Bets and Realisations
Hermione Granger was huffing and panting her way along Hogsmeade Station, running as fast as her unfit legs would carry her and trying to reach the carriages before they left her behind. She had never been so late before, and she knew the reason why.
Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, enjoying their last precious moments of travelling to Hogwarts together.
They had only just left Kings Cross an hour before, and were reminiscing of their times on this train. Hermione was the person who began this conversation.
"Do you guys remember the first time we met? It was right here, in this room."
Harry immediately voiced his surprise at her statement, agreeing that this was the exact same place.
Ron took some time, still maintaining the fact that he was positive the carpet was a different colour. Hermione just rolled her eyes as Harry picked up from where she left off.
"Yeah, I remember now," he said, laughing to himself, "You barged in on us, all high and mighty! 'Have you seen this boy's toad?' I thought Neville was going to cry. Oh, and then you pointed out that Ron had dirt on his nose as you left. I've never seen his ears go so red!! Oh no, wait ... actually, I have. Plenty of times."
Hermione began to laugh as she saw the look on Ron's face. Yet again, it was rapidly turning a deep shade of marroon.
"I do not go red that often, I'll have you know!"
"Then what are you doing now?" Hermione replied, her hand stifling her giggling.
Harry was also desperately trying to hide the huge smirk on his face.
Ron saw his reflection in the window and turned red again, folding his arms across his chest.
This time, they couldn't hold it in. They both were buckled in their seats, rocking up and down with laughter. Ron was opening his mouth and then closing it again, trying to find a good comeback.
Hermione laughed harder, tears rolling down her cheeks. Ron shut his mouth in frustration.
"Oh, sod off, you two."
Harry then let out the most gigantic snort ever heard on the face of the earth and this time, Ron joined in with the laughter.
Just as they were starting to calm themselves, their compartment door was opened suddenly and Malfoy was standing there, as bold as brass. His nose was turned up in disgust and he spoke in a spiteful tone.
"Granger, you're wanted in the Prefects carriage."
He was looking right at her, scowling as she didn't stand immediately at his beckoning - and he was also blatantly ignoring the venomous glares that Harry and Ron were shooting at him.
Hermione was slightly confused: he was acting as if he hadn't seen her the other day, as if he hadn't stopped her friend from fighting and as if he hadn't spoken to her politely and with respect.
He was also back to how he had looked at school. She realised his hair was slicked back again, emphasising his pointed chin and stony grey eyes. He was wearing all black again and had a sneer painted over his face.
Not only that, but the way he had spoken to her fet familiar.
All that did was remind her of the abuse that she had went through for six years. Six whole years of fights, arguments, insults and duels.
And it was always her who came off the worst, no matter what.
Damn him! He did one good act and gave her one friendly tone, and she was going to just let him off for all those years of heartache and verbal abuse. What was she thinking?
He was the same Malfoy as he was a year ago. He would never change.
"I don't have all day you know, Granger!" Malfoy spat, starting to get angry.
Hermione growled at him loudly and got up from her seat. As she passed him in the doorway, she took care to bang into his shoulder as hard as she could, causing him to lose his footing.
This year, she thought, he would know what it was to feel like dirt. To feel like
Malfoy just stared in shock as she marched her way down the hall, not even bothering to look back. He then gathered his wits about him and followed her, finally catching up as she reached the toilets.
"What the hell was that for, Granger?"
Hermione tried her best to ignore him and continued walking as if nothing had happened. Malfoy didn't take her silence so well and he shouted.
"Don't walk away from me! I need to talk to you!"
There it was again. Hermione stopped and turned sharply, fire burning in her eyes as she stared him down.
Malfoy had slightly begun to comprehend why Hermione was so angry and tried to stop her. There was, after all, a reasonable explanation - didn't she understand why he had just done that?
"Don't you ever think that you can get away with speaking to me like that, you ungrateful little bastard!" Hermione screamed in his face, causing him to recoil a little.
"Look, Granger, I can explain - " Malfoy began, but Hermione cut him off in his stride.
"After all we've done for you, after all we've done for everyone?! It's high time you learned some respect, Malfoy, because I will no longer be the worthless piece of shit that you stamp on every day."
Malfoy's eyes were wide and his mouth was slightly open as he listened to her words, but he didn't dare reply to them. He had better let her run off some steam.
Hermione continued, this time poking her wand into his chest.
"I've had it with you and your childish attitude. And I think I speak for Harry and Ron too as I say, we want nothing more to do with you."
She stopped her ranting and made to walk away, but Malfoy, in his confusion, grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him.
"Granger, listen - "
But Hermione, with strength she never thought she had, wrenched her arm from his grasp and pushed him away so hard that he slammed into the wall opposite them. She spoke again.
"From now on, you will stay away from me and my friends or suffer the consequences. Do you understand me?"
Malfoy leaned forward defiantly, smirking and stared hard into her eyes, as if to say, "what are you going to do about it?"
Hermione grabbed his tie and pulled him closer, her wand now jabbing into the nape of his neck.
"I said, do you understand me?"
Malfoy silently cursed. He had let this go too far. There was no way she'd listen to him now.
His jaw set, he nodded the smallest nod he could muster and ripped his tie from Hermione's hand.
"I understand you perfectly."
He nodded at her and then rushed away to the Slytherin carriages, leaving Hermione gasping for breath as she realised what she had just done
Hermione reached the last carriage just in time and climbed in, her heart racing and a stitch burning in her side. She had never run so fast in her life. And Harry and Ron never got to see it. They would have been proud of her for unconsciously having some exercise.
After her angry meeting with Malfoy, she had rushed to the Prefects compartment in a state.
She had just threatened Draco Malfoy. Ex-Death Eater and a member of Slytherin. No good was going to come from this.
However, she had entered the room with full hope that, by the time she had left, her problem about being Head Girl would be solved. And it was, she supposed. Just not in the way she expected.
She had explained to all of the Prefects that she was not going to be Head Girl this year, at which they all looked slightly surprised, and some relieved.
She glared evilly at the ones who had done that.
She was about to give the reason why she had chosen that particular path, when none other than Malfoy walked in the door, closing it quietly behind him.
Of all the times he could of walked in, it had to be when she was making a speech. He merely sat down in the nearest seat and ignored her completely.
Hermione, seeing this as an opening for her explanation, made to continue, when she was, yet again, interrupted.
A 6th year Slytherin had begun to whisper to Malfoy, who was staring obliviously at the wall, obviously trying to ignore him.
Hermione was getting really annoyed now.
"Oh, please," she said, facing the boy who was talking over her, "If you have something more important to say, tell us all. You're amongst friends, are you not? Whats ours is yours. And that goes both ways."
She gave the boy a sweet smile, narrowing her eyes as she did so. The boy smirked back at her and folded his arms. He was such a Slytherin that it almost made her vomit. He smiled sweetly back before replying.
"I was simply asking Malfoy why he gave up his Head Boy badge."
Hermione's mouth dropped. No way. He was given Head Boy. Malfoy, the bloody Death Eater, was given Head Boy! What idiot gave him that position?
She choked on her words as she tried to speak. "You? You were given ... oh, for God's sake."
Malfoy's face turned into a scowl and he stood up. He walked towards her angrily.
Hermione quickly dismissed the meeting as he made his way, telling them all that she had changed her mind, and was still Head Girl. Hermione didn't understand why she had said that though.
"Yes, I was given Head Boy, Granger. Surprised? And by the way, the only reason I gave it up was because I knew I would have to share a dormitory with you."
He went to open the door again, his face incredibly flushed, when Hermione stopped him. She was feeling herself smiling slightly.
"Of course, Malfoy. You knew I was going to be picked, didn't you? Apparently, having the embarassment of me beating you in every class is enough punishment - having me beat you in Head Duties would make things ten times worse. I bet you wouldn't last two days as Head Boy anyway."
Malfoy froze, his hand on the door handle. He turned smoothly, his eyebrows raised and his arms folded.
"You bet? Okay then, I'll hold you to that bet, Granger. I bet that I can last the whole year as Head Boy. That's right. I will not get into trouble, I will not abuse my position and on top of that ... I will beat you in every single class you and I share together. Sound fair?"
Hermione was shocked when she heard his proposition at first. But then, the more she thought about it, the more it made sense.
This was her chance to get back at Malfoy. If she could prove that she had more brains than him, he would feel as low as is humanly possible. Beaten by a muggleborn? No, this was too good an opportunity to pass down.
And in that second, her anger with him was forgotten.
"I'd say that sounds fair enough, Malfoy. If I can prove by the end of this year that I am cleverer than you, which I'm pretty sure will happen considering I have the past 7 years, then you will carry the heavy burden of knowing that a Mudblood is better than you. And I will have the happy satisfaction of being able to make you feel that way. And if you win, which I doubt, then you will have the knowledge that you are smarter than the brightest witch of the age. Is that agreeable to you?"
Malfoy smirked broadly.
"Bring it on, Granger."
"Welcome students of Hogwarts, to a brand new year, bringing along with it, the beginning of a new age."
Professor McGonagall stood at the podium where Dumbledore used to stand every year, ready to give her first announcement.
"I would just like to advise our new students, and remind our old students, of some rules. The Forest located near the edge of the Black Lake is strictly forbidden. Any entry into that forest will result in a month's detention."
Her beady eyes surveyed the hall and picked out the people who were most likely to do so. Including Harry, Ron and Hermione.
Oliver Wood smiled to himself as he vaguely pictured a pair of red-headed twins sneaking from that exact place not too long ago. The very thought made him chuckle quietly with laughter.
"Also," McGonagall continued, "A new list has been erected by Mr Filch of the objects which are banned in this castle. The full list can be found outside Mr Filch's office. That includes all products hailing from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes."
She blinked quickly, as if she had something in her eye but then continued.
"Now, it is my duty to inform you that, due to popular demand, Quidditch has now been added to the schools curriculum. Meaning that it is a compulsory class, included in all of your timetables."
There was an outbreak of cheers throughout the hall from the boys accompanied by the moans and groans of the girls. It was a laughable sight.
"This has entitled us to hire new members of staff to accomodate this. I would like to introduce first of all, your new Assistant Coach, Quidditch Commentator and 1st - 3rd year teacher. Mr Cormac McLaggen."
Hermione frowned as he stood up, waving to the gaggle of screaming girls that had congregated at the end of each of the house tables. He winked and smiled at them (making the screaming worse) and then sat back in his seat.
He caught Hermione's eye as the applause died down but she swiftly looked away.
"Next, we have your new Head Coach, Referee and 4th- 7th year teacher, Mr Oliver Wood."
The Gryffindor table burst into rapturous applause at the mention of his name, and everyone sitting there was stamping their feet, shouting and cheering as loud as they could.
Everyone knew what impact Oliver Wood had had on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and it was never forgotten.
Oliver stood, feeling slightly overwhelmed at the reception he was given.
He recognised Harry and Ron's faces in the crowd, who were encouraging everyone to follow their lead and stamp their feet on the floor. He blushed profusely and waved his hand at them. The applause grew louder.
He saw Hermione sitting across from the two boys, clapping as hard as they were, but facing him instead. She flashed a smile at him, rolled her eyes and nodded towards them.
He grinned back at her feverishly but looked away again as he felt a strange churning in his stomach. He discarded it, thinking it was only his food.
After a while, Oliver sat back down and Professor McGonagall rose, her face giving the impression that she didn't approve of the Gryffindors over enthusiastic appreciation of their former Quidditch Captain. She quietened everyone down and continued.
"Lastly, it is my pleasure to introduce our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, William Weasley."
Hermione's eyes shot to a man sitting on the far right of the table, a man with dark red hair pulled back into a ponytail and a familiar fang hanging from his ear.
She was shocked. She never knew Bill was coming to teach.
She turned to Harry and Ron, expecting her look of shock to be mirrored on their faces, but instead, she found them shouting and clapping along with everyone else.
"Did you know about this!" she yelled over the noise.
Harry and Ron both turned to her, comprehension dawning on their faces. They had clearly forgotten to tell her. Ron explained the situation.
"Sorry, Hermione, we just forgot. I suppose it was all the drama of it being the end of the War and all. But yeah, Bill applied in July and got a letter back saying he was accepted. There were no other applicants though. Weird, eh?"
But Hermione still didn't understand. Bill had no training - he was a Gringotts Curse Breaker, not a teacher.
Harry answered that one for her.
"Yeah, that's what I thought, too, but Bill told us that the only way to get into the business was to take a Defence Against the Dark Arts course at the Ministry. Apparently, that course can pass as a teaching degree for that subject as well."
Hermione was impressed. She had no idea that Bill had even the slightest desire in becoming a teacher.
As he sat down again after the applause, McGonagall spoke.
"Your timetables will be given out tomorrow morning at breakfast. Our last piece of news will be given by our new Head Coach. Mr Wood, please take the floor."
Oliver felt that he was prepared for this, so he rose from his seat confidently and walked over to the podium. Everyone was listening attentively.
"Thank you, Professor. Now, all of you who wish to try out for your House Quidditch Teams must register your names on the notice boards in your common rooms or inform your team captains. This year, they are Harry Potter for Gryffindor, Ernie MacMillan for Hufflepuff, Terry Boot for Ravenclaw and Blaise Zabini for Slytherin. I'd like you to note that first years are now allowed to sign up for their teams, since I will be overseeing all tryouts.
"The new Quidditch course at Hogwarts will consist of two main parts. We will be taking this very seriously and hope that the girls put in as much enthusiasm as the boys. Basically, I will be teaching the more advanced side of Quidditch to 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th years, focusing on what it is like to be in a real Quidditch team. We may have little tournaments now and again, just for fun. But the other side, which will be taken by McL- I mean, Mr McLaggen, is focusing more on the basics of Quidditch.
"These courses will include a small amount of writing, which may horrify some of you, but just be prepared for a more theoretical side of Quidditch than you expected. I will also be taking orders for broomsticks during the next two weeks, so if anyone would like a discount on a new brand, then come and see me and I will get that sorted for you. Thank you."
Everyone applauded politely as he returned to the staff table. McGonagall rose once more.
"Prefects, if you could please lead the first years to their dormitories immediately. And if the Head Girl and Head Boy would please stay behind for a few moments as well. You may go."
There was an enormous scraping as the entire hall cleared table by table, yawning and chatting heard over everything else.
Hermione stayed behind and waited until the Gryffindor table was completely empty and then she made her way up to the Staff Table, where she was watched by Oliver and McLaggen.
She felt Malfoy come up beside her and she turned to him and smiled as they walked towards the staff.
"Prepare for making the biggest mistake of your life, Malfoy. There's no way in the world you are going to beat me this year."
Malfoy neither smirked nor scowled, but she noticed a familiar malicious gleam come into his eye as he replied scathingly.
"Well, I'd think again, Granger. With the addition of our new Quidditch programme, I highly doubt you'll be winning any bets this year. Especially since the Slytherins are paired with the Gryffindors in classes."
Hermione gasped audibly, not having even thought of what this would do to her chances. What had she gotten herself into?
But before she could retort, they had reached McGonagall, who came down from the Staff Table.
Oliver who was sitting on her left, waved cheerfully at Hermione, who waved back. He mouthed for her to wait on him afterwards. She nodded just before McGonagall began.
"I'm sure you two weren't exceptionally pleased with the arrangements for this year, but quite frankly, you were the most highly recommended candidates. And your grades aren't that far apart either. However, this year, you two are being given extra responsibilities."
They both listened, Hermione intently, Malfoy carelessly, as she explained the rules of being Heads. Night time patrols, prefect meetings and organisation of clubs were all covered.
She then asked if they had any further questions, which they didn't, so they both headed towards the Entrance Hall.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow, Granger, " Malfoy said, a small smile playing on his lips, "Our first class will be rather interesting, don't you think?"
He then turned to go towards the Slytherin Dungeons, leaving Hermione alone to walk towards the Marble Staircase, where Oliver was waiting for her.
"Hi," he said, as she reached him, giving her a swift hug, "How was your ride here?"
Hermione laughed gently. "It was ... eventful. But that's for another time."
Oliver laughed in return. "Yeah, when I heard that Malfoy bloke was Head Boy, I could just picture the look on your face. I take it you weren't too happy then."
"Not exactly, " Hermione chuckled back, as they climbed the second floor staircase, "By the way, great start of term speech. Really got the momentum going at the Gryffindor table, for sure."
Oliver groaned slightly and ran a hand through his hair.
"Was it that bad?"
"Oh, no!" Hermione said, "I didn't mean it like that. It was really good, honestly. I think you're going to do great. I mean, you were the best Captain we ever had."
Oliver blushed again.
"Stop it, Hermione," he said, "I wasn't that good. I'm sure Harry's a lot better than me."
Hermione put on a look of mock confusion on her face.
"Well, he doesn't try to drown himself every time we lose a match. I suppose that's being better, isn't it?"
Hermione ran across the 7th floor corridor as Oliver chased after her, a look of half anger, half happiness on his face.
Then, as he caught up with her, she tripped over her own feet, landing flat on her back. Oliver followed suit, crashing into her and dropping to the ground.
They both lay there laughing like hyenas, tears running down their cheeks, having an unbelievably fun time.
Then Hermione suddenly realised something. She was lying in the middle of a corridor, and a teacher was on top of her.
She scrambled up from the floor and dusted down her robes, feeling extremely uncomfortable with what had just happened.
Oliver raised himself from the floor too, a puzzled look on his face.
"Are you okay, Hermione?" he said, "Did I do something wrong?"
Hermione shook her head, smiling at him softly.
"No, it's just that ... you're a teacher. I'm a student. We shouldn't be doing stuff like this. And we certainly shouldn't be calling each other by our first names. It's improper."
"Oh, come on," Oliver replied, scoffing and shaking his head, "I know that, Hermione. But we were friends first, weren't we? That doesn't need to stop just because I'm teaching you."
"Look," Hermione whispered, checking around her to make sure no one was watching them, "I understand where you're coming from. But this is a school, and if we're seen gallavanting around with each other like that ... well, people will talk. You are a teacher."
Hermione stopped talking, as Oliver's face drained of colour and he looked sad. She hated it when he was sad.
"I know ... I mean, I understand," Oliver said, running a hand through his hair again, "It's just hard to believe that I'm not a student. If that makes sense. I figured that, since I was back here, it meant I could do everything that I used to do. That it'd be like old times again. But I suppose you're right, Hermione. Times have changed."
Hermione put her hand on his arm and gave him a half smile.
"It's okay. Anyway, I need to go to bed now, make sure there aren't any night hawks still out of bed. I'll see you tomorrow though, in class. And we can still talk at the weekend."
Oliver nodded sadly as she walked off, giving him another wave as she rounded the corner to the common room. That familiar feeling was in his stomach once more, but this time, it felt more empty than anything. It felt horrible.
He sighed and made his way to his office. His office. He didn't like that thought at all. Why did he feel so incomplete? He had everything he wanted. Didn't he?
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has left a review: miss phoenixfeather, hprbdfan, JKRowlingFan22, ericajen, iscreamdraco, twilight banned, BehindtheMask and cullens pet. You guys are the best, thanks a lot!