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A Strange Puzzle by DragonGoddess
Chapter 6 : New developments
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 35


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Hermione's mind was a rollercoaster of emotions.

How long will I keep crying over everything? Worrying about things over which I have absolutely no control?

She had a mission, a goal to achieve. It wasn’t any consolation that the war was now in full force, but it could at least be useful if she pushed herself into action.

With the amount of crying I am doing right now, I’m sure as hell not going to accomplish anything.

It had been two days since she'd met Malfoy. After the incidence during her last meet,  Malfoy seemed to be avoiding her. Every time he noticed her presence, he would abruptly turn his direction and walk away. It was strange and…unnerving.

Hermione sighed, prodding the ground vigorously, drawing illegible patterns with a small twig, as she sat in the grounds. It was aggravating, the fact that she was here sitting all by herself doing absolutely nothing while Harry was fighting away, God knew what dangers. She looked skywards making a small prayer for the well being of her dear friend.

Unbeknown to her, a pair of grey eyes followed her every movements with a silent frown. All this would have been far less complicating had he been left to figure out to get the hell away all by himself. Or would it? It was making him irksome, the fact that it had been almost a week since he had been here and yet he couldn’t find a way out.

The silence around him was getting to him. Not to mention the fact that the last conversation he had had with his mother was creating unease in his mind. She had been behaving strangely, with a lot of puzzles and hint of hidden tears as she'd spoke to him. And it didn’t help that he found everybody gone the following day.

He decided it was time he stopped avoiding Granger. After all, given the situation, however blood curling prospect it was, he could help with a little bit of help, even if from a mudblood. Everything about Granger screamed danger sign in big block red letters, but it had to be done.

It took a lot of convincing on his part to actually move away from his comfortable position against the wall, where he stood leaning nonchalantly. He still wasn’t happy with the fact that she had been eavesdropping; more so that she might have heard things he didn’t want anyone to hear. There was tumult in his mind which he needed to figure out himself.

With one last resolute nod Draco approached her with quick steps, “Granger,” he said trying to sound less cold, but failing miserably.

Startled, Hermione turned around to look up at him. Her eyebrows rose as she saw the majesty himself standing with his hands buried deep into his pocket and his face…she wasn’t sure what his expression meant. But it wasn’t the usual sneer. Puzzled, she nodded her head in acknowledgement, “Malfoy,” she returned before looking away, not really interested in another round of abuse.

Malfoy rolled his eyes, “Get up,” he commanded.

“No, I’m very comfortable here, thank you,” Hermione replied pulling her legs close to her chest and sighing wistfully.

“If this is your idea of pissing me off Granger, then-”

“I didn’t invite you here Malfoy. So, I sure as hell can do whatever I please,”

“Fuck you Granger.”

She looked up this time and gave him a cold smile, “Sod off Malfoy,” she replied evenly.

Drawing in a sharp breath, he glared at her, “Like its not hard enough Granger. In spite of everything, I come down to speak to you and you won’t even appreciate it,”

Hermione scowled and stood up facing him, “Malfoy, let me make this absolutely clear to you: I do not feel the need to celebrate when the great ferret graces me with a visit. Or didn’t you already know that I’m not among those who sign in to join your fan club? As much as it might be a blow to your ego, I’m very sorry to announce, it still remains to be the absolute fact. So, with that clear, I hope you will not bother me again or expect me to squeal with delight on spotting you. Now if you will,” she moved to walk past him, only to be stopped.

“You think I forgave you for what you did? Prying into my personal matters? Because if you did-”

Hermione laughed, “Malfoy? Shut up. The world doesn’t revolve around you. If you’re blind enough to perceive that I’m in here trying to beg your Highness’s clemency, I would, yet again, love to put forth another fact into your thick head. In all honesty, I do not care about you in the least bit. Or to put it more bluntly,” she stopped to give him a hard stare, “I don’t give a damn,”

The furiousness exhibited on his face made Hermione soar with sheer delight. Maybe she did need to give herself some credit and stop beating herself up. Sure it wasn’t going like she wanted it to, and maybe she shouldn’t have said all those things and ruined her chances of befriending him and finishing him off, but who cared? It felt good and it was a feeling she needed to savour at the moment. Having had the last say, Hermione braced herself against the wind and moved back towards the castle, with a saintly smile plastered across her face.

Draco Malfoy was still standing in the very spot, as the wind claimed his cloak leaving him at the mercy of the cold, “Granger, it’s just the beginning,” he muttered smirking to himself.

*****

Hermione was lost. The castle, which had for so long been a familiar place, suddenly seemed like an alien territory. Though the basic locations were the same, there were places she had never seen before. If only there was Harry and Ron with her, they’d know. After all, who else would you turn to for best guidance other than the ones who did a lot of sneaking business at Hogwarts?

The astronomy tower looked a little too small from where she stood, but it reassured her. Everything was all right. She just hadn’t explored this part of the castle. Calmed now, she moved on trying to figure out if there was any way out of here.

As she proceeded, ducking into rooms and escaping the wrath of a few old antiques which seemed eager to fall atop her, she heard someone speak – swear rather.

Hermione stopped feeling a tad jittery. Slowing her pace to baby steps, she tip toed towards the direction of the voice. A sigh of exasperation escaped her lips as she came face to face with Malfoy, nearly avoiding the fatal bump.

“Malfoy?” she asked feeling goaded.

“Granger.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Just what you are, finding a way out,”

With a roll of her eyes she moved away, putting a good one foot distance between them. It was claustrophobic being so close to the prat. Hermione straightened her skirt as she proceeded further in her journey to ‘Seek the Treasure’, er, way out. Chuckling at her own childishness, she moved on.

“Spot something funny Granger?” Malfoy asked moving past her to get something.

Hermione ignored him as she tried to open a new found door to her right with an ‘Alahomora’ which didn’t work. Malfoy had the audacity to laugh at her, “What?” she asked whirling around to look at him, her wand pointed directly at him.

Malfoy snickered, “Hold on there Granger, you don’t want to kill me,”

“Wouldn’t you be surprised to know?” she said with an air of enigma before turning back to scrutinize the door.

“Hm, maybe so. But, you sure as hell can’t,” he grinned.

She studied him through the corners of her eye, “Why the flippant attitude towards me Malfoy? You have been a lot chirpier than usual today,”

“I just found out something. Of course I am chirpy,”

“That’s so not like you,”

“I don’t think you even qualify the standard to judge people so easily Granger,”

“Now that is more Malfoy-ish,” she mumbled.

Malfoy sighed, “You never let me speak civilly Granger.”

“Civil? You and me?” Hermione laughed, “Don’t kid me Malfoy. You know that’s impossible,”

“Under normal circumstances, yes it is. But if you ever plan to get out of here, then team work would be more useful than figuring it out all alone,”

“What are you getting at Malfoy? I smell something fishy,”

“Get your sense organs checked Granger. I assure you it’s just as embarrassing to seek your company,”

“You have finally realized the importance of brains over brawns?”

“Did I claim you had any? I just thought it would be better,” he shrugged, “I might as well go on without the layman’s assistance,”

Hermione growled at him tugging forcefully at the lock. With a click, the lock came off letting the door slide open. Following the routine of checking every room, Hermione peeped inside the dark room. The stench was unbearable. Instantly nauseated, Hermione covered her mouth and nose before carefully entering the room.

Rats scurried past her making her let out a small cry.

“Lumos,” she muttered and the entire room was brightened.

Malfoy followed her inside looking around, “Smells positively disgusting,” his eyes traveled around before it stopped at where Granger stood motionless.

“Granger?” he asked moving towards her and looking where she was.

“My God,” she whispered finally as her legs gave out and she fell to the ground in an ungraceful pile.

Lying on the ground, unconscious and pest infested was the Weasley girl who’s name Malfoy couldn’t remember.

“Ginny…”

*****

Author's Note: I AM EXTRMELY SORRY! I know, I know. But I was buried in academic work! Not to mention eligibility exams this sunday :( Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Thanks to all the support/criticisms/appreciation! I luff them all! Ta for now. OH! I made the chapter LONGER didya see? Please excuse any errors cuz I wrote this all in a span of 2 hours...PUHLEASE! Heh. But do point them out!

*****


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