Hermione trudged into the Great Hall the morning after the Yule Ball. She couldn’t suppress a look at the Slytherin table as she passed and saw what she was looking for: Draco, his grey eyes caught hers and held them for a minute as she passed.
Harry was watching Hermione in disgust as she walked slowly, staring at the opposite end of the Hall. She sat next to him.
“Good morning, Harry,” she said lightly, helping herself to toast and jam. She looked around the table. “Where’s Ron?”
“He’s sleeping off the Yule Ball,” said Harry. “He was up late….and so were you, I’m guessing.”
Hermione dropped her toast and knife with a load clank. She turned to Harry slowly. “What did you say?”
“You know what I’m talking about, Hermione,” he said grimly. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“I saw it Hermione,” he said. “How could you? Malfoy! How could you have sex with him – he’s a Slytherin! And – and- he’s bad, Hermione! It’s – it’s Malfoy! How could you do this?”
Hermione simply stared down at the table. “I’ll do as I please…”
Harry snorted. “So, do you really like him, Hermione? Do you fancy Malfoy?”
“Shut up, Harry…”
“Or were you just looking for a quick fix?”
“Shut up, Harry,” she said again, this time in a snarl.
“And Ron! How could you do this to him? You know he fancies you – he always has!”
Hermione stood and glared down at Harry and, not for the first time, Harry felt genuinely frightened of Hermione.
“Maybe he should have acted like it, Harry!” she screamed.
People from every table turned to look at Hermione. She looked around for a moment, seeing the people staring; even teachers were looking in concern. Hermione spun around quickly, grabbing her bag, and ran out of the Great Hall. Draco stood and started to follow Hermione out of the Great Hall, but caught his friends’ attention and sat down again. He looked across the hall to Harry and understood what had happened. He gave Harry one look that, to Harry, said, I’ll kill you.
Harry stood and followed Hermione’s trail out to the corridor. She had dropped a few scrolls of parchment and a quill. Harry picked them up and walked to where Hermione had passed. Another quill sat there and Harry picked that up, too.
Ron came bounding out around the corner.
“Harry!” he yelled. “What’s wrong with Hermione?” Harry shrugged.
“I get that,” said Ron. “But what happened?”
“You should talk to her, Ron.”
“Harry – “
“Ron, just talk to Hermione.”
“Harry, I’ve tried. She just told me to shove it and kept running.”
“Where’d she go?” asked Harry.
“She’s in the girl’s bathroom. Myrtle’s loving the company,” said Ron. “She keeps talking about how Hermione’s hair is going to frizz up if she doesn’t stop crying.”
“Oh, yeah,” said Harry. “How’s Hermione taking that?”
“Last I heard, Myrtle was swooping out of the toilet complaining about bruising – she’s a ghost! How can she possibly bruise?”
“I dunno,” said Harry. “But Hermione’s pretty upset, Ron.”
“Alright,” said Ron. “I’ll talk to her later.”
“Maybe you should give her a little more time…” said Harry. “If she’s giving bruises, I dunno if that’s a wise idea.”
“Yeah,” agreed Ron. “You’re right, mate.” He looked down at the things Harry held in his hands. “Are those Hermione’s?”
“Yeah, she dropped them,” said Harry. “I’ll just leave them in the common room.”
“Right,” said Ron. “I’m going to get down to breakfast and see if there’s anything left.”
“See you in class, Ron.”
Harry turned the corner and headed towards the Fat Lady. Draco Malfoy came around the corner and blocked Harry, scowling.
“Listen, Potter – “
“I’m not interested in what you have to say, Malfoy!” said Harry. “Just stay the hell away from Hermione.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, Potter!” yelled Malfoy. “I’m not one of your little followers. I can see and talk to whomever I want!”
“Not Hermione,” Harry snarled.
“It’s not what you think with her, Potter!”
“It’s exactly what I think, Malfoy!” Harry shouted. “You’re just using her to – “
“I am not using Hermione!”
“What happened to ‘Mudblood Granger,” Malfoy? Forgotten that she’s the filth of your people?”
“She’s not filth,” Draco spat.
“She is to you, Malfoy! She’s a Mudblood to you! She’s nothing to you!” Harry stopped, breathing heavily, staring at Malfoy. “She’s just something you can use! There’s no way she’d – “
“Did you see her fighting me off, Potter?” Draco yelled. “Did you see her telling me to stop? If you did, then you’re one hell of an interpreter, Potter; I didn’t see it.”
“She wouldn’t, Malfoy. Hermione – “
“Don’t you get it, Potter?” Malfoy said, standing straight up in front of Harry. “She didn’t fight. Hermione didn’t say ‘no’...”
Harry simply stared, a small smile appearing on the corners of his pointed face. “There’s thousands of other girls in the school, Malfoy…What? Do you have a thing for Muggle-borns?”
“Shut up, Potter!”
“Or is it just Hermione, Malfoy?”
“IT IS JUST HERMIONE, POTTER!!!”
Harry’s smile disappeared, slid off of his face slowly as his eyes widened. “Stay….away from Hermione…”
“I can’t, Potter.”
“Like hell you can’t!” Harry sneered. “Look at what you’ve created! She’s miserable.”
“Only because you jumped at her throat like the bastard you are, Potter! She was happy last night, I didn’t hear her complaining. Don’t you understand? Don’t you get it? She was just as much there as I was, Potter! She’s only upset because you accused her of being a whore!” Draco spat at Harry. “You disgust me. You’re supposed to be her friend.
“Answer me this, Potter: Who’s really hurt Hermione?”
Harry gaped as Draco took the scrolls and quills from him and stormed through the portrait and into the Gryffindor common room.
“How did you do that?” Harry muttered to himself. Malfoy didn’t hear him, but he didn’t need to. Harry understood as soon as he saw Hermione standing on the opposite side of the portrait, the handle still grasped in her hand. She slipped into Malfoy’s waiting arms and closed the portrait just as swiftly as she had opened it, leaving Harry standing in the corridor, gaping.