"What the bloody hell is HE doing here?" Ron Weasley asked, screwing up his face like he was sucking on a lemon. He was not very happy to see a certain former junior Death Eater enter the Great Hall.
Everyone turned and followed Draco Malfoy as he progressed to the Slytherin table, where he took a seat next to Blaise Zabini. He still looked like a smug jackass and no one was surprised.
"I can't believe he would even show his face around here!" Harry said, watching Blaise slap Malfoy on the back in a friendly manner. "After what he did last year, he should be in Azkaban."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "He has every right to be here, and you know it!"
"But he tried to kill me last year!" Ron exclaimed, almost shouting at her. How dare she stick up for that arrogant turd!
"It's a pity that he didn't try a little harder!" Hermione snapped back, giving him a dirty look.
"You're not still angry about what happened this summer, are you?" Ron asked with a frown. "I told you I was sorry."
Hermione's eyes just about popped out of her head. "Still angry? STILL ANGRY! You bet your cheating ass I'm still angry! You thought you could kiss another girl and I would just forgive you?"
"Shhhh!" Harry said. "You're making a scene!" Everyone had stopped what they were doing to watch the heated exchange between Ron and Hermione with interest.
Draco paused in the middle of his conversation with Pansy and looked over at the Gryffindor table. He narrowed his eyes at Hermione, who was obviously in a heated argument with the Weasel. It was all so very interesting.
"But it was a mistake!" Ron said in a pleading voice, silently begging for Hermione to understand. "I told you it won't ever happen again."
Hermione stood up and threw her pumpkin juice in Ron's face. "You're damn right it won't ever happen again because we're through!"
Draco watched her stalk out of the Great Hall, her strides making the hem of her skirt sway seductively around her thighs. "It's going to be an interesting year," he said to Blaise. The conversation went back to normal and no one paid any attention when Draco exited the hall a few minutes later.
Hermione ran down the hall and took refuge inside the girls bathroom. She clung to the sink and glared at herself in the mirror. "How could he do this to me?" she cried. "I thought he loved me!" She tangled her hands in her hair and screamed at the top of her lungs.
"Holy fuck Granger," A voice suddenly said.
Hermione whirled around in surprise. "Malfoy!" She aimed her wand at him with a shaky hand.
He was peering in the door, and as she watched, he opened it all the way and stepped in. "Frustrated?"
Hermione backed up until she felt her bottom graze the sink. "W... what are you doing! This is the GIRLS bathroom!" Her mind was racing with various thoughts. Here she was, alone with Malfoy. He could hurt her, and no one would know of her whereabouts.
"Relax, Granger," Draco said, leaning on the wall. "I'm not going to hurt you."
The hungry look in his gray eyes told Hermione different. "If you're not going to hurt me, then what?" She steadied her hand and aimed her wand into his face. "What do you want, Malfoy?"
Draco smirked. "That remains to be seen, Granger," he said, walking slowly towards her. He noticed the look of sheer panic in her eyes and was very pleased.
Hermione's heart was pounding as he towered over her. He was very tall and intimidating. "Get away from me," she said, calmly. "Before I hex you." She was now bent over the sink backwards as far as she could go. She had to lower her wand, just to keep her balance.
Draco leaned in so close that his mouth was almost touching hers. She could feel his hot breath on her lips; her legs were shaking unsteadily, threatening to give out from underneath her. He looked into her eyes as if searching for something.
Hermione thought she must be going insane because unless she was mistaken, Malfoy was going to kiss her!
Draco licked his lips and inwardly smiled as he saw Hermione close her eyes. He grabbed the back of her head and...
When nothing happened, Hermione's eyes shot open. He was just staring at her. She looked at him, confused. He winked at her, released her head, and then left without another word.
After a minute, she went to the door, opened it and looked out into the hall. He was nowhere to be seen. "Did that just happen?" she asked, fearing she was going insane and had imagined the entire thing. She went over to the sink, turned on the facet, and splashed water on her flushed face, and then she decided to go lie down for a little while.
The day was sunny and warm, and Hermione stripped off her socks and shoes, and plunged her feet into the cool water of the Black Lake. She was lounging and totally relaxed when the person she least wanted to see sat down next to her.
"Nice legs, Granger. A bit pasty but well shaped."
Hermione looked over at him and frowned. "Go fuck yourself, Malfoy."
"Are you EVER in a good mood, or are you always a bitch?"
Hermione's jaw dropped. "How dare you!" She pulled her feet from the water and stood up.
Draco gazed up at her, a grin plastered on his amused face. "Has no one ever bothered to tell you the truth?"
"What would you know about telling the truth?"
"Plenty. I LOVE telling people the truth. For example, you are a stuck up, frizzy-headed prude. You flaunt your oversized brain; you have absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever, and you have a really hot body that you hide because you want people to like you for your mind and not your nice rack..."
"Just shut up!"
Draco smirked. "And last, but not least," he continued, ignoring her, "you are the biggest bitch in the world! I just came over here to have a decent conversation with you, and right away you treat me like shit!"
Hermione pursed her lips angrily, gathered her socks and shoes and started to stomp off.
"Oh, Granger! You dropped something!"
She turned around and saw him holding up one of her shoes. Walking over, she snatched it from his long fingers.
"You might want to say thank you," he said, raising his eyebrow mockingly.
Instead of thanking him, Hermione slapped him in the head with the shoe and yelled, "The day I thank you for anything will be the day Hippogriffs fly out of my ass!"
Draco rubbed the top of his head as he watched her walk away. "I love you too!" he shouted to her retreating back.
She paused, her heart hammering in her chest. She was about to turn around when she heard him laugh. "God, I hate that boy!" she said through clenched teeth and continued walking toward the school.
"I need to get some lacewing flies from the cupboard. I'm all out," Hermione said to Harry, who was sitting next to her in Potions class.
Harry paid no attention to her; he was concentrating on not blowing himself up while mixing his potion.
Hermione stepped into the small cramped room and climbed the ladder. She was about to reach for the flies when a voice floated up from below her. She jumped and almost came tumbling down.
"I never thought you would be the type to wear black knickers with tiny Golden Snitches embroidered on them!"
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Hermione said, quickly descending the ladder carefully.
"I haven't decided yet, Granger."
The room was too small for two people, and she realized that in order to get out, she would have to touch some part of his body. This repulsed her and excited her at the same time. "Please move so that I can get through the door."
Hermione glared at his smug face. "Fine!" she said, clutching the box of lacewing flies tightly. She took a deep breath and tried to slide past him. Being the bastard that he was, Hermione was not surprised when he pressed his body up against hers. She was in a state of pure panic when she realized that she could feel his erection through her robes. The harder she tried to squeeze through, the harder he pushed up against her.
"Stop struggling, Granger, and maybe I'll let you through." His voice sounded deep and husky. He cupped her chin and lifted her head up.
Hermione immediately stopped moving and looked at him. His face was flushed and his eyes were very dark. He looked so damn sexy with his pale hair that cascaded across his forehead.
He was bringing his lips down to meet hers when they were interrupted.
"Time is up! Cork your flasks and bring the samples to my desk!" Professor Slughorn said loudly.
Hermione shook the fog from her head and pushed Draco out of the way. She dropped the box and almost fell in her haste to get away from him.
"Where have you been?" Harry asked. "You were gone forever!"
Hermione glanced over at Draco's table to find him sitting there. He was acting as though nothing had happened. "I couldn't find the flies," she lied. "Must be out of them."
"I'm going to bed. All this studying has fried my brain!" Ginny said, yawning. "Coming?"
Hermione looked up from her notes. "No. I think I'll stay a little longer."
"See you at breakfast," Ginny said and left out of the library.
Hermione was deeply engrossed in her notes when someone slipped their hands over her eyes.
Hermione put down her quill. "Is it an arrogant jackass who likes to corner women in small closets and rub their private parts on them?"
"How'd you know?" Draco said, sitting down next to her.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Can I ask you something that has been bothering me for the last week?"
"Why are you sexually harassing me?"
Draco put his hand over his heart and pretended to swoon. "You think I'm sexually harassing you?"
Hermione shifted in her seat and looked him directly in the eyes. "Yes."
Draco leaned in and whispered in her ear. "It's only harassment if you don't like it, and I think you LOVE it!" He smiled in her face. "Don't you?"
Hermione's cheeks were suddenly burning. "I think YOU love it! You're the one who has tried to kiss me... not once... but twice!"
Draco leaned back in the chair. "Who says I was going to kiss you?"
"Well, weren't you?"
"I would never kiss you," Draco said with a sneer. "You disgust me and I hate you."
Hermione snapped her book shut and gathered her things. "Well, if you hate me so much, then leave me the hell alone!" she hissed angrily.
"But, Granger, it's so much fun to bother you!" He was rocking on the back legs of the chair, arms behind his head, trying to look cool. "And I think I'll continue to bother you whether you want me to or not."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "When are you going to grow up? One would think you would have gotten tired of acting like an immature prick a long time ago!"
"I really never knew you had such a filthy mouth, Granger. Kind of turns me on." Suddenly, he felt the front legs of his chair collapse from under him. He hit the floor with a thud, and quick as a flash Draco grabbed her by her arm.
Hermione frantically looked around for help, but the library appeared to be deserted. There was no sign of Hogwarts' libarian, Madam Pince, who was always near by. She would never leave the library unattended. "Take your damn hands off me now, Malfoy, or I'll scream!"
Draco smirked at her arrogantly. "No, you won't."
Hermione gave him a malevolent smile. "You bet your sweet ass I will."
"You think I have a sweet ass, Granger?" Draco said, pulling her close. "My lips are sweeter still." He slowly brought his mouth down to hers.
To Hermione's horror, and Draco's surprise, she kissed him back.
After leaving the library, Draco made his way to the Slytherin common room. He was reliving the last half hour of his life in vivid detail. He had NEVER thought she would actually kiss him back, let alone make out with him for as long as she did. Things had definitely gone too far. All he had wanted to do was piss Hermione off, not almost have sex with her!
Lately he had become bored with his life, and harassing Granger was entertaining. Why her? Because she was an easy target. It didn't take much to set her off, and he so enjoyed watching her when she got angry. It was fun, and after the horrifying events that had occurred at Hogwarts last year, he needed to have some fun again. There was also the fact that he secretly sort of kind of liked the girl.
He approached the door, but instead of going in, he paced the hall. "That can never happen again," he said to himself. "I have to keep my distance." He knew that after what had just happened, it was not going to be easy to stay away from Granger.
"Ginny! GINNY!" Hermione called, running into the sixth-year girls dorm room, where Ginny, along with two other girls, resided. "Have you seen Ginny?" she asked the startled raven-haired girl.
"I think she went to your room to look for you actually," she replied.
"Thanks!" Hermione said and rushed to her room. She found Ginny lying on the bed, flipping through a magazine.
"Where have you been? At the library all this time? That's a lot of studying, even for you." Ginny took one look at Hermione's flushed face and immediately knew something was not right. "What's wrong? What happened?" she asked, concerned.
Hermione took a deep breath before responding. "If I tell you something, do you promise not to repeat a word of it?"
"Cross my heart!" Ginny said excitedly. "Tell me! Tell me!"
"Well, for the last week, this certain person has been... I don't know what to actually call it..." She searched for the right words. "Coming on to me, I guess you could say."
Ginny's jaw dropped and her eyes widened. "What? Who?" Hermione never talked about her love life... or lack there of, and it was more than exciting that she was finally spilling the beans.
"I don't want to say just yet."
"Why?" The disappointment in Ginny's voice was clear.
"Let me tell you what just happened, and then I'll tell you who it is," Hermione sighed.
"All right." Ginny was beyond curious. Clearly this person, whomever it was, was someone who her friend was fond of. Why else would she be glowing with happiness?
Ginny impatiently listened as Hermione told her of the 'encounters' with Malfoy, but deliberately left out his name, and by the time she had finished telling her what had just happened in the library, Ginny was certain that Hermione was in love with this man.
"Okay, now tell me who it is," Ginny said, blue eyes gleaming as she wrung her hands in anticipation.
Hermione's eyes fell to the floor uncertainly, and she said in a small voice, "Malfoy." She glanced up, expecting Ginny to shout at her.
Ginny was grateful that she was still sitting on the bed and not standing up. Otherwise, she would have collapsed on the floor. "Are you telling me that you just kissed... ew! That you touched..." Ginny was grossed out beyond belief. "Malfoy?" she asked, trying not to gag.
Hermione started to cry. "I knew you'd react this way! I shouldn't have told you!" she exclaimed frantically.
Ginny jumped off the bed and put her arms around Hermione. "I'm sorry. It just came as a shock to me. That's all!" she patted her back, trying to keep the sound of pure disgust out of her voice.
"I just had to tell someone." Hermione said, drying her tears. "I don't know what to do!"
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "Do? There is nothing TO DO! Obviously, Malfoy is just trying to get to you."
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, confused.
Ginny sighed. "He's toying with you, Hermione. This is all just some game. Clearly, he's playing with your emotions just for the hell of it. Do you honestly think Malfoy has real feelings for you?"
Hermione looked at her best friend in disbelief. "Is it so hard to believe that a man would actually like me? Am I that hideous?"
"I didn't mean it like that! All I'm saying is that this is Malfoy we're talking about. You know... the evil vile bastard that has tortured you for years? Why would he all of a sudden want to get into your knickers?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" Hermione shouted in frustration.
Just then, the door opened and Parvati and Lavender strolled in. "What's all the shouting about?" Parvati asked, looking for some good gossip.
"None of your business!" Hermione said angrily.
"Jeez! Sorrrryyy!" Parvati said, rolling her eyes.
"I'm going to go," Ginny said. "Think about what I said. I'm only looking out for you. I don't want to see you get hurt."
"I'm big enough to take care of myself, thanks," Hermione said as she walked to the door with Ginny and then closed the door behind her.
I don't want to be late for the unveiling ceremony! Hurry up!" Ron said, speeding away.
Harry and Hermione struggled to keep up with the long-legged strider as they walked swiftly through the corridors. "I wonder what it is?" Harry asked curiously.
"Whatever it is, it has to be something wonderful. After all, Dumbledore was a great man," Hermione said, a little breathless.
"I bet it's a statue dedicated to him," Ron said excitedly.
"That's boring! I bet it's a new wing for the school or something," Hermione said as they joined the crowd at the front entrance. There was a huge sheet that was draped over a large object that stood in the corner, and all the students looked up at it in awe.
"I told you it was a statue!" Ron said to her smugly.
Hermione ignored him. The less she spoke to him these days, the better. They were trying to retain a friendship, but it was very difficult, and they fought even more now than before. She wished daily that their relationship had never happened and that things would go back to the way they were before. Of course, there was no way to go back in time... anymore. They had broken the entire supply of Time-Turners during the battle at the Ministry, and for some reason, they had never been replaced.
"I wish they would fucking get on with this dumb-ass ceremony! I have important things to do!" Hermione froze when she heard Draco's voice so close to hers. She tried to will herself not to turn around, but it was a fruitless attempt.
"What ARE you looking at, Mudblood?" Draco said to her. "You are not ALLOWED to look at me, you ugly, fuzzy headed chipmunk, so turn the hell back around!" He tried to say it in a vicious way, and he hoped his remark sounded genuine because he didn't mean it at all.
Hermione glared at him. He sure sounded like his old bastard self, but his eyes told her something different. "I'll look at you if I want to, not that you're much to look at, that is," she said with a smile and turned around.
"Can I have your attention please?" Professor McGonagall said over the noisy crowd. "Silence!" she shouted and then the crowd fell silent. "That's better! The unveiling will now begin. As you all well know, Albus Dumbledore was... was... the greatest wizard who ever lived, and I hope this memorial does him justice."
Filch grabbed the sheet and pulled it off. There were gasps and then some snickers from the crowd. It was a huge grandfather clock that stood from the floor to ceiling.
"A clock?" Draco sneered. "The greatest wizard of all time deserves a CLOCK?" He then laughed along with his cronies.
"Silence!" Professor McGonagall said angrily. "I want to thank the Unspeakables from the Department of Mysteries, who built this clock. Albus, before he died, had asked them to build him a magnificent time piece. I think they went above and beyond..." She wiped the tears from her eyes. "Everyone may queue up if they so desire to read the plaque."
Harry, Hermione and Ron lined up and then read the words together: 'you'll never get anywhere else if yoU don't leave where you are now.' After reading the inscription, they looked at each other in bewilderment.
"What the bloody hell does that mean?" Ron asked. "And why is the letter 'u' in the word 'you' bigger than the other letters?"
"I haven't the faintest idea," Harry answered, reading the words again.
"Those are the exact words Albus requested to be inscribed on the clock," Professor McGonagall said to them. "Strange, I know." The clock suddenly chimed so loudly that everyone covered their ears.
"How am I supposed to sleep with all this racket?" Draco said.
"He has a point you know!" Ron said after overhearing Draco's last words. "He needs a good night's sleep so he can get up early to wash and dry his hair," he added sarcastically.
Draco shot him a dirty look. Without another word, he turned and walked toward the dungeons.
It was midnight and Hermione lay in her bed, listening to the clock chime. It was the fourth night in a row that this had happened, and she was starting to wonder what it all meant. There was something about that clock, something strange and mysterious. It beckoned her to come closer, like it knew and wanted her. She decided to have a closer look.
Early in the morning, she made her way to the entrance hall and silently stepped over the red-velvet rope that blocked off the clock. She peered closely at the dark walnut finish, noticing a flaw on one side.
With a shaky hand, she pushed the panel forward, and it opened. "A secret room?" she whispered and stepped inside. It was small and dark and smelled like a tomb. "Weird," she said, feeling the walls. They were smooth like marble and cool to the touch.
Hermione wanted to light her wand, but thought that it was to close to breakfast time and didn't want to get caught being out so early. She gave the walls one last feel, and then stepped back out into the hall. After shutting the panel, she stepped over the rope and stood there, starring at the clock. "What do you want?" she asked it.
"Talking to a clock. Now there's a sign of insanity," Draco said, coming up the stairs. He stopped next to her and after a moment of silence, climbed over the rope. "There is something creepy about this clock, don't you think?" he asked her, eyeing the clock warily.
Hermione was startled. "What do you mean?" she asked, wondering if he too felt the strangeness of the device.
"For one thing, the pendulum doesn't swing."
Hermione's eyes opened wide at the new revelation. "I never noticed that!" She looked, and sure enough it wasn't moving, but the hands on the clock face were working just perfectly.
Draco's fingers slid over the shiny wood as if feeling for something he thought was there. "Aha!" he cried at last and pressed the secret panel. "Right where it said it would be."
"Right where who said it would be?" Hermione asked, confused and a little frightened.
"The CLOCK told you where to find the hidden door?" Hermione scoffed in disbelief.
Draco smirked at her. "Every night since the unveiling, I've had a dream about this clock."
Hermione's heart fluttered. "You have? I've been waking up at midnight, just as the clock chimes. I know I was having a strange dream, but I can never remember it!" She shook her head to clear her mind.
He closed the panel and walked to the front of the clock. "In my dream, I wake up and come down here. It's like the clock is calling to me or something. The rope isn't here, and I just walk over and stare at the clock just like I'm doing now." He paused and then turned around. "It whispers to me that I have to find the door, so I feel the sides until I find it."
"What happens?" Hermione asked, intrigued.
"I open it and step inside. The door closes, and I'm plunged into total darkness just as the clock chimes midnight." Draco stepped over the rope. "And then I wake up."
Suddenly noise filled the halls as students began to wake and head towards the Great Hall for breakfast.
"Meet me here at 11:30 tonight," Draco said and rushed off so that he wouldn't be seen talking to her.
"Tonight," Hermione said softly. She glanced once more at the unmoving pendulum and hurried off to the Great Hall.
The day passed slowly for Hermione. It was Sunday and therefore boring. There was nothing to do, but hang around the Gryffindor common room. Hermione didn't feel like watching Ron and Harry play YET another game of wizards chess, and listening to Ginny's constant degrading comments about how Draco was an ass was not an option. The library, her only refuge, was where she decided to spend her afternoon. Perhaps she could find some useful information about dreams.
Hermione leafed through a huge volume of dream interpretations. She found quite a few things that made her heart leap into her throat. "To dream of a clock signifies the importance of time or that time is running out. Clocks are representative of death, especially if the clock has stopped." Hermione inwardly moaned.
She flipped through the pages until she found the next subject of Draco's dream. "Chimes," she read out loud, "represent memories or the passage of time." She rolled her eyes. "That's not much help!"
"D... where's the D's?" Her eyes scrolled down the glossary page until she found what she was looking for. "To dream that you are groping around in the darkness symbolizes that you have insufficient information to make a clear decision." She paused, quill in her mouth. "I wonder what decision that is?"
She then searched for the word 'door.' Finding it, she went on to read: "The door signifies new opportunities. You are entering into a new stage in your life and moving from one level of consciousness to another." She shut the book with a snap. "So... death, time, insufficient information and a new opportunity. I have no idea what it all means together," she muttered to herself in frustration. She looked at her watch, 10pm, an hour and a half left before her meeting with Malfoy. She decided to go ahead and wait for him by the clock.
It was almost 11:30, and Draco made his way to the entrance hall. To his surprise, Hermione was already there. "I couldn't wait." She smiled shyly.
Draco smirked. "Couldn't wait to see me? Or couldn't wait to investigate the clock?"
Hermione blushed. "Investigate the clock of course!"
Draco wiggled his eyebrows. "Whatever you say, Granger, but you and I both know..."
"Shut up! We're not here to fight," Hermione said, feeling a little irate. "We're here to get to the bottom of this mystery." 'Oh, great, now I sound like Velma from the television show, Scooby Doo!' she thought sarcastically.
"Right!" Draco said, trying to act serious.
"By the way, I looked up your dream in a dream dictionary..."
"Shhh! Listen!" Draco said, interrupting Hermione as he concentrated, listening to the high pitch mewling of a cat, Mrs. Norris, and then heavy footsteps in the distance approaching closer. "Filch!"
They both scrambled to the secret door, and it shut behind them, plunging them into total darkness.
"What did you hear, Mrs. Norris? Students out after curfew?" Filch asked the cat.
To Draco and Hermione's dismay, the caretaker sat down on the steps and started humming to himself.
It was almost midnight, and Filch still hadn't moved.
"Doesn't that stupid Squib ever sleep?" Draco whispered harshly.
"Get your hand off my ass, Malfoy!" Hermione hissed just above a whisper.
"No, I like it right where it is!"
Hermione was about to slap him when the clock started to chime loudly. They both put their hands over their ears. It seemed like the noise went on forever. When it finally stopped, Hermione pushed the door open, not caring whether Filch was still there or not. She needed to get out.
Draco thought she had the right idea and started after her. His escape was thwarted, however, when he abruptly bumped into her back. "What the fuck? Move it, Granger!"
Hermione didn't move, but stayed rooted where she was standing. "Malfoy? I think we have a slight problem," she said, trying to remain calm as she felt a wave of panic come over her.
Draco pushed her aside and stepped out of the door. His jaw dropped at their surroundings. "Where the hell are we, Granger?"
to be continued...