Chapter 4 : Chapter Three: Memories in Prensence
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She steps into the classroom with an excited smile, until she sees him.
He smirks at her as she marches past his desk, slipping into the seat behind.
''I have nothing to say,'' Hermione snaps, bending down and bringing out her books. Her tone is final and harsh, and Draco makes to turn around, but Hermione's eyes catch his. They glitter with a small ripple of hope.
''I am not!'' Hermione cries, indignant.
Draco angles closer to her, watching as Hermione unpacks quills, parchment and an assortment of other utensils that probably won't see the light of day after this first lesson. More and more students continue to file through the door, no one paying the slightest attention to Hermione and Draco. They all have the same looks reflected on each others faces - of nervous apprehension and excitement. The two previous Hogwarts students are trapped in their own world.
''I know that you're dying to. I can see it.''
She looks up at him, her face the perfect picture of spite, and spits, ''Malfoy, I hate you.''
He turns back around, but Hermione continues, ''Why didn't you wake me up?! I couldn've been late.'' She hisses the last word, as if it was a forbidden curse. ''My first ever lecture -''
''But you weren't late.''
''But I could have been!'' She lets out a cry of anger, reminding Draco of a mother dragon and startling the boy beside her. Draco smirks at him, only infuriating Hermione more. ''You are an insensitive, good for nothing, stu-''
''But you weren't late, Granger. I would have done everything within my power to make sure you would be on time.''
He head dips down and he turns himself closer to her again. She pointedly avoids looking into his eyes.
Hermione's mouth opens ... but no sound comes out. Expressions pass through her face, a blur of emotion - anger, laughter, annoyance, nervousness - but none stays for long, and none can be truly expressed.
He nods, and she can see his jaw tense ever-so-slightly. Hermione sniffs.
''Why are you in this class anyway?'' She bends down, pretending to search for something in order to avoid his gaze.
Draco shrugs and pushes his chair back, so he's right at her desk. He picks up one of her quills and twirls it absently in his fingers. Hermione looks up at him, taken aback by just how overpowering his presence is. Everything about him is crushing, the way he sits, how careless his actions really are; how he wears his hair, blinks, moves ... It's all just so natural, that Hermione can't even describe it.
He shrugs again and says, ''Something to do.''
She laughs. ''Do you even know what equal rights are??''
''No ... But I will once the first lecture's over, right?''
''Wrong, Malfoy,'' Hermione says, raising her eyebrows. ''Everyone in this classroom knows exactly what Equal Rights in the Magical Community mean, and they actually care about it. That's why they chose this course. I don't think the Professor is going to be too impressed if you don't even understand what this course is about.''
''Hmmm.'' Draco rubs the quills feathers across his cheek. ''Interesting shit, Granger. Good work.''
He shoves Hermione quill into her face. The feathers tickle her nose, and she can't help but sneeze.
''Mind if I borrow this?''
Hermione blinks. She looks around, suddenly aware that there are now a few people sharing curious glances in their direction. She blushes, but before she can answer, feathers block her vision again, this time tickling her whole face as Draco waves it around.
''No, Malfoy, just take it,'' she snaps, beyond just annoyed now.
''Good, 'cause it smells nice.''
He turns back around, leaving Hermione slightly stunned. But before she process what has just happened, the door at the front of the classroom opens, and in steps a tall, dark man. He waves his wand and his name appears on the board:
''I don't care who you are,'' he begins. Hermione is taken aback by how deep and blunt his voice is, and she can tell by the nervous looks on everyone's faces that she isn't the only one. ''I'm not here to make friends. I don't care if you pass the exams or not. I am here to teach you and you are here to listen. It was your choice to take this class, so at least make the effort. Leave whenever you want.''
No one moves. Only Draco, who sits in his seat, slightly angled, stroking his cheek lightly with the quill.
''The definition of equal'' - he waves his wand again, and more writing appears on the board - ''and rights.'' Another wave. Hermione scribbles the meanings down quickly.
equal adj the same number, size, merits
rights just, accordance with truth and duty
''Can you tell us what it means, Professor?''
Hermione's head snaps up from her parchment, mouth open. While Draco asks the question, she can see him looking at her out the corner of his eye, an evil smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth.
''If you let me resume, I will be able to,'' Pearson answers.
Draco's eyes turn hard. Hermione stifles a giggle, biting down on her lip.
''May I resume, Mister ...?''
Pearson has the floor. But unsurprisingly to Hermione, though startling to everyone else in the room, Draco keeps his cool dominance, drawling, ''Malfoy. Please, keep continuing. I didn't mean to disturb.''
''Well you have.'' Pearson waves his wand, more and more writing appear on the large black board.
Hermione's first lesson in life has truly begun.
The tryouts after lunch are going as he expected.
Astoria had been outside his lecture room this morning, waiting for his class to finish and for Draco to leave. She was overly excited and slightly flustered, as if she has wasted all her energy in just waiting for him.
She grabbed his hand violently and dragged him away, ignoring his protests and discouraged, ''What??''
They stopped together, side-by-side, in front of a large, decorated notice board. Draco was hardly paying attention, busy savoring the soft feeling of her hand in his - something he had missed almost too much in their first week at the Academy. He glanced at her, for the first time taking note of just how pale her skin was, the shadows under her eyes. Her lips were white and her hand was suddenly a bundle of sticks in his.
''You look sick.''
She glanced at his, then slipped her hand out of his and pointed to the notice board. ''Tryouts! Quidditch!! Put your name down! There's only one Seeker so far.''
He looked. She wasn't lying. There were over a hundred Beaters and Chasers, and about 60 Keepers; yet, curiously, only one Seeker. On closer inspection though, Draco understood why.
''Im not going against Potter.''
Astoria was not going to be swayed that easily. ''You could at least try.'' Taking up the quill, she scrawled down his name below Harry's. ''Ha!''
Now standing beside his fiance again, they watch warily as Harry speeds around the pitch, warming up for the tryouts. It appears as though he has been training hard for this, his fly not faltering once, a look of ultimate concentration on his face.
''This is stupid and all your fault.''
''You're such a drag.'' But even Astoria can pick up the doubt in her voice. ''You might just get it.''
He shrugs, throwing one leg over his broom and taking off. He has almost forgotten this feeling - so free, so careless. After the death of his father, Draco had discard flying altogether, too afraid to pick up the broom and feel the freedom again, while knowing his was - and always going to be - far from free. He felt as though he was cheating his whole family, and because of this, he locked his broom far away, way down into the depths of the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. It was his mother who had forced him to find it and take it with his to college.
''It will be good for you. Stop being so childish ...''
He was always too childish for her.
The cool wind whips back his hair and stings his eyes. But it feels amazing. He almost doesn't want to get down as the coach makes his way out on the pitch.
''Get down! Get down!'' He is pointing at Draco. ''You! Malfoy? Get here.''
Draco lands discreetly beside Potter, making a mental note to not even acknowledge him. The embarrassment of their last encounter at Hogwarts with the Room of Requirement is still fresh in his mind. He is positive that even Astoria, on the other side of the pitch, can feel the tension between the two right now.
''Only two Seekers ...? Well that's odd ...''
The coach looks up. He is a man of short stature, but he makes up for this with his threatening appearance and presence. Clearly defined, Harry recognises the strength of his arms of the of a Beater. He reminds him distinctly of those Muggles bike gangs, covered in tattoos and piercings in places that would make his Aunt Petunia faint.
''I'm Coach Scott. Just Scott. And I'm going to let you know right now that when this is over, more than three quarters of you will be making their way to your dorms disappointed.''
Harry feels Draco shift beside him, and he can't help but glance over. He's smirking, but his eyes are stone cold and emotionless. Looking at him, Harry can see that Draco hasn't changed since Hogwarts at all. His grey eyes and pale skin is as unnerving as ever still. Though, Harry has to give him credit for his threatening presence - Draco was clearly defined, with large muscles and a more than frightening scar of a Dark Mark on his forearm.
Harry can't help but shiver noticing it.
''Seekers are first, as there are only two of you. I'm only going to do this once, you two,'' Scott says, now directly addressing Harry and Draco. ''Whoever catches the Snitch first is my Seeker, so stay on top.''
''That's a bit unfair, don't you think?'' Smug and eeriely familiar, both Harry and Draco spin around to see who had called out.
Sure enough, lurking at the back of the group stands the clear eyed, pretentious Zechariahs Smith. Draco moans loudly, encouraging a few laughs as he turns back around, and Harry has to agree. What is he doing at college, let alone Quidditch Practice?? This isn't Hogwarts - this is a professional team they were all signing up for. You have to be prepared.
Scott doesn't even acknowledge Zechariahs, waking his wand towards the trunk by his side and releasing the Snitch. Harry watches it buzz away.
At Scott's word, Harry kicks himself off the ground. This feeling is all-too-familiar, and Harry follows his instinct, circling the pitch slowly, noticing only vaguely as the Chasers now take flight, beginning their practice. He looks around for Draco, noticing his diving towards the ground. Harry's heart skips a beat, wondering if he'll make it to the Snitch in time, but he sees that Malfoy is just avoiding a Quaffle.
''Fuck off, Smith!!''
''Suck my -''
Zechariahs stops, looking dead ahead. Harry's reflexes are quick, and he speeds towards him, almost causing Zachariahs to topple off his broom as Harry flies past.
Harry absently expects to feel the rush as Draco catches up too him, but he is much too focused on the Snitch to realise that he isn't there. Following the little winged ball around the pitch, it takes Harry a matter of seconds before the Snitch is in his hand, held in victory over his head.
He looks down expected, ready for praise and adoration. But Scott isn't looking at Harry. In fact, his eyes are on Draco, who wades there in mid-flight, the only one actually staring at Harry.
''What the fuck are you doing, Malfoy?'' Scott sounds furious.
Draco points. ''He caught the Snitch.''
''You - you haven't moved!!''
Harry's hand falls to his side, feeling less and less impressed by his own victory. Everyone in the team has stopped to watch.
''I'm tired.'' Draco's voice is flat, empty of emotion. He is still looking at Harry.
Scott is speechless now. ''Uh ... Well ... Harry - I - I guess you're our Seeker...?''
A girl next to Harry squeals, dropping the Quaffle she held and throwing her arms around Harry in congratulations. But Harry, as with everyone else, is too confused to notice, watching as Draco takes a dive for the orange ball, snatching it out of someone's grasp. Then, without any hesitation he pegs it, as hard as he can, hitting Zechariahs Smith square in the nose.
Scott's mouth drops open and everyone stares. Even Draco himself looks surprised.
''Someone give Malfoy another Quaffle!'' Scott pays no attention to Zechariahs' bleeding nose or loud protests, continuing, ''Malfoy, half pitch. Get to Quaffle through those goals.''
Draco makes no protest, grabbing the big, orange ball, but looking doubtful. He cruises slowly to the middle of the Quidditch pitch, hovering carefully as he studies the distance and height. His eyes sparkle with concentration for a moment. Then he throws the ball.
It flies past everyone, smooth and steady handed. Its speed, the force he puts into it, sends it flying smoothly through the hoop and creates a roar from all spectators.
Harry's annoyed, landing next to Scott and opening his mouth to speak.
''We have our first Chaser,'' Scott beams, scribbling on his clipboard.
Harry clamps his mouth shut, staunching off towards the stands where Hermione waits patiently. Her eyes are glittering with curiosity, but one look at Harry's face tells her right away not to ask a thing about the incident.
''How did you -''
She's drowned out by running footsteps and a squeal. Harry turns just in time to see Ginny approaching, before she jumps up on him, bringing him closely into her. Hermione stands, taken aback and slightly hurt, as she sees Ron dwadling behind. She knows the siblings would have seen her standing there - she was practically the only other person on the stands. And she knows that they knew she would be here, watching Harry.
And Ginny hasn't even looked at her yet.
Both her and Ron stand awkwardly to the side, as Harry and Ginny now indulge themselves in kissing. Hermione pointedly avoids Ron's eye, watching as Draco lands, talking to Scott before making his way towards the four. For a moment, Hermione feels her heart pause as they make eye contact. She wants to congratulate him, but she's afraid to move. He smirks at her, winking.
Hermione blushes and looks away, smiling to herself. Ron looks from Hermione to Draco, a frown on his face and a scowl forming.
She looks up again in time to see Draco walking off with Astoria. She can feel Ron moving closer. Her breath is trapped, and she can't help stepping back.
''I miss you, Hermione.''
She looks up at him. The way he stares, the look he gives her sends uncomfortable shivers down her spine. It has only been two weeks but he is already a forgotten, unwanted memory in her mind. Childhood friends should never get together, she shouldn't have guessed otherwise. He is all too familiar.
With a quick ''Thanks'' Hermione turns and runs down the stairs, away from the pitch and away from her lifelong friends. She soon finds herself in an almost empty courtyard - almost empty because directly across from her stands none other than Draco and Astoria. She can tell, despite her distance away from them, that they are both distressed - Astoria stands with her arms folded, and Draco is leaning slightly back, snarling at her.
Hermione quickly dives behind a column, not wanting to disturb, afraid they will see her. She can find no way out unless she was to make her way back to Ron. She plants her feet on the ground. Hermione can hear the engaged couple clearly, and is relieved to notice that it is the end of their conversation.
''I'm still deciding.''
His voice is hard and cold, and even Hermione can't help but squirm uncomfortable, imagining how cold his eyes must be. She feels a pang of guilt and embarrassment for intruding like this.
''You can't decide on whether you love me or not!'' Astoria screams, indignant. Hermione hears her voice growing distant, and peaks around to see Astoria walking away.
''Well!'' Draco shouts. ''I you weren't so easy for everyone else it would be a lot easier for me!''
Hermione blushes. The courtyard is silent, and she stands there, watching Draco from behind the pillar, waiting for him to leave. Ten minutes pass by, and he still makes no movement. Eventually, Hermione gets bored and tired, trying her best to put on a neutral expression. She walks out.
''Oh, hi!'' Her voice is as fake, and Draco smirks over at her with a knowing stare. Bugger.
''I was waiting for you to come out from behind there.''
She bites down on her lip, shrugging apologetically. She has nothing to say, and she feels ridiculous. Hermione walks up to him, and for a while he just stares at her, leaning casually on his broom. She can feel Draco studying her. She attempts to make her face a mask. For a while she even thinks it works, and forgets all about Ron.
''Are you okay?''
Hermione shakes her head. Is her face that obvious? It disturbs her to think that she is so exposed that even Draco Malfoy can read her discomfort from being around Ron.
He shrugs, taking a few steps away. It takes her a while to realise that he is waiting for her to follow. She quickly catches up, flustered and wary. They walk their way through the Academy, up the stairs and through the winding corridors, saying not a word to one another. They don't pay attention to anyone, lost in their own world.
Hermione's thoughts remain on Ron.
She doesn't understand what went wrong. She knows that Ron was taken aback and upset to find out that he couldn't live with her at college; but to act the way he had? She found it unfair. He could have told her a month ago it was over. He could have made it easier for Hermione to re-adjust to life. Now she has lost her best and only friend, and with that she can feel herself loosing contact with Harry. She has no one. Does she really just want to live with books and quills and parchment all her life?? She is desperate - he has ruined everything, all too soon. And now he expects her to miss him?!
If only she could feel that.
Draco stops, and Hermione's nose collides heavily with his shoulder, much too lost in her own thoughts. Without Draco there to direct her, she was sure she would have just walked on forever. Her sniggers as she staggers back.
She glares at him. ''Did you get groceries for dinner today?'' she asks as her stomach growls.
The look on his face tells her everything she needs to know. She sighs, burying her face into her hands. She knows it's ridiculous, but it has always been the little things that cause her to snap. Like when her mother forgot open up her window all summer, and she came home to a musty smelling room covered in dust. Or when Harry forgot to get her essay off Professor Flitwick in second grade when she got sick. Or just when she got sick, actually.
She is led inside the room and sat down. He has an arm around her shoulder.
''I'll take you to dinner. And lunch tomorrow. You don't have to worry ...'' He pauses. She doesn't take her head out of her hands. Tears stream down her wrists. ''Please cheer up.''
She looks up, sobbing and wiping her tears and snot on her robes. She knows its disgusting, but she doesn't really care.
''Go have a shower. You're getting mud everywhere, Malfoy.'' She hiccups. ''And dress nicely ... If you're actually true on your word and taking me out.''
''Stop nagging.'' He stands, unsure whether to laugh for be angry. She can see some of the old Malfoy returning to his features. He wipes the arm that held her as if it had been touched by some disgusting bug. ''You sound like my mother.''
''Pfft.'' Hermione snorts. Though she won't admit it, the conversation starts to lift her spirits. ''Your mother never nagged you, Malfoy.''
''Don't bet on it, Granger.''
He's back in the manor, the taste of Christmas Eve wafting its way up from the kitchens. One of his earliest memories, his mother is bending down, dressing him. ''You're a disgrace to your father and I sometimes, Draco. You are not a true Malfoy until you start displaying some more maturity.''
He shakes his head, landing back into the present. ''What makes you say that?'' he snaps.
Hermione looks at him in disbelief. ''You were a little brat in school!''
He turns and walks away from her, slamming his bedroom door loudly without a word. Hermione sits there in shock and guilt. It was wrong of her to assume like that. She should have actively seeked to hurt his feelings as she did, especially after what she had heard between him and Astoria earlier before. She felt terrible, but also a faint satisfaction that she had gotten to him finally.
She rests her head on the couch armrest, closing her heavy lids as she looks into the fire.
The fire flickers, before the final hour of Christmas is over. She brushes his hand as she reaches over grabbing his Transfiguration homework off him.
Ron, if you concentrated in class, this wouldn't happen, she says. Its her and her annoying voice - Ron just wants to go upstairs into his warm bed, where he can be left alone.
This isn't my idea of a Christmas festivity, comes his angry reply.
She scratches and scribbles without looking up. She's afraid if she does, something might go wrong.
They were just friends, after all. He had always made that very clear to her.
The Gryffindor Common Room starts to fade, and the sweet crackling of the fire turns into a low, husky drawl calling her name. Her eyes want to open, but she is happy where she is. Hermione can feel herself crying again, but she is beyond minding. She misses that room, she misses the times she had there with Ron, Harry, Ginny ... She didn't want it to be gone forever; not even in her dream.
Her eyes flit open, and the form of Malfoy crouches down before her. She sits, rubbing her eyes. How long has she been asleep like that for? Was she drooling? What's the time?
''No, you were only out for about 20 minutes.''
Hermione blinks. She was unaware that she had just spoken aloud, and she begins to blush profusely. The room starts to materialise properly around her, and she is suddenly confronted by Draco's presence.
''Ah...'' She stares, wide-eyed, unable to find words. ''I'm - I'll go get - dressed?''
She jumps up, brushing him away and running into her room, closing the door quickly. The image of his stays strong inherit mind - in those few seconds she has managed to notice every little detail of him. How he was wearing a Muggles (!) suit, one shade darker than the blackest black. How his silver tie reflected off his eyes, shocking her with their incredible intensity. His broad shoulders, white blouse and pale skin. His hair was not ties back tonight, but falling smoothly around his face, a golden blonde.
How he smells sweet and spicy at the same time. There had not been a thing she missed.
Hermione applies her mascara with a shakey hand, and thirty minutes later she makes her way out of the bedroom. For a long while, she just stood their in the kitchen, watching Draco as he read. She doesn't move or make a sound - she is captivated in him.
Eventually he shuts his book and looks over his shoulder for good measure. Draco can't help but smile a little when he sees her.
''Great. Let's go.''
Hermione snatches her clutch off the table, head spinning. She grins back.
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