Blaise and Malfoy put their Quidditch gear away and made it back to the castle just as the last few students were trickling into the Great Hall for dinner. They slipped inside, sitting down by Theo and Pansy, the former grunting at them in greeting. The babble died down as Professor McGonagall stood and raised a hand for silence.
“Before we eat, I have an announcement to make. Under the direction of Head Boy and Head Girl, Hogwarts will be hosting a ball on New Years’ Eve to commemorate the Battle of Hogwarts and the rebuilding of the castle and grounds. Students fourth year and older may attend, but everyone is welcome to make a donation. I have an incentive planned if donations reach a certain level. A box for you to put your donations into will be placed outside the doors to the Great Hall on Monday morning. Timetables for classes will be handed out tomorrow morning at breakfast. Enjoy your meal,” Professor McGonagall said, taking her seat while the students clapped.
As food appeared on the tables, the Hall was abuzz with conversations about the possible incentive of donating. Even the Slytherin table was chattier than usual, with the younger, less-corrupted students excited about there just being a ball in Hogwarts, even though most of them wouldn’t be old enough to attend. The meal was a happy one thanks to the announcement of the ball, and Hermione was elated it was already being received so well even with so few details revealed.
After the meal began winding down, I dismissed myself from the Gryffindor table and began the long trek up to the Heads’ dormitory. My shoes echoed in the silence of the stonewalled corridor. A feeling of uneasiness crept into my mind then, and I quickened my pace, urging the moving staircases to change faster. By the time the exit to the seventh floor corridor was available, I nearly sprinted up the flight of stairs, catching my toe on the top one and sending myself flying through the air.
The only impact that came was flesh on flesh. Air whooshed out of my lungs as I landed atop another human. “Bloody hell, Granger!” a familiar voice grunted.
Thank god it’s only Malfoy, I thought. He shoved me off of him and stood, not even bothering to help me up. Or not.
“Watch yourself, Granger,” he said, casting his eyes down the corridor. Malfoy began walking, apparently expecting me to follow him like a puppy.
“Why do I need to watch myself, Malfoy? Is something going to happen?” I interrogated him, catching up and stopping directly in front of him, forcing him to stop or go around me.
Malfoy exhaled and stopped no more than six inches away from me. “No. At least, I don’t think so. Hogwarts doesn’t feel safe anymore,” he whispered.
I took a sharp breath in as he shoved past me to Merlin’s portrait. I hurried after him, questions burning in my mind to ask him. “Don’t even think about it, Granger,” he said coolly. “I can practically hear the cogs turning in your head.”
“Fine. But don’t come asking me for help when you’re trapped by people wanting revenge on you for what you did during the War,” I snapped, my tone more ruthless than I was expecting. “Goodnight, Malfoy.” I stomped upstairs and slammed my door shut, illustrating how I was clearly done talking to him for the night.
I cast quick Muffliato charm and let out a scream of frustration. Why did Draco bloody Malfoy have to be the Head Boy? Why couldn’t it have been Harry or god forbid one of the Ravenclaws or Hufflepuffs? Those boys, I could handle easily. It was the nebulous entity that composed Draco Malfoy that irked me to no end. One minute, he’d be all charming and witty; the next, sarcastic and cruel; and then, well read and passionate. I couldn’t make sense of any of it!
Changing into more comfortable clothing, I crawled under my duvet, propping my head up with a couple of extra pillows. Crookshanks shortly joined me under the covers, curling up in the crook of my elbow. I sighed, relishing my ginger cat’s warmth. Crookshanks and Harry would be the ones keeping me sane for the rest of the year—that’s for certain.
Unless Malfoy cleaned up his act and stopped acting like a child whenever we weren’t discussing necessary things, I wasn’t going to deal with him except when I actually had to for Head duties. Other than that, he was on his own.
Confident my resolve would hold in not helping him, I whispered, “Nox,” and went to sleep to prepare for the long day ahead tomorrow.
Bloody Granger and her need to nose her way into everything! Couldn’t a bloke get a break from girls for once in his life? I slammed my bedroom door too, just to piss her off even though Blaise told me not to. Changing out of my regular clothes into boxers and a shirt, I got into my bed and folded my hands behind my head. Looking at the ceiling with its constellations, Draco among them, made me pensive.
I was glad Blaise decided to return to Hogwarts this year to finish out his education. Even though he fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, his reputation was annoyingly clean thanks to disappearing with his mother in her native Italy afterwards. I always thought of him as my intellectual equal, and perhaps better in some subjects; however, my prowess at Quidditch and better-known family name put me a notch above him, something he never really got over. But he remained a true and loyal friend, someone I could always trust with anything. When I first got the Dark Mark out of fear for my family’s lives, Blaise talked sense into me and gave me a path to focus on that would help save my family and keep me out of the Dark Lord’s wrath.
Still, it was disturbingly clear how much the other students didn’t want me in their midst, and especially not as their Head Boy. If only Granger could recover her bloody memories! Then everyone wouldn’t doubt Potter’s judgment about me—for which I was indebted greatly to him—but I figured if I didn’t kill Granger before the end of the term, we were even. There had to be a way to make Granger remember my rescue without using my Legilimency on her or using a pensieve to show her my memory of the attack; she’d claim it as a fake and continue on her way.
I looked at the clock and realized it was nearing one o’clock in the morning. “Bugger it all,” I grumbled, annoyed that my sleep schedule was already messed up, and classes hadn’t even started yet. “Nox,” I muttered, pulling my covers up to my chest and rolling over.
Falling into a restless sleep, the nightmares plagued me once more.
“The Mudblood is Head Girl, with that pretentious scumbag Malfoy as Head Boy. What do you think we should do about this, sir?” the young man queried, bowing his head.
“For now,” the other man, shrouded in darkness, replied, “we wait.”
“Yes, my lord. What shall I do in the meantime, then?” the young man asked nervously.
Silence fell upon the dark room for a moment as the dark man thought.
“Continue your work with the Granger girl. I want to hear everything you hear about her mental block, and investigate it yourself, if possible. Make it so Mr. Malfoy understands his mistakes in changing sides, in accepting those filthy half bloods and Mudbloods. Give him no choice but to return to us,” the leader said menacingly, “or the Mudblood dies.”
The next morning, Hermione woke up at precisely seven thirty a.m. thanks to Malfoy pounding on her door.
“Get up, Granger, I’m hungry!” he whined.
“Go get breakfast by yourself then, you tosser!” Hermione grumbled, throwing her pillow at the door hard enough it made a thumping sound. “I’m getting up!” she said loudly.
“Well hurry it up then, I don’t want to walk in late to have first years running around like chickens with their heads cut off before I’ve had my breakfast!” Malfoy declared.
Hermione mocked him in a high-pitched voice, “I’m hungry, feed me or I’ll murder all of you!”
A fist hit the door separating the two of them. “I heard that, Granger! Have your arse downstairs in ten minutes or I’ll drag you down to breakfast!”
“That’s likely,” Hermione muttered to herself. Quickly she dressed in a royal blue button down with medium wash skinny jeans and booties, pinning her Head Girl badge directly over her heart; allowing herself a moment of pride at attaining the position she’d so coveted when she first began her magical education. She cast a quick charm on her hair to tame it into smoother waves and grabbed her book bag, already full with textbooks and parchment.
She walked down the stairs ten minutes and forty-three seconds later, noting with a smirk that Malfoy was sitting tensely on one of the wooden chairs at the table, jiggling his foot in agitation. He was wearing what muggles would consider somewhat business casual—a close-fitting, pale blue button down and black trousers and shoes.
His eyes flitted to Hermione as she entered his field of vision. “You’re late, Granger,” he said, tearing his eyes away from the fireplace to look at her. “You have to change, now. We are not going in there matching.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow, already annoyed with him for waking her up and expecting her to get ready in so little time. “Here, I’ll fix it right now.”
She pulled her wand out of her pocket and twirled it in Malfoy’s direction. Instantly his shirt changed from a pale blue color to a very faint green color. Smiling at his fuming expression, Hermione voiced sweetly, “That’s much better. Now, let’s go get some breakfast, shall we?” She turned and exited the portrait hole, expecting Malfoy to follow her out just to have the last word.
The sounds of his shoes slapping on the stone put a smirk on her face. “Nice of you to join me, Malfoy,” she called out snarkily.
“I’m not joining you, Granger. You simply happen to be walking to the same place I am,” Malfoy said stoically.
She laughed then, a bright, twinkling sound that sounded like music. “Says the boy who was begging me not fifteen minutes ago to go to breakfast with him because he was too scared to go alone,” Hermione teased, her voice rising in pitch to emphasize his whining.
He opened his mouth to retort but Hermione cut in, “And don’t forget after we eat and help the first years with any questions they have about their classes, we have a meeting with the Prefects at eleven o’clock in the Prefect Lounge. We’ll be finalizing patrols and hearing any concerns about the year.”
“I do hope you won’t annoy me during the next few hours, Malfoy, or you just might find a little something extra in your food at dinner,” she taunted, her face unclear if she was just messing about with him or was being deadly serious.
Malfoy remained silent until they reached the Great Hall and he was afforded the luxury to depart from Hermione’s presence for a short time. He slid onto the bench, away from his housemates, and piled quite the assortment of food onto his plate. Somehow he managed to eat three triangles of toast with jam, two eggs over easy, seven pieces of bacon, four breakfast sausages, and two glasses of orange juice in a matter of minutes.
He turned his gaze to Hermione across the hall, eating and conversing with Harry and Ron. Hermione glanced up and caught him looking at her; the corners of her mouth twitched upward. That morning post decided to arrive at that moment, hundreds of owls flying through holes in the ceiling, dropping off packages, letters, and newspapers with a systematic chaos.
A letter and a copy of the Daily Prophet landed neatly in my outstretched hand from my eagle owl, Archimedes. After stowing the letter, which was from my mother, I unrolled the Daily Prophet and nearly tore it in half immediately. Granger and I had made the bloody front page. A picture of the two of us when we were discussing literature from the other day took up nearly then entire page. The article read:
Hogwarts’s Golden Girl Taming Slytherin Bad Boy?
By Rita Skeeter
It seems that Hermione Granger, aged 18, has found her next charity case. Draco Malfoy, also 18, reformed Death Eater has become the Head Boy to her Head Girl for this year at Hogwarts. The pair has been enemies since the first day they knew each other, but do we see any of that petty animosity anymore? If this photo suggests anything, it’s that Miss Granger seems to have a soft spot in her heart for fixer-uppers like Mr. Malfoy.
“It was the weirdest thing,” an anonymous student says, “they were just talking about books like regular people. I didn’t know what to think!”
“Yeah, they weren’t even yelling at each other or arguing at all! They were being nice to each other,” another student commented.
If these two are playing nice on the first day of term, whose to say there won’t be something more being talked about by the time the holidays roll around? It’s already been announced they are holding a ball on New Year’s Eve and it’s exclusively the two of them planning it. Miss Granger is known for her incredible ability to handle stubborn men (Mr. Ronald Weasley, anyone?) so it’s not surprising she’s taken to Mr. Malfoy to prove her place as “Brightest Witch of Their Age.”
Mr. Malfoy escaped an Azkaban sentence due to being only sixteen when taking the Dark Mark and entering the ranks of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and also on Harry Potter’s testimonial, supporting Draco’s innocence. With his ex-Death Eater status, it’s quite clear the boy needs saving from his past. It very well looks like Miss Granger could be the salvation he needs in more ways than one. Now that the Malfoy heir has returned to Hogwarts to finish out his education, it’s quite clear the student body is wary of his presence at Hogwarts, and as his position as Head Boy.
We’ll have to keep a close eye on the unlikely pair Miss Granger and Mr. Malfoy make throughout the rest of the year. The future could bring interesting things for these two. The next next update about goings-on at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be every two weeks starting from today.
Whispers grew into a roar as more and more students pulled out their copies and began reading the article. Looks flew between Granger and I; some students even had the nerve to stand and crane their necks at me until I glared them back to their seats. I knew we had to do some damage control or rumours would start spreading like Fiendfyre.
I rose from my seat and murder on my face, gripping the newspaper tightly in my fist as I walked towards the Gryffindor table. Granger stood up and began her walk towards the middle of the hall, her own copy clutched in her hand and fury in her eyes. We stopped five feet apart in the gap between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables, our eyes locked. Her hand twitched, and I knew it was show time.
“What did you tell Pansy, Malfoy?! You let her talk to that spineless gossiper Skeeter about something she has no business in! You’re still that filthy little cockroach I punched third year, you haven’t changed one bit!” Granger shouted angrily, stomping her foot for emphasis.
“Why do you think I bloody talked to Pansy? Obviously it was those Patil twins you’re so cozy with, Granger! They just love a good gossip, don’t they? You’re an insufferable know-it-all and so bloody selfish! I hope you like planning the ball on your own, you wench!” I roared back, stepping up to her so there were mere inches between our faces. Our chests heaved as we blew hot breaths into each other’s faces, glaring down at each other.
Then the tension broke as someone shouted, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” The chant got louder and we got angrier. I nodded at Granger imperceptibly when the chant reached such a loud volume it began to echo. Granger pulled back her right arm and slapped me across the face, the sound echoing across the Great Hall and the chanting stopped immediately. A raised handprint red as blood covered my left cheek, but I didn’t cover it up, didn’t wince at the pain.
I held my chin high and declared murderously, “Go to hell, Granger.” I stalked out of the Great Hall, noting the stares and whispers between friends. Our job was complete.
Needless to say, the fact we had to go to a Prefect meeting directly after breakfast didn’t help the situation at all. Thankfully, I only had to wade through a few first years’ questions about their schedules before I could break away from them and do my job. I nearly ran up to the fifth floor, opening the door with more force than intending and making everyone turn and look at me.
Sitting at the far end of the meeting room was Malfoy, my handprint still very visible on his cheek. Of course, the only open seat in the room was the one next to him. Clenching my fist tighter, I stalked over to it. I sat down and scooted it away from him loudly, making it glaringly obvious I was still angry with him.
“All right, let’s get started with the meeting,” I said steadily, eyeing a few of the prefects to judge their reactions to the tension in the room. “We’ll meet in two weeks after dinner to discuss any ideas you come up with for the ball. A piece of parchment is going around now with your assigned patrols. If any of you have any concerns, please voice them now.”
“I’ve got one,” Justin Flinch-Fletchly called from the opposite end of the room. I gestured with my hand, letting him know I was listening. “How are we supposed to know you and Malfoy won’t be at each others’ throats when you’re on patrol?”
Malfoy clenched his jaw in my peripheral vision. “I can assure you it won’t be an issue, Justin,” I said smoothly, suppressing an urge to glance at Malfoy. “Any other questions that pertain to your patrols?”
My question was met with stony silence. I exhaled and dropped all pretense of stoic professionalism. “I can tell you’re all thinking about something. Someone just spit it out already,” I snapped.
“Are you shagging each other?” an unidentifiable voice asked.
“10 points from Hufflepuff,” Malfoy drawled. “You lot are thick, aren’t you? Rita Skeeter is a rubbish journalist and the only honest thing that foul woman has ever written is that Potter’s a tosser. Now, if you are done nosing into Granger and I’s business, I think we’re finished here.” The group of Prefects stared back at them, completely mute. “All of you are free to leave, unless you’ve got legitimate matters to discuss with Granger or I.”
The sound of chairs scooting back filled the room as every single Prefect hurried out of the room as fast as they possibly could. Finally, I released a breath I wasn’t aware I was holding and looked over at Malfoy. He continued looking straight ahead as he said, “Well, Granger. Looks like we’ve got a friend of the press in our midst.”
I cast a Muffliato in the room and cracked a tentative smile. “I’m sure our fight in the middle of the Great Hall will have negated any rumours by now,” I said, pumping as much fake enthusiasm into my voice as I could muster, trying to lift his moody spirits.
“Let’s hope so, Granger, or we’re going to have a bloody fun next three months together,” he said darkly, rising from his seat and walking out of the meeting room.
I sighed exasperatedly and followed him out of the room back to the dormitory.
A/N: That was fun. You know the drill! :)