Disclaimer: Nope, the characters and the world isn't mine, and I'm just playing on J. K. Rowling's sandbox while she's looking the other way...
AN: Response to a challenge on the Portkey forums by FrostPhoenix.
Oh, by the way, I wrote a small update on my progress (or lack of it) considering the next chapter of the White Phoenix in my forum, so if you're looking for news about that story, that's where you can find them.
"Anything new on the list, Par?" Lavender Brown asked from her best friend while she checked herself from the bathroom mirror.
"Hmm, let's see..." Parvati Patil replied and started following the long list of names on the wall with her finger.
There was a copy of the said list in all the girls' bathrooms in the castle and ever since a couple of seventh year Ravenclaw girls had come up with the idea, the lists had become the most talked of subject among the older girls in the castle. The lists basically contained all the names of the upper class boys with some space for notes next to each name, and all the lists were charmed so that whenever someone wrote something in one of them, the writing magically appeared on all of the lists – and, of course, the lists also had a charm on them to prevent anyone except for the girls in the upper classes from reading them and writing on them.
"Terry Boot!" Parvati said excitedly, noticing a name that had two lines of text next to it, but then she deflated. "No, wait that was there yesterday, wasn't it Lav?"
"Terry Boot?" Lavender mused. "Oh! You mean the new line about him not being able to do it even twice in a row?" she then said with an obvious interest in the subject.
"Yeah, that's the one," Parvati laughed, but then she drew in a sudden breath. "Neville Longbottom!" she squealed in surprise and Lavender immediately abandoned her grooming and joined her friend at the list.
"Let me see!" she enthused. "Very considerate, but awfully inexperienced. Needs a... dedicated teacher!" she read aloud and they both started giggling just as the door opened to admit Hermione Granger in the bathroom. She huffed slightly when she saw the two girls reading the list, but otherwise she ignored them and walked to the bathroom mirror. Unnoticed by the two girls that were still twittering, she straightened her clothes as a slight blush slowly faded from her face, leaving behind just a satisfied smile.
"It's always the quiet ones!" Parvati giggled meanwhile.
"Hey, Hermione? Neville's just joined the list and Harry's now the only one that doesn't even have a mention! Can you believe it?" Lavender told excitedly to Hermione.
"Whatever," Hermione replied uninterestedly, rolling her eyes. "I'm not interested in hearing your immature invasions of others' privacy," she said and focused back to the mirror, as she used her hands to arrange her bushy mane of hair that seemed to be a lot messier than it usually was.
"Well, of course you wouldn't understand," Lavender replied dryly, but Hermione dignifiedly ignored her.
"Since when did you start caring what your hair looks like, Hermione?" Parvati broke in with her puzzled voice, and Lavender's interest was sparked as well as she realized what Hermione was doing.
Hermione didn't reply immediately, but instead she just continued for a moment, until she was satisfied with the result and then she smiled brightly to her mirror image. "I don't really care that much, but I don't want to look like a small birch tree either," she replied simply, still smiling slightly, and she walked out of the bathroom, leaving Parvati and Lavender looking at each other with surprised expressions.
"Oh, come on, Hermione! Let's just check the list quickly on the way," Ginny Weasley said as she dragged Hermione with her to a bathroom on their way.
"I agreed to help you with your Muggle Studies, not with bedroom studies," Hermione replied sarcastically, but she did follow Ginny to the list.
"It's just harmless fun," Ginny replied off-handedly, as she had already concentrated on the list. "I just can't believe there's still nothing about him!" she commented soon in a frustrated voice.
"Have you ever considered that Harry might be too smart to be with anyone that would blab his dirty secrets to everyone?" Hermione suggested with a hint of irritation.
"But that's just it! All the viable girls write to the list. Look! Even Goyle is covered – Bad hygiene, grunts constantly," Ginny replied and made a face, ignoring Hermione's tone.
"So, it means that either Harry bats to the other team or isn't... active in that regard," Ginny continued matter of factly.
"I think I'd know if my best friend was gay, thank you very much," Hermione countered in an annoyed tone – she had actually heard that a few times lately and all because of the stupid list and the lack of anything under Harry's name.
"Would you really? I don't see any of your writing on the list," came Ginny's cutting reply.
"Not that it's any of your business, but I'm actually very satisfied with my love life," Hermione replied calmly, a dreamy smile overcoming her face, and Ginny's expression turned surprised and slightly sceptical, but then Hermione grinned when she noticed a certain name on the list and she realized just how to get back at Ginny.
"Does amazing things with his hands and likes being tied (or he just likes the rope mordels)," she read aloud from the list and Ginny looked curious.
"Ronald Weasley," Hermione added the name and laughed when Ginny's expression quickly changed.
"Eww! He's my brother, Hermione, I don't want to hear anything like that about him!" Ginny cried out with a disgusted expression and walked out of the bathroom with her hands over her ears.
"But I thought it was supposed to be just harmless fun?" Hermione replied, just laughing more as she followed Ginny out. "And, besides, Luna's about the only one in there considerate enough to write something positive," she added more seriously.
One Sunday morning the whole female student body was buzzing with activity and by afternoon even the most clueless males in the castle knew that something was going on; something big that had all the older girls of the school whispering and exchanging looks with each other. All except Hermione Granger (and Luna Lovegood, but then again few paid attention to her since she didn't usually bother herself with the matters that others considered important).
Hermione was actually going on with her business just as usual, although if someone had paid very close attention to her, they might have noticed her smiling a bit more than usual that day, and if anything she seemed pleased with herself. She was on her way to the library with none other than her best friend, Harry Potter, so that the two could revise for the NEWTs for a while and then disappear for the rest of the evening without anyone else being any the wiser. But they were interrupted by the arrival of breathless Parvati and Lavender, who quickly jogged towards them when they saw Hermione.
"There you are... Hermione," Lavender managed to breathe out as she came to a halt in front of Hermione.
"There's something... you just have to see!" Parvati took over, stopping next to Lavender.
"We'll just... borrow her for a minute," Lavender continued, turning to Harry, who just looked amused as Lavender and Parvati took hold of Hermione's arms and started practically dragging her away.
"All right, all right, I'm coming," Hermione said placatingly and she shook off Lavender's and Parvati's hands. "Although I don't see what could be this important," she added with a slight huff as she followed the two girls.
"You'll see!" Parvati said excitedly.
"Now, hurry!" Lavender interjected and they increased their pace to a jog again with Hermione in tow.
Parvati and Lavender led the way to a girl's bathroom that was packed with pretty much all the girls of the upper years, and the crowd parted to let them pass. Hermione was practically shoved in front of a wall, so that her face was only inches from the list that adorned the said wall.
"There!" Lavender said loudly.
Hermione just looked at the list for a second and then she turned to look at Parvati and Lavender with her eyebrows raised in question. "What?" she asked simply in a way that was maddening to the two other girls.
"Look at Harry's entry!" Parvati said impatiently.
"Hmm... He reads my body like Braille," Hermione read aloud from the parchment and then she turned to the crowd, smiling. "That does sound a bit like the Harry I know," she commented, her smile just widening.
"Don't you see what this means, Hermione!" Lavender said seriously. "Someone's bagged him and we don't know who!" she continued with a growl.
"Oh, come on, you have almost all the possible girls in here, how difficult can it be?" Hermione asked in return, looking around the crowd.
"But that's just it! No one that could write on the list has done it! You have to be a girl and at least sixteen years old to write on the list, and we've already asked everyone!" Lavender replied, slightly frustrated.
"And everyone swore it wasn't them!" Parvati added and Lavender nodded.
"You've asked everyone?" Hermione asked, giving the last word a slight pressure and the whole crowd nodded.
"Yes, even the Slytherins!" Parvati added to the sentiment.
"Well, perhaps there's someone you have missed?" Hermione replied, smiling knowingly and the crowd quieted as she kept a short pause. "I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out!" she added with a laugh as she rushed out of the bathroom.
"Catch her! She knows who it was!" Lavender shouted and the crowd started milling out of the bathroom, and soon there was a stampede of girls in pursuit of Hermione.
The fastest of the girls were gaining on Hermione, and they were only a few steps behind her when she suddenly rounded a corner to hopefully delay her pursuers. But just as she was about to accelerate towards the new direction, a hand caught a firm hold of her and pulled her into a broom cupboard, closing the door behind her and pulling her tightly against the owner of the hand.
"Shh!" shushed a very familiar voice that Hermione recognized immediately, and it had spoken so near her ear that she could feel the warm breath escaping his lips, and it made her skin tingle with excitement as she tried to calm down her breathing.
"Where did she go?" asked a voice from the outside.
"Let's split up," replied another and for a moment there was a clamour of foot steps, but then they slowly faded away.
"You like teasing them, don't you?" Harry's voice whispered huskily and full of humour, sending chills down Hermione's spine, and she could feel her pulse picking up speed when he started to nibble on her earlobe.
"No, I'm just a... good schoolgirl... you must have mistaken me," she replied innocently, her breath quickening again as he started kissing her neck.
"Good, because I need help with my studying," he said softly and when he sucked on the spot he had just kissed, she gasped and surrendered her neck for him by tilting her head. "I'm out of touch with my Braille," he added and his hands joined his lips and tongue on the task of driving her out of her mind with want.
"I think you did," she started to respond, but her breath suddenly hitched when his teeth found a very sweet spot on her skin. "J-just fine last time," she managed to breathe out, but then she suddenly turned around forcefully to face him.
He had just enough time to notice the fire of passion burning in her eyes, before she pulled him to a smouldering kiss and their mouths melted together for a long heated moment.
"But practise makes perfect," she quipped when they separated and Harry just smiled at her as he whisked her under his invisibility cloak and they crept out of the broom cupboard and towards the Room of Requirement.