Out of the Frying Pan, into...
Draco entered the hospital wing, the evening light casting the room in a fiery orange light. He stood at the door a moment, taking in the scene.
Potter and the Weasley siblings were already surrounding Granger, with the blonde Miss Brown firmly attached to the male Weasley’s arm, and looking as though she were ready to start whining at any moment. A few people were situated around McLaggen, listening as he whispered to them, everyone looking up briefly as Draco entered, only to huddle closer in their gossip conference. Pansy was lying in a bed, unconscious, but with a few of her female friends around her, one holding her hand, others whispering quietly. Draco slowly approached the bed surrounded by Slytherin girls.
“How is she?” He asked, looking down at the boil covered face of his hanger-on. The pustules had gone down quite a bit, but were still painfully red, and oozing.
“She’s doing better. Madame Pomfrey gave her a potion to make her sleep, because she kept complaining about the pain.” One of the girls answered, glancing up at him. He recognized the green eyes, and looked away, feeling suddenly embarrassed. She was one of the girls he’d slept with near the beginning of the school year, and he looked at the others, checking to make sure there were none others present. He looked back down at Pansy, and moved away, stopping at the foot of Hermione’s bed. He said nothing, meeting her eyes, and giving her a small smile. She looked away, towards Ginny, and then her other two friends.
“Bugger off, Malfoy.” The Weasley boy snarked at him, seeming to ignore the blonde barnacle suctioned to his side.
“Ron, don’t.” Hermione said hoarsely. Malfoy grimaced at the sound of her voice, knowing that speaking couldn’t be comfortable for her after having her whole throat swollen out of control. She was back to her normal size, but seemed tired, and her voice made him wonder if there were other lasting effects of the hex.
“I’ve got homework to do, Won-won. Let’s go.” Brown practically wailed, tugging at the red-head’s arm. He looked from Hermione to the blonde, and then back.
“Okay.” He gave in as she kept tugging his arm. He walked around the bed, glaring at Malfoy, and purposefully knocked his shoulder into the Slytherin, jarring Draco from his silence.
“Watch it, Weasel.” He growled, narrowing his eyes, and glaring after the retreating pair.
“Don’t stand in the way, git.” He shot over his shoulder, following the tugging mass of complaints. Draco watched them leave before turning back to Hermione.
“Alright?” He asked her, searching her face for more than just her reaction to being blown up. He couldn’t believe the Weasel had been tactless enough to bring his girlfriend along.
She nodded, her eyebrows pulling together in the middle, displaying the feelings she tried to hide.
“Want me to leave?” He asked, ignoring the glares from his black-haired nemesis. He wasn’t here to fight with Potter, the prat would have to wait his turn.
Hermione shook her head, letting him know it was okay to stay. He moved closer, standing next to Weasley, and continuing to stare down at her. Her deep brown eyes stared back and he saw the curiosity in them. She wanted to know something, but not badly enough to speak.
“Did McGonagall talk to you, too?” He asked, sticking to yes or no questions. She nodded.
“About what?” Potter asked, jumping in. Hermione shot him a glance that said ‘mind your own business’.
“Did you tell her everything?”
A shake no.
“Potter hasn’t heard yet?”
“Heard what?” Potter asked, sounding frustrated with only knowing half the conversation. Ginny looked around at the three of them, sharing a look
with Hermione, and giving the two boys an assessing gaze.
“There’s a rumor going around about Granger and myself.” Draco put in, giving Potter a challenging glare. The fire that caught in the green eyes made Draco wonder about Potter’s feelings toward Hermione. “McLaggen started them.” Draco said, keeping things concise. Potter’s glare found the other occupant on their side of the room, and Draco read the aggression on his face.
“That’s why they’re all here.” Draco gestured at everyone in the room.
“That lying prat!” Harry started, but Hermione’s hand reached up, grabbing his wrist to keep him from storming over to the bed-ridden male. She met Draco’s eyes, and nodded, encouraging him to go on.
“I earned myself another detention for telling McGonagall I got handsy, but swore McLaggen was lying about the rest.” Hermione nodded with a smile.
“Me too.” She croaked, grinning wickedly.
“Handsy?” Potter looked confused, looking around from Hermione, to Weasley, to Draco, and back to McLaggen. He looked furious, and flustered.
“Mind your own business, Potter.” Draco voiced the look Hermione was giving the boy-who-lived.
“How about some dinner, Harry?” Ginny encouraged him to follow her away from the secretive duo, but he set his jaw, crossed his arms, and narrowed his eyes at Draco.
“Tell me what’s going on.” He demanded. Always nosy.
“They’re shagging.” Pansy called obtrusively across the room, hearing Potter’s insistence. Potter’s head spun around so fast that Draco thought his neck might’ve broken. He looked over to see Pansy’s eyes wide open, and staring dead at him. He felt his stomach sink to his toes. The sleeping potion must’ve worn off while they were talking.
“I knew you slept around, Draco, but her
?” She looked disgusted, and sickened, even through the boils on her face. “I didn’t mind so much, but a mudblood
Hermione’s two Gryffindor friends pulled their wands and aimed them at the Slytherin girl, daring her to say anything more about her. Draco looked down at Hermione, and saw a hurt look in her eyes. But she wasn’t looking at Pansy. She was staring at Draco with a betrayed look. He ignored the two Gryffindors trying to intimidate his ex, and stared into her eyes, trying to figure out what had hurt her.
“You…” Her voice croaked as she stared at him, trying to get the words out. “You’re dating Parkinson?” She asked, and he looked from the still-whining Slytherin to his Gryffindor lover. He saw what she did for a moment. The same thing that’d happened to her with Ron, she was worried had happened to him and Pansy.
“No.” He said quietly, shaking his head. “She’s just obsessed. I haven’t dated her since fifth year, and I haven’t slept with her since before you.” He said in a low voice, hoping to make her understand without Potter hearing. She was looking at him distrustfully, and he saw vulnerability in her eyes. She wanted to believe him, but Weasley had made her doubtful.
“I meant what I said last night, Granger,” He said, calming his expression, hiding from her how his stomach was flipping, and his heart was clenching painfully. He put on his usual unaffected smirk, pretending he wasn’t worried by how things would end up. “I don’t care if anyone else knows. You can tell them all, if you’d like.” He said, reaching out his fingertips to brush against the back of her hand while Potter was distracted.
Hermione stared dubiously at Malfoy, enjoying the brush of his fingers on her hand. His smirk was familiar, but she could read the fear underneath it. He’d just jumped from an emotional cliff, and was hiding behind his usual facade, trying to appear as though he was unbothered by the thought of being publicly outed. She stared hard at him, trying to read beyond his mask, and the underlying fear. Was he really okay with everyone knowing? Was she?
The row between the Slytherins and her friends was getting noisier, and she glanced away from the grey eyes for a moment, assessing the scene.
Pansy was sitting up in bed, shouting insults at Harry and Ginny, her gaggle of friends surrounding her, all yelling back and forth.
“What’s all this about?!” The shout had everyone silent in an instant. Madam Pomfrey had come out of her office at the ruckus, and was staring in horror at the scene that had unfolded.
“Out! All of you, OUT!” She shouted, shooing the group of Slytherin girls, Harry, and Ginny from the room, berating them for trying to start a fight with the suffering patients.
Hermione watched her friends get shuffled out, and Madame Pomfrey come back, and pull the curtains around Pansy’s bed, administering another dose of sleeping draught. She finally turned back to Malfoy, who still stood next to her, his hand on hers, his face pale, but still set in his protective pretense.
“Why does he
get to stay?” McLaggen groaned, nodding toward Malfoy, his own friends still around him.
“Would you prefer I remove everyone
?” Madame Pomfrey threatened, eyeing his circle of visitors with an look that said she’d love to.
“No, no, sorry for asking.” McLaggen quickly reneged. Draco stepped away from Hermione, and she saw him throw a glare at McLaggen as he grabbed the privacy curtain and yanked it shut, hiding them from the onlookers.
“You’ll start more rumors.” Hermione noted, her eyebrows raising.
“I said I don’t care.” His voice wavered a bit, betraying his concern.
“Liar.” She croaked, giving him a small smile.
“Do you…” He paused, looking at the blank curtain to gather his thoughts. Hermione waited patiently, watching what she could see of his face as he thought. He was worried. And trying to be brave. He took a deep breath, and turned back to her.
“What do you want to do?” He asked, his face serious, and searching hers.
“This. The rumors. McGonagall already knows. Pansy knows. McLaggen knows. The whole school will at least suspect, even if we deny it,” she could see where he was leading, and the twitch of his face as he pulled away from the point, refusing to suggest it first. “So, what do you want to do?”
She gave a small shrug in response, knowing it had to irritate him. He narrowed his eyes slightly at her, and she groaned, sitting up slightly. He watched her struggle for posture and stared her down, still refusing to say it first.
“Draco, do you want to just tell everyone we’ve slept together? Is that what you’re getting at?” She asked, purposely misconstruing his words.
“No, that’s not what-” He ran an aggravated hand through his hair, closing his eyes, and looking at her with a glare of frustration. “I meant…” He choked, his mouth open, but no sound coming out. She raised her eyebrows, torturing him with her unwillingness to finish his sentence.
“Do you want…” He trailed off again, looking pained, staring down at her. She grinned up at him, feeling a small wave of pity at his expression.
“Do I want what, Draco?” She asked, forcing her sore throat to produce the words, her playful smile glittering up at him.
“Doyouwannamaybeofficialorwhatever…” He mumbled, barely intelligible. She grinned at him, getting one last prod in.
“Are you willing to date me? For real? In front of everyone?” He choked out, his face bright red, his eyes twitching around the closed off space, looking everywhere but at her. She held her breath, taking in his face, the anxiety written across it, his quickly rising chest, his clenched fists. He glanced at her, and she crooked a finger at him, hearing the approaching footsteps of Madam Pomfrey as she came back for the pre-dinner clearout.
“Dinner’s soon, go on. You can come back tomorrow.” She said, slowly managing to get McLaggen’s guests to leave, as Draco leaned toward Hermione, watching her mischievous face warily.
“Come on, out you go.” Madam Pomfrey’s voice was shooing the students out, and Hermione grabbed Draco’s tie, pulling him in, to whisper right in his ear.
“Only if you promise to keep fucking me like your dirty little secret.” She hissed, just as the curtains were yanked open by a stern-faced hospital witch.
“Dinner-time, out you go.” She said, waving toward the door. Draco pulled slowly away from Hermione, looking down into her blushing face, her eyes still glittering with devilry, as he was pushed from the ward, his face stunned, and the way his teeth pulled at his bottom lip betraying his arousal as he was forced away from her. Hermione grinned to herself long after he’d gone, feeling her blush slowly recede, only to come back full-force when she replayed the moment in her head. “I really said that!”
She mentally shouted to herself, turning on her side to bury her squeal of alarm into her pillow. “I can’t believe I said that to him!”
She rolled back over, staring at the ceiling with a look of gleeful horror, her stomach churning with butterflies. She’d said similar things in the heat of the moment, but voicing something like that in an occupied room? She rolled over again, to the wrong side.
McLaggen was staring at her.
“What’re you so happy about?” He asked, his voice matching the venomous look on his face.
“Never you mind.” She shot back, giving him a glare, before turning over, and grinning into her pillow again, the butterflies beating mercilessly at her stomach, her heart lurching as she remembered the vulnerable way he’d looked at her, and her thighs clenching tighter as she recalled the final heated look he’d given her before being pushed from the room by Madam Pomfrey. She had no doubt that if they’d been alone, he would have taken her right then, more mercilessly than the butterflies abusing her innards.
She looked up at the clock futilely, hoping she’d be released soon.