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[A/N - Hey everyone! In the last chapter I told everyone that if they wanted a picture of Hermione's dress, to email me. SORRY! I left the wrong email. It's dobbyssock77@gmail.com . I'm sorry guys. I've been on a writing spree lately, banging out these chapters one right after the other! Without further ado.... Chapter 9!]

Thanks to enchatress@TDA for the beautiful chapter image :)

            Hermione stared at Draco, a sad smile on her face, as she realized that she couldn’t give him the answer he wanted to hear. She watched the small glimmer of hope in his eyes, though she knew he was trying his best to act like her answer wouldn’t really matter to him.

            “Draco…” she started; the glimmer in his eyes growing smaller. “I need to think about this for a night. Can I give you an answer tomorrow? I just didn’t expect you to ask me. I need some time to think about this. Will you give me that?” she asked; the hope clearly evident in her voice. He stared at her for a moment before taking a deep breath and smiling pleasantly.

            “You’re not going to avoid me all day tomorrow, are you?” he asked her, brushing the platinum blonde hair out of his eyes.

            “Of course not,” she replied, clearly shocked that he would even assume that she would do that.

            “Good, I’d rather not have to hunt you down tomorrow just to procure an answer from you.” He said, looking to his left at Winky and nodding once, signaling that dinner was over and it was alright to clean up. They stood up together, bade the house elves good night, and left for the common room. As they walked back, she noticed how quiet he was being and when she glanced over to him, she saw the far off look in his eyes and wondered what he could be thinking. As they reached the portrait hole and repeated the password, he let her enter first, his hand on the small of her back to help her through. As soon as she felt his hand lightly press against her spine, it was as if a jolt of electricity went through her entire body. She shook her head to clear her thoughts of his firm grasp and went to sit on one of the couches while quietly Draco went off to his room. What am I supposed to do? How am I possibly going to pick between them? There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t go with Draco, but for the past couple months all I’ve been doing is waiting for him to ask me. I need to talk to somebody, but there’s nobody here that I can talk to without them wondering why I’m even considering Draco. She sat staring into the fire for another moment or two before realizing who exactly it was she needed to talk to. There’s no way I could possibly be able to get a hold of her before tomorrow, she sighed in defeat.

            “Why the glum look?” Blaise asked, taking a seat beside her. He had a wind blown look about him and she suspected he and Rebecca had just taken a night stroll around the grounds.

            “Oh, it’s nothing really.” She said, picking up a pillow that had fallen to the floor when he had taken a seat and placing it in her lap.

            “We’ve been friends for a couple months now and I think that I can tell when something’s bothering you by now, so tell me. Maybe I can help.” She thought about his offer for a moment and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to talk to Blaise for a second.

            “I really need to talk to one of my friends, but by the time the owl would reach her, the advice she could give me will be too late and I won’t be able to solve my problem.” She said, playing with the tassels on the edge of the pillow.

            “Well, it’s good that you told me because I have a solution to your dilemma.” Blaise said with a smile as he looked at her. She raised her head, doubting his enthusiastic confidence. 

            “My cousin owns an Instant Mailing Service shop down in Hogsmeade. If you give me what you want to send to your friend, I’ll send it down to him and have him mail it for you, free of charge.” He said, his smile broadening.

            “Really, you would do that for me? Thank you so much, Blaise. That would be so helpful!” she said, jumping up and hurrying to her room, searching for what she needed. She found it tucked away in the bottom of her trunk that lay at the end of her bed and ran back down the stairs to Blaise. “Here, this is what I need to send.” She said, handing him a silver mirror.

            “What is it?” he asked, holding it up curiously to his face.

            “Harry bought this for me for my birthday. It’s a two way mirror, you give one to someone else and when you need to talk to them you just say their name into the mirror and if they have it on them, you two will be able to talk.” She said, smiling and pointing to it while he turned it over in his hands and eyed the intricate silver design that was hand painted on the back.

            “It’s really nice, must’ve cost a good chunk of gold for this. He’s a good guy, Harry.” Blaise said, conjuring up some tissue paper and wrapping it carefully. He headed towards his bedroom and stepped out onto his balcony. He let out one low soft whistle and no more than a minute later a large eagle owl appeared on the concrete rail. She couldn’t hear what he whispered to it but a second later the owl took off and faded into the night sky. Blaise turned to around and walked towards her with a warm smile on his face.

            “Thank you again, Blaise, that was so nice of you to do that for me.” She said, smiling before heading to her bedroom. They said good night to each other and she closed her door softly. She walked over to the mirror above her dresser and glanced at herself, deciding she would put up her hair for bed. She quickly changed into a soft pink lace camisole and pink pajama pants before flopping onto her bed with her silver mirror. She thought for a moment, not sure how instant, instant actually was. After a few seconds of consideration, she picked up the mirror, brought it to her face, and quietly spoke Lizzie’s name. In an instant the reflective surface of the glass rippled like someone had dropped a pebble into a lake and she heard Lizzie’s voice. At first it was distant, but after a few moments the voice grew stronger and Lizzie’s face appeared in the mirror.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            Lizzie sat on her twin size bed; posters of her favorite bands littered the walls. Above her headboard sat a collage of pictures that showed her and her best friend, Hermione, throughout the years of their friendship. Their fourth grade class field trip to the zoo, a picture of the two girls laughing with birthday cake all over their faces, them together on Halloween dressed as witches. Her heart ached as she thought of her best friend and how much she missed her. She sighed, taking her long blonde hair out of her high ponytail, letting it fall around her, when suddenly a small crack sounded through the room and a small brown package appeared on the edge of her bed. She stared at it, her eyes wide with shock at the thing that just appeared out of thin air. She slowly reached for it and as she pulled it towards her she noticed Hermione’s name on it.

            She quickly picked it up, unwrapping it and throwing the brown paper on her bedroom floor in haste. It was a delicate looking silver hand held mirror. She let out a small gasp as the glass suddenly started rippling and Hermione’s voice sounded in her room.                    

            “Hermione, oh my god it’s you! What is this thing? How did this get to me? How are you?” she asked, the questions rolling off her tongue before she could stop herself as her best friends face appeared in the mirror.

            “I’m glad this got to you alright.” Hermione said chuckling. “It’s an enchanted mirror and it will allow us to talk to each other anytime we want as long as the other is holding the mirror with them. I’m good by the way.” Lizzie marveled at this beautiful magical mirror that reminded her of Beauty and the Beast.

            “This is so cool ‘Mi! But enough about this ridiculously awesome mirror, I want to know what’s going on at that school of yours! I haven’t gotten a letter in a week or two which means something is happening and you’re too busy to write me!” she said, her green eyes shimmering with curiosity.

            “That’s what I needed to talk to you about, Liz. I am in desperate need of your advice and you’re the only one that can help me. I was asked to a ball we’re having here at Hogwarts by two different boys.”

            “Well the solution is obvious, pick the better looking one.” She replied, winking at her best friend who responded with a giggle.

            “Well, Terry is charming and all of my friends would understand why I chose him and it’d be easy with him. Then there’s Draco an-“

            “Wait! You mean Draco Malfoy, the Draco Malfoy that you despised for years, the Draco Malfoy that then almost kissed you, asked you to the ball?!”

            “Yes, that would be the one, and he’s changed so much from the boy he used to be, but nobody would understand and yes, he may be slightly attractive, sure he sometimes has this way of clouding your thoughts, but… there’s no way I could possibly explain to my friends this year that, instead of Terry, I’m going to the ball with an ex-Death Eater.”

            “Well… how about you don’t; at least not yet. Spend a week or two with them, comparing them and then decide who you would rather go to the ball with. You don’t have to make a decision just yet.” She said, her voice holding an air of confidence in the plan that her friend wouldn’t be able to ignore.

            “That… that could work. Why didn’t I think about that?” Hermione said, her brow furrowed in thought. Lizzie let out a laugh before responding.

            “’Mi, you’ve always been the smartest girl in class, but when it comes to boys, I surpass your knowledge.” She said, getting a laugh out of her friend as well.

            “Yes, I guess your right.” Hermione responded. After that, the two girls spent the rest of the evening talking and laughing, glad that they were able to catch up after such a long time apart.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            As Hermione wished Lizzie happy dreams, she set the mirror down on her nightstand and crept out of her room and into the dark common room. The only light came from the moon shining through the window, which didn’t really help decrease the creepiness of the room. She slowly walked down the stairs, making sure she didn’t miss one and tumble down the rest. She tip toed to Draco’s door and as she reached it, she wondered if she should’ve just waited until the morning and just head back to her room and go to sleep. However, just as that thought was crossing her mind, the door in front of her opened up wide. He stood there in black silk pajamas staring at her expectantly, not an ounce of sleep in his eyes.

            “Come to stay the night in my bed?” he said, smirking, though she knew he was just trying to touch a nerve.

            “I need you to meet me in front of the Great Hall tomorrow morning.”

            “Why not just tell me now instead of making me wait till then?”

            “Just meet me there. Goodnight.” She said, and with that she twirled around and briskly walked to her room, anxious to sleep.

 

            Before she knew it, she was standing outside the Great Hall as the students passed her, eager to eat. She shifted her school bag from one shoulder to the other, nervously awaiting the arrival of the two boys. She planned on just catching Terry’s attention as he walked in, seeing as it was too late last night to go and ask him to meet her here. Draco was the first to arrive, dressed in his school robes, his blonde hair neatly in place. He said something to her when he arrived, but she was still so anxious that she didn’t respond. Less than five minutes later she spotted Terry coming down the staircase and she called out to him. He had a confused expression that matched Draco’s as he walked towards her, but she didn’t care for that.

            “Good morning to you both. You both asked me to the ball yesterday,” at this, Draco looked to Terry with an angry look on his face while Terry’s face held a surprised expression. “I decided I needed more than just one night to decide who I really wanted to spend my evening with, so I just wanted to inform you both that I won’t decide for another week or two.” She said, looking from one to the other.

            “Why are you telling us this?” Terry said, looking uncomfortable.

            “I just wanted this to be fair to both of you so I decided telling you both my plan would ensure fairness.” Both boys nodded and she thanked them both for meeting her as she walked to the Gryffindor table, though before she turned away, she couldn’t help but notice the smug expression Draco wore.

            Taking a seat across from Ginny, she reached for a slice of toast and filled a goblet with some pumpkin juice.

            “What was that all about? Why do I have a feeling there is something you’re not telling me?” Ginny asked, eyeing her suspiciously. She swallowed the juice in her mouth before responding to her friend.

            “It was nothing. I was just talking to Draco when Terry came over and said hello.” She said, not making eye contact. She felt awful having to lie to Ginny and she never had to before, but something told her that if she spoke to Ginny about her boy situation, she wouldn’t understand. Breakfast finished quickly and in no time at all she was walking to Herbology with Harry; Ron had left a few minutes earlier with Lavender and Parvati. Walking in, she saw that the only empty working stations left were near the back of the room, which really disappointed her. She solemnly followed Harry to the back, and gingerly placed her books on a clean spot behind her. Just as she turned back to the work station, Terry walked over and took a spot next to her. Then Professor Sprout walked into the greenhouse and everyone settled down, looking to her for directions.

            “Good morning, class. Today will be fairly easy, though I hope you all remembered to bring your Dragon hide gloves. We will be replanting the Fanged Geranium into bigger pots; they really grew over the summer. This task will need a lot of concentration; we don’t want anyone bitten by one.” She said, her gray hair sticking every which way out from underneath her green wizarding cap. They all started working right away, so there wasn’t much time to talk, but as the class wore on and they all became more comfortable with the replanting, conversation broke out between the students.

            “Hermione, you know you have some dirt, right there?” Terry asked, pointing to a spot on her face. She brought her hand to her face, trying to rub off the dirt with the back of her wrist, but judging by his laughter, she hadn’t gotten it. “Here, let me.” He said, bringing his hand to her face; his fingers brushed the side of her face, near her hairline, as he brought his thumb to the smudge of dirt and, gently, wiped it off. Her skin was warm and tingly where he touched it and she almost had the urge to shiver. She nodded a thank you and went back to work. After that, she spent the rest of the class talking to Harry, trying to ignore the fact that Terry’s touch felt nothing like Draco’s.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            Draco walked into the Potions dungeon slowly, looking for the brown curls that had become so familiar to him. He spotted her at a table alone, watching Harry talking to Slughorn. He knew that once Harry was done, he would take a seat next to Granger. Moving quickly, he slid into the seat next to her before Potter had even finished his conversation. He saw her turn and eye him out of the corner of his eye and he couldn’t help but wear his trademark smirk. Harry turned around and saw that his seat was taken and, with a slight scowl on his face, walked towards the table Ron was sitting at waiting for Lavender.

            “Settle down, settle down.” Slughorn shouted as he slightly waddled into the room, stopping once he was in front of the class. “Now today, I’ll have you all working with your partner for this potion. Everyone will need to follow instructions exactly, for if a mistake is made, it could cause you to go into a deep and possibly irreversible sleep. Can anyone guess what you will be brewing today?” he finished, and as everyone predicted, Hermione’s hand shot into the air. “Yes, Ms. Granger.”

            “It’s called the Draught of Peace. If the potion is brewed correctly, it should emit a silvery vapour.” She finished, lowering her hand.

            “Perfect! Ten points to Gryffindor. Now you have two hours to complete the potion, the directions are on the board. You may begin.” He finished, the directions appearing on the board with a flick of his wand.

            “Ok, you go get the ingredients, I’ll start up the cauldron.” She said, looking expectantly at him. He nodded once before getting up and walking to the ingredients cupboard. It was a small musty room, with shelves lining every wall with containers everywhere, filled with all kinds of potion ingredients. Half the class was in the cupboard so he leaned against the door frame, waiting for it to empty out a little.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            She looked up to see him leaning casually against the door frame. Like we have time to lounge about before we start to brew the potion, she thought angrily. She blew a strand of hair that fell in her face, then bent down and stuck her wand under the cauldron. “Incendio.” She said before straightening up. Draco strolled back to the table, arms full of the ingredients they needed to start the potion. They spent the next hour and a half brewing the potion, stirring it, and letting it simmer. By the end of the class, she was delighted with how well the potion turned out. She knew that part of the success of the potion was due, not only to her own skills in the class, but also Draco’s. They put a sample of the potion in a vial and brought it up to Slughorn’s desk.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            “We make a pretty good team, wouldn’t you say?” he said smiling, bringing a hand to his silver and green tie, loosening it up a little around the neck.

            “Yes, I suppose we do.” She said, waving her wand and cleaning out her cauldron.

            “How was class with Terry?” he asked, spitting out his name. He wore a slight scowl and she couldn’t help but get the feeling that he didn’t like the fact that he had some competition.

            “It was just fine.” She said, stuffing her books back into her bag and heading out of the room. She was half way down the eerie hallway when he caught up to her.

            “Just fine; did he try and charm the pants off you? I don’t like him.” He said, which she couldn’t help but laugh at.

            “Charm the pants off? There’s no way my pants are ever coming off for anyone, Malfoy. Of course you don’t like him; you don’t want me going to the ball with anyone other than you.” She said, chuckling.

            “Well, Granger, maybe that’s so. Or maybe I know him better than you do and I think the only reason he asked you is because he wants more than just a dance at the ball.” He spat, opening the door that led up the main hallway from the dungeons, and then slammed it behind them.

            “How could you possibly know him better than I do? Why is it such a ridiculous thought that maybe I was asked out because of who I am and not what I can offer? You’re acting just like Ronald did when I went to the Yule Ball with Victor!” she yelled, turning around to face him, her voice attracting the eyes of the other students who happened to be in the hall at the time.

            “Lower your voice, this is no place to cause a scene.” He muttered, grabbing her arm, attempting to lead her off into an empty classroom.

            “I will not!” she yelled, yanking her arm from his grip. “I’m tired of everyone thinking I need to be protected. I can take care of myself.” She spat, and with that turned and stalked off towards the common room, taking her anger out on a couple of first years nearby that were talking a little too loudly. Stupid, ignorant, know-it-all witch; she has no idea what guys think about when they see her. Too many times have I overheard the other guys in Slytherin talking about her looks, though they would never do anything, with her being muggleborn and all, he thought, the scowl on his face becoming more pronounced as he stalked off down the hall, not quite sure where he was going, knowing only that he wanted to be as far away from her as possible.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            Hermione rolled over in bed, bringing her watch to her face, sighing as she noticed the time. It was a quarter after three and she had been lying in bed all night, fuming over what Draco had said. She didn’t need to be treated like a child, she had helped Harry and Ron find all of the Horcruxes Voldemort had made and defeat each one, for Merlin’s sake. She sighed before rolling out of bed and walking down the stairs to the common room. She noticed Harry sitting on the couch, also awake, and took a seat beside him, leaning her head on his shoulder.

            “Thinking about Ginny?” she asked quietly.

            “Yes. Terry asked you to the ball didn’t he, along with Malfoy?”

            “You knew then?”

            “I could tell by the way he was flirting with you at the Leaky Cauldron. Who did you say yes to?”

            “Neither, though, judging by the row I had today with Draco, it’ll be Terry.” She said, shivering slightly. Harry leaned to the edge of the couch, managing to just reach the blanket that lay there. He gently draped it over her, letting her rest against him. She quietly fell asleep before Harry could ask her another question. Well, its official, he thought, my best friend likes Malfoy. This year is going to be more complicated than I thought.

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

            Pansy tapped her wand to the top of her head and added shine to her long, black hair. She straightened her green silk pajama dress and walked back to her bed, sitting on it, facing Daphne Greengrass. Daphne has long blonde hair, which she wears in beautiful curls at all times. Most girls were jealous of her looks and felt intimidated when she was around, but Pansy knew better. She had immediately befriended the girl, to have her as a friend would only help to improve her image, just like being on the arm of Draco Malfoy would help raise her standing the wizarding world.

            “Will you be attending the ball with Draco?” Daphne asked, using a spell to add a beautiful shine to her nails.

            “Of course we are. Draco and I are meant to be together, our parents arranged for us to marry years ago. Once we graduate, it’s only a matter of time before the actual ceremony takes place. Who are you set to marry?”

            “Oh, some wealthy guy from a prominent family in France; I’ve met him once and he is incredibly charming.”

            “That’s good.” She said as she spotted Rebecca lying on her bed with an open book in her hands, though her eyes weren’t moving. “I suppose you’re going to the ball with Blaise?” she asked, keeping her eyes on the girl. Rebecca’s eyes shot up and immediately knew she had been caught eavesdropping, though she didn’t look guilty.

            “Yes, Blaise and I will be attending.” She answered, closing the book and placing it on her nightstand.

            “Well, perhaps Draco and I can arrange a sort of double date with you and Blaise; I know the two boys are good friends, it would only be right for the four of us to become a group of some sorts.” Pansy said. Daphne watched the two girls closely, examining the way they acted towards each other.

            “No, that probably wouldn’t be a good idea Pansy. You see, I know Draco and Blaise are good friends, and I know that Draco thinks nothing ill of me, though, I know for a fact that he despises you; can’t stand the sight of you really.” She responded, drawing one side of her curtains to block out Daphne.

            “Who, Blaise? I wonder why on Earth he wouldn’t like me; I’ve only been nice to him.” Pansy fake laughed.

            “No, not Blaise, though, Blaise probably agrees. I meant Draco.” And with that, Rebecca drew the other curtain to block out Pansy. Daphne looked at Pansy with a look on her face that Pansy knew meant she believed Rebecca more than her.

            “She’s obviously lying.” She said to Daphne, before shooting a scowl at Rebecca’s bed. She laid on her bed, drawing the covers to her chin, thinking of all the things she could do to make Rebecca wish she had never embarrassed Pansy like that.

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