Draco squirms. A lot. His plans for embarassing Neville turns on him and Hogwarts shows just how royally Draco fails.
Draco had been plagued for days, trying to sort out a proper plan to get back at Longbottom. Longbottom was sinking his green paws into Weasley. He had no right looking at Weasley that way, none whatsoever. And those paws! It was nothing indecent, but it was so very suggestive-the way his hand lingered on the small of her back for that extra second, how his robes would brush against hers, how his face seem to hover mere seconds above hers. That was Malfoy's job. Draco was supposed to seduce Weasley and enrage the trio. Instead, it was Longbottom's name that made Weasley turn dark red in brotherly anger. It made no sense. Longbottom was short and fat. He stuttered. He talked to plants!
Longbottom had to pay. The insult to Malfoy was too great, even if only Draco and Weasley were aware of the slight. The price was high, naturally, so this called for something huge. Draco was of course up for the challenge.
The plan was simple but clever. It was rather ironic, actually. As usual, mistletoe was hung throughout the hallways of Hogwarts in the weeks preceding Christmas. Pimply boys and giggly girls found themselves snogging under the little green boughs, awkwardly, messily and shamelessly. Pansy had cornered Draco under a bough and he gave her a hearty kiss. He was feeling charitable after all. Longbottom was going to meet his doom.
With Pansy on his arm and Crabbe and Goyle behind him, Draco strolled down to stand right by a particular sprig of mistletoe. Longbottom had Charms soon.
Sure enough, Longbottom's stooped, round figure came around the corner. It was only a matter of time. Draco nodded to Crabbe, who stuck his foot out. Draco peered the other way. Chang! Oh, his luck was running high today. Draco smirked and twitched his head towards Goyle while looking at Chang.
Goyle tripped and shoved Chang while Longbottom fell over Crabbe's foot. The two were now standing right under the mistletoe. Chang's jaw dropped as she shot daggers at Goyle while Longbottom looked as if he were ready to sink into the floor.
"Well, it would be terribly poor of the two of you not to indulge in the holiday spirit. I may be forced to take away points. We must keep the morale of the school high," Draco said, his arm hanging loosely around Pansy. Pansy sniggered helplessly.
"Well, it's just a snog, isn't it, Neville?" Chang said, her false cheer fooling no one, the set line of her jaw speaking volumes.
"Yyyeesss," Longbottom managed to stutter, his face bright red.
Longbottom closed his eyes. Draco snickered along with Pansy. This was going to be good. He cradled the back of Chang's head, the other hand cupping the small of her back. Chang tilted her head back slightly, her eyes closed. Longbottom leaned forward and their lips met. Draco could almost taste the outrage and embarrassment. So he waited. And waited. And their lips were locked so tightly, they seemed glued. He cleared his throat. The two jumped back, as if they were just aware that there was an audience.
Chang peered at Longbottom.
"I'm afraid we're going to have to try that again, Neville. I think you missed my lips, and as we know, mistletoe kisses are meant to be on the mouth. A Ravenclaw knows these things," Chang said with a smile as she dragged Longbottom by his tie.
Longbottom was now bright red, but did not appear to be protesting. Draco peered at Longbottom. If he didn't know any better, he would suspect that tongue were involved. A sizeable crowd was now surrounding them. Draco scanned the crowd and saw the perfect person to bring down Longbottom. He tilted his head to his left while looking at Goyle. Goyle grinned and gave Brown a nudge while Crabbe dragged away Chang.
"Oi, I wasn't finished, you brute!" Chang yelped.
Brown made a face, wrinkling her nose at Longbottom. Draco pointed at the mistletoe, glaring at Brown.
"You're in the same House. If you don't comply, it's quadruple points. Chop chop, get to it, Brown, Longbottom," Draco drawled. Crabbe and Goyle sniggered while Pansy looked merely bored, pausing only to flutter her eyelids up at Draco.
Longbottom was still quite red in the face, but he seemed to be standing straighter. Bah, what did Chang know anyways? She dated Potter-clearly she had poor taste. Brown was a true girl. Longbottom did not stand a chance against her.
Longbottom began stroking Brown's hair and she was smiling. He flicked up an errant strand and tucked it behind her ear. She was giggling now. The nerve of Longbottom.
"I said kissing, not brushing her hair! You're supposed to kiss her, Longbottom! You're not a bloody maid," Draco said, squeezing Pansy so tightly, she squealed in protest.
Brown wrinkled her nose. Longbottom shrugged and leaned in to kiss Brown, stroking her upper arms. Brown moaned a bit and seemed to melt into him. The crowds were growing larger and there was some whistling and catcalling now. That was definitely tongue, and he thought it was Brown's. The airhead had failed him.
What he needed now was someone stolid and dependable, someone who would need magic to move her. He twisted his mouth. Pansy nudged him in the elbow and pointed at Abbott. He gifted her with a radiant smile. Sometimes, he felt he did Pansy a disservice. She wasn't so terrible, really. Just rather...puggish. But it was charming in its own way.
Draco coughed loudly.
"That's enough, Brown. No points will be docked from you. On your way now," he said, waving his hands in a shooing motion. Goyle assisted Brown, extricating her from Longbottom's arms. Brown stomped on Goyle's feet, but to no avail. Crabbe brought a squirming Abbott in front of Longbottom.
"Now, Abbott, it would really be awful if you didn't set an example as prefect now. Mistletoe is mistletoe, as they would say," Draco said, smirking. Nothing ever moved Abbott. She was an exemplary Hufflepuff, loyal and plodding. It took all his self-control not to burst into peals of victorious laughter.
The crowd of students begin to jeer so loudly, the halls shook with echoes. Longbottom was now staring at Draco, his hands thrust into his pockets. The red had faded to a bright pink. Draco glared back. Longbottom had no right to look at him like that.
Abbott shrugged her shoulders and smiled at the crowd.
"Fair enough, Malfoy. I'll..." Abbot began saying before Longbottom rudely interrupted. His hands were now tracing circles on her back as he strained on his toes. Draco would normally be astonished at his ability to adapt, but now the crowd was pleased, and he swore he saw knuts and sickles exchanging hands. He kicked the wall. Blast, this was supposed to be Longbottom's downfall.
"Neville," said a girl's voice, quietly. Draco saw a familiar flash of red and his scowl turned into a sneer. Oh, Merlin, all was not lost yet!
Abbott blushed and stepped away from the mistletoe, leaving Longbottom and Weasley. The crowd was silent now, staring at Longbottom and Weasley.
"We seem to be standing underneath the mistletoe, Neville. You know what that means," Weasley said. Draco watched the scene unfold. He was unable to breathe, unable to swallow-a lump had moved in while he wasn't looking.
Longbottom was now very pale, his pupils so dilated, they were like black wells.
"Yes, we are, Ginny," he said.
She stepped forward and took his hand in hers. They stood there, staring at each other. Longbottom leaned forward and gave her a chaste peck on the lips. The crowd, and Draco, gave out a huge sigh.
Weasley frowned and walked away. Longbottom stared at her retreating back for a moment and picked up his forgotten books.
"I'm late to Charms. Must hurry. Don't want a detention," Longbottom muttered as he elbowed his way out of the crowd.
Draco was most unpleased. He was again thwarted. He would remember this. He stormed off, Pansy still on his arm as Crabbe and Goyle trailed behind them.
Draco was absorbed in his Potion O.W.L.S. textbook. He was, really. The texture of the paper was chafing his fingers and he'd not seen ink this cheap since he'd tripped on a copy of the Quibbler this morning. But, even in his absorption, he couldn't help overhearing the buzz around him.
"Have you heard the latest?"
"Well, if it's worth incurring the wrath of Madame Pince, which your oh so loud tone would indicate, I suppose it bears repeating."
"Uh, is that a yes or a no?"
"Spit it already."
"Neville Longbottom is a snogging master."
Draco was grateful for the long silence. Shock was the appropriate response to such a statement.
"Close your mouth, I'm serious. Baker's cousin's class mate saw proof with her very own eyes."
"This better be based on reality, unlike those pictures of the Wyrd Sisters you promised."
"Oi, I can't help it if the pictures were Photospelled. My sources never failed me before."
"Well, are you going to finish or not?"
"Longbottom kissed four, count them, FOUR BIRDS under the mistletoe."
There was another long pause. Draco had now begun doodling in the margin of his textbook--a lumpy stick figure hung from a makeshift gallows while a lanky, debonair figure watched, cheering on with "HAHAHA".
"A frog could kiss all the girls he wanted--wouldn't make him a prince."
Draco would have kissed this disbeliever, clearly a paragon of paragons, blessed with insight beyond his years.
"You need more proof? Ask around. Lavender Brown moons around the Gryffindor common room, waiting in giggly hysterics for any sign of Longbottom. Cho Chang has taken to hanging around the greenhouse, despite acing her Herbology O.W.L.S. Hannah Abott has even broken Prefect rank and started breaking her fast at the Gryffindor table."
Draco could see the evil gossip monger ticking the points off on her fingers. He repressed the urge to strangle her, instead stabbing the lumpy figure with the tip of his quill. The disbelieving listener snorted and Draco now had to repress the urge to ask his hand in marriage.
"What of the fourth? Your charmer seems to have only made Second First."
The big mouth gasped.
"What you haven't heard?"
"I swear, you really do live with your head in a bag. The fourth was..."
Draco resisted the urge to throw his textbook at the vile spreader of tales. This was the library, not a bloody theatre.
"Out with it already!"
Draco could feel the clueless one raise his eyebrow.
"Well, if anyone were going to swoon over Longbottom, you would think it would be her."
"'S the oddest thing of all. Their episode under the mistletoe was actually rather tame and boring."
Stabbing was not good enough for the lumpy figure--Draco began to draw dark X's over the poor, unoffending person while drawing storm clouds over the other figure.
"Ha, you're just peeved because you're afraid of losing money."
"I am not. Besides, the year is young yet."
Draco should have been happy that nothing happened. No, he shouldn't be happy because he didn't care. However, it was natural, he was upset that the players were not following their roles. Longbottom was the bumbler. Weasley was the green hoyden. He was to be the puppetmaster. And since he was the puppetmaster, it was time to pull some strings.
But first things first.
Draco closed his book and swept up the rest in his arms, his robe billowing out around him dramatically. He walked over to the chatty duo and gave them a stern glare.
"What are your Houses?" he asked, his prefect badge twinkling in the candelight.
"Er Hufflepuff," said the loose-lipped girl. Pale inspid thing, no wonder she succumbed to the dirty sin of gossip.
"Ravenclaw," said the boy with pinched look about his eyes. Who knew that Ravenclaw housed such wonderous logic? Draco was almost regretful at having to dock him points, but then he remembered that the feckless bookworm had put money, MONEY on Longbottom and Weasley. His rue faded.
"Fifty points each for talking in the library. You know Madame Pince's policy. I'm afraid I'm going to have to report you."
And with a prim sniff, he was off. He sighed. His life was so very hard. He stalked past the gaping fools and hurried to his room. Once in his room, he threw his books to the ground and began search for a piece of parchment. He quickly scrawled a brief note.
~Meet me after dinner~
He fed his owl a snack before whispering Weasley's name in his ear.