(Harry Potter Fan Fiction)
Disclaimer: All the characters don't belong to me... Wish they did though..
History: (Pre-HBP) A random year (say about 6th or 7th), a random night, a random encounter.
Summary: It was late at night. She found him alone on the Quidditch pitch. And so she decided to stay for a while. Just for a while.
A/N: Just something I thought up of during Chemistry lecture. Not the greatest plot of all time, but -shrugs-.
He sat all alone right in the middle of the Quidditch pitch.
He wasn't exactly sure of the time. Maybe it had been hours, maybe just a few minutes. It didn't really matter to him either way.
Time didn't exist here.
It was dark, and the stars spread across like silver dust scattered in a random pattern over black silk. It was serenely quiet, with the occasional hoot of an owl or a deep rustle of leaves in the trees nearby. He closed his eyes.
The soft breeze gently smoothed his hair away from his face and he closed his eyes and leaned back slightly, welcoming the light caress of the moving air.
He liked it here. But he always felt there was something missing.
Something he could never quite put a picture or a word to.
And that was how Hermione Granger found Draco Malfoy.
For a while, she watched him, momentarily mesmerized. His hair seemed to have become streaks of silver paint under the crescent moon, and his casual posture silently and subtly exuding power.
He was a dangerous character, with depth and mystery.
Shaking away her thoughts, knowing that she would never truly understand his thoughts, she turned silently to leave.
There was a sudden slight change in the air. Instinctively, he could sense that someone else was there, mutely watching him. It must be Crabbe or Goyle, or even one of the teachers or students. He didn't care. They knew when to leave him alone. He would just hex them if they didn't.
And he was right, that person was leaving, and he'd gladly let him or her do so. This was his private time, and he rarely needed nor appreciated company. That was, until he idly let his eyes drift open, and he caught sight of a bushy mess of brown hair. Her name slipped out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He followed that with a mental curse.
It was barely a whisper, but in the dead of the night, she heard her name loud and clear, like a bell ringing in her ears, stopping her dead in her tracks, completely frozen.
Forcing herself to be composed, she turned back in his direction. She knew she shouldn't, wouldn't, let him get to her. She couldn't let him win, couldn't let him enjoy that satisfaction. She should do what she came here to do.
He couldn't get to her.
She strode towards him nonchalantly, though she was uneasily aware of his eyes on her. She ignored his gaze. When she finally reached his side, she had no other choice but to stare right back down at him.
Right into his eyes. Which looked so much like molten mercury under the moonlight.
For probably the first time in her entire life, she didn't know what to say. Hello? Nice to see you? You're an idiot? Can you just go away?
He raised an eyebrow, practically challenging her to say something, as if it was a competition and the first one to speak loses.
Then he abruptly broke the eye contact, his eyes darted to the broom in her right hand and a look of utter disbelief flashed across his face. "You're going flying? Oh wait a second, I mean, you're going to fall off your broom and perhaps die? Isn't that bloody brilliant!."
She could feel her cheeks getting warm and had a sudden wild urge to wrack his pretty little blond head with her broom, but decided that it was not worth the damage to her broom. At the same time, she resisted the urge to hide the broom behind her and run screaming with embarrassment back to the common room.
"What are you doing here, in the middle of the night? It's against the rules. You're a prefect, you should know that." She retorted instead, hoping to fob him off.
"You should know that too," he smirked.
Damn, he was right.
There was dead silence once again as she avoided his gaze. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes. She desperately wanted to leave, but she promised herself she wouldn't let him get to her. She couldn't leave.
She threw a look back at the school compound, half hoping Filch would appear and send them back to their rooms.
Then his voice cut through the cool air.
"I am here to find something," This time when he spoke, the smirk in his voice was gone, replaced by a more somber tone.
He was throwing her off.
She took a moment to ponder his reply, and then she asked, "What did you lose?" She was about to add something rather sarcastic and rather uncharacteristic of her when the moon reappeared from behind a cloud and she caught sight of his grave countenance.
"I never really found it to know what it is," His voice had dipped below a murmur, and she thought she heard him wrong.
She must had heard wrong.
"What…?" She asked, confused and momentarily forgetting all other thoughts.
Almost as if she was hypnotized, she set her broom down and sat down next to him, curious to learn more, despite the fact that she had always hated him in a way she had never hated anyone else.
Maybe she could use it against him, her brain reasoned, and she contented herself with it, knowing full well it would help diminish the weird emotion she felt for having a normal conversation with him where she wasn't hurling insults or hexes at him.
He turned to her to find her wide innocent hazel eyes gazing at him in mild curiosity and puzzlement, her skin glowing porcelain beneath the nourishing glow of the moon. She reached to brush a wayward hair out of her eyes and looked at him, expecting more details. The strand of hair refused to obey its owner and sprung back to its original position.
Acting completely on impulse, he reached out and casually tucked it behind her ear.
She'd have pulled back, but she was too startled by his sudden movement that she stilled, eyes following the path of his hand as it retracted, palms down onto the greenery. She was more than ever puzzled, and of course, slightly angry to have felt a tingle where his hand brushed her sensitive earlobe.
He realized too late what he had done, and he almost laughed out loud at the expression on her face. It was complete bewilderment. Trying to hide his grin, he flopped himself full onto the grass patch, stretching out lazily and letting out a yawn. He knew her eyes were following his every move.
And she was, indeed, watching him, trying to decipher the mystery that was Draco Malfoy.
"Why don't you just go practice now? I'll give you some pointers. However, I must say I'm curious. Why are practicing to fly?" He asked, cupping his hands underneath his head and lifting it up to look at her.
In truth, she was intrigued by the prospect of it all. She was sitting next to the fireplace in the Common Room, listening to Harry and Ron talk about it, and they were both urging her to try to master it, or rather, trying to goad her into make a fool out of herself. They said the sheer sensation of the wind rushing into your ears, attacking all your five senses, was the most wondrous feeling ever. She didn't believe them, of course, nothing could be more wonderful than the satisfaction of completing her work and getting credit for a job well done.
However, she found herself unable to fall asleep. And somehow, she found herself digging out her broom and heading for the Quidditch pitch.
He was still expecting an answer. She smiled easily and shrugged, "For the fun of it all."
"Well, all right. It's just that I never thought that falling off your broom was that much fun," He settled back down onto the grass. "Well, go ahead, fall away. I'll catch you if you fall, I mean, when you fall."
Something in his words spurred her on. Maybe it was the unspoken challenge in his tone, or maybe it was his careless assurance that he would catch her –
No. Definitely the challenge.
He knew he had won as he watched determination creeping onto her lovely cheeks.
"Laugh away. I'll show you who gets the last laugh," She nodded to herself, as if needing reassurance. And with that, she stepped onto the broom and off she went, rather gracefully, if he might add.
Warmth he had never experienced settled in the pit of his stomach and it was so welcoming that a slow genuine smile drifted across his features.
She was frightened out of her wits. She was going to fall, she knew it. She was definitely going to go crashing onto the grass at top speed. She stole a look downwards, and squeezed her eyes shut.
Somewhere in her head, she faintly registered his presence down in the pitch.
"I'll catch you if you fall."
She didn't honestly believe, did she? Why would she? He hated her, and she hated him.
Still, the promise echoed in her ears over and over again and she slowly opened her eyes again, urging the broom forward slowly. This time, the sight that greeted her was not daunting. Rather, it was beautiful.
Her vision spread across the woods, and she could see Hagrid's hut. The sky seemed nearer to her, offering to blanket her in all its warmth and glory. The breeze tickled her ear delightfully, gently playing with her hair. From here, she could smell the woods. It was the smell of timber, combined with fragrances of unique flowers and plants and the scent of grasses and trees. She could almost taste it. It was quiet, but yet, it was not. She could hear something. She could hear the sound of the night.
He watched her, lying flat on his back. He had this odd sensation that he could go on watching her forever and be content with it.
He wondered if she had seen the owl heading her way. It was a puny little owl, but it was enough to knock her off her course, and her broom. He realized the little owl seemed to be swaying a little too much, like it had too much alcohol in its system. On closer look, he recognized it as Weasley's weak little family owl. He thought Weasley got a new one.
In any case, it was too early in the morning for any delivery. Or maybe it was just meant to be here yesterday, he grinned.
She heard a sharp flapping of wings behind her and she turned, startled as an owl swooped down dangerously close to her. She let out a helpless yelp as she lost her balance and her control over the broom.
Down on the pitch, he sprang to his feet, fired by true concern for her safety.
The next thing she knew, the broom was no longer under her. And she was falling. No, she was flying.
"I'll catch you if you fall."
A hundred thousand incantations flew around his mind as he searched his robe for his wand, but he couldn't settle on one to help her. His mind was in an utter mess.
Finally he settled on one.
And her fall was halted, leaving her levitating a mere five inches from the ground. With another wave of his wand, he sent her tumbling onto the grass. For a while, neither said a word, still trying to recover from their shock.
Slowly, he lowered himself to his knees and carefully peered at her. Her eyes were wide with alarm and her cheeks rosy from her close encounter with a lot of broken bones. Her hair was in an even more tangled mess and her breaths came in rapid successions. Her eyes turned to his and suddenly, she was burying her face into her hands, her hair falling over her face.
"Granger?" He asked incredulously as her shoulders started shaking uncontrollably. Then her entire body was caught in the motion and she was rocking back and forth.
She was sobbing, he realized with a start, probably from shock. He silently cursed himself for not being able to provide comfort and for a while, simply stood there.
"Granger," He started, but didn't know what else to say, "Hermione." It was the first time he had ever used her first name.
Acting once again on impulse for the second time tonight, he gently took her in his arms, massaging her head in a soothing manner. She buried her head into his chest and clung onto him for dear life.
That was when he realized something wasn't exactly right.
Slowly he pulled her off of him.
She was caught in a spasm of silent laughter.
Eyes wide, her voice finally caught up with her and she burst out in laughter, doubling over.
His hands still on her arms, he stared at her, wondering if her brain was still left up there somewhere in sky. Truth was, he was rather angry. He was worried sick about her, and she was laughing like a madwoman.
"Granger," He warned.
"Sorry… sorry…" She choked, turning her bright smile towards him, her cheeks flushed, "That was really something, wasn't it?"
"You could have gotten yourself killed."
"No, I wouldn't. You're here," She shrugged easily.
"I'm your enemy."
"Okay. Can we do that falling thing again?" She laughed, feeling exhilarated from the fall.
He glared at her for a moment, feeling like he was handling a little child. Then he sighed.
"Let's sit down. I think you have too much adrenaline running through your blood right now," He said instead and settled down onto the grass patch.
She seemed to consider that for a moment, then flopped herself down next to him.
"Are you okay?" He asked after a while.
She didn't answer. She was busy thinking about what had happened during the last five minutes.
He had caught her in time, just as he promised. He had no reason to. He could have let her fall, break a few bones, but he hadn't. That didn't mean he wasn't evil. He is a Slytherin. That got to mean something. And he is the son of Lucius Malfoy. That definitely meant something.
But he had cared about her. He was anxious. He comforted her.
He had held her close.
So did that mean?
She stayed to unravel the mysteries of Draco Malfoy. Seemed like she was more confused about than ever. And now, there was this unsettling feeling in her stomach.
Must be from the fall.
Turning to him, she was surprised at the genuine concern reflected in his eyes.
"Granger," He frowned.
"I'm okay," She smiled. "Thank you. Thank you for breaking my fall."
"I did promise to," He replied.
"Well, I should go," She said. He nodded, but neither of them made a move. The silence stretched out before them, both comfortable and awkward. They had no problem with the comfortable silence, but this was all wrong. They were two different sides of two different coins, and they both knew it.
She should never have stayed behind.
Silently, he shifted his position and lain himself down onto the grass, gazing into the sky and beyond. She knew she should be leaving.
And she did eventually and quietly.
Alone on the pitch once again, he squeezed his eyes shut, but all he saw were visions of her. There was this dull aching feeling deep inside of him.
Like he had something, but lost it somewhere along the way.
He fought it, trying to beat it out of his system. But it didn't work.
And he realized she wasn't the only one who took a bad fall.
"It's amazing how far we'll go just to maintain some measure of control. The world spins a circle within a circle and we grip so tight it makes our knuckles white, when all we really want to do is to let go, lose control, fall, see where we land."
A/N: For now, I'm leaving this as a one-shot, but who knows, if one of these days inspiration strikes, I may continue writing this into a longer fic.