23: LeadMature

Tomorrow was the first day of a new semester, and it was being brought to my attention that I would have to change my timetable. Under normal circumstances, a student's schedule remains the same for the entire year. However, because of the fact that I would be chasing a a very powerful dark wizard after I graduated, Draco had suggested that I switched a few things around.

I met him in his office just as he had asked me to, but I was trying to play it cool. I had no idea how to go about what I was trying to do. I knew it was for the best. I was just dreading the outcome.

"You should definitely take Herbology," Draco told me, as we sat around a table in his office that wasn't normally there. "Neville's brilliant, and it will be quite helpful if you ever find yourself alone in the midst of any plant life you aren't familiar with."

Last semester, I had been taking Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid, Charms with Professor Flitwick, Defense Against the Dark Arts with Draco, Transfiguration with Horwitz, and then Potions with Slughorn. I had a free period which would now be filled with Herbology. We debated over whether or not I should continue Care of Magical Creatures. I felt as if it could a useful class in case I would ever need to know how to . . . well, care for a magical creature. Draco disagreed. His argument was that it was almost the same looking after anything: Feed it and treat it with respect.

I shrugged, not wanting to continue the debate any longer. "Whatever you think is best," I said.

Draco reached for my hand across the table and frowned when I pulled it away. "Sid, what's wrong?"

I shook my head. I could not do this. I didn't want to do this. How was I supposed to tell this man that I needed to focus on my schoolwork if I wanted any chance at avenging my parents' death? How was I supposed to tell this divine creature that it would be the best if we were nothing more than teacher and student?

"Nothing, there's just a lot on my mind," I said. It was honest.

He sighed. It was obvious that he did not need Legilimency to read my mind. "I know this is all moving pretty fast."

"It's not that," I began.

"Wait," he interrupted. "I have been feeling irrevocably guilty as of late. I'm supposed to be the adult here. I should have more self-control than I have been exercising with you. I have been a fool. I'm supposed to be helping you prepare for the real world; prepared to fight. I can't distract you like this anymore."

A sigh of relief and surprise escaped from me that I had not known I was holding in. I knew this would happen. I had only kissed this man for the first time in my entire life yesterday, and I was already screwing everything up.

"I agree," I whispered, standing up and walking over to his side of the table. I grabbed his hand, surprising myself, and tugged it toward me. He also stood, and his arms were around me in a second.

"Sid," he murmured.

I shushed him. "No more distractions, remember?"

He was walking me backwards now, until my back came into contact with the wall, and our bodies could not be pressed any closer. His lips met mine for a second, but I pulled away.

"Mr. Malfoy, are you sure?" I asked. Deja vu washed over me as I remembered asking him that same question while he had been under the Imperius Curse. This was different. This was all Draco. I wanted it as much as he did.

He did not bother to answer me with words. He attached his mouth to mine once more, and I let out a sigh. His tongue snaked past my lips, and I couldn't help but grin into the kiss. I was falling hard and fast. A small reminder in the back of my head wanted me to remember that I was to be putting all my focus on schoolwork. However, at the moment, I could barely recall the name of the country we were in.

My hands curled into his already messy blonde hair at the nape of his neck. His thumbs moved in circles against my hips as we tried to pull ourselves closer together. All thoughts of Rafe, school, McGonnogal, and even my parents' murderer vanished from my mind. I could not bring myself to feel guilty about it either. I was going to enjoy this while it lasted.

There was a knock at the door.

At first, I knew I must have been imagining things. There was no way in bloody hell that this moment was being interrupted. Then, the knocking grew louder and more persistent. I smacked my head against the stone wall behind me out of frustration before I realized that it would hurt.

I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out in pain. Stone walls were not soft. Draco smiled at me, touching the back of my head gently and rolling his eyes. When he pulled his hand back and saw that there was no blood, he held a finger up to his lips and then pointed at a student desk in the corner of the room. I went to sit on it and pulled out my wand. After writing one line of I must not pull students' chairs out from under them, I used a quick Copying spell to make the line reappear twenty times down the page.

Draco waved his wand and all evidence of our even disappeared into a closet. He and I straightened our clothes and hair. He went to open the door but stopped himself and turned back to me with a whisper. "Look like somebody else," he instructed.

It was a pretty good idea. I nodded my head and focused on a fourth year girl with black hair I had seen in the Great Hall today. I think her name was Penelope. My name was Penelope. I was in Hufflepuff. I liked to pull chairs out from boys who harassed me.

Draco opened the door.

A very handsome young man stood there with a grim look on his face.

"I have a lead," he said.

There was silence. I turned back to look down at my parchment. My heart was pounding in my chest, but the man hadn't noticed me yet.

"Neville, now's not really the time . . ."

Oi! It was Neville Longbottom. I'd read about him in some of the Harry Potter articles. He was one of Harry's mates. I remember learning that Harry left before their seventh year, and Neville became kind of an unofficial leader at Hogwarts to protect the students from the Carrows that were teaching there. The descriptions always called Neville a round-faced, nervous boy. I knew he was a professor here now, but Herbology had never held much appeal for me until now. Neville Longbottom was stunning.

"This is important, mate. I think we have him this time. I've alerted the M.E.C., but they don't want to take action until we have confirmation from you," Neville said. I was dying to turn around for another look at him, but the anagram caught my attention. I had heard those letters before.

"I'll have to get back to you, Neville. I have a detention right now," Draco said. I tried to keep my posture casual, but even an objective outsider would have been interested. I turned around in my seat.

"Ah, Paulina. Why are you in Slytherin robes?" I looked down at the green emblem on my chest. Blimey.


The End

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