Driven to Distraction.

by Nancy Lorenz.

There was very little that could get in between Hermione Granger and an intensive study session, very little at all, particularly at this time of year when it was all so very important, as the NEWTs were hellishly close. She had all the texts she needed, she had her favourite quill that made writing a joy as it flowed so smoothly, and a brand new scroll that smelt absolutely wonderful. (Hermione had a bit of a thing for fresh stationary, Muggle or Wizard derived). She had walked into the study hall with her mind sharp and ready to devour knowledge and thoroughly conquer it like she always had. She had made a great start too, hitting a wonderful high with the essay in front of her. Yes, she was going swimmingly.

At least until Harry Potter wandered in and sat down in front of her.

Not that he was immediately distracting. She glanced up and smiled as he approached the table, and he echoed the sentiment in one of his own little smiles that were humble but infectious at the same time. It gave her the same warm glow it always did, Harry being the wonderful friend he was, and then she looked down to her work and tried to plunge her mind back into the depths of deep thought. She got back into the groove of her essay too, not hearing Harry dump his books on the table, or flick open pages, unroll his scrolls or even place his ink bottle on the table. No, the thing that broke her train of thought was a sigh. She glanced up.

He was gazing at the book in front of him, a little frown on his face that spoke volumes of how he'd prefer to be outside lazing in the sun at this point in time. His browny-black hair was a complete mess as always, tumbling across his brow and resting against his eyebrows. Of course this all served to point right at his very distinctly green eyes, that were a little glazed in boredom. Harry had shot through puberty like a rocket and his face had very little of the baby-fat that he'd started out with, yet despite the wide shoulders, square jaw and angular lips, he looked twelve all over again in his fresh misery. She wasn't quite sure how he did it.

Shaking herself, she pointed her eyes back at her book. Yes, she was studying now, studying very hard. In the corner of her vision was Harry's hand resting on the table. It was long fingered, elegant, and yet incredibly strong looking at the same time. She didn't even realise that her mind had been examining it until she noticed that she'd been sitting there, staring at the edge of her book for ten minutes without even reading the text. She closed her eyes, shaking herself yet again, and made a firm attempt to plaster her eyes to the book in front of her. The next ten minutes were spent reading the same sentence over and over again, her mind berating her for even having troubles concentrating in the first place. What is wrong with you girl? it growled, getting distracted by Harry of all people! Get to work!

For some ridiculous reason, it was easier said that done. She had suddenly become ultra sensitive to Harry. She frowned, finding herself wishing that Harry had never sat down in front of her. Well, it was silly, and Hermione knew she could throw this off and get back to work. She successfully continued her essay and made a killer point about the effect of the Inquisition on Muggle/Wizard association policy just before she caught a whiff of a most delightful smell. She sniffed deeply, looking about herself and frowning.

With a deep blush she realised it was the soap that Harry used. She was sure it was whatever they put in the school bathrooms, nothing more special than that, but for some reason it smelt very good on him. She frowned at him.

Harry stopped for a moment, eyes still directed downward but opening wide as he seemed to sense scrutiny. He looked up at Hermione then, bewilderment on his face.


Her brow was knitted together in thought. "You just had a shower didn't you?"

His eyes were still wide. "Uhm. I had Quidditch practice."

Hermione still stared at him. "Right."

Harry practically squirmed, and Hermione looked back down to her book again, determined to finally get back to work without further interruption. How could he do that to soap? How dare he act so innocent? She was sitting here, minding her own business, studying hard and walking all over this essay, and then Harry waltzed in all Head-Boy like and moved and smelled nice and left his hand in her line of sight and looked boyish with his hair all messy. The nerve.

She managed to get another sentence or two out, but they weren't the best. It was obvious that her mind was elsewhere. Her mind was going over the word 'which' in the text whilst ears were listening to Harry breath. God. His breathing was distracting her. She gripped her quill so tightly, her knuckles were going white. She was going insane. Someone must have dropped a potion in her pumpkin juice this morning, she was sure of it. Either way, she couldn't concentrate. She knew she wouldn't be able to keep her mind on things until she got this out of her system, as ignoring it just wasn't working. She slammed shut her book and leant back in her chair, blowing out a sigh, her bottom lip sticking out in defeat. She sat there, staring dead at Harry for a good full minute, taking in every little detail, before he even noticed she'd stopped studying. This was good; it gave her the opportunity to make a few keen observations.

Harry's chin had the slightest cleft in it. When he studied hard, a little dip formed between his brows as he concentrated. On his eyebrows - they were thick but actually rather sculpted. His lips were thin in the middle but chiselled and thicker at the points and he pressed them together when he was reading. He had ludicrously long eyelashes, and a certain blush to his cheeks that other boys just didn't have. It gave the impression that he didn't quite know how to handle the world around him, even though this was scarcely true. She was so intensely concentrated on him that she didn't notice him look up and blush. It probably explained the blush in his cheeks and the look of utter astonishment.


She blinked. "Hello? Yes?" She fought not to blush herself.

"What are you doing?"

She ticked a brow. "I can't concentrate."

One of Harry's descended and he looked a touch worried. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she said, and continued to fib. "I've just been studying far too hard these past few weeks. I need a break before my head explodes."

Harry gulped and shrugged. "Good idea. One question."


"Why did that culminate into you staring at me like you've never seen me before?"

She hadn't realised that her expression had taken such a shape. She did blush now, despite her not wanting to. "I have no idea." She looked about herself, sighing defeatedly. "Well there's only one thing for it."


"You're coming with me for a walk outside and a nice rest under a pretty tree."

Harry blinked at her. "Hermione. our NEWTs are in a month. We really should-"

"I promise I'll help you catch up," she said, "We can study for hours after we get back." She visibly shuddered. "I just can't sit inside for a moment longer."

Harry tilted his brows in apology. "I really can't, Hermione. I've put off a lot of studying because of Quidditch practice. I just can't afford to goof off today."

Hermione's bottom eyelids crept up and she tilted her head, sighing deeply. "Fine." She slapped open her book and glared at it. The concept of her going for a walk on her own didn't even occur to her, mainly because being on her own wouldn't fix things. She couldn't figure out why on earth she was so hurt by this. It was really quite silly.

Harry didn't miss her upset for a second. He squirmed a moment, not that Hermione saw this.

"Hermione. are you all right?"

Her brown eyes flicked up to his. "Of course I am."

"You just look." He curled his lips in worry and then gulped. "You look upset."

"Upset? Me?" She gave a smile that had a touch of mania in it. "Why on earth would I be upset?"

"I don't know," Harry said, none of the concern waning in his eyes. "I was hoping you could tell me that."

"I'm fine, I told you," she said, eyes pointed at her book but obviously not actually reading any of it, particularly as she was flicking the pages by fiercely. "I wanted to spend some time with you, but you can't, and I understand."

Harry's brows dipped down. "But. we're spending time together now."

She looked up at him. "We're studying. When we get into full study mode, Seamus could fudge a spell right under our noses and we wouldn't notice." She sniffed indignantly and looked down to her books. "Besides, you keep distracting me."

This she hadn't intended on letting him know about. It was a complete and utter slip up, and she immediately blushed. Harry looked rather confused.

"How?" He narrowed his eyes, brow scrunched as his brain obviously worked over. "I'm just sitting here."

"Exactly!" she cried. She'd snapped. She knew it, and she couldn't help it. There was simply no avoiding it, and she knew that if she didn't fix this she'd be a raving mental case and she'd fail her NEWTs too. "I was sitting here, minding my own business, and you sit down next to me and you start breathing and sighing and just being there all - Harry-like! My brain stopped working!" She glared at him angrily. "It shouldn't *do* that!"

Harry dared to look amused. "Really?"

She gulped, the look on his face making her burn up. She looked back down to the books, shaking hands taking a hold of her texts and fingering the edges of the books. "Well. yes. anyway."

He looked down, green eyes twinkling as his brain ticked over, the smile that was slowly forming on his face tentative and a little excited. He slowly looked back up at her, swallowing and gripping the book in front of him. "I think I understand that look you gave me now."

"I didn't give you a look," Hermione muttered into her book, embarrassment all over her. "There was no look."

Harry only smiled at that, and without hesitation, reached over and took her hand. "Come on."

Hermione glanced up, shock in her eyes. "What? What are you doing?"

Harry gave her an affectionate little smile. "Taking you for that walk."

"Oh.okay." Hermione stood with him, ducking her head shyly, but slowly and surely melting inside. The thought began to occur to her that this was a terrible cure for distraction from studying. She was quite sure that it was going to make it all terribly worse, but at that moment in time she couldn't care less.