Chapter 5 - Meretrix
She couldn’t find Malfoy anywhere. The prat was actually avoiding her. Apart from during class and in the Great Hall at meal-times, she hadn’t seen him since she’d struck him over two weeks ago. He’d even gone as far as to disillusion himself when she’d tried to corner him outside of DADA a few days ago. He had changed the prefect patrol schedules without telling her and putting her on patrol with Pansy Parkinson, which she had a few choice words at him for; she wouldn’t have minded had he swapped with literally anybody else.
It was getting fucking annoying. If anything, she should be the one avoiding him after all the shit he’d said to her in the kitchen that afternoon not the other way around. It wasn’t like she was hunting him down because she enjoyed his company, she needed answers. Why can’t I hear his thoughts like everyone else?
When she walked back into her bedroom the day before the first trip to Hogsmeade of the year, she found his half of their translation project slid under her door. That fucking coward she thought angrily to herself, can’t even manage to face me for our project. She didn’t even know why he was avoiding her, it’s not like he ever went out of his way to stay away after any other time. Even the first time she’d hit him back in third year, the next day he’d been back to teasing her and her friends. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what was so different this time around, but she knew she needed to talk to him sooner rather than later.
As she dressed she came up with a plan to talk to him after the prefects meeting tonight. She decided to skip breakfast this morning since she only had time to either go to the Great Hall or brew more pain potion.
She was hunched over the cauldron mid-way through her brewing when he walked into the common room, she looked up from the cloudy liquid and met his eyes from across the room where he was giving her a deadly glare. When their gazes met he flinched -he actually fucking flinched- before he turned away from her and rushed to his room.
She looked back down to her potion and continued brewing. Nothing again she noted mentally, that was at least three times now she’d made eye contact with him and hadn’t been unwillingly subjected to his thoughts. Something about him must be different, what is it? She pondered to herself. She was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t even notice when he left his room until the sound of the common room door closing shut behind him startled her from her thoughts.
Looking up at the clock, she realized she’d lost track of time. She was going to be late to potions if she didn’t leave right now. Shit. She accio’d her bag from her room, snagged her robes off the chair and hurried to class.
He’d been avoiding Granger like the plague. She was relentless in trying to confront him. He couldn’t figure out what she was playing at trying to get into his head, so he resorted to hiding from her until he could. He was certain it was her now who was trying to use legilemency on him, there’d been too many instances where he’d felt it in her company to deny it. Even just this morning before class she’d tried again.
Does she want to throw me back into Azkaban? He wondered to himself as he walked into potions and took his seat beside Blaise. That theory didn’t make sense; if she wanted him locked away, she could have left him to rot the first time around instead of testifying on his behalf with Saint Potter.
The other question that was eating away at him was how she got so good at legillemency in the first place. Typically unless someone was from a bloodline skilled in such mind charms, they took years or even decades to be able to invade another’s consciousness so subtly. In an untrained or new legilimens the pain should be extreme. It wasn’t like that with her. Each time Granger tried to get in his head it was like a gentle probe at his occlumency walls, encouraging him to let it in. That level of skill should take a witch like her a lifetime to perfect, if ever. He was certain if he’d not been so familiar with the sensation of having his mind invaded by the Dark Lord, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed her there at all. Guess the old snake wasn’t completely useless he thought bitterly to himself.
Draco felt her enter the classroom, even without meeting her eyes his occlumency could sense the presence of legilemency. How is she casting the spell wandlessly and non-verbally so consistently? She must be using an exceptional amount of magic to keep it up. He would be impressed if he wasn’t so preoccupied feeling on-edge.
Thus, the avoiding of her at all costs for the past few weeks. He’d changed his schedule completely, getting up before the sun rose to sneak out of the dorm before she woke and returning long after midnight. He’d taken to spending his free time in the Room of hidden things or the Herbology greenhouses to ensure he wouldn’t accidentally run into her in the halls. Hell, he’d even swapped patrols with Pansy and done his rounds with Blaise instead.
He knew he wouldn’t be able to avoid her anymore however, there was a prefect meeting tonight to discuss the first Hogsmeade trip tomorrow and the planning for the Halloween ball. If he thought he could get away with skipping the meeting he would, but one of the conditions of his parole was he had to uphold his duties as Head Boy along with a long list of other bullshit. He’d still take Granger over the dementors any day, but just barely.
He spent the entirety of his day coasting through his classes and spent more of his energy hypothesizing reasons why Granger wanted inside his head than he did pretending to listen to the professors. Ancient Runes was uncomfortable, he kept his gaze glued to the parchment he was not writing notes on while she looked sideways at him every few minutes as though she wanted to say something. By the time Herbology rolled around, he was thanking not only Salazar but Helena, Helga and even Godric that he had a block guaranteed to be Granger free.
His praise to the founders turned to cursing them the second he saw the dreaded frizzy-haired witch leaning against Greenhouse two. He seriously considered skipping the class, if it wasn’t for the fact that he needed an O in this class for his apprenticeship after Hogwarts he would have turned on the spot and walked away. Instead he settled on walking directly by her, making his way into the greenhouse to deposit his things and collect his tools without acknowledging her presence.
He was putting on his protective gloves to prepare the Mandrake plants for the second year class when she walked into the greenhouse behind him.
“Malfoy” she called, standing a generous distance away as though he might lash out at her. Smart witch, I just might he thought to himself.
“What do you want Granger, I have things to do.” He replied curtly, turning towards her. He was in the midst of mentally inforcing his occlumency walls when he noticed she was wearing mirrored sunglasses. If she wants in my head so badly, why is she covering her eyes? The witch got more and more confusing by the hour it seemed.
“I just wanted to make sure you’re coming to the prefect meeting tonight, it’s mandatory” her tone was uncharacteristically soft, the typical swotty tone absent from her words.
“It is being held in our common room last time I checked, I’ll be there.” He silently hoped his dismissive tone was clear enough for her to get the message and bugger off.
She nodded wordlessly before she left the greenhouse. When she shut the door behind her Draco released an exasperated sigh, leaned his forearms on the work-bench and bowed his head. He didn’t understand his co-Head at all, and it was becoming exceedingly frustrating and unsettling. With a physical shake of his head to try and rid his thoughts of her, he went about his to-do list that had been left for him by Professor Sprout. He was grateful he was one of only four upper year students taking Advanced Herbology, it meant he was often left to his own devices to complete tasks or assignments in peace.
Everything was ready for the prefect meeting except Hermione. She’d put out snacks and refreshments, made sure there were enough seats for everyone, written the itinerary on a conjured dry-erase board and anything else she could think of. She had spent so much time making sure the room was ready that she had neglected to prepare herself. Looking at the clock, she only had five minutes until everyone was due to arrive. Running quickly to her room she changed out of her uniform into a pair of comfortable denims and an old quidditch jersey she’d stolen from one of the Weasleys when she’d been living at the Burrow -though she didn’t know which since she’d never bothered to learn all of their numbers- and threw her hair into a quick bun, held in place with her wand.
She silently cursed herself when the common room door opened -I forgot to take a pain potion shit- and someone walked in. She let out an audible sigh of relief when Malfoy’s blonde head came into view. He looked distraught when he realized he was the first to arrive but she ignored him and jumped up to fetch a vial of the light blue liquid from her bag on the floor.
From her peripheral vision she watched as he looked suspiciously at the bottle and raised a questioning eyebrow at her when she unstoppered it and drank the whole thing. Tossing the empty vial back into her bag, she returned back to where she’d been sitting on the side-table near the fireplace. Risking a glance at Malfoy, his mouth was slightly agape, like he wanted to say something but couldn’t quite get the words out. She raised an eyebrow at him before turning her attention to fiddling with a quill as prefects started to trickle into the room and take their seats.
Once everyone had seated themselves and the initial greetings were out of the way; Hermione started the meeting, wanting to get this over with as soon as possible.
“Alright now that everyone is here let’s get started, as I’m sure you all know the first Hogsmeade trip is tomorrow afternoon and all prefects are required to patrol for one hour and the rest of the time you can do whatever you like. Although I’m sure you all would like either the first or last hour of patrol, those time slots have been allocated to the upper years as per usual. The entire schedule has been posted on the bulletin and we’ve kept you all with your usual patrol partners. Malfoy and I will be on patrol the entire trip for the younger students so if there’s any issues you can come and find us or any of the professors.” She looked quickly around the room at the prefects who all seemed exceedingly bored, frankly she couldn’t blame them.
Deciding to switch to a topic more of them were likely to be interested in, Hermione took her wand out of her bun, letting her hair fall over her shoulders, and tapped it to the dry erase board to reveal the list of themes she’d started on for the upcoming dance.
“We have decided to throw a Halloween ball for fifth years and up in order to boost inter-house relations and also to bring new traditions from the school.” she started, she was actually semi-excited for this event, Halloween was one of the holidays she dreaded the least. “It’s being left up to the prefects to decide on a theme for the ball. I’ve listed a few ideas on the board but you can choose anything you like so long as everybody agrees and it gets approved by the headmistress. We’ll be deciding on a theme at the next meeting to propose to McGonagall, which is two weeks from today and we can move forward with decorations and such then.”
The prefects discussed amongst themselves about ideas for the Halloween dance for a while before she decided to dismiss the group.
“If anyone has any questions or wants to discuss anything in private, Malfoy and I will be here for another five to ten minutes so feel free to hang back if you’d like” she called as everyone began to gather their things and shuffle out of the room.
Malfoy heard her words and froze where he was starting to leave, he turned to fix her with a glare. They hadn’t actually planned to stay after but if he left now he’d look like he was shrugging off his duties. She fixed him with a honey-sweet smile and settled herself onto a couch while he leaned against a wall across from her, his gaze fixed on the fireplace.
They stayed in silence for a long while until Hermione decided she was going to summon some of her Gryffindor courage and ask him about her legilemency.
“Malfoy” she started
“What the fuck do you want Granger?” he snapped
“I-” that’s actually a good question. She had no idea what she wanted to ask him. It’s not exacly like she could just say hey Malfoy how come I can read everybody else’s mind except yours? He would think she’d gone off the deep end. I mean if I’m being honest, I very well might have.
“Thank Salazar, she finally stopped talking” he exclaimed in a falsely cheerful tone. He stood up from his place against the wall and stormed out of the room when exactly five minutes had passed.
It was the middle of the night when he returned to their dorm. Hermione heard the common room door shut softly from where she lay wide awake in bed. She’d had another nightmare courtesy of Bellatrix Lestrange. Her nightmares about the Manor were so different from the rest of them; more vivid, and her scar always burned when she woke up as though it had been carved into her arm all over again.
She was shaken out of her internal-reflection by the sound of a feminine giggle. She heard Malfoy and whoever he was with -probably Pansy- whisper in hushed tones before the sound of a door shutting. Her hopes that Malfoy had the decency to cast a muffliato were shattered when the sound of moans penetrated the silence accompanied by a thudding sound she would wager a guess was the headboard banging against the wall.
With an indignant huff she threw on a pair of pajama bottoms, grabbed her wand, and walked out of the Head’s dorm towards Gryffindor tower. After whispering the password to the fat lady she walked into the red and gold common room, the familiarity of it all brought a smile to her lips. Walking into Ginny’s dorm room she whispered a quiet nox and the light on her wand went out, leaving her to navigate the dorm in darkness.
“Ginny” she whispered, poking her head through the younger girl’s curtains “Gin, can I sleep here tonight?” she asked. Her friend opened her eyes slightly then scooted over in her bed to make room. Once she was under the covers she turned in the direction of the red-head with a smile. The darkness of the room eliminating the chance that she might accidentally delve into her friend’s subconscious.
“Why are you sleeping in my bed ’Mione?” Ginny asked quietly. She knew she wasn’t upset with her, but it was usually her who needed to sleep in Hermione’s bed not the other way around.
“Apparently instead of calling me names and taunting me as per his usual style, Malfoy has decided to drive me out of my dorm by shagging Pansy through my wall as a new form of torment.” She sighed dramatically, earning a giggle from the other side of the bed.
“Well sweet dreams, try not to have nightmares about Malfoy and Pug-face shagging in your bed” she groaned as her friend laughed at her own words.
“Thanks Gin, now I’m going to have to go back to my dorm tomorrow and incendio my mattress just in case” both girls laughed quietly before they fell back asleep.