Chapter Four: The Great Escape
As the credits roll on Se7en there's a stunned silence in the Room of Requirement. Hermione shifts uncomfortably in her seat, not really wanting to be the first to speak, and yet feeling that somebody should say something.
"Potter, what the shit?"
Pansy pushes herself forward to perch on the edge of her seat, planting her stiletto-shod feet on the floor and leaning forward to fix Harry with her singularly ferocious glare.
"Didn't you enjoy it?" Harry asks, blinking innocently at her.
"Is that what qualifies as holiday entertainment for muggles?"
"What, not as much fun as watching them be tortured for sport?"
Pansy reels back as though he's slapped her, her face draining of colour. "Is that what you think I -"
"Tell me I'm wrong." Suddenly, Harry's out of his seat, face contorted with fury. "You'd have given me up in a heartbeat if you thought it would save your own skin, and you want me to think a film has offended your precious -"
"That film was horrible, Potter, what that John Doe man was doing was - was vile, and evil and -"
"SO WAS VOLDEMORT!"
Hermione jumps as Harry's voice abruptly jumps in volume. She's hardly ever seen this expression on his face: hard, challenging. It's the way he looks on the rare occasions when he and Ron fight, and she feels a whisper of real trepidation. Maybe she shouldn't have -
"And you think I'm just like him then?" Pansy's on her feet too, her dark blue eyes glittering as she squares up to Harry, chin tipped upwards to look him in the eye. "You think I'm evil, do you Potter, because I was brought up to believe the things my parents did? Because I cared more about my friends than I did about some scruffy little orphan twat who didn't give two fucks about -"
"What did you call me?" Harry growls, grabbing Pansy's wrist where she's fisted her hand in the front of his jumper.
"I called you a SCRUFFY LITTLE -"
"Oh," Ginny exhales softly from behind Hermione as Harry and Pansy continue to scream at one another, now almost nose-to-nose, and then abruptly Nott's out of his chair and has a hand on Hermione's arm. Before she really knows what's going on, she finds herself being bundled out of the room.
"Nott, get off me, we can't just leave -"
"That's exactly what we're doing," Nott says, smoothing his button-down where it's been wrinkled during the course of their hasty retreat. He cocks his head and gives Hermione a considering look. "Were you planning this, when you invited her?"
"Was I planning what?"
"Of course she wasn't," Ginny scoffs, closing the door gently behind her. "Do you think she'd have let Harry stick that film on if she had been?"
"Good point," Nott grimaces. "I have to say, Granger, that was a spectacularly gruesome couple of hours." He does look a little pale, even under the hallway torchlight. "Are all the films we watch going to be like that now, because I have to say I preferred the first -"
"No, they're not." Hermione closes her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger. "I think Harry just picked the most off-putting thing he could find because he was so cross with me for inviting Pansy." She sighs, shoulders drooping. "I guess that worked, so much for inter-house unity -"
"Granger." Nott's voice sounds odd, and when she glances up at him questioningly he's looking at her with the strangest expression, almost as though she's said something completely idiotic.
"What?" Hermione asks.
"Godric and Merlin." Ginny slings an arm around Hermione's shoulders, letting her momentum spin the pair of them around to face in the direction of Gryffindor Tower. "For someone so smart, you're also ridiculously thick. We'll see you tomorrow Nott," she yells over her shoulder. "I promise to make her pick a good one, if you want to bring Greengrass."
"Right you are," Nott calls back, before he disappears.
"Hold on," Hermione says, trying to dig her heels in as Ginny tows her away. "Shouldn't we wait for Harry?"
Ginny looks at her, disbelief writ large across her face. "Please tell me you're joking?"
Hermione doesn't want to believe it, but when Harry still hasn't reappeared by dinnertime she has to admit that maybe Ginny isn't kidding.
"But I don't understand," she says just before midnight, as the pair of them start to make the regular up-and-down of the seventh-floor corridor. "He doesn't like her." She frowns in frustration. "I thought he didn't like her!"
"So did I," Ginny shrugs. "So did we all. We must have been wrong, you know. Fine line and all that."
The words send an odd little pang through Hermione as she follows Ginny through the newly-materialised door, but she doesn't get a chance to dwell on them since she nearly goes barrelling into Ginny's back when the other girl pulls up short.
"Oh," says Pansy's voice. "You're back."
Hermione ducks around Ginny, her mouth falling open as her eyes rove around the room. The narrow shelving unit in the snack corner has toppled over, spilling packets of chocolate frogs across the floor. A lamp that formerly sat on one of the low tables has been smashed, as has the glass covering one of the framed vintage film posters that had appeared on the wall after the first night of Film Club. More than one of the large, squishy armchairs has been upended, and there's a large scorchmark that looks like it was made by a curse on one of the walls.
It looks, frankly, like the aftermath of an outrageously dramatic duel, and in the middle of it all, Harry is sat in one of the remaining upright armchairs. Pansy is curled across his lap like a cat, and though they've got a thick woollen blanket over them, Pansy's feet are bare where they hang over the arm of the chair. Both of their hair is mussed; Harry's sticking up even more absurdly than normal. When he meets Hermione's eye he blushes, but doesn't move.
"Hi," he says, giving an awkward little wave.
Pansy smiles, feline and goading, and Hermione narrows her eyes.
"You could have cleaned up," is all she says, before a flick of her wand has most of the tumbled furniture righting itself.
"We could," Pansy sniffs, tossing a piece of popcorn into her mouth. When Ginny goes to sit in one of the armchairs, Pansy's smile reasserts itself. "I wouldn't sit there," is all she says, but Harry has the grace to give Hermione a wince of apology when she looks sharply at him.
"Ew." Ginny fishes in her pocket for her wand, and then waves it in a complicated motion. "Scourgify maxima!"
There's a whistling sound, and Hermione has the distinct sensation of something fizzing around her sinus area, before it passes and she blinks at the suddenly sparkling clean room.
"Goodness, Weasel," says a sneering voice from behind her. "All those years living in a hovel have finally proved useful."
All at once Hermione's heart starts going a mile a minute, and she grabs the back of one of the armchairs, because surely - surely Nott wouldn't -
"I said you could bring Greengrass, not this fuckball!" Ginny says acidly. When Hermione turns around it is to see Ginny glaring daggers at Nott, who has apparently just come through the door and is, admittedly, standing with his arm around Daphne's waist.
Daphne at least has the wherewithal to summon a contrite expression as she smiles apprehensively around the room, but it's the blond wizard to Nott's other side who commands Hermione's attention.
"I -" Nott starts to say, but Malfoy cuts him off.
"I was worried that Potter had kidnapped Pansy, but -" Malfoy's lip quirks as his sneer deepens "- I can see that my intervention was quite unnecessary, so I'll just be go-"
He stops talking abruptly as he turns to find that the door has disappeared, and all that's behind him is blank wall.
"New rule of Film Club," Pansy says. Hermione doesn't know her well enough to be sure, but she would say that her tone is verging on gleeful. "No one leaves until we've watched the film."
Ginny looks towards her, face caught between frustration and amusement. "You've changed your tune."
Pansy shrugs, then gives a wriggle, nestling closer into Harry's side. "Potter and I have worked out our differences."
"For now," Harry says, but there's a teasing undercurrent to his voice that almost makes Hermione want to smile. That is, until she catches sight of Malfoy's disgusted expression.
"What a touching display." His nose wrinkles, but to Hermione's surprise he sighs and folds himself into an armchair, crossing one knee over the other and then adjusting his cuffs. "Might I ask what horrifying muggle claptrap we're to be subjected to?"
"It's - um." Hermione's voice sounds like a croak, and she pauses to clear her throat. "Aha, it's called The Great Escape."
"How appropriate," Malfoy huffs, eyeing the space where the door should be, before he lifts a hand to rub at his temples.
The action has some of his hair falling over his face, pale strands as bright as the sun on the snow the previous morning, and Hermione only realises that she's staring at him when Ginny clears her throat. Hermione looks at her, startled, and Ginny waves her hand in an exaggerated gesture. "Whenever you're ready."
"Yes," Hermione says, prising open the plastic case and slotting the cassette into the player. "Yes, right, good."
Behind her, she hears something that sounds suspiciously like Nott snickering.
A/N: So there actually isn't a quote from TGE in this chapter but I wanted to include it because it's one of my favourite films to watch with the fam at Christmas. There is however an allusion to another one of my favourite films hidden away for anyone who feels like playing detective.
Thanks for all your support thus far, it means a lot! Just a note regarding a few suggestions, as a Brit there's quite a few holiday specials that I've never seen, which means unfortunately they won't be cropping up here.