Chapter 2 : Enemies.
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You’re not a judge, but if you’re gonna judge me,
Well, sentence me to another life.
- Ignorance by Paramore.
“I can’t believe they made him Head Boy. Sure, Harry Potter didn’t return to Hogwarts this year, nor did Ron Weasley, but I’d think that anyone would be a better choice than a death eater”, complained a Ravenclaw girl within Draco’s hearing range, who, in turn, almost flinched at the term ‘death eater’.
“I know right!”, drawled her friend in an even higher pitched voice, if that were possible. “I totally thought that Neville Longbottom would have gotten Head Boy. Apparently he was so brave in the battle. Just think of the poor Hermione Granger, if I were her, I would be terrified of living in a dorm alone with Malfoy. She’s muggleborn after all.”
The Ravenclaw girl gasped at her friend’s words. Whereas Draco wasn’t sure whether he was amused or taken aback by their chatter. He sighed. They didn’t even know him, for crying out loud. Then again, they mustn’t know Granger very well either, by the sounds of it. Her being afraid of him? Yeah, right. The next thing she’ll do is forget her homework and get expelled for setting the Library on fire for reasons unrelated to saving the world.
“Do you think that he would try to hurt her?”
“Of course he’ll try!”, her friend sneered, “This is Malfoy, Libby.”
Draco gritted his teeth, buttering his toast harder than necessary. Must they really be so… judgemental? After all, weren’t Ravenclaws supposed to be smart and open minded? Clearly there was something that went wrong with them two. Or maybe that Hat had begun malfunctioning. By all means, it was old enough.
“But Hermione Granger is the smartest witch her age!”, the Ravenclaw girl, who apparently was called Libby, exclaimed eagerly, her voice raising even higher. Merlin, next thing they’ll know she’ll be mistaken for a bloody rat. At least she got something right. “She’ll sure have all sorts of wards around her!”
Draco contemplated this in detached interest, whereas Libby’s friend snorted unattractively. He hadn’t actually given much thought regarding this, then again, he hadn’t planned on breaking into her room anyway. Not that he could, seeing that she appeared to have disappeared completely since the banquet. “True, but I’ve heard from Kelly, who heard from Ashley, whose boyfriend is in Gryffindor, that she isn’t acting herself at all. That’s why she returned to Hogwarts; she had a huge fight with the Weasely family and now they refuse to talk to her.”
“Really?”, squealed Libby, her eyes lighting up at the gossip. Draco couldn’t blame her, being intrigued by this – although mostlikely false – piece of information also.
Unfortunately, the two Ravenclaw girls’ voices mixed in with the rest of the chatter in the Great Hall, the rest of the conversation remaining unknown by Draco. He sighed, throwing the half-buttered toast on to his plate with more force than necessary. Not that it bothered anyone; no one was sitting within a three meter radius of him anyway.
Surprisingly, this didn’t bother Draco. In fact, it almost relieved him. He never liked having all those people cling to him, knowing that they only liked him for his last name. Funny, considering that that very name had brought him where he was today; shunned and friendless, with a suitcase full of regrets.
Draco sighed, his mind returning to the conversation he had overheard. He dismissed the part about Granger and the Weasely’s immediately. There was no way they’d turn away from her; it was properly one of the infamous arguments between Weasel and Granger, rather than all of them. Nothing new then.
Still, Draco couldn’t help but scan the Gryffindor table for the bushy-haired know it all, a little bothered when he found that she wasn’t sitting with Weaselette, Lovegood and Longbottom. He forced himself to drop it; she was properly in the Library or who knows where she had been for the past fortnight. Besides, who was he to mingle with her life? He had done enough damage to her.
Despite thinking this, Draco couldn’t help but recall the night of the Start-of-the Year banquet, when she had watched him with that emotionless expression. Too emotionless. Furthermore, it did bother him that he hadn’t seen the Gryffindor princess despite the fact that they were sharing a bloody dorm – McGonagall had decided that there would not be any Prefects meetings just yet. They didn’t even have a meeting in the train, as per usual. Not that there was in need of one; no one had bothered for any mischief and Draco didn’t think anyone would anytime soon, if ever.
In moments like this, Draco couldn’t help but wish that the Weasely twins still were around. They could’ve undoubtedly lifted the appaling spirits of the school. Not that he would have ever admitted that before the war, but he actually quite liked them. How couldn’t he?
Draco shock his head of his thoughts, just as the four Head of Houses called out “Timetables!” Promptly, a piece of parchment levitated before of Draco’s face. He unrolled it, proceeding in blinking confusedly as his mind tried to understand the writing. It seemed, he wasn’t the only one, as around him, students voices questioned the time table also. Draco suppressed a groan as he realised what the time table meant. Being Headboy and all, couldn’t anyone have given him a warning at least?
“Good Morning students”, Professor McGonagall greeted them, still standing at the head of her house table, her voice magically magnified to be heard around the Hall. “As you undoubtedly have already noticed, unless you are a first year, this year’s classes have changed. The staff and I have decided it appropriate to introduce you to a different class setting.”
As she had done yesterday, she studied the room before her, this time with an unreadable expression on her face. “Please allow yourself an open mind. In Hogwarts, your house is your family. This does not mean that your house is any better than any other.”
Draco had to give her credit for not looking accusingly over to his house table. He had a hard time himself to refrain from raising an eyebrow at the people around him. The only thing that kept him from doing so, in fact, was the fact that he had done worse than they could have ever thought possible in the war.
And now he had to live with it.
Needless to say, it wasn’t working out so well.
“Enjoy yourselves!”, the headmistress finished, a rare smile on her face, surprising quite a few students in the hall, but for some reason Draco almost expected it. He turned his eyes away from her, instead looking through the remaining professors. They looked excited, even more so than usually on the first day of school. They really were looking forward to this. Being back at school? It was as if nothing had happened. Everything was normal. But, Draco couldn’t decide whether he found that a good thing or not. Was it really acceptable to just pretend that there hadn’t been hundreds of dead bodies spread through this hall? That the wizarding world wasn’t in utter chaos? Admittedly, Kingsley Shacklebolt was doing quite a good job as the new Minster. The best Draco had ever seen.
Draco’s eyes seeked out those of of Nymphadora Tonks’, his cousin and new professor of Defence sitting only a few chairs from McGonagall. She wiggled her eyebrows at him, her eyes changing colours as she did so. She pointed at him and gesturing about while grinning evilly. Draco furrowed his brows in confusion, and looked down at the parchment in his hands once he realised that she meant for him to look at it.
Defence Against the Dark Arts.
“Oh, for the love of Merlin’s bloody pants”, Draco grumbled, looking back up and narrowing his eyes at his favourite cousin. She had her face buried in her arms, but he could see that her shoulders were shaking in badly suppressed laughter. Draco scowled at her, despite knowing that she couldn’t see him. It was then that Professor McGonagall decided to catch his eye. “Socialise”, she mouthed at him, which made Draco’s scowl deepen even further, a fact that he quickly noticed Tonks seemed to enjoy immensely.
Having had enough of day already, Draco stuffed it into his leather bag and left the Great Hall. It was like he was surrounded by people that either hated his guts or tried to get him maimed by said people.
It was just a school day, what was there to fear? Certainly nothing more than what he’d already encountered so far.
How wrong he was.
The duelling room was bare. Completely empty. The desks that usually were scattered around the room were gone, leaving behind enough space to have one mass duel between all students. Which was what people would’ve done, usually. But not now. Not anymore.
Draco stood away from the rest of the students, hidden in the shadows, whereas his fellow classmates stood and talked in groups of twos and threes, curious about the desolate and cold room. Whether he remained alone because they didn’t want his company or were too uncomfortable approaching him, Draco didn’t know. Still, he’d like to think that it was because they couldn’t seem him in the shadows.
He wasn’t betting high on it, though.
“Wotcher everyone!” , Tonks sang as she walked through the doors, towards the middle of the room. While she did so, she grimaced, somehow managing to stub her toe on the floor. Twice.
For some reason, this carried away some of the heavy tension in the room. Then again, it was Tonks he was talking about. No one could keep a straight face around her, Draco only knew too well.
“Alright, gather ‘round”, Tonks instructed, scrutinising the students in the room that were moving towards her, before her eyes rested on the shadowed spot where Draco was standing.
“That includes you, Draco”, she added, grinning. “Because I’m older”
Draco rolled his eyes at her at her choice of words. After the war, his mother and Andromeda, Tonks mother, had done the best to rebuilt their relationship, remarkably succeeding too. From the moment Draco was officially introduced to his cousin, they had hit it off themselves. They had made a point of exchanging silly banters, growing closer every day that they spent together. And, whenever Tonks found herself unable to come up with a good comeback, she would simply say “Because I’m older”, mimicking a screechy voice that belonged to Walpurga Black.
With Tonks, it was so easy to make fun of their ancestor’s insane personalities and beliefs.
Alone… well, that was another matter entirely.
Draco stepped out of the shadows, but only took a few steps towards them, allowing for a large gap between him and the rest of the students. He took care not to look at any of them, instead focusing on Tonks. He could tell that she wasn’t too happy by his lack of eagerness to bond with everyone else, as Minerva undoubtedly was. They’d properly do something about it too, knowing them.
Draco hoped they wouldn’t anytime soon.
“I recognise most of you, but I don’t actually know you all that well”, Tonks glanced at Draco and Ginny Weasely before adding, “except for a few cases.”
“So we’ll play games to introduce ourselves to another”, she exclaimed brightly.
Uncomfortable looks were exchanged through the room, along with a few groans. For once, Draco had to agree with them. After all, they’ve been at this school for seven bloody years – discounting returning seventh years like Draco who have been here for eight years – you’d think they’d know each other well enough.
Draco found it quite sad that he knew that that wasn’t actually the case.
Still, that didn’t mean he wanted to sit around a circle, hold hands and happily share his life story. My name is Draco Malfoy and I’m 18 years old. I’m the reason an army of Death Eaters entered Hogwarts, consequently killing most of your relatives and friends. Oh, and I don’t really have hobbies. I just did what my parents told me. You know, torturing muggle-borns.
Yeah. That would go over so well.
“I haven’t even told me what exactly we’re doing”, Tonks said flatly, causing Draco’s ears to perk up in anticipation. He knew Tonks. So, he knew this would either be something utterly horrible or fantastically brilliant.
Needless to say, he hoped for the second.
“This is Defence”, Tonks stated, her hands on her hips. “You introduce yourself here by kicking your opponents arse.”
Draco’s lips twitched into a slight smile at Tonks’ thinking, before he realised what exactly her first lesson would mean for him.
When you’re hated by the entire school, a free pass to smash your opponents face in, in DADA isn’t exactly the ideal situation. Especially when you had a fading mark of Voldemort on your forearm.
“This is the first class of an entirely new world to you. Make the best of it”, Tonks finished, before she backed off.
Students began to gather their friends to some part of the room to duel. Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw Blaise Zabini walk towards his direction, surprising him. Zabini? In the small amount of time he had spent with him, Draco was fairly certain that he couldn’t possibly hate him that much. That’s when Draco noticed Zabini’s unthreatening demeanour. Heck, he was smiling.
He was shorter than Draco, with dark brown hair cropped close to his head. He looked a little on the scrawny side and his wand was nowhere in sight. From the way he held himself, Draco knew that he wasn’t the type of person to duel someone like him because he was cruel.
And that’s when Draco knew that he couldn’t possible counter anything he threw at him let alone retaliate.
“Come on”, the boy said coldly, walking towards a corner of the room. Draco followed him wordlessly, not before seeing Blaise look at the two of them worriedly. He frowned, baffled, but decided to drop it.
They stood a few feet apart, the boy raising his wand arm in the starting position. Draco just stared at him, not bothering to take his own wand out. It wasn’t like he was going to use it.
The boy looked at him uncertainly for a moment, before his expression closed off.
Anger doesn’t suit him, Draco thought absentmindedly as he watched the motionless boy. Believing that he would not cast a spell until Draco himself had a mean of defence; Draco reluctantly took his wand out of his robes. Hufflepuff’s were too nice for their own good, but Draco could hardly begrudge them that.
That’s what Draco thought at least, before a jet of purple light hit him with the intensity of a spear at light’s speed. So much for Hufflepuff kindness, Draco thought with clenched jaws. He hadn’t uttered a single sound.
Draco opened his eyes which he had closed somewhere through the ordeal, just in time to see Tonks drop to her knees next to him on the floor. Or rather, two Tonks’ both of which looked rather fuzzy and were swaying back and forth. She had her wand ready and was checking the damage done to him. Draco propped himself up by his elbows, ignoring the stabbing pain that almost made him cry out. He was struggling to breathe; his lungs were punctured. Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw that the rest of the students were simply carrying on with their work, although silently and tensed.
You would be able to hear a dropped pin in these conditions.
Upon seeing the look in Draco’s eyes, Tonks dropped her wand. She seemed to be battling with herself before she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. In the short time they got to know each other they learned quick.
“Don’t ignore it”, Tonks said quietly as soon as she opened her eyes. Then she moved away from him.
Draco avoided looking at her. He stood up without aid and quietly left the room.
The world was still muted when the doors shut behind him, but after only a few moments it seemed to recover itself. Noise came blasting back again, starting with Tonks’ sudden furious yells that emitted from the duelling room. Draco squeezed his eyes shut, leaning against the door. He lifted his left hand to the spot of his pain, underneath his robes. Even this small touch hurt immensely.
The shirt he wore underneath his robes was damp. And not from sweat.
Suppressing the pain, Draco moved through the hallway and down the staircases, until he made it to the dungeons, where his next class, Advanced Potions, would be held. Finding himself an empty classroom near his next class, Draco curled up in a corner, not bothering to conjure himself something to allow him some comfort.
Draco didn’t know how long it was until he went to his next class. But, lying alone in the cold room, Draco recalled his time in Hogwarts, including the last year. The people that associated themselves merely because of who his ancestors were. The fake appearance he had to give to keep his family proud and safe. The expectations of things he did not believe in, did not want. The fear that seemed to be engrained into him. And the envy that others had a much better life. Because he was a Malfoy.
And lastly, everything he had done that he could never take back.
In that moment, Draco never felt more alone.
Draco sat alone at the first row of desks, hunched over his potion book, seeming to be deeply concentrated on it. In reality, Draco was hunched over the table and his book because he couldn’t make himself sit up straight enough without appearing seriously injured – something he did not want. Draco knew he shouldn’t be doing this, should be trying to get to the Hospital Wing or whatnot, but he couldn’t make himself. He just couldn’t.
At least, that’s what Draco tried to tell himself.
“I’m afraid that Draco and I will have to miss your lesson today, Professor”, he heard Hermione say calmly. “Head duties, you see”
Slughorn looked up, startled, before looking at a speechless Draco, then back at Hermione.
“Oh, of course, of course”, he said brightly, either too oblivious to see Draco's expression or choosing to ignore it. “What a shame. Go right ahead, my dear and don’t over work yourself!”, his booming laugh filled the room and Draco saw Hermione give him a forced smile before she walked back to Draco, her face unreadable. Only her eyes weren’t.
She was angry. Positively furious.
There wasn't some Head duty he had forgotten, was there? He was sure there wasn't. Then again, Draco didn't know what this was all about so he decided not to question it.
“Let’s go”, she said looking pointedly at the vial and then at Draco, before grabbing his bag and walking towards the door like she did this every day. Draco’s eyes dropped to the vial on his book, and without hesitation he swallowed its contents. The cool liquid rolled down his throat, soothing everything it came in touch with, even if it hadn’t been sore previously. A cool tingling feeling started in his chest, stretching to the tips of his fingers and toes. He could feel his rips mending themselves, his lungs and skin healing. Even injuries he hadn’t noticed before, like a bruise on his arm that tingled also as well as some on his back. Draco straightened up, filling his lungs with air painlessly.
Within seconds, Draco was completely healed, although the tingling feeling in his side, where his ribs, lungs and skin had been damaged, continued to feel cooler than the rest of the body. Grabbing his potions book, Draco jumped off his chair and chased after Hermione, leaving a still struggling Slughorn and a whispering class behind.
As soon as Draco stepped out the door, Hermione pushed herself off the wall she was leaning against and grabbed his wrist, her expression still giving nothing away. Draco didn’t struggle as she led him through hallways after hallways, some of them secret passageways or question what exactly McGonagall wanted them to do. He was too stunned at the fact that she was in his company. Willingly.
After all, he was Draco Malfoy.
Unexpectedly, Hermione let go of his wrist, slamming the door she had just opened for them shut behind her. They were in a classroom that properly hadn’t been used for decades, by the looks of it, but that was all Draco could tell. He hadn’t paid attention were she was leading them to, a mistake he realised only too late.
You’d think his guard would be up rather than down around Hermione, being sworn enemies and whatnot and having tried to take each other down for years. But no, he merely watched as she took out her wand, wordlessly casting spells that made the walls glow bright blue in intricate patterns for a moment. Then she turned back to him.
…And socked him a good one in the jaw.
Draco staggered back in shock more than pain, hands clamped over the spot she had hit him. He stared at her disbelievingly.
“WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!”, she shouted at him then, her eyes alit in rage. Draco didn’t even attempt to answer. He simply continued staring at her with wide eyes as she advanced on him, every step she took forward sending him one step backwards.
Draco had seen Hermione angry plenty of times. Mostly directed at him, of course, but also other things. But, in his entire life, Draco had never seen her like this before.
It physically hurt him to watch, more than that punch could have ever accomplished.
And Draco had absolutely no idea why, as seemed to be happening more often these days.
“You could’ve gotten yourself killed!”, she shrieked. “First you let yourself get thrown across a room and then you just disappear.” The volume of her voice steadily rose as she spoke, working herself up even more. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to find you? How could you be so incredibly stupid and walk around with those injuries?! YOU COULD HAVE DIED!”
“THAT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, GRANGER!”, he burst out. He might have changed, but suddenly being yelled at did bring out the worst in him, he had to note.
“TO HELL IT ISN’T!”, she screamed even louder, but Draco cut her off before she could say anything more.
“WHY DO YOU BLOODY CARE ANYWAY? I’M YOUR ENEMY! MY KIND TRIED TO MURDER YOU! IN FACT, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT I WON’T KILL YOU RIGHT NOW?! MY AUNT CERTAINLY ALREADY WENT FAR IN THAT AREA, DIDN’T SHE?”
As soon as Draco finished speaking, he wished he could take his words back. He knew he had gone too far, could see it clear as day in Hermione’s eyes. Their faces were inches away from each other, and for the first time, Draco caught sight of Hermione from up close. The first time he properly looked at her since the War.
His stomach twisted painfully with guilt as he saw the state she was in. She had dark bruise-like rings around her eyes from lack of sleep. Her face was red from yelling at him, but he could see that she was otherwise quite pale. But, there was also something else in her that made him stop and consider her. It was the look about her, one that he easily recognised. It was one Draco knew only too well, having carried it around for a while now, although not quite as pronounced as hers.
It was the look of someone who is fighting her hardest to refrain from breaking apart completely.
Someone who was holding on to nothing more than a thread.
“Do you really think that I’m your enemy?”, Hermione asked quietly after a moment, the lack of noise sounding strange to Draco’s ears. “Do you honestly think that?”
Draco opened his mouth to respond only to find that he didn’t have the words. Did he? Did he think that? Draco didn’t know. It’s a straightforward question, wasn’t it?
But it was one that he couldn’t answer.
“You’re a coward, Draco Malfoy”, Hermione continued calmly. “Nothing but a bloody coward”
She turned away from him, extracting her wand from her robes again while she walked towards the door. She flicked her wand, promptly negating whatever spells she had used previously as the walls glowed blue once again. It occurred to Draco distractedly that this must have been a strong silencing charm or something of the sort. Hermione stopped in front of the door, her left hand resting on the door handle.
“I believe you won’t harm me”, she said softly, but firmly, “because you don’t belong to them”
And then she was gone.
Draco stepped backwards leaning against the wall behind him, before sliding down to the floor. He put his head into his hands, squeezing his eyes shut tightly.
He was shaking.
This time, he didn’t bother to go to his next class.
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