I woke up the next morning with the same overwhelming feeling of giddiness left over from the night before. The room was completely devoid of people, so I laid in the comfortable bliss of my bed, reminiscing about how perfect my evening had been. The only way that it could have been more perfect was if my excitement had been better received by Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Upon returning from the date, they had bombarded me with questions. When I finally admitted that Draco and I had kissed, I was met with nothing but negativity. Hermione frowned and shook her head judgment practically poured from her body language. Ron furrowed his brow as his face and ears turned bright red. I looked to Harry, hoping at least to have the solace of his support, but he wore the same unreadable, almost blank expression on his face. I shrugged off their reactions and went upstairs to get away from the negativity.
Aside from that minor bump in the road, the night had been perfect. Laying there, replaying the date in my mind, I had to laugh at the way that everything had ended up. Never in my life had I expected to date Draco Malfoy and be happy about it.
As my mind tends to do when left to its own devices, it began to wander through random thoughts before once again settling on the single thought I’d been pushing from my mind. Voldemort.
I tried to push it away again, but it shoved its way into my thoughts, kicking the happy thoughts out. “Is it time to tell someone?” I wondered. “Did Dumbledore confide in Professor McGonagall? Maybe I should talk to her.” The feeling of hopelessness washed over me. I had no one to help me, and no idea what Voldemort was up to. As much as I thought that Professor McGonagall might be able to help, she was nothing compared to Dumbledore. He seemed to constantly have ways of knowing what was going on. McGonagall was brilliant, but I doubted that she was that brilliant. The truth of the matter was that what I really needed was Dumbledore’ guidance and that simply wasn’t possible.
“But it is possible,” I realized, abruptly sitting up in my bed. My mind was racing with how obvious my realization had been. Dumbledore’s painting hung in the headmaster’s office. All I needed to do was to get in there and talk to him without Professor McGonagall knowing. But I didn’t know the password, and had no ideas about how to get it. I sighed, knowing that it was a long-shot, but kept the idea in the back of my mind.
I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and went down to the common room. I was surprised to find that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all still in there, rather than at breakfast. Hermione appeared to be doing homework, but Harry and Ron were playing a game of Wizard’s Chess.
“Morning, Carrie,” Harry said as I walked in. He quickly went back to focusing on the chess game, because he appeared to be losing. I sat down beside them, and sure enough, only a minute later, Ron declared “checkmate.”
“Can we go get breakfast now?” he asked Harry, who had seemingly waited for me to come down before getting food.
“Yeah, let’s go. I’m starved,” he replied. “You coming, Hermione?”
Hermione looked up from her work upon hearing her name. “Sure, let me just finish this sentence,” she replied. A couple seconds later, she put her quill down, rolled up the parchment, and placed it in her bag.
We exited through the portrait hole and made our way down toward the Great Hall. As we went down the final staircase, I saw Draco just reaching the top of the staircase leading from the dungeons. He had already spotted us and grinned in my direction.
“Good morning,” he said. “Heading to breakfast?” I beamed at him, memories of the date flooding back to the forefront of my memory. Harry, Ron, and Hermione pretended like he wasn’t there.
“Yes. You?” I replied as we reached the bottom of our staircase.
“I am,” he replied. He then continued tentatively, “Would it be alright if I ate with you lot?” I grimaced, worried about what the others would say, and turned to gauge their reactions.
Before I could respond, Ron did so for me. “No, that would not be bloody alright,” he growled, taking a threatening step toward Draco. His face and ears reddened, and he glared at Draco.
Draco seemed surprised but calmly replied, “It was just a question, Weasley. No need to get angry.” At these words, Ron’s eyes looked like they could shoot flames.
“Keep your hands off my sister,” Ron spat at Draco. “You may have deluded her into thinking you’re not the same arrogant git that you’ve always been, but you aren’t fooling me.”
“Ron!” I exclaimed, looking to Hermione to stop him. But she didn’t seem to have any desire to calm him down, clearly agreeing with his anger.
Draco’s brow furrowed, and he glared at Ron. “I think Carrie can make her own decisions,” he said darkly.
“That doesn’t mean I agree with them,” Ron snapped.
“You don’t have to,” I exclaimed incredulously. Ron glared at me. “It’s my choice, not yours, Ron! If you don’t like him, that’s your problem, not mine.”
“He doesn’t deserve you,” Ron growled. “He’s acted like a lousy git toward all of us for as long as we’ve known him. He sided with Voldemort, Carrie! He tried to kill Dumbledore! He’s a complete waste of life, and yet you suddenly fancy him! What’s wrong with you? Has he put you under the Imperius curse? Has someone destroyed your brain?” I stared at him, my mouth hanging open, unable to form words. Hermione wore a smug expression on her face, as if Ron’s outburst proved what she’d been saying all along.
“I can’t change the past,” Draco said, amazingly still calm. “I wish I could. I regret the path I chose more than you could ever know. And I don’t blame you for being skeptical of my motives and for not believing that I’ve truly changed. I’d find it hard to believe too if I were in your position. But if I’m ever going to be able to move on from the past and start fresh, I at least need the opportunity to have a second chance.”
Hermoione was visibly surprised by what Draco had said. Her eyes widened and her eyebrows raised, seemingly subconsciously. Ron seemed to be at a loss for words and blinked stupidly, seemingly frozen with his mouth hanging open. I turned to Harry for the first time during the exchange. He was not shocked like the other two were. Instead, he looked at Draco with a very curious expression. Draco gave a small, half-hearted smile in my direction, and then gave the others a polite nod before setting off in the direction of the Great Hall.
Before the others could recover from their surprise, I rounded on Ron. “Can’t you just stay out of my business and trust me for once?” I fumed. Without waiting for a response, I hurried after Draco, who was carelessly pushing his way through groups of people, clearly more upset than he had let on. Rather than turning with the crowd toward the Great Hall, he shoved the main doors open and hurried outside.
“Draco!” I exclaimed, following him out into the courtyard. He plopped down onto one of the benches and leaned his head back against the stone, staring at the sky.
“I’m so sorry for Ron’s outburst,” I said softly, sitting down next to him.
“I’m not upset with Ron,” Draco replied without taking his eyes off the sky. “He has a right to be upset. I’ve done all those terrible things that he talked about. Having them all laid out in front of me like that makes me upset with myself.”
“You’ve changed, Draco,” I said. “The fact that I’m sitting here with you, and that you’re mad at yourself rather than Ron, and that you didn’t attack him, all of those prove how much you’ve changed. You’re not that person anymore.” I reached over and softly placed my hand on his. Draco sighed.
“Does that even matter if no one believes me?” he said softly, still not looking at me.
“Of course it does,” I said fiercely. “It doesn’t matter if no one else believes you. You know it’s true, and so do I. And I’m here for you.”
He finally turned to look at me, his facial expression extremely soft and vulnerable. Without a word, he pulled me into a kiss. One hand wrapped around the back of my head, pressing me to him, and the other softly cradled my face. While our first kiss had been soft and sweet, this one was deep and passionate.
“Thank you,” he said softly as we pulled apart. “I know you’re going to think this is cheesy, but you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” I laughed and rolled my eyes. “I’m serious,” he said. “I’m not taking one second with you for granted.”
I laughed again. “How about we go get breakfast? Just us,” I suggested.
Draco sighed and shrugged. “Alright,” he said. “I was really hoping to make some sort of peace with the others, but I guess we have to take one step at a time.”
“It’ll come eventually,” I said reassuringly. Draco gave me a small smile and we went inside for breakfast. We sat by ourselves at the far end of the Gryffindor table, receiving looks from several people, the least of which being from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who appeared upset that I had chosen to sit with Draco. After breakfast, Draco and I went our separate ways, each needing to get homework done. Rather than go to the common room as usual, I sat in bed working on my Defense Against the Dark Arts homework. I didn’t particularly want to see my friends at that point. If they wanted to talk, they would have to come to me. And that’s exactly what they did.
About halfway through my essay, the door to the girls’ dorm opened, and I didn’t even need to look up to know that it was Hermione. She came in quietly and sat down at the foot of my bed.
“Carrie?” she said. “Can we talk?”
I sighed and put down my quill and parchment. “Go ahead.”
“I hate what’s happened to our friendship these past couple weeks. We’ve been so distant-”
“No,” I cut her off. “You’ve been distant. Ever since I started dating Draco, you’ve been avoiding me.”
Hermione grimaced. “I know,” she admitted. “I’ve been pushy with my opinions and haven’t listened to yours. I assumed I knew better than you. I’m sorry.”
“And now? Do you finally believe me?” I asked.
It was Hermione’s turn to sigh. “I- I’m not sure. I can see the changes in Draco. But I still can’t say that I like the relationship.”
“You sound like Harry,” I grumbled.
“At least I’m trying,” Hermione said.
“Yes, you are. Thank you,” I said. “What about Ron?”
“Well, I don’t think he’ll be having another outburst,” Hermione said. “But he still doesn’t like Draco, regardless of whether or not he’s changed.”
I sighed. “Well, at least that’s something,” I said. Hermione nodded. “Let’s not let our friendship get to the point where we’re avoiding each other again, OK?” I said.
Hermione smiled. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Care to join us in the common room?”
“Yeah, I’ll be down in a minute,” I replied. Hermione left and I grabbed my homework and put it in my bag. I threw my bag over my shoulder and made my way down to the common room, grateful to at least have one of my best friends back.
As I sat down next to Harry on the couch, Ron mumbled an apology. “It’s alright,” I replied, pulling out my quill so that I could finish my essay.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked.
“I should be asking you the same question,” I replied. Harry raised an eyebrow.
“And why is that?” he asked.
“Every time anyone brings up Draco, you get this weird, expressionless look on your face. Are you sure you’re really OK with him?” I replied. Harry’s brow furrowed.
“I never said I was OK with him,” he said. “We’ve been over this. I think he’s changed, but he doesn’t deserve you.”
“You really don’t need to go the protective brother route, Harry. Ron’s got that covered,” I joked. Harry frowned.
“I’m not going the protective brother route. I’m trying to be the supportive best friend. I’m trying to put my own feelings aside to help you,” he said, sounding annoyed.
If he was trying to make me feel guilty, he was doing an excellent job. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I know it’s asking a lot of you to suddenly accept a guy you’ve hated for seven years. Thanks for at least trying.”
Harry smiled. “You know I’m always here for you, Jacobsen,” he said, playfully rustling my hair.
“You’d better be,” I threatened.
“Of course,” he replied. Just then, Fred and George came down the stairs from the boys’ dormitories.
“Whoa,” I said. “This is a rare sight! The two of you have been practically MIA the last few weeks. I think I’ve seen you like, twice.”
Fred smirked. “We’ve got a business to run, haven’t we?” he said.
“You’ve been in Diagon Alley?” I asked. “How have you been keeping up with school?”
George waved my question away. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’re actually on our way to Diagon Alley right now. Any of you lot care to join? We’ve got a fool-proof method of getting there and back without getting caught. Been using it all month.”
I grinned. A few hours away from Hogwarts was just what I needed. “Count me in,” I said.
“Me too,” Harry chimed in. “I could use some fun. I don’t think I’ve broken any school rules yet this term.” I had to laugh, realizing how calm this term was compared to previous ones.
“What about you two?” George asked, turning to Hermione and Ron.
“I’ve got to work on homework,” Hermione said, without looking up from the parchment she was writing on. Ron, still looking slightly annoyed, gave a little grunt that seemed to signal that he wouldn’t be joining us.
“Let’s go then,” Fred grinned. Fred, George, Harry, and I all climbed through the portrait hole and made our way to the statue that guarded the tunnel that lead into Honeyduke’s basement.
As we climbed into the tunnel, I grinned at Harry, who beamed back at me. We were about to get a fun, drama-free afternoon, which was just what we needed.
I hope y'all enjoyed chapter 9 of The Secret Lightning Scar! I've gotten back into a routine of writing these, so they'll return to being posted every two weeks!
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