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Chapter 7 : A Well Deserved Victory and An Unexpected Surprise
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Hermione was glaring angrily at both her Professor and the boys beside her - Oliver was doing his utmost to make her feel uncomfortable, while Harry, Ron, Seamus and Dean were sniggering into their hands. Draco stood beside them, his arms folded comfortably over the top of his broomstick - he was smirking.
Hermione had the insane urge to stick her tongue out at him - but realised it would do more damage than good. She watched Oliver menacingly, knowing what he was going to say, and dreading it too.
He suddenly clicked his fingers and exclaimed. Hermione scowled.
"So simple. Well, Hermione, I have reached my decision - you have to race someone. Right now, in front of everyone."
Hermione's scowl deepened and she growled a little under her breath - stupid, bloody Wood. Well, the next time she saw him, she would tell him exactly where to shove his broom; and his ridiculous class along with it. He was so insufferable, it was almost nauseating to look at him right now. And he was smirking so evilly, he could've passed as Malfoy.
Hermione found her voice, but it didn't come out the way she wanted it. She wanted to prove she was calm and that she would show him up any day, just to wipe that stupid grin off of his ugly face.
"Will you pick or shall I?"
She sounded like a ventriloquist - which gained even more rounds of laughter from her classmates - but she ignored them.
"You may pick if you wish - however, it has to be a guy. You aren't getting off that easy."
Hermione's eyes widened and then suddenly became like slits. Fine, if that's the way he wanted to play it, he would regret he ever asked her to participate in this class. Then, she was hit with the most fantastic plan, in the whole history of fantastic plans - she would beat him at his own game, and humiliate him in front of everyone. She mirrored his smirk.
"Fine, sir. I also have made my decision. I want to race you."
Oliver almost hit the deck at her words. Everyone simultaneously burst with glee: the girls were looking at her as if she were mental. The only one who didn't look shocked was Malfoy - in fact, he was looking at her almost admiringly. She turned to face Oliver again.
"So, do you accept. Or will you drop out, because you're a teacher."
She locked eyes with him and never backed down - she knew he was so arrogant that he would never risk ruining his reputation. And just as he was about to answer, Malfoy butted in.
"Sir, I'm sure that Granger here believes she's doing something daring and heroic by challenging a Professor - but consider how humiliated she will feel after you've won. I for one don't want to witness the embarassing sight of a silly girl crying because she has about as much experience in flying as a slug does."
If looks could kill, Malfoy would've been stone cold dead by now - however, he was as arrogant as their teacher was, and he didn't even flinch at her petrifying gaze. Oliver was contemplating Malfoy's words slowly.
"I understand where you're coming from Malfoy, and I too would not like to see Hermione upset ... however, I pride myself on being a Gryffindor. And we never shy away from a challenge."
Harry, Ron, Seamus and Dean broke into applause, as did the rest of the class when they realised that Oliver was accepting Hermione's offer. He climbed onto his broomstick with ease and grace, while Hermione smirked and climbed onto hers immediately - though with less finesse.
Malfoy was leering, and he watched Hermione intently as he tried to watch her fly off into the air - he had no idea how she was going to beat a world-class Quidditch player, much less without doing herself some serious damage.
He noticed Hermione flick her hand slightly and he felt something rush past him. But when he looked at her again, she was gripping her broomstick so tightly that she would probably snap it in two. Oliver, as usual, was laughing at her, as he sat upon his custom-made Cleansweep, and looked perfectly at ease.
Hermione was smirking inside, wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible, just so she could see his face when she won. She wanted to smack him off his broom so badly - he was sitting as if on a throne. She glared, and tightened her hold on her broomstick. He was going to pay.
"Okay, Hermione, whenever you're ready." He looked extremely smug.
Hermione smiled sweetly at him. "Oh, I'm ready, Professor." She turned to face in front of her, not wanting to get distracted at all.
"Right. Twice around the pitch, first one back wins. On my whistle."
He slipped his silver whistle into his mouth and rested his hands on his broom. Everyone below them was cheering and whistling and Harry and Ron were catcalling. It couldn't have been more uncomfortable for Hermione, but she focused - it would be worth it in the end.
Suddenly, Oliver blew his whistle and sped off at once, whilst Hermione took her time and flied at her own pace - not just because of what was going to happen next, but also because she couldn't fly for toffee. The girls below were shouting at her to hurry up, but Hermione ignored them. Any second now ...
And from nowhere, Oliver's broom stopped in mid-air, causing him to fly forwards, but he still maintained his grip. Hermione was catching up fast and he never even bothered to look back, but instead drove himself even harder than before - but something was wrong, and he was slowing down.
Hermione smiled wickedly, but he failed to notice this as she passed him in a blur. She was trying to make it look as if she was finding this easy - but inside, Hermione was desperately trying not to scream.
She was past the first lap, and Oliver had finally managed to recover himself and carry on. He was gaining on her fast, and she began to panic slightly, thinking her plan was going to fail ...
But she was saved, as for a second time, Oliver's broomstick bucked, and he only just managed to save himself from falling. Hermione slowed slightly, just so she could enjoy watching him stare at his Cleansweep in confusion. She then sped on, with a burst of speed. She was nearly there.
And once again, Oliver restarted his broom and, like the wind, raced up behind Hermione, who was nearing the finish line. He was pushing everything he had into this, not even thinking of the possibilty - but he was too late. Hermione had reached the end.
Everyone stared at her as she landed on the ground, feeling out of breath, but grinning nonetheless. Harry and the other boys were catching flies with their exaggerated jaw dropping and the girls were staring at her madly. Hermione smiled.
And Oliver just then touched down behind her, shocked and stunned - he was looking at his broom with wonder, almost with tears in his eyes. He looked at Hermione and the others, stuttering words that no one could decipher.
"Well, I hope you're satisfied." Hermione said, her arms folded. The bell rung in the distance, signalling the end of class. Hermione picked up her broom and stood, marvelling in the silence around her.
Malfoy was glaring slightly, but she could tell he was impressed with her. She was satisfied and she turned back to her teacher, who was looking confused and sad now. She patted his arm and sighed dramatically.
"Oh, well ... better luck next time, Professor. I guess Cleansweeps aren't as reliable as you thought they were. Good afternoon."
And with those parting words, she sauntered away, failing to hide the massive beam on her face. Oliver spluttered as the rest of the class came to their senses and began to walk away behind Hermione.
He had never been so humiliated in his entire life.
Cormac McLaggen was sitting in his office, huffing from boredom. He didn't have any classes until fifth period and he had been sulking in his room for the past hour and a half. Didn't the teachers understand he had to be in constant activity in order to be happy? Obviously they didn't understand a thing about him.
He rose from his chair and went to look out the window. His room had the perfect view of the Quidditch pitch, which was lucky, as he could watch all the training sessions without having to step outside. And he noticed that Wood had a class with him just now, so he turned his head slightly in order to get a better look.
It seemed that they were all standing in a huddle, while two people stood outside it. There didn't seem to be much action, and Cormac nearly turned from the window - when he noticed one girl who was enough to hold his attention for a lifetime. He gasped.
It was Hermione,and she was looking so ... radiant. She had a large grin on her face, and was facing Wood - he was looking surprisingly forlorn. The bell rung, distracting him for a second, however when it finished, he returned to watching Hermione. She walked over to Wood and patted his arm with a smile on her face -
Cormac, in a rage, bashed his head loudly against the window. Wincing and yet angrier than before, he stared as Hermione left the pitch, dropped her broomstick into the cupboard and then grabbed her bag. She looked incredibly happy about something, and as she came towards the front door, Cormac rushed from his room, slamming the door behind him in a flash.
Hermione came into the Entrance Hall, content with what had happened only a minute ago. She had not only shown up Oliver in front of the entire class - but she had also wiped the smirk from old Malfoy's face, which in itself was an amazing achievement. She skipped up the stairs to the main corridor, not noticing where she was going.
Then, suddenly, someone stepped out in front of her, and she swerved to miss them - but to her own cost. She felt herself falling, when a hand suddenly grabbed hers and pulled her up towards them. She gasped and held onto this person, feeling extremely embarassed.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't realise that -"
It was McLaggen, and he looked very, very comfortable. Hermione squirmed from his grip and straightened herself out. He just stared at her with a smirk on his face. She cleared her throat awkwardly.
"Well, well, Hermione, lucky I was here to catch you, eh? You should be thankful that I don't mind saving the lives of beautiful women."
Hermione glared at him and replied scathingly.
"If you hadn't jumped out in front of me, I wouldn't have needed catching, would I?"
He smirked even more broadly, showing every one of his pearly white teeth. She cringed slightly.
"Well, don't you think that thanks are in order, my dear? I will accept an apology from you - or more if you're willing to give it."
He winked and grabbed Hermione's hand, pulling her to him, causing her to stumble and fall into his arms. He was almost beside himself with glee. Hermione tried to break free, but he only held on tighter.
Hermione was starting to get angry, when she remembered something.
"Don't you think it's a little inappropriate to flirt with one of yours students, Professor?"
Cormac stiffened a little, but made no effort to release Hermione from his grip - he was enjoying it immensely and had no desire whatsoever to let her get away.
"Thankfully, you are not one of my students. Technically, you shoudn't even be a student - you're 19, are you not? An adult. I'm only one year older than you, Hermione."
He pulled her even closer, making Hermione rather frightened. But he could not control himself when he was around her - she was like one of those manipulative girls you see in the movies, who drive guys mad with their charm and appeal - and he was certainly mad about her. Hermione squirmed once more, but with less effort as she knew it was no use.
He felt his heart pace quicken as she looked at him, and his breath caught in his throat as she smiled.
However, Hermione had a plan of her own. If he wanted a piece of her, that was exactly what he was going to get - and she would make sure he would never forget it.
"Oh, Cormac," she sighed, pretending to tremble slightly in his arms and she raised a hand to caress his face, "If you only knew what I was thinking ..."
Cormac nearly hit the roof when she touched his face, and he closed his eyes, feeling a frantic stir of emotions inside his heart - he wanted her, so, so badly ...
He opened them once more and realised she was practically nose-to-nose with him - and he himself trembled as she was closing the gap between them, slipping her arms around his neck softly, fluttering her lashes and gazing at him intently.
He was going to die, he knew it - he had never felt like this in his entire life, surely, it could not be good ...
Just as her lips went to touch his own, she moved her head slightly, and he felt her breath in his ear and she whispered.
"Do you want to know what I was thinking?"
Cormac groaned and was ready to grab here there and then, when her face changed ... and she was now looking extremely angry. She raised herself up and whispered in his ear again. He closed his eyes.
"I was thinking what a selfish, arrogant, insufferable bastard you were - and hell will freeze over before I even consider kissing you."
Cormac couldn't breathe, and before he knew it, she had slid from his grip and marched down the corridor, leaving him well alone.
Now he was wondering how on earth he was supposed to get over Hermione Granger.
Hermione was breathing so loudly and so ferociously that people could hear her halfway down the corridor, and they stood aside to let her past. She was livid.
"How dare he?" she thought, curling her hands into fists, "Trying to attack me and thinking he could get away with it. Well, he better have learned his lesson, because I am never doing that again. It was so ... so ..."
She could hardly find the words. It was degrading, it was humiliating ... and yet, she found it strangely enjoyable. However, as soon as that thought entered her mind, she retracted it. What complete nonsense - enjoyable? With him around, nothing was enjoyable.
She found herself walking around in a circle, and before she knew it, she had entered the Great Hall. There was a few stragglers left behind, but everyone else had disappeared to their next class. The bell had obviously gone.
She sat down at the Gryffindor table, relishing the fact that she didn't have a class for the next two periods, and laid her head upon it. What had she just done? First, cheating a Professor and then flirting with another - what on earth was going through her head ...
"Good job, Granger."
Hermione jumped in her seat from fright, and turned to see none other than Draco Malfoy sitting beside her, looking thoroughly amused about something. She rolled her eyes and turned towards him.
He grinned maliciously, and folded his fingers, looking very business-like.
"I said, good job, Granger - that was some feat you managed to pull back there. Such a shame you had to cheat in order to do it."
Hermione stared at him at shock. He couldn't know what she did, she had been completely discreet about it. It was impossible - but his smug face told her otherwise. She changed her features so as to appear confused.
"I've no idea what you mean by that, Malfoy, but I can assure you I won fair and square."
He shook his head in reply, laughing softly. Hermione stiffened ... she had never seen him laugh before.
"Oh, you're so funny, Granger. But such a bad liar - I saw you flick your wand at his broomstick - and he thought it was something to do with the make! Ingenious ... cheating, obviously, but ingenious nonetheless. I never thought you had it in you to disobey a teacher."
Hermione blushed and folded her arms, refusing to look at him. He was more amused than ever.
"But that's not why I'm here. Professor McGonagall has asked to see you ... now."
Hermione turned, looking frightened.
"Oh, don't worry," Malfoy smirked, raising himself from the table, "You're not in trouble. I may be many things, Granger, but I'm not a sneak. You'd better be going."
He turned and strutted from the Hall, laughing to himself, before disappearing through the doorway. Hermione sat for a few seconds, before going to see Professor McGonagall. What an interesting day this had been so far.
Hermione chapped on the door of McGonagall's classroom. She heard movement from the other side, and suddenly, the door opened to reveal the teacher herself. She looked quite grim, and let Hermione pass.
Hermione saw someone sitting at the table, someone with long, dirty blonde hair ...
Luna Lovegood turned towards Hermione and smiled a little. She then motioned to the seat next to her, and Hermione sat down. Professor McGonagall closed the door and came over to her desk. She didn't sit however, but stood beside them.
"Miss Granger, Miss Lovegood wishes to ask you a personal favour. We have a very big problem. It appears that one of our students is ... well, suicidal."
Hermione's eyes widened in horror. That couldn't be true. She couldn't believe it - how could someone even consider doing something like that? Luna was looking at her strangely - but she was used to that by now, Luna was a strange person.
"Yes," McGonagall continued, "And the only person willing to help is Miss Lovegood here, who is already on speaking terms with the girl. We were wondering if you would maybe talk to her. She's so alone and doesn't seem to have any friends -"
"She has me," Luna interrupted, looking confused. Hermione smiled faintly and turned back to the Professor, who was giving Luna an admiring look. She returned to her point.
"If she has some more company for a while, we thought perhaps that would help her along the path of recovery. That is all she needs. Would you do it?"
Hermione was already decided.
"Of course, Professor. I will do whatever it takes to make her feel welcome. I will be her friend."
McGonagall smiled and thanked her. Luna and Hermione left her room, both feeling a little disheartened at their conversation.
"Who is this girl, Luna?" Hermione asked all of a sudden.
"Her name is Rose. She's a fifth year. Well, she would be a sixth year had it not been for the repeat of last year. She's very nice, I don't understand why people don't like her - she's perfectly friendly."
"Maybe ... maybe, she just has problems interacting with others, Luna. Maybe she"s just different."
Luna looked at her, a slight understanding in her eyes. However, her smiled had faded.
"What's so wrong with being a little different?"
Hermione wandered up to the Gryffindor Common Room, thinking about what both Luna and Professor McGonagall said to her. Why was this girl feeling the way she did? This was Hogwarts, a school of love and unity, no one was supposed to feel lonely enough to want to ... do that.
She noticed someone watching her from the shadows and stopped in her tracks, peering into the darkness. She groaned inwardly as McLaggen stepped from the shadows, smiling at the sight of her. Why was this man so intent on being with her all the time? He should have gotten the message, with what happened earlier on.
"Hermione." he whispered, his eyes dancing and filled with something - what was that she could see?
"McLaggen, what do you want now? A repeat of earlier on?"
He smiled again. "That wouldn't be a problem," he commented, but she frowned, so he quickly changed target, "Look, I wanted to ask you something."
Hermione put her hand upon her hips and glared. This was not going to be good.
But he didn't say anything.
"Well? What is it, McLaggen?"
He hesitated and his hands fidgeted with themselves - he looked rather nervous, and Hermione wavered. He opened his mouth to say something, but couldn't.
She walked towards him, her hands still on her hips - her anger at him was disintegrating very slowly, as she saw how uncomfortable and vulnerable he looked. But she was still on her guard; after all, he could pounce upon her any moment. She stopped.
"Look at me," she demanded, raising his chin with her hand. He did so, and in his eyes, she saw something so much more than just nervousness - was it longing? He looked away from her, afraid that he might be blinded by the sheer beauty of her gaze.
"Okay, here's how this is going to work," Hermione stated, "We are going to take a walk, and you are going to tell me what is going on with you. Seriously McLaggen, I don't know what to do."
She saw a misty smile appear on his face but he made no movement, so she grabbed his hand, dragging him down the staircase and out into the entrance hall. He opened the front door for her, and she stepped outside, still holding on to his hand. It was sunny now, and she felt slightly lighter than earlier before - the sun was always promising.
She let go of his hand now, realising how intimate it was, and she folded her arms, walking in front of him. He followed her obediently and before they knew it, they were beside the Black Lake. They could distinctly see the ripples of the Giant Squid touching the surface of the water.
Hermione turned towards him. He glanced at her shyly and she recoiled - what was wrong with him?
"McLaggen, you're scaring me now. Please tell me what's happening with you. You're not yourself. I mean, you practically attacked me an hour ago and now this? What is going on?"
He smiled, showing again, his perfectly straight teeth. Hermione realised that they looked slightly less horrifying when in this light. In fact, they looked rather nice. He faltered with words for a while, before laughing and running a hand through his hair.
"Isn't it obvious? Come on, Hermione, you're supposed to be the smartest witch of your age. Can't you see anything?"
He looked into her eyes, and they were pleading. Hermione understood, she understood perfectly well - she just didn't want to admit it. She didn't want to hurt him. Looking away, she sat upon the grass, wrapping her arms around her legs and sighing. He copied her.
"Look, McLaggen - I think I know what you're going to say, but ... I just - I just can't -"
She was lost for words.
It become slightly colder all of a sudden and she trembled a little. Then, she felt herself being wrapped in a cloak.
She looked at McLaggen, who was looking saddened, and smiled her thanks - he just simply nodded, still staring at her.
"You know, you're not a very easy person to get along with," Hermione said, wrapping the cloak still more tightly around her and laughing a little. McLaggen was confused.
"In what way?"
She snorted. He really didn't know?
"Well, for one thing, you're probably the most arrogant bloke I know - and that's saying something, considering I've had to put up with Malfoy for seven years. And you always manage to be rude to me, even if you don't mean it. You always boss people around, you're always jealous - you're actually quite self-centered. No offence."
"None taken," he replied, raising his hands in guilt.
"I just - I don't think we would get along very well. I want someone who's loving and caring, and can at least be nice to me once in a while. I don't know if you fit that description well enough. Do you understand?"
He looked at her and shook his head. She frowned.
"Don't you know why I've been stalking you, deliberately bumping into you, annoying you, calling you names and taunting you," replied McLaggen, now turning to stare at her fully, "Because, those are the things I want to give to you. I can be nice, when I want to be - and I would be especially kind to you. Do you know why?"
Hermione gazed at him, and noticed a couple of bluebirds take flight together in harmony. She smiled.
McLaggen was staring at her with such intensity that it was hard to ignore his gaze. She couldn't stop looking and felt something in the pit of her stomach. He cleared his throat, and gently clasped her hand. It was warm.
"Hermione, I ... I think I might be in love with you."
I'm so sorry about the cliffhanger!! This was just the perfect bit to end it at. And by the way, I'm nowhere near the end, so keep that in mind before you start making assumptions!! But who are you for? Oliver, Cormac, or even Draco?
Come on, let's have your opinions then!!
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