Disclaimer: Hey, I'm back! And in the interim, I haven't managed to acquire ownership of Harry Potter. So it's still not mine.
Summary: Hermione and Pansy rendezvous in the charmingly named hamlet of Hogsmeade.
A/N: Sorry about the delay. I'm afraid I won't be able to publish as frequently as I did over the summer, as now I have to worry about school, athletics, the SAT, friendships and all sorts of delicious drama. Thank you to everyone who reviewed (all 22 of you, I'm amazed)! I hope this next chapter doesn't disappoint, and again, I'm sorry it took so long. I'm not terribly familiar with the layout of Hogsmeade or much else, so if anything is non-canon in this chapter, please forgive me. Anyway, thanks, and please review!
I glanced at the letter once more before folding it up and putting it in my bookbag. I had already memorized it by heart, of course, in fact that was the first thing I had done when I received it. But it felt good and reassuring to see the familiar handwriting scrawled out on parchment.
Hogsmeade, Saturday, okay? Going to be quite a bit of trouble going down I hear, but it just so happens I know a nice secluded place where we won't be bothered. Sound good? The next building past Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, you know where that is? The next building is an empty old clothing shop, Sinclair's. There is a basement door in the back, it'll be unlocked, and the basement is a pleasant and quiet place. I have something I want to show you. Owl back.
Perhaps initially overwhelmed with excitement, I owled her back immediately, with an effusive affirmative reply. Of course, typical of myself, as soon as I saw my owl fly out towards the Slytherin wing of Hogwarts, I began having doubts.
Everyone was expecting some sort of trouble in Hogsmeade this weekend. The prefects were on high alert and there had even been talk of canceling the whole weekend. Harry had emerged from the hospital, with some residual scarring from the hex, and his group was clearly out for revenge. He and Ron weren't about to be deterred by a couple pushy prefects.
"Be careful in Hogsmeade, Hermione. Stay away from around The Three Broomsticks. I don't want you to get involved in…well, in whatever happens," he had told me grimly. Behind him, a determined Seamus had nodded solemnly. Yeah, they were out for revenge, and it probably wasn't in the form of a Zonko's prank.
Stay away from Broomsticks? Sinclair's, where we were supposed to meet, was directly across the street from The Three Broomsticks. The idea of a Slytherin and a Gryffindor meeting in some basement while a street brawl between Slytherins and Gryffindors took place right outside was almost too absurd to be true.
And then…it was just going to be us two, alone, in a basement together. Where we won't be bothered. My heart fluttered at the very thought, a cocktail of unknown proportions of both excitement and terror. We'd finally have a chance to talk, to really talk, without anything interfering. And we'd have a chance to…do other stuff. I mean, if we wanted to, that is. If we both agreed on it and…you know. It could be really magical, no pun intended.
"Hey Hermione?" I glanced up to see Parvati standing next to me. I was supposed to be spending the day with her and Padma, something I'd have to weasel out of in order to meet up with Pansy.
"Hi Par," I managed a smile.
"Excited about Hogsmeade?"
"Got anything big planned?"
"Umm, not really."
Parvati wasn't buying it. She had stopped walking, put her hands on her hips and cocked her head.
"So wait, why do you have to go back to Hogwarts again?"
"Uhh well, I forgot my purse back in my room, and I'm going need my money to buy some extra quills."
Parvati's face scrunched up. "Since when do you carry a purse to Hogsmeade? Besides, if you need money I can let you borrow it, it's much easier than trekking all the way back to Hogwarts."
Padma piped in. "Yeah, it's not a good idea to be walking around by yourself anyway, with all that Slytherin stuff going on."
I shook my head. This was the stupid excuse I had come up with, and I was sticking to it.
"No, it's not a problem. Harry showed me a quick shortcut through Honeydukes, I'll be back before you know it." I gave an assuring smile. "Seriously, don't worry."
I could tell they still weren't convinced, but their doubts weren't going to make me keep Pansy waiting. I branched off towards Honeydukes.
"I'll see you guys soon." As I said my goodbyes, a disturbing thought popped into my head. "Oh yeah, if I don't come back, don't bother looking for me. I probably just stayed back at Hogwarts."
I turned and quickened my step towards Honeydukes, until the second they walked out of the line of sight. Then I cut back to the main path, accidentally bumping into some young Hufflepuffs, and headed towards the forest that surrounded Hogsmeade. Padma was right, walking around Hogsmeade by myself probably wasn't a good idea. So I was going to take the long way.
No doubt looking like some wannabe commando, I crouched down and sprinted across the snow towards the tree line. Aware of the rumors of werewolves inhabiting the forest, I made my way along the trees very carefully, until I had circled around Hogsmeade and was staring at the row of buildings that contained Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, and more importantly, the old clothing shop Sinclair's where I was supposed to meet Pansy.
I gazed around. This particular part of Hogsmeade was hardly popular with visiting Hogwarts students, and I didn't see anyone else. Just to be safe, I put the hood of my cloak up as I walked towards Sinclair's. I kept my eyes and ears open for Pansy, but to no avail.
But as I neared Sinclair's, I began to hear the soft sound of feet sloshing through snow behind me. I checked around and still saw nothing. As I passed into the shadow of Scrivenshaft's I heard it again, growing closer and more pronounced. I whirled around to find nothing, but when I turned back around there were two boys standing where they had not been just seconds prior, and there was a wand pointed right at my face.
"Scream for help, and it'll be the last thing you ever do, Slytherin," came the familiar voice. My eyes followed the wand down the arm to its owner's pale face and ginger red hair. Oh god.
I attempted to speak, but was told to shut up by another familiar voice to my side.
"We'll decide when you speak, Slytherin. Now tell us, what are you doing sneaking around here? What exactly was your bunch planning today? Going to ambush us behind Zonko's, was it?"
This was just absurd. I brought my hands up to bring down the hood of my cloak, but Ron twitched his wand as a warning.
"Just answer the question."
I sighed, my initial fear now replaced by intense irritation.
"Yes, we were planning to ambush you behind Zonko's, and then we were planning on stealing your dad's car and crashing it into Hogwarts again as a finale," I replied sarcastically.
Recognizing my voice, Ron and Harry put down their wands, and I removed my hood.
"Bloody hell Hermione, I could have blasted you!" exclaimed a shocked Ron.
Harry was more suspicious. With his forehead furrowed, he stroked his chin. "Hermione, what in bloody hell were you doing walking alone and hooded in this part of Hogsmeade? Don't you know what's going to happen today? Didn't I tell you specifically to avoid this part of Hogsmeade?"
Ron eyed me curiously as well, waiting for my response.
"Uh well, I was going back to Hogwarts because my purse…well I needed it to buy quills and all, and uhh…" I began to use the excuse I had given Parvati and Padma, before quickly realizing it made no sense. On the fly, I came up with something better, my mind finally performing well under pressure.
"Actually, I was worried about you two. Worried about all of you, to be honest. I don't want to see you guys getting hurt."
The suspicious looks on their faces were replaced with ones of annoyance. Ron even rolled his eyes.
"God, you snuck all the way over here just to tell us to be careful? Ugh." Harry was less than amused.
"Yeah, we're not kids anymore, 'Mione. We can take care of ourselves, it's the Slytherins you should be worried about."
I continued to play my part. "Yes but think about the consequences---"
Harry cut me off. "Okay, look, if this is all you have to say, then we don't have the time to hear it. We have things planned, okay? Don't worry." He began to walk away, donning his invisibility cloak.
Ron looked at me. "This was really stupid, to sneak over here by yourself. You think you can get back to the main path without getting in trouble?"
I nodded, and he nodded back, before heading off squeeze underneath Harry's cloak.
I let out a sigh of relief as I watched them leave. Taking extra precaution this time, I inched forward towards the side entrance of Sinclair's. Just like Pansy said, there was a basement door in the back, down a small flight of stairs. I wondered if Pansy was already inside. Descending down the stairs, I reached the door, and began to turn the knob when I felt something breathe on the back of my neck.
"That was pretty impressive, Granger."
Again, I whirled around, but instead of finding a wand in my face, I found…nothing.
"P----P---Pansy?" I whispered.
With abrupt suddenness, she appeared, sitting on the stairs, looking down at me with mussed-up hair and a bemused expression. Only the top part of her body was visible, the rest, I realized, was covered by an invisibility cloak.
God, I really needed to get one of those.
Seeing my startled expression, she laughed. Nodding towards her cloak, she explained, "Got it for my 12th birthday. Followed you the whole way."
"You did?" I replied. That explained the footsteps I had kept hearing behind me.
She nodded and grinned. "You looked so silly running through the forest, like you were some sort of soldier. But that lie you told Harry and Ron was pretty good. I was worried for a minute, I thought I'd have to intervene to help you out, and that probably wouldn't have gone over well."
I could imagine. "No, it wouldn't have."
We were still for a second, me just standing there and her just sitting there, looking at each other, until she broke up the awkwardness by rising to her feet and walking up to the basement door.
Cracking the door open, she beckoned, "Well, no point in wasting time, is there? Come on, I want to show you this place."
I followed her in. Obviously, the idea of meeting in the basement of an abandoned building had not garnered any high expectations, so I was pleasant surprised to find the basement nicer than I would expect. Two massive bookshelves dominated the room, and a well worn couch and table were placed between them. There were boxes of rubbish in the corner, but on the whole, it was all pretty nice.
Pansy was obviously happy. "Isn't it nice? Don't you think its nice, Hermione?"
I was confused. "Yeah, but how? Didn't you say this building is abandoned?"
Her smile grew even wider. "It is."
"Then who maintains all this?"
"I do." She said it with a great deal of pride.
I must have still looked confused, so she explained further.
"I come here everytime we go to Hogwarts. I also sneak out here sometimes on weekends, which is where the cloak comes in handy."
Her smile transformed into a somewhat mischievous grin. "Ah, that's what I wanted to show you." She beckoned me to follow her as she walked towards the wall on the far side of basement.
"You see, I found this basement accidentally when I was 11, while we were playing hide and seek. I was looking for Millicent, and I thought I heard a noise or something. Anyway, this part of the basement was pretty dusty and messy, and I would have never stayed and come back except, well, I found something else," she explained. She reached the far side of the wall and tapped it with her wand. A door appeared, and she muttered an incantation to magically unlock it.
"The stuff inside this room all may seem pretty normal to you, but you can imagine what it was like for me when I was only 11, especially given my upbringing."
I was now even more puzzled. She opened the door and invited me to go in first. This second room was fantastically well maintained, with a fine wooden desk and spotless carpet. It was obvious Pansy had put a lot of effort into it. The room was very narrow but also dominated by shelves of stuff, shelves that held something else instead of books. I moved closer to see what they were holding, and gasped.
Video tapes. And records. And compact discs. All meticulously organized. And then Pansy moved towards the end of the room, and cast a spell with her wand, and a cabinet appeared. It held an old heavy TV, with a VCR sitting on top of it. Next to it was a stereo. This was a room full of muggle things!
She moved beside me. "Do you see? THIS is what I wanted to show you."
I was speechless. "But, but…this is all muggle stuff!"
"Yes, it is."
She shrugged. "It was all here when I found it. Old Sinclair was probably a Muggle enthusiast or something."
She looked confused. "Why what?"
"Why would you do all this? Clean it up and organize it and hide it and everything."
She shook her head. "Don't you see? I saved all this stuff, because, you know, I like it." She gave out a brief, bitter laugh. "Can you imagine, me, a Slytherin, with my family, liking this kind of stuff? I almost don't believe it myself."
"You like it? Muggle stuff?"
She nodded. "Yeah, the movies, the music and the books. The books outside are all Muggle ones. I, you know, I just really found it all very interesting." She was speaking defensively.
I was still in shock. I had read this girl's diary for a week, and still hadn't the slightest inkling of this. "Who else have you shown this to?"
"Ha! Just you, of course. Who else could I show this to? Draco? Millicent? My parents? Only if I had a death wish."
I took a deep breath, as this all began to make sense. "Pansy, why did you want to show this to me?"
Her face became serious. She stared me straight in the eyes and put her hand on my shoulder. "I wanted you to know who I was. I'm not really, you know, the girl who was so mean to you for so long. It's just that when you come from my family and are placed in Slytherin, you have to behave a certain way."
This sounded familiar. She had mentioned something similar in a diary entry.
"And I know I've told you this before, but I just really wanted to show you, so you could really see who I am. All that stuff about blood and everything, I could care less. I'm not like the other Slytherins." She put her other hand on my other shoulder and sighed. "I really, really like muggle things, and I really, really like…umm," her eyes were locked with mine---I had forgotten how green they were, "I really like uhh…" she sighed again softly, scanning my face for a sign before finally just going ahead, "…you."
Outside, I could hear a prefect began to yell. But inside, it was all Pansy.