Hermione sat in the common room doing homework. Just another Thursday evening. Hermione hated Thursdays. Even when she'd gone to her muggle primary school Thursday had been her least favourite day of the week. There was just something about the fact that there was one whole day left in the week. Not that Hermione minded school. It was just the principle of the thing. School meant waking up early, too early for her, and going to class. Also, teachers assigned double the homework they usually did at weekends. Hermione, contrary to whatever Harry and Ron might believe, did not like homework. Who did? She just didn't resent it the same way they did. She did love learning though and learning and homework went hand in hand.
Biting the end of her quill Hermione stared at the last line of calculations for her arithmacy class. arithmancy was Hermione's favourite subject. The number charts and calculations appealed to her logical side. She missed regular old muggle maths though. She'd never tell anyone, but sometimes, for fun she'd do quadratic equations on a quiet Sunday afternoon. When Hermione had been younger she'd struggled with even the most basic maths. One day her father had come home from work to find her sobbing quietly at the kitchen table as she'd tried in vain to finish her homework on fractions. Her father had pulled a chair out and sat down beside her. Staring her in the eyes he told her that there was no way that she could be good at everything. It just wasn't possible or fair. Then he had helped her with her sums. Hermione smiled at the memory.
From that evening on, Hermione and her father would do her maths homework together. Over time she had begun to improve. Slowly at first and then in leaps and bounds. One day it had all just clicked and she'd fallen in love. In maths everything was sure and concrete. Rational and organised unlike so much in the wizarding world. Doing those quadratic equations made her feel closer to her father and her home. She missed her parents dreadfully when she was at school, though she didn't talk about them much. She doubted that Harry or Ron knew either of their first names, simply calling them Mr. and Mrs. Granger. The thought made her sad.
From her bag on the floor Hermione pulled out her charms essay which was due the following day. The essay, which had been assigned on Monday, had been completed earlier in the week, Monday night to be exact. She read through it quickly. Scanning for spelling mistakes of which there was none. Hermione felt eyes on her and turned to see Harry who was craning his neck to look at her roll of parchment. Hermione pulled her paper back towards her chest and narrowed her eyes at him.
"Have you the charms essay done yet Harry?" she asked. He shook his head and sighed, running his hand through his unruly black hair.
"I forgot about it. How many roles of parchment does it have to be?" he said.
"Three." She said looking back at her own work. She continued to read, chewing on the tip of her grey quill absent mindedly. Harry sighed loudly and Hermione looked up.
"Hermione. Can I ask you something?" Hermione bit back a semi snarky comment about how he had already asked her a question.
"How do you ask a girl out?" Harry's cheeks burned red. "Y'know. The Yule Ball. McGonagall said that the champions have to bring dates." Merlin! How Hermione hated the idea of that bloody ball. It reminded her of the awkward preteen discos of her old muggle primary school. Everyone having fun but her. When she'd told her mother this, her mother had wisely said that just because the other kids looked like they were having fun didn't mean they actually were. Laying her essay down on the side of her small sofa, Hermione smiled at him.
"Just be yourself. Besides, I bet all the girls are crawling over eachother to go with a champion." Harry groaned and slid further down on the couch closest to the fire. It was late and the common room was empty.
"Thanks." Harry said his tone sarcastic. "Great advice. It sounds like something Mrs. Weasley would say." Hermione stifled a laugh. It was in fact something that Mrs. Weasley had said. When she'd gave her and Ginny the ominously named 'talk' during the summer. Hermione felt her face heat up as she thought of the humiliation of listening to Mrs. Weasley talking about the difference between lust and love and menstruation. Poor Mrs. Weasly was a little too late though. Hermione had know about the birds and the bees since she was eight and had stumbled across a book on the human reproductive system in the upper school library. Mrs. Weasly's version was quite different though. Gone were the nice, safe, scientific terms. Mrs. Weasley had repeated how no one will buy the cow if they can get the milk for free like a mantra. Hermione inwardly cringed.
"I don't know Harry." Frustrated she continued. "I'm not exactly an expert." She wasn't. Hermione had never even kissed a boy. How pathetic was that? Not very, her rational side told her. Not everyone in her year had been kissed. Well, Harry and Ron hadn't anyway. She'd know if they had, wouldn't she? Of course she would! Besides, Ginny would have told her. Ron was a gossip, so if Harry had kissed anyone he'd have told Ginny who'd tell Hermione. If Ron had kissed a girl he'd have gloated about it for weeks on end. There would've been no shutting him up.
"Sorry." Harry said. "Its just that I want to ask Cho to the ball." Harry refused to meet Hermione's eyes. He scuffed his trainer on the floor as he continued. "But how can I tell if she likes me?"
"You can't." Harry rolled his eyes.
"Great. Where does that leave me? I want to ask her, but what if she says no? Besides, she's always with her friends. Its intimidating!" he whined. Hermione raised her eyebrows at his child like display of complaining.
"Well - " Harry cut her off.
"Its stupid! Girls are stupid! They can't even go to the bloody bathroom without an escort!" he fumed. Hermione chose to ignore his caveman like attitude towards women. Now was not the time or the place for her lecture on the sex discrimination evident so much in modern day Britain. Wizarding world or not.
"It's a confidence thing Harry. Girls travel in packs. It may be stupid but its the way that its done." She shrugged her shoulders pulling her essay back onto her lap.
"But you don't!" Harry said as if what she did or didn't do was the social norm of the rest of Hogwart's female population.
"That's because neither you nor Ron is a girl. Though at times I think that it would be easier if you were." Harry laughed and stood up. He yawned and began to gather up his books.
"Harry," she warned. "That essay is due tomorrow. Professor Flitwick assigned it Monday. You should do it." Harry just laughed again and shook his head. Hermione blew an angry gust of air out of her nostrils. Boys! In particular her boys! Harry and Ron. She loved them both but they could be infuriating. Hermione didn't need to consult her tea leaves to know that Ron wouldn't have done that essay either. She hadn't seen him crack the spine of any of his text books this evening before he'd gone to bed. He could be so frustrating at times! It didn't matter though, she loved him anyway.
She couldn't help but hope that Ron was going to ask her to the Yule Ball. There was still a few days before things got really desperate. She'd tried hinting. Just this morning, she'd discussed the colour of her dress robes, a pretty periwinkle blue, in front of him with Ginny. His eyelids hadn't so much as flickered. He'd just continued to stare at the Ravenclaw table where Fleur de la Cour sat eating French toast. How patriotic of her.
What was so great about Fleur anyway? Harry and Ron both maintained that her veela blood made her more potent to men but really! How could some blood from a distant relative make her that bloody different to say... her! Besides, Ron didn't have a chance in hell with Fleur. He was a fourth year and she was a seventh year. And a Twizard champion. Not to mention a stuck up bitch. Ron was just setting himself up for disappointment.
Sometimes she wondered whether Ron even noticed that she was a girl. She stared down at her admittedly flat chest. Arching her back she pushed her chest out. They weren't that small! Ron obviously though of her as a bland, sexless blob. He must have noticed that she didn't sleep in the boys dorm with him and Harry. Even Ron wasn't that stupid.
Maybe he'd ask her tomorrow. In fact, she was sure he would. He'd realise that she, one of his best friends, was the perfect solution to all of his problems. On the night of the ball he'd be blown away by her new dress, and her sleek hair and straight teeth. Ah, her teeth! Courtesy of Draco Malfoy thank you very much! Her parents were going to be disappointed that she hadn't stuck with her braces. But they had been ridiculous! She was the only student in the entire school with them. Things would have been different if this was a muggle school, but it wasn't. People had stared at her strange, metal filled mouth. Everytime she opened her mouth in front of Pansy Parkinson, the Slytherin would dissolve into raucous giggles. She couldn't help but wonder what Ron would think of her transformation.
Would his eyes shine with amazement when he saw her, taking in her satin robes? Would he smile at her when she shyly walked over to him, the tips of his ears turning that adorable shade of pink? Would he tell her that she looked beautiful? Would they dance? Would he kiss her? Hermione sighed. This night could be so perfect. If only he'd ask her.
But what if he didn't. What if he asked Fleur? What if Fleur said yes! She'd feel like such an impostor as Fleur swanned around the room on Ron's arm. Fleur with her pretty French hair and pretty French face. Not so much as one muddy freckle marked her ivory skin. Maybe someone else would ask Hermione. Neville perhaps. Neville was sweet but Ginny had her eye set on an invite from him so that she too could go to the ball. The edges of Hermione's mouth twisted up as she pictured Ginny as the cartoon muggle Cinderella. She would go to the ball! With Neville as her Prince Charming no less!
Ever since she had been small Hermione had loved fairy tales. They made her laugh, cry and had taught her quite a lot about life. Never talk to strangers, wolves or strange wolves (Little Red Riding Hood), don't take apples from creepy old women (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) and her personal favourite the grass is always greener on the other side. So much greener that you should even be willing to cross a bridge with trolls underneath (The Billy Goats Gruff). Ron and Ginny had laughed when she'd told them the old stories from her childhood during the Christmas holidays last year. They'd sat in Ron's room, drinking hot cocoa and giggling. Ron had fallen over clutching his stomach while Harry and Hermione had quoted the troll from the Billy Goats Gruff: Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin. Besides, Ron had said, trolls don't live under bridges.
Hermione stifled a big yawn and realised that it was probably time for bed. Afterall, there was to be a transfiguration test so she'd have to get up early to study. She stacked her books and shoved them in her bag. The strap strained hard against her shoulder and Hermione vowed, for the thousandth time, that she would work on her muscles. Flicking pages quickly in books could no longer suffice as exercise.
At the bottom of the boys stairs, Hermione noticed a loose piece of parchment sitting on the bottom step. Bending to pick it up she noticed that the parchment was covered in Ron's messy chicken scrawl. She turned it over to see what it was. The charms essay! So he'd done if after all. She felt a slight bit guilty for not believing that he had done it but pushed the niggling feeling aside. Her hypothesis had been based on years worth of data and experimentation. Ron never did his homework unless she nagged him until he was sitting at a quiet table in the corner of the common room, quill in hand.
The stone steps to the girls dormitories were steep and Hermione though of what tomorrow would bring. Maybe Ron would ask her? Maybe someone else would? She almost snorted in derision, as if! Maybe she would ask Ron. She thought of old girl band lyrics and snickered. Girl power. Yeah, right. Hermione knew that she would never, could never, ask Ron to go with her. The embarrassment if he said no would just be too much. He'd tell the twins who would laugh at her from now until the end of forever. And Harry. He'd tell Harry which would be even worse, she could already see the pity that would shine in his understanding green eyes. No, she'd just bide her time and wait. He would ask her. Eventually. Of that she was certain.
Author's Note: This story will have five chapters of about two thousand words apiece. It will be updated once a week. Review and let me know what you think. The second chapter is done already but I will wait until next Friday to post it.