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Volatility is defined as tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive. My life seemed to be summed up in that one word. At birth, it could have gone only one way. And lo and behold, and very unsurprisingly, it did go that one way. I was born to parents who had expectations for a baby. I grew up amidst the angry rich—a very dangerous environment to grow up with.
Of course I was influenced—I was impressionable and youthful. I was taught that because of my surname, I was superior to everyone else; that I should answer to no one and be someone to be feared and respected. And above all else, I would always be defined by wealth and the company I kept. The wealth was easy enough. I was the sole heir to the Malfoy fortune. The company I kept—proved to be a bit harder. I couldn’t be the Crabbe and Goyle—I had to be the leader, not the follower. And so I took up that role, and I hated pretty much every second, much to everyone’s surprise. Most were unintelligent—very unintelligent. But hang out with a Ravenclaw and I was toast. All were cowards—but hang out with a Gryffindor, and I would be disowned.
Funny enough, being disowned was a huge threat in itself. It was continuously dangled in front of me. I do admit to not being strong. I wasn’t strong—in fact, I was downright living up to the Slytherin name—greedy, ambitious, and cowardly all at once. It was a person I grew to hate but be comfortable with: in conclusion, the worst kind of person. Finally, it all seemed to catch up. My mother threatened to leave and take me with her, something that ended disastrously. It was an event that was life altering. From then on, she no longer had a semblance of freedom—or piece of mind. I was pushed harder than before to live up to my name. The Dark Lord used me to get back at my father for failing and put me up to a job that I would definitely fail. My father threatened to kill my mother if I didn’t do it—work my hardest—redeem the Malfoy name.
I learned true pain that year. The pain that caused tears to fall from my eyes and my stomach to feel like it was heavier than a hippogriff. I was truly alone that year. Professor Snape would offer his help, but I had no idea who he really worked for. The Dark Lord said Professor Snape had always been his, but even at that age I knew there was more to that story. Dumbledore wasn’t a fool to be tricked so easily. I was right, of course, about that. Harry Potter building a shrine to Snape was proof enough. Dumbledore. Dumbledore was defenseless in the end against me, but even then, he convinced me to lower my wand. What he said—about giving my mother safety—almost pushed me to the edge. That’s what I wanted above all else. But before I could wrap my head around the fact that moving to the other side was probably better, Aunt Bellatrix burst in with a cackle and Professor Snape well—finished the job.
The Dark Lord was smug about the entire thing, although he didn’t kill any of us. He needed us in the end. He was a lonely bastard, and I was relieved when Potter finished him off. Potter. Potter is the one thing I will not apologize for. Potter was arrogant, and stupidly brave, always earning Gryffindor points for being an arse. His holier than thou attitude made it easy for me to despise him—that much was real. He loved the fame that followed him—reveled in it. And his two sidekicks were no better—feeding off of his own triumphs.
So when I went back to Hogwarts for my seventh year, you could imagine my elation at not seeing Potter anywhere in sight. I almost suspected he’d come in with a flying carpet, but thankfully, he didn’t use any of his usual dramatic entrances—or any kind of entrance. Neither did Weasley—in fact, red hair was dramatically missing, except of course for the girl Weasley’s. She was sitting next to Granger, who I really had no doubt would show up. She took school seriously. I suppose I did too, but she was always one ahead of me. But now she was several ahead of me. Because I was a Death Eater—not part of the fucking Golden Trio. I knew, even then, getting a job after Hogwarts would be hard. I was surprised that Hogwarts even let me come back.
McGonagall knew though—I think—how everything was with me. I think she saw the relief in my face when the Dark Lord was blown to smithereens. I sat next to Parkinson and Zabini, and the sparse amount of Slytherins looking solemn. There was gloom that surrounded the green decked table. I mean, aside from the usual gloom. No one around the castle would spare us a glance, other than Slughorn, who looked sympathetically toward our table every now and then. The hat was in its usual place, and of course, students began to file in. There was a dismal amount of first year Slytherins—probably because no one wanted to be in Slytherin, and I’ve heard that hat takes that into account.
The song started, and the hat sang about how we’ve rebuilt and it’s time to forgive but not forget. All that crock that no one was really listening to anyway. I looked at the maybe—four—first years sitting around and they looked slightly miserable. One looked prideful—but he was the only one. I wasn’t even prideful any longer. It was all the same to me, one way or the other. Seeing my father behind bars changed my mind about everything.
“Welcome everyone—to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Professor McGonagall stood in front of everyone, with a neutral expression on her face. “We had a hard year last year, but hopefully, it’ll be put behind us. Of course, the last of the Death Eaters must be caught, but they should be no more harm upon our castle. But as always, be safe and be alert. But for now, dig in!”
And as always, golden plates appeared on the tables, laden with delicious food. None of which I felt like eating. Instead, I looked toward Granger again. She was laughing, talking to the Weasley girl. And then for some reason, I remembered her in my house, on my sitting room floor, her face pale and her screams echoing through the room, while Aunt Bellatrix stood over her with that awful knife she had. And I felt vomit rising and pushed it back, breaking out into a sweat. I know that I wasn’t supposed to care about all that—I was a Malfoy. But I couldn’t shake it.
“Draco?” I turned sharply and saw Parkinson watching me, an expression of concern on her face.
“You seem… a bit sick,” she said, moving her hand to place it on my forehead. I moved away from her.
“I’m fine,” I muttered. “This place is just—shit.”
“I can’t believe dad made me come back here,” she said, taking a bite of potatoes.
“I know,” Zabini said quietly. “Mum made me come and I told her it would be terrible and everyone would just be looking down on us.”
“Well,” I said, with a bit of a sardonic laugh, “we pretty much did that for the past six years to them.” Everyone turned to look at me, eyebrows raised. I shrugged and drank some water out of my goblet, not looking at any of them.
“Somebody became a bit of a softie,” Zabini said, snorting. Pansy was looking at me like she didn’t know me.
“Oh get over yourselves,” I snapped. “I’m over all of this shit. I just want to be normal. All those Death Eaters were assholes too—and now look, most of them are dead. Or on the run. I’m not much for either of those things, so I’m just going to shut my trap and not complain.”
“You’re just extra cautious because you have the mark,” Pansy whispered, looking sympathetic. “Don’t worry, Draco, this will all blow over and then you can be yourself again.”
“I don’t want to be myself again,” I said angrily. “I didn’t like it. And I’m not fucking talking to you all about it.” Pansy looked very affronted.
“Fine then, Draco,” Pansy said, with a sneer, “be alone, if that’s what you’d like. I just thought it would be better—in this kind of climate if we’d all just stick together.”
“Right, because it worked so well last year,” I retorted. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see Professor McGonagall standing over me, looking a bit concerned. I looked at the others, who were resolutely staring down at their plates, shrugged and stood up, following her to the corner of the noisy Great Hall.
“Mr. Malfoy—I wanted to ask you something.”
“Yes?” I asked, watching her.
“This is a bold move on my part, I realize,” she said slowly, “but I’d like to offer you Head Boy position.” I stared at her. Was this woman crazy?
“You’re kidding,” I said quietly. She shook her head.
“You were never a bad person Mr. Malfoy, and I believe it’s a good way to get you back on the right track and it will be a vote of confidence on my part in the Slytherins as a group.”
“Oh, so you want to use me to gain back everyone’s favor,” I said, glaring at her.
“No, Mr. Malfoy,” she said steadily. “First and foremost, I care about my students. None of you did anything wrong. Well—that’s stretching it,” she said, at the look on my face, “but your parents were all the true culprits and this silence and anger directed toward the Slytherin table is unfounded. And I think you will do a good job, Mr. Malfoy, otherwise I would not have asked you.”
“Well, thanks but no thanks, Professor,” I said, trying to be as courteous as I could. “But there is no way in hell I’d put myself in more spotlight than this,” I pulled back my sleeve to show her the mark, “already has me in.”
She glanced at it, but didn’t show any signs that she was ruffled by anything I said or showed her. “Mr. Malfoy, I am not really asking,” she said, “I’m strongly requesting.”
“So basically, I have to do it,” I said flatly.
“Yes, basically,” she replied, standing steadily in front of me. “The perks—” she continued, “you will not have to live in the Slytherin dormitories and I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with Mr. Zabini and Miss Parkinson.” I mulled over that for a second and nodded.
“Well yes I guess that’s true—” then I glanced up at her. “Wait,” I said quietly. “Who is the head girl?” At this, McGonagall looked slightly frazzled.
I stared at her and started shaking my head. “There is no way on this godforsaken Earth that I will share a room and half of my time with Granger,” I said venomously.
“I believe that it will be good for both of you.”
“Fuck this,” I said angrily.
“Language, Mr. Malfoy,” McGonagall said tersely.
“Can you just understand that this is probably the worst plan you could’ve come up with?” I asked.
“I understand that I am doing the right thing, Mr. Malfoy. Your bags have already been moved to the Head Boy Quarters. I know that you are unhappy with me now, but I have confidence that this is a good move.”
“If someone dies in there, Professor, it’s on you,” I said, glaring at her. She just shook her head and smiled.
“You both are quite capable of defending yourselves. You’re number one and two in the class.” I didn’t even acknowledge her last statement. Instead, I just walked back to my table, feeling angry and upset. Especially because she was about to announce it to the entire fucking school.
The desserts, as if on cue, vanished, leaving everyone with clean plates. The chatter slowly died down and everyone looked up at the Headmistress, who was standing in the front. “Welcome and welcome back. Last year was trying, but we won’t go into that further. I’d like to make a few notes. Quidditch captains will need to submit their team roster to me in two weeks’ time. The Forbidden forest is just that—forbidden. Mr. Argus Filch, Hogwarts caretaker, has requested that none of the Weasley Wizarding Wheezes are brought into the school. A full list of products is tacked on his door. Lastly, but by no means least, I’d like to congratulate our Head Girl, Miss Hermione Granger—” there was enormous clapping, as expected, and my stomach dropped because I knew exactly what would happen next, “and our Head Boy, Mr. Draco Malfoy—”
The quiet was astounding and I did my best to remain calm and uncaring. But it was a ringing silence and I felt everyone watching me in shocked silence. McGonagall had to clear her throat and then suddenly a huge amount of muttering broke out. Zabini looked at me with raised eyebrows but said nothing. Pansy on the other hand—I don’t think she could’ve held it in if she tried—“With Granger?” she started laughing as she said this. “Good luck with your new best friend, Malfoy. You couldn’t have picked a less attractive girl.”
“I didn’t pick it. It was forced upon me,” I muttered, irritated and burning red. I wanted to jinx Parkinson, she was being so annoying. Finally, after McGonagall finished the rest of her speech, everyone stood up but me, filing toward the doors. Someone cleared their throat in front of me and I looked up to see Granger standing in front of me. I couldn’t help the annoyed scowl that found its way to my face.
“What?” I snapped.
“We’re supposed to um—lead them.”
“They can lead themselves,” I said. “Leave me alone, Mud—Granger.” She just shrugged and walked away, which was probably a good thing. I thought about my first year and how she would have insisted. She no longer insisted. It sparked my curiosity. I wonder what those three really did last year. There were whisperings but no one really knew exactly why the Golden Trio left school. After it was clear they weren’t running, that had been the new center of gossip. But they weren’t spilling. There was rumor that even McGonagall didn’t know. I wonder if it’s something that would have changed them.
This sat in my head as I climbed the stairs to the third floor, took a right, and walked to the eagle statue in the middle. I knew the Head Boy, Jackson, when I was in second year, and knew exactly where the entrance was. I drew my wand and tapped the eagle’s head seven times and flicked my wrist twice. I knew it only responded to the Head Boy and Head Girl’s wand taps and like expected, it spiraled and opened, revealing a set of stairs leading down. I climbed down the steps and into a fabulously furnished living room. It was decked in red and green—Slytherin and Gryffindor, I assumed. The couches were leather and I slipped my shoes off and collapsed onto one. The rug was fur and felt amazing under my feet. I took a moment to flex my toes in the carpet and rub the leathery seat next to me. Bookshelves filled with books lined the walls and there were two desks with fresh flowers in vases. There was a kitchen attached and I stood up, walking towards it. It was large, with every appliance you could think up. I opened the fridge and it was filled with food. Good, I didn’t have to eat in the Great Hall anymore. I walked out of the kitchen and poked my head into the bathroom. It was tiled with green and red, but it didn’t look like Christmas—it was tastefully done. There was a Jacuzzi on one side and a shower on the other. There was a counter with two sinks and when I opened the drawers, I saw every kind of soap, shampoo, face cream, foot cream, every kind of cream, makeup—for Granger I assumed. I walked out of there and saw a room on the other side, with a huge lion glittering on it. It was Granger’s room. I glanced at the entrance and stepped lightly toward her bedroom, pushing on the door. It wouldn’t open for anything. I pulled out my wand and tapped on the door in the same sequence as I did for the Eagle entrance. It still wouldn’t open. Sighing, I walked toward the other door, with a glittering serpent, and touched it, expecting it not to open. But the door opened easily at my touch and my bags were sitting on my bed. I walked toward the center and touched the green and silver bed spread to find that it was silk and felt amazing under my fingers. It reminded me too much of my own room, and how it looked exactly like this.
For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to stay in it.
I walked back out to the living room and sat back down on the couch. I kicked my feet up, lay down and fell asleep. I woke up to the sound of the door slamming. I looked up and saw Granger walking in, looking frazzled. I sat up on the sofa and checked my watch. It was three in the morning. Curious, I looked over at her.
“What the hell are you doing up, Granger?” I sneered. She looked at me in surprised contempt.
“There were Head duties to do—but you wouldn’t know,” she said. She looked slightly irritated.
“I didn’t opt for this job. Why the hell would I want to be around you so much? I might catch something.” She glared at me.
“I didn’t really opt for this either, Malfoy. I would have rather a different Head Boy thanks.”
“You live for this kind of shit don’t you? It makes you feel appreciated and important doesn’t it? You fucking goody two shoes.”
“I’m going to bed,” she said curtly.
I watched her walk to her room and push it open gently, and I couldn’t help but try and peer in but it quickly closed behind her. Grumbling, I just pulled my feet back up on the couch and fell into a restless sleep. It was going to be a longer year than even I could have expected.
“You never mentioned this,” I seethed. Professor McGonagall was watching me patiently.
“Miss Granger, I implore you to at least try." It was the morning before classes. I had a few hours and the first thing I did was go straight to McGonagall, demanding an explanation. Sunlight was streaming through the windows, but none of it was cheering me up.
“How do I try? He’s completely vile!” I exclaimed. “He slips in an insult whenever possible.”
“Try to put yourself in his shoes, Hermione,” McGonagall said, using my first name. Whenever she did this, I knew she was asking as a friend and a mentor—not a teacher. So I shut up and listened. “He’s got problems. Lots of problems. His mother was abused by his father, and so was he,” McGonagall said. “He’s not a bad person—he’s just from a bad situation and has always been forced to make the wrong choices. I believe that now that the threat of his father has passed, he’s got a blank slate and no idea where to start. That’s why I did this. You know where to start better than anyone.”
“So not only do you expect me to live with him,” I said, “I’ve got to help him through his daddy issues?”
“Hermione, try to see it through his eyes,” she said. “It was easy for you—your entire support system was on the good side of things. Professor Dumbledore made me promise him I’d look out for that boy. He told me not to give up on him. And after doubting Professor Snape for so long, I can’t—I refuse—not to trust Dumbledore on matters such as these. And I advise you don’t either.”
“It’s terrible, Professor,” I admitted. “His situation, but I really just don’t know what I can do. He hates me.”
“He hates the idea of you, Hermione. Not you, yourself. Just—give it a chance. Please.”
“Fine. But if I kill him—then you can’t really blame me,” I said forcefully.
“He said something like that too,” she said. “I think you’ll both eventually get along. And I think you can learn a thing or two from Malfoy too,” she said, with a mischievous smile. I glared.
“Yeah—how to be a complete git.”
I walked back to my room, feeling low. I would have to just make a cup of tea, and brood over this now. There was really nothing else to do. But just as I was turning the corridor, someone grabbed me from behind and pulled me into a dark corner. I panicked, pulled out my wand, and jabbed whoever it was in the stomach, causing him to double over in pain.
“Blimey, ‘Mione, what the hell was that for?” I heard a familiar voice moan. I jumped back and lighted my wand, seeing Ron standing in front of me, doubled over in pain. I quickly helped him up, apologizing profusely.
“Oh Merlin, Ron, you can’t just do that!” I said, trying to comfort him, but not really knowing how. “You scared me!”
He righted himself and pulled me towards him, giving me a kiss. “You’re too jumpy,” he said. “But probably because Malfoy is head boy,” he growled. “You didn’t tell me!”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s been a day since I’ve seen you. I’ve hardly had time to write. How’d you know anyway?”
“Ginny wrote us. She finds the time to write Harry,” he said, pouting.
“She’s not Head Girl,” I said, rolling my eyes. “And I got no help from Malfoy last night, so that just made it terrible.”
“Hey Hermione!” Harry said, lunging in for a hug. I grinned and hugged him back.
“Saw Ginny?” I asked.
“Yeah. But then she made me leave so she could shower and get ready for class,” he said, pulling away.
“Oh boo hoo,” I mocked. “You both just saw us off yesterday. Don’t you have work or something? And how’d you even get into the castle? I thought there was supposed to be more security.”
“Oh please,” Ron said, “it’s us. But right now, we have bigger problems.”
“Malfoy,” they both said at the same time.
“What about it? It’s not a big deal,” I lied. That’s definitely not what I told McGonagall. But it was no point to worry the boys. They would just get all huffy and angry and probably jinx Malfoy, and however much he deserved it, it was the opposite of what McGonagall said to do.
“Sounds like a big deal to me,” Ron said (more like growled).
“Why’d she make him Head Boy?” Harry asked, with a disgusted look on his face. “And now he lives with you. Ugh.”
Ron jumped in surprise. “He lives with you?” he asked.
“Well… yes…” I said, “the Heads always live together. You didn’t know that?”
“Perce never said,” he said slowly. “Oh Merlin, what? He might like—hex you in your sleep or something!”
“We can’t get into each other’s rooms,” I said. “But I guess he could get me in the shower,” I mused.
“YOU SHARE A SHOWER?” he bellowed.
“Ron, can you relax?” Harry asked. “You’re attracting attention.” We looked around and saw that a couple of first years were standing around, ogling the three of us. But then, that just could have been because the Golden Trio was standing together in the same hallway. It happened whenever we stood together. Or alone for that matter.
“Yes, we share a shower,” I said. “But we don’t share time in the shower. In fact, I don’t know how this all is going to work,” I said, as we reached the eagle. “But I’m determined not to let that git ruin my year.”
I opened up the Eagle entrance for those two and told them I’d be back in a jiffy and not to bother Malfoy. They exchanged dark looks, and I almost decided against my last minute library trip. But they were big boys who had been through a lot. They should be mature enough to handle it.
The library smelled good—like parchment and old books. Madame Pince nodded as I walked in and I nodded back, going straight to the Potions section. I needed to brew a lot of calming draught for myself—I knew that much. There was no surviving this year without it. I found it and checked it out, rummaging through the pages. I would need several ingredients. A trip to Hogsmeade soon was inevitable. I walked back through the now slowly filling halls. Students were finally out of bed and heading toward the Great Hall for breakfast.
Ginny stopped me, looking happy. “Where’s Harry?” she asked.
“With Ron in my room,” I said, still rummaging through the book.
“Okay, will you all come down for breakfast?” she asked. I nodded absentmindedly and she patted my hair and skipped down the hallway, looking happy. Funny—she was so sad the night before after having left Harry with tearful goodbyes. I knew those two dolts would come down here the day after, and although Ron found it insensitive, I didn’t have a tear in sight.
When I woke up, it was quiet. Sunlight was streaming through the stained-glass windows. I checked my watch to make sure I wasn’t late, but I wasn’t. I stretched and headed straight for the fridge, throwing it open. There was cereal, porridge mix, pancake mix, and biscuit mix. There were just a whole lot of mixes, all which required me to cook.
I grabbed the cereal and poured a bowl, gulping it down. I walked over to the bathroom and it smelled of vanilla and cocoa—probably Granger. I grumbled, wishing I had my own damn bathroom. You’d think that would be a perk. I hopped in and turned on every nozzle I could find, relishing the hot water almost burning my skin. Today would not be a good day. I knew that already. I shook myself dry and stepped out into the living room, where the most hideous sight awaited me.
“What the fuck are you two doing in here?” I asked, glaring at Potter and Weasley, both of whom were sitting on my couch. The Weasel immediately stood up, a glare on his face, to which I almost snorted.
“Why the fuck don’t you have any clothes on? There’s a girl living with you!” the Weasel yelled at me.
“Hardly,” I sneered. I summoned a towel and wrapped it around my waist. “What do you fuckers want?”
“Hermione told us you were Head Boy—” Potter started to say.
“Well you missed the Mudblood, you nimwits, so get the fuck out of here.” The Weasel lunged at me, but I drew my wand and hexed him to the side, where he sat on the floor, rubbing his pathetic red head. I was immediately hit with a jinx of my own and found myself on the sofa from the impact. Potter stood in front of me, his wand drawn.
“Can’t fight your own battles, I see, Weasel,” I sneered. “Potty still coming to your rescue?”
“Harry! Ron!” I turned to see Granger walking out of her room. She glanced at me and then looked at the two of them. “Let’s just go, shall we?” she asked, taking the Weasel’s hand and helping him up. He glared at me, put an arm around Granger, and limped out, Potter behind him.
Parkinson was the first to try and talk to me that day. It was lunchtime, and I was just going to go back to my room, but instead, I was stopped. I turned to see Pansy looking at me angrily.
“What, Parkinson?” I snapped, not in the mood.
“I just came to say that you’re being ridiculous. Blaise and I are just trying to be your friends. Can we just put this behind us?”
“Pansy—” I said, trying hard to be civil.
“Look, I get that the Dark Lord went away and then your dad went to jail, but honestly, you’re not the only one this affected,” she said.
“Oh, like it affected you when you fucking ran off to America with your parents? And didn’t really know the brunt of anything?”
“I wanted you to come with me,” she whispered, reaching for my hand. I pulled it away.
“Pansy, don’t touch me,” I warned. “We were over in sixth year, when you made your choice.”
“My dad made my choice,” she said. “He wanted nothing to do with any of it, and you had gotten the mark,” she whispered, tears coming to her eyes.
“Your dad had the right idea. It’s better for you not to be fraternizing with a Malfoy, in any case,” I said bitterly.
“Draco,” she said. The familiar rush of blood came to my face when she said my name. “I’ve always loved you.”
I laughed at that. “You never loved me, Pansy. You’re not fooling anyone, so you can quit while you’re ahead. You just latched onto the person who could get you the farthest. I’m not that person anymore. Go fall in love with Zabini, why don’t you? He seems like he’ll be alright. Or even better—Potter. You are an opportunist after all.”
I expected tears, but instead, she became angry. “You son of a bitch, we’ve been by your side—been your friends since you—”
“Friends?” I asked, in mock bewilderment. “You and Zabini and Crabbe and Goyle weren’t my friends. You were my pathetic followers. You didn’t know right from wrong and you didn’t care. I hated being around all of you. You brought me down with your stupidity and recklessness. You’re all idiots!” I exclaimed. “The only reason I ever stuck it out with you fuckers is because my father made me. He ingrained into me the importance of living up to the family name. And I’m done. Done with it all.”
“What are you, a Gryffindor now? A Hufflepuff for crying out loud—”
“YEAH!” I bellowed, “IF THAT MAKES ME MORE ACCEPTABLE TO MYSELF!”
“God, you’re a lost case, Malfoy. Your father would be ashamed.”
“Good,” I said, getting truly angry. “If he was proud, I’d know I was doing something wrong.”
“Can you two stop yelling?” I turned and saw a familiar looking girl poking her head out of the library doors to glare at us. Her black hair was knotted on the top of her head and she was wearing green robes. “The war is over, get over yourselves.” Pansy stalked over to her, her wand out.
“You bitch—do not talk to us like that—do you know who we are?” she asked.
The girl laughed. “Yeah—the pig Parkinson, and the ferret burnout Death Eater, Malfoy, I know,” she said. I could tell Parkinson was about to hex this fearless girl, so I pulled my own wand out of my back pocket and pointed it at Parkinson.
“I’m actually Head Boy,” I said, “and if you mutter a curse, you will be in detention till you finally finish your seventh year, Parkinson.” She turned, looking betrayed, but I fixed my glare on her. She narrowed her eyes, turned, her hair flipping behind her, and stalked off. The girl was staring at me funny too and I walked over to her.
“You okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” she said, leaning back and folding her arms, smirking. “But are you okay?”
“Fine,” I muttered. “Why?”
“Because you just did a decent thing. Wouldn’t have expected it from you.”
“Great,” I said. “Who are you anyway?”
“Astoria Greengrass,” she said, closing her book and watching me. “I’m in sixth.”
“Right,” I said, “anyway, I’ve got to go, but just—try not to get in Parkinson’s way,” I said. She nodded and I got up, heading to my room, trying to get Astoria’s blue eyes out of my head.
The rest of the day went normally after that—well as normally as it could have gone. My head was spinning from the day, even though I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t know. I didn’t even know why I came back to school. I guess it was so that I had a semi-shot of getting somewhere decent in the world. The Weasel and Potty wouldn’t need that extra schooling—they can become Aurors even though they don’t know jack shit about anything yet and they survived all this time because of dumb luck and other people’s help. Granger didn’t really have to come back to school. She could’ve just applied for Minister of Magic right now and make it. Just as I was thinking about it, she walked in, looking tired and frazzled, her bag slung loosely over her shoulder. She glanced at me, fear flitted across her face, and she went straight to her room.
I put my feet up on the couch and started reading my History of Magic passage again, expecting semi-quietness, but she was back in another second. She sat across from me. Right across from me. I shut my book and looked at her expectantly.
“What do you want?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. She just watched me for a second. “Well?” I asked, annoyed. I felt like she was studying me. I didn’t like it.
“I just—we have to meet the um—prefects tonight—”
“Good luck with that,” I said, “don’t tell me how it goes—I don’t really give a fuck.”
“Malfoy, I really need help,” she said. “I can’t do it all on my own.”
“Not my problem,” I said, shrugging. “So unless you want me to just hex you, leave my sight,” I said. I was across the room in half a second, and I looked up to see Granger standing up and glaring at me, the tip of her wand steaming. “That is the fucking second time,” I growled at her.
“Not my problem,” she said, glaring at me. “Don’t threaten me again.”
“Fine,” I muttered.
“And you will help me tonight. You will at least fucking be there.” I widened my eyes. She just said fucking.
“Well, I didn’t know you had balls, Granger. You have almost impressed me,” I said sarcastically. “Just for that, I guess I’ll make an appearance.” She let out a little huff thing and then stalked to her room, looking indignant. It would’ve been charming if it weren’t her. “What time?” I called behind her.
“Now!” she yelled back.
“Thanks for the notice,” I grumbled to myself. I pulled my feet off the bed and stretched. I walked over to her room and knocked. It opened slightly to reveal her face. She looked frightened. “Relax, Granger,” I said slowly—I couldn’t help the smirk that immediately lighted onto my face. “Just wanted to know where it’s being held.”
“In the Great Hall,” she said, slamming the door in my face.
Everyone got really quiet when I entered the Great Hall with Granger. I immediately stepped away from her, because I was definitely not going to give them another reason to stare at me. I looked around the room, looking for the Slytherin prefects and my eyes found the same blue ones that I’d seen earlier. I felt something funny in my stomach. Astoria Greengrass was a sixth year prefect then.
All of a sudden, I began to look forward to the job, but not all that much.
We didn’t break eye contact until Granger cleared her throat. “Alright,” she said. “So basically we’re here to go over Prefect duties and Malf—um—Draco—” Well that sounded weird. “Right well most of you were prefects before obviously, but we will have to set up times for rounds and things. There’s a scroll going around with your names and I need you to pair up and sign up for time slots.”
I sat the whole time, watching Astoria out of the corner of my mind and not really paying attention to much else. The sixth year Slytherin prefect boy seemed to be doing the same thing. Granger paced around, shooting me dirty looks every now and then, but I didn’t really give much of a fuck. The meeting ended eventually and everyone hastily left, avoiding me with a pretty huge radius—everyone except Astoria, who was a bit slow about leaving. Granger gave me a look, but I glared at her, and she shrugged and left, leaving Astoria and I to be the only ones in the Great Hall. She smirked at me when she looked up.
“Draco Malfoy,” she said in quiet, incredibly sultry voice, walking up to me. “How come you haven’t left yet?”
“I… um—” I wasn’t sure of what to say.
“I have a proposition for you Malfoy,” she said quietly. I raised my eyebrows.
“Big word for you, I know darling—” she said, smirking. She had the gall—but I admired her for it. “Anyway, I know you fancy me.”
“What?” I asked, genuinely surprised—and a little nervous.
“I’m not blind, Malfoy,” she said, leaning so close to me, I could smell the perfume she must have dabbed on her neck. “Point is, darling—I have a proposition. You’re cute, but word around school and basically everywhere—you’ve fizzled out. You’re not a good Slytherin, you’re not a good anything anymore. Your time has passed. And the thing with me is that I need something solid. Something here, and something now. And I need you to be fantastic. That’s me. I’m a Slytherin girl through and through. You’ve got to be worth it.”
“Call me Tori, would you? Fucking—sound like my mother when you do that,” she laughed.
“Uh—Tori—” I said instead, unsurely. “Right, well, look—I’m solid,” I said lamely. That got a huge chuckle out of her. I wanted to die. And I took what I said back—I don’t admire her—whatsoever. She was making me feel very small. “What’s your goddamn proposition?” I growled.
“Prove you’re a Slytherin,” she said, smirking.
“How? You want me to open the goddamned chamber of secrets or something?”
“Please—that’s so cliché” she said.
“Darling, I want you to break a Mudblood’s heart.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, confused.
“Granger,” she whispered, her eyes full of merriment.
“Grang—what are you—beak her heart?”
“Make the goody two shoes fall in love with you, Malfoy—” she said cattily, “and then I’ll give you a chance. But she visibly has to fall in love with you, and then you visibly have to break her little Mudblood heart.”
“What? That’s never going—that’s impossible first of all,” I said, completely thrown by what she requested.
“Impossible isn’t a word in my dictionary,” she said, with a frown. “But I guess, if you can’t do it—” she said, shrugging and slinging her bag over her shoulder.
“Wait!” I said, surprising myself. I hated hearing that I can’t do something. It pissed me off. “But she’s got Weasley and why would you even like something so—twisted?”
“It’s not twisted. I would like to be with a strong person, Malfoy or not. So show me you’re a strong person who doesn’t run and hide and be cowardly. And Weasley—please. He’s cute and all, but he’s a Weasley," she said, her nose scrunched up. "Plus, he’s not here, is he? And it becomes mighty hard to be faithful to someone who’s not around,” she said, smiling. “You’re a catch Malfoy. With a little bit of time and manipulation, Granger will be wrapped around your pinky finger.” I stared at Astoria, who was smiling. She was breathtaking, she really was. I would do it, if it meant I’d get her in the end.
“Okay,” I said, “but if I succeed, you’re going to Hogsmeade with me on a proper date,” I said.
“Done and done,” she said, with a grin. She leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m excited to see you back in the game, Malfoy. I’m going to go up to bed now. I’ll see you soon,” she said, with a wink. I watched her leave, still in the Great Hall, thinking about what I just agreed to. There was this sinking feeling in my gut, but my anger and pride pushed it away for me. This was nothing to me. It was only Granger after all. And I’m a Malfoy.
That name should still mean something… right?
I pushed open the common room door and saw her sitting on the sofa, books spread around her, even though school had barely started. She didn’t even look up at me. I sighed and made my way to the kitchen, opening the cupboard and staring at the food. I glanced back at her.
“Granger,” I said, in a rougher voice than I meant. Her head jerked up, hair flying everywhere, and she stared at me in surprise. “Um—do you want something to eat?” I asked, trying to maintain eye contact. Her look went from surprise to utter shock and then to suspicion.
“No,” she said, “I’m good—err—thanks.”
“Right, well… I’m making pasta, so if you change your mind, I can just double it,” I said, feeling strange. The shock was back on her face, but she nodded, and turned to her work, tucking her hair behind her ears, a thoughtful look on her face.
I woke up the next day to the smell of eggs wafting through the apartment. I stood up and stretched, and pushed open the door. Granger was standing at the stove, her back to me, a morning robe on. She actually didn’t look too bad. I guess it wouldn’t be too difficult to tolerate seducing her. She turned to look at me and I didn’t know if she was grimacing or smiling. I sucked all of my courage and distaste up into the brightest smile a Malfoy could muster and she stepped back a few paces, her hand inside her robe pocket, probably grasping her wand.
“Okay, what the hell are you doing?” she demanded, folding her arms in front of her.
“Err,” I said, watching her. There was a time in which it was so natural for me to just—make a girl desperately want me with just one glance. I wasn’t a nice guy—I honestly did use girls until Pansy. Until then, I just wanted a girl on my arm—different ones at different times. But I was finding it so hard. Probably because it was Granger. “Well err, I thought that you know—since we live together and all it would be good if we could put all this old stuff behind us.”
She looked very suspicious.
“Please, just—this war’s over,” I said tentatively, “and I’m honestly tired of being this hated guy. And if you know—we were okay, I was thinking that I’d be okay with everyone else in the castle. Since you’re so—you know, looked up to?” I suggested. I watched with slight amusement as her suspicious expression changed to one of slight mollification. She was like an open book.
“I guess—” she said, “but you know it’s sort of—hard, well—to trust you.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m not really asking for that yet. Just civility—and maybe sharing some of the responsibilities around here. I want to chip in more with the head stuff. I get that it’s a privilege and important. And the cooking and stuff,” I said, trailing off and breaking eye contact intentionally. It seemed to be working.
“Wow, okay, I guess that wouldn’t be hard to do—um—okay, well I’m going to go take a shower and try and wrap my head around this,” she said, still staring at me like I was from Mars.
“Right well I’ll just serve this out so you can eat it when you come out.”
“Okay…” she said, still watching me as she left the room. I turned to the eggs and started to spoon them into two plates, grinning at this small victory. Guess I didn’t really lose it after all.
I came back from class that night, completely exhausted. Granger was on the couch and looked up, giving me a tentative smile. I smiled back, trying my best to feign slight awkwardness along with genuine-ness. I shouldn’t be on track to be a Healer. I should have definitely tried a hand at acting or something.
“I’m actually trying to figure out a theme for the Halloween feast. Can you help?” she asked. I stared at the plans before her, tried hard to remember Astoria’s blue eyes, and pushed away the tired feeling in my legs and sat down next to her.
“Well, wouldn’t it just be—you know—Halloween?”
She gave me an almost playfully exasperated look. “Well, I suppose it would be, but I just don’t want a normal theme. It’s either really cutesy Halloween or super scary. You know, there’s a whole huge history behind Halloween. It’s traditionally a Pagan hol—“
“Granger, I read,” I said, cutting her short. I smirked at her. “As much as I seem like I don’t.”
“Oh, no I just assume—Harry and Ron just always need an explanation,” she said, sounding apologetic. I wanted to say that was because they were complete arsehole morons, but I refrained. Insulting her best friend and boyfriend probably wouldn’t be a good start to this whole scheme.
“So let’s bring back the Pagan scares—“ I began to say, before she cut me off.
“You didn’t say anything about Harry and Ron,” she said, sounding surprised.
I hid my grimace, and nodded, not looking at her.
“Not a big deal anymore,” I said quietly. She seemed stunned. “Anyway, like I was saying—you want to head to the library? We can maybe find some books with Pagan legends in them. I’m sure. Pagans were a huge part of the Wizarding world,” I said.
“It’s in the History of Magic,” we both said at the same time.
“I—,” she looked speechless. “Okay.” She stood up and we left the room and started walking to the library. There were only a few people milling around. It was just before dinner time. All of them stared at us walking together. I could almost hear what they were whispering. The Ginny Weasley girl was walking by and jumped in surprise when Granger said hi to her.
“Hermione,” she said, looking from me to her, with a scared expression on her face. I could tell she was gripping her wand hard in her robes. “Is everything okay?” I stayed quiet, even though I wanted to hex her out of the way.
“Yes,” Granger said, giving Weasley a look. “I’ll catch up with you at dinner, yeah?”
“Yeah…” Weasley said, giving her an anxious glance, giving me a threating glance, and then walking away. Granger shook her head and continued to walk.
“It’s weird,” she said quietly. “I never thought—well, I thought you would just resent me more.”
“For what?” I asked, surprised.
“Well… getting your dad in jail?” she said meekly. I glanced over at her. She looked terribly scared.
“Honestly,” I said quietly, “it was more of a relief than anything.”
“What?” she asked, “why?”
“Because he’s a first class arse,” I responded bitterly.
“Was everything okay? Between you two? I mean… did he hit you or abuse you or something?”
I was about to answer but I caught myself and looked over at her. She was watching me and walking, looking anxious and waiting for my answer. “Stop being nosy,” I snapped at her. She blushed red and looked away from me. Shit. “I mean,” I said, trying to level out my voice, “I mean, I just—don’t really feel like talking about it,” I said more calmly. The red receded from her cheeks and she looked a bit more mollified.
“I’m sorry I was being nosy,” she said.
“Nah, it’s a good question,” I replied, but I was already lost in thought by the time we got to the aisles of the library. Why did I almost tell her that? I never told anyone that. Let alone Mudblood Granger. Fuck, this was getting out of hand. I was so into this I was losing it. I had to close up some more and still appear to be open and honest.
To be honest, it would prove to be hard. For some reason, Granger was easy to actually be open too. Maybe because I wasn’t scared of her or anything. It’s just Granger. Your average mudblood. What the hell could she do? But I still needed to watch it. No need to divulge anything to her.
“Err… Malfoy—Draco—um…” I heard her struggle with what to call me and knew that this was actually working. I walked over to her, strategically placing a smirk on my face.
“Yes, Granger?” I drawled out. She flushed red.
“I found some books on it,” she said hurriedly, flipping through the book on top of her stack of five books.
“That was quick! I’m impressed,” I said.
She stared at me. “You’re really not going to add for a mudblood or for you to the end of that?”
“Really not going to,” I affirmed. I felt good for some reason suddenly—probably had something to do with the fact that Astoria was sitting at the table next to Granger, watching us intently, smirking. So because I felt good, I put a genuine smile on my face, which seemed to take Granger back a step.
“Okay, well that’s nice to know,” she said, smiling back. Her teeth were pearly white and a little dimple found its way to her cheek. It was kind of… I didn’t know what to call it, so I pushed it out of my mind.
“Alright, well you go ahead and I’m right behind you,” I said to her. “I actually have to ask Madam Pince about something.”
“Okay,” she agreed, and gave me another smile, before walking off. I immediately turned to Astoria, who was leaning back in her chair and watching me intently.
“That was… cute,” she said condescendingly. I sat down next to her.
“I think it was better than just cute!” I disagreed.
“Not really, honey,” she said, and looked down at her astronomy chart. I took her quill and filled out the four planets she had starred from difficulty. She looked up at me, raising an eyebrow.
“I knew those, you pretentious shit,” she said.
“Oh… err, I’m sorry…” she just shook her head and grinned, before looking back down at her parchment. She rolled it up, put in her bag, and let out a huge yawn.
“Well, you better get back to your lover,” she said, smirking at me, and getting up. “I’ve got a date.”
“How is that even fair?” I demanded, watching her curl a strand of her beautiful black hair with a flick of her wand.
“All’s fair in love and war,” she said quietly, kissed me on the cheek, and walked off, her hips swaying sensuously. She was literally driving me completely fucking crazy.
I was confused beyond belief. Why was Draco Malfoy being nice? Why was he acting like a human being?
"I think he's up to something, Headmistress," I said. We were both sitting in McGonagall's office, with all the headmasters sleeping around us. Except Dumbledore, who was watching the conversation and making me feel nervous. McGonagall raised an eyebrow at me.
"You don't suppose he really wants to be change and gain a new reputation?" she asked,
"But it's so weird. We were actually being playful and joking around the other day!" I said. Merlin, I heard myself and wanted to die. "And what the hell are Ron and Harry going to think?"
"They're going to think that it's completely preposterous, possibly try and come down here, and take care of Malfoy themselves," McGonagall said, with a hint of a smile.
"Exactly! Because it's just completely unbelievable. And Ginny and Neville have both noticed and keep trying to talk to me but I'm just completely avoiding them. He's organizing Halloween as we speak!"
"Well, if it's really bothering you so much, I will look into it, maybe talk to him to try and see if there's any motive behind him other than the apparently unbelievable possibility that he wants to be accepted into society again." I looked down at my hands, feeling slightly embarrassed. But I didn't object. Experience was telling me not to object. It needed to be looked into. It's not like Draco Malfoy ever had a nice bone in his body before this.
"Thank you," I said, standing up to leave.
"Hermione," McGonagall said just as I reached the door. I turned to look at her. "Just—remember that there is no one in this world without a bad side. And on the other side of that statement—there is no one in this world without a good side."
I nodded and left the room, but didn't leave the staircase. Instead I sat down next to the door, and leaned my head against the back wall. I had no idea what was going on.
"You're doing the right thing Minerva. I couldn't have done it any better," I heard the familiar voice of the late Dumbledore saying to McGonagall. I sighed, stood up, and walked slowly away and back to my room.
But before I could get there, I was stopped by a very irritated looking Ginny.
"Tell me what's going on," she demanded. "Are you imperioused or something?"
"No, Ginny," I said, with exasperation. "Come on, let's go to the Req room and talk?"
"Alright, now can you explain?" Ginny asked when we both sat down on the red futon that appeared in the Room of Requirement. I took a moment to admire the room's effectiveness. I wanted a place to talk to my friend and the room responded with an astounding array of tools. There was just a sofa, a box of tissues, a soft rug, and a few candles burning. There were also a few books, including How to Get Your Thoughts Out Without Magic and Dealing with Best Friends: the Witchy Way.
"Well… he's being nice," I said. "And that's about it."
"Oh and that's about it?" she said, mockingly. "I thought you were smart!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, frowning. "It's not like I'm his girlfriend."
"Oh god," Ginny said, making a face. "Don't ever even say shit like that."
"Merlin, Hermione, stop seeing the good in people all the time. Some people just don't have it! And fuck—there's obviously something he's doing. He's up to something and I'm going to give that little shit a piece of my mind!" she said, turning red and angry.
"Ginny, now just wait one second—"
"I mean, can't you remember all the fuck load of hell he's given you? Me? Harry? Ron?"
"I know but—"
"I mean he tried to make everyone's life a living hell. He was a DEATH EATER!" she exclaimed. "Who had a mission to kill DUMBLEDORE!"
"I KNOW!" I said, standing up, angry myself. "And if you just fucking let me talk—" She raised her eyebrows in shock but shut her mouth.
"People aren't always black and white, Ginny, and I thought you'd understand that!" I said. "People do wrong things, but it doesn't mean they're bad people. Just confused. He—just—I have to give him a chance," I said. "It would be horrid of me not to."
"Well good luck," she said, glaring at me. "While you're off being chummy with the piece of shit ferret, I'm going to find out what's really going on. And I'll have a nice bleedin' time telling you I told you so."
"Ginny, please," I said, "don't be angry with me."
"I am angry with you! Your naivety is just—driving me nuts! And you think I'm bad? Just wait how Ron and Harry deal with this."
"Don't—," I said suddenly. "Don't tell them."
"What?" she asked, completely taken aback. "And why not?"
"Because—I don't want them coming down here in an angry panic and doing something they'll regret. Or getting hurt."
She let out a very angry and disbelieving laugh. "You think they'd lose in a fight with Malfoy? Oh Merlin, he's brainwashed you or something."
"No!" I objected, "I don't want anyone to get hurt," I said.
She watched me, frowning, and sat down next to me, grabbing for my hand. "That's what I'm scared of," she said quietly, "that you're going to get hurt. People hurt people Hermione. Especially when you try giving them something like chances. Because he's Draco Malfoy. This isn't some movie. You're not going to make him better. He'll disappoint you."
"That's the risk I've got to take," I said.
"Why? What is it worth?"
"Giving someone a clean slate."
She was quiet. "Okay, Hermione. But I'm still looking into this whole mess. I won't drag Harry or Ron into it though, if you don't want me to."
"Thanks," I said.
"And I don't agree with you at all. I hope you know that."
"I know, I know," I said, with a bit of a smile.
Finally, I climbed back into my own dormitory, ready to sleep. Instead, there was a knock on the window and I opened it up to find Pig sitting on the sill, chirping happily. Smiling I grabbed the tiny bird and untied the scroll on its leg. Pig had calmed down very, very much. He had become somewhat bearable. Even though he still got a little bit crazy when he was offered toast, he was no longer always flying around and not sitting still.
I miss the bullocks out of you.
I grinned. How very Ron-like.
I'm working and all now, but really I have no idea what I'm doing. And blimey, there are tests and essays during training. Wish you were here.
I rolled my eyes. How typical. He wanted me there to proofread his essays.
There's this girl though, in training, from America. Name's Hazel. She's almost as brilliant as you and is helping me get through mostly.
I felt a pang of jealousy. But it wasn't a big deal, I supposed. It was just because I missed him.
I really do miss you though. I'm counting down till Christmas, and that's such a bleedin' long time away. I think I'm going to nip down there soon though. It's far and a bit expensive, but Ginny has her first game coming up anyway, and Harry wants to go see that, so I'll come down there with him.
I love you, 'Mione. Write me if the git Malfoy is bothering you—talking to you—looking at you—saying snide comments—anything. I'll kick that son of a bitch, Death Eater's arse any day, happily.
I almost laughed aloud, but refrained. Instead I read further down, where Harry's messy (not as messy as Ron's) writing was.
Ron's going slightly crazy without you. So am I… these essays are ridiculous, honest. I miss Hogwarts so much, you won't even believe. The Ministry is so dull right now. I wish you were around.
Missing you terribly, but will see you soon—
P.S. Ron's last statement applies with me as well.
I tucked the letter into my book and walked into the common area. There were books lying open on the table and Malfoy was on the couch, sleeping. I watched him, feeling slightly bad about wanting to hide this—situation—from Ron and Harry. But what was I supposed to do? They'd be completely unreasonable.
Malfoy looked—harmless sleeping. His blonde hair wasn't its usual sleek self. Instead it was slightly messy and he had an almost grungy look about him. He was tired. His hand was tucked into the warm part of his neck and his mouth was slightly open. He almost looked like a little kid. I took the blanket from the other sofa and put it over him gently, avoiding touching him or anything. He'd probably get cold or something if I didn't do that.
"Thanks for the blanket," he muttered, making me jump. His eyes were still closed, "Makes me think of mum." He sighed and then became quiet again. I went to bed disturbed. It was strange to have a view of someone that was so strong, you never even stopped to think about why or when or how or where, and then suddenly, something forces you to think about it. And then your decision making just seemingly goes to shit.
"Miss Granger?" Flitwick called on me, because as usual, my hand was in the air when no one else's was. I couldn't help it… Anyway, I responded almost flawlessly—I just forgot to mention the part about the famous Goblin trying to perform the charm and hexing his own sister's nose off by accident. Not that that part was very relevant or anything. "And," Flitwick said as soon as I finished my last word. "Ten points to Gryffindor!"
The rest of the morning went as such. It was only at lunchtime, when Ginny beckoned me to the seat next to her when everything became weird. I felt a tap on my shoulder to see Malfoy standing behind me.
"You want to eat together?" he asked. He couldn't keep completely shocking me this way. It wasn't right. I glanced toward the Slytherin table where Parkinson and Zabini were sitting, glaring at the two of us.
"What about your friends?" I asked, looking over at them.
"Yeah, don't they look friendly?" he asked, glancing at them along with me.
"Right. Well… I just don't think it's the best idea, yet—" I said, feeling bad. "I—"
"No!" he said suddenly, "you're completely right. I'll just go then," he said. I walked over to the Gryffindor table, with my heart in my stomach. I felt terrible.
"Tell me he didn't ask to eat with us," Ginny whispered immediately. She needn't have though. Neither Neville nor Dean were paying any attention to us and didn't even notice what happened.
"What just happened?" Neville asked, as soon as I sat down.
"Um—nothing," I mumbled. Ginny let out a harrumph of disapproval but I said nothing else.
"Is he harassing you or something?" Neville asked, looking angry.
"No," I said, "not at all. Just drop it—all of you," I said, noticing that pretty much every Gryffindor was glaring.
"I'm going to find out what he's up to," Ginny said later, while we sat in the Gryffindor common room (which I had missed) practicing transfiguration.
"Ginny, please, I'm telling you. He's just—lonely, I think. And now that there's no war to fight or side to be on, I think he just wants to be on the side where he's accepted."
"He's a twat," Ginny said, "I don't care what you say. I know I'm right."
"And that's a surprise," I said sarcastically. She transfigured my toad into a porcupine, which pricked me, in retaliation.
"Will you come to Hogsmeade with us next Friday?" she asked. "We miss you."
"Who's us?" I asked, transfiguring my toad into a cat flawlessly. The cat only had time to purr once before I transfigured it back into a toad.
"Neville, Dean, and I," she said.
"Dean's going?" I asked, raising an eyebrow at her. "Sure that's a good idea?"
"What?" she asked, looking innocent. "I mean it's not like I can't be friends with him. Harry won't mind."
"Won't he?" I asked, remembering how jealous Harry was throughout his entire sixth year.
"Well… what he doesn't know won't hurt him," she said. I glared at her. "Well it's not like I'm doing anything wrong!"
"Right," I said, looking away from her, with a sinking feeling in my gut.
"I wouldn't hurt Harry," she said, "why would I do that?"
"Yeah I guess so," I said, feeling slightly better. "Anyway, I've got to get back and continue planning."
"Have fun with your new friend," she said, sounding bitter. "And you didn't give me a Hogsmeade answer."
"Sure," I said. "I'll see you tomorrow Gin."
"Sleep tight, Hermione—don't let the Malfoy bite—" she said cheekily.
IT’S ONLY A HUFFLEPUFF
For the next two weeks, Malfoy and I had become on great terms. We had everything down. He was actually pleasant to be around. I was even considering asking him to eat with us, but I knew that everyone at the table would be complete arseholes to him. So I refrained from going so far. He still called me Granger, and I called him Malfoy, because there was some level of trust that neither of us could overcome. I knew the game was coming up soon though, and Harry and Ron would be here, and then I might have to explain all of this.
But I really didn’t want to.
“Malfoy,” I said one night, as we were both working on our homework.
“What Granger?” he asked, not looking up from his charts.
“Um—so Harry and Ron are coming this weekend for the game and well—I’d appreciate it if we kind of pretend—not to be friends around them.”
He looked up at me and to my relief; he looked amused more than angry. “They can’t handle the mere thought of it, can they?”
“Something like that,” I said truthfully.
“Whatever, fine with me,” he said.
“Err… wow, thanks,” I said. He just shrugged and that was the end of that.
“Granger,” he said after a while of sitting there, “you think I have a chance?”
I looked up from my work, surprised. “Chance at?”
“Chance in this world? I’m fairly disliked. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing all this work for nothing. No one is going to want to hire me.”
“You’re second in class, Malfoy,” I said, “don’t be preposterous.”
“Yes, but I have this,” he said bitterly, pulling up his sleeve to show me his Dark Mark. It was faded now, but by no means was it gone. It looked as horrible as ever, and I couldn’t help but flinch. He noticed. “See? You’re flinching and you know it’s there.”
I looked up at him. He was looking at the mark with disgust and anger, and I felt bad. I reached a hand over and pulled the sleeve down, causing him to jump and pull away, as if something dirty had touched him.
For some reason, I felt hurt and pulled back quickly. Normally, I wouldn’t feel bad at all. It was such a Malfoy thing to do—pull away. At least the Malfoy I had gone to school with.
“I’m sorry—it was reflexive,” he said, after a few moments of awkward silence. I didn’t say anything. “Granger, come on… it was really just—”
“Malfoy, how can you switch so easily?” I asked.
“You were just so—against muggleborns and such and I just don’t understand why it’s not like Zabini and Parkinson where you just stayed that way.”
He was quiet for so long, I assumed I wasn’t going to get an answer. “Maybe because I never believed it, and they did.”
“Of course you believed it,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You were poster boy for it.”
“Funny exactly how much power my son of a bitch father had over me, isn’t it?” he said bitterly in response.
“What do you mean?” I asked quietly. He glanced over at me and then back down at his papers.
“He hurt my mum—a lot,” he said. “And Granger don’t fucking go around and tell people that.”
“I wouldn’t,” I said, feeling sick.
“And um—it was the threat of having her dead when I came home for holiday that kept me the way I was.”
“Fuck,” I said, not being able to help myself, “Merlin’s sake, how the hell—I had no idea…”
“Why would you?” he asked, turning to me and smiling sadly. “Didn’t advertise it. But now he’s in jail thank Merlin, and she can’t be hurt, so there’s no use pretending. I mean—my family name is already to shit.”
“Kind of,” I said, trying to go along with his comic relief.
“Anyway, I guess I just told you—
“Are you nervous?” I asked, sitting down next to Ginny, who was telling everyone decked in the red and gold robes to eat more and more, while she herself ate absolutely nothing.
“Nervous? Me?” she asked, as if it were the most preposterous thing I could’ve said.
“It’s only Hufflepuff,” I pointed out.
“I know. I’m fine,” she said, almost knocking over her pumpkin juice trying to shove a piece of toast down Dean’s throat.
“Is it because Harry’s coming?” I asked, grinning slightly. She blushed and ignored me.
“When is he coming?” Dean asked from across the table. I couldn’t help but glare at him a little. He didn’t notice though, I think.
“Right now,” I heard Harry’s familiar voice say from behind me. I turned and saw both Ron and Harry standing at the table grinning like idiots. Well Ron was. Harry was just kind of semi-glaring at Dean. Ginny jumped up, this time knocking her drink over, and leapt into Harry’s outstretched arms. Their kiss was applause worthy. I got up too and gave Ron a hug and a kiss myself.
I saw Malfoy out of the corner of my eye walking out of the Great Hall and onto the grounds and turned to Ron and Harry, both of whom were mercilessly teasing Ginny.
“Listen,” I said hurriedly, “I’ve got to get to the grounds to set up.” I leaned in and gave Ginny and Harry a quick kiss on the cheek, Ron one on the lips, and rushed out to meet Malfoy.
“Hey Granger,” he said smirking. “I guess I can talk to you now?”
“Yeah,” I said, feeling sheepish. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. Didn’t really feel like getting into anything with the Pot—with Potter or Weasley,” he quickly said, glancing at me.
I smiled. “That’s nice to hear,” I said.
“Whatever, Granger. Nothing you do will make me like those gits though,” he said. “At least you have intelligence. Potter has dumb luck and Weasley—sorry, I know you two are an item—but he’s just—a sidekick,” Malfoy said, looking slightly apologetic.
“He’s not a sidekick,” I protested. “He’s a nice guy—but—forget it. It’s not like your friends are gems or anything. Pansy Parkinson? She’s a complete pig.”
“Hey!” he protested. “She’s more like a complete cow.”
I started laughing and he grinned, a not very Malfoy grin. It wasn’t a smirk, it was a grin. “Hello,” a familiar, very amused voice said. We turned and saw Professor McGonagall standing behind us, neutral as the Headmistress was supposed to be for games, except of course, for the tiny red and gold pin she had buttoned to her lapel. She didn’t comment on our friendliness, instead she went straight to the point.
“Your job is just to enjoy the game and keep an eye out for trouble. If something is to occur, make sure that everyone in the stands are calm. And at the end of the game, make sure there is some sort of order in the chaos. Gryffindors especially can get quite rough—not that I think they will or will not win,” she added quickly.
“Right,” Malfoy muttered. She just gave him a stern look and he shut up.
“I will see you both later, you should be fine.”
Harry and Ron came out and I darted away from Malfoy, not even having time to give him an apologetic look. I was probably the worst try-to-work-on-a-friendship person ever. They both came up to me, making sure to make a face at Malfoy—who—to my great surprise—just completely ignored them.
“What, he’s not going to say anything—cowardly ferret,” Ron said, loud enough for pretty much the entire first two rows of the now flooding in onlookers to hear.
“Ron, can you just—stop?” I asked. He turned to roll his eyes at me.
“Well it’s odd, the cold shoulder.”
“Maybe he’s over it,” I snapped. He looked at me in surprise.
“AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE FIRST MATCH OF THE YEAR—GRYFFINDOR VERSUS HUFFLEPUFF!” Rita Reynolds’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker just in time. I ushered Ron and Harry up to about the fourth row, where the view was perfect, and we sat and watched as Ginny and the team walked proudly into the field.
“He’s not even that good,” I heard Harry mumble as Dean’s name was yelled and he walked out, his chest stuck out, and Ginny swooped by and gave his hair a ruffle.
“Harry, don’t worry about Ginny,” I whispered, turning to a anxiety stricken Harry. “She misses you a lot.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of…” he said, his voice drowned out by the mild roar given for the Hufflepuff captain.
The game went as expected. Ginny flew excellently and made every single shot, to Ron’s chagrin. Dean missed one, to Harry’s absolute delight. The Gryffindor seeker caught the snitch in about ten minutes and the game was over and as usual, the field was swarmed in red and gold. Ravenclaws remained in their seats, because they usually favored Hufflepuff whenever Hufflepuff played. And of course, Slytherin didn’t move a muscle, as they wouldn’t if either team won.
As I went down to give Ginny a congratulatory hug, I caught Malfoy’s eye. He was sitting at the bottom row, by himself, leaning back and watching the chaos. He winked at me, something that caught me off guard, and I looked away quickly, glancing at Ron and Harry. They didn’t see anything though, thankfully, and I turned to give Malfoy a smile back. And just at that moment, when I was smiling at him, something hit me tremendously hard on the back of my head and I fell down. Everything became blurry and deafeningly quiet—except for a loud ringing noise in my ears. I saw something ice blonde streaking toward me and then leaning over me. I was being lifted by strong arms and then everything went absolutely black.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!” I heard someone yell. They were oddly muffled though, and I couldn’t see anything. I was bouncing slightly—rhythmically, but then I stopped. Why couldn’t I see anything? Why couldn’t I say anything? I felt my eyes—they were closed—as if sown shut actually, and I forced them slightly open. But light was something unbearable and I closed them immediately.
“Weasley, don’t you fucking dare touch me,” I hear another muffled voice snarl.
“Malfoy,” I heard a calmer, but still muffled voice say, “put her down now.”
“OR WHAT?” I felt someone bellow, but it felt as if it were right against my ear drum and I let my eyes fly open. I was looking up at Malfoy’s chin. I could even see faint blonde hairs and I had an odd want to touch them. “You’ll hex me?” Malfoy’s chin moved as he said this and I couldn’t help but watch in fascination. “You hex me and then Granger’s on the ground, then what?” he asked, with a slightly amused tone.
“What do you even want with her?” Ron asked. I could hear his voice shaking with anger. “Want to pull an Auntie Bellatrix and start torturing her? Would that make you feel fucking better that your son of a bitch daddy is in jail?”
“Shut the fuck up, Weasley,” I heard Malfoy say in a dangerous voice. I would’ve shuddered if I could’ve mustered the energy.
“Touched a nerve did I? Ron asked.
I wanted to find my voice so desperately.
“Draco,” I managed to push out. The silence afterward was absolutely resounding and I heard someone drop something and it clammer on the ground.
“Malfoy!” I heard McGonagall’s stern voice say. I closed my eyes again, because the light had started to bother me once more. “Granger is bleeding and you three are standing around yelling at one another? Get her to the hospital wing for Merlin’s sake!” I felt brisk walking and I started to rhythmically bounce once more. Darkness decided to take me over again and this time, I didn’t fight it.