Disclaimer: JKR owns Harry Potter and his family and his friends and his enemies and his school and his world and his… Okay, you get it.
A/N: What? Me, writing again? And it's a Dramione? My goodness me, it's felt like forever since I've written about my favorite couple. As some of you who follow my work may know, I've been silent on the writing front in the past few months. Writer's block and real life issues have kept me away. But even before that, I sort of branched out a bit in respect to what I write, participating in many challenges over at the HPFC. Part of my problem is all the ideas I have in my head; I seriously have 33 stories in progress right now, only five of which have been posted at all. Most of those 33 are oneshots, but I do have quite a few plot bunnies for major multichapter projects floating around my head that haven't left despite my writer's block. I really hope to get to them soon, but I already have those five multichaptered ones to finish! Ahhh!
Anyway, onto this particular fic.
Written for the 320 Prompts and Counting Challenge, with the prompts Chocolate, Misguided, and Alive. To make it a bit more interesting, I decided to write the entire fic in a House Elf's POV. Hope you enjoy! All comments are loved! And Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Sometimes a few of the Hogwarts students managed to figure out where the kitchens were located. Personally, Frannie didn't know how they did so, but she didn't care either. Like most of the other House Elves working in the castle, she quite enjoyed the extra opportunity to help some of the kids out.
Except for that one girl. The one with the… hats.
Every House Elf knew about her, about her crazed idea of hiding clothes around the Gryffindor Common Room. Fortunately, Frannie never had Gryffindor Tower duties anymore. That poor, off-balance new guy took on the job all by himself. Perhaps his old masters had been a bit too rough on him. One too many bricks to the head.
But unfortunately, that girl somehow figured out the secret.
Supposedly, she was rather smart for a witch, so maybe they all should have expected it, but Frannie had been among those wishing and hoping that she would leave them alone to do their work properly.
And, no, it had nothing to do with the scarring experience two years ago when Frannie almost accidentally picked up one of those lopsided, wool hats.
All right, so maybe it did.
Usually though, the girl would only come with Master Harry Potter, who always insisted on speaking with Dobby, so Frannie had never spoken to her, never served her directly, or even learned her name.
Late one winter night, however, all of that changed.
Many of her fellow Elves had finished off their breakfast preparation assignments already and disappeared off to clean the various dormitories and Common Rooms before catching a few hours of precious sleep. Some of her friends thought of sleep as a unfortunately necessary waste of time, but Frannie quite enjoyed the peaceful rest. Mostly, she enjoyed dreaming.
In fact, Frannie had been semi distracted reflecting on her dream the previous night and the possible paths of continuation in a few short hours when the familiar sound of the portrait creaking open echoed through the mostly empty kitchen, so she almost dropped the bowl in her hands as she rushed across the room.
Pulling herself out of her thoughts with a mental scolding, Frannie tightened her hold as she spun around to face the person slipping through the entry way.
The telltale sight of that frizzy hair immediately sparked a silent sigh within Frannie's mind. Of course, she couldn't let these personal opinions reflect on her actions. Sending the dirty bowl to the sink with a snap of her fingers, Frannie hurried to the girl's side, arriving just before Tilly and Jib.
"Good evening, Miss!" Frannie greeted her eagerly, hoping the Despicable Hat Girl wasn't there to lecture or screech about nonsense. Next to her, Tilly and Jib echoed the greeting. "What is Miss wanting?"
Then, suddenly, the fake smile on Frannie's face froze into a startled frown when she noticed the redness of Hat Girl's eyes and stains from recent tears on her cheeks. Sympathy flooded within Frannie.
"Is Miss okay? Did something happen?" Frannie asked, worry lacing her tone.
"Oh, no, I'm fine," Hat Girl replied kindly, offering Frannie, Tilly, and Jib a quick smile before her lips twisted a bit and she tilted her head to the side. "Well, not exactly fine, but I'll be all right."
"What has happened to Miss?" Frannie questioned further, ignoring the scolding looks from the other Elves. None of them really approved of the way Frannie liked to talk with the students about their problems, but Frannie didn't care one bit. It always made her feel happy inside to help a Miss or Sir smile after they came into the kitchens with a frown.
"Oh, just school," Hat Girl replied with a casual toss of her hands. Then she ran her hands through her messy hair, her fingers getting caught in the tangles, and threw her head towards the ceiling. "School, school, school! There's so much I have to learn and study and remember and I just can't do it anymore! I've been up all night working on this essay McGonagall wants by next Monday, and I've already written it four times! And I don't like any of them!"
Crazy Hat Girl was pacing across the floor now. Tilly and Jib had slipped away, their eyes wide and skeptical as they motioned for Frannie to get away from the distressed girl. Frannie, however, waved them off and waited patiently for Crazy Hat Girl to finish ranting.
"And then there's this whole mess with Ron… Oh, and my stupid hormones are really not helping with that! Ugh!" Quite dramatically, Crazy Hat Girl collapsed, letting her head fall into her arms that were strewn across the top of the newly cleaned counter. "Sometimes I hate being a girl."
After a few silent moments and some awkward rustling from the corners of the kitchen, where the others had paused from their work, Frannie inched closer to Poor Crazy Girl.
"It'll be all right, Miss," Frannie whispered softly. "Monday isn't for another five days."
"I know!" Crazy Girl exclaimed, surprising Frannie as she tossed her hands into the air. Even Frannie began to wonder if they ought to take the girl to the Infirmary when she started laughing. "I know! And it's so stupid! But I can't… I can't help it. I just… Oh, I don't know!"
Frannie frowned, sending a confused shrug towards Tilly and Fet, who had been staring at her inquisitively. Hesitantly, Frannie approached Crazy Girl and asked, "Is there anything Frannie can do to help Miss feel better?"
As if remembering herself and her location, Crazy Girl smiled softly. It seemed more real this time.
"I'm sorry about that," she said gently. "I've just been having a rough day. Actually though, Frannie – you said your name was Frannie, yes?"
When Crazy Girl didn't continue, but simply stared at her, Frannie realized that she wanted a response.
"Oh, yes! Frannie. Frannie is me," the House Elf stuttered as she felt her cheeks color slightly.
"Well, Frannie, please call me Hermione," Crazy Gi—Hermione replied. Again she paused, as if waiting for Frannie to speak.
"Yes, Miss Hermione!" Frannie managed to squeak, feeling her cheeks grow even redder. She wished she could shrink, melt into the ground, at least turn invisible from the eyes of the other House Elves.
"Well, I actually came down here because…" Hermione trailed off, biting her lower lip. Slowly, a indescribable glint entered her eyes that unnerved Frannie slightly. "I'm giving into temptation."
Not knowing what to say, Frannie remained silent, shifting lightly from side to side as she waited for Hermione to explain herself. Finally, after another few moments of lip biting, the girl did.
"Do you… I don't suppose you have a recipe for chocolate cake, do you?" she asked eagerly, her fingers fidgeting with apprehension.
"Oh, yes, but we have many chocolates and many cakes already prepared!" Frannie answered gleefully. Not a second later, Fet and Jib thrust a tray of sweets in front of the girl.
"Oh, no, I mean, I want to bake it myself," Hermione said.
The silence that followed was tangibly thick. Every House Elf stared incredulously at the girl, including Frannie, who could not believe Crazy Hat Girl could be so insulting. Already, Frannie could feel tears forming in her eyes. Tilly and Allie would go hysterical, she knew.
"But, Miss…" Frannie began, her voice quivering. "Miss Hermione does not want our cakes?"
"Oh, it's not that!" Hermione insisted, waving her hands frantically. "I just… See, I've really been craving chocolate and I absolutely love chocolate cake though I don't eat it that often but I've decided that I just need to take some time off from studying tonight because it's been such a long and hard day but I can't just come here and eat it because I need to do something and I really find baking quite therapeutic, you know."
Wrinkling her forehead, Frannie tried to work out what Miss Hermione was saying.
"So… Miss will feel better if she makes her own cake? Not that she doesn't think our cake is good?" Frannie asked for clarification.
"Heavens, no!" Hermione responded. "After all, I was hoping to get the recipe you use down here. Since you all make such wonderful food, I'm sure your chocolate cake would be amazing. Do you have a recipe for it?"
Frannie felt herself beam with pride at Miss Hermione's words. She liked their food! She wanted to use their recipe!
"Frannie will look!" the House Elf promised, running off to the corner cupboard to retrieve the most important box of recipe cards. Most of the dishes the Elves made they knew by heart, so the recipe cards didn't see light very often. Surely enough, a thin layer of dust had settled between some of them, but Frannie quickly cleaned it away.
"Frannie found one!" she squealed with excitement, her fingers tightly gripping the card labeled Chocolate Cake.
"Oh, thank you, Frannie!" Hermione squealed back, rushing towards the small Elf to encase her in a swift hug. Frannie blushed and felt a bit embarrassed as she saw the other Elves watching them, but she also felt that wonderful warm feeling all around her.
"Do you suppose you could help me find some ingredients?" Hermione asked as she scanned the recipe card. Frannie nodded multiple times as Jib and Tilly came zooming over to join. To simply things, Frannie told Hermione to give her the card so the three Elves could retrieve the necessary items.
Less than a minute later, various containers, mixing bowls, measuring units, and mixing utensils laid spread out across the counter.
"Thank you," Miss Hermione said brightly, smiling at each of the Elves. "I think I've got it from here."
Retreating back, Frannie remained a bit closer to the girl than the others, deciding to watch the girl just in case she needed anything else.
And maybe to make sure she didn't mess up.
Only a matter of seconds had passed, allowing Hermione to barely start pouring carefully measured ingredients into the giant bowl, when Frannie's attention diverted to the portrait hole again as it creaked open. Unsettled by the number of surprise visitors at such a late hour, Frannie wrung her hands together nervously as she waited for whoever was entering the room to just enter already. Her eyes glanced quickly from Miss Hermione to the cracked open door to Miss Hermione again. The girl, however, evidently didn't notice anything at all; she was completely wrapped up in her baking, humming a soft melody and everything.
After another long second, a blond head of hair popped into view.
And a shriek pierced the air.
Frannie spun around, fearing Miss Hermione had somehow managed to injure herself when Frannie had allowed herself to be distracted. A muffled clap followed the shriek as the girl covered her mouth with her hand, the rapid tainting of her skin revealing the extent of her embarrassment. When she spoke, however, it wasn't shyly.
"Malfoy!" she shouted, glaring at the boy who's entire body was now visible. "What are you doing here? You nearly frightened me to death!"
"Shame I failed then," he remarked casually, his attention focused on the room itself and the nonhuman occupants rather than the quite angry and flustered girl, who huffed at his words and then smoothed down her robes self-consciously. Frannie's gaze bounced all over the room as she tried to figure out what to do. Typically the Elves would rush to the boy and offer their service, but Tilly and Jib had frozen after three steps when the Miss Hermione yelled. They kept glancing from the Miss to the Sir to Frannie, but she didn't know what to do either.
"So this is where the kitchens are," the boy murmured.
"Of course. Haven't you ever been here before?" Miss Hermione questioned, struggling to return to the happy rhythm of measuring out the correct ingredients. From the way she kept having to triple and quadruple check the recipe, Frannie could tell it wasn't working very well.
"No," the boy answered simply.
"What?" Hermione looked taken back. As far as Frannie knew though, it was true. At least, she had never seen the boy in the kitchens before.
"I have never been in this room in my entire life before," the boy replied slowly, a degrading sort of smirk slathered across his face. Frannie would have thought it rather amusing if it weren't for the furious reaction it elicited from Miss Hermione.
"Well, then how did you get here?" the girl shot back rather snidely. Frannie didn't quite understand why the two shared this sort of animosity, but it was beginning to make her uncomfortable.
"I followed you," the blond told her with a quick lift of one of his eyebrows.
"You… what? What, are you stalking me now, Malfoy?" Hermione demanded, her eyes narrowing with contempt to rival the disgust lacing her tone.
"Why would anyone stalk you, Granger?" the blond spat back, rolling his eyes. He completely tried to act like he hadn't jumped backwards a few steps before speaking, but Frannie saw him. She didn't say anything though.
"Wouldn't be the first time you stalked somebody, Malfoy," the girl retorted, the sheen of a memory reflecting in her eyes. Frannie wondered what had happened. What ever it was, the mention of it sparked a touch of red to hit to pale boy's face.
"Shut up, Granger. I wasn't stalking you," he declared.
"But you just said that you followed me here," Hermione replied, giving the bowl in front of her a skeptical glance.
"I was patrolling down here – Prefect's duty tonight – and saw you touch the painting and then disappear behind it. I'd never known there was anything behind this painting, so I wanted to see what it was," the boy explained in a self-satisfied tone, straightening his back a bit.
"Oh yeah? Well then why was I in here for a good space of time before you strolled in?" Hermione questioned, her eyes narrowing with suspicion.
"None of your business, Granger," the boy shot with equally narrow eyes.
"And why were you patrolling alone?" Hermione questioned again.
"None of your business either!" the boy spat.
"And Prefects only have to patrol until midnight. So what were you really doing wandering around the castle and following me after two o'clock in the morning?" Hermione questioned, raising her voice so much that Frannie quivered nervously. "I could turn you in for being up and about after curfew."
"Not without revealing that you broke curfew, too, brilliant one," Malfoy snapped snidely. "And what are you doing in the kitchens at two o'clock in the morning?"
"Obviously, I'm baking a cake," Hermione answered with the same venom that had filled her voice before. It struck Frannie as quite odd and a bit humorous though, because that phrase sounded peculiar when laced with venom. From the twisted expressions the suddenly appeared on both students' faces, Frannie thought they might agree.
The boy rolled his lips together and then released them into an amused smirk, raising both eyebrows and sending Miss Hermione a funny sort of glance. Then he cleared his throat and Frannie could have sworn a soft chuckle escaped.
"So, er, you… broke curfew to… bake a cake?" he reiterated, keeping his gaze locked on the increasingly red-cheeked girl on the other side of the counter. Before she could reply, he started laughing.
Miss Hermione then let a broad smile melt across her face.
"Yes! Stop laughing, Malfoy!" she demanded even as the grin threatened to split her head in two. And Frannie noticed how her voice sounded a lot less angry, like she really didn't mean it. "Stop it!"
But the boy kept on laughing, like it was the funniest thing he had heard in a long time. Though judging by the red tinge to the corners of his eyes, the faint circles beneath them, and the slightly unhealthy thinness of his face, Frannie guessed that it very well could have been. Students put themselves under far too much stress these days.
"Fine! Laugh all you want! I don't care," Miss Hermione exclaimed, tossing her hands in the air. Frannie could literally see the mental struggle as the girl tried to force the grin on her face to go away. "This is me, not caring, just continuing with what I was doing, relaxing and baking like I wanted to just as if there's nobody else here, and especially not a very annoying somebody who keeps laughing their head off for no good reason."
"Oh, Merlin," the boy said finally, encompassing an arm around his abdomen as his other hand ran through his hair. His eyes fluttered closed as he took a few deep breaths, a calm, soft smile taking over his face. "Lighten up, Granger."
"I'm trying to do so, thank you very much," the girl replied tersely.
"By baking?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.
"I find it very relaxing, actually," Hermione answered, her voice finally settling into the casual, pleasant tone Frannie preferred. "And then I'll get to eat something I made afterwards, and that's both fulfilling and delicious."
"Huh. Everyone has their own methods, I suppose," the boy replied, walking over to the counter the take a seat. Although the counter itself still separated the two, Miss Hermione seemed a bit startled by the decrease of space between them.
"Malfoy…" she began cautiously, "I think we are dangerously close to having a civil conversation."
"Granger," he replied plainly, staring up at her with a completely serious expression, "It's two thirty in the morning, I've had a long day, and I've just laughed for the first time in months. I couldn't care less."
She raised a eyebrow inquisitively at him.
"I won't be telling anyone about this meeting and will adamantly deny I ever saw you in this room tonight if anyone ever asks, but I really don't care at the moment," he clarified. Then that sly smirk that Frannie was beginning to get familiar with slid across his face. "Besides, I'm thinking that cake sounds pretty good right now."
"Ask on—" Miss Hermione broke herself off with a jerk, her eyes widening with a mix of surprise, disappointment, and self-reproach. Frannie recognized it as one she herself would feel when she would do something wrong. Usually she'd then force herself to eat a teaspoon of salt, since the sneaky Master Dumbledore forbade her from punishing herself after that one incident with the spoons.
"Nah, I'm sure the House Elves can make much better food than you can, Granger," the boy remarked, responding to the sentence still stuck in the girl's throat, "but it'll be more fun to mock your baking skills."
"Good, because you shouldn't make House Elves do everything fo—" The girl blinked rapidly a few times. "Did you just say you wanted to eat my cake?"
"Sure sounded that way to me," the boy replied in an echo of Hermione's startled tone. Then his voice dipped into sarcasm again. "I'm trying to figure out why I want to poison myself, too."
"Well, no!" Hermione said, confusing Frannie for a second. It didn't seem like an appropriate response, since there wasn't really anything for Miss Hermione to say no to. "I'm not going to let you eat any of my cake!"
"You're going to eat an entire cake all by yourself, Granger?" the blond retorted nastily, his eyes sharpening their glare. "I never would have guessed you were such a selfish pig."
"You're the selfish pig among us, Malfoy," Hermione spat with disgust. "And if you want some cake, you'll have to just make one yourself."
"Why do you need a whole cake?" the boy questioned, not letting it go. "Why can't I eat just a slice? You'd get sick and puke all over the place. Not to mention gain ten pounds."
"I'm not going to eat the whole thing," Hermione remarked in a snide tone. "I just don't want you to have any of it without doing any of the work, because I know you'll just bug me the entire time and make me put in the wrong ingredients and then complain about how my cake looks, smells, and tastes, not to mention drive me crazy, worsen my stress level, and completely ruin my plans for a nice, relaxing bit of baking."
"Well that's not very giving of you," the boy retorted with contempt. "So much for bleeding heart Gryffindors."
"I'm a Gryffindor, not bloody Saint Nick," the girl replied with a roll of her eyes. Then she proceeded to ignore the boy and return to the recipe.
"I still don't see how you'll stop me from taking a piece of cake after you leave then," the boy said as he self-consciously straightened his back, squared his shoulders, and brushed back his hair.
Still Hermione ignored him.
"And don't you know that you're supposed to tie back that horrid mane you call hair while you're baking so you don't get strands in the food?" he questioned with a wrinkle of his nose. "That's revolting."
Frannie almost giggled when Miss Hermione purposefully divided her hair into two bushy portions and pulled one over either shoulder, bringing it even closer to the bowl of ingredients.
The boy, however, did not seem to find it as amusing. As a matter of fact, his eyes and lips narrowed considerably until all three closely resembled straight lines.
"And you're probably doing everything terribly wrong, so your cake will turn out less edible than dragon dung," the boy commented, folding his arms as he waited for a response of any sort. He was steaming, Frannie could tell. Oh, this was someone who despised being ignored.
"Which is dreadfully toxic," he finished, fighting with the forced casual tone of his voice. He was going to blow, Frannie just knew it…
"You've been dreadfully misguided, dimwit," Miss Hermione ground out, refusing to look away from her bowl as she stirred it carefully. "Dragon dung, though disgusting, isn't toxic. And this is the House Elves' recipe, so I'm confident that it'll turn out wonderful."
"Figures I'd have to make up such an academic lie to get you to speak again, know-it-all," the boy drawled, seeming a bit satisfied. From the way Hermione pursed her lips tightly, Frannie guessed that the girl's resolve to ignore the boy increased exponentially. "And I'm positive that you'd find a way to screw up a perfectly delicious recipe, Granger."
Again she didn't reply.
And the boy's frustration returned tenfold.
"And why the hell are you stirring that with a wooden spoon? Are you a witch or not?"
Her eyes hardened, but she didn't even look at him.
"Why do you insist on being so stubborn, Granger?"
She laid a finger on the recipe to scan for the next set of instructions, and then pulled the lid off the flour container.
"Look at me, Granger!"
Slowly, to insure accuracy, she started to measure out some flour.
Suddenly a pale hand reached across the counter to the flour container and cloud of white powder exploded in Miss Hermione's face. Half a second later, Miss Hermione exploded as well.
"Malfoy!" she screamed. "You little prat!"
"You're the one wh—"
Before Frannie blinked twice, Hermione flung the container of cocoa powder towards the boy's face and another cloud – this one light brown – settled over his hair, face, and torso. He sputtered and coughed, waving one hand in a fervent effort to brush the cloud away. Then he grabbed an egg and threw it towards Hermione, who shrieked and twisted her body sideways. The egg still caught her arm, the yellow goo dripping down her robe and onto the floor.
"Oh, you…" Hermione began, absolutely seething now. The Malfoy boy scrambled to get off the counter he had half thrust himself across as Hermione snatched a container of milk. Frannie's eyes widened with anticipation.
Hermione ran around the counter to get closer to the boy, but he ran as well, twisting the two of them into a complex competition where each of them tried to trick the other into going the wrong way. As he stopped by the stock of ingredients spread across the counter where Miss Hermione had been standing, the boy picked up a plastic bottle of oil.
"Put down the milk!" he shouted towards the girl on the opposite side of the counter.
'You put down the oil first!" she replied.
"Not happening, Granger," he shot back with a smirk. Then he jerked to the left, catching Hermione by surprise. In a split decision, she decided to fight instead of run, and the two of them both thrust forward their containers at the same time.
Oil and milk flew across the air, one drenching Malfoy's hair and dripping down his face onto his clothes as the other slithered through Hermione's messy strands and stained her robes. Both students gaped at each other in shock, as if they couldn't believe the other had actually thrown that liquid at them. Then they each reached for another container on the counter, Hermione's hand finding the brown sugar, Malfoy's hand finding the white sugar. Both the boy and the girl attempted to take one step towards the other when something even more unexpected than the impromptu food fight happened.
Both students slipped on the mixture of milk and oil that covered the floor, knocking into each other head on before descending swiftly to the floor.
The moans and groans of aches and pains could be heard from the floor, and Frannie quickly rushed over to see what would happen next, her mind spinning a million kilometers an hour with all this excitement. The boy and girl were tangled together in a giant sticky mess, a layer of both kinds of sugar topping their oil and milk spills.
Frannie can't describe exactly what happened next. She thought for sure that the two students were going to start throttling each other, or at least beat each other up, or swear and curse obscenely. But none of those things happened.
Instead, they started laughing.
Gently at first, but then the laughter grew into the sort of uncontrollable, contagious laughter that caused belly aches and wheezing breaths. On and on their laughter continued, with attempts at speaking never coming across as words but apparently still conveying their evidently hilarious meanings to the boy and girl who still laid strewn across the floor in a puddle of milk and oil. Miss Hermione tried to prop herself up with her arm, but her hand slipped and she collapsed to the floor again, rousing a renewed intensity to the laughter the two students' shared.
"I… I can't believe… Oh, you have sugar all over you!" Miss Hermione managed between bouts of insane laughter.
"So do you!" Malfoy replied, the grin on his face frighteningly huge.
"We need to get up," Hermione remarked, calming herself down a bit. The blond agreed, and they tried to hold onto each other and stand up that way. Halfway to success, they both slipped and fell to the ground again, sparking the same crazy and extremely loud laughter as before.
"Oh, I think I broke something!" Malfoy exclaimed, laughing all the while. Though Frannie didn't understand this; broken bones were not a laughing matter.
"I think I'm going to die from laughing so hard!" Miss Hermione proclaimed, holding the hand that wasn't leaning heavily on the blond boy's shoulder to her sugar-and-oil-coated stomach.
"I feel more alive than I've felt in months!" Malfoy remarked joyfully.
"Me too!" Hermione agreed, meeting the boy's gaze in a way that could have been described as friendly for the first time that night. Both of their giggles died down into large smiles as they looked at each other.
Then the boy's face grew a tad red, and he tucked his head to break eye contact. He ran a sticky hand through his stickier hair and cleared his throat loudly.
"Er, I suppose I should try to stand up again," Miss Hermione murmured softly. Frannie watched silently as the girl's eyes widened slightly when the Malfoy boy offered his hand, but then her lips curled up just a tiny bit. He didn't offer any explanation, and the two of them somehow managed to get to their feet with only a couple of stumbles.
"Well, this is quite the mess," Hermione observed, glancing around the area with a mix of amusement, embarrassment, and guilt shining in his eyes.
"Do not worry, Miss!" Jib exclaimed, hurrying over to the two students with Tilly and Fet. "We will clean the mess!"
"Oh, no, it's all right. We made the mess, we can clean it up," Hermione insisted, even as the Elves started to bring out cleaning supplies.
"Let them, Granger. It's their job," the Malfoy boy said casually.
"It's not their job!" Hermione screeched, spinning around to face him. Frannie cringed back, shaking her head nervously. How stupid to think that the Crazy Hat Girl was anything other than just that. "Jobs are things you get paid for, with vacation and sick leave. These Elves aren't anything more than slaves!"
"Geez, Granger! I heard you were crazy about elves, but can't you tell that they like it? They're born this way!" the Malfoy boy argued, shaking his head back and forth.
"They're trained this way, and it's despicable!" Hermione retorted, folding her arms in a huff.
"Do not worry, Miss," Fet interrupted in that calming, rather deep tone of his that Frannie loved so much. It was such a shame that he spoke so rarely. "We will gladly help you clean."
"Oh, well…" the girl began, stumbling over her words as she furrowed her eyebrows in debate. "I suppose…"
"Compromise is good!" that Malfoy boy suddenly remarked, casting Hermione a quick glance before turning his attention to Jet and the others. "What, erm… what do I, uh… do?"
Before anything else could be said, mops, cloths, and buckets zoomed in. Frannie hurried over to help, giving that Malfoy boy a wet cloth. Her face grew red as she told him to start wiping the counters, and she had to continually remind herself that he and Miss had pretty much insisted on being a part of the cleaning process. Well, Miss had, and he seemed to jump towards compromise quite swiftly. Frannie wouldn't have guessed he simply stopped arguing like that very often, and she wondered what made him do so this time.
For a good two or three seconds, Miss Hermione stood perfectly still, staring at the blond boy with a semi-open mouth and confused eyes. Frannie tugged gently on her sleeves and handed her a cloth as well, but the girl still didn't speak. Even as she turned towards the counter and started cleaning, Frannie noticed that she sent inquisitive looks towards that Malfoy boy every few seconds.
After a minute or so, everything looked perfectly clean again. Jib, Fet, and Tilly rushed off to put the cleaning supplies away, satisfied in their work. Frannie, meanwhile, remained where she was. This was turning out to be quite the interesting night, after all. There was something about these two students and the way they interacted.
And Frannie was determined to figure out what that something was. Hopefully before the end of the night.
"There. All clean," that Malfoy boy said, running a hand along the smooth countertop. Then he peered down at himself. "Except for my clothes. And skin."
"Mmm, me too," Miss Hermione remarked, crinkling her nose at the sight of the sticky stains that still tainted her entire body, from shoe to hair. Then her lips curled into a small smile again. "I still can't believe we did that."
"Me neither, Granger," that Malfoy boy agreed softly. Hermione glanced over at him without turning her head, peering out of the corner of her eye. Frannie noted that she seemed to be biting her lower lip on the left side.
"Would you…" Hermione cut herself off, a faint tinge of pink coloring her cheeks as she looked away from the boy next to her.
"What?" he asked.
"Never mind," she muttered quietly. When he started protesting though, she caved, sputtering out in one breath, "Would you like to finish making my cake with me?"
The Malfoy boy stared at her for a fraction of a moment. Then a smirk stole across his face.
"Depends," he answered, leaning against the counter. "Do I get to eat some?"
Miss Hermione laughed lightly.
"I suppose it would only be fair," she replied, her eyes sparkling with mirth.
"Then fine; I will help make a cake with you, Granger," he answered. Then his expression twisted in a peculiar fashion. "That's a sentence I never expected to hear myself say."
Miss Hermione laughed again.
"This entire night is something I never expected to happen," she commented in return as she retrieved the recipe sheet and scanned through the directions again. To her annoyance, her hair kept falling in her way, despite her many attempts to push it back.
"Ugh!" she exclaimed finally, shoving a hand in her pocket and pulling out a small pile of items. As she began the process of tying back her hair with a band, she groaned in disgust. "My hair is horrible!"
"You know, you wouldn't have had to do that if you just tied it back beforehand," that Malfoy boy remarked under his breath, keeping his eyes fixed on the oil he was measuring.
"Malfoy," Hermione snapped. Frannie found it interesting how her voice was sharp, but lacked any venom whatsoever. It was such a strange change from just a few minutes earlier. "Shut up."
"Does this mean you're going to insist on stirring by hand a—"
"Yes," Hermione answered curtly.
"But it's so—"
"Do you want cake or not, Malfoy?" Hermione demanded, turning to the boy and giving him a deadly stare. In return, the blond pouted a bit and dropped his head a fraction.
"Yes," he grumbled, releasing a melodramatic sigh.
"Then find me three eggs," Miss Hermione directed.
"I'll find myself three eggs, thank you," he replied, picking up an egg from the pile. Frannie closed her eyes for a split second to pray that he wouldn't throw it again, and then opened them up again and felt immediate relief.
"Oh, well, that works, too," the girl replied, sounding a bit thrown off balance. "Just crack them in a separate bowl."
"I can read the recipe directions, too, Granger," that Malfoy boy told her. Frannie held her breath, hoping another argument wouldn't begin. Maybe the something she had sensed between these two was nothing more than these arguments.
"I was just trying to help!" Hermione insisted, her voice rising a bit higher.
And so the conversation went for the next twenty minutes, up until the final moment when that Malfoy boy slid the pan into the oven and Miss Hermione insisted that it be perfectly centered.
And then they had to make the frosting.
Frannie almost panicked when the Malfoy boy smeared a glob of chocolate frosting across Miss Hermione's cheek, but she forced herself to calm down, which was a lot easier after the girl responded with a light-hearted squeal.
"I thought you've been dying for some chocolate, Granger!" the boy remarked loudly, a grin prominently across his face. Both the grin and the level of loudness were the sort that only came out to play in the wee hours of the morning when people were getting very tired.
"I never said that! Did I say that?" the girl replied with the same fatigue-induced energy, wiping the frosting off with the back of her hand.
"Neuh, something to that affect," he responded, shrugging his shoulders. "What is with girls and chocolate anyway?"
"Oh, that you'll never understand, Malfoy," Hermione told him with confidence.
"I mean, I love chocolate as much as the next chocolate-loving guy, but girls seem to have this love affair with the stuff…"
"Malfoy, don't even try," the girl said, shaking her head back and forth. "It is impossible to determine why, but it is just one of those facts of life."
"Okay, fine," he replied, leaning heavily upon the counter. By now, the chocolate frosting was finished and all that was left to do was wait. "Then tell me, why chocolate cake, Granger?"
"What do you mean? It's chocolate, that's why," she answered as if that explained the answer to life, the universe, and everything. She hopped onto the countertop right next to where that Malfoy boy was standing, and Frannie marveled at how different this scene was from the running around armed with food products not an hour ago.
"But why cake?" he pushed, tilting his head to look back at her.
"Didn't I tell you already?" the brunette asked in slightly slurred words, cocking her head to the side as if this was a serious dilemma. "Baking is relaxing."
"Ya know, I think you did tell me that already," the boy answered, shaking a finger repeatedly in the air. Frannie never did understand that gesture, but in this context, it confused her even more. It wasn't helping that she was getting rather tired, too. Jib and Fet and Tilly had all retired to bed by now, and she could feel her eyelids grow heavier and heavier with each passing minute.
"You know what you didn't tell me?" the girl responded, sitting up a bit straighter.
"What?" Malfoy asked in a shocked tone.
"Why it took you so long to follow me inside the kitchens after I was already inside," Hermione declared. Then she crinkled her nose as if reflecting on that sentence. Frannie didn't think it made sense either, but she wasn't quite sure.
"Because I had to figure out how to open it, that's why!" Malfoy exclaimed. Then he tucked his head and looked a bit embarrassed.
"You tickle the pear, silly," Hermione replied as if it was old news.
"I know that now," he replied. "But how was I suppose to guess that the pear was ticklish?"
"I wonder why the pair is ticklish and not the banana," Miss Hermione suddenly wondered out loud, abruptly changing the subject.
"Maybe banananas aren't ticklish. Some people just aren't," Malfoy answered with a shrug of his shoulders.
"It's banana, Malfoy, and that's ridiculous. Isn't everyone ticklish?" Hermione questioned.
"I said banana!" the blond boy insisted. "And no, some people aren't."
"Oh," the girl uttered back. "I wish I wasn't."
Suddenly a smirk sneaked across that Malfoy boy's face. He turned around to face Hermione.
"Oh, you're ticklish, Granger?" he asked mischievously.
"Yeah," she answered with a half-shrug.
"Where?" he inquired. Then Miss Hermione's eyes widen hysterically and she scooted backwards on the counter.
"Oh, no, you don't, Malfoy!" she exclaimed. He didn't listen to her of course.
Another one of the teenage girl's shrieks filled the room as the blond boy took hold of her ankle and dragged her towards him. In an effort to escape, she jumped off the table, stumbling a bit when she landed, and ran to the other side of the counter.
"What?" he asked in an obviously-fake innocent tone. Before the girl replied, he swerved around the counter, catching her by surprise. His fingers quickly found her abdomen, halting any further escape attempts on her part before they could even begin. Laughter and protests intermingled as she doubled over protectively, grabbing at the boy's wrists and struggling to push him away.
"Stop, Malfoy!" she squeaked, trying to twist away. In a stroke of luck, she managed to scramble onto the counter again. Unfortunately for her, Malfoy simply followed suit, catching her forearm with a laugh and broad grin. When his hands attacked her middle again, she squealed and laughed and twisted wildly, protesting loudly all the while. In an attempt to restrain the girl, the blond maneuvered his body so he was practically on top of her.
At the sight in front of her, a giggle escaped from Frannie's mouth before she could stop it. She swiftly slapped her hands over her lips, eyes wide, but she was pretty sure that the two students didn't notice. All of their laughter was the only sound that could be heard.
Suddenly the laughter stopped, and Frannie could tell exactly why.
Somehow, Miss Hermione had managed to summon enough momentum to force that Malfoy boy to turn to the side, resulting in a complete flop of their position. Miss Hermione, however, wasn't expecting to have to hold herself up and fell right on top of the boy. After a surprised intake of breath, Miss Hermione lifted her head just enough to stare incredulously at the blond boy beneath her. He stared back with a matching expression.
Then he reached up and kissed her.
Frannie was shocked to the point of silence, not exactly an unusual state for her, but not her typical response to an unexpected turn of events. Most of the time she would interrupt loudly, comment quietly to her neighbor, or at least sputter.
But as the two students pulled apart gently, a touch of pink entering Miss Hermione's cheeks, Frannie made absolutely no noise at all. She wasn't even sure if she was breathing.
"It's getting late," Miss Hermione remarked, looking away from that Malfoy boy as she quickly detached herself from his body and sat up.
"Yeah, it is," he replied in an empty sort of tone that matched his glossed over eyes.
Just then, the timer for the cake in the oven rang, causing Frannie to jump nearly out of her skin. Both students also startled, rotating their heads to turn their attention to the oven. Eager for something to do, Miss Hermione hurriedly hopped off the countertop and pulled the cake out, that Malfoy boy right behind her the entire time.
"Well, you're actually supposed to wait for the cake to cool entirely before frosting it," Miss Hermione murmured, playing with her fingernails.
"We could always come back tomorrow night," that Malfoy boy suggested slowly. The girl's eyes shot up to meet his gaze. Gradually, a soft smile appeared on her face.
"We could do that," she agreed. "Don't forget that the pear is the ticklish one."
"Don't worry, Granger," he assured her, eyes twinkling. "I won't."
A/N: ;) Sleep deprivation is a wonderful thing. You can imagine for yourself what happened next. Maybe they forgot about it and canon prevailed, maybe they met up and romance ensued, maybe they met up and drama ensued. Or maybe Frannie had been hallucinating. Sleep deprivation is a wonderful thing. ;)