Chapter 8 : 8- The Conference
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"Thank you," she said upon receiving the container with the ingredients. The brunette didn't look up to her friend. Instead, she delicately poured two scoops of the fluxweed on her potion.
Meanwhile, Ginny took down the notes they needed for said potion. Every few moments, the redheaded girl would look up from her parchment and cast a worried glance over her fellow Gryffindor. Consequently, she would sigh, louder than the preceding ones. It didn't deter her friend's concentration however, and that left her frustrated.
Finally, Hermione sat down on her chair; a sigh of relief escaped her lips with a hint of a smile tugging from it. She waved her wand leisurely over their cauldron and she only needed to wait for fifteen minutes and they were done.
The Gryffindor glanced across the room, her eyes meeting the distinguishable blond hair concentrated over the pewter cauldron in front of him. She sighed, in time with Ginny's. For the first time in the past hour, Hermione took notice of the redhead's sigh and looked at her friend.
"Why, Ginny? Anything wrong with Harry or James?" She asked, confused. She distinctly heard not a sigh of relief, but of anxiety. Why for? She couldn't remember seeing Harry or James in danger or something.
"Nothing Hermione. Not about me," the younger witch replied, glancing up from her work and dismissed the brunette.
"If it’s not about you or them, then who?" Hermione didn't pay any mind to the dismissal and pushed through. She didn't like the sound of that sigh. It distinctly sounded like hers.
"It’s you." Ginny said placing her quill across her parchment. She was done writing and could now fully concentrate on her friend.
"Me? Why me?" The answer didn't do anything good for the student's curious mind. In fact, it added more to the confusion.
"I'm worried about you. You're not talking to Malfoy," Ginny started and quickly cut off Hermione when she opened her mouth to speak. "No, no. Don't deny. I noticed. Cassie's not doing great too. I've been watching you three from afar and I'm worried. Since that birthday party, you and Malfoy still hadn't talked to each other. It’s just that, its pretty weird for someone so worried about her grades." The younger witch finished, but bit the corner of her lower lip; she gave away the fact that she wanted to say more.
Hermione, however, didn't notice Ginny's anxiety. She only focused on her words. She couldn't deny it. She and Malfoy hadn't been on talking terms since she raised her voice to her daughter, even if she already said sorry to the girl. She knew the connection that the father and daughter had, and she could understand why he'd been mad at her. However, Hermione's pride prevented her to apologize for something she didn't do, especially to him.
"I'm sorry, Ginny. I didn't mean to worry you though," Hermione whispered, her eyes focused on the blond guy across their table. His head was now buried over the parchment that should contain their observations, while the Italian Slytherin beside him took his turn in stirring their potion. "You're right. We're not on talking terms. And it’s affecting our grades." She said quietly, and flinched a bit.
Ginny saw it, and followed her gaze. The redhead, though she couldn't quite understand the worry she'd been feeling, knew how important it was to Hermione to maintain her grades and to have a good relationship with her daughter. The brunette had a big heart and quite family oriented. It hurt to see her friend hurting over some transgression in the past.
"Why don't you just talk to him? Surely he would understand. Or just show him that you won't do it again. You love Cassie, show him that," Ginny suggested as she turned her gaze away from the man and back to her friend. Hermione glanced at her with sad eyes and shook her head.
"I don't know where to start. He'd been so over protective of her ever since." The older witch replied. She sighed but stood up from her seat as Professor Slughorn walked to their table and inspected their work.
"Wonderful Miss Granger, Miss Weasley. Great job as always," the bubbly professor complimented. Both girls blushed but Ginny quickly shook her head with sad eyes upon looking at her friend. She had to do something. And she just had the perfect plan.
"Yo're still not talking to Granger," Blaise stated as he scribbled on his parchment, copying the Transfiguration notes on the board. McGonagall still chose to handle the OWLs and NEWTs takers while giving the lower years to the new apprentice, Professor White. He glanced at his seatmate once he was sure the Headmistress' attention wasn't on them.
Draco Malfoy sat on his seat with an aura akin to total serenity. Years of practice of hiding emotions could fool an outsider, not Blaise. He had known the blond since they were in nappies. He knew how to read his friend's emotions through subtle observations and his environment. Leaving with him in the same dormitory for seven years helped too. So Blaise wasn't fooled by the calm demeanor Draco was showing everyone.
"I thought you wanted to change," he prompted, not looking to his companion. He felt Draco's eyes on him but he knew better than to look. Draco was intimidating, and nobody could escape that unless you won't look in his eyes. Blaise continued to write, and occasionally listen to McGonagall as she explained how important changing an animate object to another animate object for it would appear on their NEWTs.
"And I want to," Draco drawled, folding his arms on his chest as he leaned back on his chair, turning his attention back to their professor. Blaise sighed and shook his head. He glanced at Draco and raised an eyebrow on him. He tutted but turned back to his parchment. "You certainly aren’t showing any signs of change."
"What do you mean?" Draco asked, a small tug of his lip downward was the only sign of his emotion.
"If you really wanted to change, you would have talked to Granger, instead of ignoring her. She's still your partner," Blaise drawled slowly as if Draco was a five year old.
"Be thankful I'm not insulting her at every chance I get, that's a change," the blond replied, his eyes glancing on the brunette in question.
"Yes, yes, we all know that. But you've passed that stage already. And you're fight is a petty thing, if you ask me." Blaise leaned on his seat, his quill beside his parchment, and his ink well capped tightly. His eyes were on McGonagall, pretending to listen as she droned on her subject, oblivious to the boys' topic.
"How come it’s trivial? She almost hit Cassie over some destroyed cake. Her reason is petty, but not her actions. Hitting a child isn't a good parenting," Draco said firmly, looking at Blaise as if he sprouted another head.
"That she did, but she also did apologize to Cassie after, you said that yourself," Blaise pointed out, ignoring Draco's looks.
"But she isn't proving that she is sorry. How would I trust her not to hit Cassie?"
"Did you give her the chance to prove herself?" Blaise asked pointedly, finally returning Draco's gaze. He dared the blond to answer, but he knew he was right, and Draco was wrong. He wasn't giving Granger any chance to prove herself as Draco was always with their daughter. He wouldn't hear of any explanation that the Gryffindor had and he avoided her like a plague. Draco was oblivious how his ignorance was affecting him, Granger, Cassie and their project. But Blaise wasn't. And he was determined to help his friend. If not for him then for the blonde baby girl who charmed her way through everybody's heart. When Draco finally lowered his eyes then turned his attention back to McGonagall, a smirk made its way to Blaise's face and as he turned his gaze to the other direction, his eyes met a certain redhead's bright blue orbs. And suddenly the two of them had a plan.
The night came and the library found an odd group staying in its confines, talking in hushed whispers as the strict librarian subtly shoot them a glance quite often. They occupied a small table of four around the corner near the shelves and beside the window. The candles gave an eerie glow on the group yet no one except the librarian watched them carefully under keen eyes. The whole Hogwarts had been used to seeing them togeth for a week or so, and more used to seeing them with another pair for almost three months now. There was nothing new about it.
As much as the overall assumptions of the student body about nothing new with the group of four students being around each other was right, Madam Pince's assumption wasn't entirely wrong too. For there was something new between the students. Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, Blaise Zabini and Ginny Weasley huddled together in a small table in hushed tones meant something, the old librarian just couldn't point it out.
"We need to push them together." Ginny said, earning a nod from her lover. Harry knew better than to disagree with his girlfriend.
"No, we don't need to meddle on their things." Blaise argued. Frustrated as he might be with Draco's behavior lately, he wasn't entirely favor into nudging the Granger-Malfoy pair to connect their gap. It was their life after all.
"But Hermione's miserable. She didn't mean it." The redhead frowned and bit her lip, worrying after her best friend. As much as she wanted Hermione to be her sister, she was beginning to doubt her brother's intention and if he'll be able to grow up ever. She just wanted the older witch to be happy.
"And Draco's going back to being a loner, and grumpy. He talks only to you. I bet the Wrackspurts made him do it. He had so many of them buzzing over him during Cass' birthday." Luna offered, her voice dreamy as usual, but it held the truth. Maybe not the Wrackspurt thing in her speech- everyone had learned to look beyond it- but she had told the truth about Malfoy. He avoided everyone's presence except for Blaise. Before, he would talk civilly to them for the sake of Hermione and their budding friendship. However, after the blonde girl's ruined birthday bash, it was like they took one step forward, and two steps back.
Hermione got the brunt of his self-imposed silence. He wouldn't talk to her even around Cassiopeia. Draco would merely give her a nod or a shake of his head, but never maintain eye contact with her. It was obvious to their flatmates, the other three pairs usually found themselves talking about it among themselves. With the exception of Ronald Weasley. He refused to talk anything about Malfoy. He could tolerate Cassie, loved Hermione, but loath Malfoy. And this thing between the pair only gave him another reason to loat the blond.
"Exactly!" Ginny exclaimed. "They're both miserable, and I can't see any of them making a move. If we let this continue, I'm sure somewhere along the road, they'll explode on each other. It'll affect all of us, even the professors' efforts to instill Interhouse Unity in all of us. Hermione and Malfoy are the perfect example of this nonsense if we succeed." She stated smugly, leaning back to her chair, arms crossed on her chest.
"Let's say hypothetically I agree to this plan, how do you suggest we do it on action?" Blaise asked, mimicking the redhead's action with a impassive look on his face. Harry, meanwhile, watched the two talk with each other. He had to be honest to himself that he was on Blaise's side. He knew Hermione. She wouldn't like it one bit if she learned what they were plotting behind her back. The brunette was the type of woman who was very independent of her own life. He just knew better than to announce his thoughts loudly on Ginny's presence. Unless of course his girlfriend went overboard.
"We set them up on a date." Ginny replied nonchalantly, lifting up her hands to inspect her manicured nails. The table earned looks from the dwindling number of students in the library with what happened next. Harry pushed his chack out of the table, shaking his head to Ginny, a look of slight horror in his face. The Slytherin on the other hand stood from his chair quickly, horrified and frustrated.
"The two needed a push to friendship not romance, Weasley! Are you out of your mind?"
"I'm on his side, Gin. That's going overboard, really. Hermione won't like it one bit." Harry chimed in.
"Of course not. I just know better. It wasn't like its a romantic date. It's a friendly date. Don't get your knickers in a wad, Zabini. Sit down." The woman hissed, shooting a glance on her boyfriend who was still looking at her disappointed.
"Oh Harry, I promise its just a simple date, friendly date, just to force them to talk really." She added. Harry sighed. He really didn't know if that's a good idea.
"Whatever you want, Weasley. I'm out of it." Blaise said finally, raising his hands in defeat and left the table. Ginny merely rolled her eyes.
"What do you think Luna?" The Gryffindor asked the Ravenclaw who maintained her silence throughout the debacle except for that one moment. "I think its romantic, Gin as much as you deny it to be." She answered bluntly and followed her partner with a skip on her every step. Maybe it was simply romantic. Who knows?
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