Hermione drummed her fingers on her old, wooden desk as she tried her best to concentrate on the droning of Professor Flitwick's voice. Although she thought Charms was a very interesting subject, she found herself growing bored with the slow pace of the class, having already read the textbook cover to cover no less than 4 times since the start of her 7th year a few weeks ago. She was bored, and as she looked around the classroom she saw that everyone else seemed to be too. Harry was doodling on his parchment while Ron barely looked awake. Was that drool coming out of his mouth? Even Malfoy was talking quietly to Daphne Greengrass.

When, at last, Professor Flitwick decided they had learned enough theory to perform the charm properly everyone seemed to wake up and started moving around, grabbing their wands out of their bags and turning them on the poor, unsuspecting teacups sitting in front of them. Hermione was excited to try the charm and flicked her wand, saying the incantation slowly and deliberately. She was thrilled that it worked perfectly on her first try, and the Professor toddled over to her.

"5 points to Gryffindor, well done Miss Granger!" He squeaked, and Ron moaned in frustration.

"How do you do it so quickly? I just can't get it to work", he said, waving his wand around in the hope of performing the correct movement.

"Ron, just slow down", she said, grabbing his hand. "There, it's a simple 'S' shape, just do it more carefully". Ron blushed and she quickly removed her hand from his. She didn't want to give him the wrong impression; he was one of her best friends, but she just didn't see him that way.

As she sat back and watched the rest of her classmates struggle to do the magic that seemed to come so easily to her, she felt strangely alone. She loved Harry and Ron, but all they seemed to talk about was Quidditch and girls. Over the last year she had felt them drifting a part a bit. It wasn't noticeable to anyone else, but sometimes when they were walking along together and she felt completely excluded from their conversation. Even when she tried to say something she was cut off or they didn't respond. With this added to Ron's newfound awkwardness around her, they were just not as close as they used to be.

She felt as though she had outgrown all of her classes, she was achieving straight O's with very little effort and even her classmates now seemed juvenile and immature. With the exception of potions, of course, it had always been the one subject that she had little natural talent for. Because of this, she found herself being driven to try harder, to study for longer and she had made it her goal this year to never get less that an E in that class. Professor Snape was also the only teacher who never offered her any praise for her effort or achievement in his class, and it frustrated her that he did not even acknowledge the effort she was putting in, while praising Malfoy for his modifications to the instructions in the textbook, even when they were not successful.

She wanted his praise more than anything, he was a potions genius and as she marched down into the dungeons for class that afternoon she told herself that, this year, she would do anything to get it.