Universe: Harry Potter, upper school years
Hermione was sitting with Harry in the Great Hall when a rather scrawny underclassman approached them.
"Um, here, um, this is for you," the young wizard said. He appeared nervous, possibly because he was maybe a Third Year talking for the first time to Hogwarts's most well-known student.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"It's a note. From my sister. Um, see you around." And the young man was gone.
"You'd better let me take a look before you open it, Harry," Hermione suggested. "I'm better with detection charms, and you can't be too careful."
No sooner had she cast the first charm when the note burst into flame. Luckily, the Hogwarts tables had taken much worse than a burning piece of parchment, so this new scorch mark was lost amongst the older damage.
"Well! I guess we have our answer." To be honest, she wasn't quite certain she'd done that spell quite right. However, considering the number of people who were trying to get Harry, the most likely explanation was that the note had been trapped somehow.
"Thanks, Hermione. I don't know what I'd do without you."
Hermione had just spent the afternoon goofing off with Harry. It had been a spontaneous thing. Lavender had made a remark about Hermione not picking her nose unless it had been scheduled two weeks in advance. Hermione had sniffed – as if she picked her nose at all! – but the crack had cut close enough that she just had to do something unscheduled right now.
She'd dragged Harry away from heading off to the unused classroom that a number of students used for just hanging out. She didn't feel guilty about changing his plans on no notice. He hadn't ever gone to that room on any of the previous weekends and was going this time only because Seamus and Dean had specifically invited him, so it wasn't like he was about to miss a regular part of his social life.
Besides, she sniffed, most of the students went there only for hooking up and making out. Harry didn't have a girlfriend and would no doubt be embarrassed at watching other students leave in pairs or even make out in front of others. He really was quite naive, for a young man in his middle teens. Probably Hermione, his best friend now that Ron was spending all of his time chatting up girls, should help him overcome that.
"Excuse us, you're Hermione Granger, right?"
Hermione turned to the pair of young girls. Hufflepuffs, probably around second year. "Yes? Can I help you?"
"Yes, we were hoping you could advise us on courses for next year. They said you're a Muggleborn, so you'd know best if Muggle Studies is worth taking."
"Could we maybe go to the library so we can talk about it?"
"No, there's no need to go that far. If you're looking to learn about muggles, don't bother with the Muggle Studies class. It's nothing but a waste of time. If you need the OWL in order to get a job with the ministry, then take it but talk to Muggleborn students to learn the real information."
"But… can't we talk some more about it?" the first girl asked rather urgently as Hermione resumed walking toward where Harry was no doubt goofing around rather than working.
"No, I've told you the most important bit and I have something else to be doing. You can talk to any other Muggleborn, I'm sure."
Hermione was again sitting with Harry, this time in the library. There was nothing unusual about that. Left to himself, he'd dawdle and procrastinate on his homework, then rush it and do a terrible job.
Honestly! Hermione had to put so much effort into keeping Harry on track. He'd fail for sure if she didn't keep him from frittering away his time on frivolous activities.
"Excuse me." A young voice interrupted their essay writing.
"Yes?" Hermione responded. "Did you need Harry or me?"
"Uh, Harry. Uh, Mr Potter."
Hermione stared at the young wizard while he and Harry exchanged words. The boy looked familiar.
"So, um, could you come with me and talk to her? She's waiting in one of the classrooms just down the hall. It's not far."
"Wait a moment, Harry," Hermione requested as he was about to stand up and walk off. Addressing the younger student, she demanded, "Aren't you the one who gave Harry a trapped note a week ago? I didn't report you to the professors, but that doesn't mean I'm going to trust you not to trick him again."
"What? No, I never—"
"Just be off with you, or I'll bring a professor in."
As the stranger scurried off, plot obviously defeated, Harry said, "Thanks again, Hermione. I'd get in trouble without you for sure."
"All right, Granger, what's it going to take?"
Hermione blinked as she looked up at her two classmates standing over her in the library. "Excuse me?"
"You've been keeping every other girl away from Harry Potter. Maybe you're not interested in dating him—"
"—but did it ever occur to you that maybe someone else was interested in him?"
"Right! So what do we have to do to get you to let us talk to him?"
"Wait, you're interested in Harry? Interested-interested? Why? Never mind; that's none of my business. Why don't you talk to him and see if he's interested? And what do you mean, I've been keeping you away from him?"
"Don't play innocent, Granger. Once or twice might have been coincidence, but I've been trying to get a date all year! And you've blocked me every time."
"And me, too. There's a saying I read somewhere: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action. Are you setting yourself up as our enemy?"
"Not just us. A couple other girls tried, too, after we started complaining about you. You blocked them all."
"We tried talking to Harry. We tried sending notes to Harry. We sent my brother to ask Harry to meet me. We tried distracting you so someone could talk to Harry. We even tried ambushing you! And you smashed right through everything and pretended you never noticed anything!"
Hermione was flabbergasted they would accuse her of such a thing. "No! I haven't! I haven't done anything. I never even noticed anyone trying to ask Harry out!"
"Yah, right. So, like we said to start with, what's it going to take, Granger? You've set yourself up as, as his chatelaine—"
"His appointments secretary!"
"—and we have to go through you to talk to him. So what do you want?"
Hermione leaned back and gazed at the others through half-lowered eyelids for a few moments as she considered what to tell them. "It's none of my business whom Harry dates, other than my concern about him as his friend. It's not my place to vet prospective girlfriends. That said, anyone making him unhappy will have to deal with me. And, because Harry is a student first and foremost, of course he must place his studies first, and dating and other entertainment second."
The other two girls didn't seem happy with that answer, but tough. She'd set out her position clearly and concisely. Hermione took her responsibilities as Harry's friend very seriously.