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Chapter 7 : The Set Up
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Gorgeous chapter image by the brilliant Caren at TDA
(A/N: I tried to fix all the flaws you pointed out in all the reviews. They were really helpful.)
Disclaimer: The places and characters you recognise belongs to JK Rowling. The storyline is mine.
06/02/08 EDITED BY FALLSTAR
Hayden Malfoy knew that his time was running out. Either he managed to make his parents fall in love—with each other, preferably—or his plan to save his mum and dad would fail. He would be compelled but to return to the future and live the life he and the people he loved didn’t deserve. He kept this goal in mind side by side with the dreary and circular life—could it be called a life—his father had lead after Hayden’s mother had died; that deplorable death she hadn’t deserved, leaving an eight-year-old son to a man who drunk himself into desolate oblivion. Even though his parents fought constantly—or so it felt as he skimmed his memories, though the slightest deep remembering showed this false. The times in between their fights were the sort of sweet thing to reminisce over in the way of a return to one who one has not seen for ages. Hayden figured it was far better to get through the hard times with them than to live a life without them.
The only impediment to his plan was: he didn’t have the faintest idea when they washed clean laundry together and more with the intent to conceive a baby. Hayden had no idea how he could facilitate the whole progress of their relationship. And when on earth had his father overcome his prejudices in order to raise a child with a Muggle-born whom he had hated fervently? Hayden had always wondered if his conception had happened as a mere accident or if there was some desperation that drove both to such action; was there even any feelings involved, such as lust or attraction? Draco was showing some probable signs, but what about Hermione? The only fact Hayden was sure of was that their ‘plowing fast of the field’ for him must have been around his parents’ sixth year, since Hermione didn’t return to Hogwarts the next school year, and wouldn’t have been there to give birth to Draco Malfoy’s child.
Nausea climbed from Hayden’s stomach and up his throat when he suddenly realised that he was actually contemplating the idea of Draco and Hermione – his parents – sneezing together. He held his gut as though his breakfast was about to make return as through his mouth was friend to anything as gross as what flitted through his mind.
A couple of days later, in Potions class, Hayden was once again lucky to come off without any teacher or student wondering about his sudden existence in the school. At some points Hayden believed that he’d been given a “Guardian Angel” – his mother had told him about angels when he was a little – that was protecting him. Whether an advanced Memory Charm or some other sort of protection was used, he did not know; he knew that whenever his true identity was in jeopardy, it was protected. When teachers added or deducted points from Hayden, no one seemed to notice that the Slytherin house points actually remained unaffected. Were these people … idiots? His Malfoy-attitude tended to show through at certain moments. And he hated himself for that.
He looked sideways at his arrogant teenaged father, who while unflappably sprinkling some ingredients into his cauldron and stirring the black coloured fluid in it, shot fleeting glances towards the bushy-haired Gryffindor. Hayden suddenly became depressed. How was he going to get this Lothario-in-denial to declare his true feelings for Hermione? Hermione, who was under the misapprehension that Draco hated her with all his might, needed but a clear and sincere declaration of love.
In the last thirty minutes of the class, Draco had said about twenty unkind things regarding Hermione’s appearance and blood status, had mocked her, and had made fun of her with his mates. Hermione, of course, wouldn’t just let all that happen without revenging herself a bit: she jinxed Draco’s cauldron so that it exploded and Draco had to start all over again.
Strangely, when Professor Slughorn deducted points from Draco for his lack of concentration and incapability in class, Draco didn’t tell him that it was actually Hermione Granger who had spoiled his potion.
Although Draco would love, probably more than anything, to achieve the greatest honour any Malfoy could ever achieve, which was to get some Muggle-born punished, he kept himself withdrawn from further discussion with the teacher. He continued his work with a muffled groan.
Hermione held back an infuriated Ron, who was now clutching his wand under the table, waiting to curse Draco out of his shoes. It was her friendly gesture, when she placed a hand on Ron’s to make him lower his wand, that made the blood drain from Draco’s face. It was her reassuring touch to calm Ron down that made Draco clench his teeth and look altogether hurt.
At the end of the class, Professor Slughorn moved around to check on everyone’s potion and funnel it into little flasks for grading. Those who couldn’t submit their work failed the test, and Draco Malfoy was the only one who fell into that category. Hayden looked from Draco to Hermione. If Draco had only looked up at that very moment, he would’ve seen that Hermione was staring apologetically at him, scanning his messy workplace and all the ingredients that were scattered around him because of her actions. When Hayden caught Hermione’s eyes, he smiled, and then he suddenly got an idea. He knew that it was probably absurd, but it was worth the attempt.
Hayden was on his way to the Great Hall for lunch later that day, a bit excited because of the plan he had set up for his parents. They just had to spend time together, that was all, even if it meant locking them up together. He just didn’t yet know how he’d lure them in. He began sprinting up the staircase, taking two steps at a time, and then suddenly bumped into someone who had appeared out of the blue. A loud tinkling fluttered from the stones: the breaking of glass; followed by a bonking sound and a groan.
“Cripes! Can’t you watch your step?” a soft, yet angry, voice exclaimed, groaning under her pain, upset at Hayden’s inattention.
Rubbing his ailing chin, Hayden finally looked down at the soft features and elegant body that was sitting on the ground in front of him. She was rubbing the spot on her forehead which had collided with Hayden’s chin. She looked up at him; her face immediately adopted an expression of surprise at the realisation of who stood before her. She turned her head away and tried to hide her face behind an exquisite fringe.
“Do I look so dreadful?” Hayden lilted, offering her a hand. She brushed a few strands of her raven-black hair out of her face and tugged nervously on her blue-and-bronze Ravenclaw scarf in order to keep her hands busy. Apparently, she neither wanted to give Hayden her hand, nor accept his.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled. She reached around her for scattered flasks, strewn ingredients, fallen potion-brewing-kit and the other odds and ends that had spilled from her cauldron.
“Cho Chang, right?” Hayden said, stooping down to face her at eye-level and giving the Asian Beauty a smile. “Come here, I’ll help you up.”
He tugged at her hand quickly before Cho could even protest and pulled her up. Still, she refused to look at him. One of the potion-filled flasks broke. A mud-like liquid was spilled on the floor.
“Oh, no! Now I have to brew that again,” she mumbled, heaving a noisy groan of frustration.
“Let me help you.” Hayden in the act of bending down to gather her belongings once again, but Cho had already flicked her wand to clean the mess.
All her Potions equipment flew in the air towards her cauldron. “You don’t have to clean up the Muggle-way here at Hogwarts. Do not forget you’re a wizard,” she scolded him.
Hayden stared at her. Why was she saying that?
“Cho, I’m really sorry,” Hayden said sincerely, under the assumption that Cho was just annoyed. “Look, I can brew that one for you. But what do you need the Polyjuice Potion for, anyway?”
The Ravenclaw flinched, but didn’t answer. She was still avoiding eye contact with him, which Hayden found a bit impolite. He stared at Cho for a short and contemplative moment; the determined and familiar tone of voice she used when she spoke to him, the way she moved … it was strange – and strange was an understatement – but Hayden couldn’t rid the feeling that Cho was so much like her daughter, Naomi. They didn’t only look alike, but they also had the same temperament.
Or was it just the guilt of leaving Naomi without telling her about his ventures that was starting up once again?
When Cho had gotten her stuff, she left Hayden without looking back.
Staring at the retreating figure of Cho Corner née Chang, he remembered that Naomi had a wonderful light-hazel eye colour. Did she get that from her mum, too? Next time, when Cho wasn’t mad at him anymore, he would make sure to check out her eye colour.
Draco was so incensed that he didn’t even show up at lunch. Hayden didn’t know where his father had again disappeared to; he speculated that Draco was probably escaping the claws of the nasty pug-nosed girl Hayden met the other night, but he couldn’t be absolutely positive.
If someone told him earlier that his balding father who always had a lingering odor of one drink or another around him had been so sought after by the girls as a teenager, Hayden would have recommended a nice secluded sanitarium for that person. There was even a stupid hag who was head over heels crazy for him. His father… a dude? HA!
Hayden, eating perhaps a little too slowly, was lost thinking about a memory that had not yet happened. He remembered that once, when he had been perhaps four or five, his mother had told him stories about her constant fighting with his father ‘when we were young.’ She didn’t need to tell him that, he had already figured it had always been like that. He felt that his parents conversations were a cruel alternation of apology and fight. But didn’t real love mean never having to say you’re sorry?
He recalled that his mother had told him that Draco continued playing all those pranks on her in their sixth year. She had told him about the Flobberworm he had slipped down her robe when she wasn’t looking…and that she had almost fallen down the stairs when Draco had decided to save her.
It was obvious that Draco craved Hermione’s attention. Now the only thing Hayden needed to do was set them up on a date. The very awkward problem was that neither of them could know that it was a date. The plan was brilliant, but bloody complicated to arrange. He tried to recall other details from his memory—snippets of little stories his mother told him. It was difficult, though, because there was hardly anything left.
Hayden, having finished lunch, walked outside to the grounds of Hogwarts. He noticed Draco standing behind some rocks, with his back turned to him. Draco was staring into the distance with, it seemed, dream-touched eyes. Even from the back, there was a tired slump to his shoulders, his hands looked meagre and…how was one to say it but pale, more pale than usual. It was like he hadn’t slept or eaten in days. He had one hand on his other forearm, rubbing it gingerly through the fabric of his cloak sleeve.
Hayden walked unnoticeably towards him, and, when he followed Draco’s gaze, noticed that Draco was watching Hermione in the distance. She was sitting underneath a big tree and reading a book. There were Ron, Harry and Ginny, who were on their brooms and whooshing around, passing a ball to each other that looked like a handball, but bigger.
Draco was watching Hermione, but not in the way he used to look at her: like she was some disturbing bug that needed to be smashed to death. Yet still, a lack of hatred is not enough to describe his gaze, for that may be passionlessness. He clearly was not apathetic towards Hermione. He was looking at her like he would move heaven and earth for her. His shoulders sagged as he inhaled deeply.
“Still in denial, huh?” Hayden asked, causing Draco to instinctively draw his wand and point it at Hayden’s throat. “What an ugly way to greet someone,” he joked as a means of lowering the tension while holding up his hands.
“Bloody Christ, stop sneaking around behind me!” Draco snapped, lowering his wand to his side. “Didn’t your parents teach you manners? What are you doing here?”
“Didn’t your parents teach you manners?” Hayden retorted, referring to Draco’s wand that he was clutching in his hand. “Or was that an inborn reflex?”
Draco sneered for a second, and then he repeated, “Malcolm, what are you doing here?”
“I was bored. I was looking for a potential victim, whose life I could make a living nightmare,” Hayden said. “So I thought of you. Is this what you do whenever you disappear? You go around stalking and ogling Hermione Granger from the distance?”
Draco’s cheeks turned crimson. “I wasn’t ogling her!” he exclaimed angrily. “I just came from the Owlery and....”
Irritated, Draco huffed at Hayden; apparently he was not in the mood for childish mockery. He was exhausted. He began to stride off, his composure under control. But Hayden needed him to stay for awhile, so he said, “Hermione was looking for you at lunch.”
And Draco, as expected, stopped in his tracks and turned slowly around. He looked surprised, but curious. It was like watching the face of a little boy that had been told Santa Claus would be coming.
Hayden added, looking at his fingernails to appear natural, “I told her I didn’t see you. And that you were probably off somewhere making out with that ugly hen—Parkinson—right? I have trouble naming ugliness.”
“WHAT THE…?” Draco exclaimed in indignation. “No, I was not! I – I just had some business to…” He broke off, looking doubtful and then scowled at Hayden. “Granger wasn’t looking for me, was she?”
“Why does it matter to you?” Hayden gave him the Malfoy-trademark smirk, which seemed more to be a suppressed grin. Draco didn’t reply.
Hayden raised an eyebrow in a smug gesture. “Does Hermione know?”
“Does Hermione know what?”
“That you … fancy her?” Hayden said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Draco seemed to be in shock, and choked on his own spit when he inhaled. His face, ordinarily the pale of inward control and fear of loss, was suddenly the red of mutual eyes and joy of love. Just as all the blood from his body shot to his head, Hayden pursed his lips in order not to laugh: it was half a triumph.
“Merlin’s bloody, sagging pants! What the sodding hell are you talking about?” he spluttered, clenching his hand tightly around his wand once he stopped coughing.
“Wow, Malfoy, do you kiss your mummy with that mouth?”
Draco was on the verge of exploding or cursing Hayden with an Unforgivable. He tried to look disgusted and more indignant than he truly felt. “Fancying the frizzy, nasty Mudblood! What do you think I am? An Idiot?” Draco asked.
Hayden wondered if that was a trick question. The honest answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he figured if he was going to bring his parents to date each other, he might as well stay on good terms with his father.
“Don’t be petulant. I spoke to her after lunch,” Hayden said, changing the topic.
Draco shrugged his shoulders, still flashing a bright shade of red. “So?”
“She told me she’ll help you.”
“Help me?” Draco resembled a brainless monkey that was attempting to solve a Reimann Zeta problem in which ‘squiggly’ equal ‘indecipherable’ and with these, one is supposed to gain some useful knowledge—for all math is useful. Malfoy’s face seemed to have acquired a curious expression which appeared permanent.
“Yeah, you’re very poor in Potions, aren’t you? And you have to pass your … final exams?” Hayden said, scratching his forehead. He was hit by uncertainties in regards to the correct wizarding terms.
“What?” Draco asked, perplexed. “What I have to pass are my N.E.W.T.s, which will be by the end of our seventh year, particularly my Potions N.E.W.T.! I know we still have a school year until then, but still. Merlin almighty, my goddamn parents are going to curse me to hell and dance on my grave if I won't be able to graduate.”
“Well, this may surprise you but I know someone who can solve your problem,” Hayden scoffed. “You just have to be cooperative. That’s all it takes.”
“So, based on your prior statement about Granger, I assume she’s the one to whom you refer,” Draco said. “Forget it!”
“That surprised me.”
“What surprised you?” Draco said, poking his cheeks with his tongue. He seemed to be losing his patience.
“You’re not as dim-witted as you look,” Hayden said, mocking Draco by applauding.
“You’re wasting my precious time, Malcolm,” Draco said. “I don’t really have the time for you or your childish shit, or for the stupid, frizzy Muggle-born.”
“But … she has time for you.” Hayden smiled from ear to ear.
He looked back towards the tree Hermione was sitting underneath. Ron had joined her, and Hermione had put her book away to have a little chat with him, to dedicate her attention to him. She started to giggle behind her hand and then burst out laughing when Ron made a goofy grimace. He looked like a dolt, but Hermione enjoyed the entertainment.
Draco sneered while watching them, his eyes taking on a shade of misery. “Besides, I’m not poor in Potions; I’m just too distracted lately. I have many other things to do, things of greater import than mere schoolwork.”
Draco turned on his heel once again and walked back to the massive porches of the castle. His confidence seemed to shine through, or at least illuminate, his sickly and scanty frame. Melancholic, he clearly was, but confident. So why he was so bloody insecure whenever he saw Hermione and Ron together, was a mystery of its own.
“Malfoy, she said she’ll expect you tonight at eight in the library,” Hayden called behind him, making sure Draco heard.
When he saw Draco disappear inside the castle, he mumbled under his breath, “Just don’t be late, Dad. You know Mum hates tardiness.”
(A/N: Thanks to my amazing beta, Unwritten Curse.) ^_^
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