"Are you straight?" she'd suddenly popped the question when they approached the thankfully deserted corridor.
"What?!" he looked at her, his cool countenance suddenly betraying him. "What made you think I'm gay?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Since you avoid all girls, no matter how pretty, or even nice."
"And so... That makes me gay."
"There's a chance. The good looking ones, especially."
"... Did you just say I look good?"
"Well yeah, no matter how rotten you may be, doesn't change the outside." he winced playfully. "You're... Hot." 'Did I just say that?' Hermione thought, shocked.
"Are YOU gay?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Ah? No, I like b- girls!" Hermione bit her lip. That was close.
"Then we have similar tastes." He chuckled and continued to walk.
Ron had turned out to be transformed as Hermione. He confessed to her when he showed up at their usual meeting place- he'd wanted to find out who he really was, because he was kind of... attracted to her, in his exact words. She did not tell him, as she didn't return his feelings. She was relieved. This person had grown farther away from her, as friends, because of that… flirt, Lavender Brown! She admits that she used to like him, but now… Something at the back of her mind was telling her differently.
It was a good thing some of their real roommates were not yet back as Hermione really, really did not want to share a bed. She just told him she thought he was hot, for goodness' sake, as a guy! As if that were anything but awkward. That night, she took another pair of Draco's pajamas and settled down on Blaise's bed, situated between Draco's and Crabbe's. Too bad the real Crabbe snored even louder than than Neville. She lay awake in bed pondering her situation once again. Here she was in the Slytherin boys' dorm. Spending her past few days with these mysterious boys. There was something absurdly wrong about it. Yet with Draco and the rest of them, it felt all right. Could have something to do with the fact that Draco and his other roommates thought she was a guy, but still. He was not such a pig after all. Just to Gryffindors. He'd grown up a bit, after the summer. He was more mature, not pettily making others' lives miserable. She'd also discovered Crabbe and Goyle had differences, the thugs. And that Goyle very much excelled at Sudoku. She laughed out loud, albeit softly.
"What's so funny?" a voice came from her left. Draco.
"Goyle does Sudoku." she whispered.
He chuckled. "Yeah, he's an expert at it."
She stared into the dark.
"Why are you so different, Draco, from before?"
"Why do you ask weird questions, like we're girls, or something?"
"I asked first."
"There's something really feminine about you, you know."
She bit her tongue.
"You seem like a good guy though, for someone from Gryffindor. You remind me of Blaise. Except different. ... So I'll say: I have changed. But I'm not telling why. It's just that I've realized there are bigger things out there. More important things. School might've seemed the world to us, but I just recently discovered it wasn't. Something like that."
"Yeah... School has that effect on you. You feel like you're never going to leave this safe haven and have to face even more hardships outside. Back then, I thought failing an exam would kill me. Then I realized that there's more chances of that with Vo- I mean, You-know-who and his followers, out there."
He was silent, and after a long pause, Hermione thought he'd fallen asleep. But then he spoke up.
"Draco," he called out his own name, but Hermione knew he meant her.
"What do your parents do?"
She suddenly panicked. They were dentists. He wouldn't bloody know what dentists were. And where did that question come from?!
"They're... Healers." she settled on that.
"Do they expect you to become a healer too?"
"Well... Not exactly. They think I'm destined for greater things." like being a witch, for example.
"Sometimes I feel like my parents are putting too much pressure on me to be like them." he continued.
'Wait, death eaters? So Harry could be right?' She wondered. She almost said it aloud. "But you don't really want to, do you?" she prodded.
"Yeah... I don't." That's great.
"It's up to you, you know."
"I guess... But when it's a matter of life and death..." he mumbled.
"Oh, nothing... Thanks. For listening."
"Yeah. We better get to sleep. It's 2 am."
(It has been exactly twelve days since the experiment started, and she's spent time with Draco for about half of it.)
There was something wrong. Hermione could not bring herself to fall asleep. There was this recurring pain in her head. It was pounding, hard. She sat up and glanced at the clock. 4am. She got up to go to the infirmary.
"Draco? You alright, mate?" Nott asked, half asleep when he'd noticed Hermione.
"Yeah, I... I'll go to the hospital wing. My head is killing me."
"Do you want me to come? You don't look so well."
She was surprised at the boy's concern, but she probably looked like hell. She opened her mouth to decline, but someone beat her to it.
"I'll accompany him. It's my body, right?" the blond attempted some humor. But between the fact it was the wee hours of the morning and the seemingly intense pain Hermione had going on, nobody laughed, though they were all semi awake by now.
She tried to smile appreciatively at him, but the headache caused her to lose her balance. "Woah." Draco reached out to support the body that looked exactly as his. "We better hurry."
They were already in the corridor when she realized the cause of her headache. Then she winced at the searing pain that was starting to form her limbs. She was changing back. Her body was shrinking back to its original size. Her companion noticed it too, she was getting shorter, and started walking at an even slower pace than before. Hermione then felt herself being pushed up against the wall by the real owner of the body she had been recently occupying.
"You're changing back."
She did not respond, and instead clamped her eyes shut. The lean muscles were changing, and her chest reappeared.
"So you're really a..." he held her down by her arms. He'd noticed.
"G... Girl." She whispered.
"Good, I'd been wanting to do this."
She didn't know if this person leaning on top of her, lips pressed to her own, was the reason her knees felt weak and ready to buckle, and the reason why her insides were practically melting at the moment of pure bliss, but she knew it wasn't the cause of the pain that was slowly engulfing her. 'No... I'm really changing back... I can't let him see...' She panicked.
"We can't..." she broke off to catch her breath, and that left Draco blinking in confusion.
"What?? Finally, I find out you're not a guy, your questions finally make sense, and that these feelings... weren't wrong after all..."
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she felt her own long bushy brown hair fall around her face. "I'm not... I... I'm a MUDBLOOD!" she cried.
And she felt the hole of emptiness in her chest sink even deeper.
She knew it could never have been. As clichéd as it was. She just wanted to run away as fast as she could go without daring to look back. So she did. She broke free of his hold when he momentarily slackened his grip, probably because the revelation. She ran. Ran away from the heartache she was ultimately going to face either way, away from the irrational prejudice of blood and status, away from everything she never ought to have had hope to change.
Away from him.
Cold numbed her body, even though she already felt absolutely frozen inside. She surveyed her surroundings and found herself outside, in the snow. She was shivering, a single layer of clothing on her. The sprint and the pain that preceded her transformation took pretty much everything out of her.
Her head was still pounding, now as hard as her heart was, and the white snow around her started spinning.
'What? Was that... A dream?'
She opened her eyes and was immediately blinded by the sunlight streaming in from the windows in front of her. She blinked a few times and brought her hand up to brush long strands of hair away from her face. 'Wait a minute. Long brown hair?!' she slowly sat up and found herself face to face with someone whose haircolor blinded her even more than the early morning sun. 'Draco.' Of course it didn't help that there was a bright orange head to her right. 'Ron?'
"Hermione, are you alright?" Ron spoke up first, though the two guys' eyes had not left her face even once.
"I... Malfoy." she stuttered out.
At this Ron's expression grew perplexed.
"Malfoy? Hermione, did you hit your head too hard when you collapsed?" Ron stood up in disbelief.
"Weasley." an icy tone filled the silence.
"Give us some privacy, will you?"
"I'm not gonna leave-"
"Ron, don't go." Hermione cut in and looked at him, pleading him to stay. She did not want to be left alone with Draco. Not right now. She wasn't prepared. At all.
"See? Even Hermione doesn't want me to leave, so who're you to bloody tell me what to do?!" he retorted.
"Well, don't say I didn't bloody warn you." He sighed. "I hadn't planned on an audience. Hermione, they'll talk, but I don't give a damn." He said under his breath, but Hermione heard, and he smirked, right before her senses decided to leave her as Draco kissed her with more fervor. She felt herself weakening against his hold, one hand on her back while the other supported his frame on the bed, and having Ron three feet away didn't bother her as much as she thought it would've.
"Malfoy, you bloody git!"
'Oh Ron...' Surprisingly, all she did was smile against the lips pressed to her own.