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Fighting social media addiction: What did I do before?

So what did we do before social media? Before those apps that keep us connected to friends and family? I’m old enough to remember a time before all this. When, if you were out running around, maybe doing a little shopping in an actual store, and you suddenly remembered something you wanted to ask your mom or best buddy, you had to pull over and find a payphone to call them. I can remember there was a phone booth at the corner store two blocks from my house, and if you wanted some privacy to talk that’s where you went. You didn’t have a cell phone, so you couldn’t just go anywhere and make your call.

Social media, if we can even use that term, was a completely different animal too. You want to share music with your friends? You went to their house or invited them to yours. Need to know what was going on in the world? You read the newspaper or watched the news on TV at a certain designated hour. Wow, who could imagine that inconvenience now? Having to WAIT for information.

As I’m going through my social media withdrawal, I’m thinking of these nostalgic things. And truly missing them. But do I miss them enough to want to go back to that technology deficient time? Probably not. After all, I’m typing this blog on my android phone. This morning’s news and weather was delivered to me via an app as well. That recipe for the breakfast casserole I just fixed? I googled it.

Technology definitely has its benefits, but I’m learning the side effects can hinder us in our relationship with others, though it’s intended to make us more connected.  And so I have to ask myself, is it the technology I’m addicted to, or is it the instant  interaction with others? Am I starving for conversation or am I just addicted to the action of checking my phone every few minutes? Perhaps we’ll delve into that another day. I think i just got a text…

Fighting social media addiction day 1

Here I am on day one of my latest experiment.  To keep off social media until after the election. That’s only several weeks but I’m already feeling my addiction taunting me.

It’s only been a few hours since facebook, facebook messenger, instagram, and twitter were all removed from my phone and other devices. Already I find myself checking my phone for their notifications. It’s almost like a smoker going cold turkey. You still want it. And yet you can’t explain why. What good did it actually do you?

We tell ourselves that we need it. We can’t go without “checking in” and sharing every little aspect of our life. Oh look what I ate. Oh see what I found at the mall. Watch this cool cooking video on YouTube. You get my meaning, I’m sure.

I first got online in 1999 I think it was. The internet was very different then. Social media wasn’t even a term, much less an actual thing. Apps for phones weren’t much either, as the smartphone was yet to dominate. I think the first social website I used was myspace. Remember that, kids? Actually before that I used Yahoo groups to meet and communicate with others. I mention all this because I want to show I’m not new to social apps and sites. My addiction has taken hold for years, and so it’s harder to break.

When I quit smoking in the summer of 1999, I feel like I gave it up for something just as bad for me. I didn’t really lose my addiction, i just traded it in for a different one. Good job there, Paulie.

Love Is The Darkest Art 32

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 53:

The Astronomy Tower was the tallest at Hogwarts. Beginning at the ground floor not far from the entrance foyer, it rose upwards past every floor and into the night above the school’s gabled roofs. For Hermione, the most exciting times in the tower had been during midnight astronomy classes with Aurora Sinistra. The professor had shown her and other students the many constellations and stars that could only been seen from the top of the tower.

But she wasn’t thinking of those things as Draco’s lips touched her cheek, his warm breath exhaling his apology. Instead, she was thinking if they could just reach the parapet of the tower, she and Draco could step off and waltz across the stars to lie in the bed of clouds. And when his lips laid softly against her own, she could hardly feel the stairs under her feet as they slowly rose upward, winding around the staircase.

“Draco,” she managed to breathe, realizing he had swooped her up under the invisibility cloak and was now carrying her. His eyes met hers and she could see an overwhelming loneliness there, as if the last few days had been just as miserable for him as it had been for her. She had felt abandoned by him, but perhaps he had felt the same. Maybe the kiss she had given Ron was in innocence, but for him was like abandonment. A sign she was ougrowing his affections and wanted something more. And now, reunited with her dark love Draco, she did want more.

A sound coming down the stairs above them made them both stop. Draco set Hermione down, and pulled her close. “Shhh,” he whispered, and as if to guarantee her silence he kissed her passionately, opening his mouth against hers, their lips formed over each other perfectly, tongues touching in soft explorations.

Hermione heard the person on the stairs as they drew close. She couldn’t see who it was as her eyes were drowning in the depths of Draco’s own. And when her love playfully sucked at the tip of her tongue, she didn’t even see that, for her eyes closed and rolled up in her head beneath the eyelids.

When the person passed by wordlessly, oblivious to the invisible teenage couple, and descended the stairs, Draco finally released her. “Wow,” she whispered, while trying to catch her breath. “I think we need to have disagreements more often.”

“I agree. I just hope you don’t kiss another boy again. We can find other ways to argue if need be.”

Though it seemed he was making light of it, she could hear the fear of losing her in his voice as if she was looking for a way out.

“Are there other boys,” he asked, his voice quiet and shaking, as he took her by the hand and continued up the long narrow stairs. She didn’t answer him right away. In fact, it wasn’t until they reached the top of the tower that either of them said another word. Part of of it was because the climb robbed them both of even breaths, yet for Hermione it was also the glorious feeling of Draco’s hand holding hers that made her revel it in silence. But when they came onto the top landing, Draco broke the quiet and asked her again. “Is there anyone else?”

This time she smiled. “I am yours, Draco. If you cant see by now that I love you…”

“I want to see,” he interrupted her. “I want to trust and believe. I love you so much, Hermione. When you kissed Ron it destroyed me. I just crumbled. That’s how I love you.” Draco enveloped her in his arms. “I wish there was just you and me and no one else in the world. I wish we could run away and just make love everyday.”

Hermioned looked up in his face. “Make love?”

“Um, well…uh yes. I think about you all the time. And that, too. You know, sharing that kind of…oh forget it.”

Hermione put her hand on his chest to calm his nervous awkwardness. She could feel his racing heartbeat beneath his shirt. “Its okay, Draco. I want you that way, too. I’m just… scared. Things are changing very fast. Part of me wants to run, the other just wants your hands on me. I guess I shouldn’t say that.”

A shooting star, trailing blue and pink, lit up the sky, illuminating them in the tower’s heights. “Then I shouldnt say I have dreamed of your hands on me, too,” Draco admitted.

“And I shouldn’t say I want to feel you pressed against me.”

He didn’t smile, but his eyes were dancing. His lips parted, moist and inviting. “And I shouldn’t say I want your kisses to rain on me like heaven and all the…”

“No, you shouldn’t say it,” she agreed.

“Right.”

There was a moment that seemed like eternity. A silence. A hesitation. An unclaimed longing. Hermione’s heart sped to catch up to Draco’s. She could still feel his heart beating against her palm. To her it was like music, a seductive drumming she could feel in her whole frame.

“I shouldn’t say this but…”

Draco didn’t wait for her to finish, but kissed her passionately, deeply, without restraint. She fell into his hunger, his desire, and welcomed his mouth upon hers as if it were the last kiss in the universe.

She felt his hand on her waist. His other rested against her stomach. She wondered if he could feel the thousand butterflies that seemed to be fluttering there. She put her arms around his neck and pushed the invisibility cloak off, exposing them to the stars and nightime clouds. She couldn’t let her friends see them, but she welcomed the moon’s gaze upon she and Draco, as she laced her fingers behind his head and pulled him maddeningly close. So close that his breath was hers. His touch was her touch. She fell dreamingly into the thought that they could make love right here in the tower, their heads in the clouds far above Hogwarts, where they hadn’t been allowed to be themselves or do the things they’d longed to do.

His kiss moved from her mouth onto her neck and she tilted her head back. She closed her eyes, truly wishing they were far away where no one knew them. “I love you, Draco,” she whispered. Far above the clouds, and into forever, she thought.

Draco stopped kissing her long enough to murmur, “If love is the darkest art, I never want to step into the light without you again. I love you more than anything, Hermione. And I want you in every way that lovers crave.”

She looked into his face and saw his silver grey eyes held a trace of tears. She started to say something, perhaps to ask why he was crying, but he put his finger to her lips.

“Can we just bathe in these stars? Feel the waters everytime we kiss? There is time enough to make love someday, but tonight, as much as I want you like that, I want to know that you’ll love me forever more.”

“I will love you forever,” she whispered and gently urged him to kiss her again. The stars. The night. The clouds. The moon. All these things watched them and sighed. As did the Malfoy family owl perched in the rafters of the tower.

Love Is The Darkest Art 29

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 47:

“Damn, that had to hurt,” a voice said from behind her in the darkness. Hermione spun, already taking aim with her wand when she realized it was Draco. “Looks like I’m a little late to this party,” he added. He shook his head. “Good thing, too.”

She wanted to fling herself in his arms, but she held her ground, waiting to see what his move was going to be. And then the thought came to her. He hadn’t spoken to her in awhile because of the Ron thing, and now suddenly when she’s under attack, he shows up. Why exactly is that, the suspicious side of her wondered. “What brings you here, Malfoy? Here to lend your friend a hand in paying me back?”

She didn’t mean to sound so angry, but in essence she was. Draco had given her hell for pecking Ron on the cheek. He had gotten her boys in trouble, abandoned her, and hadn’t given a care whether she had cried over him constantly since.

“Oh come on, Hermione. You actually think I would attack you, or help someone else to do it? It ticks me off you kissed Ron, but….hey, where’d he go?”

Hermione looked at where her assailant lay on the floor. Except he was no longer there. “Oh no,” she said. “He’s getting away. We have to tell…”

Draco drew his wand and pointed it high in the darkened room. For a moment Hermione thought he was going to put a spell on the ceiling, or more likely restore the lights. Instead he mumbled an incantation that didn’t even sound familiar to her. Where did he learn that, she thought, though she wasn’t even sure what “that” even was. Sparks flew across the top of the ceiling, scattering in all directions. Draco grinned. “There. Let’s see him get through that,” Draco gloated.

Her anger momentarily forgotten, she couldn’t help her curiosity, though she certainly wasn’t ready to forgive him. “What is it?” she asked.

“It seals off all entrances and exits in the room. He can’t get out.”

Suddenly there was a furious sound, like that of a gathering wind, from the front of the library. “Well crap,” Draco muttered. “I think he knows that one. I guess that tells us who sent the eater this time.”

“Who?”

He looked at her with a sorrow in his eyes. “My dad.” And with that declaration, he took off down the aisle towards the entrance.

“Your dad? Draco, wait!”

Hermione took off after him, her wand gripped tightly in her hand. She tried to think of a charm that would help either herself or Draco defeat an experienced death eater. Sure, she had fought back and stopped his attack mere seconds ago, but then she’d had the element of suprise. Now, the villian would be ready.

It was still dark in the room, and she lost sight of Draco within moments. But she could hear the enchanted wind ahead as it built up in its fury. She ran down the aisle and came out in the library atrium to find Draco confronting the death eater. At first it seemed Malfoy had the best of him, holding him nearly immoble with a conjured lasso at least six inches thick. But then the wind threw Draco aside, and the Slytherin crashed on top of a table that cracked beneath him.

“No!” Hermione screamed, and then looked up. The sparks that Draco had sent across the ceiling to trap the death eater in the room were fading. Twinkling out as if the hands of an invisible giant was snuffing out each one like candle. And with that came the same effect on Draco. Pinned to the table top as if a giant foot was crushing him there, Draco coughed and thrashed, the diminishing sparks reflecting in his terrified eyes.

She drew her wand, but the death eater disarmed her easily. She had been right. Now he was prepared. And this time as her wand skidded across the floor, he didn’t grab her from behind. Instead he pointed his own wand, his face distorted in anger. His hand shook as if he were having trouble containing his fury.

“Stupid little girl,” he hissed. He glanced at Draco who now seemed barely conscious. “And little boy.” Another wand materialized in his other hand. “If you were anyone else, you both would be food for the Dark Lord. But as it is, my instructions are simply to deliver a message.”

Draco groaned and tried to sit up.

“Do not move, young Malfoy. Just because you are who you are doesn’t mean I’m forbidden to hurt you.” A quick glare at Hermione. “I am not forbidden to hurt you however. What is forbidden is this. Your little secret rendezvous days are over.”

“You..” Draco started to say, before a flash erupted from the tip of the Death Eater’s wand and sent him into fits of writhing discomfort and pain.

“Shut up and listen, for I will not repeat myself. You have already been told once by those who rule over you. Don’t make them turn to more drastic measures for you to heed their instruction. You will cease from your little trysts with this mudblood.” He looked at Hermione. “And you, little firecat, when you see Draco coming, you best just go the other way. You are not friends. you are not…” He snickered. “Lovers.” With a threatening jab of his wand at Hermione he added, “You are not anything.”

In a quick movement, Draco rolled off the table and attempted to get up. A shower of flame shot from the Death Eater’s wand and his body contorted and twisted, as if an unseen puppeteer were jerking his limbs one way and the other. Draco screamed.

“If I am sent to deal with either of you again, the visit will be fatal. Your instructions are simple. Stay away from each other. Hate each other again as you once did. Anything else is forbidden and will end painfully for both of you if you persist.”

He released Draco from his mad fits and the Slytherin boy collapsed on the ground, still and unmoving. The man turned to take in Hermione with his intense, darkened eyes. “Remember, I can read your thoughts when I am near.” He took a step towards her and she backed away. He kept coming. It was obvious he loved the fear. “There is no way out of this, Miss Granger. You either obey…or you face worse consequences than watching Draco…sleep.”

He directed a wand at Malfoy and there was a quiet hiss that passed from the tip to Draco’s lips. A look of quiet peace passed across the boy’s face. “He truly cant save you now.” He licked his lips. “Another time and I would show you the rewards for those who serve the right side. But as it is, everyone knows you will not change. And so here we are just watching Draco sleep. Sweet dreams.” And with that, he jabbed the wand. It hissed and within seconds she eased to the floor unconscious. The last thing she saw before succumbing to the spell was Draco’s still form, and for a second she wanted to try and crawl to him as they do in the movies when lovers wish to die together.

Scene 48:

Hermione came to with the sensation of someone shaking her. Fighting the grogginess, she opened her eyes to the sight of Cho Chang kneeling over her. The pretty Asian student had a look of fear and worry in her eyes.

“Hermione, please wake up, please,” she was pleading. Another shake helped dislodge the dreary after effects of the spell.

She sat up. “Oh my God,” she muttered, holding her head. She looked around the room, her gaze now becoming desperate. “Where is…” she began, but stopped herself. No one could know she and Draco had been in the library together.

Luckily, Cho didn’t catch it. But the Patil sisters did. They were both standing behind Cho and looking on the scene with horror. “Someone attacked you,” they simultaneously asked.

“Yes,” Hermione replied, with a dizzying nod of her head. “I think it was a Death Eater.”

The three girls looked on her with shock. “A Death Eater?” Cho helped Hermione to her feet. “We have to tell someone.”

Granger shook her head quickly enough. “No,” she said.

“Why not?”

“It will endanger too many people,” she lied. She knew the only ones threatened were she and Draco. Death Eaters would never dream of attacking the whole school. But where was Draco now? Did the Death Eater take him? Or had Malfoy awakened and taken the first step of carrying out the villain’s instructions that he abandon her?
Oh Draco, she thought. Please dont leave me.

Love Is The Darkest Art 28

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 45:

Draco Malfoy passed the dark man on his way to Umbridge’s office. He was already nervous over what he wanted to ask of her. Seeing the tall stranger just made it worse. It was quite obvious he was a death eater. He could see an edge of the identifying tattoo on his forearm, and when he spared a brief look towards Draco, there was a knowing sneer, as if he were gloating over something. Malfoy turned and watched him go around a corner, thinking that despite the changes at Hogwarts, death eaters shouldn’t be here. Your dad is a death eater, a little voice inside his head said. Exactly, Draco replied, before shrugging it off and continuing on his way to see Umbridge.

“You want me to what???” Dolores wasn’t just suprised, she was also offended. And angry.

Draco swallowed hard. “Yes Mrs. Umbridge. Kicking them off the team was awesome punishment, and a stroke of your genius, but if they could have their brooms back, at least they could…”

“Do I need to punish you too? Just whose side are you on? Is your loyalty in question?”

“No mam. I am on the ministry’s…I mean your side.”

She looked at him hard. “I don’t know why you are behaving differently, and more dissapointing I might add, but perhaps you just have too much time on your hands. Maybe you need an extra task or two.”

“Whatever you need me to do,” he replied, hoping at least it would be something to make others fear his position as prefect and Umbridge’s enforcer. He might have changed feelings and attitudes here lately, but inside he was still Draco Malfoy. Troublemaker.

Suddenly the woman’s face lit up, as she turned a note over and over in her hand. “I have just the thing,” she nearly cackled, thinking she could damage two little dragons in one fell swoop. She smiled at Draco. “Go to the library and fetch me this book.” She took the note, folded it, and handed it to him. “Now excuse me, I have work to do.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Umbridge.” Draco got up to leave, but she stopped him with a wave of her finger. “I may consider the brooms. Well maybe not Potters. But the others.”

“Thank you. I think Weasley could benefit from having his returned. He’s a terrible player.”

Out in the hall, he thought it could have went worse. Maybe she’d return Ron his broom and help Draco get back in Granger’s good graces. Perhaps he could salvage this after all. Now, what stupid book could the old biddy want?

Draco unfolded the note she had handed him. He noticed right away it wasn’t Umbridge’s writing. It was his father’s. On it were written two words: Hermione Granger.

“Oh no,” he cried, and took off down the hall, thinking of the dark man he had passed earlier. Thats why a death eater was here. For Hermione. Draco wished it were possible to disapparate within the school, but the builders of Hogwarts had chosen to make this one of the spells you couldn’t do inside the halls of education. Instead, he had to rely on speed and hope that he wasn’t too late.

Scene 46:

Hermione was still sitting on the floor in the library, her back against the bookshelf. Luna had left, and now she was alone with her thoghts. She closed her eyes a moment, trying to work it out in her head, how to get Draco to understand the kiss she’d planted on Ron’s cheek meant nothing. Suddenly there was the sound of a door slamming and her eyes shot open. She was in darkness now. Someone had flipped off the lights. Before she could rise to her feet, she heard a clacking sound as if someone were walking in the library with metal tipped shoes. Tap. Tap. Tap.

She withdrew her wand and stood stock still. Whomever it was, she didn’t want them to hear her moving. Something told her this was not right. Someone wanted her at a disadvantage in the darkness. Either that, or they just wanted to scare her. Regardless, it was working. She was frightened. For a moment, she entertained the notion of lighting the room with her wand, but she thought better of it.

The tap, tap, tap continued. Hermione was pretty astute at determing sounds, and so she knew the shoe was a boot worn by someone with a heavy step. Someone who was not a student. The stride between steps signified the stalker was tall, perhaps six foot or more. Could it be Snape? He was tall and older. But why would he be lurking in the library in the dark?

Another rhythmic sound came to her. Snap. Snap. Snap. Someone was snapping their fingers. It sounded in sync with the tap of the boots. She couldn’t take it anymore. “Who’s there?”

Her voice caused the boots to stop, but the finger snapping continued. Rhythmic, sharp, nearly echoing off the rows and rows of books. Oh no, they are in one of the aisles. And then she felt it, a chill through her hair on the back of her neck. That’s why the snapping sounded so sharp. It was right behind her.

She spun, bringing her wand up, but a hand grasped her wrist, squeezing it so hard she dropped her weapon. Now there was no tap, tap, tap. Nor a snap, snap, snap. No, there was a towering man in black before her, his long coat nearly dragging the floor. His eyes were malevolent in the darkness as he held her wrist in his vice like grip. Before she could scream, he covered her mouth with his other hand.

“Hermione Granger,” he hissed, and it sounded almost like question, as if he wasnt sure who she was. She shook her head urgently, and he laughed low in his throat. “Of course you are.” He drew a long fingernail across her brow. “I can hear you in there. All your thoughts, fears, desires.” He chuckled. “I wish someone would save me,” he mimicked in a high girly voice. “Oh Draco my love, where are you?”

Hermione struggled against him, but he only held her tighter. His hand over her mouth kept any scream from being heard. He had read her thoughts as if she were an open book. She hated the intrusion. What kind of defense could you have against this kind of enemy?

“None,” he whispered, hearing it all as if she’d spoken it aloud. “You are a weak, defenseless little child next me. I love that.” A snicker. “It’s funny how your mind goes in hundreds of directions when you are scared. Always expecting, no, always needing someone to intervene and rescue you. So weak is a girl’s will. What would you do without boys?”

A laugh. A snort, then his high girly imitation again. “Oh Draco, I need a man because I’m too worthless to take up for myself.” He leaned close and whispered, “Perhaps you should think like a man. Go for the sex right off the bat to distract your opponent. Use your body as the weapon.”

It was almost sickening. He ws nearly drooling in her ear. Not only was he the enemy, but a freaking pervert to boot. One hand slid dangerously close to her breast. “Come on darling, let me have a squeeze.”

Hermione closed her eyes in a long sigh of seeming surrender. “Okay,” she breathed, and her voice sounded inviting with the promise of…

A scream. Long and anguished, like a beast caught in a trap. Yet it wasn’t hers. She was silent, teeth gritted in determination, her hand squeezing his manhood through his clothes, so hard that it was as if a steel trap had snapped on his lower parts and locked. Hermione twisted her wrist, wrenching him forward in anguish, then slammed her head backwards into his face. There was a crack, but she wasnt sure if it was his nose breaking, or teeth being dislodged from his mouth. All she knew is he was letting go of her.

She dropped to the floor, rolled, and retrieved her wand. “Girls aren’t weak,” she said, as the tip of her wand exploded a shower of sparks towards the man. Any other time and the death eater may have been prepared, but he had underestimated his prey. He’d thought her weak. Defenseless. A girl who would cry in the face of fear. Wrong on all counts. She was Hermione Granger, and she had just hit him with a defensive spell she’d learned last week in lessons with Dumbledore’s army. He dropped like a sack of wet sand and was still.

Love Is The Darkest Art 27 v.2

Paul’s note: Had to re-upload this from yesterday. For some reason, stats and comments weren’t working. But hey, if you read this yesterday, there’s nothing new added to this one, but I sure would like your like again 😉

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 42:

Hagrid returned to school, and with him came the snow. With the snow came bitter winds, signaling Christmas was on its way. Hermione had been waiting for the holidays so she could buy Draco a present to show her undying affection, but their last fight seemed to have changed all that. They’d had disagreements before, as all couples do, but until now it had only affected them. This time though, friends had been caught in the middle. Not only had Harry, Fred, and George been kicked off the Quidditch team, they’d had their brooms taken also. She felt so bad about that. They were her friends and because she’d given Ron a good luck cheek kiss, Draco’s jealousy had kicked in full swing and caused her world to fall apart.

It was a few days after Hagrid’s return when Luna found Hermione in the library, crying in the spot where Draco had first kissed her. It seemed like years ago rather than…just how long had it been now? Hermione couldn’t even remember. It was as if once she started to fall in love, all sense of time had ceased. And when she looked up from where she sat in the floor, her back against the towering bookshelf, legs drawn beneath her, time began again.

Luna looked down at her and apologized. “I’m sorry, Hermione. I truly am.”

“Sorry for what?”

“Casting the silencio spell on you. I just wanted you to be quiet before you said too much. I know you want to keep your secret.”

Hermione nodded. “For what it’s worth, thanks. But I don’t think it matters so much anymore. We’re over.”

Luna smirked and shook her head. “Magic has no end. Some spells you just never get over.”

“This one is especially bad.”

“I know. I got it too.” When Hermione looked at her, Luna added, “Not with Draco, of course. He doesn’t really do it for me.”

Granger smiled. “I thought the same thing once. But now…”

“He really does it for you,” Luna finished. “Bad.”

Hermione, realizing she was so close to giving her most secret thoughts a voice, stammered, “Not that bad.”

“Yeah right,” Luna agreed, kneeling in front of her. “Don’t worry, I’ll never tell a soul. Even if you forget, I won’t tell.”

Forget? How could she ever forget what she and Draco had been through? The things they’d experienced, the times they’d shared. How could they be lost to memory, save an obliviate spell? Even if she wanted to forget Draco, such a spell would erase far more than that. Professor Gilderoy Lockheart was living proof of that outcome.

“I could never forget,” she said, more to herself than Luna.

“I know I’m not supposed to know, but I can talk to him if you want.”

Hermione shook her head sadly. “No, just leave him alone. It’s obvious that’s what he wants.”

Lovegood shrugged. “It’s your choice. But I don’t care who you are, no one wants to be alone.” She offered a reassuring smile. “He still wants you, you know. Look at you. How could he not? You’re Hermione Granger, Gryffindor dream.”

Coming from anyone else, Hermione would have thought it to be sarcastic, but from Luna it was a genuine statement. And it made Hermione feel better knowing her peers thought she was pretty. Still, what really mattered were not the thoughts of other girls, but the thoughts of her beloved, lost Draco.

Scene 43:

Draco was lost. But not in the way Hermione imagined. No, Draco Malfoy was lost in a dream. Right in the middle of the day. In the Slytherin common room, there was some activity, but not enough to keep him awake. Stuck in a funk he couldn’t get out of (thanks a lot, Hermione), he’d fallen asleep in a cushioned high back chair and slipped off into the world of dreams. For Draco, this was usually a wonderful place, where he picked on those beneath him, or ruled his own island, or was a powerful, and famous, wizard of great importance. But not today. Not here. Instead his dreams were the stuff of nightmares. Death Eaters chased him through his own house, yelling “traitor!” His mother scowled, preparing to send an owl to him, carrying not delicious sweets, but curses for forsaking the family for a mudblood. And then, the worse dream terror of all: Hermione in a passionate embrace with Ron, her tongue shoved halfway down his throat, clutching his bare back with beautifully painted fingernails…

“Hey,” a girl’s voice interrupted. At first he thought it was Hermione within dream, but when the voice spoke again, this time a little more loudly, there was no mistaking the irritating tone of Pansy Parkinson.

His eyes fluttered open, and sure enough, her face was looking down into his. Pansy Parkinson smiled, as if to be this close to him was her every dream. “You have an owl,” she breathed softly, as if what she was really saying had something to do with lust, rather than messages from home.

“No,” Draco said, leading her to wonder if he meant her thoughts or the news. He got up from the chair and brushed past to her where the Malfoy family owl awaited, a tiny rolled parchment attached to its back. He didn’t greet the creature, but removed the scroll and began to unroll it, noticing his father’s perfectly coiled script right away.

Before reading it, he glanced around the room. Nearly every Slytherin was watching. Even his peers knew he rarely got owls from home. He scowled and retreated to his room to read the message, thankful that it wasn’t a howler.

“Draco,” the missive demanded, “as per our previous discussion I thought it was made clear that you would stay away from Mudbloods, in particular one of the female persuasion whose name I will not bother to put in print for the distaste it leaves in my mouth. It has come to my attention that despite your mother’s request, as well as mine, you have continued to be seen in the girl’s company, sometimes in an attempt to do so in secret. Nothing is secret, boy.”

Draco stopped reading for a moment, suddenly aware that his father or his agents may have been spying on him, cataloguing moments that Draco believed had been hidden from prying eyes. Had his father known of the moments shared within the Malfoy mansion, as well as without? He returned to the letter, fearing it’s outcome.

“I will not let a girl, let alone a mudblood, destroy our house or bring our name to ruin. And that’s what will happen if we alow this to continue. She will tear this house in two. She is not a friend, girlfriend, or whatever. Remember she is not pureblood, and as such, she is on the side of the enemy.
Because you have refused to believe this and have repeatedly disobeyed direct orders, it pains me to have to punish you this forcibly, but if YOU will not remove her from your presence, then I will find someone who will.”

Draco thought on this a moment, trying to figure out what this meant. His father’s threat was there and Draco knew he meant what he said. But what did the threat imply? Remove her from my presence? That could mean a great number of things, none of which would be good for Hermione. Draco pulled his wand, uttered words under his breath and watched the message light afire. It burned up in his hand, its edges crumpling inward until it was just ashes in his palm. He rose to his feet, tall and resolute. No one was taking Hermione from him.

He walked back into the main room of Slytherin. Once again, all eyes were upon him. Crabbe and Goyle stood up. The pair seemed to be ready to offer support in whatever news his Owl had delivered. But they couldn’t help in this, thought Draco. “Sit down,” he told them. “You’re embarrassing me.”

He passed by Pansy Parkinson, and lay a hand on her shoulder. “Thank You,” he said, and before she could ask a bewildered question, he leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. She blushed, and he laughed a little under his breath. Hermione was right. It didn’t mean nothing. He didn’t feel a thing for Pansy, just as she didn’t feel a thing for Ron. He had made a mistake, several in fact. And now he was going to fix them. Hopefully before his father found out the real truth that all the spies in the world couldn’t tell him. He was helplessly in love with the enemy.

Scene 44:

The man stood in front of Umbridge’s desk, silent and somehat menacing. Dolores had nothing to fear from any of Hogwart’s students, but this visitor wasn’t a child. He was a messenger. A death eater. And as she read the note he handed her, she didnt know whether to smile or be fearful. Finally she looked up into the man’s cool eyes and said in a grim tone, “You have fifteen minutes.”

The man nodded, his face almost blank, as if he were no longer there, but seeking out his prey in his mind.

50 Word Story #23

*Still working on my 50 words story experiment, while mulling over whether to do Nanowrimo this year. Got a few ideas, but I’m beating myself up over the possibility of failure. On another note, I’m experimenting with a new blog, Paulie Rocks , which will revisit rock music videos from the 70’s – 90’s, and into the modern age. Right now, I’m doing a 31 days of Halloween Jams feature, so please go give me some views and likes, please*

50 Word Story #23

The sign on the door reads “Victim’s Advocate”. It should say “Dead Victims Advocate,” because unless you are a ghost I can’t help you. My social skills are lacking with live people. I don’t do the internet, clubs, or grocers. I do church however. That’s where the dead ones are.

Author Paul D. Aronson shares some works in progress and the writing process.