"We have to do something about that little git," Ron announced darkly, eyeing Malfoy from over the top of his textbook.
"Agreed," Harry said, nodding his head in consent. "You have any ideas?"
"Nope. I'm counting on Hermione for that."
I sighed plaintively and snapped my textbook shut; it landed onto my desk with a thud. We were in Potions class and had been assigned to complete a Strengthening Solution by the end of the hour, a task that was proving much more difficult than anticipated. "Don't you two have anything better to do than make other people's lives miserable?" I asked Ron, a note of sarcasm lacing my voice. Through the haze of glistening vapors in the room, I saw the boys exchange amused glances.
"Of course not, Hermione!" Ron said, a large smile on his face. "That's what we live for!"
"You're an idiot, Ronald Weasley."
"And you're a nerd, Hermione Granger."
I bristled. "Am not!"
"Are too," Ron shot back.
"Guys!" Harry interrupted, clearly annoyed. "We need to work out a strategy; come on! You two need to stop bickering if you want this to work!"
"Oh fine," Ron sighed irritably, his brief moment of fun spoiled. "What were you thinking of, Hermione?"
I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back in my seat. "I'm not going to help you two with this," I informed them bossily. "I think getting revenge is absolutely despicable."
"But don't you want to get back at Malfoy?" Ron asked disbelievingly, dropping his surly attitude. "After all the things he's said to you? He's called you a mud-blood, for crying out loud!"
I sniffed disdainfully. "Mud-blood or not, I'm still a person. Nothing Malfoy says can change that."
"But – but – "
"No, Ron, I'm not interested."
Harry tried to knock some sense into me. "Hermione, Malfoy's our enemy! He's hated us ever since he first laid eyes on us, and he's done everything he can to wreck our lives!"
"That's true, he has," I admitted reluctantly, adding a fistful of peppermint leaves to my potion. "But that's no reason to go about plotting ways to get back at him. After all, if you did that, you'd be just as bad as he is."
Ron's eyes bugged. "Are you actually sticking up for Malfoy, Hermione? I know you have low standards, but him, really, that's absolutely beyond – "
"Oh, shut up, Ron!" I snapped angrily, looking a bit flustered. "Of course I hate Malfoy, but he deserves the right to be treated with respect; I mean, everyone does, and I believe that if you really think about it, you'll find that people actually have feelings; who would have known?"
"Sheesh, no need to get so touchy."
"I'm not touchy, I just hate it when you judge people."
"Hermione, we know Malfoy, we're not judging him. He's a prat – flat-out, no questions asked."
"Be quiet Ron, let me concentrate!" I hissed.
He looked grumpy, but he knew better than to argue with me when I was in a mood like this. I wrenched open my textbook again and ran my fingers down the list of ingredients. Okay. Now all I needed was a powdered griffin claw and a vial of salamander blood.
I rose from my seat and made my way over to the store cupboard, an ardent potion maker's dream. It was chock full of ingredients; it contained almost everything you could imagine. I immediately began rummaging through a box in the back labeled "salamander parts." I pawed past a bottle of shiny, black salamander eyes, a healing salve made of salamander skin, and a container of ground salamander powder. Finally, I found the vial of salamander blood. I removed it from the box elatedly.
I crossed the storeroom to the box marked "griffin parts." As with the salamander parts, I searched through the box until I found the bag marked "powdered griffin claw."
A contented smile prominent on my face, I turned around to exit the room, but a wickedly familiar figure blocked my way.
"Oh, look," he said rudely. "If it isn't the potions whiz herself."
So like Malfoy to insult me right after I'd stood up for him. That jerk.
"Getting ingredients, are you, Granger?"
"Yes, I am," I said curtly. "Now if you'll please excuse me…" I tried to push past him, but he didn't budge.
"Oh no," he chuckled, smirking away. "You're not going anywhere. Not until you give me those ingredients."
"I think not," I huffed loftily, staring straight at him. No way would Draco Malfoy get the best of me. No way.
Malfoy kept smirking. "Give me those ingredients," he commanded. "Now."
"And why not?"
"They're mine, stupid."
"I know. That's why I want them."
I looked at him quizzically. Sometimes he made no sense whatsoever.
"Please, Malfoy, get out of the way," I ordered, starting to get annoyed. "My potion's going to be ruined."
"Well, that's exactly the point, Granger, don't you see?"
I tried very hard to keep from punching him. "Yes, I do see. Now get out of the way."
"If you insist," he said, rolling his eyes and stepping aside.
Well, that had been easy.
I made my way out of the storeroom, doing my best to look haughty and uninterested.
He sniggered faintly and stuck out his foot as I passed; it all was so sudden, so fast, that I could barely collect myself before I tripped and flew through the air. I hit the cold stone floor of the dungeons with a dull thump, and the breath was instantaneously knocked from me. As I laid there, wheezing for air, Malfoy bent down next me. "Sorry, Granger," he whispered into my ear, not sounding sorry at all. "My foot slipped." He grinned and scooped up the ingredients that had fallen from my arms, then walked away without a second glance."
The nerve of that boy!
I heaved myself off the floor and shouted after him, "Get back here, Malfoy!"
He either didn't hear me, or was simply pretending to ignore what I'd said. Probably the latter.
"That horrible, horrible person," I muttered to myself agitatedly as I picked my way back to my seat. "He's so evil! He stole my freaking ingredients and he just expects to get away with it! That's so wrong!" My voice rose hysterically; I could barely contain myself. "I mean, what kind of a class is this? What kind of a class does the teacher actually let this kind of behavior take place? Oh, right, I forgot I was in Potions! That explains everything. Everything! Stupid, stupid Malfoy! God, I hate his guts! I hate them! I hate them so – "
"Miss Granger?" Professor Snape asked drily, suddenly appearing behind me, a loathing gleam in his black eyes. "Do you have something you wish to share with the class?
"Oh – oh – no, sir," I stuttered, mortified; turning a faint shade of pink. Snape had a repulsive way of appearing right when you least expected him, most usually in a moment where you were making a fool of yourself.
"Well then what was it you were rambling on about, Miss Granger?" he persisted.
"Oh – err – nothing," I squeaked in a high-pitched voice.
Professor Snape's mouth twisted into an unpleasant smile. "From now on, please refrain from prattling on about your opinions during my class, Miss Granger. I believe it would be better for you if you actually paid attention to your work instead of talking all of our ears off in that whiny, insistent voice of yours." Certain that he had made his point, Snape turned away. "And just to let you know, you should probably check your Strengthening Solution. It seems to be smoking."
I gasped in horror and whirled around, only to find that what Snape had said was, indeed, true. My potion was smoking fervently and letting off a very unpleasant odor, something of a cross between burnt rubber and smelly shoes.
"Ten points from Gryffindor," Snape said as he strolled off, "for your extreme lack of concentration."
As I attempted to fix my potion, hands trembling with rage, Malfoy sniggered; he intended to take full advantage of the situation. "Poor little Granger," he said in a carrying whisper, his voice spiked with malice. "Looks like she just got what was coming for her. This proves my new theory – ugly people really do attract trouble. Who would have known?"
"Oh, Merlin," I heard Ron mutter under his breath. "She's gonna snap."
"Just who do you think you are?" I demanded of Malfoy, eyes flashing dangerously, fists clenched. "You can't just go around stealing people's potion ingredients and then insulting the living daylights out of them and calling them 'ugly' with absolutely no regard to their feel – "
"That will be quite enough, Miss Granger," Professor Snape said icily. "Perhaps your tongue will be curbed after I take 50 more points from Gryffindor."
I stood stock-still, glaring at Snape, a look of uncontained hatred etched into my features. Then slowly, deliberately, I lowered myself down into my seat, never taking my eyes off his face.
Snape smirked. "Thank you for settling down, Miss Granger. Now if you'll please see to your potion…"
And with that, he walked away.
I was seething, but, nevertheless, I stalked back to the store closet and retrieved a fresh set of ingredients, which I then chucked into my cauldron rather brutally. The potion returned to its normal shade of purple and ceased smoking.
"I can't believe Malfoy said that!" I vented angrily to Harry and Ron. "That was utterly mortifying; I got 60 points taken away from Gryffindor because of him! I mean, honestly! He called me ugly in front of the whole class, too! He's such a stuck up, spoiled, rude, insulting, evil little – "
Ron chortled. "Changed your mind, have you?"
"You bet I have!" I said with passion. "I was a bit leery about getting revenge at first, but this completely pushed me over the edge."
"Leery?" Ron laughed. "You weren't leery, you were totally against the whole idea!"
I raised my chin. "Well, I'm not anymore. That jerk is going to get what's coming for him. I'll do anything to make sure he pays for what he's done to us."
"Anything?" Ron asked wonderingly, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Never," I said stubbornly, shaking my head. "I will not do that. Ever. Even if you gave me a hundred galleons."
We were sitting in the Gryffindor Common Room, arguing over what plan of action to take. Ron was being unhelpful as usual.
"Oh come on, Hermione," Ron begged. "Please. Do it for me."
"Never, Ron, I mean it."
"You swore you would do anything," Ron said accusingly.
"Well, I wasn't expecting that you'd present this idea."
"You're smart; you should have guessed that I would have."
"Merlin, Ron, just shut up and let me think!"
Ron closed his mouth and lapsed into a sulky silence. We sat quietly for a few minutes until Harry spoke up.
"I think that before we decide what we're going to do, we should figure out what would hurt him the most. Does he have any secret weaknesses or obvious vulnerabilities? If we learn those, we'll be able to crack him."
I smiled brightly. "Good idea, Harry," I said. "You're starting to think strategically."
Harry beamed; praise coming from me was extremely rare. "Does anyone have any ideas?" he asked.
Ron raised his hand tentatively.
"Ron, you're not in class, you don't have to raise your hand," I said cynically.
"Oh – yeah – right." Ron cleared his throat, trying to cover his embarrassment. "Well, I was, err, thinking that maybe if Malfoy fell in love with some girl, she could, uh, break his heart or something. Yeah. Harry's always said that love's the most powerful thing in the world. Why shouldn't that apply to Malfoy?"
"That's brilliant, Ron!" Harry exclaimed. "A broken heart would hurt him more than anything!"
Ron looked rather appalled that Harry had approved his idea; I bit back a laugh.
"But how will we find a girl that Malfoy will fall in love with?" I asked, shattering Ron's carefully thought out plan. "I mean, this is Malfoy we're talking about. He's just about as romantically inclined as a goldfish. In order for him to fall in love, the girl would have to be absolutely perfect."
"Oh," Ron muttered, disappointed. "Not many girls like that around here."
A few more minutes passed in silence.
Then, suddenly, Ron noticed something that he'd never really given much thought to before. "Hey Hermione," he said brightly. "You're a girl! I mean, you're not perfect or anything, but you're really smart and have the potential to look pretty nice, I s'ppose. You could do it."
"Of course not," I said nastily, immediately rejecting the suggestion. "That's even more absurd than your idea of chucking water balloons at his head."
Harry looked at me pensively. "Maybe you should listen to him, Hermione. He's got a point. If you do it, you'll have an actual reason for wanting to hurt Malfoy."
"Whatever," I said with a tinkling, carefree little laugh. "Not like he would actually fall for me or anything. I'm a Gryffindor, I'm muggle-born, I'm brainy, I'm ugly, and I'm bossy. He thinks I'm a complete waste of time and space."
"What?" I demanded.
"Wanna make a bet?"
"A – a what, excuse me?"
"A bet. Surely you know what a bet is, Hermione!"
"I know what a bet is, Ron. But what is it that you want to bet on?"
"You and Malfoy getting together."
I snort a little. "That's absurd, Ronald – "
"No, hear me out. Listen to my conditions. If you break Malfoy's heart by the end of the year, I'll hang myself by my underpants to the top spire of the Astronomy Tower and let everyone watch. Then I'll declare my undying love for the Giant Squid and squirt giant bottles of ketchup into the crowd. Sound good?"
"Too good," I admitted grudgingly. Ron embarrassing himself like that would be hilarious to watch. "What happens if I lose the bet?
Ron sniggered. "You'd have to kiss me."
"No way! That's unfair."
"Take it or leave it, 'Mione. I personally think you're getting the better deal." He made disgusting little smooching noises with his lips: I shuddered and backed away.
In that moment, I resented him. He was forcing me to choose between two equally horrible alternatives. I could break Malfoy's heart, then watch Ron make a fool of himself – OR – I could lose the bet and have to kiss Ron. Neither option sounded extremely appealing. But if Ron really did embarrass himself…
"3 – 2 – 1…"
"Okay, okay!" I said furiously. "I'll do it."
Harry looked somewhat relieved; Ron looked triumphant. "Shake on it?" he asked, extending a pale, freckled hand.
Though my conscience told me not to, my hand raised of its own accord and slipped into his.
"Let the fun begin," he said, a smile playing about his lips.
Then he and Harry walked up the stairs to their dormitory, leaving me to contemplate the seriousness of my impulsive actions and wonder what in the world I was going to do.
Please review! I'm still considering on whether or not to continue this story, so if I get lots of reviews, I'll most likely keep going.
:) Thanks guys!