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Chapter 3 : Rumors
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“Hey Harry! Over here, come over here!” Ron gasped in between sips of fresh pumpkin juice, drawing Harry from his thoughts and over to the Gryffindor table.
“Hey Ron, what’s up with everyone? Something seems different,” Harry said puzzled. He sat down and turned to observe the buzzing hall before him.
“I dunno,” he mumbled while stuffing his face with pumpkin pasties. “By the way, have you seen Hermione? I haven’t seen her all day and it is obviously not like her to miss any classes.”
And that is when the rumors surfaced. At the mention of Hermione’s name, both Ron and Harry were suddenly clued into what was currently plaguing Hogwarts’ social scene.
“Hermione? I heard she blinded Draco Malfoy last night on her way back from the library,” Seamus explained.
“Oh, I heard he tried to blind her and it backfired,” Dean replied.
“I heard that they were in the midst of an intense duel and Hermione got the better of the stupid prat,” another put in.
“I heard they were having an affair and Malfoy’s wand went off… you know when,” another dared to mention.
And the rumors continued on and on and on—getting worse with each speculation. The only common similarities that Ron and Harry could elicit from the numerous stories cascading through the room were the names Hermione and Draco.
Both names used in the same sentence, they knew something was not right. Harry and Ron, of course, were not stupid enough to believe any of the rumors floating about; they knew Hermione too well. Unfortunately, they also knew that their fellow classmates thrived on fresh gossip and couldn’t guarantee that the rest of the school would be as skeptical of the rumors as they were.
“Draco, will you hurry up! If I can dress myself with my eyes closed, you can definitely do it blind. It’s not that hard. Your shirt goes over your head and then your arms go through the…” Hermione said, obviously irritated at the pace with which Draco had chosen to get ready.
“Chill out woman!” he retorted, interrupting her explanation.
“I don’t want to miss dinner. Thanks to you, I haven’t eaten since last night,” she stated, making it very clear to him that she would kill him in the next twenty minutes unless she had something to eat.
When Hermione finally guided Draco out of the Hospital Wing, she let go of him immediately and stayed a precise seven feet away from him at all times. Of course, this made walking a bit difficult for Draco since he had no idea where he was going.
Draco managed to bump into seven walls, fall down one flight of stairs and smash into sixteen coats of armor. All of these incidents, of course, left Hermione unfazed and with no more of a desire to help him than when she had first found him the night before. She rather enjoyed seeing him close to tears for once. It was almost refreshing.
A true Gryffindor, Hermione could only stand Draco’s pathetic desperation for so long. As much as she enjoyed seeing the Slytherin in pain, she could not ignore her duty to her house and more importantly the values she had a responsibility to uphold. So, in an effort to pacify her conscience, Hermione moved a precise three feet closer to Draco and started calling out directions, so that Draco had a slight chance at preventing any future bruising.
“Right, Draco. Right—no the other right,” she called out from behind him.
“Make up your mind!” Draco yelled in frustration, “Grrrr… Hermione could you just lead me to the Great Hall for goodness sakes. You know, take me by the hand.”
“Touch you? Ummm, let me think. No!” Hermione mocked. “Besides, we are here.”
Draco could hear the familiar bustle of students and indeed recognized the sounds to be reminiscent of the Great Hall. The pair entered into the room, eager to get their hands on some much-needed nourishment. As soon as they did, however, an ear-shattering hush engulfed the room. Every face was turned toward Hermione.
Shocked by the reaction her entrance received, Hermione froze. She didn’t know what to do. She saw how her best friend, Harry, handled the unusual amount of attention everyday of his life, but never had she been in his position—never until today.
Suddenly, whispers broke out. She heard bits and pieces of many conversations, still frozen to the spot.
“See, I told you. She blinded him.”
“Ah ha! I was right. They are having an affair!”
“A pureblood and a mudblood—what a saga.”
“She’s disgusting and he’s mine!”
She couldn’t take it. As if her legs had read her thoughts, Hermione bolted out of the room. Draco could feel her pass him and could almost hear her tears burn her skin. He heard the rumors too and as much as the whole “love-affair” idea disgusted him, he knew it more than disgusted her—it hurt her.
“Hermione! Wait, Hermione. Don’t leave me—I don’t know where…” Draco began, but was quickly interrupted by a slight scream of panic.
Hermione had run out of the room, passed Draco and passed her seven feet limit. She was upset, embarrassed and now blind.
“Oh my God! Why did this have to happen to me?” she questioned in between the flash flood of tears streaming down her once cheerful face.
Having no choice but to inch closer to Draco Malfoy, she found him and regained her vision. Her composure, however, was long gone.
“Sorr… Sorry Draco! Can we please go back to our room?” Hermione pleaded, hoping that for once Draco would not bicker or protest or be his Slytherin-self.
“Sure,” Draco said with an unusual hint of sincerity, “As long as you guide me this time—with your hand, I mean.” Surprised by the undertone of sympathy in Draco’s voice, Hermione let out a grateful sigh.
They left the Great Hall together, leaving their fellow students to concoct more stories about their ridiculous twist of fate.
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