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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.

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