She pored through the books and loose papers impatiently, scowling when a strand of her unruly hair repeatedly slipped from its place behind her ear and into her face. Normally research and looking through old texts was a heavenly, almost cathartic experience for her but that damned curl kept irritating the sensitive skin of her face. How she wished she had brought a hair-tie or a clip. Or really, how she wished she could simply flick her wand and rearrange her hair magically. Alas, she was in a Muggle library and it was American, to boot. She would be utterly destroying the International Statute of Secrecy if she succumbed to her impulse to blast the curl off her scalp. Sighing after tucking the strand behind her ear once more, she picked up another thick and dusty tome from the pile on her table.
After flipping through the last few decades' almanacs and herbalist calendars moments later, Hermione Granger once again felt the now repulsively familiar itch of hair on her face. Her fingers twitched towards her pocket before a gentle hand stilled her arm and brushed against the side of her face.
When the hand left her face, she turned around with an annoyed look, ready to reprimand whoever had just intruded her personal space. As a powerful duelist and a veteran, her instincts were hard to suppress and whoever had just touched her was remarkably fortunate to catch her off-guard; he would have ended up with bat-bogeys or worse, International law be damned.
"Um," a boy sheepishly smiled. "I couldn't help but notice that you've been having problems with your hair. I had an extra bobby-pin so…"
He lifted a placating hand helplessly when he noticed her rather frightening face.
"I didn't mean to disturb you," he continued when he saw that his explanation calmed her a bit. "But I saw that you have Encyclopedia of the Occult and was wondering if I could borrow it?"
Softening but still a bit cross, Hermione nodded. "I've got several questions, if you don't mind. One, why do you carry hair pins?" She eyed his brown hair, which was still short compared to other men's hairstyles she'd encountered such as Lucius Malfoy's long, flowing locks. "And two, why do you need the Encyclopedia?"
"You never know when you'll need bobby-pins," he answered evasively, though arguably teasingly as well. "And I'm using that book as a source for one of my school projects. I think I cited something wrong earlier and I just want to double-check that part."
She could tell it was a lie even when it smoothly left his lips. After working as an information-gatherer for the Order, lies became detectable enough for her to sense them as they were spoken. Sometimes, she could even see the wheels turning in the liar's mind before a proper fabrication was even created. Although she was certain that this boy, around her age, was surely an ordinary Muggle and completely innocent, she couldn't help but feel something in her subconscious tingle. His hazel eyes were wide and earnest as he smiled boyishly at her, his height suddenly not as intimidating as it had been.
Deciding to let it pass, Hermione handed the thick book over. "Have fun with it."
He accepted it and to her surprise, sat across from her at the table. He took his laptop out and a notepad, lining up a few pens in preparation to write. A ray of sun trickled through his chestnut brown hair lazily and his brows furrowed in concentration as he began flipping through the Encyclopedia.
Feeling almost unsettled by his proximity in ways she wasn't certain of, Hermione followed her instincts and began packing her things into her school satchel before spinning on her heels and departing without a second glance at the boy. Her wand was still in its arm-holster as she speed-walked to the library's exit, but she was prepared to draw it at any moment. Though she was almost completely sure that he was an ordinary, if not overly zealous, Muggle student, the way he held himself and the way he had so stealthily walked up to her was not ordinary at all. But she had bigger fish to fry and simply didn't have the time to investigate this somewhat good-looking boy at all, even if he carried himself like a soldier.
He watched as she marched away, curls bouncing merrily as she strode to the door. Normally, he'd be a bit abashed at her obvious rudeness towards him, but he couldn't say he didn't appreciate the view from behind.
It was usually her adorably scrunched up game-face or her half-smiles that he saw for the past few days at the library. He'd first spied her striding purposefully through the aisles with an armful of newspapers and folders just as he was taking a break from his own research on soul-sucking spirits. It was fairly amusing how such a small girl could hold up that many books; he doubted Dean could even handle that much paper. He'd then observed her studying and reading freakishly fast through what seemed to be half the library's archives at the table hidden behind layers and layers of shelves. He couldn't help but appreciate her industriousness and apparent love for research.
Sam Winchester never thought of himself as particularly shy or timid – although Dean sometimes just called him a "pussyfooting bitch" or something along those lines – but seeing this girl made him feel a bit cautious, maybe even a bit more self-conscious. She seemed to be a normal girl, but he couldn't quite place her as ordinary. After Jess, most girls seemed all alike to him, especially the ones Dean involved himself with, but this girl was unusual in many ways, including the fact that he had even noticed and taken an interest in her despite his "emo-kid moments" as of late.
Sighing, he flipped open the book she'd handed to him and was surprised to see a red and gold silk bookmark wedged between the pages. Sweeping through the pages curiously, he found where it was located and was stunned when he realized it was pressed at the entry he needed for his current case.
"A Dementor," he read silently, "is a non-being and Dark creature, considered one of the foulest to inhabit the world. Dementors feed off human happiness, and thus cause depression and despair to anyone near them. They can also consume a person's soul, leaving their victims in a permanent vegetative state, and thus are often referred to as 'soul-sucking fiends' and are known to leave a person as an 'empty-shell' afterwards."
He studied the illustration next to the entry, noticing the frosty painted window and the dead flowers trailing up to the creature with floating black robes.
"Damn, I think that's it…" It was always the deadliest for the Winchesters, apparently. He picked up his cellphone to call Dean. "Yeah, it's a Dementor… Soul-sucking, yep… Yeah, I'll get you your freaking pie."
He got up from his seat and packed his things before his eyes fell on the silk bookmark again. His brows furrowed when he realized that it couldn't just be a coincidence that she had marked this particular section of the thick tome just when there was a Dementor problem in the neighborhood. Things were never that accidental or clean-cut in his world. He hesitated a bit before taking the bookmark from the encyclopedia and slipping it into his jacket pocket carefully. Maybe she was a hunter, too? It was quite likely, as it explained her researching for days and the fact that she even picked up this particular text.
His phone beeped again and he saw his brother's name flashing on the screen.
"What?" he asked rather brusquely. "Yeah, I'm getting your pie. Have I ever forgotten your pie?"
Sam Winchester left the library, bantering with his older brother impatiently, while one of his hands stayed in his pocket fingering the silk bookmark thoughtfully. Maybe, just maybe, he'd be able to see this girl again before he left this town.