Disclaimer, see Chap. 1. Honest, I really appreciate all the thoughts and feedbacks you've been leaving me! It warms my heart, really!

Chapter 30

"Ginny, none of these dresses even fit properly!" Hermione complained, taking the dress off. She had tried so many on, only to have them all not fit one way or another. Each one was entirely too short or too low cut.

"Nonsense, we just haven't found the right one yet!" Ginny said back. She had found a red dress almost right away, and it was perfect for her. "I rather liked the last one… that purple one."

Hermione shook her head. "Of course you liked it! But I didn't… it showed far too much of me." She leaned against the door of the changing room, a dejected sigh escaping her lips. "What's the point, Ginny? I'm never going to find the right dress."

"Don't talk like that," Ginny snapped back at her from the other side of the changing room. "We'll find you a dress, promise!"

"Don't make promises you can't keep," Hermione growled at her softly.

Ginny let out a laugh. "Honestly, Hermione, you're spending way too much time with Snape. You sounded just like him right there."

"It's Professor Snape," she automatically corrected Ginny, but the thoughts lingered in her mind. Was it true? Was she really spending too much time with Severus? She barely saw him that much, but if Ginny was noticing, wouldn't the boys? She didn't want anyone to become suspicious.

"Is he still a bastard when he's with you?" she asked.

"Ginny," Hermione hissed. "Can we talk about this later?"

"Later, why?"

"Because there are people around us," Hermione snapped back. If the information that she was spending time with Snape, and enjoying it, got back to the wrong people, there would be hell to pay.

"Oh, okay," Ginny replied, slightly hurt by the sudden animosity in Hermione's voice. But then she smiled, because it obviously meant that there was a story to be told.

Hermione began to fan herself. Suddenly, it had become just too hot in the small dress shop. "Let's just go. I won't go to this bloody thing."

"Wait!" Ginny cried, "I've found the perfect dress!" Without warning, she shoved it under the door and into Hermione's hands. "Put it on, please? I know it'll be perfect!"

Hermione looked at the garment carefully. The color was a soft pink, almost peach like. It did look nice on the hanger, but she wasn't sure how it'd look on her.

"Try it on," Ginny said excitedly.

Hermione did so, and moments later, she grinned. "This is it, it's perfect!" The dress fell to her knees, puffing out on the waist giving her a lovely silhouette. And the top still showed some cleavage, but in a more modest way than those other dresses.

She stepped out of the dressing room to show Ginny, who let out a gasp. "You look so beautiful!"

Hermione grinned. "Thank you!" She did a small twirl, allowing the garment to swoosh against her legs. For once, she felt like a teenage girl, a normal teenage girl. And it felt wonderful.

"Come on, let's go pay for it and then we can meet up with Ron and Harry as we walk back to school."

Hermione nodded, going back to the changing room to take off the dress.

"So," Ginny began, the two of them walking down the snowy lane.

Hermione turned, arching her eyebrow. "Yes?"

"Well, Snape! I want to talk about Snape," Ginny said excitedly.

At that moment, someone shoved back Hermione, causing her to stumble. "Hermione!" Ginny cried, moving to help her friend up.

"I'm fine," Hermione said, brushing some snow from her robes. Turning, she saw that familiar blonde head turn a corner. "I wonder where Malfoy is going in such a hurry."

"Probably to do something gittish, now come on, tell me about Snape," Ginny pressed.

"Well, he's still very much Snape-like, but he treats me a bit different," Hermione said softly. "We often talk about Potions and spells, and when we do, it's like we're equals… not like I'm some student he has to babysit."

Ginny smiled at her. "It must be nice to finally converse with someone who's smart enough for you."

"Ginny, you three are plenty smart enough!" Hermione said hurriedly. She hadn't meant for her words to sound that way.

"No, I know, Hermione. You crave intelligent conversations, and that's nothing you'll get with Ron and Harry. I'm happy for you, it seems you're really enjoying your time with Snape," the redhead cast Hermione a knowing look.

Hermione missed it, but she had her own dreamy expression on her face, one that put everything into perspective. Ginny just knew her friend fancied the surly professor, she was sure of it!

"Ginny! Hermione!"

The girls moved up the lane ahead, smiling when they saw Ron and Harry waving to them.

"You both got dresses?" Harry asked, looking at their shopping bags.

"Obviously," Hermione drawled, not realizing that she had once again personified their Professor. "What?" she asked when she noticed the three of them were staring at her with open-mouthed expressions.

"I'm telling you, Hermione, you sound just like him!" Ginny said, starting to laugh.

"Hermione, that was downright scary," Ron hissed, looking around worriedly. "I almost thought he was behind me!"

Harry just looked at her like she had grown another head.

With a laugh, Hermione simply rolled her shoulders. "Come on now, let's head back to Hogwarts."

"You've been spending way too much time with him," Harry said worriedly.

"Stop saying that, all of you!" she snapped at them. "There's more important things going on, and Professor Snape is doing me a huge favor by spending time with me. He's the most able bodied person in the castle, and I for one, really appreciate his help."

That seemed to snap them all out of it.

"Let's just go back to the castle, my bollocks are freezing!" Ron complained.

Hermione sent him a vulgar look but started walking ahead. The four of them walked along the path, none of them really talking. Glancing forward, Hermione saw that Katie and Leanne were arguing about something. She didn't hear what is was about, but she sent Harry a worried look.

"Don't touch it!" one of them shouted loudly.

Before Hermione could even process what was happening, Katie was thrust up into the air, a loud scream escaping her lips.