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The next day came far too quickly for Hermione’s liking. She groaned as she sat up in her bed, cursing the wisps of daylight that streaked in, sneaking their way through the curtains. Rubbing at her tired eyes, she stepped out of bed and into her slippers as she started to get ready to go down to breakfast.

 

Even though it was still early September, there was still a bite to the crisp autumn air that Hermione couldn’t quite place. She had always been one to get cold easily, but this felt different, more bone-chilling for some reason. She reasoned with herself that she was just tired, and it was the product of her overactive imagination. Whatever it was, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing something.

 

Try as she might, she couldn’t stop her mind from going back to the Quidditch game from the day prior. As soon as the shock from almost being obliterated by a cursed bludger faded from her fingertips, she was honing in on Malfoy - though she hated to admit it. Even with all of their history coming up in quick flashes - the amount of times he’d called her Mudblood meant that the insult meant next to nothing coming from him anymore - she couldn’t wrap her head around why he would do something like that. 

 

Granted, Hermione knew he wasn’t evil - very misguided and a product of his circumstance, perhaps. Whatever the case, she just couldn’t conceptualize the idea of him being anything other than a downright git to her. While what he did is what almost anyone else would have done given the situation, what she couldn’t get past was the fact that it was him of all people who had stepped in.

 

Draco. Malfoy.

 

The boy who literally could not have cared less before if she lived or died - if memory served, he wished her dead in second year - was suddenly coming to her rescue? What was she, a bloody damsel in distress? Hermione had really always hated those characters. She much preferred the strong, independent female types. She knew by now that she could hold her own in just about every aspect, and she’d fought over and over again in every way she could think of to prove that to herself - and everyone else. Hermione had always felt that she, more than anyone, had to earn her place in this world, and even though it never sat quite right with her, she couldn’t help it.

 

She hated to admit to herself that something so trivial had caught her off guard. Even worse, she came to the sickening realization that she now owed him one.

 

Hermione held back a shudder as she mulled over what he might choose to cash in. She couldn’t imagine that she had anything to offer him - maybe he’d ask her to do his homework for a month? Honestly, it was damn lucky that he had no idea about the Map or the cloak.

 

She pinched the bridge of her nose as she shut her eyes and forced herself to exhale slowly. Why was she thinking about this so much? She knew that he sure as hell wasn’t. She made herself snap out of it as she gathered her textbooks, shoving them haphazardly into her bag. At the last second, she grabbed her time turner from under her pillow, putting it in an inside pocket. She liked to keep it close to her when she slept, since that was when she was most vulnerable. 

 

Hermione knew she was lucky that Dumbledore was letting her use a time turner again - she wanted to take so many extracurriculars, and she had a constant nagging feeling that she wouldn’t be very worried about Ancient Runes next year. By now, the professors at Hogwarts knew how headstrong Hermione Granger was when it came to her studies. She was granted this request without much trouble or objection. At least, if there was any, she didn’t know about it. It was probably better she didn’t - she would have tried to figure out why. 

 

She headed into the Great Hall, sliding in smoothly next to Ron and across from Harry. They were still going on about the Quidditch game from the day before. She tucked into her toast and eggs, effectively tuning out their conversation. Hermione could never quite understand their fascination with the sport, but then again, they couldn’t grasp why she was so intrigued with academics. To each their own, she supposed.

 

Her attention was redirected suddenly when she realized Ron was talking to her. “Sorry, what? I zoned out for a second,” Hermione said as she gave him her attention. 

 

“We were just talking about what happened yesterday with the Bludger. Harry and I were trying to figure out what caused it. Hooch was the angriest we’ve ever seen her,” he repeated, shaking his head slowly in leftover disbelief. 

 

Harry chimed in, “Dumbledore and McGonagall called all of the Quidditch captains into a meeting to ask if we knew anything. I thought I’d seen McGonagall mad, but this was a new level,” he stated, shuddering a bit at the memory. She knew full well how terrifying her professor could be when she got protective.

 

Hermione shook her head, widening her eyes as she took in the new information. “I told them all not to worry about it. I wasn’t hurt, and it’s not something we should be focused on when Voldemort is systematically working his way through taking over the Ministry and the Prophet. There are clearly bigger priorities than what happened yesterday,” she said nonchalantly, stirring honey into her tea.

 

Ron’s expression changed and he stared at her like she was batshit crazy. “Are you kidding? Everyone knows that you’re in danger - a Muggle-born and one of Harry’s best friends. You are walking around with a giant target painted on your back and it’s a bigger risk than you realize. You need to be careful Hermione,” he said, his voice growing quiet with his admission, “You know we couldn’t do any of this without you.” Ron’s eyes were suddenly blazing with a quiet fire behind them.

 

Hermione’s mouth quirked up on one side and her eyes softened as she absorbed the intensity of his words. “I know you both care about me, and I know how protective you can be. But I'm asking you not to worry about this. You two know better than anyone that I am fully capable of holding my own just fine. I’ve made it this far with you lot, haven’t I?” she implored. “Besides, I’m hoping that Harry will drop his Malfoy obsession now that he quite literally saved my life,” she hinted, looking pointedly at the dark haired boy.

 

Harry returned her stare, shoveling a forkful of eggs into his mouth. “Not likely,” he said after he swallowed his food. “I know he’s up to something, I can feel it. I don’t know what it is though, but I’m telling you, something is different about this year.” Harry turned around, faking a stretch as he snuck a glance at Malfoy.

 

She had never quite understood her best friend’s infatuation with Draco Malfoy. It was getting ridiculous really, at this point. They were already in their sixth year, and every time they’d suspected him so far it had always turned out to be someone else. It was time to give up on the Slytherin - clearly it had been established time and time again he was nothing more than your average bully.

 

However, now there was a hint of understanding tickling the back of her mind - even though it was something she hated to admit. She knew it was nowhere near as obsessive as Harry’s of course, but she was starting to catch herself over-analyzing the things Malfoy was doing as she snuck occasional looks at him from across the Great Hall.

 

She shifted her gaze back to Harry as he rambled on about his suspicions, which still sounded to her like they were completely unfounded beyond speculation at this point. She side eyed Ron, who seemed to be following along with Harry quite nicely. She rolled her eyes, before cutting in and interrupting him.

 

“Honestly Harry, don’t you have anything better to do than prattle on about Malfoy? I’ve already forgotten that Draco Malfoy of all people saved my life, and I’ll be expecting you to do the same.” She tried her best to ignore the fact that she just told her best friend a bold-faced lie, and noticed that Harry was rising from his seat. 

 

“Where are you going?” she asked, arching an eyebrow, “We don’t need to leave for Transfiguration for another twenty minutes.” She may have interrupted his stream of consciousness about Malfoy, but the feeling that was resting in her gut said he was going to go stick his nose exactly where he shouldn’t. She had learned over the past five years with the boys that the feeling was almost always correct.

 

“To go find Ginny. I want to talk to her about how we should strategize for the game against Ravenclaw,” the lie rolled off his tongue a bit too easily. She scoffed quietly as she turned away from him, looking back at her book. She’d think that Harry would be a better liar by now, but clearly something was working for him if he’d made it this far without that particular skill. Hermione knew that his tell lied in that he maintained eye contact just a bit too well. He was normally too absorbed in his thoughts to think twice about something like that - but the exception, she’d learned, was when he was lying and wanted to come across as convincing.  She was so distracted by her inner analysis mixed with her reading that she didn’t realize that Malfoy was also rising from his seat.

 

As much as he drove her crazy, she had to continue to indulge him until it got too out of hand. Sometimes, as she very well knew by now, his wild theories paid off. Maybe this time would be one of them.

 

Hermione was still abnormally lost in thought as she headed off early to her first class of the day. As she turned the corner while she left the Great Hall, she almost ran straight into Malfoy. Thankfully, he was alone, so there was no need to worry about any kind of overwhelming confrontation. She was quite fond of the fact that she was able to hold her own against him by now. Hermione bristled slightly as she eyed him, waiting for whatever crude insult he would think up today.

 

“I would have thought you’d be looking for more attention from me by now, Mudblood. Doesn’t the whole 'saving your life’ thing usually have that kind of effect?” he asked, smirking as he did so. 

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “I really thought you’d have a better insult than that on hand, Malfoy, especially since you’ve had so much time to think about it. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be good at those by now?” Draco’s eyes narrowed and his lips curled downward into his nasty trademark sneer. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, unlike you, I have somewhere to be,” Hermione said coldly as she started to push past him. As routine would have it, she should have realized he wouldn’t have that - her getting the last word. He grabbed tight onto the strap of her bag, yanking it off her shoulder and spilling its contents onto the stone floor as gave her a sarcastic, “Oops.”

 

She whirled and met his eyes, knowing exactly what kind of triumphant expression would be showing on his face. Hermione considered, then gave him nothing but her silence - the exact opposite of what she knew he’d expect - as she knelt to pick up her books, shoving them into her bag and storming off to class. 

 

To no one’s surprise, she cursed his name under her breath the whole way there. Nobody was perfect, and as much as she hated to admit it, that statement definitely included her.

 

-

 

Keeping his eyes steadily on her back, he waited until she turned the corner before he pulled the shiny object out from where he’d trapped it under his foot. He examined it, having to admit to himself that he wasn’t fully familiar with it, although it did tug at something in the corner of his memory. He hummed in satisfaction - this was clearly going to set her off once she noticed it was missing. He just needed to keep doing things that would get her attention, whether it be good or bad.

 

As he very well knew, there was a very fine line between love and hate.

 

It didn’t take very long for Draco to figure out what it was he now had in his possession, and oh was he nearly radiating with glee. It was a time turner, and he knew it wouldn’t be long until she realized it was missing. The only thing Hermione would use it for was classes - how completely boring, and oh so her. 

 

He chucked as the snide thought passed through his mind was that she really could have used this yesterday. Draco froze. Yesterday.

 

His excitement tripled, nearly exploding out of him. The unsettling grin that was growing on his face was enough to scare the second year Hufflepuff a few tables over from him into leaving the library entirely. The plan that was forming in his mind was quite possibly the most ingenious plot he had ever concocted. It was a shame no one would ever be able to know about it. If he was actually going to go through with this - which he already knew he was based on yesterday’s events - he knew he didn’t have much time.

 

Malfoy all but sprinted to the first empty classroom he came across, his heart slamming recklessly in his chest. In all of his years as a troublemaker, he had never messed with the space-time continuum before. Needless to say, he was a tad bit nervous.

 

Putting the chain around his neck and taking a deep breath to steady his racing heart, he gave the time turner seven quick twists backward.

 

-

 

Draco exited the classroom stealthily, knowing that the majority of the school would be down on the Quidditch pitch. This worked to his advantage, since he understood more than anything he could not be seen. He honestly was not trying to rip a hole in the timeline today, contrary to what one may believe. 

 

He looked at the clock, realizing that the game was just about to start. He broke into a run, thinking on his feet enough to cast a Disillusionment charm on himself. It wouldn’t be enough should he be caught, but it would have to do for now.

 

He heard the sound of humming coming from behind him, and Draco gave a low oath under his breath as he ducked behind a statue. He held his breath as none other than Loony fucking Lovegood took her sweet time strolling past his hiding spot before stopping and taking a slow look around. She took her time, and he swore that her eyes passed over his hiding spot more than once. He was losing time.

 

Padma Patil came up from behind Luna and grabbed her arm as she walked toward the pitch. “Come on Luna!” the dark haired Ravenclaw said, “We’re going to be late!” 

 

Luna allowed the girl to pull her towards the action. “I was looking for Nargles. The castle always gets infested with them around this time,” she said lightly. And off they went. He let his breathing return to normal as he took off, taking a different path than they did.

 

Draco made it down to the pitch just in time to catch the start of the game. He watched himself and Potter give each other the stink eye as they both ignored Hooch’s pre-game speech. His eyes went straight up to the Gryffindor section to find her. She was sitting alone in the corner, looking annoyed. 

 

He grinned maniacally as he flicked through potential curses to use in his head. He really couldn’t fucking stand her, and although he already knew he was going to fail (or succeed, if you looked at it from a different angle), he was still nearly tingling with the prospect of finally getting to send a curse her way.

 

Maybe if she didn’t have to constantly and effortlessly one up him, he would like her more. He knew she felt out of place here, like she didn’t deserve her magic. It was the only explanation for why she worked so hard. He wished he would have gone to Durmstrang like his father had suggested - they didn’t allow their type into their school. At least then if he had to be second in class rank to someone, it wouldn’t be a sodding Mudblood. 

 

Draco couldn’t fucking wait for her to fall in love with him. He knew she would, it was inevitable, and he was more eager for the prospect of breaking her heart than he had been for anything in his life. He took a calming breath as he selected his curse of choice. It would come in time, he knew, just like everything else.

 

Malfoy focused his attention on the bludger in question and made the motion with his wand as he muttered “nocere scopum” under his breath with conviction. He watched as it took effect and he saw his past self realize what was happening and seize the opportunity. The arena erupted into chaos, and he knew he should take his leave before he was caught. Before he did, he cast a few spells so if anyone were to cast Priori Incantatem on his wand for whatever reason, his tracks would be covered. He wasn’t quite daft enough to realize that Potter would suspect him automatically, even though he had no reason to.

 

He remembered, as he watched himself fly away so nonchalantly, that he had answered his own question from the day prior - Hermione’s eyes were brown. He snorted to himself in irony, leaning against a tree and reaching for the time turner to go back to where he was supposed to be. 

 

Really fitting for her to put the mud in Mudblood without her even realizing, didn’t it? 

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