Ice and Fire
AN: So...it's been over a year since the last chapter...I'm not proud of it. Trust me. I got hooked onto other things, Heroes, The Host, Vampire Diaries...stuff. But I suddenly felt an urge to write, so I decided to continue this one. Beware, I am sleepy. Jet lag, you know. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 9 – The Past
"Well, as some of you may have realized, this ball is being held a little early. But I do have my reasons, and I would highly appreciate it if you didn't question me about it. The thing is, it would simply be too late if I were to hold it on the actual date of Halloween. Speaking of dates, I have a few rules about it. Years 3 and under, an owl will be sent out to your parents informing them of the ball and of course the possibilities of…young love." There were a few 'ucks' and groans here and there, but I ignored them. "Grade 4, as I see it, you have the most freedom. You neither have the responsibility to show up, like the previous grades, nor do you have to bring a date if you do attend. Grade 5 and 6, well, I'm pretty sure you don't need encouragement, dates shouldn't be much of a problem to you, however, you are required to make an appearance at around 9:30 pm as there will be an announcement. And finally, Year 7, the biggest burden lies on you, you must all come, you must all bring a date, I'm sorry if this is a problem for some of you as it is a known fact that the population of males in the highest year are well a significant number more than the females. Oh, and you must all dress up, as much as you possibly can because this is a dress up as a character ball for the 7th formers." There were some cheers and some moans. Oh well. I can't help my brilliant ideas. "That'll be all, enjoy your dinner and remember your dates!" I clapped my hands and a vast feast appeared everywhere.
There was instant chatter and, feeling very pleased with myself, I turned around and sat at my seat at the High Table. Famished, I immediately started eating, ignoring Minerva's glares.
"Honestly Albus, how far are you willing to let this continue?"
"I haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about, Professor."
"Leading them on like this? It's not fair. They have a right to know what they're getting themselves into."
"Leading? Who's leading? And besides, I still hold by my decision, they are the ones. They are in no immediate danger...yet"
"Oh really? Well if you're so sure that they are the destined ones, why do you keep slipping them love potions? If they were meant for each other, they wouldn't need the extra help."
"It's not like I plan on continuing with it, the pill and potion were only meant to give them a little head-start, you know, before time caught up with them. They weren't even love potions, they were simply versions of a truth potion that showed their true feelings...for each other. And mark my words, they are both very bright students, Ms. Granger will most definitely figure it out, and she will probably slip it out to Mr. Malfoy. And knowing Hermione, I'm willing to bet that she'll do some research on it, I'm having the library put under a constant monitoring."
Minerva pondered this for a while. "What will she research, the prophecy or the truth potions?"
"I think that depends on what she tells Malfoy. If she ends up telling him everything she knows, I'm pretty sure based on his reaction, she'll find out what she can about the prophecy. But see, I've got her hands full with the ball, she wont have enough free time so search up everything she wants to."
"Maybe this is just me being naive and biased, but do you really think Malfoy is going to react well when he realises he's been tricked? Do you think there wont be issues raised? Granger may get over it, but think about it Albus, this is a Malfoy we're talking about."
"If you think I haven't thought this through, you are mistaken, Minerva. I know what consequences you may think this would present, but trust me, Malfoy is no different to any other Muggle or wizard when it comes to love. He will give in to it, and most likely, he wont bring anyone else into it."
"Okay fine, possible fates aside; what about what you know is going to happen to them? Did you 'accidentally' fail to tell them why exactly all previous pairs declined this? Did you mention that even if they do accomplish this, even if they give up everything for each other, they still wouldn't be able to see the world they've helped to stay intact?" Her voice was a hiss now, she was stressed, this would cause worry. "Their Headmasters and Headmistresses didn't keep anything from them."
The teachers on either side of us started looking at us, trying to figure out what we were talking about. I wish Severus wasn't away today, he would've helped me, he would understand, he always understands. The Potions Master, Minerva and myself were the only ones plus Granger and Malfoy who knew of this prophecy, who understood why I requested all the seating arrangements and partnerships. All the other professors just took it as it came, not asking questions. I sort of prefer it like that.
"Listen, they are different. They aren't like Hestia or Drake or any other of their distant ancestors. They would understand, or at least Hermione would, she would give it all up to save the world, she would give up herself even."
"Which is exactly what she needs to do, but will Malfoy? He has the perfect life, and now he's found his true love, will he abandon everything? He may not be as vile as his father, but I'm sure he's as selfish."
"Let me ask you something, Minerva. If it were you, if you were in Granger's position and Malfoy was someone...remotely attractive to you, would you rather die to save the world, or live and let the world crumble around you and die anyway, knowing that you could've stopped it? Knowing that the blame was half yours that everyone you loved died?"
"But that's the point, Albus. I would've chosen the first one. And Granger would too, Malfoy...he may. But if I knew that after I fell in love with the remotely attractive version of Malfoy that one of us would die, I wouldn't go through with it, especially after I'd already fallen in love. I'd abandon the entire world, lock myself up in some room somewhere and would just...never see him again."
"Even if it killed you?" I raised an eyebrow. Minerva fell silent and continued eating, she knew there was nothing she could say.
Even I couldn't stop the inevitable anymore, I had brought them into this, it was my destiny to bring them together, and now nothing could reverse it.
Freedom. That's what I always thought not having any work to do would be like. I had dreams of sitting on the grass by the lake, resting against a tree with a good book to read for hours on end. Of course, that was the visual I had about being work-free about 2 weeks ago. Now, all my dreams consisted of Draco, Draco and more Draco. Lately, however, they've started to get a little foggy, like they're starting to disappear. My dreams have taken a strange twist, they've become slightly depressing, they're all about the world ending and me losing everything I've ever cared about.I started getting a little worried about it, but when I realised that the ball was literally in two days, I snapped back to reality and started working on what I was going to for me, Ginny had been the most considerate and understanding since Draco and I arrived back to classes and she got over it the quickest. I think this is because I had been going on about him non stop to her even before this whole prophecy thing and we were forced together.
I was especially thankful for Ginny's quick recovery because now she was willing to help me with my Halloween dress with two conditions, one that I don't act too 'lovey-dovey' with Draco around her (I wish, we're still on 2 second kisses), and two, at the ball, I introduce her to some of my more handsome and charming new-found Slytherin friends.
It was a strange change. Ever since we went public, it was like all Slytherins just forgot that I was a Muggle-born and made room for me. One 6th year girl, who was apparently another stalker of Draco's, actually came up to me after lunch one day outside the Great Hall and offered to take me to the Slytherin Common Room and share with me her knowledge on how to 'swoon' Draco.
Bearing in mind that I have always tried to stay away from that place (the Slytherin Common Room) as much as I could, I replied as kindly and as honestly as I could.
"Oh! I'm sorry…er -?"
"Sorry, Sascha. But I'm incredibly busy at the moment, you know, trying to catch up and stuff. And so far I'm doing just fine on my own," that was a flat lie, I hoped it wasn't too obvious, "but thanks for the offer anyway."
Sascha's eyes blazed with something unfamiliar. It was like anger, curiosity, jealousy and disbelief all put together. But I couldn't be sure; it was only there for a split-second. She quickly replaced the unfathomable expression with a simple disappointed frown.
"Oh, well then can you answer a question for me? It's one of the last finishing touches I need for my new book, Sascha's Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Draco Malfoy."
My eyes widened, this girl, this perfect stranger standing before me was writing – well finishing – a book about my boyfriend…and she wanted my help on it.
Sascha looked at me expectantly. I thought really hard really quickly – something I was getting increasingly good at – about all the things she could ask me, and deciding that it couldn't cause any damage, obliged to her request.
"All right, fine." I said, trying to hide the impatience in my voice.
"Okay, brilliant, thanks. So, which of the following does Draco have; a four pack, a six pack or an eight pack?"
I was not expecting that.
"What makes you think he even has a…pack?"
"Please, this is Draco Malfoy we're talking about. He's been working out for 10 hours a week for like the past decade. Or at least he did until…" Sascha looked at me skeptically.
"Until what?" My tone a little harsh.
"Until he met you. So anyway, tell me. What does Draco have?"
"Well what kind of pack are we talking about here? A pack of four wolves, a six pack of Red Bull?" Of course, I knew exactly what she was referring to, I was just curious about her level of shame with the invasiveness of the question.
"Red Bull? What the hell is Red -?"
"Oh, never mind," I said, realizing my mistake, "Muggle reference."
She rolled her eyes distastefully. It was then that I realized that the Slytherins didn't just accept me, they were under orders of some sort, and they were purposely trying to ignore the fact that I was a Muggle-born. To them I was still nothing more than a filthy Mudblood who happened to be dating the Slytherin God.
"I was talking about his abs." Her impatient demeanor returned.
"Oh, well I'm not quite sure." A rare coldness crept into my voice. "I have seen him shirtless countless of times, of course, but my attention has been constantly diverted to other things, if you know what I mean." Lies. I was praying she wouldn't see through them.
"An estimate, at least?" She couldn't.
"Out of the top of my head?" Sascha nodded enthusiastically. "Um, a very defined six pack and the beginnings of an eight, I would say."
"Wow, ok, thanks. Now next question -"
"I'm sorry Sascha. I really must be going now, I'm Head Girl, I've been away for a week, I have homework and I'm late for a…meeting." Yeah, with my future Halloween dress.
"Fine, well another time then?"
"Uh yeah, sure." Since then I've been avoiding her at every turn.
"Thanks, bye!" Sascha scuttled off to a gaggle of giggling friends in the corner, waving around a notepad that I hadn't realized she'd been holding.
Before I went running off myself, I couldn't help but hear a few murmurs coming from their little group.
"…definitely got it on…"
"…she said that?!"
"…wow, do you suppose he'll go for 10?"
"I KNOW! I'm way prettier and I'm not even a Mudblood!"
I decided to leave at that point.
"Yup, I think this is the one."
The red-head sighed. "You said that about the last 10 dresses."
"Eight." I corrected. "And besides, there was always something or another off about those ones, like the last one was too poofy and had too many frills. And that white one? That was too plain and stains aren't removed easily from that kind of fabric. But this one, this is perfect."
"I guess I kind of see what you mean, it does have a certain flair about it."
I turned from the mirror and shot her a skeptical look. That comment seemed far too familiar. She seemed to catch on.
"In a totally non-frilly and poofy way, of course." She said quickly. "I mean the color's great, the design is beautiful and I'm sure Draco will love it, which in the end is the most important thing, right?" Her voice was a little too hopeful than convincing.
"Well, he does have a thing for blue…"
"Marvelous! See, I had him pegged as a, you know, wear-all-black-use blood-red-contacts-and-never properly-socialize-with-anyone kind of person…oh wait, he is."
"Minus the contacts." I couldn't help but put in.
"You never know…" Giving up, Ginny rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry; you know I'm just worried. He never did seem to get over what happened last year. And I'd hate to see you get hurt…again."
"Hey, I thought you were starting to get over that. Hell, I got over it."
"Yeah, I know. But still, it was really hard; you didn't speak to me for a month. And I didn't have a clue what was going on…"
"Well I said I was sorry, what more do you want?"
"Um, an explanation, maybe?"
My face clouded over. "You know I can't give you that."
"Why not? I don't understand! What could possibly be holding you back? It was a year ago!"
"Exactly! It was so long ago! Why can't you just let it go?"
Thinking the conversation as over when she didn't reply, I retired to the changing rooms and just as I was taking off the dress I heard Ginny whisper.
"Because it hurt."
I close my eyes and sighed. I hated this topic. It brought up way too many unwanted emotions that were forever trying to bubble over the top. I heard Ginny get up as I was pulling my shirt on. I threw open the curtain to see her admiring her own dress that she decided to buy when I was still trying on my fifth one. I had to admit, it was pretty, and it suited her complexion and hair perfectly. I knew Harry would be awed to see her in it.
The thought of Harry suddenly made my insides cold. He, for some unknown reason, was taking the news of me and Draco being together particularly harsh. He's resorted to giving me the cold shoulder and loudly insulting Draco right in front of me. Even Ron has started speaking to me again and he actually had a crush on me before ditched him for one of his worst enemies.
Ginny looked up at me, her voice was soft and wary. "Well I guess it changes things if his favorite color is blue."
I looked at her questioningly.
"That would make that dress way more than just perfect. So are you getting it?"
I scrutinized the dress thoughtfully and after a while, smiled.
"Yeah, why the hell not? I'd be crazy to pass up a dress that's more than perfect. And besides, it's just a ball."
"Wonder where that wonderful opinion was about an hour ago." She muttered darkly.
I laughed and headed for the counter, paid for my dress - while ignoring the impatient and rueful glares from the tailor - and returned to Ginny - who couldn't look happier than we were finally leaving - at the doorway.
"So where are we off to now?" I asked her.
"Well, I had planned to go to the Three Broomsticks to meet up with Ron and Harry." Ginny said while pushing open the door, her tone indicated that there was something more she wanted to say.
"Oh." So much for a girl's night out.
"You should come, it'll be fun. The four of us haven't hung out together for a wh-"
"Fun? Fun? Harry isn't speaking to me and Ron, I'm sure, still hates me. There's a reason we haven't 'hung out for a while' and it's because it would be the very opposite of -"
That brought me up short.
"You want me to bring Draco? Are you insane? Harry still hates him after what happened last year! You do realize he still doesn't know about -"
"It doesn't matter." She cut me off. "I'll go meet them, I won't tell them a thing and you go find Draco and bring him to the Three Broomsticks."
I was about to protest when she silenced me again.
"Show us what's so charming about him, Hermione. Show us why you're so in love."
I shook my head slowly. This was not going to end well. I could just tell.
I sighed and leaned my head against the soft, comforting, familiar cushions and threw my legs across the rest of the sofa.
I swear to God, if she comes up to me one more time before I've cooled down, I might just snap something...preferably her neck...
Pansy had been bugging me for the past week - when she finally stopped vomiting - about my relationship with Hermione. The most annoying part of her interrogations were the not-so-subtle hints on how not-Muggle-born she is and how her house-elf has more money than Hermione and all sorts of rude comments on her hair, her looks and her personality.
As it is I'm on rocky grounds with Blaise if he finds out how jealous Pansy is of Hermione he'll start hating me even more than before when I started dating 'a worthless, penniless Mud-blood' (I hit him after he said that).
The thought disgruntled me and I closed my eyes only to be disturbed by someone shaking my shoulder,
"What do you want?" I asked gruffly, not bothering to look at the person.
"Draco, Granger's outside the common room, she wants to talk to you."
My heart leapt and my eyes shot open.
"Why don't you just tell her to come in?"
The almost unfamiliar boy who shook me had a glaring distasteful face on. "She doesn't want to come in."
"She doesn't or you don't want her in?"
"Her." He said curtly and walked away.
I rolled my eyes and got up. I walked over to the end of the Slytherin Common Room and climbed through the portrait and sure enough, there she was. As beautiful as ever.
"Hey." A smile played at my lips at the sight of her. Wanting myself to go faster, I walked as least desperately as I could to her and wrapped my arms around her waist.
She leaned into me and I couldn't help but think how perfect this feels. I could never be with anyone but her.
"Not that I'm not happy about it, but what're you doing here? I thought you had gone out with the She-Weasley."
Hermione scowled slightly. "She has a name."
I kissed her creased forehead and swept a strand of her perfect chocolate hair out of her face.
"You know what I meant." I smiled.
"Well, I was out with her, and I picked out my dress and everything...the thing is, I need you to come with me somewhere."
"Please just come, it was Ginny's idea and I wouldn't ask is I weren't sort of mildly desperate."
"Fine, take me to this big secret."
"Thanks, Draco." She reached up and pecked my cheek, my heart hammered inside my chest and I was sure she could hear it. "First you need to go get your Hogsmead permission slip."
"Oh, well it isn't much of a surprise now is it?"
"Trust me, it will be...but the way I imagine it, it won't be all that pleasant."
And it wasn't...all that pleasant.
Hermione and I walked hand in hand through Hogsmead - ignoring the stares and murmurs as usual - to the Three Broomsticks, I was, of course, still completely unaware of what I was going to have to endure for the next hour or so. On top of that, this would be the first time I've come to the Three Broomsticks since last year. I've stayed well away from the place ever since I was Imperiused into Imperiusing Madam Rosmerta, but of course, how was she to know that?
We finally reached our destination and pushed the door open to be welcomed by the usual tinkling of a bell.
I looked around, everything seemed to be normal...why would Hermione want to take me here...?
My answer was soon found when I realized Hermione was heading for a table which was occupied by two people with read hair and one with black. She turned and stretched a hand out to me, beckoning me to take it.
Oh. Hell. No.
I sighed and weighed down my options. I wasn't about to run out the way I'd come, but if I didn't Hermione would catch and I knew I wouldn't be able to tell those big brown eyes of hers that I just couldn't stand her friends. I would just end up coming back.
So I decided to follow Hermione to the table.
Ginny saw us first and stood up before we had sat down.
"Hey guys! Glad you could make it!" I'm not. She gestured to the seats opposite her, Potter and the other Weasley.
Hermione slid into the chair and I reluctantly followed suit.
"What the hell?!" Ronald's voice was almost a yelp, Potter maintained his composure.
"Well, isn't this a surprise?" He drawled in a voice that would usually have been mine. "How's it going, Malfoy? Killed anyone recently?"
Ginny's hand on Potter's suddenly clenched.
"No," I looked away, "and I never did."
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot, you were too much of a coward."
"Well would you rather I did it?" I said, my head shooting back around.
"No," he said simply, shrugging, "I'm just saying you were too cowardly to do it in the first place. Still, better you than her."
"Would you have been able to do it?"
He looked at me for a while.
"If I were you, and the lives of my family and I depended on it, then maybe I would."
Ginny gasped and removed her hand from his.
"Blimey, Harry, he was our friend. I don't think that Hagrid would've appreciated hearing you of all people say that." Ron said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, well Hagrid isn't around anymore is he?" A new and forceful rough edge appeared in his voice, this surprised me.
"Wow, you're even more evil than me." I couldn't resist saying.
"I doubt it." Potter scraped his chair back, grabbed his ButterBeer and left the Three Broomsticks without another word.
"Harry!" Ginny tried calling after him but he just ignored her, jerk.
Always the Drama Queen, I thought to myself.
"It was an idea; one that I had a feeling wouldn't work." Hermione spoke for the first time.
"Yeah, that went differently in my head when I planned it." Ginny looked rather shocked.
"No surprises there." Ron muttered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
He looked at her in one of his typical sarcastic Weasley faces. "Well, what did you think was going to happen? Hermione would bring her Slytherin boyfriend to come and meet and greet us and Harry would just accept it like he hasn't hated the same man for the last 6 years? Oh, and the same man who murdered one of our oldest friends who was closer to Harry than anyone." He raised his eyebrows.
"I didn't kill him!" I said indignantly.
"Oh, no. You just attempted to murder him...three times was it? And in the end a girl beat you to it."
"She was a giant, hardly counts." I muttered.
"Anyway, so tell me little sister, what did you have 'planned'?"
"I thought...well, no offense or anything -" she was looking at me, and when Ron realized this he snorted, "but this was meant for us to catch up with Hermione. I thought Harry would just respect that and ignore you. I foresaw he would be the biggest problem, I had no intention of ignoring you myself, and I knew Ron would be more or less harmless -" Ron snorted again, "so I thought maybe it would've been ok."
"Correct me if I'm mistaken, but that, even in your standards, was anything but ok." Hermione spoke again.
"Well, like I said, Harry was supposed to ignore you."
"Wait, you mean Hermione wasn't meant to bring me here?" I asked, completely confused by this point.
"Oh she was. I told her to bring you here, I doubt she would've otherwise, not much of a risker, you see. But I just...I wanted to know what changed; I wanted to know why she was so smitten. And I was especially curious as to why you're suddenly Mr. Can-Do-No-Wrong-And-Is-Absolutely-Perfect. I mean, you used to make her life miserable, hell; you made all our lives miserable. More than wanting to know what changed her, I wanted to know what changed you."
"I guess...well it wasn't really a change of heart, more like a change of mind. I was opened up to new things, things I couldn't ignore, and it pushed me in the right direction. It pushed me to her...and I've never been happier. She's actually brought some light into my life; I thought it had disappeared forever after last year..." I trailed off, and Hermione, knowing exactly what I was talking about - that the 'things I couldn't ignore' was the prophecy - gave my hand a gentle squeeze and smiled at me.
"And those things were?" Ginny prodded, flicking a strand of her red hair away.
"Oh you know, just…signs and stuff, and some really good advice."
There was a silence for a while.
"So, are you excited about prom?" Ron asked Hermione.
"Oh, well you know, it's just another ball, no big deal. I am excited though." She shrugged nonchalantly.
"You've got to be kidding me." Ginny's eyes were wide with disbelief.
"What?" Hermione shrugged again and rest her head on my shoulder. I stroked her hair sub-consciously.
"Were you not the same person who just spent 2 and a half hours in a dress shop with me about 15 minutes ago…picking out a dress from eight choices that took you an annoyingly, excruciatingly long time to try on?"
"Um…" She looked down sheepishly.
"Well, the answer is yes. I'm pretty sure." Ginny turned to Ron.
"So what about you, Malfoy? Are you excited for the first ball you're going to with no intention of crashing it?" Ron smirked and Ginny wacked him over the head as I chuckled.
"Actually, it may surprise you, but no. As in, I am excited, but this is not the first party I've been to without meaning to ruin it. This is however the first ball I've been too with someone who I actually care about."
Hermione took a deep breath and closed her eyes on my shoulder, Ron glared at her ruefully, and then at me.
He still hates me, and I figured it would take a lot more than a simple meeting at the Three Broomsticks, of all places, for him to get over it. And then of course, there was Potter.
AN: So, nice long chapter =] And if you're a little confused, don't worry, you're supposed to be. It'll all be explained soon I know I've probably lost all my previous incredibly loyal readers, but still. Please click that tempting little button below! I would really appreciate it. The next chapter will most likely be posted within the next week, and it will be the Halloween Ball at last =]