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Pandora's Box by Midori

Format: Short story
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 12,622
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature,

Genres: Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Ginny
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Draco/Hermione, Harry/Hermione

First Published: 05/06/2006
Last Chapter: 08/19/2007
Last Updated: 08/19/2007

Summary:
The Banner} QOS! Editor} Ducks~ Chapter Images} Anabelle Strik of TDA!

She trapped herself, night after night - a Pandora in anguish, unbeknownst to her friends. Then he was presented, a beautiful box, its contents indefinite. And as she believed all the outrageous deceits, everything else fell to bring about an illusion… a deception. So what does this delicate box have to offer and just where’s the Hope that's to console the misery?


Chapter 1: Pandora
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

AuthorsNote Have I mentioned how much I love Greek mythology? Even though I'm not exactly the best… but I love it just the same anyway. Just a side note, I don’t intend to drag this story… It would probably have a few (hopefully long, but I’m not promising anything. :)) chapters. I hope you’ll still enjoy them though.
And no more annoying Author’s Notes at the top of the page, I promise! This is just a little… information thingy I wanted you all to know before reading. :) & don’t let my ramblings stop you. Read on!


~





Pandora’s Box
Pandora




~




"Harry. Hey, Harry. HARRY!"
"Wha-??"

Harry Potter snapped back to life as I yelled into his ear. His eyes seemed to search the empty common room before turning to me, smiling.

"What were you looking for, Harry?"
It was obvious what he was looking for. At least it was to me.

"Nothing, Hermione, I think you're worrying too much. Why don't you get some sleep? We'll continue studying tomorrow, okay?"

Before I could get a word in edgewise, he had smiled one last time before retreating towards the boy's dormitories.
Huffily, I shut my Arthimancy book and lay back on the sofa I was sitting on.

'He's hiding something.' I thought.
Harry wouldn't go behind my back, would he?

I stared up at the ceiling, as though the answer would float down and parade in front of me. Sighing, I shut my eyes.



~




When morning came, I found myself still sprawled on the sofa.
Hunger throbbed from my stomach as I got up, tugged on my navy skirt and flattened the bushy and wild tresses on my head before heading out.


I tried confronting Harry during breakfast but he had flatly denied everything. I wasn't sure though. If he hadn't been doing other things, why was he so consistently staring into space whenever he was around me?

"You… don't believe me?" Harry's quiet voice cut though my thoughts.
"What? Of course not! I believe you. Look, its just some misunderstanding. Just… ignore what I said alright?"

He had given me a blank look before turning back to his food.

I sighed.
Yes, I must be overreacting. He's Harry Potter for Merlin's sake! Of course he's got a lot to ponder over.

The weight hadn't lifted from my shoulders though. The strange feeling was still harboring within me but it's best to just keep it in.

He did say no after all…



~




The Sixth Year examinations were around the corner. Everyone including, surprise surprise, Harry and Ron were studying. Well, Ron was more of complaining but at least he picked up a book.

Every night after classes, when the sun quietly, slowly slipped down and melted into the horizon, Ginny, Ron, Harry and I would sit together by the couch near the fire. Ginny would frequently ask questions, as she would be taking her O.W.L.S this year. The girl is dead nervous. Biting her nails, grabbing a book every chance she got… Harry was the only one trying to calm her though. I am always trying to memorize something by heart and Ron couldn't be bothered. I really hope I'm not as edgy as Ginny, Ron and Harry
If she continued biting her nails, she'd end up chewing her fingers.

~



Name the third ingredient needed for the Polyjuice Potion.

Searching my mind frantically, I quickly scribbled 'fluxweed' but then stopped. Was it fluxweed? Or was it the shredded skin of a Boomslang? I bit my lip nervously.
I hadn't memorized the Polyjuice Potion by heart! And to think I've had first-hand experience in creating it! Oh, what if I fail??

Around me, the nervous, shrill scratches of quill on parchment were contradictory to the deathly aura surrounding every student. I could see Harry's messy hair two heads in front of me and he was…
He was resting?!!
No way. He couldn't have completed it that fast. Potions was his worst subject! How could he have completed it before me??

Quickly I turned back to my paper and answered the last question as Snape's voice rang out, "Five more minutes! And keep your eyes to yourself, Finnigan!"



"Well, that was easy,"
"Bloody hell, Harry! I think I had at least fifty questions wrong!"
"There were only fifty questions, Ronald!"
"At least forty nine then,"

Our last exam, Potions, had already ended. Students were streaming down to the lake, yelling, laughing, and celebrating. In about a week's time, the Summer Holidays would start and after that, our final year at Hogwarts. It seems too fast, really but perhaps a change in the surroundings wouldn't be so bad.

"Hey guys, when does Ginny's OWLS end?"
"Harry, if you cared more about her, people will start thinking you two are an item!"
At this, Harry rolled his eyes, "Come on Ron. She's your own sister. Your only sister in fact. Show more concern! Besides, Hermione and I are fine, I don't have to run after Ginny,"
I blushed as Ron raised an eyebrow, "You mean you would consider Ginny if you and Hermione aren't an item?"
"Ronald! Drop the subject!" I snapped, the blush still very much evident on my cheeks.


We had returned to the castle at around dinnertime. Ginny, along with the other fifth years, were already in the hall. We settled down beside her as she rushed to tell us about her last OWL, gushing with pride.

"-and I couldn't believe how easy it was! To think I memorized the entire chapter!"

I was chuckling slightly at how bubbly she was and how Ron wolfed down his dinner, stopping only to say a "Congrats," before he resumed consuming everything on his plate.
Harry and Ginny were chatting animatedly as I stared at them.
Ginny seemed a little clingy…
Wait. What am I thinking? Of course Ginny likes Harry. I mean they are friends after all…

Suddenly frustrated at myself, I grabbed my bag and muttered, "I'm going to the library," and left.

Really now. I have to stop getting suspicious of every girl I see.

~



We are pleased to inform you, Miss Granger, that you are this year's Head Girl. The badge is enclosed in the second envelope, along with your Head Girl duties. Do keep it in mind that Mr. Harry Potter is your would be co-partner in maintaining the student body and that you are to go to the Head's compartment at the Hogwarts Express ten minutes before the arrival.

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry


With an excited squeal, I dropped the letter and grabbed the yellowed envelope which the brown barn owl still had tied to its leg.

After a quick scramble, a shining badge with the words, "Head Girl" embedded in it was proudly pinned on the front of my cherry tank top. I flashed a smile at the mirror and pretended to say a speech in a serious way. Well, as serious as I could get in my current mood.

I let out a whooping cry as I burst from my room and thundered downstairs where my parents gave me looks of curiosity. I smiled from ear to ear as I quickly paraded in front of them before puffing out my chest in pride. The very next second, I was smothered in hugs and cries of, "Oh honey!" and "I knew you could do it, Mione!" My smile was getting wider and my cheeks were starting to hurt but I didn't care.

"Oh, and mom, dad, guess what? Harry's going to be working with me! He's Head Boy!"

"Harry?"

"Yes, mom,"

"The boy you're going out with?"

I rolled my eyes as my father's voice took an overprotective tone.
"Yes, dad…"

"Is it safe? Two teenagers in those years, working together in the same quarters?"

"Oh, really now Dad. I'm not that stupid! I'm your daughter, remember?"

I smiled a little as a proud look took over his features.

"Well, yes, yes you are… "

I gave an all out grin and hugged him.

"I'm going to miss you guys… mom, dad. You're going to feel so proud when you see me deliver the end of year graduation speech!" I gave each of them a tight hug before rushing back upstairs.

And now the frenzy begins, I thought as I looked around my room.
Won't Mr. and Mrs. Weasley be swollen with pride when they see me with the badge!



~




"HERMIONE!"

I dimly registered what happened before my luggage was knocked from my hands and a huge hug was thrown my way, complete with long arms covering my face, blocking my vision and thus turning me blind.

"Ron!" I managed between laughs. "It's great to see you too but I can't see!"

I heard one of the twins say, "Yeah Ron… Besides, you're molesting your best friend's girlfriend!"

At this, Ron immediately let go and I tried to suppress my laughter.

"You two sure know how to ruin the mood."

I grinned at Ginny she as appeared at the foot of the staircases, a look of annoyance etched on her face. She was tugging a dark band out of her straight scarlet hair, and as she met my eyes, she immediately looked down and uttered a soft, "Hi Mione," before hurrying into the kitchen. My smile faded a little but I managed to keep it on as I answered with a "Hi Gin!" and a cheery, but half-hearted wave.

It has always been like that since I started going out with Harry.

I would try to start a conversation and she would lax answers, or sometimes avoided my gaze. I had always wondered over her responses. Were they out of hurt? Or out of guilt? I never got a final conclusion but I didn't want one either. Both the answers would still cut me up inside.


As I idled, Ron had hoisted my luggage upstairs. Ron, Harry and I normally shared his much-too-orange room whenever we came round. Harry would be arriving the day after and as I slowly made my way to the kitchen, with Fred and George prodding my back every once so often.


"Oh, hello Hermione dear! Fred, George, stop that this instant! Have you eaten, dear? Here, help yourself! I have eggs, bacon and toast all ready, I'll just get the juice out now," she grabbed her nearby wand and flicked it as a glass settled itself in front of Hermione.

She smiled a little as Molly went around, reprimanding the twins and insisting that she ate more (Look at you! You're a stick! I should really share some recipes with your mother…) and for Ron to bring her bags upstairs for her (Already did, mom) while trying to persuade Ginny to stay in the kitchen (Locking yourself in that room all day. It's a wonder you still respond when you're called).


Sometimes, she thought, a small smile forming on her lips while watching the blissful, family maybe being away from home really isn't so bad…



~




"OhMyMerlin, HARRY!"

I frantically threw my arms around the lean, messy-haired boy as he chuckled a little and returned my hug. Ron grinned and slapped Harry on the back as the twins rang out complaints that Ron had done despicable things to me.
I laughed a little as Harry mock-punched Ron as the latter decided to faint on Fred and George. Before a pillow war could start, Mrs. Weasley came bustling in and shooed Harry to the kitchen where he was made to sit though the ten-course breakfast.


I giggled a little when he tried to get Mrs. Weasley to stop piling food on his plate but all he got was an order to "Eat! You are so thin! Just what have they been feeding you?" before another round of bacon, toast, eggs and beans were topped on his plate. Ron was eyeing Harry's food enviously and as his mother turned around, Harry dumped the entire contents onto a delighted Ron's plate while frantically whispering, "I'm just too full!" Fred and George immediately launched into a chorus of "MOM! Ronniekins is being a bad, bad boy!" I suppressed another giggle as Mrs Weasley turned around and exclaimed, "I knew you were hungry! Don't be shy dear! Have some more,"
And thus the viscous cycle continues.

The only one who wasn't participating in the episode was Ginny, who was seated on the other end of the table, moodily stabbing her beans while she rested her head on her palm. I had half a mind to go up to her, but fearing her withdrawal reactions, stayed put and watched her from the corner of my eye. Her elegant hair was simply hanging limp and her eyes held no life. For a brief second, she looked up and met my stare. Her chocolate eyes blinked slightly before quickly glancing at Harry and then back at me. She bit her lip as her gaze fluttered back to her breakfast and continued to glumly stab at it. A wave of guilt flooded me as I watched her.

Of course. Her actions, her sudden withdrawal was because of Harry.
She must have been already heart-broken when Harry and I went out; I was just too blind to realize.
It suddenly made sense why the normally carefree girl would study so hard the past few months before her O.W.L.S. It was the perfect reason for distraction and now that it's over, the mood swings take over. I glanced over at Harry.
I definitely liked him. He's nice, kind, sweet and really thoughtful. But… did I like him as much as Ginny?


I excused myself from the table and trudged back to Ron's room.
I let my thoughts wander as I stared out at the lush greenery and the twittering birds. They dove from tree to tree, flying about, pulling stunts and playing with the others. I let a slow, sorrowful smile appear on my face as I fervently wished a single, simple wish.



~




AuthorsNote: Nyahahaha. Just what is she wishing for? & please don’t tell me you’re asleep. The review box needs you!
Alrighty, heartbreaking day comes in the next chapter. I’m titling it, “Pandora’s Box I” and no, I don’t think it’ll be the last chapter. Well, as far as I'm concerned, anyway.

Wondering where I got the amazing chapter image? Props to the fantastic Anabelle Strik from The Dark Arts!

The review box calls!

Chapter 2: Pandora's Box I
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Pandora’s Box
Pandora’s Box I




~




I walked past the guard huffily as he glared at Hedwig. I found his glower rather annoying. It’s only an owl! Why did Hedwig have to suffer from his hissy looks?

I threw a withering look his way and continued strolling towards the pillar of Platform 9, the Weasleys and Harry a little behind me. Hedwig was staring at the guard with huge, unblinking, round eyes as he sneered at her. Honestly! Has he never seen an owl before?


Mrs Weasley gave each of us a huge hug as we leaned out of the compartment’s windows. Grinning broadly, I reached out to receive the hug as she frantically instructed me to make sure Ron would stay out of mischief and to look after Ginny. The train’s whistle blew as we stuck out our hands for a parting wave and just as the scarlet express train rounded a corner, Mr and Mrs Weasley gave us a final smile and with a faint, “pop” were gone.


“Come on Harry, we have to get going. We’re supposed to arrive earlier than the prefects, remember? Harry?”

He was staring at the carpet beneath his shuffling feet and he mumbled, “Sure… Hermione, I have to tell you something later… alone.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Okay… That’s fine. Ron? Are you coming with us or when the meeting commences?”

He cast a distracted look my way and glanced back at Ginny who was currently fiddling with her fingernails.

“You guys go ahead. I’ll… I’ll see you in a while,” He waved us off and plopped next to Ginny as she looked up at Harry and I, as if wondering what could have caused the grim line to appear on Harry’s lips.


A familiar feeling bristled within me as I held back.
Merlin, what was wrong with me? Jealousy was coursing through my veins yet again.
I thought I was over this!

Biting down hard on my bottom lip, I stiffly marched out of the compartment door with Harry behind me, eyes focusing intently on the carpeted floor of the train.



~




“So…”
Hoping he would take the hint, I let my voice trail off into the wind as I drew the door to the Head’s compartment closed behind me and stared at Harry, trying to capture his eyes.

Shuffling from one foot to the other, he looked more awkward then I’d ever seen him. Gauchely, he wringed his hands and, when he finally met my eyes, hesitated.

“Harry… are you-”
“Hermione.”

That single word alone was able to silence me. Despite the discomfort displayed in his eyes, his voice was anything but. Seriousness reeked out of every syllabus and everything was slowly coming to a standstill before my unblinking eyes while my heart thudded furiously and painfully in my chest.

“Hermione-” he vacillated, “I- I have to tell you something.”

Focusing on his eyes I slowly nodded, signaling for him to continue as my brain fired a thousand reasons while watching his lips move.

“I… I like being with you…” I blinked. I know this speech…
“You’re smart, pretty, reasonable…” Say it! Just say it! My heart was screaming.
“But- but I…” SAY IT!
“I don’t think… that- I mean… You’re great and everything and…” he fumbled with his words, emerald eyes darting from the carpet to my face, “-and it’s wonderful to have you as my girlfriend but- No, I mean that- that I like you but it’s just that its not- not really-”


Although I felt my heart start to beat unnaturally and my brain go into freeze mode, I let two words escape my lips, albeit soft, cracking and barely above a whisper.

“Say it.”

“I-” he began softly, “I like Ginny,”

Ginny.

I waited for myself to burst into tears and charge out of the room, sobbing loudly. Uncontrollably and not caring about whatever other people thought but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I was still standing in front of my ex-boyfriend’s presence, heart on the verge of shattering into pieces and posture unnaturally rigid.

“Please go out now. I would like some time alone.”

“Hermione, I’m sorry. I really like you, I really do. You’re a fantastic person, admirable and-”

“Please.”


He took one look at me, obviously at a loss of what to do. “Al-alright. I’ll excuse you from the meeting?”

I nodded silently, still standing rigid as a board as he cast a final, distressing look my way before disappearing behind the door, slowly closing it with a subtle ‘click’.


And that was when the tears took over.



~




I didn’t know how long I stayed in the Head’s compartment, rocking back and forth, hugging my legs and crying into my robe. My shoulders were shaking and raspy sobs emitted from my throat. Even with my school robe drawn round me, clutched so tightly with knuckles turning white, I could only feel coldness. I felt depressed, miserable and downright sick and yet the only thing I could think of was Harry.
Wouldn’t cuddling in his arms right now be great?
I wouldn’t feel so bitter and frozen and he would whisper softly in my ear, easing me into a blissful fantasy whereas back in reality, I was huddled in a corner of the Heads’ compartment, bawling my sense and dignity away.


Footsteps echoed from the passageway that led to the Heads’ compartment. A second later, the compartment door drew open and light streamed into the dim room. It had to be Harry. Harry’s back.

But you don’t want him here, a firm voice spoke in my head.
You don’t want him to see you like this.


Taking deep breaths, I tried to lift my head, back still facing him and said in a near-calm and commanding voice, “I’m fine. Just go and I’ll- I’ll be up in a se- second-”
To my horror, my voice cracked in the middle of the sentence and before I knew it, I had sunk my head back into my robes, knees drawn tense in front of my chest again with sobs racketing out amid every shiver and tremor my body made.


Immediately, the footsteps rushed from the doorway to me and a pair of arms found their way round my quaking self and held me close. It was only when I breathed in the scent of vanilla and strawberry did I realize that the person who was witnessing my breakdown was not Harry.


It was Ginny.

“Mione, don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Come on Mione… please… This isn’t the Hermione I know…” her voice trailed off as she hugged me tighter, as though trying to suck away all the pain I was feeling.

“Harry- Harry told me what happened- I- I’m so sorry Mione. I don’t know what to do- You must really hate me- I- I didn’t know that he- I’m so, so sorry… Please don’t be like this Hermone…”

Though alarm bells were ringing in my head and nasty, spiteful words of, “I hate you! Go away! Leave me ALONE!” were being thrown around in my mind, what came out of my mouth instead was, “It’s alright. It- it’s not your fault. I’m f-fine,” and right then, as her eyes rose to meet mine, warm chocolate russet and teary honey brown in an intense gaze, a single, lucid tear fell from one eye, trailing down her pale, pastel cheek and I knew that what I had said was true.



~




It took us both a while to collect and pick ourselves up and off the floor. Seated on the plushy red seats, we fell into a comfortable silence, staring out of the window and replaying the scene that had unfolded before us a while back.

Ginny cleared her throat and my attention snapped to her as she fiddled with her button.

“Hermione… I know this may seem like a big request but after that fiasco just now… I hope you won’t… despise him,” She quickly glanced at me and I dropped my gaze to the floor.
“I don’t know… I mean, I don’t hate or dislike him, that’s for sure but I don’t know if I can actually look at him in the eye. For the time being anyway,”

A soft smile appeared on her lips and she seemed to relax.
“It’s okay, Mione. Over time, I think it’ll be alright. Besides, I’m sure Harry doesn’t want his friendship with you broken. It’d hurt him as well and I don’t want to see him miserable. I don’t want to see either one of you miserable. So don’t you dare,” and with that, she sent a half-serious look my way, which in turn made me smile. But as my eyes lighted up with humor, my brain took in the emotion which had flashed in her eyes as she said that she didn’t want Harry despondent.
As I surveyed Ginny, I had a fleeting feeling that the girl with the scarlet tresses cared more for Harry than I, no matter how impossible it seemed. And as strange as it sounded, a sense of relief washed over me as the very thought of that registered in my head.



The remainder of the ride to Hogwarts had been peaceful. Besides the jovial, plump trolley-witch, it was only Ginny and I in the Heads’ compartment, catching up like two buddies who hadn’t spoken for a long time. Which was rather the truth as she had been in a withdrawal state the day Harry and I held hands.

Catching myself, I wheeled my thoughts back to Ginny.
She was right in every aspect. Harry wouldn’t like me upset and down and neither would he like our friendship strained. Right now, I had to get over that part of my life. I couldn’t hang onto memories; they’ll simply pull me back.



It wasn’t long before we found ourselves seated in the Great Hall. Ron was stuffing himself with the vast array of food and Ginny was daintily cutting a piece of steak as Harry and I talked. Our conversation started off awkward and it still was but trading words with nervous laughter seemed much better compared to the deathly silence we had when we saw the other on the train.

Even now, my heart still pounded when I spoke to him or when he laughed. I knew our dating relationship was gone but I couldn’t help feeling a pang of jealousy whenever he gave Ginny that special smile. That special smile that was normally directed at me was now expressed to another girl.

But still, no one said the road to recovery had to be smooth.

With small, almost unnoticeable, heartrending smile, I tucked into my dinner.




~




“Ms Granger, Mr Potter, I request that you two come to my office immediately after dinner,”

Startled, I whirled around from my pudding to see McGonagall standing behind us, her lips set in a tight line. “Is that clear?”

“Yes, professor,”

Glancing at Harry and I, her eyes softened for a spilt second but after that, the regular sharp look came right back.
“Good,” she nodded curtly and turned towards the Hall’s double doors.


Ron looked up from his chocolate soufflé to stare at McGonagall’s retreating back.

“What’d she say?”

“Don’t know. She wants us to see her in her office later,”

Ron shrugged and returned to his puffy desert.
“Must be a Heads’ thing,”




As Harry and I seated ourselves on the green armchairs, Professor McGonagall surveyed us over her spectacles, as if wondering how she should start.

“Ms Granger,” she peered at me, fingers laced, “I have heard that you and Mr Potter are in a rather -” pause “-difficult situation right now-”

I started. How did she find out?
Next to me, I felt Harry stiffen.

“Professor, its-”
“- and,” she continued, “the Headmaster and I have decided that it would be best if one of you,” again, she surveyed us, her stern gaze brushing over our worried faces, “dropped out as Head.”



Silence.


WHAT?!



~




I sat myself on the couch and leaned back, thinking over the event that happened a minute ago.
I wasn’t too sure if I was relived or not.


After much jaw-openings and stutters, McGonagall had decided that Harry was to drop out.


“But Professor! He hasn’t even started being Head Boy! You can’t just strip him of his title! Can’t you wait till after he’s done a few tasks and then decide?”

Her mouth was set in a thin line and her eyes held a kind of fire I’d never seen before.
“No, Miss Granger. What’s been decided has already been decided. As much as I would like to give him the privilege of being Head Boy, I cannot. The Trolley Witch has informed Professor Dumbledore and I about the happenings in the train.

I cannot allow two students’ works to be pulled down because of such a silly matter. It-”

“B-but Professor! We’re okay now! We can sit and talk normally, just like any other-”

“No, you cannot, Ms Granger. I have been watching you two since the start of the feast and I cannot see the trust and bond you two had. What I saw instead was gauche looks and inept movements. Heads’ are there to help the other students. How can they when they cannot even help themselves?”


Silence filled the room as Harry and I mulled over our so-called
conversation in the Great Hall.

Finally, voice tense but laced with softness, Harry spoke up.
“She’s right Mione,”

My eyes widened and I whipped around to meet his gaze.
“Y-you agree? But- but that would mean that you have to drop out as-”

“I know,” casting his gaze to the floor, he fiddled with his hands, “
I know,”



For the second time that day, Professor McGonagall’s eyes softened as she spoke in a kind voice, “The other professors and I will look for a suitable boy to replace Harry. In the mean time, you two can rest in the Heads’ dormitories,”
Looking at us two, she gave Harry and I one of her very rare, thin-lipped smiles.
“I’ve seen this happening between many students before, Ms Granger, Mr Potter. At some point, they’ll be the best of friends again but for right now, the present, its best to simply free them from awkward situations.”
And with that, she swept out of the office, leaving Harry and I in a stunned silence.




With the fire crackling merrily, I thought over what she had said.
I wasn’t sure where her sudden wisdom of boy-girl relationships came from but they did seem to make sense.

Harry was seated on the couch near the fire, his head rested on one hand.

“Hey, Harry?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you…upset over this?”

He turned to look at me and I was a little surprised to see the sadness portrayed so painfully in his eyes.


“I’m sorry, Hermione. I’m so sorry for making you cry,”


As his words dimly registered in my head, I didn’t know whether to scoff or break down into tears.

“Don’t say that, Harry. And don’t worry. As McGonagall had said, we’ll be back to being tight friends in no time. Just put a little more effort into building our friendship back together, strong, tight and unbeatable.

We’ll be fine,”

And I offered him a smile, which he returned.


“Ms Granger, Mr Potter?” Professor Dumbledore’s voice came in thorough the front door.

“We’re coming in now!”

“Yes, Professor!”


With a swift click, the door to the Heads’ dormitories swung open and Dumbledore’s face appeared at the doorway.

“Ah, yes. Working out your differences I suppose?”

I gave him a small, rather gauche smile but he never noticed it.

“Good, good. But now, its best to keep those differences and talks at bay- you have to meet your new Head Boy!”

Harry and I smiled at Dumbledore’s choice of words.


“Come in! We’re all waiting for you,”

With that sentence alone, I drew out the conclusion that my new partner is a shy boy. Must work on his public speaking,” I noted.


“Good! Now, Mr Potter, Ms Granger, I do believe you three have met,”



And I stared disbelievingly, jaw agape, at the ferret’s stupid, smirking face.



~




Author'sNote SO. How was it? The second chapter was too long so I had to break it up, thus you have PANDORA'S BOX I.
Anyway, much thanks to Ducks, my lovely editor and Breakway615! *huggles* Thanks to the people who reviewed!!
lady_darkness, Dark Princess 06, spellborne, Dracos_DrEaMeR, ducks (:D), Breakaway615 (:D), Lily 4eva & ron is SEXY!
Love you guys!

Read+Review=HUGS! ^^


ps Happy Thanksgiving you guys!

Chapter 3: Her Tangled Mess
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author’s Note Well, there are some changes. This chapter isn’t called ‘Pandora’s Box II’ anymore. At first, the plot of the second chapter was too long so I had to spilt it into two parts. But now, it really is too long. Thus, the ‘second chapter’s’ plot is going to be spilt into three parts. This is the second part, by the way. A little warning: somewhere in the middle, it’ll get a little more… emotional. (insertweirdiconhere) Don’t worry too much though. ^^

By the way, if you understood what I just rambled about, a cookie to you.

This chapter is dedicated to hprbdfan aka iliana, whom, as far as I know, is experiencing something similar to the star of Pandora’s Box.
Good luck, hun!






Pandora’s Box
Her Tangled Mess



 




 



“Professor! W-What- How can you do this?!”


“Ms Granger, the decision is final.”


“But Professor! You can’t! He’s not right for the position, he’s not- he’s a Malfoy, Professor!”


Professor McGonagall sighed and peered at me with tired eyes, they portraying sympathy and firmness at the same time.

“Professor Snape has selected him and seeing as none of the other professors objected nor selected any students from their own houses, the position goes to Mr. Malfoy.
And Ms Granger, it would be best if you kept his family heritage out of this,”


I groaned as a feeling of dread passed through me.


I have to work with the ignorant, pig-headed, cowardly, selfish, evil little…



Grumpily, I shut the door to Professor McGonagall’s office and headed back to the Heads’ dormitories.



Harry had already left for the Gryffindor dormitories once his shock had died down. He had wished me luck, sent Malfoy a glare and headed back to his own dormitories. Professor Dumbledore only smiled and bid us a ‘good day’ before leaving himself.


Malfoy’s face had immediately turned sour and before he could start cooking up childish insults, like every other time we meet, I had run from the Heads’ dormitories to the professor’s office, seeking an explanation, only to leave dead buried in reality.


I felt like pulling at my messy hair, twisting my face into one of absolute ugliness and moaning, “NOOOOO…” into the darkness of the corridor.

But of course, I couldn’t.


Tilting my head up and sticking my chin into the air, I marched back to the Heads’ dorms, promising myself that no matter what happens, I wouldn’t play with Malfoy and his silly little insults, allowing him to get onto my nerves.

















“SHUT UP!! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!”

“STUPID MUDBLOOD! WHY DON’T YOU THROW YOURSELF DOWN A BLOODY TOWER?!”

YOU GO THROW YOURSELF DOWN A BLOODY TOWER! YOU’RE DELUSIONED IF YOU THINK I’M GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU!”

”YEAH? WELL, I WOULDN’T LISTEN TO YOU ANYWAY! YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A MUDBLOOD!”

“I’M NOT SOME CHILD WHO CRIES WHEN TAUNTED, MALFOY! YOU ARE SO IMMATURE!”

“AND YOU ARE FLITH!”

”BETTER THAT THAN BEING SOMEBODY LIKE YOU!!


Screaming at the top of my lungs, I slammed the door to my room shut as the door at the opposite end of the room crashed to a close as well.


Grabbing the nearest pillow, I stuffed it into my face and screamed into the cloth of feathers, nearly succeeding in suffocating myself.


The ringing in my ears were dizzying.

Throwing myself on my fluffy and frilly, light colored-cherry bed, I forced my eyes closed and swallowed, trying to soothe my raw throat as a dull yet painful throb resonated in my head.

With my own yells, shouts and muffled screams, I managed to throw in another headache atop all my other problems.

Bravo.

Was there anything that’s not screwing up in my life?





Groaning, I pried my eyes open.
Feeling much to pessimistic to describe the morning scenery, I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed, tangled locks and all, and trudged into the bathroom.

It wasn’t easy trying to wash up because every time I held my breath to splatter water on my face, my throat throbbed in pain and my ears started to pulsate a dull twinge.


Oh yes. My throat was definitely infected.

I tried to speak but what came out instead was a raspy breath. I started panicking when the fact that I would be missing lessons dawned on me. Desperately, I began shouting, if hoarse gasps of air was considered as shouting, in hopes of regaining my voice somehow.

The outcome, however, was that my throat burned and my ears felt like they were on the verge of falling off in pain.


Hopelessly, I sat myself on the edge of my bathtub, trying to hold back a tear.


What did I do to deserve this…?

















Grudgingly, I sat myself on the sofa in the Common Room.

I couldn’t talk and I felt feverish. It wasn’t as though I had a choice.
I just wanted to fall back into bed and sleep.


What seemed like an eternity later, the ferret finally emerged from his room. I tried not to roll my eyes at his awful attempt at trying to look handsome.

He’s going to do you a favor Hermione, I silently berated, don’t be rude… for now.

Malfoy, much too engrossed in himself, walked right past me without even noticing.
It wasn’t until I cleared my throat, in a very hoarse manner, did he look back and sneer.

“Well, well. Scarhead’s Mudblood. What are you doing here?”

I almost wanted to laugh at his idiocy.

Holding back my amusement, which was sure to hurt my throat, I waved a piece of paper in front of his face.

Curiosity etched his features as I handed it to him.


As though struck by lightning, he quickly stepped back and eyed the parchment suspiciously. I openly rolled my eyes at him as he withdrew his wand and muttered, “Accio,”

Honestly. What did he see in that piece of flimsy parchment that’s so scary?



Tell the professors I can’t go for lessons today.

My throat’s hurting thanks to you.




Surprised, he glanced at me, as though hoping I would start laughing and tell him it’s a joke.


“What makes you think I would want to help you? I, Draco Malfoy, help someone as filthy as you? That’s disgusting!” he spat.


My eyes hardened as I signaled for him to turn the piece of parchment over, fist curling into balls.


And don’t even think about refusing, Malfoy.


He snorted and rolled his eyes before glancing back at me.
Or rather, the tip of my wand.


Immediately, he moved back yet again, as threatening, silver sparks flew out of my wand.


“What the hell! Y-you think you can threaten me with your stupid spells? You can’t even talk! Stupid mudblood!”


My eyes narrowed and almost instantly, the burnt logs in the fireplace burst into flames. The windows ripped open, allowing the wind to whip in as the sparks from my wand slowly turned a deep, dark red.


What the hell is so hard about telling the professors I can’t go to class?! You wretched prat! It’s your fault I can’t talk!
I wanted to yell those exact words at his face but the anger was already burning painfully at my throat.



His eyes widened as he dropped the note in fright.

Shaking, he managed, “What- what the hell are you doing?! Put the stupid wand down!”

The sparks were on the verge of leaving nasty cuts on his neck. Again, I gestured to the note, as if daring him to repudiate.

“F- fine! Fine! I- I’ll tell McGonagall! You little… take the stupid wand away!!”

On hearing both his agreement and the note of fear in his voice, I lowered my wand as the effects of my anger wore off.

Instantaneously, he scowled nastily.

“Filthy scum!”

Grabbing the note, he rushed out of the room, robe whipping at his ankles as he hurried.

I glared as his retreating head and marched stiffly into my room, grumbling with every step I took.


Just what was Professor Dumbledore thinking?! Dear Merlin…

















Harry… Please- I- I’ll change! Don’t go… Harry……

“…please… HARR- !

-OOF!”


Tangled in the sheets, I was on the floor.

Tearstains were evident on my cheeks and I was shaking all over. My nose was runny and as I reached up to feel the spot where I landed on, I could feel a bump on my head.

But I couldn’t feel the pain.

I couldn’t feel anything except cold.


Harry…

Why did Harry prefer Ginny?
Was I not good enough?


I began to cry as a bout of tears poured down my face, staining my cheeks.

I was crying for having lost the one thing I held so dear.


Louder, my mind was telling me.
Cry louder. Cry the pain away. Cry everything away…


The cold kept eating at me. No matter how hard I cried, the emptiness was filling me inside.


I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see past my tears.
My head was too heavy… my body was too light.


I felt lost.
Everything was too daunting.
Everything was too real.


The footsteps sounding outside my door seemed magnified.
They were stomping, loud and angry.

Yet strangely enough, as disturbing as they were, they brought me back onto earth… back to my senses.


“IT’S BLOODY LATE, MUDBLOOD! STUFF THE NOISE!”


His footsteps grew fainter and fainter...

Not long after, I was hiccupping slightly.


The feeling of being consumed whole by weariness was returning.
The hammering in my head was coming back.

The emptiness was slowly leaving, leaving only traces of bitterness and frost.

I don’t know how, but after a while, my eyes slowly and reluctantly fluttered shut as I fell into a dreamless sleep, sprawled out on the floor in the same tangled mess.


















“That’s… that’s great, Ginny! It- it’s great…”

She cast a worried look my way.

No. Not now. Don’t cry now.

“Mione… I- I really hope-”

“No, Ginny. I don’t mind Y- you two would- would make a good pair. I’m good. I’m fine. It’s great. H-Harry would want it…”

“Hermione…”

Not now.

“I-I’ll be going now. I- I’ll be seeing you around. I have to go…”

“Hermoine, wait-”

“Ginny. I- It's fine. I- I have to go. It’s getting late. I have duties to- to attend to.”

“But… Mione…”

Please… don’t cry now…

“See y-you around Ginny.”

Willing myself to walk normally without slumping on the wall in defeat, I headed for the Heads’ dorms, my face and posture completely void of emotion, mulling over what had just happened.



“Harry and I- We- we’re…”

I looked up sharply from my book to find Ginny standing before me, eyes on the floor.
It had been five days since my last breakdown. I had told Ginny about it and still, she stood by me.

Everyday suddenly became meaningless, just something I had to endure.

Books normally helped me through. It was so easy to get lost in every page, every sentence and every word.

Still, if everything became too much to handle, Ginny was who I’d turn to.
She’d look out for me, cry with me…

“Ginny?”

She visibly hesitated and I began to worry.

“We’re- now… Harry- he… asked me- and I- so I…”

Harry?
Oh Merlin. Please don’t tell me…


“Y-you two are…”

Ginny bit her lip and her eyes met mine. Emotion was stirring in them but my heart was pounding too loudly in my chest to process that thought.

“You two are- are…
together?

She looked away.




Why am I drowning in this chill all the time?
Why am I so hollow?


Everything was coming back at full force, first then headache, next the shaking, the sobs, the pain…

Suffocating. I’m suffocating.

The heavy feeling in my head returned.
I felt wrong, I felt erroneous.
I felt broken.


I wanted to scream. I wanted to rip everything apart, to pull at my hair, to scratch myself. I wanted to yell and shout and shriek till I couldn’t.

And yet I wanted, more than anything, for everything to return to what it once was.

Before, it had seemed entirely possible for Harry and I to reconcile.
But right now, every single thing was spinning downhill.
Even Ginny…


Why did she agree to be together with him..?

She has been fancying Harry for over four years, Hermione! Have more sense!

But why did Harry ask her…?

He doesn’t even know you’re in this state! Look at yourself! Everyone is moving on!

But I- B-but Harry…

Stop fretting over him! Stop it right now!



I was so sick of crying.
Yet I couldn’t do anything else but cry.


For the second time in six nights, footsteps sounded from outside my door.

Oh no...

Alarms were sounding in my head.

Turn away! Turn before the ferret catches you weak!

Yet the other side of me didn’t care who saw. The other side of me just wanted the madness to go away.

“Granger! For the last time, stop crying! I don’t give a rat’s arse on why you bawl like a baby but it’s nauseating when people are trying to sleep! Merlin’s sake, woman! If I were allowed, I’d curse you to-” he stopped short when he met my eyes.

I knew what he was seeing.

A weak, shaking, whimpering girl, covered in blankets and trails of tears on her cheeks. Hair unkempt, eyes puffy and quivering like a beggar without a home.


I wanted to die.


He looked shocked but slowly, it began to wear off as a smirk took its place.

“You’re a bloody mess, mudblood. What’s the matter, Potty dumped you?” he taunted, lips curling into a sneer.

I wanted nothing more at the point, to bury a hole in the ground and disappear from the face of the earth but a strong voice inside my head was yelling instructions.

Stand and grab your wand! He’s nothing more than a miserable git! Come on! Stand up!


So I tried.
The keyword being: tried.


The first thing that came out of my mouth when I opened it was a sob.
A weak, soft, heartbroken sob.


He froze as my tears came pouring down like a waterfall.
My cheeks were burning with shame but I couldn’t stop.

“Y-you- you get, get ou-out!”

I couldn’t even manage my words right.

He didn’t move, only stared at my tears as they trailed from my cheek and dripped down my chin.


I cried louder.


Oh Merlin, help me!

I was begging.
I have never been more humiliated in my entire life!


Stop crying! Stop! STOP!!

“G-GET OU-OUT! GO A- A- WAY!”


He was just standing there, staring and staring.

Stop staring! Stop staring you little-!

But before that train of thought could end, what he did next surprised me.


Gazing at me, he took an uncertain step forward as the hatred, hardness and Malfoy emotion in his eyes seemed to flicker… and die out.


I pressed myself against the wall as he set another foot forward.

Why wouldn’t he just leave me alone?

My wand was on my bed and from where he was standing right now, I couldn’t get it without passing him.


“You…”

My vision snapped from the wand on my bed to his eyes.

There was something stirring in them.
Something that looked so close to concern.

“Are you…” he tried again.

The said emotion flashed again in his eyes.

Was it really concern?
Malfoy’s don’t feel concern!

Why would he anyway? You’re so pathetic, just sitting there like some… pitiful… thing. Get up! Get up right now!




The tears were still pooling out of my eyes as he hesitantly stepped closer.

I didn’t know what to do.
Try to get him out got no response, ignoring him was just useless and to be honest, I was much too tired. I wanted to clump over and sleep.

I wanted warmth.

I looked up at Malfoy’s blank eyes; still gazing at the fresh tears on my cheeks, his posture unnaturally stiff...

I needed warmth.

I wasn’t quite sure what had happened after that thought swam across my mind.

All that my muddled brain could register were the closing of my eyes… and the inhale of a single, shaky breath before I found myself sobbing again.



Sobbing hard in the arms of Draco Malfoy.
















Author’s Note Ahaha! There you go, my pretties! A super-sized (well, super-sized in my case) chapter for putting up with my lazy fingers!
I had a camp a couple days back though… and this chapter wasn’t ready to be beta`ed yet at that point of time. Hence, the late update.

So yeah, this is for anyone who (actually bothers to) puts up with my randomness:
Camp was FUN! Yeah, okay, so the training part made me swear a little but hey, camp is all about roughing it! Even though we slept in the school… …

OK! Much, much, much love to all my lovely readers aka reviewers, you all rock my socks and you better know it cause leaving another one will make you rock some more! *woots!*

Oh! OHOHOHOHOH!
Before I forget, please don’t throw flames and rotten eggs at me because of the little… emotional scene Hermione had to go through. Was it overboard? I tend to go overboard but I really hope it wasn’t. I was trying to inject as much humane emotions, feelings and expressions into it. *shuffles feet* I hope it wasn’t too horrible… Next chapter titled, ‘Pandora’s Box II’ until further notice!

And again, this chapter is dedicated to the lovely hprdbfan or, iliana. Good luck, hun! *huggles*


Well. I think you’re spared of my ramblings.
For now.


Muchas gracias!
The review box is tapping his (her?) foot impatiently!

Lots and lots of love, Meg~



Chapter 4: Pandora's Box II
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Author’s Musings Alright, I’m really sorry for my horrible lag in an update… I hope you guys don’t hate me! So chapter four is finally here! It can be rather boring for some but it gives the plot a major boost so keep hanging on, alright? I guess I could say this is dedicated to Draco and his clueless-ness… but I’m not that evil. Read on, my loves! (and shower me with reviews, I mean, hugs, once you’re done. :D)

Pandora’s Box
Pandora’s Box II



~




It was like a child finding solace in her parent’s arms; she’d never felt better as she cried every single drop that fell from her honey-brown eyes, content in the embrace of a real being, a feeling almost close to fantasy. But then again, as a part of her mind sighed in consent, it was Malfoy, the devil of all devils…




She cleared her throat, fingers playing with the hem of her school skirt. Immediately, cool gray orbs focused on her uniform-clad form as she cleared her throat for the second time in a row. Silence ensued as he fixed his gaze on her and her on the wall behind him.

“Yesterday’s incident won’t happen again.” It was brisk, sharp and to the point. Glad that she did not stutter in the slightest bit, Hermione turned to leave the common room for breakfast in the Great Hall. It was then a sneer of, “Oh, yeah? Well, I don’t think you’ve ever been a strong one, weak mudblood!” rang throughout the room. His last words came out forceful and spiteful. Hermione stopped momentarily, stunned at his sudden change. She recovered quickly, however, and spun around on her heels, eyes narrowed into mere slits.

He’d never change…

“You’re one to talk! Who was the big, bad Slytherin who, dear Merlin, comforted the sad girl?” Hermione retorted, a hand set on her hip. She knew she was treading on thin strings – after all, he could easily shoot back nastily that she had indeed been –Merlin forbid- crying. Hence it came to her relief that the ferret was rendered speechless.

“I thought so,” she added coldly. Turning around once more, and subsequently sticking her nose into the air, Hermione marched out of the common room, mind wheeling in hatred and shock.



~




Draco sat at his regular place at the Slytherin table. Pansy was blabbering on about how her new make-up had enhanced her features, to which other boys simply grimaced at, but his eyes was set resolutely upon a mane of ugly, bushy hair. Oh, how his blood boiled when he looked that the stuck-up, prissy mudblood. She even had the nerve to talk back!

He was ashamed of course, that he had shown such an outrageous sign of weakness and compassion last night. But really, what was he to do? Naturally weak against threats and a woman’s tears, Draco was lost. He gritted his teeth in frustration. She’d pay for forcing that side, that despicable side he loathed so much, to emerge and invade his thinking. Oh, she would.





“Master…”

Eyes as red as blood focused upon him as he bent low, not daring to look up; a sign of deficiency. He could practically feel the intense gaze to his bones, rattling them, imagining it to interrogate him till there was nothing left. It was chilling.

It was all silent as the Lord, seated upon his soiled throne in the biggest room of the Riddle House, kept his watch intent on the young, inexperienced boy before him. He was dressed in a black so dark it made the gloomy room light up and shine. It contrasted alarmingly with his pale white skin, inviting the evil, the mystery to hover around him in a most commanding fashion.

“What is it you seek, young Malfoy?” The hiss was low, dangerous. The Lord was certainly not in a good mood.

“The mudblood Granger, my lord. She…” his voice trailed off into the wind as thoughts sped began to race in his near-jumbled mind. He wanted revenge upon her. He wanted so badly to make her pay for seeing him weak and soft then dismissing him as though he was the filthy one. But at the same time, he didn’t want the Lord to know of his minor little slip in emotions. He began to doubt the idea of informing his master. He paused hesitantly, uncertain as to whether he should really report the matter to the Dark Lord after all.

“I am waiting, Malfoy,” it was a threat, that he could tell. He cursed himself. Why didn’t he think it over? The Lord would probably kill him if he told him of his disgraceful show of concern. It was then a light chuckle, sinister still, broke into his thoughts.

“Young Malfoy,” the eerie hiss resonated from above him, “I would want nothing more than revenge on the filthy mudlood regardless the reason,” Draco started; how did he know? As if in reply, the Dark Lord whispered, “Legilimens, Draco. Don’t forget that.”



~




He fumed. What kind of torture was the Lord trying to inflict on him? Perhaps he really shouldn’t have went to him… It was a wrong idea from the start but no, he just had to go running to his master and now his new task was going to send him to his grave and humiliate him to the pits of hell.

He gnashed his teeth in annoyance and pulled at the lose threads of the common room sofa he was on.

Bloody emotions.

Seethe…

Bloody task.

Seethe…

Bloody thinking mentality.

Seethe…

Bloody-

“Quit stoning around, ferret. We have a lot of things to do. Lift your eyebrows. You look like an idiot.

Bloody mudblood. He turned to face his co-Head, his friend, and at the sight of her, anger and hatred began to fill into him- from his toes to his stomach to his head.
How he despised her.

But he had no choice.
Swallowing down his pride with much difficulty, he bit his lip hard and said, draining his voice of emotion, “Sorry about today. I want to help. Friends please.”

Somehow or another, in some twisted way, the look of surprise on his face pleased him very much. She had obviously understood his unenthusiastic request to be friends but she was definitely suspicious. Regarding him with much doubt, Hermione slowly replied, as though saying any faster would slip from his grasp and be lost upon him.

“No,”

At that, Draco’s anger returned pell-mell and hit him full-force. How dare she refuse, even after he had lowered himself to her standards?

“And why the hell not?” he snarled, a feral look edged on the corners of his features.

“That’s why,” she shot back, her own eyebrows lowered to form a perfect ‘v’ on her forehead. “It was too insincere, too unexpected and too unlike a ferret like you.”

“You should be thankful mud- Granger!” Merlin, couldn’t she just accept and let him be on his merry way to report to the Lord? Filthy girl.

Hermione only rolled her hazel eyes at him and said, “Whatever you’re planning, I’m not falling for it,” and she proceeded to stalk towards her room, eyes hard and focused yet as she opened her door to let herself into the cozy warmth of her room, a little, just a touch of confusion passed through her eyes and she was thankful that he did not catch it at all.





She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. Really now, just what was Malfoy planning? Why had he been so nice to her when she was at her weakest then turn around to shoot spiteful comments before suddenly asking to be friends, albeit rather insincerely? Was he threatened to do so? Hermione stopped and pondered that bit before crossing it out. She knew of no one who’d actually tell him to swallow that damned over-sized ego of his just to extend a (disingenuous) friendship towards a muggle-born. He certainly didn’t sound like he meant it either… but the way he hatefully asked, “And why the hell not?” made her wonder if he really had wanted to mean it, just didn’t know how. Then again, perhaps he just didn’t like the idea of being turned down by a single word from an unworthy mudblood…

Hermione, suddenly realizing what she was getting so confused and frustrated over, stopped dead in her thoughts and shook her head.

Malfoy, that prat.
He was depriving her of her sleep. She shook her head for a second time and tried to clear her thoughts. She’d draw a conclusion tomorrow. For tonight, she’d better focus on trying to give her aching heart and mind a good rest.





Draco furrowed his brows and glared at the mirror. “Keep persisting young Malfoy. Only then can we bring the mudblood down with ease,” he mimicked at his reflection in a high-pitched voice. “Persisting my eye! I’d like to see him trying to make friends with an insufferable Gryffindor know-it all mudblood!” He sneered, pulling a face as he said ‘Gryffindor’. He stomped about his room, pulling clothes out in a tantrum and pulled faces at nothing in particular, sour at the fact that he had to put up with eating his own dignity.

It was then a knock sounded from his oak door. Ripping at the mattress with his fingernails, he snarled out loud, “What?” The door opened hesitantly, and Hermione stuck her head into his messy sleeping quarters. She gave his room a once-over and raised an eyebrow at him.

“What is this place? A sty for animals or your room?” She asked with mild interest.

He glared at her, the root of his problems, the bane of his existence, but willed himself to restrain from lashing out at her. Lowering his voice to one near nonchalance, he asked, “And why, pray tell, are you here to comment on my room?”

She stared at him for a minute, then remembering her reasoning for appearing at his door at eight in the morning, flushed deeply and cleared her throat- a habit which emerged whenever she was pressured or nervous.

“I- I decided…”

Draco stared palpably at her, waiting for her response and idly raised one sharp eyebrow.

“Decided what exactly, Granger?” he paused and briefly wondered why he could suddenly be so nice then brushed it off as his master’s words rang in his head, reminding him of his purpose.

“I was thinking… I mean since you offered… but not too obvious of course. We are Heads, after all… talking would be good… Civil, you know? Yeah, so I decided… nothing else behind it, obviously… and it wouldn’t be too bad, would it?”

He cocked his head and forced the nastiness out of his head and voice. Don’t taunt her, don’t taunt her…

“What wouldn’t be too bad? I didn’t quite understand it there… Would it be alright if you elaborated?” he inquired with forced politeness. For a second he saw suspicion flash through her honey eyes but it was gone in the next instant as she took a breath.

“I thought- Since you brought it up and all… that maybe, kind of… we could be… um. Civil?”

“Civil as in...?” he pressed on.

She sighed -a sign of defeat- as she sucked in a breath again.

“Civil as in… friends?”



~




“Very good, Draco… now to the next step.”

“The next step, master?”

“Indeed. Show her you care, let her put her trust into you…” his voice was full of scathing as he hissed, possibly disgusted by the two sordid words he had uttered. Draco smirked and he bowed deeply.

“Of course, my Lord…”






He jumped up and quickly seized her books before she could protest. She fixed a distrustful glare his way but he merely shrugged.

“Hey friend,” he said innocently, “let me carry your books for you,”

She narrowed her eyes at this. “Not funny, Malfoy. I’d prefer them to be in my hands.”

Draco rolled his gray eyes, grabbing his cloak as he made for the portrait hole. “I’m going to be carrying these books whether you like it or not.”

In return, she sent him a look of exasperation and took her cloak from the back of the regal study chair. “Friends doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take my books for me, you know. Only… well, closer relationships have that,” she stated, rather matter-of-factly. Her co-Head was gagging inside, however. Forcing a neutral expression, Draco said, feigning interest, “Oh, really? I see…”

Hermione rolled her eyes – it was becoming quite a habit – and shoved him lightly. “Very funny, friend,”




He looked over at her hunched form, scribbling words down on a fairly long piece of parchment, and wondering what else he could do to gain her friendship. So far, he felt he had done quite well. They had been talking when they went down for breakfast and carrying her books seemed to become rather natural for him. They’d discuss homework (no matter how much he loathed it) when they were patrolling, letting it take the place of their name-calling sessions. She would occasionally wonder questions aloud and he would jump at them, hoping to prove how intellectual he was, only to be laughed at. He had to put up with it all the time though – his master had pointed out that temper flaring would do him no good. So put with it he did for satisfying his master and, though unknown to him, building the unwanted friendship they had.

That day started out alike the other days. He was itching to progress their friendship though – he knew she did not fully trust him yet. She regarded him with a tad of wariness and caution whenever they interacted. He clenched his teeth in annoyance and thought harder. What else could he do to make her believe in him?

Without quite meaning to, he strode forward, grabbing a new inkbottle from his bag as he went and plopped it down in front of her before seating himself opposite her scribbling form.

“What’s that for?” she asked, looking up to glance at the bottle of black on the study desk. He didn’t give a direct reply, only pointed at the other bottle of ink, near empty, which sat beside her stack of parchment. Her eyes followed his finger and she uttered a soft, “Oh,” before proceeding to add, “thank you.”

He didn’t know why at that time, but something strong stirred within his chest - something so foreign that it scared him, and he quickly brought his focus to his hands, playing with his fingernails.



~




He wanted to close the tiny chasm they still had so that he could break her into little pieces and laugh at the shattered remains.
He wanted to torture her blissful spirit and fracture her confidence, shoving failure straight into her face and leave her in the dust.
He wanted so badly to strip her of all her will, destroying all her positive thoughts and sever her from within…

…and yet a tiny voice, soft, innocent and near undetectable, whispered in his mind to hold her close and never let go, showering her with all the love and care he could ever…


Chapter 5: It Starts Now
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Author’s Musings: Sigh. And I said I wasn’t dead didn’t I? Here’s the fifth chapter! There’s a strange -erhum- surprise of sorts below.
Have I said that I love you guys before?
‘Cause I do. :o)



Pandora’s Box
It Starts Now




~




“Ginny! Did you hear?” Her voice was edgy and her hair was flying in all directions as she stomped her way over to where her redhead friend was seated. Cutting up her bacon as fast as she could, Ginny merely shook her head, gritting her teeth as the knife slid and scrapped across the plate with shill squeaks.

“There’s going to be a ball!” Hermione exploded, “a Masquerade ball at that!” She huffed and crossed her arms as Ginny looked up, eyes shining.

Masquerade, you say?”

The fuming brunette glanced at her friend, whose lips were curled into a dreamy smile. Now she knew why it was a wrong idea to even think of ranting about it in front of Ginny. She huffed for a second time and stared angrily at her empty plate just as Ginny covered her mouth with her hands.

“Oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean that! I was just thinking-”

Hermione looked up in confusion, before the sorry look in Ginny’s eyes made her realize.

“Oh, come on Ginny. I’ve told you before, it’s really alright with me!” Her words failed to reach the ears of the redhead however, as she continued to stare at Hermione, transfixed, horrified at what she had said.

“Ginny! Snap out of it! I – don’t – mind!” She sighed. “Don’t make me hex you!”

The redhead shook her head, locks fluttering and flapping about with each violent turn. “I promise you, I won’t be so careless about this anymore.” Her eyes were set hard and firm. “I will be more considerate and stop hurting every time we approach this topic!” Hermione sighed in frustration and rubbed her forehead. Ginny’s constant resolve on being considerate was really bugging her. The topic was sensitive enough, and Ginny would do a lot better just keeping quiet and dropping the subject altogether.

Her chair scrapped as she pushed it back, abandoning her breakfast.

“Where are you going Hermione?”

Somewhere where you won’t talk about Harry all the time. “Nowhere. I have to clear my mind a bit, this Masquerade is the symbol of another headache and dealing with another one is going to sap me of all my strength.” She didn’t bother to look back at her friend’s troubled, guilty expression as she marched stiffly past the long tables and back into her room.



~




“Stupid thing…”

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Shut up, Malfoy,”

Draco rounded on him, eyes alight with anger. “Well, how would you like to be the one planning this stupid thing? A BALL! It’s a ball, in Merlin’s name! At such a crucial time too! I have to complete arduous task after arduous task and this old windbag comes up and wants me to organise a ball!" His rant seemed to go on forever as Blaise sat back, eyes clouded over.

“..are you listening?” Draco snapped, jerking his head back to look at his friend, blond hair ruffling a little from the sudden turn.

There was silence following his annoyed expression but the dark-haired boy suddenly spoke up from his place in front of the fire.

“I think,” Blaise murmured softly, “you might want to talk to the Lord.”

Draco raised an eyebrow.




Worthless fools. That’s what they were, nothing but worthless fools.

His eyes were burning. Intense. He was angry, and nothing at that moment could calm him. Where was a muggle when he needed one? All the idiotic things they call Death Eaters… they’d probably bring about his demise, not his victory. He would have killed all of them if not for the fact that he was so merciful.

Another idiot apparated to his door and he hissed inwardly. More bad news. He lay back in the soiled chair, a wine glass in one hand, contents swirling about in the a most calming manner – completely contradictory to what he was feeling at the moment. The door creaked open slowly.

“My Lord…” the small, dark figure took a deep bow.

Silence ensued and the Dark Lord impatiently tried to look inside his follower’s mind, but it was sealed. Stupid boy. He had used Occlumency.

“What is it that you want?” He was getting impatient. Death Eater after Death Eater had flocked into his room to inform him of some demise of another Death Eater. While he was recruiting quite a large number, the old ones were certainly losing their touch, and while this boy is a new one, he certainly did not show any signs of potential.

The boy faltered a little when he heard his Masters impatient sigh. He half wanted to open his mind again. It would be easier if he hadn’t had to speak to his Lord; one wrong word and he would be as helpless as a fly.

But he had to continue. He had to receive orders and some how or other complete his current task and whatever that was coming his way. He had to prove that he is just as good as his father, possibly better, and be in favour of the Dark Lord.

He opened his mouth to speak but by that time, his inexperienced Occlumency had slipped, and the Dark Lord had read his mind. There was a tingling feeling in his mind and he couldn’t push it out.

In a spilt second, the interrogation was done and the Dark Lord started cackling his sadistic laugh. The bowed figure grimaced; he hated catching the Lord when he was moody.

A sardonic grin was plastered on the Lord’s face as his eyes twinkled with something scarier then pleasure. He had an idea. It was perfect and judging by the boy’s capability, it wouldn’t be too hard at all. In fact, he had probably done it a lot of times.

“Young Malfoy…”



~




He breathed in deeply. He had to do this right. Smiling at the mirror, he held out one shockingly pale hand. “Would you…” he stopped, smile still plastered on, and dropped his hand. No, it was too insincere. She would be able to tell and he’d fail his mission. Dropping the smile, he sneered at himself. Sure, it wasn’t a second mission, it was merely an add-on to the first, which was to get the mudblood to trust him, but this was insane. People will laugh at him, they will mock him! He glared at the mirror image as he tried it again.

One hand was out and the other was across his midriff as he half bowed at the full-length mirror, a smile painfully set on his face. Forcing himself to think of the dirty muggle-born, he rehearsed his line again. He paused and stared. Something was wrong. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint what, but suddenly his line seemed to flow out much easier than expected. He shrugged. Or probably it could be because of his strange attire which consisted of nothing but a bathrobe. Rolling his eyes, he dropped the smile, the hand and the robe as he sighed and jumped into the warm tub.

If I actually succeed in this, I will the biggest idiot alive, and so will she.



Her hair was a mess as she stepped into her room. Yet another day of separating snogging couples in broom closets. Have they no sense of decency or shame whatsoever? After sending a pair back to their dormitories, she wandered two storeys up, only to find the same couple glued at the mouth in yet another closet. Really, this insanity had to stop. Teenage pregnancy is not something she wanted to deal with during her reign as Head Girl.

She plopped down on her bed and tugged at her navy skirt as she loosened the striped tie. Her duties today were hectic, and had sapped her of all her energy. Crying tonight wasn’t a very good option, not that she wanted to in the first place. If truth be told, Ginny’s comments were affecting her a lot less these days. In fact, it had been quite a while since she last had a serious break down. Her pillow would still be soggy every other morning but she was a lot better. However, to recover completely was still a long, winding road away and she knew it.

Picking up a brush from the table cluttered with books, pens and papers, she swiftly brought it down her hair, back up, and down again. She followed the rhythmic fashion like she was in some hypnotic trance as she mulled over her past. It certainly seemed like her past but it was haunting her in such a way that it could have bordered on being her future.

A sharp rap on the door woke her from her reminiscence. Hermione looked up from her place at the foot of her bed as the door slowly swung open. Draco’s face popped in and he seemed rather satisfied about something. Light from the common room was splashing across the doorway carpet and illuminating everything in her partially dark room with a pale, sickly glow. She sighed. Now she was just tired and a Malfoy being happy was too strange for her to deal with. “What do you want? I’m still busy with preparations for the ball you know. And I haven’t seen you helping around much,” She shot accusatorily at him.

He merely smirked cheekily. “Ah, what’s a bunch of paperwork to you?” Realising that her eyebrows had lowered at the comment that had slipped out, he quickly backtracked, injecting as much niceness into his voice as he could. “So, do you want me to help?” Hermione eyed him wearily. “No. Just carry out the orders on that piece of paper, and the decorations will be done,” she pointed at the piece of yellow which had neat writing all over the front and back of it. Draco forced his smile to stay there as he picked up the parchment. His cheeks were aching and nasty words were longing to spew forth but he merely vented on the parchment and crushed it as he put it in the front pocket of his jacket.

There was silence for a moment, its stillness broken only by Hermione’s second sigh. She seemed tired, with dark, heavy bags circling her eyes. “You can go now. I have a lot of studying to do,” She jerked her head towards the door but Draco stood his place. He breathed in and reminded himself of what he was supposed to be doing as he ate his Slytherin belief away. “I was wondering,” he paused and contemplated on whether to hold out his hand, like what he had done to his mirror. She waited for him to continue, eyes dull with tiredness as she stroked a piece of hair back behind an ear. He cleared his throat.

Think of how proud the Lord will be.

“Would you like to go to the ball with me?”



~




She nervously tugged at the pink dress. Truth be told, it wasn’t much of a “masquerade” for her. She had to start the ball as Head Girl and she had to go about doing that wearing a mask, therefore the people will be able to tell later during the dance that the Head Girl is the one in the pink dress and feathered mask. She heaved a sigh. Now she can’t possibly disappear into the crowd. There would definitely be people yelling for her as she was theHead Girl. The Head Boy wasn’t helping much anyway, she thought in annoyance.

She didn’t bother much with make up, just simple foundation to cover up her bags. Lip balm and mascara were put on after much consideration, as did casting a spell on a hair to tame it. She did not want to seem too overly done-up, because she was there only for work and it was work she will do. Sliding into the slippery outfit, she pulled the mask over her face, brushing stray hair away from her face. The feathers were dancing about from the top corners of the mask and the area around her eyes was littered with glitter and light purple jewels. It matched her cheerful pink ruffled dress. It had a decent neckline, and her skirt flowed from a ribbon on her waist down to her ankles, neat and unoffending in anyway.

She smiled strangely at the mirror, and though its strangeness still lingered, it was genuine.

Time to meet Harry.



~




Author’s Musings: Now I wonder why this strange duck is meeting Harry. Hmmmmmm…
WELL. HELLO PEOPLE! I AM BACK! After being killed by a brick, I was resurrected by the lovely reviews you guys left. Aww. It made me feel all warm, it did. –touches heart- As a token of appreciation, I’m going to sacrifice this chapter’s image to give you this! –dundundun-





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