Chapter 9 : Alone with Granger
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Draco Malfoy leaned against one of the many brick columns at the cold and damp platform 9 3/4 with the black hood of his robe pulled up over his head with something that looked like a candy cane hanging from his mouth. The steam from the train engine hovered and rolled along the platform helping to conceal his presence. Not that he cared if anyone saw him, really… it’s just that he hadn’t seen Granger yet and wasn’t going to board the train until he had.
He had his fun during the break. It made him feel good to make amends with his father a bit, have dinner with his house elves, and give Christmas gifts anonymously. He enjoyed spending time camping with Crabbe and Goyle. And even though a few women gave him some trouble, he actually loved attending Blaise’s New Year’s Eve party.
All of it had been a wonderful distraction, taking his mind off his dark task.
But the night before he was to return to Hogwarts, Draco was summoned by the Dark Lord.
His Dark Mark began crawling along his skin just before he was about to have a farewell dinner with Goyle’s family. They had just sat down to eat and as they began passing the food around the table family-style, Draco had jolted in surprise and was a bit embarrassed.
He had grabbed his forearm as if it hurt, but it was more like an automatic response to conceal it more than anything. Draco mentally scolded himself for jolting like he did, knowing he should've been discreet.
Crabbe had witnessed the jolt and the grab to his forearm. “You have to go. Don’t you?” Crabbe questioned knowingly.
Draco nodded a yes and noticed others had begun staring at him.
“Me too,” Goyle’s father added. “Sorry about dinner, dear,” he said to his wife. “Can’t leave the Dark Lord waiting. Hopefully it won’t be too long.” He stood then grabbed some dinner rolls and began shoving them into his mouth and sloppily drank wine to wash them down.
Draco had immediately lost his appetite.
Donning their black robes and covering their heads with hoods, the two Death Eaters quickly said their goodbyes then used a port key that landed them just outside of Crabbe’s home.
Draco recalled the look on his father’s face as Voldemort magically removed his hood and ridiculed him in front of everyone. The expression on Lucius’s face was one of dread, but it was also one of someone broken. And even though Lucius tried to hide it, for the first time in his life, Draco could sense his father’s fear.
It didn’t take long to figure out why. The announcement came soon enough. It would be the last meeting at Crabbe’s. The Dark Lord was officially moving the Death Eater headquarters to Malfoy Manor.
He’d never seen his father look like that and it affected Draco. It made him feel sorry for him. But more than that, Draco realized now more than ever that his parent’s lives were most definitely in danger.
Draco used all the power of his Occlumency to block out certain memories while the Dark Lord slid around the ever-growing circle of Death Eaters until he stopped at Draco.
“Still haven’t completed your task, have you, young Malfoy?”
Draco stood frozen, but knew it would be disrespectful not to answer and he certainly did not want to show fear.
“Not yet?” Voldemort repeated as he stepped closer to him. He held out an open hand and lifted it high. “Five,” he said with a sneer for all to hear. “Five… months is all you have left.”
Draco said nothing further. He only bent forward slightly and nodded his acknowledgement.
Voldemort moved on to different Death Eaters, giving them orders and speaking of his plans.
When he finally stopped in the center of the group, it seemed that the meeting had come to an end. But instead, the Dark Lord surprised everyone when he suddenly sent a Cruciatus curse to one of the Death Eaters. The man collapsed to the ground and cried out in pain as Voldemort accused him of being a spy and selling information to Ministry Aurors. It turned out to be true.
Just as Draco was about to relive the murder in his head, Hermione finally showed up on the platform, pulling his mind out the darkness and into light.
She was walking toward him with her head down wearing a sad look on her face… a look that hovered on the edge of crying without actually spilling over. And there was something else. She looked exhausted.
Draco instantly grew concerned for her. Why was his love looking as if she would cry at any moment and why did she look so tired?
She stopped at one of the entrances of the train and turned to talk to Harry and Ginny before they all boarded.
Hermione wanted to get back into some normalcy and get back into studying for tests. She wanted to get her mind off her blood status. She was extremely tired and not rested at all.
She had spent the entire last days at home frantically searching her ancestry… only to find information that she already knew from her mother’s keepsake box. She did discover some Muggle cousins in America, but they would know nothing of the magical world.
She grew frustrated and was exhausted from her searching in the wee hours of the night, losing much needed sleep, and on occasion found herself falling asleep at her parent’s computer. She decided that she needed a break from it and welcomed the ride back to school. The rhythm of the train would certainly put her to sleep quickly and soon she would be at her true home.
When she met Harry and Ginny on the platform, they didn’t get her normal happy greeting of smiles and hugs. Instead, she seemed to be in a daze and looking rather sleepy.
“Hermione, are you alright?” Ginny asked before Harry was about to ask the same question.
“I stayed up too late studying and now I’m paying for it,” she answered with a yawn.
She didn’t lie. She just didn’t mention what she’d been studying. “If you two don’t mind, I’d like a compartment to myself to sleep. Truly I need it. We can talk when we get back to the Great Hall for dinner.”
“Alone?” Harry questioned. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, Harry, alone. I’m fine, really. I just need sleep. You know I can get cranky when I’m tired,” she told them, just as she saw Ron and Lavender arrive at the platform.
“Okay,” Harry succumbed, seeing Hermione’s face twist into something slightly unattractive.
She made a quick sound of disgust as she turned to board the train, leaving the four of them behind.
All of this was being watched of course… as Draco was close to them, but had not been noticed.
He quickly realized what was wrong with Hermione as he witnessed Lavender Brown hanging on Ronald Weasley as they made their way to Harry and Ginny.
It came as a shock at first, but Draco was pleasantly surprised to see Ron with Lavender and not his Granger. Obviously a lot had happened during the holiday break.
Draco’s concern for Hermione turned into wondering if Dobby actually followed through with the delivery of the gifts. And even if Dobby succeeded, he wondered if she got her book after all.
He purposefully waited to board the last available car, just as it was about to leave. To his pleasant surprise, she was in the last compartment… by herself. The door was open and she was peering out the window. He was very tempted at barging in and sitting down, but something told him that now just wasn’t the right time. So he walked on… proceeding to his normal seat with the rest of the Slytherins in the open car.
“Where’ve you been? I thought you weren’t going to show,” Pansy remarked seemingly irritated.
“I’m here,” he announced, plopping down beside her and removing his hood.
He acted like he didn’t want to be going back to Hogwarts, but he did. He was happy to see Granger, but a few glimpses of her was never enough for him.
He thought about her not being with Ron and pondered how she must be feeling; down obviously. She was hurting, no doubt… and even though he couldn’t be sorry for the breakup, he did feel sorry for her.
He wanted to comfort her, but felt it wasn't really his place. She would probably curse him as soon as she saw him. But he wanted to go back to her so bad he couldn’t stand it.
He wanted to know if she got that book and what she thought of it. It practically killed him not knowing and after what seemed like an eternity thinking of her and pondering whether or not he should go to her, Draco was getting fidgety.
“What’s wrong with you?” Pansy asked. “You can’t sit still.”
“I’m incredibly bored out of my mind. This train ride has to be the most boring way to get to Hogwarts! We can’t apparate there because of security. We can’t fly there because stupid idiotic Muggles might see us. We can’t even use a port key. I think its Dumbledore’s way of torturing us older students into numbing our minds to prepare for our mind-numbing classes!”
“I second that sentiment,” Blaise agreed.
“I can think of fifty places that I’d rather be right now,” Draco added. “Instead, I have to sit here and do nothing.”
“Wizard’s poker again?” Blaise offered.
“I’ve had all that I can take of that game during the break. I can’t stand it anymore."
A few seconds later, Draco stood abruptly. The rare opportunity to be alone with Granger was slipping by him.
“Where are you going?” Pansy questioned.
“To go harass a Mudblood for something to do,” he admitted with an air of disdain. “And don’t bother following me,” he added knowing full well Pansy would eventually want to mettle in his business.
Draco made his way back to the last compartment. Every step toward her put him in a better mood. He wasn’t even sure if she was still alone… but he had to find out.
Harry’s compartment door was shut, so he easily moved past it without being noticed.
He peeked his head around the door only to find her sleeping. She had propped her head against the inner wall and was using her school robe as a blanket.
A warm smile came to his face as he stepped in, silently closed the door, and took the seat across from her.
So there he was, alone with his Granger… finally.
He wasn’t sure what to do. The conniving deviant in him wanted to shout at her and scare her half to death just to be mean. Or at least… conjure a feather and mess with her while she slept.
Already she was more entertaining than anyone in the Sytherin car and she hadn’t done a thing but sleep.
Draco noticed Delilah’s Black Book of Poems sitting on the top stack of a set of books she had lying next to her, serving as confirmation that she did, in fact, receive her Christmas gift. Knowing that she would've been thrilled gave him a good feeling inside.
Just then, the train shifted slightly and her robe of a blanket slipped off her a little.
He leaned in to fix it for her. It was January after all and the train was a bit cold.
He was so close to her that something inside of him was changing. Her very presence was actually causing him to have feelings he’d never felt before; butterflies as they are called.
For a split second he thought he might kiss the sleeping beauty. But he knew he would have to be ready for the slap across his face that she would undoubtedly give him as soon as she woke.
He could watch her all day and not get bored.
So peaceful, he thought as he watched her chest rise and fall in a slow rhythm of a deep slumber. He searched her face and gazed at the thin line of her closed lips and then at her cute little nose and how it turned up slightly at the end.
How am I to hate such a beautiful thing... so pretty?
Her long hair looked like silk to him. It went straight down past her shoulders and ended in long curls. He had always loved her long barely-tame hair.
He thought of his vivid dream then... how she had looked up at him so lovingly. They embraced. They kissed. They were happy and they were... having a son.
A dream, he thought, shaking his head slightly. Just a dream.
He saw her hand move slightly and he now wished that he could reach for it and hold it... or at least maybe touch her fingertips to his.
He knew she was upset over Ron. Oh, how he wanted to pull her into his arms and comfort her.
But then something strange occurred to him...
Maybe it was a bit of the reverse. Maybe it was his wish that she would comfort him... that she would reach out her hand to hold his, embrace him, and tell him everything was going to be alright, even if it wasn't true.
He let out a whisper then, words spoken under a breath to her sleeping ears. "It seems a Slytherin prince may be in need... of a princess."
She stirred a little and he slowly, silently backed away.
Hermione was waking to the scent of the most wonderful masculine cologne. She recalled the scent in her sleep. She had smelled it before. But who? She wondered dreamily.
Draco Malfoy came to mind. Yes. That’s who wore it. Only him. He always smelled so good. It was definitely him. Definitely…
“MALFOY!” she practically yelled his name as she abruptly awoke from her sleep.
“What?!” he yelled back.
“What are you doing here? Staring at me in my sleep now? That’s just creepy!” she woke fighting mad. “What do you want?”
“Nothing! But I am curious as to how you woke from a deep sleep screaming my name. Dreaming about me are you?” he teased with a smirk.
“No!” she yelled at him. “If you must know, it was your cologne that woke me up.”
“Do you like it?” he asked smiling.
“Of course I do,” she admitted as if she were disgusted. “I am a woman… and that stuff is actually made for us you know; a seducer of sorts. It should be illegal,” she said with a scowl.
She was telling the truth. Hermione absolutely loved men’s cologne, especially the expensive kind that Draco always seemed to have on him.
On a shopping trip she had joked with Ginny about how the stuff was so powerful it could melt her clothes clean off her body. And Ginny remarked that the scent would have her looking at a Troll differently. The two girls had a good laugh, but there was most certainly some truth to their statements.
“Why are you here invading my space?” she finally asked. “Come to make my life more miserable than it already is? Come to taunt and make fun for Ron breaking up with me? Kick me while I’m down?”
He didn’t say anything. He just sat and listened to her dark mood as she thought of all the past pain he had caused her, especially reminding her of her blood status every time she looked at him.
He could only think of how beautiful she was when she was mad at him.
“Go ahead, say it,” she urged. “Say that I wasn’t worthy of being with a pureblood anyway, even if it was Weasel. Go ahead.”
Still Draco sat and listened. He could’ve replied with all kinds of nasty things, but he withheld his tongue and took it in.
“I swear,” she continued. “You could give lessons to Dementors in sucking the joy out of people’s lives. Honestly… are you sure you’re a Malfoy and not a Riddle?”
Her last comment surprised him and rocked him to the core. A Riddle? How could she dare say such a thing? Draco hated Voldemort; hated the task that the snake of all snakes had given him… hated that the demon was going to kill his parents if he failed. Draco figured he wanted him dead more so than Harry did.
Her mood was even darker than he anticipated. Obviously she wouldn’t want to speak of Christmas.
“Would you like me to go?” he questioned in a serious manner.
She turned from him to look out the window… and under her breath, she said hurtful words, barely audible…
“I would like you to go to hell,” she said quietly, unable to look at him while saying such hateful words… even to him.
As tough as Draco was, this hurt him coming from her. He wondered then if his father, Lucius felt the same hurt when he told him he wished he was dead instead of James Potter.
He didn’t really mean it. And Draco was hoping she didn’t mean it either. She was just in pain. And he knew what that felt like.
“Such a dark whisper coming from your lips,” he remarked as he stood to leave… very disappointed.
“You taught me well, Teacher,” she said sarcastically.
But she didn’t really want him to go and she didn’t mean what she said.
Just as Draco was about to pull the door open, she asked him a question.
“Tell me. How do you do it?” she asked turning her head to look up at him.
“Do what?” he asked as their eyes met.
“Not feel anything? How do you shut yourself down? Can you teach me?”
Considering the seriousness of her demeanor and her question, Draco returned to the seat directly facing her.
They sat in silence for a moment while he thought of what to say.
“You don’t want to be like that.”
“Maybe I do.”
“Shutting down your emotions isn’t some kind of special skill. Even Muggles can do it, but they only do it as a psychological defense mechanism. It’s the prisoner of war in solitary confinement who takes his mind to a different place… to trick the mind into thinking that he is at Sunday School singing hymns at a church that he attended as a child. It’s the woman who is severely beaten by her husband… who doesn’t feel the lashings because she has tricked her mind into thinking that she is running in a wheat field playing ‘hide and seek’ with her sister in her youth.”
He paused for a moment and noticed she had her full attention to him, listening to what he had to say... although her face still held anger.
“When wizards and witches do it, we don’t need a happy memory. We can block out certain situations, but not for long. It is temporary and it certainly doesn’t solve any problem. I wouldn’t think you would need such a thing for merely breaking up with Weasel… unless there is something else,” he insinuated with an eyebrow raised, wondering if she would divulge any information.
“You can do that? Block out situations as they are happening?” she asked as she cocked her head to the side.
“Yes. If the situation is… traumatic enough to warrant it.”
“That’s fascinating,” she commented with intrigue. “But truthfully… that is much deeper than what I meant. I just meant that nothing seems to ever bother you.”
“I am not immune to being hurt. I have a knack for hiding my true feelings. I don’t consider that some special skill.”
She shook her head. “You can’t be hurt… not in the way I’m feeling right now anyway.” She stared at him.
“Really? Why is that?”
“Because you’ll never be dumped. You have far too much money… way too high of status in society… and are much too good looking for someone to ever reject you. If you ever find yourself alone, it would be by choice.”
“Interesting,” he smirked.
“You would reject me for all of those things. You couldn't care less about my money. You hate me for my status. And as for my looks, well… you’re into redheads.” He gave a look as if he were flirting.
“I agree with everything you just said. However, even though I reject you for all of those things, there’s no heartache in it, as you couldn’t care less for me. And not to mention… you have to be with someone before you can actually get dumped,” she responded matter-of-factly.
He wanted to correct her and tell her how much he indeed cared for her… much more than she could possibly know. But it was much too soon for that.
“You want to know what I think about you and Weasel?” he asked as he relaxed back into the seat.
“Not really, no,” she replied untruthfully. Of course she wanted to know what he thought.
“I don’t think you love him as much as you think you do. You’re just ticked off that he chose to be with someone else over you. You’re furious at him. Give it some time and you’ll be friends again. And that, Granger will be the proof that you deeply cared for him, but did not love him fully. Two people that love each other can’t be friends after they break up. It’s too painful. It’s all or nothing. So tell me… what else is bothering you?”
She would never tell him it was her blood status. She might as well welcome his cruelty.
“What do you know about love? You can’t possibly sit there and tell me you love Pansy. And I’ve heard what you did to Elise McCourt… Took her virginity and haven’t spoken a word to her since. How typical. And how many others girls have you done the same thing to?”
Draco instantly felt the fire inside build at her words, but he kept it at bay. He was shocked that Elise’s name would be brought up. Then again, he was surprised at this entire conversation.
“How typical of you to believe that’s the only side of the story.”
Hermione never thought there could be more to the story. “What’s your side?” she asked curiously.
“She used me… not the other way around. That’s why I haven’t spoken to her since. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be more typical of a guy like me to keep using a girl who puts out so easily?” he said calmly.
“I suppose so,” she said as she thought it strange to actually be trusting Malfoy with something he was saying.
“I don’t like being used, Granger. And it might surprise you… but I’d like to have a real relationship with a girl someday. One that won’t have me being used for money, status, or looks.”
Hermione caught the seriousness in his eyes as he said it... and she was taken aback. Draco Malfoy wanting a serious relationship? Apparently something deeper than what he already had an abundance of?
She was shocked to find that her opinion of him had just shifted slightly, with something showing up that wasn't there before... a hint of respect or understanding maybe.
Draco realized that he just told her something that he probably shouldn’t have. It left him vulnerable to a barrage of insults, but much to his surprise, she didn’t take advantage. He decided then that he wanted their conversation to be a little less serious.
“Hold out your hand, palm up,” he instructed as he did the same with his. “See the creases that make up the ‘M’?” he gestured.
“Yes,” she acknowledged, not knowing where he was going with it.
“When I was young, I thought it cool that my initial was on my hand,” he chuckled slightly. “Anyway… my Aunt Andromeda showed me once that my love line was long. She would say, ‘Draco… look here, when you find true love you will be with her for a very long time.’ When I asked her, how will I know when I find her, she replied, "The trick to finding your true love is to not go looking in the normal places." I was frustrated at what she said because she really didn’t tell me anything at all."
Hermione couldn’t help but smile a bit… then look at her palm. “Which line is it?” she asked with lighthearted curiosity as she bent forward so that he could show her.
Draco leaned in as well and she couldn’t help but think that it was the closest she’d ever been to him as she took in the scent of his cologne once again.
They were so close they could've kissed.
“This one,” Draco voiced as his finger touched her palm and began tracing the line using the slightest touch.
His touch sent sensations through her that she did not expect and she could not help but smile. Being touched by him was a good feeling that sent magic to her core.
“See… yours is long as well. Breaking up with Ron is not the end of the world, Granger. Who knows, it could be the beginning of one.”
Her eyes moved from her palm to his warm, caring facial expression and their gaze held.
She was mesmerized. Not because of his looks, but at what he had just done. Draco Malfoy, of all people, had just cheered her and she wanted to kiss him for it. But she knew that wanting and doing were two very different things.
Draco became a bit lost in her eyes. If he didn't know any better, she looked as if she wanted to kiss him. He wanted to so very badly. Her lips were only inches away.
“Well that was risky," she commented, closing her hand. “What if my line had been short?”
“Then I would’ve told you that all of that was just rubbish and I really don’t believe a word of it. It's more likely that your history is what will determine your future.”
“I’m not exactly in the mood for riddles. Whatever do you mean by that?” she asked in a friendly, but pleading way.
“It just seems logical that given your two best friends… that you already know how to put up with a man and that you will remain loyal no matter what. If you mirror that in your marriage, then you will be with your true love for a very long time.”
Hermione was baffled at his insight. Did he just say something that she didn’t realize about herself?
She became quickly skeptical. What was he doing? Whatever it was it must be some kind of scheme. Was he messing with her emotions? Was he pulling her up only to cruelly tear her down?
He noticed her face fall into a look of skepticism and she moved back from him as if any trust that he had just built with her had abruptly vanished.
Draco sighed his disappointment at the unnecessary space she had put between them.
"Why are you suddenly being so friendly to me?"
"Is it sudden?" he protested. "When's the last time I called you Mudblood?"
Hermione couldn't remember the last time he did it. She tried, but couldn't pin-point it. "Well, I don't know. Surely you call me that behind my back all the time. So you tell me... how long has it been exactly?"
He didn't want to tell the truth, but he didn't want to lie to her either. "Alright," he paused. "I called you that just before I came back here," he confessed with a guilty look. "But I haven't said it to your face in months. That has to count for something, doesn't it?" he questioned with the cutest rounded puppy-dog eyes that seemed to be begging for forgiveness.
She wasn't sure what to think of his response... or his adorable guilty facial expression. She didn't want to, but it made her smile.
“Why did you come back here? Can you tell me the truth about that?” she asked with caution, as if waiting for his cruelty to show up at any moment.
“I was bored out of my mind and came back here to harass you for fun. I didn’t expect to have a decent conversation with you.”
She sat silent in her seat pondering his words. They seemed truthful and it surprised her once again.
And she agreed. The last thing she expected from him was a deep and meaningful conversation about anything.
She knew he was her identical academic match; knew he was a highly intelligent individual, but actually speaking with him about something more meaningful than Quidditch matches, weather, and food had her completely intrigued... and it left her wanting more.
He leaned in close to her. So close, that for a split second she anticipated his touch, wanting it. But this time, it was her turn to feel disappointed when it didn’t come.
“What’s this book you’re reading?” he taunted, taking possession of Delilah’s Black Book of Poems before retreating back to his seat.
It was an abrupt change in subject in which she became instantly defensive.
“Give that back!” she demanded.
“Why? What is it ,a self-help book or something?” he asked trying to open it. “It’s locked… juicy romance novel, is it?” he said chuckling as he toyed with her.
“Real mature of you, Malfoy.”
She whipped out her wand. “You will gently hand it over… now.”
“Oh, put that away. Only you would duel over a book, Granger.”
“That book happens to be priceless.”
“Everything has a price.”
“You couldn’t buy that book from me with all of your Malfoy money,” she said heated.
“Really? With all my money? Are you sure you couldn’t you just buy another copy and have a small fortune left over? I do have quite a bit, you know.”
“Seeing as how it very well might be the last copy on the planet, your money would be useless.”
“The last copy?” he questioned with a smirk. “That means the Ministry must’ve banned it," he said still holding it away from her so she couldn’t get to it. “And yet you bring it to school. You do know what banned means, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. Now stop being annoying and hand it back!” she warned.
“And yet you break the rules and nothing ever happens to you. It must be nice to have the immunity that the Golden Trio has,” he remarked, handing it back to her.
“As if you don't get away with plenty,” she replied.
He ignored the remark. “Where did you get it?”
He could barely keep from laughing at the little game he was playing with her. But he managed to keep it in, except for the devious smirk that he just couldn't help.
But just then, Draco noticed the train slowing, which meant his alone time with Granger would be ending soon. Too soon. He quickly thought of how he might want to end it. He didn’t want to fight with her or be childish. Instead, he wanted to get her back to being relaxed around him and maybe build some trust.
Obviously it still wasn’t quite the time to talk about the Christmas gifts he sent everyone. That would have to wait a little while longer as he was out of time.
“That reminds me. I have a gift for you. I actually wanted to give it to you earlier, but you were telling me... where to go.”
He reached into his suit jacket and pulled out what looked like two candy canes. He kept one and gave the other to her.
“Now you can’t say that I never gave you anything,” he said with a devious chuckle that made her feel as if there was much more to that statement.
“A candy cane?” she looked at it curiously. “Is it laced with poison?”
He let out another chuckle. “Some would say that. There’s actually a shot of brandy wine in it for you. Mine has a shot of Scotch,” he explained, removing the wrapper. “If you bite down and break it, it will give you a splash. But if you suck on it, it comes out slow-like. It’ll take the edge off the hurt you’ve got going on.”
“You sneak alcohol into Hogwarts?” she asked as he placed it to his lips, holding the crook of it like a pipe.
“Of course I do. And you sneak in banned books. I’m afraid you win on the danger scale.”
She stared at the candy cane, torn between being a good girl or saying, the heck with it.
Just then, both Hermione and Draco heard the annoying sound of Lavender’s giggling.
“Oh Ronnie… You’re so funny,” they heard her say.
Draco gave her a knowing, sympathetic look and an encouraging nod to try the liquor-infused candy stick.
She quickly tore off the wrapper and bit down. Draco was right. It gave her a cool splash that felt good on her tongue and tasted of sweet brandy wine. She closed her eyes and let out a hum of relief as she swallowed the liquid and proceeded to crunch the rest and finally lick her lips.
“You’re a terrible influence on me,” she scoffed.
“You like?” he asked smiling at her reaction.
“That was… quite good actually,” she admitted.
Draco bit down on his finishing it. “Well feel privileged. You are one of very few that knows about them. One day I hope to make them a business venture. But if you steal my idea, I’ll have to kill you,” he gave her his signature smirk.
“Something tells me we’ll end up killing each other, but it won’t be because of your liquor sticks.”
They shared a laugh as they both sat back in their seats feeling a little more relaxed.
They remained silent for a long while… both thinking how incredible it was to have this time spent with each other.
It wasn't often that they were able to face each other for such a long period of time.
She looked at him, studying his face as she had never been able to before. She noticed that he had a look about him that went beyond his true age. She could sense he'd seen more darkness in his life than most. There was an awareness in his eyes. And something that spoke quietly to her; something that said he'd not had the childhood that everyone thought he did... that of a spoiled rich kid. No, it had not been like that at all.
He stared back at her, taking her in as well. She too held a look that was beyond her years. He held no doubt that it was knowledge of the darkness she must've obtained through her experiences with The Chosen One being her best friend. He could see it... see that she knew more about it than most.
He also could see that something was bothering her... something much deeper than breaking up with Ron. She never did answer his questions about it. She kept it from him and he didn't blame her one bit.
They were now looking at each other with serious expressions that hinted at genuine concern.
She wondered what it would be like to be loved by such a man... that is, if he was capable of love. Before now, she wouldn't have believed it possible. But now... he seemed different.
He thought of other girls he knew that would throw themselves at him. But not her. She sat there, respectful, reserved, and with a dignity and grace that seemed rare to him.
They were both deep in thought, thinking of how the person sitting across from them was some sort of mystery to be solved.
But as the train slowed, tension between them had suddenly come back as mutual feelings began to surface; feelings of not wanting the train ride to end.
They wouldn’t acknowledge those feelings to each other, but they really didn’t need to. It was revealed in their faces and in their body language.
Knowing the train was about to come to a halt, Draco stood and slowly, reluctantly opened the compartment door as if he really didn’t want to make his exit.
But just as he was about to leave, he turned to her to say one last thing…
“It’s a shame we’re here already. I was wondering if Mrs. Weasley liked her ring,” he said as he took off down the hallway toward the Slytherin car as fast as he could without running.
It took a second for Hermione to register what he had just said.
Her eyes grew wide. Mrs. Weasley? The ring! Christmas! The book! She gasped as she realized… it was him!
“MALFOY!” she shrieked as loud as she could.
He heard her shout his name and he let out his own devious laugh at his victory at getting under her skin. He loved that the beginning and ending of the conversation had her yelling his name.
She peered into the hall just as his blond head got lost in a sea of students gathering their belongings to exit the train.
Ginny came out of her compartment to check on Hermione. “Did you just scream Malfoy’s name?”
“Yes,” she answered with obvious frustration.
“Why? What happened?”
Hermione had to think fast. She didn't want to tell Ginny that her beloved new Quidditch blanket came from Malfoy, knowing Ginny would lose her fondness of it rather quickly and burn it, most likely.
She had to talk to Draco first and figure out what he was up to.
“He's being his annoying arrogant self, as usual," she played it off. "I want to curse him for toying with me, that's all." She turned to gather her belongings. "What's new?"
But she didn't really want to curse him. She was pretty sure they had just shared some kind of intimate moment and he had given her the most perfect gift. The question was... why? It had to be some sort of cruel scheme against her and her friends.
"Well, just so you know, Harry and I will have a seat for you in the carriage. My idiot brother and what's her name are getting one with Neville and Luna."
"Thanks," Hermione replied picking up her Christmas gift from Draco and shaking her head in disbelief. She let out a long sigh and remarked, "This is all so unbelievable."
Ginny thought she was speaking of Ron leaving her for Lavender.
But oh, no... she was thinking of him. That thorn in her side. That pebble in her shoe. The cockroach that was Draco Malfoy!
Well, Draco had been through a lot the night before... and Hermione is in pain as well.
They have begun to feel the chemistry between them as they both didn't want that ride to end so soon. And now Draco's secret is out!
Until next time...
P.S. I just want to THANK YOU from my heart to all of you readers and especially the Reviewers whose words keep me going.
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