Chapter 12 : Among the Struggle and the Outside
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Shit, I thought, placing my sweaty fingers on my forehead. Shit shit shit.
I had spent the past 6 hours attempting to figure out who it was who had sent that letter, who it was that had seen me and Hermione together. I had dissected the letter, taken clues from everything I could, and so far I had deduced several things.
For one, I knew that whoever it was that had written the letter was involved in the dark arts: I knew this because they referred to You-Know-Who as “The Dark Lord,” something that only Slytherins and Death Eaters did. That was a huge clue.
I also knew it was a male, most likely an adult or older student: I knew this because of the small, neat handwriting on the scroll I had received.
I had also learned that this person knew my parents, or at least knew enough about them to be aware of what their reaction to my acquaintance with Hermione would be: I knew this because they mentioned them. That’s obvious. But the fact that they knew them lead me to believe that this person was involved in the Dark Arts, and probably closely acquainted with either my parents or someone who was acquainted with my parents. This clue alone made me think that it was maybe Pansy, because she could always tell her parents who would then pass on the information. However, Pansy was not very smart, not at all, and she would never have been able to be this sneaky. She probably would have made a scene and slapped me and Hermione in front of the whole school, claiming that I cheated on her (even if everyone knew I hated her guts, Pansy was still the one person who would never figure it out, like I said, she’s not the smartest knife in the bunch.)
Something else I had deduced, however, and only recently, was that this person was genuinely worried for mine and Hermione’s well being. Or else he would never have bothered to send the letter, right? Also, something that surprised me, was the fact that he called Hermione the “muggle born,” not a “mudblood,” which is what any Slytherin or Death Eater would have called her. This was the information that confused me the most. If this person was involved in the Dark Arts or was a Death Eater, then wouldn’t he be selfish and turn us in in order to make himself look better? A true Death Eater would sacrifice anyone for himself.
After coming to all of these separate conclusions, I realized that there was not a single person in existence that had all of these traits. So I was stumped.
After reviewing every single assumption that I had made in the past 6 hours for the millionth time that morning, I sighed once again, threw my green satin bedclothes off of me, and rolled off of bed to get ready as quick as I could so I could head down to breakfast.
I threw my robes on hurriedly, almost walking out the door with them on backwards. I rushed to grab my school books and supplies and ran out of the door, practically running now that I knew that class would start soon.
I was also very anxious to figure out who it was that had sent me the letter about my thing (for lack of a better word) with Hermione. I knew that simply thinking about it in bed was not going to get me anywhere. This was a mystery that I needed to solve, something that would only be figured out if I got out in the world and actively tried to fix it.
Slowing my pace in the corridors, I sighed, still thinking about Hermione.
There was no way I was just going to stop talking to her altogether. Not after everything I had achieved last night! I had actually gotten her to kiss me, something I had been waiting for for ages.
And it truly was wonderful, the best kiss I had ever experience.
I say that, not only because Hermione’s technique was exquisite (and it was, trust me), but because I had real feelings for her. I really really liked her, and when she and I kissed, it made my entire body shiver with pleasure and my heart plummet what felt like thousands of miles down my body.
This girl was driving me insane.
I finally entered the Great Hall and walked towards the Slytherin Table, my head held high.
Just as I was about to sit in the middle of the table, my mind elsewhere and not noticing who I was about to sit next to, I heard a shrill voice speak my name.
“Good morning, Draco, would you like some coffee?” I turned my head and saw Pansy Parkinson with two mugs and a pitcher of coffee sitting at one end of the Slytherin table in the Great Hall. I shook my head; walked straight passed her, and chose to sit down several feet away between Montague and Warrington, two boys from the Slytherin Quidditch team. I wordlessly filled my plate with fried potatoes and eggs while Warrington watched me humorously. He handed me a mug and filled it with coffee.
“Thanks,” I murmured, and dug in without another word, switching between filling my mouth with food and pouring sugar and cream into my coffee.
I glanced around the Great Hall as I took my first sip of coffee cautiously. I saw Dumbledore speaking with McGonagall, and that Grubbly-Plank woman talking to the Astronomy teacher. I remembered that the oaf, Hagrid, was absent from Hogwarts and would be for the next few weeks at the least. My father had told me some time into the summer holidays that when Macnair had gone to visit the giants and convince them to join You-Know-Who’s “cause,” the gurg of the giants had told him and Yaxley that Hagrid was there with Madame Maxime from Beauxbatons. I had half hoped that his absence was caused by disappearance or death, as the miserable fool was one of the worst things about Hogwarts in my opinion, but I also knew how much Hermione cared for the half-giant, so for her sake, I hoped that he was just taking a really long route back to Hogwarts. Also, as I reviewed my previous opinions on Hagrid, I sort of realized that I had been wrong to say and think a lot of the things that I used to.
Merlin, Hermione was really changing everything about me. She was even changing who I bloody liked or not.
As my train of thought turned back to Hermione yet again (it seemed to be doing that a lot lately), I inconspicuously glanced towards the Gryffindor table in search of her. She was in conversation with Potter and three of the Weasleys; the twins and Ron.
She was so beautiful.
I turned back to my breakfast and thought of our kiss from last night. It had been possibly the greatest moment of my life when we had finally given into the feelings that I knew now we had both been harboring since last year. It had sort of ruined the moment when we discovered that somebody knew about us and that we were most likely in danger.
I shook my head slightly and frowned at the memory, then attempted to get my mind off of the matter by talking Quidditch with my fellow teammates.
“Montague,” I said quickly, turning to him. I hadn’t even realized that he had been engaged in conversation with some girl sitting across from him, but continued anyway. He had enough respect for me to stop what he was saying and listen to me. I was really very important to the rest of the Slytherin House. “When are you holding tryouts? We need beaters.” Montague smirked at me, suddenly very interested.
“This Saturday night. Got any ideas who might make the cut?” He looked around the table as if looking for people with a typical beater’s build.
“I’ve no idea,” I said. “As long as they can hit a ball with a bat and have good aim, I don’t give a shit who it is.” I looked at Montague expectantly, as he was still assessing all the members of Slytherin House.
“What about your friends, Crabbe and Goyle?” he asked, and I followed his appraising line of sight; he was considering the two baboons that followed me around everywhere. “They’re huge.”
“They could work,” I said, keeping it short. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the two joining me in Quidditch practice as well; that was the only place I could get away from them. As long as they didn’t bring Parkinson along with them, I guessed, there wouldn’t be much of a problem. I glanced back at them and nodded, Montague’s questioning glance upon me now. “Yeah, they would do the job pretty well actually.”
“Then that’s settled,” Montague said triumphantly. “We’ll just go ahead and have practice on Saturday night then, try them out. We can hold tryouts later if they suck.” I nodded and was silent.
Still not sufficiently occupied, my thoughts travelled back to Hermione, and I glanced back over in her direction. This time, she was facing me.
Shocked to see Hermione’s eyes on me, I glanced away so as not to be detected. Then I slowly turned back towards her, acting as if I was simply glancing around the room.
Hermione smiled sadly at me from her place at the table, and shrugged. Potter and Weasley were engaged in conversation next to her, completely oblivious to her actions.
I tilted my head to the side sadly, trying to tell her with my eyes how heartbroken I was, and how sorry I was for leaving her like that last night.
Hermione glanced around her, then in a very bold move, looked straight at me, then held the palm of her hand to her chest, right above her heart. She then closed her eyes and smiled as if in bliss, as if thinking of some distant memory that brought her happiness.
Thinking of last night, I did the same thing and closed my eyes. I wondered if she was thinking of our kiss as well.
Not too long afterward did Professor Snape walk up to us, schedules in hand for all the Slytherins.
I snapped out of my reverie, and opened my eyes, wondering if anyone had noticed that I was looking all lovesick and pathetic. I glanced back at Hermione; she was just receiving her schedule from Professor McGonagall.
As Snape was making corrections to Warrington’s schedule next to me, I caught sight of his handwriting.
I choked on the coffee I was finishing, and, eyes bulging out of their sockets, I looked up into Snape’s unwavering eyes, which were now trained on me.
His handwriting was an exact match to the letter I had received last night.
“Look at today!” Ron was saying, and I turned to him, away from the Slytherin Table, where I had been looking a second earlier. I put my newspaper down, from which I was hiding, and looked at Ron, who was looking wide-eyed at his schedule. I quickly pounced on mine and groaned inwardly.
“History of Magic, double Potions, Divination, and double Defense Against the Dark Arts!” Ron said, outraged. “Binns, Snape, Trelawney, and that Umbridge woman all in one day!”
I rolled my eyes. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with Trelawney this year, like Harry and Ron would. I only had to go to Arithmancy with Professor Vector.
As Fred and George came by, I tried my best to ignore the nagging suspicion I had that they were up to trouble. I had other pressing matters on my mind.
Eventually, Harry, Ron and I needed to leave for History of Magic. On the way out of the Great Hall, however, Ginny caught up to us. She had a determined look on her face, and she grabbed my arm, claiming to need to talk to me about something.
She dragged me into the bathroom, made sure nobody was in there with us, and turned to me, eyes wide.
“What happened last night with Draco Malfoy?!” she asked, affronted.
“How did you know I was with Draco?!” I shot back at her, almost scared at her accuracy with what was going on in my life. “Did you follow me?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “You forget how well I’ve gotten to know you, Hermione.” She said, and I shrugged, defeated. “So are you going to tell me??”
I sighed and began my story.
“He kissed me.” I said quietly, a smile creeping up on my face.
Ginny jumped for joy, squealing and smiling. “I knew it!” she said. “I knew you liked him and I knew he like you!! Oh, this is so wonderful!”
I smiled genuinely, thinking back to the kiss. It really was wonderful; there was no doubt about that. But there was something else that had happened that made the night not so wonderful.
“Ginny,” I began, cringing slightly at what I knew would be her reaction. “Something else happened too…” I trailed off as Ginny’s smile faded and her jumps subsided. She seemed to really anticipate the gravity of what I was about to tell her.
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