Title: The Bracelet
Disclaimer: JKR owns anything that is obviously hers. I own the rest.
Characters: Blaise Zabini, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Pansy Parkinson, Ron Weasley, Theodore Nott
Genres: Drama, Friendship, Hogwarts Years, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Alternate Universe, Profanity, Sexual Themes, Unrelieved Sexual Tension
Overall Rating: R
Summary: Hermione is a stuck-up know-it-all; Draco is a sadistic prat; Theo has a scary way of knowing everything; Harry is too busy with his girlfriend and his hero status to pay much attention; Ginny really isn't very interested in anyone beyond Harry but unfortunately does pay attention; Pansy wants what's hers; Ron doesn't know how to get what's his; and Blaise definitely has both his hands in the cookie jar. Or maybe that's not how it is at all...
Extra Note: It is set in the 7th year at Hogwarts with some minor changes having been made to the end of their 6th year as well. It's amazing how differently everything can turn out if just a few things change...
Length: This chapter: 2586 words.
Draco knew that he would probably live to regret this, especially if Theo found out, but it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. After all, Draco was nothing if not an opportunist. And in all fairness, if he did manage to persuade Hermione to do a bet, she definitely had it coming. And he’d try his damnedest to persuade her. He really, really wanted to best her and then be able to rub her nose in it. Preferably as publicly as possible.
He hadn’t started out with such a malicious intent. He had actually waited with going up to fifth floor until he thought she was gone in an effort to keep the peace. When she had still for some reason been there and had, in fact, almost mowed him down, he had been reasonably polite and even told her why he was there before she could jump to any wild conclusions. He had even endured her amusement at his expense with, in his own opinion, relatively good humor.
She just never seemed to stop patronizing him in word and deed, and it rankled him. He had been as pleasant as he possibly could be expected to be, and still she spoke to him as if he was two years old. He wanted to hurt her and now he had his means – she was much too conceited to even contemplate that he might know more about a bookish subject than she did, even after he told her why.
She would accept the challenge and he would make her pay.
He was whistling quite merrily by the time he had finally finished his solitary rounds and was entering the Slytherin common room.
“Well, if it isn’t our very own Draco Malfoy… and looking disgustingly smug, too!”
Draco almost jumped. “Pansy!” he exclaimed. “Um, why are you here? I mean…” He shook his head and pinched his nose while grimacing. Questioning why she was in her own common room, smooth move. “Why are you up so late?”
“Waiting for you, actually,” she replied, laying down her magazine and rising from her seat.
Draco shifted uncomfortably. It was awkward being around her. They had had a thing since third year, and even though he’d been rather flippant when telling Blaise about it, it was… strange not to have that anymore. They had had fun. Genuine laugh-till-your-belly-aches-your-eyes-te
She took a few steps towards him and he found himself admiring her looks. He’d heard Potter refer to her as pug-faced once, making Granger snigger, but that just wasn’t true. Pansy was everything that was feminine. She was petite and slender with a heart-shaped face, clear blue eyes, and the cutest button-nose he ever saw. She had nearly unmanned him the only time he had referred to her nose as such, of course, but that was how he saw it. The silky blonde locks framing her face he had once referred to as spun gold on a summer’s day – this analogy had not nearly gotten him unmanned, but had rather eventually sent him into a cold shower for a solid hour. He remembered that day vividly.
“What is it you want, Pansy?” he asked, vaguely surprised at the hoarseness of his voice.
“Well, first off…” she said and punched him in the chest.
“Ow!” he exclaimed, more from surprise than anything else. “What was that for?”
“You’re such a prick, Malfoy!” she stated. “You weren’t supposed to just leave me hanging for weeks!”
Draco was genuinely confused. “Hanging? Did I forget something?”
“I’ll say you did,” she said as she sauntered back to the couch and motioned for him to sit down next to her. He eyed her a little warily and rubbed his chest before doing as she asked. “You forgot,” she continued after he was seated, “the part where you come crawling back to me, begging for my forgiveness.”
Draco’s mouth fell open. He shot her a quick glance to see if she was joking, but she looked perfectly serene. He cleared his throat. Then he cleared his throat again.
“You should have Madam Pomfrey look into that cough of yours,” Pansy conversationally said.
“Well, what do you want me to say, Pans?” he finally said. “I meant what I said, then. And you obviously weren’t interested in giving me the space I—Ow!” She had hit him on the head with her magazine. Quite forcefully, too.
He glared at her, and she rolled her eyes and straightened the magazine out again. “Stupid boy,” she grumbled. “What you basically said was that I should be so lucky as you allowing me to come near you maybe once or twice a week, when you feel lonely.”
Draco felt himself blush a little. “That’s not what I said. I never said that!”
Pansy ignored him. “Now, I can admit that I might have gotten a little too enthusiastic, but you could hardly have seemed less enthusiastic and I know why.” She looked him straight in the eye. “You’ve been getting rid of everything that has to do with your old life.”
She paused and he could do nothing but stare at her in shock.
“I thought you’d realize your mistake but you haven’t yet, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” she continued. “Do I just placidly wait this out or do I move on?” Draco still didn’t respond and Pansy sighed. “So, I know it hasn’t really been that long, but I suppose what I want to know is… Do you really want it to be over?”
Draco was completely bowled over. He opened his mouth to say something, but not a sound came. Her gaze was unwavering and her eyes calm, but deep in their depths he could see her vulnerability. He had no desire to hurt her. Before he had befriended Blaise, she had been the closest thing that he had to a real friend.
“I never wanted it to be over,” he finally said. “I just wanted it to be… less.”
She slowly nodded. “I might be willing to compromise a bit if you are.”
He smiled at her. “Of course.”
“Good,” she said with a nod and stood.
“Where are you going?” Draco asked, feeling puzzled. She seemed to have that effect on him tonight.
“To bed,” she replied. “You’ll be having plenty of space tonight.” She left for her dormitory.
Draco could do nothing but shake his head. What had just happened?
Two days later, Draco received a package from home. This didn’t mean from the new place where his mother had been forced to go into hiding. That would have been much too dangerous. Any communication that he wished to have with her this year had to go through Dumbledore, or possibly Snape, even though Draco didn’t actually trust Snape as far as he could throw him, these days. No, this package came from his real home, the Manor.
He carefully put it aside and resumed breaking his fast. He knew what was in it. He had requested it himself. He had counted on the fact that the house elves would still be tied to the Malfoy family, and that even if his father was still in as deep with He Who Must Not Be Named as Draco suspected he was, he wouldn’t have thought to prevent them from giving Draco anything he’d openly ask for.
Of course, his father might soon find out exactly what Draco had asked them for and where it had been sent, but Draco didn’t see what he could do with that information. Everybody knew Draco was back at Hogwarts and making problems for him would only mean revealing himself.
Still, the things in that package, while seemingly innocent to the untrained eye, were very much dangerous and illegal. He’d been a little nervous about the package being intercepted by some security measure, as having it would have been almost impossible for him to explain, but then again… this wasn’t obvious magic. The objects weren’t cursed and if you touched them or used incantations on them absolutely nothing would happen.
His ancestors had known better than that.
There was only one way to make them work. You didn’t have to cast a spell or activate them under a full moon or anything like that. You just had to… use them. In fact, it was so simple that Draco knew that the Ministry had actually had hold of them before without realizing what they had.
Having finished his breakfast, he picked up his package and walked back to his dormitory. It was time to get ready for class.
Draco swirled around, nearly dropping the thing he’d been studying near the fire. Classes were out and curiosity had gotten the better of him. He’d never studied these things up close. “Sheesh, Blaise,” he said with a scowl. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“Feeling guilty about something, are we?” Blaise said with a grin as he plopped down in a nearby chair. “Is that jewelry? Buying your way into Pansy’s good graces or… other things, perhaps?”
Draco’s scowl deepened. “Watch it! Don’t talk about my girl like that.”
Blaise raised an eyebrow. “So, it’s true then. You are back together.”
Draco nodded in the affirmative and turned back to continue his studying.
“Glad to know that you tell me about the important events in your life.”
“And now you are buying her jewelry?” Blaise persisted.
Draco shook his head. “This is not for Pansy.”
There was a silence. “I see,” Blaise finally said. “And can you explain to me why you just got back with Pansy, who obviously cares a lot about you, only to turn around and cheat on her?”
“What?” Draco faced his friend. “I am not cheating on her! Nor have I ever been!”
“Well, there was that time with the—”
“That was different! She had told me she wanted to see other people for the summer. So I did what she told me to and saw other people!”
“Fine, fine,” Blaise said with a sigh. “But how do you explain that obviously very expensive bracelet you are currently holding, which I’m guessing is neither for your girlfriend nor your mother.”
Draco weighed the bracelet in his hand. Even if it wasn’t magical it would be really expensive. It was solid platinum set with diamonds, and it was hand carved in intricate scrollwork. Almost too pretty for its purpose. He smirked.
“This,” he replied, “is payback.”
Today hadn’t really been bad. Today had, in fact, been rather good. The semester was now apparently far enough along that people chose to be half-asleep during class rather than pick on those who had actually done their homework. It did remarkable things for Hermione’s mood and, incidentally, she had found that when she talked to someone, they were actually nice. Well, except for the Slytherins. Or, rather, except for two Slytherins in particular – Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. What a match made in… well… Hell.
“Hermione!” a familiar voice called out and Hermione turned to find Ron running to catch up with her.
“Hey, Ron,” she said, a little puzzled. It was mid-afternoon and he could usually be found at the Quidditch field or in their common room at this time. Not running after her on the second floor where he had no business. “What’s up?”
His gaze flickered. “Nothing. I can’t just seek out one of my best friends because I want to be with her?”
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but decided not to contest it. “I guess…”
He winced slightly. “I can’t be in our common room,” he confessed, “and I don’t know where else to go. You don’t mind if I tag along, do you? I won’t be any trouble, I swear.”
“Of course not,” Hermione said. “I’m just doing paperwork today, though…” She did want to spend time with him, but she knew he wouldn’t care to sit around and watch that.
He pulled a face. “Figures.” When she looked at him quizzically, he hastened to add, “I don’t mind, though. Not at all. Anything to spend more time with you.”
“Ginny being a bother?” she drily asked.
He sighed. “You have no idea.”
They went up to the heads’ office on fifth floor. She had a few things she needed to do, and they would have privacy there… Or so she thought. She began to enter the office and then stopped dead in her tracks, making Ron accidentally bump into her and nearly knocking her down. It was only due to an uncharacteristic show of reflex from his side, as he grabbed her around the waist, that she remained standing.
“Nott,” she mumbled. “I… Well, I didn’t think you’d be here.”
The Head Boy looked up from where he was seated at his desk and pinned the two of them with a penetrating stare. “Likewise, Granger. I wasn’t of the impression that you used the office very much on Thursdays.”
Hermione had to make a conscious effort not to glance at Ron. She had claimed to go here many Thursdays, trying to seem more busy than she was. Ron didn’t comment, though. She went further inside. Ron’s arm slipped away and he followed, shooting curious glances at Nott, but staying quiet.
“What’s this, then?” Nott asked, his whole demeanor had somehow changed to sardonic without him seemingly moving a muscle or changing the tone of his voice. “I thought this wasn’t the place for social calls.”
Hermione flushed guiltily. When she had said that, it had only been because Malfoy had been Nott’s “social call.”
Ron gently touched her shoulder and she turned to face him. “It’s ok,” he mumbled. “He doesn’t want me here and I suppose it’s his office too. Can you try and make it back early?”
She nodded. “Of course.” His request made her feel even more guilty. He probably felt alone too, now that Harry was spending more time with Ginny, and there really was no reason to stay away from her common room and her friends other than her own vanity. “Listen, Ron, I’m very sorry about—“
“Don’t worry about it,” he interrupted with a small smile. “You’re the Head Girl and we’re proud of you. Just don’t forget about us in the process. Don’t forget about me. And don’t let this Slytherin bastard get to you, either.” He hadn’t bothered to lower his voice, but Nott showed no reaction. Ron then tilted her chin to peck her cheek and left.
Who are you and what have you done with Ron?
“Now that I have you here,” Nott said, not giving any indication that he’d noticed anything at all, even though Hermione knew very well that he had noticed all of it, “Draco requested a couple of changes to your new schedule, and I thought you might like to go over it.”
“Of course he did,” she muttered.
Nott barely glanced up. “It’s Quidditch season, and you’ve scheduled him and another player to do rounds on a few days when they have practice. I hardly think he’s being unfair.”
Hermione didn’t reply but instead went to her desk to work at the new schedule.