Chapter 20 : Chapter Twenty.
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Dazed, Hermione walked aimlessly down the dungeon corridor away from the potions classroom. What had just happened? Had Malfoy really just kissed her? Never in her entire life had she felt so confused. On one hand, she couldn’t forget all the horrible things he had done to her over the years but on the other, she really believed that he could change. She had proof upstairs of what a good person he could turn out to be. Even more confusing were the feelings she’d been having towards him lately, especially the future version of him. The other thing constantly pressing on her mind was what her friends would say if they knew any of this.
She slowly made her way towards the Gryffindor common room.
“Hippogriff,” she said, giving the password to the fat lady and stepping inside.
The common room was full of people and it took her a moment to spot Harry and Ron sitting by one of the windows on the far side of the room.
“Hey guys,” she said brightly attempting to sound normal.
“Hey, I hope it didn’t take you too long to clean up those tubeworms,” said Ron.
Hermione felt her stomach give a small flip. She took a breath.
“No, it didn’t take long at all,” she said.
“Malfoy didn’t give you any more trouble did he?” asked Harry.
If only they knew how much trouble he was giving her.
“No, he was fine. I mean, he left pretty quickly,” she said.
“Well that’s good then. I really can’t be bothered that git anymore,” said Harry.
“I know what you mean,” she said quietly.
Hermione looked up to see Ginny approaching them.
“Hi,” she said cheerily, “You guys ready for Quidditch practice?”
Hermione had forgotten that they would be practicing this afternoon.
“Yeah sure,” replied Harry smiling at her.
“You want to come watch Hermione?” Ginny asked.
“Actually, I might stay here today. Catch up on some homework,” she replied.
She noticed their amused sidelong glances at each other but none of them said anything.
“Sure, Hermione,” said Ron, “I guess we’ll see you later then,”
“See you later. Have fun,” she added.
She’d been relying on her friends company this afternoon to keep her mind off things so she was startled to find herself suddenly on her own.
Meanwhile, on their walk down to the Quidditch pitch, Ginny posed a question to her brother and Harry.
“Have you guys noticed that Hermione seems a bit distracted lately?”
“I don’t know. She seems the same to me. Homework and helping the house elves. Seems pretty normal to me,” he said.
Ginny sighed exasperatedly.
“That is all you’d see, Ron,” she said rolling her eyes, “You’re such a boy,”
“What do you mean, Ginny?” Harry asked her interestedly.
“I’m not sure. She just seems distant, I guess. Maybe it’s nothing. Just a feeling a get from her,” said Ginny.
“I’m sure if anything’s wrong Hermione would talk to us,” said Harry.
“Yeah I guess so,” said Ginny still not quite convinced but they’d reached the Quidditch pitch and their conversation had to be put aside for the time being.
Elsewhere, Hermione found herself standing outside the door to the Room of Requirement. She wasn’t sure what she was doing there. She definitely didn’t want to tell Draco about what had happened in potions earlier on but she needed to tell him something.
With a deep breath she pushed the door open and stepped inside.
“Hey,” came his friendly voice. She still found it strange to hear his voice without the usual cold and bitter tone.
“Hi,” she responded closing the door.
He was sitting on the couch reading and this time Hermione could see the title of his book.
“Hogwarts: A History?” she questioned, “I thought I was the only person who’d read it,”
“I needed something to pass the time up here. Plus you’re always telling me about it so I figured I’d read while I’ve got the time,” he said smiling at her.
“It’s a good book,” she said lamely.
“It’s a lot better than I was expecting,” he said.
There was an awkward silence.
“So, is everything okay?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. I just wanted to tell you that I spoke to you today. The younger version of you,” she corrected.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Nothing happened,” she said a little defensively, “He just said that he’s not interested in having any help,”
“And what did you say?” he questioned.
“Well… I told him that I really wanted to help. That the Order of the Phoenix could protect him but… he still wasn’t interested,” she finished.
“Well that’s not good enough. You have to try harder to get him on our side,” he said determinedly.
“Not good enough! Do you have any idea how hard this is?” Hermione said resentfully, “Do you know what this is doing to me? I have to lie to my friends all the time and to top it all off I have you and him toying with my emotions constantly!”
Draco sighed tiresomely.
“Hermione, you know I didn’t mean like that,” he said but she wasn’t interested in what he had to say right now.
“Don’t say that I’m not trying hard enough. I am doing the best I can and if that’s not good enough for you then maybe you’ve come to the wrong person,” she finished her eyes filled with angry tears.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that all. Of course you’re the right person for the job. Please, I’m sorry. I just really want to change thing here. It’s really important,” he said, resting a hand on her shoulder.
She bit her lip and directed her eyes towards the ground. It seemed like she managed to humiliate herself every time she came here.
“I should go,” she said backing away from him.
“Please don’t go on my account Hermione,” regret filling his voice.
“I’m not. I’ve just had a bad day. I just want to be alone. It’s not your fault,” she said still avoiding his eyes, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow” she said and with that she turned and walked out. She heard him sigh as she left but she didn’t look back.
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