A/N: I know this might be overdone, so read it if you want, but no pressure.

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Chapter 1: Of Potions Homework and Yule Ball Dates

"So, basically, you're going to take the best-looking girl who'll have you, even if she's completely horrible?"

"Er— yeah, that sounds about right."

"I'm going to bed," Hermione snapped.

She stalked off in a huff, but I grabbed her wrist as she passed my chair. "Hermione, come on, I was kidding!" I said, laughing a little. Apparently this was the wrong thing to do, because she fixed me with a glare that would've stopped a raging Hippogriff in its tracks. I quickly arranged my face into a more sober expression and continued, "Do you really think I'd be that shallow?"

She considered me for a moment, then said indignantly, "Well, I would hope not!" She returned to her armchair and snatched up her Potions essay. Her quill scratched swiftly across the parchment, and the little impatient noises she made whenever she made a mistake indicated that her anger hadn't completely cooled.

I smiled to myself as I turned back to my own essay. It was true that we fought a lot, but sometimes Hermione was kind of funny when she was mad. You know, when she's not about to bite my head off. When I really thought about it, I'd never have thought I'd end up being best friends with someone like her. Granted, the circumstances of our friendship were fairly unique. Not many people become friends after one of them accidentally locks a troll in with the other and then rescues her from it.

It was nice to have a brilliant friend, though, I reasoned, frowning at my Potions essay. Especially when Snape assigns us pointless stuff like "Name six practical uses of lacewing flies in potion-making." I mean, who cares? I raised myself slightly out of my seat, craning my neck to try and read Hermione's essay upside down.

She glanced up and narrowed her eyes at me. "Can I help you?" she asked frostily.

Still mad at me. "Er, no, just stretching," I said quickly, dropping back into my chair. Guess I'll just have to do it the old-fashioned way, I thought, sighing and grabbing my Potions book. I looked up lacewing flies in the index, turned to the first set of pages listed, and began to read. After about five sentences, I realized I hadn't taken in anything written there. I gave up and stared into the fire.

Not that I'm friends with her just because she helps me with homework, I reasoned, continuing my thoughts from earlier. For one thing, there's no way Harry or I would have survived this far if not for her quick thinking under pressure. We'd have been strangled to death by that Devil's Snare in our first year. Even though she gets annoyed with Harry and me sometimes—okay, mostly me—that doesn't stop her from helping us out of trouble when we need it. And she's actually pretty fun to be around, when she isn't stressing about homework or nagging me about doing mine. I considered this for a moment. Actually, I wouldn't mind going to the Yule Ball with her. She's already seen my dress robes, so that's one less embarrassing moment. Plus, she probably suspects that I can't dance, so no pressure there either. And we'd just be going as friends, so it'd almost be like any other day. Pleased that I wouldn't have to go through the trouble of finding a date, I decided to ask her right then, even if she was still a little irritated with me.

"Hey, Hermione," I said.

She looked up. "Yes?" To my delight, she sounded much less upset than earlier.

"I was wondering if you'd want to go to the Yule Ball with me," I said, mentally crossing my fingers.

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "I'm far from being the best-looking girl in the school," she replied.

I rolled my eyes. "Come on, no you're not." For some reason, she blushed slightly when I said this. "So, will you go with me?"

"Yeah, okay," she said, and returned to her essay with a slight smile playing around her mouth.

"Great," I said happily, leaning back in my chair. I glanced at Harry, and was surprised to find him looking at me shrewdly. "What?" I asked, confused.

"Nothing," he replied quickly, bending over his charms homework with a smile.

I looked from him to Hermione, shrugged, and returned to my Potions reading.