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Chapter 9 : Nose to the Grindstone
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I gathered my fresh school uniform from my trunk and went to shower. After about 25 minutes I was finally ready to see my peers and grabbed my bag to head to the Great Hall. I had a full day of Charms, Transfiguration, Alchemy, and Arithmancy. Thankfully I didn’t have anything with either Carrow so I wouldn’t have to worry about how strong this charm actually was. The only daunting task lying ahead was avoiding the Malfoy heir for as long as humanly possible.
As I arrived at the Great Hall, Theodore Nott rushed towards me with what appeared to be a new prefects duty schedule. “Morning Isabella, the schedule has been changed, you’ll be patrolling with Blaise from now on. And you have duties tonight.” He gave me an apologetic smile and continued on past me handing me the schedule as he left the Great Hall.
I was a little shocked to say the least. Draco must’ve been pretty pissed to put himself with some Hufflepuff girl and put Blaise on patrol duty with me. Well at least that was one less instance where I’d have to avoid him. As I looked up from the paper to the Slytherin table I could see the only available seat was between Blaise and Pansy and in front of Draco who was currently attempting not to notice me. Resigned I went over to the table and sat down. Both Blaise and Pansy gave me a smile and started happily chatting away about who knows what. Draco meanwhile was glaring daggers at me. I still couldn’t figure out why he was so upset…I’m the one that’s getting used by him…I’m not the one doing the using.
“Are you going to be a prat for this entire breakfast Malfoy?” I say buttering my toast and arching an eyebrow up looking at him.
“You asked to change prefect duty shifts Carrow. Now I’m stuck with some Hufflepuff girl who has been giving me lovey eyes ever since I got down here.” He says to me through gritted teeth nervously staring down the Hufflepuff girl.
“I didn’t ask to change my duty shifts….I thought you did?!” I ask confusedly. “I was sleeping, when would I have had the time to change the duty schedule?! You’re the one who got up early, not me.”
Suddenly, Blaise and Pansy both start coughing and excusing themselves, raising my suspicions as they both leave the Great Hall. As I look down the table I realize everyone has left the two of us alone, as if we’d said some secret word that told everyone we wanted to be alone or something.
“Why did everyone just leave?” I ask looking back at the bottle blonde before me. “Why did you get up early this morning and not wake me?”
“I had to do something, but it wasn’t changing the prefect duty schedules. I don’t know why you would feel inclined to do so as I wasn’t even going to them to give you whatever space it was you needed.” He says looking straight at me, seeming to try to read my mind.
“If you use Legilimens on me, I swear I’ll hex your hair purple. I’m not lying to you I didn’t change the schedule the only one other than myself with that power is Nott or any of the profess-“ I stop the realization suddenly sinking in. “I don’t think this charm you put on this is working…” I say holding up the ring in his face as I see him pale.
“They must’ve read my mind somehow, they know that we’re involved together, this isn’t good Izzy.” He says grabbing his things and standing up waiting for me to apparently grab my things and come with him.
“Ya know if you want me to go with you somewhere you should probably just ask instead of assuming I’m going to know what it is you want to do now.” I say grumbling, grabbing a piece of toast and gathering up my bag.
We leave the Great Hall and I follow behind him as he leads us down into the dungeons, no doubt we were going to see Snape, whatever the relationship was between Draco and Snape I didn’t fully understand. Much like other relationships with Draco Malfoy, it appears Malfoy’s can only be in confusing relationships.
I sigh inwardly as I contemplate what this “relationship” was that I had gotten myself into with Draco Malfoy. And am shaken out of my thoughts by Draco grabbing my hand and pulling me into Snape’s office to which I glare at him. He was always pulling me one way or another and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to anymore.
“Mister Malfoy, Ms. Carrow, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Snape says not bothering to look up from the papers on his desk and motioning towards the two empty chairs in front of his desk.
I let go of Draco’s hand and sit on the left side so I can avoid this conversation and look at all the strange concoctions contained on the shelves nearest me. I hear Draco sigh beside me and can picture him running his hands through his hair as he always does when he’s worried about something or stressed out about something. In a sick way it felt good to know I had him worrying, proved he didn’t have as stone cold a heart as he liked to think.
“Professor, I charmed a ring to protect Carrow here so that her mother can’t touch her and can’t get to her but somehow the charm doesn’t appear to be working as we think they’ve changed the prefect duty schedule.” He rambles on into one runon sentence, whilst I continue to look over all the weird things contained in the bottles.
“I changed the schedule Mister Malfoy. You weren’t focusing on what you’re supposed to be focusing on. It was me that has changed the schedule, Ms. Carrow here will be fine with Mister Zabini and I’m sure Ms. Abbott can handle prefect duties with you Mister Malfoy.” Snape says nonchalantly and at this my eyes snap to his face. He had changed the schedule!?
“With all due respect sir, I demand you change it back, Zabini couldn’t watch his own head, Izzy can’t be on prefect duties with him.” Draco says to Snape not even bothering to consult me.
“I’ll have you know Malfoy I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I’m not some china doll that will break at anyone’s touch. I’m a very talented young witch and I’d hex you right now for the macho bullshit that you keep spouting but I don’t want a detention. And stop calling her my mother, she’s not my mother and she never will be.” I say getting up, grabbing my bag and then turning to Snape, “Thank you Professor, I’ll leave you to your grading. I have better things to do today, like attend my classes.” I leave completely sick of hearing how much protection I need, I’m nothing special, I will not determine the outcome of this bloody war, last I checked I wasn’t Harry sodding Potter. I was in a foul mood as I arrived finally at my first class of the day Charms with Flitwick.
I arrive late and sit in the back in the only empty seat, thankfully Flitwick doesn’t notice as he has his back to the class as he struggles to pull some giant book off the shelf behind him. I get my things out and make to pretend like I’d been there the entire time and begin my typical doodling that my Charms “notes” have become. I was good at Charms and thus didn’t apply myself in class much and I didn’t pay attention much either preferring to draw pictures of all the different ways I could hurt Draco Malfoy at least…today those were my doodles. I wasn’t mad at him really, it was nice that he cared and all but…I was sick of being treated like a child. I had been lost in my own world and before I knew it Charms was over and it was time for Transfiguration with McGonagall.
When I arrive at Transfiguration I take a seat in the middle beside Milicent Bulstrode as I knew Draco had Transfiguration at the same time and I didn’t want to sit with him. You’d think I had three heads as Bulstrode’s eyes about fell out of her head when I sat down and got my things out. She even made to move. “I don’t bite Milicent.” I say to her softly as I get my things out.
“I—I just assumed you would be sitting with Malfoy, that’s all Carrow.” She says looking down at her shoes and playing with her quill nervously.
“You assumed wrong, now could you be a dear and let me borrow some of your ink I ran out in Charms, I was taking much too diligent notes it seems for the ink supply I brought.” I say giving the strange girl a friendly smile. She nods and looks happy that someone’s taken the time to talk to her even if it is the one girl in the whole school everyone’s afraid of.
I whisper a quiet thank you as McGonagall enters the room promptly followed by Draco who won’t even look at me and takes a seat beside Blaise. As McGonagall drones on for what seems an eternity I can feel Draco staring holes into the back of my head and can also feel something hitting me on the shoulder every once in awhile. Finally after about 15 minutes of this something jabbing my shoulder I turn around and get hit in the face with a note as I was about to scold Draco for being obnoxious. I swallow my pride as a couple Gryffindors snicker, and I glare at them to which they pale. Sometimes it was good for everyone to be terrified of you.
I unfold the note and see a familiar script:
I’m sorry you felt like I was treating you improperly. I don’t exactly know how to do this you know, I’ve never felt the need to protect anyone but myself. Can we please talk after this? I know you have a break now until your last two classes for the day so don’t try and avoid me saying you have class. Just pass the note back with your reply.
I probably shouldn’t feel as awful as I do feel. I know he was just trying to have some semblance of a normal relationship with me by protecting me. And I know I was acting like a spoiled child throwing temper tantrums over it. I just don’t like relying on anyone but myself, I’d become so self reliant after not having friends all these years here that I couldn’t properly deal with having people on my side. Maybe I needed to just give in a little bit, perhaps there was room to compromise.
I quickly scrawl back a yes and throw the paper on the floor kicking it to his desk behind me. And I spent the rest of the class thinking how selfish I was behaving and how for once Draco Malfoy wasn’t being selfish, putting me before himself, which apparently Snape had even noticed and had tried to put some kind of stop to it. As McGonagall dismisses us I gather my things and wait for Draco outside the classroom. Thankful for the coolness the stone walls were providing to me as the thought of this confrontation was making me very warm and nervous. Most girls would be begging for a guy to be so protective and here I was shoving it in his face at every turn and not even appreciating the sentiment. I close my eyes as I wait “patiently” for him to leave the classroom and nervously tap the wall behind me with the heel of my shoe. I jump as I feel him touch my hand and my eyes spring open.
“I’m not going to torture you or anything Carrow you can stop looking like I’m taking you to your death or something.” He says noticing how pale I had become.
“Let’s go to my room and talk I have a break from now until Alchemy.” I say pushing myself from the wall and letting go of his hand as I lead the way to the Head’s dormitory. My stomach was turning and twisting into knots. Suddenly I remembered what Simone had written me in her letter, he was a better man than most gave him credit for and here I’d been treating him like dirt for trying to protect me.
I say the password and enter the common area to thankfully find Nott nowhere to be found, no doubt he’d have some comments to make about me entering with Draco Malfoy following me around. I let out a small sigh as I push open my door and toss my bag onto the floor and sit down in one of my comfortable armchairs.
“I’m sorry I’ve been treating you like crap Draco.” I say as he sits down across from me with an unreadable expression on his face, “You see I’m not used to relying on anyone else, I’ve been on my own here for so long that I don’t know how to deal with not being alone. Also I can’t tell if people are really my friends or if they’re only talking to me and sitting with me because you told them to.” I look at my shoes and fiddle with the hem of my skirt not daring to look in his eyes.
“I’m sorry for treating you like a child Iz.” He says and I can feel him looking at me, “Nott and Zabini have both continued to sit with you even though I’ve told them they can go back to pretending you’re invisible so I think they’re actually your friends…well as much as Slytherins are friends with anyone. And I’m not used to actually caring about anyone but myself, this is still new to me, so I’m sorry if I smother you I don’t know what the right thing to do in this situation is. And everytime I think I’m doing the right thing you get angry with me.”
I can hear the confusion and sadness in his voice and I look up into his stormy grey blue eyes. “Then, I guess the only thing we can do is figure out this whole thing together. I’ll stop being so hard on you, if you stop being so hard to read all the time, and maybe just maybe tell me what this is that we’re in.” I say getting up from my seat and going to stand in front of him as he looks up at me and takes my hand gently.
“Well, Isabella Carrow, I don’t have any interest in any other girls, and part of the reason I asked Nott and Zabini to hang around you is to keep prying hands off of you. Once this whole thing blows over we can really figure this out, until then I’ve got to distance myself from you so as not to get myself killed or something.” He says gently running his thumb over the back of my hand and looking me deep in my eyes, “I wanted you to have friends for when I had to go back to what I’m here to do. I didn’t want you to be alone anymore. I’ll come and be with you as often as I can, there’s nothing that could keep me from seeing you forever. I just need to take care of some things and put some things in motion.”
He kisses me gently on the lips taking my face in his hands, “I’m sorry Iz.” As he finishes he grabs his bag and leaves my room not looking back as he shuts the door. I knew then I wouldn’t be seeing him for quite some time, and that was why Snape had switched the schedule, Draco Malfoy wouldn’t be at Hogwart’s for awhile and I was torn about how I felt about this situation. Relieved on one hand to have my life go back to normal, and sad because he had become something I could count on whether or not it was counting on him annoying me or counting on him to just be there when I needed him to be. Once again, I was alone only this time I felt more alone than I’d ever felt before. I had no mother and no support. I grumpily grab my bag and head to the Great Hall for lunch where I hope I can find a seat by myself I didn’t much feel like talking to anyone else.
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