Disclaimer: I don't own anything that shows up in J.K. Rowling's books. We all know that--of course.
"I hate Draco Malfoy!" Hermione spat viciously as she stomped out of Potions class, Ginny on her heels. When the Slytherins strolled leisurely out of the classroom, they were smirking at Hermione, including the one who had incurred Hermione's wrath. Ginny patted Hermione's shoulder sympathetically. "I know, Mione. He's a bastard," she said supportively, as Hermione continued to mutter beneath her breath.
Hermione nodded and muttered beneath her breath as they walked to their History of Magic class. When they got there, Hermione sat down beside Harry and crossed her arms over her chest. Ginny sat down beside Harry and he slipped one arm around her waist. He leaned close and murmured in Ginny's ear, "What's up with Hermione?"
"Draco," she muttered. Harry looked annoyed, then resigned.
"What happened today?" It was well known that there was a private war being enacted between Hermione and Draco.
Ginny glowered. "Draco put some ice down Hermione's back, and when she jumped, Snape took twenty points from Gryffindor." Harry's face twisted sympathetically. Losing the points from her whole House because of her personal war with Draco would hit Hermione hard. Ron, who was on the other side of Harry, craned his head to look at Hermione. "Hey, don't worry about it, Hermione. We'll get him back," he said, his voice encouraging.
Hermione muttered unintelligibly beneath her breath and just glared malevolently at the tabletop, wishing that it was Draco's face so she could smash it. Ron glanced over at Ginny and Harry, and tried not to look too closely at them cuddled together. Although he heartily approved of the match between Ginny and Harry, he didn't want to think too hard about it or he'd just get pissed off that somebody was messing around with his little sister. Just then class started, so everyone either fell asleep or actually started to pay attention to class.
Ginny, Harry and Ron were three of those who immediately fell asleep. Although usually Hermione would have listened and taken notes, now she was preoccupied with her thoughts. It really irritated her that Draco had made her get points taken off from her House. She would have to talk to him. This little war of theirs was going too far.
But then she thought, why the hell would Draco care? He would continue it if for no other reason than it was annoying her past redemption. But if he continued in the same vein, she wasn't going to be responsible for her actions. She just might have to murder Draco with a lead pipe if he didn't ease off. She brooded throughout History of Magic, not taking any notes for once.
Once class was over, the group trooped out of class. When Ron noticed that Hermione was still brooding, he glanced sideways at Harry, then said, "Hermione, it's not a big deal. He'll get over his stupid need to bother you."
"I know," Hermione muttered distractedly. Ron raised one eyebrow and gave up on trying to talk to her when she was so obviously distracted.
When they got back to the Gryffindor common room, Hermione immediately sank down into a chair by the warm fire and descended into more thought. By mutual thought, her friends left her alone.
When Hermione came awake later, she realized that she had fallen asleep. The fire was still blazing strongly in the hearth, keeping her warm, although no one else was in the common room. Startled, she realized that she had slept the rest of the day away, and it was already night. Obviously everyone had feared to bother her.
Wanting to talk to Draco when no one would bother them, she rose from her chair and muttered absently, "Accio parchment." A piece of parchment flew into her hands and she started scribbling swiftly on it. Then she rolled it up and glanced around. Crookshanks was lounging idly on a nearby sofa, his yellow eyes glaring balefully at her. "Oh c'mon," Hermione coaxed. "I'll ask the house elves to get you some of that smoked salmon that you like so much," she said persuasively.
Crookshanks glared at her for another minute, then slid off the couch and stalked over to her and snagged the small roll of parchment from her. "It goes to Draco Malfoy's room," she told him. "And please get it there as soon as possible. You get extra pieces of salmon the faster it gets there."
Crookshanks walked away, nose in the air, holding hard to his pride. Once he was out the door, he immediately stepped up his pace. Amused by her cat, Hermione rose. Her hair was mashed from sleeping at such an odd angle, but it had at least flattened out some of the bushiness, creating softer waves. She patted her pockets absently to make sure that she had her wand, then made her way out of the common room and into the hallways.
Moonlight filtered in through the high windows, creating ivory patterns on the stone floors and walls. Hermione glanced around to make sure that she was unobserved, then walked quickly down the hallway. She had asked Draco to meet her outside, beneath one of the willow trees. Not the Whomping Willow, just a regular willow, thank goodness. She had always liked the tree; there was an elegance to it that pleased her.
Once she got to the willow, she felt a little safer within the safety of its whiplike branches that hid her. The drooping branches of the tree served as a curtain between her and the rest of the world. No one would be able to see anything past the screen of leaves, giving her meeting with Draco perfect anonymity.
She looked around, feeling something within her ease. She loved the night. There was a stillness to it that she liked. The whole world was sleeping. The night hid the shadows that plagued her in the day. At night, there was no one to judge her, to dismiss her as the brains behind Harry Potter. Through a small break in the willow's branches, she could see the moonlight glitter off the calm surface of the lake. There was a peacefulness that eased the tension that had tightened her shoulders.
Almost forgetting about her proposed meeting to Draco, she stepped from behind the screen of the willow and out into the full moonlight. The soft sound of the water shifting was the only sound that broke the silence of the night. She lifted her face up to the moonlight, feeling it spill over her like a cool stream of silver. Hermione closed her eyes, breathing in the cool air and just letting herself breathe in the night.
Draco stared at Hermione, his breath catching. He had never imagined Hermione as beautiful, but the fact was impossible to escape. She was a creature of the night, a seductive woodland nymph. Her face was turned up to the moon, a small smile curving her full lips. Her normally unmanagable, mousy brown hair was transformed into a dark mink-brown that spilled luxuriously down her back. Moonlight winked through the dark strands, almost as if she had stars braided into her hair. The hem of her robes moved slightly in a small wind, rustling silently around her ankles, molding her robes to her body one instant and then flaring the next. Almost as if she sensed him standing there, she turned to look at him, opening her eyes.
Staring into her eyes, he felt like someone had punched him in the chest. Night had made her eyes as dark as a piece of polished obsidian. The play of moonlight over her face made them look deep and mysterious. He felt like he could drown in her eyes, and love every second of it.
Stunned at himself, he just stared at her for a long minute. He didn't even like Hermione. Not at all. She was a mudblood, for Merlin's sake! And she hung out with Harry Potter, which was enough of a black mark in his opinion. But standing here in the moonlight, she was a different creature than the uptight, bookworm girl that he tormented every day. But he found himself wanting to slide his hands through that star-kissed hair, brush his lips over that pulse beating steadily in her milky white throat, then work his way up to those luscious lips that were still curved in that dreamy smile. . . .NO! He shut down that thought, but his muscles tightened in rebellion. They liked those thoughts of Hermione. But his mind didn't.
Annoyed that she had put him into turmoil, his voice came out sharp. "What the hell did you drag me out of bed for, Granger?"
Hermione blinked, looking as if she were coming out of a dream. She shook her head as if she were disoriented, then stared at him for a moment. Then her lip curled, and the Granger that Draco knew and hated returned. Her appearance hadn't changed--she still had that ethereal, wood nymph quality--but she had regained her snappish personality that he was used to.
"We need to talk, Malfoy," she snapped, and stalked back into the protection of the willow. Heaving a sigh, Draco followed her.