Chapter 1 : Watch the World Burn
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Dobby Awards 2007 Best Wielding of Genre
Dobby Awards 2007 Best Romance
Please Note: This story is undergoing revisions. There are inconsistencies throughout at this moment. Thank you for your suspended imaginations for the time being as I give this piece a kick in the butt ^_^
Hours became a painful ticking of seconds. The edges of the world were blurring. Her eyes were swollen shut or pinned open; she couldn’t tell through the pain. Either way, she couldn’t see. All she knew was the tight circle of his arms. The soft tickling of his breath on her neck as he held her. The way it felt to curl into his side and hope for oblivion; wish for the end. She was wishing for it - most profoundly. She no longer wanted to go on, to live like this.
Her arm protested painfully as she came fully to consciousness, dreams slipping away like silken threads. She felt as if she was clawing through the undergrowth of the deepest forest. Night circled her. Her head was heavy and throbbing. She was awake enough now to take in her surroundings; the bed she was lying on and the sheets wound around her legs. The smell in the air was familiar and comforting, but she could not place it. For no apparent reason she gasped in pain, as if her body was remembering what her mind had not yet grasped.
A dark, velvet voice whispered her name. She turned over to find him there, the source of that comforting haze that hung about her. His hands trailed down her jaw and over her shoulder. She followed them, surprised by the wad of white that she found was taped to her arm. She raised her arm, staring at it as her mind grappled with the appearance of the bandage. She tried to remember what it meant, why it was there.
Moments like this, moments where one finds themselves vulnerable and empty, these are the moments where our lives are shaped by those around us. What matters now, what will make the difference between whether you will live or die, is who you have to hold on to when the world closes in on you and your eyes see no more.
Draco, who was in his own room on the other side of the manse, slammed his trunk violently closed as his father’s voice echoed throughout the halls. He was ready to go. He was aching to escape this place.
Draco kicked the trunk. Why didn’t the man just send a house elf to find her instead of bellowing throughout the entire mansion like a fool? There was a violent noise in the hallway as what was presumably a vase met its death on the floor. Thirteen more minutes until his lift was here. Thirteen more minutes and he would be free – never have to return here ever again.
“You know he is looking for you,” he said over his shoulder.
“I can hear him,” his mother answered from where she was standing next to the bed post, a lace handkerchief twisting violently through her fingers. “I’ll deal with him when you leave.”
“He will deal with you sooner than that if you don’t answer him, and you know that, Mother.”
“Don’t treat your trunk like that. It’s been in the family for years. Your own father used that trunk when he was just a - ”
"-Mother," he interrupted. She stopped, heavy set eyes on his. They would not hug. They would not kiss each other goodbye. They stood there, staring at each other for a moment, wordless, before he grabbed his trunk and hauled it into the hallway.
Draco froze. He had been mere yards from the door, from freedom. He turned, allowing the trunk to drop to the ground with a slam. His father was standing at the end of the hallway, between him and the only way out.
“Where’s your mother? I’ve been calling that damn woman!” Draco did not acknowledge the question. “I asked you a question, son.”
Draco looked away from his father as a hand wound in the front of his shirt and violently wrenched him forward.
“I’m right here, Lucius,” Narcissa said softly, emerging from Draco’s bedroom with a black bag in her grasp. Lucius released the boy as she handed it to her son. As soon as the bag had left her grasp, Narcissa was falling backwards against the wall. She fell to the floor with a small cry, tears stinging her eyes.
“Does that make you powerful?” Draco shot at his father.
“Do not tempt me, boy.” Lucius rubbed his knuckles absentmindedly, entirely focused on the woman who was crumpled at his feet. “Stay out of my study, Narcissa. You do not belong in there. Do not touch my books,” he said to his wife. He turned then, without bidding Draco goodbye, and disappeared. Draco was too busy tending to his mother to notice.
As soon as Lucius was gone, Narcissa dissolved into tears. Draco knelt on the ground next to her, silent and untouching. This was the way of things. The only people who ever touched in the house were Lucious and Narcissa and none of them were glancing caresses. Narcissa would inevitably fall and Draco would inevitably sit with her until she was spent.
Draco sat down on the floor, his back against his trunk. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. Soon. Soon he could leave. He stayed that way for some time, his mother's soft sniffling echoing throughout the hallway.
The Head’s common room was outwardly no different than any of the other common rooms at Hogwarts. The entrance was, much like the Gryffindor common room, behind a portrait and the location was not, like all of the houses, the secret it was supposed to be. Hermione had arrived by train about four hours ago and been, to her utter delight, greeted by none other than the looming shape of Hagrid at the station in Hogsmeade. They had wedged themselves in one of the school carriages and chatted enthusiastically about their time spent apart the entire trip, Hagrid mentioning haphazardly that the Head Boy was supposed to have come in by train as well earlier in the day and never bothered to appear, leaving Hagrid waiting outside for almost three hours until Hermione had showed up.
Hermione sighed to herself and lay her book down next to her on the cushioned seat of the common room couch. Ever since she had received her letter from Hogwarts stating that she had been chosen as Head Girl with the unlikely nomination of Draco Malfoy as her counterpart, she had been terrified to begin this year. It was stated that it was required for her to arrive a day early in order to prepare for the arrival of the student body the following day. She had yet to see her counterpart and she was piqued.
Turning to the crackling fire, she clenched her jaw in irritation. She had to form a resolution against the foul personality of her new roommate or she would never survive this year. What had the administration been thinking, placing such a person in a place of authority? It was the most preposterous idea she had ever heard. In fact, upon opening the letter, she had proceeded to uncharacteristically throw an extremely breakable glass figurine at her bedroom wall in frustration.
These apartments were rather nice, however, she was forced to admit. They were very lushly decorated, not leaning towards any specific color or any specific house. The artwork was very interesting, and the hearth was even the same size as the one she was used to in the Gryffindor common room.
Her admirations were violently interrupted as the portrait flung open and a large black trunk was hauled through. She was startled and froze where she stood until she registered that is was Draco Malfoy himself coming into the room.
“Well then,” she huffed as she regained her composure. “How lovely of you to show up.”
“Who do you think you are, Granger?” he snarled as he stepped into the room, brushing off his sleeves and looking about him. “My mother?” His cape somehow managed to make him look much more menacing than usual; the way it swirled about him as he turned. Hermione did not reply. “Granger, I am talking to you,” he said in an aggravated tone.
“I won’t respond if you’re going to be rude,” she informed him.
“Oh, really?” he laughed, pulling the cloak off his shoulders and throwing it over the arm of the chair nearest him. “What was that then?”
He was doing it already! Hermione savagely bit her tongue, refusing to be goaded by him. He had only been in her presence for five minutes and she already wanted to strangle him. She shook her head back and forth to clear it. Do not let him bother you! Establish your dominance now! This is your only shot to show him he cannot trample you if you must live together.
“I know,” Draco said. “My very presence is intoxicating.” He didn’t say it smugly, or as if he even believed it, it was more a sarcastic remark meant to set her on edge. He was teasing her: goading her to fight back.
She settled back onto the couch and met his eyes. “I am sure I am just hungry,” she said levelly.
Draco snorted as if he didn’t believe it and crossed his arms against his chest, eyes apparently intent on the intricate stone working of the fireplace. After a moment of awkward silence, Hermione cleared her throat in an attempt to get his attention, and upon failing, began to speak whether he was listening or not.
“We need to meet with the Headmaster tomorrow, but for now we’ve been left these instructions,” she held up a piece of parchment with the Hogwarts seal emblazoned on it. “They explain what to do tomorrow for the welcoming of the student body. We will meet Hagrid at the front doors tomorrow evening at six and follow him to Hogsmeade where we will help the students get in their carriages and the first years into their boats. I’ll leave it on the table here so you can read it.”
Draco did not respond, and Hermione left him standing there, choosing to close herself in her own room for the night rather than deal with his attitude.
Upon reaching the Hogsmeade Station the next evening, dusk had already settled into dark, and lanterns appeared at even intervals to guide the students towards their transportation to the castle.
“We are responsible for the first years,” Hermione reminded Draco as they stepped towards the platform.
“I am aware,” Draco hissed back.
Hermione turned from him and grabbed a lantern, raising the cry for first years to accompany them towards the lake. Draco fell into step behind her. As soon as they reached the lake, however, chaos ensued.
“Do you think you could try to be nice to them?” Hermione growled under her breath as they loaded the last of the first years into the rowboats. One of the girls had tried to clamor into one of the boats far too quickly and tipped the entire thing over. Draco had laughed as the girl burst into tears.
Draco ignored her and went on to mumble how stupid this was, and all the carriages had just left, so did they have to take a bloody rowboat too?
Hermione was about to retort, and not kindly, when she was distracted by a blur of movement behind her. She turned to find an empty carriage waiting off to the left with a crest emblazoned on the door. “No,” she said, stepping to the carriage. “I don’t believe we have to take a rowboat.”
As she approached the carriage, she realized that there was an odd insignia engraved into the door. She lightly skimmed a hand over the design of a proud roaring lion and a snake slithered around it and two crossed wands, and frowned. “This carriage must be specifically for the Heads,” she observed. “I’ve never seen it before.”
Always the charmer, Draco walked past her and threw the door open and disappeared into the depths of the carriage, saying “Splendid,” over his shoulder.
She sighed irritably and climbed in after him, sitting on the seat across from him, the goal being to get as far as she could from him. He was leaning into the corner, arms stiffly crossed. As soon as she had settled, the carriage lurched into motion. They reached the castle fifteen agonizingly silent minutes later.
Professor McGonagall was a woman who appeared to thrive on chaos. She seemed to be at her best when things around her were falling to pieces, and she could rush in and make everything right. Apparently, Draco and Hermione were late to the feast because as soon as they passed through the large doors into the Atrium, the professor was instantaneously swooping down on them.
“I’m about to bring the first years in. The two of you should already be seated!” she cried as she pushed them through the doors. As they separated from each other and made their way towards their appropriate tables, Dumbledore’s voice was booming through the hall in a moment that felt completely staged.
“Welcome to another year of excellence at Hogwarts!” he said. “Please join me in acknowledging the appointment of your new Heads; Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger!” As if the old man had known they would enter the hall at just that very moment.
Hermione, entirely embarrassed at this point, scuttled her way down the Gryffindor table as they screamed and hollered at her. In front of her, a bit farther down, Harry and Ron were smiling and waving her towards them. She graciously smiled back and hurried to them, quickly taking the seat between them and trying her best to use their bodies to hide her from view.
“Please assist me in welcoming the newest members of our staff,” Dumbledore continued speaking. “This lovely woman will be your newest professor. As you are all aware, the Ministry of Magic has added a new class to our curriculum to promote cultural awareness and the production of well rounded individuals from this prestigious school.”
As he spoke, a slender woman with long, black hair stood from her spot at the head table. “Professoressa Dianna Gragnani,” Dumbledore gestured to her, and polite clapping ensued from the students. Dumbledore, however, was completely unperturbed by the young woman and continued on. “Professoressa Gragnani will be teaching the new ballroom dancing and classical ballet class that has been added to all of your schedules, as I said before.”
As can be imagined, merely the mentioning of this class set the teenage witches and wizards in the hall to groaning. Dumbledore showed no acknowledgment of this except for the slightest tweak of a smile. He gracefully took his seat as food appeared on the table and all thinking of classes ceased.
“So, Hermione,” Harry smiled across the table at her. “Head Girl. We knew it was going to happen.”
“Ay, you’ll get me out of detention now, right?”
“Seamus, no one can help you with that!”
The Gryffindors joyfully laughed at each other, happy to be in each other's presence once again. Hermione laughed with them, feeling lighter than she had in quiet some time. The chatter was all over the place. Who had you met during your vacation? Where had you stayed? What had you accomplished? Who had you kissed? Who were you planning on kissing now? Around and around it went, and soon Hermione was pulling away into her own thoughts as she ate her pumpkin pudding.
Ginny woke her from her reverie. “Who was the idiotic wizard that had decided housing two teenage wizards, often of opposing houses, together for an entire year was a good idea? What about privacy? What about physical boundaries between opposite sexes?”
“It’s Malfoy she’s living with, Ginny,” Ron said through his mouthful of cake. “Not Viktor Bloody Krum.”
Hermione glanced across the hall at the brooding Head Boy and decided there really was nothing to worry about concerning the physicality part, but what about privacy? Was he going to be a prick all year?
“Speaking of crumbs,” Ginny laughed, watching her brother.
“Miss Granger,” Professor McGonagall’s voice flitted over Ron’s left shoulder, and he sputtered in embarrassment, the crumb shower infinitely increasing. Ginny clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from giggling under McGonagall’s scrutiny. “If you will come with me please.”
Hermione rose from the table, the reality that she no longer would be returning to the Gryffindor common room suddenly and violently hitting home. Harry smiled up at her.
“We’ll catch up with you later, Hermione,” he said. Ginny waved. Ron was too busy trying to keep his mouth closed and pick up his mess.
As she bid her goodbyes to her house mates, Professor McGonagall was across the hall retrieving a very sour looking Draco Malfoy. She met them at the large doors that led to the atrium.
“Headmaster Dumbledore has business with another professor this evening, so he has asked me to give you the rundown of your rooms and then you will meet with him tomorrow,” she explained as they made their way back to the Head common room.
“Your separate dorms are to be kept locked at all times. You will not enter each other’s rooms,” Professor McGonagall commanded as they turned down a hallway lit periodically with dying torches.
“No worries there,” Draco mumbled just loud enough for Hermione to hear.
“Of course,” Hermione replied to the professor.
“You will be responsible for organizing the prefects’ meetings as well as orchestrating most school events. You will report directly to the Headmaster.” They came to a halt outside of a portrait. Professor McGonagall turned to them. “Do you have any questions?” she paused.
“No, Professor,” Hermione responded.
“Fantastic,” Draco muttered as he started off towards the stairs.
“Not so fast, Mister Malfoy,” McGonagall called after him. “There to your right is a kitchenette. It is not stocked with food as of yet. If you wish anything to be provided, leave a note for the house elves. As you are both Heads and at the top of your class, this kitchenette is a privilege to accommodate long hours of study. Do not abuse it. You are expected to report to at least two meals a day. You will have a meeting for the prefects as soon as possible to get the year under way and make the schedule for their patrolling duties. Get a good night’s sleep. You have a lot of work to do.” She turned on her heel and was immediately gone.
“About time the old bat shut her trap,” Draco mumbled as he disappeared up the stairs. A moment later, Hermione heard the shower turn on with a loud hiss.
She stood still in the center of the common room and attempted to take a deep breath. She was here. Albeit it had all happened so fast she was amazed she remembered getting here, but this was now home. She moved to the couch before the fire and collapsed into it, suddenly feeling extremely exhausted. She found herself desperately wondering if she was qualified for this job. Especially with the boy she was expected to execute it with.