“You told him?!” Ginny hissed at Hermione incredulously.
Hermione glanced around anxiously, wondering who else had heard Ginny spitting like an angry cat. “What was I meant to say?”
“Anything! Anything at all, except the truth! Just lie Hermione!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I’m not that good at coming up with lies off the top of my head!” Hermione heard her own voice reach angry cat notes and forced herself to suck in a terse deep breath. “What was I meant to say? Oh, yes Draco, I’m wearing an evening gown because I’m actually Princess Anastasia. Please return me to the Romanovs.” At Ginny’s blank gaze, she dragged in another breath. “Muggle reference. Ignore me.”
“Well, I’m sure you could have come up with something better than telling him the whole story!”
“He was in my room Ginny, it threw me off.”
“Well, curse first, think later. You could have come up with a perfectly good excuse if you’d knocked him out and changed your clothes, and hidden everything away.”
Hermione dug her spoon down to the bottom of her bowl. “It’s done now. And he said he wouldn’t tell a teacher.”
“No, Hermione. He said he wouldn’t tell a teacher yet. Yet is the key word in that sentence. He did not guarantee to keep our secret until we all leave Hogwarts. He guaranteed to keep your secret until it suited him.”
“Well, what am I meant to do?” Hermione contemplated flicking a spoon of porridge at Ginny.
“I don’t know.” Ginny tossed her hair over her shoulder in a flaming curtain.
“Just…just don’t tell anyone yet. I’ll figure out a solution to it.” Hermione looked pleadingly at Ginny. “Please. I’ll lend you my pearl hair clip for tonight.”
Ginny exhaled heavily. “OK, but only because that clip will look great on me. But seriously Hermione, what are you going to do about this?”
“I don’t know yet.” Hermione looked over her shoulder at the Slytherin table, but not seeing the flash of blonde hair.
Draco sat at his desk in the Potions class, way ahead of all the other students, even Granger. A smirk playing across his lips, he neatly arranged his books at precise right angles. What he had in mind promised to be great fun, he’d had a whole night to plot it, and he could already picture Granger’s face.
True to form and his expectations, she was early, arriving way before any of the other students were even beginning to think about leaving the Great Hall. He wondered idly why she did that? Was she hoping to gain some extra titbit of information that would put her so much further ahead than her classmates? He heard her small feet stop short as she saw him sitting at the desk, and he would have put money on her debating whether just to back out of the room and come back in with the rest of their class, when it was safer.
“Don’t chicken out Granger,” he drawled, not turning to look at her. “I was going to talk to you this morning, but you had mysteriously vanished before I got a chance.”
“Funny that.” He heard Hermione’s footsteps move behind him, in the direction of her desk. Her voice sounded more sarcastic than he had realised she was capable of.
“So then I got to thinking, what if I came and spoke to Slughorn before class? I mean, he’s not quite on the level of Snape, but as a previous head of Slytherin, I’m sure he has some vested interest in making sure that Gryffindor isn’t outdoing us.”
Hermione tried to muffle a gasp, and Draco couldn’t resist turning around to look at her face. Yes, exactly as he had expected: eyes wide with horror and anger, and her cheeks already pale. He had been hoping her mouth would drop open in terror at his deviousness, but he would settle for the clenched jaw that she was currently wearing.
She unlocked her teeth long enough to hiss “you wouldn’t.”
“Oh, wouldn’t I? Is that because it doesn’t fit in with what you’ve been telling all your friends? No Weasley, no Potter, Malfoy wouldn’t ever reveal our secret, he promised.”
“You flatter yourself with the idea that I would tell anyone about you going through my wardrobe in the middle of the night,” Hermione said coldly, but she couldn’t help her traitorous cheeks pinkening to the colour of strawberry mousse.
“So, it wasn’t Potter and Weasley. It’ll have been one of your friends though. You couldn’t have kept something like that to yourself, it isn’t in your nature. You would have wanted validation of your decision, someone to reassure you that you had made the right choice in not cursing me and choosing to believe what I told you.” Draco stood up and leant back against his desk. “Well Granger, am I right?”
“I told Ginny. She advised me to curse you now and think later.” Hermione’s hand involuntarily twitched towards her wand.
“Oh, but you wouldn’t do that Granger, because you’re worried that I’ll give you away.”
“I could just curse you so well that you wouldn’t never give anything away again. I don’t doubt that I would be doing every one a massive favour if I removed your ability to speak.”
“Now, there’s no need for that Granger.” Draco said sweetly, so sweetly that it set Hermione’s teeth on edge just to hear him. “I have been thinking a little more about what you said, and I’ve decided that I’m intrigued.”
“What are you talking about?” Hermione dumped her bag on the table, and glared at him as she began pulling books at.
”Granger, shall we try for a little civility? I have you in an unfortunate position, and you are simply going to have to make the best of being in that position.” Draco quirked an eyebrow at her, and Hermione couldn’t help but tear her wand from her sleeve.
“Make one more comment about ‘having me’ in any sort of position and you will regret it Malfoy, do I make myself perfectly clear?” Sparks shot from the end of her wand, and the set of her jaw forced Draco to put on the most sardonic tone he had to cover his next words.
“Of course Granger.”
“Now, what do you want?” Her eyes blazed at him, and he felt the need to square his shoulders before she totally emasculated him.
“I am intrigued by the idea of ‘Gryffindor things’. I want to see what they are.” He listened to himself with mild shock. He hadn’t meant to say it quite so baldly, quite so like he was asking for a favour. It was meant to be something that she offered him, and he accepted like royalty dispensing a favour to a peasant.
“No.” Hermione looked contemptuously at him and turned back to her desk.
“That’s it? You aren’t even going to try and placate me with an excuse?”
“Will you get over yourself, you pompous excuse for a human being? If you go and tell a teacher I will find a way to bluff myself out of it. It won’t be pleasant, and yes, you probably will ruin this for me, but I am not going to destroy the entire event for all my friends just because you are curious and trying to get one over on me.” Hermione slammed a textbook down on the table and looked at him angrily.
“You don’t have a choice,” Draco blustered, worried that he was losing his edge.
“Oh, I most definitely have a choice.” Hermione tapped her wand against the desk edge, ignoring the purple wisps that curled menacingly around her quills and ink pots. “I can ignore all your meaningless threats, and carry on with my life, much the way I always have.”
“Meaningless!” Draco hissed at her. She smiled blithely at him and made a neat stack of parchment in front of her seat. “I’ll show you meaningless!”
He turned around and stalked towards the small door to the side of the classroom, the one that led to the teacher’s study. Hermione had no doubt that Slughorn was sitting in emerald green splendour, waiting for the right moment to make his usual sweeping entrance. She bit her lip hard, willing herself to call his bluff, not to cave in to what was clearly just a petulant demand for attention.
Draco knocked loudly on the door. “Professor, may I talk to you for a minute?”
Hermione heard the heavy footsteps moving across the floor, and wondered exactly how inevitable it was that she would give in. Certainly not a foregone conclusion…
The wood door creaked open, and Slughorn’s puffy face peered through the crack. “Ah, Mr Malfoy, what can I do for you?” He stepped back, as if to allow Draco room to pass in. Draco turned and smirked at Hermione quickly, watching as the colour drained from her face.
“Well, it’s slightly awkward Professor, I’m not really sure how to start telling you this…It’ll just sound so peculiar…”
Slughorn’s brow furrowed, and Hermione’s nerves snapped. Darting away from her desk, she went to stand at Malfoy’s side. “What Malfoy means, Professor Slughorn, is that it can sometimes sound a little peculiar to lavish praise upon a teacher. I hope you won’t mind that we chose to come and tell you how much we enjoy your lessons before the rest of our classmates arrive.”
Draco looked down at Hermione, her brown eyes fierce in her pale face, as she looked at him with a false smile plastered across her lips, daring him to contradict her. “Is that what I mean Hermione?”
“Yes, Draco,” she growled his name. “It is exactly what you mean.”
“Well, I’m a very trusting person, and that has never worked out to my detriment.” Draco flashed a brilliant smile at Slughorn. “Yes, Professor, I just wanted to tell you that I think your lessons are absolutely brilliant, I enjoy them so very much.”
“Oh, thank you my boy,” Slughorn murmured, shutting the door to his office behind him as he stepped out into the classroom, chuntering about the joy of teaching and fine students. Draco kept nodding faux-attentively, his eyes on Hermione at all times, watching her anger with immense enjoyment. It might not have gone the way he planned, but he was willing to assume that he had still gotten his own way.
It wasn’t until a little later, when both of their potions were under control, and Hermione had rescued the grey putty that Ron had managed to create by stirring in his eye of newt too early, that the small note fluttered inconspicuously through the classroom and landed next to Draco’s hand. Carefully unfurling it, he read the rounded script.
I have no idea what you expect me to do.
Smirking, he erased her words, and replaced them with his own.
Granger, as everyone so delights in saying, you are meant to be the smartest witch of our generation. Surprise me.
Hermione poked her wand irritably at the parchment, sending it up in a blue flame. Surprise him indeed. She could surprise him in any number of ways, but they all involved him losing a limb or gaining an unfortunate impediment and somehow she was sure that that wasn’t what he had in mind. And as he had just shown that he was quite happy to go back on his word as and when it suited him, what choice did she have?
But then, how could she possibly show him what they did? He was Draco Malfoy. He was never going to be happy with skulking in the bushes trying to see everything. From her limited contact with him, she knew that he was enough of a show off to demand being the centre of attention, and being part of whatever party was going on. But he was never going to be welcomed. The Gryffindors would never accept having him at their party and knowing that they owed the continued success to one of the most objectionable Slytherins imaginable.
She absentmindedly stirred her potion, comforted by the gloopy noise within. An idea began to form. So the Gryffindors would never accept having Malfoy at their party. Well, he wouldn’t come as Malfoy. She could disguise him, that would be easy enough. And then, if she fabricated an excuse for some sort of masked ball, then everyone’s faces would be hidden. Draco wouldn’t be identified or able to identify any of them properly. Simple! Then, if she just got him to make a promise, a proper promise this time, that once he had seen that would be the end of it then she would be home safe and dry. Maybe if she could get some dirt on him. She could cast a spell on him, or drug him with Vertiaserum, get him to spill his most embarrassing secret, and then she would hold that over him and make sure that he kept his promise.
Draco glanced over his shoulder at her, and saw a small smile spark at the corners of her mouth. He turned back around and gave one final stir of his potion. It looked like he was going to join the Gryffindors.
AN: I think I need to stop promising to get these chapters up quickly…nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed it! Please review, it makes a massive difference. xxx HogH
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