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Sugar and Spice

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Contrary to what she claimed, it wasn’t grass and new parchment and spearmint toothpaste she smelled.

A mind-boggling amalgamation of confusion followed by a peripheral realization, and then instantaneous fear made her flush so severely that the room went fuzzy around the edges of her vision as she choked out the lie.

It was old parchment housed in the restricted section, tart green apples, and something spicy—not cinnamon, cloves?—that lingered inside her nostrils. She was woozy, her lids drooping heavily, even as a small part of her brain screamed at how wrong this was. A larger, louder part of her shoved the shame down in favor of baser instincts. Those instincts dampened and dissipated and the shame crowded in the further removed she was from the delicate, unmistakable scent wafting from the cauldron.

Ignoring the jeers of her classmates, Hermione peeked through her riotous curls to the other side of the room where the Slytherins sat in pairs. Malfoy snickered, his cool gray gaze flashing from hers to the boy he sat beside, Nott, who wore a softer smirk that still managed to make her stomach swoop riotously, dangerously. They were laughing at—her? Ron? Her and Ron? She tore her eyes away before she stumbled and truly made a spectacle of herself.

Twenty minutes later, she gathered her books and followed Harry and Ron to the Great Hall where, despite the leaden feeling in her gut, she picked dutifully at her plate and failed to keep her eyes from wandering to opposite end of the hall where—

Malfoy was staring at her, his long, unreasonably elegant fingers cradling a gleaming green apple that he tossed from his left hand to the right with a graceful flick of his wrists. She tore her eyes away and feigned a stomachache, escaping the hall in favor of wandering amongst the stone halls with her disjointed thoughts for company.
One of those stray thoughts plagued her into Transfiguration, buzzing in her mind during dinner, all the way to when she climbed beneath the covers of her bed and drew the curtains for privacy from Lavender and Pavarti’s giggles.

Parchment she understood. Apple was easily attributable. Together they made sense, as much sense as something rooted in…feelings instead of logic could be sensible, even if she judged herself for it terribly.

Malfoy.

She swallowed down her discomfort at the mere thought of his name, at the secret way his name made her ache in new to her and old as time ways. She wasn’t supposed to feel like this, not about him. Revulsion, yes. Objective admittance that one had good bones and fine eyes and perfect teeth? That was one thing. But that wasn’t what the potion signified. That sort of attraction? No, never. Why, why had the wires inside her crossed? What was wrong with her that she could feel this for someone who hated her?

Hermione took a shallow breath in, the scent gone, but not forgotten, and frowned. There was that question again. In the six years she had known Malfoy, not once had she ever caught the scent of clove on his person, not even abstractly.

It was a mystery, and so by default she ached to solve it even if nothing good could from it. No. Nothing would come from it. Hermione shut her eyes. She had more important, more immediate concerns to fret over.