Disclaimer: JKR is the supreme ruler of the Harry Potter universe.
A/N: Idea originally adopted from Sweetheart in the corner, via the Twin Exchange forum's Ideas to Good Homes: "It's 4 in the morning and Hermione is studying in the library. However, as she gets up to go to bed she realizes someone she never would have expected is there on the other side of the bookcase! Draco/Hermione!"
I may have expanded on the idea quite a bit more than I originally intended, so keep an eye out for upcoming chapters. Hope you enjoy!
Hermione quietly made her way through dark corridors to the library, listening carefully for the sound of other nocturnal wanderers. She'd thought briefly about asking to borrow Harry's Cloak, but didn't think he would appreciate her attempt to research the identity of the Half-Blood Prince in the dead of night. Peering around the corner that led to the library, she quickly made her way to the locked entrance.
Alohamora, she thought, not wanting to waste an opportunity to practice her nonverbal spells. The lock clicked and the door opened with a low creak. Hermione's usual safe haven felt ominous as she made her way through the towering shelves, faintly lit by the starlight shining through the high, arched windows. She lit her wand—another nonverbal spell—and chose several large volumes.
Settling in for a long night, Hermione started in on Notable Magical Names of Our Time, hoping to find the surname Prince. Inwardly cursing the author for not choosing to organize the book alphabetically, she painstakingly read the names on each page. Finding nothing, she opened A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry, turning to the section on Potions. She found nothing about improvements to making the Draught of Living Death, and reasoned that a new edition of Libatius Borage's text would have been made available if the results were known to the public.
Hermione had nearly made up her mind to start in on Prefects Who Gained Power, when she checked her watch. Blinking a few times to make sure it really read 4 o'clock, she decided to call it a night. Shuffling tiredly through the stacks, Hermione's mind drifted to her warm bed in Gryffindor tower, and briefly entertained the blasphemous thought of sleeping through her morning classes. Lulled into a false sense of security from the hours spent in the silent library, she neglected to check each corner for other occupants, and nearly collided with Draco Malfoy.
"Malfoy!" Hermione hissed after yelping loudly, "What are you doing here?"
Draco's surprised look was quickly replaced by his customary sneer.
"Granger," he drawled, "Out of bed after hours? It's a dangerous time for Mudbloods like you to be wandering the castle after dark."
"Thank you for your concern," Hermione retorted, her voice thick with sarcasm. Stalking past him, she noticed the title of the book he was carrying loosely under his arm—An Anthology of Eighteenth Century Charms. Annoyed that he had evaded her question, she asked, "Isn't it a little late for Charms homework?"
"Contrary to popular belief, you are not the only person in this castle to have opened a book for…extracurricular purposes." Giving her one last look of disdain, he turned and disappeared into the next row of shelves.
Breakfast arrived far too quickly. Hermione pulled her Arithmancy text out of her bag and reached for a piece of toast. Ron sat down next to her and reached for a large side of bacon, spilling orange juice in the process.
"Honestly, Ron," Hermione huffed crankily, siphoning the liquid up with her wand. Ron's only response was to shovel eggs into his mouth.
Hermione attempted to focus on her work, wanting to make sure that she had the reading memorized before class. Her eyes soon drifted to the far side of the Hall, where the sixth-year Slytherins had just arrived en masse for breakfast. She watched as Malfoy sat down, showing no signs of fatigue save for the large mug he filled to the brim with coffee. Pansy Parkinson reached for the coffee pot, and Malfoy swatted her arm away. He began talking about something to his housemates, gesticulating enthusiastically. Hermione wondered what subject could possibly excite him this early in the morning. At this point, she realized that she had been willingly looking at Draco Malfoy for several moments, and hastily took a bite of toast.
"…wish I knew what Malfoy was up to," Harry was saying.
Hermione coughed, nearly choking on her toast, and hoped Harry hadn't noticed her brief lapse of attention. Ron patted her back genially.
"What could Malfoy possibly be up to, Harry?" Hermione asked once she had cleared her esophagus.
Harry leaned across the table and lowered his voice. "He's a Death Eater, Hermione. Whatever he's up to, it isn't good."
She shared her usual look of skepticism with Ron, and chose not to respond to Harry's morning Malfoy is a Death Eater routine. Changing the subject, Hermione announced her intention to color-code her notes after lunch, and strongly advised her friends to join her. Quickly finishing her toast, she headed off to Arithmancy.
Sitting in front of the fire in the common room later that night, Hermione wished she wasn't so distracted. True, her brain tended to function more effectively after a full night of sleep, but this was ridiculous. She was honestly beginning to worry that she'd been thinking about Draco Malfoy more than Harry had that day.
Even though there was no possible way that Malfoy could be a Death Eater, Hermione still suspected he was up to something. Extracurricular activities didn't necessarily mean nefarious plans, but he certainly wasn't in the library at four in the morning because of Quidditch or the Gobstones club.
Of course, if she mentioned her little rendezvous to Harry, he would almost certainly use it as conclusive evidence that Malfoy had a secret Death Eater plot to resurrect the basilisk and set it loose on Muggle London.
Deciding to put last night out of her mind, Hermione brought her focus back to Arithmancy, and the two-foot essay that had been assigned to her earlier that morning.
A/N: More to come, ladies and gents. Reviews are greatly appreciated!