Hermione was strolling around the deserted corridors of the castle, deep in thoughts, when she saw someone leaving the boys’ bathroom. In the semi-darkness she could only see that the guy was blond. She didn’t want to pay more attention to him but he had a bad cough and was moving slowly, leaning against the wall at times.
Hermione walked up to the blond boy and now she could recognise him. It was Nils Hansen, the quiet Norwegian Gryffindor.
’Are you all right?’ She asked concerned.
Draco Malfoy looked at her in shock. He had painful stomach-cramps, he felt dizzy and sick because of that big dose of polyjuice potion; and, on top of all, the Mudblood was lurking around the boys’ bathroom to bump into none else but him.
He nodded and tried to breathe evenly.
’I’m okay,’ he choked, instead of barking something like ’None of your business, Mudblood.’
Hermione hesitated. Was it the right moment to ask him? She plucked up all her courage.
’Nils… I’ve been thinking… I mean, it’s crossed my mind… Uhm…’ She stammered embarrassed, avoiding his eyes. ’Can we… Can we talk in private?’ She gulped.
Malfoy raised his eyebrows.
’About what?’ He asked suspiciously.
’Uhm… Let’s go somewhere… quiet.’ Hermione headed to a broom closet nearby.
Now it was Malfoy who got embarrassed. He had planned to stay close to the members of Potter’s trio, but to be that close to Granger in a broom closet… He didn’t expect it much. And he didn’t want it much.
But he followed her, hoping she would talk about the way to get Felix Felicis.
It was strange for him to be in a broom closet with Hermione Granger. He had been there with Pansy, doing things other than talking...
’Nils…’ Hermione began talking and Malfoy was glad that she reminded him of the fact that he was Nils Hansen now, not Draco Malfoy. He almost forgot it. He raked his fingers through his blond hair, it felt good, it felt familiar.
’Nils, probably you know that Ron… Ron Weasley is dating Lavender Brown.’ She looked at Malfoy questioningly.
He raised his eyebrows and nodded. Everybody knew that in Hogwarts, even Filch’s cat.
’And you might know that… I… I like Ron… How to put it…’
’He’s your crush,’ Nils-Malfoy gave her a short definiton.
Hermione looked at him surprised.
’Well… Yes. In fact, he is.’ She was a bit shocked that others can see the situation so clearly.
’And what am I to do with that?’ Malfoy started to be impatient. He suspected Hermione wouldn’t talk about getting the lucky liquid.
’I’d like to ask you a favour. I need your help. I’d like you to pretend to be my boyfriend. To make Ron jealous.’
Malfoy listened to her with eyes wide. He just couldn’t believe his ears. The Mudblood wanted him, Draco Malfoy, to be her boyfriend?! To hold her hand, to kiss her in public? No way. No way.
But now he couldn’t send the Mudblood to hell so easily. Now he was Nils Hansen, a quiet and shy, somewhat polite Gryffindor.
’You know… I’m not really interested in… girls.’ Nils-Malfoy whispered and he hoped the excuse will be convincing enough.
’Are you interested in… boys?’ Hermione asked curiously though she knew it was not her business.
’No…’ Nils-Malfoy blushed. ’I mean, I’ve never been in love.’ Actually it wasn’t a lie. He had had lots of girlfriends but he had never fallen in love with any of them.
’It doesn’t matter that you’re inexperienced…’ Hermione encouraged him kindly and Malfoy almost laughed out loud: nobody would have ever called Draco Malfoy inexperienced at dating. ’I just want Ron to think that he’s not important for me anymore… That I’m in love with someone else.’
But she saw Nils was still not motivated enough.
’In return I’ll write your Muggle Studies homework till the end of the term,’ she added desperately.
Malfoy was debating in his mind. ’Being the Mudblood’s boyfriend I could spy on the trio easily… I would get all the information immediately and at the end I could get the vial of Felix Felicis. What’s more I could make the Weasel jealous and upset and I could piss the Mudblood off…’ The idea was tempting.
’Okay, deal,’ he said finally, making up his mind. ’What do you want me to do?’
When Hermione and Nils-Malfoy stepped out of the broom cupboard, they almost bumped into Dumbledore who looked at them surprised.
’Are you looking for me?’ The Headmaster asked absent-mindedly, ignoring the fact that students were not likely to search for him in broom cupboards.
’You wish to enter the competition, don’t you?’ He added.
Hermione and Nils-Malfoy looked at each other embarrassed, then they realised that great opportunity presented itself. The two of them could work in pairs and both of them needed Felix Felicis.
In the office Dumbledore gave them a photograph.
’This is the first station of the treasure hunt,’ the Headmaster pointed at the picture. ’Your adventure will take place in this European capital city. By solving an enigma you can get to the next station.’
’And don’t forget,’ Dumbledore added, ’always cherchez la femme…’ He emphasized the last words and winked at Hermione.
Hermione and Nils-Malfoy were sitting in the library, both studying the photograph Dumbledore had given them.
In the middle of the photo there was a child-size bronze statue wearing a jister’s hat and sitting on a fence. It was a special magic picture, things didn’t only move but there was sound, too. Behind the statue of the child a yellow tram rattled by at times and sightseeing boats could be seen floating on a river. Across the river there was a palace on top of a hill.
’A European capital city…’ Nils-Malfoy wondered.
’A capital city divided by a river,’ Hermione added.
’A city with yellow trams,’ he nodded.
’Okay, let’s get the guide books about the European capitals,’ Hermione sighed and they stood up to collect the books from the shelves.