Desire is Not Weakness

How does Draco sort out his feelings for Hermione Granger with an impending war? Students at Hogwarts are on edge, but will he be able to contain himself?

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9. Muddled

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For the rest of the day, Draco muddled through thoughts of hatred and Hermione, which simultaneously whipped in and out of his head.  Hermione faced a clogged brain and no motivation.  Neither got any sleep that night, and the rest of the week dredged on every so slowly, each minute ticking by as if it were an hour.  Late nights awake in the common room came and went and neither found comfort in friends.  This continued until the ill-fated day in Slughorn’s Potions Class when he decided that the class would return to working in partners.  Their task?  To write on Polyjuice Potion and its effects: five feet of parchment.  

When the assignment was announced, Ron snickered and both he and Harry eyed Hermione.

“This will be handed in at the end of the week.  Find your partners and begin your research,” Slughorn announced.

Both Harry and Ron made a fast break for Hermione, and as they reached her desk simultaneously, both attempting to claim her, she failed to pay either of them any attention.

“So, ‘Mione, Harry’s got the potions book of legends, I guess that means you’re mine,” Ron eased.

“And nowhere does it hand me five feet of parchment,” Harry retorted.

“You made me take this class, I get her.”

“Honestly, Ron, shove off, mate.”

From behind the trio, a high, sing-songy voice spoke, “Oh Won-Won!  You promised we’d work together this time.”  The moaning voice gave Hermione a migraine, and she rubbed her temples as she looked away from Lavender.  Harry snickered and Ron shot him a glare, causing Hermione to simply scoff.

“Sorry, Lav, I’m already working with -”

“Miss Granger!” Professor Slughorn approached the small group.  Ron sighed in relief and shook his head in agreeance.

“Sir?” Hermione responded.

“After the work, you produced from your pairing with Mr. Malfoy on your last assignment, I think it best that the two of you work together again,” he beamed.  “My two top students!” he exclaimed, clapping his hands together.   Harry made an attempt to protest but backed down after realizing he needed to remain on Slughorn’s good side.  Slughorn blatantly ignored Ron’s protest, as per usual, as he continued, “I do hope you haven’t already paired up yet.”

“No …” Hermione said reluctantly.  “Draco will be fine,” she said, finally lifting her head to face her Professor.

“Splendid!” he clapped again.  Then, turning to Harry, Ron, and Lavender, he gave a weak smile, “Boys, I’m sure after receiving your marks on that last …”

“Masterpiece,” Ron finished.

“Unacceptable piece of ‘work’, you’ll be separating yourselves.  So, that’ll be Weaselbee and Miss Brown as a pair.  Harry, my boy, I do believe Miss Patil is still in need of a partner.”  Reluctantly, the group scattered, and Hermione remained at her seat for a moment more, dreading having to face Draco for even a moment.

When she reached his table, she set down her bag and pulled out a fresh scroll of parchment.  Draco had already set a quill next to a vat of ink on the table and stared at Hermione expectantly.  She left her head down, trying to judge the proper moment to look at him.  She scratched her quill on the parchment for a few moments, and after rereading the statement she had just written, she smiled and set the quill down momentarily.

“You know what your problem is?” he sneered.  Despite the attempt at a harsh tone, his voice cracked and he sounded numb.  Hermione didn’t respond, but she locked eyes with him.

‘Eye-contact is power’, she reminded herself, ‘it shows that their words have no effect on you’.

“You try so hard … to be the best at everything you do and you live in constant fear of failure.  And you know why?  Because you know that you don’t deserve your magic.  You think that if you suck-up to all of your professors and if you’re the top of our class, that it means you’re like the rest of us.  You think you can convince yourself that you belong here.  But you know, you know that you don’t.  You know that if you slip up, you’ll just become another muggle-born casualty, another screw up,” he spoke with conviction.  He didn’t mean the words, they just fell out.  He just wanted to hurt her, get under her skin.  He wanted to feel as if he was above her again, as if he was in control.

“And do you know your problem, Malfoy?” she asked, his last name rolling off her tongue in such an icy tone that he mentally begged for her to use his first name again.  “You think that just because you were born to a line of strictly wizards, let me emphasize the word think, as we all know that’s impossible, that you’re better than the rest of us.  That’s just a start, you work so hard to make a name for yourself, and what for?  To prove yourself to your father?” she said, her voice beginning to grow, although it was still silent in comparison to the noisy classroom.  “Oh, please, let me burn my parents off the family tree, am I a pureblood yet?”

“Don’t mention my father,” he growled, interrupting her rant.

“Oh, I’m not done,” she said, slamming her fist on the table.  “You are so pathetic!”

“Stop.”

“How would your father react if he knew that your grades were second to a mudblood’s?” she snapped.

"Granger, Christ help me.”

“What would he do if he saw the best you can do is terrorize three Gryffindors?  How much would you suffer?”

“Granger!” he said, standing abruptly.

“There is nothing you can do to better yourself.  You are beyond help.”

“Enough!” he screamed, silencing the room.

Hermione stood from her seat, collected her things,  and made her way to the front of the room.

“Professor, pardon me, I’m not feeling so well.  May I?”

“Oh, yes!  Yes, dear, off to Madame Pomfrey you go,” he said as Hermione quickly strode off to the door.  Calling after her, he continued, “Miss Granger!  Is there anything I can help with?”

“No, sir.  Thank you, I assure you I’ll be fine,” she said, heading off to the abandoned girl’s lavatory.  

Back in the Potion’s room, Harry and Ron exchanged glances from across the room, and their eyes simultaneously became trained on Malfoy as he gathered his belongings and made his way to Slughorn’s desk as well.

“Professor Snape requested me in his office at this time, surely you’ll excuse me?” he lied quickly.  Slughorn only studied him momentarily before nodding in approval.  

“Go ahead,” he said.  As Malfoy was about to exit the room, the professor called him back again, “Draco, my boy, the lavatory,” he nodded, making sure Draco understood what he had meant, then turning away.

Draco had thought to turn back, but his feet carried him in the direction he’d seen Granger go.  His footsteps echoed in the deserted halls and he found himself outside the door of the first-floor girl’s lavatory.  On any other occasion, he would not have simply pushed open the door, but he knew what he would find this time.  Looking around, he caught sight of coffee colored curls as it was accompanied by the sound of muffled cries.  Before he had a chance to register his surroundings, a jet of blue light whipped past his head.  He stared at Hermione in awe as she shakily pointed her wand in his direction.  Another jet of light, this time purple.  He managed to deflect this one.

“Fight back!” she screeched, casting another curse at him.  “Fight me!  Prove to me that I don’t deserve my magic.”  Another jet of light once again deflected.  “You pathetic coward, fight back!”

“I’m not going to fight you,” he said, trying to remain calm.  Another jet of light whipped at him, but as he deflected this, it hit a sink, spewing water all across the floor.  Hermione sank to her knees, and the brazen, collected girl Draco had always known, and utterly despised, cracked.  Tears fell from her golden brown eyes, although he could have sworn they were hazel.  She shot useless hexes at him, only one managing to singe his shirt.  He scrambled to heal the fresh burn on his upper left arm, and Hermione finally looked up at him.  She doubled over, trying to reach him.  She stood and grabbed his arm, but he batted her away.

“Draco, let me -” she begged.

“I don’t need your help.”

“Draco -”

“No!” he shouted.

“Just let me,” she whimpered.  “Just rip the sleeve off, or -” she grabbed at the seam of the sleeve and pulled down, tossing it to the ground.  Her eyes grew wide as she noticed the mark that stained his inner forearm.  “You took the …” she mumbled, slowly moving away from him, stumbling backward.

“Granger …”

“You really are -”

“Hermione.”

“You took the mark.  He … Harry tried to tell me … tell us, I didn’t believe him.”

“Let me explain,” he pleaded.

“That night at Borgin and Burkes … I defended you, I trusted that you wouldn’t take it this far.”

“Always so quick to see the good in people.”

“I trusted you,” she said, her voice cracking.

“I was chosen!”

“For years … you hid behind money.  False power.  You coward!” Hermione said, tears falling from her face.  She shot a jinx at him, sending him flying backward.  He countered with another, striking her down.  Their bodies collided as they slid across the floor, neither deciding to move.  They simply laid there, drowning in their thoughts.

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