Disclaimer: It's a well-known fact that JKR is the one with Draco locked up in her basement. And Harry and Ron and Hermione and Ginny and George and Fred… See? Fred can't be dead! JKR still owns him! You can't own a dead person, can you?
Anyway, since she owns them, I obviously don't. Woe is me.
A/N: Truthfully, I've been in a writing slump for a while now. To try and get the wheels turning, I've been signing up for an obscene number of challenges over at the HPFC. This one is for the Brewing Trouble Competition. My prompt will be listed below.
Anyone at Hogwarts would have told you that it had been a perfectly normal day. Even abnormal in its normality. Surprisingly, no couple delivered a public fight and break up in the hallways, on the Grounds, in the middle of any class, or during a meal. Somehow, Tracey Davis managed to restrain herself from snogging someone else's boyfriend. Nothing suspicious even happened to Harry Potter. In fact, nothing remotely scandalous occurred all day long. When Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown sat cross-legged on their beds that night, the only thing they could talk about was how boring the day had been. If the trend continued, they would be forced to revert to discussing old news. And if the epidemic lasted much longer, things would get even worse. They might even end up talking about their lessons.
That would be simply pathetic.
However, for one individual, it had not been a perfectly normal day. For the boy pacing in circles around his dormitory – blond hair annoyingly hanging in his face after having come loose from its gel after all the times he ran an aggravated hand through it, grey eyes narrowed in frustration, mouth drawn into an unpleasant scowl on his pale face – it had been a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day that was the total opposite of perfect and normal. For Draco Malfoy, it had been one of the worst days of his teenage life. Okay, other than that day when Harry Potter had stolen the House Cup back in first year, and that day Potter caught the Snitch before him (fine… days), and that day when that horrid Mudblood had slapped him… all right, so there were quite a few worse days out there, but this day was definitely among them.
Because even though everyone else thought that it was a perfectly normal day, for Draco, it was the day he stumbled upon a dilemma of titanic proportions.
Literally – stumbled.
He had just been strolling down the hallway, as usual. Unfortunately, Crabbe and Goyle lingered longer in the Great Hall, stuffing pastries in their faces. Had he waited for them, he possibly could have avoided the entire mess and shared everyone's opinion that the day had been perfectly normal. Of course, it's useless to explore the questions of 'what if' since no one can act upon such speculations unless in possession of some means to travel back in time. To his great dismay, Draco Malfoy lacked such a method, meaning that his day was horrible, terrible, no good, and very bad, because Crabbe and Goyle had been left behind, and because his sides therefore were left vulnerable, and because his unprotected right sleeve just happened to be rolled up, and because his precious, untainted skin just happened to brush against another person's as they passed in the hallway.
It was only ever so lightly, mind you. Had Draco Malfoy shoved the other person, it at least would have given Parvati and Lavender something to gossip about. But alas, he did not shove the person and it was only a light brush. So light, actually, that Draco spent much of the remainder of his horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day trying to convince himself that he had imagined it. Note the use of the word 'try,' since it didn't work. Probably because he hadn't imagined it, and he did brush against that other person's skin, and that – yes, that there – was the problem. His dilemma of titanic proportions.
Because, you see… Hermione Granger had really soft skin.
Seriously, unbelievably soft skin. Impossibly soft skin. She had to use some charm or magical potion, like those ones advertised in his mother's Witch Weekly magazines (not that he read them or anything; he had just seen them lying around the Manor before) that were supposed to make your skin feel like fine silk. Yet Granger's skin had felt much softer than his mother's, who he knew must have been the person to go through all those empty bottles of Silky Solutions he found under the bathroom sink. But still, there was no way the Gryffindor know-it-all could have skin that soft naturally. If she did, that would be completely unfair. Skin that magnificent should belong to someone more worthy: some beautiful, pureblood girl, preferably someone his age so his enjoying the feel of that silkiness would be acceptable.
Because that was what he wanted to do, what he kept thinking, dreaming, obsessing about for the rest of his horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day. He wanted to feel, touch, caress that skin whose softness he may or may not have imagined. Such thoughts, of course, were horrendous and disgusting when said skin belonged to that rotten bookworm. They were so treacherous, these dangerous daydreams that slipped into his head all day long no matter how hard he tried to mentally shoo them away, that he just might have retreated to a secluded bathroom a time or two (or twenty-three) during the day to bang his traitorous head against the wall in an effort to physically beat them from his brain.
Unfortunately, doing so only made his horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day even worse, since it didn't do its proper job and kindly gave him a massive headache in sympathy. Or perhaps punishment.
For this reason, Draco Malfoy was burning a circular path in front of his four-poster bed, still focused on the topic which had plagued his poor, over-worked mind since that cursed run-in with Hermione Granger.
"I need to fix this," he mumbled to himself, acting a bit deranged, to tell the truth. Suddenly, he let out a frustrated yell. "I'm going mad!" he declared with a crazed glint in his eye. "Stupid, stupid Granger and her stupid, stupid skin and its stupid, stupid softness… AGH!"
Yanking a hand through his hair, he held his head in his palms for a long moment, forcing himself to take deep breaths and think about absolutely nothing. Slowly, he started nodding his head, lowering his hands as he sat down on his mattress.
"All right. The thoughts aren't just going to go away," he murmured thoughtfully. "So I need to make the problem go away. Yeah…" Then, with all the warning of a bludger slamming into your back, an idea popped into his head.
"Yeah, yeah, that's it!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "I just need to find some charm or hex or curse or maybe even a potion to do the job."
With a plotting smirk plastered on his face, Draco retired early that night so he could wake up as soon as possible and head over to the Library.
"No… no… no… Merlin! That's… interesting. But not what I want…" Draco muttered to himself. Before him, dozens of books were scattered all over the tabletop. At first, there had been a method to the madness (already read on the left side of the table, to read on the right, possibilities in the middle), but over the past hour and a half, things had descended into chaos. After searching and searching, he still hadn't found anything quite good enough.
"Ohhh!" he exclaimed suddenly, having just turned to a new chapter of the book currently in his hands simply entitled 'Skin.' The intimidating size of the text in question (which proclaimed itself as The Ultimate Reference of Western Spells and Potions for the Body in boring block letters) had kept him from breaking it open earlier. Besides, he preferred those texts with ancient, abnormal spellings or mysterious, dark stains; they always seemed more reliable in his eyes. Nevertheless, this gigantic encyclopedia just might have a more promising option. Those lethal rashes and puss-seeping boils seemed a bit overboard anyway.
Flipping the pages swiftly, he commented to himself as he scanned the labels of words: "Too boring, too difficult, not good enough, too time consuming, oh, that's a possibility." He paused, tilting his head sideways to study the accompanying picture. He had never seen a person so swollen before. Then his eyes slid down the paper to the entry beneath the picture.
"Wartcap Powder," he read aloud. As he skimmed the short passage, a satisfied smirk sneaked its way onto his face. "Perfect."
Getting his hands on some Wartcap Powder had been surprisingly easy. Then again, Professor Slughorn wasn't the most observant person on the planet. The plan Draco had developed the previous night (and gone over multiple times that morning during breakfast to keep his mind off of those stupid, stupid dreams that had infiltrated his sleep) was virtually flawless. And so far, he had executed it perfectly.
All right, so there had been a spot of trouble when he had to figure out how to get some of the powder from Slughorn's lidless bowl into his vial. Touching the stuff would be counterproductive (not to mention rather idiotic), but there was no convenient spoon to transfer the material. Fortunately, another lidless bowl on the other side of the cupboard did have a convenient spoon tucked inside the pile of black, spherical… things. Honestly, he had no idea what they were. Nasty looking, though, with the slime and the ooze and the… did he mention the slime? Anyway, figuring that he didn't care if the slimy gunk got into the Wartcap Powder (after all, he wouldn't be touching it or using it in some potion or whatnot), he quickly grabbed the spoon and shoveled some of the dull, mustard yellow powder into his vial.
And not a second too soon either. A mere second after he slid his capped and now filled glass vial into his robe pocket, none other than Harry Potter appeared in the doorway of the cupboard. Glares immediately were exchanged, and Draco made sure to sneer nastily as he exited the small room, carefully bumping into Potter as hard as he could without gathering Slughorn's attention.
For the rest of the day, Draco would comfort his poor brain whenever it fell into Bad Thoughts by slyly brushing his hands over the concealed container of Wartcap Powder. The only thing he could do was wait until the time was right. According to his meticulous plan developed in the dark of the night, the opportune time would be after dinner. Before dinner was even over, if possible.
Anxiety gnawed at him as he pecked at his roll, eyes constantly drifting to the mess of frizz hovering over on the far side of Gryffindor Table.
"Soon," he whispered to himself under his breath conspiratorially.
"Okay there, Draco?" Theodore Nott called from across the table, giving him an inquisitive glance.
"Will be," he vowed, straightening in anticipation as the girl he was studying rose from her seat. Shrugging off his housemates bizarre behavior, the other Slytherin boy returned to his food and didn't pay attention enough to even notice when Draco left his own seat and walked out of the room. This was good; Draco's plan depended on getting out of the Great Hall by himself and without attracting attention.
"Where you going, Draco?" the unwanted voice of Crabbe rang from just behind the quickly retreating blond.
"Just, er, back to the dormitory," Draco lied as he stood still. His eyes continually wandered towards the doors, wanting this little conversation to end as soon as possible. Five minutes ago would have been nice. "You stay here and finish eating."
"Don't you want us to—" Goyle began, half-chewed food spilling out of his mouth.
"Won't be necessary," Draco assured them authoritatively as he spun on his heel. The two boys glanced at each other for a moment, but when they turned their gaze to where Draco had been standing a second before, he was gone.
He was, in fact, already on his way to the Library, silently praying that his plan would work out. In an effort to get back the time he had lost thanks to Crabbe and Goyle, he sprinted down the hallways that were empty, slowing down to a casual stroll whenever he spotted a student, teacher, or ghost. Although it was strange and a bit tiring and sure did earn him a couple of questioning stares, he also rounded the corner leading to the corridor where the Library was located just in time to see a floating ball of hair slip through the doors.
"Yes!" he accidentally uttered aloud in his excitement. A fraction of a second later, he recomposed himself, slowly glancing around the area to check if anyone had seen that embarrassing display. Fortunately, the coast was clear.
Once again assuming his casual, yet purposeful walk, he approached the doors and silently slipped inside. Since most of the castle was still eating dinner downstairs, the quietness of the Library was even quieter than usual. As Draco made his way to the back right corner, he didn't pass a single soul, living or otherwise. But once he reached his destination, the sound of books being dumped onto a tabletop echoed through the air.
He would have to work quickly.
Immediately Draco maneuvered over to the aisles on the many topics of Charms. Flitwick had assigned a foot long essay on Color Charms yesterday, which had only added to its horrible, terrible, no good, very bad-ness for him, but surely meant that Hermione Granger would be reading every text the Library boasted on the subject and scribbling out a first draft five times the required length.
Theoretically, this was the easy part. Choose a book with an appropriate title, sprinkle Wartcap Powder all over the spine, wait for bookworm Granger to pick it up and get the wonderful junk all over her unrealistically soft skin.
A satisfied smirk snaked over his face.
Sliding a finger along the shelf, Draco resisted the urge to mutter the titles as he read them. If Granger heard him, she would become suspicious and the whole plan would be worthless. And if she saw him, she would know he was planning something, and again with the worthlessness of his meticulously developed plan.
Finding an adequate candidate, Draco pulled the vial out of his inner pocket and carefully uncapped it. Standing as far back from the bookcase as he possibly could without falling forward, he stretched out his arm and poured the powder on top of the whole series of books, making sure to sprinkle an abundance on those with 'Color' in the title.
As soon as the vial was empty, Draco ran down the aisle, hiding behind one of those carts people were supposed to put the books they pulled out of the bookcases but decided not to borrow even though the only people that actually followed that little 'rule' were book-loving Ravenclaws and other library geeks. Everyone else, Draco included, would slop the unwanted texts onto the nearest bookshelf or, as was even more common, leave them on the table. Usually the stupid carts would annoy him for their uselessness, but just then, this particular cart was being particularly useful, and he vowed to never think of it as useless again. All right, until the next time it proved itself useless.
For a whole ten minutes he waited. Ten minutes may not seem like a very long time, but when you're crouched behind a metal cart, peering through the metal shelves, waiting for a slow, stupid, stupid bookworm to go and find her books, your thighs start to burn, your feet start to ache, and your nerves start approaching those notorious ends.
When Granger finally appeared in the aisle, Draco had to keep himself from sighing in relief. But the wait was not quite over, since she took forever to choose her books. Crouching low, she must have examined every book on every shelf as she slowly made her way up to where the powder sat waiting.
Eagerly, he watched her currently smooth hands finger their way up, up, up…
"What the… Merlin!" the Gryffindor girl exclaimed, jumping backwards in shock as her silky skin suddenly became a thick, hard crust. Just like it was supposed to.
Standing up, Draco backed up and pretended to just arrive on the scene. Finally, he let loose the laughter that he had been fighting to restrain ever since she had touched the powder. The cold, demeaning sound was music to his ears. Upon hearing it, Granger spun around to face him. Her expression hardened at once. With the tough cheeks, stiff lips, and crusted eyelids, it was not at all intimidating. Although she probably hoped the piercing glare would make him stop laughing, he just bent over in hysterics.
"Having… issues?" he asked mockingly in between his barks of laughter.
"Shut up, Malfoy!" she demanded darkly. Then she turned her attention to the bookcase, inspecting the place she had touched. "It's some sort of powder! It must have been on the books…"
"Don't bother blaming your lack of natural beauty on some evil, imaginary powder," he taunted, strutting closer but still leaving an ample amount of room between them.
"Shut up, Malfoy," she repeated with a roll of her eyes before spinning on her heel and retreating to her table. Curious, Draco followed, wondering what in Merlin's name the crazy know-it-all was doing and why she wasn't making a bigger deal out of it. He wanted her to make a huge deal out of it! Explode! That was more fun.
He couldn't resist smirking at the thought.
Nevertheless, his plan had worked rather well. That horrid crusty cover playing the role of her skin was awful and disgusting looking. He would never be able to think of her skin as soft or smooth or silky ever again.
Just like he wanted.
Suddenly his smirk disappeared.
In front of him, Granger pulled from her bag an unlabeled bottle of some greenish substance and poured it into her hand before rubbing it over her arm.
The stuff was scented.
It smelled like… melon. It smelled good.
"Crap," Granger uttered under her breath, squirting more of the wonderful smelling stuff on her arm.
"What… what is that?" Draco demanded, most definitely not breathless, not even a teeny bit.
"Lotion," she responded distractedly, sounding disappointed. "But it's not working… I'm going to need to go to the Hospital Wing."
Unable to speak, Draco stood frozen in the middle of the Library, merely watching as the literally tough-skinned girl packed her things, swung her bag over her shoulder, and rushed off, leaving a lingering scent of melon in the air.
Stupid, stupid lotion.
A/N: And the prompt was Wartcap Powder: causes the person that touches it to form a thick, hard crust. Care to tell me what you think?