Harry and Hermione exploded through the door of the small room on the side of the Great Hall followed by a very calm and stoic Minerva McGonagall. Both professors were shouting and firing questions at her at the same time so she couldn’t quite catch what one or the other was saying.
“Malfoy! Draco Malfoy!” Harry’s voice rose with every syllable. He glowered at McGonagall, his wand hand gripping its instrument, the other clenching and unclenching a white knuckled fist.
“Why him? Why now? Where has he been?” Hermione fumed. She looked imploringly at Minerva.
Harry raged on, “What, the bloody hell, has he been doing all this time? All this time we’ve been picking up the pieces of a mess he helped create!” Harry’s green eyes flashed fire at his old Transfiguration teacher. “What were you thinking!?” Harry practically spat the words.
McGonagall held up both hands to silence their rebukes. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply and then gazed piercingly at the two before her. She had expected this, and it’s not like she could blame them.
“Stop acting like two childish students and start acting like the adult Professors you are. You are currently in my employ and here to do a job. Now, we shall discuss this matter with civility, if you please!” Minerva McGonagall’s eyes flashed right back at Harry warning him to master himself.
A few moments passed as Hermione and Harry gained perspective. “Minerva,” said Harry, more controlled now, “I have serious concerns with your decision here.”
“As I expected Potter,” she stated simply. “I can assure you both, however, I am without a doubt, completely, irreversibly, sure of my choice. I ask that you two put personal feelings aside and do your work this year to the very best of your abilities. I am counting on you, the wizarding world is counting on you, and we need to come together now more than ever to ensure the peace that was won when Voldemort fell continues on.”
Harry and Hermione nodded solemnly and in a swish of her tartan robes she was gone. Hermione just stared at Harry, her own face mirroring the confused look on his. Harry spoke first. “What, in the name of Merlin, was that little speech all about?”
“I’m quite sure I’ve no idea,” replied Hermione. Distracted, she was pacing now; trying to fit the current situation into the frame of reality. “My guess is McGonagall knows more than she’s telling.”
“Right there,” agreed Harry, “but Malfoy... Where’s he been all this time?”
“Well, I suppose we could ask him,” offered Hermione.
“You must be joking Hermione!” he snorted. The last time I saw Malfoy…,” Several expression passed over Harry’s face as he fought for control of his emotions. He began again, quieter now, acid dripping from every word, “The last time I saw Malfoy, he was cowardly running off with a bunch of Death Eaters including Dumbledore’s murderer. Now we’re supposed to let bygones be bygones?” Harry’s quiet, controlled voice was more menacing than his shouts.
“Harry,” Hermione reasoned, “Minerva would not have put us in this position; would not have appointed Malfoy, unless it was absolutely necessary to some end. She’s made that plain at least.”
Harry nodded grudgingly, a dark look on his furrowed brow. “I imagine we could ask him what he’s really doing here and where he’s been cowering for the last five years…” He looked thoughtfully at Hermione. “I have an idea….”
Draco Malfoy settled into his private quarters on the third floor. It was very fine indeed; more like what he was used to anyway. Not at all like what he’d been living in the last few years. But that part was over now- he had a new mission. And he would succeed or die trying. After all, he had nothing to lose. The ice tinkled in his fire whiskey as he swirled the glass. He sunk down into the oversized, dark brown leather sofa in front of the fire place and turned towards the large bow window of the turret to see the sun sinking below the tree line of the Forbidden Forest. Forbidden… The concept lingered and swirled in his brain. Hermione Granger… He tipped his head back and closed his eyes letting his mind wander to the slight brunette he had “despised” in school.
“You always were an excellent liar,” he chided himself aloud. “But no more, no more lies.”
He smirked as he recalled the look on her face when she watched him enter the Great Hall. He knew she had been floored, as was Potter. Draco had loved every minute of it too. After all, he still craved the spotlight, loved being the center of attention. Probably because of all the attention his mother had showered on him early on. That is, until his father had put a stop to it. ‘The boy will go soft and weak,’ Lucius had bellowed. Lucius had certainly done his best to toughen him up, beating and berating Draco from the time he had entered Hogwarts until the time when Severus had gotten him out and into hiding.
He shook those thoughts away and his mind drifted back to ponder over Hermione. He had not despised her in school, quite the contrary. In fact, he had held a torch for her through school and all these years. When he had first discovered she was muggle-born his hopes were dashed. Draco knew his father would never allow him to court her and it was torture for Draco. She was the only girl he had wanted. Draco prized excellence and drive; determination and perfection, and Hermione Granger had been the cleverest witch in their year. Her intelligence and diligence intrigued him. Her quick mind and clever retorts always spurred him on. Even though he could not court her, he had still wanted her attention. That was why he had bullied her so; he had sought her out again and again, insulting and teasing her.
Draco had also been terrified that someone would see through his pretense. He had used Pansy as an act, never really wanted her, and never loved her. That is also why his insults to Hermione became so vicious. Draco could never risk anyone finding out his true feelings. He knew Hermione might actually be in danger if his father knew he fancied her.
“Hermione…” he let her name escape his mind and roll over his lips. Draco recalled in their fourth year, when she had really begun to mature and blossom; he had hated Potter and Weasley all the more for getting to spend every moment with her. He became more and more jealous, not wanting other boys to want her or to have her when he could not. He had actually been pleased when the Densqugeo hex meant for Potter had hit Hermione and jinxed her teeth. Then she had come back from Pomfrey looking better than ever! The only time Draco could remember not having a snappy insult for Hermione was when he had seen her enter the Great Hall with Krum at their fourth year Yule Ball. He had been stunned to see her looking absolutely enchanting in that clingy pale-blue dress. Hermione had been the most beautiful girl at the ball, even more beautiful than Fleur Delacour in his opinion. Draco smiled to himself remembering how he had fantasized all night that she was on his arm instead of Krum’s. Together they would have been the best looking couple at the Ball. Yes, she had always been a very pretty girl in school he recalled, but now…
He swallowed the rest of his fire whiskey in one gulp and raked a hand through his hair…
Now she was… words failed him. Her luminous complexion, creamy skin, pink cheeks and dark, deep eyes… She seemed to glow with warmth and beauty. How he longed to touch her face, run his thumb along the fullness of her lips. Draco put his head back and breathed deeply. What he wouldn’t give to plunge his hands into that thick full mane of honey-brown waves, to pull her close to him, to…
Three gentle knocks jarred him from his reverie. Draco sighed as he crossed the room to answer the door and found himself quite stunned to see who stood there, deep brown eyes peering up into his.
“Hello, Professor Malfoy.”
“Hermi-…er…Professor Granger, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Shaken at first, Draco quickly mastered himself.
Hermione felt her pulse quicken at the sound of his voice. She could not believe she was standing before Draco Malfoy, Potions master of Hogwarts. Now face to face with him, he was much taller than she remembered and very handsome. His very presence sent chills up her spine; however she wasn’t sure if they were the good kind or the bad kind. She noticed with alarm her mouth had gone dry and she had forgotten everything she’d planned to say.
“Please, come in,” he continued in his easy drawl.
“No, no- I just came round to wish you well and express congratulations on your appointment to Potions professor.”
“Thank you Professor Granger. Are you sure you won’t come in? I was just enjoying a night cap. You could join me…” Immediately he wondered if he was being to forward. Damn it Draco, easy now.
Hermione’s eyebrows raised and her eyes widened. “Oh, no th-thank you,” she stammered. “I must get back to my quarters…I…I hope you enjoy your year.” She turned and quickly retreated down the darkened corridor and was gone.
Draco stood there gazing into the empty passageway. Did I just rattle her? He hadn’t expected anyone to welcome him personally and certainly not Hermione Granger. A feeling of hopefulness crept to the edges of his heart. Maybe, he almost dared not to think it, but maybe he still had a chance.
A/N: please leave me a review- i’d love to know what you think.
chapter 4 title: Strong Words In The Staff Room. watch for validation.
read and review ;)