Chapter 6 : A Class Spectacle
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It was from Harry. Slightly disappointed (though she was still quite happy to hear from Harry), she read on. Harry was very excited about the work he was doing in the Ministry of Magic. Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic under the new regime, was relying heavily on Harry and Ron to help him totally revamp the Auror department. There were lots of exciting changes going on, which he told her about in detail. Hermione was impressed. Typically, Harry would write often, but she wasn’t used to getting quite so long a letter from him. He was obviously very happy with his new job. He finished up the letter by asking her lots of questions about all the changes she had written him concerning Hogwarts, and of course, asked for more news about Ginny.
Hermione folded up the letter, slipped it in the pocket of her school robe and smiled. It helped a lot to hear from Harry—it reminded her that there were plenty of people behind her; just because they weren’t with her at Hogwarts didn’t mean that they didn’t care about her.
But why hadn’t Ron written back? He wasn’t always the best letter writer—often, she would get a lot of notes about Quidditch that bored her to tears, but she always could depend on a letter from him. Many times they had set plans into motion about how to rescue Harry from the Dursleys each summer by writing each other almost constantly. Why would Harry write her back and not Ron? Maybe it’s because his letter’s going to be even longer than Harry’s, she hoped.
Ginny set a tray down next to Hermione and slid into the seat next to her. “Hey, guess what?” she asked Hermione. “I’ve been made Quidditch captain!” she blurted out before Hermione could answer.
“Ginny, that’s great! Wait’ll I tell Harry; he’ll be thrilled.” Hermione beamed at her.
Ginny blushed. “You think so?”
“I know so. I just got a letter back from him and he asked me for more details about you.”
“He did?” Ginny grinned. “And I already sent him a letter, too. So, what did my brother have to say?”
“That’s a good question. I haven’t heard from him yet.” Hermione’s brow furrowed.
“You will. Complete with a play-by-play commentary of the latest Chudley Cannons game, no doubt.”
Hermione groaned. “No doubt,” she agreed.
After lunch, Hermione headed to her next class, Transfiguration. As she entered the class, she recognized lots of familiar faces—both Patil twins were there, sitting at a table with a couple of other girls. Parvati caught her eye and waved her over. Hermione smiled back, but hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to sit at a table full of giggling gossipers. Other students started to pile into the classroom around her, and as she moved over to the side to let them pass, Malfoy’s eyes caught hers. He was sitting alone (naturally) at a table off to the side. Once again, he pulled his bookbag off of the seat next to him in a silent invitation.
Before Hermione realized what she was doing, she walked over to his table, dropped her bag on it and sat down in the seat next to him. Parvati and Padma’s eyes widened in shock and they turned to the other girls and started whispering furiously.
Merlin’s pants! Hermione thought. Why did I just do that? Now word of this will spread around the school like Fiendfyre. And this is also how I got into trouble the first time. Well, she promised herself, it won’t happen again.
It didn’t. Other than being the subject of gossip, class ran quite smoothly for Hermione. Malfoy was a good partner; they mostly worked together in silence, and good to his word, he actually did manage to (in his own words) “almost pay attention”.
As they were packing up their things, Hermione could feel the Patils’ eyes (along with several others) darting between her and Malfoy in excited confusion. She decided it would be best to get out of there as quickly as possible. However, Malfoy had other ideas. “So, Granger, what class do you have next?”
Not small talk! Not now! “Charms,” she mumbled.
“Me too. Let’s get going.” And with that, Malfoy picked up her bookbag and swung it over his free shoulder.
Hermione’s mouth fell open, along with half of the girls in the class who happened to be watching. She couldn’t have been more shocked if someone had told her that McGonagall decided to turn Hogwarts into a Muggle amusement park. She would have refused, but Malfoy was already starting to head out the door with her books. She hurried to keep up.
She caught up to him around the corner. They were now in a relatively empty hallway. “What did you do that for?” she hissed. “Now everybody thinks there’s something going on between us!”
Malfoy continued to walk down the hall. It seemed that they were taking the back way to Charms, which would be consistent with his anti-social tendencies. He was grimacing as he walked. “Those girls always drove me up the wall. I just wanted to give them something else to talk about, I guess. I got sick of hearing, ‘Ooooh, so-and-so’s going to ask me to go to Madam Puddifoot’s with him next weekend!’ ” he finished with a high-pitched, accurate imitation of Parvati’s squeal.
“Okay, fine, but do you have to always drag me down with you?” Hermione countered.
“Hey, Granger, nobody’s forcing you to sit next to me, you know.”
Hermione grimaced. It was useless to argue; he did have a point. Besides, he still had her bookbag and she wanted to make sure that she got it back.
Finally, they reached the Charms classroom. Thankfully, Ginny was in that class too so Hermione could finally sit with someone who wasn’t going to give her any more problems. Unfortunately, Parvati, along with two of her friends from Transfiguration also happened to be in that same class. Hermione turned to Malfoy. “I’d like to sit with Ginny,” she said in as dignified and as formal a manner as she could manage.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow at her. “Knock yourself out,” he said and handed her bag to her.
Hermione made a beeline to the seat next to Ginny before Malfoy decided to follow her, although she doubted that he would. Ginny turned to her, wide eyed. “What,” she emphasized, “is going on? I would have never believed you were sitting with Malfoy and letting him carry your books if I hadn’t just seen it with my own eyes!”
Obviously, the news had traveled to the Charms classroom ahead of her and Malfoy. Damn that Parvati! “I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it-right-now,” Hermione said through clenched teeth. “not-in-front-of-an-audience. Besides,” she added in a lower voice, “believe it or not, I’m just as surprised as you are.”
Ginny looked at her, nodded slowly and began to unpack her books. Relieved that Ginny was going to accept her explanation—for now—Hermione put the entire mess behind her and prepared to focus on getting some much-desired classwork done.
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