Chapter 4 : Chapter Four
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“Oh, Harry. I was sure you were going to miss breakfast. I grabbed your timetable when they were being handed out,” Hermione said, handing him his schedule, before passing the fruit to him. “We have transfiguration first and potions with Slytherin right before lunch, but that’s the only class we have together.”
Harry studied his time table, intrigued by the new changes in the classes. So many classes. So much homework. Bloody hell.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts: Real World Applications, Potions with Slytherin, Charms, Pre-Auror Training: History of Aurors, Pre-Auror Training: Stealth and Tracking.
Tuesday and Thursday: Transfiguration, Muggle Studies: Muggle Law Enforcement, Potions with Slytherin, Herbology, Pre-Auror Training: Concealment and Disguise, Pre-Auror Training: Hand to Hand Combat.
“This is intense!” Harry exclaimed, surprised by heavy study load. “Why do we only have those two classes together?”
“Harry did you honestly not pay attention at all?” Hermione sighed, rolling her eyes overdramatically. “The majority of classes for sixth and seventh years are now based on skill level in order to better teach us.”
“Hey! Why do you and Harry have less Muggle Studies classes?”
Harry laughed as Ron pouted, reading over Hermione’s shoulder.
“Merlin, you two – pay attention! Harry and I grew up with Muggles, we know how to fit in and more about their world, and therefore our classes are tailored to Muggle Studies about our intended careers. In case either of you care, years one through five have more intensive Muggle Studies programs than years six and seven.”
And why would we care? Harry shared a look with Ron as Hermione continued preaching to them about changes in the class structure. Harry reached for a breakfast pastry, but suddenly became distracted when Draco entered the hall and joined his house’s table. He hadn’t seen the blonde since their fight last Thursday night. Obviously Draco had been avoiding him as much as Harry had been avoiding Draco the last week otherwise their paths would have crossed at least once. Harry stared at him intently, waiting for some sign, a glance or anything, that they were okay but the other boy never look in his direction – not even once. Just look at me. Draco dropped down between Pansy and Blaise, popping a grape in his mouth.
Harry’s head snapped up at Ron’s obnoxiousness, only to see Ron and Hermione standing a few feet from the table, clearly waiting for Harry to join them. Harry grabbed another pastry, before following them out of the hall and toward the Transfiguration classroom. These apple pastries are unbelievable. I wonder if Kretcher could make these?
A few hours later, Harry trudged downstairs to the dungeons, trying not to reminisce over his many memories of these dungeons and Snape. It was hard, harder than he thought it’d be. That seems to be the recurring theme of being back. Everywhere he looked the slime covered walls forcibly reminded him of learning to block his mind and his continued failings at that – and everybody that had been hurt because of that. I’m so sorry, Sirius. I should have listened.
“Harry, are you okay?”’
“Dammit, Hermione!” Harry practically jumped into a wall when he friend spoke from beside him. “Don’t sneak up on me!”
“Sorry, sorry!” She laughed, shrugging awkwardly. “But…?”
“Just – memories. Snape and all that.”
Hermione nodded, understanding flashing across her face. The entered the classroom in silence and joined Ron near the front of the room. Harry stared at the board, lost in his own thought.
“Ronald, have you ever cleaned this cauldron? Absolutely disgusting-”
The air changed and Harry knew Draco had walked in. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself. What’s going to happen?
“Hey,” Draco whispered it so softly that if Harry hadn’t been waiting for a sign, he would have missed it.
Harry struggled not to smile in response as he pretended to be listening to Hermione’s lecture on proper cauldron cleaning techniques as they waited for the professor to join them. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Draco join Pansy and Blaise at the table directly across the aisle from him. Just great. How can I concentrate with him there?
Harry was about to turn to the group and congratulate Pansy on the awesome party when the dungeon door was thrown open and a rather imposing man strode through. He was tall – Exceedingly tall – with thick, wavy black hair and tawny skin. He didn’t look, or dress, like any professor Harry had had before. Instead of the usual wizard robes, he wore slim fitting navy trousers with a white oxford shirt tucked in, showing a detailed dark brown leather belt. Harry felt himself studying his walk and forced his eyes away. He felt his face grow warmer and looked around the room, trying to distract himself, only to meet the laughing eyes of a smirking Draco. Harry shook his head as Draco raised an amused eyebrow. Like you don’t think he’s attractive, too.
“Hello class,” His voice was deep and reverberating, with a strong accent Harry didn’t recognize. “I’m your new potions master, Professor Yadier Barrocas. This will be an extremely advanced class. Please be aware that I am willing to work with any students that need tutoring.” Harry ignored Draco’s ludicrously pointed glance and eyebrow waggle. “Before we begin, are there any questions?”
“Oh, I have one,” Pansy stood up and Harry noted that she wasn’t correctly wearing her uniform once again. Today she had the skirt shrunk dangerously short, ripped black tights, thick soled motorcycle boots, and a white tee shit. She was the only person Harry knew that could wear her tie as a belt and pull it off. “Exactly where are you from? Your accent is divine…”
The class laughed at her predatory tone, but Professor Barrocas ignored it, “I am originally from Cuba, Ms. Parkinson.”
“How do you know my name, professor?” Harry grinned at the comical way she batted her eyelashes.
“I’m aware of the names of all my students. Any other questions?”
Pansy slid slowly into her seat, as Hermione spoke up, “Why is there not an assigned text book, Professor?”
He waved his wand over his shoulder and a potion recipe appeared on the bored, “I will be teaching extensively from my predecessor’s notes. He made many adaptations to potions over the years that the Ministry, Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers, and multiple esteemed potions masters have now accepted and are using to produce higher quality potions.”
Hermione nodded thoughtfully and Harry knew she was remembering the potions book that had once belonged to Snape and had helped Harry wow in potions class.
“If there are no more questions?” When nobody spoke up, the professor instructed them to begin on the potion. “When you are done bottle up a sample, label it, and deposit it on shelves by the door.”
Harry pushed thoughts of Draco and Snape to the back of his head and spent the class bent over his cauldron, intent on producing a decent potion. When Barrocas called time, Harry was pleased with his potion.
“Perfectly peach,” Hermione said smugly as she held up her vial to the light. “Oh, Harry! Yours is, too. You’ve improved so much!” Hermione smiled up at him, clearly delighted.
“Didn’t Golden Boy tell you?” Blaise drawled, leaning against the desk near Hermione. “He’s been practicing over the last year.” Hermione stared at him blankly, so he elaborated, “The Slytherin Prince helped…”
“What?” Ron asked stupidly as recognition dawned on Hermione’s face.
“Clearly Weasley, you could use some practice,” Blaise said with a derisive glance at Ron’s decidedly pink potion before sauntering off to deposit his potion on a shelf.
“He’s in all my classes, Pans. Well, all but the first two.” Draco and Pansy were in the astronomy tower the next night, drinking red wine and eating chocolates Pansy brought back from Italy.
She took a long sip before responding, “This friends thing? It’s hard, yea?”
“Hard doesn’t begin to cover it.”
“Who ended it?”
Draco laughed bitterly, “According to him, there was nothing to end because we were never really anything to begin with.”
Pansy set her wine glass down before wrapping her arms around Draco, “If there was never anything to begin with, he wouldn’t look at you the way he does when he thinks you aren’t looking.”
They sat like that, Pansy wrapped around Draco as silent tears streaked down his face, until the first rays of sunlight started peeking over the horizon.
The first week of classes had been brutal and Hermione was thankful that it was over. Well, that was until she opened her agenda Friday night only to discover the staggering amount of work she had to accomplish over the weekend. Six feet for Potions, six feet for Muggle Studies: The Road Between, four new spells to master for transfiguration plus eight feet on their respective uses…the list went on and on. That, combined with meeting with Draco on Saturday to plan out their first Hogsmead trip, she was certain she would have zero time for fun this weekend. It’s truly a miracle I stayed top of our class in the past with everything that was going on. It did help that the professors in the previous years had been just as distracted as me . . . This year was going to be a challenge.
Gathering her books, parchment, and quills, she staggered down to the library and found an empty table in the very back, far away from any other study group. She’d asked Harry and Ron if they’d wanted to join her, but Ron was busy participating in a wizard chess tournament in the common room and Harry was cheering him on. They both swore they would start on their assignments in the morning, but Hermione knew they’d be lucky to start working before midnight on Saturday.
Sitting her things down, Hermione went off to search the stacks for books relating to Somnia Deorum or Dreams of Gods. This potion, when administered in small doses, gave the drinker a lifelike dream of their deepest desire; when taken too liberally, it would cause the drinker to slip into a coma like state for an unknown period of time. Nobody knew if those in the comas experienced fantastical dreams or not, as they awoke with no memory. It was an extremely difficult potion to make, but Barrocas said they would begin mixing it Monday. Walking toward her table, books relating to the potion piled high in her arms, and collided with something very solid. The books toppled to the ground and she cursed softly under her breath.
“Hermione Granger, that mouth!”
Hermione looked up into the bright grey eyes of Draco Malfoy, his lips curled into a small, teasing smile. Unable to stop herself, she blushed fiercely. She’d seen quite a lot of Draco over the week as they had several classes together. She hadn’t been able to stop herself from becoming fascinated with the boy – from his obvious friendship with Harry that they didn’t seem to care if people knew about to his quiet intelligence in all of their classes, she was becoming more and more flustered with the Slytherin. It didn’t help that he was being friendly and not at all like the Malfoy she remembered from school. He says that wasn’t really him though. . .
She realized she was staring intently up at the boy and that his smile had turned into a smirk, “Thinking about my mouth, Granger?”
Well, I wasn’t. But now that you mention it…it is rather-Shaking her head violently, she rolled her eyes at him, her thoughts, and the fact she was even in this situation.
“I’m merely trying to figure out why you’d knock my books out of my hand and not move to pick them up,” She said very matter of fact. Twitching her wand, the books stacked themselves and floated in the air beside her, “But, seeing as you aren’t exactly the gentlemen you claim to be, I shouldn’t be too surprised.”
It was her turn to smirk at him, but he merely peered down at her, not affronted in the slightest, “Oh, Hermione, there are plenty of things I can do that would surprise you...”
He trailed off, winking down at her. Hermione rolled her eyes and continued back to her table, the books following along behind her. To her dismay, she heard Draco’s footsteps following her. Reaching her table, she began to spread out the books. Draco sat down across from her. She felt him watching her as she sorted the books into levels of importance.
Draco sat in silence as she sorted books into different piles. He smiled softly; Harry did the same thing when he actually bothered to use books. Must be where he learned it from.
“Did you really help Harry study potions?”
Draco paused before answering; she seemed genuinely curious, “Among other things.”
“You must be very good. Harry rarely gets a potion correct.”
Draco couldn’t help it, he laughed loudly. Realizing he was still in the library, he clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle the noise “That’s an understatement. He almost burnt down my apartment during his first lesson. But, he’s improved greatly.”
Draco pretended like he hadn’t the faintest idea what she was asking, “He added too much boomslang skin, stirred the wrong direction, and overheated the mixture.”
She sighed, like he should know what she was asking. But she didn’t respond, she simply met his gaze.
“He needed to get good marks in Potions in order to do well in Auror training. You know he hates preferential treatment; he wanted to be able to get in based on merit.”
“Why do you care, Malfoy?”
He raised an eyebrow; her tone was very demeaning, “Because, Granger, despite what you think of me, I care about my friends and Potter is a friend.”
While she mused on that, Draco pulled his potions essay out of his bag and began working on it. Somnia Deorum had always fascinated him – something that would let you dream your wildest dream in vivid color was amazing. Draco wondered what the potion would show him. He thought he knew, but one could never be too sure.
“How long have you two been friends?”
“Sixth year? I stayed with the order a bit after I left school when Voldemort thought I was on missions. Though I wouldn’t call it friendship in the beginning, more like lessened animosity – I guess we became friends the day of the Hogwarts Battle. The burning room, the aftermath – it was a lot.”
Hermione nodded thoughtfully and returned to her studying. They sat there in silence, both studiously working on their potions, for hours until Hermione looked up, “Proof-read mine? Usually Harry does it but I know he won’t be ready with his until Sunday afternoon.”
“At the earliest,” Draco smiled.
“I still cannot get over how attractive our potions master is,” Ginny sighed Sunday at breakfast.
Hermione glanced up at the dais, “Isn’t he, though? That accent is to die for. I bet he speaks Spanish.”
Ginny sighed, “Oh. Oh! Yes!”
Hermione laughed, “Gin! You sound-”
“You sound inappropriate Ginny,” Ron cut in, sitting down across from the two of them. “I’d really appreciate it if you’d try and -”
“Oh, cut it with the big brother act already!” Ginny rolled her eyes and pushed up from the table.
Hermione watched as Ginny, without a glance back to them, bounced over to the Hufflepuff table. Hermione sighed; Ron was probably making it worse than it had to be for Ginny. She just wanted to be her own person. Don’t we all?
“Where’s she going?” Ron mumbled around a large hunk of sausage.
Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes – I’ve been doing that too much lately – at Ron’s unsurprisingly disgusting behavior. Thankfully Harry joined them, dropping onto the bench next to Hermione, providing a distraction.
“Merlin, mate!” Ron exclaimed, spewing pumpkin juice onto his plate.
“I think what Ron is trying to say,” Hermione shot a disturbed look in his direction. “Is that you look utterly exhausted. Did you sleep any last night?”
Harry dumped porridge in his bowl and topped it with various berries, “I was up all night, you know, working on all of our homework. There is so much!”
Hermione wasn’t sure she bought his story; she couldn’t miss the way his hand drifted toward whatever was hanging on the chain around his neck. He’d been toying with that chain for many months. Hermione once asked him about it, one night when neither of them could sleep and they stayed up drinking wine and talking, and he’d just smiled sadly and changed the subject. She knew it wasn’t from Gin, she thought it was weird when guys wore jewelry. Maybe it was given to him by the girl Ginny was certain he had been seeing since the war ended. Or, more than likely, it was something that belonged to Sirius or James, like the piece of mirror Harry had framed and put on the living room mantle at Number 12 or James’ old broomstick they’d found in the attic that Harry had cleaned and put in the library. Yes, that’s probably it.
“Hmmm?” Hermione realized that Harry had kept taking to her.
He stared at her, “I was the one that didn’t sleep – wake up, Hermione. I asked if you could proof my papers.”
She nodded and took the clump of hastily rolled parchments from Harry. She started to spoon fruit on her plate, but stopped in agitation when Ron once again spewed half chewed food all around him. Wrapping a few pieces of toast in a napkin, Hermione bid the two goodbye and headed to the lake.
Watching Hermione leave the Gryffindor table, Draco was once again struck by how pretty the confident witch was as she strode out of the hall. He liked seeing her outside of her school uniform. Unlike Pansy, she didn’t favor slim fitting black clothes, but rather embraced colors - today she wore jeans shorts and a purple shirt.
I bet purple looks great with her eyes. The thought made him smile. He quickly dropped the smile when Pansy slid into view, smirking at him in a knowing way.
“Oh, Draco,” She sounded so gleeful, it made him nervous. “You like them both!”
Blaise looked up from his meat pie, “Both of whom?”
Draco’s cheeks flared red, as he glared at Pansy. Leave it to her to be that perceptive.
“Hey, Pans,” He managed to sputter, “How about you and I discuss this elsewhere, okay?”
“Oh, no!” Blaise tossed down his fork, “I’ve been kept in the dark long enough!”
“Oh, but I agree with Mr. Sexually Frustrated over there,” Pansy giggled. “We should discuss this in private.”
Draco nodded and left the table, followed closely by his two friends. He shrugged when he met Harry’s questioning eyes, knowing that Pansy had to look like that cat that caught the canary while Blaise simply looked confused. He led them up to the astronomy tower. The tower never failed to fill him full of regret, awe, and thankfulness. It was here that as a small, terrified twelve year old that he had decided to defy his father in order to help the pretty, smart girl. Here he changed the course of his life for the better, leaving the darkness of the Malfoy family behind to embrace the light. Here he had first kissed the man that tormented his thoughts and here he came to bask in the awe-inspiring power of the constellations. And here he would tell his friends the truth.
Pansy charmed a couple of chairs into large floor cushions and they sat down, staring at him intently. Unsure of where to start, Draco walked around awkwardly.
Finally, he began to speak, “Blaise, I’m bisexual.”
The loud guffaw that burst forth from the tan man was unsettling. Even Pansy looked shocked, and that took a lot.
“Mate, I thought you were brining me up here to tell me something I didn’t already know!”
Draco turned to smile softly at his friend; leave it to him to have figured it out but not care enough about it to treat him any differently, “Yeah?”
Blaise solemnly nodded, “It never mattered to me. Who you’re attracted to doesn’t change our friendship – it doesn’t change anything between us.”
“But waaaiiiiiitttttttt,” Pansy sang loudly, throwing her arms out wide. “There’s more!”
“Right, um,” Draco went back to walking around. “So, Potter?”
“Golden Boy? Oh, hell, man. Is that why you were teaching him potions in your flat? And here I believed your rubbish line!”
“That’s not all he taught him!”
“Pans, you are enjoying this way too much.”
She laughed, tossing a leaf at Draco, “You know it, babe!”
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