Chapter 8 : Friends...?
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After all, she thought as she stood up, book in hand, it’s not like he has anyone else here to talk to. And with that final sentiment, she closed the book and walked with it still in her arms down the stairs, pausing to listen to make sure that the boys were downstairs in the living room (they were, playing wizard chess), before creeping quietly down the hall. She knocked gently on the door of Malfoy’s room and waited nervously for his response.
A few footsteps sounded across the hardwood floor and then the door creaked open, just enough for Malfoy to show the side of his face, not looking directly at Hermione.
“What do you want?” he asked, not unkindly.
“Just to talk,” Hermione squeaked.
“More?” Malfoy drawled, but opened the door for her before walking back to the armchair where he had been sitting. She entered the room quickly and closed the door behind her, not thinking that it would be better to leave it open, and leaned against it, the book still clutched against her chest.
After a beat, she took a few steps forward and leaned against the bookshelf by the chair where Malfoy sat.
“So, you were reading Hogwarts, A History?” she asked, showing him the book in her arms.
“Yeah, what of it? It’s actually an interesting book.”
“Nothing, it’s just that neither Harry nor Ron have ever bothered to pick it up. But I love it – it’s fascinating,” she replied, smiling happily.
Malfoy looked up and studied her face.
“So why are you really here?” he asked cautiously. He raised his eyebrows at her and she blushed.
“Actually, I was thinking – we should be friends,” she blurted. Malfoy looked surprised but not unhappy at the suggestion.
“You’d really be friends with a Death Eater like me?” he asked sarcastically, with a little skepticism.
Hermione smiled tentatively. “Yeah, why not? It’s just, I know you don’t get along with Harry and Ron,” Malfoy rolled his eyes, “but you did help me out a few times yesterday – and last night. I never really thanked you properly for it.”
Malfoy smiled sincerely this time. “Fine. However you like it, Granger.”
His acceptance of her offer of friendship put Hermione at a little more ease, and she sat on the ottoman at the foot of his bed, stretching her legs out in front of her. Malfoy watched her for a moment and then spoke up.
“I mean, it’s only natural that we be friends, seeing as we’ve already slept together.” He smirked playfully at Hermione, who looked shocked and slapped her hand against her mouth.
“We have NOT!” she exclaimed, and Malfoy looked amused to see her reaction.
“Whatever you want to believe, Granger,” he said, smirking even wider at her appalled look. “So anyway, have you finally hooked up with Weasley now or what? He seemed pretty upset all those times he caught us together this morning – I have to say, it happens more often than you’d expect, doesn’t it?”
Hermione blushed deeply but chuckled, if a bit hollowly. “No, we are not going out, if that’s what you mean. And Ron’s just… he’s just a little protective, you see, and I don’t think he trusts you at all. As to the few accidental occasions where Ron may have gotten the wrong idea, well…” Hermione stopped and giggled, much to Malfoy’s surprise. He began to laugh too, and they had to clutch their stomachs as they laughed harder, realizing the comical situations which they had put themselves in.
After Hermione had wiped the tears from her eyes she caught her breath enough to speak. “Hey, good job with that ladder, by the way,” she added more seriously. “That was a neat bit of transfiguration, and quick thinking, too.”
“Thanks,” he replied, a bit smugly. “Well, just imagine how it would have looked… why exactly did you leap into my lap, again?”
Hermione’s jaw dropped indignantly. “I did not leap into your lap. I was startled!”
“So your automatic response was to throw yourself into my arms, hoping I would protect you from harm?”
“NO. It was just an accident, Malfoy. Besides, your lap’s not all that great,” Hermione lied.
Malfoy raised his eyebrows and looked at her with exaggerated incredulity. “Well, that’s the first complaint I’ve ever heard,” he said obnoxiously.
Hermione let out a “Ha!” and Malfoy continued.
“No, seriously. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about my lap,” he bragged jokingly.
“From Pansy Parkinson,” Hermione replied mockingly. “That hardly counts.”
“Oh, really? And why’s that?” Malfoy arched an eyebrow at her and she blushed.
Repressing thoughts of how that habit was actually sort of… sexy, Hermione barked out a laugh.
“Because,” she stated, “Pansy’s a…” she stopped, trying to think of an inoffensive word to convey her meaning.
This time Malfoy actually smiled in amusement, instead of his usual infuriating smirk. “Is that Hermione Granger I hear making catty comments about another girl?”
Hermione slapped the leather cushion of the ottoman she was sitting on indignantly. “I’m not being catty,” she protested, “but Pansy Parkinson is a…” Once again, she had trouble saying what she meant out loud.
“…Slag?” Malfoy finished rudely.
Hermione’s jaw dropped. “I thought you liked her! Didn’t you two go out or something?”
“I didn’t realize you paid attention to the torrid love affairs of us Slytherins, Granger, but she was rather obsessed with me. Really, though, can you blame her?”
Hermione aimed a kick at him from where she sat, saying “You are such a prat.”
Malfoy pretended to be offended. “Speaking of love affairs, remember that disgusting Brown girl who was all over Weasley for a few months?”
Hermione’s head jerked up in shock at the mention of Ron and Lavender. “Of course I remember it,” she snapped. “Who didn’t see them slobbering all over each other like boars in heat?” She let out a disgusted snort and once again stared at the floor.
“Whoa,” said Malfoy in amusement and apparent surprise. “I assume that’s a bit of a sore subject for you, Granger?”
He had said it with more kindness that he normally would have, but she glared at him anyway.
“No. What do I care if he’s with that –” Hermione’s voice dropped and she murmured the last word.
“Merlin, did I just hear Goody-Two-Shoes-Granger call someone a whore?”
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