Chapter 11: Whispers on the winds
The following morning dawned bright and gay, and Hermione couldn’t be in a more cheerful spirit. She spent the whole of the morning quietly humming to herself in an attempt to remind herself of that. There was nothing but the clear blue sky and the birds singing sweetly that could outweigh her optimism.
Even when she entered the Great Hall for breakfast, and was aware of the fact that Draco was attempting to make his way towards her, she didn’t allow it to affect her. She simply looked away from him, and struck up a conversation with Fred and George, thanking them for the scones and butterbeer the night before.
She caught a glimpse of Draco as he strode away from the table. He did not seem happy, and so Hermione was all the more pleased because it showed her that he was regretting something about her. Either that, or he was so appalled at her behavior the night before that he simply wanted to disregard her, and it was quite possible that his drawing close to the Gryffindor table had nothing to do with her.
Perhaps he was now to be interested in one of the other Gryffindor girls. If he was, she wished him luck, as (knowing her fellow Gryffindors as she did,) she didn’t hold out much hope for them. She giggled to herself when she considered Lavender Brown chattering about something superficial with Parvati Patil. The mere thought that Draco might be swept off his feet by Lavender or Parvati was simply laughable, and Hermione did laugh if only to cover the sudden feeling that gripped her stomach.
I am not jealous. It’s just hunger that is gnawing at me. I am NOT making myself jealous over the thought of Lavender being in Draco’s arms!
But try as she might, Hermione could not banish the mental image now that she had conjured it. It was making her feel as if she would be sick, and each time she tried to swallow, her insides rebelled.
Excusing herself from the Weasley twins, she made her way out of the Great Hall and back to the Gryffindor Common Room. There she found Harry, Ron and Ginny conversing in hushed tones. Ginny saw her first and nudged Harry, who in turn tapped Ron, and the three stopped talking. Curious, but afraid that she already knew what, or rather who, they were discussing; Hermione approached them and sat in one of the chairs nearby. She forced an extra-bright smile, as she surveyed them.
“And how are you all?” She asked most congenially, trying her hardest not to allow her current distress to be known. Ginny must have realized that she was not well, but being the good friend that she is, pushed beyond it to engage in Hermione’s social activity.
“We’re all quite well, thank you. And yourself?”
“I’ve never been better in my whole life. Is it not a truly beautiful day outside?” Hermione smiled widely.
Harry blinked at her, then asked to no one in particular, “Are we stuck in a Jane Austen novel? Why is everyone behaving so properly?”
Hermione gave a tiny tinkling laugh and simply kept her smile firmly in place. Ginny threw him a look of reproach, and he flushed a little under her gaze. Ron looked around the room for a distraction. He found it in the pile of parchment on the table next to him. On the very top was a letter from Hagrid. He showed it to Hermione.
“He wants us to join him for supper. We’ve already sent Hedwig back to him though, to let him know that we can’t. We have the first of our deten-“ he cut himself off, obviously trying not to remind Hermione of the fact that Draco would be serving detention alongside them.
But if Hermione noticed, she didn’t show it. She simply agreed with Ron’s careful abuse of Mr. Filch and deigned that she too would enjoy placing a well-deserved kick to Mrs. Norris one of these days.
Before long, they settled into silence, and Hermione excused herself to gather her study materials. They sat by throughout the rest of the morning, and a good portion of the afternoon, doing homework, reading, and in Ron’s case, trying to see how many times he could put his foot in his mouth. Hermione was sure that by tonight, his shins would be covered with bruises from the kicks that he’d been receiving from Ginny.
Just before dinner, Hermione left them to get an extra roll of parchment for her Ancient Runes paper. She returned to the same quiet exchange between her three friends as she had endured when she first arrived back at Gryffindor Tower. It was quite obvious to her now that they were talking about her since she didn’t capture their attention until she came right upon them and heard the last few lines of their conversation.
“-worried about her. She’s so pale, and Lavender said that she cried herself to sleep last night.”
“Do you think she’s really over him?”
“Not in the least, just look at her pretending to be fine. She’s in denial, or lying to herself, or something. She’s still very much in-“
“Excuse me for interrupting what I’m sure was shaping up to be a very avid discussion of my personal life, but I was going to let you know that I was on my way down to the Library, and if any of you wanted to join me, you were more than welcome.” Hermione sharply inserted. She grabbed up her books and snatched her Potions essay away from Ron, where he was trying to copy it down to his own paper.
She was quite upset that they were talking about her, but even more upset with herself. How transparent was she, that all of her friends could tell that she was lying? Did this only increase her imperfection? They stared at her in horrified shock. Though whether they were more shocked to see her there, or horrified because she had heard them, she wasn’t sure.
Either way, there was no way that Hermione could sit idly by while they discussed her with such unabashed lack of concern for her feelings.
Thinking to find solitude elsewhere, Hermione left them still staring at her and removed herself from the Common Room as quickly as she could. Not thinking clearly, so much were her thoughts in a tangled mess, and not paying very close attention to the direction in which she was headed, Hermione soon found herself in the same place she had only a few nights before.