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Chapter 17 : What Was, And Is, And Is To Come
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Recourses: title by Geoffrey Bingham | Harry Potter Lexicon | jokejam.com | the characters (except the OCs and the plot) and places are property of JK Rowling)
Absolutely stunningly beautiful chapter image by the talented the_tofuubeaver @ TDA.
The clock above the teacher’s desk, right on the wall between two tarnished paintings, read quarter to three. Feeling as though he had a difficulty breathing in this rusty, narrowed classroom, he loosened the knot of his tie a bit. He blamed the brooding heat for everything: even his own nervousness when around Hermione, and the close proximity which encouraged to this girl, and the slight annoyance he felt because she had chosen to ignore him after all. But the heat in his body lingered even when she stood far away from him, cleaning the shelves. He felt dizzy.
“We have two hours of unendurable, nerve-racking Potions class in about fifteen minutes,” Draco groaned under his breath when he realised the time, and, trying to get some response from her, said, “Does that clock even tell time? I had it under assurance that time was standing…” he broke off, blowing sharply through his lips in frustration. Hermione wasn’t even listening.
How pride-wounding and ego-shattering… Had he really stooped down so low and broken his façade to expose his vulnerability and heart just for her, the Muggleborn?
He looked at Hermione’s back while she was tidying up the chaos on the shelves though she wasn’t asked to do anything of the sort with the Muggle antiquities and other strange-looking artefacts, most of which Draco had never seen in his entire life before.
“I’m done, then,” she finally announced, dusting off her uniform. She coughed, then giggled nervously when she noticed her hair was all covered with a layer of dust. “Gross!” she said, making a face, and coughing a few more times.
She pointed her wand at her clothes. “Scourgify!” she exclaimed, waving her wand skilfully. A second later, she was all presentable and neat and alluring again. This time it was Draco who coughed, suppressing the urge to slap himself.
Draco had a feeling that she’d only tried to find something to keep herself busy, just to kill time until their next class started. After all, she hadn’t looked up once from her task since he’d played Prince Charming and kissed the knuckles of her hand. She hadn’t spoken another word with him, possibly to avoid awkward conversations.
The eloquent and talkative Granger, silent—for once.
Draco raised an eyebrow at his own observation. Because, even though he didn’t know Hermione that well, he surely knew that she wasn’t the kind of person who avoided confrontations however awkward they might be. Hermione must be silent for another reason.
Maybe it was the calm before the storm.
He looked at her very closely; her cheeks were rosy. Was it an indication that she was intimidated by him? It gratified his ego to think that—intimidating people was his favourite—but as he felt his head spinning and his skin burning with fever, he guessed that he was merely having a delusion caused by unrequited longing for one Hermione Granger. He couldn’t intimidate this girl, one of the best things about her, which was rather challenging, that’s for sure.
Hermione strode, as steadily as she did quickly, towards the door without another glance at him; she carelessly left her precious books and robe on the table Draco was leaning against; her cheeks were still the crimson of recrimination. At the door, she paused though, turning her head slowly around once she’d realised what was missing.
Draco took her book bag in his hand, while draping her robe lazily over his other arm. He couldn’t help the sly smirk that skimmed his face. Now she had to face him, there was no way around to that. “Not that I’m used to carrying other people’s belongings like I’m some kind of servant…but you can at least wait for me, you know.”
She half-turned around, her hand remained on the door knob. He saw her rolling her eyes. “Have you snapped out of it now?” she asked guardedly.
“Snapped out of what?”
“Out of your former behaviour, I mean. The Draco-Do-you-believe-in-fate-Malfoy, and all the sugarinesses of wuv. Are you going to take everything back you’ve said before? As always?” Her smile was barely a smile, it looked so forced and bitter, and this cut him deep. Why was she so upset?
“While you were purposefully ignoring me by doing your clean up over there, have you been secretly plotting a plan on how to humiliate me?” he asked her, holding her sceptical gaze.
“No,” she said, “I’m only trying to prove a point.”
Hermione steeled herself. Standing erect like a proud and deadly Amazon, she proclaimed, “You can’t be constant with what you say, and I won’t play hot-and-cold with you any longer. You say something…heartfelt…and then the moment you realise it, you become a jerk: you start to regret it, then take everything back or run away.”
Draco’s jaw dropped; she made him sound like a damned in love. Maybe he was. Damnit! He was about to ask her when he’d ever run away from something he’d regretted doing with her. But then the memory of him kissing her once on the Astronomy Tower—as short as it might have been, it had happened—came flashing back his mind! And he had run away then, hadn’t even showed up for two days. How pathetic.
Blimey, and that’s only been last Friday.
“Well, then, I hope you can handle disappointments. I’m not going to take anything back!” he retorted sharply. “And to your information, I didn’t run away. I’m still here, right?”
Hermione’s face twitched in different emotions: surprise, anger, fury, irritation; she seemed to be struggling with words she could smack at him. She glared at him carefully for a few seconds, until she spoke again, calmer this time, “That’s exactly the reason. There’s nothing to gain for you after this, Malfoy. You know that. Right?”
This wasn’t what Draco had expected. Hermione went on, “I mean about this…whole wildly hare-brained thing we’re doing. I admit that—” she smoothed down her uniform skirt and looked away guiltily, “—that I, on one hand, have something to gain when all’s said and done, which is an answer to Hayden’s obscurely strange behaviour towards us. You know how…it frustrates me if I don’t get to satiate my curiosity.” She looked ashamed when admitting this as if it was a crime. “I just want you to know my sole objective.”
“Well—” Draco started, but was cut off when Hermione raised a hand in her bossy way to silence him. He pursed his lips. Her distraught expression made him only take a deep breath, so he let her go on.
“You, on the other hand,” Hermione said slowly, clutching the doorknob tighter, “I mean, why? Why did you agree to endure this—” she gestured between them again. Draco noticed that Hermione used to do that when words failed her to describe the unwanted bond between her and Draco, “—I can’t imagine that you really care about Hayden’s intentions. I mean, blimey, after years of enmity, here you are, acting less the smarmy git you used to be, calling me by my first name…talking about...fate…and changes…and…looking at me like I’m a colourful rainbow at the dark-grey sky…like a little flower in the nook…sort of.” She smiled shyly, blushing more. “You get my point.”
This took Draco out of the blue. To collect himself, he focused on the less petty fact about this conversation. It felt more ‘normal’ when Hermione was in this speech mode even though Draco thought that she talked like a waterfall, but it was better than giving him the silent treatment.
“I can certainly understand your doubts and fear that I might hurt you,” he stated, exhaling through his nose. Indeed, he didn’t blame her ability to mistrust him.
He ran his palm gingerly at the back of his neck, feeling frustrated. Why was she only making this so hard on him? She made him feel humiliated and regret for having showed to her his emotional side even he didn’t know existed, which suddenly reminded him that this was exactly what Hermione had been talking about. He was trapped. And now that she knew about his feelings, she had the power to hurt him.
“You don’t hate me anymore, yet you still don’t like me,” she repeated slowly to comprehend, interrupting his thoughts of wishing he could make words unsaid, and actions undone.
He refused to respond to that.
“Malfoy,” Hermione spoke, suspicions clear in her voice. “Tell me what you really want from me.”
“Nothing,” he spluttered.
“To sum it all up, then,” she started, sounding like a teacher when summarising the day’s lesson, “you don’t mind that your friends turned their back on you because you’re wasting your time with me, to simulate a false relationship so it’d look convincing to Hayden. Hayden, who has been trying to hook us up together without apparent reasons, even though the world knows we don’t belong together? And you have agreed to have a sham relationship with me without doubting my lame reason of my curiosity about Hayden’s match-making?” She blinked a few times to let that sink.
And Draco let the words sink: false relationship…don’t belong together…lame reason.
There she was—the proverbial last straw his sanity depended upon—dashing his hopes to be a better person. He swallowed the bile down his throat and merely shrugged.
She added, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s very kind of you to help me. But people like you don’t help people like me without ulterior motives.”
“Hermione, you really need to get rid of your prejudices about me, you know.” He sighed, ignoring the pain in his chest. “That’s why people like you are the reason why people like me need medication,” he threw back at her when he remembered the silly quote he read on Goldilock’s t-shirt. He rubbed his temple.
She chuckled. Her face smoothened a little.
“Now would you give me a moment to doubt your objective?” he said expressionlessly.
She bit down her lower lip, but nodded.
“In fact, I might not know you as well as your closest friends do,” Draco started, frowning at his shoes. “I ought to believe you, that you’re sacrificing your time just to figure out some bloke’s frivolous intention to get us end up together, but I don’t believe it’s your only reason. You can’t be that desperate for knowledge.”
He tried to glance up at her, to see her reaction. And he was right; there was something more. Hermione bit on her lower lip harder, holding tighter to the door knob. She looked down the hallway as if coveting escape.
Draco prodded, “You could’ve as easily just confronted that match-maker git, to spare you this whole drama. Ask him why he’s forcing you upon me, and tell him that I’m not your cup of tea. Problem solved! But instead you’ve agreed to be with me!” He put an extra emphasis on that, because unlike Hermione, he didn’t feel uncomfortable saying it aloud, which was rather irritating. “And to remind you, I didn’t have to convince you to fake our relationship. You’ve signed up to it; deal with it! ‘If you can’t stand the dragon, stay out of the cave!’ Isn’t that how the saying goes? And now that I’m trying to make it easier for you to bear my presence, you’re totally freaked out.” He shook his head, clenching his jaw. “You have by far more unadmitted, unadmittable desires for me than you claimed to have, haven’t you? I knew it all along, but I figured that I didn’t care.”
Hermione inhaled deeply, then her eyes suddenly filled with unexpected tears.
What did he say? He didn’t mean to hurt her.
“We didn’t sign a contract that binds us together, Hermione,” he said softly, a bit more composed this time, his temper faltering. “You can back out anytime you want. You choose the person you want to be happy with—not that Golden Boy. Who is he to decide that, right? Don’t let him get to you.” He smiled, and to his own surprise Hermione was smiling, too. Her tears were flowing now.
He stepped closer to her to hand her over her belongings.
She seemed to be looking through him, rather than at him.
And before he could blink, she threw herself at him, kissing him desperately. She was kissing him with such passion that he couldn’t help kissing her back.
With another pulling sensation, Naomi landed, surprisingly graceful, on her hind limbs. She looked up and found herself on the seventh floor again, right in front of the tapestry with Barnabas the Barmy and the dancing trolls on it. With a sad smile on her face, she reminisced the era she came from and the last few months before leaving school, when Teddy Lupin had pressed her against the tapestry to share a kiss with her. It was an awkward, rather forced kiss, but she remembered.
If she were to succeed this mission, would Hayden be in the place of Teddy as her boyfriend? Or would they remain best friends, and, knowing how overprotective Hayden was, let her not date other blokes at all?
Naomi chuckled at the thought.
Looking down the hallway, and making sure no one had seen or heard her Apparate, she quickly thought of the Room of Hidden Things, and turned around. The long section of wall was blank when unused, so she thought of the required room and its au fait appearance from inside, since she had already been there before.
Then the room appeared in front of her.
“I’ll get back to Hayden later,” Naomi sighed, giving herself a rest from Hayden. “When Mr. Malfoy asked of me to do this for him, he didn’t warn me that babysitting his son was this…bloody complicated.”
Naomi took the time to examine her surroundings. The room was the size of a large cathedral with vaults and crypts everywhere, and everywhere full of a multitude of abandoned objects hidden by Hogwarts students over the past centuries. She knew where and what she was looking for. There, behind a pile of damaged and broken furniture, threadbare robes, broken potion glasses, and banned books, Naomi found the Vanishing Cabinet. It was covered by a dirty-white sheet.
After a moment of testing its condition with the designated spell, Naomi was surprised that the object was still not working. The bird cage, which she’d used, didn’t disappear from the platform.
“Darn!” Naomi huffed in frustration, examining the object from each side. “He’s supposed to be working all night long on this assignment, almost every day he’d sneaked out to repair this thing, and now it doesn’t even seem like he’s touched it. What has he been doing then if not working here?”
Naomi tried herself with a few simple spells to fix the object, and was partly done, when she realised that Draco would notice the changes and probably find out that someone had discovered the Vanishing Cabinet.
I’ll leave the rest up to you, Draco.
Then she turned around and left the place.
As Hayden felt his mind twirl from complete darkness to flashes of familiar images—images of his buried memories—his head suddenly started throbbing painfully the more he realised what he was seeing behind his eyes.
He remembered a magical snapshot, one that was of his mother’s when she was still alive. The one that she had clung to in all those fateful nights after every row with Hayden’s father, as though seeking comfort. On days when she had believed to be alone in the living room in front of the hearth, she would look dejectedly at that snapshot.
When Hayden had found the snapshot long time after his mother died, he had realised that it was one of her and her two friends in their teenager years. All three were moving, and laughing, and shoving each other playfully, and waving at Hayden. Especially, he remembered the floating, magicked banner in the background, ‘Happy 17th birthday, Harry’ it said, with blazing red-and-gold letters written on it; a cake formed as a golden winged ball; and then the garden with the blossoming flowers…
But what was more important was that, between his young mother and her bespectacled, messy-haired friend, Hayden recognised the tall and gangly ginger boy on the photograph!
Ron Weasley was still alive when the snapshot had been taken!
Assuming Harry was a year younger than Hermione, and Harry and Ron were about the same age, and Harry was now sixteen, then Ron would be and should be still alive before his seventh birthday.
Was it possible to mess with fate like this, get someone killed, even though his time hadn’t come yet?
Hayden remembered a conversation he had had with Naomi during breakfast this morning, while they were hiding in the kitchen.
“I’ve only been trying to help you.”
“How’s this supposed to be helping me, Naomi? You’re stealing my precious time, you know, while my parents drift apart more and more from each other. I need to do something to accelerate their courtship…”
“But it doesn’t help much if you force them together like two repelling magnets. Give them time! You need to go strategically to make it work. Draco enjoys the entertainment of girls too much to settle for a single ordinary girl, especially for a Muggleborn he’s claimed to loathe for years. And Hermione has Ron. As long as he’s around for her, no matter how much they bicker, they care for each other. And she will never leave him for Draco’s sake.”
“Then what do you suggest, you genius?”
“Well, that’s pretty obvious, Hayden. We need to get rid of Ron.”
“He only fainted, but he’s doing well. No sign of any curse...that I can detect. It must have just been the shock,” a female voice spoke that Hayden couldn’t much recognise—she must be in very close proximity, as he heard the rustles of clothes and then a hand being placed on his shoulder to shake him gently.
“M’dear, can you hear me?” she asked, shaking Hayden again.
The voices of the others were like a faint droning in Hayden’s ears, as if they had been already discussing the incident that happened to Ron shortly before Hayden came to. He caught a few words of their conversation. Ron’s name was mentioned often, and a sobbing was clearly heard by one of the people around them—maybe Cho, maybe Ginny. With a sudden stabbing sensation in his chest, Hayden realised that his nightmare was reality.
“An explosion, you say, but the classroom seems to be perfectly well intact,” another voice pointed out, another female’s voice, more familiar than the first. Hayden remembered the voice from one of his teachers; it must be Professor McGonagall’s. It was apparent that the question was given to the group. “Where would the explosion come from? None of the students who left this room got hurt, well, except for—” she trailed off, her voice strained with misery. “Albus, is it possible that only Weasley—”
There was a short pause. Hayden assumed that Dumbledore was contemplating about the incident himself. “A spell that can make a single person explode,” he mumbled thoughtfully.
“Sir, is that even possible?” someone asked; the others remained silent. Hayden recognised Harry’s voice. “That only means that someone killed Ron on purpose,” he hissed.
Hayden, head spinning with all the memories that had flashed in his mind, shook his throbbing head, as if this would help him get rid of the headache. He opened his eyes slowly and shot up from his lying position, startling the old woman who knelt beside him. Her hand clutched to her chest in a moment of shock.
Dumbledore walked with McGonagall to the door, their backs turned towards the room, as they spoke in a low whisper. McGonagall only nodded, her hand clutched to her chest. She looked remorsefully over her shoulder towards Ron’s unmoving body, then back to Dumbledore and nodded again. Dumbledore, turning around to face the room, eyed Cho through his moon-shaped spectacles as he spoke to McGonagall. “Minerva, Michael Corner should be requested to my office as well.”
Hayden held the back of his head, pressing his eyelids together in pain.
“You better come with me, m’dear,” the matron witch suggested.
“I’m fine,” Hayden mumbled without looking up. “Just…give me a minute.”
“Honey, you look worse than you think. Let me help you get up.” She looked back to the headmaster when Hayden refused her help, her face still etched with horror. “What about Mr. Weasley, Albus? There’s not much I can do for him here. We’d better get him to the hospital wing. I need to identify the curse or spell that was used on him.”
Hayden struggled up to his shaky legs, holding on to the table beside him, while the matron witch tried to support him on his arm. “I’m fine, ma’am. Thank you!” he snapped, shaking her hand off as he was feeling a bit nettled.
“Poppy, let him get up himself then. It seems that he’s all right,” McGonagall said.
“Get everybody to their Houses,” Dumbledore ordered. “The classes will be continued tomorrow until further notice.” He turned towards Cho and then to Hayden, but was talking to everybody. “Potter, Miss Weasley and Miss Chang, and—” his eyes lasted for an extra second on Hayden’s.
“—Hayden Mal-Malcolm, sir,” Hayden introduced himself, uncertain about his own lie. Malcolm wasn’t even a surname, he realised too late. He rubbed his neck this time, feeling the pain from a certain angle.
“Hayden… Malcolm,” the headmaster repeated doubtfully. For a moment Hayden didn’t believe that the spell that was protecting his identity would work on Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard. But after a split second, when the old wizard’s eyes softened, he nodded, “Mr. Malcolm. Everyone of you, proceed to my office now,” Dumbledore said. “Potter, you said that Miss Weasley, Mr. Malcolm and you were on your way here when you heard the explosion. Did you notice other witnesses aside from the three of you?”
“No, sir,” Harry half-hissed, the only one who seemed to have quite overcome the primary shock. His hands trembled and he balled them tightly to fists, malice oozed in his voice as he stared directly at Dumbledore with an icy glare. “Just us. Before that, we were with Ron, but he ran ahead to look for Hermione. She’d left lunch so quickly that we got suspicious she might be up to something related to Malfoy. So Ron went after her without waiting for us. When we got here, we found Ron already on the ground, and Cho, she was here…and a few curious bystanders as well,” he explained.
Dumbledore, hands folded behind his back, threw a fleeting look at Cho, who was strangely sweating bullets. But his question was still directed at Harry. “Why did you associate Miss Granger’s unexpected leaving with Mr. Malfoy?”
“Because they’d been strangely and unnaturally cosy this morning at breakfast,” Harry spat, his impatience bursting through. “That’s why we all went looking for her. It was Ron’s idea.”
“Did Ron see them together?” Hayden asked. He had a really bad feeling about the situation.
“Yeah.” Harry shook his head of the memory. “He was really upset, but he never showed it in front of her. He wasn’t his usual self the last couple of days, not the Ron I knew, at least. Dunno, I might be mistaken, though.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Dumbledore seized Cho with a suspicious look. “Miss Chang, what have you been doing in this room with Weasley, before that loud noise?”
“Sir, M-Michael and I, um… we had a little discussion that turned into a terrible argument,” Cho stuttered, averting his eyes. Her arms were clutched around her torso, as though she was hugging herself. Hayden noticed that she was trying to clasp the upper part of her blouse shut where two buttons were missing. “The fight escalated, and he was shouting at me. He grabbed my arms so tightly that I told him to let go because he was hurting me…” Cho swallowed hard, eyes fixating the ground. “Then…between some struggles…I can’t really remember…Ron Weasley burst in.”
“So, Corner did this?” Harry growled. “Did Corner do this to Ron, Cho? Tell me!”
From the corner of Hayden’s eyes, he noticed that McGonagall had transfigured a chair into a white sheet to cover Ron’s body with, then told Ginny, whose hand still held that of her brother’s, to take a seat on a chair. Ginny didn’t move an inch.
Dumbledore eyed Cho, eyes dubious. “Have Weasley and Corner duelled with their wands, Miss Chang?”
Cho’s face was blank. “I-I don’t remember, s-sir. Yes, maybe. But it went so fast. I don’t know anymore.” She stared on Ron’s body, and then away from it, biting on her lower lip anxiously.
Harry strode to her in two steps, gripping her arms to make her look at him. “What do you mean you can’t remember? Bloody Merlin, can’t you see that Ron got killed? Can’t you see that? Who are you trying to protect?” he snarled, shaking Cho.
Cho looked away. “I don’t know what happened. Please Harry, let go.” Tears welled up in her eyes and she started to cry.
“Potter, stop it! STOP IT!” came McGonagall’s yelling voice this time.
Dumbledore somehow managed to make Harry drop Cho with a tiny movement of his head, seeming as though the old wizard used a non-verbal spell. Harry dropped Cho instantly.
“Her bloody boyfriend killed Ron! And she refuses to tell what she saw? Tell us what Corner’s done to Ron, Cho! TELL US!” Harry’s jaw tightened as he threw a furious look at the frightened girl.
“I-I don’t know!” Cho wailed, then more tears ran down her cheeks. “I don’t know what happened. Please, I don’t really know.”
“I’ll get that arsehole,” Harry declared, running towards the door, but Dumbledore stopped him again. Harry tried to struggle against invisible forces, panting in rage and fury. “Whatever happened here, whoever did this to R-Ron, I’m going to get him and…I…let go of me! LET GO!”
“Potter, now stop it!” McGonagall said, though her voice broke in half. She straightened up as she turned her back to Harry to face the rest of the group. “You all heard the headmaster’s order. Proceed to his office now. We will get Mr. Weasley to the hospital wing and get his parents informed.”
Professor Dumbledore put a levitating spell on Ron to make the body hover in midair, the white sheet not covering him completely.
“This…this can’t be!” Hayden spoke very quietly, but everyone else turned around to look at him. He felt all eyes staring at him questioningly. Even Harry had stopped his struggles, but his fiery eyes were focused on Hayden now.
“’Course, this can’t be!” Harry panted out of breath. His eyes fell on his friend’s limb body again. “No, please, not Ron! Not him!”
“Harry, how old are you?” Hayden glared at Harry, who was about to storm off the classroom once the body-binding spell was removed from him. Harry turned around.
“How is that of any relevance?” Harry snarled, questioning Hayden’s sanity. Harry was infuriated, who wouldn’t be in his position? He’d most likely find the murderer of his best mate himself, and get him punished in the cruellest way possible.
“Just tell me!” Hayden snarled back, pressing his lips to a hard line.
“You must have hit your head pretty hard,” Harry scoffed.
“Ron…he…he can’t be dead. And I know, though I can’t promise anything, how to make this unhappen,” Hayden, inhaling deeply, tried to say, his mind racing. He shifted his glance towards Ron. “It’s not his time yet. He…wasn’t supposed to… But I can make it unhappen. You didn’t see how he died. Right, Cho? Isn’t it? You can’t remember!”
“What?” Cho formed the word, but no sound was heard.
“It’s all about deception and memory modification,” Hayden mumbled to himself. There was only one person who was master of those two brands of magic.
His head snapped up, as he walked towards Harry to grasp the collar of his shirt, and shook him. “God damnit! JUST TRUST ME AND TELL ME YOUR BLOODY AGE!”
“Sixteen,” Ginny whispered, answering for Harry, but it was loud enough for Hayden to hear. She spoke for the first time. “He’s sixteen,” she said a bit louder, “and Ron’s sixteen, too, turning seventeen next year in March.” Something in her eyes flickered up to life, and she dropped her brother’s hand.
Hayden nodded quickly. That was all he needed to know. “I-I need to find someone,” he said. “Get Ron to the hospital wing, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
She was looking through him, rather than at him.
If you can’t stand the dragon, stay out of the cave!
Every word he’d said came randomly back to her. Every gesture he’d made, every warm look he’d thrown at her. One by one, slowly climbing the barriers she had put around her heart that caused her to surrender completely. She had provoked him until he would switch back to his being an imprudent, spiteful oaf, because it was easier accepting that everything he’d said wasn’t sincere and a fat lie just to hurt her.
But he didn’t switch back. Instead he was staring now at her with that understanding and compassionate look she’d only discovered very recently, despite everything she had said just to make him feel bad. He had acted hopelessly romantic—even though, and, worse, especially though, it didn’t suit him—just to make her blush, and she repaid it by ignoring him afterwards. And despite her unbearable behaviour he had tried to be witty just to elicit smiles from her when she had felt the most irritated.
At least she had tried fighting.
Her cognitive ability ceased when she launched herself at him, bringing their lips in a crushing beat together. For a moment she didn’t care if her cheeks were soaked with angry tears and that he was the reason for her crying.
“And to your information, I didn’t run away. I’m still here, right?”
“…you’ve agreed to be with me!”
Although Hermione had tried to degrade their fake relationship and their underlying motive behind it, Draco had made the whole thing sound so euphoric…and right. He had managed to counter her own words and used it against her, and even made her smile in the process.
“And now that I’m trying to make it easier for you to bear my presence, you’re totally freaked out.”
“You choose the person you want to be happy with—not that Golden Boy.”
Hermione poured her pure anger, and her frustration, and her hurt into the kiss, mashing her lips harder against his. She hated Draco for responding with eager passion, fuelling her fire, as his hands cup her face, feasting on her mouth. She hated herself for relishing in the feel when her fingers reached up into his hair, and her nails scraping against his scalp.
“We didn’t sign up a contract that binds us together, Hermione. You can back out anytime you want.”
Reluctantly, she dragged her swollen lips away from his to take a breath. He was panting, too. They shared a look with each other, neither of them saying a word. Her eyes drifted shut when he brushed very gently her tear-stained cheeks with his fingers, and then pressing his lips on her forehead.
“If I get kissed like that whenever I upset you, I’d gladly spend the rest of my life driving you mad,” Draco mused, smiling against her forehead. She chuckled with foolish new tears in her eyes, feeling embarrassed and light-headed and at total ease all at the same time.
“Kidding aside,” he said, “Did I upset you? If I did, then I’m sorry. You know what a moronic idiot I am. With my mouth so big I could sing a duet by myself.”
Hermione laughed against his chest, burrowing her face in the warmth of it. Her heart pounding rapidly and blood still boiling with heat, he held her tighter. She could hear his heartbeat pacing up.
After what felt like a long moment spending in each other’s arms, she moved away from him, missing his warmth instantly. She looked into those light-grey irises, and wondered what the hell she had been so worried about.
Draco gave her a smile, before he bent down to pick her robe and her book bag from the ground which she hadn’t notice he’d dropped in the middle of their…well, temporary lapse of sanity? He shouldered her bag and placed an arm around her shoulder as he led her towards the staircase to their next classroom.
From her peripheral view a few yards down the hallway rounding the corner, Hermione noticed a movement. This made her look towards it, as she saw Ginny first, walking sluggishly in her direction. Harry was close behind her, eyes filled with anger and a desperate need to kill. Hermione knew that look too well. And then several people came into view, too.
“Hermione!” she saw Ginny mouthed. Harry held her close to him.
The hair on Hermione’s neck started to stand upright, even though she didn’t know yet what had actually happened.
In one terrifying moment she saw him. She saw a motionless, limp body hovering in midair, as Dumbledore led it with his wand. She didn’t see his face because of the white sheet that covered him, but she recognised those flaming red hair that stuck at one end because the sheet didn’t cover his entire frame completely. His big hands and feet—she recognised those shoes—were hanging limply at the sides.
“Oh, but…what…h-happened?” Hermione stuttered, unable to make her mind work. Then she took in all the details when the group of people approached her.
Ginny’s pained-looking yet determined face; Harry’s hate-filled eyes; the remorse drawn on McGonagall’s face; sorrow on Madam Pompfrey’s, and misery on Dumbledore’s; and there was Cho somewhere in between, looking anxious and… something Hermione couldn’t point out.
Hayden, who paced faster than the others, threw Dumbledore a last glance as though asking for permission, then started running towards the staircase. He halted as if not knowing where to go exactly, before deciding to run upstairs.
Everything, or maybe nothing, clicked together, and yet, it didn’t make sense to Hermione. But before her mind could react, her body was already responding. Coldness shot through Hermione’s whole body, and she couldn’t move; she felt her knees weakening by every breath she took—rapidly, quickly. There were strong arms that prevented her from collapsing on the hard ground.
Harry drew his wand and pointed it at her direction, bellowing, “Let go of her, Malfoy, or you’ll bloody regret it!”
“Hand it over, Hayden! That isn’t a toy! You’re not supposed to play with wands, you know that! I know how eager you are to learn real magic—” she was glaring at him with her eyes wide in shock, a hand stretched forward. However well-practiced her strict façade was, her kind-hearted side, still, hated having to scold him. But in cases like this, his mother would react differently.
Why did she always have to be so overprotective? Why didn’t she understand his longing for real magic?
“—but you’re too young, and magic can be dangerous when done improperly!” Her face shifted to panic when he refused to oblige. She would try again; talk some senses into her obstinate little son. “Look, honey, you can’t go accepting wands from strangers. You don’t know the person, what intentions he or she might have in giving it to you. A responsible and sane grown-up would never give a wand to a little child…” she trailed off, shaking her head.
She was partly talking to herself, for a moment she seemed thoughtful. Then panic came back to her, and her hand moved closer. The only thought that would be running through her mind right now was who of all people gave her son a dangerous wand, someone who would wish him harms. “Y-You have to give that to me before you get yourself hurt.”
“No! It’s mine!” He took a step backward, his light eyebrows furrowed together angrily. If he really wanted to keep the wand, he would have to convince his mother. “Mum, why can’t you just trust me? I can do this! Look, I’m the only kid my age you know who can control magic like this. I’ve never exposed my magic in front of a Muggle, otherwise Naomi would’ve known already that I’m a wizard. Right? I’m bored of practicing with my bloody toy wand! I’m bored of being overly protected by you! I’m not a damn baby anymore!”
She was taken aback. “You’re rather acting like one! And I told you to stop cursing, young man!” She pointed a finger at him, face fiery with anger. “Hand over the wand—NOW! Or else I’ll call your father!”
“What, can’t you deal with me by yourself?” he retorted, angry tears dangling in his eyes. “Then what? Have him spank me?” he scoffed, clutching his wand tighter behind his back. “Do you think I’m scared of Draco? He wouldn’t even notice even if I put my hair on fire and call for him.”
His mother flinched at the tone he used on her, and he sensed by looking at those glassy brown eyes, how much pain he was causing her. But why could he not help it? Why was his temper stronger? He knew she didn’t like it when he called his father by his name, or curse in the house, or be reckless, but still he did all these just to provoke her. Was a wand and doing real magic worth all this, to make his mother hate him for being so disobedient? It was the punishment for her for treating him like a child, like a baby. He would prove her what a great wizard he was. She had no idea.
“Hayden, sweetheart, your father loves you! Merlin knows he does,” she pleaded. She made another cautious step forward, hand extended towards him. “Look, we can talk this out, but first, you have to give me the wand.”
“No way!” he said, lips forming to a pout. If she treated him like a baby, then he would act like a baby. “I’ll keep it. It’s mine. You only forbid playing with your wand, or Draco’s. But there were no exemptions to accepting wands from others.”
“Strangers, Hayden!” she shrieked, flabbergasted. “Didn’t I tell you to never accept things from strangers? Whether those were sweets, or toys…”
“But you never mentioned wands,” he reminded her matter-of-factly.
“Wands in particular! You were not supposed to use magic until you go to Hogwarts!” she scolded him, frustrated. “How hard is it to wait a few more years?”
He was impatient. He was eager. Just the feel of tickle in his hand... The magic was building inside him, causing his wand arm to tense.
Just let mummy see what a skilful wizard he was, maybe then she would understand.
Maybe then she would practice real magic with him from now on. That would be awesome.
The wizard in the park was right. It was hard to convince mummy about the wand. How did he know that, as though he knew her?
What was the spell he taught him? Avada…
“Fine!” She turned around, for a moment he believed she’d surrendered. But what he couldn’t see was that she drew her own wand. And then she called, with such a quick movement towards him that Hayden didn’t see it coming, “Expelliarmus!”
The wand in his hand flew in a high bow into his mother’s hand. Hayden’s jaw dropped.
It was too late for him. He missed his chance.
Fury built inside of him, and he ran towards his mother to box with his fists against her legs and sides. He grasped her around her waist and stared angrily up at her when she held her arm with the wand high so that he couldn’t reach it.
“Argh! NO! GIVE IT BACK!” he cried. She snapped the wand in two pieces. Hayden’s eyes grew wide in mortification. He shouldn’t have missed his chance.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, and he shrugged it off. “Hayden, it’s only for your safety!” she said serenely through her tears. Of course it was painful for the mother to see her child raging like this, and not being able to do anything about. After all, he had grown to get everything what he wanted, he just needed to yell and throw fits. At least that’s how it worked on Draco.
SAFETY! He hated this word! He would let her see him do real magic.
There was always next time.
He staggered on his feet, glared at his mother fierily, and yelled from the top of his lungs, “I hate you! I HATE YOU! You and Draco, I hate you!”
And then he heedlessly stormed off, leaving his mother behind.
Maybe that wizard in the park would provide him with another wand.
Next time he would be prepared. And then he would show his mother…
(A/N: I should probably add that ickle Hayden doesn't know what the killing curse is. The man in the park only told him that it's a powerful spell to impress his mother with.)
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