Hermione sat on the long couch in the Gryffindor common room, writing her essay. For once, she couldn’t completely concentrate on what she was writing; her mind kept on returning to the scene that had happened only a short while ago. Malfoy’s face and intense gaze was, even now, boring a hole in her mind. His voice, soft and soothing, which had sounded to her in a way it never had before, was still echoing in her ears.
I hate you for what you have made out of me,
she heard him say once again. Something else was in his eyes, Hermione was certain; they had reflected everything but
hatred. She remembered that old Muggle saying her mum had taught her: The eyes are the windows to the soul. Did this apply to Draco Malfoy, too? And giving credence to her suspicions was how, after saying those words to her, he had caressed her cheek very subtly with the back of his fingers, as though afraid to hurt her. Why did he do
Hermione hid her face in her hands, frustrated; for the first time in her life she didn’t know the answer. The greatest lesson he had ever instilled in her was the tension between pride and humility. His constant insults and mocking taught her that no matter how good she was to some, to others she was nothing but a speck of dust in the vast universe. Yet had always instilled a need to become more—to prove Draco wrong; she was a speck greater than the universe because she could think.
Draco? He’ll never be Draco to me—always Malfoy
, Hermione thought, irritated at her weak minded sentimentalism.
Malfoy had walked away after that. He had not looked back as he sauntered towards the blonde, who had awaited his attentions through the row. Hermione noticed the repulsed and confused expression on the girl’s face, but Draco—no, Malfoy
—didn’t seem to care what she thought about him now.
“So, you sure you know what you have to do?” she asked, without looking at Hayden’s stricken face; her body pressed close to his, while her fingers deftly unknotted his emerald and silver necktie. The last time Naomi was this close was in his dreams, which had been utterly phantastic
“Yes,” he yipped, trying to sound calm, perhaps attempting to delude himself that Naomi’s closeness wasn’t intimidating at all. His voice still squeaked. “It’s not that I’ve never done it before.”
Once the necktie was unknotted, he watched her remove it from his neck and throw it on the washbasin behind them. Carefully, she placed her hands on his shoulders, this time looking at him with her hazel-brown eyes that reminded him of the chocolate he had loved in his childhood, when she slid back his black robe over his arms and put it on the washbasin too. Hayden felt the washbasin edge poking his bum, reminding him there was no way he could escape this situation, (not that he wanted to) and leaned back carefully to support his weight and his weakened knees. Naomi, like a magnet, closed the gap between them even more.
Hayden felt his head heating up, and it must be obvious now how cherry-red his face had grown. “Why are you blushing,” Naomi purred in a seductive voice.
“B-because you make this excruciatingly slow.” Hayden swallowed.
Her palms now pressed against his flat chest, standing on her tiptoes, yet leaning closer to his face, she said, “Thank you for doing this, Hayden.”
Then she whipped off his black vest over his head and unbuttoned his white shirt, which both landed on the puddle of clothes behind Hayden. The cold breeze in the abandoned bathroom was relieving somehow, cooling the fever he had acquired from the physical intimacy of a girl; she for whom he would sell his soul just so she would love him in return.
To mask his tenseness, he croaked, “How do you want me to do it?”
“Just like what you do with other girls."
“How do you know how I do other girls?” Hayden chuckled, earning a playful punch from Naomi, their connection instantly breaking.
“I’m talking about ‘courting’, you pervert,” she said.
“I know,” he grinned, rubbing his arm. “And why do I have to change my clothes again?”
“It’ll distract her from the fact that you’re a Slytherin,” Naomi said, matter-of-factly, handing over the long-sleeved smock that hung over her left arm.
“It compliments your pale complexion perfectly,” she said, obviously smug about her perfect choice. One corner of her lips rose and, avoiding gazing at Hayden’s chest, she added, “and, it’s my belated birthday gift to you.”
Hayden blushed and took the shirt in his hands: It was a charcoal-grey smock with cerulean epaulets, half-collar and cuffs, and, of course, cloth covered buttons to close off the cuffs and collar. The collar fell deep into the chest, and the cuffs rode deep up the forearms; the ribbon of the collar which is created by the meeting of the sea and sky would keep the dark—ever so dark—shade from washing out Hayden.
When he looked at Naomi, whose eyes were shifting from his bare stomach and chest, he furrowed a brow. “What is it?”
Feeling self-conscious, he covered his body. He was thin, yes, and his body needed a bit more of a tan, but he had no idea Naomi liked it. Blinking rapidly she said, with a tinge of crimson on her cheeks and then turning away, “I didn’t know what you were hiding underneath your clothes, Hayden.”
Hayden chuckled, “But you’ve seen me already naked, remember? When we went swimming.”
“Merlin, Hayden,” Naomi laughed. “We were seven years old. You weren’t even in puberty yet. You had pimples. And you were chubby.”
“I had big bones,” Hayden defended himself. “Besides, I was a terrible athlete. I almost failed PE in Secondary School just because I couldn’t catch or throw a ball. I was always the one that got chosen last when the captains picked their teams.” Shaking his head reminiscently, Hayden continued, “But if it came down to other subjects, surprise! They quarrelled for me. Then was I good enough.”
“You wouldn’t group up with weak people either, right?” Naomi pointed out, interrupting his self-pity speech.
“If it was my friend, then who cares if he’s good or bad at something, loyalty comes first,” Hayden declared.
“You would’ve made an ideal Hufflepuff,” Naomi said proudly, and smiled. “Why did you pick Slytherin as your disguise anyway?
“Slytherins were the first students I saw.” When a sudden breeze reminded Hayden that he was still half naked, he quickly put on his shirt. “What house were you really in, Naomi?” He tried again.
“Quit pestering me with that question!”
“I’m only curious.”
"What if I was a Slytherin,” Naomi asked hypothetically. “And if I told you I hang around with the wrong people, I did mean things to others; would you still be friends with me?”
“Not exactly new information,” Hayden sniggered.
“I’m serious,” Naomi said and rolled her eyes. “Would you trust me?”
“I told you,” Hayden reassured, placing his hands on his best friend’s shoulders as though he was talking to a small child, “loyalty is more important to me than anything else.”
Naomi tried a genuine smile, yet she couldn’t quite manage it and merely looked down on the phial she had pulled out of her pocket and a small notepad. “You remember the plan, right?” She looked at him, changing the subject.
“Were you a Slytherin, then?” Hayden insisted.
“I wish I was,” Naomi replied after a short pause, with such remorse in her voice. “I didn’t belong in Hufflepuff.”
“What do you mean, ‘you were only talking’? Ron said, flabbergasted. He had stomped inside the common room, his ears flashing red, and his face paler than Malfoy’s.
And there was Malfoy once again, Hermione thought. She wasn’t fully listening to what Ron was saying. She couldn’t concentrate on the meaning of his words.
“Yes, we were,” Hermione replied nonchalantly. “Why?”
Ron let out an audible groan. “What did he want?”
Writing the last paragraph of her essay, Hermione finally looked up at her incensed friend. “He told me how much he hated me and he asked me why I hated him. And I told him my reasons.”
“Oh, really? That just sounds ridiculous, Hermione,” Ron snorted.
“You asked me what Draco and I have talked about and I answered,” Hermione said wryly. She gathered her belongings on the table and handed Ron her essay. “Do you want to copy it?”
Ron looked from the parchment to Hermione obviously in pain over the choice of his morals or his grades, and with yet another groan from his anguished soul, he whipped the essay out of her hand. “Just because I’ve accepted it doesn’t mean we’re okay again.” He gave a small pout and skimmed the essay.
“Next time he asks you, tell him he’s a pea-brained asshole with a face like a ferret. And that’s why you hate him,” Ron mumbled, he lifted his head and looked expectantly like a puppy eying a treat. “You do hate him, don’t you?”
Her answer took too long, and Ron seemed to have noticed her hesitation. This wasn’t her at all, the one who knew the answer before the question had been asked.
Disappointed, Ron returned the essay to her. “Don’t tell me anymore,” he murmured and left the common room.
“How do I look, Ms. Corner?” Hayden asked, running a hand through his curly blond locks.
Naomi stepped beside him, looking at his reflection. She smiled, “Holdable, Mr. Malfoy.”
Scrunching his nose, he said, “Holdable
? I’m not a pet, you know.”
Naomi opened the lid of the phial of Polyjuice Potion in her hand, putting red-blond hair inside.
“How many of these potions do you have? Have you brewed them in advance or what?” Hayden inquired, wondering. “Because it takes a month to brew them, but we’ve only been here for a few weeks. So how and when did you do it?”
“Hayden, unlike you, I prepared before travelling back in time,” she explained. “Except for a second Asportation Potion for returning, but that’s only because I had no time to brew another potion. It would’ve cost me another six months.”
“Can’t you use the same Potion for back and forth?”
“No, you genius. The Asportation Potion for returning requires different ingredients, and different incantations, for which I only know the theory.” Once she had put the strand of hair in the mud-like liquid, it bubbled and turned lilac-blue. “Yummy, I love drinking this. We have to hurry up before Myrtle returns from the boys’ prefect bathroom.”
“Who the heck’s Myrtle?”
“She’s the ghost inhabiting this bathroom.” Naomi’s eyes lit up as though she had remembered something. “You know what?” she said darkly. “When I was in my first year, I hid inside this bathroom and Myrtle was there. I didn’t like her very much, but then she told me something about my mum.”
“Yes,” Naomi said, “but promise me that when I tell you, you won’t freak out.”
“Myrtle said she once surprised my mum here. I didn’t believe it at first when she told me,” Naomi said. “My mum was snogging a guy that wasn’t Michael Corner.”
“Oh. But it’s likely for Cho—I mean your mum—to have had other boyfriends in her youth,” Hayden explained. “She was—is
beautiful after all.”
Naomi furrowed her brows. “Well, would you say the same if you knew she and your dad were the ones making out then?”
“What?” Hayden exclaimed in disbelief. “My dad wasn’t attracted to your mum.”
“Myrtle said they were standing here.” Naomi nodded towards the spot where Hayden was leaning against the sink. “And they were kissing. She recognised both of them, because they came to this bathroom loads. According to Myrtle, Mum even stripped him once.”
“Please, spare the details.” Hayden held his stomach. “D’you reckon they had an affair?”
“I don’t even want to think about it. That rumour had spread in the entire school, according to Myrtle. My mum and your dad—it’s gross.” Tears welled in Naomi’s eyes. Hayden was certain Naomi was disappointed at her mother’s ugly reputation as a teenager.
“Come here,” Hayden said, pulling Naomi towards him. She was still clutching the phial in her hand tightly. Hayden took it and placed it carefully on the basin edge. She felt so small in his arms.
“My dad loved my mum since sixth year or even before that, though he’d never admitted it. How do you know it’s true? She’s just a bored spirit with nothing to do than making out stories of other people’s lives.” He hugged her, and spoke in her hair. “Is it the reason why you want me to keep her away from all the other guys, even from my father? That it’s safer if she likes me rather than any other bloke, because at least you have control over me?”
“Almost,” Naomi muffled against his shoulder. “Make sure she stays during Christmas.”
“Your wish is my command,” Hayden said, stroking her back. “I’ll try, though you should know I’ve never courted a girl on command, you know?”
“Thank you, Hayden,” she said, looking up at him. For a moment they were lost in each others’ eyes, comfortable in each other arms. Why did Naomi not see it even though it was written all over his face what he felt for her?
His eyes wandered down to her mouth. Before he knew it, their lips met gently.
To his surprise, Naomi kissed him back. And it all felt so wonderful, so right. He pulled her closer, as close as humanly possible, to feel more of her body. Naomi followed suit. Hayden definitely wasn’t dreaming this. It was better than his fantasies.
A soft giggle from somewhere had caused them to break apart. “What was that?” Hayden asked, scanning the room with his eyes.
“I guess Myrtle’s back.” She pulled away from Hayden, as though nothing had happened between them. She grabbed the bag on the ground again. “We should leave now.”
“Wait, the potion,” Hayden said and took it from the basin. “Ready?”
But Naomi didn’t move nor did she take the phial from his hand. She was staring at Hayden as though she was seeing a ghost—but not Myrtle. She dropped the bag on the ground, and clapped her forehead, “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!
” before looking up and searching for something. “Get out, Myrtle, it’s a misunderstanding!”
“What’s up with you?” Hayden asked, looking where Naomi was looking. But there was nothing.
“Hayden, it was us
she saw back then!”
“What are you talking about?”
“She didn’t see your dad and my mum,” Naomi explained, as though it was all very clear to all the universe except for Hayden. “She saw us
kissing. And she thought it were Cho and Draco.”
“Oh.” Was the only thing Hayden could say. His brain wasn’t fully functioning yet, because of the sensation lingering on his quivering lips. He tried to look unruffled, though. He said, “How was that possible?”
“She’ll spread this rumour around the school, Hayden; we have to stop her!”
“But it’s no big deal. It won’t cause any harm, right?”
“I should’ve known it.” Naomi disregarded him.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Hayden said after a moment. “It means we have travelled back in time before? Does that mean I can do what I want but, my parents will never live happily-ever-after? Geez, my head hurts.”
Naomi shook her head, looking apologetically at him. “I don’t know. I get a feeling your mum only didn’t show real interest in Draco Malfoy because she thought of him as a dizzardly heartbreaker, a player. Draco hangs around a lot with other girls, gives them hopes, breaks their hearts, and then ditches them.”
Hayden finished her speech. “And when Mum finds out he had been making out with Cho, she’ll never like him. One of their, my
parents’, heartaches and we caused it.” Hayden looked at Naomi, thinking about the kiss again, and he could see in her eyes that she understood. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay,” Naomi said, lowering her head.
“Lets stick to the previous plan: Mission: Chasing Cho Chang,” Naomi replied. “It’s got its purpose still, you know? Hermione should see you’re fancying Cho. At least everyone knows you and Draco Malfoy are completely two individuals, and it might just become a rumour about you and my mum ... Hermione won’t believe the rumours Myrtle will spread around.”
“I have a feeling there’s something else you want to tell me,” Hayden remarked, grabbing her bag and carrying it for her.
“No, that’s it actually,” Naomi said, smiling contently, and made a check in her small notepad that looked like a to-do-list. At least her plan was taking its progress, and Hayden had no choice than to follow her like the deaf man hearing directions from the blind woman.
Deciding to have a stroll outside, Hermione brought her books and school stuff to her room, changed out of her school uniform into something more comfortable and left the common room.
She would have to talk to Ron at dinner, and clear up this whole misunderstanding. Of course she hated Malfoy, but why couldn’t she answer at once? It would have convinced Ron about her hatred for the ultimate Slytherin ketch, Malfoy.
Spending some time alone, Hermione went upstairs to the seventh floor. No one would be there now; her friends were all outside down at the lake, enjoying the wonderful and warm weather.
Hermione reached the seventh floor and headed towards the Astronomy Tower; then from the corner of her eye, she noticed someone sitting on the ground, right beside the Room of Requirement, seemingly asleep.
Moving slowly forward, Hermione realised who was sitting there. Malfoy.
Cautiously, Hermione stepped closer to the motionless body.
“Malfoy?” He was staring at the ground, one arm on his knee, the other leg stretched out. His light blond hair was dishevelled, almost resembling Harry’s usual hairdo; his black vest and robe were on the ground beside him, piled beneath his wand. The upper buttons of his white shirt were open, exposing his deathly pale chest. Were the gentle rhythms of breath absent, Hermione would have thought that he was dead.
Malfoy finally looked up, but seemed to look rather through, than at her.
“Are you okay, Malfoy?” Hermione stooped down and stared into his eyes. His right sleeve was pulled up, exposing his forearm. Automatically, Hermione’s eyes wandered to his other arm, which was suspiciously hidden underneath the long sleeve.
He leaned his head against the wall behind him as small beads of sweat ran down his face. “You actually care?” he asked, his voice coarse.
“I’ll get you to the Hospital Wing, you don’t look well,” Hermione said, not paying attention to Malfoy’s protests. She pressed her palm on his cheek, feeling his hot skin. “You have a fever.”
“I’m fine.” He didn’t shake off Hermione’s hand, nor tried to push her away, but rather, put his hand on hers, keeping it on his cheek. “Will you stay a bit, please?” he asked, “I only need some fresh air.” He nodded towards the stairs to the top of the Astronomy Tower.
Hermione hesitated at first, completely unsure of what was happening, what Malfoy was doing. She retrieved her hand quickly, but gave him a weak nod.
The Dark Mark on his forearm was burning, stinging the area of spot there. Draco rubbed the reddened area gingerly while staring at the Vanishing Cabinet in front of him. He still had so much work to do.
During the nights he would sneak out and wander to the seventh floor when everyone was asleep. He would always pass the Gryffindor Tower, scan each portrait on the wall or check the walls themselves to find the entrance of their common room, remain there for a few minutes and let the feeling wash over him that Granger was there.
Draco furrowed his brows at the thought of stalking Granger, but then relaxed again when he realised that he was all by himself and those thoughts would never to be revealed to anyone. The corner of his lips twitching slightly as he wondered when these ‘strange feelings’ in him for the Muggle-born had actually started.
All the years he had been mocking, taunting and insulting her and her little friends. She was not the only Mudblood he had bullied, but Granger was the only one who had the guts to fight back. He didn’t like the feeling that he couldn’t intimidate or scare her like he did to others.
Draco had always been the centre of attention in his family; he had become used to recognition and fame in school; he had a deep rooted need for respect of some kind—whether fear or admiration—from everyone. He was used to inferior people bowing their heads when he walked past them; he was used to silly girls who kissed the very ground he walked on; he was used to enemies cowering in his wake; he was used to friends who accepted that they were tools to be disposed of when they were no longer pleasing. Yet for some reason Hermione Granger didn’t fall in any of the above categories.
He had begun to notice things about her that he had never even wanted to before. Like when he was playing pranks on her or insulting her, her eyes would blaze angrily at him, a passion brightening them with a feeling that had previously only ever entered them when she was answering a question in class, before cursing him. Her retorts were his proof that he existed, at least in her eyes—he needed this, and this was something he learned to respect about her.
Though he hated going so far as to make her cry, but sometimes when she chose to ignore his taunts—and he was not used to being ignored—he would set a higher level of insults to break her down. This was when he would realise she had feelings for him, even if it was just anger or hatred. Pathetic.
Staring at the giant cabinet in front him, Draco thought about his parents and the Dark Lord’s threat to kill them if he failed his mission, and soon everything came back flooding into his heart again. The pressure was so high that he often wasn’t able to sleep at night. He would get out of bed and stroll around the castle, mostly ending up in the Seventh Floor, not because to fix this stupid block of wood, but because he wanted to feel Granger’s presence
After a few hours of hanging around the Gryffindor Tower—pretending to himself that he was thinking about the magical cabinet, but was actually thinking about her, she for whom he would disgrace his name—he would go back to his common room and take some rest.
On other nights he would just go to the Owlery in the West Tower and send his mother a message, asking about her health. His friends must never find out about his sentimental moments when he felt worried sick for his family, or his secret longing for a certain Muggle-born during the nights. It would be far too degrading.
Draco left the Room of Hidden Things and dropped himself outside on the floor next to the door of the Room of Requirement, the rest of his clothes—vest and robe—thrown on the ground beside him.
Against his will, his thoughts drifted back to Granger again, lighting up his face with a smile. He hated smiling, but more so if the reason for it was Granger.
If an insult and derision would give him five seconds of her attention, even if it was just an angry retort, then how much would it take if he talked normally to her? If his smirks would only disgust her and make her turn away, then what would his smile cause? If her presence was the only thing he craved for, then why not trying to befriend her?
Feeling ridiculous at the thought, he shook his head and rested it on his angled knee. His sweat was dripping on his shirt. He felt muddled and exhausted, and only wanted some sleep.
How would he befriend Granger, anyway? He continued his ridiculous fantasy, just for the sake of amusing himself.
First, he had to stop being...nasty to her. Doable. Difficult, but doable.
to be proper in manner; he had to converse respectfully and be polite. This would be truly difficult; suddenly being friends with someone to whom you had been a bully for years would be difficult. She would think he wanted something or else was trying to hurt her somehow.
He had to stop scowling and frowning at her.
He had to lay down his prejudices towards her blood status.
He had to win her trust.
He had to stop telling her lies
. He ticked these off his fingers.Thus, no telling her how much he hated her
He inhaled deeply and stared down at the ground. Was he really willing to change himself completely for a girl who didn’t even seem to care about him?
He heard a soft voice calling his name, but he didn’t care who it was. When he noticed shoes stepping beside him, he finally looked up and saw the girl who had been running through his mind all the time. Granger.
He looked into her eyes. Yes, he was willing to change for her.
“Are you okay, Malfoy?” Hermione asked with a small hint of worry in her eyes, while stooping down to face him eye-to-eye.
Worry was in her voice, and Draco wondered if he had interpreted her expression correctly. “You actually care?” he whispered. His throat was dry and felt itchy.
“I’ll get you to the Hospital Wing, you don’t look well,” Hermione said. Draco mumbled some words of protest and turned his head away from her. He didn’t want her to see him like this: in his worst state, sweaty and emotionally confused and drained. He couldn’t let her know his reason; she
was his reason.
He almost startled when Granger reached out her hand to press it on his gleaming cheek. Her palm felt silky and warm but also somewhat cooling against his feverish skin. He had always imagined a Muggle-born as having dry, workman’s skin. He could never have imagined it feeling like that.
What he did next startled him more than he probably had startled her: he placed his hand on hers, absorbing the warmth it exuded.
“Will you stay a bit—please?
I only need some fresh air,” he asked, nodding towards the Astronomy Tower. Starting to be polite would be a good first step.
Granger stared back at him, hesitating for a moment. When she withdrew her hand, Draco tried hard to show that he didn’t miss the warmth of her hand. Who cares if she’d just go and leave? What would be different if she were to cold-heartedly refuse his favour? He didn’t expect anything from her.
But Granger didn’t do anything of the sort. With a nod she agreed to stay with him.
The sight from the Astronomy Tower was splendid, although Hermione hated to look down because of her slight fear of height. It was also one of her reasons why she would never ride a broom, not even for the highest score she could achieve in school would she put her bum on a broom.
Malfoy stepped from behind her, leaning his back on the railing. He let the rays of the sun shine on his face, enjoying the warmth, and inhaling deeply the fresh air. He had never looked so peaceful, almost innocent. Hermione didn’t like the feeling inside of her staring at Malfoy with hopes as though expecting a miracle.
“So,” Hermione started, hiding behind the fortress she had erected around her heart, “why did you ask me to stay with you? Because I was the next person around and you needed company?”
“I thought we could get to know each other better.” There was no sign of irony in his voice when he said this.
Blinking in confusion, Hermione replied, “You should get to the Hospital Wing, really, that’s what you need, Malfoy. There may not be enough blood left flowing to your brain right now.”
“Maybe we could start a new passage in our lives,” Malfoy said, though his expression told her more than his words. His grey eyes were reflecting the sunrays so that they resembled clear crystal, which were completely distracting that Hermione had to rustle in her hand and turn away. “I thought about maturing,” she heard him saying.
Hermione snorted. He had
gone crazy, obviously. “The boy who still plays first year pranks on me like slipping Flobberworms down my robe, or sending me hexed paper balls that combust during class; calling me names; filling my schoolbag with dung bombs; spilling cherry juice over my white shirt…” Hermione inhaled quickly, bewildered, just to continue, “who keeps on telling me every day how much he hates me and that he will always hate me—the same boy is now telling me that he wants to start a new passage in his life? You’ll stop bullying me then?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Why the change of heart? Do you expect a reward for that, Malfoy?”
“No,” Malfoy replied when she was finished, and looked at her with the utmost sincerity. “That you’re talking to me is reward enough”.
Blinking once, Hermione felt her jaw slackened slightly, and head heated up for some reasons that was beyond her. She was angry because she couldn’t explain to herself why he was acting so strangely towards her, and even angrier that it affected her so much.
He retrieved a handkerchief out of his trousers pocket and wiped it over his sweating forehead. Then ran it over his wet hair, which was sticking in all directions—looking curly—and Hermione thought he resembled Hayden so much. Except that maybe, Hayden’s hair reached to his ears and curled more naturally. And Hayden didn’t look like an unhealthy grey mouse.
When she remembered Hayden, a lever switched in her head as though a fog had just been lifted from her mind, but she didn’t understand what exactly happened. Gooseflesh spread on her lower arms, so she rubbed them, looking back at Malfoy again. “How well do you know Hayden?” she asked straight to the point, without thinking.
Malfoy looked at her with fiery sparkle in his grey eyes, he snapped, “Why? Want to get to know him better?”
“I was only wondering.” Her eyes grazed towards the lake, where the students resembled small dots on a sandy background, she felt wobbly all of a sudden, and added quickly, “He’s so concerned about you.”
Malfoy let out a snort. “Is he? He is rather concerned about you
. And it’s astonishing how much he knows about you like you’re best friends and such.” He mumbled something incoherent under his breath, which sounded like several curses. “Are you seeing him?” he asked nonchalantly. When he met Hermione’s raised eyebrow, he smirked, “I was thinking about Freckle-Frubber and his reaction when he found out you ditched him for your new suitor.”
“I didn’t ditch Ron, nor am I seeing Hayden.” Hermione noticed a twitch on Malfoy’s lips, but ignored it the next second. “What does he know about me?”
“Things, many private things, I dunno,” he said and rubbed his nose.
“I’d rather not want to know exactly why you two are talking about my private life, but to clarify,” Hermione let out an exasperated sigh, “I have never shared anything to Hayden, nor would I believe such a betrayal of my friends,” she said rubbing her arms more intensely. “Something is strange with Hayden anyway.”
A wave of guilt washed over Hermione, as she thought about the past weeks she had gotten to know Hayden a bit: he had been nice and respectful to her and her friends, who didn’t even seem to dislike him; he had protected Hermione many times from Malfoy and his gang; he had tried to cheer her up when she fought with Ron, or had been mocked by Malfoy. Even though she didn’t know Hayden very well, he still was very familiar to her.
It was just irritating how hard he was trying to get Malfoy in the good books with her, to help them both get along together, meet each other and talk to each other as much as possible. That she was now standing here with Malfoy, alone, was this a coincidence or another set plan of Hayden, or them, Hayden and Draco? And now she was wondering why Hayden did that. As though he was trying to hook them—her and Malfoy—up…
She shook her head in disbelief. What would his motive be it if were so? Maybe he wanted to stop the ridiculous fights between her and Malfoy, whom she could never imagine to date. He was too rude; moreover, he incarnated everything she detested in a guy.
She looked at Malfoy and wondered why he hadn’t tried to irritate her yet or insult her as he always did. “Are you with Hayden in this game?” she asked, stepping back.
“What are you talking about?”
“In this whole set up,” Hermione said tersely. “It’s rather strange that we are alone together—again. Don’t you think?”
Malfoy scuffed, “Granger, we are alone now because I asked you to accompany me, remember? And as the good, trusting soul that you are, you agreed. And now we are here. What are you talking about Goldy boy, Malcolm?”
“Did Hayden ever persuade you to meet me in private?”
Malfoy waited a moment before answering. “Yes, several times. He said I should and he insisted. I told you it was his idea to meet you in the library last time,” Malfoy said, rubbing his neck. “Though I haven’t seen him yet today. And I don’t actually care about that bloke.”
“It’s only very suspicious that you’re talking to me like I’m not the Mudblood you love to offend.”
Malfoy snorted and looked away. “You’re being paranoid, Granger. And if he’s scaring you, then why don’t you stay away from him?”
“That’s not the point,” Hermione remarked, and then she voiced out her thought when Malfoy seemed to be too dense to understand what she was trying to say, after all, he was, sort of, involved in this too. Hayden had a plan with her and Malfoy and she had to find out what it was. “Look, Hayden is obviously trying to hook us up.”
Malfoy turned his head at her, but seemed to be suppressing a grin. “What?”
“I know it’s crazy, and I should not accuse him. He’s been a student here since our first year, we had had classes together, but we never talked. A couple of weeks ago, I think it was in September, when school started, we have talked for the first time. It seemed like he’d known me for years. He told me about you, tried to convince me that you are, in the bottom of your heart, a nice person and I should treat you as such,” Hermione said with one breath. She didn’t wait for Malfoy to react, when she added, “He played the guilt card on me, like you’ve got a Troll in Potions because I blew up your cauldron, just to agree to meet you at the library that evening, which, as you and I both know, had only lead to a fight. And after that, Hayden kept on asking me to meet you again and talk to you.”
Malfoy’s face blanched. “I didn’t tell anyone my grade in Potions. How did he know that?”
“Don’t ask me. Hayden Malcolm obviously seems to know such things,” Hermione said by furrowing her brows. “He also told me that you’ve been stalking me, even in the nights, you’ve been lurking in the Gryffindor Tower.” When Malfoy’s face changed to crimson, Hermione added quickly, “But I didn’t believe that particular rumour of his, don’t worry. Besides, why would you do that, right?” She smiled playfully.
“No, of course not,” Malfoy mumbled and coughed a few times. His face lightened up, as he turned on her with a sudden movement. “What if we play along with Goldilocks Malcolm? I mean if he’s trying to hook us up, then for a certain reason. We have to find out what it is, and maybe we’ll get to know too why he knows so much about us.”
“We let him under the assumption that his plan is working,” Hermione contemplated aloud, rubbing her chin. “That’s not a bad idea. To clarify, we have to act like we have feelings for each other to trap him.”
Hermione heard him mumble something that sounded like, ‘that wouldn’t be that hard’ as he coughed again louder this time, “I can manage that, so trust me, Granger.”
“And you would not feel uncomfortable with me?”
“I’m curious about that bloke’s intentions, too, and I’m willing to play this game with you,” Malfoy said sincerely, smirking impishly at her which caused her heart to throb faster as their eyes locked intently, “even if it means I have to act like I really love you.”
(A/N: Please point out any flaws, grammar etc., even if it's just a sentense. :( I need to remove them. A simple review would be awesome too.) :) Thank you!