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Chapter 5 : Hayden's Advantage
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Cute chapter image by the amazing Caren at TDA
Disclaimer: I've borrowed the description from the HP lexicon for Luna's Streeler.
05/13/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Standing in front of the moldering blank wall, where he supposed was the entrance of the Slytherin common room, Hayden knocked on it like he’d do on an un-magical door and hoped someone would then let him enter. Just a few yards away was the stockroom in which he had awakened this morning when he arrived in the castle. He ran a hand carefully over the cold stone wall, but there was no button or lever to open the entrance door. He drew his wand and tapped it against the stone; however, no simple spell seemed to pop up in his mind to cast on it.
Maybe a password? “Great, where the hell should I get the damn password?” he groaned.
Hayden felt like blaming his father for the lack of knowledge he had about being a Slytherin. He suddenly contemplated about his encounters with the individual students from other houses. Their reactions towards him had rather much in common. Why had his father never told him stories of his past like his mum sometimes did? Why did his dad actually never seem to have cared for him, his only son?
Distant footsteps approached, bringing Hayden out of his thoughts. Silhouettes formed in the torch lit corridors, shaping four figures of students.
“Look who is there, Granger’s pet, left back in the dark,” the tall, slim boy chortled with that strident voice, tedious in its familiarity, which Hayden recognised as Draco’s. “Hey, have you lost your Mummy?” Draco chirruped in an exaggeratedly dulcet tone, as though he was talking to a little child.
Hayden didn’t know why he felt like blown up by the fire by those words. It felt like inferno in his stomach when he heard Draco talking like that, although deep inside him he knew that his dad had suffered the most when his mum died by that car accident. That was the first time he’d seen his father crying…so broken down; the first time Hayden realised that his dad loved his mum. The urge to scald Draco with some witticism blew up like a bubble.
Hayden exhaled noisily, then he threw Draco that prominent Malfoy-smirk, and said, “Don’t be jealous of me, Malfoy, just because she’s closer to me than she’ll ever be to you. It was most gentlemanly of you, though, when you picked up her stuff. She was really flattered.”
There was an outburst of laughter. Draco’s two cronies were holding their stomachs in amusement. The girl beside Draco giggled behind her hand, obviously finding the scene hilarious. All three exchanged amused looks with each other as their voices echoed in the corridor like the laughter of hyenas.
Draco raised his hand dismissively and his three companions quieted in an instant.
He made a movement forward—not towards Hayden—but towards the stone wall—and mumbled the password against it. It opened and he entered without another word.
Weariness, not having seized him, Hayden stayed in the common room reading his copy of Hogwarts: A History. He thought of finding more information about Hogwarts since he had never really gotten into his mum’s copy of this book. When he decided not to go to Hogwarts when he turned eleven, he decided that it was not of interest.
After all, how exciting would have Hogwarts been, when he couldn’t share this joy with his female best friend, Naomi? He would have only been with her during holidays; he couldn’t just leave her alone in her foster parents’ house—not with the treatment she received from her foster father. So he didn’t regret his decision to refuse to attend Hogwarts when he turned eleven. Besides, what could be so wonderful about Hogwarts if his parents would not be there to give him motivation and support? Magic wasn’t as fascinating as it used to be when his mum was still alive.
Soft footsteps padded down the stair that led to the boys' dormitories; when Hayden looked up, he stared into Draco’s pallid face, which unmaskedly gave him a surprised look. Draco clearly had not expected someone still awake and around this time. He was nervously rubbing his forearm, and apparently struggling with the options whether to go back again to his room or stride out of the common room.
“Still up?” Hayden said, scrutinising Draco’s suspicious behaviour. Where might he intend to go this late at night…? Hayden suddenly remembered that his father had a scar on his forearm (the same spot Draco was now scratching) and had never told him whence he’d received it. Now, by staring at Draco, Hayden wondered if that “wound” he had on his forearm was fresh.
“What’s that?” Draco asked with a feigned interest, his eyes pointing at Hayden’s copy of Hogwarts: A History.
“Malfoy, I think it’s about time to tell you the truth,” Hayden said with such flatness that it was more biting than any kind of venom, “this is a book!”
“Shut up. Shouldn’t you be in bed by now and dream of Granger?” he spat as he cringed his nose in distaste. Draco threw furtive glances towards the exit.
“Remembering Hermione again, are you?” Hayden raised his brow at the other boy, a grin snaking up his lips. Draco’s face flared and then he raised his eyebrow, too.
“What’s that supposed to mean? She’s detestable; a Mudblood... I don’t see any reason to waste my precious thoughts on that thing,” Draco scowled.
“You don’t? Then why did you start talking about her?”
Draco sneered at Hayden, the staircase amplifying the look’s potency, yet still even a casual observer of human nature could tell that the furious shimmer in his eyes belied something far more interesting. He shifted in his position; his incensed voice, though, faltered. “What’s so bloody fascinating about that Mudblood?”
The impression that Draco was asking this because he struggled with the confusion he felt for Hermione, and now wanted to know what Hayden saw in her, was, obvious. Also clear was that he asked in order to understand his own feelings. Hayden knew his father too well; there was no way he could conceal his true feelings for Hermione. Hayden knew the truth: he knew his father’s insecurities and weaknesses.
“One of the fascinating things about Hermione is that she always sees the good in a person. And did you notice her smile?” He looked down on his book, so that Draco wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, but also with the purpose to hide his grin – he finally had his father like a fish on an invisible hook with a line that run to the end of the world yet be pulled back with a touch. If Draco truly cared nothing for Hermione, he would’ve left by now.
Draco didn’t leave.
“I haven’t noticed,” Draco chortled; he leaned his bum against the side of the long couch on whose other end Hayden was sitting. “Not even that ugly brown eye colour, not really my type of –”
“– How’d you know her eyes are brown?” Hayden asked nonchalantly, cutting him off while turning the pages of his book. Draco fell silent, while Hayden continued, “When you held her in your arms, did you notice she smells like roses?”
“What? I never held her –” Draco spluttered, but then he swallowed down his words as he seemed to have remembered. It was a few days ago, when Draco had slipped a flobberworm into Hermione’s robe. Hermione had squirmed around and almost fallen down the stairs as Draco didn’t prevent her from falling. His voice faltered again.
“When she almost fell from the stairs, because of your prank, don’t you remember that?”
“Serves her right,” he said, trying to sound harsh, and then he cleared his throat. “Granger, is she – is she with that – is she dating –”
Hayden sensed what Draco was going to ask. “Dating Ron? No, she isn’t. She only sees him as a brother.”
If Hayden had now looked at Draco, he would have seen that a weak, barely visible smile had appeared on his lips.
Shifting nervously on his spot, Draco mumbled annoyed, “I’m going to bed. Talking about Granger makes me sick.”
Hayden smiled contently at himself. Oh Dad, you can’t delude me.
He followed with his eyes his future father walking back to the dormitories: his head half bent; his hands inside cloak pockets; his shoulders slumped over. Hayden could tell he’d heard a sigh that was more than imagined—and certainly relieved—coming from him before he disappeared in the shadows.
Hayden sought a one-on-one meeting with Hermione after lunch, but Ron wouldn’t let the two alone and tagged along with them. Harry had a meeting with the Headmaster again, and Hayden wondered what those meetings were about.
They went outside to the Hogwarts grounds. There they headed towards the lake under the big tree, under which a girl with that natural blond that is made by peroxide and skin that is compared to alabaster by the poet and whitewashed concrete by the more mundane sat on the grass; on her lap was a transparent box with something colourful to which he was talking as if it were a whom.
“Hi, Luna,” Hermione greeted, smiling uncomfortably. “What do you have there?”
“Oh.” Luna held up slightly the transparent box in the air; she answered in a dreamy tone, “This is Pierre, my new pet. Daddy sent it to me this morning. He got it from his journey in France.”
“Luna, it’s a snail!” Ron remarked, looking amused. “And you called that thing ‘Pierre’?”
“This is not any snail, Ronald,” Luna said, “it’s a –”
“– Streeler,” Hayden finished. Hermione and Ron looked with wide eyes at the blond-haired boy, appearing to be astounded at his knowledge. Luna blinked at Hayden in surprise.
“Is there anything you don’t know?” Ron asked. “You’re so like Hermione.”
Hayden and Hermione exchanged an amused look, then he simply shrugged and turned his attention again on the bizzare blonde with the snail.
“Yes, indeed it is. How did you know?” Luna asked.
“I recognised the conspicuous colour; it changes every hour, does it?” Hayden knelt in front of Luna, staring with interest at the giant snail inside the transparent box. “I’ve never seen a Streeler in real life before. They deposit a trail of venom when it moves that kills and shrivels all vegetation over which it passes. They are actually quite interesting.”
“I guess Luna found her soulmate, then,” Ron chuckled. Hermione shot him a look, and he shrugged apologetically.
“Yes, they are,” Luna replied airily, disregarding Ron’s comment, and put some grass into the transparent box. The grass turned brownish the moment it hit the snail’s slime, as though it had dried it instantly. “In fact they are quite useful, you see, they can kill Horklumps.”
“Oh, by the way,” Hermione interrupted, “that’s Luna Lovegood. Luna, that’s Hayden Malcolm.”
“Luna Lovegood? Hey, you’re the editor of The Quibbler. I’ve read the 109th edition, the article you wrote about the Umgubular Slashkilter, it’s funny. Mum always said it’s rubbish and I shouldn’t read such…” Hayden felt his cheeks heating up when he realised all eyes were upon him; Hermione and Ron seemed both astounded. The Slytherin added quickly, reaching a hand forward to avert the others’ attention from him, “Nice to meet you, Luna.”
“There’s no such thing as the Umgubular…” Hermione shook her head; Hayden grinned at her sympathetically. She turned away and mumbled, “Never mind.”
“The 109th edition? But that doesn’t exist. And besides, Daddy is the editor of The Quibbler,” Luna corrected him, shaking his hand curtly, “but I was planning to write something about those creatures.”
“Oh, maybe I confused something,” Hayden explained, a nervous smile on his pallid face. “But, yeah, you definitely should.”
“You’re rather different from your fellow Slytherins, Hayden,” Luna remarked in an airy voice. “You’re pleasant to be with.”
“Anyway, Hayden, weren’t you about to talk with me about something?” Hermione asked. “We can have a minute, then.”
“Stay in eye-shot, Hermione,” Ron reminded her, his voice sharp.
“Yes, Father!” Hermione replied, curtsying towards him with grace befitting a debutante.
Hayden and Hermione walked a few yards away from Luna and Ron. Hayden could see how Luna put her Streeler on the grass, causing Ron jumped away in disgust from the snail.
“Why’s he so over-protective of you?” Hayden asked curiously, nodding towards the croaking Ron. “Is he your –”
“My what? Boyfriend?” Hermione said tersely. “Funny, how everybody thinks that.”
“But, is he?”
“Hayden, was that what you wanted to talk with me about? My private life?” Hermione sighed.
“No, I’m just curious, you know. I told Malfoy Ron isn’t your boyfriend. Would be awkward if he thinks I lied,” Hayden said defensively; he paused for a dramatic effect and sighed.
“B–But why would Malfoy be interested if I’m dating Ron or not?” Hermione’s mouth was agape, staring curiously at Hayden.
“He’s interested in anyone you may be dating.”
“But why? Maybe he can’t imagine that some bloke would find me attractive,” Hermione grunted. She walked a little away from Hayden and stared into the distance. “After all, he’s doing all he can to make my life a waking nightmare.”
“Yeah, because he wants your attention.”
“Excuse me? Why would he want my attention?” Hermione asked, apparently taken off guard by Hayden’s statement that she turned round on him.
“Dunno,” Hayden replied, shrugging. He looked over to Luna and Ron, who were trying to catch the snail. Luna squeaked when Ron pointed his wand at Pierre in panic; the snail motioned with grace into the air, and Ron was trying to lead it back to its box. Hayden had to smile at their sight. “There’s always a reason why someone treats you the way they do. My Mum once said, ‘Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be.’”
“Do you mean I should treat Malfoy like a friend so that we can become friends?” the brunette scuffed, raising her brow incredulously.
“Not directly. I mean you shouldn’t give him hugs or such. Treat him the same like … you would treat me, for example…like a human.”
“Hayden, you’re absolutely different from Malfoy,” Hermione said, staring at his grey eyes. She added, “Although physically you look very similar.”
“Thank you,” Hayden said snappily. He had heard this statement quite a lot from people who’d seen him and his father together when he was young, as though Hayden was the miniature of Draco Malfoy when he was a little kid. Only his curls and brains he got from his mother, for which he was very grateful.
“Wait a second.” Hermione narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Hayden and said, “Were you planning something with me and Malfoy? Why do you want me to be friends with him?”
“I didn’t say I want you to be friends with him…”
“Then why do you want me to be nice to him? He’s always been an insufferable git, especially to me. He hates me, and I should be welcoming?”
“Weren’t you the one who taught me to see the good in people?” The words just spilled out of his mouth without him wanting to, though he tried to keep his voice under control, but before he realised what he’d said, Hermione shot him already a bewildered look. He only hoped he’d not given away too much information.
“Excuse me? For someone I just met yesterday, you seem to know me quite well,” Hermione pointed out, making a guarded step backward. “Thinking about it, I have never seen you before, even if you’re from a different house. Well, yes, of course I don’t know everyone’s face. But … It’s as though you –” Hermione’s eyes grew wide. “– exist just since yesterday. Who are you? We’re in the same school year, but I’ve never had classes with you in the last years yet you –”
“N – No, listen.”
“– seem so familiar,” Hermione trailed off.
There was again a ripple on Hayden’s neck like a cool zephyr. And now he remembered, this was the same feeling he felt when he had landed in the Hogwarts castle, when he met the other students and attended classes. He looked up into the sunny blue sky that was salted with sheep-sized clouds. There was no wind. When he stared back at Hermione, she blinked at him. For a second it seemed as though she was staring right through him, but then her pupils were focused on him again.
“Oh, yes, I remember. We had Charms and History of Magic in Third Year and Fourth Year together, why didn’t you just say it?” Hermione said thoughtfully. “You were always sitting at the back with the Slytherins. But yes, I do remember.”
“What?” Hayden rubbed his neck gingerly. He glanced around him; there were two little girls, maybe first year students, apparently deep in their conversation. Hayden couldn’t quite tell, but one of the girls seemed to have just stowed her wand into her robe pocket. But, if that had been magic, could a first year perform such powerful incantation? Both walked past them. Hayden stared back at Hermione. “Did you feel that?”
“The cold breeze,” he said darkly.
“There was no breeze, it’s rather too hot today,” Hermione said. “Are you alright, Hayden?”
“Y – Yes, everything’s fine.” Hayden felt what seemed to be a dry tongue on the back of his neck and where it went, there followed gooseflesh.
“So, was that everything you wanted to talk with me about, about Malfoy?” she asked in a light voice. “I’ll try to be kind to him, if he stops being rude to me. If only it were possible…” she said reluctantly, biting her lower lip.
“Er … alright then. The other matter I wanted to discuss with you is –” Hayden thought carefully before he formulated his question, “– what can you tell me about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters?”
(A/N: Thanks to my amazing beta reader, Max82.
*Hayden knew about the prank of his father on Hermione because Hermione told her son in the future and Hayden remembered it in this moment.)
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