Chapter 5 : Furze

"Good morning, Professor." the class chorused as the pudgy man walked in.

"Morning, morning." said Slughorn, setting down his things on his desk. His eyes roamed around the room once, pausing a few times on certain people. "Is this all of you, then?"

"Yes, sir." said Ernie, smiling at the professor. The Hufflepuff was probably expecting to be invited at the next Slug Club meeting.

"How many of you are there?"

"Twelve, sir." Ernie said.

It was true, the amount of students was rather dismal. The rest of the seventh years weren't at all interested in continuing studying Potions, Neville most of all, saying that he wasn't going to waste any more time doing something he was rubbish at.

"Alright, pair up, all of you." said Slughorn, but before they started moving to their preferred partners, he took out the class list. "Bones with Corner, Finch-Fletchley and Goldstein, Granger and Malfoy, Macmillan and Nott, Patil and Patil, Thomas and Turpin."

Hermione felt as if all the blood had run out of her face. She turned to Parvati, her eyes wide and worried.

"Don't worry, Mione, you'll be fine." said the girl. "Just tell us if he's done anything bad, alright?"

Speechless, Hermione nodded as Parvati left to occupy the empty seat next to her twin. Before she knew it, the ferrety blonde had dropped his bag to the floor and was sitting next to her.

"We meet again, Granger." he drawled, his mouth twisting into a smirk.

Hermione ignored him, sat straight and focused her gaze on the chalkboard. Slughorn was writing down the ingredients for Amortentia, which was odd, since they had learned it in sixth year.

"I always start the year with a refresher course." he explained. "You will be drawing lots to create either of the three potions on the board. Two groups will be brewing Amortentia, the other, Veritaserum, and the other Essence of Dittany. You have the rest of the class to successfully brew your assigned potion. Now, please pick a representative to draw your lot."

Hermione stood immediately, beating Malfoy to it. She prayed to all the deities she knew that she wouldn't get Amortentia. The last thing she needed was to be brewing a love potion with Draco Malfoy.

Apparently all the gods in existence hated her guts. She crumpled the piece of parchment in her hand before heading back to their workspace.

"So, what is it?" Malfoy asked, glancing at her balled up fist.

"Amortentia." she said, through grit teeth.

Malfoy smirked, as if he had expected it. "I'll get the supplies, then."

"No, I can do it." she said, hastily getting up again.

"Sit, Granger, you did drew the potion. Just set the fire while I'm gone."

She was left with no choice but to follow. Hermione grumpily tended to the flames, making sure they were just the right height and didn't heat to a blue flame. The cauldron hung above the fire at precisely seven inches.

"Here, you can crush the Ashwinder egg." said Malfoy once he got back. Hermione glared at him.

"You can't order me around." she snapped.

"Fine, I'll do it, then." he said, rolling his eyes and reaching for a mortar and pestle.

"No, give it here." she said quickly, grabbing the silver egg from his hand. "You can shave the rose thorns."

He smirked again, moving to pick up a carving knife. Hermione was beginning to really hate that bloody smirk.

She placed the fine granules that remained of the egg into the cauldron, stirring clockwise six times until the shell had dissolved into a silver liquid.

"Are you done with the —"

Before she could finish her sentence, Malfoy dropped his rose thorns into the solution, making the conception turn a soft pink.

"Did you —"

"Put in exactly thirty-six thorns from a long stemmed rose, yes, now stir." Malfoy said.

She huffed indignantly, but did as he said, stirring three more times. They waited five minutes until the liquid simmered, then poured in 100 ml of peppermint oil.

Hermione then tried crushing the moonstone, trying to divide the rock so it weighed exactly fifty grams. No matter how hard she hit the gem with a hammer, it wouldn't crack at all.

"Give it here, Granger." Malfoy said, extending an open palm. She stared at him doubtfully.

"Just hand me the bloody rock."

She watched him smh the rock into several pieces with the back side of their chopping bored. He looked at her triumphantly, showing her the rocks. Hermione huffed and went back to minding the potion.

After the moonstone was added, the potion developed a slightly silky shine, the first indication that they were close to finishing it.

They let the potion set until it came to a boil. In the span of time that they waited, she focused all her attention in reading the Potions textbook, although she had already read through it. He wasn't trying to talk to her anymore, which was sort of a relief. She had no idea why on earth he would be talking to her, but some part of her brain was screaming at her to run and hide.

"Hey, Granger, it's time." Malfoy said, bringing her out of her thoughts.

She scrambled to stand, and added the final ingredient. The pearl dust fell from her palm easily, dissolving as soon as it touched the boiling mixture.

Almost immediately, the liquid inside the cauldron developed the correct mother of pearl sheen, shining at them prettily. Malfoy raised a hand to call Slughorn over to check their work.

The professor made his way to their workstation quickly, excited to see that someone had already finished.

"Amortentia, then? Yes, yes, it looks like it's perfect." Slughorn chortled happily, "Now, what do you two smell?"

Slughorn was looking at her expectantly. After a moment of hesitation, Hermione took an uneasy sniff of the potion, expecting to smell grass and toothpaste and whatever. The scents that entered her nose, however, were completely different than those of two years ago.

"Old books …. the smell of grass right after it's started raining … and lemons?" her brow furrowed in confusion, none of those things brought anyone to mind.

Slughorn then turned to Malfoy, who was looking at her in amusement.

"I can smell … lavender … firewood smoke … and parchment." Malfoy was smirking again. She really, really wanted to wipe it off his face.

"Very good, very good." said Slughorn. "Top marks for a perfect Amortentia!"

"So, Granger," Malfoy said, wearing a sly grin, as soon as the professor moved to another table, "Lemons? Got a wizard up you sleeve the Daily Prophet doesn't know about?"

"It's none of you business who it is." she said, turning away. She honestly had no idea what those scents were either.

"Well, I know exactly who mine is." he said, sitting back on his stool. "Would you like to know?"

"I really couldn't care less, Malfoy." she said.

"You'll find out soon enough, anyways." he said, which she found odd.

"Like I said, Malfoy, I don't really care."

She convinced herself that she had imagined him muttering "For now." under his breath.

It took her a week before she could return to the Astronomy Tower. Once the lingering stares and echoes finally got to her, Hermione found herself racing up the steps of the tower, not even caring whether Malfoy was there or not.

She felt as if her world was getting smaller and smaller, and the smaller it got, the less she could breathe.

She cursed herself as she ran, angry that she was having another panic attack. As she entered the tower, Hermione fell to her knees, gasping for breath. The blood pounded in her ears like a bass guitar at a rock show, her heart was the drum set, pounding away, her hands were the cymbals, shaking as if they had been hit.

Hermione balled her hands into fists as hard as she could until she could feel the sharp pains up her hand caused by her fingernails digging into skin. She bit her lip hard to keep her from screaming, she didn't really know when her mouth started to taste like blood.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" she hissed over and over again, trying to force herself to calm down.

In her anguish, she did not hear the foot steps approach her.

He crouched down next to her, laying a hand on her back in support. He remained quiet, making Hermione even more tense.

"What do you want?" she hissed in between gasps. She hated the world for choosing the worst people in the fucking universe to see her attacks.

"Stop being so angry." he said softly.

"Don't … tell me … what to do!" she cried.

"Do you want a potion?" he asked.

She shook her head, making her hair whip around her. "Go away."

He copied her, shaking his own head.

He stayed there for who knows how long, crouched on the floor next to her as she tried to pull herself together.

When she finally caught her breath and settled her aching heart, she wiped the tears out of her eyes weakly and stood, brushing off the hand that was still supporting her.

"What do you want, Malfoy?" she said, her voice hoarse and tired.

"I don't know." he said, looking at her blankly.

"Figure it out then." she said. "Stop bothering me until you do."

She turned to leave, the tension in the room was growing too heavy for her.

"Wait." he said, grabbing her by the wrist.

Hermione faced him, wrenching her arm from his grasp. "What?' she asked, exasperatedly.

"I'm sorry." he said, not exactly looking at her.

"For what, Malfoy? You have a a shit ton of things to be apologizing for." she snapped.

"Everything." he said. "I'm sorry for everything. For bullying you and calling you that word, for helping the Dark Lord, for being a Death Eater, for what Bella —"

"Stop." she said coldy, glaring at him with an intensity someone who had just had a panic attack shouldn't have had. "You cant just say you're sorry and expect things to be fine. You can't apologize for what she did to me, for what you did to us."

"I know." Malfoy said, looking down at his feet. "I don't expect everything to be fine. I just wanted to say it. I had to."

"Well, you said it." she snapped. "Good for you."

"Look, Granger —"

"No, you look, Malfoy." she snarled. "I'm done. I'm tired. I'm so bloody sick of dealing with the shit this world wants me to deal with. I just want to graduate so I can get away from all this. I don't fucking care anymore. I just want it all to disappear. So, if you could just kindly do that and leave me alone, I'd gladly appreciate it."

She shrugged her school bag over her shoulder, stomping say angrily, leaving a speechless Draco Malfoy in her wake.

a/n: have you guys ever felt the way Hermione does bc tbh that me 24/7 lmao