Chapter Ten
Friendships and Make-Overs

The day was cold. Outside, the rain was thundering down upon the gloom of the castle and Hermione was tired. She yawned as she ran yet another hand through Ginny’s silky hair. “I think you’re done,” she announced at last.

Ginny turned to face her with a dazzling smile. She did look beautiful. The girls had spent the afternoon making each other up - Hermione had only needed to apply a little blusher, mascara and an fade of eyeliner to make Ginny look gorgeous. Her smooth hair reflected colourful and bright in the glass of the mirror.

“Thanks so much, Hermione!” she grinned boldly, standing up and embracing her friend in a warm hug. “I look so much better.”

Hermione smiled. “It didn’t take much effort, Ginny. You look great all the time.”

“Thanks,” said Ginny, still smiling. She eyed Hermione doubtfully. “Not as good as you though. Your new look has really flattered your features Hermione. I mean, before, a boy wouldn’t have spared a second glance and -” She stopped herself. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be, it’s true.” Hermione sat down on the bed and yawned delicately. Crookshankes purred and leapt up on her lap. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have all the attention - I don’t enjoy it. It’s hard to know who your real friends are when you look like this.”

Ginny nodded sympathetically. “Well, you can trust me and Harry, for sure.”

“Hmmmm,” responded Hermione with drawn-together eyebrows. Trust Harry? She thought she could - but then he had let her kiss him. What did it mean? Did he have some desire for her? She watched Ginny guiltily. She certainly hoped not. What she’d done had betrayed the trust of both of them. She bit her lip angrily. Since when had she gotten so cruel?”

“Anyway,” continued Ginny, not catching the other girl’s uncomfortable manner. “What about Draco? Is he a friend?”

“Oh, he’s a friend, alright,” nodded Hermione with certainty, thinking of how Draco had the power to have her whenever he wanted, but he didn’t. He wasn’t like that. He was too nice, too respectful. She loved him for it - in a friendly way, of course.

“And Ryan?”

“Don’t mention his name,” Hermione growled darkly, turning away to pick up Crookshankes and plant him comfortably on her lap. She ruffled his thick ginger coat and sighed contentedly as the rich throbbing purr moved through him, his damp nose nuzzling her fingers affectionately. “I don’t want to see or hear about him ever again.”

“Oh, come on Hermione . . . It can’t be that bad,” Ginny assured her gently. She came to sit down beside her friend and ran a lingering hand through her gleaming hair. “I mean, you were in love with him once, weren’t you?”

“So I thought,” Hermione shrugged, feeling slightly depressed. Her mind went to that kiss she had shared with Harry, the way he had easily pulled her down on the bed and how she had almost let him - how they had almost - “No. I was in love with him. I am in love with him . . . And I thought he loved me. But it’s been three whole days and I haven’t heard anything from him. The next thing I know, he’ll be in the newspaper with some gorgeous girl, posing for the camera just to spite me.”

“Do you really think he’d do that?” Ginny enquired with surprise.

“No,” she responded after a slight pause. “And its awful of me to think it, but I just feel so betrayed that he’d ignore me for this long when really, he should be feeling as much hurt as me.”

“Well . . . Have you tried getting in contact with him?”

It was Hermione’s turn to be startled. “I hardly think so. Why would I want to do that?”

“Well, maybe he’s waiting for you to respond first. Maybe he’s as offended and depressed as you are, and thinks that you who should make the move to say sorry.”

“But he walked away from me!” Hermione protested with equal vigorousness. She was getting flustered now, but also confused. What if Ginny was right? What if Ryan was waiting for her to apologise? After all, she was the one who had hurt him horribly after rejecting his proposal for marriage. Suddenly her stomach turned over; she felt awful. “Oh god, Ginny - what have I done?”

“There’s still time,” Ginny soothed, touching her shoulder comfortingly. “You can write to him now. I mean, it’s not too late.”

“And what?” Hermione laughed bitterly. “Wait until he receives it by owl?”

“Well, why not? He knows you’re a witch, doesn’t he? Why not prove it to him by owl-post?”

“Don’t you think he might assume it’s a joke?”

“Well, if he does, then you definitely know he’s not worth it.” She stood up suddenly, grabbing Hermione’s hand and dragging her out of the room. “Come on, you can borrow Harry’s owl. I’m sure he won’t mind.”

“Wait - Ginny, I’m sure that’s not necessary -”

“Oh, who are you fooling, Hermione?” Ginny grinned lavishly. “You’re just bursting to hear from him.”

“What?” Hermione stopped, her lips trembling. “Hear from who?”

“Ryan, of course!”

“Oh,” she breathed, thinking Ginny had meant Harry. “Of course.”

“Going somewhere, ladies?” Draco Malfoy appeared in the doorway, another mug of coffee in his hands. Blaise was outstretched luxuriously on the sofa, his long legs spilling over the edge of the seat, a cigarette prised in between his mouth. Hermione eyed him wearily and wrinkled her nose at the stench of smoke - ever since Draco had mentioned Blaise’s attraction towards her, she hadn’t been able to trust him. He was nice enough towards her, but she knew now that he only had one thing on his mind. He was just another typical boy.

Hermione turned to regard Draco with a faint smile, whilst Ginny just bit her lip and cast her eyes angrily towards Blaise, who was smirking at her. She still wasn’t sure if the friendship these two Slytherins offered Hermione was genuine. Hermione couldn’t blame her - the pair hadn’t shown an inch of friendliness towards either her or Harry. It was only natural for her to feel resentful.

“I’m going to borrow Harry’s owl, so that I can make it up with Ryan,” she explained airily, not enjoying speaking aloud about her lost boyfriend.

“You can use mine if you like,” offered Draco generously, coming over to sit down alongside Blaise, kicking the youth’s feet off the settee to make room. “She’s upstairs in my room.”

“Oh,” said Hermione, feeling slightly relieved that she would not have to face Harry after all. “Well, thanks. Can I go and get it?”

Draco nodded. “Help yourself. It’s not like I’ve got anything to hide in there.”

She nodded and stood up, first glancing towards Ginny for permission to leave her alone.

“Go ahead,” the feisty red-head assured her. “I think I can handle these two.”

“Oh, really?” snickered Blaise, eyeing her up and down with a smile that was somewhat satisfactory. “I wouldn’t trust in that. Draco and I can be quite . . . unpredictable.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and smiled at Ginny. “Are you sure you’ll be ok?”

“I’ve seen worse,” Ginny nodded, going into the kitchen and flicking towards a cup of cold water so that it boiled with heat. “Mind if I make myself a drink?”

“Help yourself,” laughed Hermione. “I’ve heard that hot water is good for your blood.”

“No, I’m making coffee, stupid,” the girl snickered in return, heaping a spoonful of granules in. “I’ll make you one too if you hurry up.”

Hermione nodded and ascended the short staircase again to the landing that divided her room from Draco’s. She hesitated before turning the handle, resting her hand on the soft wood of the door before stepping inside. She felt like an intruder somehow, despite the fact that Draco had said she could come in here. She had never been in a boy’s room before, unless you counted Ron and Harry’s dormitory - but that was different, they were her friends, and as for Ryan . . . Well, they had been in love once. Still. Hopefully. But Draco Malfoy, her previous sworn enemy, now secured friend, was a Slytherin, and she wasn’t sure what sort of things Slytherins would have in their rooms.

Once inside though, she saw that it wasn’t all that bad. It was pristine in appearance, everything neat and tidy, nothing out of place, as if he had organised it to be so and save it from looking suspicious. Not that Hermione suspected him of anything, but even so . . . The curtains, heavy black velvet veils, had been drawn back and fastened securely, but they still strained against their tassels in an effort to block out the grey darkening light of outside. A widespread carpet of snow-white was ornated with a thick fox-fur rug, something Hermione greatly disapproved of. A four-poster bed was luxuriously splendid with its decorations of white Lily swirls across the ebony of the duvet and the crisp primness of the sheets. Varnished wood bordered the wardrobe, yet apart from that, the room was eerily empty, devoid of expression and indication as to what Draco loved in life. She stared at it all in silence for a while before she felt the lingering drive of silver eyes piercing into her back.

“Like it?” came the cold, drawling voice from behind her, filling her with a sudden rush of fear that walked gooseflesh over her skin, raising the tiny hairs on the back of her neck until they stood up like needles.

“Oh, sorry . . . I was just looking for your owl. She’s not here.”

“She’s right in front of you,” Draco replied sharply, nodding towards the window ledge where an eagle owl perched cleaning her feathers. “I wouldn’t have thought she would be that hard to find.”

“Oh, sorry . . .”

“When I said you could go into my room, I meant to get my owl, not so you could have a good look around.”

“I - I didn’t - or at least, I didn’t mean to! I didn’t touch anything, I swear, and I -”

“I’m only joking with you,” his cold face split into a smile and he closed the distance between them, touching her shoulder companionably. “Merlin, Hermione, you’re so tense. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing . . . I suppose that after all these years of us hating each other, I’m just still on my guard.”

“My only love sprung from my only hate,” he winked at her, walking to the window ledge and outstretching his palm with a clicking noise to that the owl hopped onto his wrist.

“Shakespeare? Romeo and Juliet . . . Love? Draco, what on earth are you talking about?”

He laughed again. “You’re gullible tonight, Hermione. Here, take the owl, and go and write that letter. Your split with that boyfriend of yours is making you go all paranoid and weird. The sooner you make it up, the better.”

She nodded but said nothing, going towards the door in a sort of daze.

“Oh, and by-the-way, do you mind if invite Pansy over here tonight? She’s my girlfriend, after all, and I haven’t spent much time with her.”

“Oh,” said Hermione, feeling a slight prickle of jealousy walk over her. “Oh, no, of course not. I didn’t know you two were together.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Only for the past, what, three years? Do you not recall seeing me with her at the Yule Ball, Hermione, or were you so absorbed in that Krum idiot that you didn’t notice?”

“Oh, yes I saw, of course I did, but I thought it was just an arrangement and - well, you two don’t exactly make your relationship very clear.”

He shrugged. “Not outside of the bedroom walls, anyway. But you’re my friend now, and we share these apartments - I thought you should know.”

She smiled slowly at him. “Well, thank you, and it’s fine. I don’t have a problem with it . . . Just, just get Blaise out of here, will you?”

Draco laughed and sat down on the bed, eyeing her with curiosity. “What’s wrong with Blaise?”

“Well, you said yourself, he’s only after one thing.”

“Yeah, but you know how to hold off from that . . . Or at least, you should have learnt by now. When I kissed you, it was meant to help you in how to resist. If Blaise even touches you and you don’t want it, he’ll have me to deal with, alright? In the meantime, I think you can still be friends with him. I think he mentioned some Potions work he needed to get done.”

“Oh, I get it,” she grinned. “You want me out of here so you can have the place to yourself with Pansy.”

He rolled his eyes. “So at last, you’ve caught on.”

She gave him a playful shove so that he fell back on the bed and laughed. “Be quiet, you! Ok, so I’ll get out, and I’ll study with Blaise. I only hope he won’t get the wrong idea.”

Draco sat up slowly and locked eyes with her. “Yeah, me too.”

She held his eye like that for the next few passing moments, before remembering that the both of them had a relationship that needed repairing, and they were, after all, only friends. Feeling a blush creep up her neck to entangle itself across the paleness of her skin, she spun around and headed out of the door, owl in her hand, already pondering upon what on earth she was going to say to Ryan.

Author's Note: Thanks to everyone for all their support in the reviews. I've realised now just to write what makes me happy, instead of writing for ships and everything. Thanks so much!! I love the ideas you've all given me too, and will certainly use the ones that fit best. Thank you, and please review. :-)

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