THE SECRET ADMIRER

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and everything else related to Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling (the lucky millionaire), Warner Bros (another bunch of millionaires) and other affiliated people. The poems quoted in here belong to Will Shakespeare, Chris Marlowe and Robbie Burns.

Chapter 3 – A Day Out

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou are more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare - Sonnet XVIII

'So, any clues who you think your SA might be?' Ginny asked. She liked to call Hermione's Secret Admirer "S.A.", sometimes confusing Hermione who would remember the DA (Dumbledore's Army) from darker times before.

Ginny was asking the question as her, Hermione and Luna were walking to Hogsmeade together for some quality girl time during the Hogsmeade weekend. They didn't spend much time together as a group at school – Hermione was in the year above the other two, and Ginny and Luna were in different houses. Nonetheless, after the whole Voldemort-Dark-Lord fiasco, the three had become very good friends.

'The present he sent this morning was nice though,' Luna said, voice dreamily hazy as usual. She had accessorised typically, with a crazy looking necklace and bracelet made of coke bottle tops strung together, her long pale hair plaited with what looked suspiciously like gillyweed. 'Your brother would never think of something like that,' she added to Ginny.

Ginny didn't bother defending her brother. 'Ron's got about as much romantic sensitivity as a brick.'

'Oh, I don't know, Gin,' Hermione said, being fair. 'Ron may surprise us all one day.'

'One day, very far away,' Ginny said, laughing. 'I know my brother. But anyway, this gift counts out any Slytherin as your SA for sure.'

'You're just stereotyping Slytherin,' Hermione accused, taking on her "preachy" voice. 'Which is something Professor Dumbledore is very against especially after the recent war. And you're a Prefect. You shouldn't be –'

'–encouraging House stereotypes blah blah blah,' Ginny finished, rolling her eyes. She had heard this all before. 'I'm not encouraging House stereotypes, but seriously, can you imagine somebody like Malfoy, who you have to admit is the stereotypical Slytherin, sending you a book of Muggle poetry?'

Hermione did have to admit she couldn't imagine Malfoy sending her a gift like the one her Secret Admirer had sent that morning. It had been carried by the doves again (Hermione was beginning to feel rather fond of doves,) and the paper wrapped package had contained a small, thin book with a soft burgundy leather cover that had a lovely design of roses imprinted into it. The book itself had thick, creamy pages, and written by quill on each page in the same handwriting as her Secret Admirer, were famous love poems, mostly Muggle, although it included writings by witches and wizards.

The book had landed before her, and Hermione had been delighted. She had thought maybe the Secret-Admirer-thing had only been for Valentine's Day, but evidently not. Ginny had picked up the book, and sighed at once at how lovely the gesture was. The others near her took turns flicking through the book curiously (the boys), or admiringly (the girls).

'"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"' Ron read aloud from one of the sonnets. 'Can this guy get any sadder?'

'And all that effort,' Dean commented incredulously. 'It's handwritten by your admirer, Hermione.' As an observant artist, he had noticed that at once.

'Who uses thee anyway?' Seamus laughed.

'It was written in the sixteenth century, my wonderfully educated boyfriend,' Lavender said, rolling her eyes. 'Shakespeare ring a bell?'

'You like this stuff?' Seamus asked incredulously. He looked over Ron's shoulder into the book. '"And I will make thee beds of roses, and a thousand fragrant posies"?' he declared dramatically.

Lavender just gave a little sigh.

Ron snorted, as he flipped the pages. '"I will love thee still, my dear, while the sands o' life shall run."'

'Oh, that's lovely,' Parvati sniffed.

'That's ridiculous,' Ron said, unconvinced.

'It's quite romantic though,' Harry said, smiling a little. 'The girls love it. Hermione likes it, don't you?'

Hermione had just smiled. Of course she liked the gift. She recognised many of the quotes the others had just read out. The poems were famous for a reason.

There had been a note too, written on the cover page in the same hand that had written the other note, and all the girls instantly began feeling weepy-eyed at the simple phrase:

These words, fancifully strung together by others, only begin to describe how I feel.

It was exactly the sort of gift Malfoy wouldn't send, even though he had been a bit odd lately. Why on earth would he choose that love potion for their Potions project, after all? Hermione frowned. If he was planning to use it to laugh at her about her Secret Admirer, she would have to control herself and prevent herself from flying into assorted fits of temper that would only arouse more snickers from the blond.

'So, we've narrowed down the list to not including any of the Slytherins,' Ginny said.

'I think it could be a Slytherin,' Luna said thoughtfully.

'I think there's a possibility Luna could be right,' Hermione noted ruefully. 'After all, why would it be secret?'

'Maybe because he wants to hide, he's embarrassed. I know, he could be in a younger year!' Ginny said, looking as though a lightbulb had popped over her head.

'Or he could be romantic,' Luna said pensively.

'That must be it! A younger guy! So, say fifth or sixth year?' Ginny said, excitedly.

'Or a little first year?' Hermione said teasingly.

Ginny waved that aside royally. 'So, who in our year fancies Hermione?' she asked Luna.

'I still think he's a Slytherin,' Luna just said vaguely, as Hogsmeade neared before them.

'No way!' Ginny exclaimed decisively, and continued to argue about that as they entered the entirely wizarding village.

Hermione smiled slightly. This would be one of her last Hogsmeade weekends at school. After this year, visits to Hogsmeade would no doubt occur as it was the only completely wizarding settlement in Britain, but such visits wouldn't hold the same shine that the term 'Hogsmeade weekend' held. To be sure, the excitement had begun wearing off a long time ago, although Hermione smiled as a wave of nostalgia washed over her. She could remember clearly how thrilling her first Hogsmeade visit had seemed when she had been in her third year.

She looked at the shops, still exactly the same as they had been four years ago. Honeydukes, Dervish and Banges, Zonko's Joke Shop, Gladys Gladrags … she found it hard to believe what she had been like before she had come to Hogwarts.

She spied the florist's – Flora's Flowers, the only place selling flowers in Hogsmeade, and which practically all the students used. 'Ginny, did you want to get some flowers to send to your mum for her birthday?' Hermione asked Ginny, the red-haired girl still bickering to a unresponsive Luna about which House Hermione's Secret Admirer belonged to.

Ginny turned, and nodded vigorously. 'Yes, mum's birthday's next Thursday. Thanks for reminding me Herm,' she said, heading into the store, Hermione and Luna behind her. 'And I'm telling you Luna, that there is absolutely no way that a Slytherin could send a book of romantic Muggle poetry to Hermione!'

Luna was humming absently to herself, nose buried in a bunch of sweet-smelling sweet peas.

Flora's Flowers was an interesting place, with a great deal more variety in flowers than normal Muggle florists. Beautiful, fresh-looking bouquets of 'normal' flowers – lilies, daisies, tulips, roses, daffodils and many more sat in the larger part of the store looking absolutely gorgeous. There were, however, more unusual flowers as well. Near the back wall, was a bucket holding bunches of gillyweed ('for your water-loving friend!'), and near that, bouquets of snapdragons that actually did snap rather ferociously at the pot of poor chameleon cyclamens that kept changing colour to a sickly, pasty shade of greyish white each time the snapdragons ventured too closely.

Ginny, though, was occupied with the normal, less bothersome tulips (after all, many delivery owls flatly refused to deliver magical flowers.) 'Mum loves tulips,' she said, looking at the flowers. 'What do you think, you two, purple or orange?'

'Both?' Luna suggested.

'Both?' Ginny repeated, scandalised at the suggestion of the two colours together.

Hermione's attraction, though, was drawn to the roses, and she smiled, remembering the flowers her Secret Admirer had sent her. Twelve long-stemmed dark red roses. It was the first time she'd ever received red roses, and the thought just made her smile again. She was interrupted from her thoughts though as the florist, Flora Blackwood, came out of a curtained off area at the back of the store to smile at her customers.

'What will you be wanting?' she asked. Flora looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties, with curly blonde hair, brown eyes and fingers that always seemed to be touching the stems or petals of some flower or other.

'I'd like to order some …' Ginny began, when her voice trailed off and her eyes widened the way they usually did when she had come up with some brilliant idea, an idea that she believed was brilliant.

'Yes?' Flora inquired.

'Could we get a list of people who bought a bouquet of twelve long-stemmed dark red roses in the days leading up to Valentine's Day?' Ginny said breathlessly.

Flora blinked, looking surprised at the request, before shaking her head. 'I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to. Customer discretion.'

Ginny looked ready to scream, and Hermione had to admit herself disappointed. 'Please, can't you tell us? Just the ones from Hogwarts?'

Flora just shook her head. 'I'm sorry, but –'

Ginny, irritation suddenly put aside, looked thoughtful. 'Flora Blackwood?' She read the name-tag on Flora's outfit.

'Yes, that's me,' Flora said.

'Flora Blackwood,' Ginny repeated, a slight frown on her face. Then her eyes brightened. 'Flora Blackwood!'

'Yes, that's me,' Flora said again, obviously confused.

'It's me, Ginny Weasley!' Ginny squealed.

'Er –'

'We're cousins! I can't remember exactly what, maybe it's fourth cousins twice removed, or is it thrice? Or fifth cousins six times removed … but that's not the point. We've met before, remember at Ella Weasley's wedding to Ralph Godwin two years ago? You were a Weasley (did you dye your hair by the way? it looks great) but you married to Greg Blackwood! I'm Arthur and Molly Weasley's daughter, the one with six brothers?'

Flora's face cleared at once and she beamed. 'I do remember you, Ginny,' she said enthusiastically. 'Didn't you wear that real nice yellow dress at Ella's wedding?'

'Yes, and you wore those lovely pale blue robes,' Ginny said, remembering.

Hermione snorted. Trust Ginny and her cousin whatever removed to remember outfits.

'How are your parents?' Flora asked.

'They're great,' Ginny said chattily. 'Did you know Charlie, my brother, is getting married to Nymphadora Tonks, the Auror? They'll be sending out the invitations in a few weeks –'

'I remember Charlie,' Flora said. 'He's the one who works with dragons in China, isn't he?'

'Romania,' Ginny corrected.

'Nice dragon-leather pants, though,' Flora grinned.

And so it continued, the passing on of family news. Luna spent the time bemusedly playing with the snapdragons, while Hermione carefully avoided the fanged geraniums as she examined the honking daffodils.

After about ten minutes, though, Ginny and Flora's chatter looked nowhere near coming to a pause, and she coughed as discreetly as possible.

'– and you know what Vivi called her son? Harry!'

'That's darling!'

Cough, cough.

'So that's Vivi's second child?'

'Second son, but third child –'

Hermione sighed, and decided to let them continue a little longer while she inspected a 'lucky spitting sweet-pea.'

Five minutes later, she decided she really had better interrupt them, simply because she was bored.

Cough, cough, cough.

'– could you believe that old Edgar Weasley had that in him – are you okay, Hermione?'

Cough, meaningful look.

'Oh!' Ginny realised. 'Look, Flora, could you please give us the list of Hogwarts students who bought twelve long-stemmed dark red roses in the lead up to Valentine's Day?'

Flora hesitated.

'Come on, Flora, please? We're trying to find out who Hermione's SA is,' Ginny said.

'SA?'

'Secret Admirer,' Ginny said brightly. And of course, she had to launch into that whole story.

It took time, but the result was that, ten minutes later, a totally sympathetic Flora Blackwood (née Weasley) was looking through the records of her sales, and came up with a rather long list of students.

Hermione, Ginny and Luna instantly began poring over it.

'Dean Thomas got roses,' Ginny noted.

'They would have been for Lisa Turpin,' Hermione replied.

'Ah,' Ginny said.

'She was really pleased with them,' Luna distantly.

'Neville got roses?'

'For Susan Bones.'

'Of course. Oh look, Billy Bobbin, a sixth year Ravenclaw.'

'They were for that girl from Hufflepuff, the one who broke up with him six times so far this year – Janet Shore I think.'

'Kevin Whitby –'

'They were for his girlfriend, Lara what's-her-name?'

'The one with the crooked nose?'

'Lara Ingleside.'

Several minutes later, they were still sifting unproductively through the lengthy list of names.

'We'll never get through the whole list,' Hermione said, frustrated.

'You can take a copy,' Flora said generously.

'Oh, thank you!' Hermione said, pleased.

Luna was still perusing the list. 'Malcolm Baddock bought roses on the fourteenth of February. Malcolm's in Slytherin.'

'Give up about the Slytherin thing!' Ginny said, a little annoyed. 'Malcolm Baddock's not the only Slytherin on the list.'

'But Malcolm's gay,' Luna said simply.

Ginny's head jerked up. 'No way! Isn't he going out with Deidre Jennings, you know, the fourth year in Ravenclaw? I thought he gave her a bunch of flowers.'

'He did,' Luna nodded knowledgably. 'But not red roses.'

'Yes, he did. And he can't be gay if he's going out with Deidre,' Ginny said.

'He could be, you know, covering up,' Hermione suggested. 'Or maybe he doesn't realise it yet.'

'Besides, if he's gay, he wouldn't be Hermione's SA,' Ginny said, as if in conclusion.

'No,' Luna agreed placidly. She paused pensively. 'But he's a Slytherin.'

'I don't care if he's a Slytherin!' Ginny said exasperatedly. 'He's either straight, and therefore not Hermione's SA, or he's gay, and also not Hermione's SA!' She frowned. 'And that did make sense.'

Hermione, though, was scanning the list again. Harry got roses? She didn't remember him giving Padma Patil roses, but then again, she couldn't remember many things. Many of the names on the list were unfamiliar to her, so it appeared like she had a lot to investigate.

Ginny finally did what she had come to Flora's Flowers to do, and ordered a bouquet of tulips (orange won the day) to be sent to Mrs Weasley, before they left the store, and continue along Hogsmeade.

'Let's go to the Three Broomsticks?' Hermione suggested. It was getting later in the afternoon, and the air was growing chilly.

Ginny and Luna both nodded. 'I have to go to Dervish and Banges first to get some more parchment paper,' Ginny said.

'And I need to buy some scales for Potions,' Luna added. 'I think I lost my old ones.'

'Why don't you go first and mind us a table?' Ginny suggested. 'It looks crowded.'

Hermione agreed, and headed off to the Three Broomsticks while the two girls went to Dervish Banges. Once inside, she could see that the Three Broomsticks was indeed crowded. Business was always good on a Hogsmeade weekend as students often flocked there for warm Butterbeer, especially on a cool day like today. The venue, though, was crowded, and she could see no empty tables, nor any of her other friends.

Finally, she spied Ernie Macmillan, a fellow seventh year from Hufflepuff, and headed towards the largish table at which he sat with only one other student.

'Hello, Hermione!' Ernie greeted, friendly as always.

'Hi, Ernie,' Hermione said back. The table was quite empty, so there would be room for her friends. She glanced at Ernie's companion, who she recognised at sight, although she did not know him.

'Have a seat,' Ernie said, cheerfully. 'This is Jack Wyndon,' he introduced his friend. 'Sixth year in my House,' he added.

'Hi Jack,' Hermione said, smiling. 'I'm –'

'–Hermione Granger,' Jack answered at once.

Hermione was surprised. 'You know me?'

'Of course,' Jack replied shyly, smiling slightly. He spoke with a soft, endearing, lilting Welsh accent. 'Gryffindor prefect, brilliant at Arithmancy.'

Hermione blushed with pleasure. It was always nice to be recognised for her intellect.

'We were just talking about owls,' Ernie said, as Hermione slipped into one of the spare seats.

'Aren't you over with your OWLs?' Hermione asked, a trifle confused. After all, if Jack was in his sixth year –

'No, owls as in the birds not the exams,' Ernie beamed. 'Jack's family trains magical birds.'

'Really?' Hermione asked, interested.

Jack nodded. He had hazel eyes, that were charmingly serious as he began talking. His hair was fair, and stuck up slightly in places, like faded golden thatching on old houses. Jack's face was pleasant, and dotted with freckles.

'Owls, mostly, but we also train different sorts of birds. My da trained some hawks recently, my ma a lark,' Jack said.

'Barrie, our family owl was trained by the Wyndons,' Ernie added, grinning.

'I don't have an owl,' Hermione admitted. 'I have a cat though, Crookshanks.'

'Owl-friendly?' Jack asked.

'Indifferent is more like it,' Hermione replied.

'That's good though,' Jack said approvingly. 'My brother once dated a girl who owned seven unfriendly cats. They broke up within a week.'

Hermione raised a brow. Seven cats? She had enough trouble taking care of one.

Ernie was looking at his watch, though, and he looked up. 'Jack, we'd better go,' he said, concerned.

'What?' Jack asked.

'It's almost three, remember?'

'Oh, damn.'

'What is it?' Hermione enquired.

Ernie grimaced. 'Professor Sprout is just having a talk with us sixth and seventh years about the end of year Hufflepuff farewell party, since they–' he pointed at Jack, '– have to organise it. We have to give tips, since we organised last years.'

'On a Saturday?' Hermione asked, laughing.

'Professor Sprout doesn't seem to realise what weekend means,' Jack said, rolling his eyes.

'Sorry we have to leave you, Hermione. You'll be okay by yourself?' Ernie asked, considerately.

'I'll be fine. Ginny and Luna should get here soon anyway,' Hermione assured them.

'Good,' Jack said. 'Then we don't have to feel like we're deserting you.'

'See you later,' Ernie called, as the two Hufflepuffs left.

'Nice meeting you,' Jack added cheerfully.

Hermione sighed, now alone at her table. She wished Ginny and Luna would hurry up, or that Harry or Ron would get here soon, since she did feel rather lonely sitting by herself, but she compensated by pulling her ever present notes from her bag so she could get some productive study done.

She was halfway through a page of notes on Conjuring Spells when she heard the doors to the Three Broomsticks open and a group of people enter noisily. She glanced up, hoping it was her friends, and instead saw a horde of Slytherins. Among them, lording over the crowd, was Malfoy of course.

She grimaced. It was always unpleasant when her friends and Malfoy were in a room together, but with any luck, the Slytherins would just ignore them. They were heading to a large recently vacated table on the opposite side of the room anyway, so she bent her head back to her notes, hoping Malfoy hadn't seen her and find it necessary to taunt her with his subtly insulting, and politically incorrect comments.

Naturally, such luck never seemed to come her way when it came to Malfoy, and within a few moments, she heard somebody slide into the seat beside her.

'Hello, Granger,' he drawled, voice low so as not to be overheard.

Hermione didn't bother looking up. 'Go away, Malfoy.'

'Well, that's polite,' he said, mock-offended.

'It was meant to be. Now get lost. Shoo.'

'Shoo?' Malfoy was definitely irritated with that.

'It means go,' Hermione said, with exaggerated patience.

'I'm aware of what shoo means,' Malfoy said loftily.

'Incredible. Leave me alone.'

'But I couldn't possibly leave you siting all by yourself, abandoned by your friends in a corner,' Malfoy said, voice dripping false concern.

'I'm not abandoned,' Hermione said hotly, eyes still intent on her notes although she wasn't really reading anything, simply refusing to look at his pale pointed face.

'Potter, Weasley, off on their little dates with their little girlfriends,' Malfoy continued, voice deliberately taunting.

'At least I have friends,' she replied shortly. 'Unlike yourself.'

'Oh I do have friends, Granger, don't you worry,' he said comfortably.

'Worry?' Hermione gave a short laugh. 'You don't warrant my concern.'

'Ouch, Granger. I'm hurt,' Malfoy drawled. 'Don't they teach you Gryffindors to play nicely?'

'Well they definitely teach you Slytherins to play un-nicely. Now shoo,' Hermione said, attempt to fix her attention on her notes, and idly wondering how Malfoy would react if she conjured a baby's bonnet right there and then on his head.

Malfoy didn't say anything for a moment, and Hermione thought for a moment that maybe he would leave, and that she had managed to have the last word, but such was not to be.

'I heard you got another gift from your Soppy Admirer,' Malfoy said eventually, voice definitely ready to wreck mischief.

'You heard correctly.'

'A book of Muggle poetry,' Malfoy's voice was scornful.

Ginny was definitely right about Malfoy not being her Secret Admirer.

'Very sweet and romantic poetry,' Hermione corrected.

'Typical for a Gryffindor like you to think sentimental rubbish like that is romantic,' Malfoy said scornfully.

Yup. Ginny was definitely right.

'I think it's very touching and that only a Slytherin like you would fail to appreciate the real emotions held by those poems,' Hermione replied, keeping her voice poised and dignified.

Malfoy made a rude sound. 'Have you any clue who he might be yet, assuming that he exists and is not merely some mass hallucination?'

'A mass hallucination?'

'Well?'

Hermione hesitated. 'Well, I think it could be Harry,' she said briskly, inwardly annoyed with herself for even confiding in Malfoy.

There was a disbelieving silence. 'Potter?'

'Do you know any other Harrys?' she demanded. 'Anyway, we like each other, and he might think it's a sweet gesture. In fact, it's sweet – exactly the sort of thing Harry might do. And besides he's been behaving kind of differently to the other boys about the gifts,' Hermione said quickly, finally looking up at Malfoy, anxious to defend. He looked ready to laugh out loud.

'Differently?'

'He thinks my Secret Admirer's being quite romantic.'

'I always knew Potter was a pathetic drip.'

'He's not pathetic!'

'But he is a drip,' Malfoy said quickly. 'And doesn't Potter have a girlfriend? One of the Patil twins, isn't it?'

'Well, that is the slight flaw to my current deduction,' Hermione conceded.

'Slight,' Malfoy snorted.

Hermione sniffed, ready to resume her study, just as the door to the Three Broomsticks opened and Padma Patil appeared, face blotchy, eyes red and teary. Malfoy raised a brow, and Hermione looked, interested.

'He dumped me!' Padma wailed, flinging herself into the arms of her Ravenclaw buddies.

'No way!'

'That's impossible!'

'Don't worry sweetie.'

'He's a jerk.'

'Why would he dump you?'

'I thought you guys would get married.'

'So this means I mightn't get an invite to Harry Potter's wedding?'

'Don't worry sweetie.'

'There are many cuter guys out there, Padma.'

'I mean, he doesn't even brush his hair.'

'Don't worry sweetie.'

The seventh year Ravenclaws comforted their friend, with hugs, offers of tissues, chocolates, and free drinks for Padma to drown her sorrows. Hermione and Malfoy, though, watched the scene in silence.

'Well,' Hermione remarked, trying to imitate Malfoy's own irritating drawl. She gave up, and just grinned. 'Flaw no more.'

Malfoy just looked disdainful. 'I don't think it's Potter.'

'And I don't really care what you think,' Hermione said, feeling smug. The door to the Three Broomsticks opened again, and this time her friends entered – Harry hiding behind a shield of Ron, Ginny, Luna and Neville, and she grinned, waving them over. 'My friends are here, so shoo!'

'Shoo,' Malfoy repeated, offended. However, he gave a sudden malicious grin. 'It's not Potter, Granger. And you'd better hope it isn't.'

Hermione gave him a suspicious look.

'Just warning you,' he said innocently. 'Redheads are supposed to have very nasty tempers.' With that, he left swiftly, to Hermione's relief, although his last comment was somewhat ambiguous. He was an annoying person, to say the least, and his presence was definitely not desirable. As he left, though, Hermione realised she had forgotten to ask him about the potion he had chosen for their project.

She pushed Malfoy from her mind as she watched her friends, including Harry, approach the table she had minded for them. She had thought it possible for Harry to be her Secret Admirer. He was the most likely candidate, and now that he had broken up with Padma –

'Hi, Hermione,' Harry said, smiling at her as he sat down, occupying Malfoy's former seat. Ron and Neville headed off to buy Butterbeer for the lot of them, and Ginny and Luna sat, Ginny still squabbling one-sidededly about Slytherins.

'Hi,' Hermione replied distractedly, too busy staring at him in an attempt to discern any obvious signs of love.

'Are you okay? Is there something on my face?' Harry asked, puzzled.

Hermione jumped. 'Oh, no! Just a little, erm, tired. So, you broke up with Padma?'

Harry glanced nervously at the group of seventh year Ravenclaw girls. 'Yeah,' he said. 'I just felt it wasn't working.'

Ginny, overhearing, couldn't help grinning. 'It was hilarious,' she said, giggling. 'I never realised Padma could be such a drama queen. I always thought that was a bit of a Cho-role.'

Harry blushed, as Ginny teased two of his former girlfriends.

'Mandy refuses to speak to Ron now, because of this,' Harry added gloomily. Mandy was one of Padma's fellow seventh year Ravenclaws, and was dating Ron.

'Ron doesn't seem to mind,' Luna said dreamily.

Hermione shrugged. 'Mandy always refuses to speak to Ron because of something,' she stated matter-of-factly.

'Mandy's the possessive type,' Ginny agreed. She turned to Hermione. 'What was Malfoy doing here?'

'Being his usual charming self,' Hermione replied.

'It's a pity you have to work with him in Potions,' Harry said, sympathetically. 'I'd rather work with you.'

Hermione's ears pricked up. Was that a suggestive hint?

Ron, though, had approached, bearing drinks. ' 'Course, Harry. Anybody who works with Hermione will get top marks for their project!' he grinned.

'It's just because I end up doing all the work myself,' Hermione replied tartly. The others just laughed.

'But seriously, Malfoy! That's pretty tough of Snape,' Harry insisted.

'I know,' Hermione groaned. 'I'm just planning to do all the work, and leave him out of it.'

'If Malfoy will let you,' Neville spoke up. He had joined them for drinks since his girlfriend, Susan, was off at Professor Sprout's party planning.

'What do you mean?' Hermione asked curiously.

'Malfoy's not dumb,' Neville said quietly. 'He likes to take charge when he does joint work, you know. I had to work with him last year.' He looked slightly green at the memory.

Hermione winced. Make it all worse, why don't you, Malfoy.

Ginny had seen the problem too. 'But Hermione always takes charge when doing group work!'

'Somehow, I don't think that'd affect Malfoy in the slightest,' Hermione said dryly. 'God … why do I have to work with him?'

'You'll be fine,' Harry said supportively.

'Thanks,' Hermione smiled weakly. She wasn't really looking forward to working with Malfoy at all. But was Harry acting more concerned than he usually did? Hermione frowned, studying Harry's expression for signs of loving infatuation, until Harry finally gave her a funny look.

'Are you sure there's nothing wrong with me?'

'Nothing. You're perfect,' Hermione said at once.

Harry blushed again.

'I meant, you look fine,' Hermione corrected, realising with a laugh what she had said.

Later that evening, Hermione was sitting in the Common Room trying out some of her Conjuring Spells, while Ginny was sipping a cup of hot cocoa while reading Teen Witch, managing at the same time to chatter away about Hermione's SA.

'I still think it's a younger guy. Have you crossed out all the seventh years on the list yet?' Ginny inquired.

'No,' Hermione replied firmly. 'There's no absolute evidence that says he'd be younger.'

Ginny made a face. 'True, but it could explain a lot. Oh, look! Isn't this the cutest hat?' She showed Hermione a picture of a hot pink, pointy witch's hat, adorned with sparkly flowers, in her copy of Teen Witch.

'A bit pink,' Hermione said absently, as she attempted to conjure a pair of bunny-rabbit slippers, which McGonagall had said would be very important in their NEWT examinations.

'Yes, it would clash with my hair, wouldn't it,' Ginny sighed. 'But back to the subject.' She took another sip of cocoa. 'If he is from seventh year, who could it be?'

'Well, this is a little embarrassing,' Hermione admitted, glancing to see where Harry was, 'but I think it could be Harry.'

'R-really?' Ginny's voice sounded oddly strangled.

'He seems all nice lately, and he reacted really nicely about the gifts, and he did just break up with Padma today,' Hermione listed her reasons practically.

'Oh.'

'I like Harry,' Hermione said candidly, as a pair of fluffy white slippers, but not with bunny rabbit ears, appeared. She frowned at the slippers, Vanishing them. 'He likes me, but whether he likes me that much …'

'That's nice, Hermione,' Ginny said. There was a note of bitterness in her voice.

'What's wrong, Gin?' Hermione asked, looking from her slippers to her friend.

'N-nothing,' Ginny said, a forced smile on her face.

'Have another sip of the cocoa,' Hermione advised, turning her attention back to her slippers. 'What am I doing wrong?' she mused, flipping pages in her text book. 'Wrist movement, maybe –' raised her arm to try again, and her eyes suddenly widened as she moved her wand.

'Gin! You still like him, don't you?' she said, marvelling, turning to her friend. Ginny's face turned bright red, a family trait that was a dead giveaway.

There was a flash of light behind her, and a pair of white, living rabbits hopped about the Common Room madly.

'Oh, bugger,' Hermione muttered, turning to Vanish the rabbits that had overturned a pair of second year's game of wizarding chess, before turning back to Ginny.

She was grinning widely. 'You like him!' she whispered, realising that Harry did sit not too far away.

Ginny shook her flaming face. 'Of course not. I'm over him. I'm going out with Tony Goldstein.'

'Bullshit,' Hermione declared. 'You like him! Oh, you'd be so sweet together!'

'Hermione,' Ginny said warningly. 'You think he's your SA.'

'Nonsense,' Hermione waved that aside, grinning at Ginny who began to smile back. 'He's not my Secret Admirer. I was just using pure speculation. Even Ma–'

She stopped short. Even Malfoy doesn't think Harry's my Secret Admirer. Was she just about to use Malfoy's words to support her claim? No! No, of course not. But she had to admit he had sounded so convinced. Maybe he knew something – he had said that redheads were prone to tantrums. Did he know that Ginny still liked Harry? Perplexed, she considered what she remembered of Malfoy's words. It was impossible that Malfoy knew the inner workings of Ginny's mind, but that had been true. So somehow, he must be right about Harry … somehow.

She gave a wry laugh though, shaking her head as she finally Conjured a perfect pair of bunny rabbit slippers. She, Hermione Granger, was for the first time ever finding herself in perfect agreement with Draco Malfoy.

*

Author's Notes: I haven't updated for a while, and I apologise deeply, but what with Christmas, shopping, and New Years, and all that … of course, I also get easily distracted and the fact that I just watched both Return of the King and Peter Pan recently makes it much worse. Return of the King is awesome. Lord of the Rings is the best film trilogy ever, and I won't bother raving about it since it would make my author's notes much too long. But watch Peter Pan, everybody! (As well as Return of the King which you should have watched!) It's amazing, and the kids act much better than the kids in the Harry Potter movies, where they all sound somewhat forced. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) as Hook/MrDarling is absolutely brilliant since he gets so much more screentime and chances to shine! It's such a beautiful film. 'I do believe in fairies! I do, I do!' Just go watch it! And no, I'm not being paid by the filmmakers to advertise.

Anyway, about this chapter, I've used a lot of quotes of love poems (the versions of which I took off the website www.best-love-poems.com):

'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' is from "Sonnet XVIII" by William Shakespeare (also the Sonnet that began the chapter).

'And I will make thee beds of roses, and a thousand fragrant posies' is taken from "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe.

'I will love thee still, my dear, while the sands o' life shall run' comes from "A Red Red Rose" by Robert Burns.

Many thanks to those who reviewed: BrokenWings, Daintress, Stacy, draco's mudblood, yaz, FuMan Skeeto, Amadea, ~Jes, ForeverBroken, valsolo, anonymous 327, StephanieWong, Evil Cornbread (nope, The Slap occurred in 3rd year, trust me!), emma, potts (ah yes, but does Malfoy like her?), athene, someonelse, Eliza Starr (same name!), The Perfectly Imperfect (Truth & Dare stories tend to be a little surreal don't they), Anne, kgirl, Erythros (can't answer, sorry), australian gurl, cristina, Hatokirei (unless your sleep lasted several days, I'm sorry you couldn't wake up to a new chapter), Allygal ('soppy sods'? Never tell Draco, he'd be very insulted!), ME, Amy85 (again, can't answer, sorry, and you wrote my 50th review! cheers), & airotci.

I love reviews, they make my day! (Or part of it anyway.) Review! Review! Review!