Title: Misguided Sympathy
Rating: PG-13 for some cursing
Author's Note: Had a good time writing this fic… I hope it is funny! Thanks to my beta for getting this to me so quickly.
Summary: An earth-shattering conversation with Draco Malfoy makes Hermione see the errors of her ways. Will the Slytherins and Gryffindors survive Hermione's kindness intact? Or will the spirit of Interhouse Cooperation triumph?
Disclaimer – I really don't own Harry Potter
The halls of Hogwarts at night were eerily silent at night. Apart from the occasional rustle of a painting, all was usually silent after curfew.
Except when the Gryffindors and Slytherins had patrol.
For some unfathomable reason, Dumbledore felt that the path to true Unity between the houses should be paved with the pain Gryffindors and Slytherins. Because of this new policy, the Gryffindor and Slytherin Prefects were together on patrol. Consistently.
The Boy-Who-Lived finally killed Voldemort late in his sixth year. Then he burned the body. And put enough wardings on the ashes to keep him from conveniently rising from the dead. Again.
So, as all was safe and cozy at Hogwarts, one would expect that the fierce interhouse rivalries would diminish, and everyone would live happily ever after.
Many of the Slytherins had surprisingly turned against their parents and fought for the light. Or, if putting their necks on the line wasn't exactly their thing, they stayed neutral in the inevitable battle. They went to school with the Boy-Who-Just-Wouldn't-Die, and saw him in action on a regular basis. Voldemort didn't stand a chance. So, as all good Slytherins should, they backed the winner. (Rule #7, Slytherin Handbook)
But that didn't mean that they liked it.
So, as a result of Perfect Potter forcing their hands, they went about making the lives of all the other students in Hogwarts as miserable as possible.
Not that anyone expected anything less, really. They were Slytherins after all.
Unsurprisingly, it was the obligatory contact of the Prefects that caused the most conflict. Forced civility could get very ugly, very quickly.
Between one Head Girl, Hermione Granger and one Seventh Year Prefect Draco Malfoy, the arguments were particularly bad. Although Ronald Weasley and Pansy Parkinson's shouting matches were legendary, Draco and Hermione had insulting each other down to a fine art. A ballet of obscenities, it was almost a required study for all Gryffindor and Slytherin First Years, just to see how interhouse relations were supposed to be conducted.
Both agile and quick on the uptake, it was also funny as hell to watch.
On this particular night, soon after the Christmas Hols, Hermione and Draco were, once again, assigned to patrol together.
"… and whatever is the matter with your hair Malfoy? You must have used enough to bleach to clean a small country to get it to turn that horrid color."
"As if you are entitled to talk about hair! That rat's nest of yours looks like it hasn't been combed since second year. And my hair is perfectly natural, thank you very much."
Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger were walking closely together down the deserted charms corridor. Together, they actually made a striking picture with their complementary coloring and heights. Neither were breathtakingly beautiful, Draco's features too pointed for true beauty, Hermione's a little too plain. Still, together they seemed to make something more than they were individually.
Hexes on the poor sap who told them, though.
"…So just because they aren't human they don't have rights? They don't have feelings? You are the most prejudiced, sneaky little ferret I have ever had the displeasure to meet." After this bold statement, Hermione turned around to look said sneaky ferret straight in his gray eyes, bracing herself for his attack.
When it came, it was surprisingly mild. "You know, you are quite prejudiced and judgmental yourself."
Bristling like Crookshanks after having been rubbed the wrong way, Hermione's dark eyes snapped. "I am not! I want equality and fair treatment for all people and creatures, which is more than I can say for you Malfoy." As she spoke, she seemed to wrap her dignity around her like a cloak, looking like a tiny wild-haired queen.
Draco leisurely settled his slim frame against the cold, stone wall. He studied her angry face impassively for a moment before calmly stating his case. "Consider this: as soon as a student is sorted into Slytherin, they are an outsider. Discriminated against by your own precious rules, in your own precious school, under the blind eyes of your own precious Dumbledore."
Now his face didn't look so impassive. He looked downright scary. "An eleven year old child with no idea what is happening is feared, loathed, by the other houses and professors. Now tell me Granger, is that fair?"
His gray eyes gazed intently into her wide, dark eyes for a moment, searching for something known only to him. Seemingly satisfied, he walked back down the corridor in the direction of the dungeons, cloak whirling dramatically, leaving a very confused girl in his wake.
He had done the impossible. He had left Hermione Granger speechless.
At breakfast the next morning, Hermione was abstracted. This was not an unusual occurrence, but it usually did not occur until later in the term. She was not consulting her day-planner, was not reading the Daily Prophet, and more importantly, was not paying one bit of attention to her friends.
After watching her poke listlessly at the eggs on her plate with her fork and miss, making a screeching noise for the third time in five minutes, Harry grew concerned enough to comment.
"Erhm, Hermione, are you alright?"
Harry thought it was prudent to try again. "Hermione? Hermione, are you listening?"
When all the response he got was a muttered statement about elves and evil snakes, he thought it was a good idea to leave her alone for a while.
Hermione had been in deep thought. Deep thought. The kind that distracts from all other silly trivialities of life. (Such as those frivolous things like eating, sleeping and bathing) It wasn't often that her highly logical and organized mind turned in on itself to the extent that she forgot something important, and for some inane reason they mostly revolved around one twitchy ferret. (Missing Charms after The Slapping Incident sprung to mind)
This time around, she was in her stupor for about a week, instead of an afternoon. (Her roommates and friends were so kind as to direct her to do those silly things like eating, sleeping, and bathing. They were quite used to it by this point.) During class, at mealtimes, in the library, by the lake, her mind was fixated on the conversation with Draco.
Was she really prejudiced?
She had thought she was perfectly fair and unbiased towards all people/creatures/sentient plants/whatever that existed.
Shockingly naive of her, really.
Had she ever thought of the Slytherins as potential friends? Had she ever seen them as anything other than slimy, evil, and sneaky?
And she was ashamed.
So, as it became time for her to patrol again with the boy who had inspired her revolutionary epiphany, she slowly came out of her deep thoughts.
As they walked through the dim corridors, Hermione was uncharacteristically quiet, and Draco was distinctly uncomfortable at her change of temperament. He tried the usual insults- her hair, teeth, her general know-it-all annoying manner, but nothing seemed to get a response.
It was quite odd.
So they continued in awkward silence.
As they were breaking up to head back to their respective dorms, Hermione suddenly turned and grabbed his arm. Startled, an electrical thrill running up Draco's arm at the contact, he looked into her shadowed eyes.
Intrigued by their uncharacteristic softness, he almost missed her quiet words, "Do you… Do you really feel that way about what you said last week?"
Looking at her earnest expression, he thought she looked really pretty when she wasn't angry.
Taken aback by his wayward thoughts, he eloquently said, "Uh, yeah."
Hermione's slim, arched brows furrowed in a thoughtful look and then she walked away without a response.
He might have heard her say, "I thought so…"
At breakfast the next morning, Hermione was in her element. As it was unusual for Hermione to be as bubbly as a Third Year Hufflepuff, especially with her recent behavior, she garnered the undivided attention of her friends.
Regaling a story of how Crabbe had set fire to Snape's Robes in NEWT-level Potions, Ron was almost purple from laughter, and the others weren't far behind.
Recovering first, Harry leaned forward towards Hermione and said, "Well, Hermione, I'm glad you're back. What were you thinking about this time? More plans to take over the world?"
Hermione smiled at his teasing, took a sip of her tea and said lightly, "I am in an especially good mood this morning. Always am after a particularly productive night."
Ron, interested, spoke around bits of his breakfast. "Whot 'bout?"
Tsking slightly at his lack of manners, but otherwise ignoring the disgusting sight, Hermione just grinned and said, "I am starting a new Society of Students to promote Interhouse Unity between the Slytherins and the rest of the houses. And, from careful observation, I think the relations between all the houses could be much improved. Slytherin is simply the house that stands out as the root of the issue."
Ron promptly spat out his pumpkin juice.
Ignoring the disgusted sputtering of Neville (who was unfortunately sitting across from him) he sputtered, "Are you bloody mad?" turning to Harry, he said, "Is she serious? Tell me she's joking."
"S.I.C.K., or more precisely, the Society for Interhouse Cooperation and Kindness is not a joke Ronald Weasley." Hermione crossed her arms defensively, "The first meeting is tonight… will you come?"
Not noticing her hopeful question, Ron had latched onto the name and ignored the rest of her words. He looked at Harry, Neville, and Ginny and then promptly burst out laughing. "Sick?" Barely getting out the words in between bursts of laughter (and Hermione's protests that her society was not called sick but S.I.C.K.), he nudged Harry in the ribs, "Oi mate, did you hear that?"
Harry and Neville had a bit more tact than Ron. Which meant that they were turning red from trying to hold back their laughter. Instead, Neville (when he had control over himself) turned to Hermione, who was looking at Ron with an expression of hurt on her face. "Um, Hermione… You are trying to recruit members aren't you?"
Ron cut off whatever Neville was going to say, "Than just why did you pick such a bloody stu…" Whatever he was going to say was cut off by the timely application of his lovely little sister's hand to his mouth.
Ginny, now holding both hands over the lips of a protesting Ron, spoke instead. "What my dear, dear, elder brother means to say is that once again Hermione, we are all astounded by the way you have with words. Especially Acronyms."
Hermione smiled faintly, but her eyes remained determined and hard. When breakfast was over, she quickly took up a stack of posters and told her friends that she was going to put them in the common rooms. No one protested.
The silly idea was bound to fail anyway. Just look at S.P.E.W.
Tired of Interhouse Rivalry? Want to make new friends? Come to the first meeting of the Society of Interhouse Cooperation and Kindness! Tonight, 7PM in the Room of Requirement – refreshment provided!
A few weeks passed with no troubles for the Slytherins and Gryffindors. Rivalry was still strong, hatred was still in the air, and everyone was happy in their separate worlds. If a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were acting friendlier towards each other, who cared? That was their business.
If there were more students with cheerily colored buttons declaring- Join S.I.C.K. and Join the Future! Or, End the S.I.C.K.ness Between the Houses! -Well, most of them were younger students anyway.
Or so they tried to tell themselves.
But more and more students were going to the meetings. And they weren't all silly Hufflepuffs and fair-minded Ravenclaws.
And more and more, the older Slytherins and Gryffindors were growing concerned that the boundaries of their comfortable hatred were being encroached on by the forces of Lovey-Dovey Togetherness.
When Pansy Parkinson and Ronald Weasley broke up a heated snogging session between a Fifth Year Slytherin and Gryffindor in the dungeons after curfew, they knew it had gone too far. These were students who should know better.
It had to be stopped.
Hence, The Unholy Alliance was formed.
A/N: I am totally pissed. For some reason, posted Chapter one of 'So Mote it Be' in place of the first chapter of this story. Argh. So very sorry if anyone was confused. Here is the real chapter.