Chapter Ten: A Potion of Mixed Feelings
Draco stared blankly at Hermione as she narrated what the Order had decided in their last meeting. He merely shrugged when she told him the Order had dictated that they both had to work out the plan to break into the laboratory and that they were supposed to go together on the mission.
“Right. So, when are we going to start planning this thing?” he asked when she finished her account of events.
“As soon as we receive those blue prints from Harry,”
“And when do you reckon that will be?”
“I don’t know really, it might take him a week or two. He has to steal them after all…”
“As long as Scarhead does it before I die of chronic boredom over here…”
“Ha-ha, Malfoy. If you are really that bored you could always clean the attic, Merlin knows it surely needs it. And anyway, Harry is a highly skilled Auror, with the things he has accomplished, stealing those documents would be the easiest thing for him!” she spat back.
“Oh sorry, didn’t know you carried a torch for dear Saint Potter!” he retorted.
“I beg your pardon?” asked Hermione outraged. “I don’t carry a- Harry is a married man! He’s my best friend!”
“That doesn’t stop you from carrying a torch for him, doesn’t it? I always knew that that friendship between you three was abnormal, maybe the Weasel and Pott-head shared you or something…”
“You are excused.”
“Hmpf! You are insufferable, Malfoy, I certainly don’t feel for Harry that way! And Ron certainly never-”
“Oh yeah sure, the way you just spoke about Potter for the past half hour really confirmed that!” he retorted. Draco didn’t really know why he was saying all that for he knew no truth lay in his words; however, he couldn’t stop himself from raging at Hermione. It was the bottled-up anger of the last few days suddenly pouring out of his system.
“You are ridiculous; for starters, Harry is not my type. He could share nothing in common with the person I fancy…”
“The person you fancy?” asked Draco, raising an eyebrow and smirking. This was getting good.
Hermione’s insides froze, though she tried to remain calm on the outside. What on earth made her say that? “The person I would fancy…” she tried to correct, but her voice betrayed her as it shook softly, though noticeably enough.
“Oh sure, Granger, the person you would fancy…” He repeated. Malfoy was very amused by the situation and Hermione’s furious blush. Before he knew it he was laughing at her wholeheartedly. Who on earth could Hermione fancy? She was this uptight woman who had decided to lock herself for the past moths and who’s only interaction had been with him…
His mind suddenly stopped in mid-track.
This time it was Draco’s insides turn to freeze, his mind went blank and his heart started to race pounding against his chest.
Yes, he was the only person she had had any interaction with in the past few months apart from the she-weasel, and he knew Hermione couldn’t possibly fancy her. As his smirk erased from his face, and he started to sweat, Hermione changed the subject for both their sakes.
“Ok, whatever Malfoy. This is the most mature conversation I have certainly had in my life. That being said, we should move on to more important matters.”
“Yes,” was all he could mumble. His mind still seemed to want to wonder about Hermione’s confession.
“Ok,” she began, taking back the control of the situation, “the ingredients for the potion should arrive soon. I already owled McGonagall about it and she said she’ll get them as soon as possible. So we still have about three weeks to come up with a plan on how we are going to breach that facility.”
“Yeah,” he replied, but he really hadn’t paid attention to a single word she had uttered.
“But although we won’t be receiving those blueprints until quite some time, we should still start thinking about it. I mean, we have to figure out how we are going to get to Edinburgh, I don’t think magical means of transportation are appropriate in this case, maybe Muggle-”
“Ok,” he mumbled. He heard Hermione’s words as a distant, indistinct sound. Why would Hermione confessing she fancied someone affect him like this? After all, who said it was him who she liked? Maybe she fancied someone before the Weasel died and she hadn’t paid attention to those feelings then, but now that he was gone… and after all, she had been to a meeting the day before so she could’ve seen him again. A pang of jealousy stung him but he decided to overlook it and label it as an anger manifestation.
“In the meantime you could help me brew the Polyjuice Potion, I will be needing help with that. And you are known to be skilled in potions anyway-” she rambled on.
“Sure,” his head spun in circles, he didn’t understand what was happening to him. After all, he had decided he wouldn’t care about Granger any longer since she was an egoistical, self-centred bitch. Oh yes, he had thought about it during the past few days and realized what she was when he replayed her words in his mind: she had been using him all this time, and worst of all, she had admitted it to his face! He was merely a… what was it? Oh yes, a window through which she had escaped from her boredom, or something like that. Anyways, he was just a toy she played with during her self-isolation. So why would he be affected by those little words, ‘the person I fancy…’?
“-and looking at the Edinburgh report, I realised we have to crush some of the lacewing flies at midnight and stew them for two days, which is different from the normal potion in which they have to be stewed for 21 days instead-”
“Yes, interesting,” he mechanically murmured. Maybe Granger wanted to make him jealous, his mind went on, but why would she? He hadn’t shown her any sign that might lead her to the assumption that he fancied her, he had been careful to hide it.
TO HIDE IT?
What the bloody hell was he thinking?
That was it. He was giving the matter too much thought, if he had arrived at such a ridiculous conclusion. He was definitely going bonkers. Besides, he was agreeing to help Granger with something without even being aware of what it was, he should start paying more attention to what she was saying instead of figuring out what his sudden uneasiness and his revolting stomach meant.
“ -so I think we could start with that this afternoon. I have the ingredients we need to make that mixture, and I reckon its better that way because the knotgrass is said to be most efficient when left for five consecutive nights by the moonlight. Are you paying any attention Malfoy?”
“Yes, we are going to leave the knotgrass outside by the moonlight for the next five nights… Libatius Borage also says that the knotgrass should be sprinkled with hot water before putting it out on the moonlight,” he added matter-of-factly, as it hell wasn’t unleashing itself in his mind.
“Well, yes. I was just about to say that same thing. Ok, so now we know what we are going to do, so we should get started then,”
Draco nodded as he rose from his chair. Now he had to figure out a way of making Granger believe he had heard her whole speech by looking as if he knew what to do now.
“Malfoy! Malfoy, come down here! Malfoyyyyy wake up, you lazy pain in the arse!” Hermione yelled for the fifth time, “Malfoy, McGonagall just sent in the rest of the ingredients!”
As she shouted her last words, Draco walked yawning into the kitchen and wearing nothing but a pair pyjama trousers; he was obviously annoyed by Hermione’s way of waking him up. “What’s all the fuss about? It’s barely seven o’clock in the morning; please woman, you don’t have to scream like that.”
It wasn’t Draco’s admonition, but his half naked body, that shut up Hermione. She couldn’t turn her eyes from his bare muscular chest. It had been years, she thought, from the last time Draco had played Quidditch and he still seemed to maintain that spectacular body that had made him so famous within the female population during their school years. When she lifted her eyes she saw Draco smirking at her with an amused look.
“Do you like what you see, Granger?” he asked sneering.
Hermione turned her head violently and looked away. She grabbed a package lying on the table and thrust it in Malfoy’s hand without looking at him. Still, she didn’t manage to hide her blushing face.
“That’s just arrived,” she managed to say in a small voice. “It’s the rest of the ingredients we needed.”
Draco took the parcel and opened it. Although he seemed to examine its contents, his mind was replaying the lustful look Hermione had given him moments ago. He was pleased to learn he still had the same effect on women, especially on Granger.
Oh shit, his mind had betrayed him again.
It was the second time in three days he caught himself acknowledging some kind of thing for her. This couldn’t go on. Firstly, because he hated her, she had admitted to have been using him. Secondly, because, well just because.
“I just picked up the knotgrass you left out last night. Now, with the rest of the ingredients here we can begin to brew the potion. Its perfect timing if you think about it, for the knotgrass is supposed to be added on the second day, and that’s exactly when it will be ready,” she stated handing him a hot cup of tea. “I’ll see you later then.”
Hermione tried not to run from the room but still she left quickly enough, before Malfoy could say anything else to her. As she entered her room she scolded herself from being so careless lately. This was the second time in three days in which she messed up like that. She had almost admitted that she fancied Malfoy last Saturday, and now she had been caught staring at him as if he was the last man on Earth. After Saturday’s incident, Hermione had prepared a bath for herself and sank in it for two hours; this was the best way she found to relax and think about things properly. She thought about everything that had happened between her and Draco in these past few days. She replayed that terrible morning in which she had been so unfair to him, followed by all those days in which he had chosen to ignore her. What struck her the most, although it took a lot for her to accept it, was how bad she felt about the whole situation and how badly she wanted him to forgive her. That night after thinking about the matter over and over, until the bubbles were gone, she admitted to herself that she felt something for Draco Malfoy, or at least she felt really, seriously attracted to him.
She threw herself on her bed and sighed as she grabbed her pillow. These past few days had been hell for her: she and Malfoy had worked so closely on this potion together, but although she desperately wanted to have a decent conversation with him, she had been unable to. She rolled on the mattress and groaned into her pillow. This whole situation was getting as complicated as any situation could get. Yes, she may have admitted to herself that she was attracted to Malfoy, but still it wasn’t easy to accept it. The guilty feeling that surged inside her every time she thought of him made her insides churn and her palms sweat. It wasn’t only the fact that the love of her life had been killed barely eight months ago; it was also the fact that she was falling for the guy Ron hated as much as he hated Snape, or his fourth year’s dress robes.
This was Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake! She found it so difficult to believe that she could so easily overlook the six years of hatred during their schooling years. This was the guy who used to call her Mudblood, this was the sneaky Slytherin who managed to get Hagrid into as much trouble as possible; not only with the Buckbeack Incident (as she called it in her head) but with Umbridge The Hag as well. And those were just the first items on an incredibly long list of things that Malfoy did to the trio while at Hogwarts.
On the other hand, he had changed so much since those days. He had joined the Order and truly committed himself to the cause. Sure, he sometimes let out his sneaky remarks and sought so many unnecessary fights with Harry… But he had made it quite clear that he did not wish to follow into his father’s footsteps. He had even saved Harry’s life twice, although Harry still denied it and put it to mere luck and good timing. And there was also that day when he remembered his mother’s death, he had shown his vulnerable and human side; the side Hermione never thought he could have. So, if Draco had changed so much, if he had finally matured and walked away from the Death Eater’s path, why would it be so bad to be in a relationship with him? Ron would want her to be happy, he had told her so. Not only that night in her vision, but two years ago…
“Are you ready, Mione?” he asked her.
“Yes,” she responded in a quivering voice.
“I’m scared too, you know,” he spoke those words softly, almost like a murmur.
Hermione looked up into his eyes, she saw fear in them, but she also saw comfort and bravery, it made her feel so much better. She always thought that the biggest act of bravery was to admit your fear and face it, and that was exactly what they were going to do that night.
“Hermione, I need to tell you something,” Ron began.
“I’ve loved you since Merlin knows when, I’ve always loved you. Even before I met you, I was already in love with you because you are the girl of my dreams. I know it took me a lot of time to confess my feelings for you, and I regret it. I wish I could’ve been with you since our fourth year, but I can’t change the past now…”
“Let me finish, I’m not good at this stuff and now that I already started… Anyway, the thing is I love you, and all I want is to make you happy. But we don’t know what may happen tonight, so I just want you to know that if I don’t have the chance to make you happy, I still wish you all the happiness in the world,”
“Ron, you are scaring me, nothing-”
“Anything can happen. This is it Hermione, don’t you see? This. Is. It. Tonight we’ll set out for the most important adventure of our lives; you know that tonight we will help Harry decide the future of the Wizarding World. After tonight it might be all over, for good. But still, anything can happen, so I just wanted to tell you I’ve always loved you and always will. I just want you to be happy.”
“Ron, please don’t say those things. We’ve survived so many things together, so we just have to stick together and nothing will happen. And after all this goes away we can begin our lives together, and we’ll be happy. We will both have the chance to make each other happy,”
“You are right. We just have to stick together.” He gave her a weak and unconvincing smile. “I won’t let anything happen to you tonight.”
“I won’t let anything happen to you either,” she smiled back. As Hermione walked towards the door, Ron grabbed her wrist and turned her around. After a long passionate kiss he finally spoke.
“I just want you to know how much I love you. I just want you to be happy.”
“I know,” she responded giving him a soft kiss. “Now let’s go find Harry, it is time.”
And he had made her happy. After that night Ron asked her to marry him, they moved in together in Hermione’s flat and for the most wonderful year they had shared each other. Fate had prepared something quite different from what they had in mind, though, but nothing could take away from them what had been the most amazing year of their lives. Now, that was all in the past, Hermione thought sighing, it was all gone by. Now, she had to move on. She was there, alive, healthy and she should enjoy it. After all, Ron had said to her that someone deserved her future, she deserved to have a future. A future that coincidentally, Malfoy deserved as well.
“We’re never gonna finish this thing, are you sure we are doing it right?”
“Of course I’m sure; we’ve followed all the directions… I don’t understand, it should be murky brown by now, but it’s still green…”
“Oh really? I hadn’t noticed…”
“You are not funny, this is not funny…”
“Just admit it, you messed up!”
“I messed up? We have been doing this together, so if something’s gone wrong it’s both our faults!”
“Well maybe you screwed up the knotgrass or something!”
“I have certainly not screwed up anything!”
“You did something to the potion, Granger, you should’ve let me add the boomslang skin. You put it in way too fast; it says it has to be slowly incorporated!”
“I did it slowly; I know I did it as it should have been done! I’m never wrong with these things…”
“Aww, you are so humble…”
“Stop it Malfoy, I’m just confident.”
“Oh… That's what you call it? Because I call it-”
“Finally!” Hermione exclaimed cutting Draco off. “It’s turning brown! See? I told you I did it right!”
“Oh yes, you never doubted, not for one second.”
“Shut up, Malfoy!”
It had been like that for the past four days. They argued constantly about the potion and the process of actually making it. It was driving Hermione crazy, having Malfoy breathing down her neck all the time, checking all her moves and jumping on her every time he thought she had done something wrong. Malfoy, it seemed to Hermione, was upset about something, apart from the fact that he was still angry at Hermione, that is. He was nervous or stressed about something and it was getting on Hermione’s nerves.
“You can’t admit your mistakes, can you, Granger? It’s the Gryffindor’s pride shining upon you.”
“Ok, that’s it!” she yelled at him. “I’m sick of your insults, I’m sick of your mean remarks, I’m sick of you!”
“Oh yes, and I’m just jolly, ecstatic, simply thrilled to be here sharing time with you.”
“I can’t take this anymore, you are driving me insane!” she said ignoring his come back.
“That would be an accomplishment,” he retorted calmly.
“Look I know you are stressed… or nervous about what’s happening, buy why, why do you take it out on me? I haven’t done anything to you whatsoever.”
“Nothing? Oh, really?” but before he continued he shut his mouth. He couldn’t admit to her that he was hurt by what had happened between them, he was not supposed to care.
“Yes? I’m listening… just tell me what it is I did to upset you like this. You bite my head off anytime I move; I can’t take this any longer.”
“You haven’t done anything to me,” he stated.
“You are still mad about that morning, aren’t you?” she asked gathering up the courage necessary to begin a conversation she thought they needed to have. “I already apologized to you, I don’t know what else so you want from me, beg? I’ve given you time to think about what I said, but you still seem so angry. Why can’t you just forgive me? I admitted to have made a mistake, but you, you…”
“I what? What, Granger, enlighten me, please.”
“You are still angry! It was such a stupid thing, you should get over it. For Merlin’s sake, Draco,” Hermione noticed Malfoy wince; he was probably surprised to hear her call him by his first name. “I told you I was sorry, I explained to you how I felt, I mean… I don’t know what else to do here. This situation is killing me!”
“Well if you want me to, I can leave. I’ll just go somewhere else or something,” he spat back.
“No, I don’t want you to leave. Didn’t you understand a single word I said to you that day? I told you, I need you Malfoy, I need you.”
“Yes, I remember that bit perfectly. You get bored when I’m not here to entertain you, I’m just a, what was it?” He asked mockingly pretending to be looking for the answer, “oh yes, I remember now; a window, a fucking WINDOW! Next time, I’ll appreciate it if you called me a door, it’s bigger you know,”
“Oh shit, you didn’t understand a single word I said. You can be so thick, it surprises me you achieved so many O.W,L,s, no wonder you didn’t stick around for N.E.W.T.s!”
“You are hilarious Granger, I just can’t stop laughing,”
“Get over yourself, Malfoy, if you don’t want to understand what I said to you that day, if you don’t want to understand how I feel for you then just leave it like that, fine. See if I care! But I would appreciate it if you could be just civil towards me though,” she snapped.
Draco fell silent. What if she was right, what if he had missed her whole point? And what did she feel for him?
“Well then what did you mean when you called me a freaking window?”
“I-” Hermione started, though she didn’t know how to explain it. She thought she had done a good job the first time. “You have changed my life Malfoy, you have changed the way I saw life, or at least my life after Ron’s death…”
Draco still looked at her quite confused, so she went on. “I told you, how I felt so guilty from wanting to move on after his death.”
“I did understand that part,” he cut in. After a moment’s hesitation, he began explaining. “I kinda know how it feels; I felt the same when I joined the Order leaving mother behind. I felt I didn’t have the right to be happy or to enjoy myself; she was still with that man. Suffering and pretending for his sake, just because she loved him. But then I realized that had been her choice, she had chosen to stay by his side and remain a Death Eater, that was the life she chose, I couldn’t do anything about it and I couldn’t prevent myself from living my own life because of her decision.”
Hermione stared at him. She was surprised by the way he had suddenly opened his heart. It was so unlike him. She still moved on. “Ok, so when I said you were the window through which I escape from my misery, I meant that you make me feel alive again. You make me want to live, Malfoy, you give me a reason.”
“How?” he asked disbelievingly. “You barely know me, we hate each other.”
“I- I don’t know. I just feel better when I’m around you. I like talking to you, I like sharing things with you.”
“Then why were you so upset that morning? I was only trying to help you, trying to be there for you. I know I might suck at being there for people, since the first time I did that for someone apart from my mother was that night you woke up screaming,”
“I know. I treated you so unfairly snd I know you didn’t deserve it, that’s why apologized. But don’t you see? Don’t you understand?” She looked at him desperately but still saw that confused look in his face. “That night something strange happened to me. I had a vision of Ron leaving me for good. He said I should have the right to live my life, he said that someone deserved my future and that I was to be happy and not miserable for the rest of my life. But even though he said all those things to me I still felt guilty for wanting to stop mourning him, for wanting to live again.
"So I woke up and you were there. And you were like an incarnation of the freedom I wanted and hated so much at the same time. And I got so confused and angry, and I just let it out on you. And I’m really sorry for being such an arse, I’m sorry for treating you like if I didn’t appreciate your concern, because I did. I have to admit that you being there for me that night, spending all that time by my side comforting me, made everything easier to take in.”
“It did?” he asked bewildered.
“Yes, it made all the difference,” she rushed.
“I- I don’t know Granger… I mean, this,” he said pointing at both of them, “it’s just so weird. I don’t understand what’s happening between us. I- I need to think about this. I- don’t know.”
And without another word Draco walked out of the room ignoring Hermione’s shocked look. Now, Hermione was more confused and hurt than ever.
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