A/N: Five years later.

(Oops.)

Happy first day of Hogwarts, everyone!

-.-.-.

Chapter 8- Mini Pretzels

Ronald Weasley was not having a good day.

He had been late for his Charms class, Harry had eaten the last of his favorite chips, and to top it all off, Ginny told him that Professor Merridew wanted him to do extra play practice at 6 pm. Apparently his audition had been less than impressive.

When he returned to his dormitory from classes, Harry was sitting on his bed, lacing his Quidditch shoes.

"Hey- are you coming down to practice flying with us?" he asked. Every week, a group of the Gryffindor boys went down to practice various broom maneuvers and tricks.

"I can't. Merridew's having me do extra play practices tonight."

"By yourself?"

Ron shrugged. "I don't know. Ginny passed me the message today. She said Merridew saw her in the hall and told her to tell me."

Harry frowned. "Huh. That's weird. Where are you supposed to meet?"

"Down in the south chambers. I forget what room, I wrote it down somewhere…" Ron checked his pockets and pulled out a small scrap of parchment. "Ten… ten something. I didn't write very clearly. I'm sure I'll find the room somehow."

"Oh. Okay. Well, I'm sorry you can't come practice with us."

"Me, too."

Harry picked up his red and gold Quidditch bag and headed out of their room and into the hallway. However, instead of walking down to the pitch as he was supposed to, he decided to take a detour to his girlfriend's dormitory. Something told him Ginny's message definitely didn't come from Professor Merridew.

-.-.

Hermione Granger was also not having a good day.

She and Draco were not on good terms after a small spat the night before had grown into a much larger battle.

It began with an exchange regarding Pansy:

"I really just don't feel comfortable, you know?" Hermione said. "I know you have no feelings for her, but I'd prefer it if you just kept your distance."

Draco was bent over his desk, working on a late paper, and was slightly disengaged from the conversation. "When have I given Parkinson anything but distance?"

"I know, I know. I just get uncomfortable."

"So do I, Hermione. I don't like having her around me, either."

"Yeah, but it can be harder for me, because I'm your girlfriend."

Draco ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "If you're getting this crazy about Pansy, I struggle to think of what you might do if I actually cheated on you."

Hermione's mouth fell open in anger. "I'm not being crazy, and don't joke about that sort of thing. It isn't funny."

"It's also not funny when your girlfriend's being crazy jealous."

"I'm not being crazy! You're a Slytherin, I'm a Gryffindor. We're different types of people. It's not crazy to think that you might get along with other girls more than me. This isn't necessarily about Pansy, this is about all the different girls in the future that are, I don't know… Pureblood. Pretty. More Malfoy-material."

"Hermione!" Draco was standing now, his paper forgotten. "Really, you're being paranoid and insecure. You know I love you, I think I've made that abundantly clear. Remember the time I sang to you in front of our entire school? Or have you forgotton already?"

"Of course I remember! But you're still disregarding my feelings."

Malfoy clenched his teeth. "Quite frankly, Granger, your feelings are kinda stupid right now."

Hermione felt the warm sting of tears building up in her eyes, and she ran back into her room to avoid crying in front of him. Draco waited a few minutes before knocking on her door, apology in tow, but Hermione refused to answer.

The next day, the two still hadn't talked made up. Hermione, instead, was hiding away in Ginny's room, trying to get her mind off of things.

The two were discussing the latest episode of Ginny's new favorite Netflix show when Harry came through the door.

"Ginny… what are you doing to Ron?"

Ginny tried her best to look innocent. "Why the suspicious tone, dear?"

Hermione grinned, remembering the discussion they had had about Pansy and the need to distract her from Draco. The conversation had ended with Ginny and Blaise scheduling "play practice" for Ron.

Harry dropped his bag on the floor and raised an eyebrow. "I'm staying here until you tell me what's up."

"Are you angry-suspicious or curious-suspicious?" Ginny asked.

"Curious," Harry said with a sly smile. "I mean, if I like your plan, I might join in."

"This is why I love you." Ginny hopped up, kissed Harry on the cheek, and motioned for Hermione to bring over her laptop.

"So, Pansy was getting on our nerves with her whole obsession with Draco, so Blaise and I came up with a wonderful plan to help… divert her passions."

Hermione plopped down the laptop and opened it to a Word Document covered with bright letters. "This was the pamphlet that we designed and placed on Pansy's desk in Runes class."

Harry sat between the two girls and squinted to read the pamphlet. In pink lettering, the title read:

"Charm Your Way to a Better You!

Use charms to flatten your belly, shorten your nose, and brighten your eyes! There will be a brief presentation on body-altering charms tonight in the south dungeons, room ten-eighty-five, at 6:00 pm. Come join us to become the best version of you!"

When he was finished reading, Harry nodded in approval. "Nice one. I'd bet you a hundred galleons that Pansy's been wanting to get rid of that pug nose for years."

"And Ron was easy enough to manipulate. We all know he needs to get decent marks in Muggle Studies if he wants to graduate, so we told him he needed to do some extra practicing for our upcoming performance," Ginny said.

"So what's going to happen when they both show up?" Harry asked.

"Well, Ron will likely show up first, because Pansy will probably be 'fashionably late'. Once they get there, they'll realize both of them were set up in a lie," Ginny explained. "Blaise is currently in the dungeon pouring Firewhiskey and putting out a bowl of mini pretzels, so hopefully they'll… mingle."

"Because nothing says romance like mini pretzels," Hermione teased.

"They're cheap! I'm not wasting good money on Parkinson and my brother."

Harry checked the clock on the wall. "It's five minutes to six. I assume you've got some sort of plan on how to spy on the two of them?"

Ginny grinned and pulled up a window on her laptop, which displayed a live stream of the dungeon room. "Web camera."

-.-.-.

Draco was down in the south dungeons, waiting outside room ten-eighty-five and keeping watch as Blaise set up the Firewhiskey for their Ron-and-Pansy trap.

"I mean, Hermione's being crazy, right?" Draco asked. He was sitting in the doorframe, where Blaise could still hear him. They had been talking over the couple's fight the night before.

"I dunno mate. All girls are crazy sometimes. You've really gotta pick your battles."

"But I've never given any indication that I'm interested in anyone else, especially not Pansy. I mean, look right now—I'm helping you set her up with someone else!"

Blaise emerged with an empty bag of mini pretzels. "All finished. We can go."

The two began to trek back up to the Gryffindor common rooms. "So you haven't talked to her yet today?" Blaise asked.

"No. She was already gone when I woke up this morning, and I haven't had time to catch her since."

"Just give her time, and then surprise her with… a good drawing or something, I don't know."

Draco glared. "I suppose I could buy us a round-trip ticket to Pigfarts too, right?"

"Now you're thinking!"

"As long as my dick doesn't get bitten off by a snake, I'm fine," Draco said, effectively ending the argument. Blaise was still bitter that he had to play the role of Snape.

When the two reached Ginny's dorm to watch the dungeon livestream, the tension between Draco and Hermione hung heavy in the air.

Hermione made brief eye contact with her boyfriend, offering him a small nod, and he made the very smart decision to sit across the room on Ginny's desk chair. Harry looked back and forth between the two, trying to figure out what the problem was, but neither party was willing to give up any details.

"Oh, look!" Ginny said, breaking the uncomfortable mood. "Ron's arrived!"

Sure enough, Ron's head, marked by a red blur of hair on the screen, had entered the dungeon. He looked puzzled as he surveyed the Firewhiskey and pretzels, but took a seat at the table nevertheless. The lights in the dungeon were dim, only adding to the unusual ambiance.

A few moments later, the group cheered as Pansy entered the room as well. There was no audio on the camera, but it was obvious by their perplexed expressions that the two were trying to understand the different pretenses they had been lured into the room under.

But after a few awkward moments, the couple sat at the table and began to pick at the pretzels, engaging in conversation.

"Do you think he knows we did it?" Ginny asked.

Blaise nodded. "There's no way he wouldn't."

"Especially after the whole thing they had together at the dance," Hermione added.

They continued to watch intently as Pansy and Ron made small talk and sipped their Firewhiskey. At one point, Pansy touched Ron's shoulder as she laughed at something he said, and his cheeks turned pink. He inched himself closer to her on the bench they were seated on.

Ginny averted her gaze from the screen. "As much as I love screwing with my dear old brother, it's a bit uncomfortable to watch him flirt with Parkinson."

Harry grunted in agreement. "It's also a bit weird that he doesn't know we're watching."

"On the other hand, it makes for some great blackmail," Draco mused.

"Typical Slytherin," Harry said.

"I'm just saying!"

Hermione stifled back a yawn. "I didn't go to bed until late last night, and I still have work to do. I think I'm going to go. This was a brilliant plan, though, you two. Congratulations—I can't wait to see how it turns out!"

"I'll walk back with you," Draco offered. His eyes turned soft.

"I… Okay."

Ginny gave her friend a look as she exited—Forgive him, it said.

-.-.-.

The walk back to the dorms was silent. There were several people in the hallways walking to and from class, and Hermione had too much pride to argue publicly.

But once they reached their Head Room dorms and the portrait swung closed behind them, the angry words began again:

"I hope you're ready to apologize."

Draco bit his lip to hide away his initial response. He took a deep breath. "Excuse me?"

"For last night. For calling me stupid and crazy."

"I did not say that!" Draco defended. "I said you were acting crazy and that your feelings were stupid."

"That literally does not make it sound any better!" Hermione was practically fuming.

"I didn't mean it like that! You know I didn't."

"Well, you're not dong a great job of convincing me."

"Look, this whole jealously thing is completely backwards! You're the one that's still friends with your ex!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron doesn't count!"

"Oh, but Pansy does?"

"You're going to a dance with her!"

"In. A. Play. The same play where you make out with Ron!"

Hermione stopped, stumped. "Okay, so that was a stupid argument."

"See?"

"But my other points still stand!"

Draco groaned, threw his hands up in the air, and turned to walk away. "I'm sorry, Granger! I'm sorry! I don't know what to say to you anymore!"

"Wait."

He paused mid-step, sighed, and turned back around. "What?"

She jutted her chin up and crossed her arms. "I still love you."

"I still love you, too."

"But I'm also still angry."

Draco lips formed a small smile. "I know."

The next morning, there was a drawing on Hermione's desk depicting an angry cartoon version of the Gryffindor girl screaming, her frizzy hair flying up into the air.

At the bottom, it was signed:

"Draco, Your Favorite Half-House Elf

PS: Is that why you like me? Because you're all about that SPEW thing, and you could tell I was part house-elf? If so, I understand. I always did have an affinity for folding laundry…"

-.-.-.

A/N: Hi, everyone.

I guess I might be back? I make no promises. I repeat: NO PROMISES. NO COMMITMENT. I just felt inspired to write. I'm five years older than when I last updated this; I went from seventh grade to college.

So, yeah. Hi again. Missed y'all.

-Potato