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Better As A Memory by nikka
Chapter 6 : Chapter 6
 
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A/N: Hiz-zah! I was able to recover my lost chapters 5 and 6! Before you is my beloved chapter 6. For all those who have read chapter 5 before this, I plan on reposting it with the original version (perhaps I will leave some of what is there, I don't know yet). So, please re-read it when it's reposted and let me know what you think. And, all those who are reading this story a big "thank you" for your literacy and awesomeness.






A week passed without anymore interaction with Malfoy. He seemed harder to seek out than usual. It seemed to Hermione that he was deliberately avoiding her, which was a strange thing to think about. When she did happen to see him, he looked the same as he had for all year: sullen faced and guarded. She wanted desperately to talk with him again and figure him out. He was now an enigma to her, a puzzle that she must solve. There were very few things that confused Hermione Granger and she bound and determined to clarify this situation. Unfortunately for her, he was never alone anymore.

Apparently the whole incident on the platform revived Pansy’s pathetic obsession with him. She was always hanging around him and on him when she got a chance. on the rare occasion that Draco did speak , exaggerated laughs or comments could be heard across the Great Hall during meal times from Pansy. In the halls, she trailed Draco constantly trying to get his attention. It looked like she was taking extra efforts to look “attractive” to Draco, too. She added lurid flowers to her hair that flashed sliver and green as she walked or wore copious amount of bubble gum lip gloss that made class smell like a rancid sweet shop.  All of which did nothing to improve her rather doggish appearance, Hermione thought.

To Hermione’s great amusement, Draco seemed rather annoyed at all this unwanted attention. She wondered why he simply just tell Pansy off or leave when she was around, like he would have done the years before. Maybe he’s too much of a gentleman and does not want to hurt her feelings, Hermione thought. Nonsense, she answered herself, He’s still Malfoy, isn’t he? But, lately she wasn’t too sure. Thus adding to the mystery of Draco Malfoy.

All this distraction did not go unnoticed by Harry and Ron. Constantly they caught her staring this way or that, or nowhere in particular. They attempted to figure out had her so unfocused, but the only answered she ever gave was in relation to their N.E.W.Ts and that was a subject they continued to tread lightly.

Hermione needed a new plan of action. After the first attempt at getting Malfoy to talk, she almost got caught putting the map back in its hiding place. Before she entered the common room, she made sure that Harry and Ron were still out. They were, but unfortunately, Neville was in the boys’ dormitory. As much as it bothered her, she was going to have to lie to Neville to get into the room and then distract him as she put the map away. The first part proved easy. She simply told him, as she tentatively opened the door, that she was looking for Ron and Harry. He told her that they were not in there to Hermione’s feigned surprise.  She stood there for a moment, trying to think of something to say to distract him when she spied his dubious toad, Trevor, sitting dangerously close the window sill. Luck was still on her side, she thought, as she mentioned to Neville his pet’s precarious location. Neville immediately raced to the window sill to capture his manic-depressive amphibian and Hermione quickly stashed the map back into the open trunk under a few books and old socks. Neville did not seem to notice this action and Hermione hoped that Harry would not notice his map in a slightly different location.

It was a crisp and warm Sunday when Hermione decided to give up her scheming and begin her second favorite hobby: studying. The first, of course, being reading. While she was a very clever witch, she was not very sneaky and it seemed like being sneaky was the only way she was going to get Malfoy to talk to her. Resigned for the time being, she grabbed her books and parchment and headed toward the great lake. She went out alone. She tried to convince her two best mates to join her, but they decline, as usual. While a little upset that they were putting off studying yet again, she didn’t mind all that much. She always got more work done alone.

She came upon an unoccupied, old tree that was close to the water and provided some nice shade. She put down her bulging book bag and proceeded to take out her Arithmancy book and settled in. Yet, before she could settle into her book, a drawling voice came from above her.

“What are you going to do next, Granger?” Hermione looked above her startled. Sitting in the ancient boughs of the tree was Malfoy. He had a book open in his lap as he lean over to peer at her. It always surprised her when he was not in his school robes. Today’s attire was a fitted, hunter green V-neck sweater and a pair of dark denim pants.  He could have passed for a muggle on the streets of London. She wondered what his parents would think of such a getup.

“Do you plan on jumping into the Black Lake in hopes of getting attacked by the giant squid? I assure you that I am not much of a swimmer and you will have to rely on some other idiot to save your life. Twice is my limit.” He tossed his book down on the damp ground beside Hermione. He then lightly jumped down from the tree. As he kneeled down to grab for his book, Hermione grabbed his arm. He froze on the spot.

His arm was surprising muscular, Hermione thought. She had always thought him rather skinny, but in fact he was just lean. He looked at her, his pale eyebrows raised in disbelief. Needless to say, Granger touching him without violence was a new concept in his world.

“I want to talk to you, Malfoy. I owe you a proper ‘thank you’ for saving me in the forest,” Hermione said, looking deeply into his silvery eyes. His eyes were the only thing she had going for her to detect what he was feeling or thinking. He almost literally fell into her lap and she would be damned to miss this opportunity to talk to him. “I also need to know why you did it. I want to know why you protected me from Pansy, too. I want the truth.”

Draco did not move as she said this. He was staring just as intently back into her hazel eyes. It looked like his was trying to read her as well. His eyes flashed from surprise to indignation to speculation and finally to surrender.

“Fine, go ahead,” Draco muttered a touch of annoyance in his voice.

Hermione let go of his arm and he went over the trunk of the tree and stood with his back against it. He put his hands in his pockets and looked at her expectantly. Hermione did not know what to do or say. She expected him to tell her off and leave like he did before. Now that she had her wish, she did not know exactly how to proceed.

“Well? I haven’t got all day.”

She stood up as well and squared her shoulders, trying to look strong.  She was a whole head shorter then he was and significantly slighter in build. She wore in a pair of light blue jeans and a short sleeved, violet t-shirt; her hair in a ponytail. If not for the castle and giant squid in the background, they really would look like a pair of muggles in a park.

“First, thank you for saving my life. You did not have to do it. It was a very brave thing you did and I will never forget it.” She could not read his face as she said this. His head and eyes were lowered to the ground. She did notice him exhale deeply, but did not know what to make of that. She waited for him to respond. After a minute or two of silence, she continued.

“So, why did you save me? Twice.” He looked up at this. He bit his lower lip, his posture hesitant. His cheeks flushed slightly and his eyes were now apprehensive. It was clear that he did not want to continue this Q and A, but Hermione needed her answers. “Please.”

“Why is it so important for you to know, anyway?” He finally said. His voice was a little strained. “Can’t you just be thankful and move on? Why must you always know the answers?”

“I just do. It makes no sense whatsoever for you to suddenly change like this. A year ago you would have ran away and left me for dead with that chimera. A year ago you would have let Pansy hex me. But now, you did not, you protected me, a ‘mudblood.’ I just need to know why.” Hermione said this passionately. Draco looked a bit put off. In fact, after initially looking stunned, he started to look angry. Hermione could not stop now, not while she could talk plainly to him.

“Please, Malfoy, why the sudden transformation? Why have you been so withdrawn this school year? What happened to you?”

“You know what? I change my mind. I am done talking to you.” Draco began to walk away, without his book. Hermione, seeing her only chance slipping away, rushed over to Malfoy and pushed him against the tree with all her might. Her face was inches from his. She steeled her eyes, daring him to try and move.

He did not resist her. He let her do this and again stared into her eyes with a curious interest at this unexpected body contact. Suddenly both of them realized how close they were to each other. Strangely enough, it didn’t seem to bother either of them, as they would have expected it to.

“What do you want from me, Granger?” Draco said, “Do you want to get to know me? Do you want to be my ‘friend’?” He laughed as he said this. This was absurd.

“Yes.” Hermione said. The words leaving her lips before she realized what she had said. Malroy immediately stopped laughing.

“You want to be friends with me, Draco Malfoy?” His eyes were disbelieving and shrewd.

“Yes.” Hermione said with a bit more force than last time. She already said it. No turning back now. “I want to get to know you, Malfoy. Perhaps, I have misjudged you.”

She stepped away from him. She just realized for herself that she really did want to get to know Draco Malfoy. This bit of information seemed to stun him as much as it did her. There was moment were she thought that he looked relieved, even happy at this, but that moment past quickly. He mostly just looked incredulously at her. They were about two feet apart at the moment, birds could be heard chirping overhead and the wind rustled through the trees. The laughs of other students could be heard over lapping of the lake. None of these things registered with either Draco or Hermione.

“I don’t think that is such a good idea, Granger. What would all your friends think? And by friends I mean the Great Potter and his ginger-haired sidekick,” Draco said, “I don’t think they would be too keen on you hanging out with Slytherin’s favorite son.” He waved his arms across himself like a game show girl. This was a joke to him. This was ridiculous.

“I decide who I want to associate with, not Harry and Ron,” Hermione said. She looked up at him determinedly with her hand on her hips.  Draco was surprised by this. He seemed to be evaluating her. At first he looked put off, but highly amused. Then a small, knowing smirk came to his lips as he considered her words. He seemed to be considering her offer. She hadn’t seen anything resembling a smile on his face in ages, and it was a little overwhelming. Before this sudden need-to-get-to-know –Malfoy quest, this particular smirk would have gotten under her skin. Right now, it was almost attractive. It made his face practically handsome.

“Fine, let’s be ‘friends.’ This ought to be interesting, if nothing else.” There was a sudden flash of fear, in his otherwise humored expression. Hermione did not honestly know what to make of it.

“Fine. Now, as a ‘friend,’ could you please answer my questions?”

“As a ‘friend,’ could you please respect my need to finish studying in solitude? Friends don’t let other friends fail their N.E.W.Ts” Draco reached down and grabbed his book as he said this. He then bolted toward the castle. He did not turn back to look at Hermione or see if she had anything more to say.

Hermione was shocked. What just happened? she thought. Did she just become friend with her enemy of six years? This is no time to study, she thought as she quickly grabbed her things and looked around to make sure no one was staring at her. She shook her head as if trying to dispel water from her ears. She needed to think. She followed Malfoy’s lead and made her way up to the castle. What had she gotten herself into?


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