Chapter 4 : The slip of the tongue.
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Hermione was sitting in the Great Hall eating a light breakfast the next morning with Ginny, who was discussing the horror of rooming with the last remaining Slytherin girl, when the owl post arrived.
The familiar squeak of Ron’s owl, Pigwideon, was heard above her. She looked up to see the little bird hovering overhead, and gently grabbed his tiny leg to begin patiently removing the letter.
She threw a bit of toast at the owl to quiet him down, then tore open the letter.
At the sight of Ron’s messy scrawl, she felt a burning anger wash over her. She could sense Ginny’s curious gaze from across the table.
She opened the letter quickly to read Ron’s messy scrawl, feeling Ginny’s curious gaze from across the table.
I know how you must be feeling right now, but I really hope you understand.
It was just too hard for me to come back.
I know it’s going to be hard for us this year, but I know that we can make it work.
Dad’s gotten me a job in his department at the ministry, I start next week.
You probably know by now that Harry and I are not talking, he didn’t take the news of me not returning well, but I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
We are meant to be together and I promise that I’ll come visit when you go for your first Hogsmeade trip, just let me know when it’s scheduled for and we’ll go for a little date to Madame Puddifoot’s.
Miss you and love you,
Hermione read the note over twice, and found she was even angrier with Ron then before.
Did he actually believe that a little date would be enough?
Hermione scrunched up the note and threw it into her book bag, not wanting to deal with her brainless boyfriend right now.
Thankfully, her thoughts were sidetracked when McGonagall reached her and Ginny with their new class schedules. Hermione took hers excitedly, she hadn’t been to a class in over a year and she was overjoyed with getting back to her old routine.
“Ah, Miss Granger,” McGonagall peered over her glasses at Hermione, shuffling the large stack of schedules into one arm to see her better. “As you will notice on your schedule, you have free periods at the end of today as well as on Thursday. I know you will most likely wish to use this time to study, however as you are now the Head Girl, you and Mr Malfoy will be required to commit this time to planning, organizing, and staying ahead of the duties that accompany your new title. It would also be beneficial for the both of you to get better aquatinted with one another and strive to set aside past differences. You will be meeting him in the library, starting today.”
“What do you mean, get acquainted with one another?” Hermione said, shock leaking into every word.
“Miss Granger, you must understand as you are the Heads of this school, it’s prudent you get along with Mr Malfoy. The two of you must work as a team. Did you retain nothing I said in last night’s speech?”
Hermione looked down, ashamed at herself for arguing with their Headmistress. With one last pointed look, McGonagall walked away from her to continue her distribution. Hermione looked at Ginny for support, but Ginny seemed just as dumbfounded as Hermione.
“Hermione, I...I’m so sorry.” Ginny leaned over and grasped Hermione’s hand sympathetically and sighed. “Just remember H, if he does anything to you at all, just let Harry know. You know he’ll send Malfoy to the depths of Hell if he even looks at you funny.”
Hermione wasn’t sure what to say to this. She had assumed that Ginny was just as concerned about Harry’s anger issues as she was. No matter what Malfoy did or said to her, she was resolved not to involve Harry, she wasn’t an idiot.
Hermione stared at the empty seat beside Ginny. How had she become so unobservant? Once again one of her friends was not among them.
“Ginny,” Hermione said with a groan. “Where on earth is Harry? He never voluntarily misses breakfast!”
Ginny rolled her eyes at Hermione’s inattentiveness.
“Gee, Hermione, you don’t pay attention anymore do you? We walked right past him this morning, remember? He was outside the portrait hole talking to Snape?”
Hermione searched her memory, and banged her hand against her forehead.
Oh yeah! She thought, staring at Ginny with awkwardness. Hermione had in fact noticed Harry’s eagerness to talk to his once most hated teacher. He had raced down the corridor first thing in the morning almost knocking Hermione over.
She really was losing her mind.
Hermione decide that the best thing to do was to just get to her first class. She looked down at her schedule and saw she had Transfiguration first, she loved this class, and hoped the new professor would be just as good as McGonagall had been.
She indicated to Ginny that she was leaving and Ginny followed her quickly. They headed towards the doorway in the Great Hall, unfortunately their passage was blocked by her three least favourite Slytherins.
Malfoy in the middle of the trio appeared to have collected two new cronies as he stared at Hermione with a dangerous smirk on his face.
“So Granger, told you, didn’t I?” He leaned closer to Hermione, but kept a small distance between them “We are going to have a lot of fun this year, although spending two hours with you a week? I can already imagine the red raw of my skin with all the scrubbing I’m going to have to go through.”
Pansy and Zabini sniggered behind Malfoy as Pansy looped her arm around Draco and peered up at him with nauseatingly affectionate eyes. If Hermione hadn’t known better she might have thought that Pansy was trying to make her jealous.
“You have to scrub do you Malfoy?” Hermione matched Malfoy’s sneer with force. “Well then, perhaps while you’re at it, that greasy hair of yours could use a relatively long wash.”
“Oh wait!” Hermione feigned shock as she continued to stare defensively at Draco, who was currently looking at her gobsmacked. “Is that how you actually have your hair? Oh dear Malfoy, I’m so sorry.”
Before Malfoy even had a chance to retort Hermione grabbed Ginny, who was currently looking at Hermione with awe, and shoved past the Slytherins to head up the stairs.
If Hermione was to be perfectly honest; his hair had lost most of its greasiness over the past few years. But she knew that Draco, being the egotist that he was, would find this insult deeply offending.
From behind her head she heard Draco yell something that sincerely sounded like;
“That foul little Mudblood is going to regret that.”
Hermione honestly couldn’t care, she felt proud of her quick retort, and decided to deal with Draco bloody Malfoy later, when she would be forced to actually spend time with him.
Arriving at Transfiguration, Hermione discovered that their new professor was an odd little bald man who sounded very similar to Viktor Krum. She decided that, like Viktor, he must have also come from some part of Bulgaria . His name, as he continually reminded the class, was Professor Ganchev, and Hermione was disappointed to find he wasn’t nearly as good as Professor McGonagall had been and also not as understanding.
Harry had arrived ten minutes late to the class, and even though he apologised profusely to the hairless teacher, Professor Ganchev still decided a punishment was in order.
“I do not care voh you have been visiting, Mr. Potter. You vill still be punished like anybody else, ten points vill be taken from seventh year!” He roared, and everyone looked around confused.
Seventh years? Hermione thought that possibly the pompous little professor was in his right mind, but then she remembered McGonagall’s speech; of course they would be punished as a group now. She tried to force herself to remain calm, but this was becoming more and more absurd.
Harry sat by Hermione and looked over at her, noticing Hermione’s pained expression,
He eyed her questioningly so she quickly explained how her year was going to be ruined by her now scheduled get-together with the blonde Slytherin. Harry listened to her as she whispered rather hastily at him and as she finished up her brief statement Harry seemed to be contemplating something.
“So wait,” he whispered, leaning close to Hermione. He wasn’t going to risk so being overheard by Professor Ganchev.
“Not only to you have to be Heads with that bloody git, you also have to spend two days a week with him? Oh Hermione. Listen, I have those classes off as well, do you want me to come along with you so that if he says or does anything at all, I’ll be with you to fight the stupid prat?”
Hermione hesitated, the moral support of her best friend would mean a lot, but she didn’t want to involve him in this. This was her problem, and besides, there was no way she wanted to look weak in front of Malfoy.
“Listen Harry,” she murmured from the corner of her mouth, because at that moment Professor Ganchev has swept past there table.
“This is something I have to do on my own. You don’t want Malfoy to think I can’t stick up for myself, do you? The last thing I need is that prat thinking I’m weak.”
She peered at Harry and knew he was about to argue his case, but seeing her look of determination he smiled at her weakly.
“You, Hermione Granger, have never been weak, and even if I was with you, Malfoy would know it. But I get it, just let me know if things get out of hand, okay? I really do owe Malfoy a friendly duel.”
He laughed quietly at this and then looked over at the rambling Professor for the first time, finally listening to whatever it was he was talking about.
Transfiguration ended and Hermione, along with Harry, Ginny, and Luna, walked together down to the dungeons for Potions with Professor Slughorn.
Hermione vaguely listened as Luna muttered on about her quest for Scottish crinkle horns and how she was positive that she had procured one with her father over the summer.
“Their eyes supposedly turn to fire when they are excited but of course you have to become friends with one first, otherwise they’re invisible.But the one me and daddy caught, we think he’s coming round, soon enough it will show itself to us.”
Luna continued to ramble on about the creature that Hermione assumed would never in fact ‘show itself,’ until Slughorn began his class. They were to scheduled to start learning how to brew a successful draught of copus coloxsus, a potion that would allow the drinker to see through walls, no matter how thick.
Slughorn seemed to be even fonder of Harry and Hermione than he had been in their sixth year, she knew of course that this was to do with the fact of them bringing the downfall of Voldemort. Hermione got quite the surprise when Slughorn began ever so slightly hinting to the class that it was with his help that they had ever even been able to do it.
She decided to ignore him and continue with her potion, but she had noticed from the corner of her eye that Harry was grinding his teeth. Before she even had a chance to calm him, Ginny was on it. Hermione smiled with relief and looked around the dungeon classroom, she was taken aback to see that even Malfoy was looking extremely irritated at the boasting Professor. He was clenching his fists and hadn’t even noticed that his potion was now on fire.
She wasn’t sure why Malfoy was so irate about this. Was it because he was insulting his old master? Or was it that he was praising Harry and Hermione?
Whatever it was, Hermione decided it wasn’t her problem and went back to finishing her perfect draught of copus coloxsus.
Potions ended and Hermione went to lunch with her odd little group of friends who were now joined by Neville, Dean and Seamus.
They all discussed their summers, of course leaving out the horrible parts, so there discussion was particularly small. But, like Hermione, they all seemed extremely happy to be together again. She began to feel that the year wouldn’t be as bad as she thought now that she was surrounded by these remarkable people.
At least until she remembered that her spare time was to be spent with Malfoy.
Lunch ended with the group still discussing trivial stuff. The boys and Ginny were too submerged into their talk of quidditch, that they barely paid attention as they wondered out into the grounds of Hogwarts towards the Green houses.
Hermione, who had stopped listening, looked around the grounds. She remembered the last time she had seen them: rubble and fire everywhere, with the green grass red from blood and bodies.
She suddenly felt like she could acknowledge Ron’s reasons for not returning, because right in that moment Hermione really didn’t want to be here, not with the memories trying to force themselves to the surface.
At the end of Herbology, Hermione dawdled all the way back up to the castle, the more time she wasted the less time she would have to spend with Draco Malfoy.
She knew that the time she had to spend with him would be filled with insults, and even though she always had and always would have a snarky retort at hand for whatever Malfoy said, she knew deep down, that his words hurt her. Something she would never admit out loud.
Peering into the nearly empty library, Hermione was relieved to see that she had beaten Malfoy there. She grabbed her favourite seat by the window, and opened up her new Charms book, hoping to get in a little reading before she had to endure an hour of misery.
There term was to be focused on Memory charms, Hermione looked through them quickly and realised she’d already learnt the most complex of them during her year on the run with Harry and Ron.
She had used the obliviate spell numerous times now, especially on unsuspecting Death Eaters. The memory of the look of surprise on there face made Hermione feel almost proud of herself.
A loud bang interrupted her thoughts as she leapt out of her seat with a start.
Speaking of death eaters, she thought.
Malfoy had slammed his books against the table as he sat across from Hermione, resentment burning in his eyes
Hermione glared back, hoping to intimidate the little rat, as she sat back down in her seat.
After a minute the situation seemed foolish so she looked out the window, peering out towards the quiditch pitch.
Ten minutes passed without a word from either of them, so Hermione decided to continue reading her book, deciding that silence was probably the best way for the two of them to get through these ridicules meetings. Perhaps Malfoy had figured that out as well.
Hermione suddenly felt Malfoy’s gaze on her, so she decided to peer over her book at him.
“What do you think you’re looking at, Mudblood?” Malfoy sneered.
“Possibly a ferret, Malfoy. But too be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure.”
She grinned over at him, knowing it would bait him on, but not caring. She could feel all the anger of the last couple years inside her and she wanted to get some of it out, Malfoy was the perfect target.
“Actually, on second thought, a Death Eater can basically sum up what I’m seeing”
Outrage filled Malfoy’s face as he stood up and pulled out his wand, Hermione was shocked. Was he seriously going to try and curse her? She enjoyed fighting with Malfoy, but only verbally. This was going too far.
“What on Merlin’s beard do you think you’re doing, Malfoy?
Hermione got out of her chair as well and backed up against the window, also pulling out her wand.
This picture was too close to Hermione’s dream from last night and fear coursed through her; she had never seen Malfoy so terrifyingly angry.
“Why are you looking so shocked, Granger? Isn’t this what you expect of me?’
Malfoy started walking slowly towards Hermione, who couldn’t make sense of what was happening. She wished terribly that there was at least one other person in the library, even mean Madame Pince was nowhere in sight.
“I’m a death eater, didn’t you say? Guess that means I’ll have no hesitation in killing you.”
His words were coming out through his teeth with venom, but his eyes suggested he hated every one of them.
“Malfoy,” Hermione said, trying to use her calming voice. “Think this through; are you actually going to kill me in the library? Everyone will know it was you, and I know just as well as you that you’re not a killer, Malfoy. You never were.”
Hermione watched as some sort of inner battle swept through Malfoy, they both knew the truth to her words. He wasn’t a killer.
Malfoy lowered his wand and looked down at the ground. Hermione slowly let out a breath that she hadn’t been aware she was holding, and lowered her wand as well.
What had just happened? Was Malfoy really going to try to kill her? Shock ran through her, more so when she muttered her next words, she never meant too say them out loud, she hadn’t even known she was thinking them: until it was too late.
“I knew you didn’t have it in you.”
Malfoy looked back over at her with a look she had only ever seen once, in the eyes of Belletrix Lestrange when she was torturing her.
What happened next was a blur.
Malfoy screamed a curse at Hermione, who ducked behind a bookshelf as books and pages flew everywhere.
Malfoy then blew up the shelf which left Hermione out in the open. She didn’t know what to do. She thought quickly, and made a run to the next shelf, but was stopped by another curse which knocked her backwards. She lay sprawled on the ground, her bushy hair a complete tangle over her eyes. Malfoy walked over to her, peering down at her with pure hatred.
Hermione’s realised she still had her wand clutched in her sweaty palm, she raised it towards him and muttered the very first spell that came to her mind as Malfoy screamed a spell at her at the very same time.
“OBLIVIATE,” she screamed
“CRUCIO,” he had screamed.
The pair of spells seemed to linger in the air together between Hermione and Malfoy, almost as though they were trying to decide where to go. Suddenly they seemed to have made their mind up, and to Hermione’s relief both spells blew into Malfoy, he went soaring across the library and crashed into a bookshelf, falling unconscious to the ground.
Hermione remained still for a minute or so, she was shocked to her deepest core. Now that the moment was over, she couldn’t even remember what spell she had used.
She couldn’t believe what had just happened; Malfoy really had tried to kill her. She lifted her head to see that he was still unconscious on the other side of the library.
Where was Madame Pince? Where was anyone? She was positive they had made enough noise to raise the entire castle.
Hermione slowly stood and walked carefully over to Malfoy, she was suddenly worried that she had killed him. Tears ran down her face, she would surely go to Azkaban for this, even if it was Malfoy’s doing.
She knelt by his side, and felt his pulse.
He had one! She felt relief surge through her, he wasn’t dead and that meant he would certainly get the blame.
Hermione went to get up, but stopped as Malfoy’s eyes began to flutter.
He opened them slowly and seemed to be gravely puzzled.
Suddenly, he caught sight of Hermione, and his silver eyes widened in shock.
He’s scared, Hermione thought. Was it because she had won?
Malfoy crept up onto his knees and quickly shuffled into a corner.
Hermione’s confusion grew as she watched him peer around the now destroyed library.
He sat in the corner and began to hug his knees to his chin, slowly rocking back and forth.
He peered over at Hermione and as the next sentence came out of his mouth, she felt herself fall to her knees in shock.
“Who are you?” Malfoy said, looking at Hermione with an expression she had never seen on him before.
Realisation hit Hermione as she watched Malfoy begin touching his face in bewilderment.
He looked back at the now kneeling Hermione and said, “Who am I?”
Hermione’s jaw dropped.
Oh crap! She thought.
A/N --- Well folks, What do you think so far?
The next chapter is when things start getting really good, so please stay tuned and PLEASE REVIEW :)
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