“Hermione Granger!” An angry woman stood in front of Hermione as she entered her play rehearsal.

“Er- Gwyne. How are you?” Hermione said weakly.

“How am I? HOW AM I? Hermione, you have failed to attend two consecutive practices. If you had any respect for myself, or Dumbledore, as he is the one who arranged this, you would at least give us the courtesy of showing up to rehearsal! And I assume you know that if you don’t have this down by next week, it will be you making a fool of yourself in front of your classmates. Not me, not Dumbledore, not anyone else. You.”

“I know, I’m sorry. But Malfoy hasn’t been here either, has he?” Hermione asked, hoping that Gwyne would emit some of her wrath toward Draco, since Hermione had found that she herself could not. This was mainly due to the fact that she was avoiding him.

“Draco has been here every rehearsal. He has had to rehearse with me, which was a great inconvenience to us both, myself especially,” Gwyne said stiffly. “In fact, he is on stage now, so you can get yourself up there and we can practice the eighth scene in act two.”

Hermione looked toward the stage nervously. She chastised herself for feeling this way and looked him straight in the eye, willing her gaze to be stony, but Draco was looking back at her with regret and Hermione had to shift her eyes to the floor.

“Okay, this is a serious scene. Hermione, you have to be angry,” Gwyne said.

No problem there.

“I really need you to get into this. That’s been your biggest problem. You know the lines, but it’s not believable. Just get angry in this scene. Play off of Draco; do whatever you have to do. I want you to feel as furious as Hope feels with Nathan for all their stupid fights. I want passion! And Draco, you need to be apologetic and angry at the same time. Hope was mean, but you insinuated the fights. We want the audience to be unsure if they want to be on your side or not, but they can’t hate you, okay?”

Draco nodded.

“So, Draco, you’re sitting on the chair in the beginning and then when things start to heat up, you stand. It’ll be your call as to when that time comes, though. Alright, action!”

“So this is it,” Draco said. “Hope, is this how you want it to end?”

“This is how I want the fighting to end, Nathan. This is how I want my unhappiness to end. This is how I want to make things go back to the way they were. I want to be happy again, Nathan! I can’t be that if you’re constantly picking fights with me.”

“I’m not picking fights with you!” Draco said.

“Nathan, yes you are! You hardly take a moment to breathe before you’re on me about something else! I feel like I don’t know you! And maybe I never did.”

Draco stood and took a deep breath, clearly in the moment.

“Hope, if there is one thing about me you don’t know then it must be something I don’t even know about myself.”

“Well, I don’t know why you’re constantly nagging on me. Why it’s like I’m not enough! Why you don’t see what a prick you’ve been!”

“Hope, if I ever hurt you it wasn’t intentional. I don’t understand what’s going on but I know that if I ever lost you it would be the worst day of my life.” And as Draco said this, Hermione felt something inside her jump, and she spoke her line with a quiet calm.

“Really? Because I hurt more than I ever have before.”

And as Draco stared down at Hermione, he couldn’t for the life of him recollect his next line. Images of her face from that night he’d declared she couldn’t mean less to him flew through his mind. He stared at her with sorrow in his eyes, caught in a reverie.

“BRAVO, BRAVO!” Gwyne called from her seat. “Divine acting, the both of you! Now, let’s see that kind of stuff more often and you’d receive an award! Okay, we can quit for tonight because I’m so pleased with that performance but I beg you two to continue rehearsing on your own time!”

Hermione sighed with relief at being able to escape the current uncomfortable situation. She took off at a near run towards the door, but Draco was on her heels, and he caught her by her shoulder just after she’d exited the room.

What?” Hermione said fiercely, turning towards him.

“Look, I didn’t mean what you heard me say to the Weasel. He was just pushing me and I snapped. I just wanted to make him mad.”

“Well, you certainly didn’t accomplish that, did you? He’s right giddy that you were such a prat to me, because now I don’t like you either.”

“Hermione, I—

“Oh, just leave it, Malfoy. We weren’t dating, were we? No. We were hardly even—,” Hermione paused, looking very flustered. Then she said stiffly, “We were hardly even friends,” and turned her back on him.

“But--,” Draco said to himself as she disappeared around the corner. “But I do care.”

And at that moment, Pansy chose to make a very indiscreet entrance, flouncing over to Draco very ungracefully.

“Draco,” she said, and Draco turned to her, doing a poor job of concealing his groan.

“Yes, Pansy?”

“What do you think of redheads?”

“What?” Draco asked, completely confused.

“I said, what do you think of redheads?”

“I heard what you said, but why the hell are you asking?”

“Oh, just wondering,” Pansy responded innocently, but there was a look in her eyes that seemed almost desperate, or hopeful.

Draco narrowed his eyes and said, thinking of Ron Weasley, “I think they’re foul.”

“Do you?” Pansy said, a smirk on her face, Ron Weasley on her mind. “I don’t.”

“Gods, Pansy, you’re acting weird,” Draco said, giving her a quizzical glance.

No weirder than normal.

“Am I?”

“Yes,” Draco glanced around, looking for something that might explain her behavior. Had Ginny Weasley a crush on him? Had she imperiused Pansy to ask him the question? Had- okay, he was overreacting. “I’ve got to go.”

Pansy nodded, and Draco was suspicious she didn’t shriek or follow him or something. He gave her one last glance and left, walking towards the Heads’ rooms.

* * *

“How’d he react? Did he know who you were talking about? Was he jealous?” A whispered voice.

“Oh, he was jealous alright.” A second voice. It sounded smug.

“Think he’ll give up on her? Go to you?” It was a boy’s voice. He was urgent.

“I can almost guarantee it.”

* * * * * * * * *

A/N Chapter 9 is up! And there is some devious plotting going on, as you can see! Now I’m thinking many of you may be able to decipher at least part of the “mystery,” but if not, you’ll just have to wait for the story to continue! And even if you think you’ve got it right, maybe you haven’t, so read on! Hehe. I’ll try and get the next chapter up soon! Reviews are lovely, so please make my day and leave me one! And thank you for the reviews I've already received! Thanks again!

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