You first believed
It all started one afternoon...
It was almost nightfall when Draco skirted his way towards the Lake. When he reached his spot, he sat comfortably on top of his favorite boulder. He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with the frigid evening air, his eyes automatically closing. For him, this place is one of his secret havens' in Hogwarts - a sanctuary where he can be himself without all the pretensions and pressures from the outside world. He loved this place, because every time he needs comfort and peace; it caters to him.
Slowly, he opened his weary eyes and held his cloak much tighter. The wind is blowing colder than usual, a sure sign that the season is about to change. Winter has always been his favorite season. It reminds him of what used to be good; his fond memories of childhood and how less complicated his life used to be. He shook his head to clear the depressing thoughts and took out his wand. He swished his wrist and muttered a silent charm that his Mum taught him. Tiny luminous light erupted from the tip and danced its way above the dark rippling waters. "Fire flies" he muttered.
A small smile curled up his lips as he watched the spectacle he made fondly. Every time he conjures these lights, it reminds him of the tale his Mum used to tell him back when he was just a little boy. According to legend; fireflies are one of the most loyal creatures that ever graced the face of the earth. Just like the human race, they also wait for their true love to come. They glide across the forest and dance among the trees. They flaunt their beautiful light, attracting their suitable mate. They spend their little time together, never leaving each other's side. And when the time comes when one of them dies, the other left behind won't even bother finding another mate. It will just bid its time, until it also succumbs to death.
He flicked his wand again, altering the color of the orbs, turning it into Slytherin green. He rested his elbows on top of his knees, his thoughts drifting towards the person he misses most, "I miss you Mum," he said dejectedly.
"Come on, what are you really up to?" Hermione mumbled, her eyes never leaving her arch nemesis slumped form.
It has been a month since she started following Draco Malfoy and up to this point; she hasn't seen anything unusual. At first, her main purpose of following the git is to check if he's dipping his fingers into something that can incriminate him. But much to her chagrin, his foot didn't even cross a single line. She was ready to put a stop to her Sherlock gig, but for some unfathomable reason, every time she sees him head to the lake - her feet seems to follow.
Every day, before dusk, he heads towards the same place. He climbs up the big boulder near the shore and perch himself on top. He will then pull his wand and point it towards the water - creating pretty little orbs that seem to dance above the rippling surface. She's always been puzzled about those lights, wondering how he was able to create something so beautiful, yet he's been nothing but foul and loathsome.
"An enigma, that's what he is," she said as she tore her eyes away from him. She adjusted her cloak and checked her watch, "Blimey! It's almost dinner, where did the time go?" she muttered as she spun on her heels and made her way back to the castle.
After the evening feast, Hermione decided to swing by the library to make some changes to her Potions essay. Ginny volunteered to accompany her, but knowing her friend's short attention span, she declined politely.
She was scanning through the shelves when she suddenly stopped. She turned her head to the side and noticed someone sitting on the floor. Unconsciously, her eyes started to study his features, mentally ticking some imaginary boxes inside her head. She felt her breath hitch inside her throat when she realized what she's doing - she's checking Malfoy out! "What the bloody hell? He's the enemy Granger! Pull yourself together!" she mentally scolded herself.
"You've been standing there for quite some time Granger,"
Her elbow hit the shelves, clearly startled by his unexpected acknowledgement. "Ouch!"
A smirk curled up Draco's lips, his eyes still stuck on the page he seems to be reading. "Do I have something hideous on my face? You're staring" he drawled.
She lifted her chin defiantly, ignoring how much her cheeks are burning. "What are you doing here? Didn't know you can read," she spat, her tone full of disdain.
"Then I guess, there's just a lot of things you still don't know about me Granger," he said just before he lifted his gaze to meet hers.
A shiver went down her spine as her traitorous heart started pumping wildly inside her chest. She opened her mouth to speak, but words seem to evade her.
The smile on his lips morphed into his trademark smirk, "You're acting as if a Blast-Ended-Skrewt is trying to communicate with you. What's with the look?"
Her brows furrowed with a mixture of confusion and suspicion, "What on earth happened to you?"
He leaned back on the books he piled to face her fully, this conversation is not as bad as he expected it to be. He opened his mouth to respond but then, the books he's leaning on started to collapse, making him topple back to the floor.
She gasped loudly, her eyes widening in shock.
His shoulder shook as he let out a full belly laugh, "Fuck! That - that was embarrassing!" he said between chuckles.
She looked at him like it's the first time she's seeing him. She had known Draco Malfoy for 6 longs years and yet, this is the first time she's seen him so - human. "There's no trace of malice or sarcasm in his tone and he's laughing at his own expense, are Pygmy puffs flying now?" she thought, a small smile involuntarily curling on her lips.
"Is that a smile?"
She arranged her features and sniffed, "Of course not."
He threw her an amused look as he sat up. He moved his hand to his lower back, cringing when his fingers dug a tender spot.
As much as she wants to ignore his reaction, her good side won. "Are you hurt?"
"Is that concern I hear there, Granger?" he asked, his eyes studying her closely.
"I'm just-" she paused, her nose wrinkling. "Forget I asked."
"Oh no, I won't" he replied somewhat gingerly. He scooted towards the sturdy bookshelves and stretched his legs out, "Tell me something Granger, why do we always fight?"
She threw him an incredulous look, "Are you really asking me that question?!" she asked, her voice turning pitchy. She crossed her arms on top of her chest, "You've always been a prat to me and my friends, not to mention our whole house! And now you're asking me why we always fight?! I think you hit your head hard when you toppled over!"
"No, my head is fine" he replied. He then pursed his lips, "You do have a point there, I've been nothing but a prat-" he paused to let out a sigh. "It's tiresome you know? Being a prat, I mean."
"Pygmy puffs are indeed flying!" she thought. "Then why do you do it?" she asked, her tone betraying her stiff posture.
He rested his head back and closed his eyes, "Would you believe me if I tell you that it's all a ruse? That I'm only acting the way I am because that's what people expect of me for being a Malfoy?"
Her brows furrowed deeper, making her forehead crease further in confusion. "Are you telling me that you're purposely acting like a tosser because that's what people want to see from you?" she asked with an even tone. Trying hard to keep the bite at a minimum, after all, this is the first time they've talked without insults flying. If she wants to get the answers to the questions that have been plaguing her since first year, she has to tread carefully.
Slowly, he opened his eyes, a wisp of blonde fringe falling to his forehead. "If I tell you yes, would you believe me?" he softly asked.
She felt the air get knocked out of her chest when she saw honesty in his eyes. She tightened her hold on herself as she tried her best to come up with an appropriate response. She's not used to him being so...open and it's tipping her off balance.
He cleared his throat and lowered his eyes to his lap, "I can't blame you if you don't believe me, you know," he paused to let out self depreciating chuckle. "I haven't done anything to convince you otherwise."
She swallowed the lump inside her throat, "Why are you being so...upfront about these things all of sudden? Why are you explaining your actions to me?"
He sighed, "I can't answer that because I also don't know the answer," he replied with a hint of frustration. He then rested his head back on the shelves, "It's just...I'm tired Granger, I'm tired of being someone I'm really not."
She licked her lips, her eyes never leaving his slumped posture. "Who's the real Draco Malfoy then?"
He shrugged, "I wouldn't know, haven't seen him in a while," he replied. He then turned his face to side and patted the space beside him, "Why don't sit with me, it's kinda hard talking to you while I'm sitting down here - makes my neck cramp" he said casually.
She raised her brow, "Is Draco Malfoy asking me to sit down and chat with him?"
"Why do you always say my full name?" he asked, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
He smiled, "I'm just kidding Hermione, no need to be flustered."
She felt the familiar tingling down her spine when he said her name, "You...you called me Hermione..." she said with awe.
He rolled his eyes good-naturedly, "That's your name, right? You haven't changed it or something?"
"No - it's just weird hearing it from you," she admitted.
He nodded in understanding, "I get you," he replied. He then tapped the space beside him again, silently asking her to sit down.
She stared at the spot with uncertainty; is this his way of offering an olive branch or is he playing her?
"If it makes you feel any better, I promise not to bite."
Before her mind can come up with an excuse, she found herself walking towards him.
He waited for her to be comfortable beside him, before he started speaking again. "I'm sorry...for every single thing I've done to hurt your feelings" he said.
Her head snapped to the side, her eyes wide with shock.
He turned to meet her gaze, his eyes full of remorse and sadness. "I won't justify my atrocious behavior with excuses. What I did to you is totally uncalled for; you didn't deserve any of it."
She felt her eyes sting with tears, "Damn right, I didn't."
His eyes clouded with shame, so he averted them. He pulled his knees to his chest and folded his arms on top, "It's just that - I've been thinking lately and everything I've done for the past 6 years came back and hit me straight in the face-" he paused to throw her a sad look. "For whatever it's worth Granger, I'm really sorry...really very sorry..."
She studied him for a moment, "You really don't think I'm less of a witch because of my blood?"
He shook his head, not breaking eye contact. "Not one bit, I've realized that too" he replied without missing a beat. He then moved his hand towards his head and raked his fingers through his hair, "Hell Granger, how can I believe you're inferior when you've managed to best every single Pureblood in this school, including me? I was a right fool for saying those stupid things, it's completely unwarranted and not to mention baseless!"
She bit her bottom lip to keep the smile that's making its way to her lips, "Are you admitting that I'm better than you Malfoy?"
"Is it too late to admit that?" he asked hesitantly.
"Better late than nothing, I reckon," she replied.
His whole face seems to relax with her words, "Yeah, that's about right."
"Do you really mean it? You're really sorry for everything?" she asked, her eyes boring into his silver-grey depths.
He didn't blink, letting her see the truth in his eyes, "I swear to everything I hold dear in my life, I really mean it" he said with conviction.
A large chunk of ice inside her chest seems to melt with the waves of sincerity that came through his words. She has to give it to him; he was smart enough not to insult her intelligence by throwing pathetic excuses to help absolve his horrendous trespasses against her. That alone, earned him an "O" in her book. With that in mind, she let out a small reconciliatory smile, "Okay, I believe you" she said.
His whole face lit up with relief, "Thank you Granger, you don't know how much hearing that means to me..."
"You're still not off the hook yet, don't be too happy" she warned.
His smiled didn't waver, "I know that, and I'm very much willing to do everything to make up for my mistakes."
"That's good to hear."
He stretched his legs back to the floor, his torso angling towards her. He then propped his hand out, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "Hi, I'm Draco Malfoy. I'm on my 6th year here in Hogwarts, Slytherin House."
Laughter bubbled up her chest, making her giggle.
He wiggled his hand, his smile deepening every passing second.
She composed herself and sat straighter. She schooled her features as she slipped her hand in his, "Nice to meet you, I'm Hermione Granger. I'm on my 6th year as well, Gryffindor House," she said, following his lead.
He wrapped his hand around hers before shaking it, "The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Granger" he said politely.
"Likewise, Mr. Malfoy" she replied evenly.
They stared at each other for a few seconds, before bursting into laughter.
He gave her hand a friendly squeeze, before carefully retracting his. "I can't believe we're only doing this now," he said humorously.
She let her hand drop to her lap, ignoring the tingling sensation that his hand left. "On the floor, behind tall bookshelves lined with tomes older than us," she added.
He nodded in agreement, "Can you imagine the outrage if someone sees us here?" he asked. He then lifted both hands to draw an imaginary banner, "We'll be the talk of the town; arch nemesis from opposing houses, caught laughing and talking with each other - without wands drawn!" he said with flourish.
She cracked up and started giggling, "Oh my Merlin!" she gasped. "I bet we'll make it front page - that is, if anyone dares to believe it."
"I concur," he said with a grin.
She ended up staying longer than he expected, much to Draco's delight. He knew they had a lot in common, but never did it cross his mind that they also share the wave length. It was refreshing, talking with someone who can understand his point without having to explain further. To let out a joke and have the other person laugh instead of staring at him blankly. For the first time in years, he felt alive, and daresay happy.
"Oh my gosh!" Hermione gasped as she stared at her watch in shock.
He pulled the sand keeper inside his pocket, "Where did the time go? I thought it was still early."
"Time flies when you're having fun, I guess."
He grinned, "Is that you're way of saying that you had fun spending time with me, Granger?"
She guffawed as she started zipping her bag, "Don't pretend like you didn't enjoy yourself too, Malfoy."
"I didn't say I didn't."
"Then it's settled, we both enjoyed" she concluded with a smile. "We have to go, if Filch catches us, we'll both be in trouble, now that, is not fun."
He cringed as he hauled himself up, "You're right, I don't fancy spending time with that old coot" he replied. He held his hand out to her for the second time, "Come on up, I'll walk you back to your dorm" he said.
She accepted the help and hefted herself up, "Do you know where our dorm is?" she asked with a raised brow.
He threw her a sheepish look, "Err - not exactly, but I'm sure I can find it without being caught."
She smiled at him, "It's okay, I can manage. Thank you for the gallant offer though, I appreciate it," she said sincerely.
He eyed her, "You sure? I mean, I really don't mind-"
She waved her hand dismissively, "100 percent," she said, cutting him off. She adjusted the bag on her hip, "I better go, I bid you goodnight here Malfoy" she said sweetly before turning on her heels, clearly not expecting a response from him.
"It's Draco, you can call me Draco," he blurted out, his cheeks suddenly feeling hot.
She paused and turned her face towards his, "Only if you call me Hermione," she said.
He slipped his hands inside his pockets, "I already called you Hermione, you already forgot?"
"You did, but then again, I didn't ask you to. Now I am, makes our friendship more official, don't you think?"
His heart started fluttering inside his chest, "We're friends then?" he asked, hating how his voice turned shaky.
She rolled her eyes, "I've sat with you for hours Draco, if that's not a sign of a burgeoning friendship, I don't know what is."
He smiled widely, not caring how stupid he must look like. "I like the sound of that, friends."
"I like the sound of it too,"
"I bid you goodnight too, Hermione - make sure to stay away from Mrs. Norris on your way back."
She mock saluted, "Stay away from cats, got it. You too, goodnight again Draco" she said before making a dash towards the door.
He waited for a few beats before following her. He quietly opened the door and slipped into the dark hallway, "She's fast," he mumbled when he saw no sign of his new friend. He shook his head in amusement as he traced the familiar steps back to the dungeons. He was almost near the entrance when he spotted Mrs. Norris sitting in the middle of the pathway, staring at him with narrowed eyes.
"Did you catch them, my love? Did you see those pesky kids?" Filch's voice boomed.
He threw Mrs. Norris a scowl, "Stupid cat!" he spat when the cat tried clawing his right leg. He hastily walked deeper into the dungeons, stopping right in front of the familiar wall. He tapped his wand twice and muttered the password, letting out a sigh of relief as he stepped into their Common Room. "I hope you made it back without being caught Hermione" he thought, a smile unconsciously curling on his lips.
"You're out late,"
His head snapped to the side and saw Blaise sitting on a wingback chair near the fire, "I was with Snape" he replied, the lie easily slipping from his lips.
"You're smiling, didn't know spending time with Snape can make you that happy," Blaise teased, his brows wiggling suggestively.
He rolled his eyes, "Think whatever you want, I'm going to bed" he said as he made his way towards the corridor.
"Don't dream of Snape!"
"Fuck you, Zabini."
Loud booming laughter echoed along the corridor, turning his smile into a full grin.
Hermione slipped under the comforter, the smile on her lips never fading. Tonight indeed, was the weirdest night of her entire life. She turned her face to the side and buried her face into her pillow, muffling the giggles that she can't seem to stifle. "Pygmy puffs are indeed flying, Draco Malfoy is her friend!" she thought.
-End of flashback-