Title: The Danger of Love

Setting: Hogwarts, Sixth Year

Summary: Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy are accepted into a new advanced course at Hogwarts called Healing Potions and Magic. They both leap at the opportunity, but they had no idea what it entailed - new acquaintances, new friendships, and new loves.

Disclaimer: Credit to the amazing Jane Austen, for her masterpiece simply known as Pride and Prejudice. I have read that book more times than I can count! Oh, and credit to J.K. too. Can't forget that, can I?

Chapter I

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single wizard in possession of a large fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Whether the particular wizard in question is aware of this desire is trivial. Once he reaches the age of eligibility at sixteen, it is recognized by all of the young unmarried witches that he has begun his search for a spouse. It is with great pride, then, that these young witches become all that is beautiful, amiable, and accomplished, so that one lucky girl will be chosen from the rest to become a bride.

Naturally, love has nothing to do with the young man's quest. In fact, even a ticklish fancy can prove a rather troublesome thing for a wizard to have. Whimsies like fondness unquestionably thrive outside of custom, of sense, and even outside of common decency. Each young man knows that it distracts the mind from more important matters and hinders judgment to an alarming degree. From childhood, they are told horror stories where perfectly respectable wizards give up everything they've ever had for something as ephemeral as affection, and they receive almost nothing in return. Love, they know, is the enemy.

This is why love was always the furthest thing from Draco Malfoy's mind. He may not have known the existence of these reasons, but in the end, his mother and father had taught him well: Love was a burden of the heaviest sort. But sometimes things change in the course of one's life that cannot be controlled, and on his sixteenth birthday, when the young master blew out the last candle on his cake, he had no inkling that he would fall in love within the year, despite all of his most cherished beliefs and values.

Poor sod.

It began with a letter, innocent enough, received with his list of supplies three days before school was to begin. The letter had immediately roused his curiosity — it was obviously from Hogwarts, as it was carried by the same type of non-descript owl as his supply list. Eagerly, he snatched it from the bird's foot and tore it open.

To Mister Draco Malfoy, it began, your outstanding grades the past few years have made you eligible for an accelerated course open only to sixth year students called Healing Potions and Magic. This course will be taught by our very own Madame Pomfrey, and will focus on exposing students to various types of healing spells, preventative potions, and the sort. It is highly recommended for all eligible students, but especially those who would like to become a Healer, an Auror, or a Magical Researcher. Please discuss this with your family to find if this course is right for you.

Yours sincerely, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts.

He read it again before he announced to his parents, "This letter says I've been accepted into an accelerated healing course at school."

Coldly, his father glanced at him over his tea cup. "I wouldn't have expected anything less from you." Draco's mother said nothing at all, as she was choosing a biscuit from the small assortment set out on the table.

It was high-tea at the Malfoy Manor. A charming scene, isn't it?

"I expect you to enroll yourself in this class," his father continued after a sip. "This year I anticipate even greater things from you."

"Yes, Father."

"Pour your mother a cup of tea, then."

Delicately, as he had been taught in etiquette school (his secret shame), Draco lifted the teapot with his right hand and poured just the right amount of earl grey tea into his mother's cup.

"Thank you, Draco," she pronounced.

"You're welcome," he returned just as fluidly, setting the pot down and magicking a quill and a piece of parchment to accept his enrollment in the class. With well-trained penmanship, he scrolled his short reply and then snapped his fingers to call up a house elf.

"Send this to Hogwarts immediately," he told the elf that appeared. "It is important."

"Yes, Mister Malfoy," the house elf squeaked back, bowing courteously before disappearing. And, as simple as that, Draco Malfoy was accepted into the rather small class of eight students, all the best and brightest of his yearmates, one of whom in particular would prove to be a nuisance to him and his plans for domestic felicity. Her name was Hermione Granger.

Hermione Granger, unlike Draco Malfoy, was a muggle-born, meaning neither of her parents had any magical blood to speak of. And, unlike Draco Malfoy, she imagined herself unconcerned with these things. She was raised in a thoroughly middle-class world, and although she had mingled with the wealthy, she was not interested in their everyday concerns. In fact, she believed them to be too wrapped up in unimportant matters such as money and appearance when self-reliance and cleverness were clearly more important. If she were to tell Draco this, he'd have laughed her out of the room. That is why neither Draco nor Hermione saw what was coming; for this story is how these two, in a very gradual and lengthy manner, fell in love.

Did I mention that it took a bit of time?