Chapter 13: Detention and Invitations
That evening, the four students met up in the Trophy Room, where Mr. Filch and Mrs. Norris were awaiting them. Since the caretaker looked rather smug about something, it was very unlikely they were going to enjoy their task.
They were right. Each one was designated a specific suit of armor and were instructed to polish it until it was mirror-bright, and oil all the hinges until they could not be heard, even in a deathly silent room.
They each set to work. Draco had hoped to be put nearest Hermione but instead found himself set between Harry on his left, Ginny to his right. This arrangement seemed to upset Harry, but since Filch would not allow them to move around, they were stuck.
Polishing armor is much easier, they quickly discovered, when it was not extremely ticklish, and jittered and moved when it was rubbed with the polish rag. The oil, likewise, was difficult to administer, not because the suits kept moving, but rather because no matter how recently one applied the oil to a joint, it would begin to squeak again within a few moments.
Thankfully, their task did not allow them much time for casual conversation, as they each had to concentrate on their suit of armor, so that it did not run off only half-finished.
Finally, Harry finished his, and it marched off with the only noise coming from the clatter of metal on flagstones. A new suit stepped up in its place, and Harry began the task anew.
By the end of two hours, they had polished a small group of suits, who were waiting together in a clump at one end of the room. The wrists, hands, and necks of the four students were tired and sore, and it was with relieved moans and sighs they put down their rags and oil cans and were released from their first night of detention.
As they stepped into the corridor, Harry hurried to walk ahead of them all, lest he be caught in conversation with Draco. Ginny offered a quick goodnight and an apologetic smile to Hermione, then rushed after Harry.
The rest of them walked on until they came to the point where Draco would have to separate from Hermione and Ron and go down a different passage to reach the Slytherin dungeons. Ron shuffled his feet for a moment, looking down at them, then straightened his spine, and said,
“’Mione, I’m going to head up, don’t be too long. We’re already in for enough detention and I don’t think I can stand more of that polish smell than I have to.” Then he turned left, and continued down the hallways that lead to Gryffindor Tower.
Hermione smiled shyly at Draco, and he responded with a small smile of his own. Then he opened his arms, and she walked willingly into them. They kissed and hugged so naturally as if they’d been born to do it. All too soon, Hermione pulled back, and said rather quietly,
“Good night Draco.” She paused to lick her lips, then continued hesitantly, “Sweet dreams.”
Then, turning quickly, she hurried in the direction that Ron had, on her way to bed. Draco stood a moment longer, enjoying the lingering sensation of her lips on his. Then with a last wistful look, he shook his head and made his way to the Slytherin dungeons.
“Sweet dreams indeed.”
The Next Day
Hermione could recall very little of Sunday morning, for she spent most of it in Gryffindor Tower with Harry and Ron, studying. Or rather, trying to study, but somehow always getting distracted by the thought of a certain blonde Slytherin fellow.
At around lunchtime, they all decided that they had done enough homework for the time being. Agreeing on getting something to eat, they put their study materials away, and walked down to the Great Hall together. Harry seemed jovial enough, and Ron was his same old self. It was almost as if they were 11 again, and their friendship was young and new, and they were all happy with one another. Hermione hoped that at some point Harry would be able to move beyond his own prejudices and be happy for her and Draco.
When they got to the Entry Hall, there was a great commotion going on. Professor Flitwick was balanced very precariously atop a step ladder, hanging what appeared to be some sort of announcement up. As soon as he had safely climbed down, the students milling about rushed forward to read what it said. Ron smiled at them, and then pushed through the crowd. Harry looked at Hermione, and she smiled in response. It was a very awkward few minutes while they waited for Ron to return, and it threw into blazing contrast the difference between their 11-year-old selves, and them now. Hermione opened her mouth to try and smooth things out between them, but at that moment, Ron returned with a perplexed look on his face.
“All it says is that there will be a big announcement at dinner tonight.”
Harry looked as confused as Ron.
“They put up an announcement to tell us there’s going to be an announcement?”
Ron shrugged. Hermione laughed at the absurdity of it all, and as they proceeded into lunch, there was much speculation as to what could possibly be so big that they’d have to announce there being an announcement!
The Great Hall hadn’t been so packed full of students at one point since the start of term banquet. It seemed that every student present in the Entry Hall had told their friend, and in turn they had told their friend. They were sitting at their House tables, and chattering excitedly about what the big announcement could possibly be. But none of the teachers seemed overly inclined to end their curiosity. Finally, after the dishes had been cleared, Professor Dumbledore stood up and the Great Hall fell silent.
“I’m so glad to see everyone has survived their first month of the term.” There was a small smattering of laughter.
“No doubt you are all wondering what the big announcement I have for you is.”
Everyone was waiting with bated breath, and no one dared to speak a word, in case Dumbledore got distracted. He began in a very grave tone of voice.
“Since the return of Lord Voldemort is upon us, there is very little room to set aside one’s fears to have a truly enjoyable time. Therefore, any small measure of fun and excitement we may have must be cherished all the more as we enter some very dark days.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat next to Hermione, and she wondered again, just what had happened between him and Dumbledore after they returned from the Ministry last June.
“This is why I have arranged for an evening of entertaining amusement. We are going to celebrate Halloween this year like we never have at Hogwarts. We are going to have a Costume Ball!”
The excitement was palpable, and everyone began talking at once. Dumbledore raised a hand to recall the attention. They quieted down once more.
“On your plates,” and saying this he waved his hand, and little scrolls of paper appeared on the plates in front of them, “are your ideas for costumes. By no means must you follow this suggestion, but we will be having a contest for best costume at the end of the evening, and those who are best able to represent their prescribed costume will win a very delightful treat.”
The scurrying sound of everyone picking up their scrolls and tearing the little orange ribbons from them was audible, as were the subsequent gasps and laughs as the contents were revealed to each individual. Hermione looked down at her scroll. There was only one word on it, written in the familiar script.
A butterfly? She thought, how do I become a butterfly? Do I even want to be put on display for all the school to see? She glanced at Ron, who was laughing at his scroll. He showed it to Harry, and Hermione caught a glimpse of it. It read “Muggle Police Officer”.
“How am I supposed to know what a Muggle police officer looks like?” Ron laughed. Hermione looked at him.
“Well, yours is quite simple actually Ron, Harry and I can help you with it. Harry, what does yours say?”
“Vampire. Like I want to dress up like a vampire.” Harry grumbled. Ginny had overheard him.
“But vampires have such an alluring quality about them! That’s what makes them so dangerous to women; they simply draw you in with their gaze.”
Harry seemed mollified by this and asked Ginny what she had gotten. She blushed.
“I’m supposed to be a cat.”
“Oh Ginny, you’re going to be such a cute kitty!” Lavender Brown exclaimed. “I’m going to be a bumblebee, and Parvati got ladybug! Isn’t it fabulous? We’re going to be a pair of pretty little insects!”
Lavender turned back to Parvati and began to talk animatedly with her again. Ginny mumbled something about the word ‘cute’, then excused herself from the table, saying, “See you in detention.”
Harry was trying to explain what a police officer looked like to Ron. Hermione looked across the Great Hall to find Draco watching her, a thoughtful look on his face. He gave her a tiny smile, nodded once, then stood up and left the Great Hall.
Glancing around at her fellow Gryffindors, she saw that they seemed to be engrossed in their conversation, and so got up, and made her way to the doors. She was stopped by a veritable brick wall of Slytherin girl. Pansy Parkinson looked down her little pug nose at Hermione, sneering.
“You better watch it, you filthy little mudblood. Draco is mine, and I don’t like to share.” Then Pansy pushed Hermione aside and flounced past her. Shaking off the feeling of anger and resentment towards the other girl, (it would be very bad form to hex her) Hermione tried to find Draco in the Entry Hall.
There were too many students though, and she didn’t think she should be seen going into the same closet she had burst from only nights before. Thinking to head onto the Trophy Room, Hermione walked down the corridors alone for a few minutes. It gave her solitude and a time to think.
Halloween in the Muggle world was so very different than it was in the Wizarding world. There weren’t the usual regalia of cheap candies, and ridiculous looking pumpkins. No egging of houses and rebellious teens decorating trees with toilet paper. Wizarding Halloween was a much more innocent occasion. They enjoyed the company of others and had fun. They sometimes dressed up in costumes, but Hermione was sure that it was not as commercialized as it was among Muggles.
Furthermore, Hermione didn’t have the slightest idea of how to make herself look like a butterfly. She wasn’t even sure she could pull it off. There was a lot that went into being a butterfly, she would imagine, and it would be dreadful to go through the trouble of fabricating a costume to only have it fall short of her expectations.
Hermione turned a corner and ran right into another wall of person. This time, the person gripped her around the waist and pulled her into a warm embrace. She tensed, then noticed the shock of blonde hair and the silver-grey eyes smiling down at her as his lips descended. Hermione sighed, then snuggled into Draco better. He pulled back, slightly breathless, and had to swallow a few times before he could speak.
“Did you get your costume assignment?”
It was such an odd question that Hermione had to pause and stare at him.
“Yes, I did. And did you?”
“Yeah, but I’m not going to tell you what it is.” He was teasing her, and she smiled, enjoying this form of it.
“Very well, but you won’t be able to see mine until the Halloween Ball then either!” She giggled. Draco grew serious.
“Hermione, there are two things I wanted to talk to you about.” The chime signaling dinner to be over rang through the castle, and Hermione stepped out of Draco’s arms, taking up his hand instead as they walked toward the Trophy Room.
“All right, and what are they?”
“Well… One is…” He seemed to be struggling to say it, and Hermione squeezed his hand reassuringly. With an answering squeeze of his own, he finished his sentence.
“Would you like to attend the Halloween Ball with me?”