Hermione could only watch in silence as Cho Chang entered the library, Harry at her heels. Cho didn’t even bother looking at him as she slid into a chair beside her friends, talking animatedly and flipping her hair once in a while, to Hermione’s great annoyance.
“Honestly, Ron. Just look at him.” she fumed, crossing her arms over her chest. “She’s got him trailing behind her like a lovesick puppy.”
“I doubt you would think that way if he was trailing behind you like a lovesick puppy.” Ron commented without taking his eyes off his homework. “Besides, you have other things to think about. Don’t you want to do well in your N.E.W.T.s?”
Hermione sighed. “Well, I do. Although I haven’t quite decided what I want to go into when I graduate yet.”
Her eyes wandered from Harry and Cho to the other occupants in the library. Far off into the corner, a bunch of Slytherins sat huddled, probably plotting to ruin someone else’s life. She spotted Draco Malfoy looking pensively at the ceiling. Slowly, an outrageous idea started to creep into her mind. She turned to look at Ron in a fit of excitement.
“Ron, I’ve got it!” She said enthusiastically.
“That’s nice.” Ron replied, noncommittally. “I told you it wasn’t that hard to think up of an occupation.”
“No, Ron. Not that.” Hermione said, bubbling with excitement. “I know how to make Harry notice me. I can go out with Malfoy to make him jealous!” She looked expectantly at the red-haired boy in front of her.
“I think the plan would be absolutely perfect...” Ron began. “…if you two did not absolutely hate each other’s guts!” He finished.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, Ron.” Hermione replied calmly. “Besides, he’s a Slytherin. I’m sure he’s bribable.”
Ron looked at her as if she had grown another arm. “Hermione, you are not seriously thinking about pushing through with this, are you?”
“Maybe.” Hermione said. But the wheels were already turning inside her head.
The next day, she found Draco strutting around the school making passes at every girl he laid his eyes on, utterly confident and completely certain that he was God’s gift to women. Hermione reeled at him in disgust, but decided that if she was going to get Harry’s attention away from Cho, she needed someone who was as visible as an over-sized peacock. The fact that there was a never-ending animosity between the two would also contribute to her goal.
‘The sooner that Harry finds out, the better.’ Hermione thought. ‘I highly doubt I could stand being with Malfoy for even a short time, even if it is just pretend.’
She followed Draco all the way to the Prefects’ bathroom, where he started to take his shirt off before he spotted her.
“What is this, Granger?” He drawled. “Did you want to catch a glimpse of me taking a shower?” Hermione tried to resist the urge of turning him into a slimy, purple frog.
“No, Malfoy.” She said, through her teeth. “I wanted to talk to you. I need your help with a problem of mine.”
There was something about the malicious glint in his eyes that perturbed her, but she ignored it and continued on. “It’s about my—“
“--I’m sorry, Granger, but if this is about your looks, you’d need more than just my advice to improve on them.” He interrupted. Hermione had to satisfy herself with attacking Draco in her mind with sharp claws for catharsis.
“I’m not here for that. I need you to do something for me.” She paused. “I want you to pretend you’re dating me to make Harry jealous.”
Draco burst out laughing.
“Make Harry jealous? What is this? Second year?” He asked incredulously. There was a huge smirk plastered on his face that Hermione desperately wanted to wipe off.
“It’s not funny!” She retorted. “Anyway, if you can’t help me, I’m going to go ask someone else.” She started to stomp off, but Draco caught her wrist.
“No, wait.” He said. The smirk was still there. “This sounds a bit interesting. What did you have in mind?” Hermione turned to face him, and then shoved the leaflet she was holding into his hands.
“What is this?” He asked, confusion on his face. “Another one of your Save-The-House-Elves campaigns?”
“Those are the rules of this deal.” Hermione replied. “If you’re ready, sign the contract on the last page. If you do, you’d be bound to the deal by magic.”
“And what do I get out of this?” Draco inquired. Hermione was prepared for the question. She knew that he would never do anything for her--or anyone for that matter--for free.
“I know that you’re grounded until you can improve on some of your grades. I happen to know someone who could tutor you to get your grades up.” She said.
“Really?” Draco replied. “Which teacher did you sleep with to get him to agree to tutoring me?”
“I’m going to be your tutor!” Hermione snapped. “And I’m going to see to it that you get the best grades that you’ve ever gotten in your life!”
‘So just sign the stupid contract already.’ Hermione thought impatiently. ‘Honestly, it hasn’t even begun, and I’m already so sick of him.’
Draco was flipping through the manual she gave him.
“Rule #43, You are not allowed to be seen with any woman in an intimate position. That’s going to be a tough one.” He commented. “Rule #75, You have to tell me the truth, and nothing but the truth with regards to this deal at all times. Rule #138, You will do your best to make Harry jealous, even if you no longer feel like it. Rule #218, You are not to tell anyone of our deal. How many effing rules are in this book anyway?” He asked irritably. “Why are there so many?”
‘Because I don’t trust you.’ Hermione thought.
“It’s just a safeguard to protect me.” She said out loud. “You can think up of your own rules too.”
“Well, okay.” Draco said. “Fine. I’ll do it if it means getting the grades that my father wants so badly. You'd just better make sure you fulfill your end of the bargain." He paused to look at the manual. "I don’t really have any rules to add. I believe these are more than enough.” He said, looking pointedly at her.
“Good.” Hermione said, breathing a sigh of relief. At least he had agreed without her resorting to Plan B, which could have gotten ugly. “The deal is off when there is a clear indication that Harry is already jealous.” She added satisfactorily.
Draco gave her a noncommittal shrug. “Well, you do know I’m a jerk. So I won’t be held liable for screwing anything up.” He said casually, as he signed the contract.
There was something in his tone that made her think that he was pertaining to screwing something other than their deal.
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