Chapter 9 : Ring Around A Heart
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Standing amidst the other Gryffindors who had just come back from their holidays with Hermione, we waited for Harry and the Weasleys as the room gradually became fuller and filled with shrieks and hugs.
Ginny parted from us as she found a couple of girls from her year, including Luna. She waved cheerily at us and moved on with Ginny.
“Kill me now.” groaned Ron from behind a few feet high stack of books.
“That's why you don't leave homework until the last minute.” reprimanded Hermione, giving him a scornful look.
I'd dragged my chair closer towards the window, which was lashed with droplets of rain. My hands were pocketed in my woolly hoodie and my hood was covering my head.
I closed my eyes to the sound of the padding droplets then opened them abruptly from a small scream from Hermione. I stayed in my seat, unable to see what had happened.
“Sofie,” I heard Hermione's voice call, “There's something here for you.” Hermione's head had re-emerged from the cover of the sofa and she was holding out a rolled up piece of parchment which had been singed, somehow.
“What is it?” I asked, confused. I sauntered towards Hermione, who was looking at the parchment funnily.
“That was pretty smart, actually.” she muttered, more to herself than anyone else.
“What is?” Ron and Harry had sat back down again, exchanging glances between themselves.
“Let me guess, from Malfoy?” muttered Ron grimly as I unrolled the parchment. Smiling to myself, the others figured it out and grumbled slightly.
“What does he want now?” Harry asked bitterly.
I looked at him, brows furrowed. “You still have problems with him?”
Harry immediately looked ashamed. A tinge of guilt hit me as I remembered that Harry and I were related, I should treat him with a bit more respect. “He just wants to see me again.”
“Doesn't it get tiring?” Ron yawned, “If it was me, I would've gotten bored long ago.”
Hermione looked at him with a scandalized expression.
“I better get going.” I said quickly as I saw Hermione's face flush and her body, swelling larger, perhaps an illusion.
I raced out of the door and panted with relief as I wouldn't have to endure Hermione's rage on Ron.
I took out my dad's wand – my wand – and tapped the piece of parchment so that it burned to ash. I wiped away the residue and trotted towards The Window.
Draco was already there when I reached it. His neck and bottom jaw was hidden behind his Slytherin scarf but his smile was apparent. He strided towards me as I came to a slow.
He wrapped his arms around my back tenderly. “I've missed you.” Draco said it in a light-hearted way, but I felt the truthfulness behind it. Releasing me, he took a step back, smile still evident.
“So, what've you been up to these holidays?” His smile changed to one of his famous smirks.
Draco slowly inclined towards me, deciding to tease him, I held his hand and avoided his kiss by dancing past him and spinning so that I was in his position and he was in mine.
I remained holding on to his hand. He pulled on my arm playfully and I succumbed to his pull. He tilted and pecked me softly multiple times on the lips. After each time, pulling back from my face to look at my eyes.
Finally, he stopped pulling away from me and instead, pushed my fringe to the side and pressed his forehead against mine. He chuckled as he planted a kiss on my forehead then placed his chin softly on my head. I wrapped my hand around his bicep just as Draco tightened the hug.
“Ooh, someone works out.” I giggled, after a while of silence. I squeezed his bicep again and the visible part of his pale face flushed pink. “What do you do? Lift your wand every night.” I giggled again, squealing as he lifted me up and placed me on the window. I kicked my legs softly against the wall of the ledge.
The rain padded softly against the enchanted invisible glass which I'd only found out about then.
He lifted himself on to the ledge and sat besides me. “Do you like your present?” He nodded towards the necklace.
“I don't get it. Why's there a ring there?” I played with the pendant, tracing around the ring and heart.
“Sirius didn't explain it to you?”
I looked at him, perplexed. “How did you -”
“Know?” He chuckled again, entangling his fingers around mine ever so softly, gazing at the bracelet which Sirius had gotten me. “It's a... family thing.”
I blinked. I'd totally forgotten that they were related!
“Hrmp.” I grunted, still a tad confused, “So what does the ring mean? I mean... I'll get it if that was an engagement ring, but Sirius?” A warm and tingling sensation ran through me as he laughed. His laughter sounded inconsiderably like Sirius'.
“A heart could break, right? With a ring around it, it means that it'll last forever. It could never break even if the heart does. Do you get me?”
I blinked again, “That was touching Draco, very, very touching.”
He laughed again, “Do you get it though?”
“Yeah... I think I do. So, because a circle has no end or beginning, the love – represented by the heart - would last forever?”
“That's a much better way to put it. So basically... it means that whoever gives you this, they want to spend the rest of their life with you.”
I was stunned at first. Letting go of the pendant I ruffled Draco's hair so that bits of it were sticking up. I never would've thought that Draco was a Death Eater.
He just sat there, gazing at me with amazing, innocent eyes. I pushed the Death Eater thought away and focused on the moment. I pulled my knees close to my chest and placed my wand in my lap.
“A new wand?” Draco inquired, looking at the wand.
I shook my head. “It's... It's my parents'.”
Draco shuddered, “Oh, it's okay if you don't want to talk about it.” I smiled gratefully at him invited him to lay his head on my lap. I straightened my legs as he placed his head gently in between them. He closed his eyes while I brushed his hair softly back down, although it was still pretty messy.
“You know what we should do?” Draco asked, eyes still closed. I began closing my eyes as well.
“Buy a house. Somewhere close to the sea so no one could find us. What do you say?”
“Reckon we have the money?” I mumbled dreamily.
“I can make some. It'll be nice, getting away from everything.” Draco's voice sounded so longing that it seemed like he was desperate for seclusion.
“We can't just run away from everything. They'll just end up catching up to us.”
Draco sighed, “It doesn't matter.”
I left it at that. I sighed too, and opened my eyes again reluctantly.
“We can't sleep here, Draco. I know how much you'd want to, but if Filch catches us...”
Draco's eyes opened as well and I realised I was gazing down at them. For a moment we sat there, blinking at each others eyes.
Only until he lifted himself up so that he was facing me and brushed his lips over mine. He pushed harder and I found myself backing against the wall. He kissed me even harder and passionately. He placed his hand around my neck. He broke the kiss and blinked again.
I leant towards his lips and kissed him again, just as passionately. He broke it again and kissed my forehead. He helped himself off the ledge before he did me.
“Good night Draco.” I uttered softly, still holding on to his fingertips as I took a few steps away from him.
He nodded and bade me goodnight.
Being the only person left at the common room and unable to fall asleep, I decided to write. I took out a spare bit of parchment and uncurled it. Dipping my quill into the ink bottle, I paused. What did Draco mean when he said it was a family thing. Yes, they were related, but I never would've guessed that the Black's believed in a thing called 'Love'.
Shaking my head lightly, I pulled the quill out of the bottle and began to write. I addressed the letter to Padfoot and wrote questions about the pendant, asking what it's got to do with the Blacks. Impotent to finish the letter, I packed up and headed towards my dorm. I decided to send the letter later the next day.
I swore loudly to myself – glancing at Hermione to check if she was awake or not - while I was getting changed. I hadn't done my potions essay and knew I was in for another night's detention.
“You don't learn your lesson.” drawled a certain professor. “Another week's detention ought to do the trick.” He'd already deducted twenty points from Gryffindor for not doing the essay.
“Sir, I didn't do it either.” said Draco, putting his hand up. Snape merely looked at Draco as though he was bored.
“That's a night's detention then.”
Even Harry was stunned. I sat back down besides Harry, slamming my books on the table hard enough so that Snape's words were drowned out.
“Sorry. Slipped.” I mumbled crankily. He continued as though he didn't hear me. He continued on and on about a potion so strong that it would remove all your senses permanently. I was aware that my eyes were struggling to stay open. The rare light of the dungeon flickered as my eyes started to droop.
“Rivers!” Snape snapped as I jerked wide awake. Pansy guffawed. “Sleeping in class, another twenty points from Gryffindor.”
I groaned as I stretched my back. Draco and I made eye-contact when Snape's back was turned and I instantly smiled.
“Rivers, stay back.” Snape drawled over the bell. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at me with unease.
“I'll meet up with you guys later.” I mumbled, placing my backpack on my back. I strode towards Snape, stopping just before his desk.
“Sit.” he said. I sat on a chair behind a a front row table.
“I have heard about yourself and young Mr. Malfoy.”
My mouth hanged open as I gawked at Snape wildly. “How – How'd you...?”
“I have my sources. You are aware, I am sure, you're parents were murdered by his father.” he said softly.
I felt a sudden chill run down my back. I expected to meet with hard eyes, but Snape's eyes were not so. They were cold; as always, but there was a trace of sympathy.
“Yeah, what are you trying to say?” I watched him suspiciously.
Snape glanced at my necklace and I shifted uncomfortably, placing my hands in my lap.
“I've known both your fathers,” again he whispered, “far, far longer than you know. I would not advise for this relationship to go on.”
I sat there, dumbstruck. “I- I'm not getting you.”
“Has it crossed your mind, that Malfoy may be using you, for the sake of the Death Eaters? For the sake of the Dark Lord?” His voice was uncommonly gentle. “I know how Lucius' mind works. This, definitely could be a plan where Lucius controls the strings.”
I understood that Snape's intention was good, but I couldn't help but feel slightly angered, annoyed.
“I've thought of that already. All I can do is trust Draco.” I muttered, dropping my gaze. Almost as if I was ashamed. “Besides, he hasn't asked me anything about the Order.”
“Lucius Malfoy is cunning, and sly.” It seemed as though Snape was trying to stop himself from spitting out the words.
“Look, Sir, I trust Draco. I don't... I don't think he'd do such a thing. You haven't heard him talk about his father.”
Snape looked at me questioningly. It felt weird, being so open with Snape, but I was certain that he was on our side.
“He despises his father, Sir.”
Snape's lips curled as he smirked.
“Sir, can I go now? I just want to get some lunch..” I trailed uncertainly.
Snape looked at the clock which displayed only fifteen minutes left until the next period.
“Yes, you're dismissed.”
With that, I picked up my bag and left the class room in a hurry. I walked quickly out of the dungeon corridor, so quickly that I bumped into Pansy.
“Rivers.” She spat, wand drew and ready. I stepped past her and started to jog. “Stupefy!” I heard Pansy shriek as I reached the end of the hallway. Anticipating this, I drew out my wand and non-verbally shouted 'Protego!”
Chuckling, I ran off knowing that Pansy's stunning spell had deflected back on to her.
I met up with Harry, Ron and Hermione who was just walking out of the Great Hall. Fred and George behind them, together again. They both nodded at me simultaneously.
I whispered furiously at the trio on the way to Transfiguration. Hermione gasped after I'd explained everything that had just happened between Snape and I.
“See, Harry! Snape is on our side!” Hermione whispered, smiling smugly.
Harry waved away the statement. “How did he find out?”
“I don't know. All he said was 'I have my sources' or something.”
“Well, him being in the Order, it won't be too hard for him to find something like that out.”
“They all, obviously don't trust him.” I said stiffly.
“Sofie, think of it from their point of view. Our point of view.” Hermione said. I glanced at her unemotionally. “Sofie, he's been confirmed a Death Eater.” She looked around for anyone eavesdropping.
“That's because he said so himself.”
“Still, he is one. That's what matters. Even if he didn't want to be. He's forced to serve Vo-Voldemort. Of course the Order should suspect him.”
I pulled a face, “Yeah, but they shouldn't be telling me to dump him. They think I'm some chick who's been put under the Imperius Curse or something. I'm not completely thick you know.”
“Who told you to dump him?” Ron blurted.
I racked my memory for someone telling me to dump him. “Uh, no one did... But they implied it!” I shot defensively as Hermione looked at me with a little smirk on her face.
Once we reached Transfiguration, not one of us said a word. We were completely immersed in the lesson as Professor McGonagall was teaching us about animagus'.
“It has almost the same concept as apparating. Apart from Destination, the two other D's remain the same. Determination and Delibration is what is needed in order to become an animagus. Although, it may take many years to master. Like apparation, where there is splinching, in transfiguration, it is much worst. If there is not enough focus, part of your body may remain human, giving you a freakish look.” explained McGonagall, and I wondered how Sirius'd look if he had human front arms and the rest dog parts. I shuddered and stiffled a giggle.
We spent the rest of the lesson trying to transform a rat into a desired animal – which would be our desired animagus form. It is not quite the same as actually transforming yourself, but it contains the same work.
“Why don't you try a racoon.” I suggested to Ron, wondering how a Racoon would look if it had Ron's features.
I'd already decided what I wanted to be.
“How's the Margay going?” mocked Harry, emphasising 'gay'.
“Shut up, Harry.” I giggled. “Margay's are cute! The big eyes and round head!” I made a squeal as I pictured a Margay in my head. I stared admiringly at my rat's eyes. I'd only managed transforming its head, eyes and ears so far.
The Margay which I had in mind would have a cinnamon colour to it and big brown spots all over. It's eyes would be round and blue, with a rather small, circular head.
Harry; who was aiming for a stag just like his father, had managed to add prongs to his rat. Hermione; who was much more further along than anyone else in the room had already transformed her's into a miniscule otter.
By the time the bell had went, only Hermione was the one to have achieved transforming her rat. We packed up and headed back towards the common room where almost all of the Gryffindor house was in.
“What's going on here?” I asked George as he stood at the back of the crowd, who were murmuring to each other. George looked extremely grim.
“I think you should go see yourself.” he muttered, taking a bite into his apple. Harry and I exchanged a look while Ron pushed a couple first years out of the way, only to be rebuked by Hermione.
When we finally got to the front, there was a gigantic notice which covered almost all the others. By the time we'd finished reading it, almost all four of us were in tears. My eyes had swelled and become puffy.
“Hagrid's... dead?” I whimpered, shaking slightly. The notice had said that they were holding a funeral... For a Rubeus Hagrid.
Hermione's couldn't answer. Neither could Harry or Ron. Hermione shook her head frantically. “He can't be. He just can't be.”
The funeral, which was on Thursday was the worst. Harry had started to cry half way through Dumbledore's speech. That caused a ripple effect and made Hermione cry, who made me cry, who made Ron cry.
Not a lot of people attended, which in a sense was a good thing. Only those who'd been close to Hagrid attended.
“His death, although most regrettable, had not been for nothing. Our dear Rubeus Hagrid had taken out several Death Eaters before... passing on.” Various people sniffed. “His life was not taken for granted. He has filled our lives with wonderful memories, he would not want us to linger on the past. So, I say, move on. Hagrid would not like people to linger on his death. Instead, embrace the fact that he is finally in peace.” Dumbledore's voice was soothing.
It was hard to think that we would never hear Hagrid's gruff voice anymore. Fang howled just as Hagrid's coffin was engulfed in an enormous fire.
It took more than a fortnight to move on and 'embrace the fact that he was in peace'.
I was coiled in one of the larger arm chairs by the warm fire. My knees were up to my chin. I felt snug for once since the death of Hagrid. Hermione was cuddled with Ron on the sofa while Harry had his head buried in his hands on the other arm chair.
“Harry, you okay?” I asked tiredly.
“Huh? Yeah, I'm just tired is all.” Harry lifted his head off of his hands and leant back on his arm chair.
Ron was already asleep in Hermione's arms while Hermione rubbed his chest fondly, watching us with owlish eyes.
“You and Ron should get to bed. Hogsmeade tomorrow.” Hermione said quietly, the rubbing of Ron's chest stopped.
“Yeah. Okay then.” Harry sighed. He got up from his arm chair and waited for Ron. Hermione poked Ron softly. Deciding not to waste her effort on pokes, she shook him, quite roughly.
Ron grunted awake. Giggling, Hermione pointed towards the stairs. Ron and Harry set off together to lay in their own cosy beds.
“Are you coming up too?” Hermione asked me, lifting herself off the sofa too.
“I'll be up later.” I mumbled, smiling at her faintly. She nodded and headed towards the stairs.
“You know, Soph,” she said, turning back to look at me, “Draco's not all that bad.”
I peered at Hermione from under my arm. “What makes you say that?"
“I saw him. At Hagrid's funeral. He was standing at the back.” she mumbled and seemed lost in the fire. Waking from her slight... lack of concentration, she waved goodnight.
I stared at the spot where Hermione was. “And you didn't tell me that before?!”
My smile broadened as I stared back into the fire. My eyelids began to fall and soon, I fell asleep at the common room.
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