"Hermione!! You okay?" Ginny shrilled as she sprinted to my bed, her lace cardigan fluttering. Yep, princess. Just dandy.
"Oh, my god, that lump on you head looks huge. This is crazy. I can't believe you fell! Does it hurt?"
"No, Gin, I'm fine," I groaned. Come to think of it, though, my head did feel kind of weird. Ginny maternally began stroking my hair, murmuring comforting things. Look, Gin, I'm not four.
She was clearly more terrified about my injury than I was. The head-stroking suddenly stopped and I watched Ginny pull a spider out of my hair. Oops. Should have guessed she would find something nasty in there.
"Hermione! THIS IS DIGUSTING!" she shrieked, throwing it across the room. "Ew ew ew!!!" She began wiping her hand off frantically on the bed spread. Thanks for preserving my personal hygiene.
"I'm getting a brush, your hair is sickening." Ginny sprinted out of the infirmary, her leather boots clicking softly on the tile. I watched her run, sheer dress ruffling behind her, looking so young and carefree.
Screw you, goddamn flower child.
But I do mean what I said earlier. I will not allow Ginny to be hurt by love. There will be dire consequences if Harry breaks up with her.
Anyway, if I land in Azkaban, I think the dementors and I would become friends in no time. Happy memories with Ron? Take 'em, take 'em all.
I sat back and continued what I had been doing all morning: musing over Malfoy's visit yesterday. I couldn't really decide how I felt about it. He came, he went.
But why in the world did he tell me about Pansy? And to get over Ron? And that my shirt looked good? He probably thought I would feel invaded if he checked me out in the most blatant fashion possible.
Well, he was right. I felt violated.
Taking a deep breath, I allowed myself to ponder a big, big speculation.
Did Draco Malfoy think I was attractive?
Could I even allow myself to think something like that? I'll admit something-- on my very first day when I boarded on the Hogwarts Express, I tried to befriend Malfoy. I thought following him all around telling him facts I'd read would bond us. I thought he was cool.
But then he asked who my parents were and thinks went downhill from there. He's given me so much grief about being a mudblood-- less though, after I punched him in the face. Ah, that was the best moment of my third year.
Magic is overrated, really. Sometimes I just want to chuck the wand and just slug them in the face. Much better than fooling with some hocus-pocus gibberish.
Hey Ron, you thought I'd be your goddamn wife? I would love to serve you a big, hearty knuckle sandwich.
NO THINKING ABOUT BEATING UP RON! I reminded myself. I have to set mental parameters, or the violence could get out of control.
I can think about beating up Malfoy, through. I would have to do it at a public place. Maybe I should be really suave and just wordlessly walk up and punch him then walk away.
Take that, homeboy.
NO GANGSTER SLANG!!!
But it would be a shame to mess up that nose, it's quite a nice one as far as noses go. Wait, no, it deserves a little tweaking.
But it really is a nice nose.
Okay, okay. I allowed myself one, tiny confession: he is very nice-looking. But all nice-thing-association goes away there. He is so attractive though.
Tall and pale as parchment, but in a good way, like he would glow softly in the twilight. Strong, too, he's a chaser on the Sylitherin team. Plus the way his hair is kind of wavy and poofy in the morning when we have charms, and sometimes a rough whisper of a beard sparkles in the light. And although he's a Death Eater, was it his choice? I bet his parents made him, he's been mean but not that mean.
AGH!! Listen to yourself!!! THIS IS DRACO MALFOY, not some puppy saving model! You hate him!
Thankfully, Ginny's slender frame returned, holding an assortment of goods in her arms. Oh shit, that is definitely more than a brush. Malfoy could use a brush sometimes.
You hate him, I reminded myself pettily.
Malfoy's as good as Ron. They're both assholes, they would enjoy each other's company and become lesbian lovers.
And I would not go to the wedding. Ha.
"Hermione?" Ginny asked worriedly.
"Yeah, I'm fine," I answered quickly, sensing her concern and satisfied with my metal revenge.
"Tonight's the Welcome Back dance, remember? And guess what?! I got Madam Pomfrey to release you! C' mon, let me do your make up."
Whoa, there. Too much info to process all at once. "The whaty what?"
Ginny sighed dramatically. "The dance. You're going."
Ohhh. That's why she looks so cute tonight. "No thanks, Ginny. Plus, I'm sure Ron would be there and then I would break down again," I quickly added. It's actually kind of depressing how accurate that ended up being, but at the time it was a total lie.
Ginny glared at me. I bit my lip. Believe me, please. You would have a week ago.
"Ron, Hermione? Surely you can do better. I caught you burning all my family photos yesterday, muttering his name. You forgot already?!"
"You said you wouldn't mention it again!" I squeaked. Not one of my proudest moments, but I couldn't stand Ron's face smiling at me across the room. Damn wizarding photographs, it's creepy enough if they're still. But when he keeps laughing and smiling RIGHT AT YOU?
Ron, meet flame. Flame, eat Ron.
"Not to anyone else! Hermione, you keep telling me all about your so-called 'comeback.' Now it's time to show the school."
Damn Ginny. She knows how to get her way, the stubborn bitch. Gotta love her though, especially when she has her "that's it" face: chin out, eyebrows down, lips pouted.
There is no victory.
"I'll go," I began cautiously. "If you lay off the makeup. A lot."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Come on Minny. It will be fun."
Wait, she did not agree to my terms! I do not want to look like a clown! I prefer natural and classic beauty.
A long pause. I see now. This battle is pointless.
"Whatever. But don't call me Minny." I hate that name.
Ginny laughed. Good to know she really cares about how I feel. I only let her and a couple others get away with it, the nickname doesn't even sound like my name.
"Close your eyes," she instructed as she pulled a twisted metal device out of her bag. Wait, what--
"OH GOOD MERLIN WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!" I bellowed as I lunged for my wand, ready for self-defence. E tu, Ginny? YOU WANT TO KILL ME?
"Calm down! It's an eyelash curler!"
"PUT THE KILL STICK DOWN!" I AM TOO YOUNG TO DIE BY WAYS OF THAT THING.
"Kill stick?! Hermione, relax, it just shapes your eyelashes."
Shape my arse. No way is that thing harmless.
I did not retreat my ready-to-hex-stance until Ginny, clearly annoyed, returned the torment-device. "Fine, whatever," she grumbled. Phew.
Trying to return my breathing to a normal level, I sunk back into the bed.
"Now I will let you put ugly pastes and odd lotions on my face. But I will not let you put anything that looks like it was made to choke a mouse near my skin. Understand? These are my conditions. You simply must accept it."
"You are terrible." God she will not agree to anything except herself. Ginny pulled out a vial of foundation and waved it in my face. "Here? Is this okay with you? May I proceed, your royal majesty?"
"Yes." The brat is used to getting her way. Hermione Granger can easily put an end to this habit. Consider a favour, Ginny. I'm helping you become a better person. You should pay me for my therapy work.
Ginny paused to glower at me then began my makeup. Oh well. Looks like I will work for free today.
Makeup is not a process I enjoy. I mean, sometimes, I'll look in the mirror and be like 'hmm, this could be better.' Actually, it's more like 'ew, what happened to my face?' But I do not have a high tolerance for activities as trivial as makeup and hair-doing. It's so boring, and stupid, just lathering on a bunch of products designed to make you look better.
Problem is if all the other girls wear the stuff, I stand out. I stand by the ugly duckling theory. So screw you, miss oh-so-pretty.
I'M A SWAN, BITCHES.
Ginny of course stands out in her own supermodel way. Glancing in the window, I analyzed my reflected. Can't blame Ron, I guess. I looked like a goblin most of the time he dated me. Ginny once told me way back when that the 'un-touched' look was very attractive but I took it one step too far.
"See, Hermione, you look so pretty if you put an ounce of effort into your appearance." Ginny brushed my eyelid with a powder of some sort. Hmm, Ginny, I detect that as a veiled insult. "I'm jealous, you have such nice bone structure."
Ha ha Ginny. Being jealous of my looks. Good one. Really funny, making fun of my appearance. Good thing I'm so headstrong or that would hurt my feelings.
Maybe I should cry to make her feel bad.
After finishing my makeup, Ginny began the epic battle with my hair. Good luck, young warrior. Many heroes throughout the years have attempted to tame the monster. Many have suffered.
I tried my best to avoid whimpering as she fought through tangles. Our heroine persists! Will she prevail? Defeat the dragon, stab it through the eyes!
Finally she gave up and dumped an entire bottle of potion in my hair. That works, too.
I couldn't see the results, but it ended the war because soon she was brushing through it and humming happily. I hate it when people hum, I decided as she whistled some bubble gum pop.
"Oh, Hermione, look! You look so pretty," Ginny said at last, thrusting a mirror into my face. I impatiently threw it aside and climbed out of bed. Rather just assume I look fantastic than be disappointed.
"WOW! I look incredible, like a model," I lied enthusiastically. Ginny clapped her hands together excitedly. She's a sharp one until we get to the girly stuff. Then she's as gullible as Big-Rack.
"Wait till you see your dress! Fleur gave it to me last year!!" Ginny reached behind the bed and suddenly produced a cocktail dress that was (admittedly) quite darling.
"I like it." There was no denying the shocked tone in my voice.
"Whaddya think I was going to get you? A trash bag? Oh well, I knew you would like it! Come on, we're already late to the dance, so pull it on!!"
"If you had let me happily nap then you would have been there with time to spare," I muttered. "Come to think of it, there's quite a pounding in my head. Oh man, and a lot of pain. Ow, it hurts like a woodpecker is drilling into my flesh. I can't do this."
Ignoring my comments, Ginny helped me drape the blue silk around my frame then zipped it up. "I knew it would fit! You can have it."
Really?! Hey, this isn't half bad. But I thought I did a halfway convincing job. I mean, that part about the woodpecker was pretty poetic.
"Why are you letting me keep it?" I asked, admiring the fabric. With a trim of glass stones around the top I looked very chic. That's a first. Oh, I know why she wanted me to have it: Ginny's bust was too big.
I burst out into rude laughter. "Can you imagine Lavender in this dress?" There would be a new waterfall at Hogwarts! Only this one didn't feed into the lake. I guffawed loudly, amused by my shameless mockery.
Ginny sighed, the glare returning. "Minny, you are hopelessly immature. Ron does still cares about you, you know. He was worried you wouldn't have anyone to dance with."
Great, had to bring up Ron. I give her terrible marks for her attempt to paint him in a positive light.
"How gentlemanly of him."
"Hermione, he really does worry."
"I'll find someone to dance with."
And that was when genius struck. "Gin, who would you say Ron hates most?" Because if I danced with them and a tiny bit of Ron still cared about me... why, that would be lovely. He would be all torn up and try to counsel me. And then we'd be alone.
Now where could I find a body bag?
"That's hard to say. He's a bit temperamental, but I would say that above them all he probably hates Malfoy the most."
"Malfoy? You sure?" Eww. I did not want to dance with him. Or did I? NO, I DO NOT! I assured myself.
"Fairly," Ginny said, gathering up her stuff, oblivious to my scheming. "Let's go, we're missing the dance."
"Malfoy?!" I mutter to myself as I chase after her. "Of course it's Malfoy. Bloody hell. Screw life. Screw Malfoy. Screw Ron. Screw Hogwar-"
The dance was disgusting. I watched lovers prance around then snog. How could I ignore the stupidity of love beforehand? These people, so caught up in their relationship, fail to self-reflect. Instead, they proceed to make fools out of themselves.
Dance on, ladies. He's going to ditch you for a prettier girl. Just wait.
EW EW EW GIT ALERT.
Ron twirled a giggling Lavender about ten feet away from me. "You look beautiful," he shouted to her over the music.
Oh no you didn't.
"I'm going to puke," I told Ginny as I ran out of the room. You look beautiful?! How many times had he told me that-- no, you're over him-- but now he thinks she's beautiful! Ron only likes her for her chest? Right?
He couldn't actually like her for something else.
Please, no. His love is shallow. He only likes her for her looks.
I desperately needed a quick breather to avoid hyperventilation, I ran my hands through my hair anxiously. You're strong. You've recovered. He's an asshole. Go hex him.
But I couldn't go back in there and face him.
Just seeming him made my heart sting. Looks like the cuts are still raw. But I was going to succeed, I was going to ruin his life. All you need is to take a little break.
One task at a time. Job for tonight: act like he doesn't matter to me.
This should be easy because he doesn't.
Swallowing nervously, I returned to the hall. "You okay?" Ginny asked. Sometimes I don't know how I would live without her. She's a pain in the arse, but also an angel. Like an animagus. Ginny the Animagus. I like the sound of that. Good one, Hermione!
See, don't you wonder why Harry is worried about me? I obviously have a booming fan club.
"Go dance with Harry," I ordered, embarrassed to burden Ginny. She blushed as she glanced at Harry, smiling at her. "GO!" I repeated. She scrambled up.
See what a goddamn saint I am? I take care of my friends.
"Come get me if you need anything," she giggled as she skipped off to Harry. I slouched in my chair and chewed nosily on some pistachios, spitting the shells onto the dance floor. The hall was a spinning kaleidoscope of silk and chiffon, smelling of cologne and hairspray.
It was the smell of teen love. It was a bitter, bitter smell that belonged with nappies in a crowded day-care.
I wrinkled my nose as a couple passed by. It was Neville and Luna-- two of my favourite people on earth. Luna shot me a loving, dreamy smile which I returned.
I need to spend more time with them, I decided. They're both infinitely wise in their own quirky ways.
But I was instantly distracted when I spotted the opportunity. Ron and Lavender were sitting and (surprise!) snogging while Malfoy talked with Zabini a little ways away.
It was my chance.
I confidently walked (erm, more like stumbled nervously) across the floor, ignoring Ginny's hiss over Harry's shoulder "HERMIONE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" and positioned myself right behind Malfoy.
"Ahem?" I coughed rather rudely.
Malfoy turned around and his eyes widened in horror as he fumbled for his wand. "Don't try anything, Granger," he said once he had his wand pointed at me.
"As if you would be able to stop me," I scoffed. Seriously, Malfoy? Don't you remember how well I did in Defence Against the Dark Arts? Glancing quickly to the right, I was pleased to notice Ron's horrified expression. Plan running on schedule.
"Fancy a dance, Malfoy?" I said, moving in closer.
He took a ragged breath. "I don't dance with mudbloods."
Smiling, I silently cast a muffalato charm then whispered, "you bloody well will dance with me or I will come after you like a hippogriff to fresh meat."
Despite being one of my lamer threats, Malfoy must have been intimidated because he sighed and placed his arm around me, sending shivers up my spine.
SENDING SHIVERS UP MY SPINE?!?! WHAT THE HELL?! ITS MALFOY!
"Why the sudden invitation, Hermione?" he asked smugly as we glided onto the dance floor.
"You don't call me Hermione," I snapped. "I don't ever want to be on a first name basis with someone as conceited and filthy as yourself."
That's the girl I knew! Get 'em!
"I'll call you whatever I damn well want," Draco responded.
Stubborn son of a bitch.
Sneaking another glance, I realized Ron had drool hanging off his face while Ginny and Harry were mouthing something to me.
I turned to look back at Draco. Damn it, this would be so much more empowering if I was taller than him. This was terrible. I practically had to crane my neck to see his eyes, but that was because we were standing so close together.
WAIT, WHY ARE WE STANDING SO CLOSE TOGETHER?!?
Grimacing, I lengthened the distance. Malfoy noticed. "What, Granger? Scared?"
"Scared? Of what? Your stink?"
"Of love," Malfoy sneered.
"LOVE?" I gasped. "You think I like you? Draco Malfoy, you are the most repugnant, idiotic, ugliest boy I know, I hate you more than you can imagine and you dare accuse me of being remotely ATTRACTED to you?"
"No, you git," Malfoy snapped. "Of Weasley, he's staring right at you."
I craned my neck to look until Malfoy chuckled. "Knew it."
I scowled at Malfoy (how did I think I could put myself through this?) and then noticed Harry and Ginny were twirling right behind Draco's shoulder.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Ginny mouthed as they danced by. Harry spun her around and they danced back. I decided to return to my old classification as both of my best friends being a pain in the arse.
"Nothing!" I lipped. "Go away!"
Rolling her eyes, Ginny and Harry retreated. "Whatever," I caught her saying.
"Yes, what are you doing?" Malfoy asked. Oh, that's great, the bugger saw the conversation.
"Eavesdropping is terribly rude," I retorted.
"I don't think it's eavesdropping if you see a conversation. The word implies auditory, don't you think?" Oh, so clever.
Go to hell Malfoy. I hate smart alecs. (You know what?! Don't dare call me a hypocrite, being a smart alec is perfectly separate from being a logical and dedicated student.)
"As I told Ginny, nothing."
"Then why are you dancing with me? You've made it very clear you're not attracted to me, which I find hard to believe." Darn it he didn't buy my lie. Doesn't he know attractive boys can be repulsive personality wise? "Is this your form of revenge? Humiliating me in front of my friends by them catching me dancing with an ugly mudblood?"
"Oh, I'm sorry." I sharply pulled back. "Humiliating, is this? My bad. Being seen with a mudblood such as myself is quite ample vengeance, isn't it."
Draco glared at me, but there was another emotion in his eyes as well. "Go away, Granger." He paused, then under his breath, almost painfully, "whore."
I thought by now I was immune to pain but that word stabbed a new wound. The cheerful music seemed to fade out, replaced by a throbbing tenderness.
I yanked my wand out of my dress, stepped forward and harshly jabbed it in his chin, secretly willing the tears to go away. "Never. Call. Me. That. Again," I spat in his face.
Staring into his eyes, my hands shaking, I fought to stay on the right edge of casting a curse I would regret. Malfoy backed away.
"Hermione Granger!" a shrill voice cried in alarm. McGonagall instantly appeared at my side. Good timing, professor. You missed his insult but prevented a fatality.
Except the fatality of my new found sanity.
"Miss Granger, school dances are never the time for duelling or threats."
Glaring at Malfoy, I slowly backed away, maintaining a fiery eye contact with him until Ginny grabbed me.
"MINNY!!!!" she whisper-yelled, dragging me out of the hall. This is when I broke down, and the tears began streaking down my face along with the eyeliner and mascara.
I was mad. I was emotional. What was it with Malfoy? How did he know my weak spots so easily? The chinks in my armour?
And why didn't I blow his brains out? Two times I'd missed my chance! Two out of three!
Harry and Ginny closed down on me, barraging my ears with questions. "Go away," I moaned after telling them the truth: I had danced with Malfoy to annoy Ron. I feverishly wiped my eyes. Why did I feel like I was lying to my best friends?
"I look like a shitty racoon," I moaned. Suddenly loud footsteps echoed around the bend.
"Hermione!" a familiar voice thundered.
Ron came around the corner. Great. Just who I wanted to see.
Just kidding. I'd rather take Bellatrix on PMS.
This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for. Ron Weasley was calling my name.
Shakily, I pulled out my wand and faced him. Avada kedavera!
Haha, did I get you? I didn't actually think that... I would never...
"Hermione, what the hell were you thinking in there!" Ron shouted. His face was a livid purple, his lips swollen and blotchy from his... activities. At that moment, I blankly wondered how I ever found him attractive.
"Go away, Ron," I said wearily. I was not feeling my normal fiery rage. I did not want any more shouting or pain.
"Hermione, what were you doing with that git!" Ron shouts, waving his fist. Intimidating, Ron. I'm so scared.
"Nothing, Ron. Just go away," I said, getting a bit of déjà vu. I knew I've had this conversation with others.
Why couldn't I just be normal again?
"I never want to see you with him again, understand?"
"Ron," I said, finally gaining some strength. "Go away."
"Ronnie?!" Lavender's call echoed down the hall. Ron turned and glanced back toward her then faced me again.
"Do you understand?" he bellowed.
"Back off, mate," Harry yelled, stepping in between us. I am in love with Harry in a complete non-romantic and non-sexual way. Yes, teenage boys, that does exist.
Ron, still shaking like a decapitated lobster, looked angrily at Harry.
"What?!" he said, completely bewildered.
He's standing up for me, Ron. That's what's going down.
"I said, BACK OFF," Harry yelled again.
Being impatient, however, Ginny was through with the non-violent heroics.
"Screw you, Ron," she sighed, stepping past Harry, wand raised. That's when I suddenly remembered, wait a sec! They're siblings!
There was a deafening boom.
That will be a fun letter home to Molly.
You know, sometimes, two friends can be all you have left.
But honestly, two friends can be all you need.
Hello again! Well, a lot happened in this chapter... let me know what you think! Drop a review! (Please?!) :D
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