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Draco Malfoy wore a scowl as he watched Crabbe and another one of his classmates shove each other through the doorway into the Slytherin common room. Draco could not for the life of him fathom why the act itself elicited long bouts of snorting laughter from them both.

He found he wasn't amused in the slightest - in fact he wanted to murder his housemates. It didn't help that his day had been nothing but a sodding mess from the moment he had opened his eyes. And the most irritating thing of all was that he enjoyed this time of year! He liked the cold weather, the promise of winter and pristine, white snow. He loved that the term was coming to and end and he would no longer be subjected to insipid and pointless lectures in classes that did not interest him. And he loved the holiday, for without fail his mother and father would whisk him away to some strange and exotic location to spend Christmas and he could breathe easily for a month until he had to come back to Hogwarts once more. But the best part was that late autumn was flying season; there was something singularly thrilling about mounting one's broomstick and taking off into the air. Quidditch was one of Draco's most favorite things in the world.

So, being that it was late autumn, the change in seasons was in full swing, the weather was cooler, the term was nearly over and he was spending most of his free time on the pitch, Draco should have been enjoying himself.

But, he wasn't. Because it was only the end of October, he had yet to suffer through Samhain and Pansy Parkinson's worthless divination of their nonexistent future together.

Merlin help me.

As he walked into the common room and stood framed in the doorway, Pansy perked up instantly, her violet eyes sparkling as she offered him a wave and an insufferable simper, all the while whispering and giggling with one of her friends. Draco forced a grimace which he hoped looked like a smile.

Two years before, he had suffered through having to go to the lake and watch her stare at the surface like the worst kind of fool, hoping that she saw his reflection in the water. Then, last year, he had spent the whole of the month of November convincing her that the apple peel she had dropped on the ground the night of Samhain had not fallen into the shape of a "D", but instead, was clearly an "O".

Draco readily admitted that whatever letter it was, could have been a "D", but he sure wasn't going to allow Pansy even a scrap of hope that he was in her future – no way, no how. November was only three days away, and he planned on making sure that this year he wasn't subjected to more of her divination rubbish. And he'd do anything to make that happen.

As he walked into the main part of the common room, he expertly avoided Pansy's gaze, moving instead towards the stairs that led up to the dormitories.

"Draco, I didn't know you'd be here!"

Pansy's annoying voice carried across the room and Draco turned, trying not to wince.

"And where would I be, pray tell? This is still the Slytherin common room, is it not? My bed and all my personal assets were still upstairs, last time I checked."

Pansy giggled.

"Well, someone's in a mood! Did my Drakey have a bad day?"

She offered him a seductive glance no doubt meant for his benefit, but one that did absolutely nothing for him. He couldn't have been less interested in her at the moment, and he loathed the most uncreative pet name she had given him.

"Not that it matters, but yes, I did. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the library."

"Why?" she questioned in surprise.

Draco began to grow increasingly irritated with her.

"Why does anyone go to the library, Pansy? I've got an essay for Potions and some reading to catch up on."

"We could do it together," she murmured suggestively.

Draco thought back to the last time they had "studied" together. It had been exactly a year ago, and only a few weeks before he had started his disastrous relationship with Daphne Greengrass, the purported sweetheart of Slytherin house.

Sweetheart, my arse. More like traitorous whore. I can't believe I even touched her!

At any rate, the entire affair with Pansy had been rather…boring, and the bed too small to be comfortable. Besides, Draco had just realized he couldn't take another moment of her company.

"I'm not interested, all right?"

Pansy took a step back, her eyes flashing indignantly and then she whirled away from him.

"I don't know why I even bother."

He heard her mutter it under her breath, and he wondered the same thing. But, he wasn't too worried about rebuffing her because Pansy was the kind of insipid girl who just didn't give up; he knew she'd be back, foretelling their never-to-happen romantic future with her blasted apple peel and all.

Draco had discovered months ago that he had very little patience for Pansy on a good day, let alone one that had gone so fantastically badly. And this particular day was easily the most rotten one of the whole week.

He had awoken to a pounding headache and the sound of Crabbe and Goyle arguing about something not even interesting enough to recall. He had suffered through Magical History and Care of Magical Creatures, two classes that he couldn't have found more worthless if he had tried. Lunch had been a sordid affair of bite, chew, swallow and ignore Pansy's suggestive giggles and now, he had to sneak around his own blasted common room because the aforementioned had turned into the worst kind of leech. Not only was she a clingy leech, but she was an idiotic, clingy leech, spouting garbage about the future, her true love and a sodding apple peel!

The only part of his day that hadn't been completely insufferable had been when Hermione Granger had taken a bite to her thumb, compliments of the hideous creature that oaf Hagrid had scrounged out of the Forbidden Forest for their lesson.

Now, that had been amusing. Draco wasn't sure why, exactly, only certain that he found Hermione, her brain and her disgusting bushy head of hair unpalatable. Maybe it was that she was clearly the brightest pupil in their year, and try as he might, Draco couldn't quite keep up with the unholy way that she devoured information, processed it and was able to spew it back out on command. Or maybe it was the fact that she was friends with Harry Potter, which was almost a greater sin than her filthy Mudblood status. Whatever it was, Draco had dubbed her worthless and a waste of his time. Except, of course, when something caused her pain or embarrassment, both of which Draco enjoyed immensely.

He found himself distracted by the memory of Granger and their Care of Magical Creatures lesson and didn't move quickly enough to avoid getting plowed into by a pair of giggling girls, one of whom was holding her Divination book. They gave him round-eyed stares and then burst into more giggles, and as they hurried down the stairs, Draco swore he could hear them whisper Pansy's name.

Merlin's saggy tits!

Samhain was just around the corner, and the world was going mad! It was the kind of madness that made him want to slit his wrists, thank you very much.

Grabbing his books, Draco made a hasty decision. He'd go to the library. At least there, he'd be alone and free of Pansy for an hour or so, and seeing as he was desperate, he wouldn't turn up his nose at even a minute's respite. He'd relish a whole sixty, if he could get them.

 




When Draco stepped into the vast, cavernous room that housed the main part of the Hogwarts library, he made a disturbing discovery. Fate didn't mess around when it came to bad days – and apparently this particular day was going to be bad from morning until he lay back down in his bed to go to sleep. Right in front of him a group of Slytherins were laughing and mocking Goyle, who was being tutored by none other than the know-it-all Mudblood Granger, sporting a particularly ugly looking jumper and a bandage on her wounded thumb.

She was leaning across the table reading something from their Charms text, and for a moment, Draco was taken aback by the way the candlelight in the room seemed to make her impossibly frizzy curls alight with color. It must have been just that, a trick of the light- he would never have called her pretty or anything even remotely close.

She wasn't; she never had been. Granger had always been the bookworm. She had always been the girl who stayed behind on weekend trips to Hogsmeade, the one who had two boys as best friends which gave her a lame excuse not to date, even though no one really wanted to date her. She was the one who always raised her hand in class, who always followed the bloody rules, and who probably never had any fun at all. She was annoying, insufferable, and just…plain. There was nothing about her to make her stand out.

How could any boy find that attractive?

Draco couldn't hear what his housemates were saying, but by the tone of the voice that carried across the parchment-scented air, he got the distinct impression that it was extremely derisive. Though he didn't know some of the younger Slytherins, the gang leader was Blaise Zabini, the kind of chap who had a knack for being able to humiliate anyone in any situation. He was surrounded by the ever-present group of Slytherins. Unfortunately, that included raven-haired Daphne, who now held the title of ex-girlfriend.

Thank Merlin for that. Why would I have ever wanted a girl who couldn't keep her knickers on around someone else?

He knew he was bitter, but Draco had found that forgetting Daphne had left him for Zabini was nearly impossible. And he hated seeing her around school because it was a constant reminder of what had happened. And what a complete, sodding prat Blaise Zabini really was.

Draco moved in towards the table, ready to wade into a rather large pot of bubbling tension. It would be quite the distraction from the pesky Pansy situation, anyway.

Zabini was laughing.

"Goyle and Granger. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

The dark skinned boy was smirking down at Goyle, who had turned a particularly vivid shade of pink. Draco decided it was not becoming on him. Granger, however, was flushed with that same, unsightly color. Somehow, he found that it gave her…well, it didn't exactly make her attractive, but at least she no longer looked so plain. Instead, the anger and embarrassment made her brown eyes flash and her cheeks brighten.

She almost looked…decent. Yes, that was it. There was just no way she was pretty.

Just then, he heard Granger reply, her tone tight with discomfort.

"Don't pay them any attention."

She was clearly speaking to Goyle who looked like he had swallowed something nasty, and her face was turned down towards the Charms textbook that lay between them.

Zabini was laughing in a mocking way.

"Come on, Mudblood. Goyle's not a picky sod. Beggars can't be choosers, after all."

The others seemed to be egging him on, and Draco watched with interest, saying nothing. Blaise elbowed the guy next to him, still rather amused at what was transpiring. Then he gave Granger a swift kick, which made the girl jump and glare in his direction.

He only stared down at her contemptuously.

"Where's your apple? All the other ninnies here seem to buy into this Divination stuff, yeah?"

The other boys in the small circle pushed each other around a bit, sniggering. But they stopped when Granger stood, facing their ringleader fearlessly.

"You wish I was like the rest of the ninnies here, do you?"

As she spoke, she managed to give Daphne a scathing look.

Zabini rolled his eyes, offering what Draco knew to be his patented look of disinterest. Most people found it disconcerting, girls thought it was sexy, but Draco believed it made him look like an arse.

Zabini's voice carried what was just the right amount of nonchalance mixed with disgust, and Draco recognized the tone, having used it himself many times.

"Actually, I wish you and the other disgusting Mudbloods weren't allowed in Hogwarts at all."

Draco glanced at Granger only to see her smirk, those brown eyes flashing dangerously.

"Well, unfortunately for you, that's not the case. And, even more sadly, I'm not one of those girls that buys into this Divination claptrap either."

She gathered her books from the table and picked them up.

"That's too bad for you, I guess, because I know boys like you feed off that rubbish. You probably look forward to Samhain every year, don't you? Is that how you measure your own self-worth, Zabini? Do you fancy yourself manly and popular just because of some silly, pointless, nonfactual fortune telling?"

She rolled her eyes, and Draco hid his satisfied smirk behind the textbook he was carrying. It wouldn't do to get involved in Zabini's needless drama, yet he found it amusing that a Mudblood was able to knock him from his pedestal so easily, whilst pegging him as the narcissistic fool that he was. He only hoped that Daphne would recognize it as well, and feel regret at what she had done, choosing Zabini.

"It's sad. Some boys really are smart, funny, popular and fun to be around, and they know it and aren't presumptuous about it. And then there's you, Zabini. It must be awful to have to hide behind some silly theories from a useless class for positive reinforcement, since the reality is that you're actually quite pathetic."

She offered him a saccharine smile.

"I'd rather not waste any more time on you, so I'll be on my way then."

She turned on her heel and walked towards the stacks at the back of the library without looking back. Zabini watched her go in shock, his mouth hanging slightly open.

"The nerve of that little bint!"

Draco thought in some ways, Zabini's anger was justified- after all, no man wanted to be ripped apart in front of his friends, especially by a Mudblood. Luckily, though, it had happened to someone else, and not to him. And he decided he was glad it had happened to Zabini.

I can't think of a traitorous prat more deserving.

The others in the group played the roles of sympathetic friends.

"Ignore her, Blaise," Daphne said in a tone meant to soothe. "Who cares what a Mudblood thinks, anyway?"

Zabini nodded, his jaw still clenched as he glared in the direction the girl had gone. He wore a patented expression of one severely wounded.

"Right." he agreed. "I'm hungry."

Without another word, he stalked towards the exit of the library, ignoring Draco completely as he passed. The blond Slytherin waited for a moment to let the inevitable horde of people leave as well; wherever Blaise went, he took his entourage of stupidity. And the brainless tart he was unfortunate enough to call a girlfriend.

For a moment, Draco felt white-hot rage.

Then, everything was back to normal. The library was mostly empty and quiet, and this was, in the end, what Draco had been seeking. He put his books down on the table that Granger and Goyle had vacated, letting out a rush of air whilst standing and looking around, having no intentions now to actually buckle down and study.

He smirked.

The truth was, in spite of her being a Mudblood, Granger was quite feisty. Who else had the audacity to stand up to Blaise Zabini? That, in itself impressed Draco, though he'd never be as stupid as to actually say it out loud. She was an annoying, bushy-haired brainiac, but Draco could admit that her behavior earlier had been brilliantly tenacious.

Really he was in no mood to actually do something as mundane as schoolwork. In fact, he had a much better idea. Draco glanced around the library furtively for a second time, before hurrying into the stacks in the direction Granger had gone, with a grin on his face. At least, picking on her would get his mind off of Zabini, Daphne, Pansy and the awful, horrible day he was having.

This was going to be fun.
 

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