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Chapter 18 : The Sting
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Hermione sat up straight during her next potions lesson, hanging on Professor Snapes’ every word. Her notes were neat as usual, but she paid extra attention to them anyway, just to keep her mind off the boy sitting across from her.
The past few days had been hellacious for Hermione, but her burden was becoming easier to bear. She and Draco had not said a word to each other since the last time they spoke. The only time they locked eyes was when she dreamed of him.
Ron and Ginny had been there for her when she needed them, but she’d been keeping close to herself. She worked out a pattern; Breakfast, lessons, library for lunch, lessons, dinner and then to bed. She never went to the library at nights anymore, instead choosing to spend her time in the Room of Requirement.
She’d loved the solitude, and how it catered itself to fit her needs and wants exactly. It was just what she needed to keep herself grounded.
“Hermione, we’d better get started.” Ron said, standing. “I’ll get the ingredients.”
Hermione nodded, looking over her notes again before preparing the cauldron for what they were brewing today.
“Oh, he’s an amazing kisser, You have no idea!” Came some stage whispers from behind her.
Hermione gritted her teeth and looked forward, trying to block it out.
“He doesn’t talk much, but he fills his silences quite well if you know what I mean.”
A few other girls giggled at the voice, and Hermione immediately guessed it was Pansy blabbing about. She turned around in her chair to face her.
“If you don’t mind, some of us are trying to get work done.” She said tersely. “Keep your business to yourself.”
An ugly sneer crossed Pansy’s puggish face, making her even more unattractive.
“How about you learn to keep your jealous nose out of my business Granger? I can imagine how hard it must be, what with you being so envious of me.”
“You shouldn’t jump to absurd conclusions Pansy.”
“Oh, I’m not jumping. I know for a fact that Gryffindors hate to lose, and you lost didn’t you?” She rose from her station, walking a few paces toward Hermione. “How does it feel Granger? To be left by someone so handsome as he is, and watching him pick me? You should have seen it coming.”
“Shut up Pansy.” Hermione said in a warning tone. She felt Ron’s hand on her shoulder, holding her in her chair. He backed her up.
“Shut your trap Parkinson.” He called. “Leave Hermione alone.”
“Stay out of this Weasley.” She answered, spitting his name, then looking back at Hermione. “It must make you feel horrible.” She looked Hermione over with a sort of predatory air. “I always thought he was crazy for taking up with you. Someone of his stature shouldn’t be seen so much as conversing with an ugly, filthy Mudblood.”
“SHUT UP!” Came a voice from in front of the room. Hermione turned, to see that Draco had risen out of his seat. She looked at him with bewilderment.
He walked to Pansy, ignoring Hermione completely. “Don’t ever call her that again.” He snarled. “Ever.”
Pansy looked shell-shocked, and didn’t even nod. She sat down on her seat again while Draco went back to his.
Professor Snape briefly looked up from the blackboard, then turned his back again.
“Draco I wish a word with you. Now.” He said calmly, striding slowly out of the room.
Draco followed quickly.
Hermione blinked tears from her eyes and shook her head, then proceeded to her work on the potion.
She passed her lunchtime in the library, picking out a few books at a time to scan through. She’d long put the incident in Potions class out of her mind. She didn’t have time to waste dwelling on the motives Draco had for calling Pansy out. She didn’t care anymore.
Hermione was walking down an aisle, running her fingers on the spines of books, when she felt a familiar chill run up her spine. Someone was following her again. She spun around that moment, but there was no one to be seen. Letting out a breath, she faced forward, only to stifle a scream when she saw Draco standing in front of her.
He smirked at her as she dramatically clutched a hand to her heart.
“What the hell Malfoy?! Are you trying to give me a start?” She exclaimed, livid at his presence.
“No,” he said calmly. “I wanted to talk to you.”
Hermione lifted her chin and set her jaw. “I thought we had an agreement.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“I have nothing to say to you, and I don’t want to hear what you have to say to me. Goodbye.” With that she tried to walk away, but Draco grabbed her wrist. Hermione felt another chill run through her, this one more familiar than the last.
Draco leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “I really need to talk to you.”
Hermione was grateful he couldn’t see her face. All the emotion she’d kept locked down the past few days was showing up as blush in her cheeks.
“I don’t care. Let me go.” When he didn’t, she made her voice more forceful. “Now.” He didn’t let up, making her angrier.
“Dammit! Draco let go---“ She moved to slap him, but he caught her other wrist, and now he held her right in front of him.
“I’m apologizing.” He said clearly. His eyes were set and locked on her, gray orbs of intensity. Hermione was a little bit breathless.
“What for?” She said softly.
“Potions class today.”
“Oh.” Hermione said, a little let down. “Well, thank you, but I can take care of myself against your little girlfriend.”
Draco’s lips tightened in an almost sneer. “She’s not my girlfriend.”
“So, you kissed her the other night because she had something on her lips? I’m not a fool Malfoy.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Oh I understand plenty. What do you take me for?” She said, getting riled up again. “Let me go now.”
“You think I’m dating Pansy?”
“Yes I think you’re dating Pansy! Let me go.”
A look of agony crossed Draco’s face for a moment, taking Hermione back a little. “Let me explain.”
“Draco Malfoy. We had an agreement, we are not to be in each other’s way. Let me go now, or I will scream.”
Draco looked angered now too, but dropped her wrists anyway.
Hermione looked at him a moment, then brought her foot down squarely on his toes. He bent down to clutch his foot with a groan, and she used that moment to make her escape.
After her afternoon lessons, Hermione sat in the common room with Ginny at her side.
“He did not say that! He kissed her right on the mouth didn’t he? What nerve! I’ll get him…”
“Don’t worry about it that much Gin. It was just really weird, that’s all.”
Ginny made a noncommittal noise and rolled her eyes. “You can’t let him get to you.”
Ron walked over a moment later, sitting next to his sister on the couch. “Either of you seen Harry lately? He was in our dorm an hour ago.”
“Maybe he went back to the infirmary? To get more medicine?” Ginny supplied.
“What’s Harry sick with?” Hermione wondered. She hadn’t seen him in about a week.
“He had a high fever for a few days, on the mend now.” Ron said, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t know exactly what it was. I’m going to go check the infirmary.”
“I’ll go check Ron, you stay here.” Hermione said.
Ron looked like he was about to object, but kept his mouth shut as Hermione strode out to the hallways.
She reached the infirmary quickly and walked through the doors to an empty room.
“Hello?” Hermione called out. “Harry?”
“What?” Harry answered. He had been sitting at a small table in the corner of the room, drinking tea.
“I just came to check on you. Ron told me you’ve been ill.” She said meekly, walking to the table but not sitting down.
He stared at her, green eyes focused on hers. Harry’s lanky body looked very out of place at the small table. He took a sip of his tea and closed his eyes.
“I’m feeling better. I should be back in the tower soon.” He said, his tone dismissing her.
Hermione took the hint and nodded. “I’ll… I’ll see you later then.” Then made her exit.
Harry looked less angry and pained than he had last time they’d spoken, and she was glad for that. Maybe things were looking up.
She walked out of the room with purpose, ready to retire for the night, until she bumped into a strong set of shoulders.
Hermione cursed loudly in her head. Draco was in front of her again, this time his hands were on her shoulders.
“I don’t want to go through this again Malfoy.” She said venomously.
“I’ll make it quick for you Granger, but I will be heard.” He had her cornered. They were in a tight archway beneath a staircase. Their toes were touching each other’s. His eyes were shadowed and tired looking, but intense on her all the same.
“You cannot just force your will over mine! Who the bloody hell do you think you are? I’m tired of all your mixed up, erratic behavior…” Before she knew it, he was kissing her.
One hand at the very base of her back, the other wound in her curly hair. His lips were passionate as they danced with hers, drinking Hermione in with every swift move. She didn’t surrender, she didn’t push away. All that she could think about was how much she had missed his kiss.
She ran her hands through his blond hair, never pulling away from him, and he pulled her closer to him. They were chest to chest, and Hermione could feel every inch of him humming with excitement and fire. She felt his hand drop lower on the back of her robes…
“Hermione.” A sharp voice said.
She gasped, pulling away for a second. Harry stood there in front of them, looking livid.
“I’ll see you in the common room.” He said, clearly wanting her to leave. “I need a word with Malfoy.”
Hermione stood between the two boys. Despite Draco’s slightly flushed face and reddened mouth, he looked ready for the challenge.
“Harry, I don’t think…”
“I’ll see you later.” He said between clenched teeth. Hermione had a feeling that he would move her himself if she didn’t make an exit. So, she tugged on Draco’s sleeve as a goodbye, and fled up to the staircase. She didn’t take orders from anyone who was not a teacher.
She peered down at the two boys from her perch as they glared at one another. She was high enough the hear them, but not to be seen by either.
She watched Harry roll his shoulders back and forth for a moment, and was convinced that he was going to hit Draco, but was stunned when he didn’t.
“Malfoy.” She heard him say. Voice full of confusion and disgust. “What the hell are you playing at?”
Draco said nothing.
“She wept endlessly when you left. You tore her to pieces. We all watched her fall for you, how she snuck around to see you. She bent over backwards to make things work, and you broke her.” Harry gave a humorless laugh. “Just like I thought you would.”
Draco made no moves. “I never…. Wanted her to be upset.”
Hermione held back tears at the tone of his voice. He sounded wounded and aged.
“Well she was, and a damn sight too. You had her sleepwalking to all your hide outs in the middle of the nights, crying and wanting for you until she finally cut off emotions all together.” Harry spat forcefully. “I know that she loves you still, and you’re using that fact to keep playing games.”
“I never said I didn’t care for her!” Draco snarled, making Hermione’s heart skip a beat.
“You did then, I could see it. Now you’re just toying with her.” Harry glared in silence for a minute. “I don’t care what you think you’re doing, but Hermione is not someone to be messed around with. Take her back, or let her go so she can move on from you. Stringing her along isn’t going to make anything better.”
They locked eyes for another moment more, before Harry spun forcefully away. Draco looked after him for a moment, then looked above him. Hermione held her breath for a minute as she watched his face. She could have sworn he saw her through the shadows.
It was late now, and the common room was empty save for Harry when she walked in. He had a glass of firewhiskey in his fingers.
He looked up and offered a weak smile when he saw her, motioning to the seat across from him. Hermione took it, sitting right on the edge and leaning forward tensely.
“I’m sorry for all of this Hermione.” He said softly, eyes never leaving hers. “I should have backed off a long time ago.”
Hermione inhaled. “It’s alright Harry. I’m sorry too.”
He gave her a weak grin. “I release you from my heart.” He said, attempting humor by mimicking a bird flying away. Hermione laughed. “But, not completely. You’re my best friend first, I’ll never forget that.”
Hermione nodded, squeezing Harry’s hand over the table. “Thanks Harry.” He smiled. “Thank you for what you said to him.”
Harry cocked an eyebrow, then laughed. “I should have known you’d be listening in. You don’t listen to me.”
“Not when you’re ordering me away. Anyway, that meant a lot to me.”
“I meant all of it. I hope he got the message.”
“I think so.” She sighed. The two sat in silence for a minute before Hermione spoke again. “Can you pour me some of that?”
Harry shook his glass a little bit, and laughed. “You’re not going to like it.”
“Who says? Let’s have a sip then.” She said, playfully grabbing for his goblet. Harry rolled his eyes and passed it on.
She took a greater gulp than she should have, causing her to sputter and gag as the liquid burned a trail at the back of her throat.
Harry roared with laughter as she coughed, and she slapped his arm.
“Shut up Harry! I could be dying here.” He chuckled on.
“I’m sorry ‘Mione.” He said, still chortling at her expense. “Go get some water.” She did, then retook her seat. The two drank together, and talked into the night. Settling into a peace between them.
A/N: Hello lovelies :) Hope you enjoyed this chapter! There are onty five left (counting the epilouge) and again, there will be no sequel, but I am writing another story! Surprisingly, this one is not solely a Dramione, and it is not a Dramione love story. Stay tuned for details :) Please leave a review!
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