Chapter 3 : It could have been worse!
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Unfortunately as the plates filled with delicious food Hermione couldn’t help the flood of memories from the night of the battle into her mind. Those she loved lay dead on the floor of the very hall in which they were expected to eat. She struggled against the flashbacks until Ginny nudged Hermione with her elbow, having had wandering thoughts herself. The girls gave each other a shaky smiled before helping themselves to food.
“So your hair?” Ginny asked quietly “not to mention your eyes and your teeth…”
“What about my teeth?” Hermione asked, startled, she picked up a spoon and began to look at her reflection. Unfortunately it was true, her canine’s where now a fraction longer and sharper than they had been. “Damn” she muttered putting the spoon back down.
“So, what’s going on?” Ginny asked around a drumstick. “I’ll assume since you didn’t know it’s not glamour charms?”
“No, it’s the Feri” Hermione admitted sullenly, taking out her frustration on the stake she was cutting. She had to admit that the house elves where brilliant cooks for someone under the influence of the Feri curse; the stake was just how she liked it.
“The Feri?” Ginny asked surprised “damn.”
“Yeah im only glad it’s not worse” Hermione admitted sullenly, suddenly looking right at Ginny she said “Hell the whole thing could have been worse couldn’t it? They wanted me to be a killer Ginny… thank gods it’s not worse.”
A voice cut through Ginny as she was about to talk that caused the red head girl to glare daggers at the speaker. “What could have been worse?” Lavender asked suddenly. Hermione looked up, irritated at the question, but realised Ron, Harry and Neville where all giving her funny looks too. She hadn’t realised how loud she was speaking.
“Well Hermione, Lavender asked you a question?” Ron spoke up, the first words he had spoken to her since she came back from Australia.
“I know she did Ron, but its none of her business” Hermione said in a steady voice.
“But I thought you told your friends everything?” Lavender frowned and pouted, trying to look cute, but getting nowhere in Hermione’s opinion. At her words Ginny snorted and Harry and Neville wore similar expressions of surprise.
Hermione raised one eyebrow and gave Lavender her best cold look, a very Malfoy action, and said “Why would you believe that? Second year, Ginny didn’t tell us about Riddles Diary and Harry didn’t tell us about his crush on Ginny, and I know Neville kissed a certain someone but that’s his secret and he hasn’t chosen to tell any of us.” Neville choked on his pumpkin juice and gave Hermione a look “anyway, I only trust Ginny with this at the moment.” Beside her Ginny swelled with pride and lover for her friend.
The rest of the feast was spent in an uncomfortable silence at their section of the Gryffindor table.
Across the room Draco had watched the Gryffindor Princess acting very... well… like him, towards Weasley’s flavour of the month after she interrupted what seemed like a very important discussion with the Weaselette.
“Gods did you see that!” Blaise spoke up from beside him “Granger just did a Malfoy on Lavender!”
“Really?” Pansy didn’t sound too interested as she looked at Blaise from where she sat with her back to the Gryffindor’s.
“Yeah” Blaise sounded thoroughly impressed “I never thought Granger would act like that, she always seemed so nice.”
“Since when have you ever spoken with her Blaise?” Draco asked, also intrigued by Grangers actions since he had to admit that Blaise was right, one conversation and she seemed too nice to act any other way but hadn’t he seen her threaten that Hufflepuff today? And for him no less.
“Over the summer when she hung out with us in Australia” Blaise shrugged, answering Draco’s question and Draco dropped his fork in shock. “She’s pretty nice ones you get to know her, and she isn’t timid on the beach is she Pans?”
“Oh yes, I do believe Mr Zabini over here nearly lost his eyeballs when he saw her on the beach!” Pansy grinned.
“I know, I was just shocked that she’s actually smokin’ hot under those robes!” Blaise laughed, reaching for Pansy’s hand over the table “still it was nice she trusted us not to drown her – her words not mine.” He kissed the palm of Pansy’s hand affectionately before adding “I still want to know what her secret it. One moment she looked like Hermione, the next day her eyes had changed colour, the day after that her hair!”
“I was wondering that actually” Draco admitted. Granger didn’t seem like the kind of girl to change her appearance for no good reason.
Up and down the table food and plates began to disappear, signalling the end of the feast just as pansy waved her fork in the boy’s faces and said fiercely “You will leave Hermione’s secret alone, it has nothing to do with you unless she tells you.”
Draco was going to speak, say some comment about how girls where so protective of each other, but McGonagall began to talk instead. The forest is forbidden, the twins joke products where banned yada, yada, yada “And congratulations to our new Head girl Hermione Granger” there was a roar of applause for Hermione who blushed a little but kept her head up. “And our new Head boy Draco Malfoy.”
There was a tense silence that fell over the hall as heads turned to look in the direction of the Slytherin, who besides Pansy and Blaise was sat completely alone, the other Slytherin’s avoiding him. The murmurs seemed to start all at once as students put their heads together and began to talk while throwing glances at Malfoy. Draco put his head down to hide his expression.
McGonagall cut through the whispers immediately, seeing Malfoy uncharacteristically hide his head. “Prefect would you please show the first years to your houses, would the head boy and girl please come with me.”
Everyone began to move, Hermione and Draco bid their friends farewell and reached McGonagall at almost the same time. “Yes professor?” Draco asked before Hermione could open her mouth.
“Come, I’ll show you to the heads dormitory. You did know you’d be living together, yes?” McGonagall asked, leading them through a side door and through the trophy room. Both students nodded and followed the head mistress in silence. They went up two more flights of stairs before she finally stopped outside of a portrait of what appeared to be a dark forest on a full moon, with two sets of eyes looking out of the shadows. One set silver, the other a pale brown. “The painting changes depending on the two head students, so don’t ask me what it is of” McGonagall said, spying Hermione’s curious look and her open mouth.
“Miss Granger, would I be able to speak with you alone for a moment?” The head mistress asked before telling them both that the password was ‘Hippogriff’. Draco stepped inside the heads room, the portrait door swinging shut behind him; he couldn’t help but wonder what the professor wished to speak to Hermione about. His curiosity didn’t stay long as he began to look around what appeared to be their shared common room.
Outside McGonagall said to Hermione “Miss Granger, please don’t be too quick to judge Mr Malfoy based on past actions he-“
“I know professor.” Hermione cut across the heads speech that she had obviously prepared. “He went through more than we can imagine, and he has paid dearly for past actions. He’s changed and I know that.”
McGonagall was stunned for a few moments before she said “Well, yes, right then… if you don’t have any questions I’ll be on my way.”
“Wait Professor” Hermione called, a sudden idea coming to her head. She was obviously under a transfiguration curse, so who better for her to seek help from other than her transfiguration teacher? “Would I be able to come speak with you sometime about a… a transfiguration problem I’ve been having?”
“Of course, after lessons tomorrow in my office” and with that McGonagall strode away, and Hermione smiled and did a little jump, excited that McGonagall may actually be able to help her. With that she gave the password and went into their dorm.
She gasped at the sight.
The common room was neutrally decorated in warm browns, the floor a soft beige carpet and the walls being a caramel latte colour. Around a roaring fire sat three brown couches and a small brown coffee table. On the walls above the fire where two tapestry’s, one of the Slytherin snake emblem on a Gryffindor red background, and another of the Gryffindor lion emblem on a Slytherin green background.
Behind the couches was a small kitchenette where Draco was standing, curiously listening to a small house elf who was standing on the table and was wearing a little blue dress. Hermione recognised her immediately. “Winky!” she cried.
Winky turned around to look at Hermione “Missy Granger” she said in her squeaky voice “Winky knews it was you who is being head girl.”
“It’s nice to see you sober Winky.” Hermione smiled at the elf kindly. After the war, in which Winky too had participated with the other kitchen elves, Winky had given up butterbeer and told Hermione off for trying to make her get paid work. They settled for giving Winky the weekends off instead.
“Hang on Granger; I thought you were against working House elves?” Draco asked suddenly remembering spew.
“Winky and I came to an agreement. She gets weekends off.” Hermione said, not sounding too happy about the arrangement, but she wasn’t going to argue with Winky. The house elf had only just stopped yelling about Mr Crouch still being her master.
“Winky has to go to the kitchens now and help” Winky said, bowing, and apparated to the kitchens.
“This place is pretty nice isn’t it?” Draco said suddenly, looking up at the tapestry. He hated to admit but the Slytherin emblem looked good mixed with Gryffindor.
“Yeah it is” Hermione agreed standing beside her. Then she noticed a set of stairs. “Oh, I wonder what our rooms look like!” she said heading for the stairs. There were three doors.
She opened the one with her name on and peered inside. Her room was decorated in warm red colours. On the far wall was a plain dark wood wardrobe, beside it a small desk. The bed was queen sized with dark maroon sheets and on the white floor was a fluffy red rug. She smiled when she saw her kitten, Crookshanks son whom she had named Apollo, rubbing himself around her ankles.
“I thought you had that big hairy ginger beast?” Draco asked from behind her and when she looked he was looking down at the little hair grey kitten.
“I did, but he chose to stay with my gran. This is his off-spring, Apollo.” Hermione explained. “Come on; let’s see what your room looks like!”
Draco couldn’t help but smile at Hermione’s enthusiasm and opened the door. His room was decorated much darker than hers, dark greens and black, but his room was laid out similarly. Wardrobe and desk and queen-sized bed, but the rug was green on the black carpet and the bed sheets where black while the walls where dark green. There was also an owl perch beside the desk on which stood a magnificent eagle owl who turned to look at Draco and gave a screech. Draco held out his arm to the owl and said “Artemis” but the owl just gave him a look, ruffled its feathers and looked away.
Hermione grinned as Draco tried again “Artemis, come here”
This time the owl turned on its perch so it was not even looking at Draco, and Hermione gave a full laugh. Gently Hermione put her hand on Draco’s still outstretched arm. He looked down at her, her eyes alight with humour, caused an unfamiliar feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Let me try” she told him gently.
Nodding he stepped back as she held her arm out like he had to the owl. “Artemis, would you please come here sweet”
The owl didn’t pause, it turned, considered her with one yellow eye, before stretching out his wings and flying over to land heavily on her arm, and she nearly dropped him from his weight. Instead she lifted her other arm to stroke the owls soft feathers “See Draco, he just wants you to ask nicely.” She said as the owl began to affectionately nip her ear.
Draco, unbelievably, found himself jealous of the owl as she cooed over it. “Bloody birds snottier than I was” he grumbled as he watched the owl still nibble her ear as she laughed.
“Oh he’s noting but a great big sweetheart” she informed him, turning to look at him and moving her arm until Artemis had flown back over to his perch with a smug look on his face.
“That’s your opinion Granger” Draco shrugged, moving to wear his trunk was and beginning to pull out some cloths. Hermione figured she had just been dismissed and walked back to her own room to change into her nightclothes, realising that the only night clothing she had was a small silk nightie. She was going to have to go shopping next weekend, eight-years where allowed into Hogsmead every weekend.
Hermione made sure her bedroom door, and the door she assumed lead to the bathroom, where locked before she stripped and pulled on the nightie that had been a gift from her mother on her seventeenth birthday. The nightie came down to mid-thigh, and was in a pleasant shade of green with gold trimmings. Hermione had never told anyone before, but green happened to be her favourite colour – Slytherin colour or not.
She then took her little red toothbrush into the bathroom, and nearly dropped it. the bath was not so much a bath as it was a small swimming pool, and just as deep too. On the wall where two towel racks with two towels, on one rack where green towels and on the other where red, and in the corner of the room was a large shower. Beside her door was a sink and mirror where she set her toothbrush down, since there was a similar sink and mirror on the other side of the bathroom beside a door that she assumed led to Draco’s bedroom.
Her suspicions where confirmed when he opened the door and peered in curiously while she was brushing her teeth.
Draco had not expected to walk in on Hermione in the bathroom wearing what he could only assume was her version of a nightie. He felt his eyes widen and his breath catch as she leaned forward a bit to look in the mirror and the edge of the nightie lifted up her thighs a little. He decided to say something so she would know he was there. “Looks like we’re going to have to share the shower” he said suddenly, and Hermione spun round to face him with surprise on her face. “Obviously not together” he grinned as he added “Unless you want to Granger”
Hermione nearly fell over when she heard Draco speak from behind her, and her jaw pretty much hit the floor when she realised he was still flirting with her. “Im sorry Malfoy” she gave him a grin “I don’t shower with guys I hardly know” she then turned and walked out of the third door in the bathroom that lead to the stairs, leaving Draco in the bathroom.
What the hell is wrong with me? Draco kept wondering as he looked at himself in the mirror. This time last year he wouldn’t have even glanced at Granger, so why was he doing it now? Sure he no longer thought of her has a Mudblood, and hadn’t for quite a while. Ever since that night in the manor Draco’s whole perception of Granger had changed, because while he was forced to watch her being tortured on his family sitting room rug he was forced to remember that just a few days previously that had been him, being tortured with the crucio curse until his throat tore and bled by the dark lord himself. Was there any reason he was flirting with Granger? Why he felt comfortable in her presence? Maybe it was because she was the only one so far who hadn’t judged him straight off… it didn’t help that her nightie was incredibly sexy.
Hermione went back to her room with a bowl of milk which she set on the floor for Apollo, who eagerly lapped it up as she cast a ward on her room that would alert her if someone entered without her knowing. This was just one of the cautions she took to ensure no one would yet find out about her being a Feri.
This was what she wanted to talk to McGonagall about. She didn’t know why it didn’t hit her in the first place. She was obviously under a transfiguration curse, and McGonagall was a transfiguration professor as well as a member of the Order of the Phoenix. She could be trusted, and might even be able to help. She fell asleep when Apollo came up onto the bed and settled beside her.
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