Chapter 4 : Failure and Suspicions
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“Fail my Transfiguration test,” Draco told Blaise on Monday morning while they were eating breakfast. Pansy wasn’t there as on Friday, but it wasn’t like as if either one of them cared if she was there or not.
“Are you out of your bloody mind?”
“This is ridiculous,” Blaise said. “All because of mudblood Granger you’re going to ruin your academic standing?”
“First off, since when have you ever cared about my academic standing?” Draco asked him. “Second, it’s necessary. Besides, one test won’t kill me.”
Blaise was in utter disbelief at what his dear friend had chosen to do, and as Draco walked to Advanced Transfiguration after breakfast, he too was beginning to wonder what he was thinking. Though he never showed it, Draco cared about school. Most people didn’t know that he did so well because, unlike Granger, he never bragged about it. But for those select few that did know, they mostly thought that Draco did it so his father wouldn’t kick his arse. But Draco’s father had nothing to do with it. He was just genuinely focused on excelling.
Sighing, Draco decided to get to the classroom a minute or so late like he was used to doing. If Granger wanted normalcy, he was going to give it to her. He silently slipped himself inside the room, ignoring Professor McGonagall’s knowing stare of disapproval, and sat down in his usual seat. After a quick glance around the classroom he noted with devious satisfaction that Granger was looking at him. She was probably looking for me before the class started… Draco thought and took his chances to smirk at her. Granger scowled, not even bothering to hide it, and turned her attention back to her test. Draco himself hadn’t even realized that Professor McGonagall had floated his test to him.
Just by a quick look over, Draco saw that the test was easy. He could’ve taken it with his eyes closed and still get everything right. As he took up his quill, he saw how Granger was already towards the end of the first page and ready to move onto the next. Had he been on time, he would’ve been doing the same, but it didn’t matter. He wasn’t aiming to do that well this time around anyway.
Draco held the test between his fingers. He was grinding his teeth so mercilessly that he thought he wouldn’t have any left within minutes. Taking his quill in hand, he began writing in answers that were obviously wrong. A few of them he put correct answers, but for most, he opted not to. With each question Draco was slowly dying on the inside. He didn’t know what was worse, having Granger show him up or failing a test. The last question was an essay answer, of which he decided that he would simply not do. Not doing it ensured his failure most definitely, but aside from that, Draco didn’t think that his heart could take botching another part of that exam. Once he was finished, he handed in his test and left the classroom, not realizing that he had been holding his breath from the moment he stood up from his seat until he left.
“What was I thinking?”
Draco turned to the unexpected voice, and was surprised to see Granger leaning up against the wall near the classroom door. She had finished her exam countless minutes before him and he had quite expected her to be either back in her common room or in the library. To see her standing there with her arms crossed and looking at him with mild interest let Draco know that she had been waiting for him.
“Easy test, huh..?” Hermione said in a bit of a mocking tone. Draco folded his arms like she had done, and gave her a shrug of indifference.
“I don’t know. There were a few tricky questions-”
“You’re unbelievable. You and I both know that you could’ve taken that test without even studying.”
“Well, thank you for acknowledging my academic skills.” Draco replied smugly, and Granger’s small smirk disappeared. She shook her head and gathered her things.
“I know you’re up to something.” She snarled at him. “And I’m going to figure out what it is.”
“So be it then,” He said challengingly, and watched her walk away. Draco chuckled to himself and then outright laughed. Things had taken a funny turn in such a short amount of time, and he was rather amused by it. Granger was now the one doing the chasing. Today, she had been the one to wait. And today, she had been the one to initiate conversation, something of which Draco had no intention of doing. His only tactic was to fail his Transfiguration exam and then continue on with the I-need-a-tutor idea. But now, Granger was interested. She thought that he was scheming, and of course Draco was, and yet it made him all the more tickled to know that she would never find out his true intentions.
Pansy showed up at dinner that night. It was the first time Draco had seen her in a full three days, and he was quite surprised to realize that he had missed her. She was an amusing factor in his life –almost like the female version of Blaise –someone he could count on and who’d honor any and every endeavor he pursued. Of course she didn’t exactly honor his new endeavor with Granger, but it was a bit fun to see the look of annoyance on her face, even as she sat down across from him and Blaise.
“How did you enjoy starving in your room?” Draco asked her as he took a swig of his water. Pansy cut her eyes dangerously at him and huffed.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s a simple question. The Great Hall hasn’t seen your graces since Thursday.”
“Is it too much to hope that you’ve missed me?” Pansy questioned with a hint of sarcasm and pure curiosity.
“Yes,” answered Blaise, who would’ve feared for his life if he had seen the look on her face. Luckily for him, she chose to ignore him and continue to address Draco.
“Anyway, how are things going with the mudblood? I assume you haven’t gotten anywhere near her midsection yet?”
“No,” Draco replied, and noted that Pansy had a small bit of satisfaction scribbled over her face. “But of course, if I had, you would’ve been the first person to know.”
“Of course she would’ve.” Blaise said with a snicker. “She stalks the hell out of you. Don’t you Pansy?”
“Oh, why don’t you just bite me, Blaise?”
“Believe me I would, if Draco here hadn’t done it already.”
Pansy stared at him with a mild interest, and soon after the three of them erupted in laughter that attracted the attention of a few others nearby. What made things funny for them was Blaise’s comment, for they all knew that it didn’t matter if Draco had had her once before. She’d get Blaise no matter what.
“But all jokes aside, mate. How are things with the brainy witch?” Blaise asked.
“Well, unlike Friday, things turned out quite well today.” Draco smiled. “I can actually go as far as saying that Granger’s beginning to trust me.”
At that Pansy laughed. “Really…? Well, doesn’t that make her the stupid one.”
“Speaking of the stupid one, you should ask him exactly why she’s beginning to trust him.”
Blaise of course was referring to Draco purposefully failing his Advanced Transfiguration test earlier that morning. Draco was still on edge about that, and wasn’t eagerly waiting to get the exam back. Sure, he knew what sort of grade he was going to receive, but it was one thing to fantasize about it, but another to actually see it. All the while thinking this, Blaise had been telling Pansy about his best friend’s wonderful idea.
“I can’t believe that you decided to lower your standards just so you could shag someone. Shut up, Blaise,” Pansy added, because she could see that his mouth was fixed to respond.
“Oh, I‘ve done a lot of things I didn’t want to do just to reach a goal.” Draco admitted. He shrugged his shoulders and gently looked over Pansy’s shoulder. Granger had just walked in with Potter and Weasley. No books this time around except for one, which he was assuming was the second Andres McCarthy book that came in the trilogy she was reading. As if getting a sense that he was thinking about her, Granger looked away from her friends, and glanced at the Slytherin table, catching Draco’s eye. She turned her gaze from him too slowly, allowing him to see her give a half-scowl, half-smirk.
“Besides,” Draco added with a quick lick of his lips. “It was just one test. One stupid, not-going-to-matter, Transfiguration test,”
Just one test… One stupid, not-going-to-matter Transfiguration test… That was what Draco had told his friends that Monday night at dinner, and he had meant it. Sure it had hurt as he was filling in the wrong answers, but his overall grade in the class was beyond an Outstanding, and one bad grade wasn’t going to drop him down to an Exceeds Expectations. But failing the following test however, might have done the trick.
After seeing how not paying attention to Granger the day of the first exam had prompted her to talk to him, Draco decided to further test that tactic. The next day, he went to class around his usual time, caught Granger’s gaze, smirked and went about his business. Just like the day before, she was standing outside of the classroom when he walked out. “Waiting for me?” Draco had asked, while Granger huffed and angrily replied, “No,” before stalking off. He began to take the risk of acknowledging her publicly. Not in such an obvious way in order to attract the wrong type of attention, but a subtle nod, and even gave a “Good morning,” when there was no one else in the hall. Doing this was the next best thing that he could do once he saw the side effects.
Now every time Granger entered the Great Hall, her eyes drifted over to the Slytherin table, locked with Draco’s for a moment, before attending to her friends. Each time Draco went to class and sat down, he could feel her gaze on him. It was a fantastic turn of events, and all because he had given the poor girl attention and taken it back? “Well, once you get a piece of the cake, it’s hard not to take the rest, right?” Blaise had said after Draco ranted to him one night. And it was true, Draco had decided and figured that before Granger had last all interest, he’d better start tweaking her emotions again. That is, until, he had gotten back a test he had taken two weeks after the one he had purposefully failed. The difference between these two exams though, was the fact that the second one he had no intention on failing.
Draco had to admit that he hadn’t been paying much attention in class. He was more or less focused on Granger, and trying to see if she was going to sneak a peek at him or not. Sure, he still took his notes, but less than he was used to. All the while, Professor McGonagall was building upon material that was on the last exam in preparation for the next exam, which when Draco got back, his mouth literally dropped. With a heavy chest, he had known that he wasn’t going to do that well, because he knew that he had been slightly slipping. But the last thing Draco was expecting was to outright fail. And so, after class, he went up to Professor McGonagall, who was wearing her infamous look of disapproval.
“Are you here to explain yourself, Mr. Malfoy?” She asked. Draco resisted the urge to scowl at her tone, but retained his gentlemanly manner.
“I don’t know what to say, Professor.” Draco told her. “My recent two test scores obviously show that I need a bit of help.”
“You most certainly do, especially for the next test in the upcoming two weeks.”
“Yes, I know, and that’s why I’ve decided that I’d like to have a tutor, just to help me with the next exam.”
Professor McGonagall eyed him suspiciously and out of disbelief. She had a right to do so, because who in their right mind would ever suspect Draco of wanting a tutor? But aside from the fact that he really felt like he needed one, it was the perfect opportunity to get closer to Granger.
“Alright then, Mr. Malfoy… I have several tutors for this class. Maggie Thompson, Jessica Harris, Brandon Connelly,-”
“I want Hermione Granger.” He said outright, which made her look at him even more curiously. “As you know, I’ve done terribly on the past two tests, and I’d like to have the best. I’m sure that you’d agree that she is the best.”
“…Yes, she is indeed the best. As you wish it, then,”
And so, the next night, Draco gathered only the necessary books and put them in one of the few rucksacks that he owned and was thanking Merlin that Granger’s tutoring hours were after sunset. He thought that he’d die if he saw anyone he was close with and they asked what he was doing and where he was going. Luckily for him, he managed to make it to the library without being seen and spotted Granger almost immediately. She looked studious just sitting there at the table with books and parchment surrounding her, but then again when didn’t she? With a small sigh and wanting to head back to his dormitory, Draco walked up to her and set his rucksack down on the table rather hard in order to get her attention. She looked up from what she was doing alright, and had a brow raised.
“Oh, it’s you,” Hermione said slight contempt in her voice. “I don’t have time to deal with you, Malfoy. I have a student coming that I have to tutor.”
“I know that, Granger. I’m the student.”
She stared at him with a yeah-right expression, and then shook her head along with a cross of her arms.
“No, it’s not you. Professor McGonagall told me that this student has failed her last two tests-”
“And I did,” Draco said with a small smile, though there was absolutely no reason to be in favor of two completely bombed exams. “Failed them miserably… It’s not my fault that you didn’t believe me when I said that I needed a tutor.”
“But you don’t.” Hermione replied with noticeable anger. She rose from her seat and placed her hands on the table, leaning close to him. “I don’t care what Professor McGonagall said, because I know for a fact that you don’t need a tutor. Aside from me, you’re the biggest smart arse in the class.”
“Well, well, Granger swears.”
“Not often,” She muttered, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink, but then got her fury back. “But believe me when I say that you’re definitely provoking me to. For almost three weeks I’ve been trying to figure out what your little game is, but unfortunately I haven’t quite gotten it. But don’t worry,” Hermione sneered, giving Draco’s quite the competition. “I’m persistent, and I will find out. So, until then, why don’t you tell me exactly what you’re doing here, or I’ll simply hex it out of you.”
“I already told you, Granger,” Draco said with a scowl –she was pissing him off already. “I need a tutor.”
“Because I bloody failed two tests,”
“Why I failed two tests?”
Draco’s left jaw was clenched so tight that he thought it might break. Granger was effing relentless. Right then she resembled an Auror drill sergeant, and the flicker of subtle pleasure in her eyes that she got from shoving question after question and threat after threat down his throat couldn’t be denied. She liked being in charge. Draco could see it, and here in lied the problem. He liked to be in charge as well, and having them battling it out for power was going to be an endless struggle.
“Well, Malfoy?” Hermione said. “Why did you fail your tests? And don’t you dare say it’s because you didn’t study, because you wouldn’t have needed to.”
“…I failed one on purpose.” He answered unwillingly, sensing all sort of power he had, or could’ve had, drain out of him like air from a punctured ball. Granger’s eyes grew wide, like as if he was confirming her suspicions or was just genuinely surprised.
“You failed them on purpose?”
“One… I failed one on purpose. I didn’t quite pay attention in class for the last two weeks, and on the last test I was actually quite stuck. That enough proof for you..?”
Draco watched Granger’s brow furrow. She was thinking; probably wondering whether or not to leave him high and dry. After a few passing seconds, she sat down and opened her Transfiguration book.
“I’m not an easy tutor.” Hermione told him calmly. “I’ll give reading assignments and mini exams. I’ll grade them myself and hand them off to Professor McGonagall so she can see what you’re doing. We only have two weeks until the next exam, so sit, and we can get started.”
Granger was spewing out orders like a machine, and Draco hated every minute of it. Every now and again he could see the corners of her mouth twitching, like as if she wanted to grin, but figured that it wouldn’t be an appropriate thing to do so. She’s enjoying it… He thought endlessly. She’s enjoying this power over me… But as much as he didn’t want to admit it, right now he needed Granger’s help. It didn’t matter though, no, not in the slightest, because Draco would be getting the last laugh once he wrote her name in his journal.
author's note: ah, another chapter down! i got such great reviews for the last chapter, and so i hope i receive the same for this one :)
thanks for reading, and plz leave a review!!
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