The Moody Veela Chronicles

Chapter Three

Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine as HP doesn't belong to me.

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Hermione bounded down the stairs to the common room the next morning, her bag slung over her shoulder. It was going to be a wonderful day, she just knew it. She had slept like a baby the night before, and that always boded well for the day after.

"Good morning, Hermione," called out Harry as she entered the common room. "You look well," he said slowly. He cast a glance to his side. "Unlike someone else I could mention."

"Have I ever mentioned how annoying you can be?" Ron bit out. He pointedly ignored his female best friend in favor of poking at his black eye with his wand. "I still don't think we need to go to the hospital wing. I can take care of this myself."

Harry and Hermione both winced. "Don't do that, mate," Harry said quickly. "Healing charms can be complicated."

"What? You think I can't do it?" Ron looked indignantly at Harry.

Hermione sighed. "Here. There's no need to fight. Let me handle it," she said. She crossed the room, taking out her wand as she went. She stopped in front of her friend and dumped her bag on the floor. In truth, she felt a little bad about the beating Ron had taken last night. She had been irritated with him for awhile now, and she had taken that out on him by using him as a convenient smash test dummy for Malfoy.

But even though a small part of her felt guilty, there was a bigger part of her that felt vindicated. She had wasted so much time on that boy, hoping that he would finally notice her. It was sad really. She had been able to peg Malfoy as a part veela early third year. It had taken her so much longer to figure out that she simply wasn't pretty enough to catch Ron's eye. Not that he had helped matters at all. The fit he threw after the Yule Ball had her convinced for ages that he fancied her.

Unfortunately the truth wasn't that simple. In the end, she had given up pining for Ron, realizing it was a lost cause. There were times that she still wanted to scream at the stupid boy and demand an answer as to why he chased after other witches while continuing to make her think that he fancied her. She never did, of course, as she wanted to keep her dignity.

That was why it had been so satisfying to see Ron take the brunt of Malfoy's anger. She was venting her rage vicariously through the Slytherin wizard. It wasn't fair of her though. She should have swallowed her pride and confronted Ron herself about the whole matter instead of unleashing Malfoy on him. But she couldn't change the past, so the best apology she could offer was to heal him.

A few waves of her wand later, and Ron was looking like his normal self. "All better?" asked Hermione.

He refused to meet her eyes. "Yeah. For now, I guess."

"Good."

"Wait a minute," said Harry. He looked from Hermione to Ron and then back to Hermione again. "All right. Spill."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Have I ever mentioned that you really need to expand your vocabulary? Not to mention the fact that you could work on your syntax as well."

"Nice try, but you're not going to distract me with fancy words." There was steel hidden beneath Harry's words. "Something's up between the two of you, and I intend to find out just what that is."

Now that caused Hermione to roll her eyes. "Good luck with that," she muttered under her breath. Hermione picked up her bag. She glanced over at the portrait hole, then sighed. It was much too far away for her to make a discreet escape from the conversation, and she wasn't so desperate as to just bolt out. At least not yet.

"Don't even think about it," said Harry. Hermione softly swore under her breath, as she cursed her best friend. Sometimes it was uncanny how observant Harry could be when he put his mind to it. "And just to let you know—I don't need luck. That's the benefit of having two best friends, you know. I can always play one off of the other."

"Ah. The classic prisoner's dilemma. Very good. Tell me, when are you moving to the Slytherin dorms?"

"Funny. That's what I was going to ask you," said Ron.

"Aha! A clue!" Harry exclaimed.

"Lovely. You just had to say that, didn't you, Ron? Now we'll never get down for breakfast because Harry here thinks he has a mystery to solve."

A look of horror dawned on Ron's face. "No breakfast?" he gasped. "But that's…that's…."

She could see where this was going. Harry was going to find out about her and Malfoy one way or another. Since she would prefer to tell him herself, she decided to do so now before Ron blurted it out. "You see, Ron had a bit of a run in with Malfoy last night. It was completely my fault," she said in a rush, seeing Harry automatically start to reach for his wand. "Really, it was. Ron will back me up on that."

"Yeah, she's telling the truth. I know it's hard to believe," said Ron.

"Is that so?" The black-haired wizard narrowed his eyes at Hermione. "That's strange. Given your lecture at the start of the year about how you can take care of yourself, I rather thought you wouldn't hide behind Ron from Malfoy."

"I didn't." She took a deep breath before plowing forward. "To make a long story short, Malfoy is a part veela, I'm his mate, and he didn't like it very much when I hugged Ron."

"And kissed me on the cheek," Ron added. "Really, I think that was what put him over the edge."

"Oh." Harry's forehead wrinkled as he thought through what his best friends had said. "So you purposefully provoked Malfoy into attacking Ron?" he asked, looking as though he were disappointed in Hermione.

She chewed her lower lip. "Yes, I suppose you could say that. It was for a good cause though. You see, veelas are known for being very possessive of their mates and—"

Harry held up a hand, effectively ending her explanation. "Save it, Hermione. I don't want to hear it." Though he didn't say so, Hermione could tell that he had expected better from her.

She hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry," she whispered. Then it hit her. She snapped her head back up. "Wait. You're not upset that Malfoy and I are—"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Upset? No. More like expecting it. He always seemed rather obsessed with you, and this explains why rather neatly. Better you than me really."

That was when Ron caught up to their conversation. "You knew?" he cried accusingly at Harry.

"I didn't know any specifics, but I knew that there was something between Hermione and Malfoy. And I didn't really think Malfoy would hurt Hermione. Did you?" Ron nodded his head vigorously. "Oh," said Harry. "Why did you think that?"

"Hello? This is Malfoy we're talking about. He's been the bane of our existence for the last six years now?"

"Maybe the bane of your existence, but not mine," said Harry with a smirk on his face. "But more to the point—did you forget how he didn't do a thing to Hermione after she slapped him? I thought for sure he was going to hex her, but he just walked away. And then at the World Cup. He wasn't warning you or me, you know."

"So if you thought that, then why did you agree with Ron that Malfoy must be up to something?" asked Hermione. "I could have sworn the both of you were serious."

"Sometimes, Hermione," said Harry sagely, "it's easier to go along with whatever madcap scheme Ron has planned rather than try to convince him that it's doomed to failure."

She thought about that. It made sense. Sometimes Harry really surprised her with how wise he could be. "That's true enough," she said. "He really isn't that good at listening to advice, is he?"

"No, he isn't," agreed Harry pleasantly. "Frankly he's not good at listening at all."

"Hey! Stop talking about me behind my back like that!"

Hermione exchanged a glance with Harry. "We're hardly talking about you behind your back. You can hear us perfectly fine, you know."

Ron pouted. "Doesn't matter. Sometimes you and Harry get on the same wavelength and leave me behind. That's just as bad."

"It's not our fault you're slow," said Harry.

"Oi. What is this? Insult Ron week?"

"Ah, if it's take a shot at Weasel week, then by all means, count me in," drawled a familiar voice. The three friends whipped their heads around to see Draco Malfoy standing in the entrance of the common room.

Hermione glared at him. "I thought I told you to wait outside," she said through gritted teeth.

"I got bored waiting," said Malfoy smoothly. "So I thought I might as well come in and see what's taking you so long. I should have known you were entertaining these fools." He sneered at the Gryffindor wizards.

Hermione stomped over to him. "You are impossible. Is it so hard to be nice to my friends?"

"Yes."

"Don't blame him," Harry interjected. "He's just feeling jealous, that's all. You were making him wait so you could spend time talking to us, and that's the sort of thing to set even a normal bloke's teeth on edge. It must be much worse for him."

Evidently Harry was already used to the idea of her being Malfoy's mate, which led her to believe that he hadn't been entirely honest with her earlier. Hermione filed that information away for later. "That doesn't matter. I simply won't tolerate such behavior. I know Malfoy can be better than that, and I expect more from him."

"I see," said Harry. "So he's your new project? Better him than me."

"That's what I said," agreed Ron.

"Oh hush! Let's not start that again!" She huffed and crossed her arms. She loved her friends but sometimes they could be such idiots. They never did appreciate her efforts in helping them. Sometimes she wondered why she even bothered with that; letting them fail a class or three might actually be good for them.

"Not to mention that you fools couldn't be more wrong if you tried," Malfoy said. "I'm no one's project to work on." He sneered at her friends, and she didn't bother to correct him. They were being rather bothersome at the moment.

Then he yanked at her bag, nearly dislodging it from her grip.

There was no way she was going to let that go.

"Stop that!" she said as she spun away from his grasp. She glared daggers at him. "Just what do you think you're doing?" she spat out.

"Is it me, or did it suddenly get cold, very cold in here?" Ron asked.

"Be quiet, Ron. Just be quiet and enjoy the show," Harry muttered.

Meanwhile Malfoy was looking in disbelief at Hermione. "I was going to carry your bag for you, before you decided throw a tantrum about it." He rolled his eyes. "Merlin! A bloke tries to be a gentleman and look what sort of thanks he gets!"

She sniffed in disdain. "You were trying to be a gentleman? Honestly? That's the best you can do?"

Malfoy threw his hands in the air. "Oh I'm sorry. I guess I must have been hearing things last night when you all but ordered me to carry your books today!"

"You're an absolute idiot. I never said such a thing!"

"You did too!"

"Did not!"

"Did too! And you know it!" He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his robes and started pouting. He was a very handsome sight, but that only served to further annoy her.

"I did not," she said. She stamped her foot for emphasis. "What I said—since evidently you weren't listening very carefully to me which is going to be something else we'll have to work on—what I said was that you should offer to carry my books for me today." She panted, not having paused for breath during that rant.

"But that's what I did!"

"No you didn't! You just tried to snatch them away!"

"Semantics," he scoffed.

Hermione wagged a finger at him. "No. Not semantics. Style," she spat out. "Asking before taking my bag would have been charming. Just trying to yank it way however?" She shook her head from side to side. "It's just more proof that you don't know how to treat a witch right."

"Touché," said Harry in an approving tone of voice.

"More to the point, who would have ever thought that our Hermione would ever take Malfoy to task for his lack of style," noted Ron.

"Certainly not me," agreed Harry.

"Hush you two," Hermione commanded them.

"Hushing," her friends chorused.

"Good." She could see that Malfoy's fingers were trembling. It was probably best not to push him too far—at least not until she got the chance to help him improve when it came to reining in his proclivities. She gave him a minute to calm down before pressing her point once more. "Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

Malfoy glared daggers at her.

She rolled her eyes. He was certainly going to be a challenge. "Well then, if you don't have anything to say, I expect I had best be on my way. I haven't got all day, you know."

A shudder ran through his frame, and Hermione could practically see Malfoy arguing with himself. He groaned aloud. "Fine then. May I please carry your bag for you?"

"Excellent." She was making progress with him already.

Then he lunged for her bag once more. She promptly dodged right, causing him to become off balanced and fall.

"What the—? Is this some sort of twisted game to you?" he shouted. He looked up balefully at her while sprawled upon the floor.

"Hardly. But I don't believe that I ever gave you permission to actually take my bag."

"I need permission?" He gaped at her.

"That was what you were asking for, wasn't it?" she replied calmly.

"But that was just a formality!"

"Just a formality?" She narrowed her eyes at him, and her demeanor grew cold. She tossed her head. "Are you trying to say that your asking for my permission was just a formality, and that you were going to do whatever you wanted regardless of my wishes?" she spat out, her tone becoming more strident with every word.

"Oh. Doesn't look good for Malfoy, now does it?" Ron said as an aside to Harry.

"No, it doesn't," agreed Harry. "That's two for her so far, none for him."

"But that's just to be expected," said Ron.

Hermione ignored her friends in favor of watching Malfoy, who had got up off the floor while Harry and Ron had been blathering. She tapped her foot as she waited impatiently for an apology from him. "Well? Don't you have anything to say for yourself?"

His eyes gleamed silver in response to her jibe. For a split second, she thought she had pushed him too far, that he was going to lose it. But much to her surprise, Malfoy didn't explode. Instead his shoulders dropped, and he adopted a pitiful expression. "I'm never going to be good enough for you, am I?" he cried.

Great. That was just what she needed to make this morning complete. A broody, depressed veela on the verge of tears. She mentally chided herself for being so hard on him. She has never intended to make him cry. She had simply wanted him to show some manners. She was positive that his parents must have introduced him to the concept.

Hermione sighed aloud. The way Draco was sniffling was downright pathetic. It was past time for her to calm her down. "There, there," she said reassuring. She approached him while searching through her pockets for a handkerchief. A horrid thought flashed through her mind—she was becoming more like her mother every day. Pushing that reflection aside, she located her handkerchief and drew it out with a flourish.

"Don't worry," she said. "Everything's going to be all right. Honestly you've already made so much progress." She stood on her tiptoes so she could wipe away the tears threatening to fall from his eyes.

That was when his arms closed around her, and his lips crashed down on to hers. She gasped in surprise, and he took immediate advantage, plundering her mouth with his tongue. Somehow she couldn't quite find it in her to push him away the way she knew she should. She closed her eyes and leaned in to the kiss, enjoying the warmth that was spreading throughout all her tingling nerves. She knew she might regret it later, and so she hoped the moment would never end.

"All right," said Harry in a no-nonsense tone of voice. "That's enough, you two. Ron's bound to come to any moment now, and I refuse to face the inevitable tantrum alone."

Just like that the spell was broken. Hermione pushed away from Malfoy and turned around to face her friends. Harry was merely shaking his head at her. As for Ron—he had fainted dead away.

A soft snicker sounded from behind her. "Oh my. I guess I should have expected Weasley to faint like a girl because all the blood rushing to his head. Aren't you glad you're not with him?" Malfoy asked.

She didn't have to look at the arrogant prick behind her to know that he was smirking. Hermione elbowed him sharply.

"What? Just what did I say that wasn't true?"

She rolled her eyes. "It was the 'like a girl' remark you made. No witch I know would pass out for such a reason." She wrinkled her nose. She hated to admit it but Malfoy was right when it came to his other remark. Right now she was glad that she wasn't with Ron.

With one arm, he drew her closer to him. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized how neatly she fit under him, the top of her head an inch beneath his chin. His breath tickled into her ear. "And what about the rest of it?" he asked silkily.

Fortunately she was spared having to answer him by Ron coming to. The lanky wizard lurched on to his feet as the other three occupants of the room watched him carefully. He blinked his eyes and frowned. "Oi Harry," said Ron. "I had the most awful dream. I dreamt that Hermione was—"

"It wasn't a dream, Ron," said Harry flatly.

"No, I suppose not. More like a nightmare…." Suddenly the haze covering Ron's eyes cleared. "Wait a second. That means…." He began fumbling in his robes for his wand.

"Looking for this?" asked Harry. He twirled Ron's wand around on his fingers. He glanced in Hermione's direction. "I took it off him after he hit the ground," he explained.

"Thanks," she said weakly. "I owe you one."

Harry grinned, and she was struck by just how much he resembled a shark at that moment. "Frankly, Hermione, both you and Malfoy do."

"No we don't," argued Malfoy. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself and my witch— "

Hermione stepped back, trampling over Malfoy's foot.

"Ow!" He swore fluently, turning the air blue with his curses. "Why the hell did you do that for, you crazy—"

She stepped on him again. This time she ground her heel against the top of his foot.

Harry sighed. "As much fun as it is to watch the two of you wrestle with one another—"

A thud sounded as Ron fainted again.

"Poor choice of words there," Harry noted clinically. "In any case, as I was going to suggest that you might have more success if you explain to Malfoy how you don't like being treated like a possession or like you can't take care of yourself, Hermione."

"But wait a minute! She didn't complain about you taking Ron's wand away from him!" Draco protested.

"That's because I wasn't doing it to protect her. I was just trying to prevent a scene," Harry explained. "Much good that did," he muttered.

"Yes, well, if you'll excuse us, we will get going," said Hermione. "Before Ron wakes up again. I really don't feel like starting my day with an argument."

"And you weren't arguing with Malfoy a minute ago?"

She rolled her eyes. "That wasn't arguing. That was my attempt at teaching Malfoy how to be a better.…" She paused. She wasn't certain just how to classify their relationship. She knew that she was stuck with him; if she ever left him, then his death would be on her hands and that wasn't something that she was willing to live with. However, it wasn't as though they were officially anything though. "Well it was my attempt at teaching Malfoy how to be a better wizard," she finally said.

"I see." Harry made a shooing motion with his hands. "Well go on then. Get going before sleeping beauty here wakes up again."

"All right," said Hermione. She turned around, coming face to face with Draco. "Let's go," she told him.

He frowned, then glanced at her shoulder.

"Here." She handed over her bag to him. Hermione didn't want to argue about that any further. It would be a waste of breath better spent explaining to him how she wanted to be treated. The two of them walked out of the Gryffindor common room. Hermione did her best to ignore the tingly feeling she got when his hand brushed against hers as they walked side by side. She focused her mind and planned her arguments about how a modern witch should be treated.

All those thoughts flew out of her mind when she saw the moving staircases.

"That's odd," she said. She tilted her head to look at them again. They were all lined up in a row, not a single one of them moving. She had never seen anything like that before.

Hermione shrugged her shoulders. There was no point in questioning her luck. She continued on down the stairs, not having to break stride once because one of them felt like moving. She quite liked it, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something had spooked the staircases. Which was silly really because what did magical staircases have to fear? They had no problems at all, unlike her who still had Malfoy to deal with. She twisted her nose, not liking how pleased he was with himself.

It was time to take him down a notch or two.

"All right then," she said as the reached the bottom of the staircases. She held out her hand for her bag, which he gave to her begrudgingly. "Here's where we split up."

"You're not going to breakfast?" He regarded her sternly, and she got the feeling that he was on the verge of lecturing her on how she should eat more.

Which was such a ridiculous idea. She ate more than most witches she knew, having never been the sort to engage in fad diets.

"Don't be silly," she told him. "I have every intention of eating breakfast. But I don't plan on entering the Great Hall with you." She shuddered. "Just the thought of how everyone would react…I'd be dodging hexes from your housemates for the rest of the week, if we did that."

"They wouldn't dare hex you. Not if they know what's good for them." A dark and stormy look crossed his face. She became even more determined not to cause a scene at breakfast for she had no doubt that Malfoy would only be too eager to make it worse by jumping into the fray, wand out.

"Let me remind you once again I can take care of myself," she told him stridently. She held up a hand to forestall his protests. "But honestly! I don't feel up to dealing with that sort of drama, particularly not when our N.E.W.T.s are only a few months away."

"But that's not fair! Your friends know!" he whined.

"That's because they know how to behave themselves." Hermione walked on ahead of Draco, who was pouting vigorously to little effect.

"So you mean you intend to ignore me in public?" he continued to complain as he trailed after her. "Because you're ashamed of me?"

"That's not it at all."

"That's certainly what it sounded like." His voice took on a pathetic tone to it.

She sighed and turned around to face him. That was a mistake. Malfoy's shoulders were drooping and his head was hung low, and his posture spoke volumes about how unhappy he was at the mere thought that she was ashamed of him. Hermione bit her lip. Malfoy changed moods so quickly. It was rather exhausting.

"I'm not ashamed of you," she repeated firmly. "I simply don't want to make it public that you and I are…." She fumbled about for the appropriate word.

"Together?" he suggested.

"Yes, well it's a bit more than that, isn't it?"

He beamed at her.

She blinked rapidly. "Honestly, Malfoy, it can't be good for you to be so sad one minute and absolutely jubilant the next," she muttered.

"Can't help it," he told her, a lazy smirk covering his face. He reached out an arm and drew her to his side. He nuzzled her hair as they started to amble along. "It's your fault, really. I'll be much better once you're ready to announce to the world that you're mine."

Hermione didn't exactly like his choice of words but she thought it was best to leave it be for now. And not because it was distracting how comfortable it was to be so close to him. She was definitely going to add it to her list of improvements he had to make in his personality, she decided as she snuggled closer to him. "Yes, well…I'll be willing to do that once we figure out a way to break it to your housemates gently."

"They won't be a problem," he assured her.

"And your parents," she added.

"They already know."

That took her aback. "They do?"

"Yes."

"And they're fine with it?"

He tilted his head to one side as he considered her question. "Well they're both resigned to it. I think my father's actually more comfortable with the idea than my mother. She thought that I was doomed, you see, that you would never accept me." He pumped his fist in the air. "Just wait until I tell her how wrong she was."

Seeing how Malfoy had spent the last couple of months stalking her very poorly, she had to agree with his mother's assessment. But Hermione bit her tongue and kept that thought to herself. She didn't want to start another argument—no wait, they hadn't argued at all—another debate with Malfoy this morning. "That's lovely. One less thing to worry about," she said. "So once we can ensure that your—"

"They won't be a problem," he insisted.

That earned him another roll of her eyes. He was stubborn beyond all belief. "You are impossible," she said, slowly enunciating each word.

"Thank you. I do try. It keeps things interesting, don't you think? And here we are."

Before Hermione knew what was happening, Draco had pushed open the doors to the Great Hall and ushered her through them while still glued to her side.

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Author's note: Please review. I would love to know what you think. ;)