Author's Note: Another short chapter, my apologies! But I didn't want to combine it with the next chapter, which will be a group session, and which will be coming shortly (next couple of days), I promise! As a side note, I think this happened a few chapters ago, but we've passed the 100 reviews mark, people! I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to all the people who have been keeping up with this story despite my infrequent updates. You're all amazing.
Draco hurried up the stone steps into the Entrance Hall beside Granger, both their faces flushed with pleasure. He could barely suppress his urge to grin like a maniac. It was about ten minutes past midnight, and they had just tested their design for their Arithmancy project under the light of the full moon, and it had worked. The afterimage of the illuminated design still burned his retinas as they quietly made their way across the marble floor.
"Do you know what this means, Malfoy? We're almost finished-"
He turned his head slightly as he heard something on the stairs, then threw out his hand to stop her from walking, and talking. Granger looked up at him with a confused expression on her face, until she heard the wheezing.
"Filch," she whispered, her face draining of all color.
He could almost see her thoughts about getting caught out of bed after curfew, with a boy, no less, and what it might mean for her Head Girl badge.
He assessed the situation. There was no way she could make a run for her dorm, as he knew the Gryffindor Common Room to be on the 7th floor. And he'd have to sprint all the way across the hallway to make it to the steps that lead into the dungeons. The broom closet to the left was their best bet.
"In here," he whispered, pulling her inside behind him.
They both held their breath as they listened to Filch make his way across the hall, mumbling the whole time to his cat. What a nutter, he thought with an eye roll.
"What's that, my sweet? Do you smell something behind the door?"
Draco felt Granger stiffen. The closet was quite small, and she was standing in front of him facing the door. Consequently, her bushy hair was all up in his face. He drew in a sharp breath as he realized that Mrs. Norris must be sniffing around outside the closet door, probably because Granger's hair smelled like pomegranate, and any second Filch was going to open the door and-
But right at that moment, a huge crash had sounded from above them. With a roar that sounded vaguely like "PEEVES!" they heard him hobble away, cursing the poltergeist.
Draco finally exhaled, his breath causing several of Granger's curls to bounce around, tickling his chin. It's softer than I thought it would be, he thought to himself.
"Wh-what?" he heard Granger ask, still obviously shaken from the close encounter with Filch, and he realized a split second too late he had said that out loud.
He felt heat rise to his face, and was glad that they were in darkness.
"Your hair," he replied, as nonchalantly as he could. "It's softer than I thought it would be."
"Oh." They stood awkwardly in the darkness for a few moments.
"…I think we can get out now, Granger."
She stepped out cautiously into the hall, glancing around to make sure Filch really was gone, then turned to face him as he exited as well.
"I guess I'll…see you tomorrow, then."
He looked down into her face. She was looking at him oddly, her large brown eyes wide and confused. The smell of pomegranate lingered on the air and he closed his eyes, breathing in deeply. He stood there for a few moments, enjoying how lightheaded it made him feel, before he realized what he was doing. His eyes snapped open and he took a step back, surveying her warily. At some point her eyes had closed too, and she was swaying slightly. Whether she heard him move or merely sensed his lack of proximity he didn't know, but she opened her eyes slowly and looked a little dazed.
"Goodnight," he said, a bit too harshly, and he marched across the Hall to the steps that would take him down into the dungeons.
"'Night, Malfoy," she called, a twinge of sadness to her voice. He shook his head as he walked. The full moon did strange things to a person.
"So, I've decided that I want to try talking to you."
Sophie smiled at him as he entered her office.
"Well, that's a change. May I ask what prompted it?"
Draco sat in the armchair opposite hers and chose his words carefully.
"I have been trying to be a better person and did not see how talking with you would help that. And while it still may not help me, not talking to you definitely won't. So I thought I'd give it a go."
"So what would you like to talk about?"
He stared at her blankly. "Isn't that your job to decide?"
She laughed. "There are a number of topics I'd love to discuss with you and your peers, but I've been spending the past two months trying to earn your trust and respect. My main subject of focus would of course be your experiences during the war, but somehow I get the feeling you wouldn't like to talk about that yet."
He looked away from her hastily. "You're right," he said quietly. "I wouldn't like to talk about that."
Sophie let the silence stretch for a few seconds. "Why not? It's in the past."
He closed his eyes. "I did and saw horrible things, and I have no desire to relive them."
"Bottling up your feelings about what happened won't help, Draco. If you want to move forward you need to come to terms with everything you went through by facing it head on."
He shook his head, eyes still closed. "I'm not ready yet. Can we just talk about something else for now? If we don't change topics soon, I'll probably be put off this whole 'talking about it' thing for life."
Sophie sighed, surveying Draco sadly. He had so many pent-up emotions, and she was quite afraid that one day he might snap. However, it wouldn't do to push him, so she decided to let it go. For now.
"Okay then. How about school? What's happening in your Arithmancy class right now? I know it's your favorite."
His head snapped up and his expression changed from pained to excited immediately. It was really quite astonishing to see how just the mere mention of the subject made his eyes alight. It seemed to be one of the few things he was really passionate about.
"It's fantastic. Just the other night Granger and I had a major breakthrough on our project. We'll be finished in about a week I imagine, earlier than Professor Vector expected…"