Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and Warner Bros. All fics posted at this community were written entirely for fun, not for profit, and no copyright infringement is intended.Title:
What The Heart WantsAuthor: rivertempestRating:
Hermione Granger has always known, since the very first day at Hogwarts, that Draco Malfoy was betrothed to Pansy Parkinson. So why is Hermione trying to save Draco from his fate?Warnings:
A bit of language, hints of dub-con (nothing actually takes place)Author's Note(s):
The prompt was to write a story that was AU/no war or Voldemort/7th year. Dear mystery recipient, that was harder than I imagined, as I'd never actually written anything in that vein before. It was in turns frustrating and fun, so thank you for the challenge! The idea/concept/theory of why Voldemort is no longer in the wizarding world is credited to SilverLullabies on Tumblr. Huge thanks to my beta, delphipsmith
, who is wonderful in her wisdom, generous with her time, and thought this story read like Pride & Prejudice. You are awesome, my dear!
Hermione glanced at the book the young Hufflepuff had just laid in front of her. Practical Dragon Keeping; Or How to Survive the First Six Months Caring for a Dragon Without Being Eaten
by none other than Charlie Weasley. She smiled to herself, knowing that if anyone would be a master of dragon whispering, it would be the Weasleys’ second son.
She waved her wand over the spine of the book and recorded the name of the student checking it out from the Hogwarts library on a piece of parchment that kept track of such things. “Thirty days, Silas.”
The first-year student gave her a hesitant smile. “Do you know Mr. Weasley? Only, you’re friends with his brother, and I wondered if—”
“I’ve only met him once, and he was a bit preoccupied with being the best man at his brother’s wedding,” she said, seeing the obvious stars in boy’s eyes. “But he had a lot of scars, so working with dragons won’t be easy. Just keep that in mind.”
Silas nodded, his excitement not in the least diminished. “Thank you, Miss Granger.”
She cringed. “It’s Hermione, honestly.” But she was speaking to no one, as the boy had left quickly.
“That’s the fifth time he’s checked out that book,” Luna said from behind her.
Hermione glanced over her shoulder and smiled. “I think someone is smitten.”
Before Luna could respond, a loud thud sounded and both girls turned to stare at the singed witch standing at the desk, aiming a murderous look in their direction.
“Pansy,” Hermione said cordially. She took in the soot covering Pansy’s face, the still flaming wisps of her hair, and the blackened fingertips. “That Fulminis
spell giving you trouble again?”
An ugly sneer curled Pansy’s lips. “Shut up, Granger.” She narrowed her focus to Luna. “Why are you in here? Wouldn’t you be more at home up in Trelawney’s tower?”
“It’s kind of you to think of my comfort, Pansy, but you should really keep your mind on Draco. I’m not interested in another man’s witch.”
Hermione snorted, earning Pansy’s ire. “Have something to say, Granger?” the Slytherin snapped, “I didn’t think so. You can snicker all you want, Mudblood, but you’ll never be anyone’s choice, not in the wizarding world. Potter is only interested in your brain, and Weasley is pathetic enough to hang on anyone’s coattails. So once you leave Hogwarts, where will you go, hmm? I don’t know why they invite Mudbloods to Hogwarts in the first place. It’s sad, really, giving them the hope that they’ll be accepted in our society. It’s just setting them up for failure and disappointment,” Pansy added with mock sincerity.
Hermione breathed out slowly, trying to dispel the hurt and vulnerability that every word caused. “I’d rather be a lowly teller in a Muggle bank than stuck being nothing but vacuous arm candy to Draco Malfoy, but that’s just me.”
“And here I thought you were smart, Granger,” Pansy retorted with a nasty leer. “See, Draco may not be my true love, but once we’re married and I have access to all the Malfoy money, I can make
my own happiness. Give him a child or two and he’ll let me do as I please.”
“Does Draco know you’re only marrying him for his money?” Luna asked innocently. “I don’t know if I could sell myself that cheap.”
Pansy nearly lunged over the counter but was stopped by the tip of Hermione’s wand pointed at her chest. “Attacking another student, Parkinson. Tsk tsk. That would be detention with Professor McGonagall for at least three weeks.”
Pansy grimaced and backed off. “Get stuffed, both of you!” She turned and left in a flurry of robes.
“Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, but it appears Pansy only gargled,” Luna mused.
“And then spit,” Hermione added conspiratorially.
The girls’ laughter could be heard throughout the library.
On her way to Advanced Potions, Hermione couldn’t help but recall Pansy’s words and she knew, no matter how much she’d hated them, there was a bit of truth to them. Unbeknownst to Parkinson, Hermione did
have plans to attend university after Hogwarts, and her focus would be Magical Law, thank you very much. She had never questioned her own intelligence, and it would take a far more powerful witch or wizard to make her doubt herself and her abilities. No, the part that had made her just little bit insecure was the fact that, no matter who she fancied, she never seemed to either attract anyone’s notice or gain the courage to ask anyone for more than friendship. She supposed it had started from the beginning.
Meeting Harry Potter on the train to Hogwarts had been anticlimactic for Hermione Granger.
She’d read all about ‘The Boy Who Lived’ when she’d found out she’d been invited to attend the wizarding school. How, as Voldemort performed the ‘Killing Curse’ on Harry, it rebounded and the backlash destroyed the Dark Lord forever. She figured there was more to the story than what the books revealed, but that information would need to come from the source, and was expecting a solemn boy who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. So when she finally came face-to-face with him while searching for Neville’s toad, she was… taken aback.
The boy with the lightning bolt scar, black messy hair and green eyes was smiling and laughing with an ease Hermione hadn’t expected. He was a bit on the thin side, but otherwise looked quite decent. When she’d asked after Trevor, Harry had just shook his head and offered to help her in her search. Ron Weasley had clearly had a different opinion, giving her a ‘you’re obviously mental’ look. They never did find the toad, but after being sorted into Gryffindor, they’d all became fast friends.
At one point, she’d fancied herself in love with Ron, but one disastrous date in Hogsmeade firmly nixed that budding attraction. Fancying Harry seemed incestuous, as he was far more brotherly, so that had only been an idle musing at best. During the Tri-Wizard Tournament, she was surprised to be asked by the star of the Durmstrang Quidditch team to the ball, which had been lovely… until later when she’d caught Viktor in a heated snog with a girl from Beauxbatons underneath one of the staircases. She even swore there were little birds and hearts floating above their heads. Needless to say, nothing ever came of that little diversion.
So she’d focused on her studies until she realised it was her seventh year, and soon she would be leaving. Oh, she’d noticed the few wizards that gained her attention, but no one ever remained on her mind for long, other than the infamous Draco Malfoy, and he only stayed there due to irritation and annoyance.
As she entered the Potions classroom, she mused that while she was at the head of her class, she’d been terrified as a first year; now, in her last year, she felt quite competent, but not much else had happened in the interim.
“Don’t you ever brush that bramble bush atop your head, Granger?”
Hermione ignored the wizard and witch to her left and continued writing in her Potions notebook.
“Of course she doesn’t, Draco,” Pansy sniggered, leaning against Draco. “She doesn’t have the Galleons to buy Sleekeazy nor a decent brush.”
Hermione noticed from the corner of her eye that Malfoy had shoved his fellow Slytherin off him, earning himself a death glare. For some reason, Hermione received the odd impression that it was all right for Malfoy to insult her, but no one else.
“No, you’re thinking of Weasley. From what I hear, Granger’s quite flush.”
“How would you know?” Pansy asked in a low and harsh tone.
Hermione was curious as well. It was common knowledge that both her parents were Muggle dentists and, as such, financially sound. What wasn’t known, however, was that they’d started a mixed trust once they found out they were going to have a child. In fact, the only way a person in the wizarding world would’ve known about her financial standing was if they were part of a financial institution, such as Gringotts. It occurred to her that Lucius Malfoy had probably provided the information to his spawn, since he was on the governing board of the bank. She laughed to herself at the thought, wondering what Malfoy’s reaction would be if he knew that what was in her account at Gringotts was merely a fraction of what she actually had access to at the moment.
“Mr Malfoy,” Professor Snape barked, gaining their attention. “Perhaps if you focused more on your studies than harassing Miss Granger, you might actually pass your N.E.W.T.’s instead of failing miserably in your chosen profession.”
The smirk that Malfoy had been wearing disappeared immediately while Pansy’s moue of distaste just grew deeper. Hermione covered her mouth to stifle the laughter that wanted to escape, even though Snape raised a disdainful brow in her direction.
“Your father could just buy your apprenticeship,” Pansy whispered to Malfoy. “Don’t see why you need to take—”
“Miss Parkinson, you may leave,” Snape intoned sharply. “There is no earthly reason for you to remain in this class when your main objective is to become Mr Malfoy’s wife once you leave Hogwarts.”
Pansy rose abruptly, her stool scraping on the stone floor. She flounced out, pausing only to eye Hermione meaningfully and drawl, “At least I’ll have
a life after Hogwarts.”
Snape rolled his eyes. Malfoy grimaced. Hermione returned to the notes she was taking on the Wiggenweld Potion, giving the scene little more thought; this sort of thing was an almost daily occurrence in the seven years she’d been at Hogwarts.
Something changed, however, when, at the end of class, a folded slip of parchment was placed next to her satchel by none other than Malfoy himself. She gave it a dubious look.
“For your hair,” Malfoy said, roughly. He then quickly gathered his belongings and rushed out the door.
Somewhat in shock, she stood in the now nearly abandoned room, staring at the note.
“Miss Granger, give me that,” Snape demanded, his voice brooking no argument.
Startled, Hermione blinked several times before snagging the parchment and handing it to the professor. She watched him unfold the note and read it, his eyes widening once he reached the bottom.
“Do you know what this is, Granger?”
She cleared her throat, worried that it was something derogatory instead of what Draco had implied it to be. “Malfoy said it was for my hair.”
Snape nodded. “It is an ancient recipe, handed down from generation to generation.”
She frowned, noticing his uneasiness. “Is it safe?”
He snorted and laid the parchment out for her to see. “If you’re from the Black family, it’s quite innocuous.”
“What?” she whispered. She glanced over the ingredients, dread rising with every dangerous item listed.
Snape leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers, studying her. “The Black family has notoriously curly, wiry hair, thus requiring a preparation that will tame the locks into some resemblance of order. Draco’s mother is a Black, as are her sisters and her cousin, Sirius Black.”
Hermione swallowed heavily. No wonder the ingredients were potentially lethal. “I think you should keep it, Professor Snape.”
Snape shook his head, folded the parchment and handed it to her. “I have no use for such a potion, Miss Granger.” He peered at her intently. “I believe it was given in good faith, with no ill will.” He stood and straightened his robes. “It would be a pity to waste such a gift.”
Hermione watched as he disappeared into his chambers via a door off to the left, contemplating the unsettling feeling that was filling her chest.
“There’s a look I haven’t seen on your face in quite a few years.”
Hermione glanced up at Harry’s words. “What look is that?”
He smiled and sat next to her on the window seat in one of the older turrets. “The one that clearly says you can’t figure something out, no matter how much you study.” He tugged on a fly-away curl. “What’s got you so frustrated?”
She bit her bottom lip and handed Harry the parchment Malfoy had given her. “Do you think your godfather could confirm that this is from the Blacks?”
Harry frowned as he read over the note. “Where’d you get this?”
Harry’s brows rose. “Draco Malfoy gave you something that didn’t have a hex or curse attached to it?”
While Malfoy didn’t exactly antagonise Harry, the rest of the student population was fair game for his sarcasm and derision. But now that Hermione thought about it, their seventh year had been relatively quiet thus far, which was odd considering the previous six years when she’d been mercilessly teased by Malfoy and his cronies.
She shrugged. “Professor Snape inspected it and declared it safe. Said it was a Black family heirloom or some such.”
Harry read it over again. “Well, he would know.”
“What do you mean?”
Harry hesitated, then folded the note and handed it back to her. “I’ve never told anyone what really happened the night Voldemort was killed.” He absently rubbed at his scar. “You know how magical oaths are binding, and breaking one could lead to being stripped of your magic and maybe even death?”
She nodded, knowing she was about to find out what the books hadn’t said about ‘The Boy Who Lived’.
“My mom wasn’t the only mother in history to have sacrificed herself for her child.” His eyes became sad. “See, Snape and my mom were friends at Hogwarts—studied together, lived near each other, hung out together. Well, they did until Snape started hanging out with the Death Eaters. Then things kind of went sour, especially when my dad and his friends began harassing Snape, which led to some unpleasant words said to my mom in the heat of the moment.” Red tinted Harry’s cheek. “Snape was a right bastard, but so was my dad, at the time. And Sirius almost killed Snape in a prank gone wrong; they just made each other worse. Anyway, my mom and Snape didn’t part on good terms and it got worse when my mom married my dad. Then, there was all that stuff about the prophecy, and when Snape found out my mom was pregnant with me, he figured it was about me. It could’ve been about Neville—we both were born about the same time and all. But Snape… god, he…” Harry cleared his throat. “Well, he went to Voldemort and begged him to spare my mom’s life, which Voldemort agreed to do. He killed my dad without a second thought, but he told my mom to ‘stand aside’, as he promised Snape. She refused.” Harry’s eyes welled with tears. “I think, without knowing it, Voldemort created a magical oath when he promised Snape to spare my mom. So, when he… killed her, he broke that oath. The next time he cast a spell, it rebounded onto him—instead of the Killing Curse killing me, it killed him instead.”
Hermione grabbed his hand and held it tight. “God, Harry…”
He returned her grip and smiled tremulously. “Don’t tell anyone. Snape would have my arse in detention for the rest of the year if anyone else found out.”
She shook her head, pulled Harry close and hugged him for a long time. He then grew restless, squirmed out of her embrace and stood.
“I’ll ask Sirius about the potion and let you know.”
“Thanks,” she said with a small smile.
Harry hesitated before leaving. “I’m not one for defending Draco Malfoy, and I don’t know what his agenda is, but… I don’t think this potion is meant to harm you.”
She arched a brow.
“Well, I mean, don’t use it until I ask Sirius about it.”
“I still haven’t managed to handle fervo
weed without scalding my fingers, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue,” she said wryly, referring to one of the ingredients.
“When has that ever stopped the ingenious Hermione Granger?”
Said witch couldn’t help her smirk as she watched Harry leave.
“Before you are very rare specimens of Brugmansia
that we will be using to make Angel’s Trumpet Draught,” Professor Snape instructed. “You will be extracting the seeds and harvesting the scopolamine within. You will then create the draught, which will be used by Madame Pomfrey as an anaesthetic. Should you kill the plant, you will fail this assignment, regardless of how adequate a potion you produce. No questions asked.”
Hermione felt the tense atmosphere ratchet up a notch.
“You will be working in pairs, as it will take more than one person’s attention and care to make sure this does not happen. Your partner will remain so throughout the rest of term.”
A series of groans floated throughout the classroom.
“Anyone who feels that this requirement does not apply to them is free to try
the potion alone, but let it be known that if you fail, you fail the entire class. Understood?” Snape searched the classroom for any dissenters, finding none. “Now, your names have all been placed in this jar. When I call your name, come forward and choose a token. You will then be paired with that individual and may begin your work. Michel Spruce, come forward.”
This continued until Hermione was called. And it was just her luck that she pulled out, “Draco Malfoy.”
A few sniggers escaped, but a glare from Snape quickly silenced the room.
Hermione placed the token on Snape’s desk, retrieved her notes and satchel, and sat next to Draco, waiting for the rest of the students to be paired off. She resolved to ignore Draco unless she was forced to interact with him. Or, at least, that’s what she told herself.
“You’re supposed to use fervo
weed, Granger, not some cheap imitation,” Draco whispered, glancing over her hair.
She patted down her hair self-consciously, as it was particularly unruly that day due to the rain. “If you’re referring to that recipe you gave me, I’m not using it.”
She gave him a baleful look. “There are multiple reasons, not the least of which is that it could possibly make me bald.”
“Does my aunt Bella look bald to you?” Draco hissed, a sneer curling on his lip.
“Your aunt Bella is deranged. I doubt she even realises she has hair.”
“Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger,” Snape growled. “I’m sure your discussion must be riveting, but you are wasting both my time and that of your fellow students, as I try to explain the proper handling of the plant in front of you. Unless you’d like to teach the class, shut your mouths and pay attention. Five points from Gryffindor,” he added with a sniff.
“But what about Slyth—”
“That’s not fair!”
“Would you like to make it an even twenty, Miss Granger?”
Before Hermione could argue further, Draco grasped her wrist. “No sir, we’re done. Please continue.”
Hermione didn’t know whether to slap him or thank him. Which was an odd situation to find herself in. “Let go of me,” she said under her breath, gritting her teeth.
He released her wrist. “Gladly.”
“Since Miss Granger and Mr Malfoy believed their topic superior to mine, you will hear the instructions again.”
Hermione’s face burned with embarrassment.
“While this plant is called Angel’s Trumpet, it is more commonly known as The Devil’s Breath due to the potency of the seeds and pollen. Protect your airways and skin with Masking Charms. Do not allow the seeds or pollen to enter your system or you will become affected for a duration of twenty-four hours. To others you will seem normal, but you will be subject to the whims and suggestions of your fellow students. You will be completely conscious and articulate, but having no free-will of your own. The professors have all been alerted to the dangers of this particular assignment and so will monitor you for the next day in case of accidental ingestion or absorption.” Snape glanced around his classroom. “Begin.”
Almost in sync, Hermione and Draco each tapped their face and hands with their wands, enacting barriers to shield them from the plant. They worked in silence, extracting the seed pods and preparing them for harvest. They moved in tandem without having to vocalise their intentions, as if they’d been partners for years and instinctively knew each other’s actions.
It should have been disconcerting to Hermione, to work so fluidly with someone other than Harry or Ron. It was anything but, and that thought alone was worrisome.
“Miss Granger? A moment, please.”
Hermione, her mind still on the issue of Malfoy, automatically diverted her course from the busy corridor to the archway where Professor McGonagall was standing. “Yes, Professor?”
McGonagall narrowed her gaze. “Lick your hand and meow like a cat.”
“Just checking to see if you were vulnerable to suggestion,” the professor said with what sounded like a sigh of relief. “Other professors will be asking you various… requests over the next day, to determine if anyone was affected.”
“Ah. I wonder what they’ll ask Malfoy to do.”
McGonagall raised a brow. “Malfoy?”
“He was my partner, and will be for the duration of Advanced Potions.”
“Severus Snape, that…” McGonagall quickly clamped her mouth shut then cleared her throat. “What an interesting pairing, I must say. It would explain the loss of ten points.”
Hermione grimaced. “Yes, sorry about that. We were arguing over fervo
weed and its possible uses in potions.”
“Hmm.” McGonagall leaned in and whispered, “Fifteen points to Gryffindor for having to deal with Malfoy.” She straightened her hat and then headed in the direction of the Headmaster’s office.
As Hermione heard the jewels accumulate in the Gryffindor hourglass, she pondered if it really was such a chore to have to work with Draco.
“You look like me when I’m thinking about testing my new shark repellent off the shore of Gansbaai, South Africa, or seeing if I can build a non-melting igloo in the Mojave Desert.”
Hermione blinked several times. “What?”
Luna smiled. “All I said was that you look… preoccupied.”
Hermione frowned and shook her head. “I’m thinking.”
“Must be something important. You’re getting that wrinkly spot between your brows again.”
“Not really,” Hermione said, too quickly. She smoothed the knot of tension from her forehead. “Just Draco Malfoy.”
Luna looked at her expectantly. “What about him? I mean, you can’t just say, ‘I’m thinking about Draco Malfoy’ without telling me why.”
thinking about Draco Malfoy!”
Luna gave her a sceptical look. “Why not? I mean, he is
handsome, loaded and single. What’s not to think about?”
“He’s not single. He hasn’t been since he was born.”
“It doesn’t mean a thing unless she has that ring.” Luna handed Hermione a stack of books. “Here, go shelve these in the Restricted Section. I don’t have clearance and one of them tried to eat my nose. I only escaped because I threw my radish necklace into its mouth.”
“Oh, no! You loved that necklace.”
Luna shrugged. “It’s okay. I’m using beets now.” She withdrew the cord from around her neck and proudly showed Hermione the half-section of beet that was carved into a heart shape. “They’re easier to work with.”
It was also staining Luna’s fingers a light purplish colour. “It’s lovely, Luna. I’ll be back.”
Hermione hefted the books into her arms, grabbed the key to the cage and set off for the Restricted Section. Just as she was about to turn the last corner, she heard raised voices one row over.
“Why do you need this potion, Pansy?”
“Just find it, Daphne. It’s not in the regular curriculum and Professor Snape took my copy of Advanced Potions when I left the class.”
“It would help if you told me the actual name.”
“I don’t know, erm, Angel’s Horn, or Angel’s Harp. Something along those lines. Draco wouldn’t tell me, just that it made people like zombies if they took it, and I only caught a glimpse of his notes before he stuffed them into his bag.”
Hermione stifled the gasp she was about to release. Why on earth would Pansy be trying to find the recipe for Angel’s Trumpet Draught?
“So go through his bag.”
Pansy scoffed. “He protects that thing like his father protects their investments—meaning he’d know if I even opened the thing.”
“You’d be too, if you grew up in that family. Bloody insane, the lot of them.”
“Then why the hell are you marrying into the family? I mean, your father could break the contract and broker another with the Zabini family.”
“Blaise has had four step-fathers since our first year. I’d rather not end up being replaced by another witch within a few months, thank you. Besides, Malfoy is beyond financially stable. Zabini’s wealth is dependent on his mother’s approval, and she never liked me.”
“With good reason,” Hermione heard Daphne mutter.
“I said, that’s a horrible reason.”
“I know it is.” The sound of a few pages flipping and then … “Oh, look! I don’t need a potion after all, just some seeds or pollen from this plant. Maybe I can slip into the Potions classroom and find some of them to brew a tea…”
“Tell me again why you need—”
“Because!” Pansy yelled, startling Hermione. “Because,” Pansy said more quietly. “Draco is… is… He’s not the same. Not since his mother got sick over the summer. He doesn’t want to spend time with me or talk to me. He just mopes around, feeling sorry for himself and saying how his mum might die and that she’s one of the only good things in his life. I’m
a good thing in his life, Daphne. But does he say that? No. This will return his focus to the most important thing: me.”
“I said, it’s doubtful that you’d have time enough to brew the full potion.”
“You’re right. I’m just going to have to sneak in and snag a seed pod.”
Footsteps sounded, moving away from Hermione, but she was too shocked to move. Pansy was planning on using the Angel’s Trumpet seeds on Malfoy? Merlin help her, Hermione didn’t think even Draco deserved that.
Hermione didn’t have time to warn Professor Snape of what she’d overheard before her Arithmancy class, but immediately afterwards she rushed through the corridors towards the dungeon level. She was so intent on her mission that she accidentally ran into Malfoy himself at the top of the staircase.
“Don’t know how you see where you’re going with that bush in the way,” he groused, picking up his book.
“Oh, thank Merlin!” Hermione grabbed his elbow and dragged him to an alcove under one of the moving stairs. “I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but hear me out. Have you drunk or eaten anything Pansy has given you recently?”
Draco frowned. “You’re mental, Granger.” He moved to leave, but she pulled him back.
“I’m serious, Draco. It’s important.”
He considered her for a moment. “Yeah, we had lunch not too long ago. Why?”
Hermione closed her eyes and groaned. “Blast it.” She sighed heavily, debating her next course of action. But honestly, it was the only thing she could think of in such a short amount of time. “Okay, don’t hex me, but…”
He looked at her expectantly when she didn’t say anything. “But what?”
She blew out a breath and thought of the most un-Draco thing he would ever do. “Kiss me.”
Both of his brows rose. “What?”
If he asked her if she was mental again, Hermione would know that Draco hadn’t ingested any of the seeds, and everything would be fine.
Instead, Draco slid his hand behind her neck and drew her into a heated kiss. He pulled slightly on her bottom lip, his tongue dipping inside briefly to touch hers. Someone groaned; Hermione thought it might have been herself.
When he withdrew, Draco laid his forehead against hers, breathing erratically. “Any other requests?”
Hermione slowly opened her eyes, knowing Pansy had got to him. “Damn.”
He frowned. “Well, I thought it was good.”
She shook her head and backed away. “No. No, this isn’t right.”
“What do you mean?”
“Pansy, she…” Hermione took in a shuddered breath, wondering if she really should be interfering in Pureblood politics.
Draco’s expression darkened. “Pansy what? Did she hurt you?”
“What? No, not me. Just… don’t eat or drink anything Pansy gives you, okay? Promise me.”
“Well that wasn’t cryptic at all,” Draco snorted. He narrowed his gaze. “Why?”
She threw up her hands, frustrated beyond belief at her conflicting emotions. “Never mind. Drink a mug of Butterbeer if you want. She’s your girlfriend… fiancée… thing.”
“Granger, did you inhale some of that pollen—”
“No! I had the same protection as you.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Look, I’ll see you tomorrow in Potions.”
Without another word, she left Draco underneath the staircase, her confusion mirroring his own.
“Professor Snape? May I speak with you?”
Snape looked up from his parchment. “Be quick.”
Hermione fidgeted a bit, then straightened up. “I have a concern.”
Snape stopped the quill that had been taking notes. “About?”
“Normally I’m not one to listen to idle gossip, but—”
“I’m losing my patience, Miss Granger.”
“Right, erm, well I overheard Pansy Parkinson in the library, discussing the Angel’s Trumpet Draught.”
Snape arched a brow. “She is Slytherin, Miss Granger, and Draco Malfoy’s fiancée; therefore it is in the realm of probability that he spoke to her of his assignment. Now, you’ve wasted three minutes of my time. Five points from Gryffindor.”
“But that’s not—”
“Five more points.”
“If you would just listen—”
“I can keep going, Miss Granger. Can your house afford it, however?”
Seething with frustration, she shook her head and departed. It would serve Draco right to be under the thumb of Pansy Parkinson.
So why did she feel so wretched at the mere thought?
“Hey, you okay, Hermione?”
Hermione buried her head under the blanket she’d draped over herself while sitting on the common room sofa. “Go away, Ron.”
“What’s the matter?”
She loved Ron, she did. Like a brother. But sometimes… She growled, hoping he would get the hint.
He didn’t. “I bet I can cheer you up.”
She peeked over the quilt. “Oh?”
He grinned. “You’ll never believe what I heard from Katie Bell. I heard that Draco Malfoy got caught kissing some other witch besides Pansy!” Ron laughed. “Can you imagine what Pansy’s going to do to his balls?”
“Do they know who the other witch was?” Hermione asked, her heart thumping a mile a minute.
“Nah, they were in the shadows, but Katie knows it was Draco because of his hair. And Pansy was in remedial Divination, so it definitely wasn’t her.”
“Hex me now,” Hermione muttered.
“Hey, I know. Fred and George just bought Zonko’s old joke shop and they’re renovating it. Want to sneak down and see if we can surprise them?”
Though it did sound tempting, especially since it would get her out of the castle, Hermione had to decline. “Sorry, Ron. Take Harry, I know he’s missing Sirius and Remus right now. Just make sure you take the entrance to Honeydukes this time.”
Ron grimaced. “Yeah, don’t think we’ll ever take the one that leads to the Shrieking Shack again. I swear my pinky finger is still numb from the Whomping Willow.”
She grinned, remembering patching up the boys after their late night excursion. “You got off lucky, I think.”
“Too true.” He awkwardly patted her knee. “You sure you’re all right?”
She sighed heavily. “Yes, just a lot on my mind lately.”
“Thinking about when we leave Hogwarts?”
“Something like that,” she mused. “Do you know what you’re going to do?”
He shrugged and picked at a loose thread on her quilt. “Thought about Quidditch. Harry wants to be an Auror, always has. It’ll just seem weird not to see you and Harry every day.”
She grabbed his hand and squeezed, emotion clogging her throat. “Us three? We’re not going to change. Not really. We’ll always be there for each other. I promise.”
“I hope so.” He stood up and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “See you later.”
Hermione watched him leave with a sense of heartache she wasn’t used to.
“Miss Granger? A word.”
Hermione sighed as Professor Sprout pulled her aside in the corridor. “Yes, professor?”
“Pinch me until I scream like a Mandrake.”
That was a new one. Hermione briefly thought about indulging her in her request, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be worth the hassle. “No offense intended, professor, but not even if you begged me.”
Professor Sprout tittered and smiled. “All right, go on with you then.”
Hermione continued on towards the Potions classroom, knowing that this particular assignment couldn’t be over soon enough. Today, they were brewing the antidote to the Angel’s Trumpet Draught, and while the danger of contamination was minimal this time, there was still some slight chance that the brewer would become susceptible to the plant’s effects. Just as she was about to descend the staircase into the dungeons, a movement to her left brought her to an abrupt halt.
Pansy Parkinson and Draco Malfoy… in a very blatant lip lock, though it looked more like Pansy was devouring Draco’s face and he was enduring it.
Hermione swallowed, forcing the whimper back down before it escaped her mouth. She quickly averted her gaze and hurried down the steps. By this point, Pansy could’ve dosed Draco enough to keep him enslaved to her forever. Would serve him right. Stupid Malfoy, with his stupid hair and stupidly soft lips. She sniffed and squeezed her eyes shut. It was none of her business.
So why did she feel as if it was?
“You still haven’t used the potion on your hair,” Draco murmured during a lull in their brewing.
“Take the Calabar bean and crush it in a mortar,” Hermione instructed, ignoring his question.
“If you’re having problems obtaining the ingredients, I can make it for you. Just thought you’d want to do it yourself.”
She cleared her throat and shifted in her seat. “Soak the remains in water until it takes on a milky appearance.”
“It won’t hurt you, if you’re worried about it.”
Hermione clenched her fists. “Please stop. Just… just crush the bean, Draco.”
His lips thinned in annoyance. “Never thought I’d see a Mudblood think a Pureblood potion wasn’t good enough for them.”
At the epithet, the sharp knife she was using to split the other beans slipped and nicked her finger. “Blast it!”
The effects of the bean’s juice entering her bloodstream were immediate. A flood of tears spilled over and ran down Hermione’s cheeks; she found herself unable to stop them. Then she felt drool slide past her lips and drip off her chin. She began to panic, knowing the other effects were even more unpleasant, and perspiration beaded on her forehead.
“Shit!” Draco began to panic now. “Professor Snape! Granger needs to get to the infirmary, now!”
Once Snape had cast a few stasis charms, Draco picked up Hermione and headed out the door with the professor in tow. Before she lost consciousness, she felt pressure on her temple and heard the words, “I’m sorry!” whispered repeatedly.
Hermione awoke to the sounds of shouting just outside the infirmary door.
“What did you do to her, Malfoy?” Harry yelled.
“Nothing! Her knife slipped and she cut herself.”
“Yeah? And why did her knife slip, hmm?” Ron said. “Hermione never makes mistakes like that. It’s a little too convenient that you just happened to be her partner.”
“They’ve been arguing ever since you got here,” Madame Pomfrey said as she placed a basin next to Hermione’s bed. “I’ve told them to take it outside the infirmary, but apparently the corridor is outside enough.”
Hermione was dry as a desert and could only croak when she tried to speak, so she made drinking motions to show that she was thirsty.
“Yes, just a moment and I’ll—”
“You stay away from her, Malfoy!” Harry practically screamed. “We all know you have it in for her!”
There was a flash, a thud and then silence.
“I’d better see what they’ve done to themselves,” Madame Pomfrey said worriedly. She went towards the door, forgetting about Hermione’s request for water.
Hermione felt around for her wand, finding it under her pillow. She withdrew it and silently conjured a glass of water, which she drank as quickly as it had appeared. After two more glasses, she tucked her wand away and dozed off.
The next time she awoke, Hermione guessed it was the middle of the night, as the infirmary was darkened and only an attendant was on duty at the end of the chamber. She sat up a little, taking stock of how she felt.
Her skin was dry, her lips cracked, her joints aching and her hair—already frizzy to begin with—looking as if she’d been zapped by the lightning that she saw streaking across the windows. She knew that dehydration was the one of the side-effects of Calabar bean poisoning, but she’d lost her concentration and focus when Draco had called her a…
“Here, thought you could use this.”
Startled, Hermione stared at the bedraggled Draco Malfoy standing beside her bed, soaked from head to toe, holding a plastic bottle of…
He averted his eyes and looked unsure. “My… my mum likes it, when she’s feeling poorly.”
If Hermione were capable of producing tears, she was sure some might have stung her eyes in that moment. “Thank you,” she rasped. “I love orange Lucozade.”
He nodded hesitantly, twisted the cap off and handed the bottle to her. “I would usually go to Tesco’s and buy a few bottles, but Professor Snape said there was a Morrison’s a few kilometres from here.”
She nearly choked on the first sip. “Professor Snape took you to Morrison’s?”
Draco snagged and chair and sat next to her bed. “Of course not. His joints bother him on nights like tonight, no matter how much Nullum Affeci
liniment he uses.” He cast a quick Exaresco
Charm and dried himself off. “So I got directions and made sure I wasn’t seen.”
“I can’t believe Professor Snape would condone you leaving school grounds.”
“He didn’t say one way or the other,” Draco said, crossing his legs. “He only knew I needed some Lucozade and I’d better not get caught, or he’d be severely disappointed in me.” He pointed at the bottle. “Drink up.”
Hermione studied him for a moment before taking a considerable drink, relishing the taste of a long-forgotten treat from her childhood. When it was three-quarters gone, she replaced the cap and set it on her bedside table. “Thank you,” she said quietly.
Draco seemed shrink in on himself. “I’m… sorry.”
She was about to ask ‘for what’, but then she remembered why her knife slipped. “Why does it bother you that I’m a Muggle-born?”
He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, staring at the floor. “In a general sense, I don’t care what you are.” He shrugged and picked at his fingernails. “Specifically, it pisses me off that you’re not a Pureblood, when you have all the magical traits of one. That if you’d been born a Pureblood I wouldn’t be stuck in the situation I’m in now.”
Hermione was beyond confused. What situation, and why was she responsible for it because of her parentage? “How am I—”
“Because if you were a Pureblood, I would’ve been betrothed to you in a Snitch’s second, and not facing a life of misery tied to someone who’ll have as many lovers as she has Galleons.” He pursed his lips and stood. “Get better, Granger. I shudder to think of anyone else as my Potions partner.”
Draco left as silently as he appeared, leaving Hermione with a thrumming heartbeat that she couldn’t attribute to dehydration.
Two days after her release Hermione was allowed to return to her normal class schedule, which included Advanced Potions… which had Draco as her lab partner… which should not rattle her like it currently did. When she entered the classroom, however, Draco was absent.
“Miss Granger, you will be working alone this week as Mr Malfoy is indisposed.” Professor Snape gave her a thorough look. “If this is too onerous for you, other arrangements can be made.”
“No, sir. I’m quite capable of working on my own.” She hesitated, but her curiosity got the better of her. “May I ask, sir, if there’s a problem with—”
“Not that it’s any of your business, Miss Granger, but his mother is ill and asked for his presence. Now that your inquisitiveness has been satisfied, may I begin my lesson?” He didn’t wait for her permission. “Class, Golpalott’s Third Law: explain it in detail and provide an example of its use.”
As she was writing up the definition and her example of a potion, Hermione kept becoming distracted by her worry for Draco and his mother, so much so that she accidentally added a few strands of her own hair to the ingredients for the potion. This threw off the results of said potion, so she had to start over, causing her to turn in a half-completed assignment. It rankled, of course, but that it perturbed her so little worried her a great deal.
Three days later, it was all over the school: Lady Narcissa Malfoy had died from a particularly virulent form of Scrofungulus, which she had contracted on their recent summer trip to France. When Hermione first heard the news, she excused herself to wander up to the Astronomy Tower and looked to the south, towards Wiltshire.
She knew Draco was close with his mother. Whenever she’d happened to be within earshot of his conversations, he always spoke of his mother in almost reverent terms. Hermione tried to picture losing her own mother, and the mere thought brought depthless pain to her heart. She didn’t try to understand Pureblood relations, but one could surmise that the reaction would be the same—utter heartbreak, especially if one was an only child, as Draco was.
She didn’t imagine that Lucius would be much support; the Malfoy patriarch was seen as stoic, cold even on the few occasions she had met him. But she supposed that wasn’t fair. Who was she to determine how someone dealt with their grief? Definitely not her; she’d had a goldfish that had died three months after she’d received it. That was the extent of her experience with loss up to this point in time. Of course, there would be loved ones she would lose in the coming years, but she didn’t think anything would equate with the loss of a parent.
Footsteps sounded behind her, but she already knew it was Harry. He came to stand next to her and nudged her. “Hey.”
She gave him a small smile and leaned her head on his shoulder. They stayed that way for a few moments before Hermione straightened up and looked to the south again. “What’s it like, Harry? To lose a parent… or both?”
Harry flicked a pebble off one of the turrets. “I…” He faltered and pushed his glasses up on his nose. “Sometimes, I have this emptiness inside me, and I wonder why. Then I realise that I’m doing something I think my mum or dad would’ve liked to have done with me and the sadness is overwhelming.” He shifted and put his arm around her. “But then I remember I have Sirius and Remus, that they love me as much as my parents did, and it’s not so bad. They knew my mum and dad, growing up, so in some ways, it’s a lot like my parents are still around, in spirit.”
She drew Harry into a hug. “I’m glad you have them.”
“Me too.” He released her and stood back. “I talked to Sirius about that potion Malfoy gave you. It’s legitimate, but he thinks a Black family member should be making it. He says he’ll make it for you, but I still think Malfoy is up to something.”
She shook her head in exasperation. “Like what? He’s my partner in Potions. He’s had plenty of opportunities to sabotage a potion, or hex me, or any number of things, but he hasn’t.”
“Then how did you end up in the infirmary?”
“Merlin, Harry, my own clumsiness! We were talking and I wasn’t paying attention. I know you think I’m infallible, but I’m just as human as you are.”
“Harry, let it go. Draco didn’t do anything.”
“Fine. But if something like this happens again…”
She rolled her eyes. “Then I give you free rein to hex him to your heart’s content. After I’m finished with him, of course.”
Harry smirked. “Of course. Come on, it’s bloody cold up here.”
Five days later, as she was leaving the library, Hermione ran into Pansy, who looked a frightful mess. Her eyes were red and swollen, as if she’d been crying, and she was quite pale. It was an innate sense of empathy that had Hermione reaching out to comfort another human being, regardless of who they were.
“Pansy, are you… okay?”
The Slytherin stopped in her tracks, her jaw clenched. “Fuck off, Granger,” she snarled, then entered the library with nary a glance back.
“Well, that was pleasant,” Hermione muttered and continued on to her Potions class.
When she entered, she was surprised to see Draco at their desk. He looked wan and tired, as if what colour he’d previously had was leached from his complexion. She carefully sat next to him and searched his face for signs of distress, but he was as closed off as his father.
“I’m sorry about your mother, Draco,” she offered softly.
As if just realising she was there, Draco turned his red-rimmed gaze to her. “Thanks,” he whispered.
“Is there anything I can do?”
He tilted his head and gave her a funny look. “Actually, yes. Would you go with me to Dogweed & Deathcap during the next Hogsmeade weekend?”
To say that Hermione was disconcerted was an understatement. “They have fervo
weed, don’t they?” At Draco’s nod, she asked, “Wouldn’t it be more prudent if you took Pansy?” Even as she suggested it, Hermione wanted to take it back.
“Not particularly,” Draco replied. “See, my mother never liked Pansy, but my father pressed for a Pureblood marriage. Professor Snape alerted my parents that Pansy might try to use the Angel’s Trumpet Draught on me.” He gave her a lop-sided smile. “Seems someone told him they overheard Pansy talking about it.”
Hermione blushed to the roots of her hair. “He deducted ten points for having the gall to bother him with the information,” she groused.
Draco leaned close. “Was it worth the points?”
She gave him a prim look. “I don’t know. Yet.” She thought for a moment, recalling the kiss Draco gave her. “So, wait. You never ingested any of the seeds or pollen?”
He laughed lightly, then sobered. “I’m actually more clever than I look. Pansy was asking way too many questions about that potion, and Slytherins are unusually curious when they think something will benefit them, so I was suspicious. I never ate or drank anything that she gave me. When Lucius found out what she planned to do, that little stunt cost Pansy the marriage contract she had with my family. Mother was relieved.” He pressed his lips together, though Hermione could easily tell he wanted to cry. “She made my father promise that I could choose my own partner, regardless of blood purity, before she… died.”
Hermione grasped his hand and squeezed. “That’s good, right?”
Draco covered her fingers and smiled. “It’s perfect.”THE END