Hermione had been receiving strange looks from people all day, but it was especially picking up in Potions. People stared and talked in hushed voices to their neighbors while she looked on, presenting the most dignified look she could. She was straining her ears to hear what the Slytherin’s were saying and wasn’t listening to Slughorn because of it. While the people across the room stared, her housemates were obviously avoiding her gaze. She nudged Harry and Ron in turn to see if they new anything about what was happening, they just shrugged and shook their heads. Finally, the period ended.
“Hermione,” Draco came up to her. “Do you have a sec?”
She sighed. “No actually, not now. Can I talk to you after Transfiguration?” She got a full look at his face before he schooled his features into perfect stoniness. Before he changed his expression she definitely saw curiousness in his eyes, and a little pity. Whatever had happened to make her such a hot topic today, Draco seemed to be in on it. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he smiled to drive his point home. “Just some Head stuff. It can wait.” She dearly hoped—for his sake—that he wasn’t lying.
And so she left to McGonagall’s class with worry lining her face and sat there for an hour while the instructor spoke about something Hermione could have sworn they had already studied.
“Hermione?” McGonagall questioned after class. “Can I talk to you?”
She turned to look out the door, knowing that if she stayed she’d be late for her next class. “My—” She started.
“I’ll get a message to Professor Flitwick, assuming you have Charms next?” She looked inquiringly at Hermione who nodded in return. “Okay, sit down.”
By this time Hermione’s blood pressure had risen and her heart was pounding so loudly that she was shocked it wasn’t rocking the entire school. She took the seat in the desk directly facing McGonagall’s. Suddenly, the thought of her last bombed Transfiguration test popped in her mind; the one shoved into the bottom of her book bag with every other unworthy quiz she had ever taken.
“Are you aware of the rumors being spread around school about you?” The older woman asked. Hermione shook her head, feeling her head cool already as the situation swerved from her current grades. “Do you have any idea what these rumors could be?” Again, Hermione shook her head. “Do you have anything to tell me?” Hermione knew the tremors in her hands were from the earlier relief and the increasing distress of this line of questioning.
“What happened?” She squeaked, pressure building as she stared at her teacher.
“There are rumors, obviously—”
“Yes,” McGonagall acknowledged. “There are issues I would like to discuss with you about these; just to clear any misconceptions that may have been formed.”
“’Kay.” Agitation was sending strange feelings to Hermione’s wrists and ankles.
“Are you doing drugs?”
“No,” Hermione said honestly, still feeling shaky.
“Have you ever been or are currently sexually active?"
She puffed out all the breath she had been storing. That was so far from the truth there was hardly any way to comprehend it. “No.” She said laughingly. “If that’s it, I’ll go now.”
McGonagall nodded and watched her leave.
“Draco!” Hermione called to his back, catching up to him. “Hey, do you still need to talk to me?”
“Yeah,” he looked awkwardly at the ground. “About that, has anyone said anything weird to you today?”
Aside from that insanely strange conversation with McGonagall? “No, why?”
“Meet me after school in our dorms, it’s kind of a long story."
She wanted to question him about it more now, but he was already starting to walk away. “Um…sure.” Hermione wasn’t sure whom she was speaking to; there was no possible way he could have heard her with the way he was booking it in the other direction.
“You knew! You knew all this time and didn’t tell me!” Hermione sat seething on the couch in the Head common room. “How could anyone believe that?” She asked. It was maddening to her. The entire impeccable reputation she had built for herself was gone, replaced by this sick, twisted fantasy. “Who told you?” Hermione asked suddenly.
“Pansy.” He said evenly, staring at her from the wall opposite the couch.
“Do you know who told her?” She inquired, this becoming some giant mystery in dire need of investigation.
“The new boy, Nathan. You know, the American.”
“Yeah, I know. How many new kids do we get?” Hermione said sarcastically and put her head in her hands. “Do you know who told him?” She asked again.
This time, Draco had the audacity to laugh. “Here’s the real kicker, Hermione. Are you ready?” He barely let her respond before speaking again. “Pansy told him. He told Pansy. Now, let’s put our heads together and think about who might’ve started this.” His own sarcasm leaked off him in waves.
“How could either of them think of this?” Hermione pondered aloud. Not only did they start spreading rumors about her doing weed, Pansy and Nathan convinced almost the entire school that she was sleeping with Quidditch players from every house. Also, to back their ridiculous rumors up, they decided to use Hermione’s dropping marks as proof.
“Well, ah…” Draco scratched behind his neck and squirmed under her gaze. “I kind of told Pansy about your marks.”
“You ‘kind of’ told Pansy.” Hermione spat at him. “How did you even know about that?”
“Hermione,” he exclaimed, exasperation written on his tone. “It wasn’t that hard to figure out, what with your bad test scores and everything. I’m surprised nobody noticed earlier.”
“So you told Pansy?” Hermione sounded hysterical and by this point all she wanted to do was cry.
Draco nodded slightly and she started to feel worst about yelling at him. “I can’t believe you would do that.” She stated in a quiet voice. “Even though…through everything…. I thought we were close enough for you to keep that to yourself.” Already she could feel tears streaking down her face when she sat on the couch again.
“Don’t cry, Hermione.” She could hear him say softly. Hermione felt the cushion move under her when he sat beside her. “I didn’t know she would…do what she did. And I wouldn’t have told her normally. Except, she was obsessed with you. She was always asking me about you. She wanted me to do things with you, just to see how you’d react; she had all these crazy notions about you.” Draco sighed and leaned back on the couch.
“When would you two talk about me? Like, in the hallways; in class?” She felt violated about him and Pansy talking about her behind her back, even more so than him telling Pansy about her behind her back.
“Mostly in bed.” He said.
“You talked about me in bed?” Hermione asked, stricken.
“Whoa,” Draco seemed to be reconsidering his comment. “That came out wrong.” Another reconsideration. “Actually, yeah, we did.”
“Oh my God.” Hermione said softly, putting her head in her hands. “No wonder everyone thinks I’m such a whore; it’s because I associate with you.”
He sighed quietly. “Listen, Hermione. This didn’t turn out the way you planned, or…I don’t know. Nobody planned this. What I mean to say…”
“Draco, spit it out, I want to go to bed.” Hermione sat up and wiped at her cheeks.
“They like the scandal because you’re so fucking perfect.” He said harshly. “When they see that even the most straight-laced person in the world isn’t actually the goody two shoes everyone accuses you of being, it makes them feel better about themselves. When you’re being laughed at it’ll be like…like the most horrible thing you’ll ever go through. But in the end, nobody really believes it. You’ll notice nobody even really cares either; they’re just laughing and dragging your torture on because every one else is doing it. They’ll let it go; I’m sure. I just don’t know when it’ll be. This could go on for the next couple of days or the next couple of months. All I know is that you have to never let them see it’s getting to you, and I’m sure it will. Eventually.”
Hermione’s sadness turned to sudden anger, welling up in her body from the pit of her stomach. “Why would you tell me that?” She shrieked. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” The more her mood flipped the more exhausted she was becoming, Hermione didn’t know how much longer she could switch from feeling sympathetic to sad to angry in this conversation.
Draco shrugged annoyingly. “I guess not. I’m just saying: this isn’t a small thing. This won’t be gone in the morning and you can go back to living your happy life with your happy friends. This will follow you around until it consumes you. I’m sorry; it’s the truth and there’s nothing I can do.”
“You can go tell your freaking girlfriend that—”
“Pansy dumped me.”
“I don’t care.” Hermione spat viciously. “It’s because of her that this is happening to me. It’s because—”
“It’s because of me.” Draco replied softly, yet again cutting her off. “I told her those things about you and then I upset her and she dumped me.”
“You didn’t make her say those things.”
“No, but I upset her enough to make her want to say those things.” He sat on the couch and leaned against the back, slouching in a way that made him look surprisingly young. “I know you’re angry, but I want to talk to you. I feel as if I haven’t had a conversation all week that hasn’t resulted in someone yelling.”
The exhaustion in his voice startled her and she compliantly sat beside him on the other side of the couch. The two of them didn’t talk much, and when they did they didn’t talk about anything important. Finally, Hermione fell asleep.
Hermione woke next morning with a crick in her neck and tired eyelids. She was still on the couch but was pleasantly surprised when she saw that someone had pulled a woven blanket around her. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes again, hoping sleep will come again less painfully. Thudding footsteps interrupted her quiet reverence and Draco popped into the room.
And he was very shirtless.
He either didn’t notice or pretended not to notice her staring. “Oh, good. You’re up.”
Trying to get herself under control and not feel disappointed that he had actually brought something to cover the top half of his body, she nodded. “Unfortunately.”
“Hermione,” he laughed a bit. “You slept all day. It’s four o’clock."
“It’s not.” Hermione said abruptly. “I couldn’t have possibly slept all day.”
“Not so.” He answered and showed her the face of the bulky, expensive-looking, leather watch he wore. Yup, definitely after school. “Don’t worry though, I got all your homework.”
“How could I?” Hermione asked herself, completely dumbfounded.
“You were really tired I guess. Sorry, I guess that’s kind of my fault.” Draco sat on the couch opposite her. “Speaking of that, do you remember what we talked about last night?”
Hermione nodded. “Just some school stuff, you talked a lot about the girls in Slytherin.”
“So you don’t actually remember what we talked about last night. That, or you fell asleep.”
Draco held a hand up to stop her. “That’s good, Hermione. But, if you do remember something, or think you remember something, please don’t tell anyone.”
“Yeah, okay.” She agreed.
Draco stared off for a moment before addressing her again. “I said a lot of things I’m not particularly proud of. Honest things, yes. But nothing I want to come back and stab me in the ass.”
“‘Stab me in the back.’” Hermione corrected. “It’s a very common figure of speech.”
“Yes,” Draco rolled his eyes. “I know what it is; I just didn’t want to sound repetitive.”
“You scare me sometimes.” Hermione laughed a little to make sure he knew she was joking.
“Yes, my little Gryffindor, I scare me sometimes too.” A vacant stare crossed his face, one Hermione believed she was getting far to use to. “I normally wouldn’t have said anything, I apologize if I bored you to death. I have a lot of pent up feelings and Pansy…I wasn’t expecting that to happen between us. She’s been my go to for years now. It’s weird to think I can’t just go to bed and she’ll be there.”
“Why don’t you talk to her and try to fix it?” Hermione asked in spite of her not approving of his girlfriend sleeping with him.
“I don’t know. I feel like I’ve fixed it every other time. If she wants us to be together, I think she should tell me, instead of the other way around. Which I’ve already done on numerous occasions.”
“Hasn’t she told you how she feels?” Hermione felt like the worst therapist in the entire world.
“Well, yeah. But,” Draco scratched his cheek thinking. “It’s always been Oh I love you, Draco, or You have to show me what you feel. And it’s grating, it’s like it’s just for appearances.”
Hermione spoke before thinking. “Knowing Pansy, it probably is.”
Harsh steel grey eyes turned to her. “Yeah? Seeing as you know Pansy so well?"
“I don’t know Pansy at all,” Hermione agreed. “Except that she’s petty and easily threatened. But all Purebloods like you and the Parkinson’s never seem to do anything except ‘for appearances.’”
He cooled, slightly. “I can see where you’re coming from with that.”
They sat there for a few awkward moments. “So what happens if she doesn’t come back?” Hermione asked quietly. She didn’t think Draco heard her and was about to repeat the question before he spoke in an awful tone she’s never heard him use before.
“Then I guess her parents won’t get the Malfoy-Parkinson wedding they always hoped for.”
Hermione made sure to get up extra early the next morning as to not be late for any classes. Guilt still ate at her from the day before as she rushed down the halls and into the main foyer. Going over quickly what she had eaten the day before, she decided that, yes, she could have a breakfast with her friends in the Great Hall. A small one at least.
Taking two spoonfuls of eggs and two pieces of bacon and two sausages and two half pieces of toast, she arranged the fattier, greasier meat and eggs on one side and the too crunchy for her taste, butter soaked toast on the other. She tucked in with Harry and Ron. “Where’s Ginny?” she asked after swallowing, what she hoped was, a small bite.
“With Dean.” Ron said through a mouth stuffed with sausage. Harry punctuated his friend’s point by motioning down the Gryffindor table where Ginny and Dean were sitting directly across from each other chatting.
She turned back to her food and had a mental toss up of whether or not to finish it. She would eat the sausage and the rest of the eggs, then throw the half piece of toast out as well as the rest of the bacon. She was only kind-of impressed with her ability to resist temptation.
Getting up, she bid farewell to the boys and left to her first class, taking her traditional secret-passageway-infused route to Slughorn’s. She felt her way along the cold brick wall, only to come across sudden fabric and hot skin. She screamed.
“Lumos.” A male voice spoke. As she got use to the sudden flash of light Hermione saw that it was Nathan. And Pansy. And they were up against a wall.
“What?” Hermione barely managed to whisper before Pansy struck out and punched her square in the face.
Hermione glared at her reflection illuminating the glass of one of the Quidditch displays. Pansy hadn’t been strong enough to break Hermione’s nose, but she could definitely feel the bruise welling. Feelings rushed past her and she didn’t know what to make of it. She listed off things she could do to make herself feel better in her head.
Punch Draco for dating such a sadistic bitch.
Yell at Draco for dating such a sadistic bitch.
She desperately wanted to cry. Then she wanted to go tell Draco that his sadistic ex was snogging the most horrible American in the entire world. But she just stared at her nose, not moving except to find the most comfortable way to stand and not upset her raging hungry stomach. Then a brilliant idea hit her.
“I need to eat.” She spoke to the reflection of her. “I’m going to the kitchen to get something to eat.” She turned on her heel and marched away.
It started with a sandwich. Bread, ham, cheese. A little mayo. Then some chocolate chips.
Truffles. Oh, yes. Left over chocolate Halloween truffles. One or two fresh truffles.
Then the cookies on the plate. There was only a dozen, she reminded herself. One, two, three, four, five, six, all the way to twelve. Yummy.
Thickly cut pieces of white bread, her favorite Greek potatoes with the lemon juice. More chocolate. It was delicious.
She was delirious with the excitement of it all. Gummy candies, happiness surrounding every bite.
This is what she was thinking as she kneeled over the lavatory toilet. She stared into the water, wondering if she had it in her. In the years before Hogwarts her parents always warned her against doing something so reckless and harmful to her body. They would tell her stories about girls’ they went to school with who thought this was normal. They described the girls as being ‘gross’ and ‘petty’. None of those words fit what she was doing here now. It felt like the time she was putting her feet in the salty water of the detox machine her mother had purchased once. She could hardly remember how that stupid machine worked, she just wanted to stain the toilet water the same liquid black that had supposedly come out of her feet.
She put her fingers into her mouth, the pointer and the middle, and reached as far back as she possibly could. She gagged but nothing happened. She stuck one finger in her mouth and tried again. All she was doing was suffocating herself, and tears welled in her eyes from lack of air. It was a nasty, sick feeling.
She wiped her eyes and left the stall still bloated. Anger at Pansy and her poor, bruised nose welled in her again. As well as a sudden surge of sadness for Draco. She dropped to her knees and wept, knowing that it was not a good time for Moaning Myrtle to suddenly make an appearance.
So, there you have it people. A lot more drama and a little more starving artist. My next chappy will be focusing on this new development and such. Hopefully it’ll balance awful people with horrible disease.