BY : BB_Rosie & AKxx
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female > Draco/Hermione
Dragon prints: 24026
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I don't make any money from this story. I own nothing.

A/N: BB_Rosie first posted this fic—adopted from myself—but has transferred it back to me after falling very ill.

The silver Prefect badge shone proudly on her black robes as she strolled through the corridors importantly. Hermione Granger was not surprised to learn of her newly appointed Prefect position, but was shocked to learn of her contemporaries. Draco Malfoy had been granted the position of Slytherin Prefect, and to say that the knowledge of the undeserving ferret gaining such a privilege boiled Hermione’s blood, would be quite the understatement.

But there were graver issues to concern herself with that year.

Sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry possessed a tense atmosphere for all its students. The reappearance of the Dark Lord had, fortunately, been widely accepted amongst the magical community; the Ministry of Magic didn’t deny it anymore, which was a start. Hermione believed that both ignorance and acknowledgement had their advantages, but in this case, awareness served her cause better than ignorance.

The brewing dangers in the wizarding world could almost be tasted in the tension of the castle. Almost all students and professors were in a constant state of unease, as though Voldemort would simply jump out of a statue and spook them. As silly as it sounded, Hermione had similar dreams at times. She knew it was a manifestation of her own fears and anxieties. While she was brave, she was no fool; Hermione was afraid. But she dismissed her dread, because to dwell on it would bring no comfort or answers whatsoever. Hermione found comfort in answers, they went hand in hand. And answers were found in the pages she desperately clutched to her chest.

Hermione was late to Ancient Ruins, which wasn’t like her at all. But when nature called, she couldn’t keep up her punctuality. The girls’ lavatory on the fourth floor beckoned to her. As she neared, her pace quickened. She turned a corner and oomph! She collided with a brick wall in the shape of a body, clad in a white school shirt and tight-fitted black jumper.

“Sorry,” muttered Hermione. She took a step away from the defined muscles in her line of sight; she could see the definition through the fabric of the jumper.

Looking up, her apologetic expression hardened. Draco Malfoy, her fellow Prefect, stood there – she had walked into him. Malfoy stared down at her with such cruelty in his steely eyes she felt an involuntary shiver run down her spine.

He had one hand in his pocket and one hand holding a textbook by his side. His stony face could’ve been considered handsome until they twisted into a hateful sneer. Hermione stiffened and stood tall.

“I’ll have to burn this now,” Malfoy spat, glancing down at his jumper. “Do you know how much this material costs, mudblood?”

Hermione barked a false laugh. “More than a semblance of respect will cost you, Malfoy.”

“Respect,” he repeated disdainfully. “Something you should learn.”

His tone had deepened into something … frightening and dangerous. Hermione didn’t show it in her fierce brown eyes or her calm expression, but she suddenly recalled Harry’s suspicions about Malfoy that year. Harry had been attacked by Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express, and was sure that he had taken the Dark Mark. Hermione didn’t agree, but as Malfoy stared down at her with mercurial eyes … she felt uneasy.

The door to the right swung open. Blaise Zabini stepped out of the boys’ lavatory and into the corridor. Malfoy had obviously been waiting for his friend when Hermione had walked into him.

“Granger,” Zabini greeted pompously, fiddling with his smooth black hair.

Hermione was taken aback and it showed on her slack expression. Zabini and she had never uttered a single word to each other over their shared years at Hogwarts. And now he was greeting her in the corridor as if they were acquainted?

“C’mon Blaise,” Malfoy growled, staring down at Hermione still. “We’re late for Ancient Ruins.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. Of course he would be in the same classes she was. He was a top student, and almost reached her impeccable grades. But she was better. She always strived to be the best.

“Excuse me,” Hermione snapped, waiting for Malfoy to step out of the way. She still desperately needed to use the toilet before class.

He smirked before stepping to the side, closer to Zabini. Hermione eyed him warily as she made to walk to the girls’ lavatory, but flinched as his hand reached out to her face.

Hermione gasped. “What are you doing?”

Malfoy’s hand hovered in front of her face, motionless. He smirked and used his thumb to brush over her forehead. He then showed her his thumb, stained with ink.

“You’re dirty enough as it is,” he mocked darkly.

“Wonderful,” commented Zabini. He was bored. “May we leave now?”

Malfoy nodded but stared into Hermione’s perplexed eyes for a moment longer. She had trouble breathing, she realised. It took her a second to figure out why – she was … afraid of him. There was something different about Malfoy that year. Harry had been right. Malfoy was surrounded by a dark aura, his body had lengthened and thickened with muscles, his eyes had hardened and the silver swarmed there. Again she shivered involuntary. He laughed darkly and swept down the corridor with Zabini.

Hermione turned and watched them go. She was perplexed and reeling from the encounter. But Malfoy stepped down the corridor without a care in the world, like their interaction hadn’t even happened.

A pang in her bladder reminded her that she required a toilet. Dismissing her unease as nervousness for the brewing war, she turned and went to the girls’ lavatory. She went about her business and tossed all thoughts of Draco Malfoy into the garbage where they belonged.

Hermione sat at the long table with Ron and Harry. Study Hall was her favourite room in the castle, second to the library. Madam Pince oversaw the sixth year students studying at the tables – she sat at her own desk and faced the others: Yet, Pince was more interested in reading her book than observing the students.

Harry rested his chin on his hand and stared down at his stack of parchment. He was supposed to be working on his Potions essay, but was lost in thought. He always was lately – he was constantly pondering. Ron didn’t write his essay either; he doodled moving sketches of a Quidditch game. As usual, Hermione was the only one in the trio to pay attention to her homework. But … she wasn’t paying as much attention as she used to.

Malfoy sat with Zabini a few tables ahead, and both kept looking up at her at random intervals. She could feel it whenever they looked at her, and her eyes snapped up every time. The Slytherins didn’t even have the decency to deflect their stares and pretend they hadn’t been looking at her at all. They just … kept staring. Hermione was ashamed to admit it – she looked away first, every time.

There was something unnerving about Malfoy that year. Zabini too, but Hermione didn’t know him well enough to identify any changes. All she noticed was that he was suddenly acknowledging her existence, whereas before he only ever acknowledged his own existence in the reflection of windows, shimmery goblets, silver plates and mirrors.

Merlin – She was staring at them again, and they stared right back at her. Malfoy’s light blonde hair was tousled and hung down his forehead, she noticed. Suddenly, Hermione blinked a few times. She then cleared her throat, a little flushed, and shuffled her stack of parchment. Zabini and Malfoy whispered between themselves, but Malfoy’s steely eyes bore right into her reddened face.

“Ahem,” uttered Hermione. She ignored the Slytherins across the Hall. “Harry, the Potions essay is due in the morning. You really should–”

Harry almost flinched, “What?” He looked up at her as though just realising she was there … Or just realising that he was there, in Study Hall. “Oh, sorry, ‘Mione. What were you saying?”

“Only that you need to focus on your homework, instead of daydreaming,” said Hermione. “It’s due tomorrow.”

“I wasn’t daydreaming,” sighed Harry. He rested his tired face in his hands and groaned quietly.

Hermione smiled sympathetically and reached over to place her hand on his. “I know,” she whispered. “With everything Dumbledore wants you to do – it’s a wonder you’re still able to manage. But you can do this, Harry. The Horcruxes are important to find and destroy … but right now, you’re at Hogwarts and need to –”

“Hermione, I wasn’t thinking about that,” interrupted Harry.

Hermione’s face fell. When Harry wasn’t thinking about the Horcruxes and his dreams, he was thinking about his Malfoy conspiracies.

Ron came to the same conclusion and groaned, “Give a rest, mate. Malfoy’s an arse, not a bloody Death Eater.”

“Ron’s right,” she said. “Malfoy will always be a prat, but that’s all he is.” – Even as she said the words she didn’t completely believe them herself. – “Besides, he’s too young to be a Death Eater. What would Voldemort want with a sixteen-year-old mummy’s boy?”

“I don’t know yet,” replied Harry bitterly. “I’ve been watching him on the Marauder’s Map. Every night he wanders around the castle, and then he disappears. He’s up to something, guys. I know it.”

Hermione arched her brow and her honey brown eyes swirled with impatience. “You want to know what I think?” – The look on Harry’s face said ‘no’, but she carried on. “I think you hate Malfoy, like the rest of the general population. This is some deep-seeded hatred manifesting as a vendetta. There are lots of important things to obsess over, Harry. This isn’t one of them.”

His eyes burned into her face – not Harry’s, but Malfoy’s. She could feel it. She tried her best to ignore it, but her body reacted. Adrenaline and nervousness climbed up her throat, making it hard to swallow. He was so far away that he couldn’t possibly hear their conversation, but he watched her. Hermione could agree that Malfoy was different that year. Something had switched inside of him. There were many changes: Physically, he had become a man; his body had filled out with muscles. He was scarier now – an intimidating man, as opposed to the bullying child he had once been. But that didn’t make him a Death Eater. Malfoy was likely angrier because of his father’s imprisonment at Azkaban. That’s all it was.

Harry didn’t speak. He was angry, that much she could tell by his wrinkled lips pressed tightly together into a thin line. His green eyes peered at her over the rim of his glasses. He watched her become lost in thought and involuntarily glance at Malfoy across Study Hall.

“What aren’t you telling me?” asked Harry sternly.

“I’m worried about you,” she sighed. It wasn’t a lie. “You’re spending your time watching Malfoy’s name move around a map, when you could be studying, or better – you could be focusing on what Dumbledore wants you to do. You could be concentrating on your occlumency skills to keep those dreams away, Harry. Instead, you fixate on someone who isn’t worth a single thought.”

Ron grunted and nodded his head. Harry scoffed. The conversation fell with that.

Hermione had the opportunity – right then and there – to tell Harry about her encounter with Malfoy one week ago. She didn’t mention a single word of it. Telling Harry about Malfoy’s odd behaviour and his constant stares would only feed Harry’s obsession. Hermione wanted her friend to focus on more important problems. Harry was having enough trouble concentrating on school work and keeping a level head. He tended to act on impulse, and it sometimes got people hurt. It wasn’t Harry’s fault, but he was ruled by his heart and emotions. She occasionally needed to protect him, even if from himself.

“Hello,” a dreamy voice greeted. The trio glanced up and saw Luna, standing beside Hermione. “May I join you?”

A mumble of ‘yeahs’ coursed through the trio. Luna smiled tranquilly and sat down beside Hermione. She placed a copy of The Quibbler on the table, clasped her hands on her lap, and smiled at Ron’s drawings.

“You’re very creative,” commented Luna.

Ron grumbled a response and continued to sketch a graphic image of Malfoy repeatedly getting whacked off his broom by a string of bludgers and quaffles.

“I like to draw sometimes,” said Luna distractedly. “Mostly nargles.”

“That’s great, Luna,” Hermione said robotically. Most of what Luna said, Hermione tuned out. Luna could say there was a dragon rampaging around the castle and Hermione probably wouldn’t hear it.

Ron glanced at his watch before nudging Harry. “We should go, mate.”

Harry and Ron packed up their belongings.

“Where are you off to?” asked Hermione curtly. “You both have a lot of homework to get through.”

“Quidditch practice,” said Harry sheepishly. He swung his bag over his shoulder.

“Do you think Quidditch is … necessary this year?” Hermione asked tellingly. She couldn’t outright say that Quidditch was insignificant in comparison to Horcrux hunting and Occlumency practice, because Luna was there.

“Quidditch is always necessary,” Harry smiled tightly. He and Ron left, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Boys,” Luna smiled. “Their priorities are confusing.”

Hermione frowned and nodded. For once, she could agree with Luna on something. What was happening to the world?

The world quickly corrected itself as Luna gazed at the ceiling dreamily. Hermione eyed her curiously before she shook her head and returned to her essay. They sat like that for a while, one daydreaming, one studying. Then the scrape of a chair interrupted their silence. Hermione looked up and saw that Malfoy had seated himself in Harry’s chair, across from Hermione. Zabini perched himself on the edge of the table and picked at lint from his pristine, expensive robes, looking bored and superior.

“Can I help you?” Hermione bit bluntly. Zabini didn’t look at her, but Malfoy’s mercurial eyes bore right into her. Her defences raised even further, yet Luna was still lost in her daydream.

“As a matter of fact, you can,” said Malfoy icily. Again, that blasted pang of fear clenched within her. She tried to ignore it and pretend to be perfectly at ease, if not a little impatient and bored.

“And what could I possibly do for you, Malfoy?” asked Hermione.

Malfoy smirked coldly and leaned back in his chair. His smirk didn’t reach his icy eyes – Those steely silver eyes were as cold as a snowy winter night. His black cardigan was unbuttoned, showing his expensive white shirt that clung to his torso flatteringly, and his Slytherin tie drooped informally. She didn’t look directly, but she could see it in her peripheral vision. The contrast was great – Her cardigan was buttoned, her tie was fastened at her shirt collar, and her uniform was prim and proper.

Her finger twitched – she ached to wipe at her face to make sure she had no ink stains like last time they had spoken to one another. Instead, she used her fingers to discreetly slip out her wand from her skirt pocket beneath the table. As her delicate finger clasped around the wood, she felt a rush of security.

“Are you hard of hearing, Malfoy?” asked Hermione politely. Her tone was polite, but her chocolate eyes shot daggers into his unyielding gaze. Her wand helped. “What do you want?”

His smirk remained intact. He was enjoying her impatience. He liked to watch her squirm.

“Draco,” reprimanded Zabini dully. “I do loathe uncomfortable silences.”

“I merely wanted to ask a question,” purred Malfoy. Hermione’s eyebrows shot up at the seductive tone of his voice – seductive and cruel.

“Then ask it already.”

His smirk twisted into a wide grin. It startled her. It was the grin of a menacing wolf, painted on the face of an aristocrat.

“I have been assigned to Prefect rounds this Saturday in Hogsmeade,” he explained. “I checked the schedule, and realised that you, too, are on patrol that day. I am interested in acquiring a few books from Tomes and Scrolls, and was wondering if you would care to come with me.”

If Hermione had been drinking pumpkin juice, Malfoy would be wearing it. She sputtered in complete shock and stared disbelievingly at him. He remained cool and poised with his grin still intact.

“Excuse me?” spat Hermione, outraged.

“Are you hard of hearing, mudblood?” he quipped.

“How dare you,” she seethed through clenched teeth. “You have the audacity to approach me, insult me, waste my time with nonsense, and call me a mudblood?”

Malfoy exhaled heavily and entwined his fingers together. He looked deep in thought as he glanced up at the ceiling. Slowly, he nodded and met her bewildered and furious eyes. “Yes, that about sums it up.”

A feral sneer wiped across Hermione’s lips. “No, Malfoy. I do not accept your invitation, but while you’re down there in the bookshop, maybe you could use that time to educate yourself on basic manners and acceptable conduct. Just a suggestion.”

Hermione stood from her chair, which toppled over, and gathered her things. Luna stood, too, and wore a tranquil – yet confused – expression.

“You know,” chimed Luna. “I saw an etiquette book in Tomes and Scrolls last weekend. I believe it was on the third shelf.”

Hermione knew Luna didn’t mean to be malicious, but she appreciated the comment. Zabini snorted and almost laughed, but Malfoy’s icy stare silenced him. Zabini swiftly returned to fixing his slick black hair combed to the side, and winked at Luna.

Hermione swung her bag over her shoulder and glowered scathingly at Malfoy. He didn’t flinch, but he stared coolly back at her.

“You are a terrible Prefect,” he smirked. His smirk was forced this time, and its cruelty was clear.

“Pardon?” asked Hermione. Her wand was still gripped firmly in her hand.

“You are not on patrol Saturday,” he sighed tediously. “However, I am. And I would prefer to not be.”

“You’re asking me if I will trade patrol nights with you,” said Hermione, understandingly.

“No,” he bit. “Not trade – I want you to take my Saturday patrol out of the kindness of your lioness heart.”

“And I want freedom for house elves,” she smiled smugly. “But with people like you in the world, it doesn’t seem likely. Try someone else, Malfoy – I don’t live to please you.”

Malfoy glared scathingly at her. Hermione only hummed in a very Umbridge-like manner. It felt good to have one up on the prat. Too good.

“Come on, Luna,” said Hermione, stepping over her tumbled chair.

Luna grabbed her things, and joined Hermione before Zabini spoke, “See you around, Lovegood.”

Luna smiled at him before she followed a bewildered Hermione to the doors.

Before Hermione barged through the doors, she spared one last glance over her shoulder. Malfoy simply sat there, looking over his shoulder at her, too. And he smirked. Cruelly and evilly – as though he knew something she didn’t.

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