Author's Note: This is a Harry/Hermione/Draco love triangle. There aren't enough of them out there. I do not own Harry Potter.
Harry wished Draco Malfoy would quit glancing over to the Gryffendor table with looks that could only be described as less than appropriate. He could only imagine what kind of torture he was probably planning to inflict on any one of his favorite targets, but he swore that if he annoyed Hermione one more time this week, he would remind him of what it feels like to be the small, furry ferret he really was. Maybe he'd drop him down Crabbe's pants, or, better yet, he'd pointedly mess up the spell and leave Malfoy harrier than he probably would like to be. Harry couldn't suppress a chuckle at the thought of Malfoy's face covered in thick, curly hair, and glanced at Ron meaningfully. Ron rolled his eyes.
"Come on Harry, you know Malfoy's a git in pants. He wont bother us today, we've got potions and you know he loves to suck up to Snape. His attention will be on his cauldron." Ron nudged Ginny, who'd heard Harry and Ron chuckle and had turned around interestedly.
"Still, he makes a good ferret," Harry complained with a smirk. Ginny laughed, finally bringing Hermione out of her bookish reverie. She looked up from Hogwarts: A History with a sigh. Harry changed course. "How many times have you actually in read that, 'Mione?" She smiled again, closing the worn book.
"Oh, you know Harry, at least a hundred. Im trying for a thousand. To have it memorized, you know, just in case."
Ron laughed. "Nice, Hermione. In case of what? We're in a battle and have to find the perfect room in which to hide and lose a Deatheater?" His voice was light, but the tone of the conversation was markedly more somber. Neville's smile faultered, and Ginny twisted uncomfortably in her seat. Hermione frowned at Ron and shook her head.
"Actually, Ron, that's precisely what I was thinking. In case they ever attack here again, we have to be at least a bit more aware of our surroundings than they'll be." Her voice lowered, and leaned in. "Havent you noticed our ranks are floundering out? Lots of students are gone, and we lose a few a month. Its basically us, a few Ravenclaws and almost all of Slytherin. Hufflepuff has been emptied except for Ernie, and how many other Muggle-borns have you seen lately?" Harry nodded gravely. She was entirely correct, looking down the table, there were no more than ten Gryffendors left, and what was left of the Hufflepuffs had moved to the Ravenclaw table. The school was being deserted, and without Dumbledore, hardly anyone felt sure they were safe at Hogwarts anymore. However, even the Slytherin's ranks were way low, the weaker, younger, and more afraid families had kept their children home, where they thought they were safer. Only Harry, Hermione and Ron were so acutely aware of the fact that this was not true. Those who were at home were easier to pick out.
"Hermione's right, Ron. No one's here."
"Well mum and dad aren't letting us come home. They know we're all much safer here. At least, we aren't bringing danger home, I guess. Not that they'd hesitate to yank us out the minute their confidence falters." Ginny nodded at Ron seriously, then flipped her hair, as though this was light conversation. "I better be going, I have to finish an essay for McGonagal. see you later!"
"Bye Ginny!" Hermione waved and sighed. "I'm serious, Harry, I'm worried about this. There's talk of an inside job occurring this year, but as far as I'm concerned, its all just talk. No one would dare to at attack us again, nothing would really come of it. Not that I'm not concerned about the safety of the younger ones here."
"Look around, Hermione, " Ron interjected, "how many youngsters do you actually see? Everyone below fifth year is pretty much gone. McGonagal had them all sent home."
"Mmhm, I know but even they're young, compared to us. And they do not have any real means of protecting themselves."
"I bet I know who's behind the inside job," Harry snorted, and glanced from under his hair, which had grown out longer than usual until it nearly always was covering his bright green eyes; at Malfoy, who'd finally seemed to have been able to tear his eyes from their table. "Malfoy."
"Oh, Harry, you know there's no point in starting this again. If he was a threat, why on earth would he have come back again this year? He didn't kill Dumbledore, and everyone knows he was never going to do it. He may be cruel to kids and a right git, but he isn't an idiot, and he knows what to stand for. Obviously, he doesn't stand for Vol-You-know-Who." Harry rolled his eyes. She might be the smartest witch in the school, but she seemed to have trouble understanding his reasoning. Still, there were so many other likable things about her, from her large brown eyes, to her slightly buck teeth and bookish nature. Harry knew she wasn't as dorky as she appeared, having the fond memory of the time he walked in on her and Ginny dancing to some Muggle rock group and doing hair and makeup together. The funny thing is, that instead of it all being Ginny's idea, it happened to have been Hermione's, who had found a fondness for lavish clothes and girly things, though it was subtle and one could still see it now. She was always determined to be "prepared" for any eventuality, and so she maintained a simple tom-boy way of dress, yet she never left her room without nice hair and lip gloss. Lately, he'd noticed she wore her hair differently from day to day, and she had more jewelry on than was customary for him to remember. He figured that, like her mysterious bag, everything she wore had a magical purpose, and was simply part of an elaborate disguise. He couldn't help wondering, though, where she even came up with these things.
"OK, Hermione, but just say Im right...for once. He's crafty. He could easily have us deceived."
"No, seriously, Hermione, think about it. It would all be too simple for him to do it all again. He already has the perfect chance in front of him, and all the resources to follow through this time. You're right, he isn't an idiot. He's second in the school, right behind you. He could easily come up with an even better plan. We need to keep a look out, if even for just something to do." Hermione raised an eyebrow and bit her lip, looking as though she was grappling with some kind of inner battle plan, and couldn't decide whether to argue further, or just agree. He saw a sudden gleam flash in her eyes, and a smile began to tug at the corners of her pouty little mouth. Ron, who was scarfing down eggs, shrugged in his own usual disagreement, and moved on to the toast in front of them. Harry could tell he was about to change subject, but then Hermione spoke again.
"You know, maybe it couldn't hurt to keep surveillance of Malfoy or something. I mean, I doubt he's scheming anything, but it could be interesting to see what he could be hiding. Underneath that cold exterior could be many things, we just have to figure him out."
"Ha! He's not a puzzle, Hermione."
"No, Ron, it's exactly that. The male mind is a great puzzle to me. You two never say what I think you might, and though I know you quite well, you never cease to surprise me with some of the absurdity that you come up with." Harry laughed at Ron's reaction. His eyebrows had risen in utter disbelief all the way to his red hair line.
"What?! You think we are the mystery? Us? It cannot be! Girls are the ones that are unbelievably difficult to understand. And considering the fact you know pretty much everything, I'm shocked."
Hermione chuckled quietly. "Of course you are." She picked up her books and stowed them in her bag. "I'm off to the library, to do some research. Harry, for now, would you mind leaving the Malfoy-watching to me? He wouldn't like it if he caught you looking at him, and you know how badly you or Ron would potentially handle such a situation. If we're going to attempt to pin anything on him, we have to do it very, very carefully. No mistakes." Harry twirled his apple, without really thinking about it.
"Oh. Um, I guess so, 'Mione. If you insist."
"Then I'm with you on it."
"Me too," added Ron, swallowing orange juice loudly.
"OK then. Good. I'll see you guys later in potions, OK?"
Harry and Ron nodded simultaneously, and Hermione walked off. Harry turned his gaze back to Malfoy, and was appalled to see the Slytherin watching the curly-headed brunette head out of the Great Hall with a pensive, determined look.
Attn: I have no idea, this just came to me one night. I'm not sure where its going to go, but it will certainly go somewhere (I hope).