Harry and Ron took awhile to finish up their lunch and I was in a hurry. Malfoy and his friends were already halfway out the Great Hall. I shook my head and sighed in exasperation. “How much longer are you two going to dilly-dally here?”
“What’s got your bonnet in a twist, Hermione?” Ron asked giving me a curious look.
“Nothing,” I muttered, flushing beet red. I couldn’t admit to them that I wanted to have a chat with Malfoy. “You know what, never you mind. I’ll go ahead if it’s too much for you two to hurry up. I… er… got to pass by the Library before Charms. So… er, if you two don’t mind, I’ll be going ahead then.”
Harry shrugged. “Sure, see you later.”
I barely nodded, sprung from the table and rushed after the Slytherins.
Once I reached the Entrance Hall, there was not one Slytherin in sight. I frowned and quickly took off for the Charms classroom, a subject I shared with Malfoy that afternoon. Hopefully, if I got there early enough, I’d be able to catch him without too much people trying to eavesdrop on us. How would they react seeing me talking to Malfoy, when everyone knew we loathed each other?
As I headed towards the classroom, I kept trying to imagine how I could start the conversation with Malfoy. But nothing came to mind. I ran lines in my head, but each and every one of them sounded plain stupid. And I wasn’t even sure what I had to say to him that was so urgent.
Hi, I was hoping we could talk… And then what?
Hello, Malfoy, how are you today? Nope. That would definitely not do. Too blasé, as though it was such a normal thing for me to say to him.
Malfoy, about that Veela thing… No! Too direct, even for me.
Bloody hell, this was proving to be more of a pain than I thought it would be. How hard was it to talk to Malfoy?! What was wrong with me?! Why was I making such a big deal out of it? It was just Malfoy. And talking is just talking. I never had a problem with it before, quite the opposite actually. This was so unlike me and I had no idea why.
Next thing I knew, I was standing by the doorway of the Charms classroom and still I hadn’t anything to say. I looked around in exasperation and saw that Malfoy was indeed already inside the room.
I was about to wing it. I decided that whatever came to mind at that moment, I would just say it and then worry about sounding stupid when it was all over.
I took a deep breath, counted to three and then slowly began entering the room. I was barely two steps inside when I caught Malfoy leaning closely towards Susan Bones. My breath hitched for the second time that day. It bothered me that he was leaning way too close to that Hufflepuff with mush for brains.
Immediately, I exited the room and leant against the corridor wall. Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to tell him.
You foul despicable piece of scum! How dare you lead me to think you liked me when here you are, caught red-handed, flirting your arse off with Susan flip-my-hair-over-my-shoulder-‘cause-it-makes-me-look-dumber-than-I-already-am Bones!
I breathed in deeply and calmed myself down. I tried to reason with myself.
You’re not sure of what you saw. It could be he was just talking to her. And besides, why are you so affected? He never really did say he liked you, now did he?
But still. He lied to me if he can go off flirting with other people when he said that Veelas mate for life.
You’ll have to read up on Veelas then, don’t you? More to the point, shouldn’t this make you feel better? If Malfoy’s interested in Susan now, then he’s off your hands. No need to worry about it anymore…
Aaargh! That’s true… but… er… Whose side are you on anyway?!
I mentally slapped myself. I was going crazy and it was all Malfoy’s fault. Mentally slapping myself was not enough. I shook myself, tried to wake myself up and basically admonished myself for all it was worth. When I felt I was ready, I held my head up high and entered the classroom – heading straight for my seat in the centre of the room. I ignored Malfoy on my way there.
As I sat down by my desk, I felt something weird in my stomach. There was something there… Fluttering. It made ignoring Malfoy harder to do. Not to mention the fact that Susan was so incredibly, annoyingly noisy as she flirted back.
So they were flirting. I could hear it in her tone. And the breathiness of her voice was nauseating. I stopped mentally slapping myself moments ago and was ready to do it physically, but to someone else. If only Susan weren’t actually a friend of mine, I would have.
I resisted the temptation to watch them. It took all the strength and energy I had to not look behind me. I feared that if I did, I wouldn’t have the power to hold myself back. And again, this was so unlike me that I actually felt sick.
“That’s a nice tie you’re wearing, Draco,” she said with a tinge of wispiness to her voice.
I rolled my eyes. Malfoy wore the same tie everyday. It was green and silver, just like all the other Slytherins. What the bloody hell was she saying?
“You’re tie is cute too,” I heard Mafoy whisper back to her.
Ugh! Merlin save me. I wanted to take that stupid yellow and black tie of hers and strangle her with it. And for bonus points, strangle him with it, as well. They’re turning into sodding idiots. I balled my fists tightly in front of me, keeping them in my line of vision. I was afraid I had no control left over them and I wanted to smash them into something.
Soon people were pouring in. Harry and Ron also entered the room and took the two desks behind me.
“Got here real quick from the Library, eh?” Ron said as he sat down.
I smiled and nodded.
“What book did you need from the Library?” Harry asked as he took his seat beside Ron.
“Er…” I stammered and quickly tried to come up with something. I failed. “Er… I remembered I checked the book out already yesterday. Must have slipped my mind.”
That was it. I realised how lacking I was in the winging-it department. I couldn’t come up with smart things to say when the need arose.
Speaking of which, Malfoy was still talking to Susan, even as Professor Flitwick entered the classroom. The only satisfaction I got from it all was when the class began and the two had to shut up.
That was the most tiring hour of Charms ever. It took most of me to not look at him. I felt terrible. This was the first time in my entire life that I felt so unlike myself and I hated it. This was not who I was. Was this what I have been reduced to in a matter of mere hours? Some mad girl, being so greatly affected by a mad Slytherin and his mad story and his mad flirting with an equally mad, albeit dumber Hufflepuff?
Halfway through the class, I couldn’t help myself, I snuck a quick glance at Malfoy and saw him studying me. I blushed but tried to keep my composure. I raised an eyebrow as though to ask him what the bloody hell was he staring at. I think he got my point.
I stiffened and looked back to the front of the class, and pretended to return to listening to Professor Flitwick’s lecture. What an arse! What the hell did he have to smile at me for? After all that flirting he did with Susan! That boy’s got some nerves on him.
Once the hour was up, I quickly stood up and rushed towards the door. I didn’t want to have to face Malfoy.
I was nearly halfway to the door when I heard Malfoy call after me. I froze mid-step and turned around to look at him. “Yes?”
“Why so frosty?”
“None of your business, now is it?”
Malfoy just smiled. This only narked me more. Why did he have to act so nonchalant about this?
“If you say so.”
“Malfoy, you wanted to tell me something? Please get to the point.”
“Our head duties. Rounds tonight?” he asked, reminding of the one thing we had in common.
I nodded and shrugged at the same time. “Meet me by the stairwell to the Entrance Hall, 9 o’clock this evening, sharp. And I mean it, 9 o’clock sharp, not a minute after.”
“Will do,” Malfoy said with a huge smile. And I frowned. Susan Bones was fast approaching Malfoy from the back of the classroom. As I turned to stalk out of the room, I heard her call out to him.
“Let me walk you to your next class, Draco.”
Having Susan Bones as my guinea pig was not only a smart move, but incredibly hilarious as well. I passed my Veela charms with flying colours and she’s now always either drooling over me and wanting to fulfil my every desire or shooting icy daggers my way whenever I stop thinking of me and her in a hot tub together (which, by the way, was extremely hard for me to do).
After Charms, she eagerly walked me to my next class and even waited for me outside the Great Hall before lunch just to wish me a good meal. She then retreated to her table looking flustered and murderous, muttering to herself. If this is how Granger would react to me, I’d say my neck is saved.
“Don’t think I want to see a replay of that tomorrow, Malfoy,” Pucey said with a groan. The five of us were up in the Slytherin stands of the Quidditch Pitch (Pucey and I just finished practise and Zabini, Crabbe and Goyle were half watching and half playing Exploding Snaps) and having a chat before they retreat to the dormitories and me to my Head Boy duties. “It was too vomit-inducing.”
“I thought it was funny,” said Crabbe with a chuckle resembling a snort and an elephant scream.
“I thought it was well-executed,” Zabini said with a shrug. “But I agree with Puce, no more replays of Drooling Bones, it’s just too much to take.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You don’t have to worry about your stomachs tomorrow, I won’t be romancing Bones anytime soon,” I assured them.
“You’ll do it on Granger sooner,” Goyle mumbled.
“Ugh, that’s even grosser,” Zabini said and caught me glaring at him furiously. “Oh, I mean, hey look, Nott’s over there! I lent him my uh, something. Can I borrow your broom? Thanks,” he said and grabbed Pucey’s Nimbus 2001 before any of us can say anything else and raced down to the hallway where Nott and Bulstrode were walking.
“Any more comments?” I asked the rest.
“You know how we feel on the matter, Malfoy,” Pucey said before standing up. “And you know how you felt about the matter a few weeks ago, so really, let’s not be hypocrites. That’s all I have to say. I have to go and catch up on my Arithmancy.”
Crabbe and Goyle exchanged wary glances before following suit and headed down the dormitories as well.
I sighed and gazed up at the sky. A quarter moon was shining; almost like the sky was smiling at me, goading me.
Was I really ready to face my destiny and disregard all beliefs and principles I’ve had ever since I was born? Just for the sake of my life? Everyone’s got to die someday anyway, so why not tangle with death now?
Because you love her. All beliefs and principles be damned, you want to be with her.
“Whatever,” I muttered at the smiling sky and trudged down the steps.
“You’re late,” Granger told me furiously, her arms crossed over her chest.
“No, you’re early. I’m on time,” I said patiently, smoothing out the creases of my robe and grabbed hold of the lantern she was holding and started to walk down the hallway. “Well, what are you standing there for? You’re the one who wanted to get this started with, might as well start walking, don’t you think?”
She was angry at me (I could feel), though I honestly had no idea why. I have yet to mock her or ridicule her friends.
“Oh come on,” I said and grabbed her hand, pulling her next to me until she was walking on her own.
“You know, I’ve been trying to stay on your good side lately,” I started as we walked around the ground floor and checked the Great Hall for any stray students. “You don’t see me or any of my friends making trouble for you or your friends. I’ve even made it a point to start our duties on time, though I had no idea you wanted to start fifteen minutes early.”
“Is this your idea of a conversation?”
“No, I just wanted to put out a disclaimer: I have not done anything wrong.”
“And your point is?”
“I’m getting there, don’t be too excited. My point is, no actually, my question is, what did I do now to make you so angry?”
“I’m not. Now let’s just get this over with, okay?”
We were walking up the stairs to the first floor and she started to quicken her pace. “Ugh, not so fast Granger,” I said, “I hate climbing stairs.”
“Too strenuous for you?” she taunted.
“A bit,” I admitted. “I just came from Quidditch practise and the Common Room is, I learnt, not a place to hang-out if you need rest. Someone stole a Bludger and it went wild bouncing around the Common Room. Snape was not pleased.”
She frowned. “That’s not only breaking school rules, it’s also very dangerous! Who brought it in?”
“Not me, if that’s what that look is insinuating. And no, I don’t know who brought it in either. See? Now this is a conversation. But back to my earlier question, why are you angry at me? And don’t say you’re not. Veela powers, you see. I know how you feel. Though I don’t really know why, and that bothers me.
I frowned. “Crabbe and Goyle didn’t bully you or that Weasley girl, did they? I gave them specific orders not to bully anyone wearing a Gryffindor necktie; they must be smart enough to know that red and yellow is different from black and yellow. Either way, they must’ve gotten it wrong and thought your friend was a Hufflepuff.”
She stopped walking and stared at me.
“What now? Don’t tell me I did something wrong this time!”
“Why are you being so… human all of a sudden?”
“Oh, gee, thanks,” I said sarcastically. Try being kind to a Gryffindor and end up being insulted. If this isn’t love, then I don’t know what it is.
“What? No wand at the ready to hex me?”
I sighed. “I thought we already discussed this back in the Astronomy Tower? My heart, unfortunately for you, though I have no idea why – as most women would consider it to be a no-words-can-describe sort of gift – belongs to you. Do you know three older women propositioned themselves to me just last summer? One of them was muggle too, so I see no reason why you shouldn’t like me.”
“Think back to all the six years you’ve aggravated me and my friends and tell me that doesn’t count for anything.
I shrugged. “Sure, you’ve got a point there. But really now, that was just childish nonsense. And that is also why I’m trying to make amends. I realise now that acting stupid and being completely horrible towards you won’t do me any good, so you can thank my father for the lessened hexes headed your way.”
“Lucius Malfoy has a hand at doing something good?”
“Yes. I really hope you read up on Veelas, it’d make you understand this situation more. But in the meantime, he’s a Veela as well and understands that I love you and nothing can ever take it away. Not even him.”
She didn’t speak. I could feel she was in loss of words. For once. I almost laughed out loud, but I didn’t dare. I could feel something warm fill her chest and I took that as a good thing.
“Try to let me love you first. And if I don’t make you happy or if I cause you pain, even the slightest prick of a needle, then you can tell me you don’t want me. Or that you’re better off without me. I’ll walk away without a word. Please?”
She bit her lip. She was having a hard time deciding to trust me, but I knew she wanted to. There was just something bothering her, but I couldn’t feel what it was. If only Veelas can read their mate’s minds as well.
She fidgeted a bit, trying to decide whether or not she should tell me what’s been bothering her.
“Not really a fan of suspense, Granger, just thought you ought to know.”
She glared at me. “Susan Bones and your disgusting display during Charms – do you honestly think you can fool me with your Veela nonsense?”
“Veela nonsense? You don’t believe I’ve Veela blood?” I asked, confused.
She shrugged. “Sure, you may have. But all those things you said about mating for life? I don’t think I believe it, what with you doing the full monty with Susan in public.”
“Look, if you want to make fun of me, you have to think up –“
“Make fun of you? I’d never… well, I may have done that in the past, but everything’s different now.”
“And what about you and Susan flirting all throughout Charms?”
Oh. That. So that was what she’s so riled up about.
“That was merely an experiment,” I mumbled, feeling my cheeks flush. Thankfully, it was dark and she wouldn’t notice my momentary lapse of normalcy. Very un-Malfoy-like.
She cocked her head to the right and arched an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? Do tell.”
“It’s too…” How exactly do I tell her that I wanted to practise romancing her by experimenting on Bones? It was too embarrassing. “Look, it was nothing. Honestly, try reading up on Veelas, it will definitely help us work out this quasi-relationship we have.”
She pursed her lips and went on walking, pretending the conversation we had never happened.
“Argh, all right. Fine. Have it your way, I just hope your conscience can take it when you see me dead tomorrow,” I said and walked next to her in stony silence. I could feel she wanted to say more but the stubborn part of her remained silent.
So we continued on with our duties, checking every nook and cranny of every floor (and found two sixth year Gryffindors sneaking out of the Room of Requirement, hah! Twenty points from Gryffindor and Granger didn’t even disapprove) and made sure it was clear of any student.
An hour later, we walked back to a huge portrait of a fat, ugly lady who was fast asleep.
“You may go back to your dormitory now,” she informed me and motioned to the portrait. “Our duties are over.”
I sighed and leaned against the wall next to the fat lady. “I couldn’t tell you because it’s too embarrassing. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you the reason behind everything. For now, I promise never to flirt with anyone else other than you.”
Granger looked at me, not with anger anymore, more of a confused, questioning look.
“Seriously, you have to read up on Veelas. I’ll lend you a book tomorrow.”
“Good night, Malfoy,” she said and turned towards the portrait and tried to wake up the sleeping lady. “Excuse me?”
I grinned. “So you’ve forgiven me?”
“What makes you say that?”
I grinned even wider. “I feel it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Go away, I don’t want you to hear the password.”
“Not until I hear you say it: I forgive you, darling Draco.”
“Then we’ll stay here all night.”
I shrugged. “Fine with me. I hope it gets even colder later on. You know how people used to keep warm back in the olden days?”
“Oh grow up!”
I smiled brightly at her, flashing my perfect Malfoy pearly whites.
“So we’re really staying here all night?” she asked in exasperation.
“It’s really your decision; you were the one who suggested we do an all-night rendezvous. And, well, I don’t object.”
“Goodbye, Malfoy,” she said and started pushing me away.
I sighed. “Alright already, no need for manhandling here. Although… if you like it rough, you can just say so,” I told her with a wink. “But unfortunately I have to report to McGonagall bright and early tomorrow and I need some rest.”
“So go already.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” I told her with a smile. I bent over closer to her, close enough to whisper in her ear. “I think I found out how cute you are when you get jealous,” I said and quickly backed away.
“I’m wasn’t –“
“Yeah, you were!” I said and loudly rapped on the sleeping lady’s portrait banging my fist on her canvas, rousing her from her sleep.
Walking away, I could hear the lady mutter all sorts of rude things about me. Not that I cared. I could feel what Granger was feeling, and it felt damn good.
Notes: Hey, hey, hey! Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed on our previous chapter. Good to see that you still came back even after a ridiculously long hiatus. Yay.
To everyone who reviewed, Draco Malfoy rewards each one of you a big fat kiss on the lips:) Unless you happen to be a boy, Hermione Granger is too shy to kiss you but wants you to know she loves you. : ) so anyway, hope you all enjoyed this chapter.
Please review ;p -SkyeSloane
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