Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
Setting: Hogwarts, beginning of 7th year, alternative universe.
Disclaimer: No, I do not own the Harry Potter Series, but I do wish I were in Slytherin House.
I never fancied myself a poet, that is, until the day I got paired up with the now infamous Draco Malfoy to take notes.
It was Potions class, my least favorite class, except for maybe History of Magic, which was so tragically boring there had been times that I had considered just up and leaving. I had already had a rather stressful day if you included the fact that I had missed breakfast due to sleeping in too late, lost my essay for charms, and still hadn’t received an owl from Harry or Ron in at least a week. So you can imagine my frustration when Professor Slughorn, pairing up everyone around the room, asked if Malfoy and I could work together. Being the well-mannered person I tended to be, I nodded my head in agreement, regretting it all the same. I was rather surprised though when Malfoy did so also. The quizzical thought that had pounded through my head the past few days re-entered: why had he come back to Hogwarts? That was the question on everyone’s mind.
My imagination took over, thousands of ideas pouring into my head, trying to answer my curiosity. One after another, each one kept getting more outrageous and fantastical, and not one of them settled my mind. After what had happened last year, Malfoy had no right to show his face among us, or even be alive for that matter.
Well, maybe that was a little too harsh.
But still, ugh, the curiosity of it all!
I watched him as he walked across the room, his belongings in his hands, and took the seat next to me. He dumped everything on to the tabletop rather uncoordinatedly, which was odd for his normally graceful self. I felt an unpleasant chill go down my spine as his hand accidentally brushed mine. His eyes flickered over to me, a brief smile fluttering across his features.
Oh Merlin. Why was he smiling? Where were Harry and Ron when I needed them?
Oh yeah, out searching for Horcruxes. Damn them.
“Granger.” He nodded politely at me, his cool slate eyes stabbing into mine.
“Malfoy,” I shot back, trying to ignore the fact that his presence was bothering me.
He smirked at me, and briefly his old attitude came back in full force. But then he turned quickly back to his work, suddenly immersing himself into the roll of diligent student rather than pompous prick. I couldn’t understand it. The first week of school had been full of surprises, everything from more security to new teachers, but nothing had been more shocking than Malfoy’s attitude. Dare I say it; he had become completely civil to me.
On the first evening of school, we had both been called to Headmistress McGonagall’s office, and I came to find that I would be working with him for the entire year, due to the fact that he had been named Head Boy. Needless to say, I had at first been shocked and then outraged. There had to be some mistake! What idiot would ever place him in a position of power?! Since we were expected to work together, I figured I had the right to know why the teachers had let him come back, and how had this miraculous change had come over him. So I once Malfoy left, I demanded that she tell me his story.
She did nothing of the sort. She merely said that it was up to him to tell me, but then she assured me that he would be on his best behavior and that I could trust him. Yeah, right...like I would ever do that.
But during the first seven days, I began to think differently. I was once again flabbergasted at his presence. This time though, it was no longer because he was there, but rather because it was rather blatantly obvious that he had changed. He began treating me with respect, no longer bickering, nor insulting me. Instead, he acted like a gentleman, carrying on conversations, holding the door open for me, and studying with me in the library. I even heard a rumor that on his first day here he marched up to the Slytherin common room and broke all his ties with them.
I didn’t know what to make of anything. I was too afraid to ask him, too afraid that bringing it up would just anger him and he would go back to his old ways. So I kept quiet and pretended that his actions were not out of the ordinary. This plan worked rather well for a little while; we got through our responsibilities, completed our homework together, and even socialized a little outside of what was required. But there was one problem. In doing so, my curiosity was not satisfied.
And because of all this happening in the past month, I was now sitting in class, not paying the least bit attention, all because my confusion and curiosity had gotten the best of me. And then, for some reason, I felt the itch to write coursing through my veins, not notes, but rather something that would help calm my thoughts about him. I pulled out a piece of parchment and my quill and began to write.
Well, they say don’t judge a book by its cover,
So perhaps I should take their advice.
Until now I would have never fathomed,
That the enemy could be polite or nice.
My quill stopped for a moment, as I thought of the next lines of the poem. I had always loved people watching, imagining what the stranger’s life was like. And even though Draco Malfoy was no stranger, he was the perfect person to analyze. I closed my eyes, remembering all the pain the Slytherin had caused over the past year.
Some say he’s the devil’s advocate,
His actions malicious and bold.
Stealing, lying, manipulating, betraying,
His heart must be black and ferociously cold.
I raised my eyes from the paper and watched him scrutinizingly as he took the required notes. After a few moments, I realized I had never looked so closely at him. His skin, I noticed, was paler, tired and worn out. Dark circles had formed under his eyes, looking like painful bruises, and he had a long scar running its way from his ear to his jaw line. What had he gone through to cause such changes in his physique? But even though all of this, his glamour and good looks had not left him.
Wait, had I just admitted that I though Malfoy was handsome?
Someone must have addled my brains.
Walking around with head held high, nose in the air,
Arrogance like that of royal within him.
He’s nothing but a spoiled, rotten apple
Complaining of his every woe and whim.
I took another risk by looking up at him again, trying my best to appear nonchalant. This time, he was chewing on the tip of his quill with the most serene and innocent look I’d ever seen on his face. I closed my eyes once again, suddenly struck by an alarming thought. I became absorbed in it, contemplating it from every angle.
Did I even know anything about Draco Malfoy?
But could I be dead wrong?
Is it possible that I don’t know a damn thing?
What’s hidden behind his icy barrier?
Is there something more to the Slytherin King?
I suppose that was the moment when everything dawned on me. A torrent of questions pouring into my brain. Had I judged him too early on? Did I not read his actions clearly enough? I felt absolutely foolish. Was I really so blind to see that there could easily be another side to the boy? Was there another side to the story?
Put out, confused, lost in the dark,
Perhaps someday I’ll be lucky enough to find out,
What truly makes him tick,
And what he’s really all about.
I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I had this feeling of elation. Maybe it was the feeling of discovery or thrill leaping through out me? But I wondered if maybe I could be the one to prove that Malfoy wasn’t all the evil things he was said to be.
At the very moment, as if realizing he was in my thoughts, Malfoy turned to look at me. Our eyes locked, and I could see that his walls were down; it was hypnotizing. The bell rang, signaling the end of class, but neither of us got up to move. I gazed into his deep blue-grey irises, and for the first time, I saw something other that prejudice or pride there. Instead, emotion was pouring out so thickly that I’m surprised he didn’t burst. And just from this once intense moment, I knew nothing would be the same again.
“I liked your poem about me,” he stated simply.
I looked at him in disbelief and horror, my mouth dropping open. How had he seen? I never even saw him look down at me. I quickly shoved the paper into my bag.
“Y-you read it? H-how?” I stuttered. I lost feeling in my legs, my heart pounding away in my chest.
“When will you learn to cover up what you don’t want out in the open?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me. I knew that somewhere in that statement was a second meaning, but I waved it off. “But in all honestly, I think you nailed my character right on the head with it.”
I starred in awe at him, wondering where this conversation would go next. I then decided if I wanted my questions answered, I would have to steer the chat my own way. I took the direction into my own hands.
“Mal-Draco,” I corrected myself, speaking his name. Taking a deep breath, I slowly reached out my hand to his which was lying on the table and brushed my fingers over his, getting that same chill as before, but now it felt pleasant. I knew that to make an emotional connection with him, I had to show that I trusted him, that I cared. “Can you...I mean...do you want to tell me what happened to you this summer?”
He stood up quickly as if he had been electrified and grabbed his stuff, sliding his items into his bag as I did with mine. He then turned and began to walk away, no uttering a single word in answer to my question. That’s when I knew I had blown it. Why would I even think that he would talk to me? I looked down at my feet embarrassed. But then I heard his voice.
“Aren’t you coming? It’s a long story so you better keep up, Hermione,” he smiled genuinely. He had said my name. He had smiled. He was going to answer my questions.
And with that I walked up next to him, all the while feeling a small flutter in my stomach, and smiled as he launched into a story that would forever change my thoughts of him.
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