Lonely Reign, Part 7
Saturday, first Quidditch match after the winter break (Gryffindor/Slytherin)
The sight of a lone gold-and-black muffler amid the sea of green-and-silver masses in Slytherin’s area of the Quidditch stands was not so startling now, halfway through the season, as it had been a month ago.
“Yay Millicent!” Laura shouted as the girl blocked the Quaffle and thwarted Gryffindor’s attempt to score, then jumped up, gasping in horror, as a Gryffindor beater sent a bludger hurtling at Blaise, one of the Slytherin chasers. “Blaise, watch out!” Roarke Montague sat next to her, laughing helplessly. She really was more amusing to watch than the game, he thought.
Then both Draco and Harry Potter spotted the snitch and made a break for it. They flew neck and neck, jostling each other for it, hands outstretched, and suddenly Potter hauled off and slammed Draco in the shoulder, throwing the boy not only off course but off his broom entirely. Potter’s catch of the snitch went unremarked as Draco tumbled to the ground, landing with a thud on the sand.
“Draco!” Laura screamed, and began to shove her way out of the stands.
Draco heard his voice called dimly and shook his head to clear it, then was very sorry when his stomach heaved mightily. Ah, a concussion, he thought, and let darkness overcome him. He came back to himself to find he was on a stretcher and Madam Pomfrey fussing over him and a flash of black-and-gold was streaking by him.
“Harry!” shouted Laura, her voice shrill with worry and anger. “Harry, what a terrible thing to do.”
This could be good, Draco thought, and ignored his sore ribs and thick head to roll onto his stomach so he could watch the proceedings.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Harry Potter,” Laura told him, waggling her finger in his sweaty face. “That’s no way to play Quidditch. I know Draco can’t help cheating—he’s got this little morality problem, you see—but you should know better!”
Hey, Draco protested silently, offended. I do not have a problem with morality. It has problems with me.
“But… Laura,” Potter said helplessly, stepping back, but she would not be denied.
“What would you have done if he’d died, Harry?” she asked, stepping right into his face. “You would have been a murderer.” Their noses were almost touching, and Draco was feeling distinctly unhappy about their proximity. She gazed up at Potter sadly. “I expected so much more from you, Harry.”
“Wibble,” Potter replied, and kissed her. Her arms flailed for a second, and then she recovered and wrapped one around his waist, the other winding sinuously about his neck.
“That’s so romantic,” sighed Millicent, and leaned against Roarke, who smiled down at her.
“That’s disgusting,” snapped Hermione, who’d just run up.
Draco blinked. That could not be happening. Potter was not kissing Laura, Draco’s… uh, minion… right there in the middle of the crowded Quidditch pitch. “Oi!” he shouted. “Get your grubby Gryffindor mitts off my minion!” And then he fell into a fit of coughing.
Laura tore herself from Potter’s embrace and dashed to Draco’s side. “Oh, Draco,” she said sorrowfully. “Does it hurt much?”
“Yes,” he replied, his face rivaling the anguish of the Christ in Michaelangelo’s Pieta. “It hurts a lot.”
She smoothed his hair comfortingly. “Poor boy,” she crooned, her eyes soft. Then she turned back to Potter, and her eyes… changed. They were still soft, but somehow… hotter. Draco didn’t like that one bit.
“I have to go to the infirmary with Draco,” she told Potter. “But don’t think for a moment this is over.”
“No,” Potter said agreeably. “We should discuss it like civilized people. Say, the Astronomy Tower, 10 pm?”
Laura nodded, her face stern. “Be prepared to receive a firm tongue-lashing.”
Potter smiled, his face beatific. “Oh, I will be.”
An hour later, Draco was resting comfortably in a hospital bed, his bare chest almost as pale as the bandages that swathed it. Laura was sitting in a chair by the bed, gently clasping his hand.
“Should I stay with him tonight, do you think?” she asked the others, a frown of worry creasing her smooth brow.
“Yes,” Draco said without hesitation. “You shouldn’t leave me at all, especially at ten o’clock.”
“What’s at ten o’clock?” Laura asked distractedly, fussing with his blankets.
Millicent gave her a slow, sly smile. “The argument you scheduled with Potter.”
“Oh!” Laura exclaimed. “Oh,” she repeated, a tiny grin on her lips as she stared dreamily into the distance. “Quite.” Draco rolled his eyes while the other boys exchanged amused glances. “I should go get ready, do you think?” she asked Millicent.
“You have five hours to go,” Blaise reminded her.
“Just enough time!” Laura said cheerfully. “First impressions are very important for these things, you know.”
“I thought you were just gonna argue with him,” Vincent ventured, scratching his head.
“I’m sure we’ll get around to arguing eventually,” Laura assured him breezily. “Mil, care to supervise the primping?”
Tuesday, 9:37 pm February 19th, Slytherin Common Room
The next day Laura’s sole response to inquiries about how her ‘argument’ with Harry Potter had gone was a naughty smile and a murmured, “Beautifully.” When pressed by Hannah and Susan, she elaborated only a little. “He’s very sorry indeed he hurt Draco. He sees the error of his ways, and won’t do it again.” They didn’t think Harry looked so very sorry, however—his smile was very wide and showed almost all his teeth.
If Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, was enough to set Draco’s teeth on edge, then Harry Potter, The Boy Who Snogged Laura Madley, was quite sufficient to make Draco long for a license to kill. The Gryffindor had taken to strolling indolently down the corridors with an expression of utter, complete fulfillment on his face that no amount of taunting or teasing on Draco’s part could erase. Every overture of mocking was met with a lazy grin, and if Madley were with the Slytherins, a roguish wink in her direction.
“He’s not even a boy anymore,” Blaise complained. “He’s a smirk on legs.”
Draco had tried to forbid Madley from associated with the hated Potter, but she’d only dimpled at him and said, “After curfew, my time’s my own, Your Highness,” in a voice so syrupy sweet he’d wanted to smack her. As a prefect, he was entitled to roam the hallways in search of rule-breakers, so he’d taken to haunting the corridor from which one entered the Astronomy tower but had yet to intercept Madley and Potter on their nightly excursions.
When he’d overheard Madley and Bulstrode whispering about invisibility cloaks and midnight broom-rides, he ground his teeth so hard he almost cracked a molar.
And then came the news that Pansy Parkinson was returning to Hogwarts. Apparently her trauma from being molested by Goyle and subsequently bearing his egg had faded to the point where she could share a castle with him. Whatever Draco had expected Pansy to do when she was led to the Slytherin common room—perhaps a bit of sobbing or screaming at most—was nothing compared to what she actually did.
Her face was thinner, and wan. No longer the painfully primped girl they are remembered, Pansy stood before them with unteased hair and naked face. Her gaze flicked tensely over Gregory Goyle, but she said nothing.
“Hallo, Draco,” she murmured.
“Hallo, Pansy,” he replied gallantly. “Glad to have you back.” Then he stepped back and allowed the others to greet her. Goyle did as he was told and said nothing, merely waving briefly from the far corner in which he’d been placed.
Pansy wasn’t at all surprised to see Laura Madley in the Slytherin common room, as she’d been kept abreast of all the news in the three months she’d spent at home under heavy sedation. She stepped right over to Madley, whose anxious posture indicated she fully expected to be slapped very hard, and said, “I hear you’ve been snogging Potter. How is he? I always thought he’d be good with his hands.”
And without skipping a beat—not a single beat—Madley had smiled dreamily and started babbling about St. Potter’s talents in the field of snogging. A moment later, Millicent joined them to add her two Knuts about Roarke’s prowess in that field.
Draco and Blaise stood there, watching them with puzzlement plain on their faces—girls were so bloody weird—and Goyle ambled over from his corner. Pansy stiffened, showing that she was exquisitely aware of the boy’s location, but continued to chat with Laura and Millicent.
“Think I should talk to her about the egg?” Goyle asked Draco. He’d whispered but his basso profundo carried round the stone room as clearly as if he’d used the Sonorus charm.
That did it. Pansy’s tenuous grip over her emotions snapped and she burst into noisy tears. Millicent led her away with a fierce glare over her broad shoulder, and Laura stepped over to the knot of boys, wringing her hands.
“Gregory, dear,” she began, shooting a nervous glance at Draco, “I think it would be best if you didn’t mention the egg near Pansy. “ She paused, trying to choose her words carefully. “In fact, I think it’s best if you don’t speak around Pansy at all. Ever again.”