Chapter 6: Breaking at Breakfast
Hermione woke up early the next morning, in spite of her late night. She couldn’t sleep very well anyway. Her dreams had been filled with images of Draco kissing her, and her entire body tingled now at the remembrance of him pressed against her. She had to stick to him like glue today. Lucky for her, it was Friday. The Slytherins had Double Potions with the Gryffindors today, and then she had the entire weekend to try and convince Draco not to tell anyone about her late-night jaunt. She didn’t think she could handle the humiliation if everyone were to find out that “Miss Perfect” couldn’t swim, and broke the rules that she strived so hard to enforce.
Quickly getting dressed, she shuffled down to the Common Room, realizing that it was very early indeed. Figuring it to be about 7 in the morning, Hermione decided she would wander down to the Great Hall, and get an early start on breakfast. Since she doubted anyone else would be up yet, it would be safe to sit and relax for a few moments before she had to dog Draco for the rest of the day as best as she could.
When she reached the Entry Hall, she was surprised to see Draco Malfoy leaning against the wall next to the door to the Great Hall. He was looking quite dashing in his green-lined robes, and the black of it seemed to set his pale complexion off to great advantage. Hermione couldn’t believe that she was noticing how incredibly good-looking he was, especially since she had decided on her way downstairs that he was only toying with her. He probably only kissed me because he knew I couldn’t stop him, she thought viciously.
He straightened when he saw her. Then he did something very odd. He smiled at her. Not the usual arrogant smirk he wore, or even the malicious, cruel grin she’d seen him employ on occasion. No, this was an actual smile, and it was her initial reaction to smile back before she could help herself. He walked a few steps towards her, then stopped and looked over her shoulder. Hermione turned and saw a second-year Ravenclaw girl she only sort of recognized was coming down the stairs. When the newcomer realized that Hermione was watching her and that she was obviously being waited on for the interaction between Draco and Hermione to continue, she turned pink and then scurried into the Great Hall like a frightened mouse.
“Apparently, your reputation precedes you,” Hermione told Draco, waspishly.
His smile faded when he got a better look at her. She looked pale and drawn. Something about the way she was studiously avoiding his direct gaze told him she had been thinking about him recently. He couldn’t quite figure out what it was about her pale cheeks and dark eyes that got to him, but there was something vaguely familiar about the feeling. He stepped next to her, then placing a finger under her chin, lifted her eyes to his. There were slight shadows there. Obviously, she wasn’t used to not sleeping through the night. He frowned at her, then quickly stepped away when he heard the commotion of oncoming students preparing to file into the Great Hall for breakfast.
“I certainly hope that you thought of a good reason for you to be with me all the time.” He told her, keeping his voice pitched low.
She blinked at his sudden change in demeanor. For a second, she would have sworn that he was going to kiss her again. But just like that, the magic was broken, and he resumed his stance a good foot away from her.
“My reason is as good as any that I can come up with on no sleep!” She shot back, her voice low, but audible to him. He raised an eyebrow, obviously waiting for her to inform him.
“You’re failing Transfiguration, and you need my help!” She told him, then smartly turned on her heel and stalked into the Great Hall with a crowd of hungry students. He caught up to her in the middle of the throng of people, and whispered into her ear,
“Not likely, but when you have your toast, feel free to join me outside.”
When she turned her head to face him, she thought she felt a ghost of touch along her cheek, but then he was gone, disappearing into the crowd as easily as she had. Frustrated and confused, Hermione sat down on the bench next to Ginny with a thump. Neville looked up from his cereal.
“Something wrong, ‘Mione? You don’t look so good.”
“I’m all right. I just had a late night, that’s all.” Hermione sighed; glad to see that Neville’s concern was real and that he wasn’t just toying with her head. She shot a nasty glare at the back of Draco’s head from across the room. It looked like he was chatting it up with Pansy again. At least, she thought he was, since she kept touching him, and laughing in that high-pitched shriek that she thought was a coquette-like sounding giggle. Neville seemed to understand and went back to his meal. Ginny looked her over though. When Fred and George came to sit down to eat, Ginny used it as an excuse to lean into Hermione and whisper,
“What’s the matter, honestly? You look like someone put a hex on you.”
“I’m fine, Gin, don’t worry about me. I was just up late studying.” Hermione couldn’t quite meet her friend’s eyes as she lied to her. Ginny noticed.
“No, you didn’t. You left the Common Room before curfew and didn’t come back until well after. Ron told me when you stormed out. Well, he didn’t say you stormed out, he said that you threw down your book, and went for a walk. But I know you better than that. So, what’s going on?”
Hermione was saved from having to give an answer when Harry sat down across from Ginny and started talking to her. Ron sat across from Hermione and was watching her with an intense stare as if he was trying to make her head explode. She already had a headache and didn’t need him poking through her business this early in the morning. Grabbing a napkin and throwing a couple of slices of buttered toast into it, she got up and practically ran to the door, and outside into the early morning air.