The following day, I tried to reassure myself that whatever happened on the train the day before was a massive disaster on my part but was never bound to happen again. It was probably something I ate.
I walked up the stairs to the Great Hall for breakfast from the Slytherin dormitories with Crabbe and Goyle flanking my sides (my well-trained friends, bless their little pseudo-souls. I say jump, they ask how high? I say heel, they walk a step behind. I say, ooh ice cream, they look around for the source) and protecting me from imminent danger – not that there’d be much danger in Hogwarts. Except for the probable clash with Mr Potty and his dearest associate whom I was starting to think was actually his lover-man.
We took our usual seating arrangement in the Slytherin table with me in between them and in front of Pucey who was seated next to Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson. The food spread out was not bad, although last night’s welcoming feast was loads better. Crabbe and Goyle quickly pounced on the food like desperate male dogs in heat humping a pole. Me? I had more pressing thoughts in my mind.
Seated directly across me in the Gryffindor table was St Potter and his merry group of friends with smiles plastered on their faces. (Did they ever stop smiling?)
I stood up and motioned for Crabbe and Goyle to follow suit (who looked sadly down at their food they were devouring before standing up as well) and we walked over to the Gryfindor table.
The looks on Potter and Co’s faces suddenly tensed up and turned to scrutinising frowns, fury being more evident on the Boy-Who-Unfortunately-Lived.
“Malfoy,” he growled.
“Potter,” I said with a fake cheery smile that they obviously did not believe. “Wonderful to see you again this school year, see the Dark Lord still hasn’t done you in. How… unfortunate.”
Then suddenly, an unexpected sense of rage surged through my body like one I’ve never felt before. This feeling doubled the highest level of anger I’ve ever felt before and I had to say, it was very unsettling. I mean, I did hate the man, but I didn’t think I’d feel this strongly about it. I don’t think I even want to feel that strong anger towards him. You know, because of the thought that the feeling of hate could easily transcend to love and I didn’t want to feel that enormous sense of rage suddenly turn to love. And directed towards him of all people. Disgusting.
The She-Weasel then stood up and pointed her wand at me menacingly.
“Are you mocking me with that silly thing?” I scoffed, doubting she had the nerve to hex me. “It’s hard to believe you actually made prefect. It’s hard to believe that anyone from your clan would make prefect actually, let alone be able to afford an education – seeing as how classless and deprived the lot of you are.”
“Leave us alone, Malfoy,” came the quiet reply of the mudblood with hair styled after a lion’s mane. She must love being a Gryffindor that much that she actually exemplified the house’s animal symbol.
I glared at her with utmost disgust. “Don’t you dare try speaking to me, mudblood,” I berated her, practically spitting out the words. “You and your kind don’t even deserve to live, breathe and be here, let alone speak to purebloods. Mind your position in this place,” I hissed at her.
I saw the Weasley lover-boy’s hands roll into fists ready to attack at any moment. Crabbe and Goyle, sensing that their help was about to be needed, quickly moved forward and crossed their arms over their chests, looking as horrendously threatening as possible.
But at that moment, I felt another deep swell of emotion run through me but this time around, it was something unfamiliar. I felt… hurt? And oh bloody hell, my eyes started to well up in tears. The last time I ever cried was when I was a newborn baby trying to take in my first breath of air. Oh this was so humiliating. And in front of Crabbe and Goyle as well! Ah who am I kidding, they wouldn’t take notice of it. But I saw that Potter was giving me a curious look.
I quickly turn around without so much as a look at any of them and hurry back to Slytherin table before the tears come pouring out and shovel forkfuls of scrambled eggs in my mouth, leaving Crabbe and Goyle in a state of confusion before retreating back to the table. Thankfully they didn’t say a word, they just looked happy to be back in the loving arms of their sadly disrupted meal.
What the bloody hell just happened?
I return to a conversation of Quidditch with Pucey and Zabini and even Parkinson who kept butting in every so often faking knowledge of the subject though I strongly doubted that she even knew the difference between a Bludger and a Quaffle. I tried to erase the thought from my mind. It was insane. Ridiculous. Maybe it had something to do with Potter. Yeah, that’s right; he’s probably been putting me under a curse or slipping some weird hormonal-inducing potion into my drinks.
Students started standing up and vacating the Great Hall and I noticed that those around us just finished clearing their plates. It was time for the first subject of the day. I peered at my time-table. That meant Charms for me, Zabini and Pucey (Crabbe and Goyle, sadly but not surprisingly, didn’t make it to NEWT level Charms). Oh well. I started to clear my plate as well when I felt another strange feeling pass through me. It was painful – and not like the hurt- tears-welling-up kind of pain. No, this was more physical. My body started to burn, perspiration beaded the sides of my face and excruciating pain followed.
I screamed out in pain and clutched my chest. “Bloody hell…” I say silently and doubled over, grabbing onto the table for support. It felt like someone was holding a chokehold grip on my heart and wanted to pull it out of my chest.
“Draco, what’s wrong?” Pansy asked, immediately by my side.
The rest of the Slytherins looked at me in curiosity. Pucey looked at me in concern. “You alright mate?” he asked.
I looked up at them and nodded my head weakly. At that point I was already buckled up at my knees and was struggling to stay conscious. I slowly stood up a minute later after having felt the pain disappear.
Did I just have a bout of heart attack? I thought to myself. But I’m only seventeen! I looked around the room to see who else saw what happened. Thankfully, not a lot of students were left in the Great Hall. Granger and her carrot-top friend saw what happened. Pfft. Didn’t care much about them. And walking out the doors of the Great Hall, I saw the Weasel girl shyly remove her hand from Potter’s hold. How sickening.
I shook my head. Definitely strange. I was being abnormally hormonal. I shrug the concerned looks of my friends away and secluded myself into a spot on the table and quickly pull out parchments of papers and my ink and quill. I had a letter to write and it was addressed to my father. I needed confirmation and it looks like my worst fears were about to come to life.
I was practically on the verge of tears at what Malfoy had said. Thankfully he left before my tears could pour out. Imagine how embarrassing it would have been if he caught me crying.
Once everyone was done with breakfast, and our class schedules were distributed, I grabbed my book bag and stood up from the Gryffindor table. I saw Harry and Ginny leaving the long table, as well. I smiled as Harry took her hand and led her to the huge double doors.
“Hey, Hermione,” Ron said as he stood beside me, placing his hand on the small of my back. “You okay?”
I nodded and checked my schedule for the day. First subject was Herbology, Greenhouse number 3.
“Did you see how that bloody ferret was almost crying?” Ron asked as he led me away from the Gyffindor table, his arm protectively snaking its way around my waist. “Unbelievable.”
Then suddenly a blood curdling scream pierced the air. The nearly empty hall suddenly fell quiet. I shifted away from Ron to find the source of the painfully eerie cry. My eyes landed on Malfoy who was doubled over, bent from the waist, holding on to the Slytherin table for support. His face was overcome with anguish, his grey eyes wide open.
I looked up at Ron who looked just as confused as I was feeling at that moment. For the past two days, Malfoy had displayed strange and unusual emotions. The emotions in themselves were semi-normal. But the fact that they came from Malfoy, who had an emotional range the size of a teaspoon, puzzled me. His face never held pain and hurt and fears before. His features were by and large reserved for contempt, pride and dislike.
But as soon as I looked over to the Slytherin table I saw him seemingly fine, that Pansy Parkinson girl by his side.
The instant Ron and I stepped out of the Great Hall we fell into step with Harry and headed towards the exit for the Hogwarts grounds.
“Ginny’s first class is Transfiguration,” Harry said, a contented smile on his face.
“Harry,” I spoke up, my brows furrowed in uncertainty. “Did you hear Malfoy scream in there?”
“He was his usual insulting self, Hermione,” answered Harry. “But he was in no way screaming.”
“No, mate,” Ron said. “As we were leaving the hall, Malfoy screamed all of a sudden. He looked… He looked like he was in pain.”
“Do you reckon the Dark Lord’s calling? Maybe Malfoy has the Dark Mark tattooed on his arm?” Harry asked, suddenly curious.
I shook my head. “I’m not sure what it is,” I answered as we walked past the vegetable patch towards the third Greenhouse from the left. “But somehow I don’t think it’s because of You-Know-Who.”
“Maybe he’s sick with some incurable disease,” Ron said, a slight hop to each of his step. “And he’s dying.”
Now Harry shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“But he did look like he was in terrible pain,” I said, recalling the look on Malfoy’s face as he clutched the edge of the Slytherin table. “He was in agony, his face all scrunched up like that. His eyes wide with…I don’t know, fear, maybe?”
Ron laughed. “Since when did you start noticing Malfoy’s eyes?”
“You got a crush on Malfoy now?” Ron said jokingly.
I forced a laugh. But somehow, my mind wouldn’t let go of how Malfoy looked that morning.
Even as we began with Herbology class, my mind was somewhere else. And this puzzled me. Why was I worrying about Malfoy when I was clearly supposed to be focusing on those silly, and utterly venomous, African Blossoming Bane, which we were supposed to be removing thorns from?
I sighed as I nipped my finger for the nth time in the past thirty minutes. Professor Sprout was looked over at me, and her brows creased with shocked curiosity.
I had to clear my mind. How can I still be thinking about Malfoy? I tried to free my head of everything else and to focus on de-thorning the gigantic native African plant in front of me. But every time the wounds of the plant, where the thorns were removed from, oozed with silver sap, Malfoy’s pained grey eyes swam lazily in the back of my mind. And nip! I just cut myself again.
“You okay?” Harry asked as he sidled next to me, leaving his own African demon, which, for the record, was perfectly de-thorned, behind.
Again, at a loss for words, I simply nodded.
“I just can’t stop thinking about Malfoy and how strange he was before leaving breakfast this morning,” I answered, trying to take out one stubborn thorn which kept moving out of my clippers’ way.
Ron, who stood on my other side, began laughing his head off. “Hermione’s got it bad.”
“What do you mean?” I asked absentmindedly as the stupid thorn once again avoided the clippers.
“Is this Hermione with a crush?” Ron teasingly asked Harry.
I rolled my eyes. “I do not have a crush, and especially not on Malfoy,” I said defiantly, my mind trying to push those silly grey eyes away. And nip!
Author's Notes: Another chapter up, yay and woo. Haha. Believe me, it was hard to track down Skye to finish her part of the story as she's utterly busy with work. As for me, a new term is up and running and the professors are harsh to say the least (I was given a reading 150 pages long and will have to report for orals in three days!), they are sadistic, I tell you, sadistic!! Well anyway, this is just a warning that with the many responsiblities we have, we might not be able to update as quickly as we would want to (though with many coaxing and reviews, we probably can make time lol (wink wink - what's that? No, I'm not twitching. Oh alright then, hint hint.) so don't forget to leave something pretty for us lol).
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