A/N: Hey everybody, I'm back! I'm still sorry about the long wait. Anyway chapter seven is here! Thank you all for your amazing reviews. But before we start…..
The Results are in:
Neville – 20
Harry – 20
And we have a problem- it's a tie! So here is what we are going to do – the next person to vote is the tie breaker. PLEASE read the full chapter before you vote. Now… Have at it? (Hiding under her desk.)
A/N II: Actually, hold on a minute, I promised romance for Draco and you're going to get it. So this chapter is primarily a twist of fate for Draco which I neither intended nor saw coming. I reiterate: PLEASE READ THE FULL CHAPTER BEFORE VOTING because it has content that may make you change your mind.
And as always:
Chapter Seven: A Jumbled Mess
"What are you implying Draco?"
"I'm "implying" exactly what I said. You did something to Granger, and though I don't know what it is, you bloody well better fix it." The blonde fumed, pacing in front of his godfather's desk.
"I didn't do anything to the girl, so what allows you the gall to storm in here and demand that I did?"
Draco turned to face Snape and growled. "She's broken." He ran his hand through his hair and then continued. "I left her in the dungeons knowing that she was coming to see you and then the next morning she didn't show up to discuss History of Magic. I ran into her at lunch and she looked ghastly, like she wasn't really there. When she left I followed…"
He sighed, turning away from his professor. "I came up behind her and grabbed her arm to turn her around. She screamed. Then Potter and Weasel showed up so I've barely been able to see her since. Besides, when I have she either gives curt responses to things or doesn't say anything at all."
The boy turned back towards the desk, "It has to have been you that did it. I watched her open the door to potions the other day and she was literally shaking."
He glared, "You're ruining everything!"
Severus was furious, how dare the boy imply such a thing? Even if it was probably true that whatever was plaguing Granger was partially due to him, he had no right. But another part of Snape was angry at himself, he knew the girl was fragile, so why did he snap like that? It didn't make sense.
'Now Granger is "broken"?'
He hadn't expected that.
That's a lie, part of him had. He had been running scenarios for days about the chain reaction he had catalyzed. Would she go to McGonagall? Parkinson? To Weasley? Or Potter? Or, dare he think it, had she gone to Malfoy?
Severus was most worried about the final possibility. He wasn't sure what his godson was up to, but he knew Draco's intentions were most likely not pure. This sudden interest in Granger? He was wary of it.
But now that he knew what was going on with Granger he had thought of a new reaction. What if she hadn't gone to anyone? If she was keeping to herself she could be breaking. For all he knew he may very well have created the crack that wills her to shatter…
"Why does it matter Draco? You seem to have developed a rather peculiar interest in Granger…"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well perhaps her current affliction is due to you. Perhaps her friends were less than amiable about her affiliation with you. Potter and Weasley have never been fond of you." Snape drawled, mentally urging the boy to leave the room.
"Professor, that has nothing to do with this."
Finally Severus pushed. "Does it now… I seem to recall the two of you acting rather… close, as of late."
Draco huffed, storming out of the room and growling. "Fine if you won't fix it, I will. Maybe it will be all the better for my "relationship" with Hermione."
Snape groaned, and stood to retrieve a draught that would relieve his headache. That was not the end for which he intended.
Hermione was nervous walking into potions that day, so she waited for her classmates to arrive. She didn't want to be alone with Snape. She wasn't necessarily scared, however, she was frightened at the time. She was also rather shaken up the next day. More than anything she was confused. What did it mean? That Professor Snape had reacted like that?
If he didn't like her presence shouldn't he have just asked her to leave? If he didn't want her there he could have just said so, he didn't have to force himself to deal with her. But the worst thing was, she had just convinced herself ….
That he didn't mind.
Obviously she was wrong. She should have guessed, because lately she was wrong more than she was right. But it hurt more, because she had just received a letter from Aunt Louise… Her mother wasn't improving, she didn't show any signs of waking up and the school year was already past the halfway mark. And now she couldn't talk to Snape. She was tearing herself up inside trying to decide who to go to. In D.A. she couldn't even conjure her patronus, she barely summoned a wisp of the cloud.
Then she heard footsteps approaching behind her and sighed. 'This is going to be a long class.'
Neville was rather confused about everything lately. He was worse than ever at potions without Hermione helping him. He didn't understand what was going on that she alternated so quickly between being happy, sad, or frustrated. She had quite the mood swings lately. He also didn't see what was going on with the full trio, they seemed detached. Harry was full of angst and Ron was an idiot per usual. Actually, he shouldn't say that, he still hadn't even managed a wisp from his wand for a patronus, Ron had one that was full fledged.
Longbottom nervously watched his potion. Today's seemed relatively simply, and he knew all about the ingredients they were using. Surely he could do this. But what frustrated him was that nothing ever seemed to stick, He felt like such a failure, failing his Grandmother and his Housemates.
There were people who made it look so easy…. 'People like Draco Malfoy.'
Neville looked over at the boy in question, only to lock stares with a pair of blue-grey eyes. He saw Malfoy smirk before quickly looking away. Blimey, what had he just done?
Draco was watching Granger, who simply stared at her cauldron and monotonously followed the brewing directions. The potion was rather simple, so surely hers would be perfect. 'Perfect potions.'
His attention turned to Neville Longbottom who was at the table with Granger, the one right next to him. Now there was a prime example of what not to do when brewing. But then Malfoy had to look again, because Neville was actually properly following the directions. He was still fumbling a bit, but he was very concentrated on what he was doing. This was very unlike his normal state.
'Normally Longbottom is in a perpetual state of panic, fretting over Snape and barley able to keep track of his cauldron. What in Merlin's name is going on?' Then he looked over to the professor who was patrolling the room and he noticed something unusual. Snape wasn't going anywhere near the desk that Granger and Longbottom shared, but he was paying close attention to Hermione. Draco grinned, 'This will be interesting.'
But then his attention was pulled back to Neville. Was Snape really the reason that the bumbling boy failed so terribly at potions? Because even though Draco did occasionally mess with the Gryffindor's cauldron it was never something that Longbottom wouldn't have done himself. Part of Draco was proud of Neville, that he wasn't so terrible at brewing. However another part, rather large in comparison, was frustrated because it liked to watch the boy get frustrated when his potion failed or his cauldron would explode.
That's when Neville looked at him. He locked gazes with the boy and smirked at him, watching him fumble and begin to flush red. But the Gryffindor quickly looked away.
Now Draco had to decide whether he preferred the bumbling boy or the competent one.
But the decision was actually much larger than just Neville Longbottom…
Severus couldn't decide what to do. There was no way for him to rectify the situation without seeing Granger outside of class, without talking to her. So he watched her, waiting for her to do anything wrong, anything at all. But she didn't…
Harry was beginning to fumble with his potion. 'What am I doing?' he yelled at himself. 'I almost put in the wrong ingredient. If I mess this up I'm doomed, because between Umbridge and Snape I'll be in detention for eternity. Damnit.' He growled to himself, and then sighed.
A nearby growl caught Draco's attention. He looked up and towards its source. There he found, Harry Potter. Potter was the bane of his existence, Draco was sure of it. From day one the boy had his attention, yet all he did was throw it back in the Slytherin's face.
Malfoy had offered to help him, but had also offered more than just that when he presented his hand to Harry that first day. Most would think he had forgotten about it long ago, or that it had only fueled his anger. Well then, they would be partially correct, but not fully. Draco was hurt by the rebuff. That hurt turned into anger which fueled his hostility towards the Gryffindor's, mainly the Golden Trio.
Draco had been furious that the Weasel had been picked instead of him. Surely he, a Malfoy, was the better choice. Yet Harry had been raised by muggles, so perhaps he didn't know any better but then Granger came along and the Slytherin was furious. Weasel, and Potter even, were prats to her yet still expected her to take their offer of friendship but Harry wouldn't take his?
The Slytherin boy growled himself, looking down at his cauldron. Harry Potter was his rival. While Harry was the Chosen One and Golden Boy, Draco was the Ice Prince. Potter was a Gryffindor and Malfoy is a Slytherin. The two couldn't be more opposed if they tried, yet it seemed they always were, and always would be.
And surprisingly enough, that thought upset Malfoy. He didn't want it to stay that way.
Harry heard what sounded like an answering growl so he looked to the source. There he saw Malfoy working on his potion. That was a boy that he didn't understand, what must he be like to believe all of that pure blooded nonsense?
Still Harry watched him, and then Draco looked up, making eye contact with the Gryffindor. Potter jumped and looked away.
Potter had been watching him. He felt the stare and when he looked up he was met with the beautiful sight of emerald green eyes. Oh, what was he thinking? Harry jumped and looked away, returning to his potion. If you could call it that, he didn't really seem to be paying attention. Now what was Draco going to do. Attention from both of them in one day, let alone in one class, is typically enough to make him wish he were spontaneously combusting.
Damnit! He needed Granger.
Snape was contemplating his godson when he decided on what he would do. It was going to work one way or another…
Hermione had finished her potion and now was watching Neville, willing him to continue doing so well. Then Snape stormed over.
"Longbottom! What do you think you are doing?" he demanded.
Neville jumped and stepped away from his cauldron so that he wouldn't mess anything up. Hermione was shocked. She couldn't believe that he would do that, actually, she was frustrated and becoming increasingly angry with her professor as he unnecessarily worried her table-mate.
"Professor, Neville didn't do anything wrong. You shouldn't scare him like that. It's not right!" she urged.
Snape smirked, turning on the girl. "I was merely going to commend Mr. Longbottom for not blowing up the classroom today. Now I suppose I shall have to put it off and deal with you instead. Miss Granger, ten points from Gryffindor for speaking out of turn and detention with me tonight for insinuating foul play by a professor."
Hermione looked down, biting her lip to hold back her mewl of protest. Now he wasn't being fair. 'He really was heckling Neville!'
After that class was dismissed. Everyone cleared the room, Gryffindors grumbling and Slytherins snickering at the others misfortune. Snape retreated to his office to think through the next step of the plan and the students left the classroom to head on to their next class.
Soon only two people were left in the room…
Draco stepped up towards Neville's desk, where the boy was collecting his things. The Gryffindor was moving slowly, looking down and not paying any attention to his surroundings. Malfoy moved to leave, but sighed and stopped as he reached the door.
"Longbottom" he called out and then waited for the other boy to respond.
Neville looked up and the two made eye contact before Draco continued, "Don't blame yourself, or worry about Granger." He walked away and out the classroom door, but finished "You did good today…"
The Slytherin left behind a very confused lion, who could only stare at the door as he began to feel his face heat up.
Exiting the classroom, Draco ran into the prone form of Harry Potter. Malfoy cursed and pushed away walking past the boy and up the stairs a blush forming on his face. He wouldn't survive this much attention for long.
Little did he know that he had left his Gryffindor rival in the corridor, staring after him, his thoughts jumbling together.
A/N: It's done! Yay! Now you have a basis for your vote. Who will Draco pick, Harry or Neville? And what will happen for Hermione and Snape. You will soon see.
Have a nice night, and please review.