Chapter 6 : Chapter Six
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Ron threw a quill at Harry and he ducked, causing the quill to bounce off the back of the couch. Harry responded by flicking over his stack of books, piling Ron under them.
“Honestly,” Draco complained, “I don’t even know where to start!”
Hermione couldn’t help it; she sighed, “Maybe if the four of you would stop joking around for longer than six seconds then you would not only know where to start, but how to finish. It is a wonder your marks are so high.”
She stared hard at them, but it only caused Blaise and Draco to smirk – ridiculous Slytherin trait if I ever saw one – and Ron and Harry to laugh openly at her. Flinging her hands up in frustration, Hermione struggled to ignore them and focus on her work. If they won’t take it seriously, then I simply won’t help. She knew she was being petty, but she couldn’t help it. It was more than annoying that they would ask for her help and then mock or ignore her. Her internal monologue of annoyance was broken when Neville and Dean joined them.
“Please tell me this is a potion study group, because I, for one, could use all the help Hermione can give,” Neville smiled, pulling out his parchment and books.
“Finally,” Hermione grinned, “a willing participant.”
The next few hours passed quickly as they worked on their various assignments, until finally Ron pushed up from where he was sitting, leaning up against the couch, “Starving! Positively starving!”
Harry shot Hermione a look and they both grinned. Of course you are.
“I find that is all I hear you say,” Pansy’s said, dropping onto Draco’s lap.
Hermione wondered why the headmistress never reprimanded the girl for her flagrant disregard of the uniform. Today she wore dark green tights under black leather shorts with a ripped black tee. The only part of her outfit that was regulation was the tie slung around her neck, although she wore it entirely too loose. Add in the thick boots and impressive amount of eyeliner, and she looked like an extra for a Weird Sisters music video – if they made videos like the muggle bands did.
Ron ignored the girl, “Whose up to hit the kitchens?”
Neville and Dean were delighted at the suggestion and the three headed out. Harry stood, too.
“I’m going to go see Hagrid.”
“Give him my love,” Hermione smiled up at him; she would go, but she had just been for tea the day before and those biscuits could be deadly if had too frequently.
Harry nodded and left her with the three Slytherins.
Blaise continued working on his paper for charms. Hermione knew he was taking the basic classes and none tailored to any sort of degree, but she didn’t know why. She was dying to ask but felt like it wasn’t her place.
Hermione redirected her attention to Harry’s potions homework. She had never heard of the potion they were working on this week - Ambulans Mortuos. This potion was intended to help those on the brink of death function until medical attention could be administered, but the task she and her classmates had been assigned with was six feet on the multiple ways the potion could be misused. Hermione had written seven and was currently proofing Harry’s five feet. Well, proofreading and helping stretch it an extra foot longer. Honesty, what would they do without me. Fail surly.
“Have you always done that?”
Hermione looked up at Pansy, “Done what?”
“Helped the Wonder Twins?”
“Yes,” Hermione chuckled.
“Drake does it for us all the time,” Blaise grinned at her.
Pansy tossed her crimped hair, “Speak for yourself.”
Draco smiled, “It’s true. Zabini wouldn’t be 59th in our class if not for me…”
“Mate, I’d like to be in the top forty this year.”
“Maybe you should try Hermione. She gets the Golden Boys in the top thirty.”
“And I,” Pansy said proudly, “get myself in the top ten.”
Draco laughed, tossing his head back before playfully shoving her, “Try top two!”
“Too bad,” Pansy drawled, “you’re only number two…”
Harry looked up at the last person he expected to see join him in the astronomy tower. Draco dropped down beside him and Harry couldn’t help but subtly tense. He didn’t want to argue or make things worse between them, so he sat in silence, wondering if the other guy would make the first move.
“It’s rude to ignore a polite greeting,” Draco bumped his shoulder against Harry’s.
“Ah, yes,” Harry smirked, “I forget your elitist upbringing.”
Draco grinned down at him as he rolled his eyes. They sat without talking for almost an hour, listening to the owls swooping over the forbidden forest. Draco ran his fingers over Harry’s back, rhythmically in time with his slight and infrequent humming.
Harry climbed the winding steps, relaxing as very step took him farther and farther away from people. He loved to come up here when his friends were sleeping – to get away from all of the pressure that came from being the ‘Savior of the World’ or the “Golden Boy’ or whatever else people decided to call him. But tonight, he was escaping something different.
He pushed open the door to the tower only to see the one person he was trying to escape. Draco was laying on a thick green and black knit blanket staring up at the sky, humming to himself. Harry leaned against the door, a small smile tugging at his lips. He threw caution to the wind and lay down next to the blonde.
Draco turned his head, confusion flashing across his face before he stilled it, “First Monday night – and now?”
Harry turned to look at the sky, ignoring the question. He’d come here to figure out why he’d felt so drawn to Draco that night and why he had walked away. He sat up, suddenly feeling too close to the other guy. Harry thought briefly about getting up and walking away, pretending Monday hadn’t happened – pretending this wasn’t happening. He made to push up off the ground when he felt the fingers. He tensed, but Draco only drew his fingers across Harry’s back in time with his humming. Harry ducked his head, unable to hide the smile that spread across his face.
“Don’t go,” Draco practically begged as he whispered it into the night.
“How was tea with Hagrid?” Draco broke into Harry’s memory.
He shrugged, “Eh, you’ve never had his biscuits! But, the conversation was good.”
“I told Blaise.”
“I know,” Harry sighed.
“He knew about Ziah, so I told him about you.”
“All of it?”
“No,” Draco’s shoulders dropped, “I made it sound like it was just an after the war thing.”
Harry nodded, looking away. He found he was kind of hurt Draco hasn’t told Zabini, but he couldn’t figure out why.
“Oh,” Draco bumped his shoulder again, “I also told Hermione that we became friends after you saved me from the fire – in case she asks or whatever…”
Harry laughed, “Yea, telling her I basically assaulted you probably wouldn’t go over so well.”
“Not for you anyway!”
The smirk Draco directed at him was so adorable that Harry couldn’t help it; he leaned over and kissed him. Draco didn’t respond for a long moment and Harry started to pull away when the blonde reached up and tangled his hands in Harry’s hair before deepening the kiss. Before Harry could process what was happening, he was laying on his back with Draco straddling him. The next few minutes passed in a dreamy haze, until Draco pulled away.
Staring up at him, Harry bit his lip to keep from smiling.
“I love when you do that,” Draco smiled, running his hands over Harry’s chest.
“Dray,” Harry stopped his hands and laced his fingers through Draco’s, “what are we doing?”
“Avoiding the real issue in whatever sort of relationship we have,” Draco pulled his hands free and began ticking items off on his fingers, “pretending it doesn’t hurt every time we end up here, making a damn good memory, killing time, not sleeping . . . could go on but I think I made my point.”
Harry sat up, shifting Draco to where he was sitting on Harry’s lap with Draco’s legs wrapped around Harry’s back, “Smartass.”
Draco dropped his forehead, resting it on Harrys, “I don’t care what we call it anymore, Harry. I miss you.”
The air felt heavy and Harry found he couldn’t breathe. HE MISSES ME! He found himself counting slowly to ten, trying to regulate his suddenly ragged intake.
“Hey,” Draco brushed his lips against his, “did you hear me?”
“Yes,” Harry exhaled the word, lips moving against Draco’s. He squeezed his eyes shut, “I miss you, too.”
Draco dropped down between Harry and Blaise at the Slytherin table, discovering that despite the fact he only got an hour of sleep the night before, he was starving. Piling sausages and fruit onto his plate, Draco tuned out Hermione’s lecture on completing homework in a timely fashion. No wonder Ron was always so irritable – she’s always lecturing him about something. Blaise raised an eyebrow, not even bothering to voice his question, but Draco just shrugged. It didn’t matter what he thought was going on; Draco was just content that something was going on again.
“Harry,” Hermione grinned at him, “Ron tells me you were out late last night….”
Draco utilized his years Malfoy training as he resisted the urge to shift in his seat. Blaise looked pointedly at him, recognition dawning on his face. Draco hoped fervently that Hermione was too focused on Harry to notice Blaise or Pansy’s small giggle. Ron wasn’t however, and he munched on his toast, crumbs covering his uniform as he stared at Pansy.
“Just went to look at the stars,” Harry poured more pumpkin juice into his goblet, lying smoothly. Draco realized he probably had years of practice. Unlike Draco and his friends, the trio seemed to share almost everything with each other. Draco’s friends never asked where he was disappearing to over the years, just as he never asked them.
Hermione continued to study Harry as they finished breakfast, clearly knowing there was more to the story. She didn’t press it though. Draco appreciated that. Moments like these over the last few weeks made him feel incredibly guilty about his treatment of her over the years. He knew he was only keeping up the family charade, but that didn’t make it any easier.
By the time potions rolled around, Draco was regretting hi one hour of sleep. Downing a pepper up potion, he hurried down the stairs to the dungeon, trying not to be late. He slid into his seat just as the professor stood up and began to address the class. Sometimes it was difficult to concentrate with his heavy accent, but Draco forced himself to focus. They were learning remarkable things. He was glad his focus this year was on re-auror training. He wasn’t entirely sure that’s what he wanted to do, but it was a start.
Unfortunately for Draco, Barrocas had picked today for them to work in pairs – and stuck him with Blaise. Normally this would be fine, even if it meant Draco would end up doing all of the work. But in light of Hermione’s revelation at breakfast, Draco knew he would have tons of questions.
“So what is this supposed to do again?” Blaise propped his feet up on the desk, leaning back in his chair.
“This,” Draco said in exasperation as he dropped the ingredients they needed onto the desk next to the cauldron, “is your basic Wiggenweld Potion, Blaise, which you would know if you paid the slightest bit of attention. It basically fixes minor damage to your body and can counteract various sleeping potions. Tomorrow we’re going to learn how to brew a more complex form.”
Blaise pulled chocolate bar from his bag, “Whatever, man. So about last night?”
“There is nothing to-”
“Shut up, Malfoy. I’m not stupid. You both stay out all night doing Merlin knows what. All I want to do is make sure – look, I’m just trying to be a good friend.”
Draco sighed, leaning against the table, facing Blaise, “Thanks, mate. But if anything significant happens, anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
He went back to brewing the potions, the silence between them only broken by the crinkling of the candy bar wrapper and the random bits of conversation that floated over from the other desks. Draco knew Blaise was just trying to a friend, but neither of them was much for feelings. They usually talked to Pansy and then she would cue the other in on whatever was going on. Finally the bell sounded and class was over. Draco directed Blaise to clean the cauldron as he stopped a sample of their potion and left it by the door.
“Hey,” Hermione stopped him on his way back to his bag, “Don’t forget we have a meeting to host tonight after dinner.”
Draco tried not to look like he had forgotten, but failed miserably as she laughed, “Third floor?”
“Right, the old classroom…”
“Yes,” Hermione peered up at him, seriously, “how’d you sleep last night, Draco? You seem a little out of it.”
“Well,” Pansy slid an arm around his shoulders, “he didn’t get much actually…”
Hermione nodded thoughtfully, turning away to join Harry and Neville who were waiting for her at the door.
“Seriously, Pans,” Draco eyed her black on black plaid dress, knee high lace up boots, and Slytherin blazer, shaking his head before continuing, “why don’t you try minding your own business?”
“Same reason I can’t just wear that dull thing anymore,” she motioned to the various students around them, garbed correctly in their uniform, “It just isn’t in my nature.”
He laughed; at least Pansy was being true to herself.
The rest of the day passed quickly and before he realized it, Draco found himself sitting with Luna for dinner. She was perched on the table where her plate should be, with her plate balanced on her knees.
“You know,” Luna spoke in that dreamy voice that had never failed to make him smile – well, on the inside, “I don’t think everybody would mind as much as you think they would.”
He nearly dropped his fork in shock, but was saved from answering by Harry, “Mind what, Luna?”
She gazed down at him smiling serenely before turning to Harry, “Don’t you know, Harry?”
Draco laughed openly at the awkward way Harry shifted and blatantly changed the subject, “So, ‘Mione, what’s the meeting about?”
“A school event. Hopefully we’ll decide tonight!”
Draco winked at Harry as the subject change worked and the students around them started animatedly discussing different options. Draco tucked into his plate, tuning them out.
“So,” Hermione began, counting the raised hands, “it looks like a majority rules in favor of a winter festival! This will be so fun! “
Draco clapped, hushing the chatty prefects, “There are signup sheets on the table behind you. Please pick at least one thing to help with – decorations, entertainment, or food. Everybody will help set up and take down.”
The prefects swarmed the sheets and slowly filed out after picking what they would help with, their chatter filling the classroom. Draco leaned against the desk where she sat, fingers tapping out a tune while he softly hummed.
“Draco,” Hermione tapped his arm to get his attention. When he looked down at her, she continued, “want to study for a bit?”
He nodded and pulled another desk over to her, “This course load is difficult.”
“I love the challenge,” Hermione smiled at him. When he smiled back, she felt her stomach drop. She had first thought he was cute their second year, but he had always been so mean to her. Knowing now that he didn’t mean any of it, she couldn’t help but wonder what if…what if she let herself like him, what if it wasn’t such a bad thing?
Taking a risk, Hermione leaned over and brushed her lips gently across his. Pulling back, she looked at him – waiting for some sign. He looked mildly confused for a brief second, then thoughtful.
Slowly, he shook his head, “I’ve thought about that since our second year.”
“And…” She didn’t mean to sound so uncertain, but she’d never been in a situation like this before.
“And, I’m sorry,” He smiled softly at her, “But I don’t think…”
Awkward. Merlin, Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe this.
“Okay,” Hermione focused on her work, letting the awkward silence fill the space between them.
“Look, Hermione,” Draco obviously wasn’t going to let it go, “I’m sort of seeing – somebody. I don’t know what we are, but I don’t want to mess that up.”
Hermione realized her stomach had unknotted, and rolled her eyes, “Well, we wouldn’t want that.”
Draco’s abrupt laugh threw her off, “You sound like Blaise!”
And just like that, it wasn’t awkward anymore.
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