Chapter 6 : Chapter 6
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Hermione ran through the corridors until a stitch in her side meant she had to stop. She leant against a wall, doubled over, trying to catch her breath.
"Granger!" An all too familiar voice shouted from further down the hallway. Hermione looked up to see Malfoy running towards her. She immediately began walking in the opposite direction, as quickly as she could manage with the sharp pain in her side. Malfoy continued to follow her, calling her name.
"Granger! Granger! HERMIONE!" Hearing Malfoy use her first name made Hermione freeze. She slowly turned to face him, finding him only a few feet away.
"Hermione..." He began.
"Stop." She interrupted him, "look, I know what you're going to say so let me save you the trouble. Filthy mudblood, tell anyone about what I heard and I'll regret it, some empty threat about your father et cetera et cetera...I get it. I won't say anything, just leave me alone, okay?" She turned on her heel, about to walk away when Malfoy grabbed her arm. Shivers shot up her spine, she hated him.
"Wait, that's not what I was going to say." He began, "I mean, yes, I was going to ask you not to tell anyone. But I wasn't going to call you a...a..."
"A what Malfoy?" Hermione spat. "A mudblood? Why not, it wouldn't be the first time. It wouldn't even be in the top ten."
"I don't call people that anymore. I don't care who or what your parents are. Or anyone else's for that matter. Look where fighting over blood status has got wizards in the past..."
Hermione got the feeling Malfoy wasn't even talking to her anymore. He was staring at his shoes. She had never seen him look so...vulnerable. Was what he was saying true? Did he really not care?
"Whatever Malfoy, your secrets safe with me. Now let me go." Hermione had realised that Malfoy still had hold of her arm. Obviously Malfoy hadn't noticed either because as soon as she mentioned it he quickly withdrew his arm. He mumbled his thanks as Hermione walked away. She was, once again, confused about her interaction with Malfoy.
Once back in her room, Hermione sat at her desk with some parchment and a quill. She had decided to write a letter to Harry and ask for his thoughts on Malfoy. She wasn't even sure why she was so bothered, but something was nagging at her and she just had to get to the bottom of his strange behaviour.
How are you? Glad to be home?
I've just finished my first week of lessons, NEWT level work is hard but I'm already ahead on my homework. I'm missing you and Ron a lot, tell him I said hello!
I'm writing to ask your opinion on something. Malfoy has been acting very weird since we got back to school. He's been almost nice, well by his standards. We've spoken a couple of times about work and he sat next to me in potions when there wasn't another seat (without a fuss!) and today I caught him crying in Moaning Myrtles bathroom. He gave me this speech about him not caring about blood status and it's all very strange! Have you heard anything about his family at work? I know Lucius is in Azkaban but what about Narcissa? I know I shouldn't care but it's driving me mad!
Love to you and Ron,
After changing out of her school robes Hermione took a slow walk to the owlery. Much to her annoyance, she kept thinking about Malfoy. Replaying their interactions over the past week. Him being Head Boy, her calling him a ferret and him not reacting, passing on her homework, twice in potions, catching him crying in the toilets and the bizarre conversation that followed. She'd had more contact with him in five days than in the seven years since they met in first year.
Without realising it, Hermione had reached the top of the staircase that led to the owlery. She could hear someone moving around inside and knew who it was before she even opened the door.
Sure enough, the first thing she saw once inside the large circular room was Malfoy. He had looked up to see who had joined him and didn't look surprised to see it was Hermione. He quickly averted his gaze and went back to feeding treats to his grey eagle owl.
Hermione found one of the schools owls which wasn't sleeping and began to tie her letter to Harry to it's leg. She could feel Malfoy's eyes on her the whole time and was reluctant to turn to face him so watched the owl and her letter fly off until they couldn't be seen any more. She walked to the door with her eyes on the dropping-strewn floor avoiding all eye contact with Malfoy.
"Err, Gr-Hermione?" She cursed inwardly as he called her name before she could open the door. What did he want now? She simply looked at him without a word. He took this as his cue to continue.
"We need to start giving the prefects their duties and planning the Christmas ball..."
With all of the excitement since the start of term with Mr Weasley, Ron and Harry, Hermione had totally abandoned her Head Girl position. She mentally scolded herself for being so forgetful.
"Um, yes, I hadn't forgotten. I've already made some notes about the ball and drafted a rough timetable for the prefects. We'll meet after dinner in McGonagall's old Transfiguration classroom with the prefects to discuss it." She lied, not wanting Malfoy to know she had forgotten.
"Fine, I'll let the prefects know." Malfoy seemed a little disgruntled, provably because Hermione had done, or at least said she had done, all of the work.
Without another word, Hermione left the owlery and headed back to her dorm to do the work she had supposedly already done. The timetable was easy, all the prefects really had to do was patrol the corridors and make sure everyone was back in their house common rooms and dorms by curfew. She also arranged a fortnightly meeting with herself and Malfoy to discuss any issues.
The ball planning was harder. A lot harder. Hermione had never even planned so much as a party before. Her family never made a fuss and would always go out for a quiet meal on birthdays and other special occasions and Hermione's birthday always fell during term time so parties were out of the question.
She thought back to the Yule Ball in fourth year and made a list of everything she thought they would need. Music, decorations, food, drinks, maybe a theme? The list looked pitiful. She couldn't take that to the prefect meeting and dinner was starting now. Panicking, Hermione thought about skipping dinner but she was starving, then inspiration struck.
"Minnie?" She called out and the house elf appeared with a pop!
"Yes Miss Granger?" Minnie squeaked.
"Would it be possible to have my dinner brought here please?" Hermione was angry at herself for using the elf this way but she needed more time and knew she wouldn't be able to sneak a plateful of food out of the busy Great Hall without anyone noticing.
"Absolutely Miss! Minnie will fetch it and be back before you can say 'bearded hipogroffs!'" With a giggle at herself, Minnie disapparated. She had seemed thrilled that Hermione had needed her, this made Hermione feel better about asking.
Minnie returned as quickly as promised with beef stew and roast potatoes and a bowl of ice cream for desert.
"This looks amazing, thanks Minnie." Hermione said with a smile for the elf.
"Minnie is pleased to help. Is there anything else you need Miss Granger?"
"Actually Minnie, there is something. Were you here when we had the Yule Ball?"
"Yes Miss. Minnie has been here for fifteen years. Minnie helped making food and decorations for the ball with some of the other elves."
"Brilliant! Then I really do need your help..."
An hour later Hermione entered Professor McGonagall's old classroom, arms full of notes. She used a quick multiplying charm on the prefects timetable and handed one to everyone as they came in the room.
Thankfully Malfoy arrived last so she didn't have to be in a room alone with him. Only a few changes needed to be made to accommodate quidditch practice and gobstones club but overall the prefects were happy with it. Hermione promised to make the changes and hand out the new copies at breakfast the following morning.
"Right then, I guess you lot can go now then." Malfoy said, speaking for the first time since entering the room.
"But what about the Chr-" Hermione began to remind him about the plans for the ball, refusing to let her work go to waste, but Malfoy interrupted.
"McGonagall wants it to be just the Head Boy and Girl to plan it. She spoke to me at dinner and asked me to pass the message on as you weren't there. The rest of the students haven't been told yet."
The prefects protested and demanded to be told what the pair were talking about, but Hemrmione and Malfoy eventually managed to get them out of the classroom. Hermione placed a silencing charm on the room as Malfoy magically locked the door. Both returned to their seats and Hermione started talking Malfoy through her notes for the Ball.
Two hours later Hermione was back in her bedroom sitting on her bed. She was looking through the revised notes and couldn't help but smile as she thought about the upcoming ball. Draco had had some amazing ideas, years of fancy parties and gatherings planned by his mother for the high society wizards had obviously prepared him for this. They had talked about Hermione's (and Minnie's) ideas and made them better. Then they had allocated jobs to each other, who would contact the bands they wanted to hire, speak to various members of staff and get a team of house elves. Hermione had to admit that she and Draco actually made a good team when it came to planning a party, they had even shared a laugh when Hermione finally confessed she had asked Minnie for help.
Hermione shook her head when she realised how much of her time was now taken up thinking about Draco Malfoy. Just as the thought crossed her mind there was a tap at her dormitory window. It was the school owl, carrying Harry's reply...
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