Chapter Three

Hermione ran towards the school library, eager to get started on work before the weekend snuck up on her.

This first week of school had turned out to be extremely hectic. Hermione found herself running around in circles with all the preparation work that came with the Head job. She had organized prefect meeting and was called to McGonagall on several occasions to learn new duties that had be thrust upon her.

Also to her surprise the professors were really being tough this year on the students which meant that hoards of students had come to her, begging for her to begin with tutoring again.

Her classes were all Advanced so she had quite a bit of work in every single class except for Ancient Runes, surprisingly. After Professor Farfel had given them the horrible aptitude exam on the first day he had given them a break for the rest of week, informing them that he was preparing a semester long assignment for them to work on and giving them this week as a present so they wouldn't hate him when the assignment came around.

Hermione definitely was not going to complain. She had used that time to work on all her assignments that just seemed to be piling on. In fact that class would have been perfect if it wasn't for a certain someone's presence.

Her steps faltered as her thoughts returned to the quiet Slytherin that had been a fixture in her mind for some time.

Hermione had been naturally curious about him since she first saw him at the Apothecary over the summer. Then to see him in her Ancient Runes class this year had thrown her off. She always prided herself on knowing everyone in the school, but this Slytherin had slipped under her radar somehow.

Then to her horror she noticed that he was present in her Advanced Potions class, Advanced Transfiguration class, and Advanced Astronomy class.

How many of her classes had he been in before this year? Hermione stopped walking completely and let her thoughts manifest. She knew that it wasn't possible for him to suddenly just pop up in her classes unless he was new here.

Hermione reached the library and quickly slipped into the silent place, relishing in the heavy smell of books.

"So he's new?" she murmured to herself, trying to understand the enigma of Blaise Zabini, if that was even his name.

She weaved around all the available desks in the center of the library, her feet carrying her past the Potions and Muggle Studies shelves till she turned into the aisle for history books. Strolling past those shelves, completely lost in thought, she slowly made her way to the secluded table that stood at the end of the aisle.

"Hermione!" someone called out, but Hermione didn't register the summoning because her complete focus was still with the elusive boy.

She shook her head in attempt to push Blaise Zabini out of her head. She would be fooling herself if she believed he was new. Hermione recognized his face that day in the Apothecary and that meant something to her.

"Hermione." Harry repeated again and this time Hermione replied to it.

She looked up and saw Harry waving her over to her table. They were getting together to study for the huge review exam in Transfiguration which was one of the few classes that they had together.

"Hey Harry, sorry I'm late." Hermione whispered as she shuffled over to the table.

Harry immediately pulled his stuff closer to him so that she would get more space to place her books. It was a well known fact to anyone who studied with Hermione that she needed a lot of space at her disposal to be able to work comfortably. She hated to be crammed when studying, and that reflected in her table of choice.

Hermione had claimed the best spot in the library. It was a secret alcove in the history section that had a sturdy table and a breathtaking view of the expanse of the Hogwarts grounds. Her favorite part was that the window had an enormous sill that made an exceptionally comfy spot to snooze in if she needed a break from studying.

"It's alright Hermione! At least you made it." Harry said optimistically. "By the way why did you look so distracted when you walked in?"

Hermione felt her skin go seven shades redder,

"I have been ignoring you haven't I?" Hermione admitted with a wince, and pointedly avoided his second question, not willing to explain her obsession with the Slytherin just yet.

Harry just chuckled and looked at her over the rim of his glasses saying, "its okay Fred and George told me you haven't replied to their letter which means you ignoring them too. So I'm cool with it."

Hermione hissed in horror as she realized that she had in fact forgotten to reply to both the twin's letter and the one that she had received from Stan on the second day of school.

"Ugh!" she moaned, "everything is piling up, Harry."

Harry leaned over the table and gripped her hand with his.

"If you want I'll sent the twins a letter on your behalf." He offered.

The offer extracted an unexpected laugh for her as she shook her head vigorously in refusal. The last time she had let Harry write one of her letters she got a return one from Charlie apologizing about the fact that he 'didn't feel the same way'. She was not going to go through that again.

Still Harry's words had loosened her up and she sent a quick smile his way as she pulled in a long breath before tossing open the standard issue Advanced Transfiguration textbook.

"Shall we get started before I go into another 'woo-is-me' break down?"

Harry smiled at her and did a dramatic bow.

"Teach me all you know oh-genius-one!"

Hermione smacked his forearm and with a roll of her eyes she did exactly that.

"I'm going to have nightmares about transfigured pigs, I just know it!"

Hermione chuckled and nodded her head in agreement to Harry's words. They had spent the entire evening, and skipped dinner to study for the review exam. In fact Hermione would still be studying had the warning bell for curfew not chimed 10 minutes ago.

"At least you'll be able to answer that question on the test, Harry." She muttered and what was supposed to be an optimistic tone, but rather came out garbled because she was too tired to actually form the words.

"Yeah yeah, do you want me to walk you to your dorm?"

Both of them were dead on their feet, so Hermione shook her head in disagreement well aware that Harry would probably pass out on the way there anyway.

They lapsed into a comfortable silence as they shuffled their way up the third floor staircase, pausing at the corner where they would go their separate ways.

"Night Harry." Hermione mumbled as she gave him a quick hug and peck on the cheek.

Once she got hers in return, Hermione made to turn away, expecting their rendezvous to end. But Harry, with surprising agility, quickly grabbed her arm and spun her to face him.

"Bloody Hell, I just remembered!"

"Remembered what?" Hermione asked.

"I want a full explanation for why you walked into the library today with that troubled look on your face and why you've been distracted these past few days."

"Harry," Hermione sighed, irate at his uncanny ability to read her, "I wasn't troubled…"

She winced at the raised eyebrow that she received.

"I…its really weird, and you should trust me when I say that it's no big deal, really." She asserted.

"No Hermione, if you're even spending a second thinking about it then it's a big deal to me, so I think you better tell me."

"..or I could come up with a bloody brilliant lie." Hermione supplied with an impish smile.

Harry mock glared at her and crossed his arms as he stared her down.

Hermione sighed, realizing that Harry really wasn't going to leave this.

"Right now Hermione." Harry demanded.

"Yeah yeah, come on we might as well do this in my room."

Both of them turned and started to make their way to her dorm when a sharp click of heels alerted them to the presence of the Headmistress.

She turned the corner just as they reached and both Harry and Hermione were amused at her look of shock.

"Mr. Potter, Miss Granger what are you two doing out here? It's almost curfew." She admonished.

Hermione pointed to the direction of her Head dorm,

"I was on my way to my room right now Headmistress."

The Headmistress pursed her lips and sent a definite glare their way as she pointedly stared at Harry's close proximity to the Head Girl.

"And would either of you care to explain why you, Mr. Potter, are in this corridor when I distinctly remember that the Gryffindor Common rooms are in the opposite direction?"

Hermione flushed in response to what the Headmistress was implying.

"I was just walking her to her dorm, Prof—Headmistress."

Hermione looked up at Harry and saw that he too had a soft blush staining his cheeks.

"I am more than certain that Miss Granger here is capable of doing this herself. Aren't you?" suddenly addressing Hermione.

Both Harry and Hermione loved McGonagall but this lady had a way making them feel like they were eleven again and that they were once again caught fighting a troll in the girl's bathroom.

"Yes ma'am." Hermione mumbled meekly.

Headmistress McGonagall stepped aside silently excusing her.

Hermione sent a tight smile to Harry, secretly grateful that she wouldn't have to talk to Harry tonight.

Harry responded with an obvious glare that made it clear to Hermione that she wasn't going to escape their discussion.

As she ambled towards her dorm she heard McGonagall chastising Harry on inappropriate times to converse with young women and she couldn't help but feel satisfaction at the uncomfortable topic.

"Hopefully she addresses the topic of copulation", Hermione thought evilly.

Hermione walked to Ancient Runes a soft smile dancing on her face as she listened to Terry's recollection of a rollercoaster event that occurred over the summer.

She had successfully avoided Harry this morning by eating breakfast in her rooms and then going straight to Advanced Charms.

She knew it was rude of her to ignore him, especially after he just pointed out how she had been doing it this past week , but Hermione wanted to keep Blaise to herself. She really didn't want anyone else to know about the infatuation, no , interest that had towards him and was planning on avoiding Harry to keep it that way. Hermione zoned back into her conversation with Terry at the wrong point.

"…so anyway my friend, George, threw up on the Topsy Turvy ride and, you should have seen it Hermione, the spew flew up and landed right back on him. It was disgusting! And get this, he smelled like parmesan cheese..."

"Ugh, Terry! Why are you telling me this?" Hermione asked as she laughed at the misery that Terry's friend went through.

Terry laughed as well, "It was bloody hilarious, but damn Hermione, that smell!"

Hermione shook her head and waved Terry away as she stepped into the class,

"Disgusting!" she muttered under her breath. Terry was a great friend but his sense of humor was horrible.

She slipped into her seat, still chuckling to herself. and sat when Professor Farfel ambled into the room and quickly levitated thick packets of parchment onto everyone's desks.

Looking down she read the title of the assignment,

"Creating your own Rune"

Hermione couldn't stop the elated grin blooming across her lips. She had waited for years to do something and like this and couldn't wait to start even if it meant more work. Apparently class reacted in two starkly different ways. There were a few that were grinning like her, but others didn't seem to feel the same way because she heard a few groans escaped from her fellow classmates. Curious, Hermione swiveled in her seat to see which group Zabini was in. Her eyes focused on him and she was shocked to see that he didn't have any expression at all. He was just lazily flipping through the papers with an unemotional mask on his face. She frowned and turned back around in her seat, oddly disappointed that he wasn't as psyched about this as she was.

"Alright class! So I know I promised you a full week break before our big assignment ,"

He was interrupted by a chorus of "Yeahs"

"But I'm obviously cutting it short." Farfel said in a snipped tone, "As I'm sure everyone has already deduced, being the geniuses that you are, our long project for this class, which will count as your grade for the entire trimester and your midterm, is creating a new rune."

Hermione gasped along with the rest of her classmates. No teacher had every counted an assignment so heavily.

Farfel adjusted his heavy black glasses before resuming, "I know that a lot of you are now every nervous but I assure you that it was not be very hard if you follow the steps that I have put in that packet for you properly. As you will see as you browse through the packet, I have provided you with the history for the new rune that I want you to create and the mistakes that have already been made in attempts to make it. You will use this information as a basis to your research. So far does anyone have any questions?"

Hermione immediately shot up her hand,

"What if it we are unable to create the rune even if we follow all the instructions? Do we fail," she paused as fear clasped her throat, "everything?"

"Good question Miss Granger, and no. To be honest I am not expecting many of you to succeed in creating a new rune. I understand that it is a very difficult task. But I will analyze the steps and set up that you had to create it and grade you on the actions that you thought would have given you that new rune. Understood?"

Hermione nodded, relieved that she wouldn't fail if all her work didn't produce the rune.

"Now, I'm hoping that this will make this project even easier for you, and I'm expecting a lot of gifts for what I'm about to do. You all are allowed to work in pairs…"

Quite a few people in the class cheered at his words.

"…in pairs that I setup according to the results from the aptitude test that everyone took."

It took the class a second to process his words, and then the class attacked the poor man again. Hannah Abbot was the loudest and she cried out, "So all the smart people are paired together, while the stupid ones are left to strangle behind?"

A few people nodded in agreement causing the professor to scowl.

"The better grade you got on the test the harder your rune will be. Would you like it to be different? Shall I give everyone the tough runes?"

Hermione understood Professor Farfel's reasoning. He always wanted to push his students and he was extremely fair in that he understood that they each had different limits to their capabilities and respected that.

The class became silent again.

"Now I'm going to list the partners. Please pay attention to your name. If you are not pleased with your partner I suggest you find a way to split the work so that you will have limited contact with them, but I hope there will be no such case, am I right?"

Everyone nodded and leaned forward in their seats, eager to hear who their second half would be for the next three months.

Hermione dared another quick glance over her shoulder and was upset to see that Zabini wasn't showing any eagerness to the event at all. He was still perusing the packet without a care in the world.

"Why am I so upset by this?" she thought to herself.

Hermione sighed and looked back at the professor. She kept hoping that Zabini, who was in so many of her classes, would have something, anything, in common with her. After all he seemed extremely intelligent because of his class schedule, but clearly they were nothing alike. Maybe he was just in most of her Advanced classes because of his father's big pockets?

"Now I'm going to begin with the lowest scores and go up…"

Hermione had Zabini in her Ancient Runes, Potions, Transfiguration, and History of Magic classes. To have him in so many of her advanced classes made her upset that she knew so little about him and his background. She also knew that he had Astrology, DADA, Charms, and Herbology without her.

Farfel continued to rattle off names and around her people were pairing up with other.

"The two highest scores in the class varied by two points," Farfel called out, and Hermione snapped out of her musings to listen.

Surprisingly the others weren't bothered so the professor was having a hard time speaking over the hum of the other conversations and he finally just made a wild gesture with his arm that swept Hermione and some in the back into his motion.

"You two, pair up."

Hermione didn't have to turn around to know that it was Blaise that he was referring to. The entire row behind her was empty until his seat.

She sighed, it was clear now that Blaise's classes didn't have anything to do with his daddy's pockets after all.

With that idea banished, Hermione looked over her shoulder to see if Blaise was going to be a gentleman and come to her, but he was still reading the bloody packet, acting as if he hadn't heard a word that the professor had said.

"Bloody git." She murmured under her breath as she gathered her stuff. She was starting to wish that she had never seen Zabini in potions store.

She slowly made her way to the back, as she listened with half an ear to the other enthusiastic groups going over their stuff. Why couldn't she have been with some over-eager Ravenclaw?

Her trip to his desk at the far end of the room was a short one, and thus she arrived far sooner then she would've liked.

Standing before his desk, Hermione waited to get a greeting from him. But to her horror, he didn't even raise his head to acknowledge her. She would have assumed that he wasn't aware of her presence had she not noted that his eyes were not darting across the page, but situated in one steady spot.

He was ignoring her!

She decided to be nice so she said, "Hi, I'm your partner. Are you ready to work?"

Ignoring. Again. And he still seemed to be reading the word 'staining'.

She scowled and decided to just sit without an invitation but his bag was propped the only seat next to him.

Hermione's temper flared up, "Do you mind, Zabini?"

The pompous git finally looked up and she taught she saw a hint of surprise in his eyes. But as quickly as she saw it, it disappeared.

"Hmm?" he murmured making some noncommittal sound as his eyes returned to the page.

"Please, move your stuff Blaise so I can sit down."

"No." was his curt reply.

She gaped at him and dropped her entire packet on his desk, the sound echoing slightly.

"Move it right now!" she found herself nearly shouting.

This was not good. When she was upset, she yelled, when she yelled she tensed up, and once she tensed up the torn muscles in her thigh would start to pulse and the end result was pain.

So she quickly tried to take deep calming breaths and it was working till he said in that slight Italian rumble,

"You move. You're blocking my light."

Hermione's brows rose into her hairline as she stared at him incredulously and she was quick to rebut him with logic.

"I'm standing in front of you!" she hissed so as to not make a scene, "And the window is to our right. How could I be possibly blocking it?"

Blaise didn't reply but rather tapped one of the parchments causing it to duplicate and he meticulously began writing on it, completing ignoring her.

"We're partners Zabini, now let me sit down."

"No." he replied curtly. His tone was so harsh that Hermione felt a stab of shock in her chest.

Hermione opened and closed her mouth like a fish as she tried to find words to battle his uncouth comments. What was his problem? He hadn't been like this at the Apothecary at all.

"Here," he said cutting off her musing.

She looked down at the paper that he shoved into her hand. It was a copy of the list of assignments for this project and random ones were circled on the list. Professor Farfel had set it up so that there were mini project s in the big one and Zabini had apparently examined the list well because he equally distributed them between the two of them. Blaise had also neatly written on the top corner,

"Do these assignments and give it to me. We will work together on the rune at the very when absolutely necessary.

-Blaise Zabini"

"Are you serious?" Hermione cried, "I'm standing right in front of you. Couldn't you have told me all of this to my face?"

Blaise's face contorted into a mask of disgust as if the very idea of saying so much to her caused him pain.

Hermione felt her stomach drop. Here she was trying to be nice to him and he was treating her even worse than Malfoy. At least Malfoy conversed with her.

"This is preposterous Zabini. Can you stop being a bloody narcissistic death eater loving pureblood for one bloody sec-"

"Leave Granger." He suddenly hissed. Hermione gulped as she watched his grey eyes suddenly go back with anger and felt fear clutch her throat as his entire body coiled tightly as if to prepare to pounce on her.

"Fine." Hermione said curtly. She no longer felt safe arguing with him, and contrary to popular belief she wasn't a masochist. This boy was in Slytherin for a reason.

As she turned away she couldn't help but add,

"You didn't have to write out your name you know. I know who you are, you git."

Once she reached to her seat she looked around and saw that everyone else was sitting in pairs as they discussed their project. She bit her lip to keep herself from crying which was a bad tendency that she had when she was upset.

She chanced a look at Professor Farfel and was surprised to see him staring right at her. He beckoned her to his desk, and Hermione hesitantly abided.

"I'm assuming you decided to work separately?" he asked as he looked in the direction of her partner.

Hermione refused to glance his way but she could deduce from her professor's upset expression that he was once again hiding behind the packet.

"Yes sir, we split the work and we're going to convene the information in the end."

He shook his head, "That option had been suggested for the easier runes. You two got my toughest one and I was hoping that both of you could put your prejudices aside in this matter."

"I had hoped so too professor, but clearly his vote outweighed mine." Hermione said curtly having no problem putting the blame on Zabini.

Surprisingly Professor Farfel chuckled, "I assure you that this split will not last, Miss Granger. I've know boys like him quite well. He's going to get stuck on a question soon, and when he does I expect that you'll be the person that he comes to."

Hermione couldn't help but snort, "He better come crawling on his knees."

Farfel sent her a quick grin and then sent her a 'shooing' gesture.

"Get started on the work, Miss Granger. You are going to need all the time you can get."

Blaise stalked down to the dungeons, his body still pulsating with anger. He had never appreciated being associated to the type of purebloods that hung around the school. Despite being best friends with Draco Malfoy Blaise had been brought up to respect other bloods and had no prejudice against them. In fact he was so against it that Draco wouldn't dare insult anyone's blood when he was around.

So how dare that Granger girl, who apparently did know his name, insinuate that he was exactly like them when he apparently contested that by standing up for her at Slugg and Jiggs.

It made no sense to him!

Blaise flew into the potions classroom and quickly made his way to his seat, not daring to see if Hermione was here yet. He wasn't sure if he had the self control to keep himself from pouncing on her and pummeling the girl. She better take an extremely long time to walk from Ancient Runes to this class.

"Bloody hell, Blaise. What's with the emotional expression?" Draco asked with a smirk, joking about his anger.

Blaise held a tight grip on his chair and pulled it back with such force that it flew into the table behind it and cracked the wood.

"Whoa!" Draco muttered his joking manner thrown away as he whipped out his wand and fixed it. Blaise didn't bother to see the faces of those around him as he fell into his seat and sent a menacing scowl in the direction of his friend.

"What did I do?" Draco asked in a fearful tone.

Blaise knew that he was quite a sight when he was upset, and he shouldn't be taking out on his friend.

"Blaise, mate, what happened?"

"Nothing." He snapped his usually grey eyes clouded with a deep shade of black that caused Draco to actually shudder.

Draco winced and turned away from him to pull out something from his pocket, "Here"

Blaise looked down at the flask that Draco had slipped into his bruised palms.

He raised his eyebrows in Draco's direction as he shot him a look of incredulity.

"Hey! Either drink the alcohol or break a few more chairs."

Blaise quickly uncorked the flask and took a deep sip from its contents, not bothering to survey the audience that would watching him doing this.

The fire whiskey burned a path down his throat, and as it settled in his stomach he couldn't help but calm down.

"You put calming draught in your whiskey?" Blaise questioned, well aware that alcohol never had that kind of reaction to him.

Draco chuckled and nodded his head.

They both lapsed into a silence and Blaise finally looked around and noted that everyone but Snape seemed to be already seated in the dank dungeon. He looked over to the front of the room and he saw that Hermione had reached class.

Had she seen him crack the chair? Had she seen him take relieve in the inconspicuous bottle of alcohol?

It shouldn't matter if she did but yet, he felt conscious about his actions.

His gaze only tore away from her lone figure when Snape had waltzed into the dungeon and immediately went on a tirade about the previous homework.

"So, why were you so upset?" Draco asked quietly.

Blaise hesitated, for some reason he wanted to keep this to himself, but in the end he whispered back to the blonde,

"Someone gave me the whole pureblood crap thing."

Draco's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, "You? Who would bloody say that to you?"

Blaise just shrugged his lean muscled shoulders.

"Was it Abbot?" he suddenly asked.

"NO!" Blaise cried and was rewarded with a glare from Snape.

He paused till the professor's attention was on some poor Hufflepuff before he said,

"Of course not. Why would you say that?"

Draco looked thoughtfully at him before replying, "It's just that it's not the first time someone's said stuff like that to you. I mean, you do hang out with me, people are going to assume negatively. But it is the first time that you've really gotten upset over it. So I assumed it came from someone whose opinion really mattered, you know."

Blaise froze at his friend's explanation. It did make sense. Hermione Granger had always been someone who Blaise had respected. She was just so strong even when all the odds were against her, and she reached so far in a world that wasn't ready to accept her. He had always found her persistence admirable, and that's why he had been so friendly with her in the Apothecary.

But that had been the first time that he had directly spoken to her, and in the times after that he had come to realize that perhaps she wasn't that great. After all she didn't even know who he was and that was surprising since in their fifth year they had all eight classes together.

But yet her opinion still mattered, enough that he hadn't read another word of Ancient Runes after their argument, and he had demolished a chair.

Yet, he couldn't forget that she did in fact remember his name, and she had tried to be nice in the beginning. So, how should he act around her?

Blaise found his eyes involuntarily seeking her out across the room. He stared at the back of her bushy head for a god five minutes trying to sort out his conflicting thoughts.

Suddenly she turned around, and their eyes met. Grey to Brown.

They stared at each other for Merlin knows how long before Blaise made up his mind and turned his dead stare into a glare. The response was instant in hers as well. Her chocolate gaze flared up and with a tilt of her chin she turned back around.

There, he thought, problem solved.

She hated him, and he had no feelings for her.

A/N: I am so very sorry for the delay. I have no excuse except pure disinterest on my part and I sincerely apologize for it! Now I hope that my fans come back to this story after such a long wait. For those of you that have lost interest in it I completely understand and thank you for reading it in the first place. And for those fans that are going to stick with me till the end, I love you guys, and thank you for the support.

Poll Time:

The Runes assignment will be tough, who should give in and go to the other for help first?

A. Hermione should struggle and force Blaise to work with her.

B. Blaise should go begging to Hermione for help. And SOON !

One more thing... I really need a beta! It takes me ages to review my stories and their still so many flaws. Please email me at qvq101 gmail . com [without the spaces] if you are interested. thank you :D