Given the Circumstances

This never happened. I frowned in frustration, my mind rapidly thinking back to the Potions lecture earlier today. Surely Professor Slughorn had said the answer; I looked though my perfect notes trying to find it, but my mind could not process the words on the parchment.

It might've been something to do with that infuriating giggle and shriek that came every so often from the corner opposite me.

I couldn't concentrate. Surely I would know the answer immediately, if she wasn't here… with him.

Her obnoxious laughter made me pull at my frizzy hair, sighing in frustration as I impatiently slammed my textbook and folded my parchment, shoving them both in my bag.

Another shriek came from over by the entrance to the common room. I sat on the floor, my back against the plush crimson velvet couch. I had been there for the past hour or so, legs crossed and blankly staring at the fire. I was determined not to look over there, I knew what I would see.

Them. Together. Snogging.

It was what they did every night after dinner. They came back from the Great Hall and took their place by the entrance to the Common Room. It was nauseating. While I did my homework, occasionally helping Harry with his, I sat here pretending they weren't over there snogging each other senseless. However, there was only so long I could ignore them before she let out another revolting girlish shriek and shatter my concentration.

Why did I sit here when I knew perfectly well what they were doing every evening? If I knew how much it would hurt to catch a glimpse of them in an embrace, why did I continue to subject myself to this? It was ridiculous. It was masochistic.

It was everything I wish I had.

I realized I wanted to be in Lavender Brown's place more than anything. Though my feelings toward Ron had been different than my feelings for Harry since second year, I didn't really realize what they were until fourth year. The Yule Ball had been a place of many realizations.

A house meeting about the Triwizard Tournament was scheduled right before lunch and we were all required to attend. I took my seat on the girl's side of Professor McGonagall's Transfiguration classroom, as directed by Mr. Filch when we arrived. I was confused as Harry and Ron were told to sit in the opposite side of the classroom. I hadn't had the chance to read much about the Tournament itself; I had only researched what Harry needed to survive the tasks so far. Was there something each house had to do individually?

"The Yule Ball," Professor McGonagall began as Mr. Filch tinkered with a giant record player behind her, "has been a tradition of the Triwizard Tournament since its inception."

There would be a ball? Of course! It made perfect sense to gather each house now, splitting each other up by gender. This was a different kind of lesson than we had ever had before. Almost like Muggle Studies, this particular lesson didn't involve magic at all. It was a dance lesson.

The best part about that day, about that year, had been Ron's painful expression when forced to dance with Professor McGonagall herself as a demonstration.

"Place your right hand on my waist," she instructed firmly.

"WHERE?" Ron asked for clarification, completely dubious.

I couldn't help it, I was immediately laughing so hard my sides hurt. I put my fist up to my mouth to stifle the sound. Thankfully, no one noticed my laughter. Everyone was too focused on Ron with Professor McGonagall, hoping to learn something that might help them get a date to the dance.

I began studying them too, although I had taken lessons when I was younger like most muggle girls. I was fairly sure I knew how to dance.

It was then, as I observed Ron's right hand on Professor McGonagall's waist and his sweaty left palm clutching hers, that I felt that feeling I had been feeling for quite some time now when I looked at him. A feeling that I didn't quite understand. I looked at his miserable expression on his face and cleared my throat slightly to cover another laugh that bubbled up. I wondered if I was in Professor McGonagall's place, would he look so miserable? Much to my own shock, I hoped that he wished I was in her place.

His bright blue eyes were everywhere, anywhere other than on our Professor. Then, he looked at me. I realized I wanted to dance with my best friend. Then, our gaze broke as Harry let out a loud laugh. Fred and George were behind him, mocking Ron and our Head of House. Through further realization, I knew I didn't exactly want to dance with Harry. It was because Ron was different. I may have been harboring some feelings for Ronald Weasley, definitely some that were more than friendly.

"Oh, Won Won!" She giggled. "Tell me you love me!"

I waited, still not able to bring myself to look over there, for his response. I continued to wait, but no response came. I took a ragged breath, thinking that possibly he'd come to his senses and see the superficial girl for what she was. Ron was so much better than that, so much better than her. He could do so much better than what he had for a… girlfriend… now. I listened for an endless moment and heard the chair shift and the click of her high-heels on stone. My eyebrows rose and my eyes widened in shock, but I continued to pretend to be completely engrossed in the fireplace. Had he rejected her?

Carefully, so they wouldn't notice, I turned my head only slightly to the side and watched them out of the corner of my eye.

Lavender Brown stood there, her arms rigid and her hands clenched into fists. In her immaturity, she even stomped her foot and her shoe clicked once more on the stone floor. He stood from his relaxed position in the large armchair and put his large hands on her small arms, rubbing gently. He was trying to calm her before she threw a tantrum for all of Gryffindor House to see. I made my own hands into fists, grabbing a bit the fuzzy rug that I sat on. She absolutely infuriated me.

"Won Won?" Lavender asked, her voice hitching impossibly higher. "What's wrong?" Her bottom lip stuck out in a ridiculous pout. I supposed that she thought she looked attractive like that, but it made me despise her all the more. It made her even more revolting in my eyes. My teeth ground together and my lips pulled into a tense line. My eyes narrowed, but then widened at his response.

"Lav, haven't you had enough for tonight?"

Her mouth fell open in shock, but she quickly closed it and resumed her previous pout. "I guess, Won Won. What's wrong? You've never been tired of this before…" She gave him a slight tug on his loose Gryffindor tie, and he leaned down slightly in response. Then, she stood on her toes and gave him a quick kiss.

If I hadn't been looking, I wouldn't have caught his subtle glance towards me. Unfortunately, Lavender had been looking too.

"Does this have something to do with her?" She didn't even have to decency to lower her voice. She threw a not-so-subtle glare in my direction.

"Course not, Lav. Just tired." He mumbled, looking down and scratching the back of his head and scrunching his freckled nose.

She smiled and jumped back onto his lap. Giggling again, she bit her lip and said "How about a proper goodnight then?"

I felt the familiar sting of tears in my eyes. As soon as he put his hands around her again, I looked away. I went back to pretending. Sighing, I retrieved my work out of my bag again. After staring at my parchment for the longest time, I realized I was still on the same question as I had been ten minutes ago.

This never happened.

I'm Hermione Granger, I should know the answer. I am 'The Brightest Witch of My Age'. I always knew the answer.

"It's 'leviosa', not 'leviosar'."

"You do it then, if you're so clever. Go on, go on!"

I did it perfectly, the feather lifted effortlessly off the wood and I smiled knowingly at my accomplishment.

I took out my wand and did the simple spell from so many years ago, deftly lifting one of the logs in the fireplace, adjusting its position. The wood gave a nice crackle in the fire. I felt a single tear run down my cheek. I sat my homework off to the side and brought my knees up to my chest, placing my crossed arms on top of them. I rested my my chin on top of my arms and watched the small sparks the log I had played with created. Then, the Fat Lady swung open to let another Gryffindor into the Common Room. I supposed it was getting quite late and students should be getting back to their dormitories before curfew. I glanced toward the portrait hole to see who it was; it just so happened that Cormac McLaggen was coming to sit in the armchair adjacent me. He watched me the entire way to his seat. I tried to ignore him.

Then, another squeal coming from Lavender's direction rung in my ears. My mouth pressed into a firm line and my teeth gritted together in frustration and annoyance.

"Hermione, are you alright," Cormac asked. "You look at little…" he trailed off. I looked at him. His eyebrows were raised in what I guessed what was supposed to be an attractive manner. It just made me uncomfortable.

I nodded my head, trying to convince myself more than him. "Fine," I muttered.

"Well, then I was wondering if you already had a date to the Christmas party?"

That was sudden. As I was about to reject him, tell him that I already had someone I already asked, another set of raucous high-pitched laughter came from their direction. I didn't have a date, because he chose Lavender Brown over me. However, I didn't really want to go alone, but I guessed that alone was better than with the vile being that was Cormac McLaggen. If I said no, Cormac was sure to ask who I was going with, then I supposed I could answer-

"Won WON!" Lavender giggled. My infuriation reached its peak.

I inadvertently looked in their direction and saw their rather compromising position on the large armchair. I snapped and the words I never really intended to say slipped out of my mouth.

"No, I don't. Would you like to go together?"

The snogging in the corner stopped almost immediately. Lavender was left alone on the plush crimson seat as Ron left with a quiet, "I'm going to bed," and didn't look back.

I mouth dropped as I had realized what I had just done. I had just asked the most repulsive being to go with me to Professor Slughorn's Christmas party. I, in no way, fancied Cormac McLaggen.

He raised his eyebrows, as shocked as I was at my words.

"Alright," he said, "It's a date."

I had been under the impression that Ron and I would still attend Professor Slughorn's Christmas party together, until the circumstances changed.

Given the circumstances, I had to make other arrangements.

A/N: I hope you liked it! Please leave a review saying if you loved/ hated it, what you loved/hated, or even just a nice hello. :) I love hearing from my reviewers and I try to reply to each and every one of you. Plus, if you do, I will read AND REVIEW your stories :)

Thank you for reading!

Elizabeth