Chapter 6 -Desero
They’d agreed to meet at the entrance to Hogsmeade, to limit the amount of time they had to spend in one another’s company. Well, Malfoy had decided on behalf of both of them and then left her a note informing her as much by sticking it to her bedroom door.
She’d returned to the dorm in the late morning, hoping that Pansy or whoever had driven her out and into Gryffindor tower will have left before she got back. An empty common room greeted her when she walked through the door Thank Merlin. Having already gone for breakfast with Ginny and a few other girls, she had just over half an hour to get ready before she needed to leave.
Since it was the weekend and she wasn’t required to wear her uniform, she settled for a pair of black denims and a thin maroon jumper that she pinned her Head Girl badge to. It was still fairly warm for Scottish autumn so she forewent a jacket altogether. Plaiting her hair into two identical French braids to keep it under control, she tucked her wand into its usual place under her sleeve and secured it with a weak sticking charm.
She slipped her flask into its regular place inside her bra. She’d replaced its typical contents with pain potion today, figuring it easier than carrying around a bag full of vials. Snagging her sunglasses off of her desk, she slipped on a pair of sneakers and left the common room.
Peeves was loitering in the front hall calling taunts to students as they left the castle. “Ooh it’s the Golden Girly Grangerrrr” he crooned, bouncing towards her and cackling as the first years he’d been flying around ran away down the hall.
“Bugger off Peeves or I’ll tell the Bloody Baron you called his chains gaudy” she snapped, she really wasn’t in the mood to deal with him. She was saving her temper for spending the day with Malfoy.
“Granger Girly isn’t any fun” he pouted, crossing his arms and floating himself upside down in front of her face as she walked. Reaching through him to grasp the door handle and pull it open, she walked out and turned back to flip him off with a smile before letting the heavy wood slam shut.
She started walking down the path away from the castle, it took her longer than she expected as younger years kept walking with her to ask her questions. It was harder to avoid eye contact with them than it was people her own age, mostly because she had to actively look down at them to be polite when she spoke to them. Her walk was exhausting, being bombarded with the thoughts of pre-teens.
She’s so cool! I hope my hair will be that long when I’m older.
I can’t believe she actually fought Death Eaters, she looks way too nice.
Maybe she’d ask Harry Potter to sign my chocolate frog card for me!
I definitely can’t ask her for a hug, that would be weird.
Thankfully soon enough the clouds shifted and the sun shone brightly, giving Hermione the perfect excuse to put her sunglasses on, preventing any more eye contact with other students.
They all idolize us too much, they’re too young to understand how fucked up the war made us. She thought to herself when she’d broken away from the pack of fourth years who had been asking her a billion and one questions about Harry and Ron.
None of the students knew that Harry blocked his memories of the war out by participating in underground fights and smoking cigarettes, or that Ron kept his nightmares about seventh year at bay by inviting a new girl into his bed every night. They had no idea that Hermione carried a flask of tequila with an undetectable extension charm in her bra, or that she spent her mornings brewing pain potion so she could get through the day. They don’t see how dirty war is, they only see how shiny it makes the heroes look.
She was so busy thinking about how screwed up her and her friends were that she didn’t notice Malfoy leaning against the stone pillar of the front gates until he moved to stand as she approached.
She’s wearing those mirrored sunglasses again Draco noted as Granger approached him and the two of them walked into Hogsmeade side by side. She was wearing fitted jeans and a thin jumper. He’d never really noticed her body before but he hadn’t been able to help it lately, she occupied his thoughts so much that he couldn’t help but become more aware of her appearance.
They’d probably never stood side by side before now, he noticed she was smaller than he thought she was, probably a good eight or nine inches shorter than him. Her hair was longer than it had been when he’d last seen her in the ministry, she usually wore it up in some way but even braided her hair reached close to the middle of her back.
“Like what you see Malfoy?” she asked dryly. Shit he’d definitely been staring at her, she probably thought he was checking her out.
“Not in the slightest Granger” he drawled back “I was simply trying to figure out why you smell like a distillery at 1 in the afternoon.” It wasn’t a lie. She did smell like alcohol, he’d noticed it as soon as she’d started walking beside him.
“We’ve all got our own ways of dealing with the war don’t we?” Came her response. She shrugged lightly and kept walking. “We share a recycling bin Malfoy, I’ve seen the collection of firewhiskey and brandy bottles you accumulate in a week. Don’t think you’re better than me just because my demons haunt me during the day instead of the night like yours.” She turned her head in his direction, he could see his reflection in those damn sunglasses.
“Trust me Granger, there’s no universe where I think I’m better than you. Not when it comes to my demons” he said bitterly.
“Right, just when it comes to your demons. You’re still pure-blooded and I’m just a mudblood unworthy of magic. Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten.” She rolled her eyes as she spat the words out.
“You’re golden remember? I’m the ex-death eater. Shouldn’t matter to you anyways what I think should it?” He raised an eyebrow at her questioningly.
“I think this might be the first time we’ve ever had an entire conversation without resorting to throwing insults... or fists” he glared at her when she added on the last bit. “So for the sake of us having to spend the entire day together, I’m going to choose to disregard that you didn’t disagree with my earlier point.”
“I don’t give a shit if you ignore it or cry yourself to sleep about it later Granger” he snapped at her. “We aren’t friends remember?”
“God Malfoy, just when I start to think maybe you aren’t an irredeemable dickhead you go and prove me wrong” she seethed. He couldn’t see her eyes but he could wager a guess that she looked royally pissed.
“Quick someone call the Daily Prophet, the Golden swot actually admitted to being wrong. We should make it a national holiday.” He sneered at her sarcastically. She huffed and turned her attention back to the road they were walking along as she spoke.
“Have you ever considered that the world won’t end if you try to just be pleasant for once? We don’t have to be friends but we do have to spend the entire afternoon together”
“I’m not the problem Granger, you’re just so unbelievably annoying all the time” he knew he was being harsh for no reason, but it was true. Her presence just grated on his nerves and shortened his temper to nothing. His occlumency meant that most of the time he was indifferent to everything, except with her. She always managed to cause his anger to flare uncontrollably. He turned and started to walk away from her.
“Where are you going we-” he cut her off as he spun back around to face her.
“Don’t worry I’ll still do the bloody patrol, but I intend to do it as far away from you as I physically can” he practically snarled at her before he turned back around and walked away quickly.
What the hell is his problem? She watched Malfoy stomp away from her, confused as to what exactly had set him off in the first place. They’d almost been getting along before he started acting like an ass.
With a shrug she continued her walk down the cobblestone street, smiling pleasantly at the students who waved at her as she passed. She’d just tucked herself into a small alley between two shops to take a sip of her pain potion when she heard footsteps behind her. Rushing to tuck the flask back into her bra and slipping her wand subtly out of her sleeve, she turned to see who’d been sneaking up on her.
“Hello Hermione” Luna greeted, a smile on her lips.
“Hi Luna” she pushed her wand back up her sleeve, scolding herself mentally for being so jumpy. “What are you doing in the alley?” She asked her blonde friend.
“I suppose we both have answers to that question” the girl mused cryptically “I’m looking for something, would you like to walk with me?”
“That sounds lovely Luna” she was grateful she didn’t ask what Hermione had been doing in the alley. “I can help you look if you’d like, if you tell me what you’re trying to find.” She offered, trying to be helpful. She loved Luna dearly, but never quite understood the girl. The only person who didn’t seem confused by the blonde’s otherworldly ramblings was Neville. They really are perfect for one another.
“I don’t know what I’m searching for yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out when I find it” she answered, as though that made perfect sense.
“Oh, alright” she responded, not entirely sure what else she was supposed to say. The two girls walked in silence for a while before Luna spoke again.
“You know Hermione, I’ve been meaning to ask you how you’re doing.”
“I’m good. Why do you ask?” She looked over at her friend, her ever-present smile was there as she gazed into the shop windows thoughtfully while they walked.
“Well, your aura has been different for quite a while. It almost appears to be overwhelmed or muddled up.” Her friend explained, not looking at her as she spoke.
“Is that so?” she might as well entertain Luna’s idea, it was easier than trying to explain to her that she didn’t believe in auras. “I feel quite alright Luna but thank you for asking.”
“That’s good to hear, I suspect it must be quite hard” Luna mused, looking over at her and giving her a thoughtful look.
“What?” she asked, she was actually curious what the girl was talking about.
“Hearing everything.” She stated simply. When Hermione gave her a baffled look, she continued. “I find it difficult sometimes being able to see just a little bit more than most people can. I can only imagine that it must be overwhelming for you to hear so much more than the rest of us do.” Had Luna figured out what was going on?
“How do you..?” She trailed off, not even sure how to put the question into words.
“Like I said,” Luna turned her attention back to the windows as she spoke calmly “your aura looks different. For a while I thought it was just because we were in the middle of a war, but then Voldemort died, and it just got more cluttered every time I saw you.” She gave Hermione a pleasant smile and continued walking and humming, leaving her behind when she stopped in her tracks trying to process everything the blonde had just said.
“Aye mate” Zabini nudged him gently in the side “time to do the captain thing and give a pre-game inspiring speech or something.” They were in the change-rooms getting suited up for the first Quidditch game of the season. Slytherin versus Ravenclaw. Fuck okay here we go... enthusiasm.
“Alright snakes gather round” he raised his voice to carry over the excited chatter of the room. “First game of the season, we’re going to start strong and stay that way until we walk off the pitch with the Quidditch cup at the end of the season alright? If we lose against those brainiac eagles I promise I will make you all fly laps until you fall off your brooms.” He took a breath and looked around the room at the faces of his team. “I don’t care how you do it but we better win. Now let’s go out there and do what Slytherins do best, win at all costs.” He raised his voice to a cheer as he spoke the end of his speech.
The room erupted in cheers and Nott leaned close to his ear so he could hear when he said “Good first rally Captain, better catch that damn snitch.”
He was just finishing tightening the laces on his gloves when he heard someone start the announcing, signalling it was time for them to head to the pitch.
“Okay snakes, brooms up let’s go!” He yelled, herding them all out and taking his place on the Grass standing directly in front of Cho Chang, the Ravenclaw captain. Madame Hooch did her usual speech about following the rules and such. Don’t know why she wastes her breath, Slytherin never follows the rules. With a malicious smirk he extended his hand for Chang to shake, when she took it he made sure to squeeze just a little tighter than he was supposed to.
They all mounted their brooms to hover fifteen or so feet above the field and the balls were released. He rose up high above the stands, scanning the air for the snitch and leaving the rest of his team to their own devices.
“Remind me again Gin why I have to come to the game, Gryffindor isn’t even playing” she whined to her friend. They were sitting in the Ravenclaw stands with Luna to cheer for Cho with a group of the other 8thyear girls.
It always brought a smile to Hermione’s lips when she thought of Cho because she was automatically thought of how dumb Harry could be sometimes. The dunce had taken the word of Oliver Wood of all people that Cho was a year ahead of the rest of them and never thought to ask her, even when they dated back in fifth year. He’d been so confused when he’d heard she was returning to Hogwarts this year and she’d had a grand time correcting his misunderstanding. He really can be quite clueless sometimes.
“Because,” Ginny interrupted her thoughts “we’re being supportive for our fellow DA members, and you can’t very well go to the after-party if you skip the game now can you?” her friend hadn’t even taken her eyes off the field. “Plus, I’m scouting out the competition.” Ginny could be more intense about quidditch than Harry and Ron combined sometimes, now that she’d been made captain she was even more serious about the sport.
She let her eyes roam over the players flying around the field, looking up she caught sight of Malfoy hovering above the game in the centre of the pitch. She could admit to herself -and only to herself, she would take the thoughts to the grave- that he looked quite fit in his quidditch gear.
“That explains why you’re here” she countered, “what I’m asking is why I’m here. Plus, I don’t think I’m going to go to the after-party.”
“You’re here to keep your favourite Weasley company” the red-head turned to look at her intensely “and you most certainly are going to the party.” Her words had a tone of finality she most definitely learned from Molly Weasley.
“Alright fine I’ll go to the party but I didn’t even bring a book to-” before she could even finish Ginny pulled out her copy of their Charms textbook and handed it to her.
“You really think I didn’t think you would try that as an excuse to leave?” she asked with a sly smile, looking far too pleased with herself. “I’m smarter than you give me credit for ’Mione.” Ginny winked playfully at her before turning back to watch the Game.
“Starting to think George might be my favourite Weasley” she mumbled under her breath, earning a playful elbow in the ribs from her friend. She opened the book with a defeated huff and started reading a chapter on agricultural charms.