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A week later and Blaise still wasn’t back.

Hermione had been sitting through class alone and taking her meals in the kitchen, speaking little if any to Professors as well as classmates. She missed him, of course, but fear had set in and she was beginning to heavily worry if he was alright or not. After her heated conversation with Malfoy the night Blaise didn’t come home, which had sent her to sleep crying, they hadn’t talked. He made a point to avoid her, and when he couldn’t help but be near, he would look anywhere but at her.

The transformation into a sexy and confident Hermione was still going on, even though she hadn’t felt like bothering with it since her biggest supporter was missing in action. Being anything but her new self would have sent up flags, and with all the gossip already floating around, the last thing she wanted was to tack on something else.

It was bad enough missing Blaise, but everyone gossiping about why he was gone and if it had to do with her was making it a little unbearable.

In addition to her school work and trying to not think about her boyfriend being gone, she had the Halloween dance to worry about. It would be October in just a few days, which left her only 4 short weeks to get everything done. She figured Malfoy wouldn’t be any help and most of the prefects wouldn’t either, meaning it all fell on her shoulders again.

That was one of the things she missed most because of her new reputation. Groups of friends laughing around her and passing conversation had more or less ceased since the majority of Hogwarts students thought she was being a poser. She was struggling internally with all of that nonsense; in her eyes she wasn’t being a poser, she was just growing up! She still stuck by her argument (though no one argued against her) that she was dressing differently and acting differently just like every other girl had done, it was just later than them. Most of her conversations were to the house elves in the kitchen or to herself as she did her homework. As she sat there eating whatever the house elves conjured up, she couldn’t help but think this was how the rest of her year was going to turn out.

However, this particular Friday night she was sitting in the courtyard outside the main doors of the castle. The Art of Seduction was resting against her legs, which were pulled up towards her chest, and her hair was pulled back into a bun. Most of the students were at dinner, and those that weren’t certainly weren’t spending their Friday evening outside reading a book.

“The Rake is as promiscuous with words as he is with women. He chooses words for their ability to suggest, insinuate, hypnotize, elevate, infect. The words of the Rake are the equivalent of the bodily adornment of the Siren: a powerful sensual distraction, a narcotic. The Rake’s use of the language is demonic because it is designed not to communicate or convey information, but to persuade, flatter, stir emotional turmoil, much as the serpent in the Garden of Eden used words to lead Eve into temptation.”

Who did that sound like?

“The less your targets focus on what you say, and the more on how it makes them feel, the more seductive your effect. Give your words a lofty, spiritual, literary flavor the better to insinuate desire in your unwitting victims.”

Hermione exhaled loudly, realizing for the first time that cold weather was coming fast as she noticed the faint outline of her breath. Fall was here, winter was on it’s way, and she had been so wrapped up in her new plans that she had barely noticed it was her favorite time of year! Her heart felt heavy all of a sudden as she remembered years past with Harry and Ron, how they’d have their scarves and sweaters from Mrs. Weasley and wear them around until they undoubtedly got new ones for Christmas. They would sit outside doing homework, or rather, she would do homework and they’d be goofing as usual, but sitting with her nonetheless. Floods of laughter and conversations hit her, and she involuntarily pulled closer in to herself, wishing some things hadn’t changed.

“At first it may seem strange that a man who is clearly dishonest, disloyal, and has no interest in marriage would have any appeal to a woman. But throughout all of history, and in all cultures, this type has had a fatal effect. What the Rake offers is what society normally does not allow women: an affair of pure pleasure, an exciting brush with danger. A woman is often deeply oppressed by the role she is expected to play. She is supposed to be the tender, civilizing force in society, and to want commitment and lifelong loyalty. But often her marriages and relationships give her not romance and devotion but routine and an endlessly distracted mate. It remains an abiding female fantasy to meet a man who gives totally of himself, who lives for her, even if only for a while.”

“What are you reading?”

Hermione snapped the book closed and looked up to see Tyler smiling down at her. “Oh, Tyler, um, nothing.” She put on a dazzling smile. “What brings you out here?”

Without hesitation, Tyler moved to sit on the grass next to her, smiling up at the sky as he leaned back on his hands. “I wasn’t in the mood for dinner, figured I’d take a walk in peace. Why aren’t you inside?”

She paused. “I needed some alone time.”

“Haven’t you had a lot of it? What with Blaise being gone and all.”

Hermione looked over at Tyler, who was looking at her in a mix of ways. “I suppose you’re right.”

“Where is he anyway? If you don’t mind my asking...”

She offered a weak smile. “To be honest, Tyler, I’m not really sure.”

He nodded, understanding that while he wanted information, she clearly wasn’t in the mood to give any. “How about you take a walk with me then?”

Hermione laughed happily. “Try to keep up with me!” With that said, she jumped up and took off running down the cobbled path that led outside the courtyard and to the open grounds.

Blaise had been only person she’d really hung around since school started, and while she loved it, it was nice to be around someone else, especially after a week alone. It felt amazing to be pumping her muscles, and feel the wind rushing around her as it kissed her skin. Without thinking, she burst out laughing and began slowing her pace until she was standing there with her head thrown back in elation.

Tyler watched her from a few steps away, thinking about how this was the happiest he had seen her since school had started. While they had talked a little before, she had tutored him a few times in the past, he had to admit he hadn’t been this aware of her in previous years. It was largely because of the transformation, if he was being honest with himself, but also because she was beautiful, really beautiful. He wanted to remember how she looked right in that moment: hair falling out of her bun, back arched as she laughed her heart out.

When Hermione had her happiness under control, she opened her eyes to see Tyler standing in front of her with a smile on his face. “I guess you just needed to let go, eh?”

She grinned and threw her arms around him, not caring that this was probably the last thing a seducer would do. “Thanks for reminding me.”

He laughed and held her close. “I didn’t do anything, but you’re welcome.”

Hermione let go and pulled the rubber band from her bun, not caring as the wind blew her hair all over the place. “I feel a lot better now, I was really missing Blaise.”

Tyler’s heart fell a little as she said it, but he continued smiling. “It’s understandable. But since he’s gone, I’m willing to fill the space!”

“Well, I could use a friend...”

“You’ve got one right here!”

Hermione smiled and motioned with her head back towards the castle. “How about you walk me up to the Head’s dorm?”

Tyler beamed. “It would be a pleasure.”

When they entered the castle, dinner was getting out and they fell in with the crowds of students leaving the Great Hall. Many people began whispering at seeing Hermione with Tyler, since everyone knew about how he had been blown off that first day, and because they hadn’t really seen her outside of classes since Blaise had left. Seeing her with a different guy made her that much more intriguing, and while she tried to ignore it, she could already hear whispers of her relationship with Blaise and what it meant now.

By the time the two reached the Head’s dorm, most of the students were off in different directions and not in that corridor. Tyler had kept Hermione laughing with jokes and funny stories, but now they fell silent.

“Well, thanks for walking me up here.” Hermione said finally, smiling and holding the book to her chest.

Tyler moved forward to hug her. “Anytime. Would you like to have breakfast together tomorrow? Around 9?”

She considered saying no, but why should she? Blaise had been gone for a week, hadn’t bothered to let her know why or if he was even ok, and wasn’t she supposed to be appearing desirable anyway? Wouldn’t he want her to get out there and be around the other students so they could crave her attention, envy her, drool over her even? Well, the drooling was a stretch, but she knew for a fact Blaise wouldn’t want her hanging in the dorm all day. At least not by herself.

Hermione smiled as Tyler pulled away. “I’ll see you then.” She winked, then turned on her heels and disappeared into the portrait hole after whispering the password in a flurry.

When she got inside, she breathed a sigh of relief as she slid down the wall by the portrait hole, her eyes closing while she tipped her head back and stretched out her legs. She knew Tyler had more than friendship on his mind, and she knew there would only be more rumors if she started hanging out with him, but she was craving some type of human interaction. Blaise would understand... That is, if he ever bothered to show up again.

She opened the book and continued reading.

“Remember: if no resistances or obstacles face you, you must create them. No seduction can proceed without them.”

Yes, because that made a whole lot of sense.

“The Rake is an extreme personality. Impudent, sarcastic, and bitingly witty, he cares nothing for what anyone thinks. Paradoxically, this only makes him more seductive.”

Hermione burst out laughing at the sentence just as her fellow Head emerged from the portrait hole, tripping over her outstretched legs. He managed to catch himself on his hands before his face hit the ground, but it was still a sight to see. As he got up, he turned towards Hermione with a look of pure anger.

“What the hell are you doing lazing about by the potrait hole!?”

She thought she was used to his outbursts, but it was clear she wasn’t as she shuddered slightly. “I was exhausted when I came in,”

“So you just sit wherever you like?!”

“Well it’s my common room too! I have that privilege!”

He kicked his bag fiercely, and they both watched as it soared towards the furniture. “Damnit Granger! Can’t you do anything right!?”

Before she could respond, he turned and stormed towards his stairs then up and into his room, slamming the door behind him.

Hermione was stunned. Sure they had gotten in arguements before, and it wasn’t like they’d ever been close in the first place, but it seemed like he was even more angry since their fight a week ago! Whenever she was near him it was almost like an electric pulse was keeping her away, hurting her if she got too close. She assumed it was because she had touched a nerve by saying he’d never cared about anyone but himself, or maybe it was because of her and Blaise. Either way, she had been stepping on eggshells for days and now it seemed like she’d be facing shards of glass instead.

Trying not to cry, she picked her book up from the ground, where it had dropped from her hands as he kicked his school bag. She smoothed her hair out of her face and took a few deep, calming breathes before standing up and moving silently into her room.

I’M SO SORRY IT TOOK FOREVER TO UPDATE! I’ve been really focusing on college and the studying takes up a lot of time, but hopefully you enjoyed this chapter!

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