s eyes lit up, he nodded once, while the girl just raised her eyebrows and opened her mouth. “How’d you—” they asked simultaneously, though with contrasting emotions.
“What the—?” Draco snorted, questioning everyone’s sanity. “Future? Them?”
Naomi nudged Hayden in the ribs, hissing, “Don’t just stand there; say something.”
As this bloke stepped forward, he bit nervously on his thumbnail and stammered, “Yes, we…are. I’m—I’m—I’m—We—”
What a total jerk.
Naomi rolled her eyes impatiently, speaking in his behalf. “This is Hayden Malfoy.” Her eyes met Draco’s when she said this—or rather spat—then stared back at Hermione as she continued, “He’s your very stubborn, ever-impulsive, reckless son from the future who’d naively believed that messing around with a time travel potion and playing matchmaker for his teenage mother and father would be a piece of cake, and now he’s screwed up because he’s interfering with his own conception,” she finished in two breaths. “There, I said it. Are you happy now, Hayden? Was that so hard?” She threw her arms in the air, as if in surrender.
Hayden dropped shamefully his head, saying nothing.
“That’s a crock of shit!” Draco exclaimed incredulously, feeling as though he’d been saying this over and over, “You are from the future, claiming to be mine and Granger’s son? I’ve never heard so much shit from one person before, and that’s saying something because I’m friends with Pansy Parkinson.”
Then, Blondie Freakbrain clenched his fists, glaring at Draco. “It’s the truth, you—you moron!” He flinched and dropped his head again like a little boy who was intimidated by his father. Such a wimp. “Sorry,” he said quickly.
Uncharacteristically of Hermione, she remained silent after Naomi’s introduction of this Future-Kid-Wannabe-Malfoy, processing what had been said as she first examined Hayden’s profile and then Draco’s. She nodded to herself as if a sudden wave of realisation washed over her.
She was seriously buying this absurdity.
“You don’t fucking believe that, do you?” Draco asked her in a very unnatural high-pitched voice.
“Well, time travel is, in truth, possible,” Hermione contemplated aloud, “I’ve even experienced it myself upon using the Time Turner when I was in my third year, travelling a few hours into the past. That you managed to travel back this far, Hayden, I mean, it’s fascinating.” She smiled at him proudly, as if, in fact, praising him for this great accomplishment. Though, after another moment, it became clear that Hermione was not at all praising Hayden’s time travel skills; she had simply been astonished at the intriguing concept of advanced time travel itself, and thus, when it finally hit her to whom she was speaking, she was taken aback and…freaked out.
Hermione had not questioned the advanced magic used earlier when the two freaks suddenly Side-Along Apparated with them within Hogwarts, even though she should have been the first to notice this. Had she even noticed that they were on another floor now? She had been too engrossed at that something she was holding earlier.
And, another thing, even though Hermione had mentioned it earlier, she had not asked the two freaks yet about whether or not they were responsible for hexing Mr. Best Friend Weasley into a coma. Perhaps she’d just forgotten. And who was Draco to remind her?
Something was wrong with Hermione, since the moment they had left the third floor, and Draco was sure that she knew more than she was giving away.
But right now, once she had processed the news, she almost started to hyperventilate.
“Oh God, of all people to knock me up,” she cried, and pointed a finger at Draco, “why him? Are you certain that we’re going to be your parents? Is this some kind of practical joke?”
“Whoa, Granger, calm down. I’ve no intention to touch you,” Draco spat, feeling cross and angry at her tone. “You didn’t seem to be that repulsed three days ago, when you threw yourself at me and started snogging me.”
“And you didn’t seem repulsed either,” she shot back, “If I remember correctly, you were kissing me back!”
“I wasn’t,” Draco said tersely.
“Stop denying, Malfoy! I didn’t make it up.”
“No, not that,” he said, “I mean, I wasn’t repulsed.”
Silence fell between them upon which Hermione’s cheeks took all shades of red, Draco cleared his throat and felt his face glowing, and Hayden’s eyes turned from Hermione to Draco, a grin on his face, while Naomi just looked as if she had seen this coming. She threw a quick glance at something that looked like a small notepad, looking thoughtfully before nodding once, and then tucked it back inside her robe pocket.
After the awkward moment passed, Hermione spoke again, “We’re not even going out,” she stated randomly in a low voice, her eyes fixating the ground. “How far ahead from the future did you come, Hayden?” she asked carefully. “I do hope when I’ve got a somewhat stable job and, well, ‘relationship’ with him, right? I don’t even mind if we’re not married then and...” she trailed off. Her thumb, which she had pointed at Draco in an uncaring manner, she lowered slowly when Hayden shook his head. He almost looked sorry.
“Eighteen years from now,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that before you give birth to, erm…me…by next year in July—28th of July, to be exact—that your relationship with Dad…Draco…was steady. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, does it? As you said, you’re not even going out, though I thought you were,” he finished, looking disappointed.
Hermione closed her eyes, seeming to be in deep concentration. “July 28, so the date of conception would be…the normal term for delivery is between 37 weeks and 42 weeks…that would mean…” she counted backwards, voice shaking, then opened her eyes and screeched, “WHAT?! I—I’ll be pregnant beginning of November!” She spun around at Draco, poking his chest. “You’re not coming near me for the next few months, you hear me?”
Draco swatted her hand off and rubbed the spot she had attacked, spitting in contempt, “You do realise that this is loads of bullocks, some made-up crap, don’t you? There’s no evidence that he’s telling the truth, whether or not time travel is possible. I don’t give a shit! They’re nuts, and judging your reaction, I think you’re nuts, too! It’s not like he presented a scan of your uterus with him swimming inside or his birth certificate with our names on it to support his story.”
“I’m telling the truth!” Hayden said furiously, “W-Wait, I can prove it.” He searched in his robe pockets frantically, growing paler when it seemed like he couldn’t find what he was searching. “Shit, where is it? Naomi, have you seen the old picture you took away from me the other day? Y’know, of Mum? Please, can you give it back?”
Naomi searched in her pockets, too. “Sorry, must have left it in my bag. Or maybe I lost it.”
Draco squinted at Hermione, who had stiffened up and looked away guiltily, her hands in her own robe pockets. What was she hiding? Did she have this picture Hayden was talking about? What kind of picture was it anyway? A picture of the three of them as a family? Ugh… Who’d believe that? But then again, if Hermione was carrying this evidence, and she believed Hayden’s story, why the heck was she hiding it?
Draco was about to voice out his thoughts, but then Naomi spoke again. “Doesn’t matter, just tell them anything only you can know, Hayden,” Naomi suggested encouragingly. “About your grandparents for example. And I mean the Muggle dentists, your Nana Jean and Grandpa Herbert, and not the pompous Malfoys, your Nana Cissy and Granddad Lucius, and their large mansion in Wiltshire.” She smirked sardonically as she eyed Draco and Hermione’s reaction, then looked back at Hayden. “C’mon, you’re a big boy. You can do it.”
Draco felt his jaw drop.
Before Hayden could open his mouth, Hermione suddenly began to laugh, but her laughter was rather…frightening, so scary, so unlike her. Maybe she was scared—Draco didn’t blame her. “Now I know what actually happened,” she exclaimed in some kind of fake-realisation, clasping her hand to her forehead in exaggerated act, “This is the result of sleep deprivation for staying at the hospital by Ron three days in a row. I must’ve fallen asleep on the cot, and this is just some weird dream.”
“From shock state to complete denial,” Naomi tsk-ed. “Just as I’ve predicted…”
Hayden looked worried.
“Anyway,” Hermione said after a moment, her voice unnaturally high and husky, turning to face Draco, “when are you planning to propose to me, Malfoy? How about if you take me out on a date first before knocking me up and ruining our lives for good? Shall we tell my parents first or yours that, even though I’m not yet pregnant, they’re going to be grandparents by next year? I’m sure they’d be delighted.”
“What the fuck, Granger?”
“Oh, and by the way,” she continued, stemming her fists in her hip, “where do you prefer to have sex with me? In the broom closet or in my room?” She then jeered, facing the group, “ARE YOU ALL OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN’ MINDS? THIS—THIS IS CRAZY! CRAZY! And you, Mister,” she pointed at Draco as if this whole thing was entirely his fault alone, “I was serious when I said that you’re NOT coming near me, EVER!” As she yelled this, shaking her head incredulously, she took several steps away from them. With a last glare towards each one of them, she turned on her heels and walked away.
This time, it was Hayden who started to laugh and broke the silence. And then began weeping like a girl. Still laughing. As if all this was, in fact, just a silly prank to freak out Hermione, to fool Draco. He was as insane as his mother, Draco mused, and then flinched. No, this is not happening.
But Hayden’s tears were real.
“Hayden,” his girl friend said, “I’m so sorry. I knew this would happen.”
More tears ran down from his eyes, gathering at his chin and wetting his collar. He didn’t even make an attempt to wipe his tears away. His shoulders sagged forward as he sobbed in his chest, fists balled.
“You don’t understand,” he said, his body shaking.
“I do. Look, it was expected that one of them would react like that, right? I just, I wouldn’t have thought, though, that it would be Hermione,” she said, looking sideways at Draco. Now she wasn’t that aggressive girl anymore; she was rather genuinely compassionate. “Hayden, I mean, what would you do if you found out you have a child out there? Let alone, a son who came from another time and turned your whole life upside down? Wouldn’t you react like that, too? Just give her some time and she’ll eventually come around to it.”
Hayden wiped at his eyes angrily, pressing them shut as if refusing to understand. “First, my father left me when I was a child. And now my mother—literally—turns her back on me and just walks away. Like my father! I must be an ogre that neither of them wanted me! I thought I could change it this time,” he sobbed, biting his trembling bottom lip. “And all I wanted was to save her…”
Something inside Draco was triggered by these words. Even though he didn’t believe the whole story, Draco felt that something bad would happen if he didn’t do anything about it. He noticed the same, strange reaction deep inside him when he had looked into Hermione’s eyes and felt her slipping away like dry sand through his fingers, just like in his bad dreams when he saw her falling through a dark, bottomless pit, and his fear grew stronger when he envisioned her like this.
This wasn’t the first time Hayden mentioned something about ‘saving his mother’s life’—saving Hermione. Whether this crazy bloke was telling the truth or not, Draco couldn’t just stand there and wait and do nothing until it was too late.
“Well, I am still here,” Draco said into the silence, “I—I may not be the Draco from your era, but assuming…let’s just assume I believe you—” he shrugged, staring into Hayden’s eyes that resembled his own, as if looking in a mirror, “—how can we save Hermione?”
Hermione walked back to her common room but froze mid-step once she reached the entrance. Something held her back: a familiar feeling, some instinct that she could never forgo helping a friend…or her family.
Was this all for real? Part of her believed Hayden, but her logical part was scared and refused to believe.
Everything just felt so surreal. A seventeen-year-old boy, the same age as she is, appeared out of nowhere, informs her that he is her son from the future, technically inducing her to a relationship and making her fall in love with his teenage father, Draco Malfoy, to prevent some horrible event that will befall her in later years. (He might not have directly mentioned this part to her but this was what Hayden and Naomi’s fight was about earlier, wasn’t it?)
God, and she thought Professor Trelawney was odd. Come to think of it, Divination in her third year seemed almost more plausible now. Perhaps she shouldn’t have dropped out if she knew that, only three years later, she’d be facing her teenage son. She’d have paid special attention in the areas ‘Seeing’, and ‘Palmistry’, and ‘fortunetelling’, and perhaps…
What the heck?
“Okay, calm down, Hermione,” she told herself, trying to hold back her tears. It wasn’t like it was ordinary to receive news like this in everyday life—meeting your teenage son even before you get pregnant, damn it, even before you have your first actual sex. Who was she, Sainted Mother Mary?
“No, stop.” That was inappropriate and blasphemous. She blinked her tears away and ran her hand through her bushy hair.
And Draco Malfoy—the father?
How could it have happened? She wasn’t one who’d jump in bed with some guy, let alone with Malfoy. She didn’t sleep around or engage in unprotected fornication.
What was her future-self thinking?
Next July. She would be mother of a baby boy…
She would be mother at the age of eighteen (well, almost eighteen, since it would be two months before her birthday in September), still a student at Hogwarts. By next year in July…
Next July? Oh God!
No. No. It won’t happen.
Clasping her hand to her mouth, she felt tears running down her eyes.
She shoved her other hand in her robe pocket, retrieving the Muggle picture, the one that had fallen out of Naomi’s pocket when Naomi and Hayden had been fighting. It was the same Muggle picture Draco had taken of Hermione in the Muggle Studies Classroom with the Polaroid camera, except that…this picture looked as though it had been in Naomi’s possession for years, seeing the yellowish, washed out colours, the blurry ink stains on one edge, the overall poor quality of the picture.
Instinctively—upon realising that she was still wearing Draco’s robe—she looked in its chest pocket and found the same Muggle picture, but this one was clearly new. Taken three days ago.
And why on earth was Draco Malfoy carrying this picture around with him?
“Hermione,” someone called. She turned to see who it was; it was Neville. “What’s the matter? You look kinda worried.” She looked up at him and wondered where he just came from. “I’ve been calling you like three times. Aren’t you going in?”
“Yes, I will. I’m sorry, it’s been a long day for me,” she said wearily, waving him off.
“Have you been in the hospital? How’s Ron doing?”
“What? Oh, Ron…” She sighed; remembering him made her realise that she wasn’t at all having a weird nightmare about a future-son, who came back to shock her with ridiculous news about being Draco’s future-wife and becoming a mother at barely eighteen. Because the incident with Ron was real. “He’s doing fine. He’s on his way of recovery, I think, I’m not…really sure.” Feeling too exhausted to explain, or to think, she looked away and took a deep breath, hoping that Neville wouldn’t press with further questions.
“I see. That’s good news,” Neville said, moving towards the portrait. “Professor McGonagall assigned me to patrol for you since both Gryffindor prefects were prevented from their duties. Was just for tonight.”
“Yeah, thank you, Neville,” she replied half-heartedly.
“Now come and get in,” he said, stretching his body and scratching his head, “I’m so tired. Aqua Mentis,” he said the password to the Fat Lady. The Fat Lady groaned in annoyance but revealed the entrance without further ado.
Very reluctantly, Hermione shoved the two pictures back in her robe pocket and followed Neville inside their common room, banishing all troubling thoughts aside of a future-son and Draco, her future-husband-and-father-of-her-child, and of a comatose Ron at St. Mungo’s.
Pulling the velvety curtains of her bed aside, Ginny peeked around the room and noticed that her dormmates were fast asleep, their soft snoring punctuating the silence. She threw her bathrobe on and got up, and as she headed outside, she could’ve sworn that the door upstairs to the sixth years’ dorm just fell shut. Someone must have just returned past curfew, and she wondered who it could be.
When Ginny descended stealthily the stairs to the common room, she became aware of the flickering fire in the fireplace, where Harry was slumped on the armchair. His arms were crossed over his chest, and messy hair was sticking up in all directions. He looked as though he hadn’t slept for days, dark circles shading his eyes; he just stared almost unblinkingly at the fire.
“Harry? You’re still up?” Ginny asked in the silence, moving slowly towards the couch and sitting down. “Did you see who just went upstairs? I thought I just heard someone entering the sixth years’ dorm.”
Harry startled as though she’d appeared out of nowhere. “Ginny, oh, hey, what’s up? Oh, what? Yeah, Hermione just came in, but she didn’t notice me.” He frowned, his green eyes flickering dangerously at the fire. “Why are you still awake?”
“Couldn’t fall asleep, and I thought I’d take a walk outside, but nevermind.” She shrugged, not looking at him. “Hmm… where could she have just come from? She must’ve left St. Mungo’s hours ago.”
“Ginny,” Harry said, turning to her, “what do you know about this bloke, Hayden Malcolm—something? He’s had classes with me, the teachers don’t seem suspicious, not even Snape when he calls him out in class, or…even Dumbledore. But there’s something wrong about that bloke…like he doesn’t belong here.” Sighing deeply, Harry shook his head thoughtfully. It was obvious that he’d been pondering about this all this time. He ran his hand through his hair. “Maybe it’s just my lack of sleep and now I’m starting to go insane, I dunno. But something’s fishy about that bloke.”
“I know what you mean, I feel the same about Hayden,” Ginny said darkly, “but I’ve a gut feeling that we can trust him. He’s just a student, Harry, don’t worry about him.” Ginny felt a mild breeze against her neck, the same feeling whenever Nearly Headless Nick or Bloody Baron or one of the other house ghosts swept behind her. It was an uncomfortable sensation. Except this time, none of the ghosts were around, and where that cool breeze just came from, she didn’t know. Ginny rubbed the nape of her neck. “It’s actually Hermione I don’t trust.”
“What? How can you say that?”
Ginny shrugged again. “I dunno. It seems like she’s been hiding something from us.”
“Ginny, she’s spent hours by your brother’s side at the hospital, worrying about him,” Harry said fiercely, defending Hermione, “What do you think she’s up to, though?”
“Well, ever since she started hanging out with Malfoy, I feel like she’s changed.” Biting her thumbnail thoughtfully, Ginny went on, “You see, when I’m at the hospital, Malfoy’s there, too, watching over her. And Hermione only relaxes when he’s around. And then Ron…I don’t know, Harry, I don’t feel like…like…” she trailed off.
Harry eyed her sceptically. “Like what?”
“Like it’s him,” Ginny finished, gnawing at her bottom lip. “You see, when I was five years old, Fred and George locked him up in the attic. Ron’s been crying and eventually fell asleep. I just came home with Bill, and I knew at once that something was wrong. I’ve always had this connection to my brothers, but especially to Ron, I don’t know. Anyway, I knew at once where he was even though I had no idea what Fred and George had done to him. They said they forgot about him, and when they remembered, we all rushed to the attic, and he’s been unconscious because of the heat—it was in the middle of Summer, y’know—and because he’s been scared.” Ginny smiled sadly. “Now when I’m at the hospital, I don’t feel any connection to him, like it’s not him lying there.”
“Terrible things happened to Ron, Ginny,” Harry reminded her, “you’re probably still in shock. I don’t blame you.”
“You don’t understand,” Ginny mumbled, “Harry, this might just be a thought, but I think we should look for Ron here in the castle. I think he’s here somewhere.”
His mind felt clouded, as if a layer of white fog had permanently settled on his brain and whatever he did to shake it off, it wouldn’t dissipate.
For the past few days he’d awoken in the middle of the night, looking around the unfamiliar room and finding himself in a bed that wasn’t his, amongst people his brain tells him he know, and passing as somebody that part of him had always detested. How was this possible?
Rolling and tossing around, and kicking the blue bed sheet away, he wondered what he was doing there, or where he was. This wasn’t his dorm, deep inside he was aware of this, but how did he get there? No one brought him there—he’d usually go there by himself, do the things he’d usually do, just in a different ‘body’—yes, this was how it felt; like being trapped in a different body. He’d been going in and out of this common room as if it was a natural thing; the common room required solving riddles, but he knew he never needed to solve any riddles before…when he was…what was he doing here? He felt a wave of confusion wash over him again. Like every night. Whenever he forced himself to remember.
He couldn’t remember exactly who he was. People called him “Michael Corner”, but why would they call him that? Was that his name? Corner was a Ravenclaw bloke that the redhead girl from the other house once dated…that girl…he knew that girl. What was her name? Ginny. Right. Even Ginny had called him Michael earlier. Why would she call him that name; it didn’t feel like it was his name.
Something was wrong, he felt it surging within him…that memory, as though it was stuck somewhere. He only needed to remember.
But what exactly happened?
”No! No! No!”
“Stop being a baby,” Naomi scolded, “now give me your hand.”
“Can’t you just get it here?” Hayden suggested.
He stood about a safe distance away from Naomi and Draco, who was gradually feeling uncomfortable holding Naomi’s hand. Merlin, why did she have to hold his hand like this—with their fingers intertwined and palms pressed together? Why was Goldilocks making such a scene? This was why Draco was doubtful of Hayden’s parentage; he could impossibly have produced such a whiny, weepy, and frail son like Hayden.
Thinking of Hayden—a seventeen-year-old teenager; Merlin, and even a year older than Draco—as his son—the thought was absurd and scared the hell out of Draco.
He let go of Naomi’s hand. “I’m sorry, I thought I can do this, but this is silly.”
“What?” Both, Naomi and Hayden, exclaimed at the same time. “What do you mean?” Naomi asked. “For Merlin’s sake, we’re just going to Apparate to another room, where it’s safer to show you Hayden’s memories. We can’t do that in this hallway.”
“I didn’t mean the Apparition,” Draco snapped, “I mean, I’m not really looking forward to see what awaits me in the future, and how I’m going to fuck up Hermione’s life. Wouldn’t it be the best if I just leave her alone, not intervene with her life at all, because apparently I’m the reason she ran off in the first place. Didn’t you see her reaction? She only freaked out upon realising that I’m the one who’ll knock her up before she even finishes school!”
“No, wait,” Hayden said quickly, grabbing Naomi’s hand, “all right, let’s Apparate. I think I can handle it this time. S’rry, was just giving my mind and body some time to prepare.”
Rubbing the back of his neck, Draco felt uncertainty overwhelm him, stronger than before.
“Dad,” Hayden said this time, a plea in his voice, “if you stay away from Mum then I will never be born. This is like…like…abortion! I’m begging you not to kill me. You don’t want to be a murderer, right?”
Naomi looked at him with her eyebrow raised, then nodded in agreement.
Draco gulped at the words Hayden used to guilt trip him. That bloke clearly knew how to manipulate him. “What’s the point anyway? I’m going to be a miserable father; you said it yourself, I will only abandon you. What difference does it make whether I do it now or at some point in the future?”
Now, Draco realised that this boy, Hayden ‘Malfoy’, might perhaps be somehow related to him, because he was as a coward as Hayden was, as weak and emotionally fragile. Great.
Before he was about to leave these freaks behind, he threw a last glance at Hayden. “By the way,” he said, “if you really do want to do Hermione a favour, and if you really care about her—” shit, why was he doing this? “—bring Weasley back to life, will you? Whatever you wannabe timer travellers did to him, revoke the spell and spare her the worries, all right?”
Hayden looked angry and disappointed, but he didn’t argue.
“And one more thing,” Draco added, “don’t call me ‘Dad’. I’m not your father.”
As Draco turned away and left, he heard their voices behind him.
“What now?” Hayden mumbled.
“I knew he’d chicken out,” Naomi sighed.
Hayden paced up and down the hallway, kicking the wall angrily.
“For Christ’s sake, will you please calm down?” Naomi chided, “I’m trying to think.” She looked at her notepad and checked the dates and notes scribbled inside. “Guess, we can’t do anything for today, Hayden. I’m tired; we should call it a day.”
“No, no. No way.”
“Hayden,” she said, stretching his name, “there’s nothing we can do now. I’ll Apparate to St. Mungo’s first thing in the morning and fix the matter with Ron and Michael. But right now, I’m too exhausted.”
“Is there really nothing we can do?” Hayden asked desperately. “What if we talk to Mum again?”
“Don’t be stubborn. You think only after a few minutes later she’s like changed her mind and suddenly believes you?”
“She does believe me; I have a feeling there’s something about her,” Hayden said, “I’m sure she’d not just forsake me like that. I meant a lot to her, after all. You’ve no idea what we went through when I was a child.”
“You’ve told me that story lots of times before, but this is the teenage Hermione we’re talking about; she’s not yet your mother. There’s no bond between the two of you yet,” Naomi drawled wearily, rubbing her eyes, “I’m sure she’ll come around and seek you out tomorrow. Just give her this night to sleep over it. Was a lot of information to take, after all,” she finished with a yawn. “Now go back to your common room. I’ll go to bed now, too.”
“Where do you actually sleep?” Hayden asked randomly, trying to buy some time.
“What, oh I made myself a bed in the Room of Requirement, of course,” Naomi explained smugly, “I can’t just stay in the Ravenclaw girls’ dorm with my mother around, now can I?”
“I see,” Hayden replied. “And you’ve performed an Identity Protection Spell or something on yourself, or how does it work?”
“Hayden, please, go to bed. I’m tired.”
“I’m too wired up to fall asleep now,” Hayden mumbled, though he rubbed tiredly at his eyes, too. “D’you think if we’d just brew an Asportation potion to go back to our time, then all this…well…kind of like never happened?”
She snorted. “As if that was so easy,” said Naomi. “I would’ve started brewing the potion a long time ago. But most of the ingredients are missing. The Scamandars provided us with the rare ingredients, right?”
“Yeah, who helped you, by the way? I mean, you mentioned that you stole some of the ingredients from Mrs. Scamandar’s stockroom. But what about the rest? Did you have a copy of the Potions book?”
“I used the old one you left in your bedroom.” Naomi slouched down against the wall and pulled her knees up. “Hayden, you should really go to bed.” Yawning again, she tried making it clear that she was too sleepy to engage in this mind-numbing conversation with him.
“And what’s that notepad in your pocket?” Hayden asked curiously, “The one you’ve been peeking at this whole time?”
“Nothin’,” she drawled. “Just my notes.”
“May I have a look?”
“Why not?” he snapped, plopping down beside her. “Let me have a look. I promise I’ll leave you alone then and we’ll think of something else tomorrow. C’mon, Naomi.”
She pushed him away. “No, cut it out or I’ll jinx you.”
“Please, let me see. Please?”
She clutched her pocket. “It’s just a few notes on your parents. Nothing important.”
“Nothing important? It’s about my parents, for crying out loud.” Hayden grabbed her hands and dug in her pocket. Naomi felt too exhausted to care and just handed it over to him.
Hayden flipped through the pages. “I—I can’t believe it! How’d you acquire all this information about them? Not even I know this much about them. Mum hardly ever told me about her and Dad.”
“I’m an excellent detective, ain’t I?” she said, smirking wearily.
“Not funny. How’d you find all this out? Their ‘first kiss’? Wha—date of ‘first time’? Oh Holy Jesus! Most of this is about Dad’s teenager life; who he’s dated before, and everything about his failed attempt of courting my mum? What the…” He snapped his head to her, looking disgusted. “Don’t tell me…don’t fucking tell me you’ve been fixated with my father! I’ll kill you!”
Naomi burst out laughing, suddenly feeling hyper. She hit his arm and snatched the notepad away from him. “Don’t be silly! That would really be inappropriate, don’t you think? Long before you found out that Draco was your father, you were about four and five years old, remember? He lived in my neighbourhood. He took care of me.”
“He provided me with all the information I’d need about him and your mother,” Naomi said tersely. “Just in case, he said.”
“What? But that would mean that he was still alive when I went back in time.”
“Exactly,” she said with her head tilted to the side, “After all, it was he who sent me after you, Hayden. And now that Hermione and Draco know the truth anyway and our future has been altered now, I guess it’s time to tell you the whole truth,” she said, sighing, “and this time, I will not Obliviate you.”
A/N: Remember in an early chapter, Naomi told Hayden the truth but then Obliviated him? If he finds out this time that he was actually responsible for his mother's death, do you think he'd still want his parents to be together?
And, btw, thanks for all the feedback.