New story, hooray! Don't expect this one to be lengthy either; I'm just having fun at the moment until I can get the energy to write a really good, deep fanfic. Still, I hope you enjoy it, just for a giggle. Not set in any specific timeline, and any details will of course be AU.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own this. If I did own this, you could be certain some people would still be alive, if you get my drift!
It was another of those freakishly warm days at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not really stifling, but hot enough for students to be pardoned from wearing their robes and heavy woolen jumpers. The hot lunches usually served at lunch were replaced with icy cold Pumpkin juice, salad sandwiches and packets of Ice Mice for after. None of the students seemed to find any of these changes a problem. In fact, many of them were taking full advantage of the rare leniency they were receiving in regards to their dress.
But, as always, there was one black sheep who preferred to stick out.
Harry Potter sighed and flopped down in the seat beside his best friend, Hermione Granger, and instantly seized a pitcher of Pumpkin juice.
"Whoa, stifling today eh?" he said airily, pouring himself a good helping.
Hermione, who had not had a bite of her chicken and salad roll, simply Hmm'd in answer, her eyes not wavering from the books and parchment laid out in front of her.
He looked at her and frowned. "Hermione, its lunchtime."
"I'm aware of the time, thank you, Harry." She said, jotting down notes on her large piece of parchment.
"Then you'd know that when it's Lunchtime, the normal thing to do is to do a little thing we call 'eating'." He said, rolling up his shirt sleeves.
She sighed irritably, looking up only to give him a quick, reproachable look. "I can't eat lunch."
"Sure you can. See, you just open your mouth and put food in there, and then you start chewing…"
Hermione shot him a glare. "Your sarcasm is very unwanted at the moment."
Harry smiled at her. "I'm just teasing. What's all this, then?" he asked, leaning against her shoulder and peering down at her notes. Her perfect, slanted handwriting took up nearly every inch of the parchment.
"Revision for Charms – something you could be doing." She said, giving him a look.
"Exams aren't for another four months." He sighed, going back to his meal. They had done this dance many times in the past, and always with the same outcome.
"That's hardly the point, now is it?" she bristled, going back to her homework. "If you studied it all now, then you wouldn't have to cram at the end of the year, trying to remember everything. You know, there have been studies conducted about revision, and the results say that if you revise your work the night you get it, you'll remember it more easily down the track than simply cramming ten minutes before a test."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, and other studies have showed that if you don't eat your lunch, you'll pass out. Now eat something, will you?" he laughed, shoving a plate in front of her.
She sighed and rubbed her eyes. "I'm fine, really." She said, pushing the plate away.
Harry pushed it back in front of her and plucked the quill out of her hand. "Humor me." He said seriously, giving her a look.
Hermione watched his face for a moment, before finally relenting. "Oh alright. Maybe the break will help me concentrate better." She said, reaching for some food.
"That wasn't really me intention, but it'll do." chuckled Harry, digging into his own meal.
The two of them continued to eat on content silence for a while longer, neither really feeling the need to fill up the silence with pointless small-talk. They had been friends for far too long to feel any sort of discomfort in lengthy silences.
And besides, it was rude to talk with your mouth full.
After a few minutes of content silence, Harry and Hermione both looked up at the sound of two very familiar voices become louder and louder as they approached the Gryffindor Table.
"…dressing like that! What would the teachers say?"
"They said we could dress like this, Ron! It's hot, for Merlin's sake!"
"Not hot enough to be wearing practically nothing, though! Look at you, Ginny! Cant you put a robe on or something?"
"I am hot, Ronald. Incase you didn't notice, the girl uniform has always been a skirt and shirt. I'm not breaking any rules!"
"It's not what you're wearing; it's how you're bloody wearing it! Harry, back me up here!"
Ron and Ginny sat down across from Harry and Hermione, Ron looking very upset and Ginny looking insulted. Ginny was, indeed, wearing the uniform as she had always done. She had simply unbuttoned a few buttons near the collar, shortened her skirt a little and rolled her sleeves up.
Harry cleared his throat and blinked, realizing he was staring. "No, she looks fine."
"The hell she does!" snapped Ron, quite obviously annoyed that Harry was not taking his side. "Look at the state of this! Its ruddy ridiculous, parading around like some sort of…"
"What?" snapped Ginny, whirling on her brother and giving him a very deadly glare. "Like some sort of what?"
Ron swallowed, realizing now just how much danger he was in. "I was just…what I meant…"
"No, go on, say it." Growled Ginny, her eyes narrowed. "I dare you."
"What I meant to say,' said Ron loudly. "Was that why can't you just dress like…like…like Hermione?" he said, gesturing to his best friend across the table.
"I'll thank you not to bring me into this!" said Hermione, frowning at Ron.
Harry smiled to himself. Only Ron could have two of the feistiest girls at Hogwarts angry at him at the same time.
Ginny, as if only just realizing Hermione was there, forgot all about Ron for the moment and looked at her best friend in concern. "Hermione, aren't you boiling?"
Indeed, Hermione was dressed as if it were the middle of winter. She was still dressed immaculately in her uniform, her shirt buttons done right up and her tie secure around her neck. She had her Gryffindor robes over all of it and even had her hair out.
Hermione sighed and pushed away her empty plate, replacing it with her notes once more. "Perhaps, but that's no reason to discontinue setting a good example. You know, I'm Head Girl…"
"Really? We didn't know that." Muttered Ron sarcastically.
Hermione threw him a look. "…And it's bad enough the students wear their uniforms they way they do, even when they aren't overheated."
"But, we have permission to dress like this." Said Ron, also now looking at Hermione as if she had gone mad.
"Which is a big change for you, isn't it?" she said.
"What's that meant to mean?"
"You always dress like a slob." She said, giving Ron a smile.
"I do not…"
"Hermione, really, you could get heat stroke or something." Said Harry, feeling hot just looking at her. "Maybe if you just took your robe off…"
"Honestly, I'm fine!" she laughed, giving them all a look. "I appreciate your concern, I do. But if I wasn't alright, I certainly wouldn't be silly enough not to do anything about it."
The other three looked a little doubtful, but said nothing about it to her.
Ginny shook her head and smiled, getting herself a Pumpkin juice. "Really, Hermione, you're eighteen, not thirty. You're allowed to not be so proper all the time. Take a day off homework, dress more outgoing, let your hair down – or up, in this case. Honestly, how can you breathe under all that?"
Ron and Harry laughed. Not looking up from her work, Hermione simply smiled.
On the other side of the hall, the four Gryffindors had no idea how closely they were being watched as they joked. One single, solitary person sat eerily still, watching the Head Girl with an unbreakable determination.
"Can you believe her?" she said, her eyes narrowing. "I mean, really, Millie, look at her."
Millicent Bullstrode looked around, blinking. "What? Sorry, Pansy, I zoned out."
Pansy Parkinson sighed impatiently. "Do try and keep up, will you? I talking about Miss Perfect, the Gryffindor Mudblood queen sitting over there." She snapped, her eyes flashing.
Millicent rolled her eyes. "Oh, not Granger again? Honestly, don't you ever complain about anyone else?"
Pansy shook her head, her eyes locked on bushy hair. "No, no-one else gets to me the way she does."
Millicent looked at Pansy, picking nuts out of a bowl in front of her. It used to scare her a little, the way Pansy obsessed about Hermione Granger. She didn't know where it started, or why even. It was like her life's mission to attempt to make Granger's life as bad as she could. From right back when they first started school, all the way up to now. As a prefect, Pansy was deliberately antagonistic and disruptive, just so she could see Granger blow up in anger and irritation. When they had been forced together in potions, Pansy would try and sabotage whatever it was they had been working on, just so she could see Granger get upset and completely forgetting about her own marks.
But, now, Millicent was far too used to this part of Pansy to care or try and stop it. Because, after all, it was kind of amusing to see Granger crumble. The up-tight priss, who always did as she was told and never took a step out of line, was just too irresistible to prank and torment.
"Just look at her, sitting there, dressed up like the bloody Minister of Magic's coming at any moment." Sneered Pansy, running her fingernail around the rim of her goblet in slow circles. "Merlin forbid the girl show a bit of skin for once in her entire life."
"She must be boiling." Agreed Millicent, loosening the collar of her shirt. "Maybe it's a Mudblood thing."
"No, I don't see that Finch-Fletchley dressed up, or those Creevy dimwits." Said Pansy. She ran a hand through her hair and fanned herself, her eyes still locked on the Golden Trio and their newest Weasley tag-a-long. Oh, how she longed to break up their perfect little world. It was something she fantasized about often.
"Well, she's Head Girl." Said Millicent, shrugging her beefy shoulders.
Pansy shot her a look. "Thank you, I needed to be reminded about that."
"I'm just saying, maybe she thinks she has to act the part all the time, and to hell with what she wants or how she feels."
"Hmm,' sniffed Pansy, smirking and looking back at Granger. Potter must have just said something amusing, as the three baboons around her were all laughing…but, Granger not so much.
Maybe a part of what Millicent had said was true. Granger really did look stifling, and yet she was dressed immaculately in her full uniform and robes. Everything Granger did, it was to the fullest extent. She got tops marks in everything, was always the first to master any new spell the did in class, she constantly studied or had her nose in a book…did the girl even have time to sleep? She was always doing something, or if she wasn't, she was pushing herself into doing something more. What would happen if she stopped doing it for a week? If she just stopped worrying and did nothing? Most likely, she'd either combust from the effort, or would kill herself with the humiliation of her precious 'Know-it-all' reputation being ruined.
And Pansy's lip curled up into a smirk.
Millicent frowned at her friend. "Oh no, I know that look." She said, moving away a little. Pansy was smiling like a madwoman. "What are you planning now, then?"
"Meet me in the library after dinner tonight, and you'll find out."
And with one last smirk across at the Gryffindor, Pansy gathered up her books and headed off to prepare herself for her greatest prank ever.
After stacking her books in a neat pile beside her bed, Hermione then proceeded to fold her clothes that had just come back from the laundry, place them neatly in her trunk and sort them out in order for the next week. She then turned down her bed, fed Crookshanks his treats and opened the window for him if, by the slim chance, he wanted some air. It was rather warm up in the tower, after all.
Hermione straightened up from stacking up her socks and exhaled slowly, wiping beads of sweat away from her brow with the back of her sleeve. She felt a little lightheaded, but simply took it for standing up too fast.
She preened herself as she headed out of the room, straightening up her skirt, fixing her tie and smoothing out her windcheater. Adjusting the red badge on her robes, she paused at the top of the stairs and fanned her face.
Soon as rounds are over, it's a long cold bath for me. She thought, trying to banish the red from her face. I do hope this heat wave doesn't last all week!
Pulling herself together, she drew herself up importantly and marched the down into the common room. It was less of a hive of activity as it usually was, as people were either walking the corridors of the castle, beckoning a non-existent cool breeze from outside, or were up in their rooms. Being one of the higher parts of the castle, the tower was very warm indeed, and the fireplaces were thankfully dead.
But, predictably, there were still three familiar faces over by the window.
Ron looked up quickly from the chessboard between him and Harry as Hermione crossed over to him from the stairs. "What have I done now?" he asked, ignoring Harry's sniggers.
"We have rounds." Said Hermione, putting her hands on her hips.
Ron frowned and went back to the game. "No, you have rounds."
"No, we have rounds. I want you to help me tonight."
Hermione stared at him in horror. "Because, Ronald, you're a Prefect, and part of being a prefect means you have to participate in…"
"…supervising the students, doing weekly rounds, blah blah blah, Hermione, I've heard all this before." Said Ron flatly, moving his knight and taking Harry's pawn.
"Then you would also know,' she growled, her eyes narrowing. "That as Head Girl, I have the right to elect any prefect to assist me in any of these duties… and I'm electing you. And whether you like it or not, you're helping me."
Ron glared up at her. "But why me?"
"Because…' she stuttered, obviously a little thrown at this question.
Harry covered his mouth with his hand, trying desperately not to laugh at the two of them. Sometimes, they really were two of the daftest blighters he had ever met.
"Well…because I said, Ron! You cant just spend all your free time playing silly chess games, and seen as you're not doing anything productive like homework and studying or revising your class notes, assuming of course you actually have any…"
"Alright!" cried Ron standing up to his full height of 6'1. "God, you could nag a paraplegic into walking, you could."
Hermione smiled, looking satisfied. "Thank you, now hurry up."
"I'm coming, you Prefect Nazi. Shut up, Harry!" snapped Ron, walking out of the common room behind Hermione, a hunch to his shoulder.
Harry continued laughing to himself. He watched as Ginny moved over from the sofa to sit opposite him. "Is it just me, or do those two remind you of…"
"My mother and father?" offered Ginny with a grin. "Thank Merlin; I thought I was the only one who had spotted that."
"Rather pathetic, really."
"Oh stop it, they're cute." Giggled Ginny, crossing one leg over the other. She leaned back into her chair with a sigh and pulled her hair up away from her neck, enjoying the cool breeze.
Harry watched her out of the corner of his eye, knowing full well that he really shouldn't. The two of them hadn't really had a lot of time in the company of one another since they had broken up, and it was in moments like this, where there was no Ron or Hermione or anyone else to distract him, that Harry realized just how much he seemed to miss her. They were still friends if nothing else, but sometimes it took a little bit more effort for Harry to remember himself around her and not touch or hold her the way he used to.
Clearing his throat, Harry sat up straighter. "So, er…you wanna have a game?"
"You don't want to wait until Ron gets back?" she asked, letting her hair flop.
"Nah, knowing Hermione she'll want every nook and cranny of this castle checked before she feels satisfied – not to mention he's kicking my arse anyway."
Ginny laughed and nodded. "Sure, okay."
"I still don't see why I had to come with you."
"You were the only Prefect close enough to me at the time, and I didn't want to go scouring the castle for everyone else!"
"Why couldn't you ask Ernie to do it with you? You only saw him at dinner."
"Ernie has more important things to be doing at the moment than rounds."
"Oh, like what? Shining his Head Boy badge and adjusting it on his robes just right so when he sticks his chest out, it catches the right amount of light to make it gleam?"
"I said Ernie, not Percy."
Ron laughed and shoved his hands in his pockets, giving her a look of mock surprise. "Wait, hang on…was that…I think it was! Did you just make a joke?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, unable to hide a little smile. "Yes, well, contrary to popular belief, I actually have something of a sense of humor."
"You do? Where?" asked Ron, stopping their progress down the hall by grabbing her arm, and looking into her face as if searching for something. Hermione smiled and looked up at the ceiling as he continued to study her. "Mmm, must be in there somewhere…maybe we should get a pair of Omnoculars."
She pushed him away and straightened up her robes. "Thank you, very much."
"Aw, come on. You know I'm just fooling." He chuckled, falling into step beside her once again.
"Yes, I seem to be the butt of a lot of jokes today."
So far, they had checked most of the upper floors of the castle, and the only disturbances they had run across had been a pair of younger Hufflepuffs making out in a supply closet, and Peeves, who had been writing very crude messages on the blackboards of the classrooms. For Ron, it had been boring, tedious work, and he much rather would have preferred to be back in the Tower, playing chess with Harry.
But, there were upsides to doing rounds with Hermione as well.
Trying not to get caught staring at her out of the corner of his eye, he ruffled his hair and blew air out through his lips. "So, are we done yet?"
"No, we most certainly are not done yet." She said flatly, her eyes narrowed in suspicion as they prowled the corridors.
"Aren't you bored?" he asked incredulously. "Not even a teensy weensy little bit?"
Hermione sighed. "How I feel about rounds is irrelevant. They need to be done…"
"That wasn't my question, Hermione." Said Ron, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. "Its bloody boiling, you're dressed like you're going to Antarctica, and we're doing rounds with nothing to look at but gungy old portraits, stony walls and each other's faces. You can't possibly find this the highlight of your day, can you?"
"Ron…" she started to yell, but she sighed and looked down at her feet. She paused for a moment, before rubbing her eyes. "We should split up; we can cover more ground that way."
"I'll take the rest of the upper floors and you can do the rest, including the dungeons."
"We'll meet back at the Great Hall after and compare notes, alright?"
"But, Hermione, what about…"
"Alright?" she said more insistently, giving him a look.
Ron frowned down at her. Why had she changed the subject? It was obvious she had wanted to say something else to him. But, she was looking at him now with that steely determination he was so used to, and he was simply not in the mood to butt heads with her.
"Fine, whatever." He sighed.
She smiled and nodded. "Good. See you in about an hour then."
Ron shook his head as he watched her walk off down the corridor and out of sight. Why was she so…uptight all the time? She was a normal, teenage girl. Surely she couldn't find all this responsibility and duty fun. Given, yes, she was a bit of a freak when it came to studying and homework and deadlines, but she was still human.
"Stubborn ninny." He muttered to himself.
And with one last look down the empty corridor, he went off in the opposite direction.
Hermione didn't see anything else on her search of the upper floors. Either it really was too hot for students to be bothered walking around at night or word had spread around that she was on duty, and everyone had scampered.
She smiled smugly to herself. It was a nice feeling to know that she could keep people in line without even having to be seen by them. She didn't scare them, she knew that much. But she did know that she was known to be strict and would not hesitate to take points or give detention if she had to.
It was, after all, her duty as Head Girl.
She rounded another corner and entered the hallway out the front of the Library. She knew possibly ever detail about this corridor, from the dent in the door that lead into the main room, to the green tinge to the floor where there had been a massive potion spill nearly a hundred years ago, to the scorch marks on the opposite wall where, it had been rumored, that Snape had had a duel with a certain Head Boy in his youth.
Hermione went over to the door, ready to enquire to Madam Pince if she had seen anyone around that shouldn't be, when two figures came around and adjacent hallway, their heads bent together and apparently in deep conversation.
"Excuse me,' said Hermione importantly, drawing herself up. "What do you two think you're doing up at this hour?"
The two figures stopped and looked around at Hermione. She recognized them instantly, and only felt her indignation morph into irritation and utter dislike.
"Just going for a walk, Granger." Sneered Pansy Parkinson, exchanging a look with Millicent Bulstrode beside her. "Not illegal last time I heard."
"It is at this hour." Said Hermione closing the distance between them. "You both should be in your Common Room – it's after curfew."
"I'm a Prefect, as you well know." Said Pansy with a smirk. "I'm more than allowed out."
"You are – she's not." Said Hermione, pointing at Millicent, but keeping her eyes locked on Pansy's smug face.
"'She's not'?" cried Millicent angrily, taking a step forward. "What am I, chopped Flubberworm? I'm not just some boulder, Granger!"
Hermione rolled her eyes impatiently. "I'd apologize, but I know there's really no point. Now, both of you get back to your common room before I take house points."
Millicent flared up again and went to take another step forward, but Pansy put a hand on her shoulder and stopped her.
"Sure Granger, our mistake." Said Pansy slowly, giving Hermione a very false smile. "We'll just toddle off now like good little minions, wont we Millicent?" she said, giving Millicent a significant look.
"Oh, yeah. Sure thing." Nodded Millicent, plastering the same false smile on her face.
Hermione's eyes narrowed. Quite obviously, the two of them were hiding something. But, there was no evidence that so far they had done anything wrong, and Hermione therefore had nothing to go on but a very large suspicion.
Pansy smiled sweetly as Hermione and went to move, when something fell out of her bag and smashed onto the floor. Hermione coughed and spluttered as a red vapor rose up from the smashed vial, its contents spilt all over the stone floor.
"Oh, how clumsy of me!" cried Pansy, her face covered with her sleeve just like Millicent. "Let me clean that up."
"No!" cried Hermione, coughing and fanning her face. She was feeling a little lightheaded. "Just go, will you?"
Pansy shrugged. "Suit yourself. Have a nice night, Granger!"
And, sniggering, she and Millicent left the way they had come.
Hermione glared after them and pulled out her wand, still coughing as the vapor seemed to coat the air in a thick, invisible fog. "Sc-courgify." She spluttered. The potion, or whatever it had been, vanished leaving only broken shred of glass as any evidence that an accident had happened at all. She fixed the vial, pocketed it and coughed her lungs free of the vapor, her mind going into overdrive.
What the blazes was that stuff? Ha! Accident my ass. She dropped that on purpose. It can't have been an illegal substance, could it? But, then again, this is Pansy Parkinson we're talking about here. I don't feel much different, a little light-headed, but I've been feeling like that all day.
She spluttered a little more and looked around. She was completely alone.
I should go to the infirmary, just to be sure. Oh, but I have to meet Ron at the Great Hall, and don't have time to do both.
Hermione cleared her throat of phlegm and gave herself one last assessment. She seemed fine. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened and she didn't seem in any immediate danger. She wasn't growing any extra limbs, her hair was still the same colour, she hadn't changed form or shape or species…perhaps the potion had been a dud, simply to scare her.
Pushing aside her irritation, she drew herself up importantly and headed off to the Great Hall, knowing that if anything happened, she could always go to the infirmary tomorrow.
"Tell me again how this is going to work."
Pansy rolled her eyes and flopped down on her bed, Millicent taking the one beside her. Their dormitory was relatively empty, as most of the other girls were still sitting up in the Common room.
"How many times to I have to go over it? All she had to do was breathe in the fumes; she didn't have to drink it. Which is lucky, because there is no way in hell I would have been able to spike her goblet." Added Pansy, taking off her tie and throwing it to the floor.
"Which is why you wanted me to keep my distance,' said Millicent, nodding with a smile. "So I wouldn't breathe it in."
"So, when do we start to see it working?"
Pansy smirked and undid the buttons of her shirt. "It's a slow-release spell. It'll start tomorrow, but will probably take a few days before it really starts to show."
Millicent laughed. "Ah, this is going to be brilliant! Wish we had one of those muggle video things so we could catch it, and watch it over and over again when we're bored or feeling particularly vindictive."
Pansy smiled and stood up to change. "Yes, I know, I'm brilliant."
"You don't think she suspected anything, do you?" asked Millicent, getting ready for bed as well.
"Of course she did. She's not 'Know-it-all' Granger for no reason, Millie." Said Pansy. "But, she's got nothing to go on. There are too many potions it could have been, and she has no idea where to start and work it out."
Millicent, changed and ready, slipped under her sheets with a laugh. "I can't wait for tomorrow, just to see the looks on everyone's faces." She said dreamily.
Pansy smirked and crossed to the window, looking out onto the silver, moonlit grounds. "Me neither, Millie, me neither."
A/N – So, how was that for a first chapter? Grab your interest? Let me know!