Chapter 6 : The Morning After
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Hermione stretched as she woke up slowly, yawning and pawing at her eyes. They felt sore, but she couldn’t quite remember why. Maybe she had gone to bed too late. She looked at the wall she was facing, windowless, of course, for protective purposes. She could tell it was morning with a glance at the clock – it read 8:07.
Gathering her wild brown hair together, Hermione flipped over onto her other side. She immediately let go of her hair and gasped loudly, clamping her hand over her mouth.
“What in the name of Merlin are you doing here?” she shrieked quietly, shaking Malfoy awake as she sat up. She spoke in hushed tones because she realized how this would look if someone were to come running. It would look as if something had happened.
Wait, she thought haltingly. Did something happen? She couldn’t remember him coming into her room at all, much less getting into bed with her.
“Granger,” he said stonily but in a rather strained voice as he looked up at the ceiling, lying on his back with his hands folded under his head. “Do you not remember what happened last night?” He didn’t look at her.
“Nothing happened!” she snapped, though truthfully she couldn’t recall.
“Ah, so you don’t remember. Well, I didn’t just come in here of my own accord,” he said defensively in an irritated tone. “You were making enough noise to wake the whole house up.”
“What? I wasn’t making noise. I was just sleeping,” Hermione said, confused.
Malfoy sighed. “So you didn’t have any dreams?” he asked vaguely.
Hermione thought for a moment and memories of the night before began to surface, slowly. “I had a nightmare,” she said absently as she stared at the wall in front of her. “I was – I was watching as Death Eaters were torturing my parents and students at Hogwarts and –” She stopped abruptly, glaring at Malfoy.
“I don’t need to tell you this. You still haven’t explained to me what you’re doing here! Besides,” she murmured, “it all turned out okay.”
“And why’s that?” drawled Malfoy lazily. He still hadn’t moved from his reclined position.
“Not that it’s your business, but someone came to help. They… fixed everything. But I don’t even know who it was,” Hermione snapped. Why was Malfoy being so nosy, anyway? He still wasn’t explaining anything!
She looked at him irritably, and he finally met her eyes. He stared at her, and raised an eyebrow. Finally something clicked in Hermione’s mind and she remembered last night completely. She squeezed her eyes shut and covered her face with her hands, full of a mixture of embarrassment and total confusion.
“But,” she peeped from her makeshift hiding place, “why would you come and help me? We’re enemies.” She said this last word slowly, as if explaining something to a child.
She peered timidly at Malfoy but this time it was he who looked embarrassed.
“Well, you wouldn’t shut up,” he mumbled, glancing away.
Hermione didn’t have time to retort or ask more questions because she heard bounding footsteps coming down the hall. Harry and Ron were probably coming to get her for breakfast, or see how she was doing.
“Merlin!” she exclaimed, frazzled. She leapt out of bed and snatched a robe out of the armoire. She had only just realized how little she was actually wearing.
“Get up!” she snapped at Malfoy, but he was already getting to his feet, not wanting to be caught in a compromising position either, apparently. It was too late for him to go back to his room, so he grabbed a book out of the shelf that stood against the wall and sat in an armchair by a lamp in the corner of the room. Hermione waved her wand hurriedly over the bed, making it magically, and yanked her hair into a neat ponytail. She, too, grabbed a book and positioned herself on the bed, cracking the book open to a random page and staring at it intently.
They were just in time, because at that moment Harry and Ron knocked impatiently on the door.
“Er, come in!” said Hermione. Of course it would be easier to refuse them entry to her room, but that would seem rather suspicious, as they were her best friends.
The two boys pulled the door open and stepped though the door, but stopped quickly at the sight of Malfoy.
“What is he doing in here?” demanded Ron, surprised. His eyebrows were furrowed, and he was obviously trying to figure if he should hex Malfoy or be jealous because Hermione had a guy in her room.
“Oh, we were just reading,” Hermione said airily, in a rather higher pitch than usual. “He didn’t like the selection of books in his room.”
Harry and Ron weren’t convinced. “But why are you reading here with him?” Ron asked. “And you know there’s a library in this house.”
“There is?” Hermione said, pleasantly surprised.
Finally Malfoy looked up from his book. “It’s not a big deal,” he drawled with his usual air of superiority. “I was just leaving, anyway.” He tucked his book under his arm and walked casually out the door.
A rather awkward silence fell over Harry, Ron, and Hermione as the door swung shut. Hermione stared blindly at the page of her book during the pregnant pause, heart beating from the shock of that morning, her mind racing with thoughts of Malfoy. In her room. In her bed.
Had he actually done something nice for her last night? She vaguely remembered throwing her arms around him and sobbing into his strong shoulder, but she also remembered him holding her, too, quite reassuringly. She must have thought he was Harry, or Ron, or someone, but what about him? He was fully awake and consciously hugged her, a Muggleborn? It was a difficult concept to understand.
Suddenly, a thought came to her. She recalled from the day before him touching her face when she was crying in the empty classroom. It was a similarly uncharacteristic action of Malfoy's, and the two occurrences together could indicate one of two things: either Malfoy was sickly using her as some sort of twisted plaything, or he actually had another side to him. She figured the first option would be much more likely, based on her prior experiences with him since first year, but then she remembered an even earlier incident the day before - when he had started crying and she discovered what she privately referred to as the "lost little boy."
She was utterly confused, and vowed to find out which of the theories was true later, maybe even that day. In the meantime, she finally noticed Ron and Harry awkwardly glancing at each other, shifting uneasily where they stood. Hermione got up and walked toward them nervously.
"So, how're you guys doing?" she asked with a concerned face. Finally, she had time to think about the tragic events of the previous day. She watched cautiously as Harry and Ron’s faces fell into somber expressions at her implication, and she was filled with a deep sadness for both of them.
“Oh, Ron, Harry,” she sighed in pity, and turned to hug Ron, but suddenly remembered her decision to move on from him. She awkwardly changed direction and hugged Harry, burying her face in his familiar shoulder as Ron patted her on the back.
“No, it’s okay, Hermione,” Harry started, but stopped. “Are you… wearing a new perfume or something?”
“What?” Hermione blurted, utterly confused. She hadn’t even showered since she went to bed the night before, and didn’t know how she could possibly smell different. Stale, maybe, but not like a new perfume.
“Sorry, you just, er, smell a little different,” Harry’s voice trailed off awkwardly and he clamped his mouth shut and looked at the floor in embarrassment.
“She does?” Ron put in, leaning forward to hover his freckly face above her right shoulder, sniffing obviously. “Yeah, I guess you do,” he concluded ponderously.
“Weird. It’s sort of like… aftershave? Or some other sort of men’s potion.”
“Well, I haven’t been around any men,” Hermione interjected defensively. “So I don’t know why –”
She stopped suddenly, remembering how she had woken up next to Malfoy. She had yet to get the full story from him, but she could figure enough out to see the need for a change of subject. “Anyone have breakfast yet?” she demanded out of nowhere.
“Oh, no, that’s why we came down. To get you. For breakfast.” Ron replied haltingly. He was obviously quite hungry now that she’d mentioned it, and his thoughts were probably drifting towards the kitchen.
“Let’s go down and have some then,” Hermione suggested, hurrying them out of the room. “I suppose we can talk about everything in the kitchen with plates full of bacon and eggs.”
Stay tuned for Hermione's conversation with Draco!
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