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Day of the Dead

It was dark.

She was in a hallway; a long, narrow, poorly lit hallway. Her feet were carrying her almost mechanically to the place she knew that she had to be. There was only one thought going through her mind: Death. She was going to face death. Not her death… no that would be far too stupid to walk to her own death. It was someone else’s. She was going to go kill someone.

Her wand was gripped tightly in her right hand, turning the knuckles white with strain. She must really hate this person in order for her to act like this. Usually, when she killed, her wand would lay almost limp in her hand so the risk of it flying when she cast the spell was high. But this time she was making sure it would not leave the confines of her hand. 

Flashes of their appearance went past her line of vision, angering her even further. Messy, dark hair was the only thing that remained potent. He was someone she knew. Why didn’t it make this harder, then? If she knew this person that she was about to kill, why wasn’t there any hesitation?

She walked up the flight of stairs she knew lead to the Astronomy Tower and her breath began to get ragged. This was the moment, the moment she would come face-to-face with her prey. She was the lioness and they were the small mouse that got in her way. She needed to keep her mind on the plan, and not let it dawdle. She was here to kill. She was here to conquer them. She was here to prove herself.

The fresh air of the tower hit her like a large gush of ocean mist. Refreshing, but at the same time awakening your senses. She was almost there. Their outline could be made out on the far end of the tower, near the edge. Perfect. 

She did her best to keep her footsteps quiet, walking on the balls of her feet. Her air supply was cut short as she began to hold her breath, only letting it out through her nose when necessary. He was only a few meters away now. His lean silhouette was coming into view. The moon was the only source of light and she took it as another tactic as she tried to hide in the shadows. She could hear him breathing. 

Her wand arm began to move up on its own accord, aiming at his unarmed back. It was then she felt the small twinge of hesitation wash over her. Should she really stoop so low as to cursing someone when their back was turned?
Yes, her common sense answered. It is nothing you haven’t done before.

Of course, she was just being stupid. It was now or never. She opened her mouth and drew in some final intakes of air to recite the curse she knew so well. Her feet took her out of the shelter of the shadows as she got a good angle. But something stopped her. His back had tensed and he was beginning to turn around as if he sensed her. No, she
knew he sensed her. She was stiff and her body refused to move back into the shadows. 

He had completely turned around and was staring into her eyes. She stared back and watched as his gaze turned to her raised wand and his expression faltered to one of shock. His eyes re-connected with hers with a shine of vulnerability. It was her chance to do something but she found herself unable to open her mouth. They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, her arm beginning to grow sore and shake as though a ton of iron bricks had been placed atop it. Still, she did not waver.

His voice was so quite, she had to strain her ears to hear it. “I trusted you.”

Her eyes began to shine with unshed tears as she continued to focus on him. Her intent was to kill him, so why wasn’t she doing anything? Why was she just standing there like a fool and crying? 

“What have you done?”

A lone tear escaped down her cheek and she gathered up all of the courage she had and spoke, “I’m sorry.”

She walked closer to him; wand still raised and began to speak the curse—the curse that would end his life. He looked heartbroken but never moved to defend himself. After a pregnant pause she came within inches of him. But it was then the moon chose to shine its light upon the two of them. She saw his eyes, his beautiful emerald eyes hidden beneath his rounded spectacles and came undone. Her wand had turned to butter as it slipped through her fingers. She watched it fall and looked up at him curiously. Why had she done that?

His expression contorted once again, this time with one which made her stomach contract. A hint of a smile grazed his lips and she opened her mouth to say something, anything, to break the silence. But fate had other plans.

A figure floated up behind him and her breath caught in her throat. His red eyes pierced her skin as he stared at her with displeasure. Harry remained unfazed, as if he were a statue. “You disappoint me, Hermione. I gave you one mission and you can’t even do it without turning into a sap.” His gaze flickered to Harry and she stiffened.

“Don’t touch him.” She heard herself say in warning.

He raised his brow at her, “I don’t think you grasp the situation at hand here. You fail to complete your assignment and I have to pick up the pieces.”

“No.” she said firmly.

“And what are you going to do to stop me?”

She raised her wand arm only to realize that her wand had vanished. She heard laughter and saw that her wand was in the slimy hands of her master. Her eyes widened in fear as he pointed his hand to the still form of Harry.

“NO!” she screamed as a green beam of light shot out of her wand.

Her eyes darted open.

Hermione let her eyes travel her surroundings and let out a puff of relieved breath. It had only been a dream, and an odd one at that. It was as if she were a whole different person! She couldn’t even kill the person who was supposed to be her target? Honestly, dreams were such a nuisance, it was a wonder she ever had them at all.

Sighing and accepting that the option to go back to sleep was moot, she threw off her covers and checked the clock by her bedside table. It was nine in the morning. She let herself panic for a moment before realizing it was Saturday. And, better yet, it was Halloween. She had an entire feast to look forward to today. Hermione smiled as she slid off of her bed and into the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead of her.

Ginny was, unsurprisingly, on one of the sofas already wide awake and looking to be working on an essay. Hermione walked over to where she was sitting and plopped down on the armchair nearest to her. Ginny’s head shot up at the movement and smiled at her. “You’re up later than usual.” She commented.

Hermione nodded, “Yeah, I was actually dreaming for once.”

Ginny looked at her with a naughty glint in her eyes, “And was it an interesting dream?”

Hermione snorted at her innuendo and replied, “It was more like a nightmare than anything.”

Her face fell with disappointment as she turned back to her assignment, “Oh.”

“Sorry that my dreams don’t stimulate your aching loins, Gin.” Hermione chipped with a smirk.

Ginny giggled and twisted back to look at her, “Just take comfort that anything having to do with the opposite sex and their reproductive organs is my area of expertise and I take pride in that”

Hermione chuckled and let Ginny get back to her assignment. She sat there in silence until an idea struck her. “Hey, Ginny”

The red head turned to look at her, “Yeah?”

Hermione pursed her lips and second guessed herself for a moment. Should she really ask her this? The girl was bound to ask questions and she knew that if she answered them honestly, her head and her dignity would be on the line. But this was a growing problem that agitated her to no end… and if she just made up the rest she would get the answer she was looking for! Genius. “Can I ask you something having to do with—?”

“Oh yes, yes a thousand times yes! Ask away!” she said with excitement, clapping her hands together and forgetting her assignment.

Hermione shook her head at her reaction, but sobered as she gathered up the last amount of guts she had. “I’ve been having this weird… feeling when I’m around this guy. It’s like my stomach is trying single-handedly to jump out of my throat. I have no idea what it means and was hoping you—”

“You like him.” Ginny answered simply.

It was an understatement to say that she was floored, “W-what?”

“You like him, you want to jump his bones… however you want to put it.” Ginny said as though she was reciting it out of some unknown manual.

“But… but that’s impossible…” Hermione trailed off. This bird was mental! She could not, should not, and surely would never like someone like him! It was preposterous! Ginny was anything but an expert if that was her conclusion.

“Honestly, Herms. It’s perfectly normal to like someone. Whether it’s just a passing fancy or a stable lust, all of it is a part of being a normal, hormonal teenager.” She explained in what Hermione though sounded like a matter-of-false-fact tone.

Hermione resisted the urge to scream, “I’m not a normal teenager, you twit!”  And instead settled to nodding her head like an idiot.

“Sooo…” Ginny started in an innocent voice, “Who’s the guy?”

Hermione did her best to remain calm. She had to come up with a lie that she would believe, and “No one…” didn’t seem like something that she would accept as an accredible answer. “Erm… you don’t know him.”

Ginny’s eyebrows narrowed, “You sure you’re not just embarrassed about liking him or something? Is it Neville?”

“No!” she blurted quickly, “I mean, I grew up with the guy and he goes to another school in… Bulgaria.”

“Yeah, whatever” Ginny said passively, “But trust me when I say that these feelings usually don’t go away easily. I mean, I’ve been feeling that way towards Harry for ages, but the bloke didn’t even ask me out until last year! Guys are extremely thick-headed when it comes to this type of stuff.”

“R-right” Hermione didn’t like the feeling that her stomach was giving her. This was a completely different one from the other she had been experiencing lately. It was an unpleasant clenching feeling in her lower stomach. Why must that useless organ cause her so much pain?

Ginny put a comforting hand on her shoulder, which, to extents unbeknownst to her, angered Hermione. “Remember, if you need anything feel free to come to me, alright?”

Hermione nodded with a faux smile. Ginny removed her hand and returned to her work, allowing Hermione to relax if only for a moment to take all of this in.

She could not possibly like Harry like that. Sure, she had been tolerating him a lot easier lately but… that didn’t mean she harbored sexual feeling for him! If she needed anything of that nature, all she had to do was sneak down to the dungeons and ask Draco for a favor. But Ginny had said that it wouldn’t go away easily… so did that mean that Draco couldn’t even help her? Harry was her target and nothing more. Friendship, actual non-faked friendship, was as out-of-bounds as you could get on a mission like this. Growing to like them… like that… it was unheard of, and certainly not ethical! Sure he was sexy, in that good-guy kind of way. Yeah, his hair looked really silky smooth even though there were always almost a dozen strands loose. Of course he—wait! Nonononononononononononono! This was all wrong! 
“Hello ladies!”

Hermione held back a groan when she heard Ron’s peppy voice from behind her. They had arrived. Perfect, simply perfect! She refused to make Harry’s eyes has he took a seat next to Ginny, not really feeling like regurgitating the contents of her stomach. If the feeling she felt while around him mixed with the feeling she felt when she was around Ginny, she was certain that would be the case.

“So, do you guys want to get something to eat or what?” Ron asked, looking very eager.

“Sure” Ginny replied, setting down her quill, “I could really use a break.”

“How long have you been working on that thing, Gin?” Harry asked with concern.

“Oh, just a few hours.” She replied, waving a hand about coolly.

Ron’s face contorted to what Hermione could only assume was disgust. “How you are even remotely related to me, I will never know.”

“Well if the red hair and high temper wasn’t a straight giveaway, I have no idea either.” Ginny replied with a sneer.

“Smartass…” Ron mumbled, causing the group to laugh.

After a moment, they all got up and made their way to the Great Hall, Hermione, noticeably silent along most of the way. She was thankful that no one seemed to notice but was sure that Harry would speak up eventually. She took the time that was usually used for enjoying the cooking that was always so divine in her mind to think of something to blame her quietness on. She couldn’t very well say that she was avoiding speaking because of fear of blurting out that she might harbor feelings of a sexual sort about him. The only thing that kept her sane was that there were no feelings attached to this… this predicament. It was only lust, pure, unadulterated lust and nothing else; perfectly normal… perfectly sane.

“Are you alright, Hermione?”

And there it was.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just tired.” She lied smoothly. Well, that had come out easier than she thought. There was nothing to worry about. Hermione relaxed as she continued to pick at her food, finally relishing in its deliciousness.

Harry nodded at her, not believing a thing she said, but taking the normal route and not pushing it. Thank Merlin he was thoroughly predictable or she would be on the hot seat.

Breakfast continued like that, Hermione being abnormally quiet and Harry casting fleeting glances towards her, silently asking her if she was alright. It was bizarre that Hermione could even tell that he was looking at her for that reason. It was almost as if she could read him without trying. Usually, she had to at least put up some sort of effort to gain access into someone’s mind without the use of Legilimency. But with Harry, she just knew

I must be getting better at it
, she thought to herself.


It was late-afternoon and Hermione found herself in the common room, studying for an upcoming Divinations exam on the many uses of omens in everyday life. She still hated the class with a passion and hoped that this mission really paid off in the long run if she had to endure these tortuous days of predictions of her demise. The future was meant to be unseen, not studied.

She was in the middle of comparing the two omens of fire and ice when she felt someone come up and sit next to her. Her stomach lurched once again and she knew who had elected to disturb her studying. Taking a deep breath, she tried to ignore his strong presence beside her. But, of course, her attempts were fruitless.

“Hey” his smooth voiced vibrated from beside her.

She turned up to look at him and smiled, “Hi.” He made a move to talk, but she chose to interrupt him, not wanting to make up anymore pathetic excuses for her behavior that day, “Look, I know I’ve been acting weird today but you don’t need to charm me into telling you, alright? It’s my business and I would appreciate it if you’d just back off.”

Harry looked affronted, “I didn’t come over here to make you tell me anything, Hermione.”

Hermione felt her face fall and color come to her cheeks in embarrassment, “Oh, well… that’s rather embarrassing, then.”

She saw him nod, “Don’t worry about it, I understand”

She smiled lightly, “You are a very understanding person, aren’t you?”

He nodded, “I like to think so.”

“Well why don’t we just get you an award then?” she joked.

“I wouldn’t object to that” he said with a laugh, “I would like it to be silver with my name engraved right in the middle.”

Hermione chuckled, “I see you’ve given much thought to this.”

“Oh yeah, definitely. When you’re on death watch, you get to think about some things.” He said.

Hermione knew it was meant as a joke, but to her it was anything but. Her expression and the air about her sobered as she looked at him pointedly, “Why did you come over to talk to me, Harry?”

The smile was wiped off of his face, “Can’t a guy come over and talk to his friend?” Hermione gave him a look and he chuckled. “Well, I have been nominated on behalf of Ron and Ginny to invite you to the Burrow this Christmas.”

Hermione’s brow wrinkled in confusion, “What’s the Burrow?”

“Oh, it’s their house!” Harry said, just realizing that she was foreign to the word. “You’ll find out why when you see it. That is… if you want to?” he ended hesitantly.

Hermione carefully considered the question. On the bright side, it would give her more chances to get closer to Harry. On the not-so-bright side, she would be surrounded by Weasley’s, and if they were anything like the two she already knew, that was a hazard in itself. But she vaguely remembered what Harry had said about them—how caring, loving, and successful they were in their own right. The only two she heard nothing about were the parents to the many young red heads. She recalled seeing a plump woman in the middle of a sea of red on Platform 9 ¾, which must have been the mother. She looked homely enough.

“Sure” she finally concluded, “I would love to.”

“Fantastic!” he exclaimed, his eyes shining with excitement. “You won’t regret saying yes, the Burrow is always amazing. You like the school food, right?”

Hermione nodded enthusiastically, “Yes”

“Well Mrs. Weasley’s cooking is a hundred times better than that!"

“I didn’t think that was even possible…” she mused.

“Neither did I. And if we get word back to her soon enough, she’ll knit you a sweater.” He said.

“A sweater?” she asked.

“Yeah, she knits them every year for Ron, Ginny, Me, and basically everyone she considers family.” He explained.

“I would be considered family?” she asked, clearly reproachful.

“Anyone who is a friend of her kids is family to her.” He said with a grin. He must be really close to their family… she concluded mentally.

“Shouldn’t anyone crazy enough to befriend Ron and Ginny get more than just a sweater?” she asked jokingly.

He laughed, “You’re probably right, but good luck trying to convince Molly.”

Hermione found herself becoming more and more excited about Christmas. The food, the free sweater, a family… it all was becoming increasingly appealing. “You really love her, don’t you?”

He nodded, “She’s like a mum to me.”

She looked at him carefully, deciding the pained expression on his face was due to his history. She knew what it felt like not to know your mum. She could never tell him that, though. It might make her seem vulnerable and pose a threat to her homeschooling back story if it ever came into play. She wanted desperately to comfort him, but pushed the thoughts aside. She never had anyone to comfort her, so why should he?

He smiled at her and tried to change the subject from the dark one that loomed over them, “So are you excited about your first Halloween feast tonight?”

She grinned, “Absolutely, I can’t wait!”

“You really like the school’s food, don’t you?” Harry asked curiously.

She nodded, “The best stuff I’ve ever eaten, until I go to the Burrow this Christmas, that is.”

“Hmm…” he mumbled in thought. She was about to question him but he interrupted by speaking again, “I remember when I first had the food here, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”

“Exactly!” she said, glad that someone shared her opinion. “But everyone here seems to think it’s nothing special. Must be the way their parents cook it, or something.”

“Or you were brought up by Molly.” Harry added.

“You’re making me increasingly eager for Christmas to get here, Potter.” She said playfully.

“And is that such a bad thing?” he asked.

“Well yes” she said stiffly, “I hate snow!”

Harry looked at her as if she had grown two heads. The expression was priceless and made Hermione giggle to herself. “You hate snow?” he questioned carefully. She nodded and he continued to look at her oddly, “How could you hate snow?”

Hermione looked at him as if the answer was obvious, “Its cold.”

Harry laughed at her, “You can’t be serious”

“And why not?” she asked cuttingly.

“You can’t simply hate something because of one of its minute qualities. What about the snowfall fights and the days we have off of class because the heating charms break?” He listed off each of the characteristics on his fingers for emphasis and Hermione couldn’t help but guffaw.

“Well I guess it has some appealing features, but they all end in the same result: freezing you arse off and risking frostbite!” she sniped. Hermione crossed her arms and basked in her genius. Surely, he could not come back with anything good.

“But you are forgetting the one thing we Gryffindors do best to warm up.” He motioned for her to come closer to him with his finger and she complied hesitantly. “We have sex by the fire.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped as she shoved him in the shoulder, “You are such a pervert”

He was already laughing and looked at her through hooded eyes, “Hey, you asked for it!”

Hermione rolled her eyes and leaned back into her seat, her heartbeat apparently quicker. Stop it! She commanded, but as she glanced back over at Harry it refused to obey. Damnit! 
“Hey, there you two are!” she heard Ginny’s sprightly voice call from the other side of the common room.

Harry looked behind him and smiled over at his girlfriend. Hermione’s stomach clenched again and she flinched. Thankfully, it went unnoticed as Ginny took a seat next to Harry who kissed her in greeting. Hermione directed her attention to Ron, who elected to stand up and observe.

“What have you guys been up to?” he asked, smiling.

“Oh nothing, just talking about Christmas” Hermione disclosed with a smile.

Ginny’s eyes widened as she looked over at her. “Are you coming, then?” Hermione nodded and Ginny squealed excitedly. “It’ll be so much fun!”

“Yeah, except for the fact that Hermione here doesn’t like snow.” Harry said teasingly as he spared a glance in Hermione’s general direction.

“What?!” Ron bellowed.

“Erm…” Hermione started warily.

“Every year we have the annual Weasley snowball fight!” Ginny exclaimed.

Hermione glared over at Harry, “You never said anything about an annual snowball fight, Harry.”

He smiled innocently at her, “You never asked.”

She frowned at him and looked back over at Ron, who looked like he was about to say something that she knew she would regret acknowledging. “We are going to train you. No one is going to show up at the Burrow unprepared for the fight, you’ll be demolished.”

“Plus the fact that I want you to be on my team, and we never lose.” Ginny chipped.

“Thanks, no pressure, right guys?” Hermione added sarcastically.

“Now why would we want to pressure you into anything?” Harry asked in a pristine voice.

She pointed a finger at him, “You stay out of this, Mister ‘What’s-so-wrong-with-snow?’.”

Harry snorted and Hermione glowered at him. He turned his face upwards for a moment and noticed the clock, “Hey, it’s almost time for the fest.”

Hermione glanced up and saw that he was right and immediately sat up, setting Ron off of his balance. He stumbled backwards and Harry and Ginny let out a small chuckle. Ron narrowed his eyes at them as he regained his balance.

“Well I think we should get a move on if we want to get first dibs on the Pumpkin Pastries.” Ginny said, breaking the silence.

They all agreed and made their way out of the common room. Hermione couldn’t help but notice how Harry and Ginny’s hands interlaced mechanically as they got up and exited out of the portrait hole. She felt slightly lightheaded as she stepped down into the hallway, almost losing her balance much as Ron had done moments ago. Luckily, no one had noticed and she continued behind them at a steady pace.

They arrived in the crowded hall just as Dumbledore was standing up to make an announcement. Hermione quickly sat down next to Harry as Ron and Ginny took a seat opposite them. It was quite odd, that Harry would elect to take a spot by her rather than with his girlfriend. But if she looked at it logically it made sense. They would have a better angle to make those disgusting goggle-eyes that teenage couples always felt the need to do. Oh, and it would be easier to play footsie.

Or, they knew about her conflicting emotions and did it on purpose! Yes, that must be it

“Welcome one and all, to the annual Halloween Feast.” Dumbledore’s voice boomed throughout the hall. All attention was drawn to him and he smiled. “I would like to congratulate you on a nearly spotless first few weeks of schooling. If my sources are correct, only around twenty detentions were given out.” The hall let out a collective laugh as he continued, “Now, I am sure all of you have been looking forward to the delicious treats we have in store for you. So please, tuck in!”

The food appeared on the table and the students all began to pile food on their plates. Hermione immediately reached for the garlic seasoned mashed potatoes but found that a hand collided with her own on the journey. She looked over to see Harry smiling apologetically at her. She felt her face envelope with warmth as she loaded her plate with potatoes and watched as Harry did the same moments after. She felt so ashamed of herself because at that moment she knew. She knew that she had some sort of feelings for him other than hate.

Hermione spared a glance over at the Slytherin table to see Draco sneering at her. She quickly turned around and buried her head in her hands. She had always known there was a reason Halloween was also referred to as the Day of the Dead.

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