Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters are not mine.
A/N: This fic was originally written for Solas_Divided as part of the dmhgaprilfools exchange. My prompt was for the fic to have romance, comedy, and some drama. Hino-san, thanks ever so much for being patient and kind and most importantly not quitting after I ran way too many fic ideas by you. :D
"If you're not with us, then you're against us." Ron crossed his arms and puffed out his chest, glowering at the petite witch in front of him.
"Oh how original," Hermione spat back. "Did you spend all day thinking of that one?"
Ron grew red. "Insulting me won't make me change my mind," he said stiffly.
"No, I suppose not. But seeing how you're not one to listen to reason, I thought maybe that would do. Can't blame a girl for trying." Hermione took a deep breath, trying to calm down. "But back to the issue. I'm not going to give you that oath. You shouldn't need one…not if you trust me."
"I know you, Hermione. I know how you are about breaking rules," Ron replied. "I'm more than happy to have your help in our prank war against the Slytherins, but I need your promise that you won't tell anyone about our plans."
"And I told you I wasn't about to swear to that unless I get veto authority over your plans," was her response. She clenched her hands into fists. She was itching to hex the fool in front of her to end the argument, but she reminded herself that violence was never the answer.
But it was oh so tempting.
Hermione shook her head, trying to clear it of such ideas. She thought back to how she had got herself into this mess. Earlier today in potions, Harry and Ron had got into a bit of a bragging match with Malfoy and his ilk. One thing led to another, and before long, both sides were vowing to wage a vicious prank war against each other. Hermione hadn't thought much of it, thinking that the silly boys—her own included—were just blowing off stress brought about by the fast approaching N.E.W.T.s.
However when she came down the stairs that evening after dinner to get a book from the library, she saw Harry and Ron, their heads together as they plotted away. Ginny was also with them, but Hermione knew that she couldn't count on the younger witch to keep the wizards out of trouble. Ginny was more likely to cheer them on as they concocted a plan that would get them tossed out of school.
So Hermione had marched up and declared that she would help. Harry and Ron had eagerly accepted her aid—though Ginny had shot her a dirty look—and then went on to catch her up with everything they had already thought of. Almost immediately she had realized that several of their ideas could lead to serious injuries for the Slytherins. She had pointed that out to her friends, and that was when things started to go downhill.
Ron had turned positively belligerent when she suggested that they modify their prank ideas. He went on and on how this was his chance to outdo his older brothers, and he wasn't about to let her cowardice get in the way of that. Harry had been no help, remaining silent as his friends continued to argue, but he was better than Ginny who inserted snide remark after snide remark about Hermione. Finally Ron delivered an ultimatum—he wanted Hermione to take an Unbreakable Vow that she would not reveal any of their pranks to anyone.
Hermione had refused, and the fight was on.
"Give you veto authority? Are you insane? You'd toss out all of our ideas and leave us helpless against the Slytherins."
"You don't know for certain that they have anything planned," said Hermione. This time she was the target of not one but three disbelieving glares. "Okay fine. Besides that I'm not going to take a vow of silence while you're plotting to land an entire house in the infirmary. That's not right, Ron."
He only snorted in response, and so she continued on. "Not to mention that you shouldn't need such a promise from me. You've not asked Harry or Ginny for the same."
Ron rolled his eyes at her. "That's because I can trust them… which is more than I can say for you."
Hermione hissed. She couldn't believe that he just said that. "Is that so?" she asked. Her voice sounded oddly calm to her own ears. She was raging inside, absolutely incensed that Ron didn't trust her after everything they had been through. The fact that Harry wasn't even trying to defend her also infuriated her. "Well you know what. If you don't trust me, then I guess you don't need my help." She whirled around and began stomping out of the common room.
"Didn't need it in the first place," Ron called after her. "Everyone knows you're pants at being sneaky."
Hermione stopped in her tracks. Don't kill him, don't kill him. Do that and you'd be expelled. "So glad to hear that," she said through gritted teeth. "I hope you still feel the same way later when you're worried about N.E.W.T.s. I'm done trying to keep you two—no you three out of trouble! Off to the library for me." With that, she made her exit.
Hermione fumed as she walked. How dare Ron treat her like that? She thought they were friends but evidently not—friends didn't treat friends like that. And Harry was just as bad, the way he without fail picked Ron's side over hers, no matter the circumstances. And then that final shot about her not being sneaky—how dare he! Hadn't she proved herself to them, back in second year when she carried through her daring plan to brew Polyjuice or even in fifth year when it was due to her clever thinking that they were able to lead Umbridge into a trap. Well she would show them.
Hermione made her way to the dungeons at a fast clip. She shivered slightly. The dungeons were always the coldest place in Hogwarts, seeing how they were under the lake and all. If she had been thinking, she would have brought a cloak with her but she had been so livid that she had simply stormed off. Her jumper was thin, and so she huddled in an attempt to get warm.
She stopped at a nondescript wall then declared, "Weasels suck!" At that password, the wall slid open, revealing the entrance to the Slytherin common room. Sometimes it was good to be Head Girl.
She stalked inside. Her entrance attracted the stares of the younger Slytherins, but she ignored them in favor of locating her target. She scanned the room, looking for a head of hair too bright to miss. Unfortunately it wasn't there.
"Blast," she swore softly. It was time to shake down a first year for information. She sized them up out of the corner of her eye then approached a small group of first years. "Where's Malfoy?" she asked as she stopped in front of them.
No answer was forthcoming. Hermione huffed in annoyance. "It's official head student business, so unless you want me to start taking points off, I suggest you tell me where Malfoy is hiding this evening."
The first years looked at one another, all clearly torn. "He's in the seventh year boys' dormitory," one of them finally volunteered. "But you can't go in! They're—"
"Oh have no fear. I'll get in even if I have to blast the damn door open. Five points to Slytherin for being helpful." She went through the dormitory and then down the stairs that led to the dormitories. Hermione slowed down as she arrived at the seventh year dorms, which were at the very end. There was a sign upon the door.
"Confidential," it said. "Keep out!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. That wasn't about to stop her. Still her parents had spent a great deal of time drilling manners into her, and so she knocked on the door first.
"Go away!" shouted a voice from the room.
She ignored that command and tried the doorknob. It was locked. She whipped out her wand to cast Alohomora, but it did no good. Several more complex opening charms later, the door was still sealed shut. Hermione was at her wit's end. For all her earlier bluster about blasting the door open, she wasn't about to do that—that would land her a month's worth of detentions at least, time which could be better spent revising.
Her only option was to annoy them until they came out. She started knocking at the door incessantly. A couple of minutes of that, and her knuckles were sore. Catching sight of a suit of armor, she took out her wand again. One swish and flick of it later and the suit of armor was loudly banging on the door for her.
That did the trick. "All right. Who wants to die?" Malfoy snarled as he yanked the door open, his wand clutched tightly in his hand.
"Thanks Malfoy." There was hardly any space, but Hermione still managed to squeeze past him. A quick glance of the room revealed that all seventh year Slytherin wizards were present. She had to admit that they were better organized than her friends. At least they tried to keep their plans secret, unlike Harry and Ron who plotted in the common room, heedless of how easily their conversations could be overheard.
"Granger?" Malfoy blinked in surprise. He shut the door and turned to face her. "What are you here for? Come to spy on us?"
"Honestly! Don't ridiculous."
"Yes because obviously I would be mad to think that you would want to stop us from getting revenge on those idiots you call friends."
"No, not mad—"
"Obviously not," Malfoy said dryly.
Hermione continued on as though he hadn't interrupted her. "You're just not current on your Hogwarts gossip. Those two have sunk to a new low, and I've had it with them. I'm here to help you prank those two fools."
"Yeah right. Do I look like I'm stupid?" He held up a hand. "Rhetorical question. Don't answer that."
"I knew that."
"You're the sort to answer rhetorical questions, just to show off how clever you are. But in any case, we're not buying your little sob story. Get out!"
"Speak for yourself, Draco." A tall, lanky wizard stepped forward. "I happen to find Granger's offer of assistance…intriguing."
Malfoy narrowed his eyes. "Is that so, Theo? I wasn't aware that you had taken leave of your senses. If I had known, I would've helped you to the hospital wing after supper."
"Have I ever told you how grateful I am that we're friends, Malfoy? Cause I'd hate to think of how vicious you'd be if we were enemies," Nott responded. "But I happen to believe Granger. Do you think she's lying?"
At his friend's urging, Malfoy looked appraisingly at Hermione. She met his glare head on. "You're telling the truth, aren't you?" he said slowly.
"Yes I am," was her reply.
"So do you believe her?" prodded Nott.
Malfoy grudgingly nodded his head. "She's not trying to fool us. If she were…her eyes would be shifting down and to the right, and she'd be wringing her hands constantly. I think she's sincere about wanting to help." Nott muttered something that Hermione couldn't quite catch, but it earned him a hard stare from Malfoy. Nott coughed nervously and turned his head aside.
Hermione's gaze flickered over to the other wizards in the room, who had yet to say anything about her offer. She thought it was strange that they were so quiet. While Crabbe and Goyle were perhaps used to following Malfoy's lead, she would have thought Zabini would have put in his two knuts by now. All three of the other wizards were staring at her. Both Crabbe and Goyle's mouths were hanging slightly open, and their eyes were glazed over. That was nothing out of character for them though. Zabini, however, was positively leering at her. In horror, Hermione realized that direction of his stare was her chest. Flushing furiously, she glanced down to see her nipples had hardened enough that they were visible peaks.
"Here," said Malfoy, tossing a cloak at her. He glared at Zabini and the others and muttered, "Bloody pervs, all of you."
"Thanks," Hermione said as she pulled the cloak on. Before Hermione had time to analyze what had happened, Malfoy was speaking to her again.
"So I can't help but be curious as to why you've decided to abandon your friends," he said.
"Because they're idiots. I thought you knew that."
"Oh I know that they're fools, but then they've been fools for the last six years and that hasn't stopped you from supporting them. What suddenly prompted you to come over to the cunning side? I would have expected you to be with them, plotting how to pull one over on us."
Hermione wrinkled her nose. She didn't really want to explain everything that had happened that morning for that would only serve to upset her more, but she could see that Malfoy wasn't about to drop the subject. "I was originally. But then Ron started insisting that I take an Unbreakable Vow not to reveal their plans to anyone and—"
"And you told him to stick that idea where the sun don't shine…or so I hope." Malfoy rolled his eyes. "What an idiot. Doesn't he know how serious that is?"
"Exactly!" It felt good to have someone see her side. "And to make it worse, he didn't ask the same of Harry or Ginny."
"And I wager he didn't offer to take a reciprocal Vow in return," said Nott.
"Of course not!" She clenched her fists as she remembered how Ron had refused to promise not to hurt anyone. "And then to top it all off, that idiot claims that he didn't want my help anyway because I'm not sneaky enough."
All of the Slytherins, including Crabbe and Goyle, erupted into gales of laughter at that. "Are you serious? He really said that?" asked Malfoy as he snickered. She nodded her head.
"Wow. He's even more of an idiot than I thought," said Nott. "Doesn't he know that you're sneakier than the rest of the Gryffindors put together?"
"Yeah," agreed Malfoy. "You're the only one who knows how to bend rules. The rest of them just break rules and then whine when they have to face the consequences."
"You don't know the half of it," she muttered. Somehow letting the Slytherins know the source of her frustrations made her feel better. Her feet were getting tired from standing and so she went over to sit at a nearby desk. "But to get down to business, what sort of ideas have you discussed so far?"
Malfoy's eyes gleamed while the rest of the Slytherins looked away. "I'm so glad you asked. We were just talking about that before you came—"
"I gathered as much from the signs on your door."
"Oh you read those?" Malfoy said. "Here I thought you hadn't noticed, what with the way you insisted on interrupting us."
Hermione bit her tongue. She would have dearly loved to reply to that, but they had more pressing issues to address. Such as her wreaking vengeance on Harry and Ron for being such miserable friends. She gestured for Malfoy to continue his explanation.
"Well I had just revealed a most brilliant prank that we could play on the Weasel, but my associates were…less than impressed."
Nott snorted. "That's putting it mildly."
Malfoy crossed his arms and looked aggrieved. "That's because you don't appreciate genius," he said.
"Genius?" Zabini said from his seat. "Are you mad, Malfoy? Your idea was possibly the most lame one yet! And that includes Goyle's suggestion to trip Weasley in the Great Hall on his way to the breakfast table one morning."
"I thought that would be funny," mumbled Goyle. Crabbe patted him consolingly on the head.
"So what was this great idea of yours?" Hermione asked, curious despite her suspicions that it couldn't be that good if the other Slytherins disliked it so much. Her question drew groans from all corners of the room.
"Here we go again," Nott said under his breath.
His friends' lack of enthusiasm didn't faze Malfoy. That gleam of excitement was back in his eye, and he was shifting back and forth on his feet in anticipation. "When researching my last potions essay, I came across an interesting recipe," said Malfoy. "There are some issues on how we'd get Weasley to drink it and all—"
"That shouldn't be too hard, given his eating habits," Hermione said.
"Good point. But this potion once taken will curse its drinker with one hour's worth of bad luck…at chess."
Hermione inhaled sharply. "Really?" she said. She bounced forward and took Malfoy's hands in hers. "You are a genius!" she proclaimed.
Malfoy beamed at her. "That's what I said! But no one listened. They all just said that my idea was lame."
"No, no, it's not. It's pure, unadulterated genius. Talk about hitting Ron where it hurts."
"Right! He's never lost a game in his life. He's not going to know what to do when he can't win at all."
"He's going to be crushed—" Hermione gloated out loud.
"Absolutely devastated—" Malfoy crowed.
"When I beat him at wizard's chess!" the two of them finished together.
"Wait a second," said Hermione. "You want to beat him too?"
"Of course I do! I have a better claim than you," Malfoy stated.
"Ha!" she snorted derisively. "Somehow I don't believe that. I put up with him and his eager mug gloating at me each time I lost for the last. Six. Years. Beat that!"
"Well you might have had more recent aggravation," said Malfoy, "but I've been waiting for this chance longer." He sniffed forlornly. "I still remember that day. I was five and it was 'take your brat to work' day at the Ministry. I was tagging along with Father when we ran into Weasel and his father. The older Weasel was harassing Father about some trivial matter, and so we were left to our own devices. Weasel challenged me to a game of chess. I thought it might be fun to learn and so I agreed…but then he beat me in two moves! And then the insufferable bastard had the bloody nerve to gloat about it!"
Hermione winced. "All right. So Ron was a jerk back then. But your one incident doesn't compare with my six years—count them six!—of agony."
"I wasn't finished yet," said Malfoy. "After Weasel had his fill of laughing at me, he offered to play another game. Said he'd take it easy on me this time since I was trying to learn the game and all. Too bad I didn't know that his idea of taking it easy was beating me in four moves instead of two."
"Ouch. A fool followed by a scholar." Hermione couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards Malfoy. She could just see how upset he must have been as Ron crushed him at chess mercilessly. "I feel your pain, Malfoy, I really do. But when you stack that up against the fact that I've put with him for the last six years, almost seven—no practically seven years—well it becomes clear that I should be the one to beat him at his own game."
"It should be me. I'm probably going to be the one who has to spike his drink. I should get rewarded for taking that risk."
"What risk? Weasel imbibes everything in sight without thinking. If anyone deserves to trounce him at chess, it's me. Without me, you wouldn't have even known about this potion."
Hermione glowered at the pale wizard. She poked him in the chest. "No. Me."
"Ha! You might cow Gryffindors, but you're dealing with a real man now, Granger. I'm not backing down. It's going to be me."
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it will."
"Dear Merlin," swore Theo out loud, "they're going to be at it all night."
Five hours later, they were still going. Goyle had stuck his head under a mountain of pillows, trying to drown out the noise, while Crabbe was left to cover his ears with his hands. Blaise had left, declaring that he had better things to do, leaving Theo to try to facilitate some sort of agreement between the warring parties.
So far he had had no luck. Pansy had shown up a couple hours ago, demanding to know what was interrupting her beauty sleep. Theo had implored her for help, but the heartless witch had left, saying that she liked living too much to try and separate those two.
Theo sighed mournfully. "They're never going to stop," he said. The only replies he received were more whimpering from Crabbe and Goyle, and another round of arguing coming from the bickering couple in the middle of the room.
Just then, the door to their dorm flew open. "Just what is that infernal racket I hear!" thundered Snape in high dudgeon. His cloak billowed behind him, and he was quite a formidable figure. However, Draco and Hermione ignored him and instead continued shouting at one another.
As Crabbe and Goyle were doing their best to hide, it was left to Theo to answer Snape's question. "It's Draco and Granger, sir," he said. "They're arguing."
"I can bloody well see that. What are they arguing about?" he demanded.
"Draco found this potion that supposed to curse its drinker with bad luck at chess. These two can't agree who gets to trounce Weasley."
"Is that so?" Snape sidled up to the pair, and Theo crossed his fingers. If anyone could stop those two, it would be his Head of House. Unfortunately Snape became distracted by the potions text that lay abandoned on the floor next to Draco and Granger. He picked it up and flipped to the marked page. His brow furrowed as he perused the recipe Draco had found.
"Interesting," he said as he finished. "I believe that a pinch of lovage would prolong the effect and make it last for a month."
Blessed silence reigned in the room for a long moment. "Give me that," shouted Draco. He snatched the book away from Snape. Granger hung over his shoulder, reading the recipe along with him, and Theo could practically see the mental calculations going on in both their heads.
"He's right," Granger said. "Lovage would make it last longer."
"Of course I'm right." Snape looked aggrieved. "Potions is my specialty, you fool girl."
Granger would have normally taken umbrage at that, but she was too excited to pay attention to Snape. "That's perfect," she said. "This way we can both beat Ron."
"Which is better than just one of us doing it," said Draco. "It'll make him suffer more."
"Yes, yes," said Granger. "So after I beat him at chess, you can challenge him—"
"No, I get to go first," said Draco.
"Don't be ridiculous. I think we've established that I've had more aggravation from him than you and so I should get to go first."
"I've been waiting longer. Me first."
"Haven't you ever heard of ladies first?"
"Good thing you're a witch then. I don't have to bother with such fool notions. You can challenge him after I've demolished him a few times."
"If you think I'm going to wait for you, you've got another thing coming."
"Sweet Merlin, not this again!" Theo cried. "I can't take much more of this."
"Best sleep in the common room then," Snape advised. He glanced over at the cowering bulks of Crabbe and Goyle. "Come on, you two. You don't want to stay here. I think it's going to get rather scary in a little bit." Those two wizards nodded their agreement and fled the room.
"But sir! Aren't you going to stop them?" Theo asked.
Snape shot him a look that made him feel about an inch tall. "I'm ill-tempered and perennially grouchy, not suicidal," he said icily. "The two of them will sort it out themselves eventually. Until then, a silencing charm on the room should mute most of the squabbling."
Theo followed his professor out of the room, not happy at the notion of having to spend the night trying to sleep on the sofas in the common room. Snape cast a powerful silencing charm on the room after the door closed. It helped reduce the noise, but not completely.
"There," said Snape. "That should last till morning. If you're lucky, you won't be able to hear them at all once you get to the common room. Now if you excuse me, I'm behind on my beauty sleep."
Theo gingerly approached the boys' dormitory the next morning. Just because he could no longer hear an argument going on, that didn't mean there wasn't one. Given how loud Draco and Granger had got last night, the two of them might have lost their voices. Theo knew that alone wouldn't be enough to stop them, not when neither of them even blinked an eye when Snape arrived.
As Theo drew closer to the door, he heard giggling. He heaved a sigh of relief. Hopefully that was a good sign. If Granger was giggling, then their bitter argument must be over and she must have won. With that cheery thought, he pushed open the door and entered the dorm.
He was greeted by the sight of Draco and Granger sitting on Draco's bed. Draco's arm was snaked around Granger's waist, while her hand was on his knee…and slowly creeping upwards. In shock, Theo raised his eyes. He saw that both of their cheeks were flushed, and there seemed to be a love bite developing on Granger's neck along with several on Draco's.
"Granger and I have come to an understanding," Draco declared.
"Yes," said Granger. The smirk on her face was matched by Draco's. "We decided it was best to share."
"I see," said Theo. He gulped nervously. An uneasy feeling had settled in his stomach as he realized that Granger was referring to something much bigger than a mere prank. He made a mental note not to get on the bad side of either of them for the couple in front of him was going to rule the world some day.