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Studying in the Library

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" own sister! How could she betray us like this?!" Ron says heatedly before he immediately goes to gnaw on the end of his chocolate frog. Harry nods emphatically, lips twisted in a rather amused grin. Hermione rolls her eyes and snaps her book shut over their chattering.

Both boys turn to look at her as she begins to pack up her bag because as much as she loves these two they are too much of a distraction. She tells them as much, grumbling, "Really, Ron, you're ridiculous. Ginny has every right to want to play for whichever team she wishes."

Ron crosses his arms rather petuantly. "I know she does but this is betrayal. She's the only one in this family who likes the Harpies over the Cannons! It's like-like if we made her a delicious, apple crumble pie with ice cream, and Ginny stabs us all in the kidneys."

Both Hermione and Harry laugh incredulously at the analogy. "I don't think it's quite the same, Ron," Harry says with a fond grin playing on his lips, "and besides I think Hermione is right. Gin deserves to decide to be on a winning team, Ron."

Ron launches himself at Harry, who shrieks as they collapse together on the couch. Their hands are clasped together and they push at one another, faces flushing with the heat of the room and lips curling in delighted grins.

Hermione shakes her head at their antics and closes her bag. Maybe if she leaves now for the library she can fit in some studying as well as let these two finally realize they were both hopelessly in love with one another.

The dark skinned girl shakes her head in exasperation at their rising laughter. It's not likely, she thinks to herself as she steps through the Common Room door, because these two are hopelessly oblivious.

She makes her way through the hallways, shoes clacking against the floors and robes brushing against her legs. With exams beginning to approach more quickly than she wants, Hermione is hoping to get in as much study time as possible. She's not even sure why she tried to do so around Ron and Harry. Those two were confident in their ability to wing their exams. For now, Hermione's content to let them have their fun but she'll whip them into shape in about a month.

Students pass by her in groups. Hermione ignores their chattering and a few nasty looks thrown her way. There aren't many people who actually like her or pay her any attention at Hogwarts despite her considering it to be her home. Most days she really doesn't mind, to be honest, but some days it stung.

Shaking off her somber mood, the girl makes her way to the library, her pack bouncing against her leg rhythmically. She enters and Hermione looks around with a relieved smile on her lips.

It's comfortably quiet and she's already feeling herself relax. Hermione dances around a few other students and weaves through the tables to her usual one. She only stops long enough to drop off her bag to claim it for herself before she begins to hunt for a few potions textbooks for review.

One is missing from her mental list she'd made. She was sure it was here when she stopped by just after lunch to return a book. Hermione had thought nobody else would get it before her with out long it'd taken her to stumble over it but when she did she had fervently wished she could take it out then and there. Unfortunately, she hadn't had the time.

Now, Hermione grumbles as she makes her way up to the front desk. Madam Pince is in the process of sorting a few books but she turns and the ghost of a smile flits on her lips when she sees Hermione. "Hello, dear."

"Hi, Madam Pince. Do you remember that potions textbook I asked about?"

Madam Pince nods. "Witches and Wolfsbane?"

"Yes, that's the one! I, er, didn't see it on the shelf and was wondering if it was already taken out...?"

"Oh, no, honey. Someone here must just be reading it in the library. I'm sure they'll put it back before curfew," she says and Hermione sighs in relief.

"Thank you. Sorry for the bother."

She returns back to her seat and it's completely by chance she spots the book she wants in the hands of one Percy Weasley. Hermione brightens and she hustles back to her table just long enough to grab her things and head back to the table Percy's reading at. It's highly likely he'll take it out and Hermione wants that book.


So, she slides into the seat across from him neatly and smiles charmingly when he looks up. His brows furrow in confusion and the boy looks at her in clear confusion while she begins to unpack her things.

"What are you doing?" he demands quietly, lips pursing. Hermione sets out her notebook and shrugs casually although she's nervous he'll kick her out. They've never been particularly close, mainly because Percy never had any interest in hanging around them for obvious reasons.

Hermione says, voice hesitant, "I was very interested in that book and wondering if I could read it after you?"

Percy studies her curiously, glancing between the book and her face. Hermione ducks down to root around her bag and pulls out one of her favorite books triumphantly.
"I'll trade you this copy of Deciphering Ancient Runes for the Advanced Mind Professor Babbling gave me."

The red haired boy looks at her in surprise before he laughs, showing off charmingly crooked teeth. "I was going to say we can just share it since I've only gotten a few pages in but that's a rather good deal, I think," he says and Hermione brightens.

"I'd love that, thank you."

She shifts seats, moving her chair next to Percy's. They scoot close, Hermione grabbing her notebook from the other end of the table as Percy flips back to the beginning of the book. Once they're both settled they begin to read.

Hermione is delighted to find out they read at the same speed. It makes things much easier since as soon as she's finished the second page Percy will flip right on time. The two of them devour the book together, pausing a few times to discuss something particularly fascinating.

"Have you ever made Wolfsbane?" Hermione asks. Percy raises an eyebrow at her question but nods.

"Yes, actually. Professor Snape allowed me the opportunity a few months ago. I was surprised he allowed me to do so," Percy replies, flipping the page casually. Hermione looks at him in awe, jaw dropping even while he clearly preens under her gaze.

"Really? Professor Snape allowed you to brew with him?"

Percy hums an affirmative noise and tells her, "He found me to be 'not as horribly incompetent' as everyone else and allowed me to assist him." Hermione's lips slowly turn into a pout as he speaks.

"You're so lucky. I know Malfoy gets private tutoring but I'm positive that's just because he's preparing to be a potioneer."

"Let's also not forget he's Professor Snape's favorite student, too."

Hermione snickers. "That too."

They dive back into their book and Hermione doesn't understand why they've never done this before. It never occurred to her that she and Percy, who one of the smartest in his year, would get along so well intellectually. Now, it just makes sense.

Once they finish that, Hermione is delighted that they have time to begin the Ancient Runes book. There are things in the book that are definitely above her level but between her uncanny ability to figure things out and Percy's hints she understands more than she could've hoped for. They're only two chapters in when Madam Pince finally kicks them out with a rather fond look.

Percy apologizes on their behalf for not realizing the time while Hermione races to return the books they borrowed sans her Ancient Runes book. She saves a few to take out and the two Gryffindors return to their Common Room with wide grins.

"...really cannot believe Professor Sprout has never given us that project. What plant did you say you were assigned?"

Percy follows Hermione into the Common Room. "Venomous Tentacula if you can believe it. Penelope was my partner so we had no incidents other than a couple of scrapes."

"I dearly hope she changes her mind but with your brother and Harry in my year perhaps it better she doesn't," Hermione admits and Percy laughs, grin wide.

"She did skip the twins' year I've heard. Wise woman she is."

Ron and Harry look up from where they're now in the middle of a game of Exploding Snap with Seamus and Dean. Ron makes a face, eyes darting between Hermione and Percy but he's quickly distracted by the loud boom of the exploding cards. All the boys yelp, scrambling back and cackling.

Hermione shakes her head but turns to Percy with a smile. "Would you be up for studying again tomorrow?"

Percy's eyes widen and she feels a bit of sympathy for him. Hermione can't remember him ever really hanging around with anyone but all those times she had brushed it off as him not really wanting to hang around anyone. It never occurred to her that maybe nobody had simply offered to study with him.

After a few seconds of still silence Percy nods. "I-I'd really like that. Thank you, Hermione."

Hermione watches him stride away up to the dorms. Having someone to match her intelligence and thirst for knowledge that wasn't quite as intense as the Ravenclaws was fun. She's sure she'd be content listening to Percy all day. He held a lot of knowledge, whether it was wizarding traditions or obscure books she jotted onto her list of 'Must Reads' and Hermione appreciates him sharing it with her. Sure he was a little awkward at times, and he was stuck-up occasionally (especially telling in the tones he took with her when it came to some of the questions she asked) but everyone around her told her she was a bossy know-it-all. They even told her to her face that she's self absorbed. Maybe they could be stuck up together.

All in all, Hermione thinks it's been a very successful day. She goes to bed a few hours later with a smile on her lips and feeling content for the first time in a while.

The next day, classes pass by rather quickly and soon enough Hermione is waiting by the Common Room door, bag over her shoulder, while Percy grabs his things. She rocks back on her toes and heels idly as she waits, ignoring Ron's frown.

"You sure you don't wanna stay with us, Mione?" he calls from where he's lounging by the fire. Hermione rolls her eyes and waves her hand.

"Thank you, Ron, but I'm really not interested in Wizard Chess. It's not my thing and you know it," she calls back and Ron grins at her. They've all discovered just how awful Hermione is at chess. As much as she makes fun of Ron for being oblivious when it came to chess he was different. That boy could play.

Percy makes his way down the stairs and presents a book before her. "I knew it was in my trunk somewhere."

Hermione accepts it and brushes her fingers over the title reverently, lips parted in surprise. "You're-you're letting me borrow this?"

It's the Prewett Grimoire.

Family grimoires are sacred. Hermione's sure the Potter one is most likely in Harry's vault, and she knows Malfoy, Parkinson, and Zabini all have theirs at school. But Hermione has never had one and always held an interest in making the first one herself. She'd only briefly told Percy about it yesterday before they moved on but she's grateful he's letting her look through it.

"I'm sure mother wouldn't mind. She'd probably be delighted someone is making use of it."

Hermione beams at him and presses the worn book to her chest. "Thank you, Percy, you're the best!"

The older boy puffs up proudly but simply leads her out of the Common Room. They head out down to the library together, Hermione practically vibrating out of her skin with how eager she is to read the grimoire. She chatters at him excitedly and he listens. She's still in awe at someone keeping up with her chaotic thought patterns.
When they arrive at the library, however, they soon find their usual table taken by Neville. She waves at the boy when he looks up as they approach and he looks between them with curiosity sparking in his eyes.


Percy sends him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Neville. Would you mind if we sat here with you?”

The boy shakes his head quickly. “No, no; feel free. I-I was just here for my assignment. Shouldn’t take too much longer,” he tells them and Hermione brightens.

“Thank you, Nev.”

The two settle in together, Hermione putting away the grimoire in her bag for safe keeping. Instead, they continue on with the book they were working on yesterday and manage to finish that, chattering together in hushed, excited voices.

Both Percy and Hermione are surprised when Neville joins in the conversations with ease. Even when they whisper in excited tones about Potions he's still confidently keeping up. At their astonished expressions, Neville rolls his eyes in clear amusement.

"Just because I'm awful in class doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about," he tells them wryly and Hermione can't help the embarrassed blush that spreads over her face. Percy looks just as embarrassed.

She says, voice quiet, "You're right. Sorry about that."

"Yes, that was an oversight," Percy agrees, shooting the other boy an apologetic look. Neville waves it off easily.

"It's alright, don't worry about it."

The more they sit in that library the more Hermione wishes she knew more people interested in doing this with her. She's enjoying just being with new people, chatting and getting work done together. It's fun, and she wants more people like her.

That's why she suddenly looks up from her book with a bright grin. "We should make a club!"

Neville looks up at her, startled, and Percy raises his eyebrow curiously.

"Do you really think these students will join? It's not really like any of them really like us," he comments but Hermione waves it off.

"It's not about liking us. It's just about having like-minded people around you to study with. Here; help me out here," she demands as she begins to scribble out an idea for a poster in her notebook. Percy takes the pen hesitantly and Neville begins to throw out a few ideas. Hermione's beginning to get excited, a flutter of hope buzzing in her chest excitedly. It'd really be nice to have more friends because as much as she loves Ron and Harry she wants more.

They create a rather nice looking poster and bring it to McGonagall for approval. She takes it up to Dumbledore and permission is granted almost right away. Hermione, beaming, finds herself putting up posters around the Common Room and the castle.

Two weeks pass by and nobody bothers to show up. Not a single soul.

“I should’ve known,” Hermione sighs as she rips up the papers vertically. Despite her wry tone she really is upset nobody bothered to come. She really does want to meet more people like her but even Ron and Harry didn’t bother pretending for her sake.

She’s disappointed but, unfortunately, not really surprised. Neville squeezes her shoulder comfortingly. “It’s alright, Hermione. I’m sure someone will want to join eventually. Maybe we just haven’t given them enough time.”

She doubts it tremendously but she thanks the boy regardless. Percy eyes her knowingly and slides a chocolate candy over the table. Hermione accepts it with a grateful smile and dives headfirst back into her homework.

The next day brings her marching to double Charms. Harry takes a seat first and Ron slides into it eagerly, eyes bright as the two boys talk together. If Hermione didn’t see the affectionate and shy looks they’d been shooting each other lately she’d feel offended at being so left out. Right now, however, she can only feel happy for them.
She takes the outside seat, setting her bag underneath the table and settling in. The girl splits her attention between taking notes and listening with one ear to Ron and Harry’s whispering. She makes a brief mental reminder to catch them before the weekend to go over this section of the notes again so they don’t fail this upcoming test she knows they haven’t realized is happening.

Professor Flitwick’s body is turned around completely as he writes something out on the board. Something hits her in the head and Hermione startles, catching it reflexively and looking around wildly. She doesn’t have to look far to spot Malfoy watching her with a slightly amused glint in his eyes.

Parkinson and Zabini are seated next to him on either side. Parkinson’s pink, glossy lips are curved in a smirk and Zabini tilts his head with a grin filled with teeth. Hermione clenches her jaw and ignores Ron and Harry’s sudden gazes in favor of unfolding the little swan paper.

I’ve heard about your club. I’d like to join in so long as Weasel and Scarhead aren’t there. I find myself intrigued by the promise of long hours in the library with brains that actually know how to function.

P.S-Pansy here; I know this prat(hey!!!)has no manners(it’s true Draco shut up)so if that’s not enough to convince you then please see the back of this paper. You must admit that I have talent.
And I have keen eyes for beauty. It was all my idea, you know.
That too. Thank you, Blaise.

Hey, I drew the base of her face-give me some credit too!
Shove off, Dray. I got all her features and I think that counts more.

Hermione flips over the paper and finds herself stunned. It’s her. She was expecting something completely childish but instead it’s a beautifully drawn portrait of her. Everything, down to the fire in her eyes, is carefully depicted.

“What’d Malfoy send over to you?” Ron asks quietly, making an attempt to peer at the paper. Hermione jerks it away with a blush, folding it quickly.

“Nothing! Er-just...something stupid. Drawing,” she whispers lamely and grabs a scrap sheet of paper from her notebook rather than her parchment. She uncaps her pen using her teeth and scribbles out a quick reply.

As big of a prick you are, I feel it’s safe to say all three of you fall into the category of a ‘containing a functioning brain’. Feel free to stop by the library this weekend. We meet at the back table at five.
P.S-The drawing was very beautiful, and I’m flattered at the thoughtfulness. Should you find yourself in need of a model again I’d be happy to oblige.

Before she can regret it, Hermione crumples it into a ball and glances up to Flitwick. When he isn’t looking she, under the gaze of blatantly intrigued Slytherins and Gryffindors, tosses it across the room. Zabini catches it and Parkinson lunges to grab it. Malfoy shoves at her but lets her uncrumple it, the three of them reading it over.

Hermione ignores the stares of the others. Parkinson’s head snaps up to her after she reads the last of it and winks, moving back to her own papers. She’s not positive if she’s made the right decision even when Malfoy shoots her a rather pleased look and Zabini shoots her a subtle thumbs up.

When she looks down at the note in her hands, however, she finds herself feeling better about her actions. She’d been wrong about Neville and she’s excited to find out if her opinion about these three need to change as well.

They meet in the back of the library where Percy has already saved their table. He's knee deep in a Charms assignment but he looks up when they all slide into their seats. Neville takes a few minutes to set up his space and Hermione digs through her bag for her own supplies. They chatter quietly up until they hear echoing footsteps. Neville's face drops and he looks at Hermione with a panicked expression.

Malfoy drops his bag on the table and drops a roll of parchment in the middle of it. "I have read this Runes essay just about ten times and Pansy refuses to tell me what I've done wrong. Read it for me," he says, sounding exhausted.

One of Percy's eyebrows shoots up. "I don't respond to demands, Malfoy."

Malfoy's face flushes with a blush. Hermione stares at it in fascination, her own cheeks warming at the sight. The blush creeps down his neck and below his button up. Hermione...kind of wants to lick it.

Ugh, she sounded like Ron raving about Harry, now.

Malfoy grits his teeth and looks off to the side, face turning even redder than before. He says, voice quiet, "Please read my essay for me."

Percy slides it over in front of him with a smile. "Of course."

Neville stares at Malfoy with wide eyes and the blond is beginning to look uncomfortable. Hermione rolls her eyes at Neville's awkwardness fondly and pats the table. Malfoy meets her eyes hesitantly and Hermione smiles.

"Grab a seat from the back, would you? Wouldn't want you to stand the whole time,"she says and Malfoy nods once. He glances back to where a few extra chairs are unoccupied near Madam Pince's desk and levitates them carefully. One lifts from the floor and floats its way over to their table. He sits in it carefully and crosses his legs while Percy skims over his essay.

Neville looks up shyly at Malfoy and asks, voice quiet, "Why exactly did you join?"

Malfoy's eyes snap to the boy and Neville flinches at the attention but doesn't retract his question. Hermione's eyes flit between the two of them and even Percy looks up in interest. Malfoy leans back in his chair and rests his arm on the back of his chair. Hermione twitches subtly when his eyes slide over to her before moving back to meet Neville's.

He responds, "Studying with Pansy is like studying with a very small child in the room. Not only that but she never helps without promises of favors in the future. And she'll remember every single one of them. I'd rather be here with honorable Gryffindors then have to wear her knickers again because she doesn't want to find another model for them," he complains. It's very quiet for a few seconds but Hermione can't help but stare.

Then, she asks, "Does...does she have a photo or...?"

"No," he hisses but Hermione immediately knows that's a 'yes'. She wonders if Parkinson is willing to part with it if Hermione models for her. It's worth a shot and she figures she'll ask next time she sees the girl.

Percy finally slides the essay back over. "It's rather good but you've mixed up these two on your key. That'll screw up your whole translation and it makes it...almost nonsensical but not quite. See, here," Percy points to the bottom half of his parchment and Malfoy groans.

"Fuck. I spent half the night on that," he grumbles. Hermione takes the opportunity to scoot her chair closer to his to peer at it. Malfoy lets her, pushing the parchment closer to let her glance over it. Hermione shoots him a smile and hums thoughtfully.

"If you change a few of the runes here in the beginning you should be able to slide by rather easily. Professor Babbling showed us an example but I don't think you were there that day. Here, let me show you mine," she says and ducks down to pull out her own essay. She's rather proud of it and already double-checked it three times.

Malfoy corrects his essay with relief clear in his eyes and they all find themselves hunkering down to study. He swaps books with Neville and strikes up a few conversations about something he finds particularly interesting but overall they're quiet. It's rather nice.

That peace between them ends unexpectedly. The next weekend brings Parkinson and Zabini tagging along. Nott looks like he'd rather be anywhere else but he still takes a seat at Parkinson's demand.

Immediately, the dark haired Slytherin slides into the seat next to Hermione. Malfoy scowls at her but throws himself next to Neville with a pout on his lips. Parkinson ignores him and instead grins at Hermione, peering at her from under her lashes.

"Oh, this is wonderful! The amount of testosterone in my little group was getting overwhelming. Not only are you another woman I can finally talk with you're incredibly pretty, too," Parkinson chirps, one hand brushing against Hermione's arm.

Hermione can't help the smile she wears. "Why, Parkinson, I do believe you're flirting with me."

Parkinson leans forward, hair brushing against her throat enticingly and arms folding against the table while she leans on them. "Oh, call me Pansy, darling. I have the feeling we're going to be very, very good friends," she says. Her glossy, black nails drag over Hermione's arm, pushing up her robe sleeve gently. Hermione shudders, cheeks warming.

"I-In that case you should call me Hermione."

"Her-mi-one..." Pansy drawls, voice saccharine.

Malfoy rolls his eyes and flicks a bit of parchment at Pansy's head. She snaps her gaze to the boy and sneers playfully, tossing the balled up paper back at his head. Malfoy fishes it out of his hair but his goal of getting Pansy's attention is complete.

He says pointedly, meeting Hermione's eyes, "Don't say I didn't warn you, Granger. She's distracting."

Hermione jolts and realizes she really hasn't even begun to think about getting her work together. Pansy gives her a guilty look and turns back to Malfoy, shooting a Stinging Hex at him.

"Just because you're my boyfriend doesn't mean you get to gossip about me, Dray," she chides and Malfoy rolls his eyes.

"You act as if you've never gossiped about me. I know about your little chats with Astoria, Pans."

Pansy looks absolutely shameless. "And...?"

Malfoy snorts and rolls his eyes. "Hypocritical bitch," he mutters, and for her part Pansy doesn't look the least bit offended. It does remind her, however, that she made a mental note to ask Pansy something important.

She grasps the girl by the wrist and pulls her closer gently. "That reminds me; Malfoy mentioned something about a rather...suggestive photo you may or may not have? He said you'd demanded him in your knickers?"

Pansy stares at her for a few seconds but slowly her pink lips curl up in a smile. "Hermione," she says in delight, "are you asking me for it?"

Hermione huffs. "I'll model for you two times if you hand it over after classes," she bargains and Pansy's grin stretches wider.


Malfoy is eyeing them warily, eyes darting between them until Zabini pulls his attention away and onto Arithmancy. Hermione finally pulls herself away from conversation with Pansy in favor of pulling out her own books. Pansy doesn't move, however, from where she's nearly plastered against Hermione's side. Their thighs brush against each other and eventually Pansy leans against her while they work, her cheek squished against Hermione's shoulder.

Although she doesn't know much about Nott she still isn't surprised that he and Percy get along like a house on fire. Neville looks quite confused when Zabini is blatantly flirting with him but Hermione doesn't intervene. Neville is clearly overwhelmed but he also looks pleased at the attention, cheeks pink and a tiny smile on his lips.

Hermione's beginning to realize that maybe they didn't really join to study.

She's also stunned when she realizes she really doesn't mind.

Things continue that way for a few weeks. Hermione does get her promised photos and is delighted by them, especially considering they're moving. She keeps them in her trunk, safely under a few defensive spells. She also ends up making good on her promise sooner than she expects but she doesn't really mind.

Malfoy slowly becomes Draco, and Zabini becomes Blaise (more to Neville than her). Nott transitions into Theodore-then Theo-and she's having fun. Percy leads their little study group most days, guiding them through a few sessions that end up more of them learning a totally new topic that none of them can get to yet; Alchemy.

Hermione is positive he ends up explaining it better than one of her teachers can. She appreciates Headmaster Dumbledore and all he does for them but his choice in teachers is sometimes...bad.

Really bad.

The next few days they end up consuming as many books as they can together and trading them around the group. When that ends and they've gotten through as many books as they can manage, the Slytherins invite them to a party.

"It's on Friday. You'll have to come up to the Common Room but Professor Snape will look the other way if we put up a few spells to keep it quiet. As long as you don't get caught you're free to join us."

Hermione meets Neville and Percy's eyes hesitantly. She's curious to see what a Slytherin party looks like. Neville rolls up his scroll for the essay they have assigned for Defense and looks at the eager faces of the Slytherins.

"Can I...can I bring Luna?" he asks and Blaise perks up at the sound of her name. Hermione wants to laugh at that but she's guilty of such actions herself. Whenever someone mentions either Pansy or Draco she finds herself shamelessly eavesdropping.

So sue her, she's curious!

Draco raises an eyebrow. "Looney? Seriously?" Six glares quickly pin him in place and Draco's hands shoot up in front of him placatingly. "Merlin, alright."

Hermione can't believe she likes this moron.

"Don't you dare," Theo starts, pointing at them, "bring along Potter or Weasley. We're inviting you to have fun not listen to Weasley's chatter about how evil we are."

Hermione salutes. She's not sure she'd be able to get them to come along anyway. "We got it."

Draco tips his head to the side. "Maybe we should invite those twins along, though. They'd make it fun."

"Do not," Percy says, pointing at the blond threateningly, “try to invite any of my siblings along. I’m not dealing with questions about why I’m hanging around a bunch of you assholes.”

Pansy gasps and stops where she’s shoving one of her books into her bag to press a manicured nail against her chest. “How dare you, Perce! I’m hurt!”

Percy rolls his eyes and swings an arm around her shoulders, a wry smile on his lips. “I think you’ll live.”

“See if I ever lend you my personal books again,” she says with a sniff and Draco snags her bag as the two walk off together. Draco hovers at Hermione's side with a smile and Hermione grins back.

“They’re such idiots,” she mutters.

“And yet we still hang around them.”

Blaise and Theo are arguing with each other, dragging Neville along to ask him to agree with their opinions. What they’re bickering about this time none of them are sure. Hermione bets that they don’t even know what they’re talking about.

They split up to go their separate ways but not without a lingering look between Hermione and Draco. Pansy smirks from where she watches them at Draco’s side, eyes flitting between the two. Draco breaks it off first and his lips quirk up in a smile.

“I’ll see you Friday,” he says, voice smooth and promising. Hermione nods once and turns back to where Neville and Percy wait for her. She catches up to them with a giddy laugh and hooks her arms through their own.

She really, really cannot wait for Friday and she’s positive these two can’t either.

Classes drag by slowly. She spends Friday afternoon after classes scurrying around her dorm room, picking out clothes frantically. She already knows the boys are in the same predicament as her and it takes her nearly two hours to find something suitable.

Hermione stuffs them in a bag and rushes off to shower.

Soon enough she’s grabbing her bags and rushing out the Common Room door with Neville and Percy by her side with shouts of them leaving to study when Harry asks where they’re going at this hour. They run up to the seventh floor together, out of breath, and Neville gets them a room in the Room of Requirement.

Shutting the door behind them, Hermione shrieks in surprise when she sees Luna already sitting in a chair. She looks pretty, blonde locks spilling over her shoulders and a baby blue sundress with matching flats.

Neville stops when he spots her but when she looks up from the large book in her lap. “Hello, Neville!” she says brightly, beaming at him. Neville sputters for a few seconds until Percy nudges him forward and he stumbles over to say hello.

“Oh boy,” Percy mutters as he digs out his own clothes from his bag. Hermione can’t help but agree. Blaise was either going to be disappointed with these two’s budding relationship or delighted. She’s really not sure which one but she figures she’ll figure it out soon.

She wrestles out of her clothes and shimmies into her new ones. With the lack of formal events at Hogwarts she doesn’t own very many clothes that would be considered nice. She favors her comfort over dressing up so most of her things probably wouldn’t be great for a Slytherin party.

Hermione did manage to find an old, plaid mini skirt that still fits. She just picked out a white button up that matches Percy’s, surprisingly, down to the little pocket on the left side of the shirt. She tames her hair as best as possible and fits a headband into her hair and has Luna help her with her heels.

Neville wears black slacks and red button up shirt but it looks good on him. He stands before them nervously for judgement and Percy only fixes his collar carefully before nodding his approval. Luna ruffles his hair, tongue poking out between her lips as she fixes a few strands.

“We ready to go?” Hermione asks, patting down her hair self-consciously.

Percy nods, cuffing his sleeves up his forearms carefully. “Yeah, let’s go. We’ll come back tomorrow morning and grab our things from here.”

Percy leads the group out of the Room of Requirement and they hurry down the hallways. It doesn’t take a long time to sneak down to the dungeons but they do end up having to rush into a broom closet when Filch passes by. They can barely contain their cackles as they’re all squeezed in the small room. Once he passes by they rush off, running down staircases and scurrying together down to where Hermione knows the Slytherin Common Room is.

Hermione raps on the wall firmly and her eyebrows shoot up in surprise when the door swings open immediately. Astoria Greengrass, with beautifully decorated slacks and a blue blouse, greets them with a smile.

"Pans said you three were coming-oh, Luna! Come on in," she urges, glancing around behind them. Hermione thanks her quietly and shuffles a little closer to Percy, feeling nervous. Percy wraps an arm around her shoulders as they head inside.

The place is rather packed. Students in various states of dress dance around the Slytherin common room while green tinted strobe lights flash dizzyingly. Hermione's jaw practically drops when she sees Pansy on the table, a bottle of firewhisky in her hands as she wails out some song Hermione's not sure she's heard before.

Her shirt is unbuttoned but she has, thankfully, kept her skirt. Her shoes are missing though she doesn't seem to care at all. She's pointing around the room but she seems to suddenly recognize their group because she leaps off the table with a laugh. The young woman grabs Draco's arm from where he's chatting with Blaise and Theo and drags him toward them. Blaise jogs after them and Theo watches from where he sways in place slowly to the pounding music.

"You all came!" Blaise says, seemingly greeting them all but he's staring at Luna and Neville. Hermione hides her smile behind her hand but she meets Percy's eyes for them to share a knowing look.

Neville scratches at his neck nervously. "Well...I mean you said we could....?"

Blaise rolls his eyes and grabs both Luna and Neville's hands. He drags them off, eyes bright and chattering a mile a minute. Draco shakes his head in exasperation, likely knowing exactly what Hermione and Percy know:

Blaise is making an attempt to charm the pants off of both of them.

Hermione wishes Neville and Luna luck in that department. She's seen Blaise in action and it's truly something to behold. He can get his teachers, other students, and his friends absolutely ensnared with just a few words.

"I'm glad you're here; let's get the party really started, shall we?" Draco says, eyes bright and cheeks flushing. Percy snorts and ruffles Hermione's hair.

"I am going to find somewhere more quiet. Come get me if you need me," he tells her and Hermione nods with a little smile.

Percy is becoming better with letting people do as they please despite the consequences. She does appreciate him coming with them despite this not really being his scene. And, really, it wasn't her scene either but she was more comfortable here than Percy most likely is. She makes a mental note to grab him something nice next time they went to Hogsmeade, and pushes that all away in favor of beaming at Draco and Pansy.

"Let's have some fun!"

They seem determined to rid her of her nerves. Pansy gives her shot after shot that night. Hermione, for her part, doesn't question it. She slugs them back, laughing and sputtering at the burning in her throat. Draco, while she’s halfway through her third shot of the night, mutters a spell that has glitter coating the Gryffindor’s body thoroughly. Hermione can't help but laugh at the result. It's damn well everywhere and she'll be rightly angry tomorrow morning but right now she's having serious fun.

They end up in the middle of the crowd dancing at some point. Pansy holds her close while their bodies writhe together in time with the bass pounding in her ears. Draco watches them from where he knocks back another shot where he sits on a table, tipping his head challengingly while Daphne Greengrass trails her fingers over his leg as she sips from her glass of butterbeer.

"Look at him, 'Mione, practically going mad over us," Pansy purrs, fingers tight on Hermione's hips. The Gryffindor can't help but preen, curling up arm up behind her to curl around Pansy's neck while she shimmies her hips purposefully.

"Invite him over, will you?"

Pansy brushes her lips over Hermione's throat gently and reaches one hand out to beckon Draco over. The blond tips his head with a smile, cheeks flushed and pink lips curling up sinfully. Hermione can't help her pleased expression as he stands, shaking off Daphne's hands. The girl pays the rejection no mind, sidling up to a dark haired woman flirtily.

Draco strolls closer to them, body swaying gently in time with the bass. As soon as he's close enough Pansy pulls him in closer until they're sandwiching Hermione between them. Hermione can only feel delighted at this result.

"You look stunning, Granger," Draco purrs and Hermione laughs, reaching out with her free hand to slip around Draco's shoulders.

"You don't look too bad yourself, you know."

Draco smiles and slides his hands over where Pansy's rest on Hermione's hips. They interlock their fingers and Hermione tips her head up to accept a searing kiss from him, eyelids drooping. He tastes like spices and whipped cream, and Hermione's sure he managed to get glitter in her mouth but she doesn't care. Pansy noses against her cheek demandingly and Hermione pulls back to crane her head back and capture the girl's lips in a kiss.

Pansy nips her bottom lip with her teeth before her tongue soothes the sting. Hermione tilts her head to deepen the kiss, stomach fluttering with both arousal and excitement. Pansy, in contrast with Draco, tastes like sugar and vodka. Hermione hums in approval and manages to nip at the girl's lips twice before pulling back.

Hermione says, lips curling up cheekily, "You Slytherins sure know how to throw a great party, don't you?"

"Oh you have no idea. Stop by at Yule and you'll see a real party," Draco says and while he is obviously teasing Hermione finds herself very interested.

"I might do just that."

Pansy giggles and pulls her closer to her chest. "Oh, you'll love it, darling. Good alcohol from home, mistletoe, furious snogging in dark corners of the rooms; you name it and we'll do it."

Hermione scoffs. "I don't need mistletoe as an excuse to snog either of you. Speaking of..." the girl trails off meaningfully and Draco laughs, dipping down to press a fond kiss to her cheek.

The rest of the night quickly becomes a blur when the shots and swigs straight from the bottle catch up to her. One minute she's laughing alongside Millicent, dancing in the middle of the room and the next she's giggling as Cho Chang does body shots off her bare stomach. Then, she's running with the rest of the group of party goers through the castle without a stitch of clothing on her body. Soon enough they're outside and this is one of her bigger moments of clarity.

She's in the middle of the Quidditch pitch. It's drizzling outside and she's still missing her clothes, the wet grass cold against her bare feet. Percy's arm and hanging over her shoulder and Draco sways next to her. Neville and Luna dance together underneath the moon as Blaise and Theo chase each other. Daphne sings off key to something Hermione's never heard before but she's apparently having fun doing so. Pansy is shouting drunkenly with Cedric and Cho to the tune of Daphne's song but they're not getting the words even slightly correct.

She throws her arms in the air, laughing with glee because for the first time in a long time she feels completely free. There's nothing out there to worry her right now. She feels like she can just float away and dance among the stars if she wants to. Like she could drift through space and feel the sun kiss her already dark skin even further until she's nothing more than star dust.

She feels like somebody.

So she shouts with her whole chest up to the stars above her, "I'm free and I am infinite!" in hopes that she'll be allowed to be one of them.
Draco kisses her, then, and Pansy bounds back to her to cup her face gently in her hands, and Hermione thinks that's good enough.

Her mouth is cotton dry and Hermione smacks her lips in an attempt to wet it. All that happens is she tastes her morning breath and grimaces. “Urg....” she moans, stomach both rumbling and revolting against her. She prays she doesn’t puke as she looks around the room.

She finds herself on the top of the wardrobe. The girl sits up slowly and shivers at the draft in the room. Without her shirt she’s fucking freezing. She’s not sure where her wand is nor how she’s going to get down.

Hermione glances down to the floor and snickers tiredly. There’s various bodies all on the floor. Crabbe is halfway off Flint’s bed and snoring like a freight train. She then looks down to her pants, stained with firewhisky and have a pin stuck through them. It’s poorly made but she smiles at the words.

Honerary Snaeke

Ignoring the fact that it’s spelled completely wrong and looks more like a lumpy triangle than anything else, it’s a rather cute pin. She finally begins to climb down and narrowly avoids landing on Theodore. Flint is sprawled over the slim brunet, face planted against his stomach. Theodore’s mouth is open as he snores with a bit of drool managing to leak from the corner of his mouth.

She steps over sprawled bodies, head still throbbing fiercely, and summons her wand quietly. It flies into her hand with a satisfying thwack. Then, she stumbles out into the common room and looks around blearily. It takes her a moment but she finally spots where everyone is.

Draco is on the floor but his pants are missing. There’s mud on his legs and his shirt is a little torn. Pansy’s shirt and pants are fully missing and her hair is tangled, a little twig stuck in there.

Neville is on the floor with Luna’s head resting on his chest. Blaise is clinging to them both, his fingers tangled in Luna’s hair and face buried in Neville’s shoulder. All three of them look quiet and content, and Hermione hates to burst their bubble but they have to get to freshen up before breakfast.

So, Hermione crouches before them and shakes Neville’s shoulder. He snorts, eyes snapping open and squinting at her with a little whimper.

“ head,” he groans, pressing the heel of his palms to his eyes. Hermione winces in sympathy and pats Luna’s shoulder gently to wake the tiny blonde. She smiles sleepily at Hermione then turns to Neville with a more smitten smile. Hermione shakes her head fondly.

“I know it hurts, Nev, but we need to get to breakfast. We only have twenty minutes to get cleaned up if we want to be on time.”

Neville lays on the floor with a pout for a few seconds but ultimately nods. Hermione stands and lets them shake off the tiredness. She instead hunts down Percy and soon finds him halfway out the window. She yanks him in and smirks as he wakes with a groggy moan.

His lips are smeared with lip gloss and there are hickeys decorating his throat. Around his eyes is smeared mascara that looks like it’s going to be a pain to clear away. “Get up, Perce. We’ve got to get to breakfast soon.”

Percy groans and stumbles from her grip. “G’nna be sick if I eat...” he whispers and Hermione rubs his back consolingly. She, too, feels like she’s going to hurl up her guts in a few seconds but they have to move if they want to get something to eat before their Hogsmeade trip.

They all meet together at the entrance and rush through the hallways. Percy brings back the room they had before leaving for the party in the Room of Requirement and the little group files in together.

Percy showers first, scrubbing glitter and mascara from his face and body. Hermione washes her face and brushes her teeth with Luna by her side. Neville stands out in the living room as he changes into fresh clothes. He’d used the second while they occupied the first.

Luna skips past where Neville is to take her own quick shower and Neville joins Hermione in this bathroom. Percy steps free of the shower as they all finish up and pick fresh clothes to wear.

Hermione sighs in part relief part annoyance. Her head still hurts like hell but at least she feels clean again.

Neville glances her over and a knowing smile curls on his lips. “Hermione,” he says, voice soft and amused, “you’ve got a little...” the boy gestures to his own unblemished throat and Hermione blushes, scurrying back into the bathroom where Percy stands before the mirror.


Percy's lips twitch upward at her expectant tone. "I had a good time just as you seemingly did," he tells her as he brushes his wand against his wand against his neck. The marks slowly begin to fade under the tip of his wand.

Hermione rolls her eyes and says dryly, "You know I meant who you were with, Perce."

Percy looks at her hesitantly and responds quietly, "Flint and I had a couple of drinks and..."

Hermione's face brightens and she can't help the giggles that leave her mouth. When Percy's face turns red she pulls him in a delighted hug. Percy laughs along with her as she bounces on her toes, feeling excited for the boy.

"Are you gonna see him again?" Hermione asks breathlessly as she begins to remove her own hickeys. Percy shrugs and slides his wand into his arm holster.

"Maybe. Depends on if he's interested.

Hermione nods in understanding. She says, “Perhaps he’ll ask you to Hogsmeade,” and at his dubious expression rolls her eyes and adds, “You never know!”

Percy wraps an arm around her shoulders as she finishes up her own neck. “Yes, I suppose,” he says but he sounds doubtful. Hermione huffs and adjusts her sweater and skirt. Then, she leads him into the living room area to change as she grabs her bag.

“We’ve got fifteen minutes to get something from breakfast,” Neville warns and Hermione curses, searching around the room for her shoes. Percy hops a few times to pull his slacks all the way up his legs but he buttons them and snatches his bag from off the ground.

Luna leads the way out even as Hermione stumbles to get her shoes on. “Wait up, Luna!” she calls uselessly and sighs in exasperation when she has to stop to properly put them on. After she does she runs after the group and snags Luna around the waist.

The Ravenclaw girl shrieks, laughter in her voice as Hermione chides her for leaving her behind but other than that they make it down in time to grab something quickly.

They filter into the Great Hall and Hermione immediately groans at the volume. Although she’s had time to adjust her head still hurts something fierce. They aren’t surprised to see they’ve beaten the Slytherins though. Percy immediately starts for the middle of the table but Hermione grabs his sleeve and drags him to where Ron and Harry sit near the end.

Luna takes a seat next to Hermione and Neville sits beside the blonde. “Morning, you two,” Hermione says and winces at the sound of her own voice. Percy folds his arms on the table and buries his face in them. Luna is leaning heavily on Neville and beginning to look miserable now that they’re sitting still again.

Ron looks between the four of them and shakes his head. “You all look terrible,” he comments and Harry snorts into his pumpkin juice at the bluntness. Percy glares even as his glasses are smashed against his face from his arms.

“Thank you, Ronald,” Percy says dryly and Hermione brushes her hand over his back comfortingly.

“We were up late last night. It’s been a long night of studying which something you two should be doing as well,” she says and Neville elbows her with a laugh. He leans against her and tips his mouth toward Hermione’s ear.

He murmurs, “I’m sure you did a lot of studying with Draco and Pansy.”

Hermione laughs, shoving him and smacking his arm gently. “I could say the same for you!”

Neville holds up his hands, lips curling up into a crooked grin. “I never denied it!” he cries with a laugh. Percy groans at the volume and they both wince and look to him apologetically.

“Sorry, Perce,” she says much more quietly and Neville echoes her. The red-haired boy shrugs and looks up when he smells the plate appearing before him. It’s filled with nothing but hangover food: scrambled eggs with peppers and cheese, greasy bacon (which Hermione knows isn’t usually so oily so Percy must have wanted it that way), sausages, and more. His goblet only seems to be filled with water but Hermione finds that to have been a good choice when she gets it for herself.

Harry begins to steal from her plate but Hermione allows it, tossing him a bit of bacon to watch him catch it in his mouth. She screws up her nose when Ron shovels the rest of his pancakes into his mouth but she can’t find herself to be any better. She’s starving and her stomach isn’t about to twist itself up so badly she wants to puke anymore.
That’s a win.

Five minutes into chatting and eating the Slytherins file into the hall in a cluster. Some of them wince at the lights and others at the volume. Hermione sympathizes and hopes they think of a hangover breakfast to eat. She’s sure some of them already have potions for it though and she makes a mental note to haggle with Fred and George for a few the next time they drink like this.

She’s in the middle of watching Harry and Ron make gross heart eyes at each other whenever the other isn’t looking when an arm slides around her shoulders. She startles and so do the others. Ron and Harry’s faces both turn to irritation at the sight of the culprit.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Ron grumbles and Hermione tips her head back with a curious expression on her face. Pansy stands in a pair of dark blue slacks and a slightly lighter blue blouse that leaves her shoulders uncovered. In her hands are a familiar pair of heels, the straps dangling from her fingertips.

Draco wears a simple white button up and black slacks. He doesn’t seem to have a hair out of place and there isn’t a trace of the party left over on him. Not even a little piece of glitter. Hermione looks between them both and feels the urge to run her fingers through his hair. She really, really wants to ruin their stupidly perfect selves.

“Nothing that concerns you, Weasley,” Draco says but there’s something off in his voice. Pansy steps forward and hands over Hermione’s heels.

She says, voice smooth and sending butterflies flapping around Hermione’s stomach immediately, “You left these behind, darling.”

Hermione thanks her quietly with her dark cheeks flushing the slightest bit. Draco captures her attention again, his own face reddening a bit as well.

“Do you...remember what we talked about? Right before we came back inside?”

Harry’s eyes narrow and dart between the group. “What is he talking about, ‘Mione?” he asks, voice suspicious but Hermione ignores him completely. She smiles at him softly because she does remember. There are many things about last night that are a bit of a blur but this is something she remembers clearly.

The rain was coming down in a gentle drizzle. Hermione sighed and tipped her head back to feel the coolness on her face. It was refreshingly cold after how warm things got in the Common Room, so she enjoyed the way it slid down her skin. She felt alive for the first time in a while. She’d thought maybe Ron and Harry had been right about all that shit. About needing to relax.

She remembers the way Draco had turned to the small group with such a vulnerable look on his face. His eyes had been welling up with tears and Hermione had at first bemoaned the fact that when he was really pissed he became an emotional drunk.

That wasn’t what this was about. He’d told them, voice quiet, that all he ever wanted to do was make his parents proud. The group had fallen quiet at that and Pansy grabbed Draco’s hand for support. He’d looked to her, grateful, and whispered that he wanted nothing more than his father to look upon him with pride instead of contempt. To have his mother feel he’s good enough to praise again.

Hermione hadn’t known what to do. In all her drunken eloquence she had pointed at Draco and slurred loudly, “Fuck y’r par’nts!”

Pansy immediately raised her first at her words and shouted, “Yeah, f...fuck yer parents! They’re a bunch’a assholes!”

Draco had made a cross between a sob and a laugh and told them wetly, “They just want the best for me, I know, but I-I...I think I’m suffering for it.”

Percy, with his mascara smearing (and now finding him like that earlier makes sense to Hermione) had waved his hand. Although his tone was smug his words had been kind. “Well, I find it stupid to try and please them. Their happiness isn’t your concern. Your happiness should be your priority.”

Neville had nodded along and Luna, who looked tiny in Neville’s large robes, had said to them in a knowing voice, “You’re a good person, Draco. Percy is correct here, you know? Put yourself first. That’s what my daddy tells me.”

Hermione had grabbed Draco when he’d only frowned hesitantly and told him while she’d swayed, “No, no, no! ‘peat aft’r me; my name ‘s Draco Malf’y an’ ‘m not res..respons’ble for my parents’ happiness!”

Draco had looked at her hesitantly and grimaced but eventually mumbled it out. Not satisfied, they’d all urged him to repeat it louder until there, out on the Quidditch Pitch at nearly two in the morning and completely naked like everyone sans Luna, Draco Malfoy looked like he’d believed the words he was speaking.

Hermione snaps back to reality and smiles at him. “I remember.”

Draco looks relieved and oddly vulnerable. He says, voice quiet, “Thank you for that. hasn’t cured everything, obviously, but it has helped me want to change things. So thank you.”

Hermione gets out of her seat and the chattering of the room dies down the slightest bit. Ron, Hermione, and Harry’s rivalry with Blaise, Pansy, and Draco had been legendary around the castle. Everyone knows about the fights they frequently got into, Harry and Draco the most.

They’re watching and Hermione can’t bring herself to care. She wraps him in a hug, arms around his shoulders while his own reflexively wind around her waist. Pansy watches her with a soft expression from over Draco’s shoulder and Hermione just holds him even in the shocked silence of the Great Hall.

“Don’t you dare let anyone, not even us, tell you how to be happy. Perce, Nev, Luna-we all want you to be happy. You do what feels right for you, Dray,” she says softly and Draco pulls back to search her face for a few seconds. Hermione smiles at Draco finally shoves her away with a playful scowl.

“That’s enough sappiness for today, Granger. Don’t cry on me.”

Hermione laughs and pushes him back, eyes bright with amusement. Pansy winks at her as they make their way to the Slytherin table to eat. Hermione takes her seat, tucking her returned heels down into her bag.

Ron stares at her incredulously. “What-what the hell was that?!”

Hermione can’t help her tiny smile but she shrugs casually. “We all studied together last night. He’s quite helpful, isn’t he?”

Neville nods. “He’s really good with plants, surprisingly. With the way he hates Herbology I’d think he wasn’t good at it.”

“Yeah, better than Blaise. That poor guy is hopeless when it comes to that class,” Percy comments and Hermione snickers.

“Wait, wait; can we get back to you guys being all cuddly with Malfoy?!” Ron snaps and Harry nods in agreement, glaring at Draco where he sits watching them. Pansy’s eyes track Hermione’s every movement, the slightest flush on the girl’s cheeks. Hermione subtly preens under their gazes.

“Yeah, he’s an asshole,” Harry adds.

Hermione tells them, a slight bit of irritation prickling at her, “He has his good moments, you know, in between being a little shit.”

Thankfully before the conversation can continue it’s just about time for them to head out for Hogsmeade. Hermione’s feeling lucky today.

The months fly by rather quickly. Most times the little group actually does study. Cedric Diggory joins them occasionally when he’s not busy with Quidditch, and Daphne Greengrass likes to hang around and join them most days.

Two Fridays out of the month the Slytherins throw a party. They’re always fun and they all find new ways to keep things interesting. One of those being Cedric organizing a Hufflepuff party instead one weekend. Hermione finds herself one night laying on the Quidditch Pitch again with Pansy on one side of her and Draco on the other.

Percy’s probably in the bathroom somewhere with Flint. Cedric is most likely cooped up in his dorm room with Cho, and Blaise is talking in low tones with Luna and Neville further down the pitch. They look happy, and Hermione is glad they’ve found people that understand them.

“What are we?” Pansy asks in the night air. Hermione shivers when a breeze passes over them and Pansy rubs her hands over her bare arms gently. Hermione sends her a grateful look before she finally tries to find an answer.

“Well...I like to think we’re friends,” Hermione comments and Pansy snorts, pink painted nails trailing over Hermione’s stomach.

“Friends generally don’t kiss like we do,” she says and as if to emphasize this point Pansy leans over to brush her soft lips over Hermione’s. Hermione lets out a pleased hum and urges her closer. She winds her legs around Pansy’s waist and giggles softly as they kiss.

She pulls away and licks over her lips curiously. This time, Pansy tastes like bubblegum lip gloss. “I can’t say we’re together,” Hermione says, “but I’m willing to try if you two are.”

“I’m more than willing to try, Hermione,” she chirps excitedly, grinning at the other girl. Hermione beams up at her and turns to Draco with a questioning gaze. The blond is looking between them with a complicated expression on his face.

Pansy tips her head at him silently. Draco looks away and whispers, “I...want us to be together. You both make me happy. But I just...can’t help but think things are going to end terribly for all of us.”

The dark haired Slytherin scrambles to lay herself over his body. “We’re allowed to get things wrong, you know. If things end badly then we can try and fix it.”

Draco tips his head back with a laugh. Pansy skims her lips over his throat and Hermione plasters herself to his side. “I really do want to try with you two.”

“Then we will. Hogsmeade weekend we’ll-we’ll have an official date or something. Maybe walk around and get a snack,” Draco suggests and Pansy sits up with an excited squeal. She claps her hands together.

“Oh, I’m so excited! We can go shopping, and I can take you to that lovely little shop where they made that sticky toffee pudding, and-”

Draco kisses her as she speaks and Pansy pauses her words. Hermione admires them underneath the stars, heart pounding faster at the sight of them. They are beautiful together and Hermione’s proud to say they’re hers. Somehow, they managed to get her rather fond of them.

Hermione lays under the night sky listening to the laughter of Partners. She feels content in a way she hasn’t felt in all her years on this Earth. Just her, her partners, and the stars winking at them from above...

...and Neville, Blaise, and Luna, she thinks as she hears Luna’s shrieking laughter when they begin to run around the field together.

Hermione returns to the Gryffindor common room the next morning feeling giddier than she ever has before. Percy and Neville stumble in after her in fresh clothes that they kept stashed in the Room of Requirement.

Ron is shuffling some cards idly as he and Harry talk, the two of them pressed from thigh to shoulder together. Hermione shares a knowing look with Neville and Percy just before they head up to their dorms for their bags and books. Then, she tosses herself onto the couch next to Ron with a smirk.

“Hello, lovebirds,” she sings, laying herself across their laps. Harry startles and his dark cheeks begin to redden with an embarrassed flush. Ron’s face immediately turns as red as his hair and Hermione bursts into a fit of bright laughter.

“Hermione!” they yelp together, Ron pinching her bare thigh in reprimand. She squeaks and smacks him back in the chest with a wide grin.

She smiles up at them and Harry rolls his eyes at her. “Where were you last night? Lavender said you weren’t in your bed last night,” he asks, concern clear. Hermione hums and catches his waving hand to lace through her own.

“Oh, just studying in the library,” she tells them innocently, heart beating faster at the thought of all the study that didn’t get done last night. She’s never had this much fun before and it’ll be even better once she tells the boys about her date. Right now, however, she’s not going to spoil the good moods they’re all in.

Ron rolls his eyes in exasperation. “All you do is study, Mione. You should really take a break.”

“Oh, please! I’m being productive and preparing for exams just as you boys should be doing. Exams are creeping up on us, you know!”

When both of them groan again at the mention of exams she can’t help but laugh. She’ll drag them out to the library to study for real, then stop by the kitchens and make them something nice. Blaise did find an old recipe from his grandmother for a delicious panna cotta. Maybe she could bribe the boys with food to keep them from exploding when she told them about her, Pansy, and Draco.

Hermione soon decides, as Ron begins to talk her ear off about their Quidditch game on Sunday, it won’t matter if they react badly because they’ll eventually get over it and be happy for her. They were great like that.