Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling has no right over these characters, creatures, etc. They belong to me. Just kidding. Quite the opposite really.
A/N: Loving the positive feedback. Sorry for the slow updates. I'm actually busier on break... anyways, some questions to be answered. Their closeness in chapter two was sudden right? Well I just wanted to show that they had a chance for friendship. Remember, they've known each other for 7 years, sharing a common room, and are finally getting to know each other. But I understand your point of view. Actually, I might bring that into play later... hm. Anyways, read and review. I wrote a lot for this chapter because I felt bad for the lack of updates.
Draco and Hermione began their search by setting foot into the unknown surroundings of the Hidden Forest.
"At this rate, we'll never find those birds. Or horses. Or whatever the hell they are!" Draco muttered, stepping on a twig.
The crack of its snap echoed through the quiet forest. Hermione rolled her eyes. He was being such a baby. She carefully marked the path they were going, by occasionally digging little holes into the dirt. And as always, she was observing the area with the help of the sunlight that was peeking through the leaves and branches of the forest's tall, dark trees.
"Granger, what are you doing?" Draco asked, watching as she continued to dig holes into the ground.
"It's called marking where we're going so we won't get lost."
Draco snorted but didn't say anything. He looked in between the trees for any signs of life, other than themselves. Nothing. Silently, he continued to follow Hermione, who looked like she knew where she was going when in fact, she had no clue at all. The slight rustle of the leaves they walked on were the only noises they heard. The silence began to bother Draco.
"So, do hippogriffs move in herds?"
Hermione almost burst out laughing. Clearly, he hadn't been paying attention to Hagrid in Care of Magical Creatures class. And his face was so serious, so clueless about the subject, too. "Yes. But when it's fully grown it can choose to leave the herd to find another herd or to find a mate. Sometimes, hippogriffs can get lost or wounded and get split apart from the group." She paused, thinking for a moment. "I think Hagrid found Buckbeak and his herd in the middle of the Forbidden Forest. Apparently, they were all lying down, eating some ferrets."
Hermione laughed silently, watching Draco from the corner of her eye. He was scowling, obviously not amused by her little joke.
"How are we going to get a damn feather? These are wild, unlike the ones your giant friend showed us in class. They probably won't enjoy two human beings approaching them, plucking one of their precious feathers off and then running away with it."
"Yes that's true Malfoy, but I think we can do it if you just don't do what you did in our third year. Remember, hippogriffs are proud and sensitive creatures. They're also very polite. Did you forget how to get close to one?" She asked him, digging her foot into the soil.
"No, and I probably never will forget after that incident." He said frowning.
"Fine, then prove it. Tell me what you have to do when you come across a hippogriff." Hermione said, turning to him with her hands on her hips.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Why? You don't know?"
"I know perfectly well, thanks. Oh just get on with it. I'm just making sure you know so you don't mess this up!" She exclaimed impatiently.
He held up his hands in surrender. "Whatever you say, Gryffindor princess." He sneered at the word. "Okay so first you approach it slowly, then bow to show it respect. The lower, the better I presume. You wait for it to bow and if it does, you can touch it. If it doesn't, you run the hell out of there. Oh and don't blink where you look at it in the eye. Supposedly, they find people that blink a lot a bit sketchy."
Hermione began to applaud. "Well done."
"Seriously Granger, ever consider becoming Head Mistress at Hogwarts someday? You're just like McGonagall."
She glared at him, a bit offended that he compared her to her professor. "Shut it Malfoy." She turned around to start walking again but whirled around to face him. "And yes, I have." She said before she turned back around, walking a bit faster than before. Draco almost struggled to keep up with her pace.
"Slow down, Granger!"
"You have longer legs than I do!"
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"You should be able to keep up! I really don't see what your problem is."
"My problem is you—" Suddenly, Hermione stopped, cutting him off and making him bump into her. "What the hell, Granger?"
Hermione held up her hand and pointed. "There." She breathed. Draco looked up, using his eyes to follow the direction she was pointing to. There, just a few meters ahead of them, was a small hippogriff, cautiously watching them with its small, yellow eyes. Hermione tapped his arm. "It's a baby. I think it's lost. Go."
"Why me?" He hissed, as she gave him a slight push towards it.
"If it attacks, it won't hurt so much because its talons are just developing." She whispered.
"Granger…" He growled but reluctantly moved forward. When he got a bit closer, he bowed. He looked up slightly to see that it hadn't moved; it continued to stare at him. Come on you stupid chicken. The baby hippogriff tilted its head and mimicked Draco's deep bow. He heard Hermione sigh in relief. He stood up straight and took a step towards the creature. All of a sudden, it screeched and backed away. He froze in his place, unsure of what he had to do. Peeking back at Hermione, he gave her a look of confusion. She didn't seem to notice him; she was too busy watching the hippogriff's movements.
Without looking at him still, she motioned for him to come back to where she as standing. Draco obeyed, backing up without daring to turn his back to it.
"Why'd it do that?" He asked quietly.
"I think," She said slowly, "It's frightened by you. Or us. It didn't understand what you were doing or what the bow meant. It's still just a baby; I don't even think it can fly yet."
Draco looked at Hermione and then back at the small hippogriff. It was no longer screeching but still pacing around. Its eyes kept darting around, always eyeing them at some point.
"What do we do now?"
She sighed. "We wait until it calms down and try again. I'll try this time." She added when Draco looked at her with a bewildered expression. He sighed with relief while Hermione rolled her eyes. Once again, he succeeds to show that he truly is a big baby.
Hermione shifted her gaze from Draco back to where the hippogriff was. Her eyes widened when she saw that it was running away. "It's running away! Where's it going?"
Right as those words left her mouth, a shadow—shadows, flew over them. They looked up and saw about nine fully grown hippogriffs flying overhead, staying together. They descended gracefully through the leaves and landed with a slight thud where the baby hippogriff had been. Hermione saw it running back towards the herd, joining it. It went straight towards a larger one that screeched softly when it saw it. That must be the mother. Hermione thought. The head hippogriff turned its yellow eyes towards them. Draco gulped, frozen in place.
Hermione, with her daring Gryffindor courage, boldly stepped forward, confident, cautious, and polite on top of it all. The hippogriff's stare shifted from him to her, as she approached the herd. When she reached a close but still safe distance away from it, she bowed deeply, waiting for it to respond. Just in case the large hippogriff was watching him too, Draco bowed as deeply as Hermione had.
She breathed through her nose, steadily, counting to ten before looking up slightly. The hippogriff lowered its upper torso and bowed towards them, granting them permission to touch it. Draco remained where he was as Hermione slowly took small steps towards the majestic creature. She lifted her arm and held out her hand, gently touching the side of its upper body. She brushed her fingers against the feathers that were white with speckles of gray and brown.
Looking back at Draco, the corners of her mouth lifted upwards slightly. The rest of the herd was watching either Hermione or him. He nervously stood alone, watching as Hermione began petting its beak and the side of its face, murmuring soft words to it. The head hippogriff then lowered itself and spread its wings slightly. Hermione's gaped, unsure of what to do. She climbed onto its back and almost shrieked when it stood up to its full height. The hippogriff was quite tall; she could feel her heart beating as she nervously clung to its neck.
"Help me." She mouthed. Draco shifted his weight to the other foot, not knowing if he should follow.
Suddenly, the hippogriff started running towards him. He shouted in surprise and ducked, covering his face. He looked up when he heard a scream and a quick breeze passed him. The hippogriff was flying over the trees, with Hermione clinging to its neck like it was her lifeline.
Draco looked at the rest of the hippogriffs and slowly approached them. The one closest to him turned to look at him. Immediately, he bowed to the same height as he had before. Waiting, he looked up to see that it had already bowed. It must've seen me bow before. He thought, smiling to himself. He touched it gently on its back and it lowered like Hermione's had. Draco climbed on top of it, holding the side of its neck. It stood up and he tightened his grip. With a short running start, it took off, slightly gliding at first before it turned upwards.
To Draco, the ride was enjoyable. It was different from riding a broom but he was used to being in the air. Hermione, on the other hand, was about to faint. She had her eyes shut, unable to utter any sound as the hippogriff flew swiftly through the air, occasionally making sharp turns. Draco's hippogriff flew faster until it caught up to Hermione's. He felt sympathy towards the girl that he knew hated being up so high in the air like this. He felt them descending back to where they were before.
The two hippogriffs landed, nearly shaking them off. Draco slid off and bowed once again before running to Hermione. She was still clinging to the hippogriff, eyes shut and tears streaming down her face.
He grabbed her hand and helped her down, catching her when she stumbled slightly. He bowed to Hermione's hippogriff and it bowed in return, turning away from the pair. Draco led Hermione away from the herd and sat her up against a tree. She brought her knees up to her chest and began to sob silently into her arms. Draco sat against the tree opposite her and idly played with the grass. Her sobs racked her body and Draco felt helpless. He knew of her deathly fear of flying. The whole experience probably caught her off guard.
Eventually, Hermione's sobs diminished until she was no longer crying. Draco had nearly dozed off while waiting for her to finish. He opened his eyes abruptly when he heard her groan quietly.
"What?" He asked.
Her head dropped back into her arms. "This is the second time you've seen me cry. How embarrassing." She mumbled, her cheeks tinting to a slight pink. Luckily, he couldn't see her blush through her arms. She exhaled loudly. "And we didn't even get a feather!"
She lifted her head, gasping when Draco held a hippogriff's feather in between his fingers. "How'd you—"
"Pretty easy actually. Just plucked one right off while we were landing. It was loose anyways so I don't even think it felt it." He said, smirking at his achievement. Hermione's jaw dropped.
"I know I'm amazing Granger but really, no need to thank me." He said sarcastically.
"I—I— don't—" She stuttered. Draco's smirk widened.
"Now let's find us some centaurs. What is up with all these half-horse creatures anyways? I bet the Elder Tree is shaped like a horse or has horsehair for leaves or something." He chattered. Hermione giggled softly and stood up to follow him deeper into the forest. Draco handed her the feather and she took it from him, its softness tickling the palm of her hand. She put the feather safely into her pocket. Draco shoved his hands into his own pockets and allowed Hermione to lead the way. Item one, check.