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Chapter 4 : Corner
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 64|
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Fantastic chapter image by Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I've borrowed some lines from the harrypotter Lexicon and scenes from the HBP DADA class with Snape.
05/13/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden was sitting on a stone bench outside of Hogwarts, watching Hermione. Immediately after their Potions class, he had tried to follow Draco. He had not been able to find him; Draco had somehow disappeared in a crowd of other Slytherins.
When Hayden saw Hermione look his way while coming down the castle’s massive front steps, he genteelly waved a hand at her. She was in the company of a tall boy whose flame coloured locks were clearly natural. Striding beside Hermione, the red-haired boy frowned when he noticed the waving Slytherin; bent down to Hermione, and whispered something in her ear. Hermione elbowed him in the side – slightly too hard to be playful – shook her head and smiled brightly back at Hayden.
“Hi, Hermione,” Hayden greeted, smiling at the brunette when they stopped in front of him.
“Hi! Where did you go after Potions?” she said cheerfully.
Hayden had always loved his mum’s smile, but had never understood why. As a child, he’d never really seen her smile over much. It had been much more common to see her crying after a big fight with his father. And then there had been moments when she had simply sat on an armchair near the ornate marble fireplace, holding a picture in her hands, letting her eyes fill with tears. When Hayden had turned eleven, his father had abandoned him, which had forced him to move to a foster home; only then had he found that picture and had noticed that it was a magical snapshot of three teenagers: a scrawny, dishevelled black-haired boy with glasses and a much taller boy with red hair, his arm around Hermione’s shoulders. She was standing between the boys as a clichéd rose amidst thorns. All three were smiling and waving. In the background was a cake, and emblazoned upon it something that looked like a golden ball with silver wings. Floating in midair just above the cake was the number seventeen.
The bloke standing next to Hermione tapped Hayden rather rudely on his shoulder when he didn’t answer her. This wrenched him from his reverie. Once again, he’d been caught staring foolishly at Hermione with glassy eyes. When he looked up, he stared into the angry face of her companion. After a moment of scrutiny, he realized who her friend was.
“Hayden, this is Ron Weasley,” Hermione said immediately, clearly trying to ignore that Ron was attempting to incinerate Hayden with a glower. “Ron!” She gave an exasperated sigh. “This is Hayden Malcolm.”
Hayden stretched a hand forward to greet Ron. Only when Hermione elbowed him in the side did Ron follow suit.
“Nice to meet you, Ron,” Hayden said. “Are you Ginny’s brother?”
“You’re a Slytherin,” Ron said with a mixture of hatred and mistrust in his voice, disregarding Hayden’s question.
“Ron, don’t start again!” Hermione warned, looking at him sternly.
“What are you implying?” Hayden demanded, furrowing his brow at Ron. “Yes, I’m a Slytherin. That doesn’t mean anything, does it?” He sought the answer from Hermione’s eyes, wondering why Ron already felt this revulsion towards him. But now that he thought about it, hadn’t Ginny reacted the same way when she’d first met Hayden?
“It’s not your fault, Hayden,” Hermione said consolingly, positioning herself between the two. “Don’t worry about Ron. He – he’s just had a bad day. Right, Ron?” she asked, turning to her friend and throwing another look at him, which Hayden couldn’t quite see.
“Yeah, just that,” Ron mumbled, “a bad day. By the way, Malcolm, I heard you rowed with that Malfoy prat, didn’t you?”
“Well,” Hayden said, “he’d been a bit impolite to the ladies, hadn’t he?”
“Did you set up that plot with those gits? Because I’m not falling for it.” Ron took a step forward, clenching his jaw. “I reckon you’re under the same blanket as Malfoy.”
“Under the same…?” Hayden repeated, his mouth in utter shock, provoking Ron. “I am not a homosexual, but perhaps you are a self confessed criminal.” He chuckled at the thought, although he guessed what Ron was up to. Ron’s nostrils flared. Apparently he had missed the barb or else there would have been more.
“Slytherins stick together. Did you do that to impress the girls?” Ron questioned, balling his fists. “To get closer to my sister or Hermione? They’re not stupid enough to fall for you just because you’ve played the hero.”
“Stop it, Ron!” Hermione cried out, pushing back a red-eared Ron.
“Oh, that’s – that’s complete bullocks!” Hayden exclaimed. “I don’t need Draco Malfoy to impress girls, you idiot! For your information, there’s already a girl I fancy and she’s a Muggle.” Hayden noticed Ron’s features deflate as the ginger boy blinked at him. Hayden’s admission seemed to have surprised him a bit, and even Hermione’s mouth dropped open. Pursing his lips, Hayden added, “Just because I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again when I go back home, that doesn’t mean I’ve already forgotten her.”
“Oh, Hayden,” Hermione intoned, “you’ll see her again, don’t worry about that.”
Hayden’s gaze dropped, and he felt his heart sink. The moment he had left his house that morning, he had not even spared a thought about what might happen if he changed his parents’ past, not a single thought about the consequences that might affect each individual in his world. What about Naomi? Would he ever see her again? Would she still exist when he went back?
“Did I hear right? You’ve got a Muggle girlfriend? A Muggle?” Ron asked, flabbergasted.
“She’s not my girlfriend; I just fancy her. I think now that if I ever see her again, I’m going to tell her how much I –” Hayden noticed Hermione smiling at him with gleaming eyes, and Ron, his eyes wide in surprise. “Never mind,” Hayden mumbled. His ears and face felt hot in embarrassment. He quickly changed the topic. “What’s so extraordinary about liking a girl? I’m an ordinary bloke, not made of stone.”
“No, just the fact that a Slytherin loves a Muggle, that’s extraordinary!” Ron said sceptically, raising a brow.
“I don’t understand…” Hayden looked from Ron to Hermione.
“You’re not an ordinary Slytherin, Hayden,” Hermione said, her lips curving into a smile. “That’s what he meant to say.”
The three of them went back to the castle. Ron’s attitude towards Hayden abruptly changed with the Slytherin’s admission that he fancied another girl. Ron didn’t talk to him with such repulsion in his voice anymore. Maybe Ron had thought that Hayden was interested in his sister and that’s why he had been protective. Or was it because of Hermione?
Nah, my own mother? That’s gross. Hayden cringed at the thought.
On their way to their next subject, Hayden’s attention had been unexpectedly caught by a girl with long raven black hair; she was in a blue and bronze scarf and black cloak which he guessed must be the Hogwarts Ravenclaw uniform. She was surrounded by a few other girls wearing the same blue and bronze scarves, giggling and tittering. Hayden stopped in his tracks, just a few yards away from the black-haired girl, staring at her, his eyes wide, his mouth in a half-uttered exclamation, as though he’d been struck by the thunderbolt.
A girl, standing just beside the Asian beauty upon whom Hayden’s attention had fallen, noticed the gawking Slytherin and elbowed her friend in the side. The Asian girl stared in Hayden’s direction, scanning him a few times, her eyes scrutinising Hayden’s badge. Her pretty face wrinkled in a slight cringe and she turned away, resuming her conversation with her friends.
“That’s Cho Chang,” Hermione said behind the back of her hand. “You and Harry both have the same taste, don’t you?”
“Cho … Chang?” Hayden repeated slowly, as if saying her name aloud was evoking something in him, like a memory. And then he finally remembered.
Cho looks so similar to Naomi, Hayden thought. How can this be?
Hayden’s eyes drifted shut for a moment, as a long-buried memory came back to him.
There was a little girl, maybe barely five years old, with long, smooth hair, swaying on a swing. On the swing neighbouring hers was a curly blond-haired boy of the same age, staring at her with curiosity.
“Were those your parents?” the boy asked incredulously, watching a man and a woman entering a Muggle car across the street.
“They look like gorillas,” the boy chuckled. “Did the stork deliver you to the wrong house?”
“Don’t say that,” she snapped, then dropped her gaze on her sandals. “Well, somehow … My Mum’s name is Cho Chang. She’s Chinese, y’know.”
“That explains your ethnicity,” he remarked, swinging higher. “She must be as pretty as you are.”
“What city?” She looked puzzled and furrowed her brow at the boy, who just ignored her question.
“Where is she? And why don’t you live with her?”
“She’s sick,” the black-haired girl replied, swinging a bit, her eyes on her sandals again. “Dunno where she is.”
Hayden opened his eyes, and his gaze landed on Cho again.
“She is as pretty as Naomi,” Hayden mumbled thoughtlessly, vague eyes enraptured by Naomi’s beauty, which he was actually seeing in her teenaged mother, Cho Chang.
Wait a second … Does that mean …Naomi’s a half-blood, not a Muggle?
Ron snapped his fingers a few times in front of Hayden’s face, bringing him back to reality.
Coming back to his senses, Hayden suddenly realised that the gaggle of girls surrounding Cho had been staring at him with an air of dislike and displeasure. Cho turned uncomfortably on her heel and strode away, with her friends trailing behind.
“Never look at a gorgeous girl with your mouth hanging open for longer than ten seconds,” Ron advised dramatically, shaking his head. “Because according to the grapevine, it makes you a pervert.”
“Hayden, I don’t want to dishearten you,” Hermione told him bracingly, “but I think Corner won’t like it if you keep gawking at his girlfriend like that.”
“Cho’s dating Corner again?” Ron inquired.
“Yes, they seem to be having an on-and-off relationship. Dunno, apparently they’re on again. Ginny told me.”
“Corner?” Hayden turned to Hermione. “You mean, Michael Corner?”
“Yes, exactly him. D’you know him?”
There was Naomi’s childlike voice in Hayden’s ears again, hearing her saying over and over again.
Well …Daddy left my Mum…he left my Mum for another woman. Now you know…
Once again, Hayden felt his jaw clench and his fists ball up.
I can’t imagine how any husband in his right mind could cheat on a wife that beautiful…or leave her for that matter. Hayden sighed and tried to cover it by biting his lower lip. His whole body filled suddenly with a new wave of rage. Now, more than ever, he was determined to change not only his parents’ fate, but also that of Naomi’s.
At least I know now Naomi’s a pure-blood. Then why the hell didn’t she ever tell me?
Defence Against the Dark Arts was their next subject, and Hayden was sitting in the back of the room with the other Slytherins. Assuming it wasn’t necessary, he didn’t pay much attention to the greasy-haired teacher’s lecture about the differences between an Inferius and a ghost. He only caught a few snatches of Ron’s conversation with his friend when the dark, long-haired teacher made Ron’s friend, whom Hayden recognized as Harry Potter, answer his questions. But Hayden’s mind was too weary to listen. He was bored. He rested his chin lazily on his palm with his elbow on the table while watching Cho, who was sitting one chair away from him with the other Ravenclaws.
Hayden stared at her with shimmering eyes, and deep inside he missed Naomi. How could he be attracted to his best friend’s mother like that? Naomi was so similar to her mother as a teenager, as though they were twins; the long, black, smooth hair, the same smile, the eyes, the lips… It pained Hayden’s insides when he remembered Naomi and more the fact that he didn’t even say a word to her about where he’d be going. But he knew that she’d never have fully understood if he’d told her that he’d be travelling through time.
But now, knowing she was a witch, maybe everything could’ve gone different with them. Maybe she could’ve come with him and helped him, and all that.
Cho turned to look at Hayden and blushed, shifting nervously in her seat. Just as Hayden was about to smile back, he realised that everyone’s eyes were boring into him; some were giggling and chuckling, while other Slytherins were coughing as if to bring Hayden back to his senses. He noticed rather too late the teacher’s attention on him.
“I did not intend to disturb your…pleasant daydream, seeing that education appears to be of lesser importance to you than studying Miss Chang,” the teacher growled, his black eyes scanning Hayden. Three-quarters of the class, not including the Slytherins, were giving him unpleasant smirks and mumbling behind their hands. “But would you supply us with additional information about the distinctions between Inferi and ghosts?”
The whole class fell silent, all eyes upon Hayden. Hermione gave him an encouraging nod. Hayden sat upright in his chair, and spoke clearly and loudly. “Professor, in addition to what Harry told us, that ghosts are transparent, they also retain their sense of being, hence the fact that they have an active consciousness.” Hayden cleared his throat and noticed the professor’s hooked nose flaring at him, his left eyebrow twitching. Hayden continued. “Indeed, an Inferius is solid, as Harry also mentioned, but it can’t think for itself since it has been bewitched and merely serves as a puppet. Therefore, one has sentience but no body, the other a body but no sentience.”
The teacher’s lips pursed at this. Ron clapped his hands cheerfully once. The class broke out mumbling and muttering, which was abruptly quelled when the teacher threw a stern look across the classroom.
“I agree,” Hermione said in a high-pitched voice, smiling kindly at Hayden. “And, to clarify, sentience refers to utilization of sensory organs, the ability –”
“Ms. Granger, I don’t remember asking you for that supplementary stupidity.” He turned to Hermione, his lip quivering, scowling down at her, and then turned back at Hayden. “Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley should, but in all probability will not, take a lesson from you, a Slytherin, a student of my House, on how to study efficiently to enhance their knowledge.” The hook-nosed teacher turned his back on Hayden, his robes gliding over the stony ground, and glided back towards the blackboard. “Take twenty well-earned points for Slytherin.”
“I’d say...I just had a little inspiration.” Hayden shot Cho a glance and winked at her; she squirmed in her chair, attempting to wholly turn from his eye as she hid her crimson face behind her book.
“Now turn to page two hundred and thirteen,” the teacher said, apparently not having noticed Hayden’s latter statement, and smirked, “and read the first two paragraphs on the Cruciatus Curse.”
A boy with ear-length black hair, another Ravenclaw, shot Hayden a spiteful look from the table next to Cho. The boy’s hand tightened around his wand. He flicked his wand under the table, just out of eye-shot of the teacher, and, hovering behind Cho’s seat, blazing red letters formed into words: ‘Sod off. She’s mine!’
“You were brilliant, Hayden.” A female voice came floating towards Hayden’s table right after the teacher had dismissed the class, and when he raised his head, looking for the source of the voice, he found Hermione standing beside him, beaming. Ron and Harry were still gathering their stuff, while the teacher had some serious words with the two of them, for some reason unknown to Hayden.
“You’d answer the same, Hermione. That was nothing,” Hayden said dismissively.
“Hm, maybe, but not like you did,” she replied. “I mean you were distracted, and then…”
Someone bumped against Hermione rudely while passing her. All her books, notes, and pieces of parchment fell on the ground, scattered around her feet. For a second, Hayden thought it had been an isolated accident, but when he looked up at the person walking past Hermione, he met the sneering visage of Draco Malfoy.
“Have you a problem, Malfoy?” Hayden asked, walking up to the other blond-haired boy, his chin jutting out.
“Yeah,” Draco said, pursing his lips and pointing the tip of his wand at Hayden’s chest. “You and that Weasel’s bloody girlfriend were blocking my way.”
“You pick up her stuff,” Hayden commanded in a firm voice. The teacher was now watching them, and a gaggle of students were gathered around the two blond, pale boys.
Draco’s mates chortled behind their leader’s back, but Hayden held his scowl. Hermione ran up towards Hayden. “It’s okay, Hayden, that’s just Malfoy. C’mon,” she said, tugging at Hayden’s arm. He noticed Draco’s brow twitching when his eyes caught Hermione’s hand, seeing her tugging at his arm.
Hayden ignored her and smirked at the pathetic sight of his teenage father. “If you—just once, Malfoy, just once— would show her the respect she deserves, I assure you she will start to notice you,” he cajoled, “Or do you not know what you want?”
For a short moment, it seemed as though Draco would respond with one of his famous comebacks; in the next, it seemed like he was going to jinx Hermione when he flicked his wand in her direction; but then, before anyone noticed, all the parchments and books on the ground arranged themselves in midair and landed on the nearest table.
Without watching Hermione’s mouth fall open or give anyone else time to respond, Draco strode from the classroom. His smooth black cloak, gliding over the hewn stone ground, was like the fatal brush he had just fled.
(A/N: Thanks to La_sorciere for the beta-work.)
W/R/T Cho Chang. I know she's a year above Harry's gang, so there'll be an explanation as to why she's in his class this time.
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