Chapter 14 : chapter fourteen
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“Sorry, Professor,” I called as the door opened to reveal Dumbledore with a guest. “The door just swung open. I hadn’t meant to interrupt. I’ll just go.”
“Actually, Miss Granger, Professor Snape and I were just finishing up. Why don’t you come in?” At this, Dumbledore nodded his head to Professor Snape as a dismissal. Snape looked like he wanted to protest something, like he had more to say, but merely swept out of the door and descended the stairs. Then Dumbledore turned to me and asked, “Would you care for a Sherbert Lemon?”
I shook my head no, my throat suddenly feeling extremely dry, and I wondered how I was going to go about telling Dumbledore that one of his own students was planning to murder him. “Very well,” he responded, “but I think that I just might have one.” His blackened hand hovered above the candy jar, still deciding if he wanted one or not. Finally his hand plunged into the bowl and grabbed one from the very bottom before popping it into his mouth.
“So, Miss Granger,” he began around the Sherbert Lemon, “what can I do for you?”
“Well, you see, sir,” I started, then cleared my throat and began again. “You see, I’m worried about Draco Malfoy, sir.”
“Ah, young Mister Malfoy. You two seem to have gotten a bit cozy this year, or so Madame Pomfrey has told me.” He looked at me over his half-moon spectacles, with a twinkle present in his eyes.
“Just homework,” I said, though the flush on my face was evidence enough that it was clearly not just homework.
“Ah, yes, just homework,” he winked. “Well don’t worry about Mister Malfoy; he’ll be good as new by the end of the day. Now why don’t you head on your way?”
“But Professor Dumbledore—” I was cut off before I could say anything more.
“Miss Granger, I can assure you that I have everything taken care of.” And at that, he got up out of his chair and walked me to the door. His eyes still held a soft twinkle, but the creases on his face said that there was still much he was worried about.
“Have a good day, Professor,” I said softly and began the descent back down the stairs.
Now what was I to do? The one person I knew who would listen to me, wouldn’t. I was back at the beginning with just myself and a stubborn Malfoy, who couldn’t realize what was good for him. I had nobody else to turn to; Harry and Ron would never understand why I was worried about Draco, and sometimes I had no clue either. There were days when I looked back at what I considered the start of our actual friendship and wondered how we had even gotten there. It was hard to think that just by sitting at the same table with each other, just doing homework and not saying much, could get us to a level of friendship and having a sort of dependence on the others’ presence.
I sighed and headed back to the Gryffindor Common room – there wasn’t much that was going to get done today. Sometimes I really hated the weekends. There was nothing to do; all homework that had been assigned had already gotten done, and there weren’t any classes on the weekend. We were all just left to do as we wished, but what if we weren’t able to do what we wanted? Well, then you were just left to wander the castle aimlessly and watch the passing of each second in a boring daze.
The common room was loud and cluttered when I finally got there, and while the calendar told us it was the beginning of June, the weather outside was just on this side of bone chilling. Every once in a while, I could hear the whistling of the wind above the many conversations and exploding cards, making me glad that I could be hunkered down in front of the fireplace. There hadn’t been any open chairs left in the common room when I walked in, so I settled for the ground in front of the couch and let the warmth of the fire seep through my skin and relax me. I had looked for Harry, Ron, and Ginny among the many people, but I could only find Ron deep into an Exploding Snaps game and didn’t want to interrupt.
I stared at the fire, watching as the flames danced along the logs, letting my thoughts of a certain blonde overtake me. He had been so pale, and so close to death. Was he really as good as new now? Was he really going to be back at dinner tonight? I wasn’t so sure. I felt the overwhelming need to talk to him, to know that he was fine, to just be with him, which was odd. I had never felt this strong need to be with anyone. So why now? Why him?
“Harry, what’s going on?” someone shouted. I turned to look at the commotion and found Ginny rushing after Harry.
“Ron, Ron,” Harry said as he approached Ron at the table a few feet away from where I sat.
“Just a minute, Harry,” Ron began, but when a card exploded on him, he turned to Harry and continued, “never mind. What’s up?”
“Malfoy... he’s excited about something.” Harry looked around. “Where’s Hermione?”
“I’m over here, Harry,” I said, finally standing up from my spot by the fireplace and making my way over to them. “What is this you’re saying about Malfoy?” My heart raced just from the mere mention of his name, and I silently wished for it to still.
“I heard him, or well not me, but he was in the Room of Requirement, and he was excited about something.”
“Well, did you see what he was excited about?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t. I ran into Trelawney outside the room, and she mentioned hearing someone whooping excitedly in there before everything went dark and she was shoved out. But I know it’s Malfoy, it has to be,” he said.
“Harry, Malfoy’s been in the hospital wing all day, there’s no way it was him,” I told him.
“No, Hermione!” Harry shouted. “It was him. Now I’ve got to go meet Professor Dumbledore in his office.”
The three of us were left there, staring after Harry as he stormed out of the common room. I couldn’t understand his infatuation with Draco and what he was doing. Everything that went wrong had been pinned on Draco, and while it turned out that Harry had been right that Draco was behind the poisoned mead and the necklace, I still didn’t believe that Draco was up to anything more. Or was he?
I sighed in frustration; I wasn’t sure what I could believe anymore. Was he really planning to go through with his plans and kill Dumbledore? I’d like to think not, but it seemed lately that maybe I had gotten myself tangled in a web that even Draco couldn’t rip away from. And if that was the case, what were the hopes that he and I would still be able to be friends after this? I knew in my heart that if he killed Dumbledore, I wouldn’t be able to forgive him, and that thought scared me. It wasn’t the thought of Dumbledore dead that sent my head reeling. It was the fact that my heart was already aching at the thought of turning my back on Draco. Of not being able to share witty banter while we studied, or the soft nudges of an accidental contact when we both reached for the same book. I felt my face flush at the thought of his knee brushing against mine, that small almost smile he had on his face when it was just the two of us, the gentle graze of his hand against mine. My hand tingled as my mind wandered away, imagining him here, his hand touching mine, maybe even grasping it.
I looked around at the people surrounding me. What would they think if they knew of my feelings for Draco? Would they remain loyal to me, or would they instead question my loyalty to them? Would they turn up their noses in hatred at him, or would they give him a chance to show his true colors, the ones that only I had seen at that table in the library? And Ron, what would he say? Would he realize that maybe he loved me too?
No, I shouted in my head. I was over him. It didn’t matter what he might say. He had chosen Lavender, and that’s all there was to it. But maybe, just maybe, he would realize what he had given up for her. That wasn’t so wrong to want, was it? To want him to see that maybe he should have chosen me – that maybe I would have been the better choice than the gossip mill of the school? But he had chosen beauty over brains, lust over love. He had made the wrong choice, and now it was time for him to realize what everyone else could already see. Without Quidditch – something that I helped him get, even though he didn’t know it — Lavender Brown would have never batted an eye at him.
“Hermione,” Ginny nudged me lightly, “you’re awfully quiet.”
“Just thinking about Prince. I mean, what if he was actually a girl?” I asked.
“But then why would they call themselves The Half-Blood Prince?” Ron
asked from the chair above me.
“Well, I was thinking, it could be a name. You know, like someone’s last name. I found this in the library,” I said as I handed him a scrape of an old newspaper clipping.
“Eileen Prince, I’ve never heard of her,” he said, passing the tattered article to Ginny.
“Me neither,” she said, staring at the picture. “But I just— I’m with Harry on this one, I really think that the Half-Blood Prince is really a guy. I think that her last name is just a coincidence.”
“And how much snogging did you have to do before you began to agree with him?” I teased her, causing her face to flush a brilliant shade of red.
“I didn’t have to do any snogging to see where he is coming from. It just makes sense.”
We all sat there after that, just drinking in each other’s presence; the only sounds to be heard between us were the soft crackling of the fire and harsh whistling of the wind. There was nothing left to do to fill my day, and the time seemed to stretch between us. I wanted to do something; just sitting here with nothing to say or do was beginning to grate on my nerves, and I feared if I didn’t do something soon, I would probably end up doing something I would regret. With a glance at Ron, I knew that something would involve him and the maybes that had been filling my head only moments ago. But before I could say anything to Ron and put into words all the thoughts swirling through my brain, Harry suddenly came rushing through the door and approached us.
“I need you to do me a favor," Harry said. "Dumbledore thinks I’m just up here grabbing my invisibility cloak. He thinks he has tracked down one of the Horcruxes and is allowing me to go with him, but I need you guys to promise me that you will keep an eye on Malfoy and Snape. They’re up to something, I know it.” I went to protest but Harry shot me a look that clearly said he didn’t have any time for my thoughts on Draco. “Hermione, you still have those coins we used for Dumbledore’s Army, right?” I nodded my head and he continued, “Get ahold of whoever you can. We’re going to need everyone on alert tonight.”
“Alright, Harry,” I said, “just be careful. Who knows what you will be facing tonight. Maybe there won’t even be a Horcrux and it will be a fast trip, but just be safe.”
We all gave Harry a quick hug before he ran upstairs to grab his cloak and his map to give to Ron and me, and then left to meet up with Dumbledore. I hoped that he was wrong, that Dumbledore’s Army wouldn’t need to be called, but even I could feel the pull of something dark coming near.Outside, rain poured down, mirroring our thoughts; it laced the day with a poisoned atmosphere, and the feelings of doom were that much closer.
AN: Thanks everyone for sticking with this story so far, it really means a lot to me! I would love to hear what you thought of this chapter, so please leave a review! They really do make my day! Huge thanks to A_Wiz for being my awesome new beta for this story! Also the conversation between Ron, Hermione, and Ginny about who the Half-Blood Prince was inspired by the actual conversation they held in the book which does include Hermione having a clip of who Eileen Prince is, so credit for that does go to J. K. Rowling and not me!
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by Ben Hallport