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Silver and Scarlet by Anticlownperson

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 7,779
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language

Genres: Romance, AU
Characters: Draco, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Tonks, M. McGonagall
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 12/14/2005
Last Chapter: 01/24/2006
Last Updated: 01/24/2006

This is a seventh year fic. I'm ignoring HBP, so this is AU. Draco and Hermione become Heads, having to share a common room and patrol the corridors together. This sounds cliche, I know, but it's realy not. This is more of a friendship story, not a romance. Please review!

Chapter 1: Different?
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Disclaimer: Sadly, the only part of this that I own is the plot. I'm just borrowing Jo Rowling's characters and places and playing wiht them for a bit. She's the true genius behind everything here!

A/N: I realise that this chapter is pretty short, but this is just the first chapter and I wanted to get feedback before I posted longer chapters. This is only my second story, so please review and tell me what you think of my writing! And now, our feature presentation!

Chapter One: Different?

Hermione was standing on Platform 93/4, staring at the train that would take her to Hogwarts for her seventh and final year at school, and she was looking forward to it being her best year. She had been made Head Girl, of course, and her shiny new badge was pinned to the strap on her bag so she wouldn’t lose it.

Hermione sighed happily. She had seen Ron and Harry briefly before she got onto the Platform, and they had agreed that they would save her a seat on the train in their compartment. Hermione got on the train and worked her way up to the front where the Heads special compartment was. She didn’t know who the new Head Boy was, but he wasn’t there yet.

She stowed her trunk in the rack above her seat and sat down sideways on her seat with her back to the window. She watched the other students boarding the train and thought about all the things she wanted to do during her last year.

Draco lugged his trunk down the corridor on the train. This was one of the few problems with being Head Boy. It had been the same when he was a Prefect. Because he had a different compartment than the rest of his cronies, he had to haul this stupid trunk for himself. It wasn’t hard, he just hated doing it.

He reached his compartment and slid the door open. There was a girl sitting there already, but she didn’t seem to have noticed him yet. Draco lifted his trunk up onto the rack, but still the girl didn’t seem to have heard. Draco wondered who she was. There was something very familiar about her, but he couldn’t place what it was. Her back was to him and he couldn’t see her face.

Whoever she is, Draco thought. She’s quite pretty...He looked at her for a moment longer, trying to think why she seemed so familiar. Then it hit him. He suddenly recognized the curly brown hair. And just as suddenly, Draco realized what he had just thought. Oh damn! Draco, you idiot, you just called Hermione Granger pretty!

Just then, Hermione looked around, seeming to realise, finally, that there was someone else in the compartment with her. Her eyes narrowed when she saw who it was. “You.” She hissed, standing up. “You’re Head Boy.” It wasn’t a question; she knew it when she saw the badge pinned on his chest. Draco smirked. “Oh very good, Granger,” he said, as though bored with this conversation already. “Yes, I’m Head Boy.” Hermione rolled her eyes at him and sighed in frustration. “I’m not going to deal with you right now, Malfoy.” She said. Oh, of all the people to be stuck sharing a common room with! Hermione thought angrily. She reached up into her bag and pulled out a book. Sitting down on the seat like she had before, Hermione started reading, still alert in case Draco tried anything.

Draco closed the compartment door again; he didn’t want Pansy coming to look for him. That he would see her when they reached school was bad enough, he didn’t need to deal with her right now, not when there was already so much on his mind. He sat down on the seat opposite Hermione. Something’s different with her, Draco thought absently. But what? True, her hair wasn’t the bush mess that it had been; now it was shiny and smooth, no longer frizzing out in all directions. But there was something else, too.

He looked closer at Hermione. She had gotten a nice tan over the summer, almost matching Draco himself, who had devoted a large amount of time to Quidditch over the summer holidays. This was, after all, his last chance to beat Potter and Weasley at the Quidditch Cup. Looking at Hermione again, he saw that she was wearing different clothes than she usually did. They were more fitted and stylish than what she had worn the last time her saw her. Actually, Draco thought, somewhat amusedly, she wasn’t all that bad to look at. Maybe he just hadn’t looked at her properly before. Or did the absence of her little boyfriends have something to do with it?

Draco had paid closer attention to Hermione ever since she had hit him in their third year. Something about her nerve had interested him. He knew that she wasn’t a soft, weak bookworm. She had proved that by hitting him. True, she had been almost insanely angry at the time, but that had just intrigued Draco even more. Not many girls would have the daring to hit a Malfoy, much less the son of Lucius Malfoy. But she had.

In classes, Draco and Hermione were almost equal, Draco was second nearly all of the time, and Hermione rarely had a lead of more than a few points. Draco knew she was a stubborn as he was, maybe even more, and she was just as determined. In fact, many of the things that his father had taught him were common among Muggleborns, Draco had found to be untrue in Hermione Granger. His father had said that they were weaker in magic, without it flowing through their blood the way that purebloods did. He had also said that most of them didn’t see the finer points of magic, or many of its more delicate uses, having grown up thinking that magic was just lights and bangs and funny words.

Draco had believed all of this when his father had first told him, but that had been before he had met Granger. She had broken all of the rules that Draco’s father had insisted upon. Even though Draco wouldn’t admit it to himself, he sort of liked the idea of sharing a common room with only her. He wanted to know more about her; outwardly, he still hated and despised her, but on the inside, Draco had begun to question why he had hated her to begin with.

Chapter 2: Thoughts and Realisations
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Disclaimer: You all know what this says, so do I even need to bother saying it? It's all Jo Rowling's!

A/N: A bit of a longer chapter for you all. I hope Draco and Hermione are both in character, I tried to keep them pretty close. Please read and review and tell me what you think so far! Thanks to the people who have already commented on this story, you guys rock.

Chapter Two: Thoughts and Realisations

Hermione wasn’t going to pretend that she wasn’t interested by the boy across from her. For a long time, she had been impressed by the fact that he was nearly as good as she was in nearly every class. Even his Defense Against the Dark Arts marks were good; he was definitely the best Slytherin at the subject.

In fact, Hermione thought that a lot of Draco’s image was because he was the son of Lucius Malfoy. Everyone expected him to be an egotistical pureblood maniac, and so he was. But from what Harry had said about Lucius Malfoy, he treated his only son with distain, particularly because he was bested at every turn by Harry Potter, almost an equal to Draco in most respects, and by Hermione herself, a Muggleborn, a Mudblood. Add Ron, as a Weasley, and therefore despised by the Malfoy family, and Hermione thought it was no wonder that Draco’s father thought so little of him.

Hermione glanced at him over her book. He was actually quite tall, and while he was thin, Hermione could tell that he was fairly muscled because of playing Quidditch. He had let his hair grow longer so that it fell into his eyes a bit, and she couldn’t be sure which way he was looking unless he looked right at her. He seemed completely at ease, sitting across from her, reclining back in his seat with his feet propped up on the seat next to her.

As she looked closer, Hermione realised that Draco was wearing a very different expression than the one he usually wore in her presence. He seemed rather lost in thought, and there was no trace of his trademark smirk on his face at all. He almost looks human, Hermione thought. She looked at him for a moment longer. Suddenly his eyes met hers. She felt like she was looking into pools of molten silver. Hermione looked away slowly, trying to seem as though she hadn’t been staring at Draco.

As Hermione looked down at her book again, she realised that she had seem nothing of the usual emotions that were in Draco’s eyes when he looked at her. There was no malice, no distain, no hatred, none of the things she was used to seeing. Now that she thought about it, they had been sitting in this same compartment together for half an hour, and not one had Draco said anything about her or her friends. No remarks about Harry, nothing about Ron or the Weasleys, he hadn’t even called her Mudblood. Just Granger, and he hadn’t even said that as harshly as he normally did. In fact, he had been about as civil as Hermione could before her brain kicked in and reminded her that this was Draco Malfoy she was talking about.

Draco had been staring blankly at the wall trying not to think about anything when he suddenly felt Hermione’s eyes on him. He looked at her; she held his gaze for a second before looking away. She actually has pretty nice eyes, Draco thought. They were a warm dark brown that reminded him of chocolate. And Draco just happened to love chocolate. He watched Hermione for a few minutes, both hoping and not hoping that she would look at him again. He didn’t want her to know that he was staring, but he wanted another look at her eyes. There was something about the way she had looked at him, a sort of feeling he’d never gotten before.

It wasn’t a bad feeling; it was actually sort of comforting. Draco had the strangest sense that if he had wanted to, and if she had let him, he could tell her anything and she wouldn’t tell anyone about it. And that just heightened his interest in her. Something was telling him that maybe this interest wasn’t such a bad thing after all. And oddly enough, just across from him, Hermione was thinking the same thing.

Finally, Hermione couldn’t take it any longer. She had to get away from Draco. She had felt him looking at her since his gaze had met hers nearly ten minutes ago. And it was getting hard not to look up again and meet his eyes. But that was only part of what was bothering her. It was also that he was being civil to her, and she could not now begin to think of anything else, especially not with his eyes on her.

Suddenly Hermione stood up and walked to the door, careful not to look at Draco. Once she was in the corridor, she closed her eyes and leaned against the wall for a moment before setting off down the train to look for Ron and Harry.

Draco sat by himself in the Heads compartment. Hermione had suddenly stood and walked out, purposely looking away from him. Draco sighed, thinking about how different it was, sitting here with her versus sitting with his fellow Slytherins. Somehow he was more comfortable sitting with a girl he was supposed to hate.

Maybe it was because he could do whatever he wanted; she wouldn’t get mad if he didn’t act like King of the World. She might be suspicious and confused, but he wouldn’t lose her respect, assuming she even had any for him. He didn’t need to worry about upholding his reputation in her eyes, since it was clear that her opinion of him was far less than flattering. The Slytherins were always asking annoying questions or trying to be his best friend so that he would invite them to Malfoy Manor over the holidays.

Draco frowned. He had only just realised that he had been sitting in the same compartment as one of the Golden Trio, and he hadn’t said a single insulting thing to her. He hadn’t even thought about it. All he had noticed was how she looked and the way she acted. Other than that first remark, he hadn’t said a single word.

Draco smiled suddenly as a thought struck him. Pansy would be furious; she didn’t know that the Heads had to share a common room. She would be expecting him to return to the Slytherin Common Room after dinner. Yes, there were definite advantages to being head Boy. No Pansy, and instead, he got Hermione who seemed in no hurry to get in his way. Yes, things might turn out quite well after all.

Hermione found Harry and Ron in a compartment halfway down the train. They looked up and grinned when she opened the door to their compartment. “Hey Hermione,” Ron said. “Who’s Head Boy?” Hermione grimaced. She had been trying to avoid thinking about the blonde Slytherin boy. “Malfoy,” she said, frowning. She had suddenly been unable to say his name with the same hatred and loathing that she was used to. Instead, the word had come out expressionless and flat.

“Malfoy?” Ron’s eyes were popping slightly. “Malfoy?!” Hermione sighed. “Yes, Ron,” she said tiredly. “But that’s not all. I have to share a common room with him, too.” Both Harry and Ron looked aghast. “No way,” Harry muttered, almost to himself. “No way, there’s got to be a mistake. They can’t force you to do that!” Ron nodded in agreement. “Everyone knows how he is to you. He’s probably planning something right now...” He made a face. “Augh, Malfoy, Head Boy. Sick...” he trailed off, pretending to be puking violently.

Just then, Ginny walked into the compartment. “Hey, guys, Hermione!” she said brightly. Then noticing their expressions, she frowned and asked, “What’s up?” Hermione made a face and told her about Malfoy. Ginny looked horrified. “Oh no,” she said, looking as though she might be sick. “Oh no, they can’t do that to you!” Hermione shook her head. “I don’t know, but it’s too late to do anything about it now.” She checked her watch. “I’d better get back to my compartment. My letter said the Professor McGonagall wanted to talk to us at noon.” She stood up and walked to the door. Ron called after her, “If he does anything to you, we’ll beat him to a bloody pulp!”

Hermione walked slowly back up the corridor to the Heads compartment. She was confused. She didn’t want to go back where Draco was, and yet, she was so intrigued by him. Something about him had changed, and she wanted to know what it was, and why.

Finally, Hermione got back to her compartment. Draco was sitting just as he had been when she left. Hermione could have sworn he was looking at the same spot on the wall, too. As she closed the door, however, he turned his head slightly so that he was almost looking at her. Suddenly Professor McGonagall appeared in the doorway. Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione saw Draco sit up straighter and turn his attention away from the wall just beyond Hermione and look at McGonagall. “Congratulation to the both of you,” she began. “Your duties as Head Boy and Girl were explained to you in your letter, so I’m only here to answer any questions you might have. Also, I must explain about your living space this year.” She took a breath and continued.

“You will be sharing a dorm for the rest of the year. You will each have your own bedroom and bathroom, but you will have to share a common room. Also, you will patrol the corridors together each night.” McGonagall looked at Hermione and Draco. “Well, if there are no questions, then that is all I have to say.” She turned and walked out the door, closing it behind her. Hermione looked at Draco, expecting to see revulsion and disgust on his face, but instead, she saw curiosity and something else that she couldn’t name. She turned away from him and sat sown again, staring out the window. Across from her, Draco slid back down in his seat and put his feet up again. He was much more comfortable this way, and Draco knew that, with the number of thoughts running around his head, he might not be moving anytime soon.

First off, there was the concept of having to share a dorm with Hermione. He was actually slightly shocked that he had felt no trace of his usual emotions regarding the girl. In fact, if he was going to be honest with himself, he was almost looking forward to it. He thought that it might not be too bad, and it would make a nice change from the Slytherins. And he was curious. He had watched her, sometimes out of the corner of his eye in classes, or from across the Great Hall at mealtimes. Once or twice he had watched her in the library under the pretense of looking through books for class. Something about her had slowly been making him more and more curious about her, even if he hadn’t realised it until recently. He wanted to know more about her, and he was finding that the more he tried to ignore it, the harder it was to stop watching her.

Hermione was watching Draco’s reflection in the window, wondering what he was thinking about. She wondered briefly whether he was plotting against her, but a second look proved that wrong. He looked too thoughtful and wrapped up in his mind to be planning anything. That’s a good look for him, Hermione mused. He’s actually good-looking when he’s like this... Hermione realised what she had just thought. But it was true, wasn’t it? Perhaps this year wouldn’t be as bad as she had thought it might be.

A/N: Next chapter: Hermione and Draco have little appetite, we get a look at the Heads dorm, more confusion from both parties, and Draco becomes suddenly...polite? It's all coming soon!

Also, I'm thinking of including HBP in this, just because I thought of a really great thing I can do with the plot, but it would require the events in HBP to have happened. What do you guys think? I can't tell you what I want to do, incase I actually use it, but it would be really good. Let me know what you think!

Chapter 3: Politeness isn't Normal
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Disclaimer: It's not mine, I say!
A/N: I couldn't wait for this chapter. I hope you guys like this!
Also, I've decided to include HBP in this,b ecause of a character I want to introduce in the next chapter. Any necissary revision will be made to earlier chapters, but it won't change the story much at all.

Chapter Three - Politeness isn't Normal

Hermione met up with Ginny, Ron and Harry again in the Entrance Hall and they went into the feast together. They sat down at the Gryffindor table, Ron complaining about how hungry he was. The food appeared and they all piled their plates high. Hermione took less than the others did; she didn't really seem as hungry as she usually did at the start-of-term feast.

While Ron and Harry talked and joked loudly next to her while Ginny laughed, Hermione found her thoughts turning again to Draco. Once more she wondered why he had been acting so differently on the train. Why had he been alone, when every time she saw him he was surrounded by Slytherins? Why was he suddenly being civil toward her? She didn't know that across the hall, Draco was wondering the same things.

Now that he was away from Hermione and surrounded by laughing, talking Slytherins, Draco's thoughts were beginning to clear at least a little bit. It was easier to see why he had slightly preferred her company compared to this crude, malicious group. Turning back to his thoughts, Draco asked himself, why hadn't he insulted her? And when had he begun to think of her, not as Mudblood, or even as Granger, but as Hermione? When had he decided that he no longer cared much for the company of his fellow Slytherins?

Draco pushed his food around his plate with his fork. He didn't feel much like eating anymore. He looked aimlessly around the Great Hall, finally resting his gaze on the Golden Trio sitting at the Gryffindor table. Draco frowned. Suddenly, he didn't feel the rush of hatred that he always had in the past. The feeling he had always associated with Potty and the Weasel King. But now, now he felt only a vague annoyance; he didn't really care. For the first time, he wasn't think how best to anger them; instead, his gaze slid sideways to the girl beside them.

Draco noticed at once that Hermione seemed about as interested in her food as he was at the moment. She was staring off into space, frowning slightly. Something seemed t be bothering her, and Draco wandered what it was. Probably worried about her precious boyfriends, Draco thought. But no, that didn't seem right. She had been like this on the train as well, it wasn't anything new.
Hermione also seemed a little removed from her friends. She was sitting a little apart fro them and she wasn't taking any part in their conversation. Draco frowned. He was very curious now as to what Hermione was thinking about. He wondered if maybe it had something to so with how he had been acting on the train. She could hardly have missed the difference; after all, she had spent six years being tormented by him at every turn. But somehow, even the thought of such activities was unappealing for some reason. Draco no longer cared about insulting Hermione. In fact, if anything, he found he didn't want to.

Suddenly, across the Hall, Hermione's gaze turned to him. She wasn't staring blankly anymore; she was looking at him with an interesting combination of suspicion and curiosity. Draco realized that he was staring, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to look away. He could see that Hermione's curiosity was winning out over her suspicion as she continued to watch him. Finally, she looked away and Draco sighed. He felt light-headed and confused, and he wanted nothing more than to get away from the noise that surrounded him. He needed some time alone to sort out his thoughts. Draco stood up and walked out of the Great Hall, walking aimlessly around the corridors until he decided that he should probably go up to his new dorm. He hadn't realised how tired he was; Draco headed toward the entrance to his new home, wishing for nothing more than to simply get into bed and fall asleep where his thoughts couldn't bother him.

After the feast, Hermione went straight to her new home. Her letter had said that the entrance to her new home was a portrait on the fourth floor. She found the right painting, a portrait of a girl and boy seated on opposite ends of a table. Hermione gave them the password (bloated toad) and took her first step into her new home.

The room was larger than the Gryffindor common room, and it was decorated with a mixture of the Slytherin and Gryffindor House colors. There were two couches, one in dark green, the other a wine red. They sat on opposites sides of a large coffee table, and there was huge fireplace in the wall behind. There were also two armchairs on the other sides of the table, as well as a second, longer table on the far wall with four chairs. There were low bookshelves around the walls, full of books, both fiction and for studies. Thick carpets covered the floor and there was a rack on the back of the portrait to hang cloaks.

On the wall to Hermione's right was a pair of French doors that lead out to a balcony; she could see a view of the lake through the glass doors. On the other end of the room, the Hermione's left were two sets of stairs; the one on the left lead to a door with a golden lion knocker, the other lead to a second door with a silver snake.

Hermione walked over and opened the doors out onto the balcony. She stepped outside and sighed, breathing in the fresh night air. Then she walked over to the railing and looked out. She could see a good part of Hogwarts, including Gryffindor Tower, and she had a view of one end of the lake, with the trees in the Forbidden Forest swaying in the distance.

The portrait slammed shut again and Hermione looked around to see Draco standing by the door, taking in the sight of the common room. He nodded appreciatively and went to inspect the bookshelves along the back wall. Hermione stepped back into the common room, startling Draco, who hadn't realised she was there. He looked at her for a moment before turning back to the books. Hermione sighed and walked around him and up the stairs to her bedroom.

There was a note pinned to the inside of her door that read: "The key to your rooms is in a box on the desk. You may lock your rooms if you wish, the house elves will be able to get in to clean, but no one else will." Hermione closed the door and turned around to see her room, and gasped in delight.

The room was elegantly furnished all in scarlet and gold. There was a king-sized four-poster bed in the far corner piled high with blankets and pillows. She had her own fireplace with a screen to block out the light while still keeping her warm. Across the room from her bed was a roll-top desk

She walked over to a door in the wall, opening it to reveal a huge closet, already filled with her clothes and shoes. A door next to the closet led to her bathroom. There was a huge shower and a bathtub that looked bigger than the one in the prefect's bathroom. On the wall above the toilet were shelves full of fluffy red towels. Everything was trimmed in gold and the counter was made of a soft golden colored marble. On the counter by the sink were several large candles that smelled like spice and patchouli.

Hermione sighed happily and went back into her bedroom and flopped down onto her bed. There was a knock on her door. Hermione frowned slightly; it was probably Malfoy, wanting to say something horrible to her. Sure enough, his voice came from the other side of the door. "Hey, Granger, open up!"

She opened the door to find Draco standing there. "I just wanted to see what your room looked like," he said shrugging. Hermione arched one eyebrow. Malfoy was being polite? "They're probably the same, Malfoy," she said, leaning against the doorframe so he couldn't come in. "Yeah, but still, I wanted to see."

"Oh yes, Malfoy, because obviously my room couldn't possibly be as nice as yours, right?" she said sarcastically. "Actually, they're pretty close. Although I think my colors are better," Draco said. The corners of his mouth turned up a little. Hermione was slightly shocked. Malfoy was actually smiling, or very near to it. "Nice room, Granger." Draco said. Then he turned and went down the stairs to the common room.

Hermione sighed and followed him down. She came back down into the common room just as Draco walked through the door to the balcony. Hermione walked past him to the bookshelves, trying not to look at him. She grabbed a book and sat down on her couch to read. Her head was hurting, and she wanted something else to concentrate on.

Draco watched Hermione sit down with her book. The firelight was making her skin glow golden and her hair was shining. Draco shook his head. He couldn't start thinking that way. Without realizing it, he walked over to the window next to the fireplace. He looked out across the grounds for a moment. Then he closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the windowpane. His head ached and his thoughts had been replaced by an irritating buzz that wouldn't go away. Draco stood at the window for a few minutes more before opening his eyes again and walking away up the stairs to his bedroom.

Hermione looked up as Draco passed behind her, watching him go up the stairs and into his room. He had looked so different, standing in the shadows by the window. For a moment, Hermione couldn't think of the right word to describe the way he had seemed. They it hit her; he had looked lonely. He had been a silhouette against the window, the deep blue of the night sky showing where he was standing. He looked like a child who's crawled into a corner to hide, Hermione thought, startled.

Hermione yawned. It was past 10:30, and she had classes to go to the next morning. She sighed and put her book down on the coffee table before going up the stairs to her own room. She changed her clothes and crawled into bed and was soon fast asleep.

In the room next door, Draco had also changed his clothes and gotten into bed. But unlike Hermione, he didn't feel like sleeping. His head hurt still, but Draco knew it would be a long while before he finally drifted off to sleep. He lay in his bed for a long time, his mind blank and his eyes closed until at last sleep came to him.

The next morning, Hermione woke up early as usual. She liked to have some time to herself in the mornings while things were still quiet. Often she would read, or write in her diary. Other times, she just liked to sit and enjoy the early morning quiet, or the birdsong coming through the windows.

She got out of bed and walked into the bathroom to shower. As she stood under the hot water, Hermione thought that at least Draco wouldn't be bothering her right now. Somehow, he seemed like the kind of person who would wake later than her, and she suspected that he would take quite a while making sure he looked perfect. She snorted.

Sometimes, she thought Draco acted a bit like her old dorm-mates, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil. They would spend a ridiculously long time doing their hair and make up, and making sure they were wearing just the right outfits. Hermione had no patience with things like that. At Ginny's urging, she had finally started wearing a tiny bit of make up, not that it was very noticeable. Just a bit of mascara (because Ginny said it make her eyes stand out more) and a touch of clear lip-gloss (Ginny said it would draw attention to her perfect lips and would keep them from getting chapped as it got colder).

Hermione got out of the shower and wrapped a towel firmly around her. Then she went to her closet and grabbed a nice pair of dark jeans and a red-and-gold striped shirt. Then she pulled her school robes on, leaving them halfway open since it was a warm day. She put on her tiny bit of make up and brushed her hair gently so it didn't frizz, but hung in nice, shining curls down her back and around her face. Then she grabbed her book bag and headed down to the common room.

Draco had woken just after Hermione did. He rose immediately and headed to the bathroom to take a quick shower. Then he dressed in a pair of dark green corduroy pants and a black long-sleeved shirt and pulled his robes on over that. He didn't bother doing anything to his hair; these days he preferred to leave it however it happened to fall. Then he walked down to the common room where he's left his bag.

Hermione heard Draco on the stairs and stood up to leave. He appeared at the bottom of the stairs when she was halfway across the room. For some reason, he suddenly felt like he should say something to her. He shook his head mentally. "Morning, Granger." Hermione stopped and turned to look at him, surprised. Then her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"What did you say?"
"I said 'Morning, Granger.'"
"And what on Earth compelled you to say that? Last I checked you're not supposed to speak to me. Something about my being a "filthy Mudblood" seems to be ringing in my mind here..."
"What, a person can't be polite? Here I am, trying to be nice and you're getting angry at me!"
"I'm not angry. I'm irritated." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Look, what do you want?"
"I told you, I was just trying to be polite," Draco said. "So sorry."
Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes again. "Why don't you go bother someone else, Malfoy?" Then she turned and walked to the portrait, just barely glancing behind her before she stepped out into the corridor.

Draco slowly walked over to his couch and sat down, not looking at Hermione. Why was he being polite to her? He'd never said a pleasant thing to her the whole time he's known her, so why start now? He rubbed his eyes, feeling tired again. This was getting ridiculous. Why couldn't he just act like the plain old Draco Malfoy that he (and everyone else) knew? The worst thing was, he had a feeling it wasn't going to be going away anytime soon. Draco sighed resignedly and stood slowly. Then he grabbed his bag and headed down to breakfast.

As she walked, Hermione thought about Draco's odd behavior. As she had been leaving the common room, she had noticed that Draco was walking very slowly, almost cautiously. Like I was an animal. Like he was trying not to startle me or something. Hermione thought. She shook her head. No, that's not right. And why was he trying to be polite to me? I mean, me, of all people! He might as well do the thing properly and go around trying to hug Harry and inviting the Weasleys to join him for the holidays. She sighed. This wasn't her problem. She shook her head again to clear it. Then she walked into the Great Hall.

A/N: So, what do you guys think? I couldn't wait to describe the Heads dorm, I hope you like it. As always, please please please review!

Next Chapter: Irritating schedules, strange apologies, and a new teacher. Coming soon to a browser near you!

Chapter 4: A New Kind of Knowledge
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Disclaimer: You already know this...
A/N: This is my fourth chapter, which I'm posting anyway, even though I didn't get any reviews on my latest chapter. Please please please review! It means a lot to me!

I really like this chapter, so I hope you all enjoy it!

Chapter Four - A New Kind of Knowledge

Hermione sat down at the Gryffindor table and sat down across form Harry and Ron, only realising afterward that she now had a perfect, unobstructed view of the Slytherin table. Harry and Ron broke off their conversation and turned to her. “Did Malfoy try anything?” Ron asked, noting her confused and angry expression. Hermione had just seen Draco walk into the Great Hall, frowning briefly in her direction before sitting down on the opposite end of the Hall facing her.

“Hermione, you okay?” Harry asked. Hermione shook herself mentally, returning to the conversation. “Actually he’s been acting very oddly ever since yesterday.” She told them about Draco’s behavior on the train the day before. “And when I was leaving the common room, he said good morning to me.” Harry gave a low whistle. “Whoa....” Ron twisted in his seat to look over at Draco sitting alone at the Slytherin table. “Malfoy, not acting the high and mighty Prince of Slytherin? I almost can’t believe that.” Harry nodded in agreement.

Hermione just frowned, once more engrossed in her own thoughts. She didn’t know why Draco was suddenly so unlike the person she knew and despised, but she wanted to find out. Having plenty of experience with Hermione’s thoughtful reveries, Harry and Ron talked by themselves until Professor McGonagal came around passing out schedules.

Hermione was shaken out of her thoughts by a loud groan from Ron. “Double Potions, first thing!” he said, looking as though the mere thought was killing him. “At least we’ve still got Slughorn,” Harry said. “Not...well, someone else.” Almost involuntarily, Hermione looked over at the Slytherin table. Draco was looking down at his own schedule. Then he slowly looked up, seeming to scan the Gryffindor table until their eyes met. He looked quickly away and stuffed his schedule in his bag.

Hermione walked down the stone steps to the dungeon five minutes later. She never liked Potions at the best of times; the fumes and vapors made her hair frizz out. And once you added the Slytherins it was fair to say it was torture.

As she walked down the corridor with Harry and Ron, someone hurried past them, knocking into Ron in the process. “Oi, Malfoy!’ Ron said loudly. “Watch where you’re going!” Draco turned and looked at Ron. Hermione thought she saw his eyes move to her for a second before Draco looked at the ground and muttered, “Sorry,” before turning and continuing down the corridor to class.

Ron and Harry looked stunned. Finally Harry said in a low voice, “That really happened, right? I mean, Malfoy, Draco Malfoy just apologized to someone. To Ron!” Ron looked equally amazed and nodded slowly. “Yeah, that really happened. Or else we’re both hallucinating pretty badly.” Hermione just shook her head and looked at the classroom into which Draco had just vanished. “What is wrong with him?” she asked. “I mean, first he says good morning, now he says sorry to Ron...What’s gotten into him?” Harry and Ron just shook their heads, baffled.

When they entered the classroom, Hermione sat down between Harry and Ron as usual. As they took out their cauldrons, Hermione glanced over at the table where the Slytherins were sitting. The other three Slytherins were talking and laughing with each other, but Draco was just sitting there, looking as though he wasn’t paying an attention to his surroundings.

Hermione sighed. She had noticed last night at dinner the number of places that were empty, places that should have been filled. She knew that a lot of parents had chosen not to let their children return to Hogwarts, now that Dumbledore was gone. Almost a third of the school was gone, and even at breakfast, she had seen that some had left already.

Slytherin House in particular was diminished; almost half of the table was empty, and they moved about in packs, now that they had gone from the despised House to blatant enemies in so many of the student’s eyes. Hermione wondered again why Draco had come back. Nearly everyone knew that he had played some part in things on the night Dumbledore was killed, even if they didn’t know what. Even his fellow Slytherins seemed leery of being near him for fear of being thought sympathetic to him.

Hermione looked back at her own table just as Ernie Macmillan entered the class and sat down opposite her. Ron turned to her suddenly, a slight grin lighting his face. “Hey, Hermione,” he said, “I forgot to ask, what’s your common room like?” Harry looked around with interest. “Yeah, tell us!” he echoed. Hermione smiled. “Oh alright,” and she told them all about the wonderful room, putting particular emphasis on how nice the red and gold was. She really didn’t want either of the boys to know that she rather liked how the green and silver looked as well.

The rest of the lesson passed normally enough. Slughorn talked to them about their NEWTs and quizzed them on the things they had learned in the last six years. He seemed somewhat subdued, but he still greeted Harry with enthusiasm.

When the bell rang, signaling the end of class, Hermione left the dungeon and headed back up to the common room. She had a free period, as did most of the class, other than the few who were still taking Divination, such as Lavender and Parvati. Harry and Ron left together to go outside for a while, talking animatedly about Quidditch.

Hermione took her free hour to straighten her room and finish unpacking some of the things she had left the night before. Then she went down to the kitchens to visit Dobby. Then she went back upstairs to Defense Against the Dark Arts. She met up with Harry and Ron outside the classroom; Hermione laughed, they were still discussing Quidditch.

They took their usual seats near the center of the room. The boys had always wanted to sit in the back of the room (“Aww, c’mon Hermione! We can learn just as much back there as we can in the front!”) But she had insisted that the only reason they wanted to sit in the back was so the teacher couldn’t see them as well. So they compromised and sat in the middle, close enough to the front for Hermione to feel comfortable, and far enough back that the boys felt they could get away with their various pranks.

The room was filling up around them, people were talking and taking out their books. “You know,” Harry mused. “We still don’t know who’s teaching this class this year.” There had been an empty seat at the staff table the night before at dinner, and it had still been empty at breakfast that morning. “I hope we get someone good!” Hermione said, looking toward the door. Just then, it swung open and a woman with short, spikey, bright pink hair walked into the classroom. Ron, Harry and Hermione all gasped at each other. “Tonks?”

Hermione scanned the room quickly. Lavender and Parvati were whispering together. Hermione caught the words “dreadful shade” and “horribly boyish”. Dean and Seamus didn’t seem to have a problem with Tonks’ hair; they were eyeing her with interest. Hermione looked at Neville, who grinned and mouthed “Great!”

Tonks was standing at the front of the room, leaning casually on her desk and smiling at the class. “I know some of you already know who I am,” she began, winking at Hermione, Ron, Harry, and Neville. “But for those who don’t, my name is Nymphadora Tonks. You don’t have to call me Professor, but if I ever hear you use my first name, I’ll hex you.” She smiled to show that she was joking and then sat down at her desk.

“Now, this is your last year of study at this school. This is also the year you take your NEWTs. This will be your hardest year yet. Remember your fifth year?” Several people winced. Tonks smiled. “Well this is going to be even worse.” Neville raised his hand. “What are we going to be learning this year?” has asked quietly. Hermione sat up straighter. She had wondered about this class since the end of the previous year. Certainly the events of the wizarding world would have an effect of their learning?

Tonks stood and walked over to the board beside her desk. “A good question.” She took out her wand and tapped the board, which began to write down what she said. “There will be some review of everything you’ve done over the last six years, but we’ll also be working with some more advanced and dangerous things. And we’ll be doing something that’s never been done before.”

The class was suddenly very still; all eyes were on Tonks. She had suddenly gone very serious. “We’ll be studying the history of Dark wizards, most importantly, the Death Eaters and You-Know-Who’s first rise to power.” The class was silent. No one had guessed they would be learning anything like this. Some sat still, while other fidgeted nervously. “No wonder we gat an Auror,” Harry said in a low voice to Hermione and Ron. “Who better to tell us about the evilest man in history?”

Neville turned around in his seat to look back at them. “Yeah,” he said. “She might be young, but she already knows all about it, she’s already fought Death Eaters at least twice.” He smiled a bit, but it was a sad sort of smile. “We’ll need this.” He said, and turned back to the front. Hermione stared at her desk in silence. She was glad that they had Tonks there; she was bound to be an excellent teacher. But Neville’s words were ringing in her ears. We’ll need this... Hermione thought. I just wish we didn’t.

Tonks spoke again, tearing Hermione out of her thoughts. “As Mr Potter and Mr Longbottom have said, I am a Ministry-trained Auror, Third-Class. This is why I was asked to teach here this year. I know the history of the Dark Arts front to back. I’ve fought Dark wizards. I was there that night more than two months ago.” The class looked at Tonks in awe. They could see that she wasn’t bragging. She was simply telling them, and it was comforting to know that.

Tonks sat down again and continued talking. “I’m going to tell you now, there will be times when you will hate this class or hate me. But remember that you will need to know what I’m going to teach you, even if it’s only for the exams and hopefully not for use on the real world. So now, let’s get started.”

A/N: Next Chapter: A pointless conversation, an interesting assignment, a talk between girls, and a really irritating letter.