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Chapter 1: Who are you?
Hermione Granger ran quickly towards her last class for the day, Potions. Not often, if ever was she late for a class but nothing seemed to be going right withher life at the moment. For the first time ever she was struggling with her classes. Harry, her best friend in the entire world was handling the pressure better than she was. She was glad Ron was not doing better than her, she probably would have killed her self. Well, not killed her self but punished herself badly with words a girl her age was not supposed to know.
She stopped a foot before the clsed classroom door and composed herself. Snape was not going to be happy. Every time he had the chance he ripped into her. She knew it was just because of her heritage. Just because she was muggle born she got the worst from most of the *pure bloods* in the school but she tried hard to ignore it. It was easier with the students. She usually just got a bit of practice with her spells, revenge-wise. Hermione smiled at the thought than took a deep breath and stepped into the classroom.
"Miss Granger! How nice of you to join us," Snape said as she entered the room. "I was just in the middle of teaching my class but if you have somewhere better to be, please, I'm sorry to keep you waiting."
Hermione stared at the floor throughout Snape's speech and sat numbly in her chair when he was done. She cradled her head in her hands for a moment and willed her self not to cry, not wanting to let her hurtful classmates gain ammunition to use against her. By the time she raised her head, Snape had already forgotten her existence. The only reminder of her lecture was Harry and Ron's concerned faces staring at her from across the room. She smile at them gratefully, knowing she had two good friends to look after her, no matter what. Feeling better almost straight away, she nodded at her friends in assurance and moved her attention to the front of the class. She needed this class to keep her straight 'A' record.
“For those who were late,” Snape said pointedly, turning his back from Hermione, “We are working on Candle potions, or potions used in conjunction with candle magick. Quite simple really. You all know the power of the candle, when both lit and not, so I willing to believe you will understand the power both a potion and a candle can create. I warn you, one needs to pay attention or will suffer the consequences. For today, I will teach you a simple mind clensing spell.
“Mr Potter,” he suddenly said, not looking at the boy. None-the-less, Harry still squirmed in his seat, weary of his teacher's possible question. “Can you tell me the herb most often used in any type of clensing spell?”
Harry visibly sighed when he heard the question. This he knew.
“Sage Professor Snape.”
Snape went still for a moment. The class could tell that the teacher had not expected Harry to know the answer, even if it was one of the most common used herbs in the potion making art. Everyone knew that.
“Right. Well, yes, sage.”
Hermione could see her classmate almost laugh at the usualy high and mighty teacher put into his place, even if it was just a little. Hermione knew better. The wrath of Professor Snape was legendary. The class was lucky this one time for Snape did not seem to notice their quiet chuckles as he moved towards his cauldren.
“You will pair up. Girl with boy. I will give you a number and you will pair with the person of the same number. NO cheating, I will know.”
Hermione closed her eyes as Snape gave out the numbers. She just knew she would end up with Crab or another similiarly dumb individual who would ruin her chance at making up for this class. She felt someone pass her and a hand was placed on her head.
“10.” Snape said and moved on to the next person.
Hermione was seated at the back of the class, Harry and Ron at the front, so she could not hope that one of them would also be a number ten. Still, she squinted open her eyes and looked in their direction. Her heart sank to the floor.
Harry turned to her slowly and put up four fingers, indicating he was given the number four. He then lifted his hands in a 'sorry' gesture and moved to his partner, a pretty redhead that Hermione did not know very well. A glance at Ron revealed he was partnered with Rebecca.
Hermione sat there for a while not wanting to turn and look at the rest of the classroom but eventually gained the nerve to tilt her head and watch the other students milling around the room. To her utter relief, it seemed that both Crab and Goyle and a few other of the knuckle brains from Slytherin had gotten a different number from her. Her relief, though, was short lived. The only other unpartnered boy in the room: Draco Malfoy.
Hermione outwardly moaned and inwardly groaned as the whiteheaded boy slithered up to her. Yes, slithered. He moved like a snake and was just as deadly when provoked. The scary thing was, he was also just as deadly when he wasn't.
“Well Granger, this is going to be fun,” he said as he slide into seat next to her. Hermione sank down low in her chair, knowing that it was all a set up. She would have preferred Crab.
“Don't look so disappionted. I just know we are...”
He did not get a chance to finish. At that moment, Snape cast an attention spell, causing everyone to shut up and look to the front, whether they wanted to or not.
“Class, pay attention!”
Everyone would have laughed if they could. It was not as if they had a choice in the matter.
“This is so simple a baby could do it. Add one pinch of sage to a common potion base, which you all know how to do, brew till bubbling, pour over candle and light it. Breathing in the smoke will activate the potion. Be careful when pouring! I will not have anyone missing my class because they have broken their neck!”
At those words, the class could feel the attention spell wearing off, which was their cue to get to work. Hermione sat up in her chair and stared straight at the black cauldron, not wanting to have anything to do with her potion partner. He, though, had other plans.
“Granger, how are those Muggle parents of yours? Poor and magickless still?”
“Malfoy, I know you don't give a shit about me or my family, so could you just shut up and work.”
“Oo, I must've hit a nerve. Ouch,” he said, not obeying her shuting up command but complied with her working one. He grabbed the jar of thyme and spinkle a bit into the cauldron, making up the base potion.
“You know? I don't think we would be so bad as a pair...,” he said, his voice dripping with venom. Before he finished his sentence, he reached over the table to grab the sage, placing his hand on her thigh for mock balance. Hermione took a sharp breath, not expecting such a forward move from Malfoy. He seemed to see this and smiled, moving back into his seat to finish where he left.
“... for potions class. But, of course, you would rather go off with Potter. I realy don't see the attraction. Is it the scar or what?”
Hermione ignored him, watching the slowly boiling pot in front of her. She watched Malfoy add the sage and was stopped short by the amount he used.
“Ah, Malfoy, I think Snape said just a pinch...”
“You do don't you Mudblood?”
Hermoine turned to him at those words and stared right into his eyes.
“How dare you? You are such a... a mean, selfish.... ugly person!” she spat at him, not wanting to cry. She almost held back but the words he uttered cut so close to the bone, she could not help one single tear falling down her face.
Malfoy stared at her a moment, as if seeing her for the first time. He watched the tear roll down her porcelon skin and sink into the crevices of her slim neck. He watched and smiled. Smiled but did not say a word because if he said anymore she would start and never stop. Still, he could not resist one last barb.
As he lit the candle in front of them and lifted up the steaming potion, he said to her in a quiet voice:
“I dare because I can.”
Then, everything seemed to go in slow motion. Hermione watched as Malfoy leaned his body to pour the liquid when she realised it was all wrong. The candle was lit. By the time she shouted Malfoy's name it was too late. She watched the blue fluid cover the red flame and sensed the world collapsing around her. And then, darkness.