Chapter 3 : II
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Draco could hear the squeakiness of his chauffeur’s polished boots kissing the tar street as the squib walked to open his door. Merlin, that could give me a migraine, Draco thought as a noxious feeling arose in him to cast a silencing charm on those horrendous things.
He stepped out of the vehicle and onto the sparkling bleached pavement, looking at his surroundings with a deep repulsion. As he observed an old beggar woman pleading for money on the street corner; Draco couldn’t fathom how the muggles could live like that, he did not wish to understand their way of life anytime soon. With his trolley holding chauffer in tow, Draco walked through the doors of King’s Cross.
The train station was humming with the crowds of people that were walking around and talking about the latest and juiciest gossip of the hour. Draco went through the station at a brisk pace, not caring to hear about the silly things the muggles entertained themselves with. Not to mention, he wanted a decent compartment for himself and those he trusted for it would be dreadful of his reputation as a wealthy and highly respected Slytherin to be seen sitting with the lowly and the worthless.
It did not take him long to find the gateway to the train—a monstrously tall and very solid looking brick wall between platforms nine and ten. In his entire school career he was never forced to get to Hogwarts in this muggle tainted manner. Usually, his mother would apparate him to the station, and that was that. This was different. The thought of walking through a wall intimidated the poor seventh year. Would I get stuck in that death trap, he thought as anxiety began to trickle over him. Yes, surely I would. The wall would freeze and I would be stuck and I would die a slow and painful death before I can produce handsome heirs. And like hell that’s going to happen with Pansy.
“Is everything all right Signore Malfoy?” his chauffer asked, gazing at the young Malfoy, who in turn was looking at the barrier as if he had just seen a ghost. The chauffer had a hard time trying to conceal his delightful smile.
Draco nimbly masked his fear with his custom supercilious sneer. “Of course I am. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t be?” he drawled. The chauffeur recoiled at the icy, bone-chilling glare in those stormy grey eyes of the young man. The elder chap gulped and shook his head at his response.
“Good. After you then,” Draco gestured at the wall, a perfect guise of good hospitality. The poor fellow, barely hanging on to the young aristocrat’s luggage scrambled through the barrier without another moments hesitation. The last thing he needed was to lose his job. He could not afford to do so, even if a large part of him wanted to just drop the boy’s bags and stride out of the train station with the little dignity he still possessed. Too much was at stake for any silly errors.
On the other side of the post, Draco was determined to get past his newfound childish fear. He knew he couldn’t stand around there for long; the filthy muggles were eyeing him as if he were barmy. He didn’t like their dirty, beady eyes on him. Their gazes alone made him long for a hot shower to clean the stench that would indubitably be tattooed on his skin.
Be a man, Draco! he scolded himself. If his father were there, he would pluck up some gumption and stroll right on through with the eloquent grace a person of his status naturally had in their blood. His thoughts shriveled in shame as he pictured the situation at hand in his father’s presence. Lucius’ eyes, as chilling and as prickly as the rain on the English moors, bore into Draco’s eyelids. Eyes veiled with a misty disdain, like his son was a failure. Draco knew that his father, for all his supposedly sympathetic smiles and his other courteous manners when Draco had problems, was just that. Courteous. Courteous because he was his only child, courteous because if he were to show what he truly felt, the pureblood families would push him out of proper society. Yes, Draco knew his father thought him weak, cowardly, feminine. Not at all like a son of the Malfoys should be. With the anger that lit a warm fire in his stomach, he quickly marched through the wall, as proof to his invisible father that he could do it.
The Hogwarts Express, big and jolly with its burnished scarlet skin, roared in warning to all the schoolchildren. It would be only five more minutes before it would take off into its long journey to Hogwarts. Draco snatched his trolley from Benedict, his owl squawking from the sudden jolt.
“H-have a good school year, Signore Malfoy,” Benedict said, holding out a tentative hand.
Perplexed, Draco gave a stiff nod, clasped his free hand into the more swarthy one and without looking back, he climbed onto the train. As he walked down the aisle in search of an empty compartment, Draco wiped his hand on the side of his trousers, as if it was encrusted with dirt.
“Hermione!” two boys chorused behind her back; Hermione could recognize those voices anywhere. Hermione’s face split into a wide smile, overcome with joy. She whirled around, her bushy mane flying all about, frizzy with excitement.
“Ron! Harry!” she cried, knocking the breath out of both, as she gave them a fierce hug that proved she had strength far greater than her skinny frame seemed to showcase. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you two,” and she snaked her arms around them once more in her cobra grip.
Ron softly patted her on the back. “It’s nice to see you, Hermione, but we need to breathe too, you know.”
“Oh,” Hermione laughed as she untwined herself from her two friends. “Sorry about that.”
“Eh, it’s okay, Hermione,” Harry said, shrugging his shoulders. He tried not to exclaim in relief at being released; his shoulder throbbed.
It was then that Hermione realized how different Ron and Harry appeared. Harry’s dark hair was as unruly and shaggy as ever; he was in desperate need of a haircut. And how thin he was! Shirts that fit his lean form nicely in June now hung loosely on his body. His jeans had faded and frayed in patches. I have to remember to make him eat a good dinner tonight at the feast, and then fix those jeans for him. Goodness knows what kind of state his other things are in! Motherly rage swelled in her heart against the Dursleys for a brief instant. Now they were the sort that gave Muggles bad names.
Ron looked the same, but in ways Hermione knew not the answer to, his looks had changed nonetheless. Were his eyes bluer? No. Nor had he grown taller or tanner beneath burning Romanian suns. It puzzled Hermione, but she was sure to come up with the answer in time.
“So, did either of you get Head Boy?” the words bubbled up before Hermione could repress them back. Ron bowed his head, his cheeks reddening.
“No, I got the Prefect badge still.” Hermione could not ignore the small dip of disappointment her heart took.
“Oh,” it came out barely a whisper. “What about you, Harry?”
Harry shook his head. “Sorry, Hermione. I’m kind of glad I didn’t, people would think I only got it because of my name, or that I’m Dumbledore’s favorite.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t be half so glad if Ferret Face got it,” Ron said darkly. Hermione followed his eyes to where Draco Malfoy stood, shaking hands with his servant. It looked as if he was touching dog shit rather than a grown man’s hand. “Knowing the likes of him, he’d run and cry to Daddy to pay off Hogwarts.”
“Ron, you know that can’t be true. Not only is he so despicable for the responsibility, but would you seriously think Dumbledore would be bribed?”
“You never know with Dumbledore. He’s amazing, one of the greatest wizards of our time – but he does things different.”
“Would Dumbledore be bribed by Lucius Malfoy?” Hermione stared pointedly at Ron. “It has no logic to it.”
“Hermione’s right. What would be the reason for it – house unity? That’s a joke if I ever heard one,” Harry said.
“No, a joke would be if he was trying to ‘stir some hot love in your cauldron’. Why my Dad puts up with Celestina Warbeck so much, I’ll never know, but with Mum playing her every damn minute…she’s enough to make you go pull out a mandrake with no earmuffs.” All three broke into merry peels of laughter.
“We should find our seats,” Harry said, after drinking in gulps of breath.
When they boarded the train, the aisles were alive with the drumming of students’ footsteps, the hum of lively, excitable chatter. The slow pace of finding a compartment did not bode well for Hermione’s nerves. The clock steadily ticked past five minutes to ten minutes, and still she was not in the Heads Compartment. Perhaps she would be early, Hermione thought, but at least it would show that the title of Head Girl was rightfully hers and hers alone. She grabbed a hold of Ron’s arm. The touch of it tingled her fingers by the warmth of his skin, and the firm muscles that twitched beneath it.
“You guys go ahead and find seats, I should make my way to the Heads Compartment,” she stuck a thumb over her shoulder.
“What?” Ron asked loudly.
Two fifth year girls close by were chattering and giggling boisterously about a new make up that could take away zits and blemishes in an instant. They’re shrill, girlish laughs drowned her voice in their cacophony. Hermione repeated her words, and walked in the direction of the Heads Compartment, sliding her way through the sea of bodies.
As the doors to the compartment loomed like a beacon, Hermione noticed that somebody was lurking inside, their shadow cast onto the frosted glass by the shimmering sunlight. Curiosity overwhelmed her at the thought that the mystery of who the Head Boy was would soon be unraveled. The cold handles of the sliding doors sent sparks of excitement coursing through her veins, and with the wild pleasure of a child unwrapping an enticing gift, Hermione tore the doors open. Shock and surprise made her blink, once, then twice. Her mouth slackened in awe.
For sitting on the cushioned seat, a wide exhilarated smile spread across his face, hand pressed lovingly against a Head Boy badge on his chest, was no other than Neville Longbottom.
Author’s Note: FINALLY! After TWO years (probably the longest wait for an update in HPFF history) I finally finished the third chapter to “Wicked Children.” I feel so happy! I’m doing a happy dance! But, yeah, I am SO sorry you had to wait this long. Yes, it’s a little bit of a filler chapter, but I really do think (I hope I don’t sound cocky saying this) that in a future chapter, I will blow your minds with what I have planned. I am so excited ot get to that point! I am just so happy I finally have a THIRD chapter. That’s a first! But okay, on a serious note, please tell me what you think J Thank you guys so much for sticking with me! I don’t know when a new chapter will be posted, but it will DEFINITELY be much less than two years.
Thank you for reviewing!