For the next two weeks, Malfoy and I had become on great terms. We had everything down. He was actually pleasant to be around. I was even considering asking him to eat with us, but I knew that everyone at the table would be complete arseholes to him. So I refrained from going so far. He still called me Granger, and I called him Malfoy, because there was some level of trust that neither of us could overcome. I knew the game was coming up soon though, and Harry and Ron would be here, and then I might have to explain all of this.
But I really didn’t want to.
“Malfoy,” I said one night, as we were both working on our homework.
“What Granger?” he asked, not looking up from his charts.
“Um—so Harry and Ron are coming this weekend for the game and well—I’d appreciate it if we kind of pretend—not to be friends around them.”
He looked up at me and to my relief; he looked amused more than angry. “They can’t handle the mere thought of it, can they?”
“Something like that,” I said truthfully.
“Whatever, fine with me,” he said.
“Err… wow, thanks,” I said. He just shrugged and that was the end of that.
“Granger,” he said after a while of sitting there, “you think I have a chance?”
I looked up from my work, surprised. “Chance at?”
“Chance in this world? I’m fairly disliked. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing all this work for nothing. No one is going to want to hire me.”
“You’re second in class, Malfoy,” I said, “don’t be preposterous.”
“Yes, but I have this,” he said bitterly, pulling up his sleeve to show me his Dark Mark. It was faded now, but by no means was it gone. It looked as horrible as ever, and I couldn’t help but flinch. He noticed. “See? You’re flinching and you know it’s there.”
I looked up at him. He was looking at the mark with disgust and anger, and I felt bad. I reached a hand over and pulled the sleeve down, causing him to jump and pull away, as if something dirty had touched him.
For some reason, I felt hurt and pulled back quickly. Normally, I wouldn’t feel bad at all. It was such a Malfoy thing to do—pull away. At least the Malfoy I had gone to school with.
“I’m sorry—it was reflexive,” he said, after a few moments of awkward silence. I didn’t say anything. “Granger, come on… it was really just—”
“Malfoy, how can you switch so easily?” I asked.
“You were just so—against muggleborns and such and I just don’t understand why it’s not like Zabini and Parkinson where you just stayed that way.”
He was quiet for so long, I assumed I wasn’t going to get an answer. “Maybe because I never believed it, and they did.”
“Of course you believed it,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You were poster boy for it.”
“Funny exactly how much power my son of a bitch father had over me, isn’t it?” he said bitterly in response.
“What do you mean?” I asked quietly. He glanced over at me and then back down at his papers.
“He hurt my mum—a lot,” he said. “And Granger don’t fucking go around and tell people that.”
“I wouldn’t,” I said, feeling sick.
“And um—it was the threat of having her dead when I came home for holiday that kept me the way I was.”
“Fuck,” I said, not being able to help myself, “Merlin’s sake, how the hell—I had no idea…”
“Why would you?” he asked, turning to me and smiling sadly. “Didn’t advertise it. But now he’s in jail thank Merlin, and she can’t be hurt, so there’s no use pretending. I mean—my family name is already to shit.”
“Kind of,” I said, trying to go along with his comic relief.
“Anyway, I guess I just told you—
“Are you nervous?” I asked, sitting down next to Ginny, who was telling everyone decked in the red and gold robes to eat more and more, while she herself ate absolutely nothing.
“Nervous? Me?” she asked, as if it were the most preposterous thing I could’ve said.
“It’s only Hufflepuff,” I pointed out.
“I know. I’m fine,” she said, almost knocking over her pumpkin juice trying to shove a piece of toast down Dean’s throat.
“Is it because Harry’s coming?” I asked, grinning slightly. She blushed and ignored me.
“When is he coming?” Dean asked from across the table. I couldn’t help but glare at him a little. He didn’t notice though, I think.
“Right now,” I heard Harry’s familiar voice say from behind me. I turned and saw both Ron and Harry standing at the table grinning like idiots. Well Ron was. Harry was just kind of semi-glaring at Dean. Ginny jumped up, this time knocking her drink over, and leapt into Harry’s outstretched arms. Their kiss was applause worthy. I got up too and gave Ron a hug and a kiss myself.
I saw Malfoy out of the corner of my eye walking out of the Great Hall and onto the grounds and turned to Ron and Harry, both of whom were mercilessly teasing Ginny.
“Listen,” I said hurriedly, “I’ve got to get to the grounds to set up.” I leaned in and gave Ginny and Harry a quick kiss on the cheek, Ron one on the lips, and rushed out to meet Malfoy.
“Hey Granger,” he said smirking. “I guess I can talk to you now?”
“Yeah,” I said, feeling sheepish. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. Didn’t really feel like getting into anything with the Pot—with Potter or Weasley,” he quickly said, glancing at me.
I smiled. “That’s nice to hear,” I said.
“Whatever, Granger. Nothing you do will make me like those gits though,” he said. “At least you have intelligence. Potter has dumb luck and Weasley—sorry, I know you two are an item—but he’s just—a sidekick,” Malfoy said, looking slightly apologetic.
“He’s not a sidekick,” I protested. “He’s a nice guy—but—forget it. It’s not like your friends are gems or anything. Pansy Parkinson? She’s a complete pig.”
“Hey!” he protested. “She’s more like a complete cow.”
I started laughing and he grinned, a not very Malfoy grin. It wasn’t a smirk, it was a grin. “Hello,” a familiar, very amused voice said. We turned and saw Professor McGonagall standing behind us, neutral as the Headmistress was supposed to be for games, except of course, for the tiny red and gold pin she had buttoned to her lapel. She didn’t comment on our friendliness, instead she went straight to the point.
“Your job is just to enjoy the game and keep an eye out for trouble. If something is to occur, make sure that everyone in the stands are calm. And at the end of the game, make sure there is some sort of order in the chaos. Gryffindors especially can get quite rough—not that I think they will or will not win,” she added quickly.
“Right,” Malfoy muttered. She just gave him a stern look and he shut up.
“I will see you both later, you should be fine.”
Harry and Ron came out and I darted away from Malfoy, not even having time to give him an apologetic look. I was probably the worst try-to-work-on-a-friendship person ever. They both came up to me, making sure to make a face at Malfoy—who—to my great surprise—just completely ignored them.
“What, he’s not going to say anything—cowardly ferret,” Ron said, loud enough for pretty much the entire first two rows of the now flooding in onlookers to hear.
“Ron, can you just—stop?” I asked. He turned to roll his eyes at me.
“Well it’s odd, the cold shoulder.”
“Maybe he’s over it,” I snapped. He looked at me in surprise.
“AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE FIRST MATCH OF THE YEAR—GRYFFINDOR VERSUS HUFFLEPUFF!” Rita Reynolds’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker just in time. I ushered Ron and Harry up to about the fourth row, where the view was perfect, and we sat and watched as Ginny and the team walked proudly into the field.
“He’s not even that good,” I heard Harry mumble as Dean’s name was yelled and he walked out, his chest stuck out, and Ginny swooped by and gave his hair a ruffle.
“Harry, don’t worry about Ginny,” I whispered, turning to a anxiety stricken Harry. “She misses you a lot.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of…” he said, his voice drowned out by the mild roar given for the Hufflepuff captain.
The game went as expected. Ginny flew excellently and made every single shot, to Ron’s chagrin. Dean missed one, to Harry’s absolute delight. The Gryffindor seeker caught the snitch in about ten minutes and the game was over and as usual, the field was swarmed in red and gold. Ravenclaws remained in their seats, because they usually favored Hufflepuff whenever Hufflepuff played. And of course, Slytherin didn’t move a muscle, as they wouldn’t if either team won.
As I went down to give Ginny a congratulatory hug, I caught Malfoy’s eye. He was sitting at the bottom row, by himself, leaning back and watching the chaos. He winked at me, something that caught me off guard, and I looked away quickly, glancing at Ron and Harry. They didn’t see anything though, thankfully, and I turned to give Malfoy a smile back. And just at that moment, when I was smiling at him, something hit me tremendously hard on the back of my head and I fell down. Everything became blurry and deafeningly quiet—except for a loud ringing noise in my ears. I saw something ice blonde streaking toward me and then leaning over me. I was being lifted by strong arms and then everything went absolutely black.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!” I heard someone yell. They were oddly muffled though, and I couldn’t see anything. I was bouncing slightly—rhythmically, but then I stopped. Why couldn’t I see anything? Why couldn’t I say anything? I felt my eyes—they were closed—as if sown shut actually, and I forced them slightly open. But light was something unbearable and I closed them immediately.
“Weasley, don’t you fucking dare touch me,” I hear another muffled voice snarl.
“Malfoy,” I heard a calmer, but still muffled voice say, “put her down now.”
“OR WHAT?” I felt someone bellow, but it felt as if it were right against my ear drum and I let my eyes fly open. I was looking up at Malfoy’s chin. I could even see faint blonde hairs and I had an odd want to touch them. “You’ll hex me?” Malfoy’s chin moved as he said this and I couldn’t help but watch in fascination. “You hex me and then Granger’s on the ground, then what?” he asked, with a slightly amused tone.
“What do you even want with her?” Ron asked. I could hear his voice shaking with anger. “Want to pull an Auntie Bellatrix and start torturing her? Would that make you feel fucking better that your son of a bitch daddy is in jail?”
“Shut the fuck up, Weasley,” I heard Malfoy say in a dangerous voice. I would’ve shuddered if I could’ve mustered the energy.
“Touched a nerve did I? Ron asked.
I wanted to find my voice so desperately.
“Draco,” I managed to push out. The silence afterward was absolutely resounding and I heard someone drop something and it clammer on the ground.
“Malfoy!” I heard McGonagall’s stern voice say. I closed my eyes again, because the light had started to bother me once more. “Granger is bleeding and you three are standing around yelling at one another? Get her to the hospital wing for Merlin’s sake!” I felt brisk walking and I started to rhythmically bounce once more. Darkness decided to take me over again and this time, I didn’t fight it.