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Chapter 4 : It's in Our Hands
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He was smiling, whistling as he headed away from her. All in a day’s work… That was how to do it. Tease the lass; make her hate him so that she’d love him insufferably. All it took was a little annoyance. Anytime now, anytime…Draco counted to ten slowly in his head, still smiling all the while.
One. Two. Three. Four.
Hermione stood up, holding her fists on each side, wishing that he’d never been born. Her eyes clouded over with the humiliation and fury mingled in it now.
Five. Six. Seven.
She took a step forward, ready to berate him for being so selfish, for being so callous, for being so- unbearable!
He was ready to turn around, tease her again for falling for that ploy so quickly, knowing the look on her face. Anger suited her. Nothing better than a bookworm filled with rage. It was a major turn-on.
He spun around and saw…no one was there. The bloody miscalculation?! He glared at the empty spot where he expected Hermione to be. She wasn’t there! The bloody Granger wasn’t there! What the hell-!
He fumed now, knowing she had hit back at him for such a lowlife conduct. He felt his anger grow, as his cheeks reddened with the realization that she had gotten back at him. Instead of her at his mercy, it had turned the other way around!
He searched for her of course, ready to get even- but she was nowhere within his rage now. She might have gone into another area to escape him, laughing her little adorable ass off. He cursed and swore and wished she’d turn into a louse for such an act! In the end, there was nothing he could do. And he left the area feeling his ego bruised to black and blue.
Damn you, Hermione.
She knew it was a ploy to get her self-esteem jangled up. Boy, he was good at it. How she hated him. But still, she couldn’t help but admire him. No one challenged her before. Something Draco did- never occurred with the other boys she had dated, not even with Ron. It was infuriating but fun, somehow. And she couldn’t help (yet again), but be drawn to it. Draco was Draco. A simple looking person with a very complex personality... He acted like a prince, acted like he owned everyone. That was his aim for her. He kissed her to possess her. But Hermione had plans up her sleeve. He wasn’t the only one who could use and abuse.
Perhaps, it was having her heart broken that Hermione responded with such fury at having to annoy Draco and seeing him go sallow and sour. Perhaps, it was betrayal that made Hermione want to see if she could play with someone else’s emotions. The person that had come close to that description was Draco. But it was harder than she thought. Right, a challenge, she reminded herself. It was a lighthearted challenge, nothing that included life and death…well maybe a few hexes in the near future and bloody lips, but no death involved. Hermione could see him bending before her in her mind’s eye. It was fun to imagine things with a person who amused one’s irritation.
Damn you, Draco.
She had reached the wooden walkway, connecting to another entrance into Hogwarts, and he saw a brooding figure, brows furrowed and eyes concentrated in thought. It was a look that earned him a growing fan base, much to the young man’s annoyance. He looked up and his eyes danced with relief to see her.
“Hermione,“ he said, facing to meet her.
She nodded. “Hello Harry. “
His green eyes looked into her brown ones. “Are you alright?" he said cautiously.
She smiled at him convincingly. “Never been better.“
There was something that alerted Harry in her movements. She was agitated…or was she? Perhaps…she was hiding something. Every instinct in Harry told him something wasn’t right. But of course, he couldn’t prove it right away. And Hermione was speaking to him now. But there was a good improvement. She had smiled. That was what mattered now. It was a home run for a mended friendship, well; at least that was how he saw it.
“Yes, I’m sure.“
“I’m sorry,“ Harry quickly said.
Hermione blinked, a bit surprised by his sudden apology. She looked at his troubled green eyes now, guilt playing along the hues of green.
“I’m- I just tried to play on the safe side…I didn’t want to hurt you and I didn’t want to betray Ron too. I know it was stupid but I can’t stand the idea of the three of us being separated by something that’s trivial compared to Voldemort.“
She smiled a bit. Ah, Harry’s pattern of thinking. She had wondered why she couldn’t stay angry at Harry for long and then she knew it was never in Harry’s character to betray people he respected. She wondered how long this peace between them would last- before Ron and Lavender would mess it up again. Well, how negative of her, but who gave an arse about it?
“It’s okay Harry,“ she said slowly. “I hope it doesn’t happen again.“
“It won’t,“ he said firmly. “It’s just that- I can’t stand the three of us not being….three.“
She nodded grimly, trying to understand that she and Ron were friends first, before they became lovers. But she wished- she suddenly, violently wished that she had never fallen for Ron during their fourth year. Suddenly, the special moments she had spent with Ron while they were still together, now seemed like a bad dream to her. There was never a ‘them’, never an ‘us’. He had liked Lavender beforehand. She was just a trial and error for Ron. She then smiled at Harry.
“It’s okay, Harry, really “
“Well, I’m a bit tired of thinking today,“ she said with a smile.
He laughed gaily and shook her hair with one hand.
She laughed and fixed her hair. “You know Harry, my hair is a big part of me, she began.
“Doesn’t look hideous at all, trust me, “ he grinned at her. “Are you still using that hair thing?“
She shook her head. “No, thank Merlin. It’s all natural now. “ She smiled at him and then the uncomfortable silence came in without warning.
“Do you hate Ron? “ Harry asked in one breath.
Her head snapped up. She clutched the wooden rail in front of her without meaning to. It was as if she was trying to find support. “Hate is a strong word, Harry, “ she finally said.
“Is it?“ Harry said, unable to look at her.
“Let’s not discuss this. It’s going to ruin our newly patched-up friendship, she sighed. “Harry, honestly, I’d like to kill Ron, but that’s all I’ll say for now. “
Harry nodded. “Want to get some cookies with me? I’m up for cookies and hot cocoa from the elves- and don’t say anything related to S.P.E.W.
She had awoken early again, just like the previous days. It seemed that her body clock had changed, as had her moods. She always woke up before five in the morning and listened to the feminine snores of her roommates for a few minutes before venturing out for her morning rituals.
She stood up and took her bathrobe and towel and headed for the common bathroom within their room. The warm water refused to wake her so she stood still, allowing herself to be soaked, thinking of nothing. She got out about ten minutes later, stirring a roommate.
“Bloody Mary, Hermione. Get some sleep, the roommate mumbled, burying her head into the sheets once more.
Hermione said nothing and she watched her roommate fall asleep again, against the dim light coming from the windows. She decided to wear her uniform and to take an early morning walk in around the lake. Classes wouldn’t start until eight-thirty in the morning. Plenty of spare time to feel self-pity and hatred…she had bad dreams, really, she did. Sometimes they were about Ron and her, breaking up in front of the whole school, and everyone mocked her till she cried blood. Who could sleep again with such a dream? She definitely couldn’t.
She used one of the back entrances and made her way down a little slope, landing in Hagrid’s vegetable patch. She could hear his snores reverberating throughout his little hut, along with the snores of his outsized dog.
It was a cold morning and she could feel the cold air seeping through her layers of clothing. She rubbed her gloved hands together rapidly, as she made her way down and into a small patch of trees. The sun had just begun to rise, covering the sky with hues of light pink and purple.
She suddenly felt a whole lot better than when she had taken her shower. Nature healed, she thought, remembering Madame Pomfrey’s words during her fourth year in Hogwarts. For Hermione Granger, solitary walks were a refuge. Trees wouldn’t betray you, grass wouldn’t spit at you and snow wouldn’t scar your heart. She kept walking, hugging herself, not minding her surroundings, only the ground she stepped on.
And then she bumped into something- or someone.
He looked up, glaring at her for disturbing his peace, his asylum of being unaccompanied. And he saw her eyes, mirroring his own. They both wanted peace. And peace was achieved through being alone. But they weren’t so alone now…
“What the hell are you doing here?“ he spat out.
“N-nothing,“ she stammered, apparently shocked by seeing him. “What the hell are you doing here?“
He didn’t look at her. “I wanted some time alone,“ he mumbled. “You can’t get that in the dormitory.“
She nodded, internally agreeing to what he had just told her. He stared at her for a bit, just a bit and then he turned away again.
“Did you mean it? “ she asked. “When- when you kissed me yesterday...“
“I bloody meant everything.“
“You don’t have to be so angry.“
“Your tone says otherwise.“
“So what if it does?“ he snapped.
“Don’t be like that. Stop trying to be difficult.“
“I thought you liked a challenge.“
“It gets tiring after a while. Can you stand being angry forever?“
“I’ve been like this for eighteen years and no one cared a bloody shite about it.“
“Well, now someone does.“
“Bloody holy grail, Hermione! Stop getting to me.“
“I thought you wanted me to get to you.“
“I- I do! But-“
“You’re- this- this is torture!“
“You said my name,“ she finally said.
He looked at her again and then sighed. “So what if I did? That’s your name, right?“
“I was expecting ‘Mudblood’.“
“You were expecting everything mean. I’m not feeling mean today," he said without much kindness.
“That’s thoughtfulness from you,“ Hermione said wryly.
His head snapped up, his silvery eyes glaring at her. “What the bloody hell is wrong with you? I’m trying to communicate effectively to you!“
Hermione stared at him for a few seconds and then she started laughing hysterically. Draco’s rage fueled as her laughter rang through his ears, reverberating happiness and exasperation. Then to his surprise, the corners of his mouth twitched and then he began laughing too. It took them a few more seconds to laugh before it gradually died down, leaving them in an awkward state of quiet, eased only by diminutive smiles from both parties.
“I like you, Granger,“ he finally said.
“Like, as in you’ve found a new form of respect for me? Or- like, as in you think I’m the best example of what a witch is supposed to be and you’ve just realized that now?“
“Both,“ he grinned.
“Fine, I like you too,“ she retorted with a smirk.
“We’re not exactly friends now, are we?“
“Friends…that word is funny. I think of everyone as either my ally or my enemy.“
“Am I your ally then?“
“I suppose you could be more than that. Would you betray me in the future?" he asked her brusquely.
“It’s the future, I wouldn’t know. It could be the other way around.“
“Trust me, you won’t have the guts to betray me.“
“Here we go again with your inflated blonde ego.“
He laughed. “That wasn’t half bad for a muggle joke.“
“I’m still a witch.“
“It wasn’t a bad joke, then.“
“Why did you hate me?“
“You think I don’t hate you now?“ he replied with a smile. He saw her eyes and her serious demeanor and he sighed. “Who couldn’t hate you? You were everything Slytherin wanted in a student, a person. And you just had to be a goody-two shoes and a Gryffindor. Honestly, if I were the Sorting Hat, I’d put you in my house, you’d be ruthless…the epitome of everything nasty and cunning.“
“Thank Merlin, then.“
“Why Ron Weasel? I mean, Weasley?“
She looked at her shoes for a moment, slowly moving for a large root from an oak tree to sit on. He took a seat near her, using another overgrown root. She sighed and looked at him for a bit.
“Because he was nice. He still is- I know some part of that niceness still exists.“
“He’s a bloody fraud.“
“I loved that bloody fraud.“
“I told you to stop loving him.“
“I don’t want you hurting for him. Anymore, his voice turned low, almost like a snarl and a whisper of aggravation.
“You’re the worst liar I’ve ever met.“
“You’re the worst truth I’ve ever seen.“
He laughed again and she gave a tiny smile. “I hate it when you’re better than me, nobody should be better than me.“
“Aside from trying to be better than me, what do you intend to do with our friendship?“
“You really think we’re friends?“
“Well, you’re talking to me in a civilized manner- and you were laughing at my jokes…so yeah…I guess we are.”
“And that led you to think we’re friends? “ His brow rose up a bit. “I’d like to think of you as mine, though. I like being selfish.“
“Like I’m an object?“ Hermione said, an eyebrow raised now.
“You’re going to be my sex object,“ Draco said nonchalantly. “Every time I’m going to ask for sex in the future, you’re going to object.“
“Did you just say a joke?“ she said, unable to contain her laughter.
“Depends on how you saw it," he replied seriously. “You kiss better than Pansy,“ he added without much of an afterthought.
Hermione’s eyes narrowed a bit. What the hell did he mean by that? He was comparing her to Pansy now? If she didn’t know any better-
“I’m not comparing you to her. It’s just a fact. I’m not acting partial and I’m not inflating your self-esteem,“ he said. “How would you like to have another round of this tomorrow morning?“
“Round of what? This senseless talking?“
“This is the senseless kind of talking that you would approve of, Draco told her. “I’m sure you’d like to get to know more of my Slytherin qualities, as I would like to get to know more of yours.“
“No cheapskate tricks? No Draco vices?“
“There’s a new type of vice now?" he said, laughing. “Draco vices…sounds nasty, Granger. I wish I’d be that notorious to have a vice named after me.“
“I’m serious. Cross my good old silver heart and hope to die a most horrible death if I ever do make a pass on you.“
“Should I shake your hand to seal that?“
“I prefer you kissing me.”
He extended his hand with another grin on his sly mouth as she extended hers reluctantly. They shook hands and he held her hand in his for awhile.
“Let go,“ Hermione hissed.
“I’m flirting passively with you."
“There’s no such thing as passive flirting!“
“It’s a Draco Malfoy vice.“
Hermione began to laugh. She now had him eating at the palm of her hand.
A/N: I look forward to your reviews. thank you for continually reading this story. I know having no BETA is not an excuse to have typos/errors, but i really don't have one and have tried although no one responded. lol. so yes, do give me a bit of your fanfiction love if you found this story likeable.
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