I could feel the air leave my lungs when I stepped into the fireplace at the studio on Sunday and I inhaled deep once again as I stepped out of Professor McGonagall’s fireplace in her office. Home again, I thought briefly before shaking the thought. These weekends to visit my father, as anyone who didn’t know me close would assume they were, really took all the life out of me. I was a dead beat walking on the last wisps of energy leftover from Friday. These weekends weren’t my friend, nor would they ever be.
Professor McGonagall looked up from her place behind her desk and nodded to me. I nodded back and proceeded to exit her office and wind my way back up the few levels to the Portrait of the Fat Lady and Gryffindor Tower and my comfortable four-poster bed that was calling my name. It wasn’t late, just after seven at night, but I was roused too early for my liking. Genevieve and Juan hadn’t protested the evening before at around eleven thirty when my father called for a six in the morning start today. I had been up since before six and on my feet almost all day in various outfits and different shoes. What I needed right now more than anything was a nice hot shower and a comfy bed.
Half-sleeping, half-waking I found my way to the Portrait of the Fat Lady. “Password,” she said in that conceited tone that said she thought she was better than the rest of us just because she had the right to admit or decline entrée of any person. Her mood was not improving mine any.
“Fizzing Whizzbee,” I huffed.
“Wrong!” the Fat Lady chuckled. “Password changed Saturday morning love and you left Friday night, as I recall. I suppose you’ll just have to wait here until someone comes along with the new password or until someone comes out of the tower.”
I leaned against the wall beside the portrait of the high and mighty Fat Lady and smacked my head against the brick. It hurt a little but wasn’t enough to relieve my frustration with my life. I reached down, lifting each foot in turn, removing the stiletto heels I had been wearing all day. I felt the cool marble floors on my bare feet and relished in the feeling. At least that was one small comfort. Small being the operative word. I tilted my head back and looked up at the tall ceilings of the corridors, holding up the next floor and thought about my rotten luck as a human being.
I sometimes doubted that I was even a witch sometimes. My father did all of his business the muggle way and with the way my life ran it didn’t seem any different from an heiress without magic. Magic didn’t seem to have any impact on my life and the direction it was heading. I knew magic was there because I could feel my wand in my inside jacket pocket, and I could see traces of it all around me, the portraits for example, moving about and going on with their business, whatever that might be. But despite the moving pictures around me, I felt as if my life was stationary, unmoving and without purpose.
I needed something to break the monotony in this stale situation I found myself in. Merlin, give me the courage and determination to go through with my plan for Draco. He would definitely break the droning dry pace I was living life at, of that I was certain, but there were a few things in the way. Like that kiss that melted my heart. Like that look of cruelty in his eyes when he’d glared at me. Like the fact I’d thrown him through several bookshelves and ran away from him. These could potentially be deal breakers. I just hoped that I had enough sense to get out before I got in too deep. I was used to taking risks. But the last time I really risked it all, I had wound up heartbroken and that was not a place I wanted to be. All I needed right now was to top off my life with a broken heart and my misery would be complete. So, I wouldn’t get in too deep. I just needed to do something crazy to break out from my rut.
At that moment the Fat Lady swung open as someone exited the tower and I gasped a sigh of relief. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and padded my way into the Gryffindor common room. There were people crowding in the over-stuffed arm chairs and couch, in the corners on wooden chairs doing homework on the small round tables. I gathered some people were still down in the Great Hall having dinner because it wasn’t as jam-packed as it usually was on Sunday nights.
I scanned the room for Racquel but didn’t find her. I didn’t bother stopping for very long but continued to make my way up to my dormitory. It was empty. I plopped my bag down on my bed, grabbed up my towel from my trunk and made my way to the bathroom and the warm shower that was calling my name. With any luck whatsoever, the hot water and steam would give me peace for the night. Tomorrow I would attack my boredom head-on and at full speed with Operation Draco.
I continued to peer at my porridge. “Yes, Racquel?”
“Is that porridge really as good as you’re making it seem?”
I chuckled and pushed the bowl back from my spot at the Gryffindor table. “Nope, its vomit in a bowl disguised with brown sugar. I do not recommend it.” I gave Racquel my biggest ‘friend smile’ I possessed, which was a combination of sarcasm and teasing fun.
Racquel smiled back and raised an eyebrow. “What’s the sting then?” she asked, diving into her scrambled eggs with fervor.
“Ahh, yes, your colloquial terminology arises whenever I find…how do you put it…’my next victim’?”
“It’s a way to keep things interesting. I have a Potions paper, a Defense paper, and a Muggle Studies paper to write this week and the devious plans you come up with sometimes are just there to distract me, which I thank you for.” She brushed her blonde hair absentmindedly over her shoulder. She was a brilliant witch and had a sense of humor to boot. We were going to be best friends for a long time.
“I see,” I remarked.
“Yes, so, the sting, if you please. I would like something to get through our lovely Potions class alive.”
“You love Potions, and you love Slughorn, so don’t even try to pull that one on me. But I suppose I’ll kill your suspense and tell you.” I thought about it a lot over the weekend and then some more last night while I was getting ready for bed and had finally come up with what Racquel liked to call ‘The Sting’. It was a way to get the ball rolling down whatever court I fancied. “I’m going to pick a fight with him, but not a public fight. I don’t want the school to know about us because that’s just asking for trouble. He’s always wandering around alone these days, and very easily found on his own. I’m going to make him get angry. Anger is the first step. Then we might have a civil conversation. If that proves interesting and he’s still under my skin, I’m going to seduce him and be done with it.”
“Geez, you work fast. Why not play with it for a while, send him mixed signals and such?” Racquel asked.
“Because Malfoy is the king of mixed signals. He’s hot, he’s cold, he’s up, he’s down. I can’t pull him around like that because that’s what he’s used to doing to others. I need to come up hot and fast and catch him by surprise.”
“I don’t know…” Racquel looked skeptical.
“What? What don’t you know?”
“Draco seems a bit more complicated than that. Especially this year. He’s a puzzle, always has been of course, but this year he’s different. Something’s changed about it.”
I hadn’t read too much into the change that occurred from one summer to the next, but what Racquel said was true. I had seen a drastic change in him, but I had just taken that down as the times or the fact he was maturing without a really great father figure. I’d say he couldn’t be any worse than my father, but I knew better. Lucius Malfoy was a terrible man, hell-bent on serving You-Know-Who to whatever end, and tearing up hundreds of lives in the process. My father only made my life miserable.
“Well I’ll be cautious then,” I decided, voicing my plans out loud again. “I know he’s different; he kissed me and he’s never done that before.” Then in a quieter more thoughtful voice I said, “Maybe he’s just looking for a way out, like me, and this exterior change is a result of pent-up emotions.”
Racquel’s eyebrow quirked again, but this time in fun, “You’d like to think Draco Malfoy thinks like a girl, eh? ‘Cause that way you could understand him better. But hun, that man does not think in any way akin to male or female. He is an anomaly.”
“He’s not an anomaly,” I disagreed, “He’s a code to be cracked. A puzzle to be solved.”
“And we all know how you love solving puzzles, don’t we?” Racquel nudged me in the side playfully. “Just keep him away from your heart,” she warned.
“Oh I will.”
Later that afternoon I didn’t make it any secret of the fact I was following Draco around. I didn’t have any classes after Potions and from the looks of things, neither did he, but I didn’t really think Malfoy was the kind of guy to follow the rules. I followed him, and I think he knew I was following him because we ended up in a deserted corridor at the far side of the castle where no one ever goes. He probably had the whole castle mapped out by now, knowing who was always where, so he’d probably led me this way on purpose.
“Why are you following me, Morris?” he growled. I had turned the corner and he was leaning against the wall halfway down corridor. He looked rigid and tense. He was fighting something, but I hadn’t figured out what yet.
I narrowed my eyes at him, “You intrigue me, Malfoy.”
He scoffed, “Yeah, whatever. You need to be careful or you’ll get hurt.”
“And who’s going to hurt me?” I asked coolly. “You?”
“If you don’t stop following me around and irritating me, then yes.” He pushed away from the wall. “You have no idea what you’re getting into.”
I shrugged. “I don’t intimidate as easily as you’d like to think Malfoy. I thought you’d figured that out from our last encounter. How’s your shoulder by the way. I hope I didn’t injure you too badly. I was aiming for your ego…mostly.” I gave him my best crooked/smug smile, a smile that my mother had taught me and my father used to use towards her often. I was prodding and provoking him, which was exactly what I wanted. He was prickly, and this would make it worse…I could only hope.
He was in front of me in seconds. He grabbed both my arms and launched me towards the brick wall to my left. I smashed against it and felt pain shoot through my left arm. He was right in front of me, fists clenched, eyes grey and terrible-looking. “You…you…” He couldn’t seem to get the words out.
“I what?” I asked holding my chin up, my pain fading quickly. Despite his strength I could tell he’d controlled that throw more than he let on.
He yelled out in rage and came towards me again. I did nothing. His hands landed on either side of my head still in fists. They had come down on the brick wall so hard I could see the blood drip from his knuckles in my peripheral vision. His mouth was a hard line of anger and fury. I had a strange feeling that he kept this pent up on a regular basis and all this repressed anger was just making everything worse.
I reached out, almost without even thinking about it, and grabbed onto his tie. He tried to pull away but I held him there. “Sadie,” he growled warningly, saying my name for the first time.
I pulled him closer with his tie so our noses were almost touching. I leaned around so my lips were at his ear. “I’m not afraid of you Draco. But I see what you are becoming. I might be the only person in the entire school to understand that. And I’m probably the only person in the entire world who is infatuated with you right now.”
Being this close to him, I almost stumbled over the words. There was still something there, some irresistible pull that called to me. I wanted him, more than I had ever wanted any other man.
Draco was very still for a few minutes, the only sound was our heavier than normal breathing. Then his hands moved. One and then another, he took each of my hands in his and pressed them over my head and shuffled his body in closer. I let out a little sigh and breathed him in. He was intoxicating.
“You had better know what you’re getting yourself into, Morris,” he said in a low and rumbling voice against my cheek.
I smiled to myself. “You had better believe it Malfoy,” I replied.
His eyes met mine and for a moment all time stopped. His eyes were deep grey pools, filled with anger and desire and the illusive need to fight both. A few more inches and all hopes for a fight would dissipate. Or at least that’s what I was hoping for.
It was the clacking of shoes on the marble floors that alerted us out of our desires for one another. Malfoy jumped back as if I had burned him. I looked towards the sound of the clacking and then back to where Malfoy had been standing only to find it empty. He was gone. My pounding heart stopped for a few seconds and then started to speed up again thinking about what I was going to say to the approaching person.
They rounded the corner and I felt relief wash over me. It wasn’t a professor, which was good, but it also wasn’t a prefect or someone who might find it suspicious for me to be in a deserted corridor all alone. It was Harry Potter. From the information I’d drawn from Racquel, who was friends with Hermione, Harry liked to wander the castle sometimes and often turned up in far more compromising situations than the one I was previously in. At the moment he had what looked like a very peculiar map in his hands. When he saw me standing there against the wall I couldn’t imagine what when through his head, but I couldn’t care less really.
“You’re alone,” he stated.
I wanted to snort out loud, but I restrained myself and said, “Yeah, fancy that.”
“I thought…” he didn’t finish the sentence.
“You thought there was someone else down the corridor with me. Well there was, but as you can plainly see, he isn’t here anymore.” I gestured around the hallway pointedly and smiled at Harry. I then pushed myself away from the wall and started walking towards the way he had come. “Take it easy, eh Potter. Looks like you’re really thinking too hard. See ya around.”
I waggled my fingers at him and then scooted around the corner, marching purposefully away from where he was and away from everything that had just happened. Well, Draco was baited, and hooked. He still affected me in the exact same way. There was something magnetic that just drew me into him and I lost all coherent thought. I had wanted so badly to kiss him, to have him touch me, but that damn Potter showed up. Well, I thought absently, at least I know now that he wants me and he won’t think twice if given the opportunity. I suppose I’ll just have to work out the Opportunity, and make sure we both get exactly what we want out of it.
A/N: So what do you think so far? Any good? Let me know and leave a little review. Thanks a million :D ~K