Chapter 12 : Chapter 12 ~ The Truth of Some Things
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Chapter 12 ~ The Truth of Some Things
Classes started bright and early the next day and everyone groaned as they dragged themselves out of their warm and comfy beds. Even Hermione wasn’t anxious for classes to start. To her dismay, the first class she had was Transfiguration. She hoped that maybe break would have calmed Professor Mirtac’s rudeness some, but when she left breakfast and accompanied Draco to class she received a glare the moment her foot stepped through the doorway. Hermione’s whole body stiffened and Draco wrapped his arm around her for a second. The class itself that day was a waste of time, important sure, but to Hermione a waste. They spent the entire class going over a theory, one that Hermione had read before and had memorized. She wrote a couple notes and then doodled on the corners of her parchment. Draco raised his hand, got the answers right and then praise from their professor and Hermione let him because she would not be appreciated.
The moment the bell went off, she wanted to race of out the room but restrained herself. Instead she stayed by Draco’s side and was met by a surprise at the door. Derek was leaning against the wall beside the wooden door with his book bag slung over one shoulder, looking quite dashing. Hermione smiled. Judging by the titters coming from girls in the corridor, Derek was a bit of a heartthrob. This was what had surprised Hermione at the party. He had taken interest in her and seemed to genuinely want to hear about her and listen. As she walked out of the classroom and towards him, he pushed himself off the stone and smiled at her. Draco, however, fell back and she heard him mumble something incoherent before walking away. Hermione turned to say that he didn’t have to leave, but he was already too far into the crowd.
“Hello” Derek’s voice said silkily behind her.
“Hi” she replied breathlessly.
He grabbed her bag and added it to his loaded shoulder. Girls were staring and whispering about how Hermione Granger was getting this attention, but she did her best to ignore it. As he walked her to her next class, they talked of their classes and how they hoped they would be compared to last semester, especially since they had their final tests. Occasionally as Hermione spoke, Derek would have an odd expression cross his face but it was only fleeting. They reached the doorway and as he said “later” he also kissed the top of her hand. She blushed and walked into class.
The rest of the day passed relatively peacefully and Hermione found herself thinking about Derek. At the end of the day, he found her again and sat with her at dinner. Everyone had a reaction of course; Ron fumed (for no reason), Ginny turned up her nose, Harry looked surprised and also relieved, but Draco’s was the most confusing. He walked in with Blaise, saw her next to Derek and then for the first time in weeks, he went to sit at the Slytherin table. Hermione couldn’t think of why he would be so effected by this and hoped she would get a chance to talk to him. Then she remembered it was Quiddich night for him. She sighed and enjoyed her time with Derek. Once dinner was finished, Derek walked her up to their dormitory and bid her good night at their separate doors. She felt almost giddy as she walked through her door and went to grab more books to go study.
Hermione made her way up the staircase and up to her usual spot on the second level of the community room. A part of her really hoped that Draco would show up tonight so they could talk. Sure enough she soon heard footsteps coming up the staircase from the archway with a snake over it. But, when he appeared, he glanced up to where she was sitting and then sat at their old spot. This stung. She made her way down and stood in front of him.
“Why are you avoiding me?” She demanded.
The thought that he was maybe a little jealous crossed her mind, but she doubted it was a romantic kind of jealously. He was probably just hurt because their friendship might change due to her now dating someone.
“I’m not avoiding you… You’re dating that guy and I decided not to get in the way.”
“In the way?” She said confused. “You’re my best friend. I actually wanted you two to meet because I value your opinion.”
He stared at her for a minute and his expression changed. He sighed,
“Alright. Like I said, I’m here for you no matter what. But… I won’t force myself to like him if I don’t.”
He sat there in the community room with Hermione across from him as usual, not believing what he had just said. Draco had agreed to meet her date and be there for her. This would be torture, but he was doing it for her. She considered him her best friend and he wasn’t about to hurt her by leaving. He loved her too much for that. This girl was making his life better and worse at the same time. All through dinner Blaise had pitied him, which Draco hated. Yeah, he felt like crap and yes, it really stung to see Hermione with that Derek guy. The only comfort he took was that he was going to make it his personal mission to find out as much as he could about Derek and make sure he was good enough for Hermione.
They studied until around 11:30pm and then Hermione gathered her stuff and went to bed. Seren, who was beyond happy to be back and have complete freedom, got up from her spot between him and Hermione and jumped up onto his lap. Her furry little face stared boldly right into his eyes and then after a second she laid a paw on top of his hand. Of course she knew his emotions about Hermione. He let a chuckle escape and sighed as he rubbed the top of her head.
“What would I do without you?”
She purred and chirped at him then stretched and started slinking off to the Slytherin dorm. Draco picked up his books and followed her, all the while thinking about how he was going to survive being around Hermione when he was reminded every second that he couldn’t have her.
The next morning, Draco was unceremoniously woken up by Blaise who had thrown a pillow at him, just for the hell of it. He rolled out of bed and splashed some water on his face to wake himself up.
“So… are we sitting at the Lion’s den today or…?” Blaise left his sentence hanging.
“Yeah, I told Hermione that I’m here for her no matter what. And… she wants me to meet her new guy.”
“Are you serious? She really has no idea how you feel?”
“No, she knows I care about her, but she’s under the impression that its compassion not love.”
“That’s not right! So you’re going to hang with her and this guy?”
“Well not when they’re together, but I’ll still study with her and we still have detention.”
Draco didn’t give him any more time to speak. He grabbed his bag and then raced down the stairs and out their dormitory door. For a moment he considered waiting to see if Hermione would join him, but then decided against it. He wasn’t up for that torture this early, he’d wait until he was actually at breakfast before beginning his own torment. He trudged into the hall and saw Hermione sitting with HIM. Mustering his inner “friend,” he continued on over to where they were sitting and stepped in front of them across the table. Hermione and the other looked up at him,
Derek was eyeing him and apparently sizing him up. Draco did the same.
“Derek this is Draco Malfoy. Draco this is Derek Relantey “
Draco nodded and he received one in return. Draco then sat down across from them and tried not to let the monster inside him, that had erupted, make any sort of move. They all eventually managed to fall into a conversation about class topics and teachers. One thing that was in agreement between the three of them was that Professor Mirtac was a piece of work. Soon they headed to class and Hermione had one of the few lessons they shared with Ravenclaw, meaning Derek stayed with her. Draco watched them walk away together and his inner ropes, holding the monster at bay, snapped a little. He let out a snarl and walked to his next class, not paying attention to anything.
After lunch, classes went by in a blur and all Draco could think about was Hermione. At dinner, he decided not to sit with her, but stopped and said “hi.” She seemed disappointed that he wasn’t staying, but too distracted to notice for long. He hoped that this guy treated her alright, because if he didn’t… Well, Draco wouldn’t have it. That night he spent time reading on his bed instead of going into the community room. The next day, again, gloomily went by in a blur and soon it was time for Astronomy. This class he had with Hermione and they were partners. She was already lying on the floor looking at the starry ceiling when he sat down beside her. As he looked at her, she smiled and then gave him a look,
“Well you’ve been acting a little weird.”
“Your new arrangement is taking some getting used to… Is he treating you well?”
He blurted out. Draco couldn’t help but let a little of his feelings show through.
“Yes, he is. You don’t have to worry.”
Draco seriously doubted that, but he nodded to her and they went about their project. He always loved looking at her during this class because as she looked up at the stars through the glass, he would stare at her, her eyes sparkling with the little flecks of light. So tonight, he spent half his time scribbling what he was supposed to on his parchment and the other half taking in all of Hermione. At one point he saw Blaise looking at him, Blaise rolled his eyes and made a gagging motion. Draco flipped him off.
Things were almost normal that night. Draco had his time with Hermione in class and then he walked her back to their shared dormitory doors. Derek hadn’t made an appearance, so nothing got in the way of easy conversation between the two of them. After he bid Hermione goodnight and gave her a quick and heart-wrenching hug, he went to his bed and picked up the frame with the three pictures she’d given him as a gift. They were so happy and healed in these pictures. How could she NOT see what they had and what he felt for her?
Hermione woke up on Thursday morning feeling quite well. Last night had been such a great night being with Draco in class and walking back to the dorms like they usually did. She was enjoying her time with Derek, but something about spending time with Draco made her feel completely at ease. At breakfast, she sat with Derek and Draco came over afterwards to accompany her to class. Neither guy seemed to like the other but hadn’t said a word, probably for her sake.
As Hermione entered the Transfiguration classroom, Professor Mirtac summoned Draco over. He walked over and Hermione continued to her spot. She was just pulling out a piece of parchment when she caught a few words from her vile teacher.
“I’m concerned that your partner may be holding you back. I would be more than willing to pair you with someone more successful and driven if you wanted.”
Her hand froze. Her professor thought she was unsuccessful? Had this woman lived under a rock the last 3 years? Hermione had helped Harry defeat dark wizards and Voldemort.
“…You have improved greatly this year and I hate to say it, but some of this just may have to do with blood. She is only a muggle born after all.”
Tears slid down her cheeks.
“Excuse me professor but Hermione Granger is the brightest person I know besides our old Headmaster Dumbledore. I am perfectly happy with my project partner arrangement. Thank you.”
Hermione had slumped into her chair and was intensely studying the knot in the wood in front of her. She felt Draco sit beside her and squeeze her hand. Their teacher started talking, but she remained intent on studying the desk. As soon as the lesson was done she raced out of the classroom and went to the library. She was settled on her window seat when someone she wasn’t expecting came into view from between the book shelves. Harry leaned against a table just a couple feet away,
“Hi. Are you alright?” He said, sounding unsure.
“I’m fine.” Hermione replied automatically.
“I overheard a little of what she said… I also heard what Malfoy said in your defense.”
Hermione stayed silent.
“Are you and Malfoy still friends? I see that you’ve been spending time with that other guy from Ravensclaw.”
“Yes we’re still friends. Why would you ask that?”
“Nothing. Well, I have to get going, just wanted to make sure you were alright.”
And with that he left. Hermione watched him go and felt confusion. Harry suddenly talking to her, Draco’s behavior and Derek being in her life. She saw the last remaining people from the library leaving and figured it was lunch time, so she joined the line to the hall. At the entrance, she saw Derek looking around and made his way over when he saw her. One look at her face and then he pulled her into a short hug.
“You feeling alright?”
“I’ll be ok… it was Mirtac.”
They sat down and Derek started trying to get her to talk. She replied with answers to his light-hearted questions and told him little anecdotes and memories. That odd facial expression happened a couple more times and she stopped as he spoke,
“You and Malfoy have spent quite a bit of time together haven’t you?”
“Well we’ve had detention and half our classes together, so we became friends.”
“You seem fond of him.”
“He’s my best friend… does that bother you?”
“To be honest, I find it a little odd yes. But it’s fine, as long as you’re happy.”
She nodded. Why did it bother him? He talked lightly through the rest of the meal and Hermione did her best to smile and react appropriately. The remainder of the day dragged on and by the time dinner came around, Hermione wanted to drop to the floor and not move. She skipped dinner and went right to the room for their first detention since being back. Dropping her bag under the table as she did last semester, she then slid down and slumped against the wall. Right on time, Draco walked in but upon seeing her he darted over and knelt in front of her.
“You skipped dinner. Did something else happen?”
“Come on… I know you better than that.”
“I’m having guy problems. Harry, You and Derek, you’re all idiots.”
“Gee thanks. What did I do or do I need to apologize for the whole race of men?”
Hermione sighed and looked up at him. He offered a hand and pulled her to her feet and right into a hug. Kissing the top of her head, she heard him whisper,
“I hope things get better and I’m here if you want to talk.”
An odd feeling stirred in Hermione, but she couldn’t place it. They began working on the box they’d left off at before the holidays and soon time was passing. Suddenly Hermione couldn’t hold it in anymore.
“Why does my friendship with you bother them? Harry and Derek both. Harry can’t get past his damn prejudices and Derek, well my only guess is he’s threatened or really doesn’t like you. But they never say their true reasons. Oh and then there’s professor Mirtac who doesn’t think I’m very successful and you should be partnered with someone else. I’ve been through hell, but apparently I’m not allowed to show any sign that events got to me… Being tortured wasn’t enough? Now I have to hide anything I feel about it and hide the fact that my family doesn’t want me anymore… Why do I even try? I should never have come back to school.”
There was a pause.
“I’m glad you came back.”
That was all he said, but it eased her emotions from her rant. This is why he was her best friend. She didn’t have the energy for more words and she could tell Draco was giving her the space she needed, to say or not say anything that was on her mind. The cat chimed and they walked back to the tower. Right before they parted, he reminded her of the first Quiddich game in a couple weeks and urged her to come to watch (because he was playing).
The next three weeks fell into a pattern. Draco would pick certain meals to sit with her and Derek and then was with her during their classes together. The rest of the time seemed to be Derek’s time with her. He was even starting to urge her into studying more and more with him. She hadn’t had time to fly with Draco and she missed that time. Hermione could tell this was hurting Draco somewhat and it made her feel more horrible than she thought it should. She was also really starting to suspect that there was more than just friendship that Draco felt for her. The evening before the first quiddich since being back was going to take place, Hermione was in a corridor with Derek, snogging, when she stopped. He was too eager for this and the progression of what was supposed to happen afterwards. Plus, Hermione didn’t really feel anything when they kissed. Viktor had given her more spark than this and her one kiss with Ron as well. When she pushed Derek back, he frowned at her,
“Why are you pushing me away?”
“I just… I just don’t feel like this right now, ok?”
“You do this often Hermione. I don’t think you ever want this.”
“I’m sorry, but I haven’t been close with anyone in a long time.”
“Save it. Cormac said you were just a tease and I wouldn’t get anything from you.”
Hermione blinked. Cormac? Derek was friends with Cormac McLaggen? How had she missed this?
“Excuse me?” was all she managed.
“He told me you lead him on and then dumped him. You also do nothing but talk about Malfoy… I think you feel something for him. Are you just toying around and leading me on as well?”
“What? Malfoy? No! And I’m not leading you on – “
“You’re not the girl who everyone talked about in the time of the war. You’re not outstanding or strong. You’re timid and won’t even give me a chance.”
Then he turned without another word and just walked away, leaving her in the corridor alone and feeling as though she’d been punched in the stomach. Somehow her feet got her back to the tower and she went to the community room without any real intention of anything. She didn’t notice that Seren was there with Draco, she just walked straight past them and up to the second level. As she sat down and went to brush the hairs out of her face, she felt wetness. This whole time she had been crying and wasn’t paying attention.
“Hermione? Whats wrong? Did Ron do something? Or Derek.”
At the name of her ex… she flinched and this gave Draco his answer. He clenched his hands and Hermione heard the sound of knuckles cracking. He knelt in front of her and grabbed her hands with his,
“Hermione. Did he hurt you?”
“Not physically… Draco, I’m not enough for anyone! No one accepts me except you. Harry doesn’t really, Ron certainly not, my parents don’t and now Derek I’m not sure about. Why doesn’t anyone love me for who I am?” Hermione blurted, her last words coming out with a sob.
Draco looked at her and started to say something but then stopped himself. Hermione was too upset to press him any further. He shifted and as Draco stood up, Hermione felt him tighten his grip for a second and kiss the top of her head. Again, in her stomach, Hermione felt the odd sensation and a sense of calm washed over her. She was aware of him scooting in next to her and taking out his wand. Little flowers began to fall into her hands – violets and other small flowers. She smiled slightly.
“You’re still coming tomorrow… right?” He asked from beside her quietly.
She looked at him.
“Your quiddich match? Of course I’m coming.”
“Great! Astoria offered that she would come sit with you if you’d like, since Blaise and I are both in the match.”
Hermione thought of the offer for a second. Luna would be commentating so she would be all alone. She nodded to Draco,
“Could you relay my acceptance to her and I’ll wait for her outside the main entrance?”
They talked for a bit longer about little things and nothing in particular, then Hermione gathered herself and went back to her room. She was exhausted from the day and past weeks, but her body refused to fall asleep. Instead, she lay for the next couple hours thinking about everything she had endured during the war and trying to figure out what people expected her to be like. Wasn’t she allowed to break a little after everything?
Saturday morning everyone was hustling and bustling around for the Quiddich match between Slytherin and Ravenclaw. Hermione wasn’t super interested in the actual game of Quiddich, just flying, but Draco was playing and she had promised she’d be there. Another reason she wasn’t fond of going to this game was because Derek was on the Ravenclaw team. When she entered the Great Hall, two things were noticeable to her; Draco and Blaise were at the Gryffindor table and Derek was sitting with his team at their own house table. This suited Hermione just fine. She wasn’t really sure of the state their relationship was in after Derek’s outburst and not having the energy to deal with it, she just stayed away from him. Luckily it was a game day, so people were more focused on that than they were of how a relationship was going.
Draco and Blaise got up a little before everyone else to go get themselves ready. Hermione bid both good luck and gave Draco a hug. To her surprise and relief, Astoria didn’t wait to meet her at the pitch, instead she walked over and joined Hermione at the table.
“Hi Hermione. How are you?”
“Hi Astoria, I’m good.”
“Blaise said you haven’t hung with them as much and I’ve noticed that Ravenclaw sitting with you. Are you dating?” she questioned.
“Well, we were, but he had a bit of an outburst with me last night so I’m not sure now.”
“I see. I’m sorry if you’re upset from it.”
Hermione gave her a weak smile and took a sip of pumpkin juice. She finished her one piece of toast while Astoria munched on an apple slice before they got up and joined the crowd walking down to the pitch. Hermione listened as Astoria talked about Quiddich and Blaise’s plan for after school with the sport. Hermione could see why Blaise liked her so much and why they worked well together. She hoped that someday she would find a similar match with someone for herself. When they reached the pitch, Astoria didn’t even pause and headed to the Gryffindor cue near the commentator’s box. Luna saw both of them and waved before getting back to setting up her stuff. Everyone loved Luna’s commentary because she always added in bits of random facts and trivia as well as gossip about the players, which occasionally got her scolded by McGonagall.
Soon the match was about to begin and Luna started speaking the player’s names as they zoomed around the field. As Blaise and Draco passed, Blaise waved and Draco gave them a lazy two finger salute. Both girls smirked at each other and waved at the boys. A very different reaction happened when Derek passed her. Hermione knew he’d seen her because a slight frown crossed his face. Shrugging it off, she went back to watching Draco. He was the Seeker for Slytherin, which meant his only object of the game was to find the golden flying snitch and catch it before the other team’s Seeker did. Thankfully, Derek was the Keeper for his team and that meant he never left the goal posts.
Both teams were assembled on the ground of the pitch, standing on either side of Madame Flickess, the new flying coach. The captains of each team, Blaise and Derek, were required to step forward and shake hands. Hermione could tell there was immense tension between them and could tell it was more than just game emotions. She wondered what it was. They mounted their brooms and were off. Hermione tried to keep up with understanding all of Luna’s commentary, but was soon lost in just watching Blaise, but mostly Draco, zoom around. An hour into the game, Slytherin was up by sixty points at 110-50. Suddenly Draco, who was hovering slowly around the field at a higher altitude, dove and began weaving in and out of other players. It took the Ravenclaw Seeker a couple seconds to catch on before he too was speeding after Draco.
The Seeker’s flew in between players, goal posts and the stadium columns themselves in pursuit of the tiny snitch. Both players disappeared outside the pitch and the whole pitch seemed to quiet, even the players on the field weren’t putting much effort in to scoring. There was another moment of silence and then a cheer erupted from the other side where all the Slytherin’s were sitting.
“Slytherin’s Keeper, Draco Malfoy, who is a very good person now I’ll have you all know. His heart has changed and he is –“
“Right, sorry Professor, Malfoy has caught the snitch. Slytherin wins!”
Cheers from a third of the pitch grew in volume and Draco had his hand raised in the air and he flew over to where they were sitting, closely followed by Blaise. Hermione waved at Draco and gave him a thumbs up which got him to chuckle. He nodded his head to down below, signaling her that he’d meet her out at the entrance of the pitch. She waited a bit and then began to make her way towards the exit alone since Astoria had jumped on the back of Blaise’s broom. By the time she’d make it down to the main entrance, almost everyone was on the path back to the castle. She waited by the doors and was finally joined by Draco who scooped her up into a hug that lifted her off the ground slightly. She smiled.
“What’d ya think?” he asked with a smile.
“You’re a good flyer, but I didn’t see you actually catch the snitch so I cannot comment on your overall performance.” She said playfully.
He pretended to look offended and put a hand over his chest. But she could see the smirk on his face. Draco then picked up his broom and let it rest over his shoulder as they walked out the doors and onto the path to the castle. They had just fallen into step next to one another when a voice shouted at them.
“Hermione! A word.”
It was Derek. He was alone, but that didn’t make Hermione feel any better, only Draco being with her did. She stopped and he soon caught up to them. Draco hovered just behind her and pretended to look out over the hillside.
“About the other day, I didn’t mean to have such an outburst. I guess I wasn’t having the best day and it came out in that moment. I’m willing to give us another shot but I have a condition.”
“Ok… what is it?” she replied uncertainly.
“I’ll give you and “us” another shot, but you can’t hang around with him anymore.” Derek said and very obviously pointed at Draco.
Draco’s head snapped around and glared at him. Hermione couldn’t believe her ears. Here she thought he was going to be a decent person and apologize, but instead he only did that to have another chance to get with her and made unreasonable demands. Give up her best friend for someone who had already crossed a line with her. She wasn’t having that at all.
“No. I will not stop hanging out with Blaise and Draco. Draco is my best friend and you cannot dictate who I see and don’t see.”
Derek glared at her.
“I knew it was a slim chance that you’d actually listen… Well I’m done with you then. He’s scum and you’re weak if he’s the only person your friends with. I’d say I’m sorry I can’t be with you, but you weren’t giving anything to me that I wanted anyways, so I guess I’m better off. Get a life Granger, you’re rather pathetic.”
Hermione’s blood turned to ice and she felt hot in the cheeks as her body went cold. But before the feelings hit her fully from what he had said, Draco stepped forward and punched Derek in the face before pushing him away.
“You stay away from her, you disgusting lowlife. She deserves better than you!”
Derek blinked from the pain and as he staggered to his feet he muttered,
“Deserves better… from who? You? Yeah I can see how far that’s gotten you. She’d doesn’t deserve anyone at this point. She probably would’ve been better off if she’d died in the war.”
Hermione’s breathing stopped. Vaguely, she was aware that Draco’s hand swung and struck Derek again, this time knocking him out cold. She heard heavy breathing and figured it was Draco because she was pretty sure she still wasn’t able to breathe at all. People were so cruel and she didn’t see the point in trying. Her knees gave way and hit the hard ground, arms falling to her sides limply. Hermione then suddenly found herself being lifted and floating up the path back to the castle. She could feel his firm chest against her side and she tilted her head to lean on his shoulder.
When Hermione became aware of her surroundings, the first thing she noticed was that they were nowhere near the dormitory tower. Instead, Draco was carrying her down a very different corridor. A door opened to their right and the view of the hospital wing was presented.
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