He led me deeper and deeper into the catacombs, which he seemed to know inside out. I looked at his tall, straight back, and his radiant blond hair, which seemed like a beacon in this darkness. I wondered what he wanted and where he wanted to go. This all went through my mind. I also knew that it was almost midnight and I actually had a date with the Twins at one o'clock. But as I followed him, my thoughts flew back to Snape. He had never been so close to me - Hermione, his student - since he always behaved very properly! I really must have aggravated him beyond reason and I refer to the whole evening, since I didn't think that only the mention of Draco had produced such a reaction.
Oh Goddess, I remembered as well that I had to thank Draco for the tip on the train. Oh man, everything just happened at once - one could only get a headache in this situation, but luckily my skull was very thick and stubborn. Finally, he stopped in front of a random stone wall, turned his head to me, smirking, and whispered so that I could hear it still, "Snake pit," and he ordered me to enter. If I hadn't been training for ages to suppress my emotions, it would've been a time for me to look astonished.
The Slytherin Prince itself brought me into the sanctuary of the snakes, to the common room of Slytherin. I was speechless, but I followed him. I would've liked to ask him if this was such a brilliant idea, but since he was the boss here, I thought he knew what he was doing. After all, I got to see the common room which I had only heard about from Harry and Ron in our second year, as they had gained access at that time with the help of the polyjuice potion and had had to leave me behind, to my great annoyance. My impression was that Harry and Ron had been blinded by their prejudices towards the snakes, as they had told me about the ugliness and coldness of the room.
Now I must say that the high room with the stone pillars, perforated by several glass panes through which one could gaze into the shimmering green lake, and the large circular spheres hanging from the high ceiling, the large fireplace with the voluminous, inviting resting area and the many armchairs - everything in matching colors of green and silver - had a certain chic, which met my taste very well.
Thus I was more than positively surprised to find such a beautiful environment. This was also much more spacious than the Gryffindor area, which was perhaps more homely in itself, but this room here had something majestic and impressive. Draco immediately walked to the seating island in front of the fireplace. The room was empty, as I had ascertained with a searching glance.
"Take a seat!" he pointed to the couch. So I sat down once again on the assigned place on the couch while he chose the armchair opposite me.
"What is going on between you and my godfather?" he came straight to the point.
"Your what? Godfather… ?" That caught me unawares. Snape was Malfoy's godfather, that just made total sense now, yet I briefly shook my head to sort out the idea in my head. Was that the reason for Snape’s violent reaction? Did he want to protect his godson? Or something else? Yes, but what? Jealousy? I wondered. Nonsense! Fear I might spoil his beloved godson? Wasn't Draco already spoiled to some extent?
"Did the cat catch your tongue, Granger?" Draco teased in good spirits and leaned back casually.
"Mh-hm... that you two are so close wasn't clear to me," I agreed honestly.
"You didn't answer my question," he reminded me. "But wait. Twinks!" he shouted, authoritatively into the room and immediately there was a pop and a knee-high house elf appeared, which stared devotedly at Draco with flapping ears. "Master Draco. What wishes Master Draco?" the little thing squeaked submissively.
"Bring us two hot chocolates, with a shot of whiskey!" he demanded, waving his hand. Whereupon the elf served the desired beverages just seconds later, setting the hot, steaming, giant, dark brown cups in front of us. The sweet, sweet scent of the chocolate drifted towards me and made my mouth water.
"Thank you!" I said, taking the cup to warm my hands. Draco leaned back with his cup, gently blowing into it, not letting me out of his sight.
"I wanted to thank you for the tip with the dog, that was very kind of you. Thank you!" I thanked him graciously, actually sincere.
"That was what you wanted to achieve with your offer! Or did I misunderstand something?" he asked slyly and raised one of his white-blond brows and now I had an explanation why his manners were so similar to Snape’s. His godfather! There were some things that were just superb.
"No, no, I... this is absolutely correct. I was just surprised and very pleased that you had apparently decided in my favour and so unexpectedly fast, too!" I smiled at him now and raised my cup to him. If Snape, after the argument earlier and his resulting threat, knew that I was now sitting in the Slytherin common room and drinking delicious hot chocolate with Draco, he would rip me to shreds. The thought made me giggle. I loved playing, as dangerous as it could be, and that Snape was dangerous was out of the question.
"Did that sound suggestive to only me, or did your tongue just slip, Granger?" he asked, intrigued. I shrugged again after such a direct question. What should I answer to something like this? So I kept quiet.
"A question: isn't it too dangerous for us to sit here and have a nice drink if some other Slytherin might come in?" I curiously looked around in the big room.
"Granger, I'm the boss of this house, I've ordered everyone to be in the dormitories by eleven o’clock and they aren't allowed to come out again. They won't break the order!" he said very arrogantly and condescendingly.
"Wow!" I felt impressed. What could be said without blowing up his ego even more. Haha, it didn't seem to please him that I had nothing more to say.
"But don't think I'd forget your answer to my question over your babble, I'm waiting!" he demanded impatiently.
"You mean about Snape?"
"Yes, exactly, what's going on? I mean, you were for almost two hours in his rooms. He never lets students in, even I can only come in when I'm about to die and then you come out and one can clearly see that you two have kissed!" His eyes now captured me. They speared me like silvery steel, outright forcing me to give an answer.
"You offered to build a, eh relationship. I think I've shown a lot of goodwill today, but you haven't shown much from your side, Hermione!" he said very intimately, and oh, this manipulative bastard called me Hermione now. I had already said, Draco was good, but with teachers like Snape and his father, the politician, it wasn't surprising. He had skillfully pushed me into a corner from which I could no longer manoeuvre myself out. Sheesh! So I resigned myself to it, closing my eyes, sighing, and knew if I opened them, that I would look towards a triumphant grin and oh, how correct I was. I have seldom seen anything nastier than his grin, but it him look devilishly good.
"Ok, Draco, you win, but before I even say a word, you have to allow me to put some spells on this room, because no one is allowed to know what I'm going to tell you, and that's not me doubting your authority in Slytherin, but a pure precaution," I explained in detail and quickly because he wanted to interrupt me, but ultimately he nodded, accepting, something I wouldn't have expected. So I secured the room with an 'Imperturbatio' and the 'Muffliato' so no one could hear us.
"Satisfied?" Draco asked. I shook my head no.
"Now comes the difficult part to be honest with you. I will have to cast a spell on you that prevents you from talking about my secrets and disclosing my identity, and before you say 'no', it won't harm you, honestly! And the professor has also consented and he's fine," I said quickly again, trying to prevent him from interrupting me. He looked at me as if I was absolutely crazy, his mask had slightly slipped, I'd say.
"What.. Se.. Severus has allowed you to lay a spell on him?" he stuttered not very Malfoy-like, but I shouldn't point that out to him.
"Yes, he did and he didn't regret it!" I smiled gently.
"I don't know... you ask a lot," he said appraisingly, slowly, rubbing his face. "And you aren’t lying to me?", he probed, gazing deeply into my eyes, searching for the truth. I looked back at him calmly. "I swear, I'm not lying to you, Draco," it came seriously over my dishonest lips. He continued to search the depth of my eyes again, doe-brown meeting light grey, and once again I felt this deep, serene connection, just like on the train today, and apparently, he felt it too, as he nodded slowly. I quickly pulled out my hidden white wand and said, "Credere Tacientiae, 'Hermione'!"
"So that's it, thank you for your cooperation, Draco," I thanked him kindly and then, as I began to feel really at home, pulled my feet under my legs and cuddled myself into the couch. It was really late by now.
"Now, I expect answers! What is going on?" he asked promptly, beholding my way of getting comfortable with a cynical smile. "And nice that you feel so at home in Slytherin."
"Where do I start? You've seen my wound, and you wanted proof of how much I trusted you, sot I’ll tell you where I got it. I had the eerie luck to meet two Death Eaters in a muggle area -" Here he interrupted me rudely.
"What.. What.. how could that happen, I thought they would take care of you!" he said indignantly and all at once looked really furious. Wow, I really wouldn't have expected this reaction, Draco too would have to explain a few things to me.
"Well, I had really bad luck," I shrugged my shoulders.
"Bad luck? You could've died! I mean, look at the injury, it wasn't a small one. What was it anyway?" he asked now, starting to calm down after he had noticed my coolness.
"Mh-hm.. wasn't nice.. a knife," I said abruptly, because I still didn't like to talk about it.
"What... What..?" A speechless Malfoy, one didn't see this happen that often and the sight cheered me up.
"So Draco, really, slowly but surely, you sound like a broken record," I joked, and got rewarded with an hilarious, venomous look.
"Don't be angry, it's not easy for me, because.. the two were Derrick and Bole. You know the two of them," I said stupidly, since they had been here last year, how could he not know these snakes, but as I said, the subject wasn't easy for me. Now he stared at me with huge eyes, which almost popped out of his head, since he had completely lost his mask. Apparently he knew what had happened to the two.
"Severus saved you?" he gasped out quickly. I shook my head.
"No, I helped myself!" I corrected softly, causing him to stare at me with his mouth open, dropping his mask a little bit more.
"Yes, oh man, this will probably be a long night and I have another date," I murmured.
"Don't think I'm going to let you go now!" Draco threatened and rose slightly from his seat.
"That's what I thought, I haven't planned to run off now and because of your reaction I assume that you know what happened to Bole and yes, I'm the reason for both of their fates. I've slaughtered him, and Derrick got an Obliviate!" I said very coldly, because I was already upset again. I grabbed my cup like a weapon and was more than happy about the whiskey in the cocoa.
"You.. you mean that.. was you?" he stammered, agitated. "Father said he'd almost been beheaded.." and tousled his hair, very unusual for a Malfoy.
"Wow, really? I.. I didn't know, I just slit his throat and he rammed a knife into me," I explained, having difficulties to remain calm and pointed to the center of my body, which he had taken care of today in the afternoon. This info was new. I thought about it. Had I put so much force in the slash? Man, I was strong!
"Wow." The exclamation escaped from his lips in amazement, but I didn't let him talk, just unwrapped my scarf from my neck, an action which he followed with disbelieving astonishment, for I presented him with my bruised throat. He rose smoothly, slid down next to me, and closed the distance between us. He peered at the visible fingerprints, then raised his hand as if in a trance, and looked questioningly into my eyes. I gave him the permission for his unspoken request and could feel his cold, smooth fingers on my slightly heated skin as they gently traced along the prints. He began to caress my neck. It was a very nice feeling.
"How barbaric, but nothing else can be expected from Bole," he said contemptuously.
"They wanted to kill me. I had to defend myself, so I'm not sorry for it," I said resolutely, but amazed at how easy it was for me to be honest with Draco. He still stared at me, but nodded and drank from his cup as if it were pure alcohol.
"Snape patched me up, so I put the spell on him. I really didn't want to take any risk, you understand. And what had happened just now with him... he tended my wound and in the end I asked him how I should view you! This question caused him to jump at me and kiss me hard against the wall! Well, and then he warned me to keep my fingers off and not play any games with you.-. maybe you could explain this to me?" Draco was still staring, then leant back a moment later, his bright eyes closing, and thought.
"This is awesome Granger, now I can understand all the spells. I would never have ever trusted you to do something like that, because Potter and Weasel would kill you if they were to know about it," he mused and suddenly began to explode with laughter, but instead of being insulted or angry, he infected me and so we were splayed out on the couch, rather than sitting, holding our bellies in laughter
I, the Mudblood Granger, and the pure-blooded Malfoy joined together in friendly laughter. It was so good, so liberating. We were wiping the tears from the corners of our eyes.
"Do you know what I find most shocking? You already have a human life on your conscience. How can you be so relaxed, it must be terrible.." I interrupted him abruptly with a gesture and immediately stopped laughing, putting my hand over his mouth..
"Draco, it was the most disgusting and terrible thing I've ever done, but it was him or me, as you can see on my body. It was just cruel, the way my knife slit open his throat. If you ask me, I think an Avada is only half as bad, because it isn't so... personal. Yes, personal meets it quite well! All that blood, a lot of blood on me, that makes the whole thing even more real... I don't take it easy, but I also know I would always do it again," I explained and nodded reassuringly, for when I thought back to the situation, I was sure I would make the same decision and save my life, again and again.
"Wow, that sounds harsh, though realistic! Then I was right that you've experienced a lot in your holidays, but that you finished off the two thugs Bole and Derrick all on your own... It sounds incredible! I really can’t believe it!" Draco seemed positively thrilled.
"Well, you shouldn't underestimate me, right? I'm really good!" I grinned.
"But the most amazing thing ever is that the always correct Gryffindor has already done what, as I know, no Slytherin living here has done so far, although everybody assumes it. What does that tell us?" he exclaimed cynically.
"That not everything is as it seems!" I told him with a cryptic smile.
"Quite true! In my opinion, there is no black or white, but at most a grey with a lot of shading! I think Dumbledore sees the whole thing too narrow-mindedly with good and evil, it's not that simple," Draco explained what I always thought. It was really amazing, we completed each other's thoughts. This was so unexpected, but also nice.
"Exactly, what I think, Draco. Now tell me, what do you think of me now, the murderess, Hermione?" I dared to ask and squinted up at him questioningly.
"What should I think of you? I am astonished that you had the guts and ability to do it! But otherwise you have my respect. These two were assholes, who deserved nothing else. I don't feel sorry for them and it might sound unbelievable, but rather I'm sorry that you have come out of the whole affair so badly," he told me very seriously and had raised my chin with his finger, so I ended up looking directly at him and saw that what was said was meant sincerely. "Thank you," I breathed tonelessly, which made him smile softly.
"And what did you mean about Snape now?" I asked next, inquisitively, after I had risen up a bit.
"Well, I haven't seen my uncle like that. I'm not surprised he helped you, even though he is a Death Eater, he can't help it. But that he would freak out just because of my name and kiss you, that's weird." He visibly thought about it while he continued.
"Severus protects me very much, since I was born and now, since the Dark Lord is back, even more. He thinks I'm still a child, but I haven't been a child for a long time! Maybe he thinks you're bad for me, since he knows about your experiences, and you're a Gryffindor and muggle-born!" he explained musingly, but he didn't seem to really know.
"Why since your birth?" I asked curiously, because that had made me wonder.
"You're good at listening between the lines. Now, Narcissa was never a real mother to me. She did her duty and gave birth to the heir, since then I haven't seen her very often. Afterwards, she gave me into the hands of tutors and nurses, only father and Severus took care of me and because father was always very involved in his business, Severus is very close to me," he explained very controlled the cold and impersonal family life of the Malfoys.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your parents, right? But now back to Snape again. I understand, you mean that the caring Snape wants to protect you, poor snake, from the evil Hermione. Mh-hm, but that doesn't explain the kiss or..", I summarized, because that still interested me.
"Right you are, but I have no idea. He is always very controlled! That he kissed you, a student, is really strange. You've had to irritate him very much, let's see what he's going to do next. However, it looks like we don't care about his threat, do we? I won't let anyone dictate me with whom I'm spending my time with," he chuckled mischievously.
"We're terrible! But right you are, I am also reluctant to let anyone dictate what I do. And now tell me, what terrible thing has happened to you? I think I know that you haven't.. chrm murdered anyone.. chrm.. but could it be that you saw someone being murdered?" I asked curiously.
"Yes, you're right, unfortunately. I had to watch, or I was allowed to watch, whatever! The Dark Lord likes great spectacles and I had to be there, too, with father and Severus. I've seen a few wizards, who hadn't been loyal to him, getting tortured and killed as a punishment. Very disgusting, very slow and long death... Shit, I still have nightmares from it. These buggers are very inventive!" he explained, and showed his mask again. I nodded in understanding. Well, we all had our baggage to carry, and so I put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and gently squeezed it, which gave me a distorted smile in return, though he seemed pleased that I didn't overwhelm him with pity. But before we could pour out our hearts, we heard a sudden flap of wings.
"What ...?" I asked irritated.
"Post, owl's coming," Draco informed me, and a black eagle owl shot out of a pipe and flew towards me with a letter, landing beside me on the couch.
"Are you bringing me post?" I inquired gently, taking the letter from the dear damned creature. It remained seated and tried to drink from my cup, a really naughty bird.
I opened the letter and almost started to have a new laughing fit. Here was written, no, Professor Snape ordered me to appear at 10 o'clock on Tuesday night at the Beheaded Hangman in Knockturn Alley. The letter was addressed to Minna Cale, wasn't that too funny? I must have irritated the poor man so much, he was forced to make an appointment with Minna for the day after tomorrow. Oh my goddess, he could never ever know. A wicked grin graced my face. Of course, I would appear as desired. Why? First, he had saved my life. He could ask a lot of me and I would give it to him. Secondly, I had already liked the first time, why forgo the fun? Now that I knew as well how well he could kiss, although he would never kiss me as Minna, which was a pity, however the sex hadn't been half bad, too.
Draco watched me, frowning, as I rose and gave the letter to the fire, before I quickly conjured quill and paper. I swiftly wrote two letters. The first was for Rita, with the request to meet me at Trafalgar Square on Tuesday at 9 pm and to bring me a quick-quotes quill. I signed the letter with 'from a good friend', which would make her mad. The second letter was for Sirius, that it might well be midnight until I would come to him, here I signed with 'the magpie'. And the thought of Sirius made me hesitate, but then I pushed it from me, because just now Snape seemed like a job to me, I could justify this, right? I mean, I didn't have a real relationship with Sirius, right? I quickly pushed the pesky thought away from me.
"Would you do me the favor and bring these two letters to London? The one here is for Rita Skeeter and the second here for Sirius Black and only give the letter to them!" I requested and tied the letters to the eagle owl and threw it into the air.
"What was that..?" Draco asked, who had been waiting quietly until now.
"Nothing, I've only seized the moment and sent a few important letters," I said succinctly.
"Yes, but what kind of message did you get? You should know I've recognized the bird," he said suggestively. That was probably Draco's nice way of telling me that he knew I had received a message from Snape.
"It would take too much time now, but I promise faithfully, we will talk about this. But for today I call it quits. It’s three o’clock after all. Or do you disagree?"
"You know, you won't escape me! Though you're right, it's late, but I won't forget the questions about Skeeter and Black, so I expect a lot of answers next time," he stated, not really ready to compromise, as he rose. When I bent down, he was quicker to retrieve my scarf, picked it up from the table, letting the black-and-white gleaming silk glide through his hands. I looked at him attentively, as he slowly approached me and lifted it up to wrap it around my neck, very gently, very accurately. My breath caught in my throat. It was a very intimate situation that left me motionless. Draco's scent reached my nostrils again. Sandalwood.
It was kind of special, how he tugged my hair out of my scarf and made Bole's act invisible to the outside world. When I looked up, I gazed in a pair of light grey, intensely bright eyes. "Sleep well, my Mudblood!" Draco whispered to me and kissed my forehead tenderly. It was so incredible, but also incredibly beautiful and unexpected, these gentle gestures and then a kiss on my forehead. That I was perplexed would be an understatement.
"Thank you. Sleep well, my Pureblood," I whispered hoarsely and gently raked my fingers through his loosely falling, blond strands. I had wanted to feel them for a long time, wondered if they were really as soft as they seemed. Oh yes, they were. Like silk, running my hands through them felt wonderful.
"I never thought you could be like that," I whispered.
"I would never have thought you could be like you are, but I'm all the more pleased that I was wrong," he whispered to me, giving me a bewitching smile as he guided me to the door.
"Take care!" he whispered in parting, apparently wanting to have the last word. And so I started the long track back, wondering if the twins had waited up for me.