Hermione woke up early, still confused from last night’s bizarre events. But the look of utter hate directed towards her had been eating away at her all night. He had kissed her only seconds earlier and touched her in a way that had sent shivers down her spine yet made her unbelievably warm and after the arrival of that letter, he had glared daggers at her. Something in the letter must’ve incensed him. But what?
He was silent throughout breakfast and when she tried to make conversation with him, he rudely told her to piss off. She became irked with him from then, which was fine just for him. He didn’t want to talk to her and if she didn’t want to, it made things a whole lot easier. Hermione simply wanted to know why he was in such a foul mood and why he was taking his irritation out on her. Again, the only reason she could think of was the letter. What had enraged him so?
He left for the lecture, held in Dijon today, before she was even ready and when she got there, she found Gabriella fawning all over him. She frowned and went to find Jasper. He was at a cute café just outside the lecture theatre, enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry out in the early morning sun.
“Hi,” she said dejectedly and sat down in a chair opposite. He looked gorgeous with his blue eyes glittering in the sunlight, his hair messy as ever, falling into his eyes. She was already starting to feel better. His mere presence was intoxicating.
“Bonjour Hermione. Whatever is the matter?” he asked sympathetically as he looked at her sulky face.
“Draco,” Hermione spat. “He’s being treating me like a bloody pariah all morning over some stupid letter.” She sighed before smiling wearily, “Sorry you have to hear me go on like this. How are you by the way?”
After her conversation with Jasper she was feeling heaps better. At least he knew how to treat a lady, unlike some blonde, egotistical idiot, she thought scornfully as she caught sight of Draco and Gabriella once they were back in the lecture theatre. Gabriella caught Hermione and Draco glaring at each other and she watched on curiously. The pair had been getting along like honey on toast for the past few days, why the sudden change of heart?
“Are you and Hermione okay?” she asked hesitantly, pretending to take notes as a German healer rambled on at the front.
“Huh?” Draco looked up, “Oh that…yes everything’s fine.” He was lying and she knew it, but didn’t push the topic further. Later it was announced that they were to be taking a trip to a museum, so that the foreign students would get a taste of French, magical monuments. Hermione was so excited and she turned to Jasper beaming happily.
“This is wonderful! I didn’t know we got to go on field trips,” she exclaimed as she fastened her coat, ready to go walking towards the museum which they were informed was only a few minutes walk from the lecture theatre.
“I think you’ll love it,” Jasper smiled and put his arm about Hermione’s waist before they walked off. Feeling that familiar sensation again, Hermione felt Draco’s eyes on her back. Her pulse quickened and she willed herself not to turn round and stare back at him, but the impulse became too strong to control and she glanced back at him. His cool grey eyes were as dark as the sea on a stormy day and she caught him glaring at her and Jasper. He caught her eye and continued to stare ahead, his eyes darker than ever. She blushed lightly under his intense gaze and turned back to Jasper, but not before she caught sight of his and Gabriella’s hands laced together. Her insides blazed with jealousy and she fought hard to push that burning feeling away but to no avail. It refused to cease.
The trip to the museum was brilliant and Hermione was in awe by the end of it. She had never before visited a magical museum and she was filled with childish glee as she stared at all the exhibitions, feeling just like Ron when he had first entered HoneyDukes. Her pleasure was cut short when she returned to chateau and faced Draco again. He would not talk to her, he would not look her in the eye and it was infuriating to let him treat her like this without knowing why. Why? Why? She had been able to answer most questions starting with that one little word but for once this was a question that only Malfoy knew the answer to.
Dinner was a subdued affair. Draco sat at one end of the table, whereas Hermione sat at the other end, almost on the other side of the room. When they were finished, Draco made to get up and leave but Hermione ran after him and caught his arm, no longer bearing the thirst for the answer to his moody jackass behaviour. He ignored the warmth that spread through his arm from her touch and turned round to glare at her.
“Will you stop acting like such an idiot and tell me why you won’t speak to me?” she asked, her eyes pleading for an answer. But he wouldn’t look into them. He looked away and hissed quietly, “Take a hike, mudblood.”
Hermione stared at him in bewilderment, her eyes watering. What had happened to the Malfoy she had taught about common antidote potions and the one that had helped her learn French words by connecting them to Hogwarts students? A tear escaped her eye and slid down her cheek and she forcefully shoved Draco’s arm out of her grasp and said in a hurt voice, “Fine! Have it your way!” and she rushed out of the dining room and out of sight, but not before he heard her sniff back a sob and he groaned, banging his fist on the table.
Hermione walked out into the chilly courtyard and stared round at the several blossom trees engulfed by the darkness of the night. Up above, the sky was a mixture of clouds, moon and stars. She sat down at a bench and hugged her knees close to her chest, shivering slightly from the cold. She breathed in the scent of her Gryffindor sweatshirt and another tear escaped her eye and slid down to her lips where she tasted its saltiness. Harry had given her this sweatshirt at the end of Hogwarts and it still fit and miraculously, it still smelt of Harry.
She wished she were back with him, back in England living her life, away from Malfoy. Away from his prejudice and egotism, away from the chateau, away from Gabriella, away from everything that had to do with him. But as she closed her eyes and buried her head between her knees, she imagined she could still smell his subtle, expensive cologne and she imagined the sensation of how it always made her light-headed and dizzy. There were as many things she liked about him, as she hated. His knowledge and wit for one, he had been the only one to challenge her intelligence during Hogwarts and she had stumbled across one of his stories in the library the other day and his way with words had made her gape; he was naturally talented. His sly sense of humour for another, although she had despised the sick sense of humour he had possessed during Hogwarts, it had now changed into good-natured humour and he was always cracking jokes and making her laugh. He was also hard working, headstrong and independent, much as she was. And the fact that he was too good-looking for his own good did not help either.
Rubbing her arms with her hands to keep herself warm, she got up and walked around the dark courtyard, stopping frequently to stare at something or the other. When it began to get too cold for her liking she went back into the chateau and decide to go to the library where she would review her notes alone, with difficulty, as Malfoy wouldn’t be helping her, the arrogant imbecile.
Things did not improve the following day and soon it was not only Draco who was irritable. Hermione soon took to imitating him by pretending that he didn’t exist. This thoroughly pissed Draco off. They returned to the chateau from the Marseilles lecture both in cross moods and to add to Draco’s already close-to-snapping temper, Jasper appeared to take Hermione out. He clenched his fists as he saw them depart and when they were gone, he punched a nearby wall, doing nothing for his bad mood and only achieving a throbbing pain in his knuckles.
He sat in the lounge all evening, his eyes closed, desperately trying not to imagine what Hermione might be up to with that prat at the moment. It was late into the night, just as he was about to nod off and go to sleep that he heard voices in the hall outside. He quietly moved around the room to get to the door and he was surprised to find that the voices were coming from behind the door. He immediately distinguished them.
“You’re very pretty, Hermione,” he heard Jasper’s voice. He knew that at this moment Hermione would be blushing furiously; she always lost control of herself around the bloody Frenchman. He heard her mumble a thank you and then the shuffling of feet could be heard. His insides bubbling restlessly, he pulled the doors open and watched with satisfaction as Hermione and Jasper jumped apart before their lips could meet.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! Was I interrupting?” he asked in a convincingly innocent surprised voice. Jasper looked at him with a slight glare and dug his hands in his pockets, keeping silent whereas Hermione knew that he was putting on an act.
“As a matter of fact you were interrupting something very
important!” she spat vehemently.
“My deepest apologies then,” he spat back sarcastically in a voice that said anything but. “But I was waiting for you to finally get back so we can finally review some notes, but oh no wait! You’d much rather be out on a date,” he turned round, his robes snapping at her legs and he marched up to his room.
Turning round to face Jasper, Hermione said through gritted teeth, “I’m sorry but I have to go and sort something out with my idiot of a partner
.” And she marched away, leaving Jasper to stare after her, not caring that he had wanted to say a ‘proper’ goodnight. She pushed the door open to Draco’s room with such force that it hit the wall with a snap and rebounded, but she could not care less. She marched up to him by the window and said hotly, “Just what is your problem? What have I done that’s so bad that you’ve been treating me like a bloody pariah these past two days?”
He did not reply.
“Won’t you talk to me?” she pleaded. Again he did not reply.
“JUST SAY SOMETHING!” she yelled. Draco turned round to face her, his eyes cold and hard.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked spitefully, “Sorry for not letting that idiot kiss you goodnight? Sorry for kissing you? Sorry for everything that’s happened here?”
“No. Tell me what was in that letter. That’s why you’re treating me like this, isn’t it? Because of that letter.” She said quietly. He did not utter a single sound, simply staring into her dark eyes.
“Or is it because your pure pristine pureblood lips were caught on my dirty mudblood ones by one of your friends’ owls? Are you afraid that it’ll go and hoot what it saw to your mother and friends? Is that it? All because of one stupid kiss?” she hissed dangerously. She wasn’t going to plead with him anymore; he wasn’t worth it.
He walked over to a desk and pulled an envelope from beneath the clutter of parchment and quills. Silently, he handed it to her. Surprised yet curious, Hermione pulled the contents out. There was a letter and a newspaper cutting. She read the letter first.
You probably aren’t going to like this, but I thought that it would be unfair if everyone kept it from you. I’ve included an article from the Daily Prophet that you might find interesting. So tell me, how’s France? How’s the mudblood? I can only imagine how you’re getting along with her. You might’ve already killed each other and you probably won’t read this letter but I’m betting against that. How is the conference going? Have you met any smouldering French ladies yet? I’ve also got to apologise for not writing earlier, it’s just that I’ve been busy at the ministry. I’ve been hearing some funny rumours around but I’ll tell you about them once you get back. Life here is still pretty dull; I now have to put up with that bastard Cormac McLaggen working in the same department as me. Merlin, help me.. Reply back when you get the chance.
P.S- your mother says she is sorry that she hasn’t written as frequently, but she has been busy arranging some fundraising events for St Mungo’s.
Hermione turned to read the article and her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as she read it. England’s finest to be representative in France,
the headline blared and her eyes skimmed it quickly. It was all about the medical conference and Hermione and how she would bring honour and pride to her family and St Mungo’s. In almost a full page, not even one mention of Draco could be seen. Lines such as ‘A fine model for all’
and ‘Was the brightest of all Hogwarts’
jumped out at her and enraged her. Who had written this piece of rubbish? Her eyes immediately found the name: Rita Skeeter.
“I worked so hard in my previous job and at St Mungo’s and I was delighted to get the opportunity to come here and restore some influence back to my family’s name. Only they had to choose you too,” he laughed bitterly, “Well, who can really blame them? Perfect Hermione Granger would be the ideal choice to represent St Mungo’s,”
“And you actually care what this rubbish says?” she asked incredulously, shoving the article back into his hands. “This is Rita Skeeter for god’s sake! Do you actually believe half the things she writes? So who cares if some people don’t know that Draco Malfoy is representing St Mungo’s as well? You know, I know and everybody else who matters knows,”
“I care!” Draco said, turning to stare out the window. “Do you know how hard I worked to restore my family’s position in society after people knew my father was one of the Death Eaters? I sucked up to all the influential bastards and did what the heck they wanted just to make sure that me and my mother wouldn’t be shunned from the life we knew…I want them to know I’m not like my father and that I can achieve something to prove that.”
Hermione sighed deeply. She gently put her hand on Draco’s shoulder and squeezed it gently, “You’re not like your father… you’re not your father. It’ll be okay. Draco, it’s going to be all right,” she said softly. His eyes wide, he stared at her reflection in the window as did she and he said quietly, “You just called me Draco,”
She began to blush slightly, hid behind his back so her reflection couldn’t be seen and mumbled, “Yeah, well I was just imagining the presentation the other day and I heard myself say ‘We shall now turn to Malfoy’ and it just didn’t sound right. People might think we didn’t get along and that’s not true is it?”
Draco turned round, wanting to soak in the sweetness of it all, and he smiled slightly. Hermione looked up at him and realized that this was the first time she had seen him smile, not a smirk or a jeer, just a sweet small smile.
“Sorry I’ve been such a jerk the past few days,”
“Yes, well, there’s no denying that,” she smirked a knowing superior smirk good enough to put his to shame. He pulled a face at her and she laughed lightly.
“It’s late, we should probably get some sleep.” Draco announced as he stared down at her.
“You’re right, I’m so tired,” Hermione said stifling a yawn. He held the door of his room open for her and she walked out he said a soft, “Good night, Hermione.” She stopped in her tracks and turned to stare at him, a slightly bewildered expression on her features before shaking her head, smiling and saying dismissively as she went, “Good night, Draco,”
A/N: And so the mystery of the letter is solved. I think that up until now, the story has been moving somewhat…slowly, so hopefully things will start to move at a nice steady pace and events will start to get juicy in the next few chapters. Don’t you just love Jasper? Although admittedly, I love him coz I can only picture the delectable Gaspard Ulliel as his character :P Can some of you guys help me come up with a summary for the story as I suck at 'em. Just stick it un a review. Credit will be in the next chapter. Thank you so much. Reviews are much loved. Chapter image by LilyEvansPotter15