Chapter 23 : Frazzled
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Slowly and achingly he made his way across the cold hardwood floors and to his bathroom. He went through the motions of getting ready, the same motions he performed everyday, but as if he wasn’t really a part of his body. His mind kept wandering back to the dress, the mask, the way they all came together on someone he had never really noticed and made her look beautiful... Or had she always been beautiful? It was driving him mad.
As he was rifling through his closet for a shirt, an angry pounding began mercilessly attacking his door followed by, “YOU BETTER BE AWAKE YOU FLIPPANT PRAT!”
With a small chuckle, which he quickly covered with a cough to make himself feel better, he opened the door. Hermione was standing in front of him, hair drenched and beginning to frizz, with a look of pure fury on her face. Her cheeks were red but he couldn’t tell if it was from anger or running up the stairs, which he assumed she had done so she could wake him up. Truth be told he had completely forgotten about needing to be in the Great Hall babysitting the prefects.
“Granger,” he said evenly, nodding his head.
Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Are you forgetting your Head duty? You’re supposed to be in the Great Hall with me!”
With you? “I was just on my way down, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not completely dressed yet.”
Hermione’s eyes glazed down and widened when she saw he was without a shirt. “I-I’m, I mean, and you’re che-,”
“You talk too much. Just sit down on my bed and let me find a shirt. Really Granger, you were with Blaise all that time and you act as if you haven’t seen a male torso before. If I remember correctly, didn’t Amelia walk in on-,”
“Shut up.” She glared up at him as she plopped down on his bed and crossed her arms. “Just hurry up.”
Draco smirked as he turned his back to her and walked back over to his closet, deciding he would take his time and prolong her torment. “So what happened to your hair? Going back to your old ways, eh?”
Even though he couldn’t see it, Hermione rolled her eyes. “In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining outside.”
“I’d say it’s more than raining.”
“You know what I meant!”
Draco held out a dark blue shirt. “What do you think about this?”
Hermione glanced at it and shrugged. “I don’t care.”
He put it back and held out a dark green shirt of the same style. “Green?”
“I don’t care what you wear!”
With an exaggerated sigh he put the shirt back and pulled out a dark grey v-neck that he had never worn, a gift from some girl he had met at some party his parents hosted over the summer break. He wasn’t much for casual wear and had never in his life seen a men’s shirt with a v-neck, but as it was a gift, he kept it.
She stared at it briefly before pushing herself up off the bed and walking out. “It matches the color of your eyes, especially when it’s raining. Now can you put it on so we can go?”
When Draco emerged a few seconds later, he stared at her quizzically. “Been staring at my eyes lately?”
“I don’t know why I said it! I’m in a foul mood already, can we please just go?”
He nodded and dramatically swept his arm out in front of him. “After you.”
Whatever he had been imagining as far as what was going in the Great Hall, he couldn’t have been more wrong. When they made it to the last flight of the Grand Staircase he could clearly see the pandemonium ensuing in all directions. It looked like hardly any progress had been made, but to be fair he had no idea what his fellow Head had in mind as far as decorations.
“What the hell is going on, Granger?”
Hermione ran her fingers through her hair. “Well it was a nice day when we started so we left the doors leading outside open... The rain just came out of nowhere...”
“Why hasn’t anyone cleaned it up?” There was a shallow pooling of water slowly streaming its way towards the Great Hall.
“Well... I asked Dumbledore for permission to decorate without magi-,”
“You did what!?”
“I just thought it would be more of a bonding experience!”
Draco tilted his head back and rubbed his temples, resisting the urge to spit an insult about her blood. “We go to a magical school for a reason. Have you looked inside?” They both turned to look into the Great Hall, where the younger prefects were throwing decorations around as the older girls tried in vain to take them away and put them up. “This is a complete mess!”
Hermione’s lip quivered. “Don’t get mad at me, you were supposed to be down here hours ago helping me! I barely got any sleep last night worrying about this, I didn’t eat breakfast-,”
He slapped his hand over her mouth. “Go get something to eat before you drive me insane. You’re of no use to anyone like this. I’ll take care of it.”
She pushed his hand off of her mouth, and for a second he thought she was going to slap him. But instead she said, “Thank you,” and walked off in the direction of the kitchens.
As she walked the familiar route she thought about how out of character Malfoy had been all morning; from inviting her into his room, asking her opinion on shirts, and then voluntarily taking the work off her shoulders so she could eat breakfast. Maybe it was because she was annoying him – after all, she had planned everything for the dance herself, and he hadn’t as so much put in his two cents about music or food choice. Maybe he just didn’t want to be around her and figured she’d be less of a headache if she was gone for a while. But in the back of her mind, she hoped it was because he was already beginning to fall for her manipulative seduction.
The house elves greeted her warmly, not forgetting her valiant efforts of S.P.E.W, and made her breakfast despite the preparations for lunch. She ate until she was full and left with two big mugs of hot chocolate, one for her and one for Draco.
When she walked through the doors of the Great Hall, she was shocked at the transformation Draco had managed to accomplish – all the hanging decorations had been up, the water had been swept away and the tables had been cleared so a small stage could be set up. The prefects were sweeping up the floors and setting up the stage as best they could, but a few of the older students were just sitting around. Dumbledore had told Hermione he would bewitch the dance floor area to shine, but that would take place minutes before the masquerade was to begin.
Hermione walked up behind Draco, who was sitting on one of the wooden benches left behind, and passed him the mug over his shoulder. “Hot chocolate.”
He didn’t seem surprised as he took it and sat it down next to him. “Not thirsty, but thank you, I suppose.”
She sighed and sat down next to him on the other side. “I really appreciate this, you know. I was so...”
She nodded. “I guess that’s an accurate word.”
He awkwardly reached out and pat her on the back. “Well you put together quite an event. I’m sure it’ll turn out great.”
Hermione blushed as he drew his hand back and reached for his mug. “Thank you, Draco.”
Draco? He nodded. “Well everyone’s about done, I’m going to go ahead and tell this sad lot to clear out.”
She watched as he got up and started barking at everyone to get out and go do something with their lives, but she was sure the others could tell he was trying to say thank you in his own way. Without saying goodbye she left the Great Hall, watching her feet while she thought about what she was going to do tonight to move into seducing Draco.
Standing at the top of the staircase, hands in his pockets and looking more attractive than she’d admit, was Davin. She smiled brightly and waved her hand. “Hi Davin!”
When she made it up to him he drew her into an intimate hug and kissed her cheek. “You look tired, are you feeling alright?”
Hermione laughed lightly. “Oh I’m fine, I didn’t have to do nearly as much as I thought. Draco stepped in to take the burden.”
A weird emotion flashed across Davin’s face but was gone in a second. “Draco, eh? Seems he’s being nice to you now that you and Blaise are over.”
She clutched the mug. “I’m sure that has nothing to do with it. It’s inevitable that we would come to somewhat of a truce, we spend a good amount of time together between classes and Head duties.”
“And living quarters!” Davin added with a wink, which Hermione pursed her lips at. “Oh I’m just kidding, love. You’re way out of his league.”
At this comment she blushed. “You really don’t need to bribe me with compliments, just tell me what you want so I can get upstairs and relax.”
Davin grinned and slipped his hand into her free one. “Why don’t you accompany me to the Halloween Masquerade tonight?”
She instantly began thinking like a seducer, wanting to manipulate the situation – leave Davin guessing who she was going with, make him think he had a chance of finding her that night, making him want her without being able to.
She squeezed his hand. “Let’s play a game, shall we?”
Davin grinned. “Of course, kitten. The rules?”
“If you manage to correctly identify me before the unveiling at midnight, I’ll grant you one wish.”
“And what should I say when I find you, which I’m confident I can do.”
“Tie a scarlet ribbon on my wrist. If you get it right, I’ll ask you what your wish is. If you get it wrong, the girl will most likely be confused and react in an unpleasant way. You can guess as much as you want, but you can’t ask if it’s me. You can only tie the ribbon once.”
Davin nodded and brought her hand up to kiss it. “See you tonight.”
Hermione watched him walk off before turning around and realizing that they had walked to the Head’s common room. When she walked in she noticed she had only a few hours until she needed to meet Draco at the top of the last flight of the Grand Staircase. It was just enough time to relax in a bath before getting ready. She prepped a hot bubble bath and sat down gently in the water before opening her book to Part Two, the Seductive process.
“Most of us understand that certain actions on our part will have a pleasing and seductive effect on the person we would like to seduce. The problem is that we are generally too self-absorbed: We think more about what we want from others than what they could want from us. We may occasionally do something that is seductive, but often we follow this up with a selfish or aggressive action (we are in a hurry to get what we want); or, unaware of what we are doing, we show a side of ourselves that is petty and banal, deflating any illusions or fantasies a person might have about us. Our attempts at seduction usually do not last long enough to create much of an effect.
You will not seduce anyone by simply depending on your engaging personality, or by occasionally doing something noble or alluring. Seduction is a process that occurs over time–the longer you take and the slower you go, the deeper you will penetrate into the mind of your victim. It is an art that requires patience, focus, and strategic thinking. You need to always be one step ahead of your victim, throwing dust in their eyes, casting a spell, keeping them off balance.”
Hermione bit her lip before sinking down below the bubbles and letting the water completely submerge her. How could she remain one step ahead in seducing someone? With exaggerated bubbles she popped her head back to the surface and dried her hands on the towel hanging next to the tub before picking the book up again.
“Because people’s thoughts tend to revolve around their daily concerns and insecurities, you cannot proceed with a seduction until you slowly put their anxieties to sleep and fill their distracted minds with thoughts of you.”
But how do you do that?
“Mystery is the lifeblood of seduction and to maintain it you have to constantly surprise your victims, stir things up, even shock them. A seduction should never settle into a comfortable routine.”
Well there are few things more mysterious than a masquerade...
“A seducer cannot be timid or merciful.”
She set the book down. Her whole life she had been nothing but sweet, caring and understanding. Of course there were times when her patience was tested but for the most part she was nothing but a nice person. How could she not be merciful? Maybe there was a way around it if she seduced a certain victim...
“At all cost, resist the temptation to hurry to the climax of your seduction, or to improvise. You are not being seductive but selfish. Everything in daily life is hurried and improvised, and you need to offer something different. By taking your time and respecting the seductive process you will not only break down your victim’s resistance, you will make them fall in love.”
Yes, that’s what she wanted. If the seductive process led to love, and not just a meaningless lust-filled tryst, then that’s what she wanted. If she had to flaunt her womanly figure or bat her eyelashes to get there, then surely the end would justify the means.
Phase One, Separation – Stirring Interest and Desire
1 – Choose the Right Victim
“Everything depends on the target of your seduction. Study your prey thoroughly, and choose only those who will prove susceptible to your charms. The right victims are those for whom you can fill a void, who see in you something exotic. They are often isolated or at least somewhat unhappy (perhaps because of recent adverse circumstances), or can easily be made so – for the completely contented person is almost impossible to seduce. The perfect victim has some natural quality that attracts you. The strong emotions this quality inspires will help make your seductive maneuvers seem more natural and dynamic. The perfect victim allows for the perfect chase.”
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