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Thursday morning wreaked pure Transfiguration havoc. Professor McGonagall made the whole class (Gryffindors and Ravenclaws) turn themselves into cardboard boxes and they were barely succeeding.

"Close enough," sighs McGonagall at three Ravenclaw students who turned themselves into tinselled paper bags. She waves her wand and turns them back before moving to the next table. There, she saw a lavender-striped, perforated cardboard box sitting between a wooden crate full of red herring and red Tupperware with a pair of glasses sitting atop of it.

"Very good, Ms. Granger," she says, turning the cardboard box back into Hermione. "Although, we can do without the holes next time, and as for you Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter," she adds, moving closer to the remaining curios, "concentrate." She flicks her wand and turns the two back into their old selves, only more dazed and confused.

Hermione catches up with McGonagall as she heads up to Neville and Seamus' table where a Jack-in-a-box and a jar of sugar lumps sat.

"Professor," she calls out. The Transfiguration teacher tut-tuts at the scene in front of her before turning to face Hermione.

"Yes Ms. Granger," she says, "Do you need something?"

"I was wondering," she begins, "if we aren't doing anything else, if I can leave class early? I want to get a head start on some History readings. I can't get much done at the Infirmary, you see. Practical stuff, I can manage. But the readings are a bit difficult to do with Aurora around."

"Very well," replies McGonagall as she gives a curt nod. "I hope this teaches you to be more mindful of your temper next time, Ms. Granger."

Hermione purses her lips but murmurs a positive answer. It does her well because in a few seconds, she is already out the door and well on her way to the library.

Upon arriving at the annex that led to her favourite Hogwarts haven, she notices two Slytherin girls near the door's entrance blowing green-tinted bubbles from their wands.

She recognizes them as Patricia Elliot and Karla Haughton, good friends of Pansy Parkinson. She rolls her eyes and quickens her pace. She finds herself wishing for Harry's Invisibility Cloak. She hates the Pug Squad - Ron's term of endearment - even more than Malfoy because they're twice as conniving and maleficent.

"Well, look what the good wind brought," Karla smiles, blowing a bubble her way, "It’s Mudblood Granger."

Hermione freezes in her tracks, recognizing the green-tinted bubble as a Slime Conjurer. If it pops (popping is done at will), she will be covered with Green Slime for the rest of the day. Surprisingly, she has yet to read on the antidote. Then again, she isn't the type to update herself on the wide, wonderful world of prank spells. That's the Weasley twins' job.

"Leave me alone. I’m not doing anything to you."

Patricia nods innocently, "Oh, okay." She waves her wand and the bubble flits away.

Hermione continues walking. Patricia flicks her wrist and the bubble is in her way once again.

Hermione glares at her. Patricia slyly smiles, "Not." Karla giggles and blows another bubble from her wand. It hovers menacingly above Hermione’s head.

"Look, I just want to go to the library—"

"And that’s why we want you to bugger off," Karla shrugs. She smoothes her skirt and walks towards Hermione. "You’ve been stressing Draco out a lot lately. He doesn’t need to see you today."

"He’s IN the library?" Hermione shakes her head and resumes walking. "Yeah, right."

"Another step, Mudblood, and you’ll be sorry!" Patricia screeches. She waves her wand and her bubble moves closer to Hermione - dangerously closer.

"Look, if he IS in the library, what makes you think I'll waste my time on Draco?" she snaps. "I’m. Going. There. To. S-T-U-D-Y."

"No," Karla says more determinedly, "And--" Her eyes suddenly widen, looking at something at the other side of the annex flying towards their group. She screams and ducks behind Patricia.

Her friend rolls her eyes. "It's just an owl, you scaredy cat," she tries to pull Karla to her side.

"I. Hate. BIRDS!" she shouts in her friend's ear.

"Bloody--what did you do that for?!"

Hermione looks at them back and forth and decides that now is the best time to sneak past them. Dodging the bubbles, she runs for the library’s entrance.

Patricia turns her head just in time to see Hermione reach the door. "She’s getting away!" Quickly, she and Karla flick their wands at the same time and cry, "Eruptus!" Upon command, the two green bubbles zoom towards Hermione, pop and pour a generous amount of slime on the poor girl, drenching her from head to toe.

Hermione's scream reverberated across the annex while Patricia and Karla laugh, pointing at her sorry state.

"Two days, Granger! You’re a slime ball for two LONG days!" Karla howls with joy.

"You know what," Patrick snickers, "you go on ahead and study." At that, the two Slytherin girls leave, their cackling still audible to Hermione even minutes after they are out of sight.

For a moment, Hermione is frozen. Her eyes wandered down to stare at her clothes, dripping wet with slime that is starting a little pool of green underneath her feet. Then, she hiccups and starts to cry.

Why me? She asks herself. She's not the only Mudblood in school. And she's nice! Isn't she nice? There were far more annoying students than her! Her eyes well with tears and in a minute, she loses her resolve to study.

She begins to consider an early retirement to the Gryffindor common room: have a few butter beers with her friends, maybe give Wizard's Chess a shot. She might just be good at that. After all, where is studying getting her aside from being Harry Potter's constant companion in almost every life-threatening adventure? She shakes her head, disappointed. What's the point in being the best when all they see is her Muggle parents and not her outstanding Arithmancy or superb Charming skills?

"Oh get a grip, Granger!" she cries out, stomping her feet. "Don't let the Pug Squad get to you." Having said that, Hermione thought it would be best to still visit the library. Although a trip to Madame Pomfrey would surely help, she doesn't want to walk past all those classrooms looking like a slime ball (as Karla so kindly put it). So, the library is her only sanctuary. As she approaches the doors, Hermione crosses her fingers, hoping that no one will see her and that the antidote lies in a book somewhere inside.

Finally, she reaches the Antidote and Spell Breakers section where, much to her dismay, Draco happened to be. He is seated behind a long study table, sleeping. Several books, a scroll and a cup of coffee joined him but he is otherwise, alone.

"Of all the people in the world..." Hermione breathes nervously. As quietly as she can, she tiptoes past him and starts looking for that large antidote book on trick charms.

"Bingo," she whispers, spotting the gnarly volume sitting pretty on a shelf just over an arm's reach up. She put her things on the floor and was just about to reach up when she hears a voice behind her.

"So, that's where the smell's coming from."

Hermione refused to turn around. She just needs to get the book and she's out of there.

She can hear Draco yawning as he asks, "What happened to you? Popped one of your zits again? That's a whole week's worth of slime you got there!" he laughs, pretty much sold to his own joke.

Hermione's eyes begin to pool with tears again. Just when she thought the worst has happened, Draco joins the picture to add insult to injury. These Slytherins just know where to hit it. She hops up to reach for the book then mentally smacks herself. As her vision starts to get blurry from her tears, she takes out her wand and swishes and flicks her wrist.

"A-a-acc-acci- a-a,”she couldn’t continue as she was starting to choke on her own remorse, "Acci- a-"

"Accio book," chants Draco from behind and the book flies out of the shelf and lands in Draco’s hand. "What do we have here, Granger? Oh, antidotes huh?"

"G-give it h-here, Malfoy," Hermione insists, trying to mask her crying.

Draco turns his attention from the book to the girl in front of him and looks at her closely. Hermione steps back, hoping all that dripping slime can mask her tears. He walks up to her and raises her chin up with his right hand. "What’s the matter? Are you crying, Granger?"

Hermione freezes. What is he thinking? Is he touching her? Their eyes meet and for a moment she opts to look back but finds that she can't stand his probing eyes anymore. She drops her gaze and pushes his hand away.

"Get your hands off me," she steps back. "Give me the book now."

He levitates the book again and puts it back on the shelf. He smiles at her. "I don’t think so." And before Hermione can react, he takes his mug of coffee and splashes the black liquid on her.

She shrieks, "What did you do that for?! What is up with everyone, pouring stuff on me…” Her voice trails off. The slime is melting away into thin air. In a minute, she's as clean as she was that morning. What was left on her was the bitter-sweet aroma of strong, black coffee.

"Wh-what?" Puzzled, she faces Draco who is now back in his seat.

"Naturally, coffee is the antidote," he yawns, "And you wouldn’t find it in there. That book’s way too old for new spells." He pushes aside the scroll in front of him full of plant drawings. "Now how about you leave me alone? That stupid baby kept me up all night."

Hermione is at loss for words. Is she dreaming? Did Draco just... help her?

"Uhm," she begins, as she picks up her things, "Thank you."

She cringes inwardly, waiting for a comeback. He doesn't answer. On closer inspection, she observes that he's asleep again. Hermione thought that it couldn't get stranger than that. Maybe Aurora really wore him out. Quietly, she takes her leave, relieved to be let off so cheaply today.

As soon as she is a few feet away, Draco opens an eye and watches her walk away. He couldn't help but think about how beautiful her eyes looked and how soft her chin felt even with all that slime. He looks at the empty mug in front of him, mentally reprimanding himself for the outrageous thoughts. Not the Mudblood. An unfamiliar fluttering in his stomach made him feel extremely uncomfortable... and pleasant at the same time. He pushes the mug away.

"You owe me coffee, Hermione," he mutters at her retreating figure. He sees her stall for a moment and looks around, like she heard someone say her name. Satisfied that no one else is there, she proceeds to the opposite wing of the huge library to get on with her reading. He closes his eyes.

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