A/N: I have hopefully divested myself of the terrors of what is writer's block; but I am not about to make any promises on that. I was clearing out a few documents and such on my computer while talking to my friend Kate, who was trying to help me get my inspiration for this story. And since, well, let's just say once more I have been converted to another pairing... try and guess what that is. I dare ya.

Disclaimer: Don't own it, so don't sue me. I only own Maerin and the plot, that's it.

Chapter 10: Practicalities

With their first practical defense class in the afternoon, the Hogwarts trio discussed what they would be doing in the lesson. Sasuke listened in on their conversation, but didn't contribute to it. Naruto, on the other hand, immediately joined in when he arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast.

"Knowing Kakashi-sensei, it'll be teamwork," he was saying. "He'll probably team us up with someone he thinks we'll be able to work well with; or someone he thinks your cooperation could use improvement with."

Ron twitched, "So we might have to get cozy with the Slytherins?!"

Raising an eyebrow, Naruto looked over there, surprised that Malfoy had been able to get that dye out of his hair. He looked surprisingly subdued, tired even, "You know... I wouldn't judge them based on how they look. Maybe they're not all that bad."

Choking on his cereal, Harry had to pat him on the back, "What? Are you kidding mate?! They're Slytherins!"

"Now I think that's a little harsh; even Sasuke would agree?" He turned to Sasuke for back-up. Sasuke glared at him and said nothing; Naruto forcefully elbowed him in the gut, "Ne Sasuke! You agree right?"

"I don't get why you dragged me into this..."

"Cause! Do you agree with me or not?!" In a whisper, he added, "I mean, if we can forgive Gaara; then I'm sure we can forgive him."

"Yeah... I guess."

"Sooo... you do agree?"

"I just said I did..."

Ron was giving them a skeptical look, "You two sure that you're not supposed to be in Slytherin?"

"Ron!" Harry and Hermione exclaimed at once; the former smacking him over the head.

"Honestly Ron!" Hermione was reprimanding him now as they headed for Charms. "Maybe because I've been raised where such discrimination isn't prominent; but you could give them a chance!"

"They've had six years! Six years Mione!" Harry sighed as they started arguing once again, he dropped back to walk with Naruto and Sasuke, who were holding their own quiet discussion in Japanese. Harry knew a few words that Naruto had taught him; but the conversation was mostly lost to him. "And he's called you Mudblood since what? Second year?"

"Since when did this discussion focus on Malfoy Ron?"


"Well, for your information Ron; I don't think that he's as bad as you make him out to be," Hermione said, miffed. "I think it's just a show for all those friends of his, and honestly, I don't think he really has any friends."

"And since when did you become so concerned about him?"

"Since he is in my Arithmancy class AND I happen to see him in the library a lot," she responded hotly. "And there, he is much more polite."

"Well then why don't you go with him? Ask to transfer into Slytherin!" Ron stormed off. Hermione sighed and joined Harry.

"Harry, I'm sorry about that," she apologized. "But I just think that if we're going to paired up with them in practical defense, that we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides," she looked down and turned a little pink, "He's not as bad as Ron seems to think. I get along fine with him in Arithmancy, and in the library he really is something of a gentleman."

Harry began to wonder whether or not Hermione had developed something of a crush on on Draco Malfoy; but he dismissed the idea.

Charms class passed in relative normalcy; with the exception being that Ron sat with Neville instead of Harry and Hermione, who were instead joined by Neji, who had apparently been kicked out of his seat by an irate Gaara who had not yet forgiven him for his cracks at him the day before in Transfiguration.

Hermione and Harry moved over to allow the shinobi to slide in beside them, before resuming their conversation from earlier. Harry wondered whether or not Neji was listening in; but found that he didn't really care. They spent the lesson debating who they'd be grouped with and what their teachers would be like.

Lunch found them anxious for their first lesson.

Ron still had not forgiven Hermione; and obviously thought that Harry agreed with her and had proceeded to give him the cold shoulder treatment as well. The large group of Gryffindors and Slytherins flooded out into the grounds, Maerin arrived in a cloud of smoke In front of them.

"Good afternoon class," she smiled widely at them. "Welcome to your first practical defense class! My name is Uchiha Maerin, and I am one of your instructors. You may call me Professor Uchiha or Maerin-sensei. Please follow me."

The class followed the young woman out onto the grounds and followed her to the lake. Here, she told them to sit down and took a seat on a nearby rock, still smiling.

One of the other students put their hand in the air, Maerin acknowledged them, "Yes?"

"Where's Professor Hatake?"

Maerin sighed, "Oh, he'll be here. Just late... as usual."

Several more minutes passed before Kakashi finally showed up in a cloud of smoke, hand raised in greeting, "Yo."

"You're late again Kakashi," Maerin reprimanded. "I told you; quit that! I can't start the lesson without you!"

"A black cat crossed-"

"Oh no! You are NOT using that excuse again!" Several students snickered as the obviously younger professor told off the other. "Now, we can start the lesson. Ten minutes behind schedule!"

Kakashi rubbed the back of his, ignoring the dirty look Maerin shot him, "Alright Maerin. I'll get started." He turned to face the students, hands in his pockets, smiling, "Welcome to your first day of practical defense. I am Hatake Kakashi, but you can call me Kakashi-sensei or Professor Hatake."

During his short speech, Maerin had returned to her perch on the rock and was peering down at the students; watching for any misbehavior.

"Now, for this class. There are no houses. I will award points based on how well you and your team mate work together." Hermione's hand shot up. "Yes Granger?"

"You said team mate, I heard we were working in teams of three... are we working in partners?"

His smile widened, "You will be divided into pairs." He pulled out a long roll of parchment, "Now, you will work with your partner in everything that this class has to offer, and perhaps other subjects as well if the professors approve of it."

"There will be no discussion of changing partners," Maerin added. "We have made up these teams after carefully observing you all in your everyday lives. These teams are made based upon helping you all to get over your differences and help strengthen interhouse unity."

"When I call your name, go sit beside your partner," Kakashi began. "Parkison Pansy and Neville Longbottom."

"Hermione Granger and Blaise Zabini."

"Ron Weasly and Milicent Bulstrode."

He continued to list names, and students paired off. Gryffindors paired off with Slytherins. Finally, Harry had his own name called.

"Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy."

Harry stood stiffly and took his seat beside the Slytherin, he did his best to keep his features blank.



"Just because I have to work with you doesn't mean I have to like you."


Haha! I finished it! In one sitting. That's a first, even for me. So here it is; the tenth chapter and I'm hope that you're happy with it; it's longer then the last chapter. So please leave me lovely reviews. My dream is someday to be interviewed like this author on this site I found... but I'll just keep dreaming; it's only a dream after all.