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Chapter 12 : By The Dark Forest
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Hermione and Draco spent the next couple months of their lives together. Oddly enough, they were completely inseparable.
Every chance that they could, they met up with each other, whether it was in emptied classrooms or near the dark forest, where nobody could see. They met between classes and walked together, a fair distance apart so that nobody would suspect anything, but close enough to be able to smile at each other, as though proud of deceiving the rest of the students. They never really talked openly about their strange relationship, but they were unexpectedly committed to it.
The classes they shared together, were quite difficult. In potions, Hermione might turn around to catch a glance of Draco, who would then grin back, which caused her to become highly tempted to go back and join him, or to simply continue staring at him.
Hermione merely hoped that Ron and Harry wouldn’t notice anything -- hoped that she wasn’t overly obvious. She admitted that forcing herself to be separated from Draco was getting harder and harder to do, which was strange to her.
She valued every second she had with him, like it was precious, but it was never enough. She never felt this way about anybody before, but then again, she’d never been forbidden to have something she wanted so badly.
Finally, Hermione’s birthday came rolling along, and she would be turning another year older.
“This is our last year,” Hermione said to Draco, as they sat outside the border of the dark forest. “Our last chance.”
“Our last chance to do what?” Draco asked, leaning back with his head in his hands, and his long legs sprawled out across the grass.
Hermione pouted at him. “Everything!” She said passionately. “I mean, Hogwarts has been my life, for seven years, and now, suddenly, it’s going to end. It’s rather depressing!”
Draco smiled gently at her, winding a fat dandelion between his fingers. “It’s not the end,” He said softly, “It’s merely the beginning of a new adventure.”
For some reason, this caused Hermione to release a short laugh.
“What?” He asked her, perplexedly.
“It’s just, that sounded rather cliché coming from you, Malfoy.” She bared her teeth in a grin, and Draco gave her a stubborn look. “But it’s true,” she added, watching his face melt back into a smile.
He tossed the dandelion forward and watched it disappear into the long grass.
Hermione sighed and fell backwards onto the ground, so that she was laying next to him. “You haven’t wished me a ‘Happy Birthday’,” she said, “Very rude of you.”
“I know,” he said frankly, his eyes watching the sky above them.
“You can say it now, if you’d like.”
Draco rolled over onto his side, so he was facing her. “Maybe I don’t want to.” He said, an easy smile crossing his face again.
“Well, Mr. Malfoy, that would be just plain impolite.”
“Well maybe,” He said, taking her response into account, “Just maybe I have something planned.”
Hermione couldn’t help but feel intrigued. “I don’t believe you,” she said, testing him for validity.
“Then again, I may not have anything planned. But, don’t you trust me?”
She shook her head.
“Yes you do, don’t lie.” Then he fell back onto the grass.
“I think you forgot my birthday.” She said. “No worries though, Ron and Harry are throwing me a party tonight, in the common room.”
He was silent for a little while, kneading the grass between his fingers. “Am I invited?” he asked finally.
“I doubt it,” Hermione said, her eyes shimmering. “You know what?“ She noted suddenly, “I’ve decided to ignore you now, since you won’t wish me a ‘Happy Birthday’. And that’s all I wished for, too! I thought to myself, ‘All I want for my special day is for Draco Malfoy to wish me a Happy Birthday’. I don‘t even want a gift.”
“That’s a waste of a wish!” He said, laughing warmly, kicking her in the side of the leg with his large boot.
“Hey!“ She cried. “Yeesh. Someone’s in a grouchy mood today.” She in return prodded him in the chest with her index finger, making sure it hurt.
“Oof!” He said, his hand flying to his chest. “This is becoming violent, Granger! Some good girl you are now. I’ve become a bad influence on you! I‘ve turned you into a bad girl.” He winked at her, and allowed himself a little half smile.
“I’ve always been bad,” she joked.
“Ooh. Feisty.” He said, sitting up in order to be level with her.
Hermione sighed, and reached behind her in order to retrieve her brown pack that was lying in the grass. She rummaged through it, and pushed a few things around until she found what she was looking for, a fat book. She tugged it out, and laid it open in her lap.
“Geez, Hermione, do you have to bring books with you everywhere?”
She pointed her lower lip at him, and closed her eyelids halfway. “What’s the shame in that?” She asked. “They’re really quite useful.”
“I can be more entertaining than a book,” Draco said, laughing out loud, his face flushing and his hand over his chest.
“MALFOY!” Hermione snapped, whacking him over the head with her book.
“Hey! That hurt! You are violent!” He said, leaning over her to steal the book away from her.
“AGH GET AWAY FROM ME!” She yelled, rolling in the opposite direction to protect the book from him.
“Give it Granger! GIVE IT TO ME!”
Hermione continued to try to escape him, but he had an advantage in strength and managed to snatch the book away from her. “Aha!” He said triumphantly, waving it out of her reach.
“Noo!” She cried, her hands flailing about wildly for the fat novel.
She struggled helplessly underneath him, but his weight made that an impossibility. He seemed to be enjoying her distressed situation a little too much.
“Hah! Pay back!” Draco yelled. “RETRIBUTION!”
“GEROFF ME MALFOY!” Hermione yelled, pushing at his chest. “You gigantic butthead! You destroyed my book!” She tried to look appalled, but a small glint of a smile peaked through her fake guise of disgust.
“It will do you some good!” He yelled, finally releasing her, so that she fell back winded. “Learn not to be attached to material things. Deal with it.”
“A book is not just a material possession. And for Pete’s sake is that how you always treat a girl on her birthday?” She exclaimed, smacking him across the head again, so that his hair became ruffled and disheveled.
“How would you like me to treat you on your birthday?” He asked, somewhat seriously.
“You could give me my book back, for starters.”
He warily picked it up, and prepared to hand it back to her, as though scared that if he did he might get bonked over the head again.
“Now,” Hermione said, “Give it to me.”
“Wait,” Draco said. “Let’s compromise.”
Hermione widened her eyes curiously. “Compromise?” She repeated.
“Yes.” He said, smoothing back his hair with his fingers. “You have to let me read it out loud to you.”
Hermione burst out into laughter. “You can’t be serious,” She said. “That’s completely stupid.”
“Well, if you feel that way…” He replied, holding the book above her head as though he were about to toss it towards the woods with all his strength.
“Wait!” Hermione said, latching onto his arm. “Wait! Wait! Okay, okay! Go ahead and read it to me.”
She sat cross legged, and waited for him to begin. She watched him lick his thumb and open up to the first page, reading the chapter title and then launching into the text. He had his head leaned forward over the book, so that his bright, sunlit hair fell into his face. She could see his eyes trailing the words he read beneath his lashes. Watching him reading a book made her smile inwardly, and listening to his soft reading voice made her feel pleasantly at peace.
Draco had made it through a hefty amount of pages, with Hermione listening patiently and interestedly the entire time, until Neville came and found them.
Ever since that one day in potions class, Neville hadn’t been nearly as terrified of Draco as he had before.
“Hi,” He said, greeting them both. Hermione noticed that he was blushing slightly, probably at discovering them in such a strange situation. “Um, Ron sent me to tell you that you need to come to the Gryffindor common room. Immediately.” Obviously this was directed towards Hermione.
Looking around, she realized that the sky had become darker, and concluded they must have been out there much longer than she had originally suspected. “Alright,” Hermione said, standing up. “This is your last chance,” She added to Draco, “To wish me a ‘Happy Birthday’.”
Draco just grinned, his eye brows lifting and his full lips parting. “Not now,” He said, radiating.
“Fine.” She replied flatly, finding herself resentful towards him. She crossed her arms and stared him down, offended by his rudeness to her, especially on her birthday.
She was caught off guard however when he came over and kissed her on the cheek. The sharp, but warm sting of his lips lasted for a long time afterward. “Bye,” he said, breathing into her ear.
She shivered, and opened her mouth to speak, though nothing came out. She was truly angry now, because she hadn’t been lying when she said she wanted to hear him say ‘Happy Birthday’. Now he just had to go back to being a huge idiot like he was in the first place. “You rude jerk, I won’t forgive you for this,” She said seriously, and not waiting for him to respond, she turned on her heel to leave.
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