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For the Love of Pete by amelia marie

Format: Short story
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 10,700
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: No Warnings

Genres: Romance, Humor
Characters: Draco, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Fred/George
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 12/11/2005
Last Chapter: 07/06/2006
Last Updated: 07/06/2006

Summary:
The Weasley twins put their latest moneymaking scheme into action and begin to meddle in the love lives of others. Thanks to Kristen for the banner!


Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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Two identical young men were sitting together at a small table near the back of the dimly lit pub, both silently staring off into space. They refused to make eye contact with each other. Two glasses of untouched Butterbeer sat in front of them on the table. They were stylishly dressed in black robes that made their flaming red hair stand out even more.

“It’s brilliant George. Just admit it,” one of them said in a low voice. “Stop being so stubborn. You’re just jealous cause I thought of it before you did.”

“You’re an idiot. It’d be a complete waste of money. Honestly, would anyone actually trust us? For the love of Pete, Fred, we own a joke shop!” the other one returned in an exasperated whisper.

“Whose idea was the joke shop? Mine. And look how well that turned out. Come on, just give it a try. What do we have to loose? “ Fred crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair.

After a long moment of silence, George finally said, “Well, things have been pretty dull lately,” Pausing, he chuckled and said, “Why not, let’s do it.”

Fred grinned and in his excitement, he lost his balance and his chair toppled. Laughing, he stood up, brushed off his robes and shook George’s hand. After downing their Butterbeer in one gulp, Fred left a tip on the table. They left the pub as everyone stared curiously after the two conniving brothers.

A week later, Fred and George were sitting behind the honey colored counter of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. It was a Monday morning and the store was empty at the moment. The twins were so engrossed in the papers lying on the counter in front of them that they failed to notice the pretty, freckle faced young lady with long, ginger hair who had just arrived by Floo Powder in the fireplace behind them.

“I think it’s good to go,” Fred said.

Ginny had crept up behind the two and was staring intently at the papers. “What’s good to go?” she said in a curious voice.

“Ginny!” Fred and George shouted as they spun around in surprise. “What are you doing here?” George asked his sister, sounding annoyed.

“I work here, remember?” she said in an exasperated voice. “What’re you two doing that’s so secretive anyway?” she asked suspiciously.

“None of your business,” Fred said.

Before either one could stop her, Ginny swiftly grabbed the top paper and began to read it out loud. “For the Love of Pete! Let us help you find the love of your life. Sign up for our new matchmaking services and find the perfect one. Only one Galleon for the first 100 people that sign up,” she read in disbelief. “Where in the world did you come up with this idea? It’s ridiculous!” she said as she threw the paper down and snorted. “You guys still don’t have girlfriends, how do you expect to run a matchmaking business?” she said laughing.

George gave Fred an I-told-you-so-look, but Fred just ignored him. “Simple. Think of all the kids that couldn’t find dates to the Yule Ball a few years ago. Well, there are obviously lots of teenagers that could use a little help in finding the perfect person. And not just students either. We’re 22 and still haven’t found anyone. So it’s an idea that will be appealing to witches and wizards of all ages,” Fred explained. “It’s a brilliant moneymaking scheme,” he added with a grin.

Ginny just laughed and headed into the storage room. Her brothers never failed to amaze her with the random ideas they came up with. Most of them usually worked, but she had a bad feeling about this particular plan.

“Would you like to sign up Ginny?” George called out after her.

“We’ll give you a discount since you’re family,” put in Fred.

“Don’t be stupid,” she yelled back.

“Hey, the wedding isn’t for another ten months, you’ve still got loads of time for some fun,” Fred yelled in a mischievous voice.

Ginny popped her head around the doorframe. “Bug off you guys! I’m not going to sign up,” she said and disappeared around the corner.

Fred and George grinned at each other, shrugged, and began hanging up the fliers.

Just then the brass bell on the door clanged as a group of giggling girls came in.

Fred and George greeted them with wide smiles. “Stocking up for school, ladies? We have all the supplies you need to survive the year. Check out our back to school sale on the far wall over there,” George suggested. “Enough tricks to drive even Professor McGonagall up the wall.”

“Oh, and we’ve got a special offer going on for a limited time only,” Fred said excitedly.

Quickly, he grabbed a stack of applications off the counter. The writing glowed red and pink and there were dancing hearts swirling around the paper. “You all should consider signing up for our new matchmaking offer. It's a great way to meet new people,” Fred explained as he handed out the papers.

“And it only costs a Galleon to sign up,” George added.

“Let me get this straight,” one girl asked as she looked over the paper. “We give you info about ourselves, you match us with a guy the same age with similar interests, and set up the blind date?”

“That’s right,” said Fred brightly.

“And if we don’t like the guy, we aren’t obligated to see him again?” another girl inquired.

“Nope. After the first date the rest is up to you. If the first one doesn’t work, we’ll keep setting up different dates for you as we find new matches though,” Fred answered.

Looking rather intrigued, the girls all accepted a paper and continued shopping. Before they left, they all returned the papers, completely filled out, along with a Galleon apiece.

Once the store was quiet again, Fred held the stack of applications and grinned smugly at his sister, who was restocking a shelf. “See Ginny, it’s working already.”

She just rolled her eyes and said, “Alright, so you’ve got a few girls signed up. But how do you plan on getting any guys to participate? After all, it only will work if there are guys,” she said smugly.

Before either of the twins could answer, a few customers wandered into the store, preventing them from thinking of a good comeback.

Ginny left the shop a few hours later and headed home to the Burrow before her brothers could try to change her mind about their new business venture.

Later that evening after the twins closed up the shop they headed upstairs to their second floor flat. A few minutes later the food they had ordered from the Leaky Cauldron appeared in their fireplace by way of the Floo Network. Fred grabbed the tray and set it on the table next to George.

“Listen, I think Ginny might have a point. So far today we got twenty-one applications; three boys and eighteen girls, “George said as he flipped through a stack of applications.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. We’ll put an advertisement in the Daily Prophet. That’ll shoot our membership sky-high,” said Fred.

George looked at his brother skeptically and began to eat.

The next Saturday morning Fred and George had promised their mother to come home for a visit.

“Oh, Fred, George, I’m so glad you’re here. You boys just keep growing,” Mrs. Weasley fussed over the twins the moment they apparated into the kitchen.

“Hey Mum,” said Fred. “Oh, hi Fleur,” he said, noticing Bill’s wife who was peeling potatoes at the sink.

“Where’s Percy?” asked George with an impish grin.

“The boys are all in the garden,” replied Mrs. Weasley.

The twins promptly headed out the back door. Bill, Ron, and Harry were engaged in a heated game of Nuke the Gnomes. As soon as they saw the twins, they stopped the game and came over to say hello.

Percy was seated at one end trying to concentrate on a rather large stack of paperwork. Every once in awhile a gust of wind would send a paper soaring away and he would have to use his wand to retrieve it.

“ I’m telling you Harry, you’re a cheater! We already agreed not to use magic, it only counts if you catch one with your bare hands!” Ron exclaimed, brushing his sweaty red hair out of his face.

“Hey everyone,” George said.

“Hey guys,” said Bill, ignoring Harry and Ron who were still arguing about the game.

“Where’re Ginny?” asked Fred.

“She’s inside with Hermione,” said Harry immediately.

Fred and George glanced mischievously at each other.

“So…Harry, ten months is it?” George said lightly.

“Yeah,” he said happily.

“What about you Ronnie, who is your lucky girl?” asked Fred sweetly.

Harry and Bill immediately exchanged worried glances. Percy was still engrossed in his stack of papers and was oblivious to the conversation. Ron’s face had turned beet red and he was frowning slightly.

“Naff off Fred. I don’t see you with any girl,” he said angrily.

“Ooh, a wee bit jealous of Harry are we Ronnie?” teased George.

Before Ron could reply, Fred whipped out a piece of parchment. “Well don’t worry about a thing mate, we’ve got a solution to all of your problems,” he said as he handed the parchment to Ron.

Bill and Harry curiously leaned over to read the parchment.

“Matchmaking services?” Harry said, looking up in disbelief.

Fred grinned and nodded. “That’s right. Only one Galleon, quite a deal you know.”

Bill burst out laughing and pulled out a piece of gold from his robe pocket, which he tossed to George. “Here, sign Percy up. He could use a girl to distract himself from all this ridiculous Ministry paperwork,”

At this Percy’s head shot up and he retorted, “I have no time for your pranks as you should well know,” he said, glaring at the twins. “Unlike you, I have a very important job,”

“Oh, right, I forgot. Without you our cauldron bottoms would still be scandalously thin,” joked Fred. Bill, Ron, and Harry tried unsuccessfully to muffle their laughter.

Percy’s face turned slightly red before he replied, “Actually, I’m doing much more than that. You have no idea how much paperwork accompanies each Death Eater’s imprisonment. Just because you-know-who is gone doesn’t mean life is all fun and games now.”

“Unless you’re Harry Potter that is,” said Bill with a grin.

“Yeah, I’ll bet the gnomes are starting to miss Voldemort by now,” joked Harry.

Percy rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time for this,” he said, picked up his paperwork and went inside.

Everyone laughed as Percy stormed off. “Come on Ron, you’re the only one here who isn’t married or engaged, besides us. Don’t you want to sign up?” George said.

“It’ll be funny Ron,” prompted Bill.

“Yeah, who knows who you might meet,” added Harry.

“No. How many times do I have to tell you? I’ve had enough of girls and their drama,” said Ron angrily and stormed inside, letting the screen door slam behind him.

“Who’s got his underwear in a bunch?” asked Fred.

“Hermione,” Bill and Harry replied in unison.

Fred and George looked at each other in surprise.

“You know they had been going out ever since the end of sixth year, right?” asked Harry.

They twins both nodded.

“Well, it was towards the end of the war and Ron got in a bit of a predicament with a couple of Death Eaters. He was outnumbered, but luckily Hermione came along and blasted ‘em into the next century. So then Ron got all angry cause he claimed he had things under control and didn’t need her help. It just kinda took off from there and the two realized they wouldn’t work together,” Harry explained.

“Then why is Hermione here?” asked George.

“Oh, Mum invited her. Besides, things have simmered down in the past two months. Ron’s just a bit touchy on the subject of women in general right now,” Harry said.

“I see,” mused Fred with a knowing smile.

“Right then, Ron Weasley and Percy Weasley,” said George, holding his wand out over two applications. Immediately writing appeared on the parchment.

“We’ll give them both a free trial,” said George with a grin as he tossed Bill his gold back. “After all, they are family.”

Just then Hermione came outside and walked over to the table. “Hey guys, how’s the store?” she asked the twins with a smile.

“Hermione, just the girl we wanted to see,” said Fred with a grin. “The store’s great, thanks for asking. Now we’ve got something here that a nice single girl like you would be very interested in,” he continued as he whipped out another application.

“And considering the fact that you were-are almost family, you don’t have to pay,” said George as Hermione gave him a dark look.

“This is a bunch of rubbish,” she replied after she read the application. She thrust the parchment back into George’s hands and headed back inside.

George immediately filled out another form, this time for Hermione. “She’ll appreciate it in the long run,” George reassured Harry as he looked on skeptically.


Chapter 2: Chapter 2
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Draco Malfoy wandered down the crowded street. Every store window he passed boasted a picture of a famous Auror. Harry Potter, Granger, Mad-Eye, Tonks, Lupin, numerous other heroes, and even his own face stared solemnly back at him. But not even the fact that he was up there with so many other great witches and wizards seemed to matter to the general public.

Oftentimes as he was walking down the street a wizard would give him a suspicious glance. Sometimes when he passed by a mother she would instinctively pull her children closer to her side. He hated going out in public anymore; it was just too much trouble.

Today wasn’t any different. His mood worsened with every glance he received as he stormed up to 93 Diagon Alley, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.

“Draco, how’s it going?” George asked cordially as the young man entered the empty store. It was late on a raining Tuesday afternoon and the warmly lit shop wasn’t very busy.

Before Draco could answer George, the group of kids standing at the counter recognized him and began whispering and trying to sneak glances at him without being noticed.

“Brilliant. Everything is just great,” Draco said in a sarcastic voice. He spun away from the counter, black robe flowing out behind him, and headed down an aisle. He wandered around the cozy store until the kids had left. Then he went back to the front and leaned against the counter. George had disappeared. When he came back from the storage room a moment later, he found Draco reading a matchmaking application.

“You should sign up. It’d do you good to get out a little more often,” commented George.

Startled, Draco dropped the parchment back onto the pile and looked up. “Weasley, I could easily get any girl in Britain without your help,” he said with a sneer.

George just laughed. He had gotten used to Draco’s cockiness by now. “Yeah, until your big head explodes in the middle of dessert. I doubt she’d stick around very long with your brains splattered everywhere,” George joked.

Draco just shook his head, but George could detect a faint ghost of a smile on his lips.

“So what are you doing here anyway? I know you don’t like going out anymore,” George asked.

“I was going insane cooped up at home, I can’t stand that house,” he said, referring to Malfoy Manor. “McGonagall hired me as the new Potions teacher so I figured I’d better check out the pranks the brats’ll try to pull on me. After all, there’s no better place to scout out all the latest tricks,” he said.

George nodded in agreement, then, realizing what Draco had said, he asked in a surprised voice, “You’re gonna teach?!”

“Yeah, McGonagall wanted an Auror around just to be on the safe side. Besides, I just need to get away from everything for awhile,” Draco explained.

“Hell, if I were you and needed a break I’d head for a beach with lots of hot girls, not Hogwarts,” George said grinning.

“Where do you think I’ve been the past two weeks? It was alright for a few days, but I get sunburned too easily,” Draco replied seriously. “And Muggle girls get on my nerves for some reason,” he added.

George was having a hard time imagining Draco lying on a beach towel, slathered in suntan lotion, red as a lobster with peeling skin. He chuckled at the mental image and said, “Alright, I can see why that wouldn’t work too well. Which is exactly why you should sign up for our matchmaking services. You’ll only get witches, no Muggles.”

Draco snorted and replied, “Yeah, I can definitely think of loads of nice girls that would want to date the son of a Death Eater.”

“So, Professor Malfoy, is it?” Fred said as he came in from the back room where he had been eavesdropping. He set a box down on the hardwood floor and said, “Did you and Hermione decide to get new jobs together or something? After all, I know how fond you two are of each other,” he said with a smile.

“Are you saying that Granger is teaching at Hogwarts?” Draco said in a dangerously calm voice.

“Ah, well, that’s what Ron told me,” Fred said nervously.

Draco’s sneer seemed to double in size at this remark.

“Come on Draco, she’s not that bad,” George reasoned. “Sure she’s a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s really a nice girl.”

Draco snorted and said, “Yeah, she leaves the room whenever I come in, she tried to convince Harry I was a spy, and ‘accidentally’ hexed me the first time I came to a meeting of the Order. Sounds like the perfect angel to me.”

“Hey now, don’t be so hard on her. She doesn’t know what went on. Remember, she was still in St. Mungo’s recovering from those nasty battle wounds when you joined us,” Fred said reasonably.

“What, and you’re telling me that no one ever found the time to explain?” Draco said angrily.

“Well, she never really gave us a chance to explain, and then things were so crazy, you know how it was. There wasn’t time to keep everything straight, we were doing all we could just to keep ourselves alive,” George argued.

Draco sighed. “It’s going to be a long year.”

“If you’re looking for a nice quiet job, I have a feeling you won’t find it at Hogwarts. At least not with the two of you together, that is,” Fred grinned mischievously.

“Dumb know-it-all,” muttered Draco.

“Exactly,” Fred replied.

“Well, I’d better be going. I’m heading to Hogwarts next week so I guess I’ll see you guys around,” Draco said and headed towards the door.

“Wait, you haven’t filled out an application yet!” called out George.

Draco ignored him and pushed the door open. He was a Malfoy for goodness sakes. He didn’t need the help of anyone to find girls. As he stood looking out into the rain, yet another random witch gasped as she walked past and recognized his face. He angrily stepped out into the rain and stormed down the street.

As George watched Draco stride away, he felt a wave of sympathy come over him. Poor bloke couldn’t even go out in public anymore. He glanced down at the dancing hearts on the application. “I guess one more free trial wouldn’t hurt business,” George said to himself under his breath. Fred snickered as he imagined Draco’s reaction when he discovered what George had done.


Chapter 3: Chapter 3
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The Three Broomsticks was almost empty when Hermione walked in on Wednesday morning. She ordered a glass of lemonade, since it was too early for anything stronger. She took her drink and a copy of The Daily Prophet and headed outside to one of the tables on the sidewalk. It was such a beautiful August day that she didn’t feel like sitting inside the stuffy building.

The warm sun shone down on her face, catching the gold in her hair. It had tamed down in the last few years since leaving school, but it was still rather bushy. Hermione didn’t think it was worth the trouble to make it look nice everyday. She was wearing a pretty yellow sundress and white sandals. Normally she didn’t bother getting dressed up, but she wanted to make a good impression on the other teachers when she arrived at Hogwarts.

The students wouldn’t be coming until Sunday evening, but the teachers always went back a few days earlier to get their classrooms in order. Hermione was a bit anxious about how the other teachers would receive her since she was so much younger than all of them. She still had an hour before she was due to be at the castle, so she took a deep breath and tried to relax.

She flipped through the newspaper, reading a few articles here and there. The main headline was about the most recent Death Eater that had been imprisoned, one of the last holdouts. Hermione was glad she didn’t have to worry about that sort of thing anymore. It was true that McGonagall had specifically hired her because of her experience as an Auror, but Hermione didn’t really expect to run into anyone too evil at Hogwarts. Nevertheless, she would keep her eyes open.

Suddenly, an advertisement caught her eye on the bottom of the page. The red and pink hearts were awfully hard to miss. “For the Love of Pete!” she read to herself. As she continued reading, she couldn’t help but shake her head. It was an ad for the Weasley twins’ matchmaking business. “Over 300 members. Sign up today and meet the love of your life,” it said. She snorted as she read the last line.

Hermione was sick and tired of everyone talking about true love. Of course she was happy for Ginny and Harry, but seeing them so happy together just made her feel even worse about herself. Why did everything work out just right for them but not for her and Ron? But then again, she had suspected all along that things wouldn’t work with Ron. They were more like brother and sister, always arguing about everything. She sighed and stared back down at the ad.

“Well look who it is. Where’s Weasel Boy? Does he know you’re looking at that advertisement?” a mocking voice said behind her.

Startled, Hermione jumped up, knocking over her glass of lemonade in the process. She ignored the spill and turned around to find herself face to face with her least favorite person on the planet.

“Don’t you have anything better to be doing Malfoy? Maybe killing baby rabbits or something equally cruel?” she said furiously.

“First of all, I don’t kill baby rabbits, and secondly, I’m sure that it wouldn’t be half as much fun as making you angry. There’s nothing I love more than tormenting you,” he said with a smirk on his face.

“Wow, what a pathetic life. If you were anyone else, I might actually feel sorry for you,” she retorted.

“Well, at least I’m not dating a weasel. And I always thought you’d do at least a little better than that,” Malfoy said sarcastically.

“For your information Ferret, I’m not dating Ron anymore so why don’t you just leave me alone!” Hermione retorted angrily. She spun around and stormed down the sidewalk, leaving Malfoy standing alone with a very satisfied look on his face.

Making her angry sure put him in a good mood. He could barely wait to see her reaction when he told her that they were going to be working together all year long. He chuckled as he imagined her fit of rage.

Why couldn’t she keep her cool around Malfoy? Her blood began to boil at the sound of his name. One of the main reasons she had quit her job as an Auror was to get away from him. She couldn’t stand seeing him at all the meetings, sitting there with an arrogant look on his face. Why did everyone else seem to accept him? Was she the only one who saw him for who he truly was? Besides, what would she have done if they had been assigned to work together? No, she had to get away. It was time for a change anyway. Hermione was tired of fighting.

Breathing deeply, she put Malfoy out of her mind and headed up the road out of Hogsmead towards Hogwarts. She couldn’t help but smile as the familiar castle came into view. This was the first year Hogwarts would be open since Hermione’s sixth year. With Dumbledore dead and Voldemort on the loose no one had felt safe sending their children away to school. Now that the war was over, life in the wizarding world was slowly returning to normal.

Hermione let herself into the castle and hurried up the familiar hallways to the Headmaster’s office. She didn’t want to be late. Everything seemed unnaturally quiet without the noise of all the students. She reached the stone gargoyle and realized she didn’t know the password. To Hermione’s relief, Professor McGonagall walked around the corner and greeted her with a warm smile.

“Hermione, I didn’t expect you yet, it’s so good to see you!” McGonagall greeted her with a hug.

“You to Professor,” replied Hermione.

“I have to meet Poppy and Pomona for tea, please excuse me Hermione, I’m sorry to rush off like this,” McGonagall apologized.

“Who’re Poppy and Pomona?” Hermione asked curiously.

“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s Madame Pomfrey and Professor Sprout. The teachers’ common room is on the fourth floor, fifth portrait on the right. The password is Zauberei. Make yourself at home,” she said hurriedly as she headed down the hall.

Hermione smiled as she watched McGonagall rush around the corner. Sighing, she headed up to the fourth floor. It was going to be a long year, she could tell already. All of the teachers had been working together for years, and most were older than her grandparents. She was already feeling rather lonely.

Finally Hermione reached the correct portrait and said the password. The picture of a snarling wizard in ugly brown robes gave her a nasty look as she stepped inside. The common room was very similar to the Gryffindor’s, except it was a bit smaller. The windows were open, letting the pleasant summer breeze waft around the room. There was a large fireplace on one wall with comfortable chairs and a couch clustered around it.

Near the back of the room Hermione noticed a staircase leading up to a balcony. She climbed the stairs and found herself standing in front of a row of identical doors. Curious, she tried to open the first one but it was locked. She tried each door but none of them would open. Finally, when she tried the second to last one it opened smoothly and she found herself in a spacious bedroom, which she assumed was hers.

The large bed had light green curtains drawn around it. There were two windows on one wall and one had a large window seat built in. There were two doors across the room from the windows. Hermione opened the first door and looked into a large closet. All of the clothes that she had packed into her trunk back at home were now neatly hanging in front of her. She closed the closet and opened the other door. She found herself staring into a large bathroom. She laughed when she realized the bathroom was probably bigger than her old flat she had been living in the past few months. The gleaming white tile stretched to a large golden bathtub with numerous knobs and spouts.

Suddenly, her stomach growled noisily. She realized she hadn’t eaten anything today because she had been too nervous. Now that she had arrived, she had begun to relax considerably and decided to head down to the Great Hall to find something to eat. Hermione sneaked a quick glance in the mirror and smoothed her hair before heading down to the common room.

As she walked down the stairs, her sandal got caught on a step and she tripped headfirst down the remaining stairs. Hermione landed face first on the rug. After lying motionless for a few moments, she groaned and managed to roll over and sit up. Slowly, she opened her eyes and stared at the ground. Everything was spinning and it appeared that she was seeing things as well, because it definitely looked like there was a pair of black shoes in front of her.

Hermione closed her eyes for a few moments, then reopened them. At least she could see clearly now, but the shoes hadn’t disappeared. Slowly she looked up and found herself staring into a pair of familiar gray eyes for the second time that day.

Draco was standing in front of Hermione with his arms crossed and his signature smirk plastered on his face. “Need a little help finding the circus Granger?”

“What are you doing here?” Hermione asked in a shocked voice as she carefully stood up. She still felt dizzy and as soon as she was standing upright, everything started to spin. Instinctively she grabbed the closest thing to keep from falling down again, which happened to be Draco’s shoulder. Immediately she pulled her hand away when she realized what she was doing. This just seemed to make Draco’s smirk increase.

“What, didn’t anyone tell you? I’m teaching here,” he said as if this were common knowledge. Draco was having the time of his life watching Hermione’s reaction.

“WHAT? But…you…why…” Draco was even more pleased to see that for once the know-it-all couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Pity, Granger. It looks like that fall wasn’t too good for your brain,”

“Oh shut up. I’m sure it still works better than yours!”

A slim witch with short, gray hair came in through the portrait hole. “I-I’m sorry for interrupting. I was just looking for Filius,” Madame Hooch said sounding rather embarrassed when she saw Hermione and Draco. Their faces were inches apart from each other and they were both scowling. If looks could kill, they’d both have been dead long ago. They quickly stepped apart when they realized Madame Hooch didn’t know that they had been fighting. Before either one could clarify the situation, Madame Hooch headed quickly out of the common room.

Hermione gave Draco one last especially evil glare before retrieving her sandal, shoving it on her foot, and walking angrily out of the room. Draco stood rooted to the floor watching her storm away.


Chapter 4: Chapter 4
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Hermione spent the following day cleaning her new classroom. Since the castle hadn’t been in use for over a year, everything needed a good dusting. The last professor that had taught Muggle Studies had an odd sense of taste. The entire room was full of Muggle artifacts, which was understandable. The strange part was her obvious fascination with road signs. The walls of the class were covered in stolen stop signs, railroad signs, and Hermione’s personal favorite, a sign from a road near a high security prison that read “Please do not pick up hitchhikers.” She decided to leave the decorations on the wall until she found something more educational.

Even though she used her wand, getting everything spotless was still a dirty job. By the time her classroom was clean, she was filthy. Her jeans were covered in dust and dirt. A mysterious substance she found in one of the desk drawers had somehow gotten all over her t-shirt. After disposing of some particularly nasty Doxies, Hermione was more than ready for some supper.

On her way to the Great Hall she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass of a portrait and couldn’t help but grin. Her hair was coming out of its ponytail, her face had smudges of dirt all over it, and her clothes were disgusting. She shrugged and kept walking. It wasn’t like there was anyone here to impress.

It was later than Hermione had realized and all the teachers were through eating. The Great Hall was eerily silent and her footsteps echoed on the stone floor. She made her way past the empty house tables, up to the teachers’ table and was surprised to see two place settings at one end of the long table. She wondered why there was an extra plate, but was too hungry to waste time worrying about it. Probably the house elves had accidentally sent up one plate too many.

Not more than a minute after the food appeared on the table, Hermione heard the doors of the hall open. She glanced up and was annoyed to see none other than Draco Malfoy, wearing a very clean black shirt and black pants. She glanced down at her filthy clothes, but there was no time to perform a charm to clean them without him noticing. He lazily walked up to Hermione and looked down at the empty plate across from her.

“How sweet Granger, you saved me a seat,” he said with a smirk as he sat down and began to pile food onto his plate.

She could feel him silently inspecting her clothes, his keen eyes not missing a single smear of dirt. He smirked again as he said, “What’ve you been doing all day, rolling around in a mud puddle?”

She rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, what else would you expect? It’s a newfound hobby of mine,” she finished sarcastically. Hermione looked at Malfoy suspiciously. Usually this would have been the perfect time to call her a filthy mudblood, but for some reason he hadn’t. In fact, she hadn’t heard him use his old insult at all since they had met yesterday.

“You know, we’re going to be working together, you could at least try to be civil towards me Malfoy. After all, we aren’t children anymore,” Hermione said icily.

“Oh yes, and you’ve been simply charming towards me ever since our first encounter yesterday morning,” Draco said sarcastically. “Fine. Let’s see, how’s that boyfriend of yours doing?” he said in a falsely innocent voice.

Hermione glared at Draco. She looked like she was about to burst any moment. Draco sneered when he realized he had hit a nerve. “For the last time, Ron. Is. Not. My. Boyfriend,” Hermione said in a dangerously calm voice.

Draco shrugged and said nonchalantly, “Alright, alright, don’t get so defensive. So how’re Harry and Ginny?”

“They’re fine,” Hermione answered shortly, giving him a suspicious look. “Their wedding is in June.”

“Yeah, I know,”

“You do?”

“Uh, yeah, actually, I’m in it,” Draco said uncertainly. He figured Hermione would already have known this.

“WHAT? You’re joking right? Why is it that no one tells me anything anymore?” she exclaimed furiously.

“It sounds like there’s a lot that your friends forgot to tell you,” Draco said calmly.

Hermione shot him a dark look. “And what exactly is that supposed to mean?” she asked.

Draco looked very pleased. It wasn’t often that he knew something Hermione didn’t, and he wasn’t about to ruin it. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to figure it out, won’t you Granger?” he said smugly.

“Listen Malfoy, I don’t know what you’re getting at, but don’t think I’ve ever trusted you for even a minute. Maybe no one can see through your little act, but I can. Don’t even try to fool me. I don’t care if you’re in Harry’s wedding, maybe he’s forgotten all those years at Hogwarts, but don’t think for a minute that I have,” she said coldly as she stared at him.

He stared right back at her, refusing to look away. He seemed to be enjoying this conversation immensely. “Well maybe you should make sure you’ve got the whole story before you go around blaming people for things they didn’t do. Unless you want to turn out like Rita Skeeter, that is,” Draco replied with a glimmer of hatred in his eyes.

“You say I don’t know the whole story? Well you’re wrong. I’ll even tell it to you. Draco Malfoy is a liar. The end,” she retorted.

“Great story Granger, tell another!” he said sarcastically. “Here’s my story. Once upon a time there was a girl that thought she knew everything. But she let her hatred blind her and missed the most important bit of information. True, Malfoys are cruel, coldhearted, and power-hungry, but…” he paused here for emphasis and leaned in closer towards her, “They never lie…” he whispered.

Hermione silently glared at him.

“So let me warn you for the last time. Get your facts straight before you make a fool of yourself. The end,” he finished.

“I don’t need your advice Malfoy,” Hermione said, trying to sound unfazed, when in reality she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Something about his tone of voice was unsettling. But it wasn’t just his voice, it was the way he was staring at her. And why couldn’t she draw her eyes away from his? She felt like she was drowning in them, spinning and swirling, enveloped in mist and things hidden from everyone. His little charade he had put on the last year for the Order might have fooled some people, but she couldn’t erase all of the memories of their arguments from her mind.

“Good, because that’s the last time you’ll hear it,” he replied. Draco was careful to keep his face expressionless. He had no idea why he was wasting his time trying to change Granger’s mind. It was basically as pointless as trying to teach a rock to dance. (Without using magic.) If she wanted to believe that he was a Death Eater, that was her problem.

Hermione abruptly strode out of the hall. She headed up to her room and firmly closed the door. Damn, it was going to be a long year.


Chapter 5: Chapter 5
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Hermione lay in bed that night thinking about the strange conversation she and Malfoy had shared over dinner. For one thing, he had sounded halfway serious. There hadn’t been the slightest trace of a sneer on his face once they stopped insulting each other and began to really talk. His face was one that made her want to trust him, to believe. But she couldn’t bring herself to. It was Malfoy, after all. She was so confused. What was going on? Her head was spinning and she couldn’t slow it down, and thinking only made it worse. She sighed and climbed out of bed. There was no way she could sleep now; she had way too much on her mind.

“Lumos,” she muttered as she grabbed her wand off the nightstand and searched for her robe. Finally she spotted the pale blue satin robe on the back of a chair where she had carelessly tossed it earlier. She threw it on and headed down to the common room. Luckily Hermione found it deserted at this late hour. She curled up in a comfortable red armchair near a window and stared out into the inky blackness. It was a clear night and the stars were twinkling merrily. For some reason she felt the sudden urge to go outside.

She toyed with this idea for a few moments, before resolutely climbing out of the portrait hole. After all, Voldemort was gone and Hogwarts was under so many spells and charms that she would be perfectly safe. Besides, she was an Auror for goodness sake. She was perfectly capable of looking after herself, even if some people, (like Ron) didn’t believe so.

Navigating her way through the dark halls was no problem since she, Harry, and Ron had snuck around in the dark countless times in the past years. She smiled as she remembered her friends and the trouble they always seemed to find. Hermione opened the doors and stepped out into the cool night air. The stars looked even brighter than they did from inside the castle. She walked away from the door a bit and sat down in the damp grass. She sighed contentedly. Taking this job was the best thing she could have done for herself. Being an Auror was just so…stressful. And Ron, well, she didn’t even want to think about him. Lately, she always felt like breaking something when she thought about the red haired boy.

If only Malfoy weren’t here, then everything would be perfect. He seemed to make her stress level skyrocket whenever she saw him. Hermione knew quite a bit of magic, but she couldn’t think of any legal way to dispose of him, and she wasn’t about to break any rules, oh heavens no. She laughed out loud as she tried to imagine herself drowning Malfoy in the lake, or better yet, in Moaning Myrtle’s toilet. At least he would have Myrtle to keep him company, she thought with a smirk.

Draco had fallen asleep while reading in the window seat in his bedroom. He woke up with a start when the book slid off his lap and onto the floor with a loud clump. Yawning, he glanced out the window and looked up at the brilliant night sky.

What had ever possessed him to take this job anyway? If he had known Granger was here, he would have never come. Or would he? What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he get her out of his mind? This had happened to him before. He had numerous girls on his mind most days, but this was completely different. After all, this was Granger he was dealing with. They yelled at each other every chance they got and she obviously wasn’t interested in him. Frankly, Draco didn’t think she was good enough for him. No, he knew without a doubt she wasn’t good enough. And yet, here he was, thinking about her. This was weird, really weird. Maybe she had put a spell on him. He almost smiled at the thought of that, but remembered that Malfoys never smile, so he smirked instead.

He looked out his window again. Suddenly a small glimmer of light caught Draco’s eye. As he stared out into the black night, he could just barely make out a faint silhouette. He was immediately wide-awake. After months of being an Auror, he could tell when something fishy was up. Quickly he grabbed his wand, threw on his dark green bathrobe, and rushed out of his room. After all, this was the whole reason McGonagall had hired him, to keep an eye on things.

He made his way as quickly and quietly as possible through the dark castle. The cool night breeze hit his face as he opened the doors and hurried out into the damp grass. Good, whoever was out there hadn’t left yet, he could still see the light glowing from the tip of their wand.

Draco strode up to the person, who was sitting peacefully in the grass, arms wrapped around their knees. For some reason they didn’t appear half as menacing as they had a few moments ago. He stood silently behind them, wand steady, staring at their long, curly hair. It looked an awful lot like…

“Granger!”

“Malfoy!”

“What the bloody hell are you doing out here?” Draco yelled. “I was about to curse you! It isn’t safe out here all alone,” he said angrily.

“The last time I checked, I was perfectly capable of defending myself. You aren’t the only Auror here you know,” she said furiously. “And since when do you care what happens to me?” she added as she quickly stood up.

Why did he have to look so hot when he was angry? Trust Malfoy to be able to look good no matter what he was wearing, even if it was just an old bathrobe. A bathrobe that was a bit too short, she noticed with a smirk. Hermione felt her anger rising as she stared at him.

“You think I care what you do? Well you’re wrong. If I’d known that you were the only one I’d find out here I wouldn’t have wasted my time coming down,” Draco shot back coldly. Wow, that smirk on her face, it looked oddly familiar. If she had been any other girl, he would have been tempted to stay out here with her. Furious for even thinking like that, he spun around and stormed back towards the castle doors.

“Yeah, well you’re a pig Malfoy, a bloody pig. Why don’t you do the world a favor and go jump in the lake?” Hermione yelled after him in an angry voice.

“Well at least I’m not a good for nothing know-it-all like you!” Draco shot back. “Always sticking your bushy head into somebody else’s business!”

Hermione strode to catch up to him. “I always knew you were arrogant, but I hadn’t realized that you were blind as well. Because my hair is most certainly no longer bushy,” she shot back and flounced off towards the door.

Draco hurried to catch up with her and beat her to the door, slamming it in her face as he went inside. He smirked and headed back towards the common room as Hermione angrily yanked the heavy door open and followed after him.

“Didn’t your mother teach you that the gentleman should hold the door open for the lady?” she asked angrily.

Draco stopped walking and turned around to sneer at her. “Yes, but I don’t see any ladies here,” he said and continued on down the hall.

Hermione stood in the hallway, silently fuming as she watched Draco disappear around a corner. It annoyed her that she couldn’t keep her cool around him. After all, she was twenty now. Surely they should be able to put the past behind them. Everyone else had certainly accepted him, everyone except herself. There it was again, the fact that everyone else trusted him. It just didn’t make sense. Could Draco be right after all? Was there something about him that her friends hadn’t told her?

Another part of the problem was the fact that she had become leery of putting her trust in men ever since Ron had called off the engagement. She wasn’t sure if she could handle another broken heart. Although, surprisingly enough, she had been thinking less and less about Ron with every passing hour. It just wasn’t worth the trouble to stay mad at him when she needed every ounce of anger to direct towards Malfoy. Nevertheless, Hermione just couldn’t ignore the little voice in the back of her head telling her that Draco Malfoy was not to be trusted.


Chapter 6: Chapter 6
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It was Saturday evening and George was in the flat above the joke shop, sitting at the kitchen table that was covered in mounds of parchment. The dancing hearts were beginning to make his head spin. He looked up as Fred came up from the store, which he had been closing for the night.

“How’s it coming?” Fred asked warily.

George just glared. “Remember the time we blew up the garden shed while Percy was in it and Mum took away our brooms for the entire summer?”

“Yeah,” Fred said with a chuckle.

“Times that by ten,” George sighed. “Yeah, well, I’ve got them all sorted, guys over here and girls in this stack,” George continued as he pointed to the two separate piles.

“That’s a start,” Fred said brightly. “I figure we should sort put all the Hogwarts students in a pile,” he suggested.

George nodded in agreement and with a wave of his wand the applications rearranged themselves. Much to George’s surprise, putting an advertisement in The Daily Prophet had shot For the Love of Pete’s membership sky-high, just as Fred had predicted. So high, in fact, that the twins were feeling rather overwhelmed by the sheer number of dates they had to arrange.

“Alright, here’s my idea. The Hogwarts kids start school Monday. We need to find out when the first Hogsmead weekend is so we can plan all the dates for that day,” George said in a businesslike manner.

“Yeah, well I doubt ole’ McGonagall is going to be to willing to offer us that information. I’ll never understand why she didn’t like us…” Fred joked.

“We don’t have to ask McGonagall anyway dummy. Just ask Hermione or Draco, after all, they’re bound to know being teachers and all.”

“Alright alright, you win. I’ll send Hermione an owl,” Fred said hastily as he dug around for a clean sheet of parchment and a quill.

“And for all her trouble, we should arrange her date first,” George said as his grin lit up his entire face. “I have the perfect match in mind!”

He rummaged around in the stacks of applications and finally found the one with Hermione’s name on it. After a few more minutes of sifting through the papers, he found the second paper he was looking for and clipped them together as he let out a rather malicious laugh.

Fred just rolled his eyes. “I’m staying out of this one and you’d better not come running to me when Hermione hexes you into the next century.”

Fred finished the note to Hermione and sent it off with Eule, their tawny brown owl, being careful to keep the letter short and sweet so it wouldn’t arouse Hermione’s suspicion. The twins spent the remainder of the evening arranging dates.

“Hmm…here’s one. He’s sixteen, likes playing Quidditch, keeper for Slytherin. Likes to…beat up first years in the hallway?” read George. “Who actually writes that? Must be a Malfoy,” he said grinning.

“Perfect. Put ‘im with this girl. She’s sixteen too, Hufflepuff, shy, never been snogged,” Fred read and snorted at the last bit as he clipped the two applications together.

“Brilliant,” exclaimed George sarcastically, feeling a bit sorry for the girl, but only for a moment. As the night wore on, the twins had begun to care less and less about who they paired together. All they really paid attention to were the ages.

“Free spirited witch, thirty-two, never been married. Enjoys painting and baking yellow cakes with chocolate frosting.”

“This guy could stand to loosen up a bit. He’s thirty-five, divorced twice but no kids, and works for the Department of Magical Transportation. Looking for a serious, goal oriented witch,” Fred said laughing.

“Hey, didn’t you fill one out for Draco? We should find him a nice date,” Fred said awhile later. “Poor bloke, seemed a little down lately.”

“Don’t worry about Draco. I’ve got his date under control,” George answered casually, and quickly began reading the next application while at the same time masking a rather devilish look on his face. Fred was used to his brother’s suspicious behavior by now and decided it would be safer not to ask any question that he really didn’t want to know the answer to. Sometimes it was better not to know, especially when dealing with George Weasley.

The last time Fred could remember seeing his brother with that look on his face was when he ‘accidentally’ lit Marcus Flint’s (Slytherin Quidditch captain) hair on fire. This was during a second year Charms class while learning the Incendio spell. Of course, if George had known that Flint used large amounts of hairspray, he would never have done it. (Well… never mind.) Fred chuckled as he recalled Flint with a bonfire on top of his head. Lee Jordan even managed to roast a marshmallow over the flames before Professor Flitwick could douse the fire.

“Blimey, its Penelope Clearwater!” George exclaimed as he held up a particular application.

Fred looked up in utter surprise at his brother’s exclamation. “No. Way.”

“Oh yes.”

“You know what this means.”

“Percy is going down.”

The twins stared at each other for a few seconds, relishing the moment. Identical gleams of mischief lit up their eyes in the flickering candlelight. Poor Percy. So much for brotherly love. Penelope Clearwater had been Percy’s Hogwarts sweetheart, but for reasons unknown to the twins, they had broken up about a year ago. Percy absolutely refused to discuss the details with his family.

“Yeah! What’s it say?” Fred asked excitedly, breaking the spell of silence. The twins would never dream of passing up an opportunity to bug their perfect older brother.

“Ambitious witch, twenty-four years old. Head of the International Magical Office of Law,” read George.

“Awww…how cute. They even work together!” Fred said.

“Yeah, so they must spend a lot of time together. But they broke up a few months ago. I wonder why…” George trailed off.

“Wait a minute…” Suddenly it dawned on Fred. “Cause she’s his boss!” he shouted. “Remember awhile back when Percy was so angry about not getting promoted to head? Well, she’s the head of the department, so she must have gotten the job he wanted! Knowing him he couldn’t stand working for his girlfriend. You know how Percy is,” Fred said with a smirk.

“Poor Percy. Well, we’d better do him a favor and get them back together before they both work themselves to death with all of that paperwork,” George said in a sweetly sarcastic voice.

“After all, what are brothers for?” Fred said jokingly.

“You know Fred, I think we’re getting pretty darn good at this matchmaking thing!” George replied as they burst out laughing.

***

The brown owl flew in the open window of the library and landed on a teetering stack of books on a table hidden behind rows of shelves. The young witch sitting at the table was oblivious to the bird, so absorbed was she in her reading. Finally it let out an impatient hoot, and Hermione’s head jerked up in surprise. She quickly took the roll of parchment off of the owl’s outstretched leg and it flew back out the window into the fading afternoon sunlight.

She unfolded the parchment curiously and scanned the messy handwriting.

Hermione,
Hope Hogwarts isn’t too boring without us there to cause some trouble. If I were you, I’d check your seat before you sit down. (Just an idea. We’ve just released a new product and we think it will be quite popular.) Pass the word along to Draco if you get a chance. When’s the first Hogsmead weekend? We were thinking about coming down for a visit.
Gred and Forge

Hermione had no intention of warning Draco about anything, but she appreciated the advice. She pulled out a clean sheet of parchment and scribbled a quick reply before turning back to her book. Hermione had managed to avoid Malfoy ever since their late night encounter on Thursday. She had passed away the time in her classroom organizing things or in the library catching up on her reading. Frankly, she would have been perfectly happy if she never had to look at his disgustingly arrogant face ever again. She looked up from her book and stared off into space. Ok, so maybe she’d be sad if she never saw him again. After all, his face was rather…attractive. But only from a distance.

Luckily, just then Madame Pince reminded her that it was time for dinner, before Hermione had the chance to think any more about Draco. Hermione closed her book and followed the librarian down to the Great Hall. She didn’t want to risk another meal with Draco; but then again there would be other teachers there too. And besides, she couldn’t go around avoiding him all year long. Sooner or later they would have to learn to ignore each other.

Most of the other staff members had just sat down when Hermione and Madame Pince came in. Hermione purposely sat at the opposite end of the table as Draco. She concentrated on eating and listened halfheartedly to the other teachers talking.

“Oh I know! I simply adore Madame Malkin’s latest robe!”

“The mauve one?”

“The collar is a bit low cut for my taste though,”

“I agree. Scandalous…”

Down at the other end of the table, Draco snorted into his pumpkin juice. Hearing old ladies discuss popular fashions was high on his list of Extremely Annoying Dinner Conversations. He would much rather have been arguing with Granger instead. Seeing her angry face always made his life feel more worthwhile.

“…and so then I told him that there was no way I would pay three Galleons for such a small teapot, even if it could sing opera. Why in heavens name would I want to listen to my teakettle singing?”

Hermione felt her spoon slip out of her hand and plop into her soup bowl. This conversation was growing duller by the moment. And she had thought it was boring to listen to the teachers during class; this was ten times worse. The sad thing was everyone seemed to be enthralled by the conversation with exception of herself and Malfoy, who looked like he was about to explode.

Finally everyone had finished eating and Hermione was getting ready to escape to her room. Suddenly McGonagall directed a question at Hermione. “You’re certainly welcome to join us up in the common room Hermione. We always work on our knitting after dinner,” she said brightly.

“It’s an old tradition,” exclaimed Professor Binns.

“I’d”

“And it gives us a chance to catch up on all the gossip,” added Madame Hooch.

Gossip. If there was anything she couldn’t handle right now, it was more gossip. Hermione was willing to do about anything to get out of listening to gossip. Not to mention the fact that after all the elf clothing she had knitted during the duration of SPEW, she now hated knitting. The evening was getting progressively worse. She didn’t want to be rude by refusing the offer; but then again she didn’t know if she could handle an entire evening listening to the old ladies gossip. Dinner had been bad enough.

“Eh, well, I’d love to join you, except I’ve already got plans,” Hermione lied, trying not to sound like she was making it up as she went, which was in fact exactly what she was doing.

“Really? Not much goes on at Hogwarts. What are you doing?” Rolanda Hooch asked curiously. Hermione got the impression from the way all the teachers were staring at her that none of them believed her one single bit.

Draco, on the other hand, was enjoying this immensely. He leaned back in his chair as a smirk flashed on his face. He amusedly watched Hermione’s discomfort increase. To be honest, he was relieved they hadn’t invited him to join them since he had no desire to die of boredom.

Uncomfortably, Hermione shifted in her seat and blurted out the first thing that popped into her head. “Malfoy, that is, uh, Draco and I were going to go, ah…go look for the giant squid,” she finished in a rush. “You know, see if we could spot her,” Hermione added halfheartedly. AHHHHH! Why hadn’t she simply said she had some letters to write?!? Go read a book. Work on lesson plans. Take a bath. Sit in her room and sing lullabies. Something, anything that didn’t involve Malfoy. But no, she was horrible at lying.

Draco let the front legs of his chair crash to the floor in shock. What the bloody hell was Granger babbling about? And just when he had thought the evening couldn't get any worse. He didn't even have a chance to deny that he, Draco Malfoy, had agreed to spend the evening alone with Granger.

“Ohhh, so that’s what it’s called these days,” Pomona Pomfrey said with a knowing smile. “Well, don’t let us delay you two,” she said and laughed.

The other teachers chuckled and smiled as Hermione’s face turned beet red. Draco kept his face cold and expressionless. Glaring at each other, the two had no choice but to leave, since all the teachers were watching them with amused expressions. Draco strode ahead of her as they made a beeline for the door. Hermione could hear the teachers back at the table chuckling.

“What the hell were you thinking Granger?” Malfoy exclaimed as soon as they were out of the Great Hall. “Sorry, but I’m gonna go look for the giant squid with Draco,” he said in a mocking voice. “Great excuse Granger, just brilliant. You’re an amazing liar. An amazingly BAD liar!” he finished loudly.

“Listen Malfoy, I said the first thing I could think of. Trust me, I’d rather Peeves come pound me with Dungbombs than spend my evening with you,” she retorted icily. Fuming, Hermione spun on her heel and headed towards the staircase.

He figured that as long as she was already in a rotten mood, he might as well take advantage of it. Draco had never been one to pass up opportunities. “You can’t go to the common room you know,” Draco called out lazily.

“Don't even try to tell me what I can do Malfoy,” she retorted.

He leaned calmly against a pillar and crossed his arms. “Well then I’d brace yourself for a night of old ladies’ gossip. You know though, you’d probably fit right in with the lot of ‘em,” he said in a teasing tone of voice. “You can tell them about all the charms you know of to keep their hair from turning gray,” he added.

Before Hermione could think of an insult mean enough to hurl back at him, the rest of the teachers came out of the Great Hall.

“I thought you were going outside,” Pomona said, surprised to find the two still in the hallway.

“You can still join us if you’ve changed your mind Hermione,” McGonagall offered kindly.

“We were just heading out actually,” Draco interrupted in a smooth voice. “Miss Granger wanted to get her sweater and I was assuring her that it is still quite warm out.”

Hermione stood awkwardly on the stairs as everyone stared at her, waiting for her to do something. Finally she gave up and retreated down the stairs, shooting Draco a look that would have frozen Voldemort in his tracks.

“Have a nice evening ladies,” Draco said as he wrapped his arm around Hermione’s waist and headed towards the door, the older teachers smiling after them.

“Don’t worry about us. Just make sure you two don’t have too good of a time out there,” Madame Pince said with a disapproving sniff.

Draco smiled; knowing it would infuriate Hermione even further. Then he calmly opened the door and held it open for her. “Ladies first,” he whispered with a smirk.

As soon as they were outside out of sight of the teachers, Hermione exploded. “I always knew you were a stupid git, but now I’m beginning to wonder if you’re just completely off your rocker! Honestly, who acts like that? Now they think we came out here to…” she trailed off in embarrassment as she felt her face flush.

“What was that Granger? I missed that last bit. Oh, did you say that we should take Madame Pomfrey’s advice?” Draco egged her on a bit more. Boy was he enjoying this!

“Oh shut up. Just shut up! And while you’re at it, why don’t you go climb the Whomping Willow,” Hermione shouted and stormed off towards the lake.

“Honestly, can’t you take a joke?” he yelled after her. “You don’t always have to be so serious!”

This was getting ridiculous. He wasn’t about to waste any more of his evening chasing after Granger. Not that there was really anything more interesting going on at the castle. He was stuck here with a bunch of old ladies and a few other professors that had died of boredom but had nothing better to do even in the afterlife, so they just kept right on teaching. To make matters worse, tomorrow hundreds of annoying kids would be arriving and Draco would have to put up with the lot of them for the next nine months. A fantastic start to a horribly long year.


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