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“Reckon it’d be nice to marry Harry Potter someday, from what I heard, he’s got a lot of gold on his hands.” “I don’t believe you! I never thought you as that much of a material girl. Personally I would prefer to get asked out by Oliver Wood. He’s famous, playing for…what was it? Puddlemere, isn’t it?” “Oh no…Draco Malfoy’s my choice. His family’s got lots of influence, even though his father was a Death Eater. They got lots of money too, and from what I hear, they’re very popular.” “Damn right you are,” the first girl replied. “They’re popular only with the dark side and Azkaban guards! What are you, out of your head?” Hermione sighed. It was hard going to the girls lavatory in the morning when it was bombarded by groups of giggling girls. One moments privacy was just asking a little too much. “Personally I prefer Fred Weasley, he’s a hottie.” “No way! George is way better than Fred.” “What’s the difference anyway?” the girl who favored Draco Malfoy scoffed. “They’re identical, for Merlin’s sake.” “George’s got a scab on his knee,” the Fred Weasley shipper said. “Fred’s got a burn on his wrist,” the other retorted. Hermione sighed again. This time the five girls noticed her and looked at her. “What do you want?” Draco Malfoy’s groupie asked. “I just want to interject into your futures and your upcoming husbands, if it’s okay with you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Harry’s going out with someone,” she said, even though it wasn’t like her to gossip. “Yeah, I heard he’s going out with that Ginny Weasley,” Fred’s shipper said. “And you didn’t tell me?” Harry’s fan said, looking wistful. Fred’s shipper just shrugged and motioned Hermione to carry on. “Oliver Wood’s too old for you, plus I heard he just got engaged to Puddlemere’s chaser.” Oliver’s follower burst into tears, Draco’s groupie looked on the verge of gloating, and Harry’s fan patted her on the back. Hermione continued. “Draco’s betrothed to Pansy Parkinson, doesn’t anyone know anything?” Draco’s groupie stuck her chin in the air and pointed accusingly at Hermione. “Liar! Liar! I don’t believe you!” “Fred’s with Angelina Johnson and George’s with Alicia Spinnet,” she said, ignoring Draco’s groupie’s comment. “What about you, Hermione?” Harry’s shipper, a third year Ravenclaw named Ebony Roman. “Who do you like?” Oliver’s fan, Claudia Knapp, who was also in Ravenclaw, inched closer to Hermione. “Yeah, Herm. You can tell us, you overheard all our crushes, so you can spill without the secret getting out.” “Speak on it, girl,” Fred’s follower, a Gryffindor named Roxanne Carter, said. The girl who favored George, Aurelia Chan, Hufflepuff, nodded hopefully. “I know who she likes,” Draco’s groupie, Cassia Avery said, her voice cold and drawling. Slytherin, no doubt. “Tell me!” Aurelia grinned. “It’s that Muggle-lover, Ron Weasley, isn’t it?” Cassia said, smirking. The four girls stared in horror at Cassia, not at her words, but how dare she speak like that to the Head Girl. “Cassia, don’t,” Aurelia pleaded. “What are you gonna do, Mudblood?” Cassia sneered. Aurelia looked hurt, and Claudia hugged her tightly before the four realized the insult was meant for Hermione. The four girls seemed to hold their breaths, and looked back and forth at Cassia and Hermione. Hermione was practically livid, and was trying to calm herself. Cassia was still sneering at her. Hermione was taking short but deadly steps towards the third year Slytherin. The other girls scattered to make a path for her. SLAP! Three of the girls had winced, but Roxanne had seen the whole thing, wide eyed and goggling. It wasn’t Cassia that had hit Hermione, it was the other way around. It appeared that suddenly Cassia was afraid and had realized her mistake, and did the first thing that came to mind; slapped Hermione. “I think that will be twenty points off Slytherin,” Hermione said in such a venomous voice that even the other four girls shivered. “And detention for a week. I’ll tell Professor McGonaggal to be expecting you tonight at five.” “But you can’t do that!” Cassia whined. “Today’s Valentine! I’ll still be in Hogsmeade trying to win Draco’s heart!” “Bet you she can,” Ebony whispered to Roxanne. “Bet you she will,” Roxanne replied. “Watch me, young lady,” Hermione growled. “And I will take away your Hogsmeade privileges, starting today!” Cassia whimpered. “Please don’t." Hermione ignored her. “That bitch, I’m going to get her,” Cassia said. Hermione disregarded Cassia and exited the girls room, and entered the Great Hall. After talking to McGonaggal about Cassia Avery, she went to join her two best friends at their usual seats at the Gryffindor table. “What’s up, ‘Mione?” Ron asked, as she sat down. “You look…angry.” “Well, I just blew off some Slytherin called Cassia Avery, heard of her?” Hermione said, piling some food on her plate. “Yeah, she’s that rule breaker, isn’t she? Dark locks, pale skin, really skinny—but curvy—who needs a major attitude adjustment?” Ron asked, stuffing some pie into his actually empty mouth. “Yes—how do you know?” she asked, slightly amazed. “Guys, mind if I sit with Ginny?” Harry suddenly asked. “Sure,” Hermione said, and Harry was gone in a flash. “Well, I’ve caught her out of bounds about twenty eight or twenty nine times after curfew,” Ron shrugged. Hermione was astonished. “You actually did some of your prefect duties?” “’Mione, that hurt.” “Sorry.” “Anyway, twenty of the times I caught her she was snogging behind the statue in the Charms corridor. Each time with a different guy. The other seven or eight times, she was placing gum in the doors, or pelting Dungbombs at Mrs. Norris,” he said. Hermione was speechless. As she stared at Ron, she was noticing other minor differences that made her heart beat faster as well. “What were you talking about anyways?” Ron asked, cutting off her thoughts. “Er-um…well…” “Well?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. She stuttered. “Er-b-boys…kinda.” Ron suddenly looked interested. “Yeah?” “Yeah, they were talking about their future husbands and stuff,” she said, reluctant to say her own secret had been spilled there. “Anybody wants Ronald Weasley as their husband?” he grinned. Yeah. Me. “No…nobody,” she lied. His face fell, and she regretted it. “Tell me all about it,” he ordered. Hermione was helpless but to do what he said. “Cassia Avery wants Draco so much to be her husband. She even considered blowing off detention ‘trying to win Draco’s heart’. In her own words.” Ron looked like Christmas had come early. “And?” “Ebony Roman likes Harry,” she said. “That stunning Ravenclaw with sleek blond hair?” “Stunning?” Hermione raised one eyebrow. Ron grinned. “You have to admit, she’s quite pretty.” “Yeah, but one would wonder how the hell she got in Ravenclaw, because it seemed like she had no brains!” Hermione’s voice had raised with each syllable. She suddenly felt a surge of jealousy, though no Head Girl in her right mind would be jealous of a third year Ravenclaw who was blond. “Chill, ‘Mione. Gee, you seem uptight today,” Ron said, looking taken aback by her sudden outburst. “So, who else?” “Claudia Knapp from Ravenclaw, has a huge crush on Wood. When I told her he was engaged she burst into tears,” Hermione said, a smile playing on the corners of her mouth. “Which one would she be?” Ron asked. “Red hair,” she said. Claudia Knapp was no natural redhead like the Weasleys. She had dyed her hair bright red. “Oh. Who else?” “Roxanne Carter likes Fred, and Aurelia Chan favors George.” “Roxanne Carter the gorgeous one with shiny light brown hair? And Aurelia that hot Asian with black curls?” Ron asked. “I don’t see why any of them would be classified as pretty, both of their heads as thick as Crabbe and Goyle,” Hermione snapped. “Alright, alright. Anyone fancies Ron in there?” he asked, a lopsided smile on his face. “No, Ron, how many times—“ “Nobody who fancies Ron with brown hair, big front teeth, and Head Girl this year?” he interjected. “Ron!” she screeched. “I do not fancy you!” “You don’t?” he asked, his voice just above a whisper. His face fell, but he hid it just as the morning post arrived. A smart snowy owl dropped a pink parchment in front of Hermione. She let it lay, studying Ron’s face for a while. “Well, maybe I fancy you a little,” she said, giving in to his sad expression. “Don’t fancy me from pity,” he said. “I don’t,” she replied. “You really fancy me a little?” he asked, his face shining with hope. “Well, maybe more than a little,” Hermione said. She felt this was the right time to reveal her feelings to Ron. “How much more?” Ron asked, grinning. Hermione’s temper was short-circuited today. “Ron, don’t play with me,” she warned. “I’m not. I just want to know,” he said. “How much more?” “Ron, you idiot, I like you a lot, okay? I’m even brave enough to say I love you!” she said quietly but quickly. She got no reaction from Ron, and she snatched her letter up from the table and she stormed away. “What did I do now?” Ron wondered silently.

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