Celeste threw herself off her broom and onto Draco’s in midair, jumping into his arms laughing. She was elated, dimples forming in her cheeks. Although the rain was still pelting down and the sky was grey and dismal, this could not disguise the true joy the Slytherins felt. Some of the boys who had landed had begun a little choreographed dance of celebration, at which the crowds roared.
The stands soon began to thin and as the students walked up to the castle, the Slytherins were still running about on the grass.
Draco carefully landed on the ground with Celeste around his neck.
“I can’t believe we did it,” she squeaked.
“What?” Draco laughed. “I thought you were confident.”
She shook her head, laughing. “The art of a great captain: fill your team with confidence even if you’re not so full of it yourself.”
“Great advice to follow,” he said while she went off to pick up her fallen broom.
“Listen, Draco…” She leant against her broomstick. “I was thinking, later in the common room -”
“WEASLEY!” Draco dropped his broom and darted fast across the grass. Ron did not have time to move or register what was about to happen.
“Ron, look out!” shouted Luna Lovegood who had a giant pair of taupe wings attached to her back.
But it was too late. Draco had tackled Ron to the ground and they were rolling about in the mud, hitting and punching one another as if it were a battle to the death.
“Draco, no!” Hermione rushed down the wooden steps when she realised what was going on. Other Gryffindors moved aside to let her through as the boys fought in the mud. Hermione threw herself down and tried to separate them; Draco had punched Ron in the stomach and Ron reciprocated by kneeing Draco in his groin. He grunted and rolled over momentarily. Ron took this opportunity to thump Draco in the back while had he the chance to, at which he sprawled across the grass helplessly.
“Ron!” Hermione shouted, torn between the two of them. She rushed over to Draco who she helped up. “What do you think you are doing?!” she said in a motherly tone.
“Do you expect me to do nothing after this morning?” he retorted angrily.
“Be mad, cry, moan, shout, but don’t fight him. He did nothing wrong. If you’re going to be like that then…well…you may as well hit me too.” Hr eyes glazed over and her lip quivered childishly. Draco knew that this was a sign of total sadness. She would not begin to cry otherwise. Maybe she didn’t want to kiss Weasley after all…
“Don’t be stupid.” His moody glare softened lightly as he reached up, meaning to brush a tear away; she rubbed it away herself before he had the chance.
“Well, I’m as much to blame,” Hermione whispered.
Draco sighed and held onto his side, which was no doubt bruised. Ron was bleeding from his nose and his leg and he was holding his stomach as he laid on the ground with most of the Gryffindor girls over him, including his sister.
Hermione turned to Draco. “You really hurt him.” She rushed over to Ron’s side. “Are you alright?”
Ron coughed. “Oh, of course I am,” he said sarcastically. “Because he didn’t just try to kill me!”
“Well he wouldn’t have if you didn’t kiss me in front of him and everybody else in the Great Hall,” Hermione muttered while looking over his face.
Ginny’s eyes widened and she shook her head sadly.
“Ginny,” Hermione began. “I’m sorry for -”
“And what is going on here?” Professor Umbridge had reached the bottom of the stands and was looking upon all of the commotion. Celeste was fussing over Draco and trying to convince him to go into the changing rooms, but he stayed to see what Umbridge had to say.
The crowd began to disperse around them as other teachers hurried the onlookers on.
“I was attacked!” Ron shouted, pointing at Draco.
Draco opened his mouth to explain but nothing would surface.
Hermione rubbed her muddy clothes and said, “I think we should get Ron to the Hospital Wing.”
“Rightly said, Miss Granger. Miss Weasley, take your brother to Madam Pomfrey.” Ginny complied and carefully with Ron over her shoulder, walked up to the castle.
It began to rain heavily, adding to the already depressing weather.
Umbridge smiled. “As for you two -” She pointed at Hermione and Draco with her wand. “ - Come with me.”
Draco stared at Celeste, who gave him a small hug and joined Hermione (who was very very angry at him) in walking up to the castle behind Professor Umbridge.
Shivering and wet, they both were told to wait just outside Umbridge’s office while she went inside.
Hermione sighed and remained silent, although she could not help but look over at Draco as he leant against the stone wall. He looked great. Words could not describe how much he had changed since they were young and even since the beginning of the year. The muscles in his arms could clearly be seen through his soaking wet green Quidditch jersey. He looked very grown up and - dare she say it - sexy. Wet blonde hair was plastered to his face and rain was spotted over his very straight nose. He had a strong jaw and broad shoulders.
“How are you?” she muttered meekly.
“Fine. You?” Draco took this question lightly; Hermione would have asked a stranger how they were.
She shrugged. “Cold.”
“I mean, after Cedric -” Draco began, his eyes wondering over to hers.
“Finally found the guts to say his name?” Hermione shot out defensively. It was an impulse which she had no control over and even after she had said it, regretted saying them.
“I never lost them,” he retorted strongly.
“Whatever.” She folded her arms and turned away from him, her angry glare dissolving into embarrassment.
He turned her body to face him. “I’m sorry, why are you angry at me like I was the one who killed him?”
“You don’t see why I’m angry?” she said softly. He was unreal.
“Then that’s your problem. If you don’t see it there’s no point in us speaking with one another.”
“Like we were speaking anyway,” Draco muttered sarcastically.
Hermione heaved her breath from her chest. “This is your fault. If you hadn’t attacked Ronald -”
“Well, Ronald had it coming. What the hell were you playing at, Hermione? After all I’ve done to try and get you back…”
“I - I…” Her voice faltered as she tried to gather her composure.
The door beside them flew open and Umbridge called Draco in. He stormed inside and lounged in the chair opposite hers at the desk.
Umbridge squeaked a little, thinking about the muddy and wet clothes on her silky peach armchair. She sighed. “So, you physically assaulted a fellow student?”
Draco sighed. “Yes. But only because -”
Umbridge held up her hand. “I don’t care why, Master Malfoy. Just don’t let it happen again.” She raised herself from her chair and Draco’s eyes followed her to the closed door.
“You’re not going to punish me?” he asked, utterly baffled by her.
“No. Anybody in association with Albus Dumbledore and/or Harry Potter deserves to be punished.”
Draco frowned. He thought she was absolutely crazy and did not know why or how she was allowed to teach at Hogwarts. He would have thought that she would at least take points from his house. He wondered whether or not she belonged to Slytherin House when she attended Hogwarts.
When they left the office, Umbridge turned to Hermione. “I believe you owe me a detention.”
“Yes. Tonight. At six.”
“Well, I have decided to reschedule that. You will be serving your detention now.”
“Now?” Hermione repeated, dumbfounded. “I have Arithmancy to revise for.”
“You can’t do this, Professor,” Draco said.
“I’m sure a little studying can be postponed for such a…smart…girl as you. Come inside.”
Hermione stepped inside and Draco followed.
“You can’t be serious, Professor,” Draco pleaded.
“Deadly,” she said. “In you come, Miss Granger.”
There was another door on the other side of her office which did not look welcoming.
“Professor, no.” Draco said. “If this is about what Hermione said in class the other day…”
“Why do you object, Mr Malfoy? You’re not even her friend.” Umbridge smiled while her hand rested on the doorknob.
Hermione stared at Draco and she only just realised that his hand was gripped around her arm. He loosened it and turned away.
“You’re right Professor,” he whispered, ashamed. He could not go back on this now. Hermione had already shown him that she did not want him. Also, Hermione had to serve this detention…but if she was hurt in any way…
“I know I am.” Umbridge grabbed Hermione’s arm, pulled open the door and they both entered.
Hermione was forced through the door on the other side of the room by the sharp pink fingernails of Professor Umbridge without much hesitation. It was much larger than what it seemed; this looked like a broom cupboard one the outside but was actually the size of a small classroom. There was nothing, except a large wooden chest opposite her and Professor Umbridge behind her.
Umbridge flicked her wand and the chest opened. Suddenly, Hermione felt an intense pain inside of her. It was fear, working its way from her heart and spreading to the rest of her body. She was shaking.
“This is a boggart, Miss Granger,” Umbridge commentated from the corner. “Have you heard of those? I’m sure you have…It seems…that you have felt a lot of fear and pain in your sixteen years of life. Shame…”
Hermione could not resist the tears in her eyes. They fell consecutively, simultaneously, thick and fast. Around her she could see everything. She could see all of her pain just as Umbridge could. The boggart - quite strangely - could not choose an image to change into and not because of the confusion of many people, but because of her own befuddlement. Images flashed around them; Hermione felt like she was going to go crazy. She wanted to tear Umbridge apart for doing this.
Fear scraped at Hermione’s insides, like fire, an explosion settled in her stomach. She keeled over on the ground, screaming and writhing. She was sweating immensely, her nails digging into her palms, her eyes closed tightly, toes curled.
And then there was another cry. It sounded like a newborn child and it was. The pain eased and Hermione looked through teary eyes at the image of a small baby on the ground. It looked strikingly like herself, but had grey eyes. Then came the distorted image of Draco. He held the child and smiled at her. Hermione almost smiled back.
Behind her, Umbridge flicked her wand. The pair of them were immediately set on fire. “And it would seem that you are afraid of fire too.”
Hermione screamed. She thought she could feel it, maybe it was her mind playing tricks on her. Either way, it was terrifying. It was as if each flame wrapped itself around her and it was as thought she could feel the pain of the two imaginary people in front of her. They were screaming too.
“Why are you doing this?!” she screeched at her teacher.
“Well, you were insubordinate. Plus, you are only a mudblood.”
“Where’s my wand?” she said to Umbridge. “Where is it?!”
“No wand for you, Miss Granger,” she said in a singsong voice while twirling her own and Hermione’s wand between her fingers.
“No…” Hermione curled up on the ground sobbing, her chest searing with agony, her lungs restricted. “Ridikulus. Ridikulus. Ridikulus…” she chanted. “Ridikulus…”
Hermione could not see, her eyes growing dark.
Umbridge decided to stop there and levitated Hermione out of her detention. To her surprise, Draco Malfoy was waiting on the other side of the door.
Draco looked down, appalled at the state of Hermione. She was coughing insanely and smoke seemed to be coming out of the small cupboard. Hermione was shaking madly. Draco scooped her from the ground, picked up her wand and left the office as fast as he could.
It took Draco three tries to get into the Prefect’s Bathroom. He was in such a state that he had almost forgotten that the password was ‘Grindylow.’
He placed Hermione down on the edge of the swimming pool-sized bath and gently shook her. But she would not stir. He pulled off his Quidditch jersey and wrapped it around her. Her skin was marked with pink scars and black charcoal, as if she were in a fire…Draco was confused.
He turned the taps on and the bath filled with warm water and bubbles. Draco scooped some water into his hands and let it run over her forehead.
She slowly opened her eyes and Draco helped her sit up.
“Ouch.” Hermione clutched her stomach and lifted her top. There were fleshy pink marks over it, scarring her pale skin.
“What is that?” Draco asked.
“Nothing.” Hermione carefully took her shoes off and put her feet in the water.
Draco did the same. “I’m not blind, Hermione. What did she do to you?”
Hermione paused for a moment to think of how to word this. By the looks of her skin, she guessed that her fears had been for deep and profound that they had crossed from mental in physical pain and she did not know whether it was something that Umbridge had purposely done to make the detentions worse. Draco was once her best friend. It seemed as if he still was. “She…she showed me my fears. It hurt like hell.”
Draco thumped down his fist onto the tiles angrily. “She can’t get away with this.”
“She can and she has. After all, I am just…just a mudblood.”
“Don’t call yourself that.” A tear fell down Hermione’s face. “Did she say that to you?”
Hermione nodded and leaned onto Draco’s shoulder.
“I don’t think you are, Hermione,” he whispered. He carefully and slowly stroked her hair with his hand, his heart skipping at the pace of a racing rabbit.
For a moment, they were silent, bathing in the warmth of the other’s touch, and then suddenly, as if sparked with electricity, jumped away from each other.
“Sorry…” Draco mumbled lightly.
“Yes…” Hermione sighed. “You’re not even my friend, remember?”
Draco looked away in shame. “Right,” he agreed solemnly. “I should be going.”
He dabbed down his feet with a towel and shoved on his muddy Quidditch boots.
“Please don’t,” Hermione pleaded. She walked over to him with wet feet. Nearly falling down, Draco lifted her up again and sat her down on a bench in the corner of the room. She looked at his bare chest and could not breathe. When she did, she smelt his scent; she was still wrapped up in his clothes. Draco was intoxicating and she breathed heavily to drink in this loveliness before he went away from her again.
“You look terrible these days, Draco,” Hermione sympathised.
He laughed. “Thanks.”
“What’s up?” she asked sincerely.
The smile dripped from his face. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Draco rethought his last comment and with closed eyes, he unwrapped the bandage covering his dark mark. It was marked in his skin, deeper than a tattoo, grey and black and very painful. The skull looked at Hermione with hollow eyes threateningly and the snake bound tight around it, symbolising the protracted bond he was forced to have with Voldemort.
He opened his eyes to see Hermione in shock, her mouth open slightly and her eyes filling with water.
“He did this to you?” She placed her fingers on his arm but he pulled it away and began wrapping it back up protectively.
“Trust me, I didn’t do this of my own accord.”
“You’re not a death eater,” Hermione said, shaking her head.
“That’s not what the ministry would think if they catch me with this. So don’t go telling Potter or Weasley about this. I can tell that your allegiances lie with them these days.”
“They are not allegiances. They’re called friendships.”
“I forgot, I’ve never had a real one of those,” Draco said bitterly. That hurt Hermione but she tried her hardest to ignore him because she knew he didn’t mean it. Draco sighed. “This is why I told you not to come back. He’ll never stop.”
“That’s what Harry and the rest of us are trying to prevent.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “It’ll take more than a few teenagers to stop him, Hermione. Don’t you get it?”
“I’m handling it. He sent dementors after us in Diagon Alley in the summer and -”
“What?! You see? He’s already started!”
“I can handle it.”
“No, you can’t. That’s why I warned you.”
“Oh, because I’m weak?” Hermione said, upset.
“Because -” Because I love you he had wanted to say. She had never heard him say it. Seeing it written down was different. It was unemotional, passive. His scrawled handwriting could never be enough to demonstrate his true feelings for her. “D’you know, my father hates me now? And You-Know-Who tortured me when he found out my feelings for you. Thought it was disgusting…”
“Draco,” Hermione muttered. She felt terrible, but she could not find it within herself to tell him that she mirrored his feelings too. In truth, he was never the worst thing that ever happened to her, but the best…she had been lying when she had told him that he had contributed to the worst days of her life.
“And then you decided to come to Hogwarts even after I told you not to. This was only for your safety Hermione and you’ve just decided to throw it all back in my face. I care so much about your life and it seems like you don’t.”
He walked over to the door in a rage.
“Wait.” Hermione jumped off the chair. “You forgot your -”
She was holding out his Quidditch jersey when he slammed the door shut. Hermione slid down the wall and whispered, “Damn it Draco, I love you, too.”
After having a bath, putting on some fresh clothes from the common room and hiding Draco’s clothes under her pillow, Hermione slowly made her way to the Hospital Wing to see Ron and to apologise.
“Who are you here to see?” Madam Pomfrey asked her when she arrived.
“Go on through.” Hermione walked through the bright ward and found Ron sitting in a bed eating a chocolate frog and Harry in the bed next to him in his pyjamas.
“Harry!” Hermione dragged a wooden chair in between the two beds and sat down.“What are you doing in here?”
“Dementor attack,” he said in a whisper, picking at his cuticles.
“What?” she asked.
But Hermione finally understood. “Your detention.”
“How did you -?”
“Just had mine.” Hermione showed him the marks on her body.
“Bloody hell, Hermione,” Ron said.
“I’ve been in here all night since,” Harry said. “Dumbledore sent me here after I tried to tell him what was going on,” he mentioned bitterly. “Madam Pomfrey’s been giving me this horrible medicine for the pain.” He was holding a small bottle of a deep purple liquid.
“Do you feel better now, Harry?” she asked, holding onto the side of his bed eagerly.
“Wow,” Ron said. “No wonder Fred didn’t say anything about his detention. I was just talking to Harry, Hermione, and we were discussing how we don’t do any practical work in Defence Against The Dark Arts. I cannot concentrate with all this reading rubbish. And I need to pass.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“I dunno.” Ron shrugged. “We can't exactly do it ourselves, can we?”
“Ron, that is the best idea you’ve ever had,” Hermione grinned at him and then at Harry, forgetting all about talking to Ron about the day’s events.
That afternoon, Harry and Ron were released from the Hospital Wing and joined Hermione in the Great Hall for their evening meal.
“Ron told me why he was attacked by Malfoy,” Harry muttered to Hermione while staring into his bowl of treacle pudding.
Hermione looked at Ron, who had just jumped into a conversation with Dean, Neville and Seamus about muggle football teams, including West Ham, compared to Quidditch teams.
“Hermione, are you trying to turn him into a death eater?”
She said nothing, banning herself from revealing that that had already happened. All the same, she thought it a very rude question.
“What do you mean, Harry?” she said defensively.
“You haven’t tried to make up with him and kissing Ron…what possessed you to do that?”
“He kissed me, Harry,” she whispered defiantly. “And I pulled away from him.”
“Doesn’t matter, does it? He still saw you.”
“Why do you care, Harry? Draco’s not your concern.”
“Because I care about you. You are my concern.” Hermione blushed a little. “It’ll only hurt you if we have to fight him in the end.”
She knew what Harry had really meant. It would hurt her if Harry had to hurt him - a lot. But Hermione had faith. Draco did not become a death eater voluntarily and she believed that he was doing everything in his power not to conform to the death eater lifestyle.
Hermione looked over at Ginny, who was sitting further down the table with some others in her year. Hermione smiled at her and Ginny smiled back.
Professor Dumbledore stood from his chair and spoke to his students. “This year we have a very special activity for the fifth year students to be involved in. All fifth year students will be taking part in work experience at the Ministry of Magic two weeks before the Christmas break for one week. Of course, this will limit the prefect count quite a bit, however I trust that the others will overtake the duties carefully. This is a fantastic opportunity for fifth year students as it will entail being within a bustling working environment, preparing them for life after Hogwarts. All of your parents have been notified via owl post and they therefore have the authority as to whether or not you will be withdrawn. Places will be allocated two nights from now whereupon envelopes will be awaiting you in your dorms revealing your position. If you are unhappy, please speak with your Head of House. Now, seeing as you all look as though you have finished your meals…” Dumbledore clapped his hands together and the plates, cutlery and glasses disappeared. “Have a good night and -”
“Hem hem.” Professor Umbridge stood up. “As High Inquisitor, I would like to impress upon the fifth year students that any bad behaviour will be punished by a month’s worth of detentions, a ban from any job within the Ministry and maybe even expulsion from Hogwarts.”
Dumbledore stood forward and said, “As Headmaster, I would like to impress upon you that there will be no punishment for misbehaviour during the work experience.”
A few of the students chuckled, including Harry, Ron and Hermione at Umbridge’s embarrassment.
Umbridge stood once more in a rage. “The sport of Quidditch, as of now, has been disbanded due to violence of the filthiest kind; such behaviour was witnessed this afternoon and it must be noted that this is unacceptable.” The boos began and some boys even stood up and shouted abuse at her. “Thank you.”
“Surely Dumbledore could do something about this?” Harry said, worry creased in his brow.
“I have written the Minister of Magic and the Decree should be enforced by morning,” Umbridge concluded.
“Not if it’s one of those silly decree he can’t,” Ron muttered hopelessly. If he did not feel already that he had let his team down with his near-abysmal Keeping skills, that must be nothing compared to how he felt about causing the whole school to be robbed of the sport.
Dumbledore sat down quietly in thought to himself while the students dispersed from the hall angrily. Most did not understand what had happened, others were rushing to dorms for their brooms to fit in a flying session before morning while others still were sharing the Malfoy-Weasley fight story among the crowd, not bothering to whisper as the two in question passed.
The next day was a Sunday, so the castle was quiet. Hermione still had to commit to her prefect duties, so she changed into her uniform and passed through the common room and made her way to the first floor.
She walked about for a while, the corridors mostly empty, until she stumbled upon a pair of students wrapped around each other in an extremely passionate kiss.
“Could you take this elsewhere please?” Hermione asked kindly.
The blonde girl and the brown-haired boy separated with a smile.
The boy said, “There’s nowhere else, really.”
“Are you sure?” Hermione said. “What about your common room?”
“I’m a Hufflepuff and he’s Slytherin,” the girl said.
“Right.” Hermione tried not to think of Draco but was not successful.
“People in my house aren’t so accepting of Slytherins,” the girl continued.
“I know what you mean.” Gryffindors could be so pushy; she remembered the snide looks she had witnessed from older kids when she and Draco were best friends two years ago. She guessed that the other houses were just as judgemental.
“Hey, aren’t you Hermione Granger?” the boy asked.
She nodded cautiously.
“I know Draco Malfoy,” he revealed. “Well, I know of him. I’m a seventh year, so we’ve never spoken, but the word in the common room is that he’s dating Celeste Ironcore.”
“And why are you telling me this?” Hermione asked, so angry that she could have swung for him.
“I-I thought you were friends.” He shifted nervously once he had realised his error.
“No, Matthew,” his girlfriend said. “They’re not anymore.”
“Oops. Sorry. What I was getting at was that apparently he doesn’t even like her.”
Hermione walked away from them. She did not have time for this. They could stay kissing each other all day for all she cared. How is it that the whole castle knew about her situation with Draco? She had never told these people personally. Was gossip really this detrimental and this contagious? Somehow she had felt a tiny portion of what Harry got on a daily basis and sorely sympathised for him. Especially now that he was being slandered by the Daily Prophet whenever they could…
As Hermione stormed down the corridor, bushy hair flying behind her in the encompassing wind, something caught her eye beyond the stone window frame out on the grounds. She paused and looked through the gaping window. Draco was on his hands and knees in the grounds with Herbology equipment scattered around him. He was up to his elbows in dirt as he dug up the earth. Hermione scurried down the steps and ran out of the castle doors to watch him. She was stood a safe distance away while Draco continued. She realised that he was replanting rosebushes and he was putting a lot of effort into it. Hermione never knew that he had joined the Herbology Club; she had heard from Susan Bones that Madam Pomfrey had students plant various flowers or organise the greenhouses when there was no real work to be done.
Draco wiped his sweaty forehead under the beating sun and Hermione sighed. He was a sweet boy at heart, as she always knew. He was caring and everything she wanted in a best friend and in a boyfriend.
All she had to do was…ask him?
A/N: you wanted more, so you have more. this is two chapters in one so that is the reason why it is so long. also, just in case more people ask me why Hermione is16 in her 5th year (and i know most of you already know) its because she is one of the oldest and her birthday is in september. everyone enters the year the same age but then obviously get older at different times (Ron in March, Draco in June, Harry in July). Sorry again if you already know this. All you dramione fans will be extremely satisfied in coming chapters so please continue reading and continue to review and tell me how i'm doing :)
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