"So what's been going on with the two of you?" I asked.
"Well, Sara's been seeing Kevin Rawlings a lot here lately. She says there's nothing going on between them, that they're just studying for potions. I think that's a load of hippogriff droppings, but she refuses to change for her story," Kat said with a knowing look at Sara.
"I've told you a thousand times or more that it's really not like that! We're just friends. I think he even has a girlfriend, and it's definitely not me. Besides I'm not even interested in him like that."
I smiled and laughed at the two of them. Some things never change. "So who is your love interest if it's not him?" I queried.
A slight blush crept into her cheeks, and she suddenly seemed very intrigued by her toast and jam. "Well, he's not in Slytherin. Actually I think that's why I like him so much. He's not a complete git." And then with a wide-eyed, apologetic expression she looked at me and said, "I'm so sorry Kim, I didn't mean it like that. I'm sure Malfoy can be nice."
I smiled and shook my head, "There's no need to apologize. We all know that just about every guy in Slytherin is a great slimy git. There's no point in trying to pretend they're not. As a matter of fact, I think that's probably why most of them are in our House."
Sara smiled with relief and looked at Kat. "I told you that it wouldn't matter that he was in Gryffindor."
"So what's his name?" I asked.
"Michael Richards. He's really nice, and he doesn't even mind that I'm in Slytherin. Of course some of his friends are a bit wary of me. It's really difficult to have an inter-house relationship. It's complicated even more by the fact that we're in the two houses that hate each other the most. So we're just trying to keep things quiet for now. It's hard to get to know someone better when everyone else is constantly butting in to ridicule you."
"Well that sounds really good. At least he understands that not all of us are obsessed with pure blood and the Dark Arts," I replied.
Once we had finished eating breakfast we made our way to class. I was lost in thought and didn't notice Draco when I walked past him lurking in a shadowed alcove of the corridor. Still talking with Kat and Sara, I only stopped when I felt someone grab my arm. Not realizing what was going on I had my wand in my hand before he had turned me around to face him. Kat and Sara had stopped a few steps away and turned back to see what was going on.
"Going to curse me?" he asked, with an overconfident smirk on his face.
"It would be nice if you'd get my attention without sneaking up on me for once," I replied.
He laughed quietly and pulled me closer to him. "I like sneaking up on you."
"We have to get to class. I don't want to be late for Charms. Are you coming?"
"I'll see you in class. There's something I need to do before then."
"Fine," I said. "But I'm not covering for you if you're not there on time."
"You won't need to," he remarked.
He released my arm and I turned back to Kat and Sara. Without a word I set off down the corridor, now lost in thought.
"What was all about? Why was he hiding there?" asked Sara.
"He just likes to see if he can catch me by surprise. It's nothing."
We made it to class with plenty of time to spare. We sat near to the back of class and continued our conversation until Professor Flitwick cleared his throat and claimed the attention of the class. Just as he was about to start teaching Draco slipped in and took the empty seat to my right. Kat shot him a suspicious look, but didn't say anything.
After charms we went to potions. I didn't really feel up to the task of talking to Draco so I walked between Sara and Kat. Although it didn't seem to matter since he had fallen a few paces behind us and was absorbed in conversation with Crabbe and Goyle.
When arrived in the dungeon classroom Professor Slughorn was awaiting the class to take their seats and quiet down. The three of us took seats in the rear of the classroom so we could talk. Draco once again sat with me and I realized that he insisted on sitting with me so I couldn't speak freely with Kat and Sara. He wanted to make sure that I didn't' tell them what was really going on.
"You know, I'm not going to say anything to them. You've made sure of that. I can't tell them without endangering their lives. So you can go back to your goons. I don't think they know how to function without you pulling the strings," I muttered to him.
"They'll be fine. And I'm well aware of the fact that you won't be telling them anything. However, I quite enjoy watching you squirm. You seem to be disturbed by my presence when you're with them. I find that it amuses me," he replied with a sickening, evil smirk.
"I loathe you. You're a despicable, disgusting excuse for a human." I turned my attention back to the lesson and attempted to complete the potion that had been assigned. I somehow managed to get through the class. I even produced a passable potion.
Everyone else was going to lunch, but I went back to the common room. I couldn't face another moment of faking. Everything was not okay. I'm not sure how I'm going to get through this, but I'd better start figuring out something quick. As I sat on the couch by the fire, staring into the flames someone else entered the room. I didn't notice the sound of footsteps or someone standing behind me.
I turned around quickly with my wand ready, but relaxed when I realized that it wasn't Draco. "Oh, sorry, just a little jumpy today I suppose." I looked at him with mild puzzlement. I couldn't remember his name, but I knew he was in the same year as me.
"That's okay. What are you doing here alone? I never see you without a crowd of people around you."
"Everyone needs some peace and quiet now and then. I just needed a break I guess. Why aren't you in the Great Hall, Blake?" I remembered that was his name. I'd only talked to him a few times before. He was very cute though. Had it not been for my present situation with Draco I would have probably turned on the charm and flirted with him.
"I forgot my Transfiguration book," he said while sitting down next to me.
"Oh." I looked back to the fire and wished that he would leave. I really didn't want Malfoy to walk in and find us talking.
"So what's going on? You seem really upset," he said as he put his hand on mine.
I looked back at him and couldn't help myself. I started crying. Even people who were practically strangers knew something was wrong with me. Thankfully the common room was unusually deserted. I didn't even consider the consequences before spilling my troubles. "Everything is wrong and if I tell anyone what's really going on then horrible things will happen. I can't figure out how to get out of this ridiculous situation and I hate it. I'm not really one to be cornered. I know that sounds so stupid, but I'm just tired of the stress."
He looked a bit startled at the sudden flood of information, but took it in stride. He gently pulled me close and let me cry on his shoulder. When the tears finally subsided he dried my eyes. "Feel better?" he asked with a half smile.
I laughed briefly at the absurdity of the situation and nodded. "Yes, thank you."
Blake was looking at me with an inscrutable expression. Then without warning he leaned in and kissed me. It was a gentle kiss, and I was so shocked that I didn't have time to react before he stopped. His face was inches from mine and he said, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have…"
But I didn't let him finish the sentence. Without really thinking about what I was doing I kissed him.
Neither of us heard the sound of the portrait opening or the voices entering the common room. It had been uncommonly deserted up to now. But when the footsteps stopped abruptly we both heard the enraged shout that followed.
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!"
We pulled away as if each others' lips were poisonous. "Nothing's going on," I replied as calmly as possible. "I'll see you later Blake. Would you please tell Professor McGonagall that I went to the hospital wing. I'm not feeling well."