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- Chapter Three - Griffins and Partners
“Come on, you two, hurry up.” snapped Hermione, looking over at Harry and Ron. They were sitting in the Great Hall eating lunch, and had five minutes to get to Care of Magical Creatures. Harry and Ron were still stuffing their faces as if the only thing in the world that mattered was food. “DubwuriHebionwestihabfubmibuts.” said Ron through a mouthful of chicken. Hermione wrinkled her nose. “Sorry, Ron, what was that? I didn’t seem to catch it, I was too distracted by the half masticated chicken rolling around in your mouth.” Harry snorted into his pumpkin juice and Ron glared, slowly swallowing his food. “I said ‘don’t worry, Hermione, we still have five minutes.’” Ron enunciated each word very slowly, as if speaking to a child. Hermione glanced down at her watch and then back up at Ron. “Actually we only have three minutes, forty-six seconds. I am leaving now and if you two don’t want detention for being late, I suggest you come with me.” With that, she grabbed her bag and marched out of the Great Hall. Harry shrugged and then followed her, Ron close behind. “Its not like Hagrid would give us detention anyway.” murmured Ron as they walked out on to the grounds and down toward Hagrid’s hut. Hermione was just taking her place amongst the other Gryffindors as Harry and Ron caught up with her. They were well away from the Slytherins, who shared this class. Harry smiled to himself and then leaned down to whisper in Hermione’s ear. “How much time do we have left?” Without looking up or even glancing at her watch, Hermione replied, “One minute, eighteen seconds.” Harry and Ron stifled their laughter and waited for Hagrid. He eventually came out from behind his hut, carrying a large cage. The Gryffindors shuffled their feet nervously and several of the Slytherins groaned. It was never a good sign when Hagrid had to keep his lessons in cages. Hermione stood on her tiptoes to get a better look at the animal in the cage. It was large. Its front half was that of an eagle, and its hindquarters were that of a lion. It was staring at the students through beady eyes, and Hermione wasn’t sure if she liked the look. “Alrigh’,” said Hagrid cheerfully, eyeing his class. “Does anyone know what this here is?” Hermione’s hand shot into the air. Hagrid smiled at her and nodded. “This is a griffin.” said Hermione, sounding as if she were reciting from a book. “They are very fierce, and are therefore used to guard treasure. They love to eat meat, no matter if it is dead, or alive.” “Exc’lent!” said Hagrid, clapping his giant hands. “Five points ter Gryffindor.” Harry and Ron smiled brightly at Hermione and the Slytherins glared at her. Hermione heard Malfoy mutter something along the lines of ‘stupid know-it-all.’ She turned to glare at him and then turned her attention back to Hagrid. “Now, I figured we would keep this lesson simple fer today.” said Hagrid, sounding slightly forlorn. “All I want yer to do is sketch a picture of the griffin. I have yer supplies righ’ up here.” The class moved forward to grab parchment from a bag Hagrid was holding. They used their own quills and set right to work. Harry, Ron, and Hermione moved away from the rest of the class and began their sketches. “Well, this isn’t so bad.” said Ron, smiling happily. “I mean, at least we aren’t feeding it, or grooming it, or something. And at least it is still in the cage.” Harry nodded in agreement but Hermione stayed silent. She worked her quill expertly across her parchment, trying to get her picture to look exactly like its live counterpart. Hermione was actually very skilled at drawing, though she wasn’t as good as Dean Thomas. Harry and Ron kept sneaking glances at her drawing, but she didn’t say anything. A small breeze was in the air, licking Hermione’s skin and tugging at her wild curls. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, savoring the scent of the wind. She felt completely relaxed. Across the lawn, Draco Malfoy watched the scene with interest. Granger’s hand was moving slowly across her parchment, probably creating a perfect sketch of the griffin. A small breeze blew through the air, and she closed her eyes. Potty and the Weasel took this chance to copy her drawing. The wind whipped her hair around her face, exotic chocolate locks on creamy skin. “Whatcha lookin’ at, Draco?” grunted Crabbe from behind him. Draco turned around and glared at him, making the bigger boy back off. If there was one thing Draco was proud of, it was the fact that he no longer needed his silly bodyguards. He was strong now, and could take care of himself. Contrary to popular belief, Draco didn’t parade around the school like he used to. He had a lot to think about these days, and spent most of his time alone. This gave him a sense of mystery, of danger. And that led to people fearing him, and therefore respecting him. All Draco had to do was frown, and all of Slytherin House would throw themselves at his feet, begging forgiveness for whatever wrong they may have committed. Draco allowed himself a small smile and looked at Granger again. She was busy sketching once more, and even allowing The-Boy-Who-Wouldn’t-Die and his Red-Headed Sidekick to copy her work. The half-giant walked over to the Golden Trio and looked at their work, smiling broadly and clapping them on the backs, causing Potter and Weasley to shake and Granger’s knees to buckle. Potter and Weasel caught her before she fell. “Alrigh’, class,” called Hagrid, waving his arms to get their attention. “Finish up now. On’y five minutes left.” Draco looked down at his half finished sketch and rolled his eyes. He hated this class; it was pointless. There were more interesting creatures at his Manor. Draco hurriedly finished his sketch, thinking of all the useful things he could be doing instead. “Homework!” boomed Hagrid, oblivious to the groans of his students. “I want you ter take yer sketch and using An Anatomy of Fantastical Beasts label all of the griffin’s body parts. Class dismissed.” Hermione smiled and put her sketch in her bag. “Well, I’m off to Arithmancy.” “I’ve got Divination,” grumbled Ron, frowning. “And Harry has Occlumency with Dumbledore. I guess we’ll see you at dinner.” “Alright, bye.” said Hermione. She hurried up to the castle, waving over her shoulder. Hermione loved Arithmancy. It was her favorite subject, along with Ancient Runes. She had despised Divination, as it just wasn’t practical and couldn’t always be completely accurate. But the study of Arithmancy, using numbers to find out about things, was fascinating. Hermione entered the Arithmancy classroom and took her usual seat at a front table. She smiled warmly at Professor Vector, a tall, skinny woman with graying brown hair and tiny reading spectacles propped on the end of her nose. All of the students were assembled except for Draco Malfoy. He came in the door a moment later and took a seat at the back of the classroom. Professor Vector looked at her class and smiled. “Good afternoon, class.” said Professor Vector in a low voice. “I am pleased to inform you that I have finally decided what you shall do for your projects. I am going to put you in pairs, and you shall work together to come up with a project about a certain witch or wizard who made a difference in the world of Arithmancy. Now, I have already decided who your partners are going to be according to your work level.” Professor Vector took a long piece of parchment off her desk and started ticking off names. “Mandy Brocklehurst and Lisa Turpin, Terry Boot and Hannah Abbot, Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, Ernie Macmillan and…” Hermione froze in her seat. She blinked several times and stared at the professor as if she hadn’t heard correctly. She couldn’t possibly be with Malfoy, could she? No. She couldn’t be. There must be a mistake. She wasn’t working with Malfoy. But, said a little voice in the back of Hermione’s mind. If you work with Malfoy, you will be able to observe him. Then you can figure out what is different about him, what he is hiding. In the back row, Draco was going through a similar predicament. He couldn’t stand the stupid mudblood and her know-it-all remarks, but if it meant coming closer to figuring out her secret, he would somehow suffer through it. And, thought Draco, grinning to himself, I will be able to annoy the crap out of her while I’m at it. Sometimes, life was just too perfect. “Now!” called Professor Vector, raising her voice over the chatter of the students. “Please go and sit with your partner. These will be your new assigned seats.” Hermione groaned and turned in her seat to glare at Malfoy. He smirked at her, crossing his arms over his chest and sliding lower into his chair, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. Hermione huffed at him and quickly gathered her things. It was obvious the ferret wasn’t planning on moving. Hermione threw her bag down next to her new chair and started arranging all her papers on the table. If she pretended that Malfoy wasn’t there, she could still enjoy this lesson. “Hello, Granger.” said Draco coldly, not bothering to lift his head or open his eyes. Hermione didn’t respond. She stared at the professor and started taking notes on their projects. “Now, I would like your projects to include a foot and a half of information on your chosen witch or wizard.” said Professor Vector, eyeing her class through small dark eyes. “Information needs to include a bit of background history, how your subject got involved with Arithmancy, and where the profession led them. Your projects will be due in two weeks time.” Hermione took notes for the rest of the class. She didn’t speak to Malfoy once, and he kept quiet as well. As soon as class was dismissed all Hermione wanted to do was meet Harry and Ron for dinner, but first she needed to confront Draco. She followed him out into the corridor but he took no notice of her. “Malfoy!” called Hermione, before a throng of students could separate them. Draco stopped and turned around, a small smirk adorning his handsome face. “What is it, Granger? I know you find me irresistible but is it really that important that you feel the need to talk to me right after class, when you could have talked to me in class?” Hermione took a deep breath to remain calm. When she spoke her voice was somewhat strained. “I was just going to suggest that we meet sometime in the library to work on our project. If you think for even a minute that I am letting you work on this without my supervision you are sorely mistaken.” Draco’s smirk fell to be replaced with a frown. “And if you think that I would let your filthy hands soil my good grade then you are sorely mistaken.” he paused here for dramatic effect, enjoying the sight of the mudblood clenching and unclenching her fists. “Tomorrow is Saturday. Meet me in the library after breakfast.” With that he turned and left for the Great Hall. Hermione waited ten seconds and then headed for dinner herself. She spotted Ron and Harry already sitting at the Gryffindor table and took a seat between them. She slumped down on the bench and put her head in her hands. “How was Arithmancy, Hermione?” asked Harry, although from the looks of things he knew it couldn’t have been good. He started scooping potatoes onto her untouched plate. “Terrible.” mumbled Hermione, massaging her temples. “Professor Vector assigned projects today, and they are really interesting and I have been looking forward to them all week.” “Well what’s the problem then?” asked Ron, who was currently dishing carrots and peas onto Hermione’s plate. “No peas, thanks, Ron.” Hermione told the redhead. “Well, we were assigned partners to work with. Guess who mine is.” Both boys frowned and looked at Hermione with concern. “Don’t tell me-” started Harry. “It can’t be-” interrupted Ron. “Malfoy.” finished Hermione, looking terribly glum. “Want me to kill him for you?” asked Ron, looking completely serious. “If he’s dead you can get a new partner.” Hermione smiled. “That sounds great, Ron, thanks.” she laughed and started slowly eating her food. “But seriously, I don’t know how much of him I can take. We’re meeting in the library tomorrow after breakfast to start our projects.” “Do you want us to go with you, Mione?” asked Harry, taking a sip of pumpkin juice. “We’ll be happy to go with you.” Ron nodded. “That’s sweet, guys,” said Hermione. “But you don’t need to. I can take care of myself. And besides, you would be bored out of your minds.” “Alright, Mione,” said Ron. “But if he hurts you…” Ron drew a finger across his throat. Hermione rolled her eyes. Both boys smiled slightly and turned back to their plates. Hermione sighed and pushed her food around. She suddenly didn’t feel that hungry. Later that night in the Common Room, Hermione had all her homework piled around her. She was just finishing labeling the parts of the griffin. “Harry, Ron!” she called, searching for them amongst the busy students. Harry looked up from a Potions Essay and Ron looked up from yet another Divination dream diary. “Have you two finished labeling your griffins?” asked Hermione. They nodded. “Great! Hand them over and I will charm them so the picture moves.” Harry and Ron searched amongst their parchments and then threw two at Hermione. She caught them and checked to make sure all the right parts were labeled. When she was sure everything was right, she whispered a spell and the griffins started moving around the page. Hermione cast the same charm on her own sketch. Harry and Ron came and took their homework from her, admiring her charm work. “Thanks, Hermione. This is great.” said Ron, smiling happily. “You're welcome.” said Hermione, standing up. She yawned and stretched her arms. “I am exhausted. See you two in the morning.” “Good night, Mione.” they called. Hermione quickly changed into her pajamas, ignoring the chatter of Lavender and Parvati. She pulled the hangings around her four-poster and snuggled in under her blankets. Hermione hadn’t been able to do any research on Elementals today. She had been much too busy. And she still hadn’t told Harry and Ron about her suspicions, because she wasn’t entirely sure if she was an Elemental. But she felt the need to tell someone. Ginny. That’s whom she would tell. Hermione knew she could trust Ginny with anything. Hermione closed her eyes and welcomed the world of darkness that sleep brought to her.
Author's Note: Thanks again to all my wonderful reviewers! You have no idea how much I appreciate it! I hope you like chapter three!

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