Draco Malfoy was limping through the Hogwarts library with no idea where the exit was. He’d entered the maze intending to find information on vanishing cabinets, having stupidly agreed to fix one.
He thought he’d trekked down the aisles to the crafts section, but somehow found himself looking at the spines of books which had probably been banned for centuries: How to Curse Your Significant Other and Get Away With it. The Impaler: An Autobiography. Muggles for Dinner. Darkest Spells of the Present Day.
Without a doubt, Draco had wandered into the Restricted Section.
“Bloody books,” he muttered, kicking a shelf in frustration. A cloud of dust hovered around him. Draco put pressure on his bruised foot and winced in pain. Kicking shelves was how he'd hurt himself in the first place.
Ten or so alphabet letters back, he’d banged on a shelf so hard that a five-thousand-page hardcover had landed on his foot. He'd gotten angry, he couldn’t help it. Draco wasn’t in the mood to be found in the Restricted Section.
It wasn’t the rule breaking that bothered him. Heck, Draco broke rules like Potter broke records. It was having to explain why he was breaking them in the first place. Oh, nothing really, I’m just fixing a vanishing cabinet to smuggle death eaters into school, just a hobby, you know? Yeah. That totally wouldn’t earn him a one-way trip to Azkaban.
The Slytherin turned a corner, and noticed the authors all started with C. He could’ve sworn he’d just strolled down the T aisle. It was as if the enchanted castle actually wanted him to wander till he died of old age. Actually, it probably did. Hogwarts was enchanted to protect its students. Letting in death eaters wasn’t exactly good for occupational health and safety.
“Malfoy?” He heard a soft whisper behind him and swung on his toes, cursing as pain shot through his foot. In front of him, wand raised defensively, was Granger. The muggle-born was clearly shocked to see him. Her untameable hair was falling over her wide, brown eyes.
“What in Merlin’s name are you doing here?” She asked. No matter how shocked she was, he was even more so. Hermione Granger, teachers’ pet, in the Restricted Section?
“What am I doing here?” he hissed. “What are you doing here, Granger?” He noticed her try to shove a book into her robe but caught a glimpse of the tattered cover before she could do so. Splitting the Soul: A Beginner’s Guide to Horcruxes.
Draco staggered back, he’d eavesdropped on his father often enough to know that horcruxes weren’t something a good witch researched. What was the Gryffindor up to?
“It’s for Defense Against the Dark Arts,” she said quickly, keeping her voice low. She didn’t lower her wand and once again asked, “What are you doing here?”
“I got lost, okay?” Draco rolled his eyes. He didn’t believe her one bit. They hadn’t learnt anything about splitting the soul in class, and she wouldn’t be acting so suspiciously if she had permission to be here. Still, Draco had his own secrets. They needed to stay that way, so he decided to enlist the know-it-all’s help and get out of that meddlesome library. “The aisles keep changing on me,” he said, “A to I, T to C… it’s bloody ridiculous.”
She put her wand away, thankfully. “The library doesn’t follow a set layout,” she recited from a textbook, “it just leads you where you need to go.”
“Where I need to go is out!” He stamped his foot on the ground and his face contorted with pain. Granger stifled a laugh. Did she find his pain amusing? The muggle-born should’ve been put in Slytherin.
“What did you do to your foot?” she whispered, looking up and down the aisle for adults.
“None of your business, mud-” he stopped himself. Now was not the time to anger her. She’d already given him a blood nose in their third year, and that was before they’d been taught about the killing curse. He might not like her, but Draco definitely respected Granger’s prowess when it came to spells. “A book fell on it, okay?”
Her ears pricked up and Granger thrust her book into his hands. “Someone’s coming, just hold still.” She whipped out her wand and aimed it at his shoe. Then Granger started enchanting a healing spell that they’d probably learnt in second year but he’d long since forgotten. As she worked her magic, Draco read the back of her book.
For centuries, horcruxes have been an ideal way to obtain immortality. This volume, a compilation of essays by the finest minds, gives beginners the tools they need to successfully create a horcrux and live forever.
“You have to kill someone for this to work,.You’re okay with that?” He silently cursed himself for showing his knowledge on the topic. The Gryffindor would go running off to Dumbledore now, he could picture it: I’m one hundred percent certain Malfoy’s a death eater, sir!
She almost gave him a heart attack with her reply. “You know about horcruxes? Could you help me research?” Was Hermione asking for his help?
Draco considered what to say as she put her wand away, spell complete. His foot felt surprisingly better. Completely healed, in fact. He actually felt grateful. Draco opened his mouth but another, extremely unwelcome voice echoed throughout the aisles.
“Who’s there? Students in the Restricted Section?” It was Filch.
“Come on.” Hermione snatched his hand and sprinted down the aisle. Instead of being pulled along, Draco found he was running comfortably by the Gryffindor’s side. They were partners in crime. She had guts, for a muggle-born. He admired that.
Dammit! He scolded himself for thinking such a thing. She was his enemy, even if she had just asked for his help in researching dark, forbidden magic. Heck, Hermionehad asked for help!
“Watch out!” She pulled Draco back from his thoughts and jerked him to the left, saving him from crashing into a bookshelf. He was certain that the shelf hadn’t been there a second ago. The library was playing games with him. But not Hermione, it seemed. She zigzagged gracefully through the aisles as if she had a constantly updating map of the library in her mind.
He felt his hand turn sweaty in her grip and blushed, hoping she wouldn’t notice.
“We’re almost out,” she said. They were in the X section now. He had no idea how that could be close to A, or the exit. But sure enough, they rounded a corner and emerged into the study section of the library.
A couple of students looked up from their desks. They eyed the two as they skidded to a halt, trying to act cool. A Slytherin boy snickered at Draco and he instinctively snatched his hand from her grip, embarrassed.
“Here’s your book.” He shoved the thick volume at her.
“Thanks.” Hermione quickly buried it beneath her robe. She was smiling. “Will you tell me about you know whats?”
For a second, Draco imagined sitting at a desk with Hermione Granger. Then he felt the gaze of the Slytherin boy burning through him. It couldn't happen, Hermione couldn't happen. He had a reputation to maintain.
Draco narrowed his eyes and hissed, “Go back to your books, Granger.”
Her lips drooped, a shadow falling her. He looked into her wide brown eyes, wanting more than anything to apologise. Wanting to brush aside the hair she'd let fall across her forehead. But he couldn't. They were enemies.
Draco couldn't stand it any longer. He turned on his heels and walked away. As he passed the other students, the Slytherin boy smirked and returned to his books. A Gryffindor gave him the finger. Draco ignored them.
Maybe in another life, he and Hermione could have been friends, but in reality, they were fighting on opposite sides of a war. He’d keep her secret, though, because he knew she’d keep his.