Hermione didn’t receive a reply from Ryan for the next couple of days - however, when she did, it was in a frenzy demand that he needed to see her again, so that they could talk things through. She wasn’t sure about that one, as Ryan had suggested that perhaps he might visit her at Hogwarts, and therefore she delayed her response as late as possible, without having to sound rude. The concept did worry her though - Ryan, at Hogwarts? He was a famous musician, cool in every way that evaluated the world, and she just wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind until it was absolutely necessary.
School, in any case, wasn’t going too badly. She’d managed to at last keep on top of her school-work, which meant she recovered the ability to clamber back up to the top of her year, regaining the value of “teacher’s pet”. The position made her feel comfortable at least, and she felt more like her real self than she had in days.
“Oh, so you’re joining us tonight, are you?” scowled Ron when she sat down in her usual spot at the Gryffindor table, the familiar comfort of the Great Hall and the swarming students bringing a certain warmth back into her heart. It felt like years that she had been away from this simple solitude, yet once more Ron had to shake her to reality by showing her the tension within the room.
Hermione eyed them both suspiciously. Harry and Ron seemed so distant to her now, with their simple lives that were devoid of excitement. She forced herself to pause on that thought -after all, didn’t Harry have a Dark Lord to face? She bit her lip at her selfishness - there was she, once again self absorbed with her own problems, when Harry’s were ten times as bad.
“I thought that if we were seventh-years, we may as well be civil.”
Ron narrowed his eyes. “Normally that doesn’t stop you from being so immature.”
“Look, do you want us to be friends or not?” she broke out, exasperated.
“Well, tough. I’d still like to remain in my friendship with Harry, and so if you don’t like it, then you can go elsewhere.”
Ron opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by the post as it flowered through the Great Hall. Hermione picked up her copy of the Evening Prophet and flicked carelessly though it, allowing her eyes to move across the pages in a callous flurry. There was nothing particularly exciting to draw out.
“Hey,” said Ron, leaning over to impolitely grab the newspaper and draw it across the table to himself. “The Chudley Channons lost again. What the hell is wrong? We should have won!”
“Who were they playing?” Hermione asked vaguely as she helped herself to a goblet of pumpkin juice and a portion of mashed potato.
“Appleby Arrows . . . But they were down by three players and -” he stopped. “Hey, are you having a go?”
Hermione frowned at his hostile tone and shook her head. “It was merely curiosity -”
“Yeah, right. I should have known you were taking the piss, Hermione, I should’ve -”
“Ron,” Harry interrupted him uncomfortably. “Drop it.”
Hermione rose her eyes to watch Harry cautiously. He was avoiding her gaze, and looked as if he’d prefer to be anywhere but here. She knew they needed to talk; it was just a case of finding the time and the words to say.
“It’s a Hogsmeade weekend tomorrow,” she commented dryly, changing the subject. Ron immediately looked up and scowled.
“Well, you’re not hanging around with us, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Ron, for Merlin’s sake,” snapped Harry icily. “Can you just stop being such an idiot? She’s welcome to come with us if she wants to.” He glanced quickly at Hermione. “Do you?”
“Oh,” Hermione bit her lip. “Well, it would be lovely but . . . I sort of promised Draco I’d go with him to The Three Broomsicks. I owe him a butterbeer, I think, for all the support he’s given me with my disagreement with Ryan.”
“Oh,” said Harry, not looking the least bit disappointed. “Well, that’s ok then, because I promised I spend time with Ginny and all . . .”
Ron scowled. “Oh, I get it. So I’ll be left on my own.”
Hermione watched him with a knowing smile. “You can always join us, if you’d like.”
“I’d rather drink cat’s piss.”
Hermione sighed and stood up, pushing aside the remainder of her meal and heading towards the stairway. “I’ll see you two later. I’ve got some homework to finish before tomorrow.”
They’d already forgotten her by the time she’d walked away, falling once again into the familiar casual conversation that symbolised a carefree relationship. Hermione felt isolated slightly in the way that she knew she could never go back to that. She had changed and there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t go back to being her old self, like Ron wanted.
She found Blaise waiting for her in the private common room, smoking again, flicking ash off his trousers and onto the floor. She rose her eyebrows at him but he simply grinned.
“Homework,” he said shortly as an explanation, moving aside to make room so she could sit next to him. Hermione strained a smile that was false as her leg brushed against his, but he didn’t even seem to notice. He pulled out his Potions book and glanced at her quizzically.
“What do you suggest is the best theory for making a Polyjuice Potion?”
“Oh,” Hermione grinned, sinking into her work immediately, picking up a piece of parchment and a pen, holding it out before him. “Now that’s something I know about.”
They worked hard for the next hour, comparing essays when they were finished and editing mistakes. Hermione could smell the smoke on Blaise’s breath and winced.
“Do you want some coffee?”
“That’s a great pick-up line,” he grinned lavishly, staring at the fire before them.
She felt herself scowl. “I don’t want to sleep with you, Blaise.”
“What?” he asked in shock, his mouth dropping open.
“I said, I don’t want to sleep with you. I have a boyfriend, ok? So all these useless moves on me, all these thoughts that you can get me into bed if you want to, are pointless, ok? You’re hot, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sleep with you. So get those sick thoughts out of your head and stop trying to have your way with me, because it’s not going to work.”
Blaise had gone very red in the face by this point and his eyes were a layer of intense shock. “Hermione, I’m not trying to sleep with you. I know you’ve got a boyfriend, and I wouldn’t take advantage.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
“Who the hell gave you that idea, anyway?” he demanded, standing up and walking into the kitchen, leaning against the surface of the cabinet and leaning his head in his hands, looking distressed. “I’m not like that.”
“That’s not what I heard.”
“Draco told me your girlfriend split with you because you fancied me.”
He began to laugh slowly, straightening up again and watching her with amusement.
“Hermione, be realistic. Who wouldn’t fancy you?”
“That’s besides the point,” she snapped heatedly.
“No it’s not,” he said slowly, sitting on the work surface. “You think that just because I fancy you, just because I wanna fuck you, that I’m going to force you into sex?” He snorted. “You make me out to sound like some kind of monster.”
She glowered at him. “Well, what’s stopping you?”
“You know I could take you, right?” he asked with a sly smile.
She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, I know you could. But rape isn’t exactly the most honourable thing for a male to do.”
“Who said anything about rape? I could make you want me. I could start kissing you now, and I guarantee you, you wouldn’t want to stop. One kiss would leave you gasping for more, until you’re sweating in my bed and it’s too late to change you mind. But I’m not going to kiss you.”
“You’re so disgusting. You’re so arrogant.”
“Maybe, but I’m also truthful. What makes you think I’d like to ruin your relationship with your boyfriend? I may be Slytherin, but I’m not that vindictive.”
“Oh, right, well I thought . . . I mean, Draco said that -”
“Fuck Draco,” he scowled, getting to his feet and pulling two mugs out of the cupboard. “He only says things to turn you against me because he wants you for himself.”
“Don’t be so ridiculous.”
“You know it’s true.”
“For heaven’s sake, why are boys such animals?” she cried, exasperated, throwing her hands up into the air and appearing pink in her fluster.
He simply laughed and pushed a mug of coffee towards her. “Here’s your coffee, Hermione. And remember,” he added, his lips hovering close to hers, “it’s just coffee. If you drink this it doesn’t mean we’re gonna have sex, alright? ‘Cause you wouldn’t want that, even if I would.”
Hermione didn’t know quite what to think right then. So he fancied her, but could she grudge him for that? He’d made it clear he could have her if he wanted, just like Draco could, but he wouldn’t because it would breach her trust and go against what she wanted. She watched him as he went back to the sofa and sat down carefully, stretching out his legs and sipping at his drink slowly. Amber-chocolate eyes quested towards hers as she eyed him wearily. And what was it he had meant about Draco? Did Draco fancy her? But Draco was with Pansy . . . He’d said so himself. Maybe he’d only mentioned that because he was trying to see if she was jealous? She recalled the intimate moments they had spent together, the way he was so cold yet so gorgeously beautiful at the same time.
Perhaps she could have him if she wanted to. Suddenly Hermione acknowledged the power she had over youths in this school. After all, Ron fancied her, didn’t he? Blaise had just admitted he wouldn’t say no, and Draco was certainly a possibility. But then there was Ryan, sweet and beautiful and talented, and most definitely deeply in love with her. Did he ever consider sleeping with other people purely out of lust? The thought led her to guilt that maybe he didn’t, maybe she was more than enough for him and he didn’t want anyone else.
Suddenly she needed him here, right here, to fulfil her lusts and allow her to feel that love that jolted through her every time he stood before her, every time he touched her and opened his mouth to speak. She knew that those were the moments when she purely loved him the most, when he was at her side, and that that feeling was very different from anything she felt towards Draco.
But Ryan wasn’t here, and he couldn’t fill her satisfactions if he was away. She sighed and sat down slowly opposite Blaise, holding her eyes closed as she fought against the needs her body demanded, the possibilities her mind was forced to look upon. She could have any boy she wanted, and she was afraid that if she didn’t see Ryan soon, she might work that acknowledgement to her advantage.
“Hurry up Ryan,” she whispered desperately under her breath. “I need you. I need you to stop me from feeling this.”
She opened her eyes to find Blaise watching her knowingly, his availability springing her mind to thoughts that she did not want. His luscious hair, the pale skin that was so flawless in the firelight, captivated her mind and seemed to lure out the possibilities.
Perhaps Ryan coming to Hogwarts was a good idea after all.
Author's Note: Sorry to those who I promised that Ryan would be in this chapter. Next time, sorry.
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