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Chapter 3 : Snowing
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Like I said, if there's anything you'd like to see just say so and i'll see if I can't work it in. And yell at me if you think they're out of character.
By the time Draco had changed clothes and composed himself, Hermione had already begun scavenging through the large collection of books that were housed on a bookshelf in the common room of the Heads’ dorm looking for a spellbook that contained simple healing charms. She could have sworn she had seen it somewhere… Ah! There it was! She reached for the book and soon after retrieving it heard footsteps on the stairs that led down from Draco’s room. She glanced toward the noise and let out a relieved sigh.
He was wearing clothes. Thank Merlin.
Not that it made much difference. He still looked fantastic walking down the stairs in what appeared to be black pajama pants with a dark, foresty green v-neck cotton shirt. She noticed that his hair was still a little damp and he had run his fingers through it, causing pieces to stick out haphazardly. It reminded her of what her friends like Lavender and Pavarti would call sex hair. She refused to let her mind wander down that path.
Hermione carried her book to the couch, sank down into the cushions, and opened the cover, checking to see if there was an index. Draco (with a sneeze) sat down in the large chair opposite of her and watched her for a moment. He wasn’t quite sure why she was being so helpful. She had never been helpful to him in the past and he failed to see why she would offer to help him now… he sneezed again and decided he didn’t care, so long as she could cure this insufferable ailment before it got any worse.
The book did, in fact, have an index and soon Hermione was flipping through the pages to the spell she thought might do the trick. She looked so focused bent over the pages of the book, her eyes quickly skimming down the page. Her intensity over something as simple as a quick curing spell made Draco wonder about how intense the little muggle born might be in bed. Pansy was always rather demanding. She was also lazy, meaning he had to do all the work. He hated sharing a bed with her, but if he didn’t no doubt it would get back to his parents somehow. He inwardly laughed at what a disaster that would be. His father would probably break out of Azkaban to come lecture him about “family duty” and “keeping the line pure,” and his mother would probably fall deeper into her mental insanity. She’d never be released from St. Mungo’s. But that didn’t keep Draco from wondering, seeing how intent Hermione was on finding a cure for him. No doubt she’d be even more focused in bed… And then Draco’s face went pale (well, more pale than usual). What the bloody hell was he doing?
He was thinking about Granger in bed.
This had to stop.
This had to stop now.
Hermione looked up at that moment to tell Draco that she had found the spell. He looked… paler than usual which caused concern to fill her eyes as she looked at him. “Draco, you look like a ghost. Are you okay?” Her tone was coated with worry as she inquired about his health. It did not help Draco’s problem. Not only would she be intense in bed, she’d be completely concerned about him. So much better than Pansy…
Right. She was talking. Right. This was not sticking to the plan.
“Yeah, Hermione. I’m fine, thanks… Did you find the charm yet?” Hermione nodded and placed the spell book on the table and turned it around so he could read.
Charm Name: The Desnuffling Charm
Purpose: Cures most common symptoms of a cold including but not limited to a stuffy head, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, shaking, shivering, and shrinking of the head.
Incantation: Desniffelus Snuffelus
Wand motion: swish-swish-flick-loop-flick
Draco nodded. It seemed simple enough, especially for Hermione to do. She was the top charms student in the whole school. He gave her a smile and stood. “So, shall we do this?”
Hermione nodded her acquiescence and picked up her wand. She stood as well and walked around the table between them to where he stood; she stopped about a meter back from him, facing him. Their eyes met.
“Do you trust me?” a hesitant Hermione asked.
Draco gave her a charming smile. She felt her heart beat harder in her chest for a moment. “Of course I do. You’re Hermione Granger, fabled to be the most brilliant witch Hogwarts has ever seen. This is a gonna be a piece of cake for you.” There we go, suck up to her.
Her heart skipped a beat. He needed to stop being so nice. It was making her forget what an ass he had been to her and Ron and Harry in the past. It was making her nervous. She swallowed and looked away from him, unable to hold his gaze any longer for fear that she would blush furiously. She licked her lips and glanced at the spell once more before lifting her wand. Draco flinched and prepared for the worse.
She bit her bottom lip and looked up at him, hoping that she had done it right and that he wasn’t about to be requiring immediate apparation to St. Mungo’s (Not that one can apparate inside of Hogwarts school grounds. It’s clearly stated in Hogwarts, A History that you can’t.) She was relieved to see Draco standing before her, seemingly unaffected. He took a deep breath through his nose and grinned (yes, grinned) at her. “Good as new! Thanks, Hermione!”
Hermione smiled back, happy that she could help, but this was just weird. He was using her first name. Not Mudblood or Granger… and she was calling him Draco instead of Malfoy or Ferret. What the hell was going on!? But she supposed this was Dumbledore’s plan from the start. Get the Gryffindor princess and the Slytherin prince to play nice and the whole school follows suit. A wise old man… the plan was just taking awhile.
“You should probably go get some rest, just to play it safe,” she suggested.
“Yeah, you’re right. I probably should.” Draco agreed. He shook his white blond hair out of his ice blue-grey eyes. She really needed to stop noticing that.
“I’ll uhm, ask the house elves to bring you up some dinner. Soup?” she offered. He smiled gratefully.
“Chicken noodle. Cliché, I know but…” He grinned again. He really needed to stop doing that. It did strange things to her knees.
“I understand completely. It’s my favorite too when I’m sick.” She gave a soft laugh. They were still a mere meter apart. “Well, I guess I better get down to dinner. I’ll-“
“Stay with me.”
“Stay with me.” He said again. Hermione was baffled. “If you go down there, you’ll be eating alone. I don’t like being alone, you probably don’t like it either. It’s why I didn’t go home this Christmas. Let’s just have the house elves bring up dinner for both of us” He shrugged. “It’s logical.”
Hermione thought it over for a second. He was right in the fact that she didn’t enjoy eating alone. She hated her friends being gone. She hated the silence, the absence of laughter, and it wouldn’t really be any more trouble for the House elves to bring two servings of food up to them. He was right. It was logical. She shrugged. “You’re right. It is.” She picked up the spell book on the table and returned it to its proper place in the bookshelf. From another shelf she picked up a clear crystal bell and rang it twice.
Draco couldn’t believe that had worked. It was just too easy.
A few moments later, a house elf appeared in their common room. “What can Blinky do for Miss Hermione? Blinky loves to do whatever you asks of her, Miss!”
Hermione gave Blnky a big smile. He was always going to be her favorite house elf. “Blinky, would you mind sending up some dinner from the kitchens for us? We’re requesting Chicken Noodle soup, if you don’t mind.”
“Blinky never minds, Miss Hermione! I gets it myself for Mr. Draco and Miss Hermione.”
Hermione and Draco both thanked Blinky before she vanished in a puff of smoke. Hermione sank back down on the couch, as far away from Draco as the seating arrangement in the room would allow provided he sat back down in the large chair across from her on the other side of the table. He did. She worried her bottom lip between her teeth. She didn’t know what to say, and if there anything that she hated more than anything, it was not knowing something. They both sat in silence, both looking slightly uncomfortable, and both wondering what was wrong with them.
Blinky and another House elf reappeared in their common room a scant few minutes later with large portions of Chicken Noodle soup, pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and charmed cherry sorbet for desert, along with chocolate frogs. After many thanks and many “Blinky is happy to serve”s, Hermione and Draco reached for their respective bowls of soup and began to eat in silence. After a few minutes, Hermione plucked up her Gryffindor courage. “So, how do you feel? You haven’t sneezed since I cast the spell.”
Draco looked up at her from his dinner and blinked. There she was looking all concerned again. The firelight cast a lovely glow on her features and made her hair look like it was spun golden thread. Despite her plain muggle clothing, she looked pretty. Draco redirected his thoughts. This was unhealthy. Clearly he was going insane. Maybe the charm had done something to his brain. He played it off. “I told you, Hermione. I feel great. Like I never even went out in a freezing cold storm. I could fight a centaur right now. I’d still lose, but you know, at least I wouldn’t lose because I had to close my eyes to sneeze.”
She rolled her eyes. “Alright, just checking.” She ate another spoonful of her soup. “And for the record, if it were a fair fight, I think you might win.”
They got along quite merrily for the remainder of the meal. The soup was excellent, the butterbeer thirst quenching, and the chocolate frogs entertaining, as usual, particularly when one that Hermione opened up jumped away immediately and she found herself sprawled across the table trying to catch it. Draco snagged it (he wasn’t Slytherin’s seeker for nothing) and popped it in his mouth, much to the protest of Hermione.
“Glutton.” She scolded after their laughter had died down.
“Butterfingers.” Draco shrugged.
“There’s a reason I don’t play Quidditch.” Hermione pointed out. “One, I can’t fly worth a knut. Two, I’m completely useless when it comes to handling a ball. They slip right through my fingers. Not even Harry has been patient enough to teach me.” This time it was her turn to shrug. “I’m completely content on the ground.”
Draco’s jaw dropped. “You mean to tell me you’ve never really been flying?” Hermione shook her head and blushed. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard all bloody week, Granger.”
“Yes, well…” She yawned. “I’m sorry, I guess I should turn in. And you’re probably exhausted from your ride today.” She yawned again then stood and stretched. The arch in her back caught Draco’s attention. He wished he wasn’t such a blasted boy.
“Once again you’re right, Miss Granger.” Draco yawned in return and stood as well. “I suppose I’ll see you in the morning, since there’s really no one else here to see.”
His response irked her. Of course, there were so many more other people he’d rather see. She suddenly became cold. “Goodnight, Malfoy.”
“What?” He looked at her questioningly.
“Cut the act, Malfoy. I get it. You’re stuck seeing me. It’s fine.” She sounded hurt.
“Hermione, I didn’t mean it like that, I swe-“ he fumbled with his words. Just when things had started to go according to plan.
She interrupted him. “Goodnight, Malfoy” and turned to make a beeline for the stairs, but Draco was faster than her. He grabbed her wrist tightly and wrenched her back. Was a little trust so much to ask for?
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you, Granger?” They were back to last names and his eyes were no longer warm, but accusing. “For such a bloody brilliant witch, you’re so stupid sometimes. And Merlin are you moody! No wonder Weasley dumped you! You start jumping to conclusions that aren’t even there all the time! Just chill out, would you?”
Tears threatened to spill over in Hermione’s eyes when Draco brought up Ron. That was a low blow. A very Malfoy blow. She turned on him. “Don’t you DARE bring up my relationship with Ron! You have no fucking idea what happened! Now Let. Me. Go. You’re hurting me!” Hermione tried to pull away before her tears got away from her. He was still an ass. A stuck up, arrogant, know-it-all prick. He hadn’t changed at all. Why was she so quick to believe the best in people?
When Hermione complained of him hurting her, Draco quickly let go. He had no desire to hurt her. Quite the opposite really; he kind of wanted to shag her, but that was beside the point. Hermione wrenched out of his reach and raced up the stairs to her dorm where she subsequently threw herself on her bed and cried.
She hated Christmas. She hated Christmas a lot.
Six days. Everyone had left six days ago. Hermione was miserable. Draco was miserable. Both of them were sulking around the castle, not talking to anyone, especially each other. Not even Peeves was brave enough to cause mischief around the two for fear of one of them lashing out and killing him for good somehow. The tension between them was tangible, but no one had the courage to reach out to either of them and Dumbledore had told the rest of the professors to let them work it out for themselves. Minerva McGonagall was least in favor of this plan, but obeyed Dumbledore’s orders. What had he been thinking? Putting those two together...
At some point, there was bound to be blood.
Neither Draco nor Hermione spent any time in their common room. They barricaded themselves in their respective rooms and made sure the other was far gone before using the large bathroom they shared (Honestly, you’d think the professors would have wizened up by now and given the head boy and girl separate bathrooms, but alas, it seemed the castle was so magical it was impervious to the magic that would have made the renovations possible and the professors didn’t have time to spend searching for spells to make it possible).
Hermione hadn’t even come down to the Great Hall to eat since their fight. He knew she was eating because he had asked a house elf, but it also relayed that she wasn’t eating much and that she didn’t look entirely well. Draco mentally berated himself for being a prick. Well, okay. For screwing up his own plan, really, by being a prick. She had been right. He had no clue about anything that had happened in her and Weasley’s relationship (and thinking about it made him feel rather nauseous) and he had been wrong to bring it up. He had to… apologize… again. He winced at the thought.
Apologizing was still a rather new concept for a Malfoy, but he resolved that he must do it… he just didn’t know how. The last time he had attempted an apology she had yelled at him. Fiercely. He determined he was rather unfond of the pitch and tone her voice held when she was yelling at him. Hermione had also taken great pains to avoid him since their fight two nights before. She’d practically become a ghost… he had hardly seen her and when he had, he was given the impression that he should stay far, far away from her.
Draco turned all of this over in his mind as he walked to the Great Hall for lunch. He was late, as he hadn’t realized the time passing as he drowned himself in his guilt and thoughts. Upon entering the hall, Draco stopped dead in his tracks. There she was, sitting alone at the Gryffindor table with a book. He must have stood there for at least a minute. Not once did she look up. He looked over at the empty Slytherin table and then back to Hermione.
This was his shot.
Everyone in the hall watched as Slytherin’s prince abandoned his table to join Gryffindor’s muggle born princess… everyone except for said princess. Draco stood across the table from her, silent for a few moments. He felt everyone’s eyes on him. Knew that there was probably no going back from here. Every student, albeit few, left in this hall was going to talk about this to everyone the moment everyone returned. He didn’t care.
“Malfoy,” She looked up at him, her golden brown eyes showing a coldness and bitterness he had never seen. His name sounded like a hiss coming through her teeth. “I am here only to keep up appearances. If I skip one more meal, a professor will probably notice and then feel the need to check on me. I don't care to explain the situation to them, so here I am. Now Go. Away.” Venom coated Hermione’s voice as she spoke through gritted teeth. Had he been smart, he would have run away. Quickly.
Instead, Draco sat down across from the seething witch and nonchalantly grabbed a roll from a bowl of them on the table and plopped it on the empty plate in front of him. “Hermione-“
“Don’t call me that.”
“Shut it, Malfoy.”
“Call me Draco.”
“No.” She glared at him.
“Call me Draco and I won’t call you every sappy pet name in the book, my little lioness.”
“Fine.” She snarled. He raised an eyebrow and gave her a smug look. She gave an exasperated sigh and looked at him menacingly, “Fine, Draco.”
“Much better. Now will you listen to me for a moment?” Draco’s eyes were earnest and sincere as he looked at her, devoid of all manners of teasing. She remained silent, which he took as a yes. “Hermione, I’m sorry.” She rolled her eyes and scoffed at him. “Hermione, I’m serious.” She looked into his eyes.
Oh. He was serious. His eyes were laced with pain and regret, but most of all honesty. Whatever he said next was going to be the truth.
“I hurt you, I understand that. I was… wrong… to bring up your relationship with Weasley. And I hope that your wrist is alright. I shouldn’t have held you like that. I don’t want to fight with you, Hermione… it’s actually making me quite miserable.” He hurried on before she could interject. “And I don’t mean I’m miserable because I’m alone and have nothing better to do than talk to you. Knowing that I hurt you, especially after you had been so kind to me, kills me. I was an ass. An arrogant prick who let his temper get away from him.”
He took a deep breath. “Please, Hermione, forgive me? For everything. For the jerk that I was to you when we were younger, for calling you names, mocking you, everything. I wish I could take it back now, knowing what I know now. You’re an incredible witch and could probably kick my ass in a duel any day. I’ll beg, if you’d like…”
Draco stopped himself. Where had all of that even come from? Beg? Him? A Malfoy? Beg? Why had he even said that? And then he looked at her and the guilt of his past racked his body once more. He wasn't sure if there was a plan anymore.
Maybe it was time for things to change in the Wizarding World, and maybe he was going to change them. He swore he would die before he called her Mudblood again.
Throughout his apology Hermione melted. She tried to keep her face as blank as she could, but she was melting. Damn those eyes of his. Damn. Damn. Damn. She simply couldn’t resist. He was being sincere and her intuitiveness caught it and would not let it go. He meant this. Every word. “You don’t have to beg, Malf- Draco… I believe you. I… I forgive you.”
At her words, relief washed over Draco like a cool spring rain. She had believed him. And she hadn’t yelled. He smiled genuinely at her. “So do I get to stay, or are you going to kick me out of your table?”
She rolled her eyes. “You can stay.”
The words were hardly out of her mouth before Draco started helping himself to the food on Gryffindor Table. After a few bites he looked at her quizzically.
She looked up from the book she had resumed reading once more. “What’s different?”
“The food… it’s the same stuff, but it tastes… differently from food at my table.” Hermione raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m serious! It tastes… I don’t know… just… warmer? But not temperature wise or spice wise… just… ugh. This is frustrating. It’s better than ours!” He glared over his shoulder at the empty Slytherin table.
Hermione chuckled under her breath. “How strange. Hogwarts, A History never said anything about the foods at different tables tasting differently… then again, I suppose there’s never very much comingling done between Slytherins and Gryffindors. I’d bet that it’s a gradual change across the tables, so if you go to one over you don’t really notice it. But you’re skipping the two middle tables and going straight for the lion’s den…” She laughed. “I knew being a Gryffindor had its perks over you snakes.” She teased him.
Draco pretended to look offended, but it only lasted for a moment before he decided to take another bite. “So not fair…” he mumbled under his breath one last time.
The rest of their lunch passed pleasantly. They talked about nonconfrontational subjects like schoolwork, professors, their favorite quidditch teams. All in all, it was a decent lunch; in fact, they were the last two people to leave the Great Hall together. Hermione found it strange that Draco’s company seemed to please her. He was one of few who could keep up with her successfully in a conversation without having to have a dictionary on hand. Conversely, Draco found that Hermione was an excellent conversationalist given the chance and could actually talk about things other than the latest theory on the magical properties of horsnacks or whatever.
Upon exiting the Great Hall, Hermione looked out one of the large windows in the hallway. She stood dead still and grabbed onto Draco’s arm. “Look!” She exclaimed. “It’s snowing! We might have a white Christmas after all!” Draco looked out the window. Sure enough, a few inches of snow had accumulated on the ground. He turned his gaze to Hermione’s lit up face. That’s all it took to make her happy? A little snow?
“You don’t want to go play in it, do you?” Hermione’s eyes snapped to his.
“Are you kidding? Of course I want to go play in it!” She started to drag him towards the door, but stopped abruptly. “Wait… It’d be foolish to go out there like this.” She gestured to their light clothing. “We need to get jumpers and mittens and scarves and boots and-“ Draco didn’t let her finish. He scooped her up into his arms and carried her quickly to the door. “DRACO! DRACO LET ME DOWN THIS INSTANT!” He grinned. “WE’RE GOING TO GET SICK YOU DOLT!” She wriggled in his arms but he head her steady. Merlin, she was light. Pansy was way heavier. Draco opened the door with ease and carried the still protesting Hermione into the bitter cold air. He pretended to drop her and she screamed, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck.
“Hermione, if you wanted to get closer to me all you had to do was ask.” He smirked and she gave him a look of disdain, loosening her hold around him.
“Set me down.”
He winced. “Ouch. That one hurt.” Draco set her down on the freshly fallen snow, making sure she was steady on her own before letting her go. She went off.
“I can’t believe you’d bring us out here in the freezing cold without the proper clothing! Draco we’re-“ A snowball. Right in her mouth. How she didn’t see it coming, Draco didn’t know, but boy did she look angry… “YOU LITTLE GIT!”
And then it was on. Snow flew everywhere between them and as much as Draco hated to admit it, Hermione had a pretty good arm. She’d be a chaser for sure if she played Quidditch. She hit him in the head more than once. They hid behind sculptures, the frozen fountains, behind columns; it was a full out war and the snow only got heavier the longer they stayed out. Once she was able to sneak up behind him and land a snowball right on the back of his neck, causing the melting ice to drip down his back. He shuddered. “I’ll get you, you wench!” he vowed and took off after Hermione who was already dashing away looking for cover. She was easy to spot against the white world in her dark blue jeans and red sweater. Draco gained ground on the fleeing Hermione quickly, as his strides were longer and faster than her own.
They were in a clearing just off the south side of Hogwarts. The snow was now roughly a foot deep and Hermione had reached a hill that slowed her down. Draco kept up his pace and dove at Hermione, tackling her to the ground. She shrieked as Draco tackled her into the snow. It didn’t hurt, but Merlin was it cold! She burst into laughter as Draco pinned her. She hadn’t had that much fun in so long. “I yield! I yield!” She yelled through her laughter and looked up at Draco who was on top of her grinning.
“Success!” Their eyes met again and there it was. That fire. That electricity. That magic between them. Despite the bitter cold surrounding them, Hermione suddenly felt her whole body heat up. He’d never looked at her like that before. It scared her. Her laughter stopped and she bit her lip.
Draco couldn’t stop looking at her. There she was in the snow, her chest rising and falling underneath him as she breathed hard from their battle. Her cheeks were red and her hair wet with the snow and still he had never seen anything more beautiful. He was frozen.
Her voice brought him back. “Huh?”
“Your nose… it’s turning white. That’s a sign of frostbite. We’d better go back inside.”
“Oh… okay.” Draco didn’t even feel the cold. All he felt was the heat radiating off of her body. What was going on? He crawled off of her and stood, then reached out for her hand to help her up. She took his hand gratefully as she stood to her feet. She was freezing! Her whole body shook with the cold and she realized her clothes were soaked through.
“If I get sick, I completely blame you!”
Draco grinned. “Worth it.”
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