Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, only the plot line… and possibly the oldest computer known to humankind. (it dates to 3000BC man!)
Even now, even after all this time, Hermione still found it so hard to look him in the eye. He knew all her secrets, fears and hopes. His metaphysical hand had reached into her heart and extracted a piece of her soul. He had her heart…. He held her heart in his warm, rough… no, his tender hands. Happiness blanketed in sorrow, sorrow blanketed in happiness. That's how she felt when she was with him. Each day, the scales tipped one way or the other, a clear winner never pronounced.
And trust. Most prevalent was the trust. And to say that she trusted someone was no simple feat for anyone, and least of all her. She would die for him in an instant. No hesitation.
But why why why couldn't she look him in the eye? Every time their eyes met, her heart stopped, her breath caught and the blood instantly rushed to her cheeks. She couldn't help herself. She had to look away. Why was this so?
They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. Was she afraid of what she would find in his eyes if she looked hard enough? Was she more afraid of finding nothing reflected back at her? Was she possibly afraid to find a love to match her own longing? Or was it simply the fact that if he looked into her eyes, he would discover her most precious secret. The one she held crushed against her chest.
The secret that she was…. pathetic.
Would he want her after he knew? Would anyone want her if they knew?
At heart, Hermione was not a sentimentalist, she was a realist. And the reality was, her heart was being broken by a one Ronald Weasley, who at this very moment was mashing his face up against Lavender pain-in-your-rectum Brown's on the common room loveseat.
Hermione looked away, unable to bear the sight any more… she never really could. How could she be so in love with a guy she absolutely loathed to be around. Oh, right, he was always attached to the bloody hip with his cotton brained girlfriend. Not that Hermione had anything truly against her female fellow Griffindor. It's just, did Lavender really have to be such a needy vapid twit. Oh dear, thoughts are getting nasty. Time to leave the luuurve shack that is Griffindor Tower and retreat to her own Head common room.
Yes! Surprise surprise! Hermione Granger: Head Girl. Did anyone else see that coming? Of course you did. No one else in the school would have been willing to take on the strenuous task of having no social life because one is too busy planning patrol schedules, social events, keeping their grades up so that they are a role model to the younger students AND somehow managing not to completely go over the edge due to stress… all while taking ONLY one breath. But considering all that has happened in the past half year, Hermione probably was the only person up for the task right now.
Behind every face in the tiny room she sat in, surrounded by friends, lay a poorly concealed sorrow or heartbreak. With Dumbledore……. gone, it seemed to herald the beginning of a vast evil, spreading it's toxin and sucking the life and happiness out of everyone it touched like some sick twisted greedy dementor. It's name could not even be uttered, because to say it was believed to be an ill omen.
Hermione has come into direct contact with one or another of it's foul minions many times over the years and was no longer afraid. What is it they say, to fear something is to give it strength. Voldemort voldemort voldemort voldemort voldemort VOLDEMORT!!!
Everyone in the room ceased their strained chatter and stared at Hermione, some were shocked, others were cringing. Only Harry stared back at her levelly. Oop! Hermione blushed. She must have said his name out loud. Well, seeing as this was the perfect time, she stood up and patted her robes straight.
"Well guys, I guess I better get back to my room. Tough luck about the first week of school. I'm positive next week will be better." Ha, no she wasn't.
Hermione walked to the portrait hole amidst murmurs of 'night' from the other Griffindors. Don't look back, just walk through the portrait hole. You'll regret it if you look back. Hermione turned around just one more time. Ron was staring at her retreat as Lavender lay her head on his shoulder and kissed his neck affectionately.
"Goodnight everyone." Smooth as ever, controlled as ever, she walked out into the corridor and closed the portrait. Straight backed, she marched down the first flight of stairs leading to the great hall.
Outward, she was a pillar of strength. Inside, she was slowly dying and nobody knew her pain. There are only two people she would ever confide in. The first one, Ron, she couldn't confide in cause he was her problem. The second, Harry, had enough of his own problems without her adding to them. With Dumbledore dead, he lost yet another role model in his life. His growing frustration at finding absolutely NO evidence of where Voldemort is hiding over the summer drove him mad to the point where the adults thought it best if he return to Hogwarts for 7th year for his health.
To say the least, Harry wasn't happy.
To say the most, Harry threatened the Order with mass hexing of doom if they prevented his search for Voldemort's hideout. As a compromise, Professor McGonagall, well…. Headmistress McGonagall started up a floo network in one of the old charms classrooms for Harry's exclusive use. Very complex and extensive wards were used but it seemed to calm Harry down. These days, half of Harry's time was spent in various order member's houses so that he could attend meetings.
And Harry and Ginny.
Hermione thought it was tragic that Harry and Ginny now had so much free time, but they were not allowed to spend it together. She honestly didn't know which was worse. Loving someone you're not sure returns your feelings, or loving someone who loves you back, but you can't be together. Well, he can take solace in the fact that he is doing it for a noble cause, to save her life. That said and done, noble causes can't cradle you late at night when you've had a bad day. Hermione sighed. Oh Harry! So much sadness and you're not yet considered an adult. No one should have to go through what you've had to go through.
Hermione was broken out of her pensive and frequently depressing thoughts by a disturbance in the classroom she was currently passing. She abruptly halted her progress and listened more intently. It sounded like…. Sigh!
Another couple getting a little too hot and heavy.
Honestly, in stressful times like this Hermione couldn't be bothered breaking it up. There seemed to be so little joy left in the wizarding world these days, what with Voldemort returned and she imagined this was the only time this couple could be together. However, it was her duty as head girl to stop it and there were first years wandering about, so she rolled up her sleeves and entered.
"The door wasn't even locked, why of all the stupid things to forget…… oh my!"
Hermione turned around and abruptly covered her face in embarrassment and the couple hurriedly readjusted their askew clothing. Admonishing herself for her stupidity in not covering her eyes she watched her fellow classmate and Ravenclaw, Mandy Brocklehurst, rush out of the room muttering something about an early start tomorrow for class. She did not spare Hermione one single glance. Hermione watched her retreat in stunned silence. She was going to have to wash her eyes out once she got back to her room. She even had the nerve to leave before Hermione could dish out the standard punishment.
"Granger." An incredibly irritating drawl issued behind her. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
Hermione spun around, instantly annoyed beyond all belief. Raising her eyebrow coolly, she examined her opponent. Mr. Suave-as-you-can Malfoy complete with his own smirk and button operated derogatory comments. Just looking at him made Hermione seriously wonder whether internal human combustion really was possible and if it was triggered by anger. Nah! If that was so, then she would be dead and ashes a LOOOONG time ago.
"Malfoy, Honestly! Doesn't that shiny badge pinned to your oh-so-expensive robes mean nothing to you? You are Head boy and you should start to act like it. And as far as I know, nighttime liasions with Ravenclaws are not on the list of thing you can do while getting an education at Hogwarts."
"Come on Granger, don't start this bull again. How many times do I have to tell you? I don't have any morals so stop trying to impose your pain-in-the-arse anal retentive morals onto me."
Hermione scoffed. "Aww… Someone is a little cranky cause I scared off their snog buddy. Looks like you and your trusty left hand have a late dinner date tonight." Instantly Hermione inwardly cringed. She was on a really nasty roll tonight. Damn you Ron! Watching him and Lavender got her all riled up. Heh, the more evil and currently prevailing part of Hermione's nature was doing an irish jig.
Malfoy : 0, Hermione: 1.
Draco, meanwhile, was staring at the Head girl with a look that can only be described as impressed. With one elegantly cocked eyebrow, he stood up from his lounging position on one of the classroom tables and stalked up to Hermione.
"This Malfoy has never required that particular service and does not intend to start now. Is this your way of saying that you wish to take my partner's place because you know I don't swing that way. Oh, I'm sorry Herman. I keep forgetting that your gender reassignment is complete. Tell me, I'm interested how that whole process has worked so far, what with all the extensive magical procedures you had to do to cut off the, ahem, offending appendages."
Hermione tiny inner demon growled. He was asking for it and Hermione was almost glad at the opportunity to oblige.
"Hmm… you say you don't swing that way and yet, your interest in Brocklehurst would indicate otherwise."
Draco stepped closer, in an unconscious attempt to intimidate Hermione into submission. "So, does this mean you don't deny the fact that you WERE, in fact, born a man?"
Hermione, not one to back down at such severe intimidation, unabashedly matched his cold glare. "Oh I very much deny this accusation. Is this your way of trying to see my 'evidence', because you aren't doing a very good job. I don't take my top off for anyone, least of all you."
Draco sneered. "Don't make me sick. I wouldn't touch you. There's a reason why you are called the dateless wonder of Griffindor, and that is saying something considering you have dropkicks like Longbottom in your house."
Hermione's chest lurched. That statement hurt. Her eyes narrowed to slits. "I would rather be a prude than a man whore. You're a walking talking STD machine." Hmmm… that last statement stank of lame even to her.
Draco was silent and was just staring at her calculating. It was in this interlude that Hermione startlingly realised just how close they had gotten. Enough time passed in which Hermione begun to fidget when Draco suddenly beamed a wolfish smile and looked her up and down.
"You know what, I never thought I would say this but I think it's almost a waste that you're pinning away with desire for the… shudder… weasel. I mean, he's so poor and his family lives in a dumpster. Anyway, whoever tied your knickers in a knot, remind me that I need to thank them."
Hermione spluttered, not only at the sudden mood swing of the clearly psychotic Slytherin, but at his suggestion that he knew anything of her secret love for one of her best friends. Her heart beat faster at the implication that he knew her secret. Anger boiled to the surface and her face flushed a pink hue.
"Oh that is rich coming from you. You know very well that Ron doesn't live in a dumpster. You've been to his house. You even stayed there for two weeks you ungrateful brat. And excuse me, but I ALSO don't believe I consented to you making outlandish claims about me 'pinning' after anyone thank you. Telling people that I'm really a man is one thing, cause let's face it, no one is going to believe you… But I will NOT have you smearing my and Ron's name."
Draco smiled patronisingly and draped an arm around her shoulder as if he were about to explain something both complicated and difficult. He began to lead a frankly shell-shocked and offended Hermione out of the classroom and down the hall.
"Listen kid. You are not fooling anyone. I know you want to have his disgusting munted children, Potty knows, the entire school knows… and I be damned if one day the echo of this fact will penetrate the large hollow cavity of 'dear Wonny's' skull and reach the miniscule dot that is his brain AND…. allowing six to seven working days…. he'll know too. Denial's a bitch Granger, and she really likes you."
By this point Hermione was defensively hunching her shoulders and practically growling. Inwardly, she was screaming. The whole school…. That can't be…. The whole school… He's lying.
"I am NOT in denial! You are a nosy bastard and there will be NO need for touching thanks. Relieve your sexual impotence and frustration somewhere else." She shrugged his arm off her and started walking faster to her room.
Draco began to match her pace, with an almost nauseatingly irritating grin on his face. "Are too in denial. And can you please stop referring to you and me involved in any sort of sexual situation or position. We've been through this. No, I don't fancy you and no, I don't want you to stalk me."
"Am not and please, I wouldn't stalk you even if you held in your arms the only remaining chocolate bar on the planet. Besides, right now you are following me. Therefore, YOU are the stalker. Get your head out of your arse you narcissistic prick." She picked up the pace as she neared the Head's common room entrance.
"Are too, you neurotic headcase." Draco shot back, thoroughly enjoying himself.
"Are not, pathetic attention-seeking spoilt brat."
The portrait guarding the Head's common room pouted. "That is not the way to get in… I am not letting you in."
Hermione's eye twitched. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong and at the worst possible time. Damn you Murphy and your stupid law! She stopped glaring at Malfoy and glared at the portrait. Staring back at her was a portrait of a very bored looking child with strawberry blond curls and attired in a frilly Victorian-style blue dress. Hermione bunched her hands into fists and sighed in defeat.
"Fine. What do I have to do today?"
The young girl bit her lips in thought. "Ummm… I think you should ummm…. Do a jig. Yes, that would amuse me."
Hermione cringed. "What? Do I have to?" she whined. The portrait nodded with finality, then repressed a small giggle at Hermione's irritated facial expression. Draco grinned like anything at the opportunity for this rare treat.
"You heard the little miss. The jig will 'amuse' her."
Hermione abruptly grabbed her robe lifting it up a little and aggressively stomped her feet about in a fashion that represented more a fit than an actual dance. The portrait fell down in the chair she was sitting on in a fit of giggles while Draco was holding his sides and leaning up against a wall, immobile with laughter.
The portrait swung open and in a fit of rage, Hermione jinxed duct tape to affix itself to Malfoy and the portrait's mouths before storming through the doorway and slamming it shut.
It was times like these when Hermione could understand why some people decide live in caves as hermits. The Himalayas must be spectacular this time of the year. Lots of snow….