Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or events.


Chapter 2: The First Task

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The year was not looking good for Hermione. She spent most of her summer at the burrow for good measure and attended the World Quidditch Cup, only for it to be ransacked by death eaters later that night.

She had a surprise encounter with Malfoy in the woods, but the meeting had been sour. Harry and Ron were not making things easier for her, and Malfoy was being an arrogant prat as usual. It was extremely difficult for her to pull the two boys away, but as she did, she realized that he had called her a mudblood again, taunted her, and she hadn't cared. Or maybe she was too concentrated on the fact that there were screaming muggles a short distance away.

Then the Dark Mark was shot into the sky, and the adults erupted in mass panic. Mr. Crouch's house-elf was sacked under the pretense of using a wand and casting the dark mark in the sky—honestly, like she even knew how to do such a thing, and Ron's father was having trouble at the ministry due to a poorly written article.

In short, things were not looking up for her.

The morning after returning to Hogwarts and having the Triwizard Tournament announced, the whole school was buzzing. Hermione begrudgingly began to eat again after finding out about the mass of house-elves making their food. She wanted to do something about the their poor situation, but starving herself just wouldn't do. She needed to think.

Once breakfast was over, McGonagall was standing at the head of their table, handing out their timetables for the year. She took hers with a quick mutter of thanks and scanned the parchment.

Her heart stopped.

There was another neatly printed timetable right under hers. She didn't see a name but knew immediately whom the other schedule belonged to.

Malfoy.

Under his schedule were three words written in elegant script.

Remember the laws.

Her mouth went dry, and Hermione did her best to resume breathing. It was unmistakably Dumbledore's handwriting—and his doing. She glanced at McGonagall who had handed her the timetable without a second glance. Was it possible that he had informed her head of house about it?

"Hey Hermione, what's your schedule like?" Ron asked, snatching the paper from her hands before she could react.

"Ron—no, give it back!" she gasped, reaching for the parchment but he pulled it away.

"You dropped Divination for Arithmancy?" he grumbled. "Who's going to help me and Harry with homework? Ah—and no free periods as usual."

Hermione's heart lodged in her throat, but Ron simply handed the sheet back to her with a snort. She took it with shock. Why hadn't Ron said anything? She was sure he would have asked about the second timetable under hers. After giving another glance at the paper, she concluded that it had probably been charmed for her eyes only. Nothing else made sense.

She read through her timetable again, memorizing the classes and finally read through Malfoy's class list. She had double potions with him on Friday, and was enrolled in Arithmancy and Care of Magical Creatures—much to her surprise. She had assumed he would have dropped the class after the rather dramatic events with Buckbeak and trying his best to get Hagrid sacked last year. Malfoy also had his free period, Wednesday before dinner. It was during the same hours she had History of Magic.

Sighing, she folded the offending piece of parchment and tucked it in her robes. Even though no one could read it, she felt safer with the information stored away.

The Gryffindor tower was bustling with noise as usual. Fred and George were attempting to find some way to participate in the tournament, Lavender and Parvati had already started gossiping about who-knows-what, and Harry and Ron were somewhere in their rooms, unpacking and probably complaining over the fact that Quidditch had been postponed for the year.

It were moments like these Hermione felt that she should have been placed in Ravenclaw, surrounded by other friends who deliberately chose to think about classes tomorrow. She was reading the spell book for grade 4, flipping through each one with relative ease.

She had Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid, and Arithmancy with Professor Vector tomorrow. Both classes were something she had no worries about, but her stomach was sinking deeper, and she knew that her solo mission needed to be put into action soon.

Just thinking of Malfoy was giving her a headache. She had run into him twice now, and she had barely been able to hold Harry and Ron back, much less her own annoyance. How was she going to help him? Or have him see that he was making the wrong choices in life? Groaning, she closed the book shut, and decided to formulate a plan. And maybe a few backup plans while she was at it.

Wednesday could not come faster. Malfoy had tried to cause trouble with Hagrid in class, she had intervened for the old game keeper's sake; he sat directly behind her in the twelve student Arithmancy class—she had ignored him to the best of her ability, and to top it off, he had briefly been turned into a ferret by Professor Moody and tossed around like a muggle bouncing ball after almost blasting Harry's ear off.

The moment History of Magic ended, Hermione's stomach was twisted into knots. She mumbled something to Harry and Ron about going to the library and found herself in a deserted hallway. She glanced around, making sure she was truly alone, and slowly pulled the Time Turner from under her robes. Concentrating on breathing, she gave the clock two spins, and watched as the instrument activated, sending her two hours back in time.

Blinking her eyes, she recognized her surroundings. She was currently on the fourth floor, her other self most likely making her way to History of Magic a half hour early. She cast a disillusionment charm on herself and felt her body melt into the background.

Hermione darted through the halls and held her breath. If Malfoy were in the common room, there would be no way she would be able to talk to him. After racking her brain for his timetable, she remembered that he was just finishing Charms, and hurriedly ran down to the Professor Flitwick's classroom, arriving just as the large double doors boomed open, revealing the Slytherin and Ravenclaw students.

Malfoy appeared with Crabbe and Goyle walking a few steps behind. He had his usual nasty look on his face and said something to the two large dimwits. They seemed to shrug and nod, soon walking in the other direction. He turned on his heel, and began walking towards the staircase.

She followed him silently, keeping a large distance between the two. She narrowed her eyes and wondered where he was headed, when he began walking through familiar hallways that Hermione could have mapped out blindfolded in her first-year. Sure enough, the large doors of the library came into view. She rushed ahead as he stepped into her sanctuary, quickly following him in before the door could shut.

He walked towards the back of the library where there were sets of tables and comfy work chairs for students to find a quiet place to read or relax. He pulled out a chair near one of the larger windows with the view of the Quidditch pitch and spread his work over the table. She counted his short stack of textbooks with parchment and saw a bottle of ink and quills being placed on the wood.

Hermione stood at the end of a long bookshelf, observing him quietly. She was still far away to make a run for it if needed be, but close enough that she could make out his expression. It was odd. She inwardly snorted. What was she thinking? This was far from odd. It was demented! She was watching her arch nemesis do his homework, and did it willingly with borrowed time.

Malfoy seemed perfectly at ease. His shoulders were relaxed, and he had his feet propped up in front of him, a large book in his lap. His head was tilted to the side and leaning against his hand; it reminded her of those television commercials she saw back home advertising a vacation at the Caribbean and relaxing in high-class hotels.

She wondered how long she should observe him for. It didn't look like he was going to make some life changing decision anytime soon. What would she even talk about? How would she approach him? She inwardly laughed at herself. She never thought she'd one day be in the library trying to figure out how to willingly talk to Malfoy. The future looked grim indeed.

Hermione doubted she could simply walk up to him and ask how he was doing. She sighed; she had to start somewhere. Taking a deep breath, she released the disillusionment charm on herself and began walking through the bookshelves. She trailed her fingers along the spines, and cracked a few books open, making the smallest of noises to have her presence known.

The shelves were staggering in height, so she couldn't see Malfoy, but neither could he see her. After grabbing a spell book she had checked out seven times before, she rounded the corner.

Hermione decided to have a moment of hesitation before she turned to notice him.

One…

Two…

She flipped her head towards his direction, and sure enough, he glanced back. His face immediately shifted into his trademark sneer, and his previous relaxed posture was quickly replaced by the slant of his shoulders and a slight rise in his chest.

"Well, if it isn't Granger," he jeered. "Why is a mudblood running around without her keeper?"

Her hand tightened around the book, but she managed to keep her voice leveled. "Nothing much—What's the delicate little prince doing without his most trusted bodyguards?"

"Watch yourself," he warned, his grey eyes flashing with annoyance. "Wouldn't want to end up in the Hospital Wing so soon into the year."

Breathe.

Think of Dumbledore!

"Oh—" she raised an eyebrow. "Why don't you try it? You are after all, the Amazing Bouncing Ferret."

So much for thinking.

He was on his feet the next second, the book in his lap snapped shut and smacked on the table, wand out and pointed at her.

Hermione wasn't any slower.

"I only happened to miss Potter on Monday because Professor Moody got in the way." His eyes widened dangerously. "But there's no one to save you here, mudblood."

Hermione bit back her response and opted for a feral growl from the back of her throat. They locked eyes, and for a moment, she could hear nothing but the sound of her own heartbeat. Her lip curled into a furious snarl, and her fingers shifted the wooden wand for a cleaner grip.

This conceited, prissy, moronic bag of bollocks—

You must put aside your differences and try to see him for the person he is, not the person he thinks he is.

Her focus wavered.

Mr. Malfoy was taught to hate you.

Her wrist lowered.

He is now depending on you, Miss Granger.

Hermione swore loudly, retracting her arm and tearing her gaze from Malfoy's.

She saw a flash of surprise in his face, but she turned on her heel and dove away, partially afraid he would try and hex her as her back turned. She rounded the corner again, slapping her forehead with the palm of her hand.

For heaven's sake! This was single-handedly the hardest thing she ever had to do: be civil to Malfoy.

He was the most self-centered arse to ever walk the earth! How on earth was she going to help change his views? They couldn't be in each other's presence without whipping out wands within the next minute.

Sighing, she slumped down on one the cushiony chairs and set the book on the table. She closed her eyes and replayed their conversation. Where had it gone wrong? Well, talking to him in the first place was wrong, but she couldn't count that.

He had taunted her first, so she had every right to retort back.

Then he threatened to send her to the Hospital Wing, so she was only retaliating in turn.

She groaned, realizing her mistake. Malfoy may have provoked her, but she had a choice the respond in kind or not.

In the end, she had let him get the best of her.

Her stomach felt like it was being eaten through by acid. She wanted to go back there and yell out her frustrations, but cut the thought. It would be too suspicious to try and talk to him again—after all; she had never willingly gone up to him to have a nice conversation in her life.

She figured if he came to the library every free period, she would have to battle with him once a week. And much to her vexation, she had lost the first one.

Hermione and checked her watch. It had only been ten minutes since they had walked in. Throwing her head back, she closed her eyes and replayed the conversation over and over again. Trying to remember his facial expression, or his tone of voice. If she was going to convince him—or persuade him, whatever—she needed to notice the subtle signs.

The next two hours ticked by slowly, and after checking that Malfoy was deeply absorbed in his book, she slipped around to the bookshelf behind him, returned the spell book she had taken and walked out of the library.

She entered the Gryffindor common room, noticing Harry and Ron musing over fake predictions for their Divination homework. Harry was the first to look up.

"Back already?" he asked.

She gave a quick glance at her wristwatch and inwardly cursed her lack of thought. It was five minutes past the bell ring for History of Magic, so to them, she had practically walked to the library and back. She simply shrugged, hoping they wouldn't delve too deep.

"The book I wanted had already been checked out."

"Oh," said Harry, not sounding very interested. He turned back to his Divination homework and bantered with Ron again.

Quietly sighing, she turned on her heel and began to walk up to the girl's dormitory. She needed a vague plan, as much as she didn't want to make it. Malfoy was a wild card; she could never expect him to act a certain way and could easily say something that could make her lose control. She needed an outline, and time was ticking again.

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Hermione was beginning to embrace her inner Slytherin side. Not that she had much in the first place, but after two weeks of observing—stalking, really—Malfoy, she had become quite adept that picking up the smallest of movements and expressions, and staying relatively out of sight. She decided she would simply watch him before trying to talk to him again. Her first attempt had gone terribly, simply because she had rushed. Talking to Malfoy would take a lot of time and effort, just like Dumbledore said.

It was the third week in, History of Magic had ended with the bell ring, and Hermione waved to Ron and Harry—both of them already understanding that she would be in the library. Making her way to the familiar empty corridor on the seventh floor, she gave the Time Turner two spins and saw two hours fly by in reverse.

She cast the disillusionment charm on herself and set her walk to the Charm's class where Malfoy would be finishing in a few minutes.

Ignoring the usage of the Time Turner, Hermione had turned fifteen, two days ago. There was a small celebration in the Gryffindor room, but was otherwise a passing day. She began tossing around the idea of aging while using the Time Turner. There were multiple books regarding the rules and usage of messing with time, but nothing was certain. The only thing that she clearly remembered relating to her situation was Eloise Mintumble, the unspeakable that went back nearly five hundred years. When she returned, the centuries caught up with her, killing her and causing a few of her relatives to be unborn.

Going by this theory, if she continued to age while using the Time Turner, the age gap between her and those in her year would increase even more. She spent two hours back in time a week—so eight hours a month—if she planned to continue this mission for the rest of the school year, she had about nine more months to go—a seventy-two hour jump, exactly three days. It wasn't much, but Hermione had still yet to count the hours she spend traveling back in time all last year. After doing the math in her head, she concluded that she had quite possibly turned fifteen, six days earlier instead of two.

Feeling rather old, she stopped at the hallway next to the charm's class and watched the large double doors swing open and the students pour out with tired murmurs. Malfoy stepped out with Crabbe and Goyle, and separated ways as usual. She had originally wondered why he dismissed them to go study in the library, and concluded that even she wouldn't be able to study properly with dunderheads like Crabbe and Goyle breathing down her neck every second.

He strode towards the winding staircase to the third floor, and she kept pace with him until they reached the library. Hermione had spent the last two weeks simply watching him after her first loss, but she felt prepared today—she wouldn't fall for his provocations.

He set down his belongings and walked over to the shelves, popping off a few book into his arms after a quick scan. She caught a few of the titles and began formulating her plan.

Malfoy set the stack of texts on his table and sat down in his usual chair, cracking the first spine open. She decided to give him ten minutes of personal studying time before she went in and sabotaged it.

After the set time was up, Hermione released the invisibility charm, and began walking through the shelves, making slightly more noise than necessary. She huffed in impatience when she reached the shelf behind Malfoy and saw that the book she 'wanted' wasn't there. Rounding the corner, she immediately turned to the blonde.

"Oh—Malfoy," he glanced up, scowling. "Did you possibly take Intermediate Transfiguration?"

Hermione walked over to his table, not waiting for his reply. His scowl deepened as he saw the book on top of his stack and snatched it away as she approached.

"So what if I did?" he sneered. "I got my hands on it first—so run along, I'm not giving it to you."

I don't even need the bloody book. Hermione breathed.

"Please?" she asked again. "You're not looking at it right now. It'll only be a minute."

"Not a chance," he repeated. "I wouldn't want to touch the book after your filthy mudblood self looked through it."

There was a victorious glint in his eyes that she caught, as if he had won the battle. He knew it too; it was the taboo word. Once it was said, she had usually screeched at him or stomped away extremely upset. He knew what affected her and had no hesitation in saying it. But it wasn't going to happen.

She pursed her lips. "Are you saying that you're scared? Never thought I'd see the day."

"Scared you say?" he snorted. "More like having common sense to avoid touching what will only taint me."

Patience.

"Why? Is your superior pure blood not strong enough to protect you from my mudblood germs?"

Malfoy's eye twitched, and the corner of his lips pulled by a fraction. Miniscule things that most people never noticed, but after Hermione had been observing him, she knew he was cracking. She had probably surprised him for good measure, referring to herself as a mudblood, thereby removing the weight of the word. If she accepted it, using it to try and aggravate her would be pointless.

"Face it, Malfoy." She pressed. "You're scared of my lowly mudblood germs."

His eye twitched again, but he growled dangerously. "I. Am. Not. Scared." He hissed through his teeth. "Now leave, Granger, before I force you."

She almost wanted to laugh. He had called her Granger again. Hermione placed her hands on the table and leaned forward.

"Prove it. Just give me the book," she insisted. "Like I said before, I'll only have it for a few minutes. Are you really going to hex me over a book?"

His jaw tightened considerably. "A few minutes for you to take it and walk off with it? No. Now leave."

"I'm not going to take it," she replied, satisfied that he had at least considered the idea. "I'll read it right here and hand it back to you."

"And come back in five minutes to read it again when you've forgotten something?" Malfoy sneered. "No. I'm not going to say this again."

"I won't. I don't forget anything after I've read it once, Malfoy," she replied impulsively, realizing her tumble a second too late.

Merlin's balls! She had never meant to say that. Not even Harry and Ron knew about her especially keen memory.

His eyes widened slightly, but again, nothing clearly noticeable. He seemed to briefly consider something before snorting.

"That's impossible, Granger," he dismissed. "If you're going to lie then at least make it believable—barmy Gryffindors."

It was a second later that Hermione realized Malfoy had not told her 'no' and 'leave'. Her heart thudded; this was her opportunity.

"I'll show you," she extended her hand. "I'll read the passage I need from the book and I'll recite it back to you word for word."

His eyes narrowed with obvious curiosity, but his arm refused to hand her the book he snatched away.

Impatient, Hermione grabbed another book from his stack and flipped to a random page. She didn't hear Malfoy yell at her, or try and take the book back. It seemed that he was having quite the internal struggle between his curiosity and his normal rude self.

Feeling somewhat safer that she wouldn't be hexed, she set her eyes down on a new paragraph and began reading, absorbing every word. After blazing through three paragraphs, she raised her head and handed the book to Malfoy. His grey eyes were still narrowed, but he took the book from her.

"Starting from the first cut on page two hundred and forty-eight," she said. His eyes followed her and fell on the intended paragraph.

Hermione then began to read back entire two pages of material, word for word. She saw his eyes widen as she continued, not even missing a single pause when there was a comma or a period. After a minute of reciting, she cut off at the last word and looked defiantly at Malfoy.

"Believe me now?" she asked.

He was quiet for a moment before snapping the book shut. "No," he replied and began to write something on a torn piece of parchment. "For all I know, you could have read the book already." He then tossed her the small scrap, a smirk on his face. "Repeat what I've written there."

She caught the flimsy material with a reflexive twist of her wrist and glanced at the jumble of both letters and numbers written in Malfoy's neat handwriting. She was momentarily distracted by his calligraphy, wondering how a guy had such elegant script. It looked impeccable next to Harry and Ron's clumsy scrawl. Inwardly shaking her head, Hermione stared down at the illogical mess, committing it to memory. She handed the sheet back to him, and he took it, giving her a smug look as if he had caught her.

Inwardly snorting, she began repeating his random characters back to him with perfection. His eyebrows furrowed together once he realized that she had just proved him wrong.

Not only that, but he had taken both the book and the parchment from her after she had 'tainted it'. He seemed to have done it unknowingly, and Hermione wanted nothing more than to rub it in his face. She held that particular feeling back—self-discovery was crucial in learning to change opinions.

Minutes went by in silence, as she waited for him to say something. He was obviously having a difficult time processing that he had been incorrect. Feeling accomplished already, she sighed expressively and tried to look tired.

"You know what, Malfoy," she breathed. "Keep the bloody book. Since you're that unwilling it give it up, I'll leave."

She turned on her heel and stalked away; rounding the corner of a large shelf and plopping down on the chair she usually sat in. Malfoy made no notion that he acknowledged her leaving. She had expected him to shout at her, or hex her for telling him what to do.

The library remained quiet.

Frankly, Hermione wanted to scream with joy. Her plan had been a great success! She had never intended to actually take the book from him. She simply asked for something she knew he wouldn't give, so he would no doubt taunt her again, and she could build her immunity to his insults. It had worked out rather superbly. The only thing she didn't expect was revealing her eidetic memory. It had been an impulsive retort, but Hermione couldn't figure out whether she truly regretted telling him or not.

She never liked revealing her special ability because the muggle children that she was once friends with often teased her about it, or insulted her. It was always one or the other. She guessed that the moment word got out of her memory at Hogwarts, the boys would be relying on her for their homework even more; claiming that she was gifted and it would be easy for her. No way. She knew that Malfoy wouldn't bother telling anyone—who would believe him in the first place? If people managed to think twice about what the Slytherin prince was claiming about the girl he arguably hated the most, he would then have to explain their meeting as well. The man was stuck in a rut.

Smiling, Hermione glanced at her watch. An hour had gone by. She had successfully—in her opinion—had a somewhat civil conversation with Malfoy, no wands were pulled, and all her limbs were still on her body.

She had won today's battle and it felt damn good.

The next hour slipped by rather slowly, Hermione replayed their conversation multiple times, stashing away his reactions and keeping tabs on his expression. After formulating another vague plan for the next week, she pulled out a random book from the shelf next to her and plopped it open, wanting to get some leisure reading time.

She glanced at her watch, estimating that her other self along with Harry and Ron were finishing up History of Magic. Not wanting to repeat her last mistake of returning to early, she decided to stay for another half-hour before going back to the tower.

By the end, Hermione was so into her book that she didn't hear the soft footsteps that approached her. There was a quiet clank on her table, indicating something being dropped. She barely glanced up in time to see a pale hand quickly retract back, the swish of dark robes and white blonde hair rush out of sight.

Dumbfounded, she glanced at the new guest on her table, gasping softy when she saw Intermediate Transfiguration lying flat on the wood, it's presence meaning more to her than she could ever describe.


A/N: Hope you guys liked the chapter! I wanted to get straight into Hermione and Draco's interactions—I pray I did them justice.

Three things I want to quickly explain. One, the events that happen in canon (the books) I will just briefly mention or skip all together. I'm sure you guys don't want to waste time reading stuff that you can look up yourselves in the books. Two, because I'm omitting that, there will be time skips almost every chapter. If there's confusion don't hesitate to ask me. Three, there will be no SPEW. Hermione will still have her unrelenting spirit for the liberty of house-elves, but the actual society will be left out—it just makes things easier for me honestly.

P.S. I love Hermione's declaration in DH when she's talking to Griphook. "Why shouldn't I? Mudblood, and proud of it!" Basically where I got my inspiration for this chapter. Also, I do know she doesn't have eidetic memory, it just seemed right to add it in.

Please Review!

El