Bathwater

What You Find at Night

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Blimey." Dean Thomas sat up quickly from the couch in his chamber, tossing the Witch Weekly magazine he had found on the stone-steps when he'd been heading towards his headquarters. "Who in the bloody hell—"

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"I'm going! I'm going!" Dean shouted at whoever was knocking furiously on the door. "Bloody people cant see it's past midnight? I'm trying to sleep freaking peacefully without any—" He flung open the door and stopped his rambling when he's eyes found a pair of brown ones. "Lavender?"

Mimicking the exact raised eyebrow her fellow Seventh Year Gryffindor was sporting, Lavender Brown tapped her foot impatiently outside his door as she carried her blanket and a pillow. "Dean," she greeted blankly.

"What are you doing here?" He asked, noticing the items in her possession.

Lavender chose to ignore the obvious question for the moment. "Well, are you going to allow me to come inside or not? The Head Boy is roaming the corridor over and I can't handle any detention at my depressing moment."

"Erm, yeah. Okay. Come in," Dean said hesitantly as he moved to the side and allowed her access to his chamber. "…So, to what do I owe your visit this late?" (And how the hell did you find out where my chamber was? He added in afterthought.)

Lavender scooped up the Witch Weekly magazine before answering. "Seamus Finnegan," was what she hissed after a second, flipping the pages furiously. "He's a bloody troll, a downright git, and not to mention a thickheaded prat, a pathetic ghoul—well, you get the point, don't you?"

"Though I'm sure you can go on for hours insulting my best mate, could you just get to the point?" Dean said tiredly, slowly sitting on the couch. "I was actually busy before you came banging along."

"Sleeping, Dean? That's what you were so occupied with?" Lavender scoffed and then rolled her eyes as the boy mumbled a 'whatever' to her statement. "Anyway, I came for help, alright?" She dropped the magazine and crossed her eyes determinedly. "Seamus has been behaving out of order lately, and I can't stand it any longer. Merlin knows that I tried the first week of this...this rubbish the Ministry unleashed on us, but I can't seem to get through to him."

Dean rubbed his eyes and mumbled, "attempting to murder him, Lav, doesn't count as trying."

"It's my rage, Dean!" Lavender stood from the armchair and stalked her way towards him and joined him on the couch to groan and grunt. Her face was twisted up in mere annoyance. "It's one thing to understand that he's freaked out over the marriage, but another different thing is to handle his rejections and humiliation."

"Lav," Dean put a dark palm on her shoulder, shoving away her dirty-blonde hair from the way, "you've got to understand that Seamus fancied that Ravenclaw girl for ages. You can't expect him to be alright when they forced a marriage on him with you—his friend."

"That's the thing, Dean," Lavender scooted a few centimeters closer and snuggled up to his neck. She felt comfort when his arm wrapped around her shoulder to ease some of her anger. "…I'm tired of being second choice. Ron was right when he said those things...I'm always setting my hopes for a bloke who can't see me...Who wants someone else no matter how much I try."

Dean felt a few wet spots trickle on his neck and he shifted uncomfortably on his couch. Dealing with emotional girls was never his forte.

"I did it with Ron. I tried my hardest for him to forget about Hermione...tried to make him see that he was happier off with me...And it was all for nothing. He ended up leaving me for her. And now with Seamus...I don't want him to marry me and then curse his days until he dies..." She sniffled into his neck, a small whimper mixed with her shaky voice. "I don't want to be second choice anymore, Dean."

Dean sighed and tore her away from the crook of his neck so he could look her fully in the eyes."I can't really justify what Weasley did, but as for Seamus, all you really can do is continue being yourself. Maybe then the thickhead will open his eyes and notice what a great witch you are."

Lavender groaned a little. "Waiting is what you're suggesting? We both know I'm not patient, Dean."

Dean gave her a small smile. "It's the best I can come up with. And we both know I'm rubbish at the emotional, talking stuff," he chuckled lightly.

After wiping away her tears, Lavender joined too as she felt a bit better about her situation with Seamus. She had to trust Dean's words, right? Dean was her fiancée's best mate after all, and he knew more than anyone the way Seamus thought.

"...Where's Luna?" Lavender asked as their laughter resided.

"She has Astronomy at the moment," Dean said, removing the look of momentary amusement from his dark complexion. "But I expect she'll be at Ravenclaw Tower for the rest of the night." He looked at her, trying to place an indifferent look on his face. He was tired of showing everyone that he was depressed over the eccentric Ravenclaw. "…I heard a couple of them whispering about a sleepover so I assume she'll be there with a few of her friends."

Though she could see Dean's cloudy eyes trying to mask his disapproval of Luna's lack of presence, Lavender decided she could be selfish and take use of the situation. "Oh. Well, do you mind if I sleep her?" She asked gently. "I'm sort of trying to give Seamus his space." She added a grin. "Its this new thing I'm trying."

"Sure." Dean patted her shoulder, looking at her sympathetically. (He personally knew how thickheaded Seamus could be when it came to handling witches, so he sympathized with Lavender even if he thought she was bonkers.)"I'll take the couch and you can take the room. Just don't go about messing with Luna's things, she notices everything."

Lavender smiled excitedly as she rose from the couch. "Thank you, Dean. Honestly." She bent down towards him and placed a kiss on his cheek. And as she was lifting her head up once again, she took a long look into his brown eyes. Noticing that they held a strange sort of light, something warm and comforting; something that could make anyone smile.

"I'll just..." And before she decided to head towards his room and leave the uncomfortable situation, her selfishness took over, hungry for comfort and someone to appreciate her so she closed her eyes and placed her lips on his.

X

"Well, if it isn't Draco Malfoy." A wand with the Lumos spell shining brightly at its tip was pointed towards the Slytherin entering his chamber. "The friend of every Gryffindor in Hogwarts."

Malfoy frowned, squinting a little by the light attempting to blind him. "Care to lower your wand from my face before I shove it up your—"

"Language, Draco." The wand-tip was lowered and extinguished as Draco Malfoy sent a spell to a lamp nearby. The chamber instantly brightened up completely. "Wouldn't want the Muggle-Born to be upset over her fiancée's lack of manners, would you?"

"Amused, are you, Blaise?" Draco glared at his friend, knocking his feet off his tea-table as he passed through. "How in Salazar's name did you get here quicker than I did?"

Blaise shrugged casually as he placed his feet back onto the table. "I saw you flirting with a Fifth Year," he said with a cluck of his tone. "I was walking Cho to the Ravenclaw tower, where she was having a fun sleepover and wished not to invite me, when I saw you, dear Draco, batting your eyelashes at that girl."

"First of all, I don't bat my eyelashes, Zabini," Draco grunted as he dropped himself down on one of the armchairs. "And secondly, I'm going to be warding my chamber from now on. So don't be surprised if you're blinded by boils as they begin squeezing out of your sockets next time you're trying to sneak your way in."

"Descriptive, aren't you mate?" Blaise smirked unmoved by his threat. "Besides, you should really be more perceptive of where and with who you do your flirting with. If the old hag McGonagall catches you feeling up another witch who isn't the Gryffindor Princess she might hex the Malfoy jewels right off. I don't believe cheating is tolerated with the engaged couples."

Draco scoffed and kicked off his shoes, sending them flying towards Blaise's feet. "The Headmistress can't bloody say anything about my actions until I am married with the Mud—with the Bookworm," he cleared his throat quickly, bashing himself mentally for almost using that word. (Pansy was right. Old customs really do die hard.) "Other than that, I'm free as a ruddy owl. And as for my 'flirting', I was doing no such thing. I might not be so keen about joining my soul and entire future with Granger, but I've some decency in me, Blaise. I'm not a cheater."

"Ha!" Blaise let out a loud snort as he untied the knot from his emerald tie. "Do you remember that year when you went out with Pansy? You practically sucked on every Slytherin witches face. How'd you explain that?"

Draco shrugged, indifference written all over his pale expression. "I can't, but it isn't like Pansy could reproach anything since she had a go with Theodore Nott in our little romantic adventure." The pale Slytherin shot a mocking look towards his best mate. "And you too, if I remember clearly."

Blaise coughed awkwardly. "I had your best interests at heart, mate. I wanted to know if Pansy was loyal or not." He grinned at his friend as he launched his tie to the floor. "And guess what, mate? She's a loose wench."

Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Clearly, Blaise. Why else did she consider letting Crabbe feel her up? I was just surprised you went down that infected road."

"I was just but a child back then, Drake," Blaise replied smoothly and trying not to look guilty for betraying him years back. "I didn't know that the world was filled with beauties that kept their virtues and didn't snog their boyfriend's mates." He cleared his throat. "Do you reckon we should warn Weasley about it? Wouldn't be surprised if Pans tried giving Potter a go."

"And take the chance of being hexed by Ginny Weasley?" Malfoy snorted at that possibility. "Pans is not that thick. And besides," Draco unwillingly received flashbacks of the kiss shared between his friend and the Gryffindor Weasel, "she seems to have changed a lot. No longer….What's the word?"

"Sluty?" Blaise finished with a smirk and a nod. "Hope Weasley has good intentions. It wouldn't matter if he tries to hurt her, they're already getting married, but it's just good to see Pans so….."

"Happy?" This time Draco finished the sentence.

"A bit daunting, isn't it?" Blaise mumbled, kicking his shoes off as well. "This entire Marriage Law. We were all in the beginning sure that this was doom to all of us, but some are actually finding...soul mates."

"Do you include yourself in the lot?" Malfoy sneered, trying hard not to grunt at the soft tone in his mate's voice.

He was secretly a bit nostalgic for the Blaise that hated everything just like him the previous years of their friendship. But seeing everything much clear, he had to admit that it seemed that that Blaise was repressed into acting as someone who he wasn't because of the situation they were in, because it was needed to survive being Death Eaters. (Draco even wondered if his best friend even belonged in Slytherin with the heart he had.)

"I can't say that I'm in love with Cho Chang," he ignored Malfoy's amused tone as he pulled a serious expression on his face, "because, I don't think I am. But I've certainly found a great friend in her. And if by the time our marriage rolls around and we've yet fallen in love, then it's better to be married to someone who's my friend than someone I want to murder."

Draco dropped his smirk instantly and replaced it with a hard expression. Cold gray eyes stared at his best friend at the stupidity he'd just said; like all of this was fine and dandy. "Do you reckon this was for the best then? Getting paired up with people we would've never dreamed of socializing with?"

"You have to broaden your mind, mate," Blaise said simply. "Think about the generations of Purebloods that have existed all these centuries. They've all married themselves to keep the legacy going. I, for one, didn't intend to marry a second-cousin. And this way, well, we got to see what's out there." He coughed uncomfortably and looked at the marbled floor. "What about you and Granger? I've seen the way both of you seem to be getting along. Brilliant, isn't it? Not to have her threatening you every moment?"

Draco too looked at the floor. His friend's words circling around the walls of his brain. Sure, Malfoy had to admit that it was for the best not to have the Brightest Witch of the Age pointing her skilled wand at his face, but he couldn't really say he was enjoying it. He was marrying his nemesis for his mother's sake.

"Well...I've got to make this work somehow, don't I?"

Blaise raised his head quickly, lifting one dark brow at his friend. "Meaning?"

"Meaning," Draco stood quickly from the armchair, "that if I'm going to have to marry Granger without her complaining every damned second, I'm going to need to keep the peace between us. If I'm going to restore the respect to the Malfoy's name then I'm going to have to make her fall in love with me."

Blaise opened his jaw abruptly. "You're going to trick her?"

"Obviously. I've been coming up with plans for a while now and I've discovered a few weaknesses the Gryffindor has. I suspect that I can charm her without much effort." Draco pulled off his tie as well and tossed it on the armrest of his chair. "It'll be a smoother road for me if I can have the Bookworm cooperate willingly. Imagine how it would look in the front pages of the Daily Prophet, Blaise," he said quickly, longing brewing in his gray eyes. "Imagine what the Wizarding World would say if they knew that Lucius Malfoy's son, ex Death Eater, married part of the Golden Trio? That she's completely in love and sees the fondness of the Malfoys?"

"You can't be serious, mate." Blaise stood too, placing his tie back on around his neck. "Using Granger for your own benefit is wrong, Drake. Lying to her that you can possibly feel the same isn't right...You can't lead her down that path, come on."

Draco eyed Blaise confusedly as the latter tied his tie hurriedly. "I won't hurt her, Blaise, if that's why you're getting your knickers into a twist. Well, not unless she doesn't provoke me, that is. I'll try to have everything perfect for her so she can be in bliss. Then in a couple of months after the wedding, a year maybe, I'll tell her the truth. Show her that I've never been in love with her." Malfoy let out a small humorless chuckle. "She'll know it's true. How else could I so agreeably marry her if there wasn't anything in interest for me?"

"….Make the rest of her life miserable, right?" Blaise huffed, summoning his shoes towards him. "That's the plan, Malfoy? Have the witch believe she's in heaven then throw her into Pureblood hell?"

"She'll be fine as long as she knows not to provoke me after that—Where are you going?" Draco asked suddenly, noticing his friend shove his feet angrily back into his shoes.

"I told you Cho was planning on having a sleepover with her sister and a few others at the Ravenclaw Common Room tonight," Blaise hissed, fixing his robes. "And seeing as I was going to be on my own, I figured I could spend some time with you and your lovely soon-to-be bride, but clearly that was a mistake."

"Drop the dramatics, Zabini. You can't actually be developing a soft spot for the Bookworm, can you? This isn't even your—"

But the rest was cut off when the door of the chamber opened. "Zabini, what are you doing here? Up for another movie?" Hermione smiled tiredly at Draco's friend, dropping her schoolbag by the entrance door. Her brown eyes peering up at him half-closing as they swam with exhaustion.

"No, I was...I've gotten suddenly a bit disgusted." The dark Slytherin tried not to growl or send a sympathetic look towards the Gryffindor. "I think I'm becoming ill. Best if I go find Cho and leave you to rest, Hermione," he pronounced the last word clearly so his best friend could hear it; answering his question in the process. (Yes, he had developed a soft-spot for the girl.)

Hermione shook her brown curls, yawning lightly. "It's no problem, Blaise." She too caught his use of her first name and decided to return the gesture. "You can stay here with Malfoy or I can brew you a quick remedy if you'd like. I'm no Madam Pomfrey, but I'm a bit useful with healing potions."

Blaise softened his eyes a fraction. (Salazar, he thought, poor beaver-beave has no idea was she's getting herself into.)

"Thanks, Hermione, but I'll pass. I think it's time I enjoy my own chamber for a change." He patted her shoulder gently, and then flew past to the door.

At the loud bang and dramatic way Zabini closed the door, Hermione turned to Malfoy before yawning. "What was that about?" She walked slowly towards him, dragging her feet as her eyelids grew heavy.

Taking advantage of one of her long blinks, Draco stared at the Gryffindor Princess with sincere eyes. Trying to shake off every emotion of hate he'd ever felt for her. He tried pushing the orders his father used to shout at him that told him to remember that it mattered not that she was a girl, she was still filth and should be treated as such. He tried erasing all those times he sent scowls, insults, smirks, and curses at her.

And then he saw it simply—saw her simply.

She was just a girl.

"Malfoy, what was wrong with Blaise?" Hermione repeated in a low voice, reaching him as she tried to rub the sleep from her eyelids.

Draco cleared his throat and placed his arm around her waist, pulling her up in one swift motion and carrying her as he made sure her arms were tightly wrapped around his neck so she wouldn't slip off. "…It was nothing," Malfoy muttered as he opened the door to their room. "Blaise is just too involved in some thoughts."

"Can I help him?" She spoke so gently and dimly, allowing Malfoy all these actions. Even to place her on the bed as sleep rained down onto her like pixie dust. (However, she mentally counted that it was the third time he'd put her to sleep when she could no long muster the strength to do herself.)

"No," Malfoy mumbled to her, joining her into the mattress and pulling the covers over them. He caught sight of her lip trembling lightly and knew that she was cold, so without thinking too much about it, Draco spread an arm around her waist as she turned over, giving him her back. He pulled her gently towards him so his nose was buried into her brown curls, allowing himself that as she soon closed her eyelids.

She didn't notice or hear anything as she went directly to sleep.

"….You're doing enough already," he whispered as he too closed his eyes and joined her in sleep.

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