Author's Note: I don't put much stock in author's notes, though I suppose they have their uses. Hence my using one.
For starters... This doesn't have the integrity of its predecessors. If they were ten-dollar fics, this is a two-dollar fic. But I hope that I will be able to succeed in making it fun.
This story occurs somewhere, at some point, before a lot of things have happened, and after other things, as most fics tend to do. That's the whole idea, isn't it? Rebelling quietly against what the author intended when it doesn't meet the most precise of our expectations?
I have come to realize that what I like about fan fiction is the ability to take other people's characters and settings and play around with them. That and the fact that I don't have to plan anything, because the story can just wander like a lost child in a supermarket and no one will really care.
So I've hijacked these characters and dared to try to get in their heads first person, which leaves a lot of space for me screwing up bad. I'll do my best. And I know, I know, I know that this same old scenario has been replayed countless times, but here's to one more worthless writer trying to pass the time. And trying to procrastinate on said writer's homework.
Once more into the breach, dear friends.
I could feel it slipping away. Sleep, I mean. There was some unidentified creature, or concept, or thought out there, in the darkness of my unsettled mind, and it was pulling steadily on the rope, hand over hand, uninterrupted and unceasing, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Perhaps I could have caught that rope, the end that was rapidly disappearing into the blackness of the tunnel. Perhaps I could even have found a knot tied in the coarse fibers of it, and latched onto it like a lifesaver in a hurricane, and yanked back with all of my might. But either way, however much I'd tried, whatever ludicrous excuses for stratagems I'd tried to apply, I would have lost that little tug-of-war. The rope would have burned the skin right off of my palms, stripped them clean, left me bleeding and empty-handed, and the sandman, that cruel, cruel master of sleep, wouldn't have cared a whit.
Sleep is a little bit like love, in that way.
Bleeding, and empty-handed.
It was absurd. You'll agree. Of course you will. It was the half-mad fancy of a lonely little girl, and you'll know it, and you'll laugh at me, just like everyone else would if they knew.
I can't blame them for their prospective laughter. It's all very risible. Ha, ha, ha. Stupid little girl. Doesn't she know anything outside of her stupid little books? Doesn't she know that there's a world out there, and that long words and little facts and teachers taken in by her endless efforts won't help her when the chips are down and the cards are dealt?
Of course I knew that. Of course I knew the terror that skulked, leering, in the back of my mind, waiting for me to turn some corner and walk down some shadowy hallway so that it could pounce and rip my articulate little throat right out. Dear God, how could I possibly not know the face of my tormentor?
But I digress.
Allow me to couch it in clichés. I will begin thusly:
Once upon a time, a princess (that's right; princess, I said) with beautiful golden curls (not stupid, ugly brown hair that revolted against the hairbrush at every opportunity) and lovely blue eyes the color of summer sunlight on a gentle pool (do I have to clarify that her eyes were most certainly not brown?) met a handsome prince, and the two fell deeply in love, and there were no wicked step-mothers or evil witches (though a lot of average, overwhelmingly human ones happened to be around) or talking bunny rabbits. And then the handsome prince… Who knew what the handsome prince was thinking? Stupid blighter of a handsome prince; I'd lop his head off if it wasn't so handsome; I'd…
I'm not convincing you, am I?
I didn't think so.
Let me try a different cliché. "It all began," they start. Here we go; one more try.
It all began one sunny afternoon when I was on the way back from… something. Some sort of… Oh. I remember. I was on the way back from the one place where no one ever cared to tag along: the bathroom. Consequently, I was alone for once. And that was when a handsome prince, or at least a daunting aristocrat, by the name of Draco Malfoy happened to stroll by.
Now, I had taken a lot of his off-the-cuff insults, the little cruelties peppered with a jealous four-year-old's spite, the snide comments and the sneers and the snickering behind my back. I was used to "Mudblood," finally; it was petty and it didn't mean anything, really. I was used to the immature little things he didn't even try anymore, like "Know-It-All" and "Rabbit-Teeth" and whatever else his paltry arsenal encompassed. But today, for whatever reason, Draco Malfoy, endowed at birth with a name entitling him to mete out hurt feelings as he saw fit, said something that surpassed anything he'd said before.
"Whore," he remarked, almost to himself, as we passed by, close enough that the movement fluttered the fabric of our clothing on either side.
I stopped. I turned around. And I looked at him—or, more accurately, at his retreating back.
"What did you call me?" I demanded.
He turned as well, to face me—slowly, lazily, uncaring, unconcerned, uncouth. I hated him. Hated him, hated him, hated him; him and his lightning-blond hair and his devil-may-care little smirk. The bastard. The absolute bastard.
"You heard me," he declared calmly.
I wanted to slap him. I wanted to slap that nasty smirk right off of his nasty face and beat the nasty thoughts and the nasty words right out of his head with it. I didn't care about wands, I didn't care about magic; I wanted to hit him and feel his skin give under my palm and watch it redden where my hand had been. I wanted to do it personally.
And then… I was. And I had. And I was standing back staring at him in utter amazement, staring at the blossoming pink marks on his cheek, unable to believe that I'd put them there.
He blinked. Then his eyes narrowed to slits, reducing him to one of the feral creatures that lurked in the forests of nightmares, bright eyes glinting coldly and mercilessly from between the trees. It was a very difficult thing to meet those eyes.
"How dare you," he spat. "You—"
I will allow you to fill in the worst word you can think of, the word that would hurt you the most of any in the dictionary or outside of it, because the effect that such a word would have on you would be the one that his word had on me.
I felt tears in my eyes, sharp tears, hard tears, edged like diamonds. They were tears of outrage, of helplessness, of anger and of anguish and of a thousand things at once, and it was then that I did something I'm not proud of.
"You bastard!" I screamed at him, ignoring the replications of my voice against the walls, the echoes that would surely reach some teacher, the reverberations damning me with their audibility. "You have no right to say something so horrible to me, and you know it, you fucking bastard! You have never had any right to say things like that to me, and you are petty, and mean, and you are a fucking bastard besides, and I'd kill you if it was legal, and you're a stupid asshole son of a bitch and I wish you were dead!"
Dignified, I know.
Accordingly, Draco Malfoy threw his head back and laughed. It was a jackal's laugh, sadistic and oh-so pleased. The pink space imprinted by my hand had widened and refined itself into a fairly recognizable shape with five fingers. If that didn't fade from his pale, uppity little cheek, someone would be asking about it.
"You think," Draco Malfoy said then, managing to gasp the words out between gales of laughter, "that if you throw a few four-letter words at me, I'm going to curl up in a little ball of solid remorse and go home and be a good boy from now on?"
"'Bastard' has seven letters," I informed him, trying to stem more tears by keeping my voice steady, keeping it cold, keeping it infuriated. "Since you apparently can't count past five."
"Oh, touché," he crowed. "That was truly brilliant. Granger…" He wiped tears of mirth from his eyes. He was so damn complacent. "Get a life. Get a sodding life, and get a sodding brain to go with it, you bloody idiot."
He turned his back on me and walked away.
Well, he tried to. His attempt was interrupted by the fact that I tackled him to the floor by the ankles and began to hit him in the face.