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Blinded by foreverfleur
Chapter 22 : Déjà Vu
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 7

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Dearest Readers,

First, I would like to apologize for taking nearly four months to update this story. After finals had finished at the beginning of May, I fully intended to update this story on a much more regular basis. Unfortunately, I was hit with a severe case of writer’s block and completely lost my place. I thought I had it all planned out. I knew how I wanted the characters to end up and where the story was going but something just happened I just couldn’t seem to put anything into words.

So, for the past couple of months, I have been reading and reading trying to find something to inspire me and, in all honestly, save me from this dry spell. Thankfully, after a bit of patience and a lot of frustration, my block seems to be wearing off and that is where Chapter 22: Déjà Vu comes into play.

If you were confused by the fragmented and confusing plotline of Chapter 21, I sincerely hope that this chapter sheds some light on Pansy and Ron’s plan, how it backfired and what exactly that means for the next couple of weeks in Draco and Hermione’s continued relationship.

We’ll see some new personalities—or rather older I should say— come into play as they reveal new information behind the history of the rebound-of-fate. An unconventional pairing, if I do say so myself, I hope you enjoy the new complexity as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thank you for reading this latest addition to Blinded. I really hope you like it.

Yours truly,

Chapter 22: Déjà Vu.

Her eyes narrowed, cold and dark—an unnatural frustration clouded her pristine blue irises with a thunderous veil of gray. Her face devoid of her usual, bitter cheer, she stood silently absorbing his vilifying laughter with feigned graciousness, her features hardening with fury with every additional minute she withstood his presence.

Dumbledore had mentioned the difficulties they would undoubtedly face over the next couple of weeks, but assured them that they were fully capable of handling whatever fate had in store. Eyeing her companion with agonizing disgust, she could not help but wonder if the Headmaster had purposely underestimated her self-control.

She gripped her wand firmly, re-familiarizing her moist palm with the intricate set of engravings on its otherwise smooth wooden surface. She breathed in deeply savoring the sweet flavor of the crisp autumn breeze tousling her straight blonde hair—her honorable attempts at controlling her mounting temper staying undetected by her insufferable companion.

James Potter was charming when he could control his egotistical impulses, which thankfully for Narcissa happened only once in a blue moon—an occasional phenomenon even for the wizarding world.

His disheveled black hair and gorgeous hazel eyes, mesmerizing even through his pair of black, thin-rimmed glasses, were to any other girl a “hook” of sorts—that which made him simply irresistible. Narcissa, a pureblood of “the purest” decent according to her father, had grown immune to these superficial temptations, erecting purposeful barriers to the attraction she as a woman would ordinarily feel in his presence.

Standing in the middle of the quidditch pitch, a curtain of darkness almost upon them, signaled the close of another long day in his ruthless, never-ending company; she waited for him to finish, his laughter pillaging mercilessly through her insides, somehow leaving her bare and hollow.

On any other day, she would have blamed his hazel eyes for such a breakdown of her composure, but she knew it was more than that. In her seven years as a Slytherin, she had never once let a Gryffindor affect her as he did now at this very moment. It was disorienting and she did her best to fight it.

“You really think I can’t ride this, pathetic imitation you call a broomstick,” she scathed, picking up his second-edition almost pristine-condition Cleansweep, brandishing it threateningly in the air with only one finger holding onto the smooth wooden handle.

Calling her bluff, James roared with laughter, his hazel eyes inundated with a wave of cerulean tears he didn’t even attempt to hold back. He was rolling on the ground now, much to Narcissa’s obvious dismay.

“No,” he managed, wiping a wave of tears from cresting down his flushed cheeks. “I know you can’t. You just proved you can’t even mount the ‘pathetic’ imitation, I call a broomstick,” he mocked, pointing explicitly at her scraped knees.

Feeling her chest tighten in intensifying humiliation upon fully realizing the extent of dirt lining her kneecaps, she took a minute to compose herself. So she was a bit out of practice. Yes, she may have fallen while trying to mount his broom but in all honesty—even if she had managed to stable herself—no one could ever live up to his standards, to fly as he did with such confidence and ease. She brushed the dirt from her knees and turned resolutely once more towards the figure now rolling about the floor.

She was infuriated that he felt her moment of minor—yes, minor—ineptitude constituted such a boisterous and utterly obnoxious response. But, she was not about to let a measly Gryffindor get the best of her—not now in her final year at school.

She waited for the fury to come, half expecting it to rise at any moment and exert itself in full force, taking no prisoners just as a werewolf might at the dawning of a full moon. She shuddered at the thought. No, she was stronger than her instinctive though admittedly ravenous impulses. Instead, she suppressed all traces of the deadly curses now lingering on the tip of her tongue and took a conciliatory step towards James, her fury subsiding with each pace—a new more vengeful determination rushing to take its place.

“Get up,” she said calmly, trying to salvage what dignity remained coursing through her veins. He ignored her, dismissing her request as insignificant and unworthy of his undivided attention.

It wasn’t until he felt the cold blade of her wand at the nape of his neck that he finally gained control of his laughter. “Get up,” she said more forcefully, her composure calm and confident as to not betray her act. She could feel a slight change in his breathing pattern. Though not yet anxious, his chest no longer exhaled to the relaxed rhythm of just moments before. She didn’t scare him, nor did she intimidate him—far worse, in fact. She challenged him in a way not even his partner in crime, Sirius Black, could.

She smiled a malicious smile. She could tell he didn’t like it.

“Mount the broom, Potter!” she ordered, her face austere and deadly serious.

He raised a brow playfully while trying, rather unsuccessfully, to decipher her tone. It had been two weeks since he was forced into her constant company and though he could tell when she was irritated, a majority of her facial expressions still remained a mystery to him.

“You know, you are going about this all wrong,” he joked, attempting to lighten the air with his usual, unappreciated wit. He could see the fury rising in her cheeks but pressed on. “I’m not going to fly the broom for you! That would be too easy…”

Before he had a chance to finish, Narcissa’s icy breath was at his ear—he didn’t move. “Mount the broom, or you will be sorry!”

He could feel a kind of vengeance in her words, aching to be released from the depths of her chest. Wary of her wand still too close for comfort, he obeyed wisely silencing any sarcastic comments he would ordinarily have made.

Mounting the broom with a professional ease, he slid to the middle of the handle, finding a comfortable position with one leg on either side, his fingers taking their usual grip, secure and steady. He was surprised, however, when she followed his every move—occupying the front of the broom with her beautiful yet menacing form.

She is going to prove herself after all, James thought to himself oddly impressed by her silent recovery.

She was nervous and he could tell. Trying to take her mind off her next move, he asked, “Why exactly was it necessary for me to mount the broom?”

“I want to show you that I can fly!” she said, dismissively turning her attention to more important things like the handle for one thing.

“I could have just as easily assessed your skill from the ground,” he pursued.

“Yes, but then I wouldn’t be able to go very far now would I?” she insisted.

“Huh?” his attempts at distracting her had backfired into a spurt of utter confusion.

“You didn’t listen when Dumbledore was explaining the rules of our little predicament, did you?” she was shaking her head. Typical.

“I was listening…” James defended, scowling into the darkness at her acuity.

“No, you weren’t. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have that confused expression all over your face,” she mouthed, turning to look at him in what light remained. His face was clouded in shadow but she saw enough to know she was right. “See, I can tell because your eyebrows do that funny scrunching thing,” she smiled to herself. She was surprised at how well she had come to know him in the mere two weeks they had been forced to live together. Though he was oblivious to the idiosyncrasies of her own character, she had always prided herself in her ability to understand human behavior especially its subtleties.

“For your re-information then,” she said a bit mockingly, “We can’t go more than seven feet from each other without being shocked by that thing…”

“Oh the thing… right,” James remembered, a little too excited.

“The shield of light—a force field of sorts with the same physical properties of your patronus,” she affirmed.

He was taken aback by her sudden and profuse use of academic jargon—it was disorienting enough when his professors resorted to such levels of vocabulary during school hours let alone his peers. Massaging his temples with his index fingers, he finally began to wrap his mind around the memory of Dumbledore’s initial explanation. He did indeed recall the “seven foot rule” now that he thought about it—though the thought of remaining seven feet from Narcissa Black—soon to be Narcissa Malfoy—made his head spin again and he stopped.

“Yeah, sure I remember now,” he spat, hastily changing the subject so as to avoid a migraine, “More importantly can we please get on with this flying thing? I still don’t believe you are capable of maneuvering anything five inches above the ground let alone…” but before he could finish, Narcissa had pushed off the ground, plunging them deep into the night.

“Honestly, Headmaster—that boy is the most insufferable and arrogant git to grace these grounds since James, himself. Every week he prances into my classroom—my classroom—as if it makes any difference to me that he has the entire magical community wrapped around his little finger,” Snape remarked, scrunching his face with intolerable disgust, as if an entire galleon’s worth of dung bombs had at that very moment exploded under his nostrils.

He leaned forward, hovering threateningly over the Headmaster’s desk, grinding the ends of his tendril-like fingers into the wood’s delicate carvings, to the rhythm of his impassioned tirade. Dumbledore sat back in his oversized armchair and just listened, indifferent to Snape’s habitual complaints about the poor boy.

When Harry Potter had first arrived at the school, Dumbledore had spent countless hours defending him against such unfounded slurs—only to come to the realization that even his words of commendation were of no avail in the eyes of a person so consumed by a hatred that in all honesty ran much deeper than the boy who lived.

As talented as Snape was in the Dark Arts, Dumbledore could never understand his emotional attachment to the past—why it was so difficult for him to just let go, why it was near impossible for him to come to grips with the way things had turned out, why Severus Snape—the most feared teacher in all of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—continued to cower at even the slightest recollection of his own years as a student.

No, Dumbledore found it much easier to just let the revered Potions Master exhaust his own patience for the topic before probing the week’s more pressing issues.

In between periodic grunts of “A disgrace to wizarding kind!” and “His hair alone should be grounds for expulsion!” Dumbledore stole a glimpse of the latest piece of Ministry parchment to join the large and unorganized piles of paper cluttering his desk.

Dumbledore shifted in his armchair tensing ever so slightly upon realizing that the letter was not a letter at all, but an official transcript of an article slated to be released in tomorrow’s Daily Prophet. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, had signed it of course along side a rather insincere, Thought I Might Warn You.

Reading the headline, Dumbledore just looked away in disappointment. It wasn’t what he expected, but he wasn’t surprised.

Ministry Blames Hogwarts for Wizarding Woes

Of course they would. They always did. Unlike Fudge, a cowardly leader and even lesser man who would crumble at the slightest tarnish of his reputation, Albus Dumbledore could take the heat of ministry criticism, could be the media’s villain and still remain the public hero.

Under normal circumstances, Dumbledore would cast such articles immediately to the depths of his dustbin, but Snape was showing no signs of relenting any time soon and the subheading proved particularly intriguing. He began reading again, pretending to be sympathetic to Snape’s complaints while ignoring them completely.

Ministry Blames Hogwarts for Wizarding Woes
Inter-House Rivalry Breeding Grounds for Dark Arts?

Some of the most powerful witches and wizards of our time have received their magical educations from the widely renowned Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry currently under the leadership of Albus Dumbledore. For centuries, Hogwarts has distinguished itself from its academic counterparts, as the best the wizarding world has to offer its brightest and most voracious young minds. Even now, no one doubts the school’s ability to train and harness the most gifted, up and coming talents.

Yet, it seems an objective education is not all Hogwarts has to offer our youngest generations. Sorting, a kind of hazing ritual stemming from the time of Hogwarts’ four founders themselves—Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin—seems to be a growing source of tribulation within the enchanted walls of our deeply beloved school.

From the very first meal, students are mercilessly sorted into a house—one, not necessarily of their own choosing—based upon their “compatibility” with a set of subjective criteria that, in all honesty, has been anything but consistent over the past several centuries.

Witches and Wizards of all shapes, sizes and personal character have graced the insides of each of the houses, because of no other reason than the fickle whims of the much-revered Sorting Hat, an enchanted object said to have been blessed by the four founders themselves.

Nevertheless, the physical sorting of students is not necessarily that of Ministry concern, rather the subsequent effects of such rash and arbitrary selection. The immediate loyalty students of each house are expected to have and to uphold, the implicit set of social rules and restrictions these young and susceptible minds are expected to abide by without even the slightest bit of inquiry—this is what the Ministry argues is the root of all evil, social and otherwise.

Yes, it can be argued that these houses do develop communities where students can feel safe and respected—where they can develop life long friendships, even loves—similar to that of a muggle Fraternity. But is it enough? Can we as a wizarding society be satisfied with such forms of institutionalized social homogeneity?

Hufflepuffs, for example, are chosen for their compassion and patience two qualities that in any normal circumstances would be considered a valuable asset to human character. Yet, many students outside of the Hufflepuff house remain reluctant to associate with them, regarding them as incompetent outcasts, soft in character in comparison to Gryffindors—by far the most desirable house—of which its members tend to pride themselves on their strength and bravery.

Slytherins, on the other hand, are in no need of stereotypes to keep them from associating with students outside their own house. Many Slytherin students avoid Gryffindors for no reason at all but their own, often familial, prejudices. Slytherin House’s strong historical association with the Dark Arts and Gryffindor’s to the Defense against such magic does little to ameliorate such behavior.

Though the “Sorting” system has its advantages, the inter-house rivalry that it fosters, a rivalry many carry with them even after graduation, is simply unhealthy for our society still in recovery from the traumatic experience of the first war. Need we not be reminded that the rise of he-who-must-not-be-named stemmed from a similar yet arguably more innate intolerance for difference.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the leading educator in our community needs to take a good look at the environment it is providing our students and ask itself, is its social hierarchy a breeding ground for the Dark Arts? For wizards like he-who-must-not-be-named? Is it, in fact the source of our wizarding woes? The Ministry of Magic seems to think so.

Dumbledore cast the article aside, disgust lining every inch of his fierce scowl. The Ministry had no right to turn against such social practices; most if not all of the venerated members of the Ministry, if he remembered correctly enjoyed their time at Hogwarts, in part, because of the House they had been sorted into.

He knew Fudge to be an ignorant man, but this was taking things to an entirely new level.

Besides, he, Albus Dumbledore, was fully aware of the unfortunate role Inter-House rivalry at Hogwarts played within the magical community. He didn’t need a judgmental, incompetent and obviously biased reporter reminding him of things he already knew.

He knew the consequences and he even had a plan to eliminate them. Of course, his plan at present rested in the hands of two very hormonal teenagers—but it was a plan nevertheless, however stagnant it currently appeared.

Turning from his thoughts to ensure Snape had remained unaware of his temporary detachment from their conversation, Dumbledore was pleased to hear the familiar snarl of Snape’s voice reaching what he judged to be the third of several dramatic climaxes in this week’s edition of Why Potter Stinks. A stream of footsteps coming from the corridor just outside his office struck his curiosity, however, prompting him to silence Snape, at least for the time being.

Snape spun around to stare down, rather ominously Dumbledore noted, whomever it was who had dared to interrupt his ineffectual diatribe. Seeing Pansy Parkinson, a devout member of his own house, run hurriedly towards the headmaster, hand-in-hand with an extremely pale Ron Weasley was perhaps the last intrusion he would have expected.

Pansy looked rather flushed, her usually hardened features oddly softened by an overbearing sense of concern—or was it guilt; Dumbledore couldn’t tell as she hastened her step approaching his desk in a matter of seconds.

“Uhh… Headmaster,” she began, unsure of her words. She nodded to Snape on her left in a salute of respect to her Head of House and then glanced pleadingly at Ron for what seemed like moral support. Ron, looking as if about to pass out across the stone floor of the Headmaster’s office, looked straight ahead, his eyes blank with fear and apprehension.

“Headmaster,” she began again, still trying to sort out her words.

“Spit it out, girl!” Snape spat impatiently, clearly still irritated by their unexpected intrusion, though admittedly intrigued by Pansy’s uncharacteristic incoherency.

“Yes, Professor. Well you see, Headmaster,” she beamed, trying to avoid direct eye contact with anyone in the room, “there has been a bit of a situation,” she continued vaguely, involuntarily fidgeting with her fingers. “It’s Draco and Hermione,” she finally managed.

Though attempting to remain calm at the young witch’s final words, Dumbledore could not refrain his eyes from widening in immediate and irrational fear.

“Go on, Miss Parkinson. What is it about Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger that seems to be upsetting you so?” Dumbledore probed, calmly so as to not alert her of his deep concern.

“Well, Ron and I may have… accidentally…” she broke off, finally finding the courage to look the Headmaster directly into his eyes. He could see she was scared and he knew he no longer had time for patience.

“Accidentally what?” the Headmaster encouraged, in a slightly raised voice, belying his tranquil façade.

“Accidentally sent them to another time,” she finished. “Except we didn’t because Ron here forgot to charm the rose as we had planned.”

“The Rose?” Dumbledore asked, his voice hushed and hurried. She could tell Dumbledore didn’t fully understand and immediately resigned to telling him the full extent of their devious plan to tear the new Hogwarts down from the inside out. She explained her jealousy, her pain—all of which seemed trivial in light of the present consequences and how it prompted her unlikely alliance with Ron.

Dumbledore listened to her story intently, trying to reserve judgment for the end. He couldn’t help but wonder if the Daily Prophet article had some truth to it after all. If a student like Miss Parkinson was willing to go to such dangerous lengths to keep things, as they were—divided and discordant—maybe, the Ministry’s critique of Hogwarts was not as unfounded as he had originally believed.

“So, you see—when we realized Ron had stupidly—or perhaps wisely,” she amended, “forgot to charm the rose according to our plan we rushed out to see if Draco and Hermione were still in the corridor. But, Headmaster—they were nowhere to be found; and, the rose was gone. Only this remained where they had once stood, just moments before, arguing with each other at the top of their lungs,” she explained, handing him the dilapidating petal.

He took the petal from her hand, turning it over and over gently in the palm of his hand completely lost in thought. He was no longer overwhelmed by fear, rather intrigued by Pansy’s intuitive choice for a portkey. He knew the rose was always said to have elemental properties like that of the rebound-of-fate, yet he had never fully been aware of how powerful they really were.

“Miss Parkinson,” he reflected, directing his words at both students though Ron was still in no condition to be standing let alone listening and comprehending to what he was about to say, “I don’t believe any of this is your fault,” he paused to watch her reaction. He had expected her to relax even slightly, and was surprised when the anxiety in her face seemed to heighten at the sound of his next words.

“Though I do not condone your actions to ‘take down the school from the inside out’ as you put it Miss Parkinson,” Dumbledore continued, “this is far more complicated than even I am aware. In fact, what seems to be happening to Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger is definitely not the result of ordinary human action,” he kept the petal firmly in the center of his palm weighing it as if it concealed an enormous yet visually undetectable mass. “I’m afraid when elemental magic is involved, as in the case of your friends, there is very little we can do when such occurrences take place. Where ever the rose has taken them, it’s for a reason only Draco and Hermione will be able to understand.” Dumbledore paused, more to collect his thoughts than for dramatic effect.

“Though it does seem your little plan hastened the process, I’m afraid you are off the hook, Miss Parkinson. This disappearing act of theirs was inevitable.” Dumbledore looked up from his palm to see Pansy’s face flushed of all natural color.

“But Headmaster, I still don’t understand…” Pansy began. “Where could they have gone?”

Dumbledore reflected for a moment. “Where you intended for them to go all along, Miss Parkinson.” He was sure of it now, all of the pieces fit just as they had before, when marauders roamed the halls of Hogwarts.

Pansy sported a bemused expression and this time Snape jumped in to clarify. “The Past, Miss Parkinson. They have been sent to relive the Past.”

“But why the past?” she asked, a bit more frantically trying her best to comprehend as Dumbledore seemed to.

“Because history has all the answers, Miss Parkinson,” Snape said shrewdly, not taking his eyes off Dumbeldore.

“Yes, the past,” Dumbledore affirmed. “Love, inevitable shall follow then,” he recited the third segment of the prophecy almost at an inaudible whisper. Comprehension dawning, he repeated the phrase, “Love, inevitable, shall follow then.”

The moist air chilled the nape of her neck as she flew into the night. Narcissa knew she was entirely capable of flying a broomstick—her father had spent a good many galleons on her private lessons when she was just five or six, she couldn’t remember which. Though she knew for a fact she had not enjoyed the anxiety of such heights before this night, James close behind her at her back.

She had been surprised at the broom’s ability to handle the weight of two fully grown wizards. She half-expected for the handle to eject her off the broom halfway to the sky, but the broom flew with an adept ease, hardly slowing under their combined weight.

She turned the handle slightly to the left. They had flown past the boundaries of the quidditch pitch. Glancing down at the vast expanse below her, she could tell she was coming to the edge of the Forbidden Forest and thought it best if they turn back. She had proven herself hadn’t she?

Just behind her, James had his eyes closed, no longer in fear of her incompetence; after all she had proven him wrong. No, he had closed his eyes to fully absorb the biting yet refreshing feel of the wind racing passed the sides of his cheeks, flushing them with a natural, healthy glow. He rarely flew for the pure enjoyment of flying anymore. As chaser and captain of the Gryffindor team, he just never found the time between practices and matches.

His body swayed slightly to the right as she turned the broom back towards the heart of the castle grounds. He could feel her gentle yet firm maneuvering of the broom and could tell that she had not been lying when she had said she had been trained. Having been only a bit rusty in the beginning of her ride, Narcissa had seemed to regain her confidence fairly quickly.

He had never seen a girl who could fly as she did and wondered why she hadn’t tried for the Slytherin team, though come to think of it, he probably knew the reason after all. A pureblood himself, he was fully conscious of the rules girls like her were expected to uphold—the propriety they were expected to maintain—even if it came to sacrificing something you were good at, something you may even love.

Narcissa could hear his breathing at the base of her neck and was oddly comforted by the proximity of his solid form. Never in all her years at Hogwarts had she let a Gryffindor affect her the way he was now; and, she was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.

It happened in a flash. Flying at a relatively harmless speed towards the quidditch pitch, the broom suddenly jerked with a force that rivaled even the greatest of natural turbulence. It was like they had suddenly run into an invisible force field with just enough power to stop the Cleansweep in mid-air, catapulting their bodies with full force, from the wooden handle towards the now uninviting ground.

Racing through the air, cursing gravity and the being that created it, James without thinking pulled his wand from his pocket and pointed it at Narcissa, who was screaming at the top of her lungs with little regard for the grace of her usual character.

If he hadn’t been plunging to his death at that very moment, he would have found the sight to be very amusing.

Pointing his wand with precision at her panicking form, he cried into the night, reciting with ease a spell that slowed their fall to a less threatening pace. A strong light emitted from the end of his 11-inch mahogany wand—now lifesaver—and he and Narcissa slowed in mid-air only to tumble comfortably towards the sandy center of the pitch they had been earlier in the evening.

He looked up, was surprised for the second time tonight, to see that Narcissa was bent over, not because she was deathly ill from fright, but because she was overcome with a hysterical fit of laughter. Bracing her stomach with the palm of her hand, she just couldn’t help herself from rolling about the floor.

“Why are you laughing?” he managed, a smile now creeping across his own face at the very sight of her.

She couldn’t answer. Rolling on the floor, sand mixing with her blonde hair, she could barely manage to spare a moment’s breath to look at him.

“You could say, thank you James for saving my life!” he huffed, in between spurts of his own laughter.

Instead, she fell silent. “What was that?” she asked. “You felt it right? It was like an invisible shield of some sort that just came out of no where.”

“I have no idea! It’s not like we were seven-feet from one another or anything,” he put in purposefully to prove to her he had in fact been listening earlier.

“It was weird like time had suddenly stopped long enough for the broom to throw us into the air. One second, I was completely in control and the next we were in each other’s arms plunging to our deaths.”

“Losing control—it’s an odd feeling,” he mumbled more to himself, while staring her up and down to make sure that she had in fact survived unscathed. The concern he felt for her at that instant was disorienting, he usually had some kind of control over these types of emotions.

Turning over to lie on his back, he took in a deep breath. The stars were quite a sight he had never taken the time to fully appreciated until now—now that he was sure his life was no longer in danger.

Narcissa rose to come sit next to him on the ground, looking up as if to spy furtively on what he found to be so fascinating.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked breathlessly. She was still in recovery from her case of the giggles.

“Honestly?” he challenged.

“Yeah, honestly,” she affirmed, not taking her eyes from the stars.

“I was thinking about,” but he chickened out at the last second, resigned to being a coward at least when she was in the room. Not wanting to admit how beautiful he found her to be in the twilight, he simply said, “I was thinking about how Slytherin would definitely give Gryffindor a run for the Inter-House Quidditch Cup if only they had you as their seeker.” He grinned, trying hard to hide his true thoughts.

She blushed even in the darkness. “James Potter, you are such a liar.” He couldn’t tell if she knew whether or not he was holding back or if she was genuinely surprised by his compliment. Either way, he laughed enjoying for what seemed like the first time in their two weeks together, having Narcissa Black at his side.

Just a few yards away, Hermione sat up disoriented by the sound of screaming. It was dark but not completely because she could see Draco’s face, cold and immobile right beside her.

Her legs were intertwined with his and though she tried to be careful so as not to disturb his beautiful form, she had no choice but to rather ungracefully place one arm on either side of his chest to support herself in a very awkward push-up pose.

As if on cue, Draco came to, dragging with him a haze of unconsciousness and confusion. He stared up into Hermione’s face, and she was very grateful to know that he could not see her.

He could, however, feel her sweet breath on his face and knew that she was very close. He smiled, “What are you doing?” he whispered, resorting to hushed tones, as he was unsure of their location. He, too, could hear the screaming and looked in the direction of the quidditch pitch. “What is that?” he scrunched his face in discomfort; the noise was giving him a headache.

“I don’t know!” she said while trying to look in the direction of the evident panic, still awkwardly perched overtop of Draco’s body.

Ignoring the distressed voice, he pulled her close, her arms collapsing at the surprise of his embrace. “Where are we?” he breathed seductively into her ear.

She used his obvious curiosity as an excuse to break from his grasp. “I don’t know,” she admitted, sitting up. It was strange—the screaming had stopped and something much more troubling had taken its place—it couldn’t be laughter, could it?

“One minute we were in the corridor arguing over…” and then she saw it, lying lifeless about three feet from Draco’s right foot.

“The rose,” he finished.

“And the next, we are plunged into the darkness of the night on what seems to be the outskirts of the quidditch pitch,” she remarked rather perceptively.

“It’s dark huh?” he mused. “So, now you know what its like!” He smirked so that she could tell he was just being his usual sarcastic self. She stood up, however, gesturing for him to follow.

She was leading the way towards the center of the pitch where she could make out two distinct voices. It was strange, how familiar one of them seemed to be—she shivered, it was definitely not a good familiar. She tightened her grip on Draco’s hand, leading him albeit a bit more slowly towards the source of the sound.

They could pick up on distinct pieces of the conversation now. Hermione knew that they must be close.

It was faint but definitely audible. A female voice managed, “What are you thinking about?”

Draco stopped at the sound of this, listening intently. His face had gone all rigid and pale but Hermione forced him to inch closer to the pair sitting in the direct center of the pitch—close, almost arm-in-arm.

“Honestly?” a voice responded, this one male, deep and inviting.

“Yeah, honestly,” the female voice replied. Draco stopped again. Hermione turned to him, his face was cold as ice—he seemed to be entranced by the female voice as if he found the bittersweet enunciation to be familiar.

“I was thinking about,” there was a slight pause and Hermione smiled. Maybe from personal experience but she could tell the man hesitated ever so slightly because he liked her, whoever the graceful blonde was sitting beside him. “I was thinking about how Slytherin would definitely give Gryffindor a run for the Inter-House Quidditch Cup if they had you as their seeker,” he continued, flatteringly.

Draco was completely beside himself. No longer ineffable, his eyes were wide with fury.

“Draco, are you okay?” Hermione whispered tapping his shoulder in an effort to retrieve his attention.

He said nothing until he heard the woman’s reply. “James Potter, you are such a liar.” Hermione’s head snapped to the couple sitting before her very eyes, a painful realization finally stepping from the shadows of her subconscious.

“Hermione, is that--?” Draco scathed, inaudibly.

“Your mother,” she confirmed. He made to leap in the direction of his mother’s voice wanting nothing more than to tear her from her companion; but, Hermione was too attuned to his every move. She held him back.

“Draco, we can’t. Draco, calm down!” she said as loudly as she could without risking detection. He heeded her words, still glaring menacingly in the direction of their voices. “Draco,” her voice was quivering with panic as she said his name for the third time in less than ten seconds. “I think something has gone horribly wrong.”

“Yes, my mother in the company of that James Potter,” but he choked as he said the name, coming, at last, to the same realization Hermione had made just minutes before. “James Potter?” he questioned.

“James Potter,” Hermione nodded, trying very hard not to breakdown at the mere thought of her being stuck—yes, stuck—in the past with Draco Malfoy.

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