Chapter 27- The Aftereffects of Alcohol
It was not much of a surprise that Draco was the first one to wake up the next morning. After all, he was not the one who knocked himself out with too much alcohol. Initially, he thought of shaking Hermione awake, but he was feeling rather lazy himself, and decided against it.
Hermione stirred an hour and half later, just in time for lunch. She groaned as she rose from bed. She had been having really peculiar dreams that she did not want to remember. Her head was pounding and that was all that mattered at the moment.
"Merlin, I feel like a hundred banshees are having a singing competition in my head," Hermione grumbled, shielding her eyes from the sun pouring in from the window.
"It's called a hangover." Draco informed her dryly.
Hermione winced. Her head felt as if it weighed a thousand pounds. "It feels awful."
"That's what you get from drinking too much, Granger."
Hermione flinched as the events of the previous night flooded her mind; the dinner, the excessive drinking, getting drunk, saying stupid things while drunk and mostly prominently, kissing Malfoy. She blushed scarlet. Damn, it had not been just a dream.
She turned to glance at Draco, who, like her, looked somewhat embarrassed. She quickly looked away.
For a few minutes, the two of them simply sat there awkwardly. Hermione was clutching her head and staring fixatedly on a spot on her quilt. Draco, meanwhile, was looking all around the room, determined to not let his eyes rest on the wild-haired girl beside him.
In the same instant that Hermione's head snapped up to look at Draco, his eyes so happen to settle on her.
That's when Hermione saw it. The mirth dancing around those pools of grey. It was more palpable than the embarrassment. And then he smirked.
Oh, he's surely going to want to take the mickey out of me now, Hermione groaned again and buried her face in her duvet. She could have slapped him while she was drunk, sing a song about him when she was drunk, but no she had to snog Draco Malfoy.
Draco tried not to laugh as Hermione hid her face away from him. No doubt she was thinking about the events of the previous evening. Taunting her about last night was the first thing in his mind, but he knew that it would not be as much fun if she was hungover.
Clambering out of bed, Draco motioned Hermione to follow him to his room.
"What? So you're not going to say anything?" Hermione questioned, staring at him as he led her to his room.
"What are you on about, Granger?"
Hermione was taken aback; she thought for sure he had something to say about her behavior the night before. But then she simply assumed that he wanted to take a shower first, and save the banter for later.
Instead, Draco went to his bedside drawer and pulled it open. From within, he retrieved a small vile containing pale green liquid. He handed it to Hermione. "Drink up," he instructed.
Hermione eyed Draco and the bottle warily.
"It's hangover potion," Draco offered, sensing her suspicion. "I brewed it right after the last time I got terribly hungover. I pride myself to be very good potions-maker," he added unabashedly.
Hermione allowed herself a small grin. The last time Draco was drunk had been memorable. She remembered it vividly, and so did most of the Gryffindors.
Pushing thoughts of why Draco was helping her instead of mocking her out of her already thudding head, Hermione popped the bottle open and took a swig of the mixture. It tasted disgusting, but barely a minute later, her head no longer felt like it was going to implode on itself.
"Thank you, Malfoy," Hermione said, genuinely grateful. "That was enormously effective."
Draco shrugged in response. "I told you I was good with potions."
Hermione waited for a while, expecting a sudden burst of mockery. But when nothing came, she said, "Why don't you head on to the shower first since we're already in your room?"
"Whatever," Draco said carelessly.
Throughout Draco's bath, there wasn't one wisecrack out of him. Hermione was becoming slightly baffled. It was not natural for him not to tease after an event such as last night.
The Head Boy's bath finished in fifteen minutes, after which, Hermione strode into her room, grabbed her clothes and entered the bathroom to take a shower. Draco followed, still silent.
Before pulling the curtain close around the showering area and performing her routine spells, Hermione placed her hands on her hips and stared at Draco. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. "Well?"
Draco feigned a look of innocence. "Well what?"
"Nothing." Hermione shut the curtains around her as Draco suppressed a snicker and sat down at his usual place.
Soon, the sound of running water filled the bathroom.
"By the way, Granger," Draco called out. "You're a damn good snogger."
There was an abrupt hush as the steady gush of water came to a sudden halt. Silence.
"Better than Simone?" Hermione blurted before she could stop herself. She cursed under her breath, wanting to kick herself for opening her big mouth. There were so many other things she could have said in response to that, but instead she had chosen the worse reply of them all. And since when did Hermione talk before thinking?
Since she started drinking before thinking! the answer came to her instantly.
Draco could not stop the self-satisfied smile forming on his lips. "Definitely," he replied coolly, not missing the small gasp that came from behind the curtains.
While in the shower, Hermione had decided that she was going to handle this whole issue sensibly, and do what a mature, responsible adult would do– avoid. Yes, she was going to avoid the subject as much as she possibly could to save what was left of her pride and dignity.
Stepping out of the tub, Hermione earned herself a non-committal look from Draco. "What?" she asked, using her wand to instantly dry her dripping hair and tying it up into a ponytail. She tried to swallow her awkwardness.
The passive expression on Draco's face was now tainted with a slight smugness. "Why was it so important for you to know if you were a better snogger than Simone?"
Hermione froze. "I…It was a cynical statement. Didn't you hear the sarcasm in my voice?" she said, trying to convince herself as much as Draco.
"Sarcasm?" Draco's eyebrows shot up in amusement. "Granger, I, of all people, would know sarcasm when I hear it. And there was not a scrap of sarcasm when you asked if you were a better kisser then Simone."
Walking out of the bathroom, Hermione attempted a casual shrug. "My sarcasm did not sound too believable, that's all."
"I think the vodka from last night is still clouding your brain," Draco snorted as they made their way to the common room. "Either that, or you're in serious denial."
"There's nothing to deny!" Hermione insisted.
"Do you even remember what happened last night?"
Hermione pursed her lips together. "Not really," she mumbled, hoping her lie would sound credible and Draco would not pursue the matter further. Lying was a good way to enhance avoidance of a particular issue.
"Not really?" Draco repeated, arching a blonde eyebrow. "Well, allow me to remind you. First, you threw yourself at me, saying how much you were in love with me, and then you–"
"I did no such thing!" Hermione huffed.
"Ah-ha! So you do remember?"
"Some of it," she admitted embarrassedly, trotting over to the table where two bouquets of roses sat.
"So you remember sno–"
"Why did you give me these roses last night?" Hermione interrupted, quickly changing the subject. If avoiding the subject does not work as planned, cleverly changing the subject could prove effective as well. She casually picked up the bunch of thirty colorful roses from the table.
Draco shot her a sharp look. Could she be more obvious about changing the topic? Still, he played along. "Did you forget? Simone seemed like she was going to hyperventilate merely by looking at them."
Hermione was not content with the answer. "You could have thrown them away. Why give them to me?"
Draco puckered his brows, looking unsettled. "It seemed convenient at that time."
"Oh, so I was the dumping ground for Simone's rubbish?"
"In a manner of speaking," Draco answered, his expression now smug.
Hermione glowered at him, chucking the flowers back onto the table. "Speaking of Simone," she trudged out of the common room with Draco, "you paid her to be your date, didn't you?"
It was Hermione's turn to look smug as Draco's face turned sour.
"So that you agree to remembering," he groaned.
Hermione flashed him a grin. "Just making sure it wasn't a dream," she told him cheekily. "Anyway, what I was trying to get at is, why did you wet Viktor's pants when he gave me those earrings?" She had carefully chosen her words, replacing the words "when I kissed him" with "when he gave me those earrings".
"I didn't do anything," Draco replied, his face passive. Oh, he had noticed the phrasing of the question all right.
"You mean to tell me the glass of Firewhiskey magically flew onto his pants?"
Draco smirked. "Well, you never know. It might have been enchanted."
"Nonsense! Now who's the one in denial?" Hermione shook her head disbelievingly. "Fine, then tell me why you set his pants on fire?"
"That was an accident."
"Oh, really?" Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"Hey, what's with the interrogation?" Draco shot back. He stopped completely in his tracks and grabbed Hermione's arm to stop her as well. "If you want questions, I have a fair share of them for you as well. Why did you snog me last night? I mean, I always had a feeling you fancied me, but last night, you confirmed it."
"Ha! That's rich coming from you!" Hermione's brown eyes bore into Draco's. "In case you don't remember, allow me to jog your memory. You were the one who kissed me first!"
Color rose to Draco's pale cheeks. "W…well, I was trying to get you to keep quiet," he stammered slightly. "You were yakking away like there was no tomorrow!"
Hermione rested her hands on her hips. "You could have silenced me with a charm," she scoffed. "But you didn't do so. Why?"
"Need I remind you that you opted to show me the proper technique of snogging?" Draco countered, going for a different approach. "You volunteered, in fact."
"I was drunk. You weren't." Hermione narrowed her eyes. "What's your excuse then?"
"I was momentarily mentally," Draco replied weakly, although he could sense another answer floating in his subconscious, one he refused to let surface. "But I'm not done with you just yet, Granger. I'm not going to let you off the hook that easily." He looked resolute. "You were going on about how you had anticipated a kiss when Peeves was threatening us. What was that about?"
"I told you Malfoy, I was drunk," Hermione mumbled, turning away from Draco.
Draco pulled her by the arm to make her face him. "You were drunk when you babbling about how you expected me to kiss you. But how about when it actually happened? Were you really anticipating something?"
Hermione, it seemed, had lost the ability to speak.
"Answer me, Granger."
"What in the devil is going on here?" came a voice some distance away.
The two turned to see Ginny coming down the hallway towards them.
"Ginny!" Hermione said, quickly breaking away from Draco's grasp. "Thank goodness you're here. Malfoy was just being a prat."
"Are you bothering my friend, Malfoy?" Ginny growled.
Draco simply scowled.
"What were you two talking about anyway?" Ginny asked, eyeing them inquisitively.
"I was talking about Malfoy's stupid decision to bring this girl along to dinner last night," Hermione hastily said the first thing that came to her mind. "And he got very defensive about it."
Draco sent her a dirty look, but knew he had no other choice but to play along. "She was a nice girl. It's not my fault you didn't like her."
"Malfoy, you prick, just don't ever lay a finger on my friend again or you've had it," Ginny warned and Draco snorted. Then, she scrutinized the two. They looked slightly flushed and uneasy, so she was somewhat skeptical about their explanation. But she let the matter drop. "Are you two heading for lunch then?"
Hermione nodded and started walking. "And you?"
"So am I. had a little bit of a lie-in this morning," Ginny informed, falling step beside Hermione. "Went out with a couple of my friends last night. We got back to school quite late."
Draco noticed that the eyes of the youngest Weasley had slightly bloodshot, and could not help but wonder if she had spent her night drinking as well.
"It sounds like you had fun," Hermione said with a smile.
"I did," Ginny returned her smile. "How was your date?"
Hermione and Draco made eye-contact fleetingly. "It was… all right," the brunette answered, hoping she would not blush. "It was nice to see Viktor after such a long time."
"I'm sure it was," Ginny grinned and winked. "Was ferret-face being a good boy?"
"It's amazing how you can speak of me like I'm not even here," Draco said, his expression deadpan.
Ginny sighed dramatically. "It's a skill I've been forced to master now that you're with Hermione all bloody day."
Draco glowered at the redhead.
The girls entered the Great Hall chuckling, and, together with Draco, headed for Gryffindor table, but stopped short when they realized that there was an unnatural hush over the table. Everyone seated was staring at Hermione intently, and, after a second or two, they broke into urgent whispers, their eyes darting in her direction.
"Am I the only one who finds this behavior peculiar?" Ginny asked, sounding puzzled.
"I thought you Gryffindorks were usually peculiar," Draco grunted, earning himself a nudge in the ribs from Ginny.
Mystified, Hermione wondered what she had done to send the mouths of the Gryffindors wagging. Surely they couldn't have known that Malfoy and I…
Pushing that possibility out of her mind (she had reasoned with herself that that was not possible; there had only been the two of them in the common room), she made her way to where Harry and Ron sat. In midst all the murmuring, she caught snatches of conversation, which involved phrases like, "poor girl", "I never knew", "Runs in the family" and "I wonder if anything happened".
Quickly taking a seat with Ginny and Draco, Hermione was greeted by a not so cheerful Harry and a not at all cheerful Ron. The freckled boy looked like he was in an exceptionally bad mood today. He was glaring down at his bowl, looking ready to wrestle the mushroom soup in it.
"What's going on here, Harry?" Hermione asked.
It was Ron who replied, rather callously at that. "Why don't you tell us, Hermione?"
Hermione frowned. "I haven't a clue what's happening here. All I know is that everyone's looking at me funny."
"Oh, don't act all innocent with us," Ron snapped.
In a very sudden movement, Parvati had landed next to Hermione, cutting her off in mid-sentence. "Hello, Hermione," she said sweetly (a little too sweetly in fact). "How are you doing today?"
Hermione stared. "I…I'm doing fine."
Parvati placed her arm around Hermione's shoulders. "Look Hermione, I know we're not best of friends, but we were dorm mates. And I just want you to know that I'll help you through this. My aunt had the same problem, but she got it all sorted out with a little bit of counseling…"
"Parvati, what in the world are you talking about?" Hermione questioned, frowning.
"Why your drinking problem of course."
Hermione's jaw dropped. She thought she had heard wrong. "My what?!"
"Oh, there's nothing to be ashamed about," Parvati said soothingly. "I saw you last night, at The Four Cloves. With Viktor Krum. Are the two of you still going out?"
Hermione remained silent (mainly from the shock). She could not believe this girl.
"Anyways, you had had a little too much too drink, and you were going a little cuckoo." She gave Hermione's shoulder a sympathetic pat. "The first step to getting over your addiction is to understand that alcohol is not the solution to all your problems."
"I do not have an addiction!"
Beside Hermione, Draco was shaking with silent laughter.
"Denial, classic," Parvati sighed. Then she leaned in close to Hermione. "By the way," she started very quietly, "considering you were insanely drunk last night, did you and Malfoy have any… encounters last night? I saw him helping you back to school."
Yes we did actually. Two whole snogs. "No!" Hermione snapped, praying so hard that the color of her cheeks would not give her away. "No way!"
Parvati moved away from Hermione, looking obviously disappointed. "All right then. No need to get so worked up." The lean girl stood up. "All the best, Hermione. You'll pull through this." She waved and was about to walk away when Hermione called her back.
"Parvati, did you by any chance feel the need to share this piece of information with anyone else?" Hermione asked, dreading the answer.
"With one or two people, yes," Parvati replied nonchalantly. "Seamus was there with me, but I did tell Lavender and some other non-relevant people."
Hermione watched her sashay away and resisted the urge to groan. The whole Gryffindor (and probably some other students from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and even Slytherin) thought that she, Hermione, was an alcoholic. Fabulous, just fabulous.
"Go on, then," Ron urged snidely. "Explain why exactly why everyone here thinks you're an alcoholic."
Hermione turned to her friends. "You know that I don't have a drinking problem!"
Ron snorted. "I'm not so sure about that anymore!"
"What do you mean, by that, Ron?" Hermione demanded.
"Hermione, I saw you last night! You were as drunk as anyone could get on nine bloody glasses of alcohol!"
"Nine glasses?!" Harry and Ginny cried in unison.
"That was only last night. It was the first, and last, time I had ever had a drink before. I don't know how that happened," Hermione mumbled sheepishly, although she knew fully well the reason for her excessive drinking the night before. "One glass became two, then three and four, and so on… I guess I just didn't know my limit."
"Didn't know your limit?" Ron was so angry that he nearly knocked his glass of juice off the table. "Merlin Hermione, you were smashed! I would never expect that of you. I thought you were the know-it-all here, the smart, rational one."
Hermione looked down at her empty lunch guiltily. "I assure you it won't happen again."
"What kind of an excuse is that?" Ron went on as if he had not heard Hermione. "Not knowing your limit, honestly…"
"Ron, that's enough," Harry said quietly. "I don't suppose Hermione planned to get drunk. And I definitely know she does not have a drinking problem."
Smiling appreciatively at her friend, Hermione said, "Thank you, Harry."
"Well, it still seems like you had a wild night with whoever your date was," Ron sneered.
At this, Hermione's eyes flashed angrily.
"What do you mean by that?" she questioned, bitterness rimming her tone. "You know full well that I was out with Viktor. And Malfoy and his date too," she added.
"And what about those roses?" Ron demanded a little too loudly. "From Malfoy?"
Harry's emerald-green eyes bulged from his sockets and Ginny looked incredulous. A few of heads turned at the Gryffindor table, most notably Lavender and Parvati's.
"Keep your voice down, you lousy git," Draco snapped.
"Can it, Malfoy!" Ron shot back.
"M…Malfoy gave you roses?" Harry spluttered.
"That I can explain," Hermione said quickly. "Malfoy didn't give them to me for any special reason. He chucked them with me when his date told him she had an allergic reaction to them. I meant to throw them away, but I must have forgotten when I was… inebriated…"
"I second that," Draco said. He glared at Ron, who had an unpleasant expression on his face.
"Hermione, did anything else happen that we should know about?" Ginny asked carefully. She seemed to be still digesting the fact that her best friend had spent the night drinking and consequently accepting flowers from her greatest adversary.
"No," Hermione said pointedly, trying to feel as confident as she sounded. She saw Draco fidget in his seat and she knew full well that he was thinking of the same thing as she was. "Nothing else."
"All right, then," Ginny sighed with relief.
A thick silence hung in the air for the longest time. Then, Hermione spoke.
"How did things go with Luna last night, Harry?" she asked casually, trying hard to lighten the mood.
"It was OK," Harry replied after contemplating for a moment. "Albeit a little weird."
Draco grunted. "That's not a surprise, considering she's somewhat a weirdo."
"What do you mean, Harry?" Hermione queried, ignoring Draco's comment.
Harry sighed. "When I asked her why she wanted me to teach her how to fly, she told me it was because she wanted to look for Flying Boggerstains."
"What in the world are Flying Boggerstains?"
"I haven't a clue," Harry said flatly, looking as perplexed as Hermione. "But word has it that she's been flying around the Quidditch pitch all morning looking for them."
"So, she wasn't interested in you at all?" Ginny inquired carefully.
Harry shook his head. "No. She was definitely more interested in Flying Boggerstains."
Draco could have sworn that Ginny seemed considerably happier after that reply.
Silence reigned for several more minutes until Ron, still looking livid, pushed his bowl away, causing the soup to slosh out. Without a word, he got to his feet and stormed out of the Great Hall, earning himself a few looks from curious students.
Draco cocked his blonde eyebrow and muttered, with amusement, "Honestly, Weaselboy has more mood swings than Pansy and Millicent put together…"
After lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent completing homework that had piled up over the weekend. Draco and Hermione spent in the company of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, who proved to be quiet companions this evening (except for the occasional jibe from Gryffindor about how well his Valentine's Day dinner went). It was also the presence of the two founders that prevented the two Heads from continuing their discussion of the events of the previous night.
However, not talking about it did not necessarily mean not thinking about it.
Hermione found herself sneaking a glimpse at Draco from time to time. It was pretty hard to concentrate on her work after you had spent the previous evening snogging one of your worst enemies senseless. She tried figuring out just how she felt kissing him then, but that was close to impossible since she was a drunken lunatic when it happened. All she knew was that the mere thought of doing something like that with Draco was causing her stomach to do little somersaults. She couldn't figure out why though.
The situation was pretty much the same for Draco. Despite his efforts, his eyes kept diverting their gaze to Hermione's lips. Seeing them brought unwanted (or so he wanted to believe) thoughts to his mind– their softness, their sweetness, the way they pressed against his yesterday…
FOCUS! Draco scolded himself.
By dinner, Hermione had pushed aside all thoughts of Ron's foul mood (she was still unsuccessful in not thinking about the snog she had the night before though). She had also decided that trying to do anything about the rumors of her being alcoholic would be futile, so she would just let it die down on its own. Besides, she knew that Harry and Ginny (and maybe even Ron) would take the liberty of impeding any vicious gossip.
Instead, Hermione had to contest with a new problem in the form of Pansy Parkinson.
Oh yes, Draco was back on Pansy's good side it seemed. News has it that her date with Crabbe had not gone too well. Apparently, he had fallen asleep in the middle of dinner with Pansy and had drooled all over his food. Now that was a big turn off in Pansy's books, so she conveniently left the not-so-poor thing in the restaurant and was back to chasing Draco full-time.
"Draco!" Pansy gushed as he sat down at the Slytherin table with Hermione.
Draco frowned, looking somewhat puzzled. "Pansy, you're in a good mood today." What happened to not talking to me?
Pansy giggled. "I am in a good mood." She shot Hermione a hostile glance. "Well, as good a mood I can muster with her around. I heard that you're somewhat an alcoholic, Granger."
Hermione rolled her eyes. She had not even said a word and already Pansy was having a go at her. "Well, I heard that your date was knocked unconscious by your talking last night. Apparently, you bored him to sleep," Hermione stated casually, trying not to laugh at the horror-struck expression on the Slytherin girl's face. "But honestly, do you think I am an idiot to believe everything I hear, Parkinson?"
Blaise, who was sitting across Draco, sniggered softly, while Draco tried to hide his smile.
"Shut it, Zabini," Pansy snapped. "What you heard about my date is a load of tripe, Granger."
"And what you heard about me is rubbish as well, Parkinson," Hermione gave her an innocent smile.
Pansy seemed to realize that it was in her best interest not to argue. She instead focused her attention back on Draco. "I heard things did not work out too well with Simone," she said with a sigh, trying to sound sympathetic.
Draco shrugged, not looking particularly heartbroken. He was merely grateful Pansy did not find out that he paid Simone to be his date.
"She wasn't really your type anyways," Pansy continued. "Your type is…" she leaned forward and smiled coyly, "Strong, sophisticated, pretty, smart…"
"Yeah, mate, wonder where you can find a girl like that," Blaise snorted.
Hermione bit back a chuckle while Pansy shot Blaise a contemptuous look.
Dinner was rather enjoyable in Hermione's opinion. Pansy kept attempting to throw (massive) hints at Draco that she was no longer dating anyone else, but the blonde was oblivious (probably because he wasn't even sure that Pansy was dating Crabbe in the first place).
Overall, it was just a relief for the two Heads that the Valentine weekend had come to an end. It had been definitely strange, not to mention unexpected. However, it would not be wrong to say that this particular Valentine's Day had left quite a big impression on them (and their lips). It would be one they would remember for a long, long time.