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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…

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