Chapter 2 : Those Slytherin Snakes: Playing Detective, Part One
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Hermione was going to cry. She was going to lose it and start crying. She had already dashed out of the Griffindor common room, not knowing whether she would make it to the library or the bathroom before the tears would start falling down her face.
What is going on around here? What on earth is happening to Hogwarts? Why is it happening to me?
It seemed selfish, but to Hermione it felt like she had been at the center of some novel, the way every happens to a main character in a book. All year long unusual things had happened to her, as opposed to being the consequence of someone else’s troubles like she normally was. Yes, strange things had happened this year and as the year progressed it became more and more bizarre. Now it felt like life itself was unraveling.
The tears were gathering in her eyes, blurring her vision as she made her way to the library. This was downright mortifying. Hermione couldn’t breathe. The man she - dare she say - loved was going to marry someone else.
And fate had to torment her still.
Of course. Because I haven’t gone through enough being Harry’s friend all these years. Because I have brains and not a speck of beauty. Because I almost had the only material thing I’ve ever wanted. So, of course, Draco Malfoy doesn’t want to marry just anyone. Draco wants to be wedded to Ginny Weasley. Of all my friends, of all the pretty girls in England, he wants Ginny.
Grand. This was just grand. Life was trickling along just wonderfully.
Hermione entered the deserted library and sat in a hidden alcove adjacent to the rows of shelves so that no one could see her if by some wild chance someone else came to the library. She took a deep breath, let out an audible sigh and shook her head. She was whining and ranting in her head like a child. Not that she didn’t deserve to, but it wasn’t productive to wallow around in her problems.
The tears no longer threatened to break and fall down Hermione’s cheek. She stilled wanted to cry, but she could push that feeling down for the time being. Now, she needed to think. Hermione couldn’t quite piece it together yet. She had a hunch that the odd events of this strange year were somehow related to each other. They had to be. But how? How had it started? Ha! Hermione laughed to herself. Draco Malfoy; it started with him. It had been an unexpected meeting with a snake.
Six Months Ago
Hermione remained standing next to the assembly table shuffling papers. She didn’t look up to where he was standing by the assembly room entrance. Why should she? Now that the prefects meeting was over, she had an important Advanced Charms essay to finish. So what if the essay was due in three days? Better to be done than to be worried about.
And besides, Malfoy was a prat.
To think, that Hermione had decided to be civil to Malfoy. She shouldn’t have. He wasn’t civil. She couldn’t call him mean anymore. He had stopped being that. But he had been cool and distant, at least up until recently. Now, he deserved no attention; especially not after what happened in the assembly room yesterday.
Hermione gritted her teeth. She was definitely going to get back at Malfoy for that. How? How was a part of later detailing. She needed a plan first and it would come in time. But right now, she knew what she needed to: ignore him.
He had no right- no right- to . . . - oh lord, forgive me if I told someone other than Ginny that he . . . kissed me.
She winced. Goodness. This is an utter disaster.
Malfoy had ambled in a deliberate manner as he spoke to her, mentioning how despite his upbringing, Hermione’s blood and muggle birth was of no concern to him.
Yes how gracious of you, Malfoy. Honestly, managing condescension as you declare yourself. Really, only Malfoy could manage something as half-witted as that. Well, Ron could, but he his feelings are for Luna now, not me.
Then the worst had ensued. Hermione went and kissed Malfoy back.
Hermione growled to herself. Now she was determined not to talk about it with him. The only way to not let it slip, and to not have a repeat of the previous day, was to not talk to Malfoy at all. It seemed to have been working well enough so far.
“Granger!” Hermione almost actually looked up.
“Granger, you are being absolutely ridiculous. You know that?” Her head snapped up this time. That had caught her attention.
“Excuse me? Did you just call me ridiculous?” Malfoy walked over, looking straight at her.
“Yes, I did. You haven’t looked at me or talked to me since you scampered out of the assembly room yesterday.” Hermione narrowed her eyes.
“I did not scamper.”
That almost made Malfoy smiled, which caused awkward lip twitching since he would not give a real smile if he could help it. Instead his face settled into a gentle smirk, “Oh, but you did. Very enticing by the way Granger.”
Hermione wasn’t sure where this was going, but to hell with about not talking about yesterday.
“So what do you want from me then Malfoy? Since you insist on bothering me when I have better things to do.”
“Was I not clear enough the other day?”
Hermione stared at him hard. He was edging near condescending again.
“You and I do not like each other. Whatever you thought you were doing yesterday, you had no right to do what you did. You may not an ass like you used to be, but I do not intend to be a ‘thing’ to be conquered, I know how boys like to treat girls. I certainly will not be the center of some stupid joke for you and your idiotic Slytherin friends.”
Malfoy took a step back and was actually glaring at her, hard. He waited before he spoke with anger edged in his voice.
“What is wrong with you?”
Hermione’s mouth dropped and Malfoy continued, deliberately not rushed.
“You think everything I said the other day was all poppy cock? Am I only capable of lies and insults? Why can’t you believe that I may actually fancy you? You don’t think that you’re more than a random girl to me, more than the punch line of someone’s humor? You can’t believe that I really feel this way?”
Hermione’s mouth was still hanging open. She shut it, but she sat frozen as she gathered herself and her thoughts. Her mind raced and she let the words sink in to her head and body. As she considered his speech she looked right into Malfoy’s eyes, not to discern the truth or see into his soul, or anything as insightful as that, but just to simply observe him.
Hermione slowly walked to him. She stopped right in front of Malfoy, nearly touching him. He looked at her, almost suspiciously. Undeterred, she just continued to look at Malfoy, not even sure what she was thinking, but something had changed. Malfoy looked back at her with a challenging gaze.
Then she could not contain herself. In the past few days, she had realized the feelings, both respectable and lustful, that she had developed in the time they had been arguing and cooperating as Head students. Hermione decided to let go of her inhibitions. She decided she could be brave enough to give him a chance. She put her hand on the back of Malfoy’s neck and pulled him down to her.
Yes. That was definitely the start of it all.
She and Draco had then gone out, not secretly, but discreetly for almost six months. It had been fun and enthralling. Draco was a wonderful companion and partner. He had thoughts and opinions and had confidence in them and himself, but his demeanor was cool and calculated. Best of all, he let Hermione see these things in him; he shared himself with her.
Everything changed about two weeks ago. It was all so quick. He’d stopped meeting her at night and withdrew from her. He seemed to have suddenly lost all interest in her and in a matter of days he ended their relationship. It had shattered her heart. To her knowledge, Malfoy hadn’t started seeing anyone after that.
Now suddenly, though, Malfoy wanted to get married; married to Ginny.
Thinking about this, Hermione wanted to start crying again, but she had not connected all the dots yet. The other strange happenings had to be connected to this. It was too weird to be a coincidence. As Hermione began recollecting it, she huffed. Why wasn’t she surprised that it was those damned Slytherins again? Her meeting with Pansy Parkinson had been a bizarre meeting with another snake.
Three Months Ago
Hermione stomped out of the Potions’ dungeon.
It was childish indignation, but Snape was so incredibly unfair, his biases could not have been fathomed even by the likes of Voldemort. Double potions with the Slytherin house had never been good, but most days were not this eventful.
So Ron added a little too much powdered lark’s teeth and his potion boiled over. Crabbe and Goyle’s potion blew up! They almost set the tables on fire. Yet Ron fails and Crabbe and Goyle don’t. This is ridiculous.
When Hermione had protested on behalf of her best friend, Snape threatened to fail her as well. So after storming out of the dungeon at the end of the hour, Hermione waited outside for Ron and Harry. They had caught up with her to say they had to conduct a required Quidditch meeting concerning play-offs or something like that.
So Hermione decided to go to the trusty library to start and complete her homework. It would help clam her down. And Draco might find her and be a welcome distraction.
Hermione sat down at an empty table and started Snape’s newly assigned potions essay.
She barely finished her first sentence before she heard someone give an attention-requesting cough in a very Umbridge-like fashion. Hermione’s looked up, startled. She hadn’t even heard anyone approach her. And she was all the more surprised when she realized she was looking face to face with Pansy Parkinson.
A confused expression took over Hermione’s face. One, because of Parkinson’s obviously singed hair and face that had a most curious and odd purple tint and two, because the Slytherin had approached her with no impertinent words, or any words at that. Parkinson just looked back at her, with no malice or reproach. Yet.
Then it hit her that Parkinson was expecting her to say something, even though it was she who had approached Hermione in the first place. What a predictably arrogant Slytherin. Obviously, dating Draco Malfoy had not changed Hermione’s opinion of Slytherins.
After that strange, awkward moment of silence, Hermione narrowed her eyes in dislike and asked, “Yes? Did you need something Parkinson?”
She was awfully puzzled and slightly curious, and could only imagine why some pathetic insult hadn’t been thrown in her general direction by now in the presence of a Slytherin. Her dating Draco hadn’t changed the Slytherins’ attitude towards her either. The feelings were mutual.
“Well Granger, I need something.” Parkinson managed to say this almost shamelessly.
Hermione’s eyebrows rose a bit on her forehead. This was astonishing since it was not everyday that Griffindor and Slytherin students needed anything from each other, other than a good reason to pick a fight. This threw Hermione off a little bit.
Settling her face back into a somewhat blank, bemused expression, Hermione responded.
“What could I possibly have that you want?”
Now Parkinson was not so shameless. It appeared as red blood creeping up from her neck towards her face. She looked like she was questioning whether or not she should just walk away now. It was almost disconcerting to Hermione, to see her (or any Slytherin) like this, unsure and ashamed. But Parkinson did eventually answer, and sharply at that.
“Top marks and mastery over potions.”
Okay then. Hermione didn’t respond aloud, but hoped that this particular thought was translating on her face somehow so that Parkinson would continue or clarify herself.
Apparently it was, because Parkinson opened her mouth again and hesitated as she spoke slowly, like it was challenging to discuss whatever it was that they were talking about with Hermione.
“Well, I need,” Pansy paused, choking on herself, “I need . . . your . . .”
Hermione narrowed her eyes in question before Parkinson, in a hushed voice, spat it out, “Ineedyourhelp.”
Hermione put her pen down and looked at Parkinson like she’d just suggested that she should try flying a broom. What? You’re kidding right?
Parkinson had easily read that face and put some venom in her hushed voice.
“Yes. I said I needed your help Mud-”
Luckily for Parkinson, she had enough mind to not finish that last word.
Hermione still chose to glare at Parkinson. What the hell was this girl playing at? If she really wanted help, she had better play nice. Hermione could just refuse now and never change her mind just for the slip-up Parkinson just almost had. But Hermione was still trying to imagine what could drive her to ask for help, from her no less.
“So what is it exactly that you need Parkinson?”
“I need a potion. A difficult one that I have little doubt you could make for me.” Parkinson had taken a seat in a chair opposite of Hermione at this point.
“What kind of potion were you hoping for?”
Now Pansy Parkinson looked humiliated and uncomfortable. She obviously was trying to school her face to tell nothing, but kept failing and then returning to a blank face again, and then she started to talk with alarming speed.
“Oh. Well . . . now I wouldn’t be doing this if . . . well I have thought it through because this is, well, not a small thing.”
Hermione looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to get to the point and answer the question as she continued.
“And the thing is . . . well is it morally just to force something on someone that way? I mean they don’t know they’re being forced, but still-”
Hermione interjected because this girl was rambling and sometimes, nothing is more annoying than having things dragged out excessively.
“Parkinson! What do you want?”
Parkinson stopped and flushed in embarrassment for her uncontrolled release of thoughts and scatterbrain ramblings.
“Right. Sorry. Well, you have to understand, I-” Hermione stopped her again.
“No. No background stories yet. If I’m interested and I care, I’ll ask later.” Parkinson waited and bit her lip, then said it.
“Love potion. I need a love potion.”
Hermione’s eyebrow could have touched her hairline.
A love potion huh? Interesting. Very interesting . . .
“Really. Well, perhaps I do want to hear this story. So you had better start talking Parkinson. If you want my help, anyway.”
Hermione smiled. This had to be intriguing, or at least entertaining. Parkinson’s misadventures in romance resulting in the need for a love potion had to be worth something. So what if the entertainment was at Pansy Parkinson’s expense? She’d live.