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A/N: I promised the next chapter soon, and so here it is! This update has been VERY quick for me. Please congratulate me by letting me know what you think of this chapter!

          The next morning, Theo Nott woke to the loud commotion of Crabbe and Goyle’s argument.

          “Oi! That’s my shoe you’re wearing!” Goyle wailed.

          “What are you talking about, you loon? You just saw me get it from inside my trunk!”

          “Did not!”

          “Did too!”

          “What is it with you and shoes? Don’t steal nothin’ else, just shoes…”

          Crabbe harrumphed. “If you’re so damn convinced that it’s yours, why don’t you have the other one?”

          Goyle’s voice was strained to the edge of hysterics. “Because you’re wearing it!

          In the bed to the right of Nott’s, Blaise rolled over, mumbling something sleepily. After several moments, he extracted an arm from his blankets, fumbled around on his bedside bureau, and grabbed his Charms textbook. Without opening his eyes, he chucked the book in the vague direction from which Crabbe and Goyle’s idiotic ranting ensued. Nott watched in wonder as the remarkably aimed book sailed straight towards them, and then clipped Crabbe in the head. Blaise had gotten lots of practice over the years.

          Unable to go back to sleep, Theo Nott glanced apprehensively towards Draco’s bed, to his left. Usually this was Draco’s cue to stick his head, disheveled with sleep, out of his curtains, and yell for “the bloody imbeciles to shut up.”

          After which, of course, the bloody imbeciles would shut up.

          But today, no such thing happened. The Slytherin king remained in his bed, and by all appearances, undisturbed. If Nott listened closely, he could hear a faint snore emanate occasionally from Draco’s bed.

          He glanced at the clock. It was a little past eight. Time to get up anyway. After all, though the tousled look suited Blaise (the handsome boy always looked as if he had just ended a session in the broom closet), both he and Draco needed time to comb and gel their hair correctly before going down to breakfast.

          Nott began to head into the bathroom before remembering that Draco had not yet stirred. What was it he had said yesterday?

          “If I don’t wake up the same time as the rest of you tomorrow, wake me up, okay?”

          Nott sighed. He was not looking forward to this particular task, as the Slytherin king was not very chipper in the mornings. However, he dreaded even more the consequence of not doing what Draco had asked him to, and so strode over to the bed and threw back the curtains. There Draco slept, as he always did.

          Apprehensively Theo Nott reached out a hand to prod Draco’s shoulder. When he got no response, he shook him a little harder. “Hey, mate, it’s time for breakfast. We’re all awake.” He shook him until Draco’s entire body began to move.

          There was no response from Draco. Nott’s heart began to pound. He wondered if this was some test of his ingenuity, set up by Draco or Nott’s father, or even the Dark Lord himself. Grabbing Draco’s beloved locks of hair, Nott braced himself, grimacing, and pulled. But he had succeeded in nothing but to extract the Slytherin king’s face from his pillow. Still Draco slept on.

          Hurriedly Nott released Draco’s hair and looked around. Blaise was still sleeping, and the other two were now in the bathroom, brushing their teeth. What was he supposed to do now?

          Spotting his wand on his bedside table, he reached over to grab it. “Aguamenti,” he pronounced, aiming the wand directly at the back of Draco’s neck. Water gushed out and trickled over the pillow, but there was still no movement from Draco.

          And then suddenly, his hand twitched violently, nearly scaring Nott into dropping his wand.

          “Dr-Draco?” Nott asked nervously. “Are you awake?”

          But as soon as it had come, the movement was gone. Nott was about to turn away when he heard a soft mumble, muffled by the pillow but a distinctly spoken sentence nonetheless.

          “You make me want to be something different,” Draco said, and sighed. Then he flipped over and was still again.

          “Hello?” Nott cried. “Draco?!” No movement from the sleeping boy. Nothing. Nott was sweating now. He was out of ideas. Without a word to the goons, he sped out of the dorms and up to the Great Hall.

          Still in his pajamas, Nott barreled across the Entrance Hall and through the double doors. He shot up the aisle between the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables and headed straight for the teacher’s table at the front of the room.

          “Professor—” he gasped when he finally reached them. All up and down the hall, students were glancing after him curiously.

          “You’re causing a spectacle, Mr. Nott,” said Flitwick squeakily, who sat closest to where Nott was now standing. He attempted to look stern. “What is it that is so urgent?”

          “Professor—” Nott was breathing heavily and could not speak more than a word at a time.

          “Yes, yes, we are all professors,” Snape drawled. “But if you do not specify which one of us you are addressing, I’m afraid that none of us are in a position to do anything for you,” he said sardonically. “It would help to know the problem, as well.”

          Nott had caught his breath. “Draco Malfoy’s bedridden, sir,” he told Snape, panic in his voice. “I cannot wake him up, no matter what I do.”

          Far from alarmed, the smirk on Snape’s face was quite amused. He glanced down the teacher’s table at Minerva McGonagall, who was scanning the Great Hall. She looked from the Slytherin table to the Gryffindor table, searching for two students in particular. Then she caught Snape’s eye.

          “They’re not here,” she mouthed to him, and they both rose.

          “Thank you, Mr. Nott, you may sit down and enjoy your breakfast,” Snape said, and turned his back.

          “But, sir, I’m wearing—”

          “There will be no need for you to join Professor Snape in your dormitory, Mr. Nott,” McGonagall said firmly as she passed. “You may get dressed later.”

          Nott watched in bewilderment as the two teachers stalked quickly out of the Great Hall.

          Forty minutes later, Draco had finished wolfing down his breakfast just in time for the end of the meal. He stood up and joined the large throng of students that were headed for the door. Rather than fight the crowd, he let himself be swept away among the other Slytherins, which left his mind free to wander.

          What in the world was going on with him? Every time he went to the island, he became a loon. There was something about that place which forced him to shed all of his inhibitions and restrictions, and revert back to the person he could’ve been…had things been different.

         “But things aren’t different,” Draco snarled to himself. “Things are exactly the way they are. They’ll never change.”

          He caught himself wishing that they would change, but dismissed the thought with a twitch of his head. He concentrated on trying to get out of the Great Hall and to his first class, Potions, without taking so much as a glance in Hermione’s direction. It was quite difficult.

          “Hey, mate.” Blaise came up from behind and nudged him in the arm. “Sleeping like a rock this morning, you were. Up late last night?” He winked at Draco suggestively.

          Draco groaned. “I wish,” he muttered honestly. “But I was having some beautiful dreams before Snape had to come in and interrupt them,” he said, grinning lewdly.

          “What did he want, anyway?” Blaise asked, frowning.

          Heart pounding as he realized that he could hear Hermione’s voice behind him, Draco thought quickly for a lie he could tell Blaise. “Er—I left a note asking for an extension on today’s Defense Against the Dark Arts paper,” he said. “Snape told me no.”

          “Oh.” Blaise shrugged. “Well, good luck. See you in Potions, then.”

          He walked off, to Draco’s relief. It was hard for Draco to talk to him and listen to the sound of Hermione’s voice at the same time.

          “…so I told Professor that I’d be glad to help her, only I have a giant essay due tomorrow in Defense.”

          Her voice was growing closer. It may have just been the paranoia kicking in again, but Draco could hear her as clearly as if she was standing right behind him. Then he realized that he had stopped walking some time ago and was currently standing stationary in the middle of the Entrance Hall. She was standing right behind him.


          Draco whipped around. It was her.

          He swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling very dry. “Yeah?” he asked with some difficulty.

          “I was just wondering…” Hermione trailed off, looking embarrassed.

          Draco frowned. All of Hermione’s Gryffindor friends were looking at them. He could also practically feel the eyes of the Slytherins boring into the back of his head. Thank Merlin Potty and the Weasel weren’t there, too. But all the same, he wished she would just get on with it.

          “Well?” he asked, a tad sharply.

          “I’ve been trying to get good grades in Defense, which is very important to me, but no matter what I do Professor Snape doesn’t like me very much, and I know that he likes you, so I was wondering if maybe you could help me on my essay,” Hermione said very quickly. Draco almost smirked, but stopped himself just in time to remember that he was also feeling a blush coming on.

          At that impeccably timed moment, Potter chose to make an appearance. “Hey, Hermione, are you going back up to the Tower before class?” he asked.

          Hermione glanced at Draco fleetingly before turning back to Potter and answering. “I—I don’t think so,” she said, sounding flustered. “Sorry, Harry.”

          “Oh, that’s okay,” Potter said. “It’s just that I left that awful new Herbology book in the common room last night and…” He trailed off, having finally spotting Draco, who was still standing near Hermione and looking uncomfortable. Potter frowned at him. “What are you looking at, ferret? Bugger off!”

         “No, Harry, wait, I was talking to him,” Hermione protested uncertainly. Potter’s jaw dropped.

          “Him? Hermione, what were you talking to him for?!”

          Draco coughed. “I am here, you know, Potty,” he said coldly.

          “Don’t call him that,” Hermione admonished him, frowning. “He’s my friend so you better treat him with the same respect that you give me.”

          “Wait,” Potter said, holding up a hand. “You”—he looked at Hermione—“are friends with Malfoy? When did this happen?” He glared at Draco as all of the surrounding Hogwarts students stopped walking and gathered around to watch the standoff.

          Hermione was wringing her hands worriedly. “Harry, please calm down. You don’t understand—”

          Draco was done with Potter and his stupid issues. He wasn’t going to stand here a moment longer and subject himself to Potter’s idiocy, what with half of Hogwarts watching. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Professors Flitwick and Slughorn lurking near, ready to intervene at any sign of a fight. Even the most oblivious of teachers knew an explosive situation when they saw one.

          “You don’t have to explain to Potty, Hermione,” Draco said, his upper lip curled. “There’s nothing even to explain. I suppose I change my mind after this.” He eyed Potter maliciously. “I forgot who you were friends with.”

          Hermione gasped. “But I thought you said I made you want to be something different…?” she said softly, looking distressed.

          Draco pushed away the mounting guilt inside his heart, and made to turn away from the group of Gryffindors. “That was in our dreams, Hermione,” he said. His voice was gentler than before, almost apologetic. “It could never happen, really. I’m sorry I thought it could.”

          He began to walk away, but Hermione was not about to give in so easily again. She made one last effort.

          “But Draco, what about last night?!” she cried.

          The entire Entrance Hall fell silent as Hermione’s words echoed off of the walls. Draco saw Flitwick and Slughorn freeze, as did all of the other students who were not already gathered around them. Potter’s eyes were as big as tea saucers.

          Everyone except Draco and Hermione contemplated her words for a moment. They looked from Draco’s guilty expression to Hermione’s quivering chin and filling eyes.

          And they could draw only one conclusion.

          “Oh, no,” Draco whispered as the cold dread of realization filled him. “Oh, no. T-that’s not—”

          Hermione, her cheeks flaming, shoved past him and whispered, “Oh, bugger. Now see what you’ve done,” and hurried out of the Entrance Hall.

          Draco wanted to follow her and comfort her, but was slightly afraid that Potter would punch his lights out if he did. He compromised by plodding slowly off to Potions and promising himself that he’d talk to her alone once they were back on the island that night. For now, all he could do was pray to Merlin that nothing would get out of control.

A/N: So, it's time for Draco to pray to Merlin that Ron doesn't believe the rampant rumors, huh? =] 

This story started as a romance and turned into a humor fic. Strange how these things, what do you think? Please review!

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