Ronald Weasley wasn’t sure if he should’ve come here in the first place. The meet was supposed to have happened by now. It worried him. Had she gotten in trouble because of him? Frowning, he looked around the place. Maybe he should’ve asked Harry to come along. At least, he would have had someone to talk to. She was probably just late.
A small smile played across his face at the thought of meeting her. He hoped there wasn’t any bad news from her side, though she’d already assured him that everyone was fine during their recent conversation. The familiarity of her voice made him want to cry with ecstasy. His family was something he was holding on to.
Sighing, he ran a hand through his unkempt hair. With every passing minute, dread filled his veins. Was she going to turn up at all? Jumping to his feet, Ron studied his surroundings once more. He wished he could’ve gone past the gates. That, of course, wasn’t an option.
She’s not coming. I should leave. Maybe I’ll inform someone. Dad, probably.
Just as he was about to apparate, he saw him.
“What are you doing in here?”
“I wish you good day.”
It was illogical. Unthinkable, even. How was it even possible for two people who detested one another to fall in love? Hermione rolled her eyes, shaking her head as Lavender went on about the story line of yet another book she’d gotten hold of, a very close relative of Mills and Boons of the Muggle world. They had the same old clichéd story line – beautiful girl meets rough/wonderful/handsome guy, falls in love, fights, makes up, lives happily ever after.
Like that was even possible.
Not her bowl of soup. Sure, those stories were all entertaining, but they were fictitious. Enjoy the book; don't live by it, Hermione wanted to say. Living in a dreamland built up by falsified illusions would do no one any good. How many young girls would come to realize that there wasn’t a Prince Charming? Not many, she thought wryly as she heard another exclamation of sheer joy.
“I totally love the book! It’s absolutely delectable!”
Who would claim a book to be delectable? They were in their seventh year, yet Lavender hadn’t let the fact stop her from squealing in an immature manner.
Hermione let out a noisy, exasperated breath that stopped Lavender just a bit. She looked up from the book. With a small tilt of her head, she raised her perfectly done eyebrow to give Hermione a withering look. “Um, what is it?” Lavender asked, looking confused.
Without a word, Hermione pointedly looked at the clock. Bemused still, Lavender followed her line of vision, and her eyes widened dramatically. She giggled hysterically.
“Merlin! I swear it was, like, twelve o’ clock just seconds ago! Hermione! You aren’t meaning to pull any dirty tricks, right? I mean…” She trailed off with another set of giggles.
It was moments such as these that made Hermione wish she were elsewhere. She mentally cursed the boys who'd deserted her. How had she managed to let them go alone?
Pulling herself out of the battles of her own mind, Hermione answered Lavender with a slight yawn and shake of head. Her tired eyes begged to shut down for the day, but Lavender had accompanied her and begun this ‘important conversation’ hours ago and still showed no indication of stopping. Even after Parvati had fallen asleep, Lavender had continued.
It was another fifteen minutes before Lavender’s one-sided rant died down. Lavender was nice enough, but lately she was having these giggling fits which, in Hermione's opinion, weren’t all that healthy. With another pat of her pillow and comfortable silence in the dorm, Hermione’s chocolate eyes closed for a scheduled four-hour sleep.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The four hour sleep went just beyond seven hours, and Hermione literally awakened as she fell out of her bed. She rushed to get a quick bite of breakfast with tangled hair, bloodshot eyes, and a hassled expression. With the last slice of bread still in her hand, she hurried out of the Great Hall, breaking into a run. She tried to gather her thoughts and recollect where she should be heading to.
Was it Potions? No. She couldn’t see any fellow classmates on the way to dungeon.
Still preoccupied with her musings, she stopped the running only to check her timetable. Her brain drew a blank, and the neat columns of her detailed timetable didn't help. Placing a hand on the top of her head, she let her bag drop to the floor.
Which day of the week was this? Slightly puzzled by her peculiar predicament, Hermione looked around. There wasn't a single being in sight.
She blinked a couple of times, hoping the scene would change. When nothing happened, Hermione felt unease creep in.
This isn't normal!
Slowly, her brows furrowed. A sinking feeling began to fill her as she finally began to notice the missing din of students, the sound of the hurried footsteps of last minute rushers, and, for that matter, the clinking of spoons way back in the Great Hall. She looked down at the bread she still held in her hand and narrowed her eyes. Was it poisoned?
What was happening in here?
“Ouch,” she swore from the pain caused by a self-inflicted pinch. It stung and left an angry red patch on her arm. Eyes closed, she leaned back against the wall, feeling exhausted, and not just from the run. Perhaps this is one of those ‘vivid’ dreams, she thought. It felt all too real
Ten minutes later, she was still standing alone with no indication of any waking up from a dream. Determined to get through this nightmare, or whatever this was, Hermione jogged back to her dorm to see if anyone was there, just in case. As she’d predicted, there wasn’t, and Hermione hurried out out. At the very end of the portrait hole, she tripped and hurt her toe. It was only then that she noticed that, despite her cries of pain, even the fat lady seemed to be fast asleep and unresponsive.
With a cluck of annoyance, Hermione moved on, trying as much as she could to mask her growing panic. She darted forward searching for someone, anyone. The deserted nature of the castle was threatening to choke her. The stone hallways seemed to mock her. As she climbed down the narrow, rickety stairs, her heart sped up furiously. A shiver ran down her body at the sight of the suit of armour, which glinted eerily.
She hurried downwards, trying to concentrate on the path ahead. There was an empty corridor, at the end of which a stone gargoyle stood guard. She knew it lead to the Headmaster’s quarters. Even so, the unmoving gargoyle seemed to threaten her. Legs shivering and palms slippery, she was sure she wouldn’t find anyone.
Before she even reached the ground floor, she found someone. In that instant, all the thoughts of impending doom were buried in the back of her mind. Relief washed through her senses as she rushed forward to greet the person. Her relief, however, was short lived.
For there he stood, a very familiar blond, obstructing the light of early morning.
Hesitantly, Hermione spoke. “Is that you, Malfoy?”
Not far from the castle, two men clad in black looked at each other and smiled.
It had begun.
Author's Note: And thus begins my yet another story! Sit back and try to enjoy the ride! (Hopefully) And as always, PLEASE REVIEW! Criticisms and all!
EDITED!! Thanks to my lovely beta reader Jessie aka JLHufflepuff ^_^