A Concerted Effort to Disagree
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: In keeping with the general story of Harry Potter, I've attempted to follow the British way of speaking as closely as I can replicate, being an ignorant American myself. This means, both in narration and in dialogue, I'm striving to sound like I'm from England, which may well be impossible, but I've had a fair shot at it. If anything strikes you as interesting, spectacular, or horrible, I'd love to hear about it. Happy reading.]
thunder between storms
He was not pleased at all, to say the very least.
The letter was scanned with an irritated eye, cold blue-grey wandering the letters with menacing thoughts following right along. They must be insane, he told himself, bloody out of their minds. This is lunacy. They can't expect us to go along with this.
But it was there, written on the yellowed parchment for eyes as clever as his own to clearly read:
Dear Mr. Malfoy,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been appointed as Head Boy. Serving as your opposite will be Gryffindor Hermione Granger. The Headmaster, Deputy Headmistress, and Professors and Staff of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry congratulate you on your achievement and expect nothing but your full effort to be devoted to your duties as Head Boy, which will be explained to you upon your arrival at Hogwarts in company of the Head Girl.
Wishing you the best remainder of your holidays,
Professor M. McGonagall
"This is rubbish," he muttered angrily aloud, tossing the letter back onto his night stand and sinking into his bed. "This is absolute rubbish."
His frustration was plainly understood. His father and aunt were, after all, currently locked away in Azkaban due to that Mudblood's friends and their interference. He couldn't claim to have ever felt much of anything for Bellatrix—she reminded him too much of a raving lunatic, and he couldn't stand people who couldn't control themselves—but he and his father saw eye-to-eye on most everything, and it was infuriating, having to think of being forced to cooperate with Granger. At least, he would have to while everyone was watching.
The last six months had been nothing short of absolute torture. The Dark Lord had, once again, vanished, by claims of the Daily Prophet and the Ministry itself, a massive effort on the part of Aurors and the elusive Order of the Phoenix. It had either destroyed him or pushed him into hiding. No one knew, exactly, if this had been anything to be cheerful about at the time. The followers that had escaped imprisonment had been causing enough of a terror up and down the country in the aftermath, and though Draco Malfoy and his mother were keeping well out of the noise, it was enough to make anyone wonder. Would the Dark Lord return again?
Though it was his own personal, quiet opinion, which he kept very much to himself, and would pay for dearly if he voiced it, he wouldn't fancy the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Only slightly less than a year ago, the Dark Lord had demanded something of him that he had considered quite impossible, and he was glad of the excuse not to carry out the task—and not to fail at it.
He would have killed me. And if he wouldn't've, Dumbledore could have.
He knew better than to hope that Dumbledore didn't know of the plot. With Snape always hanging off his arm, acting the double agent, how could he not? But it appeared that the ancient Headmaster was unwilling to approach him. There hadn't been much harm done, on the outside, anyway. No one but Draco himself understood how panicked the hours had been in that damned Room of Hidden Things for those long months; no one but he understood the sheer volume of terror that seized him every time his repairs failed to make the cabinet run properly once again. Only Draco Malfoy knew of that horror.
And then, the Dark Lord had gone, and his orders were rescinded; without the threat of murder over his head—and murder of his entire family, at that—there was no reason at all to continue. He had subsided with relief, and his mother had been nearly tearful over their stroke of good luck. Good luck, he scoffed to himself—good luck indeed, at least, until Voldemort made a concerted effort to re-emerge from the shadows.
His Quidditch Captain badge lay beside the Head Boy badge atop the pieces of parchment, and he snorted to himself in disbelief, turning away from the trifling troubles. In comparison to the Dark Lord, how much of a problem could a jumped-up Mudblood and her friends pose to him?
"Oh, Merlin's beard. It's happened."
"Just the most bloody terrifying year of our lives, that's all."
"What're you on about, Ron?"
It was too hot; Harry Potter wasn't about to get worked up for anything. Lazing about in the garden of the Burrow, the polishing kit for his Firebolt spread out beside him, he plucked a single stray twig and glanced up at the shadow being cast over him. Before his red-haired best friend could properly explain, however, there came a shriek of delight from inside the house, and the sound of twin voices exchanging jokes before Ginny's words of congratulations cut in. The voices of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sounded in tandem with Mr. and Mrs. Granger's. The two had stayed for the night after dropping Hermione off the day before, and were in fact about to be on their way.
"Is that what I think it is?"
"Yeah. Our Hogwarts letters have arrived. Guess who just found out she's Head Girl?"
After a brief struggle, Harry picked himself up off the ground and turned towards the Burrow. "We'd better go and congratulate her, I suppose."
"Congratulate her? Bloody hell, Harry, do you realize how much harder it's going to be to break any rules with her in control?"
"Calm down. I've had enough bloody rule-breaking for a lifetime, anyway."
This last statement couldn't have been truer. The fight with Voldemort had not been expected—it had been too much, too soon, and now Harry Potter had subsided into ceaseless worry over the Horcruxes that were not yet destroyed and which would still take a great amount of strength to eliminate. Even with the main piece of Voldemort out of the way, it would be difficult, especially with the Ministry back on its toes once more. They were bound to be more interfering than ever. And in light of all this, his worry for rule-breaking under Hermione's nose was minimal.
"Oh, no. I can't face this," Ron muttered, as Hermione rushed out into the garden.
"Harry! Ron! I'm Head Girl!"
Not unexpectedly, she threw herself into Ron's arms for a hug, and he relented on his stream of dire predictions to return the sentiment. "Congratulations, Hermione," he managed, though he rolled his eyes at Harry over Hermione's head.
"Yeah, Hermione, well done, though not entirely unexpected," Harry pointed out, as he hugged her, too. "Let's see the letter then, go on."
Beaming, the small brunette shook open the sheaf of parchment and read aloud, "Dear Miss Granger, We are pleased to inform you that you have been appointed as Head Girl. Serving as your opposite will be Slytherin...oh, no..."
Hermione's face had drained of colour. Her typically sweet, studious brown eyes had turned mutinous, and sparkled with a hard, infuriated, terrified light. "I reckon she hadn't gotten that far into the letter yet," Harry said in an undertone to Ron.
"With HIM? I have to share this with HIM?" she shrieked, throwing the letter into the air. Ron deftly caught it before it could be trampled by the gnomes now running around, lured into the open by the noise of celebration. "This has to be a mistake!"
"Hermione, calm down," Harry soothed, as he wrenched the letter from Ron and continued reading. "Serving as your opposite will be Slytherin Draco Malfoy. The Headmaster, Deputy Headmistress, and Professors and Staff of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry congratulate you on your achievement and expect nothing but your full effort to be devoted to your duties as Head Girl, which will be explained to you upon your arrival at Hogwarts in company of the Head Boy. Wishing you the best remainder of your holidays, Professor M. McGonagall, etcetera, etcetera." Harry frowned and folded up the parchment again.
"Blimey, that's rotten luck," Ron commented, pushing his hands into his pockets and gazing at Hermione with something akin to sympathy.
"Rotten? ROTTEN?" She swelled like a bullfrog. "I can't believe this, I spend six years being top in everything only to have it ruined by a git like him getting it too. Oh, couldn't it have been Ernie, or one of you, or even that silent boy from Ravenclaw, it had to be Malfoy!"
"Yeah, especially after all our suspicions," Harry agreed, his frown still in place. "Should we have a word with Dumbledore? This seems dangerous. He was up to something until Voldemort vanished again."
"Don't say the name!" Ron hissed.
"Yes, he was up to something, but we've no idea what!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands. She looked quite defeated, even distraught. "I'm not worried that he's dangerous, I just don't want to face him every single day, even just to do prefect duties and everything, that's going to be unbearable!"
"Relax, Hermione, it'll be all right," Ron told her, putting an arm around her shoulders and handing her a handkerchief, as her eyes were so over-bright with tears that it was inevitable one would fall soon. "Let's celebrate, eh? Here's to the end of our rule-breaking careers."
She managed a weak smile as Harry joined her other side and the three made their way toward the Burrow, where a cake was already in the oven, and streamers were already being hung in her honour. She'd have been so pleased to have the triumph to herself. Draco Malfoy would, no doubt, be beside himself with this opportunity to ruin her year.