Hyaci Here! Sorry I didn't update earlier, guys! I hope you guys are still interested in the story. My inspiration just... upped and left me. It's back now, hopefully for a long while this time around.
I know this chapter might feel a little weak compared to the earlier ones, but I'd written myself into a hole, and had to write myself out of it soooo...
So please enjoy chapter 9!
Chapter 9: Revelations and Blackmail
In the middle of the Ravenclaw tower, in her bed decked with blue and bronze draperies, Hermione lay wide awake. Though she dearly yearned for sleep- an idea that had been utterly attractive before, and was becoming more tempting by the second- such a course of action was obstructed by her own curiosity. She let out a groan of frustration- who knew that her brain would torture her with taunts relating to the third floor corridor, and the Cerberus that rested there?
"Why," she muttered quietly to herself, mentally berating her mind for tormenting her so. She shifted, and held the pillows over her head, hoping to muffle her loud thoughts. Unluckily for her, there was no effect.
Why was the Cerberus there? She could not make heads or tails of it. Cerberuses were horrible dangerous beasts- a safety hazard that could potentially result in the closure of the school. And the room it was in wasn't very well protected, she mused with a frown. One simple first year spell- alohomora- and she had been able to force her way in. Did Professor Dumbledore really think he could preempt student entry with a warning and a lock?
Her mind flickered back to the Cerberus. Now that she thought about it… hadn't the Cerberus been sitting on something? When escaping, there had been no time to stop and examine the room, but she was almost certain that she had seen a patch of strangely discolored floor. What, what, what could it be? She ground her teeth in frustration as her mind worked to discount various possibilities.
She sat up straight in bed, her mind reeling with the probability that the three headed dog had been sitting on a trapdoor. The dog wasn't there without a reason, it wasn't there to waste space or to maul nosy pupils- no, the beast was there with a definite purpose. It was guarding something.
Without even thinking about what she was doing, Hermione swung her legs off and over the bed. Before she regained control of herself, she had snuck out of the dormitory, out of the common room, down the Grand Staircase, and into the forbidden third floor corridor.
When she noticed her surroundings, she gulped. Her subconscious was obviously attempting to sate her curiosity- but was it worth it? If she went in and wasn't careful, there was a distinct possibility she would be ripped to shreds and eaten for desert, her bones used as toothpicks, her life and goals torn from her- but if didn't, she would never be able to sleep again, her nights eternally plagued by this room and her unsatisfied curiosity.
Though even to her the second option was infinitely more palatable, she found her hand gripping the doorknob with a hard grip. It seemed that her subconscious had made the choice for her, something that relieved her greatly. Her life or death decision had been wrested from her hands, and whatever the outcome now, she could blame the inner workings of her mind.
Slowly, the door creaked open, and she slipped in. Now, there was only one door between her and the three-headed mutt. Her eyes shuttered close briefly, before opening again with a determined glint. Though anxiety pervaded her mind, her body was obviously not likewise affected, as she found her legs making long, confident strides towards the other room. She would flip that door open too, and confront the Cerberus, and find out once and for all if it was really resting atop a trapdoor, and if it was, what it was guarding.
She only made it halfway through the corridor.
There was something invisible there, a mysterious hidden presence, and she had bumped into it. Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second- before narrowing in suspicion. Out came her wand, and before her eyes even closed in a blink, she spoke the incantation of the Presence Revelation spell. "Homenum Revelio!"
A quick burst of light- which, if the books she read were to be trusted, was visible only to her- flashed about the room, and she saw a small figure illuminated by it- a distinctly humanoid figure, roughly her own size. Instantly she stood, her back against the door to prevent the other from escaping, her wand pointed at him or her in warning.
"Expelliarmus!" She had no idea if the spell would work or not- she had never had the opportunity to practice it, though the theory seemed easy enough. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise when a wand came flying through the darkness to her feet.
No longer wary, she spoke in a low voice, one tinted with the threat of a powerful hex- she spoke.
No response. Hermione could have smacked herself- what idiot would respond to that? She decided on another course of action. Swiftly, she made her way over to where the figure was last, gripped the air, and gave it a harsh tug.
The air came off, and a guilty looking Harry stood sheepishly in the center of the room.
Hermione's eyes widened- then narrowed. She should have known, should have noticed. He obviously didn't trust her enough to take her at her word. It was a definite thing that he had come up to check on what she did earlier that day, but the question was, how much did he know now?
Her mind buzzed with possibilities. It was possible, of course, that he knew nothing whatsoever, and had made no progress with his investigation thus far. It was an unlikely scenario, however. Equally improbable, at least in her eyes, was that he had made more progress than herself- for, despite her obvious inability to read her friends, Hermione still had great faith in her abilities. And, even then, she knew, with absolute surety, that Harry's mental capabilities were quite limited when contrasted with her own.
Better safe than sorry, however.
"What are you doing here," she snapped, her voice dangerously low. Feigning ignorance as to the purpose of his presence, she decided, was in her best interest. She didn't want to seem overly- and unnecessarily- suspicious and paranoid.
Harry flinched. "Just… checking."
His deep green eyes bored into her dark brown ones. "What was really up here." Ah, so he really didn't trust her. She knitted her brow together in a frown- she'd have to be more careful around Harry from now on, especially since she knew he wasn't trusting (trusting? What was she thinking? What was she smoking? He was a Slytherin after all. There was no way he'd take her at her word. She'd been naïve, and it wouldn't happen again.) Two options from here- be more discreet, or learn to lie better. She resolved to do both- relishing the challenge- but the former would have to work as the sole solution temporarily, as she had little time to work on the latter.
"Checking." Her thoughts were interrupted as he affirmed his statement.
She quirked an eyebrow in feigned interest. With measured steps, she approached the door, and quickly cast the unlocking charm. A loud click emanated from the lock, and the door creaked slightly ajar.
"Go," she said shortly, her voice toneless and emotionless. "Check."
He hesitated, obviously rather intimidated by her new, less accommodating attitude. When she flicked her wand back at him, he hurried to the door, and peeked in.
Though he made no sound, she could tell he had seen the Cerberus because his body began to shake in fear. A strange feeling filled her- a sort of satisfaction. He had questioned what she had told him, and now he was paying the price for it. Wouldn't it have been better to have remained ignorant than to snoop around, Harry? The new malicious voice in her head just wouldn't remain quiet for too long.
"You were telling the truth," his voice, soft, quiet, shaky, and timid, broke through her thoughts.
"I'm sorry?" she said, "what?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. "When I asked you what you were doing. You told me the truth."
"Well, what did you expect me to tell you?" she inquired quizzically. She knew full well that he really had had no expectations- as a Slytherin, she surmised based on the Slytherin reputation, it was in his nature to question all that he was told. He was, after all, sly.
"I just…" he seemed to struggle in a very unSlytherinish manner in his search for the correct words to articulate what was going through his head. "I just… had a feeling that you weren't being, well," he moved one hand in an abstract gesture. "I didn't think you were being completely honest."
In truth, she hadn't been. Hermione had been betting on Harry not taking her seriously, but now that he investigated and had discovered the truth, she wasn't about to tell him that. Instead, she decided to manipulate the situation to her advantage. She eyed him carefully, and quickly thought of several plans, eventually settling on one that she felt would be the most effective. It was still a hit or miss- she had no doubt that the possibility existed he would see right through her.
"I don't…" she trailed off purposefully. "I don't understand why you don't trust me…"
"A bit late to act like that now that I've seen you wave your wand threateningly at me isn't it, Hermione," Harry spoke, suddenly snide.
She dropped the act. "All right, Harry," she snapped. "In any case, I was really just doing this for the sake of my curiosity. It doesn't really concern you, and it won't really affect you, so why don't you just scurry back to the Slytherin common room like a good boy?"
"And the real Hermione shines through," Harry commented dryly.
Hermione glared at him. "Whatever, Harry." Shoving the situation into the back of her mind, she decided to salvage what she could of the situation, and peeked through the door to confirm her suspicions. As expected, there was a trapdoor under the Cerberus.
"You know," Harry smirked at her once she turned around, "I think I like this new Hermione better than the other, simpering one. The other one was merely useful for her intelligence," he paused, before continuing. "But I might actually start to like this new you."
"Do you," Hermione said shortly. "I'm glad, because you'll be seeing a whole lot more of her." She brushed past Harry on the way to the Grand Staircase. As she opened the door, she paused, and turned around to smile patronizingly at Harry.
"Thank you for the cloak, by the way," she said, in a poisonously sweet voice. "And your wand: With a flourish, she whipped his invisibility cloak over herself, and vanished into the darkness. The door closed behind her with a clang, leaving Harry standing in the middle of the room, his face the image of shock.
He had severely underestimated her. She had never really expected him to fall prey to her act any longer- although that would have been an added bonus. No, once she had seen his cloak, that had become her sole objective.
Really, she had little use for the cloak or the wand. Harry, however, was now wandless, and she had no doubt that the cloak was some precious heirloom of the Potter's. Both would make excellent blackmail material. She still needed to hold all the cards in this relationship, after all. Under the infallible cover of invisibility, her mouth curled into a victorious smirk.
"Give it back," he spoke through gritted teeth. She sat beside him, her face the epitome of calm as she filled out her notes at a shocking pace. Once a few more paragraphs had been transcribed onto the page, she put down her quill, and turned to him with a bland expression.
"Give what back?" Innocence shone through her face, and for the first time, Harry was able to see how good of an actress she truly was. Though he was sitting here, unable to conceal his frustration, she seemed to be able to perfectly mask the triumph that was ostensibly flowing throughout her entire being. The only outward sign of it was a radiant aura that seemed to simply shine through her whole body, from her head to her toes.
"You know," he answered, his voice choked with anger. "My cloak. My wand."
She turned away from him then, back to her notes. "If you want it back," she said, her voice rather smug as she picked her quill back up, "You'll have to make a few concessions."
He set his jaw. "What?" he said impatiently. "Which concessions?"
"First, you will continue acting as if we were in our normal friendship," she began.
He stiffened. There was no longer any doubt in his mind- she had been using him all along for his fame, just as he had used her for her brains. It unexpectedly stung. Still, the cloak- it was acceptable. "Alright-"
"Secondly," she continued, ignoring him completely, "there will be no questioning what I tell you about who I am, what I'm doing, what I'm feeling, ever again. Take- or at least pretend to take- what I say about myself as fact, always. Even if you question me, don't you dare go around investigating my actions."
Basically no snooping. He nodded once again. That sounded agreeable.
"Lastly," her voice took on a slippery, malevolent and sly texture. "I don't have to do anything. I'm not accountable for anything." Her eyes flickered back up to his. "But I can do anything."
There were many ways to interpret the last statement, all of which she would no doubt deviously take advantage of sooner or later down the road. If he accepted, there would be no balance in this relationship.
"If I don't agree?"
"Your wand will mysteriously turn up in the headmaster's office," she replied. "And any priori incantatem performed will reveal attempted dark magic." Her eyes turned to him. In a low voice, she continued. "You'll be implicated, if not expelled."
Though Harry had no clue what Priori Incantatem was, he realized the severity of her threat. And when he looked into her eyes, he realized there never had been any balance in the relationship.
"Well?" Hermione asked, her eyes full of sadistic glee. "What'll it be?"
Hehehe, Hermione blackmailing Harry... where will it go from here?
So? You like it? Or you don't? How do you think Harry should respond? Please review, I'll try my hardest to respond to every signed review.