Chapter 8 : Resolutions and Repercussions
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It was quiet in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom the next morning, as the sun peeped in through the windows from behind the ton of clouds that enclosed it. Bill, or Professor Weasley as he was known to most now, had advised the class to copy down the bullet points he had written on the board, citing that these were the basics of silent spellcasting. Hermione, having mastered the art of this particular topic already, simply copied down the notes hurriedly and then proceeded to do something she hadn't really done before in a class - daydream.
The events of yesterday had shaken her up more than anything else during her time at Hogwarts so far, and to know that she had a lot of decisions to make made her feel all the more pressured to think them through. In class, however, she didn't really get the chance, so at this opportunity, she thought back to the most prominent (and frightening) event she could remember ...
"Hermione, I ... I think I might be in love with you."
Unlike the usual response to a statement like this, Hermione's eyebrows knotted in confusion and she stared back at Cormac almost as intensely as he was staring at her. However, she had a more vacant, puzzled look in her eyes ... and he was weirded out by it a little. Nevertheless, he flashed the girl a smile, realising that her hand was still enclosed within his. If he could have chosen one perfect moment that had occured thorughout his life, this most definitely would be it.
"Oh." Hermione answered, a slight hesitation in her tone, "Well ..."
The young woman could not, in fact, conjure up a reply worthy to answer this. What on earth did he expect her to say? "Oh, Cormac, I love you too!" No. She would never raise someone's hopes like that, nor would it be appreciated as a joke either. And yet, she couldn't seem to find the courage to say to him that she didn't feel the same way. It was all so annoying. But, before she could try and formulate words, Cormac spoke up, flashing her another little grin.
"Listen, don't worry," he said quietly, still staring at her, "I know this is a shock - but it is for me too. It's taken me quite a while to figure it out, I can assure you. But all you need to know is I am here for whenever you need me. Okay?"
Hermione woke up from her reverie with a snap as she heard the sounds of scraping chairs from around the room - everyone was standing up whilst Bill proceeded to circle them all, waving his wand in order to move all of the desks to the side. Practical work, she supposed?
As she was unsure what was happening, Hermione went to stand next to Harry and Ron, who looked as if they had just swallowed some Skele-Gro. With a questioning look upon her face, the girl asked her friends what was happening, and they looked back at Hermione, mirroring her expression.
"Weren't you listening?" Ron said, his voice coming out all high-pitched, "Bill's going to be trying out some "harmless hexes" on us, and we've to protect ourselves by casting Protego."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, smirking at Ron as he watched his older brother in anticipation.
"Well, that's not hard at all - why are you worried?"
It was then Harry's turn to look at her in exasperation.
"Haven't you been paying any attention, Hermione?" he said, his own voice sounding rather different, "We've to do it silently. You know, the spell - and you know how rubbish me and Ron are at this. I'm going to be walking around school with Jellylegs all day now ..."
Ron slapped a hand to his forehead in despair, while the girl rolled her eyes at them both and turned her attention back to Bill. This pair always got so worked up over nothing - and coming from her, one could tell her feelings were strong on this point.
Oliver hadn't exactly been having the best day of his life either. He had stumbled across something yesterday that he hadn't wanted to hear - but more importantly, something that angered him beyond belief.
Everyone that knew Oliver understood he was dramatic at the best of times, but yesterday, after his eventful day of teaching, he would have much preferred to go back up to the castle unaffected by what he had witnessed ... but he hadn't. Instead he had to listen to McLaggen admit his undying love for Hermione - oh, how he hated that idiot ten times more than he had ever done.
The older man had no idea why this affecting him as badly as it was, but Oliver just couldn't seem to get the image of Hermione's face out of his head. To be fair on her, she was neither pleased, nor upset by the news of this infatuation, which he supposed boded well with Cormac than if she had laughed or something.
But as he had stood, mouth open, behind a tree that seperated them from each other, Oliver had felt the rising anger within his very being, and to save Hermione having to answer that dolt's statement, he had jumped out upon them both.
"Evening," he had announced loudly, watching (with what should have been amusement) as Cormac and Hermione flinched in their places and turned in surprise - and Oliver couldn't help but notice their intertwined hands unlock faster than a speeding bullet.
That image alone had made his anger only increase. How dare McLaggen become so intimate with a student? He, of course, disregarded the fact that the same girl had previously warned him of getting into this similar position with her ... but then, didn't that make her just as in the wrong as he was? Deciding it was best to split this encounter up than let it continue, Oliver looked at Hermione, making his face as expressionless as possible.
"Hermione, I wish to speak with you in my office, if you don't mind?" He could see McLaggen's jaw tighten at this command, and he was about to say something before Oliver raised his hand.
"I don't think you are in any position to be retaliating right now - so if you know what's good for you, I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself."
Cormac sat back in annoyed silence, watching as the girl he loved rose to stand next to her teacher. Oliver didn't even acknowledge his colleague as he turned on the spot, Hermione following in his wake. He didn't intend on shouting at the girl for this, but it was going to be bloody hard to keep composure ...
Oliver was ashamed of his actions towards her last night. He had never intended for the girl to get upset, nor for him to endlessly question her upon her relationship with McLaggen. But basically, that was what the meeting had turned into - him lecturing Hermione upon the evils of the situation, and why they should both be ashamed to have let it go as far as they had.
The man would never admit the small twinge of jealousy he had felt in watching McLaggen open up for this young woman, without hesitation. However, it so happened that Oliver knew what propriety was, and also the rules of the establishment. Such dealings with students were completely forbidden, and despite the fact Cormac was merely one year older, it was completely inappropriate to have done such a thing as admit his love for her.
Of course, Hermione had taken this all to heart - and the fact that Oliver never stopped to let her speak, or defend herself made matters all the worse. He was just so angry with her, with them both that he hadn't allowed that to happen. So she had left, trying not to let him see the tears staining her face, even though he did. At that moment, Oliver felt guilt like he had never known it before.
Surely she hadn't deserved that ... and yet he threw it at her anyway.
He was ashamed.
On the opposite end of the happiness scale, Draco Malfoy was having an absolutely spiffing time in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Not just because it was entirely apparent that almost everyone in the room was incompetent in the art of silent casting, but mostly because he was paired up against Granger, and at this moment in time, seemed to be winning.
Oh, how he loved winning. Especially when it came to her. Yesterday, despite knowing that it had all been cheating, Draco had been slightly miffed by Hermione humiliating her teacher in Quidditch lessons, and it appeared that everyone else in the class was as oblivious as Wood. However, Draco had no intention of sucking up to the faculty and reporting the incident - all that would happen there is he would just seclude himself even more from the students, and right now he didn't want that to happen.
As Hermione shot a spell at him, he blocked it as quick as a flash, and with his signature smirk upon his face, he decided to taunt Granger in the fashion he was known to do.
"Come on, woman - surely you can do better than that?" he laughed, partly serious with his toying with her. The girl opposing him, however, didn't look like she cared much, and it was clear she had a lot more on her mind than she was letting on. But, a bet was a bet, and Draco was determined to outshine her this year. It would make him unbelievably happy to do so. And as the match dragged on, it became more irritating as Hermione didn't seem to be giving it her all, and before he knew it, Draco had stopped duelling, an annoyed expression on his face.
"Granger!" he said loudly, but quiet enough for none of the other pairs to hear, "What is going on with you? It's starting to unnerve me that you have absolutely no wish in beating me in this duel. We made a bet, remember?"
The girl nodded in answer, continuing to throw random, silent hexes at him while he deflected them with ease.
This was far too unusual.
However, almost immediately after him speaking, Weasley announced the class was ended, and without a moment to lose, Hermione picked up her bag, put her parchment and ink back inside, and Draco merely had to blink twice before she was gone from sight. Shaking his head, he followed suit and left to head to the Great Hall for break. He would find out what Granger's agenda was, even if he had to ask her straight himself.
Guys, I am ASHAMED to make you wait nearly a year for an update. Honestly, I have no idea how things got so hectic!! Anyway, this is the next chapter, more of a filler than anything else whilst I decide what to do next - hope you liked!