Summary: When Hogwarts announces their need for a new Potions professor, Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger are deemed best for the job. Each is desperate to have the job, for different reasons, and since there's only room for one of them… chaos inevitably erupts. DM/HG with hints of RW/PP.
Sanctuary in Potions
Chapter Six: That Inevitable Conflict between Them, aka Like You Didn't See This Coming
"Page forty-four," Draco drawled lazily. He crossed his arms and smirked at the sudden noise of books being opened in haste. It was a wonderful sound, really, full of suppressed fear of him and what he could do to a student who'd be late in doing what he'd asked. "On top of that page is a picture of a salamander. By the end of this period, I want each of you to hand in three feet of parchment containing an essay about the creature. Any questions?"
As usual, no one dared challenge his authority on the matter. No one was raising his or her hand.
Her hand waving gaily in the air, Charlotte Weasley bit her lip as she all but stood in her desire to be noticed.
Draco made it a point to walk around the area, casually checking the trees, tapping the cages, and ignoring the student in the process. "No? No questions at all?" he said in sotto voice.
"Mr. Malfoy, please Mr. Malfoy—"
He fought the urge to curse. It was just his dumb, rotten, ill-willed luck that he had a student of this type. As if having Granger as a colleague wasn't bad enough, he'd have to have a student exactly like her, too!
For all he knew, this was Weasley's cunning plan all along. A revenge tactic of some sort. He might have foreseen Draco applying for this job in the far future, so he snagged the nearest female, married, procreated - and eleven years later this little she-weasel was born and ready to torment him. Damn you Weasley!
He sighed, like a martyr resigned to his treacherous fate. Well. Since this was, unfortunately, his case, he only had one pleasurable thing to do.
Torture beyond belief.
He fought the urge to snicker and said in a superior tone, "Well then. Since no one has any questions—"
"Sir, please." Standing on unsteady legs, the blasted Hufflepuff looked up at him with huge eyes. She pointed at the picture in her book. "There is only one paragraph about salamanders on the entire page, and try as we might we cannot come up with three feet of—"
"Bet you can't," Longbottom said, leaning back on his chair. His goons – Crabbe Jr. and Goyle Jr. – snickered on cue. "I certainly can."
Weasley just glared at him, before continuing with, "Mr. Malfoy, please, if only you can—"
"Five points from Hufflepuff for your disrespect, Miss Weasley," Draco said. With relish.
Longbottom looked pleased.
Weasley looked about ready to cry, and that brightened Draco's mood considerably. But that wasn't obvious as he drawled in his most displeased tone, "Now sit down and get started… unless you have any other questions?" When she shook her head, the corners of his mouth lifted and he walked away.
So this was the reason Snape was such a bastard to any non-Slytherin people. It gave him extreme bouts of pleasure and power – imagine, inflicting pain and damage to people with nary a wand or weapon in sight! Ah, the power of words, Draco thought, catching the quivering of Weasley's quill as she attempted to start on her essay. Mightier than the sword indeed.
It was a promising start. Draco believed the students should be the ones doing the work, with him as the knowledgeable teacher telling them what to do. No questions, no discussions, no problems. So far, none of his students were complaining – then again, what right did they have to do so? They were only students. He was the teacher.
Just then, the scrunching of leaves caught his attention, and he looked up – only to have his mood darkened considerably.
Granger was determinedly walking towards him, sporting a bag that undoubtedly contained hundreds of feet of collected parchments that was probably heavier than her. "Mal—I mean, Professor Malfoy," she said, slightly out of breath as she labored through the last steps. "I—"
"Hello Ms. Granger!" said Weasley.
"Suck up," Longbottom muttered in a not-so-low voice.
"Shut up!" Weasley returned.
"Hello, Lot. Hello children," Granger greeted, before turning to him, her face losing all traces of courtesy and politeness. "We have to talk," she said in that high-and-mighty tone of hers he had despised for so very long. "Have a minute?"
Torture beyond belief, Draco reminded himself. "What about?"
She took one parchment from her bag and waved it around like a lunatic. "I asked for an advanced assignment for my lesson on dugbogs last week and what do I get? 'Please refer to the ten-foot essay on dugbogs I gave to Mr. Malfoy last month.' Ten-foot essay? Last month?" she screeched, causing students to look at her. She took a deep breath, threw a quick smile at the students to reassure them, then hissed, "You shouldn't have discussed dugbogs until last week! Didn't you read the syllabus?"
"What syllabus?" he asked, smirking broadly.
"This one." She got another parchment from her bag and shoved it to his chest. Granger then promptly took it from him, opened it up, then pointed at the entry marked 'October'. "We were supposed to discuss dugbogs for three weeks, from last week until next," she explained, still in that vexing superior tone of hers. "But then, since you already took up dugbogs last month, what are you discussing – if you can even call your method that – now?"
"Um, Mr. Malfoy?" one of the nameless – well, in Draco's opinion any Hufflepuff was nameless – students came to him, bringing his book. "Are we allowed to also—"
"What's this?" Granger took the book from the cowering student, and her eyes doubled in size at what she saw. "Salamanders? You're taking up salamanders now?" she thundered. "I haven't even had a session with them about dugbogs!"
The student gently took three steps back then ran for his life.
Draco had had enough. No one else was supposed to terrorize children like that! "And if I am teaching them about salamanders now," he countered heatedly, "what's it to you?"
Granger took three deep, cleansing breaths then said, "You're supposed to act like a professional, Malfoy! You're a professor, for Merlin's sake! You can't just teach children anything that pops into your head!" She flipped to page twenty-six and said, "Did you even test them if they know absolutely everything about dugbogs? For all I know you just asked them to make essays and, poof, on to the next creature!"
That was precisely what he was doing, but hell would freeze if he admitted that to her! "Don't lecture me on how to handle my class," Draco muttered, his tone dark and dangerous. "What I do with them is none of your damned business. Understand?"
She chuckled. The nerve! "You're wrong. As usual," Granger all but snarled. "We share this class together. We share the subjects. Heck, we share the students! What you do in your time with them affects me directly, but with you being your arrogant, demented self, you won't even realize that, ever!"
He was seconds away from throttling her with his bare hands. Giving her a heated glare and sparing the students from a grisly murder, he said to the class, "Continue your essay in the library. Class dismissed."
The Slytherins were very fast in gathering their things and leaving, but the Hufflepuffs were considerably more reluctant to go. Weasley, especially, was torn between leaving with her friends and staying behind. She looked at Draco, then at Granger, before saying, "Professor—"
"Just leave!" Draco sputtered.
And she was gone.
When Draco turned to face Granger again, he saw her opening her mouth to speak. Beating her to it he said, "Don't tell me what I did now was wrong, too!"
She pursed her lips. "I was going to say you did the right thing, but why waste words?" Granger set down her bag on the ground. "Now, what I want to do is—"
"Do you really think I'm interested to know what you want to do? You just disrupted my class and—"
She inched her chin higher. "We have to settle the discrepancy in our lessons," she said. "I have to know what topics you already covered so that in my—"
He crossed his arms again. "I've covered everything about dugbogs, you know-it-all nuisance," Draco snapped. "Nothing's left to discuss."
She arched an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
He smiled. "Really."
"From stages of growth to ways of destroying them?"
"Even reproduction," Draco added smugly. "Want a demonstration?"
She studiously ignored that. "So… if I give them, say, an exam next week, they'll all pass?"
"Each and every one."
Granger grabbed her bag again. "You better hope they will," she challenged. "Because if one of them fails – and I'll be very thorough in checking – you'll be teaching them Care of Magical Creatures for the next few months while I take over Potions. Agreed?"
"This is blackmail," he told her point-blank, and not with a small amount of annoyance.
"You should know," she said smugly. "This is education at its best."
She could not believe it.
She could not possibly, honestly, entirely believe it.
Hermione had carefully constructed the exam, and even proctored its administration so that Malfoy wouldn't have any chances of tainting the results with his cheating and what-not - even if it meant giving him a day off and seeing him traipsing along the corridors while she stood and guarded all day long.
She was so sure that someone was going to fail the exam. All right, maybe that was, well, wrong of her to say as she was the esteemed teacher of these children, but with the way Malfoy's been conducting his classes someone was bound to find it difficult to answer her exam. After all, Malfoy's preferred essays were always subjective, both in the answering and checking. Her multiple-choice questions were objective, with one and only one answer to every question.
But the results didn't reflect what she wanted them to reflect. The children actually passed. And yes, she had checked and rechecked the papers, and even her answer key didn't escape her scrutiny. They all passed, with high scores to boot.
Grimacing as she sipped her now-cold tea, Hermione told herself that she should be relieved, even, that Malfoy's sub-standard method and style of teaching – well, it was! - was somewhat effective. This meant less work for her in one subjectas she could just build on where Malfoy left off, or better yet, reinforce the lesson with concrete and live examples of the creatures.
Thank goodness she didn't have this problem with him in Potions. The said subject relied more on demonstration, anyway, so even he was forced to do some damned work of his own.
All right. Okay. She had to, somehow, deal with this. This did not, in any way, prove that the damned infuriating Draco Malfoy was better than her in teaching. It didn't! It did not do anything of the sort; rather it only proved that the children were quite gifted in the subject!
Hermione dug up the papers of the two students with the highest scores. Lot was proving to be a wonderful student – attentive, polite, and inquisitive. A very curious child with enough questions to last her a lifetime. For the life of her, Hermione had a vague impression that she had met someone like Lot, only she couldn't exactly pinpoint who it was… anyway, it didn't matter. She was certain that Ron and Pansy would be ecstatic to learn that their daughter was doing remarkably well in her studies – even if she was sorted to Hufflepuff.
Neil Longbottom was quite a different matter altogether. He was the antithesis to Lot's angelic attitude – he was assertive, proud, and challenging. His voice always carried that superior tone that she'd come to dislike, as it reminded her too much of Malfoy. How did Neville and Luna raise him? She made a mental note to owl them some other time. As such, Neil also had his little band of Slytherins that was already proving to be troublesome. But, even she had to admit Neil was a clever little Slytherin, and his grades nearly matching Lot's high marks were a testament to this fact.
Her grumbling stomach reminded her that she'd missed dinner in her haste to know the results of her exam. Grabbing and putting on her robe, Hermione made a beeline to the Great Hall. It wasn't as late as she thought; there were still some fourth and fifth year students roaming the corridors, whereas some sixth and seventh years were still in the dining area. She went straight to the teacher's table where a house elf promptly served her that night's menu.
She was halfway through her meal when she heard the most annoying sound of all – Malfoy's drawl. Hermione kept her eyes on her food, determined not to give the bastard any thought at all, when she heard another annoying sound – a chorus of girlish giggling.
She reluctantly looked up and saw that Malfoy was surrounded by the sixth and seventh year female students from different houses. He sat on the Slytherin table – where was his manners! – and said something that sent the girls into another feverish fit. With the students were several prefects who should be on patrol that night, and Rowena Myers, the Slytherin Head Girl.
And, look, the said student was practically on his lap!
Hermione had suddenly lost her appetite. She stood and marched to her room, praying that Malfoy would be too preoccupied with his merry band of adoring angels to notice her.
But, as luck would have it – at least, her lack of it – that wasn't the case.
"Excuse me, ladies – Granger! Granger! Wait the goddamned—"
That had her whirling around to face him. "Language, Malfoy! Oh, I swear how on earth you can stomach calling yourself a professor is beyond me."
He only arched an eyebrow. "What's gotten your kni—"
She put her palm on his mouth. "Don't even say it!" Then, realizing what she'd done, she removed her hand and wiped it on his robes. "If you must know, I find it despicable that you're—well, cavorting with—"
"Cavorting? I don't even know what that—"
"In full view!" Hermione exploded, waving her hand as emphasis. "You were practically holding Rowena Myers on your lap!"
"As if you don't know!" she scoffed. "The Head Girl!"
Malfoy was silent for a minute, seemingly contemplating, before a malevolent grin erupted on his face. "Dare I say you're jealous?"
"Dare I punch your face in?" she retaliated. "She's practically half your age! Have you no shame? No dignity? No morals? Oh wait. No, no you don't."
"Let me get this straight. First, you question me on my teaching methods, now you challenge me on my people-skills?" There was a sudden, notable change in his tone and stance.
But Hermione was way past caring. "People-skills, ha! As if you have any!"
He cocked his head to one side and muttered snidely, "I think I know where this is coming from."
She dared him to continue.
"You've gotten the results, haven't you?" Malfoy said, his grin reappearing. "And…"
"And what?" she snapped.
He started laughing, like her about to beat him to death with her bare hands was very funny. "You've proven I'm a better teacher than you are!"
She was left speechless after that. The desire to murder him was so strong, her hands actually itched to close themselves around his throat. But she decided to curb the urges – after all, murder on her record wouldn't be too good. No, no it wouldn't.
Even if it was Draco Malfoy she killed. Even if she was, generally speaking, doing the wizarding community some good by eliminating him.
"I didn't prove anything of that sort," she said loudly.
"Yes, really. Now go back to your room and—shut up, will you! Stop laughing or I'll—"
"What? Hex me? Sometimes, I don't understand how it is you can stomach calling yourself a professor." He only smiled largely, especially when he caught her clenched hands. "Oh, Granger, truly you should know you should just give up. Whatever method I use will definitely be better than yours. Even you saw to that."
Well, that was a challenge if she'd ever heard one! Hermione only smiled and said, "We'll just wait and see which one of us will be giving up. And I can assure you, it won't be me."
"Hmm. Somehow, I doubt that." Draco dragged a finger down her cheek before sauntering away.
Which left Hermione steaming and stark-raving mad.
You want a fight? I'll give you a fight, Malfoy.
And I never lose.
Author's Notes: Yeeha! After almost 18 months of being dormant, SiP is active again! And thank you for the reviews:D