Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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The two head students said very little for the minute after Dumbledore left. “Well, that doesn’t sound too difficult. Produce and stage ‘Romeo & Juliet’. Where the hell do we start?” said Hermione.
“How about we sleep on it for tonight? Think about it, get our own ideas and then crunch them tomorrow. We can then go to McGonagall in the morning with hopefully at least one idea.”
“Sounds good to me. You’re supposed to talk to me now, remember?” They both jumped when, with a crack, a house elf appeared.
“Good evening master, mistress. This elf’s name is Gabby. I is looking after you this year. Is there anything you is wanting now?” Hermione was quick to reply.
“Yes. To begin with you are not to call us master and mistress. Mister Draco and Miss Hermione will do. You are forbidden to punish yourself in any way, for any reason. Now I would like a large cup of hot chocolate, please.”
“A cup of coffee for me and a bacon sandwich as well.” Seeing the glare in Hermione’s eyes he quickly added, “Please, Gabby.”
Draco swallowed the last of his sandwich, drank some coffee. He sat quietly, looking thoughtful. “Stop stalling, Draco.” there was just a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“I’m not stalling; I’m just considering where to start.”
“The beginning is usually a good place to start.”
“The beginning. Okay, I was born at a very early age…”
“Draco!” she snapped.
“Sorry, couldn’t resist it. Hermione, all my life I have been taught that I was superior, even among pure bloods. I was superior because I am a Malfoy. Until Hogwarts I had everything I wanted as soon as I wanted it. I never had to make any sort of effort. Obedience to my father was the only task I had to fulfil. Half bloods and mu… muggle born people were not worthy of any consideration. They ranked just above the muggles that my father called vermin.”
“Until I came to Hogwarts I believed everything he had taught me. Believed it without reservation or hesitation. My birthday party guests were always Vince, Greg, Pansy, Millicent and their parents. At my seventh birthday do, my father announced that Pansy and I were engaged. They never considered asking us of course. I think that’s why Pansy spoke to you the way she did. No matter how much I try to convince her that it ain’t gonna happen, she persists in believing it will. Then I came to Hogwarts.” Hermione had been listening intently, beginning to build a mental picture of the person in front of her.
“I don’t have to say anything about the first three years here. You know as much as I do about those years. In the fourth year I had my first real crush on a girl. I thought she had grown into a really attractive girl. Sadly she had two strikes against her. First, she was a Gryffindor, a pure blood Gryffindor, but a Gryffindor nonetheless. I began to wonder what all the fuss was about. When I saw her at weekends, out of school uniform, she was just a girl. You can’t see Gryffindor or pure blood or any of the other things I was supposed to hold against her. I was confused, and I couldn’t see any point in carrying on the way I was, but I also couldn’t see a way of changing while my father was alive.”
“Well, the pure blood bit rules me out, doesn’t it? So who? What was the second strike against her?”
“She has red hair.”
“Red… oh, Merlin. You’re talking about Ginny Weasley aren’t you?”
“Yeah. A blood traitor, just because of her name. You can’t see a name either. Ridiculous. Shocks you doesn’t it?” Hermione couldn’t deny that.
“Not more than a helluva lot! Ginny… I wonder what she’d have done if she had known?”
“She did know.”
“What? She never said anything.”
“She would hardly go blabbing it all over the school, would she? I met her once in a corridor somewhere; there were just the two of us. She was expecting the usual crap but I complimented her on a Quidditch game she had played in. She blushed; you know the way she does. I couldn’t stop myself and I kissed her and was pleasantly surprised when she responded. After two or three more clandestine meetings she lost her nerve and backed away.”
“The little minx! Wait till I see her.”
“No! I mean, please don’t say anything. I promised I’d never tell.”
“In that case, I won’t. Have you still got a crush on her?”
“No. I mean she’s even more attractive now, but no. Crushes aren’t meant to last, are they? You see once I started looking at people without reference to blood status or what house they were in, I found that there were a lot of attractive girls at school. That was the year of the Tri-Wizard tournament and I couldn’t help but admire what Potter did that year. I made the mistake of telling my father of that admiration…”
“Was that when he used..?”
“Yeah, the Cruciatus. To make it worse he was smiling while he did it. I hated that bastard from that day on. I’m afraid I reverted to type after that, even though my heart wasn’t really in it. Then, when you slapped me earlier today, I decided there and then that I’d had enough of pretending, and here we are. My father is dead; I don’t have to be afraid of him anymore. I can finally be myself. I know there’s too much history between us to forgive, but do you think you can draw a line under it all and start again from now?”
“Can I give you my answer in the morning? You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’d like to sleep on it. I think we should go to bed now.” Again the smirk. “Will you stop that!? It’s becoming dead annoying.” She couldn’t keep herself from smiling when she said it.
“Well, stop saying things that can be so easily misconstrued.” He laughed. They were still laughing went they climbed the small stairway to their rooms.
It took Hermione a while to get comfortable in her new bed. Over her years at Hogwarts, her mattress had developed a depression where her body had fitted perfectly. She would have to speak to Gabby about bringing that one here. She would normally lie on her back and drift into sleep, but tonight her mind was buzzing.
What to do about Draco Malfoy? Since she had slapped him, he had been polite, courteous, and even funny. The story he had told her was plausible enough but there was too much history between them for her to accept it without question. I have to give him time, she thought, just to see if he reverted to type, as he had put it. She would do nothing to provoke him. She would wait and not rush to judgement. The line, she decided, was drawn. Now about this play. She would start by reading it again to refresh her memory. Having very little experience of the muggle world, she doubted that Draco knew the work; she would suggest they read it together.
Draco was also reflecting on the day. He had told her the truth; it was the slap that had made all the difference. That and Snape’s attitude towards Hermione, not being the slightest bit interested in his part in the incident. Fairness was not a new concept to him, but his experience of it had always been to his benefit. This was his chance. If he could maintain his new attitude and convince Hermione that the change was real and permanent, then she would be invaluable in convincing others, especially Potter and company. It shouldn’t be difficult, he had found her pleasant to be around, and easy to talk to. Her conversation was way above the level of Crabbe, Goyle and Parkinson. If moving to the apartment meant that he didn’t have to hang with those three, that was just another plus as far as he was concerned.
Now they had to produce a play together. We need a name, he thought, a combination of their names. He could only combine them two ways, ‘Hermaco’ or ‘Dramione’. Either would do, although he felt a slight inclination towards Hermaco. Hermaco Productions Presents. Sounds good to me, he thought as he slipped into sleep.
Hermione awoke to the sound of activity in the bathroom. Checking her clock, she saw that it was a quarter past six. Fifteen minutes before her normal wake up time, that was not going to be a problem for her. Her eyes closed until a soft tapping on her bathroom door opened them again. Draco’s voice sounded softly, “Bathrooms free… honey.” Hermione supressed a giggle, but she would play his silly game.
“Thank you, honey.” She replied.
Twenty-five minutes later Hermione went downstairs to find Draco pouring coffee from a large pot. “That smells good, have you left some for me?”
“Of course, I’ll even pour it for you, how do you take it?”
“Cream, no sugar, thanks. So did you come up with any ideas last night?” he looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “About the play, Draco. Honestly, can’t I say anything around here without you going into hormone overdrive?”
“Nothing in particular as far as ideas go. How about you?”
“I think we should start by reading the play. Do you know it at all?”
“Vaguely, it’s a boy meets girl, forbidden love, tragic outcome, isn’t it?” Hermione was pleasantly surprised. She hadn’t expected him to know even that much.
“More or less. We’ll have to get hold of a copy, I’m not sure if there’ll be one in the library here. I’ll check today, I’ve got a free period before lunch. One more thing, this ‘honey’ business, it stays strictly in this room. We’re going to have enough problems without adding that particular fuel to the fire.”
“That makes sense… honey.” He grinned, “We have to go see McGonagall now, you ready?”
Professor McGonagall welcomed them and they were soon enjoying the standard Hogwarts breakfast of bacon, sausages, eggs, scrambled, fried or poached, and coffee. While they ate they received their first instruction. “While this project is on-going we will have regular meetings here. Every Tuesday morning for breakfast and Thursday evenings after dinner. During this process, and only in this room, you may call me Minerva. Now Draco, tell me how you propose to begin.”
“Yes, Pro… er Minerva. Hermione wants to start by reading and becoming familiar with the play. While we do that we can also think about a timetable. We have a lot to do in planning. We need to think about location, and the technical aspects of something like this. Then publicity, auditions, casting, rehearsals. We have to decide if we are going to direct as well as produce this play. I guess we’re not going to have many free evenings for the next few months. Did I forget anything Hermione?
“No, that’s pretty comprehensive. Just remember not to lie to me again and we’ll do fine.”
“Lie to you? When…”
“When I asked you earlier, you told me you had no specific ideas, and then you rattle off a list like that. You didn’t come up with that in five minutes. We have to be open with each other Draco or this isn’t going to work.” Draco became suddenly aggressive.
“Does being open include telling you every little thought I have? Because believe me, some of them you wouldn’t like.”
“Draco?” Hermione was stung and a little confused.
“Let’s stop this right now.” Said Minerva firmly, “This is something that you two will need to discuss in the privacy of your apartment. Hermione, anything to add?”
“Just one suggestion, Minerva. Do you think we could prevail upon Professor Dumbledore to play Chorus?”
“An excellent suggestion, but no, I don’t think you could prevail upon him.” Minerva smiled, and with a glint in her eye, she added, “But I could. I think I know where to find his inner thespian. Leave it with me. Now off you go, I’ll see you here on Thursday. There are two copies of the play on the table by the door. Pick them up as you leave.” In the corridor Draco turned his back on Hermione,
“See you later.” He snapped as he stalked away. Hermione didn’t know how to feel. It was a strange mixture of anger, puzzlement, slight fear and most surprisingly, disappointment. The rest of her day was a bust. She could not have concentrated long enough to pick seven lottery numbers. She had managed to dash off a quick letter to her Mum and sent the owl on it’s way at lunchtime.
She lingered over dinner, not that she had much of an appetite, reluctant to go back to the apartment. Harry, Ron and Ginny had sat with her, but her conversation was monosyllabic. Eventually Harry asked her what was wrong. Ron asked if it was Malfoy and Ginny pressed her to open up. The rapid fire questions broke her temper. She stood and grabbed her bag from the floor, “I’m not in the mood for answering questions, leave me alone.” she snapped, “I’m leaving.” She walked quickly with her back straight and her head high, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity. Leaving behind three very confused and hurt friends.
Hermione was grateful that Draco was not around when she reached the apartment. Going straight to her room she stripped to just her knickers, threw on her robe, lay on her bed and tried to read the play. She got as far as ‘Two households, both alike in dignity’. She slammed the book down on the bed. What the hell is his problem? She thought, I’m the one he lied to, I should be upset, not him. She knew they would have to talk about it and she wasn’t looking forward to that. Dreading the return of the ‘old’ Draco Malfoy. Picking up the book she tried again.
It wasn’t long before she heard him return. Deciding to wait instead of rushing into a heated confrontation, she suddenly realised she was holding her breath. She exhaled slowly and twitched nervously when he knocked on her door. “Hermione, are you in there?”
“Yes, Draco, I am.” well, she thought, at least they were still on first name terms, for now anyway.
“Come on out please, we have to talk.” His manner was still sharp.
“I’m not dressed, you’ll have to give me a minute.” She considered adding ‘honey’ to the sentence but didn’t. She put on some lounge pants and a T-shirt. Picking up the book, and taking a deep breath she opened the door. Draco was on the sofa, tie loosened and shirt collar open. Hermione sat beside him. “So…” she began.
“What the hell did you think you were doing this morning!? Embarrassing me like that!”
“Yes! Calling me a liar in front of McGonagall like that. I felt like a bloody first year being told off. If you have something like that to say to me, then you say it here, in private. Nowhere else! The reason I didn’t tell you earlier was that I didn’t want to have to explain it twice.”
“Then why didn’t you say that! I would have accepted that and waited. Instead of which you spring it on me. You made me look a fool, and just when I was beginning to believe that you had changed.”
“A fool? Why a… oh wait a minute, you thought I was just trying to look smarter than you. You thought I was just scoring points didn’t you?”
“Well weren’t you? Making it look like you did all the work and I had done nothing. In fact I had thought of some of the points you made but I didn’t feel ready to mention them yet. I had intended to talk to you this evening about them.” He sighed and sat back,
“Look Hermione, we could go back and forth on this and it will only get worse. Let’s stop it now before it gets out of hand. I’m sorry if I caused any offence, it wasn’t intentional. In future I’ll tell you straight away of any ideas I have, okay.”
“Okay. Look, I’m sorry too. I spoke without thinking and I was wrong. So are we friends again?”
“Yes we are. I have changed, Hermione. I’m really trying because I’ve enjoyed the past few days more than my whole time at Hogwarts. I promise, no more secrets… honey.” He was interrupted by Edmund saying,
“Mr Ronald Weasley is requesting admittance. What is your pleasure?” Hermione went towards the door,
“Open up please, Edmund.” The door opened. “Hi Ron, what’s up?” Ron had a weird look on his face, thrusting a letter at her he said,
“This came for you by owl. Er… Sorry if I’m interrupting something.”
“Interrupting…” she realised he was not looking at her face but her chest. She looked down to see her nipples clearly showing through her shirt, not having bothered to replace her bra. “Ron, don’t be…”
“See ya round.” He snapped and stormed off murmuring under his breath.
Hermione returned to the sofa. “Bloody idiot.” She muttered.
“Now what have I done?” asked Draco, politely.
“Not you. Ron.”
“Oh I see. Well, I’ve been telling you that for years.” Slightly smug now. “Is it cold out there?”
“No why…” She realised that he was looking at the same area that Ron had been. “Oh shut it Draco. Try talking to the face, the tits aren’t listening.” Draco laughed loudly.
“Hermione Granger! I can’t believe you said that!” Her face was red with embarrassment.
“Neither can I.” she was almost giggling. The letter was from her Mum. Jean Granger was well used to dealing with owls. Just provide some owl treats and water while any reply was written. Jean drew the line at parchment and quills using normal paper and a ball-point instead.
The Goddess of Good Fortune must be on your side. R & J is showing at the Globe for the next two weeks. As you requested we have booked two prime seats for Friday night. I know you wanted Saturday but that is sold out. If you can’t make it, Dad and I will go. Two tickets, are you bringing Ron? How long will you stay? Those questions can wait till you get here. Let us know when you are sure of your visit. Oh and bring some owl treats we’re getting low. Hope to see you at the weekend.
She folded the letter back into its envelope. I’m not sure I’m ready for this but here I go, in with both feet at the deep end, she thought. “Draco, I’m going to take a huge gamble now. If we can get the okay from McGonagall and Dumbledore, and if you promise to behave, how would you like to come to my parents for the weekend. She has got us some tickets to see Romeo & Juliet at the Globe theatre.”
“At your house? Are you sure? I mean I’d like to see the play but…”
“Oh come on Draco, a weekend in London? Beats the hell out of Hogsmeade, don’t you think?”
“Well, if you’re sure. Okay.”
Dumbledore and McGonagall approved. Harry and Ginny were surprised and perplexed. Ron was furious and spewed some venomous comments at Hermione. Jealousy, especially without reason, is a powerful emotion. Hermione tried to imagine a life with Ron. Is this how it would be? Recriminations and accusations every time she became friends with another male person? She couldn’t live like that. She couldn’t see how any woman could. At midday on Friday Hermione and Draco walked into Hogsmeade and apparated to Hermione’s home.
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