Chapter 4 : Chapter Four
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Hermione walked quickly into the library, heading straight for the back of it where she was unlikely to be disturbed. True, people knew to look for her in the library, but there was little chance of them finding her, given her current circumstances.
Sliding into a seat, she rested her elbows on the table before her and rested her head in her hands. What had she been doing? Draco Malfoy was a disgusting example of a human being: self-centred, selfish and…and utterly gorgeous and almost friendly. She sighed heavily and squeezed her eyes shut, hoping to purge all thoughts of Draco from her thoughts.
A small giggle distracted her and she turned in her seat to see a couple stumbling through the bookshelves, their arms linked. The boy leaned down to kiss the girl, who laced her fingers around his neck and pulled him closer. Hermione coughed irritably, and the couple jerked apart, their faces comically guilty. They turned and moved off, obviously not wanting to deal with whatever ghost they thought was there. Hermione turned back to her thoughts. It was alright for them – they were visible. They could see what reactions were. They were normal.
That was it, she decided. The potion had been making her feel so alienated that it was distracting her from what was normal in her life. So it was only rational that she would be feeling a little confused and unable to deal with things that were out of the ordinary. That was all it was.
But then Draco’s pale face and intense eyes floated before her, half-smiling as his face came closer to hers, and she could have sworn that she could feel his hands on her face again. ‘’Oh for Merlin’s sake’’, she snapped, storming out of the library, determined to find something to distract her.
Draco was faring little better. Hermione had mumbled some excuse almost as soon as Slughorn had entered the classroom and had fled. He had tried to continue with making a potion, but to no avail. And anyway, without Hermione to test it on, it was useless. So he too had wandered out of the classroom, and now he was still wandering around the halls, unwilling to go back to the Slytherin Common Room but unsure of where else he was meant to go.
Random thoughts and sensations were running through his head : formulas for potions that he hadn’t tried yet, the feel of Hermione’s wrist beneath his fingers, the way the brews that they had created had smelt, the warmth of Hermione’s fingers on his chin. He hit his palm against his forehead, hoping to drive the thoughts out, but they only seemed to increase in intensity. He tipped his head back against the wall and slid down to the floor, wishing that he didn’t feel this way – it didn’t make any sense, and it certainly wasn’t a sensible way to behave.
He chided himself. Of course he wasn’t feeling anything for Granger – Granger of all people! It was just the fact that he had spent all morning in a cramped dungeon, with fumes wafting around – there were bound to be some adverse effects. And he had just happened to take out these adverse effects on the only person that was in there with him. He couldn’t even see her – so how could he have any feelings for her? He needed to find the solution for that potion and quickly, before he did something he regretted. But how? When he couldn’t even remember what order he had put the ingredients in, or what amounts he had used, it was impossible.
If only there was a way to look back at that precise moment in time…to try and watch what he had done. Draco’s head snapped upright, and he immediately pulled himself to his feet and dashed along the corridors, threw out a password and ran up the spiral staircase.
‘’Professor! Is there a pensieve in school I can use?’’
Dumbledore’s head lifted, and he looked curiously at Draco. ‘’In the cupboard to your left Mr Malfoy.’’
Draco pulled out the stone basin and lifted it. ‘’Can I…’’
‘’Take it out of the room? As long as you return it within the hour.’’ Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses.
Draco moved out of the room, and down the stairs as carefully as he could. He went straight to the Room of Requirements. ‘’I need somewhere private…I need somewhere private…I need somewhere private.’’
The door materialised and he edged his way in, placing the basin squarely on a small table. Without further ado, he lifted his wand to his temple and focused, pulling out strand after silvery strand. Once the contents of the basin were swirling, he placed his face to them, and tumbled in.
He tipped his head back in relief. He had ended up in the right memory – there was Slughorn, writing up the ingredients on the board. Draco looked at himself, seeing the pale skin and dark shadows under his eyes, and the drooping eyelids. And there was Hermione, her back straight as she gave the right answer, again and again. Draco stared at her, riveted. True, he had been dealing with an invisible Hermione for the past couple of days, but this one was far more vibrant than he had ever noticed. The smile on her face was radiant, her skin was smooth and her eyes were glittering. Draco looked at er, wondering why he hadn’t noticed that before. Shaking himself violently, he turned to look at himself. But his memory wasn’t doing anything, just staring vacantly into space. Draco walked over and positioned himself, hoping to see where his eyes had been directed. They seemed to be…focused on Hermione? Draco raised his eyebrows. Sheer coincidence – just where his eyes had been at the time. Finally, his memory self picked up a jug of water and poured it into his cauldron. Draco watched in anticipation…only to find the scene dissolving. His memory was too distorted – he hadn’t been paying enough attention for the lesson to become part of his long term memory, and he couldn’t watch it back as a result.
He moved through the rest of his memories, but found nothing useful. Sitting despondently on the floor of the Room of Requirements, he stared at the ceiling. What was he meant to tell Hermione – sorry, the chances of me ever remembering what I did to you are entirely minimal, you’d better get used to being entirely unnoticeable? He rubbed his temples. That wasn’t an option. He would just have to work harder.
Hermione drifted along the silent corridors, feeling utterly miserable. If anyone looked at this corridor, they wouldn’t know she was here. Always the quiet one, always the one who had to distinguish herself through her brains, always the one that people said ‘well, she has a certain charm’. Well now, she didn’t even have the certain charm going for her – no one was interested in getting to know a girl they couldn’t see. And she couldn’t distinguish herself in class because her teachers couldn’t see her hand going up. Hermione dashed away the now familiar hot tears and angrily told herself not to be so pathetic. She and Draco would find something, this wouldn’t be permanent. But then, to be relying on Draco to help her…surely that was like relying on a chocolate fireguard?
She heard a door bang further up the corridor, and saw Draco move out into the hallway (after returning the Pensieve). She raised her hand to wave at him, but quickly realised that was pointless. ‘’Hey…,’’ she trailed off. What should she call him? And he was already moving in the opposite direction, so she forgot trying to call him and just picked up her pace, padding after him.
Catching up with him, she put her hand on his shoulder quickly. ‘’Hey.’’
‘’Oh…hi.’’ He looked at where he imagined she was and tried to force down the guilt that rippled through him, wondering if he should tell her what he had realised. No, he decided, no need to panic her more than he had already. ‘’How are you?’’
‘’Ok.’’ Hermione racked her brains for something clever to say, but was distracted by the memory of Draco’s hand sliding up her neck and caressing her cheek. ‘’Sorry I left, it was too weird.’’
As soon as the words left her mouth, she could have screamed. Bringing up what was probably the most surreal moment in her life in conversation with Draco Malfoy – what on earth had possessed her to do that?
Draco smiled weakly. ‘’It was odd.’’
‘’Yeah.’’ Hermione bowed her head and began moving away. ‘’So tomorrow, maybe we could work on some more potions?’’
‘’That’s it? No more sparkling conversational gems?’’ Draco stood still in the corridor, asking himself what he was doing. Why didn’t he just let her walk away?
‘’Well, I haven’t really given any gems today,’’ Hermione muttered and carried on walking.
‘’All the more reason to stay and give some now.’’
‘’Why are you doing this? I refuse to believe that you feel this guilty about turning me invisible.’’ Hermione paused and looked at Draco who scratched his head.
‘’I don’t really want to go back to the common room, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go back to yours either.’’
‘’What makes you so sure?’’ Hermione raised an eyebrow.
‘’Oh come on, the Gryffindor Common Room, which will be full of Gryffindors, or half an hour spent in my amazing company. You’re the intelligent one, you know which is the better option.’’ Draco watched himself distractedly, not sure why he wanted to keep Hermione with him but knowing that it was the kind of urge that shouldn’t be denied.
Hermione fought back a smile. ‘’And I’m supposed to pick you? I’m supposed to willingly walk into the serpent’s lair?’’
‘’Live a little.’’
‘’Give me one good reason. One that doesn’t involve insulting my house.’’ Hermione crossed her arms and looked at him, willing him to give her a good reason.
A thousand reasons ran through Draco’s mind – ‘because I’m gorgeous…because it’s an honour for you…because you’re more intelligent than Crabbe and Goyle’, which made it all the more shocking that what came out of his mouth was ‘’I want to know who I’m talking to beyond a patch of air.’’
Hermione looked at him. ‘’That was smooth.’’
‘’It’s a gift. You in or not?’’
Hermione sighed. ‘’Ok. But only because I’m bored and Harry and Ron will be talking about Quidditch.’’
‘’Well, stop thinking about the Wonder Twins and let’s go.’’
‘’Lead the way, I’m following you.’’ Hermione looked at him.
‘’Now, that is pointless, because for all I know, you’ll have buggered off. Come stand next to me.’’ Draco waited until he could smell Hermione’s perfume, and then slung an arm around her shoulders. ‘’Now you aren’t going anywhere.’’
Hermione sighed, but was unable to stop a small smile. ‘’Have you any idea how weird you must look?’’
‘’Some things are worth it. And our conversation will be one of those things.’’ Draco squeezed slightly tighter and set off down the corridor, all feelings of guilt forgotten.
AN: I’m so so so sorry about the delay. I have been busy, but as well, I found this quite a difficult chapter to write, because they kept sounding over rehearsed and stupid and grrr. But it’s written now, and I know exactly what is going to be happening in the next chapter (where we will pick up with their conversation and the aftermath…yes, romance is in store), so that should be up pretty quickly. Please review, I do like to feel loved…Petitesorciere xxx
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