After that delightful conversation with Hermione, Draco knew nothing could ruin his day. He breezed through his first class, pretending to listen as usual except that the wheels in his head now moved in reverse. Where he used to imagine things like how to serve Lord Voldemort and how to make others miserable, he now thought of conversations with Hermione in his mind’s eye. Draco was a man of many words, but he chose to show it to only those who had hit a home run in his innards. Hermione was the best innards blow yet. Even Pansy’s extraordinary bed tricks disappeared as he thought of Hermione’s smile.
“Oy,“ Blaise whispered to him during their third class for the morning. Draco looked sideways as Professor Sprout droned on with her tales of battles with dangerous plants in India. “You alright?“
“Why?“ Draco muttered back.
“You’re not yourself. “
“How the hell would you bloody know?“
“Your eyes are weird.“
“Pansy might notice and take you away on another rollercoaster wile.“
Draco paused. He had forgotten about that tiny fact. Of course, Pansy’s intuition as a woman was the best he’d seen of yet. Even his mother’s intuition couldn’t match Pansy’s. Pansy would know something was going on if he kept being careless.
“Mr. Zabini? “Professor Sprout called. “Any questions?“
Blaise flashed a smile that made other girls look at him. He was a charmer, Zabini. “I was just wondering…if the plant you were talking about could detect movements made by beings other than humans. “ A stupid question, but it would do the trick.
“Well, yes! Yes of course! It has been known to swallow up local deer whole, now if you remember your basic dangerous plants classifications…” Sprout droned on as Blaise nodded without talking anything into his system.
He looked at Draco once more and noticed that his eyes shifted into a defense mode. The things Draco did to keep things from everyone else…
Classes for the morning had ended now and everyone headed for the Great Hall. It buzzed with activity and laughter as the students and professors ate together for the hour long lunch break. Harry was seated a bit far from Ron and Lavender, the incident of overhearing Lavender and Ron talking about him, still fresh in his mind. He was stuck in between Neville and Ginny.
“Are you and Ron fighting again?“ Ginny whispered, taking a pitcher full of milk and pouring it into her bronze goblet.
Harry shrugged. “Don’t spoil my appetite, please.“
Ginny huffed. “I just want a yes or a no.“
“Isn’t it obvious?“
“If this is about Hermione again-“
“No, it’s not,“ Harry replied firmly as Neville grabbed for some strips of fish with gravy in front of them.
“Want some?“ Neville asked good-naturedly.
Harry shook his head politely. “You take it. I just want a sandwich.“
Ginny shook her head, apparently irritated with the happenings between Harry and her older brother. Things weren’t so good after the bad breakup Ron and Hermione had. She wasn’t too keen with Lavender as her prospective sister-in-law. She had seen it coming though, that it would create some rift between the ‘Golden Trio’s’ supposedly solid friendship. Perhaps if she found a way to bring them back together, maybe things would be normal again...of course Lavender would be a challenging obstacle to her thoughts. She was never really that familiar with Lavender and had preferred Hermione a thousand times over upon knowing that her ‘loyal’ brother had replaced Hermione.
She looked at Harry again as Harry eyed Lavender and Ron whispering something in each other’s ear. She took a bowl full of green salad and placed it in front of Harry’s nose. “Eat something else aside from that stupid sandwich.“
Harry frowned and took the bowl and placed it in front of him. He chewed down a forkful of greens with Italian dressing.
“I don’t want you getting into more fights,“ Ginny told him quietly as she watched Lavender and Ron a few feet away from where they were sitting.
“Ginny, I can’t stand the thought that we’re being replaced,“ he said, giving emphasis to the last word.
“Well, I’m not replacing you anytime. I’m a redhead that’ll hang about,“ she said, miffed at his comment.
Harry turned to her and gave a small grin. “Sorry, Gin.“
Harry elbowed her jokingly as he ate more of the salad Ginny gave him. You could always count on the only female Weasley to turn things around for you. They had broken up a year ago due to concerns on Voldemort and his Deatheaters. He had even contemplated of not attending his last year but a change of plans had come, circumstances allowed Hogwarts to still remain relatively safe under Professor McGonagall’s strict but warm guidance. Ginny still had a soft spot in his heart and vice versa, although they were never an official couple even since September’s opening. It was something Harry was contented at, their special friendship and all, as was Ginny.
Ginny smiled at him. “I’m glad to see your pearly whites flashing in front of my eyes.“
A few hundred feet across, the Slytherin table was full of prattling, Draco listening halfheartedly to Pansy’s complaints on the fattening Hogwarts food, to which he wished he could hex her to muteness.
“Honestly, Draco, all this whipped cream for dessert is making me unfit.“
“Complain then,“ he sighed, unable to get Hermione’s face out of his mind. He wondered what tomorrow would bring- if they would get into another heated argument just like what had happened earlier. “Like those bloody elves would change the recipes.“
“I hope they would. Our house elf cooks better than these stupid Hogwarts elves,“ she said twirling a bit of her dark hair.
Draco said nothing as he gulped down a glass full of water. Pansy was getting increasingly boring. He wondered how he could break it to her that he had found someone more suitable for him…well of course he would break his silence when he was ready to lose it all, his family and friends…but he had an inkling it would never happen, if it did…he would make Hermione pay for his losses. Such was his pattern of thinking, a mixture of denial, fear and excitement. He had never felt more alive in his whole life than this moment, even without her around.
He saw her breeze into the Great Hall at the corner of his eye and he resisted the urge to gaze at her. Instead his grip on his goblet considerably tightened and so did his muscles. He felt tense all of a sudden. He wasn’t supposed to feel tense.
Hermione made her way down to the Gryffindor area, not bothering to look at the Slytherin table for fear that she might laugh and cause a commotion. She sat across Harry and Ginny, deliberately not looking at Ron’s and Lavender’s direction. She smiled as she sat down, resisting the urge to giggle.
“You’re in high spirits,“ Ginny remarked.
“Tests have been good,“ she replied without a blink.
“Tests are always good for you,“ Neville groaned.
“If you studied-“ Hermione began.
Harry laughed and shoved a bowl full of salad in front of her. “Eat. Please eat. Don’t talk and don’t talk.“
Hermione laughed and took the bowl from him. “I will, don’t worry.“
“I hope you did your homework for Potions,“ Harry said. “Cause I didn’t.“
“Best be thankful that Snape isn’t the Potions professor anymore,“ Ginny said with a frown.
Harry looked at her and sighed, remembering the awful night that Snape had raised arms and stormed Hogwarts with his fellow Deatheaters, killing Dumbledore in the process. He shook his head. “Evokes bad memories, Gin. “
“Sorry,“ Ginny quickly said, holding his shoulder for a second.
“That’s done,“ Hermione said, looking at Harry’s eyes, wondering if he still felt some sense of loss after a full year behind them. “I’d rather you concentrate on what you want to be after we graduate from Hogwarts. “
“Auror,“ Ginny immediately replied proudly. “I’m going to be the best Auror yet.“
“You have one more year Gin,“ Harry reminded her.
“I’m planning,“ she quipped with a smile. “What about you, Hermione?“
Hermione shrugged. “I don’t really know.“
Harry gave a mock look of distress. “Hermione Granger doesn’t know?”
“Really, Harry. All my options are open. I might become a dentist like my folks.“
“Dentist? “Ginny repeated. “That’s the muggle one that makes teeth nice, right? “
“That too,“ Hermione replied with a smile.
“But you don’t want to look at horrible teeth for the rest of your life, do you? Where’s the bloody action in that?“ Ginny said.
“As I’ve said, all options are open,“ Hermione told her mildly.
There was a sudden burst of laughter coming from Lavender and Ron’s area. They were giggling like mad and Ginny and Harry found them selves frowning.
“Honestly, of all the tacky things to do,“ Ginny muttered, afraid that Hermione might be depressed from the commotion.
But Hermione gave no reaction whatsoever. She was busy taking out a book now and reading it as she ate her salad. Harry eyed her and saw nothing strange going on with her. It seemed that she had made a barricade to prevent hurt from entering and she was doing well at pretending she never noticed a thing.
Draco saw everything without even paying much attention. Laughter from the new couple, Harry’s look of concern, Ginny’s look of empathy and Hermione’s innate way of handling sudden pressure, suddenly all seemed like some pleasurable movie playing in front of him. He almost smiled and then he remembered Blaise’s perceptions and decided to be apathetic instead. He bloody wanted to kill Ron Weasley and torture Lavender for causing Hermione emotional discomfort, the bloody-
“I’m glad,“ Pansy interrupted his thoughts. “The redheaded Weasel finally coercing with someone of pureblood…your distant cousin’s picking up his mistakes-“
Draco looked at Pansy’s smile of nastiness and he gave out his own trademark smirk. “Is that what you think?“
“Well, that Granger’s probably not good with anything other than schoolwork, “ Pansy added. “I don’t think she even got shagged, yet.“
Blaise laughed, hearing her comment. “True, too true, Pansy.“
“Plus she’s in desperate need of…how do you call this….a make-over,“ she sniggered, waiting for Draco to laugh.
He just smiled.
Pansy still felt encouraged to go on. Draco had always been amused with her side comments about the trio that annoyed him the most. Besides, she liked to see him smile, knowing she was useful. “She’s also in need-“
“Quiet,“ Draco suddenly said harshly.
Pansy’s eyes widened a bit, even Blaise’s. They were enjoying Pansy’s remarks, weren’t they? Draco was enjoying it…right?
He suddenly stood up and walked away from them, trying to control his brows from furrowing, successfully maintaining his stoic face.
“He’s not mad is he?“ Pansy’s voice faltered.
“Just another mood swing,“ Blaise said grimly, suddenly missing the presence of Crabbe and Goyle who took most of Draco’s mood swings into their system than Pansy. Of course, the lumbering imbeciles were implicated in the great battle that took place a year ago in Hogwarts. Only Draco had gotten away without so much as a good hex, thanks to ‘daddy’s’ connections. Blaise had thought Draco was Voldemort’s last line of attack into the realm once more.
“Well- where is he going?“ her voice faltered.
Blaise shrugged. “Go after him, he’s your boyfriend,“ he said, emphasizing the last word.
Pansy gave him a hot glare and then stood up to follow Draco who was already past the Great Hall’s doors. “Dray,“ she called out, walking quickly for him.
She reached Draco past four columns already and held a hand on his shoulder. “Something- wrong?“
“You always think something’s wrong?“ Draco retorted, not looking at her. Her hand still lingered on his shoulder and he did not bother to brush it off.
She took away her hand. “I- I don’t know. You love me don’t you?“
“What kind of a bloody question is that?“
“It’s a question! “ her voice raised. “Do you have to ask me a question to answer my question?“
He turned to face her and glared at her. “I want to be alone.“
“You can’t be alone! You have me,“ Pansy told him, ready to cry again. She grabbed Draco’s face and kissed him fully on the lips. Draco’s eyes widened, not because of Pansy’s kiss, but because he saw- he saw Hermione a few feet away from Pansy. He stepped back just as Hermione spun around to walk down the other way.
Pansy looked up to him, not noticing who was at her back. “See? You can’t be alone. You can feel me, tell me if you’re in pain Draco and I’ll help you to the best I can. If this is about that-“
“No,“ he finally said, suddenly feeling defeated. “It’s just- I’m tired, Pansy.“ And it was all he said as Pansy took his hand once more to lead him into the Great Hall.
He did not protest.
Hermione’s heart pounded and she tried to reason with herself. “It’s true,“ she thought. “We are nothing together. He deserved that kiss from Pansy- Pansy is his beau, his future consort, his sex associate, “ she thought, disgusted. And she felt deeply restless inside, though she still held her head high from fear that she her heart would hurt. “I won’t be had for sex. I won’t be had for his selfishness. I won’t be stupid enough to fall for his slimy words or his actions. His kisses may be better than Ron’s… what the hell- no I can’t compare him to Ron…Ron’s sweet, Draco…he possesses me…he’s taking every inch of me into- stop it, Hermione!“
She had seen him leave, wondered if he was upset for some reason. She had waited for a few seconds, seriously trying to read a few sentences from her book, not noticing that Pansy had slipped out too, for Draco.
The kiss was what proved it all. She knew it. Felt it deep inside. Draco was never for her. Such a foolish romantic notion from a bruised girl like her…well, she shouldn’t have the need to consider herself bruised. She was as strong as any lady could get- no, she was as strong as any witch that was hurt could get. It was all a matter of knowing how to turn things around to favor her. But she felt disoriented- just a bit. That little scene made her stomach roil and her heart palpitate in aching.
Well, fuck Draco Malfoy, she thought derisively. “There are other better kissers than him.”
It was all just a bloody Draco Malfoy kiss. And suddenly that mattered now. How could she not have seen this coming? That she would hurt? And she felt self pity seeping through her pores. And she tried to stop it, but did not have the strength.
This was a chess game. Draco Malfoy was using her as pawn in his own team. Wait- the queen always ruled and that queen would be Pansy. She was the speck of dust on Draco’s shoe. He would never pay attention to her. She was a few seconds worth of derision and she would be wiped off of his shiny, expensive shoes…
She was going to forget this stupid game. Attraction was attraction and it should stay that way. Why think of possibilities for love? Love couldn’t be renewed. It either went or stayed. She was a firm believer in truth and truth was in the form of Pansy sucking Draco’s lips dry.
It wasn’t love. It wasn’t going to be love at all.
A/N: Thank you for reading. Now give me some fanfiction love. ^^