"Hermione, have mercy on the lad. Honestly, it is just cruel to drag him about like that!"

For all the seriousness that was in Harry Potter's voice, the smirk that played on the corners of his lips and the amusement in his jade eyes betrayed him. Holding back a laugh, he sent his red headed friend a half- hearted look of pity.

Ron Weasley was currently in the relentless clutches of Hermione Granger, giving out cries of pain as she dragged him through the numerous hallways of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the earlobe. The helpless boy could only glare at Harry for his weak attempts to rescue him from Hermione's iron-manacled grasp. Clearly, she was far beyond reason; Harry's admittedly unfelt pleas had fallen upon deaf ears.

"—selfish behavior! I cannot believe you, Ronald Weasley! Now we're going to be late! Late! Do you know how it reflects upon the Head Girl when she is late? And why is my perfect record being sullied? Why?" Her voice rose with each sentence, along with her anger, "Because you had to eat an extra sandwich!" Hermione's tirade was interrupted momentarily as the boy at her mercy protested his case.

"But I was hungry!" he whined meekly, grimacing as she tugged harder on his already much abused ear.

"To his defense, they were really good sandwiches," Harry interjected, stating his opinion, however unwanted. His only reply was a glare from both of his best friends.

Hermione's rant resumed, echoing down the corridors and reaching the ears of many a student as she hauled Ron onwards by the ear. His back was beginning to ache with the effort of leaning over at an odd angle as well as running to keep up with her break-neck pace. With her free hand, Hermione glanced down at her watch. "Five minutes late! Five minutes!"

"It's Hagrid! He'll let it slide!" Ron pleaded, letting a small "ouch!" escape when she yanked especially hard.

"Snape wouldn't even let Malfoy get away with five minutes!" Hermione cried, letting go of Ron's ear quite abruptly. Standing up and clutching his injured ear before she could change her mind and grab it once again, he stared at his friend.

"Geez, Hermione! You've got one hell of a pinch!" Rubbing his ear as if to assure himself it was still in one piece, his face began to redden. Harry, having spent many a year in both their company, recognized the first sign of Ron's unstoppable temper and stepped in before a fight could begin. Clamping a hand soundly over his friend's mouth, he stopped him before another spectacular row could ensue.

"Look, we're nearly outside. Let's forgive and forget, shall we?" He cast Hermione an imploring look and removed his hand from Ron's mouth as they stepped onto Hogwarts' grassy green grounds.

Immediately, the tension within the trio lessened. The weather was far too beautiful to stay mad at each other for long or consider anger. It was late spring, but it felt as though it were summertime. Even Hermione, for all of her temper, couldn't help but smile as the sunshine hit her face.

Trying to remain cross and failing miserably, Hermione muttered something that sounded like "better move, class has started" and began to stride across the field toward Hagrid's hut. When they arrived, however, there was no Hagrid to be seen. Their class, a mix of Gryffindors and Slytherins, were mingled in two distinctly separate groups, attentively looking up at the only professor present—McGonagall.

Raising a cool eyebrow at the three well-known troublemakers that were approaching, she motioned for them to hurry. "I was beginning to wonder if you three were planning on showing up!" she huffed, unfortunately missing the moment where Hermione turned to glower at Ron. "Care of Magical Creatures has been cancelled for the day."

A general murmur of confusion broke out among the students (with the exception of Ron's lone cry of "I could have had another sandwich!"). "Why?" one of them called out.

McGonagall shook her head. "He had an accident this morning with a particularly vicious animal." More questions arose, but she dismissed them with a wave of her hand. "I cannot give you specifics. Professor Hagrid will return tomorrow, and he will tell you then. This was your double period wasn't it?" They nodded in agreement. "Well then, it looks as though you have the rest of the day off then."

A rousing cheer erupted from the Gryffindors and Slytherins, and they quickly left the area in front of Hagrid's hut to pursue more promising activities. Harry turned to his two best friends, thankful that their moods had improved. "What do you guys want to do?" he asked. Hermione didn't bother answering; what was the point? They wouldn't want to study for the ever-looming NEWTS, or read, or do anything she felt like doing. Rolling her eyes, she gave them both of them a pat on the shoulder.

"Go play Quidditch. I'll be fine," she said, laughing lightly at their looks of relief.

Trying to make amends, Ron shouldered his pride. "It's okay, Hermione. We can stay and," he gulped, "study with you."

Shaking her head in amusement at Ron's quite blatantly reluctant generosity, she gave them both a push back toward Hogwarts. "Go on. Get your brooms. Maybe I'll come down and watch you guys play later."

After several more reassurances that she would be fine for an hour or two on her own, she watched her two best friends head back toward the castle. She couldn't tell for sure, but it sounded as if they'd begun a stirring rendition of "Weasley Is Our King".

Turning toward the grounds, Hermione sighed contentedly. For as much as she loved her best friends, it was nice to have some alone time, especially on such a day! A calm breeze stirred around her, urging her to stay outside instead of heading towards the common room or the library. Surrendering to its lulling charm, Hermione headed toward a tree that had an abundant amount of shade.

Setting her things on the grass beside her, Hermione removed her robes and placed them on the ground. Smoothing them out, she perched herself on them, legs crossed demurely in front of her. Rooting through her bag, she retrieved the novel she'd been reading and opened it to her place.

Completely immersed in the story, she did not even notice when someone approached her. They had cleared their throat twice before she even looked up. And even then, she didn't quite like what she saw. Draco Malfoy, pureblood extraordinaire, was staring down at her condescendingly.

"Can I help you?" she asked, her question polite but her tone impatient. She was quite disappointed when he did not catch her belied meaning of "go away, now."

"May I sit?"

Draco Malfoy, a boy who had tortured her for years, was asking to sit next to her? She stared at him, incredulous. "There are plenty of other trees, Malfoy," she stated flatly, eyes flickering back to her book.

"True, Granger. But this one is positioned perfectly," he replied, his tone and gaze unwavering.

Sighing heavily, Hermione realized that her classmate had no intention of letting her finish her book. Tapping a finger against the cover, she said monotonously, "What do you mean?"

"This tree is precisely angled to receive the most shade, and with my delicate complexion, it's terribly important I sit somewhere out of the sun," he drawled, gesturing for her to move out of his way. "So shove over."

Head snapping up at his rude tone, she decided at that moment that she would not budge an inch. "Somewhere out of the sun, you say?" She questioned innocently. He nodded warily. "Then why don't you try inside Hogwarts?"

Ignoring her cold statement, he shrugged. "It's a beautiful day outside, but with my—"

"—delicate complexion. Yes, I'm aware." Setting her book aside and sending it a look of extreme longing, she continued, "Look, Malfoy, I'm sure your skin will be safe from UV rays under some other tree."

"What rays?"

Sighing exasperatedly, she made a motion as if to shoo him away. "Just leave, won't you?"

Malfoy shook his head. "Why don't you just move to another tree?"

"Because I was here first!"

"How about a compromise, a truce, of sorts. I'll take the tree now, and you can have it later." In her opinion, he looked at her a little too earnestly.

She rolled her eyes at him. "In your dreams, Malfoy."

"Well what if—"


"But what—"

"No, Malfoy. The answer is no. For now until forever. I will never relinquish my seat for the sake of your sensitive skin!" The words exploded from her mouth before she had time to stop herself. Normally, she would have apologized immediately for such an outburst, yet she noticed Malfoy seemed completely unaffected.

"Okay, but what if—"

"Has anyone ever mentioned to you that you're incredibly persistent?"

Making a noise of extreme annoyance, Draco threw his hands in the air. "Am I allowed to complete one sentence?"

Hermione smiled smugly. "Yes, but there is a one a day limit. It appears, seeing as you just said one, that your quota has been filled." She looked mock-upset, "Why don't you try again tomorrow?"

Glaring at her with all his might, Draco spoke through gritted teeth. "Might I propose another truce?"

Hermione leaned forward, intrigued. "Go on."

"If you let me have the shade, I'll be nice to you."

Snorting in quite an unladylike fashion, Hermione shook her head. "Pathetic! You would think if you were trying to bribe me properly, you'd at least think of something more appealing!"

Draco continued glowering, his hatred intensifying. He did not enjoy being insulted. "Oh, yeah? Well, what do you propose then, Miss Know-It-All?"

Taken aback, Hermione pondered his statement. She needed to think of something that he wouldn't do, even with all of his Slytherin ambition. She needed something so brilliant that it would send him away from her and let her return to her quiet afternoon with a good book. All of a sudden, it came to her. She brightened, and looked up at him.

"Kiss me," she declared, taking in his look of horror with a private glee.

Disgusted, Draco shook his head. "I cannot believe you'd stoop so low, Granger."

She shrugged, trying to mask her giddiness at the thought of him leaving. She was so excited that she didn't notice him kneeling down and leaning toward her until it was too late. Realizing his intentions, she tried to cry "No!"

Unfortunately, she only got the 'n' sound out. His lips covered hers for a split second before he pulled away tersely.

Hermione was the first to admit that she hadn't kissed a lot of boys in her lifetime. There were occasionally affectionate pecks on the cheek with Harry and Ron, and Viktor had kissed her, once upon a time. Yet even with her minimal experience, she knew enough to know that the kiss she had just received hadn't been anything special. It was the kind of kiss you gave your grandmother when she came to visit. Short. Bland.

She was wholly unimpressed.

Raising an eyebrow, Hermione said cheekily, "Don't do that often, huh Malfoy?"

Draco glared harder to compensate for the growing color on his cheeks. "A deal is a deal, Granger. So shove off."

Nodding, Hermione granted his request. Picking up her backpack and novel, she stood. Then she walked two feet to the left and sat down once again. Opening her book, she ignored Draco's bewildered stare.

"Granger! You promised you would move!" he cried in outrage.

"And so I did." She pointed to the shady empty space beside her. "Yet after careful deliberation of your payment, I decided that that was exactly how much room your kiss was worth."

His anger faltered for a moment, giving way to disappointment. "Only two feet?"

"Perhaps," Hermione continued, "if you care to make a more worthy contribution..."

He sat down beside her, head resting against the bark of the tree. "There is no way I am kissing you again," he said decidedly. "I like my two feet just fine."

Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. . .obviously.

A/N: Cute fic in honor of Valentine's Day. Thanks to Aria for beta-ing!