Here's another little one from me. Just an enjoyable one-shot. Have fun reading!
Disclaimer: Nope, I still don't own anything.
Warning: AU Sixth Year.
The Real Hermione Granger
Around two months after the start of term, Hermione started noticing something...odd.
Downright peculiar, if she did say so herself.
It started the week of the Halloween Feast and had been continuing thereafter.
Hermione had always prided herself on her excellent observation skills and her ability to reason out anything, but she was drawing a blank where this was concerned.
Something was going on with the girls at Hogwarts.
The first ones she happened to take notice of were Anabelle Clearwater and Nina Harris, two Ravenclaw fifth-years. Anabelle, while having the privilege of being a prefect, was quite self-conscious about her appearance and interested in the business of attracting the opposite sex. Nina was even worse. She was the kind of giggly girl Hermione absolutely detested and made no secret of her dislike for them.
Times had changed, however.
The two Ravenclaws had stopped paying so much attention to their appearance, stopped acting quite so girly, and had even retreated into Hermione's domain, the library, to study in-between classes and during the evening. And it didn't stop there.
Dozens of girls seemed to become afflicted with this change of attitude. From the ones slightly less studious than her to the very giggliest, fourth years and up, they all were taken with this about-face.
Uniform skirts hemmed to show off more leg were let back out to their original length, unbuttoned shirts to show off cleavage became firmly fastened, and faces went unadorned by make-up. Even their hair went un-styled, left to fall naturally as God intended. The corridors were absent of gossiping, the fashion magazines disappeared, and the library became the new place to be.
It was positively spooky, really.
Maybe it wouldn't have been quite so unusual, or more so at any rate, if every time she asked any of the girls about their drastic change, she wasn't greeted by shocked eyes and haughty sniffs. As if she was supposed to know exactly what was going on and she wasn't fooling anybody.
Well, that just wouldn't do.
For one thing, Hermione liked to have her library space to her self and these girls were invading her territory as thoroughly as a herd of elephants stomping all over the hunting ground of a lioness. It was distracting and just rude. Hermione wanted her library back and another problem was the whispering that seemed to follow her wherever she went these days. And if she tried to eavesdrop, they would just fall silent before she could get within earshot.
So, she went to her number one source when it came to Hogwarts gossip.
Miss Ginny Weasley, who seemed to be the only girl in Hogwarts not afflicted by the sudden change, and who was sitting with Harry in the common room, her boyfriend now, when Hermione found her.
However, when Hermione voiced her suspicious observations to the youngest of the redheaded clan, the same wide-eyed look of shock and surprise washed over the young girl as they sat in the sixth-year girls' dormitory.
"You're kidding, right?" Ginny asked, her blue eyes searching the face of her companion for any sign of a joke.
Hermione gazed at her in confusion. "Kidding about what? I'm just telling you what I've seen."
The redhead, mirth washing over her before she could stop it, fought to keep her chuckles to herself as she gestured to the spot on the bed beside her.
"You better sit down."
The brunette witch took a seat cautiously, as if she was expecting to hear the worst news imaginable, and turned to the younger girl with expectation, her eyes curious and impatient.
"Draco Malfoy has a crush on you."
A full minute passed before the other girl could even speak.
"WHAT?" Hermione asked disbelievingly, her question tinged with astonishment. Her mind was racing to go over the last few encounters she'd had with the Slytherin prince and re-examine them for any outward sign that would prove the redheaded girl's words as truth but there was nothing. He'd been as cool to her as he always was.
"You heard me right," Ginny replied patiently, her arms crossed over her chest, before she scanned the brunette from head to toe. "You mean you didn't know?" she asked impishly.
"No!" Hermione denied fervently before taking a deep breath, her mind still focused elsewhere. "How did this happen?"
Ginny gazed back at her, amusement written all over her face. "I don't know. You'd have to ask Malfoy."
That snapped the brunette out of her daze and got her to redirect her attention to the conversation. "Don't be ridiculous," she replied scathingly, "there's no way I'm talking to him ever again after this."
Ginny narrowed her blue eyes at her friend. "I'm sure that will go swimmingly next year when you two are Heads together," she stated cynically.
"You know nothing's been announced yet," Hermione replied in kind, but she knew Ginny was right. The whole school knew they were really the only ones in the running for Head positions next year.
"So, what are you gonna do?" the younger girl asked gently.
"I don't know. This is an absolute nightmare," she said somberly, but then the brunette jerked as if she'd just remembered something important. "Wait a minute, you still didn't tell me what this has to do with all the other girls."
Ginny sighed. "Do you remember the prefect meeting about a month and a half ago?"
Keeping her hands busy, Hermione picked at the hem of her skirt, a thread was coming undone at the seam, and shrugged. "So? What does that have to do with it?"
The sixth-year finally looked up and tried her hardest to believe this was just normal Hogwarts gossip and had nothing to do with her or Draco Malfoy.
"Do you remember when everybody was starting to leave and you went up to the Head Girl to ask her a question about the patrol rotation?" the redhead asked carefully.
"Well, about that same time, Malfoy was being pestered outside the doorway by Anabelle Clearwater. She was asking him what he wanted for his ideal mate," Ginny was patient with her explanation.
"Okay, and?" the brunette was growing weary from all this shocking news.
"And he turned to her and said 'I want a girl who's not afraid to be who she is, even if it's not trendy or mainstream.' Then, he glanced back into the room and sighed before walking off towards the Great Hall."
"So? He probably wasn't even talking about me. And how do you know all this anyway?" Hermione asked skeptically, her brown eyes gazing back at her friend with mistrust, and wondered if all this was Ginny's way of pulling a prank on her.
"It's true, I swear," the girl countered with absolute seriousness. "I'd gone back to get my Potions notebook that I'd left in the prefects meeting room and heard the whole thing."
The brunette sighed. "But how do you know he was even talking about me?"
Ginny dropped backwards on the bed and crossed her arms behind her head. "It doesn't matter what I think. Anabelle's the one who thought he was."
Hermione felt all the pieces come together in her mind and the picture they assembled wasn't one she liked. "So, the rumor spread around Hogwarts and all these girls started imitating me in the hopes of attracting the attention of Draco Malfoy?"
"You got it."
The sixth-year girl sat stunned. "That's beyond outrageous, really."
"Doesn't matter," the redheaded shrugged as she got up and started making her way for the door. "That's what they all believe." Ginny turned at the entrance before fully exiting the dorm and surveyed her best friend with sympathy. "I'm sorry, but I've got a t-fig exam to prepare for. Come find me later if you want to talk more."
Then she was gone, her footsteps echoing in the tower as she walked down one level to the fifth-year girls' dormitory.
Hermione didn't know what to do with the new information she'd gleaned, but she knew she couldn't sit and let it fester in her mind and besides, it was almost time for dinner, but she had just enough time to pop off to the library for a quick bit of studying. It was, after all, three weeks until Christmas vacation and exams were right around the corner.
She was nearly there, her mind still spinning with the words, Draco Malfoy can't possibly have a crush on me, when the devil himself bumped into her and the books she'd been holding in her arms went scattering across the castle corridor with Hermione nearly following.
"Merlin, Granger! Can't you watch where you're going?" the blond-headed youth grumbled as he helped her gather the books from the floor.
Hermione was almost frozen in fear as she hurriedly collected her books with panicked motions and hoped she could get away before having to actually look him in the face, but her hopes were dashed when he grabbed her by the arm and spun her around, swiftly denying her getaway.
His gray eyes were placid as he peered down at her from his superior height. "Do I not even get a 'I'm sorry, Malfoy, I didn't see you there?'"
Hermione studied his expression, but there was nothing there to give her any indication to the truth of what she'd been told. His face was the perfect picture of composure as he stood there calmly waiting for a response.
"I'm sorry, Malfoy, I didn't see you there," she repeated in a monotone, her mind in a whirlwind as she turned once more to go, leaving him behind to gaze at her back in bewilderment.
However, before she got more than a few paces away, a crazy thought entered her brain and she whipped around, startling the Slytherin with her bizarre actions.
"This is gonna sound a little strange," she stated to him, hoping to lead into her main question, "and it's not something I would even question normally, you know. Normally, I would just write it off as the fanciful imaginings of some of Hogwarts more silly lower years, but it was Ginny who was the one who told me. And it's not really any of my business, except if it's true then it IS my business, but it can't be true because that's just preposterous, and -" She was aware that she was rambling now, but she couldn't seem to make herself stop. Luckily, Malfoy had the foresight to interrupt.
"Just ask me what you want to know, Granger." The Slytherin declared impatiently.
Looking him right in the eye, Hermione gathered up all her Gryffindor courage and bit the bullet.
"Do you like me?"
The blond cocked an eyebrow in question. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," she sighed, "do you like like me?" Hermione finally asked with her misgivings swirling in her head.
The brunette watched as a drastic change swept over the blond. His cheeks flushed bright pink, his gray eyes darted away from her piercing gaze, and when he failed to respond to her inquiry, she had her answer.
"Oh my God."
Malfoy cleared his throat as he tried to find some place to put his hands, first crossing them over his chest and then in his pockets before letting them fall down by his sides. He was obviously nervous.
"Who told you that?"
Hermione faced him with confidence, more comfortable now that the balance of the conversation had just swiveled in her favor.
"Ginny did, and up until this moment, I really didn't believe it was true."
"Well, what, I mean, why or how -" he couldn't seem to make up his mind what he wanted to ask.
"You know, I didn't know what was going on until Ginny told me. And even then I didn't believe it. The girls just did a complete turnaround and I couldn't believe it had anything to do with me. That's just silly. And adding you into the mix just makes it border on the absurd, really, but Ginny seemed serious and seeing your reaction, well, that's just a kick in the head, you know. Especially since you could have practically any girl you wanted. Besides, -" she was rambling again to fill the awkward silence with noise, but she seemed unable to stop once she got started.
But she didn't have to worry since Draco had collected himself enough to do it for her. Leaning down carefully, his lips closed over hers and brought an end to her continuous rambling.
The kiss was soft and sweet as their lips moved together. It was not pushing any boundaries and it was most certainly enjoyable. Hermione felt herself beginning to lean into him before she could check herself, but the feel of his lips on hers was so nice that she let it, and all her other worries, go.
The contact ended before it'd truly began, and they stepped back from each other, both with questions dancing in their eyes, but it was Malfoy who spoke.
"None of them were the smart and stubborn Hermione Granger."
Instead of answering, Hermione, however, had other ideas on her mind and grabbed him by his shirt before he could get too far away, surprise giving her an advantage, and reciprocated the action, going one step further in nipping his bottom lip with her teeth and shocking him into opening his mouth. Her tongue slipped in and danced with his, both fully absorbed in the kiss as they came closer, his arms fastened tightly around her waist and her hands gripping the material covering his shoulders.
They stood there for a full minute in the corridor, exposed to anyone who could have happened by. Each was grabbing a lengthy taste of the other before Hermione pulled away leaving Malfoy in shock behind her as she turned and strolled away.
She didn't look back, but she did smile softly to herself on her way to the Great Hall, her fingers lifting to gently touch her lips in remembrance.
Maybe Draco Malfoy's crush on her wasn't so bad after all.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it. Leave me a review if you'd be so kind. :)