Chapter 4 : The Second-Floor Bedroom
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Nevertheless, he tried his hardest to look as he usually did – bored, superior, with a touch of disdain. But it was difficult to do, because he was full of fear and trepidation.
To distract himself from McGonagall’s words, he looked away. His eyes fell instinctively upon Granger’s face, which looked intently toward the professor. Her eyebrows were furrowed in what could be either concentration, worry, or both. Her eyes were saturated with sadness and despair, and as he watched her, Draco felt a sharp pang of sadness himself. Something about seeing the bossy know-it-all so broken down disturbed him, and he winced inwardly as he remembered his insane attempt to “comfort” her. She probably thought now that he was using her as some sort of a toy, like a disposable thing he could play with once and then discard.
But wasn’t that the kind of thing he would do? Well, that was what he, Draco Malfoy, was certainly expected to do. Imagine if his father found out that he had actually felt a tiny fraction of genuine pity for the Mudblood…!
Shaking his head in a vain effort to clear the thoughts away, Draco’s ears perked at the sound of his own name.
“Malfoy, Potter, Weasley – Ronald, that is – and Miss Granger will all be staying in an undisclosed location that is one of the several new headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Your portkey leaves in,” she checked her wristwatch, “precisely two minutes. Be sure not to miss it, and once you arrive in your new living quarters, do NOT leave the premises. An Order member will be by shortly to ensure of your safety.
“And,” she added sharply, looking at the students severely, “I should hope that in a circumstance such as the present it is not necessary to tell you all to get along. We are watching Draco, so you needn’t worry about that, but I am quite well aware of the animosity between you students. You are strictly forbidden, under the Order’s protection, to have any sort of duel or confrontation that would jeopardize your situation.”
Potter and Weasley nodded dumbly, and Draco gave a barely perceptible but curt nod. He glanced at Granger but she seemed preoccupied, and bobbed her head quickly, darting her eyes away when she saw him looking at her.
The four of them gathered around the portkey that McGonagall had indicated – an old brass candle holder – and each placed a hand on one of its four stems. Draco avoided eye contact with the other three, but he noticed Potter and Weasley sharing a dark look. After a brief moment of the familiar pulling sensation of a portkey, he quickly released the candelabra and stepped away to gain his bearings.
They stood in the living room of a normal, if old, house. The furniture was standard, with a couch, two armchairs, and a fireplace, but after closer observation, Draco noticed that it resembled what he imagined the Gryffindor common room would look like – a cross between a library and a living room.
Weasley sank down into one of the armchairs and proceeded to stare at the fire, while Potter walked away abruptly and down the hall, into the bathroom. Draco, eager to get away from the Gryffindors he was now sharing a house with, strode down the same corridor, but went up the stairs to the second floor. There seemed to be three stories in the house, but he thought it best to stay on the second, so he walked down the hallway there until he found two bedroom doors directly across from one another. On a whim, he took the left door, and walked in, leaving it slightly ajar.
After a brief survey of the room, he took off his cloak, hanging it in a wardrobe that he filled with clothes with a swish of his wand. He began to take of his shirt, discarding it carelessly on the ground, and was reaching for a new one out of the wardrobe when he heard the door behind him creak open.
He saw a bushy head of brown hair looking over its shoulder as it closed the door. Granger didn’t glance over to him at all, and once the door was closed, she didn’t even turn around, instead standing with her forehead apparently rested against the oak. Her shoulders heaved slightly under her black school robes, and he could tell she was crying.
Suddenly Draco felt very uncomfortable. The last time he had been alone with Granger in a room while she was crying, it had not ended well. He stood awkwardly in silence for a moment before opening his mouth to speak.
“Granger.” His tone was part warning, part inquiry, but mostly served the purpose of informing her of his presence.
She whipped her head around, hair flying wildly behind her. She looked more tearstained than before, but otherwise the same. The main difference was that her eyes were filled now with shock rather than with anger as she stared at him, letting out a little gasp before flinging her hand over her mouth.
“I’ve been in here the whole time, what’s so –” he began, now a little irritated at her unnecessary amount of shock, but suddenly realized why she was staring. He had forgotten he was without a shirt, and now he was a little more than embarrassed. He glanced down at his chest, where he realized now that Granger had been staring, and winced at his own immodesty. He self-consciously grabbed a shirt at random off a hanger and yanked it on, buttoning it as fast as he could.
But this was unnecessary. By now Granger had averted her eyes and was staring at the floor. She started to turn back towards the door, but stopped briefly.
“Sorry to disturb you,” she squeaked nervously. “I – I didn’t know this room was occupied. Obviously,” she added with a little of her old self, “or I wouldn’t have come in. I’ll just, er, take the other room. You know,” she finished lamely before backing out of the door.
Draco could feel his cheeks flushed red, and stared at the spot where she had stood for a moment. He hadn’t thought things could get more awkward between him and Granger, but he had been wrong. Now things were extremely awkward, but he wasn’t sure how he would avoid seeing her since they were living together in the modestly sized house.
At least next time, he thought wryly, I’ll make sure to be fully clothed.
Thanks for reading, please review! Stay tuned for Hermione's reaction/description of shirtless Draco ;)
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