Chapter 3 :  Stealing Place
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Blaise scowled himself for knowing Draco like he did sometimes. After all, it was only because he knew Draco so well that he knew he wouldn't have to go after Hermione. Draco was someone who went for whatever he needed immediately, and even though he could be patient, Blaise knew that Draco had concluded that sitting around and waiting for Hermione to come to him was as foolish as sticking your foot in the lake and hoping the giant squid didn't grab you. Hermione was not going to bite any bait from Draco unless it was dangled right in front of her nose.
Of course, Blaise on the other hand had all the time in the world to simply sit around and wait for the girl, because he knew eventually the blonde's strange and uncalled for actions would lead her right to the only person who could help her understand them.
And that, of course, was Blaise.
So you can recognize why a smirk crawled over his features when he noticed her form heading purposefully across the grounds towards the school Atrium, which was where he had decided to take residents to finish up a bit of homework. He had gone out of his way to mention his headed whereabouts in casual conversation to anyone he knew, and made it painfully obvious where he was heading to anyone that Hermione might have asked for directions from. He then set up camp on the half wall that surrounded the central part of the atrium, knowing it wouldn't be too long until she came looking.
Of course he was a little surprised that she had come so quickly, but at the same time, all the more ready.
Blaise found himself inspecting the girl for the time she was walking. She had her hair lying over her shoulders, bits of it whipping in the breeze that blew by as she walked. The first time that week, he'd noted, that she hadn't had it up in some sort of hair tie to keep it manageable. Sometimes he wondered if she was just trying to make everyone think that her hair was horribly temperamental, because as of the last few years the brown locks had slowly become better and better. Now they seemed perfectly controllable, and actually rather glamorous, the curls framing her heart shaped face well while leveling her strong features.
As he watched her approach with her strong strides, he decided to pack up his things a bit, shoving all his work back into his bag and pulling out a book to make it look as if he was reading before she arrived. He settled his back against one of the pillars on the stone wall he sat on and turned his eyes down to the print on the page of his novel right as she stepped onto the cobblestone center of the vestibule.
Blaise let his eyes come up as if just realizing her there, and as he locked her in his sight she stopped in her tracks, as if she was a deer caught in the sight of a hunter. Her deep brown eyes looked slightly startled, as if she'd been caught doing something she wasn't suppose to be, but the look melted away after a moment.
"Hi." She said after she had taken a second to clear her voice and regain her composure, but at the same time keeping her distance. Blaise looked at her for a moment, then let a smirk pass over his lips.
"Hello. And what's a lovely lady like yourself doing wandering the grounds at this hour?" He asked in reply, knowing thoroughly well that it was only about seven, but at the same time seeing her pout pink lips turn up ever so slightly on one side, causing the smallest dimple to appear on her cheek.
"I should be asking you that, considering I'm the prefect here." She retorted, letting her arms fold over her chest before taking a few timid steps forward.
"And it's only six thirty." She added. He smirked, watching her feet moving closer for a moment before letting his eyes roll dramatically as he let out a bit of a sigh.
"Damn, and I was hoping it was later so I could offer to escort you back to the castle." He said, letting a smile cross his face that flashed a little bit of his teeth, his book now closed as he laid his head back against the cold stone to casually watch the girl continue to slowly approach. He heard her clear her voice again, wondering if that was a blush coming over her face, or just the evening chill nipping at her cheeks.
"You're Blaise right?" She asked after a moment, and he couldn't help but smile again, having a thought that was something along the lines of 'like she thought I was anyone else.' He let blue eyes skim over her shape before another grin tugged at his lips.
"And you're Hermione Granger. I hate you. I'm supposed to be the smart one, but still you manage to beat me in everything with only a few percentages more." He replied, his tone finding a playful manner as he caught her eyes for a moment when she lifted them to let out a bit of a laugh, only to have them fall again.
"Doesn't make much difference. All the Slytherin's hate me anyway." She replied, shrugging her shoulders and letting her eyes lift up to the horizon. He made a reaction that would imply him suddenly understanding her circumstances, even though he had know them all along.
"You know, Draco is only a very small part of Slytherin." He commented, and she turned her brown eyes to his again, this time holding his gaze for a moment before letting out a bit of a breath, that was perhaps suppose to be a laugh.
"Yes well, Draco is the reason why I'm here." Hermione said. Blaise had to hold back his joy at how well this was all going. He was sometimes surprise at how much you could rely on Draco being Draco. The dark haired boy, instead of jumping with the joy towards the convenience of the conversation, let his eyes roll slightly and sighed before pushing off from the wall and grabbing the strap of his bag, slinging it over his shoulder and taking a move to leave.
"Sorry dear, if I helped everyone who wanted a date with that kid I'd never have time for myself." He commented, letting a bit of a snigger pass his lips while shrugging his shoulders slightly. Seeing her eyes panic slightly before he turned around to leave, Blaise let his lip curl a little when she hurried forward to snag the strap of his bag and hold him back.
"Wait, that's not it. I just, I wanted to know if he's been acting different. Usually his horribly unpleasant to me, but today..." Blaise watched over his shoulder as she tried to explain her situation but ended up being defeated horribly by it. If it was anyone else they would have been confused as to what she was trying to imply, but he already knew exactly what she was saying. He turned, putting on a thoughtful expression before adjusting his pack on his shoulder.
"Draco isn't exactly a long-term thinker. He probably woke up this morning, and decided that he fancied you. Frankly, I'm a little annoyed that he got you to you first." He watched her as her eyes found a peculiar emotion, hoping that perhaps it was the look of her taking a moment to once over what he had just said, catching that hint, hopefully. He then let another theatrical sigh escaped from his lips before he turned again, securing his comment of irritation towards the Slytherin Prince. Her voice paused his departing steps once more.
"You're saying that he's attracted to me?" she asked, getting a shrug in reply as he turned around again, but this time took slow steps back towards the girl.
"You said that as if itís impossible. Youíre a beautiful girl; you're thoroughly capable of drawing his attention." He replied, looking down at her just a little now that he had managed to snake is way to standing only about a foot from her, Hermione not even realizing yet. She had let out a disbelieving laugh.
"Not me. He doesn't go for people like me." She replied, letting her head shake slightly, causing a couple strands of brown locks to fall over her face. She moved to push them away, but he beat her to it, using his fingertips to brush the stands and tucking them behind her ear, out of her deep brown eyes, which were now filled with slight nervousness. He dared letting his fingers graze over her jaw as he withdrew his hand, careful to watch her expression as he did so, which he saw vaguely soften, feeling a silent breath escape from her mouth on his palm as he took his hand back.
"You'd be surprised what some people are like when other's aren't watching." He whispered, catching her taking in a hard swallow, as her dark irises seemed completely locked with his now, still shining nervousness, but all the same not as timid as earlier when couldn't even catch that gaze. He had never really seen her eyes for so long, and was pleasantly surprised by the intriguing energy that they held. He always knew she could be feisty, that was a given being a Gryffindor, but he never knew she had this hidden mischief in her eyes.
It reminded him of Draco the slightest bit, the way that you could always tell when Draco was in a good mood because his eyes would hold that little bit of a shine, like his eyes were laughing.
He had ended up leaning into her ever so slightly, surprised at his own motion, because a move for a kiss at such an early stage was something he had never attempted before, for the fact that he could very well scare the prey off. And yet, it was as if the movement had not been under his control. He hadn't even thought about that, he had just, moved. Thankfully she had lower her head somewhat so she didn't see his slight lean towards her.
"I should go." She said, and it was his turn to clear his voice before nodding slightly.
Hermione hardly understood what was going on. She hadn't felt so strange since fourth year when her and Victor had that fling. Her heart was racing at an incredible pace, her face was hot and her skin was crawling in a strange but irresistible way.
The girl stopped outside of Hogwarts and let herself lean against the wall near the front doors, taking a moment to pull herself together, even though it wasn't working very well, for she still had a large grin across her face. Two boys in one day? Hermione looked down at herself to make sure she was wearing clothing, concluding that having two gorgeous boys looking at her in such a way mere hours within each other was impossible unless she was naked. But, when she saw her skirt and blouse still covering her, she found herself completely confused.
Hermione touched her heated cheeks with her fingertips, and then brushed them through her hair to perhaps untangle it slightly from the wind that had been whipping it around, a twitch that she had while she was thinking, which was what she was doing at that moment. Thinking over what had just happened.
Blaise Zabini had just been all over her. Not that that was a bad thing, Hermione couldn't help but smirk at herself at this thought, feeling slightly selfish for liking the attention so much, but feeling it also very overdue. She hadn't had boy's looking at her since most of the school found out about Ron crushing on her.
Of course, she had told him that she was not ready for a boyfriend. It's not that she didn't like Ron, but she honestly had other things on her mind more important to her at the time then worrying about a temperamental thing like relationships.
Of course, that doesn't mean she couldn't enjoy attention from very handsome boys if she received it, right?
The only thing was that they were two boys who, before today, Hermione would have thought wouldn't even take a second look at her. Draco didn't go for her type (her type of course being muggle-born), or at least, she didn't think he did, but according to Blaise it was possible.
Possible? Just like it was possible to get your toe nibbled off by a slug. Possibly, but almost completely unlikely.
And Blaise. Well, Hermione never really gave him the time of day before now for him to even show interest if he had it or not. She could see this being more likely then she could see Draco fancying her, but that wasn't exactly saying much.
The girl had found herself seriously debating whether the world was ending and she should be saying good-bye to Ron and Harry, because this was the only explanation for Draco's odd behavior.
Why were boys so confusing?
Despite the pondering thoughts that burdened her bushy haired head, she couldn't help but entered the common room with a bit of a smile on her features, a bounce in her step as she walked, not even realizing it until Ginny pointed it out as Hermione walked by her.
"What did you get full marks on this time?" the red headed girl asked, sitting in a large winged chair near a window of the Gryffindor tower. Her eyes were hidden behind a magazine, but could obviously see Hermione wide grin from across the hall. Hermione stopped in her tracks, trying her best to put on a serious face, but unable to pull the smile away from her lips.
"Oh, nothing like that." She replied, coming over, feeling it necessary to at least acknowledge the girls question, although she feared that Ginny, with her experience, would be able to pick up what had happened if she got too close.
"Goodness Mione you look like you just ran all the way here from the dungeons, and are for some reason very pleased about it." At the second part of her statement, Ginny narrowed her eyes slightly, her tone of voice displaying her understanding that this couldn't be the case, then all of a sudden those eyes widened and she let her mouth drop open.
"Who the bloody hell did you snog?" she practically yelled, and Hermione frowned immediately, waving her arms to quiet the girl. Hermione hardly wanted either of the boys to run down during such a conversation.
"I was not snogging anyone Ginny." The bookish girl replied, sitting down on the couch nearby her fiery headed friend.
"I do believe that I had two boys flirting with me today though." She said after another moment, letting the grin on her face grow as she finally revealed the secret of her smile, and then the grin followed onto her friend's face as well.
"Oh really? I want details honey. Names, houses, if their fit or not. After all, with the people I know I'm sure I could arrange something." Ginny replied, her words rambling together slightly as she had closed her magazine to move forward into the conversation a little more. Hermione rolled her eyes slightly and shook her head.
"There will be no need for 'arrangements', because that's just not going to happen." She replied, admitting this fact making her feel the slightly bit sad. Of course she knew that nothing should ever come of what happened that day, Merlin forbid that she ever started dating Blaise, or worst, Draco. She had to hold back a shiver at the idea. Slytherin boys just weren't her cup of tea. Well, no, that wasn't true. Slytherin boys were gorgeous, and gorgeous was completely her cup of tea, but add on their horrible attitudes and they became instantly unattractive to the girl.
Then again, Blaise seemed anything but a Slytherin boy.... No. Hermione had to hold back from slapping herself at the thought. Blaise was Draco's friend. Anyone that close to the blonde headed snake can't be good news.
"Well then who? Who are they? And why couldn't anything happen." Ginny asked, seemingly getting more excited about the conversation the longer that Hermione kept her in the dark.
Now, Hermione knew that Ginny would have figured it out eventually, and after all she was the most prefect girl to ask advice on what to do in such situation. Hermione would have probably told her eventually, but at the moment the busy haired girl was having regrets. Maybe because somewhere deep inside she didn't want to say what happened aloud, in case it had all been a very strange, thrilling dream.
"Malfoy. And his friend Blaise." Hermione said as last, after she had bit at her lip for almost half a minute, Ginny staring at her with intent eyes the whole time.
At the two names Ginny let her eyes widen slightly, then smirked.
"Well I'm jealous. They're hot." The girl replied, laying back in her chair, making a completely startled face come over Hermione.
"You mean, you're not freaked out, I mean, it's Malfoy and one of his Slytherin mates." Hermione said, and Ginny let out a bit of a laugh.
"So what? Yeah, Malfoy is a git, therefore his friend probably is too, but they're two of the fittest boys in Hogwarts and they were checking you out. Take it as a compliment." Ginny had returned to her reading as she spoke, seeming suddenly absentminded although her words were said with complete comprehension. Hermione bit at her lip again as she thought, letting the idea brew, and then decided that's exactly what she would take it as. A compliant. Two boys who could plainly get whatever girl they wanted in the school had been all over her.
Wow that sounded even more absurd in her head.
"I don't know Ginny, it just seems really fishy to me. I mean, they hardly pay me the slightly glance before today, and then suddenly they find me the most brilliant being on the face of the earth. Something doesnít add up." Hermione said, her words slightly monotone as her mind was still on trying to figure it all out, as if it was some sort of mathematical equation. Out of her thoughts she heard Ginny sigh.
"You really have to stop over thinking things dear. Some boys are just that weird. If it makes you feel any better, you don't have to do anything about it if you do want to. Go to class tomorrow as if nothing happened, and then if they're after you again, you can take it from there." The red head said, a shrug coming over her shoulders at the simplistic of her suggestion, and Hermione let her head tilt slightly before nodding. It seemed easy enough, and it wasn't likely that they would be the same tomorrow. Perhaps someone had fed them a love potion as a prank.
Actually, that would explain a lot.
"Ok. But, what if they are the same tomorrow. Which one, I mean, which..."
"Which one should you play along with?" Ginny asked, finishing Hermione's sentence. Hermione smiled in a slightly embarrassed way before giving a nod.
"Whichever one you want." The girl finished, letting a saucy smirk come over her lips before getting up from her spot, setting a slap on Hermione's leg and dismissing herself, saying something about a Potions essay she had put off for too long.
Hermione let a smile come over her face at the idea of what she was to do tomorrow if paid the same attention as she was today. She had never flirted with boys since Krum, and she hadnít even really had to flirt with him, because he didn't talk much, and wouldn't have left her alone even if she had told him to bugger off. This would be interesting to say the least.
Of course, the only question was, who? Hermione hated Malfoy with a loath of a thousand burning fires, but she would never say that he wasn't completely heart stoppingly gorgeous. He was of course. He was gorgeous and blonde and confident, and she would be lying of she said she didn't have the mild fantasy about secretly snogging with someone of his sort. He was not scary though, for Hermione knew there was nothing hidden about the boy that could sway her judgment of him. He was the living image of the phrase 'what you see is what you get', and what she had gotten from him all these years was a slimy git that she could never be attracted to.
But Blaise, well Blaise was Draco's opposite in the sense of the term, and that would make him prefect, but because of his perfection it made it near impossible for the girl to have an understandable conversation with him. She had practically been dieing just to stand there and talk to him mere moments ago, and when he had neared her she had literally stiffened like a board, feeling the urge to run away from him like a victim animal being stalked by a predator, but didn't have the ability to move. His fingers grazing her skin had caused a burning sensation, intensified by the chilly autumn breeze that had been blowing, scaring her half to death. She just plain didn't like being around him because he caused her stomach to twist up and her throat to tighten uncomfortably.
Hermione honestly wasn't sure who she would rather have paying her attention. The boy who she hated but was suddenly rethinking, or the boy she had always fantasized about, but was scared to death of.
Why did romance have to be so annoying complicated. It was like a bad potions recipes. And Hermione hated potions.
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