Chapter 9 : Underneath the Skin
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Monday morning had come around quickly after I’d spent much of Sunday afternoon studying, being the self confessed nerd that I was. I woke early and left my dorm for breakfast, I skipped along the corridor humming to myself, I'd had a decent night’s sleep the previous night, the first one in a long time. I arrived at the doors to the Great Hall and my heart started pounding. Draco has asked me to sit with him the previous afternoon, as I had studied into the night the thought had slipped from my mind. I hadn't seen him as I left the common room and as I entered the Great Hall I noticed that his white blonde hair was missing from the rows of students as I made my way to a deserted part of the Gryffindor table, somewhat glad for the chance to sit alone. Sometimes I was glad for company but today I needed to think. I absently piled a bowl full of a crunchy cereal and I kept looking up after every bite for Draco to enter the hall. Halfway through my bowl I realised I was eating a cereal I normally couldn't stand eating, it was Ron's favourite though I noted nostalgically, it was kind of ironic how that happened. I swirled my spoon around in the now soggy mush, students were filing in and out of the hall. The groggy looks of most of their faces told me that most of them had had a big weekend in one way or another. I saw Ginny walk in and sit at the other end of the table and even from the distance I was, I could tell she was a lot paler than normal. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but after our little spat I didn't know how well that would go down. Luna walked up to her and put an arm around her and steered her out of the Hall after they both consume whatever food had taken their fancy on this, chilly Monday morning. It felt as if life at Hogwarts was unaware of my existence, like I was invisible to the workings around me.
Twenty minutes passed and still no sign of Draco. My cereal was now so soggy it was past the point of ingestion and with a sigh I stood up, hauling my usual heavy bag of books over my shoulder. I was the first to arrive at Arithmancy, it didn't surprise me at all and I settled into my favourite seat by the window of the East Tower classroom. The rest of my class, all eight of us, slowly trickled in as the minutes ticked by. Draco was the last to arrive and I felt his body's warmth as he slid down next to me. I wanted to ask him why he hadn't been at breakfast and for once my brain told my curiosity to wait. I robotically flicked through my book, waiting for him to acknowledge me. The silence was killing me though as my hand went through the motions of casting my cursive script onto parchment as the lesson dragged on.
Sixty, long, painful minutes later the bell rang and I watched as Draco hurriedly packed up his things and was gone as quickly as he had come. A small square of parchment fell to the ground in his flurry to leave, I picked it up and an unfamiliar handwriting stared up at me. It was a female's handwriting that much was obvious to me.
We need to talk. I think you knew this was coming and there is no more avoiding it.
I'll come to your common room at 8.30pm tonight. Be there or my father will hear about it.
It almost sound like she was threatening Draco, then again she was a Slytherin so I wouldn't put it past her, I laughed a little at her 'my father' line, something I'd heard him say so often being turned on himself, oh how times had changed! I walked with a slight spring in my step, ready to confront him in our common room during our short morning break.
I whispered the password when I reached the portrait; I had twenty minutes before my next class started so I hoped he would be inside. I stepped inside as the portrait swung shut behind me.
"Oh there you are Draco" I said with a sickly sweet voice, where it had come from I had no idea. He was lounging on one of the couches by the fire as it roared, warming the room in the chilly wintery air. "Seen as dearest Astoria is coming over tonight, I assume you'd like it if my mudbloodness was absent so I don't foul up the purity of the room for the darling Miss Greengrass"
"What are you talking about Hermione?"
"Had it slipped your mind to tell me she was coming around for a rendezvous? I, at least let you know when I’m having friends around, not that I have any to invite round these days."
"What has gotten into you? You're never this moody over trivial things? And don’t refer to yourself with that foul word."
"Oh so it's just a trivial thing, none of my business then."
"Are you jealous?"
"Me? Jealous? Of who? Astoria? Why would I be jealous?"
"Then why are you all worked up about this?"
"You could have at least told me she was coming"
"You've never cared when I've had Blaise over without telling you"
"But that's Blaise, this is Astoria, he's male, she's female, I don't want to be around when you get up to whatever you get up to."
"What if I told you I was gay with Blaise?"
"I know you're not so why even bring it up?"
"’Cause if I was you'd still be jealous now wouldn't you?"
"I'm not jealous, get over yourself."
"Then what's the fuss?"
"You should have told me you were having her over."
"She invited herself"
"You still could have told me"
"Why does it matter so much?"
"I just appreciate being aware of these things, so that I know to avoid the common room for a few hours or perhaps indefinitely."
He stood up and came over to me as I had hardly moved since I had entered the common room. He put his hands on my shoulders.
“What’s got your wand in a knot? It’s only Astoria, what’s she going to do? Turn your copy of Hogwarts, A History into a tea cosy because frankly I doubt she’d even be able to do that, if it was Daphne then it might be in danger, but its Astoria... I think even Longbottom is more talented than her.”
“It’s not that” I muttered.
“Then what is it Hermione? Spit it out.” He was rather commanding as his grey eyes pierced mine, he was a good foot taller than me so he towered over me. “It is that time of the month for you?” He added with a little bit of a smile.
“You can’t just ask a girl that!” I spluttered, my face burning with embarrassment.
“Well I just did and it’s only us around, what’s the problem?”
“You just don’t ask that! You can assume whatever you like but you don’t ask!”
“I wanted to know why you were so moody today and it seemed like a logical answer.”
“So just because I’m ‘moody’ it’s obviously my time of the month, I can’t just be annoyed at you or angry at you or anything like that because you didn’t tell me you were inviting your girlfriend over for some alone time so I could make sure I don’t interrupt.”
“You’d be in your room, you wouldn’t be interrupting if I was having alone time with my girlfriend, by you know, I’d actually need a girlfriend in the first place. AS I told you before, she invited herself over.”
“Whatever” I replied, stepping away from him marching up to my room to grab my potions book for my next class. When I came back down he hadn’t moved.
“Why don’t you believe me?” He said, his grey eyes were cold as I met them with my brown ones
“Why would I?”
“After everything we’ve been through together?”
“What exactly have we been through together?”
“All those nights you cried yourself to sleep as I sat by your bed, my nightmares that you helped to lessen, just talking about the war and our friends and families, or rather what is left of them. Remember that rant of yours, that I should just walk away like everyone else had and I didn’t walk away from you.”
“I’ve hardly cried myself to sleep” I denied biting my lip, though I knew the truth, twenty seven nights in total he’d been by my bedside, holding my hand as I sobbed and shook and in return for eighteen nights I’d been there to comfort him as he screamed out, Voldemort and death haunting him like a cat stalking a mouse.
“You really are the worst liar Hermione.”
“We’re getting nowhere with this, I’m just going to forget any of this ever happened and if I don’t come back tonight you’ll know I’ve gone to the Gryffindor tower for the night.”
“You wouldn’t go there, not with Ginny not speaking to you, neither Harry or Ron are here, who’s left?”
“I thought we’d agreed to be civil.”
“I’m just pointing out the truth.”
“I’ll talk to Parvati, or Lavender”
“You can’t stand Lavender, ever since 6th year, everyone knows that and I know you think Parvati’s mouth needs an off button.” I gave him a funny look. “Hey, I’m just observant”
“Oh so that’s what you’re going to call it” I said as I pushed past him. “I need to get to class, you might be able to bludge off your parent’s fortunes for the rest of your life but some of us don’t have parents to enjoy that luxury, so if you don’t mind, I’m actually going do something with my life instead of dilly dallying around.”
“Your mood swings are worse that Pansy’s singing abilities! And that’s saying something!” He yelled after me and I guess he was probably right but I didn’t care. Had I honestly achieved something there like I thought I would? Oh hell no, I’d gotten nowhere and I mentally slapped myself, he probably thought I was crazy, some freak and I don’t know why I cared so much about this whole thing.
“He can do whatever he wants with Astoria for all I care” I said aloud as I marched down the corridor and then a realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks. I did care what he did with Astoria. I wanted to know why she wanted to talk to him so much. I wanted to know what was going on, I’m too damn curious for my own good. I continued down the corridor, my surroundings slowly getting greener and colder as I got closer to the dungeons. How the Slytherins endured the torture of living down here I did not know but they were cold, heartless people they were probably used to it anyway.
‘They’re not all cold and heartless’ The rational side of my brain told me, taunting the Gryffindor in me to respond. ‘It’s your mood swings that stop him being kinder to you.’ Sometimes I really hated the logical side of myself. I entered the cold potions classroom shivering slightly. I sat down in my usual seat, third row on the left, second from the centre and methodically set up my equipment as I had done every other potions lesson. The small amount of heat that emulated from my pewter cauldron did little to cancel out the freezing nature of the classroom.
Seamus entered seconds later and sat to my left, as did Dean when he arrived no more than five minutes later. They both nodded to me in acknowledgement and I smiled in return but no further communication was made. Moments like these made me wish for the years before the war, where each class was filled with incessant chatter or gossip about completely irrelevant things. It made me wish for Harry and Ron to be by my side instead of Dean and Seamus, just so I could correct their potions or show them how to cut their ingredients properly, it was an old memory that I treasured. A few moments later Draco walked in and sat at the desk to my right. I rubbed my arms as goosebumps made me shiver.
“Here.” He said, pulling his sweater over his head and passing it to me.
“No, Draco, it’s fine, I’m fine.”
“You can’t hide the fact that you’re cold Hermione, I’ve lived in these dungeons for six years, I’m not going to freeze, but that fire in your heart is starting to die, you might want to put that on.” Everyone around us seemed to be oblivious to our exchange, except for Astoria Greengrass who was shooting daggers at me from the back corner. I pulled it over my head and warmth rushed over my body.
“Thank you” I whispered with a smile and was rewarded with a true smile from him return, it set my stomach on fire, the pure and gentle nature that it emitted in the simple action.
“It’s my pleasure” He replied, the edges of his lips twitching up into a little smirk that made me blush.
Yes, Draco Malfoy was making me, Hermione Granger, blush and not from an insult, hell had truly frozen over and the pigs had begun to fly.
Still don't own anything from the world of HP but yeah, we all know that.
Ok, so I'm so very, very, very, very sorry that it has taken me over a month to get this posted.
Firstly, I've been ridiculously busy with school, its my last year so it's kind of important, and the teacher's expect us to do so much, they seem to forget we do more than one subject! I'd been away a bit too with sport so I'd missed a lot of work that I'm still catching up on hence my slowness to write this chapter.
Secondly, as much as I love them I've had some friend and family troubles so I've been so caught up in that, that it feels like this chapter was really disjointed and if there is anywhere you feel like its really bad feel free to review so I know that and can fix it up and then there is this guy, he's my bestest friend in the whole entire world but he drives me up the wall and round the bend as he constantly wants an editor and critic for his English major work so helping him has put the writing of this story on pause every so very often.
I will endeavour to get the next one done soon but sadly I can't make any promises as preseason soccer has started and I have midcourse exams in four weeks time (yay for me :S )
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING THIS STORY! YOU ROCK!
But I'd love you so much more if you'd leave me a review, I don't care whether you like it or not just tell me!
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