It was time.

She was fidgeting. Her hands could not stop playing with the napkin on her lap, and her leg bounced up and down in anticipation, tapping out a rough rhythm on the floor that matched her heartbeats. In only a few short moments it would be announced. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself slightly. She could certainly last another minute or two. There was no rush, no rush at all. She'd waited all summer, and it was absolutely no problem to have to remain patient for a few seconds that would probably fly by anyway.

Only she was fooling herself. She wanted to know, and she wanted to know NOW.

Head Girl was the most prestigious honor awarded to any seventh year female, and the only academic award that Hermione Granger did not yet have to hang on her shelf. She'd agonized for six years to get top marks and to be an exemplary student, which had been no easy task, considering she was best friends with the two biggest troublemakers in the school. Yet any rule-breaking she had done had only served for a greater good, and surely that could not be held against her too much.

She'd hoped all summer for a letter announcing her as the Head Girl of Hogwarts, and when her letter came giving her the titles of the books she was required to buy for the upcoming year, she had at first been crushed to find no additional note and no Head Girl badge. She'd been so distressed, her mother had had to point out the postscript at the bottom, saying that since owls could be intercepted and were not considered reliable anymore, they would announce the two positions at the return feast.

The feast was drawing to a close, and people were slowly putting down their forks and knives; Hermione hadn't been able to eat a thing all night. She was just too nervous about whether or not she would earn the title. It was the biggest goal of her life, so far. It would be a thousand times easier to get into a college, or to have a good job, if she had an honor like that during school.

She was practically shredding her napkin as she began to tap her toe against the floor harder. Why wouldn't Dumbledore just announce it already!?


She looked up. Ron was looking at her, amused; a light smirk was on his features, but it was friendly and teasing. No matter how hard her dear redheaded friend tried to look ruthless and cold, he couldn't manage the expression. His brown eyes were just filled with too much life. "Calm down." He patted her arm reassuringly, as he surreptitiously took the napkin out of her hands; "You've got it in the bag."

"Do you think so?" She asked hopefully, shifting her gaze to the teachers' table to make sure Dumbledore hadn't stood up to make the announcement.

Harry leaned into the conversation and nodded. He gave her hand a comforting squeeze. "Of course we're sure. Right, Ron?"


She smiled anxiously and gave them both half-hugs. They truly were the greatest friends she could have asked for. Sometimes she wondered how she would ever survive without them. She opened her mouth to thank them both when Dumbledore stood; her breath caught in her throat.

Giving a slight cough, Dumbledore soon gained the attention of every person in the Great Hall. He smiled kindly and then spoke, "I believe it is time to announce our new Head Boy and Girl." he paused, "It was a very hard decision to choose two pupils out of all of our exceptional seventh years. They were all candidates, and our school staff had quite a time deducing who was worthy of such an honor. First, we will begin with our Head Boy."

He looked across all four tables. Some boys weren't looking up at him, knowing they would most likely not have been picked. Others had hopeful expressions. A select few looked as though they'd be sick if he didn't announce it soon. "This year's Head Boy is Draco Malfoy."

A roar of applause and hollers of victory erupted from the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy stood, smiling smugly, as he made his way up to the front of the Great Hall to accept his award. Dumbledore shook his hand and handed him the shiny gold badge, which Draco promptly pinned to his chest. He moved away as Dumbledore began to announce the next title.

"This year's Head Girl is Lavender Brown."

For a moment, the Gryffindor table sat, stunned. Everyone, from almost every house, had expected the title to go to Hermione Granger. Lavender hadn't even considered herself in the running; at the moment of the proclamation she'd been reapplying her lipstick. Half of her mouth a soft shade of pink, and the other half it's natural red, she stood, her lips forming a perfectly surprised, and somewhat breathless "o".

All the Gryffindor's burst into applause, yelling triumphantly.

All except for one.

Hermione knew it was conceited to believe that the title had been hers. She knew that she shouldn't have expected it simply because she got top marks; she had a bad track record when it came to following the rules, especially for a prefect, and she knew it. Yet, at that moment, it felt like her entire six years' worth of work had been tossed casually out the window. She stood, not clapping, and left the Great Hall immediately. It didn't matter to her if the Slytherins teased her unmercifully for her ungraceful conduct, or that a friend of hers had just received a great honor. She had to get out of there. Lavender would understand.

As soon as she had exited the Great Hall, her legs had begun to run and she could only obey. She ran and ran until she didn't know where she was and she didn't care. She collapsed onto a staircase in what appeared to be the fourth floor and cried for what felt like forever, tears of bitterness and rage, and overwhelming shame that she couldn't control herself sufficiently to even congratulate her friend. She didn't hear the footsteps of anyone approaching, and wasn't even aware that anyone was there until she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Granger? Are you going to sit there and block the staircase all night?"

She looked up. It was Draco Malfoy, the "Head Boy". She glared at him, blaming him for a situation that was not his fault. "What's the matter, Malfoy? Did your father buy these stairs just like he bought you that title?" She knew that she was just taking out her hurt and fury on a not- so-innocent bystander, but at that point, she quite frankly didn't give a damn.

He quirked an eyebrow, but remained his same, cool self. "I'll have you know I worked for that title. I have the second best marks in our class--"

"Only topped by mine."

"--and I follow the rules...well, more often than you, anyway," he concluded, as if she hadn't spoken at all. "I also participate in various school activities, something it appears you never did."

"I worked harder than you," she stated blatantly, hating him with passion that grew a little more each second. "I worked harder than anyone. I stayed up late working on essays and I helped others. I tutored younger years. I got perfect marks on every Transfiguration test this year. I'm just as much a part of this school as you are, and don't you dare try to convince me that I am otherwise. I was cheated from that title."

With that she stood up, head held high, and walked away from him, forcing her footsteps to be slow and deliberate, stilling her ragged indrawn breaths, down the corridor so she could use the main staircase to get to Gryffindor tower. Harry and Ron would probably be worried about her, and her reaction to the news--


She stopped and turned. More than anything she wanted to walk away from him; her eyes were beginning to water again and she desperately needed a tissue. "What?"

"Even though you're a Mudblood, and I completely despise you--" he called from down the hallway, only to be cut off.

"Does this have a point?" She replied, trying to get away as soon as possible.

"I agree with you. You were cheated."

She paused and couldn't help but give a small smile. There was some justice in the world after all. "Thank you, Malfoy."

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, and for that matter, I'm not aware of many fifteen year olds who do.

A/N: This is the first thing I've posted since APRIL! *shakes head* Disgraceful. Anyway, this is just something that's been bugging me a few months. Thanks to my wonderful beta, Aria (penname is Elluxion). Please review. I'll love you forever if you do.

Shameless Plug: Go check out "Sweetest Are the Stolen Kisses" by Lemmings. It's a novel length D/Hr fic by Aria, G (liquid mercury is her penname, unless she changed it x_x;), and I.