“Granger,” she whispered, her eyes full of merriment.
“Grang—what are you—beak her heart?”
“Make the goody two shoes fall in love with you, Malfoy—” she said cattily, “and then I’ll give you a chance. But she visibly has to fall in love with you, and then you visibly have to break her little Mudblood heart.”
“What? That’s never going—that’s impossible first of all,” I said, completely thrown by what she requested.
“Impossible isn’t a word in my dictionary,” she said, with a frown. “But I guess, if you can’t do it—” she said, shrugging and slinging her bag over her shoulder.
“Wait!” I said, surprising myself. I hated hearing that I can’t do something. It pissed me off. “But she’s got Weasley and why would you even like something so—twisted?”
“It’s not twisted. I would like to be with a strong person, Malfoy or not. So show me you’re a strong person who doesn’t run and hide and be cowardly. And Weasley—please. He’s cute and all, but he’s a Weasley," she said, her nose scrunched up. "Plus, he’s not here, is he? And it becomes mighty hard to be faithful to someone who’s not around,” she said, smiling. “You’re a catch Malfoy. With a little bit of time and manipulation, Granger will be wrapped around your pinky finger.” I stared at Astoria, who was smiling. She was breathtaking, she really was. I would do it, if it meant I’d get her in the end.
“Okay,” I said, “but if I succeed, you’re going to Hogsmeade with me on a proper date,” I said.
“Done and done,” she said, with a grin. She leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m excited to see you back in the game, Malfoy. I’m going to go up to bed now. I’ll see you soon,” she said, with a wink. I watched her leave, still in the Great Hall, thinking about what I just agreed to. There was this sinking feeling in my gut, but my anger and pride pushed it away for me. This was nothing to me. It was only Granger after all. And I’m a Malfoy.
That name should still mean something… right?
I pushed open the common room door and saw her sitting on the sofa, books spread around her, even though school had barely started. She didn’t even look up at me. I sighed and made my way to the kitchen, opening the cupboard and staring at the food. I glanced back at her.
“Granger,” I said, in a rougher voice than I meant. Her head jerked up, hair flying everywhere, and she stared at me in surprise. “Um—do you want something to eat?” I asked, trying to maintain eye contact. Her look went from surprise to utter shock and then to suspicion.
“No,” she said, “I’m good—err—thanks.”
“Right, well… I’m making pasta, so if you change your mind, I can just double it,” I said, feeling strange. The shock was back on her face, but she nodded, and turned to her work, tucking her hair behind her ears, a thoughtful look on her face.
I woke up the next day to the smell of eggs wafting through the apartment. I stood up and stretched, and pushed open the door. Granger was standing at the stove, her back to me, a morning robe on. She actually didn’t look too bad. I guess it wouldn’t be too difficult to tolerate seducing her. She turned to look at me and I didn’t know if she was grimacing or smiling. I sucked all of my courage and distaste up into the brightest smile a Malfoy could muster and she stepped back a few paces, her hand inside her robe pocket, probably grasping her wand.
“Okay, what the hell are you doing?” she demanded, folding her arms in front of her.
“Err,” I said, watching her. There was a time in which it was so natural for me to just—make a girl desperately want me with just one glance. I wasn’t a nice guy—I honestly did use girls until Pansy. Until then, I just wanted a girl on my arm—different ones at different times. But I was finding it so hard. Probably because it was Granger. “Well err, I thought that you know—since we live together and all it would be good if we could put all this old stuff behind us.”
She looked very suspicious.
“Please, just—this war’s over,” I said tentatively, “and I’m honestly tired of being this hated guy. And if you know—we were okay, I was thinking that I’d be okay with everyone else in the castle. Since you’re so—you know, looked up to?” I suggested. I watched with slight amusement as her suspicious expression changed to one of slight mollification. She was like an open book.
“I guess—” she said, “but you know it’s sort of—hard, well—to trust you.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m not really asking for that yet. Just civility—and maybe sharing some of the responsibilities around here. I want to chip in more with the head stuff. I get that it’s a privilege and important. And the cooking and stuff,” I said, trailing off and breaking eye contact intentionally. It seemed to be working.
“Wow, okay, I guess that wouldn’t be hard to do—um—okay, well I’m going to go take a shower and try and wrap my head around this,” she said, still staring at me like I was from Mars.
“Right well I’ll just serve this out so you can eat it when you come out.”
“Okay…” she said, still watching me as she left the room. I turned to the eggs and started to spoon them into two plates, grinning at this small victory. Guess I didn’t really lose it after all.
I came back from class that night, completely exhausted. Granger was on the couch and looked up, giving me a tentative smile. I smiled back, trying my best to feign slight awkwardness along with genuine-ness. I shouldn’t be on track to be a Healer. I should have definitely tried a hand at acting or something.
“I’m actually trying to figure out a theme for the Halloween feast. Can you help?” she asked. I stared at the plans before her, tried hard to remember Astoria’s blue eyes, and pushed away the tired feeling in my legs and sat down next to her.
“Well, wouldn’t it just be—you know—Halloween?”
She gave me an almost playfully exasperated look. “Well, I suppose it would be, but I just don’t want a normal theme. It’s either really cutesy Halloween or super scary. You know, there’s a whole huge history behind Halloween. It’s traditionally a Pagan hol—“
“Granger, I read,” I said, cutting her short. I smirked at her. “As much as I seem like I don’t.”
“Oh, no I just assume—Harry and Ron just always need an explanation,” she said, sounding apologetic. I wanted to say that was because they were complete arsehole morons, but I refrained. Insulting her best friend and boyfriend probably wouldn’t be a good start to this whole scheme.
“So let’s bring back the Pagan scares—“ I began to say, before she cut me off.
“You didn’t say anything about Harry and Ron,” she said, sounding surprised.
I hid my grimace, and nodded, not looking at her.
“Not a big deal anymore,” I said quietly. She seemed stunned. “Anyway, like I was saying—you want to head to the library? We can maybe find some books with Pagan legends in them. I’m sure. Pagans were a huge part of the Wizarding world,” I said.
“It’s in the History of Magic,” we both said at the same time.
“I—,” she looked speechless. “Okay.” She stood up and we left the room and started walking to the library. There were only a few people milling around. It was just before dinner time. All of them stared at us walking together. I could almost hear what they were whispering. The Ginny Weasley girl was walking by and jumped in surprise when Granger said hi to her.
“Hermione,” she said, looking from me to her, with a scared expression on her face. I could tell she was gripping her wand hard in her robes. “Is everything okay?” I stayed quiet, even though I wanted to hex her out of the way.
“Yes,” Granger said, giving Weasley a look. “I’ll catch up with you at dinner, yeah?”
“Yeah…” Weasley said, giving her an anxious glance, giving me a threating glance, and then walking away. Granger shook her head and continued to walk.
“It’s weird,” she said quietly. “I never thought—well, I thought you would just resent me more.”
“For what?” I asked, surprised.
“Well… getting your dad in jail?” she said meekly. I glanced over at her. She looked terribly scared.
“Honestly,” I said quietly, “it was more of a relief than anything.”
“What?” she asked, “why?”
“Because he’s a first class arse,” I responded bitterly.
“Was everything okay? Between you two? I mean… did he hit you or abuse you or something?”
I was about to answer but I caught myself and looked over at her. She was watching me and walking, looking anxious and waiting for my answer. “Stop being nosy,” I snapped at her. She blushed red and looked away from me. Shit. “I mean,” I said, trying to level out my voice, “I mean, I just—don’t really feel like talking about it,” I said more calmly. The red receded from her cheeks and she looked a bit more mollified.
“I’m sorry I was being nosy,” she said.
“Nah, it’s a good question,” I replied, but I was already lost in thought by the time we got to the aisles of the library. Why did I almost tell her that? I never told anyone that. Let alone Mudblood Granger. Fuck, this was getting out of hand. I was so into this I was losing it. I had to close up some more and still appear to be open and honest.
To be honest, it would prove to be hard. For some reason, Granger was easy to actually be open too. Maybe because I wasn’t scared of her or anything. It’s just Granger. Your average mudblood. What the hell could she do? But I still needed to watch it. No need to divulge anything to her.
“Err… Malfoy—Draco—um…” I heard her struggle with what to call me and knew that this was actually working. I walked over to her, strategically placing a smirk on my face.
“Yes, Granger?” I drawled out. She flushed red.
“I found some books on it,” she said hurriedly, flipping through the book on top of her stack of five books.
“That was quick! I’m impressed,” I said.
She stared at me. “You’re really not going to add for a mudblood or for you to the end of that?”
“Really not going to,” I affirmed. I felt good for some reason suddenly—probably had something to do with the fact that Astoria was sitting at the table next to Granger, watching us intently, smirking. So because I felt good, I put a genuine smile on my face, which seemed to take Granger back a step.
“Okay, well that’s nice to know,” she said, smiling back. Her teeth were pearly white and a little dimple found its way to her cheek. It was kind of… I didn’t know what to call it, so I pushed it out of my mind.
“Alright, well you go ahead and I’m right behind you,” I said to her. “I actually have to ask Madam Pince about something.”
“Okay,” she agreed, and gave me another smile, before walking off. I immediately turned to Astoria, who was leaning back in her chair and watching me intently.
“That was… cute,” she said condescendingly. I sat down next to her.
“I think it was better than just cute!” I disagreed.
“Not really, honey,” she said, and looked down at her astronomy chart. I took her quill and filled out the four planets she had starred from difficulty. She looked up at me, raising an eyebrow.
“I knew those, you pretentious shit,” she said.
“Oh… err, I’m sorry…” she just shook her head and grinned, before looking back down at her parchment. She rolled it up, put in her bag, and let out a huge yawn.
“Well, you better get back to your lover,” she said, smirking at me, and getting up. “I’ve got a date.”
“How is that even fair?” I demanded, watching her curl a strand of her beautiful black hair with a flick of her wand.
“All’s fair in love and war,” she said quietly, kissed me on the cheek, and walked off, her hips swaying sensuously. She was literally driving me completely fucking crazy.