Disclaimer: JKR owns anything that is obviously hers. I own the rest.
Characters: Blaise Zabini, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Pansy Parkinson, Ron Weasley, Theodore Nott
Genres: Drama, Friendship, Hogwarts Years, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Alternate Universe, Profanity, Sexual Themes, Unrelieved Sexual Tension
Overall Rating: R
Summary: Hermione is a stuck-up know-it-all; Draco is a sadistic prat; Theo has a scary way of knowing everything; Harry is too busy with his girlfriend and his hero status to pay much attention; Ginny really isn't very interested in anyone beyond Harry but unfortunately does pay attention; Pansy wants what's hers; Ron doesn't know how to get what's his; and Blaise definitely has both his hands in the cookie jar. Or maybe that's not how it is at all...
Extra Note: It is set in the 7th year at Hogwarts with some minor changes having been made to the end of their 6th year as well. It's amazing how differently everything can turn out if just a few things change...
Length: This chapter: 2516 words.
Having finally calmed down sometime after dinner, Hermione decided against abdicating her position. Of course, Padma would do well. She had the easy Houses. The Slytherins looked down on Hermione for being Muggleborn and being Gryffindor, and the Gryffindors… Well, maybe she had been lecturing some just a little, and the downside to most Gryffindors was excessive pride. She would just have to win the Slytherins over and win the Gryffindors back.
‘Oh, yes, why didn’t I think of that before?’ she thought sarcastically. ‘Things will be so easy now!’
She was sitting at the library, studying. She actually didn’t have to study at the library. She didn’t really need to do any form of extensive research, and she had both the shared office and her private room in the Gryffindor tower, where she might study if she wished. She just liked sitting in the library. She liked the books and the quiet. She liked that there were other people about without anybody expecting her to be sociable. Well, actually there wasn’t anyone else about just now as the library was closed. She just… really liked it here. Moreover, this was one of the few advantages of being a Head Girl that she truly enjoyed – the freedom to come and go wherever she pleased, whenever she pleased.
She stared at the book in front of her for a few minutes without actually seeing anything but her own thoughts. When she realized that she wasn’t actually getting any studying done, she groaned and let her head fall down, resting her forehead on the pages. If she kept this up, she would soon be a bad Head Girl and fail her classes.
“I knew there must be a special trick to how you absorbed all that knowledge,” someone mumbled.
Hermione’s head shot up and her eyes narrowed. Malfoy. What a way to make a perfect day even better!
“What do you want?” she asked.
His eyebrows went up. “My, Granger, now I know why you’re so popular. These charms of yours really are effective.”
She did not need this, not now. “Go bother someone else,” she said, returning her gaze to her book.
“I’d love to, I’d really love to,” he said, resting his hip on the table. “But Theo asked me to come find you. Sandra had to go to the Hospital wing. Nothing serious, but she was supposed to patrol the halls tonight. He asks if you can find a girl to replace her with such short notice.”
“Oh.” Hermione was embarrassed. He hadn’t just sought her out to bother her. He was actually there as Nott’s proxy, asking her to do something that was in her job description. “I’ll take her place.” She noticed he winced slightly. “Who am I going with?”
“Me,” he all but groaned. He didn’t say anything more, but from the way his jaw was set, Hermione almost admired his restraint in not begging her to find another replacement. Nott must have said something really good to make him behave this well.
“You might have mentioned that sooner,” Hermione said, making no effort of her own to hide how put out she was.
“I assumed you knew the schedules by heart by now,” he forced out. He couldn’t quite hide his glower and Hermione was almost amused.
“Obviously, I did not,” she primly replied.
“Obviously. Look, I understand if, ah…” His eyes darted to her books. “If you forgot you had some more studying to do. I’m sure Padma—”
Hermione abruptly stood, surprising him into silence. “I’ll be ready as soon as I’ve returned my bag to my room.”
Walking the halls with Malfoy was decidedly unpleasant.
It wasn’t that he was being rude or derisive, not at all. He seemed to have decided that the best way to get along was to just stay quiet, and she wholeheartedly agreed. She didn’t want to have to try and make small talk with him. So, the silence stretched. And then stretched some more. Hermione had done other rounds where she hadn’t been able to find anything to talk to people about, but the silence hadn’t quite been this pregnant before.
She also didn’t like having to walk around with Malfoy alone at night. It just seemed wrong. Dangerous. She made sure that she could easily draw her wand… just in case.
It had always been the duty of the prefects and head students to make sure that the rules were upheld. This included making sure that the students weren’t roaming the halls but were safe with their Houses after curfew. Having organized rounds, however, was something new that Dumbledore had suggested at the beginning of this year. It was a measure taken mainly to make everyone feel safer. The professors also monitored the school, but, aside from Dumbledore, there were only thirteen professors (since Binns hardly counted) and having sixteen prefects, two heads, and two deputies visibly help with the vigilance did wonders for the school morale.
The only problem that Hermione saw right now was… Malfoy had been the undesirable element last time. He had let Death Eaters into the school and now he was one of the people making rounds to make sure that nothing was amiss? She didn’t trust him. In fact, she was rather glad that she was the one doing these rounds with him tonight, as she was the only one who was alert to the danger he represented. Yes, it was unpleasant to do, but at least she knew what she might expect and she could handle herself.
“I know what you’re thinking, Granger,” he finally growled as they were turning a corner, half an hour later.
“Do you, now?” she asked.
“Do you honestly think I’d do the same thing twice?”
Hermione considered for a few seconds. “No… Not the same thing. But there are different ways of achieving the same end.”
He touched his forehead and pulled a face as if his head hurt. Good. She hoped it did. “Did it even occur to you that I might not be very popular with You-Know-Who for failing his mission?” The words were sounding forced, strained.
“Of course it did,” she replied. “All the more reason for you to redeem yourself in his eyes.” They were descending a set of stairs now. Hermione longed for them to be done, but, alas, they were supposed to do this for at least a couple of hours, so walking faster wouldn’t help any.
“So that’s why you still wanted to come,” he said, his voice openly resentful now. “Because you see me as the threat.”
She snorted. “Don’t flatter yourself. I see you as a threat, not the threat.”
His lips were moving, but she didn’t hear anything. She cocked her head as he ignored her and seemed to be trying to keep his temper in check. Either that or he was calling her all the names that Nott had probably browbeaten him into not calling her openly. Possibly, he was doing both.
“Talking to yourself now, Malfoy?” she mocked. “It’s not a good sign, you know. You’re one step away from St. Mungo’s.”
“Fuck this,” he said. “I’m leaving.” He turned and began doing just that.
Hermione gaped. “You can’t just leave, we aren’t done yet!”
He turned to face her, walking backwards, just long enough to say, “Oh, we’re done!” before turning again, and then he was gone.
“So you see why he has to go!” Hermione concluded the tale, turning to Nott with blazing eyes. Having slept on the matter hadn’t cooled her anger one bit. She was furious that Malfoy had just left her in the middle of rounds. Clearly, he wasn’t capable of being professional about this. What if something really had decided to attack while she was doing the rounds alone?
Nott was actually frowning. This was the most emotion she had ever seen from him. Good! Perhaps he was beginning to see his lapse of judgment.
“No,” he surprised her by saying. “I don’t see.”
They were in their office with Hermione frantically pacing in front of Nott, who was sitting on the couch, looking slightly weary.
“What do you mean? I just told you that—“
“I’ve heard his side of this, too. In fact, I think anyone in Slytherin would have been hard pressed not to hear his side.”
Hermione’s mouth tightened in a frown. “You believe him over me!?” Of course he did. They were Slytherin. And friends. And boys.
“No,” he surprised her again by saying. “I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle.”
Hermione frantically went over the incident in her mind. Ok, maybe she had left out a few minor details, but she was still the one in the right. “It doesn’t change the fact that he—“
“Tell me, Granger,” he interrupted. “Do you want him to be like his father or would you prefer him to be someone less… homicidal?”
Hermione blinked. “Of course I don’t want him to be like Lucius Malfoy,” she scoffed. “He’s nothing but bad news. But I think he’s well on the way there and nothing you can say can convince me otherwise.”
“I see,” Nott said. “Well, I suppose that’s it, then. You and your friends are certainly doing nothing to help matters, so I suspect you might end up being right. Congratulations.”
“So now it’s MY fault how he turns out?” Hermione shrieked, amazed with the injustice of it all.
“He wants this position. He wants to prove himself. He wants it enough that he went to find you when I asked him to and even accepted that you signed yourself up to do rounds with him. This may come as a shock to you, Granger, but he doesn’t like you very much. In spite of this, he actually tried to play nice and you weren’t even somewhat decent, were you?”
Hermione flushed. Ok, maybe she hadn’t been very pleasant. “He wasn’t nice,” she muttered.
“I’ve already told you to give him a break. I have to say I’m disappointed in you. I thought you had a better sense of fair play than this.”
Was she being scolded by a Slytherin about her lacking sense of fair play? Next thing she knew it would be raining toads and the world would turn on its axis.
“Why did you even go with him? You had every opportunity to choose someone else. Did you really think he’d kill them?”
He mentioned Padma and I was petty enough to not want her to get the chance to do something else better than I. Oh, crap. She really was bad at this job.
“Of course I didn’t,” she said. Then she sighed and sank down in a chair, all the fight gone from her. “I’m sorry that I didn’t do better, ok?”
“It’s not me you should be apologizing to,” Nott said.
Hermione’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open. “You can’t mean that – he walked out on me in the middle of our rounds!”
Nott winced slightly. “You should be glad that he did. I had to listen to him vent for an hour. If he had stayed, it would not have been pretty.”
“Well,” Hermione said, crossing her arms. “I won’t.”
“Fine,” Nott said, getting up from the couch. “I’ll report this to Dumbledore, then, shall I?”
“You’re blackmailing me?”
At this Nott smirked. “I am still in Slytherin, you know.”
Transfiguration. Another popular class. They were five from Gryffindor, six from Ravenclaw, four from Slytherin, and three from Hufflepuff, putting them at the grand total of eighteen students. Hermione preferred the smaller classes to this. It was easier to hear things and there wasn’t quite so much… scoffing, whenever she spoke. Fortunately, Professor McGonagall kept a tight ship. That was, she kept a tight ship when she was present. Right now, she wasn’t, so people were just sitting around, talking.
Harry and Ron were talking about Quidditch. The match against Slytherin was “only” four weeks away and that seemed to occupy a lot of their time these days. Hermione couldn’t care less and she felt left out. Her eyes veered to Parvati and Lavender, but they were deep in their own conversation, whispering and giggling. She then let her eyes wander to Ravenclaw. Padma was holding court, it seemed. Terry Boot, Michael Corner and Stephen Cornfoot were all avidly listening to something she had to say, while Anthony Goldstein and Mandy Brocklehurst were off to a side, looking as if they were discussing today’s homework. At the Hufflepuff grouping, Susan Boots and Justin Finch-Fletchley were softly talking – was Susan blushing? – while the quiet Wayne Hopkins was doodling. Hermione then let her eyes slide over to the Slytherins and cocked an eyebrow. Things seemed a little bit tense over there. Malfoy was the only boy and he was leaning back, his arms crossed over his chest, while he was warily eyeing the girls he was sitting with. Pansy Parkinson was scowling at him, Tracey Davis was staring hard at the table, and Millicent Bulstrode… looked bored. It was almost interesting. Almost, not quite.
Returning her attention to her friends, Hermione was about to demand a change of subject, when Professor McGonagall entered, clapping her hands for attention. “All right, everyone,” she announced. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting – Mr. Finch-Fletchley, stop that at once and Miss Patil, no, I mean Miss Padma Patil, do stop talking while I’m trying to teach you – today we will be transfiguring other human beings.” There was some mumbling and more than one person looked a little bit queasy as McGonagall told them exactly what – and, more importantly, what not – they should be doing, before instructing them to find a partner.
“I get Hermione!” Ron immediately said. As Harry and Hermione both looked startled, he grinned sheepishly. “Self-preservation, mate,” he said to Harry, whose mouth fell open. Hermione couldn’t blame him. Out of the two, Harry would have been taking the greater risk. “Please pair up with me, Hermione,” Ron persevered.
He looked so pleading that Hermione could hardly say no, in spite of all the urges she had to preserve her own self. She looked longingly in the direction of Wayne Hopkins, whom she would normally have had to pair with.
“Hermione?” Ron repeated, trying to get her attention.
“Oh, all right, Ron,” she said with a sigh. “But you’d better not kill me or I’m coming back to haunt you!”
“Nice to know that I’m loved,” Harry grumbled and trudged over to Wayne, while Ron grinned with relief.
Hermione snuck another peak at the Slytherins to see how the tense quartet was sorting this one out. Draco had paired with Millicent, who looked more than a little startled, and Pansy was looking down her nose at Tracey. Intriguing.
“So, do you want to go first or should I?” Ron asked.
Hermione almost jumped and she felt her eye twitch nervously at the thought of Ron transfiguring her. “Err… I think I’d better go first,” she said. “And Ron… Watch!”