III. I MUST NOT DISRESPECT

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CHAPTER THREE:

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CHAPTER THREE:

I MUST NOT DISRESPECT   

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      "Have you gone absolutely mad? Is that it?"

      Malfoy was staring at her in question as they sat in the Slytherin common room later that night. Nova had long since finished her Potions essay and was nibbling on a sugar quill she had stolen from Bulstrode's trunk. Theo was at the library with Daphne Greengrass and Zabini, trying to finish up his work. It felt odd to be away from him, like they were connected to sides of an elastic and were being pulled too tightly apart.

      Nova ignored Malfoy in favor of another bite of the sugar quill. It was just the two of them in the common room, Crabbe and Goyle having been sent away the second Malfoy demanded it. For once, Pansy wasn't around. She was still doing prefect rounds.

      "Nova," Malfoy scolded when she didn't answer, "you can't badmouth a professor like that. Especially in the defense of Potter." His upper lip curled in a sneer when he mentioned the boy's name.

      "I didn't do it in defense of Potter," Nova replied in a bored voice. "I did it because Umbridge is an idiot if she thinks Voldemort isn't back."

      Malfoy and Nova had never really discussed Voldemort. Whenever he was brought up, Malfoy usually tried his best to change the subject. She knew Lucius was a Death Eater (his multiple meetings with her father had proven it), but didn't know where Malfoy would lie should a war break out.

      "Of course he's back," Malfoy agreed, his voice softer now, "but you've got to be careful, Nova. She's reporting back to the Ministry. Remember that."

      Nova hated it when people were right. And Malfoy was the most correct he'd ever been.

      "Nova..."

      She knew that tone. It was the tone that suggested he was going to ask where they had gone wrong. Which she didn't have a clear answer for. He'd asked it several times since they'd broken up, but she'd always been able to get away before answering was necessary.

      "Please don't," she said, and her tone was the quietest and most gentle it had ever been.

      "I just want to know what I did wrong," he replied, setting down his quill so he could look her in the eye. She wanted nothing more than to avoid his gaze, but she wasn't a coward. "Because I know for a fact that I still have feelings for you, but something changed for you."

      "Nothing changed," she whispered. But that was a lie. She had changed. She had realized that she couldn't love him and that she couldn't convince herself that she did. "It was me, Malfoy. Not you. I'm just incapable of feeling that way."

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