Chapter 4 : Poetic Justice, Part One
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The Human Abstract
Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
And mutual fear brings peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.
By William Blake (first two verses)
”What the fu…” Draco Malfoy was pretty sure his eyes were deceiving him. A very mercurial girl had just emerged into his room out of nowhere and was now standing beside his bed, putting away some kind of a cloak and straightening her hair and clothes in a flustered manner. She didn’t look at him; she didn’t seem to notice him at all. Instead she had kneeled on the floor, opened her back bag and was now rummaging through it feverishly.
No, she was real.
”What the hell are you doing here.” His voice was all aristocracy and poise as he looked at her down his nose. He had to do something; he was wearing practically nothing, covered by a sheet, and he had been sleeping before she fairygodmothered herself into his room (his private Slytherin Head Boy room, goddammit).
Hermione Granger turned her head up towards him very slowly, as though forced to look upon an ugly, infectious, alien maggot, took a deep breath and then, poured her thoughts on him:
”Oh, believe me I’d rather be in hell than here with you, but you’ve made it impossible. You didn’t let the owls in? No-o, of course not, that would’ve been decent. And why did you have to throw a book at Dobby? He got a black eye.” She took another deep breath. ”Not even Pansy got in and I really had to persuade her. This is entirely your fault.” She stood up, holding a ball she had finally found from her bag. It looked a bit like the crystal balls used in Divination; it was transparent and fitted to her palm perfectly. She turned the ball four times clockwise on her palm and then let it fall, but near the floor it started to hover and came to rest on the level of her eyes.
Draco was gritting his teeth. She had no idea, she had no right to come to his room and…
”Nothing of this is my fault. Get the hell out of here or I’ll throw you out. What part of me killing you didn’t you understand? Get out! GET OUT NOW!"
She held her ground and shot out an arm.
”Give me your hand,” she ordered, but when nothing happened she sat down on the bed and grabbed his hand before he could pull away.
”Hey, wha…Wait. What?” He stumbled with the words long enough for her to make a small cut to his thumb (with a knife he hadn’t noticed before) and draw a few drops of his blood in a small glass bottle. She let go of his hand and then cut herself too. She mixed the blood drops in the bottle as she got up from the bed.
He stared at her eyes wide and mouth open, which he soon noticed and closed abruptly.
”Do you have an owl here?” Hermione asked, her eyes searching the room, containing only a four-poster bed, a desk and a very cosy looking leather armchair. She had expected it to be decorated in Slytherin colours, but instead the only colours - besides the dark wooden panels and furniture - were white and black. There was a white thick carpet with a black Chinese letter covering the floor and the black sheets on the bed made it look masculine and a bit cold. There were no pictures on the walls and somehow it looked as though nobody was living there.
He just shook his head.
”Well then, let’s see how this works…” She drew something in the air in front of the floating ball and it started to shimmer and then a picture emerged on its surface - or inside it. Draco couldn’t tell exactly.
”Hello Professor, I have it here.” She wiggled the bottle containing their mixed blood drops. ”Please send an owl to pick this up.”
Draco was getting more and more confused by the second. What the hell was happening? In his room. His thumb was still bleeding, his mind was boggled, his clothes were where he had left them…how many nights ago? Four? Six? Eight? He didn’t have a clue. He didn’t want to have a clue. He wanted her out of there.
He had made it quite clear he didn’t want anybody to come to his room, not to ask questions, not to give their well wishes and definitely not to cut his finger and act like he was indifferent. He didn’t need her there. No, no, no. Want. He didn’t want her there.
Draco got out of the bed and tied the sheet around his waist. Hermione was too occupied with the floating ball to notice him until he was behind her, pushing her out of the room.
”I. Said. Get. Out.” His voice was brimming with displeasure and his manners were rigid as though he had difficulties in restraining his anger.
She didn’t try to stop him until they were at the door. She wanted him to throw her out; she wanted him to close the door behind her. Her heart ached when she finally resisted.
”I can’t,” she said, putting her hands against the door and thus preventing him from pushing her out. He lowered his arms and she turned around hesitantly, facing him. She was forced to look up, because he was standing too close. ”I can’t. As much as I would like to, I can’t. Haven’t you noticed anything? Haven’t you lost anything?” Her eyes were sad and her voice a mere whisper.
If she had screamed, if she had acted like she usually did around him, he would have pushed her out then and there, but now…now she had his attention. Had he lost anything? How about everything? Didn’t she know?
”Any abilities, any memories?” she answered bewildered by him actually listening.
He took a few steps back, giving her space between the door and himself.
”I don’t think I’ve lost anyth…” He paused. ”Wait, I can’t seem to remember trivial things, like what’s my favourite subject or who’s teaching–”
There was an owl, pecking the window and they both turned to look at it. Draco hesitated a moment and then went to let it in. The owl flew straight to Hermione and tried to land on her shoulder, but it was too big so instead, it went to sit on the desk in front of the window.
Hermione took the glass bottle and tied it into the bird’s leg.
”Care to explain?” Draco said after the owl had flown away. He was looking for something to wear from a cupboard hidden inside a wall.
”Um…” She had expected this, but still she didn’t know where to begin or how much she actually wanted to tell him. ”To make a long story short: there is a magical connection between us, because of the pairing in Ancient Magick, which you wanted to break without any preparations. Which means we’re in deep trouble and are losing parts of ourselves gradually. Which means we end up in catatonic state eventually unless we-e…hey, what are you doing?” She turned around quickly, blushing heavily.
”Putting some clothes on unless you want me to run around stark naked,” he said sardonically as he let the sheet fall off. He had found boxers (black), socks (also black) and wrinkle free robes (again black).
”Unless what?” he asked while buttoning his robes.
She peaked over her shoulder before turning around. He was halfway through with the buttoning. His skin was very pale against the black cloth and she could still get glimpses of his bare chest. She hadn’t noticed before, but he wasn’t actually the ugliest wizard in the world.
”Unless what?” she said, puzzled.
”That’s what I asked. We end up in catatonic state unless we, what?”
”Oh, yes. I…sorry. Unless we do what Amadeus tells us to do. There has been only two other pairs in two hundred years who couldn’t stand each other for so long that they could learn wandless magic the quick way.”
At this point Draco looked up abruptly and asked: ”What do you mean the quick way?”
”Amadeus is teaching us the quickest way to learn wandless magic. Usually it takes years and years and many wizards and witches never learn it. His people have studied wandless magic for centuries and the pairs have a significant role in each other’s training. Without one another they’d go crazy. The Colour of Magick is too powerful for one person to enter. Together we have enough balance and power to tame it.”
While talking she had walked to the leather armchair and was now wondering if it was okay for her to sit in it. It would make things more final, as though she couldn’t leave anymore if she sat down. This was his room, she had no right to be there. Finally she let herself sit on the edge of the chair.
She was tapping the armrest nervously, fully aware that he was watching her closely, measuring her words, noticing her insecurity.
”Why the blood?” Draco asked as he walked back to the bed and sat down opposite her.
”Amadeus is going to separate us and to do that he needed our blood. He is at Headmaster’s office with Dumbledore and Snape. But…” Her voice broke. She turned her gaze to her hands, as if trying to hide some inner turmoil, burning in her.
”But what,” he said and when she didn’t answer immediately, he asked in a more demanding way: ”But what, you stupid bint?”
She looked at him straight in the eyes and almost made him wince. The dark hatred flashing in her brown eyes startled him; she looked like she wanted to strangle him.
”But we might not survive it. The other two pairs never returned to normal,” Hermione said finally.
Her voice betrayed her. It told him exactly how afraid of dying she was, how afraid of losing herself. Maybe she wasn’t the all-knowing, all-winning Gryffindor queen after all. Maybe she was weak, just like everyone else. But then again, why was she just sitting there, when she had every right to jinx him to the next world? He had been the one to threaten her life; he was the reason they were in trouble.
”Why didn’t they return to normal?”
”Because they couldn’t do the things they were supposed to.”
”What things?” He sounded a bit timid, even to his own ears.
”The blood. And the potion. We have to take the potion and keep contact as long as it takes for the potion to separate us.”
”How…” He cleared his throat. ”How long is that?”
”Well, Amadeus said that it shouldn’t take more than two days, but- ”
”After two days I would get rid of you forever?”
”No more Head duties together, no pairings, no nothing.”
”No more nothing.”
Hermione watched him lean his forehead against one of the bed pillars, his blond hair covering his face. He was clearly pondering his options. After a short while he brushed a hand through his tangled hair, revealing questioning, sharp grey eyes.
”Could I still learn wandless magic?”
”Yes, but not as quickly as everyone else in our year. If you don’t have a pair, you can’t enter the Colour of Magick.” Hermione spoke in a dull voice; she was very tired. She had been working day in and day out for over a week now and it was starting to take its toll.
”What does it mean: ’keep contact’?” Draco tried to act as though this meant nothing to him, but his heart had started to resemble a huge stone in his chest and parts of him felt like drowning.
He stood up abruptly and started walking back and fort the small room. Which one was worse? Two days and nights with her constantly or the rest of the year regularly? How would his father choose? The whole question was stupid; he wouldn’t be in this kind of mess.
Could he handle her for two days? Could he stand her for two days? Could he stand himself in another person’s company for two days? In her company? Honestly, he didn’t know.
”What do you want?”
Hermione couldn’t believe he had asked her that and managed to stutter in disbelief: ”A-are you seriously asking me? Me?”
She looked at him, head tilted to the left and said, clearly trying to avoid a highly accusing tone: ”If you really want to know - I want you out of my life. I don’t like people threatening to kill me. I’d rather learn wandless magic the hard way than stand your bigotry and violent nature one moment longer than I have to.”
He thanked Merlin he was facing the wall; for some weird reason her words had stung him. Was it the way she had said it? Had she made him feel guilty? Was that it? This really wasn’t going the way he wanted.
He had just enough time to pull a mask on his face, before he turned to face her. ”Then it’s settled. Two days, starting when?”
”Starting when Amadeus is ready, which should be now. With Snape and Dumbledore’s help he should have been able to finish the potion. We’ve been preparing it for awhile now.” She paused for a moment and then added: ”Sometimes I can’t understand why they’re so interested in us - maybe they had high hopes for us.”
Draco looked at her, frowning. ”High hopes?”
”Me, a Mudblood. You, a Pureblood. We, a pair.” She shook her head and muttered under her breath: ”Tarzan.”
So far she had managed to hide her extreme state of exhaustion, but now, she was beginning to feel the funny effects of sleep deprivation: she was feeling very light-headed and battered.
Unable to relax in his presence, she stood and started moving around nervously.
Draco looked at Hermione for a second, puzzled by her words. Was she right; had the professors really thought there could be peace between them? He remembered the Peace Treaty; why had Snape used that one for their assignement? Was there something going on behind their backs?
His thoughts were rudely interrupted, when a very morbid looking brown-headed force of nature stepped in front of him and started poking him in the chest, asking weird questions in an accusing tone.
”Are you going to stand there the whole night? Are you planning something? Are you going to try and kill me?” She circled around him, carrying herself with difficulty. ”Don’t try anything funny.” She sounded a bit hysterical.
He felt like smiling, but didn’t. She was serious even though she looked like she was about to collapse. What had she been doing, before she emerged into his room?
”I’m not going to hurt you.” He couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. What the hell was happening to him? She was making him…nervous.
”You’d better not. I didn’t come unprepared. See this?” She showed him a stone, hanging down her neck. ”This will keep me safe. It’s charmed to do so. You can’t hurt me. See, I don’t trust you.”
”I don’t blame you. And I want out of this as pain-free as possible. I’m not going to hurt you,” still the same soft voice. What kind of sappy idiot was he?
”I don’t trust you,” she said for the final time and managed to poke him quite painfully in the ribs. Then she turned around hands on her waist and looked at the room with measuring eyes.
”Where do I sleep?”
He had difficulties swallowing. ”Excuse me?”
”Simpleton. Where do I sleep? I’m tired.”
”A-aren’t we going somewhere else?” he asked and added to himself: Where there’s other people.
”No. Didn’t I tell you, we have to be alone. Dumbledore didn’t like that part at all and we tried to get you somewhere else less…well, less private, but you wouldn’t come out and now it’s too late. Your fault actually. Everything’s your fault, come to think of it. I don’t like you.” She was very tired.
He looked shocked. She definitely hadn’t told him that.
”I…what? Fuck. No. I…you can’t stay here.”
”Too late, you can’t take it back. You said yes and that sealed this place.” Her eyes became mischievous when she continued: ”In five minutes we have to decide how we’re going to spend the next two days.”
”In five minutes? I have to go to the shower, bathro-”
She watched him for a second, smiling wickedly and then, laughed at him and the expression on his face.
”I was just kidding. I haven’t talk to the professors yet and we haven’t drank the potion. Do what you need to do.” She then went to play with the floating ball and left him there panting furiously.
He buried his face to his hands for a moment, trying to suppress the sharp anger flaring through him. She was something else; she would make him crazy. He would not take this.
He took the few steps separating them, grabbed her arm and turned her to face him.
”Stop playing games. Tell me everything now or I’ll smack your pretty little face to the wall.” His grip was bruising her arm and she winced. Somehow that didn’t make him feel good. Instead he felt like letting go and apologising on his knees. He did neither.
”I’ve told you everything.” The pain was evident on her face and her voice was strained.
”Really?” He turned her around and pulled her hand behind her back in an uncomfortable position. ”Are you sure?” Hurting her was supposed to be easy. Only thing he felt now was remorse more powerful than any of his earlier anger. He tried to fight the feeling.
”Let go of me.” She tried to kick him, but he pulled her closer to him, so she couldn’t move. She was captured now, his other arm around her waist and the other still holding her hand up, sending waves of pain down her elbow to her shoulders.
”Not until I’m convinced you’re not hiding anything.” His warm breath tickled her neck. She tried to wiggle herself free, but he wouldn’t let go. Oh gods, why wasn’t the necklace working?
This was not a good idea. She was in his lap, moving way too much. And the more he tried to hurt her the more he felt like…what did he feel like? This was exactly what he didn’t want to happen. This was the reason; he wanted her out of his life. He felt like…
In one quick motion he turned her around, grabbed her throat and pushed her to the wall.
”Speak. Everything you know.”
Was he actually able to resist the power of the necklace? If so, she was in trouble. He didn’t squeeze hard enough for her to choke, but enough for her to feel extremely uncomfortable.
”If you let me go, I’ll tell you what I know,” she said without a trace of fear in her voice. She was tired with the games, too. She wanted it all to be over.
He watched her carefully for a moment and then finally released her, his eyes never leaving her.
She held her throat for a moment, looking at him accusingly and then she started talking.
”This is not going to be easy. The potion will make us…different. Whatever you feel, it will make it ten times stronger. Our minds are connected, yours to mine, mine to yours. We’re not going to like it. It’ll hurt, it’ll burn, it’ll try to object. The magic in us. It doesn’t like us breaking it. But it’s possible. We just have to want it enough.” Her mind was racing. Would he back out now? Would he deny her freedom? Would he make them fall just because he was a coward? Oh, how she hated him.
”What have you lost?”
The question startled her, why on earth did he want to know that now?
”What made you come here, even though you hate me so much? What did you lose?”
She could see he was serious. But she didn’t want to tell him. Why should she?
”I don’t see why you should know. It’ll change nothing.”
Again he pushed her to the wall, this time by her shoulders. She hit her head hard against the wooden panels and for a moment she saw stars.
”Tell me, what makes the high and mighty Gryffindor queen so weak in the knees that you just had to come here. Tell me!” he had started to resemble the person he had been in the corridor the night he had threatened to kill her.
”All right! I’ll tell you, you freaking idiot.” She was spitting the words out of her mouth. ”I forgot Arithmancy, I forgot what my mother looks like, I forgot my favourite food…” She paused and then whispered: ”I forgot that I love Ron. And the cruelty of it all is that I can still remember the things I’ve lost. I know they should be in my mind.” She paused. ”And it’s all your fault!” The last words gave her enough strength to push him off her. He struggled to keep his balance.
”Happy now? Happy now?” There were tears in Hermione’s eyes and she turned away from him, covering her face to her hands.
Draco stood there awhile, dumbstruck. He really didn’t like honesty. It was hard to argue with honesty. It was hard to argue with her, when all he seemed to want was to touch her. That was not logical. That was not how things should be. She was something he could never have or want. She was a Muggle witch, she was… None of the arguments gave him tools to work with. She was under his skin already. She really was. And how could he fight it, if the fucking potion would make it ten times more powerful. He needed her help. How embarrassing.
”I don’t like you,” he begun and regretted it instantly. She shot him an evil glare and made him take a few steps back. He put his hands up to show her that he didn’t want to fight and then continued: ”But I want out of this as much as you do. I want us both out of this mess and back to where we belong. But there is one problem,” he stepped closer to her, pushing her to the wall with his body. He whispered to her ear: ”I want you.”
She was so shocked her heart skipped a beat. This was too much, even from him. He wanted her? What a joke. Why did he have to be such a prick?
He could feel how her body went absolutely still, how she tried to avoid any kind of contact between them. She didn’t believe him and why should she? He had given her no reason to do so. Quite the opposite. But now that she was in his arms, now that he was going to show her what the problem was, he could feel his skin burn with want. He wanted her so much it turned into physical pain. It was scary to let go after he had tried so hard not to even admit it to himself.
”You don’t believe me, do you?” he whispered to her ear again, letting his lips almost touch her skin.
”Whatever games you like to play, Malfoy, keep me out of them.” She tried to move so she could push him away, but her hands were locked between them. The only thing she managed to do was to turn her palms against his stomach.
”This is not a game, this is the reason I want you out of my life. Among other things,” he said, pulling away from her slightly and taking her hands to his. He pushed them to the wall above her head, put a knee between her legs and then bit her neck just enough for her to feel a bit of pain. He moved against her, rubbed himself against her, almost as if dancing with her body.
She was starting to feel dizzy. This was not good, not good at all. Crazy Slytherin between her legs. Crazy Slytherin biting her neck, kissing her jaw. How could she allow it? How could she stop it? Her mind was dangerously blank and the only thing she could feel was him, dancing against her, hardening against her. Oh my god, he did want her. Not good, not good, not good.
”Stop it,” she pleaded. She was afraid of the next breath in her throat; it threatened to come out with a soft whimper.
”You believe me?” he breathed and stopped moving, but didn’t let her go.
She couldn’t answer, so she nodded and finally he moved away from her.
”Imagine that ten times more powerful and even I can’t resist it,” he finally said leaning his hands against his thighs, breathing unsteadily.
”What’s your point?” she asked, rubbing her wrists. This was even worse than she had imagined. He was much worse. He was unpredictable.
”My point is, we have to set boundaries, magical boundaries. You can touch only my arms; I can touch only your arms. That way we can’t hurt each other too much.”
He actually had a point. He just didn’t have to make his point that clear. And why had she allowed it? He was messing with her mind.
She felt trapped. This was not going according to her plans nothing ever did with him. Was there any other way to get rid of him? And why wasn’t the necklace working?
”Tell me one thing. Why did you threaten to kill me?” She sat on the bed, took his pillow and held it against her stomach. She didn’t feel safe.
His eyes followed her movements and when she grabbed his pillow, he frowned, but didn’t say a thing.
”Let’s just say that I didn’t like the way you worked your way into my life.”
”That’s a load of bull.” Her eyes were like flames, burning holes into him. ”I haven’t done anything. I never wanted anything to do with you. You disgust me.”
”Oh really?” he said with a wicked grin. ”I can almost smell you, dear girl.”
She held his gaze, knowing quite well that she couldn’t lose this one, not if she wanted him off her back.
”You really think that was something special. You really think I haven’t tasted anything better. You give me nothing. I need nothing from you. I want nothing from you. Keep your thoughts to yourself and maybe we can get out of this unwelcome situation.”
There seemed to be nothing hostile in his posture. He just looked at her steadily and said: ”Fine. Be that way.”
Hermione couldn’t believe what she saw next; the smile forming on his face reached his eyes and made him look humane and even cute; he looked just as he was, a seventeen-year-old boy. Not a Slytherin scum, not a killer, not a cunning, evil little rat. He looked like a real person, just like her.
He winked at her and then, left her standing there mouth open, and went to a small bathroom connected to the Slytherin Head Boy room. He had many things to do, teeth to brush, body to wash, tension to release. And something had happened to his face; he just couldn’t stop smiling.
Hermione watched the bathroom door far too long for her own good. He was definitely messing with her mind, he was toying with her. Urgh, the clever bastard.
She reached for her back bag, found the leather covered black book, the one she had borrowed from the library and flipped through the pages frantically. There was the Guardian Angel Charm, and nothing in the text indicated that it shouldn’t be working. She had done everything correctly. Except - maybe he just didn’t have a conscience. She should have thought of that before using that particular charm. It clearly stated that the charm affected the person’s conscience. How could she have been so stupid? She really was too kind at heart, thinking that everyone had a conscience.
But he didn’t seem to want to kill her or even hurt her at the moment, although he was definitely unpredictable and lost his temper far too easily. She had her wand though and Dumbledore, Snape and Amadeus were at reach, if anything untoward happened. And if they created a magical barrier between them…maybe they would be okay.
This realisation made Hermione relax just enough for the insidious exhaustion to overcome her. The pillow in her lap started to feel quite inviting, soft and warm. She let herself lie down on the bed. Just for a second, just to rest her eyes, just to…
A/N: Soundtrack for this chapter was NIN's Closer. I listened to that song practically the whole time. :) Thank you for reading, please tell me what you think about the chapter. Again I had some difficulties, but managed to overcome them. I'm actually a bit nervous about this, because it's different from the rest of the story.
I know I promised to finish the second part quickly, but my muse decided to take a vacation and now, I just can't write. Don't worry, I'm working on it, but it will take some time. Sorry about that.
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