I wasn’t able to sleep after The Incident. Instead, I stayed awake in my Head Boy room all night after Zabini dropped me off (I was still a little shaky – and of course he bothered me about it until I finally cast a silencing spell on him. Ah, the joys of friendship) and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, my mind was too busy thinking of ways to escape my fate, which then led to images of Granger dressed in white robes, walking towards me in a cathedral (the images were nauseating enough, I don’t think I can even express it in words), which then led to suicidal thoughts.
Finally, some time around three in the morning, I snuck out again and rushed to the Owlery. Normally, Father wasn’t my favourite person to send owls to (in fact, I rarely ever corresponded with him lest I be taken for a daddy’s boy) but in this case, seeing as he’s the only person I know whom I could actually relate to, I had no choice but. I told him the horrible news and that I’d be waiting for him in the Three Broomsticks again for breakfast.
The following day, I sought out Snape. Seeking permission to leave the school grounds was a lot easier that time as Dumbledore was out and Snape just flicked his hand at me when I told him I was meeting Father at the Three Broomsticks. But even being the Mute Boy that he is, he still is a Hogwarts teacher and so, a thestral-driven carriage awaited me the moment I rushed out of the huge doors of the castle.
Father looked like he was near tears when he ungracefully took his seat across me. I knew the situation was even more severe than I first thought (which is saying a lot) when I noticed that he brought Mum along with him. She was looking particularly detached that morning.
“Well?” I demanded, after a moment’s silence.
Father just shook his head at me. “I don’t know.”
“This is entirely your fault, you know,” I said sourly to my father. “It’s your bloody Veela gene that did this to me.”
“How was I to know you’d end up disgracing the family? For generations, not once did a Malfoy end up with a dirty-blooded mate. She’s your mate, it’s your body, your senses – this is all your doing.”
I looked at him sulkily and crossed my arms, ignoring the food set before us.
Mum looked at him reprovingly and sighed. “It’s no one’s fault. This is the fate that Draco has been dealt with; we just have to accept it. More importantly, we have to accept her.”
I tensed up. I knew I had to accept it, but not just yet. There had to be other alternatives.
“So I was thinking,” I said, disregarding what Mum said, “if I ask to be Kissed by a Dementor“ – my mum gasped at this – “I’d still be alive, take over the Malfoy line and the upside to it is, I wouldn’t be able to feel. And so that frees me from ever having to bring Granger into the family,” I finished cheerfully.
My parents looked at me as if I were mad – my mum more so than my father (who seemed to be thinking this over whilst looking at me crossly).
“Look at what you’ve done to your son, Lucius,” Mum said in horror.
“What? I did not suggest he ask to lose his soul – it’s not like I’d ever allow him to anyway. He’s a teenager, allow him to think stupid thoughts but never act on them.”
Mum glared at him again. “You were the one who kept pounding the ‘Hate Muggles, Pureblood or No Blood’ motto in his head the moment he was born!”
“Right. Because it’s not something you’d ever teach him,” Father said sarcastically.
“It’s an opinion I wouldn’t waste any time voicing out, not an opinion I’d force him to have as well!”
Father gave out a dark laugh. “Really now? Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that Draco wasn’t a Veela and that he wasn’t brought up with the knowledge that purebloods are far better than mixed breeds, how would you react if one day he brought home a half-blood? Or a muggle-born?”
Mum thought this over a bit. “I’d be against it, yes. But if he really wanted to, and if he threatened to leave us for the girl, I’d accept it, just as I am now accepting the fact that Draco is destined to be with, what’s her name again? Helen? Hannah?”
“Hermione,” I muttered, for my mum’s benefit.
“Right. Hermione. I’m far from happy that this has happened, but I’d rather he marry her” (enter strange, garbled sound from me as form of weak protest) “than end up being Kissed by a Dementor.”
She looked at the both of us coldly, as if daring us to challenge her. When neither of us spoke up, she continued and spoke to me directly. “You’re you, Draco, and she’s she. We understand that. But whatever has passed is past, it’s time for a new beginning.”
“I wonder how this Veela thing works,” Zabini asked. “I mean, how are the mates picked? How are they chosen?”
I shrugged. “Probably some masochist from Veela-Land looming over a crystal ball handpicked Granger to be the death of me,” I said.
It was after Ancient Runes and Zabini and I were sitting under a tree, waiting for Pucey and Parkinson (who had Arithmancy) and Crabbe and Goyle (who had remedial Transfiguration) to arrive as we all had an hour’s break before lunch.
“Maybe… it has something to do with the geographical points where you were born in that could be parallel to where she was born.”
“You think too much.”
“Or maybe it has something to do with your similarities… or lack of,” he laughed.
I rolled my eyes and continued on twirling my wand around my fingers. I was starting to get used to him having fun at my expense. More horribly, I was starting to get used to the fact that I would one day end up with Granger.
“So how are you planning to tell her you love her?”
I dropped my wand, startled. I forgot all about that. “I don’t love her,” I said instead.
“Yeah, but you will, one of these days. Pucey and I have a bet going, he says it’ll be two weeks from now, I say in three days.”
My eyes widened. I pointed my wand at his nose. “You told Pucey?!” I yelled out.
He rolled his eyes and pushed my wand away. “Don’t do that, it makes me go cross-eyed. And yes, I’ve told Pucey and no one else, I swear.”
“You are dead, Zabini,” I muttered, still clutching on to my wand but not doing anything with it.
“I don’t see what the big deal is anyway, you and Granger are bound to happen anytime soon and when that happens, at least people will be assured that you haven’t gone mad – you just became, well… Veela.”
I shook my head, resigned. I hate it when people as annoying as Zabini (i.e. everyone) turn out to be right.
“So?” he pestered.
“How will you go about it?” he asked again. “I mean, you can’t just go up to her and tell her you love her,” he said, suddenly looking dreamy, as though he were imagining the thought of me doing so.
“Certainly not,” I scoffed. “I don’t love –“
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, save it Malfoy. You and I both know what’ll happen sooner or later, but in the interest of getting a real answer out of you, let me rephrase it: how will you tell Granger that you’re a Veela and that you two belong together? Wow, that’d make Weasley incredibly put off.”
“Yeah, won’t it?” I said, smiling widely. I could just picture it now: Weasley seeing me and Granger walking down a hall hand-in-hand, his face turning impossibly red, even redder than usual. Oh, I could just picture a little teardrop slide down – hold it, did I just imagine Granger and…. Right, well, let’s just pretend I didn’t.
“So what’ll you tell her?”
I shrugged again. “No clue. I could tell her everything, but knowing our history, she’d either: a) tell me to shove something hideous up my arse, b) doubt everything I say and think I’m planning an attack on her and her friends, or c) believe what I say and go on with her life and delight in the fact that she can physically and emotionally hurt me whenever she wants.”
“Ooh, option C sounds rather fun.”
“What’s option C?” Pucey asked, throwing his books on top of mine and stretching out across me and Zabini.
“Nothing,” I mumbled.
“Where’s Parkinson?” Zabini asked.
Pucey pulled out a handful of grass before answering. “Disappeared right after Arithmancy. Probably set off to find that sixth year what’s-his-name she’s been pining after.”
“She’s pining after someone else other than me?” I asked, feigning hurt. “Should I feel betrayed?”
Zabini and Pucey laughed at this.
“She’s moved on, mate,” Pucey shook his head in fake sorrow. “So what’s this option C you two were talking of?”
“Granger finding out about Malfoy being a Veela and delighting in the fact that she can be the cause of his premature death,” Zabini answered for me. I glared at him but he ignored me. I noticed that I’ve somehow lost respect from the sodding bastard.
“You and I may be friends, Zabini,” I spat out. “But mind your place.”
“Touchy today, aren’t we?” he murmured.
“Why not try it the old-fashioned way?” Pucey suggested, ignoring the small waging war between Zabini and I.
I looked at him questioningly.
“Why not try being nice to her? You know, earn her trust before pouring out your heart to her. Maybe send out a bouquet of flowers and some sweets to go along with it.”
My two so-called friends laughed hysterically. I vaguely heard an incoherent “Malfoy?” and “flowers” from Zabini who was trying his best to stay composed.
“Go… go ahead…” Pucey sputtered out between laughter and attempts to breathe. “Woo her.”
They both laughed again. Pucey was going red in the face and Zabini was clutching his stomach. Stupid, infantile hyenas.
“I hardly think wooing her is the answer to this,” I said the moment their laughter died down. “That’d only bring me back to option B: her thinking that I’m planning an attack on her and her friends.”
“It’s worth a try,” Zabini said, good-natured now. “Or have your father speak with her; he could be more convincing than you. And that puts off you having to tell her yourself how you feel.”
I thought about this for a while. It could work. Then again, it might not. “I doubt Granger would willingly step foot inside a room with my father – she seems terrified of him for some unknown reason – without having her wand at the ready along with several other bodyguards. Like Potty, for instance.”
“Don’t worry about it for now,” said Pucey. “We’ll think up of ways how you could go about telling her you love her.”
”I don’t love her.”
“Love who?” Crabbe asked, joining the group with Goyle right behind him, taking his place next to me, leaning against the bark of the tree.
“Who don’t you love?” Goyle asked.
I sighed. I hated to do it, but what’s the point?
“Zabini, would you do the honours?”
The day droned on with my unwavering awareness of Malfoy. It seemed that everywhere I went I was on the lookout for him. Down the corridors, as I walked from class to class, I would unconsciously be looking for his pale face and blond hair in the sea of insignificant faces. In the classes we shared, I was painfully aware of his presence and the stoic expression on his face. I still had no idea of what happened the night before, and this put me totally off track. Malfoy has been acting strange since the beginning of the term and it wasn’t like him to seemingly not be in control of himself, his emotions.
Harry and Ron seemed not to mind Malfoy’s strangeness and did not seem to worry about it all the time. And it bothered me that I did. How many times have we seen Harry obsess over Malfoy when things suddenly turned peculiar? And here’s Malfoy, acting completely out of this world, and Harry doesn’t even seem to mind it so much, Ron even more so.
Somehow, as Harry, Ron and I were walking out of the Greenhouse, as soon as Professor Sprout dismissed the class, I felt like taking a walk before heading for the Great Hall for lunch.
“Hermione,” Ron asked as he pulled on my arm. “Where are you going? The castle is this way.” He jerked a thumb at the right direction.
“I feel like going for a walk,” I answered matter-of-factly and continued to walk towards the clearing.
“We’ll join you,” Ron said as he and Harry caught up with me.
“You really don’t have to,” I said but didn’t push it any further. I just really needed the air to clear my head.
Something big was happening; I could feel it in the air, in the very veins in me. It scared me, excited me. I had no idea what it was, or even why I thought such a thing was happening, but I knew that it was bigger than me and it was engulfing me whole. And it somehow involved a certain petulant, big-headed Slytherin.
We were nearing the school yard when Harry snapped me out of my reverie when he said “Malfoy and his flock are here; let’s go back to the castle.”
I looked up, and luckily the Slytherin group still hadn’t noticed us. We turned around to head back to the castle when Ron pulled on my arm to stop.
“What?” I whispered angrily. “If you don’t stop pulling my arm every five minutes, Ronald, it’ll give and stretch down to my knees.”
Harry began to laugh. I scowled at him for a second and then turned my glare back to Ron. “And when that happens, I swear I’ll hex you to next weekend.”
“No, Hermione, listen,” he whispered and looked pointedly over his shoulder.
“Ronald,” I whispered crossly. “You shouldn’t make a habit out of eavesdropping on other people’s business –”
“No, wait,” he answered hurriedly. “They’re talking about you…”
That had me close my mouth shut.
“So now Malfoy has to tell Granger about it,” Zabini was saying. “Thing is, knowing the bitter past between them, it’s more than likely that she wouldn’t believe a word of it.”
“Yeah, too much cold blood there for her to believe him now,” someone was saying. It sounded like Adrian Pucey. “Malfoy has to come up with something good and just make Granger know about this, before he further hurts himself.”
Then they were silent. Checking over our shoulders to make sure they haven’t spotted us, we quickly rushed back up to the castle.
“What was that?!” Ron was pacing around the Common Room. We didn’t feel like having lunch anymore so we trekked our way back to the Gryffindor Tower, going against the flow of people who were all headed to the Great Hall.
“No idea” Harry answered, his face screwed up in deep thought. “Do you really have no idea about this, Hermione?”
I rolled my eyes. “If I did, Malfoy wouldn’t have to ‘come up with something good’ and tell me whatever it is he has to tell me, right?” We have been at this for about an hour now and they wouldn’t let it rest. “And if you two have any plans of asking me one more time about everything that has happened before this, I’m telling you again, I’ve told you all I know.”
Harry shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“Maybe you should just ask him about it,” Ron suggested.
“Right,” Harry said with a raised brow. “Because Malfoy answers all our questions.”
“Boys,” I said raising my voice. “I’ll find out sooner or later, anyway. He’ll have to tell me about it, remember? Whatever it is, I hope its sooner and not later, lest he wants to drive us mad.”
“I bet he does.” Ron frowned.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “But then again, Pucey did say that Malfoy has to tell Hermione soon, because if he doesn’t Malfoy might just end up hurting himself. And that’s what’s bothering me most.” Harry stood up and grabbed his book bag. “What does he have to say to Hermione that’s affecting him so much, to the extent of getting hurt? Anyway, we better head out now. Maybe we can make a quick run to the Great Hall to grab a few bites before heading off to class…”
Once again, I rolled my eyes. Now they worry, when just a few hours ago, they didn’t even think twice about it.
It was hard for me to admit this to Harry and Ron, but I, too, was worried. It was bad enough worrying about Malfoy’s peculiarity, now it was even more worrisome knowing that it was, indeed as I suspected, related to me.
I sighed as I stood up from the huge red velvet chair and followed the two out of the open portrait and into the corridors. It was a long pathway to the Great Hall and I immediately regretted not having lunch – my stomach was literally growling (probably at me for neglecting it of food). Just before we could round up to the corner before the Great Hall, I slammed hard into another body and fell down onto the floor. I looked up to see a sparkle of white-blond hair and pondering grey eyes looking down at me peculiarly.
“I-I… S-sorry,” I stammered, my heart beating unusually fast.
He offered his hand out, to help me up (how curious), but Harry and Ron beat him to it and held me up by my arms. He quickly lowered his hand and walked away with his friends by his side.
“Are you okay?” Ron asked me softly.
I nod my head, still a bit dazed. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Malfoy,” Harry called out.
I looked to see if he would react. He stopped and turned around, looking back at Harry expectantly. Zabini was off to one side, smiling profusely, entertained by the whole ordeal. Crabbe and Goyle were looking at their feet, clearly uncomfortable. Pucey was unaffected and showed no signs of emotions (until a raven-haired Slytherin passed by, to whom he winked at with a grin, but returned to looking stoic as he tuned in on us again).
”Yeah?” he asked, after a second passed and Harry still hadn’t spoken.
Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets and gazed at the floor. “Can we talk?”
Malfoy folded his arms across his chest and smirked. “Go ahead.”
“In private, I mean.”
He arched an eyebrow at that. “I don’t think so.”
My friends were silent and of no use. Pucey, evidently, would much rather spend his time grinning like a madman to third-year Slytherins than to spend his remaining minutes of freedom (a.k.a. lunch break) with us. Zabini, of course, was enjoying this immensely.
“Why not?” the little Potty demanded. What an arse.
“Oh, several reasons, really,” I said airily. “One of which has to do with you not being a person I’d willingly chat with. If you have something to say, say it now.”
“Alright,” he conceded. “We overheard you and your friends –“
“Spying, are we, Potter?”
He glared at me; quite impressively, I hate to say. He went on. “Pucey, I think, said something about you having to tell Granger something.”
I looked at him harshly. I was suddenly filled with hatred and relief. And embarrassment (as there were still a few people walking out the Great Hall). Thankfully, none stopped to listen (some just glanced at us curiously). “That, Potter, has nothing to do with you.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, I suppose Slytherins don’t know much about friendship, but as far as I know, Hermione’s my friend and what concerns her, concerns me.”
“Aww, how endearing, Potter. But au contraire, that’s where you’re wrong: I do know a thing or two about friendship, much as you disagree, but I have friends who sometimes, may not be the brightest of the bunch –“
“Oy!” Zabini called out.
“Not you,” I muttered through clenched teeth. “But are loyal and very much concerned with my well-being. They just know that what concerns me also concerns them only when I ask for help. See, unlike you, we don’t make it a point to pry into other people’s lives. We respect each other’s privacy – a word you’re probably unfamiliar with.”
Scarface looked as though he was choking (fingers crossed). “Whatever,” he muttered instead. “She asked for my help, so can we talk in private?”
“Can’t” I answered. What a spoilt brat, can’t he just take no for an answer and get on with life? “We have Potions in a few minutes, I have to go. You, of course, ever late and unprepared, can go on and lounge about, but I have my responsibilities to attend to.”
I walk away again, Pucey by my side and Crabbe and Goyle right behind us.
“Five-thirty, the Astronomy Tower – Professor Sinistra won’t be using it till later this midnight – we’ll see you there,” I heard Zabini tell Potter.
I stopped in my tracks. I heard Pucey sigh, but like me, he turned around and walked back to where Zabini was standing, looking at Granger a bit sceptically (a feeling I’ve been having since The Incident).
I grabbed Zabini by the back of his collar and pulled him towards me. It probably would have been more intimidating if not for the fact that he was at least two centimetres taller than me.
“What the hell are you trying to pull, Zabini? Did you not just hear me say something about respecting each other’s privacy?” I hissed at his ear.
“Yeah – But I also heard that what concerns you also concerns us if you ask for help. And you did, you asked for help and that’s precisely what I’m doing. Come on, mate, you know this is the opening you need,” he whispered back. “And you know they can’t hurt us,” he said loudly now, so that the three Gryffindors could hear. “It’s five against three, if any of them tries to hex us, they’ll all end up with nose bleeds and upset stomachs. Maybe Weasley can try that ‘eat slugs’ performance again,” he said with a chuckle.
I saw Weasley immediately reach for his wand.
“Go ahead,” Zabini said gleefully, a smile etched on his face. “Let’s see you do it again, Weasel.”
From beside me, I saw Pucey hold out his wand, twirling it around his fingers to display that he wasn’t going to attack, but he was ready if they wanted to. Crabbe and Goyle were behind us, cracking their knuckles and ready to pounce.
Granger held on to his hand and pushed it down, then whispered something that was inaudible to us. I gasped as a sharp pain shot through me, my heart began to palpitate painfully and my veins began to throb all over. Why? Why must this always be the effect on me?
I slung my arm over Zabini’s shoulder and closed my eyes tightly.
“You alright, mate? I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
“Yeah,” I said after a while. “It’s gone now.” I straightened up, released Zabini and looked coldly at the three of them. “We’re not here to fight, I did not ask for any of this, and may I remind you, you were the ones to first confront us. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a class to get to.”
“Wait –“ Potter called out before we started off.
“What now?” I asked incredulously. What more could the Accidental Boy Wonder want?
“The Astronomy Tower at five-thirty, is it still on?”
I looked at Zabini questioningly, wondering if I should. He gave me a look. “If you don’t, I will,” he hissed menacingly. I suppose he’s fed up with it all.
“Yeah,” I said finally. “Don’t be late.”
“It’d be best if you all control your tempers,” Pucey said before we turned to leave. “So that we don’t have to resort to using our wands. Especially you, Weasley. If you really must come along, keep your distance. And your mouth shut.”
Author’s Notes: Oh wow, thankfully none has complained about the too-long chapters we’ve had, seeing as this has turned out to be the longest ever. The chapters might get longer and longer as the story progresses, so if it bothers you, please say so. Promise? Good. :D –Sloane
Cheers! Oh, and leave some pretty comments. Yay. – Skye
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