Chapter 16 : The Trouble a Rubber Bath Toy Can Cause
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It didn’t happen. Not even in the least. In fact, after we were interrupted (I won’t even mention how it happened. It’s too embarrassing), we just sat around and waited for Mathilda to show up. She never did, so it was all for nothing.
“It’s not fair,” I whined to Ducky. He floated aimlessly beside me, looking at me with his somewhat feminine blue eyes. I picked him up, noting that my fingers were getting wrinkles. Mum always called them wizard’s wrinkles and that if I stayed for too long in the tub, I’d shrivel into a pea. Fat chance. She just didn’t like that I took long baths and didn’t let her in. You’d think she’d take a shower in one of the other five hundred loos we have. I made my claim on that bathroom! It was mine. Mine and Ducky’s.
“We were this close!” I whined, holding my fingers close together. “Don’t you feel just terrible for me?”
I made Ducky nod his head. “I knew you’d understand,” I said, placing Ducky back into the water.
The truth is that ever since that night, I haven’t been able to get Granger out of my mind. She’s been growing like a cancer. A horrible, metastasizing cancer.
“Draco?” Oh Merlin! Speak of the devil. Or cancer. Speak of the devil cancer. How did she get in my room?
“How did you get in my room?” I called.
“My shower’s not working. Can I take a shower here?” she sounded uncertain about her decision. Oh god! I have to hide all the incriminating evidence! All the hair product and everything must be hidden! What? I haven’t been able to use magic! Something's got to keep me looking fabulous. I splashed out of the water loudly, shouting, “Give me a few minutes! I’ll be done! She’s like a bloody magician..." I muttered to myself as I rushed about throwing bottles into the cabinets hither and thither.
“Is everything alright in there?” she asked, knocking lightly on the door.
“Fine! Fine, Grang-Hermione!” I threw the last few things into the cabinet before wrapping a towel around my waist quickly. Swinging the door open, I heard a shriek as Grang...Hermione...fell backwards on to me, making me topple over. I landed with an oof, and Hermione landed with a squeak. I groaned, and before I even had time to react, Hermione had sprang up and run to the wall where she stood facing it, repeatedly apologizing and running a hand through her hair.
“It’s fine,” I groaned, pulling myself off the cold floor. “What were you doing leaning against the door? Haven’t you ever learned that that’s a horrible idea?”
She turned a little, but didn’t look at me. “I was...eavesdropping. Well, I mean, there wasn’t much to eavesdrop on, but you were making so much noise in there, and then I forgot I was leaning against the door when I stopped listening to you clatter about.”
I nodded, not really listening as much as staring at her puffy pink bathrobe. Again, did not peg Granger..blast it...Hermione as a pink sort of girl. “Have at it then,” I said, waving my hand at the bathroom. She turned awkwardly, keeping her eyes trained at the floor, muttering a ‘thanks’ before shutting the door loudly and clicking the lock with a determined air.
In retrospect, I really should have remembered Ducky. Trust me. I regret it for the rest of my life.
“Oh. My. God. Draco Malfoy, you have a plastic, rubber duck in your bathtub!” Hermione’s jovial laughter echoes even through the door. I just finished pulling on clothes, and I felt myself go rigid at her words. I ran back to the bathroom door where Hermione’s standing in her pink robe with her hair wet and her hands holding my neglected Ducky. I reached forward to snatch it from her, and she pulled back expertly, hiding Ducky behind her back.
“Explain to me, Mr. Malfoy, how someone like you comes into the possession of a rubber bath toy?” Her eyes sparkle mischievously. Damn it.
I peer down at me feet. This is just embarrassing. “It was a gift.” Please, Merlin, let that be the end of her questions.
“Whoever gave it to you must have mattered very much otherwise you wouldn’t have kept it or even so much as brought it with you on a case.”
Now, why did I think that was the end of her probing? She’s much too smart. Again, where is Pansy when you need her? I stayed silent, hoping that if I didn’t look at her, then I would in time cease to exist in her eyes. What I wouldn’t give to disappear into thin air.
“If you ignore me, it won’t make you go away,” Hermione said smartly. Oh, come on!
I growled a little bit. Fine, Hermione. You wanna play the “get to know Draco” game? It’s never a one-sided game, girly. But first, I’m getting Ducky back.
I looked at her, with her hair dripping, and that devious smile on her face. Well, let’s see if we can’t wipe that smile off her face. I charged forward, catching her by the waist as she let out a squeal, and hoisted her over my shoulder, carrying her (protesting and smacking me) to the bedroom. Oh, get your head out of the gutter! I’m not about to do something gross. Really, you juveniles. As if I need to resort to underhanded methods to get the girls into bed. You make me sad.
“What are you doing?” Hermione continued to shriek even after I set her down.
“Are you done shouting?” I asked impatiently, pulling a chair up beside her. Her screams finally lowered down to a respectable murmur, and she looked at me, absolutely terrified.
“Ducky, please,” I said, outstretching my hand. Apparently, that was enough to erase the terrified look and replace it with her bursting out in laughter.
“You-you-you...call...Ducky! Oh, my god...you’re...” she shook with laughter. She really doesn’t need to laugh that much. I’m sure many respectable people have rubber ducks. I snatched the duck back from her while she was incapacitated with laughing her lungs out.
“Are you done?” I asked, putting Ducky on the drawer as she finally contained her giggles.
“Who gave...Ducky...to you?” she asked, biting the side of her cheek to keep from laughing again, but her eyes were twinkling with amusement.
“Listen here, now, Granger. I tell you this, but then you have to answer a question of mine.”
The smile slipped from her face automatically. A look of curiosity overtook her. “Any question?” she asked. I nodded. Her eyes narrowed in thought, and she adopted that thoughtful look I was so used to seeing in school. I used to hate seeing that face because I knew she was going to have a brilliant idea come out of her mouth any second. I always wanted to beat her to it, but it never worked, of course.
“Only if I get to ask you any question afterwards.”
“Then I have to ask another one!” I shot back.
“Fine. Me too!”
“Let’s flip a coin for who goes first,” I said, retrieving a Muggle coin out of my pocket.
“Give it here,” Hermione ordered. She flipped the coin up, simultaneously claiming, “Heads I win, tails you lose.” She turned her hand over. “Tails. You lose.”
Damn it. How do I keep on losing? Shouldn’t I have a bit more luck? I am a Malfoy. Well, then again, luck isn’t exactly running through the family right now. Hm...there must be a reason, though. Heads I win, tails you...lose...what?! Why, that scheming little witch. Granger’s a cheater!
“Hey!” I shouted, pointing a finger, “You cheated! Heads I win. Tails you lose?”
Granger grinned widely. “Took you long enough to figure out. I used to back in the hotel in Mulberry before too.”
My mouth dropped. Little Miss Granger, the one who always followed the rules, is breaking the rules now. Oh, no, she won’t! I’m a Malfoy! I break the rules! I snatched the coin back from her.
“You’ve lost your privilege of asking the questions!”
“I already asked you!” she laughed.
“No, you’re not allowed to ask any questions ever again. Granger, you are twisting the rules. Playing dirty is what you’re doing,” I said, shaking my head. She giggled a little before folding her arms across her chest.
“I’m waiting for your answer, Draco.”
Oh bugger it all. I hate her.
“Fine!” I took a deep breath. “My mum gave me the duck.”
“Really?” Hermione asked, looking surprised.
“Yeah, don’t look so shocked. You’ve met my mum. You know she’s eccentric,” I said with a shrug. “My turn. What’s with your wardrobe? Didn’t peg you for a pink girl. Or a nightgown girl for that matter.”
“What? Oh! The bathrobe? Just things my parents get me. I haven’t seen them in a long time, and these things help me remember them.” A look passed over her face. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was about to cry. Hermione Granger doesn’t cry though. I know that much. She coughed slightly before saying, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”
I paused. Good question really. What would I do? Make my father not crazy anymore? So that he can yell at Mum for embracing the Muggle world? Not likely. Find true love? Sappy, I know, but it’s not something I’m wholly against. World domination? With my luck, Potter would ‘Avada Kedavra’ me before I even had the chance to sit down on my golden throne. Is it me or does he just like to torture me by showing up whenever I don’t want him around? I suppose the better question is which one does Hermione least want to hear? World domination it is!
“To be happy,” I said, barely realizing what I had said before it slipped out. I was supposed to say world domination. What happened?! This is smashing news. The one day my mouth had to stop listening to my head. “The one place in the world you’d go to,” I quickly continued before Hermione had a chance to send me a pitiful look, which she did anyways.
“France,” she said quickly.
“That’s two questions. I get to go before I answer that one. You’re not happy?”
No, I’m not. “Cheater. I’m happy enough,” I said, with a shrug. “I’ve got all my limbs, which is more than I can say for some people.”
She waited for elaboration, but when I said no more, she seemed to understand. “I want to go to France because it’s...it’s a romantic place, you know? I even learned a little bit of French. Just the basics. Bonjour. Salut. Ça va? It’s beautiful there, and I always wanted to go with Ron, but he’s not...not very romantic. He didn’t quite see the point.” She shrugged, but a flash of hurt took over her face. She covered quickly with a slight laugh.
“He’s an idiot then.”
“No, no. Ronald isn’t. He’s just not very good at being romantic.”
“I’m guessing he doesn’t like rainbows either, does he?”
She laughed. I continued, rubbing my hands together in mock threat, “The asshole. Rainbows are forever.”
She thinks I’m joking. But really. Rainbows are forever. Much like squawking like a banshee. Much like long winded conversations that last the whole night with the used-to-be-but-isn’t-really-anymore nemesis. Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I like her any more than that silly little feeling that’s been hanging around like the flu bug. But I believe we’re beginning to tolerate each other rather well, don’t you?
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by Elle Winters