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Chapter 4 : Chapter 4
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Chapter 4: Where the eyes shouldn’t linger for too long
“You’re what?” Ron asked, his voice rising with every syllable. Hermione cringed at his tone but repeated forcefully, “I’m going to a conference in France with Malfoy for a month”. She was at the burrow and Harry and Ron’s reactions to what she had just said made this little visit just that tad bit uncomfortable.
Ron had, as expected, begun to shout, but Harry was remaining silent, his eyes hard and glassy.
“When did this happen? Who said you could go?” Ron demanded.
Hermione’s blood boiled white hot at that last question. “I said I could go, Ronald! You’re being too overprotective of me! I can look after myself you know.” She shouted and made to storm out of the room but in a second, Harry was out of his chair and had grabbed her arm, gently squeezing it. She obeyed its soft pressure and turned to look at Harry.
“Ron didn’t mean to get out of control, did you Ron?” Harry asked stiffly.
“No,” Ron grumbled. Hermione glared daggers at him before returning to her seat. Ron began to mutter under his breath but both Harry and Hermione heard some distinctive words such as “Malfoy” and “Bloody git”.
“When are you leaving for Paris?” Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair.
“Where are you going to stay?” Ron asked in a disgruntled voice from the corner.
Hermione bit her lower lip, nervous of their reactions again and said, “We’re staying in a chateau he owns in the outskirts of Paris.”
This time both Harry and Ron jumped and shouted in unison, “WHAT?” Ron looked like he had just been hit over the head with a pan whereas Harry’s fists were clenched and his expression hard. None of them spoke for a few minutes until Harry managed to say coldly, “You’re going to be living in the same house as Malfoy for a month?”
“Tha…that is the general idea.” Hermione replied meekly.
“The…The General idea!” Ron shouted, rendered incoherent by his disbelief, and made an involuntary move that seemed as if though he wanted to pounce on her and she instinctively stepped backwards as Harry caught hold of Ron. “Calm down, for Merlin’s sake!” he yelled, some of his anger finally screening. He turned to Hermione and said, “I won’t allow it,”
Hermione felt as if a cold bucket of water had just been thrown down her back. She always thought that Harry could understand her well, not perfectly but well. And she knew how much he knew that she wanted to go to this conference and yet, here he was now, telling her that he wouldn’t allow her to go?
Friendship be damned! Her feminist mind was screaming for her to retort back and when she could no longer ignore it she hissed, “Who are you to not allow me to do what I want? My father? I am going to that conference and you’re not going to stop me. Neither of you.”
“Do you have any idea who you are going to be sharing living accommodations with?” Harry yelled back. His green eyes were flashing dangerously but so were Hermione’s hazel ones.
“Yes I do! And in case you hadn’t noticed, I can take care of myself! I don’t need you and I don’t need anybody to protect me!” she shouted. Without warning, the bedroom door flung open and in came Ginny, her red hair flying behind her, looking breathless.
“I thought I heard…raised voices…” her voice tailed off timidly as she stared at the scene in front of her. Hermione was at one end of the room whilst Harry was restraining Ron at the other end. He let go of Ron who dusted himself off and looked at Ginny enquiringly. “Yeah? You have a message for us? Otherwise get out!” he ordered rudely.
“Yeah I do!” Ginny snapped back. “Mum says dinner’s ready.” She shot him a look of pure venom before stalking out, the door snapping loudly behind. A stony silence fell around the room and Hermione stared defiantly at Harry and Ron, her eyes demanding them to challenge her.
“Um, shall we go down for dinner now?” Ron asked after a few moments, his stomach grumbling loudly right on cue.
“You go. We’ll be down in a minute.” Harry said grimly. Ron left the room and Hermione knew where this was heading. He was going to give her a lecture and try to talk her out of the trip and she did not want to hear a word of it.
“Harry, if you’re going to try and persuade me not to go, save your breath. I’m not changing my mind.” She said and made to leave the room, but with a flick of his wand, Harry had locked the door. Exasperated, Hermione said, “Let. Me. Out.” She was facing the door and did not bother to look at him.
“Listen, Hermione!” Harry said urgently. She slowly turned round to face him. “I know that you’re still going to go, regardless of what anyone else says but bear this in mind: This is Malfoy you’re going to be spending a month with. He’s the son of a Death Eater and god only knows if he is one too. If he tries anything funny, for your own good tell me. Got that?”
Hermione was shooting him cold glares and he knew what she was about to say, but he beat her to it, “I more than know that you are capable of looking after yourself, Hermione, but please, I don’t want to see you get hurt. You mean too much to us all.”
Her anger died down and she smiled slightly before saying, “All right, I’ll write to you everyday if necessary.” Harry smiled and he went over and unlocked the door before putting an arm around her shoulders and walking out of the bedroom, the door closing with a creak behind them.
Malfoy watched them with contempt as they bid each other farewell. Hermione quickly hugged Ron and he teased her a little about being stuck with Malfoy, but it didn’t bother her though. She knew it was his way of saying he’ll miss her. The she hugged Harry, a little longer and a little tighter. She breathed in the sweet scent that was Harry and let his dark hair tickle her nose. They both promised to owl her daily but she merrily laughed, exclaiming that they were still being too overprotective.
They met up with McGonogal who gave Hermione an affectionate hug and nodded curtly at Draco, before they began what would turn out to be an interesting journey. McGonogal sat down with them in a compartment and talked to them for a while about what they had been up to and she was quite interested to hear about Draco’s healer job in Italy. He however, was feeling uneasy. Being sat in a compartment with Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonogal was not his idea of fun and under McGonogal’s intense scrutiny, he wanted nothing more than to just leave the compartment. Luckily, McGonogal left after a short while, to attend to the students and Draco breathed a sigh of relief.
Whilst McGonogal had spoken to them they had sat side-by-side but the compartment door was barely shut before Hermione jumped to across and took McGonogal’s empty seat, so she was sat directly across from him.
This turned out to be a mistake. Malfoy had had his eyes shut for the past ten minutes and she found herself watching him as he slept, calm and unassuming. She couldn’t help but to notice how much he had changed. The pointed features she remembered so well had softened and it made him more humanizing. He really was quite handsome in his own ‘bad-boy’ way.
His hair had become a little less platinum and a little more straw-coloured. When she had first laid eyes on him talking with Healer Connors, she had noticed that he had grown at least two feet and his voice had become considerably deeper. His body had developed, matured even. It went well with his face. She watched as he clenched and unclenched his jaw and she couldn’t help but to notice how soft and smooth his peachy lips seemed.
Suddenly realizing what she was doing, she shook her head, horrified. She had just been analysing Malfoy and she liked what she saw. Thank god Harry and Ron aren’t here to see this, she thought mercifully.
“You know, just because you think someone is sleeping, doesn’t make it any less eerie when you gawk at them for two hours,” Malfoy’s eyes snapped open and a knowing, pretentious grin spread across his face.
Damn! He caught me! Hermione thought and she scolded herself for letting her eyes linger too much where she knew they shouldn’t. She blushed crimson and retorted, “Actually, it wasn’t two hours, it was just a few minutes,”
Malfoy’s smirk spread even wider and she realized that her admission had not been the right thing to say. She buried her hands in a futile attempt to hide her face, which was slowly becoming a deeper shade of red. Draco couldn’t resist the opportunity to taunt her. “Don’t worry Granger,” he assured her, “I’d be the last person to tell anyone that you have a crush on me. After all, I do have a reputation to consider. I’ve got to admit however I am slightly surprised. I mean, I know I am devilishly handsome and all,” he leaned forward and gently pulled Hermione’s hands away so he could look directly into her wide eyes, “But I don’t even have a nasty scar on my head to impress you.” Her reaction was more emphatic than he had expected.
Actually, he hadn’t expected to provoke her this quickly. Hermione Granger was usually a tough cookie to crack. I must’ve really touched a nerve, he thought as this revelation sent a sharp pang throughout his body. She likes Potter, he realized and for some unfathomable reason, it bothered him so.
Perhaps it was because Hermione wasn’t doing the only staring that morning. To be honest, the only reason, he had had his eyes closed earlier was because it was the only way he could think of to stop himself from watching her. It was warm on the train and Hermione had removed her robes the moment she had stepped in the compartment. She was wearing a short denim skirt that reached above her knees and a white cotton blouse. It was the blouse that did it. Draco had always found these surprisingly simple apparel extremely sexy on woman and Hermione was no different. He could not take his eyes off her, as much as his mind screamed for him to.
As McGonogal asked pointless question after pointless question, Hermione kept absentmindedly crossing and uncrossing her legs as she sat next to him, her right foot bobbing up and down, her leg swung leisurely over her knee. Her legs were so long and toned. It was hypnotic. It was finally when her arm in her white cotton blouse had brushed against his shoulder that he could take no more. He closed his eyes so he could no longer watch her, but he could feel her warmth as she sat close to him. He had felt her jump from her seat and move away to the opposite seat. The compartment had seemed colder after that. He scolded himself for getting so worked up over Hermione Granger and shifted back to their relationship of open hostility.
Hermione tore her hands away from his smooth grasp and leaned forward so that they were mere inches apart and with unwavering determination retorted, “Harry doesn’t need anything to impress people. And he doesn’t have to prove anything because, scar or no scar, he will always be a better man than you.” She leaned back in her seat, crossed her arms across her chest and added with a condescending, forced smile, “And you know it.”
She had gotten her own back, there was no denying it and he did not retort but glared, reminding her so much of the snobby school teen she remembered so well. After that, the journey had dragged along uneventfully. Hermione read a book, whilst Draco lay across three seats and stared at the ceiling, deep in thought.
A/N: Boy, the staff here are good!! Anyways, I'd just like to point out that from here onwards, parts of the plot are copyright to Melissa D. If there is something you do not recognize, then it's mine. And as promsied, this chapter is dedicated to shmegalah who reviewed my previous chapter first. Thank you hun. Credit to LilyEvansPotter15 for the brilliant chapter image =)
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