It was Halloween, and so Hermione knew, Hogwarts had a knack for outdoing themselves during the holidays. However, she wasn't much in the mood for celebrating. In fact, she was in the girls' bathroom crying. For the first time since she had been sent away to the Grangers, did Hermione truly feel alone. In this massive castle, filled with all of the magic and wonder she had been denied, she was, ironically, isolated. It was also in this moment that she hated her life. What she wouldn't give to just be a normal kid instead of having a prophecy looming over her head. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't—
Hermione's mental rant and tears stopped when she heard movement. She had taken this opportunity to cry because no one would be around to see her. She didn't need the pity. Taking a deep breath, she wiped her eyes and exited the cubicle, a well-practiced façade in place to show the world. Outside of the stall, there was no one else there as she had expected. There was, however, a mountain troll.
The enormous and grotesque creature nearly reached the ceiling, and he was dragging a large club behind him. Hermione couldn't believe her eyes. She couldn't move for that matter. She just kept looking up, her back against the stalls and her heart hammering in her chest. Her heart stopped completely when the creature looked down at her.
"Hermione, move!" a voice suddenly shouted.
Hermione immediately dove into the stall she had just come out of, quickly becoming buried in debris as the troll's club crashed through the tops of the stalls in one massive swing. She felt useless as she pushed away debris and crawled towards the sinks. She knew spells. Her Uncle Lucius had taught her advanced magic before starting Hogwarts. She could handle this. She knew she could. It was just…why wasn't her brain working!
Instead of defending herself, Hermione let out a scream for help. She was under the sinks now, scurrying across the room as the troll's club came down on them. From her spot she saw Harry both stupidly and bravely grab the troll's club as it came down and was being hoisted into the air. He was on the troll's head now before being picked off like a bug. He was hanging like a muggle piñata and was bound to be killed if the brainless troll could swing properly. That's when she saw Weasley with his wand out. She couldn't hear what spell he was trying to use, but she recognized the somewhat appropriate wand movements.
"Swish and flick! Swish and flick!" Hermione shouted. Granted, the proper wand movement would be useless if the boy didn't say the spell right, but thank Merlin he did. The troll's club stayed in the air momentarily before falling onto the troll's head. Harry was dropped, and he hurried out of the way before the troll fell onto him. Hermione took a deep, shaky breath before she came out from under the sinks.
"It's not dead, is it?" Hermione said as she neared the creature.
"No, unfortunately," Harry answered. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. What were you two doing here anyway?"
"We were looking for you," Ron told her. To Hermione's confusion, his ears began to tinge red as he further added, "An announcement was made about the troll during dinner. You weren't there to know because you were in here…crying."
"Who said that I was crying?" Hermione demanded in horror, but she never got an answer. She was cut off by a massive screech from a very angry teacher.
"Merlin's beard; what is going on here?!" the voice of Professor McGonagall rang. All three children looked in her direction to find not only her, but Professors Snape and Quirrel. Hermione focused on Snape the longest, his gaze questioning her more than his words could. "Explain yourselves, all three of you!"
As Harry and Ron began to fumble their words, Hermione took a good look at them. They came to look for her. She was in danger because she didn't know about the troll, and they came to find her. While she may not have been the biggest fan of either one of them, if there was one thing that her family taught her was that loyalty should be rewarded. It was beneficial to have allies in your pocket, and so give and takes were necessary. That was why Hermione decided to bite the bullet.
"It was my fault, Professor McGonagall," she boldly proclaimed. "I had read about trolls, you see, and I thought that I could handle it. Clearly, I was wrong. Harry and Ron found me and saved me. I would be dead right now were it not for them."
Hermione did her best to avoid Snape altogether at this point. It was rather easy to do so as Professor McGonagall began to scold her and take away an insane amount of House Points from Gryffindor. She returned a few by giving them to Harry and Ron for their "sheer dumb luck." After that, all of three of them were escorted from the bathroom so that they could head to their dormitories. Since the major threat was down, they went without a chaperone. Without anyone present, it allowed Harry to ask Hermione a question he couldn't have before.
"Why did you cover for us like that?"
Hermione briefly looked over at him and shrugged. "I know it's not exactly even, but you both saved my life. I couldn't let you get into trouble for rescuing me."
"Yeah, well, you wouldn't have needed rescuing were it not for me," Ron frowned. "I know that you heard me grumbling earlier today and…I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I didn't mean it."
"Yes, you did," Hermione countered. "There's no need to lie, and you don't have to apologize."
"Yeah, I do. That's what friends do when they mess up," he added with a soft smile. It caught Hermione so off-guard that she nearly tripped over herself. Instead, she stared at him with a mixture of awe and wonder before turning to Potter and seeing the same grin.
"So, breakfast tomorrow?" Harry asked her as they finally neared Gryffindor tower. Hermione smiled and nodded, promising to meet them downstairs in the morning.
When Hermione crawled into bed that night, she analyzed her day. It started off terrible, she had to admit, and by dinner it was downright miserable. She could ignore all of that now, though, because the end result of it had gone in her favor. Potter and Weasley were now her friends. Today had certainly turned out far better than she thought it would.
Christmas cannot come soon enough. As I've said before, my time at Hogwarts so far has been both good and bad. My classes are going really well, and my professors are quite impressed with me. I'm happy about that, but I didn't realize how hard it would be not having Draco as my friend. It was different before Hogwarts. It was easier to sneak away from the Grangers. There are too many people here. Too many teachers, too many students, too many ways to mess up everything. I guess I'm just scared.
On the bright side, the Potter boy and a Weasley have become my friends. If I have to be on anyone's good side, it's Potter's and whoever else he gets along with.
I miss you, and I hope to see you during the Holidays.
With much love,
Hermione set her quill aside and neatly folded the letter before sealing it in an envelope. She held it in her hands for several minutes before doing what she always did when she wrote her mother a letter: put it in a metal bin and set it on fire. Letters to her mother were a big no-no. As far as the world knew, Elena Rosier's daughter had died years ago. Should the letter become lost along the way and found by the wrong person, it could mean big trouble. So, Hermione treated these letters like a journal that no one would ever read just to release the tension that made her chest swell and her thoughts race. She wasn't lying when she said that she couldn't wait until Christmas. No doubt her Uncle Lucius would come and do a little magic to allow the Grangers to take her for at least a week. She would truly feel at peace then.
"Of all the Houses for Gryffindor to play against first, it's Slytherin?" Harry sighed as he propped his head up on the table in the Great Hall. "They're going to murder me."
"That would be against the rules, so I think you're fine," Hermione said smartly as she rummaged through her rucksack. Some moments later she dropped down a book in front of him that Ron leaned over to read.
"Quidditch Through the Ages. Where'd you get this?"
"Oh, nowhere special. A magical place where there are thousands of books floating off the shelves, free for the taking." Hermione paused for dramatic effect, utterly exasperated at the dumbfounded look Ron was giving her before she eventually replied bluntly, "The library, Ronald. Harry doesn't know the first thing about Quidditch and being a good catch isn't going to be enough to win."
"Thanks for reminding me just how not ready I am," Harry groaned as he pulled the book closer to him.
"You'll be fine if you just do a bit of reading."
"Reading doesn't help everything, you know," Ron pointed out. "Harry's still got to have skill."
"And he'll get that from Wood," Hermione reminded. "Reading up on the game will help too. Books can be good for something."
"Are you two always going to argue?" Harry asked casually as he looked between the two. Hermione promptly opened her mouth to say yes, because Merlin knew how this Weasley tried her patience on a daily basis. However, she was interrupted by the presence of Professor Snape who towered over the students where they sat.
"Is that a library book?" Snape questioned as he gazed at the book that lay in front of Harry. Harry glanced at Hermione and Ron briefly before turning back to Snape.
"Yes, it is."
"I see. It behooves me to inform you, Mr. Potter, that library books belong in the library. It will have to go back."
Snape quickly snatched the book from on the table among protests from the boys. "But sir," Ron spoke, "Hermione got that for Harry to help him."
"Did she?" Snape locked eyes with Hermione who couldn't help but look down at the table. She immediately felt scolded somehow and nearly flinched when he followed with, "Miss Granger should have known better. Five points from Gryffindor."
Hermione snapped her eyes up quickly, her mouth agape at the unjust action he had taken, and frowned when their teacher turned on his heel with the book in hand.
"He's got it out for us, I'm telling you!" Ron hissed. "It's not fair!"
"Life isn't fair, unfortunately," Hermione said, her attention still on Snape before he finally left the hall. She became distracted when she heard rustling in front of her and saw Harry getting up. "Where are you going?"
"To get the book back."
Hermione snorted. Potter was absolutely impulsive and reckless. "What are you going to do? Duel him for it? The book will be in the library once he puts it back; it doesn't matter now."
"Yeah, well, it matters to me."
"You're going to get more points taken away from Gryffindor if you follow him. Harry!" she called after him as he turned his back to her. Hermione groaned at the idiocy unfolding, especially when Ron suggested that they go after him. What did she look like? An idiot's keeper?
Apparently, she was the keeper of two idiots as Ron got up and went after Harry. Hermione took several deep breaths before doing the same. If this was what the next couple of years were going to be like with these two then she was in for a rough haul. With a grunt, Hermione abandoned her things and joined the boys. Harry was in the lead, of course, but Hermione and Ron had caught up to him in no time because he stopped moving. He was behind a wall and peaking from behind it as stealthily as he could. Curious, Hermione did the same, and saw her godfather speaking to the caretaker.
"All the magic in the world and we've got a three-headed mongrel guarding—"
"—Professor Dumbledore wanted extra protection. It is there to protect," Snape said curtly. "I suggest you take up your concerns with him."
"Oh, I shall," Filch huffed. "Mrs. Norris can't go near that corridor without hissing…"
The rest of the conversation turned to a distant chatter as Filch and Snape walked away. Hermione's brows were properly furrowed like Harry's and Ron's, but not because she had "just found out" about the three-headed dog nor the fact that Snape apparently knew about it. The dog was guarding something?
"I knew there had to be a reason that dog was there!" Harry said. Hermione immediately feigned ignorance in addition to true interest.
"Dog?" Hermione questioned. "As in a three-headed dog? Surely, you're not telling me that there's a creature like that here in Hogwarts."
"There is," Ron answered, his face pale as though reliving a bad memory. "Harry and I found it by accident a while back. There was something under its feet like a door."
"A door? So, if we heard Professor Snape and Filch correctly, then it's definitely guarding something."
"Exactly," Harry confirmed. "It's just a matter of what."
"Well, we're not going to find out about it just this minute," Hermione sighed. "Besides, you should finish preparing. You've got your first match tomorrow."
Hermione knew that Hogwarts would have its secrets (a place as old and as big as this certainly had to have something going on), but this three-headed dog thing was new. It seemed so anyway, judging by how her godfather and that crude caretaker were talking about it. What was it guarding? Just how dangerous or how valuable was it that it needed guarding anyway?
Hermione sighed deeply. Her thoughts were racing too much for her to concentrate on her homework, and so she closed her book and held her head in her hands. It felt soothing. She found herself slowly drifting off into a state between calm and sleep when she heard something light tap on the table. She put one hand down and looked to her right. There was a folded piece of paper there and upon opening she saw familiar handwriting and smiled.
10 bookshelves behind you
Hermione pulled her things together and made her way further into the library. It was roughly two hours before curfew, and so the library was sparse. It was the only reason that she found no issue with seeing Draco at this moment. Aside from that, she missed him. She was unprepared for how light her heart would feel when she saw him sitting on a table edge and swinging his little legs.
"Hi," he said feebly, almost nervously. Hermione fought a frown.
"Oh, please don't be like that," she begged as she got close. "Don't be awkward. Just because you—"
"—called you a mudblood?" Draco finished. He was twiddling his thumbs, his gaze alternating between the floor and her face. "It didn't feel good, Ivie. Not because I know it's not true, but because I know that it hurt you."
It was Hermione's turn for her eyes to fall to the floor. She rocked on her heels for a bit, a soft nod confirming his statement. "…It's funny. Pretending to be a muggleborn isn't the hard part. What's happening to us is. We haven't even made it past Christmas for Merlin's sake and it's just… It's really hard not being your friend."
"Would it really be that bad if we snuck around?"
"—I'm not saying every day," Draco said quickly as he hopped off the table. "Not even every week. No one comes back here," he motioned to the shelves they stood among. "They're books about goblin wars. Every other week and meet when we can?"
It was dangerous what Draco was asking. Being seen with him could risk everything that Hermione was working towards —even now. However, she needed at least one reprieve in this nightmare she was destined to live. It would be nice to have a true friend.
"Fifteen minutes, tops."
"Don't push it. I know that you're used to getting what you want," Hermione added cheekily, "but my destiny, my rules."
Draco chuckled, but nodded in agreement to her terms. "Alright, alright. Has the fifteen minutes started then?"
"No, because I have news to tell you," she grinned. "Those boys, while a headache, are quite entertaining."
"You're kidding," Draco snorted, a small scowl accompanying it. "How entertaining could they be other than their stupidity?"
"Well, they did stumble upon a three-headed dog hidden in the castle."
"You heard me. An enormous three-headed beast is here, and Dumbledore has it guarding something."
"That's insane. What's that old fart thinking?!"
"I don't know," Hermione honestly replied with a heavy sigh. "But whatever that dog is guarding must be very important to put students' lives in danger."
"Or, I repeat, he's an old fart," Draco huffed. Hermione laughed.
"That too. Regardless, it does make an interesting mystery."
"Tell me more about it in two weeks, then?"
Hermione hedged, but after a moment she nodded, promising her best to try.
The stands were in uproar with today's match. While Hermione understood the mechanics of it all, she still didn't understand the excitement. Perhaps if matches didn't have the potential to last hours she would feel differently. She would much rather sit with a good book than to sit in the stands while the sky turned from light to dark and everyone waited for a Seeker to find that elusive snitch. In fact, Hermione did bring a book with her, and she immediately felt Ron's look of disapproval.
"For Merlin's sake, it's Harry's first game!"
"He's a Seeker, Ronald," Hermione grumbled as she snapped her book shut. "He won't be doing anything until he finds the snitch; and even then, he won't be looking for it so early in the game."
"Yeah, well, I'm sure he'll still appreciate you looking at him than down at a book," Ron said pointedly. Hermione rolled her eyes before deciding that the he was, unfortunately, right, and that she should be playing the role of the good friend.
It was boring work because, as she had said before, Harry wasn't doing anything. The game hadn't been going on long and there wasn't a need for the snitch to be found just yet. That and there was no indication of where the little object had gone. And so, Hermione rest her elbows on her knees, her head on her hands as she stared into the sky as players raced back and forward. It did get a bit exciting when a player on the opposing team got hit with a bludger, but aside from that, it was relatively boring.
"Hey, I think Harry's seen the snitch!"
That perked Hermione up, however, her brows began to furrow when she noticed how Harry was flying. She may not have been an expert flyer, but she did know the basics and what was happening in the sky with Harry's broom was not flying. It seemed like an invisible hand had taken hold of his broom and was waving it about.
"Something's not right," Ron said as he watched the display. Hermione agreed, especially with the half-giant's comment about Harry's broom being tampered with. It certainly fit the bill, but by whom? For what purpose? A dastardly thought popped into her head and her eyes instantly went across the field to the stands where the teachers sat.
"Give me that!" Hermione ordered to a nearby student who was holding a pair of binoculars. There was a disgruntled shout and protest, but the brunette had the device up to her face and she found what she partially certain of.
For Harry's broom to go haywire, one of two things had to have happened. One, there had to be a jinx on the broom. The only problem with that theory is that the broom would have exhibited problems far earlier in the match than at this moment. Two, direct eye contact from the person casting the jinx. As Hermione let her gaze wash over the stands, every professor's eyes were on the pitch, but only Snape's mouth was moving.
A small smile crossed Hermione's lips as she thought about her godfather doing her a favor and getting rid of the boy. Although, as annoying as Potter may have been, he was still a prize that she needed to exploit. Unfortunately, Snape's good intentions were for naught.
"A teacher is trying to kill him," Hermione said to Ron as she passed the binoculars to him.
"A teacher? What makes you think that a teacher-? Hermione, where are you going?!"
Hermione had taken off during Ron's questioning. She pushed pass other students and rushed out of the stands -not entirely, just those meant for students. She kept close under the old (and perhaps shotty woodworking) stands, ducking and climbing over the beams to make it to where the teachers sat. When she was sure she was under it, Hermione looked up, sighing miserably at realizing that she would now have to climb up. It took a sincere amount of willpower to remind herself of the asset that the Potter boy posed rather than a liability, and she made her climb. Snape was the only professor who wore black robes on a regular basis, and so when she made it to where the professors were sitting and all she could see were the bottoms of their feet and their robes, Hermione could very easily point him out.
A simple spell. It sparked a small flame, and Hermione smiled when it flickered in the wind. She quickly got away when a commotion was caused and hurried back the way she came, but she didn't go back to the Gryffindor stands. She stood at the bottom and looked up at the sky, finding that with Hermione's fire going, everything on the Quidditch pitch was alright again. It wasn't long before the snitch was being caught, albeit not in the conventional sense.
Hermione's face contorted in disgust when she watched Potter cough up the snitch. "Absolutely disgusting," she grimaced, sighed, and made her way back to the other half of the dynamic duo.
Author's note: I think I'm going to have a lot of fun when Hermione and Ron argue lol.
Thanks for reading everyone!