This came out of a random musing of how Hermione loves books and studying. I wondered how far she might take that love of learning if something got in her way. After seeing her nearly torture herself manipulating time just to take all of the electives, I ran with the idea that she likely had no limits on how far she would go.
This is obviously AU and will be a series of connected oneshots in the same setting.
Harry was making his way towards the Great Hall for breakfast when he overheard a group of second year Hufflepuffs.
"I heard he'll be in the hospital wing for two weeks!"
Having not heard anything yet through the rumour mill, Harry slowed his pace to let him hear more of the conversation.
"Yeah, supposedly a prefect found him sometime last night after he missed curfew."
"I heard the prefect threw up after seeing his arms bent in twelve places!"
Harry stopped his attempts to appear inconspicuous. He approached the group, his curiosity getting the better of him. "Who are you talking about?"
One of the girls in the group blushed furiously, emitted a sound that Harry swore resembled the first time he saw Ginny at the Burrow. The rest of the group hushed up, looking at each other awkwardly.
Harry smiled at them. "I promise I won't bite. I just overheard you and was curious who you were talking about since I hadn't heard anything about a student being under Poppy's care."
A brown haired boy mustered his courage. "We overheard that Draco Malfoy was going to be in the hospital wing for the next two weeks."
The blushing girl continued the explanation. "Supposedly, one of the Slytherin prefects found him outside their entrance, banging his head against it since he was silenced and couldn't speak the password. Apparently, his arms were broken so badly he couldn't knock and the students inside ignored him, probably because they couldn't hear him."
Harry just stared at the group as they shuffled awkwardly. After several long moments of owlishly blinking, Harry muttered a small, "Thank you, gotta go," before rushing toward the Great Hall.
As he entered, his eyes immediately zeroed in on Hermione. Hurrying over, Harry sat down next to his friend. She continued to eat her breakfast as he attempted to stare her down.
Finally, he broke the silence.
"Is there anything you want to tell me, Hermione?"
Acting as if he were asking about the weather, she replied, "Nothing that I can think of."
Harry leaned in so as to not be overheard. "What's this I hear about Malfoy being in the Hospital Wing for two weeks?"
Hermione swallowed her mouthful of porridge. "Two weeks? Hmm, I was aiming for three."
Harry flicked her forehead.
"Ow!" Hermione rubbed the red spot his actions had left. "What was that for?"
"What did Malfoy do this time?" Harry asked, his voice brooking no nonsense.
A suddenly bashful Hermione looked down and began twiddling her fingers nervously. "He was late returning that book I needed for my potions essay."
Harry sighed. "Hermione, that essay isn't due for another month. You've already finished and revised it five times. What made you think you needed another source for it?"
Her bashful disposition continued. "I was worried I hadn't adequately explained the interaction between the stewed, minced slugs with the pickled, diced toad eye. And Malfoy was 20 minutes late turning in the only book that addresses that particular combination."
Rubbing his face in his hands, Harry let loose a long suffering sigh.
"I thought we talked about this, Hermione. You were supposed to wait until a book was a full day late before going after someone."
Hermione turned a baleful glare on Harry. "I was perfectly justified in my actions. He was late returning the book. How late doesn't matter."
Harry slumped. "Damn it all, Hermione-"
Harry continued as if she had not interrupted. "I know you're following the letter of the agreement but you're ignoring the spirit of it."
A proud smirk graced her face. "You can't fault me for following the letter. If you meant something else, the language should have reflected that."
Shaking his head, Harry reached out and took her hand in his. "You know better than that. Now, you're going to make me enforce the Unjustified Clause."
"What? No! You can't!"
Harry sadly nodded. "If you had waited a full day, I could excuse it. Twenty minutes? That's just too short a period for me to just waive off."
Hermione took her turn slumping. "Please?" she begged.
"I can't just let this go." Harry straightened up, a look of grim determination on his face. "As per our effective agreement, you have exceeded your limit for the week. You're now restricted from anything other than brief, chaste kisses at the beginning and ending of every day, holding hands, and brief hugs in accordance with Section 7, Subsection A covering the punishment for exceeding your limit of acts of retribution in a given week."
Tears began to form in the corner of Hermione's eyes. "Isn't there anything I can do?"
Harry rose, no longer hungry for breakfast. "Remember, Hermione, this is as much a punishment for me as it is for you. I don't like it but if I don't enforce it, you'd go overboard."
Walking out of the Great Hall, Harry heard the whispers of the other students. He hated to leave Hermione when she was crying but he knew if he stayed he would give in. If he never enforced the punishment clauses of their agreement, Hermione would have killed Malfoy years ago. That would only end in the Purebloods coming after her.
"Why does he have to keep returning books late? It's almost like he likes having Hermione nearly rip him a new one, literally." Harry muttered to himself.
There will be more to this, exploring different parts of Harry and Hermione's agreement and different situations where it comes into play.
A version of the agreement has been drafted but is subject to change until the final chapter which will cover its drafting. It will not be posted standalone in accordance with FFN Guidelines.
If you enjoyed this or have ideas for situations where such an agreement might come into play, please leave a review or send a PM.