Chapter 3 : One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
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Snape sat in his office, thinking about the conversation he had not too long ago with Flitwick. It was obvious where the two stood on their values. Not surprising however, as they disagreed with mostly everything. But perhaps Flitwick had a point. Harry had certainly been through a lot. It did seem inconceivable that with all he’s done, he would be taking everything lightly. Then again, there was his most recent incident. This incidentally landed him a spot in detention today. Sure he was young, but he had to have known better than to pull what he did.
Then there was Neville. Snape knew of the troubles he had been having with his parents. All the staff at Hogwarts was informed. His behavior had not been surprising at all. Snape had seen it before with other students. While the situation was always different, the consequences that ensued on the child were always the same. The only thing that surprised Snape was who it happened to. It was good that Neville had gained some more confidence, but he was using it in all the wrong ways. This was quite apparent by the amount of times Neville had received detention this year. Only three times, yet it was a record for him. Snape had been the one to give him this detention. He had been walking to the courtyard when he overheard some shouting. He quickly recognized it as Neville and Goyle. It was Neville Snape had heard first.
“You want to say that to my face, Goyle?” Neville had walked up behind him. Goyle was there with Crabbe and Malfoy. Goyle turned and looked at Neville with a frown.
“How dare you speak to me, Longbottom! Don’t you know who I am?” Goyle’s face contracted with revulsion.
“How dare you not speak to my face when you refer to me! And to answer your question, I do know how you are. You’re one of Malfoy’s pathetic little goons! He says jump and you say how high, am I correct? Tell me, how much does he pay you for your services? How much is the going rate for a friend to hang on your every word these days?” Neville inched closer to Goyle’s face as he unloaded on him. Goyle’s face changed from that of arrogance to shock. He paused as Neville waited for an answer.
“What’s gotten into you Longbottom? Your parents rubbing off on you?” Goyle asked quietly. Snape started walking toward them, preparing to collect some house points and reprimand the both of them. He stopped when Neville’s fist made solid contact with Goyle’s jaw. Then it was just fists and feet flying through the air as the two boys tumbled to the ground. Malfoy and Crabbe just backed away, mouths open and eyes wide as they watched the fight. Snape was shocked as well, although he didn’t show it. Instead he walked quickly and purposefully to Neville and Goyle rolling around on the ground. They stopped with Neville on top, punching and slapping Goyle repeatedly. Snape realized he wasn’t hurting Goyle too much however. He was just exploding it seemed. Snape grabbed Neville by his robes and pulled him off, throwing him to the ground in the process. Neville looked at Snape in surprise, but quickly a mask of anger shone on his face.
“You’re going straight to Dumbledore’s office Longbottom! Now! Fifty points from Gryffindor,” Snape yelled at the lanky boy on the ground. He reached down and grabbed his robe. Pulling him up, he began to walk Neville to the headmaster’s office. He stopped and turned to Goyle. “And for your information, you’re lucky Mr. Longbottom struck you, for that’s the only reason you are not joining us. Twenty points from Slytherin,” Snape sneered at the portly Slytherin lying on the ground. He had a bloody nose and it was smeared on most of his face. “Now get to hospital and clean yourself up!” He turned once more and continued marching Neville to Dumbledore’s office.
Snape wondered what to do with Neville. He wondered what it would take to get him at least halfway back to where he used to be. It was obvious this Saturday detention Dumbledore had given him wasn’t working. Glancing at the clock, he realized he was late to check on the students again. He got up and quickly walked to the room. Swinging open the doors, he quickly walked into the room to find all the students sleeping. He slowly turned around, looking at all the kids. Every one of them was sleeping so soundly, they hadn’t heard him walk in the room. He frowned.
“Wake up!” he raised his voice sternly. No reaction. “Who needs to use the lavatory?” he asked. All the hands rose instantly. Snape rolled his eyes.
Harry sat and watched the others take their seats as Snape closed the door behind him. Draco removed his robe before he sat. He felt a tiny trickle of sweat creep down from his hair line onto his temple. He brushed it away before unbuttoning the top button of his shirt and rolling up the sleeves. Soon others were doing the same thing. Neville got up once more and walked to the window, looking out onto the Quidditch field. Draco got up and walked over to the window beside Neville. Outside they saw the afternoon sun illuminating the field. The sun’s rays sparkled off the rings on either end of the court. A soft breeze was causing the house banners to ripple as if they were water. Draco felt the itch of inspiration and moved back to his seat.
“Bugger, it’s warm in here!” Harry exclaimed as he loosened his tie. Hermione shook her robes to create a draft that would help cool her off. She frowned at the hot sunlight streaming in from the windows. Until now she hadn’t noticed how hot the school can get.
“If I had my wand I would conjure up an ice cold glass of lemon tea,” Neville murmured as he took his seat again. Draco pulled out a paper and a small quill that he kept in his robe for just such an occasion. He thought for a moment, then began moving his quill along the paper.
Hermoine shifted in her seat once more. No longer able to remain seated, she got up and walked to the window. It seemed to be a popular hang out. She looked down onto the Quidditch field indifferently. She obviously couldn’t see what Draco or Neville had seen that captivated their attention. She let her eyes wander back to the room. Noticing Draco attentively scratching something down onto a piece of paper, Hermoine wandered in his direction. Not wanting to appear interested in what he was doing, she leaned against her table and stretched. As she stretched her back, she was able to steal a glance at the piece of parchment. At first, she didn’t believe what she was seeing. Deciding after a few moments of silent debate, she resumed her professed leisurely stroll around the room, this time moving closer to the blonde Slytherin. He didn’t notice her looking until she finally spoke up.
“Malfoy, that’s really good!” she said softly. Draco’s head jerked up as he quickly covered the drawing with his hands. Hermoine jumped slightly, then placed her hand on the corner of paper that wasn’t hid by his hands. He looked down and drew his hands back, allowing Hermoine to slide the drawing closer to her to examine. Draco had reproduced, in almost picturesque quality, the Quidditch field just outside the room’s window. Hermione slowly sat down as she studied the drawing. She glanced up at Draco, whose head was hung down as if he was ashamed of her seeing a non abrasive side to him. If she looked closely she could almost see his cheeks turning pink. Hermione slide the paper back to Draco who did not attempt to hide it this time. She sat nervously picking at a hangnail on her thumb.
“I don’t try to control my friends,” she said softly as she looked at her nail. Draco looked up sharply, shoulders stiffening. Hermione quickly drew in a breath and fidgeted.
“At least, I don’t try to,” she quickly corrected herself. Draco relaxed. “I just try to look out for them. I . . . I know this sounds crazy but I not only think of them as my friends, but like little brothers. And with everything Harry has been through, I . . . I just worry about him,” she kept her voice low so others couldn’t hear her.
“I think they can take care of themselves. Ron has his whole family behind him and most of them are here at Hogwarts. Harry, well, Harry has the support of almost the entire faculty,” Draco said, sadness weaved into his tone so discreetly Hermione wasn’t sure if she heard it or not.
“True,” Hermione tucked a strand of hair behind an ear. She couldn’t help but notice the shadow that had fallen over Draco. Deciding to delve deeper into the seemingly shallow pool that is Draco Malfoy, she nudged him a little more.
“Who do you have behind you Draco? I mean, who chooses to support you?” Hermione slowly focused her eyes onto Draco’s features. He frowned at her question, not knowing how to answer.
“Lots of people. Crabbe and Goyle are good loyal friends,” Draco lied. Actually he couldn’t count how many things he knew about the two on one hand.
“Draco, you just stood there not too long ago telling me that you control your friends,” Hermione pointed to her chair to remind him of that moment, “Now why does that make you feel better about yourself?” Hermione paused, not sure if she should say what she wanted to. She knew in her heart she was right, but she hesitated to make it verbal. Deciding Draco needed to hear it she continued.
“Is it because of your father?” Draco’s eyes turned an icy blue. How dare she? How dare she make such a statement about his father! Rage boiled up inside Draco because she was right. Draco normally would have dismissed her with some Mudblood remark, but this time his mind was blank. He had been taken off guard by her question. He searched his mind for the right response, not finding any. Hermione could see the struggle Draco was losing. If she wasn’t in the room with three other people, she would have placed her hand over his. Draco sensed the sentiment. His eyes threatened to well up with tears as the warmth from her brown eyes permeated his cold exterior.
“Not bad Malfoy,” Neville commented as he passed behind Hermoine, stealing a glance at the paper. Draco snatched the paper that sat between them, not wanting to let anyone else see him participating in a muggle activity.
“Who asked you?” Draco sneered as he folded the paper roughly and stuffed it in his pocket. With a sniff he cleared away any evidence of tears or emotion. As he did so, he shot Hermione a bitter glare. Hermione’s features fell, saddened by the short lengths into Draco’s psyche that she had lost. Frustration overtook her features.
“Figures. What did I expect trying to talk to you? I should have known you would just insult me in return,” she strode back to her seat and sat down.
“What were you thinking Granger?” Draco glared into her eyes. “For what reason would a filthy mudblood think they could speak to me?” A voice said inside his head. He had thoughts like that numerous times before, but it was only now that Draco realized that the voice was his father’s.
“I guess I was just looking for a little bit of good in Draco Malfoy. Looks like I came back empty handed,” Hermoine shot back at him.
“Just go bury your face in a book Mudblood,” Draco mumbled as he glared at her. Searing eyes met his at his comment.
“You’re lucky I don’t have my wand because I don’t think you would like what I would turn you into,” Hermoine warned him.
“What? Another ferret? Is that all you can muster?” Draco laughed. Neville’s ears perked up at this.
“Wait, I thought it was Madeye Moody that turned you into a ferret,” Neville looked at Draco confused.
“He did,” Draco responded. “She turned me into one again the other day. That’s why she’s here.” Harry tried his best to stifle a laugh as he and Hermoine smiled to each other.
“So then why are you here?” Neville asked Draco.
“Because I wasn’t going to take that sitting down!” Draco defended himself.
“No you were going to take it crawling!” Hermoine shot him an insult. Harry’s attempts to hold in his laughter failed at that point. Hermoine joined him in his amusement.
“Hope you can laugh through buck teeth, Granger!” Draco shot back.
“What?” Neville asked, still laughing.
“I turned her into a beaver. That’s why I’m here,” Draco finally answered Neville’s question.
“I turned Ron into a hamster once,” Ginny spoke up. The rest stopped laughing and looked at her in surprise.
“Wow, second full sentence all day,” Draco commented. Ginny chose to ignore that comment.
“It was about a year ago. Don’t tell him I told you though,” She trailed off and looked down again.
“That’s it! For Ron’s birthday this year I’m getting him a hamster!” Harry announced. He reached into his pocket to bring out one of the chocolate frogs he had smuggled in from lunch. Neville’s mouth began to water as he watched Harry take off the shiny wrapper and quickly stuff the morsel in his mouth. He got up from his seat, leaving his robe draped on the back of his chair.
“Got any more of those Harry?” he asked as he sat down at the table Harry and Hermoine were sharing. Harry nodded and gave him one. Neville removed the wrapper and quickly broke the frog in half. Doing so ensured the candy stayed just that, a piece of candy. If one waited too long, they would not be able to enjoy the chocolate, for it would quickly hop away. He looked over at Ginny.
“Hey, Ginny!” he called. She looked up at him just in time to see him toss her half of the chocolate frog. She reached out and caught the chocolate in her palm. She looked at it for a second before popping it in her mouth. Looking back at Neville, she smiled, thanking him. He returned a half smile before turning his attention back to Harry and Hermoine.
“So Harry, do you think I could be on the Quidditch team?” Neville asked Harry softly, meaning for the conversation to be between the two of them. Harry thought for a second.
“Perhaps. What position are you interested in?”
“I don’t know. I just wanted to do something different this year. Something exciting. I’m getting a little bored with plants,” Neville scraped a spot on the table with his nail.
“You Neville? You’re the best in our Herbology class,” Hermoine pointed out.
“You’d never make it Neville. You have to learn to fly first,” Draco joined in the conversation as he sat down in the chair opposite of him.
“Oh that’s right, I forgot. I need a rich father to buy the whole team new brooms before I can be allowed to play,” Neville spat back.
“Don’t say another word about my father or his money. I’m really getting sick of your jokes,” Draco leaned back, folding his arms across his chest.
“I know, it must be so hard to be the son of one of the wealthiest men in the wizarding world. So difficult to have everything you ever need at your fingertips.” Neville continued his rant as Draco grew more upset.
“Just shut up alright! You don’t know me, you don’t know what it’s like!” Draco yelled, quieting Neville and making Harry and Hermoine jump. Even Ginny was startled at her table in the corner. Draco shook his head angrily as he got up from the table. Turning back, he ran a hand through his hair.
“So my father showers me with gifts every Christmas. I can’t even remember all the gifts I got last year for my birthday. Every year I get more. But do you think he even asked me what I wanted? Do you think he gives a damn about me or what I want or need?” Draco yelled. His eyes trailed to the window. He walked towards it, pointing his finger to the Quidditch field.
“Do you think he even asked me if I like Quidditch? If I had any interest whatsoever in the pointless game?” Draco turned back and looked at Harry. “All he cared about was how great Harry Potter was and how I had to do better. All because I’m a Malfoy. Do you know how many times he’s said to me, ‘I will not tolerate any weakness in this family! I’m not about to let you ruin our family name!’ I’m supposed to be the best at everything. And if I’m not,” Draco’s voice cracked. “If I’m not,” he tried to continue, but realized he couldn’t. He just turned back to the window, using all his being to not let the tears fall. The three Gryffindors at the table just looked at each other in silence. Neville hung his head as Draco’s words ran over again in his mind.
“Hey, Draco. I’m sorry mate,” Neville said quietly.
“Just forget it,” Draco dismissed his apology. He thought about walking back to his seat and sitting down, but he realized he didn’t want to be alone either. He glanced at Ginny in the corner. She barely looked up when he walked over and sat a couple seats to her right. They didn’t look at each other until Ginny softly spoke up.
“Is it really that bad?” she said quietly so the others wouldn’t hear her. Draco raised his head and looked into her green eyes.
“Yeah,” he said just as softly, nodding his head. “How about you?”
“My family is so big, it’s hard for my parents to focus their attention on one child.” Ginny tugged on a stray thread from the hem of her robe. “I guess our family lives are quite opposite.” Draco smiled slightly.
Author's Note: just in case you missed it the last two times, the summary says completed, which it is, i just have to wait for the chapters to be validated. I'll tell you when i post the last chapter. Thanks for the reviews! You people are great! If i may, i request one thing, if you didn't like it, please tell me and tell me why. my story can't be that great that all the opinions of it are good! okay, that's all for now. toodles!
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