Blasted Muggle Contraptions

Chapter 4: The Emotional Baggage of Draco Malfoy

Draco avoided Hermione's eyes and tentatively licked at his Thought Pop. She was looking at him thoughtfully. It was making him uncomfortable. He let the silence sit there like a dead animal in the room until he couldn't stand the tension anymore.

he said, look, I'm not doing this.

She looked completely confused. Doing what? she asked.

This! This! He said insistantly. I'm not going to bond with you and tell you all about death eater's angst or whatever just because we're trapped in a small space! And I'm certainly not going to council you just because your best friends are dolts.

I didn't even say anything! She yelped.

Well, don't! He hissed.

I won't.

Probably want me to talk to my inner child or something, he grumbled.

Inner child?! She asked, laughing.

I've seen Oprah! He yipped, grinning despite himself.

Hermione laughed harder and seemed to fall into a fit of giggles so that she slid to the floor and lay on her side, breathless with laughter. Draco watched her, smirking.

What's so funny? He finally asked.

Hermione flopped onto her back, her hair splayed out in all directions as she stared at the cieling, a goofy grin on her face.

She started to say, still laughing. Draco M-Malfoy... t-talking about... his... inner child!

The thought threw her into another fit and Draco couldn't help chuckling along with her.

Stuff that, Draco said easily. I could talk to my inner child... Draco rolled his eyes to the cieling and appeared meditative. Hello... little Draco. How are you feeling today?

Hermione clutched her chest and shrieked with laughter.

You don't want to be a death eater do you, little Draco? Draco went on. You've just got emotional baggage is all.

Emotional baggage! Hermione squealed.

Draco said seriously. The trunk of sadness... the knapsack of insecurity...

Oh my God, Draco... Hermione said, still giggling.

She calmed down and sat up but her cheeks were still very flushed and she fanned her face with her hands to cool herself.

Draco said innocently.

You're so funny! she said matter of factly.

Draco was taken aback. Did you just compliment me, Granger?

It surprised him because it wasn't an accident and it wasn't even backhanded. It was an actual nice thing that she was saying to him. And he hadn't even done anything to earn it... except not call her names.

she said, as if it were no big deal.

Draco nodded and couldn't think of anything to say to her ready admission. Unknowingly he was sucking on the Thought Pop and soon his mouth was full of caramel smoke which, if swallowed, would require at the very least a healing spell. Draco's eyes widened as he realized that if he let his breath out he risked exposing more of this emotional nonsense to Hermione. Draco kept his mouth shut as his mind quickly ran over what the Thought Pop might reveal...

I don't really want to be a death eater...

I'm exceedingly jealous of an orphan with glasses and lousy hair...

My father sold his soul for five hundred galleons to a carnie from Prague...

The problem with Thought Pop smoke was that it expanded in your mouth to force you into exhaling. Hermione, who'd been careful not to close her mouth around the lollipop, looked up to see Draco's cheeks puffed out, his eyes shifting nervously.

Shouldn't you exhale? She asked.

Draco grimaced and shook his head petulantly. His cheeks puffed out further and Hermione's eyes widened as his complexion turned rather purplish.

Draco, exhale! She shouted.

Draco shook his head, his hair flying about.

She said. You're going to pass out!

Draco slammed his fist on the floor and finally let his breath out in a huff, panting for air and wincing in anticipation at what the Thought Pop smoke would say he was thinking. Suddenly he was tackling Hermione attempting to cover her eyes.

She yelped. She pulled his hand from her eyes as the smoke started to form words.

I don't want you to see it! He insisted.

You're so dramatic, she said as she looked up to see the smoke making a sentence.

It said,

I think you're lovely.

Draco looked horror stricken and the two froze for a moment. Hermione blushed deeply. LOVELY?

He was still almost falling on top of her, she still gripping the hand that had tried to cover her eyes. Draco pulled away.

He gritted his teeth and threw his Thought Pop at the wall in fury.

Those things are defective! He said weakly.

Are they? she said dryly.

Draco stood up and glowered down at the girl.

I do not think you're lovely, he said, sneering the last word.

It certainly doesn't matter to me what you think of me, Hermione said, lying through her teeth.

Draco glared at her. Oh, don't try that little game with me, he said.

Hermione looked the question.

You know exactly what I mean, he went on. Don't do that aloof thing girls do, pretending you don't care what I think and then tricking me into telling you.

Hermione blinked.

Draco said, gesticulating wildly. Because there's nothing to tell. I don't think you're lovely. I don't think anything of you.

Hermione made herself comfortable as she watched Draco make a fool of himself.

And don't do that pouty lip thing you're doing either! Pouty lips won't make me admit anything. Slytherin girls invented pouty lips. I'm immune.

Hermione rose her eyebrow, quite amused as she had not been doing anything particularly pouty with her lips to her knowledge.

Don't deny it, he said emphatically. You're clearly trying to look all pouty and pretty. Well, you're very good, alright? But I'm not going to fall for it.

Hermione couldn't manage to stifle a smile.

And now, he said, you're going to say, oh Draco, you can trust me. Oh Draco, you can tell me anything. I've heard all that before. From Pansy and Blaise, Lavander, Parvati bla bla bla. And then they tell everyone or they don't care in the first place. It's all a game.

Hermione looked momentarily surprised.

Yes, Hermione, Draco said, I've corrupted Gryffindor. On second thought, no, those Gryffindor girls were corrupted when I got there. Fine, so you don't stoop to those patronizing little tricks. You're obviously smarter then that.

Hermione tilted her head in interest. Draco slid down the wall to a sitting position on the floor and continued to rant and grumble.

Try to talk to those idiotic girls about anything other than those hokey Divination classes and you completely lose them. He looked at Hermione seriously. Can you imagine me trying to explain to Pansy that no, I don't particularly want to become a death eater, that I've seen death and it's not particularly fun? Do you think she understands that? And it's not just the death thing, it's just that I hate, hate the idea of having no choice in my future, you know?

Hermione looked taken aback and intensley interested. But Draco still seemed completely oblivious to what he was confessing.

Maybe there actually is something else out there, he said, beginning to sound almost hoarse. Not love. I am not lonely, Gr-Hermione, even though you may be. I don't need people, alright? I certainly don't need you of all people. End of story. So you can look as pretty as you want and attempt to outsmart me, but I don't necesssarily think you're lovely and I'm not admitting to anything.

Draco finally stopped talking and sat back though his expression revealed a vague awareness that he had just confessed everything and that she had somehow gotten the best of him without a word.

Hermione analyzed the situation. Of couse, she was dying to torture him because he had not only just admitted that she was pretty, had apparently pouty lips, and was intelligent but that he didn't want to be a death eater after all. Not only that, she thought, but he didn't have anyone who he could talk to about it. But before she could think of what to say next Draco spoke again.

This is all your fault, he sighed.

My fault? She asked.

Yes, because we're trapped in here and you're sucking up the oxygen and now I'm light headed. And the sugar's gone to my brain. Or I wouldn't have said anything.

Draco slid all the way down to the floor and lay on his back, staring at the cieling. His socked feet were resting against her legs.

said Hermione, you don't want to be a death eater?
Draco sighed again and deciding it was no pointless to deny it all, said, Not so much.

Since when?

Draco thought for a moment. Since last year, I suppose. Once father started taking me to meetings. I always thought it'd be fun. Just a bunch of wand dueling and hanging out with warrior types drinking butter beer and seeing people shiver when the dark mark appears in the sky-

Hermione yelped.

Well, anyway, Draco said indignantly, it didn't quite work out that way. You have no idea how much beaurocracy is involved in the dark arts. It's just as bad as the ministry. Committees to form committees to have more meetings...

The only reason you don't want to be a death eater is because it's boring, she asked incredulously.

At first, he said. But then I developed an annoying habit called abstract thought. And that hasn't gone over so well.

You mean you started thinking for yourself? she said.

I guess. And never question death eaters about their beliefs, he whispered.

Hermione leaned over peering down at him with concern.
What did they do to you? She whispered back.

he said simply, and a few other things that-

She gasped.

And anyway, he said quickly, like I said, I want to decide for myself what I-

Forget that! She said shrilly.

Draco sat up and looked at her, their faces just inches apart. Her eyes were full of sympathy.

Don't look at me like that, he said disgustedly. All concerned and... squishy.

I didn't know, he breathed. She looked like she was on the edge of tears.

It hasn't happened for a while, he explained. Mostly I'm just an annoyance now. But father still labors under the delusion that I'll follow in his footsteps. I expect he'll try the imperio sooner or later.

Hermione gasped slightly and he suddenly felt her hand on his knee.

Getting personal, are we? Draco asked wryly.

Hermione took her hand away and blushed but Draco could see that she was still gravely concerned. Draco, who certainly not used to this sort of empathy felt the need to abate it.

It's alright, Granger, he insisted. It's not as if I have lightening bolt shaped scars across my back.

Hermione gave him a look but her voice belied it. So what are you going to do? she asked.

About what?

About getting away from your father! She yipped. What's your plan to escape from becoming a death eater?

Draco shrugged. I don't have a plan, he said. It's hopeless. It's inevitable.

Hermione gripped his previously shrugging shoulders in her hands. She cried. Inevitable? What's the matter with you? What happened to deciding your future? What happened to the existentialist struggle?

Draco took in her wide eyes and the rosy color of her cheeks. She was really worked up. It was quite sexy. And it was all over him.

What am I supposed to do? He said. Take on the Dark Lord and a bunch of death eaters with what? My sparkling dinner conversation?

Why don't you fight?! This is your life, you twit! She shouted. Do something!

he said, and leaned in and kissed her.

A/N Chatty, ain't I? Dialogue is everything! Woohoo! R/R.