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Chapter 10 : Flying Together
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“Morning to you, too.” Hermione murmered as she headed to the kitchen to make herself some tea. “Yeah, it took me a little while to fall asleep but I’ll be fine once I wake up a little more.” She told him. She didn’t know exactly why she had been unable to sleep, it had just been one of those nights she guessed.
“I didn’t ask you if you were going to be fine or not-” Draco began but cut himself short after receiving a glare from Hermione. “Good to hear.” He said instead.
Draco could her the clanging of cups as Hermione started to make herself something to drink. She wasn’t answering him and soon Draco became aggravated that the conversation was already over. He wanted to keep talking to her although he couldn’t really say why except for the pang in his chest that urged him to continue conversation.
“And where were you last night, anyway? I never saw you return to your dorm and I didn’t go up to my room until nine.”
“Oh,” Hermione began slowly, trying to remember last night through her grogginess. “I left Blaises, went to the library...” Hermione paused, trying to remember where she had gone after the library.
He tried to wait for her to finish her sentence but felt impatient. He knew she was tired but she had to know where she was last night, unless she was trying to hide it from him. “You actually spent all afternoon and evening with your nose stuck in a book?”
“I wasn’t finished!” Hermione argued. “And then on my way back here... Oh, what did I do? Right! I ran into John Barman. You remember the man on that boat?” She asked, honestly trying to jog his memory but only infuriating Draco further. “Well, he walked me around a bit and we talked and then I came back here. I think it was about nine so I guess we just missed eachother.”
Draco didn’t try to hide his annoyance and turned to look at her from where he sat on the chesterfield, the paper opened on his lap. “John Barman? You’re engaged for a week and already flirting with other men.” He tsked.
“We weren’t flirting-”
“You were what, then? Having an intellectual conversation?”
“Well, yes, actually we were!” Hermione huffed, taking a sip of her newly made tea, and deciding to stay standing in the kitchen and not join Malfoy.
“Hermione you can’t flirt with other men or this... I don’t even know what to call it, but anyway, it won’t work!” He said, waving his arm to show an invisible connection between him and her.
“We weren’t flirting! Now I’m allowed to talk to other men, aren’t I?”
“Well, yes of course-”
“Thank you for giving me that privilege, then.” Hermione spat. She couldn’t figure out why he was acting so oddly since all she had done was spent the evening talking to another man. And honestly she was glad because it had felt like a million years since she had last met a guy interested in non-fiction books as much as she was.
He didn’t answer and instead sat back down and began to read the Daily Prophet, leaving Hermione to drink her tea in silence, which she did and promptly made her way to the portrait afterwards, wondering to herself if she had ever met a person she fought with more than Draco Malfoy.
Her heels clicked against the wood flooring as she made her way across it. Draco felt an itch in his fingers to stop her. She couldn’t walk out. This couldn’t happen again, it always happens. They talk, fight, make up, talk, fight, make up, and he didn’t want that anymore, but was still surprised with himself when he jumped to his feet and darted to the portrait.
“Granger, wait-” A hand grabbed her by her forearm just before she reached the exit. She looked down at it, her eyes following the arm up to the man’s face. Quickly he let go and stood awkwardly beside her. “Let’s stop fighting all the time.”
Hermione’s arm felt strange where his hand had been and she was taken aback. Finally she answered. “I believe with us that’s easier said than done.”
Draco opened his mouth to speak, waited, closed it and then shrugged “Well we could try, right?" He waited a moment, but without reply. Both of them were looking at eachother in confusion. She didn’t know what he was doing, and frankly neither did he. “Apparently we’re not going to Hogsmeade right away. Something else is planned.” He changed the subject.
“Oh,” Hermione forced herself to look away from his face in order to stop herself from staring. It was an awfully close proximity. The distance between them was probably that of her wand and he seemed not to notice. “I’ll go find out what it is.”
“I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
Stumbling out of the portrait and onto the stairs Hermione pushed her hair behind her ear and took a deep breath. She had been previously too nervous to breathe and now took the chance to calm herself as she made long strides down to the main floor. Draco had apologized. Well, sort of. It wasn’t that big of a deal. Hermione thought as she ran down the stairs. No, it was definitely a big deal.
“Hermione Granger!” A sharp, elderly voice called out once Hermione had escaped the indoors, and let the cool afternoon air flood her senses.
She turned her head, and smiled. “Good morning, McGonagall.”
“You mean afternoon,” The old professor said with a tight frown. “Anyway, I was hoping one of the students would come outside and help me set up the afternoons activites.”
Hermione looked passed her old professor where she could see that the lady had magically transported stone benches and other such things out of the courtyard, to goodness knows where. Also it had been cleaned up and cleared so that it had room to hold everyone that was going to be present.
“Actually I guess that’s all there is to do.” McGonagall said, turning to look at Hermione with a smile.
“Oh,” Hermione answered slowly. “So what is it that we are going to be doing today, exactly?”
“Games.” The professor replied in her usual short, snippity tone. “There is going to be a three legged race, an egg race, a broom race and some other games the staff and I decided upon.”
“A three legged race and an egg race? But, McGonagall, those are muggle games.”
“Well, yes they are. But only the muggle borns will know that, and it will be something new to the rest of those present.” McGonagall said, raising her wand again and flicking it to the right, to the left and then swishing it back to the right in a summoning spell. “Now, Hermione tell me, how do you think the reunion is going so far?”
“Going? Uh, fine, Ms McGonagall. Well, I mean good. It’s going good.” A blush crept up her cheeks and Hermione pinched her hand in annoyance. Why was she being such a school girl? Stuttering, getting confused over a boy, nervous around a teacher. She needed to get a grip on herself.
McGonagal furrowed her eyebrows. “Well spit it out, then. What’s wrong?”
“Yes, wrong.” McGonagall said snippitily. “Is Professor Sprout secretly an elf, Mr Weasley and Mr Potter stuck in a room under the Whomping Willow or is there a snake growing beneath the girls room?”
Hermione’s eyes flitted heavenwards as she thought about what the woman across from her was reminding her of. She had just parted her lips to reply that thankfully it was none of those, when a large group of people flooded through the two large, metal doors to outside.
“So what have you got planned for today?” She could hear Seamuses voice from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.
A smile formed on McGonagalls lips as she replied and informed the students what she had Hermione. Excited murmers broke out as soon as she was done and McGonnagall looked especially pleased with herself that everything was going accordingly.
Before Hermione knew it people were going into pairs to start the afternoon off with a three legged race. Madam Hooch got the finish line set up with a swish of her wand, and Hermione’s eyes looked through faces for someone she could ask. Anyone. Like Draco. Or Harry or Ron or Ginny.
“Oh!” Hermione jumped as a hand grabbed her elbow. It was a large hand and immediately her heart quickened as she felt Malfoys hand drop, his finges sliding against her skin. “Draco, I didn’t know this was your sort of thing.” Hermione said cooly, forcing down a smile.
“Uh, well it’s my sort of thing.” A different voice came from behind her. Hermione whirled around only to find herself face to face with John Barman. He was biting his lip shyly and raking his hand through his hair nervously. “I’m not Mr. Malfoy, but if I could have the pleasure of being your partner I would greatly appreciate it.”
“Oh, yes of course. I would love to be your partner.” Hermione told him, smiling and nodding.
“Well then we should probably get up there,” he told her as he nodded toward where the couples were lining up. It was obvious how relieved he was that Hermione had accepted to be his partner, even if he was not her fiance.
“Yes, we probably should.” Hermione agreed, letting John lead her towards the horizontal line made up of other couples ready to try their hand(s), or rather feet, at a three legged race.
McGonagall cleared her throat, and Hermione listened as she began to speak. “So is that everyone then?” She asked the crowd. Nobody said otherwise so McGonagall continued, “Then may the games begin! Good luck to everyone.”
Suddenly Hermione felt a rope tie itself around her leg, honestly a bit too tightly, and she found herself hip bone to hip bone with John. It was rather cozy and she couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable being that close to a man she barely knew.
“On your marks,”
Hermione felt John put his arm around her shoulders and she involuntarily shivered, although not in the good way. Draco probably had his eyes glued to them.
She was not sure if it was the best idea but Hermione decided to forget about Draco just for a minute and put her arm around Johns waist. If they balanced eachother out they had a better chance of winning.
John and Hermione immediately flung themselves forward on their unattached feet and watched as the couples on either side of them did the same. Although, Neville and Hannah Abbott were to their right, next to Hermione, and they fell down on the first step. Hermione felt a pang of sympathy but it disappeared when she heard the two of them laughing behind her.
John pushed Hermione forward slightly with the hand on her back, keeping them at the same pace. The other pairs either fell back or rushed ahead of them and Hermione found herself falling against John, laughing.
“Almost there now.” John said. Hermione, although not sure why, only giggled in response, and, as if contagious, John started laughing as well until the two of them fell behind two other teams due to the humour of it.
“A few more steps,” John said once the laughter had died down. The finish line was right ahead of them and Hermione looked to John, and him to her. They ran just a little further before throwing themselves down on the ground in a fit of giggles. His arm still was around her waist and hers around his shoulder when the rope at their feet magically disintegrated.
John lifted himself to his feet, Hermione still on the ground with her curls spread like a mane around her face, watching him as he counted the other couples to see where they placed.
“Came in fourth by the looks of it.” He told her. Hermione only smiled, still shaking with the aftermath of the laughter. John cracked a smile, too, as if it was all some big joke, and outstretched his hand to help her up. She took it and with one pull she was on her feet again.
“Thank you for running the three legged race with me, Ms. Granger.” He said, dipping down and taking her hand.
“The pleasure is all mine,” She returned.
John held her eye contact even after she had finished speaking, so Hermione averted her eyes, feeling awkward. “Hermione,” He then started. She looked back up. “I was wondering if you may like to spend the rest of the afternoon with me. Do the other partner activities?”
“Oh no, I can’t. Actually, I should probably go find Draco right about now.” She told him, her face now rather sober although her voice still sweet. A part of her felt angry with Draco as her eyes took in the tall, broad, black haired man in front of her who was actually talking to her for her and not because it’s something he must do.
“Oh, yes of course.” John said with a weak smile. “It’s funny but I always forget your engaged.”
Hermione widened her eyes slightly. “O-oh yeah, yes I would see why. I mean, it was only released to the public a short time ago, I mean...” She trailed off as she became concious of the fact John seemed to be very slowly and very cautiously moving closer towards her. “Well, uh, goodbye then John. Until next time.” Hermione awkwardly stepped away from him and began to speed walk to where she could make out a dark haired girl in a bright, rather showy dress whom she knew would be Pansy.
Sure enough it was Pansy, and thankfully for Hermione she was standing with Blaise and Draco and, being the Slytherins that they are, they were in a small huddle away from everyone else.
“Darling,” Pansy immediately began once Hermione was within ear shot. “That new defense against the dark arts teacher was nearly at your feet! With a nose like that, how ever did you resist?”
“I wouldn’t call that resisting!” Draco piped up. “Hermione, you practically just cheated on me in front of everyone. What were you thinking?”
Hermione, now very thankful they were out of earshot from the rest of their graduating class, said, “Well, he asked me to be his partner for the three legged race and I couldn’t very well say no, now could I?”
From the corner of her eye she could see Blaise nod understandingly, but Draco apparently did not feel the same. “Yes you could, of course you could tell him no.” He said sternly.
“Now, now, don’t be a bore, Draco.” Pansy told him calmingly. “She was just having some fun. A girl’s allowed to have some fun now and then. And besides nothing even actually happened between them. They just did a simple three legged race. That’s it.”
“It’s done now.” He answered tightly before turning to Hermione and looking her straight in the eyes. “But watch out for Barman. It’s for your own good.”
“I agree he shouldn’t be flirting with an engaged woman, but cut the girl some slack, Draco, she’s been single ever since she dumped ginger however many years ago, I think she is allowed to at least talk to a prospective-”
“Now that we are all done the three legged race, I would like to announce the couples broom race to the right, and the egg race, here, to my left!” McGonagall announced, with her wand to her throat.
A hand grabbed Hermione’s, and she looked to where Draco stood looking just behind her head. “He’s watching us.” He explained.
“Anywho, Panz and I are going to go do the egg race, so we’ll catch you two later.” Blaise threw in lightly. He did a little salute before Pansy and him walked off to McGonagalls left. Once they were gone Draco looked back to Hermione.
“Do you want to do the couples broom race?”
Hermione let go of his hand. “I would, but I can’t fly.”
“You’re friends with Harry and Ginny Potter and you can’t even fly?” He asked in what seemed to be disbelief. He expected her to argue, but instead Hermione looked at her feet, abashed. She had never thought of it like that before.
“Don’t worry, I’ll sit in front then.”
“No, I really don’t think that’s a good idea-”
But he only laughed as he grabbed her hand again and pulled her towards where the race was being put together, despite her prostests.
“This is bad, I can’t fly! I am unable to fly. I can’t. Let go, I can’t do this!” She continued to say right up until he had her standing beside him in line, in his hand a broom.
“Yes you can.”
“No, no I really can’t.”
“Trust me, okay?” The corner of his mouth raised slightly when he said it and for a second Hermione was excited to go flying with him. But again, that was only for a second.
Draco put his hand on her back and pushed her closer to the broom. To her right was Luna and Harry, mounting their own broom; and to their right stood Ginny and Ron. Hermione could not help but laugh when she realized Ginny and Harry must have been seperated in order to make the race a fair one.
Draco swung his leg over the broom handle in order to mount, and Hermione could feel herself tremble slightly when she realized it was now her turn. She made sure to watch him precisely as he sat down and made the vehicle hover just above the ground. She gulped as she stepped forward and slowly placed one leg over the broom, sitting down and feeling that the seat was rather too small to be safe.
“On your marks!” She could hear McGonagall yell.
“Hold on.” Draco told her, before facing straight ahead. Hermione looked down. Hold on to what? She placed her hands gingerly on his waist. She didn’t like this. This needed to stop.
Was that right? Were her hands supposed to be there, or was Draco just to embarressed to tell her to let go of him? But what else was there to hold?
Suddenly Hermione felt her hands fly from Draco’s hips as they shot into the air at what felt like the speed of light. Hermione, in sheer panic, threw herself against him, her hands reaching under his arms and grabbing onto his chest, her eyes squeezed shut, and her face burried in his back.
She could feel him chuckle and the air around them stop moving, so she slowly opened her eyes. Sure enough they were completely stopped, the other couples zooming ahead.
“What? Why did you stop?” Hermione asked him, actually surprised and feeling rather out of sorts due to being suspended in the air.
“Come on Granger, you were scared out of your mind, so I decided to slow things down to get you more comfortable.”
“But we’ll lose! We’ve lost!” She exclaimed, still not unwrapping herself from his torso.
He chuckeld again. “Winning complex, eh?”
“No...” Hermione began. “But if I wasn’t slowing you down, you could have won.”
“I don’t mind if you don’t.”
“I don’t mind.”
She closed her eyes again when he picked up speed, although he went slowly and stayed far behind everyone else. Her eyes only re-opened once she felt them land, and the broom slide out from beneath her. Her legs were wobbly and she let go of Draco and put her hands on her legs in order to stop them from shaking. She looked over to where Ginny and Ron were hugging and grinning, obviously after winning the race.
“Good race,” She heared Draco from beside her and instinctively she threw her arms around him in a hug, which he didn't at first return. “You know we lost, right?”
“I honestly couldn’t care less.” She beamed as once again she let go of him. He smiled, and for the first time Hermione noticed how nice it looked when he did.
“Now that all of the activites everyone can go to Hogsmeade or stay around the castle before evening!” It took Hermione a moment to process what McGonagall had just said, and guessed due to Draco going slowly they had been in the air just long enough not only to lose, but also to miss everything else.
Hermione looked to where Draco had just been, and was now walking away from.
“Where do you think you’re going?” She called to his retreating figure.
“To the castle. I’d thought I’d let you free to go spend time with your friends.” He answered, sounding rather surprised. His outline was highlighted by the afternoon sun and his blonde hair shone almost gold in the light.
“I thought we would go to Hogsmeade together? We are engaged after all.”
She wasn’t sure if he had smiled when she said that or if it was a trick of the light, but she knew she wasn’t mistaken when she heard him yell to her, “Hurry up then, Granger!”. He waited for her to jog up to where he stood, as the other students began to part ways and either start heading in the direction of Hogsmeade or the large, metal front doors. Once she reached him she looked up at him, although she needed to squint due to the sunlight. Then, without any words between them, they began to walk across the field, their footsteps falling in time and their hearts without a care in the world.
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