Author: Meltha PM
Sixteenth chapter finally added! At long last, Draco and Hermione give Lavender and Parvati a taste of their own medicine.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Romance - Draco M. & Hermione G. - Chapters: 17 - Words: 51,142 - Reviews: 60 - Favs: 41 - Follows: 62 - Updated: 03-28-12 - Published: 03-24-08 - id: 4152752
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rating: PG at this point, but likely to rise
Feedback: Yes, thank you.
Spoilers: Currently, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Again, this will rise.
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and . If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: The first day of flying lessons leads to a whole series of complications.
Author note: Some dialog take from chapter 9 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Disclaimer: All characters are created by J. K. Rowling, a wonderful writer whose works I greatly enjoy. I have borrowed them for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
Chapter 17: Flying and Failing
In looking back years later, those few short days seemed golden. Practically everything was going his way. His parents were pleased with him, his classes were generally more interesting than he'd thought possible, his roommates were perfectly acceptable despite their shortcomings, and even if Slytherin's dungeon was cold and damp, it was beginning to feel like home.
But best of all, he had a friend, someone actually equal to his intelligence, a Pure-blood who enjoyed a devious trick on her enemies with exactly the same level of relish that he did.
He never saw the train coming.
Just when things seemed like they couldn't possibly get any better, Madame Hooch's flying lessons were posted. While his own broom was still banned from Hogwarts since he was a first year, he could hardly wait to get back into the sky again, even if it was on an inferior quality model. He was surprised to find, though, that Hermione was decidedly nervous.
"You've never flown before?" he asked in surprise as they walked towards the Great Hall for breakfast the morning of their first flying lesson.
"No," she said, looking nervous, "and I really, really don't like heights."
So that was it, he thought. Well, that was understandable. While his father never would have stood for Draco refusing to get on a broom out of fear, a sure sign of weakness, he knew Hermione was no coward. Everyone had their own personal phobias, he suspected, possibly even his father. While Draco would never outright call it fear, he had noticed his father strongly disliked rats. He chucked Hermione on the shoulder gamely and gave her an encouraging smile.
"Don't worry about it," he said. "You'll do fine."
She gave him an uncertain smile in return that actually looked rather sick as she headed to the Gryffindor table (where he noted she was still eating alone), and he felt his brow furrow. She really did look worried. He'd never heard of a witch who couldn't master a broom, but he knew how he'd feel if there was a skill he wasn't sure he could do that he'd be asked to perform for the first time in front of the whole year. Maybe it was possible he could deflect attention off of her somehow.
No sooner had he started running through different plots to act as a distraction than one presented itself. Neville Longbottom was sitting several empty seats down from Hermione, the remains of a package in front of him, and staring at a Rememberall. Draco's eyes lit with malicious glee. A Rememberall was probably the stupidest gadget in the wizarding world. It didn't tell you what you'd forgotten, only that you had, so it was good only for making the person using it feel like a right idiot.
It was also nearly the same size as a Snitch.
The day passed slowly to Draco, as days when he was looking forward to something usually did, but when he finally went out to the Quidditch pitch with the rest of the first years, the wait was worth it. While the brooms arrayed on the ground were hand-me-downs and obviously unfashionable, they were still brooms. Normally he wouldn't have insulted his posterior with sitting on their ilk, but today they were tickets straight to the clouds, and that was all he cared about.
The four houses automatically separated into two sides with Ravenclaw and Slytherin taking one row of brooms and Hufflepuff and Gryffindor the row across from them. This worked perfectly for Draco as he could keep a discreet eye on Hermione, who was standing directly in front of him. Goyle and Crabbe were on either side of him, and he was vaguely aware of Potter, Weasley, Patil, and Brown around Hermione. Thankfully Lavender and Parvati didn't seem to be paying any attention to her. Hermione's face was puckered with worry as she stared at the broom's handle. He hoped she might look up at him for a moment so he could give her a reassuring nod, but it was like the ash handle had hypnotized her. He did not have a good feeling about this.
He paid almost no attention to the instructions from Madam Hooch until she finally told them to mount their broomsticks. Draco could hardly wait, and when the word "Up!" came out of his mouth, the broom shot to his hand as though it too had been impatiently waiting to take off. Draco glanced up and down the two rows to see who had managed to get it on the first try and was annoyed to see Potter had done it (though secretly he wondered if he had just stooped down and picked it up when everyone else had been busy looking at other things). Most people had gotten it after a few moments, but Hermione's broom still lay in the dirt, rolling a little from side to side and twitching half-heartedly. Her face was bright red from exertion, and she was chewing her lip to bloody bits.
Okay, he thought, time for plan B. He was just about to use a summoning charm on the Remberall and send it ricocheting around the field when Longbottom very kindly turned himself into the biggest, most ridiculous distraction all on his own. Neville's broom had rocketed off with him in tow, zigzagging from one end of the field to the other, looping towers, nearly impaling him on tree branches, and generally trying to kill him. It was actually a little alarming, but at least no one was looking at Hermione, so Longbottom had done one thing right, even if it was on accident.
The show ended with Neville's near demise, and Hooch dragged him off to the hospital wing with a broken wrist. About a third of their year was openly shaking after the terrifying one boy aerial ballet, but most people were starting to laugh at his total failure, and Draco was sure it would take years for Longbottom to live this down. Granted, he didn't care about him, but the school obviously wasn't using easy brooms on the first years if it was even possible for that accident to happen. That meant Hermione could easily be next, and that wouldn't do.
Then he saw it lying on the ground, a gift from Merlin: the Remberall had fallen from Longbottom's pocket. It was the perfect tool to get them all out of practice for the rest of class, slap some of the Gryffindors with lost House points, and let Draco show off his skills at the same time. Later, he'd find a way for Hermione to be suitably tutored in private, even if he had to do it himself.
"Did you see his face, the great lump?" he said, laughing heartily.
"Shut up, Malfoy," said Parvati-or was it Padma? He couldn't see her scarf at the moment and the two were bloody impossible to tell apart without color coding their wardrobes.
"Oo, sticking up for Longbottom? Never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati," Pansy chimed in, and Draco couldn't tell if he was more surprised that she knew which twin was which or that he was getting added support from an unlooked for ally.
"Look!" he said, making his move and snatching the Rememberall from its resting place on the grass, then tossing it in the air in triumph.
"Give that here, Malfoy," Potter said, and yes, that was precisely what he'd been hoping for. He grinned that his plan was going exactly as he'd hoped.
"I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find—how about—up a tree!" he said as he took off on the school broom, enjoying the immediate rush of freedom regardless of the simply dreadful steering it had. Potter was yelping something, and yes, exactly as he'd thought, the fool was going to try to follow him on his broom. Potter was going to make a laughingstock of himself.
"Come and get it, Potter!" he called gleefully and took off.
He faintly heard Hermione's voice yelling something towards him about Madam Hooch and getting into trouble, which was a fair point, but he found that he didn't much care. This was far too much fun. He turned about to see Potter's pathetic attempt at flying, already beaming wildly.
Unfortunately, that wasn't quite how it turned out. Potter, it seemed, was a natural. With a groan, he realized the other boy was racing towards him with surprising speed and coming to a perfect stop without even having to try.
"Give it here or I'll knock you off that broom!" he yelled.
Frankly, Draco was rather stunned. They were at least thirty-five feet up, so Potter was actually threatening him with serious harm, maybe even death, over a stupid Rememberall. Draco was furious.
"Oh yeah?" he retorted, but he couldn't keep a little shaking from his voice considering this kid had just threatened to kill him.
Unbelievably, Potter followed through exactly on his words, shooting the broom at Draco at top speed. Draco was honestly terrified. The other boy had never been on a broom before and probably had no idea how hard it was to stop or even turn at that speed even on a good model. Draco dodged, but barely. It was far too close for comfort.
"No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy," Potter said through a sneer, and suddenly Draco realized he might actually be dealing with a homicidal maniac.
"Catch it if you can, then!" Draco yelled as he did the only sensible thing and threw the damn ball as far away as he could, hoping Potter would chase it rather than him, which thankfully he did.
By the time Draco was back on the ground, Harry had already caught the Rememberall. It had been a spectacular catch, and all of Gryffindor, accompanied by Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, were applauding Mr. Scarhead wildly. Slytherin was looking daggers at them all, but Draco didn't want to land in front of them. Carefully, he brought his broom to a soft landing on the turf just behind them and stepped off. He noticed his hands were shaking. This felt uncomfortably like failure.
At that exact moment, McGonagall came and dragged Potter away, dismissing the class. Well, at least that aim had been achieved. The students broke into scattered groups as the brooms whizzed through the air on their own back to the broom shed. People were wandering back into the castle, most complaining about not being able to fly that day and obviously blaming him for it all, but no one seemed to mind having a free hour. Eventually, he was the only one left on the castle lawn.
The feeling of being sick came on him all at once. He just had time to lurch behind a shrub before his lunch came back up and he dropped to his knees. At least, he thought to himself as he tried to fight off the feeling of sick fear, no one was here to him like this.
"Oh, Drake, are you all right?"
Check that, he thought. This was now officially the worst day on record. Without a word or even turning around, he motioned for her to move away, but she ignored him.
"That was really deeply stupid," she said.
"Yeah, I figured that out on my own," he said, sitting on a large rock beside the bush and hoping he didn't have another round of nausea.
"I mean, you shouldn't have picked on Neville that way since he's actually probably the only decent boy in Gryffindor, but that Potter is a stark raving lunatic!" she said. "I think he was trying to kill you!"
He blinked. She agreed with him. Well, she was the only other one who seemed to see it that way.
"At least I got the class cancelled," he said, giving her a shaky smile. "You'll have a bit more time to brush up on flying before next week."
She stared at him in silence for a second before she said, "That's why you did it?"
"You're not the only one capable of coming up with mayhem you know," he said. "Look, I've got it all figured out. We'll find a way to cadge a couple of brooms, and when there's a free period, we'll go up on the Astronomy Tower and I'll walk you through it. No one uses that place during daylight anyway."
Hermione's mouth seemed to working as though she were looking for words but failing to find them. Eventually she just let her mouth hang open in dead on shock.
"What?" Draco said.
"That's possibly the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me," she said.
"Eh, consider it an early birthday present," he said, getting to his feet. "With any luck, McGonagall will give us an even better one and chuck that maniac out of here."
"Maybe," Hermione said, but she sounded less than optomistic.
"I think I'll head back to the common room for a bit," Malfoy said, not mentioning that he wanted to change his robes before anyone realized there was sick on them. "See you at dinner."
"Mmm," Hermione said, obviously thinking of something else entirely and staring at a nearby tree as though it held the secrets to the universe. "Maybe so."
But no sooner had Draco stepped into the Great Hall for dinner that night than he knew something had gone dreadfully wrong. Yes, the Gryffindors were indeed clustered together and talking all at one time, but their mood seemed happy. That simply wasn't possible, Draco thought, unless of course Potter had been offering to murder them in their beds as well, and he couldn't rule out that possibility. His curiosity finally got the better of him, and he approached enemy territory, sidling toward their table with what he hoped was a believable swagger.
"Having a last meal, Potter? When are you getting a train back to the Muggles?" he said, sounded more confident than he felt.
"You're a lot braver now that you're back on the ground and you've got your little friends with you," he responded.
Draco hadn't even realized Crabbe and Goyle were shadowing him, and it took all his control not to visibly start when they stepped into view on either side of him. Actually, that could be a very useful skill.
"I'll take you on anytime on my own," Draco said, narrowing his eyes. No one called a Malfoy a coward, and his sense of family honor was what prompted him to add what happened next. "Tonight if you want. Wizard's duel. Wands only—no contact. What's the matter? Never heard of a wizard's duel before, I suppose?"
Actually, he really hoped Potter had no idea what a wizard's duel was because his mouth had run away from him before it had time to talk to his brain. While he doubted Potter knew the Killing Curse, he wouldn't put it past him.
"Of course he has. I'm his second, who's yours?" the slouchy Weasley said indignantly.
Well, that was that. He was probably going to die. He glanced between Crabbe and Goyle, hoping one of them might volunteer, but neither seemed to know exactly what was going on.
"Crabbe," Malfoy said, deciding alphabetical order was as good a way to choose as anything else. "Midnight, all right? We'll meet you in the trophy room; that's always unlocked."
With that, he turned to walk away, barely catching a look of sheer terror from Hermione, who had obviously heard everything, as he left with Crabbe and Goyle following in his wake. What could possibly go wrong with this scenario, he thought with rising panic. Actually, was there any way this could possibly go right?
Draco sat down to dinner, a ham with mint jelly, and ate absolutely nothing. Crabbe and Goyle more than made up for it as the House-elves had to replenish the entire ham twice with them leading the way. The mood at the Slytherin table seemed decidedly somber aside from the pair of them clearing their way through piles of pork.
"What? Who died?" Draco finally said, unable to take the silence anymore.
"McGonagall just gave Potter the Seeker spot on the Gryffindor team," Blaise said, looking at him accusingly. "Apparently she never would have realized he's a world class flyer unless you'd been taunting him earlier."
Marcus Flint cracked his knuckles menacingly. Draco gulped.
"He's not expelled?" Draco asked.
"Not in the slightest," Daphne said.
Even Pansy looked like she was disgusted with him. Wonderful, all he needed was his mother getting a letter from his betrothed saying she refused to marry him because he'd done something to besmirch the Slytherin Quidditch team.
"But first years aren't allowed," Draco said, grasping at straws. If they were, he'd be on the Slytherin team himself.
"Special permission from the Headmaster," Nott said.
Draco fought back the urge to rub his hands over his face in frustration. A Malfoy did not show stress in public.
"Probably fall flat on his face at the first opportunity," he said, hoping he was right.
He glanced over his shoulder at the Gryffindor table once again. They were laughing and staring at the Slytherins, and they couldn't appear any jollier if it were Christmas.
"All part of the plan," he lied, trying desperately to find some way to construct a plan out of the charred remains of his mistake. "You'll see."
"Yeah," Crabbe said helpfully. "The plan."
Goyle nodded in agreement. If nothing else, they seemed convincing, which made the table seem a tiny bit less frosty. Of course, they had no idea what they were talking about, but their show of faith in him was encouraging.
Still, even if he pulled off this duel tonight without getting killed or even maimed, there was another problem he hadn't thought about. Chances were extremely high that Filch or one of the other professors would catch them out of bed, and both houses would get points taken away, or more likely with his current luck, Gryffindor would escape unscathed while Slytherin would be hit with some ridiculous number deducted. No one would ever speak to him again. He certainly wouldn't if he were in their shoes. There had to be some way to turn this to his advantage, but what?
With a sinking heart, he trudged back to the dormitory and tried to think of a plan. He was completely alone, and the chill from the walls seemed to creep into his bones and make him even more miserable. Just as he was about to give up all hope, a loud tapping echoed through the room. An owl was pecking urgently at the windowpane. Draco let it in, and immediately it deposited a note on the bed and flew out the window without waiting for a reply.
What were you thinking! That was seriously one of the stupidest things I have ever seen anyone do.
"Wow, Hermione, thank you so much for stating the obvious," he mumbled.
But I do owe you a favor, and besides, I wouldn't trust Harry Potter or that Ronald Weasley as far as I could throw them without magic. I actually tried to appeal to their Gryffindor pride, telling them that they were going to get in trouble and the whole House would suffer for it, but they're being selfish as usual.
Draco winced when he was reminded that he had completely ignored his House's best interests as well, but at least he had company in that. On the other hand, look at what company it was.
I think I have a plan, but it's completely daft, so I'm not going to say what it is, and no, you can't talk me out of it.
"Oh, that's encouraging," he said, banging his head against the ornate headboard in frustration.
Just trust me.
Those three words brought him up short. He was reminded of the mantelpiece in the common room, and it seemed as though Slytherin House was telling him that he was an idiot if he was actually going to blindly trust her to get him out of this predicament. After all, if he thought about it, the only reason he'd gotten into all this to begin with was he'd tried to help her, and if he'd only let her fend for herself, he wouldn't have needed to challenge Potter to a duel to being with. His father, he was sure, would immediately say that the blame belonged on someone other than a Malfoy. Trust was for fools.
"Well then," he said, folding up the note and sticking it in his pocket, "I suppose I'll have to be a fool since I don't see any other way out."
As midnight slowly approached, Draco tried to prepare for a duel. Granted, it would have been easier to do that if he had the slightest idea what a duel entailed. He knew that his father had taken part in one when he was in his twenties at the Dark Lord's request. Apparently things had gotten rather dull during a banquet and this had been his idea of entertainment. Draco could only assume his father had won since he was obviously still alive, but he'd never found out how he'd managed it. Maybe he could levitate a feather at Potter and tickle him until he cried for mercy?
"Ready?" Crabbe asked as he got heavily to his feet. He'd been having a kip on the common room sofa, and his hair was every which way. What a fearsome pair they were going to look.
"I guess so," Draco said, and to his alarm his voice cracked. He grimaced with determination, threw a cloak on over his school robes for the sole purpose of looking slightly more intimidating, and said. "All right. Let's go."
No one else was up this late on a school night, so Draco and Crabbe made it out the door and down the dungeon corridor without incident. The trophy room was up three more flights of stares, and since they couldn't risk a light without bringing the wrath of Filch down on their heads, they were stumbling along as quietly as possible. They got turned around at least four times, at one point winding up in front of a painting of a bowl of fruit that included a pear that was giggling in a most unnerving manner.
"Weird," Crabbe said, and Draco nodded in agreement.
Somewhere, a clock began to chime twelve just as Draco and Crabbe rounded the corner that led to the trophy room entrance. He heard voices, more than just Ron's and Harry's, echoing towards him, and he thought one of them might be Hermione's.
"Get down and be quiet," Malfoy whispered to Crabbe, and they both slunk low towards the floor so that the base of the trophy cases would completely obscure them from view.
Draco waited, listening to the three of them along with Neville arguing about what they should do and whether he would even show up. Carefully, he poked his head around the corner. Hermione was standing opposite him, the only one who could possibly see him. Almost immediately, he saw a start of recognition and surprise on her face, even annoyance, and she moved her hand, flicking it quickly to the right in a gesture that clearly meant he should leave straight away.
Draco ducked his head back behind the case then motioned for Crabbe to follow him. Barely a moment later, he heard Filch's suddenly dulcet tones coming from the other corridor that the Gryffindors must have used to get to the trophy room, and yes, he was hot on their trail. It was sheer perfection, hearing Weasley and Potter pelting down the hallway at top speed, obviously terrified that Filch was going to give all of them detention, and the old caretaker right on their heels. Then it suddenly struck Draco that something must have gone dreadfully wrong with Hermione's plan. He was sure she hadn't intended to get caught with them, but he didn't see any way she could avoid it, and worse, he couldn't think of a way out of it for her.
"Let's get out of here," Draco said. "The duel's off, and I don't want Filch getting us after them."
Crabbe nodded, looking not the least bit ruffled by the whole experience. They made their way back to the dormitory without any further incident, and Crabbe immediately lay down and was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. Draco, however, was too confused to sleep. He couldn't understand what had gone wrong. Obviously, this hadn't been Hermione's plan. He pulled the note back out of his pocket and read it again, only to feel like an utter prat when he realized he'd been so put out about her insistence on trusting her that he hadn't noticed his thumb had been covering the rest of the line.
He smacked his head with his palm, wondering how he could have made such a stupid mistake. So he was what had gone wrong with the plan.
The next morning, the sunlight broke through the false window with an unwarranted warmth for a September morning, and no sooner had the oranges and reds of dawn of dawn faded from the sky than an owl fluttered through the window without the preamble of knocking. It landed directly at the foot of Draco's bed and proceeded to peck at his toes through the blankets until he was most definitely awake.
"I bet I know who that's from," he said, frowning.
Sure enough, he opened the scroll to see Hermione's handwriting once again.
We didn't get caught.
"Thank Circe for small favors," Draco said, then bit his tongue as Blaise rolled over in his sleep. He had to get out of this habit.
I don't understand why you were there, but the plan I had went badly anyway. I'd tipped off a Hufflepuff boy, Anthony Goldstein, that Potter and Weasley were going to be out of bed after hours. He seemed much too happy to get them in trouble, but I did give them another warning on top of everything else, so they had more than their fair share of chances to turn around. He sent an owl to Filch a few minutes before midnight that if he wanted to catch students out of bed, all he needed to do was check the trophy room.
It was perfectly simple and perfectly obvious, even rather deliciously devious, but the hole in it was she was sacrificing her own house points to do it. Well, nothing was perfect outside of a Malfoy. Still, there was something he didn't quite understand…
I wasn't supposed to be there at all. The common room guard left her post and I couldn't get back in, so unless I wanted to hang about alone at night in the corridors with the Bloody Baron drifting about, I had to go with them.
Draco nodded. So that was what went wrong.
Poor Neville forgot the password and was camping out in the hallway as it was, so he ended up coming along.
Draco tried to stifle a laugh at the image of the kid stuck out in the middle of night in the hallway, but even so he still snorted loudly enough that Zabini shifted again.
I do wish you'd been able to trust me though.
That stopped him cold. Somehow her handwriting even managed to look disappointed. It had been an honest mistake, but she had no way of knowing that. On top of everything, it was her birthday today. He considered scribbling a hasty note back, but the owl had already flown off in a huff and besides she wouldn't have any time to read it before classes. He felt uncomfortable, and if he'd had more experience with the emotion, he would have recognized it as guilt, but as it was he thought he might just be hungry. He made a resolution to find a way to talk to her later in the day, but for now he'd have to suffer through History of Magic again. On the other hand, it was such a dull class that he'd have plenty of time to plot out a proper, well, not actually an apology, but something to cheer her up. The chocolate from France was in the trunk at the end of his bed, but he had another idea. If he could just nab one of the House-elves, he might be able to pull this off.