Chapter 16 : Pranks and Reveals
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AN: Please read and review, thanks!
Hermione rushed down to the kitchens to meet up with Blaise. He was sitting at one of the tables in the back of the kitchens, a large plate of sandwiches, pitcher of pumpkin juice, pot of soup and a variety of deserts laid out on the table in front of him. Hermione raised one eyebrow.
“Trying to eat a whole house’s worth before I get here?” She asked him, smiling.
He grinned back at her as he placed a sandwich on his plate. “Nope.” He said. “I just thought it best if I got the food from the house elves before you got here. I wasn’t sure if they like you or not, considering how you are always trying to free them. I didn’t want to suffer hunger all afternoon just because you have issues.”
Hermione lightly smacked him upside the head. He laughed and she sat down.
“So,” she said. “Let’s get to planning. I want him to get nervous. I want him to start believing that I honestly think you are my pen-pal.”
“Am I supposed to think you are mine? Because I don’t think he’ll buy that.”
“No. It’s much simpler than that. You just have to act like a typical pig of a guy. You’ll tell him that you are not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, saying that if I think you’re my pen-pal, you might as well play along and see what you can get out of it. Make it sound like you are going to try to play me, or use me, whatever.”
“Aren’t you worried he’ll pound me? You are his friend, outside of the pen-pal thing.” Blaise looked like he was the one who was worried.
“No. I think he’ll be a bit protective, but mostly I think he’ll be trying to find a way to re-convince me that he’s my pen-pal. We’ll just have to play it by ear.”
The unlikely pair spent the rest of the lunch hour concocting plans to have Draco ‘catch’ them talking, socializing, and making plans. It wasn’t going to be a long prank, just a couple days, but they hoped to get him good.
“I was so surprised when Draco indicated to me that you fit the description of my pen-pal. Somehow I just never really considered you as a possibility. I’m glad he talked to me about you.”
“So am I. I am more than happy to get to know you better. Letters just can’t compare to meeting face-to-face, can they?”
“Certainly not. How about we go find the room of requirement and talk for a while?”
Draco heard these voices talking as he walked towards the Heads’ common room. He planned on doing some homework and knew Hermione would probably be doing the same. He hoped to get to really talked to her for the first time since the dance. Their guesses would be revealed tomorrow, but he knew it was her, so why wait? But the voices confused him. He knew those voices.
Turning the corner his suspicions were confirmed. He managed to just see Hermione and Blaise turning at the end of the corridor, headed in the direction of the room of requirement.
Draco was a bit confused, but it he pushed it to the back of his mind and went to do his homework.
“I had no idea you liked Hogwarts: A History. It was one of my favorite books from the moment I learned I was a witch, but it doesn’t seem that many people have read it.”
Hermione’s voice drifted to Draco’s ears through the door to their shared common room.
“I know! But it’s so useful to have read that before coming to school. I think it should be mandatory summer reading before first year.” Blaise’s voice responded.
“I completely agree. I tried to convince Harry and Ron to read it, but they always said they could just ask me, so why bother.” Hermione enthusiastically replied.
“That’s just laziness. Everyone should read it for themselves.” There was a brief pause. “Well, I should head back to the Slytherin common room. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?”
“Of course, goodnight!”
The sound of receding footsteps could be heard as the portrait hole opened and Hermione stepped through. Draco looked up, even more confused.
“Why are you suddenly hanging out with Blaise?” His subtlety was amazing.
Hermione turned to where he was sitting on the couch, her face showing surprise, like she hadn’t known he was in the common room.
“Well,” she responded, walking over to sit down. “You mentioned at the dance a few things that lead me to believe he might be my pen-pal, so I thought I should get to know him better. He agreed, so we are going to start hanging out together more often.” She smiled at him, snuggling up in the chair cushions. “How about you? Do you think you know who your pen-pal is?”
Draco looked shocked, like he hadn’t considered she might believe him, despite that later letter. “Um, I think so, but I don’t want to tell you just yet.” Draco was trying to think on his feet, metaphorically speaking, but he wasn’t entirely sure how to handle such an odd outcome.
The next day at breakfast there was an increase in the amount of chatter, compared to most mornings. Everyone was waiting to see if they would get a letter confirming their guesses. As owls began circling the Great Hall, looking for the proper recipients, six students received special black envelopes from owls belonging to the school. Dean Thomas smiled over at Padma Patil as he opened his letter, confirming that they were pen-pals. Ernie Macmillan turned to his friends, excited to show off that he’d been correct when he guessed that his pen-pal was Daphne Greengrass. Finally, Lisa Turpin turned from her place at the Ravenclaw table to give a courteous nod to Theodore Nott at the Slytherin table, as they received their matching letters.
The hall broke out into even more excited conversation as people speculated on who their pen-pals could be, since most people had guessed incorrectly. Draco, sitting next to Theodore, with his black letter, and Blaise, with no letter, stared at his plate in shock. How did it happen that he hadn’t received a letter? He knew that Hermione was his pen-pal, so he had guessed correctly. The question was, who had she guessed? Based on recent behavior, he had to assume she had somehow fallen for his teasing and had guessed Blaise. It just didn’t make any sense to him.
Blaise bumped Draco’s shoulder with his own, breaking Draco out of his thoughts. “Hey,” Blaise said, “I guess we both need to keep guessing, huh?” He smiled as he said it, knowing what Draco must be thinking.
Draco nodded absently, “I guess so. But hey, what’s been up with you and Hermione lately? You don’t honestly think she’s your pen-pal do you?”
Shaking his head Blaise answered with a sly grin. “’Course not. But come one, who am I to deny a lovely lady my company? I might as well play along. Who knows, maybe there’s something in it for me.” Still smiling, Blaise left the table to get a head start towards class, leaving a silently fuming friend behind.
Just outside the doors to the Great Hall Hermione and Blaise met up and couldn’t hold in their laughter.
“He looked a bit peeved with you.” Hermione mentioned off-handedly, smiling at Blaise. He grinned in response.
“That he was. I bet he’s trying to figure out how to fix the mess up that, he believes, is entirely his fault.” Blaise turned a bit serious. “However, I don’t want him thinking I’m a douche for too long. So I say we bring it up a notch today, have him catch us together a few more times, give him time to fume, and then spill the beans.”
Hermione nodded her agreement. “I think that sounds good. That means he’s had a few days of confusion to make up for his teasing. It’s only fair. Besides, I’m ready to be done with this pen-pal thing and just focus on being friends.”
Blaise responded with an exaggerated, sarcastic ‘awww’, for which Hermione lightly smacked him upside the head, and then they left to head to class.
Draco caught them talking and laughing a few more times that day as he observed them and attempted to plot a way to convince Hermione that he really was her pen-pal. Finally, after a day of complete confusion, it all came to a head when he walked back to their shared common room after dinner and, when passing a slightly out-of-the-way alcove, saw them kissing.
Now, Hermione and Blaise were certainly not kissing, but it looked that way. They had positioned themselves just right, so that they would look like they were closer than they were when they really had a full five inches between their faces. Hermione had her hands loosely gripping the sleeves of Blaise’s robes, with his hand resting gently on her waist.
Draco stormed off, decided to immediately put his plan into action.
Behind him, Hermione and Blaise broke apart with matching grins.
“I’ll wait for him to come back to the common room and I’ll explain it all to him. You can go back to Slytherin. Thanks for all your help, this has been hilarious.” Hermione gave Blaise a quick hug and headed into the Heads’ common room.
While waiting for Draco to return, a note flashed in from Damien.
I believe you are acting under a misconception. I would ask you to go to the Astronomy Tower, you might find some answers there.
Hermione wasn’t sure what exactly Draco was planning, but she decided to play along and see what happened. It was still a few hours before curfew, so she wasn’t too worried, so she started making her way up to the tower.
Once there, she looked around, not seeing Draco. Finally, her eyes lighted upon a sheet of paper, stuck to the tower wall. Picking it up she saw that it was a list of some sort, with a mix of words and check marks:
_____________________|___Blaise Zabini|___Draco Malfoy|
Extreme Sweet Tooth__________________________X
Loves Dark Blue______________________________X
Scared of Horses_____________________________X
(AN: I had formatting issues, use common sense to tell where the X's go. Blaise only has the Filch, Flying, and Rasperry ones. Sorry.)
Hermione smiled as she read over the list. That Draco would so blatently disregard the rules of the pen-pal project, just to make sure she didn’t get to close to Blaise, made her feel special. He really was a great friend. Still focused on the list, Hermione neglected to notice Draco coming in through the door, joining her atop the Astronomy Tower. When she finished reading she looked up and, caught by surprise, jumped a bit, making a quiet, startled squeak.
Draco laughed at her reaction. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just figured you would be up here by now.”
Hermione smiled at him, turning to face him fully. “Yeah, I was curious to see why you needed me to come up here. This is cute, by the way.” She motioned to the list in her hand.
Draco’s face betrayed his surprise. “You knew? That I was Damien?”
Hermione beamed at him. “Yeah, it slowly became pretty obvious. Want to go back to our common room to talk? It’s a bit breezy up here.”
“Fine, but you have some explaining to do.” Draco motioned for her to exit first and he followed her down the stairs.
Back in their common room, Hermione settled herself in her favorite spot on the couch, motioning for Draco to sit on the opposite end from her. Once he was seated she decided to jump right in with her explanation, grinning brightly through the whole speech.
“I figured out a little bit ago that you were the only one who could be my pen-pal. There were just too many coincidences and such. So I was a bit confused when you started pushing the idea of Blaise at me, during the dance. I almost fell for it, but he just didn’t really make sense. After your note, it confirmed that you both, were Damien, and knew that I was Grace. The only logical explanation was that you were teasing me, knowing that your later letter would clear up any confusion. However, you should know me better than that. I’ve spent too much time with Harry and Ron not to be a bit mischievous and competitive. So I decided it might be fun to tease you back. I enlisted Blaise to help, since you’d mentioned him first. It was pretty fun, I have to say. Watching your face as you tried to figure out how it had all gone so terribly wrong was pretty funny.” She gave him her best admit-it-I’m-awesome look, leaning back into the couch comfortably, waiting for him to respond.
“But what about the kissing?” Draco looked like he can hardly process what is going on and had just spouted the first thing that came to mind.
“There was no kissing.” Hermione explained with a sly grin. “We just stood really close to each other and made it look like kissing to an outside party. It worked pretty well, didn’t it?”
Draco blushed. Then he scowled. “I’m gonna kill Blaise” he ground out from between clenched teeth.
Hermione laughed. “I’d really rather you didn’t, after he was such a good sport about it and all.”
Draco just glared at her, only the slight glint in his eyes giving away his amusement. “I really wanted to pound him, thinking he was taking advantage of you. What would you have done if I’d acted on that? Were you going to let him get beat up just for a prank?”
“Come on Draco, I know you better than that. Between getting to know Draco and Damien at the same time, I knew you well enough to predict what your reaction was going to be. Blaise was worried about it before I convinced him you wouldn’t attack him.”
Finally, Draco let a small smile show. “All right, I’ll admit it, you had me going there. I’m impressed. Does this make us even now, or should I be watching my back more carefully for a while?”
Hermione smiled at him. “Nope, we’re even. Plus, now we don’t have to continue writing pen-pal letters. We can just focus on Draco and Hermione and not worry about saying something that might give it all away.”
“True. I hope you know what this means though.” Draco adopted a calculating smirk.
“What?” Hermione’s voice quivered just a bit as she looked at Draco, trying to figure out what he was up to.
“I have to teach you how to fly. You said in your letter that you don’t know how to fly. As both your friend, and a Quidditch player, I feel it is my duty to instruct you in the joys of flying.”
Hermione paled a bit. “That’s really not necessary.”
Draco just grinned back at her. “Don’t worry, there’s no way for you to talk me out of this, you don’t have to try. Thanks to those letters I now know a lot more about you and I plan to use it. I wouldn’t be a proper Slytherin if I didn’t. This weekend, you and me and the Quidditch pitch. I’ll have you flying circles in no time.” His grin turned softer as he looked at her nervous face. “Don’t worry; I would never let you fall.”
Sure enough, when Saturday rolled around Draco could be seen dragging Hermione out onto the pitch, broom in hand. He had convinced Hermione to ask Harry if she could borrow his broom, since it would be much better than just using a school broom. So she had Harry’s broom clutched in her hand, the hand that wasn’t being held captive by Draco as he physically pulled her toward the doors leading outside.
“Ok,” Draco began. “You obviously learned the absolute basics back in first year, so I won’t worry about those. We’ll start by having you fly a few, low, laps around this half of the pitch. I’ll fly along at your side. We won’t go above 4 feet for now, just until you get comfortable at that height. Sound like a plan?”
With Hermione’s nod of agreement they both mounted their brooms and kicked off, Hermione a bit more timidly than Draco.
“First of all, you need to be confident. Know that if you tell the broom to do something it will. Like when you kicked off, know in your heart that the broom will hold you. Trust that it will fly and not fall. The more you are sure of yourself, the easier it will be.”
They began a few slow, low laps. True to his word, Draco stayed right by her side, ready to swoop in and catch if anything happened. After a few laps Draco took them up a bit higher, and then a bit higher again. They continued this until they were flying at the usual height of Quidditch players during a game. Patiently, Draco showed her different ways to hold on to the broom to make certain moves easier or to gain better control.
“It depends what your goal is. There isn’t one way that anyone can say, ‘this is how you hold a broom’. If you are going for high speed, maneuverability, fine point turning, speed control, quick halts, to hold the quaffle or beater’s bat, etc. They all involve different ways of holding onto the broom.”
While that was a bit overwhelming for Hermione at first, Draco focused on showing her the holds most used for maneuverability and speed control, as those were most important for leisurely flying. Later in the afternoon, once Hermione was comfortable with general flying, Draco decided to change it up a bit.
“How about we bring out a quaffle and try to score for a while? I’ll show you how to fly while holding the ball, and how to hold on while you throw.”
“I guess,” Hermione said nervously. “I’m not sure how I’ll fair without both hands on the broom though.”
Draco just smiled and went to get a quaffle. He worked with her on that for a while. It was a lot more difficult than just flying and Hermione struggled some. They finally decided to call it quits for the day.
The next few weeks seemed to fly by for Hermione. She had reassured Blaise that their joke had gone well and the three of them became close friends. Draco and Hermione finally received their black letters and could tell their friends that they were pen-pals. Hermione’s friends had already accepted that she was friends with Draco, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Harry, Ron and Ginny were glad that at least someone knew who their pen-pal is, since they had all gotten their guesses wrong. They even asked her about what she and Draco had written about that made it clear who they were. Soon her friends were using the ‘this or that’ and other questions in their letters too.
Every weekend, and sometimes during the evening on weekdays, Draco worked with Hermione on her flying. He kept using the quaffle and even introduced a bludger at one point. That hadn’t gone over well and he hadn’t repeated the process. However, after a few weeks of practice, he did decide that they could try working with a snitch.
“But that’s hardly fair.” Hermione argued. “You’re a seeker, how am I going to have any chance?” She gave him a pair of big, puppy dog eyes.
Draco laughed. “That doesn’t matter, we won’t be competing. I’m going to let the snitch loose, and then I’ll just fly around, watching your flying. You have to try to find it on your own.”
Hermione huffed a bit, but agreed to give it a try. Draco brought a small box with them to the pitch and, once she was in the air, opened it and let the snitch loose. It took Hermione a good portion of their time on the pitch to find it, but Draco just let her look. He knew what it felt like to catch it yourself for the very first time and he didn’t want to spoil that experience for Hermione.
When she finally was able to find it, Hermione sped toward the small golden ball, snatching it right out of the air and clutching it in her hand. She spun around, looking for Draco, and gave him a huge grin. He cheered for her as she flew down to where he had landed when he saw her closing in on the snitch. She hopped of Harry’s broom as she reached him and threw herself at him to give him a tight hug.
“That was so exciting! I can’t believe I caught it!” She gushed, handing the snitch to Draco. He packed it back in its small box.
“I’ll make sure we work with the snitch some more, that was amazing Hermione.”
The headmistress had decided, with more and more students realizing who their pen-pals were, that she would instigate a new policy. She announced it one morning at breakfast.
“Students, in light of everyone getting closer to knowing who their pen-pals are, I have decided to offer a way, similar to at the dance, for you to know for sure. If you and another person believe that the two of you are pen-pals, you may send me a note, signed by both of you, asking if you are correct. You may only ask if you each think the other is their pen-pal and may only ask a maximum of once every two weeks. If you are correct, you will each receive a letter of confirmation, just like after the dance.”
Students were immediately excited, a few couples had figured it out in the weeks since the dance and without being able to officially confirm it, couldn’t openly talk about it. The day after this announcement several couples were confirmed. Most prominent were Lavender Brown with Terry Boot, and Neville Longbottom with Susan Bones. Neville seemed quite pleased to be able to confirm that Susan was the girl he had such a lovely on-paper friendship with, and they quickly became quite the pair.
The only other big occurrence during those weeks between the dance and Easter break was a rather unfortunate potions accident. Since becoming such good friends, and especially now that they knew they were pen-pals, Hermione and Draco had partnered a lot during potions. With both of them being such excellent students it was a good pairing. However, this meant that Neville, who Hermione often partnered with so that he could both survive the class and get a good grade, was back to melting cauldrons every day.
Hermione often felt guilty about this, so she would stop over at his table during class to give pointers and help. The professor, and everyone else, turned a blind eye to it all, since it often enough meant they could avoid injuries and noxious gases that Neville often caused.
On this particular day, however, Hermione didn’t check on him soon enough. Hermione stepped over to Neville’s table just as he added an ingredient. The potion immediately turned a terrible color of green and started bubbling.
“Neville, goodness, what happened?” She asked, as she quickly tried to discern what was wrong so she could correct the mistake.
Seeing her standing over the now smoky cauldron, Draco hurried over to try to help Hermione neutralize the problem. Sadly, that was just the moment when the cauldron exploded. Neville had stepped back to giver Hermione room to work without his ‘help’, so only Hermione and Draco were covered in the odorous goop.
The mess was quickly vanished and they were all ordered to resume their seats, as Hermione and Draco seemed perfectly unharmed. However, when Hermione tried to turn back to their desk she felt a tug. Turning, she was that she was attempting to drag Draco with her, and he was trying to regain his footing after the surprising pull. They were stuck together, much like being glued. Their connection point was, funny enough, their hips. They were, quite literally, connected at the hips.
They were immediately dismissed to go see Madame Pomphrey. Walking was a bit slow, as their forced side-by-side walking was reminiscent of a three-legged race. Suddenly, Hermione turned her head to look at Draco, a smile on her lips.
“You know, this is kind of like that question, back in one of our earlier letters. You said you’d rather be stuck to your enemy than never be able to touch the one you love. We aren’t enemies, but we are certainly stuck.” She laughed, gesturing to their joined hips.
Draco looks thoughtful for a second. “Yeah, it’s like someone got it all backwards though. The choice wasn’t supposed to be between never touching your enemy or being forever stuck to the person you…” Draco trailed off, blushing. He looked away.
Surprised, Hermione decided to let him off the hook, as he seemed suddenly so uncomfortable, and just think more about that comment later. She needed to focus on getting unstuck.
“I see what you mean. It’s not exactly the same situation. Right now though, I just really want to be unstuck. I thought that was an easy question, of course I’d rather be stuck to my enemy, but now I’m not so sure. You’re my friend and I’m already sick of being stuck to you. It makes walking really difficult!” She added a petulant whine to the end of her sentence.
Draco laughed. “Sick of me already? You better watch yourself, or I might just wander towards the kitchen instead of the Hospital Wing. I’m a growing guy you know, I’m always hungry. I’m also bigger than you, so you’d just have to come along.” His grinned showed that he was joking, but Hermione still leaned away from him a bit, giving her enough space to punch him lightly in the shoulder.
“Don’t even. We are going to see Madame Pomphrey right now, I will not miss any more classes just because you are being a complete and total…” she trailed off for a second, face scrunched up thinking, she finally settled for, “total…boy!” Draco just laughed.
“Hermione, I’m not sure you noticed, but I am a boy.”
They spent the rest of their walk amicably talking and soon Madame Pomphrey had them all sorted out and back in class.
AN: Alright, I’m an ass. I admit it. A year wait! What a douche. I have no excuse to offer that could make up for my complete douche-ness. I started the business school, had a full time job for the first time this past summer, and then did a study abroad in Europe. It’s been busy, but I could have found the time. I promise, as I have before, I won’t stop writing this until it’s finished, I won’t abandon it. However, I will admit, I’m not much of a dramione person anymore. I’ve become much more of a slash reader. So, I’ve mostly moved to other websites, as hpff doesn’t really have slash. Regardless, that is no excuse for this taking so long, especially since I had the outline sketched out a year ago. I just couldn’t find the words.
For what it’s worth, if it’s worth anything, I’m sorry for the ridiculous wait and I understand if some people have given up on this story, though I hope you haven’t.
If you are feeling particularly benevolent, I would really love it if you reviewed. I can always use the inspiration. Speaking of:
Credits for this chapter go to B. Martin. You asked me ages ago in a review, if I could tell you Damien’s answer to the question “Would you rather be physically stuck to your enemy for the rest of your life, or never be able to touch the person you love?”. Despite what I’m sure you thought, I never forgot about you. I just had this scene in my head for it, and needed to wait until the story got there to use it. So thanks for inspiring the potions accident. Hope you’re happy with it.
I love you all, you are the best readers and writer could ask for. Hope you enjoyed the chapter.
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