Hermione was curled up in a chair in the corner of the library, reading over the day's Daily Prophet for the hundredth time. She'd finished all her assignments and wasn't in the mood to deal with Harry and Ron right now. The paper in her hands heralded the growing number of attacks on Muggles, a fact that had Hermione anxious, with thoughts of the Association and white gravestones churning through her head.
Besides, she couldn't handle Harry's moping over Ginny and Ron's badmouthing Draco (who was completely ignoring her) anymore. The boys were driving her mad, and sometimes she wanted them all to get lost in the forest and get eaten by Aragog or something. It would make her life a whole lot easier.
Piercing laughter startled her out of her thoughts, and Hermione got up and peered around the library shelf. There was Pansy Parkinson, laughing loudly while Draco whispered in her ear.
Hermione did not want to think about what he was saying that would make Pansy laugh like that. Instead, she focused on not cursing Draco into oblivion, and she whirled around, slammed her book shut, and marched out of the library with her nose in the air.
If Draco's going to act like that, it's fine with me! She stomped up the stairs toward Gryffindor tower. I have other things to preoccupy me, like...brushing up on my defense spells! Or Harry and Ron! She barked the password at the Fat Lady, and stormed into the common room then to the girls' dormitory. She threw her books onto the bed, then stopped and took a deep calming breath. "It's alright, Hermione. He's just an idiotic prat, and you can do much better," she muttered to herself. She walked over to the window and stared out at the graves, letting herself get lost in her thoughts once again.
At dinner that night, Hermione noticed Draco sneaking glances at her. She glared at him, then turned to her friends and pointedly ignored him for the rest of the meal. When the plates cleared, she saw that he had disappeared.
Things were almost back to normal at Hogwarts. Except for the Muggle attacks and the cemetery that constantly reminded of the war, things were good. The students were able to catch up in class and worry about dating and marks rather than death and murder. It was a very refreshing change.
There was nothing to indicate that Malvagio was planning another attack on Hogwarts. While the attacks on Muggles were disturbing, they were not close enough to arouse panic in the school. Harry, his forehead marred by a scar left over from when Malvagio tried to kill him, still struggled in Potions and Transfiguration; Ron, who was slowly getting over his sister's death, was still thick-headed and stubborn.
But no one could forget what had happened, and people started being more cautious and paying more attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and there was a subtle, perpetual anxiety that hung in the air as the students waited. Waited for something to happen.
They knew the war wasn't over yet, but for now they just wanted to be teenagers.
Over the next few weeks, Hermione noticed that the Muggle attacks seemed to be getting more sporadic, with fewer people dying. She wondered what it meant. Did it mean that the Dark Lord was losing power? Or was he simply saving his energy for another attack on Hogwarts?
To distract herself from such disturbing thoughts, Hermione buried herself in her schoolwork. She continued to ignore Draco, hang out with Harry and Ron, and read the Daily Prophet. Her life slowly slipped back into the routine of the pre-war days.
It wasn't until a couple months later that Hermione started dating Ron. He may not have been the brightest crayon in the box, but he was sweet and clueless in the way that only lovesick boys can be, and would do anything for her.
Draco continued to date Pansy, but sometimes Hermione still caught him watching her during dinner. Whenever this happened, Hermione would scoot closer to Ron, maybe lean her head on his shoulder. She was happy with Ron, and she wanted Draco to see that.
Harry was having a rough time of it. He was hailed as a hero by many, and Hermione knew it was hard for him because he was actually a pretty private person. He tried to ignore the admiring looks that were constantly shot his way, and he distracted himself by gazing at Cho Chang constantly.
All in all, they were content. Not exactly joyous– that wouldn't come until the war was over and the Dark Lord vanquished– but they could cope. They had each other, after all.