TITLE:  Four-leaf Clovers and Slytherin Dragonflies

SUMMARY:  Sent on an errand in the Forbidden Forest, Hermione discovers a secret.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  For Wickedwitch, on her birthday.  Blessed Birthday, Wicked!  You're a blessing to dhr fandom!

DISCLAIMER:  This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended

Four-leaf Clovers and Slytherin Dragonflies

Hermione trudged along the path towards the clearing she knew about in the Forbidden Forest.  It was already mid-Spring, and the rich forest colours were combating with the equally rich loamy scents of warm earth.

It was just her luck to be sent on such an errand, when she could have been cloistered cosily in her favourite spot at the library, studying for the NEWTs, which were only three months away.  Hermione grimaced at her lot and continued on her way through the forest.

An hour earlier, she was visiting Professor McGonagall for her fortnightly Sunday Tea with her Head of House.  She'd always look forward to spending that hour in the professor's room, conversing and relaxing with the Professor about her duties as Head Girl, as well as seeking guidance and advice whenever she felt the need; whether it be for schoolwork problems or relationship difficulties.  Her professor had become more than just a beloved teacher, Professor McGonagall had become like a surrogate mother to the muggleborn girl, especially during the times where Hermione's own mother had difficulties understanding her wizarding aspirations. 

Hermione's fortnightly Sunday Tea with Professor McGonagall began in her sixth year as a monthly Sunday Tea, when she was marked as understudy to the Head Girl.  As part of her Headship training, Hermione had to be trained in three key areas to help her carry out her office: as events organiser, a peer support leader, and an ambassador of Hogwarts.  Events planning came easily to Hermione, who had planning, budgeting and time management down to an Art from her study schedules beginning her first year at Hogwarts.  Likewise, Hermione's training in supporting her peers, conflict management and counselling, only boosted her natural empathetic nature so that she was more effective as a person to whom the students already approach with their problems.

It was only in her role as an ambassador for Hogwarts that caused her a few problems initially, as she had to learn the social etiquette required for attending High Wizard functions, which she might be called upon to represent the school.  It was not unheard of for the Head pupils to represent Hogwarts at international wizarding conferences for students, and being muggleborn, Hermione had to be schooled in the finer points of Small Talk, Deportment, Dress Code and Ballroom Dance, since at these functions she might have to meet Very Important Wizards like Ambassadors or Ministers.

Despite the rigors of her Head Girl training, Hermione undertook all her lessons with great enthusiasm, for she had always enjoyed learning new things, and the lessons provided her an opportunity to know more about the society in which she hoped to continue living in.  However, since the start of the New Year, her Sunday Teas were less about lessons in Headship, and more about sharing her week with her favourite surrogate mum.

She was just revealing to Professor McGonagall about how she felt when she discovered that the awful Valentine singing telegram she'd gotten in February was actually from Neville, when Madam Pomfrey interrupted their tea and asked if the Head Girl could possibly make a trip down to the clover patch in the Forbidden Forest to look for a Four-leaf clover.  Apparently, the Infirmary ran out of that rare ingredient, which was essential to cure the magically induced hiccups of a second-year student.  Madam Pomfrey had expressed that since both Professor Snape and Professor Sprout were away at a Potions Ingredients Convention that Sunday, she wasn't able to access their personal stores, and would Hermione be a dear and look for one in the Forest's Clover Patch?

Not one to shirk her duties, and certainly not willing to disappoint her favourite teacher who was looking at her, she had cheerfully agreed to the task.  Now trudging her way through the quiet, narrow path, she was rethinking whether it was a good idea for her to be out of the castle alone.  Certainly, Hermione could have dragged either Harry or Ron along with her on this trip – if only she knew where exactly the boys were.  She had little doubt that the duo would be on their brooms zooming high above the Quidditch pitch, enjoying the mild weather.  They surely would not have thought to study for the up-coming NEWTs, she frowned.

Turning right at the fork in the path, she whispered the de-scenting charm, the silencio charm and the obfuscation charm in quick succession to avoid detection by the forest's magical creatures.  Clutching her wand tightly, she continued on the path towards the clover patch.

Hermione reached the edge of the clover patch and sighed.  Yes, this unexpected trip to go searching for the rare Four-leaf clover was a bother, but the scene that lay before her was picturesque, and very much worth the trek.  The clover patch – more a large field than a patch – was shimmering with a bright, fresh green, dotted here and there with bright multi-hued spring flowers.  The March sun beamed down its warmth and sunshine, highlighting the aliveness of the pastoral scene.  The air was humming with the buzz of bees, and Hermione could hear the soft chirping of birds hidden in the trees surrounding the clover patch.  The air was heavy with the perfume of nature's fresh greenery, and Hermione took a deep lungful of it appreciatively.

Fine.  So it was not too bad an assignment she had unwittingly 'volunteered' for.  It could be worse – Pomfrey could have wanted help with hospital bedpans.  Hermione shook her head at that thought and lifted her wand.  No wait – it really could be worse: she could have been told to look for a Four-leaf clover without the use of magic!  Hermione snorted in amusement at that thought.

Even in a magical forest, Four-leaf clovers were not as common as one would think.  In a clover patch of this size, there would be only about four or five such clovers in the field.  Fortunately, with a 'Point Me' spell, the nearest Four-leaf clover could easily be found.

With her wand laying flat on her outstretched palm, Hermione concentrated on a picture of a Four-leaf clover in her mind.  "Point me," she whispered, knowing that despite the spells to hide herself from the forest's denizens, there might be creatures which might still be able to see her.

The wand in her hand spun wildly like a compass, before resting with its tip pointed to the west, in the direction of a pond where she helped Professor Sprout gather magical water hyacinths in her sixth year.  Following the wand's lead, she knew she was getting closer to the elusive clover then the wand tip began glowing purple.  'Not far now,' she thought with glee, 'another 5 metres or more.'

"Oh!" she gasped faintly.

There, sprawled not far away from the pond, was a Hogwarts boy asleep on the soft ground.  Books, quills and parchments were strewn around him.  It was obvious that the student had taken advantage of the mild March weather to study outdoors, away from the usual noisy Sunday activities back at the castle.  The lazy afternoon, the warm sun, and drone of the overhead dragonflies and bees must have lulled him to sleep.

Silently, Hermione approached the student, who was facing away from her.  Hermione noted the boy's tall lanky form, – 'Must be an Upper Form student, then,' she deduced; his short blonde hair, and on closer inspection, the Slytherin green piping on his black Hogwarts uniform robes.

'No,' Hermione's heart sank, 'why does it always have to be him?'

Just then, a green dragonfly lighted on the boy's hair, no doubt attracted by its glinting in the sunlight.  Despite her feelings of enmity towards the boy, Hermione broke into a wry smile.  She had never seen Malfoy in such peaceful repose.

The first dragonfly was quickly joined by another green one, their silver wings reflecting the sunlight.  Hermione bit back a chuckle.  How she wished she had Colin Creevy's camera at hand!

'It figures,' she mused, 'the Slytherin dragon would attract Slytherin dragonflies.  Dragons of a feather, stick together?'  Shaking her head at that incongruous thought, she grinned – 'Really Hermione, feathers?  Dragons?  Hmm… Dragons… of leather?  No, that's not right either—'

Made playful by the wordplay in her mind, she took some time looking at the open books on the ground.  No, she was not spying… she was just curious – yes, that was it – curious about how her academic rival was getting on.  Flipping through his notes, she realised with a start that Malfoy was ahead of her in terms of revision!  Oh no!  She really needed to get her mission accomplish quickly so that she could put in some study time in the library!

Straightening up, she whispered to her wand again, "Point me."  This time, a glowing purple light shot out of her wand in an arc, landing just a few centimetres from the Slytherin's head.

Hermione groaned softly.  Just her luck!  Why couldn't the wand point to some other clover?  Why should this be the nearest clover to her?  Pouting with displeasure, she knew it was futile to try casting the location spell again – her wand would merely point to the clover by Malfoy's head.

Briefly, Hermione considered using Accio, but she rejected the idea immediately – Accio only worked on objects that were not glued, or in this case, rooted down.  Maybe… Wingardium Leviosa?  No – the first spell she'd mastered in Professor's Flitwick's class was not a good idea either, it ran on the same principle as Accio, she sighed.

It looked like she had little choice – she needed to pick the clover without magic.  She huffed in frustration, flicking her untidy hair off her face.

Stealthily, she knelt by the sleeping boy.  A warm breeze swept over the couple, lifting Malfoy's golden fringe off his forehead.  The dragonflies took off with the breeze and their buzzing stirred the boy a little.

Hermione froze.  How would Malfoy react on waking to see her so close to him?  She wouldn't put it past him to hex her, and there in the forest, no one could hear her scream!  Then again, her sense of fair play reminded her, Malfoy had never consciously hexed her despite their many altercations with each other.  That one time with the teeth enlargement spell he had cast, was not meant for her.  In fact, it was she who had slapped him in their fourth year, and he had never retaliated against her for that.

Malfoy moved a little, but settled back down to sleep.

Tempted to brush his errant lock away, Hermione looked instead into the unrecognisable face of her nemesis.  She had never looked at him in such close proximity before.  She noted the dark crescent of his eyelashes against his cheeks.  His cheeks she saw, held a pinkish glow of health, in an otherwise pale porcelain smooth face.  Her eye traced the small mole just below his right eye, which, instead of marring his features, enhanced it, giving his face an interesting focal point, near what she thought were his best feature – his mercurial eyes which were currently closed.

In sleep, he looked vulnerable and carefree.   There was a boyish innocence on his face that she had never seen on his face.  Looking back, she found to her surprise, she had never seen Malfoy laughed in pleasure, or smiled sincerely.  He had always looked guarded, with either a frown or a sneer on his face.  He was always alert to his surrounding, as if afraid that one slip of his carefully pieced façade would result in Slytherin anarchy, or a loss of his position on the Slytherin hierarchy.  No wonder he had to retreat all the way into the Forbidden Forest for time alone – time where he could just be himself; whoever himself was.

Feeling a sudden tingle, she knew that the spells she cast earlier was lifted; and the tingle alerted her that she had spent too long wool-gathering about the sleeping boy.  Shaking her head, she looked around the area her wand demarcated, and she saw the Four-leaf clover she needed.  Hermione stretched herself gingerly to pick the clover and quickly pocketed it, not realising that her unruly hair tickled the boy's face.

Hovering over him, she heard it - a warm sigh, "Herrrmione."

The single word was followed by a deep inhalation – his; for she held her breath… 'In fear?  In shock?  Definitely in confusion,' her subconscious told her – for after breathing her in, Malfoy's face broke into a gentle smile.

She was confounded.  Never had she heard her name passed his lips – much less in such a tone or manner.  Never had she ever heard her name spoken by anyone in such a tone or manner, for that matter!  She felt a shiver of something – Anticipation?  Curiosity?  Excitement?  That delicious shiver travelled down to her toes, and she looked at the Slytherin much like how she viewed Professor Snape's Potion Puzzle that first year she was at Hogwarts with Harry – a challenge that she needed to conquer, to understand and to work through.

It was his fluttering eyelids that warned her that Malfoy was waking soon.  Quickly, she cast the 'Sleep-wake' spell; a nifty spell she was taught last year by Molly Weasley, who was taking care of Bill's two-year-old.  The 'Sleep-wake' skewed the recipient's sensory perception, causing him to believe that he was still dreaming.  Cast on ickle John Weasley, it enabled the child to fall back asleep with minimum fuss.

"Hermione," Malfoy smiled gently, waking up to look into Hermione's eyes with his captivating quicksilver ones.

Hermione said naught a word, nervously returning his slight smile, her heartbeat speeding up.  Malfoy's uncharacteristic smile and proximity was doing the most bizarre things to her emotions and she willed the boy to fall back asleep soon.

Instead of complying, the boy began to sit up, one hand enclosing her waist, the back of his other brushing her cheeks intimately, tracing her face.

Hermione flushed, and looked down at her lap.

"Hermione," again, her name was on his lips; causing her to look up into his eyes – full of wonder, full of… of… longing?

Slowly, gently, softly, he moved his face close to the immobile girl, bestowing her a chaste kiss on her lips.  He moved back, gave her a warm smile, and tucked a lock of her wild hair behind her shoulder.

"You taste so sweet, Hermione," he smiled, "And smell so good.  You always have."

Hermione's eyelids were in danger of closing.  She felt as if she were in a dream, floating on a cloud; sharing said cloud with an angel.  She leant into Malfoy's hand, which came to rest on her cheek once more.

"I just wish that I don't only get to kiss you in dreams," there was that shy sincere smile that caused Hermione's heart to skip a beat.  "I wish for years I could tell you everything that's in my heart."

So still were they sitting, staring at each other that the Slytherin-hued dragonflies alighted upon them again; this time on Hermione's hair.  Flicking the emerald insects away, he whispered, "Even dragonflies are attracted to you, Hermione, how could this dragon resist you?"  A familiar, though gentler smirk crossed his face.

Still not saying a word, Hermione gently pushed an unresisting Malfoy back to the ground and gave into temptation to flip his stubborn lock back into place.  Stroking his soft, silky hair, she lulled the boy back into sleep once more.

When Malfoy's breathing evened out, Hermione carefully stood up and moved away from the sleeping dragon.

"Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus, indeed," a smile grew on Hermione's face.  Light-hearted, feeling rejuvenated and bright and happy, Hermione wanted to laugh, to run with arms open wide.  She was giddy with delight.  After re-casting the spells to ensure she was hidden from the forest creatures, she ran back to the castle, face aglow with a wonderful secret.

*^*^*

It was the last day of her education at Hogwarts.  Voldemort was defeated by Harry just two weeks before.  NEWTs was over, and the students' bags were packed.  They were now in the Great Hall partaking of the Leaving Feast – Hermione's final meal at Hogwarts as a student.

Hermione looked up and gave a bittersweet smile at her two best friends.  In the end, the fighting came down to only Harry and Voldemort, and like the prophecy went, Harry survived, and Voldemort didn't.  The triumph was made sweeter by the fact that no one died.  The Death Eaters did not fight; instead, they had sent their Goliath to war with Hogwarts' David.  And just like the story, David triumphed, and the victors routed their enemies.

The greatest surprise that confrontation was Slytherin House.  As one, the entire House stood behind Dumbledore, showing a united Hogwarts front against the enemy at the gate.  The stand shown by the members of the Snake House shocked both faculty and students alike that school morale was at an all time high; likewise inter-House unity and co-operation.

Hermione looked down at the feast spread before her, and she suddenly noticed a light blue box by her plate.  Picking it up, she saw her name written on the box, with a note of congratulations for graduating.  Looking around the Great Hall, she couldn't see anything looking in her direction, so she didn't know who had given her that gift.

Shrugging, she lifted the lid.  Nestled inside, was a pair of silver ear-studs in the shape of dragonflies in green, and a delicate chain of three Slytherin dragonflies charm.  Her eyes instantly sought out the pair of silver-grey eyes that made her heart flutter since that March day.  Malfoy was quietly looking at her, an inscrutable smile upon his face.

Perhaps now, she might reveal the delicious secret that she had kept silent in the light of all that seventh year at Hogwarts brought.  Perhaps now, it was time to think of herself and her own happiness; now that she was on the threshold of independence and the darkness that plagued her world was no more.  Perhaps now, she would be able to attempt to solve the enigma of the wizard who had been haunting her dreams with kisses so light and chaste; kisses that always left her hungry for more.

Whatever it was, now, at the end of her seventh year, the time was perfect for possibilities.

Perhaps she ought to thank Pomfrey for sending her on that hunt for Four-leaf clovers.  It certainly brought her something more than luck.

The End

A/N:

draco dormiens nunquam titillandus – Hogwarts School Motto:  Never tickle a sleeping dragon.