Chapter 06 / Dancing in the Sheets
I sat, nervously twiddling my thumbs in Dumbledore's office while Fawkes eyed me over his breakfast. Never in my life had I gotten into trouble, and most especially never had I found myself being lectured and scolded by a teacher, let alone the Head Master of the most famous wizarding school in the history of magic. Sitting and waiting for Dumbledore was possibly the most nerve-racking experience of my life - at that point in my life, anyway. With the way my luck had been running, it was bound to get much, much worse. It wouldn't have been quite so bad, however, if Dumbledore hadn't kept me waiting an hour and a half. I didn't blame him though; calming a riot of angry Slytherins would understandably take some time and effort.
After a while, I began to wonder whether he was really coming at all and had forgotten about me; could Ginny's observations about the man be right? I shook my head, inwardly scolding myself for thinking such a terrible thought. He didn't keep me waiting forever, but he certainly took his time and I was relieved when he finally walked into his office and stiffly sat down in the chair behind his desk. He let out a long sigh of relief and I couldn't help the wave of guilt that ran through me. This was all my fault, all because I made some terribly stupid mistake and slept with the wrong guy, and now the school houses were pitted against each other and rioting even more than usual. This wasn't at all how my final year in Hogwarts was supposed to happen. I had a plan, dammit! How had everything gone so horribly, horribly wrong?
Dumbledore seemed to sense my nervousness at what was happening and finally leaned forward in his chair. "Miss Granger, this is certainly the last place I ever expected to see you."
"Professor Dumbledore, I can explain! It was a mistake, a stupid mistake. I didn't mean to sleep with Malfoy, honest. It wasn't even that good!" Oh, shit, 'Mione. You can't just keep your mouth shut, can you?
"Please, Professor, please don't expel me! I promise to follow the rules and be a good Head Girl. I won't even see Draco anymore! I'll pretend he doesn't exist! I-"
"I was born for this position. I have a plan, and my plan is ignore Draco!" It took me a few minutes to catch my breath after I'd just ranted insanely at the one person whose opinion mattered the most at that particular moment. Dumbledore didn't seem angry or annoyed at my insane outburst. If the circumstances had been different, the two of us completely different person looking on at the scene, I supposed it would actually be quite amusing. Nevertheless, Professor Dumbledore did not look amused. Instead, he looked…. patient.
"Are you quite finished, Miss Granger?" he asked gently. I sighed and looked at the wall.
"Yes." I mumbled sadly. He nodded.
"Good. Then let me first say that you are not expelled." I heaved a heavy sigh of relief. "In fact, you are not in trouble at all." Whaaaa? I stared at him quizzically.
"Not in trouble at all?" I asked. "But I slept with Draco Malfoy. I started a riot in the middle of the great hall. I'm underage and I drank alcohol." Lots of alcohol.
"Yes, you did." Professor Dumbledore agreed with a slight tilt of his head. I watched his glasses slide ever so slightly down his nose.
"You're not mad that the entire school is being torn apart over what I did?" I asked in disbelief. He sighed and leaned back in his chair and I unconsciously winced at the creaking sound of old wood.
"Certainly you don't think you're the first Gryffindor to have relations with a Slytherin?" he asked. I frowned. I hadn't really thought about that.
"Well, no. I suppose not." I admitted. I watched him carefully for a long moment. "Then you're not mad about this whole… Malfoy…. thing?" I asked him. He smiled.
"Not at all." he said with a small twinkle in his eye. "In fact, I think it's rather good for student relations." I gaped at him.
"Half the school just tried to kill each other!" I exclaimed. To my surprise he laughed. He laughed hard enough that he grew pink in the cheeks and had to lean back in his chair, gripping his chest. I watched him in wonder as he wiped a tear from his eye.
"It was quite funny, wasn't it?" he asked. I'm positive that my face began to twitch in disbelief. Dumbledore really had gone insane. He sighed. "Ms. Granger, how much do you know about the Malfoys'?"
"They're evil beyond recognition." I answered automatically. His eyebrows shot up as he gazed at me and I couldn't help but squirm under his gaze. "I mean, uh..."
"The Malfoys' have been in Slytherin for generations." he said. "As have most of the Mr. Malfoy's classmates." I frowned.
"I don't understand." I said. He let out a long, exhausted sigh and I felt another wave of guilt wash over me.
"No one wants to be evil Ms. Granger, but after years of death and pain, the soul gets twisted. So many lost souls; souls who don't have a chance." he said. He leaned forward and looked at me critically. "It seems that, perhaps, Mr. Malfoy is taking a chance on you." He grabbed a lemon drop from a bowl on his desk. "Lemon drop?" I laughed and shook my head. "Very well, Ms. Granger. You can go." I stood up reluctantly and walked towards the door, my legs impossibly stiff from being held taut for so long. "Oh, and Miss Granger?"
"Hmmm?" I stopped and looked back at him. He smiled at me, his eyes twinkling.
"The next time that you and Mr. Malfoy wish to... have relations..." he said, choosing his words carefully. I felt my neck grow hot and my cheeks burn. "Try to make a little less noise."
I left the headmaster's office numbly, his words swirling about in my head. No one wants to be evil. Perhaps Mr. Malfoy is taking a chance on you. Oh, and then there was Try to make a little less noise. I shook my head. The old man really had lost his mind. In any case, now that I knew I wasn't in trouble, I had more important things to worry about.
For one thing, half the school just tried to kill each other. That certainly wasn't going to make my job any easier. Then there was the fact that Draco was nowhere to be seen. Wait, that wasn't important. I shook her head, clearing Draco from my thoughts. No, I had classes, patrols, possible lynching, and Viktor to think about. Those things were important.
As I made my way down the hall to the staircases, passing an occasional student who would glare at me ruthlessly as though I were somehow worse than Voldemort, my stomach began to turn on itself. Every step I took back towards classes and classmates just made my palms more sweaty and my heart beat faster. I couldn't help being anxious. By now, news of, well, everything would have spread. Rumors would be started. The truth would be distorted and lost among a thousand lies. I shook my head in disgust. I hated gossip.
I wondered what the rumors would say for a long moment. What lie would be told about me? Then, I thought, should I really, really care? They were only rumors, I reasoned. They meant nothing in the end. They didn't change who I was. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe... maybe I could learn, I could teach myself not to let it bother me.
...certainly, it was what Draco had done all these years... wasn't it?
"Hermione!" I flinched. I knew that squeal. I looked over to see Ginny running towards me. "'Mione! 'Mione! 'Mione!" she was squealing, a big smile on her face. She tackled me and knocked me to the ground. "You should have seen it! It was bloody brilliant! There were hexes everywhere! People hitting each other! Those Slytherins are damned fine duelers!" she yelled. She rolled over and laughed. "Maybe I'll follow you and bag me one of them." I groaned.
"Ginny, I didn't mean to." I whined. I sighed and covered my face in my hands. "Is Ronald really mad at me?" She fell silent and I knew the answer. She put a hand on my shoulder comfortingly, though Ginny had brought me anything but comfort lately.
"Don't worry about that great prat." she said. "He doesn't take to change well. He'll get over it." I glanced at her and for the first time in the past few days, I appreciated her being my friend. "Once he realizes that being a total arse won't get him laid." Then again, maybe Ginny was a force unto herself that completely eluded classification of any kind. How had I never noticed that before? She grabbed my arm and pulled me up. "Come on, 'Mione. The Head Girl can't be late for class."
"Can you believe Rodney Sellers is coming to Hogwarts?" she asked, holding my arm as she walked with me to my next class. I frowned.
"Who?" I asked. She scowled at me.
"He's with the Chudley Cannons, remember?" she asked. "Honestly, 'Mione, it's not the first time you've heard this. You really need to keep up with current events."
"Oh." Ginny brushed some of her long red hair over her shoulder as she made her hips sway for some Hufflepuff boys as we passed. It was strange to see them almost angry with me and ogling Ginny at the same time.
"Anyway, he's coming the day after tomorrow, so everybody is throwing a party for him. I don't how that boy is going to survive the weekend." Is it wrong that I tuned Ginny out for most of the walk? "So I want to know what you think."
"Huh?" Ginny scowled at me. Obviously, I had missed something important. Damn. "I'm sorry, Gin. I really am."
"I just told you something in confidence and you didn't even hear me." she whined. I opened my mouth to apologize again, but she beat me to it. "Oh well, it doesn't matter. Come here, I have to tell you somewhere quiet." She directed me to a different hall and we turned around and started walking in a completely different direction. I frowned.
"Uh, Gin, where are we going?" I asked. She gave a Cheshire grin and I began to grow worried.
"You remember a few days ago, when I told you about Harry and I and how I was so bloody frustrated that we hadn't done anything yet?" she asked, directing me around another corner. My head started to hurt – this wasn't going to end well, was it?
"Yes." I said tentatively. I froze mid-step and stared at her with my jaw dropped. "Wait, you mean..." I couldn't even fathom it. I couldn't even say the words. "You mean... you and Harry?" She gave me possibly the widest smile I had ever seen on anyone. "W... wow." She laughed.
"And there's more!" she squealed. More? In the name of Merlin, please don't be- "HE'S SO BLASTED BAD AT IT!" she screamed. A couple of students who were passing by us stopped and glared at her for a moment before walking on at Ginny's equally, if not more, menacing glare. She turned back to me. "It was terrible. It was the worst sex I've ever had. It's like he didn't even have a penis." Woah. Now that's a bad review. I almost felt bad for Harry. I couldn't even imagine what kind of expectations he'd had to live up to. I ignored the fact that actually... I probably could. Draco... "Or maybe I didn't have a vagina." she said with a sigh as she fell against a wall.
"That... bad... huh?" What exactly are you supposed to say to someone in that situation? I'm sorry your partner is a terrible lover? She sighed and walked over to me, grabbing my arm and pulling me along.
"I'm not done yet." she said. I looked at her with worry.
"What do you mean?" I asked. She scowled.
"Just follow me." she said, pulling me towards a spiral staircase. It was then that I realized exactly where we were going. It was the same place that Ginny had taken me not so long ago, to find out about my misadventure with Draco Malfoy. I groaned as she tried to drag me up the stairs. I was not in the mood to pay a visit to Professor Trelawny.
"Gin..." I whined. She ignored me and gave my arm another yank, and I reluctantly gave in to her wishes, following up the staircase, my stomach growing more and more knotted with every step I took. It wasn't that I didn't like Professor Trelawny, it was just... the last time I was there, she had seen me in a rather compromising position with a classmate – teachers aren't supposed to condone, right? My head was starting to spin from everything that was happening.
We stumbled into the room to find Professor Trelawny sitting at her crystal ball and soaking in the incense, and I wondered briefly whether she had ever actually left at all and if she actually lived in that seat, gazing at peoples lives all day long. The thought sent shivers down my spine. Professor Trelawny's unusually grave expression seemed to brighten when she saw us, though I couldn't tell if she was actually happy, or perhaps trying to hide something else. Whatever the case, she didn't seem her normal self. I put the thought aside as Ginny ran forward and claimed a chair. She glared back at me and I tentatively moved forward, sitting down next to Ginny. She turned to Professor Trelawny brightly. "Okay, Professor, we're ready."
"Uh, Ginny... what are we doing here?" She gave me a stern look from the corner of her eye. I groaned as I watched Professor Trelawny begin what was apparently her routine. She waved some of the incense into her face and took a few long, deep breathes as she made low humming sounds. I glanced at Ginny, who looked thoroughly entranced by her motions. It was the second time I'd seen it and I still wasn't impressed by it in the least.
We watched as the ball began to grow hazy, clouds of fogs swashing back and forth. I tried to keep down the contents of my stomach warily as the incense grew particularly thick. And then it happened, just like before; an image slowly beginning to form. On my long list of things that I never expected or wanted to see in my lifetime, watching one of my best friends hump one of my other best friends ranked somewhere near the bottom of the list – until that moment. When I could finally make out Ginny's fiery red hair, it moved directly to top of the list. I made a quick mental note to go back and revise it later.
"Oh, Harry." Crystal Ball Ginny purred. I looked away quickly, scratching my head in embarrassment. This was so wrong.
"Umm... Ginny?" I squeaked out. "What exactly are we doing here?" Ginny frowned at me.
"Honestly, Hermione, stop being so shy." she scolded me. "You've slept with a Slytherin sex god! Stop scratching your head and help me critique him!" she snapped, grabbing my arm and pulling my chair closer. I'm sorry, what was that? Did you just say... critique?
"I beg your pardon?" I asked her, my disbelief clearly evident in my voice. I covered my eyes with my hand.
"Do you find it more pleasurable when you're in control, or do you prefer Draco on top?" Ginny asked, tilting her head to get a better view of her crystal ball self. "Because I think my technique is excellent. Perfect balance, poise, and I'm in the best position to ensure maximum pleasure for the both of us." Ginny explained. She growled and jabbed my arm. "Hermione!" She knocked my hand away from my eyes and I reluctantly looked at the crystal ball. "But look at Harry! He can't keep rhythm, he can't move right, and he's just so blasted... TINY!" Ginny screamed. I jumped as she slammed her hands down on the table. Yikes.
"Gin, maybe you should calm down." I suggested. She growled at me.
"Maybe I should learn an enlargement charm." Ginny murmured. "Do you think Harry would go for an enlargement charm?" she asked me. Enlargment charm?
"They make those?" I gaped. She stood up and started to pace, ignoring the exaggerated 'oooohs' and 'ahhhhhhs' coming from Professor Trelawny's table.
"Maybe!" Ginny exclaimed suddenly. "Maybe he could talk to Draco!" Ginny said. She grabbed my arm happily.
"What?" I jumped out of my seat in surprise.
"He could give him a few pointers!" Ginny said. Her eyes grew wide and she extended her bottom lip in a pitiful look. "Oh, please, 'Mione! Please talk to him! Please!" she whined. I flinched at the sad, pathetic look on her face.
"Gin, I don't think..."
"Come on 'Mione, you know I would do it for you." she said. I sighed, closing my eyes and wondering exactly how I'd gotten myself here. "Please..."
"Fine." I sighed. That same happy, Cheshire grin I'd seen earlier spread on her lips as she let out another loud squeal of happiness. She wrapped her arms around my neck and drew me into a big hug.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" This was so very, very wrong. My jaw practically dropped when my eyes accidently strayed to the crystal ball again.
"Is he really-"
"Yup." Ginny answered before I had a chance to finish my question.
"Okay, but seriously-"
"Yup." Ginny said again. I looked at her.
"You mean he's really, seriously-"
"YES!" Ginny snapped. I couldn't stop my eyebrows from shooting way up as I tilted my head, trying in vain to get a different view of the image.
"I didn't think that was possible." I whispered. Ginny rolled her eyes as she watched the crystal ball version of herself shift her position on Harry. "It's really kind of..." I trailed off, trying to find the right words.
"Yeah, I know." Ginny said with a sigh. Without thinking, I burst into laughter. The whole situation was just too weird. The glare Ginny gave me as she stomped out of the room was practically homicidal, leaving me laughing like a fool at Trelawny's table. After a long moment, I grabbed my things and turned to leave.
"Miss Granger," I stopped and glanced back at Professor Trelawny, a bit put off by her serious demeanor.
"Yes?" For the past six years, I'd faced down all sorts of evil, but at that exact moment, I could say with all certainty that nothing had been more terrifying than the haunted look in the Professor's eyes.
"Have you seen Mr. Malfoy this morning?" she asked. I frowned, the nervousness from this morning when I'd met with Dumbledore returning.
"No." Something flickered in her eyes for the briefest instant, so quickly that I almost missed it.
"I was afraid of that." she whispered, returning her attention back to the crystal ball. I froze, wondering what she met. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. I walked away, unsure of what to do, with Professor Trelawny's words swirling in my head.
I didn't make it to class at all that day, which I was sure probably meant that I was doing particularly badly at my Head Girl duties. I decided to clear my head of everything that had been happening lately by getting lost in the library and catching up on my studying.
As soon as I set foot in the library, I could feel a lot of the tension I'd been carrying for the past week start to melt away. It was calm and quiet there, and even though I was pretty much loathed by every Gryffindor there, it was still more peaceful than anywhere I'd been all day. I went past the tables of studious students who took time out of bending over their books to glare at me as I passed, and I found a nice spot somewhere in the back with the books on various forms of show magic. It was probably the least frequented part of the entire library. At that moment, it was positively heavenly.
I pulled a few books down and found a comfortable place to sit, setting out my notebooks and grabbing my quill. It had been a while since I'd visited that part of the library. It was in first year, back before I became friends with Harry and Ron, and my one task had been to read and devour everything that I could. I'd spent hours in those shelves, taking down book after book on subjects that I'd never even imagined could exist; things I couldn't have understood at the time but that still mesmerized me. It had been a good distraction, I realized, from the loneliness I felt. Before that year, I'd always been different, alone; I didn't know what it was like to have friends. My books had been my only friends.
The first time I'd had a fight with Harry and Ron, I'd been so afraid. It was irrational, I knew, and I hid it behind my mask of arrogant intelligence. I didn't want the world to know that I felt like my heart was breaking, or how utterly terrified I'd been that they would decide I wasn't worth it – that they would leave me, and I would be alone with only my books again. I was overjoyed the first time they'd called me their friend.
Seven years later and what had our friendship come to? I'd destroyed the reputation of the Gryffindor house in a single night of drunken stupidity and my two best friends would never accept what I'd done. I loved Harry and Ron, I really did, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't see their side of this argument. Maybe I was too different a person, or maybe I just didn't want to see it, but to me, it seemed... Ron had crossed the line when he refused to give Draco, or even me, a chance.
Was it my fault? Had I destroyed our friendship? Or was this just the way that things were supposed to end?
I closed my eyes and ran a hand through my hair, feelings the snarls resist my moments. Familiar texts from days long past were burned into my eyes and if I thought hard, I could still remember every last important detail about making a polyjuice potion. I could still remember how it felt to have a tail and those embarrassing days in the hospital wing while I waited impatiently for it to wear off.
Time had passed and people had changed, and there I was again, waiting patiently. But this time was going to be different. This time, I wasn't waiting for a silly old spell to wear off. This time, I was waiting for a moment – the moment when everything would be decided and all of this angst and anxiety would end.
I rubbed my eyes and checked the time on the wall clock before gathering up my stuff to leave. The days were usually long at Hogwarts, but lately they'd been growing longer. I wondered when things would grow quiet again, and life would go back to normal.
Grabbing my books and stuffing them unceremoniously in my bag, I headed for the exit, preparing for the long walk back and the quiet aching in my shoulder. I didn't notice the people as I walked, didn't even acknowledge their presence. I was too tired. I made my way down the hall as quickly as I could, determination in every step, until at last, just outside the hall that led to my room, something broke my concentration.
A pale face framed by light blond hair, one I had grown to know exceptionally well, had just past my door and was headed toward me, followed closely by two Slytherin flunkies. I waited for the smile, the hello, the strange cheerfulness I'd seen from Draco lately, but there was none of it. He passed me by, a scowl on his face and something deep and unreadable in his eyes.
I knew without having to think that something was deeply wrong. That moment would not be today.
A/N: I know, I know, this took me ages and ages and AGES to do, and I really don't haven an excuse for the LOOOOOONG delay... and yes, this chapter sucked in comparison to the last five, BUT I have a totally evil plot twist planned and I promise you that the NEXT CHAPTER WILL BE TRULY EXCELLENT AND YOU WILL LOVE IT! RESISTENCE IS FUTILE! BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!
okay, I'm done...