“Will the Head Girl grace the pitch with her presence for today’s match?” The timbre of Malfoy’s cool lilting drawl slid down Hermione’s spine.
She stared determinedly at the book on her lap. “As I have explained many times now, I despise Quidditch. Sitting in the rain, watching people zoom around on broomsticks, risking their lives for the sake of a game is not even remotely enjoyable.”
There was a pause and she glanced up to be greeted by the sight of Malfoy, dressed in his Quidditch uniform, carefully tightening the laces on his dark leather shin-guards.
Her ears grew warm and a small, involuntary shiver slid through her gut. She averted her eyes quickly, determined to resume studying as if there was no one of any interest or consequence currently in the room with her. There was a low sigh and she watched from the corner of her eye as Malfoy stood and started towards the door before pausing in front of her
“You always came when Potter and Weasley played,” he said in a low voice.
Hermione could feel his eyes on her, and she began rereading the page in front of her for the eighth time. “Yes, well—“ she choked slightly, “—they were my friends. I was worried they might get killed.”
There was a deafening silence.
“Right,” Malfoy finally said in a clipped voice. “I’ll see you for rounds tonight then. Assuming I haven’t died.”
He stalked across the room, and Hermione heard the portrait hole slam.
She sat frozen for several seconds, gripping her book and replaying the conversation carefully to the end.
“Bugger,” she said, picking up the heavy Charms textbook and slamming it against her forehead.
She dropped it on the table and bolted to her room, pulling out half the contents of her trunk before she found what she was looking for.
She had to run out of the Head common room and halfway through the castle before she finally caught sight of Malfoy’s blond head.
He paused and waited for her to catch up, a hard, irritated expression on his face. He started pulling his Quidditch gauntlets on as she approached.
“I really don’t like Quidditch,” she said when she got close.
“Yes, you said that.” He twisted the leather laces around his fingers and pulled them tight with a sharp jerk.
Her throat tightened and she glanced away. “I always worry when I’m there. First-year, Harry’s broom was cursed, and second-year Dobby jinxed the bludgers, and third-year the dementors made Harry pass out… When I’m at the matches, I can’t stop thinking about the ways things might go wrong—“
“Granger, it’s fine. You don’t need to explain.” She looked up and found that Malfoy was looking visibly uncomfortable.
Hermione shook her head. “No. You were right. I’m Head Girl, I should come. The war’s over. It’s important to encourage inter-house unity.” She forced a bright smile. “I’ll see you at the match.”
She started to turn away, then froze, and her cheeks grew hot as she gripped a little velvet bag in her hand. Without letting herself pause to reconsider, she plunged her hand in and pulled out the amulet, holding it towards Malfoy without looking at him.
“Take this,” she said, staring determinedly away and feeling as though her face might burst into flames. “The runestone is enchanted to protect the wearer from harm and misfortune. You should wear it today because—because if you die without finishing any of last week’s reports, I will hunt you down in the afterlife and drag you back.”
There was a pause, and she thought she might die of embarrassment. Then she felt a quick pulse of magic in her nerves as Malfoy‘s hand closed around the amulet.
The air shifted. Her breath caught nervously in her throat, and she tensed as she felt him step closer.
“I’ll see you at the match then, Granger.”