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Chapter 14 Misguided Malfoy

Charlie’s response to her letter about Ron didn’t really make her feel any better. Though she knew, in the back of her mind, that nothing Charlie could have said would make the situation any easier, she still held out a glimmer of hope that he’d spark a revelation in her that would help her deal. Unfortunately, the only advice he had to offer were things that Hermione had already assumed, anyway: get Ron alone before telling him, and be prepared for a lot of yelling.

This was all easier said than done. Every time she was alone with Ron and felt like she might be able to finally tell him, her courage failed her. The way Ron smiled at her kept her from breaking his spirit. She knew that her news would rip him apart, and she couldn’t stand the thought. Just when their friendship was beginning to return to normal—or better than normal—Hermione had to go and tell him something that would probably ruin their relationship forever.

Like it or no, I have to do it, Hermione instructed herself.

Ginny agreed that Hermione had better tell Ron soon, before he asked her to go to Hogsmeade with him for Valentine’s Day. Hermione assured her that Ron would never actually ask her out, and while they would be together in Hogsmeade, it wouldn’t be a date.

“That’s what you think. You know Ron isn’t as logical as you are, Hermione. He doesn’t see things quite the way you and I do. Just because he didn’t specifically ask you to be his date doesn’t mean he won’t think you are,” Ginny warned.

Hermione had pointed out that Valentine’s Day wasn’t even on the Hogsmeade outing day, but the Friday before.

“Doesn’t matter,” Ginny had said. “If anything, that only means that Ron could do something a day early and not even bother waiting until you’re in Hogsmeade. You know how impulsive he can get.”

Just thinking of Ron going off on some extravagant measure for her on Valentine’s Day, when the whole school would be milling around to see, made her stomach churn. It was bad enough having to explain everything to him, but having on-looking classmates snicker and gasp was not what she had in mind. Rumors flew fast enough as it was, and the last thing they needed was to have “eye-witness” accounts of Ron and Hermione’s falling out.

And yes, it would definitely be a falling out. Hermione held no hope that Ron could still be her friend after she told him what she needed to tell him. She’d prepared herself for what it would be like after she finally told him by practicing more arguments with her mirror. She also spent more long hours in the quiet of the library to immunize herself from the effects of his angry silent treatments. Some of these quiet hours could be spent in the solitude of her own common room; when Malfoy was out on rounds, Hermione could study, write to Charlie, or simply sit and stare in peace. Then, when Malfoy came back, she could practice her arguments with him, instead of her mirror.

“Still up, Granger?” Malfoy asked.

“Well, apparently,” Hermione answered, albeit a little rudely.

Malfoy cocked his eyebrow in contempt. He hated when people talked to him like that, especially inferior Muggle-borns. Every other girl in Hogwarts would have fallen to Draco’s feet and worshipped him, but Hermione fought him back without any interest. That was what irritated him the most. Girls adored his aristocratic good looks and haughty personality, and the one that didn’t was tainting his record. Even if she was a mudblood, she was still a girl.

“You know, Granger, there are loads of girls in this school who’d love to be in your shoes right now.” A self-satisfying smirk crossed Malfoy’s pointed face. “But all you’re interested in are those useless books.”

“I’m sure you haven’t noticed, Malfoy—after all, it’s only been seven years—but I am not ‘loads of girls’. I actually have a brain in my head. Now please stop talking so I can concentrate.”

Malfoy looked insulted, as if she’d just insinuated that the girls who drooled over him were brainless twits. Well, maybe some of them were, but it was a blow to his ego nonetheless.

“Well, brains aren’t so important when you’ve got the looks…” he retorted, “and the blood.” He knew the last remark would get her riled up.

“What the hell does ‘pure blood’ have to do with anything? Nobody is truly pureblood anymore, or else you would have all died out! Get off your high horse, Malfoy, because none of that rubbish even matters. If it did, I wouldn’t be the Head Girl or at the top of our class, now would I?”

“Oh, blood most certainly does matter, Granger. But I wouldn’t expect someone such as you to appreciate its significance. However, I’d be willing to make an exception in your case,” he said easily, as if he were offering her the opportunity of a lifetime. “Your blood is detestable, but your looks have quite improved recently.”

“If that was your idea of a compliment, Malfoy, you’re horrible at it. And I want nothing to do with being another one of your silly admirers, so don’t ask again.” Her words were serious and smooth, but the slight color on her cheeks made her wonder. Malfoy had just admitted he found her attractive, even if he wasn’t very nice about it.

“Oh, I get it. You’re saving yourself for Weaselby, aren’t you? He’s got the blood, at least, but I can’t say he’s got the looks or the brains. Certainly, with your aptitude, you must know that one out of three isn’t a very good percentage.”

“Have you already forgotten that I don’t care about blood? And—“

“Ok, one out of two. Fifty percent is still failing, Granger,” he interrupted.

Hermione was determined to finish her point. “There is nothing wrong with Ron’s looks. Just because his nose doesn’t point upwards like some people’s doesn’t make him any less attractive.”

Malfoy smiled arrogantly. “You just said I was attractive.”

“No, I didn’t!” she denied, her eyes now wide and alert.

“Yes, you did. You said that because his nose wasn’t like mine that it didn’t make him any less attractive, meaning you think he’s as attractive as I am.” Malfoy crossed his arms in front of his chest and smirked at her, quite proud that he’d proved her wrong.

Hermione scoffed at him and insisted that he’d just twisted her words around. That sneaky Slytherin always had a way of making things turn out in his favor.

“So I’m right, then. You’re just like every other girl in this school who can’t resist me. You should take advantage of that now, before Weasel grows up and admits how he feels. I’m not going to stop you.”

“You insufferable prat. For the last time, I don’t want to be your snogging buddy, and I’d also appreciate it if you’d stop inquiring into my personal life. My relationships are my own business.”

“Then Weasel won’t have to know.”

“Stop calling him that!” Hermione exclaimed as she slammed her fist down on the table.

Malfoy laughed. For such a small girl, she sure had a sizable temper.

“You wear me out, do you know that?” she sighed in exasperation.

“Oh, you have no idea how I could wear you out…” he answered.

Her eyes widened and she couldn’t help feeling like she was harassed. “Don’t say that!”

“Well, I could.”

“If he knew how you were speaking to me…” Hermione threatened.

“He’d what? Make me eat slugs?” he laughed.

“Feed you to his dragons, more like!”

Her blood was starting to heat up with her rage, and she had a vision of Malfoy being devoured while he still wore his charred, designer robes.

“What the hell are you talking about? Whose dragons?”

Feeling as if she’d said enough, Hermione stacked up her parchments and books and placed them in her bag.

“You didn’t answer my question, Granger. Who are you talking about?” he said, while grabbing her arm to turn her around.

“It’s none of your goddamn business! Now let go of me!”

Hermione struggled to get out of his grasp, but he only held tighter and grabbed her other arm as well.

“I just want to know who it is,” so I can scare him away from you. “I know you’re bluffing about the dragons, so just tell me. Come on, Granger. We’re friends, right?” he asked innocently.

“I’m not telling you, so just stop trying,” she said, while staring him down. She knew her death glare was her most intimidating feature, but it didn’t seem to faze Malfoy in the least.

“I think you’re lying. I don’t think there is anyone else. You’re just denying your feelings for me.”

Malfoy’s grip had lessened considerably since he’d first taken hold of her, so she tried to push away from him. However, the Slytherin in him couldn’t lose, so Hermione was instantaneously pulled back and crushed up against him. In a flash, Malfoy lowered his head and seized her mouth with forceful passion. Before Hermione even registered what was going on, the blonde already had his tongue in her mouth. She reacted on instinct and bit his lower lip with such strength that she could taste the blood it drew. Malfoy yelped and shot back as soon as his lip was free.

“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ALL ABOUT!?” Hermione fumed. “Exactly what part of our conversation led you to believe I wanted you to kiss me?”

The pale boy’s face was not as white as normal—anger played a part, but so did embarrassment from having his pride so effectively shattered. He brought a finger up to his lip and wiped off a massive amount of blood.

“Fuck, Granger! Look what you did to my lip!” he said, while holding out his hand to make sure she could see the blood.

Hermione had one hand on her hip, while the other twitched as if it would like nothing more than to slap Malfoy across the face. “You deserved it! I have no idea what you were thinking, but it obviously didn’t work out too well for you. I know boys have two heads and only enough blood to work one of them at a time, but please try to control yourself!”

“But you said…” he argued, and then stopped to think exactly what her words were.

“Yes, what did I say?” she demanded.

But Malfoy wasn’t interested in arguing anymore as he realized just how much blood was dripping from his mouth. “Shit, it’s dripping all over my damn shirt.”

“Give it to me,” she ordered. Malfoy cocked his eyebrow and smirked. “What? Is your pure blood too good for me to clean? I suppose if you want it to stain that would be all right, but you get to be the one to tell everyone how it happened. I can see you explaining to Crabbe and Goyle, now.” Then, she added in a deep, mock-Malfoy voice, “‘I attacked her, then she bit me and made me spill my precious blood.’ That’ll go over well, I’m sure.”

The smirk vanished from Malfoy’s face as he relented and gave her his shirt. She just wants me naked, he thought. He smiled at himself but quickly stopped because of the incredible pain his lip was causing. Hermione began to examine the shirt and decide how she wanted to clean it when Malfoy interrupted her.

“Do you think you could do something about my lip, first?” he asked pleadingly, while running his tongue along the edges.

“Aw, is the little Head Boy’s lip bothering him?” she mocked condescendingly. Malfoy just nodded. It must have hurt pretty badly for him not to argue with her. “I’ll fix it if you tell me why you attacked me.”

“I didn’t attack you; I kissed you. I was pretty sure you’d know what a kiss was, but I guess it was a long shot.”

Hermione glared at him. “Ok, if you’re going to be like that, then you can just bleed to death. See if I care.”

“No! Erm…fuck. I thought you were playing hard to get. Girls do that, you know, to test blokes and see if they’re really interested.”

“You thought I was testing you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Remember when I said ‘I am not most girls’? I guess you forgot that part, because I don’t test boys by pulling stupid stunts like pretending I’m not interested when I really am. When I say I’m not interested, I’m not interested.”

“You never said you weren’t interested.”

“Yes I did! Were you not listening? I said I didn’t want to be your snogging buddy!”

Malfoy’s scrunched up face softened a little as he realized the truth to what she’d said. “Oh… But I still thought that you were messing with me.”

Hermione sighed. “For the last time, I don’t do stuff like that. I’ll forgive you this time, but don’t let it happen again, or else I’ll bite your lip clean off. I mean that, too.”

“I never said I was sorry,” he said angrily.

“And I know you never will, because you’re a stuck-up, egotistical, self-absorbed prat who cares more about where his next enjoyment is coming from than what other people think or feel or want.”

His jaw dropped a bit, but he didn’t reply. He knew what she said was true. Hermione then told him to wait for her while she went to get something from her room to clean his lip.

“Take this and swish it around your mouth, but don’t swallow it.”

Malfoy looked skeptically at the green liquid. “And this will fix it?”

“Well, no, but it’ll keep it from getting infected. It seems the blood has stopped a little, so it’ll heal on its own. Just take this and rinse for a bout thirty seconds, and then spit it out down your sink. It might sting a little…” she warned.

He left to go try out Hermione’s “Muggle potion” and she set her sights on Malfoy’s shirt. Hermione found that Muggle remedies were often just as effective, and sometimes more so, than magic; the bleach she brought back from her room was already starting to do its work on the bloodstains.

“Hey, Granger,” Malfoy called from the foot of his stairs. She paused in her cleaning to look at him but made no reply. “If you’re not interested, and there really is someone else, who’s the dragon bloke?”

“Don’t you worry about that. Go fix your lip.”

Malfoy turned and headed up his stairs. While scrubbing the red spots out of the shirt, she realized just how tired she was. Arguments and spontaneous, unwelcome advances had their way of exhausting her brain and her body simultaneously. She finished with the shirt and laid it out on the table, and proceeded to write a letter to Charlie. She’d have to tell him about the mind-numbing events that had happened today.

“You were right—that potion did sting, and I can’t feel my lip anymore,” Malfoy said as he snuck up behind her. “I guess that could be good, though. Your damn teeth are sharp and they fucking hurt.”

Hermione had shuffled her letter quickly out of view as soon as she heard him behind her. Malfoy did not need to know whom she was writing.

“Good. I hope it hurts a lot.”

“No need to be bitter, Granger. So,” he said, while plopping down on a chair beside her, “who’s Charlie?”

Oh, Merlin, thought Hermione. There’s no use in denying it, now. He already knows. “The ‘dragon bloke.’”

“Ok. You don’t tell about my lip, and I won’t tell Weasel about Dragon Man. Deal?”

“Deal,” Hermione agreed.

So there really was another guy. It wasn’t just me, after all. I’ve still got it, Malfoy thought smugly. If she weren’t with that dragon fellow, she’d have been mine.

Hermione watched him out of the corner of her eye, knowing he was thinking something entirely misguided. That prat. He definitely deserved what he got. At least I got to put him in his place, though he’ll never stay there for long.

Malfoy fingered his bottom lip, which was now considerably swollen, and noticed the furtive glances she cast at him. She’s checking me out. Yeah, she definitely wants me naked.

She sighed heavily. As awkward as being sexually harassed by Malfoy was, she admitted it would probably have been more awkward had he been Ron. She was sure Ron wasn’t capable of doing something as idiotic as Malfoy had just done, but she wouldn’t put it past him if he got caught up in the moment. Well, I’ll just make sure there is no ‘moment’ to be caught up in. Hermione was going to have a time keeping her afternoon with Ron as platonic as possible—especially on the most romantic day of the year.

Writing to Charlie had always been her outlet, and so it was again tonight. She went back to her letter and explained in detail how the assault happened, but assured him it was just a mistake and that he shouldn’t worry. She hated to tell him something like that in a letter, but she always told Charlie everything, and not telling him would make her feel like she was hiding it. She had no reason to hide it; she knew Charlie trusted her.

Hermione felt her nerves tingling with every word she wrote, and she couldn’t imagine why her hand was starting to shake. Maybe it was the adrenaline from fighting off Malfoy—but that had long since passed—or maybe it was just her lack of sleep catching up with her again. She pushed these thoughts aside and settled that it must just be anxiousness about Ron.

Even Malfoy noticed her jittery hands. “Just itching to get those hands back on me, aren’t you, Granger?”

“Actually…” she considered, making Malfoy lean up in his chair in anticipation, “no.”

Malfoy glared at her for tricking him, but she just smiled.

“I’m going to go deliver this to the owlery, then I might pay Ron a visit. I really need to talk to him.”

“No, you’re not,” Malfoy denied. “It’s too late, and I’m not going to let you walk the corridors alone. Just do it in the morning.”

“Since when have you ever cared about my safety?”

“Since you’re the only girl in Hogwarts who won’t have me. Something could happen to you, and I’m not letting you get away so easily.” I’ll have you eventually.

“Well, I’m going whether you like it or not,” Hermione protested and walked toward the door.

Malfoy shook his head at the stubborn Head Girl. “Wait up. You’re not going alone.”

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